Kurt Helin

With sixth assist Friday, Russell Westbrook guarantees triple-double average for season

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John F. Kennedy was president. A dozen eggs cost 32 cents. A gallon of gas cost 28 cents. People were going to the movies to see “West Side Story,” and Andy Warhol was painting cans of tomato soup.

Also, in 1962, Oscar Robertson averaged a triple-double for a full NBA season.

He was the last person to do it. Until Friday.

In Phoenix, Russell Westbrook guaranteed he will be the second person to put up those numbers for a season — he needed just six assists, and he got that in the third quarter against the Suns.

Westbrook had a couple generous assists handed him by the scorekeeper in Phoenix, but he also had a couple missed opportunities because Steven Adams missed point-blank shots.

There’s been a push in some quarters to denigrate what Westbrook has done this season in an effort to pump up James Harden for MVP. That must stop. Make a case for Harden (there’s a strong one), but do not dismiss what Westbrook has done — not just the triple-double average, which is impressive, but leading a team that plays at the level of an 18-win team when he is not on the court to the playoffs. He has been clutch for them in big games. There are no nights off for him — forget being sat to rest, he is out there every night going 110 percent. Fans get their money’s worth. He doesn’t have a second gear. Westbrook plays with a rage, with a ferocity, too often lacking in the long NBA regular season.

Westbrook deserves all the credit in the world for his season. It has been a joy to watch.

Hardaway Jr., Hawks stun Cavaliers 114-100

Associated Press
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CLEVELAND (AP) — Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 15 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter as the Atlanta Hawks, despite resting center Dwight Howard and missing three other key starters, stunned the Cleveland Cavaliers 114-100 on Friday night.

The Hawks, who beat Boston on Thursday night, outworked and outgunned the defending NBA champions, who blew a chance to move closer to securing the top seed in the Eastern Conference with a flat performance.

Mike Dunleavy added 20 for Atlanta and got a little revenge against the Cavs, who tossed him in as part of a trade for Kyle Korver in February. The Hawks recorded 39 assists.

It was a shocking letdown by the Cavs, who were so impressive in a win over the Celtics on Wednesday night. But they lacked energy from the outset and the Hawks took advantage with their second straight victory, moving a game ahead of Milwaukee for fifth place in the East.

LeBron James scored 27 and Kyrie Irving 18 for Cleveland, which was in a funk for most of the night but took an 87-85 lead in the fourth on a 3-pointer by Korver.

Hardaway took over from there.

Although he was listed as questionable before the game with knee and wrist injuries, Hardaway played anyway and down the stretch he buried a pair of 3-pointers and delivered a vicious dunk during a 12-0 run when the Hawks put it away, shocking a sellout crowd hoping to see the Cavs move closer to locking down home-court advantage in the East.

Cleveland was again without starting center Tristan Thompson, who missed his second straight game with a sprained thumb.

TIP-INS

Hawks: Didn’t play any of their starters from a March 3 matchup with Cleveland. … The decision to sit Howard wasn’t announced until 40 minutes before tip-off. When he met with reporters, coach Mike Budenholzer wasn’t certain about his starting lineup and he initially said Dennis Schroder would play. However, after going through a warmup, Schroder was scratched and Jose Calderon started. … Paul Millsap (swollen left knee) and Kent Bazemore (bone bruise) aren’t ready to play in consecutive games as they recover from injuries. … G/F Thabo Sefolosha announced he’ll make a donation from his court settlement after breaking his leg in a fracas outside a Manhattan nightclub in 2015. Sefolosha will reportedly receive $4 million and give “a substantial portion” to Gideon’s Promise, an Atlanta-based organization that helps support and train public defenders.

Cavaliers: Coach Tyronn Lue plans to rest James and Irving for the playoffs if the Cavs clinch the No. 1 seed. “If we can take care of business like we’re supposed to, I think that we’d like LeBron and Kyrie to get some rest,” Lue said. “I think J.R. (Smith) and Korver and Kevin (Love) and those guys should play a little bit because they’ve been out for so long and just try to keep J.R.’s rhythm and establish Kevin’s rhythm and the same thing with Kyle.” … Lue offered few details about Thompson’s injury or a timeline on a possible return. Thompson got hurt Tuesday against Orlando and missed Wednesday’s game in Boston, snapping his streak of consecutive games played at 447.

 

Jerry West would like NBA to change its logo, fan suggestions are entertaining

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Jerry West is “the logo.” He was an NBA champion, a gold medalist, a 12-time All-NBA player, five-time NBA All-Defensive team, and the last guy to win the Finals MVP on a losing team (1969). But ask people today and he’s “the logo” — that silhouette of a player dribbling in the NBA logo is patterned after West.

West would like that to change.

The Hall of Famer was on ESPN’s “The Jump” and said he would prefer people didn’t know it was him, and that he would love to see it changed. Here’s a quote, via Bleacher Report.

“I wish that had never gotten out that I’m the logo,” he said. “I really do. I’ve said it more than once, and it was flattering that’s me. I know it is me, but it is flattering. … I played in a time when they first started to try to market the league. There were five people that they were gonna consider. … I don’t like to do anything to call attention to myself.”>

The NBA isn’t changing their logo anytime soon, sorry Jerry. That said, if you read Roland Lazenby’s biography of West you’d know how intensely private the man is, and how this is not the kind of notoriety he seeks.

But you don’t have to ask the internet twice to come up with alternatives. Ones that will make you laugh.

Check out Kevin Love’s touchdown pass to LeBron James for dunk (VIDEO)

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It was a Friday night game with meaning for both teams — Cleveland trying to secure the top seed in the East, the Hawks trying to stay in the five slot — and it’s led to an interesting, tight game for this late in the season.

The best highlight of the first half: Kevin Love looking better than any Browns’ quarterback last season, hitting LeBron James with the touchdown pass for the slam.

The Hawks were up by two, 52-50, at the half.

Kevin Durant back with no minutes restriction Saturday, plans to “go out there full throttle”

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Kevin Durant will be back on the court for the Golden State Warriors Saturday night at home against New Orleans. Because the Pelicans’ season hasn’t been rough enough already.

Durant has missed 19 games due to a sprained MCL and a bone bruise in his knee, and while you can expect Golden State to be cautious — they already have the No. 1 seed sewn up — there are no restrictions on him, reports Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area.

After completing a full scrimmage with his teammates as well as a lively post-practice workout Friday, Kevin Durant pronounced himself fit and ready to return to the Warriors….

The team’s training staff and coaches will monitor Durant, but there is no plan for a firm restriction on playing time….

“I’m just going to go out there and be me,” he said. “I can’t think about how I’ll feel, because I’ll end up holding back. I just want to go out there full throttle and see what happens.”

I’d be surprised if Durant plays more than 25 minutes. They have three games if they want for him to shake off the rust and get in a little conditioning. Plus, the Warriors will have four (five tops) games against Portland in the first round to get things right. (Technically Denver could still catch Portland, but in practice the Blazers are going to make the playoffs.) There’s time to find a groove again.

The key for Golden State on offense is keeping this aggressive Stephen Curry on offense and adding Durant, not having a more passive Curry deferring to Durant.