Utah Jazz v Atlanta Hawks

Atlanta Hawks’ John Jenkins to miss rest of season

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The Atlanta Hawks are in a tight race with the Toronto Raptors for the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference. Just a half game separates the teams, so every little difference counts.

But it probably doesn’t matter which team gets that third spot, as long as the loser doesn’t fall to No. 5. As the third or fourth seed, the Hawks and Raptors would have a round of homecourt advantage, a matchup with a similarly productive team and an almost-certain loss to the Indiana Pacers or Miami Heat in the next round.

So, while this is in no way good news for the Hawks, it’s probably not season-altering. Team release:

Atlanta Hawks guard John Jenkins underwent successful lower back surgery this morning. The surgery was performed by Dr. Hal Silcox from the Peachtree Orthopaedic Clinic.

Jenkins will undergo a period of rest and recovery, followed by treatment and rehabilitation, and will miss the remainder of the season.

After a promising rookie year, Jenkins never really got going this season. He played just 13 games and, as an outside-shooting specialist, shot 4-for-18 (22 percent) on 3-pointers.

Kyle Korver is the NBA’s premier 3-point specialist, and DeMarre Carroll and Louis Williams will keep occupying the remaining minutes on the wing. Atlanta had a little margin for error with its depth here.

Jenkins, the No. 23 pick in the 2012 draft, is under contract for $1,312,920 next season. The Hawks must decide on his $2,228,025 option for 2015-16 by Oct. 31 of this year. I suspect they’ll pick that up, but how he rehabs and plays in summer league will influence their decision. He’ll need a strong showing to erase the disappointment of this season and regain the momentum he had following his rookie year.

John Wall drops J.R. Smith with crossover, makes layup (VIDEO)

John Wall
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John Wall is one of the hardest players to guard in the NBA. J.R. Smith found that out the hard way on Tuesday night when Wall sent him flying with a behind-the-back dribble before making an easy layup.

The Wizards beat the Cavs, who are now 13-5 on the season.

Sixers to retire Moses Malone’s number next season

Darryl Dawkins, Moses Malone

Kobe Bryant‘s pregame tribute video stole the show in Philadelphia, but Tuesday night was Moses Malone tribute night. The former league MVP and Hall of Famer passed away in September, and his legacy was honored by the Sixers during a halftime ceremony. During the festivities, Malone’s son announced that his No. 2 will be retired by the organization next season.

There’s no question that Malone, one of the greatest players in the history of the sport, deserves to have his number retired. The only relevant question is: why didn’t this happen years ago? The ceremony next season should be good, but it would have been better if they had done it when Malone was alive to participate in it. No Sixers player has worn No. 2 since Malone anyway, but it’s been over 20 years since he last wore a Sixers jersey. Why couldn’t they have found some time in those two decades to have a ceremony and hang a banner?

LeBron James with two-handed halfcourt bounce pass for assist (VIDEO)

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Perhaps LeBron James‘ most underappreciated skill has been his passing. He is rightly hailed as the most unselfish superstar of his generation, but being a willing passer is only part of it: he’s also as good at it as any point guard in the league. Case in point: this two-handed halfcourt bounce pass on Tuesday night, finding Richard Jefferson for an easy dunk:

Kobe gets great introduction, loud ovation in Philadelphia

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Kobe Bryant‘s relationship with his hometown of Philadelphia had its rocky sections — the Kobe’s Lakers beat the Sixers in the 2001 Finals, and then Kobe was booed during the 2002 All-Star Game —  but all was forgiven on Tuesday night.

In his final trip to Philly, he was given a framed Lower Merion High School jersey — that’s Kobe’s school, in case you forgot — and it was presented by Dr. J.

Then the fans welcomed him like you see above.

That pumped up Kobe, who scored 13 first quarter points on 5-of-10 shooting, his best quarter of the season.