Carmelo Anthony, John Wall

Report: Knicks-Wizards tentatively set for Christmas Day

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Not every Christmas Day game can be as fun as LeBronfest ‘14: Heat-Cavs, but the league must still fill its Dec. 25 schedule.

With so many of the best teams in the Western Conference and many of the biggest markets on the East Coast, it’s a balancing act. Not every game in the Christmas lineup can feature two great teams.

Sometimes, a reasonable matchup between two not-terrible teams (sorry Wizards for the Knicks lowering the threshold) is good enough for the bottom-rung game.

Frank Isola of the New York Daily News:

The Wizards just advanced their furthest in the playoffs since 1979. They have one of the league’s most exciting players in John Wall. Bradley Beal adds to a young core. Paul Pierce brings championship experience and star appeal. Marcin Gortat is an enforces and a character. And Randy Wittman’s face can be pretty entertaining.

The Knicks play in New York City.

This would be the Knicks’ sixth straight Christmas Day appearance and the Wizards’ first in six years and just second in 27 years.

Dwight Howard commits ridiculously sloppy inbound violation (video)

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An embarrassing lack of focus by the Rockets? I can hardly believe it.

Late in a game against a team Houston is battling for playoff position, Dwight Howard was just careless, stepping on the baseline as he inbounded the ball. It’s a needless goof, and he’ll get plenty of deserved criticism for it.

But don’t overlook Patrick Beverley‘s frustration foul on Damian Lillard before the ensuing inbound. That was nearly as foolish and even more costly.

The sequence sparked a 7-0 run for the Trail Blazers, who seized control of the game en route to a 116-103 win.

DeAndre Jordan dunks on Marcus Smart before Smart knows what’s happening (video)

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Marcus Smart went to tag DeAndre Jordan on the pick-and-roll, and Jordan took off from so far from the basket, he was dunking on Smart before the Celtics guard could do a thing.

Chris Paul finds brilliant counter to hack-a-DeAndre Jordan (video)

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I originally favored allowing Hack-a-Shaq as the NBA currently does. I found the strategy fascinated – why and when teams would use it and how their opponents would counter.

But it just became too common. Far too many games featured a parade of trips to the line, a boring stretch that made games too long. I thought the intrigue had run its course.

Then, Chris Paul pulled this move last night.

The Clippers guard saw Jonas Jerebko charging toward DeAndre Jordan to commit an intentional foul, so Paul stepped in front of an unsuspecting Jerebko and took the foul himself. That’s sent a good free-throw shooter to the line instead of the dismal Jordan.

Just an awesome heady play by Paul.