Archive for November, 2019

Kevin Knox riding the bench for Knicks

Young Knicks forward Kevin Knox played 28.8 minutes per game as a rookie last season, starting in 57 of 75 games.

This year, he has come off the bench for 17 of 18 games, playing nine fewer minutes per outing than as a rookie.

The New York Post reports the following: “Sometimes they’ve got to go through some tough love to find themselves and watch the game from 25,000 feet, see it, and see the things that I’m emphasizing,” Knicks coach David Fizdale said when asked about Knox after practice Saturday in Tarrytown. “I was tough on Frank last year and I just feel like Frank has come back with a whole different mindset about how he’s going to go about this season.”

It’ll be interesting to see how Knox progresses this season. If he’s able to raise his shooting percentage and overall game, it would make future Knicks roster decision-making a lot easier.

 

 

 

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Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant’s excellent rookie season has hit a road block, in the form of back spasms.

The team on Saturday announced that Morant in yesterday’s game against the Jazz aggravated back spasms that started earlier in the week.

The Grizzlies are 5-13 this season, and have lost six games in a row. Their next game is tomorrow afternoon on the road against the Timberwolves.

Morant has been an outstanding rookie and is a clear building block for Memphis. In 17 games, the young phenom is averaging 18.6 points, 3.2 rebounds and 6.4 assists in 28.7 minutes per outing.

With Morant out, Tyus Jones and shooting guard Dillon Brooks, and perhaps also De’Anthony Melton and Grayson Allen, will have increased responsibility.

Morant is listed at 6-foot-3, 174 pounds. He’s 20 years old, played college basketball at Murray State, and was drafted No. 2 overall this past June.

Bucks now on 10-game winning streak

The Milwaukee Bucks on Friday beat the Cavaliers in Cleveland 119-10 to extend their winning streak to 10 games.

As usual, Giannis Antetokounmpo led the Bucks, shooting 14 of 26 for 33 points and 12 rebounds, plus two steals and two blocks. George Hill added 18 points and four assists in 22 minutes off the bench.

Khris Middleton, who recently returned from injury, again came off the bench for Milwaukee. It’s likely he will eventually return to the starting lineup.

The Bucks this season are top five in the NBA in both offensive and defensive efficiency.

 

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An MRi performed yesterday confirms that Chicago Bulls guard/forward Chandler Hutchison has a right shoulder contusion.

The injury occurred this past Tuesday in the team’s road game against the Warriors.

The team says Hutchison will be re-evaluated next week, after their current road trip is completed.

Through yesterday’s games, the Bulls are 6-13 this season, which places them 12th in the Eastern conference. They’re being led in scoring this season by Zach LaVine at 21.8 PPG. But no other Bulls players are scoring as much as 14.0 PPG.

Hutchison is averaging 7.1 points and 3.7 rebounds in 17.1 minutes per game.

Dion Waiters` Heat suspension is ending

The Miami Heat haven’t been pleased with the attitude of guard Dion Waiters this season, and in early November gave him a 10-game suspension.

According to the Miami Herald, “Waiters, who has yet to play or even appear on the bench since the regular season began, was also suspended by the Heat for the first game of the season for what the team called unprofessional conduct. The National Basketball Players Association recently filed an appeal of Waiters’ two team-issued suspensions, a league source confirmed last week. The appeal is over wages lost, with both suspensions costing Waiters about $913,000 in salary.”

The suspension, after Sunday’s matchup later today against the Warriors, will have ended. It’ll be interesting to see if Waiters actually is in the Heat plans going forward. Right now it seems like anything is possible, but with the Heat off to a fantastic 12-5 start to the season, it makes sense for them to keep their current rotation as is, for both on-court basketball performance as well as general attitude reasons.

 

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The Suns were an early-season surprise, but have racked up more losses than wins lately and are now 8-9 for the season.

But there’s reason to think they could change direction soon.

Per the Arizona Republic, “Suns center Aron Baynes is listed as probable for Friday’s game against the Mavericks after missing five games with a hip injury. The Suns are 1-4 without Baynes, who had been starting for Ayton, plays great position defense, makes defensive calls is averaging career highs in points (14.5), rebounds (5.6), assists (3.1) and 3-point shooting (44.2%).”

A note on Suns center Deandre Ayton

 

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After a strong start to the new NBA season, the Phoenix Suns have a modest record of 8-8. They’ve been playing without second-year center Deandre Ayton, who has been serving a 25-game suspension for testing positive on a drug test.

Arizona Spots has an update: “General manager James Jones joined 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station’s Burns & Gambo Tuesday and provided some clarity as to Ayton’s situation 15 games into his suspension. “We’ve been focused on a transition for him since the initial suspension,” he said. “So every day, there’s a plan to keep his conditioning level up, his skill level up. And as we get closer to the games, coach will start to reintegrate him in our pregame routine, our practice routine, our practice plan, so it’ll work itself out.””

It’ll be interesting to see how the Suns rotation changes when Ayton returns. Center Aron Baynes, who in his NBA career has been a supporting cast role player more than a star, has played quite well in Ayton’s absence. But Ayton is considered a long-term building block. A potential franchise foundation. It will be an interesting minutes distribution test for head coach Monty Williams.

Kemba Walker set to return for Celtics

 

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The Celtics are close to getting guard Kemba Walker (neck sprain) back in action. The team today listed him as “probable” for tomorrow’s home game in Boston against the Brooklyn Nets.

At 12-4, the Celtics are tied this season with the Heat and Raptors for the Eastern conference’s second best record, behind the 14-3 Bucks.

Although Kemba Walker is a point guard, his primary role on Boston has been that of a scorer. He leads the team in points per game at 21.1 PPG, and is second on the team in assists per game at 4.7 APG (Marcus Smart is first at 5.1 APG).

An observation that for now we will pretend is a totally random thing to mention right now: Celtics team success this season has come more from defense than offense.

We’ll be watching the team in the coming weeks specifically to see who creates scoring opportunities for others.

In the meantime, Walker is fitting in, and the team is winning.

This blog entry pulled you in all sorts of directions. We know.

The Warriors are 3-15, which is currently the worst record in the NBA. They have multiple NBA All-Stars on their roster who are spending more time injured on the bench than healthy on the court. The result is an opportunity for supporting cast players to rise up and lead.

Glenn Robinson III, who already had an increased role this season with Kevin Durant gone and a hole at the small forward spot, plus Klay Thompson being out, gained even more responsibility as injuries kept piling up.

His average so far this season is 12.0 points, 4.9 rebounds and 2.1 assists in quite a bit of playing time: 31.7 minutes per game.

It’ll be worth watching to see how his productivity fares in the coming weeks.

 

 

 

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Mavericks second-year guard/forward Luka Doncic, who doesn’t turn 21 until 2/28/20, already owns the record for the most triple-doubles by a player before his 21st birthday in NBA history (15). He recorded eight as a rookie alone, breaking Magic Johnson’s previous such record of seven, which was set before the Mavericks franchise was even formed in 1980 (Johnson’s record had stood since 3/30/80).

Doncic’s eight triple-doubles in 2018-19 not only marked a Dallas rookie record (previous most: 4 by Jason Kidd in 1994-95), but also represented the third-most by any rookie in the history of the league (behind Oscar Robertson’s 26 in 1960-61 and Ben Simmons’ 12 in 2017-18).

His eight triple-doubles last year were also one off of Jason Kidd’s record for the most by a Maverick in any one season in franchise history (Kidd had 9 as a second-year player for Dallas in 1995-96).

Kidd holds the team-record for most triple-doubles with 21. After earning NBA Rookie of the Year honors last season, Doncic has picked up right where he left off. He has recorded five 30-point triple-doubles in 2019-20 and now has six for his career. It’s the most 30-point triple-doubles by a player before turning 21 in NBA history. In fact, LeBron James (2) is the only other player to produce multiple 30-point triple-doubles before his 21st birthday.

What’s more, Doncic has set franchise marks for most 30-point triple-doubles (6) and 20-point triple-doubles (13). He’s the only Maverick to record a 40-point triple-double (42 points, 11 rebounds, 12 assists vs. San Antonio 11/18/19). Doncic and James are also the only two players in league history to produce a
40-point triple-double for their 21st birthday.

 

 

 

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It’s been a great start to the new season for the Miami Heat. Through Sunday’s games they are 11-4, which ties them for the second best record in the Eastern conference.

Leading the team has been an interesting cast of characters. Small forward Jimmy Butler is the first name to mention. Rookie guards Kendrick Nunn and Tyler Herro have been key success factors. Goran Dragic, coming off the bench for all 14 games he’s played so far, still contributes starter-like production. Center Bam Adebayo is doing big things, many of which don’t show up on the stat-sheet. Duncan Robinson is hitting shots.

The Heat have an impressive seven players averaging double-digit scoring. But one of those players, Justise Winslow, has played in just five games.

The South Florida Sun Sentinel reports the following: “After absorbing a hard blow in a collision that left Denver Nuggets forward Paul Millsap requiring 11 stitches in a Nov. 5 Heat road loss, Winslow entered the NBA’s concussion protocol and has been sidelined since. With the absence against the Hornets, it makes it nine consecutive games missed by the 2015 first-round pick out of Duke. Factoring in the two games he missed prior to the Nuggets game, Winslow has now been out for 11 of the past 12, limited to five appearances.”

The Heat are playing good basketball this season. Hopefully they will be doing so with Winslow active sometime soon. For now, he remains out.

Brooklyn Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie and Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic were named East and West NBA Players of the Week for gamesplayed from Monday, Nov. 18, through Sunday, Nov 24, 2019.

And this is fun: It’s the first Players of the Week award for either player.

Dinwiddie led Brooklyn to a 3-1 record on the week, recording averages of 25.3 points, 3.5 rebounds, 6.8 assists and 1.3 steals in 33.3 minutes per game. Dinwiddie began the week by totaling 28 points, five rebounds and eight assists in 33 minutes in a loss to the Indiana Pacers on Nov. 18. He followed up that performance by leading Brooklyn to the first of a season-best three straight victories, registering 20 points, four rebounds, eight assists and two steals in 37 minutes in a 101-91 win over the Charlotte Hornets on Nov. 20. Dinwiddie then posted 23 points, seven assists and two steals in 28 minutes in a 116-97 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Nov. 22. The six-year NBA veteran rounded out the week by registering his second 30-point game of the season, totaling 30 points, four rebounds, four assists and no turnovers in 35 minutes in a 103-101 win at the New York Knicks on Nov. 24.

Doncic (6-7, 230) led the Mavericks to a perfect 4-0 week with averages of 37.0 points (.554 FG%, .444 3FG%, .788 FT%), 8.5 rebounds and 11.8 assists per game and victories over San Antonio (Nov. 18), Golden State (Nov. 20), Cleveland (Nov. 22) and Houston (Nov. 24). He posted at least 30 points and 10 assists in all four games, becoming the youngest player in NBA history (20 years, 269 days) to record four consecutive 30-point, 10-assist efforts (the previous youngest was Oscar Robertson at 22 years, 34 days). He also led all players outright in scoring all in four games and led the Mavericks outright in assists in all four.

Sixers now 11-5 after four straight wins

 

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The Sixers got off to a somewhat modest start this season, but after four straight wins they are 11-5 and playing closer a the level expected of them entering the season.

In particular, their offense, barely above average in efficiency so far, has needed serious improvement.

But, there’s reason for hope. NBC Sports Philly observes the following: “Through 16 games, the unit of Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Tobias Harris, Josh Richardson and Al Horford has gotten through just five contests together. That five-man lineup has by far the highest net rating in the NBA at 29.4 (minimum 80 minutes played together). Of course Saturday night’s blowout, in which the Sixers’ starters outscored the Heat’s 90-33, helped that cause.”

It’s no surprise that the a team with the type of roster changes the Sixers did this offseason is undergoing a bit of an adjustment period. But 11-5 is an excellent record, and there’s reason to believe the team will only get better in the coming weeks.

Tonight, they visit the Raptors in Toronto. On Wednesday, they host the Sacramento Kings.

 

 

 

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There is some news on Celtics forward Gordon Hayward, though it does not indicate any sort of change in the timing of his eventual return from injury.

According to the Boston Herald, “nothing’s changed with his timeline — Gordon Hayward is still expected to be out until late December as he recovers from left hand surgery — but the Celtics forward shot around following yesterday’s practice without any protection on the hand.”

The Celtics are 11-4 this season, and have lost two straight games. They received fortunate news regarding guard Kemba Walker, who suffered what appeared to be a potentially scary injury but wound up merely being day-to-day. The team’s next game is tomorrow at home against the Sacramento Kings.

The NBA on Saturday announced that they have fined Los Angeles Lakers guard Rajon Rondo $35,000 for the following reasons:

- Making unsportsmanlike physical contact with Oklahoma City Thunder guard Dennis Schroder

- Verbal abuse of a game official

- Failing to leave the court in a timely manner upon his ejection.

Rondo received a Flagrant Foul 2 and was ejected, early 4th quarter this past Thursday, on the road in OKC.

A video clip of the incident is here: http://www.nba.com/video/2019/11/23/lal-okc-rajon-rondo-112219

The Lakers are off to a fantastic start this season. Through yesteday’s games, they have a league-best 13-2 record and are currently riding a six-game winning streak.

Rondo has played in just five games this season, entirely off the bench as a reserve, averaging 7.2 points, 2.8 rebounds and 5.6 rebounds in 20.4 minutes per game.

 

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Playing on the road in Denver, the Celtics lost Kemba Walker to injury, and also lost 96-92 to the Nuggets.

Walker was taken off the court on a stretcher, taken to a hospital, diagnosed with concussion-like symptoms, but fortunately was quickly released and cleared to return with the team for their trip back home to Boston.

The Celtics say Walker will be re-evaluated tomorrow.

According to Boston.com, “the injury occurred with three minutes left in the second quarter when Walker hit his head against teammate Semi Ojeleye’s chest when going after a loose ball.”

The Celtics are already without forward Gordon Hayward, who is missing extended time due to a hand injury. But it sounds like they will hopefully have Walker back in action soon.

The next Celtics game is Monday in Boston against the Sacramento Kings.

 

 

 

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The Charlotte Hornets today revealed their new “City Edition” uniforms. The color is “cool gray,” which is an interesting term because lots of people still don’t know if it’s the actual proper name of a shade of gray, or merely the opinion of whoever is mentioning their view on the color. Well, it’s the former. And in my opinion, it’s a great color. The uniforms are cool.

The team says it’s the first gray uniform in franchise history. And that these City Edition uniforms will be worn for the first time on Friday, December 6 in Charlotte when facing the Brooklyn Nets.

The Hornets will wear these gray City Edition uniform for five home games and 10 road games.

 

 

 

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Denver Nuggets rookie Bol Bol is signed to a two-way contract, which means he’ll be spending most of the 2019-20 season playing in the G League. The Nuggets, of course, get to decide whether or not to also let him get some actual NBA experience. But first, he must prove himself at a lower pro level, while wearing a Windy City Bulls uniform:

According to the Denver Post, “his defensive acumen, boosted by his timing and size, is already apparent. After logging four blocks in his G League debut last Friday, he’s averaging 2.7 per game in just over 17 minutes through three games. As a result of surgery on his left foot that limited him to nine games at Oregon, Bol is on a minutes restriction in the range of 15 to 20 per game. Any lingering effects from his injury weren’t noticeable over his first three games.”

Bol Bol’s full G League stats through three games are 11.3 points, 7.7 rebounds and 2.7 blocks in 17.3 minutes per outing.

The Nuggets through Thursday are 10-3 this season, which ties them for the fourth best record in the league.

The Detroit Pistons are 4-10, which ties them for the second worst record in the Eastern conference through yesterday’s games. They are on a five-game losing streak.

It’s still early in the season, and rattling off a few quick wins would vault them up in the standings. And power forward Blake Griffin, who has been injured, has only played in three games so far. His stats have been disappointing in those contests: 18.0 points, 6.0 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game, shooting 34.8% FG.

Per the Detroit Free Press, here’s what Griffin said about it:  “I just got to be better… I can’t play the way I’ve played the last two games and expect us to win. I know people make more of a deal about numbers than I do, but it’s all encompassing, doing everything or not doing some of the things I’m doing will help us win… I fully take (the blame for) these last two. I just got to be better.” 

Tons of players are rusty merely a few games in after a return from injury. We’ll look at Griffin more closely in the coming 1-2 weeks.

 

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