Today’s Best NBA Reporting And Analysis 3/16/16

Golden State Warriors, Draymond Green, NBA Defense
–  Tuesday’s Roundup  (from Josh Martin,  Bleacher Report):
–  Recapping Tuesday’s Games  (from SBNation):
 Spurs’ Bench; Raptors; Pacers  (from Liam Boylan-Pett,  SBNation):
–  Spurs Rounding Into Playoff Mode  (from Michael C. Wright,  ESPN):
–  Popovich:  Bag Shootarounds In Exchange For Short, Direct Film Sessions  (from  Dan Woike,
–  Is C.J. McCollum A Good Defender?  (from Dane Carbaugh,  Blazers Edge):
–  Have Wizards Found Short-term Or Long-term Fix?  (from J. Michael, csnmidatlantic):
 Warriors Create Chaos After Responding To Draymond  (from Monte Poole,  csnbayarea):
Wolves’ Coach Mitchell Wants Bench To Do More Than Just Score  (from Jerry Zgoda,
–  Lack Of Focus Plagues Pistons’ Recent Starts  (from Angelique Chengelis, Detroit News):
–  Heat’s Player Development Program  (from Ethan Skolnick,  Miami Herald):
Josh Richardson’s Turning Point As A 3-Point Shooter  (from Jason Lieser,  Palm Beach Post):
–  Tony Allen, Matt Barnes Evolving Into Point Forwards  (from Ronald Tillery, Commercial Appeal):
–  Jazz Lockdown Defense Returning  (from Tony Jones,  Salt Lake Tribune):
Lakers Finally Making Progress With Advanced Stats  (from Baxter Holmes, ESPN):
–  Screens And Defensive Activity  (from Andrew Schlecht,  Vantage Sports):
–  The Sixers Plan To Get Joel Embiid Healthy  (from Tom Haberstroh,  ESPN):
–  Stackhouse Proving A Quick Study As Raptors’ Assistant  (from Eric Koreen,
Additional Player Notes, Updates, Profiles:
–  Jabari Parker  (from Jeremy Woo,  Sports Illustrated);
Thabo Sefolosha  (from Brad Rowland, Peachtree Hoops):
–  Marreese Speights  (from Jimmy Durkin,  Bay Area News Group):
–  Jerryd Bayless  (from Alex Boeder,
–  LaMarcus Aldridge/Kawhi Leonard  (from Sarah Cilea, BBall Breakdown):
–  Bismack Biyombo  (from Spencer Redmond,  Raptors Republic):
–  Kyle Anderson  (from Bruno Passos, Pounding The Rock):
–  Udonis Haslem  (from Ira Winderman,


Today’s Best NBA Reporting and Analysis: Part One

The Finals:


Curry and Dellavedova (from Jimmy Spencer,  Sporting News):

Read it here:

More on this (from Rodger Sherman, sbnation):





Read and view it here:




–  Five thoughts on the Finals (from Jack Armstrong,

Read it here:




–  The Cavaliers’ Defense Deserves All The Love  (from Tom Ley,

” Timofey Mozgov and Tristan Thompson are both offensive rebound factories, and the effort required to keep them off the glass can make it difficult for the Warriors to get out on the break. The loss of Kyrie Irving meant that the Cavs almost always had their best defensive lineup on the floor, and they had success giving Andre Iguodala the Tony Allen treatment, ignoring him in the perimeter in favor of packing the paint. But above all that, what will stick with me from last night’s game is just how hard the Cavs played on the defensive end. This game was about five guys busting their asses against an a tidal wave of an offense and punching that sucker right back into the sea.”

Read it here:





” A big mistake being made right now — people are attempting to discredit both the Warriors and the non-Lebron Cavaliers. People are wrong to do both. If the Warriors win this series, it is because they have some of the best players in the world and have been the best team in basketball for the last seven or eight months. They have a great coach, a great starting five, a deep bench, and a brilliant group of assistant coaches.

But the Cavaliers aren’t just Lebron James as much as people want to shout that.

Matthew Dellavedova isn’t Kyrie Irving, but Irving also isn’t Dellavedova. Irving is a big time guard, the kind of player who can score baskets and occasionally distribute well, but he isn’t a respected defender and the big question around Irving coming into this series was going to be his defense on Curry or when switched off onto Klay Thompson.

Kevin Love was lost to injury in the first round of the playoffs, eventually Blatt settled into giving major minutes to Tristan Thompson. Thompson is perfectly suited to this series and playing in a lineup with gritty players like Dellavedova and Iman Shumpert. His constant work, similar to what Delly does, is combined with a bit more skill than what the smaller Australian-born guard offers. But they both work very hard, hustling for loose balls, drawing fouls, making their opponent work hard for whatever they get.

Both Dellavedova and Thompson are bringing something to this series that Irving and Love couldn’t, and that Lebron James desperately needed.

But it isn’t just one, or two, or three players. Cleveland also brought Mozgov in this season. The mountain of a center has given Bogut all he can handle through two games in this series.

Read it here:




–  Cavaliers are ‘All In’ when it comes to defense and team unity  (from Terry Pluto,

“It’s the grit squad that we have,” said James. “It’s not cute at all. If you’re looking for us to play sexy, cute basketball, then that’s not us… Everything is tough.”

The Cavs want to beat Golden State for every rebound, every loose ball. They want to make the Warriors work for every open shot. They want to slow the game down, to make it seem almost to crawl for a team that averaged an NBA-best 110 points per game in the regular season.

The Cavs won this game despite shooting a rim-bending 33 percent. They won because (of) a defense led by Matthew Dellavedova

Consider that Tristan Thompson scored the Cavs first two points of the series — 32 seconds into Game 1. That was his last field goal, as he’s 1-of-9 from the field. He has four total points.

But Thompson has snared 29 rebounds in the two games. He challenges opponents driving to the rim.

Thompson? Delly?

Then there’s 7-foot-1 Timofey Mozgov, who is averaging 16.5 points and shooting 56 percent from the field in this series. That makes him an offensive force for this Grit Squad.

The Russian also has 18 rebounds in the two games.”

Read it here:




LeBron James And His ‘Grit Squad’ Win Ugly And Find Their Title Identity In Game 2 (from Jack Winter,  Dime Magazine):

” The numbers have never accurately reflected the true scope of James’ influence. Like there’s no way to account for the impact of a player who guards five positions while simultaneously serving as his team’s floor general and primary scorer, there’s no way to properly assess what an all-time great at the height of his leadership and intellectual sensibilities means to Cleveland mentally, either.

“It’s the grit squad that we have. It’s not cute at all. If you’re looking for us to play sexy, cute basketball, then that’s not us,” he said. “That’s not us right now. Everything is tough. You know, we’re going to come in with an aggressive mindset defensively and offensively. And for us to win a Finals game shooting 32 percent from the field, it’s just a testament of how gritty we can be.”

Read it here:




Cavs 95, Warriors 93; Jason Lloyd’s 46 final thoughts on first NBA Finals win in franchise history  (from Jason lloyd,

Read it here:




From Steve Kerr:    “Sometimes the ball doesn’t bounce your way, it doesn’t go in, it’s fine. I’ve seen it with everybody. I’ve seen it with Michael Jordan, Tim Duncan. It doesn’t matter who you are. Nobody is immune from it. Steph has been phenomenal throughout the playoffs. Doesn’t mean he’s going to light it up every single night. So you chalk it up to a bad night and see what you can do to try to free him up and maybe get him some open looks.”

“This is the Finals. It’s hard. It’s supposed to be hard. We had a tough night. So you have to move on. You’ve got to learn from it and get better, and that’s what we’re going to do.”




And for those with access to ESPN Insider:


–   Game 2 observations: Cavs outworking Warriors on D and offensive glass  (from Kevin Pelton):

” For three rounds of the Eastern Conference playoffs, the Cleveland Cavaliersrelied on a dominant but inefficient LeBron James, offensive rebounds, stout defense and opponents missing 3-point shots to go 12-2 and reach the NBA Finals.

Even before they lost starting point guard Kyrie Irving to a fractured kneecap, there was skepticism that the Cavaliers could keep it up against the tougherGolden State Warriors. But on Sunday night, that same formula allowed them to win Game 2 and tie the Finals at 1-1 heading back to Cleveland for Tuesday’s Game 3.”

Read Kevin’s  “look at the Cavaliers’ keys to victory” here:





Stories from outside the finals:


–  Billy Donovan Doing Is Best Steve Kerr Impersonation  (from Sam Livingston,

” As soon as Kerr accepted the job, he immediately began recruiting an assistant coaching staff that had a lot of NBA experience.

Now, Donovan is trying to follow suit by hiring the same type of assistants.

The purpose of hiring these assistants is the exact same reason Kerr had for hiring his: to set up a smooth transition into the NBA. There are a couple other parallels between Donovan and Kerr that suggest Donovan could very well have a similar rookie season.

First off, both are known to be very keen and creative offensive minds with systems that stress ball-movement.

(Donovan has said)  “That’s what I really believe in, ball movement, player movement, extra pass. If you’ve got a shot and someone’s got a better one, move the ball.”

Maybe the most important similarity of Donovan to Kerr is the team he is inheriting. When he signed on for the job, Kerr got an extremely deep and talented pool of players. Donovan is about to get the very same thing.”

Read it here:




–  The Pelicans’ Roster Under Gentry – What to Expect Next  (from Mason Ginsburg,

” First, Alvin Gentry. Soon after, Darren Erman & Robert Pack. The core of an excellent new Pelicans coaching staff is now in place, and with that being the case, the natural next question is how the upcoming free agency period will be affected by these changes. Below is a player-by-player look at what the Gentry hire could mean for the Pelicans this summer”

Read it here:




Scott Skiles Q & A (from Josh Robbins,

Read it here:




Chandler Parsons, Part One : Shooting (from Bobby Karalla,

Part One of a 5-part breakdown of all elements of his game.

Read and view it here:




Additional Player Notes, Updates, Profiles:


Jarnell Stokes:


Norris Cole:


Matt Barnes:


Jordan McRae:


Quincy Miller:


Julius Randle:


Sergio Llull:

Today’s Best NBA Reporting and Analysis

–   The Last Ride of the Spurs Dynasty: Appreciating San Antonio’s Final Hurrah   (from Zach Lowe,

” The Spurs should be the biggest story of the postseason as long as they’re kicking. There are other meaty issues: the Warriors’ quest to cap their historically dominant regular season; LeBron James, redeeming Cleveland and dunking Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving into the playoff baptismal pool; Derrick Rose’s desperate search for his MVP zip; the trumped-up battle over Chris Paul’s “legacy”; the Hawks, once the NBA’s most vanilla organization, soldiering through tabloid headlines and the possibility that police brutality ended Thabo Sefolosha’s season; and the Wizards’ and Raptors’ dual quest to play a passable professional basketball game.

But nothing tops what could be the last stand of the Spurs as we know them. Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili are 381 and 37, respectively, and both could retire — even though each is clearly capable of playing at a high level beyond this season. Six other rotation players are free agents, including Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green, perhaps the best two-way starting wing combination in the league. The Spurs are down 1-0, with Game 2 on the road against the strongest first-round opponent they’ve faced in the Tim Duncan era.

The Spurs could easily win this series,2 repeat as champions, and re-sign their aging stars to one- or two-year contracts. This could all be much ado about nothing. The franchise hasn’t faced this level of top-to-bottom uncertainty since Duncan dined with the Magic in 2000, and it’s hard to quash the feeling of preemptive nostalgia as you watch Duncan drain bank shots and nail every rotation while Ginobili dances steps he literally invented. Appreciate it all, because this really could be the last springtime run for one of the greatest core groups in the history of team sports.”

Read and view  it here:

(NOTE:  This story also includes Zach’s takes on a number of the other playoff series)




– Let’s Look at the Clippers’ Perfect Offensive Scheme  (from Sagar Panchal,

Read and view it here:




 Draymond Green:  Brow’s shadow steps into spotlight  (from Ethan Sherwood Strauss, ESPN):

” After the Golden State Warriors finally closed out the scrapping New Orleans Pelicans 97-87 in Game 2, Klay Thompson got the national TV interview. Draymond Green, whose defense was astounding on Monday night, talked for the local feed. It happened that way because that’s how we’ve always done things. If you scored the most points and your team won, you’re getting the biggest spotlight. It’s the formula because scoring a basket is obvious and preventing one is less obvious.

Though Thompson certainly deserves acclaim for a great shooting game, this particular space will mostly be reserved for crediting Green, fulcrum of a Golden State defense that held New Orleans to 37.8 percent shooting. Green’s overall defense on Monday night was brilliant, but most especially against Anthony Davis. Their battles echo those of the shorter Tony Allen throwing everything atKevin Durant — the undersized grinder going up against young Goliath.

In theory, this should have been too large a task for Green, who’s the size of a wing player. “It’s tough, man,” he said after the game. “Most guys I give up length to who I guard, most them aren’t as quick as me though.”

Read  it here:




–  Draymond Green, Warriors’ bench fuel Game 2 win against pesky Pelicans (from Phil Taylor,  Sports Illustrated):

”  The Warrior reserves were missing in action in Game 1, but they re-emerged on Monday night at the best possible time for Golden State. The Warriors trailed 28-17 after the first quarter and were badly in need of a boost. Leandro Barbosa came off the bench to score eight points on an assortment of drives and jumpers, Marreese Speightsdrilled a couple of mid-range shots and Andre Iguodala made a corner three after some crisp ball movement.

Boost provided.

“Nobody will write it, nobody will talk about it, but the bench won us the game,” Green said. “When they left the game we were still down seven, but they changed the complete pace and tempo of the game. We were getting punched and getting punched and getting punched, and then the second unit came out and threw a punch.”’

Read it here:



–  This is why you pay Draymond Green his money (from Tom Ziller, SBNation):

” In the context of the Warriors, Draymond Green is a virtuoso. There is absolutely no reason for Golden State to abandon the relationship.”

Read it here:




–  The Other Guy: Klay Thompson on His Sensational Season  (from Kirk Goldsberry,

Read and view it here:




–  Nets look to get Brook Lopez going  (from Mike Mazzeo,  ESPN):

Read it here:




–  How the Atlanta Hawks (and Lionel Hollins) Limited Brook Lopez in Game 1  (from Paul Mitchell,

Read and view it here:




–  Film Study: The Nets ability to stop the Hawks 3-point assault  (from  Reed Wallach,

Read and view it here:




–  How Can the Celtics Slow Down Kyrie Irving?  (from Jordan Greer,

Read and view it here:




–  Kyrie Was Hot but Celtics’  TO% and Cavs’  OReb Pursuit Rate Are More Telling  (from Kevin O’Connor,  Vantage Sports):

” “The turnovers kill you. The offensive rebounds kill you,” (Celtics’ Coach Brad) Stevens said. “The superhuman shots do not.”

Read and view it here:




–  Video Review: How the Rockets ran the ball down the Mavericks’ throat  (from Matt Moore,  CBS Sports):

Read and view it here:




–  Digging deeper into James Harden’s Game 1  (from Jake Garcia,

Read and view it here:


Rockets-Mavs:  WHAT TO WATCH FOR: GAME 2 (from Bobby Karalla,

Read and view it here:



–  How the Mavericks can fix the problem of Dirk Nowitzki’s defense  (from Josh Bowe,

Read and view it here:




–  Dwight Howard plans to stop using ‘weight-room muscles’ against Mavericks in Game 2  (from Eddie Sefko,

Read it here:




Butler’s Efficient Scoring Helped by Bulls’ Assist Rate as Bucks Fail to Keep Pace  (from Bob macKinnon, Vantage Sports):

Read and view it here:–bulls-4-20-15-game-2-the-butler-did-it-on-his-way-to-a-playoff-career-high-31-points-by-nailing-1.35-points-per-shot.




– Bucks offense stagnates with lack of passing in Game 2 loss  (from Mark Strotman,

Read it here:




George Karl on the playoffs (from Bill Herenda,

Read it here:




–  Player development a Scott Brooks strength  (from Berry Tramel,

” (A) criticism I’ve heard about Brooks is measureable. And quite absurd. The idea that Brooks doesn’t develop players.

What can anyone possibly be talking about? Player development has been a Thunder mantra since the franchise hit town, and it’s not just talk. The Thunder develops players wonderfully, and coaching has to be a major part of that. Let’s go down the list:”

Read it here:




–   With Enes Kanter, the Thunder plugged one hole but opened another  (from Berry Tramel,

” Kanter could score. but his defense was atrocious”

Read it here: http://new




–  A year of familiarity figures to get Pistons closer to top-10 D standing SVG craves  (from Keith Langlois,

Read it here:



Additional Player Notes, Updates, Profiles:



Paul Millsap:


James Johnson:


James Harden:


Jimmy Butler:


Mike Conley:


Terrence Ross:


Robin Lopez:


Clint Capela:


Jordan Adams:


Elfrid Payton;


Isaiah Canaan:


Nik Stauskas:


Tyler Johnson:


Furkan Aldemir:


Ish Smith:

Today’s Best NBA Reporting and Analysis

How Steph Curry got his defensive groove  (from Ethan Sherwood Strauss,  ESPN):

” To Steve Kerr, it was a no-brainer.

The Golden State Warriors’ incoming coach knew it helped a team’s morale to see the best player doing the dirty work of playing defense. He had an offensive wonder determined to become the best player in the game. And he had a defensive guru — assistant coach Ron Adams — in his ear.

“He was a really melded player already,” Adams said of Stephen Curry. “But there was always a caveat. As in, he didn’t have to defend his position. I think if you want to be the best, and he wants to be the best, you have to do both things.”

So two weeks after his hire, Kerr spoke to Curry over lunch in the Bay Area and explained that the team’s practice of hiding their top scorer on defense was over.

Curry would have to D up.”

Read and view it here:



9 things the Charlotte Hornets need to do in NBA off-season (from Rick Bonnell,  Charlotte Observer):

”  The 2014-15 Charlotte Hornets started with a new name, new colors, new uniforms. It appears the season will end with the same old no progress in the playoffs.
They figure to miss the post-season and if they do get to eighth place in the Eastern Conference they would face an Atlanta Hawks team that has been their Kryptonite in recent seasons.
So maybe it’s already time to look ahead to the summer and what needs correction. The Hornets face some serious questions this off-season. Here is a nine-point fix-it list.”

Read it here:



–  Pelicans’ season hinges on unheralded supporting cast  (from Rob Mahoney,  Sports Illustrated):

” New Orleans has withstood runs by Oklahoma City and Phoenix (the latter now mathematically eliminated) and lost a combined 93 games to the injury of four core players (Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday,Ryan Anderson, and Eric Gordon), all the while making modest gains in the standings. This team has every reason to be firmly in the lottery given its rotten luck. Instead, the Pelicans currently occupy the West’s final playoff spot by way of their head-to-head tiebreaker with the Thunder.

It’s natural to credit Davis, who has been as spectacular this season as any player in the league. But should the Pelicans make the postseason cut, they’ll do so based on the startling competence of the team’s other components. A six-game stretch without Davis spanning February and March may have saved New Orleans’ season. In it, those other Pelicans stop-gapped and duct-taped their way to a 5-1 record. Every inch of that stretch now matters, leaving the fate of the West’s final playoff spot—​whether the Thunder players realize it or not—with the likes of Tyreke Evans, Quincy Pondexter, and Omer Asik. ”

Read it here:




–  Oklahoma City Thunder: The brain trust behind general manager Sam Presti  (from Darnell Mayberry,

” Inside a conference room each June are the roughly 15 people who quietly have helped build the Thunder into the perennial power you see today. They comprise a front office that is widely regarded throughout the NBA as one of the best in basketball.”

Read it here:




–  The Rockets need to use unconventional lineups to win in the playoffs  (from Jesus Gomez,

” The best way for Houston to make up for the absences of Patrick Beverley and Donatas Motiejunas is to emulate the Warriors’ unorthodox lineups.

Since March 25, the day Motiejunas joined Beverley in the inactive list, the Rockets have allowed almost 106 points per 100 possessions, six more than before the injuries. That’s a similar defensive rating as the Orlando Magic’s. The Rockets have been winning on offensive talent alone lately, but the rotation Kevin McHale has been using won’t cut it, not against good teams. The Rockets need to figure out a way to improve on defense while not getting significantly worse on offense, or their championship aspirations are in real danger.

While there are traditional options to explore such as starting Pablo Prigioni instead of Terry or giving rookie Clint Capella a shot, there are also some unorthodox options the Rockets should consider trying. All make the Rockets more like their rivals in Golden State.”

Read it here:




–  Brad Stevens finds comfort zone  (from Steve Bulpett, Boston Herald):

”  (H)e always appears to be comfortable in his own skin. And if there is anything beyond his obvious knowledge of basketball — and his thirst for more — it is this quality that has led him to success with the Celtics in his second NBA season:

‘I think any time you take a new job and you’re in a leadership position, you can’t just assume that you’re going to be able to lead effectively without getting to know people and without them getting a chance to make their own opinion on you. And I haven’t tried to do anything with any guy that’s been through the door other than try to be there if they need me, try to help and try to work my tail off so they know I’m working.

“I can’t go out there and say, ‘You have to believe me because I know what I’m doing because I’ve done this before.’ That’s not the way it works. That’s not the way anything works in any line of work. You have to work hard, and hopefully people, even though they know you’re going to make mistakes, recognize that you’re trying to do your best. I’ve been lucky that I’ve been very supported from above and by the players, but, no matter what, I just try to work.’ ”

Read it here:





” The NBA is a players league. It’s always talent over coaching, and it will always stay that way. But having one of the best coaches is also a huge asset. The Boston Celtics may or may not make the playoffs this season, but it is becoming obvious that their coach is one of the best in doing his job.”

Read  and view it here:



– Four factors that have made Celtics playoff contenders (from A. Sherrod Blakely,

” Boston is trying its best to finish off this 180-degree turn on its season, one in which the Celtics are trying to secure a playoff spot after being a lottery-bound afterthought most of this season.

So how’d they do it?

Here we’ll examine four factors that were significant contributors to Boston becoming a playoff contender when so many believed they would once again watch the playoffs from home instead of actually having a shot at being part of the show.”

Read it here:




– Celtics’ frontcourt puts Isaiah Thomas in good position  (from A. Sherrod Blakely,

”  It was the Isaiah Thomas show for most of the night in the Celtics’ 113-103 victory at Detroit on Wednesday night.

Lost in Thomas’ 34-point scoring binge was the play of Boston’s frontcourt, whose presence was critical in the Celtics getting a much-needed victory and Thomas having a season-high scoring night that just four short of equaling his career high.

It’s not until you look at the video closely do you see most of Thomas’ scoring from the field, as well as his assists, came because the Celtics’ frontcourt put the Pistons in a pick-your-poison predicament most of the game – something they hope to do more of in these final four games of the season.”

Read it here:




C.J. McCollum:  The Bright Spot in Portland’s Dark Season   (from Zach Lowe, Grantland):

” Halfway through the season, Portland looked like a dark-horse contender — a two-way powerhouse seasoned with rare roster continuity and some playoff experience. Their starters could hit the marks of Terry Stotts’s “flow” offense while wearing blindfolds, and they had improbably sharpened into a borderline top-five defensive team.

It has been hell ever since. LaMarcus Aldridge hurt his thumb, Wesley Matthews tore his Achilles, Chris Kaman and Nicolas Batum battled through nagging issues, Robin Lopez hasn’t been the same since a hand injury of his own, and Dorell Wright broke his hand. The Blazers are a middling 10-8 since Matthews’s devastating injury, and their defense ranks 20th in points allowed per possession since the All-Star break. A dream season, frankly, looks ruined.

Which is why it’s important to appreciate the silver linings that could make Portland a grittier out than the West juggernauts might imagine: C.J. McCollum has been playing his ass off since Matthews’s injury, and especially over Portland’s last dozen games, in which he’s averaged 13 points on 52 percent shooting — including 42 percent from deep. He’s the off-the-bounce bench weapon it’s never really had, he can play alongside Damian Lillard in some matchups, and he has eased into a background role when he’s on the floor with Portland’s stars.”

Read it here:




–  How The Blazers’ 3-Point Shooting Reached New Heights In 2015, And What It Means  (from Evans Clinchy,

Read and view it here:




Hornets’ Defensive Fundamentals  (from Jordan M. Foley, Vantage Sports):

‘ Vantage has previously covered the swarming defense of the Charlotte Hornets, but this team’s defensive prowess deserves another look. Charlotte has made a clear commitment to the defensive side of the ball, and while it may not be paying off in the standings, the Hornets have built a defensive fortress over the course of the season. Without many lockdown individual defenders, Charlotte has built its defense around limiting team mistakes and robbing opposing teams of opportunities.”

Read and view it here:




–  Amid a Woeful Circus, Basketball’s Lowly Strivers Carry the Knicks  (from Dan Barry,  NYTimes):

” A few men just a half-notch above N.B.A. anonymity have been stepping onto the floor of a world-renowned sports arena and taking one — and then another, and then another — for the team that rents them. They did it again Wednesday night, losing to the Indiana Pacers in a lopsided game squeezed between the timeouts for carnival acts and video-screen waves from a section pompously called Celebrity Row.

But for all the basketball horror conveyed in a 15-63 record, there is also honor in the Knicks of 2014-15. Honor not necessarily among its executives, who own this season-long abomination, but among its players, who play in hope of prolonging their flickering New York minute.

These are the hungry temp workers of the league, the undrafted strivers, the sacrificial lambs offered up to complete a season that was cooked by Christmas. Many of them have managed to stay on because they are giving their all, which is rarely enough to muster a victory, and because the Knicks are obligated to provide warm bodies in blue-and-orange uniforms until the team’s 82nd and final game next week.”

Read it here:



Additional Player Notes, Updates, Profiles:


Arron Afflalo:


Paul George:   and


Andrew Bogut:


Andrew Wiggins:




Rodney Hood:


Patrick Patterson:


Matt Barnes:


Steph Curry:


Thomas Robinson:


Michael Carter-Williams:


–  Donatas Motiejunas:


Chris Paul:

Today’s Top NBA Stories

– Rest remains a challenge for NBA coaches, players (from Associated Press):

” It can be a guessing game who Popovich plays; he has set the bar when it comes to resting his veterans.

Many other coaches would like to follow his lead, but even for Popovich trying to manage players’ minutes and keep them fresh through the grind of the NBA’s 82-game regular season is a tricky task.

“It’s called the seat-of-my-pants science,” Popovich quipped.”

Read it here:

– The Mutually Beneficial Pairing of Rudy Gay and the Kings (from Zach Lowe,

Read it here:

– Why Rudy Gay and the Kings are perfect for each other (from Tom Ziller, SBNation):

” The deal to keep Gay in Sacramento will allow the scorer to reach free agency at a better moment and ends some uncertainty for the Kings.”

Read it here:

And from James Ham at Cowbell Kingdom:

– Reggie Jackson’s final shot against Rockets: designed hero-ball or rogue heat check? (from Kevin Yeung,

” After forcing a stop on a James Harden isolation late in the game last night, the Oklahoma City Thunder were only down three with 16.4 seconds left. They had a very real chance to tie the score and force an overtime against the (previously) 8-1 Houston Rockets.

But the resulting play out of the timeout was a complete dud. In the official play-by-play, it shows up as “Reggie Jackson misses 28-foot three-pointer,” coming only six seconds after the timeout. In reality, the distance was the least of Jackson’s problems. The shot he took was a simple pull-up jumper, thrown up with Dwight Howard closely contesting.”

Read and view it here:

– Secrets to the Memphis Grizzlies’ Hot Start (from Tom Firme, Bleacher Report):

Read it here:

– Mike Conley Q &A (from Chris Mannix, Sports Illustrated):

Read it here:

– Cavaliers’ Title Hopes Depend on Defensive Effort That Has Been Clearly Lacking (from Ethan Skolnick, Bleacher Report):

” How do you create a decent defensive team when your roster is short on guys known for their defensive disposition?

“Well, you got to teach,” Cavaliers coach David Blatt said. “You have to raise the level of expectation, and the level of accountability, and you have to make the whole greater than the sum of its parts. Sometimes if you’re not blessed with great individual defenders, your principles have to be that much stronger, and your helps and your court recognition have to be that much better. And that’s why it’s taken us longer in that area of the game than on the offensive end…. Defense, like offense, in a team sport, in the dynamic of a basketball game, is very much made up of team concept, team principles and the willingness of everyone to buy into that and to be accountable for that. And that’s what we’re working on.”

Read it here:

– Lakers threaten to go from bad to toxic (from Baxter Holmes, ESPNLosAngeles):

” They were never supposed to have much of a season — just one, long, loss-filled trudge to the lottery. But just 10 games in, it’s starting to turn toxic.

They were never expected to have much of a team — just an aging superstar and a patchwork crew. But just a few weeks in, it’s starting to unravel at the seams.

The Los Angeles Lakers‘ defense is on pace to be one of the worst in history. Kobe Bryant is on pace to miss shots at a faster rate than anyone in history. And the team is on track to have its worst season in franchise history. ”

Read it here:

– Stevens implores C’s to ‘do your job’ (from Chris Forsberg, ESPN):

“One of the things I really tried to emphasize today was, regardless of circumstance, we all have a job to do,” Stevens said. “And the hardest thing is to focus on that job without emotion. Things are going really well, you’ve got to focus on the task without emotion. If things are going really poorly and it feels like the weight of the world is falling on your shoulders, focus on what your job is and do it well. That’s easier said than done, but that’s our emphasis as we move forward. It should be something that we’re doing anyway.”

Read it here:

– CJ McCollum and Damian Lillard Share Defensive Journey (from Willy Raedy,

” After very different NBA beginnings, CJ McCollum and Damian Lillard went into this summer with the same focus – improving their pick and roll defense.”

Read and view it here:

– David Aldridge of on Steve Kerr and the Warriors, Superstars Resting and a Joe Johnson Q & A:

– Bob Delaney applies stress strategies learned in military (from Steve Aschburner,

” Staying strong emotionally plays a key role for NBA referees”

Read it here:

More player updates:

– Shawn Marion:

– Will Cherry:

– Jared Sullinger:

– Robert Covington:

– Jabari Parker and Giannis Antetokounmpo:

– Joe Harris:

– Shawne Williams:

– Nate Wolters:

– Aaron Gordon:

– Matt Barnes:

– Tony Wroten: