February 2021 Basketball Wiretap

Tom Thibodeau After Knicks Return To .500: All Wins 'Count The Same'

Feb 28, 2021 12:39 PM

Tom Thibodeau said the New York Knicks' 110-107 win over the Indiana Pacers that brought the team back to .500 for the season didn't take on any extra meaning.

The Knicks were at one point down double-digits in the game. 

"One game doesn’t take on more meaning than another. They all count the same. And wherever you end up, that can be the difference between a lot of things.

So we have to understand how important each day is, have to understand how important each practice is, we have to understand how important each possession is. And so if we want to fight for things we say we want to fight for, there’s a price to pay for that, and we have to do that.”

The Knicks are currently 17-17 on the season, and are the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference.

Julius Randle, who finished the game with 28 points and 10 rebounds, added that he took the matchup against Domantas Sabonis personally from a competitive standpoint. 

“As a competitor, sometimes there are just individual matchups that you take -- not personal like you don’t like the other guy -- just personal from a competitive standpoint. So it was that."

Ian Begley/SNY

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

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James Harden Says 'There Are Some Similarities' Between Him, Luka Doncic

Feb 28, 2021 12:30 PM

James Harden admitted that he saw "some similarities" between him and Luka Doncic following the Brooklyn Nets' 115-98 loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday.

"There are some similarities. He never lets anyone speed him up, and he gets what he wants. That's rare for a guy at a young age. I think he's 21 years old. And to be able to dictate the game and control the game like he does, we all know he has a very, very bright future. The Mavs got a special one," said Harden after the game.

The loss snapped the Net's eight-game win streak.

Doncic had 27 points, six rebounds, and seven assists in the game, with the Mavs returning to .500.

Rick Carlisle also acknowledged the similarities between the two players.

"Harden has been in a situation the last few years where the offense has really revolved around him. With our team, it does around Luka similarly, but our style is a little different than Houston and Brooklyn. Both of these guys are generational-type players." 

Tim MacMahon/ESPN

Tags: Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks, NBA, NBA B-Ball IQ

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Raptors Versus Bulls Postponed On Sunday Due To Contact Tracing

Feb 28, 2021 12:01 PM

Sunday's game between the Toronto Raptors and Chicago Bulls was postponed due to contact tracing within the Raptors.

The game is the 34th postponement of the season so far.

In addition, it was announced on Saturday that Pascal Siakam would miss up until the All-Star break due to health and safety protocol. 

Marc Stein/The New York Times

Tags: Chicago Bulls, Toronto Raptors, NBA, NBA Suspension, NBA B-Ball IQ

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Jrue Holiday Likely To Return To Bucks On Sunday

Feb 27, 2021 9:54 PM

Jrue Holiday is likely return to the Milwaukee Bucks lineup against the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday.

Holiday has missed the last 10 games due to the league's health and safety protocols.

The Bucks went 5-5 without Holiday. 

Adrian Wojnarowski/ESPN

Tags: Jrue Holiday, Milwaukee Bucks, NBA, NBA B-Ball IQ

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LeBron James Responds To Zlatan Ibrahimovic: 'There's No Way I Would Ever Just Stick To Sports'

Feb 27, 2021 2:06 PM

LeBron James responded to comments made by AC Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic saying that it was a "mistake" for James and other "famous" people to get involved into politics.

"He was the same guy who said when he was back in Sweden ... because his last name wasn't a certain last name, that he felt there was some racism going on when he was out on the pitch," said James, before adding that he does his homework before addressing social issues.

James was referring to a 2018 interview in which Ibrahimovic said he experienced "undercover racism" in Sweden due to his Bosnian roots.

"I am not Andersson or Svensson. If I would be that, trust me, they would defend me even if I would rob a bank. They would defend me, I tell you," Ibrahimovic told Canal+ at the time.

James continued, adding that he would never stop addressing social issues in his community.

"I would never shut up about things that are wrong. I preach about my people, and I preach about equality. Social injustice. Racism. Systematic voter suppression. Things that go on in our community ... So, there's no way I would ever just stick to sports, because I understand how this platform and how powerful my voice is."

Dave McMenamin/ESPN

Tags: LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers, NBA, NBA B-Ball IQ

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Brad Stevens Says Kemba Walker 'Willed' Celtics To Win Over Pacers

Feb 27, 2021 1:43 PM

Brad Stevens credited Kemba Walker's leadership for the Boston Celtics' 118-112 win over the Indiana Pacers to snap a three-game losing streak.

Walker finished the game with 32 points and 6 assists.

"I don't think we win the game without his will. I think that no matter how everyone is playing, when that thing was 18-4, he was the loudest voice. He willed us back into that thing. And now, we're back on our footing, [and] we have a little bit of confidence, which has been shot this week," said Stevens afterwards.

Walker had come into the game shooting 37.5% from the field, the second-lowest of his career.

Walker added that it's up to the team's veterans to sort of their recent struggles.

"We'll figure it out. That's on me. That's on Jaylen. That's on Jayson. That's on Marcus [Smart]. And then Tristan [Thompson] and Jeff are gonna add on to that, as well. That's on the veteran guys, as well as Brad, too. We've got to keep it together. We can't let nobody go in any other direction. Even though things might not be going as well as we would like it at the moment, but things could change really fast, so the only way you can get out of struggles is by doing it together."

Tim Bontemps/ESPN

Tags: Kemba Walker, Boston Celtics, NBA, NBA B-Ball IQ

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Draymond Green Following Career-High 19 Assists: Had To Make It 'Right' After Last Week

Feb 27, 2021 1:36 PM

Draymond Green had a triple-double, including a career-high 19 assists, in the Golden State Warriors' 130-121 win over the Charlotte Hornets.

Green said he had to make it "right" after getting ejected in the final seconds against the Hornets last week.

"A revenge game would be a bit of a stretch. I would say it's just me coming out and making it right. Trying to do whatever I can to help this team get a win. Can't just forget about what happened last week, so I wouldn't call it a revenge game," said Green.

The Warriors are currently on a three-game win streak.

Green added that the team is beginning to gel. 

"I think earlier on in the year there were things that I would see that other guys weren't seeing, but with the repetition, with the time together, guys are starting to see that. Kelly Oubre's been fantastic cutting off the ball, [Andrew Wiggins], obviously, I can always find Steph somewhere. [James Wiseman] coming and putting that pressure on the rim. So just me and my teammates are playing well."

Nick Friedell/ESPN

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

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Sergio Scariolo: Coaching Raptors Wasn't Too Different From '1,500 Games I've Coached Before'

Feb 27, 2021 1:25 PM

Sergio Scariolo said coaching the Toronto Raptors' 122-111 win over the Houston Rockets didn't feel too different from other games he's coached before.

Scariolo was named the Raptors' head coach after Nick Nurse and five other coaches sat out due to health and safety protocols.

"So it was kind of reacting every time to something different, but at the end of the day, we got the W, so who cares," said Scariolo after the game.

Scariolo has won multiple FIBA titles as head coach of Spain, also leading the team to medals at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics.

"Honestly, it didn't feel too much difference with the 1,500 games I've coached before. I felt that we were prepared getting into the game because everybody made his contribution and this is what it takes in a team sport like basketball," said Scariolo.

The coach, who added that he spoke with Nurse before the game, didn't know how long he would remain as the head coach. 

Andrew Lopez/ESPN

Tags: Toronto Raptors, NBA, NBA B-Ball IQ

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Kyrie Irving On Leadership Growth: 'It's Not On Me To Lead The Group By Myself'

Feb 26, 2021 1:32 AM

Kyrie Irving discussed his growth as a leader on the Brooklyn Nets this season, adding that he had learned from his previous experiences with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics.

"You gotta be able to galvanize the group, even when it's low and even when it's high. It's the balance of leadership. There isn't one leader. And I've had to accept that too, it's not on me to lead the group by myself, and be the hero that everybody wants," said Irving on Thursday.

The Nets currently have an eight-game win streak, with Irving averaging 27.4 points on the season.

Irving added that he now takes accountability for past failures of leadership.

"I'm grateful to be in this position to be able to set a better example now than I did then. And I take accountability for not necessarily stepping up to the plate or stepping up the responsibility for my own actions. I had a lot to do with success and failures of the teams I was on. I take my role very serious in terms of that, and I've been able to learn lessons from that to give to other. That's been the most beautiful part, is just to learn." 

Colin Martin/SNY

Tags: Kyrie Irving, Brooklyn Nets, NBA, NBA B-Ball IQ

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Rockets Hope To Turn Kevin Porter Jr. Into Point Guard

Feb 23, 2021 7:04 PM

The Houston Rockets plan on converting Kevin Porter Jr. into a point guard.

The Rockets are having Porter work on his development with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers in the G League bubble.

Porter is averaging 23.3 points, 4.6 rebounds and 6.1 assists per game on 44.1 percent shooting from the field while shooting 29.1 percent from 3 and 76.2 percent from the free throw line.

Porter's game has been compared to James Harden and the Rockets hope he can follow a similar career arc in more of a point guard role.

The Rockets also hope John Lucas can make a difference as a mentor for Porter.

Kelly Iko/The Athletic

Tags: Kevin Porter, Jr., Houston Rockets, NBA, NBA B-Ball IQ

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Billy Donovan Says Zach LaVine Is 'Deserving Of Being An All-Star'

K.C. Johnson/NBC Sports Chicago

LeBron James Says He Has To 'Adjust Again' Without Anthony Davis

Dave McMenamin/ESPN

Steve Kerr: Draymond Green 'Crossed The Line' With Late Ejection

Nick Friedell/ESPN

Devin Booker Calls Chris Paul's Fourth Quarter 'A Work Of Art' After Comeback Win

Andrew Lopez/ESPN

Joel Embiid Says He's 'Unguardable' After 50-Point Career-High

Tim Bontemps/ESPN

Nets-Lakers Averages 1.9 Million Viewers, Becomes Most-Watched Game On Cable For Season

Paulsen/Sports Media Watch

Zach LaVine Says Thad Young Is 'MVP Of The Team'

K.C. Johnson/NBC Sports Chicago

Jayson Tatum On Aftereffects of COVID-19: 'You Get Fatigued A Lot Quicker Than Normal'

Tim Bontemps/ESPN

Kendrick Nunn Reaches Starter Clause, Increases 2021 Qualifying Offer To $4.7 Million

Bobby Marks/ESPN

Kemba Walker Says Celtics Aren't 'Playing Hard' Following Loss To Wizards

Tim Bontemps/ESPN

Kevin Durant On Return To Warriors: 'It Was A Good Vibe All Day'

Malika Andrews/ESPN

Immanuel Quickley On Playing With Derrick Rose: It's 'Like Pickup, Whoever Gets It, Gets It'

Ian Begley/SNY

Devin Booker Says Suns Are '15 Deep' Following Fifth Straight Win

ESPN

Kyrie Irving To James Harden: 'You're The Point Guard, And I'm Gonna Play Shooting Guard'

SNY

LeBron James Receiving Warning For Violating Anti-Flop Rule

NBA

Giannis Antetokounmpo Says Jazz 'Look Like Us Last Year'

Eric Woodyard/ESPN

Bradley Beal Out For Friday Game Due To Rest

ESPN

Knicks Remain Most Valuable NBA Franchise On Forbes List, Warriors Move Into Second

Kurt Badenhausen & Mike Ozanian/Forbes

Derrick Rose On Tom Thibodeau After Making Knicks Debut: 'We're An Odd Couple'

Tim Bontemps/ESPN

Pacers Assistant Bill Bayno Resigns Due To Mental Health Reasons

Adrian Wojanowski/ESPN