Dahntay Jones again says he feels bad, didn’t try to intentionally hurt Kobe

36 Comments

Dahntay Jones has been hearing it from everyone today — Kobe Bryant has vociferous defenders online and in the media, and when he sprained his ankle then said and tweeted he felt it was intentional, the attack dogs came out.

And a lot of people such as TrueHoop’s Henry Abbot (certainly not always a Kobe backer) raised legitimate questions about what Jones did — he tightly contested and Kobe’s potentially game-tying shot, but he didn’t leave Kobe room to land. (By the way, did anyone else enjoy the irony of Bruce Bowen calling Jones out for this on ESPN?)

After the game Kobe referenced Jalen Rose, a player that admitted he slid under Kobe intentionally in the NBA finals and forced him to miss a game with a sprained ankle.

On SiriusXM’s Mad Dog Radio channel 86 Thursday, host Adam Schein (“Schein on Sports”) got Jones to talk about the play — and as he tweeted the night before Jones said this was not intentional.

“After the game I felt bad and heard the responses and things of that nature, that he sprained his ankle. After I turned around on the play I saw that he was hurt and I thought that I did hurt him. We went in the locker room and looked at it and when we looked at it from three different angles it looked as if he came down on the floor but my foot was behind where he came down on. And I didn’t feel him come down on my ankle so I never thought he came down on my foot. And usually when shooters come down on your foot they come down on the top of your foot and that’s how they roll [their] ankle. So I felt bad. That’s why I kept looking at the play to make sure I didn’t do anything wrong. And I wasn’t trying to walk up under him. I was trying to contest the jump shot and my job as a defender is to make people uncomfortable and to challenge shots. I had an iso with eight seconds. I was trying to get him to go where I wanted him to. He pulls up and does a fadeaway and his leg kick I ran into and it made him come down awkwardly. That’s how the play went. But I wasn’t trying to walk up under him. It’s very hard to time somebody’s foot, to walk under someone’s foot and do things of that nature when the game is on the line….

“I just wanted to do my job and just try to contest the shot. It was a fadeaway. When guys shoot fadeaways you’re not just supposed to let them go, you’re supposed to keep playing and try and get as close as possible to be able to challenge the shot. I didn’t want to give up on the play. I wanted to make sure I was there so he would at least see me and feel me. I didn’t have a chance to worry about his landing. I didn’t want to hurt him and get in the middle of his landing but I was just trying to contest the shot.”

This comes back to the basic argument — Jones contested and had to move in to do so because it was a fadeaway. He clearly didn’t give Kobe enough room to land, but Kobe was kicking out his right leg as well (it’s clear on the video).

I don’t think what Jones did was intentional. I think there is a valid case to be made that you should call every foul when a player doesn’t have room to land, but that is not how the league has called things pretty much ever. And you do need to be careful because if you start calling it the best offensive players will try to draw that foul, the same way they did with the rip move.

It’s a complex issue. Kobe will use it as fuel because Kobe uses everything as fuel. But I don’t see Jones as a villain.

Lakers’ Jeanie Buss: “I have 100 percent confidence in Rob Pelinka”

Getty Images
2 Comments

Internally, the Lakers believe they are on the right track: They signed LeBron James as a free agent, they spent years acquiring assets then turned those assets into Anthony Davis, and they believe the roster that will take the court next season will bring vindication for the front office and ownership group. The Lakers believe they will be back on top, where they belong.

From the outside, um, let’s just say there are doubts around the league. Doubts about all the picks — particularly the pick swaps and deferments — that the Lakers gave up to get Davis and now that could hurt them in the future. There are doubts about the ability of Rob Pelinka to build out a roster around LeBron and Davis that is truly a threat.

Jeanie Buss has no such doubts. Speaking to Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times (and other reporters) at the NBA Awards show Monday, Buss expressed nothing but confidence in Pelinka and the Lakers’ staff.

“I’ve always had confidence in Rob, whatever the speculation is out there,” Buss said. “We don’t need outside media to validate the things that we do. I’m very happy and I think we’re on the right path.”

“I have 100% confidence in him in running his basketball operations,” Buss said. “He’s brought us a great new head coach in Frank Vogel, whose teams have had a lot of success in the playoffs and who have played consistently ranking high in defense, which means not only does he emphasize defense but the players buy into his defensive schemes.”

The question isn’t Vogel’s credentials, although how a staff with Jason Kidd, Lionel Hollins, and other veteran coaches with big egos will mesh together is going to be interesting.

The question is talent.

The Lakers have the high end of that with LeBron and Davis, but when you think about the Laker title teams of the past it wasn’t just Shaq and Kobe, it was also Derek Fisher and Robert Horry and Rick Fox and a host of others. The same thing was true in this past Finals — the deeper team won because the Raptors could adapt and handle their star not being 100 percent.

Are the Lakers going to chase another star and then complete the roster with minimum salary players? Or, get two or three quality role players with their cap space to have a deeper team? Has this all been planned out and thought through? Maybe Rob Pelinka builds this roster out beautifully, but we only have one year of experience to judge him on, and that did not go well.

Buss may have confidence, she should, the rest of us are in wait and see mode.

The Greek Freak has arrived, Giannis Antetokounmpo wins NBA MVP

Daniel/Getty Images
5 Comments

Mike Budenholzer came in with a plan — an offense built around the fact no one man on the planet can guard Giannis Antetokounmpo.

It worked. The Bucks won 60 games and had the best record in the NBA. Budenholzer picked up Coach of the Year hardware for his efforts.

Now Antetokounmpo has won the NBA MVP award, edging out James Harden (who chose not to attend the NBA’s awards show in Los Angeles Monday). He was emotional in thanking teammates for helping him reach this point, then talking about his father.

Antetokounmpo averaged 27.7 points and 12.5 rebounds a game, but it was his ability to destroy any defender one-on-one that made the Bucks offense work. Either the Greek Freak got to the basket and finished, he drew a foul, or he drew so much attention the shooters that surrounded him on the floor had clean looks of their own. He also was the Bucks best defender, a guy tasked with tough assignments nightly.

Antetokounmpo was the best player on the best team.

Antetokounmpo won the award handily with 941 points to Harden’s 776. The Greek Freak had 78 of the 100 first place votes.

James Harden — who averaged 36.1 points, 7.5 assists, and 6.6 rebounds per game — finished second in the voting, Paul George of Oklahoma City was third. Harden has finished first or second in the voting for four of the past five seasons. Harden believed he deserved to win and was frustrated with another second.

Antetokounmpo is the first player from Europe to win the MVP award since Dirk Nowitzki in 2007.

Nikola Jokic came in fourth in the voting, Stephen Curry was fifth. Here are the full results:

 

 

Rudy Gobert wins NBA Defensive Player of the Year for second straight season

Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images
2 Comments

Rudy Gobert owns the paint for the Utah Jazz.

And he owns the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award.

Gobert won his second straight DPOY award Monday night, beating out the other 2019 finalists Giannis Antetokounmpo and Paul George.

The Jazz had the second best defense in the regular season and it is completely built around Gobert and his abilities in the paint, which is what separated him for this award. Utah’s defense was 20.1 points per 100 possessions better when Gobert was on the court and gave up less than a point per possession with him as the anchor.

This was a deep field with players such as Myles Turner of the Pacers, Joel Embiid of the 76ers and others getting votes as well.

Bucks’ Mike Budenholzer named NBA Coach of the Year

Getty Images
1 Comment

Mike Budenholzer unleashed Giannis Antetokounmpo and from the start that made him the Coach of the Year favorite (and maybe Antetokounmpo MVP).

It was a wire-to-wire win for Budenholzer, who was the frontrunner for this award from early on and was named the NBA Coach of the Year Monday night, the second time he has won this award (Atlanta in 2015).

Budenholzer was the favorite with good reason. The Bucks won 16 more games than the season before and had the best record in the NBA, they improved their net rating by +10.1, and became a top-five team on both ends of the floor. To be fair, part of Budenholzer’s success was a contrast to how poorly the previous coach handled this roster, but give Budenholzer credit for utilizing players well.

He beat out Doc Rivers of the Clippers and Mike Malone of the Nuggets in what was a very deep field for this award.