The Fundamentals

» November 19, 2009 9:00 AM | By Brandon Hoffman

Sam Smith of  “Derrick Rose is averaging 13.4 points and 5.5 assists, shooting 43.8 percent without having made a three pointer and averaging fewer than three free throws a game. Even as a rookie when everyone in Chicago thought he didn’t get a call, Rose shot more free throws. He’s down in every category from his rookie season. It’s easily explained by the ankle injury that kept him out throughout the preseason, though even Rose is beginning to question why it’s lingering like it has. Rose concedes he’s not back to full health and still wears a bandage on his ankle that he never did before. Rose’s sees himself slashing to the basket and dunking like last season, but then he doesn’t do it. ‘They’re (friends, family and advisors) just telling me to go out and play,’ said Rose. ‘They’re saying it’s like I’m not happy out there. I’m definitely happy we’re winning. They’re saying it’s not me out there.’ There are many theories for this beyond the obvious of the injury. There is the change in defenses following Rose’s rookie year, the loss of Ben Gordon, the team’s best perimeter shooter and the slow start of the team’s current shooters. Then there’s the psychological considerations.  Rose concedes he worked so much on improving his shooting this summer that he did rely on it too much, especially when he first returned form injury.”

Eddie Sefko of the Fort Worth Star Telegram:  “Dirk Nowitzki made play after play, frustrating the San Antonio Spurs and Tim Duncan as he did. And then he went to the offensive end. Nowitzki had 41 points, including 11 of the Mavericks’ 15 points in overtime as he led them to a hard-earned 99-94 victory over the Spurs Wednesday night at American Airlines Center. But what people wanted to talk about most was his defense on Duncan. Nowitzki was asked to guard the Spurs’ low-post master during the final minutes of overtime and forced Duncan to miss close-range shots on three consecutive possessions, which allowed the Mavericks to pull away to a 97-91 lead and hang on for their fourth consecutive victory since losing to the Spurs last week in San Antonio. Duncan didn’t score and had one rebound in overtime. Nowitzki had 11 points, three rebounds, hit three of four shots and all four of his free throws. And still, playing straight up against Duncan got everybody’s attention. ‘We tried to switch it up all night and that’s what you have to do against a great player is mix it up,’ Nowitzki said. ‘I had him at the end and we were actually lucky on the one put-back. The other jump hooks he missed, those were big defensive possessions for us.’”

Mike Jones of The Washington Times:  “After missing the first nine games of the season, Wizards forward Antawn Jamison didn’t show the slightest trace of rust in his season debut against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday night at Verizon Center. Instead, the two-time All-Star put his struggling team on his back and carried it to a 108-91 victory in front of a sellout crowd of 20,173 fans. Jamison picked up career double-double No. 263, recording 31 points and 10 rebounds, and helped the Wizards snap a six-game losing streak. ‘Me coming back and just trying to stop the bleeding a little bit, we found a way to pull it off,’ said Jamison, who made 12 of 22 shots from the field and five of six from the foul line. ‘Guys did a great job of staying focused for 48 minutes. One thing I’ve noticed lately is our energy level has been down. Whether we miss a couple of shots or make a run, guys run to the huddle with their heads down, and that’s something that I knew that I could come in and change that and just move that ball from one end to the other – another added weapon for them to really key in on. I’ve been sitting down for what seems like forever, so I had a lot of energy. I knew it was going to be different from what we’ve been doing.’”

Tim Povtak of FanHouse:  “You figured it might be a long night for young Kevin Durant and his Oklahoma City teammates after he spent a good portion of his pre-game chat Wednesday talking about idolizing Magic veteran guard Vince Carter. ‘When I was growing up, I always thought Vince was the best. I still look up to him, and I’m still a big fan,’ Durant said. ‘I used to watch his highlights as a kid. When I was about 11, my mom bought me a Vince Carter jersey and shorts, his Raptors uniform, and I wore it to every game. I guess that’s a little embarrassing to say now, but it’s something I’ll never forget.’ Durant’s innocence was refreshing. It made him and everyone around him smile. But it’s probably not the kind of competitive edge that the Thunder needed from him. He is on the verge of becoming an NBA All-Star, but he sure didn’t play like one Wednesday night, sinking to his worst performance of the season. The Thunder fell meekly, 108-94, trailing from start to finish. Durant managed just 12 points in a pedestrian 26 minutes, looking more like he wanted to be watching Carter instead of competing against him.”

Dave D’Alessandro of The Star-Ledger:  “Brook Lopez took 27 shots against the Indiana Pacers Tuesday night, which isn’t out of the ordinary when you consider that three other starters shot 36, 33, and 42 percent while a fourth was still trying to get his legs back from the swine flu. But even the Nets center, who is remarkably unselfish for someone who has the potential to dominate, wonders whether some of those shots made sense. There is a greater perimeter emphasis with Lopez lately, if only because he might be their most consistent shooter from 20-foot range, but against the Pacers, some believe it went too far. The best example was in the first quarter: Lopez drew two fouls each on Roy Hibbert and Solomon Jones – the two Pacers centers – in the first eight minutes of the game. How many post-ups did he get in the last 10 possessions of that period? Two. But he faded away on one, and handed it off to Chris Douglas-Roberts (for a layup) on the second. ‘I don’t mind it mixed up, but there are times I definitely want it on the block,’ Lopez said. ‘I’ve talked to them about it. I guess they figure we were just going up against a lot of good shot blockers in Dwight (Howard), Sam (Dalembert), Roy, and I’d try to pull them away from the basket.’”

Marcus Thompson II of the Contra Costa Times:  “Raja Bell, who was acquired from the Charlotte Bobcats on Monday in the Stephen Jackson trade, stunned his teammates and coaches by playing Wednesday, one day after he announced he was having potentially season-ending surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left wrist. He scored 11 points in 23 minutes off the bench. He made 4 of 6 shots, including three 3-pointers, and had three assists. It turned out to be a one-game trial to see if his wrist would pass the test. It didn’t. Bell heads to North Carolina today and plans to meet Monday with an orthopedist in the Charlotte area, where he will schedule the surgery. ‘I wanted to try to help and see what my hand was going to do one last time before I made a decision,’ said Bell, with a party bag of ice on his wrist after the game. Golden State played just seven men in a loss at Cleveland the night before on Tuesday, and Bell’s minutes were helpful as the Warriors stayed close with Boston for most of the game Wednesday. What’s more, Bell gave the Warriors an example of the gutsy, scrappy, sacrificial disposition they need to be successful.”

Tom Moore of  “Welcome back, Elton Brand. With head coach Eddie Jordan thinking long and hard before deciding against a lineup change that would’ve put Brand on the bench and Rodney Carney in the starting five, Brand responded with his best game of the season in Wednesday’s 86-84 victory over the Bobcats at the Wachovia Center. Brand was a factor at both ends from the outset en route to season-highs in points (19), rebounds (10), blocks (six), steals (three) and minutes (42) for his first double-double since Dec. 12, 2008.  ‘Pride was definitely a motivating factor,’ Brand said. ‘I thought I was playing OK enough to play in the fourth quarter. I had good starts before, but still didn’t play in the fourth.’ Brand, a two-time all-star and career 20-point and 10-rebound guy entering this season, said it had been a long time since he thought he had to prove this much to a coach. ‘This is definitely a position I haven’t been in, but I don’t mind it,’ Brand said. ‘I have to do (a lot of things) for this team to be successful. I knew that from the beginning.’”

Michael Wallace of the Miami Herald:  “The same issues that hounded Miami in the loss to Cleveland, nearly haunted the Heat in the narrow escape against winless New Jersey and harassed it in Tuesday’s loss to Oklahoma City were back again. The combination of an opposing team’s length and athleticism once again proved to be a knockout blow for the Heat (7-4). This time, the damage was delivered by the conference-leading Hawks (10-2), who got 30 points from Joe Johnson, 16 apiece from Al Horford and Josh Smith, 14 from Marvin Williams and 10 from Jamal Crawford. Those players range from 6-5 to 6-11 in height. Miami couldn’t stack up. Atlanta used a 21-6 run in the second quarter to take control and pounded Miami inside all night to stay unbeaten at home and improve the league’s best record. The Heat gave up 60 points in the first half and was outscored 44-28 in the paint and 27-11 in second-chance opportunities. Repeated defensive breakdowns have become a concern for coach Erik Spoelstra, who has harped on the team’s ’slippage’ for days.”

Mark Bradley of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:  “The Hawks won their 10th game of the nascent season Wednesday night. In 2004-05, this franchise managed 13 victories over 82 games. A team once so far down it had to improve to get lousy is now, with the same coach and same power forward, tied with Phoenix for the NBA’s best record. Said Mike Woodson, the coach in question: ‘I’ll never forget those 13 wins. I’ll never forget walking into the locker room and seeing those faces, knowing we couldn’t win many games.’ We knew the Hawks would improve. When you’re 13-69, you can get no worse. But did anyone expect the Hawks to get better in quite this way? Jamal Crawford didn’t. A pro since 2000, he saw those Hawks firsthand. Did he foresee that woebegone bunch becoming the team that has become the league-wide talking point of the 2009-10 season? ‘I’d be lying if I said I did. You knew they’d get better. You just didn’t know it would be that fast.’ Five years sounds like a long time, and when you were losing at an epic rate it felt longer still. But think about this: It was only two seasons ago that these Hawks were still losing, but they’ve gone from 37-45 to 47-35 to 10-2 without changing a starter.”

Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic:  “The Suns are back to running! The Suns are back to running! Well, not so fast. NBA fans are falling for Phoenix’s high-scoring ways all over again. The system that made the Suns everyone’s second-favorite team has returned and shocked the shoelaces off the NBA, leading to a tie with Atlanta for the league’s best record at 10-2. But the story line has a new twist. The Suns actually do not run like they once did. In fact, they are an ordinary running team. Phoenix ranks 12th in the NBA in fast-break points, scoring 12.8 per game. They rank lower when factoring what percentage of their offense comes from fast breaks: 11.8 percent, which ranks 18th. That’s behind Thursday’s opponent, New Orleans, a 4-8 team that offers the Suns a chance to snap a 14-game losing streak on TNT (including preseason and postseason). ‘The funny thing about the style is that we’re not a fast-break team,’ Suns guard Steve Nash said. ‘We just move the ball and play together. We space the floor but we’re not a fast-break team. It’s just not who we are. We’re not a great running team. ‘It’s not like a relentless fast break like the first couple years. It’s not really the type of team we have. We want to space the floor and allow me or Amar’e (Stoudemire) a chance to get free in the paint and make plays.’”

Frank Dell’Apa of The Boston Globe: “The Celtics have become 3-point happy at the wrong times this season. Coach Doc Rivers finally stepped in, telling Rasheed Wallace(notes) to limit the threes, during the final quarter of last night’s 109-95 win over Golden State. ‘I got on him, and I rarely do, about the threes,’ Rivers said of Wallace. ‘Because even though he was wide open, it’s really tough. I mean, he was wide open and he took two, but we had just taken two quick ones. But he’s got an incredibly high basketball IQ. He’s been phenomenal in the locker room. So, I’m just happy to have him.’ The Celtics started the final quarter with two turnovers, and a Raja Bell(notes) 3-pointer cut the Boston lead to 80-70. Eddie House(notes) and Wallace hit 3-pointers, but the Celtics were then outscored, 6-0, over a 3:04 span. House made it 88-76 with 7:30 left on Boston’s first 2-point basket in over eight minutes.”

Loren Jorgensen of the Deseret News:  “Andrei Kirilenko, who started the first eight games of the season, is now back in the familiar role he played last year as the team’s spark off the bench. He scored 20 points — three below his season high — with seven rebounds, three steals and two blocked shots in his reserve role. Even still, Kirilenko was given just faint praise by the Jazz coach afterward. Jerry Sloan wants Kirilenko to play more fundamentally sound on the defensive end of the court and to quit taking so many chances. ‘Andrei had some good moments,’ Sloan said. ‘But he’s been here nine years. He shouldn’t be making some of the mistakes he does on defense. To me that’s really uncalled for because our philosophy is pretty simple. It’s not like we’re asking him to jump over the basket to play defense. (What we are asking) is to stay between your man and the basket. Sometimes he gets carried away and gets out of sync a little bit for a veteran player.’”

Howard Beck of The New York Times:  “The decision to chase Iverson would be a direct result of the Knicks’ ghastly record and a lack of faith in their roster. D’Antoni has seemed close to despondent at times, while Walsh has been somewhere between irritated and perplexed. As D’Antoni acknowledged on Wednesday, signing Iverson would signal a major change in direction. The plan until now was to make the best of a flawed roster and try to develop the young players along the way. Iverson would seem to be an impediment in that effort, given his tendency to dominate the ball. But Walsh suggested that Iverson, who once led his Philadelphia team to the finals, could be a positive influence. ‘If they’re not getting it done the way they are, maybe they can benefit by having a guy that can show them how to get it done,’ Walsh said in his strongest endorsement so far. ‘I think this would be a move to make it better for the young players to learn.’”

Kevin Ding of the Orange County Register:  “Pau Gasol was in such good spirits about being ready to play again that it was a good day to ask him how he feels about Phil Jackson taking some digs at him about not yet playing or not acting that well in ‘CSI: Miami.’ It’s par for the course for Gasol, who has been ridden harder by Jackson than most Lakers as the coach tries to maximize his potential. ‘He’s an interesting guy and has a special kind of humor,’ Gasol said, ‘and I think we’re all amused by it.’ Gasol turned the tables on Jackson, though, when told that Jackson didn’t think the ‘CSI’ spot was that great. Gasol proceeded to mimic Jackson in his T-Mobile commercial and defended his own ‘CSI’ acting: ‘I’m not too concerned about that. I think most of the population enjoyed it.’ Gasol was wondering if he might even come off the bench in his season debut — he won’t — but said about how much he might play: ‘It’s hard to say with Phil. He’s unpredictable.’ Told Gasol imitated his T-Mobile ad, Jackson said: ‘He has to get back at me a little bit, I think.’ (Jackson did insinuate that Gasol was a ‘hypochondriac’ and ‘baby’ Tuesday night.) Jackson said it’s all in fun and compared his light shots at Gasol to what he used to do with Vladimir Radmanovic.”

Arash Markazi of  “Magic Johnson would have no problem having Michael Jordan’s No. 23 retired across the NBA. In fact, he says if the league approves the initiative, he and Larry Bird would be the first in line to support it. Last week, LeBron James said he would switch from wearing No. 23 to No. 6 next season because he believes that 23, the number Jordan wore during his Hall of Fame career, should be retired league-wide in the same manner Jackie Robinson’s 42 and Wayne Gretzky’s 99 are in Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League, respectively. ‘I thought it was just fabulous that he would think about everybody retiring the No. 23 that Michael wore,’ Johnson said Wednesday. ‘Me and Larry, we don’t really get into that. We care about the game, and if everybody votes that nobody should wear 23, we’re going to be the first ones to say that it should happen. We all know how the game was and who’s made a difference, and Michael definitely made a big difference. Larry and I started it off after Dr. J and those guys passed it on to us, and then we passed it to Michael and he took the game to a whole new level. We’re all in favor of that if that’s what everybody wants.’ Regardless of whether James’ idea becomes league mandate, Johnson commended the reigning MVP for his attempt to honor the NBA’s past.”

Patrick Saunders of The Denver Post:  “Nuggets advance scout Chad Iske has the NBA at his fingertips. With a few strokes on his laptop keyboard, Iske can: Find out exactly how many times a game Lakers guard Kobe Bryant posts up, and how effective Bryant is from that spot. See how often the Mavericks run a blindside pick to free up Dirk Nowitzki at the top of the key. Break down data to determine how successful Suns guard Steve Nash is when he drives left, whether he’s more likely to shoot or pass in that situation, and whether he’s more likely to go to the rim or pull up for a jumper.  But Iske doesn’t simply get raw statistical data. He can also pair the data with video clips of every player and every play. And it’s all available online within half an hour after each game ends.  The service is provided by Synergy Sports Technology. It is basketball scouting for the digital age, and 26 of the NBA’s 30 teams use Synergy. The company even offers a way for a team’s coaching staff to prepare a set of video clips that can be downloaded to an iPod and given to players. ‘It’s very efficient, and it takes a lot of the legwork out of it for us,’ said Iske, who has been with the Nuggets for 11 years. ‘The change is amazing. When I first got here, we didn’t even have enough VCRs to go through tape. Now we can go to our laptops, click on Synergy’s website, and we get the information we need.’”

(Photo by Rocky Widner NBAE/Getty Images)

One Response to “The Fundamentals”

  1. JMal Says:

    Mr. Iverson, you are a great ball player and that no one can deny. You have to ajust to the changes of life a be prepared to be the best coming off the bench. You bought into this system long timeago as a kid. Yes you were better than everybody else you played with a they rewarded you because of it. Being the best; that’s what’s wrong with you. Why don’t you see for you to come off the bench does not mean your not the best, other men had to. I know you want to be the man who leads the troops first down the hill but that time has passed and now we need you to reinforce what the frist half can’t handle. Your still the man and don’t YOU forget it………….

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