UPDATE 1:08 am: LeBron James will not wear his black mask Saturday night when the Miami Heat will go against the Orlando Magic. Instead, he will choose from a series of league-approved options with various levels of tint but all somewhat clear, reports Michael Wallace of ESPN.
The team had not reached out to the league previously on what kinds of masks were allowed, Wallace reports.
11:00 am: LeBron James wore a black mask in Thursday’s win over the Knicks to protect the broken nose he suffered a week before, but despite his stylish personalization of the protective gear, the league has requested that he switch to a more traditional clear model instead.
From Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com:
James created a buzz by wearing a black carbon-fiber mask to protect his broken nose Thursday in a victory against the New York Knicks. But the league has requested James change to a more traditional clear mask when the Miami Heat host the Orlando Magic on Saturday night. …
The league’s request falls in line with previous policy. Players who have worn black masks in the past have been asked to switch to clear ones.
Last season, the Cleveland Cavaliers’ Kyrie Irving wore a black mask to protect a broken bone in his face but was asked to change to a clear mask as soon as one was available. In 2012, Kobe Bryant wore a black mask for a half with a broken nose but switched.
Policy is policy, we suppose, and if the league has a certain image in mind that it believes is being ruined by players donning villainous black masks, then being consistent in enforcing the rule is probably the best course of action.
Just like the last time LeBron was forced to wear a protective mask, this one had zero impact on his play. He finished with 31 points on 13-of-19 shooting in the Heat’s 108-82 win over the Knicks.
Houston Rockets G Patrick Beverley is known around the NBA for being a dogged defender. His skill set was on full display on Friday night, where Beverley shut down Oklahoma City Thunder superstar Russell Westbrook on a potential game-winning 3-pointer in the closing seconds.
It all started early in the matchup, when Beverley — notorious for getting under the skin of both Westbrook and other NBA opponents — flopped with some serious gusto just 36 seconds into the first quarter.
The game continued like this, but the real highlight of Beverley’s defensive night was stopping Westbrook — who dropped his 7th straight triple-double — on an isolation play with six seconds left in the fourth quarter.
With the ball on the left garden spot, Westbrook gave a couple of dribble hesitation moves to Beverley, then tried to rise up for the go-ahead bucket.
Beverley was right up on him, and forced an airball from Westbrook:
The Rockets guard was so happy about the stop and the eventual win that he celebrated a little too enthusiastically with Houston coach Mike D’Antoni.
Going for a chest bump, Beverley wound up blasting through his own coach:
Toronto Raptors stars Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan are becoming one of the best duos in the NBA, on and off the court. They joked around in the locker room after their win over the Boston Celtics on Friday night, 101-94, but the comedy started before the two even left the floor.
In a postgame interview with CSNNE DeRozan was asked what the message was at halftime from coach Dewane Casey.
DeRozan — with Lowry looking devious in the background of the shot — was gracious.
“Just get [Lowry] the ball,” DeRozan smiled.
Pleased with the result, Lowry responded with a “That’s a good message right there!” before running off to the locker room.
The interview continued to be interrupted, with Raptors big man Jared Sullinger giving the camera a drive by “DeMar for President!”
New England Patriots RB LeGarrette Blount even showed up to show DeRozan some love.
The Golden State Warriors are so talented, perhaps the officials are predisposed to blowing whistles in their favor. At least, that’s the only explanation you could give to a Utah Jazz fan after seeing what happened between Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, and Utah’s Joe Johnson on Thursday night.
As Durant came off a curl on the far side of the court, he used a screen set by Curry on Johnson.
With the ball in his hands, Durant rose to fire but found himself locked in arms with another player. Durant’s shot attempt helplessly bounced away as he shot, and officials whistled Johnson on the play.
Of course, a closer look reveals that the player Durant’s arms were tangled up with was … Curry.
Yes, Curry had arm locked what he thought was Johnson on the screen but was instead his teammate and MVP candidate.
It didn’t matter, as referees awarded Durant the free throws, of which he only made 1 of 2.
Perhaps that’s some solace?
Golden State beat Utah, 106-99.
New York Knicks C Joakim Noah has an awkward jumper and free throw technique, there’s no denying that. His two-handed, horizontal approach to shooting a basketball is ripe for criticism.
DeMarcus Cousins thinks so, at least.
During a game between the Sacramento Kings and the Knicks, Cousins decided to give Noah a little tongue-in-cheek trolling about his form.
Looks about right.