Kurt Helin

Goran Dragic

Five Things We Learned in NBA Monday: Goran Dragic got his revenge in concentrated form


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 you were remembering Hank Gathers

1) For Goran Dragic, revenge is a dish best served in concentrated form. Miami’s Goran Dragic played just fewer than 15 minutes against his old team, the Phoenix Suns. You know, the team he kicked on the way out the door (and they have kicked back). Turns out 15 minutes was plenty — Dragic had 21 points on 5-of-9 shooting, got to the free throw line nine times, and helped the Heat to a 115-98 win. Dragic said after the game his back was bothering him so much that he would have sat out against anyone else. But revenge is a great motivator.

2) DeMar DeRozan made sure the Raptors were going to get a win somehow. The Toronto Raptors had lost five in a row and needed a slump buster. A win, no matter how ugly. They got it in the form of Philadelphia, and DeMar DeRozan was going to make sure they got the victory — 35 points and nine rebounds. Even when the Sixers guarded him well — and they didn’t do that consistently — he was making plays, hitting 6-of-9 on contested shots on the night. We’ll see if the Raps can build on this, but for now it’s a win.

3) Stephen Curry is just not fair. Just like it had been in Boston, Golden State started slow in Brooklyn then tried to make a furious late comeback from down double digits — and that comeback was all Stephen Curry. He reminded everyone why he is an MVP frontrunner putting up 18 fourth quarter points. He showed off his handles, he showed off his jumper, he showed off his hesitation move, he was just making plays. When Curry gets going, there is no more entertaining player in the NBA.

4) Yet Curry’s fireworks were not enough — Jarrett Jack got the Nets the win. Brooklyn needed the win; they are one of six Eastern Conference teams that started the day within 2.5 games and all battling for the final two playoff spots. The Nets need wins. They got off to a fast start, shooting 16-of-22 to start the game, they had Brook Lopez put up 26, but they needed Jack to do his thing at the end to secure the win.

5) Blood clots are becoming a real issue in the NBA. Chris Bosh got out of the hospital but is sidelined for the rest of this season with blood clots in his lungs. The thing is, he is not alone in dealing with this condition. As David Aldridge noted in his must-read Monday column at NBA.com, Brooklyn’s Mirza Teletovic was shut down for the season in January for this and Cleveland’s Anderson Varejao missed the second half of the 2012-13 season for this. It’s not just the NBA, the NHL and MLB have had to face this issue. Aldridge laid it out well.

“I think this is something that’s on our radar,” said Gregg Farnam, the Minnesota Timberwolves head athletic trainer and director of medical operations, and the current chair of the National Basketball Athletic Trainers Association, on Saturday.

“It’s something that, in speaking with the league office, we’re in the process of assembling some team athletic trainers, some physicians, some specialists across the country to look deeper into this issue and see if there’s any correlation, and within that correlation see if there’s anything we need to do differently,” said Farnam, who’s in his 18th season with Minnesota and 15th as head athletic trainer.

The extensive travel and time spent on planes by NBA players would, at first glance, be a prime suspect in the causation of clots. Travel of several hours or more at a time — a regular part of the job description for NBA players — is believed to increase the risk of developing embolisms or deep vein thrombosis. Because people sit on planes and leg movement tends to be restricted on flights, even on the charter planes all NBA teams now use, blood can pool in the legs and clots can develop — especially if a player is dehydrated after playing.

It’s something the league needs look into.

Zach LaVine was dunking all over the Clippers (VIDEO)

Los Angeles Clippers v Minnesota Timberwolves

The Clippers’ 110-105 win over the Timberwolves had its moments. Like when Austin Rivers intentionally bumped into Kevin Garnett walking off the court, and the veteran took exception (the two had words and got the double technical). There was Chris Paul was just abusing the Timberwolves defenders. Ricky Rubio put up a triple double.

But we know what you want to see is Zach LaVine dunking. So here you go.


League suspends James Harden one game for kick to LeBron James’ groin

Cleveland Cavaliers v Houston Rockets

If James Harden had thrown a punch at LeBron James, there would have been no question that he would have been suspended for at least one game. Why should a kick be any different?

In the league’s eyes, it wasn’t.

The league suspended Harden one game for the incident you see in the video above. Harden will miss Tuesday’s game when the Rockets take on the Hawks.

The play happened with 2:08 left in the third quarter of what had become a physical, chippy, playoff-style game. LeBron was pressuring Harden, who had the ball out by the top of the arc. When Harden picked up his dribble, LeBron came in trying to get a jump ball. Harden fell to the ground, and while there Harden kicked up at LeBron catching him in the… King’s jewels, shall we say.

It was intentional, it deserved a suspension.

Greg Monroe’s agent says center could stay with Pistons this summer

Cleveland Cavaliers v Detroit Pistons

Greg Monroe did something incredibly unusual; he left an eight-figure a year extension to his rookie contract on the table so he could play for a few million this year. All so he could be an unrestricted free agent this summer and get out of Detroit.

Except, he might not.

The dynamics have changed since the Pistons waived Josh Smith. Monroe’s agent, David Falk, told the Detroit Free Press it is possible Monroe will stay on with the Pistons.

Greg Monroe’s agent said Saturday night that the pending unrestricted free agent is “absolutely” open to re-signing with the Detroit Pistons…

“He’s going to get the same money wherever he goes,” Monroe said to two reporters courtside at the Verizon Center. “I told him that two years ago. All stars get the same amount. It just depends on what the intangibles are.

“Where do you want to move? Who do you want to play with? Who do you want to play with? Is there a coach you want to play for? Do you want to be the star on a rebuilding team or do you want to be a complementary player on a championship team? Those are all intangibles.”

And, does he like what is being built in Detroit under Stan Van Gundy?

Monroe has been pretty consistent all year for the up-and-down Pistons, but he’s getting more minutes — and with that putting up more numbers — of late. In his last five games Monroe is playing 37 minutes a night, scoring 19.2 and pulling down 11.6 rebounds a game.

He’s going to get max contract offers this summer — big men get paid in the NBA. He’s showing he’s almost a 20 and 10 guy, he can play on the elbow or in the block, and his defense is solid. You can bet the Lakers, Knicks and a bunch of other teams come calling on July 1.

The question becomes, is Stan Van Gundy winning over Monroe right now?

PBT Extra: James Harden makes MVP push, Rockets keep on winning

Cleveland Cavaliers v Houston Rockets

It all comes back to winning. James Harden’s MVP push got a boost on Sunday when he battled LeBron James and the Rockets picked up the overtime win against the Cavaliers. But moreover, it is the winning over the past few weeks with Dwight Howard out that has pushed Harden into forefront of MVP talk.

Harden and the Rockets are the focus of today’s PBT Extra with myself and Jenna Corrado. We talk about Harden as MVP but also why nobody is talking much about Howard’s absence.