Author: Kurt Helin

Charlotte Hornets v Cleveland Cavaliers

He’s on Fire! Kyrie Irving scores 55, knocks down game winning three (VIDEO)


Kyrie Irving should have had the NBA Jam announcer calling this game — “BOOMSHAKALAKA!”

On a night LeBron James was out, Irving dropped 55 points on Portland, shooting 17-of-36, including going 11-of-19 from three. He also did a good job helping harass Portland’s Damian Lillard into a 4-of-19 shooting night. He dished out five assists.

But that play above is what you will see on the highlight shows — a three right in the face of Nicolas Batum that proved to be the game winner.

That is the Cavaliers’ eighth straight win.

J.R. Smith says he’s playing better in Cleveland because there’s less partying

Cleveland Cavaliers v Detroit Pistons

J.R. Smith is putting up numbers with the Cavaliers — he’s averaging 14.2 points a game, taking the majority of his shots from beyond the arc and hitting 39.7 percent of them in his last 10 games. Smith is still far from efficient (shooting 39.9 percent with the Cavaliers) but he’s fitting in and playing a little better than he did in New York.

Why? Well, playing with LeBron James helps (he’s a superstar who is a more willing passer than the last superstar Smith played with). Plus guys like Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love draw defenders to give him open looks from three, plus there is more depth in Cleveland.

Or, maybe it’s that he parties less because this is Cleveland and not Manhattan.

That’s basically what he told David Aldridge of (hat tip to Deadspin).

“I think this is the best situation for me, ’cause there’s nothing but basketball. There’s nothing you expect but basketball. There’s nothing, there’s no going out, there’s no late nights. There’s video games, basketball and basketball. So it’s a great thing, ’cause I go back to where I came from. When I grew up, I never, I wasn’t allowed to go out. I missed my prom because I went to an AAU tournament, and all that stuff. For me, it was basketball, basketball, basketball. And then when I got in the situation where I was at an early age, it was more, alright, let me see what this life is about, as opposed to just keep going. So now, I get the chance to get back to my roots….

I always made myself better by staying in the gym. When you replace that with stuff off the court, then you’re taking away from what made you who you are, or what got you to a certain point. It was kind of pulling me down in a sense, of not getting enough rest, not doing things you’re supposed to be doing, things you’re used to doing. So when you start missing those shots you’re supposed to make, especially wide-open shots, it was like, alright, what’s going on, what’s going on? Instead of looking at what it is, you’re reverting to that even more, instead of going back to the basics. So I think that’s the greatest part about being here.”

NBA players are fully capable of getting in trouble in any market, and is Smith wants it there is trouble to be found in Cleveland. That said, Smith was a notoriously bad player on those Sunday afternoon games the Knicks often host at Madison Square Garden, and one may have to work a little harder to find the late night spots and trouble in Cleveland.

Or, maybe the jolt of reality going from the lowly Knicks to a Cavaliers team that is starting to resemble what was envisioned for it before the season — the team is on a seven-game winning streak and playing improved defense — could have him focusing on the game. That and the leadership of LeBron James, an old friend, could keep Smith in line.

We’ll let this one play out before saying any new leafs have been turned over, or any other such cliché. At this point in his career Smith is what Smith is, an unrepentant gunner, just one that the Cavs may be able to use to their advantage.

Tayshaun Prince: “Obviously I want to be in a winning situation”

Boston Celtics v Denver Nuggets

It’s not just the snow.

Tayshaun Prince has basketball reasons for wanting out of Boston — he wants to win. And while you can make a case that the Celtics could make the playoffs in the East — they are just two games out of the eight seed and have played the toughest part of their schedule — actually winning in a serious way is not in the plan for a few years.

The former Grizzlies’ wing would love to be back playing for a contender again, he told Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald, and one way or another that is likely to happen. In the short term he’s just trying to be professional.

Acquired as a moveable asset in the Jeff Green trade, the Celts have been trying to roll Prince over into another draft pick for their satchel. Failing that by the Feb. 19 NBA dealing deadline, the club will resume talks with Prince’s side regarding a buyout….

“Obviously I want to be in a winning situation,” Prince said. “Everybody wants to be in a winning situation, make no mistake about it, especially toward the end of your career.

“But at the end of the day, it’s about doing what’s right and going out there and having fun. If you get to the point where I am in my career after all these years, you just want to go out there and have a chance to win and do the right things.”

I don’t how moveable this asset is because he makes $7.7 million this season, which means team have to send something of actual value back to Boston for him. Why do that if you think after the trade deadline you can pick him up as a bought-out free agent.

Prince is a shadow of what he once was but still would have value on a contender. His length and hoops IQ means he’s still a decent defender. On offense he lives in the midrange — 52 percent of his shots with the Celtics have come from 10 feet out to the arc — but he hits enough of them to keep the defense honest.

For a team needing wing depth that could play him 15-20 minutes a night he could help. And by the end of February expect him to be in a place like that. One way or another.