Morning Shootaround — Jan. 27


VIDEO: The Daily Zap for games played Jan. 26

NEWS OF THE MORNING

No place for ‘Melo in LA? | KG and Pierce; the return | Wounded Wall will rise from USAB snub | Heat ready for season to crank up

No. 1: Lakers cool on recruiting ‘Melo? – Kobe Bryant has already declared himself out of the Carmelo Anthony recruiting sweepstakes, choosing the role of big brother instead.  He tried the recruiter hat with Dwight Howard last season and it didn’t work. But Bryant wasn’t the issue then and he’s not now for the Lakers. That responsibility belongs to Mike D’Antoni, the Lakers’ coach whose rough relationship with Howard (and now Anthony) could have a negative impact on the thinking of the coveted free agent. D’Antoni, who coached Anthony with the Knicks, is taking a similarly hands off approach where the soon-to-be free agent is concerned. Marc Berman of the New York Post explains (D’Antoni also offers up some support for his successor) :

When asked if he got a chance to see Anthony, D’Antoni said after the 110-103 loss, “I said hi to him. He said hi to me. What do you want us to be, pen pals or something? We’re fine.’’

D’Antoni was short in his praise of Anthony’s 62-point Friday record-setter and wanted no part of a question regarding Anthony’s future.

“I watched clips, it looked like he was making baskets,’’ D’Antoni said. “He’s got that ability. If he’d played the whole game he probably would’ve had about 80. Obviously scoring talent he does not lack.’’

D’Antoni, however, thought Anthony never bought into the spread-the-wealth, speed-ball attack that earned him the offensive genius label in Phoenix. It seems farfetched Anthony, a free agent this summer, and D’Antoni would make the perfect marriage in Los Angeles. But you never say never.

Asked about Anthony’s free-agent future, D’Antoni demurred: “I’m good. I just want to drink my water and watch a little basketball.’’

D’Antoni defended Knicks coach Mike Woodson, who has been on shaky ground. Woodson replaced D’Antoni late in the 2011-12 season. Fans that year chanted “We Want Wood-son.” Now they chant “Fi-re Wood-son.’’

“Woody does a great job,’’ D’Antoni said. “They’ve had injuries, it’s a tough league, and some years it doesn’t go well. [But] they have a lot more basketball to play, and they win two or three in a row they’ll be in second place in the East, so they’ll be fine. It’s a great organization, I enjoyed my four years here, but you’ve got to win. Everything is going to be questioned. It should be.’’

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No. 2: Celtics honor KG and Pierce in their return – Credit Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce for keeping their composure during an emotional return to Boston Sunday. They held it together during an intense and relentless stream of praise from the fans and folks in TD Garden and around the city of Boston. Not every city maintains the bond with its former sports superstars. And now KG and Pierce understand what it must have been like for the Boston sports heroes that came (and left) before them. Chris Forsberg of ESPNBoston.com has more from the emotional return for two-thirds of Boston’s Big 3:

Suggesting his return to Boston was tougher than his first trip back to Minnesota, where he started his NBA odyssey, Garnett detailed his ride on an emotional roller coaster while back at TD Garden on Sunday. But he stressed that, even without Gino, the video tribute and the fans’ reaction exceeded even his wildest expectations for coming back.

“This was over the top,” Garnett said. Later he added, “What comes to mind is unbelievable, I didn’t expect anything like that for myself. It shows the first-class type of organization that this is and the appreciation from this organization for you. And I couldn’t put it into words.

“Paul and I were joking before the game, who was going to tear up and drop a tear. I had lumps in my throat. I kept them under control and I focused as much as I could on the game and not take away from it. But, man, this was over the top. I couldn’t put that into words.”

Boston fans delivered an extended standing ovation when Garnett and Pierce were the final two Nets players announced during pregame introductions. With 2:25 to play in the first quarter, the arena hushed in anticipation of what was about to come.

Then came a roar at the mere sight of a green No. 5 flashed on the screen. Garnett’s tribute opened with a clip from “SportsCenter” detailing the trade that delivered him to Boston from the Timberwolves. After a clip of the Big Three holding up their jerseys at Garnett’s introduction, highlights from his Boston tenure rolled, including his bloodied head during a game against the Lakers in 2011, his in-game pushups versus Miami from 2012, and a wild montage of chest pounds and emphatic fist pumps. The video closed with Garnett kneeling to kiss the parquet floor and him screaming, “Anything is possible!” after the Celtics’ Game 6 victory over the Lakers delivered Banner 17 in 2008.

As the crowd delivered another standing ovation, the camera cut to a banner with retired jersey numbers with a couple open spots at the bottom — spots that eventually will house Garnett’s No. 5 and Pierce’s No. 34. But Garnett was already back in the huddle at that point, barking at teammates while trying to power through his emotions.

The cameras cut back to Garnett as play resumed on the court and, after a couple of deep breaths, Garnett smiled and appeared to tell teammates he had been on the verge of losing it.

In the days leading up to Sunday’s game, Garnett pledged to keep his focus on the game and he lived up to that promise. The Celtics rallied in the fourth quarter, trimming a 12-point deficit to three, and had a chance to tie the game with less than 30 seconds to play. With Rondo dribbling in a late-clock situation, Garnett cheated off his man to double the ball and managed to intercept a pass intended for Brandon Bass.

The 37-year-old Garnett, 18-plus years of NBA mileage on his tires, had 70 feet to cover, but he outraced Jeff Green and Chris Johnson before delivering a layup that essentially sealed Brooklyn’s 85-79 triumph, capping a perfect trip back to Boston.

“It took me two days to get the layup up; I thought I was going to get caught, but I got it still — put the ball in front of me, and I got the layup,” Garnett said. “Like Paul said, I’m glad we came here and got a win. A lot of distraction, but they were good distractions.

“It felt good to be showered and for the city to show their appreciation [and] the organization, man. You give yourself. People always say that players can be too loyal. I don’t believe that. A city like Boston is worth it and tonight’s the epitome of all that.”



VIDEO: Garnett and Pierce on their emotional return to Boston

***

No. 3: Wall will use USA Basketball snub as motivation – John Wall‘s Olympic dreams are fading. The Wizards point guard did not make the cut on USA Basketball’s roster for 2014-16, a 28-man that includes his backcourt mate Bradley Beal. Granted, Beal is a shooting guard and a specialist in one area that the U.S. Men’s Senior National Team can never have enough of for international competition. Wall, meanwhile, is one of the many talented point guard options the USAB brass had to choose from. The fallout from this snub, however, could very well work in the Wizards’ favor. Michael Lee of the Washington Post tries to make sense of it all:

Wall is the one of two American-born No. 1 overall picks in the past 11 years not to receive an invitation to Team USA. The other former top pick left out of the mix is Greg Oden, who is back in the NBA after missing the previous four seasons with chronic knee problems. LeBron James, Dwight Howard, Derrick Rose, Blake Griffin, Kyrie Irving and Anthony Davis were included.

“I been through it before. The main thing for me is try to be professional. I went out there and played. I did it the right way,” Wall said of his experiences with Team USA minicamp. “I just use it as more motivation. It’s nothing I could do. It’s nothing I can say, and I don’t want nobody to babysit me or try to make it work for me. They made their list, they made their decision and that’s what they’re happy with, and I just have to look past that. It’s more motivation because I didn’t make McDonald’s game. I wasn’t national player of the year. I wasn’t rookie of the year. So those are just tabs I keep to motivate myself to prove people wrong.”

The Wizards gave Wall a five-year, $80 million maximum extension last summer, solidifying his standing as the foundation of the franchise’s efforts to get back to respectability. In his fourth season, Wall has been producing the best numbers of his career with averages of 20.0 points, 8.5 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 1.9 steals. He finished a distant third in all-star fan balloting for Eastern Conference guards but is expected to be chosen by the coaches as a reserve with the Wizards positioned to make the playoffs for the first time since 2008.

Wall is having a better season than some of the point guards on the list, but despite his slow-but-steady improvement, he lacks the skill as a consistent shooter that is a necessity for international basketball. Beal, however, is a noted marksman who has connected on 42.3 percent of his three-point attempts this season and could be more of a threat with a shorter international three-point line.

Team USA only invited three other shooting guards in James Harden, Gordon Hayward and Klay Thompson but has been known to use two point guards on the floor at the same time.

“A lot of these guys can go either way. Like LeBron can play” point guard, Beal said with a laugh. “It really doesn’t matter, so I just have to be able to come in and show what I’ve got. It’s totally different than the NBA.”

***

No. 4: Heat just getting started on the 2013-14 season? – So playtime is over now for the Miami Heat. Dwyane Wade came back for Sunday’s Finals rematch and win over the San Antonio Spurs. Chris Bosh made up for his woes against the Spurs during The Finals with a huge effort and the Heat looked energized and much more like the outfit that is chasing a third straight title and fourth straight trip to The Finals, where the Spurs could once again await them. Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com dissects the Heat’s season and where they stand going forward:

After weeks of clearly struggling with motivation, the Heat are about to have plenty of it put before them. Sunday’s strong 113-101 victory over the San Antonio Spurs kicked off a stretch where the Heat will play teams with winning records in seven of 10 games. Not by accident, eight of their next 12 games are on national television.

More importantly, Sunday was also the first day the Heat had their full roster since the start of the season. Though they’re hardly alone in that distinction, with the league ravaged by injuries to stars, the Heat had a rather large variable in play because of the recent appearance that Greg Oden could end up being a factor at their weakest position.

The Heat have been rapped across the knuckles recently for what has been dubbed a “malaise” as they’ve swallowed nine losses against teams with losing records. What that fails to recognize is that the Heat were actually two games better this season through 43 games than they were last season. There were plenty of “what the?” games in the first few months last season as they struggled to get traction after winning the 2012 title.

It was last season in their 44th game when they truly got serious, after a losing road trip. It started Super Bowl weekend and they eventually reeled off 27 wins in a row and found a rhythm that carried them to another title.

It’s Super Bowl week again and the Heat have those several reasons to start getting serious, including a 2-4 road trip that ended grimly last week. Forget about another one of those crazy winning streaks (though the current one is at three and counting) but it wasn’t hard to miss how the Heat seemed to start to depress the gas against the Spurs.

Leading by 29 points at one point before the gap closed in garbage time, they delivered one of their most impressive performances of the season and their first quality win of the new year. It wasn’t a sterling defensive performance — those have been particularly elusive for the Heat this season and what they are really looking for — but there was no missing their increased intensity.

“They came with their A-game,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said.


VIDEO: The Game Time crew unveils their Sunday Feast

***

SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: We didn’t mean to snub Stephen Curry and the Warriors, who knocked off the Portland Trail Blazers in an exciting Grammy night show which also served as a homecoming for the heir apparent of Oakland’s point guard legacy … Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle is doing his due diligence to pump Dirk Nowitzki up as an All-Star reserve … New Orleans Pelicans big man Anthony Davis is content to let his play do the talking for him … Nuggets point guard Nate Robinson is operating behind enemy lines this week as an unabashed fan of his hometown Seattle Seahawks

ICYMI of The Night: Between the highlights and the narration of Beau Estes, the Top 10 Plays is a must-watch and must-listen on a daily basis. Sunday’s Top 10 plays is no different. Watch the players shine and enjoy Beau’s soundtrack while you do it:


VIDEO: Check out Sunday’s Top 10 plays, the best highlights and delivery in the business

23 Comments

  1. okc2014 says:

    Bostonians, I agree, they LOVE their sports teams (Bruins, Patriots, Red Sox and Celtics) and there is really no other loyalty quite like it. The old Boston Garden. Those were the good days…

  2. Joshua Greenfarb says:

    Kevin Martin made an awesome go-ahead game-winning jumper at Golden State in the closing seconds of Minnesota’s 121-120 victory over the Warriors.

    It’s a shame he may get snubbed for the 2014 West All Star team. His PPG is certainly good enough to be considered an All Star. I don’t vote, but if I did, I’d seriously consider voting Kevin Martin as an All Star off the bench guy. He could take Bryant’s spot.

  3. KG, Pierce, & Doc’s welcoming back home has got to be the biggest welcoming back’s in nba history. I knew it would be that way because of the way they left & not to a rival. No disrespect to RayRay cause myself could understand both sides but the 2 were 2 totally diff departures-Ray was offered more $, years, & no trade clause to stay w/ Celts-also was in talks w/ miami before the end of his last season w/ Celts. So his welcome back was mixed w/ horaahs & boos-more boos. Pierce & KG wanted to retire here, they stayed loyal-most of us Celts fans wanted them to retire here. Nature of the business side of the nba which i sometimes disagree w/ but i guess it is what it is. Nonetheless-when a loyal player departs the way they did-Doc as well-they get a long standing-fan tear jerking-player tear jerking-past video high light tear jerking…..standing till it’s over ovation. It’s that way so they incumbently know they always have a home here in Boston. It’s a special place to play sports especially for us fans-you just have to live here to really experience it-it’s a lil extra for Bball. It’s a place where us fans make players feel at home in our home-a lot of out of towners say that same thing-no other place is like it. :(…..- :) Anyway, good luck to Pierce, KG, & Doc. Yeah i’m pissed we lost both those homecomings-gettem next time :)

  4. J4CK Nicholson says:

    Before they consider recruiting Anthony or other top free agents, they should consider changing the coach first. No offense meant but I don’t think D’Antoni’s the right coach for this team. And I don’t think Jim Buss is the right owner either.

  5. LakersGuru says:

    It’s funny reading all this garbage about the ” L A K E R S” from all u HATERS… U jump on young players just coming into the league, and/or some that been in for a year or so… Most with no experience since they spent their time on the bench, for other teams; never getting the chance to contribute…

    This is their !st year playing & gelling with other teammates… But before they could get off the ground, all their experienced guards, both shooting & point guards, got injured… They were left without any on-court help, or guidance… During the thick of battle, they had to figure it out for themselves…

    They are battling long established teams every night; going up against tons of leadership & expertise, in what we all know is a losing proposition for them… Yet, we don’t appreciate the difficulty of their task…

    Somehow, with Kobe, Nash. Blake & Farmar out, we r stilling upset when they lose…

    Xavier Henry never played point before, but he tried it; battling there at .500 until he too got injured…. Then they called Kendall Marshall up from the “D – League”… He is learning on the JOB & keeping them close to victory until games end; when fatigue finally sets in….

    Yes fatigue, because they are playing so many minutes per game…. They can only suit up 8, or 9 players in most games due to their many injuries… They need a good old blow from time to time… So after a good start, they are running completely out of gas later in each game…

    But u can’t see any of that because of the “H A T E” u have in your heart for their name… Lakers mean years of winning.. Lots of “Larry O’Brien” trophies…. And many, many Championship RINGS… For as long as u can remember….

    But don’t sweat it… They don’t need to disband… All they need to do is wait for their GUARDS to RETURN…. When any 2 of the 4 injured guards return, then they will b back to their old winning ways… When all 4 guards r back, they will b unstoppable….

    And that’s what u all fear…. Isn’t it???? Thats why u r kicking them while they r down now, because u know whats going to happen when the get up!!!! Don’t u????

    These new guys r all good… They need more healthy players so they can rest their weary bodies… U know that.. I know, that u know that… So please, stop the bull….

    Go Lakers…… “GO”!!!!!!

    • #dwade#flash says:

      hey Guru, you win with 3 things.

      Good coach and bunch of “good players” that compliment each other and a leader

      now tell me what you guys have

  6. okc2014 says:

    I’m excited about my two favorite teams playing tonight, the Thunder and Hawks. It’s the only night of the season I don’t have to go back and forth between two games; I always watch them live at the Phillips Arena when Hawks host them. The Starters picked this game as a “must see” and I agree. Let’s Go Hawks! Go Thunder! Fun stuff!!!!

  7. dustydreamnz says:

    You can see why teams plsying under D’Antoni struggle, he’s a grumpy old man.
    The Celtics honouring of Pierce and Garnett was tremendous, I don’t usually get into those things but wow, worth catching a replay.
    Heat’s season just getting started? It doesn’t happen after 1 win, sure it was the Spurs but I think even they’ll admit they need to do better than that.

  8. Jose (Clipper Nation) says:

    Lakers need to just throw in the towel and start over. Even if Kobe comes back the current cast couldn’t get it done when he was gone. This was a chance for the supporting cast players to prove they belong and earn fan respect. Nick Young, now I know he is no Kobe. None of these guys are. This is the best the supporting cast can do without Kobe. I say trade everyone away and get young players who are teachable or work the lottery for a while. I have been watching the Lakers since the 80′s and I have seen a lot of ups and downs. Lakers just need to accept it and start the rebuilding process. Keep Kobe and get rid of everyone. Even Keep Pau but that’s it. Ok Nick keep him but every one else get rid of them.

    I wonder who makes more? Dirk Nowitzki or Pau Gasol. If its close Pau is making to much and not the player Dirk is.

  9. Alex says:

    Lakers don’t need Anthony. They have plenty of scorers. They are weak at the power forward position. They need a big defender down low. Ryan Kelly is a perimeter player. Pau plays better just outside the key. Other than Jordan Hill they have nobody. They actually need to dump D’Antoni as well…he is so wrong for that team.Lakers need big and tough…not scoring.

  10. Riaddddddd says:

    I would like the way Celtic welcome Paul and Kevin if only they did the same for Ray Allen when he first came back, but it’s clear it’s not about leaving the team????
    I’m curious, what Kevin Garnett thoughts when he recall the day he ignored Ray Allen #unfair

    • k says:

      how would u feel if your buddy leaves abandons you after begging him not to? Ray abandoned the Celtics KG was traded

      • #dwade#flash says:

        abandoned? check your statements first, and KG had an option to stay or leave, read previous articles first before making ish comments

        also Ray allen chose Heat for his kid’s hospital needs

  11. beedo says:

    melo need to come to the bulls thats the best chance he’ll have if he wants a ring p.s im not a chicago fan it just seems like the best team for him to choose

  12. lol says:

    yes please trade melo to the Lakers, its too quiet there and we need some serious LA drama asap, Kobe ,Anthony, D’antony on the same team? omg that would be awesome…thank God am not a Lakers fan though!

  13. emevipeelad234 says:

    Bstarr NBA Holland
    January 27, 2014 at 9:32 am

    Melo to LA ….lol what a joke. Not a chance! What benefit would Melo have if he goes to The Show?

    —->> melo to L.A is good, for new york who could drop the fraud quick then could develop a healthy franchise with a real franchise player. L.A well, good luck with that but they like it (old kobe 24M a year, dwight drama, nash, d’antoni choice…)

  14. Allycat says:

    Melo would be to leaving NY to go to LA? Everyone is old on the lakers or on 1 year contracts… Atleast you get tyson chandler on the Knicks. Melo needs to be thinking about going to a winning situation for that ring. Dwight sacrificed the potential endorsements being in a place like that, for a team he could be happy with and possibly a championship someday. Melo should do the same thing if he wants a ring someday.

  15. Melo to LA ….lol what a joke. Not a chance! What benefit would Melo have if he goes to The Show? Kobe and Melo both want to take 30 shots a game. Would be a match made in hell if you ask me. Not to mention the question: is the LAL squad good enough to go for a ring? LAL would need more than Melo to stand a chance in the West.

    Nice to see PP & KG back in TD. Celtic fans know how to show their appreciation to them. Very well done!!

    • Joshua Greenfarb says:

      It is a good thing LAL won’t be making the playoffs. Few of their fans are notoriously violent thugs.

      Example: some Laker fan hurt people with — I think — a gun after the Lakers were eliminated by the Thunder back in 2012.

      May have been unrelated, but the word was it was a disgruntled Laker fan that went ballistic.

      For public safety, no more LAL talk.

  16. steppx says:

    more pointless ink on the Lakers. The worst team in the West perhaps, but journalists cant stop writing about big markets. Meanwhile a stunning comeback win for the Suns. Portland GS game that is terrific, but no…we get to hear gossip about the lakers.

    • pKone says:

      Correction! Gossip about the Lakers AND the Knicks!

      If you want good ink on Phoenix look at the Power Rankings ;)

      I think both the Knicks and Lakers would exchange all of their “trade rumour” sound bytes in for a jump in the Power Rankings :D

      So don’t hate on the Journalists, they are just throwing those big markets a bone in their down-time ;)

      • Joshua Greenfarb says:

        Yah, but there’s a line you don’t cross, if you want to be an objective writer.

        Too many NBA.com writers are Laker fans. Thus, too much biased coverage of them. Big market or not. Does not matter. You focus on teams/players that are doing well.

        Probably: Carmelo will stay in New York. Unless he changes his mind and joins the OKC Thunder (to form the greatest NBA team of All Time), he has gone on record stating there’s no way he can be lured from New York.

        Give it up, Laker fans. Just … give … it … up.

        Bryant signed their death warrant. Now, the Lakers will be one of the worst NBA teams for a VERY LONG time.

        Accept it, and move on.

        This really isn’t Rocket Science or Astrophysics or whatever. :-)