Nene, David West

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


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.

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.