Tag: LeBron James

LeBron James

LeBron, after Cavaliers lose by 23 at home to Pistons: ‘Right now we are not very good. In every aspect of the game’


The Cavaliers have gotten off to a slow start this season, at least when compared to the wealth of talent on the roster that had preseason expectations in Cleveland at an all-time high.

Things got even slower on Sunday, when the Cavs dropped a home game by 23 points to a Pistons team that came into the contest with a record of just six wins against 23 losses to this point of the season.

Cleveland recently lost Anderson Varejao for the season due to injury, and was without Kyrie Irving for the second straight game thanks to a knee injury he reaggravated in the Christmas Day loss to the Heat. But things started fine in this one, with the Cavaliers getting out to a lead of 15 points early in the second quarter — before the wheels came off completely, the offense became stagnant, and the Pistons seemingly couldn’t miss.

Playing without 40 percent of your starting lineup, as it turns out, is no easy task. Detroit set a franchise record for three-pointers made with 17, and shot 54.8 percent from three-point distance while moving the ball consistently, and well ahead of the Cavaliers rotations. Cleveland, meanwhile, clearly missed Irving’s playmaking — he averages 37.9 minutes per game as the team’s point guard, and without him, the open looks were few and far between as Cleveland made just 17.2 percent of its shots from three-point distance, while launching 29 beyond-the-arc attempts.

With Varejao gone and no other real bigs to speak of, Andre Drummond had his way inside for most of the game, and finished with 16 points, 17 rebounds and five blocked shots. And with Irving gone, Brandon Jennings had one of his best outings of the season, finishing with a game high 25 points on 10-of-18 shooting — this from someone who came into this one shooting a little better than 37 percent from the field on a per-game basis.

LeBron James was far from even average, finishing just 5-of-19 from the field with 17 points, to go along with seven turnovers. And he had no trouble stating the obvious when discussing the loss afterward.

From Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com:

#Cavs LeBron James: “Right now we are not very good. In every aspect of the game”

That about sums it up.

Now, we probably shouldn’t take too much from a December loss, even one as painful as this. The missing pieces matter, and as long as Irving is back to full strength sometime soon, that will solve a lot of the problems offensively that were evident in this one.

But a bigger concern might be the lack of big man depth inside. Cleveland is going to have to try to make a move to add someone at some point this season, if indeed it wants to play deep into the postseason as was expected when this so-called super-team was assembled.

James took a knee to the quad before halftime, and was seen leaving the arena with a slight limp. His health is obviously paramount to his team’s chances, but so is his level of aggressiveness on the floor. And he simply has to bring it offensively on a regular basis (i.e., no more chill mode), especially on a night when the team’s second leading scorer was forced to sit it out.

David West after Kevin Garnett blows in his ear: ‘I think (Lance Stephenson’s) was more sensual’

Kevin Garnett,David West

Early on in the Pacers’ 110-85 win over the Nets on Saturday, Kevin Garnett did something unseemly to David West.

Garnett appeared to Blow in West’s ear — or if not in his ear specifically, directly into his face.

West immediately retaliated with a shove, and received a technical foul — which was likely Garnett’s goal all along, to get his opponent off his game.

We saw something similar, of course, between Lance Stephenson and LeBron James, when the Pacers faced the Heat in last year’s Eastern Conference Finals.

West was clearly heated at the time, but was willing to joke about the silliness of the situation afterward.

From Candace Buckner of the Indianapolis Star:

“Yeah, I didn’t like that,” West said. “I just know it was too close and I didn’t like it. I don’t really play them games. We’re out there to play basketball so let’s play basketball. Everybody was kinda looking at what made me push him or whatever, (I) told ’em, ‘he blew in my face.'”

Then, recognizing the absurdity of the Lance-like moment, West began to smile.

“An aggressive blow at that,” West described. “I think Lance’s was more sensual. That was an aggressive one.”

West is known as one of the more legitimate tough guys among his fellow players, while Garnett has a reputation of being all bark and no bite — i.e., essentially the opposite.

Being “aggressive” in that way is Garnett’s attempt at getting inside his opponent’s head. But after the shove from West early on, I’m guessing Garnett was on his best behavior for the remainder of this one.

Kevin Love benched entire fourth quarter of Cavaliers win over Magic

Atlanta Hawks v Cleveland Cavaliers

After three quarters of play during Friday night’s matchup in Orlando, the Cavaliers trailed the Magic by four points.

Cleveland has gotten off to a slower than expected start to the season, while Orlando was eight games under .500 coming into the contest. It would have been a bad loss for the Cavaliers, so perhaps it wasn’t surprising that head coach David Blatt was willing to try anything to prevent it — even if that meant benching one of his star players.

Kevin Love didn’t register a single fourth quarter minute, with Blatt instead preferring to go small in order to better match up with Orlando’s lineup. It worked to perfection; the Cavs held their opponent to just 14 points in the final period (LeBron James scored 15 in that final 12 minutes himself) and came away with a much needed victory.

From Chris Haynes of Cleveland.com:

“The way that Orlando was playing, they didn’t make a particular substitution and we were just matched up so well defensively, we decided to not to go with it,” Blatt said about not putting Love in the game. “Certainly to Kevin’s credit, he actually kind of recognized it and supported that.”

It’s not accurate to say Love never left the bench in the final quarter. He was one of the most supportive players as he stood up repeatedly, clapping and cheering his teammates on. And vocally, he screamed more than when he was playing. …

“It’s all about the matchup,” Love said. “Had it been different, it might have been a tough pill to swallow. Tristan was doing a phenomenal job on [Nikola] Vucevic, forcing him into tough shots and blocking shots. It was really how they matched up. They went small. It wasn’t hard for me at all. I was up pretty much every play I could be.”

It’s big for the Cavaliers that this strategy not only worked out in terms of the team getting the win, but that Love was fully on board and remained engaged while being relegated to the bench.

Love is going to opt out of his contract to become an unrestricted free agent next summer, if nothing more than to give himself a raise. But the fact is that he could choose to leave if he feels his role is diminished as the season goes on, and there’s no question that Blatt rolled the dice a bit here, without fully knowing that the strategy would pay off, or how Love would handle the situation on the sidelines.

Kevin Garnett blows in David West’s ear, West retaliates and gets technical (VIDEO)

Brooklyn Nets V Detroit Pistons

Kevin Garnett will do anything to get in the head of an opponent… but imitate Lance Stephenson?

Yup. And it worked.

During the first half of Indiana’s visit to Brooklyn, Garnett blew in the ear of Pacers’ veteran David West, who took a little offense at that and pushed KG. The referees blew the whistle and hit West with a technical for the shove.

Of course, then Pacer Lance Stephenson became a meme after he blew in LeBron James’ ear during the playoffs last season. It didn’t really bother LeBron, and West moved on from this pretty quickly. But I somehow doubt KG will become a meme.

This just fits with Garnett’s personality.

PBT’s Top 10 NBA stories of 2014, No. 10: Anthony Davis’ breakout

Utah Jazz v New Orleans Pelicans

He’s got next.

As in, Anthony Davis is the guy after LeBron James who will hold the title “Best Player on the Planet.”

His college coach at Kentucky John Calipari said that could happen in five years. He may have underestimated his former pupil.

Anyone who watched the Pelicans last season knew Davis was special and he was going to grow into maybe the game’s best player (just not a lot of people watched because the Pelicans don’t get on national television often). It has just happened a lot faster than anyone thought — after a summer as a lynchpin leading Team USA to gold at the FIBA World Championships, Davis’ play through the first third of the NBA season has seen him be the best player in the league.

Think of it this way: Davis’ PER so far this season is 32.5, the highest PER in NBA history for a season is Wilt Chamberlain in 1962-63 at 31.8.

And Davis is just 21 years old. In just his third NBA season. He’s just starting to tap into his potential.

“The Brow” does pretty much everything well — and he seemed to get better at all of it this season. He can score around the basket or with a midrange jumper, or he can make a quick move and with a couple dribbles be at the rim. He works well off the ball and puts himself in smart positions to make plays (he has a very high IQ game). He can run the floor in transition. With all that he is putting up 24.4 points a game with a ridiculous .618 true shooting percentage this season. And coming out of college scouts thought his offense would lag behind his defense. He is blocking 2.9 shots a game on average and is pulling down 10.2 rebounds a game. He’s taking on more of the Pelicans offense — he uses more than 26 percent of the Pelicans’ possessions when on the court — and turning the ball over less often.

And he’s ending up on SportsCenter and other highlight shows almost nightly because of finishes like this.

Or this.

Fans are noticing — Davis is the leading vote getter so far among Western Conference front court players in the fan voting for the 2015 All-Star starters. He’s ahead of Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin, Marc Gasol, Tim Duncan, Dirk Nowitzki and everyone else.

But maybe the highest praise comes from coaches, both the ones that have him on their team and the ones he goes against.

“We think he’s one of the top players in the league and we need for him to be that five that nobody else has,” coach Mike Krzyzewski told ProBasketballTalk during Team USA training camp last summer. “Everyone talks about things we don’t have, well they don’t have him.”

“He’s a difficult guy to double-team,” Portland coach Terry Stotts told Sean Highkin of PBT after Davis went off for 31 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks on his team (and the Pelicans lost when the guards went away from feeding him in the fourth). “He doesn’t play off the dribble much. It’s usually one or two dribbles and he’s pretty quick. You’ve just got to make him work, just like all great players. You go down the list, you’ve just got to make him work for his points.”

Coaches are trying to make him work for those points, but it’s not that easy.

Davis’ play has him mentioned as an MVP candidate. He likely doesn’t win this year — not because his play isn’t good enough but because the team around him isn’t, the Pelicans likely will miss the playoffs in a deep West. A lot of voters gravitate toward the stars of winning teams.

But Davis’ time will come. For MVP’s and much more, he is going to be the world’s best player.

In 2014 we just got to see the start of it.