If you saw the box score of the Rockets-Spurs preseason game on Sunday, you may have noticed an ugly stat line from Mr. Linsanity – the electrifying point guard that shocked the basketball world last season.
Lin managed to hit just one-of-10 shots with one assist while committing two turnovers in 25 minutes of play against the stifling defense of San Antonio. Lin’s biggest issue so far in the preseason appears to be the status of the knee he had surgery on last season, although some apparently believe Lin simply lacks athleticism.
See what Kevin McHale had to say about the play of his starting point guard, the good news on Dwight Howard and much more from Monday below:
- Kevin McHale shared his thoughts about the Rockets’ poor play against the Spurs over the weekend. He also touched on the performances of Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik, from Jason Friedman of NBA.com: “Yeah, I mean I told our guys: that’s a team that plays with a purpose; they know their offense, they make reads. You do silly things, they make you pay, and we did a lot of silly things defensively – a few silly things offensively, too. It’s something we have to learn from and something we have to get better from. We never got them reacting to us with any kind of ball movement or body movement; we just got stagnant and that’s the one thing we’ve really got to work on and get better at. (on Jeremy Lin) Jeremy struggled. He’ll have to be better. I think if you asked Jeremy, he probably wasn’t too happy with the way he played either. He’s a young kid. We’re not talking about a 30-year-old, nine- or ten-year veteran. He’s only got 20-something starts under his belt. The Spurs are a smart, disciplined team; they know what they want to give you and they know what they want to take away. We didn’t take what they gave us and we attacked what they wanted to take away – that’s the worst of all scenarios. (on Omer) He’s playing hard. He’s making free throws. I couldn’t be more happy with Omer.”
- Dahntay Jones had his own take on why Jeremy Lin became so big last season, from Dwain Price of Star-Telegram: “I think he had a very good month (last year), but when anything goes down in New York City it’s a write-up about it,’’ Mavs guard Dahntay Jones said Sunday. “If it would have happened in Indiana I don’t think it would have been the same type of buzz, but he had a great string of games. “If you do that in New York – New York wants to put somebody out there and to be proud of someone. It’s the media hub, so he did it at the right place at the right time.’
- Deron Williams is quite happy now that he is playing with teammates who understand how to play the game. Tim Bontemps of New York Post has the story: “With the vast majority of the team having never played together, you’d expect there to be some growing pains during the preseason, at minimum, and probably into the regular season. But the biggest takeaway from Saturday night’s win was the fact the Nets looked like a group who have played together for a long time. Now, let’s get a couple things out of the way quickly: it’s a preseason game, and the Sixers were without two key starters in Andrew Bynum (their best player) and shooting guard Jason Richardson. But, in that situation, the Nets should have dominated Philly’s starters, and they did. The Nets outscored the Sixers by a combined 58-34 in the first and third quarters, when the starters spent much of the time on the court together. It was a promisng start. The recurring theme in the locker room after the game was how fun it was to play with a bunch of guys who “know how to play.” That was something Deron Williams repeatedly made mention of last season, that the Nets simply lacked guys who knew how to play and how to react.”
- Williams will also hope to hear chants of “Brooklyn” from the home fans, from Stefan Bondy of New York Daily News: “Deron Williams has a request for fans heading to the Barclays Center: Chant “Brooklyn.” He didn’t mention “Go Nets,” or anything involving his team’s nickname. The star point guard prefers “Brooklyn,” repeated slowly and deliberately, exactly like the chorus in Fabolous’ “Brooklyn” rap song. Williams heard it from a small pocket of fans during Saturday’s exhibition in Atlantic City — 130 miles from the Barclays Center — and it left him fantasizing about a larger group joining the chorus, starting in Monday night’s preseason home debut at the $1 billion arena against the Wizards. “I like that ‘Brooklyn’ chant,” Williams said unprompted. “Hopefully that’s a motto this year. That was only 2,000 fans (in Atlantic City). Imagine 18,000.”
- Joe Johnson has no idea where the nickname “Iso-Joe” came from, according to Howard Beck of The New York Times: “The man called Iso-Joe did not ask for the nickname, or the ball-dominating style that spawned it, or the burdens of a one-man show. The label suggests self-indulgence, and the modest, soft-speaking fellow from Little Rock, Ark., hardly fits the caricature. “I don’t know where the Iso-Joe comes from,” said Joe Johnson, sounding more bemused than annoyed. For most of his seven seasons as an Atlanta Hawk, Johnson was a reluctant solo artist, powering Coach Mike Woodson’s isolation-heavy offense while teammates stood and watched. The Hawks won a lot of games and Johnson scored a lot of points — until the playoffs, when the simplistic style faltered, leaving Johnson as the scapegoat. “It was cool, until I started getting double- and triple-teamed,” Johnson said. This was an observation, not a complaint. Like any star, Johnson relished the chance to shine, even if he never viewed himself in such one-dimensional terms. As a scorer? Yes. As an iso-machine? No.”
- Andray Blatche will wear No. 0 this season to remind himself of the lack of support he had over the summer, from Zach Braziller of New York Post: “Andray Blatche doesn’t want to talk about his roller-coaster past with the Wizards, but he isn’t forgetting it either. The Nets reserve forward, in fact, is using it as motivation. The 6-foot-11 Syracuse product chose to wear No. 0 after signing with Brooklyn, a reminder of the amount of support he felt he had after the Wizards used the amnesty clause to rid themselves of the remainder of his three-year, $23 million contact. “Everybody thought I was going to be out of the league,” Blatche said. “Zero reminds me I didn’t have any support system outside of my immediate family, nobody who thought I was going to bounce back and get on another team.”
- All signs indicate the return of a healthy Dwight Howard sooner than later, from Mike Trudell of Lakers.com:
- So just how good does Howard look? Watch the clip below to find out:
- Eric Gordon is ready to be a vocal leader for the New Orleans Hornets, from Adam Figman of Slam: “Unlike in L.A., where he was a mere youngster amidst a random smattering of talent, and his first mess of a year in the Big Easy, EJ is now the highest paid, best player on the roster his name sits on, and the player who will be looked upon to be its guide. With rookies Anthony Davis and Austin Rivers in tow, there’s little doubt the Bees can sneak up on some people and maybe fight for a 7- or 8-seed in the crowded West, but it won’t take place without some decent leadership. “I think I’m going to be more vocal each year,” he says. “I learn more every year and you always learn something new. I would say the number one way to lead is by example. At this point I think I know what is best for some of these young guys. It’s about staying in the gym and working on something every day. It’s all about getting better.”
- Doc Rivers wishes the Atlantic Division was the same way it was two to three years ago, from Berman of New York Post: “I think they’re good moves,’’ Rivers said of the Knicks’ additions of Jason Kidd (39), Marcus Camby (38), Raymond Felton (28) and his former player Rasheed Wallace (38). “They surpassed us as being the oldest team. We enjoyed that — being called the new, young kids on the block. But all of them can play, all have great knowledge. I think they’ll help them.’’ Does he consider the Knicks their toughest Atlantic threat? “It’s a deep division,’’ Rivers said. “New York’s one of them. Philly is improved when you add an [Andrew] Bynum to your team, you’re a better basketball team. Brooklyn has improved. It’s going to be a hard division. We preferred the way it was two, three years ago. Now you got to fight to win this division.’’
- Mike Woodson will play Jason Kidd at shooting guard when Pablo Prigioni is on the floor, according to Marc Berman of New York Post: “Mike Woodson has found a formula to ensure third-string point guard Pablo Prigioni get minutes in the regular season. Prigioni, the Spanish League warhorse, and Jason Kidd have become a backup backcourt pairing that has been one of the preseason’s highlights. With Kidd’s adaptability in moving to shooting guard, Prigioni, the NBA’s oldest rookie at 35, has a great chance of being a rotation staple, according to Woodson. “We’re going to try to, absolutely,’’ Woodson said. “My job as coach is to juggle minutes based on who’s playing well. Minutes are going to be tough to come by on this team.’’
- Kevin Love hurt his elbow while sleeping, from Jerry Zgoda of Star Tribune: “Kevin Love’s going to need a bigger bed. The Timberwolves’ two-time All-Star along with starting small forward Andrei Kirilenko missed Saturday’s preseason return to Target Center — an 82-75 victory over the Chicago Bulls — because of a suddenly sore right elbow. Love didn’t bang it or hyperextend it while playing only the first quarter Friday in Indianapolis. No, he instead slept with his right arm extended off his bed all night Friday and when he awoke Saturday morning, he said he could barely lift a basketball. ”I couldn’t shoot it 10 feet,” he said… Love, however, had no strength in that arm. Maybe he needs to get a bed like the one Jefferson, his former teammate, recently ordered in Salt Lake City: A 10-foot-by-12-foot one that cost more than $23,000. ”My bed’s big enough,” Love said. “Just a fluke thing. I’m pretty sure it’s just a 24-hour deal.”
- Here are some updates about the status of Andrew Bynum, from Bob Cooney of Daily News:
- Kelenna Azubuike has been waived by the Cavaliers, according to Mary Schmitt of The Plain Dealer: “The Cavaliers have waived guard Kelenna Azubuike on Sunday. Azubuike, obtained in the draft-night trade that brought the rights to rookie Tyler Zeller from Dallas, appeared in one preseason game, scoring six points and adding three rebounds in 14 minutes. The former Kentucky player, 28, was trying to resume a career derailed by knee injuries. The Cavs roster now stands at 17 heading into Monday’s game against Orlando in Cincinnati.”
- George Karl does not care about the amount of money his players make, which is why nothing is guaranteed for center JaVale McGee. Benjamin Hochman of The Denver Post has the story: “Among the Nuggets’ three big men, JaVale McGee makes the most money by far. But Thursday, when George Karl was asked how he will divide playing time among McGee, Timofey Mozgov and Kosta Koufos, the veteran coach said, “I have no idea. The perfect scenario would be that JaVale would get (minutes) in the high 20s and Kosta and Timo in the low 20s, but I’m not going to predict anything. I’m going to go coach to win games, not to play big guys.” When pressed about McGee being Denver’s big-money signing this summer, Karl got fired up. “You think that’s ever influenced me? You think I give a (darn) about what they make? You honestly think that bothers (me)? The only time it’s good to know what the players make is to demand they play like a $10 million player,” Karl said.”
- Can Corey Brewer have a breakout season as a scorer for the Nuggets? That is the chatter in Denver after the first two preseason games, from Adrian Dater of The Denver Post: “If Corey Brewer is going to average 20 points a game, as he has through the preseason so far, then we can probably just pencil in the Nuggets for the NBA Finals right now. History shows there will be a regression to the mean for Brewer’s career scoring number, however, which is 8.9 entering his sixth NBA season. Then again, who knows? Maybe Brewer is just unpredictable enough to have a breakout scoring season. Granted, the games are not counting yet, but Brewer is off to a great start, with 40 points through two Nuggets victories. Unpredictable — that’s a word Nuggets coach George Karl did not use to describe Brewer on Sunday morning. Well, he sort of did. ”He’s a player I think both coaches are sometimes scared of. Sometime he’s crazy, sometimes a little too crazy,” Karl said. “He’s a difficult and really interesting player.” If you think Karl doesn’t like Brewer as a player, you would be wrong. ”I love him, and I think he’s very important to our basketball team,” Karl said.”
- Metta World Peace was so happy about his own defensive play against Gordon Hayward that he went into the stands and kissed the hand of an unsuspecting female fan, from Mark Medina of Los Angeles Times: “It wasn’t exactly love at first sight, but Metta World Peace hardly hesitated sharing the message his name entails. The Lakers forward had just stripped the ball away from Utah’s Gordan Hayward before it dribbled out of bounds. World Peace then ran out of bounds and retrieved the ball from a young woman sitting behind the basket. Before he hopped back onto the court, World Peace leaned down and kissed the woman’s hand. ”I just saw in her eyes that she liked the hustle,” World Peace said after the Lakers’ 99-86 preseason loss Saturday to the Utah Jazz at Staples Center. “I saw it in her eyes. We made eye contact.” Other Laker fans may or may not have liked World Peace mimicking what many of them do on the Kiss Cam. Lakers Coach Mike Brown, for one, called World Peace a “smart fan” after a reporter informed him the woman he kissed was good looking.
- Chris Bosh talked about why he wasn’t ready to play the role of a center when he was a younger player, from Shandel Richardson of Sun Sentinel: “Quite frankly, it was just different [then],” said Bosh, who is entering his 10th season. “You’re 24 or 23 years old going up against dudes with hair on their chests. It’s different with kids. They’re going to football practice, and they got babies. I’m trying to play against these grown men and I still had Simulac on my breath.” The Heat feel Bosh is more than ready to face the rigors of playing in the middle. He attempts to join the likes of Dave Cowens, Ben Wallace, Willis Reed and Moses Malone to have success at the position despite possessing non-traditional size. ”Now, I’m married,” Bosh said. “I got kids, soccer practice soon. A little bit hair on his chest.” In other words, Bosh is ready.”
- The Bobcats were offensively challenged in historic fashion last season, but there are signs of better times ahead, from Rick Bonnell of Charlotte Observer: “We’re talking history: The Bobcats were worst in field-goal percentage (41.4 percent) and 3-point percentage (29.5 percent), but points-scored was the most troubling measure. Their 87 points per game was the lowest such average in the NBA since the 2003-04 Toronto Raptors scored 85.4. How do they dig out of that sufficiently to compete this season? It started with upgrading personnel over the summer. Then it becomes about speeding the pace and thinking more about how to generate quality shot attempts. There won’t be a quick fix, as was demonstrated when they scored 87 points on 40 percent shooting Thursday in an exhibition loss to the New Orleans Hornets. But new coach Mike Dunlap saw progress: They committed 10 turnovers, compared to the Hornets’ 21.”
- Greg Monroe, though impressed by the physicality of Andre Drummond, thinks the rookie’s mental part of the game has a ways to go, from Stephen Brotherston of Hoopsworld: “Drummond looks the part of an NBA center, which is not lost on his new teammates. ”He definitely has the tools to be a really good big man,” Pistons star Greg Monroe said. “As far as the mental part of the game, he has a ways to go, but as far as the physical skills, he is one of those guys who, any ceiling he reaches, you won’t be surprised because of the physical tools he is blessed with.”
- Here is a clip of Carlos Delfino having a little fun in the preseason game against the Spurs with a pass to himself off the backboard: