Oklahoma City forward Lu Dort went viral for some of the crazy defense he played against LeBron James on Wednesday night.
Dort used his hands to try impairing James’ vision while defending the four-time MVP. At times when others wouldn’t bother with such moves, Dort used everything within his power to affect James.
NBA Twitter personality @WorldWideWob jokingly called it “The Dorture Chamber.”
Despite the defense, James still went 9/20 from the field and had 25 points. His Los Angeles Lakers still beat OKC 114-113 in overtime.
Dort’s defense reminds us a lot of the style Shane Battier famously used against Kobe Bryant.
Following the most unprecedented regular season in the history of the NBA, the 2020 playoffs have officially kicked off. Familiarity truly does breed contempt, and housing all of the postseason adversaries in one compound has only furthered the intensity.
Here are four of the standout performers from the first week of the NBA playoffs.
Every generational superstar has a defining moment or game in their career when their greatness becomes abundantly clear. Kobe Bryant’s came during the 2000 NBA Finals when he was just 21 years old, as he led the Lakers to a game four victory in overtime after Shaquille O’Neal fouled out. For LeBron James, it was scoring 25 straight points as the Cavaliers upset the Detroit Pistons in 2007. Despite it only being the first round of the playoffs, Luka Doncic’s Game 4 performance was his moment.
Nothing signifies the gravity of a moment quite like a “double BANG” from Mike Breen. The only thing more impressive than the shot itself was that it served as the exclamation point to cap off Doncic’s 43 points, 17 rebounds, 13 assists triple-double effort. After rolling his ankle in the Maverick’s Game 3 loss, there was little reason for optimism in Dallas until Doncic delivered the most memorable game of the postseason so far. Doncic’s game has never been based around quickness; even on an injured ankle he’s been able to penetrate the Clippers’ defense at will.
In the playoffs, the Mavericks have simplified their offense. They regularly allowed Doncic to seek the mismatch he desires by forcing a switch through a ball screen. Watching Doncic dissect the defense is puzzling at times, as it appears almost as if he is lumbering around the screen until the moment he detects the opening and in one powerful burst he’s gone. His underrated explosion and size are reminiscent of James Harden, and factoring in the number of stepback threes each player makes, their shot profiles are remarkably similar.
The ultimate compliment for an NBA player comes from their opponents; look at what some of the NBA’s best had to say about Doncic.
The period between Christmas and New Years acts as a handy moment to redefine the college basketball season. Conference play for nearly every league kicks off, meaning we can really start to assess which teams are fighting for top seeds, which have a shot at an at-large tournament bid, and which are in some serious need of a turnaround.
College basketball’s increase in newcomers has been one of the main reasons it takes a few months to sort out all of those details. Transfers, both those moving as a graduate or those who looked for a new path as undergrads, are everywhere in college hoops. The rising importance of freshmen has been an even more crucial change.
One-and-done freshmen, or those who think they have a chance at a shot at the NBA this spring, are major players in the basketball landscape. Even freshmen with uncertain professional prospects are entering college more physically and mentally ready to play than ever before.
By now, it’s clear which first-year players will be factors in March and which need time to sort things out. Here is a look at 10 freshmen who have impressed this season so far:
10. Talen Horton-Tucker, Iowa State
Iowa State has been riddled by both injuries and suspensions early in the season, leaving coach Steve Prohm with a short bench to date. It has mattered far less than many expected thanks to the emergence of freshman Talen Horton-Tucker.
The freshman is a do-everything glue guy for the Cyclones, standing only 6-foot-4, but a solid 240 pounds. Though Horton-Tucker is averaging 14.8 points per game, it’s his all-around game that has impressed. He is adding 11.5 rebounds, 5.8 assists, and 3.1 steals per 100 possessions. Even as a freshman, he’s been arguably the most efficient player on the floor for Iowa State.
In just his fifth collegiate game, Horton-Tucker posted 26 points, 14 rebounds, and 6 assists against Illinois at the Maui Invitational. If Prohm and his staff didn’t have Horton-Tucker at the forefront of their gameplans before that performance, they do now.