Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant both practice, point guard could play Friday

In a bit of good news during a season that has had far too little of it, the Oklahoma City Thunder had to be encouraged with Monday’s development when both Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant participated in practice. Westbrook, who suffered a broken hand in late October, missing 13 games, and Durant, still recovering from…Read More
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Kobe goes vintage for 32,000th point

The basket was pure Kobe, both good and bad.

      
 

 

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Kobe Bryant Scores His 32,000th Career Point (Video)

In Tuesday’s game vs. the Atlanta Hawks, Kobe Bryant scores his 32,000th career point in true Kobe Bryant fashion. The Los Angeles Lakers legend is currently 4th on the all time scoring list behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone and Michael Jordan.
The 32,000th point came with a classic Kobe Bryant fade-away jumper at a crucial point in the game to help give the Lakers a win over the Hawks. Oh, he was also fouled for an “and one.” With Kobe’s milestone and an unexpected victory, Tuesday was a rare bright spot for Lakers fans.
Here’s video of the moment:

The post Kobe Bryant Scores His 32,000th Career Point (Video) appeared first on Basketball Bicker by Joey.

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Tim Duncan Passes 25,000 Career Point Mark Against LA Lakers

Tim Duncan‘s already had a legendary NBA career, but on Friday night, he managed to ascend into even more rarefied air.

The San Antonio Spurs star notched his 25,000 career point, becoming the 19th player to do so, per the team’s Twitter account:

Only Karl Malone scored more points with the same head coach, per ESPN Stats & info:

Duncan’s also the second player ever to reach 25,000 points, 14,000 rebounds and 2,500 blocks. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is the other:

Duncan will be remembered as one of the greatest players in NBA history. Hitting the 25,000-point plateau is merely another honor to add to an incredible legacy. The achievement will also serve to further bolster his incredible longevity.

For arguably the last five or so years, critics have written off Duncan and the Spurs for being too old. Instead, San Antonio is the reigning NBA champion, with Duncan continuing to play at a high level.

With his career winding down, fans should treasure every minute he spends on the court.

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Beck/Bucher Debate: Who Is the NBA’s Most Complete Point Guard?

The NBA has an influx of top-tier point guards who demonstrate varying skills and talents.

While the position may have shifted from a pass-first mindset to a get-to-the-hoop mindset, a few floor leaders still have the ability to win while exhibiting the quintessential traits of a point guard.

Who is the most complete 1 in the NBA? 

Find out as Adam Lefkoe goes in-depth with Howard Beck and Ric Bucher, who give their answers in the video above.

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2-Time Plane-Crash Survivor Austin Hatch Scores 1st Point for Michigan

Michigan Wolverines freshman Austin Hatch has been through more than almost all of us ever will, losing both of his parents and two siblings in two separate plane crashes, but his team has been nothing but supportive since he arrived in Ann Arbor.

Head coach John Beilein subbed Hatch in during Monday’s scrimmage against Wayne State, with the guard eventually getting to the foul line. After scoring his first point for Michigan, Hatch ran to the sideline and hugged his head coach.

The Wolverines won the game, 86-43, but the bigger story was the standing ovation and the heartfelt moment at the Crisler Center.

[YouTube, h/t UMHoops.com]

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Jameer Nelson Is Latest Dallas Mavericks Point Guard to Click

When the Dallas Mavericks secured the services of Jameer Nelson, 32, this past summer, the intention was to add another serviceable point guard to succeed a long list floor generals that have come before him.

For over a decade, the Mavs have modeled their roster around a franchise superstar in Dirk Nowitzki. The German has naturally lived through a slew of different point guards, and it’s been an historically strong position for the team.

In 1998, Don Nelson, then Mavericks head coach and general manager, saw a gem in a certain Canadian residing in Phoenix. He swung a deal for Steve Nash, and then proceeded to put his acquisition on a road to becoming a ball-distributing deity several years down the road.

Unfortunately, Mavs owner Mark Cuban was reluctant to paying Nash the big bucks, and let the 30-year-old slip away to the Phoenix Suns. A couple of MVP awards later, that didn’t look like such a good decision.

Jason Terry, a combo-guard with tweener skills, stepped directly into Nash’s shoes. He wasn’t really a natural point guard but put together an exceptionally efficient 2004-05 season, shooting 50.1 percent from the field and 42 percent from beyond the arc.

Devin Harris was a solid backup, but Dallas really hit home by moving him in a package for Jason Kidd. The future Hall of Famer gave the team four-and-a-half decent seasons and played a major role in bringing a championship to Dallas.

Then Cuban hoped that Darren Collison and a heap of other guards would fill the void, before scratching the plan and picking up the duo of Jose Calderon and Monta Ellis in 2013-14.

Ellis and Calderon complemented each other well last year. They shared the ball-handling duties and took turns running pick-and-pops with Nowitzki. Even though the roster looked relatively shallow, head coach Rick Carlisle really managed to squeeze the most out of his guys.

Calderon had to be sacrificed in order to bring back Tyson Chandler to Dallas. His direct replacement turned out to be Nelson, about whom many had reservations.

 

Filling Calderon’s Role

Many saw a potential offensive juggernaut rampaging the NBA when the Mavs landed Chandler Parsons. However, there was some understandable skepticism on whether Dallas could contend for a championship with Nelson as the starting point guard in place of Calderon.

Calderon played a crucial role in the Mavericks achieving a top-three-ranked offense last season. His assist numbers took a little bit of a hit, but it was simply a case of him playing more off the ball.

He has always been a golden example of a floor general who takes care of the ball and gets his team into set plays. Calderon led the league in assists per turnover ratio in 2011-12, and he always sniffs around the top of that category.

Basically, Calderon is the guy you want to have on your side if you have to execute a play at a crucial time. He formed a deadly pick-and-pop threat with Nowitzki and always hit corner shooters with pocket passes.

The Spaniard also took a career-high 5.2 three-pointers per game, knocking them down at a 44.9 percent rate. His terrific ability to spot-up and find open space on the floor was incredibly important for the Mavs

Nowitzki draws double-teams in the post, which creates scenarios such as this (Calderon and his defender are highlighted in the picture):

Calderon proceeded to calmly knock down a three after faking a pass on that particular play. However, he wasn’t the only beneficiary of this partnership.

Whenever the Mavericks managed to find Nowitzki in the post with an entry pass, they usually cleared out the strong side. Calderon would then lurk around the perimeter, leaving his defender in a precarious pickle—either abandon a terrific knock-down shooter or let Dirk work one-on-one. 

Nelson now has a couple of games under his belt as a Maverick, and he has done an acceptable job replacing Calderon’s load in his own way.

 

What Nelson Brings to the Mavs

Nelson appears to be a tough-minded individual who has been through a lot in the NBA. Carlisle also seems to have that impression, as he praised his starting point guard’s leadership tendencies that seem to come naturally to him.

“He’s just got a grit and toughness about him that we really need on this team this year,” said Mavs head coach, according to ESPN’s Tim MacMahon.

It’s a little unfair to evaluate how Nelson fills the gap of Calderon, simply because his role is somewhat different. This year’s Mavericks run waves of penetration off high pick-and-rolls to break down defenses, which caters to Nelson’s strengths. He is significantly faster than Calderon off the dribble, while being a trustworthy floor-spacer as well.

Dallas still runs a lot of post-ups for Nowitzki, and Nelson’s role in those plays is different than that of Calderon last year. This was on display in Mavs‘ 105-96 loss to the Miami Heat on November 9th:

The Mavericks start the game out with a standard Nowitzki post isolation. After Nelson completes the entry pass, he cuts to the weak-side corner, while Parsons is the one curling around the perimeter.

Calderon would usually be the one starting out in the corner and cutting to the top of the key. Carlisle has opted to have Parsons doing this instead of Nelson, perhaps to transition into a dynamic pick-and-roll if the defense manages to halt the initial action.

A quick glance at Nelson’s field-goal percentage is a little unnerving. He has failed to crack 40 percent over the last two seasons and is currently connecting on 38.5 percent of his shots this year.

Nelson is more accurate from beyond the arc, dropping his three-point shots at a 40 percent clip after seven games. Five of his 7.4 shots per game are from long range, which is a little more reassuring.

Considering the quality of looks Nelson is getting, his three-point percentage is great so far. Calderon was assisted on 84.8 percent of his long-range makes last year, while Nelson is creating his own shots and has only been assisted on 42.9 percent of his threes.

Nelson is a lot more aggressive shooting the ball when defenders go under screens. Even though he is less selective than the Spaniard, Nelson generally takes acceptable shots.

Standing at 6’0″, Nelson struggles finishing at the rim. However, he is still very explosive and can create looks for others driving to the basket. Here he creates a good shot for Parsons:

If Nelson’s man gets stuck on a screen and the floor is well-spaced, he can do some damage.

Ball movement is a major element of Dallas’ powerhouse offense, and Nelson is a very good passer. He is used to running an offense and reads defenses well. Take a look at this beautiful three-man action:

Chandler sets a great screen for Parsons, who baits Bosh toward him. With no clear passing lane to the rolling big man, Parsons swings to Nelson, who in turn delivers the ball to Chandler.

Nelson might not be as efficient as Calderon, but he has made a seamless transition into his offensive role and clicks with his teammates well.

On the other side of the ball, the sight isn’t as pretty. Calderon was notorious for his bad defense, but Nelson isn’t much of an upgrade in that regard. 

With bigger point guards being in fashion in today’s NBA, undersized players like Nelson can often be exploited. 

Due to his skimpy frame, Nelson often struggles fighting over screens. Here is an example:

Chandler prefers to sag off and protect the basket over coming out high to contain the ball-handler. Nelson gets swallowed by the pick, and the Utah Jazz get an open three.

Other than his physical disadvantages, Nelson doesn’t have great defensive instincts. He tends to over-help and roam too much. In this play, he inexplicably leaves his man open in the corner, even though his teammates all have their direct matchups in check:

Some of his mishaps might be schematic, as the Mavericks prioritize taking away easy looks at the basket. However, he has to do a better job identifying the threat, instead of blindly helping as he does here:

Nelson completely abandons his man on the wing to prevent the drive, even though the Mavs have three players in the paint to contest a shot at the rim. No one is in position to close out on the shooter, and Dallas gives up an open three.

The Mavericks have had quite a lot of changes in the backcourt over the last couple of years, but Nelson is adamant that he is here to stay.

“There won’t be another one after that for awhile,” Nelson said of the recent point guard turnover, according to Eddie Sefko of Dallas News. “The plan is for there not to be another one for several years with me, Devin [Harris] and Raymond [Felton]. It’s good to be alongside those guys.”

Just like many Dallas point guards of the past, Nelson comes in a mixed package of both excellent qualities and visible flaws. He was signed at a significantly cheaper price tag (under $3 million per year) than his predecessor in Calderon. In a deep backcourt, Nelson should provide a decent return on investment.

 

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

You can follow me on Twitter: @VytisLasaitis

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New York Knicks: Time to point the finger

The start of the Phil Jackson and Derek Fisher era has not started the way Knicks’ fans had hoped, and I am very disappointed myself. After their loss on Saturday to Atlanta, New York is now riding a four game losing streak and are currently 2-5, which is good for 12th in the Eastern Conference. It’s not time to push the panic button, but it is time to take a serious look around the locker room and figure out how to turn things around.
Anthony has been slow out of the gate this season for New York.
First and foremost, the play of Carmelo Anthony has been less than mediocre. With the current roster, Carmelo needs to perform day in and day out in order for the Knicks to succeed. He has always been the type of player to take a lot of shots, usually upwards of 15-20 a game, and they aren’t always the best shots. If there is someone I want to see putting up those shots however, it is Anthony. The problem is; he’s not making those shots. Yes the is the leading scorer on the team, averaging about 20 a game,

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James insists no feud with Cavs point guard (Yahoo Sports)

SALT LAKE CITY, UT - NOVEMBER 5: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers reacts to a pair of Utah Jazz free throws in the last minute of their game at EnergySolutions Arena on November 5, 2014 in Salt Lake City, Utah. The Utah Jazz won 102-100. (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images)

DENVER (AP) — LeBron James sat at one end of the court, listening to music. On the other end, about as far away from James as possible, Kyrie Irving leaned back in his seat.


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Buy or Sell: Is Shabazz Napier the Answer at Point Guard for the Miami Heat?

As Miami attempts to figure out a rotation with its new unit, players like Shabazz Napier and Shawne Williams will play pivotal roles and extended minutes. The Miami Heat drafted Napier to fill a need at point guard and added Williams for another big body who can stretch the floor. 

Should the Miami Heat play Napier in crunch time? What is the role Williams plays in Miami’s game plan? Once healthy, will Danny Granger be inserted into the lineup over James Ennis?

Find out as Ethan Skolnick dishes on the Miami Heat in “Buy or Sell” with Stephen Nelson in the video above.  

 

 

 

 

 

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