Kurt Helin

Russell Westbrook, Eric Bledsoe, Alex Len

Eric Bledsoe, Russell Westbrook put on a show (VIDEO)


The Suns and Thunder played a barn burner on Thursday night, and overtime thriller that would have been worth staying up late for on the East Coast.

If you just look at the stat line, you’d see Russell Westbrook’s triple-double — 39 points, 14 rebounds, 11 assists — and think he was the best player on the court. But he was far from efficient, missing his first eight shots of the night and taking 38 to get his 39 points. That said he had 19 points in the fourth quarter and overtime.

Then there was the Suns’ Eric Bledsoe: 28 points, 13 rebounds, nine assists. One dime short of the triple-double. Then check out his shot chart:


These two guys put on a show.

Kyrie Irving to get MRI on shoulder, did not travel with Cavs to Indianapolis

Golden State Warriors v Cleveland Cavaliers
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Kyrie Irving injured his shoulder in the third quarter of the Cavaliers 110-99 win over the Warriors Thursday night, but the in-game report was that he “bumped” his left shoulder and Irving played through it in the fourth.

Turns out it was more than a bump.

Irving did not board the Cavaliers team plane to Indianapolis Thursday night and is listed as doubtful for Friday night’s game against the Pacers, Cleveland announced after Thursday’s win. Instead of shootaround, Irving will spend his Friday morning getting an MRI at the Cleveland Clinic Sports Health Clinic on his left shoulder.

Announcement: ProBasketballTalk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $350,000 Fantasy Basketball league for Friday’s NBA games. It’s $25 to join and first prize is $30,000. Starts at 7pm ET on Friday. Here’s the FanDuel link.

While NBA teams can give out MRI’s like candy on Halloween, the fact the Cavs are going through all this with Irving suggests they are at least concerned about something. Hopefully the MRI shows nothing serious, the injury gods have taken a significant enough toll on this NBA season.

Without Irving (who you have to think is going to miss at least Friday), expect a lot more Iman Shumpert and Matthew Dellavedova in Indiana. Oh, and I suppose they can give the ball to that LeBron James guy, too. He’s pretty good.


Stephen Curry has some sick handles, too

Golden State Warriors v Cleveland Cavaliers

If you thought all Stephen Curry can do is shoot the rock…

You reach, Curry will teach.

Curry talked about this All-Star weekend. When he entered the league he was pigeonholed as a shooter — “his ceiling is the next Ray Allen” — but he knew he had a much more rounded game. Curry put in the time to develop his handles and point guard skills and get them to an NBA level.

All that work — plus getting his ankles healthy — has turned him into one of the game’s best all-around players.

Five Things We Learned in NBA Thursday: The Cavaliers we expected have arrived

LeBron James

If you watch closely every night in the NBA you can learn a little something. We know you are busy and can’t keep up with every game, so we’re here to help with those lessons from another night in the Association. Here’s what you missed while watching Twitter explode because of llamas on the loose in Phoenix

1) The Cavaliers we expected may be late to the party but they have arrived. They have won 18 of 20. LeBron James is playing like the best player on the planet again. Their starting five are playing lock-down defense as a group (despite J.R. Smith and Kevin Love being in the group). There have been a lot of reasons for a while now to say that the Cavaliers we expected have finally arrived, but Thursday night they announced their presence with authority during a 110-99 win over the Golden State Warriors. A win where they ran away and hid from the team that has been considered the best in the game this season. Signs of what the Cavs were doing right? LeBron hit 8-of-11 contested shot attempts. The Cavs defense held the Warriors to 24-of-43 shooting in the paint. The lists can go on and on. Early in the season we wondered how long it would take Cleveland to morph into the Cavaliers, well it took a trade (particularly for Timofey Mozgov) and LeBron to get some rest, but that team has arrived.

2) Stephen Curry has serious handles. He’s got the purest shot in the game, but this man’s handles are ridiculous as well.

3) Phoenix will not go quietly into that good night. Recently the Suns had lost five in a row. The Thunder had won seven in a row. The Suns were 2.5 games back of the eight-seed Thunder and looked like, after trading Goran Dragic and Isaiah Thomas at the deadline, they would just pack it in for the season. Nope. Behind great nights from Eric Bledsoe (28 points and he was one assist shy of a triple-double) and Markeif Morris (29 points) the Suns beat the Thunder in overtime. That leaves them 1.5 games back of the Thunder. This team is not going to give up; they will push the Thunder all season long. They will not catch OKC, but they will not go quietly.

4) Eric Bledsoe and Russell Westbrook put on a show. You can decide for yourself which one is the white llama and which is the black, but like the llamas nobody could seem to catch up with Bledsoe (28 points, 13 rebounds, 9 assists) and Westbrook (39 points on 38 shots, 14 rebounds, 11 assists).

5) RIP Earl Lloyd. On Oct. 31, 1950, Earl Lloyd walked onto an NBA court as a member of the Washington Capitols and had six points and 10 rebounds in what was an eight-point loss to the Rochester Royals. In doing so, Lloyd broke the color barrier and became the first black player in the NBA. The Hall of Famer passed away Thursday at age 86.

Earl Lloyd, the man who broke the NBA’s color barrier, passes away


On Oct. 31, 1950, Earl Lloyd walked onto an NBA court as a member of the Washington Capitols and had six points and 10 rebounds in what was an eight-point loss to the Rochester Royals. That’s not why the game will be remembered.

That was the night Lloyd broke the NBA’s color barrier, becoming the first black man to play in the league.

Lloyd passed away Thursday at the age of 86. This has been confirmed by his alma mater West Virginia State, as well as by the NBA.

“The NBA family has lost one of its patriarchs,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. ” Earl Lloyd, the first African-American to play in an NBA game, was as inspirational as he was understated.  He was known as a modest gentleman who played the game with skill, class, and pride.  His legacy survives in the league he helped integrate, and the entire NBA family will strive to always honor his memory.  Our deepest condolences to the Lloyd family.”

The 6’5″ forward spent nine seasons in the NBA, averaging 8.4 points and 6.4 rebounds. He won a title in 1955 with the Syracuse Nationals. In2003 he was elected to the Hall of Fame for his contributions to the sport. He also spent one season as an NBA coach in Detroit. He broke the color barrier that season along with  Nat “Sweetwater” Clifton and Chuck Cooper

Our thoughts are with his family and friends.