Morning Shootaround

Shootaround (Nov. 21): Raptors still reeling after finish to game in Sacramento

Raptors get clocked | Knicks meet and beat | Butler did it | Thunder not rumbling | Green issues warning

No. 1: Clock issue does in Raptors — Sometimes you run out of time. On other occasions you get run over by the clock and some bad interpretations at the end of a game. That’s what happened to the Raptors on Sunday when bad work by the clock operator in Sacramento and a questionable ruling by referee Mike Callahan wiped out Terrence Ross’s game-tying 3-pointer and left coach Dwane Casey fuming. Mike Kantner of the Toronto Sun had the details:

“His explanation was that it was a clock malfunction,” Casey said. “I’ve been coaching 30-some years, 37 years, college and pros, if it’s in dispute let’s play five more.”

When DeMarre Carroll inbounded the ball, the ruling was the clock did not start when it deflected off DeMarcus Cousins’ hand as it should have. But even if that’s the case, there is still the matter of the .5 seconds left on the clock when Ross let the shot go.

Regardless it was one unhappy group of Raptors that were making their way to Los Angeles late last night.

Via a pool reporter, crew chief Callahan said the replay revealed there was 2.5 seconds from the time Cousins tipped the ball to when Ross made the shot. There was 2.4 seconds left on the clock when the play began but the arena clock was not started when Cousins tipped it.

Even when Callahan walked away from Casey after the game, the Raptors’ coach wasn’t satisfied with the explanation and went looking for more from the other two officials on the floor. When they turned their backs on him and left the court, Casey slammed the clipboard onto the hardwood and stormed off himself.

After watching replays back in his coach’s office and then meeting with the media 10 minutes after that, he was still looking for answers.

“I’ve got to hear another explanation better than that because we reviewed it about 10 times in there and even if the clock started once DeMarcus Cousins deflected it, Terrence Ross caught it, shot it with point-whatever it was, with plenty of time,” Casey said. “I don’t know where the malfunction came, I’ve got to hear more than that because I just watched the same review that they had.”

Casey was asked point blank if he felt he had one stolen from him.

“You make your bed but hopefully you have a rightful ending, the way you earned it,” Casey said. “The guys executed the end-of-game play to perfection, guy made a shot, you would think that would count.”


No. 2: Meeting brings Knicks together — It’s usually a sign of panic when a team has to resort to calling a meeting barely a month into the season. But sitting with a 5-7 record and a recent display of underperforming, it was probably time for the Knicks to reach for that panic button. The result was a critical Sunday win over the Hawks at Madison Square Garden. Carmelo Anthony told Marc Berman of the New York Post that words from the meeting turned into action by the Knicks:

As it played out, meetings aren’t overrated and no Noah meant no problem. The Knicks played like they had relieved themselves of their burdens in a 104-94 win over the Hawks at the Garden. Carmelo Anthony drilled in 31 points and the tag-team center duo of O’Quinn and rookie Willy Hernangomez held their own against Howard to give the Knicks their fourth straight home victory.

Jackson didn’t speak at the meeting — “Nah, he actually just listened this time,” Anthony said, “which is good” — but many others did.

“You sometimes reevaluate things and we did that [Saturday],’’ Anthony said. “Guys didn’t have to hold it in. Guys spoke and everybody responded. “I thought the players did a great job of just kind of voicing their opinion on kind of where we want to be, what type of team we want to be, where we want to go and things that we want to see change.

“You could just see the difference. Anytime you have a meeting or conversation amongst each other, guys say what they have to say and you get a better understanding of guys’ mindsets and what they’re thinking. I think it was good for us.”


No. 3: Butler calls his shots — Maybe we should start calling him Jimmy “Babe Ruth” Butler. After all, the Bulls top gun stood at the plate and called his shot when he told coach Fred Hoiberg before Sunday’s game that he was going to ring up 40 on the Lakers. Butler did just that in Chicago’s 118-110 win and Sam Smith of has that details:

So Jimmy Butler straightened his shoulders and fixed his eyes on Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg.

“Coach,” Butler said, “I’m going for 40 points tonight.”

Once that might have been out of hubris or perhaps ego or insecurity. It’s now clearly out of responsibility.

“Jimmy came to me before the game and said; ‘C’mon, let’s get it done,’” said Taj Gibson. “I saw it in his eyes, the desperation, the understanding we have to win this game, a big game for us on a back to back after losing a tough one, which we thought we should have won. I saw it in his eyes; he was intense. He’s showing more leadership day by day.”

And then Butler showed his back is strong as well as the Bulls climbed on it and Butler carried the Bulls to a 118-110 victory over an aggressive, young Lakers team. Butler scored a season high 40 points with seven rebounds and six assists. He shot 14 of 23—this, mind you, without Wade and the defense concentrating on Butler—and 12 of 14 on free throws. And then in his 39th minute on the floor after playing 38 minutes in Saturday’s disappointing loss, Butler made what Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said was the biggest play of the game, winning a jump ball from Lakers forward Julius Randle, who is about three inches taller.

Butler directed the tip to Nikola Mirotic with the Lakers having cut a 15-point Bulls lead to five in less than four minutes. Butler then took the pass back, dribbled left, was met by a pair of Lakers’ defenders and passed back to Rondo for a floater to effectively end the drama.

“I’m athletic,” Butler said with a smile. “You didn’t know I had that still. I get up a little bit; it’s tough. He was up there with me, but I got that.”

It was, of course, one play. But the fortitude and resolve Butler showed in first grabbing the D’Angelo Russell miss at that crucial moment and then fighting on the floor for it and then virtually willing himself to win the jump showed that rare quality among the truly great players that they are not going to let their team lose the game.

“He is playing with a tremendous amount of confidence,” said Hoiberg. “That’s where it starts. Jimmy thinks every time he steps on the floor he’s the best player out there and more often than not he’s right.”


No. 4: Slow starts hampering Thunder — After jumping out to a 4-0 start in the Post-Kevin Durant Era, the OKC Thunder have bumbled along at a sub-.500 pace in the past few weeks and the consistent thread is bad starts. Russell Westbrook has been filling up the hoop and says it’s his responsibility as a leader. But according to Brett Dawson of The Oklahoman, it’s an across-the-board issue that needs to be fixed:

“I think our team’s got great fight,” Thunder coach Billy Donovan said. “They fought their way to get back in the game.”

But the mistakes Oklahoma City made late were compounded by what went wrong early, and that’s becoming a trend.

The Thunder has allowed an average of 34 points per first quarter over its past three games, rallying to win two of them – against Houston and Brooklyn – but falling short on Sunday despite battling back from 15 points behind.

Against the Rockets and Nets, hot shooting and improved second-half defense helped the Thunder battle back to win.

But on Sunday, the shots didn’t fall. Oklahoma City shot 43.6 percent from the floor, including 27.8 percent from 3-point range. It struggled to get to the line – the Pacers shot 31 free throws to the Thunder’s 15 – and to hold onto the ball.

Oklahoma City committed 20 turnovers that led to 23 Indiana points. Nineteen of the Pacers’ points off turnovers came in the first half, and they turned seven Thunder turnovers into 14 points in the first quarter alone.

This season, the Thunder is allowing an average of 109.5 points per 100 possessions in the first quarter. That number drops to 105.8 in the second quarter, 95 in the third and 93.4 in the fourth. So Oklahoma City is fighting back late. But it’s out of whack early, and the issues are different, Donovan said, from game to game.

“I don’t know if our defense was as bad in that first quarter (on Sunday) as much as the turnovers, the fast breaks, the easy points allowed them to get off to an easy start,” Donovan said. “We’ve got to find a way to certainly start better, there’s no question about that, because we’re digging ourselves a hole.”


No. 5: Green tells opponents not to challenge — The latest message from Draymond Green is to opponents who think they might try to score a key basket late in a game by going anywhere in his direction. No sir, that’s an insult, according to the Warriors’ lightning rod. Chris Haynes of had it straight from the horse’s mouth:

“Definitely,” Green said. “I think that’s disrespectful to me. I take that as disrespect. Don’t go at me for game. And of course I’ll say that, and next game [they’ll] get game or something, but whatever.”

Green’s bold but not surprising comments were made after the Golden State Warriors’ 124-121 narrow road victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday.

The Bucks clawed back from a 14-point fourth-quarter deficit to come within two with 10.1 seconds remaining. It was Milwaukee’s ball on the sideline, and Tony Snell was the inbounder. He lobbed the ball to Giannis Antetokounmpo, who was being guarded by Green.

Green reached over Antetokounmpo without fouling and slapped the ball away. Klay Thompson recovered the ball and was fouled immediately. He was sent to the free throw line, where he converted the pair to give the Warriors a four-point lead with eight seconds to go. That was all the cushion needed to wrap up the team’s seventh consecutive win.

Green felt disrespected that the Bucks would target him by going to the player he was guarding, so he made sure to make them pay with a game-saving defensive play.

“I already knew what play they were running,” Green said. “They have two plays that they run in situations like that. Once Giannis was down on the block, I already knew what they were running, so I was just waiting on them to pass the ball in. I wanted to make it tough and make Tony Snell think about it. I knew once he thought about it that he would throw the lob pass. Then I just went after the ball.”


SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Marshall Plumlee made a mad dash across New York City to get to Madison Square Garden on Sunday … The often injured Chandler Parsons is back on the shelf in Memphis … Peoria native Shaun Livingston went back home to make a big assist at his old school … Rockets James Harden and Eric Gordon are standing behind LeBron James in his squabble with Phil Jackson … DeMarcus Cousins says he feels bad for fans that were short-changed by Kanye West in Sacramento.