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Karl-Anthony Towns rebounds, doesn’t realize ball is live – and it leads to Timberwolves dunk (video)

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James Harden drew a shooting foul with 1:30 left in the Rockets’ win over the Timberwolves last night. He made his first of two free throws then Minnesota called timeout. After the break, chaos ensued.

Clint Capela appeared confused even before Harden missed the second of two free throws. Karl-Anthony Towns grabbed the rebound and tried to hand the ball to the referee, who nearly took it. Most players stood around as if the ball were dead. Chris Paul and James Harden rushed toward the referees calling for a travel.

At that point, enough people realize the ball was live. Towns – who I don’t think actually travelled once he corralled the ball – passed to Derrick Rose, who pushed the ball ahead. Andrew Wiggins leaked out and got an easy dunk, as Paul and Harden were rushing the other direction at the referee.

That cut the Timberwolves’ deficit to five, but they couldn’t fully capitalize in the 104-101 Game 1 loss.

76ers legend Hal Greer dies

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Who’s the 76ers’ all-time leading scorer? It’s not Allen Iverson.

Who was the first 76er to have his number retired? It wasn’t Dolph Schayes.

Who was the 76ers’ first All-Star MVP? It wasn’t Julius Erving.

It was Hal Greer, an all-time great player whose feats shouldn’t be forgotten. He was one of the best guards of his generation – a notch below Oscar Robertson and Jerry West, but steadily excellent for a long time.

Greer died at age 81, the 76ers announced.

76ers release:

The Philadelphia 76ers organization mourns the passing of Hal Greer, an NBA champion, Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer and team legend. Throughout his 15-year career with the Syracuse Nationals and Philadelphia 76ers, Greer solidified his place as one of the greatest basketball players ever. An NBA champion in 1967 and 10-time NBA All-Star, Greer’s legacy includes being the 76ers’ all-time leader in points, field goals, field goals attempted, games and minutes played, culminating in him being named one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History in 1996.

In addition to his historic contributions on the court, Greer will forever be remembered as a true gentleman who used the tremendous platform of basketball to uplift and inspire others.

The 76ers said they plan to honor Greer at tonight’s Game 2 against the Heat. How fitting the 76ers rose to the level of having home-court advantage in the first round in time for this game to be in Philadelphia.

Report: Nerlens Noel rejected $70 million offer, requested max, never got another offer from Mavericks

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Nerlens Noel reportedly rejected an offer worth $17.5 million annually from the Mavericks last summer. Then, he signed his qualifying offer.

Apparently, there wasn’t much mutual negotiation between.

Tim MacMahon of ESPN:

As a restricted free agent, Noel declined a four-year, $70 million offer from the Mavericks last summer, countering by asking for a maximum contract. According to sources, Mavs owner Mark Cuban immediately pulled the offer off the table and never made another one, with Noel eventually signing a one-year, $4.2 million qualifying offer after changing agents.

This worked out well for the Mavericks. They sent a message for future negotiations and avoided paying Noel so much.

Questions emerged about Noel’s work ethic. He left the team for weeks to have an non-pressing thumb surgery. Until getting suspended for a drug violation (almost certainly marijuana), Noel’s most notable moment of the season was eating a hot dog.

Perhaps, Noel would have been on a better track if he were happier with his contract situation. But these are too many red flags to ignore.

Though he’s just 24 and has shown flashes of quality play, Noel is unlikely to earn $70 million over the rest of his career. He’ll probably regret that negotiation.

Thunder suspend announcer who said Russell Westbrook was ‘out of his cotton-picking mind’

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While Russell Westbrook was pursuing enough rebounds in the Thunder’s season finale to clinch a triple-double season average, Thunder TV play-by-play announcer Brian Davis  accentuated a nice pass by saying “Westbrook is ‘out of his cotton-picking mind.’

The modifier “cotton-picking” is an exclamatory phrase. Davis seemingly meant that Westbrook was playing out of his mind, a compliment. But the phrase is tangled in a history in which slaves primarily picked cotton in the South.

Fred Katz of The Norman Transcript:

I believe Davis didn’t consider the racist undertones of the phrase. It sounds innocent enough at first blush.

But this should serve as a reminder as all the subtle ways racism is baked into our society. To eradicate it, we first must actively identify it. There are far more harmful examples than a basketball announcer uttering an insensitive phrase.

Davis shouldn’t have said it, and he owned up to that and apologized. I’m not sure what suspending him accomplishes. This already shined a light on the context behind the phrase, and it seemed to serve as a learning experience for Davis and everyone else listening (myself included). I guess the suspension lets the Thunder show they take these matter very seriously.

PBT Awards: All-NBA

AP Photo/Phil Long
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Kurt Helin

First team

G: James Harden, Rockets

G: Damian Lillard, Trail Blazers

F: LeBron James, Cavaliers

F: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks

C: Anthony Davis, Pelicans

Second team

G: Russell Westbrook, Thunder

G: Chris Paul, Rockets

F: Kevin Durant, Warriors

F: Jimmy Butler, Timberwolves

C: Joel Embiid, 76ers

Third team

G: Stephen Curry, Warriors

G: Kyrie Irving, Celtics

F: LaMarcus Aldridge, Spurs

F: Al Horford, Celtics

C: Karl-Anthony Towns, Timberwolves

The first team was fairly clear for me — the positions just happened to shake out the same as my MVP ballot. If Stephen Curry had played more than 51 games he would have been much higher on this list. Also, there was some shifting here. For example, I have Davis as the first-team center here but list him as a forward for All-Defense, but he pretty much evenly split time between the positions and this gets the best players on the All-NBA roster. Same with moving Aldridge to forward, even though he played more center this season.

Dan Feldman

First team

G: James Harden, Rockets

G: Damian Lillard, Trail Blazers

F: LeBron James, Cavaliers

F: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks

C: Anthony Davis, Pelicans

Second team

G: Russell Westbrook, Thunder

G: Chris Paul, Rockets

F: Kevin Durant, Warriors

F: Jimmy Butler, Timberwolves

C: Joel Embiid, 76ers

Third team

G: Victor Oladipo, Pacers

G: Stephen Curry, Warriors

F: DeMar DeRozan, Raptors

F: LaMarcus Aldridge, Spurs

C: Karl-Anthony Towns, Timberwolves

The first team matches my MVP ballot. Kyrie Irving and Kyle Lowry were tough cuts in a stacked guard class. Jimmy Butler and DeMar DeRozan benefited from being able to swing to forward. Al Horford, Nikola Jokic, Paul George and Ben Simmons received strong consideration for the third-team frontcourt spots, but DeMar DeRozan (keeping turnover rate low while offensive focal point), LaMarcus Aldridge (carrying shorthanded Spurs into playoffs) and Karl-Anthony Towns (such a talented scorer, even if his usage and defense were underwhelming) got the edge.

Dane Carbaugh

First team

G: James Harden, Rockets

G: Damian Lillard, Trail Blazers

F: LeBron James, Cavaliers

F: Kevin Durant, Warriors

C: Anthony Davis, Pelicans

Second team

G: Chris Paul, Rockets

G: Russell Westbrook, Thunder

F: DeMar DeRozan, Raptors

F: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks

C: Joel Embiid, 76ers
Third team

G: Jimmy Butler, Timberwolves

G: Victor Oladipo, Pacers

F: Paul George, Thunder

F: Al Horford, Celtics

C: Rudy Gobert, Jazz

There’s lots of ways to get angry about these picks, which is why I’m not going to lose sleep over anyone I left off. The first team is perhaps a little easier this year, if only because the MVP voting sort of shakes out in a way that mimics the same format. The obvious absence here is more guys from the Raptors, but that perhaps is due to the rising tide lifting all boats situation they have going on in Canada. I think that’s what you want, to be honest. Anthony Davis played 51% of his minutes at center this year according to Basketball Reference, by the way, so don’t tweet at me.