Lionel Hollins is not watching NCAA Tournament with you

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Every year the NCAA Tournament brings out the NBA snobbery of some people — they pick apart the flaws and execution errors of the college teams, laugh at the mockery that is the “amateur” system the NCAA enforces, and generally act above it all.

Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins is one of those guys.

He’s not watching the tournament — and his son plays on the Minnesota team that faces UCLA in the first round Friday. (Call me a snob, but to me the round of 64 is still the first round, the play-in games I have no use for.)

Hollins was asked if he was going to watch his son play and the Star-Tribune caught his response:

“I’m not,” he said. “I don’t watch him play.”

Because? “I don’t like college basketball,” he said.

He’s not kidding — he said he went to his son’s high school games and hated it (not his son, the level of play). When pressed a little he elaborated.

“It’s hard to watch college basketball … There’s not a lot of playing,” he said. “The pro game, with the 24-second clock, moving up and down the court, you get at least 100 possessions every game.

“In college, especially in the Big Ten … I watched Wisconsin and Minnesota play down the stretch and I couldn’t take it. They just hold the ball and hold the ball, and try to get a shot with 10 seconds on the clock.

To be fair, the NBA only averaged 94.7 possessions in 48 minutes. College games that drops closer to 70 (depends on the team).

I’m not snob guy — I like college basketball. I have Long Beach State season tickets (three straight years Big West regular season champs, thank you very much). I love the energy and passion the players go with most nights. Please, please don’t try to argue college is better basketball — if you think college teams play better as a team, you don’t know the game or don’t watch enough NBA. The picks that are set in college are weak, the mental mistakes far more numerous (and not as quickly exploited) and teams do take their time trying to pick a hole in the defense. But that doesn’t make it hard for me to watch.

I’m a basketball junkie — college, NBA, I watch it all. I love them both for what they are, not pick them apart for what they are not. Why can’t we just all get along?

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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