Morning Shootaround — March 17


VIDEO: The Daily Zap for games played March 16

NEWS OF THE MORNING

OKC’s latest collapse cause of concern | Jackson’s ways should work in N.Y. | Wade’s historic shooting season | Davis puts on another show for Pels | Thompson works with a heavy heart

No. 1:  Repeated defensive collapses cause for serious concern — Forget about who was in street clothes (Thabo Sefolosha and Kendrick Perkins) or who was in uniform but did not play (Russell Westbrook). The Oklahoma City have legitimate cause concern these days because they have apparently lost their defensive mojo since the All-Star break, struggling yet again to defend the way you expect an aspiring championship outfit to work on that end of the floor. What once looked like just a temporary glitch in the Thunder’s matrix is starting to look like something much more serious, as Anthony Slater of the Oklahoman detailed after the Dallas Mavericks worked the Thunder over:

Dallas 109, OKC 86, the Thunder’s worst home loss (23 points) since April 2009, the franchise’s inaugural season in the metro.

“The timeouts…well we didn’t need them at the end of the game,” Brooks joked.

Once again, as has been the case during this recent tailspin, the problems started on the defensive end.

Whether it was a lack of energy, lack of effort or lack of proper personnel — with three starters sidelined — the Thunder just couldn’t get nearly enough stops.

Dallas scored 29 points in the first quarter, 30 in the second and 32 in the third, grabbing and building what was a 21-point lead heading to a meaningless fourth.

Overall, the Mavericks shot 53 percent from the field and a scorching 13-of-24 from deep. Countless perimeter breakdowns led to uncontested jumpers and slow rotations allowed an array of easy buckets at the rim.

And as the steady flow of Maverick points piled up on Sunday night, the Thunder’s timeout huddles grew increasingly more animated. But that genuine displeasure didn’t translate to the court. When the ball was in play, there seemed to be a general disinterest.

“Seemed like we wasn’t there. We just coasted,” Kevin Durant said. “No excuse. None. We gotta figure it out. We’re pros. We gotta learn on the fly. All of us. We gotta act like we care.”

It’s déjà vu for a Thunder team that looked like it had solved its defensive woes the past two games, but instead reverted back to the plodding form that now has OKC 5-6 since the All-Star break.

“Just an overall theme of not good enough on the defensive end,” Nick Collison said. “I’d like to see us be a lot more consistent here finishing up the year.”


VIDEO: Thunder coaches and players discuss OKC’s home loss to the Mavericks

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No. 2: Phil’s winning ways will work in New York, so says Scott Williams — If Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant spoke up on Phil Jackson‘s behalf, no one would be surprised. Alpha dogs sharing fond memories about the man who helped them to some of their greatest success  would be nothing out of the ordinary. But Jackson’s is routinely praised by all of who have played and worked under him, stars and role players alike. Milwaukee Bucks assistant and former Chicago Bulls big man Scott Williams is a staunch believer in Jackson’s powers, and he witnessed that power before the word Zen was ever used in relation to Jackson. While everyone waits to see what Jackson will do his his first days in charge of the Knicks, Williams is predicting big things, writes Kevin Armstrong of the New York Daily News:

“I knew Phil before he was the Zen Master,” Williams said. “Everyone sees the big, beautiful skyline of a career that he has, 11 (coaching) championships and all. I was there when they were still digging out the foundation, frustrated that they couldn’t get past the Pistons. We were hell-bent on getting the one seed in the conference just to get home court.”

Jackson, the architect of dynasties in Chicago and Los Angeles, will bring his towering legacy to midtown Manhattan Tuesday when he is introduced to his former city as president of the Knicks.

Once a free-spirited cog in Red Holzman’s wheel, Jackson will come full circle as he searches for answers to a riddle that has baffled all executives and coaches in recent years: How will he fix the Knicks?

Former players like Williams believe he will bring in smart basketball people who understand his system and vision.

“His championship pedigree, his intelligence, his creativity is a fresh approach to the game,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said.

Williams recalled the early days of Jackson in Chicago, and noted that Jackson gained more confidence in his coaching as the Bulls became more comfortable with the triangle offense and the idea of “playing on a string,” a unique structure to the team that depended not only on Michael Jordan’s talents but the consistency within the moving parts.

“The game’s evolved now, there’s more banging now, but it was fun,” Williams said. “He gives you a lot of those tips from a guy who played 10 years in the league.”

There will be stress that comes with the job and dealing with Dolan, but Williams noted that Jackson’s willingness to study philosophy and psychology helped him build relationships.

“Ahead of the curve, not just barking at guys,” Williams said.


VIDEO: The GameTime crew discusses what Phil Jackson must fix with the Knicks

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No. 3: Where does Wade’s historic shooting season stack up? — No one is touting Dwyane Wade for postseason honors, not with his maintenance program garnering more headlines than his actual play this season. But Wade is putting together a historic season, nonetheless, one that has been largely overlooked … until now, thanks to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. Jackson highlights Wade’s shooting performance this season, the best by a shooting guard in 3-point shot era. The fact that he’s doing it in the Heat’s Big 3 era makes it perhaps even more impressive:

Wade is shooting 55.1 percent from the field –– something Michael Jordan never did over a full season. Jordan’s high: 53.9 in 1990-91.

And if he stays above 54 percent, it would be the highest by a shooting guard since Atlanta backup Mike Glenn shot 58.8 in 1984-85. The highest field-goal accuracy by a starting shooting guard in the three-point era was Otis Birdsong, at 54.5 percent in 1980-81.

What’s more, Wade is on pace to lead all shooting guard in accuracy for the fifth time in the past six seasons. (He was beaten out by Wilson Chandler in 2009-2010). Wade has topped 50 percent only once before – 52.1 last season.

Shooting 54 percent, let alone 55, “is something I’ve never done before, so it would be great,” he said. “I take pride in my field-goal percentage, have always cared about it. I was 49.6 percent in college. I wanted to be at 50. I try to take good shots.”

For perspective, only one other NBA guard has shot better than 50 percent this season: Phoenix’s Goran Dragic at 50.8.

So what’s the biggest difference? Wade said he worked on his mid-range game and post game during the offseason, and the results are dramatic.

Consider that Wade is shooting 53 percent from 3 to 10 feet, well above his 46.4 career mark. From 10 to 16 feet, he’s at 47.5 percent, a huge jump from 38.1 in his career.

He’s shooting 55 percent when he posts up, up from 48 percent last season: “I’m pretty good on the post game. I added that. I didn’t have it in college.” He also has diversified his game by polishing his Eurostep move and adding a hook shot.

Wade has taken only one heave at the end of a quarter after shooting 17 over the past five seasons. Will he avoid those shots to keep his percentage high?

“I haven’t been in that position [to take them],” he said, with Wade usually on the bench at the end of the first and third quarters. “It depends on how I’m going. Sometimes, I’ll want to shoot. Sometimes, I’ll dribble it out.”

It also helps his percentage that he shoots three-pointers sparingly (he’s 9 for 27), after launching 243 in his final season playing without James. Wade noted the Heat already has enough three-point shooters without him lofting a lot of them. But Indiana coach Tom Crean, his friend and former coach at Marquette, said last summer that it’s a part of his game he will need to polish as he gets older.


VIDEO: Dwyane Wade delivers in Miami’s win over Houston

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No. 4: Davis shows off his brains as well as his talent on career night — Pelicans big man Anthony Davis has made a fantastic transition from college star to NBA All-Star. But it’s been more than just his raw talent and physical gifts. As was on display during his career-night against the Boston Celtics Sunday, Davis beats you as much his with his mind and his sky-high basketball IQ as he does anything else. Nakia Hogan of the Times-Picayune has the details from Davis and Pelicans coach Monty Williams, who has been instrumental in the development of the young star:

Davis, playing a career-high 48 minutes, scored a career-high 40 points and had a career-high 21 rebounds, marking the first time in franchise history anyone has ever reached that statistical feat. He also had three blocks, making him only the eighth player in NBA history to have at least 40 points, 20 rebounds and three blocks in a game.

“When you go for those kind of numbers that’s a lot of God given talent,” Williams said.

And maybe even more important, Davis didn’t have any mental lapses down the stretch.

In fact, in the closing seconds of the game, Davis had the ball and an open lane to the basket. But instead, he pulled the ball out and passed to Anthony Morrow, who passed to Brian Roberts, as the Celtics tried to foul in an attempt to stop the clock.

It was a heady play, and the Pelicans ran out the clock to snap their two-game losing streak.

“That’s the kind of play that a younger guy probably would go and dunk the ball just to get two more points,” Williams said. “But we don’t need that. We don’t need to stop the clock.”

Immediately after the final buzzer, Davis looked to Williams and pointed his right index finger at his head, acknowledging to his coach he knew he had made the smart choice.

“I was letting him know that I have a little bit of basketball IQ,” Davis said jokingly. “Not much, just a little bit. Alexis (Ajinca, Pelicans center) was trying to tell me ‘I thought you were going to go and dunk it.’ But I know a little bit.

“I just know I wanted the game to be over with. I didn’t want to give them a chance to get another look off. So even if they would have fouled or I would have made the basket, they would have had probably three or four seconds to try and get a shot.”


VIDEO: Pelicans big man Anthony Davis had a career night in a win over the Celtics

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No. 5: Emotional Thompson lifts Warriors at the end The Splash Brothers were on their mark throughout their unbelievable comeback win over Portland. Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson combined for 64 points and two clutch 3-pointers (from Thompson) in a game that the Warriors trailed by 18 points before staging their furious rally. While it was a showcase for all involved and certainly for those who watched, it was an emotional night for Thompson, who worked with a heavy heart after attending the funeral of his grandfather before coming up with those late-game heroics. Rusty Simmons of the San Francisco Chronicle has more:

Warriors shooting guard Klay Thompson high-stepped toward halfcourt and greeted Draymond Green with a leaping shoulder bump.

“I’ve never seen him that emotional,” Warriors power forward David Lee said. “I even saw him actually pump his fist one time, which is more emotion than I’ve seen in two or three years combined.”

Thompson had plenty of reason to break from his usual stoicism, having left his grandfather’s funeral just in time to make the game and then knocking down two three-pointers in the closing minute to clinch a 113-112 victory over the Trail Blazers on Sunday at the Moda Center.

The third-year guard missed a game Friday for the first time in his career, snapping a franchise-record 214-game streak, and then took three flights from the Bahamas to get to Portland between 1 and 2 a.m. Sunday.

He certainly appeared fresh by the fourth quarter, when he scored 15 of his 27 points to complete the Warriors’ comeback from an 18-point deficit. With the score locked at 107-107 and 54 seconds remaining, Thompson drilled one three-pointer, and with the Warriors trailing 111-110 and 11.9 seconds left, Thompson hit another for the game-winner.

“We wanted to get this one for him,” said Warriors point guard Stephen Curry, who had 37 points and joined Thompson in combining for 51 of the team’s 69 second-half points. “We understand that he’s been through a lot this week and traveled a lot of miles. He compartmentalized it for about two hours to come out and play, and that was big for us. We needed every play he made.”


VIDEO: Klay Thompson saves the day for Golden State in its win over Portland

***

SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: The Mavericks have had enough of home after the longest home stretch any of them can remember … No one, and we mean NO ONE, does 50-win seasons like the San Antonio Spurs … Blake Griffin‘s game just keeps getting better, and that includes more than just his shooting touch and aggressiveness … The return of Eric Bledsoe has been great for the Suns, they’ve won two of three since he came back. But will it be enough to save their playoff hopes?  …

ICYMI of the Night: Jazz big man Derrick Favors is playing on a team that is struggling this season, but that hasn’t kept him from turning in his best season as a pro. He was particularly impressive in defeat against the San Antonio Spurs last night …


VIDEO: Derrick Favors shows off his goods against the Spurs

41 Comments

  1. I can’t believe tht the Wolves beat the Kings last night!!!!!! The wolves can beat teams tht hve there #1 guy out :)

  2. i-X says:

    yeah that’s why the heat were 2-6 lately..

  3. theCHI2014 says:

    Anthony Davis is spectacular. I truly believe he will become a top 3 power forward of all time. Plays defense like Bill Russell, and offense like a young duncan

  4. theCHI2014 says:

    What Wade is doing is truly spectacular but his percentage would obviously go down if he didn’t rest several games. He would probably be more around 50-51% like last season, which is still extremely efficient. I was so angry when Pat Riley was smart enough to draft him when he came into the league. My bulls were just one pick away from drafting him but got Kirk Hinrich instead, just to think..

    • Witness says:

      No not obviously. Hes played WAAAAY more games than hes missed so thers no way you can sit here and say that. It aint like hes missed half his games.

  5. dustydreamnz says:

    Not sure what is happening with the Thunder, even without Westbrook you’d expect better. Hope the Spurs can take the West Finals, many said they were too old again!

  6. Captain Obvious says:

    This article is so absurd! A) Just off the top of my head Tony Parker is shooting over 50 percent near 40 percent from 3pt and 80 percent from the line (all of those numbers mind you are far better than wade with the exception of 2ptfg% where Wade can dunk and well I Parker can”t) B) I’m sure there are others shooting over 50 percent at the guard that hell Belleneli is at 49.6. C) The Jordan parallel is insulting to his airiness, yes Wade is a hall of famer, but no where near top ten of all time, he’d be lucky to be considered top ten of his time!

  7. Carlos Claro says:

    But Wade, the All-Star role player, can’t shoot from perimeter.
    Wade is a unidimensional player with explosion.

    He isn’t in my top 50 SG ever.

  8. Benjamin Trottier says:

    What about Wade’s historic flopping season?!

  9. ace says:

    this dude (wade) plays half the season and you comparing his % to MJ’s????? As Stephen A would say ***** PLEASE!!!!

  10. Martin Chiaravalloti says:

    Anyone else notice how dirty Harden and Beverly played Miami yesterday? Harden intentionally knocked Rio to the floor twice and Beverly was getting up under guys while they were in the air to force them to fall. I don’t know Beverly, a scrub to my mind. But to see Harden playing dirty was disappointing, I didn’t know he was like that…

  11. JD says:

    Houston got robbed last night… The refs are ALL giving favors in Miami…

  12. Game Time says:

    It’s clear that Durant is not a guarantee for this year’s MVP. It should be a tight race between the two, but I’d still pick Lebron as the MVP.

  13. Justin83 says:

    Wade is doing good, but it is much easier to get the high shooting percentage when your only playing half the games. If he was an every game guy his percentage wouldnt be nearly the same.

    • Martin Chiaravalloti says:

      You make a good point which is why LeBron’s 60+ % season while playing big minutes and scoring in the top five all year is even more impressive!

    • DeeWig says:

      My thoughts exaxtly…

    • saeed says:

      It is easier to get good FG% when you take fewer shots not when you play fewer games. I think Wade’s games are also carefully selected by the coaching staff to be against tougher teams (specially defensively tough) where James need some help to get the team going. So I think if he was healthy and could play every game, he would have been even shooting better.
      Moreover, I think the presence of the ultra-efficient perimeter player James, has also helped him increase his FG%.
      Believe me, if James leave the Heat at the end of the season, Wade’s efficiency will decrease by “A FEW” percents. And if James chooses to go back to Cleveland, and Kyrie’s efficiency increase highly (it is less than 43% now) and Wade’s efficiency decreases a little bit, then James has a good chance of proving himself as REALLY one of the few best players of All-time.
      But to me, going back to the main topic, Wade’s efficiency is mainly because of his wise shot selection AND his extremely stable body form when posting-up AND James’ presence.

    • David says:

      Wade player 48 games out of 65 games this season. He never played a full season in his career. So far he played 74% of the games, which makes it 60-61 games for the season. He played most of the games in 2014, so I’m pretty sure we are looking at higher number than 60-61.

      And the fact that he shoots better isn’t because of rest. If you watch more Heat games you can actually see what Wade does differently.

  14. marty says:

    Give credit where its do.Rare to see an aging star play this efficient with a winning team.Heard his surgery takes about 6 months to come full circle.Getting better by the day.

  15. Melvin says:

    Respectfully DWade creates his own shots and dosent need Lebron. It is and impressive accomplishment to shot at a hight percentage in a high offensive challenging league.
    I give MJ his props to shooting at that precentage in a more intense and phyiscal league , when elbows and stepping on feet was considered good defense.

  16. Fefe (Nets) says:

    Wade is a beast: but could you tell me how/why you rank him 3rd all time at SG????
    I’m not sure to agree yet…And Wade has still some years left so let’s see when he retires before “ranking” him

    A.D.: a true beast

  17. bryanjoelgarcia says:

    Respect the Great Ones guys….55% is impressive no matter how you look at it. And I’ll be honest I hate the HEAT because I’m from Boston, but Wade is far from over and he is never open. He creates most of his shots and converts on fast breaks.

  18. Squall says:

    ^ umm scottie pippen? pretty sure he was a threat

  19. spermspray says:

    wade will not have this kind field goal percentage if he plays all games.

  20. eastbrook russell says:

    Parker is shooting exactly 50%. Last time I checked he was a PG.

  21. Jaccques Durceille says:

    The end of Dwayne Wade is upon us. Good riddance, he had a great career. 1 FMVP, 3 Championships and the 3rd best shooting guard in NBA history. Give that man a round of applause. It is a shame his knees could not hold up or else he would have had 6 rings at least and another Finals MVP. It is sad to see someone of Wade’s stature to crumble like this due to injury. I remember the real Wade. The 06 wade, the should be mvp 09 Wade. I hope he ends his career on a high note, and he can retire after winning another ring.

    • krishawn-MIA says:

      Yup I agree with you, especially that 09 MVP Wade-i thought that was his for sure

      • youngback says:

        wade should’ve won mvp in 09? his team won 43 games in the eastern conference..lebron’s team won 66 games..4 games away from a 70 win season and not to mention the great numbers lebron put up that season, if the NBA would’ve gave wade the MVP that season it would’ve been a travesty..sorry but in no shape or form should a player on a 43 win team be rewarded the mvp over a player on a 66 win team..and might I add both were playing with mediocre teams that season.

    • Game Time says:

      You’re complementing him so why say “good riddance”?

    • Martin Chiaravalloti says:

      Why the Good Riddance remark?

  22. Dave says:

    Overrated Stat. MJ Never had Lebron commanding the 2 or 3 best defenders on the court. DWade could change his name to 7/11 he’s open nearly all day long.

    • mee(a)t says:

      How is it an overrated state? People has always criticized Melo or Kobe for taking too many shots to pad their stats but when Wade is taking the “right” shots and is shooting around 19 points a game, it’s not good enough?

    • theking0522 says:

      Ok. I will give you that. So is Kobe overrated also? Shaq used to get the attention of the whole team…Nobody could stop him…Many of the shots Kobe made were WIDE OPEN when Shaq was triple team in some cases. Stop taking away from Wade. You still have to make the shots and he said two seasons ago that he was trying to improve his jump shot. And he has.

    • bye bye wade. good riddance says:

      lol. Thats a good one. I concur.

    • VinnyJay says:

      Actually many teams chose to double team Wade and play Lebron 1 on 1. Wade was great long before Lebron came along. The year they first joined together, Wade was dominating the NBA finals against Dallas and Lebron cost them a ring. Wade has shown he can pretty much take on 1 on 5. Just look at all the years before Lebron and Bosh joined Miami…

    • Viper says:

      with LeBron tearing the defense apart and Wade just following behind with no defender left to deal with him, it is easy to get better percentages. But on the other side, LeBron has been there for a couple of years now and for Wade to still improve at that rate shows his BB IQ and his work ethic. Avoid bad shoots – and use only what the defense gives you…

      Go Wade :)

    • okc2014 says:

      What is going on w OKC?

    • jOLAN says:

      Dwade was one of the few players that could carry a team to the playoffs on his own (LeBron, kobe a few years ago). Durant is basically doing it now. But who else is doing that right now? He has hit a bad few years for his knees, but no one remembers how good he was in 09 before LeBron and bosh joined. He can still dominate. He took a huge step back for the team. I do agree though that the stat is overrated but not that much. Jordan was the bulls offence. Dwade does a lot of his offence when LeBron sits.