NBA 2K12 does Nowitzki wrong, doesn’t list him with elite

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The NBA 2K12 rankings are not player rankings. Their not designed to be that, they are supposed to be a measure the strengths and weaknesses of a player against what is expected out of his position.

But they become defacto player rankings in the minds of the public — and they did Dirk Nowitzki wrong.

In some leaked ratings numbers of NBA 2K12 at Dime Magazine, Nowitzki gets an 85. Not bad, certainly. All-Star level. But LeBron James got a 98 (out of 100), Dwyane Wade a 96, Kobe Bryant a 94 (is he still a 94?), Dwight Howard a 93, Kevin Durant and Derrick Rose a 92. The elite players are all over 90.

Don’t you put Nowitzki in that group of elite players?

Here are the people we know with a higher rating the big German: Carmelo Anthony (91), Deron Williams (90), Amar’e Stoudemire (88), Russell Westbrook (88) and Pau Gasol (86). You think all of them are better than Nowitzki?

Nowitzki is clearly as hard for video game designers to define as he is for old school NBA scouts. Nowitzki is a power forward who plays more like a small forward, but without being as quick. Yet, his ability to get to his spots and hit a wide variety of shots makes him one of the league’s best. He has to be ranked as such.

In maybe as big an oddity, Atlanta’s Josh Smith gets an 84 and Al Horford has an 80. Al Horford has the same score as Wilson Chandler. Horford remains the Rodney Dangerfield of the NBA.

The player with the lowest rating? Looks like Jason Collins with 45, reports the Basketball Jones. I’m not really going to argue that one.

Tyronn Lue says he has secret plan to fix Cavaliers’ defense for playoffs

AP Photo/Phil Long
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Only one team that ranked outside the top 12 in points allowed per possession during the regular season won an NBA title. The 2000-01 Lakers, who were 21st in defensive rating, are the lone outlier.

The Cavaliers rank 22nd in defensive rating this season and have been even worse lately.

But Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue says he has a plan. He just won’t reveal it yet.

Lue, via Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:

“We’ve got to hold back. We can’t show our hand early because … these are some good teams and we don’t want them to be able to come into a series and be able to adjust to what we do. We just have to be able to play our normal defense until we get there and then we will see what happens.”

Also:

“I think the rebounding hurt us. Rebounding. But it will be different once some other things happen. … Their two-guards, their threes, they still crashed the boards. But we have something to fix that. Just not right now.”

What precisely those plans are, Lue wouldn’t tell us. And here’s the other part — he’s not exactly sure they’ll work.

“I’m not confident, but we’ve got to” get the defense fixed, Lue said. “We have to.”

The Cavs ranked just 10th in defensive rating last season, among the worst marks for an eventual champion. But they cranked up their defense in the playoffs, especially late. Cleveland held the Raptors 4.8 points per 100 possessions below their regular-season scoring rate and the Warriors 7.8 below theirs.

Lue also unleashed a 3-point-heavy attack in the playoffs last year after sitting on the strategy through the regular season.

So, I have some faith Lue will implement a better defensive gameplan when it counts. It also helps to have LeBron James, who can still play elite defense when not in the slog of a long regular season.

But the Cavaliers’ defensive deficiencies right now are glaring. This roster appears to lack defensive potential, and their many miscues keep them well below whatever that potential is.

The challenge in elevating this defense to championship-caliber will be immense, maybe even unprecedented.

Mavericks’ Salah Mejri dunks while getting shoved in the gut (video)

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The Mavericks built a 13-point lead over the Thunder with 3:30left thanks to plays like this Salah Mejri dunk on Nick Collison.

Unfortunately for Dallas, Russell Westbrook happened.

Willy Hernangomez dunks on Andre Drummond, Pistons’ playoff chances (video)

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Andre Drummond and the Pistons couldn’t slow down anything.

Not Willy Hernangomez. Not the Knicks. Not Detroit’s plummeting playoff hopes.

After a 109-95 loss to the Knicks last night, the Pistons — who’ve lost four straight and seven of eight — are 1.5 games and two teams out of playoff position.

Terrence Ross 360 dunks his way back into Raptors fans’ hearts (video)

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In his first appearance in Toronto since the Raptors traded him to the Magic, Terrence Ross did what he has done best throughout his career: Delight Toronto fans with a dunk.

And of course the fans appreciated it, because their Raptors cruised to a 131-112 win.