A few thoughts from a meaningless Team USA scrimmage

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I’m not sure how much you want to read into 24 minutes of basketball played on a colorful court on the stage at Radio City Music Hall. Basically, you don’t — the scrimmages in practice where Mike Krzyzewski got to tinker with the lineups meant a lot more than this.

Still, here are few thoughts heading into some “friendlies” over the weekend. Break out the bullet points:

* This was not really pretty basketball, in large part because guys had to adjust to shooting on a court on the stage at Radio City Music Hall. Stephen Curry adjusted – he knocked down four threes in the second half. Eric Gordon has played well but he likely will be one of the three cuts because Team USA needs Curry’s shooting.

* Tyson Chandler is looking good, more like his old Hornet self, and that includes a great block on Rudy Gay early in the game. The USA needs someone to protect the rim and Chandler is that guy.

* Plus Chandler had the golden basket, the game-winner in sudden death overtime.

* Both teams fell in love with the jumper and really struggled with it. Part of that is the setting, but this is a smaller Team USA and with the closer-than-the-NBA three-point line it becomes very tempting for these guys. They still need balance, they still need points in the paint, even if that comes of penetration and not post ups. Live by the jumper, die by the jumper.

* Tyson Chandler looked good, JaVale McGee did not. He struggled to find his way and his shot selection was, um, questionable. Despite Team USA’s lack of size he may be on the chopping block.

* Kevin Love is going to get some of those minutes at the five. And he will do well with them.

* Andre Iguodala was the game MVP and seemed to play well off Kevin Durant. Playing well off Durant will get you minutes on this team.

* For those at Radio City Music Hall, there was Q&A’s during the time outs with Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul, Amare Stoudemire and even Krzyzewski. Nothing serious was asked. And Nike did not ask LeBron James to answer questions in front of a New York crowd. Probably wise.

Elfrid Payton slams chasedown block on LeBron James (VIDEO)

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LeBron James is usually the guy handing out chasedown blocks. He’s famous for them, and has carted out his signature move in the biggest moments of his career.

He’s also not used to having his own shots blocked from behind, and certainly not by opposing point guards.

Enter Elfrid Payton.

During a play halfway through the first quarter against the Orlando Magic on Thursday, LeBron was on a drive to the hole with Elfrid trailing far behind.

Thanks to a pinch by two Magic defenders, LeBron had to try and use brute force a bit deeper in the paint than he wanted to.

That allowed Payton — running at full speed — to catch up and pin The King on the glass.

Cleveland still got the best of the Magic, as Isaiah Thomas hit a clutch free throw to win the game with 11 seconds left, 104-103.

All-Star Joel Embiid doesn’t need Rihanna: “On to the next one”

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For about as long as we can remember, Joel Embiid has famously thirsted after Rihanna on Twitter. Fans have tried to boost his standing with the singer, but it apparently that has not been enough.

In 2014, Embiid mentioned on social media that a “famous girl” — presumably Rihanna — told him to “Come back when you’re an All-Star.”

Well, today is that day.

Embiid is a starter out of the Eastern Conference, and on Thursday night he had his chance to speak to Rihanna (or whomever) via national TV on TNT.

Did Embiid decide to reach out to this famous person? Apparently he’s off it.

Via Twitter:

This is like that scene from Private Parts when Howard Stern hits No. 1 and he tells Paul Giamatti’s character to get lost.

Embiid had the chance to curve Rihanna (or whomever) and took it. Long live The Process.

Here are the weirdest NBA All-Star voting results for 2018

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NBA All-Star voting is over, and now we have the results. The starters are in, and what’s left is for us to wait until they announce the teams after they are picked in double secret ceremony.

Of course, the NBA did release the full voting results via their PR website this week, and as such there are some head scratchers. My boy Patrick Redford over at Deadspin did an excellent job rounding up some of the players who got exactly one (1) vote from other players.

The gag here is that these guys presumably voted for themselves.

Of course, what I found most interesting was actually the guys who got multiple votes from their compatriots without being All-Star caliber players.

My favorite list of player-voted non-All-Stars includes: Michael Beasley (4), Gordon Hayward (2), Boban Marjanovic (2), Jahlil Okafor (4), Quincy Acy (2), Tyler Zeller (4), T.J. McConnell (2), Elfrid Payton (2), Zaza Pachulia (3), Taj Gibson (6), Zach Randolph (5), Maurice Harkless (2), Deyonta Davis (3), Lonzo Ball (9), Mike Conley (3).

There’s a whole smattering of guys in there who either didn’t play enough, aren’t stars, are injured, or who aren’t very good.

That multiple players took time to vote for these guys really speaks to the frivolity of the NBA All-Star Game. At least outside of player contract incentives.

Bring on February!

LeBron James throws behind-the-back, nutmeg pass for assist (VIDEO)

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LeBron James is one of the best passers the NBA has ever seen, but even this is too hard to believe.

During Thursday’s game between the Orlando Magic and Cleveland Cavaliers, LeBron through a ridiculous behind-the-back pass that nutmegged Orlando’s Aaron Gordon.

The result of the play was a bucket for Dwyane Wade.

Via Twitter:

I mean, that’s just … insane.