Tag:Steve Novak
Posted on: February 23, 2012 10:41 pm
Edited on: February 23, 2012 10:49 pm

Linsanity meets LeBrontology in Heat win

LeBron James lead the Heat to a win over Jeremy Lin and the Knicks. (Getty Images)
By Matt Moore 

Magic and momentum can take you far in this world. Things happen in sports that defy logic and reason. They happen all the time in the NBA. The 8th seed Warriors with no discernible defense knocking off one of the best regular season teams of the decade in Dallas. The Nuggets toppling the Sonics in the 90's. Sundiata Gaines hitting a game winner. In football, Tim Tebow knocked off the Steelers. It only took injuries to half of Pittsburgh's team to pull it off. Sometimes the story is greater than the facts.

But eventually, there's science. Cold, hard, science.

On Thursday night, Linsanity got a cold dose of LeBrontology, as Miami downed New York 102-88.

It wasn't primarily James doing the damage, it was the Heat's suffocating team defense. It was Mario Chalmers, Norris Cole, Dwyane Wade, Udonis Haslem, Shane Battier attacking Jeremy Lin's dribble, it was Wade, Chris Bosh, Chalmers, and Battier on offense. But James was the tip of the spear at both ends, and putting on another MVP performance in a big game setting with 20 points, 9 rebounds, 8 assists, 5 steals,, and 2 blocks. Want proof this game mattered to James? 40 minutes, before the All-Star break. He contained Lin, forced him into traps, and the Heat took away Lin's right, then took away his dribble, and always, always, always started the break with one of their athletic wings streaking in for the finish.

It was a blitzkrieg, it was a bum rush, it was a stampede by Miami, and the Knicks were left trampled underfoot.

By the end of the game any hope of Lin turning on one of the furious comebacks he's created this year fell by the wayside, instead the Knicks reverted to B.L. (Before Lin) thinking, with Carmelo Anthony isolating for contested jumpers, the rhythm destroyed for New York. It was an impressive win, but far from a blowout.

The Knicks had things going for them, and in reality, this game represents well where the two teams are. The Knicks are dangerous, now. When Anthony is slashing to the basket, when Amar'e Stoudemire is taking advantage of opportunities, when Tyson Chandler is a force at the rim, and on any other night when Lin is able to create scoring opportunities, the Knicks have what it takes to make a playoff run and run to the second round. That they were over-matched is not indicative of the degree of this team's flaws, less than a week in with this complete roster.

The fact that Miami slammed the door so emphatically in the second half is.

The Big 3 scored 67 points, the bench gave them 27. But it was their game plan that shows what this team can do when it's in gear. The formula is simple. Turn the opponent over, run, run, run it down their throat. Rinse, lather, repeat. There will come a time when the Heat offense again looks pathetic, stagnant, pedestrian. But the Knicks caught them at a time when they are at their very best. This Heat team smothers your possession, dissects your ball movement, then punishes you with their speed and athleticism. I call it the Flying Death Machine for a reason. That New York hung in says a lot about their talent level.

Lin was sloppy, running into defenders, desperate to try and create space, contained on the drive and deterred from his sweet spots. The Heat can talk all they want about not adjusting their game to their opponent, but this was a concerted effort to cut the Knicks' mythological head clean off. With Lin buried, the Knicks offense was fine, for a while, but eventually it caught up. That may be the most impressive piece of the Heat's performance. Amar'e Stoudemire hurt the Heat in the first half. They made him vanish in the second half. The perimeter shooting killed them throughout the game, but eventually the Heat started anticipating the passes. They gave up a lot of size inside, but the bigger the game became, the better Joel Anthony (5 blocks) played.

And there was James, at it all, running and swiping and cutting and shooting. The Knicks were within ten under two-minutes. Lin turnover. Outlet pass. LeBron James emphatic dunk. The end.

Lin will adjust and get better, the Knicks will be fine. But this game showed itself to be another example of what we already knew.

The Miami Heat play above the rim, and a step above everyone else in the NBA right now. They are faster, stronger, better right now. 

It's science.
Posted on: February 23, 2012 8:25 pm

Lin's turnovers a problem for Knicks vs. Heat

By Matt Moore 

We told you that the Heat could create turnovers against Jeremy Lin and you saw it in the first half. After the first 24, Miami leads 5-47, as Jeremy Lin has six turnovers, and LeBron James has five steals (though not all are off Lin). Both Norris Cole and Mario Chalmers have done an excellent job of containing and pressuring Lin, while the rest of the Heat have attacked his dribble. Amar'e Stoudemire also has six turnovers, but has 11 points and 3 boards to go with it. Lin on the other hand has just 2 points and 2 assists.

It's a breakneck pace with the Heat running out in transition. LeBron James has 8 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists, 5 steals, and 2 turnovers. The defense for both teams has been very good despite the high shooting percentages.

Lin has to calm down and run the offense, and not force the issue. Mental and physical exhaustion have to be playing a part, but six turnovers in a single half is just too much. Steve Novak has nine points off the bench. A second quarter run gave the Knicks the lead briefly, but the Heat came right back by pushing the tempo again with Lin in the game. It's been a game of fast pace and big plays with huge blocks and dunks on both ends.
Posted on: February 19, 2012 6:23 pm
Edited on: February 19, 2012 8:20 pm

Video: Lin dunks on Mavs, nails three over Dirk

By Matt Moore 

Consider this your obligatory "Jeremy Lin did amazing things" highlights post. 

First, a half-court steal and finish to cap off a furious run to cut the lead before the fourth after the Mavericks had pushed the lead to double-digits:


And from the "monster stones" department, this three over Dirk Nowitzki with the Big German closing out on him: 

Are you not entertained? Are you not entertained? 

And from the Department of Awesome (and SBNation), here's Steve Novak celebrating with a Discount Double Check a la Aaron Rodgers Championship Belt move.

Posted on: February 19, 2012 5:13 pm
Edited on: February 19, 2012 5:39 pm

No question now, Lin is for real

Jeremy Lin did it again Sunday, leading the Knicks to 104-97 win over Dallas. (Getty Images)
By Matt Moore 

It is no longer a surprise. It is no longer unbelievable. It is no longer improbable. And that makes it no less fun to experience. The Jeremy Lin Experience is very, very real. 

Lin lead the the Knicks  to a 104-97 win over the Dallas Mavericks Sunday as Madison Square Garden was once again taken over by Linsanity. Lin finished with 28 points, 14 assists, 7 turnovers, and 5 steals against the 4th best defensive efficiency squad in the league, as he returned to his double-team-splitting, drive-and-dish-kicking, absolute takeover mode we saw through his first seven games and recovered from the Knicks' loss to the Hornets. He still turned the ball over at a high rate, but after 46 minutes and with that much usage, you have to expect some mistakes, and Lin more than made up for it with his efficiency (28 points on 20 shots), and five steals to convert opportunities for the Knicks. 

The Mavericks tried Shawn Marion on Lin, the same Matrix who shut down LeBron James in the Finals. They tried Jason Kidd, Jason Terry, hedging, trapping, rolling. Some of the traps worked. Dominique Jones put in good minutes on him. But Lin adjusted. That was the question with Lin, whether he could change his game to match how teams would attack him. He did, and made the Mavericks pay.

There isn't much you can say at this point that hasn't been said. But this was a statement game for Lin and the Knicks' belief in him as a legitimate starting point guard. Beating the Lakers with 38 points was his real arrival on the scene. Downing the Mavericks on national television after the Mavs are considered to be one of the best scouting teams in the league? That's putting his stamp on the league. Even if he did need to go right every time to do it (via GameTracker): 

Lin definitely got help from his teammates. J.R. Smith made his Knicks debut, and finished with 15 points. He slumped after a hot start, but also cherry picked a clinching bucket late to help bury the Mavs' last chance. More astonishing that Lin in this game may have been Steve Novak, another fringe player at the start of the season, absolutely lit up the Mavericks, working from the corner and hitting 4-5 threes. It was a pretty absurd shooting display on his way to 14 points off the bench. The Knicks' bench outscored Dallas' deep supporting unit by 10, 33-23.

Lin is a legitimate starter in the NBA. Right now, he's a legitimate star. It's possible he could fade, that he just caught the Mavericks (and Lakers and Raptors and Nets...) on a bad day. But the odds of that are now the same as any other great young player in this league. He's done it against the best competition, and he continues to improve as his team does. Mike D'Antoni has his point guard. The Knicks have a leader. And New York has a bonafide sensation worth getting behind.

The Jeremy Lin Experience is real.
Posted on: February 12, 2012 12:51 am
Edited on: February 12, 2012 1:19 am

Let the great Lin debate begin

Jeremy Lin was just 8-24 from the field Saturday but still got the win. (Getty Images)
By Matt Moore 

And now the fun part begins. Jeremy Lin is no longer undeniable nor deniable after the Knicks100-98 win over the Timberwolves. Let me take you down the road of point/counterpoint that will be hashed and re-hashed over the next 48 hours.

"Lin got the win, that's all that matters."

"Lin was inefficient and missed 14 shots from the field."

"Lin managed to pull 20 points and 8 assists while playing a quality defensive team surrounded by Tyson Chandler, Steve Novak, and Landry Fields as his best weapons."

"A good story doesn't erase a poor game."

"It was the Knicks' third game in four nights, and a back-to-back. The kid has logged long minutes. Everyone gets tired this year."

"It was against the 13-15 Timberwolves." 

"The Wolves are 15th in efficiency differential (12th in defensive efficiency), were above .500 before the Kevin Love suspension. And didn't the win over the Lakers kill the 'strength of schedule' argument?"

"The defense figured him out in the second half."

"Not enough."

And both sides are correct. It was not a great performance by Lin, but it was enough to help the Knicks win. It was inefficient, but highly productive. Lin made some poor plays, and some brilliant ones. Lin is entering the next phase of what happens when you're a phenomenon. And while Lin is not worthy of being compared to the great players of this league, not even close, if we examine this five game stretch as a microcosm of how analysts, fans, and media react to polarizing players, this is the next evolution.

Good enough for the supporters to herald, poor enough for the backlash to begin. Did he win the game, even when he hit the game-winning free throw, or was it defense and poor execution by Minnesota late that kept the Knicks' Linning streak alive? Did he struggle because he was exhausted from hoisting a team without Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire, half their payroll, and on a back-to-back, third-in-four? Or was it Minnesota figuring him out?

The debate will rage. His supporters are validated by the simplified 20-8-6-3 line and a win, the backlash buoyed by his turnovers and shooting percentage. And the answer lies in the middle.

Lin was clearly exhausted, as the elevation on his second-half shots reveals. He would land and take longer to recover to his feet. He looked winded, he drifted to the edges at times, and admitted after the game everyone was tired.

But Lin also admitted that the Timberwolves did a good job defending him. And they did. It's been no secret since Lin's first explosive performance that the key is forcing him left. Lin is notably weaker with his left, and in fact, the Wolves shaded him constantly to his left. When Lin attempted to move right in the pick and roll, a second defender would pop to the elbow to drive him back left.

That said, Lin missed several very makeable shots going to his left, including a floater over Nikola Pekovic and a bank shot over Love. Pekovic may have been the biggest difference maker. Not only did he challenge Lin at the rim, but he managed to keep with him laterally without fouling. Most teams don't have a defender of that quality (speaking of players who came out of nowhere), but it does show that Lin is more than mortal.

And yet.

Lin also forced several possessions, often getting into the air and trying to finish with floaters over three defenders instead of passing out to a wide-open corner man, which he has done so much during this streak. Some of that is exhaustion wearing on his decision-making. Some of it is just forcing it.

Do we need to make excuses, though? Hasn't Lin already proved himself, especially since he had a poor game by the new established standards for him and still won the game with 20 points and 8 rebounds? Should we hold him to a higher standard, considering what should be lowered expectations?

It's too late for all that. This thing has taken on a life of its own. And you have to wonder if that was the real difference against Minnesota. The Knicks played well defensively. They got some breaks. Lin was productive but not efficient. But as much as I try and boil things down to metrics and plays and X's and O's, it's hard to watch this game and not walk away with a simple conclusion.

Some things can't be stopped. And while the rollercoaster has to end sometime, right now? Nothing has been able to stop Linsanity. Minnesota is just the latest to experience it.
Posted on: February 8, 2012 8:46 pm

A study in Lin-ear progression

Is Jeremy Lin for real? Well, yes and no. (Getty Images)

By Matt Moore

Linsanity is indeed in full effect. 

Jeremy Lin came off the bench for the Knicks four days ago against the Nets and scored 25 points, with 5 rebounds, 7 assists, and 2 steals in a comeback win over the Nets. More than that, though, there were signs of something Knicks fans haven't seen all year: a fully functioning offense. Lin showed an almost instinctive understanding of the pick and roll, a primary staple of most NBA offense but particularly Mike D'Antoni's, along with a creativity at the position the Knicks have needed to go along with their star power. And yet Lin was not through. In his first start in an NBA game, Lin followed up with 28 points, 8 assists, 2 steals, and a charge, along with an alarming 8 turnovers. 

Getting to know Jeremy Lin

Needless to say, New York fans went bonkers. 

Here was an undrafted kid out of Harvard (Harvard!), taking the reins at the world's most famous arena, without Amar'e Stoudemire due to a death in the family, and without Carmelo Anthony due to a groin injury, winning a game and looking superb while doing it. If excitement among NBA fans over single games from young players grows fast across the league, it moves at warp speed in New York. The excitement isn't just palpable, it's sweating down your neck in the elevator while you're praying you get to your floor before it vomits on you in excitement. 

So with Lin making his second start Wednesday night against the Washington Wizards, there's kind of some pressure on Lin to live up to the hype. 

There have been other breakdowns of Lin's game, and surely on Twitter you will find a bevy of analysis and opinions on Lin ranging from "future All-Star" to "fluke who will crash to the earth and burn in another pile of disappointment and failure Knicks fans have come to know so well." Certainly you can't really put much stock in two games. But having gone back and watched his work in those two games, there are some elements of Lin-ear progression I wanted to share. 

Split Reaction

It makes sense, when you think about it. You're guarding an undrafted rookie who flamed out of Golden State and Houston. Why on earth would you want to guard against him performing one of the most difficult maneuvers in the NBA? But for some reason, neither the Nets nor the Jazz chose to heed the damaging mounting evidence that yes, Jeremy Lin can and will split your double team off the pick and roll and yes, you do need to hedge him baseline as far as you can. 

Lin's work in the pick and roll has been superb as stated above. It's not just the mechanics or the results. It's that he shows a natural feel. He's not throwing passes on clockwork, counting in his head before whipping regardless of how the defense reacts, nor is he immediately pulling up for a jumper or waiting too long to evaluate when coming off the screen. He's reacted with sharp, smart passes. Three of his turnovers (out of his total and disturbing eight) against the Jazz came because his teammates simply weren't expecting him to make a pass of that quality. Likewise, three assists were clearly blown for the same reason. With time and practice, that chemistry will improve. 

But what has made Lin so dangerous in these two games has been his split of the double on the pick and roll. Teams have constantly funneled him to the middle, daring him to try and dribble past the big defender and the guard, closing off the baseline. In short, Lin has annihilated teams with it. He's slipped between defenders, used a dribble hesitation to freeze the third defender (when there; the Nets didn't have a third defender, they just kind of watched him score), then slip around him for a layup and often an and-one. If Randy Wittman has done any sort of scouting, he'll have Wall fight go under the screen, keep Lin in front of him, and push him to baseline. If they switch, a better move would be to have the big defender hedge Lin out as far as possible. Even if he gets the edge, it's not as familiar or as comfortable for Lin to attack from that angle, and forces the action away from the roll man. Lin can still create scoring as he did against Utah at time by dishing to Steve Novak if the wing defender comes to help, but if Steve Novak kills you, Steve Novak kills you. Gotta live with something. 

An Additional Point

The NBA league average for rate of plays ending with an and-one according to HoopData.com is .3 per 40 minutes, for 2.4 percent of the time. Jeremy Lin is averaging 2.6 per 40 minutes at over 13 percent of the time. For comparison, through 795 minutes this year, Monta Ellis has 8 and-ones. Through 136 minutes, Jeremy Lin has 7. What I am trying to get at here is that Lin has been ridiculous at drawing contact and finishing. Lin actually has a right decent step through move. Much has been made of forcing him to his left, but he's able to finish with either hand, even if his left isn't as strong. 

But it's highly unlikely that's sustainable. Some of it is sheer shock by the defenders ("Is this guy really getting past?") Some of it is terrible defense on the part of New Jersey and Utah, and some of it is officiating being influenced by the momentum of both the crowd and the story. These things happen. The kid has done wonders to convert those opportunities, but it's hard to see that rate continuing even for another night. 

Space Cadet

But his ability to finish with contact does bode well for the Knicks. Last game on the Knicks' whiteboard the word "SPACING" was emphasized, and for good reason. The Knicks' inability to space the floor has been one of the reason its offense has been a jumbled mess. A rolling, driving point guard does wonders for that element, and we've seen that with Lin's play through two games. It's not just the pick and roll, it's that ability to finish at the rim that pulls the defense in and allows for perimeter opportunities. Lin's quickness and elusiveness allows for that. The passing is just the icing on the cake. 

Every Dream's Got To End Sometime

The Knicks' fan reaction has largely not been one of predicting a trip to Springfield for Lin down the line, just a hope that he can be the point guard to help the offense function, once they have all their components back (which won't be for a while -- Melo's out 1-2 weeks with the groin injury, Stoudemire understandably won't be back from being with family following the death of his brother until at least Monday). 

There's likely going to be a peel back. Lin gets to have a bad game. It is the Wizards, but if you're looking for an athletic, long defender to corral Lin, John Wall's as good a place to start as any, and JaVale McGee down low (provided he's not running in the other direction) should deter Lin's attempts at the rim. But what Lin did these two games has not beenMagic or simply throwing up shots. He's been patient, he's been smart, and he's been effective. Maybe he will crash back to earth. But watching this ride has been as fun as anything else this season. I mean, come on, can you really beat this? (Via Posting and Toasting.)

Posted on: February 8, 2012 5:03 pm
Edited on: February 8, 2012 6:11 pm
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Posted on: October 4, 2011 4:51 pm
Edited on: October 4, 2011 5:02 pm

The worst overall player ratings in NBA 2K12

Posted by Ben Golliver


Last week, we took a look at the top-rated players in the latest rendition of the popular video game, NBA 2K12. Miami Heat forward LeBron James led all current players with a player rating of 98. Dwyane Wade, Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, Chris Paul, Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose, Carmelo Anthony and Deron Williams were all rated above 90 by the game on a scale of 1-100.

Here's the flipside. The following is a list of the worst-rated players on each team. The absolute worst of the worst is Oklahoma City Thunder center Byron Mullens, who rates as a 40. The rest of the bottom five: Chicago Bulls forward Brian Scalabrine (41), Toronto Raptors center Alexis Ajinca (42), Utah Jazz center Kyrylo Fesenko (42) and San Antonio Spurs forward Steve Novak (43).

Here's the full list of the worst-rated players for each team in NBA 2K12

Atlanta Hawks -- Jason Collins -- C -- 45
Boston Celtics -- Nenad Krstic -- C -- 54
Charlotte Bobcats -- DeSagana Diop -- C -- 51
Chicago Bulls -- Brian Scalabrine -- PF -- 41
Cleveland Cavaliers -- Luke Harangody -- PF -- 50
Dallas Mavericks -- Ian Mahinmi -- C -- 47
Denver Nuggets -- Kosta Koufos -- C -- 53
Detroit Pistons -- DaJuan Summers -- SF -- 55
Golden State Warriors -- Vladimir Radmanovic -- PF -- 53
Houston Rockets -- Hasheem Thabeet -- C -- 51
Indiana Pacers -- A.J. Price -- PG -- 53
Los Angeles Clippers -- Brian Cook -- PF -- 49
Los Angeles Lakers -- Theo Ratliff -- C -- 53
Memphis Grizzlies -- Hamed Haddadi -- C -- 48
Miami Heat -- Dexter Pittman -- C -- 45
Milwaukee Bucks -- Jon Brockman -- PF -- 51
Minnesota Timberwolves -- Nikola Pekovic -- C -- 55
New Jersey Nets -- Mario West -- PG -- 49
New Orleans Hornets -- D.J. Mbenga -- C -- 45
New York Knicks -- Anthony Carter -- PG -- 53
Oklahoma City Thunder -- Byron Mullens -- C -- 40
Orlando Magic -- Malik Allen -- PF -- 49
Philadelphia 76ers -- Tony Battie -- C -- 47
Phoenix Suns -- Garret Siler -- C -- 52
Portland Trail Blazers -- Earl Barron -- C -- 47
Sacramento Kings -- Hassan Whiteside -- C -- 49
San Antonio Spurs -- Steve Novak -- PF -- 43
Toronto Raptors -- Alexis Ajinca -- C -- 42
Utah Jazz -- Kyrylo Fesenko -- C -- 42
Washington Wizards -- Hamady N'Diaye -- C -- 50

Note: Both the Hawks and the Hornets had multiple players rated below 50. Guard Pape Sy was rated 48 for Atlanta and center David Andersen was rated 49 for New Orleans.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com