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HOOPSWORLD Week In Review
Posted By Kyle Cape-Lindelin On April 7, 2013 @ 5:00 am In Main Page,NBA | No Comments
John Wall’s Play Silences Critics
By Alex Kennedy
Last summer, John Wall spent countless hours improving his game. He spent a considerable amount of time in the gym working on his jump shot, floater and post-up game. When he wasn’t in the gym, Wall was watching film of elite point guards such Chris Paul, Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook to replicate aspects of their game. As the 22-year-old entered his third year in the NBA, he was anticipating a breakout season and a playoff berth for the Washington Wizards.
However, everything changed when Wall sustained a stress injury in his knee. With their best player sidelined, the Wizards started the season 0-12 and it quickly became clear that this wouldn’t be the year that Washington’s fortunes changed. Wall missed 33 games, more than three months of action, because it took three lubricating Synvisc injections before his knee responded. By the time Wall made his season debut on Jan. 12, the Wizards were 5-28.
The season was lost, but over the last three months Wall has been showing what could have been had he stayed healthy. Washington is 21-18 with Wall in the lineup, with impressive wins over playoff teams like the Atlanta Hawks, Denver Nuggets, Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Clippers, New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets, Milwaukee Bucks, Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Lakers and Memphis Grizzlies.
Wall has been sensational in the month of March, averaging 22.4 points, 7.9 assists, 4.8 rebounds and 1.9 steals. For the first time in his career, his jump shot is falling consistently, which opens up the rest of his game. This month, he’s shooting 48.5 percent from the field and 47.4 percent from three-point range. He had a career-high 16 assists against the Lakers and, just three nights later, had a career-high 47 points against the Grizzlies. Wall attributes his recent success to finally being healthy, but finding his jumper also has a lot to do with this impressive stretch.
The Unsung Hero of 2013 Free Agency?
By Bill Ingram
When the curtain goes up on the NBA’s 2013 free agency period, most of the fervor and focus will be on Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard, Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul and Atlanta Hawks forward Josh Smith. Perhaps a bit lost in the shuffle is the one player who may have had the most profound impact on his current team.
Indiana Pacers All-Star power forward David West keeps his name out of the headlines, for the most part, but when it comes to putting in the work and pushing his team to new heights, it’s hard to quantify just how valuable West has been for Indiana.
“I don’t think you could give him enough credit for what he’s done for our team and our culture,” head coach Frank Vogel told HOOPSWORLD. “He’s the lion in the locker room, our heart and soul, and he gives us the swagger of knowing that we’re playing with one of the best in the game at the power forward position. He has great toughness, he’s our defensive quarterback and he’s our primary offensive guy down the stretch. I don’t think you can put in enough words to describe what he means to our team.”
Efficient J.R. Smith Leads Streaking Knicks
By Tommy Beer
Prior to the New York Knicks’ victory over the Boston Celtics on Sunday night, which ran New York’s winning streak to eight straight, head coach Mike Woodson was asked about J.R. Smith’s recent turnaround and improved play. Woodson smiled and quipped, “I’ve been screaming at him a lot about trying to get to the free throw line and mixing his game up, he’s finally turned the corner.”
Jokes aside, the recent offensive aggressiveness and dramatic improvement from Smith has been startling, and incredibly impressive. The Knicks’ enigmatic sixth man had shown flashes of brilliance at times earlier this season, but he’d also been plagued by bouts of maddening inconsistency. This roller-coaster ride was fully expected due to the fact that Smith has been so heavily reliant on three-point attempts and contested step-back jumpers throughout his nine-year NBA career.
However, over the last three weeks, Smith has been consistently aggressive. He’s relentlessly attacking the basket rather than settling for perimeter jumpers.
The Psychology and Neuroscience of Choking
By Travis Heath
An NBA player is fouled shooting a three-point shot as the buzzer sounds with his team trailing the game by three points. He heads to the foul line needing to make all three free throws to send the game to overtime and give his team an opportunity to win. A hush comes over the hometown faithful as the player steps to the charity stripe.
Imagine yourself in the shoes of the player described above. What thoughts might begin running through your mind?
“What if I miss?”
“I don’t want to let my team down.”
“This is my chance to be the hero.”
Above are just a few examples of what a player might think in this type of situation, even though they’ll rarely admit it. They know their role as social actor in this scenario and step to the line as if it is just another shot. The only problem is the brain doesn’t necessarily respond as if it is.
Where Do The Kings Go From Here?
By Steve Kyler
Sometimes when faced with two tough choices, you hope that one choice will make itself more attractive than the other. You hope that the details, once laid out, will make one option just a little more appealing than the other.
That was the case yesterday in New York as the NBA’s Relocation and Finance Committee heard proposals from both a Seattle-based group that has a binding letter of agreement to purchase the majority share of the Sacramento Kings from the Maloof family, and an insurgent counter-proposal spearheaded by Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson with the intention of keeping the Kings in Sacramento.
Both groups explained their situations to the eight assembled owners (chairman of board Peter Holt, Glenn Taylor, Clay Bennett, Jim Dolan, Ted Leonsis, Larry Tanenbaum, Herb Simon and Wyc Grousbeck) and several league representatives. The groups outlined their new arena plans, outlined the structure of their respective ownership groups. They walked the committees through the sales and revenue projections both groups have and answered mountains of questions about the details of their plans.
While the Sacramento group clearly won the day with the media, joking, laughing and having fun with the gathered press, the Seattle group was far more reserved and stoic; they were almost guarded in their answers, but the truth of the matter is while Sacramento’s Group certainly exuded confidence publicly, it was clear when NBA Commissioner David Stern addressed the media that no one separated themselves in the room and that there were far more questions surrounding the future of the Sacramento Kings than answers.
Huge Blow To Nuggets’ Title Hopes
By Lang Greene
The MRI is set for Friday morning, but there are those within the Denver Nuggets organization who are already preparing for the worst possible outcome after the team’s second leading scorer, Danilo Gallinari, suffered a left knee injury in Thursday’s win over the Dallas Mavericks.
Gallinari, who averaged 16.3 points per game this season, had his knee buckle during the second quarter of the contest while driving past Mavs forward Dirk Nowitzki into lane for a layup. Gallinari hobbled a bit in pain and then sat on the baseline grasping at the knee in obvious discomfort. Most fear Gallinari suffered a torn ACL.
Can Warriors Match Nuggets’ Intensity?
By Yannis Koutroupis
The Denver Nuggets and Golden State Warriors, two of the Western Conference dark horses, are slated to potentially face each other in the three vs. six match up in the first round of the 2013 NBA Playoffs.
This series is not locked in yet as both the Warriors and Nuggets could move in the standings a bit over the final seven games of the season. The sixth place Warriors only have a game on the seventh place Houston Rockets, while the third place Nuggets have the Los Angeles Clippers a game and a half behind them. Both teams could potentially move down a seed, but they cannot move up as the teams ahead of them have an insurmountable lead at this point of the season.
If this match-up does come to fruition, it would put two of the league’s highest scoring teams against each other and create a likely shootout. They faced off four times in the regular season and, in those four contests, a total of 833 points were scored.
The Nuggets won the regular season series 3-1, but three of the games were back in November. Both teams have changed a lot since then, which we take into account as we preview this potential first-round series.
Don’t Forget About The Boston Celtics
By Stephen Brotherston
Despite the injuries and the flip-flopping between extended winning and losing streaks, the Boston Celtics clinched yet another postseason berth this past week. This veteran-laden group didn’t implode as expected when All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo was lost for the season at the end of January and all that remains to be determined is which lucky top-two team gets the unenviable task of facing the Celtics in the first round of the NBA playoffs.
Three games below .500 when Rondo was injured, the Celtics rallied for a seven-game winning streak that put them back in the playoff picture to stay. That rally was kicked off with a double-overtime victory at home against their newest rival, the Miami HEAT. The Celtics have every reason to step up their game when the boys from South Beach arrive in Boston and the mere possibility of facing the HEAT in this year’s playoffs is all the motivation that should be required to keep this group going.
However, beyond rallying behind a fallen comrade and the afterglow of defeating a rival while shorthanded, the loss of Rondo provided others an opportunity to showcase their value. The Celtics were deep in guards this season. There simply weren’t enough minutes for veterans Jason Terry, Courtney Lee and Leandro Barbosa to show what they could do and the return of defensive specialist Avery Bradley in January only deepened the logjam. That logjam was blown up after Rondo was injured and Barbosa was lost for the season soon after. Maybe it shouldn’t have been a surprise that Terry, Lee and Bradley rose to the occasion in February; the Celtics had no lack of depth or talent at guard.
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