VIDEO: Highlights from games played Dec. 2
NEWS OF THE MORNING
No. 1: Jennings more than open to bench role — The Detroit Pistons won last night against the Phoenix Suns, moving them to No. 10 in the Eastern Conference (and a half-game back of the No. 8 spot) as of this morning. They have picked up some big wins this season — against Cleveland at home, on the road vs. Miami, a 2-0 series edge on Atlanta — but are an inconsistent bunch. Point guard Brandon Jennings is on pace to return to the team in three to four weeks and while Reggie Jackson has entrenched himself as the starter, Jennings isn’t about to rock the boat for his own benefit. Terry Foster of The Detroit News has more:
Brandon Jennings spends too much time on the Internet. He heard from Pistons fans that he might not be a good fit coming off the bench for the Pistons.
He will be rusty. His ego is too big. He is accustomed to being a starter.
That makes Jennings bristle. He sees a young team with potential. He sees a starting unit that is bonding and making things work. The last thing he wants is to disrupt things when he returns to the lineup in three weeks.
“I am not going to mess up the chemistry,” Jennings said. “The starters have chemistry and they have been playing well. If I can come off the bench and help out, then why not?”
“Always in my head (I am a starter),” Jennings said. “But sometimes you’ve got to take the back seat and do what is best for the team.”
And if he never starts?
“I want sixth man of the year,” Jennings said.
Jennings coming off the bench is best for the Pistons. This bench has been inconsistent at best and at least twice cost the Pistons wins.
Forward Stanley Johnson is emerging as its best player. He is coming off a nice 19-point, 10-rebound outing against Houston. If the Pistons can pair Jennings with Johnson, they can become the two J’s crew and get the Pistons through rough spots, particularly in the late third and early fourth quarters.
The Pistons need Jennings but do not want to rush him. He works daily to strengthen his left calf and work on conditioning for a Christmas return. Jennings shoots every day and has gone through every workout except five-on-five scrimmages. He believes his offense will come, but Jennings mostly works on his movement to be a more competent defensive player.
“I am tired of shooting by myself,” Jennings said. “I am tired of not playing one on one with anybody.”
And he is tired of being patient.
“I am feeling pretty well,” Jennings said. “I am more confident. I still have to be patient. That is the main thing. I have been learning patience the whole 10 months.”
VIDEO: Reggie Jackson powers the Pistons past the Suns
No. 2: NBA big men expanding their range more and more — The growth of the pace-and-space movement in the NBA is affecting teams far and wide. That has caused an offensive evolution for just about every team in the league and, whether they like it or not, for some of the traditional back-to-the-basket big men, too. Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today takes a look at how low-post craftsmen like Luis Scola and Kris Humphries have had to change up their games in recent seasons:
Considering adding the three-point shot to his repertoire for the past four seasons, the 6-9 Scola has implemented it to a reasonable degree of success this season. Scola is 14-of-28, making enough to force defenses to pay attention to him at the three-point line.
This, from a player who never took more than 20 three-pointers in a season before 2015-16, never shot better than 25% from that distance and took less than 10 six other times in his nine-year career.
“Houston loves analytics and is big on that. I tried to learn from them a lot,” the former Rocket said. “They planted that seed and said, ‘You’ve got to do this if you want to move forward with the NBA.’ ”
The development of Scola as a capable and effective three-point shooter is a perfect example of a big man with not much previous success from that range expanding his skills. With NBA teams placing high value on three-pointers, it is also a lesson in understanding trends and adapting.
• Washington Wizards Kris Humphries had 27 career three-point attempts and made just two (both in his 2004-05 rookie season) coming into this season. The 30-year-old Humphries is 15-for-41 this season.
• Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins is averaging 4.2 attempts, up from 0.1 per game last season, and shooting 38.1%.
• Through 2013-14, Atlanta Hawks center-forward Al Horford had never taken more than 11 threes in season. He took 36 last season and has attempted 62 this season.
• New Orleans Pelicans forward-center Anthony Davis and Portland Trail Blazers forward-center Meyers Leonard are each taking 1.6 more threes per game this season than they did last season. Both need to improve their percentage but that should come with experience.
• This season, 16 players 6-10 and taller are shooting at least 2.5 threes per game, up from just seven in 2006-07, according to basketball-reference.com, and 7-3 New York Knicks rookie Kristaps Porzingis is on pace to shoot just as many threes this season as Larry Bird did in any season of his career.
It took time for Scola to feel comfortable and confident taking threes during games even though he made them in practice.
“Games are different. It’s a different rhythm, a different pace,” he said. “My confidence wasn’t there. But this year, I said ‘I’m going to work really hard at it like I’ve been doing and we’ll see what happens.’ This year, it happened naturally. The year I didn’t try to force it.”
Cousins sided with Scola on confidence. Once the confidence was there, he felt better shooting threes.
“I felt like it would help the team, spreading the floor a little bit more, so I tried to add it to my game this season,” Cousins told NBA.com
No. 3: Report: Prokhorov nearing full control of Nets, Barclays Center — Just 11 months ago, Brooklyn Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov said he was open to offers for someone to buy a minority share of his 80 percent of the team. Much has changed since then apparently and now, Bloomberg News’ Scott Soshnick and Eben Novy-Williams report Prokhorov is closing on a deal that would give not only full control of the team, but also it’s arena:
Mikhail Prokhorov and real estate developer Bruce Ratner’s Forest City Enterprises Inc. have reached an agreement that will give the Russian billionaire sole ownership of the Brooklyn Nets and Barclays Center, according to two people with direct knowledge of the talks.
The National Basketball Association is reviewing the deal, the terms of which weren’t disclosed. Earlier this year, valuations expert Peter Schwartz said the Nets and Barclays Center are worth about $2 billion. Since then, Atlanta’s NBA franchise, the Hawks, was sold for $730 million.
Gaining control of the arena — and full ownership of the team — would make it easier for Prokhorov to sell all or part of either asset, including minority partnerships in the team, arena or both.
In January, Bloomberg News reported that Prokhorov and Ratner, acting separately, had retained Evercore Partners to sell their stakes in the team. But the NBA prefers the same owner to control the team and the arena, and neither owner could find a buyer willing to pay the reported $250 million asking price for a minority stake in a losing team.
Nets spokesman Barry Baum, by e-mail, declined to comment. Forest City spokesman Jeff Linton didn’t immediately return a voice message.
SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul will miss at least two more games with his rib injury … When he was with the Dallas Mavericks last season, Rajon Rondo once parked in coach Rick Carlisle‘s spot … Indiana Pacers coach Frank Vogel refuted the notion that his former player, Lance Stephenson, is a bad teammate … Cool look at 20 reasons why the Golden State Warriors are 20-0 … Will Dirk Nowitzki become the oldest player ever with a 50-40-90 shooting season? … Miami Heat rookie Justise Winslow is ‘locked in’ for his upcoming defensive assignments of Kevin Durant and LeBron James … For the record, Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens says he had a ‘good relationship’ with Rajon Rondo …
ICYMI of the Night: Kent Bazemore and Kyle Lowry show us how you can get blocked and score all in one play …
VIDEO: Kent Bazemore blocks Kyle Lowry, ends up scoring for him