Tag: Joe Johnson

Derrick Rose, Elfrid Payton, Tobias Harris, Dewayne Dedmon

Five Things We Learned in NBA Wednesday: Derrick Rose is back but Bulls are not


If you watch closely every night in the NBA you can learn a little something. We know you are busy and can’t keep up with every game, so we’re here to help with those lessons from another night in the Association. Here’s what you missed while casting your ballot for a dead man

1) Derrick Rose is back, but Bulls lose ugly while Toronto passes them in standings. Derrick Rose is back. That should have been good news for Chicago — Paul George returned to Indiana and you saw every other Pacer player pick up their game in respose. The Bulls with Rose? Not even close. First off, Rose was settling for jumpers and ended up scoring 9 points on 9 shots, going 1-of-6 from three. But nobody else picked up their game for the Bulls — Joakim Noah and Pau Gasol got outplayed by Nikola Vucevic, who had 22 points and 7 boards. Nikola Mirotic was 3-of-11. The Bulls led by 15 in the second quarter but their defense still isn’t Thibodeauesque and they just can’t hold those leads. Chicago’s habit of playing to the level of their competition caught up with them again, capped off by Victor Oladipo hitting the game winner.

Meanwhile, Toronto trounced fading Charlotte, and with that the Raptors and Bulls are tied for the 3/4 seeds in the East — with Toronto having the tie breaker. Toronto does not have an easy schedule in its final four (three on the road), and the Bulls got Rose back, but unless that translates into better play the Bulls may fall into a tougher first round matchup.

2) Cleveland is locked in to the two seed in the East. Milwaukee was hanging with Cleveland on Wednesday night; they are not a team that rolls over and were within two (99-97) with :30 seconds left. Then LeBron stuck the dagger in the Bucks, hitting a contested three over Jared Dudley. Ballgame. With that, the Cavs locked up the two seed. Cleveland has 50 wins, enough to have them home against everyone in the East save Atlanta. However, they are not going to have home court in the Finals against anybody in the West, unless the Pelicans surprise us all.

3) New Orleans falls flat in Memphis, now tied with Oklahoma City for final playoff spot in West. Tuesday night the Pelicans had us believing — they beat Golden State and jumped up to the eight seed in the West. But a back-to-back against the stingy defense of Memphis brought the Pelicans crashing back to reality — the Pelicans shot 28-of-80 as a team (35 percent) and that ended about as well as you’d expect. With the loss, the Pelicans are tied with the Thunder for the last playoff spot in the West. New Orleans has the tie breaker but OKC has one team over .500 left on their roster, New Orleans has two. This could go down to the final day.

4) Brooklyn stumbles, Boston wins and the race for eight out East gets even tighter. Brook Lopez keeps putting up numbers — 26 points, 10 rebounds, three blocks — but they couldn’t get stops against the Hawks. Joe Johnson missed a three and a chance to force OT, so the Nets fell to the Hawks 114-111. Meanwhile, Boston got 34 points from Isaiah Thomas and picked up a key win. So here is where we stand as of today: Boston and Brooklyn are tied for the 7/8 seeds at 36-42, with both Miami and Indiana one game behind them. This remains one of the best races to watch the final week of the season (along with 2-6 in the West and the Pelicans/Thunder).

5) The Spurs just keep on rolling right into the playoffs. San Antonio would like to say all your playoff seeding and efforts are moot — they have won nine in a row, all by at least 12 points. Since the end of the rodeo road trip, they are 17-3 (and two of those losses were in OT). Kawhi Leonard is playing like a Top 10 guy. Tony Parker is getting in the lane. They rolled James Harden and Houston on Wednesday. The defending champs are back, and Gregg Popovich is having fun on the sidelines.

Report: Many NBA executives expect Brook Lopez to opt out this summer

Brook Lopez

Strike while the iron is hot.

It’s not just a phrase for medieval blacksmiths, it can apply to NBA free agency as well. While many potential free agents are eyeing being available come 2016 — when the salary cap will jump by $23 million or so — but if you’ve had a really good 2015, it might be better to get max now then bet on being in the same hot spot a year from now.

Enter Brooklyn’s Brook Lopez.

After years of battling injuries, he’s been largely healthy this season and been on fire since the All-Star break. In his last 10 games, he’s averaging 25.6 points per game on 60.2 percent shooting, plus he’s doing better on the boards grabbing 8.8 a game. He’s the two-time Eastern Conference Player of the Week and is the reason the Nets are likely a playoff team.

And he’s likely to strike while the iron is hot, reports Zach Lowe at Grantland.

Most execs expect Lopez to opt out and enter free agency after rampaging across the league over the last month.

Lopez will likely draw max offers, with teams thinking that what is a max salary for him this summer doesn’t look too bad a year later when the cap space spikes. (A number of guys are going to get paid this summer on that theory.)

Lopez is set to make $16.7 million with the Nets, and they will have to decide whether to pay him big if he opts out — they already have both Joe Johnson ($24 million) and Deron Williams ($21 million) on the books and will likely need to try and retain both Lopez and Thaddeus Young. They likely will not pay for all of that.

Meaning Lopez could be on the move, and some big markets might drool over the chance to add him.


Five Things We Learned in NBA Tuesday: Golden State exposed Clippers’ defense

Matt Barnes, Stephen Curry

If you watch closely every night in the NBA you can learn a little something. We know you are busy and can’t keep up with every game, so we’re here to help with those lessons from another night in the Association. Here’s what you missed while…

1) In a game the Clippers needed more they couldn’t hold off Warriors, and it’s not a good sign. The showcase game on Tuesday started out kind of how we expected  — the Clippers were playing with the desperation of a team fighting for its playoff seeding, the Warriors (without Draymond Greed) were playing like a team that wrapped up the top seed and really didn’t want to get hurt. The Clippers led by as many as 17 in the second quarter. Los Angeles had won seven in a row, and it looked like it would become eight.

However, the Clippers have a couple troubling flaws, and those were exposed in this game — and they are why the Clippers ended up losing 108-104. First is their often discussed lack of depth — Doc Rivers has to lean heavily on his starters, and they need Jamal Crawford back. You can say “come the playoffs that won’t matter much because of the time off” and you’re right in one sense. But that lack of depth limits the team’s flexibility — Golden State can attack you a lot of ways. The Clippers can’t.

But the bigger issue is this: The Clippers are not a great defensive team. They have been much better during the recent run of wins, but if you look at their last 10 games they are allowing 103,1 points per 100 possessions, 13th in the NBA. They are not in the Top 10 for the season. They are average or a little above. In this game the Warriors had an offensive rating of 111 (points per 100), and while Golden State has one of the top couple offenses in the league — and Klay Thompson went off in the second half — the Clippers could not get needed stops. The Warriors, on the other hand, could — Los Angeles shot 3-of-13 in the fourth quarter. If the Clippers get the Spurs in the first round, a real possibility, the depth and defense could be big trouble.

2) Are you going to guard Stephen Curry? Good luck. He’s a walking video game. Chris Paul is the best defensive point guard in the NBA and CP3 got dropped.

3) Blake Griffin had a monster game for Clippers. Blake Griffin could win an MVP one year, he is that good, that complete. Tuesday night he dropped 40 points on 16-of-25 shooting, plus had 12 boards. The Warriors were without Draymond Green, who usually gives Griffin trouble, and Griffin took advantage of the space.

4) We may have to watch the Nets in the playoffs. Lord help us all. The Nets have won four in a row, eight of 10, and now have moved back into the eight seed in the East. Tuesday night Brook Lopez went off for 24 points, and grabbed 11 rebounds, to help the Nets hold on for a 111-106 win over Indiana. The Nets led by 17 early in the second quarter, gave it all back, and had to scrap for the victory. Joe Johnson made key plays in the fourth quarter when they needed it. The Nets look like a team that will make the postseason. Somehow.

5) Kawhi Leonard is a stud, and the Spurs are rolling. It’s not so much that San Antonio flipped the switch as they just got healthy, but they look like the Spurs everyone should fear again. They manhandled Miami 91-75, and Leonard had 22 points on 13 shots, plus nine boards and a few assists. But what he really did is lock down the red-hot Dwyane Wade, who shot just 6-of-20 on the night. Fear this team come the playoffs.

Report: Mikhail Prokhorov no longer working with bank to sell Nets

Mikhail Prokhorov

Mikhail Prokhorov was reportedly working with a bank to sell the Nets.

No longer.

Darren Rovell of ESPN:

Brooklyn Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov has ended his agreement with investment bank Evercore Partners, who he hired to explore a sale of the team, banking sources told ESPN.com on Tuesday.

“Nothing has happened and they’ve been talking about it (in the media) for a year,” Nets CEO Brett Yormark said last week on a panel in Manhattan. “So I’d probably say I don’t think anything is going to happen. We have an ownership group that is very committed.”

At the risk of  reading too much into this, it’s possible Prokhorov is still interested in selling the team – just not through Evercore Partners.

But context suggests that’s unlikely.

Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders:


Reports about Prokhorov selling or not selling the team have trickled out for the last year. I doubt this ends them.

He might just wait until he fetches more favorable offers.

Joe Johnson’s and Deron Williams’ contracts run through next season, and Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young have eight-digit player options. It’ll be hard for Brooklyn to compete until it gets a little salary-cap flexibility.

The Nets still have the issue of trading multiple future first round-picks (2016 and 2018) or the right to swap first rounders (2015 with the Hawks and 2017 with the Celtics), but one thing at a time.

Lionel Hollins on going to Jarrett Jack over Joe Johnson in the clutch: ‘Things change’

Brooklyn Nets v Dallas Mavericks
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Joe Johnson gained a quick reputation in Brooklyn for making the huge shots when his team needed them the most.

But according to Nets head coach Lionel Hollins, that was so last year.

This season, it’s been Jarrett Jack who’s been hitting the game-winners — two of them recently, in fact, which has earned his coach’s trust.

It was no different Friday night against the Suns, where Jack once again was given the opportunity to win it at the buzzer. But what was different was the fact that Johnson was on the bench, which led to reporters questioning Hollins for going away from Johnson in such a seemingly dramatic fashion.

From Andy Vasquez of NorthJersey.com:

“I knew Jarrett was going to shoot the ball,” Hollins said. “I got asked that last night. It doesn’t matter [who was in the game]. We could have put four people in the stands; Jarrett was going to shoot the ball. If I run a pick and roll for Jarrett he’s going to shoot the ball and he got a good shot and he missed it. It went in and out. If it goes in, you guys aren’t standing here asking me who gets the last shot.”

Up until as recently as January, Johnson was the Nets’ undisputed weapon of choice in the clutch.

He started his Nets career 7-for-7 when the game was tied, or the Nets trailed by less than four points with under 10 seconds left. But this year, Johnson missed his first four shots in those same situations. …

“Why do you think Joe should take the final shot all the time, because he’s been doing it?” Hollins said. “Tradition? And why you let them tear down that [old] building and put a parking lot? … You don’t go to fight for that [expletive]. Things change.”

Johnson did say it was a bit “puzzling” for him to be on the bench during an end of game situation, but he made it clear he wasn’t upset by it.

This appears to be a case of the media digging for something that simply isn’t there, and Hollins’ somewhat exasperated response seems to back up that assertion.