Remember when Russell Westbrook lost his mind during that blowout Thunder victory over the Grizzlies? It happened about two weeks ago, on January 31st, after he was whistled for a seldom-called five second violation in the post. Suddenly, Westbrook became furious with teammate Thabo Sefolosha, who’d poorly timed his cut. Upon being summoned to the bench, he pitched an explosive fit before storming into the locker room in the middle of the third quarter. After the game, he was asked about the incident by TNT’s Craig Sager, who refused to take “it was just a little miscommunication” for an answer. Already perturbed, Russell was in no mood to deal with Sager’s followup questions. Those questions were asked anyway, which resulted in Sager being called “bruh.” Here’s the whole exchange:
Fast forward to Tuesday night. In a 15-point loss to the Jazz, the Thunder have just been out-rebounded 38-26 and turned over 20 times. Curious as to what sort of issues may have been to blame for this unexpected outcome In search of cookie-cutter material for their crappy write ups, the media proceeds to ask their usual questions — “was something missing, or was it something they were doing?” “were you playing too fast?” “what will be the biggest thing you’ll focus on for next game?”
Russell kept it cool for a while — about a minute and 12 seconds, to be precise — but eventually, he decided he’d just about had enough. Utah’s 1280 The Zone has the audio (via @Clintonite33), and I’ve got a transcript (I suggest the audio, as the tone of Westbrook’s voice is kind of crucial to the humor):
Reporter: “Russ, did you guys lose this game or did the Jazz win this game?” Russ: “What? …bro, what are you talking about, man?” Reporter: “…………” Russ: “I’m out man. Y’all niggas trippin’.”
I understand that these media people are simply doing their jobs. BUT, as demonstrated here, they tend to ask some pretty stupid stuff. I was critical of Westbrook’s disrespectful treatment of Sager because I didn’t feel that anything ridiculous had been asked, but in this instance I can’t blame Russell for becoming fed up. He probably should’ve refrained from dropping the racial slur, but hey, that reporter should’ve refrained from asking such a dumb fucking question. I mean obviously, bro, the Jazz won and the Thunder lost. That’s kind of how sports work — one team wins and one team loses.*
*Yes, I understand what the reporter was getting at. No, that does not make it any less stupid a question.
The Philadelphia 76ers got absolutely destroyed by the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday night. At home, they trailed by double digits for the last 33 minutes, lost by 17, and fell into a massive 25-point hole as Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan dunked on them twice in one second. Pictures are worth a thousand words, they say, and to understand the true magnitude of the humiliation you needn’t look further than the faces of the Sixers during the aforementioned Griffin-Jordan dunk sequence:
Dorell Wright stares blankly into oblivion:
Kwame Brown freezes in fear, prays he won’t enter the game:
Damian Wilkins can’t stand to watch:
Evan Turner tries not to laugh:
Lavoy Allen sheepishly simpers:
And of course Spencer Hawes, who could only close his eyes and hope for the best (see the photo at the top of the post). Honorable mentions to Courtney Lee and Josh Smith.
Throwback Poster of the Day: This is actually a short mix of one of the most under-appreciated “little guy” dunkers of all-time, Robert Pack, mashing on everybody, including Shawn Kemp twice. The smooth sounds of Montell Jordan, which are of the period, really set it off…
Josh Smith activated full-troll-mode in Dallas, where he drained a career-high four three-pointers(on just five tries) as the Hawks defeated the Mavericks 105-101. Needless to say, he also did some really stupid shit; even his made three-pointers were actually stupid shit, but they happened to not be airballs somehow. Smith didn’t do nearly as much stupid shit as the Mavericks, though, who turned the ball over three times in the final 23 seconds. Though just about everyone on the floor for both teams made at least one bonehead play in what was really a mess of a fourth quarter (read the play-by-play between 4:24 and 2:41; “Brand misses layup” = uncontested in transition, “OJ Mayo misses driving layup” = airball finger roll), OJ Mayo put together an entire reel of blunders. He went 2-7 in the fourth and was responsible for two of those three turnovers I mentioned. Mayo has faced criticism all season long for his tendency to make questionable plays down the stretch, and this may have been his ugliest display to date.
Josh Smith’s line is crazy impressive: 26 points, 13 rebounds, 6 assists on 10-15. His contributions were crucial to this Atlanta Hawks victory (he did more than just shoot; check out this pass), but I still think his numbers exaggerate his impact to some extent. His decision making is laughably terrible, which is inexcusable from a dude 27 years old.
Had the Mavs been able to win, Brandan Wright would’ve been a thing. He scored 11 points on 5-6, including a fourth-quarter jump shot. Wright had only scored six in his last three games combined.
The healthy Clippers never trailed in Philadelphia, led by double digits for 33 minutes straight, and won by a comfortable margin of 17 despite missing half of their 22 free throws. Though it was never really a game, it was indeed a show. Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan combined for 12 field goals, most of which were obviously dunks (exhibits A and B), and Chris Paul made this really nifty backspin pass to Lamar Odom. Nothing was as entertaining as DeAndre’s alley-oop airball, though.
The Wolves, who’ve suffered more losses (nine) when leading after three quarters than any other team in the league, somehow managed to hang onto a 72-65 advantage for a 100-92 victory in Cleveland. They appeared to be pulling another chokejob as they turned the ball over on their first three possessions of the fourth, but strong jump shooting from the likes of Luke Ridnour, Dante Cunningham, and Ricky Rubio helped them fend off Kyrie Irving and company. In that fourth quarter, the Wolves went an incredible 11-12 between nine feet and the three-point line. Ridnour led the way with 13 points in the period (had 21 in the game), but Rubio nailed two of the biggest shots of the game — first to snap the aforementioned streak of three straight turnovers, and later to put Minnesota up eight with just a minute to go. With his 13 points Rubio finished in double figures for a third straight game and for the fourth time in February. Though it’s been just seven games, Ricky’s numbers are way up this month; his 12 PPG are nearly double the 7 he averages on the season, and his 44 percent from the floor reflects what appears to be a new-found confidence in his mid-range jump shot.
Without Deron Williams, who will be out until after the All-Star break due to inflammation in his suckiness ankles, the Nets managed to pick up a quality 89-84 win on the road in Indiana. They shot just 38% and the game went to overtime, but having come in as losers of six of their last nine, I think they’ll take it. I didn’t see much of this game, but what jumps out at me based on the box score is the play of little-used rookie point guard Tyshawn Taylor. Taylor, who’s been seeing a lot of time in the D-League (dropped 27 on the 27th of January, his last appearance), actually finished the game in the stead of CJ Watson, who started but went 0-7 in 19 minutes. Tyshawn, on the other hand, ended up scoring a career-high 12 points in the game, including Brooklyn’s first four points of overtime. Having gone 5-9 from the floor, he appears to have had himself quite the night.
Reggie Evans had 22 rebounds in this game, but if I’m PJ Carlesimo this fool doesn’t see the court for a month. With 34 seconds left in overtime, Evans eyed a loose ball that was clearly going out of bounds off of the Pacers. Everyone else had basically stopped playing under the assumption that it would be Nets ball and the game would be over (they were up six), but Reggie, chasing his career high of 23 boards, refused to let the rebound bounce across the sideline. After pausing to think about it for a moment (his thirst for the statistic was visible), he inexplicably sprinted towards the ball. He ended up grabbing it, but his momentum carried him out of bounds. Keep in mind that this happened during a six-point game in overtime. Though Indiana failed to capitalize on their ensuing possession, what happens if they knock down a three? Considering the situation, this was every bit as shameful a moment as Ricky Davis shooting at his own basket or Andray Blatche begging Yi Jianlian to let him have a rebound. So congratulations, Reggie — you’re a jackass.
The Bobcats’ seven-game losing streak has come to an end. So has the Celtics’ seven-game winning streak. In a pretty horrible loss, Boston blew a five-point lead with five minutes to go and watched LeAndro Barbosa get carried off the court with what is suspected to be a season-ending knee injury. This essentially reduces the Celtics to seven players with any business seeing rotation minutes in the NBA. Maybe eight depending on how you feel about Chris Wilcox. Either way, they’re getting awfully thin and just lost to the Bobcats. No, I don’t care that they played three overtimes yesterday. It’s the Bobcats. The freaking Lakers beat them.
Byron Mullens, who shoots 4.5 threes per game at a 32-percent clip, knocked down four of five from long range as he racked up 25 and 18. He scored Charlotte’s first 10 points and pretty much dominated the first three quarters. Note his exploitation of Boston’s failure to box out (five offensive rebounds).
The Bobcats’ backcourt finished what Mullens started. Aside from a Biyombo tip dunk, all their fourth-quarter field goals were scored by Ramon Sessions, Kemba Walker, and Gerald Henderson. With a minute to go, Henderson knocked down a three to make it a one-point game. Sessions proceeded to score the go-ahead jump shot, and Walker made a pair of free throws to put Charlotte up three. Paul Pierce had a really good look to tie the game but hesitated for no apparent reason. Avery Bradley also ended up with a great look but tossed a brick from the corner.
Bradley Beal made all the shots — well, 10 out of 13, technically speaking — as Washington defeated Milwaukee in Wisconsin. His 28 points off the bench represent a new career high.
Vintage Samuel Dumblembert: with the Bucks down eight to the Wizards at the two-minute mark, Dally chases down an offensive rebound, spends a couple of moments contemplating a corner three-pointer, thinks better of it, but passes the ball right to Nene, who plays for the other team. This is why Samuel Dalembert sucks, even when he’s getting three straight double-doubles and scoring 35 points (only had 6/7 on this night).
Also, vintage Brandon Jennings & Monta Ellis: The league’s most gunnerific duo combined to go 12-38 from the floor and 1-11 from three. Jennings posted a hilarious line of 7 points on 17 shots. I imagine he’s about ready for the All-Star break, as are the rest of the Bucks, probably. In a sad commentary on the Eastern Conference, the eighth-place Bucks have lost four straight and still lead the ninth-place Sixers by three games. At least all eight playoff teams are currently .500, I guess.
Box Score Observations: Note sure what’s most noteworthy — Ryan Anderson hanging 31, Robin Lopez doing 23 and 10, or Chief Al-Farouq getting 12 and 14. All three happened as the Hornets creamed the Pistons 105-86. In other weirdness, Kawhi Leonard dropped 26 on the Bulls in a 103-89 victory. None of Tony Parker, Tim Duncan, or Manu Ginobili played in this game. Bad loss for the Bulls, who went 2-12 from three and and 13-20 from the free throw.
Highlight Recap, Old News Edition: Did you all catch wind of this Rudy Gay dunk? It happened a couple days ago but I never posted it here.
The human shoulder isn’t meant to allow such extension. I’m actually trying to make that motion with my arm and it doesn’t even work.
Adidas has been doing horrible, horrible things to NBA uniforms since they acquired Reebok, the NBA’s previous apparel supplier, in 2006. But what they’ve done to the Golden State Warriors’ latest alternate jersey trumps all their previous crimes of on-court fashion. On February 22nd, in a nationally-televised game against the Spurs, the Warriors will debut the outfit modeled above by the shoulder of rookie Harrison Barnes. In doing so, they’ll become the first team ever to wear sleeved shirts in a modern NBA game. Unfortunately, they probably won’t be the last. According to Adidas, athlete feedback on these newfangled tops has been mostly positive, and as long as it continues to be they plan to expand the use of the “adizero short sleeve uniform system.”
Adizero short sleeve uniform system? Looks like an ugly-ass t-shirt to me, and an expensive one at that. Though Marcus Thompson of the Mercury News states that the adizero short sleeve uniform system was “designed with the fan in mind,” the retail prices of $110 for a replica and $300 for an authentic beg to differ (that’s $20 and $40 more than the regular sleeveless jerseys). According to Thompson, “the rationale is having a full shirt as the team’s jersey allows people to represent their team in more settings. Unlike soccer, baseball and football, basketball uniforms are limited, from a fashion perspective, because they are sleeveless.”
So, apparently, the idea here is that a skin-tight jersey-shirt made of compression material is more versatile than a regular basketball jersey in the sense that sleeveless shirts are considered inappropriate attire for many situations. While I certainly agree that a tank top alone is not to be worn in most public places, I’m not exactly sure why one who’d like to support his team can’t simply wear a traditional jersey with a t-shirt underneath. It’s an informal look, granted, but is a compression shirt plastered with logos, names, numbers, and in the future probably advertisements really any less “limited from a fashion perspective” than a t-shirt/jersey combo? I certainly think not, especially considering the tight fit. Sure, it’s a style that accentuates the sculpted features of a professional athlete, but how’s it going to look on a 50-year-old accountant? Remember, more than a third of U.S. adults (including plenty of NBA fans) are obese, and most of the two thirds who aren’t still won’t appear overly presentable in this:
Even Harrison Barnes looks borderline ridiculous, though that’s mostly because he’s supposed to be in uniform yet his shorts don’t match his top.
Official –Swag-O-Meter– Rating:
I mean really, Adidas? Pinstripes on the bottoms only? This is so, so bad. It’s disgraceful, really. Not only is tradition being disregarded, but fans are being fleeced. It’s truly a shame that Adidas has taken so much control in the basketball apparel market. They weren’t founded as a basketball brand, and their offerings have never captured the essence of sport like those of Nike, Reebok, or even And1.
Did you know Jeremy Lin has a dunk mix on Youtube? Neither did I. With a duration of a minute and 25 seconds, I’d say it’s surprisingly long… but it goes all the way back to his collegiate career and is mostly composed of clips from summer league games and layup lines. Only one actual NBA dunk is included — the one he threw down against the Wizards during the height of Linsanity — and none of the jams are at all contested.
What I’m getting at here is that Jeremy Lin almost never dunks, and when he does he’s usually clear of any defender. So when he blocked a shot by Aaron Brooks, took the ball coast to coast, and threw one down over Francisco Garcia last night… it was like the mother of all sneaky dunks.
Upon seeing this for the first time, I immediately began to consider some of the other great sneaky dunks of recent years. The first jam that came to mind was this one by Sasha Vujacic. Coincidentally, as you may have noticed, it was also over Francisco Garcia.
Dunked on by Sasha Vujacic and Jeremy Lin? Damn, ‘Cisco. Damn.
Welcome, everyone, to the weekly NBA247365.COM video podcast, episode three! For this edition I, Stephen Coston, will be joined by a couple of guests. Returning once again is NBA247365.COM/ESPN True Hoop Network contributor Jacob Frankel (@jacob_frankel), and making his first appearance is Jacob Greenberg from The Diss (@jacobjbg). So, join Jacob, Jacob, and I as we discuss the best games of the weekend, make up a few trades, pick winners for the upcoming All-Star Saturday festivities, and much, much more! We go live at 11:25 Eastern.
It was a perfect storm at Arco Arena on Saturday night when the Utah Jazz, a horrible road team, rolled into Sacramento for their fourth game in three nights. There, they encountered not only the Kings, but 16,193 energetic fans who’d come out as part of a special initiative to show support for the struggling team. It was essentially a protest against the proposed sale of the Kings to a group from Seattle, where they would move to become the Sonics. Various chants and cheers consumed the building from the game’s beginning to its end, creating an atmosphere that was truly inspiring. The Kings, as troubled a group as they are, were able to feed off of the electricity and put together one hell of an offensive effort. The key to the 120-point onslaught was their aggressive transition play, demonstrated here by Marcus Thornton and Jason Thompson:
As you can see, this particular sequence came during the latter part of the second half, at which point the Kings were essentially demoralizing the Jazz. There was absolutely nothing necessary about this alley-oop, and that’s what made it so fantastic — it was pure showmanship.
Good morning, basketball fans, and welcome to the third installment of “The Best of the D-League.” As always, Scott from CrabDribbles.com is here to present to you a summary of the D-League’s standout performances along with the top five plays of the week, both of which feature some familiar faces. Let’s get right to it, shall we?
Performance of the Week
The performance of the week came down to two players: Justin Dentmon and Donald Sloan. It was an awfully tough decision for me to make — by looking purely at the numbers, Dentmon is the clear winner as he averaged a ridiculous 34 points on 51.4 FG% in three games this week. However, Sloan happened to have a huge night against a team he used to play for, which is special because the two sides didn’t end on the best of terms.
Unlike Justin Dentmon, you may recognize Donald Sloan. Over the last couple of seasons, Sloan has appeared in 56 NBA games, totaling over 900 minutes. He started 11 games for the Cleveland Cavaliers last year, averaging a respectable 6.6 points, 3.7 assists, and 2.4 rebounds in 24.3 minutes of action. He was even on their roster at the start of this season but was waived on Christmas Day to make room for Shaun Livingston.
Now, this is where it all gets interesting. The Bay Hawks (the D-League team Sloan previously played for) still had his rights when he was waived by the Cavs, so he was supposed to be heading back to Erie, but Sloan refused, stating that he and the franchise were not on the same page and that it was his desire to part ways. In his own words:
“Some other stuff had happened there,” Sloan said. “Some stuff didn’t happen that was supposed to happen. I just felt like I need to go somewhere else.”*
So, just like that, he was involved in a three-team deal that sent him to the Sioux Falls SkyForce. It’s all worked out well for him; in nine games this year, Sloan has averaged 22.1 points, 7.4 assists, and 6.5 rebounds per game. Thanks to a string of big performances this month, Sloan now finds himself as the number one prospect on the D-League experts’ list. It shouldn’t be long until he finds himself wearing an NBA jersey again.
The reason that I’ve given him the D-League performance of the week is because on Thursday night, he made his return to Erie for the first time since he left the franchise last year. It seemed as though Sloan had some added motivation to play well, as he scored a season-high 34 points (13-22 FG) and flirted with a triple double by dishing out nine assists and grabbing seven rebounds. The icing on the cake would have been to walk out of the arena with a win, but the Sky Force couldn’t pull off a fourth quarter comeback and ended up losing 115-107. The good news is that the next night, the Sky Force played the Bay Hawks again, this time winning by a final score of 103-88. How’d Sloan play? Well, he scored another 22 points and handed out 10 assists in 36 minutes. I’m starting to think that the Bay Hawks regret not working things out with Sloan.
Top Five Plays of the Week
This week’s top five plays feature Chris Roberts, Mustapha Farrakhan, Tony Mitchell, Nick Covington, Jamarr Sanders, and Chris Wright.
As a little something extra, here are the D-League’s top 10 plays from the first-half of the season.
Back in the summer of ’05, Charlie Villanueva was selected seventh overall by the Toronto Raptors. A versatile combo forward out of UConn, Villanueva was brought north of the border to join budding superstar Chris Bosh in a promising frontcourt for the future. Though Charlie got off to a pretty solid start averaging 13 points per game on 46% from the floor and 33% from downtown, his first season in Toronto would be his last. Just 36 starts into the then-22-year-old’s professional career, the Raptors shipped him to Milwaukee for TJ Ford and cash considerations. The deal worked out similarly for both teams — Villanueva had one good season as a Buck, but he butted heads with coach Scott Skiles and ultimately left to capitalize on his strong play in free agency. TJ Ford was a serviceable starting point guard for a couple of decent Raptor squads, but he was often injured and eventually shipped off to Indiana in exchange for the ghost of Jermaine O’Neal.
TJ Ford’s replacement was a young Spaniard by the name of Jose Calderon. Ford had been sharing time with Calderon prior to being dealt, and it was Calderon’s impressive play that made Ford expendable. In just his third season, Jose became a member of the exclusive 50/40/90 shooting club, finished fourth in the league in assists, and set an all-time NBA record by making 98.1% of his free throws. That was in 2008. Two weeks ago, Calderon was still running the point for the Raptors. Having played more games for the franchise than anyone other Morris Peterson, Calderon finally left the Raptors as the primary piece in the deal that landed them Rudy Gay. To say the least, Calderon proved himself a valuable asset over his seven and a half seasons in Toronto. Though he was never drafted, he’s blossomed into the best player of the Raptors’ ’05 rookie class — coincidentally, the same one that spawned the aforementioned Charlie Villanueva.
And that brings us back to the present, in which Villanueva and Calderon are teammates once again. This time, they’re Detroit Pistons. Though their respective contract situations will likely break them up at season’s end, the two are making the most of their little reunion. On Saturday night in Milwaukee, in their fourth game together as Pistons, Charlie and Jose combined to score 41 points on a remarkable 17-26 from the floor. The two connected on seven three-pointers, including the one that won the game.
Note that Villanueva was working under the added pressure of a dwindling shot clock. Considering the anxiety and emotion associated with playing against a former team, that’s one hell of a cold-blooded triple. Though it came as something of a surprise from a guy who plays just 16 minutes a game, the Bucks should’ve known better than to leave their former friend, as he happens to be shooting an impressive 38% from beyond the arc this season. It’s not like he hadn’t been a factor all game long, either; CV was already 3-6 from three and finished with an 18-point, 13-rebound double-double.
As I took this game in, I had forgotten all about the mutual NBA beginnings of Villanueva and Calderon. Not until afterwards, when the two exchanged some friendly tweets, did I put two and two together.
So this is kind of fun, right? With 39 points in his last two games, Charlie may be in for an increase in playing time. As for Jose, he’s off to a fine start in Detroit, averaging 13 and 7 on 60% from the floor. For what it’s worth, I find the Pistons to be one of the most watchable of the league’s lottery teams. Sucks that Drummond is out four to six weeks, though.
His extraordinary coordination allows him to fool his defender with a hesitation dribble. His lightning quickness gives him the burst that sets him free. His stunning athleticism facilitates takeoff from the edge of the painted area, and his seven-foot, five-inch wingspan enables him to finish over the top of the help. Simply put, Kevin Durant is the ideal prototype of a scorer; an offensive player so multifarious that his extensive set of attributes makes Monta jealous. While it’s impossible to capture the complete range of such a skill set in one single play, Durant’s signature driving dunks are a solid representation.
Durant, with this very same maneuver, has already destroyed countless victims. They’re some of the biggest men in the NBA — Brendan Haywood, Roy Hibbert, and Marcin Gortat, to name a few — but the unstoppable forward fears none. And why should he? Already on his way to a fourth scoring title, the 24-year-old superstar out of the DMV is more accomplished than most, yet he’s just getting started.