Evan Turner

Evan Turner, Sixers defend first place in Atlantic Division

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The winner of this contest was going to have the lead the Atlantic Division when the final horn sounded, so we expected a game with a playoff feel.

Instead, we got another lockout game — Boston looked tired and flat on the second night of a road back to back and got routed by Philadelphia, 103-71. Philly was home and motivated to defend the top spot they had all season, Boston just was not physically or mentally ready to challenge them.

We learned nothing about the fate of the Atlantic division in this one. We didn’t learn anything… well, that’s not true, we learned one thing:

Someone at a Philly newspaper should write a column every day saying the Sixers need to cut their losses and trade Evan Turner. Or that Turner has “undisclosed problems” that were holding back his play (something else that was published but team denied later).

Turner came out motivated, attacked the paint off the dribble from the start and finished with a career high 26 points on 19 shots, plus he had 9 rebounds. He looked like what the Sixers hoped they were getting with the No. 2 overall pick, not the player who has struggled to fit into Doug Collins system. He was hot early and sparked the Sixers blowout win.

Philadelphia came out more aggressive than they have seemed in recent weeks. Turner was the ringleader but all the Sixers were attacking the rim. Elton Brand was playing well, the Sixers got out and ran and before you could blink the Sixers were up 9 and had 16 of their first 20 points in the paint. That energy carried over all game as the Sixers were up 33-17 after one quarter. Boston had no energy to counter and shot just 36 percent for the quarter.

It got worse for the men in green. Boston was shooting 10-31 and had 21 points midway through the second, meanwhile Sixers went on a 14-0 run to pull away and lead by as many as 28. It was 55-33 Philly at the break as Boston shot 34 percent for the half. The Sixers missed too, but they had 11 offensive rebounds.

Boston looked like an old team in a condensed schedule ad is now in 0-6 on second game of road back-to-back. Paul Pierce had 16 but this was a garbage time fourth quarter where both teams just played their benches.

We really didn’t learn anything about the fate of the Atlantic Division in this game. We know both teams want to win it (as do the Knicks) because it means at least a four seed in the East, meaning you avoid Miami and Chicago in the first round. The Sixers had one good night, we’ll see if they can carry it over.

Same goes for Evan Turner.

Rajon Rondo: You couldn’t name three players on 2015-16 Kings, but I led NBA in assists

SACRAMENTO, CA - MARCH 09:  Rajon Rondo #9 of the Sacramento Kings dribbles the ball against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Sleep Train Arena on March 9, 2016 in Sacramento, California. 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.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
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Months into his first and only season with the Kings, Rajon Rondo declared himself to be the first veteran teammate ever respected by DeMarcus Cousins.

As he deals with new problems with the Bulls, Rondo is again trashing his former Sacramento teammates.

Rondo, via David Aldridge of NBA.com:

“It’s just, maybe, the personnel in this situation,” Rondo says in response. “I mean, last year — I hate to keep talking about last year — but you couldn’t name three people on my team, the Sacramento Kings, and I led the league in assists. You know? I don’t know. I believe so (that his skill set still has value), given the right personnel and the flow of the game.”

Rondo is right: Playing with Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade is not ideal, and his passing was an asset to the Kings.

He’s also proving his critics right: He’s too often a jerk.

Rondo has declined significantly overall, particularly on defense. His plus passing is barely enough to make him rotation-worthy. It’s not enough for teams cast aside his hardheadedness.

But is Rondo right that you can’t name three members of the 2015-16 Kings? Take this quiz to find out:

Report: Nike doesn’t plan to make sleeved NBA jerseys

LeBron James
AP Photo/Tony Dejak
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Sleeved NBA jerseys sell poorly. Players dislike them.

So, the NBA switching from adidas to Nike is apparently an excuse to ditch the sleeves.

Sara Germano of The Wall Street Journal, via Paul Lukas of Uni Watch:

Nike, meanwhile, is expected to present its initial NBA jersey designs to retailers beginning this week. The company said it doesn’t plan to produce sleeved jerseys, a style debuted by Adidas in 2013 that received mixed reviews from players and fans.

Whether or not sleeves were introduced for ad space, uniform advertisements are still coming. The ads can fit on standard jerseys, no problem.

At this point, there’s just little to no upside for sleeved jerseys.

Nostalgia will treat sleeves better than present-day evaluations, but until we look back wistfully on this mostly failed experiment, good riddance.

Report: Carmelo Anthony twice asked to meet with Phil Jackson, who will get around to it soon

New York Knicks president Phil Jackson watches from the stands during the second half of the Knicks' NBA basketball game against the New Orleans Pelicans at Madison Square Garden in New York, Monday, Jan. 9, 2017.  The Pelicans won 110-96. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
AP Photo/Kathy Willens
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Despite sounding like he wanted a conversation with Phil Jackson, Carmelo Anthony said he hadn’t spoken with the Knicks president since Phil Jackson mouthpiece Charley Rosen wrote Anthony no longer fit in New York.

It hasn’t been for a lack of effort.

Ramona Shelburne of ESPN:

If you’re trying to keep up with the Jackson-Anthony feuds, their previous meeting came after Jackson publicly critiqued Anthony’s ball-hogging.

That affair should’ve provided a sense of Jackson’s communication skills. This latest episode only reinforces it.

The Knicks were in New York on Thursday, when Rosen’s article was published. They played in Toronto on Sunday and returned home for a game yesterday. That’s plenty of time for Jackson and Anthony to talk.

Why hasn’t it happened yet?

Isaiah Thomas on pace to break modern-era fourth-quarter scoring record

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With seven and a half minutes left, Isaiah Thomas drained a 3-pointer, held up his left wrist and stared at it.

It was time.

His time.

Thomas scored 17 fourth-quarter points in the Celtics’ win over the Hornets yesterday.

“It doesn’t surprise me,” Thomas said. “It just surprises everybody else.”

It shouldn’t any longer.

Boston has won seven of eight, and in that span, Thomas has scored most of the Celtics’ fourth-quarter points. He has pushed his fourth-quarter scoring average to 10.1 for the season – putting him on track to break the modern-era record.

Kobe Bryant scored 9.5 fourth-quarter points per game in 2006, the most in the previous 20 years (as far back as NBA.com has data). The leaderboard:

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Russell Westbrook is also on track to surpass Kobe and join this rarified air. LeBron James, Tracy McGrady, Kevin Durant and Dwyane Wade are the only other players to average even eight fourth-quarter points per game in a season over the previous 20 years. Not even Michael Jordan (7.1 in 1997, 7.3 in 1998) did it.

Boston’s offense has blasted into the stratosphere with Thomas on the court in the fourth quarter, scoring 122.1 points per 100 possessions. However, the Celtics allow even more with him on the floor in the final period (122.8 points per 100 possessions). The 5-foot-9 point guard has limits.

But where those limits exist when it comes to his clutch scoring – we haven’t found them yet.