Author: Kurt Helin

Carmelo Anthony

Carmelo Anthony on change in Knicks: “There’s no bad energy flowing through our team”

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The Knicks are off to a nice little 2-1 start, with quality wins over the Cavaliers and Hornets. This is a team that has a rough first seven games but so far, so good.

What’s different from last season, one Knicks fans would like to erase from their memories?

Primarily attitude and energy of the staff and organization, so basically everything, if you ask Carmelo Anthony, as he told the New York Post. He would know as he was there last year then chose to stay as a free agent (and cash some very big checks) rather than chase wins elsewhere.

“I knew it was different the first day we stepped into training camp,” said Anthony after the Knicks prepared in Tarrytown for Tuesday’s Garden game with the Wizards. “Just the culture and the atmosphere that’s here. The mindsets of people — not just the players, but the coaches and the staff. How positive everybody was.

“There’s no bad energy flowing through our team, the organization right now. That’s always a big key when you have that kind of atmosphere around.”

The old “bad Juju” excuse.

Anthony was quick to say this was not about players have moved on — Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton, among others — and saying it was just the vibe as a whole. I think part of that is the change in coaching styles between Derek Fisher and Mike Woodson.

But really, this goes back to Phil Jackson and a new top-down direction and approach. He is keeping James Dolan at arm’s length (for now). He is setting a new tone, one bathed on a positive glow.

It’s a start, and the Knicks are off to a good one.

Jeremy Lin waves off Kobe Bryant in game, Kobe loves it

Los Angeles Clippers v Los Angeles Lakers
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With 4:40 left the fourth quarter of the Lakers/Clippers game Friday night the score was tied. Jeremy Lin had the ball out top and waived off a Carlos Boozer pick, directed traffic and called for Kobe Bryant to come out and set the pick. Kobe did, Chris Paul switched on to Lin and Kobe had a nice mismatch with J.J. Redick on him, but Lin opted for a leaning, contested three over CP3. Which he drained (putting the Lakers up three at the time, they eventually lost the game).

After the game, Kobe was asked about that play… and he loved it.

Kobe praised Lin for the play, speaking to Baxter Holmes of ESPNLosAngeles.com.

“You have to be able to assert yourself, especially on a team that I’m playing on — especially on a team I’m playing on,” Bryant said with some added emphasis. “Because I don’t want chumps, I don’t want pushovers, and if you’re a chump and a pushover, I will run over you….

“It’s like,” Bryant said during his postgame news conference, then leaned forward and pounded his fist on the table, “you’ve got to put your mark down, man.”

“At some point, you’ve got to piss on the fire hydrant.”

I’m fairly confident Kobe never referred to himself as a fire hydrant before.

Not surprisingly, Kobe has always favored his fearless and aggressive teammates, even when that led to bad shots. He loved Derek Fisher. He loved Shannon Brown. He loved guys that played aggressive and would shoot the rock even when someone else may have had a better look, because Kobe wants guys to be aggressive and step up.

Lin is aggressive to a fault. That’s why he’s in the NBA, he likes to go right, he likes to attack hard off the pick, and his jumper has improved. He’s a solid NBA rotation guard now, which on this Lakers team makes him one of their better players.

And Kobe likes him, which could keep him around for a while.

Klay Thompson drops 41 points in just 18 shots on Lakers (VIDEO)

Los Angeles Lakers v Golden State Warriors
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Someone finally shook some sense into Golden State ownership and they paid the man — ownership apparently was the holdup in giving Klay Thompson, the guy they wouldn’t trade for Kevin Love, max money.

He responded with his best night ever as a Warrior (even though the big checks don’t flow until next season).

Thompson dropped 41 points on what passes for the Lakers’ defense, doing so in just 18 shots Saturday night. How did he do it? Thompson was 5-of-7 from three and 9-of-10 in the paint, while avoiding the midrange. Also he got to the free throw line nine times.

Combined, the Splash Brothers put up 72 points hitting 53% from three. Needless to say, the Warriors won handily (they are 2-0, the Lakers start 0-4).

Impressive. But you get he feeling a lot of guys might have career nights against the Lakers this season.

LeBron James’ powder toss returns to Cleveland (VIDEO)

New York Knicks v Cleveland Cavaliers
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Yes, Jordan and others did it before, but the powder toss has become a LeBron James signature.

And it’s back in Cleveland to the delight of Cavs fans.

Unfortunately for Cavs fans, the toss and all the other pregame hype were the best parts of the game. On the court, the Cavaliers showed that they have some work to do.

Thursday night NBA Winners/Losers: The injury gods show Thunder no mercy

Oklahoma City Thunder v Portland Trail Blazers
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Every night the NBA can be a cold hard reality — there are winners, there are losers. It’s the nature of the game. We know you are busy and can’t keep up with every game, so we’re here to bring you the best and worst of the NBA each week night. Here’s what you missed while watching Kendrick Lamar perform before the Cavs game…

source:  Russell Westbrook and Oklahoma City Thunder. I don’t know what the Thunder players did in their past lives to bring this kind of injury Karma with them this season, but it must have been nasty. They key for the Thunder is they are now 0-2 on the young season and the next month or so is going to be rough. Russell Westbrook hurt his right hand in the second quarter, going up for a rebound he seemed to catch his hand in the jersey of Kendrick Perkins (or somehow make contact) and after that he took himself out of the game not to return. Not sure how long he’ll be out but with Kevin Durant, Reggie Jackson, Jeremy Lamb among others the Thunder are getting short of bodies. Bottom line if you have to play Sebastian Telfair 37 minutes you are in trouble in the NBA (although to their credit the Thunder fought hard to stay in it and were not blown out).

source:  The New York Knicks. I’ll take some crow. Thursday afternoon I wrote the Knicks were the sacrificial lamb to the LeBron James homecoming show. New York was simply a role player. Except they refused to be. Carmelo Anthony led the way with an efficient night on the second game of a back-to-back — 26 points with a true shooting percentage of 62 percent (he was 7-of-10 on uncontested looks, that he got 10 clean shots speaks to the Cavs defense), plus ‘Melo dished out 6 assists, and he hit the dagger with LeBron James in his face. They moved the ball, with assists on 3o of their 37 buckets. The Knicks as a team had an offensive rating of 110.6 on the night. Give credit where it’s due, the Knicks refused to play the role of patsy and picked up a nice win.

source:  LeBron James. He was tight. He clearly felt the expectations and the hype in Cleveland — they had street parties going on in downtown, there were concerts, the stars were out, Nike had a new ad, and the city was there for a coronation. LeBron clearly felt the weight of all of it. He was 5-of-15 shooting, he had four assists and eight turnovers. Look at this shot chart:

source:

It doesn’t mean anything going forward. He’s still the best player on the planet, the Cavaliers are still title contenders. But for one night, a big night, LeBron simply was not good.

source:  City of Cleveland. Sure, the Cavaliers lost when nobody expected them to. So what? Good teams lose to bad teams (remember the second game of last season the Heat lost to the 76ers). The fact of the matter is Cleveland is back — on the court and off. Thursday was more than a celebration of LeBron, it was a celebration of home. Of Cleveland. LeBron returned and brought energy and excitement with him. This is going to be a great season and this one game means nothing in the grand scheme of things.

source:  John Wall, Washington Wizards. While everyone else was watching Cleveland, Wall went out and put up elite point guard numbers — 30 points on 21 shots, with 11 of those points coming in a strong third quarter for Washington (one where Wall was active on defense and took a charge). Down the stretch is was Wall and Paul Pierce making plays to get Washington another win. If Wall keeps playing like this they will pick up a lot of them.