Could Barcelona hang in the NBA?

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Barcelona, the defending champions of EuroLeague, just knocked off the two-time defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers Thursday.

Europe’s best beat the NBA’s best 92-88. They did it on a night the Lakers starters got some real run — Lamar Odom played 41 minutes, Pau Gasol 36 and Kobe Bryant 25. Barcelona did it by holding the Lakers to 34 percent shooting and LA was 0-for-14 from beyond the arc.

Of course, this is just the second preseason game for the Lakers, while Barcelona has already started its league season. The Lakers rested Kobe and others for key stretches. This was not the Lakers the Celtics faced last June. There are a lot of reasons — or excuses, if you prefer — that the Lakers lost.

But it raises the question: Could Barcelona hang in the NBA?

Phil Jackson isn’t sold, as quoted at NBA.com.

“They played really well, but they’re not up to the competition that we face night in and night out,” Jackson said. “But that’s not taking anything away from them. The physicality of our game, the size of our players, those are things that night in and night out are very difficult to contest.”

Kobe on the other hand thinks Barcelona could hang — and as you read this you can almost hear Kobe rolling his eyes.

“I don’t know why he says these things sometimes,” Bryant said. “”I think they execute extremely well, they know each other extremely well, they move the ball extremely well and that’s what you’re looking for. In the NBA, teams that do that are few and far in between, teams that play together as a unit. You see a lot of isolation game; you see a lot of guys going one-on-one. They do a great job moving the ball, they do a great job helping each other defensively, so I disagree, but, what do I know?”

Barcelona plays with motion that maybe only Utah matches in the NBA. And they have some talented guys — Juan Carlos Navarro looked pretty good, much better than the heralded Ricky Rubio who was 0-5 from the field and had just three assists in 18 minutes.

But they feel like a collection of good NBA role players. Over the course of the season you need your stars to win games in the NBA. Come the playoffs those guys who can lift their game matter more.

Barcelona would not embarrass itself in the NBA, but it would be a team fighting for the eighth seed at best. So it can hang, to answer our headline question. But if there were a true World Championships series, the NBA would win. Handily.

PBT Extra: Fan votes from twitter on MVP, other awards

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We reached the middle of the NBA season, which is a good time to consider where things stand for the end-of-season awards such as MVP, Rookie of the Year, and Coach of the Year. We have made our picks and even broken them down in a podcast.

Now it was time to ask you who you thought should win awards.

I put it out there on Twitter in some polls, and I cover your responses in this PBT Extra. I’m with you on Brad Stevens for Coach of the Year, although I think it’s close. Did you choose LeBron James or James Harden for MVP? Watch and find out.

Michael Carter-Williams and Tim Frazier ejected for altercation, leading to hilarious Dwight Howard free throws (video)

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Jason Smith pushed down Michael Carter-Williams while going for a rebound. Carter-Williams pulled Smith to the floor. Tim Frazier flew in heated.

It was more than a typical NBA altercation – Carter-Williams clenched his fist, though never swung – but it wasn’t quite a fight. It was just reserves getting feisty late in a blowout, the Hornets’ 133-109 win over the Wizards on Wednesday. Carter-Williams and Frazier were given double technical fouls and ejected.

One catch: Smith was called for personally fouling Carter-Williams, who was due free throws. With Carter-Williams unavailable, Washington could pick his replacement at the line.

Wizards coach Scott Brooks chose Dwight Howard, a poor free-throw shooter who’d been resting the entire fourth quarter and surely figured his night was over. Maybe it was only about Howard’s team-worst 53% shooting from the line, but it’s also possible Brooks was trying to make an opponent uncomfortable.

The Charlotte crowd went wild, and Howard only added to the fervor.

He sunk both free throws – padding his stats (18 points, 15 rebounds, two blocks and two steals) – and blew Brooks a kiss. Howard might appreciate the extra points Brooks afforded him, but they’ll likely come at a cost. Howard celebrated with the Sam Cassell/big-balls dance, which usually draws a fine from the NBA.

Kent Bazemore hits game-winner to lift Hawks over Pelicans (video)

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Just when it seemed as if the Pelicans were rolling… they lose to the lowly Hawks.

This was the second game of a back-to-back after beating the Celtics in overtime, and New Orleans looked the part, blowing a 15-point lead in the final 19 minutes.

Kent Bazemore‘s jumper with 2.1 seconds left stood as the game-winner when DeMarcus Cousins missed a rushed post-up on the other end.

Jalen Rose calls Paul Pierce petty to his face (video)

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Paul Pierce is being petty about Isaiah Thomas‘ tribute video.

And that’s from someone who empathizes with Pierce’s point of view.

When retiring a player’s number, teams tastefully use stoppages to show highlights and tributes to the player. The whole night, not just the moment of raising a number into the rafters, can be about celebrating the player. It’s reasonable for Pierce to want the entire package.

But to go on television and advocate for not showing Thomas’ video? To continue the campaign after Thomas made clear how important his video was to him? To tell the Celtics not to show a short video for Thomas during introductions?

It’s way too far.

Too many people around Pierce enabled his flawed approach. Jalen Rose put that to a pointed stop.

Rose on ESPN:

I’ve got say a word for you, fam. I think it was petty.

On Paul Pierce’s part.

I love Paul. This is my brother. Because to me, there are going to be all type of announcements that happen in the 48 minutes during that game. All types. Including Isaiah Thomas could be one of them. It does not take away from your situation. Like Kobe’s, it happened during the game. Because they’re doing yours post-game.

The look on Pierce’s face while Rose was talking!