Nuggets Martin not down with defensive plan on Durant

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When was the last time you heard a player call out his own coach’s playoff defensive strategy?

Meet Kenyon Martin.

He watched Kevin Durant drop 41 on the Nuggets in Game 1 of the playoffs, hitting 13-of-22 shots and just dropping it in from everywhere on the court (he was 6-of-10 from the midrange and 3-of-6 from three). That after Durant had his way with the Nuggets a couple times near the end of the regular season.

Martin wants Durant to get the Kobe treatment, he told the Denver Post.

“Make him (pass it to) some one else. If you have him and (Russell) Westbrook on the court the same time, make Thabo Sefolosha and Serge Ibaka make plays. Run somebody at these guys. I don’t agree with (one-on-one) – we don’t let Kobe play one-on-one when we play him, no matter where he is on the court, so why would you let Kevin Durant play one-on-one.”

As Martin told The Denver Post on Sunday night, he believes that Denver’s small guards should not be the ones defending Durant.

“He shot right over Ray (Felton) like there was nobody guarding him,” Martin elaborated on Monday. “It doesn’t matter who you are, even if you’re the toughest defender in the world, (if you’re 6-1), he’s going to shoot right over him. You got to try something different, run somebody at him. Pick-and-roll? Jump on him. For three games, he’s been having his way with us – and I’m not comfortable with it.”

Kevin Durant has his way with a lot of people. The Nuggets, like most teams, don’t have a guy who can hang with a 6’10” player with good handles and quickness who can drain the three or post up.

But Martin is right — the Thunder’s offense is all about two guys and while Durant and Westbrook are going to get theirs no matter what, you want to make somebody else beat you. If James Harden goes off for 30+ and the Thunder win, you live with it. But try to keep it away from Durant.

However, Denver’s team style since the trade really hasn’t played like that. They may need to change it. They need to change something. While Denver made a real game of it Sunday, the fact is the Nuggets have played the Thunder three times in the last few weeks and lost every time. Three more times and their season is over. They have to do something, and slowing Durant is part of that.

LeBron James finishes left-handed alley-oop with head behind backboard

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We have reached the point with LeBron James and his legendary career that the incredible almost seems ordinary — he has made our jaws drop so many times it’s hard for him to clear the bar of amazing anymore.

He did Saturday night against Utah.

In transition, LeBron gave up the ball to Jeff Green, who returned the favor with an alley-oop pass. Just not a particularly good one, it was behind James.

So he reaches back with his left hand and throws it down as he ducks his head under the backboard. Then LeBron stops and stares at his left hand, like he can’t believe what he just did.

We can’t either.

Carmelo Anthony standing ovation in return to Madison Square Garden

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Knicks fans may have had their frustrations with Carmelo Anthony, but they know how much he has meant to the franchise over the years. He pushed to be a Knick and chose to stay, he carried the franchise for years.

Saturday night he returned to Madison Square Garden in an Oklahoma City Thunder uniform after a trade this summer, and he was welcomed with a retrospective video followed by a standing ovation from the crowd (you can see all of it above).

Well done Knicks fans. Well done.

Lakers’ Kentavious Caldwell-Pope will not travel with team for 25 days due to legal issue

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The Lakers’Kentavious Caldwell-Pope missed his new team’s first two games this season due to a suspension for a DUI case in Michigan.

But that was not all. Caldwell-Pope’s came with probation, and to get out of it early the Lakers’ forward has to go through an intensive rehab program — one that does not allow him to leave California with the team for 25 days. He did not play against the Cavaliers and that is just the first of multiple games he will miss, a story broken by Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.

Caldwell-Pope was originally cited for operating a vehicle while intoxicated but pleaded guilty in May to the lesser charge of allowing someone to operate his vehicle while under the influence, which carried a 12-month probation.

On Thursday, Caldwell-Pope had to return to California to begin an intensive program over the next 25 days that will result in some travel restrictions and could cause him to miss additional games but will end his probation early.

The Lakers are in a home heavy part of their schedule, and by my calculations KCP would only miss one or two games (for sure against Houston Dec. 20, then maybe against Golden State Dec. 22, but that is in California). The Lakers next road game after that is Dec. 31 in Houston again.

Caldwell-Pope signed a one-year, $18 million deal with the Lakers last offseason, and he has gone on to become one of the few reliable three-point shooters on the team, hitting 36.1 percent from beyond the arc, taking 6.1 shots from there a game. He’s been solid on defense and a player the Lakers’ need, although his overall efficiency is closer to average.

If the Lakers are successful with their big game hunting during free agency next summer, Caldwell-Pope will not return to the team. In a tight free agent market, he may once again not see offers near what he sees himself worth next summer. That said, his play in Los Angeles has been good. And now he will not have this legal issue hanging over his head during free agency.

LeBron James is good with televising All-Star team selections

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From the moment the NBA announced changes to the All-Star Game team selection format for this season, most NBA fans — as well as most media members I know — have wanted a live team selection show.

As a reminder, this year (as in past years) fans will vote for their favorite All-Stars, and those votes will be combined with media and player votes to name the five starters from each conference. Then the coaches will vote to select the teams.

What’s different is the top vote-getters from each conference — let’s be honest, it will be LeBron James in the East and Stephen Curry or Kevin Durant in the West — will be named captains and they will then pick their teams from the pool of other selected players. No East vs. West. If LeBron gets to choose first and he picks James Harden, then Harden is on that team. Curry can go second and select Giannis Antetokounmpo or whoever he wants from the starters pool, then the captains move into the reserves pool. Old-school playground style team picking.

Who wouldn’t tune it to watch that selection show?

The NBA officially has not decided yet if the selection process will be broadcast, but it probably won’t be. The reason is some player is not going to like being picked last (or next to last) and his agent will like it less. It gets political (would Curry have to choose Durant or Draymond Green first to keep his teammates happy?).

LeBron basically said Saturday why not televise it? From Nick Friedell of ESPN, when LeBron was asked if it would bother him to go against teammates in the All-Star Game:

“I hope not,” James said after Saturday’s shootaround. “We’re all grown men. It doesn’t stop their paycheck from coming. It won’t stop you from playing time once the season starts.”

And is he good with the pick order being made public or done live.

“It doesn’t matter to me,” James said. “It doesn’t matter. At the end of the day, if I’m rewarded to be a part of the All-Star Game again, that’s cool for me. It doesn’t matter. All that other stuff is extracurricular.”

That’s the right attitude, and whoever got picked last would say that publicly. But privately… who knows? Depends on the guy.

That selection show would be must-watch television. The NBA needs to broadcast this. But it won’t. Politics will win out.