Dan Feldman

Orlando Magic forward Serge Ibaka, of Congo, reacts after being called for a foul while defending a shot by Denver Nuggets forward Nikola Jokic in the second half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Jan. 16, 2017, in Denver. The Nuggets won 125-112. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
AP Photo/David Zalubowski

Report: Former Magic teammates had ‘real issues’ with Serge Ibaka

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In trading Serge Ibaka to the Raptors, the Magic didn’t just get assets (Terrence Ross and a first-round pick) for a player who seemed increasingly likely to leave in unrestricted free agency this summer.

Orlando apparently also got rid of a headache.

Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders:

Going from the winning Thunder to the lowly Magic probably didn’t bring out the best in Ibaka, and thats understandable, though not entirely excusable.

I also wonder how much of this was situational rather than anything Ibaka actively did wrong.

His presence forced Aaron Gordon and Jeff Green from their ideal position of power forward to small forward. That narrowed Mario Hezonja‘s path the the court. Any minutes Ibaka received at center cut into Bismack Biyombo‘s and Nikola Vucevic‘s playing time.

Both elements probably worked in concert. Ibaka disrupted the play of several teammates just by being there, which likely led to them giving him less benefit of the doubt about his attitude.

Don’t absolve Magic general manager Rob Hennigan, though. He built a roster overloaded with bigs. He asked for leadership from a newcomer who was third banana at best on his previous team and is entering a contract year. It’s not a huge shock this dynamic soured on and off the court.

 

 

 

Glenn Robinson III wins underwhelming dunk contest on over-people, below-rim dunk (video)

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NEW ORLEANS — Glenn Robinson III won the dunk contest with the second-best dunk of the night, going over a few people and under the rim — a narrow path to slamming victory.

It would’ve rated as the event’s best dunk if he were truly under the rim rather than somewhat in front of it. And he did have the best body of work to win the contest.

But the best single dunk was still by runner-up Derrick Jones Jr., who went between the legs on a pass off the side of the backboard.

Derrick Jones Jr. catches pass off side of backboard, jams between-legs dunk (video)

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NEW ORLEANS — With defending runner-up Aaron Gordon eliminated in the first round, Suns forward Derrick Jones Jr. might be our best hope to save the dunk contest.

 

Aaron Gordon dunks on assist from drone (video)

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NEW ORLEANS — I wish Aaron Gordon would’ve caught the ball in the air straight from the drone, but considering how little bounce the ball got, this is still pretty cool.

However, in part because he needed so many attempts, he got a first-dunk low of 38 points in the dunk contest.

Going big: Kristaps Porzingis wins Skills Challenge (video)

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NEW ORLEANS — Kristaps Porzingis was a half step behind Gordon Hayward as they shot their layups in the Skills Challenge, but the 7-foot-3 Knicks forward had an advantage as each player’s ball fell through the hoop.

“I kind of cheated a little bit,” Porzingis said. “I grabbed the ball before him, because I’m taller. And then I just kept running.”

Porzingis kept his advantage, hitting a 3-pointer on the other end to win the Skills Challenge on All-Star Saturday Night. He’s the second big man to win in the two years larger players participated, joining 2016 winner Karl-Anthony Towns.

 

 

In an event thought to favor guards considering the emphasis on ball-handling, passing, speed and shooting, the bigs are making their mark. Even Gordon Hayward, a forward shoehorned into the guard division won that to meet Porzingis in the final. But the bigger Porzingis was too quick.

“It’s a good feeling I’m able to showcase my skill with my size,” Porzingis said.

It’s a new era for NBA bigs. What’s next for Porzingis on All-Star Saturday Night?

“Slam dunk competition? For sure not,” Porzingis said. “Maybe one day 3-pointers.”

 

Complete results

Quarterfinals

Gordon Hayward over John Wall

Isaiah Thomas over Devin Booker

Kristaps Porzingis over DeMarcus Cousins

Nikola Jokic over Anthony Davis

Semifinals

Gordon Hayward over Isaiah Thomas

Kristaps Porzingis over Nikola Jokic

Final

Kristaps Porzingis over Gordon Hayward