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?

Warriors say Kevin Durant doing non-contact drills, could return before end of season

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Kevin Durant has been working out on the court before the last couple of Warriors road games, and people watching have taken note — he was moving well, shooting, and generally looking healthy for a guy coming off a grade 2 MCL sprain and a bone bruise.

Reports were out that Durant was on target to return before the end of the season.

Wednesday the Warriors confirmed that.

Teams are vague, realistically what is that timeline?

Durant likely would be on a minutes restriction for those game, but just getting to shake the rust off and work on his conditioning in a real game would help Golden State heading into the playoffs.

Not that they need much help, having won eight in a row. The Warriors have a 2.5 game lead over the Spurs for the top seed in the Western Conference heading into the game between the two Wednesday night.

Check out Lakers’ stretch of hitting 15 straight shots to end third quarter (VIDEO)

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The Lakers lost to the Wizards because they are young, inconsistent, and defend like traffic cones at times.

But that young Lakers core also has its moments.

Los Angeles strung together 15 straight made buckets to end the third quarter Tuesday night. Some of it was flukey, like Corey Brewer driving and finishing contested layups like he’s Kyrie Irving, but there were things Lakers fans should want to see such as D'Angelo Russell draining threes, Jordan Clarkson working hard off the ball and his teammates finding him, and Julius Randle just attacking.

After this run the Lakers led by 13 going into the fourth, but lost the game.

It’s official: Joakim Noah cleared to play, 20-game suspension starts tonight

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What this ultimately means is next season the Knicks should have Joakim Noah available just before Thanksgiving.

Noah has been suspended 20 games for testing positive for a banned substance, but because he was out due to knee surgery the suspension did not start until he was “physically able to play.” Noah said on Tuesday that he had been cleared, but that was just by the team doctors. He also had to be cleared by the NBA’s doctors (because if teams could cheat they would).

That happened Wednesday, according to Ian Begley of ESPN.

Noah’s first season in New York after signing a four-year, $72 million deal has been a disappointment. To put it kindly. He’s not been completely healthy, and any observer of him the past few years had to wonder if he would ever be fully healthy again. He had lost a step from the 2014 Defensive Player of the Year before the Knicks signed him. The Knicks don’t need him to necessarily be that dominant a force again (although it would be nice), but they need to get more out of him and see if he is a fit next to Kristaps Porzingis for now as the Knicks try to build a roster for next season that can play a little defense. And the triangle.

Report: Pacers bring back Lance Stephenson in time for playoffs; deal for three-years, $12 million

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The Indiana Pacers need healthy bodies for their playoff run, and they had three rotation guys injured between Al Jefferson, Glenn Robinson III, and Rodney Stuckey. Wednesday, the Pacers waived Stuckey to create an open roster spot to bring in some help (they were not going to pick up his option for next season anyway).

Who are they bringing in? The prodigal son Lance Stephenson returns, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

The surprising part of the deal was the security Stephenson got, as first reported by Adam Zagoria at his blog — three years, $12 million, with a player option for the final year. (This has since been confirmed by other sources.) Other teams were looking at giving Stephenson a 10-day contract, the length of the Pacers’ offer is a surprise.

Stephenson played in six games for Minnesota recently, averaging 3.5 points per game off the bench, but an ankle sprain kept the Timberwolves from really having to decide whether to keep him for the season. Stephenson knows how to create shots for himself and can be a good defender when focused, something we saw with the Pelicans at the start of this season — he became a key part of their rotation averaging 9.7 points and 4.8 assists per game until he tore his groin.

It’s a little strange to see him back in Pacers colors. It will be particularly strange if the Pacers stay in the seven seed and the Cavaliers remain the two-seed setting up a first-round playoff series. Because I don’t think any of us need to see this again.

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