Kurt Helin

Chandler Parsons

Chandler Parsons, Dirk Nowitzki in fantastic Zoolander parody (VIDEO)

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Well done Mavericks. Well done indeed.

Chandler Parsons understands that moisture is the essence of wetness, and wetness is the essence of beauty. That comes through in this Zoolander parody by the Mavs’ marketing team, where Dirk Nowitzki plays Hansel.

If you don’t like this, well, I’m sorry that good-looking people like us made you throw up and feel bad about yourself.

Five Takeaways from NBA Wednesday: Without Curry Warriors struggle, lose to Mavs

Golden State Warriors' Stephen Curry watches from the bench during the first half the team's NBA basketball game against the Dallas Mavericks, Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2015, in Dallas. Curry missed the game due to an injury. (AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
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It was a big day around the NBA — we could have expanded this to seven (or more) takeaways easy. We didn’t. So you can read about Al Jefferson being out for six weeks or Derrick Rose sitting the game Wednesday out in other posts. Here are the five things you need to know from an NBA Wednesday.

1) Stephen Curry sits, and the Warriors’ offense falls apart. The Mavericks blew them out. The good news for Warriors fans is that the MRI came back negative — there is nothing structurally wrong with Curry’s left leg. Still, the Warriors are going to keep their eyes on the big prize and be cautious about bringing him back.

Even if it costs them games, as it did Thursday night. The Warriors without Curry (and Festus Ezeli and Leandro Barbosa and Harrison Barnes) lacked any flow on the offensive end. Klay Thompson couldn’t get open (eight of his 15 shots were contested), the ball didn’t move as well, the spacing was off, Shaun Livingston started for Curry but couldn’t exploit his size differential over J.J. Barea, and, in the end, the Warriors struggled defensively to stop a good Dallas team. This game wasn’t close, Dallas led by as many as 30 and won 114-91. It happens. Dallas earned an easy win, but nobody is reading anything into this game.

2) Kobe says goodbye to Boston Garden by sticking dagger in Celtics one last time. Ask Kobe what title means the most to him of his five, and he will talk about 2010 — because the Lakers beat the Boston Celtics. There was respect and it flowed both ways — something the classy Celtics showed before the game giving Kobe a piece of the parquet.

The crowd cheered him before the game and mock booed him during it. That was fun. And as it has been all season for him, what the fans wanted and what he can deliver is just a few turn-back-the-clock moments a night. So after Jordan Clarkson softened them up with 24 points, Kobe scored nine in the second half of the fourth quarter, including the dagger that sealed the Lakers’ win.

3) Cleanthony Early could play again this season, which is amazing news. The scariest news of the day in the NBA came in the early morning — Knicks’ second-year player Early was robbed at gun point after leaving a strip club in Queens, then was shot in the leg. The good news was that the bullet did not cause any serious structural damage, and Early could return to the Knicks again this season following surgery. This could have ended so much worse. It’s going to be interesting to follow this investigation — this was a robbery clearly done by pros, and it appears Early was targeted.

4) Jimmy Butler has game-winning tip-in for Bulls. No Derrick Rose for Chicago (tight hamstring), and when they got in a close, back-and-forth battle with Paul George and the Pacers the question was who would be the closer for the Bulls. Turns out they can run plays rather than just isolation sets in the final minute, and at the end of regulation and overtime it was Butler stepping up and finishing, such as hitting a crucial three in the final minute of regulation to help force OT. None of his buckets, however, was bigger than the alley-oop finish off a Pau Gasol pass to win the game.

This is the kind of win quality teams get — beating a good team without a key starter. The Bulls have strung together some quality play since Christmas and maybe, just maybe, they are starting to show the potential we saw on paper.

5) Sixers outhustle, outplay, beat Kings for another win. Philadelphia is 2-1 since Ish Smith was brought in to run the point, or since Mike D’Antoni joined the bench if you prefer. They are playing hard as they have all season; now they just have a guy at the point who understands how to run the show. That was enough to get them a 110-105 win over Sacramento Wednesday.

The Kings, on the other hand, do not bring it every night — much to the frustration of coach George Karl. One game after ending a press conference saying “I’m done, I’m frustrated“, Karl called out his team’s defense and effort after this loss. He should also call out the turnovers (22 in this game), as CSN Kings’ insider James Ham said in the PBT Podcast, this team just doesn’t value possessions. The Kings have lost three straight, and it feels like they could be falling into a downward spiral.

Aldridge’s double-double helps Spurs rout Suns 112-79

San Antonio Spurs forward LaMarcus Aldridge celebrates a basket during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Phoenix Suns, Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2015, in San Antonio. (AP Photo/Darren Abate)
Associated Press
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SAN ANTONIO (AP) — LaMarcus Aldridge had 21 points and 12 rebounds and the Spurs routed the Phoenix Suns 112-79 on Wednesday night for their 19th straight home win to start the season.

San Antonio successfully rang out an eventful 2015 that saw them add Aldridge in free agency after being bounced from the opening round of the playoffs and open the season with a franchise record home winning streak.

The Spurs also extended their franchise-record home winning streak to 28 straight games dating to last season by holding the Suns to several season lows.

Phoenix, which has lost six straight, had season lows for total points, first-half points (33) and points in the opening quarter (12).

Kawhi Leonard had 19 points, Manu Ginobili added 13 and Tony Parker had 12 points and seven assists for San Antonio (28-6).

Tim Duncan missed his third straight game due to right knee soreness, but he wasn’t needed in a game where Aldridge, Leonard and Parker all sat out the fourth quarter.

San Antonio led by as many as 38 points and never trailed after Phoenix scored the opening basket. The Spurs shut down the Suns’ defensively while exploiting them offensively in their second game since losing Eric Bledsoe to a season-ending knee injury.

Leonard did not have a field attempt in the first 8 minutes of the game as the Spurs instead took advantage of mismatches for Aldridge and David West. In those opening 8 minutes Aldridge had eight points and West had two points and three rebounds. It resulted in two early fouls each Alex Len and Jon Leuer each had two early fouls, forcing Suns coach Jeff Hornacek to go to his bench in the first four minutes.

At other times San Antonio had Phoenix fruitlessly chasing the ball.

Aldridge handed the ball off to West, who tossed the ball cross court to Danny Green. Green drove to the paint from the 3-point line and tossed the ball back to West, who flipped the ball back to Leonard for a corner 3-pointer for a 48-20 lead.

On another possession Boris Diaw lobbed an entry pass to Leonard, who tossed a bounce pass to Aldridge who scored an open layup after throwing Mirza Teletovic off balance by faking an outlet pass.

San Antonio finished with 26 assists and did not commit its first turnover until 2 minutes into the second quarter and finished with 13.

TIP-INS

Suns: Phoenix’s previous low for points in a quarter was 14 on Nov. 6 against Detroit.

Spurs: The Spurs’ 19 straight home wins is the third best start in Western Conference history, trailing the 20 wins by the 1986 Houston Rockets and 26 consecutive by the 1978 Portland Trail Blazers. … The Suns’ 12-point first quarter matched the season low for a Spurs’ opponent set by Philadelphia on Nov. 14.

 

DeRozan scores 34 as Raptors edge Wizards 94-91

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TORONTO (AP) — DeMar DeRozan had 34 points, six rebounds and five assists, and the Toronto Raptors beat the Washington Wizards 94-91 on Wednesday night.

DeRozan went 15 for 15 at the free-throw line as Toronto won its fifth straight regular-season game against the Wizards, who swept the Raptors in the first round of the playoffs last season.

Terrence Ross added 14 points for the Raptors (20-13), who have won three of four. Bismack Biyombo, who started the previous 18 games at center in place of injured Jonas Valanciunas, had 12 points, 12 rebounds and two blocks.

Otto Porter led the Wizards (14-16) with 20 points and nine rebounds. John Wall had 19 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds.

The Raptors appeared to be in charge after Wall was assessed a technical foul for complaining about a call against him on Kyle Lowry. Toronto hit that free throw and Lowry’s foul shots to lead 90-81 with 3:13 to go in the fourth quarter.

But the Wizards scored the next seven points. After DeRozan hit two more free throws, Jared Dudley made a 3 with 39 seconds left to cut Toronto’s lead to 92-91.

Dudley had a chance to put Washington in front with less than 20 seconds to go, but his 3-point attempt was long. Lowry then hit a pair of free throws, and Washington missed three 3s in the final seconds that would have tied it.

Valanciunas had eight points and nine rebounds in his first start since Nov. 20.

Toronto carried a 77-65 lead into the fourth quarter. The Wizards pulled within three with 2:59 to go in the third on Dudley’s three-point play, but the Raptors closed out the quarter on a 12-3 run, including a pair of 3s for Ross.

Toronto led 52-41 at halftime. DeRozan had 17 points at the break, including a perfect 8 for 8 from the free-throw line.

TIP-INS

Wizards: G Bradley Beal, averaging a team-best 19.8 points, missed his 10th straight game with a leg injury. The Wizards are 5-5 over that stretch. … Washington was 6 for 26 from the field in the second quarter.

Raptors: After hitting their first two 3s of the night, the Raptors missed nine straight from beyond the arc.

 

Carmelo Anthony on gun violence: “We have to do something”

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Carmelo Anthony was part of the NBA’s anti-gun violence campaign video released last week.

This week, he and the Knicks are dealing with a teammate, Cleanthony Early, who was robbed then shot in the knee late last night in Queens after leaving a club with his girlfriend. Early is out of the hospital, but the impact this could have on his career is crushing.

It led Anthony to speak out about gun violence again after practice Wednesday, and to speak for a lot of NBA players who feel like targets when they go out. From Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News and Andrew Keh of the New York Times:

The need to do something to stem gun violence is a national issue, one that is part of the presidential race.

The money NBA players have — and how much they may have on them in cash and jewelry at any given moment — can make them targets, and it’s part of the reason teams have stepped up security around players during the past decade. Sometime’s it’s to protect the players’ from themselves, but there are times players are targeted (as appears to be the case with Early).

A curfew for players is not the answer — these are grown men in the city where they live — but you can be sure some players are doing some soul-searching in the wake of what happened in New York.