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Rockets physicality puts vaunted Warriors on the defensive

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com HOUSTON — This Western Conference semifinal series is tied at 2-2. Each game has been decided by six points or less. Kevin Durant and Steph Curry, perhaps the best shooters in the NBA and among the greatest all-time, each had clean looks at 3-pointers in the final seconds Monday (Tuesday, PHL time) for the Warriors and missed a chance to send Game 4 into overtime. The Rockets won, 112-108. Yes, this is now closer than identical twins and possibly headed to the same finish of a year ago, when the Warriors took out Houston in seven games during the conference finals. And if you look under the hood and examine the parts, you’ll see that in the moments of truth over the last two games that Houston won and created this deadlock. The Rockets were the aggressor, the bully, the chance-taker and ultimately more clutch than the champs. They’re beating the Warriors up inside and out. [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] This doesn’t mean they’ll be the better team at the finish line, whether in six games or seven. But right now, they’ve made this contest closer than most imagined and given themselves a shot in what is now a best-two-out-of-three. “It’s a dogfight, and every possession matters,” said Chris Paul. The Rockets claimed victory Monday (Tuesday, PHL time) because James Harden was aces again, scoring 38 points and becoming more efficient – though, to the horror of the Warriors, he was no longer alone. Suddenly, Harden is getting ample help, and the more his supporting cast grows in confidence, the bigger the task it’ll be for the Warriors to finish the job. Here’s the tale of the tape: The Rockets are punching Golden State in the gut, with forward PJ Tucker delivering the body blows. Tucker is just 6'6", yet brings the temperament of a honey badger in a bad mood when it comes to grabbing rebounds. For the second straight game, Tucker snagged double-figures and been especially menacing on the offensive end; he’s going for seconds and sometimes thirds in heavy traffic and giving Houston additional chances at buckets. It’s not just ordinary rebounds he’s getting, but the most important ones. That hunger has a psychological effect as well, breaking the spirits of the Warriors while rousting the passion in his teammates. The sight of Tucker out-fighting Draymond Green for loose balls and missed shots is an emotional boost and keeps possessions alive. “I’m pleased people get a chance to see Tuck,” said Paul. “Everybody sees players in commercials and all that, but they don’t get a chance to see someone play defense and go after rebounds like him. That energy fuels everyone else. That’s basketball.” Houston has out-rebounded the Warriors in its two straight wins and Green says that can’t continue. “We have to change our mindset,” he said, “and that begins with me. That’s my department. They’re slapping us. It’s an easy correction, and if we correct it we’ll be fine.” Maybe the more disturbing aspect of this series is how the Warriors are also getting out-splashed. It’s not terribly surprising to see the Rockets dropping more three-pointers; after all, they take more than anyone in basketball. Yet, the Warriors just aren’t efficient and that’s especially the case with Curry and Klay Thompson. Harden has made just two fewer three-pointers than Curry and Thompson combined. While Curry seemed to break free of his semi-slump Monday (Tuesday, PHL time) with 30 points, his highest single-game point total of the series, he missed 10 of his 14 shots from deep. And Thompson is trapped in a thicker fog right now; he missed 5-of-6 from deep and delivered a weak 11 points and really hasn’t stepped forward for Golden State all series. The shot selection for Curry and Thompson has appeared wicked and surprisingly reckless at times, especially in the fourth quarter. “I felt we were in a rush a lot tonight with our shots,” said Kerr. “I don’t think we got great shots for much of the night. When you’re not searching for great shots, you’re not going to shoot that well.” With only Durant managing to look efficient from beyond the arc, the Warriors are getting lapped. In the last three games, or once Harden’s poked eye improved, the Rockets have made 18 more three-pointers than Golden State. “Our mentality changed after Game 2,” said Harden. “We’re not going to let up. We’re going to keep coming at you.” There are reasons the Warriors shouldn’t be in a state of panic. The next game is at Oracle Arena. And the two they just lost at Toyota Center they could’ve been won had they made plays at the end. Game 3 went into overtime and Curry missed an uncontested layup in the final 90 seconds of that tight game. And the Warriors had those pair of looks by Curry and Durant in Game 4, the sight of which sent chills through the Rockets. “I thought it was going into overtime,” said Austin Rivers. “One hundred percent. KD got one and I’m like, ‘C’mon man.’ And then Steph got one. We are fortunate.” Paul added: “Going back to the Bay, they’re probably not going to miss those shots.” Besides, Houston was qualified to be the most difficult out for the Warriors to win a third straight title, or at least reach the NBA Finals. After all, the Rockets have Harden and Paul, and their ability to shoot three's means they can seldom be counted out of games even if they’re trailing. A furious rally is always a moment away. Besides, aside from Trevor Ariza, this is virtually the same team that took Golden State to the seven-game limit last year and had to play the final two games without Paul, who had a hamstring pull. “I thought they were great,” said Kerr. “They did what they had to do, win their two home games.” But there wasn’t the scent of concern coming from the Warriors. Perhaps it’s the pride of a team still believing it’s heads and shoulders above the league, or a stern belief that whatever advantages Houston had over the last two games will be snuffed. Durant remains playing at an epic level and the basketball logic says Curry, and perhaps Thompson, will eventually snap out of it, not because the Rockets’ defense will weaken, but because Curry and Thompson have, you know, a track record of excellence. “We know what we have to do,” Kerr said bravely. Perhaps. But for the second time in as many years, the Rockets have the Warriors’ full attention, and Golden State must be near-perfect to prevent from being pushed to the ledge. “What I like is how everybody does their job,” said Tucker. “That makes us ‘us.’ We’re tough. We’re that kind of team.” If the Warriors didn’t know it before, they know that now. 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: abscbn abscbnMay 7th, 2019

21 active stars who should have their jersey retired someday

By Sekou Smith, NBA.com Tony Parker is the latest all-time great to see his jersey raised to the rafters for his years of service in San Antonio. But he won’t be the last of his generation to be honored that way. Parker’ big night in San Antonio generated some interesting conversation about who, among current NBA players only, would be in line for similar honors someday. Keep in mind that the standards for a retired jersey with one franchise differs from one to another. Winning titles in Los Angeles or Boston -- or even Chicago or Golden State -- is a tougher sell than it is where there aren’t already multiple championship banners. Accomplishments matter … and so does sentiment, too. There are always unique variables at work when it comes to retiring jerseys, which is a much more significant honor than inducting a player into a franchise’s ring of honor. With Parker’s star-studded ceremony still fresh in our minds, here’s a list of other stars who will one day be able to see their jerseys up in the rafters: * * * LeBron James (Cavs and Heat): If there is anyone that’s an absolute lock to see his jersey raised high when he calls it a career, it’s LeBron. He delivered Cleveland a title, ending the city’s 52-year title drought, in his second stint with what is essentially his hometown team. Before that, he was the catalyst for the Heat’s four straight Finals trips (2011-14) and back-to-back titles in 2012 and 2013. The standard to join the Lakers’ retired-jersey fraternity is tougher, of course. The greatest Lakers get statues -- a fate that might await LeBron in Cleveland one day. Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala (Warriors): Also known as the “Hamptons 5”, they will all be immortalized someday by Golden State. All five played a role in the championship fun and excitement they generated during the franchise’s golden era of the past half-decade. You can make case for all five of them to enjoy jersey retirement ceremonies on their own. That, however, would go against everything their “Strength In Numbers” era was about. Rest assured, though, that all five of them will have their day. James Harden (Rockets): Harden started his career as a super sixth man in Oklahoma City before rewriting his legacy after a trade to Houston. He’s already one of the most prolific and creative scorers the league has seen. The Rockets have had their fair share of legendary players and know what it’s like to bask in the championship glow provided by the rise of a transcendent player. Harden’s jersey will be in good company some day, perhaps right next to Hakeem Olajuwon’s No. 34. Russell Westbrook (Thunder): In an era where nearly every other elite superstar of his generation made a move via trade or free agency, Westbrook stuck to his roots in Oklahoma City until he had no choice but to move on. He endeared himself to generations of OKC fans by playing at a fever pitch from start to finish, earning All-Star, All-NBA and Kia MVP honors there. Being a part of a Finals team with Durant and Harden helped cement his legacy. Although he’s now in Houston, he’ll always have a place in the hearts of Thunder fans. Damian Lillard (Blazers): Lillard personifies the values of a basketball-mad fan base in a city that adores its team and stars in a unique way. The Blazers did their homework on the unheralded point guard from Weber State and have enjoyed everything that’s happened since. From his Kia Rookie of the Year campaign in 2013 to today, he has played out better than anyone could have imagined. Lillard, one of the most underappreciated stars of his generation, couldn’t have found a better match in a city and franchise. Giannis Antetokounmpo (Bucks): The rise of the "The Greak Freak" from obscure prospect to Kia MVP in just six seasons gives his story extra dramatic flair. His relentless work ethic helped change the culture in Milwaukee and branded him as a potential successor to James as the face of the league. The fact that he authored the greatest individual season in Bucks history since Kareem-Abdul Jabbar’s days has carved out a permanent space for Antetokounmpo’s jersey in franchise lore. Kemba Walker (Hornets): The face of the franchise in Charlotte for the first eight years of his career, Walker has since moved on to Boston. But he remains the Hornets’ career leader in several categories and was a beloved fan favorite for a team that never achieved any sustained postseason success. Few players of his or any era forged a connection to a city and franchise as Walker did with Charlotte. Derrick Rose (Bulls): Born and raised in Chicago, Rose (at 22) became the youngest player to win the Kia MVP in 2011. He also joined Michael Jordan and Elton Brand as the only Bulls to win Rookie of the Year honors. Even though knee injuries derailed his career in his hometown, he piled up enough early career accolades to one day be honored with a retired jersey. Although he never led the franchise back to championship prominence, he is the the most decorated Bull since MJ. Vince Carter (Raptors): How many players can say they served as the basketball inspiration for an entire nation? Carter can. His time with the Raptors served as the spark for generations of future NBA players, many of whom have gotten the chance to play with their childhood idol in the twilight of his future Hall of Fame career. His five seasons with the New Jersey Nets solidified his status as one of the best players of his generation. But his star was never brighter than it was from 1998-2004 when “Vinsanity” inspired Canada. Marc Gasol and Mike Conley (Grizzlies): These two should grit and grind their way to the rafters in Memphis, on the same night if possible. They helped usher in the greatest run in franchise history, spearheading a feisty and physical style that spoke to the city’s blue-collar ways. The “Grit and Grind” Grizzlies validated their rise to prominence with a West finals run in 2013 steered by Gasol and Conley. Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan (Raptors): Lowry and his best buddy DeRozan were separated before they could realize their dreams of winning a title together in Toronto. Lowry realized it last season alongside Kawhi Leonard, thus cementing his legacy as an all-time great Raptor. He’ll always have a place to call home north of the border because of the franchise-altering success that took place on his watch. DeRozan was a fan favorite who wanted to finish his career in Toronto. He, too, will always have a home in the city. Blake Griffin and Chris Paul (Clippers): The LA end for these two was messier than it should have been, especially since they oversaw the “Lob City” era that revitalized the franchise. Time will surely heal all wounds, somewhere down the road. History will be kinder to the Clippers’ climb out of the doldrums than anyone was during their injury-tortured run. Griffin and Paul are locks for the Hall of Fame one day. Plus, a franchise without much history to celebrate could use a couple of jerseys to jazz up their new building. Kawhi Leonard (Raptors): Is a one-year surreal playoff run enough to warrant franchise immortality? Clippers fans are hoping Kawhi and Paul George give them a reason to raise their jerseys to the rafters someday, too. Right now, Leonard is a seeming lock for the honor with the Raptors, where his brief-but-fruitful stay there gave their rabid fan base their first NBA championship. Dwight Howard (Magic): After his first eight seasons in Orlando, Howard had a near slam-dunk case for the Hall of Fame and retired jersey status. Yes, his exit from Orlando was messy. And he has yet to find a way to part ways with any of the other franchises on good terms. Still, you can’t overlook his Magic-era feats: All-Star berths, three Kia Defensive Player of the Year awards, five All-NBA first team nods and a Finals trip in 2009. 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 NewsNov 13th, 2019

Garoppolo throws 4 TD passes, 49ers beat Cardinals 28-25

By David Brandt, Associated Press GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — San Francisco's game-manager turned into quite the game-changer in an impressive performance. Jimmy Garoppolo threw for 317 yards and four touchdowns on a night his team's vaunted defense wasn't at its best, and the San Francisco 49ers reached the halfway point of their season undefeated, beating the Arizona Cardinals 28-25 on Thursday. For a quarterback who often gets the backhanded compliment of being a good game-manager, Garoppolo's stellar performance provided some proof that the 27-year-old might be a little better than people think. His teammates already knew. "Yeah, he's pretty good," San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle said. "I don't know why people don't think he is. He makes some pretty gutsy throws out there, doesn't he? Goodness gracious." San Francisco (8-0) fell behind 7-0 but responded with three touchdowns — one as time expired in the second quarter after Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury called a timeout and gave the 49ers a second chance on fourth down — to take a 21-7 halftime lead. The 49ers were in control until about five minutes left in the fourth quarter, when Andy Isabella caught a short pass and sprinted for an 88-yard touchdown to help the Cardinals pull to 28-25. But the 49ers were able to run out the clock on their ensuing offensive drive to end Arizona's comeback. Garoppolo had two crucial third-down completions to keep the final drive alive, including one to Emmanuel Sanders who caught seven passes for 112 yards and a touchdown. Garoppolo completed 28 of 37 throws including touchdowns of 30, 7, 1 and 21 yards. "Our team has done a good job of winning in different ways this year," Garoppolo said. "Whether it's offense, special teams, defense or mixing and matching all of them. That's how you create a good football team. You're not relying on one part and everyone's playing tomorrow. Complimentary football. "That's where we're at right now." Even in victory and at 8-0, Niners cornerback Richard Sherman was downright grumpy when asked about the defense. Arizona had 357 total yards. "It's not about the results. The results are going to be what they are," Sherman said. "Thank goodness our offense executed. But it's about the process, it's executing the way you're supposed to. It's about doing your job repeatedly, like with robotic consistency." Arizona (3-5-1) lost its second straight game. Rookie quarterback Kyler Murray threw for 241 yards and two touchdowns. The Cardinals came into the game without their top two running backs, David Johnson and Chase Edmonds, who were battling injuries. Kenyan Drake — who was acquired by the Cardinals on Monday in a trade with the Miami Dolphins — ran for 36 yards on the first play of the game and capped the opening drive with a 4-yard touchdown run. He finished with a team-high 110 yards rushing and 52 yards receiving. "That's what we expected from him, why we traded for him," Kingsbury said. "His skill set is perfect for what we do. He's explosive, he runs tough and to come and learn an entirely new offense, we didn't hold anything back. We knew we could call our best game." BAD TIMING Arizona looked as if was about to escape the first half trailing 14-7 after San Francisco's Jeff Wilson Jr. was stopped on fourth down just shy of the goal line with a few seconds remaining in the first half. But there was one major problem for the Cardinals: Kingsbury called a timeout just before the play began. The 49ers converted on their second chance when Garoppolo hit Sanders for a 1-yard touchdown pass and a 21-7 lead. Kingsbury said he was trying to get a "Kodak" snapshot of what the 49ers were trying to do. "Obviously looking back on it we would have rather gotten that stop," Kingsbury said. "It just didn't work out for us this time." ROAD WARRIORS San Francisco's off to an 8-0 start for the second time in franchise history. The Niners won 10 straight games to start the 1990 season. This year's streak has included five road wins. The 49ers have three straight home games starting with the Seahawks on Nov. 11. KITTLE SCARE The 49ers got a scare early when star tight end George Kittle left the game after taking a helmet to the knee. But the third-year star quickly returned and responded with a 30-yard touchdown catch late in the first quarter to tie it at 7. INJURIES 49ers: Defensive lineman Arik Armstead left in the first quarter with a throat injury but returned to the game. ... Linebacker Kwon Alexander had a chest injury in the second half and didn't return. Cardinals: Defensive lineman Clinton McDonald left with what the team called a "stinger" in the third quarter. UP NEXT San Francisco returns home to face Seattle on Nov. 11 for a Monday night game. Arizona travels to Tampa Bay on Nov. 10......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 1st, 2019

New arena may house a new reality for Warriors

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com SAN FRANCISCO -- Here in the heart of the redeveloped Mission District lies The House That Three Championships Built, a Frisbee-shaped arena with oodles of high-tech and designer touches and wide concourses offering cuisine instead of food. You might say the Chase Center, the new $1.2 billion home of the Warriors is, ahem, splashy. Perhaps this residential upgrade was overdue for a team that has dominated the NBA for most of a decade because -- and this is no disrespect to Oakland or the charming and beloved Oracle Arena -- the Warriors are finally learning how the other half lives. For far too long, they played champagne basketball while living in a beer hall. Of course, the question now is whether that previous imbalance will suddenly flip and reverse itself. Will the Warriors, weakened by injury and a big offseason defection, now play beer basketball while their well-heeled fans here sip bubbly from their flutes at court-side? That is a very real scenario facing the franchise as it begins life without Kevin Durant and, at least for the moment, Klay Thompson. The buzz and sledgehammer long held by the Warriors has been transferred in the NBA, specifically to Los Angeles. That's where one of that city’s championship-quality teams, the Clippers, punished the Warriors 141-122 Thursday (Friday, PHL time) in the first regular-season game at Chase Center. It was about the worst opener a team could have in a new place, where is was competitive for about two quarters and rapidly turned into a lopsided loss caused by a performance that Draymond Green said “was sad across the board.” The Warriors took the night off defensively, making it impossible for Stephen Curry to keep pace with the Clippers even if he played by his own high standards (which he didn’t). Curry had as many turnovers (eight) as field goals and saw constant double-teams because the Clippers didn’t fear his teammates. By the start of the fourth quarter, the arena was half-full and whisper quiet. Warriors coach Steve Kerr emptied the bench right round the same time Chase Center emptied. When Golden State did that in years past, it was because it was conversely up big. “There’s going to be nights like this,” said Kerr, with a sigh of resignation. “This isn’t a one-off. The last five years we’d been living in a world that wasn’t supposed to exist.” The good news is the Warriors won’t play the Clippers 81 more times. Still, Kerr sounds prophetic: This is likely the new normal for Golden State over the course of the next several months. It wouldn’t be a stretch to assume the Warriors will grind much harder for wins in 2019-20 than they did at any time over the last five seasons, where they won almost 80 percent of their games. The fans at Oracle became spoiled by constant 3-pointers from Curry and Thompson and muscle poses from Green -- along with two Finals MVP seasons from Durant. After Durant bolted the Nets, the Clippers welcomed Kawhi Leonard and traded for Paul George. In a curious twist of fate, the Clippers are now poised to strip the Warriors of Western Conference ownership. These Clippers are 2-0, notching impressive wins against the Lakers and Warriors, all while George continues to heal up. While he'll return soon -- maybe even in the next two weeks -- Thompson could miss the season recovering from his torn left ACL. That puts much of the load on Curry. The former two-time Kia MVP is one of three Warriors remaining from their five straight conference-title and three NBA-title teams (Thompson and Green are the others) and is being handed a massive challenge. Curry will undoubtedly have the green light to shoot often, and also must develop a comfort zone with newcomer D’Angelo Russell until Thompson heals. Curry, though, will see even more swarming defenders and his supporting cast is young, inexperienced and brings light resumes. Gone are Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston and David West. Say hello and introduce yourself to Glen Robinson III, Marquese Criss and Eric Paschall. The Warriors have nine players who are 23 and younger. Russell, who was a first-time All-Star in 2018-19, is the most accomplished newcomer. Yet there’s no guarantee he’ll be on the roster past the February 6 trade deadline -- that all depends on where the Warriors are and if their philosophy gets a re-do. “We’re starting over,” Kerr said Thursday (Friday, PHL time). Lots of new pieces in the rotation combined with a typically rugged Western Conference means expectations have tempered somewhat dramatically here. Folks are realistic and wisely so. Making the playoffs, once a safe assumption for this franchise, is hardly a given this season. “It’s not a good feeling to lose games, especially when you’re opening up a new building,” Curry said. “It’s not about over-reacting to one game, but baby steps are in order. Turnovers, rebounding and our defensive presence in general are important. Our margin for error is really slim.” The most important goal for the Warriors is not necessarily to win enough games to squeeze out one of the last playoff spots, but to preserve Curry’s health by managing his minutes and games. Nothing else takes precedent over his well-being. Curry is on the wrong side of 30 and has a history of ankle tweaks. With tickets already sold for the inaugural season at Chase Center, this seems more like a bridge to 2020-21, when Thompson should be set to play a full year and the Warriors can reload. At least the digs are first class. The Warriors are back in San Francisco for the first time since 1971, before they crossed the Bay, when Wilt Chamberlain and friends played at the Cow Palace, an old barn south of town. Chase Center was built entirely with private financing and is owned and operated by the club. Peter Guber, the part-owner of the Warriors and producer of numerous Hollywood blockbuster movies, oversaw the design and flavor of the building with his vision. And the site is surrounded by office buildings and condos that’ll cost a few trust funds to buy. The players and coaching staff are thrilled with the custom locker room, expanded wellness center and weight room and a connected practice facility, though there are kinks that still need to be worked out. “I’ve been locked out of my office a couple of times,” said Kerr. “We’re slowly figuring our way out around here.” The same might be said about the Warriors on the court. To coronate the official opening of Chase Center for basketball, Thompson grabbed the microphone before tipoff, walked to center court in a sharp-fitting suit, and welcomed the fans, asking for their support this season for a team that promised to play hard. The fans should expect as much as the Warriors certainly seem capable of burning calories. In their current state, however, anything beyond that will be considered a bonus. 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 NewsOct 26th, 2019

Clippers, Bucks lead NBA.com 2019-20 GM Survey

By John Schuhmann, NBA.com Included in all the player movement of this past summer was the last two Finals MVPs leaving the two teams that met in the 2019 Finals. And with more balance in the distribution of superstars, the race for the 2020 NBA championship appears to be wide open. There are favorites, of course. But with so many good players in new uniforms, we don't know how all the pieces are going to fit. We still asked the league's decision-makers to take their best guesses. And in the 18th annual NBA.com GM Survey, 46 percent of general managers have picked Paul George and Kawhi Leonard to lead the LA Clippers to their first NBA title. Leonard was not only named the offseason acquisition that would make the biggest impact, but is also the first player not named LeBron James to be named the league's best small forward since 2005. In the Eastern Conference, the league's GMs like Giannis Antetokounmpo (the player that 86 percent of them would start a franchise with) and the Milwaukee Bucks, who were named the top team in the East by 76 percent of the respondents. Zion Williamson isn't only the pick to win Kia Rookie of the Year and be the best of his class in five years, but he was also named the league's most athletic player … before suiting up for an official NBA game. The GMs responded to 50 different questions about the best teams, players, coaches, fans, and offseason moves. General managers were not permitted to vote for their own team or personnel. Percentages are based on the pool of respondents to that particular question, rather than all 30 GMs. * * * PREDICTIONS Which team will win the 2020 NBA Finals? 1. LA Clippers -- 46% 2. Milwaukee Bucks -- 36% 3. Los Angeles Lakers -- 11% Also receiving votes: Golden State Warriors, Portland Trail Blazers Last year: Golden State – 87% Rank the top four teams in the Eastern Conference 2019-20 GM Survey, Eastern Conference rankings Last year: Ninety percent picked Boston to win the East. Order after the Celtics was Toronto, Philadelphia, Milwaukee, Indiana, Washington and Miami. Rank the top four teams in the Western Conference Last year: Ninety percent picked Golden State to win the West. Order after the Warriors was Houston, Oklahoma City, Utah, L.A. Lakers, Portland/San Antonio, and Denver. PLAYERS Who will win the 2019-20 Kia MVP? 1. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee -- 52% 2. Stephen Curry, Golden State -- 10%     Anthony Davis, Los Angeles Lakers -- 10%     Kawhi Leonard, LA Clippers -- 10% 5. Nikola Jokic, Denver -- 7% Also receiving votes: James Harden, Houston; LeBron James, L.A. Lakers; Damian Lillard, Portland Last year: LeBron James – 30% If you were starting a franchise today and could sign any player in the NBA, who would it be? 1. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee -- 86% 2. Anthony Davis, L.A. Lakers -- 7%     Luka Doncic, Dallas -- 7% Last year: Giannis Antetokounmpo -- 30% Which player forces opposing coaches to make the most adjustments? 1. James Harden, Houston -- 48% 2. Stephen Curry, Golden State -- 17%     LeBron James, L.A. Lakers -- 17% 4. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee -- 14% 5. Kevin Durant, Brooklyn -- 3% Last year: LeBron James -- 60% Which player is most likely to have a breakout season in 2019-20? 1. De'Aaron Fox, Sacramento -- 19% 2. Jaren Jackson Jr., Memphis -- 11%     Jayson Tatum, Boston -- 11% 4. Brandon Ingram, New Orleans -- 7%     Jamal Murray, Denver -- 7% Also receiving votes: Bam Adebayo, Miami; Lonzo Ball, New Orleans; Devin Booker, Phoenix; Wendell Carter Jr., Chicago; Zach Collins, Portland; Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Oklahoma City; LeBron James, L.A. Lakers; Dejounte Murray, San Antonio; Julius Randle, New York; Tomas Satoransky, Chicago; Pascal Siakam, Toronto; Zion Williamson, New Orleans Last year: Jamal Murray -- 20% Who is the best point guard in the NBA? 1. Stephen Curry, Golden State -- 90% 2. Damian Lillard, Portland -- 7% 3. LeBron James, LA Lakers -- 3% Last year: Stephen Curry -- 57% Who is the best shooting guard in the NBA? 1. James Harden, Houston – 86% 2. Paul George, LA Clippers – 7% Also receiving votes: Jimmy Butler, Miami; Klay Thompson, Golden State Last year: James Harden -- 73% Who is the best small forward in the NBA? 1. Kawhi Leonard, LA Clippers -- 62% 2. LeBron James, L.A. Lakers -- 24% 3. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee -- 14% Last year: LeBron James -- 57% Who is the best power forward in the NBA? 1. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee -- 59% 2. Anthony Davis, L.A. Lakers -- 28% 3. LeBron James, L.A. Lakers -- 10% 4. LaMarcus Aldridge, San Antonio -- 3% Last year: Anthony Davis --  37% Who is the best center in the NBA? 1. Nikola Jokic, Denver -- 48% 2. Joel Embiid, Philadelphia -- 28% 3. Anthony Davis, L.A. Lakers -- 17% Also receiving votes: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee; Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Last year: Anthony Davis -- 40% OFFSEASON MOVES Which team made the best overall moves this offseason? 1. LA Clippers -- 82% 2. New Orleans Pelicans -- 11% Also receiving votes: Brooklyn Nets, Utah Jazz Last year: L.A. Lakers – 70% Which one player acquisition will make the biggest impact? 1. Kawhi Leonard, LA Clippers -- 67% 2. Anthony Davis, L.A. Lakers -- 21% 3. Paul George, LA Clippers -- 12% Last year: LeBron James -- 97% What was the most underrated player acquisition? 1. Mike Conley, Utah -- 36% 2. Bojan Bogdanovic, Utah -- 14% 3. Malcolm Brogdon, Indiana -- 11%     Jerami Grant, Denver -- 11% 5. Tomas Satoransky, Chicago -- 7% Also receiving votes: Lonzo Ball, New Orleans; Derrick Favors, New Orleans; Danny Green, L.A. Lakers; Chris Paul, Oklahoma City; J.J. Redick, New Orleans; Josh Richardson, Philadelphia Last year: Tyreke Evans -- 13% Which team will be most improved in 2019-20? 1. Los Angeles Lakers -- 38% 2. Dallas Mavericks -- 21% 3. LA Clippers -- 10% 4. Atlanta Hawks -- 7%     Brooklyn Nets -- 7%     Chicago Bulls -- 7%     New Orleans Pelicans -- 7% 8. New York Knicks -- 4% Last year: L.A. Lakers -- 80% What was the most surprising move of the offseason? 1. Paul George trade to LA Clippers -- 52% 2. Chris Paul-Russell Westbrook trade -- 28% 3. Nikola Mirotic to FC Barcelona -- 7% Also receiving votes: Malcolm Brogdon to Indiana; Al Horford to Philadelphia; Kawhi Leonard to Clippers, Marcus Morris decommitting from San Antonio Last year: DeMarcus Cousins to Golden State -- 35% ROOKIES & INTERNATIONAL Who will win the 2019-20 Rookie of the Year? 1. Zion Williamson, New Orleans -- 68% 2. Ja Morant, Memphis -- 29% 3. Darius Garland, Cleveland -- 4% Last year: Luka Doncic -- 43% Which rookie will be the best player in five years? 1. Zion Williamson, New Orleans -- 68% 2. Ja Morant, Memphis -- 18% 3. Cameron Reddish, Atlanta -- 7% Also receiving votes: Jarrett Culver, Minnesota; Darius Garland, Cleveland Last year: DeAndre Ayton & Jaren Jackson Jr. -- 27% Which rookie was the biggest steal at where he was selected in the Draft? 1. Nickeil Alexander-Walker (17), New Orleans -- 32% 2. Brandon Clarke (21), Memphis -- 21% 3. Goga Bitadze (18), Indiana -- 11% 4. Bol Bol (44), Denver -- 7%     Tyler Herro (13), Miami -- 7% Also receiving votes: Darius Bazley (23), Oklahoma City; Nicolas Claxton (31), Brooklyn; Daniel Gafford (38), Chicago; Darius Garland (5), Cleveland; Nasir Little (25), Portland; Cameron Reddish (10), Atlanta Last year: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander -- 27% Who is the best international player in the NBA? 1. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee -- 79% 2. Nikola Jokic, Denver -- 14% 3. Luka Doncic, Dallas -- 7% Last year: Giannis Antetokounmpo -- 73% Who is the best international player NOT in the NBA? 1. Nikola Mirotic, FC Barcelona -- 55% 2. Nando de Colo, Fenerbahce -- 21% 3. Sergio Llull, Real Madrid -- 17% Also receiving votes: Deni Avdija, Maccabi Tel Aviv; Jan Vesely, Fenerbahce Last year: Sergio Llull -- 39% DEFENSE Who is the best defensive player in the NBA? 1. Kawhi Leonard, LA Clippers -- 45% 2. Rudy Gobert, Utah -- 28% 3. Draymond Green, Golden State -- 10% 4. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee -- 7%     Paul George, LA Clippers -- 7% 6. Anthony Davis, LA Lakers -- 3% Last year: Rudy Gobert & Kawhi Leonard -- 37% Who is the best perimeter defender in the NBA? 1. Kawhi Leonard, LA Clippers -- 59% 2. Paul George, LA Clippers -- 21% Also receiving votes: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee; OG Anunoby, Toronto; Jimmy Butler, Miami; Jrue Holiday, New Orleans; LeBron James, LA Lakers; Klay Thompson, Golden State Last year: Kawhi Leonard -- 60% Who is the best interior defender in the NBA? 1. Rudy Gobert, Utah -- 93% Also receiving votes: Anthony Davis, L.A. Lakers; Joel Embiid, Philadelphia Last year: Rudy Gobert -- 80% Who is the most versatile defender in the NBA? 1. Draymond Green, Golden State -- 38% 2. Kawhi Leonard, LA Clippers -- 31% 3. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee -- 21% Also receiving votes: Anthony Davis, L.A. Lakers; Paul George, LA Clippers; Pascal Siakam, Toronto Last year: Draymond Green -- 53% Which is the best defensive team in the NBA? 1. LA Clippers -- 52% 2. Utah Jazz -- 24% 3. Milwaukee Bucks -- 17% 4. Philadelphia 76ers -- 7% Last year: Utah -- 45% COACHES Who is the best head coach in the NBA? 1. Gregg Popovich, San Antonio -- 55% 2. Erik Spoelstra, Miami -- 17% 3. Mike Budenholzer, Milwaukee -- 10% 4. Steve Kerr, Golden State -- 7% Also receiving votes: Steve Clifford, Orlando; Doc Rivers, LA Clippers; Quin Snyder, Utah Last year: Brad Stevens -- 47% Which head coach is the best manager/motivator of people? 1. Gregg Popovich, San Antonio -- 41% 2. Doc Rivers, LA Clippers -- 31% 3. Steve Kerr, Golden State -- 17% Also receiving votes: Kenny Atkinson, Brooklyn; Mike D'Antoni, Houston; Terry Stotts, Portland Last year: Gregg Popovich -- 47% Which head coach makes the best in-game adjustments? 1. Rick Carlisle, Dallas -- 28% 2. Brad Stevens, Boston -- 17% 3. Quin Snyder, Utah -- 14% 4. Steve Clifford, Orlando -- 10%     Gregg Popovich, San Antonio -- 10% 6. Nick Nurse, Toronto -- 7% Also receiving votes: Mike Budenholzer, Milwaukee; Michael Malone, Denver; Doc Rivers, LA Clippers; Erik Spoelstra, Miami Last year: Brad Stevens -- 53% Which head coach runs the best offense? 1. Steve Kerr, Golden State -- 38% 2. Mike Budenholzer, Milwaukee -- 14%     Mike D'Antoni, Houston -- 14%     Terry Stotts, Portland -- 14% 5. Michael Malone, Denver -- 7%     Nick Nurse, Toronto -- 7%     Quin Snyder, Utah -- 7% Last year: Steve Kerr -- 40% Which head coach has the best defensive schemes? 1. Quin Snyder, Utah -- 28% 2. Mike Budenholzer, Milwaukee -- 24% 3. Nate McMillan, Indiana -- 7%     Gregg Popovich, San Antonio -- 7%     Doc Rivers, LA Clippers -- 7%     Erik Spoelstra, Miami -- 7%     Brad Stevens, Boston -- 7% Also receiving votes: Kenny Atkinson, Brooklyn; Dwane Casey, Detroit; Steve Clifford, Orlando; Nick Nurse, Toronto Last year: Quin Snyder -- 33% Which new or relocated head coach will make the biggest impact on his new team? 1. Monty Williams, Phoenix -- 43% 2. Frank Vogel, L.A. Lakers -- 21% 3. Luke Walton, Sacramento -- 18% 4. John Beilein, Cleveland -- 11% 5. Taylor Jenkins, Memphis -- 7% Last year: N/A Who is the best assistant coach in the NBA? 1. Dan Burke, Indiana -- 11%     Chris Finch, New Orleans -- 11%     David Vanterpool, Minnesota -- 11% 4. Darvin Ham, Milwaukee -- 7%     Alex Jensen, Utah -- 7%     Igor Kokoskov, Sacramento -- 7%     Tyronn Lue, LA Clippers -- 7%     Nate Tibbets, Portland -- 7% Also receiving votes: Ron Adams, Golden State; Chip Engelland, San Antonio; Chris Fleming, Chicago; Adrian Griffin, Toronto; Phil Handy, L.A. Lakers; Jason Kidd, L.A. Lakers; Keith Smart, New York; Ime Udoka, Philadelphia Last year: Ron Adams -- 17% Which active player will make the best head coach someday? 1. Mike Conley, Utah -- 26% 2. Chris Paul, Oklahoma City -- 19% 3. Malcolm Brogdon, Indiana -- 15% 4. Rajon Rondo, L.A. Lakers -- 11% Also receiving votes: Jalen Brunson, Dallas; Jared Dudley, L.A. Lakers; Andre Iguodala, Memphis; Kyle Korver, Milwaukee; C.J. McCollum, Portland; Doug McDermott, Indiana; Garrett Temple, Brooklyn; Lance Thomas, Brooklyn Last year: Chris Paul -- 25% MISCELLANEOUS Which team is the most fun to watch? 1. Denver Nuggets -- 31% 2. New Orleans Pelicans -- 21% 3. Golden State Warriors -- 17% 4. Milwaukee Bucks -- 10% 5. Portland Trail Blazers -- 7% Also receiving votes: Houston Rockets, LA Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, Sacramento Kings Last year: Golden State -- 60% Which team has the best home-court advantage? 1. Denver Nuggets -- 38% 2. Utah Jazz -- 24%     Golden State Warriors -- 24% 4. Portland Trail Blazers -- 7% Also receiving votes: Boston Celtics, Toronto Raptors Last year: Golden State -- 50% Which team has the most promising young core? 1. New Orleans Pelicans -- 28% 2. Denver Nuggets -- 24% 3. Atlanta Hawks -- 17% 4. Sacramento Kings -- 10% 5. Philadelphia 76ers -- 7% Also receiving votes: Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls, Dallas Mavericks, Memphis Grizzlies Last year: Philadelphia -- 47% Which player is the most athletic? 1. Zion Williamson, New Orleans -- 41% 2. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee -- 28% 3. Aaron Gordon, Orlando -- 7%     Derrick Jones Jr., Miami -- 7%     Mitchell Robinson, New York -- 7%     Russell Westbrook, Houston -- 7% 7. Zach LaVine, Chicago -- 3% Last year: Russell Westbrook -- 48% Which player is the best pure shooter? 1. Stephen Curry, Golden State -- 86% 2. Klay Thompson, Golden State -- 11% 3. J.J. Redick, New Orleans -- 4% Last year: Stephen Curry -- 73% Which player is the fastest with the ball? 1. De'Aaron Fox, Sacramento -- 64% 2. Russell Westbrook, Houston -- 25% Also receiving votes: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee; Stephen Curry, Golden State; Kyrie Irving, Brooklyn Last year: Russell Westbrook -- 50% Which player is best at moving without the ball? 1. Klay Thompson, Golden State -- 43% 2. J.J. Redick, New Orleans -- 25% 3. Stephen Curry, Golden State -- 21% 4. Kyle Korver, Milwaukee -- 7% 5. C.J. McCollum, Portland -- 4% Last year: Klay Thompson -- 53% Which player is the best passer? 1. LeBron James, L.A. Lakers -- 57% 2. Nikola Jokic, Denver -- 32% 3. Chris Paul, Oklahoma City -- 7% 4. James Harden, Houston -- 4% Last year: LeBron James -- 50% What bench player makes the biggest impact when he enters the game? 1. Lou Williams, LA Clippers -- 79% 2. Montrezl Harrell, LA Clippers -- 7%     Fred VanVleet, Toronto -- 7% Also receiving votes: Spencer Dinwiddie, Brooklyn; Domantas Sabonis, Indiana Last year: Lou Williams -- 41% Who is the toughest player in the NBA? 1. Steven Adams, Oklahoma City -- 32% 2. Draymond Green, Golden State -- 18% 3. P.J. Tucker, Houston -- 14% 4. LeBron James, L.A. Lakers -- 7% Also receiving votes: Aron Baynes, Phoenix; Patrick Beverley, LA Clippers; Udonis Haslem, Miami; Joe Ingles, Utah; Damian Lillard, Portland; Kyle Lowry, Toronto; Marcus Smart, Boston; Klay Thompson, Golden State Last year: Steven Adams -- 33% Which player is the best leader? 1. Damian Lillard, Portland -- 41% 2. Stephen Curry, Golden State -- 37% 3. LeBron James, L.A. Lakers -- 15% Also receiving votes: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee; Chris Paul, Oklahoma City Last year: LeBron James -- 30% Who is the most versatile player in the NBA? 1. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee -- 46% 2. LeBron James, L.A. Lakers -- 39% 3. Kawhi Leonard, LA Clippers -- 7% Also receiving votes: Paul George, LA Clippers; Nikola Jokic, Denver Last year: LeBron James -- 63% Which player has the best basketball IQ? 1. LeBron James, L.A. Lakers -- 64% 2. Nikola Jokic, Denver -- 11% 3. Chris Paul, Oklahoma City -- 7%     Rajon Rondo, L.A. Lakers -- 7% Also receiving votes: James Harden, Houston; Al Horford, Philadelphia; Andre Iguodala, Memphis Last year: LeBron James -- 70% Which player would you want taking a shot with the game on the line? 1. Stephen Curry, Golden State -- 44% 2. Kevin Durant, Brooklyn -- 11%     Damian Lillard, Portland -- 11%     Klay Thompson, Golden State -- 11% 5. Kyrie Irving, Brooklyn -- 7%     Kawhi Leonard, LA Clippers -- 7% Also receiving votes: James Harden, Houston; LeBron James, L.A. Lakers Last year: Kevin Durant -- 40% What rule (regarding play, Draft/Lottery, playoff format, etc.) most needs to change? 1. Playoff seeding (1-16) -- 18% 2. Draft (Better combine or more medical info) -- 11%     Draft Lottery -- 11%     Free agency (Before Draft or no moratorium) -- 11%     Schedule (Fewer games, no back-to-backs) -- 11% Also receiving votes: Conference realignment, Draft one-and-done rule, Eliminate tanking, Extra foul in overtime, FIBA goaltending, Increased control of G League players, Instant replay, Midseason tournament, No FGA for half-court heaves, Roster size, Tampering Last year: Playoff seeding – 18%.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 18th, 2019

Hall of Fame: Jack Sikma s reverse pivot clears lane to induction

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- When Jack Sikma officially enters the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Friday night (Saturday, PHL time), one of his presenters will be Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Which is a terrific example of game recognizing game. Or in this case, move recognizing move. Just as Abdul-Jabbar ranks as the NBA’s most prolific scorer and arguably its greatest player ever, so does his signature sky hook loom as the league’s most famous individual move. Most unstoppable, too, and for defenders, most deflating. Well, Sikma had a signature move of his own, one that helped elevate him from an NAIA program at Illinois Wesleyan to seven NBA All-Star appearances, a championship with the Seattle SuperSonics in 1979 and now to the brink of his craft’s highest honor. It was the reverse pivot or inside pivot, which were its names when it was an arcane maneuver used by a small number of big men, taught mostly at the sport’s lower levels. Once Sikma learned it in 1974, brought it with him to the NBA in 1977 and helped the Sonics reach The Finals as a rookie and win the championship a year later, though, it swiftly became known as his: The Sikma move. “It was just an experiment after my freshmen season,” Sikma said Thursday (Friday, PHL time) at the Hall, after being introduced at a news conference as one of the Class of 2019’s 12 honorees. Others being inducted this weekend: coach Bill Fitch; NBA stars Bobby Jones, Sidney Moncrief and Paul Westphal; as well as WNBA legend Teresa Weatherspoon. Longtime Warriors player, coach and executive Al Attles was elected as a contributor. NBA center and current Sacramento GM Vlade Divac was chosen by the international committee. Being honored posthumously are: guard Carl Braun, a star in the 1950s; and Chuck Cooper, the first black player drafted by an NBA team (Boston, 1950). Finally, there are two college team entries: the Wayland Baptist women’s teams from 1948-82 and the Tennessee A&I teams from 1957-59. Divergent paths, compelling stories all. Including the one about the slender, blond kid from Kankakee, Illinois, whose offensive game needed a makeover. “My college coach [Dennie Bridges] and I sat down and he said, ‘Jack, you’ve just got to be more effective in the post if you want to take the next step.’ I was a good shooter – I’d learned the game as a wing and grew late, so I was comfortable facing the basket. “He had a friend who suggested, ‘Hey, down in southern Illinois there are some coaches who do an inside pivot with their guys to face the hoop. It might create a little space for Jack.’ I was really thin – I just wanted to get dislodged from the defender.” Basically, Sikma choreographically held a mirror to the post-up moves of traditional centers of the time. Holding the ball with his back to the basket, rather than turning on his pivot foot to the outside and attacking over his shoulder, he would spin to the inside. That motion would set up him a few feet back, facing the hoop, allowing for a simple hop and shot. And then there's this priceless Hubie Brown interview, in which Sikma teaches the move:  “A lot of coaches would pooh-pooh it because you’re catching the ball in one spot and then you’re stepping three feet farther away from the basket,” Sikma said. “That’s not the concept of big-men play, right? But I’ve got to hand it to Coach. He said, ‘Jack, I think this is it.’ And I said, ‘I’m not uncomfortable with the pivot.’” Sikma went from averaging 15.4 points as a freshman to 20.3 as a sophomore, with his shots increasing from 14.5 per game to 17.9. By his senior season, he averaged 27.0 points. As Sikma honed it in the NBA, at 6-foot-11, he would hold the ball above his head with a high release point that gave him the option of flipping up his shot or faking, then powering inside. In 14 seasons, by Sikma’s count, he played against 15 Hall of Fame centers, including Abdul-Jabbar. So he wanted every edge he could get. “You didn’t know which way he was going to go with it,” said fellow inductee Bobby Jones, a Sikma contemporary known for his defensive prowess. “Most of the time he would go back and shoot that shot, but sometimes he would go forward and draw the contact. I was just sitting there thinking, with all the other [inductees], if I ever blocked his shot. And I don’t think I ever did.” Jones, at 6-foot-9, matched up with him early in Sikma’s career (when Sikma was cast as a power forward for Seattle). Later, Jones had to decide how much help to give the teammate guarding Sikma. “The only thing I could ever have done was maybe come from behind and get him,” Jones said. “But he was a pretty good passer too. To ever leave your man that much, there’s a danger there.” Opponents weren’t the only ones made uncomfortable by Sikma’s unusual tactic. “I know I surprised some of the officials because I got called for traveling a few times,” Sikma said. “And I said, ‘Nope, I’m not traveling. I’ve got my foot up in the air, I plant it and then I pivot on it. By stepping out, that creates the space.’ “So even though it was a long time ago, they had film. They checked it out and they realized it wasn’t a walk. But I got called two or three times doing it.” Sikma laughed, recalling chatty Sonics teammate Fred Brown pleading his case for him to some of the referees. “I’d get called and Fred was in the ref’s face, ‘That’s his move! That’s his move! It’s not a travel,” Sikma said. “Fred had seen it enough in practice and figured it out.” Sikma had another facet to his game with which current NBA fans might be more familiar: he was a protypical “stretch 5.” Said Sidney Moncrief, another 2019 Hall newcomer who played for Milwaukee before and after Sikma was traded there for his final five seasons: “People don’t remember this about Jack Sikma, but Don Nelson was the first coach who started emphasizing 3-point shots for big men. He put Jack on the perimeter to take the big men out of the lane so we could make plays.” Not unlike current Bucks center Brook Lopez, Sikma underwent a late-career transformation as a deep threat. In his first 11 seasons, Sikma took 68 3-pointers and made seven (10.3 percent). During his final three seasons – from age 33 to 35 – Sikma shot 550 times from behind the arc and made 196 (35.6 percent). Still, it’s the quick inside step about 10 feet from the hoop that puts Sikma in a select subset of Hall of Famers already enshrined and those who will be. Call it the Alcove of Famous Moves. Hakeem Olajuwon’s “Dream Shake,” Kevin McHale’s up-and-under, George Gervin’s finger roll, Dominique Wilkins’ double-pump reverse, Allen Iverson’s crossover, Dirk Nowitzki’s one-legged fadeaway and Abdul-Jabbar’s sky hook will be joined, in time, by James Harden’s step-back 3-pointer, Manu Ginobili’s Euro-step, LeBron James’ chase-down block and Steph Curry’s long range pull-up 3. Each became or has become a signature move. But that only matters if the idea works. “They made it look good, so it was effective,” Sikma said. “If I tried to do the sky hook, if I tried to do the up-and-under, you’d probably think, ‘Meh, that’s not such a good move.’ A lot of it has to do with how effective a person is doing it.” The 2019 Enshrinement Ceremony at Springfield’s Symphony Hall will air on NBA TV Friday (Saturday, PHL time) beginning at 6:30 p.m. ET. 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......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 6th, 2019

Player Movement: What teams have gained, lost this offseason

By John Schuhmann, NBA.com There's still a lot of work to be done before rosters are set for the 2019-20 season. Some teams (Charlotte, Utah) still have roster spots to fill. Other teams (Memphis, Washington) still have some roster trimming to do. There are about 25 two-way-contract slots that can be filled around the league. And it's certainly possible that players like Chris Paul and Andre Iguodala will be traded a second time before the end of the summer. But it's already been a season of change. At the start of training camp last September, 15 of the league's 30 teams rostered players who played at least 75 percent of the team's minutes in the previous season (2017-18). Right now -- midway through July -- only four teams are set to bring back players who played at least 75 percent of last season's minutes. Continuity Not every team has made big changes. The Denver Nuggets are set to return at least 12 of the 18 guys that played for them last season (the status of two-way, restricted free agent Brandon Goodwin is still in the air), along with Michael Porter Jr., who was with the team all season. The only players that have left the Nuggets -- Tyler Lydon, Trey Lyles and Isaiah Thomas -- played a total of eight minutes in the playoffs. Over the last three years, there has been a correlation between summer continuity and win increase the following season. But the correlation has been small. During that span, 33 teams have brought at least 75 percent of the previous season's minutes back, and only 15 of those 33 increased their win total. The highest individual return percentage of the stretch belonged to last season's Miami Heat, who brought back 97 percent of their minutes from 2017-18 ... and proceeded to win five fewer games. This summer, the two biggest winners in free agency -- the Brooklyn Nets and LA Clippers -- rank 24th and 26th, respectively, by this measure (as of Wednesday morning). And while the Nuggets have a young core that can improve on its second-place finish in the West, the Orlando Magic are bringing back an ensemble that won just 42 games in the Eastern Conference, and the San Antonio Spurs have an older group that was ousted by Denver in the first round, albeit in seven games. Gained and lost math Going forward, we'll be talking about totals gained or lost this summer. These were accumulated by non-rookies for any team last season. For example, in calculating the minutes that Indiana lost (and Milwaukee gained) with Wesley Matthews' departure, we're using all 2,091 minutes that Matthews played for Dallas and Indiana last season. That way, it's a more realistic measure of total production coming in and going out. In that regard, most teams have lost more '18-19 minutes than they've gained. In total, there are more than 230 players who were on rosters (with two-way contracts included) at the end of the season and are either on a new team (via free agency or trades) or remain unsigned. More than half of those players (about 120) have been replaced by other non-rookies. About 70 more have been replaced by rookies (including those on two-way contracts). As an example, here's the roster math for the Golden State Warriors: - LOST 11 non-rookies off their end-of-season roster - GAINED six non-rookies - ADDED three rookies - STILL HAVE one main roster spot and one two-way spot they can fill Minutes gained and lost The Warriors are one of 22 teams that have lost a group of players who played more minutes last season than the group of players that they've added. There are a few teams that have added a lot more '18-19 minutes to their roster. That group is led by the New York Knicks, who have added almost 12,000 '18-19 minutes while seeing almost 9,000 minutes exit. The Knicks have lost four guys - Mario Hezonja, DeAndre Jordan, Emmanuel Mudiay and Noah Vonleh - who played at least 1,000 minutes. They added seven, and all seven started at least 28 games last season. Of course, how many of those seven are difference makers is up for debate, as is the idea of whether the Knicks should have used at least some of their cap space to take on bad contracts -- often spiced up with future picks -- from other teams. The Nets lost as many players (6) who played at least 1,000 minutes last season as they gained. But they added four of the 31 2,000-minute players to have changed teams this summer, most notably in Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. Utah (3) is the only other team with more than two additions that played at least 2,000 minutes last season. The eight guys that Brooklyn brought in started a total of 363 games in '18-19, while the nine guys they lost started just 179. That's the biggest increase, with New York (+100) and Utah (+84) also seeing differentials of more than 82 games. The Sacramento Kings lost two guys that played at least 1,000 minutes last season, and one of those guys -- Alec Burks -- played only 127 minutes for the Kings. They added four 1,000-minute players, including two - Trevor Ariza and Cory Joseph -- that played more than 2,000 minutes last season. As noted above, the Nuggets lead the league in continuity, bringing back all 10 guys that played more than 1,120 minutes for them last season. But they've also added Jerami Grant, who played 2,612 minutes for the Oklahoma City Thunder. Though they've added more players (11, including four rookies) than they've lost (nine) and need to trim their roster between now and opening night, the Washington Wizards are set to see the biggest discrepancy in regard to '18-19 minutes. They've lost more than 11,000 (with Trevor Ariza, Jeff Green and Tomas Satoransky accounting for more than half of that total) and added less than 5,000. The group of players that the Wizards lost also started 208 more '18-19 games than the players added -- the biggest discrepancy in that regard. The Charlotte Hornets not only lost more than 1,000 '18-19 minutes in their Kemba Walker-Terry Rozier swap, they also lost three other guys - Jeremy Lamb, Shelvin Mack and Tony Parker - who played more than 1,000 minutes last season. There's a general consensus that the Indiana Pacers are in the "winners" category this summer, adding Malcolm Brogdon, Jeremy Lamb and T.J. Warren. But they also lost five guys (four of their five playoff starters plus Cory Joseph) to have played at least 2,000 minutes last season. The only other teams who lost more than two 2,000-minute players were the the Clippers (3), Oklahoma City Thunder (3) and Wizards (3). Still available Most '18-19 minutes among still-available free agents... - Justin Holiday - 2,607 - Iman Shumpert - 1,481 - Wayne Selden - 1,439 - Jeremy Lin - 1,436 - Shaquille Harrison - 1,430 In regard to minutes played last season, the top 18 available free agents are all perimeter players (unless you want to count Jonas Jerebko as an interior guy). Among available non-perimeter players, Dante Cunningham (928), Cheick Diallo (896) and Zaza Pachulia (878) are the guys who played the most minutes last season. It's all about shooting Putting the ball in the basket is the most important thing in the NBA, and every team is always on the hunt for more shooting. But in regard to '18-19 3-pointers, half of the league (15 teams) has lost more than it's gained. There are a few teams to have seen big increases, however. The Knicks added Reggie Bullock (148-for-393, 37.7 percent), Marcus Morris (146-for-389, 37.5 percent) and Wayne Ellington (138-for-372, 37.1 percent), though creating open shots for those guys might be an issue. None of the six players that the Kings have lost made more than 61 3-pointers last season. Ariza (145) is the big gain in that regard, but they also added Dewayne Dedmon, a big man who shot 38 percent on 217 attempts from beyond the arc. On the other end of the spectrum, it's the Hornets that lost the most 3s, with Walker having ranked fifth in the league in total makes. The Atlanta Hawks ranked fourth in the percentage of their shots that were 3-pointers, but traded Taurean Prince (39 percent on 315 attempts), lost Dedmon, haven't re-signed Vince Carter (39 percent on 316 attempts) and swapped Kent Bazemore (32 percent; 300 attempts) for Evan Turner (21 percent; 52 attempts). The Toronto Raptors, meanwhile, haven't really replaced two of the four guys who made more than 100 threes for them last season. Still available Most '18-19 3-pointers among still-available free agents... - Justin Holiday - 162-for-465 (34.8 percent) - Kyle Korver - 138-for-348 (39.7 percent) - Vince Carter - 123-for-316 (38.9 percent) - Iman Shumpert - 95-for-273 (34.8 percent) - Lance Stephenson - 73-for-197 (37.1 percent) J.R. Smith, waived by the Cavs on Monday (Tuesday, PHL time), made 143 threes (shooting 37.5 percent) in 2017-18, but played just 11 games last season. More notes - Eastern Conference - The Boston Celtics are one of three teams (Atlanta and Washington are the others) with a discrepancy of at least 300 between the steals + blocks registered by the non-rookies they've lost (503) and those registered by the non-rookies they've added (194). Swapping Al Horford (145 steals + blocks in 1,973 minutes) for Enes Kanter (58 in 1,639 minutes) obviously hurts. - The Chicago Bulls have seen the second biggest increase in 3-point percentage between the non-rookies they've added (36.9 percent) and the non-rookies they've lost (30.3 percent). Tomas Satoransky (39.5 percent on 162 attempts) was the big add in that regard. - The Cleveland Cavaliers are the only team that hasn't added a single player (via free agency or trade) that played last season, though they still have to add at least one player to their main roster. The only players they've added are the three guys they selected in the first round of the Draft and another rookie (Dean Wade) on a two-way contract. - The Detroit Pistons have had eight non-rookies leave (five have found new NBA teams, three haven't been re-signed) and have added only four. But the four they've added -- Tim Frazier, Markieff Morris, Derrick Rose and Tony Snell -- started the same number of games (60) and played just 11 more minutes in '18-19 as the eight that have left. They did add more scoring, with the four new guys having registered 436 more points than the eight guys on their way out. - As noted above, the Miami Heat led the league in continuity last summer, bringing back 97 percent of their minutes from '17-18. This year, with the retirement of Dwyane Wade and trades that sent Josh Richardson and Hassan Whiteside out, they're in the middle of the pack. In regard to out vs. in (Jimmy Butler and Meyers Leonard), they've lost total production, but have improved in regard to shooting and free throw rate. Only Denver, Brooklyn and Dallas have seen bigger increases in true shooting percentage from the non-rookies they've lost to the non-rookies they've added. - With the departure of Malcolm Brogdon, the Milwaukee Bucks lost some playmaking. Only the Magic (who didn't lose anybody from their playoff rotation) saw a bigger drop in in assist-turnover ratio from the non-rookies they lost (2.47) to the non-rookies they've gained (1.33). Tony Snell (traded to Detroit) had the fifth lowest turnover ratio (4.9 per 100 possessions) among 299 players that averaged at least 15 minutes in 40 games or more last season. - The Orlando Magic rank second in continuity, one of two teams (Dallas is the other) with nobody on their end-of-season roster having signed with (or been traded to) another team. But they've added one rotation piece by signing Al-Farouq Aminu, who represents the biggest jump in '18-19 rebounds between the non-rookies a team has added (610) and those they've lost or remain unsigned (195). The Magic were already a good rebounding team, ranking 11th in total rebounding percentage and third in defensive rebounding percentage last season. - The Philadelphia 76ers have seen the biggest discrepancy in '18-19 games played between the players they've lost (478) and the players they've added (223), though most of those lost games came from guys who weren't in their playoff rotation. More notes - Western Conference - The Dallas Mavericks have seen the second-biggest jump in effective field goal percentage (lower than only that of Denver) between the players they added (54.4 percent) and the players they've lost (47.3 percent) this summer. Swapping Trey Burke (48.2 percent) for Seth Curry (57.7 percent) goes a long way in that regard. The Mavs are also one of two teams (Orlando is the other) with nobody on their end-of-season roster having signed with (or been traded to) another team. - It remains to be seen how well James Harden and Russell Westbrook fit together and how much the Westbrook-for-Chris Paul swap hurts the Houston Rockets' defense. But we can say for certain that the Rockets got better in the rebounding department. - After ranking 28th in rebounding percentage (and 29th in defensive rebounding percentage) last season, they swapped Paul (who grabbed 7.0 percent of available boards while he was on the floor) for Westbrook (14.1 percent - highest among guards) and also added Tyson Chandler, who had a higher rebounding percentage (15.4 percent) than Nene (10.5 percent). - Good news for the team that ranked 29th in 3-point percentage last season: The non-rookies the Los Angeles Lakers have lost attempted 75 more 3-pointers than those they've gained. But the non-rookies they've gained made 34 more 3s than those they've lost. Among players that attempted at least 200 3-pointers last season and changed teams this season, Danny Green (45.5 percent) ranked first in 3-point percentage, while Quinn Cook (40.5 percent) ranked seventh. - The Memphis Grizzlies had a pretty motley rotation after making multiple trades at the deadline in February. And now they've seen the biggest roster more than any other team this summer, with 11 non-rookies leaving and nine coming in. They currently have guys that played for the Hawks, Warriors, Wolves, Pelicans, Suns, Raptors, Jazz and Wizards last season. - The six non-rookies that the Minnesota Timberwolves have added -- Jordan Bell, Treveon Graham, Jake Layman, Shabazz Napier, Noah Vonleh and Tyrone Wallance -- averaged just 6.3 points per game last season. That's the lowest mark for players added among the 29 teams that have added at least one non-rookie this summer. - In regard to vets, the New Orleans Pelicans have swapped interior players for perimeter players. The (five) non-rookies that they've added had 360 fewer '18-19 field goals, but 127 more 3-pointers than the (10) non-rookies that they've lost. Chicago is the other team with a loss in '18-19 field goals (-38) and a gain in '18-19 3-pointers (+47). - The Oklahoma City Thunder have seen the most '18-19 points walk out the door, with the six guys they've lost having scored 5,619 points last season. One thing they definitely gained in the Westbrook-Paul trade (if they keep Paul) was mid-range shooting. Paul has shot 48.9 percent from mid-range the last five seasons, the second best mark (behind only that of Kevin Durant) among 55 players with at least 1,000 mid-range attempts over that time. Westbrook (37.5 percent) ranks 52nd among the 55. - The 10 non-rookies that have left the Phoenix Suns (five that have found new NBA teams and five that haven't) racked up a cumulative plus-minus of minus-1,709 last season. None of the 10 had a positive plus-minus. The five non-rookies that they've added -- Aron Baynes, Jevon Carter, Frank Kaminsky, Ricky Rubio and Dario Saric -- had a cumulative plus-minus of plus-257. That's the league's biggest differential between players in vs. players out. - The Portland Trail Blazers improved their shooting by swapping Turner for Bazemore and Aminu (34.3 percent on 280 3-point attempts) for Anthony Tolliver (37.7 percent on 215), but are one of four teams - Brooklyn, Indiana and the Lakers are the others - that have lost six players who played at least 1,000 minutes in '18-19. They've added four. - As noted above, the San Antonio Spurs are near the top of the league in regard to continuity. But they've seen the biggest increase in free throw rate (FTA/FGA) between the non-rookies that they've gained (0.335) and the players they've lost (0.181). The pair of vets that they've added (having ranked 24th in free throw rate last season) includes DeMarre Carroll (0.421), who ranked eighth in free throw rate among non-bigs with at least 500 field goal attempts last season. - The Utah Jazz rank 13th in the percentage of '18-19 minutes they're set to bring back, but are one of five teams that have added at least 9,000 '18-19 minutes and lost at least 9,000 '18-19 minutes (when we include unsigned free agents). They parted ways with four of the eight guys that played at least 1,000 minutes for them last season, but all five of their additions - Bojan Bogdanovic, Mike Conley Jr., Ed Davis, Jeff Green and Emmanuel Mudiay - played at least 1,400 minutes. 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 NewsJul 18th, 2019

Leonard-George tandem turns Clippers into legit contender

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com At the moment of truth, Kawhi Leonard went against his persona and caused a shakeup that wasn’t so quiet after all. Quite stunning, actually, was the Friday (Saturday, PHL time) series of events that directly affected four teams, caused a major trade of unprecedented details, and influenced the NBA Finals MVP to sign a free agent contract with the Clippers and instantly turning a franchise without a banner into a hardcore contender. Get your first look at the NBA’s top Rookies during NBA Summer League LIVE on NBA League Pass! Leonard is now joined by Paul George, who finished third in the 2018-19 MVP balloting and who requested a trade from Oklahoma City at the 11th hour to essentially swap Russell Westbrook for Leonard. The Clippers are now bringing a pair of swingman who excel on both ends of the floor, giving them the sort of dynamic tandem that’s almost required to win a title these days. The price for George was steep — basically, the Clippers surrendered more for George than the Lakers did for Anthony Davis. They handed over a chunk of their future, with three unprotected first-round picks (2022, 2024 and 2026) belonging to the Clippers, a pair of coveted Heat first rounders (2021 unprotected and 2023 protected 1-14) that were owned by LA, and the option to swap first-rounders with the Clippers in 2023 and 2025. OKC also gets 20-year-old point guard Shai-Gilgeous Alexander and veteran shooter Danilo Gallinari. And so the Clippers drastically changed their personality in the span of a few years, replacing the “Lob City” era of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan with a feisty defensive club led by Kawhi, George, Pat Beverley and Montrezl Harrell. It’s also a team with three reputable scorers as well: Kawhi, George and Lou Williams. Imagine: The Clippers just upstaged the Lakers in an offseason where the Lakers added Davis to join LeBron James. Adding to the intrigue is the presence of Jerry West, the Laker Hall of Famer whose reign as general manager helped raise multiple banners, but whose touch as a consultant with the Clippers in this process is undeniable. Two summers ago when he joined the Clippers after serving the same role with the Warriors, it was West who persuaded the Clippers to trade Griffin, whom they just gave a maximum contract, to the Pistons. West believed Griffin’s best years were behind him and thought the Clippers would be better as a team with more salary cap flexibility going forward. Plus, West and GM Lawrence Frank traded Tobias Harris, the team’s leading scorer, to Philly at the February deadline rather than re-sign Harris this summer in free agency. All of this was done with the idea of signing an impact player in mind, and Leonard was that player and the Clippers’ top target over the last year. Leonard’s appeal to the Clippers was evident and easy to understand. He’s a player who can score 25 points and grab 7-8 rebounds and lock down his man on the other end of the floor. And of course, he just led the Raptors to a championship without being generously helped by a fellow superstar. Interestingly, Leonard had the option of having not just one, but two fellow superstars this summer had he chosen the Lakers. LeBron and Davis and Leonard would make for a championship favorite, especially when you add Kyle Kuzma to the mix. In the end, Leonard wanted to beat the Lakers, not join them. The Lakers still bring those three players, though, and will now garnish the team with minimum-waged players to fill out the roster. Already, Danny Green announced he’ll sign a two-year, $15 million deal with the Lakers, and Rajon Rondo is perhaps not far behind. Both the Lakers and Clippers could compete in the coming days for DeMarcus Cousins as well. The team harmed the most, at least in the immediate sense, is OKC. With the amount of top competitors in the West — Clippers, Lakers, Rockets, Nuggets, Jazz and Blazers among others — the Thunder likely will take a step back and could enter a semi-rebounding phase without George. Also: Could OKC be forced to part ways with Westbrook? The former MVP struggled at times last season and especially in the playoffs, and turns 31 in November, and is on a max contract. It’s not the type of atmosphere that fits Westbrook, who’ll soon enter his twilight. Thunder GM Sam Presti, if nothing else, has shown a willingness to do whatever it takes if it works for OKC. Lastly, there’s the Raptors, who must now go forward without their lone superstar. There are no other players on the level of Leonard that Toronto can chase this offseason. In addition, the core of their rotation is on expiring contracts — Marc Gasol, Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka. The Raptors will surely groom Pascal Siakam to take a lead role with Leonard gone, yet will face major decisions next summer as they attempt to reshape the team. All of this is because Leonard caused a domino effect that ultimately moved mountains. Something of this nature and this magnitude doesn’t happen often in the NBA and is never done virtually overnight, given the amount of pieces involved and teams who put their existence on hold while Leonard stretched his decision nearly a week since free agency began. Evidently there was a reason for that. He wanted the Clippers but only if they could add another major piece. When other options dried up — Jimmy Butler unexpectedly signing with Miami and Kevin Durant with Brooklyn, for instance — the Clippers had to go the trade route. And George had to be convinced by Kawhi to force a trade. And OKC had to agree to that, rather than risk going through a season with an unhappy player. When the Clippers coughed up a bevy for draft picks, that put the entire process in motion. And in the end, basketball in LA became the big winner. It would not be unusual or unexpected if the road to the next conference championship goes through Staples Center and gets decided by one of its two home teams. 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 NewsJul 6th, 2019

Film Study: Raptors ignore the non-shooters in Game 4

By John Schuhmann, NBA.com TORONTO -- In Game 4 of The Finals on Friday (Saturday, PHL time), the Toronto Raptors went back to the box-and-one defense - four guys in a zone and Fred VanVleet chasing Stephen Curry - that helped them come almost all the way back from 12 points down in the fourth quarter of Game 2. This time, the Raptors went to the box and one for just three possessions late in the third quarter. The Golden State Warriors scored just one point on those three possessions, but then Klay Thompson checked back into the game and the Raptors returned to their standard defense. Their standard defense is, technically, a man-to-man. But often, there's at least one Toronto defender playing zone and ignoring his assignment. And in Game 4, the Warriors being ignored weren't able to do anything about it. This was the ninth straight game that the Warriors played without Kevin Durant. And it was the one where his presence, at least on the offensive end of the floor, was missed the most. Over the previous eight games, the Warriors had scored 113.3 points per 100 possessions. They were better in their 11 playoff games with Durant (117.0 per 100), but 113.3 was still sufficiently efficient. Game 4 was the Warriors' worst offensive game of the postseason, though. They scored just 92 points on 95 possessions, a rate more than 10 points per 100 possessions worse than any of their previous 19 games. Even with both Curry and Thompson on the floor, the Warriors were held to just a point per possession (77 on 77). It's hard to think that a team with Curry and Thompson doesn't have enough shooting. And the pair combined to score 55 points in Game 4. But most of those 55 points did not come easy. And getting enough offensive production from elsewhere on the roster was even more difficult. Zoning up On the Warriors' very first possession of Game 4, Pascal Siakam left Andre Iguodala alone once he cleared out to the weak side. Siakam hung near the basket for a full 12 seconds before DeMarcus Cousins committed the first of the Warriors' 19 turnovers. For contrast, note how Siakam followed Klay Thompson on a similar action just three possessions later, when Danny Green left Draymond Green to help force another turnovers out of Cousins... In regard to Golden State perimeter players not with the ball, the Raptors chased Curry and Thompson, while ignoring Green, Iguodala, and Shaun Livingston. And it's hard to argue with the results, as the latter three shot a combined 1-for-8 from outside the paint. Brick city Livingston, of course, has attempted just five three-pointers (not including shots from the backcourt) over the last three years. Iguodala attempted six three's in Game 3, but is just 4-for-24 (17 percent) from beyond the arc since the start of the conference finals. And the 10-for-49 (20 percent) that Green has shot from three-point range in the playoffs is the worst mark among 71 players with at least 25 attempts. Green was given two wide-open looks from outside in the first half on Friday (Saturday, PHL time). The first came off an Iguodala drive when Siakam was ignoring him on the right wing. Danny Green could have rotated off of Curry to contest, but chose (wisely) to stay with his man. The second jumper for Green came when Siakam helped on a Curry drive, and it doesn't get much worse than a wide-open corner three off the side of the backboard... After that shot off the side of the backboard, Green didn't attempt another shot from outside the paint. Not only was he not making shots, he wasn't even threatening to take them. Midway through the third quarter, a quick-hitting Iguodala screen for Thompson drew two defenders to the shooter. Iguodala was open on his roll to the basket, but the Toronto defense collapsed, and the ball found its way back to Green at the top of the arc. Instead of shooting an open three himself, Green got the ball back to Iguodala, who had relocated to the left corner, doing his best Curry imitation. Alas, Iguodala's shot (with 12 seconds still on the shot clock) barely touched the rim... Notice that, after Thompson gave the ball up, Kawhi Leonard never left Thompson and VanVleet never left Curry. The screen option The Warriors have ways to take advantage of a defense that doesn't want to guard their non-shooters. On the possession following the Iguodala miss above, Siakam was sagging way off of Green, who was on the right wing... Green set two screens on Kyle Lowry, the second freeing Thompson for a catch-and-shoot three before Siakam could recover and contest... But there wasn't enough of that. And even if there was more, it puts a lot of stress on Thompson and Curry to keep moving until they get open, and when they do get open, make 25-foot shots at a high rate. There also weren't a lot of Curry/Green pick-and-rolls. According to Second Spectrum tracking, Curry used a Green screen only nine times in Game 4. The first resulted in a Curry hitting a step-back jumper over Leonard, but those nine plays resulted in only eight points for the Warriors. You could certainly argue that Curry's tank wasn't full after scoring 47 points in Game 3 (with 3 and 4 being the only games with just one day of rest in between). But according to Second Spectrum, Curry's average speed on offense in Game 4 (5.02 miles per hour) was faster than he averaged through his first 19 playoff games (4.79). The missing piece The Warriors can obviously be better offensively than they were on Friday (Saturday, PHL time). But Game 4 was a pretty desperate situation (33 of 34 teams to take a 3-1 lead in The Finals have gone on to win the championship), and they just couldn't summon up the offense they needed to keep up with the Raptors. The difference between having three shooting threats on the floor and having just two is huge, especially against a defensive team as good as the one the Warriors are facing in this series. Toronto has earned this 3-1 lead and there should be no implied asterisk should the Raptors win one of the next three games. But there's no denying that a big part of their success has been their ability to have smart and athletic defenders like Siakam and Leonard play off their primary assignments and help their guards defend the Warriors' remaining threats. Durant's status for Game 5 in Toronto on Monday (Tuesday, PHL time)) is unknown as of Sunday. If he remains out, the Raptors' defensive priorities remain clear. 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 NewsJun 9th, 2019

Raptors regain Finals lead, survive Curry flurry in Game 3

By Janie McCauley, Associated Press OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green and Kyle Lowry kept finding answers for every big shot by Stephen Curry and the beat-up Warriors, and the Toronto Raptors grabbed a pivotal road win in the NBA Finals by beating Golden State 123-109 on Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time) for a 2-1 series lead. Curry scored a playoff career-best 47 points to go with eight rebounds and seven assists, but couldn't do it all for the two-time defending champions, down starters Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson and key backup big man Kevon Looney because of injuries. Leonard scored 30 points, Lowry contributed 23 with five three-pointers and Green had 18 points with six triples after Pascal Siakam got the Raptors rolling early as Toronto shot 52.4% and made 17 from deep. Splash Brother Thompson missed his first career playoff game after straining his left hamstring late in Game 2, while Looney is out the rest of the series after a cartilage fracture on his right side near the collarbone that also happened Sunday (Monday, PHL time). Durant, a two-time reigning NBA Finals MVP, is still out because of a strained right calf. Golden State hopes to get healthier by Game 4 on Friday night (Saturday, PHL time) back at Oracle Arena. The Warriors trailed 96-83 going into the final quarter then Curry's three free throws at 10:37 made it a seven-point game before back-to-back baskets by Serge Ibaka. Siakam scored 18 points and established the momentum for Toronto from the tip, hitting his first three shots and setting a tone for a defensive effort that stayed solid without the foul problems that plagued the Raptors in Game 2. Golden State greatly missed not only Thompson's touch from outside but also his stifling defense. Raptors coach Nick Nurse challenged his team to produce more defensive stops in order to get out in transition — "make them miss more," he said. Ibaka produced six blocked shots in the effort. "We're at a point in the series we've got to get out and guard these dudes," Nurse said. Curry shot 14-for-31 including 6-of-14 on three's while making 13-of-14 free throws in his sixth career 40-point playoff performance. Nurse pulled out a box-and-one to try to stymie Curry in Golden State's 109-104 Game 2 win, then the Raptors made Curry's short-handed supporting cast try to beat them this time — and it sure worked. TIP-INS Raptors: All five Toronto starters scored in double digits and Fred VanVleet added 11 off the bench. ... The Raptors began 10-for-14 and scored 12 early points in the paint. .. Former Warriors G Patrick McCaw, who departed after last season in contract dispute, drew boos from the crowd when he checked into the game late in the first. Warriors: Curry's 17 first-quarter points matched his most in the period for the postseason. He also did so on April 27, 2014, against the Clippers. ... In the first half, Curry was 4-of-8 from three-point range, the rest of the Warriors just 1-for-11. ... Draymond Green's streak of double-doubles ended at a career-best six games. A 12th overall this postseason would match Denver's Nikola Jokic for most in the 2019 playoffs. ... Tim Hardaway from the Warriors' "Run TMC" era attended the game. WARRIORS INJURIES Durant went through extensive workouts both Tuesday and Wednesday (Wednesday and Thursday, PHL time) at the practice facility with the hope he would do some scrimmaging Thursday (Friday, PHL time). While the Warriors weren't scheduled for a regular practice Thursday (Friday, PHL time), coach Steve Kerr said some of the coaches and younger players might be called upon to give Durant the full-speed court work he still needs before being medically cleared to return. He missed his eighth straight game since the injury May 8 (May 9, PHL time) in Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals against the Rockets. Thompson was hurt in Game 2 on Sunday (Monday, PHL time) and was to be evaluated by the training staff before tipoff. He didn't end up warming up on the court. Thompson did some running and shooting earlier in the day but Kerr said the Warriors weren't going to play him "if there's risk" of further damage at this stage of the series. Thompson is averaging 19.5 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.1 assists this postseason, including 23.0 points through the first two finals games. He will have another full day to recover before Game 4. ORACLE OVERDUE The home fans waited 20 days between home playoff games with the long layoff after the Western Conference finals sweep of Portland then Golden State opening the finals in Toronto. It had been since Game 2 against the Trail Blazers on May 16 (May 17, PHL time) that the Warriors hosted — the second-longest lapse between home games since the current 16-game, four-round format was established in 1983. The Warriors hosted a Game 3 in the finals for the first time since winning the 1975 title, having begun at home in each of the previous four......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 6th, 2019

Film Study: Little room for Leonard to move in Game 2

By John Schuhmann, NBA.com OAKLAND -- The Golden State Warriors got what they needed out of their trip to Toronto. With their Game 2 victory, they took home-court advantage in The Finals from the Toronto Raptors as the series moves to Oakland for what could be the final two games at Oracle Arena. The Warriors are banged up. Kevon Looney is likely done for the season with a cartilage fracture in his chest, Klay Thompson is questionable for Game 3 with a strained left hamstring, and, as of Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time), Kevin Durant's will not play in Game 3. But the champs are 45-8 in playoff home games over the last five years and they were able to put together one of their best defensive games of the postseason on Sunday. After the Raptors scored 118 points on 97 possessions in Game 1 (their third-best offensive game of the postseason), the the Warriors held them to just 104 points on 101 possessions in Game 2. That was done with Toronto registering a playoff-high 23 second-chance points (so the Raptors scored just 81 points on their 101 initial offensive possessions). The Eastern Conference champions were bound for some regression. In Game 1, the Raptors shot a remarkable 15-for-23 (including 5-for-9 from three-point range) in the last six seconds of the shot clock, according to Second Spectrum tracking. That was unsustainable and, indeed, they shot just 5-for-20 (0-for-6 from three-point range) in the last six seconds of the shot clock in Game 2. If 43 shots in the last six seconds of the shot clock over two seems like a lot, well, it is. In the regular season, no team averaged more than 17.5 field goal attempts in the last six seconds. The Raptors averaged the fifth most, but that was just 14.3 per game. With better defenses and slower pace in the playoffs, that number was at 17.3 through the first three rounds. In this series, with the Raptors working their offense late into the clock even more, it's at 21.5 per game. While Toronto has 43 shots in the last six seconds of the shot clock, Golden State has just 16. On one hand, playing late in the clock slows the overall pace against an opponent that can hurt you in transition. In the regular season, the Warriors' effective field goal percentage of 64.2 percent in the first six seconds was the best mark for any team in any portion of the shot clock. On the other hand, playing late into the clock puts pressure on a team's offense. For every team in the league, effective field goal percentage is lowest in those last six seconds of the clock. In most instances, the Raptors would probably like to get something earlier in the clock. But getting a good shot early in a possession has proven to be difficult. The Raptors have been moving the ball. Their 330 passes in Game 2 were the most they've had in a game since the first round (if you don't count the 349 they had in their double-overtime win in Game 3 of the conference finals). But all those passes mean that Kawhi Leonard, the Raptors' best player and most efficient scorer, isn't getting his in-rhythm shots off the dribble, via pick-and-rolls or isolations. Leonard has been forced to give up the ball more than the Raptors would probably like. All eyes on Kawhi The Warriors have obviously been defending Leonard aggressively. The second defender on pick-and-rolls has generally stayed with Leonard until he has given up the ball. They've doubled him in the post and even sent a second defender at him before he can get into an isolation situation. When Leonard has managed to get into the paint, he's been met by a crowd of defenders. All that attention has resulted in a lot of trips to the line. He's drawn 22 fouls (nine more than any other player in the series) and, with 28 free throw attempts in two games, Leonard's free throw rate (FTA/FGA) in The Finals (0.824) is more than double his rate through the first three rounds (0.397). The attention should also result in some open shots just one or two passes away. But Leonard's teammates have attempted only 25 shots off his passes. That accounts for just 23 percent of the 108 shots his teammates have taken while he's been on the floor, a rate almost in line with his rate from the regular season (22 percent). For context, Giannis Antetokounmpo and LeBron James had rates of *42 percent and 51 percent in the regular season, respectively. * In case that last part was a little confusing, here's the math: Antetokounmpo's teammates took 3,184 shots while he was on the floor. Of those 3,184, 1,133 (42 percent) were off his passes. Leonard is one of the most complete players in the league, but playmaking is his shortcoming. When he had nine assists in Game 5 of the conference finals, it was a career high ... for both the regular season and playoffs (now 574 total games). A look at the film from Game 2 of this series can show us why a guy who has the ball as much as he does and who draws so much attention from opposing defenses is averaging less than four assists per game. It also shows us how the Raptors continue to get stuck in late-clock situations. Dribbling out of the double Leonard's reaction when he's double-teamed is often to dribble out of it. If he can attack quickly and get one defender to screen the other, he can get an open shot ... Leonard did the Michael Jordan trick of attacking the doubling big in the direction from which he came & having the big screen his own teammate. pic.twitter.com/fEVle6tXE4 — John Schuhmann (@johnschuhmann) May 10, 2019 Dribbling out of the double-team could also get him a better angle to make a pass or allow him to attack again, like he did in the second quarter on a play that led to an open Norman Powell three-pointer (with some help from Marc Gasol's screen on Andre Iguodala)... But often, the results aren't so great. Here's a first-quarter play where he dribbled out of a double team, couldn't get the ball to any of the teammates that popped open, and had to take a tough shot with one second left on the clock ... In the second quarter, after dribbling out of a double-team, he was unable to get the ball to an open Pascal Siakam on the baseline ... A couple of Leonard's five turnovers were a result of him driving too deep into a crowd. "I thought we hit an action and something would be there," Raptors coach Nick Nurse said after Game 2, "and they would cover it up with some help defense. Well, when there's help, there's got to be somebody else probably open on the other side of the floor, and I thought we kind of shot a few too many into multiple defenders or two defenders around the basket, where those probably should have been maybe swung to the other side." Unable to deliver Leonard's inability to get the ball to the open man on Sunday wasn't just about passing out of double-teams. Here was Leonard collapsing the Golden State defense with a drive and Kyle Lowry popping open on the left wing ... But Leonard didn't deliver the ball right away and by the time he got it to Lowry, the Raptors had lost the advantage they had gained from the paint attack ... Here was an opportunity to deliver a pick-and-roll pocket pass to a rolling Gasol for a four-on-three situation, with Klay Thompson trailing the play ... But Leonard couldn't make the pass (credit DeMarcus Cousins' defense to some extent), Thompson got back in the play, and Siakam was eventually smothered by Iguodala ... Bad spacing The Raptors' inability to take advantage of the attention paid to Leonard in Game 2 wasn't just about Leonard himself. There were also a few cases of bad spacing, where he was doubled and just didn't have sufficient outlets with which to make a play ... Example 1, which led to a turnover ... Example 2, which led to a Fred VanVleet miss from 3-point range ... Working off the ball Leonard still managed to work his way to 34 points in Game 2. Sometimes, the Warriors gave him a little space to operate. There were multiple occasions in which he bullied his way to the basket (see the Looney injury noted above). There were also a couple of nice off-ball cuts and duck-ins. A need to be better It's tough to nitpick Leonard's performance in these playoffs. He's averaged 30.9 points per game on a true shooting percentage of 62.3 percent (the fifth-best mark among players with at least 100 postseason field goal attempts). He has hit some huge shots and he has played some stifling defense himself. While he can save his team some precious seconds on a lot of these possessions by making better and quicker decisions, Leonard's teammates must ensure the floor is properly spaced around him. Furthermore, Nurse and his staff have to find ways to loosen up the Golden State defense, which will continue to make Leonard play in a crowd in Game 3 on Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time). 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 NewsJun 5th, 2019

Warriors miss Kevin Durant, but do they need him?

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com PORTLAND, Ore. — Along with the equipment, uniforms, basketballs and the confidence that comes with being up 2-0 in the Western Conference finals, the Warriors brought along another piece of cargo to Portland and it is the heaviest of them all. It didn’t come packed in luggage or a box; instead, it’s just wrapped in a hunch and tied with a question mark, and it is this: When do the Warriors start missing Kevin Durant? [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] The back-to-back champs are now 3-0 in these playoffs without their superstar and his aching calf. And 4-0 overall in games in which Durant didn’t finish. That probably says something about the Rockets, and so far about the Trail Blazers — two teams unable to exploit his absence. However, while the (bleeping) Giants — Steve Kerr’s description of his undermanned team — are honorably playing with a sense of urgency, they aren’t buying the notion that they don’t need Durant. It’s an easy trap to fall into, to believe the outside chatter that they’re better off without him. The next two games, both at Moda Center, will either feed that belief or destroy it. Yes, because the Blazers must beat the Warriors four out of five to advance, there’s little to no chance of them denying Golden State a fifth trip to the Finals regardless of whether Durant shows up in this series or not. And that’s good for the visitors, since Durant didn’t make the trip for Games 3 and 4. “There's no mental adjustment,” said Kerr. “You just play. You go out there with what you have, and this is our third game, 3 1/2 games, really without him, and so we're just trying to hold down the fort. Hopefully he continues to progress and he has made progress, but it's a little more serious than we thought at the very beginning. So we'll see where it all goes, but he's in there all day long getting treatment. He's done a great job of committing himself to that process.” There’s a thought that, even if Durant was 80 percent, the Warriors will keep him benched to prevent a chance of re-injury, and that’s a wise decision with wide-ranging ramifications. By protecting Durant’s best interest here in this free agent year, the Warriors score big points with him and his camp less than two months before Durant must make a decision on his future. That said, what are the Warriors doing right to remain unharmed by his absence? The easy answer is they won championships without Durant and so this is more of the same-old, same-old. Except it isn’t. This actually might be more impressive. Understand that Golden State's system had to be changed here on the fly and in the middle of the postseason, not only to compensate for Durant’s 37 points per game in these playoffs, but also his defense. Once Durant was lost late in the third quarter of the fifth game of the second round, Kerr had to reach down his bench and rely on players who weren’t thrust into roles of significance and seldom saw fourth-quarter minutes up until this point. Meaning, Jonas Jerebko, Quinn Cook, Kevon Looney, Jordan Bell and Alfonzo McKinnie have either seen their minutes rise and/or their roles inflated in the process. Of course, most of the burden fell on the proven core: Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala. Each of those four, in his own way, is playing at a premium, even if it’s a small sample size. “That’s what it takes in the playoffs," said Kerr. "You have to have guys playing at a really high level.” Curry seems reborn or at least sprung free of a playoff fog where his numbers and production didn’t match his regular season. He finished strong in a pair of fourth quarters while closing out the Rockets and is the most impactful player in this series so far. He’s averaging 35 points on 51 percent shooting in the three games without KD. It wouldn’t be a stretch to suspect Curry is getting a charge out of this, and his ego, which he keeps hidden, is being fed. Thompson is now clearly the second option, whereas before he was often No. 3 and often only if his shot was falling. The green light never turns yellow without Durant around, like Curry, Thompson is working without handcuffs or a leash. After hitting 20 shot attempts once in the playoffs before Durant’s injury, Thompson is now hoisting 22 a game, good for a respectable 25-point average. The Warriors are constantly feeding him and running screens for him and urging him to take the shot, even if it’s contested. For a player who insists he’ll re-sign with Golden State this summer, Thompson is getting a taste of what life must be like if he played for, let’s say, the Clippers and was the focal point of the offense. “This team's been together a long time and they trust each other,” said Kerr. “When the ball starts moving, that's when we're tough to guard.” Green has never been better this season than in the last few weeks. Recharged after losing weight immediately following the All-Star break and no longer feeling pain in his previously-injured shoulder, Green is menacing on the defensive end where once again he’s guarding all positions except point guard and doing it marvelously. In addition, he’s pushing the ball up court to help Curry and Thompson stay as fresh as possible and directing the offense from the high post. He’s averaging 10 rebounds, 6.5 assists and three blocks without KD. “You know, we can't sit and look over our shoulder and say, `Hey, man, when is K going to be back?’ We just got to play with whatever we got,” Green said. “We got to play and give him an opportunity to get back, and I think that's what really falls on our shoulders. We're a very confident group. Hopefully he's back sooner than later, but as a guy who is in the battle every night, we can't sit and look over our shoulder and wonder when he or DeMarcus [Cousins] is coming back. We have to assume they are not coming back and play with what we got. Obviously, we are hoping that they do. But while they are not out there, we just got to play.” Finally, there’s Iguodala. He stayed hibernated all regular season while averaging career lows across the board. At age 35, it appeared time had finally caught up. Instead, this was a case of a crafty veteran preserving himself for springtime, and with the amount of talent on the Warriors, he could afford to do so. Iguodala had solid moments guarding James Harden in the second round and is among those trapping Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum this round. One of the signature plays of the series was Iguodala coming up with a walk-off strip of Lillard as time expired in Game 2. “You're kind of in awe of it because not many guys can make plays like that consistently,” said Curry. So this is where the Warriors are without Durant and also DeMarcus Cousins. They were good enough to stump the Rockets (again), then proved too much for the Blazers in a pair of home games. Nobody would be shocked if they take a game in Portland or maybe finish the sweep. It’s a luxury that few teams have or could pull off even if they did. This comes from a core that’s been together for six years, a coach pulling the proper strings and a bench that isn’t shrinking in the moment. “We feel like we can still win no matter who is out there on the floor, and that's why we're in the position that we’re in and have won championships with all the injuries and all types of stuff,” said Curry. “We know what the mission is, and we're on it right now.” These Warriors are playing flashback basketball to the time before Durant came aboard — and prepping themselves for next season, when and if Durant jumps overboard this summer. 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 NewsMay 18th, 2019

Curry, Lillard battle for NBA supremacy, Oakland s affection

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com OAKLAND — He arrived at the Western Conference finals wearing the jersey of the Oakland A’s, who play right next door at the Coliseum, just a five-minute drive from where he was born. Damian Lillard paused and signed a few autographs before entering Oracle Arena, because he is a man of the people, and these are his people. None of them mention that, in their hearts, they’re rooting for him to lose this playoff series, and so it goes unspoken, a truce in a sense. For this fleeting moment, they’re Lillard fans, until the ball goes up. And then it’s all for Steph Curry, all night long. There is a competition within the competition between the Warriors and Blazers, and it is the battle for the affection of Oakland. There is Lillard, the pride of the Brookfield Village neighborhood, who has blossomed into a bonafide star with the Blazers. And then there’s Curry, the symbol of a basketball renaissance here, who has raised the profile of Oakland the last several years. Now you see why The Town is a bit conflicted. A bit. [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] The conference championship may well hinge on the performance of these All-NBA guards. Game 1 was fairly lopsided, both in terms of the teams — Warriors 116, Blazers 94 — and the two principles. Lillard struggled Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time) and appeared whipped, physically if not mentally, no doubt from a grueling seven-game second round that just wrapped up 48 hours earlier. He missed 8-of-12 shots, had seven turnovers and, in a rarity for him, he was a non-factor for Portland. He’s a combined 7-for-29 in his last two games. Meanwhile, Curry rolled, dropping 36 points and the Blazers along with them. And so, this is the verdict: Portland cannot hope to stretch this series beyond four games, five tops, without the max from Lillard. He obviously means that much. And Curry, now working without the comforts of his injured co-star Kevin Durant for the second straight game, and maybe without Durant for another two games, needs to keep his skills elevated to prevent suspense from encroaching on the series. The Warriors are well aware of what Lillard has done to them in the past; he has averaged more points against the hometown team (27.0) than any in his career likely because of provincial pride. Yet Golden State is also aware that he has yet to beat them in any game or series of significance. “He’s one of the best guards in this league and carries a chip on his shoulder and it has (worked) well for him in his career,” said Draymond Green. “A special talent. I know he’s excited to be back home playing in the last year at Oracle. So it’s special for him but it don’t mean nothing to us. We’ve got to come out here and try to stop him. A tall task.” While the East Bay has given birth to its share of NBA stars, with Bill Russell, Jason Kidd and Gary Payton among them, Lillard is still freshly active and refreshingly loyal. The connection between him and Oakland remains unwavering despite fame and distance and the fact it’s his job and desire to shock the world in the next few weeks. He played at St. Joseph Notre Dame in Alameda and then finished at Oakland High, and a thick section of fans at Oracle Wednesday were wrapped in Blazers gear and made their preference clear. Most were either from the old neighborhood or family members. His high school coach, Damon Jones, is a Warriors season ticket holder, and Jones said: “Nobody bought me a drink tonight.” The coach added, playfully: “They gave me a hard time. When the Warriors scored, they wanted to turn around and slap five but then caught themselves at the last minute.” Jones remembers Lillard as being a promising and quick guard who picked up the nuances of the game rapidly. “He was very personable for someone his age, a solid teammate,” Jones said. “He still keeps in touch with all of his former teammates. It’s a brotherhood and he’s the leader. He’s always trying to be a positive influence on everyone around here.” Lillard returns every summer to give away backpacks with school supplies and funded the renovation of the Oakland High gym. He’s a familiar sight around town in the offseason and always approachable, and that loyalty and devotion doesn’t go unnoticed. “People here respect him,” said Raymond Young, Lillard’s AAU coach. “When he comes here to play, people here say they’re going to clap for Damian but cheer for the Warriors. Only he can get that kind of reaction. His loyalty comes from his family. His mother and father were no-problem parents. They let us coach him. He was a joy to be around. Still is.” Lillard is even more endearing because he comes from humble beginnings and is self-made. Both of his youth coaches are admittedly shocked by his impact in the NBA. He wound up at Weber State. He wasn’t highly recruited by the big schools. Even nearby Cal-Berkeley came late. “But if he goes there,” said Young, “does all this happen?” Lillard is revered in another place as well. Portland is also smitten by his loyalty; in an age of transient stars, Lillard has never wanted to play anywhere else. Perhaps this has cost him some visibility, with a majority of his games tipping off at 10:30 ET. It’s a price he’s more than willing to pay. Lillard has never taken a team this deep into the playoffs, where legends and reputations are made, and so being in the conference finals represents some new and deserved shine for him. A layer of that invisibility was peeled off in these playoffs where Lillard has come up massive. His shot from nearly 40 feet that eliminated Oklahoma City in the first round, and the bye-bye wave reaction, became iconic. Then he followed up with a strong second round as well against the Nuggets, although as that series crept to the conclusion, Lillard shot just 3-for-17 in that Game 7, then followed up with a 4-for-12 Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time), proof that he might be gassed — and also that the Warriors cooked up a defensive game plan specifically for him. “Obviously it’s a little bit difficult physically and emotionally just because you’re excited about being in the Western Conference finals,” said Lillard. “You come straight here form Denver and get ready for the best team in the league. But once we lace our shoes and put our uniforms on, it’s fair and square. You got to go out there and handle your business. "They did a good job defensively and even when I was trying to find (teammates), they were getting deflections. They were making me play in a crowd. I thought they were successful at that … in this first game.” But his toughest task of all might be upstaging Curry, particularly here in Oakland. While Lillard has flourished through much of the postseason, Curry by comparison has been mild, especially by his standards. The missed layups, a famously flubbed dunk attempt and sporadic three-point shooting was unsightly. And then, after Durant limped off the floor, Curry felt a sense of urgency and a flush of greatness. He buried the Rockets with a pair of epic fourth quarters, then kept the faucet running Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time). The Blazers couldn’t limit or at least slow him anywhere on the floor, especially from the three-point line, where Curry was a sizzling 9-for-15. And no missed layups. In his last six quarters of basketball, Curry has scored 69 points with 13-for-24 shooting on 3s. “I know what I’m capable of doing on the floor," Curry said, "and the situation calls for me to be more aggressive and hopefully that will continue. It’s nice to see the ball go in. I want to maintain that. I didn’t shoot well for 4.5 games the last series. Every game is different. You have to reestablish yourself and that’s my perspective no matter how I play.” Curry didn’t arrive wearing the baseball jersey of the home team, and if anything has been spotted at San Franciso Giants games across the Bay, where the Warriors will call home starting next season. But don’t get anything twisted. Curry’s bond with Oakland, developed over time, is genuine and real for someone born and bred a country away in Charlotte, and the feeling is mutual. The tug of war for the heartstrings of Oakland is subtle between the pair of franchise players on the floor in this playoff series. Call it a draw from the standpoint of whom the fans here respect and appreciate. There’s enough love to be shared by both. Yet in the basketball sense, this series is on the verge of being owned by the one wearing the jersey that reps Oakland. Curry has more momentum and better teammates, and Durant is on deck. Oakland, therefore, will indeed cheer for one of its own, for Damian Lillard. But the way this series and these playoffs are going, The Town is anxious to pop bottles with Steph Curry once again, at the usual place and time, for one last time. 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 NewsMay 15th, 2019

Nuggets put Blazers on the ropes with series-shifting Game 5 rout

By Sekou Smith, NBA.com DENVER — Two points separated the Denver Nuggets and Portland Trail Blazers after the first four, grueling games of these Western Conference semifinals. They piled up the same number of three-pointers and free throws as well. The games were that good, that tight, and the difference between the two teams was negligible at best. Then Tuesday night (Wednesday, PHL time) happened. Paul Millsap happened. Nikola Jokic happened. Jamal Murray happened. The manifestation of a Nuggets team that’s been dancing with a destiny that leads to the Western Conference finals, finally happened. Their 124-98 rout of the Trail Blazers in Game 5 at Pepsi Center was the sort of declaration Nuggets coach Michael Malone has been predicting for his team since they were locked into a back-and-forth struggle with the San Antonio Spurs in the first round. [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] They evened the series Sunday (Monday, PHL time) in Portland, showing mettle beyond their years by snapping the Trail Blazers’ 12-game home winning streak that dated back to the regular season, with an inspired effort to stave off the certain doom of a 3-1 deficit. Tuesday night’s (Wednesday, PHL time) salvo was a seismic shift in the opposite direction. The Nuggets’ biggest lead was 31 points and their intentions were plain for everyone to see. Millsap roasted the Blazers for 24 points and eight rebounds, dominating while being featured more and executing his considerable advantage in small-ball situations. “The best thing about Paul Millsap is he’s true to himself, he never tries to be something he’s not,” Malone said. “He’s not a rah-rah guy, he’s not a guy that’s going to be screaming and yelling. But I think his calm demeanor has an effect on our group. Young team going through all of this for the first time and when you can look to a four-time All-Star with 90 playoff games under his belt, that’s reassuring. He’s kind of the calm for our team and I think that has a tremendous impact on all of our young players.” Two in particular during this postseason and this series, to be sure. Jokic led the way with 25 points, 19 rebounds and six assists before fouling out late, leaving little doubt as to who deserves to wear the crown as the best big man in the league right now. Murray was splendid again, with 18 points and nine assists, while his backcourt mate Gary Harris chipped in with 16 points and six rebounds. Will Barton and Malik Beasley scored 10 points each off the bench, leading a 33-point bench scoring effort that will need to travel back to Portland for Thursday’s (Friday, PHL time) Game 6 if the Nuggets have any chance of winning three straight and ending this series in six games. “We know going to Portland for Game 6 is going to be really tough,” Malone said, referencing his team’s Game 6 struggles in the first round. “Game 6 in San Antonio, we did not come ready to play, mentally or physically. I hope that we have a much different mindset going in to Portland for Game 6.” The Blazers have some serious tweaking to do, in a short amount of time, as well. Their starters didn’t even play in the fourth quarter, Terry Stotts acknowledging that the 30-point hole his team was fighting out of might have been too large, given the circumstances. And the need to preserve the energy of Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum and the crew for what sets up as their biggest game of the season was obvious. “At this point, it’s one game at a time facing elimination,” Lillard said. “We know that we’re more than capable of getting it done in the next game. We don’t feel like we’ve played our best basketball yet, and with our back against the wall, we don’t really have a choice. Our mindset is to just get to the next one, take care of home and make it back here.” Stotts has adjustments to make before Thursday night (Friday, PHL time) as well, after the Nuggets bludgeoned his team in the paint for a 66-44 scoring advantage, while also outrebounding them 62-44. The decision to switch Enes Kanter’s primary defensive assignment from Jokic to Millsap Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time), with Al-Farouq Aminu being tasked to try and contain the much bigger Jokic, backfired as Millsap went to work immediately on Kanter. “They just played harder than us,” Kanter said. “I think that was probably … even the coach said, probably this was our worst basketball the last six weeks. Shots didn’t fall in, on defense we weren’t really communicating with each other, we didn’t really trust each other. We’ve just got to learn from this and just go home and take care of home, because right now, that’s the most important game of the year.” The atmosphere Thursday night (Friday, PHL time) at Moda Center promises to be electric. The Blazers have long enjoyed one of the best home atmospheres in the league. But will it serve as the advantage it has in the past when the Nuggets are fresh off two straight huge wins in this series, the first on that floor? “We have two must-wins,” Stotts said. “Somebody was going to have a must-win after tonight and it’s us. So we have two must-wins ahead of us.” That four-overtime loss in Game 3 Friday night (Saturday, PHL time) could have been the emotional breaking point for the Nuggets. It wasn’t. A school shooting Tuesday morning (late Tuesday, PHL time) in a Denver suburb where Malone lives with his wife and daughters rattled the coach and an entire community. That sort of life-altering event could easily have sidetracked Malone and his team. They persevered. The Nuggets were locked in from the start. When it became clear that the Blazers weren’t going to be able to keep up the pace, they kept pushing until the final buzzer. They understand the opportunity staring them in the face; a conference finals date with the two-time reigning champion Golden State Warriors or Houston Rockets, who are tied 2-2 heading into Game 5 Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time) at Oracle Arena. It’s a wild shift for a team that failed to play its way into the playoffs last year on the final night of the regular season, only to rebound and earn the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference playoff chase this season. If the atmosphere for Game 4 or even Game 5 seemed overwhelming, Thursday night (Friday, PHL time) promises to be otherworldly for both of these teams that were previously separated by so little. 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 NewsMay 8th, 2019

Harden, Durant both covet championship, mantle of best player

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com Houston -- Steve Kerr’s mind is made up. He’s seen enough. The debate is closed and conquered, the election over and the firm conclusion has been reached, at least from where he stands. Kevin Durant “is the best player in the world, the most skilled player in the world” according to Kerr, who may be biased, but he didn’t sound like it. Kerr said this not once, but four times in the last two weeks, just in case someone didn’t get the message. [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] It’s hard to see where the Warriors’ coach is going wrong. Durant is evidently on a mission to (a) win his third and perhaps final championship with the Warriors, and (1-a) become universally recognized as the singularly greatest force in the league, a distinction that means so much to him. To paraphrase Durant, y’all know who he is by now. Durant is sitting at the mythical 50-40-90 threshold in the playoffs, the benchmark for shooting accuracy and efficiency from the floor, three-point range and free-throw line. He’s averaging 35 points in the postseason, 39 in the last seven games. He has two near-masterpieces, the 50-point closeout of the Clippers in the first round and 46 on the Rockets in Game 3 of this series. He’s making contested jumpers from all over the floor and from all angles. There’s really no defense for him. But when this series is over, James Harden hopes to change the conversation. If he does, that means (a) the Rockets will pull off a stunning comeback from being down two games, and (b) Harden out-dueled Durant in the process. Is either possible? Well, Harden might be the only player qualified to do so, even with a left eye that still looks like the Japanese flag. He managed to minimize if not eliminate that poked eye by chopping down the Warriors and pulling the Rockets within 2-1 of the series. “I was just being aggressive,” he said. “I was in attack mode.” He’s attacking something else. Harden, too, wants exactly the same as his friend and former Oklahoma City teammate. A championship would be his first, so obviously that’s paramount. The mantle of “game’s greatest player” is also desired because Harden believes the last four years bear that out. In that span, he won the MVP award and finished runner-up twice, better than anyone. Of course, the missing prize is the championship, which is the final and most authentic validation, and this season at least he must go through Durant to achieve that. Harden’s postseason hasn’t been as stellar as Durant’s, although perhaps Game 3 marked a shift. Harden scored 41 points and sent the Warriors home on a step-back three-pointer in the final seconds of overtime. He and the Rockets are bringing a fresh sense of confidence and also have Game 4 in their house. Sending this series all square back to Oakland wouldn’t be beyond his or their abilities. “In `Harden World,’ that was good, but he can play better,” said Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni. “That’s James. That’s what he does.” There’s a growing sense among the Warriors, and with some justification, that Harden’s bloody eye is no longer an issue. Harden’s vision was pure when it counted two nights ago and every day brings him a step closer to normalcy, if he isn’t already there. “I think he’s good to go,” said D’Antoni. The other concern for Golden State: Harden’s beginning to figure out the rotations and the Warriors’ defensive scheme. They know Harden adapts quickly to defenders and their tendencies because, at this point, he’s seen it all. Harden is a tough cover because of his shooting range and unwillingness to lose confidence after a string of misses, and his craftiness off the dribble while attacking the rim. “He had 41 points and it was a good chess game,” said Andre Iguodala. “He made some really tough shots. Some shots, where you pat him on the butt, and you say ‘helluva shot’. I felt like it was a little bit of cat and mouse. A guy like that -- you can’t stop him one on one. The defense did a good job of helping off and stopping him. We just have to try to make it hard as possible for him.” The nightmare game for the Warriors is Harden hitting enough early baskets and forcing them to double, then finding teammates for open looks that they make, such as Eric Gordon. In that scenario, points would come in an avalanche and place stress on the defense and possibly get key players into foul trouble, most notably Draymond Green and a suddenly-foul-prone Steph Curry. There’s also an intriguing subplot in the works: The Harden-Durant can-you-top-this drama. With Curry and Chris Paul both performing below their standards in this series, the series seems fixated on Harden and Durant and  what they’re capable of doing to the other team and, by extension, against each other. There’s a genuine and hefty amount of respect between the two, who are friends away from the floor as well. Both left OKC and have since generated millions in endorsement money and find themselves near or at the top of the superstar pecking order. Durant has what Harden doesn’t, a championship. But perhaps Harden has what Durant craves, a team to call his own. That would be the only reason Durant leaves the Warriors in free agency this summer, because it’s difficult to imagine him signing with a team that offers a better chance to win championships or make more in salary than the one he’s already on. Durant earned more points with Harden a few days ago when he defended the Rockets guard, saying Harden doesn’t “cheat the rules” when he tries to draw fouls and manipulate the referees. Durant added: “He can do everything. If you’re not focused, he can drive past you, hit you with the shoulder because he’s strong, and finish with either hand. He can shoot floaters now. Obviously the step-back 3-pointer is one of his staples, but I never believed he was just a free throw guy. He can score in a variety of ways.” Harden must prove that in this series. Last season in the Western Conference finals, he turned to vapor as that series stretched seven games. He made just 24 percent from deep and, after Paul suffered a hamstring pull in Game Five, couldn’t handle the load. In the elimination game, he missed 11-of-13 from deep. Durant, meanwhile, was the star and weeks later would clinch another title and Finals MVP award, outplaying LeBron James in the process. So Kerr’s contention about Durant has much weight and credibility. Through three games of this second-round series, there’s been no reason to question the coach’s claim. Only one person can flip that perception and create doubt. James Harden, therefore, has a tough job ahead. 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 NewsMay 6th, 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

Nets trip Bucks, Warriors stun Lakers on Martin Luther King Jr. Day

    NEW YORK (AFP) – James Harden scored 34 points and Kevin Durant’s 30 included the go-ahead three-pointer in the final minute as the NBA’s new-look Brooklyn Nets beat the Milwaukee Bucks, 125-123, on Monday. Harden, playing his second game for Brooklyn since arriving in a blockbuster trade from the Houston Rockets, added 12 […].....»»

Category: newsSource:  tempoRelated NewsJan 19th, 2021

Rockets win in Harden return, Kings foil Warriors comeback in preseason games

Harden, who has been requesting a trade from the Rockets, scored 12 points in 21 minutes of playing time......»»

Category: sportsSource:  philstarRelated NewsDec 16th, 2020

Heat oust depleted Bucks to reach NBA East finals; Lakers down Rockets, up 2-1

Jimmy Butler #22 of the Miami Heat drives to the basket against the Milwaukee Bucks during Game Five of the Eastern Conference semifinals of the NBA Playoffs on September 8, 2020 at The Field House in Orlando, Florida. (Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images/AFP) MIAMI (AFP) — The Miami Heat punched their ticket to the NBA Eastern Conference finals Tuesday, beating top-seeded Milwaukee 103-94 as injured Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo watched from the bench. Jimmy Butler and Goran Dragic finished with 17 points apiece as six Heat players scored in double figures and Miami completed a 4-1 series victory in a bruising encounter against the league’s top defensive team. Khris Middleton led the Bucks with 23 points. Antetokounmpo — tipped to scoop a second straight NBA Most Valuable Player award this season — aggravated his sprained right ankle in the first half of the Bucks’ game-four overtime victory over the Heat. The Bucks declared him inactive less than an hour before tipoff on Tuesday. The loss of Antetokounmpo, who averaged career highs of 29.5 points and 13.6 rebounds per game this season, was a huge blow for the Bucks, as they tried to do what no NBA team has done before: come back from an 0-3 deficit to win a seven-game playoff series. It’s the second straight campaign that the Bucks built the best regular-season record only to come up short in the playoffs. In 2019 they fell to the eventual champion Toronto Raptors in six games in the Eastern Conference finals. The fifth-seeded Heat will face either the Boston Celtics or Toronto Raptors for a place in the NBA Finals. The Celtics lead their series against the defending NBA champion Raptors three games to two. Butler, who added 10 rebounds and six assists and was a perfect eight-for-eight from the foul line, said the Heat’s impressive 8-1 record so far in the playoffs means nothing now. “All of that is behind us now,” he said. “We’ll wait and see who we get out of Toronto and Boston and then we’ll lock in on that. “But it’s zero-zero now, we’ve got eight more to get.” The Heat trailed 28-19 after a chaotic first quarter in which they committed six turnovers leading to nine Bucks points. They trailed by as many as 13 in the first period, but settled down in the second, out-scoring the Bucks 33-18 to take a 52-46 lead into halftime. But Milwaukee, with Middleton leading the way, refused to go away. After going scoreless for more than six minutes in the third period the Bucks put together an 8-0 run to pull within five points. Trailing 73-65 going into the final period, the Bucks trimmed the deficit to four multiple times, but the Heat’s depth finally proved too much. “Obviously they missed their MVP,” Butler said. “But we knew we were going to have to get one out of the mud and I think this was the one.” Antetokounmpo said he felt “lost” as he was unable to contribute. “Mentally it was a battle, but at the end of the day you’ve got to trust your teammates and that’s what I decided to do,” he said after the Bucks medical staff persuaded him not to risk further injury by playing. LeBron leads Lakers LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers, left, drives the ball against Ben McLemore #16 of the Houston Rockets during the second quarter in Game Three of the Western Conference Second Round during the 2020 NBA Playoffs at AdventHealth Arena at the ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex on September 08, 2020 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. (AFP) In Western Conference action, LeBron James scored 36 points and Anthony Davis added 26 as the Los Angeles Lakers powered to the finish in a 112-102 victory over the Houston Rockets. The Lakers grabbed a 2-1 series lead and James notched an NBA record 162nd career playoff win. “It says that I’ve played with a lot of great teams,” said James, who won two NBA titles with the Miami Heat and one with the Cleveland Cavaliers. “It says that I’ve played with a lot of great teammates and some great coaches.” James Harden scored 33 points with nine rebounds and nine assists and Russell Westbrook added 30 points for Houston in a back and forth battle that saw 16 lead changes. The Lakers’ reserves scored 42 points, with Houston’s only points off the bench the 16 of Jeff Green. Rajon Rondo, who scored 21 off the bench for Los Angeles, hit back-to-back three-pointers and came up with a steal and layup as the Lakers surged ahead with a 17-5 scoring run to start the fourth quarter. After putting up 64 points in the first half Houston scored just 38 in the second and the Lakers posted their second straight win of the series. There was a frightening moment in the fourth quarter, as Robert Covington and Davis collided as Davis rose for a rebound. Davis’s elbow appeared to hit Covington in head and he left the court holding a bloodied towel to his face, while Davis was hurting from Covington’s elbow in his side......»»

Category: newsSource:  mb.com.phRelated NewsSep 9th, 2020

Harden block clinches series for Rockets, sets Lakers clash

James Harden's shooting touch deserted him, but the Houston star came up big on the defensive end in the Rockets' 104-102 series-clinching win over Oklahoma City in the NBA playoffs on Wednesday......»»

Category: sportsSource:  thestandardRelated NewsSep 3rd, 2020

Toronto s Nurse is most impressive coach says G League s Shaw

The 2018-2019 season was a milestone year for the Toronto Raptors. With Kawhi Leonard leading the way, the Raptors finished with 58 wins for their second-best regular season in franchise in history. In the playoffs, Toronto embarked on one of the most inspiring runs ever. The Raptors culminated their journey with a six-game conquest of the two-time champion Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals for their first NBA title. A lot of last season's success falls on the players led by Kawhi, but Toronto's championship win also coincided with Nick Nurse's first-year as head coach. This season, Kawhi is no longer a Raptor but Toronto retained the no. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs on the strength of their best regular season ever as a franchise. Toronto's success in 2020 makes Nurse's impact pretty evident. Despite losing their no. 1 star, Coach Nick still has the champion Raptors as arguably the team to beat in these years playoffs. "Hands down for me, the most impressive coaching job that I've seen this year was Nick Nurse and the Toronto Raptors. I was impressed last year in his rookie season as well," G League Select Team coach Brian Shaw said in an interview set up by NBA Philippines. "I think people expected for the Toronto Raptors to drop off because Kawhi Leonard is not there, but he had them playing competitively all season long. I still think they're the team to beat until somebody knocks them off," he added. Shaw says Nurse's genius lies behind his ability to cook up defenses to go against multiple teams and multiple star players. True enough, the Raptors are second in the NBA in defensive rating. Toronto is also no. 1 in steals among all teams in the NBA bubble. "I was impressed by his schemes, particularly defensively. Nick Nurse has shown the ability to take the other team's stars out of the game by using unconventional methods. I've seen games where he's played box-and-one, triangle-and-two, zone defense," Shaw said. "We know that whoever team's stars can beat you, what he does is throws the whole defense at those guys and see if the rest of the team can beat us. I think he's unique in that way, in some of the approaches he takes on the defensive end," Shaw added of Coach Nurse.   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 17th, 2020