Dallas Mavericks v Miami Heat

Tyson Chandler tweaks ankle against Sixers, out two games

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UPDATED: March 2, 2:11 pm: The good news is that X-rays on Chandler’s ankle were negative. But the bad news is he will be out at least two more games, according to the Dallas Morning News. Those games are against the Pacers and the surging Grizzlies. That Grizzlies game starts a four-games-in-five-nights stretch for Dallas, so it is possible Chandler will be rested more.

March 1, 8:31 pm: Scary moment for the Mavs on Tuesday night: during the second quarter of their game against the Philadelphia 76ers, center Tyson Chandler landed awkwardly on his right ankle and looked to be in a considerable amount of pain. Chandler attempted to stand up on his own, but eventually returned to the floor as he waited to be examined by the Mavs’ training staff.

However, Chandler’s injury wasn’t deemed to be too serious. According to Earl K. Sneed of Mavs.com, Chandler was diagnosed with an ankle sprain, and though he won’t return to the game tonight, it’s unlikely that he’ll miss considerable time. Dallas doesn’t play again until Friday, which should give Chandler plenty of time to rest his ankle. That said, all of this is based only on the training staff’s initial determination of Chandler’s injury, and his status could change with more time for assessment.

For now, the Mavs can breathe a sigh of relief. Although Dallas is deeper in the middle than most (having Brendan Haywood and Ian Mahinmi available on the bench is a significantly better center outlook than most teams can claim), Chandler is the unquestioned leader of the Mavs’ eighth-ranked defense. Haywood is a very solid defender in his own right, but he isn’t as athletic as Chandler, and not as capable of challenging ball-handlers on the pick-and-roll and recovering in time to defend the paint. Chandler is one of those uncanny defenders who can seem to be everywhere at once, and his ability to defend the interior compares with that of Dwight Howard and Kevin Garnett. Chandler can’t claim a defensive impact quite as profound as those two, but his impact on Dallas’ defense is similar.

The Mavs are among the best teams in the West, but a hard fall for Chandler (or Dirk Nowitzki) is all it would take for Dallas’ season to come crashing down. Injuries to other players would derail the Mavericks’ contending hopes, but Chandler’s play this season has made him an irreplaceable element. Dallas could try to make do with Haywood and Mahinmi, but neither can do what Chandler does for the team’s defense, just as no other player could do what Nowitzki does for the offense.

LeBron James says he doesn’t see Cavaliers-Warriors as rivalry

CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 25: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers passes while under pressure from Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors during the first half at Quicken Loans Arena on December 25, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. 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. Mandatory copyright notice. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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Tyronn Lue said Cavaliers-Warriors could eventually match Celtics-Lakers as a rivalry.

First, if you ask LeBron James, Cleveland-Golden State would have to become a rivalry at all.

LeBron, via Joe Vardon Cleveland.com:

“We don’t look at it as a rival,” James said. “They’re a great team. They’ve been the best team the last couple years, last three years.”

“It’s just the next game, it’s Golden State,” James said. “They’re a helluva team, like I said the best team in the league and they’ve been that way the last three years, four years, however long it’s been, I’m not quite sure. But, listen, you guys know, we don’t put all our eggs in one basket for one game.”

Of course, Cavaliers-Warriors is a rivalry. These teams have met in the last two NBA Finals, played each other with relentless intensity, talked plenty of trash and remained elite.

LeBron just doesn’t want the Cavs to become comfortable. They’ve beat Golden State in four straight games – the last three of the 2016 Finals and on Christmas – and could extend the streak to five today. Beating a rival that frequently is a cause for celebration, and celebration leads to contentment. LeBron would rather keep Cleveland focused and hungry. Hence, saying the Warriors aren’t a rival.

Andre Drummond hits 3-pointer from inside Pistons’ own 3-point arc (video)

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Andre Drummond is really good at these deep heaves.

His 3-point percentage (44%) is even better than his free-throw percentage (38%) the last two years, though that says too much about his work from the line.

Drummond wasn’t the only Pistons player converting to end quarters. Ish Smith and Tobias Harris also stepped up in the Pistons’ 102-97 win over the Lakers:

NBA: Suns got away with offensive foul before key points in win over Spurs

Phoenix Suns Devin Booker acknowledges a foul as San Antonio Spurs Tony Parker lies crumpled on the floor, in the second half of their regular-season NBA basketball game in Mexico City, Saturday, Jan. 14, 2017. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell
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Devin Booker scored 39 points in the Suns’ 108-105 win over the Spurs on Saturday in Mexico City.

But Booker’s last four – which put Phoenix up for good – came directly after incorrect calls, according to the NBA’s Last Two Minute Report.

First, Booker drew a (legitimate) foul on Pau Gasol with 1:08 left and made both free throws. The problem: One second before that, Suns center Tyson Chandler should have been called for offensively fouling Tony Parker, according to the league:

Chandler (PHX) sets the screen on Parker (SAS) and makes leg to leg contact that affects his ability to defend the play.

That would’ve ended Phoenix’s possession rather than allowing Booker to get to the line.

The other missed call in the two-minute report is trickier, because it directly benefitted the Spurs but indirectly benefitted the Suns.

Manu Ginobili got away with travelling with 59.1 seconds left, according to  the league:

Ginobili (SAS) moves his pivot foot.

But he coughed up the ball moments later anyway, and – thrilled to gain possession with a live-ball turnover rather than a dead-ball turnover – Booker turned the miscue into a fastbreak dunk.

Rather than debate how to evaluate San Antonio getting away with a travel and it ultimately helping Phoenix more, let’s stick to just the uncalled Chandler offensive foul. That netted the Suns two points. Their lead when the Spurs began intentionally fouling? One.

Russell Westbrook puts up 20th triple-double of season, lifts Thunder past Kings (VIDEO)

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Through 41 games — half the season — Russell Westbrook is averaging 30.8 points, 10.7 rebounds, and 10.5 assists a game. Those numbers are insane, particularly considering his 42 percent usage rate. He has to put up numbers and do so fairly efficiently or the Thunder stand no chance of winning — and he has the Thunder on pace for 48 wins this season.

The Thunder picked up another of those wins Sunday night knocking off the Sacramento Kings behind Westbrook’s 20th triple-double in 41 games — 36 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists. The video highlights are above.

It’s going to be fun watching him and James Harden go back-and-forth in the MVP race for the next few months.