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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.

PBT Extra: Which teams just miss out on playoffs in West, East?

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The race for the final playoff spots in the West, East have come down to the final week of the NBA season.

Who will be the teams on the outside looking in? That’s the topic in this latest PBT Extra.

In the West, Denver could not overcome that loss to Portland recently, plus a tougher schedule to follow. In the East it’s more complicated, but again it’s about the schedule — and that’s bad news if you’re the Miami Heat.

 

Thabo Sefolosha donates “substantial portion” of $4 million settlement to charity

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In arresting Thabo Sefolosha near a crime scene in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York two years ago — the Hawks’ wing was eventually found not guilty of those charges — the NYPD broke Sefolosha’s leg. He missed the Hawks playoff run that season and spent a lot of time in rehab before returning to the court. Sefolosha sued the NYPD over the incident and this week settled the case for $4 million (a sum that shocked a few people).

Friday, Sefolosha released a statement about the settlement and what he planned to do with the money.

“It is an extremely gratifying feeling to know that justice has been served and that now, finally, I can truly put this behind me. To fight for what is right and be fully exonerated and vindicated is both satisfying and very humbling.

“We are all aware that there are still too many cases of police brutality today. So many of these cases go unnoticed or unreported; so many victims do not have the means to fight for justice as I could. It’s unfair.

“While I alone can’t bring the type of change needed to eliminate these issues, I want to help make a difference. A substantial portion of my settlement will be donated to Gideon’s Promise, an Atlanta-based nonprofit that helps support and train public defenders across the country.”

Good on Sefolosha for picking a cause to help people who were in his shoes but lacked his resources to defend himself through the legal system.

He also says he wants to put the incident behind him now.

What did Ben Simmons do during his sidelined season? Apparently grow two inches.

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We saw only a quick glimpse of him against the pseudo-NBA competition of Summer League, but in that window you could see how Ben Simmons could be special. He was 6’10”, had handles, and showed a vision of the game, a passing gift that cannot be taught.

Then came the Jones fracture to his foot that has sidelined him the entire season. Hopefully, next season we can see what the Sixers look like with Simmons and Joel Embiid healthy and together on the court.

What did Simmons do with his season “off?” Grow a couple inches. That’s what World B. Free, the Sixers director of player development, said during the Sixers radio broadcast recently (hat tip Ball Don’t Lie).

It seems like Ben Simmons grew about another two inches since he’s been here. I told him that the other day, I said, ‘Ben, you look like you’ve grown another two inches since you’ve been here.’ His arms are long, he’s lean, he’s in shape. When I watched him in practice — just in practice — he’s like a baby Magic Johnson.

You would be right to be skeptical of that, but Jon Johnson, who helps cover the Sixers for 94 WIP Radio in Philly, went and asked the man himself.

So Simmons is basically Kevin Durant‘s size.

It’s not uncommon for one-and-done players to grow a little more once in the NBA (often their diet improves too, which helps). Simmons just needs to work on filling out the frame a little.

I cannot wait to see Simmons’ career unfold. He should pour a shot of rum for Jobu or whatever deity he chooses in an offering to stay healthy next season.