Mar 08, 2014 12:12 PM EST
The Indiana Pacers were blown out by the Houston Rockets on Friday on national television by a final score of 112-86.
When the two teams met on Dec. 20, the Pacers won by 33 points.
"We're just putting the emphasis on trying to get better," Roy Hibbert said. "Since the All-Star break, we haven't been playing the best basketball. We've been playing awful."
Frank Vogel is less concerned and believes the Pacers' struggles are a natural part of the season's flow.
"Every team I've ever been a part of has had a stretch like we're in right now," said Vogel. "And since I've been here, we've always worked our way out of it, so I'm sure we will. It stinks right now. It's not fun right now, but we've got a good team and we'll regroup."
Mar 07, 2014 11:26 AM EST
The Philadelphia 76ers have lost 15 straight games by an average of 19.8 points and 25 of their past 28 games.
Some of that frustration recently boiled over in a highly animated conversation on the sideline between Michael Carter-Williams and Brett Brown.
"Nobody should be naïve enough to think that the benefits of this year won't be carried forward, despite the record, despite some of our pound-downs," Brown said. "We have done a lot to bring forward. We talk about the culture, and what does that mean? It's such an open-ended word and it means different things to different people. To me it means, what's the routine? From prepractice workouts to stuff we do in videotape to trying to be professional in the way we handle a shootaround, and on and on and on. So all these lessons, although the public might not see it because they pay attention to winning and losing, which is fair enough, I know what's going on behind the scenes, and we're ticking a lot of boxes. That is going to enable this program to move forward along with Michael Carter-Williams."
Carter-Williams was asked about the confrontation.
"Of course, losing is frustrating and it can be frustrating at times, but I don't think I was flustered out there. I was just trying to keep my composure and trying hard and keep my focus on the next play."
"I'm proud of them for understanding that there's more than on the floor," Brown said. "You want to have somebody not feel entitled, like they have to be on the floor and they limp over and can't believe they've just been subbed. Like there's a level of entitlement. You want somebody on the bench to say, 'That's a hell of a pass' or 'That's a great assist' or they run and help people up or they huddle on free throws. That part of the game is so undervalued in the NBA. What's interesting to me is that it's valued at every other level. It's hard to pull off because of people's paychecks and their age and their egos. It's not kumbaya college, but it means something. And when you really look at the good teams and you watch teams that play in June and May [playoffs], they all got that."
Mar 07, 2014 11:18 AM EST
The Phoenix Suns were widely expected to have one of the worst records in the NBA, but Jeff Hornacek has managed to get his roster to overachieve.
“They’ve all done something more than they’ve done last year,” Hornacek said.
Seven veterans on the Suns are averaging career highs.
“They felt like this year they’re going to get a real opportunity,” Channing Frye said of his teammates. “We all do something different and so they’re flourishing in that role. When you have a coach like Jeff, even though you make mistakes, you’re still going to get opportunities if you put in work outside the court. With some teams, they go in as the one piece and that piece is interchangeable and they don’t feel like they’re important. But everybody on this team is important. Everybody is doing the best they can and staying ready every night.” The reason we’ve been successful is, at any moment, somebody could get their chance so they’re staying ready. That is really the pressure for everyone to constantly get better and be ready and to really embrace what we’re trying to do.”
“The coaches have really done a great job of putting us in places to be successful,” Gerald Green said. “Everybody gets an opportunity to go out there and play. Jeff has confidence in everybody. A lot of coaches don’t do that. He’s just so positive and has so much energy and faith in us.
“I still feel like I’ve got a lot to learn and a lot to prove. I still have so much that could get better.” I could get better at my ball-handling. I could get better at my defense. I could get stronger. I feel like my decision-making could get better. My pick-and-roll could be better. I’m blessed to have the season we’re having but to me, if we don’t make the playoffs, this season means nothing to me.”
Mar 07, 2014 11:01 AM EST
The Chicago Bulls' offense has seemingly found it easier to score in the fourth quarter of games with the ball running through Joakim Noah at the top of the key instead of Derrick Rose in isolations.
Noah has become one of the NBA's best passing big men and he's also improved his play in the pick-and-roll.
“The thing about Jo is he can beat you a lot of different ways," said Tom Thibodeau. "Sometimes it’s the defense and rebounding. Sometimes it’s the passing. Sometimes it’s his scoring. His screening has gotten significantly better. His rolling has gotten significantly better. He’s significantly better at making quicker decisions. And that’s how we want him to play."
The Bulls still rank 27th in offensive efficiency at 101.7 points per 100 possessions, but they have had 106.0 points or more per 100 possessions in eight of their past 11 games.
Mar 07, 2014 10:30 AM EST
LeBron James has struggled with his shot in the two games since scoring 61 points on Monday.
James is 1-for-19 on his jump shot attempts in Miami Heat losses to the Houston Rockets and San Antonio Spurs.
Mar 05, 2014 11:01 AM EST
Rajon Rondo is shooting 36 percent on three-pointers this season, as he is seeing results from working on his shot with assistant coach Ron Adams.
“He was shooting better, from an opponent’s view point,” Adams said after practice Tuesday. “But like a lot of players, the technical part of his shooting, I thought, could be better.”
“I gotta give Ron Adams a lot of credit,” Rondo said recently. “He’s been with me since Day 1.’’
Adams said Rondo deserved the bulk of the credit, but their work together began with a simple notion.
“One of the things we talked about was knowing when you’re open and shooting the ball,” Adams said. “That’s a fundamental change for him in some ways.”
Rondo and Adams also examined every aspect of his shooting motion.
“You start with the feet,” Adams said. “You see how fluid the shot is through the feet and then you work your way up.”
Rondo's large hands also creates an issue with his shot.
“That’s a little bit of an issue with him,” Adams said. “It’s good to have big hands, but he’s working on certain things as far as catching and so on so that he can catch and release and spin the ball in the right way.”
Mar 04, 2014 1:07 PM EST
Like other major sports, the NBA has moved more towards analytics and have hired many general managers and front office staff with MBAs and degrees in economics rather than former players.
Phil Jackson believes that the trend has been in part due to owners seeking modes of evaluation they can understand.
"I think that it's a really important movement," said Jackson. "I think a lot of owners have turned the game, the general managers' jobs, over to people who are more analytic-minded than basketball hierarchy or guys who have been around the league. I mean it seems to be the pattern, and I think they speak their language because a lot of these guys are financial guys. You give them statistics — this stock has done such and such over the past three months, and this is up. This is a language that they can talk, and a statistical language that's pretty good. So I can understand that penchant. I do think that it's still about that being able to look a guy in the eyes and kind of understand that this one is going to go in the fox hole with you and this guy is going to be one of the guys who's on board with what we're doing. Yeah, he's going to be on the line when it comes to that time that's the challenge. And then the rest of the stuff kind of falls in together."
Mar 04, 2014 12:48 PM EST
The Boston Celtics have one of the most interesting front offices in the NBA with a basketball lifer in Danny Ainge working side-by-side with people from more of an analytics background.
Daryl Morey, who is considered a pioneer in basketball analytics, was previously with the Celtics' front office.
"I think that there remains great value (in analytics), and it continues to progress and improve," Ainge said. "Where we are as an organization today is much further along than we ever have been in the last 10 years. We're identifying what's relevant and what isn't, and we're continuing to improve those things that we can actually rely on and what things we can't rely on.
"You win with great players, obviously. That's the one way everybody knows how to win. But I think everybody is looking for an edge. Everybody is looking for little tweaks in the system."
Mar 04, 2014 11:10 AM EST
Jimmy Butler entered Monday having averaged 15.3 points on 52.5 percent shooting, 4.7 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.7 steals and 1.5 blocks over his previous six games, adding efficient offense to his already strong presence on defense for the Chicago Bulls.
"His demeanor is terrific," Tom Thibodeau said. "There are plays in which he defends as well as you can defend and they make (a shot). He comes right back and does it over and over again. When you can make a scorer work for his points, that's all you can ask.
"And then to carry over what he does offensively, to run the floor, move without the ball, get into pick-and-roll, to post, we're asking a lot. And he's playing at a very high level."
Mar 02, 2014 5:01 PM EST
The Miami Heat have been to three consecutive NBA Finals, led by the Big Three of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
Pat Riley did not respond to direct questions about the upcoming free agencies of his stars, but he did make it clear that they are all in the right place.
"He wants to win," Riley said of James on Sunday. "And that's all it's about. All the other stuff that's flying around like butterflies, they're just things. And he deals with it as well as anybody.
"I'm so proud of him and Chris and Dwyane, that they're able to subjugate, really subjugate their games, and look what it's brought them. And I think it can only get better."
The Suns stood pat at the deadline and could have as much as $25 million in cap space in the offseason.
Carmelo Anthony experienced his longest postseason run under George Karl in 2009.
The Knicks have lost five straight games and fell to 21-38.
The Raptors drafted Jonas Valanciunas and Terrence Ross with the picks that came as a result of their record.
Dwight Howard is getting the ball with the Rockets in unpredictable situations and scoring efficiently.
The value of Chris Bosh often gets lost for the Heat with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade receiving so much more attention.
An unnamed Western Conference scout offered Kyrie Irving as a player he has deemed to be overrated by the NBA community.
Chris Paul and Doc Rivers automatically share a kinship with their point guard mentalities.
The Nuggets have a 5-12 record since Jan. 17 as the season has begun to spiral out of Brian Shaw's control.
Pau Gasol was adamant Lakers players are going one-on-one too much and lack discipline.
The Rockets have given up 14.7 second chance points per game this season.
Other than a truly elite player such as LeBron James or Kevin Durant, draft picks have become the NBA's most valued commodity.
The 76ers could have six of the top 40 or so picks and nine overall in the June draft.
Gregg Popovich has frequently given some of his players strategic rest over the course of the season to preserve their bodies for the playoffs and also to extend their playing careers.
The Wolves are 1-15 in games decided by five points or fewer.
Rod Thorn acknowledges that losing games in order to have a higher draft pick is "definitely a strategy" for NBA front offices.
The Cavaliers had a strong showing during All-Star Weekend, with Kyrie Irving's MVP in the big game and a 31-point showing by Dion Waiters in the Rising Stars Challenge.
Chris Bosh adjusted to being a complementary star since signing with the Heat in 2010.
Harrison Barnes admitted on Friday that the Warriors' decision this offseason to acquire Andre Iguodala in a sign-and-trade has made the season challenging as he's been moved to a bench role.
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Tyson Chandler has been the Knicks' most notable injured player, missing more than a month early in the season.
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