NEWS OF THE MORNING
No. 1: Swaggy P goes primetime — Last night in San Antonio with the Lakers in town, all eyes were on Kobe Bryant, who entered the night 31 points from passing Michael Jordan for third on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. But during the pursuit of the record — and one day after Kobe publicly criticized his teammates while the media was at practice — something interesting happened: The Lakers knocked off the Spurs in overtime for their second straight win. And while Bryant finished with 22 points, the game-winning bucket came from Nick “Swaggy P” Young, who, according to ESPN’s Baxter Holmes, fully enjoyed the moment…
Nick Young is all jokes, all the time. But Friday, after playing the surprise role of hero in an overtime win here against the San Antonio Spurs, the quirky Los Angeles Lakers guard turned his cartoonish personality all the way up.
Exhibit A, referencing his remarkable, go-ahead 30-footer with 7.4 seconds left in a 112-110 victory, a highly contested prayer of a heave that turned AT&T Center silent:
“Once it left my hand, I kind of knew it was cash,” Young said. “I’m like, ‘I don’t miss.’ That’s my new name — ‘I.D.M.’ Call me ‘I.D.M.’ You feel me?”
Exhibit B, referencing his game and season-high 29 points off the bench on 9-for-14 shooting, including 6-for-9 from 3-point range:
“Man, you know, I’ve just got to do what I’ve got to do when I’ve got to do it,” Young said. “So basically, I’m just doing what I’ve got to do every time that I step on the court to do what I’ve got to do. You feel me?”
Then Young offered more not-so-veiled remarks — hard truths and backhanded compliments, if you will, that made it once again difficult to tell when exactly he’s joking and when he isn’t.
Such as here:
“I’m glad I had a chance to hit a game-winner with somebody like Kobe [Bryant] on the floor, who normally has the ball in his hands all the time,” Young said.
Or here, when he nodded to Bryant’s chase of Michael Jordan for third place on the all-time scoring list (Bryant stood 31 points shy of passing Jordan entering Friday):
“No offense to Kobe, but I didn’t think I was going to get the ball that much [Friday],” Young said. “I thought he was going to break that record — at least get 40 or 50 [points]. With all the cameras that were around, I didn’t think I was going to get the ball that much.”
Young, known as “Swaggy P,” in a nationally televised game indeed stole the spotlight away from Bryant, who many expected would gun for Jordan’s record. Instead, Bryant shot 7-of-22 from the field and scored 22 points, leaving him nine shy of passing Jordan’s total (32,292).
“It’s going to come,” Bryant said of the milestone.
But the fun-loving Young also touched on Bryant’s trash-talking tirade in practice Thursday, when Bryant called his teammates “soft,” comparing them to Charmin toilet paper, among other things.
“When I’m out there, I don’t play like Charmin,” Young said. “I like Scott Tissue. It’s a little rougher.”
No. 2: Down goes Davis — One of the most versatile players early this season has been New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis, who has averaged a double-double and established himself as an MVP contender even with the Pelicans hovering around the .500 mark. But early in the first quarter last night against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Davis went down with what is being called a “chest contusion.” While the Pelicans managed to hang on for the win without Davis, they obviously need to get him back if they want to continue to fight for a playoff spot. As John Reid writes…
Despite Friday’s win, the focus was clearly on Davis’ health. He never came out the locker room after suffering the injury. The Pelicans had initially listed him as questionable to return.
However, when the Pelicans took the court before the start of the third quarter, there was no sign of Davis. At the end of the quarter, the team announced that Davis would not return.
It appears unclear when Davis’ chest problems began. But midway in the first quarter, forward Tristan Thompson bumped into Davis at mid-court. However, Davis continued playing.
During a timeout with 5:44 remaining in the opening quarter, Davis had his hands on his chest appearing to be in discomfort. He returned to the court but asked out of the game at the 5:30 mark.
“I just know when he was on the bench, he was wincing as if he couldn’t breathe,” Williams said. “So I was hesitant to put him back in the game and he then he wanted to go back out. We watched him for awhile and he took himself out. That’s when I knew he didn’t feel right. And he was waiting for himself to feel better when he was in the back (locker room), but it never came back. So we’ll have a better idea of what’s going on (Saturday).”
No. 3: Nets’ patience running short — Reports of the Brooklyn Nets’ hastened demise have been greatly exaggerated…this according to Brooklyn GM Billy King. At a press conference last night, speaking before the Nets’ 88-70 win over Philadelphia, King said stories about the Nets attempting to quickly trade their core three are exactly that: Stories. With the team currently sitting at 9-13, however, King acknowledges an urgency to get things turned around. As the New York Post reports…
“My job is to listen to people and to make calls and to make calls back,” King said before the Nets’ 88-70 victory over the 76ers on Friday night at Barclays Center.
“Does that mean we’re having a fire sale? Absolutely not. I’m doing my job, as well as asking the players and the coaches to do their job. But my job is to work the phones, see what’s available.
“If things make sense you make trades. If they don’t, you don’t do it. But we’re not shopping or having a fire sale.”
King’s comments came in the wake of reports Tuesday the Nets had made their three highest-paid players — Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez — available in trade discussions recently after Brooklyn got off to a rough start for a second straight season.
But while King said there are reasons why the Nets haven’t played up to expectations, he wasn’t ready to say everything about the team’s slow start could be attributed to outside factors.
“I think one, Brook was playing himself back into shape, after being out so long,” King said. “I think a lot of guys were trying to adjust to the new system.
“But some guys just haven’t played up to the level we need them to play.”
The Nets have sputtered out of the gate each of the past two seasons, and since the start of training camp, coach Lionel Hollins repeatedly has said he expects them to play much better in January and February than they are now, once the group grows more comfortable with him and vice versa.
King, however, said the Nets can’t afford to simply wait for things to get better with time. They entered Friday with an 8-12 record and were riding a three-game losing streak.
No. 4: Pistons snap 13-game skid — When Stan Van Gundy signed on this summer to take all things basketball for the Detroit Pistons, there was an expectation that things would improve from last year’s 29-53 season. Thus far, however, things have been worse before they got any better, as the Pistons entered last night with a 3-19 record and 13 consecutive losses. But the Pistons finally got summer signee Jodie Meeks back from injury, and went into Phoenix and squeaked out a 105-103 win to end the streak. As Vincent Goodwill writes…
All the stops were pulled Friday, as Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy went back to Greg Monroe in the starting lineup, used Jodie Meeks for the first time this season and even did what he’s been previously reluctant to, playing his two point guards simultaneously.
The Pistons were desperate, doing everything they could to counteract the balanced Phoenix Suns attack.
Buzzer-beating triples, passionate pleas to the officials followed by calm diplomacy when the emotion died down, but in the end, they had to make plays, and did just enough to beat the Suns, 105-103, at U.S. Airways Arena.
Easy, it surely wasn’t, and the ending will never be confused with being smooth or a coaching clinic, as the Pistons nearly gave it away multiple times in the final minutes.
Andre Drummond, an unlikely figure to be sure, hit one of his two free throws with 2.5 seconds left to give the Pistons a two-point lead before the Suns’ final attempt made its way to Drummond’s massive mitts before the buzzer sounded, ending the misery, punctuating his 23-point, 14-rebound night.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, the player who was alleged to have “no heart” by Suns forward Markieff Morris during their earlier meeting, hit a corner 3-pointer with 1:13 remaining to break a 97-all game, and the quiet kid shot a cool stare at the Suns bench on the way downcourt, the last of his 14 points.
“Ha! Nah, I did kind of look at the bench or whatever, let them know I do have heart. I’ll take that shot any day,” Caldwell-Pope said with a bit of a grin afterwards. “It felt good. Jodie had a nice cut to the basket, (Eric) Bledsoe helped and I was wide open. I spotted up and knocked the shot down.”
Meeks played 22 minutes off the bench, hitting four of his 10 shots to score 12. Meeks, who’s rather mild in most instances, was fouled with eight seconds left after a Goran Dragic layup, and after his two made free throws, pounded his chest in joy.
SOME RANDOM LINKS: Don’t look now, but the Hawks have won 9 straight … The Knicks got a win but lost Iman Shumpert with a dislocated shoulder … Dion Waiters spent the night in Cleveland after experiencing abdominal pain … Bulls forward Doug McDermott will undergo an arthroscopic procedure on his knee … Jermaine O’Neal will make a decision about returning after the holidays … While Kobe closes in on Michael Jordan’s scoring record, Byron Scott doesn’t think anyone will catch Kareem Abdul-Jabbar … Someone allegedly stole a truck filled with 7,500 pairs of LeBron‘s signature shoes …