Rookies beat sophomores for first time ever

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Can you be embarrassed by the outcome of a meaningless exhibition game? Probably not. So the NBA sophomore class can still go out and party in Dallas tonight rather than sulk in their rooms. But they had better be ready to take some heat from their friends and peers.

That’s because for first time in eight years, the rookies beat the sophomores in the All-Star Weekend kickoff event, the Rookie/Sophomore challenge, 140-128.

Soon-to-be rookie of the year Tyreke Evans from Sacramento won the MVP award for his 26 points — and a couple spectacular finishes at the rim — but he shared it with the Spurs DeJuan Blair, who dominated inside despite the sophomores having Brook Lopez, Marc Gasol and Michael Beasley along the front line. Heck, when Blair was going for points 19 and 20 Lopez tackled him. And he still scored. And GMs in Dallas got a call from their owners saying, “why did we pass on this Blair kid again?” Apparently, ACLs are overrated.

The rookies just went Don Nelson on the sophomores, going small and trying to run them into the ground. That works when you have Brandon Jennings and Steph Curry just attacking and launching shot after shot. And, because this game is played with all the defense of a Pac-10 football matchup, the sophomores couldn’t stop them. In fact they got sucked into it and started running too and ignoring their advantage in the post. That’s why Russell Westbrook dropped 40 but they lost.

Really, if you need more of a breakdown of the rookie/soph game, I suggest you go outside and get some fresh air. That’s all you should need.

Report: Lakers ‘longshot’ to sign LeBron James

AP Photo/Jae C. Hong
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Preeminent NBA reporter Adrian Wojnarowski called it “likelyLeBron James would sign with the Lakers or Clippers next summer. The Clippers have since been somewhat debunked as a LeBron destination. There’s circumstantial evidence linking LeBron to Los Angeles.

Ramona Shelburne and Brian Windhorst of ESPN:

So imagining James’ last act coming in purple and gold isn’t without basis. But as of now, it’s also a longshot, according to league sources.

Shelburne and Windhorst are highly credible. I doubt they’d report this without connected sources.

LeBron’s agent, Rich Paul, and manager, Maverick Carter, have recently publicly downplayed the importance of Los Angeles to LeBron. That felt like a coordinated attack on the LeBron-Lakers rumors, and this fits as a continuation.

But why wage that campaign? To keep the Cavaliers focused while LeBron still plays for them, even if he might leave after the season? To lower expectations among the Lakers’ massive fan base, so as not alienate those people (potential customers of the many LeBron-connected brands) when LeBron inevitably signs elsewhere? Both could be true, but there’s obviously a difference between each driving LeBron’s camp.

DeMarcus Cousins barrels in for powerful putback dunk over Bucks (video)

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When DeMarcus Cousins builds up a head of steam like this… poor John Henson (and kind of Khris Middleton).

This helped the Pelicans pull away for a 115-108 win over the Bucks last night.

Enraged Jason Smith restrained from Mario Chalmers (video)

AP Photo/Nick Wass
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During the Wizards’ win over the Grizzlies last night, Mario Chalmers tried to stop Jason Smith from shooting after Smith had been called for travelling. It’s a fairly common tactic, one pioneered by Kevin Garnett. Players don’t want their opponents to gain confidence by seeing the ball go through the net, even after play stops.

But Chalmers held onto Smith’s arm, and Smith took umbrage.

NBC Sports Washington:

I think it’s more likely, after halting Smith’s shot, Chalmers was trying to hold up Smith rather than yank him down. But I can’t know Chalmers’ intentions, and holding up a falling person by his arm isn’t very effective.

The double technical foul called seems about fair.

PBT Extra: Two months from trade deadline watch DeAndre Jordan and… Paul George?

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The NBA trade deadline got moved up this season to Feb. 8 so the league can avoid the spectacle of DeMarcus Cousins being traded during the All-Star Game and then doing an uncomfortable press interview afterward where he had to be told of the situation.

That means we are less than two months away from the trade deadline, and in this PBT Extra I look at the big names that could be on the market.

The Clippers seem likely to move DeAndre Jordan, the only questions are where and what will they get back? But three other teams have big decisions to make about their stars: Oklahoma City with Paul George, New Orleans with DeMarcus Cousins, and Memphis with Marc Gasol. Right now none of those guys are on the market, but that could change.