Recapping PBT’s coverage of All-Star weekend from Orlando

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After four exciting and exhausting days in Orlando for All-Star weekend, it’s time for PBT to get out of town. The weather was good, and the city itself might be great, but we wouldn’t know due to spending the entire time shuttled between hotels, convention centers, and of course, the Amway Center downtown. Speaking of downtown, it was an absolute mob scene after the events; a little reminiscent of New Orleans with people spilling out of the bars and clubs and walking (stumbling?) down the crowded streets until well past our normal bedtime.

There were celebrities and recognizable faces at every turn, thanks no doubt in part to lavish events being hosted by the likes of Hennessy VS that the players themselves were often attached to — like this one hosted by Carmelo Anthony that we got to check out.. The basketball brought everyone to town, and once there, the events and parties kept everyone going non-stop until very, very early Monday morning.

As we travel back across the country and catch up on some rest, relive all of our All-Star coverage by following the links below.

– Kevin Durant was your All-Star game MVP, while Kobe Bryant was bloodied and LeBron James turned the ball over with the game on the line by trying to pass instead of taking the big shot. So essentially, just like the regular season.

– Breaking down all of the winners and losers from Sunday night’s All-Star game. We’ll let you guess which one Nicki Minaj was.

– Kobe Bryant surpassed Michael Jordan to become the All-Star game’s all-time leading scorer. Somewhere in Charlotte, MJ threw a remote control at his HDTV.

– Dwight Howard did a good job of not talking trade at all this weekend. He also did a good job of looking as disinterested as possible in the All-Star game.

– Speaking of Dwight, David Stern held a press conference Saturday and said he supports Howard’s right to leave Orlando if he chooses. Stern also said injuries were not increased as a result of the shortened season, and talked a bit about the arena situation in Sacramento.

– Jeremy Evans was your Slam Dunk contest champion, largely thanks to this two-ball dunk over teammate Gordon Hayward. Recapping the event, which could use less schtick and more stars.

– Kevin Love won the Three-Point contest, and Tony Parker took home the trophy from the Skills Challenge.

– Rajon Rondo wasn’t exactly thrilled to discuss his recent two-game suspension, but did eventually admit he might have learned from it.

– The league paired up Deron Williams and Dwight Howard for a charity event. Predictably, Orlando officials were not amused.

– LeBron James said he’d consider entering the dunk contest. As long as, you know, the winner received a million dollars.

– Kyrie Irving was your Rising Stars Challenge MVP. The exhibition was a little rough, but there were still some spectacular playslike this one involving Ricky Rubio, DeMarcus Cousins, and Blake Griffin.

– Jeremy Lin played in the Rising Stars Challenge, but managed only two points. He did, however, debut his own personal Nike basketball shoes.

– Blake Griffin had some dunk contest advice for Paul George … which was not followed.

– Steve Nash continued to remind us he’s not looking to be traded, unlike a certain center in Orlando that we know.

– Dwight Howard danced around those very same trade questions, while Kobe Bryant — now in his 16th season, and knowing he’d be subjected to requests for shout-outs to fans across the globe for 45 minutes — skipped media availability altogether.

Salah Mejri threatened to come to Blazers locker room after Jusuf Nurkic tussle

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The Portland Trail Blazers and Dallas Mavericks had a game of many emotions on Saturday night at Moda Center. Of course, the game wasn’t that close — Portland led by 17 at the half and finished the game by beating Dallas, 117-108.

But as we’ve seen in the NBA recently, the propensity for NBA players to get into physical spats is high. So it was no surprise that we saw yet another scrum between NBA players on the east side of the Willamette on Saturday as Dallas’ Salah Mejri got tangled up with Jusuf Nurkic and Evan Turner.

The play began with Nurkic getting a clean block on Mejri. Because of the position of the two players, Nurkic’s arm was angled as such that after the block it came clean through to rest on Mejri’s shoulder. Mejri turned, and the whole thing became a tangle of arms and elbows.

Neither Mejri or Nurkic took kindly to that, so the two squared off. Nurkic gave Mejri an ineffectual little push, while Portland’s Evan Turner jumped in to hold Mejri back. The Mavericks center promptly flopped all the way to the ground, inexplicably grabbing his face. It was Premier League-level flopping from Mejri, just top notch stuff.

Via NBC Sports Northwest:

After the game, Turner told media that Mejri threatened to come get the Blazers.

“He’s like ‘I’ll come to the locker room!'” said Turner. “Out of a 225 lb. dude [Turner] a 275 lb. dude [Nurkic] and a 7-footer [Mejri] who hit the ground?”

Portland’s CJ McCollum didn’t seem too impressed with the threat.

“If they really want to fight, they know where to find people,” said McCollum.

Much like any arena, the visiting locker room is just down the hall from the home squad at Moda Center, so it would have been easy for Mejri to get to. Nothing happened, so it turned out as an empty threat.

Meanwhile, Turner was assessed a technical foul for the tussle — presumably for “pushing” Mejri. There was notable tension the rest of the game between Mejri, Nurkic, and the crowd at Moda Center, but nothing else of consequence happened.

LeBron James: “We could easily get bounced early in the playoffs”

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Cleveland’s defense was pathetic Saturday and the Thunder routed them because of it. The Cavaliers gave up 148 points, allowed the Thunder to shoot 58 percent, and basically were little more than traffic cones for Russell Westbrook, Paul George and the rest of the Thunder to dribble and pass around. The Cavaliers have lost 8-of-11 and coach Tyronn Lue’s seat is getting warm.

Can the Cavaliers even get out of the East? LeBron James wasn’t even asking that question after the Saturday loss, he wants his team to get to the conference finals first. Via Dave McMenamin of ESPN.

“Playoffs? We can’t even start thinking about that, not the way we’re playing right now,” James said. “We could easily get bounced early in the playoffs if they started next weekend. Haven’t even began thinking about the postseason.”

It’s January, it’s far too early to write LeBron and the Cavaliers off — his teams have won the East for seven straight seasons in a row for a reason. Cleveland’s mid-season malaise is a thing and they snap out of it, Isaiah Thomas will find his legs and play better, but this season has shown some troubling structural flaws in the Cavaliers. Ones that could bite them in the playoffs. Ones they are active in the trade market trying to address, or at least shore up a little.

Nobody around the league is comfortable picking against a LeBron team in the East — he has been to seven straight Finals for a reason (and how impressive an achievement that is gets overlooked). But this seems to be the weakest LeBron team since he bolted Cleveland (the first time?), and a second-round matchup vs. Toronto is no gimme anymore. LeBron is right to be concerned.

Former LSU star, Trail Blazer Tim Quarterman arrested after leading police on high-speed chase

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If you missed Tim Quarterman’s cup of coffee in the NBA nobody can blame you. The 6’6″ point guard was a star at LSU who went undrafted but got a chance to earn a roster spot in Portland. He bounced between the NBA and D-League last season playing in 16 games for the Trail Blazers, but then this summer was traded to Houston for cash, and the Rockets quickly waived him. He had signed to play in China but never got there due to visa issues, he did not play a game there.

Now he has some big trouble stateside. From Tupelo, Miss., television station WTVA (hat tip to the Times-Picayune):

Master Sgt. Ray Hall with the Mississippi Highway Patrol says the incident began sometime near 10:50 p.m. when troopers attempted to stop a 2018 Dodge Ram pickup truck for traveling eastbound on Highway 278 at a high rate of speed.

Quarterman failed to stop and led officers on the pursuit… The Mississippi Highway Patrol says the pursuit ended near (a family’s) home when Quarterman intentionally rammed a Pontotoc police officer causing both vehicles to crash.

Both Quarterman and the police officer were taken to a local hospital with minor injuries.

This led to charges of aggravated assault and felony fleeing, according to the report.

 

Rockets’ Clint Capela on Warriors: “We are better than them”

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Houston’s home win Saturday night against Golden State was much more important for the Rockets than the Warriors. Not in terms of the standings (Golden State is still 3.5 games up there), but about confidence — the Rockets needed to know they can beat the defending NBA champions. This game fueled their belief that they have a shot against the Warriors.

Houston big man Clint Capela was trying to say that… then took it a step too far.

Via Tim MacMahon of ESPN:

“We’re confident because we know if we’re doing what we’re supposed to do, we’re going to beat them,” Rockets center Clint Capela told ESPN. “We’ve got to keep playing. We know that they’re going to come back if we have the lead, and we’ve just got to keep that mindset. Sometimes I feel like, in the past, we were all dragging down after mistakes. But today, we were ready. I think that if we’re doing what we’re supposed to do on defense — all the switches, the weak side — and keep playing our offense by keeping that mentality all game long, we have the weapons to beat them.

“We are better than them.”

It goes without saying that January games are poor predictors of May playoff series. That said, I have two quick thoughts here:

• The Rockets are the team best built to have a legitimate shot at beating the Warriors. (They can score with Golden State, and they have good switchable defenders on the wing, the two things needed to have a chance.)

• I want guys to say this. I want teams going up against the Warriors to believe — that is the first step to actually doing it. You think the Cavaliers feel confident like this right now? The Rockets have the swagger and are over the intimidation factor, that’s step one.