Archive for April 23rd, 2010

Judging Flip Saunders as Wizards coach

Mike Jones of CSN Washington reports:

Judging Flip Saunders as Wizards coach

A winner everywhere he’s been, Saunders was supposed to come in and take the Wizards from the middle of the playoff pack to the ranks of the league’s elite. But, like his talented roster, he came up short. It’s difficult to give Saunders’ coaching this season a precise grade because there were so many derisive elements involved this season.  He – like his players – talked about the need to set egos aside and sacrifice for the greater good, but when things got going, Saunders couldn’t get the Wizards to play together.

Saunders was heralded as an offensive genius, but we never really saw him work his magic on the Wizards. Because he wanted to give Arenas, Butler, Jamison and Haywood time to get used to play together again, Saunders didn’t make them run much of his system. Over-estimating his players, he admittedly let them freestyle while they got back into the groove. But they never got there. The player that suffered the most was Butler, who often looked lost in the system. Was that because Saunders didn’t use him effectively, or was it a result of a lack of focus on Butler’s part, or his bad chemistry with Arenas?  It turned out not making Arenas play within a system was a terrible decision because he wasn’t capable of running the show and balancing scoring with distributing. And so, the Wizards’ never clicked.

How much of it was Saunders’ fault, though? With the agendas that the Wizards had, would the coach have had any success if he did direct them to play within his system? By December, Saunders was publically criticizing his players for terrible shot selection and not playing together, “In all my years of coaching…I have never had to yell at a player for taking bad shots…until this year,” said Saunders, who also stressed improved ball movement.

Lakers must keep feeding Gasol

Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times reports:

Lakers must keep feeding Gasol

It probably could be argued that Pau Gasol has been the best Laker in the postseason.

He had been averaging a double-double in the first two games, 22 points and 12.5 rebounds. He had been making 53.6% of his shots.

And yet, the Lakers went away from Gasol in the fourth quarter of their 101-96 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder Thursday night in Game 3 of the Western Conference first-round opener at the Ford Center.

“We tend to settle sometimes a little too much,” Gasol said. “We have to create penetration. We have to take advantage of our size.

Chris Dempsey of the Denver Post reports:

Deron Williams not afraid of being trapped

The new-look, super-trapping Nuggets were in EnergySolutions Arena this morning, going over last-minute preparations on their game plan for tonight’s Game 3.

The plan is simple: Don’t let Deron Williams go berserk.

To keep that from happening, the Nuggets are expected to press and trap Williams to get the ball out of his hands, forcing someone else to beat them.

Williams, however, shrugs off the Nuggets’ much-hyped new strategy, saying he and the Jazz can handle it.

“Just find the open guy,” Williams said. “If they want to trap me and take me out of the game, we have plenty of guys on this team that can score the basketball. Especially when it’ll be four-on-three, because two people are going to be on me.”

The San Antonio Spurs announced today that they have recalled guard/forward Alonzo Gee and guard Curtis Jerrells from the Austin Toros, the NBA Development League team owned and operated by the Spurs.

Gee, who was named D-League Rookie of the Year and All NBA D-League Second Team, appeared in 36 games for the Toros this season and averaged 21.0 points, 6.6 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 38.2 minutes. In six playoff games he averaged 21.3 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.16 blocks in 38.7 minutes.  Gee also appeared in 11 games for the Washington Wizards where he averaged 7.4 points and 2.9 rebounds in 16.5 minutes.

Jerrells appeared in 50 games this season with the Austin Toros and averaged 20.7 points, 4.5 rebounds and 5.7 assists in 40.2 minutes and was named All NBA D-League Third Team. He was selected as the NBA Development League Performer of the Week twice this season, most recently for games played during the week of March 15 when he averaged 32.7 points, 6.3 assists and 5.7 rebounds.  Jerrells also appeared in five preseason games for San Antonio, averaging 3.6 points and 1.8 assists in 14.8 minutes.

Ross Siler of the Salt Lake Tribune reports:

Kyle Korver steers Kyrylo Fesenko away from techno music

Kyle Korver confirmed he encouraged Kyrylo Fesenko to switch from listening to thumping European techno to something softer in the hopes it would help Fesenko better focus now that he’s starting at center in Mehmet Okur’s absence.

“I told him to chill out and find some new music,” Korver said. “Before the game, he’s like, ‘Kyle, I think I am too mellow right now. I need to get more excited.’ I was like, ‘Once the game starts, you’ll be fine, believe me.’ ”

Not only does Fesenko regularly play his techno at louder than loud volumes, he often sings along too, Korver said.

The AP reports:

David Stern is fed up with NBA coaches criticizing referees and said he would not back down from penalizing them. In fact, in his perfect world, he could impose steeper penalties.

“I wish I had it to do all over again, starting 20 years ago; I’d be suspending Phil and Pat Riley for the games they play in the media,” Stern said Thursday before the Lakers and Oklahoma City played Game 3 in their first-round series.

“As you guys know, our referees go out there and knock themselves out and do the best job they can. But we’ve got coaches who will do whatever it takes to try to work them publicly. What that does is erode fan confidence.

“So our coaches should be quiet because this is a good business that makes them good livings and supports a lot of families, and if they don’t like it they should go get a job someplace else.”

The AP reports:

Durant 29/19 game helps Thunder beat Lakers

Kevin Durant had 29 points and 19 rebounds, and snapped out of a shooting funk while guarding Bryant to lead the decisive run, lifting the Thunder to a 101-96 victory in Game 3 on Thursday night in the first playoff game in Oklahoma City…

Durant and Russell Westbrook scored 22 of the final 23 for the Thunder, including every point during a 10-2 surge that put Oklahoma City ahead to stay…

Bryant scored 24 points to surpass Jerry West’s franchise record for playoff scoring, and Pau Gasol had 17 points and 15 rebounds for Los Angeles.

But when it came down to crunch time, Bryant couldn’t deliver as he did in scoring 15 fourth-quarter points to seal the Lakers’ 95-92 victory in Game 2. He went 2 for 10 in the final 12 minutes, with Durant stopping between free throws at one point to motion to the bench that he wanted to guard the former MVP…

“That was the loudest I’ve ever heard a crowd get,” said James Harden, a rookie reserve who scored 18 points after going scoreless in Games 1 and 2.

The AP reports:

J-Rich scores 42, Suns beat Blazers 108-89

Jason Richardson made eight 3-pointers and finished with playoff career-high 42 points Thursday night in the Suns’ 108-89 victory over the Trail Blazers, which gave Phoenix a 2-1 lead in the first-round playoff series…

Richardson hit his first three late in the first half as the Suns built a lead that would extend to 31 points. He made 13-of-19 shots from the floor…

LaMarcus Aldridge led the Blazers with 17 points. Andre Miller, who scored 31 in Portland’s Game 1 win, was off for the second straight game and finished with just 11. And the home team was dismal from the free throw line, making just 16-of-28 attempts.

Amar’e Stoudemire had 20 points for the Suns, while Nash finished with 13 points and 10 assists. Richardson ended up the beneficiary.

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