Steve Nash

Thursday And-1 Links: Steve Nash went through a full practice with Lakers

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Here is our regular look around the NBA — links to stories worth reading and notes to check out (stuff that did not get its own post here at PBT) — done in bullet point form. Because bloggers love bullet points.

• Steve Nash went through a five-on-five, full contact practice with the Lakers Thursday. Baring any major setback, expect him to play Saturday night for the Lakers when they face a hot Golden State squad.

• Jrue Holiday might be back the 76ers lineup on Friday. Might.

• The Kings are not sure when they will get Tyreke Evans back in the lineup.

• Why have the Thunder won 12 in a row and the Clippers 11? Great offense and soft schedules.

 • Dave D’Alessandro of the Newark Star-Ledger just ripped Deron Williams of the Nets in a column Thursday. The best line: “This has less to do with how you play — which is bad enough, you readily admit nowadays — than how you act, which is just one evening gown shy of a diva.”

• At the other end of the New York star spectrum, how Carmelo Anthony has become more efficient (think catch-and-shoot).

• A fantastic look from Zach Lowe at the odd big man pairings in the NBA.

• Mark Cuban basically live tweeted passing a kidney stone. Sounds like it hurts. A lot.

• John Hollinger talks about the jump from ESPN to the Memphis Grizzlies front office.

• A Q&A with promising Warriors’ rookie Harrison Barnes. If he learns to be aggressive and attack consistently, watch out.

• A Los Angeles jury returned a $17.3 million verdict against Clippers owner Donald Sterling for a fire in an apartment building he owns (buying and holding apartment complexes around LA is his primary business). Other tenants in the building settled before trial. This didn’t apparently bother Sterling, who was in the Clippers locker room Wednesday night after their 11th consecutive win leading “hip-hip hooray chants.”

An article in Forbes about why Louisville should be first in line for the next NBA franchise that wants to move. The entire city of Seattle is shooting you a glare, Louisville.

• The NBA is tweaking the All-Star Saturday format a little so that the conferences are competing against each other with the winner getting money for charity. None of the events change — slam dunk contest, three-point contest, skills challenge and that Shooting Stars thing — this is just an element thrown in for… I don’t know why. Probably to maybe make someone interested in the skills and Shooting Stars things, but I can’t see that working.

Amazing interview at The Classical with the guys behind one of the great blogs of all time “Fire Joe Morgan.”

Aaron Gordon both legs over the mascot, ball-under-the-legs dunk (VIDEO)

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TORONTO — Zach LaVine won the NBA All-Star Saturday Dunk Contest, but in an epic night for my money this was the single best dunk.

Orlando’s Aaron Gordon broke ground with this one — guys have jumped over mascots and other players before (and a Kia hood), but by splitting their legs apart. Gordon just put both legs over Stuff (that’s the mascot’s name, Stuff the Magic Dragon, I don’t make this up) — and took the ball off the mascot’s head, went under his legs, and threw it down.

Insane.

Gordon deserved a trophy for his performance in this dunk contest.

Zach LaVine edges Aaron Gordon in epic, insane Dunk Contest

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TORONTO — That. Was. Amazing.

In a dunk contest that will go down with the all-time greats — Jordan vs. Dominique, Dr. J from the free throw line — Minnesota’s Zach LaVine defended his dunk contest title. Barely. Because Orlando’s Aaron Gordon was doing dunks nobody had ever seen before.

And LaVine was bringing it just as hard.

The two men advanced to the finals — dismissing Will Barton and Andre Drummond, each of whom had good dunks — and that was when it got wild.

There were four second-round dunks, and four perfect scores of 50. (That was in spite of Shaq, who wanted to give nines for second attempts.)

“I was prepared for four (second round dunks),” LaVine said. “To tell the truth, he came with something that no one else has done. He did two dunks that were just crazy with the mascots, jumping over them. We just kept pushing each other until the last dunk. I’ve got to give it up to my boy Will “The Thrill” Barton. It’s because of him I think I won. Because he said try to go from the free-throw line. I’d never done that before, and I just tried it. So I guess it was a great dunk. I think it was the best one ever.”

The Air Canada Centre crowd was exploding with every dunk. The two men went to a dunk-off — and got two more 50s.

“If I knew it was going to be like that, I would have prepared better and we would have been here dunking all night, going back 50 after 50 after 50 after 50,” Gordon said. “We would have been here all night. I didn’t know it was going to be like that. I was just hoping Zach was going to miss, and it wasn’t going to happen. You could see as my facial expressions when Zach dunks it, it’s like okay, that’s a 50. Like I know we’re going to have to dunk again.”

So they went to a second-round of overtime, where LaVine put up another 50 and won the contest.

Gordon was close to perfect.

Zach LaVine can flat-out fly.

Magic’s Aaron Gordon with the over-the-mascot mad dunk

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TORONTO — Aaron Gordon was giving Zach LaVine all he could handle in the Dunk Contest.

He blew the lid off the Air Canada Centre with this dunk in the first round — and it wasn’t even his best dunk of the night. Never seen this before.

This dunk contest was awesome, so much more video to come.

Zach LaVine opens Slam Dunk Contest title defense with spectacular behind-the-back slam (VIDEO)

during the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge 2016 at Air Canada Centre on February 12, 2016 in Toronto, Canada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.
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TORONTO — Zach LaVine clearly heard all the talk that Aaron Gordon or Will Barton had a chance to upset him in the Slam Dunk Contest. He came out ready to prove his superiority right off the bat. This behind-the-back slam was his first attempt of the night:

Even better was the reaction, both from Andre Drummond and from LaVine’s Minnesota teammates: