Tag:Kyrie Irving
Posted on: February 9, 2012 7:40 pm
Edited on: February 9, 2012 9:11 pm
 

The five biggest All-Star snubs

Posted by Royce Young

Jennings tweeted after the announcement, "Just gotta work even harder now." (Getty Images)

The 2012 All-Star teams have been filled out and as always, there are some serious snubs. It's a select group that makes the All-Star Game as just seven spots in each conference are open for reserves. It's not easy to make it which means guys that have a great case to be there always get left out. You can't take everyone and there have to be cuts. So here the top five guys that have a reason to be disappointed. Feel free to create your own "snubbed from the snubs" list too.

Brandon Jennings

The Bucks aren't having a great season at 11-14, but it would be really bad without Jennings. He's averaging 18.9 points, 5.3 assists and 3.3 rebounds per game. He's third among Eastern point guards in scoring and has been terrific in a number of big Milwaukee wins, including both over the Heat. Again, what hurts him is that his team is 11-14, but that didn't seem to affect Deron Williams' candidacy much. Jennings has a legitimate gripe to be left out.

James Harden

You're saying, "James Harden? There are way bigger snubs than that. But there should be something to be said for a guy that’s second at his position. It just makes sense for Harden to have been included. He’s second in PER (21.94) in the West for shooting guard, only behind Kobe. He’s 22nd overall in PER in the league. He’s fourth in scoring among 2-guards. He’s the third best player on the team with the best record in basketball. And his beard has the power to heal blindness. Those five things should add up to enough to trump Dirk Nowitzki, who even said himself he shouldn't be there.

Paul Millsap

The Jazz have basically come out of nowhere to contend for a playoff spot. People are saying things like, "Whoa, where did the Jazz come from?" and "Hey, what are the Jazz doing in the top eight?" You know why? Because of Paul Millsap. He's averaging 16.5 points and 9.7 rebounds which aren't as gaudy as his power forward counterparts in the West, but definitely better than Dirk who has missed a good number of games and isn't playing close to his level.

Kyrie Irving

He's a rookie. He's playing for a not great team. But as Blake Griffin proved last season if your play is outstanding, those things aren't supposed to matter. Look at Irving's 21.66 PER. That's top 25 in the entire league. And he's exploded over the last month too. He's really blossoming into one of the East's very best point guard and with the reserves just having two point guards, Irving has a good case to be a third.

Kyle Lowry

The top snub in my mind. Lowry isn't just having an All-Star caliber season. He's having potentially an MVP caliber season. His numbers don't pop -- 14.7 ppg, 7.9 apg and 5.8 rpg -- but considering his importance to the now 15-11 Houston Rockets, he has to be considered one of the elite players in the West. It's tough because the Western team is already guard heavy and it would be tough to say Lowry should go ahead of Tony Parker or Steve Nash, but this shouldn't be about name recognition. It should be about this season and Lowry is having as good a year for a point guard as anyone in the conference not named Chris Paul or Russell Westbrook.
Posted on: February 8, 2012 7:13 pm
Edited on: February 9, 2012 4:54 pm
 

Kyrie Irving (concussion) still day-to-day

Kyrie Irving remains day-to-day. (Getty Images)
By Matt Moore and Ben Golliver 

Update (Thursday): The Cleveland Cavaliers issued a statement on Thursday, indicating that guard Kyrie Irving remains day-to-day after undergoing further examination as he awaits clearance under the NBA's new concussion policy. The Cavaliers next play on Friday night against the Milwaukee Bucks.

Original Post (Wednesday): The Cavaliers unexpectedly announced Wednesday night prior to the Cavaliers' game against the Clippers that Kyrie Irving sustained a concussion after a knee to the head Tuesday night versus the Heat

Irving was evaluated overnight and after being diagnosed with a concussion, is out Wednesday and considered day-to-day. There's no official timeline for his return, which is no surprise since concussion recovery times can wildly vary depending on severity and the ambiguous nature of the recovery process. 

Irving has posted a 21.6 PER this season, shooting 50 percent from the field, 40 percent from the perimeter, and 83 percent from the stripe, numbers which put him close to some of the best rookies in NBA history, while averaging 18 points and 5 assists for the surprising Cavs. 

The NBA has discussed in recent months a new policy procedure for handling concussions. 

Posted on: February 8, 2012 2:53 pm
Edited on: February 8, 2012 4:05 pm
 

NBA releases Rookie/Soph 'player pool'

Posted by Royce Young

Irving leads the rookie class in this year's reformatted Rookie Challenge. (Getty Images)

The NBA's Rookie Challenge is getting a facelift this season. Instead of just matching up rookies against second-year players, there will be a "player pool" in which two general managers -- Shaquille O'Neal and Charles Barkley -- to pick from. Which means the rookies and sophomores will be mixed.

The 18 players picked are (sophomores first): Blake Griffin, Landry Fields, DeMarcus Cousins, Paul George, Gordon Hayward, Greg Monroe, Tiago Splitter, Evan Turner and John Wall. From the rookie class, Kyrie Irving, Ricky Rubio, MarShon Brooks, Brandon Knight, Kawhi Leonard, Markieff Morris, Tristan Thompson, Kemba Walker and Derrick Williams.

No Iman Shumpert is definitely a snub though. NBA assistant coaches are the ones who voted on this list of players.

If Griffin indeed is playing, as one report says he is, he's the obvious No. 1 overall pick but after that, it'll be a little interesting. I imagine John Wall will be taken second, but Irving and Rubio have a shot at it.

Here's my rookie/sophomore big board:

1. Blake Griffin - Obvious top player. A franchise cornerstone where in this case, the franchise is a one-game exhibition no one really cares about.

2. John Wall - Maybe not having the best season for the struggling Wizards, but in this format could be the best player on the floor.

3. Kyrie Irving - Irving is maybe actually All-Star material. You can't go wrong taking him second overall, but if Griffin plays, an Irving-Griffin tandem is likely.

4. Ricky Rubio - Whoever has the No. 2 pick will likely be forced to pull a Kahn and take two point guards with his top two picks. But you can't pass on Rubio. Plus, a Wall-Rubio backcourt makes enough sense.

5. Greg Monroe - Every team needs a skilled big man and Monroe is the class of the class.

6. Paul George - You probably haven't noticed yet, but George is having a breakout season.

7. DeMarcus Cousins - Lucky for whoever takes Cousins, this is only one game and things like "character" and "chemistry" don't really factor in.

8. Evan Turner - It's not hard to see Turner excelling in this game. Good passer and a steady shooting guard that can score off the dribble.

9. Kemba Walker - Walker's versatility gives him value. He could play point or off the ball. And I bet he'll try a crossover so nasty in this game that it breaks someone in the crowd's ankles.

10. MarShon Brooks - It wouldn't shock me if Brooks ends up the high scorer in this game.

11. Derrick Williams - His jumper hasn't been as good as advertised thus far and he hasn't sniffed a breakout moment yet, but Williams might feel more at home against guys his own age.

12. Gordon Hayward - Now you're getting to the point where you're going off name recognition.

13. Kawhi Leonard - A good defender really isn't something that valuable in this game, but Leonard has a pretty solid outside touch.

14. Tristan Thompson - This isn't an indictment on Thompson as a player to have him this low, but in this format, I don't think he'll be much more than an alley-oop target and someone to grab rebounds that come directly to him.

15. Brandon Knight - Who wants a fifth point guard on their team?

16. Landry Fields - Pretty much the same explanation for Leonard could go right here.

17. Tiago Splitter - The biggest big man that needs the ball on the block to be effective. So who wants the boring post player?

18. Markieff Morris - I assume this is the better Morris because he was named to the pool. Bragging rights!
Posted on: February 1, 2012 12:34 am
 

Report Card 1.31.12: Grizz major in grind

Memphis storms back to get a big win over Nuggets and stop a losing streak. (Getty Images)

Your nightly report card wraps up the performances of the NBA night and provides grades on a curve. Tuesday night the Knicks found the cure for a night, the Grizzlies GrizzGrinded their way to a comeback, and the Celtics passed... barely. 

By Matt Moore

Memphis Grizzlies


The Grizzlies were lost for much of the first half, but got back to the constant effort and continual pressure that makes them a dangerous team. All of a sudden their offense began to click, Rudy Gay started to get it going in steals, threes, and dunks, and O.J. Mayo began making plays as well as scoring. Throw in some tremendous defense by Tony Allen, and the Grizzlies steal a key game from Denver to get back on track. The Nuggets kept hammering them with offense, and the Grizzlies needed every single second in this one to get th win. Memphis pulls up out of its tailspin of late.

New York Knicks


(by Ken Berger, CBSSports.com)

I grade them on a curve because they're playing, you know, the Pistons. But the time off (in addition to lack of defense) did wonders for Melo. The Knicks moved the ball better than they have in a while and got good (mostly uncontested) shots as a result.




Boston Celtics


They won. And outside of very few exceptions, if you win, you get a C- or better. So The Celtics get a C-, no better. They won, against a tough, gritty, feisty, whatever cliche term you want to use Cavs team. But the fourth quarter collapse was in effect again. Kyrie Irving gets two more shots that were awful close to drop and the Celtics are staring at their second meltdown against the Cavs in three days. Their offense gets out of control, their defense is the bigger concern. They continually have issues with defending inside in the last minutes of a game against pressure. They got the win. But there are problems still in Boston.

Danilo Gallinari

You've got to wonder if Gallo is injured. He simply did not have any part of his game working. Dribble, shooting, defense, rebounding, anything. If Gallinari plays any better the Nuggets likely win this game comfortably. Also wound up forcing other players to contribute more minutes, adding to exaustion with a tough schedule coming up.



Detroit Pistons



The Detroit Pistons, good for what ails you. Even the Knicks.
Posted on: January 30, 2012 5:58 pm
Edited on: January 30, 2012 6:02 pm
 

Baseline Awards: 1.30.12: Jumping over dudes

Lebron James is very good at basketball, it turns out. (Getty Images)

By Matt Moore


The Baseline Awards hand out congratulations and criticism for performances in the last week and provide standings for the major awards. This week the Heat are flying again, Rubio's dishing, Kyrie Irving is ridiculous, and the Magic are a train wreck. 

Eastern Conference Player of the Week: Best Overall performance by Eastern Player

LeBron James

He jumped over a dude. Yes, the dude is short. No, it was not Vince Carter over Weiss. He still jumped over a dude on an oop. Oh, and he averaged 26.5 points (only drug down by a poor game vs. Cleveland), 6 assists, 7.5 rebounds, and one steal. So, yeah, that guy's pretty good at basketball.

Western Conference Player of the Week: Best Overall performance by Western Player

Ricky Rubio

Wins over the Spurs and Mavericks, averaging 12 points, 11 assists, 5 rebounds. The wunderkind keeps impressing everyone from coast to coast. He's getting killed by Kyrie Irving in overall production and yet I'm betting a high number of people consider Rubio and Irving neck and neck in the rookie of the year race, that's how good Rubio has been.

Down on the Upside of the Week: Player with worst performance qualified for expectations

Raymond Felton

Felton's a better player than this. He really is. Felton is struggling from the field and finding teammates. He's not settled in, and seems unsure of his role. He hasn't established a chemistry with any of the Blazers' weapons. Andre Miller is flourishing in Denver, which only makes this worse.

DOMINATOR AWARD: Most dominant performance

Kyrie Irving

Irving's numbers are literally unheard of for a rookie. He's in rarefied air. Now, Tyreke Evans pulled this same trick and regressed, but after sinking the Celtics Sunday, Irving has put himself on the map. The kid is doing it all in every position. There's something special happening in Cleveland.

The "Titanic In 3-D: It's a disaster inside a disaster" award

Orlando Magic

This team was talked about as a sleep title contender (not by us, but "around") last week. This week they're a flaming pile of wreckage covered in sewage. Fifty-six points versus a struggling Celtics team, then a nice, comforting win over the Pacers... only to blow a 27-point lead at home to the Celtics on Thursday, followed by a shellacking by the Indiana Pacers. I would say this team is trying to force Dwight Howard to put them out of their misery, but that would be too easy on Howard who has also disappeared at key times. The Magic are taking on water right now in a season in which they have no margin of error.

The Puzzling Enigma Award: Strangest week from player or team

Memphis Grizzlies

Just when you think that team has it together, they get walloped by the Blazers on the third night of a back to back, and that was fine. But losing to Phoenix was an outright disaster. This team looked like it had found its footing, only to fall through the cracks. Three straight losses to end the week for the Grizzlies.

The Horde Award: Team you should fear

Milwaukee Bucks

We don't get it either. This team should, and probably will, fall apart without Andrew Bogut. But they miss Bogut with an injury and Stephen Jackson with a suspension, and go out and drop 100 points on the Lakers. Milwaukee's now won four of their last six and have scored 100 or more three times. Their offensive efficiency is up. No, we do not understand it, but we're starting to be concerned about the deer again.

Cub Scout Troop Award: Team you should not fear

Charlotte Bobcats. We thought they might not be so bad for a while there. Turns out, no, no, no, they are bad, bad, bad.

Searching For Bobby Fischer Award for Stratagem

Gregg Popovich for benching his starters and going solely to his bench unit vs. the Mavs. The young guns wound up scoring on 8 of 9 possessions in the fourth quarter and sparked a huge run that would have won them the game had it not been for Jason Terry's dramatics. There are only a handful of coaches that bold in this league, and Popovich is like, three of them.

Awkward Water Cooler Conversation Award for Coaching Struggle

Stan Van Gundy

We're not partial to the ridiculous superlatives or nicknames tossed out about SVG, who is truly one of the best coaches in the league. But it has not been a good week. His team has lacked discipline, composure, and effort. Things are unraveling in Orlando due to forces far beyond his control, but he's also unable to hold the reins this week.

Blog of the Week: 48 Minutes of Hell

This Spurs blog talks in nuanced terms about the silver and black, and features a video chat after each game. Interesting design as well.

MVP Rankings:

1. LeBron James: Again, he jumped over a dude.
2. Derrick Rose: Injuries are slowing him down and he's still doing this.
3. Dwight Howard: He's also LVP for sabotaging his team's season.
4. Kobe Bryant: By hook or by crook, Mamba will score 30.
5. Kevin Durant: Durant's a jumpshooter and he's shooting 51 percent. Think about that.
6. Chris Bosh: We know. We're stunned, too. But Bosh has honestly been the most consistent Heat player.
7. Russell Westbrook: On most any other team we're talking about how badly he deserves help.
8. Kyrie Irving: Oh, you think this is crazy You tell us how Cleveland's in the playoff picture.
9. Chris Paul: You get the feeling that if Paul wasn't saving himself for the playoffs he coul be right at the top with the Clippers.
10. LaMarcus Aldridge: Aldridge does everything for the Blazers and deserves a nod here.

Honorable Mention: Kevin Love

ROY Rankings:

1. Kyrie Irving: There has literally never been a rookie putting up the numbers Irving has, at least in the modern era of tracking stats. The fact that a horrid Cleveland team is competitive and Irving is taking over down the stretch should make traditional fans happy.
2. Ricky Rubio: You have never seen a player like this.
3. MarShon Brook: Brilliant scorer who scores.
4. Iman Shumpert: He is what he is.
5. Jon Leuer: Leuer has fallen off quite a bit and may not be listed next week.

6th Man of the Year Rankings:

1. James Harden: Just start him, Scott Brooks. You're ruining the curve.
2. Louis Williams: Louis' on fiyah.
3. Al Harrington: Still doing it all while Denver racks up wins, but a bad game against L.A. Sunday.
4. Jason Terry: Needs to go down as one of the best sixth men, ever.
5. Gary Neal: One of the most productive scorers off the bench in the league, who no one had heard of until last year.
Posted on: January 23, 2012 2:49 pm
Edited on: January 23, 2012 3:29 pm
 

Quarterly Report Awards: LeBron leads MVP

James leads the pack of first-quarter MVP candidates (Getty Images)


This lockout-shortened NBA season is already a quarter over for most teams, stunningly. It has been a crazy whirlwind under the compacted schedule, and we're seeing older teams like the Mavericks, Lakers, and Celtics struggle through it. Meanwhile, deep, younger teams like the Nuggets and Sixers are thriving, and yet the same powers that were expected to be at the top are, even with Miami fallen off a bit. So to get a fix on where we are this season, we thought we'd hand out some awards, roundtable-style. 

1. Who's your MVP?

Royce Young: LeBron James. The Heat lost their first game without Dwyane Wade this weekend, but still, they're 5-1 without him and that's pretty much because LeBron is still the best player in the world.

Matt Moore: I don't want to say LeBron James, because it seems too obvious, but I'm going to say LeBron James, because it's so obvious. No one takes over those first 46 minutes like he does, and without them, you don't get to the time where he has so many question marks.

Ben Golliver: We’ve exhausted the ways to explain LeBron James’ individual brilliance in recent years, but the modifications that he’s made to his game – slashing his three-point attempts, improving his mid-range shot, getting to the free throw line more than he did last season – plus ridiculous numbers (29.7 points, 8.3 rebounds, 7.3 assists, 2.1 blocks, 56.4 percent shooting) make this James’ best season to date. Give it to him so we don’t have to listen to arguments in 5-8 years about how many times he was snubbed, like we’re been hearing from droning Kobe Bryant fans since 2006.

2. If star power wasn't a factor, just straight out "who helps their team the most," who's your MVP?

Royce Young: Still LeBron. I think it became pretty obvious last season how valuable he is to a roster when the Cavs went from a contender to the longest losing streak in NBA history just with the subtraction of LeBron.

Matt Moore: I think it's a tie between Gerald Wallace and Andre Iguodala. Both of those guys do such a phenomenal job in every facet of the game for their teams, and the wins and losses often correspond to how they come out. They're so active with and without the ball and make so many plays for their teams, they have a ridiculous level of impact on their teams, even if James is a superior player.

Ben Golliver: James’ PER ranking is 8 full points above the nearest competition (35 to Bryant’s 27) and he’s carried the Heat in Dwyane Wade’s absence due to injury, so his claim to “helping his team most” to date is essentially indisputable.

3. Is ROY a two-man race already?

Royce Young: Not yet. Ricky Rubio is the first quarter ROY, and Kyrie Irving is right there with him, but don't count out Kemba Walker and even Brandon Knight, who had quietly been playing well in Detroit early on.

Matt Moore: Rubio is drawing comments from people who say he is unlike anything they've ever seen and Irving is statistically dominant in nearly every category. If there were an award for Rookie to wind up making the most impact on wins and losses, I'd go with Kawhi Leonard, who will be making life very unhappy for some team in the playoffs.

Ben Golliver: We’ve definitely got the Ricky Rubio vs. Kyrie Irving two-headed monster that we expected, but the twist is that both the Timberwolves (11th in West) and the Cavaliers (9th in East) are fringe-y playoff teams rather than conference basement dwellers. Team performance could easily be the deciding factor.

4. If James Harden was starting like he should, who would be your sixth man of the year?

Royce Young: It's a close race between Al Harrington and Lou Williams. Both impact their teams greatly when they step onto the floor.

Matt Moore: Al Harrington. Harrington's ability to score anywhere on the floor combined with his active defense make him the prime candidate and it's not close.

Ben Golliver: Mo Williams of the Clippers has dealt with some injuries but has put up 14.5 points and 3.9 assists while shooting the ball extremely well (53.8 percent from the field and 44.8 percent from deep) during the season’s first month.

5. Who wins "worst coaching performance?"

Royce Young: Paul Westphal. Getting fired kind of seals your fate by default, doesn't it? But Westphal, who is a good basketball mind, just couldn't connect with his young team and lost them. That's not doing a good job.

Matt Moore: It pains me to say this because I think he's limited by his roster and will work out in the long-run for the Pistons, but Lawrence Frank has disappointed. Signing veterans with limite upside and impact isn't his fault, but relying on them is. The pieces are there for the Pistons to come together, but it simply hasn't so far this year.

Ben Golliver: I’ll give it to Flip Saunders of the Washington Wizards, if only because he was blown off so blatantly by referee Danny Crawford during this argument. He should have already been fired.

6. If we were giving an award for "strategic adjustment" by a team, who wins?

Royce Young: Rick Adelman has done the best job of any coach so far this season. The Wolves are finally organized offensively and he smartly managed the Rubio starting situation. He gave him time to ease in and made the move to start him before it became a nagging issue that was a constant topic of discussion.

Matt Moore: I'm going with Doug Collins' use of his bench. Deploying them as units and then integrating based on what's working in-game has been genius. Honorable mention to George Karl's two-point-guard lineup.

Ben Golliver: Completely disregarding defense was getting played out, so props to Mike D’Antoni’s Knicks for switching it up and completely disregarding offense.

7. Who has the best defense in the league, team and player?

Royce Young: The Bulls have easily been the best defense. Teams are having trouble cracking 80 on them for crying out loud. At home, they've held four teams to under 70. Best player, I'm giving credit to Andre Iguodala who had been terrific defending the perimeter so far this year.

Matt Moore: Chicago has the best team defense, but the Sixers' more basic, very stable set is a strong candidate as well. Dwight's the obvious pick, but with the Magic's overall defense not as hot, how about the Clippers' DeAndre Jordan? A block machine. He still overreaches on help at times, but overall he's been nearly dominant down low.

Ben Golliver: I think we’re at the same place we were last year: Chicago has proven itself to be the NBA’s best defense while Magic center Dwight Howard (16.1 rebounds, 2.3 blocks per game) is in a category all his own when it comes to individual accomplishments and impact.

Andre Iguodala has helped the Sixers to a surprisingly strong start. (Getty Images)
8. What wins "best storyline" for you?

Royce Young: The 76ers and Pacers quiet rise to contendership. Both teams don't really have any starpower and might not be able to sustain this success through the year, but they're playing well right now and positioning for a high seed in the East.

Matt Moore: The Knicks, Celtics, and Lakers falling apart like a flan in a cupboard. Nothing is more scinitllating that star-studded teams in big markets collapsing.

Ben Golliver: The Denver Nuggets and the Utah Jazz being so much better than the New York Knicks and New Jersey Nets, the teams who made blockbuster moves for Carmelo Anthony and Deron Williams at least year’s deadline.

9. Best free agent signing, first-quarter?

Royce Young: David West. He's given the Pacers exactly what they needed. An extra scoring option and someone to rely upon late in games for a big basket.

Matt Moore: Marc Gasol. Cheap out as he was re-signed, but Gasol has been even better than last year and looks like the franchise center he's being paid to be. Memphis made out huge with that deal.

Ben Golliver: Among the teams with the top records in the league, the Pacers adding David West – solidifying them as a likely top-4 team in the East – and the Clippers nabbing the amnestied Chauncey Billups – giving them a foul-drawing machine and a stand-in replacement when Chris Paul gets injured, both merit acknowledgement.

10. Who is the best team in the league?

Royce Young: Chicago. The Bulls are a bit boring -- especially when Derrick Rose doesn't play -- but you can't ignore how they're just hammering on people right now. Scoring against Chicago is a full on chore and with Luol Deng playing great, Carlos Boozer looking better and of course having Rose ready to carry the load when needed, the Bulls appear to have the total package.

Matt Moore: The Miami Heat. I know what the records say. I know how good Chicago and the Thunder have looked. But the Heat at their best are a better team than they were last year. OKC doesn't look as good, and Chicago is the same. Look me in the eye and tell me you're confident either of those teams can knock off the Heat if it's best vs. best. Chicago or OKC can both win the championship this season. The Heat are still the best team.

Ben Golliver: The Bulls are No. 2 in defense, No. 6 on offense and No. 1 in rebounding; their closest competition, the Thunder, are ranked No. 5, No. 14 and No. 16 in those categories. So far, this one isn’t as close as the records might indicate. I think Orlando – riding Howard and their point generating machine of an offense -- is a strong dark horse.
Posted on: January 23, 2012 10:46 am
Edited on: January 24, 2012 12:08 pm
 

Byron Scott calls out Kyrie Irving's defense

Posted by Royce Young

Playing point guard in the NBA isn't easy. Especially if you're rookie.

You've already got enough to worry about like setting up teammates, creating scoring opportunities and picking when to get your own. And that's before worrying about the other end.

Which seems to be a bit of an issue with Cavs rookie Kyrie Irving. He's forgetting that other end. Via Cleveland.com:
[Byron] Scott met with his rookie point guard Saturday in Atlanta to discuss the youngster's lax defense, which has been a source of consternation for the coach since the season started. In his most pointed comments to date, Scott said Irving's minutes won't increase until the No. 1 overall draft pick elevates his defensive intensity.

[...]

If Watson can, as Scott said, "go around [Irving] like he was standing still," imagine what trouble Rose or other elite point guards will cause him.

"You are going to run into a guy every night that can play and if you are not ready or you're lazy or you're just not into it, you are going to get eaten up," Scott said. "When he starts playing better defense and playing at the pace I want him at -- getting the ball up and down the floor the way he's capable of doing -- then his minutes will increase."

That's not sugarcoating it. That's coming after your rookie pretty hard. Which is often what guys need. They need to be told that yeah, it's great you're scoring and passing but there are two parts to this game. And if you're only going to play one, then you're not going to play at all.

Byron Scott has always been a bit tougher on guards to play defense because it's part of who he is. He was a good defender himself and approaches the game with the mind that playing good defense comes first.

Irving is obviously the future of the Cavs and Scott just wants him maximizing his potential, on both ends. Scott wants him pushing the ball, playing free and creating, but he also wants him defending. When you're getting ragged on because C.J. Watson tore you up, like Scott said, what happens when Rose is healthy next time?

Posted on: January 16, 2012 5:39 pm
Edited on: January 17, 2012 12:11 am
 

Report Card: Anderson and Orlando work some magic

Posted by Royce Young and 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.

Ryan Anderson and the Magic

Orlando might've picked up its best win of the season Monday in New York and the Magic did it behind Ryan Anderson's scoring barrage. Anderson has emerged as a legit option for the Magic and with Dwight Howard inside, Anderson, a finesse power forward, can afford to play on the perimeter. It's really a pretty perfect pairing, much in the way Rashard Lewis worked well playing alongside Howard. Anderson went for 30 against the Knicks and did it with seven 3-pointers. -- RY

Kyrie Irving

Irving closed out the Bobcats with a series of dervish inside moves and layups. His handle and confidence improves every game and he's now distributing as well. Ricky Rubio has all the hype but right now Irving needs to at least share the lead for ROY. The Cavaliers keep winning, surprisingly, and it looks more and more like they have a star to build around. He's got great control over his body in mid-air and his shooting is surprisingly on target for a rookie. He took the team on his back to get the win Monday, and that's exactly what the Cavs want to see. -- MM

Russell Westbrook and the Thunder

That's six straight for Oklahoma City, but how about Westbrook? He drilled back-to-back 3-pointers in crunchtime, scored 26 points and made plays all over the court in Boston for the Thunder. He was helped obviously by Kevin Durant (28 points) but the unusual suspect of Thabo Sefolosha stepped up with 19 points on 7-9 shooting. The Celtics were a desperate team Monday looking for a win to hang their hat on and OKC did what needed to be done. Impressive victory for the team now with the league's best record.

Memphis Grizzlies

The bad: the third quarter where the Grizzlies let a 25-point lead evaporate. But other than that, which was largely fueled by a free throw disparity and C.J. Watson stealing the spirit of Derrick Rose who missed the game with turf toe, the Grizzlies were brilliant. Rudy Gay scored 24 points, his third 20-plus points game. The offensive flow was working and they hustled defensively. Memphis has won three straight and is back to ball hawking in the passing lanes to force turnovers. Rose's absence was of course the difference. -- MM

John Wall

It's not his fault his team stinks. OK, maybe it's kind of his fault because as the de facto "star," he's supposedly to lift everyone else to a higher place. But still, against the Rockets Monday, he did what he could do. Wall went for 38 points, eight assists and six rebounds but didn't get much else from his fellow starters who scored a combined 30 points as the Wizards lost to Houston. -- RY

Zone

The Magic dropped into a zone, and much the same way the zone has jacked with the Heat's star-powered lineups, it clogged up the works. It makes sense if you think about it. Teams with star power that don't have competent shooters are going to struggle when the athleticism is compromised and more pressure is applied by angling the zone to the star players. Zone is seldom used in the NBA, but the playoffs could have a ton of it this year. -- MM

Sixers Distribution

Against a very good defensive team in Milwaukee, the Sixers had four players in double digits. The Sixers aren't beating teams with star power, they're beating teams with coaching, execution, and depth. It's really important to note now how good this Sixers team is because if they're playing this well in May, they're going to make a run and stun some teams. They have a great bench scorer, they have a solid all-around frontcourt, they have a do-it-all forward in Iguodala playing the best ball of his career. Fear the Sixers. -- MM

Boston Celtics

The Celtics were competitive and actually had a chance to beat one of the best, if not the best team in the league Monday, but were bitten by the unlikely barrage of 3-pointers from Thabo Sefolosha and Russell Westbrook. It has to be a tad encouraging that the Celtics were ready, played good defense and really pounded the glass. Still they lost their fifth straight and their four wins are against Washington (twice), New Jersey and Detroit. -- RY

Chicago Bulls

The Bulls without Rose reverted back to a largely inefficient team, but more concerning was their lack of defense as the Grizzlies relentlessly attacked the rim. Essentially, unless Omer Asik was in, the rim was vulnerable. The question has to be asked for the hundreth time, if the Bulls would be better off with Taj Gibson starting, and now Asik is angling for the job of Joakim Noah. Noah was particularly bad, getting outworked and outsmarted by Marc Gasol and dunked on by Rudy Gay in space, while missing layups. Rose is the reason they lost, but there was a lot not to like for Chicago. -- MM

Carmelo Anthony

He returned to the Knicks. He scored 33 points but did it in 9-27 shooting and New York lost to the Magic. So a pretty Melo day all around. (Get it? Melo... You get it.) -- RY


The Hornets

Here's the starting five the Hornets rolled out against Portland: Jarrett Jack, Marco Belinelli, Emeka Okafor, Jason Smith and DaJuan Summers. Does that strike you as a competitive NBA team? Jack led the Hornets in scoring with 21 points, but my goodness does that team need Eric Gordon back. A lot of teams are fun to watch even when they're bad because of young players or because it's comical, but the Hornets don't really even have interesting players right now. -- RY
 
 
 
 
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