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Shootaround (Nov. 2) -- Anthony Davis wants Pelicans to right ship quickly

NBA.com Staff

Nov 2, 2016 8:36 AM ET

 

Davis frustrated by Pelicans' winless start | Kobe says he doesn't miss playing | Durant opens up about Westbrook | Warriors upset over Cavs' party prop

No. 1: Davis voices frustration after Pelicans' 0-4 start -- The New Orleans Pelicans spent their offseason going through a roster remodel in hopes of finding the right pieces to put around All-Star big man Anthony Davis. After last night's loss to the Milwaukee Bucks, though, New Orleans is 0-4 (and they started 0-6 last season en route to a 30-52 season). Davis was decidedly unhappy Tuesday night and voiced his frustration after the defeat, writes William Guillory of The Times-Picayune:

After a 117-113 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks (2-2) sent his team spiraling to an 0-4 record to begin the year, the star forward was sitting at his locker in a Pelicans sweatsuit waiting for the media to come in and ask the reasoning behind New Orleans' underwhelming start to the season.

Davis fought through his obvious frustration and gave a short, simple message.

"We had too many mental breakdowns," Davis said. "We're not talking out there and so, therefore, we have mental breakdowns that gave them easy layups at the basket and open shots."

Defense has continued to be the issue with the Pelicans, as it was when they began last season losing 11 of their first 12 games, and the aspect that confounds the team most is how mental mistakes and a lack of communication are some of the main issues they are failing to overcome.

Much of the struggles on defense were wrapped up in the Bucks' final two game-sealing baskets of the night.

The Pelicans fought back from a 10-point deficit to cut the Milwaukee lead to 112-110 with 2:42 left in the game, but Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo went directly to the rim for an easy layup that made it a four-point game.

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Pelicans forward Solomon Hill, who scored a season-high 17 points Tuesday night, said that he was a part of an Indiana Pacers team that lost its first three games last season and still managed to make the playoffs.

He said the key will be for the team to fix some of its issues defensively and not allow the slow start to get to them.

"I did that last year with the Pacers, we started like that and made the playoffs," said Hill. "This is just something that, by the end of the season, we've gotta look back and be like, 'Man, remember when we were there? Look how we are now.'

"All we have is up, that's the only great thing we can say about it, but it has to change some day."

The Pelicans travel to play the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday night and they know improvements must be made quickly on defense before they dig themselves an even deeper hole in the standings.

"It's definitely frustrating. We can't get a win, it's frustrating," Davis said. "Whatever we need to do, we need to do it fast."

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No. 2: Kobe says he doesn't miss playing -- The Kobe Bryant farewell tour is long over with as the Los Angeles Lakers legend hung up his jersey after last season. Still, there has always been a question of whether or not Bryant would do like his longtime idol, Michael Jordan, and stage an NBA comeback at this point. Sorry to say, Kobe fans, but that doesn't seem like it'll be happening. Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com has more: 

Kobe Bryant admitted to watching a few games during the first week of the NBA season. But playing again? Not a chance. He doesn't miss it.

"Not even a little bit," Bryant said Tuesday morning at the launch of his latest signature Nike shoe, the "Kobe A.D."

"It's strange to think a couple years ago, to be in this emotional space would be unfathomable. But I mean not even a smidge, which I'm very thankful for, because it's made my transition seamless and I can really just watch and just enjoy the games."

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Asked how closely he has followed the NBA -- in particular the incredible individual performances by Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook and Kawhi Leonard -- in the first week of the new season, Bryant said, "I've been following it. I wouldn't say closely, but if I'm home and I have a chance to put the game on, and I'm home, I'll put the game on. I kind of know generally who is winning and who is losing.

"Players have been playing phenomenally well, which is rare. Normally at the start of the season you kind of have to work yourself into a rhythm. This year they just came out of the gates smoking. That's rare."

He also has followed the efforts by NBA players like Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Paul, to use their platform to promote social justice.

"I think it's great. What I've tried to do on the back end of that is help the youth understand what those issues are," Bryant said. "What is the system that can help you understand what those issues are? It's one thing to say we need change, but what does that actually look like? What are the issues that we need to vote on and understand?"

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No. 3: Durant on Westbrook: 'We're brothers' at end of day -- The first edition of Kevin Durant facing off against his longtime teammate and cohort in Oklahoma City, Russell Westbrook, happens Thursday night in Oakland (10:30 ET, TNT). Durant and his new team, the Golden State Warriors, will get a test from Westbrook and Co. that may be like no other given the emotional factor to the game that's hard to quantify. As that showdown looms, Durant opened up to Anthony Slater of The Mercury News about his relationship with Westbrook and more: 

The Rolling Stone article came out recently that characterized you guys as ‘work friends.’ For years, you constantly told us you two were ‘brothers.’ Which is it?

Durant: “We were brothers. We are brothers. When you do a story for Rolling Stone, we talk and then he writes the story how he wants to write it. He came up with that term on his own. That got kind of miscommunicated through the entire thing. Me and Russell grew up together. I was in the phase of finding out who I was outside of basketball. He already knew who he was. He already had a stable life. He had stable parents, a girlfriend through college. I didn’t have none of that stuff. I’m trying to find out who I am, which I didn’t know, which is not a bad thing. He knew who he was. So obviously we’re going to grow toward this way (splits arms). It’s not a bad thing. It’s not at all. We still hung out. We’re boys. My interest went this way, his went that way. He got married, I didn’t. He hung with his wife. What you want me to do? I love Russ. I don’t care what nobody say. I don’t care what he say or what the fans say. Like, this is a tough time right now in our relationship. But I love Russ. I love his family. They all know that. I never did anything morally wrong. I never back-stabbed him in real life, never did anything behind his back, never told anyone anything about his character. Never did any of that. I just left teams. I just switched teams. Everyone on the outside is looking at it as, ‘Oh, you must not have liked him.’ Hell no. C’mon man. Nobody understand that part. I’m trying to find out who I am. He knew who he was. He knew what he wanted to do. He got married young. He met his girlfriend in college. I didn’t have none of that. I didn’t have two parents in a home with me. I’m still trying to search and find out who I am. We end up going this way (splits arms again) as far as off-the-court personality wise. And that’s not a bad thing.”

But some of the criticism through this whole thing is that, after all those years together, you just sent him a text message when you left. 

Durant: “Yeah, you know, I understand that. I understand that. That’s something me and him will talk about. I’m not saying I’m right. I’m not saying I did it the right way. I’m owning up to that. We’re not going to go through this in the media though. I’m not going to say I should’ve did this, should’ve did that. We’ll figure our differences out as men 1-on-1. He’s doing his job right now and he’s doing a helluva job. And I’m doing my job. Of course we’re not going to talk every day. But like I said, I don’t care what y’all say, fans in OKC, media, whoever. We’re going through a tough time right now in our relationship. But we’re brothers at the end of the day. When I say that, where I come from, I mean it. You know what I’m saying? Every time I got into it with the media (during my Thunder days) or whoever, it was never over me. It was always over someone I was riding with, my teammates or my coach. So that should tell you enough.”

Does it bother you at all that — the opinion for a lot of years was ‘They’re not that close’ — and to some, this departure has been confirmation of, ‘See, I knew they weren’t.’

...

Basketball wise, you can make your assumptions because it’s out there in front of you. That’s the facts. But you can’t tell me what type of person I was with Russell or what type of person he was with me. They don’t have a clue. They don’t. So how can they say that? All that stuff I hear is lies. All that stuff that I’m taking shots at the Thunder or Russell. It’s just there to try to separate us. They did it when we were playing together. They tried to separate us. So obviously they’re going to do it even more now. C’mon. I don’t have nothing against Russell. As I shouldn’t. And I don’t think he have nothing against me. I don’t think he’s taking shots at me. I don’t think he’s doing anything that everyone is putting out there. It’s for your entertainment, your pleasure, your joy. I see it all the time. 

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Five, 10, 20 years from now, you expect him to be a lifelong friend?

Durant: “This basketball (bleep) is fake, man. It’s not real life. I love it. I go to work every day. I work hard every day. But when you’re talking about off the court stuff, that (bleep) is not real. What would I look like being mad at somebody for 20 years? Or having a feud with anyone for 20 years? Hell yeah, if I’m getting married, he’s getting an invite. If I go to the Hall of Fame, he’s getting an invite. Even if he don’t accept it. Basketball beef, I’m not on that. Where I come from, we don’t play around with that. So I’m not into that basketball beef. When we’re on the court, of course we’re going to compete. He’s going to come at us, I’m going to come at them. Their whole team going to come at us and vice versa. But nothing more. And I don’t expect nothing less. But outside the court, all this other stuff, c’mon man. What we talking about? Don’t come to me trying to have us feuding, or any NBA player for that matter. Between the lines, I’m going to do me and they’re going to do them. Off the court, I don’t have that much energy to be wasting beefing with anybody. If you don’t like me, you got an opinion on what I did, I respect you. I got love for you. Because I know the grind, I know how hard it is to get here.”

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No. 4: Warriors miffed over Cavs' Halloween party prop -- In the 2016 Finals, the Cleveland Cavaliers famously rallied from a 3-1 deficit to snatch the title from the Golden State Warriors, becoming the first team in NBA lore to climb from such a hole. It's a point of pride for the Cavs and something that was used in jest during the team's at LeBron James' Halloween party. The Warriors caught word of it via social media (like the rest of the world did) and weren't happy about it, writes Chris Haynes of ESPN.com: 

Certain members of the Golden State Warriors didn't take too kindly to the props LeBron James used at his annual Halloween Party over the weekend.

The part they took exception to was a skeleton James had stationed on a stage with "3-1 Lead" inscribed on the bass drum head, a clear shot at the Warriors squandering a 3-1 series lead in the 2016 NBA Finals.

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"I don't think they like that Steph [Curry] said that," Warriors guard Shaun Livingston told ESPN. "... Guys see it and everybody feels their own way about it, but it just fuels everybody for the next time we play them."

Maybe this was James' way of issuing some payback.

Draymond Green just flashed a massive smile when ESPN asked him about James' skeleton prop.

"More power to them," he said. "I already got enough fuel. I don't need more. Enjoy."

Klay Thompson, visibly irritated by the subject, sternly told ESPN, "Man, I don't care about that."

Curry simply said, "I'm just going to keep it quiet." He then shook his head and giggled.

Kevin Durant even chimed in, although he wasn't a member of the Warriors last season. However, he knows what it feels like to be up 3-1 only to lose the next three games. He stated he's not about the back-and-forth shots.

"I'm a basketball player, bro. I'm a basketball player," Durant told ESPN. "If you've got any disputes or any feuds or anything with anybody that plays the game, let's just check it up. That really don't mean s--- to me, all the jokes."

Durant said he can empathize with how both teams are feeling about this situation.

"I wasn't here last year but I obviously know from being on the team, you don't want to see nothing like that [from Cavs]," he said. "Me personally, it's just jokes because you still have to play. Just like I'm sure there were so many jokes that went on about Cleveland and LeBron over the years, and you still have to play on the court. So none of that s--- matters until you duke it out on the court.

"I understand why anybody would [be mad] and I understand what LeBron is coming from. If you won a championship for your city and you did it in historic fashion, it's something that you'll never forget. So, no hard feelings. I understand where both sides are coming from, I guess." 

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