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Utah Jazz: Loss in opener wasn’t pointless

Oakland, Calif. • An ill-advised bounce pass to Al Jefferson stuck out to Mo Williams. Then there was that pass he knew he shouldn’t have thrown to Paul Millsap.

Even after the first preseason game, an 83-80 loss at Golden State, the Jazz’s new point guard is already in fine-tuning mode. Williams was the brightest spot on a night in which Utah’s second unit, led by a lean Enes Kanter, nearly brought the Jazz back all the way from a 16-point deficit before Randy Foye’s 3-pointer in the final seconds fell short.

Kanter notched a double-double, Marvin Williams was efficient and exciting, DeMarre Carroll was a sharpshooter. But it may have been Mo Williams, playing in only the first and third quarters, who offered the most encouraging glimpse of things to come for the Jazz.

Williams recorded 11 points and six assists, and scored the Jazz’s first seven points. His performance was dragged down by four turnovers, each of which he can recount in detail, but shrugged off.

"They got to get used to how I play," he said of his new teammates, "and I’ve got to get used to how they play."

While the Warriors played a measured rotation deserving of a more significant game, the Jazz limited their starters’ minutes. Warriors forward David Lee led all scorers with 19 points in 36 minutes, while Marvin Williams and Millsap led the Jazz with 13 points apiece. Kanter finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds.

Playing only the first and third quarters, Mo Williams fired passes from his hip, around defenders, sometimes too hot for his teammates to handle. He opened the second half with a drive and a dish to Al Jefferson in the post for an easy dunk — which Jefferson, who was an uncharacteristic 1-of-8 from the field, missed.

In the small sample of the preseason opener, Williams was the kind of veteran player the Jazz hoped they found when they acquired Devin Harris as part of the Deron Williams trade in 2010. Where the Utah offense was often plodding and repetitive for a season-and-a-half with Harris, it was interesting and fast-paced Monday night in front of an announced 14,571 at Oracle Arena, although, thanks to clumsy plays and miscommunications, it often resulted in turnovers (the Jazz had 18) rather than baskets.

Williams spent last season as Chris Paul’s backup with the Los Angeles Clippers, despite being a starter for most of his career.

"He is trying to feel his teammates out now," Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. "Some of those they’re coming off the pick and rolls, guys feeling where he is and what he’s looking for and a couple was just a click off, but that’s going to get better as we go forward, that’s guys getting to know each other better in the game."

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In addition to the new faces,

In addition to the new faces, the core players return for another run this season. The Thunder will be one of the more fortunate teams that won’t need to spend considerable time getting to know each other on the court. How important is that continuity to this team?

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Williams spent last season as

Williams spent last season as Chris Paul’s backup with the Los Angeles Clippers, despite being a starter for most of his career.

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The next three remaining

The next three remaining preseason games will be very hectic to deal with, with all of them being completed in a four-day stretch until Miami opens up the season against the Boston Celtics on October 30.

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"He is trying to feel his

"He is trying to feel his teammates out now," Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. "Some of those they’re coming off the pick and rolls, guys feeling where he is and what he’s looking for and a couple was just a click off, but that’s going to get better as we go forward, that’s guys getting to know each other better in the game."

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great

great

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While the Warriors played a

While the Warriors played a measured rotation deserving of a more significant game, the Jazz limited their starters’ minutes. Warriors forward David Lee led all scorers with 19 points in 36 minutes, while Marvin Williams and Millsap led the Jazz with 13 points apiece. Kanter finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds.

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A solid 1-for-1 in snack

A solid 1-for-1 in snack redemption at US Airways Center without Nash, the Suns – whose fans convert ticket stubs from any 99-points-plus outing into fast food – had moments of clarity and confusion while unveiling some of their altered attack at home.

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"Goran's dribble penetration

"Goran's dribble penetration had a lot to do with that," Gentry said. "And I think our spacing was a lot better than it was the day before in Sacramento."

It also should be noted that Friday's first half didn't offer a steady diet of Corner alignments. Several half-court possessions featured an overload that included a baseline or "flex" screen designed to create an open lay-up or post up for the cutter.

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Williams spent last season as

Williams spent last season as Chris Paul’s backup with the Los Angeles Clippers, despite being a starter for most of his career.

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So even though Gentry and the

So even though Gentry and the Suns' coaching staff is wisely mixing in tactics familiar to four players who used to play for Adelman (Scola and Dragic in Houston; Michael Beasley and Wesley Johnson last season in Minnesota), a lot of the offensive flow is supposed to look familiar.
The Suns will continue to seek a quick tempo, using ball screens off of Corner sets and other designed quick-hitters.

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Following practice Friday at

Following practice Friday at the Lakers' training facility in El Segundo, reporters wasted no time informing him that Smush Parker was offended about comments Bryant made regarding why his former teammate doesn't belong in the NBA.

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Original wrinkles can be

Original wrinkles can be added to any system, of course, but – regardless of the origin – Nash's successor is a big fan of the new offensive order in Phoenix.

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It was a surprise when the

It was a surprise when the Toronto Raptors took Terrence Ross eighth overall at the NBA Draft in June, but after hearing head coach Dwane Casey’s explanation, the pick made sense for Toronto. Casey had scouted Ross personally before last year’s lockout-shortened season got underway and the young wing had exceeded expectations during his sophomore season at Washington.

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In addition to the new faces,

In addition to the new faces, the core players return for another run this season. The Thunder will be one of the more fortunate teams that won’t need to spend considerable time getting to know each other on the court. How important is that continuity to this team?

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McGrady hasn’t ruled out a

McGrady hasn’t ruled out a return to the NBA, but could find more lucrative avenues overseas for the duration of his playing career.

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But as one of the franchise's

But as one of the franchise's cornerstones — with a contract extension in tow — fans might have been hoping for more. But Bucks coach Scott Skiles took it as a positive. Ilyasova wasn't forcing anything. If and when the offense opened up for the young stretch forward, Skiles knew Ilyasova would take advantage.

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Williams spent last season as

Williams spent last season as Chris Paul’s backup with the Los Angeles Clippers, despite being a starter for most of his career.

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Minor arthroscopic knee

Minor arthroscopic knee surgery is generally warranted when small pieces of cartilage, tissue, or meniscus are the cause of the chronic swelling and the only way to guarantee the problem subsides is removal. In the procedure tiny incisions are made in the knee to allow surgical instruments, roughly the size of a pencil, into the area to examine and clean up the structures of the knee.

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Leave it to the man who

Leave it to the man who speaks English as a second language to explain this better than anyone has in the past three weeks.

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“We don’t really talk to him

“We don’t really talk to him about replacing Steve. We could go through the whole league and they couldn’t replace Steve. Our priority is to get the team that we have playing at the highest level that they can. I think Goran understands and him and Steve have a great relationship and they still talk. We all know what Steve brought to our team but now we’re trying to get ourselves in a situation where Goran can step into a role, where he feels confident in what he’s doing and he can become the best Goran Dragic. That’s what we’re trying to get him to do, which would be pretty good.

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Beal hit less than 34 percent

Beal hit less than 34 percent of his 3-point attempts from the college distance last year, but he doesn’t appear to have taken a step back now that he’s shooting from NBA range. Through four games Beal has hit 35.7 percent of his 3-point attempts (five of 14) and while that is a small sample size, he says he’s felt comfortable.

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Friday was a busy night in

Friday was a busy night in the NBA preseason as 14 teams were in action. While several stars turned in solid performances, Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry left the game with an ankle injury.

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The Portland Trail Blazers

The Portland Trail Blazers could very well be one of the league’s biggest surprises this season with a healthy LaMarcus Aldridge returning to the lineup and the addition of exciting rookie point guard Damian Lillard.

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There was a time, not so long

There was a time, not so long ago, when an NBA team absolutely had to have a great center if they were going to hope to win the championship. The paint around the league was patrolled by the likes of Hakeem Olajuwon, David Robinson, Patrick Ewing, Brad Daugherty, Shaquille O’Neal and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, to name a few. In the 1980′s and 1990′s you either had to have an elite center or Michael Jordan if you were going to capture the Larry O’Brien trophy, and one of the toughest things for fans to do was to pick just one center on their annual All-Star ballot.

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A solid 1-for-1 in snack

A solid 1-for-1 in snack redemption at US Airways Center without Nash, the Suns – whose fans convert ticket stubs from any 99-points-plus outing into fast food – had moments of clarity and confusion while unveiling some of their altered attack at home.

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The Demise of the NBA Center

The Demise of the NBA Center Position

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That doesn’t mean that Davis

That doesn’t mean that Davis will hesitate to call someone out if he sees a teammate who isn’t following the game plan laid out by Williams. He feels players bear a share of the responsibility for keeping each other in line.

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That doesn’t mean that Davis

That doesn’t mean that Davis will hesitate to call someone out if he sees a teammate who isn’t following the game plan laid out by Williams. He feels players bear a share of the responsibility for keeping each other in line.

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“I just think he’s more

“I just think he’s more aggressive, obviously,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers said, as quoted by Paul Flannery of WEEI.com. “He’s comfortable in his game. He understands how to score, how he can score through our offense. The other part is he’s happy. The guys like him, he likes them, he’s comfortable here now. I think last year, even though he didn’t play, probably did a world of good. Just being around the guys and they accepted him and I think all that helped him.”

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Perennial All-Star Dirk

Perennial All-Star Dirk Nowitzki is expected to be out three to six weeks after undergoing surgery on his right knee and center Chris Kaman calf could miss the first game of the season with a calf injury. Backup Brandan Wright is recovering from an ankle injury as well so the Mavericks have only Elton Brand and rookie Bernard James as viable frontcourt options locked in when they start the season Tuesday against the Los Angeles Lakers.

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The Houston Rockets tied up

The Houston Rockets tied up one more piece of unfinished business on Saturday night, trading disgruntled Kevin Martin to the Oklahoma City Thunder in a deal that landed James Harden in Houston. The Rockets also send Jeremy Lamb and future draft considerations to Oklahoma City. The Thunder also send Cole Aldrich, Daequan Cook and Lazar Hayward to Houston in the trade.

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Houston Rockets big man Greg

Houston Rockets big man Greg Smith is facing the same sort of challenges that Gerald Green faced earlier in his career, but he’s not quite as far along in getting himself a guaranteed contract. In fact, Smith was invited to Rockets camp last year as well, but was cut three days before Christmas and the start of the 2011-12 lockout-shortened season.

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Harden, as good as he has

Harden, as good as he has been for the Thunder, has only started seven games in his career and they simply couldn’t give him the money he was demanding.

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“He is tested. He knows who

“He is tested. He knows who he is, which is comforting as a coach when a guy goes in and he knows what he is supposed to do and who he is and not going through the wars for the first time. Now we just have to get Terrence up to speed to perform like that each and every day and be consistent with it. And he will. Terrence is a talented, talented young man and his upside is off the charts. He just has to get up to speed on the NBA right now.

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The other part is you just

The other part is you just can’t make a three and give up a three at the other end every possession. He is learning, believe me. This doesn’t mean Terrence Ross is not going to play for us or not a part of it. He is going to be big for us. He is our future, but right now he is just a typical rookie and you could stop every play for him [to teach]. He is learning.”

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A solid deep threat in

A solid deep threat in college, Ross has NBA three-point range and a smooth stroke with a high release. Casey had specifically requested that the Raptors add more shooters this summer. Unfortunately for Ross, Raptors president and general manager Bryan Colangelo honored Casey’s request in spades. The Raptors added several players who can knock down threes including Kyle Lowry, John Lucas III and Landry Fields

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It was a surprise when the

It was a surprise when the Toronto Raptors took Terrence Ross eighth overall at the NBA Draft in June, but after hearing head coach Dwane Casey’s explanation, the pick made sense for Toronto. Casey had scouted Ross personally before last year’s lockout-shortened season got underway and the young wing had exceeded expectations during his sophomore season at Washington.

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It is going to be tough for

It is going to be tough for Ross to crack Casey’s rotation early on and the rookie will probably have to prove his worth in practice and during those occasional blowout games when playing him will not affect the outcome. It is not a lack of talent that will be holding him back as nearly everyone acknowledges the kid’s potential, but Casey is in the business of winning games this season and Ross will have to earn his coach’s confidence in order to get meaningful minutes.

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It was a surprise when the

It was a surprise when the Toronto Raptors took Terrence Ross eighth overall at the NBA Draft in June, but after hearing head coach Dwane Casey’s explanation, the pick made sense for Toronto. Casey had scouted Ross personally before last year’s lockout-shortened season got underway and the young wing had exceeded expectations during his sophomore season at Washington.

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Playing only the first and

Playing only the first and third quarters, Mo Williams fired passes from his hip, around defenders, sometimes too hot for his teammates to handle. He opened the second half with a drive and a dish to Al Jefferson in the post for an easy dunk — which Jefferson, who was an uncharacteristic 1-of-8 from the field, missed.

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Playing only the first and

Playing only the first and third quarters, Mo Williams fired passes from his hip, around defenders, sometimes too hot for his teammates to handle. He opened the second half with a drive and a dish to Al Jefferson in the post for an easy dunk — which Jefferson, who was an uncharacteristic 1-of-8 from the field, missed.

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