Posts Tagged ‘Josh Smith’

J.J. Gets Busy On The Perimeter

Blocking 3-pointers consistently is not an easy job, but James Johnson has to do it.

The most recent entrant into the Top Plays Theatre for his ability with the basketball, Johnson is even better on the other side. Since being called up from a D-League stint in late December, he has developed a habit of annoying the best shooters on the wings and in the corners. He is a good shot blocker inside the arc, but shooters aren’t any safer from deep.


VIDEO: James Johnson carves out his niche for the Grizzlies on the defensive perimeter

As Kevin Durant and James Harden found out multiple times, the 6-foot-9 Johnson has the activity level of a young Gerald Wallace (you don’t earn the nickname “Crash” for nothing) and Josh Smith, using any opportunity to terrorize whoever tries to launch from deep. When a shooter crouches to get in position, he takes it personal, using short powerful bursts and exquisite timing to close space fast.

He does this without fouling, which is perhaps the rub. Many players have the ability. A few have the willingness. But how many are skillful enough to keep pulling it off? James Johnson may not be a household moniker (outside of Memphis anyway), but you better believe that opposing coaches know who he is. The name may be plain, but the man has game.

Clippers/Pistons Matinee Turns Into Epic Dunkfest

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER –Today’s Clippers at Pistons game ended up with Los Angeles taking the win, 112-103. But what the score doesn’t show was how much of the game was played above the rim. Perhaps this is not a surprise, considering how many above-average dunkers were involved, from Blake Griffin to Josh Smith, from DeAndre Jordan to Andre Drummond, and on and on.

In all, there were 19 dunks in this game. When Lob City meets Motor City, here’s what happens…


VIDEO: Clippers/Pistons Dunkfest

Harden, Bosh Headline All-Lefty Squad


VIDEO: Lefties dominate throughout as Grizzlies cruise past Pistons

At tipoff of the vaunted meeting between Grizzlies and Pistons today, there were six left-handed players at center court.

Michael Conley, Brandon Jennings, Greg Monroe, Tayshaun Prince, Zach Randolph, and Josh Smith played a part in history. Never before has there ever been this many non-right-handed players to start an NBA game.

OK, maybe that’s not true. But if it has happened, I’ve never seen or heard of it. As a fellow left-handed practitioner, I won’t complain. It’s about time.

So how did the lefties fare? As the 112-84 score indicates, the odd ones in Memphis reigned. The Grizzlies’ southpaw quad — Conley, Ed Davis, Prince, Randolph — combined for 63 of their 112 points. The Pistons’ trio — Jennings, Monroe, Smith — put up 36 of their 84 points. Jennings struggled, scoring four points, but led both teams with 11 assists.

To cap off the seminal clash, Davis gave a lefty send-off to the diminished Detroit crowd:


VIDEO: Ed Davis finishes “lucky” dunk with left hand

Who starts on your 2013-14 All-Lefty team? My starting five: Conley (slight edge over Goran Dragic), James Harden, Manu Ginobili (maybe a stretch to play at the 3, but I’ll chance it), Randolph and Chris Bosh. There are a few to choose from in addition to the names above, including David Lee, DeAndre JordanIsaiah Thomas and Thaddeus Young.

Who starts for you?  

The All Ball Posterized Poll (Vol. 2)

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — If you’re into the NBA’s most devastating dunks, we’ve got you covered over at the new-and-improved Dunk HQ. But because we’re the All Ball blog and we like to look at the NBA from non-traditional angles, we will focus on the flip side of the NBA’s best dunks: What we want to know is, who got got?

So welcome to Volume Two of The All Ball Posterized Poll. We will check in from time to time and examine the worst of the best, and use a highly scientific polling method to determine which NBA player got dunked on (a.k.a. posterized) the most egregiously. And at the end of the season all of our winners will battle it out to determine who it is that most belongs on a poster.

The winner of Volume One was New Orleans’ Jeff Withey, who was placed on a poster by Lakers’ wingman Xavier Henry, his college teammate. (You can see the offending dunk at this post.) Voting at Volume One is now officially closed.

But can anyone top Withey? We have four new nominees. We checked in with NBA.com’s own slam dunk specialist, LeMont Calloway, for his informed perspective on the matter. “What I’ll say most about these defenders is that at least they’re trying to show help-side D,” LeMont notes. “There’s a defender or two around the league who wouldn’t even dare, let alone probably couldn’t even make the proper rotation. (Calling you out Boozer!) But, it’s like Bill Walton used to say: What are big men doing trying to take charges anyway?”

1. Chris Bosh (as nominated by Josh Smith)
LeMont’s Take: “It’s got to be fun for Brandon Jennings to play with several front-line bangers on his team. He’s dropped a few passes behind to his big men on fast breaks, and this time it’s J-Smoove’s turn to finish it off.”


VIDEO: Josh Dunks On Bosh

2. Al Horford and Paul Millsap (as nominated by Victor Oladipo)
LeMont’s take: “Any dunk that can get this kind of response out of announcer Dominique Wilkins, one of the godfathers of the dunk, has to be something special. On his visit to the Hawks, I guess Vic wanted to pay tribute to Atlanta rapper Future. Two at the same time indeed.”


VIDEO: Oladipo Dunks On Hawks

3. Carlos Boozer (as nominated by Rodney Stuckey)
LeMont’s Take: “Booz, you brought this one on yourself. One more of these and maybe he’ll consider playing actual NBA-caliber defense.”


VIDEO: Stuckey Dunks On Boozer

4. Darren Collison (as nominated by Ben McLemore)
LeMont’s Take: “This is my pick for the new bunch. You’ve got Big Ben flying with authority and a competent attempt to make a defensive play. Just not enough lift for Collison. The rook’s making me a fan, that’s for sure.”


VIDEO: McLemore Dunks On Collison

These are your nominees for Volume Two. Vote for the winner below…

THE POSTERIZED POLL

Tough Luck There, Zaza (Video)

By Jeff Case

 

You gotta feel a little bad for Zaza Pachulia last night … sure he finished with seven points and nine boards in Atlanta’s 86-80 win against Orlando. Pachulia, you see, is 0-for-16 lifetime from 3-point range (and 0-for-17 if you include the playoffs). Yet there the Hawks were at the end of the third quarter, inbounding the ball with 1.2 seconds left. Josh Smith passes to Pachulia. He takes one dribble and then heaves the ball from a little bit longer than halfcout. It sails through the air and … swish!

Too bad it came well after the buzzer.

Looks like ol’ Pachulia will have to stick to his role as unofficial playoff hype man and offseason scholar and forget about joining the ranks of the Hawks’ 3-point specialists.

Three For All: Phoenix Suns

by Micah Hart



As everyone knows by now, the compressed NBA schedule will force every team to play three games in three nights at least one this season (42 times in total). With only 66 games to stake a claim to a playoff spot or seed, how teams perform during these killer slates could have a large impact on how their seasons turn out.

With that in mind, we’re going to keep track of each of the 42 three-plays to see which teams take advantage and which teams fall apart. Up next, the Phoenix Suns, who played three straight from Feb. 13-15.

While I have your attention, I’ll step aside from the task at hand for a moment and agree with the presiding opinion going around the Internet and say: Free Steve Nash.

The Suns have stated they have no interest in blowing up their team, and that is their right, but if their reasoning is that it alienates fans, I have to respectfully disagree. Fans want to win, clearly.  But what they really want is to compete for titles, and most intelligent fans are willing to tolerate a year or two of losing as long as there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Look no further than the Indianapolis Colts, who are most likely about to part ways with Peyton Manning — more an institution in his city than Nash is in Phoenix — and their fan base couldn’t be happier because they have Andrew Luck waiting to take his place. Suns fans know that Nash’s time is coming to an end regardless of where he plays, and as much as they’d hate to see him go, if they get some young prospects in return that help set them up to return to contention, they’ll take that deal all day long.

Why do I bring this up? Because the Suns joined the Detroit Pistons as the only two teams to lose every game in their three for all:

Game 1: Warriors 102, Suns 96 - One player the Suns shouldn’t trade is Marcin Gortat, who has evolved into one of the best centers in the NBA (though that does speak in part to the paucity of legit big men). The Polish Hammer had 25 points and 12 rebounds in the loss in Golden State. The loss snapped a seven-game winning streak for Phoenix against Golden State. -2 points

Game 2: Nuggets 109, Suns 92 - Phoenix sat Nash and Grant Hill for this one, trying to conserve their energy in the midst of the brutal stretch. So yeah, they really didn’t have much of a chance in this one. Markieff Morris had 21 points, which reminds me that in college, I always thought his brother Marcus was the hot shot recruit, and that he (Markieff) was sort of the Robin Lopez to his brother’s Brook. I mean, Marcus was Big 12 Player of the Year, and a second-team All-American. Then Markieff got drafted first (Marcus went to the Rockets with the very next pick), and now I question everything that happened to me in the last two years. Was it all just a dream? -1 point

Game 3: Hawks 101, Suns 99 - No one should get much grief for losing a third in three, but the Suns did lead by 15 points in the second half. Josh Smith had an absurd line for the Hawks (30 points, 17 rebounds, seven assists, four steals and three blocks), and when all is said and done I still expect someone’s injury to put him into his first All-Star Game next weekend in Orlando. 0 points

Time to face facts, Phoenix. The Nash-Era Suns are long gone, and the sooner you turn the page the better off you’ll be. -3 points for the Suns.

Up next: The Indiana Pacers and Portland Trail Blazers play three straight Feb. 14-16.

Three for all Top Ten:
Miami Heat (15 points)
Chicago Bulls (13 points)
OKC Thunder (12 points)
Atlanta Hawks (8 points)
Houston Rockets (7 points)
Portland Trail Blazers (6 points)
L.A. Clippers (6 points)
Philadelphia 76ers (6 points)
Denver Nuggets I (6 points)
Orlando Magic (5 points)

Full Three for all standings

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Three for all: Atlanta Hawks

by Micah Hart

As everyone knows by now, the compressed NBA schedule will force every team to play three games in three nights at least one this season (42 times in total). With only 66 games to stake a claim to a playoff spot or seed, how teams perform during these killer slates could have a large impact on how their seasons turn out.

With that in mind, we’re going to keep track of each of the 42 three-plays to see which teams take advantage and which teams fall apart. Up next, the Atlanta Hawks, who played three straight from Jan 5-7.

Before I get into the meat of the Hawks triumvirate of games, I should make note (for those that didn’t know) that I spent six years working for the franchise before coming over to NBA.com. I mention this because as far as I am concerned, these three games perfectly encapsulate what it’s like to root for them. They were the Hawksiest Hawks games I’ve ever seen.

Game 1: Heat 116, Hawks 109, 3OT - The Heat were without LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, and if you know these Hawks, you know that spells trouble. Missed free throws, missed opportunities, Hawks loss. They made history by becoming just the 10th team in history to go scoreless in an overtime period (the third), so there’s that. -2 points

Game 2: Hawks 102, Bobcats 96, OT - Atlanta always seems to struggle in Charlotte, and despite the Bobcats being one of the worst teams in the league, they nearly pulled out the home win. I give the Hawks credit for perseverance if not style. 4 points

Game 3: Hawks 109, Bulls 94 – Just when you are ready to bury the Hawks, they turn around and blow out the Bulls in Game 3, snapping Chicago’s six-game win streak in the process. Josh Smith had one of those games that makes you simultaneously gobsmacked by his abilities (25 points, five rebounds, five assists, six blocks) and depressed because he often eschews them in favor of low-percentage jump shots. 6 points

What to do with this team? Do you focus on the fact that they lost at home to a Heat team playing Chris Bosh and the JayVees? Or do you notice the squad that was talented enough to go up 30 on Chicago in the third game — especially impressive given they’d played almost an extra half of basketball the previous two nights thanks to overtime? Shoot, the Hawks were a few missed free throws away from going 5-0 last week, with four of the games coming against the reigning Eastern Conference finalists.

Yet with all my griping and complaining, with settled dust and cleared smoke the Hawks somehow managed to post a new high score for the three-play, putting up 8 total points. Go figure.

Up next: The Oklahoma City Thunder are right on the Hawks tails, with three games in a row Jan. 6-8: home and home against the Rockets, and tonight against the Spurs.

Three for all Scoreboard:
Atlanta Hawks (8 points)
Houston Rockets (7 points)
Denver Nuggets (6 points)
L.A. Lakers (3 points)
Sacramento Kings (2 points)

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Josh Smith’s got a brand new bag

by Micah Hart

Have you ever wondered what Hawks forward Josh Smith travels with on road trips, and what percentage of said things are made by adidas? Wonder no more:

The man can fit a lot in a backpack, I’ll give him that much. My only quibble is, and maybe I’m starting to show my age here, but I disagree with Smoove’s use of the term “wallet.” A wallet is carried in a pocket — perhaps what he’s got there is a European carry-all?

H/T Hawks BasketBlog

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Oh, that had to feel good, Josh Smith

by Micah Hart

Most of the time, professional athletes are supposed to take the criticism of the media in stride. It comes with the territory, after all – you put yourself in the spotlight, you have to take the coverage that comes with it.

The Hawks have seen their share of negative coverage this postseason for their erratic play and have rarely reacted, but when Orlando Sentinel writer Mike Bianchi refered to them as “Birdbrains” in a column before Game 6, it seemed some on the team had had enough.

Which had to make the team’s series-clinching win Thursday night, perhaps the most surprising result of the first round (pending a Grizzlies upset of the Spurs, though Charles Barkley at least picked that one), that much more gratifying. Isn’t that right, Josh Smith:

I wish I could bottle and sell the Smith’s satisfaction in uttering those words: “In. Your. Face.” And the delivery? Leslie Nielsen in his prime would have been jealous of that deadpan.

(H/T TBJ)

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Last night in a … homer plea

by Micah Hart

The Hawks are in free-fall right now, having gone 2-7 in their last nine games after a 6-0 start. All around the team there are whispers of discontent, rumors that players are bickering with each other and that new head coach Larry Drew has perhaps already lost contol of the locker room.

Last night Atlanta fell 107-101 in overtime at New Jersey, the team’s third straight loss, and coming off the heels of Monday’s 99-76 embarrassment courtesy of the Celtics, the picture looks bleak at present. Which is why I’m here today to say…everything is going to be cool, Atlanta.

Relax. Take a deep breath. Now take a look at the Eastern Conference standings. See that? You may be struggling, Hawks, but aside from Boston and Orlando, so is everyone else. At 8-7, you are still in 6th place in the East, and only a half-game out of third. No one else is playing particularly well — in fact the East as a whole (Boston aside) has been one big ball of underachieve.

So yeah, there are some things you need to figure out (what to do with Jamal Crawford, how to get Joe Johnson untracked, Josh Smith’s jumpers, etc), but even if this streak of bad play continues, be patient. The East isn’t going anywhere. Besides, it could be worse. You could be Miami.

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