NBA Lord's NBA Blog

NBA Lord's NBA Blog

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Tomahawk Tuesday: Clippers and Rockets get chippy in Chris Paul's return to Los Angeles

                                         (Credit: Harry How/Getty Images) 

On Monday, things got a bit chippy between the Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Clippers. It was Chris Paul's first road game against his former team and it appeared as though emotions were very high as a result. The Clippers won the game 113-102 and improved to 22-21 on the season, putting them at the 7th seed in the Western Conference. With the loss, the Rockets fall to 30-12, putting them now 4.5 games back of the top seeded Golden State Warriors.

Things getting chippy in an NBA game is nothing unusual. It happens all the time. What made this game a bit unusual is the way in which things got chippy. Typically, once the final buzzer sounds and both teams go to their respective locker rooms, the chippiness ends and both teams move on to the next game. In the case of this game, things allegedly spilled over into the locker room, with Rockets small forward Trevor Ariza trying to sneak into the Clippers locker room or something weird like that.

After the game, both Chris Paul and Blake Griffin tried to downplay what happened and for the most part were respectful towards each other. However, when it came to what happened in the locker room, neither guy admitted fault on his team. They both tried to skirt questions about the matter and not directly describe what happened.

Obviously, if you are the Houston Rockets, the biggest thing you need to worry about is what happens to Trevor Ariza. He's the guy that's been implicated in this bizarre story and if he did indeed do as is being reported, he could be looking at a multi-game suspension. Ariza is having a solid season for the Rockets, averaging 12.4 points and 4.9 rebounds per game on 42.4% shooting from the field, 38.4% shooting from 3-point range, and 89.1% shooting from the foul line. Losing him for any stretch of time would hurt.

As far as additional commentary is concerned, the guys on Inside the NBA found the whole thing to be rather humorous. Especially the part about the police being outside the locker rooms. I guess they think today's NBA is much softer than the league they played in.

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Saturday, January 13, 2018

Saturday Slam: Zach LaVine has solid debut for the Chicago Bulls

Zach LaVine had his debut for the Chicago Bulls against the Detroit Pistons on Saturday, scoring 14 points on 5/9 shooting from the field and 3/4 shooting from 3-point range in 19 minutes of action. The Bulls won the game 107-105.

LaVine has been recovering from a torn ACL that he suffered last season with the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Bulls traded for LaVine and Kris Dunn with the hopes of getting a quality young back court to build around for the future and they have to be pleased with what they saw. LaVine played a pretty efficient game and had no trouble being inserted into the starting lineup. In what has been a pretty bleak season, LaVine's debut gives the Bulls something to get excited about.

The Bulls don't have a ton of depth at the guard position as is evident by LaVine starting right away. What LaVine gives them is a quality scoring/slashing guard to play off the ball of Kris Dunn, who is more of a traditional pass-first point guard, averaging 13.8 points and 6.3 assists per game. Together, LaVine and Dunn give the Bulls a dynamic back court that is capable of doing a lot of different things on the floor. They can facilitate, attack the rim, and also score from beyond the arc. This young Bulls back court has the chance to be special in the coming seasons due to their versatility and compatibility.

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Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Tomahawk Tuesday: The Portland Trail Blazers are hanging tough

Every time people give up on the Portland Trail Blazers, it feels like they find a way to prove their doubters wrong. The Trail Blazers are currently 5th place in the Western Conference and have won three straight games over the Atlanta Hawks, San Antonio Spurs, and Oklahoma City Thunder. What makes their success even more impressive is the fact that they've been doing this without a healthy Damian Lillard, who has played in just two of their last nine games due to a calf strain. During this time, CJ McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic have done a really nice job of carrying the load and keeping the ship afloat.

McCollum continues to show why he's one of the best shooting guards in the NBA, averaging 21.3 points per game on 44.2% shooting from the field, 41.9% shooting from 3-point range, and 86.7% shooting from the foul line. Nurkic likewise continues to show why he's one of the top big men in the NBA, averaging 14.6 points and 8.0 rebounds per game.

With a healthy Damian Lillard, the Trail Blazers have a very nice trio that gives them a very balanced scoring attack. Lillard provides them with an elite slashing guard that can facilitate and set the table for others, McCollum provides them with a lights out shooter, and Nurkic gives them a sound presence down on the block. Such a combination is very tricky to stop in today's NBA.

The only knock on this team is that they don't have a ton of depth. Once you get outside of those three guys, there's not much else to get really excited about. If they want to get to the next level and make a serious push for the Western Conference Finals, they need to add at least one more piece and give themselves a little bit better depth across the board. As good as they are, there is a limit to what they can presently accomplish.

That said, this team has been very impressive this season. They're a competitive presence in the Western Conference and have the pieces to perhaps win a playoff series. If they can make a surprise move before the trade deadline, perhaps they can exceed their current limits.

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Sunday, January 7, 2018

Skyhook Sunday: What does Isaiah Thomas bring to the Cleveland Cavaliers?

                                        (Credit: Jason Miller/ 

Earlier this week, Isaiah Thomas made his debut for the Cleveland Cavaliers after sitting out the first chunk of the season as he recovered from a hip injury. During his first two games back, Thomas is averaging 18.0 points and 3.5 assists per game on 52.0% shooting from the field and 41.7% shooting from 3-point range. The Cavaliers are 2-0 in these games, defeating the Portland Trail Blazers 127-110 and the Orlando Magic 131-127.

The biggest weak spot for this Cavaliers team has been at the point guard position. Derrick Rose (ankle) has missed an extended period of time as has Iman Shumpert (knee). With both of those guys out and Isaiah Thomas still waiting to get healthy, LeBron James, Jose Calderon, and even Dwyane Wade have had to run the point guard position. With Thomas now back, James and Wade can go back to their more natural positions while Calderon can move into much much more of a backup point guard type of role. Thomas is the best point guard on this team and is the only guy truly capable of filling in for Kyrie Irving.

Isaiah Thomas does more than just run the point guard position. He knows how to shoot and put up points. With him back, the Cavaliers have a much more potent offensive attack than before. In order to compete with the Golden State Warriors, the Cavaliers need all the offensive weapons that they can get and outside of LeBron James, Thomas might be the best pure scoring option that they have. As good as Kevin Love, J.R. Smith, and Dwyane Wade are, those guys aren't good enough of a supporting cast around James to get past the Warriors in a seven game series. When you add Isaiah Thomas to the mix, I don't think that makes the Cavaliers favorites to take out the Warriors or anything, but it definitely makes them a lot more of a threat.

The addition of Isaiah Thomas cannot fully be quantified by statistics or analytics. Thomas brings a lot of intangibles to this team such as leadership, toughness, and determination. If you are going to win an NBA championship, you need guys who can play through adversity and step up in crunch time. Isaiah Thomas is one of the very best crunch time players in the NBA, leading the league in 4th quarter points last season. With him in the rotation, the Cavaliers have one more guy who they can go to in clutch situations, taking some of the pressure off of LeBron James.

If you are wondering how big of an addition Isaiah Thomas is to this Cavaliers team, I hope this article helped answer your questions. Thomas is a major addition to this team for his point guard play, scoring, and ability to step up in the clutch. I don't think the Cavaliers can win a title without him, but with him at full strength, they absolutely have what it takes to go wire to wire with the Warriors in a seven game series.

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Saturday, December 23, 2017

Saturday Slam: Michael Beasley has the New York Knicks in playoff contention

                                          (Credit: Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images) 

At the moment, the New York Knicks (17-15) have the #8 spot in the Eastern Conference and Michael Beasley deserves a fair amount of credit for having them in this position. During the last 6 games, he's averaged 19.83 points per game resulting in 4 wins for the Knicks. In two of those games, he scored 30+ points.

Beasley is a bit of a controversial player due to some off the court issues that he's had, but there's never been any question of as to whether he's talented or not. He's got a ton of talent. It's just a matter of him channeling his talent in the right way and not getting into trouble off the court.

So far this season, he's been a good citizen and is sticking to what he does best, which is getting buckets. The Knicks have been in desperate need of someone who can take some of the scoring pressure off of Kristaps Porzingis, which is what makes Beasley such a welcomed addition on their team. When you have a second guy on the floor who has the potential to go off for 30 points, things suddenly become a lot easier for Porzingis to play his game and not worry about getting double teamed.

The biggest question right now is whether or not Beasley can keep this up and if the Knicks can continue to make this push for a playoff spot. Personally, I really don't see why not. I was already optimistic about Beasley being a good fit for the Knicks when he initially signed and now that he's producing like this, my optimism is being validated.

It should be noted that Beasley isn't the only one stepping up for this Knicks team. Jarrett Jack has been another pleasant surprise, frequently scoring in double figures and doing a good job at running the offense. Enes Kanter has also been a really good fit alongside Porzingis down low, averaging 13.5 points and 10.0 rebounds per game.

While the post-Carmelo era is still in its infancy, Knicks fans have to like what they're seeing from their team. They have a legitimate franchise player in Kristaps Porzingis and have some quality pieces around him that have them vying for a playoff spot. It'll be interesting to see how this team does as we head into January and the latter half of the season.

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Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Tomahawk Tuesday: Comparing #8 Kobe Bryant to #24 Kobe Bryant

                                          (Credit: CBS Sports) 

On Monday night, the Los Angeles Lakers retired Kobe Bryant's #8 and #24. There has been a lot of debate about which Kobe was better and so I have decided to weigh in.

One interesting to thing to ask yourself when going about this debate is which number do you envision Kobe Bryant in when you think of him? Is it #8 or #24? Personally, when I think of Kobe, I envision him wearing the #8. I think the reason why is that I am old enough to remember Kobe when he was a rookie and also when he won his first three NBA titles with Shaquille O'Neal. I guess I just think of him wearing a #8 because that's what I first saw him in.

When looking at the stats and accomplishments of the two eras, it's pretty evenly split. #8 Kobe averaged 23.9 points, 5.1 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 1.5 steals, 0.6 blocks, and 2.9 turnovers per game en route to three NBA championships, eight All-Star appearances, four All-NBA First Teams, and one NBA scoring championship (2006). #24 Kobe averaged 26.3 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.9 assists, 1.4 steals, .3 blocks, and 3.1 turnovers en route to two NBA championships, 10 All-Star appearances, seven All-NBA First Teams, and one NBA scoring championship (2007).

While statistics do a great job of comparing the two eras, they don't capture the full scope of what made Kobe so amazing in both eras. In the #8 era, what made Kobe amazing was his phenomenal athleticism and ability to score at will. It was in this era that Kobe scored 81 points against the Toronto Raptors (2006), which is the most points scored in an NBA game since Wilt Chamberlain dropped 100 points in 1962. When he wore the #8, Kobe Bryant was as good of a one-on-one player that we've seen and there were few that could do anything to contain him. In addition to his scoring and athleticism, Kobe won three titles with Shaq, already cementing himself as one of the greatest to ever play.

In the #24 era, Kobe wasn't as athletic or flashy, but he was perhaps even more lethal. It was in this era that Kobe learned to share the ball and be the go-to option on a championship team. As good as he was during the #8 era, Kobe was still in the shadow of Shaq. In the #24 era, he won his first of two rings without Shaq, finally establishing his own separate identity.

When looking at how Kobe played during the #24 era, he was much better from a technical standpoint. He had a lot more moves and developed a post-game, similar to what Michael Jordan developed at the end of his career. Kobe made up for his diminishing athleticism with more tools in his bag and a willingness to play team basketball.

Personally, I think what makes #24 Kobe most special isn't the rings or the fade away jumper. It's the way he overcame adversity and evolved into one of the most beloved players in the game. I hated #8 Kobe all the way through, but I grew to respect and admire #24 Kobe with each passing year. When Kobe continued to play after tearing his Achilles and fracturing his knee, that was when I finally recognized how special of a player he really was. That fighting spirit and refusal to give up was made most evident during those dark moments. That was when the world got to see how much of a fighter he was and how much he loved the game of basketball.

Sadly, I never enjoyed watching Kobe play until the very end of his career. Back when he was winning championships, I hated him and wanted him to lose so badly. Now that his career is over, I frequently watch highlights of his games and admire his greatness. I even find myself rooting for him when I watch him play in his final game against the Utah Jazz, the team of my childhood.

Whether you love him or hate him, one thing that can we can all say about Kobe Bryant is that we miss him. If you are a Lakers fan, you miss cheering him on. If you are a Spurs fan or a Celtics fan, you miss rooting against him. Kobe's impact on the game of basketball truly cannot be quantified and while he never surpassed Michael Jordan as the greatest ever, he carved out his own unique legacy that he can truly call his own. There will never be another "Black Mamba."

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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Tomahawk Tuesday: Kawhi Leonard has solid season debut for the San Antonio Spurs

                                          (Getty Images) 

On Tuesday, Kawhi Leonard (quadriceps) made his long awaited season debut against the Dallas Mavericks, scoring 13 points and grabbing 6 rebounds in 16 minutes of action. The Spurs lost the game 95-89, putting them at 3rd in the Western Conference with a 19-9 record. While the game didn't go the way the Spurs would have liked, they have to be pleased with how Leonard performed. His shot looked pretty fluid and he wasted no time getting into a groove, scoring 6 points within the first 5 minutes of the game.

While Leonard looked good, it was still clear that he wasn't 100%. He didn't make a lot of hard cuts to the basket and didn't throw down any dunks. He looked to be about 75-80% out there and it'll probably be at least a couple of weeks before he gets back to full strength.

What's most impressive in all of this is the fact that the Spurs went 18-9 without Leonard, who is considered by many to be the best player in the NBA. Many teams would have struggled to fill the void of their superstar, but the Spurs came together and found a way to make up for his absence through playing team basketball and buying into the system of their legendary coach Gregg Popovich.

LaMarcus Aldridge in particular really stepped up, averaging 22.7 points and 8.1 rebounds per game. He did a really good job of being the go to option in Leonard's absence and really shouldering the scoring load. Rudy Gay and Kyle Anderson also deserve a lot of credit for the way they filled in at the small forward spot. Together, they combined for over 20 points per game and did a stellar job at giving the Spurs production out on the wing. Without Aldridge, Gay, and Anderson, the Spurs wouldn't have survived like they did.

While it will be no easy task for the Spurs to win the Western Conference crown, they have to like where they sit right now. They're 3.0 games back of the Golden State Warriors and 3.5 games back of the Houston Rockets. Provided Kawhi Leonard can stay healthy going forward, they're going to be really difficult to stop come May and possibly June.

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