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.

Magic’s Aaron Gordon skies to finish amazing alley-oop (VIDEO)

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Aaron Gordon may not have had the best dunk contest this year — apparently drones and dunks don’t mix well — but the guy can still get up and finish with the best in the league.

As he did on this alley-oop against Detroit.

Elfrid Payton had to throw a lob that would get over Andre Drummond, but how many guys in the league can get that high, reach back and finish that? Damn.

Former Hawk Pero Antic’s celebration accidentally punches teammate in face in Eruoleague (VIDEO)

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Former Atlanta Hawk Pero Antic is now playing for Turkish powerhouse Fenerbahce, in case you were not aware.

Fenerbahce was facing Anadolu Efes in a EuroLeague game, it was tight late and former NBA player Ekpe Udoh was at the free throw line for Fenerbahce. He missed his second shot, but the rebound caromed out-of-bounds off an Anadolu Efes player. Antic was pumped.

Maybe a little too pumped.

Ouch.

That was Nikola Kalinic, by the way, the guy Antic now owes dinner to. Kalinic would like the dinner more than the hug and kiss he got from Antic right after the play.

Also, Anadolu Efes held on to win 80-77.

(Hat tip to Ball Don’t Lie.)

James Harden helped recruit Lou Williams to Houston

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The Lakers had been shopping Lou Williams around in the run-up to the trade deadline, the only question was would they get a first-round pick for him. Rumors around the league say that Houston had offered them one weeks before, it was on the table, but the Jim Buss/Mitch Kupchak front office held their cards close and hoped a better deal would come through.

While all that was going on James Harden decided to ease the process and did a little recruiting calling up Williams, the sixth-man guard told Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

“When James called, he asked me if I was interested in playing with them,” Williams told The Vertical. “I told him that I loved the Lakers, but James and them have a group that fit my personality, fit how I play. He said he was going to make it happen.”

Williams then laughed, sitting on the edge of a visiting court following a recent practice. “I’ve heard that before, so I didn’t really put stock into it,” Williams told The Vertical. “I guess James did put the word in, and the team made it happen.”

We all know what happened, Jeanie Buss removed her brother and Kupchak a few days before the trade deadline, Magic Johnston stepped in, called around, and quickly pulled the trigger on a trade that sent Williams to Houston (the Lakers also got Corey Brewer). Williams has averaged 14.5 points per game and had some strong performances with the Rockets, although he’s still finding his groove with the team on the court. Still, he’s been an upgrade for the Rockets’ bench.

Harden knew he would be, so he did his part to make sure it happened.

Take a look back at just how great Shaq was with the Lakers (VIDEO)

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Shaquille O’Neal was as dominant a force as the NBA has ever seen.

His peak years came with the Lakers, when paired with Kobe Bryant one the court — and Phil Jackson manipulating both of them — they won three titles (and arguably would have had more if they stayed together). Those Lakers teams were one of the NBA’s great teams.

Friday night, the Lakers unveil Shaq’s statue at Staples Center. Take a look back at some of Shaq’s Lakers highlights.