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Marcin Gortat: Wizards have Eastern Conference’s best starting lineup

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The Wizards have a trash bench. They’re also 29-20.

So, obviously the starters are doing something right.

John Wall, Bradley Beal and Otto Porter are having career years. Marcin Gortat is providing his usual steady interior production. And after a rough start, Markieff Morris has played much better lately — bringing everything together.

Gortat, when asked by Chris Miller of CSN Mid-Atlantic whether the Wizards have the Eastern Conference’s best starting lineup:

I would say yes. I do truly believe that we have the best starting five in this conference. And if everybody’s healthy, everybody plays 100 percent max effort, then we definitely have the best starting lineup.

Because he was asked, Gortat was somewhat backed into a corner. What else is he supposed to say at that point?

But he also might be right.

Washington’s starters have outscored opponents by 5.7 points per 100 possessions this season, second in the East to the Cavaliers (+7.1).

But the Wizards have gone six games without starting Wall-Beal-Porter-Morris-Gortat due to injury. That unit is +10.9 per 100 possessions — better than the Cavaliers’ most-used lineup of Kyrie IrvingJ.R. SmithLeBron JamesKevin LoveTristan Thompson (+9.3).

In fact, Washington’s starting lineup has the second-best net rating of each Eastern Conference’s team’s most-used lineup. Only the 76ers — T.J. McConnellNik StauskasRobert CovingtonErsan IlyasovaJoel Embiid — have a better most-used lineup (+14.0).

However, that Philadelphia group has played just 115 minutes in 14 games. The Wizards’ primary starters have played 857 minutes together in 43 games. There’s value in availability, which is still a question mark with Embiid and anything he’s fueling.

Plus, with such a weak bench, Washington rarely has the ability to sub for matchups. The Wizards’ primary starters must handle all types of opponents, even ones that pose stylistic difficulties.

Credit the Wizards for making this a discussion, but that’s as far as I’ll go. Give me the lineup that has LeBron James, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving (and solid support from Tristan Thompson and J.R. Smith/Iman Shumpert).

Jeff Hornacek on Knicks standing up to LeBron: “I thought it was great”

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LeBron James totally dissed New York Knicks guard Frank Ntilikina. Or maybe he was just complimenting Dennis Smith Jr., and Enes Kanter likes to get in the middle of things? Or perhaps it was a barely-veiled shot at former Knicks president Phil Jackson?

No matter which way you view this little NBA drama, there’s some kind of silver lining to take away for New York after LeBron got a little too close for comfort with Ntilikina during a recent matchup with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

According to Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek, that silver lining is how well Ntilikina, Kanter, and the rest of the squad did when standing up to James.

Via the NY Post:

“I thought it was great,’’ he said on the newest edition of “The Jeff Hornacek Experience” that debuts Friday night on MSG Networks after the Knicks face the Raptors. “When we played back in the day, there was a lot of that. So you don’t see as much now in today’s game.

“But, you know, whether the comments from LeBron were aimed at Frank or the Knicks or Phil [Jackson] or whatever it was, I was happy that Frank gave him a little shove and then when LeBron stood in front of him and Enes jumped in there. That’s kind of the chemistry that gets developed when guys are playing for each other. You saw Enes jump right in the middle of this and said, ‘Nah you’re not gonna do this to my young guy.’ So that’s a great sign to see the togetherness of our guys.”

So to recap:

1. LeBron was taking a shot at Phil.
2. Enes Kanter didn’t like that.
3. Jeff Hornacek likes that.

Clear? Ok, good.

The Warriors really had an eye on Joel Embiid’s trash talking (VIDEO)

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Joel Embiid has a reputation around the league already, and for good reason.

The man who continuously lobbied Rihanna to give him a chance for a date has other NBA players hoping they beat the Philadelphia 76ers just to avoid Embiid’s trash talking.

Indeed, the Golden State Warriors beat Philly on Saturday night, 124-116, thanks in part to a huge rally in the second half. A 22-point deficit had to be overcome for Golden State, and not just to add to their win column.

The team also wanted to sidestep Embiid’s silver tongue:

Both Draymond Green and Kevin Durant said they wanted to keep Embiid at bay. Durant’s comment was particularly funny, and can be seen in the video at the top of the article (fair warning, Durant used some NSFW language).

The Process is now The Reputation.

Former Knicks, Warriors F David Lee announces retirement from NBA

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One of the NBA’s more under appreciated forwards has announced his retirement from the NBA.

David Lee, who spent time in his career with the New York Knicks, Golden State Warriors, Boston Celtics, Dallas Mavericks, and San Antonio Spurs, told the NBA world about his retirement via his Instagram page on Sunday.

Lee, 34, played last season with the Spurs. He averaged 7.3 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 1.6 assists for Gregg Popovich’s team.

Via Instagram:

Lee played 14 seasons in the NBA, the majority of which came with the Knicks. During his time in New York, Lee was seen as an unsung hero, nabbing rebounds and doing yeoman’s work from the power forward position.

The Knicks traded Lee to Golden State in the summer of 2010 for Kelenna Azubuike, Anthony Randolph, Ronny Turiaf, and two second round picks. He was part of the Warriors’ 2014-15 NBA Championship before eventually being traded to Boston in 2015.

Sixers say injured Markelle Fultz will be re-evaluated in 2-3 weeks

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We were all waiting for supposed “good news” about injured Philadelpia 76ers guard and No. 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz. And it looks like we’ve got it? It’s hard to tell with this one.

On Sunday, the Sixers announced that Fultz — suffering from a sore right shoulder — would be re-evaluated in two to three weeks.

That’s at least some kind of timeline, which is more than we got when Fultz was originally ruled out indefinitely at the end of October.

Here’s the announcement from the Sixers.

Via Twitter:

Fultz has reportedly been working out and shooting left handed, which one can only hope is adding to his dexterity.

No doubt Sixers fans just want to see him on the court again as quickly as possible. The saga of the imbalanced shoulder has been a strange one, we’ve all got our fingers crossed that it settles normally.