Kurt Helin

Jeremy Lamb, Bobby Portis

Hot-shooting Hornets hammer Bulls 130-105 for 1st victory

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Jeremy Lamb scored 20 points on 9-of-10 shooting, Nicolas Batum added 18 and the Charlotte Hornets cruised to their first victory of the season, 130-105 over the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday night.

Jeremy Lin had 15 points, Al Jefferson had 14 and Spencer Hawes chipped in with 13 on three 3-pointers as the hot-shooting Hornets shot 14 of 22 from beyond the arc and made 22 of 23 free throws.

The Hornets (1-3) led by as many as 27 in the second quarter after starting the game by hitting 13 of 18 shots from the field and all 11 foul shots in the first quarter. The Bulls never mounted a serious challenge.

Jimmy Butler led the Bulls (3-2) with a season-high 26 points on 10-of-16 shooting, while Doug McDermott added 17 points.

The Hornets were coming off back-to-back losses to the Atlanta Hawks, games in which Kemba Walker failed to make the tying shot at the end of regulation.

They didn’t need a last-second shot on Tuesday night. Everything seemed to be falling for the Hornets.

Even the team mascot, wearing a thick Hornets costume, made an over-the-shoulder shot from midcourt during a break in the action in the fourth quarter to the delight of the home crowd.

With team owner Michael Jordan sitting on the end of the team bench, the Hornets tailed 100 points in the first three quarters, the most points allowed during that span by the Bulls since 1990.

Charlotte did it with good ball movement and quality shooting from everyone, including 7-footers Hawes and Frank Kaminsky, who were a combined 4 of 4 from beyond the arc. The Hornets played near flawless ball on offense and the Bulls were slow to get a hand up on open shooters. Charlotte made them pay, knocking down shot after shot from long distance.

TIP-INS

Bulls: The Bulls committed 13 turnovers that led to Charlotte 20 points. … Pau Gasol had 13 points and eight rebounds.

Hornets: Cody Zeller needed eight stitches on his forehead after catching an elbow from Joakim Noah on a rebound, but did return. … Walker moved into a tie for fourth place on 3-point field goals made in Hornets history.

 

Raptors admit Terrence Ross extension is “betting on the person”

Evan Turner, Terrence Ross
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A lot of heads were shaking when it was announced Raptors backup wing Terrence Ross — they guy the team went out and got DeMarre Carroll to replace in the starting lineup — had reached a three-year, $33 million contract extension with the Raptors.

If there was one word that sums up Ross’ career, it’s inconsistent. The talent is there — remember this guy dropped a 51 point game a couple of years ago — but who just doesn’t bring it night in and night out. So why so much money?

While part of it is a function of the new NBA economics, part of it was they are betting on him taking steps forward, reports Mike Ganter the Toronto Sun.

“What we’re doing is betting on the person,” Raptors vice-president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman said Tuesday in Dallas following the team’s morning shootaround. “We’re saying all the ingredients are there, the development curve is heading in the right direction and we’re betting that he’s going to continue along that path…

“Any time you have a rookie contract the guys, just by definition, are at a stage in their career where they’re probably yet to realize their potential so you’ve got to find that middle ground between where you think the player will go and where he is now,” Weltman said. “That’s why a lot of extensions don’t get done.

“But, yeah, we like to feel we’ve found some middle ground with Terrence where we’re paying him in the hope that he becomes a great player and we think he has that in him.”

That’s a big bet.

But it’s the economics of the NBA right now, $11 million will be about the going rate for a sixth man in a couple of seasons (when the salary cap will be at $108 million or higher). If the Raptors believe he can be that guy, it’s a fair contract. Plus, they have to spend up to 90 percent of the cap anyway, they have money to throw around.

I’m more in the doubter camp he gets there, but he’s just 24 and improving. Through three games this season, Ross is averaging 12.3 points a game and shooting 46 percent from three. With Carroll taking his starting spot, they are hoping Ross embraces and thrives the role of sixth man. They want someone willing to come in and score. We’ll see. While he’s had a good start to this season he’s been so inconsistent over his career you just wait for the other shoe to drop.

But the Raptors have made their bet.

Emmanuel Mudiay using Lakers’ “snub,” Scott’s words as motivation

Emmanuel Mudiay, Karl-Anthony Towns
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With the No. 2 pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, the Los Angeles Lakers selected point guard D'Angelo Russell of Ohio State.

Another point guard who had at one point been higher on most draft boards, Emmanuel Mudiay (who played that season before in China), was worked out by the Lakers, but they liked what they saw in Russell better. Mudiay fell to the Denver Nuggets at No. 7. Tuesday night the Nuggets take on the Lakers in L.A.

Lakers coach Byron Scott was asked Tuesday why the Lakers passed on Mudiay, and while he said he thought Mudiay would be “pretty good,” here is the heart of his response, via Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News.

“I didn’t think he was a true point guard,” Scott said of Mudiay. “I didn’t think he was a guy who made great decisions when we saw him and had him here. I thought that was something he would have to learn to do to run that position.”

He was just answering a question, but you have to wonder why Scott would actually say that and provide motivation for an opponent. You know the comments would be passed along to Mudiay, who just added it to the fuel for his fire.

“They passed up on me; that’s definitely a motivation,” Mudiay told Los Angeles News Group after morning shootaround at Westchester High School. “They took another point guard ahead of me. I’m a point guard. So I guess they saw something in [Russell] that they didn’t see in me…

“That’s another human’s opinion,” Mudiay said. “I’m not worried about him. I just have to worry about what I do and worry about the Denver Nuggets.”

Right now, Mudiay is ahead of Russell on the learning curve. Mudiay has a more NBA ready body, plus he played for a season against professionals and men over in China, while Russell is still adapting from the college game to the NBA. Neither player is shooting well (both are under 37 percent) and both are turning the ball over way more than you would like. That’s to be expected. Mudiay has been given the keys to the Nuggets offense and has his hand on the flow of the offense much more than Russell now (who has to share the ball with Jordan Clarkson and Kobe Bryant), but both are trying to pick up the game.

Mudiay impressed me at Summer League, I think he can develop into a special player. With Russell, it’s far too early to say, he needs more time as he tries to catch up with the speed of the game. It’s impossible to say right now with any real certainty which of these two point guards will be the better player in three years.

But the Lakers have bet more heavily as an organization on Russell — he was their highest draft pick since James Worthy. They need him to be a franchise cornerstone player, they passed on Jahlil Okafor, Stanley Johnson, Mudiay, and others to take him, they need him and Julius Randle (who has impressed) to be the real deal.

If in three years if Mudiay has everyone saying “how did they pass on him?” it will be a big setback for the Lakers.

Warriors’ Andre Iguodala has best bench celebration this season

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That. Is. Awesome.

The Golden State Warriors have had a lot of big shots to celebrate this young season, but nobody is celebrating them as well as Andre Iguodala on that play. I’m not even sure what to call that, but it’s awesome.

We’ll see if he gets a chance to whip that dance out against the Clippers Wednesday.

Hat tip to NBA.com for the video.

Oddsmakers say George Karl, Lionel Hollins coaches on hottest seats

George Karl, Rajon Rondo
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It’s inevitable. Some team is going to get off to a slow start, ownership/top management will be looking for a scapegoat, and a coach will get fired in the middle of the season. Even though the guys swinging the axe are more likely at fault for the team’s problems than the guy on the receiving end.

But who’s it going to be?

The oddsmakers at Bovada have put a number on it.

George Karl (SAC) 14/5
Lionel Hollins (BRK) 3/1
Derek Fisher (NYK) 4/1
Byron Scott (LAL) 4/1
Randy Wittman (WAS) 5/1
Steve Clifford (CHA) 7/1
David Blatt (CLE) 8/1
Dwane Casey (TOR) 10/1

If I were you, I would not bet on Karl. Despite all the volatile personalities in Sacramento and the early issues between Karl and DeMarcus Cousins, things are pretty stable, and everyone’s on the same page right now. The Kings are playing fairly well; they’ve just had a rough schedule to start the season (the Clippers twice). Now Cousins is going to miss a couple of games, and the losses will put some strain on the team, but I don’t see Karl going away in the short-term. Unless Vivek Ranadive has decided it’s time to install another new system in Sacramento (they have stuck with this one for six months now).

Also, Wittman isn’t going anywhere in Washington because owner Ted Leonsis isn’t one to pay two coaches at a time. Things are going well in Cleveland and Toronto, their coaches are safe right now.

After that, however, there are some names on that list where the seat has to already feel warm.