Westbrook injury could bite Thunder come playoff time

The Thunder, without their two best players, now must worry about playoff seeding, too.

      
 

 

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Kobe sounds off on Nash’s injury and Father Time

Bryant is always racing against the clock.

      
 

 

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It’s time Jennings reaches potential

Stan Van Gundy sees Brandon Jennings as key to a successful season for the Pistons.

      
 

 

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Roy Williams: Fraud report a ‘very sad time’ for UNC

Williams said he was ‘dumbfounded’ by alleged unchecked fraud for nearly two decades.

      
 

 

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UNC’s Williams: ‘Very sad time’ after fraud report (Yahoo Sports)

North Carolina basketball coach Roy Williams said Friday it’s a ”very sad time” at the school after an investigation found widespread academic fraud and adds that his program ”thought we were doing the right thing.” After his team’s exhibition victory Friday night, Williams spoke for the first time in response to a report released Wednesday that outlined how fraud ran unchecked in a department for nearly two decades. It involved more than 3,100 students – about half were athletes – taking sham classes and earning artificially high grades in the formerly named African and Afro-American Studies (AFAM) department. Justice Department official Kenneth Wainstein called the system a ”shadow curriculum” running from 1993 to 2011 in AFAM.

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WATCH: Paul George takes court for first time since leg injury

Clear signs of a speedy recovery from Indiana Pacers perennial All-Star Paul George. Three months after suffering a harrowing compound fracture this past July, George was recently filmed letting shots up during a Pacers shoot-around Monday night after practice. George seemed overjoyed to rub off the three month rust with a variety of mid-range and three point jumpers. Many are ruling the injury to cost George the entire 2014-15 NBA season, but the anxious George is pushing for a mid-season return. Although he looks to move extremely well this early in the recovery process, Paul George is nowhere near game shape. I repeat, nowhere near! To risk a quick comeback at 80% for a meaningless couple of matchups at the tail end of season could turn into Derrick Rose 2.0! Come back fully restored next season at superstar level to help the Indiana Pacers compete for a strong playoff run, in the race for a Eastern Conference title. The post Paul George Takes The Court For First Time…

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Chicago Bulls Will Get More Dangerous With Time

Frustration with the slows starts the Chicago Bulls have suffered through is mounting.  Best advice?  Take a breath and calm down.  Here is why.
Derrick Rose Just Got Back
Contrary to popular belief, it’s not easy to switch from one philosophy to another for any pro sports team.  Over the past two years the Bulls have had to alter their style of play in order to make due without the presence of point guard Derrick Rose.  It requires an entirely different mind set with different rules.  Now that he is back from his second knee surgery, it inevitably was going to take time for him to reintegrate with the team and for the team to reintegrate with him.  That can often lead to all sorts of unusual issues, slow starts being one of them.
They fell behind early to Denver on October 13th before recovering for a 20-point win and then had to overcome a 20-point deficit to stun Atlanta at the buzzer on the 16th.  Even though it’s just preseason and both games were wins, it has many people nervous about what t

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Byron Scott’s Return to Lakers Has Taken Time but Seems Right on Schedule

LOS ANGELES — The eldest child is the one you assume to be the first one coached by the father.   

Thomas Scott says no. He remembers when the notion of his father, Byron, being a coach gained its real toehold.   

And Thomas remembers the kid who was the first to be coached by Byron Scott.   

“My dad’s last year here playing with the Lakers [was] Kobe Bryant‘s first year,” Thomas said. “There was a relationship there. There was an understanding. I think my dad saw a lot of himself in Kobe—not necessarily the basketball part, just the mentality, the attitude, the focus he had at 18. It was really intriguing to my dad.

“Kobe saw somebody that he could look at as a role model in the NBA: How are you supposed to work here? How are you supposed to lift? Just somebody he could watch and see, someone leading by example at 35 years old and going harder than the guys at 22. That’s what Kobe got.

“I noticed Kobe would ask him questions here and there, and he always had something. And Kobe would apply it. I saw that early on.”

Now in the coaching business himself, serving as the Lakers’ and his father’s assistant coach for player development, Thomas was a young teenager at the time. But he still noticed the connection between Byron and Kobe.

And in that relationship from 1996-97, the son saw a glimpse of the father’s future.

“There was something there,” Thomas recalled. “He has a way of communicating his experience—and knowledge.”

Byron Scott had by then already been told by mentors Pat Riley with the Lakers and Larry Brown with the Pacers that his communication skill could translate to coaching. Before Bryant came along, Scott had been willing to help other teammates or kids, too.

Some even joined Scott for his offseason workouts. Elden Campbell didn’t last a week. Reggie Miller forged an 18-year NBA career.

But it was Bryant who really shaped Scott’s future at a time when Bryant was thinking it was all about “Mr. Scott” guiding him. Indeed, Bryant still refers to Scott, not Del Harris or even Jerry West, as “my rookie mentor.”

In that way, it was the best sort of relationship—a real give and take, each benefiting and growing from being around the other.

And for it to have come all the way around to now, with both men at a point when they need each other and their beloved franchise needs the most help of all, it’s downright poetic.

Bryant’s last coach is his first coach.

Scott returns just before Bryant leaves.

The glorious Pat Riley era is meshing with the even more glorious Phil Jackson era.

This is not mere nostalgia. This is synergy.

 


 

If it’s such a logical fit, then why did it take the Lakers so long to settle on Scott as the head coach? There was a three-month wait for his hire. It sure didn’t feel as seamless as Scott becoming this staple of the Lakers when his childhood home sat just 14 blocks from the Forum. (Yes, he counted.)

The Lakers went into this search determined to be move slower and be more open-minded after being quickly impressed by Mike Brown’s DVDs on defense and Mike D’Antoni’s history with Steve Nash.

And…the reality that clubs will do just about anything to get LeBron James.

In 2010, the Cavaliers were desperate to re-sign James. They were led to believe that James wanted a coach with playing experience and a history of winning, maybe even one in particular whom James’ buddy Chris Paul would endorse from his time in New Orleans. So the Cavs fired Mike Brown and hired Scott.

Given that James didn’t elect to join Scott then, the Lakers understandably had pause now that they were coveting James in 2014 free agency and thinking to hire Scott.

So the decision was made to wait for free agency to play out, to open the door for someone such as James, who recently admitted he didn’t choose to return to the Cavs based on their coach, or Carmelo Anthony to help determine who would succeed D’Antoni either through input or playing style.

Indeed, the Lakers’ express elevator back to the penthouse hinged—and will hinge—far more on free-agent recruiting than coaching hires. As general manager Mitch Kupchak said after the dust settled without an incoming star this time, “If you don’t try, you don’t know…We’ll get somebody. At some point in time we will.”

When James and Anthony made their decisions, the Lakers finalized theirs with Scott, who outlasted Lionel Hollins, Kurt Rambis, Alvin Gentry, Mike Dunleavy and George Karl. Scott signed a four-year deal worth $17 million, the last year a team option, on July 28.

Until the marquee changes, Scott is reinforcing the foundation with his emphasis on sound defense and high expectations. Even if the timing might never be right for Scott and James to connect, Scott and this franchise do have a way of falling in easy step together.

The Lakers and Scott really have former Clippers owner Donald Sterling to thank for getting this ball rolling. After the San Diego Clippers drafted Scott fourth overall in 1983, Sterling wasn’t too jazzed about the pick or the money the kid would be paid, so he made the sort of penny-pinching, short-sighted decision he often did: The Clippers traded Scott to the Lakers for a declining Norm Nixon. The Lakers won three NBA championships with Scott and won five more with Scott’s protégés Bryant and Derek Fisher—and the Clippers most definitely did not.

Sterling had another chance at Scott in 2013, interviewing him for the Clippers’ coaching vacancy. Sterling wound up reviving a trade to get Celtics coach Doc Rivers, which left Scott to fall back into the Lakers’ arms.

Scott took a job as TV analyst for Time Warner Cable SportsNet, the Lakers’ regional network, and it offered him a platform to observe—and allowed a sort of words-eye view for “Scotty” to criticize—the lack of defensive consistency in Mike D’Antoni’s team.

“He’s the right guy at the right place, to me, at the right time,” said Paul Pressey, Scott’s assistant in New Orleans and Cleveland and now with the Lakers.

Pressey is as aware as anyone they could’ve been in L.A. in 2011—with Scott coming home to coach a contending team as Jackson’s successor—if Scott had just passed on coaching a likely-to-be-LeBron-less dead-end Cleveland team in 2010.

But Scott’s way is not to game the system. He is a regimented man whose code says that success comes via steps, not slipping through some back door. After rebuilding accomplishments with the Nets and Hornets, Scott wanted to get back to work and tackle the mountain in Cleveland.

Except the terrain featured an NBA-record 26-game losing streak (tied by the 76ers last season) with James off in Miami, top scorer Mo Williams injured and Kyrie Irving still at Duke. The Cavaliers didn’t win the next year (21-45) or the year after that (24-58), either.

Still, Pressey thinks the timing has worked out just right, that the Cavaliers’ failures better prepared Scott for rebuilding in Lakerland today.

“Going through what he went through in Cleveland really strengthened him,” Pressey said. “He was successful in touching a lot of young men’s lives. But it was a painful thing, because he wanted to be more successful in terms of the public eye. He had to learn how to deal with those painful things that he didn’t want to deal with. He had to take the hit for the players. He had to help them get through it.”

It’s the story of Scott’s career: failure leading to balance and helping his voice grow into a broader range of tonalities.

Before coming to his dream job with the mighty Lakers, Scott went to coach three organizations with little history to speak of in the Nets, Hornets and Cavaliers. Before returning to the Lakers for that final season as an NBA player and showing Bryant how you show up at 9:30 a.m. for an 11 a.m. team practice, Scott’s mark of 12 playoff berths in 12 years was marred by a humiliating, humbling season with the expansion Vancouver Grizzlies.

Sometimes the best timing for someone with an ego is after he has gotten it checked.

 


 

Scott made his debut as Lakers coach Monday night in San Diego. Even though expectations for this team are no higher than a low-top sneaker, there was still a clear gauge for this job’s value.

Scott had to say, “Excuse me,” to reporters just so he could enter a 30-strong throng of media waiting to hear him speak.

In contrast, Brian Shaw, passed over by the Lakers to be Jackson’s successor and now head coach of the Denver Nuggets, waited patiently behind a glass door for Scott to finish before emerging—but didn’t wait for Steve Nash.

When Shaw came out, not a single reporter went to him.

Who knows what would’ve happened for Scott as a player and as a future coach if Sterling hadn’t traded him away from San Diego right at the start? Who knows if Scott would’ve already been history if he had taken the challenge of replacing Jackson as Lakers coach—facing the pressure of “going on after Frank Sinatra,” as Rudy Tomjanovich called it?

Even more so than regular jobs, the coaching carousel can turn on a trifle.

Scott would never have been in the initial position to mentor Bryant in 1996 if not for a sense from West and Lakers owner Jerry Buss that something just felt right about Scott returning to the Lakers.

After that awful season in Vancouver, Scott wasn’t sure he was OK with a make-good-in-training-camp offer to rejoin the Lakers—and Scott didn’t show up for a morning, pride-swallowing meeting with Harris at Shutters on the Beach in Santa Monica.

That could’ve been that. Instead, West and Buss told Harris to give Scott another chance and go back the next morning.

This time, Scott was there.

And now, Scott is here…again with Bryant…and with another teenage future star to mold: Julius Randle was one year old when Scott and Bryant began that first season together.

Perhaps it’s destiny. Maybe it’s just oddity. But Scott is home—and it feels like he’s right on time.

 

Kevin Ding is an NBA senior writer for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter, @KevinDing.

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Boston Celtics: Rookie James Young’s Injury Comes at Inopportune Time

James Young of the Boston Celtics may miss an extended period of time with a hamstring strain—a disappointing turn of events for the rookie following an impressive NBA debut.

Per ESPNBoston.com’s Chris Forsberg, Young said he felt “a few pops” while stretching before the Celtics’ preseason opener, and he described the situation as follows:

I’m still learning. I guess I should have talked to [team trainer] Ed [Lacerte] right away. … I was just going off adrenaline, so I really couldn’t feel it. The next day when I woke up, that’s when I really felt it. 

It’s kind of frustrating, but this stuff happens.

The No. 17 selection in this year’s draft showed no effects of the injury during the game, registering 10 points, an assist and a steal in 20 minutes of action.

From A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com, Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said Young is “probably more week-to-week than day-to-day.”

A player sitting out a week or two before the season starts wouldn’t normally be of much concern, but in Young’s case it could diminish his chances of making an impact in Boston during his rookie season.

The Celtics have a lot of depth at shooting guard.  Lottery pick Marcus Smart played the point in Boston’s first two exhibitions, but when Rajon Rondo returns from a broken hand, Smart will likely see some time at the 2.  Avery Bradley is the incumbent starter at that position, and newcomers Evan Turner and Marcus Thornton will compete for minutes there as well.

Due to the crowded Celtics backcourt, the case can be made that it might serve Young better to play consistently on a nightly basis in the D-League, rather than fight for garbage-time scraps in Boston.  Mass Live’s Tom Westerholm writes:

Common sense dictates that Celtics rookie James Young will probably end up playing in Portland, Maine with the D-League Red Claws this season. Young is only 18, and despite his obvious potential as an NBA scorer, he’s still very raw and unlikely to be able to contribute at a high level at the start of the season.

However, in Young’s very first game, he displayed flashes of talent that might earn him a spot in the Celtics’ regular rotation.  In particular, during one sequence in the fourth quarter, he converted a fast-break layup, forced a steal and threw down a dunk in scintillating fashion.

Unfortunately for Young, this injury strips him of the opportunity to demonstrate he belongs right away. Through two preseason contests, both Turner (24 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists in 53 minutes) and Thornton (26 points, two rebounds and one assist in 34 minutes) look eager to prove they are each worthy of considerable court time.  Their performances going forward could make Young the odd man out.

In the long run, Young’s hamstring strain is not anything to worry about.  But in the short term, it might be the reason he ends up in Maine instead of contributing off Boston’s bench.

 

Statistics courtesy of NBA.com.

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Dick Vitale says he won’t be prime time but won’t slow down

Dick Vitale has done primetime Saturday games since 2005 and been with ESPN nearly 40 years.

      
 

 

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