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

LeBron James

Joe Posnanski writes about LeBron’s homecoming, hope in Cleveland

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For some around the country, the LeBron James homecoming story has played out a little. At least for now, for the grind of the regular season, it will be back for the playoffs. We know that returning to Cleveland/Akron meant a lot to him and it was part of the reason he went back, but there were other reasons as well — a younger, better supporting cast on the court, and also he and his friends/managers have far more power in the organization in Cleveland (it’s Pat Riley’s show in Miami). But it’s the homecoming angle that sells.

And nowhere does it sell like Cleveland. A city that has seen industry change and move out, people move out, and had its sports teams and stars break its heart over and over again.

That’s been written about a lot, but nobody does it as well as NBC’s own Joe Posnanski.

He was at opening night at the Q — the anticlimactic loss to the Knicks — and wrote about Cleveland, hope and forgiveness for NBC’s Sports World site (where you can get a lot of Joe, more long form and video features).

The story of LeBron James’ return will not be written on one game or one week or one month or even six months. Thursday’s appalling letdown game meant no more and no less than Friday’s overtime victory at Chicago, when an inspired James led Cleveland past the one team in the East with the best shot to block the Cavaliers path to glory.

It meant nothing – that’s often the overriding sentiment in the moments after anything. I email my friend Scott Raab, Clevelander, writer, optimist, pessimist, author of the aptly named “The Whore of Akron” about James. He had brought his son to the game. He had cried during the Nike commercial.

He wrote: “Looking back — and I’ve said and written this a thousand times — it was never fair for Cleveland fans, including me, to expect one athlete, however brilliant, to redeem Northeast Ohio’s suffering. Now, the whole effing planet is expecting him to do just that.”

And his very next sentence: “I think Kyrie and LeBron will make beautiful music together.”

Do yourself a favor, go read the entire story. We all want to write like Posnanski.

League fines Tony Allen $15,000 for slapping cameraman

Tony Allen
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Tony Allen is a veteran, he had to know a fine was coming as soon as he did this.

The league cannot have its players randomly hitting cameramen on the sidelines. Doesn’t matter if nobody was hurt, or that Allen apologized, or that the cameraman in question, Bo Bradley, says he was fine and it’s no big deal. It sets a bad precedent. The league announced it had fined Allen on Monday.

Memphis Grizzlies guard Tony Allen has been fined $15,000 for intentionally striking a camera on the baseline during the Grizzlies’ 93-81 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday, Nov. 3, at FedEx Forum, it was announced today by Rod Thorn, President, Basketball Operations.

At the time Allen was clearly frustrated with a call after he had rotated over to help on Omer Asik. Allen walked over to the baseline, then slapped Bradley’s camera.

The league just couldn’t let that go unpunished.

Charles Barkely, Shaq audition for True Detective season 3 (VIDEO)

Oklahoma City Thunder v Miami Heat - Game Three
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I loved the first season of HBO’s True Detective. It’s combination of noir, the rural South, a mystery, philosophizing, literary references, and just some weird ass crap happening put it pretty much in my television wheelhouse. Part of what really made it work was the acting of Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey (I’m not sure Colin Farrell and Vince Vaughn can reach that bar in season two).

Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal are no Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey.

But you have to love this video by Bleacher Report, where they mock audition for season three of the show. Very clever, funny stuff from B/R.

PBT’s NBA Power Rankings: Check out those Golden State Warriors

Klay Thompson, Stephen Curry
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Sorry, but for this week only the PBT Power Rankings are coming out on Tuesday. I was in New York with my wife, who ran the marathon, and I could either go to the Chelsea Market and eat then take a walk on the High Line on a sunny day, or do the rankings. The rankings lost. Badly. But we’re back now on Tuesday and the Golden State Warriors have vaulted to the top with four teams still undefeated around the NBA.

 
source:  1. Warriors (3-0, Last Week No. 7). My question coming into the season was if Steve Kerr could keep the Warriors playing quality defense (they were top five last season). Well, it’s just three games but they have had the best defense in the NBA. Klay Thompson has looked like a guy deserving the max he just got. We’ll have a better picture of this team after a week against the Clippers, Rockets and Suns.

 
source:  2. Grizzlies (4-0, LW 10).  They are undefeated behind the combination of a strong defense (allowing 89.5 points per 100 possessions) and a whole lot of Marc Gasol — 22.5 points on a .606 true shooting percentage plus 8.5 boards a game so far. However, Courtney Lee’s injury hurts, as the lack of outside shooting eventually will catch up with this team.

 
source:  3. Heat (3-0, LW 17). LeBron who? The Heat offense has been impressive to start the season and they picked up wins over Toronto and a depleted Wizards team. Chris Bosh is averaging 25.7 points and 11.3 rebounds a game, reminding you he is a No. 1 offensive option. Interesting tests with the Rockets, Bobcats and Mavericks on the docket this week.

 
source:  4. Rockets (4-0, LW 8). Trevor Ariza has shot the ball well so far, 17.3 points a game plus hitting 59.3 from three. The Rockets play 7 of their first 11 on the road, but the first week was soft (Lakers, Jazz, Celtics, Sixers). That’s about to change — Heat, Spurs and Warriors are up this week.

 
source:  5. Spurs (1-1, LW 1). Not the most impressive first week for the champs, which nobody is reading anything into. What, you doubt this team will find a groove? They have Kawhi Leonard back, Tim Duncan has looked strong, and by the way Tony Parker is knocking down threes (6-of-6 this season so far). Houston ad New Orleans up this week.

 
source:  6. Mavericks (3-1, LW 6). Monta Ellis and Dirk Nowitzki have quickly found their groove from last season while Chandler Parsons is averaging 18.8 a game and shooting 44.4 percent from three. Their only loss was a tight one on the road to the Spurs. Still questions about their defense, but they are winning.

 
source:  7. Clippers (3-1, LW 3). They haven’t really impressed so far. They have lapses of interest and effort (third quarter against the Jazz Monday for example). Do that in the showdown against Golden State on Wednesday and they will get crushed. That said good record to start as they have eight of their first nine games at Staples Center and don’t leave California until Nov. 19.

 
source:  8. Cavaliers (1-1 LW 2). One good, one bad game from LeBron, but the fact he has played 42.5 minutes a night early on catches your eye. That’s a lot of burn. Three games on the road this week, including an interesting one in Portland.

 
source:  9. Bulls (2-1, LW 4). Derrick Rose’s injury had his detractors saying “I told you so” but he came down on Kyrie Irving’s foot, a fluke thing, and he will be back playing on Tuesday. I don’t get why some in Chicago are so eager to hate their own best player. Soft schedule this week.

 
source:  10. Suns (2-1, LW 12). It may be a work in progress, but the Suns three-guard lineup — Goran Dragic, Eric Bledsoe and Isaiah Thomas — sparked the late run that gut them a win over the Spurs. Then they lost to Utah. Up and down team early.

 
source:  11. Raptors (2-1, LW 14). That loss to Miami should have the Raptors looking in the mirror — 15 missed free throws and defensive lapses down the stretch. This team is just not the same when Amir Johnson isn’t in the lineup (he missed against the Heat). Another showdown with Washington Friday night.

 
source:  12. Kings (3-1, LW 22). Three quality wins — the Clippers, the Trail Blazers, and in Denver on the second night of a back-to-back — has people thinking the Kings are going to be better than projected. They’ve got the Suns this week and could steal that team’s “surprising young team in the West” moniker if they keep playing like this.

 
source:  13. Wizards (2-1, LW 15). They had some nice games from Otto Porter (21 the night Paul Pierce got ejected) and the team looks good when John Wall is on the court. Interesting game with the Raptors Friday but a fairly soft schedule early, which is good for them with Bradley Beal still out.

 
source:  14. Knicks (2-1, LW 21). They picked up about as quality a sin as it gets in Cleveland and when they share the ball they offense seems to click. The defense is still a concern, it needs to improve or there will be some ugly losses to balance out their scales.

 
source:  15. Nets (2-1, LW 19). It’s fun to watch owed Mikhail Prokhorov take shots at Jason Kidd, but what really matters is they got Brook Lopez back in the rotation Monday in the win over OKC. Showdown with the Knicks this week but very winnable games on the schedule to get them off to a fast start.

 
source:  16. Hawks (1-1, LW 16). The Hawks are strong where you’d expect — Kyle Korver is knocking down threes and Al Horford remains very good at everything — but they are getting bat on the boards early. As expected, this team just hangs in the middle of the pack in the East so far.

 
source:  17. Thunder (1-3, LW 5).. The schedule maker was not kind to the Thunder to start the season: Already they have seen the Trail Blazers, Clippers and Nets with Brook Lopez back, this week they get the Raptors, Grizzlies and surging Kings. They are bottom five in offense and defense early on.

 
source:  18. Trail Blazers (1-2. LW 9). Rough start to the season for Damian Lillard who is shooting 26.8 overall and has a true shooting percentage of just .439 (it was .568 last season). He’s taking more threes this season — 53.7 percent of his attempts so far — and is hitting just 31.8 percent of those. He’s also just shooting 37.5 percent inside three feet.

 
source:  19. Pelicans (1-2, LW 11). Anthony Davis is a freak, averaging 23.7 points and 13.3 points a game, not to mention 4.3 blocks a night. The problem on the bayou is the rest of the New Orleans offense has all the spice of a rice cake — Tyreke Evans is shooting 39.2 percent, Eric Gordon 25 percent, Ryan Anderson 34 percent and so on.

 
source:  20. Nuggets (1-2, LW 13). It’s early, but this offense should be better than just 94.1 points per 100 possessions, 27th in the league. They are still playing with good pace but just not making plays or knocking down the open looks they do get.

 
source:  21. Hornets (1-2, LW 18). Lance Stephenson’s arrival has not boosted the Hornets offense so far, in fact he frustrated coach Steve Clifford enough to be benched in the fourth against Memphis. He was better against the Knicks, and Al Jefferson is putting up numbers as always, but this team still has a long way to go on that end of the court.

 
source:  22. Pacers (1-2, LW 23). The schedule makers were kind to a team they didn’t know would be broken down, giving them the Sixers, Bucks and Celtics in their first six games. Hasn’t helped them win, although Roy Hibbert has looked more like the guy from a couple years ago.

 
source:  23. Timberwolves (1-2, LW 24). Minnesota has actually outscored its opponents by 1.8 points per 100 possessions through three games, yet struggled late in contests. Meet the new Timberwolves, same as the old Timberwolves.

 
source:  24. Bucks (1-2, LW 27). Defensively, these Bucks are a pretty good team. A surprisingly good team — fifth best in the NBA right now. The offense is the side that needs work, starting with limiting turnovers — 20.8 percent of their possessions have ended in a turnover this season. You can’t just throw away one in five trips down the court.

 
source:  25. Celtics (1-2, LW 28). Impressive win over the Nets to start the season, but then they threw up a brick against Houston. Almost literally, going 1-of-25 from three. What really matters is Rajon Rondo has looked solid (that’s good news whether you’re in the “keep him” or “trade him” camp).

 
source:  26. Jazz (1-3, LW 26). The schedule maker has done no favors for Utah early, they have already played Houston, Dallas, Phoenix and the Clippers, then this week host LeBron and the Cavaliers, then Dallas, then they head out on the road for six of seven.

 
source:  27. Pistons (0-3, LW 20). Detroit’s offense has just been a mess, and it’s not all Josh Smith’s fault (he’s taking fewer threes, but he’s oddly struggling to hit around the rim this week). Stan Van Gundy went out trying to find shooting this summer but with Jodie Meeks injured you get a lot of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (2-of-16) and D.J. Augustin (3-of-13) as the guys who have taken the most threes, and that’s not good.

 
source:  28. Lakers (0-4, LW 25). Their 0-4 start is the worst the franchise has seen since 1957. In Minneapolis. Where the Lakers name made some sense. The reason is their defense, which is 8.7 points per 100 possessions worse than any other team in the league so far. Small sample size alert, but that is crazy bad.

 
source:  29. Magic (0-3, LW 29). There have been flashes, like Nikola Vucevic putting up good numbers and rookie Elfrid Payton having good nights. Still no wins. The schedule maker did them no favors to start the season: 19 of 28 on the road to start the season.

 
source:  30. 76ers (0-4, LW 30). If you want a bright spot, in each of the Sixers four losses they held the lead at one point in the third quarter. But that’s about it, save for Nerlens Noel shutting down James Harden at the rim.

Lance Stephenson said he needs to be more aggressive to get his rhythm back

Charlotte Hornets v New York Knicks 508084169 Charlotte Hornets v New York Knicks
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Lance Stephenson is struggling to start the season. To put it kindly. Another way to say that is he has been Roseanne Barr singing the national anthem bad. He has shot 29.6 percent so far this season. The man has shot just 7-of-13 at the rim, he is 0-of-10 shooting outside the paint. Small sample size and all, but that’s bad. So bad he got benched for the fourth quarter once this season already (last Saturday vs. Memphis).

To be fair, he looked better against the Knicks Sunday — 14 points, nine rebounds and eight assists, he was 4-of-9 shooting, with 12 of the points coming in a strong third quarter, but the fourth saw three Stephenson turnovers and with that more of the Gary Neal show — but still has not looked like the Stephenson the Hornets thought was a steal at $9 million a year last summer.

How does he get on track? Stephenson thinks Stephenson just needs to be more aggressive, something he told Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer.

“I tried to make something happen. I let the game come to me last two games and ended up doing nothing,” Stephenson said. “I need to be more aggressive, be in attack mode.”

With aggressive Stephenson also often comes some turnovers, something Frank Vogel seemed more comfortable with that Steve Clifford does this year. Hence the benching. Which, shockingly, Stephenson did not like (and the Hornets lost the game scoring just 69 points), reports Michael Scotto of SheridanHoops.com. Stephenson also said he’s moved on.

“It’s tough, but it’s part of being a pro,” Stephenson said. “Learning the system, learning new guys, not getting frustrated, keep playing through my mistakes and just trying to get other people involved. I play through instincts and when my players learn my instincts we’ll be a better team.”

The Hornets need the offense. Through three games Charlotte is averaging 91.7 points per 100 possessions, only the Sixers have been worse. Stephenson — along with Kemba Walker and Al Jefferson — were supposed to fix that this season.

They likely will, it’s just going to take a little time. And it won’t be smooth getting there.