Wednesday night NBA Grades: Phoenix has a couple dangerous backcourt players

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We’re feeling generous so no bad grades out of of action in the NBA on Thanksgiving eve. Here are our grades for the nigh from games you might have missed while trying to smell like DeAndre Jordan

source:   Goran Dragic, Phoenix Suns. Portland had an 11-game win streak thanks to their offense, but the Blazers defense was vulnerable. Goran Dragic exposed that to the tune 31 points and 11 assists. The Suns fought back from a rough start in the second quarter then pulled away in the third and in those quarters combined Dragic had 25 points on 11 shots, plus 7 assists. When the Suns get Dragic and Eric Bledsoe going at the same time this team should be fun.

source:   (for the effort) Jason Kidd, Brooklyn Nets coach. We did a whole separate post on this — with no timeouts and his team down two (about to be three) with 8.3 seconds left, Kidd stands near the edge of the court holding a Coke and tells Tyshawn Taylor “hit me” which he does, Kidd spills the drink on the court, then while the ball boys clean up the mess Kidd gathers his team and draws up a play. Paul Pierce missed the shot, but nice effort.

source:   Glen Davis, Nikola Vucevic, Orlando Magic. Orlando won this game because they got 52 points in the paint and were better inside, and that was due to the Davis/Vucevic combo — 40 points on 19-of-28 shooting, 21 rebounds and four blocks. That will get it done. If he keeps playing like this and shows he is healthy, Davis is upping his trade value.

source:   Reggie Jackson, Oklahoma City Thunder. Russell Westbrook was just off, 2-of-16 shooting. But Reggie Jackson stepped up with 23 points on 10-of-14 shooting off the bench, providing the spark the Thunder needed to get the win and stop the Spurs 11-game winning streak. Let’s put it that way, after the game Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said, “Reggie Jackson kicked our ass.” Enough said.

source:   Jared Sullinger, Boston Celtics. It was in a losing effort, but Sullinger stood out with 23 points, 12 rebounds and three assists. What matters more is 10 of his points came in the final minutes of the game, leading a furious Celtics comeback that fell just short. Sullinger has become a solid source of production nightly for Boston.

NBA introducing 2-for-1 All-Star voting days

AP Photo/Chris Carlson
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The NBA changed its All-Star format this season from East vs. West to captain-picked teams (though still naming players equally from each conference).

That apparently wasn’t a big enough overhaul.

After including media and player votes last year, the league is making All-Star starter selection even more complex.

NBA release:

NBA All-Star Voting 2018 presented by Verizon will tip off with an early voting period exclusively on the NBA App and NBA.com beginning Thursday, Dec. 21 at 1 p.m. ET.

Voting via all other channels, including Amazon Alexa for the first time, will launch on Monday, Dec. 25 at 11 a.m.

Additionally, new for this season, five “2-for-1 Days” will allow fans to have their votes count twice on Dec. 31, Jan. 4, Jan. 11, Jan. 12 and Jan. 15 when voting through the NBA App and NBA.com, along with Sina Weibo and Tencent in China.  All “2-for-1 Days” will be designated 12 a.m. – 11:59 p.m. ET.

TNT will reveal the All-Star Game starters, including the two captains, on Thursday, Jan. 18 during TNT NBA Tip-Off

The network will announce the reserves, as selected by NBA head coaches, on Tuesday, Jan. 23 during TNT NBA Tip-Off at 7 p.m. ET. 

The team rosters for NBA All-Star Game 2018 in Los Angeles will be revealed on Thursday, Jan. 25 during a special one-hour edition of TNT NBA Tip-Off at 7 p.m. ET.

I suppose this is to drum up interest on otherwise quiet voting days. After all, this is really just about the NBA selling itself.

But the All-Star voting process has always left something to be desired. I don’t see how this changes that.

Report: Lakers ‘longshot’ to sign LeBron James

AP Photo/Jae C. Hong
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Preeminent NBA reporter Adrian Wojnarowski called it “likelyLeBron James would sign with the Lakers or Clippers next summer. The Clippers have since been somewhat debunked as a LeBron destination. There’s circumstantial evidence linking LeBron to Los Angeles.

Ramona Shelburne and Brian Windhorst of ESPN:

So imagining James’ last act coming in purple and gold isn’t without basis. But as of now, it’s also a longshot, according to league sources.

Shelburne and Windhorst are highly credible. I doubt they’d report this without connected sources.

LeBron’s agent, Rich Paul, and manager, Maverick Carter, have recently publicly downplayed the importance of Los Angeles to LeBron. That felt like a coordinated attack on the LeBron-Lakers rumors, and this fits as a continuation.

But why wage that campaign? To keep the Cavaliers focused while LeBron still plays for them, even if he might leave after the season? To lower expectations among the Lakers’ massive fan base, so as not alienate those people (potential customers of the many LeBron-connected brands) when LeBron inevitably signs elsewhere? Both could be true, but there’s obviously a difference between each driving LeBron’s camp.

DeMarcus Cousins barrels in for powerful putback dunk over Bucks (video)

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When DeMarcus Cousins builds up a head of steam like this… poor John Henson (and kind of Khris Middleton).

This helped the Pelicans pull away for a 115-108 win over the Bucks last night.

Enraged Jason Smith restrained from Mario Chalmers (video)

AP Photo/Nick Wass
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During the Wizards’ win over the Grizzlies last night, Mario Chalmers tried to stop Jason Smith from shooting after Smith had been called for travelling. It’s a fairly common tactic, one pioneered by Kevin Garnett. Players don’t want their opponents to gain confidence by seeing the ball go through the net, even after play stops.

But Chalmers held onto Smith’s arm, and Smith took umbrage.

NBC Sports Washington:

I think it’s more likely, after halting Smith’s shot, Chalmers was trying to hold up Smith rather than yank him down. But I can’t know Chalmers’ intentions, and holding up a falling person by his arm isn’t very effective.

The double technical foul called seems about fair.