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.

Friday afternoon fun: Watch James Harden’s 10 best plays from last season

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James Harden had a historic season in Houston.

Since it’s Friday afternoon and your sports viewing options consist of watching guys about to be cut from NFL rosters try to impress, why not check out Harden’s best plays from last season. It’s worth a couple minutes of your time.

Mavericks sign Jeff Withey to one-year contract

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Jeff Withey‘s ex-fiancée accused him of domestic violence, but he was not charged.

That frees him to continue his basketball career, which he’ll do in Dallas.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

The Mavericks could use another center, even if they re-sign Nerlens Noel. Salah Mejri is the only other true center, though Dirk Nowitzki will now play the position.

Withey is a good rim protector. Just don’t ask him to do anything away from the basket.

Dallas annually brings excess players to training camp and has them compete for regular-season roster spots. Whether or not his salary is guaranteed, Withey will likely fall into that competition.

Marc Gasol: If Grizzlies don’t share my goal of continued growth, we might have to revisit things

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The Grizzlies’ Grit & Grind era has ended.

Zach Randolph signed with the Kings, and Tony Allen appears likely to leave Memphis, too. The Grizzlies are prioritizing younger/cheaper players like Ben McLemore and Tyreke Evans.

Marc Gasol via Ala Carta, as translated by HoopsHype:

I’m very ambitious and I’ve wanted Memphis to be a great franchise. We’ve grown a lot the last 6-7 years, but we have to keep growing. If this is not lined up, maybe we may have to revisit things.

Gasol has been loyal to Memphis, and his first wish is probably winning there. But Giannis Antetokounmpo put it well: Teams must also do right by their players. Gasol is 32 and doesn’t have much time in his prime left. I see why rebuilding wouldn’t interest him.

But what will he do about it if the Grizzlies don’t prioritize the present? They made their push last summer with a max contract for Chandler Parsons, but because Parsons can’t stay healthy, that deal only inhibits team growth.

Gasol is locked up for two more years before a player option. He doesn’t have much leverage. This is part of the reason LeBron James keeps signing short-term contracts. Gasol doesn’t have the same ability to steer his team in his desired direction

On the potentially bright side, rebuilding teams often don’t have much use for 32-year-olds guaranteed more than $72 million over the following three years. If the fit devolves, Memphis becomes more likely to trade him.

Celtics to retire Paul Pierce’s number after Cavaliers game in February

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The Celtics already said they’d retire Paul Pierce’s No. 34.

Now, we know when.

Celtics release:

The Boston Celtics announced today that they will retire Paul Pierce’s No. 34 after a mid-season game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday, Feb. 11

After? That’s apparently in response to a new rule that penalizes teams not ready to play after a 15-minute halftime. These ceremonies can drag on, and nobody wants to cut Pierce short. I wonder whether this will start a trend of number retirements coming after games.