Morning Shootaround

Shootaround (Oct. 30): Noah, Rose Happy To Get Home Opener 'Out Of The Way'

NBA.com Staff

Doc Rivers says LeBron is top five all-time | Knicks, Noah shine in home opener | Ingram has MRI, looks to play Sunday | Celtics look to improve rebounding

No.1: Doc Rivers: LeBron is top five all-time — Doc Rivers has been around the NBA his entire adult life, either as a player, broadcaster, coach or executive, so he clearly knows a thing or two about not only the NBA today but the players who have come before. Which means Doc speaks from a place of vast experience when he told The Dan Patrick Show that LeBron James is one of the top five players in the history of the NBA. As The Score recaps…

“LeBron has a different game,” Rivers told “The Dan Patrick Show.” “We’re so used to seeing skill looking graceful. We’re not used to skill looking so powerful. I think that rubs people wrong. But LeBron, statistically, championships-wise, he is one of the top five players to have ever played the game.”

James’ case is ironclad. He already has three Finals MVPs, four MVPs (only three players have more), and three championships, and the 31-year-old clearly has plenty more in the tank.

When it’s all said and done, it wouldn’t be a surprise for him to finish as the NBA’s all-time leading scorer, with quite a few more championships to his name.

And yet there remains plenty of push-back, especially from the older talking heads, who insist James would never crack the pantheon. Charles Barkley, for example, insists that he would never add James to his top five.

Rivers attributes that phenomenon to the permanency that comes with the passage of time. They’re missing out on what James is doing in the present.

“Players of the past are bigger than life to us and it’s almost impossible for us to ever move a current player in front of them. Just statistically speaking, and visually since I was the coach of the Celtics … we had a 3-2 lead then watched him score 45 (in 2012), he is in the top five. There is no doubt.”

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No. 2: Knicks, Noah shine in home opener — It took almost the entire opening week of the NBA season for the Knicks to play their home opener, so the crowd was in full throat last night. And with players like Joakim Noah playing directly to the crowd, it was something of a two-way street, as the Knicks handled the Memphis Grizzlies and laid out a tantalizing vision of what this Knicks team could be, as Marc Berman writes in the New York Post…

Joakim Noah took the microphone before tip-off of the Knicks’ home opener and told the Garden crowd: “It’s a long season. Thanks for the support. Let’s get it.”

The Knicks got it. They built an 18-point first-half lead behind Noah’s crisp passing and defense. They held on for dear life in the fourth quarter by blasting the banged-up Grizzlies with a 12-0 run to post an emphatic 111-104 home-opening victory at the raucous Garden.

It served as a successful home debut for their two huge additions from Chicago, Noah and point guard Derrick Rose, who came to life in the second half for 11 of his 13 points with an array of dazzling moves. Kristaps Porzingis staged a tour de force with 21 points, with a couple of long dashes to the hoop for baskets.

Noah’s name was chanted during the first half after he drew a charge, and again late in the contest, when he shot free throws. The Hell’s Kitchen product scored just six points, but notched seven assists and 10 rebounds. Noah, who had gone scoreless in the opener in Cleveland, fouled out with 2:28 left and departed to a standing ovation — fans seeing why Phil Jackson thought he was worth $72 million.

“I just tried to stay in the moment,’’ Noah said. “It’s really easy to get caught up in everything going around. This building means so much to me. It was very emotional for me. I was very nervous. It was the best feeling.’’

It all served to wipe out the stench of the season-opening 29-point loss to the Cavaliers on Tuesday.

“It was our defense and we got more time playing with each other,’’ Rose said. “It’s a team sport, so me being gone, we got to get used to the way I played. I was just trying to feel the game instead of forcing it.

“I’m just so happy I got [the home opener] out of the way.”

Noah received stitches to his left ear from his scrappy play. He had his ear stuffed with cotton and tape. It was ugly, but it was a badge of honor.

“Game 1 at the Garden, stitched up, I wouldn’t have it any other way,” said Noah. “Growing up here, walking distance [from the Garden]. I’ve been in this building for a lot of games as a fan.

“So just to be able to wear this jersey, it’s more than special to me.’’

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No. 3: Ingram has MRI, looks to play Sunday — The Lakers went through a brutal campaign last season, with the silver lining being that they scored the number 2 pick in last summer’s NBA Draft. So when Brandon Ingram suffered some knee pain two games into his rookie season, there was understandably some nervousness. But as Mark Medina writes in the L.A. Daily News, Ingram underwent a precautionary MRI and is expected to play today against the Oklahoma City Thunder…

The smile on Brandon Ingram’s face told the whole story. After completing a full-contact scrimmage on Saturday, the Lakers’ rookie forward sat by the scorer’s table chatting with Lakers coach Luke Walton and head athletic trainer Marco Nunez.

Moments later, both Walton and Ingram said he plans to play when the Lakers (1-1) visit the Oklahoma City Thunder (2-0) today at Chesapeake Energy Arena so long as he does not experience any setbacks in his sore right knee. The Lakers later diagnosed Ingram with knee tendinitis after an MRI revealed no structural damage, therefore listing him as probable for today’s game.

“As far as my understanding, I’ll come back to shoot around tomorrow and see how I feel after that,” Ingram said. “If I feel good to play, I’ll play.”

Ingram did not feel good to play for most of Friday’s loss in Utah. After asking out of the game early in the first quarter, Ingram received clearance from doctors to re-enter the game early in the second. Ingram only lasted a total of four minutes before the Lakers decided to sit him out in the second half.

Yet, Ingram felt good to complete all of Saturday’s practice without feeling any additional soreness. He also provided a positive report on his ability to run up and down the court and make hard cuts.

“If the trainers and doctors tell you he’s fine, you’ll play him,” Walton said. “When he’s out there and limping around, it goes back on me to take him out of the game. If he’s cleared, there’s no reason to hold him out.”

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No. 4: Celtics looking to rebound — The Boston Celtics had a great summer, signing Al Horford in free agency and finally turning the corner on their rebuilding project. So while they’re just two games into the new season, the Celts are thus far unhappy with at least one part of their game: rebuilding. As Avery Bradley tells the Boston Herald, the Celtics need to hit the boards…

Avery Bradley is not a happy man. Not after what transpired Thursday night in Chicago, or really in either of the Celtics’ first two games.

Against the Bulls, Bradley was again a defensive force, at one point getting a frustrated Jimmy Butler all twisted in knots and forcing the Chicago star to make an awkward heave that didn’t come close.

The Celts held the Bulls to 39.1 percent shooting, but allowed them 18 offensive rebounds and 18 second-chance points.

After doing most of the defensive work, moving and hustling within their principles, the Celtics are simply not completing the process by tracking down the missed shots they have created.

“Of course,” said Bradley. “That’s it.”

The same could be said even in Wednesday’s opening-night win, when the Nets stayed in the game due to 15 offensive rebounds and 23 second-chance points.

And the longest-tenured Celt has an explanation.

“We lost our two best rebounders from last year,” he said. “We lost both of them, Jared (Sullinger) and Evan (Turner). They led our team in rebounds, so we need somebody else to fill that void.”

Sullinger topped the Celts with 8.3 boards per game, nearly two more than Amir Johnson at 6.4. Turner was actually fourth at 4.9 just behind Jae Crowder’s 5.1, but the fact Turner was the clear leader in the category off the bench gives credence to Bradley naming him one of the team’s two best.

The sample is obviously far too small, but Al Horford has pulled in 12 rebounds in 57 minutes thus far. (He has blocked five shots.)

The solution will have to be collective, Bradley said.

“We’ve got to help each other out,” he said. “We’ve got to.”

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SOME RANDOM HEADLINES:

Jodie Meeks has been out for over a year with a broken foot … Part of the Kenny Atkinson regime in Brooklyn will be rest and maintenance, as Brook Lopez discovered this weekend when he got a day off … Dwyane Wade was not surprised to be fined $25,000 … Brett Brown is trying to space out the minutes between Jahlil Okafor and Joel Embiid … Thaddeus Young appreciates the way the Nets handled his situation … How Steph Curry’s new Under Armour commercial addresses Golden State’s loss in the Finals… Tim Duncan has jokes

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