Posts Tagged ‘Terrence Williams’

Morning Shootaround — Feb. 26

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: After a Feb. 10 win against Denver, Boston was in the midst of a seven-game win streak and feeling good about its place in the East pecking order. But the Celtics’ five-game road trip West hadn’t gone as planned and they found themselves 1-3 with a date against the Jazz entering Monday. The Celtics had every reason to fold up shop, especially after looking listless at times in the first half and unable to contain Gordon Hayward most of the night. Never count out Paul Pierce, though, as he came through big for Boston as Celtics-Jazz ended up being our one to watch. Pierce showed off his Truth-y goodness in the win, particularly in the extra frame, where he scored seven straight in OT to salt away the victory:

.

News of the morning

Nuggets beat D’Antoni, Lakers at own game | Horford finds a rhythm | Report: Bulls’ Gibson out 2 weeks | Can Celtics’ lockerroom change players? | Playoff hopes hurt in Toronto

Nuggets run Lakers out of DenverOnce Mike D’Antoni supplanted Mike Brown as Lakers coach, the assumption among some fans was that D’Antoni would employ the high-octane system he used in Phoenix in Lakerland and all would be right in the world. Yet as D’Antoni and the Lakers have learned time and time again this season, playing up-tempo isn’t the fast track to success for L.A. In fact, it’s the complete opposite and was proven so again last night as the Nuggets simply ran the Lakers out of Denver with a fast-breaking offense. Kevin Ding of the Orange County Register and Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com have more:

From Ding:

Big picture, the Lakers have still gone 11-5 since the day of their clear-the-air team meeting in Memphis. But the feel-good sentiments were contrasted Monday night by some ongoing cold – or should that be “old”? – realities for this Lakers team.

The Lakers were as slow as ever in letting the Denver Nuggets blow by them. Final score: Denver 119, Los Angeles 108.

Fast-break points? Denver 33, Los Angeles 3.

“Man,” Kobe Bryant said, “that’s a killer.”

The Lakers are last in the NBA in points allowed per game off turnovers, and that’s just how Denver took control of this game – also running off Bryant’s early missed shots. The Nuggets kept control with Dwight Howard shooting 3-for-14 on free throws and Bryant’s individual defensive effort lacking even as he rediscovered his shooting stroke.

From Shelburne:

Those who have been waiting to see what Los Angeles Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni’s high-octane offense looks like finally saw it Monday night.

Too bad it was the Denver Nuggets playing it.

All that great spacing and shooting and scoring D’Antoni’s teams have become known for over the years … yeah, that was George Karl‘s Nuggets running the Lakers off the court in a 119-108 win Monday night.

“They’re good,” D’Antoni said. “They spread you out and they shoot a high percentage.

“We just couldn’t catch ‘em.”

D’Antoni was glum after the loss, but not unusually so. That wistful, pining, ”If they could only see what I see?” quality he carried around with him during the first few months of his tenure on the Lakers bench is gone now. He’s either squashed it for good or put it in a place where it doesn’t bother him as much.

What’s become clear during the Lakers’ modest revival — they’ve still won 11 of their past 16 games despite Monday’s loss — is that they’re no longer trying to play like one of D’Antoni’s teams.

The coach — and his team — have adapted. Or at least accepted that the up-tempo style is not going to fit this team, this season. There are still elements of it that work, including the pick-and-roll game and the emphasis on spacing and rhythm. But the rest of it has kind of been shelved for now.

For the Lakers, it served as a reminder of the decisions they’ve been forced to make this year. The Nuggets’ run-and-gun style was the vision D’Antoni was hired to bring to Los Angeles. For now, though, with no training camp and injured, ill-fitting personnel, it’s just not to be.

The coach has taken a lot of criticism since he got to L.A. So have many of his players.

It’s way too soon to start praising him. The Lakers are still in great danger of missing the playoffs after Monday’s loss dropped them to three games behind Houston for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

But it’s not too soon to recognize that D’Antoni also has made some difficult sacrifices since taking the job — to his principles, his pride and his legacy.

“There’s no job in the NBA that’s easy,” D’Antoni said, refusing to make a sympathy play. “You don’t just fall out of bed and have things happen. It gets more complicated with injuries. I didn’t know Steve [Nash] was going to be out. I didn’t know Steve Blake was going to be out. I didn’t know Dwight wasn’t healthy 100 percent. So, yeah, there are some side issues. But everything is hard.”

Hawks’ Horford hitting his strideWhen the Atlanta Hawks have been in the headlines on this site and others, the name heard most is Josh Smith and his future with the team as a pending free agent. While we were all focused on J-Smoove, his future and the trade deadline the last few weeks, Al Horford, the lone ex-All-Star selection on the Hawks, has been tearing it up. He’s averaging 24.6 ppg and 12.4 rpg over his last nine games and went wild last night against the Pistons, notching a 23-point, 22-rebound game in the Hawks’ win. Atlanta has won three in a row, sits at No. 4 in the East and much of that is due to Horford, writes Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

Al Horford is completely over the hamstring strain that bothered him earlier this season. It shows.

The Hawks center is averaging 24.2 points and 10.0 rebounds with a .679 field goal percentage (55 of 81) over the past five games. He has scored over 20 points in each of those games, a career first.

“I think it just has to do with me being healthy and we are playing through me a lot more,” Horford said Monday before the Hawks played at the Pistons. That helps. I’m able to stay in the rhythm of the offensive.”

Horford said the hamstring is no longer limiting his running and jumping. He also dealt with a calf issue.

“When we have a lot of ball movement and high assists it gets everybody involved not just me,” Horford said. “When that happens I usually do pretty well. When we don’t and we stick, that is when my game gets affected and we tend to struggle as a team. It’s not hard to figure out that if we have a high assist total we are going to have a good chance.”

Report: Bulls may lose Gibson for 2 weeksBulls reserve forward Taj Gibson injured his knee in the second half of Chicago’s blowout loss to the Thunder on Sunday night. Now comes word, via K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune, that the Bulls’ depth — which has been hampered all season by the loss of star Derrick Rose – may suffer another blow following the results of Gibson’s MRI on Monday:

Taj Gibson celebrated the birthdays of Jerry Reinsdorf and Joakim Noah on Monday by having an MRI performed on his sprained left knee.

Well, not really, but the confluence of such events seemed fitting for a star-crossed Bulls team these days. For every celebratory moment — a blowout win in Charlotte, Noah turning 28 — a somber one follows in the form of a convincing loss to an elite team or another injury.

At least Gibson’s MRI didn’t reveal a torn ACL, although it did confirm a sprained MCL that could sideline the defensive-minded forward up to two weeks.

Can Boston’s lockerroom change Crawford, Williams?Depending on whom you ask, new Celtics Jordan Crawford (acquired via a trade with Washington) and Terrence Williams (signed as a free agent) are seen by some as one-dimensional players, talented-but-emotional players or young players in need of some veteran guidance … or a combination of the three. Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald brings up a great point in questioning whether the Celtics’ veteran core of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and the like can do anything to change the careers/league-wide outlook on players such as Crawford and Williams:

It is the common perception that the Celtics dressing room is a healing commune where those of questionable basketball reputation can be saved. A Lourdes of leaping, if you will.

So as the Celts return home today with Terrence Williams and Jordan Crawford — two players who would not have been available to them were it not for concerns about their approach to the game and the fact they did not entirely please previous employers — there is the expectation among some, and hope among others, that regularly observing Kevin Garnett and breathing the same air will improve their focus and make them better teammates.

The newest C’s have the opportunity to either prove the perceptions a lie or rip off the old tags and begin anew.

Pierce knows that altering the career course of another adult may be quite a bit to ask, but he also recognizes it’s part of his job as captain and accomplished veteran.

“I think you just try to feel things out with new guys,” he said. “I mean, at this point in the season you usually get a chance to talk to guys in practice, but there’s not a lot of practice time.

“But it seems like these guys, from what you’ve heard about them from other teams, it doesn’t look that way from what I’ve seen in the past few days.”

Doc Rivers is well aware of the upside of both Williams and Crawford, but he’s not banking on his regulars to make them fit into the Celtics’ system.

Beyond that, Rivers tries to avoid preconceived notions. He doesn’t want to read the labels on the players the Celtics acquire.“You know, one of the things I’ve learned is that I don’t listen to hearsay,” he said. “I really don’t. I never have.

“I’ve learned that lesson long ago. There’s been a lot of players who you hear are bad guys or are not great guys that I’ve had that have turned out to be great guys. And I’ve had some that people said were great guys and they’ve turned out not to be.

“So I just don’t ever listen to the hearsay. I give everybody a chance, and if they don’t become that, then they don’t become that. I leave it at that.”

He doesn’t listen even when the comments are coming from his close friend, Washington coach Randy Wittman, who pulled Crawford out of his rotation?

“No, I don’t,’ Rivers said. “I really don’t, because there’s always circumstances. He may be right in what they’re saying, but there could be other circumstances that we can’t see. So I just let it go, and if they turn out to be a bad guy, then they’re a bad guy. Some turn out to be good guys.”

Loss harms Colangelo, Raptors’ playoff hopesRaptors GM Bryan Colangelo has done a decent job of attempting to salvage Toronto’s season given his trade to land Rudy Gay and his deadline-day deal to add point guard depth in the form of Sebastian Telfair. But last night’s loss to Washington not only dropped the Raptors 4 1/2 games behind Philadelphia for No. 8 in the East, but also dealt a bit of a blow to Colangelo and his future in Toronto, writes Eric Koreen of The National Post:

Monday’s game, a 90-84 loss to the Washington Wizards, did not help the Raptors’ chances. They are now 4½ games out of the final playoff spot.

It was a putrid game, particularly the first half, when the Raptors turned the ball over 12 times. Rudy Gay and Kyle Lowry both struggled badly from the floor.

While the loss was certainly disappointing, it does not do much to change the Raptors’ position: They are fighting for a playoff spot, even if they are unlikely to prevail.

“That was our goal going into this year,” Dwane Casey said. “We got started off on a rocky start and dug ourselves a huge hole to start the season. We didn’t go about it [the right] way. We kind of got to the point where we wanted to be as far as knocking on the door on the playoffs. I think those are the terms that I used as far as our goal in the building process. [Acquiring] Rudy accelerated that process. I’m happy with our team. I like the direction we’re going in. I like our core group that we have.”

The team’s reality will have untold reverberations on the future. At the nadir of the season, it looked like president and general manager Bryan Colangelo would have to take the fall. If the Raptors fail to make the playoffs this year, it will be the first time in franchise history they that have missed the post-season in five consecutive years.

However, minus the specific nature of some of the controversies and concerns that the team has dealt with in the season’s first two-thirds, where the team sits now is exactly where the Raptors figured they would be. In fact, the Raptors trading Jose Calderon and his expensive expiring contract for a dynamic wing player such as Gay would have been an ideal scenario heading into the year. It was, as Colangelo likes to say, part of the plan.

So, where does that leave Colangelo?

In lieu of a franchise superstar — and Gay is not at that level — the person in charge of moulding the roster is arguably the most integral man in any basketball organization. Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment will have three options: pick up the third-year option on Colangelo’s contract; offer Colangelo an extension beyond next year; or decline to pick up the option, effectively firing him.

ICYMI of the night: If you’re a Laker-hater (or just a Nuggets fan), two plays from last night had to get your attention: JaVale McGee coming over to swat Kobe Bryant and Kenneth Faried powering home an alley-oop over Dwight Howard …:

.

Taking the D train to Houston

HOUSTON – The last time the Nets sent Terrence Williams packing it was off to Springfield, Mass. for a two-week stint in the NBA D-League that was supposed to change his attitude and his perspective.

This time the 6-foot-6 swingman got a more permanent change of address as he was sent to the Rockets as part of a reported three-team trade that has Joe Smith going to the Lakers and Sasha Vujacic to the Nets.

Vujacic was the fifth guard in L.A. coach Phil Jackson’s four-guard rotation and had seen his playing time drop significantly this season. The 35-year-old Smith was averaging just 0.5 points and 0.8 rebounds in New Jersey and, with a decent mid-range shot, will give the Lakers a few minutes on their frontline.

The deal gets the Nets two first-round draft choices (Lakers 2011, Rockets 2012) and brings their total of first-rounders in the next two seasons up to five, which they hope will strengthen their hand in a bid to pry loose Carmelo Anthony from Denver.

For the Rockets, who entered the season talking about being a contender for home-court advantage in the Western Conference playoffs and a player in any deals for big-name stars before stumbling to a 10-14 start, are now looking desperate and figure they’re taking a flyer on a 23-year-old with plenty of potential despite a nose for discontent.

Williams was clearly happy to be getting a new start. Early Tuesday evening he tweeted: “Welcome welcome, to all my Jersey fans an people it’s been real I love y’all an thanks, to HOUSTON what uppppp “go Rockets” lol.”

The Nets’ 2009 first round pick had just returned last week from his time in the D-League, which came after habitual lateness to practices, shootarounds and team meetings. He played 10 games for the Nets this season, averaging 6.7 points, 3.6 rebounds and 3.1 assists.

All in all, a Rockets team that could sorely use another slashing scorer who can run the court figures this is a low-risk move that could pay off if they can somehow get through to Williams and find a sense of professionalism. And, of course, the D-League is never far away.

Nets Are Serious About ‘Melo

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – If Carmelo Anthony does end up relocating to the New York area, the New Jersey Nets want him to cross the river.

They showed just how much they want to make that happen this evening when they agreed in principle to a three-team deal that sends Terrence Williams to Houston, Joe Smith to the Lakers and Sasha Vujacic and two first round draft picks (one each from the Rockets and Lakers), a deal first reported by Yahoo! Sports.

With five draft picks over the next two years, the Nets have built a war chest that allows them to present the Nuggets with an offer they can’t refuse. It’s been common knowledge since the summer that Anthony had his sights set on joining the Knicks, either via trade or as a free agent.

The Rockets, as always, find a way to get in the mix and sneak away with what could turn out to be a gem in Williams, the lottery pick turned NBA D-Leaguer who is now headed for Texas. A solid veteran presence, Smith helps the Lakers beef up their frontline while also helping the Lakers ease their luxury tax burden — his $1.35 million salary this season is scraps compared to Vujacic’s expiring $5.5 million.

The big winner in this whole affair could be the Nets. But that hinges on whether or not they are able to lure Anthony away from the Knicks, the reported leader in the Anthony sweepstakes.

An ESPN.com report earlier this week said Anthony would only sign $65 million contract extension if he was moved to the Knicks, a report Anthony refuted later.

The Nets clearly have the most colorful assortment of assets to bring to the bargaining table, all those draft picks as well as a coveted young talent in rookie big man Derrick Favors. The task of convincing ‘Melo to sign on for the long haul with the Nets is something coach Avery Johnson and billionaire owner Mikhail Prokhorov surely would relish, especially if it means they keep him from the rival Knicks.

If his denial is legit and he doesn’t have a Knicks-or-nothing stance at the negotiating table, the Nets are in business. If not, this could wind up being a whole lot of running in place for the Nets.

We’re two months away from the trade deadline, but the drama is already building!

Nets’ Pitch is All About Timing

Posted by John Schuhmann

Jay-Z is a busy man (and a business, man) but he'll take time out of his schedule to sell LeBron on the Nets. (Brian Babineau/NBAE/Getty Images)

Timing is everything, right?

According to multiple reports, the New Jersey Nets will be the first team to meet with LeBron James in Akron on Thursday morning. And that’s a pretty good position to be in, because the Nets will get to set the bar when it comes to selling James on their team.

But does the Nets being first mean that James is seriously considering them? Maybe, maybe not. The timing of the Nets’ meeting may have more to do with Jay-Z’s schedule than LeBron’s preferences.

The minority owner of the Nets and a good friend of James, will be part of the group that travels to Akron aboard owner Mikhail Prokhorov’s Gulfstream jet. But he probably won’t be around when the Nets meet with Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade on Friday, because he’ll be performing at a music festival in Belfort, France.

The Nets probably don’t want the other free agents to think they’re getting lesser treatment than LeBron, so maybe Ellen Page can help them set up a video conference with Jay in Europe. He’ll be performing at another festival in London on Sunday.

But of course, those other free agents are secondary. James is the big fish and fortunately for the Nets, he was able to accommodate them at a time when his friend was available.

There are two other aspects of great timing in regards to the Nets’ pitch, both of which the team controls. And from the looks of things, when Prokhorov and his team set the bar tomorrow morning, they will set it high.

On Tuesday, the Nets began painting an enormous advertisement in Manhattan, featuring Prokhorov and Jay-Z … high above Madison Square Garden, home of the Knicks. It was incomplete as of Wednesday morning, but you can imagine that a photo of it will be part of the presentation that Nets C.E.O Brett Yormark (their marketing guy) makes to James. Heck, the Nets could even say that it’s incomplete because they’re waiting to paint James into it as well.

Also on Tuesday, the Nets announced that they have begun pouring the foundation for the new Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn.

One of the things that might keep a free agent from signing with the Nets this summer is their temporary move to the Prudential Center in Newark. But come Thursday morning, the Nets will be able to show players that construction is indeed underway at the corner of Atlantic and Flatbush.

The other thing the Nets did Tuesday is trade Yi Jianlian to Washington for Quinton Ross, a move that gives them $2.9 million of extra cap space and puts them very close to having enough room to sign two max free agents. The deal puts them exactly where they want to be, but it has a downside.

Yi has been inconsistent at best in his three years in the league, and as far as the Nets’ depth chart is concerned, he’s excess baggage. So the trade doesn’t really hurt them from a basketball perspective.

But there’s no denying that Yi could have helped Prokhorov sell the idea of the Nets being a “global team.” Russia is the biggest country in the world, but it has about 1/10th the population of China.

James is popular in China already, but when the U.S. Olympic team was there in 2008, Kobe Bryant got a much bigger reception than any of his teammates. So James still has work to do there, and having Yi as a teammate could have helped.

Of course, James’ decision will be about more than just marketing. And when it comes to basketball, the Nets are in decent shape. Their existing core of Devin Harris, Brook Lopez, Courtney Lee, Terrence Williams and No. 3 pick Derrick Favors is pretty strong compared to the other teams trying to pry James away from Cleveland.

But this is still a team that won just 12 games last season. And it’s also a team that’s losing its well-respected president.

When it comes to timing, those are the two negatives on the Nets’ scorecard.

John Schuhmann is a staff writer for NBA.com. Follow him on twitter.