Like the have not before these playoffs, the Oklahoma City Thunder asserted themselves in Game 5. They dominated the Memphis Grizzlies. Controlled the game from the middle of the second quarter on. Held Zach Randolph to 9 points. Thumped the tired Grizzlies good.
Was that a one game fluke, or have the Thunder arrived?
If Memphis wants to see a Game 7, two key things have to happen.
The first is Zach Randolph has to get going again. In Game 1 he was dominant, in Game 2 Serge Ibaka started taking away his space to operate when he caught the ball. Between Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins at times, the Thunder have held Randolph to 32 percent shooting in the last four games.
The Grizzlies got 24 points out of Randolph and Marc Gasol last game. If they Grizzlies are going to get back in this series, they will need closer to double that, and they need it to come efficiently.
The other thing Memphis needs is a better game from Mike Conley. The point guard who has played so well through the playoffs is 6-for-28 shooting his last two games. He has to knock down shots and he has to get the ball to Randolph and Gasol in positions they can be effective.
The Grizzles have to go back to what got them here — great play inside and some good pressure defense to create some turnovers.
The Thunder? Just more of the same will be just fine. Their defense has been key the last few games and when their offense clicked, well, blowout. Russell Westbrook 25 minutes last game, Kevin Durant just 31, they are rested. They will come out and try to put this game away early.
Memphis has to play in the paint. They have to get Tony Allen disrupting Durant. They have to have their best game of the season.
If they do, Sunday could be very interesting.
NEW YORK (AP) The WNBA has suspended Los Angeles Sparks guard Riquna Williams 10 games for a domestic violence incident.
The WNBA handed down the suspension Tuesday. Williams was arrested on April 29 and charged with two felony counts, one involving the assault of an individual with whom she was in a relationship and the other involving a threat to another person with a firearm. Her criminal case is ongoing.
The league conducted its own investigation and consulted with a panel of experts in the field of domestic violence. Among other factors, the WNBA said it took into account the nature and seriousness of the allegations, including the involvement of a gun.
The WNBA also will require Williams to participate in counseling.
Williams’ suspension will begin with Thursday’s game against the Dallas Wings.
Just three 7-footers have averaged 3.5 3-pointers per game and made 35% of them each of the last two seasons:
The Bulls will now have most of them.
Markkanen is Chicago’s top young player. Kornet will join him with the Bulls next season.
Shams Charania of The Athletic:
I’m a little surprised Kornet got more than his minimum ($3,383,360 over two years). But it’s worth taking a flier on him.
In addition to his outside shooting, Kornet has shown good timing as a shot-blocker in two seasons with the Knicks. The 24-year-old must get stronger and improve as a rebounder to play major minutes.
But the Bulls won’t have to press him into action. They also have Thaddeus Young, Markkanen, Wendell Carter Jr., Daniel Gafford and Cristiano Felicio as bigs.
The Bucks waived Christian Wood late last season to ensure avoiding the luxury tax. The Pelicans claimed him. Wood had played well in limited minutes with the 76ers, Hornets and Bucks and in the NBA’s minor league since going undrafted in 2015.
New Orleans gave him his biggest opportunity yet. In 24 minutes per game over eight games, he averaged 17 points and eight rebounds.
But the Pelicans filled their roster for next season and waived Wood.
Detroit will take advantage.
The Detroit Pistons announced today that the team has claimed forward/center Christian Wood off waivers.
Wood’s $1,645,357 minimum salary is unguaranteed until the regular season. So, Detroit could still waive him before the season. But it seems he’ll at least go to training camp and get a shot at a regular-season roster spot.
The Pelicans also could’ve kept him through the preseason then waived him before the regular season. They seemingly did him a favor of allowing him to get somewhere he has a realistic chance of sticking.
Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond will start in the frontcourt for the Pistons. Markieff Morris and Thon Maker appear to be first in line is backups.
But don’t be surprised if Wood earns playing time. At minimum, the 23-year-old should provide nice depth at both power forward and center.
The Pistons have also now acquired four members of last year’s Bucks – Tony Snell, Thon Maker, Tim Frazier and now Wood.
Reggie Bullock had his agreed-upon salary cut by more than half with the Knicks. He’ll reportedly miss at least a month of the regular season.
All because of a mysterious health issue.
The Knicks have finally disclosed what’s happening.
Reggie Bullock underwent successful surgery today at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York for a cervical disc herniation. The team will plan to provide an update on his rehab and progress around the start of training camp.
Bullock is a good shooter from the wing. New York could use him. Many teams could use him.
But Bullock must get healthy first.
At this point, we probably shouldn’t expect much from him any time soon. The best indication: how eagerly his agent praised the Knicks for their handling of this situation. Again, Bullock settled for less than half his initially agreed-upon salary.