Five Takeaways from NBA Monday: Mount Stephen Curry erupts in win

Associated Press
0 Comments

Here’s what you need to know from a Monday night around the NBA:

1) Stephen Curry broke out of his slump with a volcanic eruption. Curry had been in a slump for more than a week. In his prior five games coming into Monday night, he was shooting 28.1 percent from three (9-of-32). In the first quarter against the Kings Monday night it continued, he was 0-of-4 from the floor overall and 0-of-3 from beyond the arc.

Then it happened. Mount Curry erupted in the second quarter — 17 points in a just over three-minute span at the end of the first half.

So much for that slump. And so much for the Kings, despite Omri Casspi having nine threes of his own on the night. Curry finished with a triple double — 23 points, 14 rebounds, 10 assists — while Klay Thompson added 29 points and Draymond Green 25 and the Warriors won again 122-103. That would make them 29-1 on the season, for those of you scoring at home. If they want 72 wins it seems a more and more reasonable goal every day.

2) DeMarcus Cousins gets ejected after arguing foul call. He should get his checkbook out now. The Kings fell victim to one of the classic blunders — the most famous of which is “never get involved in a land war in Asia” — but only slightly less well-known is this: Never get into a shootout with the Golden State Warriors. George Karl wants the Kings to play fast, but once Curry got going (see above) things spiraled downward fast for Sacramento in the third.

Especially once DeMarcus Cousins got ejected for arguing a call.

This was a classic example of a Cousins’ ejection. That questionable call — Cousins does touch Curry but it seemed Ben McLemore commits the foul — was Cousins’ fifth foul of the night. He was frustrated. And when Cousins feels wronged he simply is incapable of letting it go, he needs to feel vindicated (and doesn’t channel that anger into his play). He lets his emotions get the better of him. And he does it without regard to his team — notice in that video the Kings were up two when Cousins got tossed. The Warriors went on a 15-0 run after Cousins was sent to the shower and that was the ballgame.

Cousins can expect a fine for this from the league.

Kings’ fans, if you want more in-depth breakdowns of what is going on in Sacramento I had CSNBayArea.com Kings’ insider James Ham on the PBT Podcast this week and we spent more than an hour talking all things Sacramento.

3) Kemba Walker shreds Lakers “defense” for 38 points. On the list of “most entertaining players in the NBA to watch” Kemba Walker doesn’t get mentioned enough. The man puts up points and puts on a show. Put him against the Lakers “defense” and you end up with him dropping 38 in a win.

4) Chris Paul for the Dunk Contest. The story for the Clippers Monday night should be that Paul Pierce moved into the starting lineup for the injured Blake Griffin and that lineup was +9 on the night and showed promise on both ends of the floor. Or, the story should be that the Clippers actually got good bench play for a night and that is why they beat the Wizards 108-91.

Instead, the story is that Chris Paul threw down his first two dunks of the season. The first came off some cherry picking, and he let the bench know he could do it.

With that Paul was feeling it, so he went for the dunk on a drive and got the And-1.

5) Bulls beat Raptors as parity reigns in the East. The Atlanta hawks had been hot, winners of six in a row, so they got upended by the Pacers Monday. Any team that starts to look like it could break out of the pack in the second tier of the East (it’s Cleveland then everyone else) gets knocked down a peg. Take the Raptors, who finally got healthy with DeMarre Carroll and Jonas Valanciunis back in the lineup, so… they get beat by the Bulls Monday, 104-97. The Bulls may have found a bench bigs pairing that works with Taj Gibson and Bobby Portis, and Chicago got a strong game from Tony Snell off the bench with 22. Pau Gasol also had 22. I’d say keep an eye on the Bulls to try to break out of the pack in the East, but the trend is they will come crashing back to earth soon. Everyone does.

Suns, Crowder agree he will sit out training camp while they seek a trade

Jae Crowder does salsa dance in Suns-Lakers Game 6
Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images
0 Comments

Jae Crowder wants out of Phoenix and the Suns have been looking for a trade to accommodate that.

It hasn’t come together, so the Suns and Crowder agreed he should sit out training camp while they find one (this team does not need another distraction in camp).

We knew this was coming because Crowder himself announced it a couple of days ago. While he deleted the Tweet, nothing ever completely disappears online.

Two quick thoughts on this news.

First, it means Cameron Johnson will start at the four, something that was likely anyway as the Suns look to add shooting to help space the floor.

Second, this news does not help the Suns’ leverage in getting a trade. It’s understandable that Crowder didn’t want to be in camp and that the Suns didn’t want the distraction, but now everyone knows the pressure on the Suns to get a deal done and they will lowball their offer.

There are a few potential landing spots out there. Crowder hinted online he would welcome a return to Miami, and the Heat need help at the four after P.J. Tucker left for Philly. The Heat would base a trade around Duncan Robinson, but to make the salaries match the Suns would have to throw in another player — Dario Saric, Landry Shamet, Cameron Payne, Torey Craig or after Jan. 15  — and that seems unlikely.

Atlanta, Dallas, Chicago, Boston (but it’s tough to make the salaries match up), and even a team like Minnesota could work. The challenge is the Suns are a win-now team and will want a player who can help them this season and all those teams are in the same space. Right now there may not be an offer available. As camps open and teams start to understand what they do and don’t have, a deal could come together.

Crowder will be home waiting for that to happen, not with the Suns team.

Giannis Antetokounmpo says Stephen Curry is the best player in the world

WhatsApp's "Naija Odyssey" New York Premiere
Michael Loccisano/Getty Images
0 Comments

Giannis Antetokounmpo is at the top of pretty much every “best player in the world” list right now.

Except his own.

For Antetokounmpo, the best player in the world is the one that leads his team to the title, so today, it is Stephen Curry (hat tip to Lance Allen of NBC Milwaukee).

It’s easy to see where Antetokounmpo is coming from, but basketball is a team game. The best player may not be on the best team, despite his skill set, and that team may not win. Curry was spectacular in leading the Warriors to their fourth banner since he arrived, he’s near the top of the best in the world list, but it’s not all about winning.

The takeaway from what Antetokounmpo said is how much he wants to win — he wants a second ring.

The Bucks enter the season as one of the favorites to win that ring, but it’s going to take a lot of things going right for that to happen.

Including Antetokounmpo showing he is the best player in the world.

 

Is Matisse Thybulle ready for a big step forward with 76ers?

Pregame of Philadelphia 76ers vs Miami Heat
Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
0 Comments

Matisse Thybulle brings a valuable NBA skill to the table — he is an elite perimeter defender. Two-time All-Defensive Team in three years in the league.

But when the 76ers got up against Miami in the playoffs, Thybulle’s role shrank dramatically. While Doc Rivers needed his defense, Thybulle’s lack of an offensive game became a problem — the Heat largely ignored him and helped off him, allowing Miami to muck up the Philly offense (he was limited in the Toronto series because he was not vaccinated and could not play in road games). The 76ers tried to solve that problem this offseason by bringing in DeAnthony Melton, Danuel House and P.J. Tucker — solid role-playing defenders who can contribute on offense, too.

Thybulle wants to be part of the solution, too, and told Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer he spent the summer focused on his offensive game.

“I’m really proud of what I did,” Thybulle said of his offseason. “I’ve worked harder than I’ve worked. And I had a meeting with [Sixers coach Doc Rivers] early this week and was telling him I feel more bought in than I’ve been before.”

No doubt Thybulle put in the work, we will find out soon if it paid off — and if that will get Thybulle paid.

Thybulle is entering a contract year — the 76ers can extend him up until Oct. 18, after which he would become a restricted free agent next summer. Thybulle said his goal is to remain in Philadelphia (and he’d like an extension).

“At this point, I would always want to stay in Philly,” he said. “And if it’s up to me, that’s always going to be my choice.

“But considering that I’ve realized the reality of how far out of my control it is, if I do get traded or something does end up happening, I can look at myself in the mirror at the end of the day.”

With a win-now Sixers team, Daryl Morey may be in a wait-and-see place with Thybulle, letting the market set his price next offseason. If he signs now, it will likely be on a team-friendly deal (but maybe one that still works for the 25-year-old).

If Thybulle gets on the court this season and shows an improved offensive game, one where he can make teams pay for helping off him, his price goes up and there may be multiple teams bidding for his services next summer. And Doc Rivers would be happy in the short term.

It’s up to Thybulle to prove it now.

 

Markelle Fultz will miss start of training camp, at least, with broken toe

Orlando Magic v Charlotte Hornets
Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images
0 Comments

The basketball gods continue to turn their backs on Markelle Fultz.

A torn ACL had limited him to 26 games over the past two seasons, but he was healthy and ramping up to a larger role this season with a young and interesting Magic team. Then came the news he fractured his left big toe during a training session. As a result, he will be out for at least the start of training camp, the team announced. From the official announcement:

“He has been placed in a walking boot and his return to play will depend on how he responds to rehabilitation and treatment. Fultz suffered the injury during a preseason workout prior to returning to Orlando and imaging confirmed the fracture.

He will not need surgery, according to the team.

Fultz was set to split point guard duties with Cole Anthony, this injury means RJ Hampton could see more run at the point for now. Fultz should be able to return either during the end of the preseason or early in the season.

Fultz was the No.1 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft but never found his footing with the 76ers (in part due to injury). However, since getting out of that spotlight and allowed to develop in Orlando he’s been a solid rotation point guard when healthy. Last season in 18 games he averaged 10.8 points and 5.5 assists a game, and while he’s still not an efficient shooter he can run a team.

How Anthony and, eventually, Fultz will work off the ball as rookie Paolo Banchero gets the opportunity to create more offense will be just one of the interesting things to watch with this Magic team this year. We’ll have to wait a little while to see Fultz.