Cleveland Cavaliers v New Jersey Nets

Cavaliers get Kyrie Irving back Sunday against Hornets

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Kyrie Irving will return to the Cavaliers’ lineup against the Hornets, the team announced on Sunday.

Irving has missed his tam’s last eight games with a shoulder injury, and despite Cleveland riding a seven game losing streak and already having been eliminated from playoff contention with just 11 regular season games remaining, the team is letting its star point guard return to action now that he’s ready, just as they had promised.

“It wasn’t so much what I noticed but it was the way he was moving, the way he said he felt,” Cavs head coach Byron Scott said, via the Associated Press. “He has to trust me. If I don’t think he looks right, if I don’t think he’s moving well, then I’ll take him out.”

“If we thought he was in any danger we would not put him out there,” Scott said. “That’s first and foremost. I’m the cautious one when it comes to putting him out there.”

Irving will be held out of Monday’s game in Atlanta on the second night of a back-to-back as a precaution.

Irving is averaging 23 points, 5.7 assists, and 3.7 rebounds, while playing 35.1 minutes per game this season. He’s provided us with some of the year’s more memorable moments, including engaging Brandon Knight in a battle over All-Star weekend, dominating late while leading his team to a big win over the Oklahoma City Thunder, and wearing a mask while scoring a career-high 41 points at Madison Square Garden against the New York Knicks.

Dwight Howard commits ridiculously sloppy inbound violation (video)

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An embarrassing lack of focus by the Rockets? I can hardly believe it.

Late in a game against a team Houston is battling for playoff position, Dwight Howard was just careless, stepping on the baseline as he inbounded the ball. It’s a needless goof, and he’ll get plenty of deserved criticism for it.

But don’t overlook Patrick Beverley‘s frustration foul on Damian Lillard before the ensuing inbound. That was nearly as foolish and even more costly.

The sequence sparked a 7-0 run for the Trail Blazers, who seized control of the game en route to a 116-103 win.

DeAndre Jordan dunks on Marcus Smart before Smart knows what’s happening (video)

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Marcus Smart went to tag DeAndre Jordan on the pick-and-roll, and Jordan took off from so far from the basket, he was dunking on Smart before the Celtics guard could do a thing.

Chris Paul finds brilliant counter to hack-a-DeAndre Jordan (video)

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I originally favored allowing Hack-a-Shaq as the NBA currently does. I found the strategy fascinated – why and when teams would use it and how their opponents would counter.

But it just became too common. Far too many games featured a parade of trips to the line, a boring stretch that made games too long. I thought the intrigue had run its course.

Then, Chris Paul pulled this move last night.

The Clippers guard saw Jonas Jerebko charging toward DeAndre Jordan to commit an intentional foul, so Paul stepped in front of an unsuspecting Jerebko and took the foul himself. That’s sent a good free-throw shooter to the line instead of the dismal Jordan.

Just an awesome heady play by Paul.