Author: Kurt Helin

Spencer Hawes

Spencer Hawes Christmas Day suit was…. well, you should just see it (VIDEO)


Maybe this was just Spencer Hawes’ tribute to Craig Sager.

Otherwise, well, it was Christmas themed but I don’t have much to say about Hawes’ suit that he wore on the bench as his Clippers beat the Warriors with a great fourth quarter push.

It’s just a little more stunning on a seven footer, I think.

Miami fans give LeBron warm welcome, Heat team not so much in upset win

Dwyane Wade, LeBron James

The Heat fans were classy, welcoming LeBron James back to Miami with a standing ovation.

Luol Deng wasn’t as kind — the long-armed defender was in LeBron’s jersey all night, plus he scored 25 points on the evening on 11-of-16 shooting. Dwyane Wade reminded LeBron how impressive he could be… for a half anyway, Wade scored 24 points in the first half but was ice cold in the second (and we should give Dion Waiters a little credit for some good defense here).

Miami played with passion, with energy, with some professionalism and pride. The Heat coasted for a half and tried to flip the switch, but when they needed stops late their shaky defense was exposed again — Miami closed the game on an 11-4 run to seal it.

The result was a 101-91 Miami win.

As much as the crowd was kind to LeBron, they ate up this little slice of revenge.

Miami did it without Chris Bosh, who still is sidelined with a calf injury.

Cleveland, it’s its first game without Anderson Varejao — out for the season with a torn Achilles — went small, starting Kevin Love at center along with LeBron, Shawn Marion, Mike Miller and Kyrie Irving. That lineup worked offensively, shooting 11-of-15 in the 11 minutes it was on the court in this game, but it was still -1 because that group couldn’t get stops. After the game coach David Blatt hinted in his remarks that Tristan Thompson will start the next game for Cleveland.

The supporting cast is an issue. LeBron had 30 with and eight assists, Kyrie Irving had 25 points, and Kevin Love finished with 14 points (although he struggled with the physical nature of this game, something he will see a lot in the playoffs). However, the rest of the team was 8-for-24 shooting. That will not get it done.

But in the end it was Cleveland’s defense that was the biggest issue, Again.

With the game tight late Danny Granger scored seven of his nine points. Chris Andersen had a dozen points making Cleveland pay for the going small. Miami’s role players stepped up.

Cleveland is still finding its way. Which is somewhat understandable, but of late they have taken more steps back than forward. After the game LeBron said the Cavaliers are not a very good team right now. That may be putting it kindly. If they are not lighting it up from three or finding another way for the offense to cover for the defense, they are downright average. Which is not what anyone expected from this team at this stage.

Miami fans give LeBron James standing ovation

Cleveland Cavaliers v Miami Heat

That was a classy homecoming.

When LeBron James was introduced before the Cleveland Cavaliers took on the Miami Heat Christmas Day there were mostly applause with some scattered boos.

But after a video tribute to LeBron midway through the game — highlighting the four trips to the Finals and two rings he won in Miami before bolting back home to Cleveland last summer — the Miami fans gave LeBron a lengthy standing ovation. They saluted the good times and, while maybe still a little hurt he left, took the high road.

Well done Miami. Well done.

John Wall looks like All-Star, Knicks look like the Knicks, Wizards cruise to win

John Wall, Jose Calderon, Samuel Dalembert

For Wizards fans, early Christmas afternoon was a chance to bask in the warmth of John Wall’s improved game and have dreams of playoff wins dance in their heads.

For Knicks fans, it was pretty much a lump of coal.

In the first of a five-game slate on Christmas Day the Wizards raced out to a first quarter lead and put it in cruise control much of the afternoon, leading by double digits almost the entire game, as the Wizards basically embarrassed the Knicks winning 102-91.

Wall was the star for the Knicks — he had nine points and six assists in first quarter, leading the Wizards to put up 34-points in the first 12 minutes. That’s he most they have scored in the first quarter all season. The Wizards were up by 11 after the first quarter and never were threatened again.

Wall finished with 24 points, 11 assists and six rebounds and was just orchestrating the game. Plus he was doing things like this.

The real noise in the game came in the fourth quarter when Wall took a hard foul from Quincy Acy in transition — Wall bounced up and shoved Acy, something he admitted after the game he shouldn’t have done. Acy came back at him and basically tried to throw a punch — which he pulled, it didn’t land, but the damage was done. Acy was ejected and it he can expect to miss another game or two for the suspension that will come.

“Me being a key player I’ve got to keep my emotions in check and not get a technical or get ejected, that could have cost us the game,” Wall said in a televised interview on ESPN afterward. “I’ve just got to do a better job of staying composed.”

Washington showed it’s usual balanced attack with good ball movement — Bradley Beal had 17 points, Kris Humphries had 14 (and beat Amare Stoudemire off the dribble a couple times), Nene had 12, Rasual Butler 11. The Wizards got 50 of their points in the paint and basically did whatever they wanted on offense.

The Knicks slogged on offense, there was very little ball movement and that led to Carmelo Anthony getting 34 points, mostly from the perimeter and mostly contested — 21 of Anthony’s 28 shots were contested, he hit 11 of those.

The Knicks have lost 16-of-17 and it showed just how far this roster is from the top teams in the East (and the Wizards are a top team, a potential Eastern Conference Finals participant). They don’t defend, they don’t share the ball, they don’t play good team basketball, and Derek Fisher can’t seem to motivate the troops. The Knicks are just a mess.

But things will get better next year, Phil Jackson promises. For now, just use the lump of coal to keep warm.

Knicks’ Quincy Acy ejected after throwing punch at John Wall (VIDEO)

Washington Wizards v New York Knicks

Quincy Acy is going to miss a game or two (or three) for the Knicks coming up.

In the fourth quarter of the Wizards comfortable, coasting win over the Knicks to on Christmas Day John Wall was bringing the ball up in transition when Acy fouled him by going with the forearm to the neck/head area. Wall went to the ground, bounced up and gave Acy a shove in the chest, at which point Acy pretty clearly throws a punch.

Now, he pulls the punch and it doesn’t land — that will save him a few games of suspension. But he is going to get suspended. The league is not going to tolerate punches being thrown on national television on the league’s unofficial opening day for a lot of fans. (They don’t tolerate it any day, but especially not in this kind of setting.)

“Me being a key player I’ve got to keep my emotions in check and not get a technical or get ejected, that could have cost us the game,” Wall said in a televised interview on ESPN afterward. “I’ve just got to do a better job of staying composed.”

The Wizards won the game 102-91, leading by double digits most of the game after getting off to a fast start.