Kurt Helin

Associated Press

Mavericks’ Salah Mejri sends Kevin Durant’s layup into stands (VIDEO)

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If you haven’t been watching Dallas games, you haven’t been seeing the emergence of reserve big man Salah Mejri.

Kevin Durant found out about it the hard way Wednesday night.

It wasn’t enough, the Thunder won on the road 116-103, and Durant had 24 points, tied with Russell Westbrook to lead the team.

Before game in Miami, Stephen Curry meets a cancer-stricken fan


MIAMI (AP) Stephen Curry‘s pregame routine had a special addition Wednesday, one that gave a 4-year-old boy an unforgettable thrill.

The Golden State star and reigning NBA MVP spent some time with Shawn Kennedy from Niagara Falls, New York and his family, doing so about an hour before the Warriors would play the Miami Heat.

Curry gave the boy the sneakers he wore to warm up – “Keep being brave,” Curry wrote – and even took Shawn and his brother into the Warriors’ locker room so they could meet some other players.

Shawn has a rare brain cancer called Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma. A longtime friend of Warriors coach Steve Kerr heard about the family’s situation, and plans were quickly made for Curry to meet the young fan.

So when Curry left the floor after his shooting session about an hour before the game, he and Shawn got to meet and talk some ball.

“I didn’t expect anything like this,” said Nicole Vathy, Shawn’s mother. “He’s going to go home and talk about this all day. He really is. He’s not going to stop talking about it.”

Curry spent about 15 minutes with Shawn and his family, and Kerr came out to meet them as well.

“I just read a couple months ago that Shawn’s idol was Steph Curry,” said Mike Esposito, a Niagara Falls resident who has a long relationship with Kerr through basketball and helped pull the trip to Miami together. “I emailed Steve and within an hour, half-an-hour, he emailed back and said `We’ve got you.”‘

Shawn’s condition is getting somewhat better over time, his mother said, and the boy is scheduled for more tests at St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital in April to further evaluate his progress.

“For him to do this for us,” Vathy said, “is unbelievable.”

Stephen Curry ties Kyle Korver for most consecutive games with made three (127)


It was a big deal a couple of years back when Kyle Korver passed Dana Barros and eventually stretched the streak for most consecutive NBA games with a made three-pointer out to 127.

Less than two minutes into the Warriors game against the Heat Wednesday, Stephen Curry tied that record.

He’ll pass that with his next game and it’s hard to imagine a game for a while where he doesn’t knock down a three. And whenever he hangs them up, Curry is going to have a plethora of other shooting records as well. He is the greatest shooter the game has ever seen.

Report: Owner James Dolan is upset with Knicks slide out of playoff contention

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Why is Phil Jackson making $12 million a year from the Knicks? To keep James Dolan out of basketball decisions.

Whatever Jackson has done right (drafting Kristaps Porzingis and other members of the Knicks young core) and wrong over his time in charge of the Knicks basketball operations, every day he keeps the Knicks’ owner from meddling on the basketball side is a good day. Jackson’s $12 million salary is leverage in that battle.

But as the Knicks have gone 2-12 in their last 14, and got thumped by the Raptors at home on Monday, Dolan’s anger is boiling up, reports Frank Isola at the New York Daily News.

The MSG chairman, according to a source, was visibly agitated following the Knicks’ lackluster performance in a loss to the Toronto Raptors on Monday.

It is unclear if Dolan addressed team president Phil Jackson, just as he did one week before Derek Fisher was fired. But Dolan is said to be just as angry as Anthony with the direction of the Knicks, who are 24-34 entering Wednesday’s game against the Indiana Pacers.

Carmelo Anthony expressed his frustration after the Raptors loss, and interim coach Kurt Rambis knows that when the boss is mad you should be mad.

“We’re all frustrated. We can’t accept this,” said interim head coach Kurt Rambis. “For the organization, for our team, ourselves as individuals, the coaching staff. We can’t accept losing. I want players to be angry. I want players to be frustrated. That’s the right attitude to have.”

The losing streak isn’t fun, but the Knicks are performing above expectations this season. This has been a step forward. If the playoffs were expected, well, James Dolan was being unrealistic.

Which gets us back to why Phil Jackson is valuable to the Knicks.

LeBron James: “This year I feel 10 times better than I did last year”


Last season during the NBA Finals, LeBron James averaged 35.8 points, 13.3 rebounds, and 8.8 assists per game. He wasn’t terribly efficient (47.7 true shooting percentage), but considering the offensive load he was asked to carry you can’t ask much more than that. He carried the Cavaliers to two wins against the Warriors.

Which is why what LeBron said about how he feels physically right now, at this point in the season compared to a year ago, should scare the NBA. From Dave McMenamin of ESPN.

In fact, James said he’s better off this season at 31 years old than he was last season, when he missed a career-high 13 games, including a two-week hiatus to rest.

“It’s how my body was feeling,” James said Wednesday after the Cleveland Cavaliers held shootaround in preparation for their game against the Charlotte Hornets. “Last year I was banged up. It’s not a mindset, it’s just reality. This year I feel 10 times better than I did last year. So that’s the mindset.”

The slow decline of James’ skills has been a topic around the NBA for a couple of years now. He’s gone from being the unquestioned greatest player in the game to somewhere in the top five but usually three through five, depending on whom you ask. His jumper isn’t as consistent, he doesn’t attack or defend with the same energy, and he admits he’s saving that energy for the playoffs, when he needs it most. That said, he has defended better this season than last, and he seems to have more vintage LeBron athletic plays.

That said, once the Cavaliers lock up the No. 1 seed (they are just three games ahead of the Raptors) coach Tyronn Lue has said he would rest LeBron before the playoffs (presumably Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love, and others, too). If this is a healthy Cavaliers team, they are a much bigger threat in the NBA Finals.

Whether that will be enough remains to be seen.