Posts Tagged ‘Marquis Daniels’

Jennings’ Funny Math No Laughing Matter





HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – His demeanor has shifted. The smile is gone.

The gravity of what Brandon Jennings and his Milwaukee Bucks are facing, down 3-0 to the defending champion Miami Heat in their first-round playoff series, seems to have set in for the brash young point guard.

That funny math he used to predict the “Bucks in six” has crumbled over the past eight quarters of this series. It’s no longer a laughing matter, not when your season and potentially your career in Milwaukee is potentially coming to an end.

Jennings has vowed to play until the final buzzer in Sunday’s Game 4, hoping to stave off elimination for at least one more games. But it’s hard to ignore the fact that this series is every bit the mismatch most of us thought it would be on paper. And it’s even tougher to avoid the obvious question that will linger between now and free agency for Jennings and the Bucks. Do they stick together after four extremely productive years for Jennings, a restricted free agent at season’s end?

He’s helped the Bucks to the playoffs twice, his rookie season and this one, and he’s shown his many critics that his decision to bypass college for a one-season detour in Italy did nothing to damage his NBA stock. But in a league filled with as diverse and talented a group of point guards as its potentially ever had, where exactly does a player like Jennings fit?

“Great question,” an Eastern Conference general manager said. “His rookie season I felt like he was going to join that group of elite point guards, especially after what he did to the [Atlanta] Hawks during the playoffs. He showed off playmaking skills and scored at will in the postseason, doing things you don’t normally expect from a rookie. And he’s been solid ever since. But I don’t know that he’s moved into that tip tier of point guards. He’s not there, not yet.”

Jennings has averaged an impressive 17.0 points, 5.7 assists, 3.4 rebounds and 1.5 steals in 291 career regular season games. Considered more of a scorer than a facilitator, Jennings has proven himself capable of handling both responsibilities for the Bucks. Still, there is some uncertainty about his desire to stick around in Milwaukee during what could be a complete rebuilding situation this summer.

His backcourt mate Monta Ellis can opt out and become an unrestricted free agent this summer. And Samuel Dalembert, Mike Dunleavy, Marquis Daniels, J.J. Redick and Joel Pryzbilla will all be unrestricted free agents this summer.

The Halloween deadline for Jennings and the Bucks to agree on an extension of his rookie contract passed without either side admitting that they were even close to getting something done.

That’s one reason why this series against the Heat is such a showcase event for Jennings. It’s his final platform before free agency to remind the league that he’s a player a franchise can build around. The upset guarantee and his 26-point effort in Game 1 was the ideal buzz and result for Jennings early on.

But he’s managed just 24 points in the two games since the opener, shooting 8-for-30 from the floor and 1-for-14 from beyond the 3-point line. The Heat have stymied the Bucks’ offense late in all three games, eliminating the pick-and-roll as an option for Jennings and Ellis when the game is one the line.

“One of the problems we have with that is our size in the backcourt,” Bucks coach Jim Boylan said. “We’re not a big team. So when they are out there trapping and staying with the ballhandler like that, they are putting a lot of pressure on you, first of all. Secondly, they have good size. It’s easy for me stand up in the huddle and say ‘we’ve got to make a quick pass, we’ve got to move that ball and take advantage of them double teaming.’ But sometimes it’s hard to do. They are flooding the strong side and cutting off passing angles and it makes it difficult to find the right man, the open man, with a pass. It’s usually a cross court pass and those are always dangerous because of their speed and activity.”

This is one of the premier defensive teams in the league we’re talking about in the Heat, who boast quality perimeter defenders in not only LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, but also Mario Chalmers, Norris Cole and Ray Allen.

Chalmers and Cole have taken a particular interest in limiting Jennings, both of them no doubt smarting from the brash attitude and words Jennings has been sure to share with the world.

“They are really getting physical,” Boylan said. “It’s playoff basketball. So there is a lot more contact than in the regular season. And anytime we use any sort of pick-and-rolls, they are double-teaming him and putting pressure on him. That combination is difficult. And they are focused in on both [Jennings] and Monta. They did what they needed to do, be physical, be big and cut off those angles for finding people.”

At 23, Jennings is probably done growing. So there is nothing he can do about that size disadvantage and the fact that the Heat are executing flawlessly in wearing him down. But he has at least 48 minutes left to prove that his skill set can best whatever advantage the opposition brings to the show.

That Bucks in six stuff is obviously history.

Whether or not Jennings’ time with the Bucks is, however, … well, only time will tell.

LeBron As Efficient As Ever In Opener




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MIAMI – For a guy who claims not to have slept much Saturday night, LeBron James looked remarkable Sunday night, refreshed even, for the start of the Miami Heat’s defense of their NBA title.

And no, it had nothing to do with the designer red sweater he wore to the postgame media gathering after James and the Heat demolished the Milwaukee Bucks 110-87 at AmericanAirlines Arena.

A restless LeBron looks a lot like the same uber-efficient LeBron we’ve seen all season, and particularly in his past 10 games. James is shooting a staggering 70 percent from the floor and 57 percent from behind the 3-point line. While everyone else plays at game speed, James continues to play at his own speed. It’s not breaking news that he flirted with a triple-double Sunday night … he does that on the regular. It’s the way he does it, making it look easy, that makes you pause.

He needed just 11 shots, making nine of them, to pile up his game-high 27 points. The 10 rebounds and eight assists, nearly each and every one of them a momentum-shifter in one way or another, completed his performance.

“He really just let the game come to him,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “He facilitated quite a bit for us. He was creating triggers a lot of times by setting screens and generated a lot of offense just by doing that. It was a very mature, high IQ game. Yeah, that’s about as an efficient as you can get. He made that look easier than it was.”

James has a knack for doing exactly that, making it look easier than it was. Sunday marked the 13th time in his career that he has finished a playoff game with those numbers, the most of any player in NBA history.

“When [James] has a game like that, what can you do?” Bucks coach Jim Boylan said. “I thought Luc Mbah a Moute and Marquis Daniels battled him well. The guy is the best player in the world right now, so what can you do?”

A calm and composed James can nitpick his own work, highlighting his five turnovers and the Heat’s 19 that resulted in 22 points for the Bucks, who will get another dose of this in Game 2 Tuesday night.

“That is the disappointing thing for us,” James said, “The 19 turnovers and 22 points. A lot of those 19 turnovers were careless, including myself, I had five. You know how I am about turning the ball over. I had five of them and three or fourth of them were careless and unforced. We can’t allow that to happen.”

Actually, you can. When you have a bench, powered by Ray Allen‘s 20 points and Chris “Birdman” Andersen‘s 10, capable of producing 43 points, to the Bucks’ 25, you can get away with a little sloppiness in your playoff opener. You can get away with it when superstars like Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh can play complementary roles to the most efficient and dynamic player in basketball.

“He’s in playoff mode,” Wade said of James. “We love him in that mode. Now he is focused on his goal. His goal is to dominate every game and help take this team to a championship.”

Having done it once before, you might assume that this playoff journey would stand out to James above others. But that’s not his way, not his frame of mind for this postseason. He said before the game that he couldn’t remember how he felt before Game 1 last year, so he couldn’t compare then and now. Truth be told, he has no desire to compare what was with what is or even what could be. Competing against his own ghost holds no appeal to James.

“I try to stay in the moment, to live in the moment,” he said.

And why wouldn’t he?

His next game always provides an opportunity to set a new standard or at least chase one that someone else set. He’s scored 25 or more points in 16 straight playoff games, and he kept that streak alive Sunday night with the fewest shot attempts in his playoff career. Shooting 82 percent from the floor, of course, makes these sorts of things possible in LeBron’s world.

The Bucks found that out the hard way. They stayed close early thanks to Brandon Jennings (26 points on not-nearly-as-efficient 8-for-20 shooting) and kept fighting long enough for Monta Ellis (22 points on solid 10-for-19 shooting, though he was just 1-for-6 from deep) to get going, too.

And the Heat still won going away, with all of their turnovers tossed in for good measure, thanks to James.

It’s like Boylan said, when a guy has a game like that (and game like that), what do you do?

NBA Players #PrayForBoston



HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – The shocking events of this afternoon in Boston touched off passionate reactions from folks all over the country and all around the globe, and NBA players were not immune.

With the details on exactly what happened and why at the finish line of Monday’s Boston Marathon still being investigated, the response of players on Twitter was swift and simple. And it echoed the sentiment of a nation.

Everyone is concerned for the citizens of Boston and beyond that have been impacted by this tragedy:

Kobe’s Bone Spur Worst Part of Lakers’ Long Night In Milwaukee

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MILWAUKEE
– The respective head coaches were asked prior to the game Thursday which of their teams was feeling more desperate.

By the end of the night, the Lakers’ Mike D’Antoni had it all over the Bucks’ Jim Boylan. For all the wrong reasons.

Snapshot of the night, the latest in this tortuous season for L.A.: Kobe Bryant hopping out of the BMO Harris Bradley Center on one crutch, his left foot burning from a bone spur diagnosed after the game. Bryant did not talk with reporters in the dressing room but did say to Yahoo! Sports as he maneuvered toward a waiting car: “Inflamed on me. I’ll be all right.” The Lakers were staying over in Milwaukee before flying to Sacramento Friday, where Bryant is expected to be examined again.

This came at the tail end of what already had been a lousy night. After the 113-103 loss the Bucks, their eighth-place counterparts from the East. After another defensive collapse and a blown 13-point lead. After point guard Steve Nash exited for good at 5:13 of the third quarter with an aching back and hamstring. After an old, banged-up team – still smarting from Metta World Peace‘s knee surgery earlier in the day – showed its age, D’Antoni said, then got a little older and more banged-up.

“It’s been a long year, there’s no doubt about it,” forward Pau Gasol said. “A lot of ups and downs. But we’re here. We believe in ourselves. We have the weapons. Hopefully we will stay healthy enough to be able to give it our best shot. But it’s been difficult, no doubt about it.”

Bryant, who sprained his left ankle in Atlanta two weeks ago and missed two games, led the Lakers with 30 points Thursday but shot 6-of-17 from the floor. He was 2-of-8 in the second half, when L.A. got outscored 60-47 by a Bucks club that had dropped four in a row and wasn’t playing at all like a team, ahem, peaking for the playoffs.

But Milwaukee, 35-36, perked up and crept within two games of seventh-place Boston in the East. Led by Larry Sanders’ career-high 21 points and 13 rebounds, all five starters scored in double figures, and Marquis Daniels‘ defense on Bryant led an effort that limited the Lakers to 37.5 percent shooting after halftime, including 1-of-11 on 3-pointers.

“When you’re losing, it seems like you’ll never win again,” Daniels said. “Finally we got a win, we can breathe a little bit. Not breathe, but it’s fresh air and we’ve got to continue to build off this.”

The fact that D’Antoni’s team, 37-36, is sweating out games in late March and figures to do so right through however many it has in April, sums up the failures of its season. Nash is expected to face the Kings Saturday and, given Bryant’s recuperative track record, maybe he won’t miss time either. But with just nine games remaining, a Lakers team that so often can’t control its own scoreboard will be eyeballing others’.

“We have to,” Gasol conceded. “We don’t need anybody else to be injured, to be out, missing games, especially at this point of the year. So let’s see what happens. Hopefully Kobe will be healthy for the next game. Steve will be healthy. I’ll get healthier and we’ll continue to move forward.”

Continue? There was a distinct shifting of gears Thursday but grinding, like something headed toward reverse.

Celtics Play Small, Daniels Plays Big





BOSTON – In the first two games of the Eastern Conference finals, the Boston Celtics’ bench had been outscored 41-21 by the Miami Heat bench.

Before Game 3 on Friday, Celtics coach Doc Rivers said that he didn’t necessarily need offense from his reserves.

“Our defense from our second unit has to be great,” Rivers said. “The offense is whatever happens. But our second unit is a defensive unit.”

Well, it wasn’t a defensive unit in those first two games. The Heat scored 105 points per 100 possessions against the Celtics’ starting lineup in Games 1 and 2, and 120 against all other Boston lineups.

Marquis Daniels, maybe the Celtics’ best perimeter defender on the bench (with Mickael Pietrus slowed by a knee injury) had played just two minutes in the first two games. And he played just eight minutes in the conference semifinals.

But on Friday, Daniels checked in with 1:36 to go in the first quarter and earned an extended stay on the floor, as the Heat went scoreless over a stretch of 12 possessions. The Celtics went on a 15-0 run to turn a six-point deficit into a nine-point lead.

Daniels contributed to the run with a bucket off a feed from Paul Pierce and a nice high-low assist to Kevin Garnett. And after James Jones ended the Miami drought, Daniels responded with an and-one off an offensive rebound.

Daniels finished with nine points, four boards, an assist and a steal. Most important, the Celtics outscored the Heat by 14 points in his 17 minutes on the floor.

With Brandon Bass in foul trouble, the Celtics played small most of the night, and it worked. They outscored the Heat by 18 points in the 31:14 in which Bass was on the bench.

“They came in with a defensive energy that changed the game,” Rivers said of his second unit. “And they scored off the defense. They got stops, they ran the floor. Marquis cut and got to the basket. Marquis made great passes, and then we posted him up a couple of times as well.”

Daniels said afterward that Rivers told him to “be ready” before Games 1 and 2, but didn’t say anything on Friday. Daniels was ready anyway.

“Just imagine not playing much throughout this whole playoffs [and then] having to play against some of the best offense we have in our league,” Keyon Dooling said of Daniels. “And to be able to excel. I tip my hat to him.”

Celtics reach deep for win

BOSTON — Who knew the Celtics, who labored for two rounds in the playoffs, then came up empty this week in Miami, still had some swag in them?

Who knew they could reach eight-deep in the lineup and not suffer, could briefly buckle in the fourth quarter after nearly blowing a 24-point lead and live to tell, could do all the necessary stuff that winners do and leave the court chest-first? What you saw Friday night in Game 3 was Celtic Basketball, a team effort led by defense, the kind of ball the TD Garden crowd feared was lost like Ray Allen‘s jumper. And now, after Celtics 101, Heat 91, here comes the question everyone wants answered:

Can the Celtics make this a series? Really?

“We’re not satisfied with just one win,” Rajon Rondo said.

Well, if that means extending the Heat to six games, then yeah, they can make it a series. Of course. That’s possible. They’ll have to turn Dwyane Wade into a zombie a few more times before anyone will believe they can reach the NBA Finals. But for now, let’s just say the Eastern Conference finals received a smidgen of suspense, all because coach Doc Rivers rolled the dice on his thin bench and the Celtics led by Kevin Garnett showed up collectively to finally draw blood from Miami.

KG, Paul Pierce and Rondo combined for 68 points. They all took their turns doing damage at various stages of the game. And the bench, the same crew that combined for nine points and four rebounds in Game 2 (that’s four quarters plus a five-minute overtime) was massive Friday, getting 19 and 14, with Marquis Daniels looking large.

“Everyone who came off the bench contributed for us,” said Rivers. “Our bench played tonight.”

That’s how the Celtics can extend this best-of-seven, by collecting bits and pieces from several sources, not just Rondo with a little Pierce and KG tossed in. They need rebounds (they took 44 to Miami’s 32), they need defense and they need depth. They lack the legs to get into a sprint with LeBron and Wade and, if the game is close, Miami has more closers and three-point shooters.

Of course, the Celtics do have Rondo, who wasn’t 44-point Rondo but sure looked as tough in the final five minutes when the Celtics began to wobble. Rondo took control, scored eight of his 21 points (he added 10 assists and six rebounds) and the entire building exhaled.

“He stabilized us,” said Rivers.

It was a game the Celtics had to have, much like the Thunder had to beat the Spurs when the West shifted to Oklahoma City. The notion of the Celtics possibly getting swept was nonsense anyway; that’s not showing the proper respect for a veteran team and a solid coach. Besides, Miami isn’t that good. The Heat can’t go a best-of-seven without laying an egg. They did against Indiana, and the Pacers don’t have Boston’s enormous pride.

And yet, pride will only take the Celtics so far. Like, six games, tops. Unless you think their bench has a few more games like this.

Is There Anyone Else?

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — We don’t have Carmelo Anthony, the Denver Nuggets or New York Knicks to kick around anymore.

They did their deal. They completed the trade that’s been rumored for so long, leaving us with two days before Thursday’s trade deadline to examine the rest of the landscape and see if there is anyone else out there willing to take the plunge.

Will there be anyone else out there interested in making a deal that is a franchise-changer?

We put the question the question to Kevin McHale of TNT and NBA TV fame — who was also the Timberwolves former GM. “This could definitely force some other teams into doing something,” McHale. “There is usually a snowball effect with these sorts of things.”

The Nuggets have several players whose futures could shift between now and Thursday’s trade deadline. Al Harrington was rumored throughout the past few months as being a factor in a potential ‘Melo deal. J.R. Smith is likely playing out his final days in a Nuggets uniform. And Nene has to be dealt with as well, since his current deal expires after this season.

There are other veterans out there who have been rumored to be on the trading block — Steve Nash, Stephen Jackson, Jamal Crawford, etc. — who could see their names circulate heavily in the next 48 hours.

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The Sunday Read: Daniels’ Dilemma

Daniels is trying to make a difference for the people of Haiti. (Steve Babineau/NBAE/Getty Images)

The Sunday Read is a look at the best Sunday columns around the NBA.

You probably don’t know much about Celtics reserve Marquis Daniels beyond the fact that he’s got the most hair in the league. There are a lot of big personalities in the Boston locker room, and Daniels generally fades into the background.

But in today’s Boston Herald, Mark Murphy brings Daniels to the surface with the story of the player’s attempts to help the nation of Haiti, which is still recovering from last January’s devastating earthquake.

Daniels grew up with Haitian friends and is trying to do all he can. But even for an NBA player, helping in Haiti isn’t as simple as you might think.

The Celtics guard, in heading to his hometown of Orlando, Fla, with the team for the Christmas Day game vs. the Magic, originally planned to take a group of approximately 20 Haitian orphans to Disney World on Dec. 26.

But in addition to rampant homelessness and a cholera epidemic that resulted from last January’s earthquake in Haiti, the general elections have descended into violence and armed chaos.

Flying orphans to Florida proved to be too much of a logistical nightmare, as well as a security risk. Daniels will instead fly to Haiti next summer to run a series of basketball clinics in an effort to raise funds for construction of a new orphanage school in Port-au-Prince.

He hopes conditions will be safer by then.

Read More

Additional reading…

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

About Last Night: Leaders Of The Pack

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – All this chatter about the new world order and the youth movement that was going to take over the league has been squelched by the NBA’s elder statesmen.

Miami and Oklahoma City are still working out the details while seasoned crews in other places seize the opportunity to set the pace for the rest of the league.

In the Eastern Conference, it’s the Boston Celtics ruling the roost so far, their mix of veteran savvy and leadership paired beautifully with the a virtuoso start to the season by Rajon Rondo.

In the Western Conference, the supposedly over-the-hill San Antonio Spurs continue to defy father time, refusing to age gracefully (or at all it seems) despite a Big 3 of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker that has seen its best days come and go.

With plenty of thirty-somethings littering both rosters, some people have a hard time seeing these two teams keeping up this pace over the course of an 82-game regular season.  Since most of us here at the hideout are “Thirty-somethings” as well, we’re rooting for the old folks to show these young whippersnappers how it’s done.

In addition to superior talent, coaching and staying on the right side of the injury bug karma, most elite teams need at least a couple of guys on the roster that understand the nuances of a winning operation. Both the Celtics and Spurs (not to mention the Dallas Mavericks, winners of nine straight games themselves) have handfuls of guys like that to call on when they need them.

It’s one of the beauties of how they’ve been constructed and managed, courtesy of Celtics GM Danny Ainge and coach Doc Rivers and Spurs GM R.C. Buford and coach Gregg Popovich, respectively.

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