By Zack Geoghegan on ©January 18th, 2019 @ 8:00pm
Former Kentucky and current New York Knicks center Enes Kanter did not travel with his teammates as they embarked to London in the NBA’s first game of the season in England.
The Knicks lost, 101-100, to the Washington Wizards on a game-winning shot that was ruled a goaltend, but it was Kanter’s reasoning for remaining back home in the United States that rightfully stole the headlines.
In a sit-down interview with BBC, Kanter explains his situation with the Turkish government, Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and why he stayed in America out of fear rather than because of travel issues.
The full article can be found here, but Kanter posted the interview in two parts to his Twitter account.
Part 1; pic.twitter.com/AGLJv6rtnk
— Enes Kanter (@Enes_Kanter) January 18, 2019
Part 2; pic.twitter.com/lYVC08ZvpF
— Enes Kanter (@Enes_Kanter) January 18, 2019
Here are some of the more chilling quotes from Kanter from the interview.
“If I step outside of America I’m not feeling safe. I don’t feel safe.”
“If I step in Turkey, you probably won’t hear a word from me ever again…. I don’t know what would they [Erdogan supporters] do, but I know it will be very ugly”
Those are some frightening quotes. Kanter won’t be able to obtain American citizenship until 2021 and said he doesn’t plan on leaving the country until he is a full United States citizen. If the NBA continues to expand their reach outside of the United States and into countries across Europe, this could be a reoccurring problem for the Switzerland native.
By Zack Geoghegan on ©January 18th, 2019 @ 7:00pm
Former Kentucky and current Golden State Warriors center DeMarcus Cousin is set to make his team debut tonight against the Los Angeles Clippers at 10:30 p.m. on ESPN.
Cousins has not played in an NBA game since tearing his Achilles tendon late last January and after nearly a full year of recovery and controversy, Boogie is ready to take the big stage yet again.
So what should we expect from Boogie’s first game back? Will he play more than 15 minutes? What lineups will head coach Steve Kerr slot him into? Is he going to bust out for a 40-point triple-double?
The correct answer is I have absolutely zero ideas, but let’s speculate anyway because I’m so so excited to watch Cousins play basketball again that I might cry.
So let’s start with the most glaring question. How will Cousins – a six-time All-Star who is often the man with the ball in hands – handle playing second, third, fourth, or even fifth fiddle to one of the most talented collections of players in NBA history?
It’s no secret that Cousins is a bit of a hot-head. I think even he would openly admit that at this point. From what I can tell from him and on social media, he’s bonded with fellow Warriors teammate and another notorious trouble-maker, Draymond Green. While that relationship off the court might be a match made in heaven, I’m skeptical that they can work together on the court. They counter each other’s strengths and weaknesses well, however. Draymond is the playmaking, defensive-minded – yet undersized – power forward while Cousins can dominate on offense from every area of the court. In strictly basketball terms, they should theoretically mesh well on the court, but in terms of their personalities and passion, we might see some colorfully worded arguments during games.
But it’s not like the Warriors aren’t used to that at this point. Kevin Durant and Green had some public beef the other month and that seems like news from seasons ago. Golden State’s front office didn’t sign Boogie to a one-year, $5.3 million steal of a contract hoping that he would come in and balance out the chemistry. They signed him because they had the power to do so and didn’t have to worry about working out the specifics of how they’ll integrate him until now. So any potential beef between Cousins and his new teammates is something that was surely expected. Now it’s just a matter of when (or if) it happens and how every side will deal with it.
Aside from Green – and sometimes the insecure Durant – the Warriors don’t really have any other players that might clash with Cousins. Now, in terms of how he’ll work playing alongside Curry, Durant, and Klay Thompson, that’s where things get a bit foggier. During his time in New Orleans, Cousins had Anthony Davis by his side and those two acted as twin towers on wheels, forcing opponents to stretch open the floor entirely and pick their poison of who they prefer to double-team. In Golden State, that’s going to be even more exaggerated. You can’t double Cousins with Curry and Thompson roaming the perimeter, that’s asking for death. Cousins is an incredibly competent playmaker for his size. Even if Cousins doesn’t come back at 100 percent, he should still be a viable force in the paint and whenever he decides to step out for a three. His reputation alone will attract defenders and open up action for one of the four other All-Stars.
The Warriors have never had a dominant center since they began their reign of terror on the NBA a few seasons ago. How they incorporate one of the most unique big men to ever play the game should be interesting. They can’t hold Cousins to the same type of game that they have done with some of their other centers such as JaVale McGee, Zaza Pachulia, Jordan Bell, or Kevon Looney. Cousins needs the ball to be effective and the reality of the situation is he won’t be getting it nearly as much as he’s been accustomed too, even if the Warriors go out of their way to feed him the ball. I expect the Warriors to run a few plays for him early against the Clippers to test himself against L.A.’s slow-footed big men. But once the game gets going and into a flow, it’s going to be hard to argue for force-feeding the ball to Cousins if Curry has hit two straight threes on back-to-back possessions.
So therein lies what will most likely be the biggest issue between the short marriage of Cousins and Golden State. Can they keep him happy long enough? Can they get him to buy in long enough to finish out the season without being a featured proponent? Remember, Cousins is set to be an unrestricted free agent this summer. He’s coming off a torn Achilles, an injury that has derailed the careers of several big men before Cousins. He wants to get paid. He would have received a max contract had he not torn gone down the injury. Now his future is completely unclear and his play for the remainder of the season and into the playoffs is going to be a giant indicator of how much money he might earn. The Warriors won’t be able to resign Cousins next season (that is, if they intend to keep their core together, which I’m sure they do) and he’s essentially auditioning for 29 other franchises on a team where he’s maybe the third best player when fully healthy.
So is he going to be a major part of the rotation early? Steve Kerr recently told reporters that Cousins will start, but it is unclear exactly how long he’ll play. “I’ll start him [Cousins]. After that, everything’s on the table,” Kerr said. “We have to figure out what the rotations will look like, how many minutes he can play. We’ll have to play around with the minutes, the combinations, the sets.”
That reads to me as Kerr struggling his shoulders. I don’t think even he has any idea of how this experiment is going to work. I don’t think anyone in the known universe can predict how this all might end. There hasn’t been a situation like this in recent NBA memory. But I’ll tell you one thing, I haven’t been this excited to watch the Warriors play since they blew a 3-1 lead in the 2016 NBA Finals with the first-ever unanimous MVP to LeBron James and my Cleveland Cavaliers. *now I’m shrugging my shoulders*
Welcome back, Boogie. We’ve missed you so, so much.
Follow me on Twitter: @ZackGeoghegan
By Jack Pilgrim on ©January 18th, 2019 @ 6:30pm
This afternoon, Kentucky guards Tyler Herro and Jemarl Baker met with the media to discuss the team’s upcoming matchup on the road against the Auburn Tigers.
Herro broke down the Wildcats’ slow starts, defensive improvements, and Ashton Hagans’ ability defending the perimeter against a high-octane offense.
Take a look:
Baker, on the other hand, talked about getting comfortable on the floor, finding his groove from the perimeter, why he likes the corner shot so much, and what he expects against the Tigers.
Check it out:
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©January 18th, 2019 @ 6:00pm
Finally, a Top Chef Kentucky with some more Kentucky! This week, the chefs try their hand at an iconic Kentucky dish and celebrate the state’s bountiful produce and livestock. Well, some of them do, at least. To the recap!
Quickfire Challenge: Reimagine the Hot Brown
The hot brown is one of Kentucky’s most famous dishes, and after hearing about its history, the chefs are tasked with putting their own spin on it. Lena Waithe, an insanely talented actor, screenwriter, and producer, serves as guest judge, and if you haven’t seen the Thanksgiving episode of “Master of None” for which she won an Emmy, consider it your homework.
This Quickfire Challenge is a tough one—will the Cheftestants crack under the pressure? ??
— Bravo's Top Chef (@BravoTopChef) January 17, 2019
Justin and Kentucky girl Sara are the early favorites for the Quickfire Challenge since both serve hot browns in their restaurants. Unfortunately, Sara’s take on the dish, a Scotch Egg, doesn’t get on the plate in time and she’s disqualified, not the first time she’ll struggle in this episode. Of the other hot browns, Padma and Lena give low marks to Brian’s “Nashville Hot Turkey,” which was too dry, and Kelsey’s “Croque Madame Hot Brown,” which had a vinaigrette sauce instead of mornay and was therefore wayyyy too healthy to be considered a Hot Brown. Eddie and Adrienne’s hot browns draw praise from Padma and Lena, but it’s Justin’s “Kentucky Fried Breakfast Brown” that gets the win. As someone who isn’t a fan of hot browns (which I’m sure is because I’ve never tried the one you’ll recommend), even I will admit that it looks delicious:
Elimination Challenge: Carne, Carne, Carne!
The show finally shines a spotlight on Kentucky’s bountiful produce and livestock in this episode, featuring Kentucky Proud products, locally grown ingredients, and locally raised livestock, specifically, beef. Famous chef Nancy Silverton comes in to help Padma present the challenge, which is to prepare a cut of Foxhollow Farm beef assigned to them. All of the chefs are starstruck by Nancy, which I’m sure if totally justified, but I save my fangirling for Dario Cecchini, aka the Mad Butcher of Panzano, who will break down the beef into cuts for the chefs. My husband and I went to Dario’s butcher shop when we went to Italy a few years ago, so this is a huge treat for me. As I wrote on the site afterwards, Dario is a true character and a master of his craft, so good on Top Chef for bringing him in. (That reminds me, we need to use some of that delicious herb salt we bought.)
Anyways, the chefs draw knives to see which cut of meat they’ll be working with. They’ll have 10 minutes to choose local Kentucky ingredients from the pantry, 30 minutes and $100 to spend at Whole Foods, and two hours the next day to prepare a dish for a group of local Kentucky farmers, and, of course, the judges. Brian, who works at a butcher shop on the side, is particularly stoked for this challenge, which Top Chef has taught us is either a really good or a really bad sign for his chances.
The next day, the chefs meet Dario at Decca, a restaurant in Louisville, and my man lives up to his reputation, sharpening his knives while growling “Carne!” and smiling maniacally as he breaks down the cow with ease. From there, the chefs take their cuts of meat and head to the kitchen to get to work.
I won’t bore you with the specifics of each dish, but it’s clear early on who’s in trouble. Kentucky girl Sara drew beef plate as her cut, which she admitted she’s not familiar with. She made it into a sausage, but the casings were too thick, resulting in a soft texture. As a last ditch effort, she throws the pieces in a pan in hopes of adding some crunch, but knows it’s not enough to save her dish. She says she’s “100 percent sure” she’s going home.
Meanwhile, Brandon and David both make steak tartare, which Tom rightfully calls them out on when he visits the kitchen. Brandon’s cut is a loin, so a delicious grilled NY Strip is an obvious choice, but he’s sticking with the tartare because his other attempts at steak so far this season haven’t landed him in the top three. As he’s making his vinaigrette, the top to the grape seed oil bottle falls off and ruins it, forcing him to add xanthan gum to thicken it. You can tell this isn’t going to turn out well.
Brian’s cut is the rib so he makes a charred ribeye, which sounds great, but he cuts off all the good parts. What should be a celebration of meat looks sad, and Tom tells the others after he samples it, “I don’t know how you could cook a piece of meat this poorly.” Ouch.
Most of the chefs struggle with this challenge but a few manage to do justice to the ingredients. Even though he has immunity, Justin nails his flank steak by keeping it simple with a marinade, some polenta and mustard greens. Similarly, Adrienne’s “Black and Bleu” NY Strip with bleu cheese and collard greens is full of flavor. Eddie draws praise for trying something different: ground brisket stuffed in local romaine, a spin on the Polish dish “Golumpki” to honor his Polish heritage.
After scolding the chefs for having “collective amnesia on how to deal with beef” (an awesome burn), Tom praises the three who actually did well: Justin, Adrienne, and Eddie. Eddie gets the win, his first solo victory of the competition, and ditches his resting bitch face for a smile! His prize is an apron signed by Dario and a trip to Tuscany to visit his butcher shop. I’m incredibly jealous. GET THE HERB SALT, EDDIE.
Sara, Brandon, and Brian end up in the bottom three. Tom tells Brian to “stop cooking scared,” aka, don’t torture a piece of meat that’s great all on its own, and lights into Brandon when Brandon reveals he used the xanthan gum as a thickener. Sara is moved to tears when Padma tells her how disappointed she is that a Kentucky girl struggled so much on a Kentucky challenge, but the judges are so pissed about Brandon’s thickener that he’s the one to go home instead. Get it together, Sara!
My Old Kentucky Home Takes
— Some of the Kentucky Proud products featured on the show:
- Kenny’s Farmhouse Cheeses (shoutout to Barren River Lake!)
- Evans Orchard produce (Georgetown)
- Weisenberger Grits (Midway)
- Elmwood Stock Farm Corn Meal (Georgetown)
- Townsends Sorghum Mill Pure Cane Sorghum (Jeffersonville)
- Gilkison Farm Black Raspberry Jam and cheese (Winchester)
- Foxhollow Farm beef (Crestwood)
— Did you know Kentucky is the largest beef-raising state east of the Mississippi? Me neither, but soon, all of my friends will.
Next week: Lake Cumberland with Below Deck‘s Captain Lee and Below Deck Med‘s Captain Sandy! Now we’re talking!
Kentucky’s not-so-secret keys of the Auburn game? Getting off to a fast start and limiting three-pointers
By Jack Pilgrim on ©January 18th, 2019 @ 5:30pm
The Kentucky Wildcats are set for their first true road game of the season against a top-15 opponent in the Auburn Tigers.
And it’s really no secret what the keys of the game are for Kentucky to pull off the victory.
Averaging 84.5 points (No. 2 in the SEC) and 10.9 three-point field goals (No. 1 in the SEC) per game, Auburn is one of the most explosive offensive teams not only in the conference, but in all of college basketball. In order to come out of Auburn Arena with a victory tomorrow afternoon, Kentucky must find a way to get over their slow starts and issues defending the three-point line.
During the team’s pregame media opportunity this afternoon, Kentucky guards Tyler Herro and Jemarl Baker said those two fairly obvious keys of the game have been stressed relentlessly over the course of the week during practice and film sessions.
Herro actually says despite the obvious difficulties of playing on the road against an elite opponent, he’s excited for the challenge.
“They get up and down, shoot a lot of threes like a few teams we’ve already seen this season,” he said. “It’ll be a fun game, good atmosphere. (We’ve just got to keep) playing defense, they’re going to make a few shots, but we’ve just got to stay with each other and keep competing.”
During practice, Herro said Kentucky head coach John Calipari is giving them specific tips and techniques to help slow down the rapid-fire mindset the Tigers possess.
“Coach has been emphasizing, obviously, limiting threes,” he said. “He gave us a few ways, you know, putting our hand up early, so when the shooter sees our hand it makes them think a little bit before he shoots it.
Against Alabama, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt, and Georgia, Kentucky got off to a cold start and it took some clawing and fighting in each of those performances to make strong comebacks. In one of them (Alabama), the slow start from the jump was too much to overcome and the Wildcats went home with a loss.
When you factor in the overall talent of the opposition and the fact that they’ll be playing in a hostile environment, Kentucky can’t afford the same slow start we’ve seen over the last four matchups. And Herro knows that.
“Coach emphasized that it’s a big game, that we’ve got to come out strong the first few possessions,” he said. “Because of the atmosphere, it’s going to be really loud, so we’ve got to communicate early, go with the gameplan, and stick with it.”
Kentucky shooting guard Jemarl Baker agrees with Herro, saying Calipari is making it known that something needs to change with his team’s starts, and it needs to happen against Auburn.
“(Calipari) definitely stressed we need to start well, and it’s just something we have to work at,” he said. “We’ve started well in some games and then had other bad games where we didn’t start well. We need to push to start well when the tip comes, we have to be ready.”
So why has it been such a struggle at the start of games lately?
“I don’t know why, but we need to be engaged right from the tip,” Herro said. “If we have one or two guys that aren’t engaged right from the start, we have breakdowns on defense and that’s where they get threes and dunks.”
Baker said his team needs to play like they have nothing to lose, with their second half performance against Georgia being a great example of how good they can be with intensity.
“We just have to pride in everything we do, go out there and play hard, leave everything out on the court,” said Baker.
One of those individuals that never fails to leave it all out on the court is Kentucky guard Ashton Hagans. Against Auburn, Hagans will be tasked with defending Tiger sharpshooter Jared Harper, who is currently averaging 15.1 points and 6.7 assists per game, all while shooting 40 percent from the three-point line.
Baker said the Kentucky star point guard won’t back down against the elite competition.
“His intensity is always high, it doesn’t change from practice to practice or game to game,” Baker said. “As you can see, he gets steals every game, plays well.
Herro agrees, saying he understands Harper is a guy capable of knocking down shots anywhere on the floor, but he’s confident in Hagans’ ability to take the game over on the defensive end of the floor.
“Giving him the assignment, you know he can shoot, but Ashton is a great defender that can get up into him and won’t allow him to get in transition and knock down threes,” he said.
No disrespect to Harper or any of the other stellar players on the Auburn roster, but Herro says he will take his guys every time.
“He’s a good point guard, but we’ve got two great point guards ourselves, so we’ll see what happens Saturday,” he said.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©January 18th, 2019 @ 5:00pm
John Calipari previewed tomorrow’s big game at Auburn earlier this afternoon, and while we’ve already shared his comments on the Tigers’ three-point shooting and Keldon Johnson, there are some leftovers to pass along. Five, in fact.
1. Don’t expect him to change the starting lineup
If you’re like me, you’d like to see Nick Richards get the starting nod tomorrow, but Calipari said he’s not ready to switch things up just yet.
“Not yet, but it’s obviously I made the statement – when one guy is not engaged or not very good defensively, when two guys are not engaged they dunk the first five shots they shoot.”
Calipari said if he does make any changes with the bigs, it will be to give the other three some of PJ’s minutes.
“I like the minutes, how they were kind of divided. Probably PJ (Washington) got three or four more minutes and that could be distributed to the other guys, but I kind of liked the last game.”
2. Ashton Hagans is the one player he can count on right now
Hagans has blossomed into this team’s best player, and the one Calipari can count on to do exactly what he asks each game.
“I said this yesterday as we started game planning a little bit with the guys – I said, ‘The funny thing is what we just told Ashton to do I fully expect he’ll do that in the game. Some of you, not so much.’ Him, he watches. You tell him what you want him to do and he goes out and tries to do it. That’s part of what has made him what he is right now.”
3. Hagans vs. Harper
Tomorrow, Hagans will be tasked with slowing down Jared Harper, who’s averaging 15.1 points and an SEC-best 6.7 assists per game.
“You’ve got two really good guards. We’re not counting on Ashton to score. Let’s run our club and get people involved, and if you have opportunities to score do it. It’s not as though lets sit him out, but it’s going to be a good matchup. Those guys are veterans. They’ve been through it.”
4. Bruce Pearl: Friend or Foe?
“Why do you keep asking?” Cal joked with John Huang, who asked a similar question about Tom Crean. “You know, we don’t send Christmas cards, but I respect him and if I see him out on the road we’ll talk.”
Translation: Cal wants to beat him very badly.
5. On DeMarcus Cousins’ debut with the Warriors
As you’ve probably heard by now, Boogie will make his debut with the Warriors tonight at 10:30 p.m. (ESPN). Calipari said he can’t wait to see one of his favorite sons back on the court.
“Yeah, I’m happy for him,” Cal said. “I told their people out there, I was kind of happy they haven’t been playing great basketball. The guy laughed and I said, ‘No, I’m serious. So when he comes in this thing goes up, he’s going to get the credit he deserves because he’s a terrific player. He’s an All-Star.’”
Read the full transcript of Calipari’s comments after the jump.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©January 18th, 2019 @ 4:30pm
It looks like Mother Nature’s not going to do us any favors this weekend, so come visit KSBar and Grille, where the lighting is flattering and the temperature is always a comfortable 70 degrees.
Between the Kentucky vs. Auburn game, the Pacquiao vs. Broner fight, and the NFC and AFC Championships, there’s a LOT going on, so get there early and watch with us:
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©January 18th, 2019 @ 4:00pm
Vegas has spoken and Kentucky opened as a 4.5-point underdog in tomorrow’s game at Auburn. Given Auburn’s three-point shooting and what will be a raucous environment, that sounds about right to me. The total on the game is 145.
On the season, Kentucky is 7-9 against the spread. Tuesday’s 20-point win at Georgia was the first time the Cats have covered in conference play.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©January 18th, 2019 @ 3:30pm
The fact that Kentucky was able to beat Georgia by 20 with zero points from its leading scorer, Keldon Johnson, is promising for the team, but what’s up with the explosive young Cat? John Calipari told reporters today that Johnson is still trying to figure out how to be a part of the offense when the other team focuses on shutting him down.
“He’ll be fine. He’ll be fine. Teams are collapsing on him. We’re saying, you’ve got to find people, well, but yeah, you’ve got to score. That’s what you do for us. Yeah, you’ve got to see people, but, ‘Coach, you’re telling me to score and see people if they collapse.’ Yeah, that’s how you play the game. You take what they give you. He’s not quite there yet with that. But when he does — because he can pass, he can handle it. But we need him to score baskets.”
Kentucky can afford an off night from one of its stars vs. teams like Georgia, but against Auburn? Hopefully the bright lights of a Top 15 matchup will inspire a big performance.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©January 18th, 2019 @ 2:54pm
Auburn is a team that can light it up from the outside, ranking fifth in the country in threes made per game (10.9) and 24th in threes attempted per game (30.5). With Kentucky’s perimeter defense still one of the worst in the country (8.1 threes allowed per game on 22.4 attempts), John Calipari knows the Tigers will come out firing tomorrow.
“They’re going to shoot 35 [threes] and if you really guard them and really guard the three, they’re going to shoot 35 of them. They do it off the bounce, they do it off the catch, they do it in transition, they do it on the pick and rolls.”
The Cats have made strides with their three-point defense recently, but Calipari quipped that simply led to easy inside baskets for Georgia on Tuesday.
“Yeah, but then the team dunked the first five shots. We guarded the three well and then they dunked every ball on us. This is a work in progress.”
Kentucky’s been able to overcome slow starts for the most part, but with the competition only getting stronger, Calipari warned his players that’s a luxury they can no longer afford.
“When you’re playing really good teams and they get you down, they’re not letting you back in. Then you’ll make your run and you’re exhausted. And they make a run and it’s back to where it was. The start of the game is important. The first five minutes of each half are important.”
Translation: don’t let Bryce Brown (37.8% 3PT FG) and Jared Harper (40.2% 3PT FG) get going while also defending Austin Wiley in the post. That’s a pretty tall task in what will be a wild Auburn Arena.
“This is a team that’s shooting 35 threes and if they make 20, what’s the next game? They’re shooting whether you’re on them, hanging on them. They’re shooting them. Long rebounds matter in this game. I like to press a pressing team. I like to drive a driving team. I’m not so apt to shoot the three with a three-point shooting team, we don’t play that way, but I guess that would be the other side. We’ll shoot more threes than they do.”
Paging Tyler Herro and Keldon Johnson.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©January 18th, 2019 @ 2:15pm
By Nick Roush on ©January 18th, 2019 @ 1:30pm
The Kentucky football team’s trophy case got a lot more crowded after the historic 2018-19 season. Last night a few Wildcats earned more awards from The KSR Football Podcast. Unfortunately, a few categories were too close to call.
We need YOUR help picking winners for the final six prestigious awards. Listen to our pitch for the nominees on the podcast then select who you believe earns the coveted honors.
By Zack Geoghegan on ©January 18th, 2019 @ 1:00pm
Good afternoon, folks. Our beloved DeMarcus Cousins will make his long-awaited return to the basketball court tonight and officially turn the Warriors into the Monstars. Let’s talk NBA.
Reminder to vote to send the BBNBA to the 2019 All-Star game. Another friendly reminder that NBA League Pass is free through Jan. 20.
- The day of reckoning is here. We must all pay for our past grievances in the form of an NBA super team being created in the middle of January. DeMarcus Cousins is expected to take the court for the first time since tearing his Achilles tendon almost one year ago. It’ll be his first game in a Golden State Warriors uniform and the first time ever that one team can trot out five All-Stars at once that isn’t actually the All-Star game. The Warriors visit the Los Angeles Clippers for Boogie’s debut, so he’ll be going up against notoriously slower big men Marcin Gortat/Boban Marjanovic. I was curious as to why the Warriors didn’t want to have Cousins make his return on Wednesday’s game against his former team, the New Orleans Pelicans, but matching up with Anthony Davis on day one might have been a bit much. Against the Clippers, he’ll have a much more favorable matchup. We are just hours away from watching Boogie take the national stage on ESPN (10:30 p.m. EST), don’t you dare make any evening plans.
[10-34] Knicks – 100 @ [19-26] Wizards – 101
- The NBA’s first game of the season located in London featured the John Wall-less Washington Wizards and the Enes Kanter-less New York Knicks. Wall is out for the season after undergoing heel surgery, but Kanter’s story is a bit different, as you might have heard. Kanter decided to remain in the states instead of flying to London out of fear that he might be injured/captured/killed by the Turkish government. But even without those two, the game was actually quite exciting for a pair of sub-.500 teams.
- Kevin Knox had an off day playing in another country, shooting 2-11 from the field for only five points in 30 minutes.
- The Wizards won this game off of a goaltending call, oddly enough. Knicks guard Allonzo Trier was whistled for goaltending with 0.4 seconds left that gave the Wizards a one-point lead and ultimately the win. The Wizards outscored the Knicks 24-11 in the fourth quarter to hand New York their fifth consecutive loss.
- And don’t look now, but Bradley Beal may be a superstar in the making. After putting up 26 points in London, Beal is now averaging 29.8 points, 5.8 rebounds, 6.2 assists, and 2.4 steals per game over his last 10 since Wall was ruled out for the season. The Wizards are 6-4 in those games – albeit against a mediocre schedule. Beal is the real deal (shoutout to his Twitter handle). Now let’s all sit back and watch as the Wizards front office does absolutely nothing with their newfound All-Star.
[23-22] Kings – 95 @ [21-23] Hornets – 114
- After winning three games in a row, the Sacramento Kings dropped a bad loss to the Charlotte Hornets on the road. De’Aaron Fox and Willie Cauley-Stein were hardly their usual, effective selves as they scored 10 and eight points, respectively. Fox also added five rebounds and eight assists but with four turnovers.
- For Charlotte, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist played his most minutes of the season at 30, contributing 15 points on 4-7 shooting (he shot 7-7 from the charity stripe) and was a team-leading plus-26. Charlotte outscored Sacramento 43-25 in the second quarter to take full command of the game. 13 of those 43 points came from MKG, who was playing excellent defense leading to ample fastbreak opportunities. Malik Monk shot 2-3 from the field for five points in the win.
[25-21] Lakers – 138 @ [26-18] Thunder – 128 (OT)
- There was no Rajon Rondo or LeBron James for the Lakers still, but the young Los Angeles team pulled out a huge win over Oklahoma City in overtime on the road. Some impressive performances from a trio of youngsters – Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, and Ivica Zubac – secured a massive victory with James still mending his strained groin.
- For the Thunder, Nerlens Noel played in his first game since the devastating concussion last week that forced him to sit out three games. He finished with four points, two rebounds, an assist, and a steal in 11 minutes. Patrick Patterson hit 3-4 shots deep and two of them came at big moments in the fourth quarter. Hamidou Diallo did not register a point in 11 minutes.
- Devin Booker led the BBNBA in scoring on Thursday night, pouring in 30 points for his Phoenix Suns team in a close loss to one of the top teams in the East, the Toronto Raptors. Booker shot 10-21 from the field (4-9 from deep) to go along with eight assists (and six turnovers). With the game tied at 109, Raptors forward Pascal Siakim went isolation and hit the game-winning layup as time expired.
- Lastly, the boys in Denver put a beating on the Chicago Bulls, 135-105. Jamal Murray and company made sure to avenge their 31-point blowout loss to the Warriors on Wednesday with a shellacking of a depressingly sad Bulls squad. Murray dropped in 25 points on 8-16 shooting (he shot 7-11 from three) and hit six three-pointers in the third quarter alone. He also contributed five assists to only one turnover. Trey Lyles made the most of his 21 minutes, scoring 12 points on 5-10 (2-3 from deep) shooting in addition to four rebounds and two assists.
- Check out the full stat sheet below.
|Devin Booker (PHX)||109-111 L @ TOR||30||10-21 (4-9)||2||8||0||0||6||+2||35|
|Jamal Murray (DEN)||135-105 W vs. CHI||25||8-16 (7-11)||2||5||0||0||1||+27||29|
|Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (CHA)||114-95 W vs. SAC||15||4-7 (0-2)||2||1||2||0||0||+26||30|
|Trey Lyles (DEN)||135-105 W vs. CHI||12||5-10 (2-3)||4||2||1||0||0||+3||21|
|De'Aaron Fox (SAC)||95-114 L @ CHA||10||4-10 (0-2)||5||8||1||1||4||-5||30|
|Patrick Patterson (OKC)||128-138 (OT) L vs. LAL||9||3-4 (3-4)||0||1||0||0||0||-11||9|
|Willie Cauley-Stein (SAC)||95-114 L @ CHA||8||4-6 (0-0)||11||4||3||1||2||-4||27|
|Kevin Knox (NYK)||100-101 L vs. WAS (game in London)||5||2-11 (0-6)||4||1||0||0||0||-7||30|
|Malik Monk (CHA)||114-95 W vs. SAC||5||2-3 (1-2)||1||1||0||0||2||+13||13|
|Nerlens Noel (OKC)||128-138 (OT) L vs. LAL||4||2-3 (0-0)||2||1||1||0||1||-20||11|
|Hamidou Diallo (OKC)||128-138 (OT) L vs. LAL||0||0-3 (0-1)||3||1||0||0||0||-14||11|
|Enes Kanter (NYK)||100-101 L vs. WAS (game in London)||Did not travel||--||--||--||--||--||--||--||--|
|Skal Labissiere (SAC)||95-114 L @ CHA||DNP-CD||--||--||--||--||--||--||--||--|
|Rajon Rondo (LAL)||138-128 (OT) W @ OKC||DNP-Finger||--||--||--||--||--||--||--||--|
|Jarred Vanderbilt (DEN)||135-105 W vs. CHI||DNP-Foot||--||--||--||--||--||--||--||--|
|John Wall (WAS)||101-100 W vs. NYK (game in London)||DNP-Heel||--||--||--||--||--||--||--||--|
TONIGHT IN THE NBA
7:00: Grizzlies @ Celtics
7:00: Heat (Adebayo) @ Pistons
7:00: Nets @ Magic (Briscoe)
8:00 (ESPN): Spurs @ Timberwolves (Towns)
9:00: Cavaliers @ Jazz
10:30 (ESPN): Warriors (Cousins-he’s playing tonight holy s**t) @ Clippers (Gilgeous-Alexander)
10:30: Pelicans (Davis, Miller, Randle) @ Trail Blazers
Follow me on Twitter: @ZackGeoghegan
By Aaron Torres on ©January 18th, 2019 @ 12:00pm
While it’s probably a bit too early to say that the Kentucky Wildcats have “turned a corner,” there have been a lot of positive signs during their current three-game win streak. The Wildcats have ramped it up on defense allowing just 48 points per game over the last two, and Ashton Hagans is quickly emerging into the “next great John Calipari point guard.” It’s only mid-January and Kentucky is far from a complete team. But again, there are plenty of signs this group is headed in the right direction.
Still, we’ll find out just how far Kentucky has to go over the next eight days, with a brutal three-game stretch which includes three ranked teams. Kentucky will travel to Auburn this weekend, before facing Mississippi State and Kansas at home next week. There is no “magic number” on what their record needs to be over that stretch. But if they’re to be taken seriously as a team that can make a run to the Final Four, they probably need to win two out of three to feel good. If they win all three, it’s inarguable that Kentucky has arrived as a legit contender.
Ultimately though you can’t win all three unless you win the first one, which makes this weekend’s game at Auburn so crucial. To beat a Top 15 team on the road gives the Wildcats a resume boosting win they can carry all season. Add it in with wins that Kentucky already has at Louisville and against North Carolina on a neutral court and all of a sudden you’re talking about a nice little resume for the Wildcats.
So with that said, what will it take to beat the Tigers? Well, I’m glad you asked, as I decided to reach out to a coach who has faced Auburn this season to get a scouting report on them. Remember, I did this before the North Carolina game and, I hate to brag, but it seems pretty obvious that the Wildcats staff read my article. You know, since they dominated the Tar Heels from start to finish after all.
Can I go 2-for-2 and take Kentucky’s season to another level (Yes, I’m kidding)? We’ll find out, as here is what one anonymous coach who has faced Auburn this season said about the Tigers.
Ashton Hagans and Keldon Johnson will play a massive role on Saturday – but it will come on the defensive end
Hagans had a breakout game offensively in his return to Georgia Tuesday (where I’m not sure if you heard, but the home fans booed him) and Johnson is the team’s best long-term NBA prospect.
But while each has the ability to light up the opponent defensively, the key for Kentucky might be what Hagans and Johnson do on the other end of the court. Slowing down Auburn’s guards is key to success against the Tigers.
“What they really do, especially at home is they make so many transition three’s,” the coach said.
“They start hitting those transition threes and it ramps up their defensive energy and they just go on these runs, man. You’ll be in the game with them and then you’ll be down 20 because they went on a 12-0 run and made four threes. It’s amazing.”
While it’s impossible to know just how many of Auburn’s threes have come in transition, what is indisputable is that the Tigers are one of the best shooting teams in college basketball. Auburn is making just under 11 three-pointers per game, which is sixth most in the country and are doing it while shooting 36 percent as a team. Although that percentage isn’t through the roof, it’s pretty darn good when you realize just how many three’s they’ve actually attempted. Overall, five different players have hit at least 17 three’s this season for Auburn (in comparison, Kentucky has just two guys who have hit that mark, Johnson and Tyler Herro) with Bryce Brown and Jared Harper combining for 92.
For what Auburn does, the coach believes Harper is the best point guard in the country (“If I’m taking any point guard in the country, I’m taking him,” the coach said) and therefore it’s key that Hagans picks him up just as soon as he touches the ball.
Equally important is who picks up Brown, and where. That responsibility will likely fall on Johnson at least to start the game.
“To me, you’ve almost got to designate someone to find Bryce Brown in transition,” he said. “You’ve got to find Brown because if you watch the film, he’s so good at running and catching hit aheads in space. And his range is unlimited.”
Jared Harper from the LOGO pic.twitter.com/naB6MiNWqP
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) February 22, 2018
But it’s not just the guards who hit threes
While Brown and Harper key the offensive attack, what makes Auburn so deadly is that – depending on the lineup – just about anyone on the court can beat you with the deep ball.
The Tigers are the rare team that has big guys that can run the floor and hit three’s, meaning that picking up the big guys in transition isn’t just about the guards – but the post players as well.
“[Anfernee] McLemore can step out and hit threes,” the coach said. “Obviously [Chuma] Okeke can step out and hit threes. Horace Spencer isn’t a great shooter but he can step out and make some.”
The numbers back up the coach.
On the season, Okeke, a 6’8 forward has tallied 17 made three-pointers and McLemore – who is battling back from a season-ending injury from last year – has made seven. He made 18 last season while shooting 39 percent from behind the arc.
So Okeke and McLemore are the big guys who can really hurt Kentucky. Which is also why they better pray…