<span class="vcard">Kurt Helin</span>

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Tracy McGrady knocks down game winning three in China (VIDEO)

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That is vintage Tracy McGrady. The basketball player version (we’re trying to repress memories of the baseball version).

Isolate him on the wing, pound the ball into the court while the clock ticks down to the final seconds, use your strength and quickness to create a little space, then knock down the shot.

McGrady is part of the USA Legends Tour in China (other names you might know include Jason Williams and Aquille Carr) and with the game on the line it was T-Mac who had the ball. Which made for a fun trip down memory lane.

(Hat tip to SLAM)

Paul Pierce talks about how he ended up with Wizards — he thinks they can reach the finals

Paul Pierce
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It was the strangest, most unexpected move of the summer — Paul Pierce to the Washington Wizards.

We’re always going to picture Pierce as a Celtic, so any color any other than green seems strange, but he bolted Brooklyn (or, more accurately, they didn’t try to bring him back) and there were a number of teams interested in him.

But it was then Wizards assistant coach Sam Cassell who sold Pierce on going to the nation’s capital. He’s a fit on paper, but he had to be convinced.

Pierce laid out how it went down speaking with David Aldridge of NBA.com.

“That’s when Sam Cassell gave me a call, shortly after Trevor Ariza signed with Houston. That kind of happened so fast. He signed, and Sam called me, and [asked] what I thought. We both were in Vegas at the time, talking on the phone. Then met him for lunch. Then met him again for dinner. It took some convincing, because I never really thought about Washington. It just wasn’t on my radar. But I started thinking about it, and everything he was telling me, based on what they did last year, the guys they have here, he talked about the culture, he talked about Coach [Randy Wittman], Ernie [Grunfeld, the GM], talked to him. And I started warming up to the idea. Pretty much that same day we talked, I started warming up. This team does have some potential, now that I think about it. They probably should have beat Indiana. Everybody thought they should have beat Indiana. I was like, they have one of the best backcourts in basketball. They’re lacking experience, a guy in the locker room and on the court that can help end games. I was like, I probably can fit in. After LeBron said he was going back to Cleveland, the dynamics of the Eastern Conference, with Indiana, I was like, this is a team that could be in the Eastern Conference finals, or possibly the Finals, based on what’s here. And adding me to some of the other veterans they added, I was like, why not?”

Cassell recruited Pierce then he bolted for the Clippers and Doc Rivers to be an assistant 0n the left coast.

Can the Wizards make the conference finals? Well, if a lot of things go their way. They are arguably the third best team in the East, something that will be true if John Wall and Bradley Beal continue to grow, and if Nene can just stay healthy. Add in the veteran presence of Pierce and there is a lot to like.

Heck, Pierce seems to be fitting in already.

But Pierce and his Wizards are not better than Cleveland (despite the Cavs flaws). If Derrick Rose is 90 percent of MVP Derrick Rose, Chicago is better than Washington, too.

Still, you can see what Pierce is thinking in making this choice. All he needs is things go perfectly.

Kobe Bryant looks sharp, moves well in Lakers first preseason game (VIDEO)

Denver Nuggets v Los Angeles Lakers
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If you love good basketball, it can be a joy to watch Kobe Bryant.

It’s a joy to watch his impeccable footwork when get gets the ball in the post. His efficient fadeaway. The way when he faces up he doesn’t over dribble but makes a quick, decisive move. He sees the game unfold and makes small adjustments. He a master of smart basketball.

That Kobe was back Monday night in the Lakers preseason opener (a win over the Denver Nuggets). Most importantly looked healthy and moved well. He finished the night with 13 points on 5-of-12 shooting, had five assists but also three turnovers in 21 minutes. Kobe sounded  positive afterwards, as reported by the LA Times Mike Bresnahan.

And the Lakers fans in San Diego were into it — Kobe got MVP chants by the third quarter (surprised it took them that long).

Let’s be clear, it’s an NBA preseason game, it has less meaning than your high school algebra class. You can’t read too much into this one outing, no more than one should read into Kobe air-balling his first shot of the night. Nobody is exactly sharp or intense in these games. 

But Kobe’s comeback had to start somewhere, this is a good place and a good first step.

Along those same lines, Steve Nash moved well and made plays also. He finished with 11 points and five assists. Of course, with him the real question is how they feel the next day, but like Kobe he has to start somewhere.

Greg Anthony, Grant Hill and Chris Webber will rotate through Steve Kerr’s spot on TNT broadcasts

Chris Webber
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No one man can replace Steve Kerr. Apparently.

Kerr was a fixture on one of the TNT Thursday night double header broadcasts, next to Marv Albert every week on a marquee game. Then he gave that all up to coach Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and the Golden State Warriors.

So who takes his chair next to Marv? Three guys, Turner Broadcasting told Richard Deitsch of Sports Illustrated.

So says Turner Sports, which will soon make the official announcement that Greg Anthony, Grant Hill and Chris Webber will form a three-person rotation as TNT’s top NBA analyst alongside game announcer Marv Albert….

“We have a really deep talent roster and we plan to dig into it and use everybody,” Turner Sports senior vice president Craig Barry told Sports Illustrated last week. “We are in a unique position to be able to work through a rotation with A-grade talent. We are looking at it from a perspective that each guy brings something to the table.”

My guess is eventually one of those guys will get the job permanently. Hill is a rookie so we’ll see how he does, Anthony is solid, but personally I’m a big Webber fan. I like him the studio, I like him on broadcasts, so this makes me happy.

It is unclear when Craig Sager will return to the sidelines from his battle with adult acute myeloid leukemia, We can’t see him back soon enough.

The second TNT game will continue to feature Kevin Harlan and Reggie Miller. Now, if we can get TNT to rotate guys through Miller’s chair then we will have something worth celebrating.

Preseason? Who cares? Paul Pierce, Joakim Noah get into shoving match

Joakim Noah
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You’ve got to love Joakim Noah. And Paul Pierce. Meaningless preseason game? Doesn’t matter. They are not going to back down from confrontation.

Noah and Pierce got into a little shoving match during the Washington at Chicago preseason game in the United Center Monday night. It started when Pierce gave a hard foul to Jimmy Butler, then while the officials reviewed it to see if it was a flagrant foul Pierce kept talking to Butler, so Noah stepped in.

Not really much to it… but considering it’s preseason, it’s pretty feisty.

The best part is Tom Thibodeau’s annoyed expression as he has to get in the middle of this.

As a side note, Derrick Rose put up a quick 9 points on 4-of-5 shooting in the first quarter (which is where we are as of this posting. He looks like that time with Team USA to shake off the rust may have done some good.