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NBA News

Rookie of the first trimester posted by NBA News

The NBA's much-hyped Class of 2014, as a collective, is in the midst of a thoroughly forgettable and deflating introduction to the pros. Only two rookies -- Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker -- are scoring in double figures. And that's with Wiggins leading all rookies at a mere 12.6 points per game, with Parker, after going No. 2 overall, suddenly out for the season after a knee tear that has sadly shelved him just like No. 3 pick Joel Embiid (foot), No. 4 Aaron Gordon (foot) and No. 7 Julius Randle (leg). 

So you could make the argument, in this climate, that we should have skipped this category entirely for Trimester purposes. The problem there is that some youngster is eventually going to win Rookie of the Year honors in late April or early May, no matter how underwhelming his production might be, so we're somewhat duty-bound to try to identify a leader at the one-third stage. 

Which brings us to Nikola Mirotic. 

Perhaps he's not a rookie in the truest sense after spending more than half a decade in Real Madrid's system before finally matriculating to Chicago, but what qualifies as big league production from Mirotic in the month of December -- averages of 10.9 points, 5.9 rebounds and .419 shooting from 3-point range -- is enough to put him in the lead. 

Who else could we conceivably propose here? Wiggins and Nerlens Noel have shown occasional flashes, as has Noel's Philly teammate K.J. McDaniels, but none of those more celebrated recent draftees is clearly on an upward career arc at this juncture. 

Continue reading "Rookie of the first trimester"

Wizards Fan

The 1 Thing Keeping Washington Wizards from True Title Contention posted by Wizards Fan

Efficient offensive practices in today's NBA largely revolve around the three-point shot. Attempt more—in lieu of mid-range jump shots—and results will generally skew in your favor. 

Why, then, have the Wizards revolted against conventional analytical wisdom when they are a few tactical adjustments away from becoming a near-elite offense: 

They have fired up nearly twice as many midrange jumpers as 3-pointers, despite converting identical percentages on 3s and long 2s. If one apple is healthier and more delicious than another at the same price, why the heck are you going for the rotten one?

The Wiz wield plenty of capable 3-point shooters in Bradley Beal, Rasual Butler and Paul Pierce, but they seem happy to bail out the defense and pull up in the midrange. If the Wiz shifted just 150 of their 822 midrange attempts into 3-pointers at their current conversion rates, they'd mathematically jump from being tied at 13th in offensive efficiency all the way up to seventh. Just by tweaking their shot allocation.

the Wizards are attempting 415 shots between eight to 16 feet and another 560 in that mid-range sweet spot that resides between 16 to 24 feet and with the season already a third complete, the Wizards need to alter their offensive strategy if they have a chance to make a significant playoff run. 

The good news is the Washington Wizards are protected by the cocoon that is the Eastern Conference's ineptitude. 

Safely nestled into a top-five seed at the very worst, the Washington Wizards still have plenty of time to correct their early-season inefficiencies and emerge as a potent shooting machine capable of capturing a conference title. It'll just take a little discipline along the way to make the dream a reality.

Continue reading "The 1 Thing Keeping Washington Wizards ..."

Jazz Fan

Alec Burks, Gordon Hayward lead Jazz past Grizzlies posted by Jazz Fan

After losing to Eastern Conference foes Chicago and Cleveland over the weekend, Memphis showed signs of fatigue in not being able to counter Utah's youth, allowing the Jazz to beat the Grizzlies 97-91 on Monday night.

Alec Burks scored 23 points and Gordon Hayward added 21 to lead the Jazz, who withstood a late push by hitting eight of 10 free throws down the stretch for their third win in the last four.

Derrick Favors finished with 15 points, while Enes Kanter added 13 points and nine rebounds. Rudy Gobert had a career-best 16 rebounds as the Jazz dominated the boards 49-34.

"I think our offensive game started with our defense," Hayward said. "We have a goal of not letting teams score over 24 points per quarter, and we won on three of four quarters."

Utah connected on 9 of 19 from outside the arc to create a buffer from Memphis. Another factor, beyond the rebounding margin, was the Jazz converting 20 of 27 free throws, while Memphis went to the line only nine times in the game, making eight.

Utah led through much of the second half until Gasol connected with 5:32 left for a 77-75 Memphis lead. Burks answered with a 3-pointer, and Utah never let go of the lead the final 5 minutes in rebounding from a 104-86 loss Saturday at Charlotte.

"It was big for our confidence to be able to come back and get a road win here in Memphis after a poor performance in Charlotte," Jazz guard Trey Burke said.

The Jazz pushed the lead to six points in the third quarter, and managed to keep the Grizzlies at bay through most of the period as Hayward had nine points and Kanter added seven.

Continue reading "Alec Burks, Gordon Hayward lead Jazz ..."

Raptors Fan

Raptors dominate Pistons down the stretch posted by Raptors Fan

It really was a nothing contretemps, a cheap elbow on James Johnson by frustrated Pistons centre Andre Drummond, but it precipitated a little shoving and pushing and jawing that was entirely a show of force by the supremely confident Raptors.

“Our team, we’re built for that,” Johnson said of the mild incident in the fourth quarter of yet another Toronto win, this one 110-100 over the Pistons here on Friday. “We’ve been brothers since the first day of pre-season. We go hard for each other. I do that for anyone of them, just like you seen Chuck (Hayes), Pat (Patterson) and GV (Greivis Vasquez) do that for me. We’re all a group, we’re all brothers, we all love each other and that’s the big reason for our success.”

Minutes earlier, Johnson had thrown down a wicked dunk over Drummond — “that was nasty, right? I cocked that joint back and banged on him,” Johnson said — that was as vicious as it was emphatic.

It had to gall Drummond no end, and when Johnson was going by him a couple of possessions later, the Pistons’ big man floored the Raptor with an elbow.

“On a play like that it could go either way, it was a hard foul,” Drummond said. “He got a dunk the play before and he was feeling good so I was just trying to protect the paint. That’s really it and it turned out to be a hard foul. Emotions were high during the game. It happens, it’s basketball. There were no hard feelings. I have nothing against him.

It immediately started a surge of Raptors towards the Pistons, who basically took a step back as the scrum developed.

Continue reading "Raptors dominate Pistons down the stretch"

Spurs Fan

Spurs picture coming into focus or is it? posted by Spurs Fan

The San Antonio Spurs have always been more than the sum of their parts, but some parts seem to be proving more essential than others.

Reigning Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard's 9.75-inch-long hands are one of those parts.

Unfortunately, he tore a ligament in his right paw during a Dec. 9 loss to the Utah Jazz, dealing the franchise a significant blow amid what's almost certainly its most difficult month of competition.

In turn, San Antonio has lost six of its last eight games without Leonard and six of its last seven overall. 

At the moment, there's no timetable for the fourth-year pro's return. Nor has there been any news that could be construed as particularly good.

Leonard is averaging 15.2 points, 7.6 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.0 steals in 32.2 minutes per contest—all on pace to be career highs. He's also looking for his offense more assertively, attempting 12.3 field goals and 4.1 free throws per game.

Having played 29.1 minutes and taken 9.8 shots per contest a season ago, the additional playing time and touches have had a lot to do with that evolution.

Leonard is the player who seems to tip the scale in making this Spurs squad the best in the organization's history. Even with past players such as Mario Elie, Sean Elliott, Robert Horry and Stephen Jackson, the Spurs have never had a player like Leonard on any of their championship rosters. Leonard turned the Big Three into a Fab Four. It makes them the one Spurs squad that could beat the other championship squads in franchise history if they were to mythically play each other in the Finals. Kawhi 

Continue reading "Spurs picture coming into focus or is it?"

Sac Kings Fan

Clock is ticking on Sacramento Kings’ season posted by Sac Kings Fan

It seems like just yesterday that the Sacramento Kings were 9-6.  They were the talk of the league and for very good reasons but now they’re making headlines for the wrong reasons.

The wheels have fallen off the Kings’ bus.  Michael Malone was relieved of his duties.  The locker room has clearly taken a turn and persistent rumors of coaching changes, roster remakes and quirky additions have this team running on fumes.

Josh Smith signed with the Houston Rockets on Christmas Eve, George Karl is in limbo and the potential trade with the Brooklyn Nets for former All-Star point guard Deron Williams now on life support.  

At 12-16, Sacramento is just one really good stretch away from being back in the conversation. But where does the team go from here?  Do they reignite talks with the Nets for Williams?  Should they hire George Karl and pray he has another fix hiding in his bag?  Should they try for another blockbuster deal or should they just stand pat and let interim head coach Tyrone Corbin try to rescue the team from the spiraling drain?

Tyrone Corbin is a very solid coach that can at least get this team to the end of the season.  The same can be said about Collison as a point guard and Thompson in the paint. But solid isn’t what the Sacramento Kings are looking for.  Solid isn’t what sells tickets or gets this team out of the lottery.

Clearly there’s no plan in place.  And now the ownership and front office have put themselves in a pickle.  They have potentially thrown away a season, the fans are upset and a Hail Mary or two is in order.

Continue reading "Clock is ticking on Sacramento Kings’ season"

Blazers Fan

Damian Lillard leads wild Blazers comeback in Oklahoma City 115-111 in OT posted by Blazers Fan

Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers came out on top in a wild point guard match-up against Russell Westbrook 115-111 in overtime in Oklahoma City.

The Blazers comeback would not have been were it not for a boneheaded series of plays from Westbrook. Westbrook was the biggest reason the Thunder were winning but a useless personal foul in the backcourt coupled with a technical allowed the Blazers to cut the lead to seven with no time coming off the clock.

Then Lillard came down and hit a deep three off a screen. In the blink of an eye the lead went from 10 to four.

Aldridge and Lillard combined for 32 of Portland’s final 42 points.

Another key to Portland’s success late was head coach Terry Stotts decided to match the Thunder’s 3-guard line-up with Steve Blake and bring in more athleticism in Dorell Wright. Wright didn’t play since his crucial role in Friday’s 3OT win against the Spurs.

Wright didn’t have the 3-point barrage he had against San Antonio but grabbed some crucial rebounds and had a nice tip in in overtime to give the Blazers breathing room.

The Blazers capped off an incredibly successful trip with wins against the Spurs, Pelicans and Thunder without Robin Lopez and getting two of those without Nicolas Batum. The Blazers are nearing the end of a grueling December which had 10 of 16 games on the road.

The Blazers are succeeding when schedules and injury continue seem to say they shouldn’t.

And with 7 of the next 10 days off, the Blazers have earned a considerable amount of rest. They are banged up and sick and certainly need it. Although Lillard and Matthews have played every night, you could tell with the amount of miscommunications the Blazers had tonight they were running out of gas.

Continue reading "Damian Lillard leads wild Blazers ..."

Sixers Fan

Suns' Zoran Dragic playing without regrets posted by Sixers Fan

With the game already put away and the Pheonix Suns looking at a loss to the Los Angeles Clippers, rookie Zoran Dragic came into the game amounting to a missed 3-pointer and a couple sprints up and back on the Staples Center floor last month.

That is all most people have seen of Suns rookie Zoran Dragic, who has spent nearly the entire season on the inactive list except for that two-minute cameo in mop-up duty against the Clippers.

It’s not necessarily surprising given that he is a rookie. In fact it was expected but perhaps not to Zoran, younger brother of Sun Goran Dragic, who played for ten years as a pro and starting for their national team on the way to the World Cup quarterfinals last summer.

Yet Zoran is keeping a positive attitude about the whole thing, or at least that’s what he’s telling himself and reporters. He says he has no regrets about negotiating a buyout from Spanish club Unicaja Malaga to come to the NBA, even if it means not seeing the floor and being relegated to developing through individual work and rare practices.

"I know it's my rookie year and that's how it is," Zoran said. "I must be patient and practice hard. When I get an opportunity, I need to show what I have.

"I am happy. Everybody basketball player's dream is to come to the NBA but my dream was to come here and stay in the NBA."

Zoran's first two weeks in the NBA were difficult. He came to the U.S. on the weekend before training camp and had to leave the country later to get a work visa. He was having difficulty adjusting to the culture and the league but living with his brother helped smooth the process.

Continue reading "Suns' Zoran Dragic playing without regrets"

Sixers Blog

76ers Missing a Clear-Cut Building Block posted by Sixers Blog

Is there a surefire star in Philly? The Philadelphia 76ers certainly hope so.

All of the losses this team has suffered the past two seasons (63 in 2013-14, 23 and counting this time around) have essentially produced Michael Carter-Williams, Nerlens Noel and Joel Embiid.

European forward Dario Saric could eventually be a part of this puzzle, but he may not come stateside before 2016 at the earliest. And promising rookie K.J. McDaniels' unique one-year deal means he will already hit restricted free agency next summer.

So, without knowing what future drafts will hold for the Sixers, Carter-Williams, Noel and Embiid make up the bulk of hope for this forward-thinking franchise. Each offers a certain amount of intrigue, but none remotely qualifies as a guaranteed star.

The lanky 6'6" Carter-Williams stuffs a stat sheet well, but his career .404/.264/.690 shooting slash may limit him to being a quantity-over-quality producer. Noel has already shown to be a disruptive defender (1.6 steals and 1.5 blocks), but his offense needs plenty of work. Embiid could have the highest ceiling of all three, though injuries might prevent him from realizing his potential.

the Sixers are not short on hope. They are, however, painfully thin on sure things. And a growing pile of future draft picks is not going to change that.

"You can't assure yourself of anything in the lottery," former NBA deputy commissioner Russ Granik said, per David Gelles of The New York Times. "And you can't assure yourself when the next LeBron James or Tim Duncan is going to come along."

Continue reading "76ers Missing a Clear-Cut Building Block"

Magic Fan

Magic Hang Tight With Cavs Before Falling Short posted by Magic Fan

Midway through Friday’s second quarter, the Magic were in possession of a feel-good 10-point lead on the star-studded Cleveland Cavaliers, confetti inexplicably starting falling from the rafters.

It was a case of premature celebration considering LeBron James’ propensity for taking games over late and the Magic’s struggles in the clutch in recent weeks.

Orlando started strong and matched the Cavs blow for blow most of the night only to see James come alive in the fourth quarter as the Magic went cold at the wrong time. James ended up with 29 points – one more than the Magic over the final 12 minutes of the game – to lead Cleveland to a 98-89 victory that wrecked Orlando’s hopes of capturing a signature win.

``You just watch the film on the game and you will see two different teams. One from the first three quarters and one from the last quarter, especially the last five minutes of the game,’’ frustrated forward Tobias Harris said.

``A big part of this league is at the end of the game having the ability to put the basketball in someone’s hands and that person makes a play,’’ Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said. ``How many possessions at the end of the game was the ball in LeBron’s hands? He made the plays for himself and for his teammates.

``We’re still growing and understand where we want the ball and in whose hands,’’ Vaughn continued. ``And we’re still learning how to finish once the ball is in that person’s hands.’’

Continue reading "Magic Hang Tight With Cavs Before Falling Short"

NBA Basketball News

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Atlanta radio jock launches ugly Twitter attack on ESPN's Jessica Mendoza (Big League Stew)

Jessica Mendoza became the first woman to work as an analyst during an MLB postseason game on Tuesday night, as part of ESPN's broadcast booth for the Houston Astros and New York Yankees in the AL wild-card game . She was spot-on too, delivering the type of analysis that has led to a larger role at ESPN this MLB season. She earned a spot calling a Monday Night Baseball game in August , then was promoted to the network's top baseball event, Sunday Night Baseball, when Curt Schilling was suspended in September. [Elsewhere:  Astros blank Yankees 3-0 in AL wild-card game ] Mendoza, 34, is an Olympic gold medalist in softball and considered one of the best players ever in the game. Softball and baseball aren't exactly the same thing, but Mendoza illustrated an ability to speak just as keenly about baseball during her tenure at ESPN. Some fans were surprised to hear a woman on their TV Tuesday night, particularly if they hadn't been following the ESPN Sunday Night Baseball telecasts the last month of the season. But she'd been there, calling games, imparting knowledge and earning good reviews from baseball people. Certain fans don't like her — and won't like her — but then again some people are never going to say anything nice about a woman doing what is mostfrequently regarded as a man's job. It's 2015, but we haven't fully broken that barrier yet. Twitter rants by your average dude who has a problem with women aren't news, honestly. The Internet is filled with such people and such opinions. But you'd think Mike Bell , a sports radio jock in Atlanta, would know better. After all, he has a radio show on 92.9 The Game . He knows how broadcasting works. And he knows there are some things you say when the mic is on and some things you don't. RIght? Bell sent out the following tweet during Tuesday's game, which he later deleted when the response wasn't a bunch of hooting and hollering and testosterone like he expected. But it was preserved by Boiled Sports . A woman made history tonight calling an MLB Playoff game for ESPN. This is what an Atlanta radio guy thought of it. — Boiled Sports (@BoiledSports) October 7, 2015 Wow. Not only is it insulting, but it's a super old reference too. That reference, coincidentally, was from "Anchorman," in a scene where TV anchor Ron Burgundy is uncomfortable with a woman joining his all-male team. That makes it even more of a face-palmer, as the film eventually shows us that Burgundy was wrong for doubting his female coworker.  Like we said, Bell apologized , which is to be commended. But it you look at more of his tweets, you'll see that he apologized partially because he "had no idea it would blow up." Bell's Twitter bio identifies him as a "12 year old with a driver's license," so maybe an adolescent response of "ewww, girls" shouldn't be all that surprising.  While he deleted the tweet that started it all, Bell kept some of his others. Such as: Really? A women's softball slugger as guest analyst on MLB Wildcard Game? Once again ESPN too frigging cute for their own good. — Mike Bell (@mikebell929) October 7, 2015 You guys are telling me there isn't a more qualified Baseball player ESPN can use than a softball player? Gimme a break! — Mike Bell (@mikebell929) October 7, 2015 We certainly don't expect the male-dominated sports world to open its arms at the first sign of women getting high-profile jobs. We're not that naive. We know that people don't like change, particularly when it involves having to include people who were excluded before. Oh, but there's no denying that change is happening. The old-boys network, little by little, is recognizing that women have a place in male sports. It's why the Oakland A's recently hired the first female coach in MLB , why the San Antonio Spurs have a female coach who's a rising star and why a woman cracked the NFL gender barrier earlier this year. We have women sportswriters, women sports talk hosts, women public address announcers at stadiums. Each group has fought the "No Girls Allowed" sign at some point and each group has succeeded.  [ Related: Rays pitcher Chris Archer shows talent for TV in wild-card game ] Here's an important point, though: Jessica Mendoza is good at her job. And that's more crucial than any other sentence in this post. She's insightful and interesting and offers a different perspective. If you don't want to hear different voices and different opinions while watching sports, then why not just watch black-and-white VHS tapes from the good ol' days?  Yes, the world is changing. Fire off all the angry tweets you want, guys, but people like Jessica Mendoza are here to stay. And they're not ruining your sports-watching experience. They're adding to it. You just may not realize it yet. More MLB coverage from Yahoo Sports:   - - - - - - - Mike Oz is the editor of Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @MikeOz [read full article]

From Yahoo Sports

Lakers' Russell exits exhibition game with bruised glute (The Associated Press)

HONOLULU (AP) -- Los Angeles Lakers rookie point guard D'Angelo Russell left their exhibition game against Utah in the first quarter Tuesday night with a bruised glute muscle. [read full article]

From Yahoo Sports

Burks scores 6 of his 27 in OT to lift Jazz past Lakers (The Associated Press)

Alec Burks scored six of his 27 points in overtime to help the Utah Jazz beat the Los Angeles Lakers 117-114 in a preseason game Tuesday night. Burks shot 9 of 14 from the field to lead five players in double figures. Rodney Hood had 21 points, Trey Burke added 15, Trey Lyles 13 and Jeff Withey 11 for the Jazz (2-0). [read full article]

From Yahoo Sports

Mudiay scores 17, Nuggets down Dallas 96-86 (Yahoo Sports)

[read full article]

From Yahoo Sports

Butler, McDermott pace Bulls over Bucks, 105-95 (Yahoo Sports)

[read full article]

From Yahoo Sports

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