December 2018 Basketball Wiretap

Austin Rivers Draws Rave Reviews With Rockets

Dec 29, 2018 9:32 PM

Austin Rivers is earning rave reviews from Mike D'Antoni and James Harden since signing with the Houston Rockets.

The Rockets are 3-0 in Rivers' first three games with the team, with the shooting guard averaging 10 points while playing over 33 minutes per game in light of Chris Paul's injury.

“He definitely gives us some grit. He’s a tough guy. He’ll hit big shots and he’s not afraid of the moment. There’s a lot of good things you got to have for a good team," said D'Antoni. 

Harden added that Rivers is "a really good defender. He can shoot the ball well. He can make plays and handle it. Obviously, with the guys that are out, with him being basically free, it was a no-brainer. He’s going to have more than enough opportunities".

Rivers credited a familiarity with the Rockets' offense for his immediate success.

“We ran all the same stuff in L.A. It’s all reads. It’s the same offense in terms of 21 action, delay action, the pick-and-rolls, the one-on-one isolations. If you get a mismatch. you go at ’em. These are things that I love to do. I already fit in before I played my first game.”

Alykhan Bijani/The Athletic

Tags: Austin Rivers, Houston Rockets, NBA, NBA B-Ball IQ

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Luke Walton, Kyle Kuzma Say Lakers Need To Stick Together Without Veterans

Dec 29, 2018 2:14 PM

Luke Walton stressed the importance of team camaraderie following the Los Angeles Lakers' 118-107 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers.

The loss featured a 22-0 run by the Clippers.

Walton said, "I felt like we kind of started to splinter a little bit while [the 22-0 run] was happening. That can't happen. We can lose games, but we'll lose them together. When we win them, we'll win them together. No matter what's happening on the court, we have to stay together and keep working and figure it out."

Kyle Kuzma added that "we can't be a front-running team. When things are up, we can't just all be happy, and then when things are down, we're just separate from each other. So the biggest thing for us is just to always be together. Every team has rough patches in a season...it's all about us sticking together and just keeping it like a fist".

The Lakers have lost two games in a row, both played without LeBron James, Rajon Rondo, and Javale McGee.

Dave McMenamin/ESPN

Tags: Kyle Kuzma, Los Angeles Lakers, NBA, NBA B-Ball IQ

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Andrew Wiggins Gets Booed At Home, Criticizes Fans

Dec 29, 2018 2:58 AM

Andrew Wiggins was booed at home during the Minnesota Timberwolves' 123-120 overtime loss to the Atlanta Hawks.

Wiggins missed a potentially game-tying free throw with 4.5 seconds left in overtime, sparking the crowd reaction. Shooting 75% from the free-throw line on the season, he was 5-12 from the charity stripe for the game.

Following the loss, Wiggins addressed the boos by saying "that’s fans for you. We’ve got some s---ty fans and we’ve got some good fans. That’s just how it works.”

Jamie Cooper/Uproxx

Tags: Andrew Wiggins, Minnesota Timberwolves, NBA, NBA B-Ball IQ

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Ben Simmons On Last Year's Rookie Of The Year Race: Did You See The Votes?

Dec 28, 2018 3:49 AM

When asked about last year's Rookie of the Year race against Donovan Mitchell, Ben Simmons responded that “it wasn’t a [expletive] race".

“You saw the votes, right?…Did you see the votes? So what’s the question?” 

Simmons was responding to a controversy that last year was technically his second season in the league and thus shouldn't have been eligible for the award. He sat out the entirety of what would have been his rookie season with a foot injury.

Simmons received 90 out of 101 first-place votes in the race. He was booed throughout the game. 

“How do I feel about it? I don’t give a [expletive]. Honestly, I don’t. I’m not worried about outside noise, I’m not worried about anything in terms of fans, media, you guys asking these question. [I don’t care what anyone says] besides my teammates and my coaches, everyone in this locker room," said Simmons. 

Eric Walden/The Salt Lake Tribune

Tags: Ben Simmons, Philadelphia Sixers, NBA, NBA Award, NBA B-Ball IQ

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Donovan Mitchell Unveils Signature Sneaker

Dec 28, 2018 3:30 AM

Donovan Mitchell officially debuted his signature sneaker called the Adidas D.O.N. Issue #1. The acronym takes inspiration from his mantra of "Determination Over Negativity".

Mitchell stated that he wants his line to focus on accessibility. 

"My message with this shoe is that it's for kids ... who believe that they can do anything. I want my story to be told as such -- this was so unexpected for me. You know, it's only my second year in the NBA, to now have a shoe ... I want to help inspire kids so they feel like they can do anything."

Mitchell is the 18th player in the NBA to get his own signature sneaker, showing that companies are emphasizing star potential over market size. 

Mitchell is currently averaging 20.2 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 3.4 assists per game this season. His 40.7% field goal percentage is down from his rookie season. 

Nick DePaula/ESPN

Tags: Donovan Mitchell, Utah Jazz, NBA, NBA B-Ball IQ

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James Harden On MVP: It's Coming Back

Dec 28, 2018 3:03 AM

James Harden stated that he was the front-runner to win another MVP award following a 45-point performance in a 127-113 win over the Boston Celtics. 

"Of course I should be in that [MVP] conversation...I receive a lot of hate, but it won't stop me from going out there and killing every single night, being that dog that I am. You can name a few other people that should be in the conversation. But realistically? It's coming back," said Harden.

Harden is averaging 39.2 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 8.2 assists over his last nine games while upping his scoring average to a now career-high 32.7 points per game. The 388 points scored over his last 10 games is the highest for any 10-game stretch since Kobe Bryant in 2007.

Tim Bontemps/ESPN

Tags: James Harden, Houston Rockets, NBA, NBA B-Ball IQ

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Draymond Green: I Just Haven't Really Been Myself

Dec 27, 2018 6:38 PM

Draymond Green reflected on his current slump and admitted he hasn't been playing to his typical standards.

Green said he will be more aggressive on offense.

“My defender is going to have to pay,” Green said. “Whatever action I’m in, I’m going to start lighting their a— up. And that don’t just mean scoring, by the way. I ain’t been doing me. I ain’t been playmaking like I can. I ain’t been scoring when I get the opportunity. I ain’t been rebounding like I can. I ain’t been defending like I can. I just haven’t really been myself.

“Everyone’s looking at the scoring, and I don’t really look at that. Yeah, I got to be more aggressive on the offensive end, but I just got to be me all-around. I haven’t really been that.”

Green is shooting 40.7 percent from the field and 22.4 percent (11-for-49) from three-point range. 

Connor Letourneau/San Francisco Chronicle

Tags: Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors, NBA, NBA B-Ball IQ

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David Fizdale Focuses On Improving Knicks' Sleep Habits

Dec 27, 2018 3:36 AM

In an effort to find small advantages, David Fizdale pushed practice back two hours later than they were under Jeff Hornacek to give his players more time to sleep every morning. 

“We actually do a lot of education about sleep with our guys because everything is happening in your sleep — the healing of your brain, the healing of your body, the growth of muscle. That rest affects reaction time, decision-making, all of those things. We really stress it to the guys. We try to teach them the things that will affect their sleep and hurt their sleep," said Fizdale.

Fizdale also brought in a doctor during training camp to discuss the importance of sleep to his players and handed out orange-tinted glasses that suppress blue light intake to wear on team flights.

Teams around the league have focused on increasing the amount of sleep their players receive throughout the season, including not taking red-eye flights in the middle of back-to-back games. A 2011 Stanford study found a correlation between players getting more sleep and an increase in 3-point and free throw accuracy. 

Mike Vorkunov/The Athletic

Tags: New York Knicks, NBA, NBA B-Ball IQ

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Jazz-Blazers Play Highest Rated Christmas Day Late Game Since 2015

Dec 27, 2018 12:05 AM

The Christmas Day late game between the Utah Jazz and Portland Trail Blazers drew a 1.5 metered market rating, the highest rating for that time slot since 2015.

The rating was also 36% higher than last year's Christmas Day late game between the Lakers and the Timberwolves.

In addition, the Lakers-Warriors game this year was the fourth highest-rated Christmas game since 2002. 

Andy Larsen/The Salt Lake Tribune

Tags: Utah Jazz, NBA, NBA B-Ball IQ

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Vlade Divac: Kings Won't Sacrifice Future Cap Space For Playoff Push

Dec 26, 2018 11:51 PM

Vlade Divac stated that while he is willing to make a trade to help the Sacramento Kings' playoff push, it will not come at the expense of a potential $60 million in free cap space this summer. 

When asked if the Kings were a playoff team, Divac said "Uh… right now, yeah. If you look at the standings, we’re in the playoffs. But are we desperate to do it? No, we’re not. Do we want to be there? Yeah. Are we going to push? Yeah. The players are playing for it. We are supporting it. If I have to do something to help them, yeah I will do it. But not just from desperation and to sacrifice everything that we’ve built".

The Kings currently have $11 million in cap space and no first-round pick in 2019. 

Divac also added that he is still open to adding a first-round pick this season, saying "I have room to do that (by taking on another team’s ‘bad’ contracts in exchange for the pick). So if I can convert (that into a pick), yes. But it’s not something (where) I’m desperate to do it. If it comes, great. If it doesn’t, I’m fine".

Sam Amick/The Athletic

Tags: Sacramento Kings, NBA, NBA Signing Rumor, NBA B-Ball IQ

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LeBron James 'A Little Pissed Off' Over Kevin Durant Comments
Durant said that a "toxic" environment surrounds James' teams.

Dave McMenamin/ESPN

Kyrie Irving: Celtics Need To Get Past 'Ego-Centric Things' For Bigger Picture
The Celtics had a closed-down meeting on Friday night and another meeting on Saturday to address their struggles.

Tom Westerholm/Masslive

Draymond Green On Relationship With Kevin Durant: 'We Good'
Warriors teammates and coaches stayed in contact with both Green and Durant in the days following the late-game argument.

Nick Friedell/ESPN

Joel Embiid: I Don't Like Shooting 3s
Joel Embiid made it clear that he prefers to operate near the basket rather than take three-pointers.

Tim Bontemps/ESPN

Thomas Bryant Makes 14 Field Goals Without Missing In Perfect Shooting Game
The 21-year-old Bryant finished the game with a career-high 31 points and 13 rebounds.

Ben Standig/NBC Sports

Knicks Focused On Developing Young Players And Team Culture
Team president Steve Mills said that the Knicks are aiming to create a positive environment to attract free agents.

Marc Berman/NY Post

Celtics Hold Team Meeting Following Loss To Address 'Selfish Play'
Kyrie Irving added that he needed to be more patient and consistent as a team leader.

Tim Bontemps/ESPN

Jared Dudley: Joe Harris Is Modern JJ Redick
Jared Dudley added that Joe Harris is the second best finisher in the paint on the Nets.

Tom Dowd/Brooklyn Nets

Mark Cuban: Send Our Players To Slovenia For Basketball Education
Cuban credits Doncic's on-court maturity to a combination of Slovenia's youth basketball program and playing with older players in Europe.

Eurohoops/George Efkarpides

Shareef Abdur-Rahim: G League Will Have 30 Teams By 2022
The Nuggets and the Blazers are the only two NBA teams without a G League affiliate.

Marc J. Spears/The Undefeated

Buddy Hield Reveals He's 26 Years Old, Not 25 As Listed
Hield said he doesn't know why websites have him listed as being 25-years-old.

James Ham/NBC Sports

Anthony Davis Loves New Orleans, Doesn't Care About LeBron's Comments
Anthony Davis is eligible to receive the supermax extension from the Pelicans this summer.

Zach Lowe/ESPN

Rockets Set NBA Record With 26 3-Pointers
Eight separate Rockets players hit a three, lead by James Harden going 6-11 from deep.

Tim MacMahon/ESPN

De’Aaron Fox: I'm The Fastest Person In The League
Fox stated he was faster than both John Wall and Russell Westbrook going baseline to baseline with the ball.

Yahoo! Sports/Chris Haynes

Chris Paul: James Harden Is 'Best Offensive Player I've Ever Seen'
Harden wouldn't share the secret for his recent scoring binge.

Jonathan Feigen/Houston Chronicle

Dave Joerger: Luka Doncic Has No Ceiling, Unfortunately For Us
Joerger added that Doncic's game will open up even more once he becomes a great shooter.

Tim MacMahon/ESPN

Heat, Pat Riley Have No Interest In Long Rebuild
Bad contracts and a lack of a true star player have left the Heat with limited options moving forward.

Chris Mannix/Sports Illustrated

Sixers' Executives Want First-Round Pick For Markelle Fultz
Sixers' executives fear Fultz becoming a star after he gets traded.

Keith Pompey/The Inquirer

LeBron James Says He And Lonzo Ball 'One And The Same' In Playmaking Ability
James and Ball are the first teammates in 11 years to record triple-doubles in the same game.

Dave McMenamin/ESPN

Paul George Says This Season Is Best He's Ever Played
George is averaging career highs in points, rebounds, assists, and steals.

Royce Young/ESPN