Sheridan Hoops http://www.sheridanhoops.com Thu, 30 Oct 2014 13:17:53 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 Scotto: The Return of Derrick Rose and Chicago’s ‘Scary’ Team http://www.sheridanhoops.com/2014/10/30/scotto-the-return-of-derrick-rose-and-chicagos-scary-team/ http://www.sheridanhoops.com/2014/10/30/scotto-the-return-of-derrick-rose-and-chicagos-scary-team/#respond Thu, 30 Oct 2014 12:26:45 +0000 http://www.sheridanhoops.com/?p=83298

Michael Scotto NEW YORK – After mixed results while playing for Team USA in the FIBA World Cup this summer (he had one good game, and it was Coach K, not Coach Thibs, who inspired him), Derrick Rose returned to the NBA hardwood for the first time in a regular season game since Nov. 22, 2013.

“I think USA Basketball did a great job of making sure that my nerves weren’t too high,” Rose said. “I wasn’t too antsy when I was out there and it led to me coming out tonight and me playing the way I normally play.”

During the first three seasons of his career, Rose won Rookie of the Year in 2009 and became the league’s youngest MVP award winner (22) in 2011 thanks to his blazing speed, ankle-breaking crossover and freakish athleticism.

The abnormal became the normal for Rose during that time.

Derrick RoseHowever, after missing only five combined games in those first three seasons, Rose suffered an ACL tear in his left knee that caused him to miss the entire 2012-13 season.

Upon his return the next season, Rose tore the meniscus in his right knee after appearing in just 10 games.

After two serious injuries, many doubted that the hometown hero from Illinois could remain the face of the franchise and carry the team on a consistent basis.

Now 26, Rose enters the prime of his career with his best supporting cast.

The biggest addition is Pau Gasol, a two-time champion who received interest from the Lakers, Spurs, Thunder, Knicks and others in free agency.

RELATED: Is Pau Gasol Chicago’s missing link to a title?

With his former coach Phil Jackson in the stands as New York’s president of basketball operations, Gasol torched the Knicks for 21 points and 11 rebounds.

After the game, Gasol explained how close he was to joining the Knicks when Jackson pursued him in free agency over the summer.

Pau Gasol“I considered it, but I thought the team wasn’t at the level of other contenders and options that I had,” Gasol said. “I’m coming down to my last few years of my career and I want to maximize them. It was difficult to leave Los Angeles in the first place, but now I feel like I’m in a great position and we have a great opportunity here. Let’s see if we’re lucky and we deserve to do something special.”

Gasol believes his arrival will help Rose to transition from injury more easily.

“I think there’s a lot of pressure off his shoulders because we have a variety of weapons so he doesn’t have that pressure on himself to be able score and force things,” Gasol said.

Rose has been enamored with Gasol’s versatility since the two joined forces.

“He’s a guy where if you don’t double-team he’s going to get up a good shot because of how big he is, how skilled he is,” Rose said. “We’re just going to keep going to him and just try to make the game easy for everyone.”

In addition to Gasol, Chicago added Doug McDermott – one of college basketball’s most accomplished scorers of all-time.

The team also added Nikola Mirotic, one of Europe’s top players who has drawn comparisons to Ryan Anderson.

Aaron Brooks, a former starting point guard, was brought in to provide depth and alleviate the need to play Rose heavy minutes.

The four newcomers combined for 51 points and 25 rebounds against New York. Overall, Chicago had six players – including Rose – scoring in double figures.

Gasol“When things run smoothly like they did tonight, I think everyone’s got to look at our whole entire team and just how deep we are,” Rose said.

“We’ve got a lot of guys that can really shoot the ball,” Rose added. “We’ve got Pau where if doesn’t roll all the way to the basket, he’s going to half-roll and shoot his little mid-range jump shot. You’ve got Joakim (Noah) where, if he does roll with the ball to the basket, he’s creating for someone else and he’s 7-foot so you have to stick him whenever he goes to the basket.”

Gasol, Noah and Taj Gibson – who had 22 points (10-12 FG) in 28 minutes – form arguably the league’s best frontcourt due to each player’s versatile skill set.

Previously the focal point of the offense in isolation sets at the top of the key and pick-and-rolls plays designed for Rose to attack, the point guard can now focus on being a floor general.

“With the way our offense is set up in pick-and-roll I don’t really have to do anything,” Rose said. “I was scoring off transition and seeing openings in the game where I felt like I could change the game. I think we have a very scary team if you put all that together, but it’s only a matter of time where everybody will get used to everybody’s game and we’ll really be a really good team in a couple of weeks.”

Derrick RoseWhile it’s only one game into the season, coach Thibodeau believes Rose will continue to improve in due time.

“He’s got to shake that rust off,” Thibodeau said. “Offensively I thought he was attacking well. Defensively he’s got to keep working at it, but it’s not going to happen overnight. He’s got to keep pushing.”

Amazingly, after two separate knee surgeries and prestigious individual accolades early in his career as the focal point, Rose is arguably in a better position to succeed as a catalyst and deliver the championship Chicago has clamored for since his arrival as the No. 1 overall pick in 2008.

If Rose can be the maestro Chicago needs, the Bulls can indeed be the “scary” team he proclaimed them to be and contend for a title.

Michael Scotto is an NBA columnist for SheridanHoops.com. Follow him on Twitter

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SH Blog: Melo admits Knicks will never know the Triangle all the way, Blatt doesn’t like expectations set on Cleveland http://www.sheridanhoops.com/2014/10/30/sh-blog-melo-admits-knicks-will-never-know-the-triangle-all-the-way-blatt-doesnt-like-expectations-set-on-cleveland/ http://www.sheridanhoops.com/2014/10/30/sh-blog-melo-admits-knicks-will-never-know-the-triangle-all-the-way-blatt-doesnt-like-expectations-set-on-cleveland/#respond Thu, 30 Oct 2014 12:22:01 +0000 http://www.sheridanhoops.com/?p=83267

ParkCarmelo_AnthonyOver the summer, Carmelo Anthony had the chance to put himself in position to be a part of one of the top contending teams in the league. He was a free agent, and the Chicago Bulls believed the small forward was the perfect offensive force to complete their team compromised of mostly defensively-dominant players.

Of course, Anthony decided to be loyal (the extra $20-plus million probably helped) and remained with the rebuilding New York Knicks. Unfortunately, he got to see on Wednesday just what he could have been a part of after getting demolished by the Bulls 104-80. While Chicago was having its way for much of the game, the Knicks looked lost trying to figure out how to correctly run the Triangle offense. Anthony managed to score just 14 points on five-of-13 shooting. To be fair, New York played without starting point guard Jose Calderon, but the Bulls were also without Jimmy Butler.

It appears the Knicks have a long way to go before they can resemble anything close to a team capable of making it to the playoffs. Still, Anthony has no interest in sitting at home come playoff time from Al Iannazzone of Newsday:

Yet in the improved Eastern Conference, the Knicks are roundly viewed as a borderline playoff team and a franchise in flux. They’re looking for the big score in the free-agent market in the next two summers en route to becoming an elite team. But talk of this being a placeholder season rankles Anthony. “I don’t like to hear that because now is the time we can set that foundation,” he said. “There are goals that I set from that standpoint as far as having the chance to win our division again, getting home court in the playoffs. It’s going to take some work, but those are goals I set for us.”

The Knicks’ chances of missing out on the playoffs for the second straight year are better.

 “I wouldn’t know how to deal with that,” Anthony said.
[...]
Anthony said, “We’re never going to know the system all the way. We’re never going to have it all the way down pat.”

Anthony’s desire to make the playoffs is understandable. Who doesn’t want to make the playoffs? The problem is the last thing he said: the Knicks currently don’t have a whole lot of players that understand or can even truly be effective (at least for much of this season) in the new system under rookie coach Derek Fisher. Iman Shumpert can cut, but can he finish? Sam Dalembert can apparently make some passes from the high post but is that something you want to rely on? Can your offense continue to be smooth when your backup point guard is probably a third stringer on most other teams? Hell, J.R. Smith is so confused that he doesn’t even know whether he should shoot, even when he’s open! But hey, when Andrea Bargnani returns from his injury… never mind.

Jokes aside, they do have a very intelligent and efficient point guard in Calderon. If he can calm things down a bit on the offensive end and make sure Anthony isn’t trying so hard to fit in that he forgets what kind of a scorer he is – as he did against the Bulls in the opener – and help facilitate for the still-dangerous Amare Stoudemire, there is enough potency in the starting lineup to make some noise down the line. For what it’s worth, Anthony understands that the whole thing is going to be a season-long process.

 

OTHER NEWS AND ITEMS FROM AROUND THE LEAGUE: 

  • DanGilbertPresser100515-300x189Dan Gilbert offered some perspective on why one bad fight doesn’t necessarily end relationships, from Dave McMenamin of ESPN: “Gilbert described their relationship as “very good, very solid.” It’s so light between the two these days that they even joke with each other. “I just saw LeBron,” Gilbert said during a news conference Wednesday, addressing the media for the first time since February. “He looked at me and said, ‘Looks like you grew an inch.’ I said I could use it.” Gilbert was asked if he “deserved” to have James back on his team after the way he reacted to James leaving in the first place. “I don’t know if ‘deserve’ is a word that I sort of look at in this context,” Gilbert said. “No, unless you’re really doing some significant harm to another human being, I don’t think the bridge is ever burned. We had a night there where emotions were flying high on all sides. “Except for the fact that it’s in the media … things like that happen a lot in business where people have phone calls and heated exchanges, and people are writing each other emails and letters, and then the next day they’re eating lunch and doing business. It’s not a be‐all or end‐all type of thing.”
  • David Blatt doesn’t like the expectations that have been put on the Cavaliers, from McMenamin of ESPN: “Anybody talking about us winning it all, I think they’re being unfair to those great NBA teams that are out there that have either won it or have been there to win it, and also to us as a team that’s talented but new,” Blatt said Tuesday, two days before the Cavs’ season opener Thursday at home against the New York Knicks. “We have a lot of work to do before we can start claiming anything before it’s time.” Um. Welcome to the NBA, David.
  • Kanter-JazzDancersThe Utah Jazz may be looking to let Enes Kanter walk after this season, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports: “After ending discussions on the possibility of a contract extension with the Utah Jazz, center Enes Kanter plans to enter restricted free agency next summer, his agent told Yahoo Sports on Wednesday. “We have mutually agreed with Utah to concentrate on the season and look at our options again in the summer,” agent Max Ergul said in a telephone interview. “Enes likes Utah and the organization very much, and now he can concentrate on continuing to grow as a player and helping them win.” 
  • 170px-Michael_JordanMichael Jordan explains why he likes and even admires Lance Stephenson, from The A.P.: “One of the reasons why I admire his game is he takes on challenges,” Jordan said Tuesday. “For us to get any place in the East, we need someone to challenge LeBron. He challenged LeBron.”  Jordan said he doesn’t advocate all of Stephenson’s antics, but he couldn’t overlook his competitiveness… Jordan likens Stephenson to former Chicago Bulls teammate Dennis Rodman, a free spirit who insisted on doing things his own way while in the NBA. Jordan said he’s not going to try to change Stephenson’s personality and will give him his freedom — to a degree. “If I feel like he’s going the wrong way, that is when I will step in, like most parents do, and say, ‘Look you need to focus on this and think about that,’” Jordan said.”
  • Lance StephensonJordan’s presence appears to be having an impact on Stephenson already: “I have to cut down on the antics,” Stephenson said. “I have to do whatever it takes to stay on the floor. If I get too much into the antics and get teched out, I can cost the team.”… Stephenson doesn’t remember much of the conversation, saying he was starstruck meeting his childhood hero. Stephenson said he has collected every pair of Jordan-brand sneakers that have hit the shelves since coming into the league. “I was in a daze,” said Stephenson, entering his fifth NBA season. “I’m like, ‘I’m talking to Michael Jordan right now.’ And I’m just shaking and sweating.” Still, Stephenson walked away feeling like Jordan believed in him and saw his potential.”
  • Dirk-Nowitzki-Dallas-Mavericks-NBA-9-485x728Rick Carlisle and Dirk Nowitzki were critical of their team’s defense in the season opener against San Antonio, from Tim MacMahon of ESPN Dallas: “We just have to be better,” Carlisle said. “It’s as simple as that. Once again, they got us a lot late in the shot clock. We just have to keep working.”… “We’ve got a long way to go,” Nowitzki said. “Obviously we’re not going to be perfect in game one of 82. We’ve got to get more used to each other. I think we made some mistakes in pick-and-roll coverages. We’ve just got to get better and used to each other, with all of these new guys. There’s certain calls on defense with pick-and-rolls where everyone has to react in a split second. If those calls are still kind of new to you, you push the wrong way, and they make you pay. We can get better at it.”
  • Klay Thompson’s camp and the Golden State Warriors front office have been trying to negotiate a deal for the rising star, but the specific dollar amounts have not been easily agreed upon during discussions. According to John Middlekauff of 957 The Game, they look to come to terms on a new deal by Friday: “Source: Progress has been made between Klay Thompson & the #Warriors. I’m told a deal is getting done by Fridays deadline.”
  • Curry ThompsonI’ve already made my predictions on the Warriors winning it all this year and explained some of the reasons behind that logic here. Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports also made the bold claim, and now we have Ethan Sherwood Strauss of ESPN chiming in on why Golden State is in for a huge season: “Will they win it all, though? Of course, taking the field is the smartest play in a brutal Western Conference. Among the teams available, though, the Warriors are a good bet. Their main flaw (injury risk) is held up as an excluding factor because Golden State hasn’t yet finished as an upper playoff seed. Many of the consensus picks to win it all have substantial flaws, though. The Clippers have an utter lack of wing defense and aren’t exactly devoid of injury risk. The Thunder already have an injured superstar, an Etch A Sketch offensive system, and a roster thinness that’s beginning to mirror the pinched pennies that pay for it. The Bulls also have injuries. The Cavaliers have no rim protection.”
  • With Kevin Durant out for the next several weeks, expect a lot of nights like this from Russell Westbrook. Unfortunately, you can also expect plenty of bad end results, like the 106-89 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers.
  • Check out this interview between Howard Beck of Bleacher Report and commissioner Adam Silver for a wide-range of topics discussed. Some things of note: Silver says shortened games is not necessarily what the fans might want, the widespread growth of legalized sports gambling is inevitable, thinks a female head coach will exist sometime in the future, and expansion is not something he plans on pursuing.
  • dwight howardDid Dwight Howard have ill feelings towards Kobe Bryant even before they got into it in the season opener? The pettiness described in this piece by Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report suggests that that is very much the case: “Before this tipoff, Howard was one of the first players on the court. He slapped hands with former Rockets teammate Jeremy Lin, then retreated under the basket and stayed there while Bryant came out for the usual handshakes with opposing players. Bryant spent extra time with Rockets James Harden and Trevor Ariza, but Howard didn’t come forward. So Bryant and Howard did not have the customary fist bump or any acknowledgement. If Howard is ready to let it all go, as he urged reporters to do earlier Tuesday (“It’s over with now,” he said), he could’ve been waiting there for Bryant to go through the motions of what can be just a formality instead of avoiding it.”
  • Deron Williams AdDeron Williams says he feels no pressure and has renewed confidence after getting his troubled ankles fixed over the summer, from Mike Mazzeo of ESPN NY: “Everybody’s pretty much written me off,” Williams told the team’s official website. “People say I’m never gonna be like I once was. I’m on the downhill. And so what pressure do I have?”… Williams finally feels healthy for the first time in three seasons after undergoing offseason surgery to clean out both of his oft-injured ankles. “I’m a lot more confident,” Williams said. “I just didn’t have a lot of confidence in my ankles (the last two seasons). They wouldn’t allow me to do the things I was capable of doing.”… “I’m just playing, man,” Williams said Tuesday. “I can actually play. I can actually run, cut, jump, so it’s different.”
  • Charles-Barkley1Charles Barkley thinks Kobe Bryant will average 20 points this season and says the star guard needs to accept the fact that he’s getting old, from Richard Deitsch of SI: “20 points per game. Because he is going to shoot the ball, but the Lakers aren’t going to make the playoffs. They are not one of the elite teams in the West. Hopefully he can stay healthy for 82 games. He should try to play 25-30 minutes per night. Kobe’s problem is Kobe doesn’t want to accept he’s getting old.  There’s nothing you can do about that. You can’t outwork age. Kobe’s got two years left on his deal. I don’t want to see what happened to Steve Nash. They will keep rolling you out there. Sports are like boxing, they’ll keep putting you out there even when you can’t fight anymore.”
  • Barkley’s right about the Lakers simply because of their lack of depth, poor defense and Byron Scott’s strange dislike for the 3-point shot. Based on what Bryant has shown in the first two games, though, it’s probably safe to say the guard is going to average plenty more than 20 points this season.

James Park is a blogger and editor of Sheridan Hoops. Follow him on twitter @SheridanBlog.

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10 Fast Facts from Last Night’s Games — Bosh Goes Off, Kemba Beats the Buzzer, Kobe’s 31 Spoiled http://www.sheridanhoops.com/2014/10/30/10-fast-facts-from-last-nights-games-bosh-goes-off-kemba-beats-the-buzzer-kobes-31-spoiled/ http://www.sheridanhoops.com/2014/10/30/10-fast-facts-from-last-nights-games-bosh-goes-off-kemba-beats-the-buzzer-kobes-31-spoiled/#respond Thu, 30 Oct 2014 06:19:05 +0000 http://www.sheridanhoops.com/?p=83280

ogdenDay 2 of the 2014-15 NBA regular season is officially in the books. Wednesday, October 29 was a day that played host to some throwback performances by major stars, the return of others and the first overtime period of the season.

There was a buzzer-beater, a number of massive statistical performances and the debut of big-name rookies. When it was all said and done, Day 2 set the stage for a magnificent 2014-15 campaign.

These are the 10 facts that you need to know about last night’s action.

1. In the first game of the post-LeBron James era, Chris Bosh put up 26 points and 15 rebounds to lead the Miami Heat to a 107-95 victory over the Washington Wizards. Norris Cole added a career-high 23 points and Dwyane Wade had 21, including 11 points in the final 4:13 of the fourth quarter.

This was Bosh’s first game with at least 25 points and 15 rebounds since February 2, 2010. It was the 19th such game of his career.

Zero of those were tallied during the Big Three era.

2. Taj Gibson scored 22 points and Pau Gasol added 21 and 11 rebounds to lead the Chicago Bulls to a 104-80 road drubbing of the New York Knicks. Doug McDermott had 12 points and five rebounds in his NBA debut, while Carmelo Anthony led the Knicks with 14 points on 5-of-13 shooting.

Derrick Rose tallied 13 points, five assists, three rebounds and two steals in 21 minutes in his first game back in the NBA.

3. Russell Westbrook scored 38 points, but it was the Portland Trail Blazers that prevailed 106-89 over the Oklahoma City Thunder. LaMarcus Aldridge put up 27 points on 10-of-19 shooting and Wesley Matthews poured in 22 as the Trail Blazers earned a victory over their division rivals.

The 38 points were the most Westbrook has scored in a regular season game since March 1, 2013.

4. Kemba Walker scored 26 points, Marvin Williams tallied 19 and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist put up 17 as the Charlotte Hornets erased a 24-point deficit to defeat the Milwaukee Bucks 108-106 in the first overtime game of the season. Brandon Knight had 22 points, 13 assists, eight rebounds and one block, but it wasn’t enough to prevent Charlotte from winning.

The 25-point comeback is the largest in franchise history.

5. Despite shooting 6-of-27 from beyond the arc as a team, the Golden State Warriors defeated the Sacramento Kings 95-77. Stephen Curry posted 24 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and six steals, while Splash Brothers counterpart Klay Thompson had 19 points and six assists.

Curry and Thompson combined to shoot 11-of-31 from the field and 4-of-17 from beyond the arc, but Golden State still held on for the win.

6. Rajon Rondo stuffed the stat sheet with 13 points, 12 assists, seven rebounds, one block and one steal as the Boston Celtics blew out the Brooklyn Nets 121-105. Kelly Olynyk put up 19 points and Jeff Green had 17 for Boston, while Mirza Teletovic scored 20 and both Joe Johnson and Deron Williams tacked on 19 for Brooklyn.

Eight separate Celtics scored in double-figures as the team set its highest season-opening points total, 121, since 1990.

7. Isaiah Thomas made his Phoenix Suns debut with 23 points on 9-of-11 shooting and Marcus Morris scored 21 to lead the team to a 119-99 destruction of the rival Los Angeles Lakers. Morris and Thomas combined to shoot 10-of-16 from 3-point range to counter 31 points from Kobe Bryant.

Bryant’s 31 were the most he’s scored in a single game since April 12, 2013.

8. Kenneth Faried took over with 22 points, 17 rebounds and four assists on 8-of-12 shooting from the field to lead the Denver Nuggets to an 89-79 victory over the Detroit Pistons. Josh Smith scored a game-high 25 points for Detroit, but Denver used a high-powered fourth quarter attack to secure the win.

Dating back to 2013-14, this is the third time in five games that Faried’s tallied at least 17 rebounds in a game.

9. Seven players scored in double-figures to lead the Toronto Raptors to a 109-102 victory over the Atlanta Hawks. Atlanta shot 50.0 percent from the field and went 13-of-22 from beyond the arc, while Toronto converted 41.1 percent of its field goals and 30.8 percent of its attempts from distance.

So how did Toronto turn out this victory? Atlanta went 9-of-17 from the charity stripe and committed 17 turnovers. Toronto was 27-of-33 and coughed it up just nine times.

10. Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph were flat-out dominant as the Memphis Grizzlies took down the upstart Minnesota Timberwolves 105-101. Gasol went off for 32 points, nine rebounds, three assists, two blocks and a pair of steals, while Randolph put up 25 points, 13 rebounds, one assist, a block and one steal.

The 32 points set a new career-high for the younger Gasol brother.

Around The League

  • Roy Hibbert scored 22 points to lead the Indiana Pacers to a 103-91 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers. Tony Wroten put up 22 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and three steals, while Nerlens Noel put up six points, 10 rebounds and three blocks on 2-of-11 shooting in his NBA debut.
  • Dwight Howard put up 22 points, 10 rebounds, two blocks and one steal to help the Houston Rockets defeat the Utah Jazz 104-93. Derrick Favors posted 16 points, seven rebounds, two assists, four blocks and three steals on 7-of-10 shooting, but Utah shot just 3-of-18 from beyond the arc.
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Pau Gasol could be Bulls’ missing link to a title contender http://www.sheridanhoops.com/2014/10/30/pau-gasol-could-be-bulls-missing-link-to-a-title-contender/ http://www.sheridanhoops.com/2014/10/30/pau-gasol-could-be-bulls-missing-link-to-a-title-contender/#respond Thu, 30 Oct 2014 04:29:09 +0000 http://www.sheridanhoops.com/?p=83277

GasolPau Gasol has everything the Chicago Bulls were missing in the past. Clearly Chicago needs a healthy Derrick Rose to compete for a championship, but Gasol looked every bit of the team’s missing part in Wednesday night’s 104-80 win over the Knicks at Madison Square Garden.

Gasol scored 21 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in 29 minutes in the win and added a lot to the team that they lacked last year, according to Bulls players and head coach Tom Thibodeau.

“He’s just an all-around player,” Thibodeau told SheridanHoops. “He gives you the shot-blocking, the rebounding, defensively; [he has] the length that allows us to play real big.”

That size and length goes well with reigning Defensive Player of the Year Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson and European import Nikola Mirotic, making one of the best big man rotations in the league.

“Offensively,” Thibodeau continued, “his passing, his ability to play in the post, play at the elbow, play in the pick-and-roll. Passing is probably the biggest thing because of what it does for everyone else.”

Six Bulls players finished in double figures on Wednesday, including 22 from Gibson, 13 each from Rose and Aaron Brooks and 12 for rookie Doug McDermott, who noted Gasol’s unselfish play as one of his best qualities.

Before the season, Gasol had to make a decision that went very much against his unselfish nature.

 

Gasol had never left a team in free agency yet decided to leave the Lakers for Chicago. “It was probably the most difficult decision that I’ve made in my career and my life, probably,” Gasol said.

But Gasol saw the pieces in place and felt that there was a fit that even potential suitors like San Antonio and Oklahoma City could not match.

“I just thought that I could be a great fit for them as far as my experience, what I bring to the table, the type of game that I have, I really thought that I could add to what they had going on here,” Gasol said.

Pau-Gasol4

Gibson said that Gasol’s ability to push his teammates and lead a team is something that Chicago just did not have in the past.

“He can really lead a team,” Gibson told SheridanHoops. “He’s one of the veterans who’s really been there, won championships and we’re hungry. And we really learn from him a lot.”

Even as the Bulls were absolutely obliterating an over-matched Knicks squad, Gibson said that Gasol was still pushing and imploring his teammates to do more.

“Every play down he was always saying something, ‘let’s keep going, let’s keep pushing it, don’t let up,’” Gibson said. “Even after we made a good play, some plays tend to lack off but he was just on us like ‘don’t worry about that, good play, move on to the next one, ahh, keep finishing.’ And every time down he was just very vocal. And that’s what we need.”

Gasol is a winner, without question. And as he builds more of a rapport on the floor with his teammates, Chicago could finally have that elite-level team for the first time since the Jordan Era.

(More: Predictions for 2014-15 from SheridanHoops.com Staff)

Tom Thibadeau“The one thing about Pau is there’s not much that he hasn’t done,” Thibodeau said. “And I think for him, he’s getting to know his teammates now and they’re getting to know him. And I think it will get better and better as we go along.”

Gibson already sees a difference in the team with Gasol’s veteran leadership now in the fold.

“We had a lot of different guys that were stepping up, but we didn’t have any older veteran leadership that has been there and won a championship,” Gibson said.

Gasol said that the team’s variety of scoring options takes a good amount of pressure off of Rose, which is something the team missed over the years when Rose was actually healthy enough to take the floor.

And with Rose in his comfort zone, Noah and Gibson maintaining their abilities to have a double-double every time they step on the court and perhaps the league’s deepest bench, Gasol could very well be that player that takes Chicago deep into the playoffs and beyond.

“They haven’t really achieved greatness yet and I thought it would be a great opportunity for me to try to contribute and hopefully take them to that next level,” Gasol said.

And as Gasol looks for that last elusive championship, he seems to believe that he made the right choice by joining this young and talented Chicago core.

“I’m coming down to the last few years of my career and it was difficult to leave L.A. in the first place,” Gasol said. “But now I feel like I’m in a great position and we have a great opportunity here and now let’s see if we’re lucky and we deserve to do something special.”

Shlomo Sprung is a national columnist for SheridanHoops who loves advanced statistics and the way they explain what happens on the court. He is also the web editor of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. A 2011 graduate of Columbia University’s Journalism School, he has previously worked for the New York Knicks, The Sporting News, Business Insider and other publications. You should follow him on Twitter.

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Photo of the Day: NBA Players Gear Up for Start of the Season http://www.sheridanhoops.com/2014/10/29/photo-of-the-day-nba-players-gear-up-for-start-of-the-season/ http://www.sheridanhoops.com/2014/10/29/photo-of-the-day-nba-players-gear-up-for-start-of-the-season/#respond Thu, 30 Oct 2014 02:20:38 +0000 http://www.sheridanhoops.com/?p=83275

The NBA season got started in a big way last night. Anthony Davis absolutely dominated the Orlando Magic, putting up 26 points, 17 rebounds, two assists, nine blocks and three steals, in which the New Orleans Pelicans defeated the Magic 101-84.

The San Antonio Spurs hung their fifth title banner since 1999 and flashed their championship rings as they took on Dallas at home. The Spurs, playing without Tiago Splitter and Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard, outlasted the visiting Mavericks by a score of 101-100 in what turned out to be there 17th victory out of their last 18 season-openers.

In the late game at Staples Center, the Houston Rockets handled the Lakers quite easily, winning 108-90. Perhaps the most entertaining part of that game was the scrum between former teammates Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard.

Making the blowout loss even worse, the Lakers lost their prized rookie Julius Randle for what is being said as the entire season. Randle broke his tibia midway through the fourth quarter in the first NBA game in his career. You can check out some fun facts from last night’s games here.

To get fans ready for their season debuts, players around the league posted pictures to their Instagram accounts asking if the fans were ready for the season to start and showing their excitement for the upcoming campaign.

Drummond First Game

Andre Drummond posted this photo to his Instagram Wednesday, saying he was blessed for the opportunity with the Detroit Pistons and to begin his third year in the league. His opponent Wednesday night, the Denver Nuggets, had their own cheerleader.

Faried First Game

Kenneth Faried would like Nuggets fans to #UNLEASHTHEMANIMAL. The Team USA teammates in the 2014 FIBA World Cup square off against one another as the Pistons visit the Nuggets in their season openers.

Another rising star entering his third season is Damian Lillard with the Portland Trail Blazers. Lillard, debuting his first signature shoe, shared this photo to get fans ready to rock the Moda Center tonight.

Lillard First Game

“#RipCity… Let’s do it!”, Lillard captioned for the photo. Portland faces the Oklahoma City Thunder in a huge Northwest Divisional matchup to start the year for each team.

The NBA is here to stay for the better part of the next eight months, and this is just the beginning. There are plenty of amazing story lines that will be followed throughout the course of the year. Here’s to basketball being back.

PHOTO OF THE DAY: Spurs Reveal Championship Rings

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Fantasy Spin: Win $100,000 Cash Tonight http://www.sheridanhoops.com/2014/10/29/fantasy-spin-win-100000-cash-tonight/ http://www.sheridanhoops.com/2014/10/29/fantasy-spin-win-100000-cash-tonight/#respond Wed, 29 Oct 2014 16:44:12 +0000 http://www.sheridanhoops.com/?p=83255

KentThe NBA $400K CROSSOVER at DraftKings has a first prize of $100,000, more than enough to warrant the $27 entry fee. Last night “pianoclub” scored 321.25 points to win the $100K guaranteed pool, taking home $10,000, while 1,999 other entries (out of 8125) shared $90,000 in consolation prizes.

The winner entered multiple teams at $12 each; a lineup with Anthony Davis and Omer Asik paid off. Congrats to everyone who cashed last night; my hopes were dashed when Dwight Howard got in foul trouble. Nobody said this would be easy. The beauty of daily fantasy is, there’s a clean slate of NBA games with great picks at every position and salary range.

Even if the 27 bucks is too steep, check out DK for free. You will be taken to a $2 entry for the NBA $50K Layup, and can pick your team, which will be free if you sign up. There are many more contests of various sizes and cost, including head-to-head leagues (vs. one opponent) and 50/50 games, where half the field wins. Even the free contests, which feature the same rules, are fun and challenging.

As I pointed out a couple of times on Twitter, last night’s $100K was an overlay. The field was “only” 8125 — out of a possible 9500. (DraftKings makes a 14% profit when it fills; they actually lost 2.5%.) From the player’s perspective, instead of 21% of teams cashing, 24.6% finished in the money. It looks like the same thing may happen tonight on a larger scale.

NBA $400K CROSSOVER

$400K CrossoverA total of 3,475 teams (out of a possible 16,800) will win a cash prize. At noon, with seven hours to go, there were less than 4000 entries. With the entire $400,000 guaranteed, the odds are in our favor.

How to win the hundred grand? Spend more to make more. Multiple entries are permitted, with no limit, so a little guy like me is at a disadvantage.

Pay attention to breaking NBA news, and try to capitalize. Avoid mistakes. For example, do not use Brook Lopez $6800; consider Mason Plumlee $5400. David Lee $7000 is iffy with a hamstring and Draymond Green $5100 gains most.

Consider scheduling and travel. The Lakers and Rockets are playing back-to-backs on the road.

Stacking (covered in yesterday’s Spin) can be great if you key on the right team. A quick look at over/under lines points out the most likely high-scoring games, like Detroit at Denver.

The Pacers are missing three important players: George Hill, David West, and Hill’s backup C.J. Watson. Rodney Stuckey $5500, who was doubtful, may play limited minutes. However, CJ Miles $3800 is capable of big scoring nights. Roy Hibbert $6900 was a disappointment to his Roto owners last year but could make amends tonight. Donald Sloan $3000 will start at PG, Luis Scola $4500 takes over PF and Chris Copeland $3300 is a wild card in this less-than-stellar game that could produce bargains.

Assuming the Suns romp at home, Markieff Morris $6500 and Marcus Morris $3600 are both worth a look and Isaiah Thomas $5800, the least expensive of three quality PG, might finish this one.

Russell WestbrookIt all comes down to getting the most production from your eight players. Here are a few more suggestions among thousands of possible combinations.

PG: Russell Westbrook $10400 and Stephen Curry $10100 will get their numbers. Sloan is worth plugging in at G if you need a rock-bottom salary to contribute.

SG: Klay Thompson $7100 and Gordon Hayward $7400 are the safe plays, Gerald Green $4600 benefits in a rout.

SF Carmelo Anthony $9400 is too rich for me in a new offensive scheme vs. the Bulls’ D. Nicolas Batum $7300 and/or Miles are my guys. Perry Jones $3000 are both expected to start and the price is right.

PF Scola might be the best value (points/dollar) but I lean to Zach Randolph $7300 against the rebuilding T-Wolves. With both Nene and DeJuan Blair suspended, Kevin Seraphin $3000 is a live longshot.

C DeMarcus Cousins $10000 and Al Jefferson $9100 deserve those prices. Pick one, or both if you aren’t spending big at PG.

Good luck with all your teams tonight; see you at DraftKings.

The Fantasy Spin offers DFS advice every day. Follow Kent Williams @SheridanFantasy.

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Kamenetzky: Kobe Learning to Let Go of Lacking Lakers http://www.sheridanhoops.com/2014/10/29/kamenetzky-kobe-learning-to-let-go-of-lacking-lakers/ http://www.sheridanhoops.com/2014/10/29/kamenetzky-kobe-learning-to-let-go-of-lacking-lakers/#comments Wed, 29 Oct 2014 13:20:06 +0000 http://www.sheridanhoops.com/?p=83228

BKamenetzkyLOS ANGELES — “You can only control what you can control. That’s really tough to process, it’s tough to letkobe that go. But it’s the truth, man.”

That was Kobe Bryant at the podium Tuesday night after his Los Angeles Lakers dropped their season opener to the Houston Rockets, a 108-90 home loss that wasn’t as competitive as even the lopsided score might indicate.

Small picture, he was speaking specifically about the spirit-crushing injury – a broken right tibia – suffered by first-round pick Julius Randle in the fourth quarter. Big picture, Bryant’s words serve as a guide to the rest of this season, and probably his career.

Technically speaking, Bryant had already returned last December from the Achilles tendon injury suffered at the end of the 2012-13 campaign. Except that he was covered thick with rust and not yet fully healthy. Bryant lasted six games before a knee injury shut him down for good.

Meaning his return – his real return – came Tuesday.

Some things, starting with the ovation from the Lakers faithful, were exactly the same. He’s still the best player in purple and gold, with a seemingly endless supply of jab steps and pump fakes aided by impeccable footwork. He’s still the guy who can absorb an elbow to the face from Dwight Howard without flinching, just as he once absorbed this with nary a blink.

Everything else, though, appears totally different.

Never has Bryant been surrounded by less talent than he has this season, a thin group now thinner with Randle sidelined. Never has there been less hope of a playoff run for a Bryant-led team. True, Kobe has been asked to hoist teams on his back kobe1before, most prominently in the 2004-05 and 2005-06 seasons. But that guy, coached by Phil Jackson, averaged almost 40 minutes and well over 30 points a night in a Western Conference with less depth – and still barely qualified for the postseason.

Bryant has never tried it at 36 years old, coming off two major injuries, with about 20 years of regular season and playoff minutes on the odometer.

No guard ever has.

“I’m coming off an Achilles injury, and I’m old as shit,” Bryant said. “So it’s like, you’ve got two things working against you. But as I sit here today, I can honestly tell you I feel completely fine.”

Fine enough to carry a weak team to the top eight, like you did almost a decade ago?

“If you’re asking me if I’m capable,” he said, “I absolutely am.”

But while the self-confidence remains unshakable, Bryant understands and has seemingly made peace with an inability to fully bend reality to his will. Not everything can be controlled.

“You’ve kind of got to give yourself up to that,” he said. “You learn that you have to do it. Sometimes life circumstances put you in a position where you have no choice but to handle it that way.”

This season will almost undoubtedly put Bryant in such a position. At this stage of his career, he is still capable of getting his shots, but the ratio of high and low percentage attempts is swinging well away from the ideal. The technical artistry makes every make look fantastic, but Kobe might set an NBA record for contested 16-to-21 footers this season.

The Rockets felt little need to double Kobe, happy to allow him to beat them with tough jumpers (he finished with 19 points on 6-of-17 from the floor) rather than leave a less-skilled teammate open for an easy look. Nor, save perhaps Jeremy Lin, do the Lakers have anyone capable of regularly creating low-effort points for Bryant.

Only in semi-transition was Bryant able to create easy offense, whether for himself or with the pass. As a group, the Lakers Kobe Bryantshot only 35.4 percent on Tuesday.

Bryant provided plenty of legitimate if mundane explanations for the lopsided loss. Nick Young is out with a thumb injury, and the Lakers badly need his offense. Defensively, the Lakers let Houston shoot a robust 41.4 percent from the arc and sent them to the line 50 times, a worst-of-both-worlds combo best not repeated.

“You’re trading three for two, and you’re also giving them freebies at the line. We have to be able to defend without fouling, or run them off the 3-point line,” he said. “It’ll be one or the other.”

Likely, though, even the best blueprint for team success won’t matter much, because the raw material, whether talking about Bryant today vs. Bryant circa 2005 or the guys surrounding him this season, just isn’t good enough. The expectation from many is that Kobe, while perhaps patient early, will eventually get frustrated. There will be prodding of the front office, whether subtle or more overt. His career clock, after all, is getting near midnight, and patience has never been a virtue.

RELATED: Brian Kamenetzky’s Lakers season preview

Unless, of course, Bryant truly has learned to give in to circumstances. There’s no avenue to quick improvement for this season’s team. Next season, who knows if someone will want their money? Kobe can’t force the Lakers to make moves now any more than he could force them to hire Phil Jackson in 2012. He can demand his teammates work hard, and they likely will. But he can’t turn Wes Johnson into Scottie Pippen.

And despite the aforementioned belief in his ability to lead a team to the postseason, even Kobe acknowledged – if only in vague terms – he can’t approach the challenge like he did in his late 20s. Bryant’s own skill set is a variable he can’t manipulate in the same way.

“It’ll be different,” he said.

Bryant has spent a career exerting his will over everything in his domain with great success. Now we will see if he can truly let go, only demanding control of what really can be controlled. And more importantly, learn if he can live with the results.

Brian Kamenetzky is a regular contributor to SheridanHoops.com. Follow him and his brother, Andy, on Twitter.

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Tweet of the Night: NBA players enjoy confrontation between Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard, then react to Julius Randle’s terrible injury http://www.sheridanhoops.com/2014/10/29/tweet-of-the-night-nba-players-enjoy-confrontation-between-kobe-bryant-and-dwight-howard-then-react-to-julius-randles-terrible-injury/ http://www.sheridanhoops.com/2014/10/29/tweet-of-the-night-nba-players-enjoy-confrontation-between-kobe-bryant-and-dwight-howard-then-react-to-julius-randles-terrible-injury/#comments Wed, 29 Oct 2014 05:46:54 +0000 http://www.sheridanhoops.com/?p=83214

ParkKobe Bryant and Dwight HowardThis is now year two since Dwight Howard bolted the Los Angeles Lakers to join James Harden and the Houston Rockets. The center and Kobe Bryant never really showed much tension towards each other since the fallout, but that changed in a big way on Wednesday in the season opener on TNT.

With the Lakers down by more than 20 points and the game pretty much out of hand in the fourth quarter, Bryant tried to steal the ball from Howard who had just grabbed a defensive rebound. Howard started swinging his elbows recklessly before connecting on Bryant’s chin. From there, the two started jawing at each other and perhaps let out some of the frustration they felt towards each other while they were teammates:

We’ll let the lip readers take over from here:

 

 

It would have been all fun and games if things ended there. Unfortunately, things got really ugly when rookie Julius Randle suffered a fractured tibia – as reported by Rachel Nichols of TNT - while attempting to get a shot off as he jumped in the air.

One opening-night loss can be swallowed, but the loss of Randle is a devastating blow for the already-thin Lakers bench. Aside from the basketball aspect, it’s sad to see such a young player suffer a devastating injury as he did. Hopefully the power forward will go through a speedy recovery period and come back as good as new.

The players that were having fun with the Bryant-Howard drama saw the unfortunate injury to Randle and reacted as seen below:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tweet of the Day: Excitement for the 2014-15 NBA Season Abounds

Tweet of the Night: Draymond Green calls out lying Lakers fan, hilarity ensues

James Park is a blogger and editor of Sheridan Hoops. Follow him on twitter @SheridanBlog.

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10 Fast Facts From Last Night’s Games — Davis Goes Off, Spurs Raise Banner, Kobe Battles Howard http://www.sheridanhoops.com/2014/10/29/10-fast-facts-from-last-nights-games-davis-goes-off-spurs-raise-banner-kobe-battles-howard/ http://www.sheridanhoops.com/2014/10/29/10-fast-facts-from-last-nights-games-davis-goes-off-spurs-raise-banner-kobe-battles-howard/#respond Wed, 29 Oct 2014 05:46:27 +0000 http://www.sheridanhoops.com/?p=83212

ogdenTuesday, October 28 marked the commencement of the 2014-15 NBA regular season. Six teams took part in three games, and the results did not disappoint.

One of the association’s fastest rising stars joined the ranks of legends just one game into the new campaign. He wasn’t alone in what was an extraordinary day of basketball for some of the game’s biggest and most under-appreciated players.

Whether you saw it all or missed it, these are the 10 facts that you need to know about last night’s action.

1. Anthony Davis, Omer Asik and Ryan Anderson combined for 62 points, 43 rebounds, 23 offensive rebounds, 14 blocks and three steals as the New Orleans Pelicans defeated the Orlando Magic 101-84. Anderson tallied 22 points and nine rebounds in 22 minutes, while Asik put up 14 points, 17 rebounds and five blocks in 34 minutes of action.

As for Davis, all he did was drop 26 points, 17 rebounds, two assists, nine blocks and three steals.

2. Asik and Davis are the first teammates to record at least 15 rebounds and five blocks in the same game since Tim Duncan & David Robinson on March 10, 1998.

3. The last player to put up at least 25 points, 17 rebounds, nine blocks and three steals was Hakeem Olajuwon on March 3, 1990. Olajuwon achieved the feat five times.

Davis and Olajuwon are the only players in NBA history to put tally those numbers, per Basketball-Reference.com.

4. Davis is the first player in NBA history to record at least 25 points, 15 rebounds and nine blocks on opening night. Blocks were first recorded in 1973-74.

5. New Orleans pulled down 26 offensive rebounds. Only two teams reached that mark in all of 2013-14.

6. Not to be outdone by his opponents, Magic center Nikola Vucevic went off for 15 points, 23 rebounds, four blocks and a steal. There were only three instances of a player securing at least 15 points, 20 rebounds and four blocks in all of 2013-14.

DeAndre Jordan did it twice and Serge Ibaka achieved it once.

7. The San Antonio Spurs raised their fifth championship banner and followed it up by defeating the Dallas Mavericks 101-100. Tony Parker led the way with 23 points, Manu Ginobili scored 20 and Tim Duncan tallied 14 points and 13 rebounds, while Monta Ellis led Dallas with 26 points.

Duncan has 14 double-doubles in a season-opening game—the most in NBA history.

8. San Antonio has won 17 of its past 18 season-opening games.

9. James Harden put up 32 points to lead the Houston Rockets to a 108-90 blowout of the Los Angeles Lakers. Terrence Jones added 16 points, 13 rebounds, three assists, two blocks and a pair of steals, while Dwight Howard had 13 points and 11 rebounds.

Tragically, the lasting memory of this game was rookie Julius Randle suffering an fractured tibia. Here’s hoping for a quick and full recovery.

10. Kobe Bryant returned to the NBA with 19 points, three rebounds, two assists and a steal in 29 minutes of action. He started well, but ultimately shot 6-of-17 from the floor and 7-of-8 from the free throw line.

With Bryant’s season debut, he tied John Stockton for the most consecutive seasons with the same team at 19.

Bonus Fact: Bryant and Howard nearly came to blows. Bryant’s reaction is in the above Tweet.

Bonus Fact: Gregg Popovich’s win percentage of .944 in season-opening games is the best of any head coach with at least 10 appearances. The second-best is Phil Jackson at .800.

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Photo of the Day: Spurs Reveal Championship Rings http://www.sheridanhoops.com/2014/10/28/photo-of-the-day-spurs-reveal-championship-rings/ http://www.sheridanhoops.com/2014/10/28/photo-of-the-day-spurs-reveal-championship-rings/#respond Wed, 29 Oct 2014 02:07:11 +0000 http://www.sheridanhoops.com/?p=83205

The day we’ve all been waiting for is finally here. NBA basketball is back. After a long, incredible offseason for the league and many teams, Tuesday night kicks off the first real action since the San Antonio Spurs routed the Miami Heat in five games in the Finals.

So, what better way to bring back basketball than having those same Spurs present their title and the rings they earned, and to hang the franchise’s fifth NBA Championship banner. The new-look Mavericks come to the AT&T Center in San Antonio for revenge after being ousted by the Spurs in seven games in the first round of the playoffs.

Today’s photo of the day is in celebration of the crowned champs and their rings. The Spurs took to their Twitter account to showcase their new jewelry.

Spurs_2014_NBA_Championship Ring_07

The rings were produced by Herff Jones, who have manufactured championship rings for the NBA, Super Bowl and BCS National Championship to name a few. With more than three ounces of 14 carat white gold, the rings have more than five total carat weight in diamonds.

Spurs_2014_NBA_Championship_Ring_02

The right side of the ring (above) shows the Spurs “Pounding the Rock” symbol. The five sparks coming from the rock will coincide with the number of championships that the individual player has been a part of. For example, the ring pictured above is Tim Duncan’s.

The left side of the ring (below) shows the player’s name and number with the NBA logo, along with the year of the championship, 2014.

Spurs_2014_NBA_Championship_Ring_01

The words “Good to Great” have also been engraved on the inside of the ring.

Spurs_2014_NBA_Championship_Ring_04

Okay, that’s enough of the pictures. Everyone get back to being excited that the season is finally here, and the San Antonio Spurs begin their defense of these diamond-filled rings tonight against Dallas at 8:00pm (EST).

PHOTO OF THE DAY: Melo Is No Taylor Swift Fan

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