Author: Kurt Helin

Orlando Magic v Toronto Raptors

Raptors’ Tyler Hansbrough dunks, J.J. Hickson ends up in poster (VIDEO)


J.J. Hickson tries to make the right play. Maybe a split second late, but he recognizes that Tyler Hansbrough has cut from the top of the key area straight down the land and is about to dunk. Hickson goes for the block.

He’s not strong enough. Hansbrough throws it down and Hickson just ends up in the poster.

The Raptors got 61 points from the guard combo of Kyle Lowry and Lou Williams and had a comfortable win on the road over Denver.

PBT’s Sunday Night NBA Winners/Losers: Cavaliers shouldn’t hit panic button, may want to locate it

D.J. Augustin, LeBron James

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 you were detained after trying to bring a midevil war hammer on a plane….

source:  Cleveland Cavaliers. ”Right now we are not very good. In every aspect of the game.” That would be LeBron James assessment of the Cavaliers right now, and they looked every bit that bad in a humiliating, 23-point blowout loss at home to the lowly Pistons Sunday. Yes, the Cavaliers were without Kyrie Irving, but the bigger issue is the defense is struggling and Anderson Varejao is not walking through that door. Kevin Love was never much of a defender but LeBron is not hustling back consistently in transition defense and the rest of the team is following his lead. Coach David Blatt can’t get this team to buy in on defense, rather they are a team of bad habits. Still, this is a six-win Pistons team… well, make that seven wins, but the point is this is the kind of team the Cavaliers should be able to beat with LeBron and Love on the court together. That they can’t speaks volumes to where they stand. Their problems are bigger than ones that can be solved with some magical trade (that may not happen anyway). It’s still just more than a third of the way into the season, there’s time to turn it around and become the team many feared. But a lot of things need to change.

source:  Detroit Pistons. Yes, the Cavaliers have issues, but let’s give the Pistons credit — that was their best game of the young season. Is it a coincidence their two best games of the season (beating the Pacers Friday) came after Josh Smith was cut loose? Probably. First off, they hit 17-of-31 from three, that’s a one-off. Also, Brandon Jennings has these kinds of night a couple times a season — 25 points (13 in the third quarter), and almost all of it on jump shots, as he was 5-of-6 shooting from the midrange and 5-of-9 from three. Jennings also has six assists. (To be fair, he’s played well in three of the last four, maybe he’s finding a groove.) That said, it’s two big wins in a row for Detroit. We’ll be watching to see if this continues.

source:  Kyle Lowry and Lou Williams. The Raptors 1-2 punch at the guard spot put up 61 points on the Nuggets. Kyle Lowry continues to be one of the best players in the Eastern Conference this season — he had 30 points (on 20 shots), 11 assists and 10 rebounds. Then Lou Williams comes in off the bench and put up 31 points on 18 shots including going 4-of-7 from three. When those guys re hitting like that the Raptors can beat anybody. It is the play from these guys that has Toronto having won eight of nine without DeMar DeRozan.

source:  Dallas Mavericks. In what was a really entertaining game against Oklahoma City, Dallas may not have won the big individual battles but they won the war and got a quality victory. This one may have been a toss-up: Dirk Nowitzki had 30 points (10 in the fourth) on 13 shots, while Serge Ibaka had 26 points on 14 shots, plus 10 rebounds. At the point guard spot Rajon Rondo had 15 points, seven assists, and six rebounds, while Russell Westbrook flirted with a triple-double scoring 18 points, with nine assists and nine rebounds. Still, without Kevin Durant that’s not enough from Westbrook. But you knew it was going to be a good night for Dallas when Greg Smith was doing this.

source:  San Antonio Spurs. Speaking of teams getting quality wins, the Spurs are still without Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard yet were able to beat the Rockets 110-106. This was another great game for the fans — it was close the entire way (if a bit sloppy, the teams combined for 43 turnovers), but as they do when it got to the end the Spurs simply executed at a higher level than their opponents. The Spurs got 24 from Danny Green, plus the usual strong nights from Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili.

Carmelo Anthony sits out second half vs. Portland with sore knee


You could see it — late in the second quarter Carmelo Anthony drove the lane and made a lay-up against the Portland Trail Blazers, but as he ran back up the court he was wincing. He had aggravated the issue with his left knee, which caused him to miss four games recently.

Anthony did not play in the second half because of his knee.

The Knicks are off until Wednesday when they face the Clippers in Los Angeles. After that they return home to face the Pistons on Friday. Anthony has been a game time decision for a while now due to his knee issues, that likely will remain the case going forward for a while.

Without Anthony the Knicks could mount no serious challenge to the Trail Blazers (well, frankly they couldn’t do that with Anthony either). In the second half the Knicks leaned heavily on Cole Aldrich and Tim Hardaway Jr. to generate points and the result was just 34 second half points in what was a 101-79 loss. The Knicks are now 5-27 on the season and have lost 17 of 18.

Anthony said some close to him have advised him to sit out for a while to rest his knee and get healthy. He’s trying to avoid surgery, but that is not out of the question. With the way the Knicks’ season is heading — and with the fact the Knicks have their own draft pick for this season — there’s not really a reason to rush Anthony back.