Short Corner: Kevin Love’s incredible run, chaotic 76ers and more NBA observations
Welcome to the Short Corner: A celebration of the NBA in the pithiest form possible. Below are a collection of notebook-style items from the week that was, laid out for your buffet-style enjoyment.
• In four February games, Kevin Love attempted 65 free throws. That’s more than Andrew Bogut, Jose Calderon, Shawn Marion, Raymond Felton, Channing Frye, Boris Diaw, Iman Shumpert, and Terrence Ross have totaled over their entire seasons. For perspective: Each of those players has logged minutes in at least 48 games.
• With post-up play tougher to execute against modern NBA defenses, it’s hard to find teams that are fully committed to seeing a post possession through. Credit the Heat as one of the few that will, particularly when looking to set up LeBron James on the block against a smaller defender. James is smart enough to know when he needs a re-post, and his Miami teammates are focused enough on that action to go right back to him inside after re-establishing position.
• The chaos-courting Sixers have been the runaway leaders in pace all season long, but we now have a new challenger in the field. Over the last 20 games, the increasingly frenetic Nuggets have played those Sixers to within a single possession on average.
• Lost in a busy Wednesday night in the NBA: Blazers rookie C.J. McCollum had a six-point play.
• Working off the ball in the NBA is an exhausting enterprise, which is just part of why it’s so impressive that players like Wesley Matthews and J.J. Redick will sprint across the court to be the first to help up a fallen teammate.
• Let’s all just take a moment to reflect on the fact that for a beautiful and fleeting moment, Marreese Speights was untouchable.
• Every rookie is a work in progress, but I’m very much liking Tony Snell’s early work as a perimeter defender in Chicago. He needs to work on maneuvering around big, physical NBA screeners, but Snell is generally undaunted by tough assignments and doesn’t bite on fakes like other first-year players often do.
• DeAndre Jordan may not be as consistent defensively as the Clippers would like, but he absolutely makes opponents consider their moves more carefully around the basket. That doesn’t always translate into Jordan’s statistical bottom line, though it does occasionally give Blake Griffin a chance to sneak over for a quick strip.
• Shane Battier put the ball on the floor, sprung for the behind the back dribble, and converted a layup against one of the better defenders on a top-five defensive team. Mark your ‘Sign of the Apocalypse’ checklists accordingly:
• Hold up — Wolves guard Alexey Shved also beat Chandler Parsons in isolation to storm down the lane for a dunk, so I guess we’re just crawling closer and closer to our apocalyptic demise.
• Even knowing full well that Andre Iguodala is pushing through the pain and limitations of a hamstring injury, I can’t help but worry when he’s scoring and creating so little. He’s had a solid night here or there, but gone is the player who was doing so much damage with his counter-drives from the wing for the Warriors. That loss of dynamism hurts, particularly for a team that needs to balance out its dependence on Steph Curry.
• You do not know woe until you’ve seen a Rudy Gobert hook shot.
• Late-game offense in the NBA can be a bit stale at times, but Washington ran a clever bit of misdirection late in their near-win against the Rockets. After running a basic pick-and-roll for John Wall and Kevin Seraphin on the previous trip down the floor, Wizards coach Randy Wittman flipped the action to have Seraphin feign positioning for a similar play only to instead set a down screen for Bradley Beal.
• As far as big men leading the fast break go, Kenneth Faried is pretty fun. Not so fun he should give up his day job, but entertaining enough to amuse the NBA die-hards without costing his team points.
• Few defenders have much hope of slowing Goran Dragic these days, but I will say that Chicago’s Kirk Hinrich — for whatever reason — has an unusual lock on Dragic’s cadence. Guarding Dragic requires shifting into a completely different time signature than that of defending most other NBA guards, though Hinrich manages the shift well and manages to preempt some of Dragic’s more slippery maneuvers.