Carmelo Anthony among multiple Knicks ejected in ugly loss to Bulls

50 Comments

The best teams in the league don’t enjoy losing, and they especially don’t take well to getting blown out at home by a team it doesn’t believe is up to that task.

Chicago came into Madison Square Garden on Friday and used its trademark defense to obliterate the team at the top of the Eastern Conference standings. Behind 29 points and 13 rebounds from Luol Deng, to go along with 15 points, 12 rebounds, and six assists from Joakim Noah, the Bulls not only won in New York by a final of 110-106, but got under the Knicks’ collective skin in the process.

It was only New York’s second home loss on the season, but it was also the team’s second home loss in its last three games.

Chicago came out and stifled the Knicks offense from the start, getting out to a 15-point halftime lead after limiting New York to just 39 first-half points, while shutting down the Knicks’ trademark three-point attack by holding them to just 2-of-12 shooting in the first two quarters from distance.

The Bulls are an extremely tough team to deal with when facing a large deficit as the Knicks were on Friday, and as a result, New York’s players and coaches were unable to contain their collective frustration as the game continued to be out of reach.

J.R. Smith had 26 points in just under 32 minutes of action before fouling out with just over seven minutes to play. His leaving was legitimate, but with the Knicks trailing by 15 late and the game becoming more and more likely to end in the Bulls’ favor, the dominoes started to fall.

Carmelo Anthony was the next to go, getting ejected 15 seconds later for arguing a foul call with the officials. Tyson Chandler and the Bulls’ Noah were ejected a few minutes later for one of those confrontations where no one was going to throw a punch, but the posturing and the words exchanged left the officials with no choice but to rid the game of the players involved.

Knicks head coach Mike Woodson also was ejected, with the game clearly out of hand and the officials losing control, at least to a certain extent.

The referees weren’t the reason the Knicks found themselves on the wrong end of this one, of course, but the game wasn’t exactly one of the best officiated on the young season.

No, 17 turnovers and a low shooting percentage to go along with a sluggish start are what doomed the Knicks on this night. But the ugly way in which the team handled its performance, by having multiple players and its head coach ejected in the final period when things weren’t going their way was a less than professional way to go out, and not exactly indicative of a team that’s ready to handle the pressures associated with being one of the league’s elite.

James Harden reiterates it was “false talk” he and Chris Paul were at odds

Bob Levey/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Houston Rockets — not in an anonymous way, but in a “we are putting our names on this, quote me” kind of way — have pushed back hard on the narrative that there was tension between Chris Paul and James Harden that led to the Rockets trading CP3 for Russell Westbrook this offseason. Rockets GM Daryl Morey has denied it, team leader P.J. Tucker called it fake news, and Paul himself has pushed back.

Harden has done that again, speaking at his camp on Saturday.

The counter-argument to this: Chris Paul is in Oklahoma City right now.

People will believe what they want to believe, but the Rockets guys have all gone on the record about this. Nothing leaked and anonymous.

From the Rockets’ perspective, they made a trade for Westbrook that is a roster upgrade. Houston has a dynamic duo that can compete with the Los Angeles teams and the other contenders around the league, and whatever questions fans and the media may have about the ultimate fit of Harden and Westbrook the talent level is not in question.

Do the Rockets make that trade if everything is great between Harden and Paul? Probably, if they saw CP3 as in decline and Westbrook as a talent upgrade (which they did). The Rockets can be a cold, business-like organization in terms of their pursuit of a title.

We will see next season if that calculation paid off. Whether or not Harden and CP3 got along.

Report: Kyle Korver reaches one-year deal to join Milwaukee Bucks

Associated Press
5 Comments

The Bucks can never have enough shooting around a driving Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Enter Kyle Korver. The veteran sharpshooter will be headed to Milwaukee on a one-year contract, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

This is a quality pickup at the minimum (it is a veteran minimum contract). Korver averaged 8.6 points per game last season, taking 72 percent of his shots from beyond the arc and knocking down 39.7 percent of them. The man has gravity and pulls a defender because even at age 38 defenders cannot leave him. Shooting is a skill always in demand.

The Bucks will start Wesley Matthews at the two and have Sterling Brown behind him. They have Khris Middleton and Pat Connaughton at the three. Now they have some reliable veteran depth at those spots and a guy who can hit the big shot for them.

James Harden buys piece of MLS Houston Dynamo

Getty Images
2 Comments

NBA players being minority owners in a soccer team is not new, LeBron James owns a small piece of Champions’ League winner Liverpool, for example.

James Harden is keeping it closer to home — he bought a share of the Dynamo, Houston’s MLS franchise.

“I’m very excited about the opportunity to join the ownership group of the Houston Dynamo and Houston Dash and proud to be a part of a club with tremendous history and a great future,” Harden said in a statement. “Houston is my home now, and I saw this as a way to invest in my city and expand my business interests at the same time. Soccer in general, and especially MLS, have exploded in this country throughout my lifetime. I’ve been a fan of the game for several years, and I know that Houston has a massive soccer fanbase, so it was an easy decision for me when this opportunity arose.”

Harden reportedly purchased a five percent stake in the team.

The Dynamo — a former MLS cup champion and a franchise that has consistently been strong — is primarily owned by Gabriel Brener, and it has boxing legend Oscar De La Hoya as one of its minority owners.

Harden has earned more than $141 million in NBA salary in his 10 NBA seasons and has four years left on the $228 million contract extension he signed with the team in 2017. In addition, he has a large shoe contract with Adidas and other endorsements.

Report: R.C. Buford moving on from Spurs GM role, Brian Wright taking over

Getty Images
Leave a comment

For 15 years, through championships and an unparalleled run of playoff berths and success, R.C. Buford and Gregg Popovich seemed to work as one brain. Popovich was the coach but also team president, Buford the GM, and together they built an NBA powerhouse.

Buford is moving on from that role. Or, more precisely moving up into a new management role, and assistant GM Brian Wright is taking over as GM, reports Jabari Young of The Athletic.

After a little more than 15 years serving as GM, Buford is getting prepared to bequeath the role to assistant GM Brian Wright, league sources have confirmed to The Athletic. Wright will report directly to Buford, who will officially get a new title that some around the NBA believe will be a role helping to oversee Spurs Sports & Entertainment.

When the Spurs initially hired Wright in 2016, he stayed behind the scenes and focused mainly on scouting. But sources have informed The Athletic over the last year Wright has been more involved, even fielding calls and packages for the trade of Kawhi Leonard the previous summer.

Wright came to the Spurs from the Pistons a couple of years ago. That said, don’t expect a big change in how things are done in the Spurs front office. For one thing, Popovich is still there. Also, Wright has an excellent reputation around the league as being smart and a straight shooter. On top of all of that, Buford will remain his ultimate boss, although Buford’s role will change into one of more of a business manager for Spurs Sports & Entertainment.

Young hints there could be more changes coming. Obviously, the biggest would be when Popovich decides to step back in his dual roles as coach and president, but there could be shifts in the assistant GM ranks as well.

Just don’t expect the Spurs to stop being the Spurs.