Feb 12, 2013, 12:50 AM EST
The stretch big man has come a long way. I distinctly remember watching Sam Perkins play with the Lakers and Sonics through the 90′s and wondering how someone so big could shoot it from the perimeter so well. It was a little jarring to see. Perkins was 6-foot-10, about 235 pounds, and his eyes always looked half asleep — he made Tracy McGrady look alert by comparison. He wasn’t the most prolific 3-point shooter, but the way George Karl used him as a floor spacer and frontcourt partner next to Shawn Kemp was way ahead of its time.
Perkins was purely a specialist, but we’ve got a few different types of big men making Three Stars tonight. Apologies to Kawhi Leonard (more on him soon), Brook Lopez and Bradley Beal among others, but tonight was a night for big guys stretching out.
Third Star: Ryan Anderson - (31 points, 5-for-9 from 3)
If we’re talking “true” stretch bigs, Anderson should be first on every list out there. The 6-foot-10 power forward is on pace to lead league in 3-point attempts and makes for the second straight season, which is pretty incredible. We’ve talked about how big men have evolved at length here, but Anderson takes it to a whole different level. His 40 percent 3-point shooting makes him the perfect offensive pair next to more traditional bigs like Robin Lopez or Anthony Davis, and you have to give him credit for accepting a bench role after signing a big contract.
Although the Hornets’ place in the standings will almost certainly keep him from serious consideration, Anderson at least warrants mentioning for the Sixth Man of the Year award. He was a nightmare tonight in the pick-and-pop game, helping the Hornets to a big time blowout with his game-high 31 points.
Also, New Orleans? Love those Mardi Gras jerseys. It’s like watching three teams on the court instead of two.
Second Star: Byron Mullens - (25 points, 18 rebounds, 4-for-5 from 3)
Byron Mullens is a pretty awful shooter. Any other 7-footer who shot 37 percent from the field on 12 attempts per game would be told to go directly to D-League jail and not collect 200 dollars, but Mullens occasionally goes off for huge nights. Tonight was one of those nights, as Mullens scored Charlotte’s first ten points all by his lonesome. The artist formerly known as B.J. has gone for 24 and 27 points already this season, but his 18 rebounds were a season-high and helped snap Boston’s winning streak sans Rondo. That’s really the interesting thing about Mullens — the Bobcats are one of the only teams in the league who are in the position to ride out his brutal shooting nights so long as he can help elsewhere.
It may be tempting to tell Mullens to stop shooting so dang much, but what do the Bobcats really have to lose? If Mullens can develop from a 30 percent 3-point shooter to a 35 percent 3-point shooter, he’ll be a pretty useful guy to have around. Nights like this against one of the league’s best defenses will certainly buy him some time to see if he can become that.
First Star: Josh Smith - (26 points, 13 rebounds, 6 assists, 4-for-5 from 3)
The universal frustration with Josh Smith for taking so many long jumpers turned into laughter tonight, as just about everyone watching this game couldn’t believe what they were seeing. Smith has a lot of the other qualities of a stretch big man. He’s a good passer from the top of the key, and he understands floor spacing pretty well. But that jumper. Oh, that jumper. Smith is shooting 29 percent this year from 16-to-23 feet — an atrocious number made even more hideous by the fact that he’s launched 179 attempts from that range. A max player he is not, unless you locked a GM in a dark room and made him watch highlights from this game on a loop.
Smith is consistently a great defender and a strong rebounder, but it was the J that led the way against the Mavs. Smith channeled the spirit of Dirk Nowitzki in a closely contested road win by connecting on 7-of-9 shots from beyond 17 feet en route to a game-high 26 points. Check for a blue moon in Dallas.
Dec 18, 2013, 9:30 AM EST
The Spurs released Stephen Jackson just before last season’s playoffs, reportedly, because Jackson had been feuding with Gregg Popovich. Jackson could have been bitter, but he wasn’t. Even as San Antonio made the NBA Finals, he said, “I wouldn’t want me on the team, either.” If nothing else, Jackson tells it like it is. If…
Dec 18, 2013, 8:44 AM EST
After two straight game winners, it’s time for any team facing the Blazers in a late game situation to force the ball out of Damian Lillard‘s hands. He has that clutch gene. In the latest edition of the PBT Podcast myself and Eyton Shander of NBC Sports Radio discuss the Blazers fast start and how much…
Dec 18, 2013, 8:00 AM EST
The Signature Series takes a look at a play that’s largely unique to one team. Here’s San Antonio’s “Hammer” set. The San Antonio Spurs don’t get enough credit for keeping up with the times. Although the end result is often the same as it has always been – Tim Duncan facing up and banking a…
Dec 18, 2013, 2:49 AM EST
Our quick look around the NBA, or what you missed while salivating over the idea of a “Rounders” sequel. Or wincing at the idea. (Count me with the latter group.) Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers. Two clutch game winners in a row. Tuesday night he had 23 of his 36 points in the second half…
Dec 18, 2013, 1:15 AM EST
To me, that looked like the start of a punch that Jordan Hamilton thought better of before it landed but couldn’t stop. And Hamilton is going to get suspended for that. Less than a minute into the fourth quarter of a game where the Thunder were in control (up 10), the Thunder were heading back…
Dec 17, 2013, 11:10 PM EST
This is the one thing that is certain: Omer Asik will get his wish and be traded in the next 48 hours. Houston still plans to move him by Dec. 19 — after that date and they can’t flip any of the assets they get at the trade deadline. Where he is going to land…
Dec 17, 2013, 9:39 PM EST
Just two nights ago, Damian Lillard hit the game winner in overtime to lift the Blazers over the Pistons. Tuesday night he was playing the hero again. The Blazers and Cavaliers were tied 116-116 with 7.1 seconds left and Portland inbounded the ball and went with the simple 1-4 flat play and let Lillard create. I’m…
Dec 17, 2013, 8:17 PM EST
San Antonio’s ability to be without a player, just plug in another guy and make it work is the stuff of legend. However, it’s a lot harder for them to do this with Tony Parker than anyone else — he is the focal point of the offense. Yet that’s what the Spurs are going to…
Dec 17, 2013, 7:13 PM EST
Because the Knicks don’t have enough other issues to deal with… Mike Woodson said on Tuesday afternoon that he could be without Amar’e Stoudemire for a while — with Kenyon Martin out too Tyson Chandler can’t bet back fast enough (likely Friday). Here’s Woodson’s direct quite, via ESPNNewYork.com. “Amar’e’s going to be out a while,”…
Dec 17, 2013, 6:01 PM EST
You need to go back seven seasons to find one where at least one NBA coach wasn’t canned before Christmas. Right now we are eight days away from Santa’s visit and it looks like he once again may not bring any pink slips in his bag. If that changes, it’s because of the Knicks. While…
Dec 17, 2013, 5:04 PM EST
It’s been known for a while the Cavaliers have been testing the trade market for Dion Waiters. We told you last week that there was buzz the Sixers could look to move Evan Turner — he leads them in scoring and as a free agent this summer could draw a bigger contract than they want…
Dec 17, 2013, 4:17 PM EST
Golden State is just one more loss away from being a .500 team — for all the sexy play of their sharpshooters they are not playing good defense anymore not winning games (6-9 in last 15, with the 17th ranked defense in the league). Who they miss is Andre Iguodala — and they could get…
Dec 17, 2013, 3:47 PM EST
UPDATE 3:47 pm: It didn’t take long for multiple quality sources to shoot this idea down. Spoke w/source moments ago who said the latest Rajon Rondo rumor that he will be traded to the Sacramento #Kings, is "not happening."— A. Sherrod Blakely (@SherrodbCSN) December 17, 2013 FYI re: Rajon Rondo rumor, Celtics & Kings have…
Dec 17, 2013, 3:15 PM EST
Google search records are not the best way to test the popularity of something, but it is a pretty democratic way. Bottom line is you find out who people want to find out more about. As a fun little NBA treat, Google released Tuesday their most searched NBA players… and if you have to guess…
Dec 17, 2013, 1:59 PM EST
Last we checked on Brian Shaw, the Nuggets coach was blaming his team’s slow starts on pizza and nachos. But replacing the junk food with healthier options hasn’t turned Denver’s fortunes early in games. The Nuggets have lost all eight first quarters this month, though they’ve gone 5-3 in those games. The issue isn’t isolated…
Dec 17, 2013, 1:25 PM EST
If you still want to buy Michael Jordan’s home you can — it’s still on the market. Jordan has been trying to sell his Chicago compound — which has 9 bedrooms, 15 bathrooms, a dining room table that is like a grid of the city of Bagdad, a pool with a grass island in the…
Dec 17, 2013, 12:57 PM EST
Chris Kaman, after doing it with the Mavericks last season, knows playing on a one-year contract comes with all kinds of complications. Before the season, he said: There’s just so many things that can happen, and the biggest one is that you’re on a one-year deal and you’re worried about it the whole time and…
Dec 17, 2013, 12:22 PM EST
There wasn’t much to see after halftime of the Heat’s easy win over the Jazz — Utah got the ball inside and scored on second chance points in the first half, but talent wins out in the NBA and Miami has much more than Utah. Miami turned this into a rout. However one potentially important…
Dec 17, 2013, 11:44 AM EST
Alec Burks scored a career-high 31 points against the Heat on Monday night, so let’s all overreact. That should be easy for Marvin Williams, who’s been overreacting to his Jazz teammate’s good play for a while. Via Aaron Falk of The Salt Lake Tribune: “He had a hell of a game,” Utah forward Marvin Williams…
Dec 17, 2013, 11:15 AM EST
The NBA warned Tony Wroten for flopping, and he deserved it. Here’s video (hat tip: Ben Golliver of Point Forward): Wroten was wide open when he shot, and he still fell. He clearly stuck his foot out to either draw contact or lose his balance. It’s the type of play that could get someone injured.…
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- Mike D’Antoni to Pau Gasol: “There’s no reason to not play hard” (45)