Danny Green helps Spurs pull away from Heat late

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Danny Green appeared to wrap up his lengthy postgame interview on NBATV, but he faced a couple more questions before he could leave the sweltering court.

“Do you guys have any extra towels we can borrow maybe?” Matt Winer asked. “We’ve got a show to get through.”

“They’re all wet towels, man, in the back,” Green said.

“Can I borrow that jump shot?” Thomas asked

“Psh, I need to find it again,” Green said.

All night, everyone kept asking more from Green. Finally he delivered.

After missing his first five shots, Green scored 11 points on 4-for-4 shooting in the final 6:07 of the Spurs’ 110-95 Game 1 win Thursday.

“I was pushing him hard,” Tony Parker said. “I don’t know if you saw, but every timeout, I was screaming at him and encourage him.”

When Green re-entered the game midway through the fourth quarter, eight of the other nine players on the court had played more than him. Perhaps, being a little more rested gave Green a significant advantage given the debilitating heat.

He certainly looked livelier than everyone else, at least.

Within a four-possession span, Green made two 3-pointers and dunked. Miami called timeout, but that didn’t cool Green, who made another 3-pointer after the break.

In a stat popularized by ESPN’s Kevin Pelton, the Spurs are now 26-1 (.963) when Green makes three 3-pointers and 48-25 (.658) when he doesn’t.

Green isn’t elite, the type of player who can singlehandedly carry his team to victory. But his success is a significant indicator of the Spurs’ success. When they’re moving the ball and spacing the floor, it results in Green getting open looks from beyond the arc

All three of his Game 1 3-pointers were assisted, and that’s par for the course. Green relies on his teammates to set him up.

They rely on him to knock ‘em down – no matter how slowly he starts.

Tim Duncan and Gregg Popovich see Green the same way, though – as they’re wont to do – they express it with very different degrees of warmth.

“Honestly, the way he shoots the ball, every time he shoots it, I expect it to go in,” Duncan said.

“That’s his major skill,” Popovich said. “If he’s not going to do that, then we might as well play somebody else. That’s the honest to God’s truth.”

Popovich turned to Green late, and Green responded. His second NBA Finals picked up where the first ended, but he didn’t let the wild swings in his production deter him.

Through five games of last year’s Finals, Green was a legitimate Finals MVP candidate. Then, he shot 1-for-7 in Game 6 and and 1-for-12 in Game 7, both San Antonio losses.

The Spurs were headed toward a third straight Finals loss to Miami, and though LeBron leaving the game carried more weight, Green ensured San Antonio took advantage.

“I told him after the game I was proud of him,” Parker said. “‘You have to keep playing. You’re a young player, and you’re going to get a lot of ups and downs. And that’s going to show your character.’ And tonight, he stuck with it.”

Joel Embiid calls out Karl Anthony-Towns’ defense during Instagram trash talk

AP Foto/Hannah Foslien
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Joel Embiid often gloats on Instagram after 76ers wins.

Of course he did after Philadelphia beat Minnesota on Tuesday, specifically calling attention to this move on Karl-Anthony Towns (and this 76ers fan custom):

Embiid:

Euro stepping our way through Minnesota and we ended up raising the cat last night #TheProcess

A post shared by Joel "The Process" Embiid (@joelembiid) on

Towns commented:

That caption was as trash as your picture quality

Embiid replied:

Better quality than your defense

Embiid insisted it’s all in good fun.

Jessica Camerato of NBC Sports Philadelphia:

https://twitter.com/JCameratoNBCS/status/941395953113804800

I’m not sure Towns is having as much fun as Towns. But I know this:

Embiid had a valid point.

Salah Mejri kicks at Patty Mills as Mavericks and Spurs leave court for halftime (video)

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Mavericks center Salah Mejri has a history of agitating, including against the Spurs.

Two years ago, Mejri dunked while Dallas got blown out by San Antonio and yapped at the Spurs bench – drawing laughter from Gregg Popovich and Tim Duncan. Last season, Mejri had Trevor Ariza and other Rockets trying to confront him after reportedly saying something about Ariza’s family.

In the Mavericks’ win over the Spurs on Tuesday, Mejri got into it with Patty Mills.

Earl K. Sneed of Mavs.com:

Mejri and Rudy Gay received double technical fouls, and Mejri went to the bench. Everything could have cooled down at halftime, but Mejri escalated tension

Watch the full sequence above, but the key moment:

giphy (2)

That’ll probably draw a fine.

NBA introducing 2-for-1 All-Star voting days

AP Photo/Chris Carlson
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The NBA changed its All-Star format this season from East vs. West to captain-picked teams (though still naming players equally from each conference).

That apparently wasn’t a big enough overhaul.

After including media and player votes last year, the league is making All-Star starter selection even more complex.

NBA release:

NBA All-Star Voting 2018 presented by Verizon will tip off with an early voting period exclusively on the NBA App and NBA.com beginning Thursday, Dec. 21 at 1 p.m. ET.

Voting via all other channels, including Amazon Alexa for the first time, will launch on Monday, Dec. 25 at 11 a.m.

Additionally, new for this season, five “2-for-1 Days” will allow fans to have their votes count twice on Dec. 31, Jan. 4, Jan. 11, Jan. 12 and Jan. 15 when voting through the NBA App and NBA.com, along with Sina Weibo and Tencent in China.  All “2-for-1 Days” will be designated 12 a.m. – 11:59 p.m. ET.

TNT will reveal the All-Star Game starters, including the two captains, on Thursday, Jan. 18 during TNT NBA Tip-Off

The network will announce the reserves, as selected by NBA head coaches, on Tuesday, Jan. 23 during TNT NBA Tip-Off at 7 p.m. ET. 

The team rosters for NBA All-Star Game 2018 in Los Angeles will be revealed on Thursday, Jan. 25 during a special one-hour edition of TNT NBA Tip-Off at 7 p.m. ET.

I suppose this is to drum up interest on otherwise quiet voting days. After all, this is really just about the NBA selling itself.

But the All-Star voting process has always left something to be desired. I don’t see how this changes that.

Report: Lakers ‘longshot’ to sign LeBron James

AP Photo/Jae C. Hong
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Preeminent NBA reporter Adrian Wojnarowski called it “likelyLeBron James would sign with the Lakers or Clippers next summer. The Clippers have since been somewhat debunked as a LeBron destination. There’s circumstantial evidence linking LeBron to Los Angeles.

Ramona Shelburne and Brian Windhorst of ESPN:

So imagining James’ last act coming in purple and gold isn’t without basis. But as of now, it’s also a longshot, according to league sources.

Shelburne and Windhorst are highly credible. I doubt they’d report this without connected sources.

LeBron’s agent, Rich Paul, and manager, Maverick Carter, have recently publicly downplayed the importance of Los Angeles to LeBron. That felt like a coordinated attack on the LeBron-Lakers rumors, and this fits as a continuation.

But why wage that campaign? To keep the Cavaliers focused while LeBron still plays for them, even if he might leave after the season? To lower expectations among the Lakers’ massive fan base, so as not alienate those people (potential customers of the many LeBron-connected brands) when LeBron inevitably signs elsewhere? Both could be true, but there’s obviously a difference between each driving LeBron’s camp.