Tuesday And-1 links: Kyrie Irving is on the cover of NBA Live ’14.

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Here is our regular look around the NBA — links to stories worth reading and notes to check out (stuff that did not get its own post here at PBT) — done in bullet point form. Because bloggers love bullet points like I love Top Chef

• Kyrie Irving is on the cover of NBA Live 14. Above you get a little taste of the game.

• Our old friend Rob Mahoney, now of SI, tries to make the point we shouldn’t be comparing LeBron James and Michael Jordan because it is a disservice to LeBron. Not that he’s better, but he’s different. That will lead some in the comments to bash LeBron (and Mahoney).

Who has had a better run: The Tim Duncan Spurs or the Tom Brady Patriots? I think the better question is whether Gregg Popovich or Bill Belichick detest press conferences more?

• Popovich and the Spurs GM R.C. Buford have quite a coaching/GM tree in the league now.

• A lot of people don’t understand why George Karl is out in Denver, here is as good a breakdown as you will find (courtesy Zach Lowe at Grantland).

• The Bulls have broken ground on their new practice facility, which when done will be right across the street from the United Center.

• The Sixers front office is playing their coaching search very close to the vest. (Which never goes over well with reporters.)

• The Boston Celtics and Minnesota Timberwolves are going to play a preseason game at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, on October 20. It’s the second year in a row the NBA has brought a game to Canada to try and crack that market… oh, yea, forgot about them. Never mind. But they are going to Montreal anyway.

• Speaking of the Celtics, their owner Wyc Grousbeck has teamed up with some other guys to pool about $80 million to invest in sports media.

• The Pacers are doing a lot better financially after that long run in the playoffs.

But was the Pacers season a success?

• Right now a lot of NBA teams are bringing in potential draft picks for workouts. What is that actually like?

• Minnesota’s Alexey Shved will not play in Summer League because he will be playing in Eurobasket for Russia.

• Kevin Saraphin, however, will not play for the French national team this summer.

• The NBA launched its new “Best Teammate Award” (Chauncey Billups was the winner) and named it the Twyman-Stokes Award. Here is the amazing story of where that name came from.

John Wall scores 37 as Wizards down LeBron James, Cavs 127-115

Associated Press
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CLEVELAND (AP) John Wall scored 37 points, Bradley Beal added 27 and the Washington Wizards began a challenging road trip by beating LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers 127-115 on Saturday night.

Wall scored 18 in the first quarter, when the Wizards shot 82 percent, and Washington held on down the stretch to avenge an overtime loss to the NBA champions last month.

James, who briefly wore goggles to protect an eye injury sustained Friday night, scored 24 and added 11 rebounds and eight assists. Kyrie Irving added 23 points and Kevin Love 17 for Cleveland, playing at home for the only time in a seven-game stretch.

Washington’s victory cut Cleveland’s lead in the Eastern Conference to a half-game over idle Boston.

Rudy Gobert calls out Jazz teammates after loss: “We’ve just got to compete. We’re too nice.”

Associated Press
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Utah and the L.A. Clippers are almost locked into a first round, four vs. five battle in the Western Conference. The only question is which team will have home court, and the Clippers took a big step towards that beating the Jazz at home Saturday. While the Jazz still has a half-game lead, the Clippers have a much softer schedule the rest of the way.

After that loss, Jazz center Rudy Gobert was ticked off and called out his teammates. Via Tim MacMahon of ESPN.

“We’ve got guys that compete, but some of us don’t compete. Some of us just think about scoring. That’s what it is. … Coach keeps repeating it: We’ve just got to compete. We’re too nice. Those guys, we know they’re going to get calls. We’ve just got to come out aggressive and ready to fight.”

Interesting comments for a team that is third in the NBA in defensive rating and 13th in offense.

Gobert is frustrated as Utah has dropped four of its last five, and the slump has been on both ends of the court. The defense has struggled, but if guys are looking to score too much they aren’t doing it efficiently because the offense has been worse.

This slide likely costs Utah home court in the first round, which could matter in what will be a tight matchup with Los Angeles. Utah needs to find its grinding rhythm again heading into the playoffs, at their best they can knock off the Clippers in the first round. Just not like they are playing now.

One thing to watch, Utah’s Gordon Hayward asked out of the game in the fourth quarter due to what is being called a bruised muscle in his leg. If he misses any time or if this lingers, it could be trouble for the Jazz in the postseason.

 

LeBron James starts game with protective goggles. That lasts about a minute.

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LeBron James suffered a scratched cornea Friday night when he went up for a layup late in the third quarter and Jeremy Lamb tried to contest and caught him clean across the face. LeBron got the and-1, but had trouble keeping his eye open in postgame interviews Friday.

Saturday he did play — wearing protective goggles. As you can see above.

That lasted about a minute.

LeBron was likely frustrated as the Cavaliers defensive woes had the Wizards up double digits much of the first half.

Kobe Bryant says he’s “only a phone call away” if organization needs his advice

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For the first time since he walked off the court in his final game, Kobe Bryant was back at Staples Center Friday night.

The reason was Shaquille O’Neal was getting a statue out in front of Staples Center (a building that may not have gotten built without the two of them). The two famed feuders sat next to each other and joked around through the ceremony. Time heals all wounds.

With the new management of the Lakers — specifically Kobe’s former agent Rob Pelinka as GM — there has been speculation Kobe could take on a role. He’s not looking for something formal, according to reports, but he didn’t say no, either, when asked.

I picture Kobe as a guy who someday buys a team, not a guy who wants to haggle with agents over the details of a contract. He’s not going to take on a day-to-day role, he likes the retired life and what he is building with the Kobe brand.

That said, the Lakers front office can use all the smart voices it can get as they try speed up a rebuild. They should give him a call every once in a while.