Mike Woodson, Herb Williams

Mike Woodson on the Atlantic Division: ‘I expect us to win it this year’

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As Knicks coach, Mike Woodson is supposed to remain positive.

As a basketball blogger, I’m supposed to make fun of anyone who says anything positive about the woeful Knicks.

So, let’s just get to it.

Woodson, via Al Iannazzone of Newsday:

“Do I see some light at the end of the tunnel? I do,” Woodson said. “I think eventually we’ll get to where we need to get as a ballclub. And I’m basing that on our last 12 games. Eventually we’ll get healthy and we’ll see how it all plays out.

“The beauty about all of this that we’re going through is nobody’s running away with it in our division and I’m pushing our team to win our division still. We won it last year and I expect us to win it this year.”

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Here are the Atlantic Division standings:

  • Raptors, 11-15
  • Celtics, 12-17
  • Knicks, 9-19
  • Nets, 9-19
  • 76ers, 8-20

Sure, the Knicks still have a chance, but based on that, it’s difficult to objectively predict New York will win the division.

Oh, oops. My mistake. Woodson is judging it by each each team’s best 12-game stretch. That makes some sense, seeing which team has indicated the highest ceiling. How do the Atlantic teams rank with that method?

  • Celtics, 8-4
  • Knicks, 6-6
  • Nets, 6-6
  • Raptors, 5-7
  • 76ers, 5-7

Nope. New York still isn’t No. 1 that way.

But maybe Woodson specifically meant each team’s last 12 games. You know, recent sample being more telling and all. In that case:

  • Celtics, 6-6
  • Knicks, 6-6
  • Raptors, 5-7
  • Nets, 5-7
  • 76ers, 2-10

New York comes close, but it loses the tiebreaker to Boston, because the Celtics beat the Knicks during this span.

I just can’t spin the numbers to put the Knicks in the diver’s seat. But I guess that’s not my job. It’s Woodson’s.

Zach LaVine edges Aaron Gordon in epic, insane Dunk Contest

Minnesota Timberwolves Zach LaVine slam dunks the ball during the NBA all-star skills competition in Toronto on Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016. (Mark Blinch/The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
Associated Press
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TORONTO — That. Was. Amazing.

In a dunk contest that will go down with the all-time greats — Jordan vs. Dominique, Dr. J from the free throw line — Minnesota’s Zach LaVine defended his dunk contest title. Barely. Because Orlando’s Aaron Gordon was doing dunks nobody had ever seen before.

And LaVine was bringing it just as hard.

The two men advanced to the finals — dismissing Will Barton and Andre Drummond, each of whom had good dunks — and that was when it got wild.

There were four second-round dunks, and four perfect scores of 50. (That was in spite of Shaq, who wanted to give nines for second attempts.)

The Air Canada Centre crowd was exploding with every dunk. The two men went to a dunk-off — and got two more 50s.

So they went to a second-round of overtime, where LaVine put up another 50 and won the contest.

Gordon was close to perfect. Zach LaVine can flat-out fly.

Magic’s Aaron Gordon with the over-the-mascot mad dunk

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TORONTO — Aaron Gordon was giving Zach LaVine all he could handle in the Dunk Contest.

He blew the lid off the Air Canada Centre with this dunk in the first round — and it wasn’t even his best dunk of the night. Never seen this before.

This dunk contest was awesome, so much more video to come.

Zach LaVine opens Slam Dunk Contest title defense with spectacular behind-the-back slam (VIDEO)

during the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge 2016 at Air Canada Centre on February 12, 2016 in Toronto, Canada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.
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TORONTO — Zach LaVine clearly heard all the talk that Aaron Gordon or Will Barton had a chance to upset him in the Slam Dunk Contest. He came out ready to prove his superiority right off the bat. This behind-the-back slam was his first attempt of the night:

Even better was the reaction, both from Andre Drummond and from LaVine’s Minnesota teammates:

Splash Brothers showtime: Klay Thompson beats Stephen Curry to win Three-Point Contest

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TORONTO — It came down to the Splash Brothers. Because of course it did. Just like last season.

In the final round of the NBA All-Star Saturday Three-Point Shootout, defending champ Stephen Curry hit his first eight shots and set the bar high with 23 points — the best score of the night.

His backcourt teammate Klay Thompson responded by draining his last seven shots, which included the entire money rack, and put up 27 points — tying the event record.

That gave Thompson the upset win and the Three-Point Contest title.

Although, is it an upset if the second best shooter in the game beats the best?

“It was like déjà vu last year,” Thompson said. “Not gonna lie, I got nervous when he hit his first eight, and I didn’t think he was going to miss. But it was exciting, just coming back to Oakland [with the title], you know. Back-to-back years for Splash Brothers, it’s pretty cool.”

So does Thompson have bragging rights?

“(For) about 364 days, and then — but that’s a daily thing we do,” Thompson said. “We love to shoot against each other. You know, I’ve never been on a team with someone who shoots it better than me, so it’s a privilege to work with him every day. He makes me that much better.”

The Final round was two you expected — the Splash Brothers — plus one few did, Suns rookie Devin Booker.

Getting there was not simple. In the first round, Thompson set a high bar going first and putting up 22. Curry got hot in the middle, then hit the last two money balls to reach 21. James Harden and J.J. Redick ( who stayed behind the line this year) scored very solid 20s. Later 19-year-old rookie Booker put up a 20 to tie those two veterans. Milwaukee’s Khris Middleton (13 points) Portland’s C.J. McCollum (14) and home-town crowd favorite Raptor Kyle Lowry (15) got bounced. .

That left Harden, Redick, and McCollum in a tiebreaker, and the rookie calmly put up a 12 in 30 seconds to advance.

Booker took a step back in the final round with a 16.

Not that it mattered with the Splash Brothers in the building.