DALLAS: Cavaliers guard Daniel Gibson fired away at the Atlanta Hawks’ Dahntay Jones Friday morning, calling the play in which he injured Kobe Bryant a “dirty play” and inferred that Jones is a dirty player.
“I think that was a dirty play,” Gibson said. “He’s been known to be a guy to do that.”
Gibson has been one of the few outspoken players most of this season about the rule designed to protect shooters. Defenders aren’t allowed to step into a shooter’s landing space and instead are supposed to give them the opportunity to land safely.
Jones stepped under Bryant while contesting his fadeaway jumper in the final seconds Wednesday night. Bryant landed on Jones’ foot and severely sprained his ankle. Bryant thought a foul should’ve been called and the league agreed, announcing on Thursday a foul should’ve been called on Jones for preventing Bryant from landing cleanly.
“If you watch the tape, after the shot was taken, he kept walking forward toward him,” Gibson said Friday. “He never really turned around to see if the shot went in or anything. He kept walking toward him looking at the ground the whole time.”
Gibson admitted this is a sore subject for him, because his season was cut short last year when he injured his ankle on a similar play. Gibson landed on the Indiana Pacers’ Paul George following a shot and tore a tendon in his foot. He needed surgery to repair the tear and said Friday his foot still isn’t right.
But there’s more: Jones played with George on the Pacers last season.
“When I saw [Bryant’s injury], it [ticked] me off because [Jones] was on the team with Paul George last year. Rumor has it, he taught [George] a few tricks.”
Cavs coach Byron Scott avoided the topic of Jones because he has already said plenty about him.
“I’m not going to comment on Dahntay Jones and some of his antics he does on the basketball court,” Scott said Friday. “Me and him got into it a couple of years ago anyway. We’ll leave it at that.”
When Jones was with the Denver Nuggets in 2009 and Scott was coaching the New Orleans Hornets, he took exception with the way Jones was defending Hornets star Chris Paul in a playoff series. He also saw Jones discreetly kick Paul when Paul was lying on the court.
“I can appreciate anybody that plays hard, but when you get to the point where you’re being a little dirty, that’s the thing that kind of aggravates me,” Scott said four years ago. “I don’t appreciate that — and I don’t respect it.”
Because of his injury last year, Gibson has been one of the few voices to protest the way defenders step into shooters’ landing areas. It was considered a point of emphasis during the preseason and officials were supposed to keep a closer eye on it, but Gibson said he hasn’t seen any changes. Now that it has affected one of the game’s elite stars, perhaps that will change.
“It’s a very dangerous play,” Gibson said. “You’re vulnerable. There’s nothing you can do besides land. When you start worrying about it, that’s when you start missing shots and that’s what the defender is trying to do — make you think about landing and where you’re coming down.”
Mo Speights missed the team flight to Dallas on Thursday and had to fly himself. The first-class ticket at the last minute cost him about $400, he said.
It’s a rarity for a player or staff member to miss the team plane, but one of Scott’s best stories includes the time he made a flight take off without his son on board.
Thomas Scott, now an assistant with the Canton Charge, was helping out his father with the Hornets a few years ago when he missed a flight. Scott told the pilot to take off without him — much to the surprise of Hornets star Chris Paul.
“Man, Coach just left his son!” Paul told his teammates, according to Scott. “You better make sure you’re here early. He don’t give a damn about us if he just left his son!”
Speights did not face any disciplinary action because he rejoined the team Thursday night and did not miss any team functions.
C.J. Miles grew up in Skyline, just outside Dallas, and used to play in front of friends and family twice a year when he played in the Western Conference. With the Cavs, this was his only trip home.
Miles was one of the last players to enter the NBA directly out of high school. He was a second-round pick of the Utah Jazz in 2005, but said he didn’t decide to remain in the draft until the final day to withdraw his name.
Had he elected to go to college, he would’ve been a teammate of Gibson’s at Texas. In fact, Gibson still tells Miles he was the missing piece to a national championship.
“He says that makes the difference in winning the whole thing,” Miles said. “I don’t know that, but I guess my position was the only one they felt they needed another guy, which was part of the reason I wanted to go there. It would’ve been fun, obviously, but I’m here now.”
The Longhorns were eliminated from the NCAA Tournament in the Elite Eight in 2006.
Kevin Jones stays home
With the Canton Charge home for games both Friday and Saturday this weekend, the Cavs elected to leave Kevin Jones home for playing time rather than recall him for this Texas trip. Jones is expected to rejoin the Cavs when they return home next week.
Jones was assigned to Canton earlier this week to get some playing time. He has been assigned and recalled six times already this season.
“I probably won’t use him these two games, so it’d be great for him to just go down there and play. He was at practice [Thursday], then we made the decision after practice to send him back down to let him get some more playing time.”
Jason Lloyd can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Cavs blog at http://www.ohio.com/cavs. Follow him on Twitter http://www.twitter.com/JasonLloydABJ. Follow ABJ sports on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.