Posts Tagged ‘Hakeem OIajuwon’

Morning shootaround — Jan. 24


VIDEO: The Fast Break — Jan. 23

NEWS OF THE MORNING

Cavs lose in Lue debut | Stan Van Gundy rips Blatt firing | Kerr, Myers find support in pain | Scola the Explorer

No. 1: Cavs lose in Lue debut Just hours after replacing David Blatt as coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Tyronn Lue made his head coaching debut at home in a nationally televised game against the Chicago Bulls. And while Lue talked about wanting to make the experience more fun for his players, as Chris Haynes writes for Cleveland.com, that turned out to be easier to talk about than actually make happen, as the Bulls won 96-83…

The Cavaliers showed energy, but lacked any efficiency — showing no shooting touch on the floor or at the foul line. They missed beyond the arc — making just four of 24 attempts — and at the foul line, where they were 9-of-22. By game’s end, they left the floor to boos from the home crowd.

During Lue’s pregame presser, he said one of the problems was that his team needed to start having more fun post David Blatt.

“I don’t think they’re enjoying it,” Lue said. “That was a part of our speech today. The game will pass you by. No matter how great LeBron is, Kyrie, Kevin, the game will pass you by. … I want them to just enjoy the moment now.”

To help cater to a new pleasurable basketball experience, before the game the Cavaliers did something they haven’t done since mid-November: they participated in the starting lineup introductions. Before, the players would just stand in a huddle as the public address announcer announced each starter.

That was the full degree of Cleveland’s (30-12) fun.

Initially into the contest, it looked as if the Cavaliers were energized and full of life by jumping out to a 7-2 lead. But that vigor slowly evaporated and old habits of isolation ball crept back in. They went scoreless in the final 6:26 of the opening quarter, missing their last 16 shots.

Ball movement could have been better, but for the most part Cleveland just couldn’t hit a shot. It was brutal to watch as they shot a horrific 37 percent from the field for the night.

When the buzzer sounded for halftime and the Cavaliers were down five, a frustrated LeBron James slammed the ball to the floor as he headed to the locker room. He had missed all three of his first half free throws. By game’s end, the Cavaliers were 9-of-22 from the charity stripe — and that required an 8-for-11 stretch to finish the game. Chicago capitalized on those missed opportunities, expanding its lead to 17 with 42 seconds remaining in the third.

An exasperated sellout crowd booed the home team, which trimmed the deficit to nine on a James layup plus free throw with 2:55 left in the game. A pair of free throws by Smith chipped it to eight seconds later.

But the Bulls found Taj Gibson for a difficult layup with a foul on James, pretty much ending any suspense. There was no overcoming that margin on this cold shooting night.

James was an assist shy of claiming his his first triple-double of the season. He finished with 26 points and 13 rebounds, but was 11-for-27 shooting. Smith put in 18 points on 17 shots. Love was the only player to make half his shots, finishing with 14 points and five boards and Kyrie Irving registered 11 points on 16 shot attempts.

Lue informed the media at morning shootaround that he would go with a 10-man rotation in order to develop an identity with the second unit. Veteran James Jones, who was out of the rotation under Blatt, was the first to sub in. Mo Williams, who hadn’t played in 10 of his last 13 games, soon after entered. The surprising aspect is that Lue used 10 players in the first quarter, showing how serious he is about improving his bench.

The results didn’t prove beneficial. Chicago’s bench outscored Cleveland’s 22-8.

With the franchise invested in Lue for the long haul, his objective is still to win games, but he also wants to restore his team’s passion.

“I’m not really worried about, right now this early, about the games, I really just worried about the spirit is more important than anything,” he said. “Getting our spirit right, getting our spirit together and I think everything else will take care of itself because we got a lot of great players.”

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Dream Work All About “D” For Faried

Kobe Bryant. LeBron James. Dwight Howard. Amar’e Stoudemire. Emeka Okafor. JaVale McGee.

Every time word gets out that another acolyte has ventured into the temple of Hakeem Olajuwon, the high priest of fancy footwork, the questions are all about offense.

Did he teach you how to spin like a top to get free for a layup? Did he show you how to tie David Robinson into more knots than a pretzel bakery with two, three, four different head fakes? Did you learn the secret of the Dream Shake?

For Kenneth Faried, the most valuable lessons learned from Olajuwon over the summer came at the other end of the floor.

“Everybody thinks it was about offense, learning how to score,” said Faried, who worked out in Sugar Land, Tex. with Olajuwon and his Nuggets teammate McGee. “But I think what is going to help me the most are the things that Hakeem showed to help me with defense.

“The footwork and me just doing the twirls and spins, learning how to keep my feet moving constantly are things that can make me a better defender.

“I can read people defensively and react to them or anticipate and get to a spot ahead of my opponent. And he showed me that I can get out there and play perimeter guys and still at the same time I can shut down the biggest bigs on the inside.”

Olajuwon was a five-time member of the All-Defensive Team, was named Defensive Player of the Year with the Rockets in both 1993 and 1994 and averaged 3.1 blocked shots and 1.7 steals over the course of his 18-year NBA career.

“People forget Hakeem was a great defender,” said Denver coach George Karl. “He won Defensive Player of the Year. For me, our big guys are really rebounders and defenders first. The offense comes to them through our guards attacking and making plays for them as much as giving them opportunities to make plays for themselves.”

From Bryant to Howard to James, the primary reason that most of them seek out Olajuwon as a tutor is to glean a few tips from his unique footwork to create space down in the low post that makes it easier to get shots off. But from the time that he first took up the game back in Nigeria, Olajuwon’s first love was always protecting the basket as a shot blocker. It was his penchant for jumping into the passing lanes and going down onto the floor to make steals that led to Hakeem wearing what became his signature large red knee pads.

Faried played a key role in the Nuggets’ help defense in Wednesday night’s win at Houston, frequently cutting off and contesting James Harden’s drives to the basket. He made a timely block of Harden’s try for a layup with 47.9 seconds left in the game that helped seal the win.

Though the 6-foot-8 Faried’s offensive range is limited and his style is to simply attack the basket and the pursuit of rebounds ferociously, he is trying to expand what he can.

“It helps a lot to get the finesse game,” he said. “It helps you as a person to not have to dunk everything at the rim. You can sometimes, when somebody’s fouling, learn how to maneuver or finesse it up for a layup or just know how to go through contact without always dunking.

“But for my role on our team, I found Hakeem’s defensive help and his philosophy and style of moving in order to always stay in front of his man to be the most valuable. That’s a way I’d like to play.”