Our game recaps from Tuesday, or what you missed while reading Free Darko….
Celtics 105, Pistons 100: Boston did what they do on defense — Detroit was just 2-18 from three point range and turned the ball over one of every five times down the court. The Celtics also shot the ball much better than the Pistons. Should have been a blowout, but it wasn’t.
Detroit may not be a good team but they do one thing very well — crash the offensive glass. Second best team in the league at that, grabbing 31 percent of their missed shots on the season. And the Celtics either were not prepared for it or did not adjust. On this night Detroit grabbed the offensive board on 40 percent of their missed shots and that is the only thing that kept this close. Boston made the plays at the end to hold on, but this game was closer than it should have been. No Celtics fans can feel good after that win.
Heat 110, Warriors 106: Miami decided to play this game at Golden State’s pace (99 possessions, one off Golden State’s season average, but nine possessions faster than the slow-it-down Heat), and that helped keep it close. The Heat made a little run in the third quarter after they went to a 2/3 zone but the lead melted away with the game’s pace. But at the end, it was about execution. Golden State had chances — Anthony Morrow missed a good-look three, Ronny Turiaf had a pass for a game-tying dunk slip right through his hands. The Warriors didn’t close out well, the Heat did.
Thunder 113, Kings 107: Nobody really played defense — at least until the Thunder got focused the last five minutes or so — and that made this a fun one to watch. For OKC, this win is a sign of maturity because good teams win games when they don’t bring their “A” game sometimes. And the Thunder are becoming a good team. For Sacramento, their moral victory record is now 45-15.
Lakers 122, Pacers 99: We could talk about Ron Artest’s defense on Granger or Jordan Farmar’s hot hand or DJ Mbenga diving into the front row for a loose ball like it was a playoff game. But here’s what really tells you how big a blowout this was: Adam Morrison got 15 minutes — more than a quarter’s worth of burn, and they were not showcasing him for a trade.
Most of Los Angeles — and the vast majority of Lakers fans — are fired up that LeBron James is coming to Los Angeles. They see a return to glory for the franchise (well, once they get the rest of the roster right… sorry Lance Stephenson).
However, there is a segment — particularly the die-hard Kobe fans — who are having trouble assimilating to the new reality.
So when an artist did a LeBron James mural near Venice in Los Angeles recently — a really well-done tribute — it was quickly vandalized. Then eventually covered up.
This week another artist did another impressive LeBron/Lakers mural — this one with LeBron looking up at the Lakers’ legends — and once again, it was vandalized.
I’m not shocked by any of this, but it is depressing. If you’re vandalizing art, you are a cowardly buffoon.
There’s no way to really know the motivation behind the second attack, although the smart money is on it being the same as the first one — a few people think they are protecting the Lakers’ brand by not welcoming the best player on the planet to a team that hasn’t made the playoffs in five years. It’s incredibly flawed logic, but frankly flawed logic has become trendy in recent years, it can get you elected to all kinds of offices.
Credit real Lakers fans who showed up to help fix this.
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The Oklahoma City Thunder are trading reserve center Dakari Johnson to the Orlando Magic.
A person with knowledge of the details confirmed the move to The Associated Press on Friday. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the situation publicly.
Yahoo Sports, which first reported the deal, said Oklahoma City will get guard Rodney Purvis in the deal. Purvis averaged 6.0 points and 1.7 rebounds in 16 appearances for the Magic last season. The Orlando Sentinel said the Thunder also sent cash to the Magic.
Johnson played 31 games last season for the Thunder with six starts. He averaged 1.8 points and 1.1 rebounds per game. The 7-footer averaged 23.3 points and 10.3 rebounds in 10 games for the Oklahoma City Blue, the Thunder’s G-League affiliate, last season.
Five years ago, the Phoenix Suns had just drafted Alex Len at No. 5 overall and thought he would be the big man in the middle the team would build around. It didn’t work out that way, he never averaged double figures in either scoring or rebounding for a season. While Len has said he thought he was not used correctly, and there has been plenty of change and inconsistency in Phoenix, he never grabbed hold of the top job, either.
When the Suns drafted Deandre Ayton No. 1 last June, there was no chance they were bringing back Len next season. The unrestricted free agent is headed to Atlanta instead, reports Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.
Free-agent center Alex Len has agreed to a two-year, $8.5 million deal with the Atlanta Hawks, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
Len received interest from several teams in recent days before finalizing an agreement with the Hawks on Saturday.
Len is not going to space the floor, 73 percent of his shots came at the rim last season, but he’s become an efficient finisher there. He is good as a roll man, will work off the ball, and can post guys up on offense. He’s also strong on the offensive glass and gets points via putbacks. His game is not that of a modern NBA center, but he’s become efficient at what he does.
Len is going to have to earn his minutes in the ATL, rebuilding team or not there is some quality along the front line. John Collins, who made the All-Rookie team last season and was one of the standouts of Summer League, will start up front, possibly at the four with Dewayne Dedmon at the five. The just-drafted Omari Spellman showed potential at Summer League and could be the backup four, which means Len gets the backup center minutes.
Len is getting his new chance on a team that can give him some run, we’ll see if a change of scenery is what he needed.
Player workout videos on Instagram are a lot like how your life (or, your parent’s life) appears on Facebook — everyone looks their best, is always having fun and doing something interesting, and the daily grime of life has been scrubbed away.
That said, Boston’s Gordon Hayward looks good — he seems to be moving very well — in this latest workout video he posted.
It’s a good sign to see Hayward moving like that in July, months before that reconstructed ankle needs to be put to the test on the NBA hardwood.
With Hayward and Kyrie Irving healthy, the Celtics start the season as the favorites in the East — but Toronto is a sudden, serious challenger if Kawhi Leonard is all the way back and healthy. Philadelphia is talented and in that mix as well if Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons can take strides forward with their game.
The top of the East is going to be very interesting next season.