Kurt Helin

Kobe Bryant still has some hops, finishes alley-oop (VIDEO)


Even in Sacramento, the fans showed up to pay tribute to and cheer Kobe Bryant.

And they got their money’s worth — Kobe had 28 points on 18 shots and even showed he still has some hops, cutting baseline then getting up to finish and alley-oop. Also in this game, Kobe passed the 33,000 total points mark, joining only Karl Malone and Kareem Abdul-Jabar as people in that club.

Give the people what they want — Kobe did that.

What was maybe more impressive was the 27-point comeback led by D'Angelo Russell (career high 27 before spraining and ankle late in the fourth) as the Lakers made a game of what had been a blowout. Sacramento got the win 118-115, but the Lakers let their youngsters play the fourth (while Kobe sat) and it worked. Maybe they should try it again.

James Harden with sweet no-look pass to… second row (VIDEO)

Houston Rockets guard James Harden, center, sits on the bench with teammates Corey Brewer, right, and Clint Capela, of Switzerland, during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the San Antonio Spurs, Saturday, Jan. 2, 2016, in San Antonio. San Antonio won 121-103. (AP Photo/Darren Abate)
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James Harden had a good night — 33 points on 25 shots to lead the Rockets to a victory, one that moved Houston back within a game of .500 and helps solidify their likely playoff position in the West.

But this was hysterically bad.

Harden’s first option on the drive was cut off, as was his planned kick to the corner for a three. So he waited for a second, and then I guess thought someone was cutting to that space. Or the ball slipped as he tried to make a pass. Or….

He can laugh about it now after the win.

Report: Hornets reached out to Nets about Bojan Bogdanovic trade

during their game at The Barclays Center on November 17, 2015 in New York City.   NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.
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Charlotte has been a surprise this season — their defense has bounced back to above average, but the bigger surprise was how Nicolas Batum, Jeremy Lin, and a healthy Kemba Walker have lifted their offense up to Top 10 in the NBA. They are close to a playoff spot in the East.

But they could use a little more depth along the front line, especially with Al Jefferson out, which has led to some talks with Brooklyn, reports Mitch Lawrence of The Sporting News (hat tip Eye on Basketball).

(Brooklyn) GM Billy King is conceding privately what we all know: The Nets aren’t making the playoffs. So it’s time to start breaking up the team. So far, Charlotte has called to try to deal for Bojan Bogdanovic, the team’s top 3-point marksman, Sporting News has learned. If Joe Johnson doesn’t get moved at the deadline, he’s seen as a prime candidate for a buyout.

First, that Johnson buzz is all over the league. Considering he makes $24.9 million this season, why would a team trade for him when they could let the Nets buy him out then sign him as a free agent for closer to the veteran minimum? He’s not good enough to pay even a portion of that huge deal.

Bogdanovic is a solid scoring big man, averaging 10 points a game, and who can stroke the three (33.6 percent). That shooting may be the key; the Hornets are fourth in the league in three-pointers taken but 17th in percentage. Offensively, Bogdanovic also works well off the ball and can score inside, too. He’s not a great defender and not a big help on the glass, but he is a good value at $3.4 million this season and $3.6 million next season. Would the Nets take a deal such as Brian Roberts and a future second round pick (with some protections)?

A few teams will call about Bogdanovic; the Nets can wait until closer to the deadline.

Brad Stevens misses Celtics game to be with former player battling cancer


Former Butler basketball player Andrew Smith is in a serious battle with cancer (non-Hodgkins lymphoma to be specific), one that has his family requesting prayers and his friends flying to be by his side.

That includes Brad Stevens, the former Butler and current Boston Celtics’ coach.

He is missing the Celtics’ Thursday night game against Chicago on national television to fly back to Indianapolis and be with Smith in his time of need, something the Celtics have confirmed. From A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com.

Smith was a starting center on both of Butler University’s Final Four teams, coached by Stevens.

Assistant coach Jay Larranaga will assume head coaching duties tonight in Stevens’ absence.

Classy move by Stevens. Our thoughts are with the Smith family.


Shane Battier meets with Sixers, says “The playing ship has sailed”

Former Miami heat player Shane Battier gestures to his former teammates before an NBA basketball between the Miami Heat and Portland Trail Blazers, Sunday, Dec. 20, 2015, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
Associated Press

Shane Battier, the 13-year NBA veteran and two-time NBA champion, was in Philadelphia meeting with people in the Sixers organization Thursday.

Battier was one of the names rumored as a veteran player the Sixers might bring in to provide some leadership in the locker room (the Sixers recently signed Elton Brand for that role), so him hanging out with Sixers brass raised some eyebrows.

Nothing to see here, move along.

That according to Shane Battier himself, via Jessica Camerato and John Finger of CSNPhilly.com.

If you’re taking fashion advice from Sam Hinkie, you’re doing it wrong.

But it sounds like this was just another step in the Sixers management talking to veterans and making changes that will bring a little more stability — and a few wins — to the organization.