RIP, Terrence Clarke — Embiid's almost shot  — The Knicks!

Friday, April 23rd, 2021

  The Opening Tip

  • The basketball world and the City of Boston lost a promising teenager yesterday.
  • Joel Embiid almost pulled a miracle on Wednesday night.
  • A few notes on the Knicks’ eight-game winning streak.

1. The tragedy that Terrence Clarke won't be able to share his Boston

The Boston Globe
19-year-old Terrence Clarke, a freshman at Kentucky who was expected to be drafted at some point in the 2021 NBA Draft, died yesterday in a car crash in Los Angeles. According to reporting by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, his mother was with him for his final moments in the hospital.

Clarke was a five-star recruit who grew up in Dorchester. He was close to Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, and was a favorite among many of the Celtics.
 
“I hate the most the world didn’t even get to see how much potential you really had,” Brown wrote in an Instagram post yesterday. 
Here’s what Clarke said about his hometown in a 2019 Boston Globe profile:
 
“Boston is a great basketball city. I really want to do this for myself, but I also want to do this for my community because [Boston] has never been on the map. Nobody would say, ‘Oh, [top] basketball players come from Boston.’ I want to be the person to make that happen.”
Boston has a rich black history that is so often overshadowed and undermined, so, to see someone like Clarke speak about his Boston -- not the nationally-perceived culturally white city that has a tunnel named after Ted Williams but not Bill Russell -- is and was important.

To think that he won’t be able to represent neighborhoods like Dorchester and Roxbury anymore, and that those neighborhoods which nurtured him won’t be able to watch him blossom, is overwhelmingly heartbreaking. 

Boston native Bijan Bayne put it this way on Twitter last night: 
 
“The 02119 seldom gets a chance to stunt on the national (stage), & sometimes when it does, a young man such as Tall Paul Stewart, Jamal Jackson, or T Clarke doesn't really get the opportunity. A chance to switch the national narrative about The Bean.”

2. Daily GIF: If Joel Embiid made this ...

This almost legendary scenario unfolded on Wednesday night.

With the 76ers down three points with .8 seconds, Chris Paul missed his second free-throw, so Embiid grabbed the board and whipped it the length of the court, coming within an inch or two of tying the game.

As far as the greatest misses ever, it ranks up there with Gordon Hayward's Butler shot, which probably still wins out based on stakes. 

3. Trivia time

There have been four in-one-season winning streaks of 22-plus in NBA history. How many can you name?

Answers at the bottom.

4. What's behind the Knicks' winning streak? 

The Knicks are competent (even good, perhaps) and have won eight in a row for the first time since a meaningless eight-gamer in 2014. Eat your words, Andrew Yang -- Knicks fans are dancing in the street.

Here are three observations from the streak: 

  1. They're scoring: The plodding Knicks of early in the season are gone. New York has a 117.9 offensive rating over the streak, second in the league. Plus, the team's 9.3 net rating is first. 
  2. They're clutch: Four of the Knicks' eight games have registered as "clutch situations" (last five minutes with the score within five). In those four, New York is 4-0 (obviously) with an outlandish 141.8 offensive rating, and they've made 11 of their 15 three-point shots. 
  3. They have Julius Randle: The Knicks are +59 with him on the floor in the last eight games, and he's averaging 30-9-6.9 on .448-.421-.857 shooting splits. Those are MVP numbers.  
[READ: The Knicks are back]

5. 04/23/2019: The best individual shot in NBA history

Two years ago today, Damian Lillard hit the best shot in NBA history. Not the most important. Not the most iconic. But the best, in our humble opinion. 

Here's what we wrote at the time: 
 

This was unbelievable. This was sociopathic. This was the second time he’s done this. This was a crowning moment for a great player, an instantly iconic sequence: The Shot, The Wave, The Look

And, as it turns out, he actually sort of planned this. Here's an article by Yahoo! Sports which came out after the game, which places Lillard at dinner at his house on Monday night. He told everyone there, "I'm getting rid of those motherfuckers tomorrow." 
Also: If you're unsure of what Lillard's ultimate legacy will be, you should know the NBA has had nine postseason series end on a buzzer-beating shot. He has two of them. 

6.  Quick hits

  • We had a Kemba Walker sighting last night: 32 points on 17 shots. Highlights
  • Anthony Davis played last night for the first time since Valentine’s Day. He scored four points in 17 minutes in a loss to Dallas. 
  • Don’t bring up Steve Nash’s MVP to Shaq.
  • Check out this perimeter defense by Joel Embiid on Jrue Holiday last night.
  • Trae Young suffered “a Grade 2 lateral sprain” on Wednesday but isn’t expected to miss significant time. 
  • 🚨 Miles Bridges dunk alert 🚨

7.  Reads and podcast pick

  • The reason Jae’Sean Tate has defied the naysayers [The Ringer]
  • Among second-year stars, Zion stands alone [ESPN]
  • Breaking down the Most Improved Player race [The Lowe Post]

Trivia answer: Lakers (‘71-72, 33), Heat (‘12-13, 27), Warriors (‘15-16, 24), Rockets (‘07-08, 22)


That's the buzzer.
Thanks for reading the 269th edition of The Grip.

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