NEWS OF THE MORNING
No. 1: Pelicans’ Davis drawing shining in preseason — Pelicans big man Anthony Davis hit the gym hard in the offseason, working to develop his offensive game and adding more weight to his slight frame. It appears all that work is paying off — at least in the preseason, anyway — as Davis has put together a couple of solid performances and stood out in New Orleans’ win over Orlando last night, writes John Reid of The Times-Picayune:
He’s better – much better – after spending nearly all of the off-season working to improve his offensive game. He’s got a go-to jump hook shot now, can pull-up from 18 feet and effortlessly make jumpers and still soars for dunks when he has an open lane to the basket.
He put everything on display Wednesday night and carried the Pelicans to a 99-95 victory against the Orlando Magic that improved their record to 3-0 in the preseason.
Davis, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 NBA draft, finished with a game high 29 points on nine-of-20 shooting in front 9,274 at the Veterans Memorial Arena. With that kind of performance, Davis, 20, appears to be ready for regular season to begin …
“I’ve been in the gym with some of the coaches working on my stuff and I’m just trying to put it to use,” Davis said. “I know it’s preseason, but we’re trying to send a message that we’re trying to be one of those top tier teams in the West.”
“He’s only scratching the surface, he’s going to get better,” Pelicans coach Monty Williams said. “He has a way to go and he has to continue to work. He’s got to get better talking on defense and understand how physical teams are playing against him and reacting to that. But what I thought he did well in the third quarter was get to the line.”
Davis came in averaging 23 points after the first two preseason games. He had a 25-point performance in Monday night’s 94-92 victory against the Dallas Mavericks.
“I’m confident in my game and all the work that I put in,” Davis said. “There’s no point putting in work over the summer if you’re not going to use it. So I’m just going out here seeing where I’m most comfortable with. I like catching the ball in the block or on the floor and I just going out there exploring my game.”
No. 2: Dalembert raises his stock with play vs. Grizz — Shotblocking big man Samuel Dalembert didn’t get off to a great start with the Mavericks in his first preseason game, drawing the ire of coach Rick Carlisle for being out of shape. But he turned things around with his performance against the Grizzlies in his second preseason game and drew some praise from Carlisle instead, writes Dwain Price of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram:
During Wednesday’s 95-90 triumph over the Memphis Grizzlies at the FedEx Forum that squared the Mavs’ preseason record at 1-1, Dalembert collected 11 points, seven rebounds and two blocks. He was 4 of 6 from the field while committing two turnovers in 20 minutes.
That’s a far cry better than the egg Dalembert laid against the Pelicans when he finished with four points, two rebounds and four turnovers in only 11 minutes. And it’s certainly what the Mavs expected from Dalembert when they signed him to a two-year, $7.5 million free agent contract this summer.
“I’ve been working on getting the strength in my back just back to where I’m capable of being [a factor],” Dalembert said. “I’ve been active and moving and feeling good, and today I felt much better.”
Dalembert still has to work on staying out of foul trouble.
Against the Pelicans, the Mavs’ pivot-man picked up three fouls in the first period and had his fourth 8 seconds into the third quarter. Against the Grizzlies, he was charged with only one foul in the first half, but inexplicably was charged for three more quick fouls with 10:06 remaining in the third period.
Still, the Mavs were thoroughly pleased with Dalembert.
“He did a terrific job and he carried the momentum of a really terrific practice [Tuesday] into tonight,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “The biggest thing is he was in position all night, his length was a major factor, he rebounded, and he’s getting more in-tune to what we’re doing.”
No. 3: Slimmer Chalmers ready for season — Normally, we leave the offseason weight loss/weight gain news to Lang Whitaker over on the All Ball Blog with his MUSCLEWATCH posts. But since this one came after the MUSCLEWATCH deadline, we’ll handle it here. Apparently, Heat point guard Mario Chalmers managed to lose 10 pounds in one week and is feeling quicker and more spry as Miami gears up for a three-peat bid, writes Shandel Richardson of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel:
The bet: lose 10 pounds in a week.
No problem for Chalmers, who completed the task with ease to answer the challenge of his future Hall of Fame teammates. The finished product has Chalmers in the best shape of his career entering his sixth season.
“[The bet] started with Ray [Allen],” Chalmers said. “Ever since then, I just got a little extra push. I’ve just been working harder. We wanted to three-peat. They all said, ‘We need you to be the head of the team, you need to be in tip-top shape and we need you to lead by example.’ “
The weight loss was overshadowed during training camp because of Allen’s physique gaining all the attention. Chalmers, too, put in the offseason work. He eliminated fried foods and soda from his diet, dining more on salads.
“I feel a lot faster. It helps me get to different spaces on the court and small cracks easier. [Losing the weight] was more of a conscious thing of winning, helping the team. It wasn’t an individual bet but what can I do to help the team get better.”
SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Gregg Popovich thinks foreign coaches could succeed in the NBA … Rookie Steven Adams is showing some nice polish in the preseason, but what’s wrong with Jeremy Lamb? … Pistons guard Rodney Stuckey is planning to have some extensive dental work soon …
ICYMI of the night: One thing Vince Carter has always been able to do in his career is score. That much was true last night as well as he gets this ridiculous circus shot to fall against the Grizz …