Posts Tagged ‘Louis Williams’

What To Make Of The Rest In The East?

Steve Nash‘s long-awaited return to action no doubt captivated most of us during the NBA’s Saturday night fiesta.

But while Nash, Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers were busy trying to get things in order in Oakland against the Golden State Warriors, there was another intriguing matchup between wannabe contenders in the Eastern Conference.

The Chicago Bulls and Atlanta Hawks locked up at Philips Arena in a battle of teams we’re still not quite sure what to make of, what with the Heat and Knicks having already distanced themselves from the pack. A night earlier both teams were at polar opposite ends of the basketball spectrum. The Bulls smashed their way through a physical battle with the Knicks in New York, while the Hawks got stroked by 19 points by the Sixers in Philadelphia.

Fast forward a night and the same two teams looked totally different. In a head-to-head matchup the Hawks dominated the final three quarters of on their way to a 92-75 win.

The game was one thing, a battle of wills between teams trying to forget about the night before in time for a cruel schedule punch that required they both spend no time enjoying or sulking about what happened the night before. The reactions to the outcome from both sides, however, was the truly entertaining part of the night.

Since no one in either locker room has a good explanation for why they can perform at such a high level one night and then fall so flat the next.

“It was a different night, that’s all,” said Hawks guard Lou Williams. “I’m sure you don’t report your best every night. In different games, your body feels different. Your body responds different. Sometimes you travel, sometimes you get an opportunity to sleep in your own bed. Small things like that make a difference.”

Bulls center Joakim Noah, who was in the middle of the action in the win over the Knicks, could tell something was a bit off against the Hawks, who like the Bulls have both impressed with quality wins this season while perplexing with peculiar losses as well.

“We had a letdown because we lost,” Noah said. “One night you come out and play so well and you feel great, and then the next night you come out with the wrong mindset and don’t play well. Our energy was bad, and we settled for too many shots early in the clock. When you’re tired, sometimes you just have to move the ball around, and we didn’t do that. We let (the Hawks) play to their strengths. We can’t get too up or too down about the last two days. You just have to learn from the experience and move on from it.”

If anyone is going to mount a serious challenge to the Heat or Knicks in the East this season, it will have to come from a small group of teams based on what we’ve seen through the first trimester of this season. The Indiana Pacers, Milwaukee Bucks, Brooklyn Nets,  Boston Celtics and Sixers have all looked the part at times throughout the past two months. And yet it’s hard to tell if any one of these teams is legitimately up to the task.

We know the Bulls’ chances of mounting that challenge improve dramatically if Derrick Rose is able to return from ACL surgery at anywhere near the MVP-level he played at before going down.

What might surprise some is that the Hawks will need a similar charge from the same position if they are going to shed the label of pretenders and take a seat at the table with the true contenders in the East.

“That was probably one of our most energized wins thus far this year,” said Hawks coach Larry Drew, who Saturday night became the second-fastest Hawks coach to reach 100 wins (behind Hall of Famer Lenny Wilkens). “I thought at the very beginning our guys did a really good job, and it started with Jeff Teague and his energy defensively at the very beginning. It was a very clear contrast from [Friday night], where I thought he was a little laid back and didn’t really exert himself defensively. I thought he did a phenomenal job with that. When he does that, he just gets us going. It’s something we talk to Jeff about and something we’ll stay on him about constantly to keep him in the mind frame of being the aggressor defensively, because the rest of the guys feed off of that.”

If the Hawks, like the Bulls, want to be taken seriously, the time to step up is now.

Hawks Want Smith In The Flock

HANG TIME, TEXAS Danny Ferry has been on the job for only a few weeks and already he’s backed the moving van up to cart off Joe Johnson and Marvin Williams.

So are the movers ready to lift Josh Smith like an old sofa and carry him to the door next?

Not so fast, Ferry tells Jeff Schultz of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

“He’s a really good player,” Ferry said. “I love his ability to pass the ball. I love his ability to make game-changing plays defensively. I love his competitiveness. If I was out there playing, I would want Josh on my team.”

But does Smith want to be here? He wasn’t available for comment Tuesday, but Ferry said he has met with him twice.

“He’s excited for next season,” he said. “We haven’t really gone in that direction with him [on roster plans]. But we’ve talked about how we’re going to play. We’ve talked about other players. His ideas, my ideas. I’m just trying to establish a relationship.” (more…)

Mayo, Grizzlies Get Back On Their Grind


What we saw from the Memphis Grizzlies in their Game 2 win over the Los Angeles Clippers is the Grind House style their fans have become accustomed to and playoff fans everywhere demand from the grimiest team in the league.

They pushed the Clippers around again last night, but they didn’t let up this time (making sure they did not repeat their sins from Sunday night’s epic Game 1 failure) and evened their series at 1-1.

A little inspiration always helps. And Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins provided exactly that before the game. More from Ronald Tillery of the Comercial Appeal:

With their leader wearing the championship ring he won as a member of the 1977 Portland Trail Blazers, the Grizzlies delivered an inspired performance — this time, over four quarters — and left with a 105-98 Game 2 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers Wednesday night in FedExForum.

Hollins said he simply found the ring after misplacing it and wore the piece of jewelry with no intent to send a message. But players noticed.

“He did it (won a title) in his second year,” Griz guard O.J. Mayo said. “Why can’t we?”

Either way, Memphis evened its Western Conference first-round playoff matchup at 1-1. The best-of-seven series resumes Saturday for Game 3 in the Staples Center.

“We had great focus from start to finish,” Griz guard Tony Allen said. “They (the Clippers) came in here and took care of business. We just need to have that same mentality on the road.”

After blowing a 27-point lead in Game 1, the Griz knew they couldn’t afford to go down 0-2 with at least two road games in front of them. Instead of tightening up in the fourth quarter like they did Sunday, the Griz were the aggressors.

They dove on the court, increased defensive pressure on Clippers point man Chris Paul and made clutch baskets.

No one made more of those clutch baskets than Mayo, whose work off the bench last night showcased all of things Mayo is capable of as one of the true sixth-man game-changers in these playoffs (along with James Harden, Louis Williams and Jason Terry).


Blogtable: Impressive In The East

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.

Which team most impresses you in the East right now: Indiana or Philadelphia?

Steve Aschburner: Philadelphia. I like the aggressiveness that the 76ers are showing in coach Doug Collins’ second season. Ditto for their defense, at or near the top in points allowed and field-goal percentages. They’re not superstar driven – it’s hard to classify Elton Brand as one anymore – and get it done with a whole-greater-than-the-sum-of-the-parts approach. And the bench guys – Evan Turner, Louis Williams, Thad Young – have been slapping other teams in the face.

Fran Blinebury: C’mon, don’t tell me you expected a Sixers team that opened the season with a five-game road trip to be sniffing the same rarified air as the Heat and Bulls even two weeks into the schedule.  Doug Collins has built on last season’s foundation and has Philly playing hard and with a sense of togetherness.  As John Schuhmann noted in the Hang Time blog, it’s the Sixers’ bench led by Thaddeus Young that has bumped them up to the next level.  With rookie Nic Vucevic capably backing up an improved Spencer Hawes, they also have legitimate size and presence in the middle.  The Sixers are a fun team worth watching. If only the fans of Philly would notice.

Scott Howard-Cooper: Although I have been on the Pacers bandwagon since the start of camp, loving the postseason moves and the way the roster has filled out, Philadelphia has been more impressive so far. The 76ers have looked good on offense and defense, and have better depth. Plus, Philly just won when the teams met. (more…)

StatsCube: Makers of the Big Shot

Channing Frye did it again. One day after hitting the game-winner at the buzzer in Indiana, Frye hit another one with 6.6 seconds left to beat the Nets on Monday night, ruining Deron Williams’ home debut with his new team.

According to StatsCube, only 45 shots (out of 186 tries, in 891 total games) have given a team the lead in the final 10 seconds of the fourth quarter or overtime this season. That’s a pretty dismal shooting percentage (24.2).

But amazingly, Frye isn’t the first guy to hit a game-winner in the final 10 seconds of a game two days in a row this season. Travel back Dec. 15 and 16, when Manu Ginobili hit game-winners against Milwaukee and in Denver. He gets extra credit for drawing a charge on Carmelo Anthony after the Denver bucket.

Three other players have hit multiple game-winners in the final 10 seconds of a game this season…

Michael Beasley: Nov. 17 vs. the Clippers and Dec. 26 at Cleveland

Rudy Gay: Nov. 20 vs. Miami and Jan. 24 at Toronto

Deron Williams: Nov. 6 vs. the Clippers and Nov. 13 at Charlotte

Carmelo Anthony and David West have hit two potential game-winners in the final 10 seconds, but one of Anthony’s was followed by Ginobili’s game-winner, and one of West’s was followed by a buzzer-beating tip-in by Mike Dunleavy in Indiana on Dec. 20.

In total, 125 different players have attempted to give their team the lead in the final 10 seconds of the fourth quarter or overtime. Deron Williams’ six attempts (including one after Frye’s game-winner last night) are the most, while Frye, Gay and Stephen Jackson (one make) have five attempts.

The most attempts without a make is three. Jordan Farmar, LeBron James, Chris Paul and Louis Williams are all 0-for-3 in such situations.


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