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Basketball Wiretap
Basketball news gathered from around the net.

Lee: More Westbrook Shots Means Fewer For Durant

Russell Westbrook went 11-for-28 in a 105-111 Oklahoma City loss to the Memphis Grizzlies in Game 2.

The Grizzlies apparently prefer a high usage rate from Westbrook because it limits the number of opportunities Kevin Durant receives.

"We're fine with Westbrook taking shots, I mean, that's kinda what you want - the more shots he takes, the less Durant takes," said Courtney Lee.

Via Peter Edminston/Commercial Appeal

Griffin: Relationship With Chris Paul Has Evolved Every Year

Blake Griffin had the best season of his career in 13-14 and his ability to coexist with Chris Paul has also improved in their third season together.

"Every year (the relationship with Paul) has evolved," Griffin said Tuesday. "You can't expect two guys who have never played together before to just come in and just right away be the best of teammates and understand everything that they're doing. It takes time.

"You figure out ways to make things work every year…I think last summer was big, because we spent a lot of time together — not just (in Los Angeles) but also in China, doing tours (for their shared Jordan brand) over there. We went to (Las) Vegas — we worked out in Vegas a little bit. Little things like that helps build the relationship."

Griffin's production also jumped during Paul's absence due to injury.

"Blake was always like the little brother (to Paul)," Jamal Crawford said. "And when the big brother is down, the little brother has to step up. And me and Blake looked at each other, because he was like, 'Now we've got to be more aggressive. We've got to go.' He led with his voice. He led by example. He led us every single night when Chris went out.

"This guy just wants to be great. He really does. I've said it before — (Kevin) Durant (of the Oklahoma City Thunder) will probably win MVP this year, but with those guys being the same age I could see them going back and forth for years to come. ... Blake's one of the special talents in the world."

Via Sam Amick/USA Today

Durant Shooting 36 Percent Against Tony Allen

During the first two games of their first round series, Kevin Durant is 9-for-25 (36 percent) while being guarded by Tony Allen and 10-for-18 (55.5 percent) against everyone else on the Memphis Grizzlies.

Allen missed 27 games this season while recovering from a knee issue and appears to be healthier and faster.

Allen is especially adept at avoiding screens to stick with Durant.

Via Zach Lowe/Grantland

Bulls Excited To Own Two 'Invaluable' First Round Picks

The Chicago Bulls are excited to own the 16th and 19th overall picks in the 2014 NBA Draft.

“Yeah, because picks are invaluable,’’ Gar Forman said Sunday. “You’re capable of getting a couple of players that can help your team, and under the new CBA, you’re getting guys that are locked in contractually at very reasonable contracts. So in building a team, we’ve seen that draft picks are of extreme importance.’’

Forman elected to wait until all of the underclassmen make their decisions before declaring on the depth of the draft.

“Every year, you’ve got people speculating on whether it’s a strong draft, weak draft, whatever,’’ Forman said. “I think our philosophy has always been that there’s always opportunities in the draft, and it’s our job to find guys that fit our culture, our team, our organization. With two picks in the top 20, I think we have an opportunity to get two guys that can help us.’’

Via Joe Cowley/Chicago Sun-Times

76ers' Harris: No Shortcuts To Become Elite Team For Long Period

The Philadelphia 76ers won just 19 games this season while stripping its roster in the process.

"I think the season has been a huge success for us," Harris said Friday. "Obviously, I don't like to lose. In terms of having to live through a losing season, it's tough. It was incredibly fun to take down the Bulls [in the first round of the 2012 playoffs] my first year, when we were seeded eighth and they were seeded first.

"And I want to be back in the playoffs, and I want this team competing for the championship," Harris said. "And that's kind of what we're trying to do, but obviously to do that, to get to that point where you're an elite team for a long period of time, there's no shortcuts. We came into the season knowing that it would be a long season, that we were going to be putting building blocks in place."

When asked about tanking the season, Harris said, "we don't use that word."

"We played every game to win, and this is where we finished," he said. "It's a very deep draft. I think we're in great shape. … We don't want to be 41-41. We don't want to be one-and-done [in the playoffs]. That's not what we want as an ownership group. We want this city to be proud of the Sixers. And we want to be proud of the Sixers. And we want this to be an elite team that's competing year-in and year-out for a championship. And we looked at our ability to do that, having finished with 35 wins [in the 2011-12 season and 34 wins in 2012-13], and we said, 'It's a long road without a rebuilding process.' That's what led us to the current process."

Via Jaosn Wolf/The News Journal

New Bucks' Owners Hope To Follow Model Of Spurs, Thunder

Wesley Edens and Marc Lasry, prospective owners of the Milwaukee Bucks, acknowledged that they will be inheriting a franchise with the worst record in the NBA, a small market and the need for a new arena.

"First of all, I love underdogs, and I think Marc loves underdogs. The notion of buying into a team at this time in some respects is perfect. There is no doubt there is a tremendous fan base in Milwaukee and in the Wisconsin area for sports. All you have to do is look at the attendance figures for the Brewers. Go to a Packers game. There is no doubt there is a huge fan interest for it. We just have to create a product that everybody is excited about...In the NBA you can become competitive in a very short time if you get the right people in charge and you get the right players on the court playing the right way. I think it's a great opportunity."

"I agree with Wes," said Lasry. "Part of this for us, you can only go up, right? If you look at this, if we do the right things. If we pick the right players. If everything works the way hopefully it will and we can follow the model of San Antonio or the (Oklahoma City) Thunder. I think, look, all everybody wants is the same thing we do. Everybody just wants a winner.

"If you're winning, people show up. If you're losing, people get discouraged."

Via Don Walker/Journal Sentinel

Spurs, Clippers, Thunder, Heat, Warriors Finish In Top-5 In Efficiency Differential

The San Antonio Spurs finished the 13-14 regular season with the best efficiency differential in the NBA with a mark of +8.1. The Spurs scored 110.5 points per 100 possession while allowing 102.4 points per 100 possessions.

The Los Angeles Clippers ranked second, followed by the Oklahoma City Thunder, Miami Heat and Golden State Warriors. 

The Indiana Pacers, Houston Rockets, Portland Trail Blazers, Toronto Raptors and Phoenix Suns round out the top-10.

Click here for the full list.

Via RealGM Staff Report

John Wall Leads NBA In Corner-3 Assists By Wide Margin

Corner three-pointers are one of the best value propositions in the NBA as the league makes almost 40 percent of them as a whole.

More than 95 percent of made corner 3s this season have been assisted, the highest such number anywhere on the court.

John Wall leads the NBA in corner three-point assists with 109, followed by LeBron James with 89 and Goran Dragic with 66. Kyle Lowry and Chris Paul rank fourth and fifth.

In the drive-and-dish NBA, five of the most talented playmakers lead the league in corner 3 assists.

Via Kirk Goldsberry/Grantland

Amar'e: Knicks Might Be Best Team In NBA On Paper

The New York Knicks won't make the playoffs for the first time since Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony were acquired.

“They should have been a little bit higher, if you ask me. On paper we might be the best team, in the league,” Stoudemire said. “We’ve got great players on this team who accomplished so much. We just couldn’t put it together.”

Anthony has never missed the playoffs during his career.

“It’s not even real for me right now,” Anthony said. “We still have two games left, but it hasn’t set in yet, not at all. It’s hard to accept that. It’s hard to be happy in these times. It’s just a hard situation right now.”

James Dolan told Mike Woodson he believed the Knicks were capable of winning the championship before the season began.

Via Peter Botte/New York Daily News

Thibodeau: Carmelo Doesn't Get Enough Credit As A Very Good Passer

Tom Thibodeau praised the abilities of Carmelo Anthony after the Chicago Bulls' morning shootaround.

"He can score so many different ways," Thibodeau said. "He can post up. He can catch-and-shoot. He can isolate. He can be the screener in a pick-and-roll. He can be the ball-handler in a pick-and-roll. He gets to the free-throw line. He’s a great offensive rebounder. If you overcommit your help, he probably doesn’t get enough credit for being a very good passer, particularly to the weakside corner. He can hurt you a lot of different ways. He can score the ball very easily. It doesn’t take him much to get going."

Thibodeau agreed that his reputation as a selfish ballstopper is overstated.

"It’s interesting because with USA Basketball, they talk about him being a playmaker," he said. "He scores and if a guy is open, he passes the ball. I think oftentimes it’s who he plays with.

"It’s interesting, a lot of the things that you hear about him, I heard about Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen and Paul Pierce before they came together and won it. That changes perception. Carmelo has been one of the elite scorers in the league for a long, long time."

Via K.C. Johnson/Chicago Tribune

Anthony Praises Thibodeau's Coaching, Compares System To Popovich

The Bulls and Lakers are expected to be potential suitors for Carmelo Anthony.

Thunder Join Spurs In Securing Homecourt In Finals

The Thunder have joined the Spurs in securing homecourt advantage in The Finals should they make it.

Durant Compared To Len Bias By Monty Williams

Monty Williams compared the style of Kevin Durant to Len Bias, who was the second overall pick in the 1986 NBA Draft out of Maryland.

Russell Westbrook: Knee Injury Made Me Even More Mean

Russell Westbrook has played with an increased chip on his shoulder since returning from his latest knee injury.

Shumpert Forcing Turnover On 18.5 Percent Of Opponent ISOs

The Knicks have a defensive rating of 102.5 with Iman Shumpert on the floor compared to 111 without him.

Exec: Surprised Knicks Didn't Do More Homework On Bargnani

Andrea Bargnani is averaging 13.3 points on 44.2 percent shooting, but his defense and rebounding are a liability.

18 Of Past 23 GM Hires Weren't Former NBA Players Or Coaches

More outsiders' teams made the playoffs (63 percent vs. 48 percent) in their third year.

LeBron Concedes Durant Has Performed 'Most Consistent' For MVP Award

LeBron James praised Kevin Durant as the most deserving candidate for the MVP award.

David Lee Doesn't Pay Attention To Criticsm Warriors Better Without Him

David Lee was asked how he felt about the suggestion that the Warriors might be better with a lineup consisting of Draymond Green at power forward instead of him.

Pacers To Sit Entire Starting Lineup Against Bucks

Frank Vogel is trying to prescribe rest to his Pacers' starters.

Brett Brown Has Had Analytics 'Capture Imagination'

Brett Brown has enjoyed working with Lance Pearson, who was hired for advanced analytics and statistical scouting.

Irving, Waiters Insist No Issues Exist Between Them

Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters addressed the media together on Monday amid reports of more disharmony.

Frank Vogel Believes Pacers' Starting Lineup 'Looks Worn Down'

Roy Hibbert was benched for the entire second half of Sunday's game after playing over nine minutes in the first half.

Kyrie Irving Scores Career-High 44 Points In Cavs' Loss

Kyrie Irving's strong came on the same day when he expressed frustration about reports suggesting he wants to leave the Cavaliers.

Study Finds Isiah Thomas As Best Drafting GM Since 1989

Isiah Thomas had a Net Expected Wins Average of +1.7 per pick, with Tracy McGrady, David Lee and Trevor Ariza standing out.

NBA Admits Referees Should Have Called Goaltend On Jermaine O'Neal's Late Block Of Monta Ellis On Tuesday

The loss to the Warriors pushed the Mavericks out of the top eight in the Western Conference playoff picture.

Oddsmakers Expect Heat To Secure Top Seed In East

The Pacers are 6-10 over their past 16 games to open the door for the Heat.

Parsons Wants To Successfully Guard One Through Four

Chandler Parsons has prioritized his versatility on defense as the biggest skill to improve upon.

NBA Surpasses Last Season's Total For Games Missed Due To Injury

The NBA has already surpassed last season's total for games missed due to injury, while being on pace to also surpass the previous three seasons as well.

Anthony Davis Has 'Some Dirk, KG, Hakeem' In His Game

Anthony Davis has had such a strong second and unique season in the NBA that comparisons to former players have almost entirely stopped.
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