<span class="vcard">Kurt Helin</span>

Anthony Davis, Quincy Pondexter

Three Things We Learned from NBA Monday: Is it time to mention Anthony Davis with LeBron and Durant?


If you watch closely every night in the NBA you can learn a little something. We know you are busy and can’t keep up with every game, so we’re here to help with those lessons from another night in the Association. Here’s what you missed while realizing you’re not nearly as lucky as this guy (and not as rich)….

Anthony Davis needs to be mentioned in the same breath with Durant and LeBron. There should be no more debate about who is the best third player on the planet anymore — it is Anthony Davis. And he’s closing in fast on the top two. A few months ago I would have argued for Chris Paul at No. 3, you could have made the case for a handful of other guys and been on solid footing. No more. It is Davis. Monday night he put up a line of 32 points, 10 rebounds, and four blocks in 31 minutes — and the thing is that’s not even a ridiculous line anymore. He can do that any night. At age 21. In his third NBA season. What he lacks is success in the postseason, but that will come. Oh, and by the way he lifted the Pelicans to a win Monday and they are now just 1.5 games out of the final playoff spot in the West.

Jamal Crawford got hot and carried the Clippers to a win. That was “I should be Sixth Man of the Year again” Crawford. Denver played an active, fiesty game — well, actually pretty much only in the first and third quarters, which they dominated — but in the fourth quarter it became the Jamal Crawford show. He scored 21 points in the fourth, which tied how many the Nuggets had total. He was 3-of-5 from three but he also was attacking the paint and drawing fouls (he got to the line nine times in the final frame). He was a force. Plus he made the play of the game — it was tied 94-94 with about 90 seconds left in the game, Chris Paul made a steal but his attempt at a touchdown pass ahead to Crawford on the run out was too long. Crawford caught up, saved it behind his back to Matt Barnes, who hit the layup to give the Clippers a lead they would never surrender.

Marc Gasol could have played in La Liga. Well, maybe not. Although can you imagine trying to defend him on a set piece? Nonetheless, this was pretty cool (yes, it happened after the whistle blew, so what?).

Dion Waiters blows uncontested, breakaway layup (VIDEO)

Dion Waiters, Zach LaVine

Dion Waiters can expect this one to come up in Shaqtin’ a Fool, followed by plenty of mocking from his Thunder teammates.

It will all be in good fun, because the Thunder led from the middle of the first quarter on and picked up a nice win over the Timberwolves (and the Thunder need some wins). These things happen.

While Waiters had some nice moments and has seemed an upgrade over Reggie Jackson as a sixth man, his performance of 10 points on 4-of-12 shooting Monday is becoming a trend — in his last five games Waiters is shooting 30.4 percent overall and 16.7 percent from three, and is a -4.6 per 40 minutes.

Waiters is still the first guy off the bench for the Thunder and he had a good second quarter to help stretch the OKC lead (he had 7 points on 3-of-6 shooting) but this is something to watch. All his on-the-court issues did not stay in Cleveland.



PBT Extra: Who should be the All-Star Game reserves?

James Harden, Jeremy Lin

The fans have picked their starters for the All-Star Game, coming Feb. 15 to Madison Square Garden. Now this week the coaches around the league are voting for the reserves, the guys who round out the 12-man rosters.

It’s very hard to whittle that down to just seven in either conference. In the East, I would put Nikola Vucevic and his 19.6 points and 11.2 rebounds a game on the team over Paul Millsap of the Hawks — but that would leave only two Hawks on the roster. I doubt the coaches vote that way.

Out West there is no way to construct a team that does not leave five deserving guys off the roster. At least. But assuming both Klay Thompson and James Harden make the team (and remember, someone makes the team to replace Kobe Bryant) the question becomes who will Warriors coach Steve Kerr choose to start: His guy Thompson from his team, or the more deserving James Harden. If I were a betting man, I’d bet on Klay.

Report: Kobe Bryant “definitively coming back to play next season”

Phoenix Suns v Los Angeles Lakers

Did you really think Kobe Bryant was going to leave the game on anything but his own terms?

There has been some suggestions from the punditry that with this latest injury — a torn rotator cuff that requires surgery and will end his season — that Kobe would walk away. That he would decide going through all the work of rehabilitation to fight back to play for what again will be a struggling Lakers squad would not be worth it. That he would let injuries dictate how his season would end.

Does that really sound like Kobe to you?

The guy who, once you put an obstacle in his path — say a torn Achilles tendon or a major knee surgery — feels he must overcome it? That’s not to mention the $25 million salary he has sitting on the table for next season. (I don’t care how much money someone has, you think they’d walk away from that much cash?)

Kobe is coming back, sources told Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times.

This echoes what Hall of Fame big man and current Rockets’ coach Kevin McHale said about Bryant Sunday night before his Houston team knocked off Los Angeles. McHale played through a lot of pain his last couple years with the Celtics.

“I wanted to go out playing, and we made it to a playoff series and we lost but I went out playing as hard as I possibly could, I found a little magic in a bottle for a couple weeks and played pretty good, then that was the end of it,” McHale said before his Rockets beat the Lakers Sunday night at Staples. “It’s hard. You’re used to being able to do things, you’re used to your body responding, and if you’re a good player you’re used to your body bouncing back and doing a lot of stuff. You never really thought it could not hold up, but at some point it goes down.”

Next season Kobe will limit his minutes even more, he may take some games off for rest.

But he’s going to go out on his own terms. You can’t picture it any other way.

Kemba Walker to have knee surgery; Hornets looking at trades for depth while he is out

Kemba Walker

The Charlotte Hornets are not going to be able to replace Kemba Walker. He has averaged 18.8 points and 5.2 assists a game for them this season, and when he is on the court their offense jumps 3.3 points per 100 possessions. Coach Steve Clifford recently called Walker the Bobcats best player.

But Charlotte is going to have to try to replace him.

As we said could be coming, Walker is going to need knee surgery, something first reported by Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer.

The team has since confirmed the news.

This is a setback for Walker, who at age 24 was having the best, most efficient season of his career.

The good news for the Hornets — currently sitting as the eight seed in the East after winning 10 of 12 games — is they could have Walker back for the playoffs, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

That would have him back likely in the middle of March, a month before the playoffs start.

The problem is, even at the bottom of the lowly East playoff race, the Hornets can’t afford a big step back while Walker is out and still make the playoffs. Right now Brian Roberts is the next point guard on the depth chart, although what this really means is the ball in Lance Stephenson’s hands more. So the Hornets are looking at trades to bridge the gap until Walker is back.

The Nets and Hornets are also talking about a potential deal involving Stephenson for Joe Johnson and other players, which could provide some scoring and ball handling depth while Walker is out. However, the Hornets could pull back in their talks due to this injury.