<span class="vcard">Kurt Helin</span>

Philadelphia 76ers v Toronto Raptors

DeMar DeRozan with spinning 360 layup vs. Sixers

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The Raptors are a lot of fun.

They also are 6-1 after their win over the Sixers on Sunday, a game which included DeMar DeRozan’s 360 layup. That was two of his 24 points on just 12 shots — he was 4-of-5 at the rim but did a good job getting to his spots along the baseline just 10-12 feet out.

The Raptors are on top of the East early on, and while we don’t expect that to stick all season they have gotten a healthy cushion both in the Atlantic Division (1.5 games already) and over teams like Washington they expect to battle for the third seed by the end of the season.

Warriors’ Klay Thompson out Sunday night with sprained hand

Golden State Warriors v Houston Rockets
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Sunday night was already going to be a real threat to the Warriors unbeaten streak, playing on the second night of a road back-to-back against a good Suns team the night after big game in Houston.

Then it got worse — the team’s leading scorer Klay Thompson was out with a sprained hand. Monte Poole of CSNBayArea.com has the details.

Thompson sustained a sprained hand/wrist in Saturday’s win over the Rockets in Houston and was ruled out of Sunday’s game against the Suns in Phoenix….

Thompson appeared to injure hand area when he took a fall in the third quarter against the Rockets. Though postgame X-rays were negative, Thompson had difficulty operating during pregame warmups and the Warriors decided to hold him out.

Leandro Barbosa got the start in his place.

This is the first game Thompson has missed due to injury in his four NBA seasons. The Warriors next game is Wednesday against Sacramento.

Former Knick Ernie Vandeweghe, father of Kiki, passes away

New York Knicks v Los Angeles Clippers
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I was fortunate, I got to know Ernie Vandeweghe a little.

One of my first jobs was as an usher at the Los Angeles Sports Arena, where the Clippers played before Staples Center, and there Vandeweghe was a regular in my section. His son Kiki, now the VP of basketball operations with the NBA, had been a Clipper for a while. He was a kind, wise, generous man.

Ernie Vandeweghe has passed away at the age of 86, the NBA has announced.

He played six seasons with the Knicks following World War II, finishing medical school while he was an NBA player. He averaged 9.5 points and 4.6 rebounds a game in those years. He had been a college star at Colgate.

He was a member of the U.S. Air Force who went on to be the chairman of the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. He was the Lakers’ team doctor when the team first moved to Los Angeles.

His son Kiki was a two-time NBA All-Star in 14 seasons. As noted by the AP, his daughter Tauna competed in the 1976 Montreal Olympics in the backstroke as the U.S. Champion. Another daughter, Heather, was captain the U.S. women’s polo team, while another son Bruk was a professional volleyball player. His granddaughter CoCo is currently the 40th ranked women’s tennis player in the world.

Our thoughts are with his family. He was one of the best people I have met around the NBA.

Likely top three pick Emmanuel Mudiay drops triple-double in China (VIDEO)

World Select Team v USA Junior National Select Team
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You may know Emmanuel Mudiay as the guy who spurned playing for Larry Brown at SMU to go get a paycheck in China this year.

You should also know he is in the top three on every reasonable draft board in America right now (DraftExpress has him at No. 2 right now, behind Jahlil Okafor of Duke and ahead of Karl Towns of Kentucky).

Mudiay is playing for the Guangdong Tigers in China and if you want to know why the 6’5” point guard is so highly sought after, watch this video. Mudiay dropped a triple double in this game with 22 points, 13 assists and 11 rebounds. He’s getting comfortable in a pro game He’s got shooting range, athleticism, good court vision and he’s out there playing against professional men, not boys.

China is not an easy place to play because it is a radically different culture than the USA. Different attitudes, different foods, different everything. There is a very high drop out rate of Americans playing in China. Scouts think if Mudiay plays a full season and sticks with this experience, not only should his game be sharper but it will show a level of maturity that will impress teams more than a cozy season coddled in college (with all due respect to SMU).

He certainly looks good in these highlights.

Anthony Davis with game wining drive to beat Spurs (VIDEO)

New Orleans Pelicans v San Antonio Spurs
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Anthony Davis put up 27 points and 11 boards against the Spurs, which is right in line with the 24.4 points and 12.8 rebounds a game he has averaged against everyone this season. He has been a flat out stud.

But what he needed to add to the resume this season was a game-winning shot.

He got that against San Antonio. In San Antonio.

With 12 seconds and the Pelicans down 1, they inbounded the ball to Davis just above the elbow, he drove right past Aron Baynes and put it off the glass to put the Pelicans up one. They held on for the win.

Davis is going to have a lot more game winners during his career, that was just the first this season.