Five Takeaways from NBA Monday: Linsanity returns for night in Hornets upset of Spurs

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What you missed on Monday around the NBA because you were busy getting in a fight with the Easter Bunny at the mall….

1) Linsanity returns for a night, Hornets come from 23 down to upset Spurs. When the Spurs are playing lock down defense — the Hornets scored just seven points in the first quarter — and get up by 23 in the second quarter, most teams just roll over. But credit Steve Clifford and his feisty Hornets, they didn’t. They picked away and picked away at the lead, until fairly early in the fourth quarter it was tied again.

Which is when Jeremy Lin took over. Lin had 15 of his 29 in the fourth to spark the 91-88 Hornets win. Lin had a good first half (Kemba Walker struggled with six points for the game as the Spurs focused on him) and turned it up late hitting all his threes for the game (4-of-4) but also attacking and shooting 5-of-7 inside eight feet. Lin was draining the big shots in the fourth and carried the Hornets to a win they need as the battle for playoff positioning (they are currently the six seed).

2) Draymond Green lifts Warriors past Timberwolves while Stephen Curry looks like he could use a night off. When Stephen Curry has an off night against the Spurs, you tip your hat to he best defense in the league and figure it was just one of those games. When Curry has an off night against the Minnesota Timberwolves (6-of-17 shooting, and five turnovers in the third quarter), well, with all due respect to Ricky Rubio (one of the better defensive point guards in the game), you think the man might need a little rest.

Fortunately for Warriors fans, they had Draymond Green. The Warriors looked like a team on the last night of a road trip (they were) but Green was the spark they needed. The All-Star forward for the Warriors has seemed frustrated with what the Spurs (and other teams) have done defensively lately, switching the Curry/Green pick-and-roll and daring Green to beat them against a smaller guard. Monday night he did. He took on more of the scoring, he punished smaller defenders then passed out when the defense collapsed on him. Green finished the night with 24 points, and the Warriors avoid back-to-back losses to remain on track to beat the Chicago Bulls record of 72 wins (they need to go 10-2 the rest of the way to make that happen).

[graphiq id=”6p9j48xq0ux” title=”2015-16 Golden State Warriors vs. 1995-96 Chicago Bulls Win Streak Comparison” width=”600″ height=”583″ url=”https://w.graphiq.com/w/6p9j48xq0ux” link=”http://nba-historical-teams.pointafter.com” link_text=”2015-16 Golden State Warriors vs. 1995-96 Chicago Bulls Win Streak Comparison | PointAfter”]

3) Andre Drummond tip-in gives Pistons needed win. Detroit is in a playoff chase, currently tied with Chicago for the last slot in the East (and with a hot Wizards team right behind them). The Pistons need all the wins and all the big plays they can get. Enter Andre Drummond, who muscled the Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo out of the way to tip in a Kentavious Caldwell-Pope miss and give the Pistons the victory Tuesday.

4) LeBron James throws up triple-double, Cavs win division, but somehow his Twitter feed is the big story. Somehow the big story around the Cavaliers Tuesday was that LeBron James stopped following the Cavaliers on Twitter. Sources told the Cleveland Plain Dealer this was just part of LeBron’s process of tuning out social media as he heads into the playoffs (he unfollowed some Cavs reporters as well). However, some fans seem to want to read into this about LeBron leaving Cleveland again this summer as a free agent. Unless LeBron wants to take his brand and throw it in the incinerator — and LeBron is very, very concerned about his brand and image — he’s not leaving Cleveland this summer. Or likely ever. Unless you think he wants to destroy his Nike sales. LeBron knows he can’t sell the world on going home again then rip the hearts out of Cavs fans again, especially when the organization has done nearly everything he asked and geared up to win now (whether smart or not).

Let’s get back on the court, where LeBron dropped a triple double — 33 points, 11 rebounds, 11 assists — and the Cavaliers cruised past Denver 124-91. A division win is not the goal in Cleveland, but it’s a start.

5) Lakers’ Jordan Clarkson, Nick Young under investigation for sexual harassment. There are two parts to developing young players, the on-the-court stuff (improving their skills, getting them experience, teaching them the nuances of the game) and how to handle yourself off the court. How to be professional. As Jahlil Okafor showed the Sixers heading into this season, the second part of that can be harder than the first.

The Lakers’ prized young player Jordan Clarkson, and veteran Nick Young have been accused of sexual harassment for an incident in Hollywood Sunday. A woman and activist on woman’s issues accused the two men (and two others in their Jeep) of saying vulgar and lewd things to her 68-year-old mother, and the woman posted pictures of the men on Instagram from the alleged incident. The Lakers have reached out to her (she said they apologized) and have said they are taking he matter very seriously and are investigating.

Young denied the charge in a tweet which was quickly taken down. I would expect some punishments to follow.

Suns fall to hot shooting Adelaide 36ers from Australia, 134-124

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The Adelaide 36ers may be from Australia’s National Basketball League, but they are professional players — leave them wide open and they will hit shots.

Phoenix treated Sunday like their first preseason game (it was) and the 36ers hit 24 3-pointers on their way to an upset of the Suns, 134-124. The 36ers were the aggressors all night long, playing team basketball and putting Phoenix on its heels.

It’s just preseason. One preseason game is not a bellwether for the season, there should be little more than raised eyebrows in Phoenix. However, with their last game being a crushing 33-point loss to Dallas which eliminated them from the playoffs a season ago, this was not the palate cleanser that Phoenix fans were hoping for.

Craig Randall — you may remember him from the University of Memphis and Tennessee-Martin — scored 35 points while Robert Franks added 32. The 3-point shot is the great equalizer in basketball and the 36ers were on fire.

 

The last NBA team to lose to an International squad before Sunday was the Thunder in 2016 to Real Madrid. The year before, Turkish power Fenerbahce beat Brooklyn in the preseason. It does happen.

Reserve point guard Cameron Payne led the Suns with 23 points, while Deandre Ayton looked solid and dropped 22, as did Mikal Bridges, who also had 22. Devin Booker had 13 points and Chris Paul dished out 12 dimes.

With the size of Ayton and the athletic slashing of Bridges, the Suns scored 64 points in the paint, more than doubling the 36ers. But math was not on the Suns’ side, as they traded twos for threes and kept falling behind.

This is great for the NBL and its efforts to grow the brand — the 36ers will now take on the Thunder later this week.

It’s a shrug and move on game for the Suns. Expect a more focused effort from the team next game.

Heat, Tyler Herro agree to four-year, $120 million extension (with $10 million in incentives)

Miami Heat Media Day
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Tyler Herro was frustrated — he saw players he felt he was better than getting paid.

Now he has a contract he will have to live up to.

The Heat have signed Herro to a four-year, $120 million extension of his rookie contract, with up to $10 million in incentives) a story broken by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN and now confirmed by the team.

Herro went to Twitter to confirm the deal himself.

“Tyler is an impact multi-faceted player and we are excited to have him signed for the next five years,” Heat President Pat Riley said in the statement announcing the signing. “His improvement every year since we drafted him has led to this day. We believe he will continue to get better.”

This is a straight four years, no options for either side.

Signing an extension takes Herro off the table for any trades to upgrade the Heat roster this season. Herro had been at the heart of the rumors about the Heat and Kevin Durant, as well as other teams.

Herro’s new contract extension is a big bet on the wing taking another step forward this season and beyond. The deal is a little larger than expected (the conventional wisdom had Herro coming in close to the $107 million RJ Barrett got with the Knicks). Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel and I have discussed Herro’s price before and didn’t quite picture it this high, but with the rising cap over the next few years this deal may not look out of line.

Miami stepped up and paid the reigning Sixth Man of the Year high-level starter money — now he has to earn that job and that paycheck.

Mostly, he has to improve on defense so Eric Spoelstra can trust him at the end of games and deep into the playoffs (while Herro has had big playoff games, his role shrunk deeper in last postseason because of his defense).

Herro puts up numbers — 20.7 points a game on 39.9% from 3 last season — and is the reigning Sixth Man of the Year, but does this new deal move him up in the Heat offensive pecking order with Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler? Probably not in crunch time (and if Kyle Lowry bounces back this season, there could be games where Herro is option No.4).

This locks up part of Miami’s roster going into the season, but they are still on the look for depth at the four. Don’t consider this roster settled.

 

Watch Celtics shooters look sharp in easy preseason win over Hornets

Charlotte Hornets v Boston Celtics
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It’s just one meanless preseason game, but for a franchise that could use some good news the Boston Celtics will take it.

The Celtics’ shooting looked in mid-season form in their preseason opener against the Hornets on Sunday — 57.1% overall and 22-of-47 from 3 (46.8%). Boston just couldn’t seem to miss, especially early.

Jayson Tatum had 16 points in 22 minutes, while Jaylen Brown was the leading scorer with 24 points in 24 minutes.

The one unexpected bright spot was a strong game from Mfiondu Kabengele, who is currently on a two-way contract with the team. He ended up with 10 points on 4-of-4 shooting and showed some hustle.

Kelly Oubre led the Hornets with 17 points, while LaMelo Ball had 14 points, seven rebounds and four dimes.

It’s just one preseason game, don’t read much of anything into it. But the Celtics will take the good news where they can find it.

T.J. Warren still out for Nets; team to reassess status in November

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The Brooklyn Nets bet that the T.J. Warren from the bubble in Orlando — the one who averaged 26.6 points and 6.3 rebounds a game for the Pacers — would re-emerge and give them a quality forward they could mix into a deep rotation.

Instead, so far it has looked more like the Warren who has played just four games since the bubble due to stress fractures in his foot.

Warren is improving and the Nets are bringing him along slowly, keeping him off the court until November at least, reports Brian Lewis of the New York Post.

Small forward T.J. Warren, who has missed nearly two full seasons following multiple foot surgeries, is “doing some shooting” and “a little bit more movement the last two weeks than he was prior,” Nash said. He added that Warren will be reassessed in about a month.

The Nets can afford to be patient. They have plenty of other questions to answer as a team before worrying about what Warren can or cannot contribute. But in the dream scenario where everything comes together for the Nets this season, Warren gets healthy and becomes a valuable contributor off the bench giving the Nets more versatility, scoring, and shooting along the front line.

For now, the Nets and Warren wait.