Top Plays Spotlight: Hardening the ‘D’


VIDEO: James Harden is piling on the blocks during the 2014-15 season

Monday saw James Harden torment the visiting Minnesota Timberwolves for 31 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists and four blocks. The world focused on the triple-double, the fourth of his career, and rightfully so. That last line, the four swats, is also a cause for recognition.

Why? Among NBA guards, Harden has the third-most blocks (46), behind only K.J. McDaniels and Danny Green. There aren’t any clamoring for him to get an All-Defensive team nod (except maybe Clyde Drexler and Daryl Morey), but his effectiveness defending the ball has ratcheted up a notch.

How is he racking up his swats? Smart weak-side help, strong hands, deceptive closeout speed, long arms, timing, timing, timing and strength. The same traits that make him a terror with the ball have emphatically caught DeMarcus Cousins, Zach Randolph (and others) off guard on the other end.

Harden has 26 games to finish off his best season and MVP submission. If he sustains his new-found tendency for rejections (his 46 blocks already are a career high), it will be harder to keep the Maurice Podoloff Trophy off his mantle. Especially with moves like this:


VIDEO: James Harden victimizes Ricky Rubio before sinking the trey

Sim Bhullar posts remarkable D-League triple-double

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — There’s a saying in basketball that “you can’t teach height.” Meaning you can teach skills like shooting, passing, dribbling or defense, but size is the great equalizer and something you just have to be lucky enough to be born with. You may still be developing as a basketball player, but if you are tall enough, some team will take a chance on you and allow you to develop the other, teachable skills.

And here is where Sim Bhullar enters the discussion. The Indian-Canadian center from Toronto wasn’t the best player in his class, but he has improved each year of his basketball career, and shown enough promise to pique the interest of teams. Also, he’s seven-feet, five-inches tall, and he weighs 360 pounds.

Bhullar is a massive athlete, who has nice touch and soft hands, and while he still has a way to go before his skills translate to the NBA, he had a look with the Sacramento Kings’ summer league team, and how plays for their D-League affiliate, the Reno Bighorns.

Last night against the Los Angeles D-Fenders, Bhullar played a career-high 43 minutes, and he posted a monster stat line: 26 points, 17 rebounds, and 11 blocked shots. A triple-double usually involves points, rebounds and assists, but Bhullar swatted that idea and posted his own triple-dip. If he keeps producing like that, perhaps his NBA debut won’t be far away.

Check the video below for highlights of Bhullar’s big night…


VIDEO: Bhullar triple-dip

Richard Jefferson throws down dunk of the year candidate

ALL BALL NERVE CENTERRichard Jefferson is 34 years old and in his 14th NBA season, but last night against the Hornets, pretty much out of nowhere, RJ broke out a thunder dunk that will have him in the upcoming season-ending Posterized Poll.

Now, an offensive foul was called on this play, I guess saying that RJ fouled Michael Kidd-Gilchrist as he dunk all over him, which would normally invalidate the play from Posterized contention, but since it wasn’t a foul, and it was an incredible play, I think we should allow this one…


VIDEO: RJ Dunk

LeBron nails Kevin Love with a towel

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Despite the Knicks’ best efforts at bending the rules, the Cleveland Cavaliers put the smack down on the Knicks yesterday, winning 101-83. After the game, in a celebratory maneuver, LeBron James threw a towel into the air…which landed perfectly on Kevin Love‘s head. Considering the two have been reputed to have issues with each other, they both seemed pretty amused by the whole thing…

(via FTW)

Knicks break out three-step layup

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — The New York Knicks may be struggling this season, but you can’t say they aren’t trying new things. According to Section XIV of the NBA rule book, here is what constitutes a traveling violation while shooting a layup:

b. A player who receives the ball while he is progressing or upon completion of a dribble, may use a two-count rhythm in coming to a stop, passing or shooting the ball.
The first count occurs:
(1) As he receives the ball, if either foot is touching the floor at the time he receives it.
(2) As the foot touches the floor, or as both feet touch the floor simultaneously after he receives the ball, if both feet are off the floor when he receives it.
The second occurs:
(1) After the count of one when either foot touches the floor, or both feet touch the floor simultaneously.

Got that? All that is a fancy way of saying, basically, that you are allowed to take two steps without dribbling before you shoot the ball. It’s a simple rule, one that anyone who has played or watched basketball understands and applies intuitively.

Which might be why the referees were so surprised during yesterday’s Knicks game when Lou Amundson grabbed a steal and broke out on a solo fast break. And as he neared the basket, instead of taking two steps and putting the ball in the basket, Amundson took three steps and, amazingly, got away with it. Hashtag this one “shaqtin,” please…


VIDEO: Amundson walks

Comparing Zach LaVine and Vince Carter


VIDEO: Dunk recap

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — One of the greatest dunk contest performances of all-time was in Oakland in 2000, when Vince Carter unleashed epic dunk after epic dunk. And while dunk contests since then have been up-and-down, this year Minnesota rookie Zach LaVine turned in another dunk contest for the ages. In fact, LaVine has drawn comparisons to Carter, and as this Vine from the NBA shows, there certainly are some similarities…

(Vine via TNLP)

Pau Gasol screams a lot

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — For many years, Bulls forward Carlos Boozer was known for his willingness to yell “AND ONE” pretty much any time he shot the ball near the basket, whether or not a foul actually occurred. Boozer may be gone to Los Angeles, but he’s been replaced by Pau Gasol, who, it turns out, has his own vocal theatrics. Check out this video from Bulls fan Dylan Connolly, who cut together Gasol screaming from a few games. AHHHH!


VIDEO: Pau screams

Throwback Thursday: Barkley Reaches Milestone


VIDEO: NBA90s: Charles Barkley

Welcome to Throwback Thursday here on the All Ball Blog. Each week, we’ll delve into the NBA’s photo archives and uncover a topic and some great images from way back when. Hit us up here if you have suggestions for a future TBT on All Ball. Suggestions are always welcome!

Today’s Topic: Barkley Reaches 10,000-Rebound, 20,000-Point Club

On this date in 1996, Charles Barkley pulled down his 10,000th rebound to become at the time just the 10th player in NBA history to record 10,000 rebounds and 20,000 points. There are now 16 players who have accomplished this milestone, with Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan joining the club in recent years. With his 4,215 career assists, Barkley joins Garnett, Wilt ChamberlainKareem Abdul-Jabbar and Karl Malone as the only players to accumulate 20,000-plus points, 10,000-plus rebounds and 4,000-plus assists in a career.

This Throwback Thursday, we honor “Sir” Charles Barkley’s Hall-of-Fame career.


Gallery: Throwback Thursday: Charles Barkley

What’s your favorite Charles Barkley moment? Leave your comments below

Steph Curry is a dribbling wizard

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — I still remember going to basketball camps as a kid and being taught the importance of dribbling without looking down at the ball. Chin up, eyes up. After all, if you throw the ball at the floor, it should bounce right back into your hand whether or not you’re looking at it. So hours were spent dribbling without looking at the ball, unless you’re trying something particularly tricky.

This seems to be a lesson Golden State’s Steph Curry has learned well. Check out this video of Curry’s pregame warmup where he takes two basketballs and performs all kinds of sorcery…


VIDEO: Curry dribbles

(via r/NBA)

Dikembe Mutombo blocks President Clinton

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Since retiring from the NBA, Dikembe Mutombo has been something of a global ambassador for the NBA, traveling the world and raising money for charities. He’s also become a great seat-mate at NBA games, such as a few weeks ago in Brooklyn when Mutombo sat next to Prince William. At the All-Star Game on Sunday, Mutombo sat next to former President Bill Clinton, and at one point Mutombo stood to cheer and delivered yet another block…