Morning Shootaround — March 28

Missed a game last night? Wondering what the latest news around the NBA is this morning? The Morning Shootaround is here to try to meet those needs and keep you up on what’s happened around the league since the day turned.

The one recap to watch: This might be hard to believe, but there are only nine more nights of 10-plus games left in the season. Where has all the time gone? A full night like last night’s 14-game schedule leaves plenty of good matchups — even when the not-so-elite/bad teams get together (Milwaukee-Philly and Orlando-Charlotte, we’re looking at you). Of course, you’d have to be living under a rock to have not seen/heard about the Bulls ending the Heat’s 27-game win streak, so we won’t feature that one in this space. We’ll go instead with Pacers-Rockets, which featured a nice contrast of styles (Indiana’s grinding ways vs. Houston’s score-as-fast-as-possible mantra) and, apparently the harsh words Roy Hibbert had for his Indiana mates after Monday’s win against Atlanta worked. The bench, the target of Hibbert’s ire, didn’t let the Pacers down and overall, Indiana’s defense was top notch — particularly Hibbert’s rim defense and Paul George‘s lockdown job on Rockets All-Star James Harden

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News of the morning

Lakers glad to see Heat’s streak end | Westbrook not as fast as Wall? | Smith’s shot selection impresses Woodson | Evans joins elite company | Jazz switch up offensive flow

Lakers glad to see Miami’s run stoppedThe gap between the Lakers and Heat this season in terms of their elite status is pretty wide: the Heat sport the best record in the league and, as of Wednesday night, had a 27-game win streak rolling. The Lakers, on the other hand, have been fighting just to make the playoffs all season (they’re No. 8 in the West) and have dealt with a seemingly endless run of drama, injuries and a combination of the two. Still, the current Lakers take pride in their past and legacy, which includes the NBA’s longest winning streak — a 33-game run put forth by the 1971-72 Lakers. After the Heat suffered a 101-97 defeat in Chicago last night to end their win streak, Pau Gasol and other Lakers are glad the record for win streaks is staying in L.A., writes Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times:

The 1971-72 Lakers can exhale. Their 33-game winning streak is still the NBA’s longest.

The current crop of Lakers took some pride in its preservation after the Miami Heat’s streak ended at 27 with a 101-97 loss Wednesday to the Chicago Bulls.

Some players were even happy.

“In a big way, I am,” said Pau Gasol, who in his six seasons with the Lakers has become friends with the coach of that ’71-72 team, Bill Sharman. “I’m glad that we kept the streak. It was about time that Miami lost.”

The Heat put together a string of come-from-behind victories to prolong its winning ways since a Feb. 1 loss to Indiana, but it finally ended against Chicago as Bulls fans chanted “End of streak! End of streak!”

The Lakers (37-35) have been pretty preoccupied in recent weeks trying to keep their heads above .500. Most of them still kept at least a casual eye on the Heat streak.

“I guess now that it’s over, it’s kind of nice that the Lakers still have it,” Steve Blake said.

The present-day Lakers weren’t lighting up cigars to commemorate the continued life of the 41-year old record. It didn’t even matter that they also beat Minnesota on Wednesday, 120-117.

Said Blake: “We have too many other things for ourselves to worry about.”

Wall says he’s faster than WestbrookWhen it comes to pure on-court speed, which player is faster: John Wall or Russell Westbrook. The folks in OKC are likely to have a much different opinion than the one that Wall shared with John Rohde of The Oklahoman last night after Wall struggled through a 3-for-18 shooting night in a 103-80 loss at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Going purely off how each of them fared at the Taco Bell Skills Challenge in 2012, Wall technically was faster than Westbrook, as you can read about here. Anyway, here’s Rohde’s report:

Washington Wizards point guard John Wall didn’t hesitate when he was asked if the Thunder’s Russell Westbrook is the NBA’s fastest player.

“No, I’m going to say myself,” Wall said after shooting just 3 for 18 from the field in the Wizards’ 103-80 loss to OKC before a sellout crowd of 18,203 at Chesapeake Energy Arena.

Wall wouldn’t even say for certain that Westbrook was the league’s second-fastest player.

“It’s tough man,” said Wall, who was coming off a career-high 47 points Monday against Memphis and finished with 18 points and 12 assists against the Thunder. “There’s a couple fast guys in this league. He (Westbrook) is up there, Derrick (Rose) is up there, when he’s healthy. Mike Conley‘s pretty quick. There’s a couple guys. Ty Lawson‘s quick. So there’s a lot of guys, but I put myself first.”

Wall was still complimentary of Westbrook, admitting he is at a place in his career where Wall hopes to some day find himself.

“We’re both young, athletic, fast point guards and that’s very rare that you see that in this league,” Wall said. “I’m trying to take the same steps as he’s taken, being an All-Star, making the playoffs and that type of thing, so that’s what I’m trying to do. Give a lot of credit to how he’s working and how he’s helping this team.”

Woodson raves over Smith’s shot selectionAs one of the streakiest shooters in the game today, Knicks swingman J.R. Smith has long been known for his ability to shoot his team into (and more than a few times) out of games during the course of his career. Smith’s gunner mentality often drew the ire of coach George Karl when Smith was a sixth-man type for the Nuggets and that mentality has also been known to irk his current coach, Mike Woodson. Yet as the Knicks have picked up steam of late winning five straight games, Woodson has been impressed with Smith’s discretion on the court, writes John Jeansonne of Newsday:

Just because he can doesn’t mean he should. Knicks shooter J.R. Smith is just that, a shooter, who can nail jump shots from binocular range.

But what coach Mike Woodson has liked about Smith’s contribution to this Knicks season, and particularly to the team’s six-game winning streak down the stretch, is that “he’s starting to figure out some things. He’s not just taking jump shots. He’s taking it to the rim, getting to the free-throw line. He’s rebounding, he’s playing defense.”

He had 35 points, the night after scoring 32 against Boston. In a reserve role, as usual, he made 10 of 18 field goals — 3 of 7 three-pointers — and, as Woodson said, earning free throws. He made 12 of 13 and shared team-high rebounding honors with Carmelo Anthony (7 apiece).

All those numbers matter as the Knicks watched a 30-point lead in the last minute of the first half melt down to four in the final minute of the game.

“I wanted to establish my game on the inside and move on from there,” Smith said. “I got a lot of calls, I made my free throws. My body is killing me but I’ll take it.”

So will Woodson, who acknowledged that Smith came to the Knicks last year with a reputation for relying too much on his outside shooting skill. Smith — his given name is Earl Joseph Smith III, though he goes by “J.R.,” which these days could stand for “Judgement Revised” — has appeared to learn a lot of new tricks in his old age, 27, and eighth NBA season.

“I can’t speak for other coaches [who had Smith],” Woodson said. “When I saw him last year, I liked what he brought to the table. It’s my job as his coach to show him some love, put him in positions to be successful. But still coach him.

“Younger players are different from older players. I probably would’ve been a little tougher on him when he was younger, and pat him, too. I still try to coach him, but be demanding of him. Sometimes he fights me. That’s part of coaching, give and take. He’s still got a ways to go but he’s getting there.”

 

Nets’ Evans hits 20-20 markEarly in the offseason, the Brooklyn Nets picked up rebounding maven Reggie Evans from the Clippers for the right to swap second-round picks in 2016. So far, Brooklyn has looked like winners in that trade as Evans is the team leader in rebounds and has more than twice as many rebounds than the forward the Nets threw a lot of money at in the offseason, Kris Humphries. Evans was at his rebounding best last night in Portland, tearing down 26 boards and scoring 22 points to join some elite NBA company, writes Sean Highkin of USA Today:

The Brooklyn Nets’ recent hot streak has been defined by the stellar play of Deron Williams and Brook Lopez. But on Wednesday, Reggie Evans did something that has only been done 13 times this season, and mostly by players of much higher stature. His 22 points and 26 rebounds were what powered the Nets to a 111-93 road blowout of the Portland Trail Blazers.

Here are the other players who have had games of at least 20 points and 20 rebounds this season:

  • Zach Randolph
  • DeMarcus Cousins
  • Joakim Noah (twice)
  • Dwight Howard
  • Nikola Vucevic (twice)
  • David Lee
  • Al Horford
  • Enes Kanter
  • Kevin Love
  • Tim Duncan
  • Dirk Nowitzki

That’s three future Hall of Famers (Howard, Nowitzki and Duncan), five players who were All-Stars this season (Randolph, Noah, Howard, Lee and Duncan), and a few of the most highly regarded young big men in the league (Cousins, Vucevic and Kanter). Not bad company for a role player like Evans to be in.

Jazz tweaking offensive gameplan?Anyone who has watched Utah over the last three seasons knows the game plan whether it was Jerry Sloan or the current coach, Ty Corbin, leading the squad: get the ball to Al Jefferson as early and as often as possible. While Jefferson is the Jazz’s leading scorer for the third straight season, Utah also fell out of the playoff chase thanks to a dismal start to March which included several road losses. Neither some nor all of those losses are Jefferson’s fault, but the Jazz have changed things up a bit of late on offense and it might be paying off as they have won three straight games, writes Bill Oram of The Salt Lake Tribune:

Jefferson took 23 shots on Wednesday. His role in the Jazz offense is not diminished. But is it changing?

That was the sense given by both Mo Williams and Paul Millsap following the Jazz’s 103-88 win over the Phoenix Suns. Jefferson finished with 25 points on 12-of-23 shooting, and he scored six of the team’s first 10 points to start the game. However, both Williams and Millsap said the Jazz have changed the offensive philosophy at beginnings of games, which could explain the fast starts in Monday’s win over Philadelphia and Wednesday.

Both nights, the Jazz made their first six shots.

“I think we got a little carried away with just coming down, starting the game, just throwing it down to Al, letting him work.” Millsap said. “It made it too tough on him, made it too tough on everybody else. It’s basically just getting everybody moving, moving the basketball around.”

Millsap said the Jazz’s focus needs to be “getting different options.”

Here’s Mo Williams’ explanation of what the Jazz are doing:

“I think we’re coming out and we’re running different stuff than we usually run. More and more pick and roll situations. We’re going to eventually go to Al — a lot. I think it’s better when we come out and we get some pick and rolls, which we have, and kind of getting Gordon going early, getting him in motion, getting some ball movement. Getting bodies moving, instead of just coming in and going to Al. The perimeter first shots or the jump shots, those are tough.”

ICYMI of the night: Check out the All Ball blog for a Horry Scale breakdown of this play, but what a great heartbreaking bucket by Jeff Green:


38 Comments

  1. Freida says:

    I am a heat fan and I don’t mind the streak ended so now LeBron, Bosh and Wade can rest up for the NBA finals. LeBron was starting to look exhausted. He always plays hard and now he needs to rest up for the Finals. The Heat is 11.5 games ahead of the second seed. One game against the Bulls means nothing. Miami will learn what they can do to beat the way the Bulls beat them. They may never see the Bulls in the finals since they are a 5th seed as of today. LeBron is the best player in NBA now so if you talk about him negatively, you don’t know what you are talking about. I hope in the playoffs the refs play fair. LeBron wants another ring so this streak–the second in all Pro Sports history is nothing compared to winning another ring. LeBron get some rest!!! And then win another championship!! Go Miami Heat!!

    • Sonics 4 Life says:

      It’s naive to think that they were only grinding out comeback victories to keep a streak alive. Heat’s like any other team, they try their hardest to get a W every game. Spoelstra will only rest Lebron in blowout victories.

  2. Mick says:

    Gasol should be worried about the Lakers losing that 8th spot…it’ll be funny if the Heat say they’re glad the Lakers missed the play-offs…and D12 shoots LA the middle finger on his way out the door to Dallas, Houston, Brooklyn, or even the Clippers. What they Heat did was extraordinary for our time! Gasol should also be worried about going back to the chopping block this summer too…because the Lakers are looking to build around D12…and have no loyalty to Gasol…he can kiss his spot goodbye and hope that the Heat offer his soft @55 a contract…ha haaaaaaa!

  3. Mick says:

    Gasol should be worried about the Lakers losing that 8th spot…it’ll be funny if the Heat say they’re glad the Lakers missed the play-offs…and D12 shoots LA the middle finger on his way out the door to Dallas, Houston, Brooklyn, or even the Clippers. What they Heat did was extraordinary for our time! Gasol should also be worried about going back to the chopping block this summer too…because the Lakers are looking to build around D12…he can kiss his spot goodbye and hope that the Heat offer his soft @55 a contract…ha haaaaaaa!

  4. Jonesy37 says:

    Not a heat fan but disappointed the streak has ended. I wanted to see history made. But hey – 27 ain’t too bad. The only reason I don’t want to see the Heat win it all this year is that it would mean seeing another team step up unbelievably over 7 games to beat them. Other than that – I am enjoying watching them play. Bring on the Playoffs!!!

  5. ohhh, ESPN is crying says:

    Lebron is guilty of so many offensive fouls that never get called because everyone (especially ESPN) wants to see him fly to the basket and dunk. Let’s be honest the bulls played hard but the heat never should have let them be in a position to win.

  6. stfu bandwagons says:

    look at these heat bandwagon fans all mad the streak ended. stop b*tching and move on

  7. Danny Boi says:

    BLAAH BLAAH BLAAH. SHUT THE FUNK UP. MIAMI LOST THE GAME BECAUSE BULLS DID WHAT THEY DO BEST. DEFENSE. STOP BLAMING REFS AND THE LEAGUE.

    MAN UP.

  8. Spire says:

    why is dwight howard considered a hall of famer?

  9. Miami is going to win the championship this year regardless if the streak continued!

  10. First of all Pau Gausol needs to worry about his own team and focusing on fighting for a playoff spot. I don’t know why Pau feels so comfortable on many occasions the lakers tryed to traded to trade you and most likely will in the off season. In last nights lakers Game that was clearly a foul on Kobe Bryant just like dirk flopped at the end of regulations in the clippers game. The Refs have made a lot of bad calls all season for every single team in the league. The refs can’t call everything a foul because it will slow down the tempo the game and make less interesting for fans.I am very impressed with the Miami streak, Miami won 27 games in a row with a small line up and a good big man in Chris Bosh. Chris Bosh is a finesse big man and is very versatile. What we need to realize about the 1971-72 streak held by the lakers is that they had probably the Most Dominant big man of all-time in Wilt Chamerlin. Wilt used to average crazy stats like 50 points and 20 rebounds. Congrats to the bulls on the win. The Bulls gave it their all. As a fan of the nba I think we can all agree if all the bulls players were healthy they would be in the number 2 spot and fighting for number one spot with Miami. The Bulls are a great team so it knock like Miami got beat by a scrub team like charlotte. At the end of the day Miami had a great run that will be imprinted in NBA history for a long-time. Miami is a team that is improving every year which should be scary for opposing teams. Lebron and Dwayne wade are having Mvp type season. Lebron is the clear cut chose for MVP this season no doubt about that. Miami just needs to finish off season strong and hold onto the number spot which I believe no can catch them in the eastern conference. Miami just needs to get ready to do some work in the playoffs and win another championship. This Miami’s year to win because so many people questioned last years championship because it wasn’t a full season. GOOOO HEAT GOOO!!!!

  11. MambaForTheWin says:

    why can’t people just be fans of their own teams. Why do people have to hate on other teams and players just cause their good. I’m a die hard lakers fan and I’m glad the heat didn’t break the record but I don’t hate the heat or lebron. Lebron is a great player and a proven champion. he’s not a baby he’s a winner on a winning team. Oh and Pau can say whatever he wants about the heat streak no matter what the situation in L.A.

  12. Who Cares !!! says:

    Who cares about what Gasol says! He’s a has been. He can’t beat LBJ one-on-one even when he was in his prime. Shut up Gasol. Don’t worry about the Heat’s streak. You hypocrite! Work on how you are going to contribute to your sinking L.A. team!

  13. Cry more says:

    Waaahhh cry babies the streak is over!! You can keep crying about the calls and how LeBron is being played to physically! Wahhh man up! You get paid to play now play and stop CRYING! Waaaaawwh Baby James!

  14. King Gary says:

    Cause Pau Gasol is actually considered a Laker when they try to trade him every year…. haha you have no part in any of that chump.

  15. purpngold says:

    The Heat players get the benefit of a lot of calls themselves. Queen James likes to play like a bully but when the physicality gets matched, he cant handle it. He just cant handle that the ” invincible s” were brought back to reality. Go cry to your Mama James. The Lakers record will probably never be broken, there isn’t one dominating standout team in the league, on any given night any of the over 500 teams can beat any of the top teams in the league,, obviously including the Heat. The majority of the wins in the Heat streak were against weak teams, and they were barely pulling those wins out by the skin of their teeth. Many people were not aware of the Lakers record, but if the Heat would have broken it, I’m sure we would have never heard the end of this. I’m glad the streak is over once and for all.

  16. Skerg says:

    Hahahaa… I cannot compare the league in 71-72 vs 12-13. Much respect for the HEAT. Great Team accomplishments, maybe untouchable for awhile… Yes, alot of respect to the Bulls…… Im happy for the fans of chicago…… But the HEAT really carried this season. Normally everyone’s attention is on MARCH Madness College Basketball. Not this season. The HEAT really carried the “SportsCenter” conversations. Thank you HEAT. Keep up the great work! I can’t wait til Lakers catch their rhythym, Derrick Roses return, Kevin Love’s return, and the Warriors surprises….. NBA fans are lucky to be this entertained….. Not sure if they were this entertained in 71-72… or the terms “you have seen nothing yet” applied.

    • Need More Like You says:

      Wow, a real basketball fan. No hate at all. Why can’t all fans be like you? Some people take the game for granted and fail to enjoy history in the making, but rather let their emotions hinder their ability to enjoy some REAL entertainment.

  17. KAI says:

    Howard is future HOF? not so sure

  18. derrick says:

    heat fan stop making excuse, they lost to the bulls. bulls nice job on beating them

  19. mee(a)t says:

    why is Gasol worried about the heat? isn’t his team just BARELY hanging onto the 8th seat?

  20. Heat 2peat says:

    “I’m glad that WE kept the streak.” Gasol and Steve Blake weren’t even eligible to comment about the record. He’s not an NBA great and does not have the heart of a real Laker. They might even end up being traded to another team dis off season. The only player on the Lakers i didn’t mind commenting about the streak is…guess who.. He’s the only true Laker on the team. The laker streak will never be broken, and its a high possibility that the heat will keep that #2 spot on history.

    And at least Spo can finally be able to rest the big2 a little for the playoffs. The heat will finish with the best record, hold home court advantage, and go all the way to the finals and bring the championship back to MIA

  21. mark says:

    pau gasol should be more concern on his team to make sure their hold into that shaky 8th seed

  22. dattebayo says:

    Since nobody intends to call out the referees for making incredibly stupid calls, I will do it

    The Lakers get away with the most obvious foul ever, Kobe hacking a shooter with the ref standing right next to it. The ref has a clear angle on the play and yet he refuses to call the foul on Kobe and then even laughs in Rubio’s face, ridiculing him for thinking he would give him that call. If the refs are too scared to make a call at the end of the game, why doesn’t the league give them the possibility to review anything on the last 1 possession or last 10 seconds of the game?

    And in the Bulls-Heat game, James gets hit in the head 4 times on different plays and then he gets a flagrant 1 for running into Boozer? After they let the Bulls get away with playing physical the entire game? Not to mention the Boozer flop or Battier non-push, which put Boozer at the line for 2 with 3 minutes to go in the 4th. How can you make that call and not call all the physical stuff?

    • mee(a)t says:

      that play when LeBron drove in and got hit on the shoulders by…was it Taj Gibson…i forgot…i’m not sure if i would call that a flagrant. But maybe thats just me thinking that lebron is too strong for those hits

    • Ray Ray says:

      Maybe we watched 2 different games, but Lebron got his all night. He can’t have it both ways were a 260 lbs dude is just running over people all night and then gets upset when someone pushes back. Basket ball is and should be a physical game, just goes to show how soft this era is.

  23. Heatfan says:

    Ok so the streak is over, GREAT, but the Bulls will not be getting a ring this year.

    Cheers to that.

    It would have been nice to hold the number one spot for most games won in a row, but HEY, now we just gotta focus on getting that ring. Come April, its time to start sending teams home and I cant WAIT to see Boston, Chicago, and New York go home.

    Let’s do it.

  24. juan says:

    wait a minute gasol glad the lakers streak is safe? dude the lakers can careless about you, how many times have they talked about trading your behind? maybe its time you distance yourself from them and stop kissing laker but

  25. bill says:

    He should not worry about the Miami streak ,he should be worrying about his struggling team. I bet my weekly sallary they would not make the playoffs.

    • PB says:

      I hate the Lakers and hope with everything they choke, but as an NBA fan, I’ll take that bet… they’ll make the playoffs.

  26. Look out for the bleh bleh bleh says:

    Bet Pau won’t be saying that after the Lakers trade him.

  27. Bstarr says:

    Lakers glad that the streak is over? Well I’m glad too!!!! I’m in such a good mood today! Never been so happy to hear that alarm clock.

    I’m going to walk my dog twice today, treat my wife a nice italian dinner & give her some extra quality time and even take my mother-in-law for some shopping!

    Maaaan life is good, THANK YOU BULLS THANK YOU SO MUCH!! On behalf of my wife, mother-in-law and our sweet labrador!!

    • NHbleedsGREEN says:

      I’m glad that Gasol is more concerned about the heat than his own team.
      The nba wanted the streak to end last nite.
      That was very obvious last nite.

      • Master's in Basketball... says:

        True after seeing some of the call the officials made. I guess you are right. But at the same time, Miami Heat could have won the game if they hadn’t given Carlos Boozer an offensive rebound with less than a minute to go. I believe at that time as I can recall, they were only 5 points behind.

        Master’s in Basketball

      • bulls2013 says:

        hahahah The Miami Heat gets the most calls in the whole NBA…There were no plays by the Bulls that were not even close to a flagrant…

    • juan says:

      wow all that because the bulls won last night? are you a bulls fan or just a heat hater? either way one game not going to stop the heat wave. so enjoy that victory because there wont be many like that for you to enjoy

  28. Gundy says:

    Depends what kind of speed Wall is talking about. Ty Lawson is super-quick dribbling on the run & Jamal Crawford moves like a cat.