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Tag:Rudy Gay
Posted on: January 24, 2012 4:42 pm
Edited on: January 24, 2012 5:35 pm
 

Rudy Gay doesn't need luck, headband or no

Gay has helped the Grizzlies make their own luck.  (Getty Images)
By Matt Moore

Rudy Gay wore a headband Tuesday night against the Warriors for the first time in a long time. He wound up leading a furious comeback by the Grizzlies who closed on a 30-17 run for the win. Gay nailed a tough stepback jumper to give the Grizzlies a clinching three-point lead, and hit a free throw to push the lead to four. He finished with 23 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals. So yeah, pretty good night for RG. 

So was it the headband? Kind of, but not really. From the Memphis Flyer:  
Toward the end of the brief on-court interview, sideline reporter Rob Fischer asked Gay about his decision to wear a headband during the game, which was a new look for him. Gay motioned back toward the rest of the team with a smile and said, “I wore the headband because the trainer says I always play bad when I wear the headband.” Then Gay looked into the camera, pointed, and channeled his inner Hulk Hogan with a message to viewers at home: “Kids out there, make your own luck. Make your own luck.”
via Road Recap: Grizzlies 91, Warriors 90 — Where the Grizzlies Made Their Own Luck | Beyond the Arc.

I'm never sure on these things, but I think the word is "swag."

Over the last five games, Gay has averaged 21 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, and 1 block, shooting 54 percent from the field. It is the kind of stat-stuffing performance that Memphis needs along with the ability to nail huge perimeter shots when the game is on the line.

Those two elements are crucial. Gay's not an elite scorer, but a quality one, not an elite rebounder for his position, but a good one. Defensively is where he shines. His activity and anticipation in the passing lane sparks the fast break for the Grizzlies and that constant pressure is what puts teams on their toes. 

In the Grizzlies' second round loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder, they found themselves in a certain situation time and time again. Low shot clock or game clock, trying to come up with a perimeter bucket due to the attention Zach Randolph drew. Without Gay the Grizzlies had no alternative but to try and manufacture one. But in the NBA, you need a player to rise up and nail a big shot in-between those plays where ball movement is key. Gay was missing from that series, and after all the talk about Memphis being better without him, Gay is putting that talk to rest. The Grizzlies don't rely on one player, but if the entire team can collectively put themselves in a position to win, Rudy Gay is becoming the player to put them over when it counts. 

The Grizzlies have survived the first 20 days without Zach Randolph and are leading the division. When Randolph went down, people said it was bad luck. 

Make your own luck, kids.  



Posted on: January 11, 2012 12:16 am
Edited on: January 11, 2012 1:46 am
 

Report Card 1.10.12: Washington Wizards get a W



By Matt Moore

Your nightly report card gives you a big picture look at what happened each night in the NBA. Grades are granted based on team or individual performances, and are graded on a curve for each element. Leave your own grades in the comments. 

Washington Wizards


A win! A real win! The Nets (0-18 start) is safe! Crack the champagne! Or Shasta! Or something. The Wizards were desperate, the Raptors were lethargic, the Wizards' offense wasn't gangbusters but their defense was stout. The Raptors cut the lead to 8 at one point, and then the Wizards just hit them in the mouth. Trevor Booker was tough inside, Chris Singleton was productive, John Wall had an efficient game passing (and still can't shoot). It wasn't a great game. But a win to get them off the snide, their first of the season? That's an A.


Chicago Bulls/Minnesota Timberwolves

Since we grade on a curve, the Bulls weren't flawless on defense, and the Wolves game them a good scare. But they executed and executed and answered everything the Wolves tried to do in order to steal momentum. Rose came back from an ankle injury and still closed out the game in style, including a dagger right in the eye of Ricky Rubio to put the fire out.

But the Wolves were right there. And where so many teams would wilt and die under the Bulls' pressure, the Wolves stayed in there. What's more, they controlled the turnover battle and produced on offense. Defense was their problem (*cough* Kevin Love *cough*) but they still got some big performances from their stars (*cough* Kevin Love *cough*).

Portland Trail Blazers

The Clippers hung in this one, and that says something about where both teams are at. But the Blazers got what they needed, particularly from Gerald Wallace and Raymond Felton. Felton took over with a whirling dervish of layups and stripped Blake Griffin down the stretch. The Blazers continue to pressure teams into mistakes. It wasn't a flawless performance by any means, but it is a revenge get from the game they let slip in Staples. Blazers keep rolling. 

Houston Rockets


They beat the Bobcats while shooting 39 percent from the field, 35 percent from the arc, and 75 percent from the line. They turned it over 22 times and the Bobcats were missing two starters. So no, I am not impressed. One thing to watch, though. Jordan Hill has become a legitimate center in this league. After being cast off by the Knicks, he's one of the league leaders in rebound percentage and is playing efficiently at both ends. A good gamble that paid off for Houston. 




Memphis Grizzlies down the stretch


The Grizzlies were in this. In all honesty, they should get a B for their work against an exceptional OKC team. But down the stretch, in a tight game, the continuously made stupid fouls against Russell Westbrook who they have never been able to contain when he's in gear. Rudy Gay repeatedly took threes when they needed him creating inside, then turned the ball over in one-possession game. The Grizzlies' final meaningful possession was a Westbrook block of a Conley layup. Someone has to step up and make plays for this team if they're ever going to get out of their hole.

Toronto Raptors


Lost to the Wizards. Au-to-mat-ic.





LeBron James and the Heat in the clutch



Oh, here's a new one! 

The Heat did what they are most known for, completely self-destructing in the fourth quarter. LeBron James did not attempt a field goal in the fourth quarter. In overtime he missed several key shots and was blocked. He took a poor shot to go for the tie instead of working inside and all that post work we talked about? Gone. 

The Heat have been incredible this season, and that's not media fawning, that's just how good their play has been. But Tuesday night was a reminder that that hideous version of themselves that cost their team a championship still exists. They freeze, they lock up, and they let the whole world rain down on their heads. They utterly failed against a team they had down 17 Tuesday night. 


Gold Stars: Kobe Bryant (48 points on 18/31 shooting); Gerald Wallace (20-4-4 and so many huge plays there are too many to count plus a dagger three); David Lee, Dorrell Wright, Raymond Felton, Al Jefferson (30 and 12), Russell Westbrook
Posted on: January 3, 2012 11:25 pm
Edited on: January 4, 2012 1:02 am
 

Report Card:The Bulls won ugly



By Matt Moore
 and Ben Golliver

A+ Andrew Bynum

The performance of Tuesday night came from Lakers forward Andrew Bynum, who continues the tear he's been on since returning from a 4-game suspension. Bynum notched 21 points, 22 rebounds and 3 blocks in a 108-99 victory over the Houston Rockets and finished with a game-high +17. Bynum again did work on both ends -- six offensive rebounds -- and was a monster around the hoop. Houston's bigs offered little resistance. The game marked the first 20/20 night of Bynum's career.

A Portland Trail Blazers

The Blazers flew by the Thunder in the second half. Their team defense on Kevin Durant was crucial, particularly in keeping him off the line. The Thunder live at the stripe and the Blazers managed to force Durant into an inefficient night while not letting him get to the line. Throw in their usual great team defense and a huge win on the road.

A LaMarcus Aldridge

Aldridge battled Kendrick Perkins all night. And he worked him over. 30 points and 8 rebounds for Aldridge, who repeatedly torched him in the post and face-up. Perkins got under his skin, as you can see.



But Aldridge won the game, and repeatedly bodied Perkins out of the way to score at the bucket. Perkins only managed to get to LMA after he'd done his damage.

B Memphis Grizzlies

The Grizzlies needed to get a win to stop their bleeding. Say hello to the Kings. It's a weak opponent but the Grizzlies needed a dominant performance and they got it from Rudy Gay with 23 points and 8 rebounds on 10-16 shooting. Without Zach Randolph but with Mike Conley returning, maybe the Grizzles can right the ship as the schedule evens out.

C Bismack Biyombo

Biyombo is pretty much what we thought he'd be. He makes a huge impact with his length but also gets lost on rotations and blows several possessions. In the Bobcats' loss to the Cavs you were impressed with the way he could impact plays like a giant tarantula covering the rim, but he also wound up -14 on the night.

D Sacramento Kings

Will someone get some water? Because Paul Westphal's chair has caught fire.

F Chicago Bulls' first-half offense

The Bulls scored 24 points... in a half. They had an efficiency rating of 54 in the first half against Atlanta, with a standard efficiency mark at any time during the game between 90 (poor) and 110 (vey good). So 54 is the lowest I've ever seen. They were beyond horrific. Only to be topped by...

F Atlanta Hawks' fourth-quarter execution

The Hawks were outscored 34-18 in the final frame, and did everything wrong. Took mid-range jumpers. Fouled Luol Deng 100 times. Didn't help enough on Derrick Rose, especially on the game winning layup. And the free throws. The Hawks clanged free throw after free throw when they had a chance to win, particularly Jeff Teague with seven seconds left which would have made it a three-point game. The Bulls did enough to get the win, but you have to say the Hawks lost this game more than the Bulls won it.
Posted on: November 21, 2011 1:18 pm
Edited on: November 21, 2011 9:10 pm
 

Rajon Rondo throws off-the-head alley-oop video

Posted by Ben Golliver

Back in October, Boston Celtics All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo threw a one-handed alley-oop pass over his head, the most magical and inspired assist on the ongoing NBA lockout. Until now?

Rondo was back at it during this weekend's Boston Charity Classic, a charity exhibition game played at Harvard University, when he threw an alley-oop backwards off of his own forehead. Seriously. It almost defies explanation.

Leading a break in transition, Rondo put the ball above his head with both hands as he jumped, craning his neck backwards so that his forehead would serve as a launching pad. He then brought the ball down on his forehead as he descended, causing the ball to vault into the air. The ball's arc lined up perfectly for Memphis Grizzlies forward Rudy Gay, who caught the pass with his left hand and slammed it through in one motion, southpaw-style. As you can imagine, the crowd immediately went nuts.

Here's the video via YouTube user brohrbach.



Hat tip: DimeMag.com
Posted on: October 24, 2011 12:21 am
Edited on: October 24, 2011 12:26 am
 

Players talk lockout after OKC charity game

Posted by Royce Young



OKLAHOMA CITY -- Oklahoma City got as close as it'll probably ever be to an All-Star Game Sunday with stars like LeBron James, Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony showing up for Kevin Durant's charity game. Durant's team -- included LeBron, Russell Westbrook and LaMarcus Aldridge -- topped Paul and Melo's squad 176-171 in a fairly exciting overtime game.

But there was always an unspoken theme to the game. It might've been a fun night featuring a hefty number of stars, but this game shouldn't have been happening. We're just over a week away from the actual tip of the NBA season and it's not going to be happening, at least not on Nov. 1. The players wanted to talk about charity and how fun it was to be playing hoops, but of course the topic of conversation after the game was the lockout.

Chris Paul put it this way: "We try to explain (the situation) as much as we can, but it's really hard to understand unless you're in the situation. But I just want the fans to trust us and know that we're far from greedy. We just want a fair deal. We want to get out there and play more than anybody. But we understand that at the end of the day, we're the product. We're the reason the fans come and we just want a fair deal.”

Paul isn't wrong. The players are certainly the product. Nearly 13,000 fans turned out in one of the league's smallest markets to watch a group of stars play in a completely meaningless game.

Durant was asked if games will be played by Christmas.

"I wish," he said. "But I really can't say right now. We're just trying to work to get a deal done. We're going to continue to play in these games and show the fans that we love the game and we want to play.”

Thunder guard James Harden was very matter-of-fact a few weeks ago when he said the players absolutely wouldn't drop below 53 percent in terms of revenue split. And he reaffirmed that position Sunday.

"No, no. Fifty-three. That's where we're staying at. We've had plenty of talks and we're not dropping," Harden said. "We already dropped and set our number at 53 so that's what we're sticking to."

Despite the hardline approach, Harden thinks it'll be settled soon.

“I'm definitely confident we're going to have a season. I just don't know when.”

Talks fell apart last week supposedly after Blazer owner Paul Allen intervened. LaMarcus Aldridge wouldn't comment about that or even expound on if Allen strikes him as the kind of owner willing to bring the hammer down.

"I can't really speak on that," he said. "It's not my place."

Fans are growing increasingly frustrated with the situation as games will officially be missed in 11 days. Paul was asked if he felt the same way.

"I don't know if frustrated is the right word. It's close," he said. "We just want to keep giving our fans an opportunity to see us. Because if not for the fans, we're not who were are. We just want them to know we still want to keep working towards a deal because it's not just about us. It's about the fans, it's about the employees, about all the people that makes our game happen. We want to play. Just want to make sure everyone understands that."

Said Rudy Gay: “We like playing these games for the fans, but we'd rather be doing our jobs. This is fun, but of course we want to get back to work. We're sorry to the fans for the long wait, but we're looking for a fair deal and that'll happen soon enough.”
Posted on: September 20, 2011 1:44 pm
 

Year of the Grizzlies



By Matt Moore


To say that every franchise has "that year" that changes everything is just not true. Most franchises take time to develop, to blossom from fledgling to regular to up-and-comer to contender to powerhouse. There are titanic events that shape franchises, to be sure, almost always involving the NBA draft. The Spurs, for example, nabbed Tim Duncan to go along with a recovering David Robinson. That was a game-changer for them, literally. But the Spurs had been a playoff team for years, had been contenders in the ABA and NBA, a team that had developed over time. The Miami Heat had the 2006 year when everything came together, but they had also grown in legitimacy through the Alonzo Mourning era. 

But the Grizzlies?

The Grizzlies are having a year that could remake their franchise as a whole. Okay, maybe it's two years. 

It started with re-signing Rudy Gay in free agency for a max deal. The Grizzlies took a world of flak for the decision, since Gay wasn't considered a max player at the time, nor is he now. But it was a shift for the Grizzlies. It was a change in owner Michael Heisley's previous approach, in that it showed he was willing to spend, and spend heavy, in order to compete. Heisley had taken on water as being cheap since trading Pau Gasol (the last player he gave a significant contract to). There were questions of whether the young, talented roster the Grizzlies had been developing together since that Gasol trade would stay together. Heisley breaking out the wallet signified that if nothing else, Heisley was good to his word. He said he wanted to compete, and that if the team competed, he would spend. Re-signing Gay gave them the opportunity to do so.

Heisley followed that up with what I thought was one of the worst contracts in franchise history, and what turned out to be one of the shrewdest moves in frachise history by extending Mike Conley before he could enter restricted free agency. In doing so, not only did he continue to show he would spend to keep the core together, but he also got Conley for a good value relative to his ability, as the young point guard matured into a floor general and reliable playmaker.

When Gay went down in February, the team had already started to rise. That's what's forgotten in the talk that Gay's injury was the cause for the Grizzlies's surge. the Grizzlies had been playing better since January 1st, going 11-6 in January. They had started to gel before Gay's injury and had Gay stayed healthy, it's not like he was keeping a difference maker off the floor. His minutes were absorbed by second-year player Sam Young, who contributed on both ends of the floor, but wasn't in any way better for the overall team structure than Gay, offensively or defensively.

The Grizzlies made a deadline deal to acquire Shane Battier, dumping franchise dead weight and first-round bust Hasheem Thabeet and an additional pick. They nearly made another deal, but fitting the pattern of good fortune, their deal to trade O.J. Mayo to Josh McRoberts fell through. The result was Mayo sticking around and being a huge part of the Grizzlies' playoff run. At the time, though, it seemed more like the kind of thing the Grizzlies tend to screw up as a habit. 

Nonetheless, the Grizzlies then went on one of the best runs in franchise history, even if the numbers don't bear it out. Consider this. The Grizzlies went 9-5 in March. Not great, but good, right? Here's who they played in March of 2011: Spurs, Hornets, Mavericks, Thunder, Knicks, Heat, Clippers, Knicks, Pacers, Jazz, Celtics, Bulls, Spurs, Warriors. That's eleven playoff teams out of fourteen opponents, with the others the wacky Warriors, the Jazz, and Blake Griffin. To survive that schedule around .500 would have been an achievement. To romp through it with success was what put them over the top and into the playoffs, creating a buffer wide enough to hold off the surging Rockets for the eighth spot.

Then, despite tanking to play the four-time champion San Antonio Spurs coming off one of their best regular seasons in years, the Grizzlies pulled one of the most impressive upsets in NBA history, not only beating the top seed but looking impressive doing it. The first franchise playoff win came in their first playoff game of the season, on the road, on the back of a Shane Battier three.  The Grizzlies would go on to push the mighty and revered Thunder to seven games, proving that the young argonauts were mortal after all. Though the Grizzlies fell, it was in the most respectable manner possible, with the real turning point being a triple-overtime thriller that was decided mostly due to various Grizzlies stars fouling out and not having enough energy left for the rest of the series. 

So that's a pretty great year, right? Except things continue to get better. During the playoff run, Heisley also paid Zach Randolph. Keeping the All-Star of the team on the roster has its ups and downs, considering his later-contract-year money vs. age, but it also provides them with the consistency Randolph's shown for years in being a 20-10 guy, and now a team leader.

But most importantly, this lockout, while harmful towards the franchise's momentum in terms of fan support which has always been tepid in Memphis, could be the best thing of all. A revised CBA could allow for the Grizzlies to keep costs down, stabilizing the franchise's financials and eliminating one of the biggest disadvantages to their efforts, the market inequality that has kept them out of free agency conversations. A revised revenue sharing system would do wonders for the Grizzlies whose television deal pays them a fraction of the larger markets', and even the possibility of shortening the years on existing contracts could help with their long-term financials and flexibility.

There are drawbacks, of course. A hard cap implemented immediately would have devastating impacts on the Grizzlies considering the money they've already shelled out, much less the money necessary to re-sign restricted free agent Marc Gasol. But it's just as likely that a new system could come out favoring the Grizzlies' as much as any team in the league, from a financial and competitiveness standpoint.  

The final piece of the puzzle is Gasol. Re-signing one of the best young centers in the league, who has stated openly his desire to return to Memphis where he went to high school, cementing this core of players that genuinely enjoys playing with one another, could be the component that changes the Grizzlies from newly-respectable to consistent contender, at least for the playoffs. It gives the fans a reason to buy in, a group of players worth getting behind (as the elder Gasol's Grizzlies team never was), and could get owner Michael Heisley off the punchline lists around the league.

There is, naturally, the concern from fans and analysts of the extreme opposite, however. Once the Grizzlies finished their playoff run, my first thought was to wonder if this was similar to the Clippers' 2006 run. The Clippers made a strong showing in the playoffs, advancing to the second round and a close series with the run-and-gun Suns. But the year after, Elton Brand went down and everything tanked. The Clippers became the Clippers again. This is what seems to happen to franchises in the NBA. You're either "there" or you're not. Then again, we thought the latter about the Mavericks for decades until everything changed. Now look at them.

2010-2011 was a good year for the Grizzlies, a great year. 2011-2012 could wind up being the best yet. From ticket sales to on-court performance to the emergence of Gay as a superstar to being respected and feared as a contender, this could wind up being the point in time where the Grizzlies changed the course of franchise history, and forever altered the face of professional basketball in Memphis.  
Posted on: September 16, 2011 12:57 am
Edited on: September 16, 2011 1:16 am
 

Las Vegas 'Lockout League' Week 1 notebook

Posted by Ben Golliver

impact-basketball

Thursday night marked the end of Week 1 of the Las Vegas "Lockout League" at Impact Basketball. The fourth day of games was probably the week's most spirited, with some new faces upping the talent level and some technical fouls and trash talk livening up the week-long basketball marathon. Here's a quick look back at the week that was and a recap of the day's highlights.

Telfair eyes contender

At 26, Sebastian Telfair is now a decade removed from being one of the most hyped high school players of all time. His superstar trajectory never materiaized;  Telfair just concluded his seventh NBA season, has yet to make a single playoff appearance and has only played in more than 60 games once in the last four years. A free agent, Telfair hopes all that changes next season.

"I sure do have a list of teams in my mind," Telfair said. "Those teams being one of the teams to make a run for a championship or the teams that are fighting every year for a championship. Seeing Dallas win a championship, congratulations to them, but I'm jealous. I'm extremely jealous. Dallas is definitely on my list. They've got the gold right now. It's not a bad thing in this league to want to go where the gold is. If you can compete and help the team win a championship, that's one of the main focuses in the NBA.

Aside from the Mavericks, Telfair clammed up a little bit as to who was on his radar. "The obvious teams," he finally allowed. "I won't say any teams in particular, but the obvious teams."

Asked what he would bring to a championship contender at this stage of his career, Telfair didn't hesitate or elaborate: "I bring myself. I bring Sebastian Telfair."

Dudley addresses low turnout 

As noted earlier Thursday, only 35 to 40 players attended the National Basketball Players Association regional meeting at the Vdara Hotel. That was roughly half of estimates offered earlier in the week. Phoenix Suns guard Jared Dudley said people shouldn't rush to conclude that the low turnout number represents dissension, disinterest or disunity among the players.

"To me, does it matter? You can spin it that way. At the end of the day, I wasn't in a couple of the meetings in New York. Does that mean I'm not unified? I think that would be wrong to write that. At the end of the day, we all have to write papers, we all have to write stuff."

Modest, but worthwhile, improvements

There is plenty of good news for those considering checking out the "Lockout League" play next week. First, there are plenty of tickets available. Second, Impact Basketball has shown itself to be very flexible in making improvements to the series.

On Thursday, Impact added an in-game emcee to help narrate the action. This is a particularly fan-friendly addition because the players are playing in jerseys that do not bear their names and sometimes rotate from team to team throughout the week. There's also no large scoreboard or video replay, so it can get a bit confusing keeping track of everyone, especially for the non-diehards. Many of the players in attendance are not particularly recognizable or well-known, either, so the emcee was a thoughtful improvement. 

On Wednesday, Impact also cut back from four games per day to three games per day. While you might think at first that this would be less basketball for your money, the move actually improved the games considerably. Less was more here. The change allowed the games to be standardized to 10-minute quarters and rosters were condensed so that each team had seven or eight players instead of the five-a-side that was the norm during the four games per day earlier in the week. That meant each player could go harder, each guy could get breathers if necessary and the threat of a single injury stopping play was no longer a problem. Perhaps most importantly, it cut down on the total number of hours a fan would need to devote to seeing all the best players play. Instead of being in the gym from 1:30 p.m.to 9:30 p.m., fans could leave closer to 7:30 p.m. 

The new presence of bigger-name players like Al Harrington, Stephen Curry and Rudy Gay (who watched from the sideline) on Thursday didn't hurt either.

Hijinks 

In this no-frills environment there was bound to be edgier player behavior. Profanity from the court and from the pre-game soundtrack was the norm at Impact; the sterilization that you find at the NBA in that regard was not present. 

With only a few exceptions, the players, who were not forced by anyone to conduct interviews or interact with media or fans, were thoughtful and kind on and off the court. Of course, the exceptions are far more entertaining than the rule, so here are a few highlights.

Melvin Ely, who is reportedly heading to China, crumpled to the ground after taking a blow to his face. In some fairly serious pain, Ely was escorted to a training area away from the court, where he was attended to by medical personnel. On his way there, though, he took a quick detour to upend a large gatorade bucket in frustration, crashing the contents behind one of the team's benches. Players chuckled and media members raised their eyebrows.

On Thursday, Denver Nuggets forward Al Harrington made his debut with a bang, earning two technical fouls in one game for disputing calls. The first time, he merely shouted at one of the referees; the second time, he chucked a ball so far off the court it hit a brick wall some 20 or 30 feet behind one of the baskets. Harrington was not ejected after receiving his second technical, although free throws were awarded on both violations.

The best trash talk exchange of the week occurred on Thursday, when Indiana Pacers forward Dahntay Jones and Detroit Pistons forward Austin Daye got into an entertaining back-and-forth. Jones, as you might expect, was the Impact Basketball king of the hard foul, sending player after player crashing to the hardwood in an effort to prevent lay-ups. He also was quick to chat too.

Daye found himself arguing a call while waiting to rebound a free throw attempt. Jones, who was in the backcourt, piped up to let Daye know that he was "soft" and that he should end his argument. Daye, an exceptionally skinny man for an NBA player, took real exception to Jones' label, raising his arms up to gesture towards the media section located behind the basket.

"You've got the worst game in here, ask any of them," Daye told Jones twice. Jones responded by mocking Daye's arm motions and sarcastically mimicking his aggravated tone. Play eventually resumed. 

'When you work out with guys for three or four months," Dudley explained, "they get under your skin. You're tired, you want to go home."

Top scorer

Houston Rockets guard Kyle Lowry had the high point scoring game of the week, notching 56 points in a heated Thursday contest.
 
Team play

Probably the most entertaining team to watch was a late-arriving Golden State Warriors crew that made its debut on Thursday. Curry, David Lee, Jeremy Lin, Ekpe Udoh, Jeremy Tyler, Klay Thompson, Lou Amundson, Charles Jenkins and Dorell Wright all got some run in. There were so many Warriors they actually had to be split up into two squads. What was great about Golden State was that you could see real chemistry at work rather than the slapped together teamwork that you usually see in summer exhibitions. Lots of communication and instruction. Lee hollered across the court at Lin, instructing him to stay in the weakside corner and serve as an outlet whenever he drew interior defenders on a drive. Thompson got a feel for establishing an inside-outside game with Lee, and lit it up from deep, draining jumper after jumper. 

Undersized Thomas feels he has a leg up 

Of the incoming rookie class of 2011, Isaiah Thomas, the draft's final pick by the Sacramento Kings, stood out for how comfortable he looked against more seasoned competition. Thomas is an undersized scoring guard who will struggle to defend at the NBA level. But he's also exceedingly quick, confident and able to create his own shot, a nice combination for a reserve, change of pace guard.

Thomas said he fit in right away at Impact because of his previous experience playing against professional players in Seattle, where he attended the University of Washington. 

"It's a blessing because not everybody in my position has that [experience]," Thomas said. "We've got guys like Brandon Roy, Jamal Crawford, Nate Robinson and the list goes on. Jason Terry. They really look out for the younger guys, the guy like Brandon Roy is such a great guy, he gives me input before games, after games, even when we workout together up in Seattle. He's a great guy and I learn from things like that.

He said he feels like he has a leg up on many other rookies in his position, both on and off the court, because of that guidance.

"It makes the transition smoother. Every guy up in Seattle has been through the situation I'm about to go through, but in different ways. If I can ask them about practice is going, what to expect, what's the business side of things. They all got different input, I take that all in. They are just trying to help, they are never going to steer me in the wrong direction."

As the last man selected in the draft and with a nonguaranteed contract likely in his future, Thomas realizes he will have to get in where he fits in with the Kings. "Play hard, play every possession like it's my last," Thomas explained. "Do whatever that want me to do. Score, get others involved, get on loose balls, play defense, I just want to play. After the draft, the Kings said, 'Keep doing what you're doing. We're excited when the time comes.'"
Posted on: September 8, 2011 12:08 pm
 

Conley organizes Grizzlies workouts

By Matt Moore

The number of ways Mike Conley has impressed me since I torched him upon his signing a $40 million extension continues to grow. I've been wrong about some things. Today. And, well, every day. But I do my best to try and recognize it and adjust accordingly. And Mike Conley continues to bury a knife into my early season criticism of him last year. In short, I look like a moron consistently. Case in point: Conley has taken the lead in organizing team workouts in Memphis during the lockout to work on conditioning, in-game situations, and chemistry. From the Memphis Commercial-Appeal:
Mike Conley decided not to wait for an end to the NBA lockout to direct the Grizzlies.

The point guard took charge and mobilized his teammates for a mini-camp in Memphis this week.

Conley, Rudy Gay, Tony Allen, O.J. Mayo, Zach Randolph, Xavier Henry and Sam Young reunited at a local gym early Tuesday. Ish Smith and second-round draft pick Josh Selby were expected to join the group Wednesday.

"I've been prepared all summer to do this," Conley said. "It's my job as the point guard. I want to be one of the leaders on the team. And guys did a great job of keeping their word and coming in on time ready to work.
via Mike Conley organizes workouts for Memphis Grizzlies » The Commercial Appeal

If you were around the Grizzlies at any point last season even for a game, you'd see Conley's influence as a leader. He stayed the longest at practice most days, he was constantly talking with coach Lionel Hollins, and he was almost always in a position to make sure his teammates were prepared. There were times when his late-game execution and decision making was confusing, but then, he also made some huge plays in those key situations. He's still growing into his role in the NBA and with the Grizzlies, but this is a tremendous example of taking the next step in terms of leadership. Being the guy to get everyone together, to instill discipline, that puts him at another level. 

The roster of those attending is interesting. Randolph had said he wanted to help organize such a workout. Tony Allen coming just shows his commitment. Gay has been active in getting back into his role with the team as he recovers from shoulder surgery. Sam Young is in need of constant coaching to improve his knowledge of where to fit in on the floor. Then there are the others. 

O.J. Mayo electing to join the team is notable in and of itself, after Mayo was nearly traded at the deadline following a short suspension for a banned substance and was involved in a fight with Tony Allen. Mayo recovered and acted professionally on the floor throughout the year, and came through for Memphis in the playoffs. He's also a restricted free agency when the season resumes. But Mayo has spoken about the comfort level he has with this team and it shows. 

Then there's Xavier Henry. Henry was a highly touted lottery pick, who suffered a knee injury, then vanished from the active roster. He was invisible during the playoffs and there have been concerns over his relationship with Lionel Hollins. His working out with the team is a good sign, as he could use some time among the veterans in Memphis, as could Josh Selby, another Jayhawk the Grizzlies drafted. Selby plummeted to the second round after being considered a lottery pick over character and attitude questions. But Selby has also been in good company this summer, playing alongside NBA stars like LeBron James through his connection to Carmelo Anthony's Team Melo, as well as his work at Impact Basketball in Las Vegas. 

Conley is still not an elite point guard in this league and likely will never be. But his consistency and work ethic, along with this kind of leadership shows why that extension wasn't just at good market value, it was probably a steal. If you need me, I'll be in the corner staring at the wall until my detention is up.  
 
 
 
 
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