Kurt Helin

Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry West

PBT Extra: In honor of Atlanta, what are greatest streaks in NBA history?

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The Atlanta Hawks had a perfect month of January — they are the first team in NBA history to have a perfect month, going 17-0. Not the Showtime Lakers, not the Jordan Bulls of 72 wins, nobody had a perfect month.

That got us talking at PBT: What are the greatest streaks in NBA history?

I put together my list of a top five, which I lay out here.

What is your Top 5? Put them in the comments.

Kevin Durant out again Wednesday night with toe injury

Kevin Durant
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If the Thunder are going to make a charge into the playoffs, there are some games coming up that matter more than others. The next two are those kinds of games — a home-and-home against Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Pelicans.

They will have to win the first leg of that Wednesday without Kevin Durant.

The reigning MVP has missed three of the last four Thunder games due to a big toe injury and will be out Wednesday night on the road in the Big Easy, reports Darnell Mayberry of the Oklahoman.

This is not a shock, Durant didn’t practice on Tuesday with the team, but it’s still a blow.

Announcement: Pro Basketball Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $600,000 Fantasy Basketball league for Wednesday’s NBA games. It’s $25 to join and first prize is $50,000. Starts at7pm ET on WednesdayHere’s the FanDuel link.

The Thunder are three games back of the current eight seed in the West, the Phoenix Suns. The Pelicans are the team in between the Thunder and Suns, just one back of Phoenix. If the Thunder plan to jump the Pelicans, these are the games they need.

LeBron James: “If it helped our team win, I’d come off the bench”

LeBron James
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From the “things I can say with impunity because it will never, ever happen” file we bring you….

LeBron James came back to Cleveland to win and bring a title to Ohio (and play with a better team, and have more power in the organization, but that’s not the narrative we’re spinning here). And they are finally winning after LeBron took some time off and the Cavaliers traded for a solid rim protector, they have rattled off 11 victories in a row.

LeBron would do just about anything to keep that going, include coming off the bench. From my man Chris Haynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

“For me being the leader of the team, it doesn’t matter. Whatever this team needs in order for this team to win, I’ll come off the bench and I’m serious,” James said. “I’ll come off the bench. If it helps our team, that’s what it’s about, man.”

“No. No. He’s doing fine where he is,” Blatt said. “He’s doing quite fine.”

Two quick thoughts.

I believe LeBron. He is fully in legacy mode right now — he already is a lock Hall of Famer who will go down as the most gifted and one of the great players the game has ever seen. The only questions left is where he will stand on the all-time ladder when it is all over (and you cannot answer that question right now, despite how hard some people want to try). If LeBron thought he could get more rings as a sixth man, he’d honestly do it without complaint.

Second, his statement is moot. It’s like Pete Carroll saying he’s going to be the next president of the United States — he can say it all he wants, it will not become a reality. (After the end of the Super Bowl you want to trust him with decisions on ISIS?)
Lovely sentiment by LeBron, however. We’ll see how he feels about it near the end of his career, not at its peak.

Gregg Popovich says he is not Marshawn Lynch of NBA (because he’s not)

Oklahoma City Thunder v San Antonio Spurs -Game Two
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Somehow, Marshawn Lynch not wanting to open up to the mass media became a thing Super Bowl week. Personally, I don’t get it. Or care. From where I sit he has the right not to talk. He could have handled it more professionally, but I honestly don’t get how that became a big story.

Around the NBA Lynch’s style did lead to some discussion of “who is the NBA’s Marshawn Lynch?” Russell Westbrook tried to earn some votes, but the most common answer was Spurs coach Gregg Popovich. He of the withering in-game interviews, he of the no tolerance for stupid questions. I find Popovich the curmudgeon amusing, not everyone sees it that way.

Sam Amick, as part of a much longer interview about Tim Duncan’s future, asked Popovich if he was the NBA’s Lynch. Popovich rightly denied it.

A: The only time I’m uncooperative is the end of the first or third quarter. Other than that, I do interviews and laugh it up with everybody all the time. I just have a philosophical difference with the NBA, and I let them know it every time. But that’s like 1% of the interviews that I do.

Q: Have you argued to have those after-quarter interviews eliminated?

A: Oh, Sure. Hell, I bring it up every year at the head coaches meeting in Chicago, when all the head coaches are there and TNT and ESPN and all the representatives. I raise my hand every year, and I say, “Well guys, you know what I’m going to say. I don’t understand why we have to do this, to subject the coaches and the questioners to this little period of idiocy. They (the TV people) are in our timeouts the entire game. They have cameras in our timeouts. They hear everything we say. They have microphones and they can use anything they want — you know, we trust them. So if they have total access like that, this end of first and third quarter actually takes us away from our job.” And that’s my philosophical difference with them.

I said, “I’m supposed to be setting the defense and offense to start the next quarter, and I can’t do my job because I’m doing this inane deal with whoever is asking me a question.” The questions are unanswerable. It’s like, “That quarter, you got killed on the boards. What are you going to do about it?.” “Well, I’m going to conduct a trade during timeouts.” Or, “I’m going to ask them nicely to do a better job on the boards.” The questions just demand a trite quip, or something, so I just say, “You know, it just puts everybody in a stupid position.” And (NBA officials) listen to it, and then they go, “Yeah, well (blabbering).” And then they don’t do anything about it. So I just do what I do.

I don’t have a problem with this either (and I’ve gotten the trite quip from Popovich before for a poorly phrased question). I understand his reluctance to do these interviews, but they also aren’t going anywhere.

Honestly, you kind of have to respect that he will not just play along because everyone expects him to.

Damian Lillard gets up, throws down on Rudy Gobert (VIDEO)

Utah Jazz v Portland Trail Blazers
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Damian Lillard is fearless when he attacks the rim. So what if there is a 7’1″ center and good shot blocker in the way, he’s going straight to the rim looking to finish with authority.h

Which he did right over Utah’s Rudy Gobert in the Trail Blazers’ one-point win over the Jazz Tuesday night.

Gobert, who allows teams to shoot just 37.1 percent at the rim when he is on the floor (an incredibly stat), stood up for himself on twitter.