Author: Kurt Helin

Oklahoma City Thunder v Golden State Warriors

UPDATE: Kevin Durant’s status Sunday vs. Pelicans not yet known, is game time decision

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UPDATE Dec. 21, 12:45 pm: Turns out the early reports were premature. The official status of Kevin Durant is he is a game time decision for Sunday night against the Pelicans. It likely will not be until Scott Brooks speaks to the media pregame that we will know his status.

If the ankle is bothering him at all the Thunder should rest him — this is December, not the playoffs. That said he may be fine. I saw him walking at Staples Center Friday night before he sat out the game vs. the Lakers and he showed little if any limp in his walk then.

Dec. 21, 9:30 am: That play happened just before halftime last Thursday night and the Thunder understandably want to be cautious here — once an ankle ligament is stretched out in a sprain a player is more susceptible to aggravating or worsening the problem until it fully heals. The Thunder want to get this right, not have it become a lingering thing.

So Durant will sit out his second game in a row Sunday night, this one in New Orleans reports the Times Picayune.

The Thunder won Friday night without Durant in a close one with the Lakers. They’re going to need to play better here, the Lakers don’t have anyone who causes near the problems that Anthony Davis does.

Blake Griffin with dagger tip-in to lift Clippers past Bucks (VIDEO)

Blake Griffin, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Chris Paul

The Clippers and Bucks played one that was close pretty much the whole way on Saturday night (neither side led by more nine the whole way) but when it got down to the end the Clippers could lean on Chris Paul and Blake Griffin and Milwaukee had nobody who could match that.

CP3 had nine points in the final six minutes of the game including two free throws with 1:12 left that put the Clips up two.

At that point the Bucks put the ball in Brandon Knight’s hands. For some reason. Knight missed a three pointer, then when Jared Dudley grabbed the offensive board and gave the Bucks a second chance, we got another Knight isolation set that went nowhere followed by a missed long two. Still the Bucks were going to have one more chance if they could get a stop and they forced Paul into a long two that missed, but on the switches Knight ended up having to box out Blake Griffin and, well, that didn’t end well.

Griffin gets the dagger tip in and the Clippers win their seventh in a row at home.

Rajon Rondo was very Rondoesque in debut with Mavericks (VIDEO)

Rajon Rondo, Marco Belinelli

What was the book on Rajon Rondo as we discussed his trade to Dallas? Good defender (not what he once was, but an upgrade for Dallas), great passer who racks up assists, floor general, good rebounder for the position, struggles to shoot.

In his debut for Dallas Saturday night against a depleted Spurs team, Rondo checked off all those boxes.

He finished with six points on 3-of-11 shooting (he was 1-of-8 on uncontested looks), but he racked up nine assists, made some quality defensive plays (he picked up four charging fouls), he pulled down seven rebounds, and looked decent if still understandably feeling his way in leading the Mavericks offense.

Dallas picked up a 99-93 win thanks to 38 points from Monta Ellis, who was in attack mode getting to the rim all night and had the ball in his hands to create at the end of the game.

You can’t judge how Rondo will eventually fit with the team from just one game, there is a long road still to walk here. But you could see the potential.

Robin Lopez denies dating Khloe Kardashian “rumors” in hysterical way

Portland Trail Blazers v Indiana Pacers

After the experiences of Lamar Odom and Kris Humphries, you could totally understand why another NBA player would want to date one of the Kardashians. Those both ended so well for everyone.

Yet on Friday “news” came out Khloe Kardashian — for the uninitiated, she was the one with Lamar Odom who most recently was dating rapper French Montana — is single again and had her eyes on Portland center Robin Lopez. Because what woman doesn’t find that Sideshow Bob hair hot?

Lopez shot that down in a hysterical way on the Blazers’ official site (h/t Eye on Basketball):

“You know, I’m not exactly certain of the veracity of those rumors,” said Lopez. “But what I can comment on, I suppose, is the fabrication of that power couple by the press. Obviously they were looking for two people with a lot of influence on popular culture, on the youth, and they were looking for two movers and shakers. Frankly, I’m not surprised they came up with my name.”

And now that he’s sideline for at least the next six weeks, Lopez, a native of North Hollywood, said he’s willing to try out the glamorous, fast-paced lifestyle that surely goes hand in hand with dating a Kardashian.

“I’ve got a lot more free time for magazine shoots, guest hosting duties on TV shows and stuff,” said Lopez. “They can contact my agent if they want to. I’m also the associate video guy. That’s one of my new duties. Got a wealth of opportunities even though I’ve only got one hand right now.”

Now that’s the right attitude.

This is just not going to work out. Which may be best for Robin. I’m not sure the city of Portland would be the most welcoming place ever for the Kardashians. Slightly different sensibilities up there.

Dominique Wilkins on if he could light up today’s defenses: “Yea, pretty much”

Reebok Pump 20th Anniversary

Michael Jordan has said it before. He’s not alone, a lot of players who come from the 1980s and 1990s look at today’s NBA defenses where there can be no contact, no hand checks allowed on the permitter, and they drool. They think about they contact they had to fight through, the grabbing and pulling, just to get a contested look, then they look at today’s rules and picture the easy points piling up.

Add Dominique Wilkins to that group.

If you played in this era you could just light it up nightly, Nique?

“Yea, pretty much. It’d be easier to score that’s for sure,” Wilkins told ProBasketballTalk. “It was a great time to be part of basketball.”

Of course, Dominique lit up the defenses he went against, too.

A lot of younger fans think of Wilkins as the guy of the powerful dunks, the guy with the legendary 1988 Dunk Contest battle with Jordan, the Human Highlight Film. But Wilkins could score the rock a lot of ways — he’s a career 24.8 points per game scorer who was far from one dimensional.

“It’s what I tell people all the time, dunking is just a tool for intimidation that I used, it wasn’t really who I was,” Wilkins said. “A lot of times people don’t realize it’s very hard to get over 26,000 points on dunks so I found different ways to score — midrange, on the post, getting to the basket, getting to the free throw line, I had an array of things I used to combat my opponent.”

Wilkins is busy now post-career. He is Vice President of Basketball for the Atlanta Hawks and is more visible to fans as the color commenter on Hawks game broadcasts. For a lot of fans he’s still the face of the Hawks.

This time of year especially, he’s a spokesman for diabetes awareness and maintenance. It’s something he was diagnosed with after his playing days and now has become his cause.

“It was a shock (to be diagnosed with diabetes) but it was a shock that I had to quickly get over because I had to get back to doing some things I used to do,” Wilkins said. “And that’s working out more consistently, and I had to take some things away, and I had to get on medication. It’s that simple. You can’t have one of those components without the other, you have to have all three together to keep you healthy.”

To help people find that balance Wilkins is urging people to go to where they can get help managing the disease. Especially during the holidays when eating healthy is often not on the menu.

“I want to tell people to have fun, enjoy the holiday, eat the foods that you enjoy, just don’t eat so much of it,” Wilkins said. “But after the holiday you’re going to have to get back to doing some things you used to do, and that’s eating healthier, exercising, and making sure you take your medications.”

Wilkins is also pleased with what he sees out of the Hawks right now, who are 18-7 and currently the three seed in the East.

“The team is playing very well,” Wilkins said. “A lot of chemistry, a lot of confidence. Guy’s spirits are very high…

“It’s guys who have been together three, four years now and has built that chemistry,” Wilkins said. “Coach (Mike Budenholzer) has come in there and brought in a few things to enhance the product on the floor so it’s been a nice fit.”

One of the keys to the Hawks fast start (besides a soft schedule early) was the growth of Jeff Teague, who has averaged 16.8 points and 7 assists a game, with an All-Star level PER of 21.2

“Jeff Teague is playing All-Star basketball, him and Paul Millsap,” Wilkins said. “Both guys will be All-Stars this year I think and to their credit it’s from their hard work.”

We’ll see, the point guard spot in the East is stacked (even now with Rajon Rondo adding to the log jam in the West). But the Hawks certainly deserve an All-Star representative.

Something Dominique gave them for years.