Sunday NBA grades: Paul George plays at his peak for a game

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Our quick look around the NBA, or what you missed while getting a tattoo of that selfie you took

source:  Paul George, Indiana Pacers. He is the reason the Indiana Pacers came from 19 points down to win. Check out his second half stat line: 28 points on 7-of-10 shooting (6-of-8 from three), 8 rebounds, and 2 steals. He finished with 39 points for the game. Early in the season we were all talking about George being in that elite 10 (give or take) players in the NBA who can lead a team to a title. Not sure the Pacers are going that far, but George looked like that guy again.

source:  Darren Collison, Los Angeles Clippers. For three quarters the Clippers were mostly jump shooters — they were not getting easy buckets, they were not getting to the rim. Then in the fourth quarter Doc Rivers made a desperation move — go small, put Chris Paul on Kevin Durant and Collison on
Russell Westbrook, which frustrated the Thunder offense (see the next entry). When they got frustrated, they didn’t protect the rim as well and Collison took advantage — he had 12 fourth quarter points and hit 3-of-4 shots at the rim. Collison was part of the double teams on Durant that had some success. He simply out-played his former teammate Westbrook in the fourth and that is a key reason the Clippers came back and won.

source:  Oklahoma City’s fourth quarter. It wasn’t Chris Paul’s amazing defense on Kevin Durant that turned this game around (Durant was 4-of-5 for 10 points in the quarter), it was how Oklahoma City responded as a team to that desperation move by Doc Rivers that doomed them. Oklahoma City rightfully thought Durant should be able to post up CP3 and so they tried to isolate that — and the other motions of their offense ground to a halt. The Thunder went away from what worked to become singularly focused. The Thunder spent the fourth quarter trying to get deep into the shot clock and go with isolation plays, and that is what the Clippers were able to defend. The Clippers doubled, the Thunder missed on opportunities — then the Thunder let their frustrations cary over to the defense end. The Clippers scored lm That was the bigger problem, the Clippers got 14 shots in the restricted area in the fourth quarter alone, another two inside 8 feet. The Clippers are too athletic, too good to let them waltz into the lane. Those are correctable problems for the Thunder, ones more about mindset and poise than skill.

Report: Pacers offered Paul George for Kyrie Irving

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The Cavaliers think they were close to trading for Paul George, a text message away from completing a three-team trade with the Pacers and Nuggets that would have sent Kevin Love to Denver.

But Cleveland could’ve ensured itself George, whom Indiana ultimately dealt to the Thunder. All the Cavs had to do was send Kyrie Irving to the Pacers.

Brian Windhorst and Zach Lowe of ESPN on The Lowe Post podcast:

  • Windhorst: “I know that around the draft and in the Paul George talks, the Cavs were not willing to make Kyrie Irving available for Paul George.”
  • Lowe: “We can say on this podcast: The Pacers offered Paul George for Kyrie Irving. That’s a thing that happened, according to people that we’ve talked to.”
  • Windhorst: “Multiple times.”

Even if the Cavaliers knew of Irving’s unhappiness – maybe they did, or at least should have – while George was still in Indiana, this would have been a bad trade for them.

Irving is locked up for two more years, and George is on an expiring contract. That simply makes Irving more valuable than George, who – like LeBron James – could have walked in a year. George is ineligible for a reasonable contract extension, and there’s so much buzz about him joining the Lakers.

Now, if the Cavs were more on top of Irving’s trade request when George were still available, maybe they would have more aggressively tried to bridge the gap. Perhaps, Indiana could have sent another player or draft pick.

But Cleveland shouldn’t be kicking itself over not dealing Irving for George straight up.

Report: LeBron James eager for Kyrie Irving to be traded

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LeBron James reportedly wants to fight Kyrie Irving over the guard’s trade request.

But sometimes, people continue to work with those whom they dislike. LeBron partnered with Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert again and again, after all.

Might LeBron realize keeping Irving is Cleveland’s best chance to win another title? Could LeBron put personal feelings aside in that pursuit?

Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:

Irving has asked for a trade and James is eager to see him off.

This might explain why the Cavs appear so gung-ho about moving Irving. LeBron usually gets what he wants in Cleveland, especially in a contract year.

It’s not too late for LeBron and Irving to reconcile until a trade is completed, but with LeBron welcoming Derrick Rose, they just move further from that possibility.

Damian Lillard says players who want to leave team owe teammates, fans truth

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Damian Lillard was making the rounds on a media tour Monday, and at virtually each and every stop he was asked about Kyrie Irving and Carmelo Anthony. We told you about Lillard’s recruiting pitch to Anthony.

One of his stops was with one of my favorite radio shows,  Bill Reiter’s Reiter Than You on CBS Radio. Lillard talked about what players owe teammates when they try to push their way out of town.

“You owe your teammates first because those are the guys that you spend the most time around that you have relationships with, more so than anybody else,” Lillard said. “And also the fans because they are part of your team. They’re the people that come and cheer for you and support you as much as anybody. So I think they’re the two groups of people that you owe the truth. They deserve to know the truth in where you stand and what your plans are.”

Hard to argue with that.

Of course, honesty can lead to some bad blood. If Kyrie Irving went to his teammates and the fans in Cleveland and said, “Look, LeBron James is leaving in a year, and I don’t want to be the guy holding the bag, so I’m forcing my way out while I can” how would that go over? It’s the truth — or maybe the largest part of the truth, there is never just one thing — but it would rub a lot of people the wrong way. And Irving would get roasted in the media (more than he is already).

It sounds good to be honest, and a lot of guys try, but they have talked themselves into that narrative before they sell it everywhere else. Everything is spin, to a degree.

Watch Stephen Curry make fun of Klay Thompson’s 360 dunk fail in China

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By now we have all seen Golden State Warriors shooting guard Klay Thompson brick that dunk attempt in China, right?

Here is the link to the video if you haven’t seen it.

Well, teammate Stephen Curry was also in China this week and decided to do a little mocking of Thompson’s missed dunk for the crowd.

It was all in good fun, and of course we all know about the Warriors team culture. Glad that Curry and Thompson can jab at each other like this.