Antoine Walker flubs at D-League Showcase

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Antoine Walker schadenfreude is the internet’s unofficial pastime, which is reason enough to inform you that despite Walker’s relatively strong start with the D-League’s Idaho Stampede, he looked fairly incompetent during the two biggest games of his D-League career.

Concluding today is the D-League Showcase, which is, Essentially, a matter of convenience; rather than assuming that NBA teams are scouting the D-League full-time, they gather as many team officials, NBA scouts, and European scouts as possible in one gym (along with an NBA TV-viewing audience) and trot out teams from the D two at a time to strut their stuff. Now that NBA teams are able to sign players to 10-day contracts, the Showcase is a great tool to assist D-Leaguers in their call-up pursuits.

This year’s Showcase didn’t much help Walker, though, who is looking to resume his NBA career by playing through its minor league partner. Yet in Walker’s two games at the Showcase with the Idaho Stampede, he shot 4-of-26 from the field (15.4%), 2-of-10 from three-point range, and committed 12 turnovers. The D-League is stronger than ever, but those kinds of marks are hugely disappointing.

Plenty of  NBA teams have dipped into the D-League for spot contributors, injury replacements, or hopeful additions, but Walker is in a different boat. He faces an uphill struggle for a call-up as it is; Walker has an established reputation in the NBA for being an out-of-shape ball-stopper with limited defensive ability, and this week he couldn’t even get the ball through the net. What is Walker going to offer an NBA team if not scoring? He’s not exactly a hustle player, nor the kind of veteran sage teams love to have in their locker rooms. Walker needs to make the most of all of his chances if he wants to really catch the attention of big league teams, and clanking away an opportunity like this one should serve as a setback.

Jusuf Nurkic trolls Nuggets, tells former team to enjoy their summer (VIDEO)

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Jusuf Nurkic did not enjoy his time as a member of the Denver Nuggets. His trade to the Portland Trail Blazers in exchange for Mason Plumlee was a welcome change of scenery.

On Tuesday night, Nurkic got to take on his old team with huge playoff implications at stake. Portland beat the Nuggets, 122-113, moving a game ahead of their rivals in the race for the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference and giving them the best tiebreaker between the two.

Nurkic was impressive, blasting his old squad with 33 points on 12-of-15 shooting, adding 16 rebounds, three blocks, and two assists.

Nurkic was interviewed in the arena after the game, and he was obviously happy he helped his team while also sticking it to Denver. Speaking with Portland reporter Brooke Olzendam, Nurkic took one last shot at the Nuggets, telling them to enjoy their summer.

Via Twitter:

Nurkic quite possibly sent the Nuggets packing for the year with the game at the Moda Center on Tuesday, so he might have been the guy who helped start their summer.

Still, that is ice cold.

James Johnson decimates Marcus Morris with huge one-handed dunk (VIDEO)

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Miami Heat forward James Johnson is one of the NBA’s best in-game dunkers. On Tuesday night against the Detroit Pistons, he yammed down a huge one-handed slam that embarrassed Marcus Morris and drew gasps from the crowd at the Palace.

The play came midway through the fourth quarter with Johnson at the top of the key. After a quick pass over to him, Johnson gave a quick hesitation before driving to his left and past his defender.

With the quick step, Johnson’s only remaining opponent at the basket was Morris, who was unfortunate enough to find himself between the high-flying Heat and the rim.

This is what happened next:

Morris was whistled for a foul on the play.

Watch Hassan Whiteside beat the Pistons at the buzzer with tip-in (VIDEO)

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The Miami Heat took until the final moments on Tuesday night to beat the Detroit Pistons, but it was worth it. With just a handful of games left to play, the Heat need to stave off the Chicago Bulls for the final spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race. Thanks to a tip at the buzzer by Hassan Whiteside, they’re one step closer to achieving that goal.

The play came with just seconds left in the fourth quarter. James Johnson missed a shot with six seconds to go, and the Heat grabbed the rebound. Goran Dragic then tried his hand, but he couldn’t get it to go, either.

That’s when Whiteside came back with a tip at the buzzer that ended the game.

Via Twitter:

Miami now sits at 36-38, a game above the Bulls for the No. 8 seed.

Whiteside, meanwhile, is never going to wash that hand again:

Kobe Bryant says LeBron James has earned the right to take a rest (VIDEO)

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Former Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant was a pretty consistent player in the NBA. Save for his final injury-laden seasons and the lockout year of 2011-12, Bryant played in no fewer than 65 regular season games in a single season.

Coaches also had no reason or want to ask Bryant — a notorious worker — to sit out in order to rest. That wasn’t really on the menu, and Bryant knew that.

Speaking to ESPN’s First Take, Bryant said no coach really asked him to ever take a rest, “I’ve never been approached by a coach and asked to rest.”

Bryant remarked that he took queues from Michael Jordan during tough stretches of the season — back-to-backs or four games in five night scenarios — where he could switch his game up, floating from perimeter to post, in order to save energy during those matchups.

Bryant also said during the same interview that he understands the complexity of the modern game, and that players like LeBron James deserve to take a rest if they’ve earned it.

“LeBron has done so much for the game. He’s earned the opportunity to take a rest,” said Bryant.

The debate on this subject will continue, it seems.