Atlanta Hawks v New York Knicks

Carmelo Anthony: “We are the laughingstock of the league right now”

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It’s the most anticipated game on the NBA calendar, a battle of powerhouse franchises fighting for the heart of America’s biggest city…

Or, it could be a big steaming pile of… that stuff you have to scrape off the bottom of your shoe sometimes.

It’s the Thursday night showdown between the 3-13 Knicks vs. the 5-13 Nets in a game one team will have to win. It’s in the rules. It’s also a game in the national spotlight as a TNT Thursday showcase game, complete with Charles Barkley and the Inside the NBA crew mocking these teams that are out-tanking the teams that were trying to tank for the lottery (and the Knicks don’t even have a lottery pick this year, they traded it).

Jason Kidd summed up the “showdown” this way to the Bergin Record.

“It’s the rivalry, [but] both teams stink,” Kidd said Tuesday night…

Frank Isola of the Daily News asked ‘Melo about that comment.

TNT — they know drama. And this ain’t it.

And the participants supposed to be hyping the game up aren’t helping much.

Dwight Howard commits ridiculously sloppy inbound violation (video)

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An embarrassing lack of focus by the Rockets? I can hardly believe it.

Late in a game against a team Houston is battling for playoff position, Dwight Howard was just careless, stepping on the baseline as he inbounded the ball. It’s a needless goof, and he’ll get plenty of deserved criticism for it.

But don’t overlook Patrick Beverley‘s frustration foul on Damian Lillard before the ensuing inbound. That was nearly as foolish and even more costly.

The sequence sparked a 7-0 run for the Trail Blazers, who seized control of the game en route to a 116-103 win.

DeAndre Jordan dunks on Marcus Smart before Smart knows what’s happening (video)

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Marcus Smart went to tag DeAndre Jordan on the pick-and-roll, and Jordan took off from so far from the basket, he was dunking on Smart before the Celtics guard could do a thing.

Chris Paul finds brilliant counter to hack-a-DeAndre Jordan (video)

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I originally favored allowing Hack-a-Shaq as the NBA currently does. I found the strategy fascinated – why and when teams would use it and how their opponents would counter.

But it just became too common. Far too many games featured a parade of trips to the line, a boring stretch that made games too long. I thought the intrigue had run its course.

Then, Chris Paul pulled this move last night.

The Clippers guard saw Jonas Jerebko charging toward DeAndre Jordan to commit an intentional foul, so Paul stepped in front of an unsuspecting Jerebko and took the foul himself. That’s sent a good free-throw shooter to the line instead of the dismal Jordan.

Just an awesome heady play by Paul.