Posts Tagged ‘Carlos Arroyo’

Argentina, P.R. Continue To Dominate

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS (NEW JERSEY BUREAU) — Day 2 of action at the FIBA Americas Championship 2011 in Mar del Plata, Argentina, featured a near-upset, a couple of blowouts, and a critical game between two teams who have a shot at the top five (and a spot in the Olympics or the Olympic qualifying tournament next summer).

Trending up: Venezuela (0-2)
Trending down: Dominican Republic (2-0)

Dominican Republic 92, Venezuela 89 (Box Score)

For the second straight day, Venezuela looked poised to pull off an upset. This time, they were up by as many as 17 points early in the third quarter and by 11 heading into the fourth. But the Dominican Republic turned up the defensive intensity in the final 10 minutes, swarmed Greivis Vasquez whenever he came off a pick, and pulled out a three-point victory.

More notes from Dominican Republic vs. Venezuela:

  • For most of the game, the Venezuela zone kept Edgar Sosa out of the paint and Al Horford out of the post. But Horford was able to find opportunities near the rim by moving without the ball. He finished with 19 points on 6-for-7 shooting, adding 10 rebounds.
  • Jack Michael Martinez, the Dominican’s starting center and their version of Ben Wallace, added 18 points and 14 rebounds. A lot of those points followed his seven offensive boards.
  • The Venezuela offense was a little more balanced than it was on Tuesday, but Vasquez still filled the box score. He came one assist short of a triple-double, finishing with 16 points, 10 rebounds and nine dimes.
  • Once again, both Francisco Garcia and Charlie Villanueva were largely disappointing. Garcia was mostly invisible and Villanueva looked sluggish. There’s talk of Villanueva being under the weather, but the only good thing about him through these first two games has been the way the FIBA announcer pronounces his name.
  • With the game going down to the wire, neither Garcia nor Villanueva were on the floor for the Dominican Republic.
  • Luis Flores was on the floor, and he hit two big jumpers in the closing minutes.
  • After trailing by six with 45 seconds left, Venezuela had a chance to tie with a three on their final possession. But the play that ex-Warriors and Kings coach Eric Musselman drew up in the timeout was not executed on the floor and Vasquez drove baseline and had no one to pass it to.
  • By playing well against both Brazil and the Dominican Republic, Venezuela has been a pleasant surprise in this tournament. They might have a shot at finishing fifth, but they need to start turning those fourth-quarter leads into Ws. They’ve got Cuba on Thursday and then a huge game against Canada on Saturday.
  • The Dominicans looked strong against Cuba on Tuesday, but took a step backward on Day 2.

Puerto Rico 101, Paraguay 55 (Box Score)

Not much to see here. Neither Carlos Arroyo nor J.J. Barea needed to play more than 20 minutes in this blowout. Through two games, Puerto Rico has an effective field goal percentage of 0.582. They’ve got another mismatch (Uruguay) on Thursday before facing Argentina on Friday night.

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Horford, Splitter Stand Out On Day 1

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS (NEW JERSEY BUREAU) — With the United States already holding a ticket to London next year and happy to sit out the event for the second straight time, the FIBA Americas Championship 2011 got underway in Mar del Plata, Argentina on Tuesday.

The top two finishers in the tournament will qualify for next year’s Olympics in London. The third, fourth and fifth-place finishers will qualify for the 12-team qualifying tournament next July. The top three finishers in that tournament will qualify for the Olympics.

Eight of the FIBA Americas’ 10 teams were in action on the first of five days of preliminary-round action. Here’s a rundown…

Dominican Republic 90, Cuba 60 (Box Score)

Of the three NBA players on the D.R. roster, Al Horford clearly stood out. After a slow start (two points on 1-for-5 shooting in the first 8:58), he dominated the action in the Dominican’s easy win.

Horford’s 24 points came mostly in the post, where the Cuban big men were completely overmatched. But he did have a handful of buckets on the move and on the break. The highlight was a fast-break alley-oop throw down off a toss from Edgar Sosa midway through the second quarter.

After that 1-for-5 start, Horford connected on 11 of his final 13 shots. He added nine boards to his 24 points.

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The (FIBA) Games Must Go On

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Mike Fratello has spent decades making himself comfortable on the basketball court wherever he’s been. But Fratello has always felt especially at ease in the baby blue and gold he wore at Hackensack High back in his native New Jersey.

Those North Jersey roots were on Fratello’s mind as he prepared his latest team for EuroBasket 2011, where Ukraine’s national team will sport the same colors this week as they attempt to chase one of the top spots in the tournament and the spoils that come along with being one of the best teams in European basketball.

“I do feel very comfortable putting the old blue and gold on,” Fratello said with a chuckle. “Plus, this competition is as big as it gets right now in the game of basketball, given the circumstances with the lockout and everything else that’s going on right now in the NBA.”

You’ve read about it all summer, this wave of NBA talent that will hit foreign soil to play ball if the regular season is delayed because of the lockout.

You won’t have to wait around to see NBA talent in action now. With EuroBasket in Lithuania Aug. 31 through Sept. 18 and the FIBA Americas being played in Argentina Aug. 30 through Sept. 11, there will be plenty of familiar faces on display, including reigning Finals MVP Dirk Nowitzki and Clippers center Chris Kaman leading the German team in EuroBasket. Brothers Pau Gasol of the Lakers and Marc Gasol of the Hang Time Grizzlies headline the Spanish team.

Spurs star Manu Ginobili and Rockets star Luis Scola are the biggest names for the host team in Argentina. Mavericks point guard Jose Barea and Celtics point guard Carlos Arroyo will run the show for Puerto Rico while Hawks All-Star center Al Horford will team up with Kings swingman Francisco Garcia and Pistons forward Charlie Villanueva for the Dominican Republic.

Our nearly two month hiatus from basketball as we know it comes to a momentary end this week with the game itself back on the global stage with national teams on both sides of the globe vying for those coveted early invites to the London Olympics. Every game can be seen on ESPN3.com.

Automatic bids to the Olympics are at stake for the top two teams in each competition. Four more teams — the third through sixth place finishers from EuroBasket — will also earn bids to the Pre-Olympic Qualifying tournament next July. Three more teams — the third through fifth place finishers from FIBA Americas — will earn bids to the Pre-Olympic Qualifying tournament next July.

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StatsCube: Celtics’ Offense in a Funk


For the second straight season, the Boston Celtics are slumping down the stretch. They’ve lost six of their last 10 games, completely losing their grip on the top seed in the Eastern Conference in the process. Now, they’re just a game in the loss column ahead of the Miami Heat for second in the East, facing the prospect of starting a conference semifinals matchup in Miami, instead of at home.

When the Celtics traded Kendrick Perkins, the fear was that their defense would suffer. Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic are good players and should make Boston’s offense more potent, but neither is known for their prowess on the defensive end of the floor.

And yes, the Boston defense did give up 30 fourth-quarter points to the Charlotte Bobcats (the fifth worst offensive team in the league) on Friday, turning a 13-point lead into a two-point loss. But in general, it’s been the Celtics’ offense that has really struggled of late.

Celtics efficiency, 2010-11

Timeframe Rec. Pace Off. Eff. Def. Eff. Diff.
Pre-trade 41-14 93.0 105.2 97.4 +7.8
Post-trade 9-7 91.9 100.3 97.0 +3.3
Last 10 4-6 89.8 98.0 95.2 +2.9

Pace = Possessions per 48 minutes
Off. Eff. = Points scored per 100 possessions
Def. Eff. = Points allowed per 100 possessions

So, since the trade, the Celtics’ defense has basically been performing at the same level as it was before the deal. The numbers are a little skewed by a game in which they held the Bucks to 56 points, but they have held nine of their 16 opponents under a point per possession, and their only bad defensive game since the trade was a 108-103 loss to the Clippers on March 9.

Side note: In contrast, it was the Celtics’ defense that suffered more at the end of last season, allowing 104.3 points per 100 possessions after the All-Star break and 111.8 over their last nine games.

The Celtics are grabbing fewer offensive rebounds since the trade, but they’re also getting to the line more often and turning the ball over a little less. So they’re actually getting more shots per possession than they were before the trade. And they’re even shooting their free throws better.

Essentially, the Celtics’ offensive drop-off is completely a result of poor shooting from the field.

Celtics’ shooting

Timeframe 2P% 3P% EFG%
Pre-trade 0.522 0.374 0.530
Post-trade 0.479 0.330 0.482
Last 10 0.467 0.301 0.464

EFG% = (FGM + (.5*3PM)) / FGA

Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo are all shooting worse from the field since the trade, and the Celtics’ offense has suffered as a result. With the Big Four on the floor together, they’re scoring 105.8 points per 100 possessions since the trade (despite a hot start), as opposed to 111.8 before it.

But when the big four aren’t all on the floor is when the Celtics’ offense really struggles, scoring just 94.1 points per 100 possessions since the trade, which is downright dreadful.

Celtics’ efficiency since trade with player on floor

Player GP MIN Off. Eff.
Rajon Rondo 16 581 102.7
Ray Allen 16 575 103.1
Paul Pierce 16 535 102.9
Kevin Garnett 16 512 105.0
Nenad Krstic 15 384 106.4
Jeff Green 15 344 97.0
Glen Davis 12 340 95.2
Delonte West 8 150 92.1
Troy Murphy 11 114 82.1
Carlos Arroyo 8 102 96.2

Off. Eff. = Points scored per 100 possessions

You can see why Doc Rivers has gone to an eight-man rotation in a couple of those games.

For a veteran team that was able to flip the switch when the playoffs began last year, it’s easy to theorize that the Celtics’ problems stem from boredom, complacency or a broken ubuntu. And perhaps it’s just a matter of time for the new guys in the rotation to get going.

No matter what the underlying issue is, the shots aren’t falling.

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John Schuhmann is a staff writer for NBA.com. Send him an e-mail or follow him on twitter.

StatsCube: All About the Big Four


BOSTON — When you’ve got four All-Stars, does it really matter who you play next to them?

For the Boston Celtics, it might not.

The Celtics stunned the league by trading Kendrick Perkins (along with Nate Robinson) last week, acquiring Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic from Oklahoma City. There are a couple of dozen aspects to this trade worthy of debate between now and June (and we addressed a couple of them here).

One argument for the Celtics breaking up their core is that they were 33-10 (and 5-2 against Chicago, Miami and Orlando) before Perkins played a game this season. According to NBA.com StatsCube, Boston’s original starting lineup of Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Shaquille O’Neal has played just 18 games together, but has been dominant in that time, outscoring its opponents by 102 points in 266 minutes (18.4 per 48).

O’Neal (inflamed right Achilles) hasn’t played since Feb. 1, so Krstic became the starting center as soon as he arrived. And once again, the Celtics have a dominant starting lineup.

Boston’s new starting group of Rondo, Allen, Pierce, Garnett and Krstic has outscored its opponents by 39 points in 69 minutes together. It’s been strong both offensively (scoring 119.9 points per 100 possessions) and defensively (allowing just 92.0).

It all goes back to the big four. There have been more efficient four-man units this season than Rondo, Allen, Pierce and Garnett, but only one has played at least 500 minutes together. That group was Miami’s Carlos Arroyo, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh, which was a plus-15.7 per 100 possessions in 675 minutes, but was broken up when the Heat waived Arroyo on Tuesday.

Only four four-man units have played more minutes together than the Celtics’ big four, but none of those groups has been as dominant as Boston’s, which has outscored its opponents by 15.0 points per 100 possessions.

Four-man units that have played at least 1,000 minutes together

Team Unit Min. Off. Eff. Def. Eff. Diff.
LAL Artest, Bryant, Fisher, Gasol 1319 111.2 101.0 +10.3
HOU Battier, Lowry, Martin, Scola 1198 109.7 104.8 +5.0
NOH Ariza, Okafor, Paul, West 1136 105.4 101.7 +3.6
MEM Conley, Gasol, Gay, Randolph 1071 105.3 103.7 +1.6
BOS Allen, Garnett, Pierce, Rondo 1070 112.1 97.1 +15.0
CHA Augustin, Diaw, Jackson, Wallace 1065 105.0 104.6 +0.4
GSW Curry, Ellis, Lee, Wright 1032 110.9 111.7 -0.8
UTA Bell, Jefferson, Millsap, Williams 1013 104.9 108.5 -3.6

Off. Eff. = Points scored per 100 possessions
Def. Eff. = Points allowed per 100 possessions

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John Schuhmann is a staff writer for NBA.com. Send him an e-mail or follow him on twitter.

Bulletin: It’s July in March in NBA!

As swiftly as the transactions have come Monday and so far on Tuesday – extensions, releases, buyouts, signings, renewed tremors of franchise relocation —  it would seem only fair to clear some air space in prime time this evening to provide a roundup of the frenzied activity.

But no, this isn’t July. This is March 1 and there are eight games on the docket tonight. So instead of an hour-long special to await and dissect one man’s move from Cleveland to Miami, we’re getting maybe 90 seconds or so to learn of, process and re-Tweet each of a half-dozen or more significant NBA moves occurring in broad daylight.

Carlos Arroyo released? Mike Bibby stepping into his chalk outline down Horatio’s way near South Beach? Troy (Dropkick) Murphy shipping up to Boston? Kendrick Perkins and the Maloof Brothers both getting juicy extensions? There’s enough programming there for an NBA TV post-trading deadline special.

It’s enough to make those of us who recall old-fashioned newspaper newsrooms (apologies for the obvious redundancy in that) long for the days before we did all our work on somebody’s mother’s couch in the proverbial basement. Y’know, when the wire-service machine would clack and click and spit out an actual ribbon of paper, with a bell to announce the arrival of breaking news.

Thing would be on the verge of blowing a gasket today. Forget that “In like a lion” chatter about March – this one has come in like a velociraptor.

Here are the news items and some quickie reaction:

  • G Carlos Arroyo was released by Miami in anticipation of the Heat adding bought-out Mike Bibby.

Hang Time’s reaction: We’ll take this one point guard at a time. No one can blame Miami for wanting to upgrade a position that has been a weakness all season. This is like Achilles deciding that, yeah, maybe chukka boots would be a better footwear choice than sandals – gotta protect the heel, y’know. It’s unclear how much Bibby has left, but with Mario Chalmers on the depth chart, it’s not like he’ll have to outplay guys named Rose, Rondo, Billups, Williams, Nelson or Jennings every day in practice. On game nights? Well, there is that.

There’s also this: Miami is adding a lifetime 15.4 ppg and 5.7 apg game guy. Bibby is a legit deep shooter who will spread the floor. But in kicking Arroyo to the curb, the Heat also has sent a reminder to all those players who might see an easy path to a championship in south Florida: You will be expected to sacrifice salary and job security, but we won’t sacrifice anything if there’s a shot at upgrading. As soon as President Pat Riley can snag someone better, you will be out the door faster than a brain-cramped contestant on Jeopardy!

Hang Time’s reaction: This was a double-whammy, of course, with the Celtics adding frontcourt help and blocking Miami from doing the same. The 6-foot-10 pick-and-pop specialist was looking at five playoff-bound teams as a way to break his league-high streak of 639 games without a postseason appearance. Boston probably needed Murphy more, considering Udonis Haslem‘s coming return from foot surgery, though it will take awhile to know how much his game atrophied from his Tim Thomas-like exile from New Jersey’s plans. But Murphy averaged 14.6 points and 10.2 rebounds last season, kept former Pacers coach Jim O’Brien happy in Indiana and, what the heck, is named “Murphy” and figures to look right at home in Celtics green.

Hang Time’s reaction: Brewer’s defense, energy and attitude has rightfully made him a desirable pickup among the buyout bunch. The Knicks prefer Jeffries’ 6-foot-11 size for defense inside but Brewer’s inclination and ability to harass people on the perimeter has attracted  interest – according to our man David Aldridge – from the likes of San Antonio, Miami, Dallas and New Orleans. Boston and even the Lakers are said to be interested, too, although Chicago among the contenders is hungrier for outside shooting (not the former Florida draft pick’s strength at all). Meanwhile, Cleveland, which lost forward Antawn Jamison to pinkie surgery for the rest of the season, is trying to push defense now and reportedly was claiming Brewer off waivers. Good to see the Cavs get a little feisty and pro-active. As for folks who focus only on Brewer’s offense as a reason not to like him, they are missing 75 percent of what this guy brings. Every night.

Hang Time’s reaction: So now we know the dollar amount that was too much for the Celtics in keeping Perkins around for a championship run this spring and for multiple years beginning in 2011-12. Boston had been thinking more in the ballpark of $22 million over four years, which in relative terms is like Fenway Park compared to Jerry Jones‘ Cowboys Stadium. Perkins’ defense and size has perked up Thunder fans, who have the NBA’s lone small-market-team-in-the-wilderness not wringing its hands about financial doom and gloom heading into the CBA talks. Extending Perkins was a no-brainer but getting it done now, at a reasonable price (assuming he stays healthy) is another master stroke by GM Sam Presti. Not so much for Danny Ainge and the Celtics, who are almost guaranteed to miss Perkins in the middle during this postseason.

Hang Time’s reaction: It’s difficult to imagine three NBA franchises sharing the market in southern California. But then it was hard to see how the Corleones could divvy up New York with the Tattaglias, the Barzinis the Cuneos and the Straccis. If the fan base is big enough and the pockets deep enough and the TV/radio rights fees hefty enough, anything is possible. The extension pushes the deadline past the Board of Governors meeting on April 14-15, so in a sense this seems merely procedural.

But the climate in the NBA has changed, with commissioner David Stern no longer taking tremors of relocation as some personal failure or betrayal. He views it as business, period. And NBA business, while very good right now on the court, is likely to have a dramatically different look to it once the owner-union CBA talks are done.

The Kings staying in Sacramento? Would you lay odds on that in a Maloof casino?

Chalmers Replaces Arroyo As Heat PG

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Now that it’s official we can finally dissect the Heat’s change at point guard.

Mario Chalmers takes over the starting job from Carlos Arroyo, a change that many people saw coming weeks ago. No one here thinks Arroyo did a bad job or anything. But it’s clear that if the Heat are going to finish this season the way they expect to, they need more of  a defensive-minded player at that position.

This marks the Heat’s most significant internal move of the season, mostly because using Chalmers as the starter at such a pivotal position should free LeBron James and Dwyane Wade up to spend more time guarding players at their natural positions and avoid those instances when they are trying to guard opposing point guards when Arroyo struggles.

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra didn’t try to mask the challenges of using a talented but streaky offensive player as his primary point guard, telling ESPN.com’s Kevin Arnovitz:

“It’s been a steady battle and process with [Chalmers],” Spoelstra said. “He has great instincts to make plays defensively. I don’t want to completely handcuff him, but he has to do it with an IQ and a discipline to our system. That has to come first.”

We  can’t wait to see their science experiment in action Thursday night on TNT, when Chalmers will have to tangle with  Raymond Felton when the Heat and Knicks get after each other. It will be the first of many nights this season when Chalmers (along with James, Wade and Chris Bosh) will be the central figures in intriguing matchups that will have lasting (postseason) implications.

The Heat’s Point Problem

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — The CSI Miami crew is probably still combing AmericanAirlines Arena for clues that might explain how the Miami Heat had last night’s game against the Utah Jazz ripped away from them in overtime after leading by 22 points.

The most obvious suspect — Jazz big man Paul Millsap — is already gone, his 46-point explosion and the thrilling comeback win packed away safely for the rest of the road trip.

But after running the blue light over the box score of not only last night’s loss but the Heat’s two other defeats, it’s easy to identify the biggest problem. And it’s one we’ve been talking about since Miami’s Big 3 was formed. Who in the world is going to orchestrate things for LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh? And who guards the opposing orchestrator?

This notion that either James or Wade can handle those duties and all you need is a warm body to put in the starting lineup at point guard is faulty logic, especially after watching Deron Williams shred the Heat the way he did last night (following the lead of fellow elite point guards Rajon Rondo and Chris Paul in their dismantling of the Heat in the only other losses Erik Spoelstra‘s team has incurred this season).

The math doesn’t match up either:

— In that season-opening loss to the Celtics, Rondo scored just four points and had two steals but controlled the game with his defense and 17 assists while Heat starter Carlos Arroyo managed just three points and didn’t have a single assist (compounded by 14 turnovers from James and Wade).

— When the Hornets ambushed the Heat over the weekend, Paul destroyed them with 13 points, 19 assists and five steals while Arroyo went scoreless and managed just one assist, with Wade and James putting together another double-digit (10) turnover performance.

— Williams abused them for 21 points and 14 assists last night before fouling out late in regulation, with Arroyo fighting back with 10 points and two assists while James (triple-double) and Wade (season-high 39 points) kept their turnovers to a minimum (just four), but the result was the same.

For those math-challenged members of our little club, that’s a healthy 38-13 scoring advantage for the opposing starter at point guard in those losses and a staggering 50-3 assist advantage for the opposing starter.

Williams and Millsap did the major damage against the Heat in the third quarter, combining for 26 of the 30 points the Jazz piled up as they outscored the Heat by four to get back into the game. Yet it was another point guard that made the play that helped clinch the game for the Jazz. Ronnie Price drove the lane in the final seconds and dished off to Francisco Elson, who was fouled by Wade and knocked down the two free throws that provided the winning margin.

It helps, even with a man neck-deep in the “zone” Millsap was in Tuesday night, to have a point guard simply initiate and help execute the offense sometimes.

We’re not pointing fingers at Arroyo specifically, though we’re sure someone will (even though he’s been put in a situation where he can’t win against the league’s very best point guards). We are, however, wagging a giant foam index finger at this notion that James or Wade can simply add those point guard duties to the phone book-thick list of things they have to do for this Heat team.

If you have a starting caliber point guard in this league, you must allow him to do the job, even on a team stacked with superstars like James and Wade. (See Rondo three years ago with the Celtics’ Big 3 for your best example of why it must be done this way.)

Spoelstra said there was a lesson to be learned from the way his team lost to the Jazz and they’ll respond to it. We’ll see Thursday night, when Rondo and the Celtics take their talents to South Beach and face the Heat on TNT.