Portland Trail Blazers v New Orleans Hornets

Will the Hornets ever lose again?

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Before you start to freak out, I’m kidding with that headline. Let’s not bust out the 72-10 tracker yet. Though, I guess, if we started one for the 6-4 Miami Heat we have every right to kickstart one for the Hornets, who improved to 8-0 Saturday night with a 107-87 victory over the Blazers, or as I like to call them, “the Walking Dead.”

The Hornets are now 8-0, the best team, record-wise, in the Western Conference. If the playoffs started today, New Orleans would be the No. 1 overall seed. It goes on, like that, for a bit.

So the question has to be asked when will the Hornets lose again, if ever? (Joke!)

Dell Demps told me tonight in a text message answer to that question, simply “Soon.” So it would appear he’s not readying an 82-0 banner any time in the near future. Predictable for a general manager to expect his team to lose eventually, even as he’s probably giddy at the start in his first year on the job with the Hornets.

But, seriously.

When are the Hornets going to lose?

This week provides a convenient opportunity as the Hornets play a home and home with the Dallas Mavericks. A perennial playoff team that’s especially good in the regular season and has both the size and guard play to at least hang with the Hornets? Sounds perfect. Except the Hornets have kind of owned Dallas, matchup-wise, in recent history. Plus, the Hornets have Dallas at home for the tougher second game. If they can get the matchup advantages in the first game, the home crowd might carry them in the second. Then it’s a Friday tilt against the Cavaliers, who are fiesty and tough, but let’s face it, not in the Hornets league at the moment. Alone, Chris Paul is a big enough advantage for that one to swing their way.

Then it’s a four-game trip that opens with a back-to-back at Sacramento and at the Los Angeles Clippers. Yawn. The way these Hornets are playing, they’ll be able to rest starters in the fourth quarter of each of these games.

Then comes the big one.

At Utah on Wednesday, Nov. 24.

It would be fitting for this to be the big game, and the one they lose. A Utah club that suddenly seems as invincible as the Hornets. Deron Williams, Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson to match David West and Emeka Okafor. Bench depth, versatile small forwards, plucky shooting guards. It’s a dream matchup that has to be considered the heavy favorite for when this ridiculous Hornets streak will end.

After that there’s Portland, San Antonio, and Oklahoma City.  If it gets to that point? We’re dealing with something that goes well beyond just a normal hot start.

We’ll just have to keep watching and see if the Hornets surprise us some more.

After two years off court, Joel Embiid says he “probably” will have minutes restrictions

PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 30: Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers takes a shot from the bench prior to the game against the Utah Jazz on October 30, 2015 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
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Joel Embiid could be the best player on the Philadelphia 76ers in a couple of years — many scouts had him the highest rated of all the first-round draft picks the Sixers have had in recent seasons.

But after two foot surgeries and two seasons sitting on the sidelines, we don’t know how good Embiid can be. We should find out starting in October when Embiid is part of the Sixers training camp. Embiid says he feels 100 percent, but he expects there will be restrictions on him at first, he told Jessica Camerato of CSNPhilly.com during the Sixers Beach Bash community event this weekend.

This is the smart move by the Sixers — they are not competing for a title, the games in November have minimal meaning long term, bring him along slowly and make sure he can make each step along the way. Let’s see what he can do, then worry about how much run he can get in games that matter.

It’s going to be interesting to watch how Embiid, Ben Simmons, Nerlens Noel, and Jahlil Okafor all fit together up front — and which one of them gets traded this season.

Celtics’ Avery Bradley on defense: “Kyrie Irving, none of those guys scare me”

BOSTON, MA - MARCH 09:  Avery Bradley #0 of the Boston Celtics celebrates after scoring against the Memphis Grizzlies  during the first quarter at TD Garden on March 9, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts.NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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Avery Bradley was first-team NBA All-Defensive team last season, and his coach Brad Stevens lobbied for him to get the honor. Bradley picks up guys full court, pesters, and plays physical — we can debate if he is as good defensively as his reputation, but guys like Damian Lillard think he’s tough to go up against.

Bradley, for his part, says he has no fear going up against the best. Here is what he said to Tom Westerholm of Masslive.com.

“I love the challenge,” Bradley said on Friday, making an appearance at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. “I love going up against the best players. I don’t care who it is. I don’t care about getting embarrassed. I don’t care. Kyrie Irving, none of those guys scare me. I know some players in the NBA probably get butterflies before the game, but not me. I’m licking my lips. I come excited. They need to prepare for me at the end of the day. That’s how I think.”

That’s exactly the attitude you want an elite defender to have.

Bradley injured his hamstring in the first game of the playoffs last April and sat the rest of the Celtics’ one series. Then this summer his name came up in potential Jimmy Butler trade rumors (that deal never actually came close to getting off the ground). Expect Bradley to put that all behind him by the time training camp opens.

Watch highlights of LeBron James’ playoffs, Finals run

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LeBron James was dominant — the clear best player on the planet — when the Cleveland Cavaliers needed him most. That’s the reason Cleveland got its first major sports title in 52 years.

It’s the dead part of the NBA season — training camps don’t even open for a month — so why not enjoy a look back at LeBron’s amazing run to a legacy-defining NBA ring. Like you don’t have 15 minutes for this. What are you going to do, watch more preseason football?

It’s Joel Embiid’s turn to swat a little kid’s shot (VIDEO)

TARRYTOWN, NY - AUGUST 03: Joel Embiid #11 of the Philadelphia 76ers poses for a portrait during the 2014 NBA rookie photo shoot at MSG Training Center on August 3, 2014 in Tarrytown, New York. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
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It’s a summer tradition — tall NBA players swatting away the shots of young kids at camps/clinics.

Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid has yet to step on an NBA court — this fall, finally? — but he is part of the youth tradition now, destroying this young man at the Sixers Beach Bash event Saturday.

This summer Embiid has arm wrestled Justin Bieber and looked good working out in an empty gym, and to add to that list here is Embiid overpowering an average guy at Beach Bash then throwing it down. The man at least provided a little more resistance than a chair.