AARP group could spark Wizards

5 Comments

WASHINGTON – The Wizards are the youngest team still playing in the Eastern Conference, but they’re not defined completely by their youthful backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal.

They also have what Washington coach Randy Wittman has dubbed the “AARP group” – Andre Miller, Al Harrington and Drew Gooden.

In Game 4 against the Pacers on Sunday, the AARP group nearly led the Wizards to victory and the unit could key a Washington comeback trailing 3-1 in the series.

Miller (38), Harrington (34) and Gooden (32) are the Wizards’ oldest players, and they often played together flanked by Beal and Martell Webster. When that lineup entered Game 4 in the second quarter, the Wizards immediately went on a 12-0 run.

“Thank god,” Wittman said. “They kind of saved the day.”

In the three-point loss, the Wizards outscored the Pacers by 19 points in the 15 minutes Miller, Harrington, Gooden, Beal and Webster played together.

That level of success is no huge surprise. That unit was +32 in 151 minutes during the regular season (offensive rating: 116.0/defensive rating: 104.8/net rating: +11.2).

Harrington’s and Gooden’s ability to space the floor could keep giving Roy Hibbert problems. As well as Hibbert has played lately, he’s still vulnerable when pulled from the paint.

But maybe Wittman stuck with the AARP group too long Sunday. Harrington (11 points, six rebounds and three steals), Gooden (10 points, four rebounds and three blocks) and Miller (seven points and four assists) faded late.

And Paul George excelled, overcoming what was on track to be a special night for the AARP group when it left the court for Wall to lead the team down the stretch.

“Sometimes,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel said, acknowledging the Wizards’ success, “you can be undone by a special performance.”

Karl-Anthony Towns shoots down trade rumors, and was that a dig at Jimmy Butler?

Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Karl-Anthony Towns was back on the court for the first time in a month Friday night, dropping 27 on the Pacers and looking every bit one of the best big men in the game (even as he shook off a little rust).

Towns’ name was in the news while he was out, with reports about how the Knicks dream was to trade for him and Warriors were monitoring his situation. There has been zero Towns trade talk around the league — he is in the first year of a five-year contract extension and wants to give the new Timberwolves’ new management a chance to build around him — but that hasn’t squashed the speculation.

So Towns tried to do that after Friday night’s game — and takes a little dig at Jimmy Butler in the process. Via Chris Hine of the Star Tribune.

“I think you’ve been around me long enough to know I don’t go for all the s***,” Towns said. “I just do my job, go home and I know what the real story is. There’s a reason those stories are made because people need to sell papers, sell links and clicks, whatever the case may be. I’m here to be a Minnesota Timberwolf. Very fortunate I have a head coach like [Ryan Saunders], a President and friend like [Gersson Rosas]. I’m not worried about all that nonsense.

“Whatever we have to deal with in house, we’ll deal with in house, but this ain’t the circus like it used to be. This is something that’s going to be done as a family. If we have a problem or anything, we’ll deal with it internally. We won’t have any external forces here adding anything.”

The circus/family comments are clearly a little dig at Jimmy Butler.

The circus was at the start of the 2018-19 season, when Butler wanted out of Minnesota and went full diva to create a massive distraction and force then coach/GM Tom Thibodeau’s hand. Butler was traded to the Sixers, and then last summer left Philadelphia for Miami (where he has played at an All-NBA level). Butler may not have loved how he perceived Towns (and, more so, Andrew Wiggins) commitment to the game, but Towns was no fan of how Butler handled his business. Towns doesn’t like things dealt with that publicly.

Towns was playing at an All-NBA level himself this season before his injury, including shooting 41.5 percent on 8.5 threes a game — KAT has been an offensive force. Rosas, however, has a lot of work to do to build a quality team around Towns. Towns committed to Minnesota with this new contract and, while he may be frustrated with the losing this season, he’s not going Anthony Davis.

A couple of years from now… who knows? That’s a couple of lifetimes away in the NBA. Until then, teams will monitor Towns’ situation and mood, he will shoot down trade rumors, and the cycle will go on.

Somehow, Ja Morant highlights keep getting better (video)

Ja Morant
Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Ja Morant is special.

He has already produced a few amazing plays during his rookie year. He has even taken over full games with his flashy play.

But the performance he put on during the Grizzlies’ win over the Cavaliers last night was something else.

Thrice, Morant elevated for show-stopping dunks. He scored only once. But each time, something incredible happened.

First, Morant way up to catch a lob from Jae Crowder, adjusted mid-air and found Jaren Jackson Jr. for a dunk:

Then, less than a minute later, Morant finished a lob from Crowder with a beautiful one-handed slam:

Finally, Morant leaped to posterize Larry Nance Jr., realized that wouldn’t work then threw a spinning behind-the-back pass to Jackson. Though Alfonzo McKinnie blocked Jackson, Morant’s move was dazzling:

If Morant is going to keep putting on shows like this during games, maybe we can forgive him for skipping the dunk contest.

Trae Young gets ankles absolutely destroyed by Dejounte Murray (video)

Leave a comment

The Hawks got Trae Young his desired help, trading for Jeff Teague.

Maybe Young will do his part and step up on defense.

That didn’t happen on this possession against Spurs guard Dejounte Murry.

At least Young continued his breakout season on the other end, scoring 31 points and dishing nine assists in Atlanta’s rare victory in San Antonio.

Tristan Thompson slaps Jae Crowder’s rear end, gets ejected (video)

Leave a comment

What is it about Cleveland athletes slapping butts and getting in trouble?

Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. faces a simple battery charge for slapping a police officer’s backside in LSU’s locker room after the College Football Playoff National Championship.

Last night, Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson got ejected for slapping Grizzlies forward Jae Crowder‘s behind.

Thompson and Crowder got double technical fouls earlier in the game. So, Thompson got ejected with a tech for this incident between free throws.

Though the two are former Cleveland teammates, Crowder didn’t look amused. Crowder doesn’t play.

The Cavs rallied without Thompson, but Memphis won, 113-109.