Kurt Helin

PHOENIX, AZ - DECEMBER 02:  Chris Copeland #22 of the Indiana Pacers shoots a free throw shot against the Indiana Pacers during the NBA game at US Airways Center on December 2, 2014 in Phoenix, Arizona.  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.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Chris Copeland, John Jenkins claimed off waiver wire (Copeland waived again already)

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Waiver wire claims are not common in the NBA, but we had two of them on Wednesday afternoon.

Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports broke the news.

Chris Copeland had been waived by Milwaukee Bucks to make way for the addition of Steve Novak. Jenkins had been with the Dallas Mavericks but was waived to free up a roster for the addition of David Lee. Both of those teams used a trade exception it had from a previous deal to land the new additions. Also, this means is that the salaries of Copeland and Jenkins will count against the cap of their new teams, not their former ones.

Orlando turned around and instantly waived Copeland again. Why? Because they are below the salary floor and this saves them money. From Bobby Marks of the Vertical.

Jenkins had a decent rookie season a maybe the Suns think they can recapture some of that magic.

Old school Lionel Hollins doesn’t like meddling front offices

Lionel Hollins
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It’s old school vs. new school.

Lionel Hollins is about as old school as it gets. He’s from the era when the front office assembles the team, and the coach gets to run the team as he sees fit. Modern NBA teams tend to have more involvement between the front office and the coaching staff, a place such as Golden State where there is a deep brain trust that discusses a lot of issues and adjustment ideas can come from any corner of the organization.

I’m not sure what Hollins had to deal with in Brooklyn could be called collaborative. He was let go by Brooklyn Jan. 10. In an interview on Sirius XM NBA radio recently Hollins talked about meddling management (this was transcribed by the New York Post).

“The main thing when you’re looking for a job is finding somebody that allows you to be you and lets you coach as you coach,” Hollins said on SiriusXM radio. “If you’re successful, great. If you’re not, get rid of him.

“But the micromanaging, the meddling of who should play and how you should talk to this guy and how you should talk to the media, what you should say or shouldn’t say because how it looks for the organization versus just speaking the truth — those things weigh on you when you spend so much time trying to massage everybody instead of just coaching.”

This sounds like it could apply to Hollins’ time in Memphis as well.

It’s also a growing part of a modern NBA. Successful organizations do a good job breaking down the wall between the front office and the coaching staff — Gregg Popovich has specifically talked about this in San Antonio. They hire people who are “over themselves” and want to be part of a team setting, so that guys like Sean Marks can bounce from the front office to being an assistant coach to being in the front office with ease.

Marks is now the GM of the Nets, and whoever he brings in as his next coach will be from that collaborative mindset, not one where there is a wall between management and ownership.

Kobe Bryant says Stephen Curry toughest player to guard in NBA. Who else?

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Kevin Durant is close because he can score from three, from the post, and has a silky-smooth jumper. Russell Westbrook and his relentless play and athleticism can make the list. LeBron James, Damian Lillard, even maybe DeMarcus Cousins can be injected into the conversation.

But when you’re talking about the most difficult player to guard in the NBA right now, that list has to start and end with Stephen Curry. Don’t take my word for it, ask Kobe Bryant (which is what Baxter Holmes of ESPN did).

It’s pretty hard to argue this. Curry’s shooting range (you need to actively cover him at 28 feet), handles, ability to shoot off the bounce or catch-and-shoot, his court vision and his passing make him an insanely difficult cover. Much like Joe Montana in the West Coast offense, Curry is the perfect point guard for this up-tempo, small-ball era.

There was a day when Kobe headed that toughest to guard list. He’s a student of the game. He knows who tops the list now.

Three takeaways from an NBA Tuesday: Damian Lillard has scored 30+ in five straight games

Brooklyn Nets forward Thaddeus Young (30) fouls Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard as he drives to the basket during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2016. The Blazers won 112-104. (AP Photo/Steve Dykes)
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We understand if you missed Tuesday’s NBA action because you were filling out your Oscars ballot and got stuck on the sound mixing category. Here’s what you need to know from a Tuesday around the Association.

1) Damian Lillard scores more than 30 for fifth straight game; Portland wins its sixth straight. From the day the All-Star Game reserves were announced and Damian Lillard wasn’t among them, he has been a man possessed. He has averaged 28.4 points a game with a true shooting percentage of 60 percent. It’s been more intense the last five games when Lillard has broken the 30-point barrier — the first NBA player to have five straight 30+ scoring games this season.

The Blazers needed all of it to come back against the Nets on Tuesday night, blowing a 19-point lead then having Lillard and C.J. McCollum each top off their 34-point nights with key threes down the stretch. The Blazers, a team most pundits (myself included) picked to be the worst team in the West this season is starting to look like a playoff lock.

2) Utah beats Houston in overtime; Jazz pass Rockets for final playoff spot in the West. If the NBA playoffs started today, the Utah Jazz would be the eight seed and the Houston Rockets would be on the outside looking in. Utah acquired Shelvin Mack via trade from Atlanta at the deadline and started him next to Gordon Hayward — the former Butler Bulldogs teammates (under Brad Stevens) rekindled some of their college magic. Hayward led the Jazz with 28 points on just seven shot attempts. Putting Mack in the starting lineup means Trey Burke can go back to a sixth-man role where his aggressive offense is a better fit, he did a good job attacking. Jason Terry tried, he hit a corner three to send the game into overtime, but could not hit the three at the end of OT to force five more minutes. James Harden was attacking for the Rockets and had 42 points, but he and Dwight Howard are still not on the same page.



3) John Wall has a triple-double, Wizards climbing back into the playoff race.
Washington has been a disappointment this season, but they have won three of four, Markieff Morris is fitting in as they hoped, and suddenly the Wizards are hot and just three games back of Chicago out of the Final playoff spot in the East (with stumbling Detroit right ahead of them). Tuesday’s Wizards win was fueled by John Wall (as their offense almost always is) as he put up 16 points, 12 rebounds, and 11 assists in the win.

If the Wizards are serious about a playoff push, they need to find a way to beat Chicago Wednesday. It will be tough — on the road, the second night of a back-to-back — but that’s the position they put themselves in.

Gordon Hayward scores 28 as Jazz defeat Rockets 117-114 in overtime

DALLAS, TX - FEBRUARY 09:  Gordon Hayward #20 of the Utah Jazz celebrates withTrey Lyles #41 of the Utah Jazz and Raul Neto #25 of the Utah Jazz after shooting the game winning basket against Zaza Pachulia #27 of the Dallas Mavericks in overtime at American Airlines Center on February 9, 2016 in Dallas, Texas. The Utah Jazz beat the Dallas Mavericks 121-119. 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.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Gordon Hayward scored 28 points and the Utah Jazz defeated the Houston Rockets 117-114 in overtime Tuesday night in a game with significant playoff implications.

The victory moved the Jazz into the No. 8 spot in the Western Conference playoff race, a half-game ahead of the Rockets.

The first tiebreaker for a two-way tie is head-to-head winning percentage. The Rockets fell to 2-1 against the Jazz this season.

James Harden scored 42 points for Houston, and Jason Terry hit a 3-pointer with 10.8 seconds remaining in regulation to tie it at 106 and force overtime.

It was Harden’s eighth 40-point game, tying him with Stephen Curry.

Rodney Hood made a 3 over Dwight Howard with 51.9 seconds left in OT to give the Jazz a 115-112 lead. Harden followed with a layup, but Derrick Favors‘ putback pushed the margin to 117-114 with 11.8 seconds to go.

Favors finished with 19 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks. Howard had 13 points and 16 rebounds.

The Rockets rallied in the third quarter behind a spectacular effort from Harden, but Trey Burke hit three 3-pointers in the fourth quarter as the Jazz retook the lead.

Utah jumped out to a 34-23 lead at the end of the first quarter thanks to a 15-2 run. The highlight of the half came on Hood’s crossover, step-back 3-pointer over Howard to beat the buzzer.

Turnovers, however, kept the Rockets in it. Utah committed 16 turnovers in the first half that Houston converted into 23 points.

TIP-INS

Rockets: Houston is 24-22 since J.B. Bickerstaff took over as interim coach. … Trevor Ariza scored 18 points but the Rockets were minus-12 when he was on the court. … Patrick Beverley finished with 14 points. … The Rockets have played six overtime games this season.

Jazz: Utah rallied in the fourth quarter with the lineup of Burke, Hood, Favors, Chris Johnson and Trevor Booker. … The Jazz were outscored 32-23 in the third quarter. … Hood had a career-high five steals. … The Jazz have played eight overtime games this season.

THAT WAS QUICK

The Jazz traded for Shelvin Mack on Thursday and he moved into the starting lineup Tuesday after playing just one game. Raul Neto was the first point guard off the bench after starting 53 games. Burke checked in with 11:25 left in the second quarter. Mack scored a season-high 17 points. Coach Quin Snyder indicated before the game that he’d like to stick to one starting lineup down the stretch. “We’re not at a point now where we need to be making changes all the time and trying to find combinations and things like that,” Snyder said. “We’ve done that.”

SWITCH UP

The Rockets inserted Josh Smith into the starting lineup along with Ariza, Beverley, Howard and Harden for the second consecutive game. It’s just the second time Houston has used that starting lineup as Bickerstaff has decided to go big. “It really had nothing to do with matchups,” Bickerstaff said. “It had more to do with skill set. … We figured we needed a guy in that first group who can be a facilitator. One of Josh’s greatest strengths is moving the ball. He complements Dwight and James really, really well.”