Jakob Poeltl got his first NBA start tonight, but the Raptors rookie was already ahead of schedule, writes Ryan Wolstat of The Toronto Sun. The ninth pick in the NBA draft, Poeltl quickly moved up in the rotation after injuries to Jared Sullinger and Lucas Nogueira. A knee contusion to center Jonas Valanciunas pushed Poeltl into emergency starting duty, but the 7-footer has shown signs that he’s ready for the challenge. “How hard he plays, his physicality, how big his hands are once he gets the ball on his hands, his IQ is definitely there and the more experience he gets, the better he is going to be,” said teammate DeMar DeRozan. “He’s got that toughness when he’s out there playing, it’s great. That resilience and (he’s) willing to learn.”
There’s more from the Atlantic Division:
- Knicks newcomer Courtney Lee questioned the team’s defensive practice habits last week, and now his backcourt partner is blasting the game effort, relays Marc Berman of The New York Post. Derrick Rose cited poor communication on defense after New York let a 13-point lead get away in this afternoon’s loss to Utah. “I always said it’s our defense with our team that will spark everything,’’ Rose said. “Our defense is everything. Offensively we’re going to be fine. It’s definitely everybody being on a string, everybody communicating, everybody on the same page.’’ Lee claimed the Knicks are weak on defending pick-and-rolls because they only practice against the triangle.
- Now that Sixers power forward Nerlens Noel is assured of being a restricted free agent next summer, he could be a tempting target for the Celtics, writes Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe. Washburn says the Boston front office has been fans of Noel for some time and likes the idea of pairing him with Al Horford.
- The Celtics decided against giving an extension to Kelly Olynyk because they want to see if he can stay healthy for a whole season and if he responds to having a defined role, Washburn notes in the same piece.
- The Celtics let R.J. Hunter go before the start of the season in part because of a crowded roster, but some of his former teammates in Boston believe he will develop as a sharpshooter if given the opportunity, Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald writes. Hunter signed with the Bulls in late October after the Celtics waived him. The 23-year-old appeared in 36 games for the Celtics last year and made several trips to the D-League.
Will Joseph contributed to this posting.