LOS ANGELES — James Harden scored 36 points and handed out nine assists, and the Houston Rockets won their sixth consecutive road game with a 118-95 victory against the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday night at Staples Center. … night at Staples Center. Houston has won all six road games in the streak by at least 15 points, setting an NBA record. Eric Gordon scored 22 points off the bench and Chris Paul finished with 21 points … Continue reading “Kings of the road: Rockets trounce Lakers”
By James Blackburn
Second Round of Western Conference NBA Playoffs- Game 7
Thunder win 105-90
James Harden (31 min, 6-10 FG, 4-8 3pt, 4 reb, 3 assist, 4 steals, 17 TP)
Strengths – Smart player who makes good decisions. Solid all-around type player who is versatile and can do many things well; reminds me of Josh Howard. He plays a similar role to the one that Howard played in Dallas. Spaces the floor with his outside shooting. Has the ability to shoot with feet set off the catch, and can also create his own offense where he can shoot off the dribble and attack the basket because of athleticism. Poised and calm throughout game. Good rebounder and passer. Moves well without the ball and floats to the right area of the floor where guard can see him off of penetration. Plays the passing lines well and is a solid defender in general.
Weaknesses – One of the things that makes Harden so good is that he does a great job of maximizing his skills and strengths, and minimizing his weaknesses. With that said, Harden needs to continue to improve his dribbling. Sometimes when he attacks the basket, his handle is a little shaky and he losses control. He was ineffective from the line today (1-4) but has been a 80% FT shooter for his career.
Overview – The more and more I get to watch Harden the more I like his game and the way he plays. He is not flashy and is humble in how he plays. He is such an all-around talent and contributes in so many ways to help his team win. Harden is probably one of the reasons the Thunder were willing to part ways with Jeff Green (among others, like needing another big). The trade has allowed Harden to play more minutes and to become the third option behind Durant and Westbrook. He is stepped into this new role and has flourished. Harden continues to improve every year and his contributions will continue to go mostly unnoticed because of Durant and Westbrook playing on the same team. Has the potential to be an All Star with in a couple of years.
Zach Randolph (38 minutes, 6-15 FG, 5-6 FT, 10 reb, 1 blk, 1 st, 17 TP)
Strengths – Great midrange shooter. Can hit the 15-18 foot jump shot with consistency from any angle, but he prefers the baseline. Good pick-and-pop player because of shooting ability. Does a good job of drawing contact. Does a good job of shielding more athletic and taller defenders with body and creating space with his strength and width. Patient in the post. Does a nice job of catching, turning, and facing the basket, where he displays solid footwork and patience and takes what the defense gives him – very much like Tim Duncan in that regard. Lefty. Never gives up on the play – scrappy and physical, not the prettiest game. Unconventional style.
Weaknesses – Does a decent job of getting up and down the floor for size, but needs to continue working on getting back on D quicker. Poor P/R defense. Not athletic or long, but uses size well like Charles Barkley used to. Good rebounder in general, but missed more than a couple of box out assignments from the weak side today where his man got the offensive rebound and scored. Forced some shots early in the game against great post defense, but in the second half did a better job of passing out of the double team. He only had 1 assist, but this can not be blamed solely on Randolph. The Grizzlies team struggled today from the field hitting only 39% for the game.
Overview – One of Randolph’s best seasons since being in the NBA. Rewarded by being named to the All-NBA 3rd team. Not the best performance by the big man today, but give OKC players credit. They did a great job defending him and threw some double teams on him in the second half. The Grizzlies ran the offense through him practically the entire second him, but Randolph had difficulty scoring over Ibaka and Collison today.
Shane Battier (27 min, 2-6 FG, 4 reb, 1 st, 4 TP)
Strengths – Good set shooter from 3. Talks on defense and does a good job of playing help defense and being in good defensive position. Gets hand up on shooters.
Weaknesses – Good defender in general, but is slow moving laterally. Can not create his own offense. On a 2 on 1 break, he floated to the corner for the 3, when he could have had a wide open lay up.
Overview – Battier was a great pick up for Memphis and was one of the most underrated and overlooked mid-season pickups in the NBA this year. Battier’s grit, toughness, and smarts were one of the big reasons Memphis had made it this far. He has taken a lot of the principals that were taught to him at Duke and carried them to the NBA. Great role player.
Marc Gasol (37 min, 4-10 FG, 4-4 FT, 7 reb, 2 blk, 12 TP)
Strengths – Strong rebounder. Good passer; throws good outlet passes to guards leaking out. Sets wide screens. Great post defender, plays big and tough, makes himself tall and wide. Likes turn around jumper from over his right shoulder.
Weaknesses – Must continue to work on midrange/FT area jumper. Kendrick Perkins would give him a lot of space and dare him to shoot that shot today. Complained to the officials several times about a no call, while other team went down court and scored.
Overview – Gasol is a great complementary piece next to Randolph. He does all the dirty work, defends, and sets screens. Any scoring he does is an added bonus. His offensive game has improved immensely since coming into the league. Settled for the easy play today at times offensively instead of attacking, evidence by his 4-10 shooting. Gasol and Randolph should serve as one of the league’s most feared front courts for years to come.
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Some video of Byron (aka BJ) Mullens and James Harden during the 2010 NBA Summer league. Both Harden and Mullen had solid summer league outings and are looking at building on last season.
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By James Blackburn
James scouted the 2010 NBA Summer League games in Orlando, FL, and has compiled his list of the best players from all of the games played. This list represents just the play from the summer league games.
James’ Note: These teams and selections are based off of what I saw in the first 3 days of the League. There were 2 days, I was not there- Thursday and Friday- so I missed 2 games. I was able to see each player play in 3 games live. These, are in my mind the top players based on their performances. The stats beside each player are his accumulated statistics through the first 3 games.
Each team is composed of 2 guards, 2 forwards, and a center.
G- Eric Maynor (Thunder)- 91 min, 15-29 FG, 3-6 3 pt, 10-14 FT, 3 rpg, 5 apg, 1 spg, 14.3 ppg
G- Jrue Holiday (76ers)- 97 min, 18-38 FG, 4-12 3pt, 18-28 FT, 2 rpg, 6 apg, 2 spg, 19 ppg
F- Terrence Williams (Nets)- 102 min, 24-56 FG, 2-6 3pt, 19-29 FT, 4 rpg, 7 apg, 1 spg, 23 ppg
F- Paul George ( Pacers)- 86 min, 12-31 FG, 2-14 3pt, 11-12 FT, 7 rpg, 2 apg, 3 spg, 12.3 ppg
C- Byron Mullens (Thunder)- 85 min, 15-30 FG, 22-33 FT, 5.3 rpg, 0.33 apg, 1 spg, 1 bpg, 17.3 ppg
G-Lance Stephenson ( Pacers)- 84 min, 21-28 FG, 13-19 FT, 3 rpg, 2 apg, 1 bpg, 18.3 ppg
G- Gerald Henderson (Bobcats)- 93 min, 14-33 FG, 2-7 3pt, 18-20 FT, 3.3 rpg, 3 apg, 1 spg, 16 ppg
F- Damion James (Nets)- 96 min, 21-48 FG, 4-10 3 pt, 16-28 FT, 6.3 rpg, 1 apg, 1 spg, 20.7 ppg
F- Derrick Brown (Bobcats)-93 min, 16-31 FG, 2-4 3pt, 12-17 FT, 6 rpg, 1 spg, 15.3 ppg
C- Marreese Speights (76ers)- 87 min, 15-42 FG, 8-9 FT, 9 rpg, 1 asp, 1 spg, 12.7 ppg
G-Jodie Meeks (76ers)- 87 min, 15-37 FG, 4-12 3pt, 18-21 FT, 4 rpg, 2 apg, 1 spg, 17.3 ppg
G-James Harden ( Thunder)- 101 min, 9-27 FG, 1-12 3 pt, 40-46 FT, 4.3 rpg, 2 apg, 2 spg, 1 bpg, 19.7 ppg
F- Luke Harangody (Celtics)- 79 min, 18-36 FG, 6-12 3pt, 7-8 FT, 6.3 rpg, 1 apg, 1 bpg, 16.3 ppg
F- Magnum Rolle (Pacers)- 78 min, 13-22 FG, 0-1 3pt, 6-9 FT, 5.3 rpg, 3 bpg, 10.7 ppg
C- Kosta Koufos (Jazz)- 72 min, 12-25 FG, 12-20 FT, 8.3 rpg, 2.5 bpg, 12 ppg
Players To Watch (Note-could not be selected to 1/2/3 teams to be eligible)
Best Undrafted Player
Jaycee Carroll (Celtics- PG undrafted out of Utah State)-82 min, 17-38 FG, 2-10 3pt, 4-7 FT, 3.7 rpg, 3 apg, 1 spg, 13.3 ppg
Best 2nd round draft pick
Jeremy Evans (Jazz)- 45 min, 4-8 FG, 2-3 FT, 2.7 rpg, 1 apg, 1 spg, 1 bpg, 3.3 ppg
By James Blackburn
James continues his scouting of the NBA summer league games in Orlando, where many rookies are getting their first chance to prove themselves in the NBA.
Thunder (2-1) vs. 76ers (2-1)
• Thunder playing great team defense.
• James Harden is sporting the Mohawk, with the beard and the headband.
• Eric Maynor hurt his hand in 3rd. quarter and did not return.
Eric Maynor (23 min, 3-7 FG, 1-3 3 pt, 3-4 FT, 2 reb, 5 ass, 10 tp)- Great passer, was able to change shot in air one time and still put it in. Able to maneuver way to basket. Can shoot the 3. Very controlled/composed player.
James Harden (32 min, 3-10 FG, 0-4 3pt, 15-18 FT, 5 reb, 3 ass, 2 st., 6 TO, 1 blk., 21 tp)- Needs to improve jump shot- again he is TO prone- had a really rough first half- second half was able to get to the line- very good FT shooter. He uses his body well to shield defender- showed off nice footwork with a Euro step.
DJ White (22 min, 3-5 FG, 2-4 FT, 4 reb, 3 blk, 8 tp)- Great defensive player, runs the floor. Played great D on Speights. Defends pick and roll well. Also showed some nice post moves.
Latavious Williams (15 min, 4-5 FG, 2-3 FT, 5 reb, 3 blks, 1 ass, 10 tp)-Best game so far- looked a lot more comfortable on the floor. Has ability to finish at the rim. Plays game above the rim. NBA ready body. Great defender- displayed good timing with shot blocking. Has big hands. Still very raw- but has good potential.
Mustafa Shakur (25 min, 4-10 FG, 2-4 3 pt, 1-2 FT, 2 reb, 6 ass, 11 tp)- Best game yet for the guard out of Arizona. Led the team in assist and +/- score of +22. Looks composed at all times. A very willing passer who can see the floor and create. Very quick, can get to rim and pass to open big man. Good shooter with 3 pt range. Can shoot off dribble and can create own shot. Plays good good- has long arms. Very dangerous in the open court.
Byron Mullens (24 min, 7-8 FG, 2-6 FT, 6 reb, 16 tp)- Another solid performance from Mullens, who has really developed and gotten better since his Ohio State days. One year in the league has helped him immensely. He is very strong and runs the floor well for his size. Sets solid screens and rolls well. Has a nice hook shot and keeps the ball high on rebounds.
Jrue Holiday (33 min, 7-15 FG, 3-5 3 pt, 8-12 FT, 1 reb, 5 ass, 3 st, 6 TO,25 tp)- Another good PG from Holiday- who is looking more and more like the PG of the future for Philly. Has the best defense in the Summer League for a PG. Has quick hands. He is very strong in the air and can finish with contact. Has a slow release on jumper, but is a decent shooter. Needs to continue to improve consistency of jumper. Good passer.
Evan Turner (27 min,1-6 FG,2-2 FT,8 reb, 2 ass, 2 st, 4 tp)- Rough shooting day for Turner. He is able to still impact the game when shot is off. Is a good defender. Had a nice steal and pass to Holiday early in the game. Good rebounder. Showed a lot of frustration and displayed bad body language this game, especially after TO’s. Sometimes gets mixed up/lost on P and R defense.
Jodie Meeks (30 min, 4-14 FG,8-8 FT, 6 reb, 4 ass, 16 tp)- Runs off screens well and is ready shoot on the catch- good shooter, who can also get to the rim.
Marreese Speights (27 min, 9-19 FG, 2-2 FT, 9 reb, 20 tp)- Good scoring game for Speights. Should be getting to line more- does not bang enough down low. Settles for 15-18’ jumper too much- but he is showing the ability to make that shot. Needs to stay down on defense- goes for every ball fake/head fake. Good footwork in post.
By James Blackburn
|James continues his scouting of the NBA summer league games in Orlando, where many rookies are getting their first chance to prove themselves in the NBA.|
Game 2- 3:00 game
OKC (1-1) vs. Charlotte (2-0)
Bobcats win 86-85
• Bobcats offense looks out of sync in first half, none of the PG’s for Bobcats look comfortable.
• Bobcats played great team defense- forcing the Thunder to the end of the shot clock several times.
• S. Ibaka did not play because of yesterdays injury.
• Jeremy Pargo won the game for the Bobcats with a turn around jumper in the lane as time expired.
• Funny exchange between D. Brown and A. Ajinca after a Ajinca foul late in the game. Brown said, why did you foul him Lexy, you already have 8 fouls. Lexy responded, “I didn’t mean too – I’m not trying to foul!”.
Derrick Brown ( 30 min, 6-12 FG, 2-3 FT, 8 reb, 14 tp)- Another great game from Brown, who continued to attack the basket ferociously. He has a quick first step and can go to his right or left ( he is left handed). Has strong moves around basket, also displayed a nice 1 dribble jumper. Had a crazy athletic put back dunk attempt that missed, but continues to wow people with his athleticism.
Alexis Ajinca ( 27 min., 5-8 FG, 4-6 FT, 6 reb, 8 fls, 14 tp)- Up and down game from Alexis. Did some good things on offense today, but 8 fouls with out 1 block on defense is not a good line. He struggles in the post with double teams, obviously not used to them. He needs to become a better passer. Displayed good touch on his outside jumper.
Gerald Henderson (34 min., 5-11, 1-1 3 pt, 10-11 FT, 8 reb, 4 ass, 21 tp)- Another great game from Henderson, who is trying to earn himself some PT next year. He lead the team in points in assist and also showed he can hit the 3. Is an excellent rebounder because of his athleticism. Had another big dunk in traffic, because of a lighting quick first step. Played excellent defense on James Harden today. Good lucking jumper displayed, and he is good at curling screens and making the right play, whether it be shoot, or dump it to the low post for assist. Is also good at drawing fouls, where he takes advantage at the line.
PJ Tucker (21 min, 4-5 FG, 2-3 FT, 3 reb, 1 st, 10 tp)- Very productive game from Tucker, who recorded a DNP yesterday. Tucker recorded the highest +/- on the team with a +13. He is very strong and physical which makes up for his lack on height. He played solid D on Harden and has quick hands for a forward. Very active in the post- sticks with it, very hard worker.
Eric Maynor (35 min, 5-9 FG, 1-2 3 pt, 7-10 FT, 4 reb, 5 ass, 2 st, 18 tp)- Maynor continued his solid play, and keeps himself in the running as best PG in league. Displayed a nice little floater in the lane. He is a good decision maker and an excellent dribbler. Good shooter and a good passer. He can throw the lob, and had a real nice no look drop pass for a dunk. Makes good reads with ball and anticipates well on D. Also showed ability to split double team on P and R.
Byron Mullens (28 min, 2-10 FG, 8-12 FT, 3 reb, 2 st, 2 blks, 12 tp)- Rough shooting day for BJ, but he made up for by going to the FT line 12 times. Had an athletic block on Ajinca, blocking his high hook shot. Does a great job running the floor for a big man. Is very strong and physical.
James Harden (34 min, 4-11 FG, 1-5 3 pt, 10-10 FT, 5 reb, 2 ass, 5 TO, 19 tp)- Harden showed some weaknesses today. He did lead the team in scoring and again showed he can get to the rim and finish through contact, but was sloppy with the ball today. He tries to force the issue a lot and takes bad shots or tries to dribble through people. The Bobcats did a great job defending him today by making him shoot more jumpers, an area where he must improve. He did still manage to get to the stripe 10 times where he is an excellent FT shooter. He needs to improve his dribbling, especially his R hand, he loves to go left, where he is very explosive.
Image Source: ESPN
By James Blackburn
Game 3- 5:00 game
Boston (0-1) vs. OKC (1-0)
Thunder win 87-82
• Boston was very patient at the beginning of the game, not forcing shots and sharing the ball.
• Boston played good team defense and closed out on the shooters.
• The Thunder brought Harden, White, Ibaka, Weaver, and Maynor with them- went from being the youngest team in the NBA to the most experienced team at Summer League.
• The Thunder started off sluggish, but came out in the second half with a bang- and eventually just wore Boston out- with its size and athleticism.
• Kevin Durant was present, sitting on the Thunder bench.
Luke Harangody ( 27 min., 9-13 FG, 4-6 3 pt., 4 reb., 1 blk., 23 tp)- Very solid showing from the rookie out of Notre Dame. Luke proved a lot of skeptics wrong in this game. Luke is an excellent 3 pt shooter, with a quick release and great form. He plays good defense too, always displaying a hand in the shooters face. He also looked a lot trimmer and cut from his college days. Luke is generously listed at 6’8”, but is more like 6’6”. The Celtics might want to think about moving him to play SF, as Pierce backup. He sets solid screens and is a good P and Pop guy. Has a fluid jumper, gets his feet set and doesn’t look hurried. Keeps ball high on rebounds. Displayed the ability to put the ball on the floor and draw the foul or score. Good P and R defense. Not very athletic but had great block on Mullins in 4th quarter. Will play hard the entire game.
Jaycee Carroll ( 29 min., 6-16 FG, 1-4 3pt, 2 reb., 4 ass, 13 tp)- Carroll out of Utah State had a good outing. He is a great shooter who can stroke it from anywhere on the court. He can also make plays off the dribble. He is a pest on defense who will get in you and closeout well.
Eric Maynor (33 min, 7-13 FG, 1-1 3pt, 3 reb, 5 ass, 15 tp)- Eric may have had the best performance of a PG all day. Showed the entire package: great shooter, good passer, controlled the game and ran the offense. He showed good body control in the air, with the ability to finish in traffic. Has a nice floater and is a crafty player once he reaches the paint. Has a nice right to left crossover, that is extremely quick.
Serge Ibaka( 17 min., 2-5 FG, 5 reb., 6 tp)- Very strong and physical player. Got hurt in second half and did not return. Is a very good defender, who is a presence in the pain with good shot blocking skills. Has developed a nice sweeping hook going to his right.
Byron Mullens ( 33 min., 6-12 FG, 12-15 FT, 7 reb., 24 tp)- The Celtics did not have an answer for Mullens in the P and R. Mullens, a second year player out of Ohio State, made a living this game at the FT line, where he took advantage hitting 12 FT. Does a great job rolling to the basket, catching the ball, gathering himself and attacking the basket, where he got fouled repeatedly. Very good FT shooter for big man. Athletic player, who is also a solid rebounder.
James Harden (34 min., 2-6 FG, 15-18 FT,3 reb, 2 st, 19 tp)- Harden started off the game deferring to teammates and trying to get everyone involved, but cam out the second half firing and taking command of the game. The Thunder put him in a lot of P and R situations with Mullens with him as the ball handler, which the Celtics did not have an answer for. Harden is very athletic and strong. He is great at attacking the basket, where he can finish with contact. One time he tried to dunk on Harangody- all Luke could do was push him with 2 hands. Is creative and composed with ball in his hands, good things would happen when he would touch it. Had a game saving block on jump shot at end of game.