Kurt Helin

Isaiah Thomas with no-look, behind-the-back pass to Jae Crowder (VIDEO)

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Think the Celtics didn’t miss Isaiah Thomas? They lost three of four when he was out recently, and won both games since he returned.

Thomas had 23 points and the Magic Johnson-like behind-the-back, no-look pass to Jae Crowder to help spark the Celtics to a 105-95 road win over the Heat.

Thomas also was ejected for a flagrant-2 foul when he elbowed the face of Justise Winslow with 3:02 left in the game. It was just a swing-through move trying to create space and it didn’t appear intentional. I doubt we will see a fine for this.

Watch the highlights of Tim Duncan’s jersey retirement ceremony

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It was an emotional night in San Antonio.

They retired the No. 21 of the greatest player in franchise history — and the greatest power forward in NBA history — Tim Duncan. Gregg Popovich was emotional. Tony Parker was fantastic. And Duncan was… funny.

Above catch the highlights of a big night. Below, watch Popovich almost come to tears, and see Duncan’s speech.

Report: Blake Griffin to undergo minor knee surgery, miss at least several weeks

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The Los Angeles Clippers have been 18.4 points per 100 possessions better when Blake Griffin is on the court this season. He’s played the best defense of his career, and while his offense lacks the highlights he used to generate seemingly nightly he has become incredibly diversified and efficient on that end.

Now we’re going to see how the Clippers play without him for a while. From Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

Griffin played 38 minutes Sunday, but has been playing through left knee pain.

Griffin has averaged 21 points, 8.9 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game this season. He is part of the second-most used five-man lineup in the NBA, the Clippers starting five — they are outscoring opponents by 16.2 points per 100 possessions when he is on the court. The Clippers numbers drop off fast when the bench gets involved, and it’s going to be involved a lot for the next few weeks.

This also could cost Griffin a lot of money.

Joel Embiid sets career high with 33 points, goes flying into stands in win


Joel Embiid is improving night after night.

He took another big step Sunday, setting a career high 33 points to lead the Sixers past the Brooklyn Nets 108-107. Although the play everyone is talking about is the one above, where Embiid tipped a post entry pass, then went flying into the stands to chase the loose ball, stepping on one fan then landing on another. Said fan was okay and Embiid did apologize to him for using him as a step stool.

Just don’t forget about the overall picture on Embiid’s big night. He hit 12-of-17 shots to get his 33 points, and while most of that damage was done in the paint, he was 3-of-6 in the midrange and 2-of-3 on straight-away three-pointers. He’s got range.

Brett Brown: Nerlens Noel pushed out of Sixers rotation


Nerlens Noel was not happy about only getting eight minutes on the court in the last Sixers game.

He’s going to like this even less.

Sunday night in Philly’s win over Brooklyn, Noel was not part of the Sixers’ rotation, and the implication is that’s going to be the trend going forward. Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor are going to get the run at the five spot. From Sixers coach Brett Brown, via Jessica Camerato of CSNPhilly.com.

“I think trying to force feed three bigs in a game is unfair,” Brown said Sunday before the Sixers faced the Nets. “I intend on going with two of those three bigs tonight. Nerlens will not be one of those people that will be in rotation unless something happens with foul trouble or some type of other circumstance.”

“I think a lot of people know it was going to get to a point like this,” Noel said. “Now I’m the one that’s in it, so I’m going to deal with it the best way possible.”

Noel has been critical of the Sixers front office more than once for the glut of bigs, and he’s not wrong there. They have too many big men who deserve minutes and time to develop on the court, and not everybody is going to get a fair shake. Noel is on the losing end of that deal.

The Sixers would like to move him in a trade. However the combination of his injury history and the buzz around the league about how poorly he has handled his demotion – poor attitude and body language — has teams making lowball offers, if any at all.

The Sixers likely will move Noel before the trade deadline, and maybe he blossoms in a different setting. He is athletic and has real potential as a rim protector. Sometimes all a player needs is a change of scenery. But the Sixers aren’t going to get much in return for him anymore.