Gerald Wallace, Kobe Bryant

Thursday And-1 links: “Kobe really wants that MVP”

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Welcome to 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).

After the Clippers win over the Heat, in the Clippers locker room a player (to remain nameless as this was not an on the record conversation) asked about other games including the Lakers against the Jazz. I told him Kobe Bryant dropped 40 again on 31 shots and he just shook his head and said, “Kobe really wants that MVP.”

T.J. Ford, the Spurs backup point guard, is out 4-6 weeks with a hamstring injury, which is why they waived Ike Diago and brought up Malcolm Thomas from the D-League.

Al Horford strained his shoulder Wednesday for the Hawks and he could be out a while, the diagnosis is expected later on Thursday.

Chris Bosh says all the name calling about him has gotten out of hand.

World Peace is having a hard time — getting going on offense.

Coach Lionel Hollins is frustrated with the Grizzlies defense. As he should be.

Terrence Williams is not happy having fallen out of the rotation in Houston.

Jordan Farmar had been out of the rotation in New Jersey, got a chance and put up 26 points on Wednesday.

Remember the pre-lockout trade of Omri Casspi for J.J. Hickson we thought was a win for the Kings but could work out for the Cavaliers, too? It’s been more lose-lose.

A detailed look at what Andrew Bynum needs to work on in passing out of the post. (Great work by Zach Lowe.)

Unlike Andre Miller, Danilo Gallinari would like to stay in Denver when his contract is up next summer.

The Hornets expect to get Xavier Henry healthy and on the court in about a week.

The Hawks want Jeff Teague to shoot more threes. (He is shooting 45 percent from three this season.)

The Nuggets GM is trying to get in on Tim Tebow fever.

Chris Kaman says he would consider re-signing with the Hornets. Why? Probably the beignets.

Samuel Dalembert is still working hard for the people of his native Haiti. That’s much bigger than basketball.

Aaron Gordon both legs over the mascot, ball-under-the-legs dunk (VIDEO)

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TORONTO — Zach LaVine won the NBA All-Star Saturday Dunk Contest, but in an epic night for my money this was the single best dunk.

Orlando’s Aaron Gordon broke ground with this one — guys have jumped over mascots and other players before (and a Kia hood), but by splitting their legs apart. Gordon just put both legs over Stuff (that’s the mascot’s name, Stuff the Magic Dragon, I don’t make this up) — and took the ball off the mascot’s head, went under his legs, and threw it down.

Insane.

Gordon deserved a trophy for his performance in this dunk contest.

Zach LaVine edges Aaron Gordon in epic, insane Dunk Contest

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TORONTO — That. Was. Amazing.

In a dunk contest that will go down with the all-time greats — Jordan vs. Dominique, Dr. J from the free throw line — Minnesota’s Zach LaVine defended his dunk contest title. Barely. Because Orlando’s Aaron Gordon was doing dunks nobody had ever seen before.

And LaVine was bringing it just as hard.

The two men advanced to the finals — dismissing Will Barton and Andre Drummond, each of whom had good dunks — and that was when it got wild.

There were four second-round dunks, and four perfect scores of 50. (That was in spite of Shaq, who wanted to give nines for second attempts.)

“I was prepared for four (second round dunks),” LaVine said. “To tell the truth, he came with something that no one else has done. He did two dunks that were just crazy with the mascots, jumping over them. We just kept pushing each other until the last dunk. I’ve got to give it up to my boy Will “The Thrill” Barton. It’s because of him I think I won. Because he said try to go from the free-throw line. I’d never done that before, and I just tried it. So I guess it was a great dunk. I think it was the best one ever.”

The Air Canada Centre crowd was exploding with every dunk. The two men went to a dunk-off — and got two more 50s.

“If I knew it was going to be like that, I would have prepared better and we would have been here dunking all night, going back 50 after 50 after 50 after 50,” Gordon said. “We would have been here all night. I didn’t know it was going to be like that. I was just hoping Zach was going to miss, and it wasn’t going to happen. You could see as my facial expressions when Zach dunks it, it’s like okay, that’s a 50. Like I know we’re going to have to dunk again.”

So they went to a second-round of overtime, where LaVine put up another 50 and won the contest.

Gordon was close to perfect.

Zach LaVine can flat-out fly.

Magic’s Aaron Gordon with the over-the-mascot mad dunk

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TORONTO — Aaron Gordon was giving Zach LaVine all he could handle in the Dunk Contest.

He blew the lid off the Air Canada Centre with this dunk in the first round — and it wasn’t even his best dunk of the night. Never seen this before.

This dunk contest was awesome, so much more video to come.

Zach LaVine opens Slam Dunk Contest title defense with spectacular behind-the-back slam (VIDEO)

during the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge 2016 at Air Canada Centre on February 12, 2016 in Toronto, Canada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.
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TORONTO — Zach LaVine clearly heard all the talk that Aaron Gordon or Will Barton had a chance to upset him in the Slam Dunk Contest. He came out ready to prove his superiority right off the bat. This behind-the-back slam was his first attempt of the night:

Even better was the reaction, both from Andre Drummond and from LaVine’s Minnesota teammates: