Trail Blazers use second-half charge to get past Pacers 103-93

Leave a comment

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Portland Trail Blazers may not need to rely exclusively on their dynamic duo to throw scoring punches any longer.

Their new supporting cast trades jabs pretty well, too, and it could make a real difference to their long-term prospects.

With Damian Lillard struggling Monday and C.J. McCollum scoring just 17 points, the Blazers got 17 points from Zach Collins and the first career double-double from former Purdue star Caleb Swanigan to put away the Indiana Pacers 103-93.

“They’ve been great for us all season. They’ve been keeping us alive all season,” McCollum said, referring to Portland’s bench. “They’re the difference between us being an average team and a really good team.”

It’s a series Portland has dominated.

They’ve won three straight over Indiana and eight of the last nine, largely behind the play of Lillard who had scored at least 33 points in three of his six previous trips to Bankers Life Fieldhouse. And Lillard was coming off back-to-back 40-point games.

This time the All-Star guard missed his first five shots, didn’t score until the final seconds of the first half and wound up with a season-low 16 points on 5 of 13 shooting with one rebound and two assists. McCollum was 7 of 15 with six rebounds and one assist and they combined for three 3-pointers.

In previous seasons, those numbers might have doomed Portland’s chances.

But Swanigan softened up the Pacers with his early flurry and Collins delivered the knockout punch by repeatedly scoring in the fourth quarter to help Portland pull away.

“The second unit came in and played really well,” said Collins, who matched his career high scoring total. “We ran the lead up and didn’t let it go down. In the second half, we did our job.”

The result: Indiana lost its first home game of the season with a lackluster performance.

Victor Oladipo had 21 points, nine rebounds and seven assists while Darren Collison added a season-high 17. Thaddeus Young added 16 points and Myles Turner had 10 points and nine rebounds on a night coach Nate McMillan hoped to see a stronger performance on defense and on the glass.

He wasn’t satisfied with much.

“We’re still working on establishing ourselves as a team, what works for us as a team – defending hard, rebounding the ball,” McMillan said.

The Pacers appeared to be cruising early in the second half when they took a 57-49 lead.

But the Trail Blazers charged back quickly by scoring five straight points, retook the lead during a 10-2 run and extended their 71-69 advantage by starting the fourth quarter on an 8-2 run.

Indiana didn’t get closer than five the rest of the way as Swanigan had 11 points and 10 rebounds, both career bests.

 

Dejounte Murray says he’s not thinking about extension with Spurs yet

Getty
Leave a comment

Dejounte Murray was supposed to be a big deal for the San Antonio Spurs last season. Unfortunately, Murray’s knee injury sidelined those plans until 2019-20.

Now Murray is back on the sidelines for Gregg Popovich and his Spurs, and he’s expected to take a great leap forward, pushing San Antonio to another playoff appearance. Meanwhile, Murray is fast approaching the end of his rookie deal, and an extension is within reach. Still, Murray has said he is not thinking about his contract, and is instead of looking forward to trying to make his team better

Via Tom Osborn:

If Murray and Poeltl don’t sign extensions, they would enter the restricted free agent market in July 2020.

“My mind is not on that at all,” Murray said after practice Monday. “Obviously, I want to be here for as long as I can, but those are things I can’t control. What I can control is getting better, learning and being a great person, being Dejounte Murray.

“If it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. My main goal is to help this team get to the playoffs and do big things.”

It’s sort of an interesting question about whether Murray should be given extension, and for how much. On one hand, he has lots of potential and the NBA is a leauge that does pay on what future bounties might bring — just ask Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine.

But Murray did suffer a catastrophic injury, and so he doesn’t have the resume that some of his other compatiots bring to the table. That may actually play to San Antonio’s advantage, given they can talk him down from his initial number because of his lack of raw statistics.

Tony Parker was shipped out of Texas and ended up playing for the Charlotte Hornets because Murray is thought of as the point guard of the future for the Spurs. How much of that position will pay based off of Murray’s resume is another question altogether, and it looks like we will have to wait for that answer.

David Fizdale says RJ Barrett will spend time playing point guard

Getty
Leave a comment

New York Knicks guard RJ Barrett is sure to be a Rookie of the Year candidate, although most projections of the start of the Season predict that New Orleans Pelicans star and No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson will take home that award.

Still, folks expect that Barrett will be a high-scoring opportunity for a Knicks squad that is looking to rebuild in the coming season. To that end, it appears that NY coach David Fizdale is trying to get some more time on the ball, perhaps allow him to shine.

Speaking to reporters this week, Fizdale said that Barrett will be spending some time at point guard.

Via Twitter:

This could be just to get Barrett some more time handling the rock, which we know is important in today’s NBA. But it also could be an experiment in vain of Justise Winslow in Miami, where the Heat decided that a non-traditional player could actually thrive in a ball-handling situation.

New York doesn’t have that many skill the players, and they are sort of trying to figure out what works for them moving forward. Why not take a chance with Barrett at the point guard spot to see if a scoring threat exists with the potential to distribute the ball as well?

If Barrett thrives, it could be an interesting race toward the Rookie of the Year.

Jusuf Nurkic reportedly signs with Rich Paul, Klutch Sports

Getty
Leave a comment

Jusuf Nurkic just signed a new contract last summer, but he is already changing agents. Although Nurkic will not be back to start the 2019-20 NBA season, he is already angling for something new by signing with Klutch Sports and Rich Paul.

According to a report from Chris Haynes. Nurkic has signed with Rich Paul in anticipation for his free agency in the summer of 2022. Nurkic has a partial guarantee of $12 million — a deal for the Blazers — in 2021-22.

Via Twitter:

It’s not clear what kind of impact that Nurkic will have on this Blazers roster, or whether he would even be in Portland once things shake out over the next couple of seasons. Portland has to figure out what they’re going to do in the absence of the Golden State Warriors being a top of the Western Conference, and the Blazers have a chance this season to go deep in the playoffs yet again.

Nurkic’s health will be a big part of that, and with his injury, he isn’t a lock to be a huge impact player for Portland until the playoffs. Even still, we don’t know what kind of longevity Nurkic will have given that he’s already broken his leg in addition to his most recent injury.

Signing with Paul is a good idea in terms of trying to get the most out of his potential as a 20-something-year-old, but this might not be the best news for Blazers fans. Paul has a habit of getting the most out of negotiations he can, and often times that means his players end up switching teams.

For now, we will have to watch how Nurkic recovers in his rehabilitation, and how he plays coming back in anticipation or his next contract in a couple of seasons.

Kevin Durant is not a fan of looking at graphs in NBA analysis

Getty
1 Comment

Kevin Durant is known to be Very Online as far as NBA players go, and the newest Brooklyn Nets superstar will have time to spend on Twitter now that we know it’s unlikely he will join his team for the 2019-20 NBA season.

Durant has gotten in trouble by being online in the past, but that hasn’t held him back from tweeting as of late. With advanced analytics still being the bane of the existence of many regular fans, Durant decided to tweet something apparently against the very thought of using statistics to prove one’s point when it comes to NBA basketball.

Specifically, Durant said he didn’t want to look at any graphs when thinking about pro basketball. This came as part of a conversation with Action Network’s Matt Moore, one of the father’s of the modern NBA blogosphere.

Via Twitter:

This isn’t anything new: folks who play the game often seem to feel threatened by the idea of statistics in the NBA. It’s not clear why, given that most people who use statistics to prove a point in professional basketball use both film study and analytic analysis to come to a conclusion. It’s never unilaterally a numbers game, although talking head goobers on afternoon ESPN shows like to prop it up as such.

But numbers are scary, and remain the boogeyman in the NBA. It’s not surprising that a person like Durant — despite his mathematical supremacy over other players — would be weirded out by stats and charts.

If anything, this feels like a direct attack at our own Dan Feldman. Stay strong, Dan-O. Keep doing you. Kevin Durant, meanwhile, won’t be partaking in any hardcore numbers analysis.