Every team has their superstar. The guy who gets buckets when it counts, forces turnovers in the clutch and makes plays us mere mortals can only dream of pulling off. Cleveland have LeBron. The Lakers have Kobe. Houston have Harden and the Thunder have Durant. But what about the others on the roster? The ones who go unnoticed by the casual observer but are game changers to those in the know. These are the underrated stars. Their stats may not be great but it’s the little things they do that endear them to coaches, players and fans alike. Here are my top underrated stars thus far in the 2014/15 season. (more…)
Tag: LA Lakers
He’s just 31 points away from third on the all time scoring list, but that’s not the real accomplishment for a guy like Kobe Bryant. Having modeled his game from a man who is widely regarded as the greatest to ever play, the passing of Michael Jordan holds a high level of significance for the Black Mamba, and he’s nearly there.
It’s been a while since we’ve done Rookie Watch here at NBA Nation Australia.
Before the 2012/13 season we focused on Jared Sullinger, Bradley Beal and Thomas Robinson throughout their rookie NBA seasons, and the features were always hugely popular.
I chose young shooting guard Bradley Beal, as I believed firmly he would evolve into someone with the ilk of a truly great NBA player, who would be as fun to watch as he would be exciting. Thankfully, I’ve been proven right with Beal capping off a fantastic season for the Washington Wizards in the 2014 Playoffs. He’s becoming more confident in his role every day, and going forward will be an integral part of the Wizard’s plan.
This year, with the NBA draft being so deep, we’ve decided to jump back on the rookie watch bandwagon, and cover a couple of the guys who perhaps aren’t getting quite the amount of hype or media attention they deserve. You have your Wiggins’s and your Parker’s, but we’ll be taking time out to check in on a couple of guys who are sure to be big players not only in the rookie of the year stakes, but also for their respective teams throughout the NBA season.
So, I’m choosing someone a little closer to my heart in ex-Kentucky Wildcat and 2014 NCAA runner up, Julius Randle, who was selected by the Los Angeles Lakers with the 7th overall pick in the Draft.
These will be ongoing pieces throughout the year, so please feel free to forward us anything interesting you find relating to our respective players and we’ll include it in our reports. Be it a tweet, video, Instagram or an article… if you think it’s relevant, send it through!
Standing a formidable 6 foot 9 inches, Julius Randle was one of the more polarizing figures in the 2014 draft. A Kentucky freshman, he was one of the Wildcats’ best performers throughout the 2013/14 NCAA season, helping his team reach the Championship game in March and while Kentucky lost to the University of Connecticut in a close contest, Randle was undoubtedly one of the highlights. Averaging 15 points and 10 rebounds per contest, he shot 50% across 40 games for the Cats and lead the Nation in double-doubles with 24 on the year. Randle also played alongside Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker in the 2013 McDonald’s All American game as well as the Jordan Brand Classic that year, one of six Wildcats competing in the event.
The Lakers had been enamored with Randle throughout much of their 2013/14 campaign, and with their off-season focus turning towards the draft, he became their number one target. While Lakers management believed Randle would be off the board by the 7th pick, the Lakers were overjoyed when their rival Celtics took Oklahoma State point guard Marcus Smart at six, leaving the door wide open for them to claim their man.
Called the draft’s “most NBA ready player” by the experts, the 250lb power forward will be heavily featured in Lakers coach Byron Scott’s rotation, especially now that their two time champ and star big man Pau Gasol has made the move to Chicago. Providing the team with stellar defensive efficiency, and the ability to muscle his way through traffic in the paint will mean big things for a Lakers team without an enforcer type player to throw his weight around down low. Randle can move with the ball, get his own shot, and out-muscle his competition on the glass – A huge advantage for the Lakers who were a lowly 25th in rebounding percentage last season.
New team mate and fellow workhorse Kobe Bryant, who has made a career out of demanding the best out of his fellow players, was pleased with the drafting of Randle, given his love for hard work.
“I demand a lot from my teammates as well. Holding each other accountable, putting extra work in was what I had to do at Kentucky. It was what I demanded of my teammates and that’s what we did and that’s why we were successful.” Randle said on draft night. “He [Kobe] may get tired of me because I’m going to be bugging him, trying to learn stuff from him. I’m going to learn a lot from him.”
We believe you, rook.
Summer League 2014
Randle’s first experience as a member of the Lakers came during July’s NBA Summer League tournament in Las Vegas, NV where alongside fellow draftee Jordan Clarkson and a host of other Laker hopefuls, he impressed officials and sent a wave of excitement around Laker Nation. Whilst the Lakers finished the tournament with a 2-3 record, the two rookies were at the forefront of the team for the duration, impressing both fans and critics alike with a wide range of skills.
Missing the first game due to a contract mishap, Randle averaged 12 points, 4 rebounds and 2 assists in 28 minutes across four starts, all the while shooting a respectable 44.8%. Both he and Clarkson are expected to arrive at Lakers HQ in El Segundo, CA this month ahead of training camp in early October.
Check out some of Randle’s highlights from the SL below:
Social Media Highlights
As is the case with most high profile sports stars these days, social media plays a huge part in their day to day lives, as it does ours, so part of our rookie updates will include the best of Instagram, Twitter and Facebook throughout the season. in case you’re not already following Julius Randle, you can do so via the links below. For now, here are a few highlights so far:
Name: Julius Randle
DOB: 29/11/1994 (Age 19)
Position: Power Forward
Pick: Selected with the 7th overall pick by the LA Lakers in the 2014 Draft
College: University of Kentucky Wildcats
So there you have it – Julius Randle, the highest Laker draft pick since James Worthy in 1982. The kid has some big shoes to fill but we can’t wait to see how his game evolves during his time with the Lakers. Thanks for reading, and make sure you keep checking back for regular updates. Again, if you want to submit something to be a part of the next update, send it to us and we’ll include it!
In the wake of one of the worst 24 months in Los Angeles Lakers history, much maligned head coach Mike D’Antoni has resigned from his position with the team effective immediately.
D’Antoni arrived in LA as a successor to Mike Brown, who was fired by the Lakers after a 1-5 start to the 2012 season. Formerly of the Nuggets, Suns and Knicks, he was unpopular with fans from the very start, with many believing Phil Jackson was the right option at the time.
D’Antoni, along with Dwight Howard, Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant struggled to make an impact on the league throughout his first season, ensuring the bad taste in fans’ mouths only worsened. Marred by injury, and a lack of talent in his second year, the Lakers and Mike never stood a chance in season 2013/14.
Last week it was reported that the Lakers were intent on keeping D’Antoni around until the end of his contract at the culmination of next year, but that he wanted them to pick up his fourth year option. Until today that was where it had been left, but earlier this afternoon ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne reported that D’Antoni had, in fact, resigned. It isn’t clear what will become of the $4 million left on the table by Coach D’Antoni, but it has been said that an undisclosed amount will still be given to him.
Laker fans have been ruthless when it comes to Mike D’Antoni, and while not the best man for the job, he has given his absolute all to a team with no talent, an unfathomable injury toll and who are a shell of their former selves. The D’Antoni reign in LA was strained, but one that Laker fans can now move on from.
The search will now begin for a new coach, with a myriad of options exposing themselves within the last few hours. It is in the best interest to the Lakers to take their time, and make a choice which best suits the team and direction they’re headed in.
There are tough times ahead for the Lakers, so cool heads must prevail, and conscious decisions made when selecting the new man to guide them back to the top.
D’Antoni leaves the Lakers with a 67-87 record in his two seasons with the team
Widely regarded as the greatest coach in NBA history, with 11 titles to his name with MJ’s Bulls in the 90’s and Kobe’s Lakers in the 00’s, Phil Jackson’s NBA status is nothing short of legendary. Throughout his tenure as coach of two of the greatest dynasties in league history, Jackson remained an ever constant subject through both glory and despair, with his teams enjoying shining victories and humiliating defeats. His ever watchful, compassionate presence was to players as a father is to a son. Caring, nurturing and understanding whilst always ensuring lessons were being learned every day. Jackson’s success, as he claims, doesn’t stem simply from talent, but from the ability to connect with the people around him on a level unseen to the outside world. This why his nickname, The Zen Master, is synonymous with who he really is. A believer in accepting and understanding your surrounds, and not just focusing on oneself.
This is Phil’s pursuit of success and happiness, and one he’s been able to pass down to several of the NBA’s greatest ever players throughout the years.
Phil’s journey since leaving the Lakers in 2011 has been a rocky one. Dealing with his own illness, while being by his fiance Jeanie Buss’ side throughout her dear father, Dr Jerry Buss’ sickness and eventual death, and a potential new contract with the Lakers which for reasons largely unknown fell apart at the last minute. After retiring from NBA coaching, it’s hard to imagine Phil would’ve been subjected to the drama he’s seen since being swept by the eventual Champion Dallas Mavericks in the 2011 Playoffs. Yet here he is. Not only a celebrity in his own right, but still a very much sought after asset for every team in the NBA. A part of Phil must relish the spotlight, and one team has created a new opportunity for him to be a part of it. The team with which he began his NBA journey. The New York Knicks.
It has been written to death for a week now, by a thousand NBA writers, that the Knicks have extended a big offer to Phil Jackson which they are hoping will help propel them into the next era of New York basketball, and provide them with a new lease on life. It’s no secret that the biggest market in the NBA has been one of the great disappointments in the league for many years, with millions of fans being let down year after year because of poor decisions and bad financial management. Now more than ever, with a new team across the river in Brooklyn, it is important for the Knicks to start becoming a regular threat in the playoffs. No one is scared of the Knickerbockers, and they haven’t been for a long time. Can Phil Jackson change that fact? It’s a long shot, but one most Knick fans would agree is a chance they are willing to take. With several bad contracts on the books, no draft picks and a disgruntled superstar’s free agency looming, things are looking grim for the immediate future of this franchise.
What Jackson will do is encourage stars to sign with the Knicks in the future. It’s a well documented fact that he’s a fan of superstars, as they are him, and as it stands, there is little the Knicks have to garner the attention of players that they want to sign. The Carmelo Anthony factor is a big one for the Knicks, and now that the trade deadline has passed, they are banking on his re-signing come free agency. Should Jackson take the job, it will go a long way in helping ensure his signature stays in Manhattan. Be it the right move or not it is what the Knicks, and their fans, desperately want.
Jackson seemingly is ready to make his move and re-enter the NBA stratosphere. After the failed attempt to get back to coaching during last season’s tumultuous events in Los Angeles, it was expected he would resign to the fact he would never coach in the NBA again, even putting a fork in it himself at one stage. The decision by the Lakers to hire former Suns/Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni angered many involved with the Lakers including fans, players and even a Buss herself. Jeanie has since explained her distaste at her brother Jim’s decision to hire D’Antoni over Phil, but speculation also continues to circle that it was indeed her late father Jerry who decided against re-hiring Jackson. It’s neither here nor there, and the truth will probably never be known. All we do know, is that Phil Jackson was ready to coach the Los Angeles Lakers last season, and was snubbed. One could argue that snub not only upset Phil (he would argue it didn’t), but also motivated him even more.
Since the Knicks first extended an offer, the stories have been running rampant about whether Phil will indeed accept the job, or fall by the wayside once again. It has been said that Jackson wants full control of basketball decisions. It’s also been written that he wants to coach too. All this along with a huge asking price. Speculation of course, but similar terms were said to be in play during negotiations with the Lakers a little over a year ago. Whatever the price, you can be sure the Knicks would be happy to entertain him until he gives them an answer. Would Phil be successful in a front office role? It’s hard to say, but he was influential in the hiring of the now fired Detroit coach Maurice Cheeks last off season, after he extended his hand to the Pistons in the decision making process. Hardly a lynchpin by which to judge his future successes or failures, but an interesting point nonetheless.
Phil’s interest in the NBA since retiring is indicative of his everlasting love of the game, and an example of how hard it can be to let go. Wise move or not, Phil Jackson wants back in the NBA, and the Knicks are providing him with that opportunity. Whether he takes it or not, is a whole other story. Can his attitude towards basketball and life in general be an asset to the struggling Knicks, or will it make no difference at all? These questions are worth pondering, and you can be sure Jackson will be doing just that, but the simple fact he is even considering it tells us all we need to know. The Zen Master is ready to make his return. Which team is lucky enough to accommodate it, remains to be seen.
As mentioned earlier, Phil Jackson’s view on life and all it holds is incredibly important to him, and in turn the decision making process. You can be sure that his eventual reconciliation will not only revolve around himself, but also his family, his friends, the players he’ll work with, colleagues and probably even the weather. Being in touch with who he is, and surrounding himself with who and what he needs to be successful is probably the most difficult aspect of any choice he eventually makes.
We’ll keep you updated with any developments.
Jordan, Kobe, Lebron. Lebron, Jordan, Kobe. Kobe, Lebron, Jordan. When will it stop? Why does there need to be such a constant comparison between the three? They are three of the best to ever grace the game. Each has brought something different to the court. You could even say that each has revolutionised how the great game of hoops is played. But do we really need to say who is the best? Personally, I’m over it. Here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to put the whole comparing thing to bed. Finish it once and for all so that we never need to hear about how so and so is the best.
The whole conversation reminds me of my childhood. You’d have your mates over for a party. Mum would make fairy bread. You’d drink so much soft drink you’d be physically ill. Lollies would be found in the dirt but you’d still force them down but as the day turned to night the conversation amongst the friends would become heated. As adults you never talk about sex, religion or politics at the dinner table. The equivalent for children was to decide who had the best dad. “My dad is better than your dad because he made me a sweet cubby house”. “Pfffft! My dad is better than your dad because he built our house”. “Whatever! My dad is better than your dad because he built Sydney. All of it!”. “Well my dad wrestled an elephant!” “My dad punched out Chuck Norris!” and so on and so forth. It was a discussion that could never be won no matter what anybody would say because you already had your mind set on your dad being the best and were determined to one up everyone else even if it meant stretching the truth. Jordan Vs Kobe Vs Lebron is exactly the same. Consider them your basketball fathers. Everyone has a favourite and it doesn’t matter what anyone else says your mind will never change. If anyone badmouths your basketball dad you come out swinging with stats and stories and whatever else you can think of and ignore what anybody else has to say.
All great players. But they cannot be compared. Each plays a different brand of ball. Lebron has size and muscle that the other two don’t, meaning Lebron can rely on his physical strength to get to the rack or back down a defender. Jordan would make every player around him better. Look at what he did for Scottie. Jordan made his weaknesses strengths. Critics said he couldn’t shoot. So he proved them wrong. Critics said he couldn’t play D but MJ worked as hard, if not harder at the defensive end of the floor. Kobe has his self belief as a massive strength. Kobe believes he can win in all situations.
But Lebron had to move to Miami to win his championships. Kobe couldn’t do it without Shaq. MJ couldn’t beat the Bad Boy Pistons. Kobe and Jordan stuck with the one team. Kobe only has one MVP. Lebron only gets awards because Stern loves him. Jordan can’t win without Pippen… Sound familiar?? I’m sure it does. It’s because of conversations like these that there will never be a consensus. Because there cannot be a consensus there’s no point to the conversation. It’ll just be a never ending circle of one upmanship of why your basketball dad is better than someone else’s basketball dad.
So last week’s edition of the weekly hoop scoop was M.I.A due to some much deserved, OK, maybe just needed, holiday time for myself and now that I’m back in the realm of weekly drudgery, a few kilos heavier and with an even bigger drinking habit than before I left, I felt it was time to get back to informing our loyal readers with all that’s been happening in the world of the NBA.
There’s been a veritable plethora of action as per usual this week so welcome back to the Weekly Hoop Scoop at NBA Nation Australia.
Monday November 11th
San Antonio Spurs 120 – New York Knicks 89.
The New York Knicks horror start continued when they were blown out by last year’s NBA finalists the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs were led by the stellar three point shooting of Danny Green and by the ever improving Kawhi Leonard. Green had 24 points and went 6 of 9 from the behind the arc and Leonard added 18 points on 7 of 10 shooting.
The Knicks shooting was abysmal, 37.8% from the field and 27.3% from three point range. Carmelo Anthony had 18 points and 8 rebounds but it was nowhere near enough to keep the Knicks in the game. The pressure mounts for Coach Mike Woodson.
Oklahoma City Thunder 106 – Washington Wizards 105.
OKC and the Wizards fought out a memorable clash in Oklahoma City. The Thunder got the win in overtime thanks to superstar Kevin Durant’s 33 points, 13 rebounds and 6 assists, including a game tying 3 point shot in regular time and the go ahead free throws to win in overtime. The game was a fierce battle which included a heated exchange between Russell Westbrook and Nene which ended with both players being ejected. Westbrook might want to hit the weight room or try pushing someone more akin to his own size next time, I don’t think Nene moved at all!
Bradley Beal was superb for the visiting Wizards scoring a career high 34 points, which included 6 of 8 shooting from behind the arc. John Wall had a particularly frustrating night shooting just 3 of 13 from the field.
Phoenix Suns 101 – New Orleans Pelicans 94.
Markieff Morris and Eric Bledsoe continued their scintillating, early season form as the Phoenix Suns brought up win number five for the season over the New Orleans Pelicans. Morris had 23 points, 8 rebounds and 2 blocks on 9 of 12 shooting and Bledsoe had 24 points, 6 assists and 4 rebounds as he continues to flourish in his new role out of the shadow of Chris Paul.
The Pelicans were led by the play of big man Jason Smith as he scored 22 points and grabbed 8 boards. They dropped to a 3-4 record after the loss.
Minnesota Timberwolves 113 – Los Angeles Lakers 90.
The ‘Dwightmare’ may be over but the nightmare continues for the Lakers. They lost to Minnesota after having won the last 22 times against the Timberwolves. Minnesota were led by the maestro, Ricky Rubio. Rubio registered a triple double with 12 points, 14 assists and 10 rebounds on 5 of 9 shooting and had a +/- of +27 for the game. Kevin Love added 25 points and Kevin Martin, who looks to have found a suitable home in Minnesota added 27.
The Lakers are a mess; they shot 38% from the field and 55.6% from the line, were out rebounded and only had three players with double figure points and not one player score more than 19 for the game. Next seasons draft is shaping up as a very important one for this proud franchise.
Tuesday November 12th
Chicago Bulls 96 – Cleveland Cavaliers 81.
The Chicago Bulls started the season with very high expectations and so far, its safe to say they have been way below them. They may have got the win against their Central Division rivals today but it came at the cost of an injury to Derrick Rose.
The Bulls were led by the one player who has been phenomenal for them so far this season, Carlos Boozer. Boozer is probably the most unheralded of the Bulls starting five but has produced so far this season when others have not. He had 17 points on 7 of 11 shooting, 7 rebounds and 4 assists in the victory.
The game was billed as a matchup between two of the NBA’s best point guards, Derrick Rose and Kyrie Irving, two stars who hadn’t played each other in a game before but neither point guard played well in the contest.
Derrick Rose left the game with a strained hamstring as his horror start to the season continues.
Atlanta Hawks 103 – Charlotte Bobcats 94.
The Atlanta Hawks got the win on the road against the Bobcats thanks to the play of big man Al Horford and some great fourth quarter shooting from Cartier Martin. Horford had 24 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists and shot 9 of 15 from the field whilst Martin added 16 points including three triples in the final term to help the Hawks secure the win.
The Bobcats dropped to a 3-4 record and a 2-2 home record with the loss. Josh McRoberts led them with 19 points, 6 rebounds and 7 assists.
Indiana Pacers 95 – Memphis Grizzlies 79.
The hottest team in the NBA right now continued to sizzle with a win over the Memphis Grizzlies to take them to a league best 8-0 start for the season. Lance Stephenson registered his first career triple double with 13 points, 11 rebounds and 12 assists and Paul George added 23 points on 9 of 16 shooting with a +/- of +24 for the game.
The Pacers are the first team since 2000 to start 8-0 and the 18th in NBA history to achieve the feat.
The Grizzlies Marc Gasol top scored for the visiting team with 15 points as the Grizz drop to 3-4 for the season.
San Antonio Spurs 109 – Philadelphia 76ers 85.
Danny Green continues to shine, he drained 5 of 7 threes as the San Antonio Spurs made light work of the 76ers. Green top scored for San Antonio with 18 points and added 7 rebounds and 3 assists.
Sixers rookie Michael Carter-Williams fell back to earth as he shot 2 of 11 for the game and Evan Turner top scored for Philly with 20 points on just 9 of 21 shooting.
San Antonio led for the entire game apart from a brief period where they were down by one point but they were quick to regain the lead and take a fairly easy victory.
Boston Celtics 120 – Orlando Magic 105.
The Boston Celtics had a fairly convincing win against the Orlando Magic at the The Garden in Boston. Avery Bradley top scored for the Celtics with 24 points on 10 of 15 from the field and Jordan Crawford had 16 points, 10 assists and 5 rebounds. Boston shot a phenomenal 60% from the field for the game and 41.7% from three point range and only turned the ball over 13 times in the win.
The Magic’s Nikola Vucevic had 15 points and 10 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals in the loss as the Magic’s record dropped to 3-5 for the season.
Houston Rockets 110 – Toronto Raptors 104.
The Houston Rockets took out a thriller at the Toyota Center in Houston as they defeated the Toronto Raptors in double overtime. James Harden missed a shot to win the game in regulation which sent the game into overtime where it was Rudy Gay who had the final shot for Toronto to send it to double OT, where James Harden took over to close it out for the Rockets.
The Rockets were led by the trio of Jeremy Lin, Dwight Howard and James Harden. Lin had 31 points on 10 of 17 from the field, Howard had 18 points and 24 rebounds and Harden had 26 points and 10 dimes in the game.
The Raptors shot the ball poorly at 33.3% for the game and Rudy Gay, whilst he had 29 points went 11 for 37 from the field.
Denver Nuggets 100 – Utah Jazz 81.
The hapless Utah Jazz are still winless this season as they fell to the Denver Nuggets at home. They have now started the season 0-8 and things are looking decidedly glum in Utah. The Nuggets were led by Ty Lawson’s 17 points, 10 assists and 6 rebounds. J.J Hickson had a huge dunk over Marvin Williams which pretty much sums up just how much every team is abusing the Jazz so far this season.
Utah shot 40.3% from the field and an abysmal 17.6% from behind the arc, were out rebounded 52-35 and the question still remains as to when they will get their maiden win this season.
Portland Trail Blazers 109 – Detroit Pistons 103.
Portland registered its third straight victory with a win over the Pistons at home. Their three point shooting continues to impress as they went 11 for 23 from behind the arc. Last year’s Rookie of the Year Damian Lillard had 25 points including 5 of 8 from three, 5 rebounds and 4 assists for the game.
Detroit’s ball control was excellent throughout the game as they only turned the ball over 8 times but struggled with their shooting, 46.2% from the field and 21.4% from three point territory. Brandon Jennings top scored with 28 points and Andre Drummond added 16 points and 16 rebounds.
Los Angeles Clippers 109 –Minnesota Timberwolves 107.
The Los Angeles Clippers won a tight one at Staples against the Minnesota Timberwolves in a game where two of the games best power forwards, Blake Griffin and Kevin Love went at it. Griffin had 25 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists for the game whilst Kevin Love had 23 points including 4 of 8 from long range, 19 rebounds and 7 assists but missed a tip in to tie the game and send it to overtime.
Jamal Crawford added 18 points on 7 of 11 shooting for the Clippers whose record improves to 5-3 as the Timberwolves record drops to the same mark, 5-3.
Wednesday November 13th
Miami Heat 118 – Milwaukee Bucks 95.
The Bucks were never in the contest against the Heat as LeBron James dropped 33 points on 13 of 21 shooting, including 4 of 7 from long range.
The Bucks defensive efforts were all but in vain as Miami shot 58.2% from the field, 52.2% from behind the arc, turned the ball over only 13 times, in fact the box score really doesn’t do the Bucks any favours, the only major statistical category they bettered Miami in was steals, 10-9.
A rout if there ever was one.
Dallas Mavericks 105 – Washington Wizards.
Dirk Nowitzki passed Jerry West on the NBA’s All Time Scoring list as the Dallas Mavericks beat the Washington Wizards courtesy of a big second quarter where they outscored the Wizards 28-15.
Nowitzki had 19 points which took him to 16th in career scoring in the NBA, surpassing Jerry West’s 25,192 points. He also had 8 rebounds and 2 assists in the contest.
The Wizards Trevor Ariza had a game high 27 points on 10 of 17 shooting including five treys.
Golden State Warriors 113 – Detroit Pistons 95.
The Golden State Warriors got the jump out of the gate, basically winning the game in the first quarter thanks to a 35-16 start. Steph Curry led the Warriors with 25 points on 7 of 10 shooting with 8 assists and 2 rebounds. Jermaine O’Neal turned back the clock with his performance, scoring 17 points on 7 of 8 shooting with 6 rebounds.
Golden State shot 60% from the field, 50% from three point range, were +9 in rebounds, +12 in assists but turned the ball over 23 times.
Detroit shot just 16.7% from three point range, 3 for 18 for the game.
Los Angeles Lakers 116 – New Orleans Pelicans 95.
Jordan Hill had a night to remember for the Lakers as he posted 21 points on 7 of 12 shooting, 11 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals as the Lakers got a big win over the visiting New Orleans Pelicans.
The Lakers were very efficient in the win; shooting 55.7% from the field, 55% from behind the arc and 81% from the charity stripe.
The game will be best remembered for Xavier Henry’s huge dunk over rookie big man Jeff Withey. Henry completely posterised Withey as he attempted to take the charge under the basket. Check it out here – http://nbanationaustralia.com/2013/11/13/put-it-on-a-poster-lakers-xavier-henrys-gigantic-slam-video/
Jrue Holiday continued his shooting woes for the new season going 2 for 11 in the loss.
Thursday November 14th
Orlando Magic 94 – Milwaukee Bucks 91.
The Orlando Magic rallied back after a slow start to get a victory over the visiting Milwaukee Bucks. The Magic were led by Aaron Afflalo who scored 36 points on 11 of 15 shooting with an amazing 8 treys. He also had 8 rebounds, 6 assists and 2 steals in the huge performance.
The Bucks had the better of things early on and took the lead into the break but the Magic came home strong and took the win in a close fought affair.
O.J Mayo top scored for the Bucks with 25 points and Khris Middleton added 19 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals.
Philadelphia 76ers 123 – Houston Rockets 117.
A bruised left foot was the catalyst for keeping both James Harden and Michael Carter-Williams out of the game and the loss of Harden proved to be too much for the Rockets as they went down to the surprisingly good Philadelphia team.
Tony Wroten, in his first career start, registered a triple double for Philly with 18 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists whilst James Anderson added a career high 36 points on 12 of 16 shooting.
The Rockets Jeremy Lin scored 34 points and dished out 12 assists but it wasn’t to be enough to beat the underdog 76ers.
Charlotte Bobcats 89 – Boston Celtics 83.
The Charlotte Bobcats biggest off season signing Al Jefferson led them to a victory over the Boston Celtics at The Garden in Boston. Jefferson scored 22 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and had 3 assists and 2 blocks in the victory.
The expectation of both teams at the commencement of the season was quite low and whilst they have both exceeded expectations so far this game wasn’t one for the casual fan. Both teams shot the ball poorly, below 40% as the low score line suggests.
Jordan Crawford and Jeff Green were the only Celtics to score more than 10 points in the game.
Toronto Raptors 103 – Memphis Grizzlies 87.
The Memphis Grizzlies disappointing start to their 2013/14 NBA campaign continues as they lost to the Toronto Raptors at home in Memphis. The Raptors ball control, (13 turnovers) and defense, they kept the Grizzlies to 42.7% shooting, were the main reasons behind the surprise win for Toronto.
Rudy Gay led the charge with 23 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists but his shooting woes continue as he shot 5 of 18 from the field and his field goal percentage sits at 36.5% for the season so far.
The Grizzlies won the battle in the paint by outscoring Toronto 36-24 but their 17 turnovers and overall shooting percentage cost them the game.
Minnesota Timberwolves 124 – Cleveland Cavaliers 95.
The Minnesota Timberwolves are beginning to look like the real deal this season. Led by the stellar play of stars Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio they completely blew out the Cleveland Cavaliers to take their record to 6-3 this season.
All five of their starters scored in double figures for the game with Kevin Love leading the way with his 33 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists whilst Corey Brewer added 27 points and Ricky Rubio had 16 assists.
The Cavaliers, a team that many people were banking on having a big season, have started poorly and drop to 3-6 for the season. Kyrie Irving led them with 20 points in the loss.
New York Knicks 95 – Atlanta Hawks 91.
The New York Knicks won for the fifth straight time against the Hawks with Carmelo Anthony and Andrea Bargnani leading the way. Anthony, playing in the power forward position for the first time this season scored 25 points and Bargnani continued his surprising recent form by adding 20 points and 11 rebounds on 8 of 15 shooting.
The Hawks were led by Jeff Teague with 25 points but lost their first game at home for the season and drop to 4-4 for the year.
San Antonio 92 – Washington Wizards 79.
The Spurs have always been a team that doesn’t garner too much mainstream media attention in the regular season and this continues to be the same as they racked up their eighth win of the season against the Washington Wizards.
San Antonio had it all their own way as they led the contest from start to finish and never looked in any serious trouble. Their brand of team basketball was reflected in the box scores as they had six players score in double figures.
8-1 on the season and 4-0 at home, you know this team will be as dangerous as ever come the post season.
The Wizards however are a team that’s struggling to find their rhythm and they drop to 2-6 for the year.
Denver Nuggets 111 – Los Angeles Lakers 99.
Kenneth Faried may have been the target of many a trade rumour recently but he hasn’t let it affect his game. He scored 23 points on 8 of 13 shooting and grabbed 13 boards to lead the Denver Nuggets to a victory over the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Nuggets led the game from start to finish and despite having the inferior record to the Lakers, they had things mostly their own way. Timofey Mosgov had 23 points, 9 rebounds and 4 blocks in the win.
Jordan Hill continues to impress for a Laker team that’s in fairly unfamiliar territory as they struggle to keep close to .500 this year.
Utah Jazz 111 – New Orleans Pelicans 105.
It was bound to happen eventually. The Utah Jazz registered their first win of the season in their ninth attempt with a victory over the Pelicans.
Gordon Hayward has been putting up some huge numbers but to no avail as the Jazz have been on the losing end of things until now. Hayward scored 27 points and dished out 10 dimes in the win and his season averages stand at 20.3 ppg, 6 rpg and 5 apg.
The Pelicans Anthony Davis continued his break out season with 29 points and 15 rebounds but the Pelicans drop to 3-6 for the season.
Portland Trail Blazers 90 – Phoenix Suns 89.
A late layup basket by Damian Lillard sealed a close fought win for the Portland Trail Blazers over the Phoenix Suns at the Moda Center in Portland.
The Blazers were led by the play of big man Robin Lopez who had 13 points and 15 rebounds in the win. Thomas Robinson top scored for Portland off the bench with 15 points as he attempts to find his way in what has been a fairly underwhelming NBA career to date.
The Suns Eric Bledsoe was their best on court, scoring 23 points with 6 assists and 3 rebounds.
Sacramento Kings 107 – Brooklyn Nets 86.
The Brooklyn Nets, the super-rich, fully stacked, albeit long in tooth team with a payroll bigger than most countries GDP have endured a more than disappointing start to this season and the disappointment continued with a blowout loss to the Sacramento Kings.
The Kings were led by the play of Marcus Thornton with 24 points and Greivis Vasquez with 17 points and 12 assists.
Brooklyn shot the ball woefully at 37.8% from the field and 23.1% from behind the arc. They fall to 2-5 for the season and a certain Russian billionaire is undoubtedly fuming at his lack of return on his big investment so far this year.
Los Angeles Clippers 111 – Oklahoma City Thunder 103.
The Clippers got the win over the Oklahoma City Thunder in a controversial game where both Matt Barnes and Serge Ibaka were ejected.
The ejections came after a scuffle that occurred in the dying seconds of the second quarter. Ibaka became tangled up with Blake Griffin, a player with which he has some history with, and pushed him off before Matt Barnes took offense at Ibaka and shoved him. The ensuing scuffle, or lack of, caused the ejection of both players.
The Clippers would go on to win the game led by Griffin’s 22 points, 12 rebounds and 7 assists. Chris Paul had 16 assists in the game and he continues to lead the league in dimes.
Kevin Durant had 33 points, 6 rebounds and 10 assists in the loss between two of the western conference’s better teams.
Friday November 15th
Houston Rockets 109 – New York Knicks 106.
Carmelo Anthony dropped 45 points and grabbed 10 boards, Andrea Bargnani bested Dwight Howard and kept him to just 7 points on 1 of 5 shooting but it wasn’t enough to see the New York Knicks get the win at Madison Square Garden.
The Rockets won a hard fought battle thanks in most part to the play of James Harden, who scored 36 points and added 9 boards for the Rockets.
Howard was disappointing in a matchup which for all intents and purposes looked to be one that favoured him. He did well on the glass grabbing 15 rebounds but will need to have more of an impact offensively should the Rockets look to be a serious contender come playoff time.
The Knicks fell to 3-5 for the season and the pressure of playing in New York City just never goes away, especially when they’re losing more than they’re winning.
Golden State Warriors 116 – Oklahoma City Thunder 115.
The Oklahoma City Thunder lost their second game in two days with a close loss to the Warriors on the road in Oakland.
Golden State were led by the stellar play of sharp shooter Klay Thompson who scored 27 points on 10 of 15 shooting including 6 three pointers. His partner in crime Steph Curry added 4 threes of his own and 22 points.
The Warriors ball control was excellent as they only turned the ball over 7 times in the contest and shot the lights out from long range hitting 60.9% of three pointers.
OKC were led by Russell Westbrook’s 31 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists.
Saturday November 16th
Chicago Bulls 96 – Toronto Raptors 80.
The Chicago Bulls Derrick Rose sat out this one due to a strained hamstring and the Bulls looked none the worse for it as they completely dominated the Toronto Raptors on the road. All five of the Bulls starters scored in double figures for the game as they kept the Raptors to 35.4% shooting.
Luol Deng led the Bulls with 19 points, 9 rebounds and 3 assists and an impressive +/- of +24.
DeMar DeRozan dropped 37 points and Rudy Gay added 20 points but the other ten players to see court time for the Raptors could only manage a combined 23 points, a truly forgettable game for Toronto fans.
Indiana Pacers 104 – Milwaukee Bucks 77.
The difference in class was more than apparent in this game between the undefeated Pacers and the 2-5 Bucks.
The Pacers made easy work of Milwaukee and were led by the play of big man Roy Hibbert who scored 24 points, grabbed 10 boards and blocked a phenomenal 8 shots on the game. Hibbert is now averaging 4.78 blocks per game and whilst its early days that number would be good enough for fourth all time for a single season in NBA history.
Paul George added 22 points for the Pacers in the win but it was the defensive efforts for Indiana which kept the Bucks to 34.1% shooting that led them to such a blowout win.
Atlanta Hawks 113 – Philadelphia 76ers 103.
Jeff Teague scored a career high 33 points to lead the Atlanta Hawks to a 113 -103 win over the Philadelphia 76ers. Teague shot 10 of 16, grabbed 4 rebounds and dished out 10 assists in the win. DeMarre Carroll added 21 points and Al Horford 20.
Evan Turner continued his great season by top scoring for the 76ers with 27 but it wasn’t enough as Philly drops to 5-5 for the season.
Portland Trail Blazers 109 – Boston Celtics 96.
The Portland Trail Blazers won their fifth straight game when they defeated the Boston Celtics at The Garden in Boston. They take their season record to a surprising 7-2.
LaMarcus Aldridge led the Blazers with 27 points and 12 boards. Nicolas Batum added 18 points including four treys and Mo Williams had 18 on 8 of 13 shooting.
The Celtics Jared Sullinger had 26 points in the loss on 11 of 18 shooting but the Celtics were badly beaten on the glass being out rebounded 47-34.
Charlotte Bobcats 86 – Cleveland Cavaliers 80.
The Bobcats, led by Michael Kidd-Gilchrist defeated the Cavaliers on the road to take their season record to 5-4. Kidd-Gilchrist had 16 points and 8 rebounds in the win which was the Cavaliers the first home loss this season.
Charlotte had five players score in double figures in the game.
Cleveland who were led by Kyrie Irving, 18 points and 10 assists, drop to a disappointing 3-7 for the year.
Miami Heat 110 – Dallas Mavericks 104.
LeBron James scored a season high 39 points as the Heat won a hard fought battle over the Dallas Mavericks in Miami. James shot 14 of 18, grabbed 6 rebounds and dished out 4 dimes in the win.
Both teams shot over 50% in what was a very entertaining clash. Dallas suffered with their ball control as they turned it over 24 times in the game.
Dirk Nowitzki had 28 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists in the loss and Monta Ellis added 20 points.
Denver Nuggets 117 – Minnesota Timberwolves 113.
Expectations for the Nuggets weren’t exactly sky high this season for most pundits, but they continue to play hard and sit at 4-4 after a good win against the Minnesota Timberwolves at home in the Pepsi Center.
Kenneth Faried led the way with 16 points and 10 rebounds and Wilson Chandler in his second game back scored 19 points including 3 of 4 from long range.
Kevin Love’s big numbers were once again on display as he put up 28 points on 10 of 20 shooting with 10 rebounds, 3 steals and 2 blocks but the Timberwolves drop to 6-4.
Brooklyn Nets 100 – Phoenix Suns 98.
Joe Johnson was responsible for Brooklyn escaping with a last second win over the Phoenix Suns. Johnson hit a floater with 30 seconds left in regulation to send the game into overtime and then with the clock winding down in the overtime period he hit a buzzer beater to win the game for the Nets.
Despite hitting two very important shots Johnson didn’t have the best of games shooting just 6 of 19 for the game. Big man Brook Lopez was Brooklyn’s best with 27 points and 7 rebounds.
The Suns who were led by Goran Dragic’s 19 points drop to 5-4 on the season while the Nets improve to 3-5.
San Antonio Spurs 91 – Utah Jazz 82.
The Utah Jazz started their game against the Spurs with a 29-16 run in the first quarter but the Spurs were good enough to weather the storm and when it really counted they made their move, outscoring the Jazz 31-15 in the fourth.
Tony Parker led the Spurs with 22 points and 6 assists as they improved to 9-1 on the season.
The Jazz drop to 1-9 for the season and it seems the lottery is their final destination this season. Derrick Favors scored 20 points and grabbed 18 boards in the loss but the Jazz shot a woeful 38.5% from the field.
Memphis Grizzlies 89 – Los Angeles Lakers 86.
The Grizzlies and the Lakers were two teams desperate for a win coming in to this one but it was Memphis who took out the win in a tight one in Los Angeles.
Zach Randolph led the Grizzlies with 28 points including 14 in the final term. Marc Gasol added 18 points for Memphis in the win but it was the play of Z Bo that will be remembered as the catalyst for the victory.
Jodie Meeks played well for L.A with 25 points on 10 of 16 shooting with 5 threes.
The Lakers drop to 4-7 for the season as their fans start to talk lottery and Memphis improve to 4-5.
Detroit Pistons 97 – Sacramento Kings 90.
The Sacramento Kings fans set a world record for arena decibel levels during the game but on the court things weren’t so loud for the Kings. They went down to the visiting Detroit Pistons in a close one.
Josh Smith was outstanding for Detroit and fantasy owners would have been more than impressed with his numbers. He put up 21 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists, 5 steals and 4 blocks in the win. The Pistons improved their record to 3-5 whilst the Kings drop to 2-6.
DeMarcus Cousins played well for Sacramento in the loss scoring 26 points and grabbing 13 boards.
Sunday November 17th
Chicago Bulls 110 – Indiana Pacers 94.
The Chicago Bulls haven’t had the start that many expected but a big win over the undefeated Indiana Pacers should go a long way towards building some much needed confidence for the Bulls and their star point guard Derrick Rose, who also looked very good in the win.
Rose scored 20 points on 7 of 16 shooting including 6 of 11 from behind the arc. He also managed to not the turn the ball over once in the game, something with which he has had a lot of trouble with so far this season.
Luol Deng looked like the All Star he is by adding 23 points, 7 rebounds and 2 steals and kept Pacers star Paul George to 12 points on 3 of 14 shooting.
The Pacers drop their first game of the season and sit at 9-1 while the Bulls improve to 5-3 with the big win.
Miami Heat 97 – Charlotte Bobcats 81.
The Miami Heat made light work of the Bobcats in Charlotte as LeBron James scored 30 points on 13 of 18 shooting with 7 assists and 4 rebounds. James is shooting the lights out this season as his 62.2% from the field for the season attests to and it was more of the same in Charlotte for ‘The King’.
New addition to the Heat squad, Michael Beasley, played some good minutes in the game and added 15 points on 7 of 14 shooting.
Kemba Walker was the Bobcats best in the loss with 22 points including three treys.
Dallas Mavericks 108 – Orlando Magic 100.
The Dallas Mavericks defeated the Orlando Magic in Orlando in what was an entertaining game between the two teams. Both teams shot the ball at better than 50% but it was the Mavericks experience that shone through in the end.
Monta Ellis led the Mavericks with 19 points on 8 of 18 shooting with 8 assists and Dirk Nowitzki added 18 points of his own including four threes.
The Magic’s Aaron Afflalo scored 25 points in the loss which saw the Magic drop to 4-6 while Dallas improved to 6-4 for the season.
Cleveland Cavaliers 103 – Washington Wizards 96.
The Cleveland Cavaliers won a thrilling contest in Washington as two of the NBA’s best point guards battled it out.
The Cavaliers Kyrie Irving had the better of things with his 41 points in the overtime win while Wizards point guard John Wall, who looked phenomenal early on, scored just 9 points on 3 of 13 shooting but had 12 assists in the game.
Aussie Matthew Dellavedova played 31 minutes in the game including most of the overtime period and while he only put up 2 points, 5 rebounds and 2 assists his contribution to the game went beyond the box score and will no doubt give him confidence in the fact that Mike Brown gave him such an opportunity.
Atlanta Hawks 110 – New York Knicks 90.
The Knicks lost their fifth straight home game to the Atlanta Hawks, who are playing some seriously good team ball, took out the win.
The Hawks had eight of their ten players score in double figures in the win and they shot an impressive 56.4% from the field against what can only be described as a hapless Knicks team who played little to no defense.
Paul Millsap had 14 point and 13 boards in the win.
The Knicks drop to 3-6 and 1-5 at home with the loss and the pressure of playing in NYC just keeps rising.
Houston Rockets 122 – Denver Nuggets 111.
The Nuggets played ‘Hack a Howard’ and for once the big man made a team pay by hitting most of his free throws. Howard scored 25 points in the win and shot 17 of 24 from behind the stripe. All five of Houston’s starters scored in double figures and the team shot the ball well at 50.6% from the field.
The Nuggets Ty Lawson had a spectacular game albeit in a losing team as he scored 28 points on 11 of 19 shooting and dished out a huge 17 assists.
Houston improved to 7-4 on the season while the Nuggets drop to 4-5.
Minnesota Timberwolves 106 – Boston Celtics 88.
It was always going to be a tough ask for the visiting Boston Celtics to get a win in Minnesota and it played out exactly that way. Minnesota are proving to be a tough ask for most teams this season. Kevin Love led them to victory with his 23 points and 12 rebounds while Nikola Pekovic added 20 points and 12 rebounds of his own.
The Celtics Avery Bradley top scored with 27 on 12 of 23 shooting but it wasn’t enough as there were only three players who scored in double figures in the game for Boston.
Boston drop to 4-7 while Minnesota improved to 7-4.
New Orleans Pelicans 135 – Philadelphia 76ers 98.
New Orleans completely blew the 76ers away thanks to a huge game for Ryan Anderson in his return to play. Anderson scored 26 points off the bench and shot 6 of 10 from downtown. Anthony Davis scored 13 points, grabbed 9 rebounds and blocked 8 shots in the win and continues to keep fantasy owners very happy this season.
The Pelicans had seven players score in double digits and shot an unheard of 60.5% from the field and 46.4% from three point range.
The 76ers conversely shot 42.1% from the field and drop to 5-6 on the season with a loss they would be best to forget quick smart.
Oklahoma City Thunder 92 – Milwaukee Bucks 79.
Russell Westbrook’s comeback continues to be a success as he led the Thunder to a win over the Bucks in Milwaukee.
Westbrook scored 26 points on 10 of 20 shooting, Kevin Durant added 24 of his own and Serge Ibaka added 15 points and a huge 20 boards in the win.
The Bucks poor shooting, 34.9% from the field, was the catalyst for another disappointing loss for them and they drop to 2-7 on the season. They’re looking more and more like a lottery team with each game that passes.
Golden State Warriors 102 – Utah Jazz 88.
The Utah Jazz are becoming seriously embarrassing. They lost their tenth game of the season when the Golden State Warriors blew them away 102-88 in Oakland.
The Warriors were led by Klay Thompson’s 25 points, 4 rebounds and 2 assists. Thompson shot 9 of 14 and 5 of 8 from three point range and is having a breakout season currently averaging 20.9 points per game on 55.2% shooting.
The Jazz were no match for the Warriors and it showed. It’s a long road to the NBA draft for Jazz fans this year.
Los Angeles Clippers 110 – Brooklyn Nets 103.
The Brooklyn Nets were without big name players Deron Williams, Kevin Garnett, Brook Lopez and Paul Pierce so the odds were well and truly stacked against them against a red hot Clippers team.
The Clippers were led by Blake Griffin who had 30 points and 12 boards for the game. The Clippers had to rally late in the game to ensure they got the victory and despite the loss the Nets played well, all things considered.
Brooklyn drop to 3-6 and the Clippers improve to a 7-3 record for the season.
Keep an eye out next Monday for another edition of the Weekly Hoop Scoop and don’t forget, Pierre is watching you….
My name is Nathan Darby. I write as a part of an NBA blog in Australia. It’s pretty good. You should really read it sometime but I digress. Today I happened to be doing some research around the web and stumbled across a story by Sekou Smith on his Hangtime Blog on NBA.com (check it here http://hangtime.blogs.nba.com/2013/10/16/howard-no-regrets-but-steamed-harris-is-wearing-no-12-in-orlando/?ls=iref:nbahpts ) . I have to admit I enjoyed it but the funny thing is that it was all about you. The story said that you were currently comparing your Houston team to your former Orlando team from 2008/09 that went fairly deep into the finals. But Dwight, do you really think that James Harden would appreciate being compared to Courtney Lee? Lee hasn’t really hit the greatest of heights throughout his career. In fact the only thing I remember him for is missing a lay up that would’ve won the game for your then Magic. I admit Dwight, that on paper your current Houston team looks the goods. There are some great players there and the addition of you should only strengthen an already competitive team. The thing is Dwight that you know all about looking good on paper. On paper last seasons Lakers should’ve won the title in a canter but that didn’t happen. What happened there? Was it ego? The coach? Kobe? The spotlight? I guess we’ll never know until you release your autobiography at the end of your career.
Let’s get back to the story I was reading. I continued on after your comparisons of previous team mates and I was hit with another feeling of disbelief. Now you might see the next few bits as harsh Dwight but you have the worlds biggest shoulders so I think you’ll handle it. You came out and said you were mad that Orlando let somebody else have “your” #12. Your #12 Dwight? Really? Who do you play for these days? Did you really expect Orlando to stop others from wearing the #12? Sekou even wrote that you said “I just think that despite what happened, there was a lot of things that I did and that we did as a team, and that my number was special down there”. C’mon Dwight. Are you really saying that? A team that you left in the lurch. A team that you held to ransom and got their coach fired for no reason other than to see you walk out to the Lakers? A team that you knew relied on you and that without you would be resigned to be at the bottom of the NBA ladder? Numbers of great players are retired because they have done something for the game. They have championships. Played consistently game in and game out. Put their team before themselves. Played injured. Made the people around them better and connected with the community. Have you done these things Dwight? In this polo shirt wearing writers opinion you haven’t. Not even close. You played a couple of big seasons in Orlando and we haven’t seem that dominance since. You dominated in Orlando because you were proving yourself. Trying to show everyone you had game. Trying to rid yourself of Shaq’s enormous shadow and Dwight you proved you could play. Monster on the boards, blocking shots like a brick wall and throwing down dunks that were felt worldwide. Thing is Dwight you’ve been living off those years in Orlando ever since. You seem to have some kind of mentality where you believe you should be just handed a championship ring. That you’re entitled to it. Sorry Dwight but it doesn’t work that way. Have you heard of Ewing? Barkley? Malone? Legends of the game right? No rings Dwight. These dudes deserved rings but they never got one. They worked and worked and worked but never got one.
The Rockets have a chance at a ring in the upcoming seasons Dwight but they will be relying on you at both ends of the court and even off it. You need to get mature. We all loved the Superman thing but we’re over it now. Being Superman isn’t getting you a ring. Elevating your game gives you the best possible chance. Ask Santa for a post game for Christmas. For your birthday get a consistent free throw shot. Rick Barry shot underarm and that worked for him. Give it a try.
I’ll be honest Dwight sometimes you annoy me but I like you. I’ve watched highlight after highlight of you but highlights don’t get it done (Dominique anyone?). Your potential is through the roof. I think you’re even a better player than the Dwight we saw in Orlando but you have to show it. There’s no handouts in the NBA world. Earn it Dwight.
The Los Angeles Lakers have signed free agent forward and Summer League standout Marcus Landry to a non-guaranteed contract which will see him fill the 15th spot on a completely new look squad from the one which drastically underachieved last season. The contract, as mentioned, is not fully guaranteed until Landry successfully completes training camp, due to start in in a little under two weeks, and is offered a spot on the team for the 2013/14 season. Should the team extend an offer, the 27 year old small forward will help the Lakers depth problems at the three, while also improving their outside shooting power. Landry has played for other NBA teams in the past including the Boston Celtics and the D’Antoni-coached New York Knicks.
The 6’7″ forward, brother of 6- year vet Carl, averaged 15.2 points and 4.2 rebounds per game across 5 appearances for the Lakers Summer League squad, and is considered a strong chance at claiming a full time position on the team at the culmination of training camp. He’ll have some tough competition however, with the Lakers also trying out Xavier Henry, Shawne Williams and Elias Harris at camp, all of whom will be hungry for a spot. The Lakers have similar offers extended to others including 48th overall draft pick Ryan Kelly, although injury has prevented him from picking up the offer. All up, the team is expected to take 16-20 players into camp, eventually trimming the roster to a final 15.
The signing of Marcus Landry points towards a decision to go without veteran Lamar Odom, and the team heading in a new direction for the 2013/14 season.
LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS:
Ah yes, LA’s ‘Other’ team. The perennial losers of the battle of LA and the Pacific Division, and little brother to the Lakers. Until now… The Clippers are primed and ready to take the division, conference and perhaps even the title in 2013/14. They were given a hand up when the league vetoed the Lakers deal for Chris Paul, and they were able to sign him off the back and since then have not looked back. Creating a deep, offensively charged roster of young guns (and a few vets) to lead them to the next era of Clipper basketball, there’s no telling exactly where this team will wind up at the culmination of this season. My guess? It’ll be right up there. As a Laker fan myself, it’s strange seeing the roles reversed, and the Clippers being the team to beat in LA and I have my own beef with them, but it doesn’t change the fact that this is a team that is going to contend. Not only did the team re-sign CP3 to a multi year deal, the Clips also resigned Matt Barnes and made moves for JJ Redick, Darren Collison, Jared Dudley, Byron Mullens and Antawn Jamison to round out their stacked roster. It’s unknown what will happen with Lamar Odom in light of recent events, but it’s a possibility he returns as well. Their core of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan and Jamal Crawford should gel nicely with this group and the Clippers will continue their dominant form and continue to be the team to beat in LA, and along the West Coast. Can they beat OKC, and eventually Miami or Indiana to win a title further down the track? It’s a tough ask for mine, but they’ll be right there at the end nonetheless.
JJ Reddick, Jared Dudley, Darren Collison, Byron Mullens, Antawn Jamison
Caron Butler, Ronnie Turiaf, Chauncey Billups
Prediction: 4th in the West
LOS ANGELES LAKERS
Who the hell knows what’s going to happen with this team. The Lakers just lost someone they wanted to keep for the first time in their history, and they’re hurting after a tumultuous season of indecision, bad chemistry, coaching troubles, communication breakdowns, locker room drama and on court struggles. But, as is the normality in Laker land, it wouldn’t be the same without all the drama and the Lakers will get back up, but whether or not it’s this season remains to be seen. They’ve made some great signings considering their struggles financially, and as they’ve only been able to offer potential signees veterans minimums, they’ve done surprisingly well. There is no money to spend right now, but the Lakers still have a solid core, with good role players and, if they remain healthy, should be able to compete this year. A huge amount of their success rests on their wounded warrior Kobe Bryant, and if he’ll be able to make it back in time and at full speed. Should he return to be the dominant player he always was then it’s massive for the Lakers. Pau Gasol will likely head back to his natural spot at the 5, with new recruit Chris Kaman able to double the power forward position if need be. They also have Jordan Hill coming back, who Mike D’Antoni is already talking about using as a stretch 4. They lack depth at the 3, and amnestying Metta World Peace only worsened that situation. Nick Young, while a natural shooting guard, can play the three so it’s possible that once Bryant returns, Young will occupy some time down low. The Lakers are stronger in the back court than they were in recent years with Bryant, Nash, Meeks, Young, Blake and the returning Jordan Farmar all providing plenty of fire power. It won’t be a season to remember for LA, and all eyes are on free agency in 2014 where they’re expected to make a big splash, but it won’t be a complete disappointment either.
Chris Kaman, Jordan Farmar, Nick Young, Wes Johnson, Shawne Williams
Dwight Howard, Metta World Peace, Antawn Jamison, Earl Clark, Chris Duhon, Devin Ebanks, Andrew Goudelock, Darius Morris
Prediction: 8th in the West
It should be an interesting season for the Grizzlies, who didn’t make a huge splash over the summer in terms of signings or trades, but they did retain a solid core of players who will continue to gel together as they tackle season 2013/14. The re-signing of Tony Allen to continue to play a versatile role in the back court alongside Mike Conley and Jerryd Bayless coupled with Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol down low rounds out their core, and should give a lot of teams a pretty severe headache. They also have some good depth with Quincey Pondexter and Tayshaun Prince able to occupy the 3, and new recruit Kosta Koufos relieving Gasol at the 5. They gain plenty from solid perimeter defender and sharp shooter Mike Miller who will help improve their relatively lackluster outside scoring after returning from Miami. The Grizzlies have copped some criticism for not making any big moves, but considering their position they’ve done everything that was available to them and they’ve gotten marginally better without doing very much. Watch them grind out big defensive games and scrape their way to the upper echelons of the standings in the new season!
Mike Miller, Kosta Koufos, Josh Akognon, Nick Calathes, Jamaal Franklin
Darrell Arthur, Austin Daye, Keyon Dooling
Prediction: 5th in the West
Will the Heat and LeBron three-peat? Plenty are saying yes, and that they’re still the team to beat in the NBA and for the most part, that’s exactly right. The East has been completely dominated by LeBron James the last two years and while all credit is due to King James, the conference as a whole has been underwhelming with some usually hard to beat teams falling by the wayside. LeBron, by right, has owned the East and until now there has been very little competition. But with the Pacers rising, and the return of Derrick Rose amongst other things, the East is now tougher than it’s been for some time and the Heat won’t have the easy ride to the finals that they’ve enjoyed recently. All credit to them, they’ve been by far the best team in the league for two years, but now there are challengers and it’s not going to be easy. An aging Dwyane Wade will need to step up this year as last season wasn’t his strongest offensively and was (aside from some select incredible Wade moments) largely carried by his team. Add Chris Bosh into that little sentiment as well, but with the addition of Greg Oden he should get some help presuming he stays healthy. The signing if Chris Andersen is huge for Miami as his defensive effort last season was second to none and he came through when needed right to the end. His form in the new season as a role player will be paramount to the Heat’s success. Of course, LeBron will need to continue to perform and will likely need another MVP season if they Heat are going to three-peat. At the culmination of this season, the East will be more than a one horse race, and Miami are going to have to be a step ahead if they want to win it.
Prediction: 2nd in the East (Indiana 1st)
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