Like Rondo did, Wall needs veteran presence

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Like Rondo did, Wall needs veteran presence

BOSTON Washington point guard John Wall has similar Maserati-like speed on the basketball court akin to another former playmaking stud at the University of Kentucky, Boston's Rajon Rondo.

But in seeing where Rondo is as a player, and where Wall's at, there is one difference that will make it all the more challenging for Wall to develop into an upper echelon point guard like Rondo.

It's experience; no, not his experience but rather, the experience of those around him.

The average Celtic is 28.5 years old, while the average Wizards (0-4) player is 25 years old.

The gap is even wider when you compare the C's starters are 32.6 years of age compared to 25.4 for the Wizards.

For all the growth that we have seen in Rondo's game, it just wouldn't have happened if not for the many veterans he has constantly been surrounded with as a Celtic.

Wall hasn't been so fortunate.

"Rondo really developed his first three years," said Wizards coach Flip Saunders. "You hope that John can continue, as far as doing those things."

But Saunders points out the biggest hurdle that will make Wall's development a lot tougher than Rondo's progress.

"Rondo came into a situation with 3 Hall of Fame players," Saunders said. "(Ray) Allen, (Kevin) Garnett and (Paul) Pierce all all going to be hall of fame players. John didn't walk into that type of situation. John has more pressure on him."

And that pressure has at times gotten the best of Wall, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 NBA draft.

Although he is Washington's top scorer at 14.5 points per game, he has been among the many Wizards players struggling to make shots.

He comes into tonight's game shooting just 32 percent from the field.

"He needs to relax a little bit. He's forcing some things," Saunders said. "He wants it so bad. We've always known that; that he has a tendency to get down on himself when things are going bad. He's a perfectionist. And when he's not playing well, he's the hardest on himself, as anybody. He just needs to kind of let happen."

In other words, he's like . . . Rondo.

The two former Wildcats spent some time together on campus this summer, playing in pick-up games.

"He's (Rondo) somebody that knows how to win at this level," Wall told CSNNE.com. "He just learned and got better year by year. That's what I'm trying to do."

Both Saunders and Rondo believe Wall will continue to improve.

He showed signs of getting on track in Boston's 94-86 win, a game in which he had 19 points, eight assists and seven rebounds.

Wall was good; but Rondo?

Even better.

Not only did Rondo and the C's get the win, but Rondo tallied his first triple-double of the season (14th of his career) with 18 points, 14 assists and 11 rebounds.

And while Rondo believes in Wall's talent, not having more veterans around him will make his growth as an elite player much tougher.

"I had veteran guys back me up and I played with," Rondo said. "So they've helped me mature as a player each year. Not a knock on the players he's playing with, but having veteran players is big for a young guy. I've been around these guys for four or five years now. I've seen their work habits. I've seen how they've matured and helped me mature as a man."

Warriors force Game 7 with 108-101 win over Thunder

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Warriors force Game 7 with 108-101 win over Thunder

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Klay Thompson made a playoff-record 11 3-pointers and scored 41 points, and the defending champion Golden State Warriors forced a seventh game in the Western Conference finals with a 108-101 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday night.

Stephen Curry bounced back from a slow start to finish with 29 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists.

The Warriors, who set the league's regular-season record with 73 wins, will host Game 7 on Monday. The winner will play Cleveland in the NBA Finals.

Oklahoma City dominated Games 3 and 4 at home, but the Warriors made 21 of 44 3-pointers on Saturday, while Oklahoma City was 3 of 23.

Kevin Durant scored 29 points and Russell Westbrook added 28 for the Thunder. But Durant made just 10 of 31 shots and Westbrook was 10 of 27.

Trying to become the 10th team to overcome a 3-1 deficit, the Warriors trailed much of the game and trailed by eight going to the fourth quarter.

Thompson kept them in it with four 3-pointers in just over seven minutes to start the period. Curry then hit two 3s, the second of which tied the game at 99 with 2:47 to play.

Thompson's 3 with 1:35 to play put the Warriors up 104-101.

The Thunder, who blew a number of fourth-quarter leads during the regular season, fell apart in the final minutes after Golden State had finally gone ahead for good.

Westbrook lost control of the ball, and after Thompson missed a 3, Westbrook turned the ball over again. Curry's layup with 14.3 seconds to play put the Warriors up by five, the Thunder turned it over again, and the Warriors were in the clear.

The Thunder led 23-20 after one quarter, then seized momentum early in the second. Steven Adams' powerful one-handed dunk on Draymond Green drew a roar from the crowd and gave Oklahoma City a 37-28 lead. Green, who had hit Adams in the groin area twice during the series, was a constant target for the vocal Thunder fans.

Thompson opened the second half with back-to-back 3-pointers to give the Warriors a 54-53 edge, but the Thunder closed the quarter strong and led 83-75 heading into the fourth.

Pelicans guard Bryce Dejean-Jones shot and killed

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Pelicans guard Bryce Dejean-Jones shot and killed

By Kurt Helin, NBC Pro Basketball Talk

This is a sad and stunning development.

Bryce Dejean-Jones, the rookie guard of the New Orleans Pelicans, has died, the Dallas, Texas, County Coroner has confirmed to NBC Sports. Travis Hines of the Ames Tribune broke the news.

Dejean-Jones was just 23.

The coroner’s office would not give a cause of death, but Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports had the tragic detail.