Tag: Blake Griffin

Milwaukee Bucks v Los Angeles Clippers

It’s official: Zach LaVine, Greek Freak Antetokounmpo headline All-Star Dunk Contest


There was no surprise, the names had leaked out already, but now it is official:

Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks), Zach LaVine (Minnesota Timberwolves), Victor Oladipo (Orlando Magic) and Mason Plumlee (Brooklyn Nets) will be in the NBA All-Star Saturday Night Dunk Contest live from the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn.

That’s a potentially great group but the best news is the NBA ditched the awkward team contest of last season and has just gone back to the classic format — there are two-rounds for all four and they can perform any dunk they choose without time limits. However, the players will have a maximum of three attempts to complete each dunk.

If I were a betting man I would put my money on LaVine, who has serious hops and gets that this is time to put on a show.

Maybe the guy that will draw the most buzz is the Greek Freak Antetokounmpo — he is freakishly long and athletic and that makes for some wild in-game dunks. The question is how will he do in this exhibition format, but don’t doubt he could win this thing.

Oladipo has potential in this contest — the guy had the stones to do a 360 dunk for the dagger to win a game, what will he do when he has the freedom to do anything?

Finally there is Plumlee. The guy with the hometown advantage. Often centers can struggle in this event (although JaVale McGee should have beat Blake Griffin back in L.A.) but he has potential.

This event has struggled to be captivating in recent years, we’ll see if this group can recapture the spark.

After being fined for obscene gesture, Dwyane Wade asks NBA to improve on ways it protects players from fans

Dwyane Wade

Dwyane Wade was fined $15,000 this week for making an obscene gesture near the end of the third quarter against the Hornets in Charlotte, but it wasn’t of the Sam Cassell variety.

Wade was upset with some fans, so he gave them the finger as he walked off the court.

The fine is more symbolic than anything else, a way for the league to make it publicly known that it’s preferred that the players don’t behave this way. But Wade used the opportunity to lobby for additional protection for the players from overly-unruly fans.

From Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press:

Wade has asked the NBA to further improve the ways it protects players from the most unruly of fans, making that request during the league’s brief investigation of his incident with the crowd in Charlotte on Wednesday night.

“The NBA is an unbelievable league, and I’m one of the first ones to be doing NBA Cares and all these things in the community, but they need to protect us a little more,” Wade told The Associated Press. “They need to do a better job of protecting players in the arena. It’s open game on us. We’re big boys, we can take it, but everyone has their breaking point.” …

Wade said a number of fans were saying things about his wife, actress Gabrielle Union, and that the comments got progressively worse as the night went along. He lost his cool, approaching the group with the middle finger raised on one of his hands.

It’s tough to see what could actually be done in situations like this. Unless other fans around the ones making the offending remarks complain, or a player personally goes to security to ask that someone be removed, it seems like something that would be extremely difficult to police.

Personally, I like the Blake Griffin approach.

Three Things We Learned in the NBA Thursday: Derrick Rose is looking like himself again

Chicago Bulls V San Antonio Spurs

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 laughing at as bad a failed dunk as you’ll see….

Derrick Rose is looking like vintage Derrick Rose, and the Bulls are following along. One win alone does not mean the Bulls’ slump is over — even if they did beat the Spurs Thursday, the Mavericks are up on Friday — but there are some promising signs. One is that Thursday was by far the best the Bulls defense has looked in a long while, holding the Spurs regular starters to 81 points on 37 percent shooting. But bigger than that is Derrick Rose looks to be back to being Derrick Rose. He had 22 points on 9-of-16 shooting in the win, but the key is he is doing it attacking — 11 of his 16 shots were inside 8 feet of the rim. This has been the trend of late, he’s got a feel for the game and attacks again. Also, his three pointers are falling — he was 2-of-4 against the Spurs and is shooting 42 percent from three over his last 10 games. If Rose is back and the Bulls start to find their defense… well, let’s see them do it for a few games in a row before we say the slump is fully over.

No LaMarcus Aldridge, no Robin Lopez, no win for Trail Blazers. Portland is currently the three seed in the West at 31-13, but in the unforgiving Western Conference that means they are just four games ahead of being the seven seed. That is what losing LaMarcus Aldridge for 6-8 weeks really means — especially with Robin Lopez also still out with a hand injury. The Blazers also lost Nicolas Batum to a wrist injury in the third quarter (no word yet on how serious that may be). That’s three starters and a key bench player out for Portland right now, which means some off nights where they fall to teams like the Celtics. A few more of those and suddenly the Blazers are sliding down the standings a little. Blazers fans should be a little concerned.

Only one thing of interest happened in the Clippers/Nets game. And it didn’t have anything to do with the game — that was as bad a rout as you will see. The Nets are a bad team and the Clippers specialize in crushing bad teams. No, the only interesting thing was this Vine, which ended up all over social media. Blake Griffin having fun with one of the Clippers’ staff.

2015 NBA All-Star starters announced, Kyle Lowry overtakes Dwyane Wade in the East

Kyle Lowry

The last All-Star voting returns were released two weeks ago, and it appeared as though the starters were essentially locked into place.

The closest races in both the frontcourt and guard spots in either conference were right around 100,000 votes apart, which would mean a huge surge in fan support would be needed to have one player overtake someone who already maintained a substantial lead in the race.

The Raptors fan base, in support of Kyle Lowry, came through to get their guy in, while ousting Dwyane Wade at the same time.


G- John Wall

G- Kyle Lowry

F- LeBron James

F- Pau Gasol

F- Carmelo Anthony


G- Kobe Bryant

G- Stephen Curry

F- Anthony Davis

F- Blake Griffin

F- Marc Gasol

For the most part, the fans got it right.

Kobe Bryant was a legacy selection, but his torn rotator cuff now throws his availability for the midseason exhibition into question. If he can’t go, that opens up a spot for someone more deserving to get in as an injury replacement — like Klay Thompson, for example, who may have been hard-pressed to make it otherwise.

The reserves will be extremely interesting, especially in the West. While it’ll be interesting to see if Wade now ends up getting in from the East, with Bryant and possibly LaMarcus Aldridge being sidelined due to injury, that’ll open the door for other deserving players to end up getting one of the remaining spots.

The final voting tally was as follows:

Eastern Conference


1. LeBron James (Cle) 1,470,483

2. Pau Gasol (Chi) 974,177

3. Carmelo Anthony (NY) 647,005

4. Marcin Gortat (Was) 570,005

5. Chris Bosh (Mia) 542,006

6. Kevin Love (Cle) 386,208

7. Jonas Valanciunas (Tor) 231,741

8. Joakim Noah (Chi) 203,718

9. Nikola Vucevic (Orl) 129,293

10. Paul Millsap (Atl) 121,938

11. Al Horford (Atl) 114,955

12. Al Jefferson (Cha) 110,980

13. Kevin Garnett (BKN) 106,820

14. Nikola Mirotic (Chi) 103,645

15. Andre Drummond (Det) 86,717


1. John Wall (Was) 886,368

2. Kyle Lowry (Tor) 805,290

3. Dwyane Wade (Mia) 789,839

4. Kyrie Irving (Cle) 535,873

5. Jimmy Butler (Chi) 455,756

6. Derrick Rose (Chi) 379,994

7. DeMar DeRozan (Tor) 159,123

8. Jeff Teague (Atl) 83,900

9. Lou Williams (Tor) 82,135

10. Giannis Antetokounmpo (Mil) 55,014

Western Conference


1. Anthony Davis (NO) 1,369,911

2. Marc Gasol (Mem) 795,121

3. Blake Griffin (LAC) 700,615

4. Tim Duncan (SA) 546,817

5. Kevin Durant (OKC) 545,226

6. LaMarcus Aldridge (Por) 498,131

7. DeMarcus Cousins (Sac) 465,334

8. Dwight Howard (Hou) 348,275

9. Dirk Nowitzki (Dal) 292,557

10. Rudy Gay (Sac) 144,702

11. Kawhi Leonard (SA) 132,150

12. DeAndre Jordan (LAC) 117,816

13. Serge Ibaka (OKC) 107,223

14. Draymond Green (GS) 99,039

15. Tyson Chandler (Dal) 98,654


1. Stephen Curry (GS) 1,513,324

2. Kobe Bryant (LAL) 1,152,402

3. James Harden (Hou) 1,069,368

4. Chris Paul (LAC) 551,167

5. Damian Lillard (Por) 365,417

6. Klay Thompson (GS) 314,254

7. Russell Westbrook (OKC) 248,758

8. Rajon Rondo (Dal) 219,506

9. Jeremy Lin (LAL) 216,246

10. Mike Conley (Mem) 103,015

PBT NBA Power Rankings: It’s the Hawks, Warriors then a step back to everyone else

Atlanta Hawks v Chicago Bulls

The best teams in January are not necessarily the ones that we will see playing in June — at this time last season the top of the PBT Power rankings was Indiana and Portland. (The Spurs were third, the Heat fifth, obviously they met in the finals.) That said, right now Atlanta and Golden State are separating themselves from the pack. After that there are a lot of teams on the second tier, all pretty close to one another.

source:  1. Hawks (33-8, Last Week No. 1). Winners of 12 in a row and that includes a gauntlet of the other best teams in the NBA — several of those wins with at least one of their stars Jeff Teague, Paul Millsap and Al Horford. Question is how many of them the coaches put on the All-Star team.

source:  2. Warriors (32-6, LW 2). MVP-candidate (he’s got my vote at the halfway mark) Stephen Curry is going to be voted in an All-Star starter by the fans. But will he be the only Warriors representative? Klay Thompson will be on the bubble with the coaches’ vote because the West is so deep with guards.

source:  3. Spurs (26-16, LW 5). They get Kawhi Leonard back Friday night and promptly go out and beat Portland (then crush Utah Sunday). This team is just getting healthy and they have six of their next eight at home, don’t be shocked if they go on a little run.

source:  4. Grizzlies (29-11, LW 9). Another West test on Monday against Dallas, although Memphis has a great record against other playoff teams out West at 10-3 (while Dallas struggles against good teams). Another deserving player on the All-Star bubble, Mike Conley.

source:  5. Clippers (27-14, LW 7). Doc Rivers wants the Clippers to play faster, but the Clippers defensive inconsistency has made that difficult. “One of the things that I have said since I’ve been here is that it’s hard to run when you are taking the ball out of bounds.” The Clippers have done that a lot lately.

source:  6. Trail Blazers (30-11. Last Week No. 3). They have the third best defense in the NBA on the season but that has slipped the last five games (14th in the NBA in that stretch). Well, to be fair, they have struggled on both sides of the ball lately. The good news is Robin Lopez got his cast off and is getting closer to returning.

source:  7. Rockets (28-13, LW 6). That loss to Golden State last week was ugly because Houston’s regularly solid defense got roasted. Same thing happened against Orlando. The Warriors and Suns are on the schedule this week and Houston needs to get that defensive groove back.

source:  8. Mavericks (28-13, LW 8). Dallas is in the middle of a heavy road stretch of games, something that runs through early February. They are 4-3 in their last 7 games and the offense is struggling. With Nowitzki and plenty of scorers on the roster we’ll call this an offensive slump for now and see if it continues.

source:  9. Suns (24-18, LW 11). The eight-seed Suns see the Thunder three games back in the rear view mirror, but they also know have a heavy home schedule the second half of the season. The Suns are on a 47-win pace right now and they will likely beat that number — and they are working the trade market hard offering Miles Plumlee up.

source:  10. Wizards (28-13, LW 12). The Wizards are playing well and that is mostly due to their starters — John Wall, Bradley Beal, Paul Pierce, Nene, and Marcin Gortat are +12.4 per 48 minutes when on the court together. Consistent play out of the bench is something the Wizards still are searching for.

source:  11. Raptors (26-13, LW 10). DeMar DeRozan is back and this team still isn’t getting stops and still isn’t winning, having dropped 7-of-9, including blowing a lead to a Pelicans team without its two best players Sunday. Maybe they can find themselves on the road, where they are for six of their next eight.

source:  12. Bulls (27-15, LW 4). The Bulls’ mid-season slump continued last week and there is no one simple answer — Joakim noah needs some nights off to recover from ailing injuries, Derrick Rose is inconsistent, and Jimmy Butler is having a personal slump. Add to that a tough slate of games — Cavs, Spurs and Mavericks are up this week. The Bulls need to find their missing defense.

source:  13. Cavaliers (21-20 LW 16). Two wins in a row and it’s amazing how much better this team looks with LeBron James back. Well, on offense anyway, their defense still struggles (Timofey Mozgov hasn’t solved the issues in the paint) and there are questions of depth, but right now this team just needs to rack up a few more wins and get its confidence back.

source:  14. Thunder (19-20, LW 13). Quality win over Golden State on Friday night, reminding everyone what this team can do when right. But they are not right consistently. They better start with a tough rest of the month ahead — to make sure they pass the Suns the Thunder needs to go 30-12 the rest of the way.

source:  15. Bucks (21-19, LW 15). They had a nice London vacation last week (that includes picking up an easy win over the Knicks) but the injury gods continue to turn their wrath on Milwaukee — now backup point guard Kendall Marshall is lost for the season.

source:  16. Pelicans (20-20, LW 14). Anthony Davis (toe injury, nothing major) and Jrue Holiday have missed time yet the Pelicans found a way to win two of their last three. Good to see Alexis Ajinca step up Sunday with a 22-point game, if he can become a solid role player for them off the bench it would be a huge boost.

source:  17. Pistons (16-25, LW 18). . They are 8-2 in their last 10 games and are just one back of the Nets for the eight seed in the East. We’ll see if the hot streak continues with the Hawks, Bucks and Raptors on the schedule this week (I have a feeling it will).

source:  18. Heat (18-22, LW 17). Remember the “space and pace” offense the Heat were going to keep this season? Not so much. They are playing at a crawling pace of late and are the slowest team in the league this season. With that their offense hasn’t been impressive.

source:  19. Hornets (16-25, LW 20). What does it say about Lance Stephenson’s reputation around the league that his hometown Brooklyn Nets were thinking about trading for him, did their due diligence asking around the league about him, and pulled out of the deal?

source:  20. Nuggets (18-22, LW 19). The most interesting thing about the Nuggets the next few weeks is the trade watch — Arron Afflalo, Wilson Chandler and others are available at the right price. After that we can focus on what kind of team the Nuggets are trying to build and who should coach them.

source:  21. Nets (17-24, LW 24). The Nets want to move two of their big three contracts and it seems likely that they will find a taker for Brook Lopez — pulling back from trades now was just an effort to get a higher price. Now, finding a taker for Deron Williams or Joe Johnson will be far more difficult.

source:  22. Pacers (15-27, LW 21). For a team that prides itself on defense letting Mo Williams go off for 52 had to hurt. So did losing to a Hornets team without Kemba Walker or Al Jefferson. This team has playoff dreams still but the Pistons seem more likely to catch the Nets right now.

source:  23. Kings (16-24, LW 22). Blake Griffin says DeMarcus Cousins deserves to be an All-Star and I think the West coaches will agree with him and vote Cousins in. Good for him, but don’t expect much from a Kings team with a very heavy road schedule the rest of the season.

source:  24. Magic (15-28, LW 26). They went 2-2 through a gauntlet of good teams last week thanks to wins over the Bulls and Rockets. They are just 3.5 games back of a playoff spot in the East but will need to get hot the rest of the way, relatively, to make up that ground.

source:  25. Jazz (14-26, LW 23). The Utah offense is still the Gordon Hayward show, he is the glue that makes it all work. The Utah defense doesn’t work period. They can outscore a team like the Lakers (as they did last week) but they are not consistent enough defensively to get guys like Derrick Favors talked about seriously as an All-Star.

source:  26. Celtics (13-25, LW 27). They have more trades to come — no chance Tayshaun Prince is on this roster past the deadline, for one. In theory they could make a run at the playoffs, they are just 2.5 back of the eight-seed Nets, but management has no interest.

source:  27. Lakers (12-29, LW 25). If you think Kobe Bryant is going to not play next season, then clearly you’ve never had $25 million sitting on the table in front of you before. He’ll be back next season, likely playing fewer minutes a night and taking some off, as part of a farewell tour while the Lakers continue to struggle.

source:  28. 76ers (8-32, LW 28). Michael Carter-Williams has played fairly well of late for the Sixers, giving them an offensive boost to go with their solid defense. So why is he mentioned in trade talks? Sell high, and some with Sixers not convinced he’s a quality starting point guard in the league.

source:  29. Timberwolves (7-32, LW 29). They finally won a game last week thanks to 31 from Andrew Wiggins, who has developed as a good shooter much more quickly than people expected (he’s got a ways to go but is improving at a rapid rate). He’s the kind of shooter that the Cavaliers could use.

source:  30. Knicks (5-36, LW 30). If your choice is to watch a Knicks game or go see American Sniper, go to the theater. Not that the movie is all that easy to watch, but it’s less painful than a Knicks game.