Kurt Helin

Houston Rockets v Portland Trail Blazers

Rockets’ Terrence Jones spent night in hospital, out “a while” with rib injury

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It happened in the middle of the first quarter: In the scramble for a loose ball, Wilson Chandler pushed the Rockets’ Terrence Jones, who fell forward and hit his ribs on the knee of Kenneth Faried.

Jones left the game not to return and spent Thursday night at the hospital for observation.

Fortunately it doesn’t appear to be anything worse than that, but Jones likely misses a few games for this. He will be missed as he has had some strong games recently, such as 16 points against the Clippers and 17 against the Trail Blazers.

Three Things We Learned in NBA Thursday: It’s not always pretty, but Harden is serious MVP candidate

James Harden
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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 your NCAA Tournament bracket go up in flames…

1) James Harden gives us 50 reasons he’s an MVP candidate. If you’re going to base your MVP choice on who has the most aesthetically pleasing game, pick Stephen Curry. James Harden’s game isn’t pretty. He isn’t the explosive athlete that Russell Westbrook is. Yet Harden is effective — very effective. He dropped a career-high 50 points on the improved Nuggets, shooting 12-of-27 and getting to the free throw line 25 times (hitting 22). That’s what he does; he attacks and you can’t guard him without fouling. It’s not always pretty, just look at is shot chart.

source:

However, thanks to Harden the Rockets have held on to the three seed in the West without Dwight Howard in the lineup. That’s Harden. That’s the work of a guy you have to consider for MVP.

2) Ugly game sets Pelicans’ playoff chances back. And the game of basketball. The Pelicans won four in a row without Anthony Davis not all that long ago, but if you watched the Suns and the Pelicans play Thursday you’d have to ask “how?”Here is all you need to know about the New Orleans vs. Phoenix game: The Suns shot 34.9 percent overall and 9.1 percent from three and won. The real issue for the Pelicans was this is the kind of game they really needed, they are now one game back of the Thunder for that final playoff spot in the West (and the Thunder likely get Kevin Durant back this week).

3) Utah keeps racking up wins since All-Star Game. The Jazz are now 12-4 since the All-Star break and have played the best defense in the league during that time. That said hopefully you watched Kentucky’s game, or caught up on the new season of House of Cards, or something else rather than watching this game. It wasn’t pretty. Utah won 80-73 behind 22 from Gordon Hayward, and the Jazz will take the win. Now let us never speak of this game again.

James Harden drops career-high 50 on Nuggets (VIDEO)

Denver Nuggets v Houston Rockets
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James Harden kept making his MVP case Thursday night — he dropped a career-high 50 points on the Denver Nuggets in a needed Rockets win. With the victory, the Rockets move a game up on Portland for the No. 3 seed in the West.

Harden did his damage all game long and in the most Harden of ways — he attacked, he got to the rim, and he got to the line. He was 12-of-27 shooting but was 22-of-25 from the free throw line. Just look at his shot chart.

source:  One of those corner threes was the 50 you see in the video above.

He also did this.

PBT Extra: Just how great is Golden State’s home court advantage?

Stephen Curry
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Today’s PBT Extra focuses on some of the storylines from Wednesday night in the NBA, and that starts with the fact Golden State blew out Atlanta up in the Bay Area. That got Jenna Corrado wondering, just how good is Golden State’s home court advantage?

After that, we talk about the run that Dwyane Wade is on right now, followed by what we should expect out of Kevin Love going forward in Cleveland (that’s a hard question to answer).

NBA prospects in NCAA Tournament: Seven guys to watch Thursday/Saturday

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The NCAA Tournament, with its orgy of games the first weekend, is a hoops junkie’s dream. It is also when a lot of fans of an NBA team — particularly lottery-bound NBA teams — fall in love with a particular player they hope their team can draft come June. NBA scouts and GMs already have far more formulated opinions on players by this point; they want to see how players react to better competition, and under the pressure of a lose-and-go-home situation.

While watching your bracket disintegrate (you know it will), here seven NBA prospects to keep an eye on from the Thursday/Saturday games. We reached out for some expert opinions from Ed Isaacson of Rotoworld and NBADraftBlog, as well as Rob Dauster of our NBC sister site CollegeBasketballTalk.

Of course, any tour of potential draft picks starts in Kentucky.

1) Karl Towns, Kentucky: Half of the most-watched front line in college ball, Towns is a potential No. 1 pick (depending on who lands the top spot in the lottery). He’s got an NBA body, and defensively is solid on-ball, plus can block shots and protect the rim. Offensively he knows how to score in the post, but also he shoots 82 percent from the free throw line and shows that he could have an impressive midrange game (or beyond) game as well. He could take a couple years to develop but in three to five years could be the best player out of this class.

From Ed Isaacson: “He can move. In a lot of ways, he moves like a wing when he gets the ball in his hands. And he’s skilled. He’s a very skilled player, especially on the offensive end. When he gets the ball, he has a lot of options. He can back you down, he can face you up.”

2) Willie Cauley-Stein, Kentucky: It’s hard not to love his athleticism and defense — he’s a 7-footer who can show out off a pick and switch onto a guard without losing a beat. He is the key reason Kentucky’s defense is fearsome, plus he can get back and block shots. His offense is raw, but think of Cauley-Stein like a more athletic Nerlens Noel.

From Ed Isaacson: “If you’re going to have him on the floor at the NBA level you’re going to have some things you have to work around. But in terms of a raw, long, athletic big guy it doesn’t get any better than him in this draft.”

3) Devin Booker, Kentucky: This is a 6’5” two guard who could slip down draft boards after the combine — he’s not long, he’s not mind-blowingly athletic. But the name of the game is getting the leather ball through the metal ring, and that Booker can do that — he is a pure shooter. He provides the floor spacing that the Wildcats need with those bigs.

From Ed Isaacson: “He’s probably a better athlete than people give him credit for. He’s a very good defender, especially out on the perimeter he can contain…. What makes Booker so attractive is the guy can shoot. There are very few shooters like him in this draft. Whether it’s off the dribble, off the catch, coming off screens, he’s as competent a shooter as you’re going to see in this group.”

4) D’Angelo Russell, Ohio State: He is a guy who can score — 19.3 points a game, shoots 41 percent from three — but also is a gifted passer with great court vision. He’s also a big guard at 6’5” and it’s easy to put him in the Russell Westbrook mold of combo guards (although he’s not Westbrook athletic).

From Ed Isaacson: “I’m not as high on him as a lot of people. A lot of teams have found ways to be successful in pretty much stopping him — in all aspects, whether it be distributing the ball or scoring…. In games against the top 60 we’re talking about a guy who was shooting 36-37 percent, even less from three, was getting his assists but also was turning the ball over a lot more…. On the bright side, in a big spot he wants the ball, very aggressive, always looking to make something happen.”

5) Jerian Grant, Notre Dame. He’s one of the top two seniors in this NBA draft (along with Frank Kaminsky of Wisconsin), and his game seems to have matured after missing the end of last season due to academic issues. At ND, he has shown both the ability to score and set up teammates.

From Ed Isaacson: “The Notre Dame offense runs through him, and after he had to leave for a year he definitely came back with a different mindset, becoming more aggressive. He’s done very well in pick-and-roll situations, especially finding guys — although it helps a lot when you have the shooters Notre Dame has on the perimeter… The problem with Grant is there is still a lot of that dribbling around, waiting to make something happen, which you see more in younger point guards. The thing that separates Grant though is you can move him over to the two — he’s a very good perimeter shooter, he can attack from the wing… the problem is he doesn’t have a lot of those natural point guard skills.”

6) Stanley Johnson, Arizona: At 6’8”, 240 he comes with an NBA body, and that plus his defensive skill set will make him a Top 10 pick for sure (DraftExpress has him No. 5 currently). This is not a guy with the perimeter shot or finishing skills to come in and put up numbers immediately in the NBA, but he has the potential to get there.

From Rob Dauster: “Stanley is a tough, versatile and physical wing. I think he has he potential to be an excellent defender at the NBA level, and his perimeter stroke has looked better as the season has progressed. He had a bit of an attitude issue early in the year, but he’s seemed to embrace the role he’s been asked to play now. My biggest concern with Johnson is his ability to finish around the rim. He tends to struggle finishing against length.”

7) Myles Turner, Texas: This guy passes the eye test as an NBA big at 6’11” and with a solid frame. He has a good shooting touch and plays a very high IQ game — he reads plays well. What holds him back is a lack of athleticism that could be exposed at the next level.

From Rob Dauster: “I love Turner’s skill set. He’s 6-foot-11 with long arms and solid timing when it comes to blocking shots, but he also has a nice stroke for someone his size. He hits three at the college level and can probably extend that range to the NBA line. He’s never going to be a bruising low post player, but he’s got a good feel for where he is around the paint and has shown off a nice turnaround/faceup jumper. But the concern with Turner is that he just doesn’t move all that well. He runs like it’s painful, and that’s never a good thing to hear about a freshman you’re going to invest millions into.”