There is so crying in basketball

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Some Heat players cried in the locker room after the loss Sunday. So what?

The reaction from many around the league has been “I’ve been there.” Well, not in the Knicks locker room, they thought it was way funnier than anything Dane Cook ever said. But others took more muted tone.

Even Stan Van Gundy, who likes to smack around the Heat more than the next guy, kind of shrugged at that one, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

“We all have, but it’s not something I would comment on and tell you who or when or anything else,” Van Gundy said Monday. “But yeah, I think we’ve all had that. Usually playoff-type situations… Probably the only time I’ve seen it are in the games that sort of end your year in the playoffs. But yeah, I’ve seen it….

“I don’t care whether a guy cries or not,” Van Gundy said. “I don’t see what difference it makes. But I don’t have to fill three hours of a sports talk show. Those guys need something to talk about. Mike and Mike in the morning, I don’t know, how long are they on? Three or four hours? I guess there aren’t enough games to just talk about the games, so you gotta figure out who was crying in the locker room. I’m just glad that’s not my job – trying to figure out who was crying.”

Over at Hoopshype (via the Heat Index), baller and blogger Rod Benson wrote that he has cried after a game.

After an injury-riddled season that, at least in my mind, ruined my immediate chances of making the NBA, I had made my way back in time for the NCAA tournament. After battling with North Carolina State for most of the game, as always, it came down to the final minute. Unlike high school, I remember very clearly what happened. Somebody messed up on a switch and I had to run out at Cameron Bennerman, who pump faked the hell out of me, composed himself, and knocked in the game-winning three.

On the way back to the locker room, I broke down and started crying. At first, it was because I knew that if I had closed out short, he may have had a more difficult shot. I placed the blame on myself for losing the most important game of my college career and tears began to fall. I kind of felt stupid for crying, but I couldn’t help it.

When I sat down in the locker room, that’s when it really hit me. I actually sat there and cried for like 15 minutes straight.

Then Benson ties it back into the Heat.

These guys care. They care a lot, actually. Yes, they care what people think. They care that their legacies are on the line. They care about the city of Miami. They care about the NBA. They even care about you, their haters. How do I know they care? Because I know how much you have to care to cry after a loss.

I tend to side with Van Gundy here (and I’m not planning on making a habit out of that),  the crying is one thing, telling the media is another. Spoelstra should have known that would basically take over a NBA news cycle and likely not sit well in the locker room. It has people discussing if the Heat are soft, and that is one touchy subject around players. This was a mistake of player management.

But the fact they care enough to cry, that’s a sign that at some point they will figure it all out.

DeMarcus Cousins’ first bucket as a Warrior is a monster jam

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LOS ANGELES — DeMarcus Cousins sure looked his hops are back on this throw down.

Cousins started for the Warriors Friday night after missing almost a full year with a torn Achilles, and on the Warriors first possession they fed him the rock in the post. Cousins faced up on Marcin Gortat, drove baseline with a nice first step, but got caught under the basket and couldn’t power it up through the Clipper big, getting his shot blocked.

Nobody was blocking his next shot.

It was a side pick-and-roll where Gortat had to cut off Durant’s drive, but Danilo Gallinari didn’t tag into the middle to cut off Cousins’ roll (or, made the business decision not to). The result was an impressive first bucket for DeMarcus as a Warrior.

Cousins’ first shift was three minutes long. He’s on a minutes restriction for a while.

D’Angelo Russell drops 40 on Magic including shot that put Nets up for good

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D'Angelo Russell is playing like a guy in a contract year. And that’s just fine with Brooklyn.

Russell tied his career best with 40 points Friday night against the Magic, including hitting the shot that put the Nets up for good on the night with 27 seconds remaining. Russell was 16-of-25 shooting, including 8-of-12 from three, and he was an analytics dream — Russell took all but one of his shots either in the paint or from three.

The Nets — now 24-23 on the season and the sixth seed in the East — came from 21 back to get the win and that included their guards hitting the big shots at the end.

First up was Spencer Dinwiddie.

Then came Russell’s shot that proved to be the game winner.

With the Nets extending Dinwiddie during the season, it’s unlikely Russell returns to Brooklyn next season, but a number of teams are interested in him as a free agent (restricted, the Nets can match if the offer is low).

Report: Isaiah Thomas could return to Nuggets right before All-Star break

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The Denver Nuggets have shown off their depth this season. Three starters — Will Barton, Gary Harris, and Paul Millsap — have missed a chunk of time and yet until a few days ago the Nuggets were the top seed in the West, and they are still a clear second.

And all of that without Isaiah Thomas, their biggest name reserve. He has been recovering from hip surgery last March.

The Nuggets are hoping Thomas will make his debut next month, right before the All-Star Break, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Thomas has been gathering momentum in his rehabilitation process from hip surgery in March, and there’s hope among Thomas and the Nuggets organization he could return as soon as a Feb. 11-13 homestand against Miami and Sacramento, sources said.

There’s strong confidence that he will return no later than the first game after the All Star break on Feb. 22 in Dallas, league sources said….

The final hurdle for Thomas remains playing full 5-on-5 scrimmages. He is expected to start that process soon.

Thomas was playing well and playing through pain in Boston, becoming a fan favorite and pulling that team into the postseason, before his hip injury caught up with him. He tried to recover without surgery playing for the Cavaliers and Lakers last season, but that never really worked like he hoped. He had the surgery and signed a one-year deal with the Nuggets.

Thomas could provide a playmaking guard off the bench, although Monte Morris has filled that role for the Nuggets so well he gets mentioned as a most improved player candidate. Coach Mike Malone will need to finesse the minutes to get both of them touches and involved. How much Thomas can help the Nuggets in the playoffs depends on how he recovers (he has always been a defensive liability because of his size, which factors in as well).

If Thomas can show he would have value as a bench player he will have teams calling next July about a much bigger contract. He has motivation, and he’s popular around the league — people want to see him succeed. But is he fully healthy and does he still have the lateral explosiveness that made him so hard to stop on drives to the rim? We should find out the final couple months of the season.

Report: Kings’ Buddy Hield in 3-point contest

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Players who’ve attempted more than seven 3-pointers per game while making more than 40% of them this season:

Sharing company with only the greatest shooter of all-time will earn Hield a spot in the 3-point contest.

Carmichael Dave of KHTK Sports 1140:

Sacramento getting three players into the Rising Stars Challenge for the second straight year speaks to the team’s nice collection of young talent. Bogdan Bogdanovic (who won MVP last year) and De'Aaron Fox return to the game. No. 2 pick Marvin Bagley III replaces Hield, who ages out.

Hield has a chance in the 3-point contest, though the league is better from beyond the arc than ever. He’ll certainly have plenty of competition.