Kurt Helin

Hornets mash up Kemba Walker, Chuck Norris for brilliant All-Star campaign

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Kemba Walker should be an All-Star this year. He is the core of the Charlotte offense, averaging 22.3 points a game, shooting 41.1 percent from three, has a true shooting percentage of 57, and has a PER of 22.1 — all of those a career best. The Hornet offense is 9.4 points per 100 possessions worse when he sits. The Hornets are 17-14 and look like a playoff team thanks to Walker. Plus he’s just fun to watch.

But in an Eastern Conference deep with good guards — Kyrie Irving, Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, John Wall, etc. — it never hurts to have a good ad campaign.

Enter “Walker, Charlotte Ranger” — putting Walker (and teammates Frank Kaminski and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist) into Chuck Norris’ legendarily bad “Walker, Texas Ranger” television show. Below are the videos the team has already shot to promote Walker for the All-Star Game in New Orleans. And yes, voting is open.

 

George Karl takes shot at Damian Lillard; player’s agent, coach fire back

damian lillard
Associated Press
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The latest stop on the “George Karl will say anything to sell a book” tour was New York Magazine, where in addition to explaining/defending his comments about Carmelo Anthony, the former coach decided to take a shot at Blazers point guard Damian Lillard. A man he never coached.

“I was watching the Portland Trailblazers play, and I was trying to figure out, ‘What the hell is wrong with this team?’ My conclusion is that Damian Lillard is getting too much attention….Who controls the team? The coach and the point guard. And that team is not working. I think their coach, Terry Stotts, is a great coach. So I’m going to say the problem is Lillard. They were a together, connected, committed team last year. This year they’re not. What changed?”

What’s wrong with Portland? How anyone would say “Lillard” and not “defense” is baffling. Portland’s defense is dead last in the NBA and giving up 5.9 more points per 100 possessions than it did a season ago. The Lillard-centric offense is actually slightly better than a season ago, it just can’t cover up for the dramatically worse defense anymore.

However, Lillard doesn’t need me to defend him when he has his coach, Terry Stotts, and his agent, Aaron Goodwin.

Karl may sell some books. But he told New York Magazine that he wants to coach in the NBA again and hesitates to burn another bridge. Got news for Karl, that bridge is in about as good of shape as the one over the River Kwai.

Carmelo Anthony ejected for blow to Thabo Sefolosha’s head (VIDEO)

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The Hawks’ Thabo Sefolosha is the kind of player that can get under your skin — he’s long, he’s an aggressive defender who challenges everything, and he can be physical if he needs to be.

Apparently, he had bothered Carmelo Anthony. Sefolosha had been in ‘Melo’s face for chunks of the game, and the two were battling for a rebound in the later part of the second quarter in Atlanta when, as the play moved away, Anthony flung his arm and hit Sefolosha in the head. It was obvious, although it wasn’t clear that the officials saw it at first. There was a quick technical foul called, then a double technical because Sefolosha shoved Anthony back.

Finally, the referees reviewed the play, saw the shot to the head, and Anthony was tossed.

As he should have been — the NBA is cracking down on blows to the face and head, and that unquestionably was one (I wouldn’t call it a punch, but it was a shot). ‘Melo earned the shower. Whether or not it was intentional he was gone — and you can bet the farm after the game Anthony will say it wasn’t.

Anthony left the game with 10 points on nine shots, plus five rebounds.

PBT Extra: Kevin Durant, others may hate two minute reports, but they should stay

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Kevin Durant generated a lot of conversation by backing the NBA referees. The NBA’s two-minute report on the Warriors loss to the Cavaliers on Christmas Day said the referees missed Richard Jefferson tripping Durant, it should have been a foul. A lot of players would have said “I told you so,” but Durant defended the NBA’s officials and ripped the league’s two-minute reports.

Durant has a lot of people in his corner — Steve Kerr, Gregg  Popovich, and Stan Van Gundy are among the coaches who have questioned the reports; Dwyane Wade said he “hates” them, LeBron James is with him, and plenty of other players have called the reports a mistake.

But the reports aren’t going anywhere — and I don’t think they should. Adam Silver started them as a counter to the David Stern-era policy that the league almost never admitted referee errors. Silver wants transparency, even if that shows off a little of the dirt of the league (although I’d say the reports primarily show the league’s refs get things right, that’s just not what anyone focuses on). Personally, if the choices are no information, or information that shows the referees are human, I want that info.

That’s what I cover in this latest PBT Extra.

Add LeBron James to list of guys not a fan of the NBA’s “two minute report”

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Kevin Durant created a stir when he defended the NBA’s officials and ripped the league’s two-minute reports, but he is far from alone in that sentiment. His own coach Steve Kerr has questioned them. Gregg  Popovich called them “odd,” and Stan Van Gundy is not a fan. Dwyane Wade said he “hates” them. The only people who hate them more are in the referees union. That’s just the tip of the iceberg, the prevailing sentiment among players and coaches (and plenty of front office executives) is they don’t like the reports.

Now add LeBron James to that list. He was asked Wednesday at practice about the reports and said this, via Dave McMenamin of ESPN.

“I’m not a fan of the two-minute report,” James said after the Cavs practiced on Wednesday. “I think it discredits what the referees are doing for 48 minutes. If that’s the case, you might as well do a 48-minute report.

“It’s not fair to the referees that you only talk about the final two minutes of the game and not the first 46. There’s plays that’s missed, there’s plays that called throughout 48 minutes that don’t get talked about.”

There are some executives around the league who want to see a 48-minute report. That strikes me as a disaster waiting to happen.

It’s easy to see why the referees don’t like them. With the players, I get the sentiment — the reports don’t change anything. It exposes the officials and publicly scolds them, but the NBA is not going to order the final 3.4 seconds of the Warriors/Cavaliers game be replayed with Durant getting free throws. The result doesn’t change.

Still, I’d rather have them than not. Before in the David Stern NBA, the league almost never admitted referee errors — even obvious ones in big games — and that opened the door to charges of games being fixed. While that door isn’t closed — Hello Paul George — Adam Silver has pushed the idea of transparency to help fight the tin foil hat brigade. I’d rather know what the NBA saw and thought, why certain calls were made. If the option is no information, or information that shows the referees are human, I want that info. To me, those reports primarily show how officials get tough calls right far more than wrong, and that they also are human.

But it will be interesting to see if Adam Silver responds to the push back on those reports.