Author: Kurt Helin

James Harden, Chris Paul

Five Things We Learned in NBA Monday: James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Anthony Davis all pad MVP resumes


If you watch closely every night in the NBA you can learn a little something. We know you are busy and can’t keep up with every game, so we’re here to help with those lessons from another night in the Association. Here’s what you missed while thinking photos of people covered in honey are pretty cool

1) It’s not always pretty, but James Harden gets the numbers, a little help, and the Ws. James Harden’s game is to attack and put pressure on everyone — the defenders to stop him and the referees not to call the contact he creates. It works. After a slow start to the game Sunday for Houston, Harden took over the final six minutes of the first half, putting up 18 of his 34 points in the quarter. It all started after Matt Barnes picked up a flagrant for throwing Harden down. It changed the flow of the game. Chris Paul did a solid job defending Harden late — Harden was 1-of-5 for four points in the fourth — but then the Clippers were undone by their own sloppiness with the game on the line. The Clippers had six fourth-quarter turnovers and seemed to go hunting for calls rather than shots. Harden forces contact, but he’s looking for his shot the whole time and finishes through that contact well.

Plus Harden got a little help.

Clippers/Rockets may a playoff series preview. I hope not. It would just be a lot of free throws and complaining to the officials from both sides. I prefer basketball.

2) Russell Westbrook keeps getting numbers — and getting his team wins they need to have. New Orleans lost to Denver Sunday, so Oklahoma City’s win Sunday moved them back into the eighth seed and final playoff spot in the West. They got it because of Westbrook. He scored 36 points and pulled down 11 rebounds. But more than that, as he has done through this entire stretch of basketball, he just puts pressure on the other team. He does it attacking in transition. He does it with his defense. Sometimes it is both.

He is just a force of nature right now. He’s also getting a lot of help — Steven Adams and Enes Kanter combined for 32 points and 29 boards against Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah.

3) Anthony Davis puts up numbers to rival anyone else, can we get the man some help? Check out Anthony Davis’ final line from Sunday: 36 points, 14 rebounds, nine blocks, and seven assists. According to, no other player in the last 30 seasons has posted a line with at least those numbers. Nobody. Still the Pelicans lost 118-111. There are a couple things at play in that double-overtime result. First, sometimes it’s about when you catch a team on the schedule, and interim coach Melvin Hunt has Denver playing well again. However, the Pelicans have issues. With Ryan Anderson down they lack three-point shooting (Tyreke Evans was 4-of-11, every one else on New Orleans was a combined for 2-of-11). When they beat the Nuggets recently, Evans and Eric Gordon had success posting up Ty Lawson, but the Pelicans went away from that Sunday. The Pelicans’ defense is inconsistent and while Davis blocked everything he could the Nuggets still had 64 points in the paint. Finally, the Pelicans were just sloppy with the ball in stretches. This was the kind of game they needed to get into the playoffs, and they lost. Even with Davis doing things like this.

4) LeBron tweaked knee and could sit out second return to Miami Monday. LeBron put up impressive numbers — 21 points, 13 rebounds, eight assists — pretty quietly Sunday as the Cavaliers had little trouble against the Magic. But things got scary for Cleveland in the third quarter when LeBron tried to block Dewayne Dedmon’s shot, landed awkwardly and tweaked his knee. LeBron played through it, but after the game wondered if he would need to sit out a game or two to rest it, just to be safe. The Cavaliers travel to Miami Monday night, and while that game loses some luster without LeBron Cleveland should be able to beat slumping Miami. Maybe even Kevin Love will get to play.

5) Manu Ginobili can still make plays, which is why the Spurs will miss him for the next week. Manu Ginobili is showing his age this season. The Spurs’ fan favorite is shooting just 43 percent, and he’s been more of a solid role player than guy you lean on (Kawhi Leonard has taken over his spot in the Spurs big three). But give him the chance and Ginobili can still make plays, just ask Kevin Martin.

Which is why the Spurs will miss him — Ginobili sprained his ankle in the win over Minnesota and will be out a week to 10 days.

Kyle Korver breaks nose, does not return to game for Hawks

Atlanta Hawks v Denver Nuggets
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The Atlanta Hawks were already resting Al Horford, Paul Millsap and Jeff Teague — three quarter of their All-Stars this season. It was just against the Lakers, after all.

Then Kyle Korver broke his nose.

It was an innocent second quarter play where he collided with Ed Davis’ shoulder, but it broke his nose and he did not return to the game (the Hawks confirmed the diagnosis during the game).

This ended Korver’s streak of 51 consecutive games with a made three (his personal and NBA record streak is 127). Here’s a gif of the play that ended his night.

The Hawks held off a late rally from the Lakers and picked up the win despite their four top players sitting out.

Korver — averaging 12.6 points a game and who is key to the Hawks offensive spacing shooting 50.4 percent from three this season — will be out Monday night when the Hawks take on the Kings in Sacramento. As noted above, he already was expected to miss that game for rest. The question is will he be ready to go on Wednesday night for a showdown against the West-leading Warriors in the Bay Area.

Corey Brewer dunks on Blake Griffin, lots of posturing ensues (VIDEO)

Houston Rockets v Los Angeles Clippers

Corey Brewer has been the second scorer the Rockets have needed lately. He scored 17 straight points for the Rockets late in a close loss to the Blazers earlier in the week, when Portland’s defense had taken James Harden out of his game.

Sunday, he dunked all over Blake Griffin.

Credit Griffin for coming in and going for the block, but Brewer got up and made the play.

After the play, Brewer gave a little “get off me” push to Griffin, who retaliated with a push of his own, which Brewer tried to sell flopping back into the stanchion. The referees called a double technical, which is the right thing to call if you were going to call anything in this situation. (Although, I thought the refs let the game get away from them and get very chippy late. Questionable calls both ways. That said I agreed with the Griffin charge call at the end.)