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Brandon Jennings compares Knicks to Wizards, ‘a team that actually plays together’

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The Knicks were so finished with Brandon Jennings, they outright waived him. No buyout, just a straight willingness to pay him to go away.

Now with the Wizards, it doesn’t sound as if Jennings misses New York.

Jennings, via Keely Diven of CSN Mid-Atlantic:

“I’m in the same position I was in New York, but just in a better system for me personally and with a team that actually plays together,” he said.

Jeff Hornacek’s system was fine for Jennings until the Knicks re-emphasized the triangle, but that was after Jennings left, anyway.

I’m more interested in Jennings insinuating the Knicks didn’t play together. That definitely appeared to be the case from the outside, but it’s another level when a former insider raises the issue.

New York’s lack of cohesiveness is a shared failure between Carmelo Anthony, Phil Jackson and Jeff Hornacek.

Anthony hasn’t been the type of leader who instills an atmosphere of cooperation. His isolationist offensive style lends itself to separation, and he hasn’t shown an ability to rally his teammates in a way that counteracts that.

Jackson exacerbated those problems by acquiring Derrick Rose and Jennings, two score-first point guards with only limited efficiency. Rose especially has struggled to fit into a cohesive team dynamic as he looks to find his own way post-injury.

And then there’s Kristaps Porzingis, New York’s budding star who’s too talented to fade into the background. He’ll find touches, no matter how much disarray around him.

The Knicks’ divisions are particularly felt on defense, where all five players rarely execute together. It’s seemingly only a matter of time until the unit breaks down. That falls to Hornacek, who has failed to implement a sound defensive system. And, no, assigning defensive duties to Kurt Rambis doesn’t excuse Hornacek. Ultimately, this falls on the head coach.

Jennings hasn’t been shy about criticizing the Knicks — even while playing for them, as Diven tracks. But they’re also 26-39. Criticism is warranted, and Jennings’ appears fair.

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.