Kurt Helin

Associated Press

GM Dell Demps, coach Alvin Gentry say they are on same page, not concerned about jobs

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The rumor/conventional wisdom around the league is that with New Orleans Saints power broker Mickey Loomis having a larger say in the running of the Pelicans, and with the struggles of the Pelicans this season, GM Dell Demps is in serious trouble.

Then on Friday comes a report from Adrian Wojnarowski that Demps has been second guessing his decision last summer to hire Alvin Gentry as coach. (Demps needed a defensive coach or to overhaul the roster for Gentry’s preferred up-tempo style, instead it was square pegs in round holes.)

In the wake of that report, both Gentry and Demps seemed to try to play things down and sound like guys who would be back next season. Together. From Brett Dawson of the New Orleans Advocate.

Nothing to see here, move along.

That’s what they’re selling right now. As the pair should. But that doesn’t mean the reports are not true (Demps trying to share blame sounds like a guy on the hot seat trying to save his job). We can expect major changes in the Pelicans roster and structure this summer. They need to put better players around Anthony Davis sooner rather than later.

No surprise, Dirk Nowitzki says he plans to opt-in with Mavericks for next season

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Dirk Nowitzki doesn’t seem to age — his scoring numbers are up this season from 17.3 to 18.8 points per game, his true shooting percentage increased, he’s seemingly reversed the downward trends in his game. And he’s got the Mavericks on the cusp of making the playoffs (although the loss of Chandler Parsons for the rest of the season is a major blow).

The future Hall of Famer has one year left on his “I’ll take a deal to help the team” contract, worth $8.7 million next season, and he’s going to take it. Here’re his comments, via Tim MacMahon of ESPN.

The Mavericks did not go into rebuild mode last summer, although if DeAndre Jordan had told them no from the start that may have been different, Mark Cuban has suggested.

You know Cuban and company will go big game hunting come free agency, but that’s a limited talent pool this season and virtually every team has money. Expect if they strike out for the Mavs to add some more solid pieces and improve the team’s overall quality for what could be Nowitzki’s final season (age 38, in the last year of his deal).

Charlotte Hornets release statement opposing any discrimination in wake of new North Carolina law

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Joining numerous other businesses from Apple to American Airlines, the NBA has already come out against the new law in North Carolina law that opened the door for discrimination against gays and lesbians, not to mention transgendered people. The law, approved in an election year by a Republican-controlled legislature and governor, is about as politically subtle a move as one would expect from Frank Underwood.

The NBA is considering its options, including moving the 2017 NBA All-Star Game scheduled for Charlotte. (Although, less than a year out that is a logistical challenge, to say the least.)

Now the Charlotte Hornets themselves have weighed in, saying everyone is welcome in their house.

“The Charlotte Hornets and Hornets Sports & Entertainment are opposed to discrimination in any form, and we have always sought to provide an inclusive environment. As has been the case since the building opened, we will continue to ensure that all fans, players and employees feel welcome while at work or attending NBA games and events at Time Warner Cable Arena.”

Good job by the Hornets, who should stand up as beacons of tolerance and acceptance. They can’t force a change in the law, but they can work toward a changing of attitudes. Be the change you want to see.

As Martin Luther King Jr. said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”

Watch LeBron get frustrated, complain to bench about Cavaliers’ defense

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LeBron James should be frustrated — the Cleveland Cavaliers allowed the Brooklyn Nets to score at a 107.9 points per 100 possessions pace on Thursday. That’s 6.7 more than their season average. The Nets were carving up the Cavaliers defense with penetration, Brook Lopez was a puzzle the Cavaliers couldn’t solve, and Brooklyn had more resolve down the stretch.

None of this changes the Cavaliers front-runner status in the East — they will be the top seed and prohibitive favorite. But this is not the kind of effort you want to see from a contender late in the season. And LeBron knows it.

Five Takeaways from NBA Thursday: Cavaliers “took a step backwards” in loss to Nets

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What you missed around the NBA while you were re-living the highlights of Garry Shandling’s career….

1) Cavaliers look lost on defense, fade in fourth quarter, lose to Nets 104-95.
At this point in the season, coaches of playoff teams are looking for their squads to start getting into that mindset — focusing on the details, bringing energy every night, taking every opponent seriously and not coasting for a quarter (let alone a game). The reality is in late March we tend to still see a lot of mental vacation nights from teams where their focus is elsewhere.

Enter the Cleveland Cavaliers in Brooklyn Thursday. From the start, they were throwing lazy passes that got picked off (seven first quarter turnovers) and having ugly defensive lapses. Brooklyn was getting buckets from Brook Lopez (22 points on the night) and a balanced attack behind him with four other Nets in double figures. LeBron James was not the problem — he was 7-of-7 shooting in the first half, 13-of-16 for the game dropping 30 points — but the rest of the Cavaliers shot 35.6 percent on the night. Kyrie Irving was 6-of-22 and Kevin Love 5-of-14. Cleveland made a third quarter push to take the lead briefly, but in the fourth looked like a team on a back-to-back and scored just 12 points in the fourth. The loss isn’t going to cost the Cavs the top seed (they are still two games up on the Raptors) but they didn’t look like a contender. LeBron put it this way:

2) J.J. Redick knocks down game winner to beat Portland. As a whole the game felt like it was played in mud (both teams on the second night of a back-to-back), but when it mattered first Jamal Crawford stepped up for the Clippers — he hit the game-tying three, was fantastic in the second half, and finished with 25 points. Then with the game on the line, it was Chris Paul to J.J. Redick (after the game C.J. McCollum owned up to Redick being his man and he said he lost him).

3) Knicks sweep home and home from Bulls. Chicago may be the nine seed in the East and be on the outside looking in at the playoffs as you read this, but the theory goes their schedule is easier down the stretch than Detroit’s, so the Bulls can climb back into this thing. But not if they play like this — the Knicks just swept a home-and-home from the Bulls, winning in Madison Square Garden Thursday 106-94. Derrick Rose dunked for the Bulls, and outside of that there is nothing good to report. Fivethiryeight.com now says the Pistons have a 61 percent chance to make the playoffs, the Wizards (still a game back of Chicago but with a soft schedule) are at 30 percent, and the Bulls are just 13 percent (all that adds up to more than 100 percent because there is a four percent chance the Pacers fade out of the picture from the seven seed).

The Bulls’ front office has a lot of work to do this summer.

4) Knicks’ Jose Calderon finds Derrick Williams for a three-quarter court alley-oop. When things are going right for the Knicks, they are going right.

5) Back to Nets/Cavs: Watch Donald Sloan‘s behind-the-back move drop Matthew Dellavedova to the ground. It was just that kind of night for the Cavaliers’ defense.