Dan Feldman

Rajon Rondo belatedly given tech for throwing towel in air as Bulls missed game-winning FT attempt (video)

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The Pelicans beat the Bulls in a double-overtime thriller Monday, but Chicago nearly won in regulation. Justin Holiday drew a foul on a 3-point attempt with 0.3 seconds left in the fourth quarter and made the first two free throws to tie the game.

As Holiday attempted the third, Rajon Rondo – who has kicked at opponents and tried to high-five them to break their focus – threw his towel into the air from the bench. Holiday missed, and New Orleans won in extras.

NBA:

Can you imagine the uproar if that technical foul had been called on the floor and Chicago got an extra free throw?

As is, the late technical foul and accompanying $2,000 fine is well worth however less likely Rondo’s towel toss made Holiday to convert and how it bolster’s Rondo’s reputation as someone who will do whatever it takes to win, no matter how silly.

Joel Embiid and Lonzo Ball headline Rising Stars rosters, but only one should

AP Photo/Chris Szagola
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Joel Embiid is keenly aware people will eventually grow tired of him.

This oversaturation will contribute.

In his second season with the 76ers, Embiid is a – deserving – All-Star starter. He’s a very good player and a known commodity. He’ll be celebrated during the main even of All-Star weekend Sunday.

And also in a sideshow Friday.

The NBA released rosters for the Rising Stars Challenge, with rookies and sophomores divided into teams by nationality:

U.S.

World

NBA release:

The NBA’s assistant coaches chose the rosters … with each of the league’s 30 teams submitting one ballot per coaching staff.  Coaches selected four guards, four frontcourt players and two players at either position group for each team.  They also picked a minimum of three first-year NBA players and three second-year NBA players for each team.

The head coaches for the…Rising Stars will be the lead assistant coaches from the 2018 NBA All-Star Game coaching staffs.

I renew my annual plea to exclude sophomores. They’re too established to draw interest in this exhibition simply by playing, and, for the same reason, they don’t care enough to compete entertainingly.

There’s still mystery about many rookies barely more than halfway into their first season, and that would draw interest. People would prefer to see more of players like De'Aaron Fox, Milos Teodosic, Jonathan Isaac, Bam Adebayo, Jordan Bell and Josh Jackson – who all got squeezed out for second-year players.

My dismay with the format is even stronger this year, with such an impressive rookie class. It’s a wasted opportunity for the league.

But if you want to see Embiid care even less than he will during the All-Star game, tune in Feb. 16.

Rumor: Isaiah Thomas led Cavaliers’ accusations of Kevin Love

AP Photo/Jim Mone
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Several Cavaliers reportedly accused Kevin Love of faking illness to leave Cleveland’s loss to the Thunder early Saturday and miss practice Sunday.

Who would make such an allegation?

The first guess was LeBron James. He drives the Cavs’ discourse, and he has directed ire at Love many times over the last few years.

But maybe it was actually Isaiah Thomas, a friend of Love dating back to their AAU days together.

Frank Isola of the New York Daily News:

A source told The News that Isaiah Thomas led the charge against Love

Whether or not this report is true, it’s not good for the Cavaliers.

If it’s true, that means the tension in Cleveland is so high, even longtime friends are going at each other. That’s obviously an undesirable culture.

If it’s false – assuming Thomas didn’t leak inaccurate information that paints him in an unflattering light himself and trusting Isola at least to cite someone positioned to know, which I do – it means someone else tied to the Cavs smeared Thomas. Again, that much finger-pointing is toxic.

Kobe Bryant nominated for Oscar

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Does Kobe Bryant need another trophy? He might get one – at the Oscars.

Bryant, the retired Los Angeles Lakers star, was nominated in the animated short category for “Dear Basketball,” based on a poem he wrote in 2015 announcing his impending retirement from basketball. He was nominated along with veteran Disney animator Glen Keane.

Bryant’s poem begins: “Dear Basketball, from the moment I started rolling my dad’s tube socks, and shooting imaginary game-winning shots in the Great Western Forum, I knew one thing was real: I fell in love with you.”

It reflects on how time is running out. “I can’t love you obsessively for much longer,” it says. “This season is all I have left to give. My heart can take the pounding, my mind can handle the grind. But my body knows it’s time to say goodbye.”

It ends by counting down the final five seconds on a game clock:

Bryant, 39, a five-time NBA champion, played 20 seasons with the Lakers before retiring last year.

John Wall calls J.J. Barea ‘little midget’, Barea says Wizards teammates dislike Wall

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J.J. Barea got hit with a technical foul for jawing with John Wall during the Mavericks’ win over the Wizards yesterday.

The trash talk only intensified after the game.

Wall, via Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington:

“It was cool. It was funny. It was just a little midget trying to get mad. So, I paid him no mind.”

Barea, via Tim MacMahon of ESPN:

“Now I have somebody in the NBA that I don’t like,” Barea said. “That’s my first. I don’t like him at all now. But I don’t think his teammates like him, either. So it’s nothing new for him.”

Barea is short, listed at 6-foot.

Do Wall’s teammates dislike him? A lot of that perception stems from his relationship with Bradley Beal, and it seems their biggest troubles are behind them. But the chemistry in Washington isn’t quite right. The latest evidence:

The Wizards got outscored by a whopping 20 points while diminutive J.J. Barea was on the court last night.

And that’s how you burn the burners.