Rajon Rondo, Brandon Jennings

Brandon Jennings thought he and Rajon Rondo were going to fight during Bucks’ game against Celtics

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The Bucks got a nice road victory over the Celtics on Friday, one that required overtime in Boston to achieve that desired result.

Monta Ellis and Paul Pierce did the heavy lifting for their respective teams in the scoring department, but there was a battle going on at the point guard spot that might have been the most entertaining of the evening, had we been privy to what was actually being said.

Brandon Jennings and Rajon Rondo went at each other from the moment the ball was tipped, and the two engaged in some heavy trash talk early in the first quarter.

With neither player backing down, things escalated quickly, to the point where Jennings wondered if something physical erupting between the two was a distinct possibility.

From Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:

Brandon Jennings and Rajon Rondo were exchanging not-so-pleasantries in the first quarter Friday night in Boston.

Jennings responded to a not-so-gentle nudge from Rondo and the trash talking commenced.

“It was the first quarter,” Jennings said. “I thought at one point we were going to start fighting, but nobody wants to give up that money.”

“I just tried not to get caught up in it,” Jennings said. “He’s going to talk mess. That’s who Rondo is as a point guard.”

It’s interesting that Rondo has adopted the trash-talking persona of Kevin Garnett as a means to an end in trying to get inside his opponent’s head. In this case, however, the two players simply just canceled each other out.

Rondo played 45 minutes and finished with 6 points on 3-of-8 shooting, to go along with 11 assists and four steals.

Jennings played 48 minutes, and scored 12 points on 4-of-11 shooting, while grabbing 11 rebounds and dishing out eight assists, though he did turn the ball over seven times in the process.

No one’s going to fight in an NBA game; the closest you’ll get to that before things are broken up by teammates and officials is something to the effect of the altercation we saw between Tyson Chandler and Joakim Noah.

But it’s good to know that when the mics are off and the ball goes up, things get heated enough during the competition to make players consider it.

[via HoopsHype]

LeBron James says he doesn’t see Cavaliers-Warriors as rivalry

CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 25: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers passes while under pressure from Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors during the first half at Quicken Loans Arena on December 25, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. 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. Mandatory copyright notice. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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Tyronn Lue said Cavaliers-Warriors could eventually match Celtics-Lakers as a rivalry.

First, if you ask LeBron James, Cleveland-Golden State would have to become a rivalry at all.

LeBron, via Joe Vardon Cleveland.com:

“We don’t look at it as a rival,” James said. “They’re a great team. They’ve been the best team the last couple years, last three years.”

“It’s just the next game, it’s Golden State,” James said. “They’re a helluva team, like I said the best team in the league and they’ve been that way the last three years, four years, however long it’s been, I’m not quite sure. But, listen, you guys know, we don’t put all our eggs in one basket for one game.”

Of course, Cavaliers-Warriors is a rivalry. These teams have met in the last two NBA Finals, played each other with relentless intensity, talked plenty of trash and remained elite.

LeBron just doesn’t want the Cavs to become comfortable. They’ve beat Golden State in four straight games – the last three of the 2016 Finals and on Christmas – and could extend the streak to five today. Beating a rival that frequently is a cause for celebration, and celebration leads to contentment. LeBron would rather keep Cleveland focused and hungry. Hence, saying the Warriors aren’t a rival.

Andre Drummond hits 3-pointer from inside Pistons’ own 3-point arc (video)

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Andre Drummond is really good at these deep heaves.

His 3-point percentage (44%) is even better than his free-throw percentage (38%) the last two years, though that says too much about his work from the line.

Drummond wasn’t the only Pistons player converting to end quarters. Ish Smith and Tobias Harris also stepped up in the Pistons’ 102-97 win over the Lakers:

NBA: Suns got away with offensive foul before key points in win over Spurs

Phoenix Suns Devin Booker acknowledges a foul as San Antonio Spurs Tony Parker lies crumpled on the floor, in the second half of their regular-season NBA basketball game in Mexico City, Saturday, Jan. 14, 2017. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell
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Devin Booker scored 39 points in the Suns’ 108-105 win over the Spurs on Saturday in Mexico City.

But Booker’s last four – which put Phoenix up for good – came directly after incorrect calls, according to the NBA’s Last Two Minute Report.

First, Booker drew a (legitimate) foul on Pau Gasol with 1:08 left and made both free throws. The problem: One second before that, Suns center Tyson Chandler should have been called for offensively fouling Tony Parker, according to the league:

Chandler (PHX) sets the screen on Parker (SAS) and makes leg to leg contact that affects his ability to defend the play.

That would’ve ended Phoenix’s possession rather than allowing Booker to get to the line.

The other missed call in the two-minute report is trickier, because it directly benefitted the Spurs but indirectly benefitted the Suns.

Manu Ginobili got away with travelling with 59.1 seconds left, according to  the league:

Ginobili (SAS) moves his pivot foot.

But he coughed up the ball moments later anyway, and – thrilled to gain possession with a live-ball turnover rather than a dead-ball turnover – Booker turned the miscue into a fastbreak dunk.

Rather than debate how to evaluate San Antonio getting away with a travel and it ultimately helping Phoenix more, let’s stick to just the uncalled Chandler offensive foul. That netted the Suns two points. Their lead when the Spurs began intentionally fouling? One.

Russell Westbrook puts up 20th triple-double of season, lifts Thunder past Kings (VIDEO)

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Through 41 games — half the season — Russell Westbrook is averaging 30.8 points, 10.7 rebounds, and 10.5 assists a game. Those numbers are insane, particularly considering his 42 percent usage rate. He has to put up numbers and do so fairly efficiently or the Thunder stand no chance of winning — and he has the Thunder on pace for 48 wins this season.

The Thunder picked up another of those wins Sunday night knocking off the Sacramento Kings behind Westbrook’s 20th triple-double in 41 games — 36 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists. The video highlights are above.

It’s going to be fun watching him and James Harden go back-and-forth in the MVP race for the next few months.