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Report: D’Antoni wants Nate McMillan as “defensive assistant”

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This is not as great an idea as it sounds. But we’ll get to that in a bit.

Mike D’Antoni is reportedly interested in bringing former Sonics and Trail Blazers coach Nate McMillan on his Lakers staff as a “defensive assistant,” reports Ken Berger at CBSSports.com. He adds that the one lock for D’Antoni’s staff seems to be Dan D’Antoni, Mike’s brother.

McMillan and D’Antoni were both assistant coaches under Mike Krzyzewski for Team USA when they won the past two gold medals. They are both well respected by players.

This hire could well be a good one — but don’t think Nate McMillan is a defensive specialist.

No team of McMillan’s has ever finished in the top half of the league in defensive efficiency (points allowed per possession). His teams didn’t allow that many points per game because they played at a painfully slow pace (which makes this another odd pairing with D’Antoni). His team’s career defensive numbers are barely better than D’Antoni’s when you break things down by possession.

But now the pair of coaches would have Dwight Howard in the paint and solid defenders such as Metta World Peace and Kobe Bryant on the perimeter. They have the pieces to be good defensive team.

And they need to be, it is their key to winning. I’m just not sold McMillan makes that happen.

Al Horford shows he still has hops dunking on Solomon Hill (VIDEO)

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That’s just nasty.

Atlanta’s Al Horford gets the ball out high, but within his range, so when he pump fakes Indiana’s Lavoy Allen goes flying by. That opens up the lane and Horford attacks it, Solomon Hill tries to cut him off, but Horford just finishes threw him.

Pacers and Hawks played an entertaining, close game Friday night.

Dwyane Wade shows he still has hops with dunk on Hornets (VIDEO)

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Dwyane Wade still has some springs.

In what may be his best dunk in recent memory, he shoulders Michael Kidd-Gilchrist to create space in transition, then gets up and throws it down before Nicolas Batum can get there for the block.

Not sure even Wade saw that one coming.

Reigning dunk champ LaVine: ‘I’ve got tricks up my sleeve’

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota Timberwolves guard Zach LaVine is heading back to All-Star weekend to defend his slam dunk title. And he says he has “a few tricks up my sleeve” after dominating the event last year.

LaVine will compete against Detroit center Andre Drummond, Denver swingman Will Barton and Orlando forward Aaron Gordon in Toronto next weekend.

LaVine was one of the breakout stars of All-Star weekend last year with his electric performance in the dunk contest. He says he debated about coming back and made his decision after strong encouragement from his fans.

If LaVine wins, he will become the fourth player in the 31-year history of the event to repeat as champion. Michael Jordan, Jason Richardson and Nate Robinson are the others.

Report: Blake Griffin has second procedure on hand, timeline remains unchanged

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Blake Griffin will still return to the Clippers some time in March (barring any setbacks).

That said, he had a second procedure this week to repair the boxer’s fracture in his right hand, reports Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.

Clippers forward Blake Griffin underwent a second procedure this week on his broke right hand, sources told ESPN. The procedure was a part of the original surgery last week, so sources said the 4-6 week timeframe for his return remains unchanged.

This might help explain why Griffin’s hand looked so swollen and scarred this week. But to be clear, this was a planned second procedure, not a setback.

Griffin suffered the fracture punching a Clippers’ equipment manager while everyone was out to dinner in Toronto recently, while Griffin was still sidelined with a quadricep injury. The Clippers have moved on, but it is likely the league will tack on a couple of game suspension for Griffin upon his return to health.

And no, the Clippers are not looking to trade Griffin in spite of this. So stop asking.