Josh Smith says Detroit disaster not all his fault

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When you’re as bad as the Pistons are right now — they couldn’t even beat the Sixers — it’s not just one thing. Life is simply not lived in black and white like that, it’s shades of gray.

Josh Smith wants you to know the disaster that is the Pistons is not all his fault.

He spoke with the Detroit News about this season (hat tip to Matt Moore of Eye on Basketball):

“I am an easy target to be able to blame. I’m very outspoken,” Smith said. “I’m an emotional player. I can easily be a target night in and out…

“If you played the game, if you know X’s and O’s, it’s not all my fault,” Smith said. “I’m not gonna say I’m perfect, by far, but I’m not the guy you can point the finger at. I’m a firm believer in you point one finger at one person, point three back at yourself.”

Josh Smith has been Josh Smith this season. On the 46 percent of his total shot attempts he takes inside eight feet he is shooting 55.7 percent. On the 54 percent outside that window he is shooting 29,9 percent, including 25.6 percent from three. However, because Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe have equally bad shooting from the outside, all three of them are trying to occupy the same space inside. When that happens Smith, in the small forward role, steps out on the perimeter. He has had to do that more and more this season as the Pistons continue to play the big three lineup in spite of the evidence of how poorly it works.

And that’s not even getting into Brandon Jennings. Or the defense.

But pointing the finger of blame at Smith is like blaming a cheetah for eating a gazelle — it’s what he does.

That said, the Pistons need him to get back to being more of a jack of all trades, a guy who can defend inside and out, who can run the court, a guy that is a matchup nightmare.

Detroit’s big mistake was putting the roster together this way. Yes, we’re looking at you Joe Dumars, this roster is why you may well be unemployed as of this summer. We all had spacing question the second the Smith signing was announced, although nobody thought their issues would be this severe. Josh Smith is part of that but he’s right, he’s not all of it.

Timberwolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns out 4-6 weeks with calf strain

Minnesota Timberwolves v Washington Wizards
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It’s not good news, but it looked like it could have been much worse.

Timberwolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns is out for weeks with a right calf strain, the team announced Tuesday following an MRI exam. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reports it is likely 4-6 weeks.

The injury occurred midway through the third quarter Monday when Towns started to run back upcourt and went to the ground without contact, grabbing his knee and calf. It looked scary — Achilles scary — and he had to be helped off the court.

Towns has averaged 21.4 points and 8.5 rebounds a game, and while his numbers are down this season — just 32.8% on 3-pointers — the team has struggled at times without him, particularly lineups with Rudy Gobert and Anthony Edwards together, an -11.8 net rating (in non-garbage time minutes, via Cleaning the Glass).

Kevin Durant on chasing MVP: ‘Not really, I’ve been there, done that’

Orlando Magic v Brooklyn Nets
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Kevin Durant carried the Nets to another win Monday night, scoring 45 points on 19-of-24 shooting, plus seven rebounds and five assists.

If you’re having an MVP conversation a quarter of the way into the NBA season, Durant has to be part of it: 30 points per game on 54.8% shooting (and a ridiculous 65.9 true shooting percentage), 6.6 rebounds and 5.5 assists a game, plus playing solid defense and being the anchor of the Nets. After his 45-point outing to get Brooklyn a win over Orlando, Durant was asked about MVP chants and the chase for the award and was clearly not interested.

Durant has MVP numbers, but so do Stephen Curry, Luka Doncic, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jayson Tatum and others. If Durant is going to move to the front of the conversation, the first thing that has to happen is Brooklyn has to win a lot more games — 11-11 is not going to cut it when Tatum’s Celtics and Antetokounmpo’s Bucks have the two best records in the NBA. Winning games and finishing on a top-three team in the conference matters to some voters (and traditionally is one measure of an MVP).

Watch Herb Jones inbound off Pokusevski’s back, seal win for Pelicans

Oklahoma City Thunder v New Orleans Pelicans
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With 2.3 seconds left in the game and the Thunder down 2, they needed to steal the inbounds pass from New Orleans to have a real chance. That’s why when Aleksej Pokusevski walked on the court it looked like he was going to guard the inbounder, Herbert Jones.

Instead, Pokusevski turned his back to Jones, putting himself in position to step in front of anyone cutting to the ball to catch the inbounds. Except, Jones made the clever play to seal the game.

Pokusevski fouled Jones, who sank both free throws and sealed the 105-101 Pelicans win.

The Pelicans got 23-8-8 from Zion Williamson and picked up a win without CJ McCollum or Brandon Ingram in the lineup. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander continued his dominant start to the season and scored 31.

Watch Lakers fan drain half-court shot to win $75,000

Indiana Pacers v Los Angeles Lakers
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It might have been the loudest the crypto.com Arena was all night.

Between the third and fourth quarters, Lakers fan Jamie Murry of Downey won $75,000 draining a half-court shot — and he got to celebrate with Anthony Davis.

Murry’s celebration is the best part — with Anthony Davis coming out to celebrate with him (and seeming a little shocked by the hug).

One other big shot fell at this game, but Lakers’ fans didn’t like it as much — Pacers’ rookie Andrew Nembhard drained a game-winning 3-pointer as time expired.