NBA: Playoffs-Brooklyn Nets at Toronto Raptors

Tuesday NBA grades: Beal, DeRozan not perfect but good enough

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Our quick look around the NBA, or what you missed while trying to decide if powdered alcohol was brilliant or just pure trouble, or both….

source:  DeMar DeRozan, Toronto Raptors. It was far from a perfect game for the Raptors forward as he struggled defensively to contain Joe Johnson, but DeRozan led the Raptors in scoring and hit key free throws down the stretch to make sure they got the win. That said, he showed a diverse offensive repertoire that let him score from anywhere when the Raptors needed it. Toronto got important games from Jonas Valanciunas and Amir Johnson and Landry Fields (who was better than more John Salmons) but without DeRozan’s scoring it all goes to waste.

source:  Paul George, Indiana Pacers. Early on there was too much isolation, but like the rest of the Pacers — particularly George Hill — he found his groove when they needed him. He finished with 27 points, 10 rebounds and 6 assists as part of a Pacers team that found its groove. At least for a half.

source:  Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards. That was not exactly how coach Randy Wittman wanted the game to go — blowing a 17 point lead and needing overtime — but Bradley Beal was huge when they needed him, with 11 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter and the Wizards have a commanding 2-0 lead over the Bulls heading home. It wasn’t a perfect effort from Beal for sure — his double technical with Kirk Hinrich fired up the Bulls, and Beal missed a free throw and a shot to win it in regulation — but he was a guy they went to in the clutch for a reason. He was making plays.

76ers tie NBA-record losing streak, dropping heartbreaker to Celtics

Isaiah Thomas, T.J. McConnell

After a rare period of on-court competence, the 76ers led the Celtics by five with two minutes left tonight.

Then, Philadelphia snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

The 76ers yielded a 9-0 run to close an 84-80 setback.

They’re now 0-16. Combined with their 0-10 finish to last season, that’s a 26-game losing streak – tied for longest in NBA history. Last year’s 76ers already shared the record.

Philadelphia is also in danger of the worst start to a season. The 2009-10 New Jersey Nets began 0-18, and last year’s 76ers won only one game sooner.

The 76ers will try to avoid the all-time longest streak at the Rockets on Friday. If that goes unsuccessfully, they’ll try to avoid matching the worst season start at the Grizzlies on Sunday. And if both fail, they could set the worst-start record against the Lakers on Tuesday.

76ers-Lakers – it’s shaping up to be a big one.

Timberwolves read mean tweets about themselves (video)

Flip Saunders, Karl-Anthony Towns, Tyus Jones
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The Timberwolves didn’t select the meanest tweets about these players, but credit Karl-Anthony Towns, Tyus Jones, Shabazz Muhammad and Zach LaVine for being good sports.

LeBron James: I’m healthier than a year ago


LeBron James received an injection in his back before the season.

It’s working.

Dave McMenamin of ESPN:

LeBron James now says he feels better than he did even a year ago.

“I feel better in the mornings; I feel better throughout the games; I feel better throughout the day,” James said before a Cavs shootaround Wednesday in preparation for their game against the Toronto Raptors. “It was a rough start to the season for me last year and for our team. Obviously the way we’ve been playing, a lot is predicated on my health and being able to lead these guys out on the floor and not from the sidelines.”

LeBron certainly looks healthier than he did at this point last year. He’s moving much better and giving more effort.

But comparing November to November means very little for the Cavaliers, who hope to play deep into June.

The key question: Did LeBron properly time his injection? There’s a limit on the number he can have in a year, and it takes time to recover after one. Cleveland doesn’t want LeBron to peak to early.

It’s good for the Cavs that LeBron feels better now, but his health in the playoffs remains the priority.

Report: Suns signing Bryce Cotton

Bryce Cotton
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Eric Bledsoe missed the Suns’ loss to the Spurs on Monday with a knee injury.

So, Phoenix is bringing in a reinforcement – Bryce Cotton.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

The Jazz waived Cotton before the season despite Dante Exum‘s injury leaving them with just two other healthy point guards. That says something about Cotton – but also Utah’s depth.

Cotton – who went undrafted out of Providence last year – is quick, varies his speed well and can leap. There’s reason to believe in his potential at age 23. But his 6-foot-1 frame limits him defensively, and he’s not much of a distributor.

Phoenix will rely on Brandon Knight and Ronnie Price at point guard if Bledsoe is unavailable. The Suns can also use fewer two-point guard lineups – giving more minutes at shooting guard to Devin Booker, Archie Goodwin and Sunny Weems.

Cotton provides insurance while Bledsoe is banged-up with what seems to be a minor injury. But he might have to show something to keep drawing an NBA paycheck once Bledsoe gets healthy.