Cleveland Cavaliers v New York Knicks

Sunday NBA grades: Jarrett Jack strikes blow to Knicks playoff hopes

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Our quick look around the NBA, or what you missed while eating a $250 hamburger

source:  Jarrett Jack, Cleveland Cavaliers. Earlier on Sunday the Atlanta Hawks had lost and so the Knicks had real motivation at the Garden vs. the Cavaliers — win and NY is just two games back of the last playoff spot in the East. And the Knicks were off to a 17 point lead in the second quarter. Then in then second half Jarrett Jack happened — he had 23 of his 31 points in the second half to spark a Cavaliers comeback (he also had 10 assists). That comeback was aided by the Knicks deciding to take poor shots, but Jack took advantage — he crossed guys up, drained long twos, hit floaters in the lane and got to the basket. He also hit the dagger with 24.7 left — a fade away jumper that was a bad shot most nights but fell because he was just hitting everything.

source:  DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento Kings. Yes, it still counts if it was against the Bucks. Milwaukee simply had no answer for Cousins on Sunday night — Cousins had 32 points (14-of-19 shooting), 12 rebounds and 4 assists. He was a beast. It should be noted that Isaiah Thomas had 30 points on 13 shots and Rudy Gay had 24 points on 16 shots, the Kings key three showed up big. Still, we’ll give Cousins the big shoutout because when he plays like this you realize just what a big star he could become.

source:  Joe Johnson, Brooklyn Nets. Joe Johnson is clutch, he is the guy Brooklyn should get the ball late in close games. If you needed a reminder of that he provided against the Mavericks on Sunday night — he had 10 of his team-high 22 points on the night either at the end of the fourth quarter or overtime. When the Nets needed a bucket to get the game to overtime, they gave the rock to Johnson and cleared out.

source:  Kyle Lowry, Toronto Raptors. Early in the fourth quarter the Hawks had a 14 point lead over the Raptors and seemed in control, then everything shifted — Toronto won the fourth quarter 36-15 in large part thanks to Lowry who had 13 points on 5-of-5 shooting in the quarter. Lowry finished the game with 25 points. DeMar DeRozan added 10 points and the Hawks helped the Raptors out shooting 6-of-22 in the fourth. Still, Lowry was a beast and the symbol of all the Raptors did right in this one.

Sit back and watch the top 10 dunks from the first five weeks of NBA season

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Who doesn’t love a good dunk compilation?

Well, somebody probably just said “bah, humbug” but is that the person you really want to hang out with?

The fine folks at NBA.com put together the Top 10 dunks of October and November, and when Rudy Gobert dunking over Kristaps Porzingis is all the way down at 10, you know it’s a good list. Put off starting your Christmas shopping, at least for another 2:44, and watch the video.

Want to watch Chance the Rapper throw dodgeballs at mascots? Here you go.

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 12:  Chance The Rapper performs on Camp Stage during day one of Tyler, the Creator's 5th Annual Camp Flog Gnaw Carnival at Exposition Park on November 12, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
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Want to watch Chance the Rapper throw dodgeballs at mascots? Of course you do. How is that even a question?

Above you can see just that from Chicago Friday night (where Dwyane Wade, Jimmy Butler and the Bulls knocked off the Cavaliers). Benny the Bull is on his side as well, while the Cubs’ mascot and others try and stay out of the way.

I’ll take this over another kids’ dribbling contest any day.

LaMarcus Aldridge, Manu Ginobili hustling saves lead to Spurs bucket (VIDEO)

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That’s about the most Spurs play ever.

During the third quarter of San Antonio’s win over Washington Friday night, LaMarcus Aldridge saved the ball from going out-of-bounds on the baseline, he threw it out high to Manu Ginobili, who had to leap and save it from going into the backcourt. Two hustle plays. From there the Spurs whipped the ball around the perimeter, and it ended up back to Aldridge on the baseline, where he nailed the 12-foot jumper.

Eventually, the Spurs would get a Kawhi Leonard jumper to give them the victory.

LeBron on Cavs’ three-game losing streak: “We got to get out of the honeymoon stage”

Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James wipes his face as he looks down after guard Kyrie Irving missed a shot during the second half of the team's NBA basketball game against the Chicago Bulls on Friday, Dec. 2, 2016, in Chicago. The Bulls won 111-105. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
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For a team that is 13-5 and atop the Eastern Conference standings, the Cleveland Cavaliers haven’t been their intimidating selves consistently this season. There have been flashes during a 13-2 start, but mostly they win on talent, or when they flip the switch for a half, but they haven’t looked like a tested team working on building good habits through the first quarter of the NBA season. They have an elite offense, but their defense is surrendering 105.1 points per 100 possessions, 20th in the league.

It’s been worse the last four games. The Cavaliers had to come from behind to beat the Sixers, then got blown out by the Bucks and Clippers. Friday night, Cleveland lost to Chicago, giving the Cavs a three-game losing streak, and LeBron James had enough. He sent a message to his team through the media (from the Associated Press):

“We got to get out of the honeymoon stage,” James said. “You got to play the game, the right way. We’ve got to battle every night like we ain’t won nothing. Last year is last year. After ring night is over with, now it’s a new season and everybody is gunning for us every night and we have to understand that. The honeymoon stage is over. It’s time to play some real ball and be physical, especially in the trenches. Giving up 78 points (in the paint) is ridiculous. We’ve got to man up. Everybody.”

The Cavaliers would be far from the first team to have a championship hangover, and considering the five-decade title drought in Cleveland before that win we should have expected one of those “I can’t get off the couch, I’m just going to lay here and watch golf all day” kind of hangovers. As Gregg Popovich has said before, its human nature to let up after a big win.

However, the blowout loss at the hands of the Clippers Thursday — the only title contending team the Cavs have faced this season — should be a wake-up call. The fact is the Cavaliers are still playing well enough to beat everyone in the East, but their real tests come in the form of the Warriors/Clippers/Spurs out West. Right now it’s hard to picture the inconsistent defense of the Cavaliers lifting them past any of those teams in four out of seven games.

LeBron has been to six-straight Finals for a reason — he does not let up. And he’s going to have to shake this team out of its malaise to get them back to an elite standing.

It’s also the first week of December. It’s we’re having this same conversation the last week of March about the Cavaliers then it’s okay to start looking for the panic button in Cleveland. For now, trust LeBron to be the leader this team needs. Calling them out was just step one.