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

Rajon Rondo, Marco Belinelli

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

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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
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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”

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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 DiabetesDreamTeam.com 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.

Serge Ibaka blocks Carlos Boozer at the rim, does Mutombo finger wag (VIDEO)

Serge Ibaka, Carlos Boozer
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LOS ANGELES — The Thunder’s win over the Lakers Friday night was fun. Not pretty or particularly well played, but the game was entertaining, it was fun. There were great plays and dramatic moments (none more than Kobe Bryant getting a good look but missing the game winner).

Maybe the play of the night came courtesy Serge Ibaka. In the fourth quarter Carlos Boozer had played pretty well for the Lakers (he had eight points in the fourth alone) and he was going into the rim for two more when Ibaka came in and just shut him down. Hard. It’s not like Boozer went up soft, he was looking to dunk, it’s just that Ibaka was better.

Then as Ibaka went to the floor from the force of the rejection, he did the Dikembe Mutombo finger wag.

As the Thunder ended up winning by one, 104-103, this block ended up being very important.

Damian Lillard drops career high 43, leads Blazers to 3OT win over Spurs (VIDEO)

Damian Lillard
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When you talk about the best point guards in the game, be careful not to leave Damian Lillard off the list.

The Blazers’ scoring machine outdid himself Friday night scoring 43 points — 26 of them in the fourth quarter and overtimes — plus six assists to lead Portland to a big triple overtime win over the Spurs, 129-119.

That’s the second straight triple-overtime game for the Spurs (and the second loss in those games). This was the first night of a back-to-back for San Antonio, knowing Gregg Popovich I wouldn’t bet on seeing many of the Spurs stars on Saturday night in Memphis.

But the story Friday night was Lillard, who was 16-of-29 shooting on the night. He did most of his damage with what is traditionally an inefficient shot, from the midrange. Check out his shot chart on the night.

source:

Lillard has games where he bails out Portland (sometimes from a substandard performance from the team, sometimes against a top opponent). This season we haven’t seen a lot of that from him as LaMarcus Aldridge, some good balance, and improved defense meant Lillard didn’t need to step into the spotlight as often. Friday night he had to step into it.

And he did with one of the best games of his career.

I really can’t wait until the Western Conference playoffs.