Morning shootaround — Dec. 7


VIDEO: Highlights from games played Dec. 6

NEWS OF THE MORNING

Report: No structural damage to Wall’s kneeWarriors just keep on winning | Young says ejection a result of frustrating season | Cousins blames himself for Kings’ slideSpurs’ West just wants to win

No. 1: Report: No structural damage to Wall’s knee; status for game vs. Heat — Washington Wizards fans can breathe a sigh of relief a little bit this morning. Star point guard John Wall left last night’s loss to the visiting Dallas after hurting his right knee in a collison with the Mavs’ Jeremy Evans. The Washington Post‘s Jorge Castillo reports Wall did not suffer any structural damage to the knee but his status for tonight’s game against in Miami against the Heat (7:30 ET, NBA League Pass) is unknown:

Washington Wizards point guard John Wall exited Sunday’s 116-104 loss to the Dallas Mavericks because of a right knee injury, although he does not have any structural damage, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. His status for Washington’s meeting Monday night with the first-place Miami Heat remains uncertain.

Wall collided knees with Mavericks forward Jeremy Evans late in the fourth quarter. He gingerly exited the contest with help from teammates and without putting any weight on his right leg with 1 minutes 14 seconds left.

“I tried to take a step to go contest, and I didn’t have the strength and I just stopped,” said Wall, who said that the right knee was already bruised before the injury.

Wall said the knee was sore, but an X-ray did not reveal any structural damage and he was walking on his own after the game with a slight limp. He is traveling with the team to Miami and will be reevaluated Monday.

“You try and think positive,” Wizards guard Bradley Beal said. “You hate to see a guy go down for one. And two, it being John. But you know I’m positive at all times and we want him to be smart. So if he can’t go, another guy has to step up.”

The Wizards were already dealing with a depleted roster; they played Sunday with just 10 available players for the third time in eight games and will be shorthanded again Monday.

Starting center Marcin Gortat has missed the last two games because of a family matter and isn’t expected to rejoin the team Monday, while backup Nene (calf) won’t be on the trip to Miami and Alan Anderson (ankle) won’t be available. Big men Kris Humphries (ankle) and Drew Gooden III (calf) are questionable.


VIDEO: John Wall leaves the game with a right knee injury

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No. 2: Warriors keep winning The Golden State Warriors rolled into Brooklyn yesterday with their 21-0 start tot he season on the line. A second half of a back to back, on the road, against a team they had to go to overtime to beat a month ago? No problem, as the Warriors won going away, 114-98. And as our own Lang Whitaker writes, right now the Warriors just might be the greatest show on Earth:

“It’s one of our greatest strengths,” Warriors acting head coach Luke Walton said after the game. “We’re never out of a game, and we’re always one little run away from putting a game away. We know that, and that’s why we constantly encourage our guys to be on the attack.”

Not only are the Warriors winning unabated right now, they’re doing it in incredibly entertaining ways. Improbable shots that regularly drop. Behind-the-back saves of balls going out of bounds. Tapping unreachable rebounds to teammates. Flinging the ball around the perimeter until it finds an open player. They constantly seem to have a man slipping behind the defense, never stop pushing the tempo. And always, they celebrate in unison on the bench.

“It’s like a dream,” says Mo Speights. “Coming off the championship, there’s no hangover for us, so we’re just coming out every night, getting everybody’s best and still coming out on top. Every guy on the team loves that feeling of a ring and wants another one, so every guy works every day. When we have off days, everybody is in the gym. We’ve got a good bond like that.”

For all the complaints about how modern NBA athletes fill up the court, the Warriors somehow manage to make the floor feel spacious, creating acres of room to operate. And for fans in an NBA arena, there is perhaps no experience more visceral than when Steph Curry has the ball. Curry only needs a sliver of light to get a shot off, and when he finds that space, a roar of conflicting sounds rises from the crowd: anticipation, fear, excitement; anger. Curry somehow engages his supporters and detractors equally, generating simultaneous head nods and shakes with diametrically opposed meanings, all from the same play.

“If I shoot it in the moment,” Curry says, “I think it’s a good shot and I have confidence in it and I expect to make it. So that’s the approach I have every time I shoot. And I will live with the results whether I miss and coach shakes his head, or I make it and everybody claps for me.”

Right now the Warriors are the most fun team to watch in the NBA, if not in all of professional sports. The shooting, the scoring, the ball movement, the defense, the versatility — it is all singular to this team, and as long as it’s not your team they’re doing that thing they do to, it’s almost guaranteed to leave a smile on your face.

“When we’re doing it right, it’s fun,” says Warriors forward Andre Iguodala. “For me, perfection is fun. I’m a perfectionist, so it’s a gift and a curse for me — I don’t enjoy it like I should. But the end result is fun.”

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No. 3: Young: Ejection last night stems from frustrating season Lakers guard Nick “Swaggy P” Young is one of the more fun-loving guys around, so it was surprising during last night’s game against the Detroit Pistons when Young reacted violently to a hard foul from Anthony Tolliver. Young earned an ejection from the game, and as Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News writes, Young said later that his reaction was at least in part due to frustration from what has been a rough season thus far:

The frustration already brewed privately for Nick Young as he sat through a pair of healthy scratches. The Lakers’ poor season did not help, either.

So as Detroit forward Anthony Tolliver delivered a clean foul on Young’s fourth-quarter dunk attempt, something uglier happened than the Lakers’ 111-91 loss to the Pistons on Sunday at the Palace of Auburn Hills. Young pushed back and delivered a forearm at Tolliver’s throat, a sequence that earned both a flagrant foul 2 and an ejection with 8:58 remaining.

Young took offense that Tolliver “killed me a little bit” despite the lopsided deficit. But Young quickly added, “that’s my fault for reacting.”

“There’s a lot of frustrations,” Young said. “It was building up. Everything happened on that play. He just happened to be the one that sparked the incident.”

Young believed the NBA will not suspend him for today’s game in Toronto. He contended he did not punch Tolliver or deliver his forearm to his face. Still, Lakers coach Byron Scott argued Young “probably overreacted.”

“Tolliver didn’t go after him,” Scott said. “(Tolliver) went up and tried to contest the shot and wasn’t going to give (Young) a layup. I was surprised in the way Nick reacted to it.”

Young admitted feeling “shocked” he even played for seven minutes. Scott planned to sit him again. But Metta World Peace collected three early fouls, and Scott cleared the bench in the fourth quarter.

Beforehand, Scott chastised an out-of-town reporter for asking about Young’s recent absence.

“You bought into what all these other guys are saying that he’s in the doghouse,” Scott said, shaking his head.

Young had recently described the Lakers as “a circus” and faulted both the coaching staff and players for the team’s inefficient offense. Yet, Scott insisted Young’s demotion stems from wanting to feature World Peace’s height advantage at small forward.

“I’m trying some other things,” Scott said. “I told him to be patient. As a matter of fact, he’s been great.”


VIDEO: Nick Young gets ejected after scuffling with Anthony Tolliver

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No. 4: Cousins blames himself for Kings’ struggles — The Sacramento Kings are in the midst of a three-game losing streak, a surprising downturn given the team was 3-3 in its six games before this slump. Star center DeMarcus Cousins isn’t looking far for the reason behind the woes, writes Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee, as he’s blaming himself for the troubles:

“I’ve been playing like (crud), man,” Cousins said. “I say that’s our problem, it’s me. I’ve been playing like absolute (crud).”

Cousins misfired on 15 of his 20 shots Sunday night in a 98-95 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder at Chesapeake Energy Arena.

He also missed six of his nine free throws, including two with 43.9 seconds to play that would have given the Kings a three-point lead.

After Cousins missed the two free throws, Kevin Durant came back with a 19-foot pull-up jumper to give the Thunder a 96-95 lead with 23 seconds to play to stop a Kings rally from 17 points down from being successful.

The Kings’ attempt to retake the lead was fumbled away when Rudy Gay had the ball stolen by Steven Adams with 6.9 seconds to play after Kings coach George Karl called an isolation play for Gay to create for himself or a teammate.

“Those kinds of situations, players have got to step up and I didn’t,” Gay said. “… You’ve got to step up.”

Cousins said the game wasn’t lost by Gay. Rather it was by him and his wayward shooting.

“I can’t be mad about that,” Cousins said. “I think it started with those free throws. I can’t lie. I can’t be mad about that possession. We should have never been in that situation.”

“I’ve never been in a stretch like this, but stay positive, stay together, stay in the gym and let’s try to figure out whatever it is that’s going wrong,” Cousins said. “I know it’s a mental thing right now. It’s hard to get in that rhythm when you’re not seeing that ball go through the basket at a rate you’re used to. But you’ve got to stay positive, that’s all I can do.”

Cousins has played four games since sitting out three with a lower back strain. He had 31 points last Monday in a win against Dallas, but the last three games, all away from Sacramento, have been a struggle.

Cousins said his back is not the problem.

“I don’t want to make no excuses, but I’ve been playing like (crud),” Cousins said. “No other excuse.”

Karl said after the game there’s no health reason for Cousins to be struggling. He also credited some of the recent competition for making it tough on Cousins.

“There’s nothing that I am aware of other than in 82 games it’s difficult to be a great player every night,” Karl said. “It just doesn’t happen all the time. Matchups sometimes are poor. This team has three really good big guys and Dwight Howard is a pretty good big guy.”

Karl also said Cousins’ struggles are compounded because he is the focus of the opposing team’s defensive plan every night.

“When you’re the first priority of a scouting report, it’s sometimes tough to be great,” Karl said.


VIDEO: Sacramento can’t overcome Oklahoma City on the road

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No. 5: West just wants to win The San Antonio Spurs had one of the biggest wins in free agency over the summer, when they not only convinced LaMarcus Aldridge join their franchise, but also somehow got David West to take a significant pay cut and join their system. As Steve Bulpett writes in the Boston Herald, West says the decision really wasn’t all that hard…

Even for someone who’s long been in the nation’s 1 percent club, the figures are rather staggering. West said “no, thank you” to $12 million from the Pacers to sign in San Antonio for $1,499,187 and take on a lesser role.

That’s $10,500,813 he left on the table — which, come to think of it, is enough to crush said piece of furniture with its weight.

Yet, West seems of sound mind.

“It wasn’t really a difficult decision to make,” he said last week in San Antonio. “It was just trying to get myself in a position to be a part of a good group, a good organization and having an opportunity to win — at least having a chance to win. And with that being a legitimate goal, this group’s goal is that every year. I just wanted to be a part of something like that.”

Although West certainly caught some sideways glances on social media, he insists all was cool in his inner circle.

“Nothing from my friends,” he said. “People who know me personally understand the dynamics of the decision, and it really wasn’t that difficult of a decision to make just for where I am in my life.

“The only question I needed to answer was, ‘Will my lifestyle change? Will my family’s lifestyle change?’ That was a no. I’ve been preparing to make a decision like this for quite some time, just planning the right way and being a little patient early on and just always having the idea of living well below my means. That’s always allowed me the room to make a decision like I made.

“A lot of people can’t understand that because they just don’t know me. A lot of that criticism is from far off. To me, it was just a basketball decision.”

***

SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Harrison Barnes will miss the remainder of the Warriors’ road trip as he recovers from an ankle injury … Russell Westbrook posted his third triple-double of the season in a win over the Kings … Metta World Peace says he’d like to one day go into coachingDavid Lee may miss a few games for the Celtics with a bruise in his heel … A George Mikan rookie card sold at auction for over $400,000

ICYMI of the Night: Our friends over at The Starters will love this one — it’s a wedgie dunk!


VIDEO: Andre Roberson goes up for the jam … and gets a wedgie instead

6 Comments

  1. taekayo says:

    West had this figured out. What others don’t see is that in the next couple of years, TD and Manu would be retiring (along their salaries with them). With only LaMarcus, TP and Kawhi having big contracts (I don’t think they’d give Green that much money), SAS can compensate for this one year “freebie” from West. Plus, he’d also have the playing time once TD left his post. SAS could lure in a big name, but I think they have a stable developing roster in LAL and Kawhi as core. This is an organization known for getting the best out of its role players and low picks, so I guess they won’t be splurging that much on free agency. West can have his money and playing time probably by next year.

  2. nick says:

    At least Cousins is manning up. That’s what leaders do. Lebron can take a page out of that book. He doesn’t man up at all. Instead he calls out his team in the media even after he committed 9 turnovers and shot 30% from the field!

  3. For the first time, Swaggy P didn’t display he was silly. Well..

  4. Eric Zap says:

    Indeed. Cousins needs to cry less and work harder. Stop shooting 3s and man up and be a center. Stop whining about the coach and play harder. Play some D too.

  5. default says:

    I don’t blame Nick Young…the Lakers ARE a circus, and will be for the rest of the season, because it’s clear all Kobe cares about is putting on a good individual show for every final road game. I feel bad for his teammates. The only consolation is they’ll end up with a great shot at the #1 overall pick and Ben Simmons. What a great transition that would be after ending the Kobe era.

  6. watcher says:

    Jeremy Evans moving screen on Wall caused that injury