Arizona vs. SDSU: Score and Twitter Reaction from 2014 Maui Invitational

 With a championship on the line in the Maui Invitational, No. 3 Arizona proved to be too much for No. 15 San Diego State, 61-59, at the Lahaina Civic Center. The title for Arizona marks its first since 2000 and became the sixth team to win multiple Maui Invitational championships.

ESPN Stats & Info provides a look at the final from Maui:

Freshman Stanley Johnson led the Wildcats, finishing with 18 points and nine rebounds while Rondae Hollis-Jefferson added another 14 points off the bench. Arizona also applied pressure on the defensive end with seven steals and seven blocks—three of which came from Hollis-Jefferson.

Arizona coach Sean Miller spoke about winning the title, via the ESPN broadcast.

“It means a lot,” Miller said. “We talk a lot to each team that we have about not riding the coattails of the teams of the past. … When you come to a tournament where you’re challenged for three games in three days at this level it takes a little bit of everything. I couldn’t be prouder.”

Johnson struggled at times, going 4-for-14 from the floor, but contributed in a multitude of ways for the Wildcats. Anthony Gimino of Fox Sports Arizona offered his take on the freshman’s potential moving forward:

SDSU proved to be one of the toughest tests for the Wildcats on the young season after Kansas State pushed them in the semifinals. The Aztecs were paced by Trey Kell yet again, who finished the night with 14 points on 4-of-10 from the field.

Kell was clutch down the stretch, helping close the lead with a four-point play on a foul from behind the arc, but it wouldn’t be enough. Jeff Eisenberg of Yahoo Sports noted how much the Aztecs were struggling prior to that play:

Ultimately, the game came down to struggles from the free-throw line and an inability to close from San Diego State. The Aztecs went 13-for-24 from the line and couldn’t quite close the window of opportunity for Arizona as it continued to hit free throws.

Both teams come away from Maui battle tested, but it’s Arizona that remains undefeated.

The Wildcats still have several tough non-conference matchups ahead, including both Gonzaga and Michigan in December. Looking to win a second consecutive Pac-12 regular season title, the Wildcats look like a dangerous team.

Despite the loss, Steve Fisher’s team still looks like a competitor in the Mountain West Conference. After already knocking off a Top 25 opponent in Utah earlier this season, the Aztecs will likely have the resume to make some noise in the NCAA Tournament.

 

Follow @RCorySmith on Twitter.

Read more College Basketball news on BleacherReport.com

View full post on Bleacher Report – College Basketball

Wizards vs. Cavaliers: Score and Twitter Reaction from 2014 Regular Season

The Cleveland Cavaliers needed a quality victory to truly get on course for a rise toward the top of the Eastern Conference. They achieved that in an impressive 113-87 win over the Washington Wizards at Quicken Loans Arena on Wednesday.

Washington entered the evening second in the East, while Cleveland, though coming off a blowout win over Orlando, hovered below .500.

Cavs superstar LeBron James led by example, stuffing the stat sheet with 29 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists and three steals. He sank 14 of 17 free throws and provided the stable, high level of play this young team’s nucleus needs to learn how to win.

Fox Sports Ohio’s Sam Amico felt Cleveland put together its best overall effort of the young 2014-15 NBA campaign:

Keith Britton of 92.3 The Fan had a similar take:

Anderson Varejao (10 points, seven rebounds) knows how to click with James thanks to their time together in James’ previous Cleveland stint. Conrad Kaczmarek of NBA.com observed this phenomenon as James fed Varejao for a ton of easy buckets in the first half:

James is trying to deliver a championship for his home team, and while he has two fellow All-Stars in Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving flanking him, they’ve never played in the postseason.

ESPN.com’s Brian Windhorst documented James’ thoughts before the Cavs rattled off their two most recent wins:

I’m a winner, I want to win, and I want to win now. It’s not tomorrow, it’s not down the line, I want to win now. So it’s a fine line for me, but I understand what we’re enduring right now. …

… I have a low tolerance for things of this nature. So it’s something I’m working on, as well, which I knew from the beginning that that was going to be my biggest test to see how much patience I’ve got.

That killer instinct and mindset to get the job done are characteristics James exuded Wednesday, attacking the Wizards and getting to the free-throw line frequently.

Cleveland.com’s Chris Haynes noted how James set the tone from the start, sparking the Cavs to a 31-18 lead after the first quarter:

Zach Love of Grantland noticed how the Cavs made adjustments on defense to stymie the Wizards, whose dynamic backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal combined for 16 points on 16 shot attempts:

Cavs.com’s Joe Gabriele weighed in:

Rasual Butler led the Wizards with 23 points off the bench, but the Cavs did an admirable job shutting down most of Washington’s top offensive threats.

Love has had a rocky start to his time in Cleveland, yet he was far more proficient versus Washington and shot 7-of-10 from the field with 21 points.

Wizards star Paul Pierce started to go to the bucket often himself in the third quarter with Washington down 58-46 by halftime. Bob Finnan of The News-Herald noted how the veteran was rising to the challenge, while Irving was struggling in the big game:

But that dynamic didn’t hurt the Cavs overall. Irving turned it on in the fourth as a scorer to finish with 18 points and was still helping facilitate improved execution in the half-court offense before his late surge.

Passions were high, as the home crowd was in full support of the energized Cleveland squad—and even head coach David Blatt implored the fans, per the Akron Beacon Journal‘s Jason Lloyd:

Now the Cavs have some serious momentum to build on ahead of a favorable stretch of their schedule. Before a road trip to Toronto on December 5, Cleveland faces Indiana, Milwaukee and New York, with a golden opportunity to vault up the East standings.

Zac Jackson of Fox Sports Ohio brought up a relevant point regarding the Cavs’ ongoing search for synergy:

One alarming development is the volume of shots Dion Waiters takes off the bench.

Waiters, who missed 11 of a team-high 17 attempts from the field, has dubious shot selection and must be more of a complementary player given the superior talent on his team. The fact that Waiters had six assists is a good sign moving forward, though.

Bouncing back from Wednesday’s loss right away won’t be simple for the Wizards. They open a four-game homestand against New Orleans and Miami, then play the Los Angeles Lakers before taking on the streaking Denver Nuggets.

Read more NBA news on BleacherReport.com

View full post on Bleacher Report – NBA

Dallas Mavericks Need Everything They’re Getting From Super-sub Brandan Wright

Historically, the Sixth Man of the Year award has been reserved for guys who bring instant offense off the bench. Dallas MavericksBrandan Wright might not fit that description, but he has been every bit as impactful as any other bench player in the league.

Wright, 27, doesn’t get a lot of playing time, but he is one of the Mavs‘ most efficient players in his 19.3 minutes per game.

Dallas’ net rating is 3.5 points per 100 possessions better with the 6’10″ big man on the floor. He leads the league in field-goal percentage, connecting at an insane 80 percent clip early on in the season. As icing on the cake, Wright is also second only to New Orleans Pelicans‘ Anthony Davis in player efficiency rating.

His offensive load has also increased. Wright has scored in double digits in Dallas’ last eight games. His teammates trust him to score when they feed him the ball, and opponents have to scheme against his efficient movement on the court.

Wright has always been very efficient, but his numbers so far are truly special if he is able to sustain them. To head coach Rick Carlisle, it’s no mystery as to why his backup center is thriving.

“He’s a knowledgeable player that understands where openings are,” Carlisle said, according to ESPNDallas.com’s Tim MacMahon. “He does a good job anticipating and getting to them. We’ve got guys that understand where to get him the ball, where he is and things like that. That helps, too.” 

Wright himself appears to have a straightforward mindset on how to play the game.

“My job is simple. When I get the ball, I need to make a play with it,” he said.

While being a regular on highlight reels is nice, Wright’s influence on this year’s Mavericks team has gone way beyond that.

 

A Versatile Presence On Both Ends

Wright has done an excellent job emulating Tyson Chandler‘s presence. He is running pick-and-rolls just as effectively as the Mavs‘ starting center, and is throwing in a healthy dose of rim protection to spice it up.

It’s no secret how Wright has such a high field-goal percentage. He lives above the rim and gets the majority of his points through dunks. 

Wright usually finds his looks in two different ways—either by setting a screen and rolling to the basket, or by lurking on the weak side. Here are two examples of him being on the receiving end of J.J. Barea’s lobs:

He is great at timing cuts and his teammates usually have no trouble finding him.

“He understands how to read his defender, and it’s easy to get the ball to him. You can’t overthrow him. I have actually [tried]. It hasn’t happened yet,” Mavs guard Devin Harris said according to MacMahon.

Wright isn’t a post player, but he has a nice hook shot in his arsenal. Take a look at these two plays:

When defenders rotate in time and the dunk isn’t there, he generally puts the ball on the floor for a dribble or two. He is supremely athletic and has a very soft touch for a big man, which allows him to rise above the interior defender and finish over the top.

Wright always looks for the finish when he gets the ball anywhere in the vicinity of the rim. That decisiveness certainly contributes to his efficiency.

While he excels at a couple of things offensively, Wright is considerably more versatile on the defensive end. Here are a couple of clips of his defensive presence:

The first play is a great example of his pick-and-roll defense. Wright is presented with the challenge of stopping the driving guard, while not losing the roll man. He baits Houston Rockets‘ Francisco Garcia into the drive and swats the shot.

In the following play, Wright completely shuts down Donatas Motiejunas in the post. He holds his ground, stays down on the fakes, forces the travel and blocks the shot for good measure.

There are some bruisers around the league who can push Wright around a little more in the post, but he is strong enough to hold his own against most guys. Even if his matchup slips past him he still has the leaping ability to recover and contest the shot.

The Mavericks as a team tend to bring a lot of help, and Wright’s speed helps him time rotations. In the third clip, he stays with his man for long enough to make a dump-off impossible, but still does his job as a weak-side defender.

With his 7’4″ pterodactyl wingspan, Wright is able to close out on shooters and interrupt passing lanes. In the final play of the montage, he does just that. After hedging, he runs back to his man with outstretched arms and inadvertently forces a turnover.

That kind of length and speed also gives Dallas the freedom to occasionally switch Wright onto guards without compromising the defense.

His rim protection has been solid overall. Wright ranks eighth in the league in blocks per 36 minutes among players who have played 150 minutes or more this season.

Having Wright on the roster is a true luxury for Dallas. He has a very similar skill set to that of Chandler, which allows the team to maintain its identity even when the starting center is off the floor. 

Carlisle has also played both Chandler and Wright together for defensive purposes against bigger frontcourts. Even though neither of the two players have range, their combined mobility makes up for the lack of spacing. 

Wright increased his field-goal percentage to 67.7 percent last year. His incredible efficiency will inevitably take a dip at some point, but it’s certainly not impossible for him to shoot over 70 percent over the entire season.

The Mavs are getting all they could possibly ask for from Wright. They just have to hope he continues to deliver.

 

All stats are courtesy of Basketball-Reference or NBA.com, unless otherwise noted.

You can follow me on Twitter: @VytisLasaitis

Read more NBA news on BleacherReport.com

View full post on Bleacher Report – NBA

Jerry Tarkanian home from Las Vegas hospital (Yahoo Sports)

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Family members say Hall of Fame basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian is home after several days at a Las Vegas hospital for treatment of pneumonia.

View full post on Yahoo Sports – NCAA Men’s Hoops News

LeBron, other athletes react to news from Ferguson

Athletes took to Twitter following the decision from grand jury.

      
 

 

View full post on USATODAY – NBA Top Stories

Michigan vs. Oregon: Score and Twitter Reaction from Legends Classic 2014

Oregon and No. 19 Michigan came into the semifinal of the Legends Classic with unblemished records. When the final buzzer sounded, it was the Wolverines coming away with a 70-63 win and a trip to the final for a clash with No. 12 Villanova.

Michigan’s official account provides a look at the final result and reaction from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn:

Zak Irvin and Caris LeVert stepped up in a big way with a combined 37 points and 10 rebounds for the Wolverines. Derrick Walton Jr. struggled throughout the game to finish with just six points along with Kameron Chatman, who finished 1-of-4 on the night.

Irvin’s great play was thanks to his willingness to take nearly any shot, as Rod Beard of The Detroit News points out:

One of the big questions coming into the game was whether Chatman would remain a starter in the crucial game. Coach John Beilein spoke about the freshman’s rough start, per Mark Snyder of the Detroit Free Press:

We’re not thinking about any changes in that at all right now. …

Just continue to give him more opportunities to grow at that position and the game will slow down more for him. Usually it’s more defense than offense for freshmen. But he’s really played well in practices. He has a great attitude. Just in games the shot hasn’t fallen.

While Chatman was generally ineffective on offense, he did contribute three rebounds and three assists on the night. Meanwhile, freshman Ricky Doyle came off the bench to add 10 points of his own.

For the Ducks, Joseph Young put on a show in Brooklyn. He finished the night with 20 points against LeVert for much of the game. Jeff Borzello of ESPN passed along his thoughts on the matchup:

Jonathan Givony of Draft Express also noted his observations of LeVert throughout the game:

Both teams traded blows throughout the night, but it was Michigan’s closing ability in the second half that led it to a win. A late three-pointer and clutch free throws from Irvin made the difference, as Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports points out:

Michigan moves on to take on Villanova in the championship game of the early-season tournament. The Wildcats are coming off a 24-point win over VCU and offer another explosive offense behind Dylan Ennis.

By virtue of its loss, Oregon moves to 3-1 and misses out on a crucial resume-building win. The Ducks still look the part of a strong team moving forward but have a difficult road ahead when Pac-12 play gets underway.

 

Follow @RCorySmith on Twitter.

Read more College Basketball news on BleacherReport.com

View full post on Bleacher Report – College Basketball

Monday notes: Anderson recalled from Austin, Spurs still interested in Allen?

Monday the San Antonio Spurs recalled rookie Kyle Anderson from the Austin Spurs, where Anderson scored 18 points, grabbed 11 rebounds, and threw six assists in 41 minutes, in the Spurs’ 110-105 win over the Santa Cruz Warriors on Sunday. With Marco Belinelli returning to the lineup, and when Cory Joseph fully heals from his […]

View full post on Yardbarker: NBA

Winners and Losers from the AP College Basketball Top 25 Rankings in Week 3

Though the first three days of the 2014-15 college basketball season were relatively uneventful, the past seven days were rife with big games and shocking upsets, leading to a ton of winners and losers in the Associated Press Top 25 rankings for Week 3.

After dismantling Kansas in the Champions Classic and beating Montana State so badly that its head coach said after the game, “You feel helpless because you don’t know what to attack,” Kentucky remains the No. 1 team in the country. The Wildcats received 49 of 64 first-place votes last week but saw that number rise to 62 of 65 in this poll.

Wisconsin received the other three first-place votes, but the real action was at the other end of the poll.

Of the nine teams that were ranked No. 17-25 last Monday, seven suffered at least one loss. As a result, there was a ton of shakeup in the bottom third of the poll.

If you thought there was a lot of movement in this week’s poll, just wait until next week after 15 more early-season tournaments have been played. If nothing else, we know either North Carolina or Wisconsin (or both?) will suffer at least one loss in the Battle 4 Atlantis.

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, though, because there are plenty of winners and losers from this week’s AP poll to discuss.

Begin Slideshow

View full post on Bleacher Report – College Basketball

Lakers Rumors: Latest Rumblings from LA on Roscoe Smith and More

Few teams in the NBA have suffered in the injury department as much as the Los Angeles Lakers in the early going of the 2014-15 season, and the front office has kept its eyes peeled for potential personnel moves as a result.

The team has brought in a number of potential targets for workouts recently, although there may not be a corresponding move in the near future.

With that in mind, here is a look at some of the latest rumblings from Los Angeles.

 

Roscoe Smith 

Shams Charania of RealGM noted that the Lakers could bring Roscoe Smith into the fold:

Smith actually signed with Los Angeles for training camp and participated in seven preseason games. The team elected to retain his D-League rights, and he thrived in the early going with the D-Fenders and averaged 18.3 points a game in the first three contests.

General manager Mitch Kupchak commented on Smith during the preseason and sang his praises, via Steve Carp of the Las Vegas Review-Journal: “We like Roscoe. He’s lively. He’s a good rebounder and he runs the floor well. He’s picked it up in the last two weeks.”

It’s no wonder the team retained those D-League rights.

Smith played at Connecticut for the first two years of his college career and then transferred to UNLV. His one season in Las Vegas was his best, as he averaged 11.1 points and 10.9 rebounds a game as a stretch forward and was a double-double threat every time he stepped on the floor.

The 6’8” wingman is versatile, athletic and lengthy, so the Lakers could probably make room for him as a potential perimeter defender. Entering Sunday night’s game against the Denver Nuggets, the Lakers were 30th in the league in points allowed per game and need more options on that end of the floor. 

Perhaps Smith could be an answer.

 

Personnel Moves on Hold? 

David Pick of Eurobasket noted that the team may not be bringing in anyone soon, regardless of the workouts with Smith and others:

In addition to Smith, Gal Mekel, Jordan Hamilton, Dwight Buycks, Quincy Miller and Tyrus Thomas were all called in for recent looks. Such is life on a team that has been ravaged by injuries.

There are two different ways you can look at this. On the one hand, Steve Nash and Julius Randle are both out for the season, and Ryan Kelly is out for a significant amount of time with a hamstring issue. The Lakers need healthy bodies for depth purposes, which could potentially come from these recent workouts.

However, Los Angeles is not exactly competing for a playoff spot this season, so there is not as much urgency to make a move just to add a rotation player as there would be in a normal season. 

Technically, the Lakers would be better off losing this season anyway to keep their first-round draft pick (the only way to keep it is if it falls in the top five), so they may just see how the current roster comes together before making any significant changes.

 

Follow me on Twitter:

Read more NBA news on BleacherReport.com

View full post on Bleacher Report – NBA

No. 18 Oklahoma bounces back from Creighton loss

Cousins hits 4 3-pointers in No. 19 Oklahoma’s 90-68 victory over Northwestern State

      
 

 

View full post on USATODAY – NCAA Top Stories

Next Page »