Brandon Jennings

Three Stars of the Night: No conscience edition

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Every team has at least one of them. You know, the guy that has no conscience and won’t stop taking shots regardless of the circumstance. When things are going bad, these guys will shoot you out of a game with nary a second thought. But when they have it going and start to hit them, there’s nothing better than watching these guys do what they do best. Tonight’s three stars is a tribute to the guys who just love to put up the FGA’s in pursuit of the points…

Third Star: Kobe Bryant (30 points, 7 assists, 6 rebounds)

Kobe didn’t have the most efficient night (11-24 from the field) and he took a few of those forced shots that leave you shaking your head (including one on the last offensive possession of the game). But, overall, he took the shots that the defense gave him and was aggressive in getting into the paint for his looks. Six of his eleven made field goals came right at the rim as he slithered his way to the basket off the pick and roll for lay ins. In the fourth quarter he wasn’t shy in taking shots (10 total FGA’s in the period), but he hit several big ones in the final 12 minutes, including a three pointer that put the Lakers up 4 with under 6 minutes, and back to back shots (one lay-in, one pull up jumper) that were the Lakers’ last two baskets of the game. Add in his playmaking for his teammates and Kobe had a very good night on offense in a game that was closer than he would have liked, but still produced a win.

Second Star: O.J. Mayo (26 points, 8-12 shooting, 8 assists)

Mayo has been the Mavs’ best player this year with Dirk out and it’s not really been close. His offense has carried them this year and, against an undermanned Sixer team, it was true again. With the Mavs clinging to a two point lead heading into the final period, it was Mayo’s combination of scoring and playmaking that really were the difference. In the 4th quarter Mayo scored 9 of his game high 26 points (3-3 from the field, 3-4 from the foul line) and dished out 3 assists too. Mayo did get some help from Kaman down the stretch, but without his big game they probably lose to a Sixer team that fought hard without their top two players.

First Star: Brandon Jennings (34 points, 13-22 shooting, 6 assists, 5 rebounds)

Jennings, who shoots under 40% on the year, has a habit of taking some poor shots. Tonight was no different, except for the fact that he was knocking them down. Jennings used the pick and roll to create space and then hit a myriad of pull up jumpers. He’d dart into open spaces with a crafty dribble and hit a floater. He even snuck into the lane and turned a couple of offensive rebounds into made baskets. All game he just hit shots. And, in the 4th quarter, with the Pacers trying to make their final push and get over the hump, there was Jennings scoring 13 points in the period, including a big step back three pointer that thwarted Indiana and gave the Bucks a bit of breathing room. Just a huge night for the southpaw point guard.

Report: Unless they trade for Jimmy Butler or Paul George, Celtics likely to keep main assets

CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 26: Jimmy Butler #21 of the Chicago Bulls and Paul George #13 of the Indiana Pacers chase down a loose ball at the United Center on December 26, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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The Celtics have been linked in trade talks to the Bulls’ Jimmy Butler and Pacers’ Paul George, but that requires the other team to deal with Boston. Indications are neither Chicago nor Indiana is particularly amenable.

So, time for the Celtics to pick another star to target?

Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald:

With less than 24 hours until the NBA’s 3 p.m. trade deadline today, the Celtics were said to be still holding out hope that internal discussions within the Bulls and Pacers would lead to one or both making their best player available.

But short of that, the view from around the league is that the Celts are becoming more and more enamored with the idea of keeping their main assets and using the first-round draft pick they have coming from Brooklyn in June via a swap of positions. (They also have the Nets’ 2018 first-rounder unencumbered.)

Sources continued to say that, while there remains a chance things could change as the deadline draws nearer, Chicago and Indiana are more likely to retain Jimmy Butler and Paul George, respectively. Those All-Star talents have been the Celtics’ two main targets

This could just be the Celtics playing hardball — either through leaks to the media or through conversations with other teams that have trickled out. But Bulpett is well-connected, especially in Boston. This is more likely than most reports of this nature to be accurate, but it’s always difficult to break through the smokescreens this time of year.

The Nets’ upcoming first-rounder is extremely valuable, as they’ll likely finish with the NBA’s worst record. The Celtics could do far worse than keeping that pick.

But Boston’s top players — Isaiah Thomas (28) and Al Horford (30) — are already at ages where they can’t necessarily wait for a 2017 pick, even someone as talented at as Markelle Fultz or Lonzo Ball, to develop. It makes sense to cash in chips now.

Still, the Celtics’ deep pool of assets mean the window isn’t closing yet. There should be no desperation to make a win now trade.

If Boston keeps its main assets — mainly the Nets picks — past the trade deadline, we’ll just revisit all this again in the summer.

Cavaliers sign forward Derrick Williams to second 10-day contract

Cleveland Cavaliers' Derrick Williams, right, drives to the basket against Indiana Pacers' Rodney Stuckey in the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2017, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
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The Cleveland Cavaliers have signed forward Derrick Williams to a second 10-day contract.

The NBA champions have been impressed with Williams, a former No. 2 overall pick, and it’s likely they will sign him for the remainder of the season when his current contract expires. The Cavs announced Wednesday they signed Williams again. He has averaged 9.8 points and 3.0 rebounds in 22 minutes for the Cavs, who have been bringing him off their bench with their second unit.

Before signing as a free agent with Cleveland on Feb. 9, Williams played for Miami this season before being released.

The Cavs returned from the All-Star break Wednesday and will practice before hosting the New York Knicks on Thursday, just a few hours after the trade deadline.

Hornets’ Miles Plumlee out at least two weeks with leg injury

Charlotte Hornets' Miles Plumlee (18) dunks against the Philadelphia 76ers in the first half of an NBA basketball game in Charlotte, N.C., Monday, Feb. 13, 2017. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
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The Hornets are essentially two different teams with and without Cody Zeller.

They’re 22-17 when he plays and 2-15 when he doesn’t. They play at a 62-win pace with him on the floor and a 29-win pace when he sits.

So, with Zeller banged up, Charlotte traded for Miles Plumee. But Plumlee hasn’t provided much, just 3.2 points and 3.8 rebounds in 13.4 minutes per game in five contests.

And now he’ll add even less.

Hornets release:

The Charlotte Hornets announced today that center Miles Plumlee underwent a Magnetic Resonance Image (MRI), which revealed a second-degree calf strain in his right leg. Plumlee will be out for Charlotte’s game tomorrow at Detroit and will be re-evaluated in two weeks.

The Hornets incurred significant long-term costs ($37.5 million over the next three years) to use Plumlee as a short-term bandage. Without him providing even that, this situation looks bleak.

Depending on Zeller’s health, this could turn Charlotte — 2.5 games and three teams out of playoff position — into sellers before the trade deadline. At minimum, it makes the Hornets less likely to buy.

Report: Bulls pushing to trade for 76ers’ Jahlil Okafor

CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 14: Jahlil Okafor #8 of the Philadelphia 76ers looks to pass against Jimmy Butler #21 of the Chicago Bulls at the United Center on December 14, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using the photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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The Bulls reportedly reached out to the 76ers about Jahlil Okafor a few weeks ago.

After unfulfilled intrigue and maybe a trade that fell through, Okafor remains in Philadelphia. And Chicago apparently still wants him.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

As constituted, the Bulls already have a few interior bigs: Robin Lopez, Taj Gibson and Cristiano Felicio. But one or more could go in an Okafor trade or another deal.

Okafor would make the Chicago younger, confusing its direction with Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade already in place.

Perhaps, the Bulls are pushing for a trade only because they’re offering so little. Okafor’s low-post game offers intrigue. At the right price, he’d be worth adding, no matter the fit and direction presented.

Maybe the 76ers don’t go for a lowball offer, but that’d be worth trying considering their center logjam with Joel Embiid, Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor. Otherwise, Chicago ought to tread carefully when pursuing Okafor.