NBA Suspends Shaun Livingston And Referee Courtney Kirkland For On Court Altercation

NBA Suspends Shaun Livingston And Referee Courtney Kirkland For On Court Altercation

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The NBA handed down some discipline today to Golden State Warriors guard, Shaun Livingston, as well as referee, Courtney Kirkland. Livingston was suspended for one game and Kirkland was suspended for a week after they essentially headbutted each other during the Warriors game against the Miami Heat.

Livingston was upset with the no call on what he felt was a foul and he wasn’t shy about letting Kirkland know about it. At that point, rather than walking away and just calling a technical foul, Kirkland engaged and walked towards Livingston and was part of the reason their heads touched. Livingston was immediately ejected.

He will miss the Warriors game tonight against the Pelicans, while Kirkland will be suspended from officiating a game until December 11th.

Written by Joe Casey

Twitter: @IamJoeSports

 

Dec 5, 2017 No Comments
Lavar Ball Pulls LiAngelo Out Of UCLA Over Suspension, Plans To Get Him Ready For NBA Draft

Lavar Ball Pulls LiAngelo Out Of UCLA Over Suspension, Plans To Get Him Ready For NBA Draft

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LiAngelo Ball hadn’t stepped on the court for UCLA this season and now he never will, thanks to his father, Lavar. The Elder Ball pulled his son out of school and there are no plans to try and enroll him elsewhere. The plan, according to Lavar, is to get “Gelo” ready for the NBA draft.

“I’m going to make him way better for the draft than UCLA ever could have,” he said.

“He’s not transferring to another school,” he told ESPN. “The plan is now to get Gelo ready for the NBA draft.”

Lavar is reportedly upset with UCLA for the indefinite suspension they gave to LiAngelo and the other two players who were caught stealing in China.  “I’m not sitting back and waiting,” LaVar Ball told ESPN. “He wasn’t punished this bad in China. We get back over here and the consequences were even stiffer than China. So basically they’re in jail here.”

In fact, Lavar removed LiAngelo from the school without notifying anyone related to the UCLA basketball program.  “I haven’t told any of those guys,” Lavar said. “They didn’t tell me anything, so why am I gonna tell them.”

Eventually coach Steve Alford was made aware of what’s going on and released a statement. “We learned today of LiAngelo Ball’s intention to withdraw from UCLA,” Alford said. “We respect the decision he and his family have made, and we wish him all the best in the future.”

Lavar seems somewhat delusional with the whole process of his son being suspended. Sure it was just a young, dumb mistake by LiAngelo, but for Lavar to think the whole thing was just going to go away soon and his son would only be suspended a few games is not realistic.

As part of his suspension, UCLA took away his meal card and he hasn’t been allowed to practice or travel with the team. Even before all of this happened, it was clear that LiAngelo was going to be coming off the bench for the Bruins, which was also something that didn’t sit well with Lavar. “They had him there just to use the Ball family name. They were going to keep the best shooter on the team coming off the bench? That’s like telling the Clippers back in the day not to play JJ Redick,” LaVar Ball said.

What happens now with LiAngelo is anyone’s guess. He wasn’t highly rated by any NBA scout, even before the incident in China happened, this according to Adrian Wojnarowski. This will also likely change the plans of the youngest brother, LaMelo, attending UCLA as well, which he had already committed to starting in 2019.

It’s never a boring day when Lavar Ball is involved.

Written By Joe Casey

Twitter: @IamJoeSports

Dec 4, 2017 No Comments
OKC Thunder Drop A Close One Against The Pistons In Statement Jersey Debut (99-98)

OKC Thunder Drop A Close One Against The Pistons In Statement Jersey Debut (99-98)

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The Oklahoma City Thunder were coming off their best performance of the year against the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday. They wanted to continue that momentum and make a statement on Friday against the Detroit Pistons. The Thunder organization announced that the Thunder will be debuting their new jerseys against Detroit. The “Statement” jersey that OKC wore was apart of the Nike Connect program that was incorporated this year once Nike took over the jersey licensing. The jersey lets you connect to the players iPod and music to see what he listens to before and after games via Nike App. The way the techonology is heading there is no telling what could be next for jerseys. What I can tell you is that the OKC “Statement” jersey is one of the best in the NBA that were debuted and the way the orange pops out it makes a bold statement.

The Thunder played a great game on both ends of the floor in the first half and looked to keep it rolling like they did against Golden State. The Pistons had other plans as tonight against OKC. Andre Drummond wasn’t able to get things going in that first half but came out in beast mode in the second half. Andre Drummond finished the game with 17 points and 14 rebounds on the night. The way that he played in the paint tonight against the Thunder bigs was very impressive. The thing that was impressive for the Pistons is the way they hung in the game and competed.

Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony were getting anything they wanted on the offensive end tonight. Carmelo was able to bully anyone that guarded him on the Pistons whether it be Tobias Harris or Avery Bradley. Melo was able to finish the game with 20 points and he was aggressive on the defensive boards and was defending at a high level. When Carmelo has the help like he does now in OKC he can take advanatage of playing defense and offense while taking breaks. When Melo was in NYC he had to carry the load majority of the time and the way that OKC is clicking on all cylinders now he doesn’t have too. The Thunder may have lost but Melo getting in a groove like he’s been on lately is a great sight to see.

The Pistons were able to get everyone involved in this game as they had 6 players in double figures. The bench kept them in the game and was able to score when the Thunder had some defensive breakdowns. Detroit made this a team effort as everyone stepped up but it also took for the Thunder to miss some big shots in order for them to succeed. Reggie Jackson had 12 points on the night but was able to get the ball to his teammates in the right spot and he picked his moments to be aggressive on offense. Reggie Jackson was a true vocal leader tonight and was able to make some tough plays down the stretch against the Thunder. He talked about his time in OKC and how it made him grow as a player and that showed out there on the court tonight.

Russell Westbrook has shown that he can lead this team as a vocal leader and also as the points/assists/rebound man if they need it. Westbrook has shown that whatever the Thunder need him to be on a nightly basis he will do it no matter what and that’s very clear. Russell Westbrook proved that tonight as he was able to punish the Pistons and get to the rim whenever he wanted too. When Westbrook had his moment to takeover he missed some shots that he usually makes in the clutch. The Pistons put Avery Bradley on him for that last stretch and made him for work the 3 pointers that he didn’t make at the end. Russ struggled from the 3 point line going 1-10 from long range but still had the trust from his teammates. Russell Westbroo finished with a triple double of 27 points, 11 assists, 11 rebounds. Paul George didn’t have the best night as he was getting bad calls against him and he wasn’t able to get back in the flow of the game. Paul George had 16 points and was able to defend and get in the passing lanes to help but it wasn’t enough to get the win tonight. PG was talking about defensive breakdowns and what they needed to do better in order to win tomorrow against the Mavs.

 

Photo Credit: (Photo by Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images)

Nov 25, 2017 No Comments
OKC Thunder Beat The Mavs On Russell Westbrook’s 29th Birthday (112-99)

OKC Thunder Beat The Mavs On Russell Westbrook’s 29th Birthday (112-99)

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The Thunder were coming into this game tonight without Steven Adams for a second game in a row. What the OKC Thunder and the fans didn’t know is that they would be without Carmelo Anthony who was nursing a sore back. With Melo sitting out tonight it was all up to Paul George and the birthday boy Russell Westbrook to carry the load against the Dallas Mavericks. Russell Westbrook celebrated his birthday by rocking his Air Jordan 10 “Why Not” PE that Jordan Brand made for him after winning the MVP.

Paul George also wore a special pair of Nike PG1s that he labed “The Westbrook Party Joints” tonight.

Russell Westbrook and Paul George both went off on the Mavericks tonight and were able to get into a ryhtym for the second time in a row. Both PG-13 and the Brodie combined for 64 points tonight and took it to the Mavericks. This stretch of games have been really good for Paul George as he follows his 42 point performance with a 37 point performance. This is the Paul George that everyone envisioned touching down in OKC and now that Westbrook is learning his sweet spots the offense is flowing the way that it’s supposed too. Russell Westbrook was being his usual self and wasn’t let anything stop him from getting to the rim whenever he wanted. Westbrook had 9 points at the end of the half and ended the game with 27 points. Westbrook has used his leadership and his will to bring the Thunder team together and you can tell that the team is finding their niche right away. The bench has been able to step up as well and without Melo in the lineup Jerami Grant got the call to step up in place of the All Star. Grant had 10 points and 8 rebounds but had some thunderish dunks that has everyone wondering if he will be in the NBA Dunk Contest in February. Overall Grant has been able to step up his play and has shown that he can grow and be reliable in this system. Overall the Thunder played the way that everyone has expected them even if it was against the Mavericks. OKC has used these last couple of games to gel into what they need to be as a whole. The Defense was able to force a lot of turnovers and that turned into fast break points for the Thunder on numerous occations in the game.

The Mavericks have a special talent in Dennis Smith Jr as he poured in 15 points in his first career matchup against Russell Westbrook. Dennis Smith Jr is extremely talented and has shown that he has what it takes to get his team involved and also he’s showed that he can take over a game offensively. Most night Dennis Smith Jr is able to do as he pleases and get to the rim at any moment but the Thunder interior defense slowed that down tonight. Harrison Barnes played a great game tonight and was able to score when the Mavs needed a bucket but the offensive performance from OKC was too much to go back and forth with as they found themselves down by 21 really quick. The future for the Mavericks is very bright with Smith and Barnes running the show for the next couple of years. One thing that the Mavericks fans can bank on is that Dennis Smith Jr isn’t intimidated by Russell Westbrook and always looks forward to a matchup.

The Mavs took the loss and will look to bounce back in their next game. The Thunder will be playing against the Bulls as Cameron Payne makes his return back to OKC the team that drafted him.

 

Photo Credit: Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images

Nov 13, 2017 No Comments
PGs 42 Point Night Helps OKC Snap Their 4 Game Skid Against The Clippers (120-111)

PGs 42 Point Night Helps OKC Snap Their 4 Game Skid Against The Clippers (120-111)

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Coming into tonights game the Thunder needed a win in the worst way possible. The Thunder held a private players only meeting to work on things and try to gain that understanding/chemistry. The meeting defintely had to work because the Thunder came out looking like a team that  desperately needed a win and badly. OKC came out clicking on all cylinders and the Big 3 were able to be very aggressive on the perimeter with Patrick Beverley and Danilo Gallinari out. Paul George was on another level tonight as he was able to get into ryhtym very early in the game and looked extremely comfotable. This is the Paul George that everyone had been waiting for in Oklahoma City. When Paul George is attacking and hitting his jumper the other team is defintely in trouble.

 

 

This is the first time all season the Thunder had a player reach 40 points or more and PG put the team on his back defensively and offensively. You can tell that PG was feeling it and all of the Big 3 know if one person is on fire to keep feeding him. This Thunder team has gone through some growing pains and they seemed to be patched up pretty quick against the Clippers. In order for this Thunder team to flourish the way everyone knows they can they will have to continue to play at this elite level on both ends. OKC’s Big 3 combined for 78 points on the night and they were able to get others involved off of their momentum.

 

 

Dakari Johnson started in place of Steven Adams and played one hell of a game. The rookie went up against DeAndre Jordan in his first career start and didn’t back down at all. Johnson had 9 points, 2 assists, and 1 rebound in the win. It was good to see Dakari being aggressive and taking care of the paint on both ends. Late in the game Dakari hit a couple of clutch free throws and a dagger like jumper from Russell Westbrooks smooth pass. Overall the team was able to maintain the momentum in the game even when it felt like it was getting close in the late stages of the game.

 

OKC was able to contain everyone else on the Clippers and they forced Lou Williams to try and beat them. Lou had 35 points for the Clippers but no one else on their team was able to help or add in more than 20 points. The Thunder did a great job of defending Blake Griffin as they held him to 17 points and didn’t let him bully them in the paint. Carmelo Anthony was guarding Blake on the evening and was making everything tough for him. What did come easy was the Thunder knowing that Alex Abrines had his game rolling tonight as they fed him the ball in his spot as he added 14 points. If the Thunder bench can compete with other teams benches they should be in the driver seat for every single game that they play. The Big 3 can score and defend with the best of them and will try to keep that going as they have the Dallas Mavericks coming into town on Sunday.

Nov 11, 2017 No Comments
Kristaps Porzingis Is Showing He Is Ready To Lead Right Now

Kristaps Porzingis Is Showing He Is Ready To Lead Right Now

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Coming into the 2017-18 season, a question that was on the mind of many New Yorkers and people around the NBA was if Kristaps Porzingis was ready to take on the challenge of leading a team. Porzingis had the benefit of playing alongside Carmelo Anthony for his first two seasons in the league and was never really looked upon to lead anyone. Instead, he played his role and quietly watched how Anthony handled the spotlight and bright lights of New York City. On the court it was never a question as to who was going to take the last shot in a tight game, or who would shoulder the majority of the offensive load on a nightly basis. Anthony would handle all of that as Porzingis continued to get better without having to deal with the full glare of the media or expectations of clutch performances when it counted most.

Now at the age of just 22, all of that has changed. With Anthony’s departure to Oklahoma City, it is now Porzingis who is expected to lead. The Knicks coaches and fans alike are looking to him to carry the offense, to take and hit late game shots, to deal with the full attention of the media and perhaps most importantly, deliver hope to a generation of fans, whom with a few exceptions, have seen nothing but year after year of losing. The good news is although we are only eight games into the season, Porzingis is showing he is more than capable of being that leader on and off the court.

Lets start with the hard numbers. Porzingis is averaging career highs in points (29.0), field goal attempts (22.0), field goal percentage (48.3) and rebounds (7.8). Add scoring at least 30 points in six of the first eight games and just under 2 blocks per game and it’s no wonder chants of MVP are raining down on the Unicorn during the Knicks somewhat surprising 4-4 start. He’s earned every one of those chants with his performance and overall effort.

We have seen more confidence and emotion from him through just eight games this season than perhaps we did in his first two seasons combined. After the Knicks opened the season with a loss to the Thunder, it was Anthony who said he was happy to see Porzingis be so aggressive and confident with his decision making. Those trends have continued through seven games since as he is doing things different than we have seen before. In his first two seasons, there would be times Porzingis was hesitant to shoot over a defender, even when being guarded by players much shorter than himself. This season, he is wasting no time establishing position and going up with the ball over defenders of all heights as he knows there is really no such thing as a bad shot for him. With each passing game, more and more of that confidence exudes from his 7’3 frame. In fact, after the Knicks win over the Phoenix Suns, it was former Knicks player, Tyson Chandler who said he had a real shot to become the best player in the league. It was a comment that Porzingis was appreciative of but he didn’t shy away from it. “Those are some big words coming from him. I believe so, too. I believe so, too,” Porzingis said. “And that’s something I’m going to work towards.”

It was also a statement that Knicks coach, Jeff Hornacek found easy to agree with. “We knew he had the talent to do it. When you become that guy and the focus is on you, that was our hope he’d do that,” Hornacek said. “It’s panned out. That’s to his credit. Playing in EuroBasket made a big difference of being the main guy. He knew could translate it when he comes here.

“He’s enjoying that role, and has the confidence to do it. You’re always surprised when a guy comes out scoring 30 every night, but in a way you’re not surprised.” He did also add “He’s become a better all-around defender,’’ in regards to MVP talk. The Knicks of course will have to at the very least be a playoff team for any of that MVP talk to become legit.

Even showing more of that confidence, Porzingis has adopted the “Mamba mentality” from the player he loved the most growing up, Kobe Bryant. Not long after dropping a career high 38 points on the Denver Nuggets, Porzingis explained how he goes about things in the same way that Bryant would. “I watched a Kobe interview, the game he had 81. He said at any moment he didn’t stop, ‘Oh I got 50. I got 60.’ He just kept going. That’s my mentality always. Whatever is going on I just keep being aggressive, keep playing my game, and once the game is over I check my stats.”

Off the court, besides conducting himself like a model citizen despite all the sinful opportunities that lie within the big apple, Porzingis is being more vocal through the media. Recently, his brother Janis drew the ire of Knicks fans when he gave an interview to a Latvian publication, where he sounded as if he was threatening the Knicks in regards to his brother signing a contract extension this summer. In the past, Porzingis may not have even addressed any of it and remained silent, similar to how he was all summer after skipping out on his exit interview last season. Instead, he spoke about everything directly and wanted to clear the air as a leader would. “I think fans know I’m here in New York, I love New York and I see myself as a Knick for a long, long time,” he said. “And I think they shouldn’t be worrying about that.”

“I thought the article and everything was taken out of context. A big part,” Porzingis continued. “But it is what it is. He made those comments and right now I really want to focus on the game, really. Just during the season I don’t think this is the right time to talk about things like that.”

He also spoke on comments his brother made where it seemed he was taking direct shots at Carmelo Anthony for how he handled things last season. Porzingis also shot those down. “Me and Carmelo, we have a great relationship no matter,” he said. “It’s taken out of context. A lot of that stuff, it’s not how he meant it. Me and Melo, we know what kind of relationship we have. I’m not worried about that.” In a city like New York, you can’t let rumors grow into something bigger and become a distraction and that appears to be something he already knows.

While it has only been a small sample size, it’s clear that anyone who was concerned with Porzingis needing another year with Melo before he could lead on his own, or needing more time to develop in general, were dead wrong. It’s still a long season and the Knicks may or may not wind up being a playoff team but there is no debating that the era of the unicorn is off to a great start and his leadership may be just the thing to guide them into the postseason.

Written by Joe Casey

Twitter: @IamJoeSports

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nov 5, 2017 No Comments