Posts Tagged ‘Tim Kawakami’

Morning Shootaround — April 28



VIDEO: Daily Zap for games played April 27

NEWS OF THE MORNING

Trail Blazers trying to change their destiny | Warriors-Clippers overshadowed by controversy | Ariza delivers a championship reminder for Wizards | Pacers’ anxiety levels high and still rising?

No. 1: Trail Blazers trying to change their destiny, up 3-1 on Rockets – Fans in Portland don’t have to rub their eyes. That 3-1 lead they have over the Houston Rockets is real and well-earned. With LaMarcus Aldridge leading the way, the Trail Blazers are in the midst of changing their destiny, writes John Canzano of the Oregonian, altering the expectations of an entire fan base and lifting the spirits of an entire state in the process:

Well, Portland beat Houston on Sunday 123-120. Goes without saying, the game went overtime. It was another peptic ulcer. And what we now have is a Blazers team that stands on the cusp of breaking all that franchise futility, up three games to one against the Rockets.

“One more,” LaMarcus Aldridge cried out after. “One more.”

The big guy spoke for the state.

Aldridge scored 29 points and had 10 rebounds. Great night. But not better than the fans who stood through most of the fourth quarter and an overtime, legs shaking, arms folded, dining on their fingernails.

I looked up at the 300-level at the beginning of the overtime and saw the silhouette of a man just standing, arms raised over his head for a solid, hopeful, minute. Down on the 200 level, a woman covered her eyes while Aldridge shot free throws later in the period, missing both. Below that, in section 119, a bald woman named Julie and her husband, Bill, held each other close, watching the final seconds melt from the clock.

“Fallopian cancer,” she said to me.

“How are you doing?” I asked.

“Not well,” she said. “So this is a nice night out.”

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(Bogut) Warriors Ready For Next Step?

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Faith and passion are things Golden State Warriors fans have always possessed in surplus. And they’ll be tested in both categories this season as they hold their collective breath when training camp begins and they finally see exactly what their team will look like in the flesh.

There is so much to like on paper, with offensive firepower in nearly every direction.

Steph Curry is reportedly healthy and healed, ready to get back on the court and resume his rise. Youngsters like Klay Thompson and rookie Harrison Barnes have extremely high ceilings. David Lee and his non-stop motor is always ready to go. And veteran role players like Jarrett Jack, Richard Jefferson, Carl Landry, Andris Biedrins and Brandon Rush will provide the quality depth coach Mark Jackson needs to deliver on the promise for the future the franchise is selling.

That leaves one glaring question mark for the Warriors, one that only Andrew Bogut‘s body can answer.

If he’s ready this season, whenever he returns to action from the ankle injury that has sidelined him for the past eight months, the Warriors could be ready to take the next step. If not, well … Warriors fans know the refrain better than most.

Bogut knows that this is a pivotal year in his career, too. A fresh start after an up and down seven-season stretch in Milwaukee. When healthy, he was among the best big men in the league and a true defensive anchor for a playoff-caliber team. But Bogut has played in all 82 games just once in his career, way back in his rookie season.

The potential for something big, however, remains. And as Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News points out, the Bay Area is hungry for a Warriors star to celebrate. We’re going to find out soon if Bogut is indeed that star:

Q: Do you have a sense about how this team is going to play?

-BOGUT: It’s hard right now. But obviously we’re going to be a scoring team. We have some flat-out scorers on our team–Steph and Klay and Harrison Barnes is a scorer, too. He can be very aggressive. David Lee and myself. The list goes on. Richard Jefferson as well.

I think our focus isn’t going to be offense so much in training camp. That’s what we’re focused on in these drills we’re doing in the preseason, there’s a lot of defensive focus.

That’s been a weakness here not just last season but for a number of years–the defense wasn’t a priority. So we’re trying to change that.

We know you’re not going to win many games and even if you do, you’re not going to win many playoff series scoring 110 points a game. That’s just not going to happen.

The math and the numbers and the stats say if you can grind down teams, keep them under 100, generally you’ve got a good chance to win.

-Q: How much of that is on you?

-BOGUT: A lot of it, yeah. Definitely a lot of it. I can be the vocal point in the paint, can see the whole floor and talk and communicate, block shots, take charges.

But the other thing we struggled with last year, when we did get stops, we didn’t get the rebound. I think we were the second-worst defensive rebounding team in the league. So it doesn’t make sense to work hard, get the stop and then Dwight Howard gets a tip-in. It kind of demoralizes the whole feel.

So that’s on me and David Lee to make sure we get those defensive rebounds.

-Q: You bring up Howard. What’d you think when Dwight and [Steve] Nash end up in LA?

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Labor Talks: Here We Go Again

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HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Did you wake up this morning wondering what the first weekend of November has in store for you, NBA fans?

Let us help.

How about another round of “talks,” perhaps even another round of hollow smiles and more posturing about deadlines that move at the whim of the men on both sides of the league’s labor dispute and even a scare tactic or two that threatens to cost us the entire 2011-12 season?

We completely understand if lockout fatigue syndrome is full-blown in your household. It’s choking the life out of things here at the hideout, where every breaking news blast is met with a raised eyebrow and questions about who might be pulling the strings on this latest stunt (the dissolution of the union is coming back to the forefront now).

(SI.com and NBA TV’s legal analyst Michael McCann details all of the particulars for you!)

They’ve met in small groups, larger groups and committees. There have been conference calls, secret ones and not-so-secret alike, news conferences and now threats of the union decertifying and still no sign of the one thing we need … a new collective bargaining agreement!

Substantive talks are one thing and we’d welcome anything in that neighborhood going on this weekend.

But showing up to a Manhattan hotel and sticking around just long enough to tell each other that nothing has changed is not what we’d consider progress.

And we’re not the only ones exhausted by the process …

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Bob Ryan of the Boston Globe captures the mood of many with his column that places the current state of affairs in the proper historical context:

It is very annoying for those of us who still love the sport of professional basketball to see what its custodians are currently doing to harm it. I wish it were as easy to decipher as the NFL madness. It was pretty easy to outfit the combatants in that one.

White Hats: Players

Black Hats: Owners

The NFL lockout was about very rich guys, all making a profit from their teams, wanting more. The players asked for nothing. Status quo was fine with them. There was a $9 billion pie, and there was ample opportunity for everyone to get a nice slice.

The NBA pie is worth “only’’ approximately $4 billion, and, unlike the NFL, not everyone makes a profit. That is clear. But just who is losing what remains unclear, because history teaches us that in these matters, professional sports teams make statements concerning their finances that, while perhaps not outright lies, are, shall we say, substantial stretches of the truth. Make that enormous, stupendous, astonishing stretches of the truth.

Is Ellis too pricey for Bulls?

Another day, another candidate to fill that gaping hole at shooting guard in Chicago.

It seems a lot of folks were watching when Derrick Rose was smothered by the Heat defense in the Eastern Conference finals and there was precious little help to him out.

Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury-News is offering up Monta Ellis as a solution to move the Warriors ahead into a new era and to solve the Bulls’ problem.
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Curry In An Upset?

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Outside of the MVP (LeBron James) and Sixth-Man (Jamal Crawford) races, there isn’t a postseason award more obvious than Rookie of the Year.

It has to be Kings point guard Tyreke Evans, right?

Not according to everyone.

There are those who believe that Warriors guard Stephen Curry, arguably the best rookie of the last three months, could spring the upset.

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Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News explains how it could happen:

“Let’s go over the Curry Sales Points, if I may try to divine the Warriors PR pitch/strategy, and I believe I can…

* Evans is the old story, Curry is the new.

Sure, Evans has the best stats– 20.1 points, 5.8 assists, 5.3 rebounds, 1.5 steals, 45.8% FG, 26.1 % three-point in 69 games, averaging 37.4 minutes.

But he’s not a ton better than Curry’s stats and Evans hasn’t had an upward trend.

Evans pretty much has ground out 20/5.5 asst/5.2 reb games, from November on, and he has seemed like the inevitable ROY from right about then. Yawn.
Curry has gotten to his season averages–16.9 points, 5.9 assists, 4.3 rebounds, 1.9 steals, 46% FG, 43.2% three-point in 76 games, averaging 35.9 minutes–in a rising fashion, spiking dramatically from January on.
That gets noticed. That’s a new thing. I think  there will be an inevitable backlash against Evans, just because he’s been the odds-on guy for so long.

Curry’s month-by-month scoring average, starting in November: 9.8, 13.5, 19.1 (January), 21.5, 19.8 and 25.4 in April.

His month-by-month assist average, starting in November: 5.3, 3.7, 5.1, 7.3 (February), 7.3, and 8.8 in April.

Take the last two months alone, and Curry’s stats are better than any other rookie’s. That shouldn’t get him the award, but it will affect a lot of people’s thinking.

* It’s not like Curry’s team is much worse than Evans’ in the standings, and in fact, the Warriors have won much more often than Sacramento down the (meaningless) back stretch.

When Sacramento was a decent team in November and December, the Warriors were stinking up, and it seemed obvious that Evans was leading his team to some surprising success and Curry was not doing much for the Warriors’ success rate.

But Sacramento has taken a free fall (14-17 on Dec. 1, and 11-38 since), while the Warriors are still no good, but at least they’ve gone 7-8 since March 11.

And voila, the Warriors have 24 victories, to the Kings’ 25.

* Both Evans and Curry have their fare share of outstanding individual games, including triple-doubles, etc…

But Curry has done it on national TV a few times, and probably with a few more eye-catching flourishes, including his 27-14-8-6 spectacular in the Don Nelson-mania victory over Minnesota just last week.

You do it when the voters are watching, you get extra consideration.”

Kawakami admits that Curry is a longshot to pull this off. And we agree.

But he makes an interesting case for Curry, who has truly been spectacular down the stretch of this season.

Let the debate rage on, for at least a couple more days.

Is is Tyreke?:

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or Steph?:

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