Phil Jackson likes Jordan the owner

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In what can only be described as the opposite of a stunning revelation, Phil Jackson has said good things about Michael Jordan. This time it was about Jordan the team owner.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for him,” Jackson said before the Los Angeles Lakers’ game against the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday. “I think it’s also an opportunity for Charlotte to get to kind of embrace basketball again. This was a team that led the NBA in attendance for maybe 10 years. They had a big arena, they fell in love with their Hornets team back in the late ’80s and ’90s and they had some great draft picks and they had some wonderful runs with their team….

“As far as ownership goes and general manager, I think there are a lot of players that are capable of doing that job,” Jackson said. “You just have to be able to connive a little bit and be able to manipulate agents and I think those are things that it takes a poker player sometimes to do that….

“I don’t think there’s any discussion about knowing talent,” Jackson said. “He sees talent and knows talent pretty well. I think he understands that concept. I think a lot of key players see those ingredients in other players that can match that [like] Jerry West kind of picking up on Kobe Bryant being that kind of a player when he was a high school guy.”

Michael Jordan picked up on Kwame Brown as a high school guy and… okay, bad example.

Jackson gets asked about Jordan in pregame talks all the time (usually in comparing him to Kobe or LeBron James). You can still sense the respect there when he talks about Jordan. And he almost never says a bad word about him. But then, as a coach, you don’t want to cross an owner (unless Jackson is talking about Mark Cuban, then all bets are off).

Tyronn Lue says he has secret plan to fix Cavaliers’ defense for playoffs

AP Photo/Phil Long
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Only one team that ranked outside the top 12 in points allowed per possession during the regular season won an NBA title. The 2000-01 Lakers, who were 21st in defensive rating, are the lone outlier.

The Cavaliers rank 22nd in defensive rating this season and have been even worse lately.

But Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue says he has a plan. He just won’t reveal it yet.

Lue, via Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:

“We’ve got to hold back. We can’t show our hand early because … these are some good teams and we don’t want them to be able to come into a series and be able to adjust to what we do. We just have to be able to play our normal defense until we get there and then we will see what happens.”

Also:

“I think the rebounding hurt us. Rebounding. But it will be different once some other things happen. … Their two-guards, their threes, they still crashed the boards. But we have something to fix that. Just not right now.”

What precisely those plans are, Lue wouldn’t tell us. And here’s the other part — he’s not exactly sure they’ll work.

“I’m not confident, but we’ve got to” get the defense fixed, Lue said. “We have to.”

The Cavs ranked just 10th in defensive rating last season, among the worst marks for an eventual champion. But they cranked up their defense in the playoffs, especially late. Cleveland held the Raptors 4.8 points per 100 possessions below their regular-season scoring rate and the Warriors 7.8 below theirs.

Lue also unleashed a 3-point-heavy attack in the playoffs last year after sitting on the strategy through the regular season.

So, I have some faith Lue will implement a better defensive gameplan when it counts. It also helps to have LeBron James, who can still play elite defense when not in the slog of a long regular season.

But the Cavaliers’ defensive deficiencies right now are glaring. This roster appears to lack defensive potential, and their many miscues keep them well below whatever that potential is.

The challenge in elevating this defense to championship-caliber will be immense, maybe even unprecedented.

Mavericks’ Salah Mejri dunks while getting shoved in the gut (video)

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The Mavericks built a 13-point lead over the Thunder with 3:30left thanks to plays like this Salah Mejri dunk on Nick Collison.

Unfortunately for Dallas, Russell Westbrook happened.

Willy Hernangomez dunks on Andre Drummond, Pistons’ playoff chances (video)

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Andre Drummond and the Pistons couldn’t slow down anything.

Not Willy Hernangomez. Not the Knicks. Not Detroit’s plummeting playoff hopes.

After a 109-95 loss to the Knicks last night, the Pistons — who’ve lost four straight and seven of eight — are 1.5 games and two teams out of playoff position.

Terrence Ross 360 dunks his way back into Raptors fans’ hearts (video)

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In his first appearance in Toronto since the Raptors traded him to the Magic, Terrence Ross did what he has done best throughout his career: Delight Toronto fans with a dunk.

And of course the fans appreciated it, because their Raptors cruised to a 131-112 win.