Tag: Jan Vesely

Philadelphia 76ers v Brooklyn Nets

NBA Trade Deadline Tracker: All the trades, rumors, analysis, fun in one place


It’s the one day on the NBA calendar you know is going to be like a roller coaster — rumors are going to fly, deals are going to appear close then fall apart, complete fabrications will fascinate a fan base who will then blame a GM for not making them reality, and in the end there will be a few trades. However, if you think your team trading for a big star is a lock to improve your team, you may want to think again.

Today may end up being light on actual deals getting done, but we will have everything going on here:

3:41 pm: TRADE FINALIZED: The trade of the day snuck in at the wire — the Pacers have  traded Danny Granger to the Sixers for Evan Turner and Lavoy Allen. Wow. Indiana is a title contender that just sent their sixth man away to gamble on Evan Turner in that role —  like the gamble, but it is one. Granger is averaging 8.3 points a game in 22.5 minutes a night, with a true shooting percentage of 49.1 — not that impressive and he was getting paid $13 million. Turner is scoring at a higher pace in Philly, 17.4 points a game, but he was forced into that role because of that roster. That said, taking on that higher scoring load Turner has a higher true shooting percentage (50.4) and he may well be an upgrade for the Pacers in that role. The question is can he blend in with the Pacers culture and second unit. It’s a gamble.

3:20 pm: TRADE FINALIZED: The Los Angeles Clippers are sending Byron Mullens to the Philadelphia 76ers. Not sure what is coming back to the Clippers yet. Not exactly earth shattering but Mullens gives the Sixers a floor spacing big as they traded Spencer Hawes away. For the Clippers, this move and the Jamison move save them millions, they are just over the tax line by a couple hundred thousand. That said, their front line depth is now DeAndre Jordan/Blake Griffin, then Ryan Hollins, after that…. nobody. (Ramona Shelburne)

3:12 pm: TRADE FINALIZED: One trade that did slip in under the deadline — San Antonio sends Nando De Colo to the Toronto Raptors for Austin Daye. That’s an exchange of guys at the end of the bench, although De Colo could get limited run in Toronto. I’d dismiss this move for the Spurs, but the way trades work for them he probably starts playing like an All-Star. (Adrian Wojnarowski)

3:02 pm: There is no deal between the Clippers and Knicks. It was too much to fit together under the pressure of the deadline, and the Clippers just did not want the Felton salary.  The Clippers did agree to send Antawn Jamison to the Atlanta Hawks at the deadline but that was not precursor deal.  (Adrian Wojnarowski)

3:00 pm: THE DEADLINE HAS COME AND GONE. (Some deals submitted just before the deadline will trickle out in the coming hour.)

2:59 pm: Knicks/Clippers discussing Darren Collison, Willie Green and Matt Barnes for Iman Shumpert and Raymond Felton. Right up to the deadline. (Adrian Wojnarowski)

2:57 pm: Jarrett Jack to Minnesota is dead, not gonna happen.

2:54 pm: The Denver Nuggets announce that JaVale McGee has had surgery on the stress fracture in his leg that has kept him out all season. This makes it official, no Pierre until next season.

2:46 pm: Lakers talking to Philadelphia about sending big man Chris Kaman east. For the Lakers this would be about saving cash, the Sixers have the cap room to take him on and if they can they want to get over the league minimum salary number. (Ramona Shelburne)

2:43 pm: With Iman Shumpert only having a sprain and likely to miss a couple weeks, the Clippers are reportedly taking one last look at a trade for him. The issue has been the Knicks want the Clippers to take Raymond Felton’s contract and Los Angeles has no interest.  I don’t see how that has changed. (Marc Stein)

2:41 pm: No, there is not going to be a last-minute deal for Pau Gasol. The Lakers will keep him, they will have his Bird rights, but know that there is little chance he is back next season. (Ken Berger)

2:28 pm: At the last minute the Golden State Warriors are shopping Jordan Crawford. Getting Steve Blake allows the Warriors to do this.  (Adrian Wojnarowski)

2:20 pm: The Los Angeles Clippers are going to stand pat at the trade deadline. (Dan Woike)

2:14 pm: The Lakers have held out that they want more than just cash savings for Jordan Hill, teams have been reluctant to do that (some have suggested the Lakers should send out a second round pick since the other team will save them $7 million is salary and taxes). With nothing happening it is starting to look like Hill may be a Laker after the deadline. (Ken Berger)

2:10 pm: TRADE FINALIZED: The Denver Nuggets will send Jordan Hamilton to the Houston Rockets in exchange for Arron Brooks. Good deal for both teams — Denver wanted a backup point guard behind Ty Lawson, they get one. Hamilton gives the Rockets an athletic wing off the bench. (Adrian Wojnarowski)

1:56 pm: Iman Shumpert’s MRI came back showing just a sprain, nothing that requires surgery. That means it is possible he ends up in a trade in the final hour before the trade deadline.  (Ken Berger)

1:49 pm: Denver has come to terms to send Jordan Hamilton to Houston for Aaron Brooks. Nice pick up for the Rockets, who wanted a more athletic wing off the bench and really don’t need Brooks. Denver gets a solid backup for Ty Lawson, something they haven’t had since Andre Miller was banished to Siberia (or wherever Brian Shaw’s doghouse is). (Adrian Wojnarowski)

1:31 pm: Minnesota missed out on Andre Miller, so now they are talking to Cleveland about Jarrett Jack. (David Aldridge)

1:27 pm: If the Iman Shumpert MRI comes out negative and it is just a sprain he will be back in play for trades — and he may go to Oklahoma City for a first-round pick. Doc Rivers and the Clippers would still be interested but L.A. didn’t want to take on Raymond Felton’s contract and I doubt that changed. A first round pick will make Shumpert a part of the Thunder, if that report is accurate. (Chris Broussard)

1:23 pm: Among the massive amount of trades that died on the vine you can add the Kings/Cavs Jason Thompson-for-Jarrett Jack one.  (Sam Amick)

1:03 pm: It appears the Tyler Zeller to the Clippers for Reggie Bullock trade is DOA. (Ken Berger)

12:53 pm: With their taking on Eric Maynor and picks, the Philadelphia 76ers now have five picks in the second round of this year’s draft. Plus multiple ones in future years. That, my friend, is leverage for future deals.

12:46 pm: TRADE FINALIZED: The Charlotte Bobcats acquire Luke Ridnour and Gary Neal from the Milwaukee Bucks for Ramon Sessions and Jeff Adrien. This move gives the Bobcats some quality backcourt depth that can help them hold on to one of the final playoff spots in the East.  (Rick Bonnell)

12:40 pm: TRADE FINALIZED: The Washington Wizards have added some veteran depth to go with John Wall and Bradley Beal in the backcourt. In a three team-trade the Wizards will get Andre Miller — who should be a good fit with them, a veteran they could use in the locker room — while as part of the deal Denver gets Jan Vesely, while the Sixers will land Eric Maynor from Washington plus two second-round picks belonging to Denver — both reportedly 2014 ones. I like this for the Sixers, depending on the picks and protections on them. For Denver Vesely is a nice gamble but those two picks make it seem expensive just to dump Miller.  (Adrian Wojnarowski)

12:34 pm: Looks like we are close to another trade — Denver and Washington are “close” to a deal sending Andre Miller to the Wizards for Eric Maynor and Jan Vesely, although the Nuggets would quickly flip Maynor to a third team.  (Adrian Wojnarowski)

12:29 pm: It’s not likely, but the trade idea of Caron Butler and Gary Neal to Charlotte for Ben Gordon and another contract is not yet dead. Neal to Charlotte looks like it will happen, adding in Butler complicates matters.  (Gery Woelfel)

12:26 pm: The Knicks are working the phones hard, looking for a new point guard, but not making any progress. Remember, with Iman Shumpert spraining his surgically repaired knee, he is pretty much off the trade block. (Sam Amick)

12:22 pm: The Detroit Pistons are trying to shop Josh Smith around, but they want value back not just expiring contracts. That should provide other GMs a much-needed laugh on a tense day. (Zach Lowe)

12:18 pm: Here is your Andre Miller update — it looks as if Washington and Minnesota are the only two teams left trying to land him with the Wizards in the lead (if it is Washington don’t expect Eric Maynor to be part of the package heading back to Denver). However, most executives think no deal will be made and the Nuggets will just buy Miller out and make him a free agent. (Sean Deveney)

11:45 am: Gary Neal was always likely to be dealt by the Bucks today and they are now close to making a deal with the Charlotte Bobcats. Not a lot of details yet, but that’s a solid pickup for Charlotte, which wants to solidify its spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs (their sweep of a home-and-home with Detroit this week certainly helped that). (Ken Berger)

• The Clippers have been hesitant to part with Reggie Bullock, but they need front line depth desperately so have had talks about sending him to Cleveland for Tyler Zeller. (Brian Windhorst)

• Indiana has tested the trade market for Danny Granger but you were always going to have to blow them away with a deal because: 1) They liked the idea of the cap space they get with him leaving at the end of the season (or re-signing for much less); 2) He’s proven to be a good sixth man and they will need his offense come the playoffs. The Pacers haven’t found any deals for Granger they like and will probably keep him. (Brian Windhorst)

11:21 am: REPORTED TRADE: The Sacramento Kings will acquire Roger Mason Jr. from the Miami Heat, then are going to turn around and waived the little-used veteran. This really is just teams shifting around a few dollars — it is virtually a straight cash deal. Technically the Kings will send a protected second round pick back to the Heat, but it will be so heavily protected that Miami will never really see it. Miami is doing this to clear out a roster space so when players get bought out after the deadline they can sign them. The Kings are doing it for the straight cash money.  (Ken Berger)

11:17 am: The Cavaliers are finding it hard to find anyone to dance with who wants Luol Deng — Detroit and Minnesota are lukewarm and the Suns are not willing to give Cleveland a first-round pick to rent him for 30 games. Nobody is going to give up much for a guy who wants to test free agency this summer. (Ken Berger)

• Speaking of Cleveland, it appears that Jarrett Jack still will be a Cavalier after the trade deadline. That’s good for their playoff hopes. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)

11:07 am: The New Orleans Pelicans are shopping around D-League star Pierre Jackson. If they don’t find a deal he will go overseas to play for Fenerbahce in Turkey the rest of the season (and make more money). There should be interest in him around the league, however. (Marc Stein)

10:52 am: While the fact that Luol Deng refuses to sign an extension complicates matters considerably (he wisely for his sake wants to test the free agent market), the Wizards, Mavericks and Pistons are all reportedly still talking to Cleveland about a deal for him. However, any deal appears unlikely.  (Marc Stein)

• On a lighter, non-trade note: No, Blake Griffin did not beat up Justin Bieber in a Starbucks. We kind of all secretly wished it were true, but it wasn’t.

10:44 am: New Orleans is  backing away from the Lakers and Jordan Hill. That leaves the Nets and Hawks still in the mix, with the Nets the frontrunner. (Adrian Wojnarowski)

10:22 am:

COMPLETED TRADE: The Philadelphia 76ers have agreed to move Spencer Hawes to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Earl Clark and Henry Sims (both expiring contracts) and two second round draft picks. Not a bad haul for Philly. The Sixers had been holding out for first round picks but have lowered their standards at the deadline to get a deal done and did pretty well. Cleveland, winners of six in a row, have upgraded their front line with trades when you look at Hawes and Luol Deng, but I still don’t see much of a master plan there.

• The Sacramento Kings are shopping Jimmer Fredette hard, looking for a 2014 second round pick. His stock has fallen that far, but he might be worth a gamble at that price. (Adrian Wojnarowski)

• Lakers are talking with three teams who have a disabled player exception — Pelicans, Nets, Hawks — about Jordan Hill. Lakers trying to get one of them to throw in a second round pick to get the deal done, teams are hesitant. (Marc Stein)

• Denver still talking to teams about Andre Miller, who is deep in coach Brian Shaw’s dog house. Minnesota and Washington appear the frontrunners. (Sam Amick)

• For those of you thinking Kevin Love is going to get moved today, you can give up on that dream.


The Lakers traded Steve Blake to the Golden State Warriors for Kent Bazemore and MarShon Brooks.

• Iman Shumpert sprained his knee on Wednesday night, which turned a trade of him from unlikely to nearly impossible.

• The Sacramento Kings agreed to trade Marcus Thornton to the New Jersey Nets for Jason Terry and Reggie Evans.

MLK Day NBA: Live updates, highlights and recaps

mlk nba

The Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday is one traditionally well-celebrated in the NBA. Today features a 10-game slate, and we’ll provide live updates, highlights and recaps here as the day goes on.

1:15 a.m. ET Tuesday: Pacers 102, Warriors 94 (FINAL): The second half of this game felt like a playoff game, down to the fired up crowd (got to love the people at Oracle) and the referees letting them play. The problem for Golden State was they were never able to dig out of the first quarter hole — behind Paul George’s 14 that quarter (23 for the game) the Pacers shot 64 percent for the quarter and led by 14 when it was done. Against a team that defends like the Pacers, that’s a huge hole. Indiana did a great job of chasing Stephen Curry off the three-point line — he was 3-of-11 from deep and that includes George Hill doing a great job on him late in the game. Indiana has won five in a row and looks every bit the team Miami should fear. Golden State got a taste of what it’s going to take to contend.

12:31 a.m. ET Tuesday: Pacers-Warriors: Golden State knocked down a few threes, Stephen Curry woke up the Bay Area crowd, combine that with a 9-of-23 shooting streak from the Pacers and we have a game. Golden State is just up by 8 entering the fourth quarter — this is going to be a ball game. The referees are letting them play, letting it get physical, and we will see how Golden State handles that.

\11:20 p.m. ET: Pacers-Warriors: Golden State is never out of a game with their ability to make a run with the three ball, but they are going to have to do it over the contested arms of Indiana Pacers’ defenders and it is not going well for them so far tonight. Indiana is up 16 and shooting 52 percent on the game. If you let Indiana shoot better than 5o percent and just try to outscore them against that defense, you lose. Stephen Curry started the game 2-of-7 from the floor.

10:52 p.m. ET: Bulls 102, Lakers 100 (OT FINAL): Two teams that have had their seasons derailed by injuries played an entertaining and competitive game that required overtime to be decided. The Bulls probably should have won in regulation, but thanks no doubt to the league publicly reprimanding officials after non-calls with games on the line, Joakim Noah was whistled for a foul on Nick Young with four seconds remaining that sent Young to the line for three free throw attempts to tie it. Near the end of the overtime session, Young once again came through with a baseline jumper that tied it, and the Lakers were just 0.9 seconds away from heading to a second overtime period. But they couldn’t defend a simple baseline out of bounds play, and Manny Harris (recently signed from the D-League) horribly misplayed Taj Gibson, who sealed Harris and was able to get free for the game-winning layup as time expired.

10:43 p.m. ET: Rockets 126, Trail Blazers 113 (FINAL): Portland’s leaky defense finally faced a flood not even its league-best offense could offset. Led by LaMarcus Aldridge (27 points and 20 rebounds), the Trail Blazers scored enough to win most nights. They just couldn’t stop the Rockets. Portland hasn’t allowed so many points in a game since 2007, and that’s why its win streak is over at five games. It’s no secret the Trail Blazers defense has been lacking. Of the NBA’s top eight teams – the group commonly accepted as true title contenders – only Portland (20th) ranks outside the top 11 in points allowed per possession. The Rockets, led tonight by Chandler Parsons (31 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists), boast one of the NBA’s top offenses. But if the Trail Blazers want to win a playoff series or two in this stacked Western Conference, they must defend better. That starts on the defensive glass, where no Portland player besides Aldridge grabbed more than two defensive rebounds. Better contesting shots on the perimeter – Houston made 16-of-33 3-pointers (48.5 percent) – would be a good second step. — Dan Feldman

9:21 p.m. ET: Rockets – Blazers: One of the day’s best matchups record-wise has turned into a laugher at halftime. The Rockets have hung 71 points on the Blazers through the game’s first 24 minutes and lead by 15 at the Break. Chandler Parsons leads all scorers with 19 points on 8-of-11 shooting, Dwight Howard has 15 points and seven rebounds, and Omri Casspi has 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting in 16 minutes off the bench. LaMarcus Aldridge leads the way for Portland with 16 points and 13 rebounds, but unless the Blazers can find a way to get some stops it’s not going to matter. It’s worth noting that Houston put together a similar first half performance against the Thunder the other night, before crashing to a record-low performance in the second.

9:12 p.m. ET: Lakers – Bulls: Thanks to 17 first half points from Nick Young, the Lakers lead 52-49 at intermission. Joakim Noah has 11 points and 10 rebounds at halftime for the Bulls, but everyone else on Chicago’s side is shooting an extremely low percentage, which led to L.A. erasing all of an early eight-point Bulls lead.

8:13 p.m. ET: Hawks 121, Heat 114 (FINAL): Though LeBron James had 30 points and six assists, Miami has lost four of six. Monday, defense was the main culprit. The Heat’s defense, still above average, has been at its worst since the Big Three came together. The 121 points allowed to Atlanta, which were led by Paul Millsap’s 26, weren’t even the most Miami has allowed this season. The Heat yielded 123 points to the Warriors earlier this month. I certainly expect Miami to get it together by the playoffs, but a chance at home-court advantage in the East is slipping away. The Heat now trail the Pacers by four games, and though that doesn’t seem insurmountable, Indiana is on pace to lose fewer than eight more games the rest of the season. – Dan Feldman

The Heat may have lost, but had at least one possession that was textbook as far as their defense leading to easy points in transition.

7:50 p.m. ET: Pelicans 95, Grizzlies 92 (FINAL): Anthony Davis had 27 points, 10 rebounds, four steals and four blocks – becoming the youngest player by nearly two years to hit those totals since at least 1985. He shot 2-for-11 in the first half, but he still made a noticeable defensive impact. In the second half, he got it going on offense, shooting 7-for-11, and his defense didn’t slip. He’s growing into a superstar right in front of our eyes, helping New Orleans end its nine-game losing streak and snap Memphis’ five-game winning streak. – Dan Feldman

6:19 p.m. ET: Nets 103, Knicks 80 (FINAL): The Nets improved to 7-1 in 2014 with an easy win over a Knicks team that didn’t look like it belonged on the same court for much of the afternoon. It was essentially over at halftime, when Joe Johnson had already scored 20 points and Brooklyn showcased what has become its signature  during this recent successful stretch — exceptional ball movement and solid team defense. It could have been a bigger margin, too, considering the Nets were just 3-of-10 shooting corner threes, and almost all of the attempts were wide-open looks.

Deron Williams returned after a five-game injury-forced absence, and finished with 13 points on 4-of-10 shooting, to go along with three assists in 27 minutes of action off the bench. Williams said afterward that the reserve role was his idea, and that he didn’t want to disrupt the team’s solid starting lineup.

The last time these two teams met, New York crushed an injury-ravaged Nets team in Brooklyn back in early December. Today, it was the Nets’ turn to bring the destruction.

“Simple payback,” Andray Blatche said afterward. “They came into our place and embarrassed us, and we wanted to come back and return the favor.”

4:42 p.m. ET: Wizards 107, 76ers 99 (FINAL): This wasn’t Washington’s most-polished performance, but its centers – Marcin Gortat (19 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks) and Kevin Seraphin (16 points, seven rebounds and a block) – dominated in a combined 46 minutes. Sometimes, out-muscling an opponent is enough. Both teams will probably take this result. The Wizards boost their playoff position, and Philadelphia continues tanking. Plus, Michael Carter-Williams (31 points, six rebounds, five assists and three steals) bolstered his Rookie of the Year case. — Dan Feldman

4:38 p.m. ET: Clippers 112, Pistons 103 (FINAL): DeAndre Jordan dunked four times in the game’s opening minutes, kick-starting a riveting matchup – between Jordan and Blake Griffin for who could dunk most. Jordan held onto his early lead, besting Griffin seven to five. Los Angeles led by 20 before the Pistons made a late comeback, but this one was all about the Clippers. Whether it was Griffin’s 25 points, Jordan’s 21 rebounds or Jamal Crawford’s 26 points on 13 shots off the bench, Los Angeles had all sorts of contributions that masked the absence of Chris Paul. — Dan Feldman

4:34 p.m. ET: Heat – Hawks: Dwyane Wade told reporters he will not play in today’s game in Atlanta, which isn’t really a surprise with Miami playing a back-to-back in Boston the very next night. The Heat have been cautious with Wade all season long in terms of back-to-back sets, and Erik Spoelstra has said more than once that Wade will be essentially a game-time decision for the remainder of the regular season.

4:26 p.m. ET: Bobcats 100, Raptors 95 (FINAL): This score would have been a bit of a surprise anyway, considering that the Raptors had largely been playing much better and the Bobcats even with the win are still seven games under .500 on the season. But it’s even more of a shock considering that Toronto no-showed for the early part of this one, and trailed by as many as 30 before staging a furious comeback that fell just short.

Kyle Lowry was the one who sparked the Raptors, scoring 14 fourth quarter points and having a chance to tie it at the free throw line with under 25 seconds remaining. He missed the chance to complete the three-point play, however, and the Bobcats finished the game by hitting seven free throws to seal it. Ramon Sessions finished with 23 points on just 10 shots for Charlotte, and Al Jefferson had a monster game with 22 points, 19 rebounds, seven assists and two blocked shots.

4:18 p.m. ET: Wizards – Sixers: Here’s Jan Vesely with a violent rejection of a shot attempt from Michael Carter-Williams. Wizards cruising late, however, up 100-88 with 3:51 to play.

3:58 p.m. ET: Nets – Knicks: Brooklyn leads 52-38 at the half, behind 20 points from Joe Johnson, who has been killing teams early over his last several games. The key for the Nets has been ball movement, which has created wide open looks that the team has been able to convert at a clip of 51.2 percent. Carmelo Anthony is leading the way for New York with 15 points, but the Knicks as a team are shooting just 33.3 percent and have committed 11 first-half turnovers.

3:40 p.m. ET: Mavericks 102, Cavaliers 97 (FINAL): This was a game that Dallas led by as many as 24 points, but the Cavaliers managed to come all the way back to have a chance to tie with 2.8 seconds remaining. But Mike Brown isn’t exactly known for his ability to draw up anything remotely competent offensively, and the Cavs couldn’t even inbound the ball to get the tying shot off, and were whistled for the rare five-second call that sealed it.

Kyrie Irving finished with 26 points (albeit on 27 shots), and Anderson Varejao ended up with a game-high 21 rebounds in the losing effort. Monta Ellis had nine points in the final period for Dallas, but missed two critical free throws that gave Cleveland the final opportunity to tie, which was ultimately squandered.

3:14 p.m. ET: Clippers – Pistons: L.A. is firmly in control, leading 103-85 with 6:52 to play. We told you earlier about the dunking of DeAndre Jordan, and apparently the trend continued as the game went on. [Hat tip to our friends at Basketball Insiders]

3:06 p.m. ET: Wizards – Sixers: Michael Carter-Williams is feasting for Philly, even as the Wizards maintain a 57-47 lead with 1:45 to play in the first half.

3:01 p.m. ET: Knicks – Nets: Brooklyn got Deron Williams back after a five-game absence, but went with its same starting lineup and brought him off the bench. The Knicks started small (much to their fans’ delight) with Pablo Prigioni similarly returning today from injury. Joe Johnson has been lighting teams up in first quarters lately, and today has been no different — he has 10 points early, and the Nets lead the Knicks 21-12 with 3:24 remaining in the opening period.

Shaun Livingston had a nice block that led to a transition slam in the game’s opening minutes.

2:52 p.m. ET: Raptors – Bobcats: Toronto was coming off of a disappointing home loss to the Lakers on Sunday, and were looking to bounce back against a Bobcats team that just lost Kemba Walker for the next two weeks or so with a sprained ankle. So, naturally, Charlotte is up by 18 with 4:39 to play in the first half. Al Jefferson has 12 points early for the Bobcats.

Wizards – Sixers: Washington is up nine on the Sixers early in the second quarter, behind 10 points from John Wall, and seven apiece from trevor Ariza, Marcin Gortat, and Bradley Beal.

2:04 p.m. ET: Here’s the league’s Dream Big spot to get us started, featuring Chris Bosh of the Miami Heat.

Jordan Brand has specially-designed kicks that their athletes (including Blake Griffin and Ray Allen) will be wearing to celebrate the holiday, as well as Black History Month which begins in February.


Mavericks – Cavaliers: Dallas is all over Cleveland late in the second quarter, leading 51-33 with 2:27 to play in the first half. Shawn Marion has 14 points on 5-of-5 shooting to lead the way for the Mavs, while the Cavaliers are shooting just 34.3 percent.

Clippers – Pistons: The Clippers are also up double-digits midway through the second, thanks to shooting almost 68 percent as a team behind a combined 15-of-18 shooting from Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, and Jamal Crawford. It’s 51-41 L.A. with 4:16 remaining in the first half. It’s been a bit of a dunk-fest early, which included this reverse finish from Jordan on an alley-oop pass from beyond half-court.

The Extra Pass: The Raptors press pause, plus Wednesday’s recaps

Toronto Raptors vs Indiana Pacers
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When Masai Ujiri jumped from the Denver Nuggets to the Toronto Raptors to take over as general manager, the objective was clear. Ujiri was to do what he does best: tear it down, and try to salvage as much value as possible from the mistakes made by the previous regime.

Ujiri hasn’t failed to live up to expectations. Getting a future first-round pick from an organization as dysfunctional as the Knicks…for Andrea Bargnani? Magic. Dumping Rudy Gay’s potentially massive deal next season on the Sacramento Kings? Smart.

There’s been some major addition by subtraction going on, as the Raptors are very clearly a much better team on both ends without the inefficiency of Gay and the ineptitude of Bargnani.

Dwane Casey, who looked to be playing the role of a lame duck coach, has cobbled together the 8th best defense in the league. Casey is often criticized, but he hangs his hat on defense, and the Raptors have bought in on that end.

Toronto’s vastly improved play (they’re at .500 and would host a playoff series if the season ended today) presents an interesting situation. Can the Raptors put their rebuild on hold? Is giving Ujiri a yellow light in potential trades, particularly given what he’s been able to pull off so far, the best thing for the long-term health of the franchise? Can Ujiri maintain the respect of the players and coaching staff if he continues the rebuilding process when the Raptors are playing their best basketball in a very long time?

Perhaps these are good problems to have, especially opposed to more hopeless ones — like not having enough talent. Toronto has been there, done that.

And while it seems unlikely that Ujiri will stop wheeling and dealing altogether, there are landmines everywhere on the roster. DeMar DeRozan, the player most likely to go in a full rebuild because of his long-term deal, may be the hardest worker and biggest fan-favorite on the team.

People can and will fall  in love with this group, so long as Ujiri lets them. While a general manager’s job isn’t to coddle fans, Ujiri will have a hard time selling the desire to create a “winning culture” if he puts a stop to one that’s developing.

Half measures in the NBA are usually met with derision. You should be all-in, or all-out, all the time. But the Raptors are a good example of why everything isn’t always so cut and dry. Every team wants to reach the same destination, naturally, but there are detours unique to each franchise along the way.

For the Raptors, that detour has been brought on by more winning. Good on them if they ride it out.

D.J. Foster


Nets 102, Warriors 98: Brooklyn was without Deron Williams in this one, but still managed to end the Warriors’ 10-game winning streak thanks to 27 points from Joe Johnson, a nice overall performance from the bench unit and a throwback fourth quarter from Kevin Garnett. KG had 11 points in just eight minutes of the final period, to go along with three rebounds and two steals — one of which came against Stephen Curry on a critical possession with just 12 seconds left. Curry and Klay Thompson both had below average shooting nights for the second straight game, and played 45 and 43 minutes respectively on the second night of a back-to-back set to end a long seven-game road trip. That’s not ideal for the Warriors, and they may need to trade for some additional help if they want to achieve their ultimate goal this season. –– BP

Spurs 112, Mavericks 90: We’ll go out on a limb here and point out that when four of your team’s starting five, including your franchise’s best player combine to shoot 10-of-36 fro the field, you’re probably not going to win on that particular night. The box score on the Mavericks end looked like a horror show in that regard, with only Monta Ellis and Vince Carter managing to finish in double figures scoring. The Spurs were efficient as always, shooting 52.6 percent as a team with Tony Parker and Tim Duncan leading the way with rock solid performances. — BP

Raptors 112, Pistons 91: Toronto has solidified itself as the third best team in the East since trading Rudy Gay to Sacramento, and the Pistons continue to struggle in fourth quarters to the point where it’s becoming as darkly comical as it is predictable. Something happens to Detroit at halftime, and whatever it is needs to change or the team will have trouble snapping out of a losing funk that’s now reached six straight games. In this one, the Pistons managed just 37 second half points as they were outscored by 25 points over the game’s final two periods. — BP

Hawks 97, Pacers 87: Sometimes, it’s easy to explain why an elite team lost to an average one, and this was a prime example. When Roy Hibbert disappears, so does the Pacers’ status as one of the league’s best teams. Hibbert couldn’t do much of anything offensively, and finished 1-of-8 from the field with two points and four rebounds in 22 minutes. That contributed to an inefficient 11-of-25 performance from Paul George, but for a Pacers team playing its fourth game in five nights, this was a schedule loss more than anything else. The Hawks had five players finish in double figures, and led by as many as 25 points. — BP

Wizards 102, Pelicans 96: Washington took charge of this game with a 12-0 run to start the second quarter on a night they got good bench play from guys like Garrett Temple and Jan Vesely. It looked like the Wizards would get a laugher, leading by 23 in the fourth quarter, but a 21-4 New Orleans run made it interesting late. Trevor Ariza had 21 points including some key threes, and John Wall had 20. Eric Gordon led a listless Pelicans team with 23. — KH

Rockets 113, Lakers 99: Houston got focused in the third quarter and ran away with it behind 38 points from James Harden. We broke this game down in more detail here. –KH

Suns 104, Timberwolves 103: Minnesota continues to find painful ways to lose close games — Phoenix went on a 9-1 run to close out the game capped by a Gerald Green bucket to come from behind to steal a win. This was a Suns team without Eric Bledsoe on the second night of a back-to-back, but they executed at the end of the game and once again the Timberwolves did not — Minnesota is now 0-10 in games decided by four points or less. Some of that is bad luck, but some of it is just execution under pressure and this team has to figure out how to do that if they are going to get over .500. Goran Dragic had 26 for the Suns, Kevin Martin had 20 for the Timberwolves. — KH

Trail Blazers 110, Magic 94: Orlando actually led much of the first three quarters and looked like they might pull off an upset — mostly because the vaunted Blazers offense was off, shooting just 41.8 percent through three quarters. Orlando also got a boost from Arron Afflalo, who had 14 of his 22 in the second quarter. Then Portland woke up for the fourth, shot 60 percent, knocked down 5 threes and won the final 12 minutes 39-19. Ballgame. LaMarcus Aldridge had 26 points for Portland. –KH

Clippers 111, Celtics 105: Every win the Clippers get without Chris Paul in the lineup is a good one — they are 3-1 since the injury. The Clippers raced out to a 26-10 lead behind Blake Griffin, who had 11 of his 29 in the first quarter. Then of course the Clippers relaxed and Boston fought back, but in the third the Clippers regained control and held on for the win. Jamal Crawford had 26 for the Clippers. Avery Bradley and Jordan Crawford each had 24 for Boston. Oh, and Griffin destroyed Kris Humphries on a dunk. — KH