Yanking Arms In The NBA

The NBA Playoffs are progressively getting more physical.

During the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs, Cleveland Cavalier forward Kevin Love had his shoulder dislocated by Boston Celtics center Kelly Olynyk. That play ended Love’s season.

Was it a dirty play? Kevin thought so, as do I, based convincingly on this Associated Press photo of what was occurring during the play. Look at that grip by Olynyk and the expression on his face.

Kevin Love - Kelly OlynykThere is absolutely no reason for Olynyk to be gripping Love’s arm the way he is doing, with his left hand and right forearm locking him in. Perhaps I am too old school, but this was never taught as a box-out move in any hoops leagues in which I competed.

As penalty, Olynyk was suspended one game without pay for ripping Love’s shoulder out of its socket and taking him out of play for four to six months. The Cavaliers did strike back later in the game and J.R. Smith was suspended two games without pay when he swung his arm at Celtics forward Jae Crowder’s head.

Later, during the Eastern Conference Finals, Atlanta Hawks center Al Horford performed a similar move to that of Olynyk. That is, he grabbed Cavaliers’ guard Matthew Dellavedova’s upper arm in the same manner, yanking him to the floor. Horford received a Flagrant II and was ejected from the game, though not for that specific play, but for what followed.

Horford claims Dellavedova was going for his legs. In video footage of the game it is clear Horford yanked the guard down and into his own teammate, DeMarre Carroll. Dellavedova stumbled over Carroll and into Horford, who, after the fall, takes an elbow swing (the actual flagrant) at the Cav’s guard and then his 250-pound body lands on his opponents arm.

The “controversy” that surrounds the decision to call a Flagrant II on Horford comes from commentators and others questioning Dellavedova’s play the night before and during the Cleveland-Chicago series.

In game two, Atlanta guard Kyle Korver and Dellavedova both dove for a loose ball. The Cav’s player ended up rolling over Korver’s lower leg resulting in the Hawks’ sharp-shooter out for the series. In the earlier series Dellavedova locked up Gibson with his legs.

Delly leg lock Chicago Sun Times
Dellavedova leg lock on Gibson – Chicago Sun Times

In the play with Korver, both dove for the ball and it is not clear the Cav’s guard landed on Korver’s lower leg on purpose but in the play with Gibson that certainly looks intentional.

However, in the first photo and video above it is very obvious that both Olynyk and Horford were intentionally taking their opponents down, not boxing them out.

It seems that upper arm holding as a method to “box out” opponents has become a common maneuver in the NBA and one that should be of concern as the potential for devastating injury certainly exists, and has already happened. Officials should take note and take appropriate steps to get that form of play eliminated from the game.

Over For Now.

Main Street One

NBA All Star Game 2015 – West 163 East 158

And, yet, another scoring record for the NBA All Star Game held at New York’s famed Madison Square Garden, Sunday, February 14, 2015, with the West outlasting the East 163-158, for a total of 321 points, beating the 2014 outing of 318 points. The teams combined to make 48 3-pointers, obliterating the previous high of 30, a record which was also set last year.

Eventual All Star Game MVP Russell Westbrook had a hot hand (shooting 16-for-28, 5-for-9 beyond the arc) and his 41 points was just one point shy of Wilt Chamberlain’s all-time All Star game scoring mark of 42, set over five decades ago in 1962. Westbrook (Oklahoma City) joins Chamberlain (Philadelphia Warriors) and Michael Jordan (Chicago Bulls), who dropped 40 in 1988, as the only players to ever top the 40-mark during the mid-season classic.

Russell Westbrook
AP Photo/Frank Franklin II

It should be noted that Chamberlain set his mark in 37 minutes of play, while Westbrook was in the game for only 25 minutes. The OKC guard did set a record for points scored in a half, with his 27 topping the previous high, 24, accomplished by Glen Rice (Charlotte Hornets) in 1997 and Kyrie Irving (Cleveland Cavaliers) in 2014.

There was another, different, mark achieved Sunday as the Gasol brothers, Pau (Chicago Bulls) and Marc (Memphis Grizzlies), became the first siblings to start in the annual best-of-the-league series. They even faced off for the opening tip, which was won by older brother, Pau, for the East.

LeBron James
Bob Donnan – USA TODAY Sports

Had the East been able to pull out the victory, the game being tied at 148 with four minutes to play, it is likely Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James might have taken the MVP trophy home, scoring 30 points on 11-for-21 shooting, though only 4-for-12 from long distance, while grabbing five boards and adding seven assists.

In a game that is totally driven by offense, with very little defense being played, the West players shot 65-133 (48.9%), with 25-65 (38.5%) from 3-point-land, and the East was 65-130 (50%), but only 23-68 (33.8%) beyond the arc. Other players who put on a show were James Harden (Houston Rockets) with 29 points (firing 11-for-16 overall, 7-12 from 3-point) with eight boards and eight assists, and Kyle Korver (Atlanta Hawks) with 21 points, all from long-range, where he was 7-for12.

Reserve West guard Chis Paul (Los Angeles Clippers) had a game high 15 assists while Pau Gasol led both squads with 12 rebounds, beating brother Marc, who was second highest with 10.

Over For Now.

Main Street One