Author: Kurt Helin

Klay Thompson

PBT’s Wednesday Night NBA Winners/Losers: Klay Thompson is not to be trifled with

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Every night the NBA can be a cold hard reality — there are winners, there are losers. It’s the nature of the game. We know you are busy and can’t keep up with every game, so we’re here to bring you the best and worst of the NBA each week night. Here’s what you missed while wondering if Lionel Messi would really leave Barcelona

source:  Klay Thompson. Making the All-Star cut at the guard spot in the West is going to be pretty much like getting into Harvard — some incredible people will be left out. (That includes actual Harvard grad Jeremy Lin.) Klay Thompson is likely going to be one of those on the outside looking in, but he made a nice case for inclusion Wednesday — 40 points on 25 shots as the Warriors talent just overwhelmed the Pacers in the second half. Thompson was a big part of that with 15 points in the third quarter when the Warriors started to take control and 12 more as they sealed it in the fourth. He was 6-of-11 from three. He is playing like an All-Star, the only problem is in the Western Conference that’s not enough.

source:  Kemba Walker. The Hornets’ best shot creator has scored 30 or more points in three straight games now, and Charlotte is on a three game winning streak. But most importantly, he did this.

source:  Darren Collison and Sacramento Kings. The Darren Collison pickup has been a lot better for Sacramento than I thought it would be and the point guard was key in the Kings putting together their best performance in a while and routing the Oklahoma City Thunder. He had 24 points and he also drew the defensive assignment on Russell Westbrook and helped lead him to an off night (although Westbrook contributed plenty on his end to that cause). Rudy Gay had 28 points, DeMarcus Cousins 23, but the real key was that the Kings played the best defense they have in a long time. Sacramento contested 48 percent of OKC’s shot attempts and the Thunder hit just 27.9 percent of those (via NBA.com). Of course, the Thunder hit just 37 percent of their uncontested looks, it was that kind of night for them, but the Kings should be happy after this one.

source:  Chicago Bulls/Oklahoma City Thunder. What. Was. That. Two of the league’s power teams just got destroyed on Wednesday night. Both looked flat and disinterested. That’s not the fault of Dion Waiters (who was 1-of-9 shooting). That’s not the fault of Derrick Rose. Or the polar vortex. Or Barack Obama. Or North Korean hackers. All credit to the Kings and Jazz who both played well, but this was just one of those nights for two good teams. The thing is, the Bulls can afford to have these off nights, they are in a solid spot in the East. However, the Thunder now have had a couple bad games in a row on the road in Cali and they can’t really afford it — they are four games back of the eight-seed Suns, with the Pelicans in between them. We keep waiting for the Thunder to go on a run and just blow by everyone into a playoff seed, but the fact is those teams above them are pretty good with playoff dreams of their own and are not just going to roll over. OKC needs some wins.

source:  Atlanta Hawks. Another day, another Hawks win against a powerhouse team. Today it was Memphis’ turn to learn the Hawks are for real. Memphis got the kind of ugly, scrappy game they thrive in and the Hawks beat them at their own game with a 96-86 win. This was an 84-84 game with three minutes left and the Hawks simply executed better down the stretch — Al Horford hit shots, Jeff Teague hit a key three and the Hawks pulled away. Let’s all say it together again — the Hawks are for real.

Report: Grizzlies pursue Luol Deng, Jeff Green in possible trades

LUOL DENG
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The Western Conference arms race continues.

Houston added Corey Brewer and Josh Smith. Dallas added Rajon Rondo. Oklahoma City took a flier on Dion Waiters.

The Memphis Grizzlies have been near the top of the West all season and at 25-10 are currently the three seed in the conference. They were already seen as a serious playoff threat. But now they are looking to add some depth on the wing for that playoff push — maybe adding either Miami’s Luol Deng or Boston’s Jeff Green. That according to Marc Stein or ESPN.

It is not immediately known how willing Miami would be to trade Deng, who is not yet even halfway through his first season of the two-year, $19.9 million contract he received from the Heat in the wake of LeBron James’ return to Cleveland via free agency….

Green, meanwhile, is widely believed to be available leading into the deadline in the wake of Boston’s deal to send Rondo to Dallas last month. Although Green told local reporters last week on the eve of Rondo’s first game at TD Garden as a visiting player that he doesn’t “want to know how that feels because I don’t want to be traded.”

Any Grizzlies offer for Deng or Green is likely to feature the $7.7 million expiring contract of Tayshaun Prince as well as the promise of future draft compensation.

Deng would be a great fit in Memphis — he is a good complimentary offensive player averaging 14.3 points a game on an above average 58.7 true shooting percentage, and hitting 36.3 percent from three. Plus he’s a quality defender. He fits right in with what they want to do in Memphis. However, I can’t imagine Miami trading Deng for Prince and the Pu Pu platter of picks, the Grizzlies will need to make this worth Miami’s while.

Green would bring increased athleticism to the Grizzlies wing, he’s far more dynamic than Prince. Green is scoring 17.9 points a game in Boston with a slightly above average 54.2 true shooting percentage. He’s a better spot up shooter than he gets credit for but his hitting just 31.1 percent from three this season. Green also has been inconsistent his entire career.

The real takeaway here is that the Grizzlies rightfully think they have a chance at advancing out of the West this season and they are looking to shore up a weak spot by being aggressive on the trade market. Which, if they land someone the quality of the two guys mentioned, should worry the rest of the West.

Also, a move like this (or even the rumors of a move like this) show free agent to be Marc Gasol that they are serious and will spend to win.

Either of those two guys would be big upgrades to an already formidable Memphis team.

Pacers’ center Roy Hibbert sprains ankle, does not return to game

Indiana Pacers v Golden State Warriors
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Because the Pacers haven’t had enough injury issues…

Pacers’ center Roy Hibbert left the team’s game at the Golden State Warriors Wednesday when he sprained his ankle in the first quarter. He had to be helped to the locker room. He did come out to sit on the bench for the second half however the Warriors announced he would not return to the game.

We do not yet know how severe this sprain is.

Hibbert sprained that same ankle earlier this season and missed four games because of it.

He is averaging 11.6 points and 6.9 rebounds a game however he has not anchored the Pacers defense in the same way (they are actually 1.5 points per 100 possessions better defensively when he sits this season. The Pacers are 14-22 on the season and the ninth seed in the East.

Clippers owner Steve Ballmer dancing to Fergie is everything you could hope (VIDEO)

Golden State Warriors v Los Angeles Clippers
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Fergie performed a song at the Lakers/Clippers game tonight.

That is Clippers owner and former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer dancing to Fergie.

I have no words.

However, he will go to bed tonight roughly $2 billion richer than you or I, so I’m not going to mock him any more. When you’re that rich, you can dance however you wish.

Hat tip to fellow NDHS grad Arash Markazi for posting that.

Report: Clippers trade Jared Cunningham to Sixers

Minnesota Timberwolves v Los Angeles Clippers
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The Clippers really did like Jared Cunningham, the athleticism he brought as a combo guard. They brought him in as a third point guard and he hasn’t seen many minutes — 89 total this season — behind Chris Paul and Jordan Farmar, but he was a good insurance policy.

However, what the Clippers needed more was money and a roster space as they try to get better at the trade deadline.

Rather than cut him outright, the Clippers traded him, reports Adrian Wojnaroski of Yahoo Sports.

The question yet to be answered is what comes back to the Clippers in this deal (likely a protected second round pick at best).

Cunningham is a fringe NBA player right out of the “everything that the AAU does wrong” mold — he’s an incredibly athletic and very raw basketball player. He doesn’t really have the handles to be a playmaking point guard and he lacks the shooting skills to be a threat as a two guard. The Cavaliers took him with the No. 24 pick a few drafts ago but gave up on his development.

We’ll see if another team will take him on as a gamble or if he is headed to the D-League.