Monday And-1 Links: JaVale McGee should be back Tuesday

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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 like you loved the Beyonce halftime show.

• Set your DVRs: JaVale McGee should return to the Nuggets rotation Tuesday. That’s bad news if your name is Timofey Mozgov, but good news if you’re looking for something to put in your next blooper reel.

• Brandon Jennings has changed agents to sign with Jeff Shwartz. What’s that mean? Jennings is a restricted free agent next summer and the man wants to get paid. As Ken Berger points out at CBSSports.com, Shwartz’s pattern is to get players in bigger markets where they have more endorsement opportunities. Not ideal for the Bucks (although they can match any offer Jennings gets next summer.

• Would Kevin Garnett actually let the Celtics trade him?

• A Detroit columnist complaining about how many Kobe Bryant fans were at the Palace Sunday. It’s like that in almost every arena Kobe or LeBron James play in, truth be told.

• Deron Williams’ new $15.8 million New York penthouse is… well, you get what you pay for.

• Since talk of a potential move to Seattle started, the Kings have really struggled on the court.

• Jeremy Lin tweaked his ankle in practice Monday and is now a game-time decision for Tuesday.

• Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is out Monday with a concussion and may not play Wednesday either. He needs to be cleared by a league neurologist before he can get back on the court.

• It may be late for most of you, but if you read one bit of Rudy Gay trade analysis it should be this one from Tom Ziller at SBN. Fantastic stuff.

• In the wake of a lot of Super Bowl betting, not to mention a major match fixing scandal in the international soccer world, there’s a great story in the New Yorker asking if we as America need to reconsider our national ban on sports gambling. It’s not a simple debate.

• Some interesting statistical milestones to watch in the NBA as we head into the second half of the season.

John Wall scores 37 as Wizards down LeBron James, Cavs 127-115

Associated Press
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CLEVELAND (AP) John Wall scored 37 points, Bradley Beal added 27 and the Washington Wizards began a challenging road trip by beating LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers 127-115 on Saturday night.

Wall scored 18 in the first quarter, when the Wizards shot 82 percent, and Washington held on down the stretch to avenge an overtime loss to the NBA champions last month.

James, who briefly wore goggles to protect an eye injury sustained Friday night, scored 24 and added 11 rebounds and eight assists. Kyrie Irving added 23 points and Kevin Love 17 for Cleveland, playing at home for the only time in a seven-game stretch.

Washington’s victory cut Cleveland’s lead in the Eastern Conference to a half-game over idle Boston.

Rudy Gobert calls out Jazz teammates after loss: “We’ve just got to compete. We’re too nice.”

Associated Press
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Utah and the L.A. Clippers are almost locked into a first round, four vs. five battle in the Western Conference. The only question is which team will have home court, and the Clippers took a big step towards that beating the Jazz at home Saturday. While the Jazz still has a half-game lead, the Clippers have a much softer schedule the rest of the way.

After that loss, Jazz center Rudy Gobert was ticked off and called out his teammates. Via Tim MacMahon of ESPN.

“We’ve got guys that compete, but some of us don’t compete. Some of us just think about scoring. That’s what it is. … Coach keeps repeating it: We’ve just got to compete. We’re too nice. Those guys, we know they’re going to get calls. We’ve just got to come out aggressive and ready to fight.”

Interesting comments for a team that is third in the NBA in defensive rating and 13th in offense.

Gobert is frustrated as Utah has dropped four of its last five, and the slump has been on both ends of the court. The defense has struggled, but if guys are looking to score too much they aren’t doing it efficiently because the offense has been worse.

This slide likely costs Utah home court in the first round, which could matter in what will be a tight matchup with Los Angeles. Utah needs to find its grinding rhythm again heading into the playoffs, at their best they can knock off the Clippers in the first round. Just not like they are playing now.

One thing to watch, Utah’s Gordon Hayward asked out of the game in the fourth quarter due to what is being called a bruised muscle in his leg. If he misses any time or if this lingers, it could be trouble for the Jazz in the postseason.

 

LeBron James starts game with protective goggles. That lasts about a minute.

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LeBron James suffered a scratched cornea Friday night when he went up for a layup late in the third quarter and Jeremy Lamb tried to contest and caught him clean across the face. LeBron got the and-1, but had trouble keeping his eye open in postgame interviews Friday.

Saturday he did play — wearing protective goggles. As you can see above.

That lasted about a minute.

LeBron was likely frustrated as the Cavaliers defensive woes had the Wizards up double digits much of the first half.

Kobe Bryant says he’s “only a phone call away” if organization needs his advice

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For the first time since he walked off the court in his final game, Kobe Bryant was back at Staples Center Friday night.

The reason was Shaquille O’Neal was getting a statue out in front of Staples Center (a building that may not have gotten built without the two of them). The two famed feuders sat next to each other and joked around through the ceremony. Time heals all wounds.

With the new management of the Lakers — specifically Kobe’s former agent Rob Pelinka as GM — there has been speculation Kobe could take on a role. He’s not looking for something formal, according to reports, but he didn’t say no, either, when asked.

I picture Kobe as a guy who someday buys a team, not a guy who wants to haggle with agents over the details of a contract. He’s not going to take on a day-to-day role, he likes the retired life and what he is building with the Kobe brand.

That said, the Lakers front office can use all the smart voices it can get as they try speed up a rebuild. They should give him a call every once in a while.