Posts Tagged ‘Star-Ledger’

Carlesimo Rides To Durant’s Defense

DALLAS – For a player toe-deep into what should be a colossal and potential Hall of Fame career, Thunder forward Kevin Durant has already piled up plenty to be proud of.

Back-to-back scoring titles, All-Star and All-NBA honors, a Rookie of the Year award, international acclaim (and a gold medal) and universal appeal as a breath of fresh air for fans and observers alike.

Yet his stumbles down the stretch in games during these Western Conference finals has suddenly cast a different light on him.

Suddenly, people are questioning his abilities as a finisher and as a leader. Some are suggesting that the 22-year-old Durant, as good as he is right now and could be in the future, is not yet the superstar he’s been made out to be.

This is, mind you, Durant’s first foray into the pressure cooker that is the conference finals. Had he mastered the moment at his young age we’d need to require a DNA sample to make sure he’s human. We understand here at the hideout (we’re a Western Conference finals mobile-command unit right now) that this is a part of the process.

So too does Durant’s first NBA coach, P.J. Carlesimo. He offers up an interesting defense of Durant, via my main man Dave D’Alessandro of the Star-Ledger, who offers up his own (and quite interesting) take on Durant’s current predicament:

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London Trip Does Wonders For Nets

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – When Nets coach Avery Johnson was gushing about his team’s London excursion and how important it was for them to get that unique time away from their normal surroundings, it would have been easy to assume it was just a coach trying to say all the right things for the benefit of his audience.

But Johnson wasn’t just putting on a show for those of us media members in attendance. He was serious about the opportunity that historic trip to London — for two “home” games against the Toronto Raptors at 02 Arena, the first NBA regular-season games played on European soil — provided his new-look team. All-Star point guard Deron Williams was just days into his tenure with the Nets after coming over in a deal with the Jazz at the trade deadline.

Something clicked for the Nets over there, because they haven’t lost a game since that first win over the Raptors in London. They’ve rattled off five straight wins, including last night’s stunner over the Celtics in Newark.

There has even been mention of the playoffs (don’t laugh, the Nets have not been mathematically eliminated yet), chatter that would have seemed ridiculous weeks ago when the Nets were neck-deep in the Carmelo Anthony sweepstakes.

Now they’ve won five straight for the first time since  January of 2008. Johnson was stoked to knock off the struggling Raptors in back-to-back games in London, the second a triple-overtime thriller that seemed like anything but a battle of teams with win totals in the teens. So you’d expect him to be fired up after guiding his team to a win over the mighty Celtics.

“The last couple of games, obviously, we beat two teams that were under .500 (Golden State and the L.A. Clippers),” Johnson told Colin Stephenson of the Star-Ledger. “But now you’ve got the team that’s basically the best team in the East coming in, and it’s exciting. I’m excited for our guys.”

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