Five Takeaways from NBA Tuesday: LeBron dunk forces OT in Cavs/Mavs thriller

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If you’re like me, you stopped your binge watching of Making a Murderer to flip on NBA games Tuesday. If you’re not like me and just kept right on watching the Avery family, then here is what you need to know from a Tuesday around the Association.

1) LeBron James’ dunk sends Cavaliers and Mavericks to overtime, where Kyrie Irving sank the dagger. What.A. Game. Dallas and Cleveland played one of the most entertaining games of the year a back-and-forth contest that even saw Dirk Nowitzki and LeBron matched up head-to-head in key moments. Dallas’ starters played fantastically — Chandler Parsons had 25 points — while Cleveland’s struggled for much of the game (Kevin Love was 5-of-19 shooting, but, at least, he got 19 shots). LeBron continued his hot shooting from the outside ever since John Schuhmann’s tweet; he looked like his vintage self for stretches. Then when the Cavaliers needed a bucket to send the game to overtime LeBron attacked the rim and Devin Harris was not about to stop that finish.

That led to an overtime where eventually the Cavaliers went on a 10-2 run, but it was LeBron’s hesitation after a Deron Williams flop, and then a kick-out to a very deep Kyrie Irving, that put the dagger in Dallas.

2) Carmelo Anthony sprains ankle, could miss time. It was a fluke play not long before halftime. Anthony was running back upcourt, watching the play behind him, and crashed into a referee, stepping on the ref’s foot. ‘Melo rolled his ankle.

Anthony had his ankle retaped and tried to start the second half, but played 19 seconds and came out. The good news is the X-rays were negative, and he’s not going to miss much time. However, don’t be surprised if Anthony sits out Wednesday against the Nets.

‘Melo’s ankle almost stole the headline from the real story: The Knicks are a .500 team at 20-20 after beating Boston (which has struggled since the first of the year). Before the season it would have seemed impossible that the Knicks would be playing this well, or that .500 would still be on the outside looking in at the playoffs in the East, but here we are. Knicks fans can thank the youngsters for this win: Jerian Grant had nine points and six assists in the fourth quarter; Kristaps Porzingis had 16 points and took one three from a step off the Knicks logo at center court.

3) Derrick Rose leaves the game due to tendonitis, says he’s not going to miss time (but we’ll see). The Chicago Bulls have lost three straight games now (falling to the Bucks Tuesday 106-101), their defense has gone on hiatus, and those are not their biggest worries anymore — Derrick Rose had to come out of the game in the second half with what he called “jumpers’ knee.” Rose wasn’t worried that this is serious, but he just came back after three missed games (hamstring) and now this. Don’t be shocked if he sits out a game or three.

The Bulls actually have been better this season with Rose off the court, mostly because their defense improves. Plus they are used to playing without him (the offense is very close to the same scoring rate with him on or off the court). Still, Chicago is going to struggle to find its identity if it can’t just get a stretch of games with settled rotations with everyone healthy.

[graphiq id=”1XQgwamimGh” title=”Bulls Opponent Stats With Derrick Rose On/Off Court in 2015″ width=”600″ height=”548″ url=”https://w.graphiq.com/w/1XQgwamimGh” link=”http://basketball-players.pointafter.com/l/383/Derrick-Rose” link_text=”Bulls Opponent Stats With Derrick Rose On/Off Court in 2015 | PointAfter”]

4) Kobe Bryant leaves Lakers’ game with a sore Achilles.
Speaking of superstars whose bodies will not let them stay on the court, Kobe had to leave the Lakers’ eventual win over the Anthony Davis-less Pelicans because of a sore Achilles. Considering his previous injury there, the Lakers rightfully are going to be cautious. Kobe is listed as questionable for Thursday’s game at Golden State.

I watched the second half of this game and here are my two quick takeaways:

1) Byron Scott, for the love of the game, keep D'Angelo Russell in at the end of the fourth quarter. He played well, you can start to see his development of late, he is mentally starting to figure out how to play at the NBA level and work off pick-and-rolls — why are you sitting him? You reward his good play with getting to watch the end of the game from the bench? Interesting player development choice.

2) The final two minutes of this game were just sloppy and ugly. These are two bad teams playing matador defense basketball.

5) A power outage leads to 20-minute delay during Suns at Pacers. This was the best defense Phoenix played all night. A power outage throughout downtown Indianapolis turned off the lights at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, and the game had to be delayed with 4:32 left in the second quarter and the Pacers up by two. The stoppage was about 20-25 minutes.

Indiana went on a 14-3 run not long after the lights came back up. The Pacers went on to win 116-97.

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

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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

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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.

 

Vintage Kobe: Redeem Team recalls him running over Pau Gasol

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If the goal of a trailer is to get you to want to see the movie, then well done Netflix. I’m in.

Netflix released a trailer for its upcoming Redeem Team documentary on the 2008 Olympics, featuring some vintage Kobe Bryant. Just as a quick refresher, in 2008 the USA’s toughest opponent would be a deep Spanish team led by peak Pau Gasol but also with Marc Gasol, Ricky Rubio, José Calderón, Rudy Fernández, Juan Carlos Navarro and more. This was a legitimately dangerous team and one the USA would face first in group play.

Kobe wanted to set a tone — and did by running through his friend Gasol. (Warning: There is NSFW language in the video clip below.)

“‘First play of the game I’m running through Pau Gasol.’ And we was like, ‘What?’ He said, ‘First play of the game, I know what they’re gonna run.’ And he knew Pau was gonna be the last screen and he said ‘I’m running through him,'” Dwayne Wade said

Spoiler alert: The USA thrashed Spain in group stage play. However, come the Gold Medal game it was a lot tougher for the Americans to beat the Spaniards, with Kobe having to have a big fourth quarter and — what often goes unremembered — a master class from Chris Paul in game management to control the tempo and flow.

I’m all in for the documentary, which drops on Oct. 7 on Netflix.

Spurs’ Keldon Johnson to miss start of training camp with shoulder injury

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Keldon Johnson is poised to have a monster season on a rebuilding Spurs team.

Except he’s going to miss the start of training camp and the team’s preseason games. And could be out longer.

Johnson suffered a “right shoulder posterior dislocation during Spurs open gym” the team announced Saturday. Posterior dislocations are rare (less than 5% of all dislocations) and are usually from a fall on an extended arm. Recovering from the injury depends on many factors but can extend out for months. However, the Spurs said Johnson is expected to be available for the start of the regular season less than a month from now.

Johnson averaged 17 points and 6.1 rebounds a game last season, and is an elite perimeter shooter off the catch-and-shoot (39.8% from 3 overall), who also can put the ball on the floor and finish at the rim. He was the team’s second-leading scorer last season (to Dejounte Murray, who is now in Atlanta).

The Spurs will be cautious with bringing Johnson back. Even in what could be Gregg Popovich’s last season as coach the Spurs are looking more to be part of the Victor Wembanyama sweepstakes than push for a playoff spot. Johnson is a quality player who helps San Antonio win games, which both is why they want him back healthy and why they are not going to rush him.