Posts Tagged ‘Kevin Garnett’

No Garnett, No Matter to Kelly Olynyk

Even though Kevin Garnett couldn’t be in uniform as the Nets hit the floor of TD Garden tonight, it doesn’t mean his presence wasn’t felt. Thanks to the truculence of Kelly OlynykShaun Livingston found out how much of his teammate’s ghost still resides in Boston.

Livingston’s chagrin was palpable, but the fans paid praise to a familiar sight:


VIDEO: Kelly Olynyk channels his inner Kevin Garnett on Shaun Livingston

Celtics Pay Tribute To KG, Pierce

By Jeff Case

One of the most anticipated homecomings of the season took place last night when the Boston Celtics hosted the Brooklyn Nets. It marked the first game ex-Celtics Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce played at TD Garden since being traded to Brooklyn last summer.

Both players have deep emotional ties to the franchise, with Pierce being drafted by the team in 1999 and playing 15 seasons there, helping the Celtics go from Eastern Conference afterthought to a title-winner (2008) and perennial contender. A big key to those contending days came via of the addition of Garnett in the summer of 2007. KG won Defensive Player of the Year honors in his first season with Boston (2007-08) and was arguably — with Pierce — the heart of those contending Celtics clubs.

None of those feats were lost on the Celtics as a franchise, as they had been planning a big video tribute for the duo for weeks, per the Boston Globe. Even before fans got to see those tributes, KG and “The Truth” got plenty of love from the hometown fans during the player introductions …


VIDEO: Garnett, Pierce introduced before Nets take on Celtics

Then came the in-game tributes for KG and Pierce, both of which stirred up plenty of emotion for Boston fans.

KG’s tribute was first:

And then, after the first quarter, Pierce was honored:

The reaction from the crowd was appreciated plenty by the duo, who saw the Nets win the game 85-79.


VIDEO: Garnett, Pierce talk about their return to Boston

(h/t to The Brooklyn Game)

Kris Humphries Evokes Rick Mahorn

Any time you have Kris Humphries and Rick Mahorn in the same sentence, you know something special happened.

They couldn’t be more different, in perception and on-court presence. I mean, could you imagine this happening to the former Pistons and Sixers bruiser?

But that may not be completely fair. Humphries gives decent effort and has a knack for the timely defensive play or two. He didn’t disappoint Sunday night against his old team in Brooklyn. While the electricity pivoted around the return of Hall of Famers to-be Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, Humphries had his own bit of motivation and dipped into his old-school bag of tricks to make Mahorn proud:


VIDEO: Kris Humphries pulls out chair from Andray Blatche

Instead of being the post warrior, he was the post magician. It’s a brilliant maneuver and has a 100 percent success rate. How isn’t this move pulled off more? Perhaps because subterfuge in battle is most effective when used seldomly? I’m not sure, but it needs more application. The look on Andray Blatche’s face while looking at a fired-up Humphries from his keister afterward was priceless.

It’s fitting that Humphries’ poster mate Blake Griffin fell victim to the same tactic almost two years ago:


VIDEO: Al Harrington pulls seat from under Blake Griffin

Long live the old school.

Horry Scale: Joe Knows


VIDEO: Joe Johnson Does It Again

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — It’s late at night, I’ve got one full day of vacation staring me in the face, and before I drift off to bed, I’m thinking about the last few things I’d like to accomplish (a long nap tomorrow, not doing chores, etc.) before heading back to the blizzard in NYC. And then Joe Johnson does it again. The Brooklyn Nets needed a win in the worst way, and who better to turn to than Joe Cool?

I know we usually air these posts out a bit, but this one is going to be a bit more to the point, because, you know, vacation. But before we get too far into this, we should stop and explain why we’re here: What is the Horry Scale? For those who are new around these parts, the Horry Scale examines a game-winning buzzer-beater (GWBB) in the categories of difficulty, game situation (was the team tied or behind at the time?), importance (playoff game or garden-variety Kings-Pistons game?) and celebration (is it over the top or too chill? Just the right panache or needs more sauce?). Then we give it an overall grade on a scale of 1-5 Robert Horrys, the patron saint of last-second daggers.

One other thing before we move on: I’ve received a few emails from Blazers fans and Thunder fans wondering why I had not done Horry Scale posts for their teams when Lillard and Westbrook have hit game-winners. My reasoning is sound: Those guys have hit game-winners, yes, but they both left tenths of a second on the clock. And as we all know from reading the rules above, we are looking for shots with 0.0 remaining on the clock.

Which leads us to Joe Johnson…

DIFFICULTY
The toughest part of Joe’s game winner was having the 6-10ish Serge Ibaka guarding him. But the rest of the shot was the same kind of shot Joe’s been knocking down his entire pro career. He inbounded the ball to Kevin Garnett, who handed it back to Joe, and then you can see all the other Nets clear out of the way and just let Joe do his thing. I’ve often said that if Joe Johnson were in a one-on-one contest against any other NBA player, I think he’d fare pretty well, because he’s terrific at using his dribble and his size to nearly always get his shot off. And this instance was no exception.

GAME SITUATION
More like season situation. The Nets have famously been something of a mess this season, and the recent season-ending injury to Brook Lopez led to many thinking it was time to put the final fork in the Nets (if we hadn’t already). So to say they needed a win not just on this night but to give life to their season is no understatement. And I’m pretty sure nobody thought that win would come on the road, against the mighty Oklahoma City Thunder.

CELEBRATION
Rowdy. Even moreso than on Johnson’s previous game-winner this season. Of course, even though this isn’t an overtime finish, the Nets probably have more at stake now than they did a few weeks back. They’ve been knocked down, but they got up again.

GRADE
We’ve had a run of 4 Horry scores of late, and I think it’s time to break that streak. While the shot over the bigger defender was impressive, it was a basic jumper in a one-on-one setting. So I’m giving this three Horrys

horry-star horry-star horry-star

What say you? How many Horrys does Joe Johnson’s GWBB deserve?

NBA Behind The Scenes: The Photo Game (Part Two)

FOR PART ONE, CLICK HERE

BROOKLYN Earlier this week, I spent an evening shadowing Nathaniel Butler from NBA Photos as he photographed the Trail Blazers-Nets game in Brooklyn. During the game, Butler gave me a camera and let me shoot the action. What follows are some of the images I took that night, with my thoughts and comments below each picture. These pictures have not been cropped or color-corrected or anything else. This is what I shot … for better, or for, probably mostly, worse.

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As the Blazers took the floor to warm up directly in front of me, Nic Batum started hoisting 15-footers from the right wing. I picked up my camera, zoomed in a bit, half-pushed the button down to make sure the image was focused, and then fired off the shot. What I didn’t account for was that Batum would jump when he shot, so my photo chopped off his arms and the ball.

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Once the game started, sure enough the Nets ran a play to get Kevin Garnett a shot at the top of the key. I saw the play developing and as soon as KG caught the ball and squared up, I took this picture. Unfortunately, as you may notice, I managed to capture all of the players out of focus. But the basket support and the fans in the front rows are crystal clear. Also, terrific job by me to cut off the shot clock. (more…)

NBA Behind The Scenes: The Photo Game (Part One)

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(Editor’s Note: While we cover the NBA as obsessively as we can around here, there are still numerous ancillary parts of the game experience that we want to uncover and explore. Being involved with the NBA can mean everything from serving up exotic foods to firing shirts into the crowd. We will delve into these angles of the NBA as part of a new regular (and perhaps a bit irregular) All Ball series, NBA Behind The Scenes.)

BROOKLYN – It was 3:30 on Monday afternoon in Brooklyn, four hours before the Brooklyn Nets would play host to the Portland Trail Blazers. The interior hallways of the Barclays Center were mostly deserted, save for a few food service employees firing up ovens and custodial staff giving the place a final shine before thousands of fans arrived. Out on the arena floor, a rec league championship game was taking place.

Sitting in a folding chair just below one of the baskets was a man in a black polo shirt and jeans, working at a determined pace. He wasn’t tall, wasn’t short, and his blond hair made determining his age require more than a glance. He tore black gaffers tape into strips and secured loose wires that were splayed all over the place — to the basket support, from the basket support, along the cement arena floor, on the edge of the court. Three large hard plastic containers were open on the floor around him, all neatly packed with lenses, cameras, tripods and various other equipment. A hand truck was just behind, waiting to be loaded up and rolled away.

The man’s assistant turned up, carrying several camera batteries, which were checked and rechecked, and some were swapped out for more potent options. Words like “reflectors” and “overheads” were used casually between the two men in conversation. A ladder was propped up under a backboard, and a multi-thousand dollar camera was affixed to the glass and carefully aimed out toward the paint.

I had come to Brooklyn to meet up with Nathaniel S. Butler, who is a photographer for NBA Photos, and has been chronicling the NBA in pictures for about two decades now. You may not know Nat Butler’s name, but if you’re an NBA fan, you almost definitely know his work. Like perhaps this image …

John Starks drives hard for a slam dunk

(more…)

Horry Scale: Joe Cool


VIDEO: Joe Johnson’s GWBB

The game winning buzzer beaters are coming fast and furious now. So yeah, we’re on the third Horry Scale entry of the last seven days, as last night Joe Johnson and the Brooklyn Nets went to Phoenix, and their game drifted into overtime before JJ managed to end it with a dagger. NBA players obviously can not resist the allure of making Horry Scale appearances.

Before we get too far into this, we should stop and explain. What is the Horry Scale? For those who are new around these parts, the Horry Scale examines a game-winning buzzer-beater (GWBB) in the categories of difficulty, game situation (was the team tied or behind at the time?), importance (playoff game or garden-variety Kings-Pistons game?) and celebration (is it over the top or too chill? Just the right panache or needs more sauce?). Then we give it an overall grade on a scale of 1-5 Robert Horrys, the patron saint of last-second daggers.

With the rules in place, let’s check out last night’s game-winner.

DIFFICULTY
I’ve long held that Joe Johnson is one of the most underrated offensive players in the NBA. I watched nearly every Hawks game he played, and saw him night after night carry the load offensively. It wasn’t always pretty, it wasn’t always the most efficient offense, but it was more often than not effective. Johnson can score in so many ways, and that versatility was on display last night. Joe’s GWBB was a runner in the paint with two defenders coming after him. Joe put a slight hesitation dribble on PJ Tucker and watched him soar past, then went up and lofted the ball high over Channing Frye for the bucket, just in time. On first glance it wasn’t particularly spectacular, but the more I watch it the more impressive it becomes — going the length of the court in four seconds, being patient enough to let Tucker take himself out of the play, and then getting the shot off cleanly over a seven-footer before the clock trickled out of time.

GAME SITUATION
So here we are, game tied at 98 in overtime, 8 seconds remaining on the clock and about 2 on the shot clock, and Frye misses a three from the wing. Johnson ends up with the rebound, and the rest is history. You often hear coaches debate whether or not to use a timeout in those circumstances. Do you stop the game to set up a play, but also potentially allow the defense to get set? Or do you take advantage of the chaos and let them play? Another potential subplot for the Nets is, Who takes the final shot in a close game? All of these issues were avoided by Coach Kidd by just letting the game play out in the moment. (Worth noting: Deron Williams had sprained his ankle earlier and was out, so perhaps that played into Kidd’s decision as well.)

IMPORTANCE
The Nets have been struggling this season, starting off 2-5, one loss away from the basement in the Eastern Conference, and not looking anything like the contending team most experts projected them to be. Conversely, the Suns have been surprisingly good, beginning 5-3 and making people wonder if talk of tanking was premature. It’s still early in the season, but a W for the Nets could help them start to turn things around. As Johnson said after the game, “It was big. There could be a domino effect.” The Nets better hope so: They play the Clippers in Los Angeles tonight.

CELEBRATION
The jubilation was there, if a bit muted until Kevin Garnett arrived and shook up the huddle a bit. To be fair, Joe Johnson has never been accused of being demonstrative. (Also, check out Tucker in the background on his knees, head to the court, literally floored by the loss.) “I couldn’t even celebrate, I was so tired,” Johnson told the New York Post. (He logged almost 45 minutes between regulation and overtime.) “But I was just ready to get out of there. [My teammates] are trying to celebrate and I’m ready to go… I’m like, ‘Let’s go into the locker room and shower and let’s get out of here. … We’ve got a tough game tomorrow.’”

GRADE
Sneaky difficult shot, pretty important game for the Nets, a team excited to get the win. There have been tougher and more important game winners, for sure, but I feel like this a GWBB that will overlooked by some. Anyway, for the reasons outlined above, I’m giving this one three Horrys.

horry-starhorry-starhorry-star

That’s my take. How many Horry’s would you give Joe Johnson’s game-winner?

You Can Buy Kevin Garnett’s Clothes

Nets Introductory Press Conference

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Ask anyone who has had to move, whether it’s just a few blocks or thousands of miles away, and they can tell you that the process is not much fun. You go through all your stuff, sort through what’s worth keeping and what isn’t, and then load up boxes and boxes and boxes of stuff.

Unless, apparently, you are an NBA superstar like Kevin Garnett. According to the Boston Herald, when Garnett moved from Boston to Brooklyn, he left behind a bunch of clothes. These were snapped up by a man named Phil Castinetti, who intends to sell the items at his store SportsWorld.

Most of the items are from K.G.’s own OBF clothing line and nearly all of them have labels that read, “Exclusively For Kevin Garnett.” Meaning that, if you are not nearly 7 feet tall, they still make a nifty souvenir!

Garnett repeatedly is named one of the NBA’s snappiest dressers and his castoffs include a ton of dress shirts (most still sporting the dry-cleaning tag), lots of stylish sweaters and a locker-load of dress slacks, jeans and shorts, Size 46 Tall. Yes, you read that correctly, 46 Tall!

“They’re perfect for Halloween,” Castinetti joked.

 

Deron Williams Does Sideline Push-Ups


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ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — The addition of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry has pushed the Brooklyn Nets to the top of the Eastern Conference, but it’s also given the franchise a little more swagger, some giddy-up in their step. And having KG around, one of the NBA’s most intense players, doesn’t seem to be dulling anyone’s edge, either.

During last night’s preseason game against the Wizards, Nets F Mirza Teletovic drained a three-pointer, and as the camera cuts to the sideline, we see Deron Williams hustle over to the bench, where KG and the other players clear room for Deron to do a couple of push-ups, right there as the game is going on. Not sure if this is the equivalent of a college mascot doing push-ups after each score or what, but you can’t say the Nets bench isn’t engaged in the game.

As Teletovic himself tweeted, this is something he’d like to see more of…

Talk Show: Raymond Felton


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ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Going into the the 2011-12 season, the Knicks saw popular point guard Jeremy Lin sign with Houston, and they replacedKnockout Blue:Pirate:Black him with Raymond Felton, a former Knick coming off a down season in Portland. While Lin and the Rockets had a nice season, Felton helped coalesce Carmelo Anthony, JR Smith and Tyson Chandler and lead the Knicks to a 54-28 record, their best since ’96-97, and into the second round of the playoffs. This season, Felton says the Knicks have their goals set a bit higher.

I caught up with Felton last week in New York City, where Felton was at an event for Under Armour to help launch its newest basketball shoe, the Anatomix Spawn (right), which he’ll wear this season.

ME: So, what are you doing this summer?

FELTON: I’ve just been training, working out. Trying to spend a little bit of time with family and friends, but for the most part, just really been grinding, just getting after it.

ME: No travel or vacation? You don’t get to take some time off?

FELTON: You know, only traveling I did, when the season ended and we lost, I went to the Bahamas for like four nights, and that’s it. I went to Vegas, but I don’t really count that because that was business. I went down there to watch the team play at Summer League, and I got some workouts in there. I stayed down there an extra week because my AAU Program was coming down to play in tournaments, so I stayed down there to do that. So really, vacation? I haven’t had any.

ME: When you say your AAU program, what do you mean?

FELTON: Team Felton. I’ve got like 5, 6 teams, a legit program.

ME: Is that something where when you played AAU as a kid, you thought, “One day I want to be able to sponsor a program and give other kids this opportunity”?

FELTON: Yeah. You know, the AAU business can be a real crooked business, and I hate to see kids get taken advantage of, man. So I just try to give back. I have a nephew who’s pretty good, so it started with his age group, and I’ve just added teams up from that. It’s been good, my team’s doing pretty good. My highest age group, which is his age group, they finished in the top eight in the country this year. The 14-and-under group, they finished fourth. My other young teams down there, they actually won nationals this year. It’s been pretty good, man.

ME: And are you in the stands cheering during the games?

FELTON: Yeah, I’m in the stands, trying to coach a little bit. You know, get on the referees when they’re making me mad, be like Mark Cuban a little bit. But it’s all fun. I just like to see the kids compete and then try to do the best they can.

ME: For a student of the game and fan of the game, what is it like being the point guard of the New York Knicks? Is it cool?

FELTON: It’s great, man. To be the point guard of the New York Knicks is like being the point guard of the University of North Carolina. When you put that jersey on, everybody will know who you are, everybody will recognize you. It’s a good feeling, it’s a good feeling. I feel like when you play here in the city of New York, if you play hard, they’ll love you. When you’re slacking, they’ll let you know. That’s one thing I do know about New York — these fans, they’ll let you know if you’re not playing up to the part. Which is a good thing.

ME: It’s kind of like Carolina, right? The standards are set pretty high.

FELTON: Yep. If you’re not playing up to the part, they’ll let you know. But it’s fun. I love it.

New York Knicks v Indiana Pacers - Game SixME: When the Knicks signed you last summer, a different point guard in the NBA, an All-Star, told me that he thought you would be the perfect fit for the Knicks, because the Knicks were a team with a lot of options and strong personalities, and you’d be able to sort of direct everything and take control.

FELTON: I feel like I’m somebody that Melo and those guys, they respect me. So if I tell them something, they’re not going to get mad, they’re not going to look at me crazy. They respect my game, they respect me as a point guard. I’m going to get you guys the ball. I know that you and JR need to score this basketball for us. I think those guys, they saw that last year, and this year there’s going to be even more of a respect level, because we had a good season as a team. So I think those guys respected me, just like I give them that same respect back. That’s a big part of having a good team — if you’ve got that respect for each other, it’s easy to play with each other.

ME: Last season you guys had a lot of new parts. How long did you feel like it took you guys to kind of get on the same page?

FELTON: It really took the preseason, and we really tried to click, and we got our bumps and bruises out of the way. Because when the season started, we were rolling.

ME: Right, you guys were red-hot, started 15-5.

FELTON: The biggest thing we wanted to do, we wanted to get off to a great start because we looked toward the end of the year, and our schedule was tough. But we ended up with that tough schedule killing it, won 13 in a row, with all those back-to-backs, back-to-backs, travel, travel. Just the mental toughness that we have a team, after all of that, as a team, and as individuals, and just how we trust and respect one another, I think that’s really big. If you trust and respect one another, I think that takes a team a long way.

ME: What’s it like playing with Carmelo Anthony? Because he’s such a great player, and he kind of gets overshadowed a bit by guys like LeBron or Kevin Durant. Even though he might be the best scorer in the NBA …

FELTON: Without a doubt. Without a doubt. Because he scores in so many ways. There’s a lot of guys who can score the basketball in this league. Kevin Durant, by far, is one of the top ones. Him and Melo could be neck-and-neck — those guys can score in a lot of ways. But Melo can score in more ways than KD, because Melo can post up, he can score off the dribble, he can score in the mid-range, he can score finishing at the rim, and he can shoot threes. You’re talking about a guy who has a total, complete game, and he’s big and strong — 6-8, big body, strong body. A lot of people like to talk about how he takes a lot of shots, this and that. Listen man: We need him to score. It gets maximized because if you’re having an off night and you take thirty-something shots, it’s like, “Aw man, he’s shooting too much.” If you’re having a great night, he’s got 40-something points and he took thirty-something shots, ain’t nobody saying nothing. I just tell him, “You do what we need you to do. As a team, we know what you’re going to do every night.” So we gotta adjust our games to that. Me as a point guard, I have to adjust my game to that. I hate when people say about him, “He takes too many shots.” People try to compare him and LeBron — two different games. Melo is who he is, LeBron is who he is. So I hate when they try to make those comparisons. You can’t say Larry Bird and Michael Jordan had the same game. They’re different, but they both got chips. Add Magic Johnson in there. Those guys all had totally, completely different games. But they all got rings. That’s all it is. I support Melo 100 percent. He knows that. We all do. And we want to continue to keep working and get better.

ME: You spent last season playing with Jason Kidd. What kind of coach do you think he’ll be this season in Brooklyn?

FELTON: I think he’ll be a great coach, but at the end of the day, he’s not going to have to do too mCharlotte Bobcats v New York Knicksuch coaching. He can do like Phil Jackson did — he might have drawn something up out of the timeouts, he might have talked about a couple of things during halftime, but Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, those guys ran the team, they made the game. You’ve got Deron Williams, one of the best point guards in the league, you’ve got Joe Johnson, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Brook Lopez, those guys understand the game and they’re veterans, so there’s not too much coaching you can do. But he’s going to be great for Deron. He was great for me last year. He made my game better. He made me look at a lot of things a whole lot differently, as far as on the court and off the court. So mentally, he’s going to be great for D, without a doubt. He’s going to make him better mentally, and make him better when he’s on the court. The team themselves? Really, they’re going to be fine on their own. As far as a coach, he’s going to be a great coach. A guy who knows the game the way he does, played the game at the level he played, he’s going to be a great coach. Especially as a point guard, because as a point guard you have to understand every position. Say a coach has 50 plays, you’ve got to know 50 plays, but you’ve got to know every position for every play. That’s something a lot of people don’t understand. So he knows every position. It’s going to take him time to get used to going from playing last year to being a head coach this year, but I think overall he’s going to be a great coach.

ME: I live in Manhattan and I know people in the city and the boroughs love the Knicks. But the last few years, with the move to Brooklyn, it feels like people are starting to talk a little more about the Nets. But do you feel like this is still a Knicks town?

FELTON: Oh, without a doubt. I still feel like it. We’ve still got New York on our chest. We’re still the New York Knicks. We’re still the city’s team, without a doubt. Brooklyn can do whatever, and we’re still going to be the city’s team. There’s nothing like having New York on your chest. Brooklyn is going to be a good team, and I think it’s good for the city, for the state, to have the Nets in Brooklyn. It’s going to be a good, big rivalry, well talked about, which is great. I’m loving it. I don’t care that they’re here — I’m happy they’re here, actually. It’s going to be fun.

ME: So this season is just weeks away now — what are your expectations for the Knicks?

FELTON: Same thing as last year. I feel like we should grow and try to capitalize on what we did last year. We didn’t finish the postseason as well as we wanted, but as far as the season that we had, we had over 50 wins, we won our division, finished second in the East. That says a lot right there, we had a great year. Best season we’ve had in 13 years. So we’ve got to capitalize on that, try to get better from there.

ME: And how do you get better from there?

FELTON: As far as the overall season, all you can do is win more games. (Laughs.) There’s nothing else you can really do as far as that. In the postseason, that’s the biggest thing for us. You’ve got to take care of those 82 games, but if you do that and advance to the postseason, we’ve got to try and advance further than we did last season, and get past that second round, get to the Eastern Conference Finals, and go from there. One step at a time. I feel like if we do better than we did last year, it’s an overall successful year. But it’s one step at a time, one game at a time.