Morning shootaround — Jan. 18



VIDEO: The Daily Zap for games played Jan. 17

NEWS OF THE MORNING
Kobe has thought of retirement | Warriors bounce back | Wiggins keeps rolling | Embiid worrying Sixers | Marshall tears ACL

 

No. 1: Retirement has crossed Kobe’s mind — It’s the word that the rest of the world jumped to as soon as he went to the floor back in April 2013 with the torn Achilles’ tendon. It’s the word that he’s been pushing back against over the long, difficult months of recovery. But now with a 32-minute per game restriction and still the pain that comes with trying to be his old self, Kobe Bryant admitted to Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times that early retirement is a long-shot, but still a possibility:

“I’d be lying if I said that it hasn’t crossed my mind,” he tells The Times. “Right now I doubt it … but anything’s possible.”
He emphasizes the right now (because, right now, the reality is so muddled and difficult that even the Black Mamba is having trouble wrapping his mind around it.

“My body is hurting like crazy, around the clock, and if I don’t want to do this anymore, I won’t do it,” he says.

Like an aging pitcher, he has been placed on a count, 32 minutes per game, which basically leaves him on the bench for one crucial stretch per night. Like a fragile relic, he also has been forbidden to play the second night of back-to-back games, which means he will miss at least seven more full games this season even though he’s not injured. There has even been talking of completely shutting him down in March if the Lakers fall completely out of playoff contention, which has essentially already occurred.

The most stunning part of these developments is that a man who has spent his entire 19-year Lakers career fighting to play every minute of every game — he even made two free throws after tearing his Achilles’ tendon, remember — has agreed to every current and potential restriction.
“I know everyone is surprised I’m not fighting all this,” Bryant says quietly. “But I’ve changed.”

***

No. 2: Warriors reclaim their identity in Houston — One night after they barely showed up to put up a fight in Oklahoma City, the Warriors exploded for a 38-point guard third quarter in Houston and put James Harden under lock and key in what was supposed to be a showdown between Western Conference powers. As Rusty Simmons of the San Francisco Chronicle noted, there was only one power on hand Saturday night and it was the league leaders:

Just 24 hours after the Warriors allowed season highs in points, field goals and field-goal percentage at Oklahoma City, they didn’t allow Houston to sniff those numbers.

Friday “night, we weren’t ourselves,” Warriors forward Draymond Green said. “We weren’t focused. We weren’t locked in. It showed in the stats, and it showed in the score.”

With Andrew Bogut and Andre Iguodala back in the rotation, the Warriors returned to the tenacious switching and gritty rim-protecting unit that has topped the league in defensive rating for most of the season. Houston shot just 42 percent from the floor, and the league’s most prolific three-point-shooting team was limited to 7-of-23 from behind the arc.

The Warriors returned to moving with a purpose and unselfishly passing on offense, getting double-digit scoring from five players, collecting 32 assists and shooting 54.9 percent from the floor. Most importantly, they returned to looking like the best team in the league — moving their record to 32-6 while snapping the four-game winning streak of the Rockets.

“We just wanted to get back to our identity,” Klay Thompson said. “It felt good to get back to what we do best.”

Thompson continued his hot streak, scoring 27 points and becoming the first Warriors guard with five blocked shots in a game since Baron Davis in 2007. Curry overcame six straight generally poor quarters to light it up in the second half and finished with 27 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds.

David Lee and Marreese Speights combined for 33 points and 13 rebounds off the bench. The Rockets were led by Howard, who had 23 points and 10 rebounds on a night when Thompson caused fits for James Harden, who managed just 12 points (4-for-15).

Wearing their slate-colored, sleeved jerseys — a Saturday tradition — the Warriors won their fourth straight against Houston — the first time they’ve done that since 2006-07 — and secured a season series road sweep of the Rockets for the first time since 1975-76.

***

No. 3: Red-hot Wiggins lights Timberwolves’ fire in Denver — He was feeling a bit under the weather, but that didn’t prevent rookie of the year favorite Andrew Wiggins from continuing on his recent surge. The No. 1 pick in the draft bounced back from a poor shooting night on Friday to lead his Timberwolves to their second win three games in Denver and Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star Tribune had the details:

This time, they needed veteran guard Mo Williams not for the career-high, franchise-record 52 points he scored in Tuesday’s streak-busting victory at Indiana but for two strategic shots late in a game influenced in many ways by youngsters Andrew Wiggins and Robbie Hummel.

Still ill, but feeling better than he did Friday in a loss at Phoenix, Wiggins scored a career-high 31 points and delivered nine rebounds, four assists, three blocked shots and a steal in a 40-minute that might have left Cleveland Cavaliers fans muttering.

“It’s almost astonishing his confidence level,” Wolves coach Flip Saunders said. “He just keeps continuing to get better and amaze and do everything, whether it’s offense, blocking shots, rebounds.”

Still just 19, Wiggins did that Saturday despite feeling what he called “just sick.”

“I still am a little, but I feel great,” he said. “We got the win, played hard, executed down the stretch. Nothing feels better than that. … We’ve had games on the line this year where we messed up and we didn’t finish it. Those were growing pains. Now we’re learning. I think we’re getting better every day now, every game. We’ve won two of the last three. That’s great for us.”

***

No. 4: Embiid’s conditioning, attitude have Sixers worried — Even though he has yet to step onto the court this season as he continues to rehabilitate from foot surgery, Sixers rookie Joel Embiid has made quite a reputation for himself as a fun-loving guy on social media. But the team that made him the No. 3 pick in the 2014 Is now concerned that Embiid is not taking his conditioning and his pro career seriously enough, according to Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer:

Embiid has a weight issue. Although the Sixers wouldn’t disclose his weight, a source said he’s close to 300 pounds after being 250 pounds at Kansas last season.

His work ethic is being questioned by some inside the organization.

And a blowup with assistant strength and conditioning coach James Davis is one of the reasons he was sent home during the team’s recent West Coast road trip.

So, who is Embiid?

“He’s a young, 20-year-old kid who is trying to figure his way into being a professional basketball player and learning life,” Sixers forward Luc Mbah a Moute said.

Mbah a Moute knows more about his fellow Cameroonian than anyone here in the United States. He spotted Embiid at a basketball camp in their homeland several years ago. The 28-year-old has mentored Embiid ever since.

“Obviously, you can see some of his immaturity [in] his tweets sometimes,” Mbah a Moute said. “But you can also understand how mature he is in certain situations the way he handled himself. . . . He’s a good kid, man.

“At the end of the day, it’s tough for him being in a situation where people can’t really see who he is as a person.”

***

No. 5: Bucks lose Marshall for season with torn ACL — The overachieving Bucks, who have already lost rookie Jabari Parker for the season, suffered another setback when it was determined that guard Kendall Marshall has a torn ACL and will be done until 2015-16. Todd Rosiak of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has the report:

For the second time in just over a month, the Milwaukee Bucks have lost a player to a torn anterior cruciate ligament.
Backup point guard Kendall Marshall is the latest, having suffered the season-ending injury to his right knee in the second quarter of the Bucks’ victory over the New York Knicks in London on Thursday. Rookie forward Jabari Parker tore the ACL in his left knee Dec. 15 in Phoenix.

The diagnosis was confirmed Saturday morning after Marshall underwent an MRI, and he said he expects to undergo surgery in two to three weeks after the swelling subsides.

“I didn’t know what it was but I knew it was something serious,” Marshall said Saturday as the Bucks returned to the practice court in preparation for Monday’s game against the Toronto Raptors at the BMO Harris Bradley Center. ” I could feel it buckle, pop and it was a pain that I’d never felt before.

“I hate to see injuries in sports, period. Our bodies are how we make our money; they’re our job, they’re our profession. At the end of the day, though, injuries are a part of our profession as well.

“That’s part of the risk so you have to be understanding of that and understanding of the process and be ready to get back.”

The 6-foot-4 North Carolina product had emerged as the Bucks’ backup point guard, and was averaging 4.2 points and 3.1 assists — second on the team to Brandon Knight’s 5.1 — over 28 games. Marshall also had posted career bests of 45.5% shooting from the floor and 88.9% from the free-throw line while also connecting on 39.1% of his three-pointers.

The timing of Marshall’s injury couldn’t have been worse considering the team waived No. 3 point guard Nate Wolters on Jan. 9 in order to be able to sign forward Kenyon Martin. That leaves Jerryd Bayless as the backup with O.J. Mayo and Giannis Antetokounmpo as other potential ball-handlers.

***

SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: With Austin Rivers on board, now the Clippers have their eyes on Tayshaun Prince…Now that he’s back in the lineup, it didn’t take long for Lance Stephenson to get right back to being Lance Stephenson... The Wizards big men show they can deliver too… Stephon Marbury says there was a time when he considered suicideKevin Durant made a dream come true for a young heart transplant patient.

ICYMI of The Night: Stephen Curry’s sick no-look pass demonstrates why he’s one of the best point guards in the game …:


VIDEO: Curry’s assist of the night

15 Comments

  1. Michael says:

    “But I’ve changed.”

    Now that Kobe has moved past MJ for third all-time on the scoring list he’s “changed”. He’s missed more field goals than anyone, ever. Maybe he doesn’t want to add to that legacy. Time to retire.

  2. "real"NBA not a kid says:

    If Kobe does retire for me i wont have much reason to continue to watch any NBA games. But hey what are we fans? Nothing right? Without the fans the NBA is nothing that is why the all star game and dunk contest should be fan voting only.

  3. Milen says:

    As much as I love Kobe and the Lakers, it is time for both parties to move on….Kobe will never be the same, and it is better to see no Kobe at all than this…. shell of an amazing superstar capable of just taking over and winning games practically single-handedly. Those days are gone. And his ridiculously huge salary is hurting the Lakers’ cap…. and they cannot sign another superstar to build around… and they cannot build around him anymore. So it’s a lose-lose-lose situation as it is getting too painful for us the fans as well. So the end of an are is close… and he better retire this year and give them the flexibility to re-build around Randle, the new talent they get from the draft with their obviously very high pick, and one or two studs through free agency. Keep Tarik Black, Boozer, Davis, Wes Johnson and Young for the bench, And in 2016 they might be close to contention again. This is the only way out… otherwise it is all downhill

  4. Franck says:

    Kobe is a drama queen and loves to create a soap opera storylines about his career.
    When he retires he will announce it at the start of the season and the NBA will have this whole “farewell tour” in every city he plays in and its going to be a media hype etc. The all star game will be centered around Kobe etc.
    He will not go quietly its not in his character.
    (btw no hating on Kobe just stating facts, maybe drama queen was a bit harsh but I couldnt fiind a better term to describe him)
    Kobe = legend one of the best, HOF career! NBA will miss him. even his haters will miss hating on him.
    Lets just see how far his ego goes in deciding to retire, I think hes after personal records now, he doesnt care about much else and he has every right to do it, a multi millionaire, 5 championships, played for one team his whole life, a great career. One of the best all time.

  5. Anonymous says:

    You have to understand Kobe, he played hard for 19 years now he is reaching his limit. You can only fight through so much especially on a weaker team in the tough west like his

  6. Mendozer says:

    Kobe’s just saving what he’s got left for one last shot next year. And the management better not disappoint!!!!

  7. John Doe says:

    # Top 5 Dead or Alive

  8. beachesq says:

    Kobe should have retired three years ago. He has held the Lakers back by forcing them to trade players just to make him happy and fit in with his play style.
    By hanging around he helps to make the AllStar game a joke and not worth watching. Why should guys like him and Carmelo be on the starting first team just because they have/had lots of fans. It is totally not fair to players who have had great years and are not named.to the first team. It also hurts the players below them who would have been on the second/third team picks but get pushed further back down.
    On top of all that Kobe has hurt the lakers with revenue. As they strain to keep Kobe on the court to draw fans, he keeps the Lakers as losers and hence more and more fans stay away.

  9. Indiana'sownLarryBird says:

    It’s going done today, Colts at Patriots……

  10. Ramon says:

    I think kobe should be traded to a contending team, if it is possible, or else he should contemplate retiring. In the west is going to be hard for the lakers to become contenders right away, i think they need alot of luck to be able to achieve that.

  11. harriethehawk says:

    If Embiid never steps foot on an NBA court as an NBA player, nobody will care except maybe the 76ers and even they seem to be thinking otherwise. Everyone has forgotten about him, and to be quite frank, the 76ers, who are a non-issue. Next.

  12. Kobefan says:

    Kobe will win his 6th ring 2016

  13. "Smart" NBA fan says:

    Well Kobe you gave us 19 years of the best basketball i have personally seen. Alot of people jump bandwagons to popular athletes like Jordan,Lebron ect. But you stayed with the Lakers your whole career and its been one hell of a ride. Id like to you see you play 2 more years and go for Kareems all time scoring points record but your body you have to live with for the rest of your life. Why dont you stay with basketball and go into coaching or training other players? I am sure they have a spot for you somewhere. I look foward to seeing you play every time the Lakers step on the hardwood. Sometimes quit is your only option.

  14. OGgreen says:

    Stay Kobe and play like a champ man