Horace Grant is doing his best to add to the mythology of Michael Jordan… we all might as well join in. I’ve heard Jordan turned water into wine, slayed the Nemean lion, and along with Babe the Big Blue Ox dug the Grand Canyon.
Grant is with the Bulls in Rio for an exhibition game and was asked about the tiresome today’s heat vs. Michael Jordan’s Bulls comparison (please just make it stop). What did you think Grant would say?
“No, you can’t compare (eras),” he said. “The rules have changed so much from our days and the Heat’s days. It was more physical back then. Today you can run around without getting touched. Today, Michael Jordan would average about 45 points.”
He’s right, you can’t compare eras.
Also, I have no doubt Jordan could score 45 a game now. If they really wanted to LeBron James, Kevin Durant, pre-injury Kobe Bryant and pre-injury Derrick Rose could as well. But what those guys know — what Jordan knows — is that you can’t win that way consistently. You have to get your teammates involved. Jordan would have.
I’m fully over the LeBron vs. Jordan comparison — we don’t know LeBron’s legacy because he’s still at his peak, but LeBron likely will never match Jordan’s resume; however that is separate from the better player argument, which is always eye of the beholder — but here is Grant’s comments about Scottie Pippen saying LeBron could be the greater all around player.
“Scottie was really drinking that day when he said that,” Grant said, drawing laughter. “You can’t compare anybody to Michael. You can compare, but Michael is the best player I’ve ever seen or ever played against. Not taking anything away from Kobe (Bryant) or LeBron or Carmelo (Anthony) or even DRose, but wait until those guys get through playing. Then you can say compare the two careers.”
Exactly. We shouldn’t have this discussion until LeBron’s career (or Kobe’s or anyone’s) is over. Not that it will stop any of you in the comments.
Russell Westbrook and Jamal Murray scuffle (video)
“You can’t tell me that one of the best players in the league takes 100 hits and shoots four free throws, and they handed him two for charity at the end,” Nurse said in a two-part rant that will earn him a fine from the league office. “So he was going to have two free throws for the game with all the physical hits and holding and driving and chucking and doubling and slapping and reaching and all the stuff. It’s been going on all year. I do not understand why they are letting everyone play one of the best players in the league so physically. I do not understand it.
“Tonight was a very severe case of a guy who was playing great, taking it to the rim and just getting absolutely held, grabbed, poked, slapped, hit and everything. And they refused to call any of it. It’s unbelievable to me. Unbelievable to me. It’s ridiculous. The guy is one of the best players in the league and he doesn’t complain, he doesn’t do this, he doesn’t do that, and they just turn their head and go the other way. It’s been going on all year.”
Westbrook and Murray each received technical fouls. Nurse will probably get fined.
But there’s only so much anyone can do about the Nuggets. They’re very good. Teams should get more prepared to handle frustration when facing Denver.
Indiana hires WNBA’s Kelly Krauskopf, she’s first female assistant general manager in NBA
Krauskopf will work with the Pacers basketball operations staff, including President of Basketball Operations Kevin Pritchard, general manager Chad Buchanan and assistant GM Peter Dinwiddie.
Good for the Pacers — hire the best, brightest, most capable people and the organization will thrive. Krauskopf has unquestionably shown she knows how to run a basketball organization.
Krauskopf was the long-time president of the WNBA’s Indiana Fever who helped guide them to three Finals appearances and the 2012 WNBA title. She also worked with USA Basketball, helping select the American women’s teams that have dominated the sport. Then in 2017 jumped to the Pacers to head up their NBA2K League team.
Now she becomes the highest-ranking woman in an NBA front office (she will not have any WNBA or esports duties anymore).
Krauskopf is not alone, however, as Wojnarowski noted.
There is a growing number of women in front office basketball roles in the NBA, including Becky Bonner (Orlando), Amanda Green (Oklahoma City), Teresa Resch (Toronto), Michelle Leftwich (Atlanta), Ariana Andonian (Houston) and Natalie Jay (Brooklyn).
Three Things to Know: When good John Wall shows up and hustles, the Wizards can impress
Sunday, the Wizards just flat-out beat the Lakers.
Midseason trades can light a fire under a team, and while Ariza has yet to put on a Wizards jersey (again, he was with the franchise from 2012-14) something seemed to light a fire under John Wall and the Wizards. Maybe it’s the trade, maybe it was LeBron James coming to town.
Whatever it was, the Wizards played their best game of the season beating the Lakers 128-110. It was an impressive performance from a team that has looked like it’s thinking about postgame dinner reservations much of the season. The question is can Washington repeat Sunday’s effort? David Aldridge of The Athletic (and myself, and just about everyone who has watched Washington this season) has doubts.
Now, can they bring the same effort and focus in a half-empty building in 48 hours against a six-win Atlanta team? That I’m asking the question answers the question.
The real take away from this game: The Lakers go as LeBron James goes, when John Wall hustles the Wizards go as he does.
Wall has been at the heart of the disappointing 12-18 start in Washington, often showing little effort on offense when the ball was not in his hands, looking disinterested on defense, and putting up good counting stats but not contributing the little things that help a team win. Sunday the Wall the Wizards need showed up — 40 points, 14 assists, six rebounds, three steals, and two blocks. Wall was a blur with the ball, making plays in transition, and tearing up Lonzo Ball, Lance Stephenson, and anyone else Luke Walton sent to guard him.
With LeBron, he is the Lakers’ best playmaker and the focal point of everything they do — as he should be — and when he’s off Los Angeles is a different team. An unimpressive team. In Laker wins, LeBron has an insane true shooting percentage of 62.9; in losses that falls to a slightly above average 56.1 percent, plus in wins LeBron’s assists and rebounds are up. Put more starkly, in Laker wins the team out scores opponents by 18.6 per 100 possessions when LeBron is on the court, in losses they get outscored by 12.4 — a more than 30 point per 100 swing.
Sunday in our nation’s capital, LeBron had 13 points on 5-of-16 shooting, had six assists but four turnovers, and was -18. The result was ugly, just a day after his triple-double in Charlotte had the Lakers humming as a team in a blowout win.
The Lakers are 2-3 in their last five away from home with a game in Brooklyn Tuesday closing out a string of road wins games.
2) The hottest team in the East? Indiana has now won seven in a row. Discussion of the best teams in the East tends to focus on Toronto, Boston, Milwaukee, and if Philadelphia is on that level yet.
Don’t sleep on Indiana. The Pacers are 20-10, third in the East (ahead of the Sixers and Celtics) and after knocking off the Knicks Sunday they have won seven in a row. Much of that without Victor Oladipo, although he was back and dropped 26 points on just 13 shots on New York.
What has sparked the Pacers’ run is their defense, which has given up less than a point per possession in the last seven games, best in the NBA over that stretch. (Their offense has been middle of the pack, which has been enough.) Opponents are shooting a league-low 41.2 percent against the Pacers in the last seven, plus opponents are not moving the ball well (just 21.7 assists, third lowest in the league in those seven) and they are not getting to the glass. Myles Turner has played strong defense inside, helping key the run.
While much of the Pacers’ run has come against a soft spot in the schedule, they have knocked off the Bucks and Sixers in this stretch. December win streaks are not harbingers of playoff success, but ignore the Pacers at your own peril. This team can play.
3) Sacramento’s De’Aaron Fox just ran right past Dallas on the way to 28 points. There is nobody in the league right now faster end-to-end with the ball than De'Aaron Fox. Watch this play from Sunday: What other players can get the rebound (away from a bigger player) and get end-to-end on a one-man fast break better than this? Russell Westbrook, sure. John Wall in the sporadic games he decides to hustle. Fox is with the NBA’s elite in that category?
Fox and backcourt teammate Buddy Hield each had 28 points in Sacramento’s road win in Dallas, spoiling Dirk Nowitzki‘s home debut. The Kings looked like a team with an elite backcourt and Dallas could do nothing about it. These games matter — the win moves Sacramento into a three-way tie for the 6/7/8 seeds in the West, while Dallas is now the 9 seed half-a-game back. When the season ends, these conference games are going to matter in the brutally tight West.
WASHINGTON (AP) Amid all of his team’s losses and infighting and roster flux, John Wall showed just how well he’s capable of playing, producing 40 points and 14 assists to lead the Washington Wizards past a sluggish LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers, 128-110 Sunday night.
A day after he and Lonzo Ball each registered a triple-double in a win at Charlotte, James was limited to a season-low 13 points, along with six rebounds and three assists, while making just five of 16 shots. The four-time NBA MVP sat out the fourth quarter.
The Wizards emphatically ended a four-game losing streak, going up by as many as 18 in the first quarter and 27 in the third.
They took full advantage of an opponent playing on a second consecutive night, although James and the Lakers had been 5-1 in the second half of back-to-back sets this season.
The Lakers opened Sunday’s game by going 5 for 19, 0 for 8 on 3s. Washington, meanwhile, made its first five shots and 13 of its first 18, taking a 26-8 lead on Wall’s layup.
Wall’s play was often spectacular, including one no-look, through-the-legs pass to Sam Dekker for an easy bucket.
The All-Star point guard ended the first half with a step-back baseline rainbow jumper over 7-foot-1 center Tyson Chandler to make it 71-51. Wall turned and slapped palms with a couple of front-row folks, then spread his arms wide and basked in the ovation.
By then, Wall already had 28 points, outscoring LA’s five starters – James, Ball, Chandler, Kyle Kuzma and Josh Hart – by six.
Recently acquired reserve forward Dekker scored a season-high 20 for Washington, including a buzzer-beating bank shot at the end of the third quarter that put the hosts ahead 99-76.
Washington was without starting center Dwight Howard, who had back surgery, and injured starting forward Otto Porter Jr., while a pair of players – Kelly Oubre Jr. and Austin Rivers – were unavailable because they are on their way out of town via a trade that is still not officially complete.
“We’re playing against one of the greatest players to ever play the game,” Wizards coach Scott Brooks said before tipoff, “and we definitely are undermanned.”
Didn’t matter on this night.
Lakers: C JaVale McGee missed the game with flu-like symptoms. … A pair of sneakers James wore during a game at the Wizards a year ago Monday – one black, one white, with the word “equality” in capital gold letters on the back of each – was recently placed on display at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. … Ball finished with 10 points, five rebounds and four assists.
Wizards: The deal bringing Trevor Ariza to Washington from the Phoenix Suns is still not official, so Oubre and Rivers were listed as inactive Sunday because of “trade pending.” … Markieff Morris left at halftime because of a neck strain. … Porter missed his third game in a row with a bruised knee. … Jeff Green started in Porter’s place and scored 20 points.
Lakers: At Brooklyn on Tuesday to close a four-game road trip.