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In defense of Joey Crawford, Chris Paul may have actually deserved his Game 6 ejection (VIDEO)

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We shouldn’t all know the names of certain NBA referees if they’re quietly going about their business of calling games consistently and professionally, without abusing their authority by ringing up players for quick and questionable technical fouls, or even ejections that fall along those same lines.

Joey Crawford, however, is one of the biggest NBA stars among those who don’t put on a particular team’s uniform. As one of the most tenured officials remaining in the game, Crawford has a long history of making himself part of the story at times, which can be maddening for both fans and players alike.

Crawford led the officiating crew that called Game 6 between the Grizzlies and the Clippers, and played fast and loose with the whistle all night long. In total, the two teams were whistled for seven technical fouls (five for L.A., two for Memphis), one flagrant foul (on Chauncey Billups), and two superstars in Chris Paul and Zach Randolph were ejected late in the fourth quarter in separate incidents once the game had already been decided.

Not a great look for the league, obviously. But at least in the case of Paul’s ejection, it may have been justified.

The broadcasters don’t do a great job of pointing out exactly what happened here, even after being shown the replay a couple of times. The best look at what Crawford saw comes at the very beginning of the video clip above in real time, where Paul runs to the paint and gives Marc Gasol a shot to the midsection while Gasol’s head is turned toward the basket.

It didn’t appear to be much, but the contact Paul made didn’t seem to be necessary, either. From where Crawford was standing, and given the fact that it had been a physical game that was essentially over with Memphis up by 14 and less than two and a half minutes to play, you can at least see the reasoning behind his decision to send Paul to an early exit.

Stephen Curry gets fouled, hits crazy rainbow circus shot vs. Jazz (VIDEO)

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Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry is a wizard when it comes to shots you don’t think can ever reach the iron. Each time he does something like this, he surprises you even though you should be used to it by now.

But I’m not. The Utah Jazz aren’t. Heck, maybe even Steph isn’t used to it by now.

As Curry was driving down the left side of the floor on Thursday, Shelvin Mack got out of position and wound up trailing the Warriors star. With Curry rounding the pick, Mack reached and earned a foul.

Thinking quickly, Curry then hoisted up a rainbow of a shot that gently kissed the net on the way down.

Curry would go on to make the free throw for the 3-point play.

Watch Karl-Anthony Towns blow by two defenders, posterize Jonas Valanciunas

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We’re 21 games into Minnesota Timberwolves C Karl-Anthony Towns‘ sophomore season and it already seems cliche to say that he has guard skills

But, like, he does have guard skills.

There was more evidence of that on Thursday night as the Timberwolves matched up with the Toronto Raptors in Canada.

With the ball near the top of the arc and with the Raptors defense collapsing on the Minnesota guards, Towns saw an opportunity to split the defense and run to the rim with the ball.

Toronto C Jonas Valanciunas slid over to meet Towns at the rim, but there wasn’t much anyone could do.

https://streamable.com/sixp

Spurs’ Pau Gasol goofs, heads toward Bulls locker room in return to Chicago (VIDEO)

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Pau Gasol spent two seasons at the United Center with the Chicago Bulls, so it made sense that when he returned as a member of the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday, he would know his way around. In fact, Gasol knows the bowels of Chicago’s home arena so well that he wound up walking toward the wrong locker room as a force of habit.

During the NBA on TNT’s coverage of the game, reporter Allie LaForce showed cameras following Gasol after he said hello to some folks in the tunnel.

Unfortunately, Gasol walked about 15 feet before realizing he was heading to the wrong side.

Maybe it was something of an indicator for the night, as the first few quarters of play between the Spurs and the Bulls were extremely sloppy.

Bucks fans chant “SoundCloud rapper” at Blazers star Damian Lillard

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Damian Lillard had the No. 1 hip-hop album on iTunes. Milwaukee Bucks fans still think he needed to get taken down a peg, so on Wednesday during a game between the Portland Trail Blazers and the Bucks, fans in Milwaukee had a message for Lillard.

Well, it was more of a cheer:

Via Twitter:

If you can’t quite make out what Bucks fans are saying, it was pretty simple: “Sound-Cloud rap-per!”

Lillard famously began his rapping career as an NBA player by releasing songs on SoundCloud — a mostly-free online audio hosting site — but he’s now graduated to a big release with professional production and guest spots by industry legends like Lil’ Wayne, Juvenile, and Jamie Foxx. His debut full-length album came out in October and is called “The Letter O”.

The Blazers superstar also started his own label in November.

Still, the Bucks arena experience is pretty great considering the coordinated t-shirts, the Bandwagon Cam, and Giannis Antetokounmpo.