Stan Van Gundy calls out Stanley Johnson

Stan Van Gundy calls out Stanley Johnson“Stan has to become a much better worker and learner,” Pistons president-coach Stan Van Gundy said Friday before Detroit’s game against the Atlanta Hawks (8 p.m., FSD).

“He just does. He’s a great competitor — if you put him on the floor, he’s going to work really, really hard. But he’s got to get better at all the stuff that leads up to going onto the court.”

Van Gundy specifically pointed to practice and off-days, where Johnson, now 20, sometimes puts in less than 100 percent effort compared to his fellow bench counterparts.

“He’s got to be a better practice guy,” Van Gundy said. “He’s got to be a better workout guy. He’s got to be better with all that stuff. Really working to get better. Once he’s out there competing, you don’t have a problem with that. He’ll play as hard as anybody, but he’s got to understand that’s not the whole thing. It’s preparing to play.”

– Michigan Live

Quick Take: In his rookie season (last year) Stanley Johnson played 23.1 minutes per game and averaged 8.1 points and 4.2 rebounds, on just 37.5% shooting. This season, Johnson is playing 14.9 minutes per game and getting just 4.0 points on 41.7% FG. More is expected of him. But as mentioned above, he’s not even 21 years old yet. Plenty of time for improvement.

Steve Kerr says Draymond Green leg-flail goes back many years

Long before he received a flagrant-1 foul in the Warriors’ double-overtime loss to Houston on Thursday night, Draymond Green was flailing his leg to draw fouls.

“Draymond’s been doing this since college,” Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said Friday. “I never saw him play in high school, but maybe he’s been doing this since high school.”

After Green’s leg extensions became a major story line in the 2016 playoffs, referees are wary of the tactic. Midway through the second overtime Thursday, after Green kicked James Harden in the face coming down on a putback attempt, the Golden State forward was assessed a flagrant-1.

– San Francisco Chronicle

Quick Take: Green needs to break the habit. I can’t think of any other player in the league that high-kicks like Draymond does. And the kick often doesn’t even look natural. He has to work to stop it. It’s that simple.

Jodie Meeks makes debut for Magic

Jodie Meeks makes debut for Magic

Jodie Meeks made his Orlando Magic debut Friday night, giving hope to an offense that ranked last in the NBA in points per possession and last in 3-point shooting percentage.

Coach Frank Vogel subbed Meeks into the Magic’s game against the Philadelphia 76ers at the Wells Fargo Center at the start of the second quarter.

Vogel expected to play Meeks for a four- or five-minute burst in each half. Meeks made his first shot attempt, a 3-pointer that put Orlando ahead 28-23.

– Orlando Sentinel

Quick Take: The Magic are 7-12 this season through Thursday’s games. Their shooting has been horrible this season. Any help Meeks can provide in that department would be greatly appreciated.

Oklahoma City Blue center Dakari Johnson today was named the NBA Development League Player of the Month for games played in November. The honor, the first of the 2016-17 season, is also the first of Johnson’s NBA D-League career.

Johnson (7-0, Kentucky) led Oklahoma City to a 6-3 record behind averages of 19.7 points, 8.6 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 2.1 blocked shots (tied for fourth in the NBA D-League). He scored at least 20 points in six games and tallied four point-rebound double-doubles.

On Nov. 26, he recorded 20 points (on 7-for-11 shooting from the field) to go with six rebounds and a career-high five blocks in a 107-104 victory over the Canton Charge. Johnson closed the month by scoring a career-high 28 points, grabbing a season-high-tying 11 rebounds and handing out a season-high five assists in a 117-108 loss to the Los Angeles D-Fenders on Nov. 29.

Other players who received consideration for the monthly award were Austin’s Patricio Garino, Fort Wayne’s Julyan Stone, Grand Rapids’ Ray McCallum and Kevin Murphy, Los Angeles’ Justin Harper, Maine’s Jalen Jones, Westchester’s Chasson Randle and Windy City’s Spencer Dinwiddie.

The Fort Wayne Mad Ants’ Steve Gansey today was named the NBA Development League Coach of the Month for games played in November.

Gansey led Fort Wayne to a 6-0 record in November, the NBA D-League’s only undefeated team for the month. The Mad Ants ranked third in the league in scoring (117.7 ppg) and second in assists (24.5 apg). Gansey oversaw standout performances by Julyan Stone, who led the NBA D-League with 11.2 assists, and Travis Leslie, who paced the team with 19.3 points. On Nov. 27, Fort Wayne erased a nine-point fourth-quarter deficit in a 95-94 victory over the Iowa Energy – the only game in November that the Mad Ants did not score at least 120 points.

Gansey is in his second season as Fort Wayne head coach after posting a 20-30 record last season. He began his coaching career as a Mad Ants assistant from 2009-14, including a stint as interim head coach in the 2011-12 season. Gansey served as the associate head coach for the Canton Charge during the 2014-15 season before returning to Fort Wayne, the NBA D-League affiliate of the Indiana Pacers.

Other coaches who received consideration for the monthly award were Los Angeles’ Coby Karl, Northern Arizona’s Tyrone Ellis, Texas’ Bob Mackinnon and Westchester’s Mike Miller.

Andre Drummond fined for elbowing Roy Hibbert

Detroit Pistons center Andre Drummond has been fined $15,000 for striking Charlotte Hornets center Roy Hibbert in the back of the head with an elbow, it was announced yesterday by Kiki VanDeWeghe, Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations.

The incident, for which Drummond was assessed a Flagrant Foul 2 and ejected, occurred with 4:09 remaining in the second quarter of the Pistons’ 112-89 win over the Hornets on Nov. 29 at Spectrum Center.

To view the incident, click on this link.

The Cleveland Cavaliers’ Tyronn Lue and the Golden State Warriors’ Steve Kerr today were named the NBA Eastern and Western Conference Coaches of the Month, respectively, for games played in October and November.

Lue guided the reigning NBA champion Cavaliers to an Eastern Conference-best 13-3 record during October and November, matching the best 16-game start in franchise history. Cleveland, which began the season with six straight victories, ranked second in the NBA in scoring (111.3 points per game), three-point field goal percentage (39.0) and three-pointers made (13.8 per game). The Cavaliers sank a team-record 21 three-pointers in a 137-125 win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Nov. 23.

Kerr led the Warriors to an NBA-best 16-2 record in October and November, including 12 victories in a row entering December. Golden State paced the NBA in scoring (117.6 ppg), assists (31.1 apg), field goal percentage (50.2) and blocked shots (6.6 bpg). The Warriors notched at least 30 assists in 10 consecutive games, the longest streak in franchise history, and they registered a team-record 47 assists in a 149-106 win against the Los Angeles Lakers on Nov. 23.

Other nominees for the NBA Eastern and Western Conference Coaches of the Month were Charlotte’s Steve Clifford, Chicago’s Fred Hoiberg, Houston’s Mike D’Antoni, the LA Clippers’ Doc Rivers, the Lakers’ Luke Walton, Memphis’ David Fizdale, San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich and Toronto’s Dwane Casey.

Clippers reportedly plan to give Chris Paul the longest max contract possible

This may be the last, best chance for the cursed L.A. stepchild to bust through the second round and chase the sort of success they’ve never experienced. More than a year ago, Doc Rivers, the team’s coach and team president, told me that teams who fall short over and over grow stale — and that the Clippers were “on the borderline” of needing a shakeup.

Three of their core four players — Paul, Griffin, and Redick — enter free agency this summer, assuming Paul and Griffin exercise early termination options. Paul and Redick are on the wrong side of the aging curve; Jordan and Griffin, bouncy types who rely to varying degrees on their athleticism, aren’t that far behind…

Steve Ballmer, L.A.’s moneybags owner, has already said he’ll pay the cost. Maxing out Griffin is a no-brainer, and the team expects Paul to demand the full five-year max (or whatever the longest possible deal ends up being in the revised collective bargaining agreement) to stick around, per several league sources. That would take him well past age 35. Gulp. Suitors will line up for Redick.

Rivers was right last fall: teams grow stale. People decide to move on. If the ending is unhappy again, I’d bet on at least one big change in Clipperland. For now, the team is trying to enjoy the journey — and the clean locker-room air.

– ESPN.com

Quick Take: Past letdowns need to be left in the past. When you’re as good as the Clippers, you do what you need to do to keep your core together. The current Clippers squad is as good as any we’ve seen in the Chris Paul era. And as CP3 gets older and slows down a bit, he’s exactly the type of point guard who should be able to adapt and get even more crafty.

ben simmons

Ben Simmons (fractured foot) is continuing his rehab with the Sixers at their training complex in Camden, New Jersey. The team has implemented a three-part rehab that hones in on health, education and shot improvement.

“He’s doing great,” Brown said. “That thing that we talked about where it’s such a holistic thing — in film sessions with the team, in film sessions with me, on a court with our shooting coach, in a weight room with our strength and conditioning people, in a medical area that is just A-plus at our practice facility with all the physiotherapists, etcetera.”

The Sixers still have not announced a date for his return. When Simmons is cleared, Brown has a vision of how to utilize the 6-foot-10 point-forward.

“My intention is to give him the ball and let him be the point guard,” Brown said. “That’s the plan. That doesn’t just happen. It takes a little bit of time to introduce him.”

– CSN Philly

Quick Take:  This will immediately be fun and awesome to watch. Sadly, we may not see Ben Simmons in action for months, and maybe not until next season. We haven’t heard any sort of definitive return date for him.

Kings at Sixers game postponed

The Sixers’ game against the Kings at the Wells Fargo Center has been postponed because of moisture on the court. There was no immediate word on a rescheduled date for the game.

Arena staff members tried using wet mops to fix the issue to no avail.

“The Philadelphia 76ers announced that tonight’s game against the Sacramento Kings has been postponed due to an issue with the surface of the court and with player safety in mind,” the team said in a statement. “Arena officials worked diligently to address the issue, but NBA officials determined that the court was not suitable for play.”

– CSN Philly

Quick Take: The InsideHoops Twitter account decided to get silly as the game started to be in doubt and tweeted “Trust the mopcess.” Unfortunately, the mops were unable to do the job. The best reaction after the non-game was from Sixers center Joel Embiid, who tweeted the following: Well The court was tanking tonight…. #TrustTheProcess

Dion Waiters injured, will be re-evaluated in two weeks

An MRI has revealed that Miami Heat guard Dion Waiters has suffered a Pectineus (upper thigh) tear and will be re-evaluated in two weeks. Waiters sat out his first game of the season on Nov. 28 vs. Boston due to the right groin strain.

Waiters has started all 16 games this season in which he has appeared for the HEAT and has averaged 14.2 points, 4.0 assists, 3.4 rebounds and 31.8 minutes while shooting 38.4 percent from the floor, 34.4 percent from three-point range and 65.2 percent from the foul line. The fifth-year guard from Syracuse University currently leads the HEAT in field goals attempted and ranks second in points scored, field goals made, three-point field goals made and attempted, assists, minutes played and starts.

For his career, Waiters has appeared in 305 games (126 starts) and averaged 12.9 points, 2.6 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.01 steals and 28.5 minutes while shooting 41 percent from the field, 33.5 percent from three-point range and 70.4 percent from the foul line. The former fourth overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft was named to the 2012-13 NBA All-Rookie First Team and earned NBA Rookie of the Month honors in February of 2013.

Center Marc Gasol now a three-point shooter

Center Marc Gasol now a three-point shooter

There might not be a better example today of the evolution of the NBA big man than Marc Gasol of the Memphis Grizzlies, who all of a sudden has become a legitimate three-point shooting threat.

In 569 games spanning eight seasons before this, the 7-foot-1 Gasol had attempted just 66 three-pointers, making just 12 and many of them shots forced to beat the shot clock or the game clock, prayers seldom answered.

Now? Heading into Wednesday’s game against the Toronto Raptors at the Air Canada Centre, Gasol is a relative long-distance chucker, shooting 42 per cent from three on already a season-high 60 attempts.

– Toronto Star

Quick Take: If you enjoy seeing centers shoot threes, then also check out Nets games. Brooklyn center Brook Lopez is shooting 5.7 three-pointers per game, hitting 2.1 of them for a very respectable average of 37.6%.

Sixers assign Nerlens Noel to D-League

Sixers assign Nerlens Noel to D-League

The Philadelphia 76ers assigned Nerlens Noel to the Delaware 87ers of the NBA Development League today.

The move is for health reasons. The assignment is part of Noel’s ongoing rehabilitation program for his left knee.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, “the move is similar to what Jerryd Bayless did on Nov. 14 to get in some practice time. The Sixers will host the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night at the Wells Fargo Center. As a result, there won’t be a practice opportunity for Noel. He will practice down there on Wednesday.”

In a related move, the team has recalled Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot from the Sevens.

In training camp, Nets coach Kenny Atkinson had basketball Hall of Famer Chris Mullin swing by to talk to his team. On Monday, it was track Hall of Famer Michael Johnson dropping pearls of wisdom. Now Atkinson can only hope his Nets pick them up, mired in an NBA-worst seven-game losing skid.

“Just to listen to him, talking about his process and how he was just so dedicated and focused,’’ Rondae Hollis-Jefferson said. “It definitely gives you that sense of I’m going on the right track, but there’s also more things to it than just coming in here every day. Your personal life versus the athlete’s life. We’re athletes 24/7; our image is being watched, so the things that we do when we’re home count to when we come here. Just thinking about that and setting goals for yourself is a big thing.

“In the offseason, this is what I’m training for. … What do I have to do to get there? If you’re thinking about that every day, it’s going to motivate you. You’re going to wake up, get in that car, take that ride and you’re going to be thinking about that: How do I get myself to where I want to be for my goal for this year? That’s something big that he touched on that stuck with me and will stick with me.”

NY Post

Quick Take: A team can only play as well as their roster allows.

Just one game after making his regular season debut, Ian Mahinmi is back on the Wizards’ injury list.

On Monday, Mahinmi, 30, missed Washington’s matchup against the Sacramento Kings. According to Coach Scott Brooks, Mahinmi, who appeared for 14 minutes Saturday night, is experiencing soreness in his right, non-surgical knee. Mahinmi missed the past six weeks after the repair of a partially torn medial mensicus in his left knee. Mahinmi did not participate in the team’s Monday morning shoot-around.

“Just going to be cautious,” Brooks said. “He’s done a great job of putting himself in a position to come back from surgery and he’s just been sore the last couple of days. It’s day to day. We’ll see how feels tomorrow.”

Washington Post

Quick Take: The Wizards are 5-10 through Sunday’s games. Their scoring leaders this season are John Wall (23.5 ppg), Bradley Beal (20.1 ppg), Otto Porter Jr (14.7 ppg), Markieff Morris (12.8 ppg) and Marcin Gortat (11.3 ppg). Their offense has been average this season but defensively they need improvement.

Dwyane Wade dislikes the NBA Last Two Minute reports

In case Dwyane Wade wasn’t clear about how he felt about the NBA releasing the Last Two Minute Reports the day after close games, the Bulls’ guard was definitive in his disdain for the revisionist thinking that can only frustrate a team.

“I hate them. I hate the two-minute reports. I’ll go on record saying it again,” Wade said following practice Monday at the Advocate Center. “It’s bad for our game to come back with those two-minute reports.” …

Count Wade among those who don’t take much solace in the NBA’s attempt at transparency, considering it doesn’t change the outcome of anything. Plays can’t be turned back and re-started, so it appears more frustrating than gratifying.

“They come back and show the imperfectness of our game in two minutes,” Wade said. “But it’s imperfect the whole game. Let’s not break down the last two minutes, as players get called out and fined for saying stuff to the refs but the NBA is calling our refs out for making the wrong play or right play. Let’s just leave it alone.”

CSN Chicago

Quick Take: A lot of people have mixed feelings about the Two Minute Reports. Pretty much for exactly what D-Wade said. They provide additional info about what should have been, but since it’s after the fact, it’s unclear what is to be gained from announcing the observations. On the other hand, those of us who follow the league closely appreciate all the additional info we can get. In general, the more info the better. So, if the league is going to provide these reports, we’ll happily keep up with them.

Damian Lillard says Blazers need to get mean

Three of the last four Player of the Week winners in the NBA have used the Portland Trail Blazers’ porous defense as a springboard to earn the weekly honors.

The huge nights from Jimmy Butler, Anthony Davis and Kevin Love left Damian Lillard pondering the missing element behind Portland’s inability to slow down opponents this season. His solution is straightforward: The Blazers need a mean streak.

“That might be the change that needs to be made … is us just not being the nice team (where) everybody likes each other,” Lillard said following Blazers practice on Monday. “That’s a great story, but maybe we’ve got to play a much more mean game.”

From the outside, it seems like teams don’t feel much resistance going against the Blazers’ defense. Portland struggles guarding pick and rolls and locating opposing players in transition.

Oregonian

Quick Take: The Blazers are 9-10 this season. Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum are having excellent seasons. But the Blazers’ main story this season has been their defense. It’s been miserable. The squad has a league-worst defensive efficiency, through yesterday’s games.

Xavier Munford named D-League Performer of Week

Xavier Munford of the Greensboro Swarm today was named NBA Development League Performer of the Week for games played Monday, Nov. 21, through Sunday, Nov. 27.

Munford (6-3, 180, Rhode Island) helped Greensboro to a 2-1 week behind averages of 27.7 points (fourth in the league), 4.7 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.7 steals. On Nov. 21, he scored a season-high 34 points on 13-of-26 shooting to go with three rebounds and three assists in a 116-111 loss to the Delaware 87ers. On Nov. 25, he recorded 26 points on 9-of-14 shooting to go with seven rebounds, four assists and four steals in a 109-88 victory over the Erie BayHawks.

Munford is in his third NBA D-League season and first with Greensboro. He is averaging 22.3 points, 4.7 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.6 steals. Last season, Munford was selected to play in the NBA D-League All-Star Game as a member of the Bakersfield Jam before signing with the Memphis Grizzlies on March 16. He appeared in 14 games with the Grizzlies, averaging 5.7 points, 2.2 rebounds and 1.6 assists.

Other top performers considered included Canton’s Chris Evans, Iowa’s Wayne Selden Jr., Los Angeles’ Josh Magette, Texas’ Manny Harris and Windy City’s J.J. Avila.

Kevin Love and Kevin Durant named NBA Players of Week

Cavaliers forward Kevin Love and Warriors forward Kevin Durant today were named NBA Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Week, respectively, for games played Monday, Nov. 21 through Sunday, Nov. 27.

Love led the Cavaliers to a 3-0 week behind an East-leading 30.7 points to go with 9.7 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.3 steals. He connected on 19-of-29 three-point attempts (65.5 percent) and made all 21 of his free-throw attempts. On Nov. 23, he scored a season-high 40 points, grabbed eight rebounds and handed out three assists in a 137-125 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers. Love set an NBA record with 34 first-quarter points, the second-highest total in any quarter in league history.

kevin durant

Durant helped the Warriors to a 4-0 week behind averages of 24.8 points, 8.3 rebounds, 6.3 assists and 2.75 blocked shots (tied for second in the West). He connected on 9-of-18 attempts (50.0 percent) from three-point range. On Nov. 23, he scored 28 points (on 11-for-15 shooting from the field) and added six rebounds and five assists in a 149-106 win over the Los Angeles Lakers. He closed the week with 28 points, 10 rebounds, a career-high six blocks and five assists as Golden State extended its winning streak to 11 games with a 115-102 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Nov. 26.

Other nominees for the Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Week were Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving and LeBron James, Golden State’s Stephen Curry, Houston’s James Harden, New Orleans’ Anthony Davis, New York’s Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis, Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid, Phoenix’s Eric Bledsoe, Portland’s Damian Lillard, Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins and Toronto’s Kyle Lowry.

The National Strength and Conditioning Association announced that Miami HEAT Assistant Coach/Strength & Conditioning Coach Bill Foran has been named the Professional Strength and Conditioning Coach of the Year. Foran, who becomes the fourth recipient of the award, will receive the honor at the NSCA’s Coaches Conference which is held in Nashville, TN from January 4 through January 6. Past winners of the award include Ashley Jones of the Edinburgh Rugby team in Scotland, Casey Bond of the Colorado Avalanche and Joe Kenn of the Carolina Panthers.

Foran, who has been the HEAT’s strength and conditioning coach since its inception and is currently in his 29th season with the organization, supervises a combination of strength training, plyometrics, conditioning, stretching and nutrition to ensure Miami’s players’ produce maximum results on the court. In addition to this honor, Foran was inducted into the USA Strength and Conditioning Coaches Hall of Fame in 2014 and was named as the 2009 Co-NBA Strength Coach of the Year.

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