Despite missing two-time MVP, team captain, spiritual advisor, and auteur Steve Nash, the Phoenix Suns rallied to beat the streaking Oklahoma City Thunder last night. Goran Dragic had 16 points and 10 assists (albeit with six turnovers) in his second ever start, as he continues to convert his critics into true believers.
Dragic stands to benefit greatly from performances like these, which essentially act as a test-run for his future gig as a starting point guard with Phoenix or otherwise. But the man who benefits most from Nash’s absence is not Dragic, despite the opportunity to showcase his skills. It’s not Alvin Gentry, who could prove that the system is not totally dependent on Steve Nash. It’s Amar’e Stoudemire, free agent in the class of 2010 and still questioned All-Star.
Stoudemire has been with Phoenix for his entire career, but his greatest successes have come in fast breaking offenses with a Hall-of-Fame point guard at the helm. As any big man in the NBA will tell you that’s quite the set up, and though Amar’e’s talent isn’t at all questionable, one can’t help but wonder just how effective he’ll be when taken out of his more or less ideal circumstances in Phoenix.
Nights like last night go a long way toward not only earning Stoudemire respect, but likely earning him a few extra dollars on the free agent market this summer as well. Stoudemire totaled 30 points and nine rebounds on 60% shooting against a top five defense, all while playing with a decent point guard who, while effective, is decidedly not Steve Nash. Amar’e won’t have any opportunities to prove what he can do in a slower system, but big performances like Stoudemire’s showing last night will go a long way towards emphatically proving his versatility and offensive independence.
The NBA suspended Houston Rockets point guard Chris Paul along with the Los Angeles Lakers’ Rajon Rondo and Brandon Ingram on Sunday.
It was the opinion of the league office that all three players should be suspended for their role in a fight that took place on Saturday night between the Rockets and the Lakers at Staples Center.
Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni took exception to Paul’s suspension, saying that he thought it was “not equitable” that Paul had to face suspension.
The NBA determined that Rondo indeed did spit in Paul’s face, or at least in the direction of him, directly preceding Paul’s eye poke on Rondo. That kicked things off into full force, and it devolved from there.
All the suspensions were fairly weak. Ingram got just four games for his initial instigation and giant, loping punch toward Paul. Rondo received three games for spitting on Paul and landing punches. Paul received two games for punching Rondo.
It’s unlikely that anybody was going to be happy with the result of the discipline just because of the bad blood involved. However, the league made comment about the suspension afterward, with the NBA’s Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations Kiki VanDeWeghe taking to television later on Sunday.
VanDeWeghe’s explanations don’t satisfy me, and they certainly wouldn’t if I were a Rockets fan. Guys going chest-to-chest and having tensions rise as one thing. Spitting at somebody is another. It’s a level of actionable disrespect that directly influenced and raised tensions during the incident.
Ingram looked childish for shoving James Harden, but his punch came after Rondo got Paul wound up by spitting on him. It’s hard for me to understand how Rondo didn’t get a matching sentence with Ingram at the very least.
For reference, Carmelo Anthony was suspended for 15 games in 2006 after he clocked a player on the New York Knicks during a fight as a member of the Denver Nuggets. Given that precedence, something approaching double digits for both Ingram and Rondo seems like it would have been more appropriate.
We all knew the Denver Nuggets were going to be exciting this season, but nobody expected them to come through with this kind of statement result this early.
On Sunday as the Nuggets took on the Golden State Warriors, a tight game in Colorado lead to a drive by Stephen Curry in the closing seconds that could have won the defending champions the game.
Instead, Juancho Hernangómez became a Denver legend.
It was a serious block by Hernangómez on Damian Jones.
Denver beat the Warriors, 100-98, moving the Nuggets to 3-0 on the year and giving Golden State its first loss of the season.
Kyle Lowry was not happy with the Toronto Raptors when the team traded DeMar DeRozan to the San Antonio Spurs this offseason for Kawhi Leonard.
Lowry and DeRozan are best friends, and their budding romance has been a sentimental point for fans in Toronto and abroad.
But life goes on, and the Raptors again are one of the teams expected to challenge for an Eastern Conference Finals appearance. That hasn’t kept Lowry from doing the same handshake routine he used to do with DeRozan before games this season.
The only difference? DeRozan isn’t there to help dap up Lowry.
For his part, Lowry told NBA TV after Toronto’s game on Saturday that he will continue to do the handshake routine because the DeRozan will always be his best friend.
Even thousands of miles apart you can’t keep these guys from showing love for each other.
With the NBA dissecting video from Saturday night’s game between the Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Lakers like the Zapruder film, it was only a matter of time before we saw suspensions handed down for Chris Paul, Brandon Ingram, and Rajon Rondo.
On Sunday, the league announced its decision.
After reviewing tape, the NBA determined that Rondo did indeed spit on Paul. Ingram was seen as the initial instigator, and thus was served with a heavier sentence.
The finally tally was:
- Four games for Ingram
- Three games for Rondo
- Two games for Paul
Here’s the relevant details per the NBA’s release.
Ingram has been suspended for aggressively returning to and escalating the altercation and throwing a punch in the direction of Paul, confronting a game official in a hostile manner, and instigating the overall incident by shoving Rockets guard James Harden. Rondo has been suspended for instigating a physical altercation with, and spitting and throwing multiple punches at, Paul. Paul has been suspended for poking at and making contact with the face of Rondo, and throwing multiple punches at him.
We have been waiting on these suspensions largely to see how the NBA would discipline one of the first actual fights in some time. A maximum of four games seems a little light to me. Carmelo Anthony was suspended for 15 games in 2006 when he clocked Mardy Collins during a fight between the New York Knicks and Denver Nuggets.
Rondo only getting three games despite having spit on an opponent is also pretty wild. That’s crazy disrespectful and I would not believe you if you tried to tell me that this bad blood will end here.
Both the Lakers and Rockets will miss some of their most important players as they start duking it out in the tough Western Conference.