Jonas Valanciunas earned a Flagrant 1 for that foul, which is about right. That’s not a basketball play, that’s putting a guy to the floor. I don’t think Valanciunas meant anything by it — if you’re going to foul LeBron James you better foul hard or he’ll go right through you for the and-1 — and that’s why he tried to help LeBron up.
But LeBron was having none of it.
From the Raptors’ perspective, I’ll take that foul. Toronto struggled to contain Cleveland’s offense all night so a little intimidation in the paint is something I could live with if I’m coach Dwane Casey. And Valanciunas put up big numbers — 26 points and 11 rebounds.
If I’m Cleveland, I’ll just take the win, thank you very much. Cleveland, Toronto, and Chicago are all in a virtual tie for the two, three and four seeds now in the East. Wins like this show why Cleveland will finish the two seed.
Five Things We Learned in NBA Monday: Goran Dragic got his revenge in concentrated form
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 you were remembering Hank Gathers…
1) For Goran Dragic, revenge is a dish best served in concentrated form. Miami’s Goran Dragic played just fewer than 15 minutes against his old team, the Phoenix Suns. You know, the team he kicked on the way out the door (and they have kicked back). Turns out 15 minutes was plenty — Dragic had 21 points on 5-of-9 shooting, got to the free throw line nine times, and helped the Heat to a 115-98 win. Dragic said after the game his back was bothering him so much that he would have sat out against anyone else. But revenge is a great motivator.
2) DeMar DeRozan made sure the Raptors were going to get a win somehow. The Toronto Raptors had lost five in a row and needed a slump buster. A win, no matter how ugly. They got it in the form of Philadelphia, and DeMar DeRozan was going to make sure they got the victory — 35 points and nine rebounds. Even when the Sixers guarded him well — and they didn’t do that consistently — he was making plays, hitting 6-of-9 on contested shots on the night. We’ll see if the Raps can build on this, but for now it’s a win.
3) Stephen Curry is just not fair. Just like it had been in Boston, Golden State started slow in Brooklyn then tried to make a furious late comeback from down double digits — and that comeback was all Stephen Curry. He reminded everyone why he is an MVP frontrunner putting up 18 fourth quarter points. He showed off his handles, he showed off his jumper, he showed off his hesitation move, he was just making plays. When Curry gets going, there is no more entertaining player in the NBA.
4) Yet Curry’s fireworks were not enough — Jarrett Jack got the Nets the win. Brooklyn needed the win; they are one of six Eastern Conference teams that started the day within 2.5 games and all battling for the final two playoff spots. The Nets need wins. They got off to a fast start, shooting 16-of-22 to start the game, they had Brook Lopez put up 26, but they needed Jack to do his thing at the end to secure the win.
5) Blood clots are becoming a real issue in the NBA. Chris Bosh got out of the hospital but is sidelined for the rest of this season with blood clots in his lungs. The thing is, he is not alone in dealing with this condition. As David Aldridge noted in his must-read Monday column at NBA.com, Brooklyn’s Mirza Teletovic was shut down for the season in January for this and Cleveland’s Anderson Varejao missed the second half of the 2012-13 season for this. It’s not just the NBA, the NHL and MLB have had to face this issue. Aldridge laid it out well.
“I think this is something that’s on our radar,” said Gregg Farnam, the Minnesota Timberwolves head athletic trainer and director of medical operations, and the current chair of the National Basketball Athletic Trainers Association, on Saturday.
“It’s something that, in speaking with the league office, we’re in the process of assembling some team athletic trainers, some physicians, some specialists across the country to look deeper into this issue and see if there’s any correlation, and within that correlation see if there’s anything we need to do differently,” said Farnam, who’s in his 18th season with Minnesota and 15th as head athletic trainer.
The extensive travel and time spent on planes by NBA players would, at first glance, be a prime suspect in the causation of clots. Travel of several hours or more at a time — a regular part of the job description for NBA players — is believed to increase the risk of developing embolisms or deep vein thrombosis. Because people sit on planes and leg movement tends to be restricted on flights, even on the charter planes all NBA teams now use, blood can pool in the legs and clots can develop — especially if a player is dehydrated after playing.
It’s something the league needs look into.
Warriors’ Festus Ezeli suspended one game for grabbing Tyler Hansbrough’s throat
If you grab a player by the throat, you’re going to get a suspension.
That’s what Warriors’ big man Festus Ezeli did in his first game back from injury Friday night against the Raptors. Late in the third quarter Ezeli and Tyler Hansbrough battled for rebound position, they started to head back up the court and, likely after some words were exchanged, Ezeli turned and grabbed Hansbrough by the throat. The two squared off, but people got in the way before any punches were thrown, as is the NBA way.
The league came out Saturday and announced Ezeli was suspended one game. He will sit out Sunday vs. the Celtics.