|NBA power and sour rankings: Top 5, bottom 5||11.05.14 at 10:13 am ET|
In the NBA, the worst place to be is the middle of the pack. If you are not contending for a championship or tanking, in my mind, you are not relevant. Because of this, each week I will rank the top five and bottom five teams in the league. The rankings are based entirely on my own observations and opinions, so please feel free to call me names in the comments section.
1. Warriors (3-0)
Klay Thompson continues to score on and off the court. He dropped 41 points on the Lakers, signed a four-year max contract extension and, as recently reported, started dating Instagram celebrity Hannah Stocking. Personally, I would be more impressed if it was revealed Thompson was dating #AlexFromTarget. That dude got over 500,000 Twitter followers in about three days, which is damn impressive.
2. Grizzlies (4-0)
The Grizzlies are all about attitude, and it shows on the defensive end of the floor. They beat the Hornets 71-69 then held the Brow and the Pelicans to only 81 points. The Mike Conley injury is cause for concern, but the video of Tony Allen randomly smacking a cameraman is hilarious.
3. Spurs (1-1)
Even though they haven’t been spectacular during their first two games, the Spurs still are the reigning champs. Interesting storyline to pay attention to. The Spurs did not sign Kawhi Leonard to an extension before the deadline on Friday, allowing him to become restricted free agent at the end of the season. If I am Danny Ainge, I am offering Sugar K Leonard anything up to and including my daughter’s hand in marriage to get him to sign in Boston. Although there is little chance Pop and the Spurs let him go, a man can dream.
|Gerald Wallace: LeBron James ‘doesn’t have the attitude or the fight’ of Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant||07.10.14 at 10:46 am ET|
As we learned this past Celtics season, Gerald Wallace never pulls punches. This time, he’s giving his own teammates a break from constantly calling out their effort and making the game’s best player his speed bag.
In a conversation with myfoxal.com during his annual basketball camp at Childersburg (Ala.) High, Wallace criticized LeBron James for both his handling of free agency off the court and his lack of a killer instinct on it.
“I don’t really pay attention to the offseason acquisitions or what’s going on just because of [the drama],” he said. “I think they put more attention into it than what’s needed. Their decision is no different than some of the other guys going through the same thing. It’s just their names happen to be LeBron, Carmelo [Anthony], Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade, some of the superstars that are mostly seen on TV. I think that’s what makes a big deal out of it.”
Wallace’s love for Michael Jordan is no secret. A longtime Jordan Brand representative, Wallace idolized the Bulls legend and played five of his seven seasons in Charlotte under Jordan’s ownership, including one as an All-Star.
“I grew up in the ’90s,” added Wallace, whose camp T-shirt featured the Jumpman logo. “I grew up in the Jordan era. I’m a Jordan baby, and to me he will always be the greatest player that I’ve ever seen play. I had an opportunity to play against him at the end of his career, which wasn’t the same, but I’ve even played against him in practice and had an opportunity to talk to him. Watching him on TV growing up, he’s the greatest player I’ve ever seen.”
No argument there. However, Wallace’s commendation of Jordan also included a condemnation of James.
“Jordan never had an off night,” Wallace told myfoxal.com. “He found many ways to contribute to the team, and I’d say Kobe [Bryant] is pretty much the same. You can put LeBron in that category. I think what separates LeBron from Kobe and Michael Jordan right now is that he doesn’t have the attitude or the fight that those guys had. For me, he’s not willing to take over a game, demand a game or put the game all on his shoulders. I would like to see him get to that one day, but right now I don’t think he has that, and that’s what Michael Jordan and even Kobe has.”
|Phil Jackson says he’d take Bill Russell over Michael Jordan||05.24.13 at 10:35 am ET|
Legendary coach Phil Jackson, on an interview tour to promote his new book, gave a surprising answer when asked which player in NBA history he would choose to start a franchise.
“In my estimation, the guy that has to be there would be Bill Russell,” Jackson told Time magazine. “He has won 11 championships as a player. That’s really the idea of what excellence is, when you win championships.”
Jackson coached Michael Jordan‘s Bulls to six championships and Kobe Bryant‘s Lakers to five more. In his book, “Eleven Rings,” Jackson compares the two, noting that Jordan was a better leader, shooter and defender. Asked which one he’d prefer to have on his team, Jackson played it down the middle.
“I would flip a coin,” he said. “Whichever one came up heads or tails, I’d take that person. They were that good.”
|Paul Pierce says foul on Kobe Bryant ‘blown out of proportion’||03.15.13 at 4:29 pm ET|
WALTHAM — From the moment Dahntay Jones fouled Kobe Bryant on Wednesday night, causing Bryant to badly roll his right ankle, it seemed everyone had an opinion, including Kobe himself.
No foul was called but the NBA admitted Friday that one should’ve been called in the game won by the Hawks over Bryant’s Lakers. It was classified as a high ankle sprain and Bryant was questionable for Friday’s game in Indiana.
“I had a chance to kind of see it,” Pierce said. “I think it got kind blown out of proportion. He put his hands up, got into his defender. The fact it was Kobe Bryant, it’s an issue. If it was anybody else (injured), we wouldn’t probably even be talking about this.”
For more, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.
|Kobe Bryant, the Celtics and the fountain of youth||02.08.13 at 1:54 am ET|
Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett stood shoulder-to-shoulder on the Garden parquet, laughing side-by-side as Gino danced his ridiculous dance on the Jumbotron. The former had submitted his finest performance against the Lakers since walking off the same floor with an NBA Finals MVP trophy. The latter had scored his 25,000th point in owning the league’s most dominant big. Together, they delivered a sixth straight Celtics win sans Rajon Rondo.
They are 35 and 36 years old, respectively. Combined, they’ve played nearly 90,000 minutes, which translates into more than a year of playing time on NBA basketball courts across the country. And they’re not done yet.
“It’s a generational thing,” said 34-year-old Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant after an embarrassing 106-95 loss to the Celtics. “In that generation, we all seem to hold on or have found the same fountain of youth somewhere.”
And not the kind of fountain of youth Alex Rodriquez reportedly found in Miami. “Not that one,” laughed Bryant. “Not that one.” More like a pacemaker that keeps a championship heart beating year after year. Like a 32-year-old Muhammad Ali biding his time against a 25-year-old George Foreman in the Rumble in the Jungle.
“It’s typical Celtics basketball,” said Bryant. “They all just put their hard hats on, and they go out, play hard and figure things out. Whenever their backs against the wall, that’s when you really see the best from them. … It’s just like last year, when they made their playoff run. That’s just what this team does. They kind of rope-a-dope you.”
|Fast Break: Paul Pierce, Celtics slay Kobe Bryant, Lakers to win 6th straight sans Rajon Rondo||02.07.13 at 10:29 pm ET|
Kevin Garnett scored his 25,000th career point, Paul Pierce outshined Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard showed up (but not really), Fab Melo scored his first NBA points and the Celtics won their sixth straight game without Rajon Rondo, 116-95 against the Lakers. All in all, not a bad night for the C’s.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Exclusive membership: With a fadeaway jumper 3:52 into the second quarter, Kevin Garnett became the 16th player in NBA history to score 25,000 points. He joined Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Michael Jordan, Wilt Chamberlain, Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, Moses Malone, Elvin Hayes, Hakeem Olajuwon, Oscar Robertson, Dominique Wilkins, John Havlicek, Alex English, Reggie Miller and Jerry West. Garnett became the first player to amass 25,000 points, 10,000 rebounds, 5,000 assists, 1,500 blocks and 1,500 steals in his career. During the following timeout, after Doc Rivers drew up a play, the crowd saluted Garnett, who returned the favor.
Winter Green: For the sixth time in seven games, Jeff Green scored double-digit points. He entered the game averaging 13 points, four rebounds, three assists and two blocks in 26.3 minutes a night this month. That’s 17.8 points, 5.5 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 2.3 blocks per 36 minutes. That’s good. He’s also played better defensively, assuming some of the load on Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James and Kobe Bryant over the past eight games.
The sequence: The Celtics closed the third quarter on a 12-3 run that seemed more like an 83-1 run. The remarkable stretch featured the best of what these C’s have to offer: the Brandon Bass mid-range game (18-footer), Avery Bradley‘s defense (picked Bryant’s pocket), Jason Terry on the runway (a transition triple), Jeff Green‘s athleticism (a fast-break dunk followed by a block of Antawn Jamison) and both Paul Pierce‘s step-back jumper (from 19 feet) and his sense for the moment (a dagger of a 3). All that gave the Celtics a 95-69 lead after three, sent the Garden crowd into a frenzy and reminded just about everyone of Game 6 of the 2008 NBA finals.
WHAT WENT WRONG
Foul mood: In a span of 39 seconds — just two minutes into the game — the Celtics committed five fouls, including two by Kevin Garnett. Enter Jason Collins, who didn’t fare much better despite his reputation as the so-called Dwight stopper. Collins quickly racked up three personal fouls, giving way to Chris Wilcox. On the bright side, the Lakers missed 10-of-18 first-half free throws (Howard: 1-6 FT) and Garnett survived the first half with the two fouls.
Kobe being Kobe: It’s probably hard for Celtics fans to stop and appreciate Bryant’s offensive bag of tricks, but there’s something special about the fact that two natural born scorers like he and Pierce have played in L.A. and Boston for the entirety of their careers. Bryant’s best shot of the night — a ridiculous up-and-under — got waved off by a foul, but his jump shot along the baseline to close out the first half was classic Kobe. Keeping the Lakers within striking distance for most of the night, Bryant finished with 27 points on 9-of-15 shooting.
No Leandro: The Celtics scored 100 points, and somehow Leandro Barbosa wasn’t involved. He finished 0-for-4 from the floor in 16 minutes, but still managed to contribute four rebounds and three assists. This is nitpicking, for sure, but the Celtics ran the Lakers out of the Garden and won their sixth straight game without Rondo. There wasn’t much that went wrong.
|Paul Pierce, Celtics embarrass Kobe Bryant, Lakers||at 10:28 pm ET|
Paul Pierce 12 of his 24 points in the third quarter while Kevin Garnett scored 15 points and made NBA history as the Celtics embarrassed the Lakers on national TV, 116-95, Thursday night at TD Garden. Jeff Green added 19 points off the bench for the Celtics, who matched their season-best six-game winning streak while improving to 26-23 on the season.
Kobe Bryant scored 27 in the loss and Dwight Howard had little impact on the game, scoring nine points and grabbing nine rebounds in 28 minutes in his return from three-game absence due to a right shoulder injury. He fouled out with 5:07 left in the game. It was his first game since being called out by Bryant on Wednesday. The Lakers lost for just the second time in eight games and fell to 23-27 on the season.
The Celtics overcame early foul trouble as Garnett picked up two fouls in the first two minutes and found an early spot on the bench. Jason Collins picked up three fouls in five minutes and the Lakers were in the bonus before the first three minutes were in the books as Boston was called for five fouls in the first 2:22 of the game.
The Celtics finished the first quarter with 10 personal fouls while the Lakers had only three.
But the Lakers could not take advantage, missing 7-of-12 free throws and shooting just 8-for-21 from the field. The Celtics took the lead for good on a Jeff Green three-foot hook shot with 4:03 left in the first quarter. Bryant had eight points in the opening 12 minutes but Pierce went even further, scoring 10, as the Celtics grabbed a 27-23 lead after one quarter.
With 8:08 left in the second quarter, Garnett hit an 11-foot turnaround over Earl Clark to reach the 25,000-point plateau. He made history as the only player in NBA history with 25,000 points, 10,000 rebounds, 5,000 assists and 1,500 blocks. Garnett had nine points in the second quarter as the Celtics began to pull away, outscoring Los Angeles, 31-21, to take a 58-44 halftime lead. The Celtics committed just two turnovers in the first half as they began to pull away.
In a throwback to Game 6 of the 2008 NBA finals, when the Celtics clinched their 17th title on the parquet, the Celtics blew out the listless and defenseless Lakers in the third quarter. Following a Steve Blake three that closed the gap to 81-66, the Celtics closed the quarter 14-3 spurt that featured a one-handed slam by Green and a 3-pointer from Pierce that sent the Garden into a frenzy. The Celtics led 95-69 heading into the fourth.
With chants of “Beat LA” ringing throughout the sellout crowd, the Celtics kept pouring it on, building their lead up to 32, 103-71, midway through the fourth.
Fab Melo checked into the game with just under five minutes left for Chris Wilcox and the Celtics up by 27. He scored his first NBA points on a layup with 1:22 remaining in the game.
The Celtics are off Friday and likely will not practice on Saturday either due to the blizzard forecast for Boston. The Celtics are next scheduled to play Sunday at 6 p.m. against the Nuggets at TD Garden. For more from the team of Mike Petraglia and Ben Rohrbach at the Garden, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.
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