There is a lot of masked, subtle brilliance to what Kevin Durant does. It’s almost like drinking a fine wine — you have to know what flavors you’re looking for to appreciate it fully.
Durant had one particular sequence against the Dallas Mavericks yesterday that embodies that. His block on Darren Collison wasn’t just a 6-foot-10 guy blocking a much shorter guy; it was speed and timing blended beautifully. Watch Durant beat Collison in a dead heat from half court and then time his strides perfectly to meet the ball at the top of the square on the backboard. A nanosecond later and it’s goaltending, but if he comes any earlier Collison probably draws the foul.
Of course, this is where it gets fun. Durant then takes the ball from one baseline (he was actually out of bounds, so there’s that) all the way to the other to dunk on Chris Kaman, a 7-footer that had all the time in the world to prepare himself. But again, the dunk itself might not even be the most impressive thing here. Watch how effortlessly Durant takes the ball 94 feet in six dribbles. Six! Watch him bounce like a long-jumper on his approach to the rim, building up his momentum to elevate towards the rim. Sometimes with Durant, the lead-up to the highlight play is actually better than the payoff:
Stephen Curry had an I-don’t-want-to-play-Game-5 kind of first half for Golden State, scoring 25 points and hitting 5-of-7 from three.
However, he was the second best player on the court because Meyers Leonard held that crown.
Yes, Meyers Leonard.
He had 25 points of his own on 10-of-12 shooting.
Fans broke out a “Mey-ers Leon-ard” chant.
All that had Portland up 69-65 at the half in a defense-optional Game 4 where it is win-or-go-home for the Trail Blazers.
When the Knicks acquired Emmanuel Mudiay last season — a player Denver just released outright — Mudiay instantly jumped past Frank Ntilikina on the point guard depth chart. Then, when the Knicks traded for Dennis Smith Jr. at the deadline (part of the Kristaps Porzingis deal), the future of Ntilikina in New York was thrown into uncertainty.
Ntilikina sees that, wants out, and is getting a new agent as well, reports Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News.
Knicks guard Frank Ntilikina dropped CAA as his agency last season and planned to sign with French agent Bouna Ndiaye, the Daily News has learned.
Ntilikina, who was drafted eighth overall by Knicks in 2017, is on the trading block and desires a relocation, a source told the News. The Knicks declined offers to move Ntilikina at the trade deadline in February, acquired another point guard in Dennis Smith Jr., and Ntilikina quickly decided to change agents.
Ndiaye represents several French players in the NBA, including Rudy Gobert and Evan Fournier.
The Knicks are expected to try to trade Ntilikina, either at the draft or next summer. Mostly other teams will view him as a way to save money — if teams do not pick up his 2020-21 option by Oct. 31 he comes off the books after this next season — but also Ntilikina played good defense and other teams may try to take a flier on him.
Andre Iguodala was limited in Game 3 in Portland, playing just 18 minutes Saturday night, none after he was taken out with 7:49 left in the third quarter. An MRI on his left calf Sunday came back clean, but he was questionable with leg tightness, officially. Call it a sore calf if you prefer.
Up 3-0 in the series, there was no reason to risk something worse in Game 4, so Iguodala is out, coach Steve Kerr announced pregame.
Alfonzo McKinnie will start in place of Iguodala.
Iguodala joins Kevin Durant and DeMarcus Cousins on the Warriors bench for Game 4.
If there is a Game 5, it will be Wednesday night in the Bay Area.
With the NBA Finals not starting until May 30 — a week from this Thursday — the Warriors have plenty of time to rest and get their starters healed before taking on a serious challenger from the East (whether that is Milwaukee or Toronto). The Warriors have used their depth against Portland to help keep minutes down for their starters and Kerr will lean on that bench to close out the series in the next couple of games.
Mike D’Antoni, the father of the seven seconds or less system that started a revolution of NBA style, has changed in recent years. In Houston, with James Harden at his peak and this specific roster around him, D’Antoni now coaches an isolation-heavy team that has pushed the NBA envelope in other ways, particularly in trusting the three ball.
D’Antoni fits with Daryl Morey, and the sides have started talking contract extension, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
The Houston Rockets and coach Mike D’Antoni have had preliminary discussions about the framework of a contract extension that would keep the two-time NBA Coach of the Year from entering the final year of his deal…
“I’ve let [general manager] Daryl [Morey] and [team owner] Tilman [Fertitta] know that I’m energized to keep coaching — and believe that I can continue to do this at a high level for at least another three years,” D’Antoni, 68, told ESPN on Sunday night.
“I want to be a part of a championship here.”
This is the smart move, he is a part of what has made the Rockets such a success in recent years.
The Rockets should look for roster upgrades this summer but they should not be blowing things up. The Rockets were the second best team in the NBA last season and may have been again by the playoffs this season (it depends on where you want to put Milwaukee and Toronto in that ranking, but the Rockets were in the mix). Houston’s problem has been a historic dynasty in Golden State, but that could look very different next season. If the Warriors take a step or two back, for whatever reasons, Houston is poised to pounce. They will be contenders.
D’Antoni is a part of that, and the Rockets need to keep one of the best coaches in the game in house.