DeAndre Jordan, Brandon Knight

Monday And-1 links: Should we be praising Brandon Knight for trying to make a play on DeAndre Jordan?

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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.

• Brandon Knight became a trending joke on twitter after the Clippers DeAndre Jordan dunked all over him — R.I.P Knight. But Adrian Wojnarowski at Yahoo Sports says we got it backwards — most guys would have ducked out and not gotten in the poster at all, just let the dunk happen, but Knight made the effort and tried to make a play on it. Woj says he should be praised for that.

• Mike Prada at SBN counters that if Knight had made the right play at the right time he would have taken away the lob opportunity, not gotten dunked on.

• A good interview with John Wall where he says he thinks he deserves a max extension this summer. Among other things.

• Blake Griffin’s game has really grown in the last couple years. For example, he showed a handle Sunday night against the Pistons that only a handful of the game’s elite power forwards can match. He is a good passer and his midrange game is improving. But the Clippers are going to need a lot more from him if they are going to be contenders, our friend Rob Mahoney says at SI.

• Paul Pierce says what Celtics fans want to hear — if we get on a run in the playoffs anything can happen.

• That Pierce interview is part of the NBA’s always must-read column from David Aldridge, his Morning Tip at NBA.com. Also in there this week Aldridge said that quite, private negotiations to buyout Billy Hunter and get the lawsuits dropped and him out of the NBA players union are underway. This was always how this saga would end, the only question is the price.

• Also, if you want more details on what the NBA owners are looking at in the Seattle/Sacramento discussion, Aldridge has as level-headed and good an explanation as you are going to find.

• Another of Monday’s must read posts comes from Kevin Arnovitz at ESPN: How the Clippers are walking the line between elite contender and just very good. Even in the locker room Sunday they talked about using the blowout of the Pistons as a springboard to finishing with the level of play they will need in the postseason.

• Don’t look now, but Tyreke Evans is having a good season. Maybe his best season to date. So…. how much you going to offer him this summer as a restricted free agent?

• Two regulars to this award were named the NBA players of the week — the Heat’s Dwyane Wade for the Eastern Conference and the Lakers’ Kobe Bryant for the West. Wade averaged 25.3 points on .606 shooting, plus had 5.0 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 3.5 steals a game. Bryant averaged 33.0 points, 8.8 assists and 5.8 rebounds a game.

• Here’s a great piece describing why Delonte West is not playing in the NBA right now.

• Here is the argument that Kyrie Irving being out for up to a month is good for a Cavaliers team that should want more ping-pong balls in the lottery.

• Eric Maynor was traded to Portland but now says he wouldn’t mind sticking around.

• Andre Drummond is going to start doing some basketball related activities (as opposed to the pregame workout I watched him go through on Sunday, which involved a lot of running). However, the Pistons will not put a timeline on his return.

• Erik Spoelstra says we are all selling the Heat’s sacrifices short.

Aaron Gordon both legs over the mascot, ball-under-the-legs dunk (VIDEO)

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TORONTO — Zach LaVine won the NBA All-Star Saturday Dunk Contest, but in an epic night for my money this was the single best dunk.

Orlando’s Aaron Gordon broke ground with this one — guys have jumped over mascots and other players before (and a Kia hood), but by splitting their legs apart. Gordon just put both legs over Stuff (that’s the mascot’s name, Stuff the Magic Dragon, I don’t make this up) — and took the ball off the mascot’s head, went under his legs, and threw it down.

Insane.

Gordon deserved a trophy for his performance in this dunk contest.

Zach LaVine edges Aaron Gordon in epic, insane Dunk Contest

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TORONTO — That. Was. Amazing.

In a dunk contest that will go down with the all-time greats — Jordan vs. Dominique, Dr. J from the free throw line — Minnesota’s Zach LaVine defended his dunk contest title. Barely. Because Orlando’s Aaron Gordon was doing dunks nobody had ever seen before.

And LaVine was bringing it just as hard.

The two men advanced to the finals — dismissing Will Barton and Andre Drummond, each of whom had good dunks — and that was when it got wild.

There were four second-round dunks, and four perfect scores of 50. (That was in spite of Shaq, who wanted to give nines for second attempts.)

“I was prepared for four (second round dunks),” LaVine said. “To tell the truth, he came with something that no one else has done. He did two dunks that were just crazy with the mascots, jumping over them. We just kept pushing each other until the last dunk. I’ve got to give it up to my boy Will “The Thrill” Barton. It’s because of him I think I won. Because he said try to go from the free-throw line. I’d never done that before, and I just tried it. So I guess it was a great dunk. I think it was the best one ever.”

The Air Canada Centre crowd was exploding with every dunk. The two men went to a dunk-off — and got two more 50s.

“If I knew it was going to be like that, I would have prepared better and we would have been here dunking all night, going back 50 after 50 after 50 after 50,” Gordon said. “We would have been here all night. I didn’t know it was going to be like that. I was just hoping Zach was going to miss, and it wasn’t going to happen. You could see as my facial expressions when Zach dunks it, it’s like okay, that’s a 50. Like I know we’re going to have to dunk again.”

So they went to a second-round of overtime, where LaVine put up another 50 and won the contest.

Gordon was close to perfect.

Zach LaVine can flat-out fly.

Magic’s Aaron Gordon with the over-the-mascot mad dunk

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TORONTO — Aaron Gordon was giving Zach LaVine all he could handle in the Dunk Contest.

He blew the lid off the Air Canada Centre with this dunk in the first round — and it wasn’t even his best dunk of the night. Never seen this before.

This dunk contest was awesome, so much more video to come.

Zach LaVine opens Slam Dunk Contest title defense with spectacular behind-the-back slam (VIDEO)

during the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge 2016 at Air Canada Centre on February 12, 2016 in Toronto, Canada. 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.
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TORONTO — Zach LaVine clearly heard all the talk that Aaron Gordon or Will Barton had a chance to upset him in the Slam Dunk Contest. He came out ready to prove his superiority right off the bat. This behind-the-back slam was his first attempt of the night:

Even better was the reaction, both from Andre Drummond and from LaVine’s Minnesota teammates: