D’Antoni’s fired-up philosophy has Rockets revved up

UNTV News   •   March 5, 2017   •   2385

Basketball – NBA Global Games – Houston Rockets training ahead of preseason game against New Orleans Pelicans – Beijing, China – 11/10/16. Houston Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni talks to the media. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

From basketball innovator to coaching flameout, Mike D’Antoni has survived the roller coaster of the NBA and landed back in the league’s good graces.

The transition has come almost as fast as his new team, the Houston Rockets, launches three-pointers.

D’Antoni’s coaching philosophy has always been a simple one: “Shoot it. Shoot it quickly.”

He has lived and died by the creed, winning fans and style points before stalling during stints at high-profile franchises.

D’Antoni, 65, is back in his sweet spot as a first-year coach in Houston, revving up the Rockets’ offense to new speeds.

“I’m just happy to find a team where everybody is on the same page,” D’Antoni told Reuters prior to Houston’s contest against the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday. “You do that and you can find success. I’ve been lucky to find a spot like this.” The Rockets and D’Antoni have happily found each other, embracing the run-and-gun pace that is becoming the league’s norm.

Houston (43-19), third in the Western Conference, leads the NBA by a long shot in both three-pointers made and attempted as they fire off more than 40 a night.

“We’re going to shoot them, that’s what we do,” said Rockets leading man James Harden after the team made 20 three-pointers in routing the Clippers 122-103.

Added Rockets forward Ryan Anderson: “You don’t really realize how many (three-pointers) we’re taking until you hear (about it), because it’s so naturally the way we play. It’s fun basketball.”

At his best, D’Antoni has always put the ‘fun’ in basketball.

As a player, he enjoyed a short tour of the NBA before becoming a standout in Italy for Olimpia Milano where he won multiple titles and was idolized by a generation of youngsters that included Kobe Bryant, who was living in Italy at the time. D’Antoni’s first NBA head coaching job came with the Denver Nuggets in 1998-99. By the time he burst onto the scene with the Phoenix Suns in the early 2000s, his style of quick shots and heavy pick-and-rolls was cutting edge.

D’Antoni won the 2004-05 Coach of the Year Award, and the Suns became an NBA darling, inspiring a book, “Seven Seconds or Less”, which characterized the coach’s offensive mindset.

But D’Antoni’s brand of basketball took a hit when the Suns did not reach the NBA Finals, and he subsequently failed during coaching tenures with the New York Knicks and Los Angeles Lakers, who both rejected his concepts.

“The Mike system needs the right system around him. It’s clear that when he has the right players his system is really good,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers told Reuters.

Today’s NBA offense features much of the pace, space and perimeter shooting that D’Antoni long preached, bringing the coach a measure of validation.

“You want to not be totally (viewed as) crazy,” he said. — By Jahmal Corner | LOS ANGELES

(Editing by Gene Cherry)

Harden drills OT winner as Rockets nip Warriors

UNTV News   •   January 5, 2019

FILE PHOTO: Feb 10, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) points to the sky against the Phoenix Suns at US Airways Center. (Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports)

James Harden capped his second consecutive triple-double by sinking a 25-foot 3-pointer with one second remaining in overtime Thursday night, giving the Houston Rockets a 135-134 victory over the Golden State Warriors in Oakland, Calif.

After Stephen Curry put Golden State up by two with an 18-footer with 23.1 seconds to go, the Rockets got possession after a kicked-ball violation on the Warriors with 5.5 seconds left.

The ball was inbounded to Harden, who was able to get off — and make — a heavily contested 3-pointer to provide the game-winning points and cap a game-high, 44-point night.

Kevin Durant’s desperation 40-footer caromed off the rim at the buzzer, allowing the Rockets to win their sixth straight and 11th in their past 12.

In scoring 40 or more points for the fifth consecutive game, Harden also found time for 10 rebounds and a game-high 15 assists for his fifth triple-double of the season. He turned the ball over seven times.

Curry led the Warriors with 35 points.

The Rockets forced the extra session by scoring the last six points of the fourth quarter on a three-point play by Clint Capela with 1:03 to go and a 3-pointer by Harden with 51.4 seconds left.

After Durant misfired for Golden State, Harden had the last shot of regulation but couldn’t connect from 32 feet, sending the game into overtime tied at 119-all.

Thirty of Harden’s points came on 10 3-pointers as the Rockets went 21-for-54 from beyond the arc and outscored Golden State 63-42 on threes.

Capela recorded a 29-point, 21-point double-double for Houston, which beat Golden State for the second time this season after falling to the eventual champion Warriors in seven games in last year’s Western Conference finals.

Austin Rivers added 18 points, Danuel House Jr. 17 and Gerald Green 16 as the Rockets rallied from as much as a 20-point, third-quarter deficit.

Curry managed his 35 points despite just 5-for-15 shooting from 3-point range. The Warriors were 14-for-37 from long distance as a team.

Durant and Klay Thompson finished with 26 points apiece for the Warriors, while Draymond Green flirted with a triple-double of his own with nine points, 11 rebounds and eight assists.

The loss was Golden State’s third straight at home.

—Field Level Media

NBA: Lakers’ early struggles are normal, says James

UNTV News   •   October 22, 2018

Oct 20, 2018; Los Angeles, CA, Houston Rockets guard Chris Paul (3) guards Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) in the first half of the game at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

 

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Los Angeles Lakers’ new forward LeBron James said he was not disappointed with the defeats in the first two games and the early struggles were normal for a side that overhauled their roster in the offseason to bring in the league’s best player.

The Lakers fell 124-115 to the visiting Houston Rockets to spoil James’ debut at Staples Center after dropping their season opener to the Trail Blazers in Portland on Thursday.

“I’m not disappointed at all,” the three-time NBA champion, who signed a four-year, $154 million deal with the Lakers in July, told reporters.

“I understand that we’re going to have some struggles, some early struggles. And nobody said it was going to be easy.

“We had some miscues down the stretch. We had some missed shots. But that’s how the cookie crumbles sometimes. But I’m not disappointed at all.”

The game will be best remembered for a fist fight that broke out in the fourth quarter that led to the ejections of Lakers’ Brandon Ingram and Rajon Rondo and Chris Paul of the Rockets.

James, who stepped in to help break up the melee, said he did not see what caused the brawl, which the Rockets said started when Rondo spit in Paul’s face.

Paul could be seen pressing his fingers into Rondo’s face before Rondo threw a punch at him, leading to a scuffle where Ingram also threw a punch at Paul.

The NBA is expected to announce sanctions on Sunday.

“I didn’t see anything and I didn’t say anything to my team after the game,” James said. “I just tried to calm things down, that’s all. Play basketball.”

James said his focus was on the game against the San Antonio Spurs on Monday.

“We had our chances tonight. I think we take this opportunity tonight to go over the things we could have done better and be frustrated,” he said.

“But when you wake up tomorrow it’s a new day and a new opportunity. You leave things in the past and you get on with the future.”

Editing by Sudipto Ganguly

NBA notebook: Rockets, Capela reportedly reach $90 million deal

UNTV News   •   July 28, 2018

Apr 3, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets forward Clint Capela (15) gets a rebound away from Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kyle Singler (5) during the third quarter at Toyota Center. The Rockets won 118-110. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports / Reuters

The standoff between the Houston Rockets and restricted free agent center Clint Capela appears over, as Capela signed a five-year, $90 million contract with the club, ESPN reported Friday.

As a restricted free agent, Capela could have signed the team’s $4.3 million qualifying offer and reached free agency in July 2019. But he had not yet signed it, instead holding out hopes for a deal in the $100 million range, putting him on par with Thunder big man Steven Adams (four years, $100 million) and Jazz eraser Rudy Gobert (four years, $102 million).

Capela is a strong defensive presence, and keeping him was essential for the Rockets, who already lost wings Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute to free agency.

The 6-foot-10 Capela, the No. 25 overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, averaged 13.9 points, 10.8 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game in 74 games last season.

—New York Knicks coach David Fizdale traveled to All-Star forward Kristaps Porzingis’ native Latvia to get to know his franchise player and to see how his rehab from major knee surgery is progressing. Porzingis tore the ACL in his left knee on Feb. 6 and isn’t expected back until December.

“We’ve talked about his rehab. We’ve talked about how we want to play, our style of play. Talked a lot about the culture that we’re building,” the new Knicks coach told Latvian television network LSM. “We wanna make sure that he comes back strong and healthy and we don’t want to rush it. We’ve had some really good conversations.”

The 7-foot-3 Porzingis, who turns 23 on Thursday, also is eligible for a five-year, $157 million contract extension. Talks haven’t progressed and may not until after Porzingis has recovered from the ACL tear.

—Once again, Devin Harris is a Dallas Maverick. Yahoo Sports reported that the veteran point guard, 35, agreed to a one-year, veteran minimum deal with the club.

Harris, 35, was traded from Dallas to the Denver Nuggets in February, but the team is bringing him back after losing Yogi Ferrell in free agency. The fifth overall pick in the 2004 NBA Draft, Harris was traded on draft night to Dallas, where he spent the first four years of his career.

He was traded to the New Jersey Nets in 2008, but returned to Dallas in 2013 as a free agent.

—California native Paul George explained to USA Today Sports why he never even bothered to meet with Lakers president Magic Johnson and instead re-signed with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

“The reason why I didn’t (take a meeting) is that coming down to free agency and before it was about to open (on July 1), I felt really good where I was at,” said George, who signed a four-year agreement worth $137 million with the Thunder.

“I felt I was in a good place with Oklahoma. I wanted to come back to LA. That story was true. The narrative on that was true. That’s where my heart was. But this year, being in Oklahoma, I felt really good about the situation, I felt really good going forward, and I didn’t want to waste nobody’s time and take a meeting. … I felt great where we were at, so I decided to do it early, to get it over with, and start to build.”

—Field Level Media

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