You are here: Home / Archive

Author Archives: Lindsay Dunn

You are here: Home / Archive
NBA Houston Rockets James Harden and Oklahoma City Thunder Russell Westbrook

Harden Or Westbrook Cause Co-MVP Is A Cop Out

By Lindsay Dunn

In NBA history there has never been co-MVPs and the Houston Rockets James Harden and Oklahoma City Thunder Russell Westbrook shouldn’t be the first.

Almost a year to the date of his last NBA game Kobe Bryant is making headlines again. When asked about the current MVP race in the NBA Bryant said, “We might see our first co-MVPs this year.”

Or not. Maybe we should start handing out “Participation Awards” too! Co-MVP is a cop out.

This isn’t a conversation that just started this year because the ‘Black Mamba’ said it on ESPN Sunday. This is a conversation that has been going on for years. In 2015 it was debated that James Harden and Steph Curry should get co-MVP honours. In 2010 fans argued that Dwyane Wade and LeBron James should share the award. It’s not a new conversation and it’s not a debate that will end this year.

Co-MVP’s are not new in the professional sports world either. In 2004 Peyton Manning and Steve McNair shared the Associated Press NFL Most Valuable Player award. Both of their teams finished with the same record and each player individually had impressive seasons. Three times in NFL history there has been a tie for MVP.

It’s not unheard of for an NBA award to go to two athletes either. The Rookie of the Year Award has been shared more than once. In 1995 a baby faced Grant Hill and Jason Kidd shared the trophy. In 2000 Elton Brand and Steve Francis shared the award and in 1971 Dave Cowens and Geoff Petrie split the honors.

However, that was for the easily bruised egos of some rookies. This year it’s two former veteran teammates seeing their names being thrown back and forth for the big prize. They know the game and can live with the results.

“I just play, man,” Westbrook told the Houston Chronicle when asked about the MVP race. “I go out and play every night and play at a high level like I do every single night and try to help us win. I’ve been knowing James since he was little, and we both grew up in California. Being here, it’s a blessing to be able to have people you grow up with in the NBA. It’s something you don’t take for granted and friendships are something I don’t take for granted. James is a good friend of mine, and I am a good friend of his. Obviously, I know he’s playing well and his team is doing well, but I know he competes every game.”

Here is a look at their numbers after 73 games played:

FG%: Westbrook 42.3%, Harden 44.8%
3PT%: Westbrook 33.4%, Harden 35.2%
FT%: Westbrook 84%, Harden 84.8%
REB: Westbrook 10.5, Harden 8.0
AST: Westbrook 10.4, Harden 11.3
TO: Westbrook 5.3, Harden 5.8
PTS: Westbrook 31.4, Harden 29.4
Triple Doubles: Westbrook 37, Harden 19

Westbrook (#1 overall) and Harden (#2 overall) are one-two in the NBA scoring race and an off the charts triple-double feast. Harden leads the NBA in assists with Westbrook in third. The are also both also destroying the NBA turnover records (oops). Harden leading the charge with 428, Westbrook trailing with 392. The next careless leader this year is John Wall, almost 100 turnovers behind Westbrook with 296. Harden overtaking George McGinnis’ 1974-75 single season ABA record of 422 turnovers.

A big difference in the two players claim on the MVP title is their team’s overall performance. Harden has helped the third place Rockets to 51 wins so far while Westbrook’s sixth place Thunder lags far behind with 42 wins.

There are clear differences in each player’s game, leadership and team, so it shouldn’t be any more difficult than in past seasons to pick a winner.

With Westbrook and Harden dominating the headlines on an almost daily basis with highlight reel worthy performances, it’s easy to forget that at 32-years-old LeBron James may be having the best statistical season of his career. Kawhi Leonard is enjoying an outstanding season offensively and defensively on a much better team. Then, least we forget, 2015 and 2016 MVP Stephen Curry and the Warriors, they own the Thunder and Rockets.

There are no rules for this award and the case for sharing it isn’t any more compelling than it has been in the past. This isn’t “Little League”, there is only room for one MVP.

 

 

Lindsay DunnLindsay Dunn has been a TV sports and entertainment reporter for the past decade. She is currently based in Toronto and covers the local scene including the Toronto Raptors and Raptors 905. Follow her on Twitter @LindsayDunnTV

 

 

 

NBA Phoenix Suns Devin Booker

The Spotlight Is On The Suns Devin Booker (Again)

By Lindsay Dunn

Devin Booker. That is a name you are going to hear a lot about, not only in the next few days, but years to come. The spotlight is on the 20-year-old guard for the Phoenix Suns as he made history on Friday night taking his game to the next level.

Booker scored 70 points against the Boston Celtics. At first glance you may think that was a typing error, but it’s a fact. In 44 minutes he scored 70 points. He shot 21 of 40 from the field, 4 of 11 from beyond the arc and a solid 24 of 26 from the free-throw line.

“I’ve played with some great shooters,” Suns head coach Earl Watson said. “Ray Allen, Kevin Durant. (Devin Booker) has amazing potential. His stroke is textbook.”

The 2015 13th overall draft pick is the sixth player in NBA history to score 70 or more points in a loss. “I got in zone, I got hot,” Booker said post-game. “I knew I was going to have to lock-in and my teammates kept finding me. When I hit 50 they just kept feeding me it.”

The last player to score 65 or more was Kobe Bryant who poured in 81 against the Raptors in 2006. That was 11 years ago and Bryant was 28 at the time. On Friday night Booker also broke a few Suns franchise records. He is now in first for having the highest-scoring game in franchise history and his 51 points in the second half is also a Suns record for points in a half.

While Booker went 21 of 40 from the field (52.5 percent), the rest of the Suns went 18 of 46 (39.1). Only two other players scored in double figures: Alex Len (11 points) and Leandro Barbosa (11 points).

The former Kentucky Wildcat became a household name for non NBA fans when he took part in the All-Star Game last season and when rapper Drake posted photos of him on his Instagram and wore his jersey on stage.

“I first met Drake in college at Big Blue Madness,” Booker explained. “I know Drake and Coach Cal (John Calipari) are good friends and that was the year that Drake air-balled the three pointer in the layup line. Whenever I see him I always get on him about that.”

During the 2016 All-Star Weekend the rookie at the time went head-to-head against the ‘Splash Brothers’ in the 3-point competition. Curry and Thompson beat Booker, but it helped make him a household name.

“Coming into the beginning of the season I realized people know who I am now,” Booker told Pro Bball Report when the Suns visited Toronto. “Last year people didn’t know who I was so I was getting a lot of open looks, clean looks but this year has been different. They are putting a lot of good defenders on me so I have to take it to the next level. It’s more mental than anything. It took me a little to get used to it.”

This season he became the youngest player in NBA history to record back-to-back games with at least 39 points. He leads the NBA with game-winning shots leaving no time remaining this season. His big night has moved him up to 26th on the NBA leaderboard for scoring.

‘There are beauty points, but it’s been a long season, my teammates keep pushing me, my coaches keep pushing me. We are working together to get wins. I feel like we are making the turn around and that playoff push that we have been trying to make.”

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Booker is the only player in the NBA this season with multiple quarters scoring at least 27 points and is the first player to do so multiple times in a season since Stephen Curry had two 28-point quarters in 2015-16.

As of March 24th Booker has the highest-scoring game of the season, passing Klay Thompson who put up 60 against the Indiana Pacers in October.

Already taking his game to the next level before his big night, Booker leads the 14th place Suns with 21.6 points per game in just his second NBA season. The spotlight is on Booker to stay.

 

 

Lindsay DunnLindsay Dunn has been a TV sports and entertainment reporter for the past decade. She is currently based in Toronto and covers the local scene including the Toronto Raptors and Raptors 905. Follow her on Twitter @LindsayDunnTV

 

 
 

NBA Toronto Raptors Serge Ibaka

Not Rocky, Serge Ibaka Should Keep His Day Job

It wasn’t quite the ‘The Malice at the Palace,’ but the altercation between Toronto Raptors Serge Ibaka and Chicago Bulls Robin Lopez will be talked about for weeks to come. Although, just maybe, as fighters, Serge and Robin should hang onto their day jobs.

On Tuesday night the Raptors were looking to break an 11 game losing streak against the Bulls and until the 3rd quarter it looked like they were going to make it 12 in a row.

Jimmy Butler hit a three-pointer with just under four minutes left in the third quarter and Ibaka collected the ball. This is when things got heated between the two. Ibaka apparently hit Lopez with an elbow beneath the basket which Lopez was not a fan of and slammed the ball out of Ibaka’s hands. The ol’ one -two punch ensued which resulted in both players being ejected. After the players separated Raptors assistant coach Jamaal Magloire and Bulls forward Nikola Mirotic ‘got into it’ resulting in technicals for both teams.

The NBA announced on Wednesday that both Lopez and Ibaka would get one game suspensions without pay for throwing punches at one another. Magloire was fined a cool $15,000 for pushing Mirotic.

“What happened is we were playing physical basketball and he got frustrated,” said Ibaka postgame. “That thing happened where you just start pushing each other, like always happens when there’s contact, and then he throws a punch. You know, like a man, I had to defend myself. I’m not just going to be out there and watch a man like him punch me and just walk away. I had to defend myself. So that’s what happened.”

As for Lopez’ take, “Things got heated, we exchanged a few words and it kind of went from there. I’m not too surprised that it escalated. It happens sometimes.”

The exchange of punches itself looked more like a fight out of the WWE where they try and make it look like they hit the other wrestler but completely miss. The fight did cause an uproar in the Air Canada Centre. Anyone that could stand in the stadium was standing and were chanting, ‘Let’s Go Raptors.’

“If something like that doesn’t get your energy going and your competitive spirit going than I don’t know what will,” Fred VanVleet said after the game.

Cory Joseph echoed a similar feeling, “It gave us energy. Obviously we didn’t want Serge to fight, but it gave us that spark we needed.”

The fight not only got fans involved, but the team as well. Prior to the fight the Raptors were trailing the entire game, then late into the fourth quarter they went on a 15-0 run and took the game to OT where Toronto sealed the win 122-120.

“It got us going,” DeMar DeRozan said post game. “The crowd got into it, our fans love things like that, especially with it being a hockey city.”

In the locker room the players were talking about the fight just as much as the fans. When Ibaka was giving his postgame scrum Lucas Nogiera yelled, ‘What’s up Mike Tyson.’ A few moments later when DeMar DeRozan was giving his postgame interview you can hear Jonas Valanciunas yelling, ‘Way to fight Serge!’

If anybody was wondering who Robin’s brother and fellow NBA player Brook Lopez was rooting for, it may surprise you, “Maybe we’ll get a grudge match, who knows? I’m pulling for Ibaka, though.”

However, these players should stick to their day jobs. They would make horrible boxers.

“I don’t think that Serge Ibaka has a malicious bone in his body. He’s a competitor, so is Lopez,” Raptors head coach Dwane Casey said. “I don’t think either one of them will go down as ‘Rocky’ or anything like that.”

Fans in a hockey city may be surprised that a “fight” worthy of two minutes for roughing on the ice will result in Ibaka sitting out on Thursday night when the Raptors play the Heat in Miami as he serves a one game suspension. Lopez serves his “fighting” suspension when the Bulls host the Detroit Pistons at United Center.

 

 

Lindsay DunnLindsay Dunn has been a TV sports and entertainment reporter for the past decade. She is currently based in Toronto and covers the local scene including the Toronto Raptors and Raptors 905. Follow her on Twitter @LindsayDunnTV

 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors team

Team Meeting Turns On The Raptors Defense In Detriot

By Lindsay Dunn

What a difference a day makes. After giving up a 123 points in a loss to the Thunder at home, the Raptors rolled into Detroit and held the Pistons to just 75 points for the 12 point win. Now that’s how it was envisioned Toronto would play after acquiring PJ Tucker and Serge Ibaka at the trade deadline. Stifling defense that held the Pistons to just 9 fourth quarter points.

The Toronto Raptors have been terrible in back-to-back sets this season as they headed into Detroit for the back-half of their most recent set after getting embarrassed by the Thunder the night before. An 8-8 record in the front half of back-to-backs had been followed by 6-9 the next night as Toronto has been blitzed for over 120 points in these sets seven times this season. After Thursday’s game head coach Dwane Casey felt the need to apologize and the players had a team meeting to hash out their feelings.

“I want to apologize to our fans to everybody tonight about the way we played tonight,” uttered coach Casey after the loss to the Thunder on Thursday night.

The final score flattered Toronto as at one point the Raptors were down by as much as 32 points.

“We had a chat,” a politically correct DeMar DeRozan said postgame. “It’s a simple as that. We expressed to one another our thoughts and that is that.”

Coach Casey wasn’t as reserved with his words. “That exhibition of basketball was unacceptable. The effort, the competitive spirit wasn’t there. That team came out and played like it was a championship game. We played like it was a mid season game and again it is not acceptable.”

The Raptors shot poorly as a team, but it was allowing Mr. Triple-Double Russell Westbrook freewheel his way to his 34th of the season with 24 points, 10 rebounds and 16 assists that really hurt.

One of the few highlights of the game involved a Raptor, but wasn’t a highlight many Raptors fans would like to watch again. Westbrook made a half-court pass that went through Cory Joseph’s legs and connected with Victor Oladipo who put it in the basketball with a layup. “I just saw him and Taj running,” Westbrook told Pro Bball Report. “ I saw them running all night and I passed the ball and it got through some traffic.”

A hard-nosed defensive specialist, Tucker has quickly become a vocal leader on the Raptors and he didn’t hold back his feelings after the game.

‘We can’t have efforts like this,” Tucker said. “It’s not about making shots it’s about us having competitive spirit and playing all these games like playoff games.”

“A lot of people talked,” Tucker said about the players only meeting. “It was a good conversation. Enough talking though. We have 14 games left it’s time to put it to action. It’s time for guys to go out and show that we care and that we care about each other and we want to do something special here. We have the team to do it.”

The Raptors offense was missing-in-action to start the game in Detroit, but the Toronto’s much maligned of late starting unit wasn’t about to let this game get away. The Pistons were held to just one field goal for almost six minutes to start the game and only 13 points in the first quarter.

Tucker has been preaching defense since his arrival in Toronto and he’s been in the ear of Raptors All-Star DeMar DeRozan. It must be working too. DeRozan may have played his best defensive game (ever?) in the win over Detroit.

“I talk too much,” Tucker had explained soon after coming to Toronto. “Defense is half talking. Serge (Ibaka) talks, DeMarre (Carroll) talks, DeMar doesn’t talk as much, but I got him talking a little bit. I think the more (DeMar) starts talking on defense too, we’ll be even better. Once he gets comfortable with it.”

DeRozan was looking pretty intense on defense in Detroit and it’s doubtful if Tucker really cares if it was comfortable. All Tucker cares about is the win.

 

 

Lindsay DunnLindsay Dunn has been a TV sports and entertainment reporter for the past decade. She is currently based in Toronto and covers the local scene including the Toronto Raptors and Raptors 905. Follow her on Twitter @LindsayDunnTV

 

 

 

NBA Dallas Mavericks Dirk Nowitzki

Mavs Dirk Nowitzki Gets A Potato For 30,000 Points

By Lindsay Dunn

30,078 and counting. That is the total points Dirk Nowitzki has in his long career with the Mavs so far and he has the potato to prove it. He hit the 30-thousand point milestone on March 7th against the struggling Los Angeles Lakers. “I’ve got great support from everyone,” Nowitzki told Pro Bball Report. “Whether it’s on twitter from Kobe, Magic, LeBron or (Dwyane) Wade, it’s been really great. I’m blessed, but for me it’s over now. We are trying to fight for the playoffs.”

On Monday night Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks lost to the Raptors 100-78. The Mavs were held to just 12 points in the 4th quarter and were out played off the glass by over 20 rebounds.

“With a young team there are going to be some ups and downs,” Nowitzki said. “There are going to be some mistakes but you have to learn from them and get better.” And that they did. The Mavs had 36 points in the 4th against Washington Wednesday night and only had one less rebound than the Wizards.

Nowitzki has made it clear that he hopes to play his 20th and possibly his final season in the NBA with the Mavericks. But when asked about the road he has paved for other European players the ever talkative and jovial player shied away from the praise. “I just compete and I play my game. You know there were guys before me that paved the way for me. There were plenty of Europeans before me to play the game. If I have helped pave the wave for a couple of these guys now, that’s awesome.”

The 38-year-old who recently got a potato in the mail from a fan congratulating him on his 30-thousand-point milestone has not only watched how his game has improved but how the league in general has developed. “The sport has grown all over the world, not just in Europe but in China, Africa, Australia as well. I mean, it’s a global league now and it’s been fun to watch it grow over the last 20 years.”

If the 7ft forward retires after 20 seasons he would be in good company. He would tie the recently retired Kobe Bryant for seasons spent with a single franchise. “Everything will be unbelievable to me after my career is over. Something I will look back at with pride, but for now I just keep plugging.”

 

 

 

Lindsay DunnLindsay Dunn has been a TV sports and entertainment reporter for the past decade. She is currently based in Toronto and covers the local scene including the Toronto Raptors and Raptors 905. Follow her on Twitter@LindsayDunnTV

 

 

 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors Lucas Bebe Nogueira summer camp 2016

Raptors Lucas Nogueira Bigger Than Normal Summer

By Lindsay Dunn

This past summer Toronto Raptors bet on the progress of center Lucas ‘Bebe’ Nogueira when they didn’t add a veteran seven-footer to offset the loss of Bismack Biyombo to free agency. However, Bebe should be forgiven if he had even bigger things on his mind recently. He said “I do”, not to a new Raptors contract, but to a new partner in life, wife Caroline Kuczynski.

NBA Toronto Raptors Lucas Nogueira and wife

“It’s great!,” Nogueira said. “I have got to work to make my own history with her. It is work, but I have to be positive about the future.”

Before Bebe walked down the aisle he received some words of wisdom from his fellow Raptors.

Lucas Nogueira with Biyombo and Caboclo and a Rolls 2016

“I got advice from Coach Casey and Valanciunas, the married guys on the team. They gave me some advice, but every marriage has a different story and a different situation.”

Nogueira recently held his first basketball camp in Pickering that was put on by none other than his fellow teammate Cory Joseph’s Dad David Joseph. Nogueira was joined by his fellow teammate and fellow Brazilian Bruno Caboclo.

Lucas Nogueira and Bruno Caboclo at kids camp 2016

 

“Lucas and I are from the same country,” Caboclo said about his friendship with Nogueira. “He has helped me a lot and I have helped him, it’s just amazing we are on the same team. I am so happy.”

Caboclo was just one of Nogueira’s teammates that were in Toronto for his nuptials. Former Raptors player Bismack Biyombo, who captivated the attention of thousands of Raptors fans this past season, was also there for his wedding day.

Bismack was just one of several changes the Raptors made this offseason. Changes that have not went unnoticed by the newlywed.

“I recognize how much the Raptors trust me and have invested in me this summer because they didn’t get anybody in my position,” Nogueira said about the offseason changes. “I have been working the entire summer for the next season. I never create expectation, especially in the NBA it is a tough business, you never know what is going to happen tomorrow.”

Nogueira’s buddy Caboclo also has big hopes for the next season. “I hope I get more playing time,” Caboclo said after helping Nogueira at his basketball camp. “I am going to do my best to help the team next season and go further than last year. To help them make the finals and then get a championship next year.”

Those are high hopes for the 20-year-old Caboclo, but they are words many Raptors fans would love to hear, “Raptors, NBA Champions.”

 

 

Lindsay DunnLindsay Dunn has been a TV sports and entertainment reporter for the past decade. She is currently based in Toronto and covers the local scene including the Toronto Raptors and Raptors 905. Follow her on Twitter@LindsayDunnTV

 

 

 


 

NBA Oklahoma City Thunder Nazr Mohammed

The Other NBA Farewell Tour You Should Notice

By Lindsay Dunn

Fans and media have been fixated on the Lakers Kobe Bryant farewell tour this year and unfortunately it has almost totally eclipsed the pending retirement of another long time NBA veteran. The farewell tour of 38-year-old center Nazr Mohammed.

1004 regular season games plus 83 playoff games and still counting, Mohammed is a two-time NCAA Champion, an NBA Champion and has played 18 seasons with seven different teams in the NBA. Those are the numbers that follow current Oklahoma City Thunder player Nazr Mohammed as his final NBA season winds down.

In October it was announced that Mohammed had finally retired from the game, but fast forward five months later and the Thunder brought Mohammed out from retirement and signed him for the remainder of the season. In his final few months in the league he is seeing limited minutes on the court on a team led by 2016 All-Stars Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant, but that hasn’t stopped him from the grind and love of the game.

“I’m just focused and dedicated to whatever a team wants me to do and needs me to do and I just try to stay ready,” Mohammed confirmed when the Thunder visited Toronto.

He was the final pick of the first round of draft in 1998. A draft class that includes Vince Carter, Paul Pierce and Dirk Nowitzki. The big man still remembers wearing his navy blue suit when the Utah Jazz selected the NCAA champion 29th overall for their roster.

“I still have my draft day suit and I can still fit it,” Mohammed said with laugh in front of his locker. “It was nice and baggy and it had pleats in the pants. I haven’t worn a suit with pleats in my pants for a very long time.”

Nazr is known for his work on the NBA court and for bleeding Kentucky Blue. He won two championships with the Kentucky Wildcats in 1996 and 1998. If you follow him on social media or talk to him about the university you might think he may transition into a role with his alma mater, but don’t put your money on it, coaching isn’t in his future.

“You won’t see me coaching,” Mohammed said. “That takes a lot of patience. I think my wife has had enough patience for me paying 18 years, so I don’t see her having much more patience having me coach.”

In a career that has lasted more than triple the NBA average, the 2005 Championship with the San Antonio Spurs is one of his top highlights.

“I have so many favorite moments,” Mohammed reminisced. “I was fortunate to win a championship and get to play with so many great players. I’ve been really fortunate in the career that I have been given.”

While the NBA championship may go down as one of his favorite moments, there are hundreds of memorable moments from a career that spans thousands of minutes on the hardwood. From his infamous throw down, literal throw down of LeBron James in 2013 when he was playing with the Chicago Bulls, to his tussle with the ultimate trash talker Kevin Garnett in 2009, the devoted NBA fan will miss his presence.

 

Lindsay DunnLindsay Dunn has been a TV sports and entertainment reporter for the past decade. She is currently based in Toronto and covers the local scene including the Toronto Raptors and Raptors 905. Follow her on Twitter @LindsayDunnTV