Posts Tagged ‘Alonzo Gee’

Damian Lillard: The New King Of Clutch

VIDEO: Damian Lillard was a man on a mission in Portland’s win over Cleveland

HANG TIME SOUTHWEST — Damian Lillard is an assassin.

Get this: When Steph Curry buried a buzzer-beater to lift Golden State over Dallas last week, it was the first time the surest shooter in the league had collected a game-winner since … high school? At least that was the last one the fifth-year Golden State Warriors point guard who spent the previous three seasons shooting the lights out at Davidson, could recall.

That puts into perspective what Lillard, the Portland Trail Blazers’ dazzling second-year point guard, has done in the last two games: Consecutive buzzer-beating game-winners.

At Detroit on Sunday with the game tied in overtime at 109, Lillard, with about 12 seconds on the clock, went one-on-one with Pistons guard Rodney Stuckey. Lillard dribbled up top, came around a LaMarcus Aldridge screen but it didn’t free him up. He kept dribbling, spun at the free-throw line to get inside the paint and drained a fallaway with 0.1 seconds left. He finished with 23 points, eight in overtime.

At Cleveland on Tuesday, the Cavs made a furious comeback from 10 down in the final 2:15 to tie the game at 116-116 with 7.1 seconds left in regulation. This time Lillard lulled Cavs defender Alonzo Gee several feet beyond the top of the 3-point arc. With Gee allowing space presumably to protect against the dribble-drive, Lillard rose up and splashed the 3-pointer as the horn blew. The official play-by-play called it from 30 feet. He finished with 36 points — 12 in the fourth quarter — 10 assists and eight rebounds.

“You’re watching a superstar being born right in front our eyes,” were the in-the-moment words spoken by Cavs color commentator Austin Carr, who has the nightly privilege of watching another cool clutch performer in Kyrie Irving.

And just like his stoic reaction at Detroit, Lillard acted as though he expected no other outcome. And why not? He’s now pocketed four game-winners on the season and has established himself as the game’s top clutch-time performer:

In clutch situations (defined as the final five minutes of regulation or overtime and the team ahead or behind by five or fewer points), no one’s been better than the 6-foot-3 reigning Rookie of the Year out of Weber State.

In 49 clutch minutes, he’s scored 55 points in 49 minutes on 15-for-30 shooting from the floor (8-for-16 on 3s), 17-for-19 from the free-throw line, plus seven assists and seven rebounds. No matter how you slice up the situations — three minutes to go in a three-point game, two minutes left in a two-point game, in the final minute and behind by two or tied — Lillard’s point production stands at the top of the list of clutch performers.

His career overtime stats are mind-boggling (courtesy 45 minutes, 43 points, 15-for-19 from the floor (10-for-10 inside the arc), 8-for-8 on free throws and a plus-31 rating. Portland is 7-1 in those games.

Some of it is simply due to the number of close games a team plays (Portland is 4-1 in games decided by three points or less and 2-0 in overtime), but coming through in such situations rarely occurs at the success rate Lillard has demonstrated over and over.

In the standard definition of a clutch situation (ahead or behind by five points with five minutes to go), Lillard’s plus-minus rating ranks No. 1 at plus-52. It’s little surprise that his teammates — Nicolas Batum, plus-51; Wesley Matthews, plus-50; and Aldridge plus-49 — rank second through fourth. Robin Lopez is seventh at plus-32.

However, in terms of clutch-time points, Aldridge is Portland’s next-highest scorer with 28 points — 27 fewer than the stone-cold Lillard.

One Team, One Stat: Three Seasons Worth Of Bad ‘D’ In Cleveland

From Media Day until opening night,’s John Schuhmann will provide a key stat for each team in the league and show you, with film and analysis, why it matters. Up next is the Cleveland Cavaliers, a team poised to make a big jump this season.

The basics
CLE Rank
W-L 24-58 28
Pace 95.0 12
OffRtg 100.8 23
DefRtg 106.9 27
NetRtg -6.1 27

The stat

3 – The Cavs are the only team to rank in the bottom five in defensive efficiency each of the last three seasons.

The context

There are a few reasons Mike Brown is back in Cleveland, but a primary one is how poorly the Cavs played defensively under Byron Scott. Scott wasn’t blessed with the most talented or most veteran-y rosters in his three seasons — Alonzo Gee played 37 more games than any other Cav in Scott’s tenure and Anderson Varejao played just 81. But you don’t have to be that talented or experienced to play decent defense, and Cleveland wasn’t anywhere close to decent.

Cavs defense, 2012-13
Category CLE Rank
Opp2PT% 51.1% 28
Opp3PT% 37.2% 25
DREB% 72.6% 25
OppTmTOV% 16.1% 7
OppFTA Rate .304 28

As you can see from the table to the right, the one thing the Cavs’ defense did decently last season was force turnovers. Otherwise, they were bad across the board. Their opponents shot well from everywhere, they didn’t rebound well, and they fouled too much.

The Cavs were particularly bad at protecting the rim, allowing their opponents to shoot 64.1 percent in the restricted area, the third-worst mark in the league. They lacked rim protectors, but the problems started with breakdowns on the perimeter and continued with poor weak-side help.

Here are some defensive lowlights from a March 31 game where the Hornets (a mediocre offensive team) shot 18-for-27 in the restricted area and scorched the Cavs for 112 points (on about 93 possessions)…


In comes Brown, who had the Cavs in the top-seven in defensive efficiency in three of his five previous seasons in Cleveland. Of course, Brown had LeBron James, as well as a healthy Varejao. In fact, the two seasons where the Cavs didn’t rank in the top seven defensively under Brown were the two seasons in which Varejao didn’t play a full season.

Cavs defense under Brown

Season DefRtg Rank vs. Lg. Avg. Varejao GP
2005-06 102.6 14 -0.8 48
2006-07 98.9 4 -4.8 81
2007-08 103.7 11 -1.1 48
2008-09 99.4 3 -6.0 81
2009-10 101.5 7 -3.4 76

Varejao’s health is key and it’s great news that he was cleared to play this week. It’s hard to expect anything out of Andrew Bynum at this point, but he could provide a defensive lift as well.

Still, if the Cavs want to challenge for a playoff spot, they will need improvement from their young bigs, as well as those wings that failed to help from the weak side in some of the examples above. So it should be no surprise that Brown is focusing on defense for the first few days of training camp.

Pace = Possessions per 48 minutes
OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
DefRtg = Points allowed per 100 possessions
NetRtg = Point differential per 100 possessions

DREB% = Percentage of available defensive rebounds obtained
OppTmTOV% = Opponent turnovers per 100 possessions
OppFTA Rate = Opponent FTA/FGA

For Durable KD, Streak Will Go On Tonight

HANG TIME SOUTHWEST — Six wins in their last 10 games is a veritable cold snap for the Oklahoma City Thunder, who are coming off a 115-110 loss at Cleveland two nights ago. Most notable in defeat, however, was the painful right rib contusion that ailed the league’s top scorer, Kevin Durant.

Feared at best to be a game-time decision for tonight’s home game against the Dallas Mavericks (8 ET, League Pass), a team that has pushed the Thunder to overtime twice this season, Durant told reporters after OKC’s morning shootaround that he intends to be in the starting lineup:

Durant last missed a game more than two years ago, on Dec. 3, 2010, due to a left knee sprain — a span of 175 consecutive regular-season games. That injury cost him two games, and a left ankle sprain the previous month also forced him out of two games. Those four games are the only ones he’s missed since the start of the 2009-10 season.

OK, so he’s not exactly on the heels of A.C. Green‘s NBA Iron Man record of 1,192 consecutive games played or Andre Miller‘s 632-game streak that ended in 2010 due to a one-game league-issued suspension for shoving Clippers forward Blake Griffin. But, hey, give KD time.

In five-plus seasons, Durant has played in 427 of a possible 441 games. He missed a career-high eight games in his second season, including seven in a row with a sprained right ankle.

Durant was in considerable pain following Saturday’s loss at Cleveland, OKC’s fourth defeat in its last seven road games. Durant was inadvertently kneed in the back by Cavaliers guard Alonzo Gee in the third quarter. Durant left the game, but returned early in the fourth quarter and scored 13 points on 4-for-8 shooting in the final period to give him 32 points with 11 rebounds.

After receiving treatment for some time after the game, he gingerly walked out of the arena, appearing to be in quite a bit of discomfort to observers. Durant downplayed the injury to reporters: “If I can play, I’m all right. I was good. I came (back) in and played so that’s all that matters.”

And he will tonight. So, too, will Mavs forward Dirk Nowitzki, who is coming back from a two-game absence with a right adductor strain. Nowitzki had been one of the legendary iron men in the league really until this season when he missed the first 27 games after having arthroscopic surgery on his right knee on Oct. 19.

He’s now played in just 18 of the Mavs’ 47 games and is averaging 14.8 ppg, his lowest mark since his rookie season and nearly seven points worse than last season when he missed four games early on with issues in the same right knee. He missed nine games in 2010-11 when he sprained his right knee during a game at OKC.

In his 15th season, Nowitzki has missed just 74 games with 29 coming this season. He missed six or fewer games in 12 consecutive seasons and a good number of those came at the end of the regular season for additional rest before the start of the playoffs.

Tonight, however, while Durant runs his consecutive games played streak to 176, Nowitzki’s resets again at one.

Film Study: The Cavs’ Bad Defense

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY — When Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters combined for 52 points in a road win over the Los Angeles Clippers last week, we started to see some real potential in the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Since then, the Cavs have lost four straight games. And on Tuesday night, they took over as the worst defensive team in the league, having allowed 107.8 points per 100 possessions, eight more than the league average.

The Cavs’ defense actually ranks in the top eight in forcing turnovers and defensive rebounding. But it has major holes on the interior, despite the presence of Anderson Varejao, an excellent defender.

Highest opponent FG%, restricted area
Team OppFGM OppFGA OppFG%
Cleveland 152 199 76.4%
New York 76 116 65.5%
Chicago 114 178 64.0%
Boston 120 189 63.5%
Sacramento 140 222 63.1%

Through Tuesday, 11/13

Through Tuesday’s loss in Brooklyn, the Cavs are allowing their opponents to shoot a ridiculous 76.4 percent in the restricted area

Now, you will notice that teams 2, 3 and 4 in the table to the right all finished in the top five in defensive efficiency last season. And there’s more to defense than keeping your opponent from shooting a high percentage near the basket.

But you will also notice how big of a difference there is between the Cavs and every other team when it comes to defending the rim. Their opponents are shooting almost 11 percent higher than any other team’s opponents and more than 18 percent higher than the league average (58.2 percent).

To make it clear how bad that is, note that only one player (Dante Cunningham) took at least 100 shots from the restricted area last year and shot better than 76.4 percent. He was 89-for-116 (76.7 percent).

On Tuesday, the Nets shot an amazing 24-for-28 in the restricted area, recording 60 points in the paint, their highest total since April of 2010.

A look at the film makes it easy to see why, because the the Cavs’ defensive breakdowns were obvious, plentiful, and almost comical…

Problem: No hustle. Spotlight on: Alonzo Gee

The Cavs are allowing 19.7 fast break points per 100 possessions, second only to Milwaukee. Part of the problem is turnovers, and part of the problem is … well, just watch Alonzo Gee after Irving misses a shot in the paint…



When Kris Humphries grabs the rebound for Brooklyn, Brook Lopez is at the foul line and Gee is at the 3-point line. And when Lopez scores on the opposite end of the floor, Gee has barely cross the mid-court line.


Wall leads All-Tournament Team

Posted by Drew Packham

LAS VEGAS — Washington point guard John Wall took home top honors as Most Outstanding Player in Las Vegas after leading all players in scoring (23.5 ppg) and assists (7.8 apg). Fellow rookie DeMarcus Cousins was honored as T-Mobile Rookie of the Month for his impressive Summer League showing. Below are the rest of the players named to the All-Tournament team.
Complete Summer League coverage on

T-Mobile Rookie of the Month
DeMarcus Cousins (Sacramento)

Most Outstanding Player
John Wall (Washington)

All-Tournament Team
Sam Young (Memphis)
JaVale McGee (Washington)
Reggie Williams (Golden State)
DeMar DeRozan (Toronto)
JJ Hickson (Cleveland)
Ty Lawson (Denver)
Dominique Jones (Dallas)
Derrick Caracter (LA Lakers)
Larry Sanders (Milwaukee)
Gani Lawal (Phoenix)
Jermaine Taylor (Houston)
Alonzo Gee (San Antonio)