Tiago Splitter has blue collar first night in the NBA, expect more of that

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After seemingly years of hype, Tiago Splitter got a very cold reception to the NBA.

He was trying to cover Blake Griffin on the right low block when Griffin put a lighting-quick spin move on him, went baseline and threw down a monster dunk that brought the crowd to its feet.

There’s talent in Europe, but not the explosive athletes you see nightly in the NBA like Griffin. It was a fine how-do-you-do.

If Splitter did not come in as a hyped European player you would have said he had a solid first game. A workman like game. He had a dunk to get his first basket (assist from Manu Ginobili), finished with two points, two rebounds and a +4 in 10 minutes. Some will expect more, but Gregg Popovich warned against that.

“It’s kind of funny how this all evolves,” Popovich said. “Everybody knows he’s a pretty good player. He was an MVP in Europe and they won this and they won that and he’s experienced. Then all of a sudden it got into, ‘well, you got another big guy who can step out and shoot those threes.’ Well, this kid never shot a three in his life. Where did all this come from?

“This isn’t the next Tim Duncan, this is a blue collar guy who is a good rebounder, a good defender, high quality worker, a blue collar guy. This isn’t a throw him the ball and go score 24 tonight.”

Splitter did some nice things. He fought Griffin for a rebound and ended up with a tie ball. He ran floor well on defense with DeAndre Jordan. He got the ball in the post and a smart kickout to Ginobili in the corner, who whipped it on to Gary Neal for a three.

It was a solid, blue collar performance. And if the Spurs can get that consistently they will be much better off for it.

LeBron James with two-handed halfcourt bounce pass for assist (VIDEO)

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Perhaps LeBron James‘ most underappreciated skill has been his passing. He is rightly hailed as the most unselfish superstar of his generation, but being a willing passer is only part of it: he’s also as good at it as any point guard in the league. Case in point: this two-handed halfcourt bounce pass on Tuesday night, finding Richard Jefferson for an easy dunk:

Kobe gets great introduction, loud ovation in Philadelphia

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Kobe Bryant‘s relationship with his hometown of Philadelphia had its rocky sections — the Kobe’s Lakers beat the Sixers in the 2001 Finals, and then Kobe was booed during the 2002 All-Star Game —  but all was forgiven on Tuesday night.

In his final trip to Philly, he was given a framed Lower Merion High School jersey — that’s Kobe’s school, in case you forgot — and it was presented by Dr. J.

Then the fans welcomed him like you see above.

That pumped up Kobe, who scored 13 first quarter points on 5-of-10 shooting, his best quarter of the season.

Rumor: Nets testing trade waters for Bojan Bogdanovic

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If you play for the Brooklyn Nets, and your name is not Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, expect you will come up in trade rumors this season.

First up on the block, Bojan Bogdanovic. The report comes from Mike Mazzeo of ESPN.

Bogdanovic is in the first year of a three-year, $11 million deal, which isn’t bad for a guy playing nearly 25 minutes a night and scoring 8.4 points per game. There is a lot of potential in his game, if developed in the right setting — he’s a good shooter out on the wing who works well off the ball. He seems to have regressed this season, but how much of that is due to the Nets and their guard play (and just generally struggling) is up for debate.

Is there going to be interest in him? Probably. As always, it is about the price, what the Nets will demand. Whether the Nets can get anything back they want is up for debate.

Right now a lot of GMs are testing the waters for players, judging the market. That is a long way from a trade happening. But don’t be shocked if the Nets make a deal or two before the February deadline.

Just a reminder that Joakim Noah would like some more run

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Joakim Noah is playing 20.6 minutes a night coming off the bench for Fred Hoiberg and the Chicago Bulls this season.

And he doesn’t like it. He wants more run. He was getting 10 minutes more a night last season under Tom Thibodeau, and Noah wants some of those minutes back. Nick Friedel of ESPN sent out a tweet that was a reminder of just that.

Three thoughts here.

1) Reducing minutes for guys who battle injuries every season by the time the playoffs roll around was one huge reason Fred Hoiberg was brought in to coach the Bulls and Tom Thibodeau was shown the door. This isn’t just Hoiberg, the minutes reduction comes from management. While it is possible Noah’s spot in the rotation shifts (he could start at some point) and he might get a little more run, the Thibodeau era is gone.

2) There are legit reasons for Noah to want to play. First, he is a competitor who doesn’t like sitting. Second, the Bulls’ defense is elite when he plays (allowing 95.5 points per 100 possessions) and the Bulls outscore opponents by 1.3 per 100 when he plays. Finally, Noah is in the final year of his contract and scoring just 3.1 points per game is not going to help him earn more cash in the next deal.

3) Barring injury to another big, don’t expect a change.