In a vacuum, the Cavaliers and Warriors played a great game on Christmas. But the background made it even more dramatic. Most of those players had met in the last two NBA Finals and developed a rivalry as a result.
The notable exception, of course, was Kevin Durant, who signed with Golden State last summer.
But it sounds as if he acclimated to the passion of the rivalry quickly.
Cleveland forward Richard Jefferson received a technical foul for winking at Durant after dunking on him, which led to some griping by the Cavs about Durant.
Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal:
Cavs players were upset Jefferson was T’d up because, in their opinion, Durant was doing far worse. Durant dropped some choice expletives on Kevin Love following his dunks, including calling him a motherf—–. Players questioned how Durant can get away with calling a player that while Jefferson gets whistled for a smile and a wink.
The NBA acknowledged LeBron James should have been called for a technical foul for hanging on the rim. I wouldn’t be surprised if the league rescinds Jefferson’s technical. A lesser player in a lower-profile game probably would have gotten a second tech for acting like Draymond Green did. It’s fairly clear this officiating crew didn’t handle technical fouls appropriately Sunday, so I wouldn’t be surprised if Durant deserved one.
But when it comes to trash-talking between the Warriors and Cavaliers, the Cavs can’t claim a moral high ground.
We reached the middle of the NBA season, which is a good time to consider where things stand for the end-of-season awards such as MVP, Rookie of the Year, and Coach of the Year. We have made our picks and even broken them down in a podcast.
Now it was time to ask you who you thought should win awards.
I put it out there on Twitter in some polls, and I cover your responses in this PBT Extra. I’m with you on Brad Stevens for Coach of the Year, although I think it’s close. Did you choose LeBron James or James Harden for MVP? Watch and find out.
Jason Smith pushed down Michael Carter-Williams while going for a rebound. Carter-Williams pulled Smith to the floor. Tim Frazier flew in heated.
It was more than a typical NBA altercation – Carter-Williams clenched his fist, though never swung – but it wasn’t quite a fight. It was just reserves getting feisty late in a blowout, the Hornets’ 133-109 win over the Wizards on Wednesday. Carter-Williams and Frazier were given double technical fouls and ejected.
One catch: Smith was called for personally fouling Carter-Williams, who was due free throws. With Carter-Williams unavailable, Washington could pick his replacement at the line.
Wizards coach Scott Brooks chose Dwight Howard, a poor free-throw shooter who’d been resting the entire fourth quarter and surely figured his night was over. Maybe it was only about Howard’s team-worst 53% shooting from the line, but it’s also possible Brooks was trying to make an opponent uncomfortable.
The Charlotte crowd went wild, and Howard only added to the fervor.
He sunk both free throws – padding his stats (18 points, 15 rebounds, two blocks and two steals) – and blew Brooks a kiss. Howard might appreciate the extra points Brooks afforded him, but they’ll likely come at a cost. Howard celebrated with the Sam Cassell/big-balls dance, which usually draws a fine from the NBA.
Just when it seemed as if the Pelicans were rolling… they lose to the lowly Hawks.
This was the second game of a back-to-back after beating the Celtics in overtime, and New Orleans looked the part, blowing a 15-point lead in the final 19 minutes.
Kent Bazemore‘s jumper with 2.1 seconds left stood as the game-winner when DeMarcus Cousins missed a rushed post-up on the other end.
Paul Pierce is being petty about Isaiah Thomas‘ tribute video.
And that’s from someone who empathizes with Pierce’s point of view.
When retiring a player’s number, teams tastefully use stoppages to show highlights and tributes to the player. The whole night, not just the moment of raising a number into the rafters, can be about celebrating the player. It’s reasonable for Pierce to want the entire package.
But to go on television and advocate for not showing Thomas’ video? To continue the campaign after Thomas made clear how important his video was to him? To tell the Celtics not to show a short video for Thomas during introductions?
It’s way too far.
Too many people around Pierce enabled his flawed approach. Jalen Rose put that to a pointed stop.
Rose on ESPN:
I’ve got say a word for you, fam. I think it was petty.
On Paul Pierce’s part.
I love Paul. This is my brother. Because to me, there are going to be all type of announcements that happen in the 48 minutes during that game. All types. Including Isaiah Thomas could be one of them. It does not take away from your situation. Like Kobe’s, it happened during the game. Because they’re doing yours post-game.
The look on Pierce’s face while Rose was talking!