DeMarcus Cousins: Calipari pushed me to go pro

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It was evident very early in the season that DeMarcus Cousins should go pro. I tuned into an early-season Kentucky game to see what all the John Wall hype was about and was quickly thinking, “who is this Cousins and how can the Lakers get him?” (Hey, I grew up a Lakers fan, what about it?)

Apparently Kentucky coach John Calipari was thinking the same thing. Not about the Lakers, but about Cousins being ready for the next level, something Cousins explained at his press conference announcing he was going pro.

While Calipari didn’t answer questions on Thursday, Cousins said Calipari practically ordered him to enter the draft.

“He told me it’s my time to go,” Cousins said, then nodded his head vigorously later when a reporter asked if Calipari “pushed” him out.

If you’re a college coach playing the big-time, one-and-done recruit game, then you have to be honest with them. While for a guy like Butler’s Gordon Hayward might have to think through a decision to go pro, for a top-five pick like Cousins it is a no-brainer. And the coach has to be honest with the player about that, or quickly word will spread to other top recruits.

So Cousins is following his coach’s advice. Somehow Calipari will survive.

Isaiah Thomas nutmegs Knicks center Marshall Plumlee (video)

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Isaiah Thomas usually saves his best play for the fourth quarter, but the Celtics guard showed out early with this pass between Marshall Plumlee‘s legs to get Kelly Olynyk a layup.

Thomas uncharacteristically just didn’t have enough late. Though he scored 39 points, he shot just 2-for-9 in the final period, as the Knicks pulled away for a 117-106 win.

Kevin Durant misses dunk so hard, ball flies past halfcourt (video)

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Kevin Durant played great in the Warriors’ win over the Thunder last night, but – perhaps fueled by excess emotion – he missed this incredibly emphatic dunk attempt.

Later, Russell Westbrook showed his former teammate how to do it (sparking their apparent conversation):

James Harden outduels Giannis Antetokounmpo as they produce fantastic highlight video

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James Harden and Giannis Antetokounmpo met in a battle of two of the NBA’s best point guards. (Still weird to say.) The final lines:

  • Harden: 38 points, 6 rebounds, 8 assists, 2 blocks
  • Antetokounmpo: 32 points, 11 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 blocks

The winner? Harden and the Rockets, who topped the Bucks, 111-92.

But the real winner? Anyone who gets to watch this highlight video. It just gets better as it goes.

PBT Extra: Who do you want to see most in first All-Star Game?

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Tonight the NBA All-Star Game starters will be announced. Then the coaches have a week to vote and the rest of the roster will be put together by them.

This year should see a few first-time All-Stars, guys bursting on the scene and grabbing fans attention — so we asked people on Twitter who they most wanted to see in his first All-Star Game and I break it down in this PBT Extra.

The winner? Giannis Antetokounmpo with 45 percent of the vote. Which shouldn’t be a surprise, he’s second in the fan voting for the frontcourt in the East (behind only LeBron James). Good news for those fans, the Greek Freak is almost guaranteed to be a starter, he’s getting plenty of media votes and likely a lot from the players as well.

Second place in the poll? Joel Embiid of the Sixers. I’d love to see him, but will players and media members vote in a guy on a minutes restriction? Will the coaches pick him for that same reason? He is on the bubble.