Video: Russell Westbrook and Metta World Peace fight for loose ball, receive double technicals

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Late in the second quarter of the Lakers’ Game 3 victory over the Thunder, Russell Westbrook hit the deck to secure a loose ball. Metta World Peace then attempted to reach in and grab it, hoping to get a jump-ball call from the official standing nearby. As with many physical plays involving World Peace, that’s when the fun began.

Westbrook fought like hell to keep the ball from World Peace, swinging his arms wildly while on the floor and appearing to attempt to get a timeout called before World Peace could gain a share of control. World Peace only got closer as Westbrook continued to flail, and eventually, Westbrook’s elbow hit the back of World Peace’s knee, which then conveniently dropped onto Westbrook.

Westbrook then flipped out a little, and quickly jumped to his feet to let World Peace know that his actions were not appreciated.

Joey Crawford stepped in with the timely and very physical taking away of Westbrook, everyone else had to be separated, and that was that. After the officials reviewed the play, it was determined only that both players were a little overly-aggressive in their actions, so double technical fouls were all that were issued.

With the recent history between these two teams — namely, the elbow from World Peace to the head of the Thunder’s James Harden before the end of the regular season that resulted in a seven-game suspension — you can’t blame the referees for being on a high alert of sorts to prevent things from escalating beyond basketball.

Westbrook basically downplayed the whole thing afterward when asked what happened.

“Not sure,” he said. “Just trying to get the loose ball and then quickly call a timeout, but I guess it was kind of hard for the refs to see it. That’s all I was trying to do.”

After watching the replay multiple times, it’s clear that there really wasn’t much to this little interaction. But it did set the tone for the rest of the game, both in terms of chippiness between the teams, as well as whistles blown by the officials.

The game was called more tightly than usual the rest of the way, with the Lakers shooting a whopping 42 free throws (and making 41) while the Thunder ended up hitting 26 of their 28 attempts.

That type of game is going to favor the Lakers in this series every single time.

LeBron James finishes reverse alley-oop from Russell Westbrook (VIDEO)

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LOS ANGELES — The new format for the NBA All-Star game brought a little more defense to the first half of the annual showcase, but it didn’t do much to enliven the game. That said, the game has been better than the pre-game “entertainment.”

Midway through the second quarter, his team down 15, LeBron James decided to make it a game again and played with some energy. That included a three, and a couple impressive alley-oop finishes. The best came via Russell Westbrook.

There also was this one courtesy Kemba Walker.

Those may be the two best dunks of the first half.

Anthony Davis opens All-Star game wearing DeMarcus Cousins’ jersey

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LOS ANGELES – Anthony Davis often relies on his Pelicans teammates to set him up.

Tonight, he gave a nod to one of them.

Davis started the All-Star game wearing DeMarcus Cousins‘ No. 0 jersey. Cousins and Davis were both voted starters then drafted by LeBron James, but Cousins can’t play due to injury.

Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated:

Very cool gesture by Davis. He’s an excellent teammate.

No, Joel Embiid didn’t cheat during the NBA Skills Challenge

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The Internet got itself all in a huff on Saturday as they watched the 2018 NBA All-Star Weekend Skills Challenge. In particular, the matchup between Chicago Bulls rookie Lauri Markkanen and Philadelphia 76ers big man Joel Embiid stirred up a bit of controversy.

Specifically, folks accused Embiid of cheating.

During the passing section of the obstacle course, Embiid didn’t actually make any of his passes into the ring. He then proceeded on the next section and was neck-and-neck with Markkanen as they tried to finish out the head-to-head competition. Markkanen won, but that didn’t stop folks from saying the 76ers All-Star had circumvented the rules.

We now know that’s not true.

According to the rules (provided on the NBA media site, page 47 of the 2018 NBA All-Star Media Guide) Embiid was allowed to move onto the next section even though he hadn’t completed any of his passes. A player only has to exhaust the rack, not complete a pass. It appears rules sort of assume that if a player stands there trying to complete a pass three times they’ll fall so far behind they won’t be able to catch up.

Re-watching the video, it appears Embiid knew this rule to the game and figured if he didn’t make the first one he would quickly try to blast the next two passes off the rack so he could then move onto the next section.

Embiid even took to Twitter to head off accusations that he had cheated.

Via Twitter:

Trust. The. Process.

Rumor: Jeff Hornacek shoved Joakim Noah during confrontation

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The saga between the New York Knicks and Joakim Noah has been ongoing for sometime, with the latest story being that there was some kind of verbal altercation between the former All-Star big man and head coach Jeff Hornacek.

Noah has not played for the team since Jan. 23, and he is now separated from the Knicks as they try to find a solution to shed him from their roster.

We now have a better idea of what kind of urgency New York has to make that move.

A report from the New York Daily News has given us more information about the confrontation between Noah and Hornacek. The latest addition to the story is that it was not just words between the Knicks coach and Noah, and that Hornacek actually pushed Noah first during the confrontation.

The two then had to be separated.

Via NYDN:

Noah was banished from the Knicks after an altercation with coach Jeff Hornacek during a practice last month. The disagreement stemmed from Noah’s lack of playing time, and it turned physical the day after he logged only five minutes against the Warriors.

While no punches were thrown, the Daily News learned that Hornacek was the first to shove Noah before they had to be separated.

In our last update on this story, Dan outlined how that could be made possible. No team is going to trade for Noah at this juncture in his career, so the only real option for New York is to waive him.

Here’s how that looks, according to our own Dan Feldman:

If the Knicks waive Noah without a buyout, they’d have two options after paying out the rest of his $17,765,000 salary this season:

Pay Noah $18,530,000 next season and $19,295,000 the following season
Pay Noah $7,565,000 each of the following five years via the stretch provision

It just keeps getting weirder and weirder during a lost season in the Big Apple.