Culture of Hoops

News and Rumors: Week of 12.8.2013

12/14/2013 – Spurs finish fourth quarter comeback to beat Timberwolves:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XjLbn2x89BY[/youtube]

Having no answer for Kevin Love for three-and-a-half quarters, the San Antonio Spurs made Minnesota solve their Big 3. The Timberwolves failed. Tony Parker had 29 points to offset Love’s season-high 42 points and San Antonio rallied for a 117-110 victory over Minnesota on Friday night. Manu Ginobili had 20 points and nine assists, fueling a 37-21 fourth quarter that helped the Spurs avoid their second home loss this season. Tim Duncan added 12 points and 14 rebounds. Duncan, Parker and Ginobili have won three NBA titles together and are the active leaders for wins as a trio. That experience paid off against the Timberwolves, who have not made the playoffs since 2005. “It’s got to show up somewhere,” Duncan said of the trio’s experience. “If you want to call it that, it is what it is. We know what’s going on out there, especially when it gets down to crunch time and things really count. We’ve made plays long enough that we know where each other is going to be.” Ginobili and Parker combined to score San Antonio’s final points in a 26-12 closing run, and teamed with Duncan to dish out all but one of the team’s final five assists and seven of its last 11 rebounds. ESPN

I watched the fourth quarter of this game and Ricky Rubio’s inability to hit a jumpshot really hurt Minnesota. Rajon Rondo has an issue with his jumper too but he is a great finisher at the basket whereas Rubio is not. Is this the achilles’ heel of the Timberwolves in crunch time? – AL

12/14/2013 – Suns seeking to trade draft picks in effort to compete now: The Suns, obviously encouraged by a promising start and with several attractive assets at their disposal, are making it known around the league they are open to trading one or more picks in the loaded 2014 draft if they can get an established star capable of making an impact now, NBA.com has learned. The move to capitalize on the enviable flexibility of probably having two choices in June and as many as four, along with the potential of about $20 million in cap space in the summer, comes with Phoenix at 12-9 and far exceeding most preseason projections. Adding a proven player in exchange for the uncertainty of the draft, even one as stacked as 2014, could greatly accelerate the rebuilding and firmly establish the Suns as a playoff regular again. The aggressive front office of owner Robert Sarver, president of basketball operations Lon Babby and general manager Ryan McDonough, has not even put the Suns’ own pick, the only one with a chance to deliver a selection at the top of the lottery, off limits. They will obviously ask for protections in negotiations if that choice is in play and may even insist on it, but whether Phoenix can get them in the end will undoubtedly depend on the names involved from the other side. NBA

The head coach says that to players and then “a source” tells a reporter. That’s pretty hilarious. – AL

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12/13/2013 – Nets win third consecutive game after defeating the Clippers:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vgQJRNICUig[/youtube]

The Nets are still a dangerous team when healthy. Let’s hope the team can avoid the injury bug so we can see their potential. – AL

12/13/2013 – Knicks attempting to trade for Raptors’ Kyle Lowry:

And might I add, the Raptors really enjoy trading with the Knicks. The Raptors will likely seek the Knicks’ 2020-24 first round picks once they panic-trade Carmelo Anthony in a few months. – AL

12/13/2013 – Lakers’ Steve Blake out for a minimum of six weeks with an elbow injury: Steve Blake will be out at least six weeks because of a torn ligament in his right elbow, meaning all three Lakers’ point guards are injured. Blake joins Steve Nash (nerve damage in his back) and Jordan Farmar (torn hamstring) on the sideline. The Lakers have an open roster spot but won’t add any point guards. They’ll see how they fare on their upcoming four-game trip with Kobe Bryant at point guard, backed up by Xavier Henry. Jodie Meeks and Nick Young could also see time at the point. “We’ll go bigger, slower…well, not slower, but we won’t go as fast,” Lakers Coach Mike D’Antoni said. “We’ll just try to pound it in and try to play a different way.” Los Angeles Times

Kobe playing full-time point guard? Get the popcorn ready. This is either going to go really well, or Leeroy-Jenkins bad . Thankfully, I have no horse in this race. – AL

 

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12/12/2013 – Stephen Curry hits game-winner to lead Warriors over Mavericks:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yMnTtEzgA80[/youtube]

Stephen Curry erased a forgettable first half for the Golden State Warriors with a fourth quarter to remember. Curry made a pull-up jumper with 3 seconds remaining to cap a sensational finishing stretch, rallying the Warriors from 18 points down to beat the Dallas Mavericks 95-93 on Wednesday night. “He’s a great player and an all-time great shooter,” Warriors coach Mark Jackson said. “I’ve seen Steph Curry every single day take that shot hundreds and hundreds of times, thousands of times, so when the curtains open up you expect it to go in.” Curry scored 16 of his 33 points in the final period. He finished with 10 assists, four rebounds and another big shot in a young career already full of them. With the clock winding down, Curry dribbled on the perimeter, came off a screen and faked a shot to send Shawn Marion jumping past him. Curry then hit the 19-footer to give Golden State, which trailed by 18 points late in the second quarter, the lead for good. “I kind of lulled him to sleep with the pump fake and thankfully it went in,” said Curry, who couldn’t recall making a game-winning shot since high school. ESPN

I would be shocked if Van Gundy was interested in the Knicks’ gig with a roster that does not fit his usual style but who knows. – AL

12/12/2013 – Rockets’ Omer Asik changes agents: Disgruntled Rockets center Omer Asik is changing agents, switching from Andy Miller to Arn Tellem of Wasserman Media Group, league sources told CBSSports.com on Tuesday. Asik’s decision to change agents was first reported on Twitter by the Turkish basketball site Superbasket.org. He must submit paperwork to the National Basketball Players Association to formalize the change, and then Tellem must wait 10 days before commencing representation. CBS Sports

Sigh, I wish I knew this kind of stuff before I made my preseason prediction for the Grizzlies. – AL

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12/11/2013 – Pacers downplay importance of victory over Heat:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gk-M8w3tziQ[/youtube]

“It feels good, but it’s just one game,” Roy Hibbert said after playing the role of difference-maker with a game-high 24 points on 10-of-15 shooting. “We’ve been there before, that’s the biggest thing. We’re not going to run around chest-bumping and stuff like that. It’s not like three years ago, when if we got a win like this it was the highlight of our season. We just have to move on.” David West, a steadying influence down the stretch when the game threatened to unravel on the Pacers, was asked if he thinks Miami is worried. After all, the Pacers have the better record by three games in the standings now, and took this one despite an awful start that spotted the Heat a 13-point first-quarter lead that was apparently the combined result of the hangover from the just-completed five-game road trip and their excitement over playing the Heat again. “Nah,” he said. “They won 20-whatever games (actually 27) in a row last year. They’ve already gone on a 10-game winning streak. We know they’re capable of winning 10 or 15 games (in a row). That’s almost inevitable in our minds. We have to continue to take care of business.” So there you have it. It wasn’t a statement game. It wasn’t a statement win. But they did speak more loudly than the Heat, who are finding it difficult to get excited about any game in December. NBA

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12/10/2013 – Bobcats defeat Warriors despite Curry’s 43-point outburst:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XRpIpNrGnXQ[/youtube]

I think it’s safe to say the Bobcats are better than most pundits expected them to be. – AL

12/10/2013 – Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver will consider abolishing divisions: Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver says he expects the NBA to consider whether having divisions is still useful, with every team in the Atlantic currently under .500. Silver said during an interview Monday on the SiriusXM NBA Radio channel that he has discussed ”whether divisions have outlived their usefulness” and that he believes the competition committee ”will be taking a fresh look at” the role of divisions when it next meets. Associated Press

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12/9/2013 – Kobe Bryant struggles in return from Achilles injury:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yrw_QR6D6ws[/youtube]

Bryant was moving well but was very rusty. He shot 2 of nine from the field and had eight turnovers. The optimism meter is at “very cautious.” – AL

12/9/2013 – Rudy Gay traded to the Kings: The Kings have reached an agreement to acquire forward Rudy Gay from Toronto in a multiplayer trade, a person familiar with the deal said Sunday night. The person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the trade is still pending NBA approval, said the deal is expected to be official Monday after players pass physicals. The Raptors will receive Greivis Vasquez, Patrick Patterson, John Salmons and Chuck Hayes. The Kings also will acquire Aaron Gray and Quincy Acy. Toronto was playing at the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday night. All three players involved in the trade for the Raptors were not in uniform against the Lakers. NBA

The Knicks are now 0-14 in games with less than 12 three-pointers made. Their regular season record stands at 5-14. Go figure. – AL

I love LeBron’s game as much as anyone but we should stop attempting to add superfluous stuff to his legacy for the sake of saying he can do everything on the court. – AL

I wouldn’t. Why are people so obsessed with Jeremy Lamb? – AL

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12/8/2013 – Monta Ellis hits buzzer beater as Mavs defeat Blazers:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dzo-6vVMqvg[/youtube]

On Saturday morning, the Mavericks added a play designed for Monta Ellis. It worked to perfection Saturday night. Ellis drained a 21-foot jumper with no time left on the clock and Dallas snapped Portland’s four-game winning streak with a 108-106 victory. The game winner came on an inbounds pass from Jose Calderon. “Calderon, we were walking out, we made eye contact and I told him, ‘Give me the ball, I’m ready for it,” Ellis said. “He gave it to me and I came off and hit the shot.” Ellis finished with 22 points and Dirk Nowitzki had 28, along with a season-high seven assists, for the Mavericks’ third straight win. Damian Lillard had a season-high 32 points for the Blazers, including a 3-pointer with 1.9 seconds left that tied it at 106. It was just the second loss at home this season for the red-hot Blazers (17-4), who lead the Western Conference and are off to their best start since the 1990-91 season. “It’s all a part of it,” Lillard said. “Sometimes you just lose games.” ESPN

What a game. I did not expect the Mavs or Blazers to do well this season. It’s good to be wrong, sometimes. – AL

12/8/2013 – Cavs’ fan walks onto the court during Cavs-Clippers game to implore Kyrie Irving not to leave the team: A fan walked onto the court during the second quarter of the Cleveland Cavaliers’ 88-82 win against the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday, tapped Kyrie Irving on the shoulder and continued to follow him down the court before finally being taken away. With 3:09 left in the second quarter, a fan wearing jeans and a black jacket walked onto the court behind Irving after the point guard had passed the ball to Andrew Bynum and stood on top of the key. After Bynum missed a shot in the paint, the fan tapped Irving on the shoulder, unzipped his jacket and tried to show him a white shirt that read, “KYRIE DONT LEAVE” in all caps, written in black marker. The fan then began to walk down the court in Irving’s direction as Chris Paul was dribbling the ball before the game was finally stopped at the 3:02 mark. Referee Gary Zielinski grabbed the fan before security ran onto the court and physically removed him as he tried to get away. The Cavaliers confirmed the fan, who is a minor, was in custody and removed from the arena. ESPN

What’s up with Cleveland fans walking onto the court? – AL

12/8/2013 – Luol Deng out with sore achilles: Luol Deng missed Saturday night’s game against the Pistons with a sore left Achilles, head coach Tom Thibodeau confirmed before tip-off. Deng’s status is listed as day-to-day, and it’s not believed to be anything serious. After averaging 48.5 minutes per game over the last two contests thanks to logging 56 minutes in a triple-overtime loss to New Orleans, the fact that this is a soft place in the schedule for Chicago likely played a factor in Deng getting a much-needed night off. Pro Basketball Talk

Didn’t we just do this, Mr. Thibodeau? Why is anyone averaging 48.5 minutes in a two-game span? Geez … – AL

12/8/2013 – Are the 76ers most likely to acquire Omer Asik via trade?: Keep your eye on Philadelphia. Front-runner would be overstating it, but the notion that the Sixers are a viable destination for Asik is increasingly making the rounds. And that certainly makes sense given (A) Philly’s front office is run by a certified Asik fan, former Rockets exec Sam Hinkie; (B) Philly has a frontcourt player to send back to Houston, in Thaddeus Young) whose skill set can click with Dwight Howard’s, albeit not as well as seemingly unattainable dream target Ryan Anderson; and (C) there really isn’t an Asik for Philly to draft with the high pick it’s likely to snag in the 2014 lottery. ESPN

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