Kurt Helin

Portland Trail Blazers v Atlanta Hawks

Another top Western Conference team, another Hawks win


During their now 18-game winning streak the Atlanta Hawks have beaten the Clippers, Grizzlies, Bulls, Thunder and now the Trail Blazers twice. That’s twice because Atlanta won a tightly contested game 105-99 over Portland on Friday night at home. It was a classic Hawks win where defense and balanced scoring won the day.

Portland came out hot, shooting 71 percent overall for the first quarter, and while they cooled down some they still shot 53 percent from three in the first half. Yet the Blazers turned it over 13 times in the half so come break they were up only 1, 51-50. Portland played better defense in the third quarter but their stars went cold from three, so the Portland lead grew but just to five points after three quarters.

In the fourth the Hawks got hot, opening the quarter on a 12-2 run to take the lead. The Hawks did it with balance — Mike Scott had eight points in the fourth, for example. Six Hawks scored in double figures led by Paul Millsap with 21, and Atlanta got fantastic play out of Kent Bazemore, who had to step in when Thabo Sefolosha left in the first quarter with a calf injury.

Where the Hawks had balance, the Blazers had stars. LaMarcus Aldridge had 37 and was Portland’s best player. Some of us expected an angry Damian Lillard — steaming about being left off the All-Star team — to come out hot but instead he struggled to deal with the Hawks aggressive doubling of him. Thing is nobody else made the Hawks pay. The guard trio of Portland of Lillard, Wes Matthews and Nicolas Batum combined to shoot 9-of-42 on the night, including missed good-look threes down the stretch.

Chalk another one up for the Hawks. The streak is likely to reach 20 before some real tests next week in Golden State and Memphis.

Tim Duncan files $1 million lawsuit against financial advisor

2014 NBA Finals - Game Four

One of the challenges for professional athletes — no matter how educated and regardless of sport — is there are people looking to prey on them financially.

Even Tim Duncan. At least from his perspective. Duncan filed a $1 million lawsuit against a former financial advisor on Friday, reports the Associated Press.

Spurs star Tim Duncan has filed a lawsuit contending that a series of investments enriched his financial adviser but were losing propositions for the NBA star, including $7.5 million in an entertainment company run by the adviser.

The lawsuit, filed Thursday in San Antonio, seeks more than $1 million in damages against Charles Banks of Atlanta. It claims Banks secretly withheld 20 percent of the return on Duncan’s loan to Gameday Entertainment, for which Banks serves as chairman.

The lawsuit also alleges Banks forged Duncan’s signatures on documents.

The AP tried to reach Banks for comment but could not.

Duncan is no dummy, he discovered the discrepancy while making other financial filings, according to the report.

Whatever the reality of this case, it is just another cautionary tale — pro athletes need to have checks and balances. They can’t trust anyone, even family, completely.

Robin Lopez and Atlanta’s Harry the Hawk square off (VIDEO)

Indiana Pacers v Atlanta Hawks

Robin Lopez has a long rap sheet of mascot abuse.

Harry the Hawk — who has some sweet dance moves, BTW — wanted to stand up to that Friday when the Blazers came to Atlanta.

Okay, that’s fairly amusing. But what’s really impressive is the effort that went into the production, and that Lopez was game for this.

I’m not personally too concerned what happens to the mascots… except for the inflatable mascots. Those are the best.

Grizzlies’ Vince Carter has left foot tendon injury, out at least a week

Orlando Magic v Memphis Grizzlies
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This is where the pick up of Jeff Green may turn out to be very useful.

Grizzlies reserve guard Vince Carter —who left Thursday night’s Memphis win in the second quarter and did not return — has a left foot tendon injury, the team announced Friday. It was confirmed by an MRI. As for his return…

Carter will be re-evaluated within the next week at which time an update will be provided.

The Grizzlies start Courtney Lee and Tony Allen at the two and three, but now they have Jeff Green can come in for either one of them. Green was recently acquired in a trade with Boston.

Carter is averaging 6 points a game in less than 17 minutes a night this season while shooting 33.4 percent. He has looked like Father Time is winning the race this season. That said he had scored in double digits two of the last three games before the injury.

Anthony Davis out Friday night vs. Clippers due to abdominal strain

Anthony Davis
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The Pelicans are being cautious here. As they should be — this is the future of the franchise we are talking about.

Anthony Davis will not play Friday night when the Pelicans host the Los Angeles Clippers, reports John Reid of the Times-Picayune.

Davis officially has a Grade 1 abductor strain. Which is not pleasant. But compared to what it looked like when he was injured and had to be helped off the court following what appeared to be a serious right leg injury this is nothing. The injury was scary looking, but within 15 minutes he back on the court. Much to the relief of New Orleans fans.

While the Pelicans — just 2.5 games out of the playoffs in the West — will miss Davis and his 24.4 points and 10.4 rebounds a game, not to mention his defense against Blake Griffin, this is the right move. Davis is going to finish in the Top 5 in MVP voting during his third year in the league.

This is a relatively minor injury that should not impact him playing in the All-Star Game Feb. 15, where the fans voted him in as a starter.