Thursday And-1 Links: Carmelo Anthony wants to mentor DeMarcus Cousins

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Here is our regular look around the NBA — links to stories worth reading and notes to check out (stuff that did not get its own post here at PBT) — done in bullet point form. Because bloggers love bullet points.

• Carmelo Anthony told the Sacramento Bee he wants to help mentor DeMarcus Cousins.

“I love him, I love him,” Anthony said of Cousins. “I’m trying to get him to calm down a little bit but I love him, his game, what he can do out there on the basketball court. He stuffs the stat sheet, points, rebounds. He can pass the ball, got a good feel for the game. He just does a lot out there but I’m just trying to get him to calm down out there a little bit. I’m working on that, that’s my project.”

Why we should place more value on creating steals (this is a fantastic post at the new 538 blog, go read it).

Here is a fantastic look at the complexities of the Golden State situation with Mark Jackson. The situation is not simple, and it involves how the current ownership group is impatient and hands on, and how Stephen Curry is a Jackson fan.

Mark Cuban clarified his stance on the NFL and potentially expanding its television package, and he makes a lot of sense.

This is a great look by Chris Ballard at Sports Illustrated about how Doc Rivers has worked to build up in DeAndre Jordan what Vinny Del Negro just tore down. Watch the Clippers play now and you see the dividends of Rivers’ work — when he was saying earlier this year Jordan should be considered for Defensive Player of the Year that was all about building up Jordan, not reality. Smart man, that Doc.

• Roy Hibbert is not showing any concussion symptoms after the elbow from LeBron James and can play in the Pacers’ next game. Also, LeBron will not be fined by the league for the contact.

• The virus that sidelined Ray Allen Wednesday night against the Pacers will have him out Friday as well.

Check out the graphic evidence of how Monta Ellis is playing differently this season — he’s gotten to the elbow a lot more and knocked those shots down, plus he’s got the left corner three down.

• Nate Wolters had a surprisingly good rookie season for the Bucks, but he is done for the year now with a broken hand. After a recent game Bucks coach Larry Drew said had it not been for the rash of injuries that hit the Bucks this year Wolters would not have gotten many minutes but a year like this where he is thrown into the fire can help speed his development.

• Charlotte isn’t tanking, rather they are building a winner (and are playoff bound this season).

• A lot of states — where lawmakers are looking for extra revenue but without taxing their constituents — have turned to a “jock tax” where professional athletes have to pay an extra tax for coming into their state and playing. It happens all over. Tennessee is doing away with theirs.

• Hedo Turkoglu is no longer going to play international ball for his native Turkey.

• Jahlil Okafor is maybe the most recruited player in next year’s freshmen class and is the projected 2015 No. 1 pick (as much as you can do that this far out). Not surprisingly, he’s not a fan of the 20-year-old age limit.

• My daily Snopes imitation: No, the rumor Michael Jordan is walking away from the Jordan Brand is not true.

LeBron James starts game with protective goggles. That lasts about a minute.

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LeBron James suffered a scratched cornea Friday night when he went up for a layup late in the third quarter and Jeremy Lamb tried to contest and caught him clean across the face. LeBron got the and-1, but had trouble keeping his eye open in postgame interviews Friday.

Saturday he did play — wearing protective goggles. As you can see above.

That lasted about a minute.

LeBron was likely frustrated as the Cavaliers defensive woes had the Wizards up double digits much of the first half.

Kobe Bryant says he’s “only a phone call away” if organization needs his advice

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For the first time since he walked off the court in his final game, Kobe Bryant was back at Staples Center Friday night.

The reason was Shaquille O’Neal was getting a statue out in front of Staples Center (a building that may not have gotten built without the two of them). The two famed feuders sat next to each other and joked around through the ceremony. Time heals all wounds.

With the new management of the Lakers — specifically Kobe’s former agent Rob Pelinka as GM — there has been speculation Kobe could take on a role. He’s not looking for something formal, according to reports, but he didn’t say no, either, when asked.

I picture Kobe as a guy who someday buys a team, not a guy who wants to haggle with agents over the details of a contract. He’s not going to take on a day-to-day role, he likes the retired life and what he is building with the Kobe brand.

That said, the Lakers front office can use all the smart voices it can get as they try speed up a rebuild. They should give him a call every once in a while.

Clippers win likely playoff preview 108-95 over Jazz

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Jamal Crawford scored 28 points off the bench, and the Los Angeles Clippers beat the Utah Jazz 108-95 on Saturday to clinch a playoff berth for the sixth straight year.

The Clippers trail the Jazz by a half-game in their race for the No. 4 playoff seed in the West. The teams are likely to face in the first round of the postseason.

Blake Griffin added 15 points and DeAndre Jordan had 15 rebounds for the Clippers.

Rudy Gobert had 26 points and 14 rebounds for Utah, and reserve Joe Johnson added 17 points. The Jazz have dropped four of five.

Utah rallied in the third, putting together a 20-6 spurt to trim Los Angeles’ lead to 72-70 heading into the final period. Gobert had nine points and Johnson scored seven during the run that included 10 straight points for the Jazz over one stretch.

Chris Paul and Crawford both got technicals while the Clippers struggled to score and defend.

But Los Angeles turned things around in the fourth, scoring the first eight points for an 80-70 lead. Crawford had 17 points in the quarter, scoring six in a row to push the Clippers’ lead to 103-84. He was 9 of 9 at the free-throw line for the game.

The Clippers grabbed control early on, shooting 52 percent in the first quarter while building a 15-point lead.

The Jazz got within seven to start the second before the Clippers restored their 15-point margin and eventually led 49-41 at halftime.

Utah’s top two scorers, Gordon Hayward and George Hill, struggled. Hayward, who averages 22 points, had 13 points on 5-of-12 shooting. Hill, who averages 17.1, had nine points while shooting 4 of 11.

TIP-INS

Jazz: Gobert was coming off a career-high 35-point, 15-rebound performance against the Knicks on Tuesday. … G Sheldon Mack missed his 11th straight game with a left ankle sprain. … F/C Derrick Favors remains out with a left knee bone contusion.

Clippers: Their six-year playoff run is the longest in franchise history. … They have won 18 of 20 against the Jazz dating to Feb. 1, 2012. … They won the season series 3-1.

 

More NBA basketball: https://apnews.com/tag/NBAbasketball

Sixers’ Joel Embiid officially has knee surgery, expected to be back on court in summer

Associated Press
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“The… follow-up MRI of Joel Embiid‘s left knee appears to reveal… the previously identified meniscus tear appears more pronounced in this most recent scan.”

When Philadelphia’s chief medical director Dr. Jonathan Glashow said that in a statement announcing Joel Embiid was being shut down for the season, the chance of knee surgery to clean up that meniscus was possible. Friday it became a reality, the team announced.

CSNPhilly.com had the details.

The team expects Embiid to resume basketball activities during this summer, according to Sixers director of performance research and development Dr. David T. Martin. Embiid will begin his rehab in Los Angeles with specialists and Sixers medical and training staff members.

“The overall status of Joel’s lateral meniscus and his cartilage is very good,” surgeon Dr. Neal S. ElAttrache, M.D., who performed the surgery, said in a statement. “Today’s procedure focused on removing a small portion of the meniscus that was responsible for his symptoms.

“The recovery program that has been established targets Joel transitioning back to full weight-bearing in approximately two weeks, at which point a conservative approach to his rehabilitation will be introduced.”

After Embiid missed two seasons with foot issues, there is a tendency to lump everything together and call him injury prone. This, however, was a minor surgery with a relatively short recovery period, even as the Sixers bring him along slowly. There is reason for concern, but this shouldn’t be an issue by next training camp.

Embiid averaged 20.2 points and 7.8 rebounds per game despite a minutes restriction all season. He was incredibly efficient in getting his numbers — he had an All-Star level PER of 24.2 — and when he was on the court the Sixers outscored their opponents by 3 points per 100 possessions. He’s still likely a top three finisher in Rookie of the Year balloting despite playing in just 31 games.