Posts Tagged ‘Dennis Scott’

Morning shootaround — March 28


VIDEO: All the highlights from Friday night

NEWS OF THE MORNING

Hawks clinch Eastern Conference | Mavericks lose Ellis | What’s next for Thunder, Durant? | Shaq would have stayed in Orlando

No. 1: Hawks clinch Eastern Conference — Coming into this season, the Atlanta Hawks were dealing with an underwhelming free agency period, a GM on an indefinite leave of absence, and an ownership group that wanted to sell the franchise. And then the season started, which the Hawks used as a terrific reminder that all the off the court noise ends there, and what really matters is the results on the floor. Friday night, with a win over the Miami Heat, the Hawks moved to 55-17 on the season and clinched the Eastern Conference championship. Yet despite the incredible season and improbable title, as Jeff Schultz writes in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Hawks acted like it was no big deal …

The Hawks clinched the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs Friday night and they acted as if they had just beaten Milwaukee on a Tuesday in November.

That’s probably a good thing.

“Maybe we’ll do a little, ‘Hip-hip, hooray’ on the plane,” Kyle Korver said.

“I mean, it’s great,” Paul Millsap said. “But we really haven’t been focusing on it. We’ve got bigger goals ahead. We haven’t been looking at the scoreboard or looking at other teams. We’ve been looking at ourselves, trying to get ourselves right.”

The Hawks (55-17), playing the best defense they had in a few weeks, led Miami by 18 points at halftime (55-37) and cruised to a 99-86 win over the remains of the Heat.

Miami isn’t the same team without LeBron James (Cleveland) and Chris Bosh (injured), and with Dwyane Wade seemingly playing on one leg. The Heat’s bandwagon fan base, which used to fill Philips Arena, also appears to have shrunk, or at least morphed into Cleveland fans. Funny how that works.

But the Hawks’ win, combined with Cleveland’s loss to Brooklyn, officially clinched the East, even if it was a bit anti-climactic. It almost seemed fitting that when coach Mike Budenholzer walked into the locker room minutes after the game to tell his players that the Cavaliers had lost, half of the team was in the showers.

“Bud found out, came in and there were only like five guys in here,” Korver said. “He was like, ‘Good accomplishment, we won the East.’”

***

No. 2: Mavericks lose Ellis — The Dallas Mavericks have made several changes this season — trading for Rajon Rondo, signing Amar’e Stoudemire — and despite the growing pains involved they have managed to remain in the playoff picture. But a calf injury last night to Monta Ellis not only got Mark Cuban fired up on Twitter, but without Ellis on the floor, as Tim McMahon writes for ESPNDallas.com, the Mavericks offense was a “hot mess” …

The Dallas offense didn’t exactly look healthy without its leading scorer. The Mavs scored a grand total of 22 points in the final 18:43 without Ellis, finishing with their second-lowest point total of the season.

Of course, the Mavs didn’t quite light it up in the first half with a healthy Ellis, either. Dallas scored only 41 points in the first half, shooting 38.6 percent from the floor. But the Mavs closed the first half with a 10-2 run, capped by Ellis speeding through the Spurs for a coast-to-coast layup, and opened the second half with a 13-4 spurt to slash the Spurs’ lead to four.

Then Ellis limped off the floor with 6:43 remaining in the third quarter, a little bit after he got kneed in the calf while defending Manu Ginobili, and took the life out of the Mavs’ offense with him. Dallas didn’t score for the next 3:03 and managed only 15 points in the fourth quarter.

Forwards Dirk Nowitzki and Chandler Parsons failed to pick up the slack with Ellis out. They both failed to score in double figures, combining for only 16 points, none of which came in the fourth quarter.

Was that hot mess a preview of the Mavs’ offense minus Ellis?

“We’ll find out,” Mavs owner Mark Cuban said before correcting himself. “Hopefully, we won’t have to find out.”

The Mavs will know more about Ellis’ status on Saturday, but his streak of playing in 237 consecutive games is certainly in jeopardy. The Mavs’ next game is Sunday night in Indiana.

“We just have to wait and see what the doctors say and how he feels tomorrow,” Nowitzki said. “Hopefully, he will be OK. We all know he plays injured and sick and he is always there for his team.”

It could be painful to watch the Mavs without their best creator by far, but it also might be in everyone’s best interest if Ellis misses some time. The Mavs have no hope of making a playoff run if Ellis isn’t at his best.

Ellis’ toughness can’t be questioned. He has proven repeatedly that he’ll fight through pain and play through injuries. That doesn’t mean it’s a good idea, particularly with the playoffs weeks away.

Ellis refused to even consider missing any games after straining his left hip two games before the All-Star break. The injury bothered Ellis for weeks, a major factor in an extended slump he finally busted out of with his 38-point performance in Tuesday’s home win over the Spurs.

“Our trainers will evaluate the situation, and we’ll communicate with him,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “I don’t see us putting him out there if he’s not feeling good. You can’t underestimate his ability to bounce back from things. He’s a fighter, he loves to compete and he hates missing games. That said, we aren’t going to put him in harm’s way.”

***

No. 3: What’s next for Thunder, Durant? — The Oklahoma City Thunder have had bad luck with injuries, but even as Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka have missed time the last few seasons, Kevin Durant was able to carry the load, logging heavy minutes and scoring hundreds of points. But after winning the MVP a season ago, this season Durant hasn’t been able to shake the injury bug, and after having two surgeries on his right foot since the summer, the Thunder announced yesterday that Durant will need a third surgery on that right foot that will keep him out four to six months. The bone graft procedure Durant is in for should give Durant his best shot yet at fixing his troublesome right foot. And with free agency for Durant looming in the summer of 2016, as Royce Young writes at Daily Thunder, there are plenty of questions left to answer …

The big question I’m seeing a lot is, “Did Durant come back too quickly?”

The answer is, yeah, probably, in hindsight. But also what you have to understand is the team is in constant consultation with specialists about this. And sometimes, things don’t go as anticipated. It’s not like they were just saying, “I don’t care, get Durant back out there before we lose more games.”

In these situations, it makes everyone feel better to assign blame. Point a finger at someone, lash out, yell, gripe, whatever. And in truth, it probably is someone’s fault in there. Maybe it’s Durant’s. Maybe it’s Sam Presti’s. Maybe it’s the medical team. Maybe it’s your fault, ever think of that?

What’s necessary to keep in mind, though, is no one was being irresponsible here. If Durant did return earlier than he should of, it’s only because he was cleared to do so. The team and Durant can only operate off of what they’re being told, and up until literally a week and a half ago, this thing was healing the way it was supposed to. The thought was that the screwhead had created a severe bone bruise from the constant rubbing, and Durant just couldn’t shake it off without significant time off. That’s what everyone thought. I was told by someone that’s pretty close to it all that he was going to play against the Celtics two weeks ago. That’s how unexpected this turn of events became.

Durant practiced on that Saturday before, doing some 3-on-3, then he played 1-on-1 in Dallas on Monday. And after that, he walked out of the arena with a severe limp, and pretty deflated. It wasn’t improving the way it was supposed to with the increased activity and at that point, the writing was really on the wall.

It doesn’t look good that Durant has had three surgeries on his foot. One is plenty. One is supposed to do the job. With what happened last season with Russell Westbrook, there’s good reason to wonder what’s going on. But I’d look at it this way: The Thunder’s conservative approach opens the door for them to get egg on their face. They didn’t mess around with Westbrook, taking a chance to let him play on a swollen knee. They pulled the plug, and made the decision to scope and deal with the consequences and fallout.

And then they did it again. They knew there would be skeptics and critics, questioning what the hell they were doing. But instead of delaying for the offseason to address it, they prioritized the long-term health of Westbrook and made the decision with only that in mind.

I’d say it worked out pretty well for them, and Westbrook.

The Thunder could’ve taken a different measure here with Durant. They could’ve rested him the next few weeks, then put him back on the practice floor and tried to ease him back on the floor for the postseason. That option was absolutely on the table.

But in collaboration with literally three of the top foot and ankle specialists in the world, the consensus was to go ahead and take the steps to end Durant’s season and do the bone graft. Instead of risking anything in his future, they’re going to just take advantage of the coming offseason which should let him completely heal, and then start over next season.

***

No. 4: Shaq would have stayed in OrlandoShaquille O’Neal began his pro career with the Orlando Magic, and he lasted four seasons before leaving Orlando in bitter circumstances and signing with the Los Angeles Lakers. But time heals all wounds, or at least it does in the Magic Kingdom, and last night the Magic welcomed Shaq back and inducted him into the Orlando Magic Hall of Fame. In his remarks during the festivities, as Josh Robbins writes in the Orlando Sentinel, Shaq said if he could do it over again, he would have played out his seven-year contract in Orlando and handled things differently …

Flanked by Penny Hardaway, Horace Grant, Nick Anderson and Dennis Scott, the mammoth center led Orlando to the 1995 NBA Finals, where the Magic lost to Hakeem Olajuwon‘s Houston Rockets in four games.

The next year, the Magic fell to Michael Jordan‘s Chicago Bulls in the Eastern Conference finals in four games.

O’Neal never played for the Magic again.

The Magic initially made him a low offer, and the Lakers swooped in with a $121 million offer and the lure of Hollywood.

The Magic eventually offered O’Neal a deal that eclipsed the Lakers’ offer, but it was too late. Restricted free agency didn’t exist in those days, so the Magic were powerless to prevent O’Neal from leaving.

And he left.

“We came back later and beat the Lakers’ offer at the closing minutes,” said Magic co-founder and Magic Hall of Famer Pat Williams. “But, emotionally, Shaq was gone.”

O’Neal was 24-years-old when he spurned the Magic in favor of the Lakers.

“It was all business,” O’Neal said. “Do I regret it? I never fully answered. I regret it sometimes. This is where I started, where I should’ve stayed. I actually wish that they [had] made it a law that whoever drafted you, you’ve got to stay there your whole career. No trades. No nothing. No free agency. No anything like that. Do I regret it? I regret it only because the DeVos family, they deserve a couple [of NBA titles].”

As it turned out, he didn’t finally win a title with the Lakers until 2000 — four years after he left the Magic.

“I just wish I would’ve had more patience,” O’Neal revealed. “It was all about I wanted to be protected from the bashing. What I mean by that [is] I wanted to win then. Even when I got there [to L.A.], I still got bashed and it still took four years to win. But I was very impatient. I was very young, and I thought that if I go there with those guys out there, that I could win right away. And that wasn’t the case.

“So now that I’m older now, I wish as a youngster, I wish I had had more patience.”

***

SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Former Jazz player and announcer Hot Rod Hundley has died at 80 … Warriors big man Draymond Green has launched a line of t-shirts poking fun at Clippers coach Glenn “Doc” Rivers … The Rockets got Dwight Howard back from injury and now lose big man Donatas Motiejunas for a few weeks with a back injury … The Heat hope to get Hassan Whiteside back by the playoffs … The Nets have signed Earl Clark to a 10-day contract

Curry Set To Make 3-Point History

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY – Three is greater than two.

It’s simple math, and the NBA is realizing it more and more each year.

This season, the league has made and attempted more 3s than it ever has. Both the New York Knicks and Houston Rockets have passed the previous single-season, team highs for 3-point makes and attempts. And now, with one game left in the regular season, Stephen Curry is just two 3-pointers away from setting the all-time record for most 3-pointers made in one season by an individual.

Most 3-pointers, single season

Player Team Season GP 3PM 3PA 3PT% 3PA%
Ray Allen Seattle 2005-06 78 269 653 41.2% 43.5%
Stephen Curry Golden State 2012-13 77 268 589 45.5% 42.9%
Dennis Scott Orlando 1995-96* 82 267 628 42.5% 56.2%
George McCloud Dallas 1995-96* 79 257 678 37.9% 52.9%
Jason Richardson Charlotte 2007-08 82 243 599 40.6% 40.8%
Peja Stojakovic Sacramento 2003-04 81 240 554 43.3% 40.0%
Mookie Blaylock Atlanta 1995-96* 81 231 623 37.1% 55.5%
Peja Stojakovic New Orleans 2007-08 77 231 524 44.1% 51.1%
Ray Allen Milwaukee 2001-02 69 229 528 43.4% 46.0%
Reggie Miller Indiana 1996-97* 81 229 536 42.7% 43.1%

* The 3-point line was shorter (22 feet all around) in 1994-95, 1995-96 & 1996-97
3PA% = Percentage of total shots from 3-point range

Curry put himself in this position after hitting nine 3s in L.A. on Friday and another seven against the Spurs on Monday, the 19th and 20th times he’s hit at least five 3s in a game this season.

In only 12 of his 77 games has Curry hit fewer than two 3s, so the odds are good that he’ll get the two he needs in Portland on Wednesday. The Blazers have the fourth-best 3-point defense in the league, but Curry hit seven treys against them less than three weeks ago.

Curry is the Warriors’ point guard, so most of his 3s have come from above the break. Only 46 of his 268 3s have come from the corners, but Curry has shot the worst from the top of the key. And he’s clearly more comfortable from the right side of the floor…

Stephen Curry's 3-point shot chart

Stephen Curry’s 3-point shot chart

Curry leads the league with 103 unassisted 3-pointers, but 165 (62 percent) of Curry’s 3s have been assisted, by nine different teammates.

Assists on Stephen Curry’s 3-pointers

Player Assists %
Jarrett Jack 62 23%
David Lee 41 15%
Klay Thompson 24 9%
Harrison Barnes 16 6%
Andrew Bogut 10 4%
Carl Landry 5 2%
Festus Ezeli 3 1%
Draymond Green 2 1%
Kent Bazemore 1 0%
Andris Biedrins 1 0%
Unassisted 103 38%

Only 39 percent of his 3s from the top of the key have been assisted, vs. 67 percent from the wings and corners. Combine that with his shooting percentage numbers (worse at the top) and it’s clear that he’s a better shooter off the pass than off the dribble.

The way things are going, we may see somebody top 300 3-pointers in a season sometime soon. And it may be Curry. For now, he’ll have to settle for this place in the NBA record book.

Shaqtin’ A Fool: Episode 11



Some folks near and dear to our own hearts get the treatment this week in Shaq’s latest batch of foolish plays. NBA TV’s Dennis Scott and Greg Anthony are in the mix along with Steve Blake, A.J. Price and Iman Shumpert for this week’s Shaqtin’ A Fool play. Vote now!

Say Goodbye To The House Shaq Built

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – We thought it only right that we all take a moment to say goodbye to the house Shaquille O’Neal, Penny Hardaway, Lil’ Penny, our main man Dennis Scott, Nick Anderson and the rest of the old school Orlando Magic built.

The Amway Center, the house Dwight Howard built, is fully operational and one of the finest basketball buildings on the planet. But we’ll always have a soft spot in our hearts for the old place:


Orlando’s Original Big 3 (Shaq, Penny And 3D) Reunited At The Barbershop

ORLANDO – It’s probably a painful thought for longtime fans in this city, but what if Shaquille O’Neal never left?

What if the Orlando Magic’s Big 3 of Shaquille O’Neal, Penny Hardaway and Dennis Scott had stuck together throughout the primes of their respective careers? What might they have been able to accomplish? How many more NBA Finals might they have reached?

Sure, it’s a dangerous game to play, even now after all of these years have passed. But you have to wonder …


#TeamShaq Rules Rising Stars Draft





HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – With the 11th hour additions of both Jeremy Lin and Norris Cole, the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge draft got an extra dose of last-minute drama from the game’s honorary commissioner, TNT’s Kenny Smith.

By snagging both of the late additions to go along with No. 1 overall pick Blake Griffin and rookie point guard sensation Ricky Rubio, Shaquille O’Neal nailed his first ever draft (he showed up wearing the “Black Pat Riley” t-shirt) and Team Shaq goes into All-Star Weekend with the clear advantage over Team Chuck (Barkley).

Team Chuck has the sort of balance you strive for when putting together a team for the grind of an 82-game (or 66-game) regular season. But Team Shaq has the star power at guard, point guard especially, that you need to win games like the one we’ll see on All-Star Friday night in Orlando.

That didn’t stop Barkley from talking smack after he passed over Lin for a rookie point guard sensation of his own in Kyrie Irving with his first pick.

“It wasn’t very difficult [to pass on Jeremy Lin] to be honest because [Lin’s] only been playing for a week and it’s been a fantastic week,” Barkley said. “But Kyrie Irving is terrific and he’s going to hand it to [Lin] and if Ricky Rubio wants some…he can come get some too.”

You’ve got to ride the hot hand Chuck. And no one in basketball is hotter right now than Lin.

Team Shaq didn’t even get the endorsement of NBA TV’s Dennis Scott, Shaq’s best friend and former Orlando Magic teammate. “As I go through the [rosters], at first I thought Shaq had the upper hand but he has too many point guards,” Scott said. “Shaq has more playmakers but Charles has more finishers…I think Charles may have the upper hand.”

Et tu 3D?

Being the long-range bomber that he was (and remains, to this day) 3D should know better than to bet against the guys who will have control of the ball throughout the game. Team Chuck’s bigs will need someone to get them the ball. All of the best playmakers other than Irving and John Wall will be working for Team Shaq that night.

Mark it down, we’re predicting a big win for Team Shaq that night!

Full rosters & a poll after the jump: (more…)

Barbershops And Basketball

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – The Jump crew took the show on the road to yap about all things NBA and we wound up at Goodfellas in nearby Smyrna, GA — just a short ride from the hideout here.

And if you think we talk a lot of smack around here, wait until you see these cats from Goodfellas get going (with Dennis Scott, Brent Barry and yours truly along for the ride):


Lakers Back On Track

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – When the Lakers take the measure of their season, the entire season, those ugly losses to Charlotte and Cleveland before the All-Star break will barely register, if at all.

The Lakers we all expected to see this season have been on display since the All-Star break. The 8-0 record since then helps. But it’s the way they’ve been dismantling teams that really sticks out.

Andrew Bynum, the same one that folks were ready to ship out of town for Carmelo Anthony a couple of weeks ago, is playing inspired basketball these days. The Lakers are doing the same, no doubt a result of the beating they took from all angles — including the fans, competitors and former Lakers legends like Magic Johnson and Jerry West.

Those critics have retreated as the Lakers have emerged since All-Star Weekend, reestablishing themselves as the matchup nightmare that they’ve been for almost every team in the league during their last two title runs. Bynum is a dominant force rebounding the basketball lately, with 16-plus in three straight games.

If Bynum’s healthy March — 10.8 points, 14.3 rebounds and 3.5 blocks — is any indication of what’s to come in the postseason, teams hoping the Lakers were finally vulnerable might have to do some recalculating. Not only will Bynum, Pau Gasol, Ron Artest and Lamar Odom make it nearly impossible to operate in the paint (as the Hawks found out last night), Kobe Bryant seems to have playoff focus locked in already as well.

The most refreshing thing about the way the Lakers have responded to their pre-All-Star Weekend case of the hiccups is the fact that they not only acknowledge their own missteps, but they understand them as well as what lies ahead, as T.J. Simers of the Los Angeles Times details:

“Our cockiness got in the way early in the season,” said Lamar Odom. “Now we go into every game knowing if we do the right things as a team, we’re going to win.”
(more…)

Hang Time Podcast (Episode 41)

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – When then Minnesota Timberwolves GM Kevin McHale put the finishing touches on the eight-player deal that brought Kevin Love to Minnesota for O.J. Mayo on draft night 2008, folks from Minneapolis to Memphis and back went (for lack of a better word) crazy.

Someone even created a “McHale Must Go” facebook page to make their point.

Well, guess what? Our main man McHale got it right after all.

Love is having an All-Star season and should be days away from being selected as a reserve for the Western Conference contingent that will represent in Los Angeles next month. Mayo’s days appear to be numbered in Memphis, where he simply does not fit into the team’s long-term plans.

McHale, now a NBA TV and TNT analyst, is the featured guest on Episode 41 of the Hang Time Podcast. The Minnesota native and former Golden Gophers All-American and Celtics legend is the linchpin in what will go down as our Great Lakes Edition, the celebration of one man’s hunch paying off and another man’s Super Bowl dream coming to an abrupt end.

The other big shot Kevin on campus here at the hideout joined us as well. Chicago’s very own Kevin Cottrell Jr., NBA TV’s researcher extraordinaire and one of the Windy City’s finest NBA exports not named (Derrick) Rose, also stopped by the studio for a little therapy after his Bears fell in the NFC Championship game (yes, we went off base and discussed Jay Cutler just a little bit).

McHale didn’t even get a chance to revel in Cottrell’s misery. Not with his Vikings standing on the sideline while their two biggest rivals fought it out to see who would represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. “For Vikings fans, watching the Bears and Packers play to go to the Super Bowl is like asking a condemned man if he’d rather be hung or shot,” McHale said. “It’s bad news either way.”

Wait until you hear the rest of what was said on Episode 41, which included a special guest appearance from our roving co-host “3D” Dennis Scott of NBA TV.

LISTEN HERE:

As always, we welcome your feedback. You can follow the entire crew, including the Hang Time Podcast, Lang Whitaker of SLAM Magazine, our super producer Micah Hart of NBA.com’s All Ball Blog and your host Sekou Smith on Twitter.

– To download the podcast, click here. To subscribe via iTunes, click here.

Hang Time Podcast (Episode 38)

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Is the Rookie of the Year race over already?

Are the Dallas Mavericks’ title hopes in trouble now that Caron Butler could be lost for the season?

Like always, when there are pressing questions about anything dealing with the NBA, we have your answers here on Episode 38 of the Hang Time Podcast, which includes an appearance from our special guest co-host “3D” Dennis Scott of NBA TV.

(Sorry. The entire HTP crew is recovering from strep throat or some other holiday virus that causes all of our voices to sound stopped up, stuffed up or just plain messed up. We apologize in advance for sounding like Storm Troopers.)

LISTEN HERE:

We touched base with NBA.com’s rookie guru Drew Packham, author of the T-Mobile Rookie Ladder, to talk about Griffin, John Wall and all the other players vying for All-Rookie honors.

We also caught up with our main man Earl K. Sneed of Mavs.com to talk about Butler, Dirk Nowitzki, Rick Carlisle, Mark Cuban and all things Mavericks.

As always, we welcome your feedback. You can follow the entire crew, including the Hang Time Podcast, Lang Whitaker of SLAM Magazine, our super producer Micah Hart of NBA.com’s All Ball Blog and your host Sekou Smith on Twitter.

– To download the podcast, click here. To subscribe via iTunes, click here.