Kurt Helin

Popovich on All-Star practice one-on-one with Kobe: “He elbowed me”

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LOS ANGELES — All-Star Game practices are basically public shootarounds, with a minimal amount of strategy and a lot of players getting interviewed. They are just the guys having fun.

As part of this year’s 2016 , Gregg Popovich played a little one-on-one with Kobe Bryant, Pop tried to play a little defense. Kobe got by the Spurs coach and scored. Popovich joked around Friday night — before his Spurs faced Kobe for the final time — about why he got beat on the play.

“He elbowed me,” Popovich said. “I don’t know if you looked at that. The guy, he got competitive, and he elbowed me, so he could get by me because I’m so quick I could stay in front of him. He’s a slow old dog and I’m quick, the only way he could get around me was to cheat, so he raised that elbow and cracked it.”

“I can handle his quickness just fine, I just felt like throwing an elbow at him,” Kobe responded with a laugh.

Kobe and Popovich have a strong relationship, two students of the game who are more alike than different (despite wildly different upbringings). They both talked about how they were going to miss each other and their times together facing off against each other.

“They’ve pushed me to really fine tune and sharpen my game,” Kobe said of the Spurs. “I’m sad those matchups aren’t going to happen (anymore).”

Monta Ellis scores 27 as Pacers beat Thunder 101-98

Indiana Pacers guard Monta Ellis (11) drives between Oklahoma City Thunder players for two points during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City, Friday, Feb. 19, 2016. The Pacers defeated the Thunder 101-98. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)
Associated Press
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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Monta Ellis scored 27 points to help the Indiana Pacers beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 101-98 on Friday night.

Paul George had 22 points and 10 assists, Ian Mahinmi matched a career high with 19 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, and Myles Turner had 16 points and a career-high six blocks for the Pacers.

George Hill had nine points and nine assists and matched a career high with 11 rebounds for Indiana, which has won six of nine.

Kevin Durant had 31 points and eight rebounds and Russell Westbrook had 23 points and a career-high 18 assists for the Thunder.

Serge Ibaka had 12 points and 11 rebounds and Enes Kanter added 13 points and 10 rebounds for Oklahoma City, which had won 14 of 16 heading into the All-Star break.

Turner hit a 3-pointer from the right corner to tie the score at 95 with 55.4 seconds to play. Durant missed a 3, then Ellis responded with a 3 with 18.8 seconds remaining.

Westbrook missed a layup, the Pacers rebounded and George was fouled with 10.9 seconds remaining. He missed the first free throw and made the second to make it 99-95.

Durant hit a 3 with 5.9 seconds remaining to pull the Thunder to 99-98. George was fouled with 5.1 seconds to play. He made both free throws to make it a three-point game, and Westbrook missed a deep, off-balance 3 at the buzzer.

Westbrook had 11 points and 12 assists in the first half. He matched the most assists he’s has had in a half in his career. He had 12 assists before he registered his first turnover. Durant scored 17 points and Ibaka added 10 before the break to help the Thunder take a 51-44 lead.

Oklahoma City led 76-67 at the end of the third before Indiana rallied.

QUOTABLE

Thunder general manager Sam Presti earlier in the day on rumors about Durant’s eventual landing spot in free agency: “I think we would have to cut him up into 29 pieces to get him to play every place he is supposed to be going, but I think you have to sit back and understand that is part of the business.”

TIP-INS

Pacers: G Rodney Stuckey sat out with a right foot sprain/bone bruise. … Pacers G/F C.J. Miles did not play because of a stomach virus. … The Pacers shot 50 percent in the fourth quarter.

Thunder: Assistant coach Mark Daigneault, who had moved from up head coach of the D-League affiliate Oklahoma City Blue to assist Thunder coach Billy Donovan for the rest of the season stayed with the Blue on Friday because interim Blue coach Jarrell Christian’s wife was having a baby. Daigneault had moved up because assistant Monty Williams is mourning his wife’s death and assistant Maurice Cheeks was out following hip surgery.

 

Damian Lillard scores 51, Trail Blazers beat Warriors by 32

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Who isn’t an All-Star?

Damian Lillard took out his “I didn’t make the All-Star Team” frustration on the Golden State Warriors and scored 51 on Stephen Curry and friends on the way to a 32-point rout of the defending champs. Lillard scored 21 points on 7-of-8 shooting in the fourth to ensure that the Warriors didn’t find their way back into a game the Blazers had controlled since the opening tip (you can see that video above). The final score was 137-105.

On the night, Lillard also had seven rebounds and six steals.

The win put the Trail Blazers over .500 (28-27) and is a boost of confidence for a team trying to fight its way into the playoffs.

The Warriors have not lost two in a row all season, but they have a tough back-to-back against the Clippers on Saturday. This is just the fifth Warriors’ loss of the season; it comes at the start of a five-game road trip. How they play over the next couple of weeks will help Steve Kerr how hard he pushes this team toward 73 wins and the record down the stretch.

 

Vince Carter beats third-quarter buzzer from three-quarters court (VIDEO)

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Vinsanity!

Wearing the best throwbacks in the NBA (the Memphis Sound), the Grizzlies’ Carter drained the three-quarter court shot to end the third. Like he does it every day.

The Grizzlies needed those points — and the 25 from Mike Conley — to beat the Timberwolves 109-104.

Giannis Antetokounmpo two-hand reverse windmill dunk? Here you go.

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It was basically a dunk contest style exhibition dunk, since nobody ran out to challenge Giannis Antetokounmpo on the breakaway.

He didn’t disappoint. That’s an impressive throwdown.

Unfortunately for the Bucks it was not enough — a game the Bucks needed if they were going to climb back into the playoff chase in the East, the Hornets escaped with Milwaukee with a 98-95 road win behind 25 Kemba Walker.