Leonsis had also come to believe that Wall was, often i…

Leonsis had also come to believe that Wall was, often if not always, “too cool for school,” in his thinking. And, the shirtless video of Wall at a party this summer, flashing gang signs, was the last straw. (Again, as I wrote two weeks ago: Leonsis was a thousand percent right in being furious with his 30-year-old face of the franchise for doing such a dumb thing.) This was not a decision that could be made by GM Tommy Sheppard, or his equivalent in Houston, Rafael Stone. “At the end of the day, this is a Ted call,” one source said.
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While the Nets starters tired and Harden, Irving and Durant played the final 18:45 together, Brooklyn’s best on-ball defender, Bruce Brown, sat on the bench. Brown’s 6-2 frame made for an ideal matchup to potentially cool down Sexton, who is 6-1, but after seeing the reserves struggle in the second quarter, Nash elected to tighten his rotations and play just nine all game. After the game, Brooklyn’s stars said Sexton hit a lot of difficult shots on them and his performance isn’t a total reflection of the defense. “He made some tough shots,” Harden said. “And if he missed those shots, is it good defense? No, he made some tough shots, everybody’s tired at that point, and I think we did enough, especially in the fourth quarter and first overtime. I don’t know how many points he had in that second overtime, but I think he had the majority of them. Chalk your hat up to him.”
Irving said his time in Cleveland with LeBron James and Kevin Love taught him that resolve, compromise and sacrifice was necessary for the Cavaliers to win at a high level. Irving thinks the same can happen in Brooklyn with his new star-studded team. Like his last one, it isn’t going to happen immediately. “We’ll have good nights, we’ll have great nights, but it’s how we galvanize as a group together,” Irving said. “It’s how we sacrifice and compromise for the greater good. And that still remains to be seen. Obviously, one game is out of the way, but I’m excited for what’s to come.”
His teammates have noticed a difference in him, too. Osman has noted the advancements in Sexton’s game from his rookie year to now. Sexton is competitive on the defensive end of the floor, he’s making the extra pass and his assists this season are up to 3.7 per game. “Obviously, last year he was better, and this year he’s even better,” Osman said. “He made like 14 or 15 points in a row, and then there was good defense on him, but then he found TP (new Cavalier Taurean Prince) in the corner for a 3-point shot that was wide open. That was a beautiful play from Collin. He could have taken that one too but saw TP was open, and that was the right play, so he made the right play. You can see from his first year until now — he’s just getting better every day.”
Meanwhile, Kerr says the Warriors focused the “vast majority” of their initial practices this preseason on defense so they can compete in early games while beta testing the offense on the fly. “Training camp before was just about getting in shape,” Curry says. “Now we gotta do that and figure out who needs to be where, what sets are going to be our bread and butter, defensive chemistry and communication — everything that makes a team great.”
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