Posts Tagged ‘Mario Elie’

Thunder’s ‘Others’ Getting The Best Of Their Hyped Spurs Counterparts

HANG TIME PLAYOFF HEADQUARTERS — It’s easy to focus on the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Big 3 Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden when they’re playing as well as they have in the past three games of the Western Conference finals.

But to focus solely on the stars would overlook perhaps the most startling development in this series. The Thunder’s role players, commonly referred to as the “others,” are outplaying their Spurs counterparts considerably in the past 12 quarters of this series.

Praised by many as the deepest and most balanced team in the league, the Spurs haven’t been able to lean on the likes of Matt Bonner, Gary Neal, Danny Green, Tiago Splitter or any of the extras who helped them roll to 20 straight wins since April 11, and that includes those two wins over the Thunder in Games 1 and 2. They’ve been in the conference finals witness protection program the past three games, though, as the Thunder have seized control with three straight wins.

Neal suffered a through a particularly ugly performance on this night, shooting 0-for-6 from the floor and scoring just two points in his 14 minutes of action. His 6-for-22 shooting effort in the past three games is indicative of the struggles that have plagued the Spurs’ extras.

Meanwhile, the Thunder have received timely contributions from guys like Derek Fisher, Nick Collison, Serge Ibaka, Thabo Sefolosha and Daequan Cook, whose eight points(on a perfect 3-for-3 shooting from the floor, and consecutive makes from long distance) in just three minutes and 54 seconds of action in the first half of Game 5 proved to be crucial to the Thunder’s cause in their 108-103 win.


Do-It-Yourself Scouting In Sac-town?

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – It’s no secret that the Kings need a new arena in order to remain in Sacramento for the long term.

But according to former first-round draft pick Antoine Wright, who has played for four different clubs in six seasons, what the Kings could also use to regain relevance in the Western Conference are scouting reports.

As part of a longer tale in which he acknowledges his own mistakes but seems to take responsibility for none of them, Wright tells Sam Amick of that during his brief stay in Sacramento last season that the team was shockingly unprepared stepping onto the court:

“My rift, really, with the organization was that I don’t think they prepared the guys enough to win basketball games,” Wright said. “We were probably the only team in the NBA that didn’t have a scouting report. How do you expect a young team to go out and carry a game plan? Every team I’ve been on, they give you a scouting report on every guy on the team, a couple paragraphs about each guy before you go out there and play against him.

“Coming on the court before the game was chaos – no structure whatsoever, and we kind of had a laid-back coach. [Paul] Westphal was pretty laid back, and with a group of young guys, you’ve got to have somebody who comes in and disciplines them.”

Wright wasn’t even close to done yet.

“I’m not going to throw any of their players under the bus, but one of the main players who was a big part of our team, his attitude was really, really bad — I’m pretty sure you can figure out who that guy is,” he said before confirming that he was speaking of then-rookie forward-center DeMarcus Cousins. “Tyreke [Evans] had a pretty good attitude. His work ethic wasn’t great, but he’s a good young player. I believed in him completely. I just don’t think the coaches did enough to prepare us to win games.”

The 6-foot-7 guard was taken by the Nets with the No. 15 pick in the 2005 Draft and never averaged more than his 7.3 points per game with Dallas in the 2008-09 season. He signed a one-year contract with the Kings last summer, but lasted only seven games with the team following an arrest for DUI and a blow-up with assistant coach Mario Elie. Then Wright finished last season playing for the Jiangsu Nangang Dragons in the Chinese Basketball Association.

You have to wonder how Wright thinks he’s helping his chances of re-making image and getting back into the NBA. But in a league that increasingly relies on analytics and detailed preparation, if what Wright says is true, maybe you can stop wondering how the Kings haven’t made the playoffs since 2006 and have just a 49-115 record over the past two seasons.

Note to future Kings: Subscribe to NBA League Pass and do your own scouting.

Cousins has ‘foul’ triple-double


By Drew Packham

LAS VEGAS — DeMarcus Cousins became the second player this Summer League to pull off a triple-double.

Unfortunately, it was one he’d like to forget.

Cousins had a respectable 16 points and 12 rebounds (albeit on 5-for-18 shooting), but he got the triple-double thanks to his 10 fouls. (Players are allowed 10 fouls in Summer League before fouling out.)
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Kings assistant Mario Elie, acting as head coach in Las Vegas, wasn’t pleased with the calls.

“Very frustrated,” Elie said. “I didn’t like the officiating today. I mean, God, you’ve gotta let these young guys play in the summer. Looked like the game was going to take four hours. Granted, there was a lot of fouling, and these officials are trying to show the NBA officials up there, but you’ve got to let players play.”

Cousins isn’t the first this summer to pull off the rare triple-double. Suns rookie Gani Lawal did it Monday against the Mavs with 15 points, 11 boards and the 10 fouls.

Elie was, however, happy with Cousins’ reaction.

“I like how he responded,” Elie said. “I wanted to see how he responded when things weren’t going his way. He was a little down, but I tried to keep encouraging him. He kept rebounding the ball. He’s just got to learn to play through that and be smarter.”

Cousins bruised, but confident


By Drew Packham

LAS VEGAS — You can bet DeMarcus Cousins will be getting a mouthpiece tomorrow.

For the second straight day, Cousins was sporting reminders of a physical Summer League game.

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On Monday, Cousins had butterfly bandages on his lower lip after getting knocked in the face. A day later, he had a fat lip to show for a game in which he faced constant double teams but still finished with 19 points and 12 rebounds.

“DeMarcus is tough, man,” Kings summer league coach Mario Elie said. “Nothing bothers him. We told him to get a mouthpiece because he’s going to see a lot of that. He’s always in the mix, always fighting for rebounds. He’s a double-double machine. It’s sad that they have to double him in the summer. I can imagine just to let him play one-on-one what he’d do.”

Still, after two games, the bruising isn’t hurting Cousins’ confidence. When asked of his goals for the season, the big man out of Kentucky didn’t hesitate.

“I’m going for the Rookie of the Year,” Cousins said. “I want to win, I want to be the best rookie coming in this season. That’s the goal.”