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Harden-Westbrook duo ready to do something really special

By Michael C. Wright, NBA.com HOUSTON -- Well-dressed men in the Texas heat scurried, snatching keys and pointing directions to the visitors arriving, car after car. On the third floor, down the hall from a mezzanine overlooking a lobby, sparkling with custom Calcutta marble flooring, they all gathered in a quiet, dim room, just steps away from two Rolls-Royces bathing in the sun gushing through floor-to-ceiling glass. Here in Uptown, at Tilman Fertitta’s Post Oak Hotel -- a 38-floor, $350 million property housing a Rolls-Royce showroom and Bentley and Bugatti dealership, below a heliport -- the Houston Rockets' owner has turned the team’s annual media day into a posh, star-studded event. With good reason, too. Houston’s blockbuster July trade that sent Chris Paul off to the Oklahoma City Thunder for picks and pick swaps for Russell Westbrook reunites MVPs and former Thunder stars with James Harden already in the fold for a squad now at the forefront as favorites in a now suddenly wide-open Western Conference. “I think we are a better team,” Fertitta said. “It’s gonna be extremely exciting to have one of the greatest scorers of all time, and one of the most athletic people that has played the game. I know I’m really excited. I hope they don’t let me down.” Rockets general manager Daryl Morey thinks this all-star pairing “could be really special.” “It’s so exciting because James Harden is like the best half-court player I’ve ever seen, honestly,” Morey said. “Then, Russell is maybe the best transition player, one of the best of all time as well. If you put those things together, I think we have a chance. Now, you’ve got something really special.” Searching for same goal The reality is it’s been seven years since Westbrook and Harden last teamed with Oklahoma City in the 2012 NBA Finals, and while both have developed into MVP winners and perennial All-Stars, neither has made it back to The Finals. So, burning hotter than the pomp and glitz at the Post Oak Hotel this hot summer day is the question of whether this will all work for a pair of ball-dominant stars, accustomed to running their own respective shows. They’ve certainly got a believer in former Thunder teammate Kendrick Perkins. “They’ve played together in OKC. These two former MVPs still are in their primes. There’s no way that it’s not going to work,” Perkins told NBA.com. “Am I guaranteeing they’re going to win a championship? No, I’m not doing that. But I still believe this might be the most dynamic backcourt we’ve ever seen in NBA history. We probably haven’t seen a point guard and a shooting guard like this on the same team in forever. You can’t really name one going into the season that’s better than these two guys. I just think it’s going to work.” Now retired from the NBA, Perkins joined a 21-year-old Harden and a 22-year-old Westbrook in 2010-11, when he was traded there in the middle of the season from the Boston Celtics to OKC. Perkins describes the childhood friends and former Thunder teammates as “two guys that were still trying to find their identity” back then. Still, both were destined to reach the levels they currently occupy, he says. “When I first got there, those guys were working, man. They turned out to be some beasts, dog,” Perkins told NBA.com. “Gym rats, I’m telling you. It was unreal the amount of work those guys were putting in. Russ was always the heart and soul of the team. There was no debate about it to me. He gave the team swagger. With James, we just knew it was only in due time. People always say they should’ve kept that team together in OKC. But James wouldn’t have been able to be the player he is today if he hadn’t left. Plus, James was deserving of having his own team.” Now that he’s had it since joining the Rockets in 2012-13, Harden welcomes Westbrook, who like himself, began playing the game as a child at the Challengers Boys & Girls Club in South Central Los Angeles. Interestingly, Westbrook and Harden are the only players over the last five seasons to score more than 10,000 points. Westbrook nodded in agreement with the notion his new uniform provides somewhat of a new lease on life, after spending the first 11 years of his career in Oklahoma City. Harden, meanwhile, pointed out how his new teammate “doesn’t have to stress or worry about the pressure of carrying an entire organization,” because that responsibility now falls on them both. “I think it’s good for both of us because we understand the amount of energy and effort, time and commitment it takes to be able to do that for an entire season,” Westbrook said. “Now, being together on the same team, I think it’s important that we can lean on [one another], sacrifice, and not do as much to still have an impact on the game. I think [what] a lot of people don’t know is we have a friendship first outside of basketball. I think me and him communicate and understand each other. In the games, it’s going to be easy.” 'Sit back and watch the show' Perkins saw signs of maturity from Westbrook last season, when the guard at the detriment of his own stats, deferred to Paul George in crucial situations. But both Westbrook and Harden in 2018-19 ranked in the top 15 in usage rate. So, the phrase uttered most often at media day above the guests clutching cold drinks at the hotel pool was “figure it out.” Everyone, whether Fertitta, Morey, coach Mike D’Antoni or the players, seems confident in the duo’s ability to do so. Harden already said he’s willing to take a backseat to Westbrook. “If Russ has got it going, and Russ is having one of those games that we’ve all seen before, guess what I’m going to do?” Harden asked. “Sit back and watch the show, and vice versa. You can’t sit up here and say, ‘Oh, Russ is going to have the basketball for the first half, and I’m going to have the ball the second half.' No, things happen through the course of the game that you just flow with and go with.” Perkins believes that Harden welcomes the opportunity to defer to someone else, given the physical demands of his playing style. Harden ranked No. 3 last season in minutes per game (36.8), while Westbrook was fourth (36.0). “If you’ve watched James throughout the course of a game, the things he did, he had to do because nobody else was stepping up at the time. James wants somebody else to step up so that he can take a backseat sometimes,” Perkins told NBA.com. “If you watched Russ on the court last year, what a lot of people don’t realize is that he deferred to Paul George a lot. Russ took a backseat. You’ve got to understand, too, that he’s matured, man. He’s starting to show that he can be a better leader. Think about it. When you have kids, man, and you start having a family, sh--, your whole thought process changes. You know what I mean? I just see the maturity in Russ. To me, they have to just get it done. There’s no debate about it. Like, to me, the most pressure is on Mike D’Antoni.” Entering the final year of his contract after extension talks broke down over the summer, D’Antoni will proceed cautiously throughout the preseason implementing Westbrook (who is recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery). D’Antoni and Morey believe Westbrook, one of the game’s most lethal penetrators, will excel in D'Antoni's wide-open offense (which focuses on keeping shooters posted on the perimeter as guards drive in). Morey mentioned that under D’Antoni, guards have historically produced career years. “You look historically at players that have worked with Mike, guards especially, they always play better,” Morey said. “I think it’s just the way he sets up the team, sets up the offense. He finds ways to get people to do the things they do well more, and again, like he said, we’re not here to change anybody or do anything. Historically like pretty much every guard that’s worked with, Mike has had their career year. That’s gonna be a little tough with Russell, given that he’s had so many.” Wearing a salmon-hued polo shirt, D’Antoni discussed plans to stagger the minutes of Harden and Westbrook throughout the season. The expectation is Harden rests in the neighborhood of 13 minutes per game, while Westbrook sits 16 minutes. In his first preseason game -- a 134-129 loss to the Toronto Raptors in Tokyo -- Westbrook logged 20 minutes, finishing with 13 points, two rebounds and six assists. D’Antoni said the final five minutes of games are “the most important thing” for Westbrook to figure out as the team approaches the regular season. “They both want to do this. So, we’ll just sit down and work it out,” D’Antoni said. “I don’t have to tell someone they have to do this, or they have to do that. We’ll figure it out together. But just the vibe of being able to discuss things, the respect they have [for one another] will translate. We’re in a good spot. Right now, it’s great. All we’re trying right now is to win a title. That’s the only agenda that anybody has, and we’ve just got to figure it out.” When word first spread about Houston’s acquisition of Westbrook, opinions naturally flowed about how he’d fit alongside Harden. Westbrook is a career 30.8% 3-point shooter on a squad that has led the league in 3-point attempts four of the last five seasons. He’s also a ball-dominant, high-usage player just like Harden. Still, everyone, insists they won’t ask Westbrook to change his style of play. That puts the pressure squarely on D’Antoni to tweak what Houston does on the floor. “The system they’ve run, just shooting layups and shooting threes with no in-between game, you have to change that with Russell Westbrook, because one of his main things is his mid-range pull-up,” Perkins explained. “The pressure is on Mike D’Antoni. Does he have to change up his style of play? Yes, he will, in order for Russell Westbrook to be who he is. We all know that Russ is not a three-point shooter. Bottom line is they’ve got two of the top 10 players in the league now, if not top 15. "These guys get it done. Back in the day when they were in OKC, they were trying to find out who they were as players. Now, it’s a whole lot different. Now, they know who they are. They’ve done everything to accomplish all the individual accolades. They only thing they haven’t done is win a championship. It’s not the players. Houston has all the players.” In addition to the glitz, glamour and star power for a franchise starving to add more Larry O'Briens to its trophy case. Michael C. Wright is a senior writer for NBA.com. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here, and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnOct 9th, 2019

The MVP exits: Giannis, Greece fail to advance at World Cup

By Tim Reynolds, Associated Press SHENZHEN, China (AP) — Giannis Antetokounmpo now has a little more time to get ready for the NBA season. That would be an unwanted consolation prize. The reigning NBA MVP's stay at the World Cup is over, even after a victory in the team's finale. Greece needed to beat the Czechs by at least 12 points to have any chance of reaching the quarterfinals, and instead is heading home after an 84-77 win on Monday wasn't enough to push it to the next round. "He's proud of his team. ... We gave everything we have," said Thanasis Antetokounmpo, the MVP's brother, along with his Greece and now Milwaukee Bucks teammate. "It's crazy — you win and you don't get to the next round." Giannis Antetokounmpo fouled out with 5:32 left, called for charging on a play that left the Greek bench and fans howling in disbelief. Greece was up by 10 at the time, on the cusp of the margin it needed to advance. Czech guard Tomas Satoransky of the Chicago Bulls knew it was a big call. "We knew that he would go for the Eurostep or try to force it," Satoransky said. "In Europe, they'd probably call it. In the NBA, they wouldn't call it, obviously, because they protect stars." Giannis Antetokounmpo did not make himself available to reporters for the second consecutive game. He also told FIBA officials that he was too upset to speak Saturday after Greece's 69-53 loss to the U.S. Antetokounmpo is the first reigning NBA MVP to play in the World Cup or the world championships. Only three reigning MVPs have played in the Olympics — Michael Jordan in 1992, Kobe Bryant in 2008 and LeBron James in 2012, all for the U.S., and all going home with a gold medal. "He came, he worked 100%, he tried 100% to get this game," Greece coach Thanasis Skourtopoulous said. Greece, up by seven both times, had to take fouls three times in the closing seconds — unusual for a team with a lead, of course, but the only number that mattered was the scoring margin and the Greeks simply needed more points. It almost worked: Nick Calathes' deep 3-pointer with 7 seconds left pushed Greece's lead to nine, but Jaromir Bohacik — who was 5 for 6 from the line in the final 20 seconds — made a pair with 4.6 seconds remaining, and that was the end for Greece. Greece had its chances, leading by as many as nine in the first half. But the Czechs closed the half on a 16-6 run — a stretch where Giannis Antetokounmpo went to the bench with 1:10 remaining after an ill-advised offensive foul, his third personal of the game — and, because of the point-differential tiebreaker, Greece knew it needed a dominant 20 minutes of second-half basketball to keep hope alive. And it wasn't to be. So soon, it'll be time to head back to Milwaukee. The Bucks open training camp Oct. 1, play their preseason opener Oct. 7 against Chicago and open the regular season on Oct. 24 at Houston — in a game that will feature the last three MVPs, with Antetokounmpo, Rockets guard and 2018 winner James Harden and new Houston guard Russell Westbrook, the 2017 MVP when he was with Oklahoma City. Thanasis Antetokounmpo said getting to share the World Cup stage with his brother, even with a disappointing final outcome, was what he would remember. "It was a dream come true," he said......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 10th, 2019

All-Decade Team: Some names to watch in 2020s

By Sekou Smith, NBA.com Picking the best players of the past decade can be a delightful process, a walk down memory lane that highlights the best of the NBA’s best from the most recently completed era. We took care of that for you earlier this week with NBA.com's All-Decade Team for the 2010s. Data and established success provide the context needed to make a strong case when you're looking back. But you can't rely on those conventions when trying to decide what, and perhaps more appropriately, who, comes next. Questions linger for the big stars of the 2010s who would normally transition into the next decade with similar status. How will Kevin Durant look when he comes back from a season lost to an Achilles injury? What will Klay Thompson’s game look like post-ACL injury? There’s no saying how the summer’s superstar free agent and trade shuffle will impact career trajectories for older stars like Durant (going from Golden State to Brooklyn) and Russell Westbrook (going from Oklahoma City to Houston). Young stars just entering the league (or still finding their way) are bound to emerge in the coming years. On the other hand, established veterans will see the inevitable fading of their star status. That uncertain future for so many is part of what makes today’s exercise so much fun. We are peering into our crystal ball and projecting the future, identifying the stars who, a decade from now, might find their names on the best-of-the best list for the 2020s. * * * * = players who made a 2010s All-Decade Team Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks * "The Greek Freak" finished off the 2010s with his first Kia MVP and should be poised to compete for more this decade. He’s only scratched the surface of his immense potential and should be in the thick of the race for best player of the decade. Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors * One half of the sweetest shooting backcourts in NBA history, Curry and his fellow Splash Brother, Thompson, could make the next All-Decade Team, too. That would require them to prove they’re still playing championship-level basketball in the Bay Area post-Durant. Anthony Davis, Los Angeles Lakers * Davis is finally positioned to chase championships and will do so as he enters the physical prime of his career. With Davis and LeBron James leading the way, the Lakers begin the next decade poised for a return to legitimate contender status. Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks The reigning Kia Rookie of the Year gave us all a preview of what’s to come. Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis are the foundational players expected to fuel the Mavericks the way Dirk Nowitzki did the past two decades. Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers If Embiid stays healthy, he’s good enough to challenge for the unofficial title of best player of the 2020s. His availability is the most critical component for a Sixers organization that believes it is on the cusp of championship contention. Paul George, LA Clippers * George has fully bounced back from his devastating leg injury in 2014, earning a place among the NBA’s elite by finishing third in the Kia MVP voting to close out the 2010s. The only thing left on his to-do-list is to make the championship dreams of Clippers fans a reality. James Harden, Houston Rockets * Finding a new groove alongside Westbrook will determine the Rockets’ championship fate and perhaps Harden’s legacy. Harden’s Hall of Fame status is secured. He just needs a title to complete his trophy case.   LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers * Could he win a Kia MVP in three different decades? LeBron has broken the mold in just about every way imaginable to this point of his career, so it would be foolish to doubt him. He’s also got a chance to add to his title haul in the next decade as well. As for Father Time … what does that matter? Kyrie Irving, Brooklyn Nets After winning a title as the supporting star in LeBron’s homecoming story in Cleveland, Irving hopes to revisit that magic in Brooklyn once Durant is healthy again. While Irving has some repair to do to his reputation after his final season in Boston, his talent remains undeniable. Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets Some would argue that Jokic (and not Embiid) finished the decade as the NBA’s best big man. The Nuggets are banking on it, as they’ve built their operation around the triple-double versatility of the 24-year-old All-Star known as “The Joker.” Kawhi Leonard, Los Angeles Clippers * Leonard load managed his way to a title in Toronto but has already declared himself ready to play without limitations as he attempts to bring a championship parade to his hometown. He’s at the height of his powers right now and, with good health, will be for the foreseeable future. Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers Lillard was noticeably absent from the 2010s All-Decade Team, but he shouldn’t have to worry about that happening in the 2020s. The face and soul of the franchise in Portland, Lillard knows that the next step for he and CJ McCollum is a Finals berth. Donovan Mitchell, Utah Jazz If the addition of veteran Mike Conley has the impact Utah’s braintrust expects, Mitchell is primed to rise any ranking of the West’s (and NBA’s) top players. Don’t be surprised if he snags a scoring title (or two) in the next decade. Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics With Kyrie Irving gone, Tatum and the Celtics can get back to the performances he provided during the 2018 playoffs as a rookie. The Celtics have refused to trade Tatum for a reason. He’s got the array of skills that a team values in a wing scorer. Trae Young, Atlanta Hawks Any pre-Draft trepidation about Young was overturned after his strong finish to his rookie season. A splendid passer with Splash Bros.-type range, Young will grow and mature physically into the leader of a franchise revival in Atlanta. Sekou Smith is a veteran NBA reporter and NBA TV analyst. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 8th, 2019

Sleepwalking Warriors snap to behind ultimate weapon Durant

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com LOS ANGELES -- The only sound in a basketball game that mimics an alarm clock blaring is the final buzzer, but by then the score is official and it’s too late to wake up. And maybe the Warriors needed seven months and 88 games to recognize this, because when you’ve won three championships in four years and bring four All-Stars in their prime and play nightly against the rank-and-file, there’s a tendency to doze off just to, you know, make things interesting. Well, nap’s over. After Friday's (Saturday, PHL time) 129-110 victory over the Clippers, the buzzer has shifted to the opening tip, and suddenly the Warriors are aware of where they are and who they’re up against and what time it is. [Watch the Playoffs on NBA League Pass for 30% less with this limited time offer! Select Annual package and use code SAVE30 at checkout to redeem] At least, those are the signals they’re giving off now, on the eve of the second round of the playoffs, when there is no better moment -- to paraphrase the noted prophet Kevin Durant -- to let folks know who you are. They’ll be led into their next basketball battle by Durant, fresh off a fiddy, which of course is basketball slang for 5-0 points, which finally silenced the Clippers and made the basketball world revisit the belief that the Warriors are not to be denied. This of course will be put to the test by the Rockets, arguably the biggest threat facing the Warriors between now and a June champagne sip. But really, now: If Durant plays like he has the last few games, does it really matter what James Harden and Chris Paul bring in this upcoming best-of-seven? “He’s in a groove right now,” said Steph Curry. “Special to see.” With the exception of last year’s Western Conference finals, when Houston took Golden State to the limit, the Durant Warriors have been one level above all others in the playoffs. The Clippers just took two from them -- despite Durant -- and nobody else claimed more than one victory in a best-of-seven. Overall, excluding that Rockets’ series, the Durants are 32-5 in the postseason, a clean 9-0 in series play. Everything that the Warriors were projected to do once Durant signed up for duty two summers ago has come true. They’re three superstars ahead of good teams and two superstars ahead of very good teams. Right now, they’re alone on the island, the only true great team in the league, even on nights when they don’t play the part. With all due respect to Damian Lillard, no one has has drawn more awe lately than Durant, who’s on pace to cause major problems for whomever crouches in a defensive stance before him. In the last four games, he averaged 42 points on 55 percent shooting, and at times was a singular force against the stubborn Clippers. Remember, Steph Curry is trying to climb out of a fog, stifled and troubled by missed jumpers in the last week and momentarily sidelined Friday (Saturday, PHL time) by a tweaked right ankle, which always causes the Warriors to hold their breath. Klay Thompson, as is his pattern, went ballistic for one game, then was rather tame by comparison in the others. “I just play my game through it all,” Durant said. “I definitely don’t want to go away from my teammates if they’re struggling to shoot the ball. But at the same time, I have to be aggressive and try to win the game as well.” Given how leaky the Warriors’ defense looked and how carelessly they handled the ball, the one constant in the first round was Durant drilling shots from all angles and distances, especially once he confined his chatter to making shots instead of taking them at Pat Beverley, the Clippers’ All-Star instigator. Warriors coach Steve Kerr called it “one of the greatest performances I’ve ever seen” and this is someone who rode with Michael Jordan and Tim Duncan. Whether Kerr was simply caught up in the moment, it doesn’t minimize what Durant did to close out the Clippers and what he’s capable of doing against the Rockets. “He's the ultimate weapon because there's no defense for Kevin,” Kerr said. “No matter what anybody does, he can get a good shot. And he knew we needed him badly. And he just took over the game in the first half and set a great tone.” Durant appears to be locked in and on a mission, and if this is his last run with the Warriors, it’s morphing into a gallop. His 50 points Friday (Saturday, PHL time) were a personal playoff high and his 38 in the first half tied Charles Barkley for second on the all-time list. And this came on the heels of the 45 points he delivered in a losing Game 5 effort. “Sometimes you come across special people and it doesn’t matter what defense you send to them,” said Clippers guard Lou Williams. “There is no scheme. There’s nothing you can do with special people. He’s one of them and he showed it. He put them guys on his shoulders. He proved exactly who people think he is, who he thinks of himself, and he did it.” The Warriors finished with the best record in the West this season, almost on reputation or cruise control. Once again, there were lapses that seemed suspiciously like a team bored with the schedule and awaiting a summer coronation. This breezy attitude seeped into the opening round, when the Warriors choked away a 31-point lead and then lost another home game to an eighth-seeded team devoid of All-Stars. This doesn’t happen unless the heavily-favored one-seed is taking their championship rings for granted. “I think I made a joke like this first round felt like it was two months,” said Curry. “It was just the emotional part of it, I mean, losing (DeMarcus Cousins) and a 31-point lead and trying to come back on the road and the mental investment you put into it. We’ve got to be able to flip the switch from one team to the next and that will be the biggest test.” Well, and this might be a stretch, but expect the Warriors to show the Rockets a lot more respect. Deep down, Kerr knows losing a pair to the Clippers was perhaps the face-slap his team needed, and at the right time. The Warriors know any lapse in this series will likely be their last, and a fatal one as well. “We know what Houston's about,” said Kerr. “We know how good they are. We've got to be ready.” There are positive signs beyond Durant. Thompson will be the first line of defense against Harden, the league’s leading scorer this season, and Thompson is coming off a lockdown of Williams, who finally cooled and went 3-for-21 Friday (Saturday, PHL time). This will be of major importance, of course, given Harden’s usage rate and relentlessness. “If you’re not focused,” Durant said, “he can drive past you, he shoots floaters now, he’s a strong finish with either hand and obviously the step-back three-pointers is one of his staples. He can score in a variety of ways so you have to be locked in from the beginning. You’ve got to be ready to play tough all game.” Draymond Green is coming off a triple-double, while the aging Andre Iguodala seems springy and active, usually his profile this time of year. Yes, there’s finally perhaps a sense of urgency or at least an understanding of what’s at stake and more of an emphasis on staying woke for the Warriors. “Obviously we would love to win every series 4-0,” said Durant. “That would be ideal. But we know it’s not really going to happen that way.” Perhaps not. But the Durant Warriors, based on their track record, are convincing enough. Veteran NBA writer Shaun Powell has worked for newspapers and other publications for more than 25 years. You can e-mail him here or follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 27th, 2019

Cavaliers' James and Warriors' Curry lead in second fan returns of NBA All-Star Voting 2017

em>NBA press release /em> NEW YORK -- The Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James and the Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry lead their respective conferences in the second fan returns of NBA All-Star Voting 2017 presented by Verizon. Fan voting continues to surge as more than 21 million votes have been cast, a 142% increase from the same time period last year.  Fans will account for 50 percent of the vote to determine the 10 starters for the 66th NBA All-Star Game, which will take place on Sunday, Feb. 19 (Feb. 20, PHL time) at Smoothie King Center in New Orleans. All current NBA players and a panel of basketball media will account for 25 percent each, with each participant completing one full ballot featuring two guards and three frontcourt players from both conferences. Voting for fans, players and media will conclude on Monday, Jan. 16 at 11:59 p.m. ET (Tuesday, Jan. 17, 12:59pm, PHL time), and starters will be announced live on TNT on Thursday, Jan. 19 (Jan. 20, PHL time) during a special one-hour edition of TNT NBA Tip-Off presented by Autotrader.com. The Eastern Conference and Western Conference All-Star reserves, as selected by NBA head coaches, will be announced the following week on TNT on Thursday, Jan. 26 (Jan. 27, PHL time).   In the second fan returns, James totaled 1,066,147 votes to maintain the top spot among all players and increase his lead in the East frontcourt over the Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo (963,110).  Cleveland’s Kevin Love (473,328) edges the Philadelphia 76ers’ Joel Embiid (457,300) by 16,028 votes for third place in the East frontcourt.  Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving (971,362) and the Chicago Bulls’ Dwyane Wade (514,866) continue to set the pace among East guards, while the Toronto Raptors’ DeMar DeRozan (453,538) remains in third place. In the West, Curry (990,390) has pulled ahead of teammate Kevin Durant (987,479) as the conference’s leading vote-getter.  Curry and the Houston Rockets’ James Harden (961,685) remain the front-runners at guard, followed by the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Russell Westbrook (899,024).  Durant, Golden State’s Zaza Pachulia (823,376) and the San Antonio Spurs’ Kawhi Leonard (630,766) continue to lead the frontcourt, with the New Orleans Pelicans’ Anthony Davis (567,201) in fourth place. See below for the second fan returns of NBA All-Star Voting 2017 presented by Verizon. strong>NBA ALL-STAR VOTING 2017 PRESENTED BY VERIZON /strong> em> strong>Eastern Conference Frontcourt /strong> /em> 1. LeBron James (CLE) 1,066,147 br /> 2. Giannis Antetokounmpo (MIL) 963,110 br /> 3. Kevin Love (CLE) 473,328 br /> 4. Joel Embiid (PHI) 457,300 br /> 5. Jimmy Butler (CHI) 400,448 br /> 6. Carmelo Anthony (NY) 327,716 br /> 7. Kristaps Porzingis (NY) 324,106 br /> 8. Paul George (IND) 249,484 br /> 9. Jabari Parker (MIL) 120,022 br /> 10. Tristan Thompson (CLE) 114,759 em> strong>Eastern Conference Guards /strong> /em> 1. Kyrie Irving (CLE) 971,362 br /> 2. Dwyane Wade (CHI) 514,866 br /> 3. DeMar DeRozan (TOR) 453,538 br /> 4. Isaiah Thomas (BOS) 401,671 br /> 5. Kyle Lowry (TOR) 256,668 br /> 6. Derrick Rose (NY) 223,804 br /> 7. John Wall (WAS) 173,148 br /> 8. Jeremy Lin (BKN) 109,088 br /> 9. Kemba Walker (CHA) 105,637 br /> 10. Avery Bradley (BOS) 64,157 em> strong>Western Conference Frontcourt /strong> /em> 1. Kevin Durant (GS) 987,479 br /> 2. Zaza Pachulia (GS) 823,376 br /> 3. Kawhi Leonard (SA) 630,766 br /> 4. Anthony Davis (NO) 567,201 br /> 5. Draymond Green (GS) 464,319 br /> 6. DeMarcus Cousins (SAC) 379,225 br /> 7. Karl-Anthony Towns (MIN) 223,979 br /> 8. LaMarcus Aldridge (SA) 192,784 br /> 9. Blake Griffin (LAC) 172,393 br /> 10. Marc Gasol (MEM) 172,146 em> strong>Western Conference Guards /strong> /em> 1. Stephen Curry (GS) 990,390 br /> 2. James Harden (HOU) 961,685 br /> 3. Russell Westbrook (OKC) 899,024 br /> 4. Klay Thompson (GS) 555,430 br /> 5. Chris Paul (LAC) 379,076 br /> 6. Damian Lillard (POR) 208,171 br /> 7. Eric Gordon (HOU) 191,407 br /> 8. Andre Iguodala (GS) 130,224 br /> 9. Manu Ginobili (SA) 122,333 br /> 10. Zach LaVine (MIN) 94,867 After all votes are tallied, players will be ranked in each conference by position (guard and frontcourt) within each of the three voting groups – fan votes, player votes and media votes.  Each player’s score will be calculated by averaging his weighted rank from the fan votes, the player votes and the media votes.  The five players (two guards and three frontcourt players) with the best score in each conference will be named NBA All-Star Game starters.  Fan voting will serve as the tiebreaker for players in a position group with the same score. * * * strong>How Fans Can Vote /strong> NBA fans may submit one full ballot each day through NBA.com, the NBA App (available on Android and iOS), Twitter, Facebook and Google Search, as well as via Sina Weibo and Tencent Microblogs in China. All current NBA players are available for selection.  em> strong>NBA.com voting page at NBA.com/vote: /strong> /em> Fill out one full ballot per day (once every 24 hours) on NBA.com/vote from a desktop or mobile browser. Fans can select up to two guards and three frontcourt players from each conference when choosing starters.   br />   br /> em> strong>NBA App:  /strong> /em>Access the ballot and vote through the app, which is available on Android and iOS. Fans can fill out one full ballot per day and select up to two guards and three frontcourt players from each conference when choosing starters. br />   br /> em> strong>Twitter:  /strong> /em>Tweet, retweet or reply with an NBA player’s first and last name or Twitter handle, along with the hashtag 'NBAVOTE.  Each tweet may include only one player’s name or handle. Fans may vote for 10 unique players each day throughout the NBA All-Star voting period.  br />   br /> em> strong>Facebook:  /strong> /em>Post the player’s first and last name along with the hashtag 'NBAVOTE on your personal Facebook account, or comment on another’s Facebook post.   Each post may include only one player’s name. Fans may post votes for 10 unique players per day throughout the voting period. br />   br /> em> strong>Google Search: /strong> /em> Search “NBA Vote All-Star” or “NBA Vote Team Name” (ex: NBA Vote Celtics) and use respective voting cards to select teams and then players.  Fans may submit votes for 10 unique players per day throughout the voting period.   .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 12th, 2017

Cavs, Warriors stars lead first fan returns of ASG voting

em>NBA press release /em> NEW YORK -- LeBron James and Kyrie Irving of the defending NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers are the top two vote-getters overall, while Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors lead all Western Conference players in the first fan returns of NBA All-Star Voting 2017 presented by Verizon. The first week of fan voting for the 66th NBA All-Star Game, which will take place on Sunday, Feb. 19 (Feb. 20, PHL time) at Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, produced close races in both conferences and generated 138% more votes cast (11,174,153) than during the same time period last year (4,693,433). James, a 12-time All-Star, received 595,288 votes to earn the top spot among all players. Joining James at the top of the Eastern Conference frontcourt are the Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo (500,663) and Cleveland’s Kevin Love (250,347), with rookie Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers (221,984) next on the list. Irving (543,030) and 12-time All-Star Dwyane Wade of the Chicago Bulls (278,052) lead the East guards, followed by the Toronto Raptors’ DeMar DeRozan (253,340). Durant, who owns the highest scoring average in All-Star Game history (25.6 ppg), paces all West players with 541,209 votes. He is followed in the West frontcourt by Golden State’s Zaza Pachulia (439,675) and the San Antonio Spurs’ Kawhi Leonard (341,240), who edges the New Orleans Pelicans’ Anthony Davis (318,144).  Curry (523,597) narrowly tops a tight race among West guards, with the Houston Rockets’ James Harden (519,446) edging two-time reigning All-Star Game MVP Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder (501,652) for second place. For the first time ever, NBA players and basketball media will join fans in selecting the starters for the NBA All-Star Game. Fans will account for 50 percent of the vote, while all current players and a media panel will account for 25 percent each.  Player and media voting will begin next week, with each participant completing one full ballot featuring two guards and three frontcourt players from both conferences.  After all votes are tallied, players will be ranked in each conference by position (guard and frontcourt) within each of the three voting groups – fan votes, player votes and media votes.  Each player’s score will be calculated by averaging his weighted rank from the fan votes, the player votes and the media votes.  The five players (two guards and three frontcourt players) with the best score in each conference will be named NBA All-Star Game starters. Fan voting will serve as the tiebreaker for players in a position group with the same score. See below for the first fan returns of NBA All-Star Voting 2017 presented by Verizon. strong>NBA ALL-STAR VOTING 2017 PRESENTED BY VERIZON /strong> em> strong>Eastern Conference Frontcourt /strong> /em> 1. LeBron James (CLE) 595,288 br /> 2. Giannis Antetokounmpo (MIL) 500,663 br /> 3. Kevin Love (CLE) 250,347 br /> 4. Joel Embiid (PHI) 221,984 br /> 5. Carmelo Anthony (NY) 189,817 br /> 6. Jimmy Butler (CHI) 189,066 br /> 7. Kristaps Porzingis (NY) 184,166 br /> 8. Paul George (IND) 138,332 br /> 9. Hassan Whiteside (MIA) 72,628 br /> 10. Jabari Parker (MIL) 64,141 em> strong>Eastern Conference Guards /strong> /em> 1. Kyrie Irving (CLE) 543,030 br /> 2. Dwyane Wade (CHI) 278,052 br /> 3. DeMar DeRozan (TOR) 253,340 br /> 4. Isaiah Thomas (BOS) 193,297 br /> 5. Derrick Rose (NY) 129,924 br /> 6. Kyle Lowry (TOR) 128,940 br /> 7. John Wall (WAS) 87,360 br /> 8. Jeremy Lin (BKN) 59,562 br /> 9. Kemba Walker (CHA) 52,122 br /> 10. Avery Bradley (BOS) 32,822 em> strong>Western Conference Frontcourt /strong> /em> 1. Kevin Durant (GS) 541,209 br /> 2. Zaza Pachulia (GS) 439,675 br /> 3. Kawhi Leonard (SA) 341,240 br /> 4. Anthony Davis (NO) 318,144 br /> 5. Draymond Green (GS) 236,315 br /> 6. DeMarcus Cousins (SAC) 202,317 br /> 7. Karl-Anthony Towns (MIN) 125,278 br /> 8. LaMarcus Aldridge (SA) 101,724 br /> 9. Blake Griffin (LAC) 100,524 br /> 10. Marc Gasol (MEM) 97,370 em> strong>Western Conference Guards /strong> /em> 1. Stephen Curry (GS) 523,597 br /> 2. James Harden (HOU) 519,446 br /> 3. Russell Westbrook (OKC) 501,652 br /> 4. Klay Thompson (GS) 293,054 br /> 5. Chris Paul (LAC) 173,830 br /> 6. Damian Lillard (POR) 117,857 br /> 7. Eric Gordon (HOU) 76,609 br /> 8. Manu Ginobili (SA) 65,832 br /> 9. Andre Iguodala (GS) 64,247 br /> 10. Zach LaVine (MIN) 53,642 * * * strong>How Fans Can Vote /strong> NBA fans may submit one full ballot each day through NBA.com, the NBA App (available on Android and iOS), Twitter, Facebook and Google Search, as well as via Sina Weibo and Tencent Microblogs in China. All current NBA players are available for selection.  em> strong>NBA.com voting page at NBA.com/vote: /strong> /em> Fill out one full ballot per day (once every 24 hours) on NBA.com/vote from a desktop or mobile browser. Fans can select up to two guards and three frontcourt players from each conference when choosing starters.   br />   br /> em> strong>NBA App: /strong> /em>Access the ballot and vote through the app, which is available on Android and iOS. Fans can fill out one full ballot per day and select up to two guards and three frontcourt players from each conference when choosing starters. br />   br /> em> strong>Twitter: /strong> /em>Tweet, retweet or reply with an NBA player’s first and last name or Twitter handle, along with the hashtag 'NBAVOTE.  Each tweet may include only one player’s name or handle. Fans may vote for 10 unique players each day throughout the NBA All-Star voting period.  br />   br /> em> strong>Facebook: /strong> /em>Post the player’s first and last name along with the hashtag 'NBAVOTE on your personal Facebook account, or comment on another’s Facebook post.   Each post may include only one player’s name. Fans may post votes for 10 unique players per day throughout the voting period. br />   br /> em> strong>Google Search: /strong> /em> Search “NBA Vote All-Star” or “NBA Vote Team Name” (ex: NBA Vote Celtics) and use respective voting cards to select teams and then players.  Fans may submit votes for 10 unique players per day throughout the voting period. The next fan voting update will be shared on Thursday, Jan. 12 (Jan. 13, PHL time).  Voting for fans, players and media will conclude on Monday, Jan. 16 at 11:59 p.m. ET (Jan. 17, 12:59 a.m., PHL time). Starters will be announced live on TNT on Thursday, Jan. 19 (Jan. 20, PHL time) during a special one-hour edition of TNT NBA Tip-Off presented by Autotrader.com, featuring Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, Shaquille O’Neal and Kenny Smith. The special will air prior to TNT’s doubleheader showcasing the Washington Wizards at the New York Knicks and the Minnesota Timberwolves at the LA Clippers. The Eastern Conference and Western Conference All-Star reserves, as selected by NBA head coaches, will be announced the following week on Thursday, Jan. 26 (Jan. 27, PHL time).  .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 6th, 2017

Harden dazzles, then Raptors rally past Rockets in Japan

By Tim Reynolds, Associated Press When James Harden's night was over, defense got easier for the Toronto Raptors. Pascal Siakam scored 24 points and grabbed 11 rebounds and the Raptors — in their first game since winning the NBA Finals — rallied from a 17-point deficit to beat the Houston Rockets 134-129 in Tokyo on Tuesday to open the NBA Japan Games. The exhibition game at the Saitama Super Arena, a site for basketball at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, was the NBA's first in Japan since 2003. The Rockets and Raptors return there to conclude the two-game series on Thursday. Raptors coach Nick Nurse said he liked the arena and felt energy from the Japanese fans. "We get 'Let's go Raptors' in a lot of cities," Nurse said. "It's nice to see it in Tokyo as well. Lot of Raptors fans around the world. It's great." There were plenty of Rockets fans as well, for good reason. Harden put on yet another dazzling offensive show, making his first six shots and finishing 11 for 14 from the field and scoring 34 points in 27 minutes. His final points were a pair of free throws with 3:40 left in the third quarter that put Houston up 104-87. He checked out shortly afterward, and Toronto outscored Houston 47-25 the rest of the way. "It was amazing," Harden said. "They got an opportunity to see what NBA basketball is about, what Rockets basketball is about. They brought the energy tonight. They were excited from the beginning of the game. They made us want to go out there and put on a show, so hopefully it can be that same kind of atmosphere on Thursday." Russell Westbrook played for Houston for the first time, scoring 13 points in 21 minutes in his preseason debut. "It wasn't bad," said Westbrook, the longtime Oklahoma City star and former MVP now in his first season with Houston. "Unfortunately, we didn't win. That's the main goal. But it was good to get on the floor for the first time, get up and down, try to find a rhythm. We've got a lot of work to do." Serge Ibaka scored 18 points and Fred VanVleet scored 16 for the Raptors, who played without Marc Gasol and Kyle Lowry. There are six games later Tuesday (Wednesday morning, PHL time): Philadelphia plays host to Guangzhou of the Chinese Basketball Association, San Antonio visits Miami, Memphis hosts New Zealand, Dallas goes to Oklahoma City, Minnesota is at Phoenix and Denver plays in Portland......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 8th, 2019

Harden has triple-double as Rockets down Sharks 140-71

By Kristie Rieken, Associated Press HOUSTON (AP) — James Harden had a triple-double with 10 points, 17 assists and 12 rebounds in just more than a half as the Houston Rockets opened the NBA preseason with a 140-71 win over the Shanghai Sharks on Monday night (Tuesday, PHL time). Russell Westbrook, who was acquired in a trade with Oklahoma City this summer, did not play. The Rockets are taking things slow with Westbrook this preseason after he spent most of the offseason recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery he had in May. Clint Capela had 25 points and 10 rebounds for the Rockets, who played most of their starters for a good chunk of the first half as they built a 77-34 lead. Gerald Green added 21 points and made five three-pointers on a night Houston finished with 23. Former Rocket Donatas Motiejunas had 27 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Sharks and James Nunnally, who briefly played for Houston last season, added 16 points and seven rebounds. Houston now departs for a trip to play the Los Angeles Clippers in Hawaii on Friday followed by two games against the Toronto Raptors in Tokyo on Oct. 8 and Oct. 10......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 1st, 2019

Manager Joe Maddon won t be back with Cubs next season

By Jay Cohen, Associated Press From the moment Joe Maddon joined the Chicago Cubs, taking the reins in a Wrigleyville bar five years ago, he talked about winning. He was the right manager at the right time for a franchise that had experienced mostly terrible timing for more than a century. Right until his time in Chicago ran out. The Cubs will have a new manager next season after Maddon and president of baseball operations Theo Epstein announced Sunday it was time for a change after three years of declining results since the franchise's historic World Series championship in 2016. The situation was finalized when Maddon and Epstein met in Epstein's hotel room after Saturday's 8-6 victory at St. Louis, sharing some wine and reminiscing about their wildly successful partnership. Maddon's contract expired after Sunday's season-ending 9-0 loss to the NL Central champion Cardinals. "Change can help you grow," Epstein said. "And Joe said this change is going to help him grow and I feel it's going to help the Cubs grow, too." The move begins what could be an active offseason for Chicago, and the 65-year-old Maddon once again becomes one of baseball's top free agents. "I want to continue to do this, whatever's next out there, I want to be able to be on top of that too," said Maddon, who has used everything from petting zoos to T-shirts with slogans like "Embrace The Target" and "Do Simple Better" to help his teams over the years. "All of it's been positive, man, and it's been interesting, entertaining and quite frankly for this time of year, feeling pretty good, feeling pretty eager about everything, so it's been a good year." While Maddon is out after five seasons, he is tied to Chicago forever after managing the Cubs to the 2016 championship for the franchise's first title in 108 years. Chicago also made it to the NL Championship Series in 2015 and 2017, but it lost in the wild-card round last October and tumbled out of the playoff race altogether this year. Weighed down by a puzzling discrepancy between their 51 wins at Wrigley Field and 33 road victories, the Cubs finished third in the NL Central. "You look at the home and road splits and what we've done on the road ... I mean these are like some really crazy, hard-to-wrap-your-mind-around things," Maddon said this month. "I don't know if somebody's going to dig deeply enough to really figure it out, but it's really, just to have your mind try to extrapolate what is going on here, it's hard to pinpoint anything." The Cubs were in position to make the playoffs for much of this season. They had a half-game lead in the NL Central on Aug. 22. They had control of an NL wild card into September. But a nine-game slide, including five consecutive one-run losses for the first time since 1915, wiped out their postseason chances and sealed Maddon's fate. "We just weren't able to get over the hump," he said. Per the Cubs' request, Maddon employed a more hands-on approach this year, especially on the hitting side, but the lineup was still plagued by inconsistency. There also were surprising fielding and baserunning issues given the Cubs' strength in those areas since Maddon took over. With Maddon gone, the focus turns to Epstein, and the club's continued inability to develop pitching help for the major league roster. Yu Darvish rediscovered his form after it looked as if the Japanese right-hander might have trouble living up to his $126 million, six-year contract, but reliever Brandon Morrow's $21 million, two-year deal was a costly mistake. Even with the disappointing finish each of the past two years, Maddon likely will have plenty of suitors. And there will be a ton of interest in the Cubs' job. "Oh yeah, I don't want to wait. I'm ready," Maddon said. The last time Maddon was available, Epstein fired Rick Renteria after just one year to create an opening in Chicago. Maddon's arrival in November 2014 coincided with the ascent of an impressive wave of prospects. A month after Maddon signed on, Jon Lester joined the Cubs in free agency, and the team took off from there. Chicago won 103 games on its way to the NL Central title three years ago. After eliminating San Francisco and the Los Angeles Dodgers in the playoffs, the Cubs stopped their championship drought by beating the Cleveland Indians in a memorable Game 7 in the World Series. "It's hard to express kind of how (it) feels. You kind of feel like it could be an end of an era," said veteran utilityman Ben Zobrist, who played for Maddon in Tampa Bay and Chicago. "When I look at my career, he's at the top. ... Joe's a special person. Those kind of people, let alone managers, don't come along very often." ___ AP freelance writer Jeff Melnick contributed to this report from St. Louis......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 30th, 2019

New-look Clippers ready to level up beyond Best Team in L.A.

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com LOS ANGELES -- It was almost exactly a year ago when the Clippers welcomed the media on the same day the Lakers debuted LeBron James, and Patrick Beverley told the half-dozen or so reporters who must’ve made a wrong turn: “We’re the best team in L.A.” That bit of bravado went unnoticed and unheard, partly because of the Laker noise, partly because few -- if anyone -- bought it. Of course, Beverley was ultimately proven wise when the Clippers scrapped their way to 48 wins and a pair of first-round wins against the Warriors while LeBron and the Lakers almost literally collapsed from a kick to the groin. With a swell of attention now being paid to presumptive title favorites, who added Paul George and Kawhi Leonard while retaining much of the supporting cast, Beverley was given the chance Sunday (Monday, PHL time) to double down on his prophecy. He toned it down. “We’ll see,” he said. Yet his sinister grin was plain to see, and it reflected the swagger and internal expectations of a franchise not known for through-the-roof projections. Such is the new world order in Los Angeles, and perhaps the NBA, in 2019-20. These are unprecedented times for the Clippers, who’ve had winning teams before but none with this much title twinkle headed into the season. “We know what we’re capable of doing,” said Beverley, and so does everyone else. You don’t add the reigning NBA Finals MVP and another who finished third in the regular-season Kia MVP balloting without shaking up the establishment, even if you’ve never won a championship in franchise history. But there’s a long wait between now and next spring's playoffs, and a shorter one to see George on the floor. The 29-year-old swingman is still in the mending stage after off-season surgery on both shoulders. He said “I’m not sure” when he’ll be ready to play, even with opening night against the Lakers a little over three weeks away. George said he hasn’t had any complications or setbacks, but won’t engage in any contact work in camp and coach Doc Rivers said George will not appear in any games until he does. “There’s no problems,” George said. “I’m just going to do light work and drills for now.” The other issue as it relates to health is Leonard’s usage. Last year in Toronto, still smarting from a persistent quad injury that led to his stormy exit from the Spurs, Leonard didn’t play on consecutive nights during back-to-back games. Rivers said there are no such restrictions this season, or demands from the player, although the coach wants to reserve the right to monitor and change the approach if necessary. "Last year, I was going in with an injury that I was dealing with the year before, still was lingering, and we knew that I had to be healthy going throughout the season and making it to the playoffs,” Leonard said. "This time, I'm feeling good. I’m feeling way better than I was at the start of last season. There really was no plan laid out to discuss with everyone." Rivers also noted that the Clippers’ depth will allow for rest periods for George and Leonard; both players are joining a team that prospered without an All-Star last season, a team that will probably once again bring reigning Sixth Man of the Year Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell off the bench. In due time, the Clippers will be complete, and that’s the most important takeaway from their first official gathering. The level of enthusiasm is “sky-high,” said Williams. Rivers has flexibility with Leonard and George, widely considered among the most elite two-way players in basketball. On offense, George and Leonard are top-10 league scorers (26.6 points last year for Leonard; 28.0 for George). Playing those two alongside Williams, who averaged 20 points last season in just 26 minutes off the bench, should cause matchup headaches. “We’ll force a lot of defenses to make a lot of hard decisions,” said Williams. And the options afforded to Rivers might even be richer on the other end. Rivers thinks pairing two newcomers plus Beverley -- who guarded Kevin Durant in the playoffs, while giving away seven inches -- can be “special.” Utilizing three players who can legitimately guard multiple positions, the Clippers’ defense could be epic, if not historic. George said: “It’s going to be scary … we’ve really got a chance to do something special on the defensive end. Watching Pat get out there and picking somebody up 94 feet, that's going to get me going. It's going to get Kawhi going. It's just going to become contagious on a nightly basis. I honestly think, for the first time, people are going to be excited to watch the defensive end as opposed to watching the offensive end.” The makings of a unique season, then, is on deck for the Clippers. It became realistic when Leonard, fresh off a title in Toronto, chose George and the Clippers over LeBron James and Anthony Davis and the Lakers — which, in itself, seems un-Clipper-like given the club’s former reputation and history, when superstars were once allergic to L.A.’s "other" basketball team. But these are new times. “We actually wanted to be teammates for a long time,” said George. “This was always in the works to happen at some point.” From the top of the organization to the bottom, everyone knows the potential and just the same, would rather allow a scenario to play itself out than speak it into existence. That’s why Beverley provided the most unexpected news of camp by playing it coy. But you knew where he stood. “Can’t wait to get started,” he said, echoing the thoughts of a locker room thinking big. Shaun Powell has covered the NBA for more than 25 years. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here, and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 30th, 2019

Harden, Westbrook want to play for USA at Tokyo Olympics

  WASHINGTON, USA – Two-time reigning NBA scoring champion James Harden and fellow Houston Rockets guard Russell Westbrook said Friday, September 27 they want to play for the United States at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Speaking to reporters a day before the NBA club opens training camp for the 2019-2020 campaign, seven-time ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsSep 28th, 2019

Paistaran nina Harden, Westbrook problema

DATING teammates sa Oklahoma City Thunder sina James Harden at Russell Westbrook, reunited sila ngayon sa Houston Rockets......»»

Category: newsSource:  abanteRelated NewsSep 28th, 2019

Ben Simmons fell in love with basketball again

By Rob Maaddi, Associated Press PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Videos of Ben Simmons making jumpers flooded social media over the summer and the All-Star point guard is ready to take his game to another level when the Philadelphia 76ers open camp next week. “I feel like this summer I fell in love with the game again,” Simmons told The Associated Press on Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time). “I kind of got back to who I was and having fun with the game. I felt like the past season I lost that enjoyment side of it but I feel like this summer has been huge for me. Just the work I’ve been putting in, I kinda fell in love with putting that work in again and I’ve been in the gym every day working and the results have been paying off so I’m excited for the season to start. Simmons, the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2016, has helped lead the Sixers to the second round of the NBA playoffs two straight seasons after making his debut in 2017. He was the Rookie of the Year that season and an All-Star for the first time last season. Simmons has averaged 16.4 points, 8.5 rebounds and 7.9 assists and signed a $170 million, five-year contract extension in July. Philadelphia is 101-58 in regular-season games when Simmons plays. He has had 22 triple-doubles in the past two seasons, tied for third most in the league with Denver’s Nikola Jokic and trailing Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook (59) and the Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James (26). Simmons also has had 80 double-doubles over the past two seasons. But the one knock against Simmons has been his reluctance to shoot long jumpers and three-pointers. He’s 0-for-18 from beyond the arc, so defenses often focus on taking away his ability to drive to the basket and dare him to shoot. He’s up for the challenge. “I’m ready to be who I am as a player, continue to develop, keep working,” Simmons said. “It’s a process. It takes time. Obviously, people always want to see results straightaway but that’s not how things work.” Simmons decided to focus on improving his game instead of playing for the Australian team at the FIBA World Cup earlier this month in China. He rediscovered his love for basketball during those long hours in the gym and admitted the criticism weighed on him at times. “I think sometimes you kind of get too deep into it where you listen to other people which should never be the thing you do unless they’re giving you positive feedback or trying to help you get better because there’s a lot of negativity out there,” Simmons said, pointing to various social media platforms. “It’s huge once you kind of block that out, you don’t really care, you kinda go out there feeling free. You don’t care if you miss a shot because everyone misses a shot so that’s one of the things that I think this summer I got back to how I was as a player just playing and doing what I love at a high level.” Despite being a lightning rod for criticism in Philadelphia, Simmons says he enjoys playing in front of a passionate fan base. “I love being in Philadelphia. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else,” he said. “I think this is the perfect place for me. I just handle (criticism) how it comes.” Simmons heard plenty of boos after a poor performance in Philadelphia’s first-round series opener against Brooklyn in April. He had nine points, seven rebounds, and three assists and shot 1-for-5 from the free throw line in a loss. Afterward, Simmons said: “If you’re gonna boo, then stay on that side.” Simmons answered with his second career playoff triple-double in Game 2, finishing with 18 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds as Philadelphia reeled off four straight wins. He looks back at it as a learning experience. “I had a terrible first game and I loved it when people are tweeting me saying all these negative things because the next game I came out (and played better),” Simmons said. “It kinda fires me up a little.” Why does he even pay attention to the critics flexing their keyboard muscles? “It’s hard to avoid. It’s hard to not see,” Simmons said. “I’ve done a better job of not watching certain things in terms of what people are saying but that was a good example of people not giving me positive feedback and I had to respond.” The Sixers revamped their roster in the offseason, losing Jimmy Butler and J.J. Redick and adding Al Horford and Josh Richardson and retaining Tobias Harris to play with Simmons and fellow All-Star Joel Embiid. “We’re locked in. We’re ready to play,” Simmons said. “We’ve been in the gym. We’ve been there early. We’re competing trying to get each other better from the rooks to the guys who are vets. I think it’s going to be an exciting year for the 76ers.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 26th, 2019

30 Teams in 30 Days: Rockets see Harden, Westbrook team up

Like most summers in the NBA, the 2019 edition was chock full of trades, free agent news and player movement. From the defending-champion Toronto Raptors to just about every other team in the league, change was the most applicable word when it came to describing team rosters for the 2019-20 season. With the opening of training camps just around the corner, NBA.com's Shaun Powell will evaluate the state of each franchise as it sits today -- in order of regular-season finish from 2018-19 -- as we look at 30 teams in 30 days. * * * Today's team: Houston Rockets 2018-19 Record: 53-29, lost to the Warriors in the conference semifinals Key additions: Russell Westbrook (trade), Tyson Chandler (free agency), Ben McLemore (free agency) Key departures: Chris Paul The lowdown: Juiced by yet another epic, and on some levels, historic season by James Harden, the Rockets amassed 50 wins, reached the playoffs and were denied (again) by the Golden State Warriors. As in 2018, this ouster was met with a high degree of frustration. The year before, Houston lost Paul to a hamstring injury late in the series and fell in Game 7 of the Western Conference finals. This time, the Rockets were unable to beat a Golden State team that clinched the series in Game 6 without Kevin Durant (who got injured in Game 5 of the series), a cold slap of an ending to Houston's realistic Finals hopes. In one of the NBA's all-time best offensive seasons, Harden averaged 36.1 points per game and revived Houston's season while Paul was on the mend from yet another injury. Harden scored 30 or more in 32 straight games, scored 50 or more nine times and had two 61-point games. He was a singular force with the ball and didn’t show any wear in the postseason. Unlike Paul, Harden was a symbol of sturdiness and strength, averaging 36.8 minutes per game in 78 games played. Paul played only 58 games, although when healthy he was respectable (8.2 apg) and at times looked like an All-Star. However, his customarily high level of play dropped a few floors. Eric Gordon played solid enough to earn a max extension, and Clint Capela gave the Rockets a front-line weapon at both ends. The Carmelo Anthony experience folded after 10 games, but Houston got supporting help from Austin Rivers and PJ Tucker (who was noticeably effective in the playoffs). Another effective-yet-disappointing year was unacceptable to ownership and, quite honestly, the locker room as well. Summer summary: When he purchased the Rockets for $2.2 billion a few years ago, owner Tilman Fertitta was a reasonable and patient man. He pledged his faith in GM Daryl Morey, sung the gospel of Harden and thought the world of Paul. But everyone has their limits and Fertitta was clearly discouraged by the manner and speed in which the Rockets were bounced last season. Something had to be done and a big opportunity presented itself. When Kawhi Leonard signed with the LA Clippers and convinced Paul George to request a trade from the Oklahoma City Thunder, it led to Westbrook being available. While this was happening, Harden and Paul were having relationship issues, or at least that was the word in Rockets’ circles. Just two years earlier they were thrilled to be teammates and even made commercials together. Now, they were on the outs. Therefore, the solution was simple: Trade Paul and his hefty contract for Westbrook and his hefty contract, and reunite a pair of Kia MVP winners. Advantage, Rockets? It bears repeating that Harden and Westbrook are tight and respectful of each other’s accomplishments, because this will be worth revisiting if this attempt to help Harden win a ring fails like the others. That relationship is the selling point, because based purely on styles of play, this appears to be major clash. Both players need the ball, perhaps more than any two players in the NBA right now, if not in history. They’re high-usage talents, meaning, they work best when creating opportunities for themselves or teammates and neither can happen if they’re playing off the ball. Westbrook has never done that in his NBA life and Harden only did so briefly as a youngster with OKC. Harden gave the trade his blessing, and once the deal was done, both players said all the right things -- if anything, they scolded any observers who dared to raise the obvious. Can it work? Well, sure, but it’ll take some concessions by both players, and coach Mike D’Antoni must change (if not overhaul) his system in order to accommodate this duo. Meanwhile, the Rockets are somewhat on the clock. It is not to say that Harden and Westbrook are approaching their sunset years, but the chances of playing for a title are increased if the two players click sooner than later. There’s also a question of what Westbrook has left. His efficiency and 3-point shooting faded last season. Will defenses respect him when he’s left open in Houston? He at least appears to have more in the tank than Paul, which was another reason the Rockets were anxious to make this swap. For all of his explosiveness, Westbrook is rather durable and dependable; the same can’t be said of Paul as he approaches his mid-30s. Westbrook was sad to leave OKC, the only team he’d ever known, a city that embraced him and a franchise that gave him a supermax contract. Now he’s going to a new team where the demand for June basketball will only increase. The last time he and Harden were teammates, they did play in June, where they lost to LeBron James and the Miami Heat in 2012. Can they make a triumphant return together? Given all they’ve accomplished -- MVPs, scoring titles, triple-doubles, All-Star appearances -- they’re certainly due. A championship is all they’re missing. Shaun Powell has covered the NBA for more than 25 years. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here, and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 26th, 2019

Cohesion keeps building for Team USA at FIBA World Cup

By John Schuhmann, NBA.com SHENZHEN -- Over the last few weeks, members of the United States Men's National Team have often said this about their opponents: "They've been playing together for a long time." Sometimes, it's accurate. Sometimes, it's not. Only four of the nine rotation players for Turkey, the team that almost beat the U.S. in its second game here at the FIBA World Cup, were in the rotation for Turkey at Eurobasket two years ago. In comparison to this version of Team USA, which came together exactly five weeks ago Monday, yes, the opponent typically has more continuity from summer to summer. The "they've been playing together for a long time" thing has also been drilled into American players as they prepare for FIBA play. It comes out of their mouths pretty easily when they're asked about an opponent or why a game was tougher than it should have been in regard to the talent on the floor. Maybe it's an excuse. Maybe it's just reality. USA coach Gregg Popovich, in talking after his team's 89-73 victory over Brazil on Monday, said, "Those guys have been together awhile" about the opponent. But down the hall from where Popovich took the podium, there was something new. It was the opponent saying the following about the Americans: "It looks like they've been playing together for a long time." The opponent was NBA veteran Anderson Varejao, who has seen multiple versions of the U.S. National Team. And after facing this one, he made note of the chemistry. "That's a great complement," Kemba Walker said when told about Varejao's appraisal. "I think we're getting it." If there ever was a U.S. National Team where the whole needed to be greater than the sum of the parts, this is it. This team does not have the offensive superstars that past teams have had. Walker: 'Chemistry is coming along' In the gold medal game of the 2010 World Championship, Kevin Durant scored 28 points against Turkey. In the gold medal game of the 2012 Olympics, he dropped 30 on Spain. In 2014, Kyrie Irving and James Harden combined for 52 points against Serbia in the World Cup final. And in the 2016 Olympics, the U.S. took gold behind another 30 points from Durant against the Serbs. Through five games at this tournament, no U.S. player has scored more than 20 points in a game. And the only 20-point game came from Jaylen Brown against a team (Japan) that went 0-5 with the tournament's third worst defense, statistically. That doesn't mean that the U.S. can't be a good offensive team. It just has to be a more cohesive offensive team than American teams of the past. "We just need each other so bad," Walker said. "And I think we're starting to realize that each and every game. These teams are so good. These teams are so tough. It's just taking everybody and everything we've got to win these games. The chemistry is coming along really well." You could start to see it against Greece on Saturday, though the Americans shot just 36 percent and barely scored a point per possession (69 on 68). The ball movement was sharper than it had been previously and they got a lot of open shots that just didn't fall. Some of those shots started to fall on Monday, and the U.S. had its second-most efficient offensive game of the 10 its played (including exhibitions), scoring 89 points on 75 possessions (1.19 per). The only more efficient game its had was against the aforementioned, 30th-ranked Japan defense. In that Japan game, the U.S. never scored on more than five consecutive possessions. Prior to Monday at the World Cup, its longest stretch of consecutive scores was six straight against the Czech Republic in Game 1. In that ugly win over Greece on Saturday, the U.S. never scored on more than three consecutive possessions, and only twice scored on three straight. But spanning the third and fourth quarters against Brazil on Monday, the U.S. scored 10 straight times. It was a 24-10 run that broke the game open and was fueled by an offense that's gaining more confidence and more cohesion, especially against zone defense, which was a real struggle just six days earlier. "I think we're starting to get more familiar with one another," Joe Harris said. "I think you see it every game where the ball really moves a lot offensively, and then you're sacrificing for one another defensively." Quick decisions critical to success There was some individual excellence in that run, but the final three points came when Myles Turner made a quick flash to the ball and an even quicker pass to Walker for a three from the top of the key against the zone. The U.S. had mostly been winning with a defense that ranks first in the World Cup (84 estimated points allowed per 100 possessions) through pool play. Defense will remain critical, because the offense of their opponent (France) in Wednesday's quarterfinal ranks second (123 estimated points scored per 100), behind only that of the potential opponent in the semifinals (Serbia, 129 per 100). Although this U.S. team doesn't have those elite bucket-getters, it will still need to get buckets -- and it will need to get them via cohesion, quick actions and decisiveness (like Turner displayed on his assist to Walker). Sometimes, you can get by on talent. The U.S. is, once again, the only team in the tournament with 12 NBA players. But this team needs to get more out of its talent than teams of the past. The more games they play, the more the Americans know what they're doing collectively. They've seemingly taken a big step forward over the last week. And in the eyes of Varejao, the U.S. is, for once, one of the teams that "has been playing together for a long time." "Chemistry is built once you hit adversity together and you got to push through it," Jaylen Brown said, "and we've been challenged multiple times on this trip." The toughest challenge to date will come Wednesday against the best opponent the U.S. has faced in the first elimination game its played. But the Americans seem more ready, and more together, than ever. John Schuhmann is a senior stats analyst for NBA.com. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 10th, 2019

Jets Bell eager for contact, wants teammates to hit him

By Dennis Waszak Jr., Associated Press FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — Le'Veon Bell wants his teammates to hit him. Nothing too hard or violent, but just enough for him to feel it. The New York Jets running back isn't playing during the preseason, so he's doing whatever he can to be ready for football when the regular season starts. "Give me a little something," he tells some of the veterans on defense. "Go for the ball, things like that, just so I can get prepared." Bell hasn't played in a game in nearly 20 months, a lengthy layoff as a result of his contract dispute with Pittsburgh. He sat out last season, signed with New York in March and is being held out of preseason games as a precaution. The three-time Pro Bowl pick has been getting plenty of action in practice, though. And he feels ready to go. But just to be sure, he goes up to guys such as nose tackle Steve McLendon, linebacker C.J. Mosley and safety Jamal Adams and asks them to get physical. He knows they might be wary, not wanting to injure him — so he'll try to make them angry by running harder, so they'll give him a pop. "I try to do that intentionally just so I can feel it," Bell said. "And, a lot of times you'll start seeing guys a little frustrated and they'll try to hit me back and that's what I need. They won't take me to the ground, they're not really going for my legs. Hitting me up top, things like that, I need all that." Coach Adam Gase understands how important Bell is to his offense, giving quarterback Sam Darnold a versatile playmaker out of the backfield. And from where Gase is watching, he sees a guy who is ready to play. "It's his body demeanor and the way he's attacking the defense," Gase said. "Those guys know the difference between how a guy is going to (practice). Either we're thudding up and they're wrapping up and then when they see him start getting lower and accelerating toward them, they know, OK, he's looking to do some damage here." The Jets have increased Bell's workload in practices the past couple of weeks, and he has been running well. Still, the running back knows the real test won't come until he touches the ball for the first time against Buffalo on Sept. 8. "Obviously, it's still practice," Bell said. "I know once I get to the game it's going to be a little different. But that's something I'll adjust to. I've been playing football my whole life." Bell has been talking to Gase all summer about the plan for how he'll be used in practice and in preseason games. Gase announced last weekend that Bell will be held out of games until the regular season, a scenario with which the running back says he's "completely fine." "It's going to come," he said. "I don't think four plays of the preseason is going to help me for Week 1 in the game." That doesn't mean Bell isn't itching to get on the field. "I really hate watching Sam play," Bell said with a smile. "I just want to be in there with him because I know how special he is and I want to play with that. "Obviously, I know everybody's eager to watch me play. I'm eager to play." That's evident in the way Bell has prepared for the first two preseason games, dressing in full uniform despite knowing he won't see the field. "Yeah, he's out there in pregame with the pads on and dancing around and he's like, 'Let's go, guys! Come on! Get fired up!'" Darnold said with a big grin. "I'm like, 'Bro, you're not even playing. Once you start playing, you can start doing that stuff.' Nah, he's been great." Bell acknowledged that this year's season opener will be different from any he experienced during his previous stint with the Steelers. He knows all eyes will be on him — including those of his coaches and teammates. "I'm excited that when we get the opportunity and it's go-time for him, I can't wait to see what he does on a Sunday," Gase said. "Watching him in practice, that's fun enough. You can tell the guy is a special player and to see him on Sunday, that's going to be fun." NOTES: LG Kelechi Osemele (pectoral), RG Brian Winters (shoulder) and WR Jeff Smith (hamstring) remain sidelined. ... RT Brandon Shell (knee) returned to team drills after missing a few days. ... LB Blake Cashman (shoulder/leg) was limited after sitting out practice since getting hurt in the preseason opener......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 22nd, 2019

Rookie Survey: Zion Williamson, Ja Morant early favorites to shine in 2019-20

By John Schuhmann, NBA.com Last season was the first time in 34 years (since 1984-85) that the top five picks of the previous Draft went on to be the five players who comprised the All-Rookie First Team. One year later, the teams that had those top five picks should feel pretty good about their decisions. Time will tell about the five teams that had the top five picks in this year's Draft. But it's clear that fellow rookies approve of the guys selected in the top two. In this year's NBA.com Rookie Survey, 62 percent of responders picked the New Orleans Pelicans' Zion Williamson or the Memphis Grizzlies' Ja Morant to win the Kia Rookie of the Year award. Williamson made Rookie Survey history with how many votes he got in the "Most athletic" question, while Morant was a clear favorite for "Best playmaker." The two top picks received the most total votes on the survey, but it was No. 7 pick Coby White (of the Chicago Bulls) and No. 33 pick Carsen Edwards (Boston Celtics) who each received votes on a survey-high five questions. In total, 38 different rookies received votes on at least one of the seven questions about their class, a deep one if these guys got it right. For the 11th time in the last 13 years, NBA.com sat down with the rookie class at the annual Rookie Photo Shoot. In addition to the seven questions about their fellow rookies, this year's group (of 42) answered a few about the current player they most admire and what they're expecting as they make the jump to the NBA. * * * NOTE: Players were asked not to vote for themselves, college teammates or NBA teammates. (Some still did, and those votes were discounted.) * * * Who will be the 2019-20 Kia Rookie of the Year? 1. Zion Williamson, New Orleans -- 35% 2. Ja Morant, Memphis -- 27% 3. R.J. Barrett, New York -- 5%     Cam Reddish, Atlanta -- 5% Others receiving votes: Nickeil Alexander-Walker, New Orleans; Goga Bitadze, Indiana; Brandon Clarke, Memphis; Carsen Edwards, Boston; Darius Garland, Cleveland; Kyle Guy, Sacramento; Rui Hachimura, Washington; Romeo Langford, Boston; Coby White, Chicago; Grant Williams, Boston Last year: DeAndre Ayton and Collin Sexton -- 18% Worth noting: Williamson feels like a strong pick, but in the previous 10 years of the survey, the top vote-getter has gone on to win the Kia Rookie of the Year award just once. That was in 2007 (the first year of the survey), when Kevin Durant received 54 percent of the vote. Williamson is the first player in the last five years to receive at least one third of the vote, and he might have had more if some of his fellow rookies (those that voted for the six guys selected outside the Lottery) had studied their history. Of the 67 Rookie of the Year winners (that weren't territorial picks in the 1950s and early '60s), 61 (or 91 percent) were selected in the top 10 of the Draft, and 52 (or 78 percent) were selected in the top five. Which rookie will have the best career? 1. Cam Reddish, Atlanta -- 19% 2. Ja Morant, Memphis -- 16% 3. De'Andre Hunter, Atlanta -- 11% 4. R.J. Barrett, New York -- 5%     Jaxson Hayes, New Orleans -- 5%     Coby White, Chicago -- 5%     Zion Williamson, New Orleans -- 5% Others receiving votes: Nickeil Alexander-Walker, New Orleans; Jarrett Culver, Minnesota; Carsen Edwards, Boston; Darius Garland, Cleveland; Rui Hachimura, Washington; Keldon Johnson, San Antonio; Mfiondu Kabengele, LA Clippers; Romeo Langford, Boston; Cody Martin, Charlotte; Eric Paschall, Golden State; Tremont Waters, Boston; Dylan Windler, Cleveland Last year: Wendell Carter Jr. -- 13% Worth noting: This is the sixth straight year that a Duke player has earned (or tied for) the most votes on this question, with Reddish joining Jabari Parker (2014), Jahlil Okafor (2015), Brandon Ingram (2016), Jayson Tatum (2017) and Carter. The seven players who received multiple votes were all selected in the top 10, though there were another eight votes for players selected outside the Lottery. Which rookie was the biggest steal at where he was selected in the Draft? 1. Bol Bol (44), Denver -- 19%     Kevin Porter Jr. (30), Cleveland -- 19% 3. Carsen Edwards (33), Boston -- 5%     Nassir Little (25), Portland -- 5%     Isaiah Roby (45), Dallas -- 5%     Coby White (7), Chicago -- 5%     Grant Williams (22), Boston -- 5% Others receiving votes: Nickeil Alexander-Walker (17), New Orleans; Brandon Clarke (21), Memphis; Jaxson Hayes (8), New Orleans; Talen Horton-Tucker (46), L.A. Lakers; Keldon Johnson (29), San Antonio; Mfiondu Kabengele (27), LA Clippers; Romeo Langford (14), Boston; Jordan Poole (28), Golden State; Cam Reddish (10), Atlanta; Luka Samanic (19), San Antonio; Admiral Schofield (42), Washington; Quinndary Weatherspoon (49), San Antonio; Dylan Windler (26), Cleveland Last year: Keita Bates-Diop -- 13% Worth noting: As it often does, this question got the biggest range of answers, including each of the last six picks of the first round. But Bol and Porter, two of the six players from the Pac-12 Conference, clearly stood out among the group. Draymond Green is the only one of the previous 16 players to earn (or tie for) the most votes on this question (which was worded "Which rookie is being most overlooked" through 2014) that has ever been an All-Star, though Donovan Mitchell is certainly a potential All-Star in the years to come. Which rookie is the most athletic? 1. Zion Williamson, New Orleans -- 87% 2. Brandon Clarke, Memphis -- 8% Others receiving votes: Jaxson Hayes, New Orleans; Kevin Porter Jr., Cleveland Last year: Zhaire Smith -- 24% Worth noting: The 87 percent that Williamson earned here is the greatest percentage of the vote that any player has earned on any question in the history of the Rookie Survey, surpassing the 79 percent that Stephen Curry got for "Best Shooter" in 2009. That's good company. Which rookie is the best shooter? 1. Tyler Herro, Miami -- 33% 2. Kyle Guy, Sacramento -- 29% 3. Cameron Johnson, Phoenix -- 13% 4. Ty Jerome, Phoenix -- 8% 5. Jordan Poole, Golden State -- 4% Others receiving votes: Ignas Brazdeikis, New York; Carsen Edwards, Boston; Darius Garland, Cleveland; Zion Williamson, New Orleans; Dylan Windler, Cleveland Last year: Trae Young -- 47% Worth noting: Guy made twice as many 3-pointers (120 at a 43-percent clip) for Virginia last season than Herro did in his one season for Kentucky (60 at 36 percent). Johnson (47 percent) shot better than both of them and the Suns could benefit from having two of the top four players here. Phoenix ranked 29th or 30th in effective field goal percentage from outside the paint in each of the last three seasons. Which rookie is the best defender? 1. Matisse Thybulle, Philadelphia -- 37% 2. De'Andre Hunter, Atlanta -- 29% 3. Brandon Clarke, Memphis -- 8%     Jaxson Hayes, New Orleans -- 8%     Nassir Little, Portland -- 8% Others receiving votes: Bol Bol, Denver; Jarrett Culver, Minnesota; Bruno Fernando, Atlanta; Coby White, Chicago Last year: Jevon Carter -- 29% Worth noting: This is the only question for which Thybulle received any votes, but he received the greatest percentage of the vote on this question since Victor Oladipo (63% in 2013). While Thybulle is joining a team with a handful of guys that have already proven to be impact defenders, Hunter's defense is more critical to the success of the Hawks, who ranked 28th on that end of the floor last season. Which rookie is the best playmaker? 1. Ja Morant, Memphis -- 40% 2. Darius Garland, Cleveland -- 15% 3. Ty Jerome, Phoenix -- 10%     Coby White, Chicago -- 10% 5. Nickeil Alexander-Walker, New Orleans -- 8% 6. Kevin Porter Jr., Cleveland -- 6%     Tremont Waters, Boston -- 6% Others receiving votes: Carsen Edwards, Boston; Kyle Guy, Sacramento Last year: Trae Young -- 35% Worth noting: Morant led the nation in assists by a pretty wide margin. In Memphis, the latest winner on this question is replacing the first; Mike Conley received 45 percent of the vote for best playmaker in the initial, 2007 survey. The Grizzlies would surely love to see Morant stick around as long as Conley did. Winning this category as a Laker -- as Lonzo Ball and D'Angelo Russell both once did -- apparently means that you're going to be traded less than two years after doing so. What will be the biggest adjustment for you, playing in the NBA? 1. Speed or pace of the game -- 40% 2. Physicality (athleticism, size and strength of opponents) -- 21%     Schedule/Length of season -- 21% 4. Lifestyle/Time management -- 12% Also receiving votes: Longer 3-point distance, Playing NBA defense Last year: Speed or pace of the game -- 31% Worth noting: According to the great Ken Pomeroy, the average pace in NCAA Division I was just 69.0 possessions per 40 minutes last season. When adjusted for a 48-minute game (82.8), that would be almost 18 possessions per 48 slower than the average NBA pace (100.7 per 48). So yeah, speed of the game should be an adjustment. What is the most important skill you need to develop? 1. Shooting -- 32% 2. Ball-handling -- 16% 3. Passing -- 9% 4. Strength -- 7% 5. Decision-making -- 5%     Defense -- 5%     Everything -- 5%     Money management -- 5% Also receiving votes: Leadership, Mindset, Patience, Playmaking, Playing off the ball, Post skills, Time management Last year: Ball-handling and shooting -- 19% Worth noting: Self-improvement is both a physical and mental thing. There are five votes in here for the mental aspects of improvement (even more if you consider "passing" and/or "defense" to be more of a mindset than anything else), and a few more for managing things (time and money) off the court. Who is your favorite player in the league? 1. LeBron James, L.A. Lakers -- 38% 2. Kevin Durant, Brooklyn -- 20% 3. Kawhi Leonard, LA Clippers -- 8%     Damian Lillard, Portland -- 8% 5. Devin Booker, Phoenix -- 5%     James Harden, Houston -- 5% Others receiving votes: Jamal Crawford; Kevin Garnett; Paul George, LA Clippers; C.J. McCollum, Portland; Steve Nash; Pascal Siakam, Toronto; Russell Westbrook, Houston Last year: LeBron James -- 29% Worth noting: In the 10-year history of this question, only three players have been the top vote-getter. James, named the top guy for the fourth time, separates himself from Durant (3) and Kobe Bryant (3). Interestingly, Bryant wasn't one of the two retired guys -- Garnett and Nash, this time -- to get votes. John Schuhmann is a senior stats analyst for NBA.com. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 20th, 2019

Rookie Survey: Film study revealing much to this year s class

By John Schuhmann. NBA.com The incoming rookie class may be done with college, but study time is never over. Preparing for the NBA is about more than just the work on the floor and in the weight room. At the annual Rookie Photo Shoot in early August, NBA.com asked several rookies about watching film, whether their coaches [or trainers] want them focusing on certain players or certain aspects of the NBA game. A lot of names came up more than once, but the young guys aren't just watching current stars. In fact, you may be surprised by some of the vets that they're studying. Here's what the rookies had to say ... * * * Zion Williamson | New Orleans Pelicans | No. 1 overall pick "They just want me to be myself and play ... [Watches his own film] to see what kind of mistakes I made, where I could have made a better read." R.J. Barrett | New York Knicks | No. 3 overall pick "I like to watch LeBron [James], James Harden and Michael Jordan, because Michael Jordan is just the greatest, and I love the way that LeBron and James Harden play. They can score and pass." De'Andre Hunter | Atlanta Hawks | No. 4 overall pick "One of my coaches told me to watch Kawhi Leonard and focus on how he beats his defender and how he finishes at the rim ... He's really strong with the ball. He doesn't do a lot of moves to get past his defender. He just does what he needs to do and once he gets to the rim, there's no games either. It's a dunk or a strong finish." Darius Garland | Cleveland Cavaliers | No. 5 overall pick Have the coaches asked?: "Not yet." Who do you like to watch?: "D'Angelo Russell, Kyrie [Irving], [Dame] Lillard ... Just to see how they play pick-and-rolls, their reads ... Coming off the pick-and-roll coming toward the middle, you always have the back-side corner, because they always sink in to help the roller ... Opposite corner's always open, especially if you're going downhill like Russell Westbrook." Jarrett Culver | Minnesota Timberwolves | No. 6 overall pick "They talked about Scottie Pippen, players like that ... He can bring the ball up, he defends well ... Versatile for sure ... I go back and watch the games. I'm a big Jordan fan, so I watch Scottie Pippen all the time." Coby White | Chicago Bulls | No. 7 overall pick "They want me studying a little bit of everybody, a little bit of Dame... The way he moves without the ball whenever C.J. [McCollum] has it ... We watch Chris Paul pick-and-rolls, little things." Cam Reddish | Atlanta Hawks | No. 10 overall pick "Not anybody specific, but they want me watching film, definitely ... Players at my position ... So I watch Kevin Huerter, because he was at my position last year ... Just catching up on the [Hawks'] plays." P.J. Washington | Charlotte Hornets | No. 12 overall pick "I'm looking at guys like Draymond Green. I feel like me and him have similar body types, similar games as well. He's been really successful, so that's one of the guys that the coaches want me to embody ... Both [offense and defense] ... The way he pushes the break, gets everything set up at his position is crazy. He pushes the ball and gets everybody involved." Tyler Herro | Miami Heat | No. 13 overall pick "They want me watching Klay Thompson, J.J. Redick, guys that run off screens ... Just the footwork they have, how they run at one level coming off a screen, how quick they get off their shot, and really just how they move without the ball." Romeo Langford | Boston Celtics | No. 14 overall pick "Paul George and Devin Booker ... How they use their bodies to create contact and create shots." Nickeil Alexander-Walker | New Orleans Pelicans | No. 17 overall pick "We watch a lot of Wes Matthews, mainly for defensive purposes, how he guards ball screens ... The valuable things like guarding the ball Wes does really well ... Being a great teammate, things that you can't really teach he wants us to look at." On guarding screens: "It's positioning, knowing who you're going up against, knowing the scouting report, knowing the plays and when the play might happen, and what's going to happen after a pass is made, after a cut is made, stuff like that." Goga Bitadze | Indiana Pacers | No. 18 overall pick "I watch the bigs like Pau Gasol, Marc Gasol, most of the European bigs and try to get something ... Playmaking, reading situations and making plays." Matisse Thybulle | Philadelphia 76ers | No. 20 overall pick "My trainers will tell me to watch [Andre] Iguodala on defense and Manu Ginobili off the ball on offense." Brandon Clarke | Memphis Grizzlies | No. 21 overall pick [The coaches haven't asked] "as of right now ... I like to watch some old players, just to see the moves that they used, guys like Kevin Garnett, Shawn Marion, Michael Jordan, all of those dudes ... [Watching Garnett] I'm watching his heart, really, how hard he's playing, how much fun he's having, stuff that I would like to mimic." Grant Williams | Boston Celtics | No. 22 overall pick "I love watching guys like Draymond and Kawhi Leonard, how they play on both ends of the court, whether it's Draymond's passing and versatility on the offensive end, and Kawhi playing the mid-range." Ty Jerome | Phoenix Suns | No. 24 overall pick "I asked [about film] and there response was just to be my best self, as far as being focused on really trying to improve my game and master our offense and our principles." "So he sent me clips of Philly [where Suns coach Monty Williams was an assistant last season] ... I'll probably be playing a lot on the ball ... It's about how they move, the different reads off it, and where you can be." Nassir Little | Portland Trail Blazers | No. 25 overall pick "They haven't asked me that yet, but it's probably going to come up soon ... I watch Kawhi Leonard, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, guys like that ... I'm looking at where they get to, where they get their shots off, their different spots." Admiral Schofield | Washington Wizards | No. 42 overall pick "P.J. Tucker, Tony Allen, Shane Battier, Stanley Johnson, Marcus Smart, Kawhi Leonard ... Just how they're able to switch on different guys, be physical, play smart and not foul ... Just their motor on defense, and what they do on the offensive end as well, keeping it simple, especially my first couple of years." John Schuhmann is a senior stats analyst for NBA.com. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 20th, 2019

WATCH: Westbrook to sacrifice for Rockets in Harden reunion

    MANILA, Philippines – For the sake of winning, a little sacrifice would not hurt. Russell Westbrook said he will be able to work things out with James Harden as they seek to lead the Houston Rockets to an NBA championship.  Basketball fans and pundits have been skeptical of the pairing of ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsJul 27th, 2019

Chris Paul pens farewell to Houston

Paul is heading to play for the Oklahoma City Thunder after being included in a trade that reunited former Thunder teammates Russel Westbrook and James Harden in Houston......»»

Category: newsSource:  philstarRelated NewsJul 25th, 2019

PBA: Bolick on Northport s do-or-die vs SMB: Papakamatay kami

For the first time in its franchise history, Northport was one of the top two teams at the end of the elimination round and had a twice-to-beat advantage. Only, when the curtain raised in their quarterfinals matchup opposite San Miguel, the Batang Pier were ran out of the court, 84-98. Even so, super rookie Robert Bolick remains upbeat about their chances. "One game lang yan. We'll come back strong," he told reporters post-game. He then continued, "Part of the game talaga. Ganoon talaga." In the eyes of the third overall pick of the 2019 PBA Draft, Northport's breakthrough in the elims was just the insurance they worked hard for in case of a playoff loss like this. "Yun nga ang tinrabaho namin, twice-to-beat, 'di ba? Ganoon talaga. 'Di namin control yun at ang control lang namin is yung laro namin," he said. He then continued, "Sana, Game 2, step up kami." And Bolick has no doubt that he and his teammates will not waste their second chance. "Confident ako sa team namin. Hindi namin ibibigay nang madali to, for sure. We will fight, we will have a dogfight on Wednesday," he said, full of confidence. He then continued, "We worked hard for the second-seed tapos kukunin na lang nang ganoon? No. Papakamatay kami." Indeed, when their do-or-die game rolls along on Wednesday, he has no doubt Northport will rise to the challenge - no matter what their opponents have in store. Asked about getting special attention from the likes of Chris Ross, he answered, "Okay lang. They're just doing their job. Wala naman akong pakialam sa mga ganoon." He then continued, "Kahit rookie ako, hindi papasok sa akin yun. I just play my game kasi kahit anong tactics, part of the game lang yan." And actually, for the ever-competitive 23-year-old, that special attention will only be much more motivation for him. "Hindi nasisira laro ko sa ganoon. Lalo pa nga akong namo-motivate," he said. After all, his time on the big stage and under the bright lights of the NCAA, giving his all for San Beda University, has done nothing but ready him for these moments. "Parang sa NCAA, sanay na ako sa mga ganoon. Trash talk, siko-siko, part of the game yun e," he shared. He then continued, "They're just doing their job and I'm just doing my job to do my best para sa team ko.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 21st, 2019