Archive for December, 2016

Giannis

Antetokounmpo and Towns might be different players. But both represent where the NBA big man is going.

Antetokounmpo plays the point-forward position for the Bucks while Towns is more of a traditional big man in terms of his play in the post. But both can stretch the floor, score off the dribble and find their teammates. Towns had his first triple-double in Denver. Antetokounmpo has two triple doubles this season.

“I’m playing catch-up,’’ joked Towns.

Said Thibodeau: “I think you’re seeing that’s the way of the league, versatility. It’s hard to, or harder to, put a particular player in a particular box.’’

Now, the point-forward isn’t exactly new. Thibodeau threw out old-school names like Paul Pressey, the former Bucks player, as an example, and Oscar Robertson.

– Minneapolis Star Tribune

Quick Take: Giannis this season is averaging 23.4 ppg, 9.0 rpg, 5.9 apg, 2.0 spg and 1.8 bpg. Towns is putting up 22.0 ppg, 11.3 rpg, 2.8 apg, 0.6 spg and 1.4 bpg. Both are worth watching every night.

George Hill the second-leading scorer on Jazz

George Hill’s individual impact on the Jazz is obvious.

On a team that struggles to handle the ball, Hill’s low turnover rate is badly needed. On a team that craves perimeter scoring, the guard is dropping 20 points a night. And on a team that hasn’t defended opposing point guards very well, Hill is one of the NBA’s best in that category.

But for all of the things Hill brings the Jazz — he returned from a sprained toe in Thursday night’s win over the Philadelphia 76ers — the biggest boon Utah receives from his presence is arguably his ripple effect.

Things simply look easier for the Jazz this season when he is on the floor. The defense is whole. The offense looks more crisp, more lethal. And that’s something the Jazz have sorely needed. Yes, they treaded water for the last 13 games, and have even gained a bit of ground. But when Hill plays, the Jazz tend to overwhelm their opposition in spurts. And that’s exactly what happened during the fourth quarter of Thursday night’s win over Philadelphia.

– Salt Lake Tribune

Quick Take:  The Jazz are 20-13 this season and are tied with the Thunder for the 5th best record in the Western conference. Hill is the team’s second leading scorer, behind Gordon Hayward (22.3 ppg), though he’s averaging just 4.3 apg. Overall, they are a very solid squad with definite potential to keep rising.

Patrick Patterson feeling pain in knee

Patrick Patterson feeling pain in knee

The Raptors-Suns game was an abomination and there isn’t much to say about it. Best to forget it happened and move on to 2017.

But first, there’s the Patrick Patterson situation.

The player the Raptors could least afford to lose for any length of time is team MVP Kyle Lowry. After that, one could argue that Patterson would be the guy over DeMar DeRozan, since Norm Powell, Terrence Ross and Cory Joseph would be able to play more minutes and hold the fort. They’d still miss DeRozan quite a bit, but at least capable reinforcements would be around.

Patterson, of course, felt “sharp pain” in his knee during Thursday’s loss at Phoenix. That doesn’t mean panic should set in – he walked to the locker room under his own power – but with no updates likely coming until the weekend, we have to examine what his absence could mean to a squad aiming to top the Eastern Conference.

– Toronto Sun

Quick Take: This comment is more about the Raptors in general than the Patrick Patterson knee issue mentioned above, but: Toronto haven’t received enough praise for their season. They’re  22-10, which is the second best record in the East, and look like the biggest threat in the conference to keep the Cavs out of the 2017 Finals.

nba blog

Bucks guard Matthew Dellavedova injured his right hamstring in the team’s victory over the Detroit Pistons Wednesday and will miss the next two games, coach Jason Kidd said after the team’s shootaround Friday at the Target Center.

Kidd said rookie Malcolm Brogdon will start Friday against the Timberwolves, marking his first NBA start after coming off the bench in the Bucks’ first 30 games.

“I don’t think it’s a big deal,” Brogdon said of being in the starting lineup. “When someone goes down, the next man has to step up. Delly can’t be replaced (with) what he brings to the team, his unselfishness.

– Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Hawks giving away a 2 Chainz mixtape

The Atlanta Hawks and hip-hop artist 2 Chainz have announced plans to enhance the rapper’s December 30 appearance, revealing two new commemorative retail pieces and a 2 Chainz mixtape specially created for the night.

The first 5,000 guests to enter Philips Arena when the Hawks host the Detroit Pistons will receive a free copy of the exclusive music compilation.

“2 Chainz always makes a splash when he performs at our games, and this season he wants to provide Hawks fans an experience they won’t soon forget as we close 2016 with a bang,” said Hawks CEO Steve Koonin. “The energy and atmosphere will make Philips Arena the only place to be in Atlanta on Friday night.”

To mark the occasion, Chainz and his “CEO Millionaires” clothing line collaborated with the Hawks to create a team-themed hooded sweatshirt, and also developed a t-shirt featuring mascot Harry the Hawk performing the popular “Hit Dem Folks” dance.

Prior to tipoff on Friday, Chainz will continue his month-long campaign to give back to the community when the final round of his fourth annual “T.R.U. 2 Hoops Holiday Basketball Classic” takes place on the Philips Arena floor. The tournament is a two-on-two competition for boys ages 10-13, with no participation fee for students in the Clayton County school system. Preliminary action took place at Chainz’s alma mater, North Clayton High School.

Doors open at 6:30 p.m. for the 8 p.m. contest against the Pistons.

NBA player notes, Dec. 29, 2016

isaiah thomas

Isaiah Thomas, Celtics: Thomas has scored at least 20 points in each of his last 16 games, the longest streak in the NBA this season. Thomas and Boston look for their seventh win in eight games when they visit Cleveland tonight at 8 p.m. on TNT.

Dirk Nowitzki, Mavericks: Nowitzki enters tonight’s game against the Lakers (10:30 p.m. ET, TNT) with 853 regular-season wins, tied with Derek Fisher for sixth place on the NBA’s all-time list. Nowitzki leads all active players, followed by San Antonio’s Tony Parker (803).

DeMar DeRozan, Raptors: With 29 points against Golden State on Wednesday, DeRozan (10,290) passed Chris Bosh (10,275) to become Toronto’s all-time leading scorer.

Malcolm Brogdon, Bucks: In his last four games, the rookie guard has made 18-of-23 shots from the field (78.3 percent) and averaged 10.5 points and 5.8 assists in 27.0 minutes.

New Orleans Pelicans: Winners of three in a row and four of five, the Pelicans are 13-13 since an 0-8 start.

nicolas batum

Nicolas Batum, Hornets: He has scored at least 20 points in four straight games, averaging 21.8 points, 8.3 assists and 7.5 rebounds during this stretch. Charlotte has won four of five.

Alex Abrines, Thunder: The rookie guard from Spain has scored in double figures in three of his last four games, making 13-of-26 from three-point range (50.0 percent) in the four appearances.

Brook Lopez, Nets: The 7-foot center and nine-year veteran ranks 37th in the NBA in three-pointers made with 56. He entered the season with three triples made for his career – a total he exceeded against Chicago on Wednesday when he hit five in a 33-point night.

LaMarcus Aldridge, Spurs: Aldridge has totaled 60 points and converted 25-of-32 from the field (78.1 percent) in his last two games, both wins for San Antonio (26-6), which has matched its 32-game record from last season.

Tobias Harris, Pistons: After starting his first 31 games, Harris has come off the bench in Detroit’s last three games, averaging 23.3 points on 55.8 shooting.

– Via NBA News

Catch up with recent Wizards success

The Wizards opened the season 2-8 under new coach Scott Brooks, but they have been one of the NBA’s hottest teams over the last six weeks.

Washington is 13-8 since Nov. 17, including eight victories in their last 11 games and a current seven-game winning streak at home. The Wizards (15-16) have closed within one game of .500 for the first time since losing their season opener.

The team’s turnaround has featured outstanding play from John Wall, who is averaging a career-high 23.7 points, ranks third in the NBA in assists (9.9 apg) and leads the league in steals (2.24 spg). The three-time All-Star finished with 36 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists in Wednesday’s 111-105 win over the Pacers, becoming the first player in Wizards franchise history to reach all of those statistical minimums in a game.

With Wall and Bradley Beal (21.8 ppg, 3.6 apg) leading the way, the Wizards are rolling on offense. Washington has shot 47.9 percent from the field in its last 21 games – the highest mark in the East and the third-best figure in the NBA during that stretch.

Fourth-year forward Otto Porter has figured prominently in the team’s improved marksmanship. The 23-year-old is shooting 58.9 percent from the field in December, including 49.2 percent from three-point range. Porter is averaging 24.0 points on 70.3 percent shooting from the field over his last three games.

Center Marcin Gortat has joined Porter in supplying steady production in the frontcourt. The 32-year-old from Poland is averaging 11.2 points and ranks in the NBA’s top eight in rebounding (career-high 11.7 rpg) and field goal percentage (career-high 57.1).

– Via NBA News

Bulls waive RJ Hunter

The Chicago Bulls requested waivers on guard R.J. Hunter today.

During his time with the Bulls, Hunter (6-5, 185) appeared in three games and grabbed one rebound in nine total minutes. He signed with the Bulls on Oct. 27, 2016.

The Bulls roster now stands at 14.

Bench steps up for Thunder vs Heat

Bench steps up for Thunder vs Heat

Russell Westbrook isn’t the only man playing for the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Thunder won at the Miami Heat on Friday. And even though Westbrook was sitting with another triple-double, his league-leading 15th of the season, by the third quarter, the Thunder didn’t necessarily ache for every one of his numbers. And that’s a concept which was foreign to OKC basketball fans a week ago.

The Thunder got off to a 22-point lead by the second quarter Tuesday and maintained a double-digit advantage for the rest of the game, cruising to a 106-94 victory over the injury-laden, 10-22 Heat. And even as Westbrook finished his magnificent 29-point, 17-rebound, 11-assist night, even if the Thunder were plus-12 with him on the floor, his sovereignty wasn’t the story. For another evening, the stability came from a part of the team which has been criticized for much of the season: The bench.

“It’s great to see those guys continue to get better,” coach Billy Donovan said. “They’re developing a chemistry and a bond. They’re making each other better.”

– Norman Transcript

Quick Take: No matter how great one player is, basketball is a team game. Nobody can do it alone. And really, the same can be said for life itself. But, also basketball.

Mavericks waive Jonathan Gibson, sign Pierre Jackson

The Dallas Mavericks announced yesterday (Tuesday) that they have signed free agent guard Pierre Jackson.

In a related move, the Mavericks also requested waivers on guard Jonathan Gibson.

Jackson (5-11, 176) has appeared in 10 games (all starts) for the Mavericks’ D-League affiliate, the Texas Legends, this season. He averaged 29.1 points, 4.5 rebounds, 6.0 assists, 1.9 steals and 35.7 minutes per game in those 10 contests.

A native of Las Vegas, Jackson is no stranger to Texas after transferring from College of Southern Idaho to play the final two years of his collegiate career at Baylor University in Waco. While at Baylor, Jackson averaged 16.7 points, 6.5 assists and 3.3 rebounds in 74 games while earning Second Team All-Big 12 twice and Associated Press Honorable Mention All-America in 2012.

Jackson was drafted in the second round (No. 42 overall) by the Philadelphia 76ers in the 2013 NBA Draft and had his draft rights, along with Jrue Holiday, traded to the New Orleans Pelicans in exchange for Nerlens Noel. Jackson spent the 2013-14 campaign with ASVEL Basket in France. He returned from overseas to compete with the Pelicans Summer League squad in the summer of 2014, but suffered a ruptured right Achilles that cost him the season. Jackson played with the 76ers Summer League team in 2015, but was later waived after appearing in three preseason games for Philadelphia.

Jackson holds career D-League averages of 25.9 points, 3.6 rebounds, 5.6 assists, 1.7 steals and 36.9 minutes in 49 games (37 starts) with the Idaho Stampede and Texas Legends. On Feb. 4, 2014, he set the D-League single-game scoring record with 58 points against the Legends (Jordan McRae later broke it with a 61-point game in January 2016 and Russ Smith topped that with 65-point night in March 2016). Jackson was named to the Futures All-Star roster for the 2014 NBA D-League All-Star Game.

Jackson will wear No. 55 for the Mavericks.

Spurs waive Nico Laprovittola

Spurs waive Nico Laprovittola

The San Antonio Spurs yesterday (Tuesday) announced that the team has waived guard Nico Laprovittola.

Laprovittola, who was in his first season with the Spurs, was signed as a free agent on Sept. 26, 2016. He saw action in 18 games for the Silver and Black, averaging 3.3 points and 1.6 assists in 9.7 minutes.

The Spurs roster now stands at 14.

Pistons beat Cavs as LeBron James sits

Pistons beat Cavs as LeBron James sits

A five-game losing streak that tormented the Pistons in recent weeks, prompting tension inside the locker room and a shuffling of the starting lineup, has finally ended.

The Pistons jumped out to an early lead Monday then held serve rest of the way, using a late-third quarter rally that stretched into the fourth to take down the defending NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers, 106-90, at the Palace.

Cleveland was playing without LeBron James, instead opting to give the 12-time All-Star the night off after playing 40 minutes the night prior.

“We were very hungry,” Pistons point guard Reggie Jackson said. “We dropped I don’t know how many in a row. We dropped the last two that were very tough, against Memphis and Golden State, and I thought we played well but didn’t come out with a win.

“We knew they played yesterday, so we got a jump on them early.”

– Michigan Live

Gerald Henderson struggling with hip pain

Gerald Henderson’s left-hip pain was too intolerable for him remain on the court.

The Philadelphia 76ers shooting guard was laboring on the Golden 1 Center with 8 minutes, 58 seconds remaining in Monday night’s 102-100 setback to the Sacramento Kings. Henderson spoke with Sixers coach Brett Brown, who basically came on the court to call a timeout as a way to get his veteran leader out of the game.

– Philadelphia Inquirer

Lakers beat injured Clippers on Xmas Day

Lakers beat injured Clippers on Xmas Day

A win offers breathing room for the Los Angeles Lakers, and on Christmas Day, they got some.

Fittingly, Laker Nick Young hit the game’s last field goal. He is the only Laker who was also on the team in 2013, the last time the Lakers beat the Clippers before an 11-game losing streak — the longest such streak they’ve had to any team since the franchise moved to Los Angeles.

Below are five takeaways from last night’s 111-102 victory.

1. The L.A. Clippers were shorthanded, missing starters Blake Griffin and Chris Paul. Raymond Felton, the point guard who started, was battling a fever, and J.J. Redick left the game in the second half with an injury. But the Lakers have also been hurting for most of December. That led Young to offer this: “ A win is a win. Nobody cared when we were hurt and injured. Why should we?”

2. In the second quarter, Lakers rookie Brandon Ingram picked up a technical foul. That call seemed to energize him, and he was suddenly more aggressive and assertive offensively.

LA Times

Los Angeles Lakers forward Larry Nance Jr., who suffered an injury to his left knee December 20 at Charlotte, was examined prior to Sunday’s game by team physician Dr. David McAllister of UCLA Health. The diagnosis is a bone bruise.

Nance Jr. is expected to be out approximately four weeks.

The Lakers are 12-22 this season, which is the 11th best record in the Western conference.

The team’s leading scorer this season has been guard Louis Williams, averaging 18.7 ppg. Williams has come off the bench for all 34 of his games this year.

The 2017 Sixers draft situation

In possession of their own pick and the Los Angeles Lakers’ top-three protected pick, the 76ers will probably be picking twice in the lottery. The good news for the Sixers is that this draft is shaping up to be a pretty deep one. Even better news is that it’s deep with what they need: guards and wings.

Markelle Fultz is the front-runner to be the No. 1 overall pick. He’d be an excellent fit as a point guard who is more of a scorer/shooter (49 percent from three) than a facilitator to play with Simmons (not to say Fultz is a poor passer). Malik Monk of Kentucky is an undersized combo guard who, like Fultz, can light up the scoreboard. Lonzo Ball of UCLA is another combo guard with the ability to shoot (43 percent from three) and dish (8.3 assists).

Then there’s athletic wings like high-flying Kansas freshman Josh Jackson who can do a little bit of everything. The ACC has two long, athletic wings that can wreak havoc on both ends in Florida State’s Isaac Austin and Duke’s Jayson Tatum. Landing one of these guys would give the Sixers scary length and a potentially disruptive defense.

– CSN Philly

Quick Take: At some point, two things have to happen for the Sixers: 1) Full health. 2) A clear indication that their season will be one of serious competition, and not riding the bottom of the standings anymore. Perhaps that’ll happen in 2017-18.

NBA national notes, December 25, 2016

demarcus cousins

50-Point Games: Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins (55 points vs. Portland on Tuesday) is already the fifth player with a 50-point game in 2016-17, joining Golden State’s Klay Thompson, Washington’s John Wall, Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook and New Orleans’ Anthony Davis. The NBA record for most players with 50-point games in a season is eight, set in 1989-90.

Tyler Johnson, Heat: He scored 32 points in Tuesday’s double-overtime loss to Orlando, the highest total for a Miami reserve in franchise history. His 13.4 points per game is the second-highest scoring average among players with no starts this season.

Deron Williams, Mavericks: Williams, who recently passed Derek Harper for 21st place on the NBA’s career assists list, is averaging 19.8 points (on 53.6 percent shooting) and 6.8 assists in his last four games.

Shaquille O’Neal: Miami will retire Shaq’s No. 32 jersey at halftime of tonight’s game against the Lakers (8 p.m. ET, TNT), while the Lakers announced this week that they will unveil a bronze statue of the Hall of Fame center at Staples Center on March 24, 2017.

Dennis Schröder, Hawks: In his last 12 games, the 23-year-old guard from Germany is averaging 21.8 points (on 53.1 percent shooting) and 7.6 assists.

nikola jokic

Nikola Jokic, Nuggets: The second-year center’s run of six double-doubles in his last 10 games includes a 27-point, 15-rebound, nine-assist performance against Dallas on Monday, making him the first Denver player to reach those three totals in a game since Fat Lever in 1988.

Myles Turner, Pacers: The second-year center has scored in double figures in nine consecutive games, averaging 18.0 points while shooting 55.2 percent from the field.

Marc Gasol, Grizzlies: He scored a career-high 38 points and made 14-of-17 shots (82.4 percent) from the field in Wednesday’s victory against Detroit, becoming the first Grizzlies player to score 38 points or more while shooting at least 80 percent in a game since Shareef Abdur-Rahim on Jan. 7, 2001. Gasol raised his scoring average to a career-high 20.1 points.

evan fournier

Evan Fournier, Magic: In his last six games, Fournier is averaging 22.2 points and shooting 52.0 percent from the field.

Hall of Fame Class of 2017 Candidates: Muggsy Bogues, Tracy McGrady, Ben Wallace and former NBA referees Sid Borgia and Jake O’Donnell are among the first-time nominees for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

– Via NBA Broadcasters Bulletin

2016 NBA Christmas Day game matchups

Boston Celtics at New York Knicks, noon ET, ESPN
Boston: Isaiah Thomas, who ranks seventh in the NBA in scoring at 26.6 points per game, is second in the league in fourth-quarter scoring (8.1), behind Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook (9.8). Thomas has scored at least 20 points in each of his last 12 games, the longest active streak in the league.
New York: Carmelo Anthony (23,112) needs 38 points to pass Elgin Baylor (23,149) for 28th place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. Anthony and the Knicks host Orlando tonight before facing Boston on Christmas Day.

Golden State Warriors at Cleveland Cavaliers, 2:30 p.m. ET, ABC
Golden State: The Warriors have climbed to second in the NBA in defensive rating – allowing 100.8 points per 100 possessions – which matches their No. 2 ranking in offensive rating. Golden State has held each of its last three opponents to 90 points or fewer.
Cleveland: Kyrie Irving set a career high with 13 assists in Wednesday’s victory over Milwaukee, which came four days after he had equaled his previous career high of 12 assists in a win against the Lakers. Irving has also scored at least 20 points in 15 of his last 16 games and in a team-high 22 games overall.

Chicago Bulls at San Antonio Spurs, 5 p.m. ET, ABC
Chicago: In a conference call with international media this week, Jimmy Butler discussed playing on Christmas Day, the key to his emergence as an All-Star, his admiration for Kawhi Leonard and Manu Ginobili, and more. Click here for the transcript.
San Antonio: Kawhi Leonard has scored at least 30 points seven times in 28 games this season. He entered the year with four 30-point games in 324 career appearances.

Minnesota Timberwolves at Oklahoma City Thunder, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN
Minnesota: The Timberwolves are attempting to become the first team in NBA history to have three players – Karl-Anthony Towns (22.1 ppg), Andrew Wiggins (21.9) and Zach LaVine (20.7) – who were under the age of 22 at the start of the season each average at least 20 points for the season.
Oklahoma City: Enes Kanter (12.6 ppg) ranks third on the team in scoring despite placing seventh in minutes per game (19.4). Kanter’s seven double-doubles are good for second on the Thunder behind Russell Westbrook, who is tied for the league lead with 23.

LA Clippers at Los Angeles Lakers, 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
Clippers: Chris Paul (7,970) needs 18 assists to pass Rod Strickland (7,987) for 10th place on the NBA’s career list. Paul is 30 assists from 8,000 for his career.
Lakers: Earlier this month, Lou Williams had the highest-scoring four-game stretch for a bench player (137 points) since at least the 1970-71 season. For the season, the 30-year-old guard leads the Lakers in scoring with a career-high 18.8 points, coming off the bench in all 31 appearances.

– Via NBA Broadcasters Bulletin

The new Collective Bargaining Agreement was ratified this week by the NBA players and NBA Board of Governors. The new agreement will take effect on July 1, 2017 and run through the 2023-24 season.

The parties voted based on a term sheet that outline the key deal points. Once the NBA and NBPA finish drafting and execute the complete agreement, specific details will be released.

Will Barton hopes to stay with Nuggets

Will Barton hopes to stay with Nuggets

Denver Nuggets guard Will Barton doesn’t have to seek it out to know what’s going on. The information comes to him.

In the past calendar year he’s been one of the most coveted players on the Nuggets roster. The Nuggets were offered a first-round pick for him last year, but they declined.

Barton hopes he stays with Denver.

“It’s tough but you hear a lot of stuff going around,” Barton told The Denver Post. “I don’t pay any attention to it, I try not to let it enter my mind and enter things that I’ve got going on. I’m here, I like it here. I just try to work hard every day, perform, and just get wins for my teammates. That’s all I care about, just focusing on the Denver Nuggets.”

– Denver Post

Quick Take: Averaging 14.3 ppg, Barton is the third leading scorer on the 12-17 Nuggets this season, behind Wilson Chandler (16.8 ppg) and Danilo Gallinari (16.4 ppg). He’s having a solid season.

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