Kurt Helin

Portland Trail Blazers v Golden State Warriors

Referee Mike Callahan with classy gesture to make child’s day (VIDEO)

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Let’s be honest, you didn’t catch this when it happened because you didn’t watch the Knicks and Lakers play Sunday. Heck, even ESPN decided not to air the game in favor of showing nearly month-old footage from Chris Paul’s celebrity bowling event.

Referee Mike Callahan made a classy move. The Knicks (like almost every NBA team) throws (or shoots) team shirts into the stands at one point, except on Sunday some Knicks fan threw theirs back onto the court while the game was in play. Not cool — I get not wanting the shirt, but come on now. Callahan picked up the shirt, took it to the sidelines and handed it to this little boy, making his day.

The Knicks went on to win the game and Carmelo Anthony had a big night with 31 points and a huge dunk.

Carmelo Anthony has big dunk, big game against Lakers (VIDEOS)

Los Angeles Lakers v New York Knicks
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Everybody may have been focused on Phoenix and the football game there Sunday, but there was a matinée in New York City — the Lakers were in town to take on the Knicks at Madison Square Garden. It was a game that generated so much interest ESPN dropped its broadcast a week ago in favor or showing footage from Chris Paul’s celebrity bowling event.

Carmelo Anthony still put on a show.

He skied for the dunk above and put up 31 in an easy Knicks win 92-80 (it wasn’t that close, the Lakers closed the game on an 11-2 run). Carmelo had it going.

NBA players are as confused as you on why Seahawks would pass with game on line

AMFOOT - NFL - SUPERBOWL
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It was a strange call. A bad call.

If you were a Seattle Seahawk fan (or just were invested in them) you yelled it at the television in your living room or at your friends in the bar — Seattle had arguably the best short yardage back in the NFL waiting for a handoff to try to win them the Super Bowl and beat the Patriots, why throw a slant pass into a crowded line of scrimmage?

You weren’t alone — NBA players were tweeting out their confusion and frustration as well. Starting with Seattle native Jamal Crawford, who expressed the pain of a city.

Even guys who grew up watching soccer were even confused.

But not every NBA player was sad.

Three Things We Learned in NBA Sunday: Yes, there were NBA games on Super Bowl Sunday

Los Angeles Lakers v New York Knicks
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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 wondering what Pete Carroll/Darrell Bevell were thinking…

1) The Knicks and Lakers are so bad ESPN decided to run bowling instead. The two biggest name teams from the two biggest television markets in the nation played Sunday and nobody wanted to watch. Well, maybe not nobody but so few people that a week ago ESPN decided to change their broadcast schedule and drop this game in favor of showing a taped, edited version of Chris Paul’s charity bowling tournament from almost one month ago. Basically ESPN bet that old footage of guys like Lil Wayne and Nick Cannon bowling would draw better ratings than the Knicks and Lakers. And it’s hard to argue that. They were probably right.

2) Carmelo Anthony can still get up for a dunk. Way up. When you think of the very best alley-oop finishers in the NBA, ‘Melo is not really the first name that pops into your head. But he looked really good doing it in what became a 92-80 Knicks win over the lowly Lakers. Anthony had 31 in the game.

3) Hassan Whiteside is still the best thing to come to Miami since the Cuban sandwich. Okay, maybe that’s overstating it as there were a few good years there with the guy who went back home to Cleveland, but Whiteside continues to be a revelation in Miami this season. He had 20 points and nine rebounds to lead Miami to an 83-75 win over Boston. In his last five games Whiteside has averaged 15.2 points a game shooting 61.8 percent plus pulling down 12.8 rebounds a game and throwing in a block each night. But more than the numbers, when he is on the court the Heat are just more active and energetic — he deflects passes, pressures on defense and Miami just plays with more energy. He is the reason to watch the Heat right now, plus he’s making plays like this.

Pistons fans boo Josh Smith in his return, savor his struggles

Josh Smith
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The Detroit Pistons went 5-23 with Josh Smith on the roster. They have gone 13-7 since cutting him, including winning their first seven games in a row.

Saturday night Josh Smith and his new team the Houston Rockets came to Detroit, and Pistons fans let them know exactly how much they missed him.

Those are some homer Houston announcers (they are some of the more blatant in the league) trying to cover for Smith, although to be fair they are right in that the mistake was not Smith’s but Joe Dumars’. Stan Van Gundy fixed it and in doing so let Greg Monroe play his more natural game, where he has started to thrive. The Pistons’ offense has just flowed more naturally (at least before Brandon Jennings went down for the season).

Pistons fans booed Smith every time he touched the ball, and they savored every miss by him — of which there were plenty as he was 3-of-11. They cheered loudly when Andre Drummond blocked his shot. They nodded knowingly at his one missed three.

Smith’s response to the “love” from Detroit fans upon his return? Via Shawn Windsor of the Detroit Free Press:

“It’s really not emotional to me because I haven’t been here long enough to feel any sort of way,” said Smith, who signed with the Pistons in the off-season of 2013 from his hometown Atlanta Hawks. “The booing didn’t affect me.

“If you ask me something about Atlanta I’ll have a lot more to say about emotions.”

Okay.

Smith has shot the ball a little better — not efficient but better — since signing with Houston. His game hasn’t really changed he’s but trying to make that work in a new role, and there have been moments. Good ones and bad ones. Smith realizes he’s part of a team that, if it can stay healthy, could be a threat in the loaded West. He is trying to make this new home work and is trying to move on, to be the key part of a bench on a potential contender. We’ll see how that plays out.

But for a night, the Pistons savored saying goodbye.