Three Things We Learned in NBA Thursday Night: Kyrie Irving went Neo in the Matrix on Spurs


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 trying to get that damn Narwhals song out of your head

1) Kyrie Irving was in video game mode. Or he was Neo in the Matrix. Or whatever other internet exclamation of the superhuman you want to go with. Irving set a career high — and scored more than any player has in a game this season — when he dropped 57 on the Spurs. It’s hard to use words and stats to do him justice Thursday. For example, according to the NBA’s player tracking stats the Spurs contested 30 of Irving’s 32 shots, but he still hit 19 of them. He had 35 of his points in the second half, drained two threes (he was 7-of-7 from deep) with the game on the line, then scored 11 in OT to secure the Cavs 128-125 win. The Spurs were the better team on this night — they shared the ball, took advantage of mismatches, defended smartly — and in the end got another loss because Kyrie was not to be stopped.

2) Washington does not care how many Grizzlies were resting, they will take the win. In baseball, when a batter is in a slump, he’ll take any kind of hit to snap out of it — broken bat blooper that falls in, seeing eye grounder, whatever it takes to get on base. That’s where the Wizards have been, so the fact that Memphis was on a back-to-back and decided to rest Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph doesn’t change anything for the Wizards. Marcin Gortat feasted inside with them out scoring 22; John Wall scored 21, and the Wizards picked up the win. That’s three of four and two in a row for Wizards, who maybe are finding their footing again.

3) Utah is 9-2 since the All-Star break and has found an identity. The Rockets found out Thursday what more and more teams are discovering — the Jazz are starting to figure it out. And they have become a tough out. The Jazz are a defensive team: Since the All-Star break they are 9-2 allowing 90.6 points per 100 possessions, the best number in the NBA in that time (five of those 9 wins come against teams above .500). Rudy Gobert was doing his thing again Thursday — 22 rebounds, four blocks, altering many other shots — but what was different against the Rockets was the 19 points. He’s been an offensive liability, if that changes watch out. He only took 11 shots but played within himself — all his shots were at the rim. Just ask Terrence Jones.

Gordon Hayward was finding space to knock down three balls and get moving toward the rim, on his way to 29. Granted, Houston was on the second night of a brutal back-to-back (they lost to Portland Wednesday then had to fly overnight and play at altitude in Salt Lake the next day) but still, Utah is taking advantage of that now.

Rudy Gobert on Nerlens Noel: ‘He was talking too much’


Here are the centers taken in the first round of the 2013 NBA draft:

5. Alex Len

6. Nerlens Noel

12. Steven Adams

16. Lucas Nogueira

21. Gorgui Dieng

22. Mason Plumlee

27. Rudy Gobert

Gobert still has a chip on his shoulder about where he was selected, and it showed when he induced a double technical foul with Noel during the Jazz’s win over the 76ers on Friday.

Gobert, via Jody Genessy of the Deseret News:

“He was talking too much, that’s why,” Gobert said when asked about the technical. “I just got mad and I shouldn’t react. I shouldn’t react.”

I don’t think this is the case, but I’d like to believe Noel was talking because he holds a grudge over this block in the Rising Stars Challenge:

There’s not supposed to be defense in that game, man.

Undrafted Langston Galloway making mark with Knicks, has sights set even higher


BOSTON – Langston Galloway considered returning home to his native Louisiana during the All-Star break, but he figured he wouldn’t have enough time to properly visit with everyone in his large and supportive family.

Besides, he had an opportunity of a lifetime in New York.

The Knicks rookie leaned on teammates to secure tickets to All-Star festivities in Madison Square Garden and Barclays Centers. In a highlight of his young NBA career, Galloway watched three days of events, particularly enjoying the actual game Sunday.

“Just looking at it as, hey, maybe one day I can get there,” Galloway said.

Galloway was on hand for the Rising Stars Challenge, too. Asked about the possibility of making that game next season, he lights up.

“Definitely, yeah,” Galloway said. “Shooting for anything and everything possible.”

At this point, anything and everything seems possible for the 23-year-old.

Despite going undrafted, Galloway ranks third among rookies in points per game (11.0) behind only No. 1 pick Andrew Wiggins (15.9) and No. 2 pick Jabari Parker (12.3).

Galloway didn’t get called up from the D-League until January, but he has quickly shown:

A clutch streak, making 6-of-9 3-pointers in the final five minutes of a five-point game, including these:

An opportunistic sense for making thrilling plays:

“He just showed a level of composure and poise for a first-year player that was pretty special,”  Knicks coach Derek Fisher said. “Didn’t seem to get sped up by competition. Even sometimes the guy’s better than him, he still seems to play at a pace that’s comfortable for him. He’s not afraid to take and make shots when he’s open. Doesn’t pass up on opportunities. And he’s not afraid to guard any guy out there.”

Galloway, who has started 20 of his 24 games with the Knicks, has a real shot at making an All-Rookie team. If he does, he’d become just the 11th undrafted player to do so* and just fourth to do it in the season immediately after going undrafted.**

*Gary Neal, Jamario Moon, Walter Herrmann, Jorge Garbajosa, Marquis Daniels, Udonis Haslem, J.R. Bremer, Chucky Atkins, Matt Maloney, Larry Stewart

**Daniels, Bremer, Stewart

Galloway’s chances are certainly helped by playing in New York. His success in league’s largest market has already boosted his profile.

But how good is Galloway actually?

The main reason he has an All-Rookie chance despite playing a max of 45 games is the underwhelming output – due to injury or otherwise – of this draft class.

And the Knicks have been starved for a young player of his caliber. Sure, his 11 points per game are nice, but they’re hardly historic – at least for teams outside New York.

Channing Frye, the No. 8 pick in 2005, is the only Knicks rookie to average so many points per game in the previous 25 years. Just the Jazz (Trey Burke) and Pacers (nobody) have had so few rookies hit that mark in that span.


Galloway gets his points in a variety of ways, which is a bit surprising. He shot 39.2, 46.6, 39.4 and 44.7 percent on 3-pointers in four seasons at Saint Joseph’s. Outside shooting appeared to be his only NBA-caliber skill, but Galloway also gets into the lane consistently, and he rebounds well for a guard. It’s hardly a strength yet, but the 6-foot-2 Galloway has also improved as a point guard after primarily playing off guard in college.

If you want to extend it further, he plays with an infectious joy on a team headed for its worst record in franchise history.

“Just going out there each day and having fun, that’s the main thing,” Galloway said. “It’s not a job to me. It’s just like out there having fun like I’ve been playing since I’ve been four years old.”

Not every day of this journey has been fun, though.

Galloway recalls the disappointment of draft night, hearing 60 names – though not his own – called. He took the following day off, his first relaxing day in months. Since Saint Joseph’s lost to Connecticut in the NCAA Tournament, Galloway had been working out daily to prepare for the draft.

On June 27, he just laid in bed and played video games.

“You’d rather be going to another city or wherever you’re playing at,” Galloway said. “But at the same time, just to spend time with my family, they definitely helped me get through that whole day off and then moved onto the next day to start getting back in the gym.”

The Knicks signed him for training camp, waived him and assigned him to their D-League affiliate in Westchester. When New York signed him to an NBA contract, Galloway was ready thanks to his parents.

“They’ve always told me never be scared of anything,” Galloway said. “And just my confidence in myself, knowing I can go out there and compete against anybody in this world.”

It’s a message his extended family, including his uncles, has reinforced.

Appreciative, Galloway is looking forwarding to doing this summer what he didn’t have time to do during the All-Star break – going home and celebrating his success with everyone.

“Eat some crawfish and some bad food that people wouldn’t understand around here,” Galloway said. “But just catch up and eat some Cajun food.”

Five Things We Learned in NBA Monday: Russell Westbrook had a new team to destroy Sunday


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 trying to figure out where Jeopardy puts all the daily doubles

1) Russell Westbrook is raining destruction on the NBA. Five out of his last six games Russell Westbrook recorded a triple-double. The one game he didn’t he had a line of 43 points, 8 assists and 7 rebounds. Sunday he dropped 30 points, 17 assists, and 11 rebounds and the Thunder beat the Raptors 108-104. The key part is the win — OKC had missed out on a few of those lately despite the big numbers from Westbrook, and even after tonight the Pelicans are lurking one game back of that eighth seed in the West. Westbrook is carrying the Thunder to that until Kevin Durant returns.

2) The Tony Parker that should frighten the rest of the NBA was back Sunday. Last week if you looked up and down the eight teams in the playoffs for the West and said “who is the weakest link?” you should have said San Antonio. They were just coming off a 2-7 Rodeo road trip and even Tony Parker was admitting he wasn’t playing well after returning from a hamstring injury. Then Sunday happened — vintage Parker showed up and dropped 32 on the Bulls to lead the Spurs to a win. This is what everyone in the West quietly fears — Tony Parker gets right and the Spurs flip the switch the last month or so of the season and then be a force come the playoffs. One game does not make that so, but it will have teams paying attention. Nobody is going to say the Spurs are too old. Not yet, anyway.

3) Charlotte looks like a playoff team. The Hornets have won five in a row and that includes wins over Brooklyn, Toronto and on Sunday Detroit. With those wins Charlotte is the seven seed in the West as you read this, and they likely hold that position. While the offense has been great lately (thanks Mo Williams!) it’s the defense getting back to one of the best in the NBA over the past 15 games. The defense is something the Hornets can sustain (they did last season) and that will keep them in the playoffs in the East.

4) Kobe Bryant was back. On the bench. And that couldn’t have been easy to watch. At the request of coach Byron Scott, Kobe was in a suit on the bench for the Lakers’ Sunday. There have been some in LA saying, “Why isn’t Kobe on the bench teaching these guys?” First off, if you could skip watching the Lakers this season you would, too. Second, who on this roster currently playing are the Lakers going to keep around long term? Jordan Clarkson and… nobody, really. This roster is not part of the Lakers future. That said, Kobe was on the bench Sunday, and got to witness another Lakers collapse — Dallas went on a 16-1 fourth quarter run to take the lead and win the game. Kobe couldn’t do anything about it. Nobody can.

5) Don’t tell anyone, but the Jazz have won seven of their last nine. They have become a very good defensive team (you can thank Rudy Gobert’s developing), one that is now getting enough offense to win games. Like Sunday over a Brooklyn team that should have played desperate but have no answers. This season was always about development of a young roster in Utah, we are really starting to see that.

Tyler Zeller makes spinning game-winning buzzer-beater against Jazz (video)


The Jazz used the enormous Rudy Gobert to contest Marcus Smart’s inbound, leaving the paint just open enough – with a recovering Gobert – for Tyler Zeller to find an opening. Credit Smart for making that tough pass, too.