Los Angeles Lakers v Miami Heat

LeBron, Kobe named February’s Conference Players of the Month

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LeBron James and Kobe Bryant were named Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Month respectively for games played in February, the league announced via official release.

It was the fourth straight Player of the Month award for James (in case you had any doubt who the leading candidate for MVP is), and the Heat finished February with a 12-1 record, and entered Friday night riding a 12-game winning streak. He led the league in scoring with a 29.7 points per game average, and also led in field goal percentage by shooting 64.1 percent.

Bryant guided the Lakers to a 9-4 record during that span, and led his team by averaging 23.9 points and 6.6 assists per game. He also added three games of at least 30 points, which puts him at 24 of those performances on the season, and ties him with Kevin Durant for the most 30-point games this year.

Some highlights from each player’s award-winning month are as follows:

LeBron James, Miami Heat

Feb. 14 @ Oklahoma City: Recorded 39 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists in a 110-100 victory over the Thunder.

Feb. 23 @ Philadelphia: Posted his third triple-double of the season with 16 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds in a 114-90 win over the 76ers.

Feb. 26 vs Sacramento: Scored a season-high 40 points and grabbed a career-best 16 rebounds in a 141-129 double-overtime triumph against the Kings.

Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers

Feb. 5 @ Brooklyn: Had 20 points, eight rebounds, four assists and four steals in a 92-93 victory against the Nets.

Feb. 10 @ Miami: Recorded 28 points, nine assists and six rebounds in a 107-99 loss to the Heat.

Feb. 24 @ Dallas: Collected 38 points — on 13-of-21 shooting, including 4-of-5 from distance —  12 rebounds and seven assists in the Lakers’ 103-99 win over the Mavericks.

Other players nominated included Atlanta’s Al Horford, Josh Smith and Jeff Teague; Brooklyn’s Brook Lopez; Denver’s Ty Lawson; Houston’s James Harden; Memphis’ Zach Randolph; Miami’s Dwyane Wade, Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, and San Antonio’s Tony Parker.

Report: Joakim Noah tells teammates he’s leaving Bulls

CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 15:  Joakim Noah #13 of the Chicago Bulls runs off of the court after dislocating his left shoulder against the Dallas Mavericks at the United Center on January 15, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. The Mavericks defeated the Bulls 83-77. 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)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
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Joakim Noah said in January he wanted to re-sign with the Bulls. Chicago reportedly wants to keep him.

A perfect match?

Not quite.

Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times:

According to a Bulls player, Noah has been telling teammates the last few weeks that he was done with the organization once free agency begins, and “has no trust in the front office getting this in the right direction.’’

The player was asked if Noah’s feelings had anything to do with first-year coach Fred Hoiberg and the he said, he said that went on early in the season when Noah lost his starting job, and insisted that Noah didn’t offer up that as an explanation.

What was offered up, however, was the fact that there seems to be a complete mistrust that multiple players have toward general manager Gar Forman, with Noah leading the way.

Noah and Hoiberg publicly disagreed about whose choice it was for Noah to come off the bench. Hoiberg said it was Noah’s. Noah said it was Hoiberg’s.

That looked like a petty problem, one both sides could – and maybe did – get over. But it seems Noah has deeper concerns.

This has been a rough year for the Bulls, who missed the playoffs for the first time in eight seasons. That unexpected downturn takes a toll on chemistry and brings buried problems to the surface. That’s especially true considering Chicago fired Tom Thibodeau – a coach who looks better in hindsight. If players miss Thibodeau, that opens the door for them to turn on Forman, who forced out Thibodeau.

That said, the Bulls are probably better off letting Noah walk. He’s 31 and has been banged up the last couple years. I wouldn’t commit big money to him with Taj Gibson, Nikola Mirotic and Bobby Portis under contract and the need for faster players to run Hoiberg’s system. Chicago can’t quickly solve its Jimmy ButlerDerrick Rose issue, because Butler is worth keeping and Rose is under contract another year on a difficult-to-trade deal. But shedding Noah and using the resulting cap flexibility elsewhere gets the team headed in the right direction.

For his part, Noah can seek a fresh start – how about with Thibodeau in Minnesota? – and find a team that suits him, either a win-now squad or a younger group seeking veteran leadership.

Report: Indiana junior Troy Williams staying in NBA draft

PHILADELPHIA, PA - MARCH 25:  Troy Williams #5 of the Indiana Hoosiers reacts in the second half against the North Carolina Tar Heels during the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament East Regional at Wells Fargo Center on March 25, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
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An Indiana player – Thomas Bryant – who likely would’ve been a first-round pick didn’t even declare for the draft without an agent.

Another Indiana player – Troy Williams – who might not even get picked will stay in the draft.

Gregg Doyel of The Indianapolis Star:

Williams, a 6-foot-7 small forward, is an excellent athlete. He’s not strong enough and hasn’t shown enough awareness to project him defending well in the NBA yet. But his length, quickness and leaping ability give him potential on that end. That and transition offense will have to carry him for now, because his outside shot is unimpressive.

There are players like Williams in every draft. It’s on him to convince a team that he has the work ethic and intelligence to refine his game.

Klay Thompson gives most depressing interview answer (video)

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The Warriors are taking a beating on the court, but their turmoil reached heartbreaking levels in Klay Thompson‘s press conference after Game 4.

Thompson, scanning the box score for any semblance of hope, applauded Golden State’s “40 assists” – which would have been the most in a playoff game since 1994. But he quickly realized that couldn’t be right, looked again and sadly announced Golden State had just 15 assists.

Thompson was probably looking at the Warriors’ rebounding total (which was 16 below the Thunder’s).

Report: Steven Adams suffered testicular contusion

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When Draymond Green kicked Steven Adams in the groin, it did more than create mass debate about the appropriate punishment.

Green hurt Adams badly, it sounds like.

John E. Hoover of The Franchise Tulsa:

Once you finish wincing, take a moment to appreciate how tough Adams is. He kept playing in the game and then came out in Game 4 throwing bullet passes.