Posts Tagged ‘Sam Cassell’

Hakeem: Howard is ‘ready’ for an MVP-type season

Dwight Howard and Hakeem Olajuwon

Hakeem Olajuwon (left) has seen Dwight Howard’s game mature and grow of late. (Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images)

At least one former MVP doesn’t think it should have taken a broken bone in Kevin Durant’s foot to throw the 2015 MVP race wide open.

According to Hakeem Olajuwon, Dwight Howard was already prepared to kick the door down.

“He’s healthy. He’s strong. He’s ready,” said Olajuwon, who won the award in 1994 when he led the Rockets to the first of their back-to-back championships. “Now it’s about having the attitude to go out every night and dominate.”

The Hall of Famer officially rejoined his former team as a player development specialist after Howard signed a free agent contract with the Rockets in July 2013 and recently concluded his second training camp stint working with the All-Star center before returning to his home in Amman, Jordan. Prior to the start of camp, Olajuwon had not worked with Howard since the end of last season.

“He’s older, more mature and you can tell that he is feeling better physically,” Olajuwon said. “I like what I saw. He is a very hard worker. He takes the job seriously and you can see that he has used some of the things we talked about last season and is making them part of his game.”

Howard averaged 18.3 points, 12.2 rebounds and 1.8 blocked shots in his first season with the Rockets and Olajuwon thinks the 28-year-old was just scratching the surface as he regained fitness.

“It was a good start, but last year Dwight was still trying to recover from the back surgery and to feel like himself again,” said Olajuwon. “I think a lot of people don’t appreciate what it is like for an athlete to have a back injury. It is serious. It is a challenge.

“I could see last year when I worked with him in camp that there were some things that he could not do. Or they were things that he did not think he could do. The difference now is that he is fit and those doubts are gone. This is the player who can go back to being the best center in the league and the kind of player that can lead his team to a championship. I think he should be dominant at both ends of the floor.”

Olajuwon is the only player in NBA history to be named MVP of the regular season, Defensive Player of the Year and Finals MVP in the same season when he led the Rockets in 1994 and pulled the wagon again as Finals MVP when Houston repeated in 1995. He and Michael Jordan are the only players to win all three awards in their career.

Olajuwon doesn’t believe there is any reason the Rockets, who finished as the No. 4 seed in the West and were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by Portland last spring, should fall back, even with the departure of rotation players Chandler Parsons, Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik.

“They have Dwight and they have James Harden,” he said. “That is two of the best players at their positions in the league. Those two can lead. Those two can do enough. You don’t need to have All-Stars at every position.

“The Rockets will need good play from some young players and from others who will be getting their chance to be key players for the first time in their careers. But when we won our first championship in 1994, we had Sam Cassell, who was a rookie, playing at the end of games and making a difference. When we won in 1995, we had Clyde (Drexler). But we also had Pete Chilcutt in the starting lineup and Chucky Brown and Charles Jones stepping up off the bench.

“When you have Howard and Harden, you have two players who can do much of the scoring. What you need are others to not try to do too much. Just concentrate on doing your job and coming to play every night.”

It begins and ends with Howard.

“We all know that center is the key position in the game,” Olajuwon said. “Everything should go through you — offense and defense and the right mentality. If the center is thinking about dominating, the team can go far, can go all the way.

“I played at a time when were so many players that could win the MVP each year — Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Charles Barkley, Karl Malone. It meant you weren’t going to win the MVP every year. But you had to play like an MVP and have your name in the conversation. I believe that’s where Dwight is now. He is healthy. He is physically fit. He is strong. He wants to win.

“It is about attitude. He should have a season that makes everyone vote for him as MVP. If that happens, they should be contenders for the championship. I believe that. Now they have to believe it.”


VIDEO: Hakeem Olajuwon schools Dwight Howard on post moves back in 2010

Wizards’ culture shift in full swing


VIDEO: Glen Rice Jr. ties the game with a 3-pointer from the corner for the Washington Wizards

LAS VEGAS — That breakthrough season and playoff run was just the beginning for the Washington Wizards.

That flash we saw from the John Wall and Bradley Beal-led Wizards in the Eastern Conference semifinals is still going strong into both free agency and here in the Samsung NBA Summer League, where youngsters like Glen Rice Jr. and Otto Porter Jr. are busy doing work with their veteran peers keeping a watchful eye.

Wall and Beal were in attendance at the Thomas and Mack Center Saturday night when Rice went off for 36 points in a triple-overtime win over the San Antonio Spurs. Veteran free agent Al Harrington is working the sidelines as a volunteer assistant under Wizards assistant Sam Cassell, keeping his finger on the pulse of a team whose culture shift is clearly in full swing after years of building to this point.

“We’re trying to get our hands on that trophy,” a smiling Harrington said after the win over the Spurs. “It’s just a good vibe all around since the season ended. All of our guys, the young guys and the older guys, are grinding and trying to get to that next level. Everybody recognizes the opportunity that is staring us in the face and we have to be ready. Everybody has to be ready.”

In a summer that began with the Wizards making the first big splash by keeping free-agent center Marcin Gortat on $60 million deal, the hits have kept on coming for this crew. Trevor Ariza and Trevor Booker departed in free agency, but  Wizards boss Ernie Grunfeld went to work and rebounded by acquiring former Finals MVP Paul Pierce on a two-yer deal and veteran big men Kris Humprhies and DeJuan Blair in sign-and-trade deals to bolster the bench.

And for anyone dismissing the moves — the Pierce deal in particular, due to the mileage Pierce has piled up over the course of his stellar career — his coach in Brooklyn last season, believes the Wizards have taken a major step forward this summer with the acquisition of these veterans.

“Washington got better,” Kidd told reporters here last week. “You’ve got a veteran guy who understands what it means to be a professional, comes to work every day and understand what it takes to win a championship. … He won’t have any problems [fitting with the Wizards]. He’ll be fine.”

The Wizards will be, too, based on the busy work they have done this summer. Teams either get better or worse with their offseason work. Staying the course, for anyone other than the champion Spurs, simply doesn’t work.

“It’s just a matter of the process of getting better,” Kidd said. “You see that with Gortat coming back. The backcourt is very talented. So they lose a player, a piece, but they’re not afraid to go out and get a player that can help them. They’re going to be one of the top teams in the East.”

That’s the plan. Harrington said that was the vision of all involved when the season ended. They felt like they let the Pacers off the hook in the playoffs. “Trust me, it won’t happen again,” he said. “Our guys are better now because of what we learned about ourselves in that series.”

LeBron James heading home to Cleveland leaves a void at the top of the Southeast Division. And much like the work the Wizards’ summer league squad is putting in to capture top honors, when the regular season begins the varsity crew will battle for the No. 1 spot with the Heat, Atlanta Hawks and Charlotte Hornets.

“It’s there for the taking,” Harrington said. “You see the way we are working now in the middle of the summer. We changed the culture. And now we’re feeding the beast, making sure everybody knows what goes on when the lights come on in the regular season. We need [Rice Jr.] and Otto ready to go from the start. Our depth is going to be our strength. It’s go time from the first day of training camp.”

Specialness Of Finals Sinks In For Duncan

 

MIAMI – His hair is more closely shorn now and, if he did let it grow, probably would show some gray. He’s actually leaner than he was way back when, thanks to an offseason diet-and-workout tweak to benefit his knees and his general odometer.

So yeah, Tim Duncan is older now even if his game, so grounded in fundamentals, seems relatively unchanged. Duncan’s perspective has grown up with him – the first time he participated in The Finals, in 1999, he was a 23-year-old kid, two years removed from college, and for all he knew, the San Antonio Spurs would keep showing up and winning titles through his career.

Actually, they kind of did for a while – Duncan got back in 2003, 2005 and 2007, by which time his status as a future Hall of Famer was secure. But it’s been six years since he and his team last stepped onto this stage. And the fellow who routinely brushes off talk of his legacy admitted that, y’know, it does feel good to be back.

“It’s felt like a long time,” Duncan told reporters after the Spurs’ practice Friday morning at AmericanAirlines Arena. “Yeah, I definitely appreciate being back out here, to see The Finals banners all around and to see the patch on the jersey and all those little things. The last couple of days it’s really been sinking in.

“I really do appreciate it more now, having been gone so long.”

How long? If San Antonio manages to wrest the 2013 championship away from Miami – it got started with its Game 1 victory Thursday – Duncan would become only the second player in NBA history to win rings in three different decades (John Salley is the other).

And as Fox Sports Florida’s Chris Tomasson also noted, Duncan would wind up with 14 years between his first and his most recent title. That would tie him for third place on the NBA’s all-time list with Sam Cassell. Robert Parish spaced 16 seasons between his first and his final ring, while Kareem Abdul-Jabbar holds the mark for biggest championship spread at 17 (1971 with Milwaukee, 1988 with the Lakers).

Heat Stars Ready For Milwaukee Return





MIAMI – If anyone on the Miami Heat roster knows what to expect at the Bradley Center for Games 3 and 4 against of their first round playoff series against the Milwaukee Bucks it’s Dwyane Wade and Ray Allen.

They’ve got intimate knowledge of the place, both of having been in the building when it’s an emotional power keg, when the hometown fans are cranked up and caught up in the atmosphere of a big game.

They’ll be on the other side this time, though, wearing the wrong colored jerseys for Game 3 Thursday night (7 ET, TNT). But that doesn’t change the fact that these games serve as a homecoming of sorts for these Heat stars whose careers took off in “Brew City.”

Wade came to town as an unheralded Marquette recruit and left a lottery pick, beloved by the locals as the star who helped restore a once proud program to national prominence. His college jersey hangs in the rafters of the arena, one of the retired numbers of the greats to have called the city home at some point.

Allen’s future Hall of Fame career started in Milwaukee, he played the first six and a half seasons of his career with the Bucks, helped them to the Eastern Conference finals in 2001 and earned three trips to the All-Star game as a Buck before being traded to Seattle in February of 2003.

“I went to Milwaukee with not a lot of expectations and I came out of Milwaukee the fifth pick of the Draft,” Wade said. “Milwaukee has been special to me. It has helped me get to this point. Going back there in the playoffs is a cool thing. It’s very humbling (having his jersey retired). Every time I look up there, I think about how far I have come. It’s special to be able to play in an arena where your jersey hangs.” (more…)

Live Blog: All-Star Saturday Night





HOUSTON — State Farm All-Star Saturday night is minutes away from lift off. Nick Cannon and Rob Nice are hosting the in-arena festivities.

I don’t know what everyone else came to see, but for me, All-Star Saturday night is always about the finale. It’s a chance for someone to etch their name in All-Star lore with a mercurial performance in the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest, much like that fella wearing No. 23 above did back in 1987.

Some of the All-Stars made their own predictions, several of them, assuming that James “Flight” White will rise above the crowd and do the most damage on his way to the title.

But first up we have the Sears Shooting Stars competition. I’m going with Team [James] Harden and the hometown advantage (he’s rolling with Sam Cassell, a man anyone would want on their team requires you to make clutch shots. (Team Westbrook should be dangerous, though, with Robert Horry and Maya Moore rocking with Russell Westbrook.)

– 8:37 — Team Westbrook handled business with the fastest time at 29.5 seconds. Team Harden kicked it off with a 37.9 as the West finished their business.

– 8:44 — Dominique Wilkins still has the touch. Knocks down the 3-ball for Team Bosh. They needed 50 seconds to finish, though.

– 8:45 – What’s up with Brook Lopez shooting 3-pointers like free throws? 1:07 for Team Lopez.  The East is down 20-0 going into the championship.

– 8:47 – So much for prediction. Team Bosh and Team Westbrook squaring advance and ready to square off in the championship round.

– 8:52 – I root for Swin Cash in whatever she does. Too bad she’s stuck on a team with Bosh and ‘Nique instead of say, myself and John Schuhmann … 1:29 for them in the championship round. The pressure is on Team Westbrook.)

– 8:54 – Team Westbrook can’t get it done. Team Bosh gets the win and Nique gets the MVP for knocking down both of his team’s half court shots. As my man Randy Moss would say, Straight (Swin) Cash Homie!

– 8:56 – Team Bosh collects the first hardware of the night in the Sears Shooting Stars. Nique is feeling good. Says he wants in on the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest, too. (I’m kidding.)

– 8:58 – Gold medal winners from London, both men and women, getting some love on the big stage between events.

TACO BELL SKILLS CHALLENGE

– 9:03 – Sounds like the dude from the Price is Right is reading off the rules for this event. I’m ignoring him and checking the shoe game of the contestants. Jeremy Lin kicks are wicked. Need to see an up-close shot.

– 9:05 – Hawks guard Jeff Teague clocks a 49.4, couldn’t get his passes or his 3-pointer from the top of the arc down. And he had the nerve to blow his final shot, going for the layup instead of the dunk. Later son.

– 9:06 – Pistons guard Brandon Knight learns from Teague’s mistakes and finishes with a dunk and a 32.2.

– 9:08 – Sixers guard Jrue Holiday rocks it with a 29.3. Made it look effortless. One of my favorite young players in the league. West has to beat 1:50.9 to topple the East in the contest.

– 9:12 – Jeremy Lin finishes in 35.8 but could have finished faster. He was stylin’ for the home crowd.

– 9:13 – Damian Lillard rips the course in the fastest time of the night so far, 28.8.

– 9:15 – Defending champ Tony Parker bows out with a 48.7. The East picks up 30 points thanks to Lin and Parker. Knight and Lillard move on to the championship round.

–9:17 – Alicia Keys gets some jumbotron love (she’s sitting next to Spike Lee). She looks marvelous, of course. We need to get her to do a theme song, “Hang Time is on fire!”

– 9:20 – Holiday with a 35.6, but Lillard snags a 29.8 for the win, 10 more points for the West and a trophy to go alongside that T-Mobile Rookie of the Year trophy he’s going to get in a few months. Well done young fella, the first rookie to win the event.

– 9:24 – East leads the west 40-30 after two events. They are playing for $500,000 in cash for charity.

FOOT LOCKER THREE-POINT CONTEST NEXT

– 9:32 – I had no idea this Phillip Phillips cat (or band, I’m not sure) sang this song. That’s my jam. I don’t watch American Idol, though, so I didn’t connect the dots. He smashed that performance.

– 9:35 – Steph Curry just warmed up from the corner rack and knocked down the first four without even looking at the basket. Ridiculous. Save some for the contest fella!

– 9:40 – Curry started slow but finished like … well, a Curry. He nets 17 points and Ryan Anderson is up next. He goes off from the start but struggles at the end, finishing with 18. Matt Bonner closes out the order for the West. His shooting stroke is awkward. But he finishes with 19 points, for a total teams score of 54.

– 9:46 – These Knicks kid reporters have stolen the show, clowning everyone and Nick Cannon on the big stage. You gotta love the kids.

– 9:52 – Kyrie Irving forgot to take his warm up shirt off and still finished with 18. And as you might expect, he knocked down his money ball on the last rack to beat the buzzer. Paul George is up next. Love this cat but he’s in the wrong contest. Maybe he meant to sign up for the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest? Steve Novak has to make up for PG’s 10. Novak finishes with 17 and the West wins the 40 points. Bonner and Irving for the title. Who picked those two for the final round? I had Curry and Novak. I’m done with the prediction business tonight.

– 10:02 – Kyrie just put on a show. Knocked down eight of his first nine and 17 of his first 18 shots before finishing with 23, two shy of the record. He even got LeBron James up out of his seat during his wicked stretch. Kid is on his championship grind. Bonner goes for 20. The Cavaliers might still be a lottery team but at least they’ve got Kyrie!

SPRITE SLAM DUNK CONTEST IS ON DECK

– 10:07 – Fall Out Boy is on stage and they must be from Chicago because they are wearing their Jordan throwbacks. Rock stars love skinny jeans and tattoos more than NBA youngsters. Now they’ve got 2 Chainz up here with them and he’s singing the hook after doing his rap verse. The Sprite Slam Dunk Contest participants come out while they remain on stage.

– 10:16 – Rudy Tomjanovich, Dikembe Mutombo, Yao Ming, Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler are the judges tonight. Houston’s hoops Mt. Rushmore?

– 10:20 – Houston’s own Gerald Green kicks off the contest with a perfect 50 on his first dunk, a reverse tomahawk dunk where he had to duck his head or risk a concussion after he bumped his head on the rim. Crazy!!!!!!!!!!!!!

– 10:22 – James “Flight” White with the 45 on the two-handed runaway dunk from a step inside the free throw line. He missed his first attempt. Had he made it, the 50 would have been a lock.

– 10:24 – Terrence Ross gets an A for persistence, finally making a behind-the-back 180 after five misses. That was generous for a dude who missed that many dunks.

– 10:26 – Kenneth Faried nets a 39 for a 360 off-the-backboard dunk that looked way better on the replay than it did in real time.

– 10:28 – Eric Bledsoe missed his more aggressive between-the-legs dunk four times before opting for something a little easier to complete. He matched Faried’s 39.

– 10:29 – Jeremy Evans bags a 47 with an assist from Mark Eaton, he jumped over the big man’s head while the former Jazz center was sitting and holding a ball.

– 10:31 – Kevin Hart and Cannon are doing their stand up routine while clowning the All-Star’s baby pictures. I’m going home and burning every baby picture in the house!

Round 2

– 10:35 – Flight White’s inability to dribble the ball up the floor is going to cost him the title. He’s got all the hops in the world. But he has to go back to the lab and work on the handles. He botched his second dunk attempt and during the allotted 90 seconds and ended up missing his one untimed attempt. That 32 should end his night.

– 10:40 – Green just cut the nets out and is attempting to dunk it twice. Loving the idea. But this is a tough one, even for the cupcake dunker. And now we have to wait for someone to find the replacement nets for this rim. He timed out as well and then missed his untimed attempt for a matching 32. Somebody get Nique some shoes.

– 10:45 – Ross only needs a 33 to represent the East. Just do something normal and you are in. Hang time … he’s got a 49 and moves into the final. There is going to be some serious complaining about this format.

– 10:47 – Faried with a 50 for his between the legs jam after just two steps. Is it me or do the 50s get tossed around rather liberally these days.

– 10:48 – Bledsoe with a 50 of his own for the sick reverse windmill off the bounce.

– 10:49 – Evans dunks two balls but with no authority whatsoever, collects his 43 and advances from the West. There won’t be a whole lot of debating about what went on here.

– 10:53 – Judging by the looks on the faces of former dunk champions sitting around the floor, they’re not impressed with what they have seen tonight. Power used to be a dunk contest staple. Now the apparent degree of difficulty has trumped raw power. I’m trying to be diplomatic tonight. I’m going to need some time to digest what we’ve seen tonight before I start shredding these performances.

DUNK FINAL ROUND

– 10:56 – Evans goes over a the cloaked painting of himself jumping over a cloaked painting of himself dunking and then he signs it. Nice touch but I’d have been more impressed if he snatched the cloak off the painting on his way up.

– 10:58 – Ross throws down a grimy leaning reverse jam that Rockets forward Terrence Jones bounced off the side of the backboard. Arguably the second best dunk of the night behind Green’s first attempt in Round 1.

– 11:01 — Evans has outlandish hops. Jumping over Dahntay Jones and doing his own version of the Jumpman pose showed off just how ridiculous his vertical is folks. RIDICULOUS!

– 11:03 – Ross trumps him with a between-the-legs, jump over the ball boy dunk that should seal the crown for the Raptors rookie.

– 11:06 – Ross takes the title. He made up for his rough start to the competition by bring out his best when it matter most. The West won the night, though, finishing with 140 points to the East’s 125.

Let the debate rage on about the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest, though. Because no one leaves the Toyota Center tonight feeling like we saw the absolute best of the best ply their trade in this contest. Someone out there, someone hungry and creative, needs to step up. MJ and Nique aren’t walking through that door!

Green And White Fly Slam Dunk Colors






HANG TIME, Texas — The last time James White and Gerald Green were in a slam dunk contest together, they practically blew the roof off with a 2010 Russian Cup performance that’s become a YouTube cult classic.

So perhaps it is fitting that they will be comrades along with Terrence Ross, representing the Eastern Conference in the 2013 Sprite Slam Dunk Contest, as State Farm All-Star Saturday Night includes an overall team format for the first time.

White, Green and Ross will square off against the Western Conference threesome of Jeremy Evans, Eric Bledsoe and Kenneth Faried.

Evans, the 6-foot-9 forward from the Jazz, will be looking to defend the individual title that he won a year ago at Orlando.

The Pacers’ 6-foot-8 Green won the event in 2007 at Las Vegas when he leaped over a table to dunk in the final round to beat out Dwight Howard and finished runner-up to Howard in 2008 despite a crowd-pleasing first-round dunk where he blew out the candle on a cupcake that was sitting on the back of the rim.

State Farm All-Star Saturday Night, an all-inclusive skills showcase, will take place on Feb. 16 at the Toyota Center in Houston and will be televised live by TNT at 8 p.m. ET.

Two of the league’s long-range shooters — Stephen Curry of the Warriors and Steve Novak of the Knicks — will lead opposing teams in the Foot Locker Three-Point Contest. Curry’s West teammates will be Ryan Anderson of the Hornets and Matt Bonner of the Spurs. Joining Novak on the East team will be Kyrie Irving of the Cavaliers and Paul George of the Pacers.

It’s worth noting that Novak will be returning to the Toyota Center court where he broke into the NBA with the Rockets in 2006, while the league’s top 3-point percentage shooter — Kyle Korver of the Hawks — will not take part. But Anderson has the most 3-pointers this season.

The Taco Bell Skills Challenge will have Texans Tony Parker of the Spurs and Jeremy Lin of the Rockets joining forces with Trail Blazers rookie Damian Lillard for the West against the Hawks’ Jeff Teague, the Sixers’ Jrue Holiday and the Bucks Brandon Jennings.

The Sears Shooting Stars Competition, which features NBA players, WNBA players and NBA legends, will have James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Tina Thompson, Maya Moore, Robert Horry and Sam Cassell of the West taking on an East team of Brook Lopez, Chris Bosh, Swin Cash, Tamika Catchings, Dominique Wilkins and Muggsy Bogues.

As part of the new format, points earned by each conference throughout the four All-Star Skills Competitions will determine the conference that earns the title of 2013 State Farm All-Star Saturday Night champion. Dwyane Wade of the Heat will serve as the East team captain and the Clippers’ Chris Paul will lead the West.

In addition, NBA Cares and State Farm will make a joint donation of $500,000 as part of the event, with $350,000 going to the winning conference’s charities and $150,000 to the runner-up conference’s charities. All of the charities will be selected by the conference captains, the NBA, and State Farm.

In drafting players for Team Chuck and Team Shaq in the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge, Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal went in opposite directions with their top picks. Shaq built his foundation on the high-scoring backcourt of Irving and Lillard, while Barkley went for big men in Anthony Davis and Faried.

The 62nd NBA All-Star Game will be played on Feb. 17, at the Toyota Center.

More History Awaits As Lakers Visit Celts

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HANG TIME NEW JERSEY – The craziest thing about the Los Angeles Lakers’ struggles this season is that the Boston Celtics have been dealing with very similar issues. The two franchises with the most NBA championships have been this season’s two most disappointing teams.

At this point in the season, both the Celtics and Lakers are going through what may be the most adversity they’ve faced yet. Boston has lost Rajon Rondo and Jared Sullinger for the season. L.A. has been without Dwight Howard for the last three games and just lost Pau Gasol for an extended period with a torn plantar fascia.

Yet, both teams are playing their best basketball of the season. The Celtics have gone 5-0 without their point guard, while the Lakers have won six of their last seven.

So it’s a great time for these two teams to meet tonight (8 ET, TNT) for the first time. The Lakers, still three games out of a playoff spot, have more on the line. But the Celtics can move up a spot to seventh (avoiding the Heat in the first round would probably be a good thing) in the Eastern Conference standings and surely would love to knock off their cross-country rivals.

When these two teams met in Boston two seasons ago on TNT, Ray Allen made history by passing Reggie Miller for the most 3-pointers in NBA history. And on Thursday, we’re going to see another milestone for a man in green.

Kevin Garnett is six points away from being the 16th player in league history to score 25,000 career points. Garnett’s scoring average has dipped quite a bit over the last five years, but he still ranks second on the all-time list among active players.

Most career points, active players

Rank Player G PTS PPG
5 Kobe Bryant 1,210 30,834 25.5
16 Kevin Garnett 1,303 24,994 19.2
18 Dirk Nowitzki 1,075 24,427 22.7
21 Paul Pierce 1,073 23,479 21.9
22 Ray Allen 1,193 23,424 19.6
24 Tim Duncan 1,154 23,300 20.2
30 Vince Carter 1,034 21,750 21.0
37 LeBron James 735 20,279 27.6
42 Antawn Jamison 1,028 19,590 19.1
71 Jason Kidd 1,357 17,385 12.8

The 10 guys listed above have all scored in different ways. Garnett has been Mr. Mid-range, attempting 52 percent of his shots from between the paint and the 3-point line, the highest rate of the group.

Garnett has never been a traditional big man and has always attempted about half of his shots from mid-range. But over the last two seasons (strangely coinciding with his move from power forward to center), that number has been at 58 percent.

Of the group above, only Antawn Jamison has had a higher percentage of his shots assisted. Since the 1996-97 season (his second year), Garnett has been assisted on more than 68 percent of his buckets, by 101 different teammates.

Most assists to Garnett since 1996-97

Player FGM
Rajon Rondo 878
Terrell Brandon 485
Paul Pierce 454
Sam Cassell 372
Wally Szczerbiak 370

Among the players with exactly one assist to Garnett are former Celtics Rasheed Wallace and Brian Scalabrine. TNT analyst Shaquille O’Neal had exactly four assists to KG.

Because he spent 12 seasons with the Minnesota Timberwolves, Garnett has scored his most points against Western Conference opponents. The Lakers are currently fifth on the list, but could be third by the end of the night.

Kevin Garnett, most points by opponent

Opponent GP PTS PPG
Sacramento 57 1,184 20.8
Golden State 55 1,137 20.7
L.A. Clippers 55 1,088 19.8
Houston 54 1,073 19.9
L.A. Lakers 55 1,072 19.5

 

Flip Flops, Takes Fall For Grunfeld





There were no Cadillac Eldorados or steak knives to be had, a la “Glengarry Glen Ross.” In the ruthless world of the NBA, at least as it pertained to the woeful Washington Wizards Tuesday morning, there was only third prize: You’re fired.

Oh, and fourth prize: You’re hired. As the interim replacement for coach Flip Saunders, terminated after a 2-15 start in his third season with Washington. Assistant Randy Wittman will take over for the rest of the season in a move that figures to bring more aggravation to Wittman than change to the Wizards’ failing, flailing culture.

This move was, of course, only a matter of time in coming. When I wrote this earlier this month about Saunders and the dysfunctional team that soon would cost him his job, I didn’t even have the confidence to wait for Washington to come to me in Chicago; I jumped on it a day early because the ax seemed that ready to fall. Two weeks later, it did, a 2-7 mark since then and looking little different from the disarray, lack of purpose and absence of development that preceded it.

The Wizards — especially Andray Blatche, Nick Young, JaVale McGee and increasingly John Wall — seem like raw, incorrigible talent, oblivious to the value of coaching, committed only to their knucklehead ways. They knew that Saunders was a dead man walking, whether he stayed or went, because they had tuned him out. There are no old heads on the roster, no veterans both respected enough and involved enough to act as the coaches’ trustees in that locker room. (more…)

Rubio ‘Heats’ up chilly Target Center

 

HANG TIME MIDWEST BUREAU — Sombreros are wrong on a couple of levels. First, it’s a little shaky to reduce anyone’s ethnic heritage to an article of clothing and a clichéd one at that. (There, HTB’s political correctness obligation is officially met.)

Second, and more pertinent, the big, floppy brimmed hats that dotted Target Center Friday night are a product of Mexico. Ricky Rubio is an import from Spain.

But a little misdirected enthusiasm – along with the “Ole! Ole!” calls – was understandable given the excitement and the circumstances Friday night in Minneapolis. Rubio, the much ballyhooed No. 5 pick from the 2009 NBA draft for whom Timberwolves fans had waited two years, had the locals en fuego and the mighty Miami Heat in trouble. For a while, anyway, in the Heat’s 103-101 victory.

In only his third NBA game, Rubio scored 12 points with 12 assists and six rebounds – the first Minnesota player with a stats line like that since Sam Cassell in 2004. He ran the Wolves’ attack in nearly 31 minutes off the bench. Hit a pair of 3-point shots among his 4-of-7 shooting. Dazzled the joint several times with uncanny, casual reckless (for most guys, at least) passes that generally found their marks – except for that costly fling past Wayne Ellington, out of bounds, in the final minutes. It was one of Rubio’s five turnovers.

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The New Look Celtics?

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Posted by Sekou Smith

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – A rematch is the easy box to place these NBA Finals in after the 2008 title chase won by the Celtics in six games.

Not exactly, warns the Prime Minister, who pointed out a major difference in the Celtics now compared to a two years ago.

Sure, that 2008 Celtics team was led by the Big Three of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen. But the supporting cast was led by veterans Sam Cassell and P.J. Brown. They were the ones that provided the glue work that kept things together for the Celtics throughout the playoffs and particularly against the Lakers in the Finals.

Fast forward to Thursday night and ask yourself if you believed that Nate Robinson, Glen Davis and Tony Allen would play critical roles for a team trying to win a second NBA title in three years?

I know it sounds crazy. It sounded the same way when we started bouncing the idea around here at the hideout (prior to our Memorial Day grill-a-thon that will commence this afternoon or whenever the rain stops).

Viewed by most people (including most of us around here) as an elderly outfit that is swinging their sword for basically one last time, the Celtics have a decidedly different look when you strap on your BluBlockers and really study their moving parts.

They’ve certainly relied on their youngsters (Rajon Rondo is included in that group) during this Finals run. Robinson’s 13-point outburst in the first half of Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals (below) was the difference in the Celtics leading at the half in a game that, had it gone any other way, might have cost them this opportunity to snag banner No. 18.

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The Celtics have two veterans (Rasheed Wallace and Michael Finley) I suspect will be called upon for major contributions in the Finals, so maybe we’ve seen the last of Robinson. And perhaps Tony Allen and Davis won’t need to perform any superhuman feats this time around.

But this idea that the Celtics are the Geritol Gang is pretty misguided.

They’ve had a steady flow of contributions from their youngsters this season. Whether that continues or not, remains to be seen. But you can be sure that Celtics coach Doc Rivers will push every button he can to get his team going.

Rivers was the one that promised Robinson when they traded for him that he’d help them win a playoff game at some point, a point he reiterated after that cosmic performance in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals:

“I told him I loved him, and I told him at some point it was going to happen for him,’’ Rivers said. “And it was all up to him to stay engaged. And he did. I get no credit out of this. Nate Robinson stayed focused in 30-straight-whatever games without playing, and stayed focused. And to me, that is more important than anything he’s done tonight.’’

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