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Tyronn Lue: Cavaliers-Warriors could become like Lakers-Celtics rivalry

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In tomorrow’s Christmas matchup, the Warriors and Cavaliers will meet for the 15th time in the last 19 months. If all goes as expected, they’ll meet again next June in their third straight NBA Finals.

Cleveland-Golden State is becoming the rare cross-conference rivalry.

Could it eventually match the greatest rivalry in NBA history, which was also inter-conference?

Dave McMenamin of ESPN:

Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue was asked: Does Cavs and Warriors stack up with the Lakers and Celtics?

“Well, it’s a lot of championships won in that era,” Lue said. “But if both teams stay together and both teams continue to keep winning, it could be like that. They have a great team over there on the other side and we have a great team also, so when you talk basketball, you’re going to talk Golden State, Cleveland, San Antonio. That’s who you’re going to talk about. And it’s a great place to be in.”

The Lakers and Celtics have met in 12 Finals. The Cavaliers and Warriors have combined to play in just 11 Finals – only five since the NBA-ABA merger – let alone against each other.

In the 1980s, the Lakers and Celtics featured the greatest individual rivalry in NBA history – Magic Johnson-Larry Bird – and that was boosted by racial dynamics that can’t be duplicated now. Bill Russell-Wilt Chamberlain was also special in the 1960s, when the centers repeatedly battled. LeBron James and Stephen Curry, a forward and a point guard playing in a more-tolerant era, just don’t hold up as individual rivals on that scale.

But the Lakers and Celtics never met in three straight Finals. (No teams have.) So, Cleveland and Golden State could put an unprecedented stamp on their rivalry.

Catching Lakers-Celtics, though? I suppose it’s possible, but it’ll take years for this comparison to get serious. An entertaining Christmas game could at least be a step in that direction.

Devin Booker drops 70 points for Suns in loss to Celtics (VIDEO)

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Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker is just 20 years old. He’s a League Pass favorite, and indeed he should be a favorite in Phoenix for years to come. On Friday, Booker dropped 70 points — yes, 70 — in a loss to the Boston Celtics.

Booker’s 70 points is the best outing of the season. It also made him the youngest player to ever reach 70 points.

His final stat line, as you might imagine, was ridiculous. Booker shot 21-of-40 from the field, going 4-of-11 on 3-pointers and a whopping 24-of-26 from the free-throw line. The Suns phenom also grabbed eight rebounds to go with six assists.

Despite the loss to Boston, 130-120, it’s still an incredible milestone for Phoenix and for Booker. There’s a bright spot out there for the Suns.

Magic’s Aaron Gordon skies to finish amazing alley-oop (VIDEO)

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Aaron Gordon may not have had the best dunk contest this year — apparently drones and dunks don’t mix well — but the guy can still get up and finish with the best in the league.

As he did on this alley-oop against Detroit.

Elfrid Payton had to throw a lob that would get over Andre Drummond, but how many guys in the league can get that high, reach back and finish that? Damn.

Former Hawk Pero Antic’s celebration accidentally punches teammate in face in Eruoleague (VIDEO)

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Former Atlanta Hawk Pero Antic is now playing for Turkish powerhouse Fenerbahce, in case you were not aware.

Fenerbahce was facing Anadolu Efes in a EuroLeague game, it was tight late and former NBA player Ekpe Udoh was at the free throw line for Fenerbahce. He missed his second shot, but the rebound caromed out-of-bounds off an Anadolu Efes player. Antic was pumped.

Maybe a little too pumped.

Ouch.

That was Nikola Kalinic, by the way, the guy Antic now owes dinner to. Kalinic would like the dinner more than the hug and kiss he got from Antic right after the play.

Also, Anadolu Efes held on to win 80-77.

(Hat tip to Ball Don’t Lie.)

James Harden helped recruit Lou Williams to Houston

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The Lakers had been shopping Lou Williams around in the run-up to the trade deadline, the only question was would they get a first-round pick for him. Rumors around the league say that Houston had offered them one weeks before, it was on the table, but the Jim Buss/Mitch Kupchak front office held their cards close and hoped a better deal would come through.

While all that was going on James Harden decided to ease the process and did a little recruiting calling up Williams, the sixth-man guard told Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

“When James called, he asked me if I was interested in playing with them,” Williams told The Vertical. “I told him that I loved the Lakers, but James and them have a group that fit my personality, fit how I play. He said he was going to make it happen.”

Williams then laughed, sitting on the edge of a visiting court following a recent practice. “I’ve heard that before, so I didn’t really put stock into it,” Williams told The Vertical. “I guess James did put the word in, and the team made it happen.”

We all know what happened, Jeanie Buss removed her brother and Kupchak a few days before the trade deadline, Magic Johnston stepped in, called around, and quickly pulled the trigger on a trade that sent Williams to Houston (the Lakers also got Corey Brewer). Williams has averaged 14.5 points per game and had some strong performances with the Rockets, although he’s still finding his groove with the team on the court. Still, he’s been an upgrade for the Rockets’ bench.

Harden knew he would be, so he did his part to make sure it happened.