Unanimous LeBron James leads All-NBA First team

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He wasn’t the MVP, but LeBron James was the only player to be unanimously selected to the All-NBA first team.

The actual MVP — Chicago’s Derrick Rose — and runner up Dwight Howard were both one vote short of being unanimous. Here are the teams.

All NBA First Team:

Forward: LeBron James, Miami
Forward: Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City
Center: Dwight Howard, Orlando
Guard: Kobe Bryant, L.A. Lakers
Guard: Derrick Rose, Chicago

All NBA Second Team:

Forward: Pau Gasol, L.A. Lakers
Forward: Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas
Center: Amar’e Stoudemire, New York
Guard: Dwyane Wade, Miami
Guard: Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City

All NBA Third Team

Forward: LaMarcus Aldridge, Portland
Forward: Zach Randolph, Memphis
Center: Al Horford, Atlanta
Guard: Manu Ginobili, San Antonio
Guard: Chris Paul, New Orleans

Rajon Rondo ends up as the guy with the most votes who didn’t make it. He actually had more points than Horford and Randolph, but by position he was behind the other guards. A fourth team of guys who just missed would have been Rondo and Paul Pierce (I’m making PP a guard, just to go in vote order), Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Love at forward, Tim Duncan at center.

We can have a debate if Kobe Bryant really had a first-team kind of season, if Wade or Westbrook might not have been better, but it’s not a disaster of a choice. I’d have had Chris Paul farther up, as well, but injuries and a second half decline in the regular season hurt him. It’s good to see Randolph get voted in after the fans didn’t put him in the All-Star game.

If you go on down the list of who got votes, it again begs for transparency. We don’t know who voted for whom, but you should have to defend your choices. While the groupthink of the top three All-NBA teams ends up being defensable, there are some votes that are not.

Like three people voting Kendrick Perkins at center to an All-NBA team. Perkins played in just 29 games and has no offensive game to speak of — that is just a terrible vote. Also two people voted Toronto’s Andrea Bargnani on to All-NBA Third Team, and one person gave Eric Gordon of the Clippers a vote. So did Emeka Okafor. Someone really should explain those.

John Wall scores 37 as Wizards down LeBron James, Cavs 127-115

Associated Press
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CLEVELAND (AP) John Wall scored 37 points, Bradley Beal added 27 and the Washington Wizards began a challenging road trip by beating LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers 127-115 on Saturday night.

Wall scored 18 in the first quarter, when the Wizards shot 82 percent, and Washington held on down the stretch to avenge an overtime loss to the NBA champions last month.

James, who briefly wore goggles to protect an eye injury sustained Friday night, scored 24 and added 11 rebounds and eight assists. Kyrie Irving added 23 points and Kevin Love 17 for Cleveland, playing at home for the only time in a seven-game stretch.

Washington’s victory cut Cleveland’s lead in the Eastern Conference to a half-game over idle Boston.

Rudy Gobert calls out Jazz teammates after loss: “We’ve just got to compete. We’re too nice.”

Associated Press
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Utah and the L.A. Clippers are almost locked into a first round, four vs. five battle in the Western Conference. The only question is which team will have home court, and the Clippers took a big step towards that beating the Jazz at home Saturday. While the Jazz still has a half-game lead, the Clippers have a much softer schedule the rest of the way.

After that loss, Jazz center Rudy Gobert was ticked off and called out his teammates. Via Tim MacMahon of ESPN.

“We’ve got guys that compete, but some of us don’t compete. Some of us just think about scoring. That’s what it is. … Coach keeps repeating it: We’ve just got to compete. We’re too nice. Those guys, we know they’re going to get calls. We’ve just got to come out aggressive and ready to fight.”

Interesting comments for a team that is third in the NBA in defensive rating and 13th in offense.

Gobert is frustrated as Utah has dropped four of its last five, and the slump has been on both ends of the court. The defense has struggled, but if guys are looking to score too much they aren’t doing it efficiently because the offense has been worse.

This slide likely costs Utah home court in the first round, which could matter in what will be a tight matchup with Los Angeles. Utah needs to find its grinding rhythm again heading into the playoffs, at their best they can knock off the Clippers in the first round. Just not like they are playing now.

One thing to watch, Utah’s Gordon Hayward asked out of the game in the fourth quarter due to what is being called a bruised muscle in his leg. If he misses any time or if this lingers, it could be trouble for the Jazz in the postseason.

 

LeBron James starts game with protective goggles. That lasts about a minute.

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LeBron James suffered a scratched cornea Friday night when he went up for a layup late in the third quarter and Jeremy Lamb tried to contest and caught him clean across the face. LeBron got the and-1, but had trouble keeping his eye open in postgame interviews Friday.

Saturday he did play — wearing protective goggles. As you can see above.

That lasted about a minute.

LeBron was likely frustrated as the Cavaliers defensive woes had the Wizards up double digits much of the first half.

Kobe Bryant says he’s “only a phone call away” if organization needs his advice

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For the first time since he walked off the court in his final game, Kobe Bryant was back at Staples Center Friday night.

The reason was Shaquille O’Neal was getting a statue out in front of Staples Center (a building that may not have gotten built without the two of them). The two famed feuders sat next to each other and joked around through the ceremony. Time heals all wounds.

With the new management of the Lakers — specifically Kobe’s former agent Rob Pelinka as GM — there has been speculation Kobe could take on a role. He’s not looking for something formal, according to reports, but he didn’t say no, either, when asked.

I picture Kobe as a guy who someday buys a team, not a guy who wants to haggle with agents over the details of a contract. He’s not going to take on a day-to-day role, he likes the retired life and what he is building with the Kobe brand.

That said, the Lakers front office can use all the smart voices it can get as they try speed up a rebuild. They should give him a call every once in a while.