Puerto Rico World All-Star game postponed, stick fork in tour

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So much for that “see how much money we can make without the NBA” tour.

After seemingly half the stars in the World All-Star Classic constellation pulled out in the past week, the first game — scheduled for Sunday in Puerto Rico — and the entire series now has been sucked into a black hole. Sadly just hours after the NBA labor talks blew up — apparently the basketball gods don’t want us to watch games.

Ric Bucher at ESPN has the report:

The six-game, four-continent World All-Star Classic exhibition tour featuring two squads of All-Star NBA players is on hold, with Sunday’s scheduled game in San Juan, Puerto Rico, postponed indefinitely, sources said.

The other five games on the tour, scheduled for London, Macau and Australia, already had been pushed back until late November, sources said. There was hope the game in San Juan could be salvaged and serve as proof to the other venues and investors that Atlanta businessman Cal Darden and his son, Cal, Jr., were capable of pulling off the event.

First it was Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook who pulled out before even the official announcement went out. That was followed by LeBron James, Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony backing out, then just in the last 24 hours it was Dwight Howard’s turn to get out. Kevin Durant was rumored to be on the fence — and he’s played anywhere and everywhere this summer. With the players being promised six figures and up to $1 million to do the tour (and giving them a platform to promote their brand internationally), for them to bail means something smelled fishy to them and their agents.

Some big names were still attached — Kobe Bryant, Blake Griffin, Kevin Garnett — but that was not going to be enough.

Part of the players backing out seemed to be tied to optimism around the finalizing of an NBA labor deal. Now that has blown up again, at least for a little while, and it remains to be seen if that can breathe a little more life into it.

Probably not. It was a grandiose plan, but it has fallen like a Jenga tower. And all the king’s horses and all the king’s men….

Warriors complained of no water in showers in Cleveland

Michael Hickey/Getty Images
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The Cavaliers are clearly frustrated.

Did someone in Cleveland take out that frustration on the Warriors after they beat the Cavs last night?

Chris Haynes of ESPN:

Players were complaining about there being no hot water in the visiting locker room showers. When they walked in, they could be heard screaming in discomfort. Most of the players emerged shivering from taking a quick wash-off.

“Man, they got to do something in ‘The Q.’ Somebody call Bron!” Kevin Durant yelled, referring to LeBron James.

No one seemed angry; the situation was more humorous.

That’s the right approach. Whenever the hot water is out in a visiting locker room, the finger is pointed at the home team for sabotage. Sometimes, heating systems just fail.

Giannis Antetokounmpo assists fastbreak dunk with football-style long snap (video)

AP Photo/Nick Wass
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Giannis Antetokounmpo is scoring more in the post, the basketball analogue of football’s trenches.

Apparently, he’s taking the comparison to the next level.

In the Bucks’ win over the Wizards yesterday, Antetokounmpo played the part of a long-snapping center to set up Khris Middleton in transition.

NBC Sports Washington:

Report: James Harden, Chris Paul and Gerald Green were holding back Trevor Ariza in back hallway

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Rockets players James Harden, Trevor Ariza, Gerald Green and Chris Paul reportedly went through a back hallway to confront Austin Rivers and Blake Griffin in the Clippers’ locker room after last night’s game.

That’s one version of the story, at least.

But it apparently isn’t the only one – at least when it comes to Harden’s, Green’s and Paul’s involvement.

Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated:

A hallway runs between the Clippers locker room and the visitors locker room, where players from opposing teams often see each other and catch up. According to a Rockets source, Ariza was waiting on Griffin, and when the game ended he charged from the hallway into the Clips locker room. When Rivers spotted Ariza near the entrance, according to the source, he said: “Let his b—– a– come in.” Ariza then turned his attention to Rivers.

ESPN reported that Ariza was flanked by three teammates—Harden, Paul and Gerald Green—but their purpose was unclear. “They were holding Trevor back,” the source said.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Harden was sitting out his seventh straight game with a strained hamstring on Monday night, and Rockets sources believe that he’ll be ready for a return to the lineup on Thursday night against Minnesota.

Austin Rivers challenging Ariza is juicy, but the type of thing people say during altercations. The rest of this sounds like the Rockets trying to position themselves ahead of the NBA handing down punishments.

If they were just trying to restrain Ariza, then Harden, Paul and Green shouldn’t be fined or suspended. But if Harden is suspended, he could serve his penalty Thursday – even if the Rockets are fibbing about him being ready to play (though they at least previously laid the groundwork for that one).

There’s a lot for the league to untangle.

Russell Westbrook ejected (video)

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Russell Westbrook jumped from fifth to second in the NBA in technical fouls in about two seconds.

The Thunder star received two technical fouls and an automatic ejection late in Oklahoma City’s win over the Kings last night, leaving his nine technical fouls behind only Draymond Green‘s 11.

Westbrook got hit in the face on a drive, but instead of a foul being called on Sacramento, Westbrook was whistled for travelling. That’s quite a turnaround from the expected call to the actual call, so I understand why Westbrook was so upset. But I also wouldn’t be surprised if Westbrook said something that warranted ejection. Thunder coach Billy Donovan also got a technical foul in the sequence.

Fred Katz of The Norman Transcript:

The league used to crack down on that more with public fines, but the Thunder have skirted the rule this season.