The Fundamentals

» October 12, 2009 8:17 AM | By Brandon Hoffman

Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman:  “Kevin Durant used his Twitter account Sunday to express frustration with critics who question his individual abilities and the Thunder as a team. Durant didn’t reveal who he was directing his series of messages to, but his target appeared to be a recent critical analysis piece written by that examined his talents and worth to a franchise. On Friday, the Web site’s popular NBA blog, TrueHoop, ran a post titled, ‘The Kevin Durant Conundrum.’ It explored Durant’s low plus/minus numbers and concluded, ‘Anyway you slice the +/- numbers, he’s one of the Thunder’s worst players.’ Durant responded: ‘Everybody that is doubtin’ me as a player and my team as a whole…all I can say is that we all are tryin’ and workin’ our hardest! What more do you want? Let me be the player I am…I come to practice everyday…and push myself to my limit, God has put me (in) a (great) position!!! I love all the REAL basketball fans who appreciate hard work, passion and love for the game…and not (just) ‘plus and minuses’…(whatever that) is.’”

Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel:  “Nobody has to remind Magic SG Vince Carter that his shooting percentage is unacceptable. ‘I criticize myself for my shooting more than anybody does,’ Carter said after Sunday’s practice. ‘I’m trying to take a different approach and not worry so much about it. I know it will come.’ After three preseason games, Carter is shooting a chilly 35.4 percent from the field and is even colder from 3-point land at 17.4 percent. The eight-time all-star knows how to get easier baskets. He acknowledged that Coach Stan Van Gundy ‘wants me to be more aggressive and get to the paint.’ Carter said his shot has felt good at times and that ‘it’s some little things that are fixable.’ Carter has taken more 3-point attempts than any Magic player. He has gotten to the free-throw line 11 times, making 10 for a sterling 90.9 percent.”

Benjamin Hochman of The Denver Post:  “In this preseason — and, I know, I know, it’s preseason — Melo has been shooting splendidly, which is a testament to his hard work with his personal coach this summer and, I hope, a harbinger that he will shoot effectively and efficiently in 2009-10. (Last season, Anthony shot 44.3 percent from the field, his lowest mark since 2004-05.) This preseason, Melo has had a couple of melodic performances, notably Sunday in Beijing, seemingly his second home. Playing at the same arena where he won Olympic gold in 2008, Anthony scored a game-high 45 points, which ain’t bad. (He also tied Chris Andersen, a former pro player in China, with a team-high nine rebounds.) But then, consider Melo’s efficiency — he notched his 45 in just three quarters of play and 24 total minutes. Not only that, but consider he missed just five shots, going 14-for-19 from the field (and, for good measure, 16-for-17 from the free-throw line). In that game, he showcased his jab-step jumper, which knee-locked defenders and gets Melo a window in which to pop a shot. It’s an M.J.-like weapon.”

Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle:  “For a guy who says little and says it softly, Trevor Ariza’s body language was screaming. He had been misfiring for a week, with the most recent misses or turnovers quickly accompanied by a shrug and shake of the head. He had come to the Rockets to expand his game, with plans to take it from sidekick to star. But now, even the shots that he sank so reliably in the Lakers’ championship run were betraying him. Through 2½ preseason games, he had made five of 25 attempts, missing his first five Friday in Orlando. Then late in his first-half stint of playing time, he grabbed a rebound and went the length of the floor, scoring in traffic. He began the second half with a 3-pointer and 53 seconds later, drained another. … Rockets general manager Daryl Morey has said Ariza does not have to become a star scorer for the acquisition to work for the Rockets, insisting Ariza’s all-around production with the Lakers would be enough for the Rockets. But he and coach Rick Adelman believe Ariza is capable of more, faith that convinced Ariza to sign a five-year, $34 million contract with the Rockets.”

Elliott Teaford of the Los Angeles Daily News:  “Phil Jackson isn’t worried about Artest going off script, as he has on occasion in his career with the Bulls, Indiana Pacers, Sacramento Kings and Houston Rockets. Artest won’t be the No. 1 option on offense, as he has been with other teams. ‘We really don’t anticipate that’s going to be an issue,’ Jackson said. The Lakers have a pecking order when it comes to offensive options, starting with Kobe Bryant and continuing with 7-footers Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum. Jackson expects Artest will pick things up naturally as the days and nights pass. ‘Kobe’s open, guys get him the basketball,’ Jackson said of the Lakers’ No. 1 offensive option. ‘He asks for the ball, guys find a way to get it to him. Pau’s open, they respect the idea that this is a guy who should get the ball in the post. Andrew’s open, you know, in a lob situation, guys will find him. That’s going to be the influence. You want to hit the guys who are open.’”

Chris Sheridan of  “By his own admission, Kevin Garnett’s intensity returned Sunday. And as one first-quarter sequence between Garnett and Yi Jianlian illustrated, that intensity was in high gear. After toying with the Chinese 7-footer in the first quarter both inside and outside, Garnett demonstrably shoved Yi’s arms aside and began bodying him up during a dead ball. The replacement refs quickly separated them, but as soon as they cleared away, Garnett immediately went back at Yi and bodied him up some more, raising his hands high in the air while pushing him from behind with his body — the sort of flashpoint moment that would have earned Garnett a technical foul from a more seasoned official. ‘I don’t know him, he don’t know me. It wasn’t nothing personal,’ Garnett explained, comparing the incident to an episode he had with Luis Scola of Houston in Boston’s first preseason game Wednesday.”

Marc Berman of the New York Post:  “Danilo Gallinari’s preseason is the puzzler, an alarming development. His presence as the next Hedo Turkoglu was hoped to be the biggest magnet to draw LeBron James. The Knicks should burn the DVD of their first two preseason games so King James can never see them. With a back supposedly as good as new and 28 competent games behind him from a shortened rookie year, Gallinari was expected to be the dangerous sniper from the perimeter. He was going to be the X-factor allowing the Knicks to escape with the close games they choked on last year (18 losses by five points or less). In two games, Gallinari looks slow, tentative and lacking confidence shooting 3 of 13. He does not look like a starter, let alone a difference-maker. After Friday’s ugly 96-84 loss in Boston, Gallinari’s body language in the locker room spoke volumes. At his locker, he was cloaked in a black sweatjacket, hood pulled over his head. He snuck out of the locker room as reporters spoke to Lee. The writers caught up with Gallinari outside. The Italian Stallion seemed more upset than at any point during his pain-ridden rookie year.”

Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Times:  “The coaching staff and players unanimously say poor conditioning exacerbated team injuries and eventually led to a 19-63 campaign. For Al Thornton, he said part of the poor conditioning was because of his diet. It was common to see a McDonald’s bag by his locker before a game. Though Thornton finished second on the team last season in scoring with 16.8 points per game, he finished with a 12.7 player efficiency rating because of inconsistent shooting and defensive decisions. ‘I was trying to add muscle,’ Thornton said of last season. ‘But that’s not my game.’ Instead, he is concentrating on a healthy lifestyle. Thornton, who has averaged 10.5 points through two exhibitions, eats small meals spread out between every two and three hours. That includes food such as egg whites, spinach, oatmeal, protein shakes, fruit and chicken salad.”

John Jackson of the Chicago Sun-Times:  “It doesn’t take a long look inside the Bulls’ locker room to discover that Brad Miller is a square peg on a team of round pegs. Besides being one of the few veterans on a young roster, Miller doesn’t appear to share many interests with his teammates. But despite the cultural differences, Miller has been a popular figure in the locker room almost from the day he arrived in February after being acquired in a trade with the Sacramento Kings. He quickly became a leader, a mentor and an occasional source of comic relief. ‘I’m a goofy son of a gun, a small-town guy, and they get a kick out of all the stuff that I do,’ Miller said. ‘If I like you, I really want to see you stay in the league. I helped Spencer Hawes a lot [in Sacramento]. I don’t know how well it’s gonna translate, but he was my project out there.’ While ‘project’ wouldn’t be the right way to describe their relationship, Miller has spent a lot of time since joining the Bulls working with fellow center Joakim Noah.”

George Sipple of the Detroit Free Press:  “Don’t be surprised if center Kwame Brown  and forward Ben Wallace begin the year as starters for Pistons coach John Kuester. ‘We still have a lot more preseason to go — we’ve got two weeks,’ Kuester said Sunday. ‘There are a number of challenges ahead of us to see how this all plays out. There are so many guys deserving of time, so it’s been challenging that way.’ Kuester acknowledged that Brown and Wallace ‘set a tone defensively for you.’ The coach wants people who understand ‘what it’s going to take for us to be successful defensively.’ The Pistons probably won’t get much offensively from those two spots, though, when Brown and Wallace are in the game together. ‘Then you say you got a lot of defense,’ Kuester said. ‘I think you’ve got to have a mind-set going into the season that we’ve got to defend to be successful. Ben has had some outstanding practices where he’s really felt very comfortable on the offense. He already knew it ahead of time, and Kwame has really stepped up and played extremely well.’”

Jason Quick of The Oregonian:  “A simmering feeling of unrest among the top two players on the Trail Blazers was put at ease late Friday night by coach Nate McMillan, who assured stars Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge that the bulk of the teams offense would run through them. McMillan summoned Roy to the front of the team’s private jet to tell him that from here on, the preseason will focus less on experimentation and more on the proven offense of last season, when Roy and Aldridge were the dominant players. Both Roy and Aldridge had privately expressed confusion and unease with the direction of the teams’ play in the first three exhibition games, when McMillan experimented liberally with lineups and play calls. … Before Friday night’s conversation, Roy, in particular, was struggling with what appeared to be a drastically different role. With an early emphasis on feeding the ball to center Greg Oden and letting incoming point guard Andre Miller make plays, Roy rarely handled the ball. That took away his specialty — the pick-and-roll — and left him aimlessly roaming the perimeter, where his outside shot has yet to round into shape.”

Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic:  “The best way to not be annoyed by a neighbor’s party is to be part of it. The Suns’ locker room is always staging block parties after games and practices. In a year in which chemistry is discussed more by the Suns than any science lab, the fun in the subdivision of stalls seems as pertinent as ever. The space-hogging Diesel parked on the curb moved out. That took care of the public-indecency violations that plagued the neighborhood. Naked dancing in the street is now Cleveland’s issue. The Big Offender, Shaquille O’Neal, took to showing teammates, particularly Leandro Barbosa, some Brazilian dance moves he learned . . . in the buff. ‘Too many times,’ said Amaré Stoudemire, whose locker abutted O’Neal’s lot. Fortunately for Stoudemire, O’Neal often changed in the training room and bypassed postgame locker-room appearances. Much like Phoenix, the locker-room village of Sunsville has undergone change and growth with O’Neal, Matt Barnes and Stromile Swift out and Channing Frye, Earl Clark, Taylor Griffin, Dan Dickau and Carlos Powell in, although Dickau and Powell ought to be only renters.”

Marcus Thompson II of the Contra Costa Times:  “Stephen Jackson was suspended for Saturday’s win over the Phoenix Suns at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, an outdoor arena, and also for tonight’s game at the Los Angeles Clippers. The suspension was for “conduct detrimental to the team,” stemming from his behavior during Friday night’s win over the Los Angeles Lakers at the Forum. He is expected to rejoin the team Tuesday in Oakland. But will the Warriors get Jackson the malcontent, or Jackson the consummate pro? The former figures to make Jackson harder to trade. Already toting a contract with four years and more than $35 million remaining on it, Jackson is no doubt less desirable when he’s causing problems for his franchise. If he wants to be traded, he needs interested teams to improve their offers, since Riley has yet to hear one he’s willing to accept. That reason, plus the fact the Warriors still believe the Jackson from the last 21/2 years will surface, might explain why they still would be holding out hope for a peaceful resolution.”

Howard Beck of The New York Times:  “LeBron James, the greatest player in Cavaliers history, is rumbling toward free agency. His future might hinge on a Cavaliers championship — the theory being that no one walks away from his own parade. So the franchise made the ultimate risk-reward play this summer. They traded for Shaquille O’Neal, banking that a 37-year-old future Hall of Famer will help James find titles and contentment. Preferably next June. ‘I suppose if you were a poker player, it’d be the all-in moment, right?’ Gilbert said with a soft chuckle. It certainly looks that way. Consider the possible outcomes: James and O’Neal bond quickly, the Cavaliers end the city’s 45-year championship drought and, amid the delirium, everyone signs new contracts. Or they fail and James becomes a Knick next July. There are other possibilities, but those are the two that will frame the Cavaliers’ season, and their one-year experiment with O’Neal and James. The goals and consequences are left unspoken.”

Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel:  “Teams across the NBA have made provisions to guard players against the H1N1 virus, more commonly known as swine flu. Symptoms such as fever, body aches and fatigue can be debilitating. Having one marquee player get sick or several role players become ill could hurt a team’s performance. Magic athletic trainer Tom Smith spoke to the team about swine flu and general health guidelines earlier this month, Van Gundy said. Smith asked players to notify team medical staff immediately if they start to feel sick or are exposed to a family member with the illness, because doctors can prescribe an antiviral medicine such as Tamiflu. Smith also reminded players to wash their hands frequently. ‘I just wash my hands, that’s all,’ said Magic power forward Brandon Bass. ‘We have hand sanitizer everywhere.’ The NBA has been in constant communication with its teams about the H1N1 virus, said Tim Frank, the league’s vice president for basketball communications.”

Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star Tribune:  “Kurt Rambis’ search for candidates with championship pedigrees as well as both head-coaching experience and aspirations produced a staff that includes Bill Laimbeer, the most insufferable member from the Detroit Pistons’ ‘Bad Boys’ teams of the late 1980s and early 1990s, two-time NBA All-Star guard and former Sacramento head coach Reggie Theus and Dave Wohl, an assistant coach on those 1980s Lakers teams and former New Jersey head coach. The only Wolves coach who didn’t play in the NBA is J.B. Bickerstaff, who grew up in the league because his father, Bernie, is a longtime head coach and executive. Bickerstaff is also the only assistant who held that same job last season for McHale and Randy Wittman. ‘If the players ask about situations, these guys have actually, physically gone through it,’ Rambis said. ‘They’ve lived through losing environments, they’ve lived through winning environments. With all our years in the league, we’ve probably experienced everything and anything that all of these players are going to go through. That experience is going to be invaluable.’”

Mike Bresnahan and Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times:  “The economy is struggling, but Lakers fans don’t exactly pause when dipping into their bank accounts. Winning leads to everything, including season-ticket renewals, which hit an impressive 98% for the defending NBA champions. The Lakers had the highest renewal rate in the league, outdoing Boston and Cleveland, which were both over 90%, though exact figures could not be obtained. The league average was 75%. ‘Good products can sell even in a bad economy, and the Lakers are a great product right now,’ said Paul Swangard of the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center at the University of Oregon. ‘Star power certainly drives that market and you arguably have the player of the decade in the lineup. People just don’t want to give up their coveted seats and be back on the outside looking in when the economy looks better and the tickets are tough to come by.’”

Benjamin Hochman of The Denver Post:  “Two times zones away, in a little college town, actually Collegeville, Pa., Dean Oliver is fixated on his Dell Inspiron 1420, swimming through a sea of numbers you wouldn’t recognize and sports stats you’ve never heard of, and in doing so, he’s making the Nuggets better. The 40-year-old Oliver is Denver’s director of quantitative analysis — the Stat Guy — who cooks up formulas and newfangled statistics to provide a different perspective of potential draft picks, free agents and possible trade acquisitions. The author of ‘Basketball On Paper,’ Oliver also helps Karl, the Nuggets’ coach, set priorities for on-court strategies. Oliver rethinks thinking. And by ‘Moneyball’-ing basketball, Oliver is helping change the way NBA front offices make decisions.”

4 Responses to “The Fundamentals”

  1. john amaechi Says:

    who cares about gallinari. lil’ bron bron is just dying to be reunited with larry hughes. they did go to the finals together after all. throw jay-z in the mix, madison ave money, braylon edwards, THE YANKEES.

    honey baby, queen james is good as legone.

    the chosen one is destined to be the king of new york like frank wizzite.

    countdown to free agency begins.

    this should be fun.

  2. Tsunami Says:

    ROOST! Long time no see, how’s life?

    Hoff – Sheed predicted the Cs would go 73-9. Where is are the posts flying around about how “confident” the Cs are and how all they are doing is providing bulletin board material for the rest of the league?

  3. john amaechi Says:

    Life is good Tsu. Real good.

    Let me know if you are coming to cow town. I’ll check my schedule.

    Last season was fun, but I think this season might be even more funner.

    this place will be a virtual cleveland hater’s club.

    shaq and bron together? it’s like killing two birds with one stone.

    i can’t wait! bring on the hate!

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