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

LeBron James, Patrick Patterson

PBT’s Tuesday Night NBA Winners/Losers: Kobe, LeBron go off on night of the living legends

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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 reading Grantland’s Boogie Nights oral history

source:  LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. For the second time in a week, the Cavaliers knocked off the East leading Toronto Raptors (who miss DeMar DeRozan, especially at the end of games). What made this impressive was it was a fourth-quarter comeback on the second night of a back-to-back against a Raptors team that had won 39 straight when leading after three. But two things happened. One, Cleveland played more focused defense and held the Raptors to 13 points in the final frame (the Raptors helped out in that quarter). Second, this was one of those games LeBron James wins one for his team — he had 35 points overall, a team best 10 in the fourth quarter and he hit a key three late. He looked every bit the best player on the planet and as good as Kyle Lowry was (he saves his best games for facing Kyrie Irving) it was not going to be enough.

source:  Kobe Bryant. He scored 32 on the Kings, nine of those in the fourth quarter plus he had three key assists in the final frame as the Lakers used a late 9-3 run to come from behind and beat the Cousins-less Kings. Take that Magic Johnson. If the Lakers win it’s because Kobe is putting up numbers and his 32 Tuesday leave him just 31 back of Michael Jordan on the all time scoring list (he could pass MJ on Friday against the Spurs, but my guess is it’s not going to happen with Kawhi Leonard draped all over him).

source:  Memphis Grizzlies offense. While nobody was looking the Grizzlies have developed into a top five offense — they are scoring 107.4 points per 100 possessions this season, tied with the Golden State Warriors. Did not see that coming and the question is can they sustain it against good teams — they did Tuesday scoring 114 points (a 125.6 offensive rating per 100 possessions) on Dallas Tuesday. They did it by just overpowering Dallas inside — Marc Gasol had 30 points, while as a team the Grizzlies got 42 of their 85 shots (49.4 percent) within eight feet of the rim. That pounding inside also led to the Grizzlies getting to the free throw line 29 times (hitting 25). Combine that with hitting 7-of-14 from three (Mike Conley and Tayshaun Prince combined to be 4-of-7 from three) and you have a team that is hard to stop. And when things go right, Tony Allen will dance.

source:  Dallas Mavericks’ defense. They are 0-5 against the other members of the top eight in the West so far and the reason is their defense can be overpowered inside. Even with Tyson Chandler. On the season the Mavericks are giving up 105.2 points per 100 possessions, which is 22nd in the league. That’s got to improve if they plan to make any real noise in the brutal Western Conference.

source:  LaMarcus Aldridge. Fittingly doing it with a step-back three, Tuesday night Aldridge passed Terry Porter to move into second place on the all time Trail Blazers points list with 11,333. Aldridge had 23 points and 11 rebounds on the night as the Trail Blazers didn’t blow away but did handle the Pistons and win 98-86 on the road. Oh, you want to know who leads the Trail Blazers’ scoring list? Clyde “the glide” Drexler with 18.040.

source:  Chris Bosh. Miami snapped a four-game losing streak against a potential Western Conference playoff team (Phoenix is currently the eight seed). That’s a good night. And it was all Bosh who had 34 points on the night. Bosh was 7-of-8 shooting inside eight feet of the rim but he did more damage on the perimeter (he was 4-of-6 from three). While there are a lot of questions about Miami — you had to know the post-LeBron transition was going to be difficult — Bosh isn’t one of them. He’s been fantastic this season.

Sixers’ K.J. McDaniels blocked a ball into crowd so hard he gave fan a concussion

Brooklyn Nets v Philadelphia 76ers
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There are few reasons to subject yourself to a Philadelphia 76ers game this season. It’s ugly basketball. They play fast but in the way a four-year-old runs fast — out of control and doomed to fall hard. There is talent to develop, but sorting the wheat from the chaff is not a simple job for Brett Brown. He has to find the pieces the Sixers could use going forward.

K.J. McDaniels is one of them.

Coming into the league there were questions about his offense, but he has proven to be a much better shooter than expected. What people thought when he was drafted at No. 32 is he could be an energy guy, one who can defend and maybe block a few shots.

Oh, he can block shots. He may be just 6’6” but he has quickly established himself as a threatening shot blocker in the paint. To the point he gave a lady at a game a concussion, McDaniels told our old friend Rob Mahoney of Sports Illustrated.

“I used to watch a lot of [Dwyane] Wade and LeBron [James] when they came into the league,” McDaniels said. “I used to watch Michael Jordan a lot, too – the way they were versatile in how they defend multiple positions and use their athleticism to block shots. I just figured since I’m athletic and I can jump and have good instincts, I can go up there and get shots as well.”

That particular skill has translated brilliantly to the NBA level, where McDaniels succeeds the aforementioned Wade and James as one of the most awesome and surprising help-side shot blockers in the league. The jewel of his rejection résumé might just be the play of the season to date: A complete demolition of a Greivis Vasquez runner, rocketed into the stands at such a violent velocity as to cause actual injury.

“I surprised myself,” McDaniels said of the block. “There was a lady who got hit by the ball who got a concussion, I believe.” McDaniels, upon hearing what happened, sent flowers.

Here’s the play in question, but we don’t see the lady getting hit.

This is from the “I don’t care if the story is actually true” file, I want it to be. I want it to be part of the McDaniels’ legend. So I will believe it like some people are convinced Bigfoot walks the Pacific Northwest. Or they believe in the chupacabra.

The Sixers have found something in McDaniels. Now they just have to keep him (he will be a restricted free agent at the end of the season, and he will have suitors).

Raptors to host “Drake Night” on Dec. 17. There are special shirts and everything.

drake night shirt
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You may think Mr. “last name ever, first name greatest” (gosh, now I want a Sprite) is an overblown, overhyped piece of… but they love him in his native Toronto. Which means when the 2016 All-Star Game goes to Toronto it’s going to be all Drake all the time.

But before then, Drake Night is coming to a Raptors game. As said on the OVO blog (via
SLAM) “All ticket holders will receive a limited edition OVO x RAPTORS T-shirt upon entry of the Air Canada Centre” for that game.

That night the Brooklyn Nets come to Toronto and the game will be broadcast on ESPN.

The Raptors are a feel-good story this season. They are 16-5 and on top of the East, with the second best offense in the NBA behind Kyle Lowry and, when healthy, DeMar DeRozan. They have one of the top home court advantages in the NBA (them or OKC gets the crown). Their GM isn’t afraid to say what he is really thinking. This is a team you can get behind.

I hope too much Drake doesn’t ruin that.

Clippers’ Doc Rivers praises Lakers’ fans for their loyalty

Los Angeles Lakers v Atlanta Hawks
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LOS ANGELES — Lakers fans have taken a lot of flack over the years from other cities. They show up in the second quarter, they only are there to be seen and they spend most of the game on their iPhones trying to get a photo of Jack Nicholson or Denzel Washington or Iggy Azalea or whomever is sitting courtside.

But Clippers coach Doc Rivers was impressed with those fans. Rivers took in a rare game as a spectator Sunday when his son Austin and the New Orleans Pelicans came to town and beat the Lakers. Asked about the experience before his Clippers played the Suns Monday, Rivers praised the oft-maligned Lakers’ fans.

“I’ll say this, one of the things I was impressed with was how crowded it was,” Rivers said. “When you have the record that they have (5-16), it says a lot about their fan base and their loyalty. I was impressed. I went though that in Boston and I was amazed how crowded it was every night…. there’s not a lot of fan bases in our league — or in any league for that matter — that would do that.”

He’s right, the Lakers — specifically Kobe Bryant — are filling that building. And the fans this season, when they are given a spoonful of hope in a game, respond loudly (they were great in the Lakers upset of the Raptors).

As an LA native, I’ve regularly used a line I heard from ESPN’s J.A. Adande, describing L.A. as an iceberg. What everybody sees is that 10 percent of it above the waterline — the celebrities walking down the street, the hot clubs, everywhere TMZ cameramen hang out waiting to pounce. And that’s the courtside seats and expensive lower-bowl seats at Lakers games (the people the camera picks up on broadcasts). For them it is about being seen and doing something quintessentially LA as part of a night out (except for Jack and Denzel, they love the games).

But the 90 percent of LA that nobody sees under the waterline are regular people: Mechanics, insurance salesmen, Thai food cooks, soccer moms, and accountants. That is the core of the Lakers’ fan base. Those people only go to a couple of games a year, they love and defend Kobe passionately (to a fault), they love the Buss family and have no use for Dwight Howard. They are real fans. Delusional ones at times, but fans.

And they are still filling Staples Center. They will for a while, no matter how frustrated they get with the franchise.

Report: Nets, Sixers again talking Andrei Kirilenko trade

Philadelphia 76ers v Brooklyn Nets
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Word leaked out Tuesday that the Nets have put three of their biggest stars — Deron Williams, Brook Lopez and Joe Johnson — out there on the trade block. Which is going to be interesting because each of those guys comes with both baggage and a huge contract, meaning moving them is not going to be easy.

But already the Nets are close to a deal… to move Andrei Kirilenko. To the 76ers.

That deal has been discussed before but the Nets pulled back to see if there was serious interest from teams that need an upgrade at the three — Cleveland, the LA Clippers — but now the talks are back on, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports

For the Sixers, this is just about adding another pick. Philly GM Sam Hinkie is going to show up on “Hoarders” with a home just overflowing with picks.

Kirilenko is dealing with a family matter currently, has not played in a game with weeks and is not traveling with the team, just working out at the Nets’ facility. He can’t help a team in the short term.

If you’re the Clippers or Cavaliers or any other team with interest in Kirilenko, you wouldn’t give up much in a trade to get him if you knew that he would be a free agent soon after the Sixers waived him.

Which means the Nets don’t have a lot of options. The Sixers may be the best one.

And it may be the only Nets deal you see for a while.