AUBURN HILLS, MI - MAY 4:  Tracy McGrady #1 of the Orlando Magic shoots over Ben Wallace #3 of the Detroit Pistons in Game seven of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2003 NBA Playoffs at The Palace of Auburn Hills on May 4, 2003 in Auburn Hills, Michigan.  The Pistons won 108-93.  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. (Photo by Tom Pidgeon/Getty Images)
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Hall of Fame basically says Tracy McGrady never won a playoff series, also nominates Ben Wallace and Muggsy Bogues

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The Basketball Hall of Fame altered its eligibility rules last year – allowing players to be nominated four, rather than five, years after their last game.

But Tracy McGrady’s last NBA game came just three years ago. He signed with the Spurs on the final day of the 2012-13 regular season, didn’t play in the finale, but played spot minutes in San Antonio’s Finals run.

His last regular-season game was four years ago, though. Apparently, that’s good enough for the Hall.

McGrady joins Ben Wallace and Muggsy Bogues as first-time nominees for the Basketball Hall of Fame.

By nominating McGrady this year, the Hall essentially ruled his time with the Spurs didn’t count. Why are those 31 playoff minutes significant? That was the only time McGrady won a playoff series. An excellent regular-season player, that complete lack of postseason success will hinder his candidacy. When teams clamped down, McGrady had no answer.

Still, I’d lean toward enshrining McGrady. He made seven All-NBA teams while carrying a huge offensive burden and maintaining efficiency (again, during the regular season).

I’d also lean toward inducting Wallace, a four-time Defensive Player of the Year. His peak is undervalued. At his best, he was the NBA’s third-best player behind Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett. (Shaquille O’Neal was between stretches of motivation, and Kobe Bryant hadn’t yet learned how to lead a team.) Though 16 NBA seasons is a nice run, too many of those after his prime were underwhelming.

Bogues? A 5-foot-3 player flourishing in the NBA is a tremendous accomplishment. But there’s a reason he’s getting his first nomination 15 years after retirement. He’s not close to Hall-of-Fame caliber.

Here’s the full list of nominees:

NAISMITH MEMORIAL BASKETBALL HALL OF FAME CLASS OF 2017 BALLOT

* Indicates First-Time Nominee

North American Committee Nominations

  • Mark Aguirre (PLA)
  • Geese Ausbie (PLA)
  • Bill Bertka (COA)
  • Muggsy Bogues (PLA)*
  • Junior Bridgeman (PLA)
  • Irv Brown (REF)
  • Maurice Cheeks (PLA)
  • Terry Cummings (PLA)
  • Charles “Lefty” Driesell (COA)
  • Hugh Evans (REF)
  • Bill Fitch (COA)
  • Cotton Fitzsimmons (COA)
  • Tim Hardaway (PLA)
  • Del Harris (COA)
  • Robert Hughes (COA)
  • Kevin Johnson (PLA)
  • Marques Johnson (PLA)
  • Bobby Jones (PLA)
  • Jerry “Tiger” Jones (COA)
  • Gene Keady (COA)
  • Rollie Massimino (COA)
  • Tracy McGrady (PLA)*
  • Gary McKnight (COA)
  • Danny Miles (COA)
  • Sidney Moncrief (PLA)
  • Dick Motta (COA)
  • Swen Nater (PLA)
  • Jake O’Donnell (REF)*
  • Jim Phelan (COA)*
  • Mark Price (PLA)
  • Jere Quinn (COA)*
  • Glenn Robinson (COA)
  • Lee Rose (COA)
  • Bo Ryan (COA)
  • Bob Saulsbury (COA)*
  • Bill Self (COA)*
  • Jack Sikma (PLA)
  • Steve Smith (COA)
  • Fred Snowden (COA)
  • Harry Statham (COA)*
  • Eddie Sutton (COA)
  • Rudy Tomjanovich (COA)
  • Ben Wallace (PLA)*
  • Chris Webber (PLA)
  • Paul Westphal (PLA)

Women’s Committee Nominations

  • Leta Andrews (COA)
  • Jennifer Azzi (PLA)
  • Rebecca Lobo (PLA)
  • Muffet McGraw (COA)
  • Susie McConnell (PLA)
  • Pearl Moore (PLA)
  • Kim Mulkey (COA, PLA)
  • Harley Redin (COA)
  • Theresa Shank (PLA)
  • Marianne Stanley (COA)
  • Barbara Stevens (COA)
  • Wayland Baptist (TEA)
  • Therea Weatherspoon (PLA)

DIRECT-ELECT CATEGORY Early African-American Pioneers Committee Nominations

  • Clarence “Puggy” Bell
  • Sonny Boswell
  • Zack Clayton
  • Chuck Cooper
  • Bill Garrett
  • Inman Jackson
  • Clarence “Fats” Jenkins
  • Bucky Lew
  • Davage “Dave” Minor
  • Hudson Oliver
  • Al “Runt” Pullins
  • James “Pappy” Ricks
  • Paul Robeson
  • Eyre Saitch
  • William “Wee Willie” Smith

DIRECT-ELECT CATEGORY International Committee Nominations

  • Tal Brody
  • Jackie Chazalon
  • Vlade Divac
  • Nick Galis
  • Semen Khalipski
  • Vladimir Kondrashin
  • Toni Kukoc
  • Marcos Leite
  • Aldo Ossola
  • Amaury Pasos
  • Dino Radja
  • Manuel Sainz
  • Togo Soares
  • Ranko Zeravica

DIRECT-ELECT CATEGORY Contributor Committee Nominations

  • Marv Albert
  • Al Attles
  • Dick Baumgartner*
  • Marty Blake
  • Vic Bubas
  • Wayne Duke
  • David Falk*
  • Harry Glickman
  • Marty Glickman
  • Curt Gowdy
  • Tim Grgurich
  • Robert Indiana*
  • Mannie Jackson
  • Tom Jernstedt
  • Johnny “Red” Kerr
  • John Kline
  • Red Klotz
  • Jerry Krause
  • Bobby Lewis*
  • Jack McCloskey
  • Johnny Most
  • Dennis Murphy
  • Joe O’Toole
  • Billy Packer
  • Dee Rowe*
  • Zelda Spoelstra
  • Jim Valvano
  • Donnie Walsh
  • Frank Walsh

DIRECT-ELECT CATEGORY Veterans Committee Nominations

  • 1936 US Olympic Team (TEA)
  • 1964 State Department Basketball Ambassadors (TEA)
  • Ron Boone (PLA)
  • Sid Borgia (REF)*
  • Carl Braun (PLA)
  • Frank Brian (PLA)
  • Joe Caldwell (PLA)
  • Mack Calvin (PLA)
  • Charles Eckman (REF)
  • Leroy Edwards (PLA)
  • Leo Ferris (CONT)
  • Clarence “Bevo” Francis (PLA)
  • Buck Freeman (COA)
  • Donnie Freeman (PLA)
  • Travis Grant (PLA)
  • Bob Grody (PLA)
  • Robert Harrison (PLA)
  • Flo Harvey (PLA)
  • Dick Hemric (PLA)*
  • Cam Henderson (COA)
  • Robert Hopkins (PLA)
  • Lou Hudson (PLA)
  • Warren Jabali (PLA)
  • Jimmy Jones (PLA)
  • Charles Kenaith (PLA)*
  • Freddie Lewis (PLA)
  • Jim Loscutoff (PLA)
  • Loyola of Chicago (TEA)
  • Billy Markward (CONT)*
  • George McGinnis (PLA)
  • Ray Mears (COA)*
  • Francis Meehan (PLA)
  • Donald “Dudey” Moore (COA)
  • Willie Naulls (PLA)
  • Philadelphia SPHAS (TEA)
  • Mel Riebe (PLA)
  • Glenn Roberts (PLA)
  • Holcombe Rucker (CONT)
  • Kenny Sailors (PLA)
  • Fred Schaus (PLA)*
  • Charlie Scott (PLA)
  • Kenny Sears (PLA)
  • Frank Selvy (PLA)
  • George Senesky (PLA)
  • Paul Seymour (PLA)
  • Charles Siler (CONT)
  • Talvin Skinner (PLA)
  • Ken Suesens (PLA)
  • Tennessee A&I (TEA)
  • Dick Van Arsdale (PLA)
  • Tom Van Arsdale (PLA)
  • Willie Wise (PLA)
  • Max Zaslofsky (PLA)

NBA: 76ers got away with violation before Robert Covington’s late 3-pointer against Trail Blazers

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Robert Covington hit the game-winning 3-pointer in the 76ers’ 93-92 win over the Trail Blazers on Friday, but that wasn’t Covington’s only triple as Philadelphia overcame a four-point deficit in the final 40 seconds. He also buried a 3-pointer with 38 seconds left.

The catch: That shot came after Philadelphia should have turned the ball over, according to the NBA’s Last Two Minute Report.

Gerald Henderson missed a 3-pointer, and Dario Saric prevented the rebound from going out of bounds, saving the ball with a pass to Covington. Except Saric got away with stepping out of bounds with the ball with 42.1 seconds left, per the league:

Saric’s (PHI) left foot is out of bounds when he makes contact with the loose ball.

That would’ve given Portland the ball up four.

The 76ers overcome the odds to win this game. But a correct call might have produced too steep of a hill for Philadelphia to climb.

NBA: Heat got away with two violations before clutch 3-pointer in win over Mavericks (video)

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Dirk Nowitzki entered Miami nostalgic about returning to the place he led the Mavericks to the 2011 NBA title.

He left with a 99-95 loss to the Heat.

But perhaps correct officiating down the stretch would have produced a different result.

Before Tyler Johnson hit a key late 3-pointer, Miami got away with two violations, according to the NBA’s Last Two Minute Report.

First, Goran Dragic should’ve been called for travelling with 1:47 left:

Dragic (MIA) moves his pivot foot.

Failing that, Hassan Whiteside should’ve been whistled for a three-second violation with 1:45 left:

Whiteside (MIA) is in the paint for longer than three seconds.

Either call would’ve ended the Heat’s possession. Instead, they kept swinging the ball until Johnson hit his 3-pointer.

We’ll never know how the game would’ve played out with a correct call, but at different points, Dallas trailed by just two and three while having to intentionally foul.

Raptors Kyle Lowry was ejected Sunday for blow to Brandon Knight’s head (VIDEO)

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Kyle Lowry has had an All-Star worthy season, but he’s had a rough few games.

His jumper has gone missing the last three games — he is shooting 35.4 percent overall and 25.9 percent from three in those games. Not coincidentally, all three of those are Raptors losses.

Then on Sunday, he struck the Suns’ Brandon Knight in the head as Knight drove the lane. Lowry made an ill-advised swipe at the ball after Knight got past him and smacked Knight on the head. Lowry was given a Flagrant 2 and was ejected, which was the right call.

Lowry took responsibility for the hit and said after the game he texted Knight to apologize, that he wasn’t a dirty player and didn’t intend to do hurt Knight. Classy move. But Lowry still could face a fine from the league for this.

Three things we learned Sunday: Roller coaster Laker season has some deep, deep dips

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 29:  Luke Walton of the Los Angeles Lakers watches play during a 101-89 Dallas Mavericks win at Staples Center on December 29, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  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.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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With a couple of important football games Sunday you may have missed some other things. Like why a highway was covered in red Skittles. Or, the handful of NBA Games that took place. We can help you with the latter, here are the big takeaways from Sunday.

1) On the anniversary of Kobe’s 81-point game, Lakers only score 73.
I keep waiting for the day Luke Walton snaps.

He has been the model of the patient, developmental basketball coach of a young team this season — it’s about progress, about lessons learned, about laying a foundation that helps this young core grow into something more dangerous in future years. He has been what the Lakers needed, a departure from last year and he who shall not be named. However, the lack of effort and growth on defense — the continued inability to defend the pick-and-roll — has to be eating at him inside. This is a young team, it’s going to have ups and downs, but the downs have been deep and pronounced, and at some point I expect Walton to just unload on his young charges.

Although if it didn’t happen after Sunday, it might never happen. On the 11th anniversary of Kobe’s 81-point game, the Lakers as a team scored just 73 points. Los Angeles lost by 49 points, a franchise record for worst loss ever. Walton said after the game the Lakers lacked the kind of veteran or natural leader on this team who would take charge on the court and call out his teammates off it in moments like this. Maybe he needs to be that guy.

Comments about the Lakers often talk about a quality young core for them to build around. There is some truth to that. Brandon Ingram has had some better games of late, although on Sunday he was asked to start for the injured D’Angelo Russell and be a playmaker and that failed. Ingram missed his first shot and it got in his head for the rest of the day, throwing off his game. Ingram needs to be a better shot creator (and get stronger). Jordan Clarkson can score the rock, and both he and Larry Nance Jr. are future NBA rotation players who can contribute to very good teams. Then there is Russell — nobody has been more up and down this season than the second-year point guard. A few weeks back I wrote about how he had finally developed a game-day routine and seemed to be turning a corner with a string of strong games. Since then he’s pretty much stunk. He’s developing, although it’s fair to ask if he’s doing that fast enough?

(Still, the Lakers really missed Russell Sunday — he’s the only guard they have who is a threat to score from three or getting into the lane, he’s a good passer who sees the angles on the court, and when he’s out there the ball moves better. This Lakers team lacks shot creators and when Russell is out the offense can stagnate quickly, reverting to one-on-one plays.)

It’s fair to ask why the inconsistent defensive efforts? Well, consistently bad may be the more accurate description. They make bad decisions constantly, and the veterans they have either are not great defenders — Nick Young, Lou Williams — or can be drawn into bad positions, such as Timofey Mozgov having to defend Dirk Nowitzki Sunday.

It’s also fair to ask if the Lakers really have an alpha in this core? Do they have a top 15 NBA player that can be the cornerstone of a future contender? I don’t see it. Maybe Ingram with some muscle and experience on him can get there — scouts are still very high on his game — but I do not see it elsewhere. Plus, I don’t see the alpha, ultra-competitive personality that doesn’t accept losing gracefully. Again, maybe Russell or someone has that and is just not confident showing it yet, but this team lacks it.

With all that, the Lakers development roller coaster seems to have bigger dips than highs. Which has to frustrate Walton. And at some point, he’s going to lose it.

2) The Suns beat the Raptors, and Eric Bledsoe was the reason.
Phoenix has won a couple of game in a row, and while beating the Knicks does not earn guys high praise, beating the Toronto Raptors will do that. Quietly Eric Bledsoe has had a borderline All-Star season — he’s not going to make the team due to the depth of talent in the West and the fact the Suns suck — and he showed it Sunday with an impressive 40 points to get Phoenix the win.

3) The Warriors punish Magic to end week where they asserted themselves. Last week for the Warriors started with a rematch against Cleveland, and Golden State earned a measure of confidence blowing them out. Then the Warriors beat Russell Westbrook and the Thunder thanks to a “look at what you’re missing” game from Kevin Durant. Then the Warriors knocked off the surging Rockets and James Harden.

That’s a good week, although the Warriors still had to face the Magic on Sunday. That had the makings of a potential let down game but the Warriors pulled away for the win.

Golden State has established itself as the best team in the NBA this regular season. There’s still a lot of season (nearly half) to go, and they will get tested in the playoffs, but they have set the mark to beat. Did they set the bar last year, too? Yes. And they made the Finals (and would have won if Draymond Green could keep his hands to himself), not something to ignore. But this season feels different with Durant in the fold. We’ll see. But for right now, they keep right on rolling at 38-6.