UPDATE: League rescinds Kobe’s Monday technical, now three away from suspension

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UPDATE 1:19 pm: Kobe Bryant was right, the league has rescinded Kobe’s technical from Monday night.

Kobe was complaining about not getting a call (shocking!) right at the end of the half on a half-court heave. You don’t get that call unless someone goes Jadeveon Clowney in tackling the shooter. But it wasn’t the ref Kobe was talking to that made the call, it was Joey Crawford running in from the other side. In a very Joey Crawford way. The league understands so they rescinded the tech.

That leaves Kobe at 13, still just three off being suspended for a game.

10:35 am: Monday night in Denver, the referees were calling it tight for whatever reason — they issued three technical in the first half. And it wasn’t like these were elbow-to-the-head obvious calls, they hit up George Karl and anyone else complaining about calls.

Kobe Bryant knew that when he felt he was fouled on the end-of-half heave from halfcourt at the buzzer. Kobe felt he was fouled, but nobody ever gets that call, still Kobe walked up to referee Josh Tiven and complained about the call.

Joey Crawford rushed in from the other side and hit Kobe with a technical — his 14th of the season.

That leads the league. It also means he is going to get a letter from the league office reminding him that if he gets to 16 he gets suspended for a game.

Kobe believes the league will take back Monday’s reports Kevin Ding of the Orange County Register. But whether they do or don’t Kobe needs to be careful because the Lakers are fighting to make the playoffs, every game matters and they can’t afford to be without him for a game. And this season in particular a frustrated Kobe likes to argue with the referees. Mike D’Antoni discussed it after the game, as reported by Ding.

“He has to control that,” Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said. “We can’t afford to lose him for a game, not like that.”

Not at all. The Lakers remain three games back of the Rockets (who have an easy schedule the rest of the way) and 3.5 back of the Jazz (who have a much harder schedule). The Rockets are playing well and the Jazz didn’t trade Al Jefferson or Paul Millsap at the deadline — neither team is coming back to the Lakers, they have to go get them. And they can’t do that without Kobe there every night.

Celtics’ Kyrie Irving: “It was a nice streak. But it was time to come to an end.”

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The Celtics established themselves as one of the NBA’s elite teams, a contender for the Eastern Conference title, during their 16-game win streak.

However, that hot streak to start the season will matter as much as Thanksgiving leftovers in the back of the refrigerator in April by the time the playoffs roll around. This is a team that still has work to do.

Which is what Kyrie Irving was getting at in this post-loss quote from Friday night, via Israel Gutierrez of ESPN.

“There’s still a lot to accomplish going forward,” Irving said. “It was a nice streak. But it was time to come to an end.”

This team still needs to get better and more consistent. The Celtics had to come from behind in the fourth quarter in eight of the 16 wins, and while the team defense was impressive the offense still can be hit and miss. Al Horford and Kyrie Irving play well off each other, but this is still the 20th ranked offense in the NBA. They are taking more long midrange jumpers than most coaches want, but the bigger challenge is they have not been finishing around the basket.

Titles are not won in November. Irving gets that. Jayson Tatum will hit the rookie wall at some point (they all do) and he needs to prove he can break through. Al Horford is playing maybe the best ball of his career and needs to keep it up. The Celtics need to keep their defensive focus (the fundamentals are there to have a top five defense). I could go on but you get the point, and so does Irving — there is a lot of work for this team to do.

Boston is off to a fantastic start, but it’s just that.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich: I’ve never seen injury like Kawhi Leonard’s

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Gregg Popovich is a basketball lifer.

He’s the NBA’s most experienced active head coach. Before that, he was the Spurs’ general manager. Before that, he was an NBA assistant. Before that, he was a college head coach and assistant. Before that, he was a college player. Before that, he was a youth player.

The San Antonio coach has seen everything.

Except the right quadriceps tendinopathy suffered by Kawhi Leonard, whom Popovich said more than a week would return “sooner rather than later.” Yet, Leonard still hasn’t played this season.

Popovich, via Michael C. Wright of ESPN:

“Never, never,” Popovich said when asked whether he has seen such a condition hampering one of his players. “What’s really strange is that [point guard] Tony [Parker] has the same injury, but even worse. They had to go operate on his quad tendon and put it back together or whatever they did to it. So to have two guys, that’s pretty incredible. I had never seen it before those guys.”

“I keep saying sooner rather than later,” Popovich said jokingly. “It’s kind of like being a politician. It’s all baloney, doesn’t mean anything.”

The 26-year-old Leonard is one of the NBA’s biggest on-court stars. He might be the league’s best defender, and he has built himself into an offensive force. The Spurs (11-7) have fared fine without him so far, but they’ll need him to accomplish their main goals – this year and beyond.

Hopefully, Leonard’s health is better than it sounds here, because Popovich’s answer sure isn’t encouraging.

Tim Hardaway Jr. calls fallen ref safe rather than defend shot (video)

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The Knicks went on a 28-0 run.

They earned the right to showboat late in their win over the Raptors last night.

Tim Hardaway Jr. called a ref, who slipped on the baseline, safe rather than contest Serge Ibaka‘s 3-pointer. Perfection!

Luc Mbah a Moute sets modern record at +57 in Rockets’ win over Nuggets

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Luc Mbah a Moute is a quietly good player.

He’s an effective and versatile defender. Offensively, he shoots 3-pointers well enough to score efficiently and spread the floor. Most of all, the 31-year-old just understands how to play and plays within himself. His teams tend to perform better when he’s on the floor.

That’s an understatement for Wednesday night.

In a 125-95 win, the Rockets outscored the Nuggets by a whopping 57 points in Mbah a Moute’s 26 minutes. That’s the best single-game plus-minus in the Basketball-Reference database, which dates back to the 2000-01 season. It tops Joe Smith’s +52 in a 2001 Timberwolves win over the Bulls, a 53-point game that also produced a +50 for Wally Szczerbiak and +48 for Terrell Brandon.

Mbah a Moute’s traditional stat line was impressive, though not overly so: 13 points on 5-of-5 shooting with four rebounds, four steals and an assist. He played well, contributing to winning in all the small ways he often does, and the Rockets happened to play excellently around him.

Now, Mbah a Moute tops the leaderboard in single-game plus-minus since 2000-01:

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