Mike D’Antoni: Rockets rookie Gary Clark ‘deserves’ our confidence

Undrafted rookie forward Gary Clark mustered up the confidence during Houston Rockets’ training camp to pull Carmelo Anthony aside and show him a picture of them posing together at an AAU tournament several years ago.

Clark, who had to earn a two-way contract, allowed himself to be in awe of the 10-time All-Star for just a moment. Then Clark focused on competing for playing time — and quickly earned the spot in the rotation as a reserve power forward that the Rockets expected Anthony to fill this season.cheap nike nfl jerseys from china

“Crap, that was my favorite player at one point,” Clark told ESPN on Thursday night, when he played a key role in a 107-86 win over the Golden State Warriors hours after the Rockets announced they were “parting ways” with Anthony. “But it literally didn’t matter who was there. I was going to make sure I got on the court, because I know what I bring to the table.”

With a national television audience watching, Clark showed why coach Mike D’Antoni decided to give him consistent minutes. Clark had nine points on 3-of-7 shooting (all from 3-point range), seven rebounds, two assists and two blocks in 28 minutes. It was the kind of gritty, well-rounded performance the Rockets need from role players to complement their superstars.12

“He’ll have his bad ones; he’s a rookie,” D’Antoni said of Clark. “There will be ups and downs, but he deserves all the confidence we can give him.”cheap wholesale nike nfl jerseys

Though Clark idolized Anthony as a kid, his game is much more similar to that of Rockets power forward PJ Tucker. The 6-foot-8, 225-pound Clark is a tough, versatile defender who was a two-time American Athletic Conference defensive player of the year at Cincinnati despite being hampered those junior and senior seasons by an ankle injury that damaged his draft stock and prevented him from playing for the Rockets’ summer league team.

Clark was listed as questionable against the Warriors because of a bruised hip but didn’t consider sitting out against the defending champions.

“I mean, I’ve been through worse pain,” Clark said. “The last two years of my college career, I pretty much played in pain, so for me to have a little hip bruise, it wasn’t going to stop me.”

Clark earned minutes with the Rockets on the strength of his defensive ability — the facet of the game where Anthony struggles most, especially at age 34 — and has become comfortable enough as a 3-point shooter to play for Houston.


LeBron James scores 51 in first win at Miami since 2014 departure

LeBron James scored 51 points Sunday in the Los Angeles Lakers’ 113-97 win over the Miami Heat, marking James’ first victory in Miami since leaving the Heat franchise in 2014.

He also became just the fifth player in league history to score 50-plus points with three different franchises.

“[My] environment is a basketball and a hoop,” James said when asked how playing against his former team factored into his performance. “That’s my environment, that’s my comfort zone. But it’s always great to be here, come back here and see a lot of familiar faces. We had some not-so-good times, we had more great times. So it’s always a respect factor and a love for the people of Miami, especially the people who work here. We put in a lot of time.”cheap nike nfl jerseys from china

James wasted no time with his scoring barrage, pumping in 19 points on 8-for-10 shooting in the first quarter.

“I felt pretty good. I felt pretty good,” James said, playing on the second night of a back-to-back after mustering just 22 points on 8-for-19 shooting in a loss to the Magic on Saturday. “I think we were all kind of shell-shocked in Orlando from that cross-country flight, getting in late to Orlando and just having the time difference. … But we was able to get some good rest last night and feel pretty good about today’s game.”11

James’ teams hadn’t felt too good after playing in Miami in the past. He came into Sunday’s game on a four-game losing streak as a visiting player, and his all-time record at AmericanAirlines Arena as an opponent is still just 5-13, according to research compiled by ESPN Stats & Information. Prior to Sunday, his last time winning in Miami as a member of the visiting team was Jan. 25, 2010.nfl nike jerseys cheap china

Eleven of James’ 12 career 50-point games have come on the road. His 12th 50-point game moved him into sixth place on the list of most career 50-point games, breaking a tie with Allen Iverson. And he joined Jamal Crawford, Bernard King, Moses Malone and Wilt Chamberlain as the only players to score 50 or more for three teams.

“I’ve played for three very, very historic franchises in the time that I played,” James said. “Obviously, in Miami we did some historical things. In Cleveland we was able to do some historical [things]. And obviously the Lakers [name] speaks for itself, what they’ve been able to do. And so, my teammates, my coaching staff, they just put that trust in me to go out and make plays, and I just try to be as efficient as possible when I’m on the floor and make things happen.”

James pointed to one teammate in particular, Lance Stephenson, after drilling his final shot of the game — a 32-foot 3-pointer with 16.5 seconds left over a double team by Miami’s Derrick Jones Jr. and Rodney McGruder, to take him from 48 to 51 points and settle his final shooting line at 19-for-31 from the floor.


The final days of the Butler saga, and why it could cost Thibodeau his job

As Tom Thibodeau’s plan disintegrated, owner Glen Taylor lost his last remnants of belief in this crumbling regime. Taylor had delivered Thibodeau a long and rich contract as the Minnesota Timberwolves president and coach, control of basketball operations and the trust to be a steward of a franchise forever in disrepair.

Taylor’s judgment has been perpetually suspect, from a secret Joe Smith deal that cost Minnesota draft picks to wasting Kevin Garnett’s prime to the David Kahn catastrophe. In getting things wrong, Taylor has been spectacular in his mishaps.

In the end, Taylor didn’t sign off on a Jimmy Butler trade as much as he surrendered to one of the most embarrassing episodes in franchise history.cheap nike nfl jerseys from china

Thibodeau sold Taylor on trading a starry young core and a high lottery pick to Chicago for Butler on draft night in 2017, sold him on waiting out Butler’s preseason trade demand for two months.

He sold him a strategy of publicly excusing Butler’s disruptive behavior, compromising his own credibility within his locker room, because Thibodeau believed he could navigate the dysfunction and win games.12

Thibodeau sold Taylor on passing on a strong Miami trade package, because he was sure Pat Riley would come back with a better offer, and the league would chase in a bidding frenzy for Butler.

Taylor kept doubling down, and when he hung up the phone with Philadelphia owner Josh Harris on Saturday morning, Minnesota had lost everything — the four-time All-Star in his prime, the trade standoff, and ultimately, the trust to stay with Thibodeau and GM Scott Layden beyond this season.

Even at the expense of sullying his professional standing, Butler played them all in Minnesota — and shamed the Timberwolves into trading him to a big market contender. The Timberwolves couldn’t find a team to bail them out of this debacle, and Thibodeau couldn’t sell Taylor on one more basketball game with Butler in a Timberwolves uniform.

Eventually, Thibodeau had lost hope that he could convince Butler to stay for the long term, but his ego still believed he could coach these Timberwolves into playoff contention before the February trade deadline. He underestimated this saga’s impact on the rest of the team, especially his young max-contract players, as they watched Thibodeau excuse behavior and beg Butler to play games.cheap nfl nike jerseys free shipping

Minnesota desperately tried to cobble together trade offers in the past week, including extensive discussions with New Orleans, league sources said. The Pelicans are limited on tradeable assets, but desperate to find star power to keep Anthony Davis for the long run. The Pelicans wouldn’t include point guard Jrue Holiday in its offer, nor multiple draft picks, league sources said.


Adam Silver supports ‘Enough’ T-shirts, players speaking out

With NBA commissioner Adam Silver in the stands and supporting the cause, the Los Angeles Lakers and Atlanta Hawks honored the victims of the Thousand Oaks shooting by wearing black T-shirts with the message “Enough” on the front.

The Lakers and Hawks followed what the Clippers and Milwaukee Bucks did on Saturday when players from both teams first wore the T-shirts.nfl nike jerseys cheap china

“As I’ve always said, our players aren’t just ballplayers, they’re citizens,” Silver told ESPN after watching the Lakers beat the Hawks 107-106 on Sunday. “They have strong feelings about what’s happening in society and they react to them. I think this was something that was a groundswell within the league. It came from the players and it spread by word of mouth from one team to another.11

“It obviously began here in California and other teams around the league supported them,” Silver continued. “Again, I support our players’ desire to speak out on issues that are important to them and important to society.”

The T-shirts also had the names of all 12 people killed by a gunman who opened fire inside the Borderline Bar & Grill, a popular local spot about 40 miles northwest of Los Angeles.

LeBron James, who has been outspoken on several issues pertaining to social injustice, said he felt the same feelings of outrage that so many have repeatedly felt following a mass shooting.cheap nike nfl jerseys from china

“Probably the same that went through everybody’s mind: ‘Not again.’ Or: ‘Wow. What the hell?'” James said of what he initially thought when he heard the news of the shooting not far from where he plays and lives. “Probably some more explicit terms that I won’t say right here. It’s just how do we clean up this. … It all comes back to this gun situation that we have in America and gun violence. I don’t want to go into that right now, but I can do it at a later point. We know that these people are just being able to go and buy guns and do things with them, and innocent lives are being taken at young ages. Young ages.”

James then reflected on his youth while growing up in Akron, Ohio, and how it felt like a much more innocent time.


Warriors’ Draymond Green leaves with foot injury; X-rays negative

Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green left Monday night’s 117-101 win over the Memphis Grizzlies after injuring his right foot in the first half.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

“They took X-rays. X-rays were negative,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said after the game. “But it didn’t make sense for him to go out and play in the second half. He sort of tested it out, and we decided to shut him down. We’ll see what happens — hopefully, we got a couple days before our next game. But we’ll see what happens.”12

Green injured the foot in the first quarter and had it checked during the game, but after coming back into the contest in the second quarter, he did not return following halftime.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

“I hope he’s all right,” Warriors forward Kevin Durant said. “I think he’s all right. He came back out there after he did it and then sat out the second half, but hopefully he’s all right. I didn’t get a chance to talk to him.”


Lakers make Tyson Chandler deal official

Center Tyson Chandler has signed with the Los Angeles Lakers after clearing waivers on a contract buyout with the Phoenix Suns, general manager Rob Pelinka announced Monday.nfl nike jerseys for cheap

The new contract for Chandler will pay him $2,109,867, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks, with the Lakers incurring a cap hit of $1,333,140. Chandler agreed to shave $2.1 million off his $13.6 million salary with Phoenix. He is eligible to be traded Feb. 6, one day before the trade deadline.11

Chandler, 36, will be a backup to starting center JaVale McGee for the Lakers, who are desperate for an infusion of size and defensive rebounding.

A native of Los Angeles, Chandler is considered one of the strong, veteran leaders in the league — a welcome addition to a largely youthful Lakers locker room.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

Chandler is in his 18th season after entering the NBA draft out of high school in 2001. His productivity has been on the decline in recent years. He averaged 6.5 points and 9.1 rebounds in 46 starts for the Suns during the 2017-18 campaign.


Fantasy NBA Daily Notes: Derrick Rose’s magical night

In a fun moment fitting of the holiday, Derrick Rose dressed as MVP Derrick Rose for Halloween. The Minnesota Timberwolves’ guard turned back the clock on Wednesday night, scoring a career-high 50 points in the Timberwolves’ 128-125 win over the Jazz in what was the fifth 50-point performance in franchise history.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Rose went seven years, 227 days between 40-point games, the fifth-longest span in NBA history, per ESPN Stats & Info. Before Wednesday, Rose last had a 40-point game on March 18, 2011, the season he won MVP.12

My favorite random stat from last night’s vintage performance is that Rose took 653 dribbles on Wednesday, the most in a game this season. The rest of the Timberwolves players had 353 dribbles combined. While Rose had 653 dribbles in his 50-point game, Klay Thompson took just 56. Per Second Spectrum, 16 of Rose’s 19 field goals were unassisted, the second-most unassisted field goals in a game this season behind Blake Griffin’s 17 in his 50-point outing against Philly last week.

Regarding the actionable fantasy spin from Rose’s renaissance performance, it’s becoming apparent he enjoys a massive spike in usage and raw offensive opportunities whenever Jimmy Butler sits. Rose has tallied performances scoring 28 and 50 points, respectively, in the two games Butler has missed this season, while not topping 16 whenever Butler has been active.

We can surely expect to see Rose rostered en masse in ESPN leagues after last night’s performance, but with Butler reportedly set to rejoin the team amid this dramatic trade impasse, we can also expect him to resume a more complementary scoring role rather than the Iversonian performance from last night.nike nfl jerseys cheap china

This said, Butler could be traded at any moment, which would again vault Rose into a uniquely rewarding role even with the likes of Karl-Anthony Towns on the roster. It’s worth stashing Rose, given the increased pressure surrounding the Butler scenario.


Which players are benefiting most from a bump in usage rate?

On a night long associated with reanimation, Derrick Rose’s season-long reawakening reached dizzying heights against the Utah Jazz on Halloween.

Already averaging 14.3 points and 4.9 rebounds per game, the 2011 MVP put on a throwback performance that also marked a career high with 50 points, plus he added 6 assists, 4 3-pointers, 2 steals, 4 rebounds and a win-preserving block.

As with any player in a relatively new situation (he appeared in only nine games for the Timberwolves last season), it’s important to track how said player’s role is evolving. Trades, free agency, the draft, injury (or recovery from injury), a new coaching staff, dissension in the rotational ranks —nike nfl jerseys cheap paypal  there are many factors that can suddenly thrust a player into a new role.

A reshuffled role can radically alter a player’s fantasy outlook. In Rose’s case, several forces have coalesced to reignite Rose’ statistical fortunes. Rose’s long-term recovery from injury, the roster-wide ripple effect of the Jimmy Butler situation, his relationship with coach Tom Thibodeau, and Jeff Teague’s injury have intersected to give Rose a real chance to turn back the clock on a night-in, night-out basis.11

Hopefully, you were fortunate enough to pick up Rose’s services before last night. It’s been clear from the jump that Rose could prove tp be more than Jeff Teague insurance for fantasy managers.

It’s a common fantasy trap to place too much worth on early-season performance. It’s also a common fantasy trap to be lured into the promise of acquiring the services of a former big name. But in this case, there’s been one second-level stat that portended Rose’s revival: usage rate.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

If you’re unfamiliar with usage rate, our NBA Analytics Glossary defines it as such:

“The percentage of a player’s possessions in which he was directly involved in the attempt at a basket (via a shot attempt, free throw attempt) or a turnover. Can give fantasy players an expectation of volume for certain counting statistics.”

Usage rate’s impact within fantasy is easy to assess: The more you have the ball in your hands, the more you’re liable to accrue production. (If you hail from the world of fantasy football, think of usage rate as touches, carries, targets.)

Any usage rate above 30.0 is elite. Fourteen players cracked a 30.0 usage rate in 2017-18. It’s no shocker that star players dominate usage rate. Lead roles demand possession. Last season’s leaders: James Harden (36.3), Russell Westbrook (34.1), Joel Embiid (33.5), DeMarcus Cousins (32.3), LeBron James (31.6) and Devin Booker (31.4).

But what position dominates usage rate’s upper middle class? Point guard. One look at the second tier in usage rate (25.0-29.9) underscores the point guard’s importance in fantasy basketball.


Lakers finally get elusive win at Staples Center

Coming off their first win of the season over Phoenix’s desert island of misfit toys, the Lakers sparked their first winning streak of the season, topping the Denver Nuggets 121-114 on Thursday. The game was a seesaw affair throughout, but the Lakers wrested control of the game in the final four minutes.

The Lakers might not be currently constructed to be a top-flight defensive team, but there were some encouraging signs in their best effort of the season.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

Watching Lonzo Ball constantly hound Jamal Murray the full length of the floor — picking Murray’s pocket just before halftime for an easy bucket as just reward — was a reminder that the Lakers employ several capable defenders, even if their team concepts have a ways to go. They needn’t be the sieve of a defense that they demonstrated the first week of the season.

For James, Thursday’s outing was a complete performance that included his first triple-double as a Laker — 28 points (10-for-17 from the floor), 11 rebounds and 11 assists. James has been selective with his attacks in the early going this season, but seeing an opportunity to rumble coast to coast in the third quarter, he willingly forced the issue on several occasions — most notably a slam on the break, courtesy of a pass ahead from Lance Stephenson that gave the Lakers the lead with 3:29 remaining in the game.

And from the top of the floor as a facilitator, James was characteristically lethal with his surgical passing.12

James is well aware that the Lakers won’t be the most proficient shooting team in the league. But their final possession of the first half was a vivid illustration of how the elite vision of James and Ball can compensate for perimeter shortcomings; it was an exercise the Lakers showed off in the victory. As the Denver defense gravitated toward James with the clock winding down, he zipped a cross-court pass in the opposite corner to Ball, who then instantly shuttled it over to Kyle Kuzma for an open 3-pointer on the wing.

The shot vaulted the Lakers into the lead heading to intermission — more evidence that better decisions will yield better results. If Kuzma (22 points) continues to sprint the floor in transition and float to open space on the perimeter as he did on Thursday night, he should be exceptionally well-fed this season. His two dunks in the final two minutes, one courtesy of James, helped seal the game for the Lakers.cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

Ball and James, both heady and intrinsically unselfish on the court, are clearly establishing some teammate telepathy. On a half-court possession in the third quarter, Ball immediately recognized a strong early seal by James against the smaller Torrey Craig — quick lob, easy 2.


Spurs’ DeMar DeRozan relishing closer role after another clutch effort

Spurs guard DeMar DeRozan popped up from the floor in front of the Dallas Mavericks bench determined that he wouldn’t blow another opportunity after misfiring on what could have been the winner at the end of regulation.

“I got a great look,” DeRozan said. “I was mad at myself that I missed. But I told myself, if I got that opportunity again, I wasn’t going to miss a big shot later in the game. I didn’t.”cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

DeRozan connected on 3-of-3 in overtime on Monday, hitting San Antonio’s last three field goals and snagging three rebounds to punctuate a 34-point performance in leading the Spurs past the Mavericks 113-108. The night marked DeRozan’s third outing this season in which he scored 30 points or more, and it further solidified him as the closer the club lacked last season, with former Spur Kawhi Leonard sidelined all but nine games due to a quadriceps injury.

It’s a role DeRozan relishes.11

“I just come in and do my job,” he said. “My job has always been the closer.”

Rudy Gay, LaMarcus Aldridge and recently retired Manu Ginobili alternated last season in that role, but the addition of DeRozan provides San Antonio a lethal lead option for closing out contests while providing Spurs coach Gregg Popovich more options down the stretch.

“He’s a really good player, and he loves those moments,” Popovich said of DeRozan. “He’s not afraid of failure. You know, Michael [Jordan] didn’t make every shot at the end of a game, but there are very few people who want to be in that position all the time, and he’s one of those people that loves it. Rudy was really that guy for us last year. He and L.A. [Aldridge]. But now we can choose between a few guys. We haven’t had that.”cheap nfl jerseys china nike

DeRozan ranks second in the NBA in scoring in clutch time (21 points), hitting 8-of-18 from the floor in five games, with five assists, six rebounds and no turnovers.