TrueHoop: Danny Granger
- When is it cool or not cool to boo your own player on his home court? The jeers for Andrea Bargnani have grown increasingly loud at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto. Blake Murphy of Raptors Republic writes that as bad as Bargnani has been this season, the former No. 1 overall draft pick hasn't crossed the Vince Carter threshold in Toronto and shouldn't be subject to the home boo. Eric Koreen of The National Post says that while Bargnani is a reasonable target, the booing borders on the absurd when fans start killing a guy because he got caught with a hand grenade at the shot clock buzzer and fired up a desperation heave: "When fans boo him without cause, the valid points get lost. The booing is not helping, as Bargnani is shooting just 30% at home this year compared to 47% on the road."
- There was an active Twitter argument today about weather as a factor in free agency. To that effect, here's what "relaxing after practice" in February looks like in Los Angeles. And here's what coming home from a long February road trip looks like in Miami.
- Steve McPherson of Hardwood Paroxysm on dunks in the digital age: "[G]reat dunks are not strictly physical acts carried out in three-dimensional space before disappearing into an unrediscoverable past. They are not simply performed, but witnessed, recorded, replayed, ingrained in our memories. They are spontaneously generated, but not out of the void, not from nothingness. They instead occur where the ley lines of practice, talent, chance, the known and the unknown converge to create something larger than life. In this way, they are less part of a game and more akin to musical improvisation."
- Let's say you and your teammates make a pact to not shave until the team gets to .500. What happens if you get traded? Dahntay Jones, who went from Dallas to Atlanta at the deadline, is sticking with the pledge even though he's no longer a Maverick [Hat Tip: Rob Mahoney of The Point Forward].
- At Friday's MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, Kirk Goldsberry and Eric Weiss will be presenting a paper that takes a hard look at how to evaluate interior defense. The Bucks' Larry Sanders plays prominently in the study.
- Big guys tend to get passed over in final-possession situations at the end of games. Down one in that situation on Saturday night, the Hawks inbounded the ball to Al Horford. The play calls for a hand-off to Devin Harris, but as Peachtree Hoops shows us in pictures, Horford opted to keep the ball and back down Larry Sanders one-on-one. Horford was aggressive on the drive and found an easy bank shot from the right side to win the game for Atlanta.
- After an 0-for-8 start from the field in his season debut on Saturday, Danny Granger drains his ninth attempt and the Pacers' bench goes berserk.
- Michael Pina, writing for The Classical, on Kenneth Faried: "Pull any possession from Faried’s career and in some order he will soar, crash, overheat, and explode. Catch him at the right (or wrong?) moment, and all these things will seem as if they're happening at once. He seems to be enjoying himself, and he is already very effective, but he also plays with all dials squarely in the red. But to look at Faried and wonder what will happen when he "learns how to play" doesn’t quite work, either. Faried will get better—in areas like boxing out, setting screens, learning a post-move or two, and gaining overall insight on the defensive end—if not likely to the point of reinvention. He will never be Tim Duncan. This is not necessarily a bad thing, and those responsibilities will never intersect. His job, to stick with the tautological statement thing, will be to be himself, and he will always do it better than anyone else could."
- Jarrett Jack God Mode is a thing in Oakland.
- Stephen Jackson: Less impressed with In-and-Out Burger than your average Spur or Californian.
- The Basketball Jones took a Twitter meme on the road to Houston, asking NBA players (and Russell Westbrook himself) whether Westbrook is a cat or a dog. Watching the video, you get the sense there are some macho implication at work here, as some of the responses suggest that portraying a fellow player as feline is emasculating.
Michael Hickey/US Presswire LeBron James has at least 30 points, 10 rebounds, and 8 assists in back-to-back postseason games.
Haslem has also been a spark off the Heat's bench in the last three games, scoring double figures in each of the last two. In three games Haslem has come off the bench this postseason, Miami averages 25.7 bench points. In seven games Haslem started, the Heat have gotten only 16.1 points from their bench.
With Dexter Pittman also suspended, the best option for the Heat is likely Ronny Turiaf, as his +13 this series is the highest among the Heat's available big men for Game 6. In this series, Turiaf has played only 65 minutes in five games. However, when he's been on the court, the Heat have outscored the Pacers by 13 points. Miami has also limited Indiana to just 33 percent shooting when he's playing. Also available in the frontcourt are Joel Anthony (+7) and Juwan Howard (+5).
Overall, the Heat appear to be in good position to advance. In NBA history, teams that have held a 3-2 lead in a best-of-seven series have gone on to win the series 85.9 percent of the time, including 4-0 in the First Round this postseason. In addition, the Pacers have never come back to win a best-of-seven series after trailing 3-2 (according to Elias they are 0-8 all-time).
James has been a prime reason why the Heat can close out the series tonight. He has recorded at least 30 points, 10 rebounds, and eight assists in back-to-back postseason games, and if he matches those numbers in Game 6, he will become the first player in NBA history to do so in three consecutive postseason games.
History says James will have another strong performance tonight. According to Elias, James has scored at least 20 points in each of the last 11 potential playoff series-clinching games on the road, the second-longest current streak of any player in the league, behind only Kobe Bryant (19).
Meanwhile, Danny Granger (sprained ankle) has said that he will start Game 6. His play will be crucial, as he has been much better at home this series than on the road (averaging over nine points more at home).
What's more, the combination of himself, Paul George, Roy Hibbert, George Hill and David West have outscored opponents by 75 points when on the court together, the highest of any five-man lineup on any team this postseason.
A key for Indiana will be on the boards. The Pacers have outrebounded the Heat 102-76 in their wins in Games 2 and 3, but have lost the battle on the boards in their losses in Games 4 and 5 (outrebounded 96-73). When Hibbert is on the court, the Pacers are +15 rebounding, but with him off are -19.
Michael Hickey/US PresswireThe Pacers starting five has given LeBron James and the Heat fits in the first three games.
Indiana’s starting five of Paul George, Danny Granger, Roy Hibbert, George Hill and David West has been the most successful five-man lineup in this year’s postseason. It has a better plus-minus, has scored more points and has a better rebounding margin than any other five-man lineup in the playoffs.
In eight postseason games, Indiana's starting five has outscored its opponents by 79 points and outrebounded them by 68.
During the regular season, George, Granger, Hibbert, Hill and West started just eight games together, and the Pacers were 7-1 in those games. They played just 229 minutes together and outscored their opponents by 72 points.
In the playoffs, they’ve already played together for 176 minutes, and the formula continues to be successful.
This postseason, Indiana’s starting five:
• Has more than double the second-chance points (70) of any other five-man lineup. (Second are the Lakers and Magic with 30.)
• Leads all lineups in points in the paint (152) and points off turnovers (58).
• Has outscored its opponents by 56 points in the paint (152-96), has 30 more second-chance points (74-44) and 18 more fast-break points (42-24).
When George, Granger, Hibbert, Hill and West were on the court in Game 3, they outscored the Heat 68-40.
The starting five shot 52 percent from the field (including 6-of-10 on 3-pointers) and outrebounded the Heat 32-15. That lineup held the Heat to 33 percent shooting from the field and 1-of-10 on 3-point attempts. They also outscored the Heat 13-0 on second-chance points.
Every other Pacers lineup was outscored by nine.
Since the 2008 playoffs, only four lineups have finished with a plus-minus that’s been as good as Indiana’s +79. Three of those teams reached the NBA Finals and two won the NBA championship, including the Mavericks’ lineup last year of Tyson Chandler, Jason Kidd, Shawn Marion, Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry.
Statistical support for this story from NBA.com.
Garrett W. Ellwood/NBAE/Getty Images
The cameras caught Tony Parker in mid-flop.
HoopIdea wants to #StopTheFlop. To spotlight the biggest fakers, we present Flop of the Night. You can help us separate the pretenders from the defenders -- details below:
Today we bring you not one, not two, but three egregious flops from two of the game's finest players.
LeBron James is the most dominant athlete in the NBA, capable of leveling an entire team with an inspired run of unstoppable drives to the rim. So his willingness to exaggerate contact tends to drive fans nuts. Last night James found himself trapped against the sideline with David West and Danny Granger closing in on him. Out of any other options, and unprompted by contact, he essentially fell out of bounds (video) to preserve possession.
It happened right in front of ESPN's Mike Tirico, who called LeBron's performance "an extraordinary swan dive."
Not to be outdone, Tony Parker proved to Chris Paul and Blake Griffin that when it comes to flopping they still have much to learn. Parker's first flop came when a nudge from Chris Paul sent him careening to the floor (video).
The call was a big one -- it put Paul on the bench with three first half fouls.
But his best flopping work (Video) of the night came just 20 seconds later, and at the expense of Blake Griffin.
After chasing down a loose ball in the back court, Parker had only a handful of seconds to recover possession and get off a shot before the shotclock expired. Wary of this fact, Griffin chased him along the sideline to force Parker to use up the clock.
Instead, Parker used Blake's effort to draw a foul and rescue the possession.
With the benefit of replay, ABC play-by-play man Dan Shulman explained that instead of being fouled, "Tony Parker initiated that contact. He grabbed the arm of Blake Griffin, and made it look like he was being grabbed."
But the official who made the call was trailing the play, and only saw Parker's "reaction," not the shenanigans that prompted his wild flailing.
When you see an egregious flop that deserves proper recognition, send us a link to the video so we can consider it for Flop of the Night. Here's how to make your submission:
According to Elias, the Clippers are the sixth team in NBA history to win Game 7 on the road after relinquishing a 3-1 series lead. It was only the third postseason series win in the franchise’s 42-year history and second since the club moved to the West Coast from Buffalo for the 1978-79 season.
The key to Sunday’s win was the defense. The Clippers held the Grizzlies to 72 points. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that’s the second-fewest points allowed on the road in Game 7 during the shot-clock era. The Indiana Pacers beat the Boston Celtics 97-70 in the 1st Round of the 2005 playoffs.
The biggest improvement was in transition defense. In Game 6, the Grizzlies outscored the Clippers 24-11 and made all eight shots in transition. On Sunday, the Grizzlies made only two of nine shots in transition and were outscored 16-6. In their four wins, the Clippers allowed nine points per game in transition; in defeat, that number climbed to 20 points per game.
The Clippers bench outscored the Grizzlies 41-11, with the five players off the bench all finishing with a positive plus-minus. During the 10 minutes that the five bench players were on the court together, they outscored the Grizzlies by 10 points.
The Clippers and Lakers both advancing to the Western Conference Semifinals creates a logjam on the schedule at Staples Center next weekend. With the Los Angeles Kings still alive in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the arena will host four basketball games and two hockey games from Thursday through Sunday, including doubleheaders on Saturday and Sunday.
The Lakers (Friday and Saturday) and Clippers (Saturday and Sunday) will both be playing on consecutive days. Our friends at Elias let us know that this will be the first time an NBA team has played playoff games on consecutive days since May 10-11, 2003. The Dallas Mavericks played the Sacramento Kings and Detroit Pistons played the Philadelphia 76ers on both of those dates.
Notes from South Beach
Chris Bosh left the game with an abdominal strain in the second quarter, but that didn’t slow down the Miami Heat. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade combined for 42 points in the second half, outscoring the Indiana Pacers on their own. In the fourth quarter, James had 16 points to match the Pacers’ output.
LeBron joined Shaquille O’Neal as the only players in Heat history with a 30-point, 15-rebound playoff game.
After averaging 21.4 points per game in the 1st Round, Danny Granger scored seven points in the first game against the Heat. He was held scoreless in the first half for the first time since April 10, 2007 (regular season and playoffs combined).
The Pacers have had a pair of unsuccessful trips to South Florida this season, getting blown out by 35 on Jan. 4 and losing on a Dwyane Wade buzzer-beater on March 10. The 35-point loss was the Pacers' worst in more than two years.
Pacers leading scorer Danny Granger was held to just six points and made 2 of 13 shots from the field in that loss, a major reason he averaged just 13.3 points against the Heat in the regular season, more than five points below his team-best 18.7 scoring average.
While Granger was one of five Pacers to average at least 10 points per game in the regular season, no Miami Heat player topped that level outside of the team’s All-Star trio of Wade, Chris Bosh and LeBron James, who led Miami with 27.1 points per game.
For the seventh time in seven attempts, James was able to lead his team to a series win in the first round of the postseason this year. But things are about to get tougher for the three-time MVP.
While James is unbeaten in seven first-round series, his team has lost three of his six conference semifinal series, dropping a seven-game series to the Detroit Pistons in 2006 and losing to the Boston Celtics in 2008 and 2010.
It will be strength against strength when James and the Heat attack the Pacers with the pick-and-roll. Miami averaged 0.94 points per play with the pick-and-roll in the regular season, sixth best in the NBA. But Indiana defended the pick-and-roll nearly as well as anyone, allowing just 0.86 points per pick-and-roll play, fourth best in the league.
A better bet for the Heat might be to dump the ball down low to Bosh or have James set up on the block. Indiana allowed 0.91 points per play in post-up situations in the regular season, better than just five teams.
Indiana’s offensive balance is undoubtedly an asset at times, but the lack of a go-to scorer has hurt the Pacers late in close game this season.
Indiana has made just 2 of 12 game-tying or go-ahead shots in the final 24 seconds of a game this season, with six different players attempting such a shot. Granger and Paul George lead the Pacers with three shots each in such situations, but neither has made a game-tying or go-ahead bucket in the final 24 seconds this season.
While the Heat’s end-of-game struggles have been more scrutinized, the Pacers have first-hand knowledge that Wade has emerged as the Heat’s most reliable option late in close games. Wade’s game winner against the Pacers on March 10 was one of his three game-tying or go-ahead buckets in the final 24 seconds this season.
Miami’s problem is if it can’t get it to Wade in such situations. While Wade was 3-for-6 on game-tying or go-ahead field goals in the final 24 seconds this season, the rest of the team was a combined 3-for-10.
Well it finally happened. Danny Granger has the honor: He's the first Flop of the Night recipient to cause a classic NBA quasi-brawl.
You could see this one coming. A series of tough calls off the ball had Larry Sanders fuming before Danny Granger finally put him over the edge.
As Sanders chased Roy Hibbert across the paint, Granger slid in to set a cross-screen, which is supposed to be still. On the replay, you can see Granger's is moving into Sanders' path (and it seems like you can hear Sanders yell "he moved!" after the whistle). And when Granger finds contact, he goes down immediately, prompting Sanders' disqualification (it was sixth foul) and, eventually, his ejection.
Does this look like our usual theatrical flops? No, Granger definitely takes some contact. But this one gets the award because it spotlights just how advantageous falling down can be. Granger is out of position the whole way, but because he ends up on his back, he winns a whistle and an ejection.
It's also an important lesson for Sanders, who was doing his best to play tough defense against a bigger opponent: in the NBA, it can be better to flop on contact than it is to fight through it.
For his part, Sanders does seem to understand that it's better to act like you want to fight than actually tangle with David West.
When you see an egregious flop that deserves proper recognition, send us a link to the video so we can consider it for Flop of the Night. Here's how to make your submission:
Granger is 1-for-4 this season on field goal attempts with 10 or fewer seconds remaining and his team tied or trailing by three or fewer points.
In fact, this marked the third time in 10 such attempts that a Pacer player made a field goal in that situation this season.
Granger would not have had the opportunity if not for Carmelo Anthony, who tied the game on a layup with less than eight seconds remaining.
Anthony is 5-for-7 this season on field goal attempts with 10 or fewer seconds remaining and his team tied or trailing by three or fewer points, including 2-for-2 since joining the Knicks.
A developing story from the home-and-home series between these teams was the emergence of Tyler Hansbrough, who scored a career-high 30 points Tuesday. This coming just two nights after scoring a then career-best 29 points against the Knicks at Madison Square Garden.
Hansbrough, no stranger to big games in the month of March from his days at North Carolina, has seen his scoring jump to over 20 points per game this month while shooting over 50 percent from the field.
Of most importance to the Pacers, though, is the fact that the win moves Indiana a half-game ahead of the Charlotte Bobcats for the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference.
The Pacers also hold the edge in the season series with the Bobcats, 3-0.
As for the Knicks, the loss drops them to 1-4 against opponents with sub-.500 records since trading for Carmelo Anthony, with all four losses coming to the Cavaliers and Pacers. New York is 5-2 against opponents with a record .500 or better since the trade.
Elsewhere around the NBA:
• A win over the Washington Wizards moved the Chicago Bulls a half-game ahead of the Celtics for first place in the Eastern Conference. Our friends at Elias tell us that this is the first time the Bulls have been in first place in the conference this late in the season since the 1997-98 campaign, Michael Jordan's last season with the Bulls and Chicago's last championship season.
• JaVale McGee of the Wizards recorded the first triple-double comprised of points, rebounds and blocks since Dwight Howard did so in November of 2008. McGee finished with 11 points, 12 rebounds and 12 blocks. The 12 blocks were the most in a game since Keon Clark (12) in March 2001, and the most in a triple-double since Shawn Bradley had 13 blocks to go along with 22 points and 22 rebounds in April 1998.
• The Dallas Mavericks shot 59.7 percent from the field in their loss to the Portland Trail Blazers. That marked the highest field goal percentage by any team in a loss this season, and according to Elias it was the third-highest field goal percentage in a loss in Mavericks franchise history.
LeBron James scored 17 points, his lowest total since October 29th and just the second time in his last 19 games he's scored fewer than 20 points.
Miami is now 10-1 this season when allowing 90 points or fewer and 4-7 when allowing more than 90.
During their five-game win streak, the Heat are allowing 82.2 points per game as opposed to 98.0 points per game in their previous five games, four of them losses.
Elsewhere around the NBA:
FROM THE ELIAS SPORTS BUREAU: Amar'e Stoudemire scored 34 points and made 15 of 23 shots in the Knicks’ win on Monday. It’s the fifth straight game in which Stoudemire has scored at least 30 points while making at least 50 percent of his field goals, tying a Knicks record. Bernard King had two five-game streaks in the 1984–85 season in which he scored at least 30 points and made at least half his shots from the floor.
FROM THE ELIAS SPORTS BUREAU: The Bulls held the Thunder to 29 field goals on 82 shots on Monday, 35.4 percent. That ties Oklahoma City’s third-lowest field-goal percentage in any game over the last three seasons (since the start of the 2008–09 season).
FROM THE ELIAS SPORTS BUREAU: The Hawks defeated the Magic in Orlando on Monday, 80–74. Orlando had won 66 of its previous 70 home games when allowing fewer than 90 points.
FROM THE ELIAS SPORTS BUREAU: Roy Hibbert and Josh McRoberts each had six assists and Danny Granger had five in the Pacers’ win over the Raptors on Monday. It’s the first time since Feb. 1, 2008 that a team had at least five assists from all three members of its starting frontcourt; the Lakers were the last team to do it, with a starting trio of Ronny Turiaf, Vladimir Radmanovic and Lamar Odom.
Unless you want a whomping.
In The New York Times, Jonathan Abrams tells the story of the Pacers' Danny Granger, who -- did you know? -- turned down an offer to play for Yale. This, despite coming from one of the worst neighborhoods in Louisiana.
A key figure in all such stories is Danny Granger, Sr.
When Granger was about 8, Danny Granger Sr., who made his living with his hands, bought the land next to the family's house and built a basketball court. He did not necessarily envision his son as a future All-Star. There was simply no safe place nearby to shoot hoops.
The Grangers -- who included Danny; his brother, Scotty; and their sister, Jamie -- lived in a pocket known as the Dump because it was built on a landfill.
There were drugs. There were prostitutes. Occasionally, the Grangers went to sleep to the soundtrack of gunfire. Some neighborhoods are bad. "Mine," Granger Jr. said, "was extra bad."
Although problems seethed all around them, the Granger children were largely incubated in a bubble formed by their father. Nearly everyone knew him, from working men to drug dealers. And they all knew that he drew a line with his children that could not be crossed.
His wrath reached beyond the family. "I would have found who the dealer was who was trying to push something onto my kid, too," Granger Sr. said. "That's the type of person I am."
He raised his children with tough love. If they lied, they were disciplined. If they stayed out late, they were disciplined. Usually, it came with a whomping, the way he was punished as a child.
Danny excelled in the classroom. He was a curious child but had a mild personality, rarely daring to test the house limits. "I was so afraid of getting disciplined for doing something bad that it kept me from doing it," he said.
He slipped once.
He has a scar on one of his legs, the result of a bullet that ricocheted off a street and hit him when he was about 12. "Two streets from where I lived," he said. "Somewhere where I wasn't supposed to be at. I was lucky."
He did not press his luck with his father. Instead, he bandaged himself up. The two have never discussed the incident. Granger Jr. said his father learned of it secondhand.
"I have never heard that from Danny's mouth," Granger Sr. said. "I had heard it from hearsay. But I'm going to ask him about that."
Posted by Kevin Arnovitz
Welcome to the post-kryptonite world. The arena is buzzier tonight. Security is more officious. In the media workroom, the tube is tuned to 48 Hours as the press corps warms up their laptops. As of 5:30 MST, Allen Iverson has lost 20 pounds of hair. Amare Stoudemire is still starting for the Western Conference All-Stars. And the U.S. Airways Arena facilities staff is collecting cardboard boxes from concessions and setting them outside Terry Porter's office.
We're ready for the main event -- the 58th NBA All-Star Game.
Follow along, won't you...
Gheorghe Muresan has just paid his respects to press row. It's Maryland Nighthawks Appreciation Night at US Airways Arena
The All-Stars have taken the floor...they then begin to hurl plastic mini-basketballs into the crowd. I think Paul Pierce knocked a 7 year old in Section 113 unconscious
For what it's worth, Michael Rappaport is wearing a very cool Tribe-Low End Theory tee.
Okay. The Matchup... Looking strictly at depth, the West has the advantage...
But if you consider an 8-man rotation and the lineups that would be on the court in crunch time of a meaningful game, the East has the slight edge.
As we wait, let's pose another question: Forget the voters. You're the coach handed this collection of talent for the respective squads: Who do you start?
EAST: PG -- Harris...SG -- Wade...SF -- James...PF...Garnett...C...Howard. Objections?
WEST: PG -- Paul...Wings .... Roy and Bryant....PF: Duncan...C: Ming.
Re: Dirk at the 3. I love it offensively. But we've seen far too many blow-bys in the past 10 years when he's been assigned to quicker wings, haven't we. In the context of this game, can you see Dirk on LeBron
The Big Phantom!
Incredible comic choreography
Sort of like the opening credits to Season 2 of Cosby, with each character doing interpretive dance.
West: Much more sober. [exception: Shaq].
James/Stoudemire most intriguing matchup
Also, very complimentary centers. Yao has a well-drawn game on the low block while Howard, though certainly a more refined post player than his early days, relies on athleticism and less on footwork and fundamentals.
Yao can change a shot better than any center in the league.
Kobe didn't chase DWade back along the baseline. Probably a bad idea.
Paul can find anyone anywhere at any time.
Paul Pierce is delivering a constant play-by-play.
Pierce about to check in.
East going small
New fun matchup: Dirk/Pierce
That is the first and only time you'll hear the shot clock buzzer tonight.
East got the switch they wanted. Pierce bricks
Kobe was *not* letting Johnson penetrate past the arc on that last possession.
Not sure that 'Shard/O'Neal matchup is going to work for East
Johnson and Kobe are playing an entirely different game than everyone else, intensity-wise. There's something there.
Nice little 13-0 run there for Westerners
O'Neal , as a matter of principle, is not going to chase Lewis to the arc.
Joe Torre in the building. Arena goes mute.
Kobe's 10 shot attempts were 2 off the record for a quarter.
Scottie Pippen just introduced. Arena officials pass the hat around the lower bowl.
Will we see Allen-Garnett-Pierce on the floor together?
Eric Snow makes the kiss-cam -- his first make in 5 years.
Gasol gets a piece! Quick close!
BRoy is the quickest guy of average speed on earth
Pierce didn't defend that poorly. But then that's Dirk.
Rashard Lewis, Center
KG holding court. Has the attention of the entire East bench.
Lots of Yeah, Mo!!! from the East bench. The shamockery narrative has life in the East.
Ever notice that Pierce rarely gets crossed over?
David West in the game. Is he the least deserving invitee?
Kevin Pelton's Advanced statistics have his Offensive rating at 105.8. His defensive rating at 105.4
What this means is that a lineup composed of 5 Davis Wests would score 105.8, and would give up 105.4
Which essentially means that Team David West this season is a scant over .500
Craig Sager is wearing Ruby Red Gator Shoes.
And just took a lot of grief for them from the East bench.
Interesting...The west *is* playing a fairly accurate rendition of the Triangle
You got Gasol there in the pinch post.
I mean, it's certainly more iso-heavy, but in terms of spacing, that's what they're up to.
Pierce has emerged as the Alpha dog of this unit.
It's the Drive-n-Kick, starring Rashard Lewis as your ballhandler. I love all-star games.
It would be really, really nice for Danny Granger to get some legitimate touches tonight.
Rashard at the 4. Order restored.
Can you imagine a team with Wade and Granger on the wings?
Nice...crabdribble from Mo
A vintage CP3 sequence. Plays the passing lane to perfection, runs the break, finds his trailer, saves the world.
Classy, classy touch. KG-Pierce-Allen just wheeled over a huge Green 75th bday cake to Bill Russell.
The cake will now be fedexed to Eddy Curry and Jerome James in New York.
LeBron apparently has the green light. Echhh
Tim Duncan with patience...even in an AS Game
Nice D, BRoy!
Roy absorbs the bumps, keeps his feet light. Some nights, I feel like he's a stellar defender, other nights he turns his head and gives up one step too many.
His Defensive Rtg [and we're using Basketball Prospectus/Pelton again]: A very pedestrian 106.2, second least impressive on West [Parker]
A matchup I've been dying to see: Howard/Duncan.
Alright...Early, premature, MVP-handicapping...
*If West Wins: Kobe Bryant leads West with 13, but he's done it on a less-than-impressive 6-13 FG. Of the 8 Westerners with 4 or more FGAs, he's the only one shooting below 50%.
The most eyepopping stat on the page is Paul's 8 assists...but he has 2 points on 1-5 from the field.
Roy has a nice, if non-MVPish line: 8 pts, 4 boards, 2 dimes, 0 turnovers in 16 minutes.
Gasol: A quiet 10 pts in 7 mins
The East is tougher. Pierce leads all scores with 14 points and has been the go-to guy when he's been in the game, for better or worse.
Kevin Johnson making the rounds. Imagine the irony if Sacramento loses its franchise while it has a former NBA standout in the mayor's office.
Commenter XBox Tim: The Nets would *love* to move Carter if they got the right package, but won't give him away for nothing. Per Hollinger.
T.O. in his Lakers long-sleeve Tee
Spike Lee having a conversation with the McCains
West: Into Yao in the post first two possessions. Interesting.
I think if the East is serious, they need to work the LeBron-Stat matchup to deat
Wade's gamble doesn't pay off.
Yao 1-3 to start 2nd half. They're feeding him.
So the West is working low.
I'm not sure you want to give LeBron that screen and get him Duncan on the switch. I'd rather him work 1-on-1 against Stat
Iverson: ALL BALL!
LeBron is the ticket back for the East...the matchup is there.
Watching these NBA All Stars do the love songs. Shaq doing Billy Ocean is stellar. This league is going to miss O'Neal when he's gone. They'll try with Howard and James, but O'Neal is righteously unique.
Jay-Z on the Kiss Cam.
Kobe wants baseline. Kobe gets baseline. that won't be the last.
O'Neal starts his drive from 25. Beaut.
The give-n-go O'Neal/Paul. Clearly the halfcourt highlight of the night. ONeal auditioning for wing duty.
Granger wanted none of that.
Shaq: A +19, leads the game
O'Neal with the clear inside track for MVP now.
So long as Lewis is the Eastern 5, I think there's a path of little resistance.
The prominent storylines that are emerging: (1) The Kobe-Shaq interplay.
(2) The east has absolutely no one to man the post defensively except Howard. And the problem is complicated because he and KG -- the only other candidate -- were placed alongside each other in the starting lineup, leaving Rashard Lewis with center duty.
(3) Kobe takes 19 shots in 15 minutes.
Dirk back in with a suave +19 on the night.
Iverson is the first recipient of the icepacks on knees. Was complaining about his knees to trainer.
That's something to watch.
Just guessing here, but I'd say he's unlikely to return.
Barring a late surge by the East or Amare, the MVP race is now down to Kobe and Shaq
The sagacious Kevin Pelton: These roster problems for the East wouldn't exist if David Stern had named a big man to replace Bosh instead of Mo Williams.
Shard continues his torrid shooting from last night.
After 3 Quarters, Points in Paint: West 72, East 42
Uhh...make that 74
Cant' keep my eyes off of Billups' gold kicks.
Nice side to side by East. Williams miss notwithstanding.
LeBron and Howard about to check in for last stand.
I love watching Gasol pass the ball with his back to the basket over his shoulder.
You could hear a pin drop in this arena.
Harris maintains his handle through traffic as well as anyone not named Chris Paul.
Nice McGrady attempt by LBJ
Did you see how far Pau played off LBJ?
Commenter SDBUCK760: Kobe/Shaq co-MVPs.
Would be a great story with legs into next week.
Wade should really stop gambling.
Howard from 21. Send in the Clowns.
How great are the last 5 minutes of an All-Star blowout? We get Kobe/Howard matchup on both ends...to unspeakable results. Still...
The voters on press row are debating.
The double PG attack for the final 2:00
That was one of the best drags of the night: Roy/Stat
Not Paul's finest moment.
Virtually better than anything we saw last night.
I went to an All-Star Game and a Slam Dunk Contest broke out.
LeBron's clearly got a yen for the 2010 SDC.
Co-MVPs -- SDBUCK760 calls it!
I think the enduring storyline of Shaq/Kobe will make this memorable, though I don't know if possession-by-possession this was all that notable a game.
32 combined turnovers is actually relatively low for an ASG, so you can't really call it a sloppy game.
If you want to pick it apart from an analytic standpoint, I think Kevin P. is correct. Size killed the East. The got mauled on the glass [51-38]
Points in the paint 96-58.
Rather than Mo, had the East chosen a big to replace Bosh, they might have been able to stem that third quarter collapse.
Though I haven't heard a report, I get the sense that KG was cleared to play no more than 20, which compounded the problem.
In any case, this is an ASG and I don't know if it warrant a further examination than that.
Thanks everyone for joining us.
Posted by Kevin Arnovitz
For all the progress that's been made in recent years coming up with ways to approximate a player's value -- PER, NBAPET ratings, win shares, plus-minus stats, Roland Ratings, the list goes on -- defense continues to be an elusive measure. Smart people are on the case, and some good metrics are starting to emerge, but identifying a "great defender" is a little like what Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart said about obscenity -- "I know it when I see it." It's still largely an anecdotal exercise.
While we're busy tweaking thse emerging defensive measurements, one way to find the great defenders is to ask the people being defended.
Covering All-Star weekend offers great opportunities and challenges. On one hand, you've got dozens of NBA players gathered in one central location. They're available to you -- and several hundred other members of the media from around the world -- for a few minutes at a time. With a few exceptions, you generally have enough time and space to ask one focused question. The earlier in the weekend you can do that, the better, because by midday Saturday, players adjust their settings to autopilot.
Here is the question we posed:
Your basketball life is on the line and it comes down to a single possession. You're in isolation. Who's the last guy you want to see defending you? And how do you beat him?
On Friday, we posted responses from some of the top rookies and sophomores. Yesterday, we shared an interesting discovery from a few retired guards. Today, we move on to members of the All-Star team.
Like all surveys, this one presents a few red flags. For instance, one school of thought says that basketball is such a mental game that you never want to publicly praise an opponent for his defense, because you might see him in that very situation on the court.
Both Tim Duncan and Pau Gasol were polite and shared basic thoughts about what makes a great defender, but when pressed to name someone in specific, both guys spoke in generalities. Duncan added that it's not about the other guy, it's about you. "If your life is on the line, it doesn't matter. You believe in yourself and you go through with it." The message seemed clear: That information is private, valuable, and should be guarded accordingly.
The question seemed borderline offensive to both Chauncey Billups and Rodney Stuckey. To Billups and his successor in Detroit, the idea that they should be intimidated or daunted by someone on the other side of the ball was incomprehensible. Whereas Duncan and Gasol clearly understood the question, but evaded it, Billups and Stuckey couldn't fathom it. Stuckey told me, "I don't care. The best defender is always going to be on me anyway, and I'm going to score on him." Billups said, "If it's the last second, it doesn't matter. It could be you, it could be him, it could be anybody. It's the last possession." You can almost imagine this would be Tiger Woods' reply if you asked him if there was a particular hole on the circuit that he wouldn't want to tackle with his life on the line.
Initially, I was disappointed by their lack of cooperation, but going through all the answers later on, I realized that Duncan, Gasol, Billups, and Stuckey were being every bit as revealing as the more forthcoming players. They just look at the game a little differently.
Here is a compendium of responses:
My coach, Mike Woodson. He and I tend to have little one-on-one battles every now and then. He's always fouling. He swears he isn't, that he's playing great defense. I don't know if that's how they played defense back in the day. He's out there mugging me. I have to get aggressive with him. I don't like to get too physical with him, because he's an old man. I try to take it light on him.
Kobe Bryant. When he puts his mind to anything -- whether it's offense or defense -- he's going to do a pretty good job. How do I beat him? My thing is that I'm a little bit taller than him, so I have to shoot over him. He's pretty athletic, but that's what I have to do.
Ron Artest. He doesn't really care if he fouls you or not. He's going to make sure you feel him. He's going to do something like clamp down on you physically. Whatever it is, he's going to force you away from the basket and make the referee make a call. The best way to beat him is just keep moving.
My older brother, Edward Roy. It's mental with him. He's been beating me since I was a little kid. And if he was guarding me late in a game, it would add a different kind of pressure, it would be more like, "Beat Big Brother." I'd probably make the shot today. I've finally matched up physically -- now I'm as strong as he is, and I can outquick him.
Ron Artest. He gets into you. He's so aggressive on the defensive end and they let him get away with a couple of fouls. He really has to hit you in order for them to call a foul on him. You have to be aggressive, strong, and physical to beat him. You have to take the contact, then try to go through the contact.
Bill Russell -- great timing. Best center who ever lived. To beat him it would have to be a step-back jumper, because he's a great shot blocker -- the greatest. I know he's going to meet me at the glass one way or the other.
It's someone who doesn't get enough credit for his defense -- Kobe Bryant. He showed a lot of aggressiveness in the Olympics playing D. He plays really physical, real strong. I'd try to use my quickness to beat him. He'll try to use strength, and I'll try to use quickness.
Trey Johnson. We played together in high school and he's a great defender.
There are a lot of good defenders in this league, but Shawn Marion. He's quick, he's strong, he's long enough to put real pressure on you.
Posted by Kevin Arnovitz
Welcome to All-Star Saturday night.
Since my spirit is dampened by the exclusion of Steve Novak from the Three-Point Shootout, and I've never forgiven the judges for robbing Dominique Wilkins of the 1988 Slam Dunk crown, I thought it would be a good idea to bring in some help for tonight.
Rob Mahoney of The Two Man Game and John Krolik of Cavs the Blog will be joining me for the evening's festivities.
Since Rob "refuses to acknowledge the existence of the Shooting Stars competition," we're going to start our coverage with the Skills Competition.
Follow along, won't you...
KEVIN ARNOVITZ: Welcome...
KEVIN ARNOVITZ: So I just got back from the 3D studio in the bowels of the arena which, I have to say, makes this competition a lot more interesting
JOHN KROLIK: End of shooting stars...well, Detroit's season hasn't gone the way they wanted it to, but I'm sure the fans are just as happy with this.
KEVIN ARNOVITZ: Also visited the practice court where the 3PT participants were warming up. Bibby looks strong
JOHN KROLIK: I've got Kapono. Until proven otherwise.
JOHN KROLIK: I like Parker, then Mo in the Skills comp. It's all about that mid-range J. If Rose hits it, it's his.
ROB MAHONEY: My heart says Roger Mason, but my brain just beat up my heart and told me to pick Kapono. Seems like a no-brainer.
KEVIN ARNOVITZ: I like Harris in Skillz..Mason in 3P...but, as I said, Bibby was stroking it on the practice court 10 mins ago
JOHN KROLIK: Mason will win if it comes down to the last shot. Dude's an assassin, right down to the name.
KEVIN ARNOVITZ: Minus the little swastika on his forehead, natch.
JOHN KROLIK: Playlist so far: Brittney Spears, John Legend. I'm intrigued for the night.
ROB MAHONEY: I once heard that Roger Mason killed a man. No - AN ARMY OF MEN. Ruthless, truly.
JOHN KROLIK: I'm still steamed my boy OJ didn't take HORSE home. Dude hit some sick shots.
KEVIN ARNOVITZ: Just to review Rob's skills reforms.: Could they block two shots at the same time? Who could steal it from Chris Paul first? If all players were given a ball and a finite space, who would be the last man standing with an active dribble? Could they block a shot launched out of a machine like a clay pigeon?
ROB MAHONEY: I actually missed HORSE entirely. I heard it was kinda lame. Any consensus?
JOHN KROLIK: Could Rudy surprise us in the Dunk Contest tonight?
KEVIN ARNOVITZ: Rudy is my bottom-dweller for the sole reason that he played THU nite in Oakland, Last night in the Rook/Soph game....So he's on a back-to-back-to-back [hat tip: Henry]
JOHN KROLIK: HORSE-Nobody was hitting at first, then guys hit some 40-footers, Rick Barry Free Throws, backwards, OJ went from the stands, but then Durant closed it out by just raining threes, which was a bit anti-climactic. Still liked it overall.
JOHN KROLIK: My bottom-dweller is Nate-I just don't think he's got 3 contests worth of dunks in him.
ROB MAHONEY: Rudy will disappoint only because no one expected anything from him, the rumors of awesome soccer-inspired dunks surfaced and got all of our hopes up, and then we'll inevitably be disappointed because well, he's Rudy.
JOHN KROLIK: Harris is going too slow around the guys.
ROB MAHONEY: Devin Harris has to slow down for the cameras to capture him. It's all part of the plan, John.
KEVIN ARNOVITZ: A Sham-mockery
JOHN KROLIK: The difference is effort, Mo.
ROB MAHONEY: The real reason Mo Williams wanted to be in Phoenix for this weekend: SKILLS CHALLENGE, YO.
JOHN KROLIK: BALLBOYGATE! The NBA All-Star conspiracy against Mo Williams continues.
KEVIN ARNOVITZ: Vintage Rose. Perfect, except for a missed J.
ROB MAHONEY: LeBron will now carry out his vendetta against ball boys everywhere.
ROB MAHONEY: How does Derrick Rose coast through the challenge and still smoke everyone?
JOHN KROLIK: And goodbye, Tony Parker.
KEVIN ARNOVITZ: The PHX fans are pleased
ROB MAHONEY: We'll just forget that I picked Tony to win. Cool?
JOHN KROLIK: My friend put 20 bucks on TP and 10 on Mo. He is displeased right now.
JOHN KROLIK: Not really playoff intensity in the 1st round of the skills challenge.
KEVIN ARNOVITZ: The problem with this event is that all the elasticity is in the jump shot...[and, to a lesser extent the passing]. So it's really a foul shot shooting contest.
ROB MAHONEY: When is the Gerald Wallace/Josh Smith/Andrei Kirilenko skills challenge? I'm ready to have my world turned upside down.
KEVIN ARNOVITZ: 1st Place: $35,000
2nd Place: $22,500
3rd Place: $9,000
4th Place: $9,000
JOHN KROLIK: You Gotta Get Anthony Randolph and Julian Wright in there too.
ROB MAHONEY: Derrick Rose was HUNGRY for that Skills Challenge title. Finished it nicely with a sweet dunk -- the best thing I've seen in the last two hours.
1. Danny Granger is Royalty
I know almost nothing about gospel music. But a couple of decades ago I heard Mahalia Jackson's "In the Upper Room" (it's best loud, on a good sound system) and was convinced from that moment on that it had to be best gospel tune in the history of the planet. Now I've got the box set.
She died in 1972, sadly.
But today I learn from a HoopsTV interview that her great nephew is ... All-Star Pacer Danny Granger.
2. 0.1 Left
Last night with one tenth of a second left, Danny Granger stepped to the free throw line in a tie game with the Cavaliers. He played it perfectly, by hitting the first free throw, and then intentionally missing the second.
Why'd he miss the second? If he misses it, Cleveland gets a rebound 90+ feet from their hoop, and doesn't even have time to call timeout before the game is over. If he hits it, then Cleveland gets the ball out of bounds, with a chance to lob a ball at the rim. The whole time the ball is in the air the clock has not yet started. Then a Cavalier could have, with a great pass and a dollop of luck, tipped that ball into the hoop, gotten fouled, or somehow extended the game.
Of course David Lee did this very thing for New York a couple of years ago.
Which leads to a bit of a tangent. When Lee made that miracle tip, Walt "Clyde" Frazier asked a fascinating question: If the only way you can lose is a tipped ball (the NBA has ruled that to catch the ball and shoot it takes at least 0.3 seconds) why did Charlotte have defenders on the perimeter?
If you had your four tallest athletes in a wall just outside the no-charge area, and someone frustrating the inbound pass, you're only vulnerable to a super-fast, long distance tip. Which is probably impossible.
And one last thought about moments of games with mere tenths on the clock: Did you know that from when the scoreboard operator decides in his mind to push the button to start the clock, until when he manages to push the button and the clock actually lurches into action is generally accepted to take about three tenths of a second?
That means you could push the button the instant David Lee touches the ball, and he'd still have something like 0.4 before the buzzer sounds, and there's nothing anybody can do about it.
This is not science. Not in these increments.
3. Fouls with the Body
Now, to the real matter at hand. Last night's game had a power-packed final second. T.J. Ford made a jumper with 0.8 left to give the Pacers a 95-93 lead.
After a timeout, the Cavaliers lobbed the ball to one of the biggest and best wide receivers in Ohio football history -- LeBron James -- who was being guarded by the inch-shorter and at least 30 pounds-lighter Granger.
Granger moved like anyone would in that situation. He half tried to get the ball, and he half tried to keep his body between the ball and James. They were in contact the entire time the ball was in the air. And it worked. Granger kept the ball from James.
At this point I should tell you that I was on the phone with David Thorpe yesterday and he was saying that it drives him mad how so many plays involve serious bodily contact -- but there is no foul called, because the referees tend to look up where the arms and the ball are.
I countered that body on body contact is a messy thing, and is extremely tough to call. If two players jump a little sideways into each other, whose foul is that?
That's still something I'd like to understand better.
Anyway, this time the referees were watching the bodies, and called a foul on Granger. Everyone wearing white looked really shocked.
James made both free throws. The Pacers had 0.4 to try to win the game. They needed a miracle, not unlike the one Cleveland had just gotten.
As you can see in the highlights, they got that exact thing. This time Indiana lobbed to Granger, who was guarded by James. An eye for an eye, a lob for a lob, a bump for a bump, and a foul for a foul.
Their bodies collided, as you can see in the photo. Foul on James this time. Granger made his free throw for the win.
Cleveland is upset. But I can't see it: Those two foul calls were undeniably equivalent. The referee giveth, and the referee taketh away.
And now the Pacers have wins against the Celtics, Lakers, and Cavaliers. Not a bad little feather in the cap for a team that is auditioning to face the Celtics or Cavaliers in the first round of the playoffs.
UPDATE: My best guess at the part of the NBA rulebook that applies to mid-air collisions is this:
In all guarding situations, a player is entitled to any spot on the court he desires, provided he legally gets to that spot first and without contact with an opponent. If a defensive or offensive player has established a position on the floor and his opponent initiates contact that results in the dislodging of the opponent, a foul should be called IMMEDIATELY.
During all throw-ins, the defensive player(s) must be allowed to take a position between his man and the basket.
A player may continue to move after gaining a guarding position in the path of an opponent provided he is not moving directly or obliquely toward his opponent when contact occurs. A player is never permitted to move into the path of an opponent after the opponent has jumped into the air.
A player who extends a hand, forearm, shoulder, hip or leg into the path of an opponent and thereby causes contact is not considered to have a legal position in the path of an opponent.
A player is entitled to a vertical position even to the extent of holding his arms above his shoulders, as in post play or when double-teaming in pressing tactics.
Any player who conforms to the above is absolved from responsibility for any contact by an opponent which may dislodge or tend to dislodge such player from the position which he has attained and is maintaining legally. If contact occurs, the official must decide whether the contact is incidental or a foul has been committed.
And also, it's worth pointing out that Cavaliers coach Mike Brown freaked out about this play to the referees, and to reporters afterwards. Kevin Pelton e-mailed to point out: Remember when the Cavaliers were the "no excuses" team?
(Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images)