Durant none to thrilled with Thunder’s defense

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There are certain players and certain teams where what happens at one end of the floor really impacts what happens at the other end. When the offense goes sideways, the defense follows suit.

The Oklahoma City Thunder did that over the weekend when the Jazz blew them out. And Kevin Durant told the team reporter he doesn’t want to see that again.

“One thing we can’t do is let it affect our defense and it’s done it a little bit. We’ve just got to get back to going out there and helping each other out a little bit more and playing harder. I’m the captain of this team so it starts with me. We’ve just got to make a conscious effort of coming out there and playing harder and being more locked in on the defensive end.”

Asked where he thinks the Thunder can improve defensively, Durant pointed to its help defense.

“The last game we went against a team that does a lot of cutting and we’ve got to be attached to our man,” he said. “If they get a back cut, the lower man has to help out and try to contest a shot. It’s all about helping out and making the second effort. I’m glad this is the third game. It’s only the third game of the season. We’ve got a lot more left and hopefully we’ll pick it up. A matter of fact, I know we’ll pick it up.”

Right now the Thunder sit 20th in the league in defensive efficiency, but that number (105 points per 100 opponent possessions) is skewed by the beat down the Jazz put on the Thunder. It will change and get better.

Note to Durant: One other thing you might want to get everyone working on — three point shooting. As a team the Thunder are shooting 20.8 percent from three. Dead last in the league. Need to be able to space the floor.

Thing is, does anyone really doubt the Thunder will turn it all around?

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.