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Westbrook s 3-pointer lifts Thunder past Hawks 120-117

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Russell Westbrook hit a 3-pointer with 1.7 seconds left to cap a 30-point, 15-assist outing, and the Oklahoma City Thunder held off the Atlanta Hawks 120-117 on Friday night. Game on the line. Westbrook for the win! He finishes with 30 PTS, 15 AST & 7 REB.@okcthunder beat @ATLHawks 120-117 for third straight win. pic.twitter.com/gR9ZL3Xa79 — NBA (@NBA) December 23, 2017 Carmelo Anthony added 24 points on 7-of-12 3-point shooting and Paul George scored 17 for the Thunder, who have won five of their last six after an 11-14 start. Atlanta, in last place in the Southeast Division, made Oklahoma City work for this one, rallying after falling behind by 16 points in the first half. The Hawks led 92-88 with 8:49 left after a basket by Kent Bazemore. Westbrook re-entered the game and led the Thunder on a 16-5 run. Anthony's 3-pointer with 5:34 left gave Oklahoma City a 104-97 lead. The Hawks came back again, eventually tying the game at 117 on two free throws by Ersan Ilyasova with 11.1 seconds left. After a timeout, George inbounded to Westbrook, who made the final shot over Atlanta's Taurean Prince. Without a timeout, the Hawks could manage only a desperation heave at the buzzer. Marco Belinelli scored 30 points to lead Atlanta, which is 2-7 against Western Conference teams this season. Ilyasova added 22 points for the Hawks, who went 15 of 32 from 3-point range. The Thunder dominated the second quarter. They broke a 28-28 tie with a 14-2 run to start the quarter, with Raymond Felton and George each hitting two 3-pointers. After the Hawks pulled within 51-43, Oklahoma City went on a 13-5 run and led 64-50 at halftime. Atlanta scored 11 straight points to cut the Thunder lead to 74-70 midway through the third quarter. Oklahoma City made only 19 of 31 free throws. TIP-INS Hawks: Atlanta played without G Dennis Schroder, who sat out with a left ankle injury and was replaced in the starting lineup by Belinelli. Schroder had started and played 32 minutes Wednesday vs. Indiana. ... Prince went 1 of 3 from 3-point range and now has at least one 3-pointer in career-best 14 straight games. ... Belinelli extended his streak of consecutive free throws to 28. Thunder: Westbrook was called for an unsportsmanlike technical foul with 3:24 left in the second quarter for shoving Malcolm Delaney after Delaney had fouled him. ... Steven Adams had 16 points and 10 rebounds. ... The Thunder now trail only 66-65 in their all-time series with the Hawks, including the franchise's time in Seattle. ... George and Westbrook entered the game ranked first and second, respectively, in the NBA in steals at 2.45 and 2.10. George had three steals against the Hawks, and Westbrook had two. UP NEXT Hawks: Host Dallas on Saturday before a four-day break. Thunder: At Utah on Saturday before starting a four-game homestand on Christmas Day against Houston......»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnDec 23rd, 2017

Westbrook’s 3-pointer lifts Thunder past Hawks 120-117

OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma City Thunder like their chances with the ball in Russell Westbrook’s hands at the end of a game......»»

Category: sportsSource:  philstarRelated NewsDec 23rd, 2017

NBA Wrap: Millsap’s jumper lifts Hawks past Thunder

OKLAHOMA CITY — Paul Millsap hit the go-ahead 10-footer with 12.7 seconds left as the Atlanta Hawks overcame Russell Westbrook's 46 points to beat the Oklaho.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  philstarRelated NewsDec 20th, 2016

Westbrook lifts Thunder past Sixers in 3 overtimes

results: Houston 124, San Antonio 109; Utah 107, Boston 95; Toronto 120, Brooklyn 87; Denver 117, New Orleans 111 (OT); Memphis 96, Atlanta 94; Chicago 115, Milwaukee 109; Miami 104, Charlotte 98; Detroit 104, Indiana 98; Portland 95, Orlando 88; Oklahoma City 119, Philadelphia 117 (3 OTs) ;Washington 100, LA… Source link link: Westbrook lifts Thunder past Sixers in 3 overtimes.....»»

Category: newsSource:  manilainformerRelated NewsDec 16th, 2017

Westbrook s triple-double leads Thunder past Grizzlies in OT

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) -- Russell Westbrook overcame a poor shooting night, recording a triple-double, including two game-clinching free throws with 5.2 seconds left in overtime to lead the Oklahoma City Thunder past the Memphis Grizzlies 102-101 on Saturday night (Sunday, PHL time). Westbrook, who was 7-of-29 from the field and missed 11 of his 12 three-point attempts, added 14 assists and 11 rebounds. Carmelo Anthony and Steven Adams led the Thunder with 21 points and nine rebounds each, while Alex Abrines, starting for the injured Paul George, added a career-high 20 points, converting five three-pointers, also a career-best. Tyreke Evans led Memphis with 29 points and 13 rebounds, while Marc Gasol finished with 22 points. Ben McLemore contributed 17 points as the Grizzlies lost their third straight and 14 of the last 15. Memphis led by as many as 20 in the first half. The teams were tied at 92 at the end of regulation after Westbrook's three-point attempt at the horn was blocked by Andrew Harrison. Memphis held a 101-98 lead after Evans' three-pointer with 1:03 left in the extra period. The scored stayed there until a drive by Westbrook with 13.8 seconds left. JaMychal Green missed two free throws, setting the stage for Westbrook's winning free throws. Memphis could not get a shot off before the horn sounded because of sound defense by the Thunder. As they did in Friday night's (Saturday, PHL time) loss to Toronto, the Grizzlies started out shooting well, keeping it above 50 percent. And, like the game with the Raptors, Memphis crafted a big lead, reaching 20 points before carrying a 57-46 lead into the break. TIP-INS Thunder: George did not play because of a right calf injury. Abrines started his second game of the season. ... Adams has reached double figures in five straight games. Grizzlies: F Chandler Parsons did not play, resting on the second night of a back-to-back. ... Memphis, which lost to Toronto on Friday night (Saturday, PHL time), wrapped up the second of six back-to-backs this month. ...The 20-point lead in the first half with the largest lead of the season for Memphis. ... Memphis scored nine points in the third quarter, a season-low for any period. UP NEXT Thunder: Face Charlotte at home on Monday (Tuesday, PHL time). Grizzlies: Play their third home game in four days when the Miami Heat visit on Monday (Tuesday, PHL time).....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 10th, 2017

Westbrook’s triple-double leads Thunder past depleted Spurs

OKLAHOMA CITY --- Russell Westbrook had his seventh triple-double of the season to help the Oklahoma City Thunder defeat the short-handed San Antonio Spurs 90-87 on Sunday night. Westbrook had 22 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists for the Thunder, who won their second straight. Steven Adams added 19 points and 10 rebounds for Oklahoma City, which won even though No. 2 scorer Paul George had just eight points on 2-for-17 shooting. Dejounte Murray had 17 points and Derrick White added 16 for San Antonio. With a chance to tie it at the end, Brandon Paul missed a 3-pointer and the Thunder rebounded. Spurs starters LaMarcus Aldridge and Tony Parker sat out. San Antonio coach Gregg Popov...Keep on reading: Westbrook’s triple-double leads Thunder past depleted Spurs.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsDec 4th, 2017

Westbrook’s triple-double leads Thunder past depleted Spurs

By Cliff Brunt, Associated Press OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Russell Westbrook had his seventh triple-double of the season to help the Oklahoma City Thunder defeat the short-handed San Antonio Spurs 90-87 on Sunday night (Monday, PHL time). Westbrook had 22 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists for the Thunder, who won their second straight. Steven Adams added 19 points and 10 rebounds for Oklahoma City, which won even though No. 2 scorer Paul George had just eight points on 2-for-17 shooting. Dejounte Murray had 17 points and Derrick White added 16 for San Antonio. With a chance to tie it at the end, Brandon Paul missed a three-pointer and the Thunder rebounded. Spurs starters LaMarcus Aldridge and Tony Parker sat out. San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said Aldridge rested with a minor knee issue and Parker was “dinged-up.” The Spurs still are waiting for forward Kawhi Leonard’s right quadriceps injury to heal. San Antonio’s Kyle Anderson sprained his left knee with a minute remaining in the third quarter and did not return. Jerami Grant’s three-pointer as time expired in the first half gave the Thunder a 54-43 advantage. Adams had 17 points on 7-for-10 shooting and Oklahoma City led even though George went scoreless and Carmelo Anthony managed just three points. San Antonio rallied in the third quarter and cut Oklahoma City’s lead to 76-73 at the end of the period. Westbrook clinched his triple-double on an assist to George for a three-pointer that gave the Thunder an 87-79 lead. George had made just 1-of-14 shots before connecting with 4:13 remaining. TIP-INS Spurs: Popovich said reserve forward Rudy Gay was “dinged-up,” so he did not play. ... Paul made his first NBA start and was issued a technical foul in the second quarter. Thunder: G Alex Abrines, who is healthy but did not play the previous two games, scored five points in 15:22. ... Westbrook had seven points, six assists and five rebounds in the first quarter. ... Westbrook shot 2-of-6 on free throws. UP NEXT Spurs: Host the Detroit Pistons on Monday (Tuesday, PHL time). Thunder: Host the Utah Jazz on Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 4th, 2017

George, Westbrook lead Thunder past Mavericks, 112-99

By Murray Evans, Associated Press OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Paul George scored 37 points, Russell Westbrook added 27 and the Oklahoma City Thunder overcame the absence of two regular starters to beat the Dallas Mavericks 112-99 on Sunday night (Monday, PHL time). Carmelo Anthony was ruled out about an hour before tipoff because of a sore lower back, and starting center Steven Adams sat out with a right calf contusion. Without Anthony, the Thunder's other two superstars carried the offensive load, fueling a 26-10 run in the third quarter that broke open what had been a tight game. Oklahoma City improved to 6-7, missing its second straight after four consecutive losses. Harrison Barnes had 22 points and 13 rebounds, and Yogi Ferrell had 18 points for the Mavericks. They have dropped nine of their last 10 games to fall to 2-12. Dallas is in a particularly tough portion of its schedule, having lost both ends of a back-to-back against Cleveland and Oklahoma City, and with games against San Antonio and Minnesota looming. Oklahoma City led 44-42 after a subpar offensive first half for both teams. Westbrook and George combined to go 5-of-18 from the field in the half, but combined to score 32 of the Thunder's 39 points in the decisive third quarter. With the game tied 48-48 in the third quarter, Westbrook scored on a drive, and then George blew by Dirk NowitzkI for a dunk that led to a Dallas timeout. That started the Thunder's big run, which included three three-pointers by Westbrook and another by George. Westbrook's final three-pointer during that stretch put Oklahoma City up 74-58 with 3:35 left in the quarter. George's three-pointer with 11:25 left in the game pushed the Thunder's advantage to 88-67. A 9-2 run, capped by Yogi Ferrell's three-pointer, pulled Dallas within 97-84 with 5:56 left but the Mavericks came no closer. TIP-INS Mavericks: Devin Harris missed the game because of bruised ribs he suffered in a loss Saturday to Cleveland. ... The Mavericks went 11-of-37 from three-point range and have had at least nine three-pointers in all 14 of their games. ...Official Sean Corbin issued technical fouls to both Nowitzki (in the second quarter) and coach Rick Carlisle (between the third and fourth quarters). Thunder: On his 29th birthday, Westbrook chose to wear a pair of neon orange Air Jordan shoes during the first half before switching to a pair of black-and-blue Air Jordans for the second half. ... The Thunder made a season-high 15 three-pointers, in 32 attempts. ... Jerami Grant was given his first start of the season in place of Anthony. ... Rookie Dakari Johnson started at center for the second straight game in place of Adams and matched up against NBA legend Nowitzki in the post to begin the game. UP NEXT Mavericks: Host San Antonio on Tuesday night (Wednesday, PHL time) to start a four-game homestand. Thunder: Host Chicago on Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time) to wrap up a three-game homestand......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 13th, 2017

2017-18 NBA season preview roundup

We're just hours away from tipping off the start of the 2017-18 NBA season. That means it's time to get caught up on your favorite team, their player movement, and their storylines entering this new campaign. Check out what you missed below: Opening day rosters Viewing guide for Oct. 18-23, 2017 Top opening day storylines 5 reasons why the Golden State Warriors will repeat 5 reasons why the Golden State Warriors won't repeat +++ Eastern Conference capsule previews “In a watered down East, Celtics-Cavs is the best thing going”   Atlantic Division Offseason moves Boston Celtics 1 Team, 1 Stat preview “Offseason overhaul complete, new era begins for Celtics” Toronto Raptors 1 Team, 1 Stat preview “Raptors hope offensive evolution pays off in playoffs” New York Knicks 1 Team, 1 Stat preview “Anthony, Jackson gone, but Knicks’ losing likely to continue” Philadelphia 76ers 1 Team, 1 Stat preview “76ers put trust in oft-injured Embiid as franchise player” Brooklyn Nets 1 Team, 1 Stat preview “Nets see potential for improvement behind bolstered roster” Central Division Offseason moves Cleveland Cavaliers 1 Team, 1 Stat preview “James returns, Cavaliers debut new 3-MVP starting lineup” Milwaukee Bucks 1 Team, 1 Stat preview “Kidd looks to get young Bucks back up to speed quickly” Indiana Pacers 1 Team, 1 Stat preview “Pacers change directions, making Turner, Oladipo new leaders” Chicago Bulls 1 Team, 1 Stat preview “Bulls go all in on rebuild, gear up for run at high pick” Detroit Pistons 1 Team, 1 Stat preview “Drummond under pressure as Pistons try to rebound” Southeast Division Offseason moves Washington Wizards 1 Team, 1 Stat preview “Not since ’79: Wall, Beal eye 50 wins, East finals for Wiz” Atlanta Hawks 1 Team, 1 Stat preview “Atlanta Hawks begin a long, painful rebuilding process” Miami Heat 1 Team, 1 Stat preview “Heat are deep, and hoping that means they’ll contend in East” Charlotte Hornets 1 Team, 1 Stat preview “Howard-Clifford reunion may determine Hornets’ success” Orlando Magic 1 Team, 1 Stat preview “Magic seek better results, more wins with mostly same roster” Western Conference capsule previews “Surprise! Golden State is the team to beat out West, again” Northwest Division Offseason moves Utah Jazz 1 Team, 1 Stat preview “Jazz hope Hood can pick up scoring slack after Hayward exit" Oklahoma City Thunder 1 Team, 1 Stat preview “Thunder add reinforcements for MVP Westbrook" Portland Trail Blazers 1 Team, 1 Stat preview “Jusuf Nurkic wants Blazers to channel Pistons of days past" Denver Nuggets 1 Team, 1 Stat preview “Leaner Nikola Jokic eager to lead Nuggets back to playoffs" Minnesota Timberwolves 1 Team, 1 Stat preview “Now or never for the Minnesota Timberwolves" Pacific Division Offseason moves Golden State Warriors 1 Team, 1 Stat preview “Kerr pushes Warriors to keep joy, chase repeat championship" LA Clippers 1 Team, 1 Stat preview “With Paul gone, Clippers very much Blake Griffin’s team" Sacramento Kings 1 Team, 1 Stat preview “New-look, youthful Kings try to gain ground in tough West" LA Lakers 1 Team, 1 Stat preview “Ball prepared to shine in spotlight with rebuilding Lakers" Phoenix Suns 1 Team, 1 Stat preview “In their 50th season, Suns patient in developing young team" Southwest Division Offseason moves San Antonio Spurs 1 Team, 1 Stat preview “Aldridge still trying to find his place with Spurs" Houston Rockets 1 Team, 1 Stat preview “Rockets add All-Star Paul as they look to take next step" Memphis Grizzlies 1 Team, 1 Stat preview “New-look Grizzlies leaning heavily on Parsons in new era" New Orleans Pelicans 1 Team, 1 Stat preview “Pelicans’ Davis, Cousins embracing throw-back lineup" Dallas Mavericks 1 Team, 1 Stat preview “Mavs take tempered expectations into Nowitzki’s 20th season".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 17th, 2017

24 NBA questions before 17-18 tips off

By David Aldridge, TNT analyst The season starts on Tuesday night (Wednesday, PHL time). You’ve been waiting patiently all summer with your questions. Fire away.     1. So … what’s the point of playing this season? The Golden State Warriors are still the prohibitive favorites to repeat this season, next season and into the foreseeable future. But it was good to see a good chunk of the Western Conference -- the Houston Rockets, Oklahoma City Thunder and Denver Nuggets, to name three teams -- not fold before the first card is dealt. That fact alone is incredibly important. The Warriors are still the best team in the West, without question. But if teams don’t even try to get better, or spend money to compete, the whole rationale for playing fades away. The Thunder could have rode Russell Westbrook alone to another first-round playoff loss, watched him walk out the door in free agency next summer and thrown up its hands, plead ‘woe is us and all small-market teams,’ and enjoyed a luxury tax-free life for the next few years. The Rockets could have just kept selling tickets to fans to watch James Harden and his pals shoot 50 threes a game for the next two or three years. It’s an appealing brand of basketball. Denver could have just kept building through the Draft, climbing a few more wins here or there for a while, and snuck into the eighth seed, choosing to be comfortable rather than bold. But they didn’t. They’ve called and raised. In all likelihood, it won’t be enough to beat Golden State. But those teams can sleep well at night. They’re not cheating their players, or fans. 2. So, is OKC now a legit threat to the Warriors? The short answer: no. But it’s closer. Carmelo Anthony will be as good a third option as anyone in the league has, though; he will eat regularly on the weak side as defenses scramble to handle Westbrook-Paul George pick and rolls; a quick seal and ‘Melo will be off to the races. If coach Billy Donovan goes small ball with Patrick Patterson at the five, there will be many nights when OKC drops a 130 spot. Yes, the Thunder’s defense is going to be an issue; while Enes Kanter was a sieve off the bench, he was coming off the bench, playing behind Steven Adams. Anthony will be starting and playing big minutes, many at the four. But it won’t matter most nights when the Thunder is up 20 to start the fourth quarter, after 36 minutes of Westbrook sorties, George 3-pointers and transition dunks, and Carmelo post-ups and spot-ups (he shot 44.8 percent last season on catch and shoot shots. Among forwards who played 30 or more minutes last season, per NBA.com/Stats, only Kevin Durant, Otto Porter and Kawhi Leonard shot better). The Thunder can guard you with George, Andre Roberson and Adams and they can outscore you with Westbrook and George and ‘Melo. They have a solid bench (Patterson, Ray Felton, Jerami Grant, Alex Abrines) and Westbrook won’t be physically spent by the end of the 2018 playoffs. Wait; what am I saying? Of course he’ll be spent. But he’ll also be playing way deeper into May. 3. Did not getting Anthony hurt Houston or nah? The Rockets -- okay, Chris Paul -- wanted this done bad. It won’t hurt Houston in the regular season, when Paul and James Harden will dominate. And while Harden didn’t like Kevin McHale’s critique of his leadership, Mac was spot on. That doesn’t make “The Beard” a bad guy or teammate -- people gravitate to their comfortable roles in life, and CP3 is a natural-born leader. Harden will, one thinks, be more comfortable with slightly less light on him. They’ll do fine playing together and off one another. But the shadow of the Rockets’ implosion from deep -- 29 of 88 on three-pointers the last two games against the Spurs in their Western Conference semifinals series -- still hangs over them. Ryan Anderson was negated in the postseason. There’s a reason CP3 pushed for ‘Melo so hard. The Rockets will need unexpected consistent offense from a P.J. Tucker or Luc Mbah a Moute in May if they have any hopes of playing in June. 4. Can we just start the Cleveland-Boston East finals now? Maybe Toronto, with C.J. Miles shooting 40 percent on 3-pointers to complement Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, will break up what seems inevitable. Maybe Washington, with its super-solid starting five intact, now has the mental toughness to bust past the second round, where it’s been beached three of the last four postseasons. But it doesn’t feel like that. Boston, ultimately, should be a lot better this season than last. It will take a while for coach Brad Stevens to figure out the rotation and whether Jaylen Brown can really stick at the two, but ultimately, the Celtics have two dynamic playmakers/scorers in Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, and with Al Horford providing the glue at both ends, they’re going to be a load by the end of the season. And while Cleveland will have to wait a while for Isaiah Thomas, the Cavs have more than enough firepower until Thomas can make his debut. Whatever Dwyane Wade has left will be accentuated playing with James, and Kevin Love (holy moly, is he underrated) will feast drawing slower, bigger centers out to him on the perimeter. J.R. Smith doesn’t like losing his starting job to Wade, and he should be ticked. But he nonetheless will help Cleveland’s bench, which will be incredibly difficult in its own right with Tristan Thompson and Kyle Korver complementing Smith. And that’s before Thomas returns, which will put Derrick Rose on that second unit. There won’t be any rest for defenses who’ll then have to contend with a rested James, et al, coming back. It says here that not only will the Cavs not miss Irving offensively, they could be even more diverse and difficult to guard this season. Not to mention that James is supremely motivated to make an eighth straight Finals. 5. Could Curry break his record of 402 3-pointers in a season? At first glance, with Durant and Klay and Draymond (and, now, Nick Young) all needing to get fed as well, it would seem impossible for Curry to best the mark he set two years ago, on the 73-9 regular season team. But consider: coach Steve Kerr thinks a new guy always blossoms in his second year with the Warriors, which means Durant should be even more lethal offensively this year, as the Warriors’ offense reaches an even higher level of efficiency. And the way they move the ball, it’s not a stretch to think that with defenses tripping over themselves to get to Durant, Curry could get into one of those ridiculous grooves that could leave him within striking distance of 402 by the end of the season. 6. Could the last one in the Eastern Conference turn out the lights? The New York Knicks were hardly a power in the East before trading Anthony, but his departure creates one more team that will struggle to win 35 games this season. With the paucity of talent there should be at least four 50-win teams in the East -- Cleveland, Boston, Toronto and Washington -- with the Milwaukee Bucks knocking on the door. 7. Who’s going to regret their offseason? The Bucks were fine off the court -- their new arena is already more than halfway constructed and looks like it’s going to be a gem -- although the surrounding mall that is supposed to be part of the complex is not going up as quickly. But the Bucks didn’t address their bigs-heavy roster and move some of the surplus -- how can coach Jason Kidd keep all of Greg Monroe, Jabari Parker and John Henson happy with Thon Maker scarfing up more and more frontcourt minutes? -- for the shooting Milwaukee still needs. The East is so open, and Milwaukee is so close to breaking through into elite status with Giannis Antetokounmpo an elite performer. 8. Rudy Gay -- sneaky good pickup? Gay says he’s cool starting or coming off the bench for the Spurs, but he’d best as San Antonio’s sixth man, at least to start things. Bringing Pau Gasol off the bench didn’t work so well, so if he’s starting at center, coach Gregg Popovich can’t go small ball with “Cousin” LaMarcus Aldridge at the five and Gay at the four alongside Kawhi Leonard. (Current state of Spurs fans’ cuticles here and here as they consider a season with an extended Klaw absence if this quad injury doesn’t improve soon.) The Spurs could have some serious firepower in reserve if Gay and Patty Mills come off the bench, but Mills or Dejounte Murray will likely have to start at the point until Tony Parker comes back. 9. Speaking of Popovich … Should he and Steve Kerr and Stan Van Gundy stick to sports? No. 10. Who’s gonna be Kia Rookie of the Year? I say Markelle Fultz. What, you thought I was gonna pick against a DeMatha Catholic man? (Actual unretouched photo of me as a sophomore at the most successful high school in the history of the United States may or may not be here). Playing off of Joel Embiid, J.J. Redick, Robert Covington … it’s hard to see Fultz not looking really good when he should have all kinds of room to operate. Lonzo Ball will put up bigger numbers, and Tatum will be on a better team. But Boston was good last year, and Jayson Tatum will likely not play as much as the others. The Sixers are poised for a big jump up in the standings, and that’s always a narrative that voters like and get behind -- which is what will hurt Dennis Smith Jr.'s chances in Dallas. 11. What does Dwyane Wade really have left? Now that the inevitable buyout of Wade’s $24 million deal by the Bulls has led to the equally inevitable trek to Cleveland to play with James, can the 35-year-old Wade still be a significant contributor on a title contender? Given the general dysfunction in Chicago last season, you can dismiss most of the good and bad numbers Wade put up, with two exceptions: he still averaged almost five free throw attempts per game, and he shot 31 percent on 3-pointers -- not great, but more than double his anemic 15.9 percent behind the arc in 2015-16, his last with the Miami Heat. Wade obviously knows the cheat code for how to most effectively play off of James, so he’ll use the regular season to learn his teammates and be ready for the playoffs. But can Wade hold up over seven games defensively if he has to chase, say, Bradley Beal around, or try to deny DeRozan his preferred mid-range spots, and still be productive offensively? 12. Back to the Sixers -- how good will they be? My guess is they’ll pretty good in the 60 or so games I anticipate Embiid will play this season -- I’m assuming several designated off days for him during the season, not another injury. The mix of young talent (Fultz, Embiid, Ben Simmons, Dario Saric, Covington) and crafty vets (Redick, Amir Johnson) should mesh to make the 76ers a very tough team to defend. But Philly has to resolve the Jahlil Okafor situation, and in fairness to him, give him a fresh start somewhere else with a trade as soon as possible. If I were a good team that would be hard-pressed to add a free agent any time soon and feels a player short of true contention -- I’m looking at you, Memphis Grizzlies and Wizards -- I’d work hard to get the new, slimmed-down Okafor on my squad while he’s still on his rookie contract and make him the focal point of a kick-ass second unit. 13. Should we feel some kind of way about the Trail Blazers? I’m picking up what you’re putting down. A full season of the “Bosnian Beast” in the middle, it says here, will vault Portland into the top four in the West. Note I said “full season.” That means Jusuf Nurkic has to give coach Terry Stotts between 65-70 starts for the above premonition to be, as they say in the legal world, actionable. If so, Nurkic’s underrated scoring and passing out of the post will only make Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum that much more deadly out front, along with improving Portland’s defense. Per Basketball-Reference.com, the Blazers were 11.6 points per game better than the opposition with those three on the floor together and a +5 when their regular five-man lineup with Maurice Harkless and Al-Farouq Aminu joined the guards and Nurkic. And that’s pronounced, “Noor-kitch,” accent on Noor. 13. A little movie break ... Kevin Costner’s accent in “Robin Hood” -- worst ever, right? Yes, but Natalie Wood’s in “West Side Story” was painful, too. 14. Many have written the post-CP3 Clippers off. Should they? The Clippers are my darkhorse this season -- if they do the right thing and go small more often. They’re doing it more in practice so far than in games because Danilo Gallinari is working through a foot injury, but Blake Griffin at the five and Gallinari at the four could be spicy during the regular season. That would mean Sam Dekker and/or Wes Johnson would have to become credible and dependable at the three, allowing coach Doc Rivers to play a Pat Beverly-Milos Teodosic backcourt more often, which will just be fun. This would, of course, mean less DeAndre Jordan, and … that may not be the worst thing. Nothing against DJ, who is the best defensive big in the league, bar none. Unfortunately, the NBA isn’t about defense any more -- at least not in the traditional sense. Even someone like Jordan who doesn’t just block shots, but also helps snuff out opposing pick and rolls, becomes less valued by the league’s advanced stats crowd if he doesn’t contribute more offensively. The three has gone a long way to tyrannizing the defense-dominant big man out of the game. (Zach Lowe recommends the Wizards try to get Jordan via trade, and it’s not the first time I’ve heard that name mentioned in connection with Washington, the idea being the only chance the Wizards have of beating Cleveland or Boston is to slow them down enough defensively that Wall-Beal-Porter can try and keep up offensively. Washington is definitely a load when Wall gets locked in on D and creates turnovers, and the idea of Jordan inhaling lobs from Wall is enticing to think about. But the Wizards are not -- not -- going to take on a fourth big contract, and Jordan’s surely going to opt out after this season; he’s rightly expecting a massive payday in 2018, and the Clippers certainly now have motive and means to retain him.) Anyway, some Lou Williams, Austin Rivers and/or Teodosic and Willie Reed off the bench isn’t bad, either. 15. Could Kyle Kuzma be the best rookie on the Lakers this season? Don’t @me, LaVar. Kuzma has followed up a very strong Vegas Summer League with high notes in preseason, averaging better than 19 points per game for the Lakers. He’s been dazzling at times, displaying in-between skills that intrigue, and showing why so many teams were trying to trade back into the first round to get the Utah forward before L.A. snagged him with its second and much less heralded first-round pick last June. And there will be minutes available at the four this season. So far, Kuzma has displayed unusual strength for a rookie and confidence in his ability to score. Of course, he’s inexperienced, and like all rookies, has to differentiate between an open shot and a good shot. The other, more famous first-rounder, Lonzo Ball, will almost certainly be the better all-around player in time. For this year, though … hmmm. 16. What does a Hawks fan have to look forward to this season? Honestly, not much. But they’ll always be well-coached and get better. I’d pick one of the young players, like rookie John Collins or second-year small forward Taurean Prince, and concentrate on them during the season. See what they do with their minutes on the floor, and watch how they gradually expand their games at both ends. Seeing a young guy get better as he gains experience and accepts coaching is one of the great joys of watching the NBA every night. 17. Orlando? What gives there? The team’s new braintrust of Jeff Weltman and John Hammond will need some time to fix the roster -- a mélange of athletic wings that have trouble defending and guards that have trouble shooting. The former is addressed somewhat with the signing of Jonathon Simmons from San Antonio, but I don’t see a solution to the latter with any of the existing backcourt contributors. Unless coach Frank Vogel figures out some way to get more turnovers/runouts from his group, they just can’t get in transition enough for their length and legs to make a difference. 18. New Orleans? What gives there? The short answer is, I have no idea. All of NBA Earth has DeMarcus Cousins out of there one way or another (he’s an unrestricted free agent in ’18 and wants to be on a contender/the Pelicans will never pay him what he wants and will have to trade him by the deadline/no way he and Anthony Davis fit together/Wall agitates for a reunion with his former Kentucky big man in D.C./your departure theory here) by this time next year, but we’ll see what coach Alvin Gentry has come up with for “Boogie” and “the Brow” after a summer to think it over. Rajon Rondo being out hurts their depth, but I have to be honest -- I don’t see how he and Jrue Holiday can possibly work together in a backcourt, and Holiday’s the guy the Pelicans just gave $125 million to, so he should probably have the ball in his hands every night, shouldn’t he? I like Ian Clark and Frank Jackson down there, but that untethered three spot burns a hole in the New Orleans sun. Well, at any rate, should be more fun than watching reruns of My Life on the D-List. 19. Favorite D-List Muppet? Beaker. 20. LeBron is leaving Cleveland again after this season, isn’t he? Everything points to yes, and a relocation to Los Angeles to play with the Lakers or Clippers next year – except … what if the Cavs win it all again this year? That’s not an impossible scenario -- in fact, it’s a pretty simple one to lay out: Cavs run roughshod through the Eastern Conference in the playoffs again, get through a good but hardly great Boston team in the conference Finals and set up a fourth straight encounter with Golden State. It’s easy now to say the Warriors dominated the Cavs in last season’s Finals -- but only if you ignore the fact that Cleveland led by six with just more than three minutes remaining in Game 3, only to see the Warriors score the game’s last 11 points to take a 3-0 lead instead of 2-1. And given that Cleveland vaporized the Warriors in Game 4, a 2-2 series would have meant the Cavs just needed to win once in Oracle -- which they’d done twice in the 2016 Finals -- to have a real shot at repeating. The point is, the difference between the teams isn’t as big as Draymond Green would have you believe; the Cavs have no fear of the Warriors, and Jae Crowder gives coach Tyronn Lue a viable on-ball defender for Kevin Durant, leaving LeBron free to play off of Green. And: that unprotected Nets pick, whether one or three or five or seven, is Cleveland’s best recruiting tool. LeBron knows everyone in college basketball and he can literally pick whoever he’d like to finish his career with in Cleveland before handing over the reins. I’m not saying he’s definitely staying, either -- only that his departure isn’t the lead pipe cinch some would have you believe. The season to come will have a lot to do with his next decision. 21. So, how will the playoffs go this season? Eastern Conference (seeds No. 1-8): Cleveland, Boston, Washington, Toronto, Milwaukee, Miami, Detroit, Philadelphia Western Conference (seeds No. 1-8): Golden State, Houston, Oklahoma City, Portland, San Antonio, Memphis, Utah, Minnesota Eastern Conference semifinalists: Cleveland, Boston, Washington, Milwaukee Western Conference semifinalists: Golden State, Houston, OKC, San Antonio Eastern Conference finals: Cleveland over Boston Western Conference finals: Golden State over OKC (you heard me) NBA Finals: Golden State over Cleveland (in seven games) 22. Tell me something crazy that’s going to happen this season that no one’s predicting! Giannis Antetokounmpo. NBA MVP, 2017-18. 23. Are you high? No, ma’am. 24. So, why 24 questions? As always, we start the season with 24 questions (or predictions, or issues, whatever) in honor of Danny Biasone, the late owner of the Syracuse Nationals, whose discovery in 1954 helped save the league. At that time, the NBA was in the midst of a literal slowdown, in large part by teams that were desperate to figure out some kind of way to stay competitive with George Mikan, the league’s first superstar big man, and his team, the Minneapolis Lakers. Teams would hold the ball for minutes at a time without shooting in an effort to shorten the game and give them a chance to beat Minneapolis late. But the end result was boring -- very boring -- basketball. At the owners’ meetings that year, Biasone came up with an idea. NBA games were 48 minutes long. Biasone figured out that in a normal game, one not waylaid by the slowdown tactics, about 120 shots -- 60 per team -- were taken. So, why not just divide the number of minutes in every game -- 2,880 -- by the number of shots in an average game -- 120 -- to come up with some kind of a time limit in which a team had to shoot. And thus, the 24-second shot clock (2,800/120) was born. With the implementation of the shot clock in the 1954-55 season, scoring went way up, as did the quality of play. Teams were now running up and down the floor in order to try and beat the shot clock, complementing the “fast break” game that many colleges had played for years. But the new style in the pros was immensely popular with fans. And it still is. Plus, there’s just something iconic about that clock counting down every 24 seconds. It’s unique to the NBA. Thus, we ask 24 questions, in honor of the guy who owned a bowling alley as well as the Nationals for much of his adult life, and probably enjoyed the bowling more. Longtime NBA reporter, columnist and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer David Aldridge is an analyst for TNT. 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 NewsOct 17th, 2017

Westbrook, Anthony help Thunder rally past Kings

OKLAHOMA CITY --- The third quarter has often been a problem for the Oklahoma City Thunder this season, but that's when they made their move Monday night against the Sacramento Kings. Russell Westbrook had 19 points, 16 rebounds and nine assists before being ejected, and Oklahoma City rallied from a 15-point first-half deficit to beat Sacramento 95-88. Carmelo Anthony added 20 points, Paul George scored 18 and Steven Adams had 13 points and 13 rebounds for the Thunder, who avoided what would have been a fourth straight home loss thanks in large part to a dominant third quarter in which they outscored the Kings 31-16. "We were definitely more focused," George said. "We've bee...Keep on reading: Westbrook, Anthony help Thunder rally past Kings.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJan 16th, 2018

Thunder surge past Clippers late, 127-117

(This recap will be updated) The Oklahoma City Thunder sprinted past the LA Clippers in the second half, winning 127-117, Friday (PHL time) at the Staples Center. The Thunder won back-to-back games against both LA teams, after coming off back-to-back losses, while the Clippers saw a four-game win streak end. A 6-0 run had the Clippers up late in the third, 97-94, but the Thunder scored 12 unanswered to bridge the last two quarters, good for a 106-97 advantage with 8:35 left to play. A barrage of triples by Lou Williams and Blake Griffin kept the Clippers within striking distance, and Griffin found Williams for a long-range connection to keep LA within eight, 119-111, at the 4:11 mark of the fourth. In response, the Thunder got three-pointers of their own from Carmelo Anthony and Paul George, sandwiching two Williams free throws, 125-113. Lou Will would connect once more from the field, only to be answered this time by Russell Westbrook, sealing the Thunder victory. Paul George top-scored for the visiting side with 31 points on an efficient 12-of-16 shooting clip. Russell Westbrook logged a triple-double of 29 points, 12 boards, and 11 assists, while Carmelo Anthony scattered 22 markers, hitting 9-of-12 shots. The Thunder big three combined to hit 10-of-16 three-pointers. Steven Adams added 12 points and nine boards. DeAndre Jordan and Lou Williams led the Clippers in scoring with 26 points each. Jordan also contributed 17 boards, while Williams dished out a team-best 10 dimes. Blake Griffin tallied 24 points, nine rebounds, and seven assists......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 5th, 2018

Antetokounmpo’s late basket lifts Bucks past Thunder 97-95

OKLAHOMA CITY — Even though he stepped out of bounds on the play, Giannis Antetokounmpo’s basket with 1.3 seconds left counted, and that’s all that mattered.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  philstarRelated NewsDec 30th, 2017

Paul George questions controversial end to Thunder vs Bucks

NBA.com staff report Giannis Antetokounmpo arguably possesses the longest reach and stride in the NBA. Oklahoma City's Paul George thought the latter should have twice disqualified his game-winning basket on Friday night (Saturday, PHL time). Milwaukee's young star forward drove baseline in the final seconds, squeezed past Thunder swingman Josh Huestis and dunked over Russell Westbrook with 0.9 seconds remaining to put the Bucks up 97-95. Later on Twitter, George rose a social media eyebrow over two potential non-calls, wondering aloud if Antetokounmpo had stepped out of bounds or traveled en route to the points that proved the difference. Wow?! No travel OR out of bounds huh? 🤔 — Paul George (@Yg_Trece) December 30, 2017 Westbrook was less direct, telling reporters "it's over now, so it don't matter." Westbrook on if Giannis was out of bounds: “I couldn’t see that...You’ve seen it. So it’s over now. It don’t matter.” pic.twitter.com/MrbLcBP5bV — Fred Katz (@FredKatz) December 30, 2017 In the pool reporter interview after the game, NBA Crew Chief Derrick Stafford explained why Antetokounmpo's drive was not reviewable despite the possible non-calls. "In any reviewable matter, there has to be a whistle called on the floor," Stafford said. "There was no whistle blown for the play, so we couldn't review it." The following is a transcript of the pool reporter interview following the Bucks/Thunder game with NBA Crew Chief Derrick Stafford by Brett Dawson of The Oklahoman: pic.twitter.com/9mVzRouqz0 — NBA Official (@NBAOfficial) December 30, 2017 This would be the third high-profile questioning of late-game officiating in the past week. LeBron James complained of two late-game fouls by Kevin Durant that went uncalled in Cleveland's Christmas day (Dec. 26, PHL time) loss to the defending champion Warriors. James Harden was displeased with consecutive offensive fouls that helped Boston cap off a 26-point comeback victory over the Rockets on Thursday (Friday, PHL time)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 30th, 2017

Westbrook scores 31, OKC keeps rolling with win over Rockets

By Cliff Brunt, Associated Press OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Russell Westbrook had 31 points and 11 assists to help the Oklahoma City Thunder stay hot with a 112-107 win over the Houston Rockets on Monday night (Tuesday, PHL time). Paul George scored 24 points and Carmelo Anthony added 20 for the Thunder, who won their fifth straight game. Oklahoma City shot 54.4 percent from the field. James Harden led the Rockets with 29 points, but he made just 7-of-18 field goals. The league’s leading scorer was coming off back-to-back 51-point games. Trevor Ariza and Eric Gordon each scored 20 points and Clint Capela added 19 points and 10 rebounds for Houston, which lost its third straight. Houston point guard Chris Paul sat out with a groin strain. The Rockets are 15-1 when he plays and 10-6 when he doesn’t. Westbrook shot 4-for-14 in the first half but made his last two before the break to help the Thunder lead 58-57 at halftime. Harden had 11 points in the first half but made just 1-of-8 shots. Westbrook broke away for a fast-break dunk to give the Thunder a 65-59 lead early in the third quarter. The Rockets rallied, and the score was tied at 88 heading into the fourth. Houston had the ball down by three points in the final minute. Harden missed a wild three-pointer while trying but failing to draw a foul, and the Thunder got control in a scramble. Westbrook found Andre Roberson for a layup with 21 seconds left to put the Thunder up 112-107. TIP-INS Rockets: Capela returned to the starting lineup. He had missed the previous two games with a left heel contusion. ... Houston committed just one turnover in the first quarter and 14 overall. Thunder: Roberson left in the first quarter but returned later in the period with fingers taped together on his left hand. ... C Steven Adams had 12 points and six rebounds in the first quarter and finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds ... George and Anthony had three fouls in the first half. George finished with five and Anthony with four. UP NEXT Rockets: At Boston on Thursday night (Friday, PHL time). Thunder: Host Toronto on Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 26th, 2017

Westbrook powers Thunder past Jazz

OKLAHOMA CITY — Russell Westbrook got the Oklahoma City Thunder on track, then his teammates put the Utah Jazz away in the third quarter......»»

Category: sportsSource:  philstarRelated NewsDec 21st, 2017

Westbrook scores 24, leads Thunder to 107-79 win over Jazz

By Cliff Brunt, Associated Press OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Russell Westbrook had 24 points and 10 rebounds to help the Oklahoma City Thunder roll past the Utah Jazz 107-79 on Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time). Westbrook made 10-of-13 shots and had seven assists and four steals. Oklahoma City has won 8-of-11 after a rough start to the season. The Thunder (16-15) are above .500 for the first time since early November. Paul George scored 10 of his 18 points in the third quarter and Carmelo Anthony also scored 18 for Oklahoma City. Rodney Hood scored 17 points for the Jazz, who have lost 6-of-7. Breakout rookie Donovan Mitchell sat out with a right big toe contusion. Through 31 games, he led the Jazz with 17.7 points per game. The Jazz already were without center Rudy Gobert, who missed his third straight game with a left knee ligament strain/bone bruise. Westbrook scored 20 points in the first half to help the Thunder take a 53-37 lead at the break. Oklahoma City shot 54 percent in the first half, despite George and Anthony combining to make just 4-of-14 shots. The Thunder, who have struggled in the third quarter this season, took charge this time. George exploded to the rim, then fully extended his arm back before dunking over Derrick Favors to give the Thunder a 62-44 lead. The Thunder continued to pour it on and led 87-60 at the end of the third quarter. TIP-INS Jazz: Starters made two field goals in the first quarter. ... Former Thunder G Thabo Sefolosha scored 12 points in 25 minutes as a reserve. He got a loud ovation when he entered the game. Thunder: Led 25-9 at the end of the first quarter and held the Jazz to 4-for-18 shooting. ... Westbrook had four steals in the first half. ... C Steven Adams returned from concussion protocol and had 11 points and nine rebounds. ... Westbrook scored a season-high 38 points in his previous game, a win over the Denver Nuggets. UP NEXT Jazz: Play at San Antonio on Thursday night (Friday, PHL time). Thunder: Host Atlanta on Friday night (Saturday, PHL time)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 21st, 2017

Old School Power Rankings 2017-18: Weeks 7 and 8

By Scott Wraight, NBA.com Less negativity, a wiser perspective, fewer headaches and inclusion in the OSPR club. Those are just a few benefits of getting older. On Dec. 8, the club added an eight-time All-Star who has been putting up stellar numbers in the Queen City -- arguably his best stats since the 2013-14 season. Meanwhile, the King maintains a firm grip over his kingdom while a hoodie in OKC continues a free fall. Notes: - Season statistics are through games of Nov. 2 (Nov. 3, PHL time) - Any player who turns 32 during the regular season can be added to the rankings. 1. LeBron James (32), Cleveland Cavaliers Previous rank: 1 Last weeks' stats: 7 games, 28.3 ppg, 8.9 rpg, 11.0 apg Season stats: 28.1 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 9.1 apg Another two-week stint, another three games with 30 or more points. Wait. We said that last time. Well, it rings true yet again. In fact, James' lowest scoring output was 23 points. He also ripped off three straight games of 12 or more assists, including tying a career high with 17 in Tuesday's (Wednesday, PHL time) victory over the Hawks. There's no slowing the King. 2. LaMarcus Aldridge (32), San Antonio Spurs Previous rank: 2 Last weeks' stats: 6 games, 21.2 ppg, 8.7 rpg, 1.7 apg Season stats: 22.7 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 2.1 apg Aldridge has gone for 20 or more points in three consecutive games and six of his last eight. In fact, his 22.7 points this season is his highest mark since 2014-15 when he averaged 23.4 with the Trail Blazers. It will be interesting to see the effect Kawhi Leonard's return will have on Aldridge's offensive stats. 3. Marc Gasol (32), Memphis Grizzlies Previous rank: 3 Last weeks' stats: 8 games, 19.6 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 3.5 apg Season stats: 18.9 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 4.0 apg It was a consistent and yet unspectacular (for the most part) two-week stint for Gasol, who went for 15 or more points in all eight games but only broke 25 in one game (27 last Saturday against the Cavaliers). We've also taken notice of the slip in shooting, eclipsing 50 percent from the field in just one of his last 14 games. 4. Chris Paul (32), Houston Rockets Previous rank: 6 Last weeks' stats: 5 games, 23.2 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 8.6 apg Season stats: 16.2 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 9.6 apg Paul has found his groove, shooting 51.9 from the field, 44.1 from beyond the arc, 2.4 steals and 20 or more points in three straight. He's also managed to go over 10 assists in five of the last nine -- a big reason the Rockets have won a season-high 11 straight. On top of that, Paul is hitting three-pointers at a career-best 41.8.   5. Dwight Howard (32), Charlotte Hornets Previous rank: NA Last weeks' stats: 4 games, 23.8 ppg, 14.3 rpg, 1.0 apg Season stats: 16.4 ppg, 12.4 rpg, 1.2 apg Welcome to the club, big fella. Since Howard turned 32 on Dec. 8, he only has four games under his belt. But those four were certainly good enough for inclusion, going for 20 or more points and at least two blocks in all four. Also, in two of those games, Howard grabbed 18 or more rebounds while shooting better than 60 percent. 6. Zach Randolph (36), Sacramento Kings Previous rank: 8 Last weeks' stats: 7 games, 21.6 ppg, 10.0 rpg, 2.9 apg Season stats: 15.2 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 2.2 apg It was a blast from the past last Friday (last Saturday, PHL time), as Randolph turned in one of his typical Z-Bo type games from years ago (35 points and 13 rebounds). Randolph, who has shot better than 50 percent in seven of the last eight games, is shooting 51.2 -- his highest mark since '02-03 (51.3). And with 21 3s, he's on pace to shatter his career high of 25. 7. J.J. Redick (33), Philadelphia 76ers Previous rank: 10 Last weeks' stats: 6 games, 21.8 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 3.2 apg Season stats: 17.0 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 3.5 apg Redick, who will most likely be a bit of a roller-coaster ride all season, is in the midst of his best scoring spree, notching at least 15 points in seven straight while going for 25 or more in three of those games. He's also hit three or more three-pointers in three straight and five of the last seven. This is probably as close as he'll be to being locked in. 8. Taj Gibson (32), Minnesota Timberwolves Previous rank: 5 Last weeks' stats: 7 games, 12.0 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 1.4 apg Season stats: 11.1 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 1.5 apg Uh oh. Did we jinx Gibson by touting him so much? After stringing together three straight double-doubles, he's managed just two in the last seven games. As has been the case all season, Gibson plays better win the Timberwolves win. In four wins, he averaged 13.5 points, 9.5 rebounds and 58.8 FG%. In three losses, Gibson averaged 10 points, seven rebounds and 38.5 FG%.   9. Carmelo Anthony (33), Oklahoma City Thunder Previous rank: 4 Last weeks' stats: 7 games, 12.4 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 1.4 apg Season stats: 17.7 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 1.5 apg It's like the popular Paul Simon song goes: "Slip Slidin' Away." That's what's happening with Anthony, who can't seem to snap out of his season-long slump, shooting 34.3 FG%, 24.1 3PT% and 55.6 FT% over the last two weeks. Yes, he did score 21 last Saturday against Memphis, but it took him 20 shots (7-for-20) to get there.   10. Courtney Lee (32), New York Knicks Previous rank: 7 Last weeks' stats: 7 games, 15.1 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 2.1 apg Season stats: 13.2 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 2.8 apg Three good, three bad and one mediocre. That's how we summarize Lee's last seven games. In fact, if not for Thursday's 27-point performance, Lee may have been bumped off the list. After securing nine straight games of 50 percent or better from the field, Lee has bettered that threshold just once in the last four games. Just missed the cut: J.J. Barea, Marcin Gortat, Dirk Nowitzki, Dwyane Wade Will turn 32 this season: Gerald Green (Jan. 26), Rajon Rondo (Feb. 22), Corey Brewer (March 5), Kyle Lowry (March 25), Marco Belinelli (March 25). The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 16th, 2017

Oladipo, Sabonis helping Pacers move forward

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com INDIANAPOLIS – Victor Oladipo has a fever and the only prescription is ... no, not more cowbell. Cowbell might make sense, if you factor in Oladipo’s love of and commitment to music (his debut R&B album has been available since Oct. 6). But the fever currently afflicting Oladipo, shooting guard for the Indiana Pacers, has nothing to do with extracurriculars and everything to do with the odes and anthems he’s been performing within the confines of 94 feet by 50 feet. If the fifth-year guard out of Indiana University, by way of the Orlando Magic and Oklahoma City Thunder, looks comfortable in his new star turn for the Pacers, well, just remember that’s your word. Not his. “You could say I’m comfortable with the people here,” says Oladipo, who spent three seasons with the Hoosiers before becoming the No. 2 pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. “I played in front of these fans, they mean a lot to me and I gave a lot to them just like they gave a lot to me while I was in college. “But I’m never comfortable in any situation I’m in. I will never be comfortable. That’s what kind of makes me get up and work every day. It’s like, never be satisfied. Because for some reason, ever since I was a little kid, I always wanted more.” Oladipo’s eyes just about glow after a weekend practice as he delves into his unflagging intensity. He doesn’t undercut it with a smile or a token laugh. This is real heat. “Maximize my talent and exhaust my potential,” he says. “In order to do that, I’ve got to come to work every day. That’s my thought process. Wake up each day and be great that day.” Each day would include tonight, when Oladipo will share center stage at Bankers Life Fieldhouse with the more decorated and once-beloved star who preceded him in the Pacers lineup. Paul George, a four-time All-Star and Olympic gold medalist during his seven seasons in Indiana, was due to face his old team for the first time since being traded to Oklahoma City in July. It was a parting necessitated by George, who had made clear his desire to sign a maximum-salary contract with the Los Angeles Lakers in the summer of 2018. But the trade was orchestrated by Kevin Pritchard, the Pacers’ president of basketball operations, and Chad Buchanan, their general manager, who surprised the NBA by swapping George to OKC for Oladipo and big man Domantas Sabonis. You want intense? The initial reaction to that deal was intensely negative, quickly reaching hysterical proportions. The Pacers immediately were mocked for having traded George for nickels on the dollar. Reports out of Boston characterized Indiana’s POBO as more of a bobo for allegedly spurning a Celtics’ offer of multiple players and draft picks. *Takes a well deserved nap for 3 hours ** Opens Twitter: pic.twitter.com/xWNYaVfKTy — Myl3s Turn3r (@Original_Turner) July 1, 2017 The west is sick!!!! Best conference in the world!!!! — Patrick Beverley (@patbev21) July 1, 2017 Vic to the Pacers?! He might as well run for governor while he's at it! — Cody Zeller (@CodyZeller) July 1, 2017 Former Thunder star Kevin Durant called the move “shocking” and of George said “Indiana just gave him away.” Among much of the media that covers the league, there was a general feeling of “rubes” afoot -- that the Pacers had been snookered in taking back an overpaid ($21 million annually through 2020-21) second-tier talent and an overbilled guy who had disappeared in OKC’s postseason. And now? Not so much on any of those fronts. ‘He knows how good he is’ George’s stats are down in the “OK3” core he’s formed with reigning Kia MVP Russell Westbrook and aging Carmelo Anthony. The Thunder (12-13) are the NBA’s consensus disappointment, team category, with nearly a third of their season in the books. Sabonis has boosted the Pacers off the bench in a half dozen ways. And Oladipo has all but earned himself a spot on the Eastern Conference All-Star team while speeding his new team’s fans past their heartbreak over George’s jilting. Generally, the best trades in sports are win-win, but for Indiana right now, a bit of win-lose has made the start of 2017-18 downright sublime. “We happened to really like Sabonis in the draft,” former Pacers president and ongoing consultant Donnie Walsh said last week. “We wanted more of everything in the trade too. But when it came down to it, we had this offer with Oladipo, who we also liked. They’ve come in here and the more they’ve been here, the more we like ‘em. We’re happy.” The Pacers also are 16-11, two weeks ahead in the victory column over their 42-40 finish last season that was good for a playoff berth. Oladipo is the biggest reason why, averaging more points per game (24.5) than George ever has. The 6'4" guard who attended famous DeMatha High in Hyattsville, Md., spent much of last season being beaten up for his contract and negligible impact in Oklahoma City. He had taken grief earlier for his status as the second pick in 2013, a lofty status not of his doing. And here he was again in the summer, hearing it all over again for a transaction he didn’t design. “He came in with a chip [on his shoulder],” Pacers coach Nate McMillan said. “I thought he should come in with a chip.” Some would have flinched from the pressure. A few might have curled up, full blown fetal. Oladipo has gone entirely the other way. “His confidence is at an all-time high,” backup point guard Cory Joseph said. “He knows how good he is.” As Joseph spoke after the Pacers’ upset of Cleveland Friday, a game in which Oladipo scored 20 of his game-high 33 points in the third quarter, a lilting voice drifted from behind the scenes in the home dressing room. “Look at it right now, he’s singing in the shower,” Joseph said, tilting his head and laughing. “He’s confident. You guys are all in here, he’s just singing. He’s a confident guy. Everybody in this locker room, everybody in this organization definitely welcomes that.” Trade not driving Oladipo’s breakout season Don’t misunderstand. The critics still are out for Oladipo. “My mom told me yesterday I need to work on my free throws,” he said with an eye roll after practice Saturday (Sunday, PHL time). She had noticed, during her son’s run of big games in December -- 36 points at Toronto, 27 vs. Chicago, 33 against the Cavs the night before her chiding text -- that he had missed 18-of-31 foul shots. This, by a career 80 percent shooter from the line. “I’m over that,” Oladipo said. “I’m not going to miss no more. I’ll make ‘em next time. And if I miss ‘em, I’ll make ‘em the next. If that’s my problem right now, I think I can fix it.” Twenty-four hours later, Oladipo took 13 free throws against Denver and made 11. He scored 47 points in all, hitting 15-of-28 shots and half of his 12 three-pointers. The comeback victory in OT got the Pacers to 4-for-4 on their six-game homestand and continued to shrink whatever chip it was that the 25-year-old was shouldering. “In the beginning of the year, I said, ‘I don’t have a chip. I have a brick house on my back,’” Oladipo said. But not anymore, right, now that some folks are referring to it as “the Victor Oladipo trade” rather than “the Paul George trade?” “That’s what I feel like every morning, no matter what’s going on,” he said. “I don’t even think about the trade, honestly. It’s in the past for me. People’s opinions are going to be there whether you like it or not. From the outside looking in, I guess you could say [then] that was a great trade for OKC. That’s what they believed. But it wasn’t going to change the way I worked. It wasn’t going to change my approach.” This step up in status is considered perhaps the most difficult an NBA player can make. Suddenly, opposing coaches are X&O-ing him to death. The player dogging him up and down the court is the other guys’ best defender. Often, they’ll send double-teams to get the ball into one of his teammates’ hands. “He hadn’t had that,” McMillan said. “When he was in OKC, the game plan was focused on Westbrook. When he was in Orlando, he was just a young player. Now he is seeing the defenders like a LeBron [James], like a [DeMar] DeRozan, what these stars are seeing. He’s seeing the best defenders and he’s seeing teams game-plan to take him out. “Learning how to play and be consistent every night with that challenge is something he’s going through.” Oladipo’s quick success with the Pacers has kept any crowd critics at bay. They were pre-disposed to like him just as their rebound date after George, but had he underperformed, Oladipo’s service time in Bloomington wouldn’t have protected him for long from criticism. But now, it’s George who likely will get the harsh reception. Oladipo, overtly after each of the recent victories, has made it clear to the home fans via some emphatic pointing and body language that the Fieldhouse happens to be his house. “I don’t say it, they say it,” he said. “I just do the gesture and they do the rest of the work for me. I let them do all the talking. We feed off them -- when they’re into it, we play better. I don’t know why, that’s just how basketball’s always been. They’re our sixth man and we need ‘em every night.” Oladipo’s breakout season has been bolstered, too, by the Pacers’ second-through-15th men. Those who already were in Indy knew how valuable George was at both ends. Those who, like Oladipo and Sabonis, were new this season were within their rights to be as skeptical as the national headlines of the guys coming in trade. Go-to guy emerges for Pacers OKC was a specific challenge, Oladipo having to learn on the fly how to fit his own darting, ball-heavy style to only the second man in NBA history to average a triple-double. Westbrook’s usage was off the charts, rendering the other Thunder players to supporting cast whether suited to that role or not. Just like that, Oladipo had to catch and shoot as someone to get Westbrook into double digits in assists. It wasn’t his nature and it made for an individually forgettable season. “I had a role. I tried to play that role to the best of my ability. And I improved certain areas of my game in that role,” was all he’d say Saturday, stiffly, about the OKC experience. Said Walsh: “I felt like he was going to get a different opportunity here. ... When he got to Oklahoma City, he was playing wih a guy who was averaging a triple-double. And he liked Russell Westbrook. But he comes here, he’s got an opportunity to be ‘our guy.’ “I think he might have been looking for that. I never asked him. He’s a really cool guy. He knows what he wants to be, I think.” Oladipo needed this and the Pacers needed him to need it. With George gone, they were like a smile missing a front tooth. The other teeth weren’t just going to move up in the pecking order -- no matter how good young big man Myles Turner is -- and replace the one they’d lost. If they were going to have any success this season, if McMillan was going to be able to coach and adjust in his second year taking over for Frank Vogel, the players needed to fill their roles and welcome this new addition. That’s why this tale of Oladipo’s growing success is about what the Pacers have done for him, as much as it is what he’s done for them. “We didn’t really present it like that,” McMillan said, “because we were still trying to develop who our ‘go-to guy’ was. He has been slowly taking on that role through the things he’s done. I haven’t had to say anything. He’s making good decisions with the ball. And the guys are getting a feel for what we’re doing down the stretch because we’ve had some success, and we’ve had it with Victor having the ball.” Chemistry change for Pacers There might be NBA teams with chemistry as solid as the Pacers’ right now, but it’s hard to imagine there are any with better. It’s more than mere relief that someone has stepped up, easing their own loads a bit. It is a genuine eagerness for Oladipo to max out, for each of the rest of them to do the same in whatever lane they’re riding. “Vic’s been everything at this point,” Turner said. “He’s done a great job of stepping up and being that guy, being that dude. It’s amazing to have that when you’re going through a situation where it’s a brand-new team. We’re still learning each other and he’s showing that he’s ready.” Did Turner know this would happen and, if so, when? “First couple days he started texting me in the summertime,” the big man said. “I saw what his mindset was, and I loved it from the jump. He carried that right in when we started playing pickup this summer. “Vic’s been traded, what, [two] times? He finally comes back home and he has a team that’s telling him to go, telling him to be him. I don’t think he had that with his former teams. Now that he’s here and he’s doing that, I’m pretty sure he’s [enjoying it].” Said Joseph: “He’s been a beast for us and he’s going to continue to be a beast for us. ... He’s been running with that opportunity and opening eyes around the world.” Even strong-willed, uber-confident Lance Stephenson, has backed up for Oladipo. “There’s no hate, know what I mean?” he said over the weekend. “Some guys get mad about somebody doing good. This team wants its teammates to do good. That’s what’s going to make us even better.” Oladipo keeps referring to the other Pacers in a legit lubricating of the “no I in Indy” process. “Honestly I think it’s the personalities and the men that we have in this locker room,” he said. “My teammates are phenomenal people -- not just basketball players, phenomenal people. When you surround yourself with great people, people who sincerely care about you and your team, the chemistry just comes naturally.” Sabonis shows glimpses of success, too The other guy in the trade, Sabonis, has developed more organically, his maturation seemingly inevitable regardless of locale when you tote up his youth, his work ethic and his bloodlines (son of Hall of Famer Arvydas Sabonis). He has gone from that rookie who logged just six minutes in the Thunder’s five 2017 playoff games against Houston to an essential piece in McMillan’s rotation. “Once I got traded, I knew this was a great opportunity for me to show people what I can really do,” said Sabonis, the No. 11 pick in 2016. “I was a rookie last year. Everything was new. Here, I’m being used more at the 5. That’s more the position I’ve been used to playing my whole life.” Sabonis’ minutes are up from 20.1 in OKC to 24.6 off Indiana’s bench. His scoring has doubled from 5.9 ppg to 12.1. And his PIE rating has soared from 4.9 last season to 12.6, a sign of the versatility the skilled big man possesses. “I love Sabonis,” Walsh said. “His father was one of the greatest players in the world, so I don’t like that comparison -- it kills him. He [Domantas] is just more of everything you think he is. He’s stronger than you think. He can shoot the ball better. He’s got good hands, he can catch the ball. I’ve seen him make moves in game that I’ve never seen him make in practice.” Said Turner: “I played against Domas in college -- I knew what kind of player he was. I was excited when we got him. He’s gotten bigger and stronger since then, obviously, and he just didn’t have a chance to show himself last year. But he’s been big for us now, especially when I was out with the concussion. He stepped up huge in that role and we’ve played well since then.” The Pacers are playing faster this season, up from 18th in pace last season to 10th now, part of their improvement from 15th in offensive rating (106.2) to 6th (108.3). They’re doing better, too, in contesting shots and throttling opponents’ field-goal accuracy. The biggest reason why has been Oladipo’s blossoming. Whether due to the sunshine of new, happier surroundings or from that darker, more intense place, to prove cynics wrong. No one can now talk of the Pacers’ bungling of what, after all, was a deal to rent George, not to have him long-term. Fans at Bankers Life figure to boo George on his first visit back, with an inventory they haven’t needed or used on Oladipo. Some might see that as ingratitude, others as respect. It’s a little bit of love lost, too. “Look, they loved Paul when he was here,” Walsh said. “They guy is a great player. One thing I’ve always felt: These guys that play here, they always know more about what they want for their lives than we do. How you gonna argue with that? He treated us good, we treated him good. No bad blood here. I don’t know about fans.” Folks in Indy have a new crush now, one they hope lasts for a while. Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. 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......»»

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