Sunday night NBA grades: Kevin Love can defend, too

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Our quick look around the NBA, or what you missed while laughing at LeBron James’ recent outfit

source:  Kevin Love, Minnesota Timberwolves. He could be here for the 30 points on 21 shots. He could be here for the 9 rebounds (which is a little off his pace a little), But he is here because a guy much maligned for his defense did a good job on Zach Randolph in the post and that was the real key to slowing the Memphis attack (Z-Bo was 7-of-19 on the night and while he got 20 he really had to work for them).

source:  Memphis Grizzlies defense. Last season this team was a defensive force, this season not so much. They have not been good on that end all season but it is just getting worse. Sunday night they gave up 113.5 points per 100 possessions to Minnesota. In their five games (four of them losses) the Grizzlies have allowed 113.4 points per 100 possessions, which is the worst in the NBA over the that stretch. That will not get it done.

source:  Rudy Gay, Sacramento Kings. Give the man some credit for a fairly efficient night in his home debut in Sacramento — 26 points on 10-of-20 shooting. More than that his shots were not forced (most were good looks) and he had five rebounds, four steals and four assists. The Kings don’t beat the Rockets without him.

source:  Eric Bledsoe, Phoenix Suns. Stephen Curry tried but he doesn’t have the quickness to stay in front of Bledsoe, who racked up 24 points on 16 shots, plus added 8 rebounds and 8 assists. Bledsoe and Goran Dragic are a very underrated combo in the backcourt — they played Curry and Klay Thompson toe-to-toe. Five wins in a row for the Suns and Bledsoe has been key for that stretch.

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.