Kurt Helin

NBA All-Star Portraits 2015

Dwyane Wade to miss All-Star Game due to hamstring issue

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Averaging 21.4 points per game and with a PER of 22.4, Dwyane Wade deserved the All-Star spot the coaches gave him as a reserve.

But he is going to skip the game due to an ongoing hamstring injury, he announced Tuesday.

Miami is currently the eight seed in the West, one game ahead of nine seed Brooklyn and two-and-a-half up on Detroit. While the Heat and Charlotte are tied for the seven/eight seed spots, Charlotte went out on Tuesday and improved its roster to make sure it would get into the playoffs. If there is a team with a target on its back, it’s Miami.

The Heat need Wade back to avoid that fate.

Wade’s absence opens up an All-Star roster spot, to be filled by appointment by Commissioner Adam Silver. As he did with injuries to Kobe Bryant and Blake Griffin in the West, expect Silver to select whoever was next in line on the coaches secret ballots to fill the All-Star reserves.

That most likely is Atlanta sharpshooter Kyle Korver. He is the glue for the top-seeded Hawks, averaging 12.9 points a game and shooting a ridiculous 52.8 percent from three this season. When he is on the court, the Hawks are 12.8 points better per 100 possessions.

If not Korver it likely goes to either the Bucks improved guard Brandon Knight or — in my opinion the more deserving — Nikola Vucevic of the Orlando Magic.

Dominique Wilkins tells brilliant Larry Bird trash talk story

Boston Celtics vs Atlanta Hawks, 1988 NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals
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Larry Bird is one of the legendary trash talkers in NBA history.

Dominique Wilkins, the Human Highlight Reel and Hawks legend turned broadcaster (and team VP), seems to have great stories about everyone he played against back in the day.

With the East leading Hawks swinging through Boston this week, Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald got Wilkins talking and telling stories about Bird. Remember those two had some epic playoff battles, including one of the all-time greats back in 1988.

Wilkins had a new story about Bird’s legendary lip, talking about the 1983 season when Dominique was a rookie and Bird was a champion and at the top of his trash talking game.

“One of the first times I ever played against him, I went out for the opening tip and I went to shake his hand. He just stood there and looked at me stone-faced with his hands behind his back,” Wilkins said recently.

“I was like, ‘Whoa.’ Then we were getting ready for the tip and he says to me, ‘You don’t belong in this league, Homes.’ I couldn’t believe it, but it happened so fast, I didn’t know what to think.

“Then they had the ball and I was on him and he said, ‘I don’t know why they got you guarding me, Homes. You can’t guard me.’ Then, whap, he hit a 3. Then he came down again and said, ‘They made a mistake putting you on me, Homes,’ and he took another 3.”

Wilkins was a prideful player, admits he was getting hot.

“Then a little while later, I came down on a break and he was backpedaling. I just went right after him. I jumped up and he tried to challenge, but I took that right through the rim. He fell and hit the basket support.

“He got up and said, ‘I like you, rookie. You’ve got (guts).’ I was happy for a second, and then he said, ‘But I’m still going for 40 on you tonight.’ ”

He then paused the story, stepped back and smiled.

“But I got him,” Wilkins said. “He only scored 39.”

Classic Bird.

 

 

Kenneth Faried with breakaway windmill slam (VIDEO)

Oklahoma City Thunder v Denver Nuggets
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There are not a lot of reasons to watch Denver Nuggets games right now — save for the train wreck factor of a team in free fall — but Kenneth Faried can still provide a few highlights.

Faried and Ty Lawson jumped on a pass to Serge Ibaka near the top of the key, stripped him of the ball, then it was off to the races for Faried, who finished with authority.

The game itself went about like you’d expect, the Thunder opened on a 15-4 run and never looked back. This game never felt in doubt, and Kevin Durant made sure of that with 40 points on 19 shots.

Five Things We Learned in NBA Monday: Anthony Davis plans to play in All-Star Game, Carmelo isn’t so sure

Oklahoma City Thunder v New Orleans Pelicans
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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 pointing out some egregious mistakes in the new J-Lo movie

1) Anthony Davis still plans to play in All-Star Game. Anthony Davis sat out Monday night’s Pelicans’ loss to the Jazz because of a grade 1 sprained shoulder after his nasty fall. (That’s the kind of loss that is going to make it hard for the Pelicans to catch the Suns and make the playoffs, but that’s another story.) The good news is Davis plans to be in New York this weekend and play in Sunday’s All-Star game, something mentioned both during the broadcast of the game and in several postgame reports. Whew. He has been the NBA’s best player this season at age 21, and the game would not be the same without the league’s fastest rising star.

2) Carmelo Anthony may not. Carmelo would have shut it down for the season and had knee surgery already if he did not so badly want to play host as the All-Star Game comes to New York City. But Monday night midway through the fourth quarter he extended his knee while planting to go up for a turnaround jumper and aggravated his already sore left knee. ‘Melo left the game, not to return. He is now unsure if he will be able to go in Sunday’s game. After Sunday, I’d but the under/over on games Anthony plays before he shuts it down for the season at 2.5. And I’d bet the under.

3) Kevin Durant is unstoppable. The All-Star game is an exhibition that is supposed to showcase the NBA’s best — Monday night is exhibit A as to  why you need to have Durant in that showcase. Even if he’s only played in 25 games this season. He dropped 40 points on 19 shots on the Nuggets, including hitting 7-of-10 threes from above the break. When he get going like this there’s nothing you can do.

4) DeAndre Jordan played like a guy who will get paid this summer (and he will). DeAndre Jordan is going to get a max or near max contract from the Clippers next summer and a lot of people are going to shake their heads when it happens. There are two reasons it will happen, and the way he absolutely owned the paint against Dallas Monday is one of them — he had 20 points and 27 rebounds, 11 of them offensive. He can be a force of nature on the court. Jordan is by no means a great shooter, but he knows what he can’t do (shoot jumpers) and avoids it. Of Jordan’s 12 shots, 11 were at the rim. He also had three blocks on the night. The second reason Jordan is going to get paid next July is pure basketball economics: The Clippers are already pushing the salary cap for next season without re-signing him. If they let him walk, they can’t come close to replacing the quality he brings to the court with the money they will have left. So the Clippers, who have Jordan’s Bird rights and can go over the cap to keep him, will outbid everyone else. Steve Ballmer can afford the tax.

5) Gregg Popovich has the formula down for winning 1,000 games. Get good players, stick around a long time. Like it’s just that easy. (Note to Sacramento, Orlando and a number of other struggling franchises — notice what consistency of a system can do for you?)

Pelicans’ Anthony Davis out Monday night due to shoulder injury

Anthony Davis
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After a fall that nasty, Anthony Davis and the Pelicans — not to mention basketball fans everywhere — are lucky he has just a sprained shoulder. He is officially day-to-day.

That said, New Orleans’ Mr. Everything is out Monday night against Utah.

The Pelicans are not anywhere near the same team on either end without Davis — Chicago went almost instantly on a 10-0 run when Davis went down in the second quarter. The Bulls outscored the Pelicans by more than 30 points the rest of the game.

Utah has been difficult to defeat all season (they’ve lost a lot of games but have been competitive), this will be a tough test for the Pelicans. But if they want to stay in the West playoff chase this is the kind of game they need even with Davis out.

It is unclear when Davis will return, or if he will play in the All-Star Game this weekend in New York, where the fans voted him in as a starter.