Dec 7 (Reuters – Oklahoma City guard Russell Westbrook gorged himself with 27 points in the first half as the Thunder extended their recent dominant run with a 114-108 win over the short-handed Los Angeles Lakers on Friday. The victory was the Thunder’s seventh in a row, and their 16th win of the season, while the Lakers are struggling at 9-11. After trailing by a point after the first quarter, the Thunder (16-4) exploded in the second with 41 to open up a 14-point lead at the half, a gap the Lakers could not reel in. …
A pair of losses have the Miami Heat searching for answers defensively.
The New York Knicks may be without Carmelo Anthony again, so Raymond Felton looks to continue shaking off his own injury in an attempt to pick up the slack in his absence.
MIAMI (AP) — LeBron James and four teammates chatted for several minutes under a basket after the Miami Heat finished practice on Friday afternoon, each player sporting a serious look for the entirety of the conversation.
MIAMI — Everything seemed to favor the Heat.
In a week, the Phoenix Suns have gone from a “sure, they’re going to entertain; give ‘em a chance “-styled upstart to a disappointing batch of coconuts that has lost five straight in a run that seems more in line with the pessimistic win totals they were expected to rack up before 2012-13. Worse, in ways that Eric Freeman went over earlier on Friday , the Suns aren’t all that fun to watch anymore. Over the course of a week they’ve just about destroyed most of the goodwill that came from our initial interest in this plucky team featuring two entertaining big men, an up-tempo offense, and a cast of goofballs.
On the heels of the team’s ” Guaranteed Entertainment ” night that ranked as one of the least-entertaining games of the NBA week — nationally televised or otherwise — the always tactful Suns owner Robert Sarver decided to have a post-game meeting with his coach after being embarrassed on a TNT broadcast. A performance that possibly served as the newest career-low, more in terms of aesthetics than actual production, for Suns free agent prize Michael Beasley.
AZ Central’s Paul Coro, as is usually the case, is our go-to source :
Once the Suns’ 97-94 home loss to Dallas was over, Coach Alvin Gentry was asked if it was time to move Beasley to the bench.
“More than likely,” Gentry said.
Could he do it for Saturday’s game at the Los Angeles Clippers?
“Could possibly be,” Gentry said.
And then Gentry went into a closed-door meeting with Suns staff and Managing Partner Robert Sarver after five consecutive losses. The problem with the timing to demote Beasley now is Thursday night’s injury to P.J. Tucker. He was a candidate to replace Beasley at starting small forward but sprained the MCL in his right knee and did not return to the game. More on Tucker’s availability will be learned today.
After leading scorer and signature star Carmelo Anthony was downgraded from a game-time decision to out for the New York Knicks’ matchup with the Miami Heat, plenty of Knicks fans wondered just how New York was going to score enough to keep the Thursday night tilt interesting.
After all, this was a Knicks squad starting Kurt Thomas, Ronnie Brewer and Tyson Chandler, who aren’t exactly prime-time scorers; that figured to feature a lot of shots by hot-and-cold types like Raymond Felton, J.R. Smith and Rasheed Wallace; and that would be facing a Miami defense that, while certainly nowhere near the wrecking crew that ended last season, still seemed quick and aggressive enough to gum up the Knicks’ ball-movement-heavy offense once it no longer had to key on Anthony, the NBA’s third-leading scorer and the Knicks’ unquestioned offensive focal point. With the proverbial head of the snake already cut off, how would the Knicks adjust?
The answer, apparently: Become a hydra and attack from everywhere . Including, and most notably, from long range:
With Anthony out of the lineup, the Knicks ran pick-and-roll after pick-and-roll, swinging the ball around the court like mad to stretch Miami’s unsettled switch/hedge-heavy defense until its shape was distorted, and then routinely made one more little pass for an even more wide-open shot, frequently behind the 3-point arc. The result: 44 3-point attempts and 18 makes in a stunning 112-92 blitz . (They also took 47 shots from 2-point range and made 23 of those, but they weren’t as pretty to look at or as valuable.)
MIAMI, Dec 6 (Reuters) – The New York Knicks enjoyed a second 20-point win over the defending NBA champion Miami Heat in just over a month on Thursday, giving them the belief that this year they can compete when it matters in the post-season. Last year, New York lost all three regular season games to their Eastern Conference rivals Miami and then fell 4-1 to the Heat in the first round of the playoffs. For Knicks center Tyson Chandler, who was part of the Dallas Mavericks team that defeated the Heat in the 2011 finals, Thursday’s victory was a big psychological boost. …
MIAMI (Reuters) – The Miami Heat suffered their worst home defeat of the ‘Big Three’ era as the defending NBA champions crashed to a 112-92 loss to a New York Knicks team without their star forward Carmelo Anthony. The Knicks have sole leadership of the Eastern Conference with a 14-4 record, ahead of the Heat who slip to 12-5, having also lost by 20 points to the Knicks in New York on November 2. …
* Heat suffer worst loss of ‘Big Three’ era * Knicks enjoy second 20-point win over Miami this season * New York move clear at top of Eastern Conference (Adds detail, quotes) MIAMI, Dec 6 (Reuters) – The Miami Heat suffered their worst home defeat of the ‘Big Three’ era as the defending NBA champions crashed to a 112-92 loss to a New York Knicks team without their star forward Carmelo Anthony. The Knicks have sole leadership of the Eastern Conference with a 14-4 record, ahead of the Heat who slip to 12-5, having also lost by 20 points to the Knicks in New York on Nov. 2. …