VIDEO: Barnes leads the way for Grizzlies in win
By Ben Leibowitz, Special to NBA.com
As 2016 NCAA March Madness kicks off, the NBA keeps plugging along. Now with less than a month to go until postseason play for the pros, teams will continue fighting for playoff seeding or remain trapped in the league’s cellar.
Aside from teams like the Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Lakers, who have already been eliminated from the playoffs, it’s gut-check time for players and coaches alike. Slogging through ugly shooting slumps at this time of year are far from ideal.
PointAfter found the week’s coldest shooters who have done their teams few favors offensively during the stretch run.
Note: Statistics in this article cover games from March 11-17.
Guard: Jamal Crawford, Los Angeles Clippers
As the Clippers geared up for big tests this past week against the Cleveland Cavaliers and San Antonio Spurs, they needed all hands on deck to improve their shoddy record against the league’s top teams. Instead, the Clips went 0-2 versus those elite opponents, while Jamal Crawford bricked his way to 4-for-20 shooting in those two affairs.
Crawford didn’t fair well in LA’s other two games, either — wins over the New York Knicks and Houston Rockets, respectively. Over the course of the week’s four games, “J-Crossover” shot a combined 28.6 percent. He’s been brilliant at the free-throw line (where he leads all qualified players at 91.5 percent), but his marks from the field and beyond the arc are some of his worst ever.
As it stands, the Clippers don’t appear to have an ice cube’s chance in Death Valley at beating either the Spurs or Golden State Warriors out West. It will take much more than a Crawford revival to get them on the same level as those juggernauts.
Wing: Matt Barnes, Memphis Grizzlies
The injury-ravaged Grizzlies need all the offensive help they can get with the core of Mike Conley, Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol all sidelined. Matt Barnes started the week with aplomb on March 11, compiling his first career triple-double with 26 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists in a win over the New Orleans Pelicans.
From there, however, the 36-year-old veteran was far less effective as a scorer.
The UCLA product shot a ghastly 6-for-21 from the floor (including 1-for-7 from long range) in Wednesday’s loss against the Minnesota Timberwolves. For the week overall (five games), Barnes converted just 33.7 percent of his field goals.
Of course, it’s tough to fault Barnes for two reasons. First, the aforementioned injury woes Memphis has faced of late, and second, the brutal scheduling the Grizzlies were put through this past week.
Barnes and his teammates had to play two back-to-backs over the past seven days, which is a pretty darn good excuse for his poor shooting.
Forward/Center: DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento Kings
Sacramento’s enigmatic center was suspended one game for “conduct detrimental to the team” after yelling at head coach George Karl in the huddle during the Kings’ home loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on March 9. Cousins started his week sidelined, and he didn’t perform very well upon his return.
“Boogie” found his way to the charity stripe quite often, but his shooting performances — 10-for-23, 4-for-10 and 8-for-21, respectively — left a lot to be desired. Cousins didn’t shoot better than 43.5 percent in any of his three games this week, and the Kings were only able to beat the lowly Los Angeles Lakers.
As has been the case all throughout the Cousins era in Sacramento, the front office has some big decisions to make this coming offseason. Perhaps it’s time for a bigger shakeup.
Ben Leibowitz (https://twitter.com/BenLebo) is a writer for PointAfter (http://www.pointafter.com), a sports data aggregation and visualization website that’s part of the Graphiq network (http://www.graphiq.com). Visit PointAfter to get all the information about NBA Players (http://basketball-players.pointafter.com), NBA Historical Teams (http://nba-historical-teams.pointafter.com) and dozens of other topics.