Carmelo Anthony: Knicks don’t have loser’s mentality, we’re just used to losing

Carmelo Athony disagrees with Phil Jackson’s assessment of the mental state of the New York Knicks. Or does he? On Monday, Jackson said he believes the 4-18 Knicks have a loser’s mentality. Anthony doesn’t think that’s the case. “When it comes to having a losing mentality, what I take is when you lose games consistently…Read More

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76ers finally end season-opening losing streak

The 76ers avoided tying the Nets’ NBA-worst 0-18 start in 2009.

      
 

 

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Sixers’ Losing Ways Bound to Leave Scars on Players, Stunt Their Development

The Philadelphia 76ers aren’t the first historically bad NBA team. They’re not even the first NBA team to be bad by design. Where the 76ers, who can tie the NBA record for the worst start to a season with an 18th-straight loss Wednesday night, are separating themselves is by believing that they can take the detritus of losing and eventually mold a successful team from it, that being awful is as easy to shed as changing into a fresh shirt.

Almost all of those who have worn the stench of a staggeringly awful season beg to differ.

A former player who broke in with the Los Angeles Clippers in the 1990s and requested anonymity for fear his comments might hinder his ability to work in the league, said, “You get associated with losing when you’re a young player in a situation like the one in Philadelphia and people look at you differently. I truly believe my whole career could’ve been different if I’d started with a winning team. I was going to be a role player wherever I went, but I saw players with the same talent who went to winning situations and everything was different. They had a much easier time getting jobs after they stopped playing. You don’t want to be associated with losing.

“The problem with the Philadelphia situation is that you’re teaching your best up-and-coming players how to lose. They’re not learning how to win. Five years from now we’ll see how this works out.”

Few know of the extreme ends of the win-lose spectrum better than former point guard Derek Harper. His 17-year career included an escape by trade from the worst team in the league, a 13-win Dallas Mavericks‘ squad, to a New York Knicks‘ one that would go on to the 1994 NBA Finals. He only had to endure a 2-26 start with the Mavs before his rescue, but the previous year he was around for every bit of an 11-71 campaign. It left far more of an impression on him than any of the 10 seasons that resulted in playoff appearances.

“I remember it like it was yesterday and I wouldn’t want to ever go through it again,” Harper said. “With all due respect to the Philadelphia management, you’ve given in to being bad, and what they’re not taking into account is the damage done to the psyche of people bred to compete, particularly young players. It’s not a fun atmosphere when the people who clean the arena are laughing at you. When you put that vibe out there that you’re losing on purpose, it’s detrimental, that’s the only way I can say it.”

Harper believes he survived, in part, because that awful stretch in Dallas wasn’t his introduction to the NBA. He arrived a decade earlier, had already been part of six playoff-caliber teams and learned what a successful work ethic truly was before discovering how losing seven out of every eight games for six months felt.

“Veterans know how to work themselves out of a bad situation,” he said. “Young players fall prey to ‘We’re just bad.’ When young players come into the league, I don’t think they realize the urgency you have to have to get better. In losing situations, there’s a tendency to get to practice late and leave early when you really need to be getting there early and staying late no matter what situation you’re in.”

There’s also the issue of daily competition. Chances are on a bad team the talent level inherently diminishes the level of competition in practice or for playing time. Playing in close games affords a different level of physical and mental conditioning as well. The Sixers’ state of affairs is that there aren’t even veterans on the roster of Harper’s caliber.

“When I was traded to New York, I personally wasn’t even in shape,” Harper said. “It wasn’t on purpose. You don’t know if you’re working hard enough. In most cases like that, you’re not working as hard as you think you’re working.”

Harper, who works as an analyst for the Mavericks’ television broadcasts, made a point before a recent Mavericks-Sixers game to see how the Sixers’ players were dealing with an atmosphere he knew all too well.

“I got there early to watch them warm up,” he said. “The young kids worked their butts off. The coaching staff is working. They were all working at their craft. And they do play hard. They’ve been in games. But there’s a difference between working hard and understanding the nuances of winning games. Some of their young players are picking up bad habits. Winning breeds confidence and losing breeds the opposite.”

The starting rookie center on the ’93 Mavericks was Sean Rooks, who went on to play 12 NBA seasons, although only the first two in Dallas before being dealt to Minnesota. (He’d return for a one-season stint in Dallas later.) Credit the 76ers for hiring him this season as a player development coach to share what he knows about not allowing a losing atmosphere to affect personal growth. He doesn’t believe a young player has to emerge from a bad team as damaged goods.   

“I was hungry and very focused on fitting in with my team,” Rooks said. “My passion always came from wanting to compete against the next level. It drove me through that year. Not everybody has that mentality.”

The difference Rooks sees in the league overall between when he entered and now is that players are coming in so young and undeveloped. Rooks played four years at Arizona and had to work his way to stardom at that level first. Many NBA scouts and GMs believe the prolific number of games on the AAU circuit also have conditioned players coming into the league to put less importance on winning and losing, creating a double load for those charged with developing them.  

“You’re not only teaching [them] how to win, you’re teaching them the game,” Rooks said.   

LaPhonso Ellis was a six-year veteran on the 1997-98 Denver Nuggets, who also won 11 games. Much like the Sixers, whose oldest player is Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (28), the Nuggets were on a youth movement with five rookies on the roster, including three first-round picks: Danny Fortson, Tony Battie and Bobby Jackson. Ellis was battling back from a ruptured Achilles tendon and Eric Williams suffered a season-ending knee injury. There wasn’t a concerted effort to be the worst team in the league; it simply worked out that way. “I don’t understand that approach,” Ellis said. “That’s why a guy like Michael Carter-Williams has to get out of there.”

Carter-Williams may not have to worry about that. Fortson, Battie and Jackson, much like Rooks, all went on to have fairly long careers in the NBA—they all did it, though, someplace else. The aforementioned anonymous Clippers player was part of the ’93-94 squad that lost 20 games in a row. When the streak ended with a game-winning shot by Pooh Richardson against the Milwaukee Bucks, “I remember that shot and I almost tongue-kissed Pooh for hitting it,” the former Clipper said. “But I don’t see Philly having that kind of pressure. We were trying to win. When I see them play, I don’t see that sense of urgency.”

As hard as the start to this season has been for Philadelphia, every former player interviewed said the greatest challenge lies ahead, when the losing weeks turn into months. “As the season rolls on, that’s when you’re tested,” Rooks said. “That’s when you have to keep it professional.”

There wasn’t much of that with the Clippers. “Guys had made flight arrangements before the last game,” the former Clipper said. “Guys were leaving on red-eyes. They couldn’t wait to get out of there. But I don’t think the Philly guys are feeling it yet. Let it get to January. You don’t want to be connected with the worst record ever. That’s when the pressure comes.”

Another member of the Nuggets’ 11-win team who also requested anonymity vividly remembers the relief of avoiding the 1973 76ers’ all-time worst record of 9-73. “I remember celebrating,” he said. “You just don’t want to be part of a record like that.”

Dubious records aside, the reality is that if history is any indication, a good number of the players suffering in Philadelphia now will not be around when the good times roll. Some may also be forever inhibited from experiencing good times anywhere.

“This is going to sound strange to some people, but I’m not proud that I played in the NBA that much,” said the former Nugget. “Not with the teams I was on. That’s why, if I have any advice for the Philly guys, it’s to get out of there as fast as they can.”

 

Ric Bucher covers the NBA for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @RicBucher.

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Magic beat Suns, snap 4-game losing streak (Yahoo Sports)

PHOENIX, AZ - NOVEMBER 30: Tobias Harris #12 of the Orlando Magic shoots against the Phoenix Suns on November 30, 2014 at U.S. Airways Center in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images)

PHOENIX (AP) — The Orlando Magic and Phoenix Suns were both disgusted with their previous game.


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Predicting How Long Philadelphia 76ers’ Losing Streak WIll Last

The cavernous gap sitting between the Philadelphia 76ers and the rest of the NBA suggests the loss-column-embracing franchise may never win a game.

The Sixers, by design, are atrocious. The team has dropped each of its first 13 games, only keeping four of those contests within single digits. Philly has the league’s worst offensive rating and overall net rating, both by considerable margins.

The team has 69 games left on its schedule. Vegas doesn’t like Philly’s odds in any of them.

Five more losses and the Sixers will match the 2009-10 New Jersey Nets for the worst start in NBA history at 0-18. That’s starting to feel inevitable and, in some ways, appropriate.

“The franchise is accustomed to inglorious records,” wrote Sports Illustrated‘s Nelson Rice. ”Last season, they tied the 2009-10 Cavaliers‘ mark of 26 straight losses and the ’72-73 Sixers still hold the distinction of owning the worst record over a full season (9-73). This year’s team might eclipse both feats.”

One win is all it will to take to stop this miserable slide, but securing that victory will not be easy. Philly’s upcoming schedule is short on breaks, plus easy games for most teams aren’t exactly winnable contests for this group.

Still, there are five games offering some semblance of hope. We’ll run through those five matchups, and then peak into our crystal ball to see when the Sixers are most likely to finally enter the win column.

Begin Slideshow

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LeBron James Says Cavaliers Are ‘Fragile’ After Losing Streak Reaches Four

The first season of LeBron James’ return to Cleveland isn’t going the way he wanted.
The Cavs have stumbled out of the gate, and while things aren’t dire, they aren’t good, either. Cleveland was blown out at home by the Toronto Raptors on Saturday night, the Cavs’ third straight loss, dropping them to 5-7 on the season.
Frustration seems to be setting in for James, who had a pretty negative assessment of the team’s situation following the 17-point loss in Cleveland.
“We’re a very fragile team right now,” James told reporters, according to ESPN.com. “Well we were a fragile team from the beginning. Any little adversity hits us, we just shell up. That’s something that will come with experience.”
Looking back on his first stint with the Cavs — where Cleveland lost the 2011 NBA Finals — James admitted that he’s still optimistic about the future.
“This is not even the lowest it’s going to get for us,” James said. “You guys know, the lowest it can get is up 17 in the fourth qua

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Channing Frye on Magic: ‘We’re close to winning, but that’s still f—ing losing’ (video)

After running off consecutive victories last week, the Orlando Magic have dropped two straight games, dropping the team to 2-6. Especially painful was how the Magic lost to the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday night. Orlando held a double-digit lead heading into the final quarter but were felled by a 32-17 run in the fourth, ultimately…Read More
The post Channing Frye on Magic: ‘We’re close to winning, but that’s still f—ing losing’ (video) appeared first on Sportress of Blogitude.

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Hornets snap 16-game losing streak to Heat

Al Jefferson had 28 points and Kemba Walkers had 16 points and seven assists for Charlotte.

      
 

 

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Spartans still a threat after losing Harris, Payne (Yahoo Sports)

Michigan State coach Tom Izzo talks about the upcoming season during his team's NCAA college basketball media day, Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2014, in East Lansing, Mich. (AP Photo/Al Goldis)

Tom Izzo is still lamenting an opportunity that slipped away last season. ”Not many times I felt like we had a chance to do something special – last year I did,” the Michigan State coach said. ”I really believed it was a year to not only get back to a Final Four but I thought a legitimate chance to win a national championship.” After an injury-plagued regular season, the Spartans entered the NCAA tournament as one of the trendy picks to make a deep run, but they were eliminated in the Elite Eight by eventual champion Connecticut. Michigan State must replace Gary Harris, Adreian Payne and Keith Appling from that team.


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Chicago Bulls Players Losing Minutes with Their Preseason Performance

The NBA preseason is about development and acclimation, first and foremost. It takes some time to work the rust out of bodies that haven’t played the five-on-five game all summer. But for many, it’s also a tryout of sorts.

And since the Chicago Bulls come into the 2014-15 season with a handful of fresh pieces to work in, many of their new players are certainly on display for coach Tom Thibodeau’s judgment. While what he’s seen, and will see, in practice certainly matters, there’s an extra edge of expectation to game time that tells the coach something significant about his new men.

Rookies Doug McDermott and Nikola Mirotic have impressed Thibodeau. Their respective work ethics and understandings of the team game have left him pleased with both, even if he remains mum on whether either will crack the rotation. Here’s Thibodeau on integrating the two, via ESPN’s Nick Friedell:

I like the way [McDermott] and Nikola come in every day. I don’t know when, but I do believe it’s going to happen. They’re both great workers, they have a great approach to what we’re doing, but it’s a big jump. They have to show that they’re capable of doing their job out there and they’re helping their team. And it’s not just how they’re playing individually, it’s how they’re playing with the group. The group has to function well when they’re on the floor.

Even though he won’t commit to giving his rookies minutes, it seems clear that McDermott and Mirotic haven’t lost any playing time in the preseason. Despite some expected sloppiness, both have found ways to positively impact games—going after rebounds and creating turnovers when their shots aren’t falling. If there’s anything that makes Thibodeau happy, it’s that kind of gamey persistence.

The same can’t be said, unfortunately, for Bulls sophomore Tony Snell.

Snell has had limited playing time in the preseason, breaking the 20-minute mark just twice and shooting a paltry 30 percent from the field. He hasn’t shown promise as a defender, either—despite his length. Lineups including Snell haven’t functioned better than McDermott or Mirotic lineups on the whole, and so it would seem that Snell is moving down the depth chart in 2014-15.

Aside from these three youngsters, Aaron Brooks is the remaining Bull who’s really fighting for playing time in exhibition games. The rest of the team will either decidedly get their minutes or decidedly not; Brooks is on the fence. Between Derrick Rose and Kirk Hinrich, Thibodeau arguably already has what he needs in the point guard division. Brooks has to prove something.

So far, the journeyman’s results have been unsurprisingly mixed.

Like Nate Robinson, C.J. Watson and John Lucas III before him, Brooks is a peripheral offensive option who’s going to give up a lot defensively while bringing occasional scoring feasts to Chicago but also plenty of famines. After an ineffectual, six-point effort in the preseason opener against the Washington Wizards, Brooks came back the next night to make three three-pointers and score 18 against the Detroit Pistons.

More important to Thibodeau than Brooks’ shot, though, is his defense and team play. The point guard is prone to errant decision-making, and on defense he is simply not large or strong enough to hang with a lot of the league’s elite.

Kyrie Irving torched Brooks in the Bulls’ loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers, scoring most of his 28 points with Derrick Rose on the bench. This does not bode well for Brooks’ playing time. And while Hinrich hasn‘t been a world-killer himself, he’s got tenure in Chicago and his coach’s invaluable trust.

The most likely path for Brooks and extended minutes is an injury on the roster—and between Hinrich and Rose, you know there will be some games missed. In the preseason, however, Brooks looks like no more than what he is: an insurance policy.

At the top of the roster, we know Thibodeau‘s veterans are locked in. Rose, Hinrich, Joakim Noah, Pau Gasol, Mike Dunleavy and Taj Gibson are all sure things. Though each has had growing pains in the preseason, none of them will lose minutes for what he does in exhibition play.

Noah—who’s battling some knee issues after arthroscopic surgery—may play less and hand time to Gibson in the short term. But in the long run, Thibodeau will lean on him hard. Nothing about the core is really changing in the preseason.

McDermott and Mirotic, despite being rookies, seem to be trending positively toward playing time with their own performances. But Snell and Brooks may have dug themselves into the holes beneath Thibodeau‘s rotation.

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