Posts Tagged ‘Reggie Evans’

Humbled Reggie Evans Is Cleaning Glass

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HANG TIME SOUTHWEST – Every contending team could use a Reggie Evans.

Just look at the bald-and-bearded board machine’s work in the month of March: a monstrous 15.5 rpg to go with a respectable 7.3 ppg on 50 percent shooting.

That type of powerful production has earned Evans more minutes, too. He’s averaging 27.7 mpg this month, four more than his season average. All of it is exceedingly positive news for the Brooklyn Nets, who have picked up steam since the All-Star break, are 4-1 on their current eight-game road swing with a stop at Denver tonight, and are closing in on locking down homecourt advantage in the first round.

As much credit, and deservedly so, is heaped upon point guard Deron Williams for his post-All-Star Game transformation, it’s impossible to exclude Evans.

We know that Williams’ rapid turnaround was aided by PRP therapy, a juicing concoction that helped him trim down and cortisone shots into his two ailing ankles.

What’s at the root of Evans’ evolution?

“I got frustrated one day when one of my teammates told my coach to take me out the game. I bit my tongue. I didn’t say nothing to (my teammate),” Evans told Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News. “But me, knowing me, I usually attack and say something. I bit my tongue. I said, ‘OK.’ I said, ‘All right, start being aggressive.’ So I took it in a positive way, instead of just doing my normal self, like ‘What you say? What you say?'”

How mature of Mr. Evans.

On Wednesday, Evans threw down perhaps the game of his life with 22 points and 26 rebounds in a huge win at Portland that ran the Nets’ record to 42-29, and improved their road record to a rather robust 20-15, second-best in the East behind Miami.

“Reggie was absurd,” Nets interim coach P.J. Carlesimo said afterward.

Said Williams: “What [Evans] did was great. He’s the reason we got going, the reason we built such a big lead in that first quarter because he just took the life out of them. He’s playing with a lot of energy and we just fed off of him.”

It was Evans’ fourth 20-rebound game of the month and seventh of the season, more than any other player, according to Bondy. Evans has recorded double-digit rebounds in 12 of the 13 games in March and in eight in a row. In his lone single-digit board game, Evans finished with nine in 23 minutes on March 9 at Atlanta.

At $1.6 million this season, Evans, 32, is a steal. He’s stayed healthy enough to play in 70 games and appears to be getting stronger at the right time.

Having a teammate call for him to be benched seems to have been the trigger point.

“I said, ‘Let me just be a little aggressive and make them play us honestly instead of not playing me and stuff like that,'”  Evans told Bondy. “I’m just doing my best to be more aggressive, so if they respect me, cool. If they don’t, cool. I’m not tripping. At the end of the day, they know I’m out there.”

Morning Shootaround — March 28

Missed a game last night? Wondering what the latest news around the NBA is this morning? The Morning Shootaround is here to try to meet those needs and keep you up on what’s happened around the league since the day turned.

The one recap to watch: This might be hard to believe, but there are only nine more nights of 10-plus games left in the season. Where has all the time gone? A full night like last night’s 14-game schedule leaves plenty of good matchups — even when the not-so-elite/bad teams get together (Milwaukee-Philly and Orlando-Charlotte, we’re looking at you). Of course, you’d have to be living under a rock to have not seen/heard about the Bulls ending the Heat’s 27-game win streak, so we won’t feature that one in this space. We’ll go instead with Pacers-Rockets, which featured a nice contrast of styles (Indiana’s grinding ways vs. Houston’s score-as-fast-as-possible mantra) and, apparently the harsh words Roy Hibbert had for his Indiana mates after Monday’s win against Atlanta worked. The bench, the target of Hibbert’s ire, didn’t let the Pacers down and overall, Indiana’s defense was top notch — particularly Hibbert’s rim defense and Paul George‘s lockdown job on Rockets All-Star James Harden

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News of the morning

Lakers glad to see Heat’s streak end | Westbrook not as fast as Wall? | Smith’s shot selection impresses Woodson | Evans joins elite company | Jazz switch up offensive flow

Lakers glad to see Miami’s run stoppedThe gap between the Lakers and Heat this season in terms of their elite status is pretty wide: the Heat sport the best record in the league and, as of Wednesday night, had a 27-game win streak rolling. The Lakers, on the other hand, have been fighting just to make the playoffs all season (they’re No. 8 in the West) and have dealt with a seemingly endless run of drama, injuries and a combination of the two. Still, the current Lakers take pride in their past and legacy, which includes the NBA’s longest winning streak — a 33-game run put forth by the 1971-72 Lakers. After the Heat suffered a 101-97 defeat in Chicago last night to end their win streak, Pau Gasol and other Lakers are glad the record for win streaks is staying in L.A., writes Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times:

The 1971-72 Lakers can exhale. Their 33-game winning streak is still the NBA’s longest.

The current crop of Lakers took some pride in its preservation after the Miami Heat’s streak ended at 27 with a 101-97 loss Wednesday to the Chicago Bulls.

Some players were even happy.

“In a big way, I am,” said Pau Gasol, who in his six seasons with the Lakers has become friends with the coach of that ’71-72 team, Bill Sharman. “I’m glad that we kept the streak. It was about time that Miami lost.”

The Heat put together a string of come-from-behind victories to prolong its winning ways since a Feb. 1 loss to Indiana, but it finally ended against Chicago as Bulls fans chanted “End of streak! End of streak!”

The Lakers (37-35) have been pretty preoccupied in recent weeks trying to keep their heads above .500. Most of them still kept at least a casual eye on the Heat streak.

“I guess now that it’s over, it’s kind of nice that the Lakers still have it,” Steve Blake said.

The present-day Lakers weren’t lighting up cigars to commemorate the continued life of the 41-year old record. It didn’t even matter that they also beat Minnesota on Wednesday, 120-117.

Said Blake: “We have too many other things for ourselves to worry about.”

Wall says he’s faster than WestbrookWhen it comes to pure on-court speed, which player is faster: John Wall or Russell Westbrook. The folks in OKC are likely to have a much different opinion than the one that Wall shared with John Rohde of The Oklahoman last night after Wall struggled through a 3-for-18 shooting night in a 103-80 loss at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Going purely off how each of them fared at the Taco Bell Skills Challenge in 2012, Wall technically was faster than Westbrook, as you can read about here. Anyway, here’s Rohde’s report:

Washington Wizards point guard John Wall didn’t hesitate when he was asked if the Thunder’s Russell Westbrook is the NBA’s fastest player.

“No, I’m going to say myself,” Wall said after shooting just 3 for 18 from the field in the Wizards’ 103-80 loss to OKC before a sellout crowd of 18,203 at Chesapeake Energy Arena.

Wall wouldn’t even say for certain that Westbrook was the league’s second-fastest player.

“It’s tough man,” said Wall, who was coming off a career-high 47 points Monday against Memphis and finished with 18 points and 12 assists against the Thunder. “There’s a couple fast guys in this league. He (Westbrook) is up there, Derrick (Rose) is up there, when he’s healthy. Mike Conley‘s pretty quick. There’s a couple guys. Ty Lawson‘s quick. So there’s a lot of guys, but I put myself first.”

Wall was still complimentary of Westbrook, admitting he is at a place in his career where Wall hopes to some day find himself.

“We’re both young, athletic, fast point guards and that’s very rare that you see that in this league,” Wall said. “I’m trying to take the same steps as he’s taken, being an All-Star, making the playoffs and that type of thing, so that’s what I’m trying to do. Give a lot of credit to how he’s working and how he’s helping this team.”

Woodson raves over Smith’s shot selectionAs one of the streakiest shooters in the game today, Knicks swingman J.R. Smith has long been known for his ability to shoot his team into (and more than a few times) out of games during the course of his career. Smith’s gunner mentality often drew the ire of coach George Karl when Smith was a sixth-man type for the Nuggets and that mentality has also been known to irk his current coach, Mike Woodson. Yet as the Knicks have picked up steam of late winning five straight games, Woodson has been impressed with Smith’s discretion on the court, writes John Jeansonne of Newsday:

Just because he can doesn’t mean he should. Knicks shooter J.R. Smith is just that, a shooter, who can nail jump shots from binocular range.

But what coach Mike Woodson has liked about Smith’s contribution to this Knicks season, and particularly to the team’s six-game winning streak down the stretch, is that “he’s starting to figure out some things. He’s not just taking jump shots. He’s taking it to the rim, getting to the free-throw line. He’s rebounding, he’s playing defense.”

He had 35 points, the night after scoring 32 against Boston. In a reserve role, as usual, he made 10 of 18 field goals — 3 of 7 three-pointers — and, as Woodson said, earning free throws. He made 12 of 13 and shared team-high rebounding honors with Carmelo Anthony (7 apiece).

All those numbers matter as the Knicks watched a 30-point lead in the last minute of the first half melt down to four in the final minute of the game.

“I wanted to establish my game on the inside and move on from there,” Smith said. “I got a lot of calls, I made my free throws. My body is killing me but I’ll take it.”

So will Woodson, who acknowledged that Smith came to the Knicks last year with a reputation for relying too much on his outside shooting skill. Smith — his given name is Earl Joseph Smith III, though he goes by “J.R.,” which these days could stand for “Judgement Revised” — has appeared to learn a lot of new tricks in his old age, 27, and eighth NBA season.

“I can’t speak for other coaches [who had Smith],” Woodson said. “When I saw him last year, I liked what he brought to the table. It’s my job as his coach to show him some love, put him in positions to be successful. But still coach him.

“Younger players are different from older players. I probably would’ve been a little tougher on him when he was younger, and pat him, too. I still try to coach him, but be demanding of him. Sometimes he fights me. That’s part of coaching, give and take. He’s still got a ways to go but he’s getting there.”

 

Nets’ Evans hits 20-20 markEarly in the offseason, the Brooklyn Nets picked up rebounding maven Reggie Evans from the Clippers for the right to swap second-round picks in 2016. So far, Brooklyn has looked like winners in that trade as Evans is the team leader in rebounds and has more than twice as many rebounds than the forward the Nets threw a lot of money at in the offseason, Kris Humphries. Evans was at his rebounding best last night in Portland, tearing down 26 boards and scoring 22 points to join some elite NBA company, writes Sean Highkin of USA Today:

The Brooklyn Nets’ recent hot streak has been defined by the stellar play of Deron Williams and Brook Lopez. But on Wednesday, Reggie Evans did something that has only been done 13 times this season, and mostly by players of much higher stature. His 22 points and 26 rebounds were what powered the Nets to a 111-93 road blowout of the Portland Trail Blazers.

Here are the other players who have had games of at least 20 points and 20 rebounds this season:

  • Zach Randolph
  • DeMarcus Cousins
  • Joakim Noah (twice)
  • Dwight Howard
  • Nikola Vucevic (twice)
  • David Lee
  • Al Horford
  • Enes Kanter
  • Kevin Love
  • Tim Duncan
  • Dirk Nowitzki

That’s three future Hall of Famers (Howard, Nowitzki and Duncan), five players who were All-Stars this season (Randolph, Noah, Howard, Lee and Duncan), and a few of the most highly regarded young big men in the league (Cousins, Vucevic and Kanter). Not bad company for a role player like Evans to be in.

Jazz tweaking offensive gameplan?Anyone who has watched Utah over the last three seasons knows the game plan whether it was Jerry Sloan or the current coach, Ty Corbin, leading the squad: get the ball to Al Jefferson as early and as often as possible. While Jefferson is the Jazz’s leading scorer for the third straight season, Utah also fell out of the playoff chase thanks to a dismal start to March which included several road losses. Neither some nor all of those losses are Jefferson’s fault, but the Jazz have changed things up a bit of late on offense and it might be paying off as they have won three straight games, writes Bill Oram of The Salt Lake Tribune:

Jefferson took 23 shots on Wednesday. His role in the Jazz offense is not diminished. But is it changing?

That was the sense given by both Mo Williams and Paul Millsap following the Jazz’s 103-88 win over the Phoenix Suns. Jefferson finished with 25 points on 12-of-23 shooting, and he scored six of the team’s first 10 points to start the game. However, both Williams and Millsap said the Jazz have changed the offensive philosophy at beginnings of games, which could explain the fast starts in Monday’s win over Philadelphia and Wednesday.

Both nights, the Jazz made their first six shots.

“I think we got a little carried away with just coming down, starting the game, just throwing it down to Al, letting him work.” Millsap said. “It made it too tough on him, made it too tough on everybody else. It’s basically just getting everybody moving, moving the basketball around.”

Millsap said the Jazz’s focus needs to be “getting different options.”

Here’s Mo Williams’ explanation of what the Jazz are doing:

“I think we’re coming out and we’re running different stuff than we usually run. More and more pick and roll situations. We’re going to eventually go to Al — a lot. I think it’s better when we come out and we get some pick and rolls, which we have, and kind of getting Gordon going early, getting him in motion, getting some ball movement. Getting bodies moving, instead of just coming in and going to Al. The perimeter first shots or the jump shots, those are tough.”

ICYMI of the night: Check out the All Ball blog for a Horry Scale breakdown of this play, but what a great heartbreaking bucket by Jeff Green:


D-Will Stays Scorching, Hangs 31 Points On Cuban’s Mavericks

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DALLAS – Deron Williams swears he didn’t so much as wink at Mark Cuban seated baseline as the Brooklyn Nets point guard delivered a 31-point, six-assist wrecking ball to the Dallas Mavericks’ rapidly collapsing playoff chances.

A chip on his shoulder? Not if you believe Williams. Wednesday’s 113-96 win was just like any other his team badly needs. And after inflicting a world of hurt on Cuban and his club, Williams didn’t gloatingly tweet the Mavs owner a la Kobe Bryant, who went for 38 after being tweaked by the outspoken owner a couple of weeks ago.

No, the sharp stick to Cuban’s side was surprisingly wielded by interim head coach P.J. Carlesimo.

“I don’t know,” Carlesimo said when asked if Williams, who scored 26 points in the second half and 13 in the fourth quarter, carried a chip on his shoulder. “But, I’m sure [Williams] understands you’re not going to expect intelligent statements from Mark anyhow.”

Zing.

Williams spurned his hometown team last July as a free agent when he chose to re-sign with the Nets for a max deal of five years and $98 million. Afterward, Williams said he was surprised that Cuban, who was busy in Los Angeles filming the TV show “Shark Tank,” didn’t make the trip to New York to personally sell him on joining the Mavs. Williams said Cuban’s absence helped shape his decision to play in Brooklyn. Cuban responded by saying on a local radio program that his club is actually better off without Williams and the max deal he would have received weighing down the payroll.

“I always get up for the games at home because it’s home and given the situation,” Williams said, who came as close as any time previously of acknowledging a rift with Cuban by referencing ‘the situation.’ “Honestly, I just tried to attack it as a regular game. My thought process was the same today as it is any other game. I didn’t need anything special. It was just a regular game for us, but a big game for us.”

As the Mavs (32-36) limp away from a 14th home loss and the sour opening of a crucial six-game homestand dominated by East opponents, the Nets (40-28) skipped off to sunny Los Angeles for a couple of days of rest and practice before seeking a third consecutive victory on this brutal eight-game trek against the Clippers.

Williams, who hails from a Dallas suburb about 25 miles from the American Airlines Center, is playing his best basketball of the season, rejuvenated from an All-Star break cocktail of platelet-rich plasma therapy, juice cleanser and cortisone shots into both his ailing ankles.

He’s put up 31 points in consecutive games and is averaging 23.9 ppg on 48 percent shooting since the break. Williams refused to talk about his health, offering only a smart-aleck answer when asked if he’s feeling as good as he has all season.

“I really appreciate your concern with my health,” Williams said. “I really do. Thank you.”

We’ll just have to trust the numbers, his teammates, his coach and what he’s telling his coach.

“I kept telling him I would get him out a minute or two in the second half,” said Carlesimo, who played Williams all but 52 seconds of the second half and 41 minutes in all. “And he goes, ‘Are you watching what’s going on out there? So, obviously we didn’t take him out until the the end. I’m not saying that’s as good as we can play, but that’s one of our best games obviously all year.”

Williams got needed help from center Brook Lopez, who matched the 38 points he scored last season in Dallas. Andray Blatche hit six of seven shots and scored all of his 14 points in the first half. Reggie Evans pulled down 22 rebounds in 32 minutes. Gerald Wallace came up with five steals. Joe Johnson dished five assists.

Unlike a few nights ago when the Nets failed to catch their cross-town rival in the East standings by being embarrassed on their home floor by the Atlanta Hawks, they turned up the defensive pressure and poured it on Dallas with 66 points in the second half. Williams and Lopez combined for 46.

With 14 games left and six to go on this so-far 2-0 road trip that Williams said will “define our season,” we are left to wonder where this team, that has mastered the bit of game-to-game inconsistency, will fare now that Williams is again playing like an All-Star.

When the fourth-place Nets finally return home on April 4, after also road-tripping through Portland, Denver, Utah and Cleveland, the No. 2 seed could be within their grasp or a first-round series at home could be falling through their fingers. Brooklyn is two games back of No. 2 Indiana and two games ahead of No. 5 Atlanta.

“This is a good trip for us at the right time,” Williams said. “It’ll define the season for us because we have some tough games ahead of us. We have a lot of days off, but we also have a lot of back-to-backs, which is tough. We’ve got to maintain focus for the rest of the trip and make sure that we don’t slip up.”

Shaqtin’ A Fool: Vol 2., Episode 18


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It’s a Shaqtin’ A Fool double-header this week. On Tuesday, Shaq crowned his main man JaVale McGee with top honors and tonight Shaq returns to call out Reggie Evans, Serge Ibaka, Kemba Walker, Carmelo Anthony and of course, the one, the only … Mr. JaVale McGee! Vote for your favorite Shaqtin’ A Fool moment!

Clippers Top League’s Best Benches

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HANG TIME NEW JERSEY – After Thursday’s 90-77 win in Minnesota, the Los Angeles Clippers are now 3-0 without MVP candidate Chris Paul.

All three wins have come on the road against good teams, and in none of them have the Clippers required a huge performance from one of their other starters. In fact, Blake Griffin has averaged just 16.3 points in the three wins. Eric Bledsoe, starting in place of Paul, has done a decent job of running the team, but has totaled only 11 assists.

The Clippers won the three games — and won them all comfortably –for the same reason that Paul has been able to sit the entire fourth quarter in nine of the 37 games he’s played in: They have the best bench in basketball.

Here’s all you need to know about the Clippers’ bench and why they’re a much-improved team: Last season, the Clips were outscored by 11.6 points per 100 possessions when Griffin was on the bench. This year, they’re outscoring their opponents by 11.7 points per 100 possessions with Griffin on the bench.

That’s a 23.3-point turnaround and that’s really what it’s all about. A good bench should build on leads, not lose them. That’s why the Bulls’ bench was so good the last couple of years, even though it didn’t have anybody who could really score. When Omer Asik, Ronnie Brewer and Taj Gibson were on the floor together, the Bulls shut down foes and scored enough to build on the lead the starters gave them.

With that in mind, here are the best benches in the NBA …

L.A. Clippers

The Clips have a full, five-man bench unit that’s one of the best lineups in the league. In 243 minutes with Bledsoe, Jamal Crawford, Matt Barnes, Lamar Odom and Ronny Turiaf on the floor, L.A. is a plus-14.5 per 100 possessions.

Though Crawford is known for his offense, this is really a defensive unit that has only scored 102.8 points per 100 possessions, just a notch above the league average. But it has allowed only 88.3, making it the second-best defensive unit of the league’s 72 lineups that have played at least 100 minutes.

The question is how Grant Hill fits in. In Hill’s first game back, that unit only played six minutes together. And in the last three games, it hasn’t played together at all, though that may have more to do with Bledsoe starting.

Either way, it would be disappointing if coach Vinny Del Negro broke up such an effective unit. And it really could affect where the Clippers finish in the Western Conference standings.

San Antonio

Though Manu Ginobili has been neither healthy nor sharp, the Spurs’ bench continues to get the job done. It’s just tough to determine where the starters end and where the bench begins, because eight different guys have started at least nine games for San Antonio already. But coach Gregg Popovich‘s ability to mix-and-match lineups will little drop-off is part of what makes the Spurs’ bench so good.

The Spurs don’t have a full bench unit like the Clippers. Their latest starting unit is Tony Parker, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, Tim Duncan and Tiago Splitter. Their most-used lineup that includes at least three other Spurs has only played 38 minutes together, and that lineup includes Parker and Duncan.

This is why we’d rate the Spurs’ bench behind that of the Clippers. But San Antonio is still outscoring its opponents by a solid 5.7 points per 100 possessions with Duncan off the floor. That’s a very good thing. (more…)

Nets Still Have A Lot Of Work To Do

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HANG TIME NEW JERSEY – Who’s the only undefeated NBA team in 2013?

It’s the Brooklyn Nets, who are 4-0 in January and 6-1 under interim coach P.J. Carlesimo.

As it looks more and more like the Nets won’t be hiring a new coach any time soon, it’s looking more and more like Carlesimo deserves an extended stay on the bench anyway.

Five of the Nets’ six wins have come against teams — Charlotte, Cleveland, Washington, Sacramento and Philadelphia — with a combined record of 51-126. But their 17-point win in Oklahoma City pretty much legitimizes the run under Carlesimo.

The run has been mostly fueled by offense. The Nets have scored 109.5 points per 100 possessions under Carlesimo, the league’s second-best mark in the time he’s been coach.

Nets efficiency, 2012-13

Coach W L Pace Rank OffRtg Rank DefRtg Rank NetRtg Rank
Johnson 14 14 90.3 29 102.9 11 104.0 21 -1.1 16
Carlesimo 6 1 91.1 23 109.5 2 102.6 13 +6.9 5

Pace = Possessions per 48 minutes
OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
DefRtg = Points allowed per 100 possessions
NetRtg = Point differential per 100 possessions

There’s been a slight uptick in pace, a change that was needed and seems to be helping the offense. But it’s not like the Nets are flourishing on the break. They’re averaging 9.0 fast break points per game under Carlesimo after averaging 8.9 under Johnson.

They’ve had a bigger increase in second-chance points (14.1 to 15.9) because they’ve rebounded better. Increased minutes for Reggie Evans has played a part, but so has a more aggressive Brook Lopez. The center had an offensive rebounding percentage of 9.5 percent (2.4 offensive boards per game) under Johnson, but has pushed that up to 15.2 percent (3.3 offensive boards per game).

An additional offensive board per game isn’t a huge increase, but the little things can mean a lot, especially when they add up. In addition to rebounding better, the Nets are also getting to the rim a little more, getting to the line a little more and shooting a little better from the perimeter.

The improved shooting has come from the starting backcourt. Joe Johnson and Deron Williams have combined to take 2/3 of their shots from outside the paint this season. That’s not a good ratio, but both have improved dramatically from outside the paint under Carlesimo.

Joe Johnson shooting from outside the paint

Coach FGM FGA FG% %FGA EFG%
Johnson 109 286 38.1% 67.6% 47.9%
Carlesimo 32 73 43.8% 73.7% 54.8%

EFG% = (FGM + (0.5 * 3PM)) / FGA

Deron Williams shooting from outside the paint

Coach FGM FGA FG% %FGA EFG%
Johnson 80 252 31.7% 66.8% 40.5%
Carlesimo 25 59 42.4% 64.8% 54.2%

Williams’ career effective field goal percentage from outside the paint (47.4 percent) is right in the middle of the two marks above. So an improvement had to come at some point. Johnson’s career mark (46.8 percent) is much more in line with what he was shooting under Avery Johnson.

The good news is that the Nets are actually playing well with Williams on the floor. When they were 14-14, he was a minus-37 and they were much better defensively when he was on the bench. Under Carlesimo, the Nets are a plus-55 with Williams on the floor and are actually better defensively with him on the floor.

And here’s the issue with the Nets’ defensive improvement. They have rebounded a little better under Carlesimo and they’ve forced an extra 0.4 turnovers per 100 possessions. But they’ve also allowed their opponents to shoot better and get to the line more.

So how are they allowing 1.4 fewer points per 100 possessions? Well, their opponents are shooting just 68 percent from the free throw line against the Nets under Carlesimo after shooting 75 percent (the league average) against the Johnson-coached Nets.

Another concern from the Nets is the increased turnovers they’re committing. They’ve committed 16.4 under Carlesimo, the fourth-highest rate in the league in the two weeks he’s been coached.

Things are going well right now and with all the offensive talent the Nets have, they should be a top-five team on that end. But some of the ways the Nets are improving aren’t so sustainable, and more answers must be found on both ends of the floor.

Williams Makes Kidd-like Impact

BROOKLYN – Jason Kidd was not in the building when the Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks met for the first time ever at Barclays Center on Monday night. Dealing with back spasms, Kidd couldn’t make the trip across the bridge.

But Deron Williams was there, and he had a little Kidd in his game on this night, leading the Nets to a 96-89 overtime victory with a season-high 14 assists.

Williams admired Kidd growing up in Dallas, and when it comes to size and strength at the point guard position, there’s certainly a comparison to be made. But skill-wise, they’re pretty different. And when it comes to making brilliant, how-did-he-see-that-angle passes that set up teammates for easy buckets, nobody in the post-Magic era compares to Kidd.

On Monday, though, Williams had that (no pun intended) magic in his hands.

When he needs to shoot the ball, those hands have been failing Williams of late. Dealing with injuries to his wrist and elbow, he shot just 6-for-17 on Monday and has made just four of his last 25 3-point attempts.

His numbers were far from overwhelming on Monday. But the vision Williams showed — he had as many assists as the Knicks had as a team — more than made up for the errant shots. It was a close to a Kidd-like performance as you’re going to see from another point guard.

Eight of Williams’ 14 dimes were for buckets in the restricted area — high-percentage looks that helped the Nets accumulate 48 points in the paint in what was an offensive struggle at times. Williams found Brook Lopez in transition, Gerald Wallace cutting backdoor, Lopez rolling to the rim and Kris Humphries under the basket for an easy dunk. He even had one pass that was so good that Reggie Evans (17 field goal attempts in 239 minutes this season) had no choice but to put the ball in the basket.

A couple of Williams’ assists came on simple passes around the perimeter, but most were difficult, thread-the-needle dimes through traffic — the kind of highlights that Kidd would be proud of.

“He gift wraps buckets for me,” Lopez said afterward. “He makes my job so much easier.”

Perhaps, until he’s healthy and his shots are falling, Williams needs to be more of a distributor. He certainly has enough talent around him where he doesn’t need to carry much of the scoring load. And he also has the size to take point guards into the post and pick defenses apart from the low block, where many of his assists came from on Monday.

The atmosphere at Barclays Center for the first Brooklyn-New York game was electric. And though the winner of the game was not given a key to the city, it did have importance beyond the standings on Tuesday morning. Both these teams feel like they belong behind the Heat on the Eastern Conference contender list. And it’s games like this that will get them there.

It was one of 82, but Williams wasn’t afraid to admit that this one was a little special. And though Carmelo Anthony (35), Tyson Chandler (28) and Lopez (22) were the game’s leading scorers, it was Williams who made the biggest impact.

“Deron is a big-stage player,” Nets coach Avery Johnson said. “He really dominated the game.”

Knicks-Nets was always Kidd’s showcase. When he played in these games for New Jersey, he owned the Knicks and Madison Square Garden. The Nets were 23-4, including a postseason sweep in 2004, against New York with Kidd in uniform. He was (and still is) a special player on any given night, but you always got Hall-of-Fame-level Jason Kidd when the Knicks were the opponent.

Knicks-Nets has a whole new feel to it now that it’s a borough-vs-borough affair, and now that Kidd is wearing the blue and orange. And maybe it’s Williams’ time to make an impact on the rivalry. He got off to a pretty good start on Monday.

Flopping Fines Start Now

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY – So who’s going to be the first player to be officially warned by the league for a flopping violation?

Flopping penalties
Violation Penalty
Violation 1 Warning
Violation 2 $5,000 fine
Violation 3 $10,000 fine
Violation 4 $15,000 fine
Violation 5 $30,000 fine
Violation 6 Subject to discipline reasonable under the circumstances, including an increased fine and/or suspension.

In order to curtail flopping, the NBA has put a system in place to warn and fine players who disrespect the game by over-emphasizing contact. Flopping calls won’t be made on the court, but violations will be issued by a committee headed by the NBA’s executive vice president of basketball operations, Stu Jackson.

Here’s the official wording from the league and what will earn players a flopping violation…

“Flopping” will be defined as any physical act that appears to have been intended to cause the referees to call a foul on another player. The primary factor in determining whether a player committed a flop is whether his physical reaction to contact with another player is inconsistent with what would reasonably be expected given the force or direction of the contact.

Physical acts that constitute legitimate basketball plays (such as moving to a spot in order to draw an offensive foul) and minor physical reactions to contact will not be treated as flops.

The video above, including an absolutely hilarious example from Tony Parker, let’s you see what the league is talking about.

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Dirty Is As Dirty Does, NBA-Style Too

Team USA was shocked – shocked! – when Argentina point guard Facundo Campazzo turned Carmelo Anthony’s 3-point jump shot into a close-out cheap shot, hitting the New York Knicks’ shooter in the groin in the third quarter of the U.S. team’s 126-97 victory Monday at the 2012 London Olympics.

Puh-leeeze.

Frankly, the most shocking thing about the play and the furor it ignited in the moment and afterward was that Campazzo didn’t explain to reporters that he learned his technique by watching NBA global telecasts. Where better to learn some of the game’s dirtier tricks than from the those who not only have mastered them but elevated them to high art and, in some cases, deployed them all the way to Springfield, Mass.?

While Anthony briefly writhed on the floor, center Tyson Chandler, coach Mike Krzyzewski and others barked and glared at Campazzo and the Argentina team, including Suns forward Luis Scola. All of these guys, though, know their way around such cheap-shot maneuvers because those are prevalent, rampant even, in the league in which they play stateside. (Coach K? He had a guy who once stepped on a fallen player’s chest.)

Some of the greatest players in NBA history have been on the dark side of sainthood if an elbow here, a shove there or a slap where it really hurts could tilt defeat into triumph. Michael Jordan never met a rule he didn’t try to bend. Karl Malone and John Stockton were known to apply impact to opponents’ various nether regions, especially when cutting through the lane. And Tim Duncan and David Robinson were more than happy to win rings while teammate Bruce Bowen stepped repeatedly underneath descending shooters’ feet and ankles. (more…)

Shut up and make your free throws




OKLAHOMA CITY – Hack-a-Shaq. The Brazilian Whacks.

By any name, it provokes an immediate and emotional reaction.

Just ask Gregg Popovich.

“I hate it. It’s ugly,” said the Spurs coach. “But it’s within the rules and so I’ll use it.”

It’s the intentional foul, basketball’s version of stomping down hard on the brake and bringing a free flowing game to an immediate halt.

Popovich employed it in the previous round of the playoffs when he sent Clippers Blake Griffin and Reggie Evans to the foul line.

Scott Brooks of the Thunder pulled it out from under the bed in the third quarter of Game 2 when he had his team foul Tiago Splitter away from the ball on five straight possessions midway through the third quarter.

Splitter made a perfect split, hitting five of 10 free throws.

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