The Toronto Raptors are now losers of five of their last eight games, and head coach Dwane Casey is done sugarcoating it.
After the Raptors fell at home to the Oklahoma City Thunder by the final of 123-102 on Thursday, Casey went all the way off on his team.
“That exhibition of basketball was unacceptable,” Casey said, according to Robert MacLeod of the Globe and Mail. “I want to apologize to our fans, to everybody, the way we played tonight.
“And that’s just the effort, the competitive spirit wasn’t there,” the veteran coach continued. “[The Thunder] came out and played like it was a championship game and we played like it was the middle of the season game. And again, it’s not acceptable, bottom line.”
In fairness, the Raptors are dealing with a fairly major injury absence right now. But they are quickly slipping in the Eastern Conference playoff race and are now just two games away from losing homecourt advantage in the first round as well. Given some of the big moves they made at the trade deadline, Toronto appears to be going all-in on this season, so Casey is doing his best to convey that urgency to his troops as they don’t seem to have it right now.
Image via Toronto Raptors on YouTube
- Dwane Casey
Kevin Durant is the latest NBA player to receive a mysterious potato in the mail.
Durant posted a picture of himself doing rehabilitation work — along with a potato he received in the mail offering him an encouraging message as he tries to come back from his knee injury.
Treatment and inspirational potatoes. Thanks, whoever you are. pic.twitter.com/10IzZPmrFo
— Kevin Durant (@KDTrey5) March 17, 2017
Durant is somehow not the first NBA player to receive a potato in the mail and share it on social media. It all appears to be something of a viral marketing campaign from a company called Potato Parcel, and to their credit, it seems to be working out for them.
- Kevin Durant
The Los Angeles Clippers have lost eight of 13 games since the All-Star break. Their loss to the Denver Nuggets on Thursday night was their third in a row, and veteran guard J.J. Redick could not provide any excuses.
While speaking to reporters after the game, Redick was hard on himself and his teammates.
“I don’t know what to expect from this team anymore,” he said, via Bill Oram of the Orange County Register. “We’re in a bad place right now. We’re losing games. We’ve been (garbage) since the All-Star break.”
The Clippers are suddenly the No. 5 seed in the Western Conference, holding only a half-game lead over the Oklahoma City Thunder for that spot. Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan both sat out Thursday on the second night of a back-to-back, and their absence led to a complete lack of defense in a 129-114 loss. But even with the two big men, L.A.’s defense has not been good.
“Going into a game, what do you expect?” Redick asked. “I expect that we’re going to play horrible defense. I expect that. That seems pretty consistent with where we’re at right now and other than that I have no other predictions.”
Chris Paul agreed that the Clippers’ have a ton of work to do on the defensive side of the ball.
“Our defense kind of (stinks) right now. That’s on us,” Paul said. “We’ve got to get more effort and all that stuff like that. But we’ve just got to be better all around.”
The Clippers allow 105.1 points per game, which ranks near the middle of the pack in the NBA. They have allowed more than 120 points three times since the All-Star Break, however, so they have to tighten up before the postseason.
L.A. won’t stand a chance against a team like the San Antonio Spurs in a seven-game series if they can’t figure out how to stop opponents from scoring. You can understand the frustration from Redick and Paul.
LaVar Ball has created headline after headline in recent weeks by bragging about himself and his sons, and Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr does not think the constant remarks are doing anything to help the three young basketball stars.
In an appearance on ESPN 1000 in Chicago’s Waddle & Silvy Show, Kerr said Thursday he believes Ball is creating unnecessary distractions for his sons.
“The fact that everybody keeps talking about him, he seems to be accomplishing whatever he’s trying to accomplish, because the things he says are so outlandish,” Kerr said. “But he keeps getting headlines, and I guess that’s what he wants.
“I don’t think it’s helping his kids. I think it’d be better for them if they can just play and have fun and not have to hear that every day, but whatever. It’s all part of him.”
Ball’s oldest son Lonzo is a star at UCLA and a top NBA prospect. His younger sons, LiAngelo and LaMelo, are standout high school players. LaVar first made headlines last month when he claimed Lonzo is already a better player than Stephen Curry, and he has kept himself in the news ever since.
Lonzo, who is preparing to lead the Bruins in the NCAA Tournament, said Thursday that his father has “been like that my whole life” and is “never going to change for the cameras.” UCLA coach Steve Alford insists LaVar’s comments have not been a distraction for Lonzo.
“It’s been no distraction to us and a lot of that has to do with Lonzo, who he is — a strong-willed kid,” Alford said. “He’s a special talent both mentally and physically, and it’s how he’s wired. He’s been built this way. He’s been built for this.”
Most recently, LaVar has gotten himself into a war of words with Charles Barkley. That typically doesn’t end well unless you’re looking to be constantly ridiculed, which could be LaVar’s goal.
If the New York Knicks are trying to secure themselves the best possible spot in the NBA Draft lottery, they are doing a tremendous job. Winners of just five games since Feb. 4, the Knicks appear to be blatantly tanking.
And Carmelo Anthony hates every second of it.
With Thursday night’s loss to the Brooklyn Nets (New York’s second loss to the NBA’s worst team in three games), the Knicks secured their fourth consecutive losing season. For Anthony, this one has been much harder than the previous three.
“This year is disappointing due to the talent we have in this locker room and team,” he said Thursday, per Marc Berman of the New York Post. “For some reason, we couldn’t get it together and get it going. It’s more difficult this season than in the past.”
The Knicks went out and acquired Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah during an exciting offseason, and they still appear destined to fall short of their 32 wins from last year.
“It’s tough. I don’t want to use the word frustrating but it’s tough to be in this situation,” Anthony added. “Inconsistencies — that’s part of who we are as a team this year.”
Just how fed up is Anthony? He has been adamant in the past that he would not like it if the coaching staff rested him to give younger players a chance, especially if it was part of a tanking effort. But now, Carmelo has softened his stance.
“Maybe, maybe not,” Anthony of possibly playing less minutes. “For me as a professional, it’s my duty regardless of the situation to still try to play and try to win until they say don’t play nor more or sit us down with limited minutes. We still have go out there and finish the season out.”
The scariest thing for the Knicks is no one knows where they will go from here. Phil Jackson seems intent on trading Anthony, and recent comments have indicated Carmelo is growing more and more receptive to that. With Rose set to become a free agent and Noah looking like a questionable signing at best, the Knicks are likely looking at a total rebuild.
- Carmelo Anthony
Things have gotten so bad for the New York Knicks this season that they just lost two games to the Brooklyn Nets — the NBA’s worst team — in less than a week. Kyle O’Quinn seemed particularly disturbed by it.
After the Nets beat the Knicks 121-110 on Thursday night, O’Quinn was asked about losing to Brooklyn twice in three games. He took that as an opportunity to throw shade at the 13-win team.
“It doesn’t sit well,” he said, via ESPN’s Ian Begley. “We don’t play them no more so I think they got us this year. It’s tough. A team like that, you look at the roster, they shouldn’t even be in the same gym with us, I feel. But they played hard and anybody can win. It’s March. Anybody can win in March.”
With the loss, the Knicks secured their fourth consecutive losing season. O’Quinn actually had his best game of the year offensively with a team-high 23 points on 10-of-15 shooting off the bench, so perhaps the center felt he was within his right to speak out.
To a certain degree, O’Quinn has a point. The Knicks’ roster features names like Derrick Rose, Carmelo Anthony and Joakim Noah. The Nets have Brook Lopez and not much else, yet their NBA-worst 13 wins are only 14 fewer than New York. Rose had an interesting way of summing up the 2016-2017 season recently, and he probably isn’t the only one who feels that way. The Knicks are a disaster.
Steph Curry gave Golden State Warriors fans a huge scare on Thursday night when he headed to the locker room after getting tangled with an opponent early in the contest.
Curry’s Warriors were facing the Orlando Magic when Curry stepped on Evan Fournier’s foot, twisting his ankle.
Steph turned his ankle and headed to the locker room shortly after. pic.twitter.com/hDLCZS4zeu
— Warriors Talk (@JaeAzizi) March 17, 2017
Curry went to the locker room briefly but later returned to the bench. He checked back into the game with 7:31 remaining in the first quarter. He only missed about three minutes of game time.
The Warriors have been struggling since Kevin Durant’s knee injury and even lost three in a row at one point. The Dubs would have been in major trouble if Curry’s ankle injury were serious.
- Stephen Curry