If Hornets want to become Pelicans, Stern will expedite process

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The NBA is a massive, global marketing machine. So if a team wants to change its name — or even its color and logo, as the Nets did this year — it is an entire process that includes approvals. For a name change, the other owners have to approve it. It takes years.

But if the New Orleans Hornets want to become the New Orleans Pelicans — which is the report out there — David Stern is good with that. He’ll even help speed process along.

That’s what he said to the media in New Orleans Wednesday, as reported by Hoopsworld.

“My guess is that there’s going to be some sort of formal application in the next couple of months and we’ll see where it goes from there. … There are lots of things that have to be filed. In fact, I do know that the Hornets filed to protect five names, trademark protection. They have to apply to us, they have to pay certain fees, there’s a timing schedule, but I think the Hornets may have a friend in the league office that may help expedite the process when they decide on a name. I don’t remember his name, but I’m pretty sure it’ll happen faster than those big old meanies at the NBA say it’ll happen.”

It is possible — frankly it would be smart — that the Pelicans name was leaked as a trial balloon, and if so the reaction has not been positive. Most of the nation was simply just confused by a team taking a menacing name and trading it for a mascot that only menaces small fish that swim near the ocean’s surface. But at least the pelican is something local and associated with New Orleans.

Except the reaction in New Orleans apparently was only slightly better, at least that’s what the Times-Picayune reports.

Based on recent Twitter activity, a high percentage of Hornets fans apparently are not in favor of Pelicans as the team’s nickname. A large percentage have suggested such names as Krewe, Brass, Jesters and Revelers. Some tweeted that it should stay the Hornets.

Krewe is the people that organize and are the dancers in the Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans.

So maybe Pelicans never makes it through. Maybe the Pelican name will be scooped up. But it sounds like whatever name owner Tom Benson and the franchise settles on, David Stern will help them speed the change along.

Tyronn Lue says he has secret plan to fix Cavaliers’ defense for playoffs

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Only one team that ranked outside the top 12 in points allowed per possession during the regular season won an NBA title. The 2000-01 Lakers, who were 21st in defensive rating, are the lone outlier.

The Cavaliers rank 22nd in defensive rating this season and have been even worse lately.

But Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue says he has a plan. He just won’t reveal it yet.

Lue, via Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:

“We’ve got to hold back. We can’t show our hand early because … these are some good teams and we don’t want them to be able to come into a series and be able to adjust to what we do. We just have to be able to play our normal defense until we get there and then we will see what happens.”

Also:

“I think the rebounding hurt us. Rebounding. But it will be different once some other things happen. … Their two-guards, their threes, they still crashed the boards. But we have something to fix that. Just not right now.”

What precisely those plans are, Lue wouldn’t tell us. And here’s the other part — he’s not exactly sure they’ll work.

“I’m not confident, but we’ve got to” get the defense fixed, Lue said. “We have to.”

The Cavs ranked just 10th in defensive rating last season, among the worst marks for an eventual champion. But they cranked up their defense in the playoffs, especially late. Cleveland held the Raptors 4.8 points per 100 possessions below their regular-season scoring rate and the Warriors 7.8 below theirs.

Lue also unleashed a 3-point-heavy attack in the playoffs last year after sitting on the strategy through the regular season.

So, I have some faith Lue will implement a better defensive gameplan when it counts. It also helps to have LeBron James, who can still play elite defense when not in the slog of a long regular season.

But the Cavaliers’ defensive deficiencies right now are glaring. This roster appears to lack defensive potential, and their many miscues keep them well below whatever that potential is.

The challenge in elevating this defense to championship-caliber will be immense, maybe even unprecedented.

Mavericks’ Salah Mejri dunks while getting shoved in the gut (video)

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The Mavericks built a 13-point lead over the Thunder with 3:30left thanks to plays like this Salah Mejri dunk on Nick Collison.

Unfortunately for Dallas, Russell Westbrook happened.

Willy Hernangomez dunks on Andre Drummond, Pistons’ playoff chances (video)

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Andre Drummond and the Pistons couldn’t slow down anything.

Not Willy Hernangomez. Not the Knicks. Not Detroit’s plummeting playoff hopes.

After a 109-95 loss to the Knicks last night, the Pistons — who’ve lost four straight and seven of eight — are 1.5 games and two teams out of playoff position.

Terrence Ross 360 dunks his way back into Raptors fans’ hearts (video)

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In his first appearance in Toronto since the Raptors traded him to the Magic, Terrence Ross did what he has done best throughout his career: Delight Toronto fans with a dunk.

And of course the fans appreciated it, because their Raptors cruised to a 131-112 win.