Tag: Kemba Walker

Chicago Bulls v New Orleans Pelicans

Five Things We Learned in NBA Tuesday: The basketball injury gods are heartless and cruel


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 wishing the Starbucks near you served beer

1) The basketball injury gods are heartless and cruel.  Paul George. Kevin Durant. Russell Westbrook. Kobe Bryant. Kemba Walker. Steve Nash. Blake Griffin. Dwight Howard. Carmelo Anthony. Jabari Parker. Chris Bosh. Now Derrick Rose. Every one of those stars has missed significant time this season due to injury. Enough already. We are setting up for a what should be a brilliant playoffs, I’m sick of injuries potentially ruining that. Yes, all the injuries should lead to a discussion of the wear and tear the NBA regular season puts on players’ bodies — Adam Silver is already trying to do something about that — but some of this is just bad luck. A statistical anomaly, if you will. But I’m weary of it and sickened by it. Enough is enough.  Just let the guys play the game.

2) Stephen Curry is back and doing ridiculous Stephen Curry things. At least one star is healthy and showing it — Curry missed one game with a sore foot, but returned to the lineup Tuesday to drop 32 points (including five three-pointers) plus dish out eight assists against the Wizards. On top of all that he did a good job defensively on John Wall when assigned to him. If you had any questions Curry was fine, check out this ridiculous tear-drop floater.

3) LeBron James passed Scottie Pippen for most assists ever by a forward — and did it in style. Playing in the social media era has opened LeBron to more — and more public — criticism than any of the game’s all-time greats. And make no mistake, LeBron is going down as one of the game’s all-time greats (exactly where on that list is yet to be determined). He is arguably the most gifted player ever to play the game, but don’t let that distract you from the long hours he’s put in to grow his game. One thing he has always done well — pass. Midway through the third quarter LeBron hit Kevin Love with a behind-the-back dish setting up a three that gave LeBron five assists on the night and 6,136 dimes for his career, passing Scottie Pippen on the list. (LeBron had 11 dimes on the night.) LeBron will set more records before he walks away, but this one will have meaning for him.

4) Kevin Love can still drain the three, in case you forgot. You just saw one of Love’s threes on the night, but he found his groove from three on Tuesday night and drained eight threes, tying his career best. Not sure this means he’s comfortable in the offense yet, but he was feeling it Tuesday.

5) Russell Westbrook’s triple-double reminder he is in the MVP race now. Oklahoma City didn’t have too much trouble with Indiana, despite Kevin Durant being out, and that is thanks to Russell Westbrook, who notched 20 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists. Westbrook is simply putting himself in the MVP race with his play since returning from injury — 26.1 points, 8 rebounds and 6.7 assists a game. Nobody else in the NBA is putting up better across-the-board numbers. Maybe he missed too many games to win the MVP, but he needs to be in the discussion.

Five Things We Learned in NBA Tuesday: Dwight Howard who? All Houston needs is Harden.

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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 applying for maybe the best job in journalism (except for having to live in Dallas)….

You don’t need Dwight Howard when you have James Harden. Well, at least in the regular season. The Rockets are 6-2 so far since Howard went down with this latest knee injury, and the reason is Harden is playing like an MVP. Tuesday night was a perfect example: Harden scored 20 points in the fourth quarter on 7-of-10 shooting to lift Houston to a win over Phoenix. Then when the Rockets needed a couple daggers to kill off the Suns, it was Harden delivering them. Harden finished with 40 points on 23 shots plus grabbed 12 boards and had nine assists as Houston got another crucial win. In the eight games since Howard went down, Harden is averaging 29.9 points and 6.9 assists a game, plus is shooting 41 percent from three and has a .627 true shooting percentage. The Beard is on fire.

The sun seems to be setting on Phoenix’s playoff chances. The Suns are now just one game ahead of both New Orleans and hard-charging Oklahoma City for the final playoff spot in the West. The Suns lost five of their last six games before the All-Star break. In those six games, the issue has been the offense, which has averaged 97 points per 100 possessions (27th in the league in that stretch). They’ve been even worse on the road of late. Maybe a couple practices and more than a week off can shake them out of this funk. If not, they once again are going to win 46 or more games and miss the playoffs. They are the poster children for changing the playoff system.

The most interesting thing happening with the Lakers: Nick Young telling dolphin attack stories. On the court, the only interesting thing left in the Lakers’ season is watching Jordan Clarkson to see if he can develop into a point guard. Off the court…. Nick Young is a constant source of entertainment.

Mike Dunleavy’s back and the Bulls look good again. After missing 19 games due to an ankle injury, their glue guy is back. The Bulls are now 24-10 with him, he is key to their offensive spacing. He only had five points on five shots and looked understandably rusty, but he did play 24 minutes. Dunleavy could be off for a night because Tony Snell spaced the floor on the way to his 24 points. The good news: the Bulls are finally healthy… er wait. Jimmy Butler had to leave the game with shoulder injury and didn’t play the second half. At least the week off for the All-Star break is coming up.

Pistons keep taking steps toward playoffs. In a game they really needed, Greg Monroe continued to thrive — 23 points and 12 boards — and the Pistons easily handled the Hornets 106-78. That moves Detroit just 1.5 games back of Charlotte for the final playoff spot in the East. Anthony Tolliver has been a sneaky good pick up by the Pistons, and he had 16 points in the win. Charlotte made the trade to get Mo Williams to fortify their backcourt while Kemba Walker is down, it will not be easy for Detroit to catch them (or seven seed Miami, who is two games ahead of Detroit), but this is the kind of win the Pistons had to have to give themselves a real chance.

Hornets trade Gary Neal and second rounder to Timberwolves for Mo Williams and Troy Daniels

Portland Trail Blazers v Houston Rockets - Game Five

Gary Neal was, curiously, Charlotte’s big in-season acquisition last year.

Now, the Hornets have used Neal to find better upgrades – Mo Williams and Troy Daniels.

The Hornets are in the thick of the playoff race after a horrid start. They’re tied with the Heat for seventh in the Eastern Conference, one game ahead of the ninth-place Nets and 2.5 games ahead of the 10th-place Pistons and Celtics.

But with Kemba Walker injured, Charlotte wanted backcourt help. Williams – coveted by many teams seeking a solid veteran – can play point guard and let Lance Stephenson work more on the wing.

Williams and Neal, both on expiring contracts, are basically a wash financially

Daniels is on a minimum contract this season and next. He might not figure immediately into the Hornets’ rotation, though he could. But if Charlotte makes the playoffs, the shooter certainly doesn’t fear big moments. At just 23, Daniels could develop into a helpful player next season if he’s not already one this season.

The Timberwolves get a draft pick that could help them in the future, lose a couple players who could hurt their lottery position and – depending on the cash sent out – save a little money. Those are ideal ingredients for teams in Minnesota’s position.

For the Hornets, a second rounder, especially one four years from now, is a small price to pay. This improves not only their odds of making the playoffs, but their odds of winning a series. The latter remains unlikely, but the East is open enough they can still hope.

Most of all, I’m glad Williams and Daniels remain linked.

Three Things We Learned in NBA Thursday: The waiting for Cleveland to arrive is over

LeBron James, Blake Griffin

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 taking offense at a Budweiser ad because you like craft beer

1) Remember when we said it would take time but Cleveland would eventually figure things out? Eventually is here. Before the season we kept saying it: It’s not how the Cavaliers are playing in December, it’s how they improve over the season, it’s how they play in April. Or, maybe they got there by February. The Cleveland Cavaliers have won 12 games in a row now and Thursday night they dismantled the Los Angeles Clippers on national television. What have been the knocks on them recently? That they can’t get Kevin Love involved? He had 24 points on 14 shots, he was attacking and got to the line a dozen times Thursday. Another issue was the Cavaliers don’t play defense? The Clippers had the best statistical offense in the NBA this season and yet shot just 41.8 percent and scored 96.1 points per 100 possessions, 14 below their season average. In their last 10 games the Cavaliers have allowed 96.9 points per 100 possessions, fourth best in the NBA. The Cavaliers have hit their stride, they could be the No. 2 seed in the East by the time the playoffs start, and they are contenders. Oh, and they still are putting up some highlight plays.

2) Charlotte is not going away just because Kemba Walker went down. Since Kemba Walker went down with a knee injury (he is out another five weeks at least) the Hornets have gone 4-1. And after Wednesday night’s win that includes a sweep of a home-and-home series against Washington. They aren’t doing it with offense, which has been feeble all season and been worse without Walker. However, the Hornets are back to playing lock-down defense — the Wizards scored just 91.1 points per 100 possessions Thursday — exactly the league-best average the Hornets have allowed the last 10 games. Charlotte is the seven seed in the East right now, just 1.5 games up on nine seed Brooklyn, but the way they are defending it’s hard to see the Hornets falling out of the playoffs.

3) As if the Wizards don’t have enough issues, Bradley Beal goes down. Washington is stumbling right now, going 3-7 in their last 10 games, and they just dropped a home-and-home with Charlotte. Now this: shooting guard Bradley Beal left the game Thursday night in the first quarter with a toe injury, not to return. Beal had been playing through a foot injury for a couple of games, according to J. Michael at CSNWashington.com, and seems to have aggravated it. Doctors will examine Beal on Friday and determine what the next step will be — he says he wants to play Saturday but the team likely will be cautious. Washington will miss Beal if he’s gone for any length of time; its offense jumps five points per 100 possessions when he is on the floor. Right now the Wizards don’t need any more steps back.

Deron Williams cleared to play, will return to Nets’ lineup Monday vs. Clippers

NBA basketball game - Brooklyn Nets vs Miami Heat

Deron Williams has been out since fracturing a rib back on Jan. 7, and with him out of the lineup the Nets have gone 2-9 and fallen out of the final playoff spot in the East.

Monday night, they get him back.

He was coming off the bench behind Jarrett Jack when he got injured and that will continue for now, reports Fred Katz of Bleacher Report.

Williams is averaging 13.9 points and 6.3 assists per game this season. He hasn’t been anything approaching vintage Williams and has a pedestrian true shooting percentage of .527.

The return of Williams puts back together a roster the Nets threw together a season ago to open Barclays Center with a bang and ideally contend for a title. It did the former fairly well, not the latter. Now the Nets are trying to unload at least two of their high-priced trio of Williams, Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez (it is Lopez that is drawing the most interest, but the Nets are asking for more than other teams have proven willing to send back). Things will be in flux while the team is for sale.

The Nets are just 1.5 games back of Charlotte (a team without Kemba Walker) for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East. They could make a run and get back into the postseason, making them fodder for the Hawks in the first round but at least they’d be in. It’s not like they have any picks of note left to tank for (they traded away the picks, or at least the right to switch picks, for years to come to assemble the team on the court now).