Posts Tagged ‘Shawne Williams’

L.A.’s Stunning Role Reversal


VIDEO: Lakers at Bucks, Dec. 31, 2013

HANG TIME SOUTHWEST – Happy New Year, Mike D’Antoni. A”We Want Phil” chant, however silly, percolated through Staples Center in L.A. on Tuesday as the glamorous-turned-anonymous Lakers faded to black again in an ugly loss to the now seven-win Milwaukee Bucks.

Total bummer of a New Year’s Eve party.

Former Lakers coach Phil Jackson, of course, wouldn’t touch this sinking M*A*S*H unit with a bionic-kneed Andrew Bynum. At this point, any talk of the league’s worst teams has to include the purple and gold, who are 13-19, have lost six in a row (half of those by an average of 17 points) and show no sign of snapping back any time soon.

How could they snap back? Consider D’Antoni’s starting five in the 94-79 loss to Milwaukee: Jordan Farmar (who tore his left hamstring in the game and will miss a month), Jodie Meeks, Nick Young, Shawne Williams and Pau Gasol. His available bench was limited to: Jordan Hill, Ryan Kelly, Kendall Marshall, Robert Sacre and Chris Kaman (who has fallen so far he couldn’t even get in the game).

Look at it this way: These unidentifiable Lakers are closer to last-place Utah than to eighth-place Dallas in the Western Conference standings. That gap will either shrink or grow Friday night when the Lakers welcome the Jazz (10:30 p.m. ET, League Pass) – who, ahem, just beat L.A. in Salt Lake City a week ago.

When these two teams meet Friday, the most exciting player on the floor just might be Utah rookie point guard Trey Burke, who’s quietly making a major move in the Rookie of the Year race. No offense to the impressive Burke, but that’s how far the mighty Lakers have plummeted: A rookie on the opposing team — a team with 10 wins — is the most exciting player on the floor.

With Dwight Howard in Houston after turning his back on the Lakers in free agency, Kobe Bryant on the sidelines again with a fractured knee, Steve Nash still plotting some way to get back on the floor and Pau Gasol sniffling through recurring physical and emotional trauma, the Lakers’ star power is flickering like a faulty neon sign.

The Clippers, once known as the “other” L.A. team, are another story altogether.

We may never truly understand all the reasons that prompted outgoing commissioner David Stern, acting as the de facto head of the league-owned New Orleans Hornets two years ago, to veto the Chris Paul-to-the-Lakers trade.

(Stern said in a statement shortly after the December 2011 trade that he nixed it “in the best interests of the Hornets” and that he decided, without influence from other owners, that “the team was better served with Chris in a Hornets uniform than by the outcome of the terms of that trade.”)

But by now, we certainly grasp how drastically that decision altered both franchises’ outlooks. Remember, the Lakers thought they had Kobe’s future sewn up: CP3 in a deal that shipped out Gasol and Lamar Odom, followed by getting Dwight in a deal for Bynum. It’s hard to imagine a Kobe-CP3-D12 trio going up in flames like last season’s Howard-Kobe-Nash gathering did. Or like this season’s team has. The Lakers were 10-9 without Kobe to start this season and have gone 3-10 since his brief return and subsequent exit.

The Clippers (22-12) haven’t been nearly as consistent as coach Doc Rivers would like. But they are fourth in the West playing without injured sharpshooter J.J. Redick. They have won seven of their last 10. They’ll try to move 11 games over .500 Friday night at Dallas (8:30 p.m. ET, League Pass).

Off the court, the Clippers have been even better. Every second commercial on TV has Paul selling insurance with his equally assisting faux-twin brother Cliff, or a white-caped Blake Griffin saving us all from buying a lame automobile.

Meanwhile, the best news about the Lakers, off the court, is what they’re trying to do to fix their on-court woes. They are paying about $6 million more in payroll this season than their co-tenants, with close to $50 million wrapped up in Kobe and Gasol. The rest of the roster accounts for nearly $30 million. It’s why a rumored Gasol-for-Bynum swap with the Cleveland Cavaliers — followed by waiving Bynum — would be so attractive to Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak. It would wipe out millions in salary and costly luxury tax from the Lakers’ 2013-14 slate.

Whether that happens or not won’t change the Lakers’s fortunes any time soon. They’ll still be the talk of L.A. They are, after all, still the Lakers.

But until further notice, the star-studded Clips carry the bigger stick.


VIDEO: Bobcats at Clippers, Jan. 1, 2014

Kobe Will Help, Farmar Injury Hurts


VIDEO: The GameTime crew discusses the latest on Kobe

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY – Kobe Bryant is getting closer to his return. Barring a big surprise, it won’t come Friday in Sacramento, but he hasn’t ruled out playing Sunday against Toronto (9:30 p.m. ET, NBA TV). Sunday Lakers games against the Raptors obviously bring back great memories.

Some thought Bryant would return for the start of the season. Some thought he’d be back around Christmas. Few thought the Lakers would win nine games in his absence.

They’ve won nine games with Steve Nash barely contributing and with Pau Gasol shooting a career-low 42 percent. In addition to Gasol, Steve Blake is the only Laker to have started all 18 games and L.A. has been outscored by 116 points (9.7 points per 100 possessions) in Blake’s 559 minutes on the floor.

In 491 minutes with Blake and Gasol on the floor (the most minutes of any L.A. two-man combination), L.A. is a minus-134. And that’s not just because they’ve lost five games by double-digits. They’ve been outscored with the starting pair on the floor together in five of their nine wins.

So how have they won when their starters have been getting blown out  in games?

Bench play.

Jordan Farmar (Layne Murdoch Jr./NBAE)

Jordan Farmar
(Layne Murdoch Jr./NBAE)

The Lakers lead the league with 47.7 bench points a game. Still, bench points don’t always equate to bench success. The Lakers have been much better defensively, too, with their bench in the game. More important than the scoring is that the Lakers are a plus-76 with Jordan Farmar (who hasn’t started a single game) and Xavier Henry (who has started two) on the floor.

The starters have put them in holes. The reserves have dug out of them.

Offensively, the Lakers have shot better, turned the ball over less, got to the free-throw line more and grabbed more rebounds once the bench is in. Shot selection is a factor. Gasol, who starts, has taken more than twice as many shots from mid-range (116) as he has from the restricted area (56). Nobody on the Lakers gets to the basket very often, but restricted-area shots and 3-point attempts* are both up when the bench is in.

* The Lakers have attempted 64.3 percent of their shots from the restricted area or 3-point range with Farmar and Henry on the floor, but just 53.9 percent with Blake and Gasol on the floor.

Defensively, it’s no surprise that the Lakers haven’t been stopping opponents with Blake, Gasol, Jodie Meeks, Wesley Johnson and Jordan Hill on the floor. What has been surprising is that they are defending well when they’ve put Farmar, Henry, Nick Young and Shawne Williams out there. Young and Williams aren’t exactly Paul George and Roy Hibbert, but they’ve managed to get stops at a similar rate.

In 90 minutes with those four guys on the floor, L.A. has allowed a paltry 77.3 points per 100 possessions. That includes 12 minutes against the Warriors in which they allowed a top-10 offense to score only 14 points. That number certainly smells a little flukey, but it’s a big reason the Lakers have won nine games.

So where does Bryant fit in? Well, even if he’s not himself offensively and is the liability he was last year defensively, he can’t hurt that starting lineup. The Lakers have been outscored by 8.8 points per 100 possessions in the first six minutes of games, the sixth-worst mark in the league.

Gasol leads the team in field-goal attempts per minute and ranks 188th in effective field-goal percentage among 209 players who have attempted at least 100 shots this season. So if Bryant takes some of those shots away, the Lakers would probably be a better team.

Will he stifle the ball movement? Sure, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. With Blake and Gasol on the floor, the Lakers have assisted on 68 percent of their shots and scored only 95.4 points per 100 possessions. With Farmar and Henry on the floor, they’ve assisted on just 56 percent and scored 109.2 points per 100 possessions. A higher assist rate does not necessarily equate to better offense. The Lakers have consistently had lower assist rates and much more efficient offense with Bryant on the floor.

While Bryant’s return will help the starters, Farmar’s absence will hurt the bench. The point guard is out for four weeks with a torn hamstring suffered in Sunday’s loss to the Blazers.

Farmar has been a pleasant surprise. His absence (as well as that of Nash) leaves Blake as the only healthy point guard on the roster.

So now is a good time for Bryant to make his return. But the Lakers won’t be at their best until they have both Kobe and Farmar healthy.

Morning Shootaround — Nov. 25


VIDEO: The Daily Zap for games played Nov. 24

NEWS OF THE MORNING

Lethargic Nets fall again; Kidd has front-office’s support | Report: Cuban says NBA should discuss allowing HGH use | Lakers’ Williams explains scuffle with Cousins | Burke on minutes restriction

No. 1: Lethargic Nets falter again; Report: Kidd has management’s support — Another week, another round of struggles for the Brooklyn Nets. After Sunday’s loss to the Detroit Pistons at Barclays Center, the Nets haven’t won since Nov. 15 and have suffered five straight defeats. Although they did play Sunday’s game without Jason Terry, Brook Lopez, Deron Williams and Andrei Kirilenko, the Nets had former All-Stars Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Joe Johnson all active for last night’s game, but only Johnson played well. We have two reports this morning, the first from Andrew Keh of The New York Times, who says that even Brooklyn fans are growing weary of booing the team. As well, Ohm Youngmisuk and Marc Stein of ESPNNewYork.com talk about coach Jason Kidd, who has the support of team ownership despite a 3-10 start in his first season on the job. Here’s Keh on the scene in Brooklyn after the loss:

The Nets slouched to a 109-97 defeat to the Detroit Pistons, dropping another ragged game against another unexceptional opponent. It was their fifth straight loss and their eighth in nine games. It sent them plummeting to a 3-10 record.

The disquiet around the team translated to plain quiet at Barclays Center. Even the boos sounded halfhearted. “It’s very frustrating and very, very embarrassing,” said Andray Blatche, a sentiment expressed around the locker room Sunday. “We’ve got to play with more pride.”

Jason Kidd, the team’s rookie coach, seemed to send a message to his players as the Nets entered the fourth quarter trailing, 78-66. The five players he sent out — Tornike Shengelia, Tyshawn Taylor, Mason Plumlee, Mirza Teletovic and Alan Anderson — were reserves who, with the exception of Anderson, had seen limited time this year.

“They deserved to play,” Kidd said. “I should have let them play the whole game, or the whole quarter. They’re playing, you know, for one another.”

He added, “Those guys are playing hard, and they’re helping one another on the offense end and the defensive end.”

This was not what King and the front office envisioned when they engineered the Nets’ glamorous summertime overhaul — one that gave them the league’s highest payroll.

Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, the club’s marquee acquisitions, did not re-enter the game until 4 minutes 2 seconds were left. Pierce scored 19 points but shot 5 for 13 from the field. Garnett went 2 for 9 and grabbed nine rebounds. Joe Johnson was the Nets’ sole bright spot, scoring a season-high 34 points while going 8 for 10 from behind the 3-point line.

The word “championship” was thrown around with abandon during training camp and the preseason. It has hardly been uttered since, and when Kidd mentioned it during his pregame news conference, it sounded odd.

Amid myriad issues, the spotlight has inevitably turned toward Kidd. It seems reasonable to wonder, as some observers have, whether this urgent assignment — to produce a championship with an aging and unfamiliar team — could be too lofty for a former player with no coaching experience.

Last season, the Nets fired Avery Johnson as coach after 28 mediocre games. On Sunday, King noted the difficulties facing Kidd, stressed patience and mentioned the progress he has observed.

“He’s going through the growing pains of being a head coach, though I think he’s being more assertive and understanding more what he’s got to do,” King said. “But also, it’s tough with your two best players out. It’s sort of a Catch-22.”

And here’s Stein & Youngmisuk on the Nets’ ownership backing Kidd:

The Brooklyn Nets’ slide has reached five straight defeats, but rookie coach Jason Kidd continues to have the support of the team’s Russian ownership, according to league sources.

Playing without the injured Deron Williams, Brook Lopez, Andrei Kirilenko and Jason Terry, Brooklyn faded in the second half Sunday night and came away with a 109-97 home loss to the Detroit Pistons to fall to a stunning 3-10.

But sources told ESPN.com that Kidd continues to have the backing of his bosses with Brooklyn dealing with several injuries and other mitigating factors which have contributed to the poor start.

The Nets are in 14th place in the East through Sunday, despite the NBA-record payroll sanctioned by Russian billionaire owner Mikhail Prokhorov, who is on course to spend around $190 million this season on salaries and luxury taxes.

Among the Nets’ initial concerns early in the season, sources confirmed, were some “philosophical differences” between Kidd and lead assistant Lawrence Frank. But sources stressed to ESPN.com that the Nets have been working to smooth out any issues in recent days.

“They’re fine,” one source said of Kidd and Frank.

Sources say Nets veteran players support Kidd, who has coached in 11 of the Nets’ 13 games so far. Kidd opened his first season as a head coach serving a two-game suspension, with assistant coach Joe Prunty moving from behind the bench to serve as the team’s interim coach. Frank and fellow bench assistant John Welch respectively remained in their defensive and offensive coordinator-like roles ostensibly for continuity.

The Nets, though, have seen anything but continuity on the floor. The flood of injuries has forced Kidd to use five different starting lineups in the last six games.

The Nets also have had major problems in the third quarter of games. They were outscored 34-15 by the Pistons in the third Sunday afternoon and are 0-10 this season when they have lost the third quarter. In those 10 third-quarter losses, they have been outscored by 96 points.

And when it happened against the Pistons, Brooklyn heard boos from the home crowd en route to losing for the eighth time in nine games.

“I think everybody in here is embarrassed,” an exasperated Garnett said. “You definitely don’t want that at home. Like I’ve been saying, we’re going to continue to work to try to change this as best we can.”

“Jason just questioned us in the locker room (about the third-quarter woes),” Garnett added. “But it’s something we’re obviously going to have to address. We’ve got to be the worst team in the league when it comes to third quarters, just unacceptable. As players we have to be accountable, including myself, and come out and do whatever it is that we got to do and apply it.”

***

No. 2: Report: Cuban says NBA should discuss allowing HGH useThe use of human growth hormone in professional sports in North America has become a point of contention and discussion for many sports fans as scandals regarding the substance have wreaked havoc in Major League Baseball. Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban talked with Sam Amick of USA Today and said while he isn’t advocating the use of the substance in the NBA, he is calling attention to what he views as a lack of research on the topic as it relates to athletes who are healing from injuries:

In the wake of the NBA’s latest round of injuries to fallen stars, always-outspoken Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is proposing a possible solution: human growth hormone.

Cuban isn’t advocating the use of the controversial drug but rather calling attention to what he sees as a dearth of research on the topic as it relates to athletes who are recovering from injury. His hope, which he shared in front of the league’s owners and league officials at an Oct. 23 Board of Governors meeting in New York, is that a more-informed decision can be made as to whether it should remain on the league’s banned-substance list or perhaps be utilized as a way of expediting an athlete’s return to the court. If it were ever allowed — and it’s safe to say that won’t be happening anytime soon — Cuban sees a major benefit for teams and their fans like.

“The issue isn’t whether I think it should be used,” Cuban told USA TODAY Sports via e-mail. “The issue is that it has not been approved for such use. And one of the reasons it hasn’t been approved is that there have not been studies done to prove the benefits of prescribing HGH for athletic rehabilitation or any injury rehabilitation that I’m aware of. The product has such a huge (public) stigma that no one wants to be associated with it.”

Cuban, who unsuccessfully has tried to buy the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Texas Rangers in recent years, hinted at his stance on HGH in an Aug. 8 appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. In the interview, he criticized Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig for his treatment of New York Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez and said HGH is “banned for no good reason” in baseball and basketball.

From the NBA’s perspective, the most obvious hurdle to such a cause is that the Food & Drug Administration only allows the prescription of HGH for a limited number of conditions. According to the FDA’s web site, children with various medical reasons for stunted growth can be prescribed HGH, as can adults with a bowel syndrome, a hormone deficiency due to rare pituitary tumors or a muscle-wasting disease associating with HIV.

The NBA also is sensitive to the ethical part of the discussion, as the idea that some players would return from injury sooner than others because they were willing to take a drug that may have adverse side effects raises serious concerns about maintaining a level playing field. The possible side effects, according to the FDA, include an increased risk of cancer, nerve pain and elevated cholesterol and glucose levels. If anything, the NBA is moving closer to cracking down on HGH use of any kind.

While NBA Commissioner David Stern had said that he was hopeful that a new HGH-testing policy would be in place at the start of the 2013-14 season, the discussions between the league and the National Basketball Players Association are in a holding pattern, in large part because of the continuing stalemate between the NFL and its players about the implementation of their program. The NFL is the trailblazer of sorts on that front, meaning the NBA policy isn’t expected to be resolved first. The NBA declined a request for comment from USA TODAY Sports. The union’s lack of an executive director after Billy Hunter‘s firing in February also has hindered the process.

As Cuban sees it, though, none of the obstacles should preclude the powers-that-be in the sports world from pursuing more definitive answers about the pros and cons of HGH.

“I believe that professional sports leagues should work together and fund studies to determine the efficacy of HGH for rehabbing an injury,” Cuban told USA TODAY Sports. “Working together could lead us from the path of demonizing HGH and even testosterone towards a complete understanding. It could allow us to make a data based decision rather than the emotional decision we are currently making. And if it can help athletes recover more quickly, maybe we can extend careers and have healthier happier players and fans.”

***

No. 3: Lakers’ Williams explains scuffle with Cousins — Late in the fourth quarter of last night’s Lakers-Kings game from Staples Center, Lakers guard Jordan Farmar was pursuing a steal and a potential breakaway layup when he appeared to be shoved from behind by Sacramento center DeMarcus Cousins. (You can see the sequence at about the 1:50 mark in the video below). That touched off a small scuffle between the teams, with Lakers reserve forward Shawne Williams in the thick of the scrum. In a postgame interview with Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News, Williams explained what he thought Cousins was trying to do during that sequence:

In a sign that the Lakers’ team unity goes beyond sharing the ball and accepting roles, forward Shawne Williams believed he made a bold statement when he aggressively confronted Kings center DeMarcus Cousins after he bumped Lakers guard Jordan Farmar to the floor.

“Everybody in this locker room is part of a team,” Williams said following the Lakers’ 100-86 win Sunday over the Sacramento Kings at Staples Center. “We’re family. Anybody who tries to mess with our family or do a dirty play, I’m going to stand up for them on the court.”

Williams believed Cousins tried to do that.

After bumping Farmar to the ground, the Lakers guard appeared agitated by the contact. But Cousins offered to pick him up. Before that happened, Williams intervened and signaled to back away. Tensions increased, and both Williams and Cousins received technical fouls with 5:42 left in the game.

“I just felt like he was pushing him down,” Williams said. “I felt like it was a dirty play because he was already falling. I just stood up for him.”

What did Williams say?

“I told him he needed to knock it off,” Williams said. “He told me he was trying to help him up. I said that was BS. That was it.”

“I don’t think he went overboard,” Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said of Williams. “I just think he was trying to stick up for Jordan. Maybe they liked each other when they played together in New Jersey. Shawne is a standup guy.”

“If I’m on the bench, I can’t do nothing. I cannot cross the line,” Williams said. “At the end of the day, we have to be smart. I’m not trying to get ejected or do anything dumb. I just have to let them know that at the end of the day we can’t stand for that.”


VIDEO: Lakers get past Kings, win third straight game

***

No. 4: Rookie Burke faces minutes restriction — At 1-13, the Utah Jazz are off to one of the worst starts in franchise history. Things appeared to look up — at least in terms of the team’s future and growth prospects — when rookie point guard Trey Burke returned to the lineup last week. Burke missed the first few weeks of the season as he recovered from a fractured finger injury he suffered in the preseason and last night in OKC, he got his first NBA start. Burke played 20 minutes, going 2-for-9 from the field and finished with four points and four assists. Aaron Falk of The Salt Lake Tribune reports that the Jazz plan to limit Burke’s minutes for the forseeable future as he continues to recover from his finger injury:

Trey Burke is still facing minute restrictions as they work their way back from preseason injuries. Burke said his finger feels sore at times after games, but so far there have been no setbacks.

“I understand the process,” he said. “Obviously you want to get into a rhythm and flow out there. For me, I don’t want to get in there and be thinking, ‘I’m about to come out.’ So I try not to think about it as much as possible.”

The point guard, however, said his surgically repaired finger does still impact his play.

“Sometimes I try to baby it when I don’t even need to really because it’s taped,” he said. “Sometimes when a hard pass comes at me, I kind of, like, catch it more with my left hand then my right. But I think that’s mental.”

***

SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Sixers coach Brett Brown is ready to give former first-round pick Daniel Orton a chance in Philly … Tobias Harris had a rough debut, but he’s glad to be back on the court in Orlando … Might the Bulls think about working a trade for Chicago native Evan Turner? … Carl Landry is still a long ways off from returning to the Kings’ lineup.

ICYMI Of The Night: Gerald Green had a great conversation with our NBA TV crew about his breakout season and he showed some of his trademark hops with a monster jam in Orlando last night …


VIDEO: Gerald Green finishes with style on the Suns’ fastbreak

Wait, Were D’Antoni’s Lakers Having Fun?


VIDEO: Lakers surprise Clippers in season opener

HANG TIME SOUTHWEST – As joyless and soulless as last season was, the new crew wearing Los Angeles Lakers purple-and-gold — hardly the typical who’s who, but rather who’s that? — needed one energetic, bubbling, pinch-me performance to prove that there is always next season.

Maybe Tuesday night’s jaw-dropping development, a 116-103 going-away win for L.A.’s castoffs over its star-crossed (for one night anyway) Clippers and their $7 million coach, means there is a next life for beleaguered Lakers coach Mike “We want Phil” D’Antoni. A reset button for a bright career gone dim since the day he left Steve Nash and his rocket ship in Phoenix for the empty promise of New York.

With rehabbing Kobe Bryant dressed in all black and watching from the second row of the Lakers’ bench, D’Antoni’s boys played their butts off at both ends. They exchanged jabs with the glamour Clips in the first half to set up Jordan Farmar (16 points, six assists), Xavier Henry (career-high 22 points) and Jordan Hill (12 points, eight rebounds) for one humiliating haymaker after another in a vibrant, hustling and wholly unfamiliar fourth quarter that required not one second from Nash (20 minutes in all) or Pau Gasol (13 of 15 points came in the first half, plus 13 total rebounds).

When Bryant returns from an Achilles tear is anybody’s guess. Even he couldn’t give TNT’s Craig Sager an answer. In the meantime, D’Antoni has a marvelous window to reconstruct his reputation as one of the game’s best innovators. It’s his shot to go roots hoops, back to chalkboard coaching, experimenting and molding a team whose only expectation outside its own locker room is failure.

D’Antoni’s clay is two selfless future Hall of Famers with built-in motivators and an assortment of loose parts — mostly fresh, young legs as opposed to last season’s aging ones — playing with a chip and for a contract. This might as well be a gritty mid-major ready to crash the March party. Those teams typically take on the personality of their coach.

So with a starting lineup of Shawne Williams at power forward, Nick Young giddy to play the role of Kobe — maybe he will one day in the movie — and veteran backup Steve Blake next to Nash, arises this unforeseen, golden chance for D’Antoni. He can re-boot, erase images of the rigid, inflexible, insufferable coach who couldn’t make it in New York, who infamously emasculated Pau and ran off Dwight.

Tuesday’s opener should have been a slaughter the other way around. Chris Paul and company, with those darned golden banners beaming down, should have snarled like a pitbull as the reigning Pacific Division champs with bolder goals ahead. Instead they walked away droopy-eyed and tails hidden between their hindquarters.

It was just one night, but for the Lakers, it revealed more joy, unity and spirit than all of last season combined. D’Antoni clearly had buy-in. His team was running (more than 100 possessions) and gunning (14-for-29 from deep, 93 total shot attempts). They also relished in the dirty work, outrebounding the Clips 52-40 and 18-10 on the offensive glass. Williams and Chris Kaman swatted away more shots — four to three — than DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin.

Of course this mishmash collection of mostly low-rent role players will never be D’Antoni’s seven-seconds-or-less Suns and they certainly won’t look like Phil Jackson‘s Triangle Lakers. But Tuesday’s eye-popping opener suggested this group can do what those great teams did and what last season’s thought-to-be-great team failed at miserably — creating an identity and forging a bond.

The energy was undeniable, on the floor with Farmar’s stunning blow-bys and the front line’s determined board work; and on the bench with Nash and Gasol flashing disbelieving smiles and clapping and cheering as their backups bullied the Clippers’ starters. Where there is energy and hustle and camaraderie, there is a way.

In the unlikeliest of twists, the 16-time champion Lakers emerged on this night as the capable underdog we love to see succeed.

Who knows what happens at Golden State tonight (10:30 ET, NBA TV) or two weeks from now or by the time the Heat visit on Christmas Day? Who knows how things change once Kobe, a different Kobe, comes back? A loaded Western Conference ensures a tough fight just to make the playoffs.

But for one night, D’Antoni proved he’s coaching again. And his team showed that maybe this season can be what likely few among those awe-struck fans Tuesday night believed.

Fun.


VIDEO: Xavier Henry on his breakout performance vs. the Clips

One Team, One Stat: Stay In The Corner, Jeff Green

From Media Day until opening night, NBA.com’s John Schuhmann will provide a key stat for each team in the league and show you, with film and analysis, why it matters. Up next are the Boston Celtics, who are starting over without Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce.

The basics
BOS Rank
W-L 41-40 16
Pace 94.0 17
OffRtg 101.1 20
DefRtg 100.4 6
NetRtg +0.7 14

The stat

17.9 percent - Difference between Jeff Green’s 3-point percentage from the corners (45.0 percent) and from above the break (27.1 percent) over the last three seasons.

The context

That’s the biggest difference among 134 players who attempted at least 100 threes from both the corners and above the break over the last three years. (The league-wide difference is 4.0 percent.)

In his two full seasons with the Celtics, a Green corner three has been worth 1.35 points per attempt and a Green above-the-break three has been worth 0.81. That’s the difference between a great shot and a bad one.

Biggest difference, corner 3P% vs. above-the-break 3P%

Corner 3 Above the Break 3
Player FGM FGA FG% FGM FGA FG% Diff.
Jeff Green 76 169 45.0% 58 214 27.1% 17.9%
Kawhi Leonard 75 170 44.1% 31 113 27.4% 16.7%
Chandler Parsons 90 191 47.1% 122 381 32.0% 15.1%
*Shawne Williams 77 191 40.3% 28 105 26.7% 13.6%
Corey Brewer 112 329 34.0% 42 200 21.0% 13.0%
Arron Afflalo 148 334 44.3% 117 374 31.3% 13.0%
**Martell Webster 114 236 48.3% 117 325 36.0% 12.3%
Darren Collison 46 105 43.8% 77 242 31.8% 12.0%
***Shannon Brown 52 120 43.3% 128 407 31.4% 11.9%
Rashard Lewis 89 218 40.8% 65 224 29.0% 11.8%

* Williams’ discrepancy was the source of this great line from my man Howard Beck (now with Bleacher Report: “And Williams is reliable only from the corners — meaning even his one dimension is one-dimensional.”)
** Led by Webster, the Wizards are the Jeff Green of 3-point shooting teams.
*** Geez, Shannon Brown. Take a look at your shot chart before you go and take more than three times as many threes from above the break again.

Three seasons ago, Green took 80 more above-the-break threes than corner threes. But last season, upon returning from heart surgery, he took more corner threes.

A closer look reveals that the difference may have been the team Green has played for. Upon being traded from the Thunder to the Celtics in February of 2011, Green found himself in the corner a lot more.

Jeff Green 3-point shooting

Corner 3 Above the Break 3
Season Team FGM FGA FG% FGM FGA FG%
2007-08 SEA 16 45 35.6% 5 30 16.7%
2008-09 OKC 23 59 39.0% 73 187 39.0%
2009-10 OKC 41 118 34.7% 63 192 32.8%
2010-11 OKC 20 46 43.5% 36 135 26.7%
2010-11 BOS 8 18 44.4% 0 9 .0%
2012-13 BOS 48 105 45.7% 22 70 31.4%
SEA/OKC Total 100 268 37.3% 177 544 32.5%
BOS Total 56 123 45.5% 22 79 27.8%

That’s a product of the two teams’ offenses. In four full seasons under Scott Brooks, only 22 percent of the Thunder’s 3-point attempts have come from the corners. In the same time, 29 percent of the Celtics threes have come from the corners. And that number was up to 34 percent over the last two seasons.

Here are Green’s seven 3-point attempts from that March 18 game in which he almost single-handedly ended the Heat’s winning streak at 22 games. He was 4-for-4 from the corners and 1-for-3 from above the break…


Brad Stevens brings a new offense to Boston, Rajon Rondo‘s absence means that Green will have the ball in his hands more, and the departures of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett mean that he’ll be asked to carry more of the offensive load. All that could certainly mean less attempts from the corner.

Through five preseason games, Green is 5-for-10 on corner threes and 0-for-11 from above the break. So the saga continues…

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

Trail Blazers Send Camby To Houston





HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Veteran center Marcus Camby is on the move again, this time to Houston that continues the Portland Trail Blazers’ roster trade deadline roster makeover. The deal was first reported by Yahoo! Sports.

The Trail Blazers will receive Hasheem Thabeet and point guard Jonny Flynn from the Rockets. Portland will take a totally new team on the floor after this afternoon’s trade deadline, including Mehmet Okur and Shawne Williams from an earlier deal with New Jersey.

The Trail Blazers are also in discussions with several teams about moving veteran guard Jamal Crawford as well.

Nets Get Wallace From Blazers

NBA.com Staff Reports



Dwight Howard waiving his early termination option took him off the trade market and out of the free-agency pool for 2011-12. That put a kink in the rebuilding plans for New Jersey, which was on Howard’s preseason draft “wish list”.

The Nets didn’t leave trade deadline day empty handed though, as they swung a deal for Gerald Wallace from the Blazers, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo!Sports:

The Portland Trail Blazers have agreed in principle to trade Gerald Wallace to the New Jersey Nets for Mehmet Okur, Shawne Williams and a protected first-round pick, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.

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Knicks Still Hurting, Still Confident

GREENBURGH, NY – The New York Knicks played pretty well without Chauncey Billups and Amar’e Stoudemire in the second half of Tuesday’s Game 2 in Boston. And the numbers show that the Knicks have played much better when they’ve had just one of their stars on the court than when they’ve had two or three.

But, of course, Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni would prefer that Stoudemire and/or Billups are healthy for Friday’s Game 3 at Madison Square Garden (7 p.m. ET, ESPN).

The Knicks practiced without Stoudemire or Billups on Thursday. Billups received treatment on his strained left knee at the Knicks’ practice facility, but Stoudemire was getting treatment at his home in Manhattan, so that he didn’t have to travel an hour each way in the car and possibly aggravate the pulled muscle in his back.

D’Antoni is clearly more optimistic about the chances that Stoudemire will play Friday, but the team will have to wait until at least Friday morning to see how Stoudemire feels.

Billups had blood drained from his knee and took a cortisone shot on Wednesday.

“At this point, I know there’s no way I can come back and be 100 percent,” Billups said. “But I don’t have to be 100 to come back. I just want to be able to help the team and not hurt the team. If I can get to that point, then I’ll be out there.”

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