Morning shootaround — Nov. 21


VIDEO: Highlights from games played Nov. 20

NEWS OF THE MORNING

Pierce: Rivalry with LeBron ‘misunderstood’ | Cavs’ Love still searching for his role | Van Gundy fires back at Markieef Morris | Rivers standing by Redick

No. 1: Pierce: Rivalry with LeBron ‘misunderstood’ — The Cleveland Cavaliers from LeBron James‘ first tour of duty there took on Paul Pierce‘s Boston Celtics crew in two separate East semifinals series (2008 and ’10), losing both times. Those matchups — plus others between James’ Miami Heat teams and Pierce’s Celtics, and later, Brooklyn Nets — spurred a notion that Pierce and James don’t like each other personally. In an interview with J. Michael of CSNWashington.com, though, Pierce says that’s hardly the truth:

For Friday’s showdown between the Wizards and Cleveland Cavaliers, there are so many subplots in play: The preseason war of words between the backcourts; the rivalry between the teams during LeBron James’ first stint with his hometown team; and Eastern Conference playoff position. But the main plot will focus on Paul Pierce and James.

“I think a lot of it is misunderstood. If I see LeBron walking down the street, it’s not going to be no fistfight. I got a lot of respect for him,” said Pierce, who had triumphs and failures against him as a member of the Boston Celtics and last season with the Brooklyn Nets. “The competitive nature of both of us, being at the same position, being on top teams, gunning for the same trophy year in and year out, that’s where that comes in to play. It’s like fighting for the same girl. Why do I want to be cool with that guy?

“I’ve got total respect for him as a person. It’s just the things that we go through are all on the court and that’s where we leave it.”

“It’s something about great players when they play in certain arenas, when they play against other great players they elevate their play,” Pierce said about the stakes being raised Friday. “LeBron is one of those guys. He feels the moment. He understands the moment. This could be a moment tomorrow. We’ve got to be prepared for it.’

More wisdom from Pierce:

  • On the Cavs now: “Their record doesn’t show how good they’re going to be. … We’re going to have a lot of games like this throughout the course of the year. We got to be ready for this. We got to start expecting playoff-type atmospheres, playoff-type level of play. It’s time for us to start raising our level of play when these type of teams come in, Dallas, Cleveland, whoever.”
  • On James’ return home: “I was definitely surprised. With the run that they had in Miami, them going to four straight Finals that that wouldn’t deter him, losing in the Finals. I thought they built something special there. Obviously, Cleveland has a special place in his heart and he felt like he left something behind but it’s good for him. It’s good for the game of basketball. Shifts the balance of power. We know how tough it is to  put together a team and try to win a championship in that first year which makes the Eastern Conference that much wide open.”

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No. 2: Love trying to ‘find myself’ with Cavs — Power forward Kevin Love has seen his numbers take a large dip with the Cleveland Cavaliers from what he used to put up in his Minnesota Timberwolves days. That was to be expected as Cleveland works out fitting him in with LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and the rest of the contending crew it has. After Thursday’s practice, Love talked about how he is trying to find his place on this new team and suggested he needs more opportunities to shine as well. ESPN.com’s Dave McMenamin has more:

Kevin Love spoke up about his role in the Cleveland Cavaliers’ offense after a 92-90 loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday night dropped the team’s record to a pedestrian 5-5, but coach David Blatt downplayed the merit of his star forward’s concerns.

“We run specific stuff for Kevin and for other guys,” Blatt said after practice Thursday. “You know, earlier in the season when he was scoring the ball better, it was the same offense. So I’m not sure that it’s as much related to that as just the game flow and situational things.

“But we want to help Kev. He needs to be involved and he needs to involve himself, and it’s our job to help him.”

After scoring 16 or more points in five of the Cavs’ first six games, Love has failed to score more than 13 in three of their last four games.

“It’s come to a point where I’m just trying to find myself in this offense,” Love said after scoring a season-low 10 points against the Spurs and attempting just one shot in the fourth quarter. “It’s almost related to when you come into the league; usually the guys that dominate the ball so much tend to learn a lot quicker than a guy like myself, a big man. So I’m just trying to find different spots in the offense.

“I’ll just say we’re 10 games in, we’re looking at different stuff. I need to find myself. I think everybody knew coming in that we’d have to sacrifice, but at some point we’re going to need some low-post scoring and some outside shooting.”

Love’s scoring average has dropped nearly 10 points per game, from 26.1 to 16.7, since last season with the Minnesota Timberwolves when he was the team’s unequivocal No. 1 option. His field goal attempts per game have taken a major dip, from 18.5 to 13.1.

Blatt thinks Love’s shot attempts will go up as the team picks up the pace on offense while also cutting down on turnovers and creating more scoring opportunities through its defense.

“I think if we’ll get more shots as a team that will help him increase the volume also,” Blatt said.

Love can help himself by making more of the shots he does take. His shooting percentage has plummeted from 45.7 percent last season to 38.9 percent through the Cavs’ first 10 games, and his 3-point percentage has suffered slightly, falling from 37.6 to 35.7 percent.

Blatt said that Love’s comments about his place in the offense did not bother him.

“Not really. No,” Blatt said. “First of all, we’re dealing with human beings and you’re dealing after each and every game with emotions. People are full of adrenaline or are excited or are, as I said, emotional. I really don’t pay too, too much attention [to players’ comments to the media]. When I talk to guys face-to-face, that’s really what’s important to me.”

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No. 3: Van Gundy fires back at Suns’ Markieef Morris — The Phoenix Suns had to turn to their defense to scrape out an 88-86 win in Detroit on Wednesday night against the Pistons. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had a chance to win the game with a late 3-pointer, but he missed it. After the game, the Suns’ Markieef Morris questioned Caldwell-Pope’s heart and since then, Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy has gone after Morris. Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press has more:

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope found humor in Phoenix Suns forward Markieff Morris’ verbal blast.

Detroit Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy questioned Morris’ credentials.

But both obviously disagreed with Morris’ assessment that the Pistons’ second-year shooting guard “doesn’t have any heart.”

He said it after the Suns’ 88-86 victory over the Pistons at the Palace when Caldwell-Pope missed a triple in the closing seconds that would have probably won it.

“Caldwell-Pope got it and you know he doesn’t have any heart, so we knew he was going to miss,” Morris said.

Van Gundy wasn’t going to let such an insult slide.

“I’m not quite sure – maybe he knows – I’m not quite sure what Markieff Morris has accomplished in the league that gets him to the point of mouthing off,” Van Gundy said after today’s practice. “I mean, I don’t like the mouthing off anyway.

“It seems to me you should at least participate in a playoff game before you do. But maybe not, maybe that’s not the standard anymore.”

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No. 4: Rivers not fretting Redick’s shooting slump — The Los Angeles Clippers worked a sign-and-trade deal for J.J. Redick two offseasons ago in hopes his 3-point shooting would help strengthen their team overall. Redick leads the team in 3-pointers made (19) and is shooting a respectable 33.9 percent from deep, but his overall field goal percentage (37.9) is well below his career mark of 43.0. Coach Doc Rivers is standing by his usually reliable shooting guard, though, writes Ben Bolch of The Los Angeles Times:

Doc Rivers enlisted the help of Clippers broadcaster and former NBA power forward Michael Smith when a reporter inquired about J.J. Redick’s shooting struggles.

Asked Rivers, motioning to Smith: “What would you do?”

Replied Smith: “Keep shooting.”

It’s what shooters do, and Redick complied during the Clippers’ 110-93 victory over the Miami Heat on Thursday night at AmericanAirlines Arena.

“It’s a long season,” Redick said, “so I believe in the law of averages. It will all work out in the end.”

Redick has rebounded from slow starts before, making 35.7% of his shots and 30.2% of his three-pointers in November 2010, only to finish that season making 44.1% of his shots and 39.7% of his three-pointers.

“I believe in myself as a player and as a shooter, my teammates believe in me, I know that,” Redick said. “And you have to play your way out of it.”

***

SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Atlanta Hawks rookie Adreian Payne has been sent down to the NBA D-League … Speaking of the Hawks, the team says they’ve seen a jump in TV ratings and home attendance this season … Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo says the team is not in a rebuilding year … Portland Trail Blazers star LaMarcus Aldridge held against the team that drafted him, the Chicago Bulls, for a long time … Hall of Famer and former San Antonio Spurs coach Jerry Tarkanian has been hospitalized … A Las Vegas sports book says the winless Philadelphia 76ers would be the favorites against the talent-stocked University of Kentucky squad

ICYMI OF THE NIGHT: Joakim Noah gets the ball, sizes up DeMarcus Cousins and drives in ready to score on him. Then, Cousins has other ideas … 


VIDEO: DeMarcus Cousins swats away Joakim Noah’s shot

 

 

6 Comments

  1. verysadokcfan says:

    I’m really liking how the Hawks are playing. Don’t sleep on them people, they are creeping up the Leastern Conference ladder! Let’s Go Hawks!

  2. TTKIN says:

    Van Gundy didn’t say anything to Faried earlier in the year though when he talked trash on Josh Smith cuz he knows Faried was right hahaha.

  3. Nick says:

    Love, and the Cav’s must be patient. Coach Blatt seems to understand this which should help his players settle down. They need to ignore the media hype. If they moved the ball more offensively then everyone would get touches, They would be able to take what the opposing teams defense gives them and they would be on their way to a great season. “Creating offense” individually is great on the neighborhood court and may produce wins during the regular season, but such offenses fail the ultimate test when competing in the playoffs against a team that plays true team ball. Great ball movement destroys defenses, fatigues the opposing team, and results in higher percentage shots.

  4. Mark65 says:

    I wouldn’t be talking stan van cause your team plays in a weaker conference and i predict no playoffs for you, have fun in the lottery:) Stan van is also know to be the master of panic, where are your credentials Stan van? u haven’t won the big one in the playoffs with 2 of the greatest centers of all time, i wouldn’t be talking. Money morris is still a young player with alot of talent with tons to accomplish and only has been in the league for 3-4 yrs, give him time he might become a big time player when he gets into the playoffs most likely this yr on top of that his team won & he was right!

  5. Keith Grillo says:

    Players like Noah and Cousins are who make the NBA’s future bright.

  6. T gas TT ako says:

    kevin love should ask bosh on what to do,,, thats thereally hard part on playing along w/ the king