Charles Barkley, Reggie Miller not so much with standing united

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The NBA veterans at the end of their careers say that the reason they’re so committed to holding the line, particularly that 53 percent line, is to protect the players that came after them. The players who have already gotten their tipoffs in and are out of the game? They’re a little bit more realistic in terms of what’s happening and how this thing ends.

First we have Charles Barkley, who has done a rash of interviews (SHOCKING INFORMATION) lately and did an interview Friday with Phoenix radio. He’s not exactly critical of the commish and his tactics against the union.

Barkley on the owners: “They’re not going to let us become like baseball where we have the haves against the have-nots. That’s why we have the best commissioner in sports. . . David Stern is trying to do what’s best for the small market teams.”

Barkley on Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony talking about starting a new league:“That’s right up there as one of the stupidest things I’ve ever heard. That’s right up there with new Coke.”

Barkley on Commissioner David Stern’s proprieties: ” No. 1, have a hard cap. Secondly, have better revenue sharing. Or get the owners 50-50 (BRI split). It’s going to be one of those three ways to be honest with your. They can forget the way things are going now, that they’re going to let all these stars play and kill these small-market teams. I can promise you that or they’re not going to play at all.”

via azcentral.com blogs – Coro’s Orange Slices – PaulCoro – Charles Barkley talks lockout.

There are a couple of things here. One is that Barkley’s not necessarily criticizing the union, he’s just stating what he feels is a fact. For Barkley it’s not whether the players should have to give up so much, it’s that there’s no way to avoid it. Second, you might want to remember that Barkley is great friends with Michael Jordan, who he credits with a vast majority of the popularity of the NBA. With Jordan on the owners’ side, it’s curious that Barkley would be taking this approach, unless his relationship with Jordan has led him to believe the commitment from ownership to scuttle the ship rather than surrender it.

Meanwhile, there’s Reggie Miller, who spoke alongside Barkley in a television interview earlier in the week. Barkley noted the players have to accept 50-50 or there won’t be a season. Miller? He’s in the same mindset.

“If you listen to (Player’s Union head) Billy Hunter’s words when he said, ‘because of the economy, I don’t think the league or the owners want to lose the season,’ well they (the owners) absolutely do want to lose the season,'”Miller, speaking on NBA TV’s “Game Time” Tuesday. “In 1998-99, we weren’t in the middle of an economic downturn. We were coming off some of the biggest ratings ever with Michael Jordan retiring with the second of his three-peats.The fan base was there and the TV ratings were there in ’98-’99.”

Asked how many games he thought would be played in 2011-12, Miller said 50 — the same number that were played in the ’98-99 season.

via Veterans of last NBA lockout, pundits Reggie Miller, Charles Barkley feel owners don’t want to play season | NJ.com.

The players sure could use the biggest stars of yesteryear standing with them, but those guys are paid by NBA.com and its partnership with Turner. Plus, they’re not speaking ill of the union, they’re just saying there’s no way to avoid it. The owners have the leverage.

And they intend to use it.

Watch Paul George drain game-winning floater in 2OT, lift Thunder past Jazz

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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Paul George floated in a basket with less than a second remaining in double-overtime, capping a 45-point night with the winning shot in the Oklahoma City Thunder’s 148-147 victory over the Utah Jazz on Friday.

George dribbled out the final seconds before splitting the Joe Ingles, Ricky Rubio double team then hitting a rainbow floater over Rudy Gobert 0.8 seconds left that gave the Thunder the win.

Kyle Korver got off a desperate 3 for Utah, but it went long as the buzzer sounded.

Russell Westbrook added 43 points, 15 rebounds and eight assists, helping Oklahoma City overcome 38 points from Donovan Mitchell. Westbrook fouled out with 1:09 left in the first overtime, ending his NBA streak of 11 consecutive games with a triple-double.

The game went to overtime after the Thunder’s Jerami Grant completed a tying three-point play, then blocked Mitchells shot at the other end. Grant had 18 points.

In the first overtime, Abdel Nader hit a 3-pointer to give the Thunder a 139-137 lead in the final minute after Westbrook and Terrance Ferguson had fouled out. Utah’s Rudy Gobert tipped in the tying basket with 33.7 seconds left, and George and Mitchell eached missed jumpers in the closing seconds.

Gobert hit two free throws with 1:10 left in the second overtime for a 147-146 lead, but Utah went cold from there. Mitchell’s driving shot off the glass missed the rim, and Joe Ingles missed on a long 3-point try as the shot clock expired with 13.2 seconds left.

Steven Adams played a game-high 47 minutes for Oklahoma City, returning from a pre-All-Star break ankle injury to score 16 points and grab 10 rebounds to go along with five steals.

Derek Favors hit his first 10 shots, finishing with 24 points and 11 rebounds for Utah. Gobert had 26 points and 16 rebounds for the Jazz.

The teams were physical throughout. Westbrook got a flagrant foul for crashing into Gobert while defending a layup, and there was a fracas late in the first half after Jae Crowder fouled the Thunder’s Dennis Schroder.

 

Jeremy Lin says “at times it kind of sucks” being only Asian-American in NBA

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When Jeremy Lin landed in Toronto — after being bought out and waived by the Hawks, clearing the way for him to sign with the Raptors for the playoff push — the number of cameras and reporters in the Raptors locker room instantly ballooned. Lin remains one of the most popular players worldwide in the NBA, he’s a social media phenom, and there are cameras there to track his every move and send it around the world, particularly back to Asia.

Lin isn’t in the NBA because he’s famous and sells tickets — he’s a quality guard who can help a team, there’s a reason the contending Raptors picked him up — but he inhabits the role of both player and groundbreaker.

Lin talked about that (and Asians in popular culture) with Cary Chow of the Undefeated in an interesting Q&A at The Undefeated, where he said being the only Asian-American in the NBA is not easy.

At times it kind of sucks. At other times it’s amazing. Amazing because you get to challenge everyone’s viewpoints and perspectives. I’m rooting for so many more Asians to come in. Last year, when I was with Brooklyn and we had Ding [Yanyuhang] on the summer league team, I was like, ‘Dude, please make the team. We’d have so much fun together during the season.’

On the feeling that he has to represent an entire race.

Yeah. At first it was something I ran from and really struggled with. Now I embrace it way more and am more equipped to handle it. I’m not perfect, but I kind of know who I want to be at this point in my career, so I keep trucking along and doing things the right way and stay above all the distractions.

Lin has handled his fame deftly over the years. He has challenges and opportunities not open to other players, and that’s the balancing act. It takes someone smart, but also grounded and balanced to pull it all off. The Raptors got all that, along with the extra cameras around the team.

Mostly, though, the Raptors got a player who is going to help them make a deep playoff run.

 

Rudy Gobert re-energized ahead of Jazz at Thunder

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ASSOCIATED PRESS — Rudy Gobert didn’t hide his disappointment at not making the NBA All-Star Game for the first time despite averaging 15.2 points and 12.9 rebounds while leading the league in field-goal percentage.

But coming off the 10-day break, the Utah Jazz center says he’s re-energized heading into Friday’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

“Just recharge, completely — mentally, physically,” Gobert said. “For me, I was able to get a little bit of sun and feel a lot better when I get back.

“The next two months, I feel like, will be a lot better.”

The Jazz, who have won 13 of their last 16 games, come out of the break sixth in the Western Conference but with one of the NBA’s easiest schedules down the stretch.

Utah plays just eight of its final 25 games against teams that are above .500.

One of those, though, is Friday night’s game in Oklahoma City, which sits third in the West after winning 11 of 13 before the break.

The Thunder, on the other hand, have one of the league’s most challenging schedules moving forward. Oklahoma City plays 17 of its remaining 25 games against teams above .500 including each of the first five out of the break.

The Thunder have won the first two meetings between the teams, including a 122-113 win on Dec. 10 in Oklahoma City.

An Oklahoma City win would clinch the season series for the Thunder after Utah eliminated Oklahoma City in the first round of the playoffs last season.

The Thunder’s Russell Westbrook has a streak of 10 consecutive triple-doubles. During that stretch, he’s averaged 21.9 points, 13.3 rebounds and 13.5 assists.

Utah is hopeful backup point guard Dante Exum, who has missed the last 17 games with a left ankle sprain, will be able to return against the Thunder.

“I think when he’s playing well, he can have a big impact for us and having him back soon is going to help us a lot,” Gobert said.

The Thunder could have forward Markieff Morris available for the first time. Morris signed with Oklahoma City over the All-Star break after being waived by New Orleans following his trade from Washington on Feb. 7.

Morris was averaging 11.5 points and 5.1 rebounds for the Wizards this season before suffering a neck injury in late December that has kept him out since. Morris was cleared to play two weeks ago.

“We got a big piece in Markieff that we’re excited for, and we’re going to be ready for the second half after this break,” Oklahoma City’s Paul George said.

Thunder coach Billy Donovan said, “We’ll see,” when asked Thursday if Morris would play against the Jazz.

The Thunder also figure to have both starting forward Jerami Grant and backup point guard Dennis Schroder back after each missed the last two games before the break, Grant with an ankle injury and Schroder after the birth of his child.

Friday’s game is the start of a back-to-back for both teams, with the Jazz hosting Dallas on Saturday and Oklahoma City hosting Sacramento.

 

Raptors fans welcome DeMar DeRozan back with loud, standing ovation

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DeMar DeRozan was the greatest Raptor ever. He was an All-Star, he presided over the best seasons in franchise history, and he’s the one guy who re-signed and stood up for a city that has an inferiority complex around its basketball team.

Toronto fans understood the trade that brought Kawhi Leonard to the team — it’s an upgrade on the court — but their love for DeRozan is real.

They showed that on Friday night when DeRozan returned to Toronto for the first time as a member of the Spurs — he got a raucous ovation upon his introduction.

Early in the game he gave them a taste of what he did for them for years, getting the and-1 bucket on the drive.