Michael Jordan entered this season with two main goals for his Charlotte Hornets: 1) Make the playoffs; 2) Re-sign Kemba Walker in the offseason.
Charlotte, at 26-26, is currently the seven seed in the East, three games up on ninth-seeded Detroit. The Hornets look like a playoff team, but Jordan wants to both secure that and make the kind of move that tells Walker they are serious. Rumors of their interest in Memphis’ center Marc Gasol have bounced around the league since the Grizzlies said he was available.
Now, those appear to be more than rumors, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.
Gasol would be an upgrade at center for Charlotte, who desperately missed Cody Zeller at the five when he was out injured. Gasol would improve the Hornets on both ends.
The question is who goes back to Memphis? Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, ($13 million this season and a player option for the same next season) has been rumored to be in it, and the Grizzlies might want promising young center Willy Hernangomez. After that maybe Malik Monk? Jeremy Lamb? The Grizzlies will listen to just about anything that doesn’t include Jaren Jackson Jr.
This has the feel of a trade that gets done.
Whether that is enough to keep Kemba in Charlotte next July is a question for another day.
With Nets and Hornets tied in final seconds, Malik Monk commits game-losing turnover (video)
Their second overtime also finished with fireworks.
With the game tied in the final seconds, Charlotte guard Malik Monk lost the ball just as he was beginning his move. Joe Harris scooped it up and raced for the fastbreak layup, giving Brooklyn a 134-132 win.
Three Things to Know: Kyrie Irving would like to remind you he is clutch
Every day in the NBA there is a lot to unpack, so every weekday morning throughout the season we will give you the three things you need to know from the last 24 hours in the NBA.
1) Kyrie Irving would like to remind you he is clutch. Kyrie Irving has hit big shots before — he’s hit bigger ones on much bigger stages than he did Wednesday. This was just a reminder that Irving has that thing all the great clutch players have: He’s got the same stroke with the same confidence, the same mentality, in the final minute of a close game he does in the second quarter of a blowout. Irving doesn’t flinch. Nothing gets bigger or smaller, he just makes his play.
Against the Wizards Wednesday Irving made his play in overtime, scoring a dozen points in the frame and draining two clutch threes to get Boston its seventh straight win, 130-125 over a pesky Wizards team.
There’s nothing John Wall could have done better on either of those (and Wall had his best night of the season with 34 points and 13 assists). On the first three he was right up on Irving, into his jersey and taking away space right at the arc, and it didn’t matter. Good offense beats good defense. On the second three, Irving has range but only Stephen Curry gets guarded that far from the hoop.
The final minute of overtime — with neither team calling time out — was rare and a thing of beauty.
It should be noted, Irving doesn’t get to play the hero without big nights from Marcus Morris (27 points, nine rebounds) and Marcus Smart (18 points, nine rebounds, some quality defense).
Boston has won seven in a row, and while they’ve done it against a softer section of the schedule: 1) you’ve got to beat the teams you’re supposed to beat; 2) it’s building confidence for when the schedule gets tougher again.
The Celtics look like a team that is back. It’s just a lot more crowded at the top of the East than we expected.
2) Anthony Davis makes his MVP case willing Pelicans to victory over Thunder. It’s not fair to say that Anthony Davis single-handedly beat the Oklahoma City Thunder Wednesday night. Jrue Holiday did have 20 points and 10 assists — but he also had two crucial turnovers late that almost sank the Pelicans.
New Orleans is not deep, has holes in its roster, but when Anthony Davis plays like this — 44 points on 16-of-32 shooting,18 rebounds, and he got to the free throw line 11 times and hit every shot — they can hang with anyone. Because Davis is that good. He is in the early MVP conversation for a reason.
This was Davis’ second straight game of 40+, he did that to Boston a couple of nights earlier. He is just a joy to watch this season because he is playing at such a high level on both ends.
3) Toronto makes its case, sweeps season series by crushing Golden State at Oracle. Warriors fans went full on peak Shaq/Kobe spoiled Lakers fans Wednesday night — they just left the game early. Better to beat the traffic and go get some drinks/go home and go to bed rather than watch Toronto just pick apart the Warriors any longer.
And make no mistake, the Raptors picked apart the Warriors. Their game plan was well crafted, executed even better, and the Raptors defended beautifully all night.
Toronto came into Golden State in what was touted as a potential Finals preview, but right now only one of these teams is playing like a team hungry and building toward a championship. And it’s not the reigning champions. The Warriors had one of their disinterested nights, a game where they turned the ball over 17 times and shot 23.1 percent from 3-point range.
Do that against the Raptors right now and they will thrash you — which is exactly what happened. Even without Kawhi Leonard (out for a second straight game with a hip injury). The Raptors are defending and executing at a high level right now, so much so they are 7-1 without Leonard in the lineup. Serge Ibaka’s redemption tour continued with 20 points and 12 rebounds as he destroyed anyone the Warriors threw at him. Kyle Lowry had 23 and is all the way out of his slump (that showed against the Clippers the night before).
Danny Green may have been the most underrated pickup of the summer (coming from San Antonio in the Kawhi trade) and added 15.
But mostly, it was the Raptors defense, which held the Warriors to a 93 points per 100 possessions pace, that got them the win.
If these two teams meet in the Finals — and that is a real possibility, with Leonard this should be a different Toronto team in the postseason — the game will not look like this. It will be a fully engaged Golden State squad, one that can also roll out DeMarcus Cousins. But right now, the Raptors are building good habits and building confidence toward that moment.
The Warriors are just waiting to flip the switch.
BONUS THING TO KNOW: Jeremy Lamb drained a game winner… that his teammates almost screw up with celebration. Usually we’d just be celebrating Jeremy Lamb’s game-winner — and marveling that someone other than Kemba Walker could hit a clutch shot for Charlotte.
But in this case, it’s the celebrations of Bismack Biyombo and Malik Monk — running out onto the court with 0.3 seconds left and getting a technical that put the result in doubt again — that became the story.
First, that’s an amazing shot by Lamb because he has to adjust, Walker’s pass is not on target.
But if you watch the video, you can see Biyombo almost out at midcourt to grab Lamb before the ball is inbounded. He was so far out on the court that the refs probably didn’t see him and called the technical on Monk. Michael Jordan was none too pleased.
The Hornets sure were excited for Jeremy Lamb‘s game-winner against the Pistons tonight.
After Lamb hit a jumper to put Charlotte up two with 0.3 seconds left, several Hornets ran onto the court. Bismack Biyombo was nearly at halfcourt as Detroit tried to inbound! He was so far onto the court, I’m not even sure officials noticed him when dinging Malik Monk – closer to the bench –for the violation.
The Pistons made a technical free throw to cut their deficit to one, but they still had to inbound from under their own basket. Their desperation pass was intercepted, and Charlotte held on for a 108-107 win.
Several Hornets were certainly relieved.
Crazily enough, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen this.
Malik Monk throws off-backboard alley-oop to Miles Bridges (video)