Monthly Archives: July 2017

James Harden explodes for 51 points in win against 76ers

James Harden certainly looked a lot like the NBA’s next MVP Friday night while leading the Rockets to a thrilling 123-118 win on the road against the 76ers.

Harden scored an incredible 51 points on 16 of 28 shooting from the field, 6 of 11 shooting from beyond the arc and 13 of 14 from the free-throw line. He finished the incredibly efficient game with 13 assists and 13 rebounds.

At this point, though, the Cavs are on the trade train. Lowe reports Cleveland wants a big return in any Irving deal, most importantly a “blue-chip young player.” ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, who initially broke the news of Irving’s request, doesn’t see Irving wearing a Cavs uniform much longer.

“I don’t think they can (keep Irving),” Windhorst said during an appearance on “SportsCenter.” “Kyrie told Dan Gilbert when they sat down he didn’t want to play with LeBron anymore. LeBron knows that, and I don’t think there’s any coming back. So, eventually, I think the Cavs will trade Kyrie Irving.”

Well, in that case… back to the Trade Machine!

On the other hand, LeBron sees what’s on the court and likely is convinced it isn’t good enough to hang with the Warriors or Spurs in the NBA Finals — maybe not even good enough to hold onto the top seed in the East over the Raptors and Celtics. Cleveland is 30-13 this season, but leads Toronto by just three games and Boston by 4 1/2 heading into Wednesday’s action. Will that concern force Griffin into rushing a move to appease his superstar?t_rangers_046-115x115

The Thunder rallied from being down 21 points in the third quarter

The Knicks (28-47) were officially eliminated from playoff contention with Wednesday’s 105-88 loss to the Heat and Carmelo Anthony did little to prevent the defeat. Anthony scored just 9 points, 13 below his season average, on 4-of-12 shooting and going just 1 of 5 from behind the 3-point arc. He rarely attacked the glass, simply going through the motions, and did not attempt a single free throw.
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The Bucks (39-36) remain one of the NBA’s hottest teams and were impressive in Wednesday’s 103-100 win over the Celtics. While Giannis Antetokounmpo led the way with 22 points, the dagger came from Malcolm Brogdon, who hitter a contested jumper with 3.9 seconds remaining and finished with 16 points.

Cavaliers (47-26) at Bulls (35-39), 8 p.m. ET — Both teams need this one, but for different reasons. The struggling Cavs are in danger of losing their grasp on the top seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs with the Celtics right on their heels. The Bulls just hope to get into the field, sitting a game-and-a-half behind the Pacers and Heat for the final playoff spots in the East.

The Thunder rallied from being down 21 points in the third quarter, and it wouldn’t have been possible without Westbrook. Yes he scored 57 total points, but he scored 19 of those with 7:45 remaining in the fourth quarter.

He could not be stopped as he drove to the basket and what seemed like every possession, and scored more often than not.

Russell Westbrook now has 425 points in the final 5 minutes of the 4th quarter this season, most by any player over the last 20 seasons.
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Oscar Robertson has the NBA record of 41 triple-doubles in a season. Westbrook recorded his 38th such performance last night, meaning he’s three away from tying and four away from breaking the record.

The Thunder have eight games left in the regular season, meaning he has to get a triple-double in half of the games left for the record. Achieving this will be difficult, but not impossible.

Brown has always carried a reputation as a good coach who just has not had much to work with

With athletic big men like Whiteside and Willie Reed rolling hard to the basket and three shooters on the perimeter, teams have had a tough time slowing Waiters down when he gets a full head of steam attacking downhill. He’s not an elite finisher at the basket, but he still converts around half of his looks from there. He’s also a threat to pull-up from midrange having made 46.2 percent of such attempts since Jan. 17.

Waiters still relies on isolations to score a lot of his points — 21.7 percent of his offense in total — but he’s been a more efficient scorer in isolation than he has out of the pick-and-roll with 1.01 points per possession in the second half of the season. Even though he doesn’t set up players as much in isolation as he does in the pick-and-roll, his ability to create for himself has been a welcome addition to a team lacking playmakers. For example, Waiters created the game-winning 3-pointer out of isolation against the Warriors in January.
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Authentic Youth Drew Brees Jersey Brown has always carried a reputation as a good coach who just has not had much to work with, dealing with an asymmetric roster and a mostly injured crew of potential young stars. That is slated to change this year, with the addition of No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz and veteran free agents J.J. Redick and Amir Johnson.

A summer after watching star Kevin Durant bolt for Golden State, Presti could have stood pat and simply hoped MVP point guard Russell Westbrook signed a new contract ahead of free agency next summer. Instead, Presti was aggressive, pulling together the deal that brought Paul George to the Thunder. It is a risky move because it’s possible, or even likely, that George will bolt in free agency next summer, and Westbrook might still leave, too. But it is a gutsy move with a high payoff.

Warriors to sign Jose Calderon after Lakers buyout, report says

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Jose Calderon appears to be on his way to Oakland.

The Warriors intend to sign the Spaniard as the team’s third point guard once his buyout with the Lakers is complete, the San Jose Mercury News reported Sunday.

Clippers owner Steve Ballmer and Kroenke have held discussions about the Clippers leaving Staples Center and moving to Inglewood, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Neither the Rams nor the Clippers offered comment to the Times.

Ballmer, the former Microsoft CEO, and Kroenke, a real-estate mogul, are two of the richest owners in sports. A partnership between the two could complicate the Chargers’ expected move into the Rams’ new stadium in 2019. The Chargers announced a move from San Diego to L.A. in January, but will spent two seasons at StubHub Center in Carson before joining the Rams in Inglewood.
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In that case, Johnson needs to remember how Thomas and the Knicks operated during the Carmelo Anthony trade in 2011. As general manager Donnie Walsh was content to go after Anthony in another five months in the coming free-agency sweepstakes, Thomas worked with owner James Dolan behind the scenes to bring in Anthony at the deadline.

Walsh assumed, correctly, that Anthony had only the Knicks in mind and was content to wait, so there was no need to deal off assets. But every time the Nuggets asked to up the offer, Thomas advised Dolan to meet the demands, and the Knicks ended up gutting their team, needlessly.

Johnson doesn’t need to make a preemptive strike and call up Bird, offering his young players for George. He can wait and be as patient as he says he needs to be. Magic doesn’t have to be bold at his new job, necessarily. Just smart.

Lonzo Ball: I’m a better team leader than Washington’s Markelle Fultz

Lonzo Ball is starting to sound a lot like his dad, LaVar Ball.

The former UCLA star said he is a better player than Washington prospect Markelle Fultz, citing his leadership skills.

Philadelphia announced Friday that Covington’s right knee revealed a slight tear of the lateral meniscus. Okafor is still dealing with right knee soreness.

Okafor, who has not played since March 22 against the Thunder, really stepped up after the 76ers traded Nerlens Noel away to the Mavericks, and Joel Embiid was ruled out for the season.

The 76ers seemingly can’t catch a break when it comes to promising, young centers.

With the season nearly over and Philadelphia well out of playoff contention, it was wise to shut down the team’s young stars so they can be healthy and ready to compete next season.

Ben Simmons, the No. 1 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, missed the entire season, but should be ready to start next season.

It’s unlikely he would be able to sustain those numbers with that level of efficiency over an entire season — he would join elite players like Allen Iverson, Michael Jordan and LeBron James if he did — but McCollum would be in a position to prove himself as an All-Star caliber talent. Plus, McCollum is an excellent pick-and-roll scorer. It makes up 35.2 percent of his offense on the season, and he ranks in the 79.2 percentile with 0.93 points per possession.

That would make him a great fit in D’Antoni’s system since Harden went from scoring 25.9 percent of his points in the pick-and-roll last season to 40.7 percent this season.steelers_123

Reese gets a surprisingly small amount of credit for the Giants’ turnaround

It’s too soon to label this as an Andy Reid hire,” even though Veach’s ties to Reid went deeper than John Dorsey’s were. This will be his 11th season with Reid going back to their Eagles days, and his strength is scouting. Ironically, he benefits not only from his Reid connection and his time under Dorsey, but from the man who likely would have inherited this job had he not taken the GM gig with the Colts earlier this offseason: his ex-boss, Chris Ballard.

Welcome the first of the four rookie general managers, and congratulate him on making such a good early impression. Lynch is generally considered to have owned his Bears’ counterpart on the draft-day trade down one spot from the second pick. Stockpiling picks and stripping down the roster gives him a little bit of a cushion, and a little bit of a honeymoon.
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Reese gets a surprisingly small amount of credit for the Giants’ turnaround, compared to the grief he got for the downfall that preceded it. He went against his and the franchise’s entire philosophy, dug deep into free agency and pulled out a bunch of winners. Re-signing Odell Beckham Jr. is already an adventure; how Reese navigates that will be under the kind of scrutiny the Giants try to avoid.

None of this, however, affected the top of the rankings, which are based on tangible and intangible criteria and spans their entire bodies of work. The No. 1 ranking, again, should not be a surprise.
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Springer’s Dingers has become the hot new MLB catch phrase to explain Springer’s towering home runs. The Astros outfielder, who helped Houston earn a 12-2 win over the Blue Jays Friday night, collected four hits, four runs scored, two home runs and five RBIs.

Fans attending Home Run Derby asked to support Aaron Judge by dressing in provided robes

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The Yankees have a special 18-seat section in the outfield stands of their ballpark to promote rising star Aaron Judge, and Major League Baseball liked the idea so much it decided to borrow The Judge’s Chambers for Monday’s Home Run Derby.

The odds-on favorite to win the Derby, Judge has blasted 30 home runs, breaking Joe DiMaggio’s Yankees rookie record set in 1936. He also is only one of two rookies to have 30 home runs before the All-Star Break (Mark McGwire had 33 before the break in 1987 and holds the single-season rookie home run record with 49).

Obviously, he rubbed some fans the wrong way, the six-time Pro Bowler said. I know people get on him about his nonchalant attitude, but I always enjoyed playing against him. I’m glad I got a lot of sacks against him. I’ll miss that the most.

Of Matthews’ 72.5 career sacks, 8.5 of those sacks came against the former Bears QB. However, he had not sacked the newly minted Fox Sports analyst in more than two years, so maybe it’s not such a bad thing that Mike Glennon may be the one taking the majority of the hits in the coming years.

He’s certainly looking forward to getting after whoever is in the backfield for the Bears in coming years.
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Hopefully the next in line in Chicago will be as equally willing to help me pad my stats, Matthews said.

Isaiah Thomas gains brief respite from grief in playing Game 1 for Celtics

For 2 1/2 hours, Isaiah Thomas could do what comes naturally. His heart, heavy for the better part of a day, became just another organ, powering his forays up and down 94 feet of hardwood at TD Garden. His brain, addled with more than 24 hours of remembrance and tragedy, could return to familiar, comfortable territory — the mechanics of the playbook, the cool impassiveness of Xs and Os. Thomas could just play basketball.

And he did. Thomas did what he could to push the Celtics the way he has all season. He scored, finishing with 33 points. He tried to push the tempo, and wound up with six rebounds and five assists. He came on late in the game, with 12 points in the final quarter even as he was being blanketed at times by long-armed ace defender Jimmy Butler.

While Westbrook is a top contender for NBA MVP, Houston’s MVP candidate had a much more efficient night. James Harden was 7 of 17 from the floor, including 3 of 7 from long range, to finish with a team-high 35 points and eight assists. The Rockets also got 15 points from guard Patrick Beverley, who provided some late heroics as Houston went on a 10-0 run to take a 114-104 lead with 1:22 remaining.

Eric Gordon and Lou Williams each were 8 of 14 off the bench as Gordon had 22 points and Williams finished with 21. A Gordon 3-pointer with 8:07 remaining gave the Rockets their first lead of the game at 96-94.

The Thunder might be in trouble if Westbrook can’t get some help, or allow his teammates to help, as the series moves to Oklahoma City for Friday’s Game 3.

Wizards guards John Wall and Bradley Beal both had big games in Washington’s 109-101 win over the Hawks. Wall scored 32 points to go with five rebounds and nine assists. Beal had 31 points, including a 3-pointer off a Wall assist with 38 seconds remaining that helped seal the victory.

17 NBA teams will participate in first ‘NBA 2K’ esports season

The NBA and video game publisher 2K Sports announced an esports initiative back in February that will involve the league heavily in the competitive gaming space. NBA teams will have their own NBA 2K franchises, made up of five players using created characters, as they go through a league-like regular season and postseason structure.

Seventeen teams will be ready to go in the inaugural NBA 2K eLeague season when it begins in 2018.

Stephen Curry led the charge by scoring 37 points on 12 of 20 shooting, including 7 of 11 from beyond the arc. He also added eight assists and seven rebounds.
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Draymond Green added 21 points and Klay Thompson chipped in with 18 points.

Stefan Charles Womens Jersey Kevin Durant returned to play in his first game since straining his left calf during Game 1. He scored 10 points with three rebounds in 20 minutes of action.

The Trail Blazers were thoroughly outmatched Monday despite playing on their home court. Damian Lillard did all he could do, pouring in 34 points with six assists, but backcourt mate C.J. McCollum scored just six points in support on 2 of 12 shooting.

We were just too cool, Lue said. I thought we were too laid-back. I said in the timeout two or three times that we were just too cool, and they were just going to come in and lay down.

Too cool is one explanation. Too old is another. There’s a reason the Cavs have been horrid defensively, especially against pick-and-roll ballhandlers; they were fifth-worst in the league during the regular season on a per-possession basis and the worst in the playoffs through two games.

Cavs’ defense problem Thomas, Celts couldn’t solve in Game 1

This game may have been lost on its first possession, 26 seconds into the action. Celtics star point guard Isaiah Thomas came off a screen from Al Horford on the top right wing and accepted a handoff. Immediately, guard J.R. Smith collapsed on Thomas, forcing him into the corner. He was quickly joined by power forward Kevin Love, and Thomas found himself a 5-9 squirrel looking up at 13-plus feet of pines.

Ryan O’Reilly Game Jersey Thomas tried to find daylight. Instead, Love stripped the ball from Thomas for a turnover. The Cavaliers never looked back from there. They led wire to wire and won 117-104 to open the Eastern Conference finals at TD Garden.

We already had Davon Reed’s 6-foot-5-plus with a 7-foot wingspan measurement from Portsmouth, but it’s still a strong showing again for the Miami wing who can shoot and handle.
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Lastly among the wing/forward types, Justin Jackson (from Maryland) put up a 6-7 measurement with a 7-foot-3-plus wingspan, a terrific number for someone who is adept at not only hitting the occasional 3-pointer, but also ripping and running with rebounds on the break. He still needs marked skill improvement, but this is a good place to start for him.

UCLA’s Ike Anigbogu had measurements that help to portray why he is considered a likely first-round pick by many NBA scouts despite limited playing time for the Bruins. He came in at slightly under 6-10, but he also has a 7-foot-6-plus wingspan to pair with a 9-foot-2.5 standing reach and an outrageous 5.4 percent body fat at 252 pounds. His athletic testing will also be closely monitored, as he should play well there, too. But among big men, Anigbogu’s measurements were best.