Author: Kurt Helin

Gregg Popovich, Kawhi Leonard

Five Things We Learned in NBA Tuesday: San Antonio reminds you they are the champs


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 trying to find the best way to break in your new baseball glove

1) San Antonio would like to remind you they are the champs (and are playing like it again). We talked about this on PBT Extra Monday — the Spurs are starting to play like the Spurs again. Which should concern other teams out West with title aspirations because the Spurs are the bar to clear. With their comfortable win Tuesday over Toronto, San Antonio has won six in a row. During that streak, they are scoring 112.6 points per 100 possessions (second best in the NBA at that time) while allowing just 95.5 points per 100 (sixth best). It all starts with Tony Parker getting into the paint again — half his shot attempts Tuesday came within eight feet of the rim — and he finished with 23 points and nine assists. Plus, Parker was 6-of-9 on contested shots. However, the real star was Kawhi Leonard with 24 points, 11 rebounds, and five steals. If you’re looking for a highlight, he threw down on Tyler Hansbrough.

2) Meanwhile, the Raptors slide continues unabated. Part of the reason San Antonio looked so good Tuesday was that Toronto looked so awful. Again. The Raptors have now lost 9-of-10, and that one win was against the Sixers. The problem is their defense, which is allowing 109.1 points per 100 possessions in that stretch, 29th in the NBA. Tuesday they scored a respectable 107 points against the Spurs, Kyle Lowry scored 32, but they lost by 10. It’s strange because Dwane Casey has the reputation as a defense-first coach, but this team’s system leaves them in constant mismatches and finds them scrambling as much as any team in the league. The Raptors looked better in the second half; they made their run, but by then it was too late.

3) You can’t throw an alley-oop pass too high for Anthony Davis. Look how high Davis has to go to pull in this pass from Norris Cole. Seriously, so long as it’s in the building he can get it.

4) LeBron became the Cavaliers’ franchise leader in assists. LeBron James moved past Mark Price to become the Cavaliers all-time assist leader when he hit James Jones in the corner, and Jones knocked down a three. That gave LeBron 4,207 assists as a Cav. By the way, he already owns the franchise records for points and steals.

5) Rodney Stuckey? Rodney Stuckey keeps the Pacers train rolling right toward the playoffs. Every once in a while Rodney Stuckey can still get it going, and Tuesday night was one of those times — he came off the bench and shot 6-of-7 for 16 points. And that was just the first quarter. Stuckey had 25 points by the half and finished with 34 points on 13-of-19 shooting. He had one beautiful shot chart on the night.


The Pacers tied their franchise record wit 17 three-pointers on their way to an easy 118-86 win over Orlando. Indiana has now won six in a row and looks like they should take one of those final two playoff spots in the East. Plus the team will get Paul George back soon, although not by March 14 as he had once hoped. But soon.

If you throw the alley-oop pass in the building Anthony Davis will finish (VIDEO)

Anthony Davis

Just your daily reminder that Anthony Davis is an unstoppable freak of nature.

He got out on the break with relatively new Pelicans teammate Norris Cole, who threw an alley-oop pass only Davis and Reed Richards could have pulled down. It’s just another insane highlight from Davis.

It wasn’t Davis’ best night overall — 15 points on 16 shots — but the Pelicans had six players with at least a dozen points, plus they went on a 21-3 run late in the second quarter into the start of the third. That was enough. New Orleans beat Brooklyn by 20 and stay in the playoff mix in the West.

Vlade Divac on Kobe Bryant: “He’s definitely, by far, the best talent that I ever, ever played with”

Kobe Bryant (L) of the Los Angeles Lakers has his

Vlade Divac is back in the NBA. That’s a very good thing.

He’s one of the pioneers of Europeans coming to the NBA and having success, having been a key part of the Lakers and Kings. He was an All-Star in 2001 and a guy known for a polished offensive game both back to the basket and from the midrange, his passing, smoking cigarettes, and flopping. He was eventually appreciated in Los Angeles (it was not easy to replace Kareem) but he was beloved in Sacramento, where he has returned to work with the organization’s basketball operations.

Divac also is remembered as the guy the Lakers traded for Kobe Bryant. Charlotte drafted Bryant on a pre-arranged deal to send him West. Which is why it was interesting when Divac sat down with the USA Today’s Sam Amick and said this about Kobe.

“It was a lovely story that I finished my career with Kobe, with somebody who I was traded for. I have a lot of respect for the guy. I think he’s definitely, by far, the best talent that I ever, ever played with. (It’s) obviously very close with Magic (Johnson) and Chris Webber, Glen Rice and Peja Stojakovic — it’s unbelievable experience for me to have a teammate like that next to me.”

More talented than Magic? That is high praise.

You should also read Divac’s comments on flopping — he says he did it because it was the only way he could defend the man-child that was Shaq, but he doesn’t like where it is in the game now.