Kurt Helin

Andre Drummond, Ersan Ilyasova

Pistons rally for 104-99 win over Cavs despite James’ 30

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AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) — Andre Drummond had 25 points and 18 rebounds and made some crucial free throws when he was fouled intentionally, helping the Detroit Pistons rally to a 104-99 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday night.

LeBron James scored 23 of his 30 points in the first half, but the Pistons double-teamed him on a couple of big possessions down the stretch and Cleveland couldn’t convert. The Cavs lost their second straight after winning eight in a row.

Drummond’s free throw with 2:07 left gave the Pistons a 98-97 advantage, and Detroit was able to hold on.

It was 102-99 with 13.8 seconds remaining after Reggie Jackson made two free throws for the Pistons. J.R. Smith then missed a contested 3-pointer from near the top of the key.

Detroit snapped a four-game losing streak despite giving up the first nine points of the second half. Cleveland led 65-55 after that run, but the Pistons were able to stay within striking distance.

The Cavs led 97-93 when they decided to start intentionally fouling Drummond, who came in shooting 40 percent from the line. He made two free throws with 2:58 remaining, and after the Pistons tied it on a basket by Jackson, Cleveland fouled Drummond again. This time he made one of two free throws.

James passed out of a double team to Kevin Love, who missed from the corner, but the Pistons turned the ball over. Then James, double-teamed again, threw the ball away with 48.8 seconds remaining.

Jackson missed a floater, but Cleveland’s Timofey Mozgov missed from the baseline and Cleveland had to foul. Jackson made two free throws with 21.3 seconds remaining.

James answered with a driving layup, but Jackson was fouled again and pushed the lead back to three.

Love scored 19 points, and Smith and Mo Williams had 15 each for Cleveland, which is still without injured star Kyrie Irving.

Jackson had 23 points and 12 assists for Detroit, and Ersan Ilyasova added 20 points.


Cavaliers: James scored at least 30 points for the fourth straight game. In the first quarter, he passed Jerry West to take over 19th place on the NBA’s career scoring list.

Pistons: Drummond has had a double-double in all 11 games this season. … Jackson rebounded after a season-low nine points in a loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday.


LeBron James passes Jerry West for 19th on all-time scoring list

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LeBron James has moved past the logo.

With a shockingly wide-open corner three against the Pistons Tuesday, LeBron moved past Jerry West into 19th all-time on the NBA scoring list with 25,193 career points (and he kept adding to that, LeBron had 23 in the first half). LeBron had only needed 10 to move past West.

Expect LeBron to pass a lot more people this season — he is averaging 27 points a game right now and even if he takes a few nights off he likely moves up into the low teens by the end of the season. At least.

Jason Kidd on trading Brandon Knight: “I wouldn’t say we gave up a lot”

Brandon Knight

Last season before the trade deadline when the Milwaukee Bucks were leaning fairly heavily on Brandon Knight, they were 30-23 and had set themselves up as a playoff team. After the trade deadline when Michael Carter-Williams took over at the point, and through the start of this season, the Bucks have gone 16-26.

Certainly there are a lot of other factors in play with those numbers, but the team’s offense took a hit when Knight was moved (he is in Phoenix now and racked up a triple-double for them Monday). So, why did they do it? The Bucks didn’t think he was the long-term answer, Jason Kidd said Tuesday, as reported by Charles F. Gardner of the Journal Sentinel.

“I wouldn’t say we gave up a lot,” Kidd said.”He (Knight) was having a great season, and he’s having a great season this year. But it wasn’t we gave up Brandon. We had a decision to make between our backcourt.

“It wasn’t Klay Thompson or Stephen Curry. We weren’t going to max out our backcourt. As an organization, we had a decision to make, and we made it.”

To be clear, what Kidd is saying they liked Khris Middleton — the Bucks gave him a $70 million contract extension to this summer — and they weren’t sure about paying Knight. I can accept that, but will add I’m far from convinced Carter-Williams is the long-term answer at the point in Milwaukee (he is just coming back from injury).

The Suns gave Knight $70 million this summer to pair with Eric Bledsoe in their backcourt. So far that has worked out pretty well, but it’s going to be a long time before we know which side (if any) made out in this trade.


Shaq tops list of six toughest players Nazr Mohammed defended

BOSTON, MA - JANUARY 14:  Shaquille O'Neal #36 of the Boston Celtics drives the lane against Nazr Mohammed #13 of the Charlotte Bobcats on January 14, 2011 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts.  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. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2011 NBAE  (Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images)

Shaquille O’Neal was a beast. He was huge, physical and strong, but with the quick footwork of a small forward. His combination of size and athleticism could only be compared to Wilt Chamberlain, another absolutely dominant player of his era. Shaq calling himself MDE wasn’t all hyperbole.

Just how tough was Shaq to guard? Ask Nazr Mohammed.

The 17-year NBA veteran listed the six toughest players he ever had to guard in a story at the Players’ Tribune, and Shaq was at the top of the list.

The morning after you played Shaq, it always felt like you were in a fight. You were sore from head to toe.

This probably won’t shock people, but Shaq was the most dominant big man I’ve ever faced. He’s in a class of his own. Shaq’s the player who kept me up at night wondering, “How the hell am I going to stop him?” Or, more realistically, slow him down, because nobody could stop him….

In order to guard him, or at least attempt to guard him, you had to do your work early. That meant getting back on defense quickly and trying to meet him at the free throw line. From there, you’d basically brace yourself for impact in a collision that you were physically incapable of winning.

Who came in second? Mohammed had a five-way tie amongst Rasheed Wallace, Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, Dirk Nowitzki and Yao Ming. The entire article is worth a read.


NBA “Champions League” of veteran players to launch in 2016

Rasheed Wallace Pistons

Golf’s “Champion Tour” of past-their-prime but well known and loved golfers is a financial success for the PGA — former players get to make a little more money and the PGA, which puts it on, rakes in some cash as well.

Will it work with former NBA players?

We will find out starting in 2016 when the Champions Tour (not run by the NBA) launches. Sam Amick of the USA Today has the details.

Behold The Champions League, a non-NBA affiliated venture where the league’s chairman and CEO, Carl George, is hoping to provide family-friendly and affordable entertainment during the NBA’s downtime. The vision, expected to be announced formally today, looks like this.

• Sixteen teams to begin competing in the summer of 2016, with a strong preference for players who have competed in the NBA during the last three years. According to George, the New York team is already fully formed and includes former NBA players Al Harrington, Rasheed Wallace and Maurice Ager. Teams in Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, Miami, Orlando, Atlanta and Cleveland are up next, with the goal to employ approximately 250 players in all (170 on teams, others as player-coaches or in other roles). Each team would have two former NBA All-stars on the roster and a Hall of Famer in the front office. George said that 60 players have committed to this point, with many more “in the pipeline” while the subsequent teams are rolled out….

On average, George said, players would make approximately $200,000 per year (for 80 or 90 days of work) in their pay structure if they take part in both the season and the charity events. The strategy to attract the best-of-the-rest players is simple: provide a far better payday than the NBA’s Development League (top tier approximately $25,000) while offering a more-comfortable alternative to the overseas route that can certainly lead to more money but that, inevitably, requires a life-changing relocation.

It’s ambitious. How big a market there is in the summer for this level of hoops is certainly a question — the NBA’s Summer League has become a big draw and is shown on NBA TV, but that is just a couple of weeks and the audience trends toward young, die-hard fans. Will those fans watch this new league, one where they may know some of the players fairly well but don’t have the emotional attachment they do to an NBA team (or college team, for that matter)?

Obviously, star power would be a big part of this. Seeing Sheed scream “ball don’t lie” again would be fun, but it would take big names to draw really big sponsors/eyeballs. I’m not sure guys on the verge of retiring such as Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett would go this route. It will also launch opposite the Olympics this summer, something hoops fans will follow.

Still, this has potential. Even if the financial dreams are lofty at the start, this could be a lot of fun to watch and follow through the slow parts of the NBA offseason.