Kurt Helin

Spurs’ Boban Marjanovic with no-look pass, dunk on Nets

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Whenever the Spurs’ Boban Marjanovic enters the game, NBA Twitter goes on high alert. Hashtags are at the ready. As is the “Did Boban play?” account. In the arenas (even on the road) people are calling for him to play. The 7’3″ Serbian center has become that guy everyone roots for — which considering he’s a Spur is a huge accomplishment. He appreciates the love, as he told ESPN.

“I enjoy it every time,” he said. “They give me support and some energy. It’s good. I don’t drink Red Bull, but they give me wings.”

And he’s got some skill. He dropped 17 points in a game earlier this season, but you can see what he does well in this clip from San Antonio’s win over Brooklyn Monday. Boban has the skill to make the no-look pass, then when it comes to getting the rebound nobody on Brooklyn can move Boban off his spot.

Boban may be another of those brilliant Spurs finds in a couple of years. For right now, he’s just a lot of fun to watch — and to see how Twitter reacts when he does play. We want more Boban.

Hat tip NBA reddit.

Rajon Rondo had Kevin Garnett, now wants to pay it forward to DeMarcus Cousins

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The main reason Rajon Rondo came to the Sacramento Kings is they agreed to pay him $9.5 million.

However, it wasn’t completely about the money. Rondo is a Kentucky guy, as is Kings big man and franchise cornerstone DeMarcus Cousins — and Rondo sees a lot of himself in Cousins. The challenging temperament that can have coaches, teammates and fans oscillating between love and extreme frustration.

Rondo was guided through that by teammates such as Kevin Garnett and coach Doc Rivers, now Rondo wants to pay that forward to Cousins, the guard told David Aldridge of NBA.com.

“That was part of the reason I wanted to come here,” Rondo said. “If I didn’t have a guy like KG in my ear all the time, a coach like Doc, who knows where I’d be in this league — if I’d even be in this league. I’ve been wanting to play with Cuz for four or five years now. I think he’s the best big — he is the best big in the game. And with a little bit of direction, even as far as his knowledge of the game, he can take even a bigger step in this game. I’m enjoying it. He’s listening, he’s embraced it.”

“I know his intentions,” Cousins said. “His intentions at the end of the day are the same as mine. I can never have a disagreement with a guy like that. Every night we try to go out and do whatever it takes to win the game. You have a guy like that on the floor with you, it’s hard to have disagreements … I know his heart is to win the game. That’s why he’s the most unselfish player I’ve ever played with.”

Rondo seems to be getting through. In his last five games, Cousins is averaging 32.4 points a game on 51.4 percent shooting, grabbing 10.8 rebounds a game, even blocking a shot and hitting 32 percent from three. He’s on a tear, and he’s lifted Sacramento to a top 5 NBA offense in through those five games.
The Kings are 3-2 in that stretch, thanks to a bottom five defense, which keeps the Kings as the nine seed, two games back of Utah in the final playoff spot in the West. Sacramento is close, it just needs more of this Cousins then a little more help around him — including from Rondo, particularly on pick-and-roll defense. The Kings just need more stops in the short term.
In the long term, if Rondo is having this kind of impact on Cousins, the Kings likely will want to keep him around. Considering other teams will hesitate to chase Rondo in the wake of the Bill Kennedy incident, Sacramento should be able to retain Rondo (who is an unrestricted free agent come July). It will just come down to finding a number. The fact Cousins wants Rondo back should give the guard a little leverage in those talks.
But if Rondo really can pay it forward and has the ear of Cousins, if he can keep the big man playing like he has of late, the money may be worth every penny.

Watch Stephen Curry drop 31 on Miami Heat

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It wasn’t Stephen Curry‘s best night — he was 11-of-27 shooting and a -3 on the night. That’s the first time all season he’s ended a game with a negative +/-.

Even on an off night, Curry is just fun to watch. He dropped 31 on the Heat and looked like vintage Curry while it happened. Enjoy.

Three Takeaways from NBA Monday: Spurs, Warriors keep rolling along

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We know you were watching the College Football Playoff (was there anyone rooting for Alabama outside that state?). We get it. It was just a three-game NBA schedule, here’s what you need to know.

1) Another day, another win for the Spurs and Warriors. Right now there are two clear best teams in the NBA: Golden State and San Antonio. (Cleveland may get there; Oklahoma City and the L.A. Clippers are close but just short.) Monday night the NBA’s best just kept right on rolling.

It almost seemed unfair that the day after Brooklyn owner Mikhail Prokhorov blew his organization up they would have to face the league’s steadiest, best-run franchise. The Spurs win seemed preordained. The Nets had that “we better play hard for the new coach” energy to start the game, but it faded. The Spurs began to pull away in the second, their ball movement shredded the Brooklyn defense, and by the fourth it was garbage time (which the Spurs dominated also). LaMarcus Aldridge had 25 points and 11 boards, Kawhi Leonard added 17. The Spurs are just a machine with great execution, and undisciplined teams such as the Nets usually just get steamrolled.

Golden State was at home, where they were already 17-0 on the season, which was bad news for Miami. The Heat hung around for a half, but at the break Luke Walton reached into Steve Kerr bag of playoff adjustments — he assigned big man Andrew Bogut to guard Heat rookie wing Justise Winslow. (Remember, this is what the Warriors did to Tony Allen of Memphis last playoffs and it changed the series.)  Winslow is reluctant to shoot from the midrange (24 shots in 35 games) and is shooting just 22.7 percent from three — the Warriors dared the kid to make them pay for keeping Bogut in to protect the paint. It worked. The Warriors started to pull away in the third, and their bench took over from there (although Miami was good enough to not let it become a total blowout). Stephen Curry was a -3 on the night (all the Warriors starters were in the negative), but he did still drop 31 points.

2) Joakim Noah returned to Chicago’s lineup, but the Bulls’ defense is still slumping. In their last five games, the Chicago Bulls are allowing 106.6 points per 100 possessions, making them a bottom 10 defensive team. Defensive stalwart Noah returned to the lineup on Monday and, well, that wasn’t the problem. The Wizards controlled the pace and scored at a 112.4 points per 100 pace on their way to a comfortable 114-100 win over the Bulls. Washington wants back in the playoffs (they are two games out of the eight seed) and played with that kind of desperation — plus injuries (no Marcin Gortat) forced them into more small ball, and Chicago had no answer. Fred Hoiberg tried to go bigger at times, but the Wizards targeted Doug McDermott when that happened and he could not defend the small lineups of Washington. John Wall had 17 to lead seven Wizards in double digits — and he even welcomed Noah back by blocking him at the rim.

3) Sage advice fom Dwyane Wade to the Warriors: “Enjoy it.” Both players and fans of good teams need to stop sometime and savor the moment when things are going right. It’s not just about getting rings, it’s about the journey and the little moments. Miami’s Dwyane Wade tried to pass that idea along, via Marc Spears of Yahoo Sports.

“I was talking to Andre Iguodala after the game and I told him, ‘Listen, enjoy it. Don’t take it for granted. Myself, Chris Bosh, UD (Udonis Haslem), and Chris (Andersen) have been there before and won. When it’s gone, it’s different. You got to enjoy it.’”

Spurs win 8th straight in Nets’ first game since shake-up

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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NEW YORK (AP) — LaMarcus Aldridge had 25 points and 11 rebounds as the San Antonio Spurs extended their winning streak to eight with a 106-79 victory Monday night over Brooklyn in the Nets’ first game since an organizational shake-up.

A day after coach Lionel Hollins was fired and general manager Billy King reassigned, the Nets dropped their 10th straight at home and fifth in a row overall.

Kawhi Leonard added 17 points for the Spurs, who go to Detroit on Tuesday before putting their 31-game home winning streak on the line Thursday in a showdown with Cleveland.

The Spurs (33-6) were up seven at halftime before dominating the second half, just as they did in their 102-75 victory over the Nets on Oct. 30. Those are two of their 14 wins by 20 or more points this season.

Brook Lopez scored 18 points and Joe Johnson had 16 in the Nets’ first game under interim coach Tony Brown. Brown moved guards Wayne Ellington and Donald Sloan into the starting lineup, but they combined for just 10 points on 4-of-12 shooting.

The Nets fell to 10-28, hours after owner Mikhail Prokhorov said the team needed a “reset” and that deciding to start it in the middle of the season was an easy decision. But no change could change things against the Spurs, the latest visiting team to win the crowd and the game in Brooklyn.

Fans cheered loudest for 7-foot-3 Serbian Boban Marjanovic, who finished 13 points and was on the floor in the final seconds when a “Go Spurs Go!” chant broke out.

TIP-INS

Spurs: Aldridge made his first five shots and finished 12 for 17 from the field. … The Spurs outscored the Nets 60-28 in the second half of the first meeting and 61-41 in this one.

Nets: Sloan made his first start since Jan. 4, 2015, for Indiana against the Lakers. … Brown had won all three games when he previously stepped in to coach, filling in for Doc Rivers once in Boston, Larry Krystkowiak in Milwaukee and Mike Dunleavy with the Clippers.