Watch Hayward hit game-winning driving layup, Hornets beat Magic

0 Comments

ORLANDO, Fla. — With the game on the line, the Charlotte Hornets got the ball right where they had worked on in practice a day earlier. Gordon Hayward delivered – just as he did most of Sunday night.

Hayward broke a tie by converting a layup with 0.7 seconds left and scored 39 points in Charlotte’s 107-104 comeback victory over the Orlando Magic.

Hayward beat Evan Fournier off the dribble and made the left-handed layup after Orlando’s Terrence Ross tied the game at 104 with a 3-pointer with 8.7 seconds to play.

“We put him at the top of the floor with 8 seconds to go and he made a play,” Charlotte coach James Borrego said about Hayward, who made 15 of 25 shots and 5 of 8 3-pointers for his fourth 30-point game of the season. “That’s what great players do. He’s been in that situation before, he knew what he was trying to get to and he executed. These are scenarios that we worked on all this week.”

Charlotte ended a four-game losing streak, overcoming a 14-point deficit. Down the entire second and third quarters, the Hornets opened the fourth with a 25-4 run – making nine of their first 14 shots. Orlando missed 12 of its first 13 shots in the period.

“It’s a resilient win and this is a resilient group,” Borrego said.

Miles Bridges added 18 points on 8-of-11 shooting.

“When Gordon is firing I guess everybody is firing,” Bridges said. “If he’s going then that gets everybody else into it. And he finds his open teammates, too.”

Once 6-2, the Magic lost for an eighth time in the past nine games. Orlando and Charlotte will play again on Monday night.

Nikola Vucevic topped 10,000 career points early in the night and scored 22 points in the game. He added 13 rebounds for his 12th double-double of the season.

Evan Fournier had 21 points and six assists, while rookie point guard Cole Anthony added 14 points and six assists.

“Obviously we have to play the same brand of basketball that we did during the first three quarters and not mess up easy things,” Fournier said.

The Magic were without forward Aaron Gordon because of hip and back soreness. Gordon, who had averaged 16 points, 11.7 rebounds and 8.7 assists in his previous three games and had taken on some of the team’s playmaking following the season-ending injury to Markelle Fultz, is the latest blow to a Magic team that has already lost 83 player games to injury.

Orlando led by as much as 13 in the first half and by as much as 14 late in the third period, but it had trouble pulling away because of how well Hayward played offensively. Hayward made eight of his first 12 shots, including three 3s, and scored 19 first-half points.

“I’m just trying to help us win basketball games,” Hayward said. “I have good teammates who are putting me in position to be successful. It’s been fun playing with this team, I’m excited and happy to be here in Charlotte.”

Pelican’s Green says Zion ‘dominated the scrimmage pretty much’

0 Comments

The Zion hype train keeps right on rolling. First were the reports he was in the best shape of his life, then he walked into media day and it looked like he is.

Now Zion has his own hype man in Pelicans coach Willie Green, who said he dominated the first day of team scrimmages. Via Andre Lopez of ESPN.

“Z looked amazing,” Pelicans coach Willie Green said on Wednesday afternoon. “His strength, his speed. He dominated the scrimmage pretty much.”

“What stood out was his force more than anything,” Green said. “He got down the floor quickly. When he caught the ball, he made quick decisions. Whether it was scoring, finding a teammate. It was really impressive to see.”

Reach for the salt shaker to take all this with — it’s training camp scrimmages. Maybe Zion is playing that well right now — he’s fully capable, he was almost an All-NBA player in 2020-21 (eighth in forward voting) before his foot injury — but we need to see it against other teams. In games that matter. Then we’ll need to see it over a stretch of time.

If Zion can stay healthy this season, if his conditioning is where everyone says it is, he could be in for a monster season. Combine that with CJ McCollum, Brandon Ingram and a strong supporting cast in New Orleans, and the Pelicans could surprise a lot of people — and be fun to watch.

 

PBT Podcast: What’s next for Celtics, Suns? Should NBA end one-and-done?

0 Comments

NBA training camps just opened and teams have yet to play a preseason game, but already two contenders are dealing with problems.

The Celtics have the suspension of coach Ime Udoka as a distraction, plus defensive anchor center Robert Williams will miss at least the start of the season following another knee surgery.

The Suns have the distraction of a suspended owner who is selling the team, plus Jae Crowder is out and demanding a trade, and Deandre Ayton does not seem happy.

Corey Robinson of NBC Sports and myself go through all the training camp news, including the wilder ones with the Lakers and Nets, breaking down what to take away from all that — plus how good Zion Williamson and James Harden look physically.

Then the pair discusses the potential of the NBA doing away with the one-and-done role and letting 18-year-olds back in the game — is that good for the NBA?

You can always watch the video of some of the podcast above, or listen to the entire podcast below, listen and subscribe via iTunes at ApplePodcasts.com/PBTonNBC, subscribe via the fantastic Stitcher app, check us out on Google Play, or anywhere else you get your podcasts.

We want your questions for future podcasts, and your comments, so please feel free to email us at PBTpodcast@gmail.com.

Report: Price tag on Phoenix Suns could be more than $3 billion

Phoenix Suns v Los Angeles Clippers - Game Six
Harry How/Getty Images
0 Comments

In 2004, Robert Sarver bought the Phoenix Suns for a then-record $401 million.

When Sarver sells the team now — pushed to do so following the backlash prompted by an NBA report that found an 18-year pattern of bigotry, misogyny, and a toxic workplace — he is going to make a massive profit.

The value of the Suns now is at $3 billion or higher, reports Ramona Shelburne and Baxter Holmes of ESPN.

There will be no shortage of bidders for the team, with league sources predicting a franchise valuation of more than $3 billion now that revenue has rebounded following the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and with a new television rights deal and CBA on the horizon. Sarver purchased the team for just over $400 million in 2004.

Saver currently owns 35% of the Suns (the largest share), but reports say his role as managing partner allows him to sell the entire team (the minority owners have to comply, although they would make a healthy profit, too). Sarver also decides who to sell the team to, not the NBA or other owners.

Early rumors of buyers have included Larry Ellison (founder of Oracle), Bob Iger (former Disney CEO), Laurene Powell Jobs (widow of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, she has a 20% share of the Washington Wizards), and others. There have been no reports of talks yet, and Sarver does not need to be on a rushed timeline.

Meanwhile, a contending Suns team tries to focus on the season despite the owner selling the team, Jae Crowder not being in training camp and pushing for a trade, and Deandre Ayton does not sound happy to be back with the Suns.

Steve Nash on his relationship with Kevin Durant: ‘We’re good’

0 Comments

In an effort to gain leverage for a trade this offseason, Kevin Durant threw down a “either the coach and GM are gone or I am” ultimatum.

Now coach Steve Nash (and GM Sean Marks) are back in Brooklyn, on the same team and trying to build a contender together. Awkward? Not if you ask Nash, which is what Nick Friedell of ESPN did.

“We’re fine,” Nash said after the Nets’ first official practice of the season on Tuesday. “We’re good. Ever since we talked, it’s been like nothing’s changed. I have a long history with Kevin. I love the guy. Families have issues. We had a moment and it’s behind us. That’s what happens. It’s a common situation in the league.

“We all were hurting, seething, to go through what we went through last year, not being able to overcome all that adversity. Sometimes you lose perspective because you expect to win, but the reality is we were able to talk and discuss what we can improve on from last year. And also keep perspective. We went through a ton of stuff.”

First off, what else was Nash going to say? He knows the power dynamic in the NBA, and Durant has far more leverage than he does — not enough to get Nash fired this summer, but still more than the coach.

Second, Nash could be telling the truth from his perspective. NBA players and coaches understand better than anyone this is a business and things are rarely personal. Grudges are not held like fans think they are (most of the time). Nash saw Durant’s move for what it was — an effort to create pressure — and can intellectually shrug it off, reach out to KD and talk about the future.

What this brings into question was one of the Nets’ biggest issues last season — mental toughness and togetherness. Do the Nets have the will to fight through adversity and win as a team? Individually Durant, Kyrie Irving, Nash and others have shown that toughness in the past, but as a team it was not that hard to break the will of the Nets last season. Are their relationships strong enough, is their will strong enough this season?

It feels like we will find out early. If the wheels come off the Nets’ season, it feels like it will happen early and by Christmas things could be a full-on dumpster fire. Or maybe Nash is right and they are stronger than we think.