Heat out-star Thunder as Eddie House does a dance

4 Comments

In a game that was pretty fantastic from start to finish, the Miami Heat closed out the Thunder with a combination of star power and savvy play. Dwyane Wade was brilliant with 30 points and 9 rebounds (but also 9 turnovers), and LeBron James made the play that encapsulates his career. With the clock winding down, James passed up a fairly good look to dish to Eddie House, a 39.2% 3-point shooter. Bang. Game. Set. Match. And look, he did a dance, too.

The decision to pass on the game winning shot is the kind of thing that would get James criticized had House missed the shot. But the play was right. Pass up a good look for a better one, trust your teammates, and win the game. James finished with 23 points and 13 assists, (4 turnovers, 4 steals, 3 blocks), the kind of all-around game that showcases his strengths, but didn’t take the dagger. And that’s pretty much his career.

For the Thunder, you have to look at their sloppy performance down the stretch. Their success was built into a catch-and-shoot three for Durant, which is rare. Too often they turn to ISO-sets for Durant, which rarely work out well, as was the case on their final halfcourt possession, a missed baseline contested jumper for Durant. The Thunder gave great effort and used their transition game to press the Heat, but in situations where they needed to deliver, they couldn’t execute. Even their final possession, Russell Westbrook trying to delay the clock start on the inbound by letting it roll with the Thunder out of timeouts, resulted in a turnover.

The Thunder’s problems were pretty evident, illustrated by the strength of the Heat, which is perimeter penetration. There was no one to rotate inside and the Thunder defenders were too often too late. The result was a cavalcade of free throws, as James, Wade, and Bosh combined for 27 free throw attempts.

The Thunder have a formula now for how their final possessions should look, with Kevin Durant using off-ball movement to create clean looks, not trying to simply shoot over a defender. The Heat now have their formula. A strong performance from Chris Bosh outside, wing scoring on slash-and-drive from Wade, and LeBron facilitating.

Strong, strong game and good things to take away for both teams.

Russell Westbrook wears Craig Sager-inspired Jordan 1s

Twitter
Leave a comment

The second anniversary of the death of NBA broadcasting legend Craig Sager is on Dec. 15 of this year, a span that has seemed too quick for those of us who grew up watching the colorful sideline reporter.

Sager passed in 2016 due to complications from leukemia, and the outpouring in his memory since from those around the NBA has been significant. While Sager is no longer with us, his memory lives on.

Saturday against the Los Angeles Clippers, Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook pay tribute to Sager’s memory with a pair of custom Air Jordan 1s inspired by Sager’s famous sideline attire.

Via Twitter:

Sager was known for wearing crazy patterns, everything from hounds tooth to polka dost to tartan. I think Westbrook’s shoes paid fitting homage to Sager’s sartorial flair.

Perhaps Jordan would be willing to join forces and put the shoes on the market to benefit the Sager Strong Foundation? I’m sure these would sell well and come at a premium.

Karl-Anthony Towns misses free throw as Mavs fans chant ‘Jimmy Butler’

Getty
Leave a comment

Jimmy Butler is still a member of the Minnesota Timberwolves, largely for reasons that are beyond the capacity of most rational NBA fans.

Butler continues to play with a team as they enter the beginning part of the season, although owner Glen Taylor and his front office are professing to still be looking for a suitable trade partner.

Meanwhile, the tension between Butler and teammates Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns must be palpable. It certainly has affected Towns at least in one way, as the Timberwolves big man missed a free throw after Dallas Mavericks fans chanted Butler’s name during one of Towns’ trips to the line

Via Twitter:

It’s hard to say whether Towns missed that free throw simply because of the chance or because sometimes guys miss free throws. Towns is an 84 percent shooter from the charity stripe, so you’d expect him to miss one once in a while.

Things continue to be weird in Minnesota, and this odd homeostasis can’t last for long.

Video appears to show Rajon Rondo spitting at Chris Paul

AP
7 Comments

Did Rajon Rondo spit on Chris Paul?

That’s the question everyone’s asking after Saturday night’s big brouhaha between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Houston Rockets which led to several objections and coming suspensions from the league office.

Various angles have been analyzed at length on social media, and indeed it was always apparent the NBA viewing public-at-large would get to the bottom of things. Around 9 a.m. on Sunday morning, we came to our logical endpoint.

Thanks to this new video, it does appear that Rondo spit at Paul.

Via Twitter:

The NBA league office is still reviewing the tape, but according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski they appear to have the clip in question in hand.

There are a lot of factors to consider when it comes to the coming suspensions. First, how much Brandon Ingram will be penalized for instigating the entire thing with his shove in the back of James Harden. Ingram also came in with a flying punch to Paul’s face that might be looked at a bit more severely.

Second, both Paul and Rondo landed punches, but if Rondo indeed did spit on his competitor that’s a level of disrespect — not to mention responsibility for making the first move against Paul — that might get him a tougher sentence.

We haven’t seen a real fight in the NBA in some time, where actual punches were landed and things got more serious than just guys running between tunnels underneath Staples Center. How the league punishes these guys this early in the season will dictate to us in the future how they feel about this kind of tension spilling over into violence.

Check out Nikola Jokick’s perfect shooting triple-double

Leave a comment

Phoenix star rookie Deandre Ayton, welcome to the NBA. Please try to guard Denver’s Nikola Jokic in your second game.

That didn’t go well. Jokic finished with a triple-double of 35 points, 12 rebounds, and 11 assists. However, it’s how he got there that was impressive: 11-of-11 from the field shooting, 10-of-11 from the free throw line, zero turnovers, four steals, and he threw in a blocked shot for good measure.

Jokic was +29 on the night and the Nuggets won 119-91. Denver is 2-0 to start the season.