Wednesday NBA Roundup: Joel Embiid, Kristaps Porzingis in Disparate Situations


Wednesday NBA Roundup: Joel Embiid, Kristaps Porzingis in Disparate Situations
  1. Wednesday NBA Roundup: Joel Embiid, Kristaps Porzingis in Disparate Situations
    bleacherreport.com
    After T.J. McConnell's buzzer-beating game-winner lifted the Philadelphia 76ers over the New York Knicks on Wednesday, it officially became impossible not to trust the process. Not because the Sixers' 98-97 triumph produced win No. 11 on the season, one more than they amassed in all of 2015-16, and not because Joel Embiid soundly outplayed Kristaps Porzingis. Instead, the true validation of a painful, much-derided rebuilding process was in the way it produced a Sixers team so…
    Basketball

After T.J. McConnell's buzzer-beating game-winner lifted the Philadelphia 76ers over the New York Knicks on Wednesday, it officially became impossible not to trust the process.

Not because the Sixers' 98-97 triumph produced win No. 11 on the season, one more than they amassed in all of 2015-16, and not because Joel Embiid soundly outplayed Kristaps Porzingis.

Instead, the true validation of a painful, much-derided rebuilding process was in the way it produced a Sixers team so profoundly different than the one New York put on the floor.

Call it a juxtaposition of patience and impatience. Or, if you want to get more graphic, think of the Sixers' and Knicks' organizational philosophies like this: One has shown an uncommon willingness to take lumps, while the other has avoided growing pains at all costs, only to inflict mortal, franchise-killing wounds upon itself.

The contrasting results of those processes (yeah, I said it again) was evident after McConnell's mid-range winner fell, when everyone in a three-mile radius celebrated a fourth win in five nights and a 10-point comeback in the final two minutes.

Philadelphia—players, home crowd, broadcast team, executives on the sidelines—was deliriously jubilant.

The Knicks were in despair, and that contrast is really just a macro version of the emotions that arise when watching both teams.

When New York hits a rough patch, misses a defensive assignment or stagnates on offense, it's dispiriting. And that's because this is a Knicks team desperately trying to win right now. It's hungry for relevance, thirsty for a playoff berth.

You don't ink Joakim Noah to a ludicrous contract or trade for Derrick Rose if you're building for the long haul.

The Sixers' missteps, of which there were many Wednesday, lack that emotional soul-sapping quality because they're expected. Even invited.

Embiid scored 21 points and grabbed a career-high 14 rebounds, but he was asked to do far too much in this game—as has been the case all season. But in overburdening their franchise player, the 76ers are really fostering growth. Though his rookie season has been a resounding success, Embiid has failed over and over again.

Noah stoned him in the post several times down the stretch, but Philly kept trusting Embiid as a low-block fulcrum. This is an approach you can take when wins in the present don't really matter. You can thrust someone like Embiid into adverse situations, even set him up to fail in some sense, but not worry about the short-term consequences.

While the Knicks stifle themselves and Porzingis with win-now expectations, Philadelphia liberates Embiid with its future vision and disregard for present failure.

Which is partly why you get sequences like this from the first quarter, in which Porzingis, limited in his role, hits a perfect buttoned-up three, only to see Embiid unleashed for a wild Eurostepping finish on the other end:

Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

One guy has to fit in; the other gets to show out.

And when Embiid clanked an entirely too ambitious dunk attempt, sending himself sprawling to the floor, it was funny—not gut-wrenching like Porzingis' air-balled corner three on New York's final offensive possession.

Maybe if KP, who finished with just seven points on 3-of-10 shooting, had played at all in the fourth quarter, he would have been a little looser on that final attempt. But no, the Knicks had to let Carmelo Anthony run the show and score 28 points.

Because New York is a team with grand dreams of the eighth seed in the East.

Those fantasies are fading, and that's the most damning part of this comparison. Over the last month, the overwrought Knicks are 4-12 with a minus-4.6 net rating. Philadelphia, growing joyfully and expectation-free, is 6-7 with a minus-2.4 net rating.

Perhaps the Sixers are the ones who should be thinking about playing in late April. They seem into it, as Embiid's comments indicate, via Derek Bodner of Philadelphia Magazine:

But hey, the whole Process teardown destroyed the fanbase, right? Missing the playoffs for the last four years wasn't worth it.

Except...what's four years, really? And how much worse is it than three years, which is when the Knicks last made the postseason? If you want to get a longer view, the Sixers have been in the playoffs seven times in the last 15 years. New York: four times.

The Knicks have destroyed themselves with one shortsighted gambit after another. Meanwhile, the 76ers are thriving because they thought harder about the big picture.

Both Embiid and Porzingis remain enviable cornerstones. They'll have years to butt heads, and it'll be a privilege to watch them. But right now, Philadelphia is producing better results than the Knicks, which hardly matters to the Sixers.

Because for them, as always, it's about the process.

 

Vengeance Is Westbrook's...And OKC's

Who cares if the Oklahoma City Thunder are right to be mad about Memphis Grizzlies guard Troy Daniels bombing garbage-time threes the last time these two teams met? Just know OKC was aggrieved, as Fred Katz of the Norman Transcript relays here via an interview with Andre Roberson:

Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

See that? Miffed. Bothered. Annoyed. Ticked, even.

No surprise, then, that the Thunder got after it early in their 103-95 win against the Grizz.

Russell Westbrook, who finished with 24 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists in his 18th triple-double this season, seemed particularly motivated:

And in terms of retribution, maybe Enes Kanter's development into a competent passer (unheard of last year, and even earlier this season) might actually sting the Grizzlies even more. Because while you can prepare for Westbrook's statistical onslaught, you really don't expect Kanter to dice you up with dimes.

In addition to point-Kanter's three assists, the reserve big man also bullied his way to 19 points and 13 rebounds.

Though it's probably a beacon of mental instability in the real world, taking minor slights and inflating them for motivational purposes tends to be a sign of a dangerous NBA team. Just to be safe, opponents should probably stop shooting threes against OKC entirely.

Don't want to incur any extra wrath.

 

The Timberwolves Can't Blow 'Em All

Credit the Minnesota Timberwolves for not collapsing into the fetal position and surrendering to the fear. Up a dozen…

  1. Utah Jazz on high note entering Friday’s matchup vs. Mavericks

    Star-Telegram - Mavericks
    01.20 / 03:21 star-telegram.com
    Jazz at Mavericks 7:30 p.m. Friday, American Airlines Center, Dallas TV: FSSW Radio: ESPN/103.3 FM, KFLC/1270 AM (Spanish) Records: Jazz 27-16; Mavericks 14-28 About the Jazz: Utah is in first … Click to Continue…
  2. Suns fall in early hole, lose to Cavaliers in Cleveland

    AZcentral-PhoenixSuns
    01.20 / 03:20 azcentral.com
    CLEVELAND – Twelve days ago on their home court, the Suns battled back from a 22-point first-half deficit to push the reigning champ Cleveland Cavaliers to the b…
  3. Curtis girls' basketball team edges Susan Wagner, 44-42

    Highschoolsports.silive.com - Basketball
    The PSAL girls' basketball contest between host Curtis and Susan Wagner Thursday came down to the wire, but thanks to some timely shots and defensive adjustments, the Warriors prevailed, 44-42.…
  4. Andrew Bogut is making progress, getting closer to returning to action

    Lgbtqblog.dallasnews.com - Basketball
    01.20 / 03:18 lgbtqblog.dallasnews.com
    MIAMI -- Andrew Bogut was in street clothes for the fourth game in a row Thursday night and will not play Friday against Utah at American Airlines Center.But his return isn't far off, coach Rick Carlisle said."He's doing better and ramping up his activity and running and conditioning stuff," he said. "If things continue to go well, he could be ready to play sometime soon. I don't have an exact timetable. He's not going to play tonight. He's not going to play tomorrow (Friday vs. Utah).…
  5. Trip to Miami brings back fond memories for Dirk Nowitzki 

    Lgbtqblog.dallasnews.com - Basketball
    01.20 / 03:17 lgbtqblog.dallasnews.com
    Dirk Nowitzki likes to live in the moment, but he is as human as the next person and can't help but relive 2011 when he comes to Miami.It was particularly easy to get nostalgic on this trip because the Mavericks stayed at the same hotel they did in the 2011 finals - and the same one when they lost the finals in 2006."The hotel - we stayed at a couple other hotels the last few years - this time we stayed in the same hotel so there were a lot of memories walking in the lobby there," he said.…
  6. No. 25 Maryland holds off Iowa, 84-76

    Btn.com - Basketball
    01.20 / 03:05 btn.com
    No. 25 Maryland was tested by Iowa but emerged with the 84-76 road victory Thursday. Melo Trimble led the way with 20 points for the Terps, who are now in sole possession of first place in the Big Ten at 5-1.…
  7. Jodie Meeks Will Miss 4-6 Weeks with Thumb Injury

    Nationofblue.com - Basketball
    01.20 / 02:31 nationofblue.com
    Former Kentucky star Jodie Meeks can’t seem to catch a break with the Orlando Magic. Meeks, who has been shooting better than 40% from long range since coming back from foot surgery, will now miss 4-6 weeks with a thumb injury. Here are details from the Orlando Sentinel: Shooting guard Jodie Meeks likely will miss…
  8. NBA All-Star Starters Snubs: Russell Westbrook, Isaiah Thomas Disrespected By Voters

    NESN.com - NBA
    01.20 / 02:19 nesn.com
    The NBA tried a new process to select the starters for the Eastern and Western Conference teams for next month’s... Read More…
  9. Brionna Jones scores 25 as No. 3 Maryland women beat Michigan

    WashingtonTimes-Basketball
    01.20 / 02:06 washingtontimes.com
    COLLEGE PARK — Brionna Jones had 25 points and 10 rebounds, and No. 3 Maryland pulled away in the fourth quarter to beat Michigan 83-70 Thursday night for its sixth straight victory. It was the ninth straight double-double for Jones and 13th for the season. The 6-foot-4 senior made 12…
  10. Jimmy Butler's Future With Bulls Will Factor Into Dwyane Wade's 17-18 Decision

    Basketball.realgm.com - Basketball
    01.20 / 01:48 basketball.realgm.com
    Dwyane Wade will weigh the future of Jimmy Butler with the Chicago Bulls as he considers whether to remain with the franchise for the 17-18 season. The Bulls have been debating whether to initiate a full-scale rebuild, which would involve trading away Butler. "At the end of the year, you sit back and see what the team is, what direction they're going in," Wade told ESPN on Wednesday night. "I would be a liar to say that I want to play on a team with all 21-year-olds. You know what I…
  11. LeBron, Giannis, Harden Headline 2017 NBA All-Star Starters

    Basketball.realgm.com - Basketball
    01.20 / 01:47 basketball.realgm.com
    The NBA has announced their starters for the 2017 All-Star Game in New Orleans.Eastern ConferenceLeBron JamesGiannis AntetokounmpoJimmy ButlerDeMar DeRozanKyrie Irving Western Conference Kevin Durant Kawhi Leonard Anthony Davis James Harden Stephen Curry NBA All-Star Starters Since 2005: https://t.co/pTJyT0SbCM pic.twitter.com/UJDZGDicHK - RealGM (@RealGM) January 20, 2017 Russell Westbrook was the biggest omission as he finished third in fan voting amongst guards but first for…
  12. Russell Westbrook leads NBA in scoring, averages a triple-double… and will not start in All-Star Game

    Yardbarker.com - Basketball
    01.20 / 01:31 yardbarker.com
    Well, Russell Westbrook may be the biggest NBA All-Star Game starting lineup snub of all-time.Despite leading the NBA in scoring (30.6 points per game; nearly two full points better than anyone), leading the NBA in Player Efficiency rating (29.56), and averaging a triple-double (10.6 rebounds, 10.4 assists), the Oklahoma City Thunder guard is reportedly not among the five players starting on the Western Conference All-Star team. Here’s more, from ESPN.Com: Russell Westbrook is not…
  13. Giannis Antetokounmpo dribble gets NBA Last Two Minutes Report criticized

    Movietvtechgeeks.com - Basketball
    01.20 / 01:20 movietvtechgeeks.com
    Click to read the full story: Giannis Antetokounmpo dribble gets NBA Last Two Minutes Report criticized NBA Last Two Minutes Report Not Going Anywhere Despite Continued Criticism by Referees and Players The post Giannis Antetokounmpo dribble gets NBA Last Two Minutes Report criticized appeared first on Movie TV Tech Geeks News By: Chris…
  14. Embiid, Pachulia would have started ASG under previous voting system

    Thescore.com - Basketball
    01.20 / 01:11 thescore.com
    The fans trusted the process, but that process was changed by the league.Philadelphia 76ers rookie sensation Joel Embiid, Golden State Warriors center Zaza Pachulia, and Chicago Bulls shooting guard Dwyane Wade won the fan voting in their respective conferences.Embiid received 922,174 votes which ranked third among East frontcourt players. Wade had 979,566 votes which was good for second among East guards ahead of DeMar DeRozan. Pachulia earned 1,528,941 votes which was 50 percent more…
  15. Giannis Antetokoumnpo headlines the 2017 NBA All-Star starters

    Fansided.com - Basketball
    01.20 / 01:05 fansided.com
    The 10 starters for the 2017 NBA All-Star Game have been announced, with Milwaukee Bucks point forward Giannis Antetokounmpo as the biggest headliner. On Thursday, Jan. 19, the starters for the 2017 NBA All-Star Game were announced. The game will be played on February 19 at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans. It was […] Giannis Antetokoumnpo headlines the 2017 NBA All-Star starters - FanSided - FanSided - Sports News, Entertainment, Lifestyle & Technology - 300+…
  16. LeBron James, Steph Curry among All-Star Game starters

    WashingtonTimes-WashingtonWizard
    01.20 / 01:04 washingtontimes.com
    It's not a surprise John Wall will have to continue to wait to see if he has made his fourth consecutive All-Star Game. The starters for the NBA All-Star Game in New Orleans on Feb. 19 were announced Thursday night. Wall cracked the top five in player and media voting,…
  17. The Joel Embiid All-Star campaign worked… sort of

    Fansided.com - Basketball
    01.20 / 01:04 fansided.com
    What can you do, really? If the votes are there, the votes are there. If they’re not, they’re not. Joel Embiid campaigned his heart out. Some of America fell in love. Some of that some fell a little harder, myself included. Alas, Joel Embiid as an All-Star starter was not to be. He is still […] The Joel Embiid All-Star campaign worked… sort of - FanSided - FanSided - Sports News, Entertainment, Lifestyle & Technology - 300+ S…
  18. Detroit Pistons' Stanley Johnson showing signs of curbing slump

    DetroitFreePress-Pistons
    01.20 / 00:52 freep.com
    20-year-old swingman passing the ball well, and perhaps finding his shooting…
  19. Greek Freak joins LeBron among East starters

    Thescore.com - Basketball
    01.20 / 00:35 thescore.com
    The first year of collaborative All-Star voting is in the books, with NBA fans, players, and media members combining to select LeBron James, Jimmy Butler, Giannis Antetokounmpo, DeMar DeRozan, and Kyrie Irving as Eastern Conference starters for the Feb. 19 game.Here is the voting breakdown: East - Frontcourt Fan Rank Player Rank Media Rank Weighted Score LeBron James 1 1 1 1 Giannis Antetokounmpo 2 2 2 2 Jimmy Butler 5 3 3 4 Joel Embiid 3 8 5 4.75 Kevin…
  20. Curry-Harden backcourt headlines West All-Star starters

    Thescore.com - Basketball
    01.20 / 00:34 thescore.com
    The first year of collaborative All-Star voting is in the books, with NBA fans, players, and media members combining to select Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Anthony Davis, Stephen Curry, and James Harden as Western Conference starters for the Feb. 19 game.The bigger story, of course, is who isn't going to start for the West, as being the first player since Oscar Robertson to average a triple-double wasn't enough for Russell Westbrook to earn one of two guard spots.Westbrook, Curry, and…