Kurt Helin

Detroit Pistons v Indiana Pacers

Paul George still “a ways away,” not playing March 14

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Weeks before Paul George went through his first practice, George himself hoped he wanted to make his return March 14 against Boston. But within hours of saying that, he was backing off that date a little talking to ProBasketballTalk.

“I want to (play this season),” George told PBT during All-Star weekend. “March 1st was the date I wanted to be able to full on practice without limitations or restrictions, and from there see where things go. But mid-March is ideally where I want to be able to make a comeback and play my first game. But it’s so many steps I have to take to get to that point it’s just a date I threw out.”

He’s not going to make that date, according to Pacers coach Frank Vogel. Via Jeremiah Johnson of Fox Sports Indiana.

The Pacers won their sixth game in a row and are now have won 12-of-14, which has them in the playoffs in the East. They have got good ball movement and flow on offense right now. Meaning they don’t need to rush George back for any reason. With him they are a far more dangerous playoff team, but what the Pacers need to think about is getting back to contender status next season and beyond. They need George right for that, not this playoff run.

That said, the Pacers may get an improved George back once he gets his legs under him.

“The only thing that I could have done for three or four months was dribble the basketball and shoot the basketball,” George told PBT last month. “So I definitely think my ball handling, and my shooting has improved, and my strength is improved. Those three were the biggest things I needed to work on going into the next season.”

Five Things We Learned in NBA Tuesday: San Antonio reminds you they are the champs

Gregg Popovich, Kawhi Leonard
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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 trying to find the best way to break in your new baseball glove

1) San Antonio would like to remind you they are the champs (and are playing like it again). We talked about this on PBT Extra Monday — the Spurs are starting to play like the Spurs again. Which should concern other teams out West with title aspirations because the Spurs are the bar to clear. With their comfortable win Tuesday over Toronto, San Antonio has won six in a row. During that streak, they are scoring 112.6 points per 100 possessions (second best in the NBA at that time) while allowing just 95.5 points per 100 (sixth best). It all starts with Tony Parker getting into the paint again — half his shot attempts Tuesday came within eight feet of the rim — and he finished with 23 points and nine assists. Plus, Parker was 6-of-9 on contested shots. However, the real star was Kawhi Leonard with 24 points, 11 rebounds, and five steals. If you’re looking for a highlight, he threw down on Tyler Hansbrough.

2) Meanwhile, the Raptors slide continues unabated. Part of the reason San Antonio looked so good Tuesday was that Toronto looked so awful. Again. The Raptors have now lost 9-of-10, and that one win was against the Sixers. The problem is their defense, which is allowing 109.1 points per 100 possessions in that stretch, 29th in the NBA. Tuesday they scored a respectable 107 points against the Spurs, Kyle Lowry scored 32, but they lost by 10. It’s strange because Dwane Casey has the reputation as a defense-first coach, but this team’s system leaves them in constant mismatches and finds them scrambling as much as any team in the league. The Raptors looked better in the second half; they made their run, but by then it was too late.

3) You can’t throw an alley-oop pass too high for Anthony Davis. Look how high Davis has to go to pull in this pass from Norris Cole. Seriously, so long as it’s in the building he can get it.

4) LeBron became the Cavaliers’ franchise leader in assists. LeBron James moved past Mark Price to become the Cavaliers all-time assist leader when he hit James Jones in the corner, and Jones knocked down a three. That gave LeBron 4,207 assists as a Cav. By the way, he already owns the franchise records for points and steals.

5) Rodney Stuckey? Rodney Stuckey keeps the Pacers train rolling right toward the playoffs. Every once in a while Rodney Stuckey can still get it going, and Tuesday night was one of those times — he came off the bench and shot 6-of-7 for 16 points. And that was just the first quarter. Stuckey had 25 points by the half and finished with 34 points on 13-of-19 shooting. He had one beautiful shot chart on the night.

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The Pacers tied their franchise record wit 17 three-pointers on their way to an easy 118-86 win over Orlando. Indiana has now won six in a row and looks like they should take one of those final two playoff spots in the East. Plus the team will get Paul George back soon, although not by March 14 as he had once hoped. But soon.

If you throw the alley-oop pass in the building Anthony Davis will finish (VIDEO)

Anthony Davis
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Just your daily reminder that Anthony Davis is an unstoppable freak of nature.

He got out on the break with relatively new Pelicans teammate Norris Cole, who threw an alley-oop pass only Davis and Reed Richards could have pulled down. It’s just another insane highlight from Davis.

It wasn’t Davis’ best night overall — 15 points on 16 shots — but the Pelicans had six players with at least a dozen points, plus they went on a 21-3 run late in the second quarter into the start of the third. That was enough. New Orleans beat Brooklyn by 20 and stay in the playoff mix in the West.

Vlade Divac on Kobe Bryant: “He’s definitely, by far, the best talent that I ever, ever played with”

Kobe Bryant (L) of the Los Angeles Lakers has his
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Vlade Divac is back in the NBA. That’s a very good thing.

He’s one of the pioneers of Europeans coming to the NBA and having success, having been a key part of the Lakers and Kings. He was an All-Star in 2001 and a guy known for a polished offensive game both back to the basket and from the midrange, his passing, smoking cigarettes, and flopping. He was eventually appreciated in Los Angeles (it was not easy to replace Kareem) but he was beloved in Sacramento, where he has returned to work with the organization’s basketball operations.

Divac also is remembered as the guy the Lakers traded for Kobe Bryant. Charlotte drafted Bryant on a pre-arranged deal to send him West. Which is why it was interesting when Divac sat down with the USA Today’s Sam Amick and said this about Kobe.

“It was a lovely story that I finished my career with Kobe, with somebody who I was traded for. I have a lot of respect for the guy. I think he’s definitely, by far, the best talent that I ever, ever played with. (It’s) obviously very close with Magic (Johnson) and Chris Webber, Glen Rice and Peja Stojakovic — it’s unbelievable experience for me to have a teammate like that next to me.”

More talented than Magic? That is high praise.

You should also read Divac’s comments on flopping — he says he did it because it was the only way he could defend the man-child that was Shaq, but he doesn’t like where it is in the game now.

Seattle teen wrote every NBA team asking why he should root for them. Only Minnesota responded.

JSFt18Q
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When was the last time you sent a letter? Not an email, an actual letter, on paper, with a stamp and everything.

One Seattle area teen recently sent out 30 letters, one to each NBA franchise asking why he should be a fan of their team (since it could be a little while before Seattle gets a team again). This was no form letter, each one was handwritten and included a drawing of the team logo. Here is what 16-year-old Connor posted on Reddit.

The Timberwolves were the only ones to respond to my letters!

Not only respond, they sent a letter with 10 reasons to be a Timberwolves fan — which was heavy on Andrew Wiggins related answers, as it should be — but also an autographed ball. Sure, the ball is a few years old (no Wiggins or Kevin Garnett signatures, but it did have Luke Ridnour) but still they responded and sent a ball.

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That is how you win a fan for life. Or at least until a team moves to Seattle. Well done, Minnesota.

Conner said he would be a Wolves fan on Reddit.

I’m probably not switching teams though because a response may be an attempt to compensate for this reddit post. Needless to say, I’m a Timberwolves fan now!”