LeBron James

Kobe Bryant, LeBron James

LeBron James misses alley-oop dunk, Kobe thinks it’s funny (VIDEO)


The spring is back in LeBron James’ legs. So much so that against the Lakers he overshot an alley-oop dunk and slammed it off the back of the rim and missed.

Kobe Bryant and LeBron had a good laugh at that one.

LeBron had the last laugh, he had 36 points and his Cavaliers snapped their six-game losing streak at the expense of the Lakers.

Five Things We Learned in NBA Thursday: Doc Rivers the coach should be mad at Doc Rivers the GM

New York Knicks v Los Angeles Clippers

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 clearing your schedule for the Saturday Night Live marathon

1) Doc Rivers the GM is making it very hard for Doc Rivers the coach. I thought this season the Clippers would take a step forward. Last year they built a foundation, this season they would build on that and move into to true contender status. I was wrong. At least so far. The Clippers are not a bad team by any stretch — they’re 26-13 with two of the top dozen players in the world — but they have not looked the part of contender. One issue is defense, specifically consistency of effort on the defensive end.

But the other issue is depth and lack of good play from the three spot. Which is why the trade the Clippers finalized Thursday makes no sense — they traded two wing players (Reggie Bullock and Chris Douglas-Roberts) plus a draft pick to get a combo guard in Austin Rivers. Is Rivers an upgrade over Jordan Farmar? I would say it’s a wash, save that Rivers is younger and maybe can be developed into something. But GM Doc Rivers traded away two players at a position of need — not great players, but players — for one lateral move at a position where they were okay. Outside of nepotism I don’t see any logic behind this. Even if the Clippers round out the roster with free agents such as Nate Robinson and Tayshaun Prince, that doesn’t make this trade logical. Doc Rivers the coach should be pissed at Doc Rivers the GM.

2) James Harden wants your MVP vote. This was more than James Harden reminding Sam Presti and Thunder fans what they are missing, this was Harden making his MVP case on the big stage of a Thursday night, nationally televised game against another contender. Harden had 19 points in the first quarter (the Rockets had 40) and finished with 31 points, 10 assists and 9 rebounds. Harden can always attack and get to the line, but when his three is falling — he was 6-of-8 — you can’t defend him. Harden was also 7-of-10 on contested shots, he just could not miss. Most observers have Stephen Curry and Harden as the top two people on their MVP ballot at the midway point, Harden just came out and made his case Thursday.

3) It’s still fun to watch Kobe Bryant and LeBron James go at each other. We’re not going to get to see nights like this again for very long, where two of the greats of the game go at each other head-to-head, jawing with each other through it all. And with a smile on their face the whole time. LeBron and Kobe put on a great show (the Cavs won), we need to savor these moments when they happen.

4) The Phoenix Suns just make smart little pickups. Out of today’s Austin Rivers’ trade Phoenix picks up Reggie Bullock for next to nothing. That is the kind of move a smart team makes. Bullock is in his second season and hasn’t been able to really crack the Clippers rotation, but he has shown promise. Last season he was raw and not ready, this season his shooting numbers improved (including 38.5 percent from three) and he continues to show flashes of what he can do as a defender. Doc has the Clippers in a win-now place and just couldn’t give the minutes to develop. The Suns can give him some run (in a more open system) and he could thrive there and become part of their rotation. Oh, and he’s still on his rookie contract.

5) Knicks are horrid no matter what continent you put them on. Carmelo Anthony was back — he wanted to be on the big international stage and he played fairly well putting up 25 points (although the rust showed on the eight turnovers). That doesn’t change the fact the Knicks are just hard to watch. With this game in London Knicks highlights should have the Benny Hill theme “Yakety Sax” as a soundtrack. The Bucks kept moving off the ball on offense and lost their man all game, the Knicks just watched them. The Bucks trust their system and are growing to trust their teammates. The Knicks… tear it down to build it back up. Phil Jackson did the right things with these recent trades, it’s a better plan than the quick fix option we have seen there for so long. But that doesn’t make this team with 16 straight losses any easier to watch.

Kobe Bryant was dishing, jawing, but LeBron answered with 36 to lead Cavaliers victory


We should savor these showdowns, because there aren’t going to be many more.

It may only be a couple more times that Kobe Bryant and LeBron James line up opposite each other — and when they do you can’t always expect the kind of “anything you can do I can do better” kind of show the two put on Thursday night in Los Angeles. It had the feel of an All-Star Game — the stars went at each other and jawed through it all, but with a smile on their faces.

It was role reversal night. Kobe, the guy known as the gunner, came out setting up teammates from the opening tip — he had eight assists in the first quarter on is way to a career high 17 dimes on the night. He chipped in 19 points on 14 shots, too.

LeBron, the star known as the willing passer, was the one just scoring — including 11 in the fourth quarter — on his way to 36 points on the night. LeBron was doing it inside and out, shooting 7-of-9 inside eight feet, but also knocking down four threes (on 10 shots).

LeBron’s model worked better for a night (and he got more help) and the Cavaliers won 109-102. That snapped a six-games losing streak for the Cavs.

The Cavs won because they played more defense. After allowing the Lakers to shoot 58 percent in the first half the Cavs clamped down in the third and held the Lakers to 30 percent shooting in the third. That’s when the Cavs took control of the game and the outcome was never really in doubt after that, even though the Lakers made some shots late to make it interesting.

But that’s not what we’re going to remember from this game.

We’re going to remember Kobe and LeBron going at it. Kobe looked like five years younger, he had a bounce in his step and let everyone know it. LeBron, as he has for a couple games now since taking a couple weeks off to get his body right, looks fresh and explosive again.

We just need to savor nights like this.

Report: Cavs, Clippers, Heat, Wizards interested in Nate Robinson

Nate Robinson

Now that Nate Robinson has officially been bought out by the Celtics following the trade from Denver, several teams are sniffing around signing him. There are some interesting names in here, including the Cavs and Clippers, according to Yahoo’s Marc Spears:

The Cavs and Clippers are not natural fits for Robinson, at all. The Clippers already have Jamal Crawford, and just traded for Austin Rivers, so they have more than enough undersized combo guards. Cleveland just traded for J.R. Smith and got LeBron James back from injury, so unless they have more than one ball to play with, that pairing doesn’t make a lot of sense, either.

We’ll see where Robinson lands, but the teams that have been linked to him so far are puzzling to say the least.

Report: Nets having ‘accelerated trade discussions’ for Brook Lopez, inquiring about Lance Stephenson

Brooklyn Nets V Memphis Grizzlies

The Nets put it out there earlier in the season that any one of their high-salary stars could be had in trade, but with the contracts of Joe Johnson, Deron Williams and Brook Lopez, it was always going to be difficult to find a willing partner.

Lopez is perhaps the most tradable of the three, given the combination of his deal and skill set.

It now appears as though the Nets fully intend to move him, and are interested in doing so quite soon.

From Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

Brooklyn has accelerated trade discussions for Brook Lopez with the intention on moving him soon, league sources tell Yahoo Sports.

Nets talking to several teams, but officials around league say Nets making second hard push for intel on Charlotte’s Lance Stephenson.

Lance Stephenson is an intriguing prospect, but has baggage in the form of locker room issues firmly attached. The veterans in Indiana were able to largely keep him in check, but in the playoffs last season, once LeBron James was on the other side of the floor, all bets were off.

Stephenson has underperformed during his first season in Charlotte, a combination of being asked to take on an expanded role while also dealing with injuries. His contract isn’t great, but it’s better than that of Lopez, who has had problems conforming to Brooklyn head coach Lionel Hollins’ demands, especially on the defensive end of the floor.

But this report only says the Nets are looking into Stephenson, and many other teams are involved in the discussions. All we really can glean from this is that Brooklyn is determined to deal Lopez by the Feb. 19 trade deadline, which is still more than 30 days out.