VIDEO: Highlights from games played Nov. 17
NEWS OF THE MORNING
No. 1: LeBron: Cavs aren’t as hungry as Warriors — Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James has tried a few manners of button-pushing to motivate his squad in 2015-16. He’s apparently added another one to his list. After last night’s loss to the Detroit Pistons, a game that the Cavs led by five points with 3 minutes, 49 seconds left, James wasn’t happy the performance. He looked across the conference divide at the Golden State Warriors (who would win last night to move to 12-0) and draw some comparisons between his defending East champs and the defending-champion Warriors. Joe Vardon of the Northeast Ohio Media Group has more:
“We haven’t done anything,” James said, following the Cavaliers’ 104-99 loss to the Detroit Pistons, Cleveland’s second-consecutive loss and third this season. “We didn’t win anything. We lost. We lost in the Finals. So, that’s enough motivation for myself. I think we need to understand that.
“Like, we lost in the Finals. We didn’t win. And the team that beat us looks more hungry than we are. So it shouldn’t be that way.”
Coach David Blatt piled on Tuesday night, saying that the Cavs “need to toughen up.” The Cavs blew a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter with poor defense, shooting, and turnovers down the stretch.
“I didn’t think we displayed the kind of toughness that made us a team last year,” Blatt said. “I didn’t see that the last two games and we need to toughen up. Every aspect.”
James agreed, adding: “We’re too relaxed and too nice.”
“It’s not always about being Iron Man,” James said. “It’s a mental toughness as well. Going out and doing your job, doing it at a high level and preparing that way before the tip even happens. So, we got some guys who’ll do it and some guys that don’t do it consistently enough.”
On Saturday, James questioned the Cavs’ effort level, calling it “half ass” at times.
Without naming names, James is accusing some teammates of a sense of entitlement, held over from reaching the Finals last season and returning the entire nucleus from that team.
“We shouldn’t feel entitled,” he said. “That’s what I continue to say. We’re not entitled to a win. We’re not entitled to being the Eastern Conference Champions. That’s last year. It’s a totally different year and until we figure that out, we’re going to continue to put ourselves in positions to lose basketball games.”
VIDEO: LeBron James wasn’t happy after the Cavs’ loss to Detroit
No. 2: Davis makes trip to OKC, but status for tonight unknown — As our Shaun Powell wrote in his piece yesterday about New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry, injuries just keep on sidetracking the Pelicans this season. That was true once again last night as superstar forward Anthony Davis was forced to leave New Orleans’ home loss to the Denver Nuggets in the first quarter with a shoulder injury. John Reid of The Times-Picayune reports that Davis accompanied the team to Oklahoma City for their game tonight against the Thunder (8 ET, ESPN), but his status for the game is uncertain at best:
New Orleans Pelicans star Anthony Davis made the trip to Oklahoma City with the team for Wednesday night’s game against the Thunder.
But Davis’ status remains uncertain after injuring his left shoulder in the first quarter and not returning to play in Tuesday night’s game against the Denver Nuggets. Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said after the game that he did not know Davis’ status. It appeared Davis injured his shoulder after a hard screen was set.
But apparently Davis was already dealing with shoulder problem that occurred when he was bumped during Sunday’s game against the New York Knicks.
Last Tuesday, Davis suffered a bruised right hip injury against the Dallas Mavericks that forced him to miss two games before returning on Sunday against the New York Knicks.
Because of injuries, the Pelicans may have only nine players available for Wednesday night. Starting point guard Jrue Holiday will not play against the Thunder because he has not been cleared to be in back-to-back games. Holiday played 22 minutes and scored 10 points in Tuesday night’s 115-98 loss to the Denver Nuggets.
Starting center Omer Asik missed Tuesday’s game with a stomach illness and his status against the Thunder is uncertain. Forward Quincy Pondexter (left knee surgery), point guard Norris Cole (left ankle sprain) and Tyreke Evans (right knee surgery) are sidelined indefinitely. Center Kendrick Perkins is expected to miss two to three months with a pectoral injury.
VIDEO: Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry discusses Anthony Davis’ injury
No. 3: Kidd frank on why Bucks dealt Knight — Former Milwaukee Bucks point guard Brandon Knight was in the midst of a pretty solid season in 2014-15 when he found himself shipped to the Phoenix Suns in a deal that surprised many observers. In return from that trade, the Bucks eventually landed former Philadelphia 76ers guard Michael Carter-Williams to pair with incumbent shooting guard Khris Middleton. So, why did the Bucks move Knight when he was looking pretty solid to begin with? Coach Jason Kidd didn’t hold back on that question, writes Charles F. Gardner of the Journal-Sentinel:
Knight was having a strong season for the Bucks but was sent out at the deadline to Phoenix as part of a three-team trade. The Bucks got point guard Michael Carter-Williams, the 2014 rookie of the year, from Philadelphia in the deal.
“I wouldn’t say we gave up a lot,” Kidd said.”He (Knight) was having a great season, and he’s having a great season this year. But it wasn’t we gave up Brandon. We had a decision to make between our backcourt.
“It wasn’t Klay Thompson or Stephen Curry. We weren’t going to max out our backcourt. As an organization, we had a decision to make, and we made it.”
Kidd referred to deciding whether to give a big contract to Knight or Khris Middleton, the two players that came over from Detroit in the July 2013 trade for Brandon Jennings. Middleton emerged last season as a legitimate threat at shooting guard and a clutch late-game scorer.
In the off-season Middleton signed a five-year, $70 million contract with Milwaukee as a restricted free agent. The Bucks also needed a big man and were able to land free-agent center Greg Monroe with a three-year, $50 million deal.
The Bucks had to make a decision between Middleton and Knight, and it was Middleton they chose.
Knight has thrived in Phoenix this season after being injured at the end of last season. On Monday night he produced the first triple-double of his career with 30 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists in the Suns’ 120-101 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers.
SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Houston Rockets rookie Sam Dekker will reportedly have back surgery soon … Speaking of the Rockets, they held a players-only meeting yesterday (and that likely wasn’t a good thing) … Great first-person account from former NBA center Nazr Mohammed on what it was like to guard Shaquille O’Neal in his heyday … Have you heard about the Champions League, a new basketball league that will feature ex-NBA players like Rasheed Wallace, Josh Howard and others? … President Barack Obama fantasizes about owning an NBA team sometimes … Back in the 2013 Draft, the Minnesota Timberwolves almost picked Giannis Antetokoumpo before settling on a deal to acquire Shabazz Muhammad … Bradley Beal remains out for the Washington Wizards …
ICYMI of the Night: Watch your head when Will Barton is around the rim, Pelicans …
VIDEO: Will Barton dunks with authority in New Orleans