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: Carmelo Anthony tells Phil Jackson he wants to stay with Knicks

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 12:  Carmelo Anthony #7 of the New York Knicks during a stop in play against the Chicago Bulls at Madison Square Garden on January 12, 2017 in New York City. 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  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Phil Jackson asked Carmelo Anthony whether the star forward wanted to remain with the Knicks.

Apparently, what Anthony said publicly over and over and over and over and over was true.

Frank Isola of the New York Daily News:

This further proves Anthony’s loyalty to New York.

A trade could’ve sent him to a better team with a more-desirable boss and netted him a $10 million trade bonus. But Anthony enjoys living and playing in New York, even with the tumult – including Jackson – that follows.

Now, it’s on Jackson to improve the roster around Anthony, repair player-coach relations and create a culture where the starting point guard doesn’t go AWOL.

Report: In ‘far more contentious’ meeting, Phil Jackson asked Carmelo Anthony whether he wanted to stay with Knicks

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Carmelo Anthony finally got his desired meeting with Knicks president Phil Jackson.

Ramona Shelburne of ESPN:

At turn after turn after turn after turn after turn, Anthony has stated his loyalty to the Knicks. What has he done since to indicate he wants to leave New York?

Jackson, not Anthony, has fostered all this recent controversy.

Jackson built a crummy roster that faced a difficult path to the playoffs. Jackson used the code word “posse.”  Jackson publicly critiqued Anthony for being a ball hog. Jackson mouthpiece Charley Rosen wrote “Anthony has outlived his usefulness in New York.”

Anthony just wants to play basketball for a good team in the world’s biggest market – not work under a black cloud. Jackson is making it impossible for Anthony to get all his wishes, though.

So, the question falls to Anthony: Would he rather keep playing for the Knicks – and all that comes with it – or waive his no-trade clause to join another team?

For years, he has unequivocally answered that question publicly with devotion to New York. But the act of Jackson asking might invite a different response.

Draymond Green counters LeBron James: Warriors-Cavaliers is a rivalry

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LeBron James said Warriors-Cavaliers isn’t a rivalry.

After Golden State beat Cleveland last night, Draymond Green interrupted a reporter’s question in his urgency to disagree.

Green, via CSN Bay Area:

Yeah, I think it’s a rivalry. So, yeah. Just me, though.

It’s definitely fun, you know? A team that you beat, that’s beat you – it’s definitely fun. I think, if you look at the last two years and this year, we’ve been the top two teams in the league each year. So, I look at it as a rivalry, and it’s definitely a fun game to play in.

But I don’t really care if anyone else see the game the game the way I see it. I see it how I see it, and they can see it how they do. I don’t really care. It’s fun, though.

This is a competitive game, a fun game to play in. And regardless of Bron thinks this a rivalry or not, I know he wants to beat us – and we want to beat them. And that’s enough in itself.

Of course, Warriors-Cavaliers is a rivalry. Green and LeBron have personally fueled it.

Maybe Green was just trying to knock some sense into LeBron last night.

Rajon Rondo: You couldn’t name three players on 2015-16 Kings, but I led NBA in assists

SACRAMENTO, CA - MARCH 09:  Rajon Rondo #9 of the Sacramento Kings dribbles the ball against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Sleep Train Arena on March 9, 2016 in Sacramento, California. 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.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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Months into his first and only season with the Kings, Rajon Rondo declared himself to be the first veteran teammate ever respected by DeMarcus Cousins.

As he deals with new problems with the Bulls, Rondo is again trashing his former Sacramento teammates.

Rondo, via David Aldridge of NBA.com:

“It’s just, maybe, the personnel in this situation,” Rondo says in response. “I mean, last year — I hate to keep talking about last year — but you couldn’t name three people on my team, the Sacramento Kings, and I led the league in assists. You know? I don’t know. I believe so (that his skill set still has value), given the right personnel and the flow of the game.”

Rondo is right: Playing with Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade is not ideal, and his passing was an asset to the Kings.

He’s also proving his critics right: He’s too often a jerk.

Rondo has declined significantly overall, particularly on defense. His plus passing is barely enough to make him rotation-worthy. It’s not enough for teams cast aside his hardheadedness.

But is Rondo right that you can’t name three members of the 2015-16 Kings? Take this quiz to find out: