Author: Kurt Helin

Denver Nuggets v Los Angeles Lakers

Kenneth Faried gets up, shuts down 7’2″ Rudy Gobert at rim (VIDEO)


Maybe this will make Kenneth Faried feel better about his game this season.

Denver picked up another win and got over .500 but in a tight 103-101 game they needed every bucket — and every block. Utah likes to try to throw lobs to 7’2″ Rudy Gobert — because he’s 7’2″ with a freakish wingspan — or at least get him rolling to the rim and they try that here. But Faried is waiting and sends it back.

Then Faried hustles down the court, gets the offensive board and sets up the good-look three. That kind of energy and effort is what Faried brings, that is his value.

Hat tip to Matt Moore of CBSSports’s Eye on Basketball.


Cleveland puts in bid to host 2018 NBA All-Star Game

Cleveland downtown on cloudy day

There’s been a transformation in Cleveland — both on the court with the Cavaliers (hastened by the return of prodigal son LeBron James) and in downtown Cleveland, which has gone from the butt of late night comedy jokes to a place that produces an Iron Chef.

Now the powers that be want to show it all off.

The Cavaliers have thrown their hat in the ring, making a bid for the 2018 All-Star Game, reports Chris Haynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Cavaliers Chief Executive Officer Len Komoroski and President and CEO of the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission David Gilbert both confirmed to Northeast Ohio Media Group that the bid has been placed….

The return of LeBron James certainly helps, and in March for the first time the city will host the regional semifinals and finals of the 2015 NCAA basketball tournament. Cleveland also was awarded the Republican National Convention in 2016.

The NBA has opened up bidding for both the 2017 and 2018 All-Star Games. It is known that Portland and Charlotte have put in bids for that window as well, and other cities may well have done so also just without all the fanfare. (It makes a lot of sense for middle-to-smaller market cities making a bid to let it be known and say to their fan base “look, we’re a big time city, too.”)

The NBA has a lot of criteria for hosting an All-Star Game including hotel rooms near the arena, convention space to host the NBA All-Star Jam Session (the fan fest), plus room for all the other events.

The 2015 All-Star Game is in New York and the 2016 game will be in Toronto. A decision on at least 2017 is expected the first part of next year.

Kevin Durant goes through practice Monday, rumored to be back within week

Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook

Russell Westbrook was back and instantly the Thunder looked much better — his pressure he puts on a defense with his aggressive play and that opened up passing lanes and good shots for everyone else.

But the Thunder need more — they need to go 44-21 the rest of the way to get to 49 wins that was the Western Conference playoffs cutoff last year. What they need is Kevin Durant back from his foot surgery.

And they may get that sooner rather than later. He went through practice Monday, reports Royce Young of ESPN.

Also on ESPN today, Chris Broussard said that Durant is expected back with the Thunder within a week. It’s been just more than six weeks since the surgery expected to keep him out six-to-eight weeks.

If true — and the fact he is practicing suggests it is likely true — this would be huge for OKC. They can still make the playoffs in the West if they can just win the rest of the season at the pace they did last year.

Then they become the scariest, most dangerous seven/eight seed ever.

Spurs’ Marco Belinelli posterizes Henry Sims. You read that right. (VIDEO)

Dallas Mavericks v San Antonio Spurs

Things I never thought I’d type include:

That was a huge dunk by Marco Belinelli.

But such is life against the Sixers — everyone can make big plays. The Spurs’ Belinelli is thought of as a three point shooter and little else, but he can put the ball on the floor. Although usually just to create enough space for another jumper. Not this time — he has a clear pass to the basket and takes it.

And no Henry Sims is going to stop him.

When might Philadelphia finally win a game? A look at the schedule.

Philadelphia 76ers v New York Knicks

The Philadelphia 76ers’ defense is bad. Their offense is potentially historically bad (although they have improved a little lately they are still far and away the worst in the NBA and just ahead of worst-ever pace). We all know this is part of management and GM Sam Hinkie’s master plan — stockpile draft picks, play the young guys like Michael Carter-Williams, and as a byproduct be so bad as to get the chance to draft top talent. (And they did, Joel Embiid could be special, but he is also out for the season.)

That doesn’t make them any easier to watch.

The Philadelphia 76ers are just a dumpster fire. An 0-17 dumpster fire. Just two more losses from “besting” the 2009 New Jersey Nets, which lost 18 games to start the season, the NBA record for early season futility.

Monday night the Sixers picked up a moral victory by battling from 24 back to make it interesting against the Spurs in the final minutes. Michael Carter-Williams had 24 points and the Sixers covered the covered the 11-point spread but fell 109-103 to a Spurs team resting Tony Parker and Tim Duncan. You know what you get for a moral victory in the NBA? Exactly. You get 0-17.

When might the Sixers get that elusive first win? Let’s take a look at the schedule.

• Wednesday, Dec. 3, at Minnesota Timberwolves. This could be the Sixers best chance because the Timberwolves are without Ricky Rubio, Kevin Martin and Nikola Pekovic, so they are leaning heavily on youth such as Andrew Wiggins, Shabazz Muhammad and Gorgui Dieng. Of course, they still have guys like Thaddeus Young and Mo Williams, they have guys that can put up points, but they have struggled and lost 9-of-11, the most recent win needing a late Laker collapse to make happen.

Lose this game and the Sixers tie the NBA record for most losses to start a season. They should be desperate. Minnesota is still more talented and at home, but we’ll call this one a coin toss.

• Friday, Dec. 5, Oklahoma City Thunder. A week ago this looked much better, but with Russell Westbrook back (and Kevin Durant potentially back, he’s been practicing) this team is playing much better. Plus the Thunder have a sense of desperation about them, they know they have to win better than two-thirds of their games the rest of the way to even have a shot at the eight seed in the West. They are not going to let an easy win slip by them. Sixers have a five percent chance here.

• Saturday, Dec. 6, at Detroit Pistons. Another winnable game for the Sixers as the Pistons have good talent on the roster — Andre Drummond, Josh Smith, Greg Monroe, Brandon Jennings — but none of it fits together well. Stan Van Gundy has a lot of work to clean up Joe Dumars’ mess. The Pistons have one of the worst offenses in the NBA, if the Sixers can just get some points on the board they have a chance. That said, it’s the second night of a back-to-back on the road for Philly, so let’s say the Sixers have just a 35 percent chance in this one.

• Wednesday, Dec. 10, at Atlanta Hawks. The Hawks have won seven of their last 10 and they have Jeff Teague playing at a near All-Star level at the point, not to mention Al Horford in the paint. Atlanta is just the better team and the Sixers have maybe a five percent chance in this one.

• Friday, Dec. 12, at Brooklyn Nets. The Nets have been up and down this season, with a defense that has been pretty average but an offense that is bottom 10. Still, the Nets have good talent on that side of the ball — Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Brook Lopez (if he’s healthy). I can’t imagine Kevin Garnett letting the Nets lose to the Sixers, but this is an up and down team and things happen. We’ll give the Sixers a 15 percent chance to get this win.

• Saturday, Dec. 13, Memphis Grizzlies. Philadelphia has no shot here. None. Zero.

• At this point if the Sixers are still winless at 0-23 it’s going to be a massive national story to see if they can set another futility record (remember they lost 26 straight last season tying the 2010-11 Cavaliers). But the Sixers also would have three winnable games as they got desperate: Boston, Charlotte and Orlando. All three lottery bound teams struggling to start the season. The Sixers would not be favorites in any of those games — good chance they are not a favorite all season — but they’ll have a chance.

Which is to say, they are not going to get to 26 and set an NBA record to start the season. Probably. But that Magic game on Dec. 21 starts a seven game road trip, so the Sixers can just start a new streak.