Thursday morning one liners

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Our morning look around the NBA — links to stories worth reading and notes to check out (stuff that did not get its own post here at PBT).

Free Darko’s Bethlehem Shoals is blogging the NBA season over at GQ. I know that mag is your browser home page anyway, but be sure to check out his work as the season moves on. You’ll be smarter for it.

LeBron James and Quentin Richardson got in a little shoving match during the Magic/Heat preseason game.

Kris Humphries was booed when he took the court at Madison Square Garden Wednesday night. We told you people don’t like him. (Although a few people want you to leave him alone.)

Sasha Pavlovic got the start for the ailing Paul Pierce (bruised heel) for the Celtics. If PP is going to miss Christmas Day, my money is still on Marquis Daniels getting the call.

Flip Saunders talks Warriors season.

Mexico native Gustavo Ayon may be joining the New Orleans Hornets.

A detailed look at the state of Chris Paul’s knee.

The Pistons have their eye on Keith Bogans who was just let go by the Bulls.

Can Kings assistant coach Keith Smart get Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins to really study game film? If so, he should try walking on water next.

LaMarcus Aldridge was back and, while he looked rusty, it was all good for Portland just to have him out on the floor.

The Pacers home arena has a new name. Going to take some getting used to.

Mike Bibby missed the Knicks preseason game due to back spasms. We’d comment except it would violate PBT’s “kicking a dead horse” policy.

Chris Paul and Blake Griffin are going to be very good this year, no doubt. But how good the Clippers are may depend on how good DeAndre Jordan becomes — he will key their defense and get good looks on offense. Jordan had 14 points, seven boards, a steal and three blocks against the Lakers Wednesday.

Marcin Gortat says he is not going to miss any games because of his broken thumb.

David Stern talks more about blocking the Chris Paul trade to the Lakers. I still don’t buy what he’s selling.

Stephon Marbury has become a mature team leader in China? Apparently so.

Yes, it was an exhibition game, but who hit the game winner for the veteran Spurs Wednesday? Rookie Kawhi Leonard. Sweet little 20-foot jumper.

Have you seen the Raptors camouflage alternate uniforms? That’s just ugly.

Just a little something to watch, Ty Lawson left Nuggets practice Wednesday with a sprained ankle.

Carlos Arroyo is the new Deron Williams — he has signed on to become the star point guard for Besiktas in Turkey.

Charles Barkley on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno. He’s dropped 50 pounds. He still says Barkley like things.

Jalen Rose calls Paul Pierce petty to his face (video)

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Paul Pierce is being petty about Isaiah Thomas‘ tribute video.

And that’s from someone who empathizes with Pierce’s point of view.

When retiring a player’s number, teams tastefully use stoppages to show highlights and tributes to the player. The whole night, not just the moment of raising a number into the rafters, can be about celebrating the player. It’s reasonable for Pierce to want the entire package.

But to go on television and advocate for not showing Thomas’ video? To continue the campaign after Thomas made clear how important his video was to him? To tell the Celtics not to show a short video for Thomas during introductions?

It’s way too far.

Too many people around Pierce enabled his flawed approach. Jalen Rose put that to a pointed stop.

Rose on ESPN:

I’ve got say a word for you, fam. I think it was petty.

On Paul Pierce’s part.

I love Paul. This is my brother. Because to me, there are going to be all type of announcements that happen in the 48 minutes during that game. All types. Including Isaiah Thomas could be one of them. It does not take away from your situation. Like Kobe’s, it happened during the game. Because they’re doing yours post-game.

The look on Pierce’s face while Rose was talking!

PBT Extra: Fan votes from twitter on MVP, other awards

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We reached the middle of the NBA season, which is a good time to consider where things stand for the end-of-season awards such as MVP, Rookie of the Year, and Coach of the Year. We have made our picks and even broken them down in a podcast.

Now it was time to ask you who you thought should win awards.

I put it out there on Twitter in some polls, and I cover your responses in this PBT Extra. I’m with you on Brad Stevens for Coach of the Year, although I think it’s close. Did you choose LeBron James or James Harden for MVP? Watch and find out.

NBA: Referees missed multiple intentional-foul attempts by Mavericks in loss to Nuggets

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The Mavericks trailed the Nuggets by 23 points in the second half and 16 points with 5:15 left in the fourth quarter last night. But Dallas rallied and cut its deficit to only one with 10.4 seconds left. Denver had the ball, so the Mavericks had to foul.

They tried… and tried… and tried before finally succeeding.

Per the NBA’s Last Two Minute Report, Dennis Smith Jr. should have been called for intentionally fouling Will Barton with 8.2 seconds left. Failing that, Wesley Matthews should have been called for intentionally fouling Barton with 6.7 seconds left. Mercifully, officials (correctly) whistled Matthews for fouling Gary Harris with 1.7 seconds left.

Harris made both free throws, and the Nuggets escaped with a 105-102 win once Dallas couldn’t get off a shot with so little time left.

The Mavericks probably would have lost even with a correct call on this sequence. They were trailing in the final 10 seconds and without the ball.

But allowing Denver to run off an extra 6.5 seconds and get the ball to a better free-throw shooter certainly hurt Dallas’ odds.

I’m not so concerned with the result of this game, though. The Mavericks are better off improving their lottery position by losing. It is a bad break for the teams jockeying with the Nuggets for playoff position, but, again, Denver probably would have won anyway.

The bigger takeaway: Even if players are more concerned about communication than calls, if referees can’t even get consecutive intentional fouls right, that doesn’t instill much confidence in the officials.

Rockets’ Trevor Ariza and Gerald Green suspended two games for charging into Clippers’ locker room

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The Clippers-Rockets game on Monday was wild from start to finish past finish. Trevor Ariza, Gerald Green, James Harden and Chris Paul reportedly went through a back hallway to the Clippers locker room to confront Austin Rivers and Blake Griffin after the game.

NBA release:

Houston Rockets forward Trevor Ariza and guard Gerald Green have each been suspended two games without pay for entering the Los Angeles Clippers’ locker room to confront a player from the opposing team, it was announced today by Kiki VanDeWeghe, Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations.

The incident occurred following the Clippers’ 113-102 win over the Rockets on Jan. 15 at Staples Center.  During the league’s investigation, which included more than 20 interviews with executives, staff, coaches and players from both teams, as well as arena personnel, it was determined that Ariza and Green entered the Clippers’ locker room immediately after the game and engaged in a hostile, verbal altercation with several Clippers players.  The league’s investigation further concluded that Rockets players, James Harden and Chris Paul, followed Ariza and Green into the corridor outside the locker room in an effort to defuse the situation, and accordingly, discipline is not warranted.

It’s difficult to unsort exactly what happened away from the court. I don’t envy the NBA’s job here, nor do I blindly trust that the biggest stars should escape punishment.

Ariza and Green will miss games against the Timberwolves on Thursday and Warriors on Saturday. Paul and Harden (if healthy) will be eligible to play in both nationally televised contests.

I’m just surprised Griffin didn’t receive additional penalty for striking Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni: