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

Nerlens Noel, Josh Smith

Josh Smith dunks all over Nerlens Noel (VIDEO)


I love that Nerlens Noel’s instinct was to go after that and try to block it.

But welcome to the NBA rookie. He’s not strong enough or ready to stop someone with the power of Josh Smith going to the rim.

Smith had a monster game — 17 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists and five hockey assists (his pass led to another pass that led to a bucket). He did it a little bit of everything in the Pistons 109-103 victory.

PBT Extra: Miami leads teams taking step back this season

Miami Heat Media Day

When you lose the best player walking the face of the earth, your team gets worse.

Which is why when Jenna Corrado and I discussed teams I expect to take a step back this season, Miami is right at the top of the list. The Heat will still be good, they are still a playoff team in the East, but they are no longer the contenders they once were.

Another team obviously taking a step back is Indiana, a team that struggled on offense and now is without Lance Stephenson (left via free agency) and Paul George (injury). Going to be a rough season in Indy.

Finally, we talk Rockets. They are still a 50-win team, but they lost so much depth that it will cost them some games. And in the brutally deep West, that drops you fast down the standings.

NBA unveils new replay center, will have it ready on opening night

NBA replay center

It’s one of the things that drags out games, particularly the last two minutes of NBA games: The referees stroll over to the scorers table, flip around a monitor, put on headsets and start asking for replays of who the ball went out of bounds off, or if a shooter’s foot was on the three point line or not, or whatever is in question.

This season things should be faster — check out the NBA’s new Replay Center, which it unveiled on Thursday.

It will be fully operational for opening night Oct. 28. Looking like a NASA launch center, the room has 20 replay stations and 94 television monitors, plus the NBA tells us it is “directly connected to all 29 NBA arenas, streamlining the process of instant replay video review.”

Here’s why this is better than the old system: By the time the referees stroll over and flip the monitor around, the fine folks working the replay center will already have cued up multiple camera angles of the play in question, and can show those angles simultaneously on the screen (a replay official in the center is dedicated to each game). The replay official also can zoom in as needed on a part of the video. The in-arena referee will more quickly see the best angle, make the call and everything moves on.

However, the head referee still make the decision.

“The new state-of-the-art NBA Replay Center will not only help our officials get more calls correct by giving them enhanced views of the action, but will also help them do their jobs in a more expeditious manner,” Rod Thorn, NBA President, Basketball Operations, said in a released statement.

You’re still going to disagree with calls… yes, we’re looking at you, Doc Rivers. The league is going to try to be more transparent about those calls.

As part of this replay center, the league will have a replay video archive online (at NBA.com/replay). That will have the video of the incident and a link to the explanation of the rule. This is going to be a searchable database. Their goal is to have these videos up quickly and tweet out the results of controversial calls.

It’s going to have bugs, we’re all still going to disagree with calls, but this is another step in the right direction. The NBA under Adam Silver has been much more transparent about officiating — such as publicly saying when an official made a mistake — and that’s what we need. As long as the games are officiated by humans there will be mistakes.

Of course, this new replay center brings us that much closer to Skynet, and with that there will be no need for human officials.

Suns rookie T.J. Warren fractures thumb, no timetable on return

2014 NBA Rookie Photo Shoot
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Rookie T.J. Warren is a great fit in Phoenix — he is already an aggressive and polished scorer in transition, and the Suns like to get out and run. He is going to get some run behind Marcus Morris and P.J. Tucker, and by the middle to end of the season he will have some nice nights.

Well, once he gets back from an injury.

Warren suffered a fractured thumb and is going to miss some time, the team announced late Wednesday night. Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic has all the details.

The Suns learned Wednesday night that small forward T.J. Warren’s injured left thumb suffered a fracture….

Warren suffered the injury during Tuesday night’s preseason win against the Lakers. He originally thought his left thumb got caught in an opponent’s jersey but video showed it jamming into a Lakers player.

There currently is no timetable for his return. The Suns would like to have him back for the start of the season with Tucker suspended the first three games.

Announcement: Pro Basketball Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $200,000 Fantasy Basketball league for October 29th’s games. It’s $25 to join and first prize is $20,000. Starts at 7pm ET on October 29th. Here’s the FanDuel link.

The Suns have had a rash of hand injuries to players this preseason. Alex Len fractured a finger while Anthony Tolliver needed stitches after a deep cut, but both of them have returned to preseason action in the valley of the Sun.

Carmelo Anthony hits game winner for Knicks over Wizards (VIDEO)

Washington Wizards v New York Knicks

Phil Jackson said this at ESPNNewYork about Carmelo Anthony in the triangle:

“There’ll be plenty of iso opportunities for Melo, and in the triangle it’ll be very difficult for defenses to double-team him.”

There was one with the game on the line Wednesday night when the Knicks took on the Wizards. The game was tied 100-100 and after trying to run a set they just gave ‘Melo the ball and left side and let him go to work. It was one-on-one, no help, no one game in support.

He nailed a contested jumper. The Knicks went on to win 103-100.

Anthony had 30 on the night.