Morning Shootaround — Dec. 24


VIDEO: Highlights from all of Monday’s NBA games

NEWS OF THE MORNING

Melo sprains ankle | Pierce, Nets implode, Kidd explodes | Dirk climbs all-time list | Wade sits, LeBron shines | End of the Lottery?

No. 1: Melo leaves with sprained ankle– As if enough hasn’t happened to the New York Knicks in the season’s first two months, now they’re dealing with a sprained left ankle to their best player, Carmelo Anthony. The club’s leading scorer limped to the locker room in the third quarter of New York’s 103-98 win over Orlando. Yes, the Knicks still managed to hold on and win. Oh, to make matters worse, point guard Raymond Felton, who had just returned from injury, left in the fourth quarter with a strained right groin. Both players will be reevaluated Tuesday and Anthony insisted he’s hoping to play on Wednesday, Christmas Day, when the Knicks play host to the Oklahoma City Thunder (2:30 ET, ABC).

More from Peter Botte of the New York Daily News:

“It’s on. I still have it. It ain’t going nowhere, so I’ll be there,” Anthony said of his sprained ankle. “Hopefully, I’ll be there. … It’s Christmas in the Garden. I don’t want to miss that game. I don’t know, I’m hard-headed sometimes when it comes to that. But I’ve got two days.”

The Knicks (9-18) constructed a 24-point cushion at halftime and still led 72-52 when Anthony went up for a rebound of his own miss and landed awkwardly, with his left foot coming down on the foot of Orlando forward and Long Island product Tobias Harris with 7:26 remaining in the third.
“Melo’s a tough kid. He don’t sit down very often,” Mike Woodson said.

Anthony, who also battled knee and shoulder problems last season, described this ankle injury as “not as severe” as one that kept him out of two games this time last year.
Still, Anthony limped to the bench and remained there for several minutes while receiving treatment from trainer Roger Hinds. During a timeout with 5:43 remaining in the quarter, the pending free agent headed for the locker room and did not return.

“The pain was too much. I was actually trying to walk to see if I could get back in the game. There wasn’t no reason for me to go out there and risk it anymore,” Anthony said. “But I’m walking. I think I caught it before it rolled all the way, but it rolled pretty bad. We’ll evaluate everything (Tuesday), but the good thing is I am able to walk with a little bit of pain.”

Felton was back in the lineup after missing the previous six games with a strained left hamstring, scoring 13 points with four assists in 25 minutes before he collapsed to the floor following a midair collision with Jameer Nelson with 3:21 to go.
Felton, who also missed time earlier this season with a pinched nerve in his hip, admitted he “felt a pop” in his right groin.

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No. 2: Pierce ejected, Kidd explodes – With the Nets down 19 points to the East-leading Indiana Pacers, Brooklyn’s Paul Pierce, in the midst of a horrible personal season, took down Indiana’s George Hill on a fastbreak. The play was ruled a Flagrant 2 resulting in the automatic ejection of the former Celtics great. But that’s not as bad as it got. Following the Nets’ 103-86 to fall to 9-18, rookie head coach Jason Kidd went off on his underachieving team that just two days ago lost All-Star center Brook Lopez to a broken foot. Kidd’s most damning quote of his club: “Well I think it is getting very close to just accepting losing. We are kind of getting comfortable with losing. And we got to make a stand with that because when things get tough, do we just give in and most of the time right now we do.”

ESPNNY.com’s Mike Mazzeo has more:

The Nets came into the season with the NBA’s highest payroll — an estimated $190 million counting the impending luxury tax — and extremely high expectations. But they’ve failed to meet them.

During the summer, Nets general manager Billy King mortgaged the future, relinquishing several future assets to acquire veterans Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry in an effort to try and win now. But so far, it hasn’t worked out.

On Monday night, Garnett and Pierce both left without talking to the media. Pierce was automatically ejected after being accessed a flagrant foul 2 for clotheslining Pacers point guard George Hill, who tried to finish a layup in transition with 4:22 remaining in the third quarter. He could face a fine or suspension from the NBA league office as a result.

Pierce (0-for-7) was held scoreless for the first time since March 9, 1999 — the 16th professional game of his 16-year career. Garnett went 3-for-10 from the field in 19 minutes. Both players have struggled mightily while trying to fit in with their new team for the majority of the season.

Told of Kidd’s comment, point guard Deron Williams said, “I’m not. I’m not comfortable losing. It’s not fun. Not only when we’re losing during the game, but when I go home sitting there and thinking about it, it’s not fun.”

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No. 3: Dirk passes English, destroy RocketsEvery few games it seems Dirk Nowitzki is passing another legend of the game on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. On Monday night, Nowitzki overtook Denver great Alex English for No. 13. The Mavs’ sweet-shooting 7-footer did it in style, dropping 31 points on Dwight Howard and the Rockets to move to 2-1 against their Southwest Division rival this season. Nowitzki, of course, traveled to Los Angeles with owner Mark Cuban and coach Rick Carlisle over the summer to recruit the free-agent Howard, who preferred the situation in Houston. Nowitzki scored 10 points in the final nine minutes to help Dallas protect the lead and end a two-game skid.

Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News was there:

Dirk Nowitzki simply said: Come on, boys, and climb on my back.
“Listen, he’s the great Dirk Nowitzki,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. “The guy has changed the game with the way he plays. The game is not the same. He changed the power forward game forever, and it’s reflected in the modern game now. He’s a great player.”

Nowitzki piled up 31 points, including 10 points in the final nine minutes when the Mavericks were protecting a nice lead they had earned in the third quarter. Along the way, Nowitzki passed Alex English for 13th place on the all-time NBA scoring list.

His play was made possible in part by the shooting of Vince Carter, Jae Crowder and Jose Calderon, all of whom loosened up the Houston defense in a third quarter that the Mavericks won by 15 points to turn the game around.

“They had a lot of respect for our shooting at that point,” Nowitzki said. “So they were a little hesitant to double me. And I got to take advantage of the matchups when they play me with 6-7, 6-8 guys and I can shoot over them. That’s what I’ve been doing my whole career.”
And so the Mavericks still have not had a three-game losing streak this season. They stopped the skid at two with their gutsiest victory of the season.

It’s worth noting that the Rockets were playing without leading scorer James Harden (ankle), point guard Patrick Beverley (hand) and center Omer Asik (thigh).

As such, the Rockets leaned heavily on Dwight Howard, who was a beast all night. But the Mavericks held most of the other Rockets in check in the second half.

.***

No. 4: Wade sits, LeBron shinesThe Miami Heat continued their cautious approach toward Dwyane Wade and his cranky news, sitting the superstar yet again Monday night against the Atlanta Hawks. This time it seemed it would be too much for Miami to overcome. Then again, they do have LeBron James, who had 38 points and one massive late fourth-quarter dunk over Paul Millsap that helped get the game to overtime and allow the Heat to take a 121-119 decision.

David J. Neal of the Miami Herald has more:

No Dwyane Wade. Later, after an elbow to the jaw, no Chris Bosh, either. But the Heat still had a LeBron James, and could pull a Michael Beasley off the bench. And then a Ray Allen and, even for the last 2.3 seconds, Bosh.

Which is how the Heat outlasted the Hawks 121-119 in overtime Monday night. Allen got the Heat to overtime. Beasley provided the game-winning free throws. Bosh provided the long arms.

“The one thing I did like about this game, in the last couple of years with this group, if we’d given up 17 threes in a game, we don’t win that game,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said of the Heat’s ninth win in a row over the Hawks. “It would collapse our spirit and our mind.”

Beasley had 10 points. Allen had 19. James scored 38 points on 16 of 28 shooting, six of his last seven as the Heat came from 11 down in the second half. As remarkable, James had six assists without a turnover. About the only thing James didn’t do well was hit free throws (two of six).

“For the basketball aficionado out there, this is a game where you see his full skill set,” Spoelstra said.

***

No. 5: End of the LotteryWith a multitude of front offices seemingly setting up their teams to be very bad this season with an eye toward what is believed to be a very talented draft class, and the league quite sensitive this whole notion, a proposal for a change to lottery system might be floated to owners in 2014.

Grantland’s Zach Lowe has the story:

We can also search for solutions, and there are lots of folks in the league office and among the 30 teams who find tanking abhorrent — who bristle at the idea that the league has incentivized teams to be anything but their best every single season. One detailed proposal, submitted by a team official, has gained initial traction among some high-level NBA officials — to the point that the NBA may float the proposal to owners sometime in 2014, according to league sources. Other top officials in the league office have expressed early opposition to the proposal, sources say.

The Proposal

Grantland obtained a copy of the proposal, which would eliminate the draft lottery and replace it with a system in which each of the 30 teams would pick in a specific first-round draft slot once — and exactly once — every 30 years. Each team would simply cycle through the 30 draft slots, year by year, in a predetermined order designed so that teams pick in different areas of the draft each year. Teams would know with 100 percent certainty in which draft slots they would pick every year, up to 30 years out from the start of every 30-year cycle. The practice of protecting picks would disappear; there would never be a Harrison Barnes–Golden State situation again, and it wouldn’t require a law degree to track ownership of every traded pick leaguewide..

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SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni tells fans to find another team if they’re discouraged … According to a report, attempts to revive Kyle Lowry trade talks failed … Metta World Peace to have same blood-spinning procedure as Kobe Bryant … In wake of Brook Lopez injury, Nets will file the paperwork for a Disabled Player Exemption

17 Comments

  1. rjsc says:

    Re lottery

    why reward the losers? In real life such as work or school, those who work hard gets the rewards. But nba is not life, it is entertainment. And we watch the games to get entertained. So, I want the winning teams to get better. What if nba champ miami heat got the 1st pick in draft13? Isnt it exciting? And okc gets pick 2, and so on.

  2. willie says:

    it’s easy… just give non play off teams 1 pingpong ball each for the rookie draft lottery. therefore, teams 17-30 which didn’t make the play offs all have equal chances of winning the lottery…. therefore, it’s useless to tank the season.

  3. Brent says:

    I tried to post this idea yesterday but i accidentally double posted and the comment was never approved so hooefully i can have some sucess today.

    One possible way to change up the draft as well as deter tanking could be to arrange the 14 non-playoff teams into brackets, and have each bracket be eligible for either the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd pick. No team would ever be permitted to qualify for more than one of the top 3 picks in any particular draft.

    So the bottom 2 teams in both conferences (4 teams) would be eligible for the 1st pick, the next 4 teams (2 per conference) would go for the 2nd pick, and the remaining 6 teams would be in the running for the 3rd pick. Each bracket would have their own lottery, and it would be entirely random.

    After the top 3 picks were established, the remaining picks would be allocated to the remaining teams based on record similarly to the way they are under the present system. A top 3 pick could not be acquired via trade.

    This would give little incentive to tank and would also help give a boost to those mid-pack teams by giving them a shot at a top 3 pick.

  4. Anthony Toma says:

    I think if you miss the playoffs, you are a lottery team. Each team in the lottery gets 1 ball. You pick them out of a hat and the Team that gets the first pick in the lottery gets the last lottery pick in the second round. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 then the teams that made the playoffs pick their first round picks and when it comes to the second round it goes 13 gets the 1st pick the 12th gets the 2nd and so on. This would end the bottom of the barrel play and make the quality of basketball better towards the end of the year.

  5. Karlo Garcia says:

    Regardless how the draft lottery works, teams will always tank to draft the #1 pick either way. I’m old skool, I would want my team to win as many games as possible, whether we in a rebuilding phase or not!

  6. darkacoustic says:

    Brooklyn Nets problem is the player rotation. Kidd is a great player but for coaching as of for now he is not doing well.. Hope they will resolve the time table between the rotation of players on court. They have a championship caliber player. I hate to say this but.. they are not doing great.

  7. Norm Jesin says:

    The better proposal would be to award the picks by order of which team has missed the playoffs the longest picking first and then by ending with the teams who have been in the playoffs the longest while teams in the finals get the last 2 picks. That protects the mediocre teams from staying in the middle forever and does not overly reward a team like Dallas that suffered through an injury to a major star for one year

  8. Say bye bye to Jason Kidd. What a horrible decision to make him the coach of this team that really needed a seasoned leader in that position. This team is well from underachieving. They never had a shot with a bunch of aging, broken down veterans. The Nets should do what the Lakers will end up achieving and that’s a good place in the lottery.

  9. fabbe says:

    just kick mr kidd. when you have such a good players as individuals, who is to blame if they can not play togather? ya, ya ,ya ,,,, the couch! ya you are right. just fire the guy. with a good C they gonna make it all the way to the finals

  10. OMPAHLOMPAH says:

    Correction. In looking at the viability of incentivizing the second worst team, it would appear that it should be the 2nd worst team in each division should receive lottery consideration. But, to ensure adequate competition, the number 8 seed from each conference should be included with lottery consideration as well. That means seven teams per conference would be lottery eligable. I think that someone smarter than myself would be able to refine this idea.

  11. dustydreamnz says:

    I like the draft but I don’t think the above proposal will be popular. It’s a tough one and I don’t have the answer!

  12. Dan says:

    My idea is to do (with one exception) an inverse lottery system based on rankings of teams out of the playoffs. In this idea, the worst team would still get the most ping pong balls, but then the 2nd most would go to the 1st team out of the playoff standings and working down with decreasing balls to from there to the 2nd worst team. In that way the worst team would still have the most. And maybe someteams would still try to tank for that. But the risk would then be if you miss the worst slot you then have the worst (2nd to last) slot. Then if the other teams out of the playoffs are trying to win for the 1st out spot and so forth, most teams would actually try to the end. Would a team in the 8th slot of the playoffs want to try and tank back to the 9th seed to try and get the most balls. I have trouble believing any owner would want to miss out on any playoff games. Monetarily that would be a tough sell. Plus, this would fix the problem teams stuck in the middle of the pack order year in and year out and not ever getting better. Maybe there might be some teams stuck around the bottom 4 (minus the last seed) for several years, but at least they most likely wouldn’t be tanking.

  13. OMPAHLOMPAH says:

    The problem, as I see it, is that the incentive is to lose. Why not incentivize the second worst team, the number 7 seed and the number 4 seed in each conference with a greater but equal number of lottery balls?

  14. justsayin says:

    I said it on NBA.com a week ago: THE DRAFT NEEDS TO GO. It’ll stop the tanking. Players will show more loyalty. Former college stars will more often get to play to home-state crowds. There’s no way in which it wouldn’t help.

    There’s no drawback. Cap sizes won’t magically increase, and roster sizes won’t either. The effect of roster needs and contract desires will still be in full effect. When a player wants to be a Laker or Celtic they will just as likely go to one of a few alternate teams they like, because nobody can offer 20 guys max contracts for stupid bandwagon goodness. But trying to keep players out of marquee big markets is just making players want to play for them *more*. And forcing players onto bad teams just makes them want to leave *more*. There will always be losing teams but they should be the result of bad management, not the luck of a drafting system.

    Also, isn’t anybody sick of seeing the best players out of college struggle to learn the pro game while playing for the worst teams in the league, every time? Wouldn’t it be cool to see a 7-8 seed type team sign a college great and become a possible contender by signing a hot prospect for once???

    I’m tired of this Vegas-style, game-within-a-game mentality we’re using to determine people’s future. Any regular joe would have a big problem not being free to choose what city they live and work in, and I feel for these guys. Big money or not, they have families, friends, and personal preferences like any other human being; and it’s not like most of them were born with silver spoons in their mouths. So stop your self from the knee jerk whining that we shouldn’t care about them because of the size of their paychecks and think about the effort and level of competition you will see from guys that are happy and playing where they want to be.

    NBA action needs to get back to being Fantastic, and this is the surest way to it.

    All we have to do is walk away from the slot machine…

    • good try says:

      I am sure you made what you thought to be a coherent argument, but you literally gave no alternative to the draft. You might have tried to imply that incoming rookies would just be free agents, but you did not state that opinion. If the rookies were to come in as free agents (I am guessing what you tried to imply and rolling with that idea) would there be a cap on how much those rookies could make? Would certain teams be exempt from signing them (like if the Heat keep winning titles, are they not allowed to sign Wiggins/ Randle/ Parker/ Embiid)? Is there a limit to how many rookies a team can sign from a single draft? Are only 60 rookies allowed into the league during this signing period? Is it first come first serve or does the league pick which rookies are eligible for signing? You put down the current system and gave no plausible solution.
      As for a middle of the road team getting a hot prospect, you only have to go back as far as the Derrick Rose draft. Chicago was an okay team who just missed the playoffs. They had a 3% chance of the top pick, which they landed and used to vault into contender status. The lottery is weighted to make this an unlikely outcome, but it does happen.
      I am not sure who you have been talking to/ listening to/ reading but I have never heard that we shouldn’t change the system because the players make so much money. The entirety of the discussion is based on retaining competitive balance and incentivizing competitive integrity. As long as the league has 30 teams, some franchises will be more attractive destinations than others. The cities that can’t draw quality free agents at a fair price will have to build themselves up in other ways. Using the current system, the other way to build a team is through the draft. You may not like it, but it is the only tool for teams like Milwaukee, Toronto, Minnesota, and Cleveland who all have a hard time attracting and keeping free agents.

  15. I agree. The draft proposal doesn’t make sense. The problem is their trading/free agent/luxury tax system that allows teams to stack up free agent stars. It doesn’t matter who gets drafted on your team if they can leave and go to another team that already has one, two or even three star players. All that proposal would do is make it less likely a losing team would have any hope of landing a star player since they can’t get free agents and will have to wait years (even decades) to get a high draft pick.

  16. Don'tRenameTheBobcats says:

    That draft proposal stinks. If some team was stuck in a losing cycle and was having trouble attracting free agents making the draft the only reasonable way for them to rebuild and the only way for them to land a star gets stuck on the back end of the thirty picks at least every other year, unless they get lucky, they could be stuck at the bottom of the standings for fifteen plus years while some playoff team is getting a top fifteen pick every other year during the same time.

    Also, I think a lot of trades simply won’t happen as often if they go for this proposal; whether that’s good or bad is up to you.

    Also, what happens to the teams that traded for a 2017 0r 2018 pick; if the new proposal was accepted and enacting by then, will those teams get screwed over?