Kevin Durant, LeBron James head All-NBA Teams

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Here’s the problem with nitpicking the All-NBA teams — there are no bad players on any of the first three.

You can argue if you want (and as I would) that LaMarcus Aldridge deserves a spot on the third team more than Carmelo Anthony or Dirk Nowitzki, but that doesn’t make the guys on the list bad picks. I would have had Steve Nash ahead of Rajon Rondo. It’s just a difference of opinion, but you can defend any of these pick.

Well, you can’t defend every vote. I’d love to hear the justification of the media member that voted for Luis Scola or David Lee or Serge Ibaka on to one of these teams (they all got votes). Those are all just bad calls. But most voters (coaches, or whichever assistant they forced to do it) were sober enough not to make those choices.

As it should be, LeBron James and Kevin Durant were the top two vote getters. Dwight Howard edged out Andrew Bynum for the top center spot (it shouldn’t have been that close, Howard is still quite a bit ahead of Bynum’s game), and it’s hard to argue the L.A. backcourt tandem.

Derrick Rose did not make the list, but that was about injuries not play.

Here are the lists, with their vote totals in parenthesis:

All-NBA First Team

Forward: LeBron James, Miami (596)
Forward: Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City (591)
Center: Dwight Howard, Orlando (476)
Guard: Kobe Bryant, L.A. Lakers (568)
Guard: Chris Paul, L.A. Clippers (484)

All-NBA Second Team

Forward: Kevin Love, Minnesota (365)
Forward: Blake Griffin, L.A. Clippers (170)
Center: Andrew Bynum, L.A. Lakers (400)
Guard: Tony Parker, San Antonio (367)
Guard: Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City (239)

All-NBA Third Team

Forward: Carmelo Anthony, New York (154)
Forward: Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas (136)
Center: Tyson Chandler, New York (60)
Guard: Dwyane Wade, Miami (235)
Guard: Rajon Rondo, Boston (142)

Other players receiving votes, with point totals: LaMarcus Aldridge, Portland, 55; Marc Gasol, Memphis, 52; Derrick Rose, Chicago, 44; Josh Smith, Atlanta, 33; Paul Pierce, Boston, 31; Al Jefferson, Utah, 30; Pau Gasol, L.A. Lakers, 27; Steve Nash, Phoenix, 24; Kevin Garnett, Boston, 22; Tim Duncan, San Antonio, 18; Joe Johnson, Atlanta, 16; Deron Williams, New Jersey, 14; Rudy Gay, Memphis, 10; James Harden, Oklahoma City, 8; Luol Deng, Chicago, 5; Roy Hibbert, Indiana, 5; Manu Ginobili, San Antonio, 3; Danny Granger, Indiana, 3; Joakim Noah, Chicago, 3; Monta Ellis, Milwaukee, 2; Chris Bosh, Miami, 2; Luis Scola, Houston, 2; Marcin Gortat, Phoenix, 2; Paul Millsap, Utah, 2; Serge Ibaka, Oklahoma City, 2; David Lee, Golden State, 1; and DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento, 1.

Warriors say Kevin Durant doing non-contact drills, could return before end of season

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Kevin Durant has been working out on the court before the last couple of Warriors road games, and people watching have taken note — he was moving well, shooting, and generally looking healthy for a guy coming off a grade 2 MCL sprain and a bone bruise.

Reports were out that Durant was on target to return before the end of the season.

Wednesday the Warriors confirmed that.

Teams are vague, realistically what is that timeline?

Durant likely would be on a minutes restriction for those game, but just getting to shake the rust off and work on his conditioning in a real game would help Golden State heading into the playoffs.

Not that they need much help, having won eight in a row. The Warriors have a 2.5 game lead over the Spurs for the top seed in the Western Conference heading into the game between the two Wednesday night.

Check out Lakers’ stretch of hitting 15 straight shots to end third quarter (VIDEO)

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The Lakers lost to the Wizards because they are young, inconsistent, and defend like traffic cones at times.

But that young Lakers core also has its moments.

Los Angeles strung together 15 straight made buckets to end the third quarter Tuesday night. Some of it was flukey, like Corey Brewer driving and finishing contested layups like he’s Kyrie Irving, but there were things Lakers fans should want to see such as D'Angelo Russell draining threes, Jordan Clarkson working hard off the ball and his teammates finding him, and Julius Randle just attacking.

After this run the Lakers led by 13 going into the fourth, but lost the game.

It’s official: Joakim Noah cleared to play, 20-game suspension starts tonight

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What this ultimately means is next season the Knicks should have Joakim Noah available just before Thanksgiving.

Noah has been suspended 20 games for testing positive for a banned substance, but because he was out due to knee surgery the suspension did not start until he was “physically able to play.” Noah said on Tuesday that he had been cleared, but that was just by the team doctors. He also had to be cleared by the NBA’s doctors (because if teams could cheat they would).

That happened Wednesday, according to Ian Begley of ESPN.

Noah’s first season in New York after signing a four-year, $72 million deal has been a disappointment. To put it kindly. He’s not been completely healthy, and any observer of him the past few years had to wonder if he would ever be fully healthy again. He had lost a step from the 2014 Defensive Player of the Year before the Knicks signed him. The Knicks don’t need him to necessarily be that dominant a force again (although it would be nice), but they need to get more out of him and see if he is a fit next to Kristaps Porzingis for now as the Knicks try to build a roster for next season that can play a little defense. And the triangle.

Report: Pacers bring back Lance Stephenson in time for playoffs; deal for three-years, $12 million

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The Indiana Pacers need healthy bodies for their playoff run, and they had three rotation guys injured between Al Jefferson, Glenn Robinson III, and Rodney Stuckey. Wednesday, the Pacers waived Stuckey to create an open roster spot to bring in some help (they were not going to pick up his option for next season anyway).

Who are they bringing in? The prodigal son Lance Stephenson returns, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

The surprising part of the deal was the security Stephenson got, as first reported by Adam Zagoria at his blog — three years, $12 million, with a player option for the final year. (This has since been confirmed by other sources.) Other teams were looking at giving Stephenson a 10-day contract, the length of the Pacers’ offer is a surprise.

Stephenson played in six games for Minnesota recently, averaging 3.5 points per game off the bench, but an ankle sprain kept the Timberwolves from really having to decide whether to keep him for the season. Stephenson knows how to create shots for himself and can be a good defender when focused, something we saw with the Pelicans at the start of this season — he became a key part of their rotation averaging 9.7 points and 4.8 assists per game until he tore his groin.

It’s a little strange to see him back in Pacers colors. It will be particularly strange if the Pacers stay in the seven seed and the Cavaliers remain the two-seed setting up a first-round playoff series. Because I don’t think any of us need to see this again.

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