Wednesday And-1 links: Who do you think is the MVP?

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Here is our daily 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).

I said yesterday that right now LeBron James is my MVP choice, who would you pick? We’re taking votes here at NBCSports.com.

Baron Davis would like Knicks fans to stop booing the team. Good luck with that.

Ranking the rookies.

Jonny Flynn said all the Ricky Rubio hype in Minnesota hurt his stock in the NBA. Maybe what most hurt his stock was his play.

D.J. Augustin is going to be out the next three games for the Bobcats, he missed Tuesday night’s loss to the Knicks as well.

Vin Baker is suing his former financial adviser for that $86 million he lost.

How is DeMarcus Cousins progressing? Here’s a great breakdown from Kevin Pelton.

These Grizzlies are grinders. And winners.

Add J.J. Hickson to the list of guys not getting an extension to his rookie deal from his team.

Great story on the Phoenix Suns training staff — which keeps Steve Nash going, breathed new live into Shaq and is a draw for veteran players.

Pretty soon the Hornets may play at Louisiana Seafood Arena. Seriously. Nicknames start behind The Gumbo Bowl.

Win fans free food at the end of games, become a cult hero.

Metta World Peace is still signing autographs as Ron Artest. Why would I want that?

Pau Gasol wants the Lakers offense to be more like the Orlando offense. One big problem here — Orlando makes you pay when you collapse the defense on Dwight Howard as they are shooting 39.6 percent from three as a team. The Lakers are shooting a league worst 25.6 percent from three — you don’t pay a price for clogging the lane on them.

Great read on the Knicks offense.

Mehmet Okur talks about the differences between Salt Lake City and New York (Turkish restaurants galore) and playing in his native land.

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.