Generally speaking, Jackson is a good man. He respects all of his players and treats them as equals. He would never speak ill towards any of them and never utters a curse word – not easy to do when you’re involved with the game of basketball.
The Evening News: Ujiri named top executive; Monta Ellis and Larry Sanders nearly fought; Holiday and Turner want Curry as next head coach
Hello and welcome to the Evening News.
As the playoffs continue, we’ll keep you updated every evening. What’s happening today?
Here’s the latest news from around the league:
Hinrich’s absence a big factor for Bulls
Chicago may have been without top scorer Luol Deng in Thursday’s 95-92 Game 6 home loss to Brooklyn, but its loss of Kirk Hinrich for a second straight game may have hurt the team more. Deron Williams has played better over the last pair of Net wins with Hinrich out of commission, which is a major reason why the series has swung in Brooklyn’s favor.
Hinrich last appeared on the floor in last Saturday’s Game 4 triple-overtime classic. He played 60 minutes, scored 18 points and dished out 14 assists. Chicago raced out to a 3-1 series lead. Hinrich hasn’t played and the Bulls haven’t won since then. Deron Williams has also been more productive against Hinrich’s undersized understudy, Nate Robinson, and it’s shown in his stats in addition to the wins and losses:
|Deron Williams||Minutes||FG %||3 FG %||Points||Assists||FTA|
There isn’t much of a difference between Williams’ field goal and scoring numbers, but he’s been able to get an additional 2.75 assists per game and is getting to the line with more consistency. And it’s not just Hinrich’s defense that impacts the Bulls so negatively.
“Yes, it was big,” Nets coach P.J. Carlesimo said of Hinrich’s injury. “It affects the game because he’s one of their best players, not just as a defender.”
Hinrich’s offensive impact rose during his four games on the floor for Chicago, improving on his regular season averages like an impactful veteran should.
|Kirk Hinrich||Minutes||FG %||3 FG %||Points||Assists||Steals|
So Hinrich’s impact has been noticed on both sides of the floor. Chicago is “hopeful” Hinrich will play in Saturday night’s Game 7, and he could be the x-factor for either team dependent on whether he plays or not.
Healthy Bogut does in Denver
David Lee may have only played one minute, giving Golden State an emotional charge during Thursday night’s Game 6. But it was Andrew Bogut’s sensational play that allowed the Warriors to defeat Denver 92-88 and take the series in a dramatic 4-2 upset.
It was Bogut, finally healthy and living up to his potential after coming to the Bay Area in a trade that jettisoned fan favorite Monta Ellis to Milwaukee, who stole the show and fulfilled the team’s vision of a successful run of sustained success for a long-moribund franchise. Bogut scored 14 points and took down 21 rebounds, the most for a Warrior player in a postseason game since 1987, which is an incredible accomplishment against a Denver team that was one of the top rebounding teams this season.
Golden State is pretty set in the backcourt, with Stephen Curry leading the charge and Klay Thompson and Jarrett Jack doing a better job of complementing Curry’s skill-set than Ellis ever could. The Warriors have been looking for a frontline big man for years, so they took a calculated risk on dealing for Bogut. He was injured a lot while Ellis was continuing his scoring ways with the Bucks, so folks grew frustrated with the deal on the Golden State end. Bogut was hurt on and off throughout the season, playing in fits and starts with a minutes quota and many a day off.
“It’s very emotional for me because I’ve had a nightmare of a year,” said Bogut.
The team’s patience and due-dilligence with Bogut’s injury is finally playing off. And when Bogut plays extended minutes, the W’s are a tough team to beat. Golden State is 15-8 when Bogut plays at least 25 minutes in a game, and had a pretty good regular season, but he’s been an absolute monster against the Nuggets in the postseason.
So Golden State moves on to face a San Antonio team with Tim Duncan and Tiago Splitter, among others, down low. The two teams split its four-game season series, and if Bogut is healthy and playing at the level he played against Denver, perhaps Golden State will make its second round series more interesting than people would expect.
Shlomo Sprung 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. His website is SprungOnSports.com. You can follow him on Twitter.
StatBox Playoff Breakdown: More problems in Bucks’ backcourt, Williams comes up small again and Memphis finds its defense
Just in the nick of time, Memphis found its elite defense on Thursday night. But where was it hiding? Should the Nets reconsider its contract extension of its general manager after its offensive performance against the Bulls? How can Brooklyn get back in this series? Is Milwaukee’s backcourt worth keeping? The answers to all these questions and a whole lot more in today’s StatBox breakdown.
Milwaukee’s backcourt problems continue
There are very few teams that could survive a poor night in the playoffs from one of its stars. Unfortunately for the Bucks, they played one of those teams in the Miami Heat. Dwyane Wade shot 1-f0r-12 from the field, but Miami still shot 52 percent from the field in a 104-91 win. The Heat took a 3-0 lead in a series that will mercifully end this weekend.
The question of the Bucks’ future as a team (as currently constituted) is even louder after another subpar game from its star backcourt duo of Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings. It was a 7-for-24 shooting night for the two upcoming free agents, which has been a growing trend in this laugher of a series. One would expect players to shoot worse against a team like the Heat than their regular season averages, but not at this rate. Observe:
|Bucks Backcourt||Points||FG %||3 FG %|
Jennings and Ellis are shooting nearly 16 percent worse from three (a stomach wrenching 7-for-39) than they were during the regular season and are hitting exactly three of eight field goals overall. The team is getting poor play from its top two offensive players, which is one of the reasons why Milwaukee couldn’t capitalize on a night where Wade was awful and Miami committed 20 turnovers (the Bucks had 19 of their own). The Bucks’ season will almost certainly end with its next game, and then the team has to figure out whether Jennings and Ellis are worth holding on to.
Williams comes up limp again
Deron Williams, Brooklyn’s franchise cornerstone and $100 million man, is having a pretty awful series against a physically battered Bulls team playing without Derrick Rose, who would have made this series even more difficult for Williams. Williams is shooting 39.5 percent from the field over the Nets’ three postseason games, and went 5-for-14 in Thursday’s 79-76 loss to go down 2-1 in the series.
In an ironic twist, a lot of the moves General Manager Billy King made over last offseason looked downright foolish just mere hours after the team announced it was signing King to a contract extension. Let’s take a look at how King’s guys are doing in this series:
- Williams is shooting under 40 percent from the field and 31.3 percent from three while dishing out just four assists on Thursday night.
- Gerald Wallace, who King signed for $40 million after acquiring him from Portland in a trade that would ultimately bring standout rookie Damian Lillard to the Blazers, shot 2-for-8 in game 3. He’s averaging seven points and 4.3 rebounds per game on 36.4 percent shooting.
- Kris Humphries is being paid $12 million this season and played a grand total of 40 minutes in the entire series so far with 14 points and eight rebounds.
Sounds like money well spent, and a contract extension well earned, by King. Brook Lopez is a borderline All-Star player, but this Nets team is only going to go as far as Williams takes them. Everyone knows that. Until Williams can carry this team, especially with Joe Johnson being hobbled by plantar fasciitis, Brooklyn will be looking at first round exits for years to come.
We found Memphis’ defense!
It was in Memphis all along! Perhaps the team’s cost cutting prevented the defense from making the flight to Los Angeles. But it was back in full force Thursday night at the FedEx Forum, where the Grizzlies held the Clippers to 38.8 percent shooting from the floor and forced 16 L.A. turnovers in a 94-82 win.
Zach Randolph found his old postseason mojo, scoring 27 points and pulling down 11 rebounds. But it was the team’s defense that got the win, and it’s the defense that will have to keep Memphis around in this series. Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and Jamal Crawford shot a combined 12-for-33 and Mike Conley and Tony Allen finally played to their abilities as top level defenders on Paul.
“We didn’t make any adjustments,” Memphis Coach Lionel Hollins said of defending Paul. “We just played better.”
Hollins may have a point. Memphis just happens to play better defensively at home.
|Defensive Splits||FG %||3 FG %||Turnovers|
That extra 1.5 percent of field goal shooting could mean the difference between victory and defeat, especially in such a closely contested series as this one. This type of defense has to continue, of course, if Memphis doesn’t want to be facing elimination the next time it steps foot on that Staples Center floor.
Shlomo Sprung loves advanced statistics and the way they explain what happens on the court. He is also the web editor of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle and a writer for Football.com. 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. His website is SprungOnSports.com. You can follow him on Twitter.
NBA players always seem to question what the media knows when the voting for awards don’t go a certain way. That was again the case when it was determined that Marc Gasol won the Defensive Player of the Year award this season.
Manu Ginobili, who has had the privilege of playing alongside the great defense of Tim Duncan all his career, clearly did not appreciate his big man getting snubbed for the award after having yet another impacting presence on the defensive end for one of the best teams in the league. Here is what he had to say, from Mike Monroe of San Antonio Express-News: