Luke Kornet’s signature defensive transfer is seemingly beginning to turn into a identified commodity across the league.
The Celtics backup middle has created intrigue along with his patented contest, the place he tries to distract opposing 3-point shooters’ view of the rim by leaping straight up along with his arms prolonged like a standard contest, solely he’s doing it from a number of toes away contained in the paint. The transfer has largely labored, because it’s generated extra misses than not.
Hornets coach Steve Clifford admitted he hasn’t spent a lot time taking a look at Kornet’s unorthodox maneuver on tape. He thinks it’s not almost as efficient as if he would do it nearer to the shooter. But although the transfer is wildly unconventional and seemingly distinctive to Kornet, his personal coach desires to see enchancment from him in that space.
“Guys are getting better at attacking it though,” Celtics interim coach Joe Mazzulla mentioned. “They wait for him to come back down and then they drive in, so it puts him in difficult spots defensively. It’s something that people are aware of, so he’s gotta get better.”
Mazzulla’s trustworthy evaluation of that a part of Kornet’s sport is an indicator that it’s arduous to search out many flaws within the huge man’s sport proper now. While there have been questions on how the Celtics would survive within the absence of Rob Williams, their frontcourt has held their very own. While Al Horford has been productive on each ends, Kornet has confirmed to be dependable off the bench and deserving of minutes even when Williams returns.
Kornet’s numbers haven’t been eye-popping – 4.5 factors and three.7 rebounds per sport getting into Monday – however he’s been a big contributor to the Celtics’ league-best begin. In Friday’s win over the Kings, he helped present the spark the C’s wanted to show the sport round. On Sunday, he produced 12 factors and a pair of blocks in a win over the Wizards, a sport through which the bench’s play was key within the absence of Jayson Tatum.
Kornet has seemed like a pure match on a Celtics second unit that has thrived all season. Mazzulla mentioned Monday that he’s bettering within the small issues that affect profitable – together with his rim safety, screening angles and defensive positioning. He’s even commonly being arrange for lobs – and whereas no one is strictly mistaking him for Williams – he’s been efficient within the air, too.
“You can’t teach 7-foot. You can’t coach that,” Marcus Smart mentioned. “Luke was blessed, so Luke’s a great player. He’s a smart player, he understands the game. You got a guy out there like that, just like Rob, he makes it easier for us. He’s an outlet for us at the rim, he protects the rim for us, and we thank Luke for that man. Luke has been doing what he’s supposed to be, he’s been putting the work in, and it’s been showing. We give credit to Luke, and we love him. Proud of him.”
Brown, Horford out vs. Hornets
Tatum, who Sunday’s win over the Wizards with a left ankle sprain, returned Monday towards the Hornets with out a minutes restriction, however the Celtics had two starters out.
Jaylen Brown was dominated out about 75 minutes earlier than tip with neck stiffness, and Horford was out with low again stiffness as he continued to take a seat out on the second evening of Celtics again to backs. Horford, although he mentioned he hoped to play in again to backs this season, has now sat out within the second sport of all 4 again to backs to this point.
Blake Griffin – who had missed 5 consecutive video games since final taking part in on Nov. 16 towards the Hawks – and Grant Williams began for the Celtics instead of Brown and Horford.
Kemba finds a brand new house
Former Celtics guard Kemba Walker, who spent two seasons in Boston from 2019-21, reportedly signed with the Mavericks on Monday. The four-time All-Star has been a free agent since mid-October, when the Pistons waived him. Mazzulla, who labored intently with Walker as an assistant, was thrilled to see him land someplace.
“Very excited,” Mazzulla mentioned. “I’m really happy for him. I know he’s been working hard. He’s a great person, more than basketball. He deserves it as a person and a player, so I’m really happy for him.”
Clifford was equally completely happy to see Walker land on his toes, however he shouldered some blame for the way the guard’s profession has gone. Walker has handled fixed damage points as he’s bounced throughout a number of groups since leaving the Celtics. Clifford, who coached Walker in Charlotte for 5 seasons from 2013-18, admitted he might have performed the guard greater than he ought to have.
“I’m happy for him,” Clifford mentioned. “He’s particular to me as a result of he’s a man who turned an All-Star participant by doing it the old style manner. He labored. He was by no means fearful about land or minutes. … I’ve informed him this a pair instances that I really feel unhealthy is with him in Charlotte, I informed Michael (Jordan), I’m taking a 12 months or two off his profession. There had been many instances in these video games, these days the place he would at all times play the entire third quarter, after which if it was shut, he would play the entire fourth quarter, and that takes its toll. I believe his utilization for the 5 years was like high 5 within the league, in order that I really feel considerably accountable for.
“But there’s not many guys in this league like him. He’s a guy to cheer for.” …
Smart was acknowledged for his work off the ground on Monday as he was named the NBA Cares Community Assist Award for the month of October “ongoing support for pediatric cancer patients and commitment to creating access to opportunity for inner-city athletes” by means of his YounGameChanger Foundation. He was given the award on the court docket previous to Monday’s sport. …
Several Hornets – together with former Celtics gamers Terry Rozier (sickness) and Gordon Hayward (out indefinitely with a left shoulder damage) – had been lacking from Monday’s sport. LaMelo Ball (left ankle sprain), Cody Martin (left knee) and Dennis Smith Jr. (left ankle sprain) had been additionally out.