Damian Lillard safely spots up. (Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports)
A look around the league and the Web that covers it. It's also important to note that the rotation order and starting nods aren't always listed in order of importance. That's for you, dear reader, to figure out.
C: New York Times. Scott Cacciola talks with rising star Damian Lillard of the white-hot Portland Trail Blazers about honing your shooting touch so you don't need to take such a beating at the tin ... which, considering recent events, might be sounding like a pretty good idea to point guards around the NBA these days. Lillard's still having trouble finishing inside this season, shooting just under 43 percent within the restricted area, but he's more than making up for it with marks of nearly 42 percent from midrange and 39 percent from 3-point land ... although, if you're going to make it this easy for him, New York Knicks, he'll gladly take it to the rim.
PF: Blazersedge. Speaking of those Blazers, Dane Carbaugh breaks down how Terry Stotts and his coaching staff have changed the tablet-loving Portland's pick-and-roll coverage from last year, and how it (along with some personnel changes) has helped them rise up to a tie for 12th in the league in defensive efficiency thus far after finishing 26th a season ago.
SF: Blog-a-Bull. And speaking of those "recent events," Matt takes a deep breath, swallows hard, grits his teeth and begins considering what a post-Derrick Rose-injury accelerated roster rebuild might look like for the Chicago Bulls.
SG: Bloomberg, Silver Screen and Roll, ESPN Los Angeles and The Hook. Tuesday highlights in Kobe's contract reaction coverage: Jonathan Mahler on how the deal, and the likelihood that the Lakers won't be title-competitive as a result of it, proves that the salary cap makes the NBA less competitive. C.A. Clark on how the deal is simultaneously a bad basketball decision, a good business decision, a total repudiation of everything the Lakers have done over the past few years and a bracing intimation that L.A. doesn't actually have a plan. Ramona Shelburne on how the extension represented "a franchise that's worth at least $1 billion, with a $5 billion TV contract and $5,000 courtside seats" realizing it had better double-down on its one truly bankable commodity, winning be damned. Tom Ziller on how, realistically, this changes nothing: "Kobe was done winning championships as a featured star no matter what happened. This extension just marks the path the end of his career will take."
PG: Cowbell Kingdom and A Wolf Among Wolves. Now that the deal's done, people who blog about the Sacramento Kings and Minnesota Timberwolves try to figure out how Derrick Williams and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute will fit into their respective new homes.
6th: Truth About It and TrueHoop. Good reads on specific elements of John Wall's jumper that need improvement and the overall step up he needs to take for a Washington Wizards team heavy on veterans but dependent on young stars to compete, even in a down Eastern Conference. (Wall's task got even tougher Tuesday, when Washington announced that leading scorer Bradley Beal will miss at least two weeks with a stress reaction in his right fibula.)
7th: CoachSpo.com. Great work from Couper Moorhead, who writes for the Miami Heat's website, in getting Erik Spoelstra to work through tape of possessions that show just how far Miami's players and offensive system have come in advancing to the point where they're almost always working to get their top guns, especially LeBron James, the closest possible catches to the basket, whether in transition or in the half-court. In a very related story, this StatCenter chart of the scoring efficiency of the game's highest-usage players show the fruits of that labor — LeBron is third in the league in true shooting percentage despite finishing nearly 30 percent of Miami's possessions with a field-goal attempt, free throw or turnover. As I briefly mentioned Tuesday morning, he's making good on his seemingly ludicrous promise to improve over the last two years, which is scary. (Unless, I suppose, you're the Indiana Pacers, who seem pretty ready for war as they stomp their way to 13-1 behind an also-getting-even-better Paul George.)
8th: Posting and Toasting. In recapping another dispiriting Knicks loss, this time at the hands of the Portland Trail Blazers, Seth Rosenthal compares New York's beyond-leaky, help-devoid, 28th-ranked defense to roommates engaging in a cold war over chores: "It's mostly just negligence and laziness, but at a certain point, it begins to resemble spite. Like these roommates have a bone to pick with each other and if YOU'RE not doing the dishes then NO ONE'S doing the dishes. This is a mess."
9th: The Brooklyn Game. Devin Kharpertian talks with little-used Mirza Teletovic about the end-of-the-bench player's paradox — you need more playing time to find the rhythm that allows you to play better, but you have to play better to earn playing time — and how the second-year man's inability to solve it has him floundering outside the rotation of Jason Kidd's "clearing [their] throat to the point of gagging" Brooklyn Nets.
10th: Beyond the Arc. If you're going to recap a game in haiku format, it's a good idea to write ones this punchy: "The all bench lineup / A burning pile of garbage / Minus forty-six."
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- Sports & Recreation
- Portland Trail Blazers
- Damian Lillard