Indiana Pacers v Atlanta Hawks - Game Three

Paul George tries to quell talk of feuds within Pacers locker room

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It doesn’t exactly take a PhD. in analytic chemistry to see the that Pacers are having chemistry issues on the court.

As fans we like simple, clean answers to things — it’s Lance Stephenson’s fault, it was trading Danny Granger, it’s all on Frank Vogel, it’s Andrew Bynum, etc. — when the reality is it is a little bit of a lot of things. Life is a complex dish. Those little things have formed a perfect storm of an issue.

One Paul George is tired of talking about. He wants you to know that he and his fellow Pacers are still tight. So first he took to Instagram Tuesday night.

Caption: These rumors have got to stop! Its gettin old now and all you that believe them are ignorant! #Brothers

I get what Paul George is going for here, but “gone fishing” has a different connotation in the playoffs. Not sure that is what he was going for here.

George echoed some of those same things at shootaround before Game 2 against the Wizards on Wednesday night, as reported by Brian Windhorst at ESPN.

“I’m just getting tired of the media and these stories,” he said. “I’m just putting everything to bed and to rest.”

George Hill chimed in, too.

“You guys keep making up stories,” Hill said. “We’re just trying to focus and letting Roy know through all this BS that is going on, the rumors and everything like that, that we’re all brothers. This locker room is a tight group and we’re going to continue to be there for each other even when people are trying to break it apart.”

The Pacers are going with the “us against the world” motivation — which is fine if it works. At this point they should do anything that works.

I don’t think the question should be “do they like each other?” I imagine many of them do still get along and will hang out fishing this summer.

The real question is “can they get back to playing together as a unit?”

Watching the way they do not trust each other on the court, the way they don’t move off the ball, the way they are afraid to give up the rock for fear of never getting it back, I’m not sure they can, I’m not sure anything will work. At least not well enough, fast enough to salvage this season.

Or very possibly even this series against the Wizards.

Aaron Gordon both legs over the mascot, ball-under-the-legs dunk (VIDEO)

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TORONTO — Zach LaVine won the NBA All-Star Saturday Dunk Contest, but in an epic night for my money this was the single best dunk.

Orlando’s Aaron Gordon broke ground with this one — guys have jumped over mascots and other players before (and a Kia hood), but by splitting their legs apart. Gordon just put both legs over Stuff (that’s the mascot’s name, Stuff the Magic Dragon, I don’t make this up) — and took the ball off the mascot’s head, went under his legs, and threw it down.

Insane.

Gordon deserved a trophy for his performance in this dunk contest.

Zach LaVine edges Aaron Gordon in epic, insane Dunk Contest

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TORONTO — That. Was. Amazing.

In a dunk contest that will go down with the all-time greats — Jordan vs. Dominique, Dr. J from the free throw line — Minnesota’s Zach LaVine defended his dunk contest title. Barely. Because Orlando’s Aaron Gordon was doing dunks nobody had ever seen before.

And LaVine was bringing it just as hard.

The two men advanced to the finals — dismissing Will Barton and Andre Drummond, each of whom had good dunks — and that was when it got wild.

There were four second-round dunks, and four perfect scores of 50. (That was in spite of Shaq, who wanted to give nines for second attempts.)

“I was prepared for four (second round dunks),” LaVine said. “To tell the truth, he came with something that no one else has done. He did two dunks that were just crazy with the mascots, jumping over them. We just kept pushing each other until the last dunk. I’ve got to give it up to my boy Will “The Thrill” Barton. It’s because of him I think I won. Because he said try to go from the free-throw line. I’d never done that before, and I just tried it. So I guess it was a great dunk. I think it was the best one ever.”

The Air Canada Centre crowd was exploding with every dunk. The two men went to a dunk-off — and got two more 50s.

“If I knew it was going to be like that, I would have prepared better and we would have been here dunking all night, going back 50 after 50 after 50 after 50,” Gordon said. “We would have been here all night. I didn’t know it was going to be like that. I was just hoping Zach was going to miss, and it wasn’t going to happen. You could see as my facial expressions when Zach dunks it, it’s like okay, that’s a 50. Like I know we’re going to have to dunk again.”

So they went to a second-round of overtime, where LaVine put up another 50 and won the contest.

Gordon was close to perfect.

Zach LaVine can flat-out fly.

Magic’s Aaron Gordon with the over-the-mascot mad dunk

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TORONTO — Aaron Gordon was giving Zach LaVine all he could handle in the Dunk Contest.

He blew the lid off the Air Canada Centre with this dunk in the first round — and it wasn’t even his best dunk of the night. Never seen this before.

This dunk contest was awesome, so much more video to come.

Zach LaVine opens Slam Dunk Contest title defense with spectacular behind-the-back slam (VIDEO)

during the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge 2016 at Air Canada Centre on February 12, 2016 in Toronto, Canada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.
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TORONTO — Zach LaVine clearly heard all the talk that Aaron Gordon or Will Barton had a chance to upset him in the Slam Dunk Contest. He came out ready to prove his superiority right off the bat. This behind-the-back slam was his first attempt of the night:

Even better was the reaction, both from Andre Drummond and from LaVine’s Minnesota teammates: