Josh Smith has the worst shot selection in basketball. This is not hyperbole, and I am quite familiar with Nick Young. Having gone 6-19 in last night’s loss to the Heat, Smith is now shooting 38.5% from the floor. Against the Heat, he took six jump shots in the first quarter alone. The display was ugly, even on Josh Smith standards. Multiple air balls did not deter him from casting off — they never do — nor did the fact that he hasn’t made a three-point basket in his last 11 games (a streak that dates back to last April). Unfortunately, Smith reminds me of Antoine Walker. He doesn’t attempt nearly the volume of threes that Antoine did, but no player in the league today spends as much time away from the area where he’s most effective (the paint, obviously). And that’s why Josh Smith has the worst shot selection in basketball.
Despite falling just one assist shy of a triple-double, LeBron had a relatively quiet night in Atlanta (21 points, 2 in the 4th). Still, he made his presence felt down the stretch by winning yet another round of his ongoing bout with DeShawn Stevenson. Borrowing MJ’s push-off move, LBJ discarded Stevenson, stepped back, and bid the City of Atlanta farewell…
In Minnesota, teamwork prevailed over the hot hand. Indiana’s George Hill was the hot hand, scoring 8 of his Pacer-high 29 points in the final two minutes and change. With eight seconds to play, the Pacers needed a three to send the game to overtime. Following a series of moves fit for the AND1 Mixtape Tour, Hill delivered a high-arcing swish over the outstretched arm of Dante Cunningham…
As you can see, the play couldn’t have been defended much better. Hill’s array of shakes and bakes created just enough space, and the shot was about as tough as they come. Unfortunately for Hill and the Pacers, Minnesota’s final score came much, much easier…
According to the AP’s game recap, this play was actually designed to get Andrei Kirilenko a shot. However, Kirilenko kept his head up and spotted a cutting Chase Budinger, who thought he’d be looking for an offensive rebound. Gerald Green and the Pacers were simply caught ball watching as Budinger was able to sneak from near half court all the way to the front of the rim.
In contrast to George Hill’s individual domination, Minnesota’s last four field goals were all assisted, and each was scored by a different player (Shved, Cunningham, Pekovic, Budinger). Shved and Pekovic were the primary catalysts in crunch time, scoring 16 of the T-Wolves’ 27 fourth-quarter points, but other players had been just as heavily involved throughout the game. Derrick Williams was feeling it early and finished with 15 on 6-9. Chase Budinger was the team’s leading scorer with 18, and Dante Cunningham contributed 11 and 4 off the bench.
A total of 24 shots were blocked as the Nuggets defeated the Jazz 104-84. Five of them were courtesy of Derrick Favors, but the most spectacular came at Favors’ expense.
Shocking? A little, but this is merely Andre Miller’s latest display of surprising athleticism. Denver certainly remembers his leaning dunk as a member of the Blazers, and he actually has a history of denying would-be dunkers at the rim — ask Dirk or Ricky Davis.
What’s the deal with the New York Knicks? They’re third in the league in scoring, first in points allowed, and undefeated at 4-0. With their 10-point victory over the Mavericks, the Knicks have now beaten three opponents with a combined record of 12-5. As the numbers indicate, Mike Woodson’s squad has been equally impressive at the offensive and defensive ends. It’s early, but with Carmelo getting his (27 PPG) and the role players stepping up, the team appears to be coming together as it never has before. Keep an eye on the Knicks, folks. If they haven’t actually turned the corner then they’re primed for the most hilarious collapse yet.
Marcin Gortat added to his league-leading block total with 5 swats as he anchored a solid defensive effort that led the Suns to one of the biggest comebacks in franchise history. At home against Cleveland, Phoenix had fallen behind by 26 after allowing 37 first-quarter points to the Cavs. Gortat and company chipped away slowly, closing to within seven at the start of the fourth quarter. Shannon Brown provided much of the offense (12 points) from that point forward, but without the defensive effort of the aforementioned Gortat the Suns never would’ve been able to complete the rally. In the game’s final minute, Marcin stuffed consecutive layup attempts by Dion Waiters and Kyrie Irving, preserving a narrow Phoenix advantage. Sebastian Telfair’s Globetrotter dribbling display helped to kill the clock.
Bradley Beal was unfairly ejected from Washington’s loss to Milwaukee. With just seconds left in the game, Monta Ellis attempted a driving layup between Beal and Trevor Booker. Ellis was fouled, and he fell to the floor. Despite Beal’s attempt to help Monta get back to his feet, Brandon Jennings felt the need to retaliate on behalf of his teammate.
Jennings was rightfully tossed, but Beal was too, which baffles me. There was nothing dirty about that foul. Replay should’ve allowed the officials to come to the correct conclusion, but it obviously did not. Unfortunately, the NBA continues to judge the flagrancy of fouls based on the aftermath of the contact.
James Harden is averaging just 19 PPG on 30% from the floor since dropping 82 points in his first two games as a Rocket. I expected Harden to have an up-and-down season (with more downs than ups), but his first five games have gone in a way that I never could’ve imagined. Harden made just 4 of his 18 shots as the Rockets fell to the Grizzlies, their third consecutive loss. The good news for Harden and the Rockets is that they can look forward to a visit from the 0-6 Pistons. Thus far, Detroit has effectively busted slumps for the Lakers and Nuggets.
Speaking of the Pistons, Andre Drummond made his case for some minutes in a loss to the Thunder. I didn’t see the game, but his 22 points appear to have come in yet another impressive display of offensive polish (he looked awesome around the basket in the preseason)…
Hands. Touch. Coordination. Drummond appears to possess these qualities, which are so essential at the highest level.
Box Score Observations: Brook Lopez recorded his first double-double of the season (14/10) in Orlando. The Magic have dropped three in a row since a surprising 2-0 start. For the first time in his career, Jeff Teague dished more than 9 assists (11) in an Atlanta loss. Teague was impressive as he dropped 20 on 7-8. In losing to the Sixers, the Celtics have fallen to 0-3 against teams other than the Wizards. Jrue Holiday went off on the struggling Cs to the tune of 21 points and 14 assists. OJ Mayo made 5 of 10 from distance in Dallas’s loss to New York. It was actually a sub-par game for Mayo, who’s been shooting over 60% from downtown. Ben Gordon went Chicago on New Orleans… he exploded for 34, but the Bobcats still lost. Anthony Davis returned from injury to record 23 and 11, his first double-double. Tim Duncan had his fourth double-double in six games as the Spurs beat the Kings, and Kobe Bryant celebrated the termination of Mike Brown by posting 27/9/7 in a big win over the Warriors.
Highlight Recap: Stephen Curry didn’t make a lot of shots, but he made this one. Anderson Varejao does something reasonably cool. Tyson Chandler’s putback smash makes Steve Novak clap vigorously. Ronny Brewer pulverizes Vince Carter’s layup attempt. Nick Young, high-percentage shot. Rudy Gay does his right-handed dunk.
Lowlight Recap: Kenneth Faried bricked a windmill, but that’s not half as humiliating as what happened to Richard Jefferson…
Having your reverse dunk attempt stonewalled by Antawn Jamison is like getting your ankles broken by DeSagana Diop, or being posterized by Steve Nash. Having it happen in a 24-point loss is like experiencing all three.