Kurt Helin

San Antonio Spurs v Toronto Raptors

James Johnson throws down on the Birdman (VIDEO)

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Miami’s slide down the Eastern standings continued at the hands of Toronto on Friday night. The Raptors took control in the second quarter and cruised to a comfortable win. A win they really need.

The highlight of things going right for the Raptors for a night? James Johnson attacking the rim and throwing down on Chris Andersen.

Russell Westbrook records another triple-double, OKC beats Minnesota

Russell Westbrook, Zach LaVine
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Sure, Russell Westbrook needed to campaign for this one a little, that doesn’t mean he didn’t earn it.

Westbrook recorded his eighth triple-double of the season Friday night, putting up 29 points, grabbing 10 rebounds and dishing out 12 assists. Westbrook had eight points and four assists in the first quarter, but he took over in the fourth, scoring 15 and putting the game out of reach.

If you want to nitpick, Westbrook almost had a quadruple double because of his eight turnovers. But in the end he led the Thunder to another much-needed victory — with it they are tied with the Pelicans for the eighth and final playoff spot in the West.

Westbrook continues to keep his name at the forefront of the MVP race with performances like this as well. But what the Thunder need is Westbrook to help get them wins. Besides, if the Thunder don’t make the playoffs the MVP trophy is not going to be awarded in Oklahoma City again this year.

Hassan Whiteside says personal situation to blame for recent outbursts

New York Knicks v Miami Heat
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Hassan Whiteside’s game has matured, which has led to a breakout season in Miami.

So what is with the recent moments of immaturity? First there was the wrestling match with Alex Len that led to an ejection. That was followed by a cheap shot on Boston’s Kelly Olynyk which led to Whiteside getting suspended for a game. Whiteside called that the worst 12 hours of his life.

So what was going on? Whiteside told Jason Lieser of the Palm Beach Post the issues were personal.

“I just had a lot going on in my personal life. I don’t really want to speak on it. It won’t happen again.”

So what will happen in the future when you get angry with an opponent?

“I’ll just try to walk away. Retaliating is not the answer in this league. I just kinda hope my coaches and my teammates and the ref can keep me safe. Retaliating and trying to get back at people is not the answer.”

Sometimes fans shake their heads at this stuff, but the truth is situations in our personal life impact all of us on the job. We may try to leave it at home, but we also know we are just not the same on the job when something dramatic or traumatic is going on in our personal life.

Pro athletes are no different.

Hopefully, Whiteside learned a lesson about controlling your emotions, as hard as that can be. He called Olynyk to appologize, and the Celtics’ big man seemed to get through to him, saying don’t risk your career because you got up in the moment. Good advice, that.

Quote of the Day: Kyrie Irving credits Kobe Bryant for game-tying three

Cleveland Cavaliers v Los Angeles Lakers
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Kyrie Irving has been the story of the NBA since he went off for 57 points and was responsible for the Cavaliers beating the Spurs Thursday night in a nationally televised game.

Irving was just on — the Spurs contested 30 of Irving’s 32 shots, but he was hitting them anyway. That includes two threes that sent the game into overtime when it seemed the Spurs had it locked up (and they would have if Kawhi Leonard had hit a free throw).

Interesting to see Irving credit Kobe Bryant for keeping the focus on form under pressure. He has learned that lesson well.

Trailer out for Yahoo’s new streaming comedy about a Las Vegas pro hoops team

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I know what you’re thinking: Why do we need an NBA comedy show when we already have the Lakers and the Knicks?

Because Yahoo is trying to be funny, rather than just having the season get away from them. Yahoo is getting into the streaming, scripted show market, and one of their new shows is “Sin City Saints” about a fictional professional basketball team in Las Vegas.

The show features former NBA players Rick Fox and Baron Davis, plus Malin Akerman, Tom Arnold and Andrew Santino. From executive producer Mike Tollin (“One Tree Hill,” “Smallville,” “Varsity Blues”), Bryan Gordon, Chris Case, and Mandalay Sports Media,

It premieres Monday, March 23 exclusively on Yahoo Screen.