Kurt Helin

Toronto Raptors' DeMarre Carroll left, and Patrick Patterson, right, walk down court in the closing moments of the Raptors 107-101 loss to the Sacramento Kings in an NBA basketball game in Sacramento, Calif., Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015.(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
Associated Press

Report: Raptors’ Carroll, Valanciunas could be cleared for practice soon

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The Toronto Raptors could use DeMarre Carroll‘s defense on the perimeter shooting. The Raptors miss Jonas Valanciunas in the paint — they are nine points per 100 possessions better when he plays than when he sits. When Carroll and Valanciunas are on the court together this season, the Raptors have outscored their opponents by 4.4 points per 100 possessions.

They could get them both back soon. Valanciunas has been out with a broken hand. Carroll has officially been out with a bruised knee, but he had been playing through foot issues and could use the time off. Both are nearing a return, reports Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun.

The Raptors at 16-11 are right in the middle of the crowded second tier in the East, where 2.5 games separate the second seed Bulls and the 10-seed Celtics going into Friday night’s action. That the Raptors have hung in there with two key starters out is impressive.

With them back, maybe the Raptors can start to separate themselves from the pack.

Andrew Wiggins, Zach LaVine, Shabazz Muhammad all dunking on Kings


The Minnesota Timberwolves have a long way to go to be good, but they sure are fun to watch.

Against the Sacramento Kings Friday night Andrew Wiggins, Zach LaVine, and Shabazz Muhammad all got in the act with impressive dunks. They were hurting the rim, and it was certainly entertaining.

In a few years, this team could well be elite. Until then they are still a great show.

Hoiberg still optimistic Dunleavy Jr. will play for Bulls this season

Mike Dunleavy, Luol Deng
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CHICAGO (AP) — Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg says he still thinks forward Mike Dunleavy Jr. will play this season.

Dunleavy is away from the team working with a specialist as he recovers from a back injury.

Hoiberg said Friday he is “optimistic” the veteran sharpshooter will suit up after being sidelined all season. He also understands the skepticism that Dunleavy will return, saying it’s “fair to question that, talk about it.”

The veteran sharpshooter was expected to be out eight to 10 weeks after having surgery in late September, but he experienced a setback in his recovery.

The 35-year-old Dunleavy re-signed with Chicago in July after he averaged 9.4 points and shot 40.7 percent from 3-point range in 63 games last season.

Kobe’s 10-year-old daughter already mimics his pull-up jumper

Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant‘s pull-up jumper is a work of art. While the consistency of it falling has dropped off in recent years (although in his last five games his outside shot has been on target again), his fundamentals in keeping his balance while throwing his defender off is something to be studied by young wings.

Or, Kobe’s daughter.

Baxter Holmes of ESPN had this great note in a story on Kobe dunking for the first time this season (hat tip Eye on Basketball and Complex).

Bryant lined up for free throws and stared across the court to his smiling wife and two elated daughters, the youngest of whom, 10-year-old Gianna, was especially excited.

“We were shooting not too long ago and she was shooting one-dribble pullups,” Bryant recalled. “I asked her where does she get that from? She said, ‘From watching you.'”

“I didn’t know she was paying attention that much,” Bryant continued. “I watch her play and she has the same mannerisms. She’ll sit there and bite her jersey and all this other stuff. That’s a beautiful thing.”

Her coaches may not love her taking pull-up jumpers quite yet, but nature over nurture. And every league is a make-or-miss league, if she’s knocking them down nobody will care.

How many All-Stars should Warriors have? Curry says why not five?

OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 17:  Andrew Bogut #12, Andre Iguodala #9, Draymond Green #23, Stephen Curry #30, Klay Thompson #11, and interim head coach Luke Walton of the Golden State Warriors stands on the court while the referees review a play during their game against the Toronto Raptors at ORACLE Arena on November 17, 2015 in Oakland, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Stephen Curry is a lock, the fans will vote him in as a All-Star starter (and likely top vote getter overall). Klay Thompson was an All-Star last season and is close to certain to be again, although the backcourt in the Western Conference race is a crowded space. If Draymond Green isn’t an All-Star it’s a crime.

But how many Golden State Warriors should make the All-Star Team?

Stephen Curry thinks three would be low, as he told the San Jose Mercury News.

“Why not five?” he said.

“The way they we play, every given night we all want to have an impact on the game,” Curry said. “Stats may look a certain way and you can make judgments off of that. But when a team goes 25-1, and hopefully we keep that trajectory going, hopefully individual guys are recognized for what they mean to the team.”

The problem is other teams get guys, too. With Curry and Thompson likely in for the backcourt, you can bet on Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul, and probably James Harden making the cut. In the front court there is Green, Blake Griffin, Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Dirk Nowitzki, Anthony Davis, and DeMarcus Cousins — and that leaves guys like Tim Duncan and (the deserving) Derrick Favors off the team.

Who of those guys are you going to drop to put in Harrison Barnes, Andre Iguodala, or Andrew Bogut?

Those last three Warriors are fantastic players — and more importantly perfect fits for the Warriors’ offense — but All-Stars? Nah.

Three’s company. That works.

Unless you want to count Luke Walton/Steve Kerr as coach.