Great news: West's season has been quiet

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Delonte West is completely unique in every conceivable way. Beyond his personality, though, West’s life has some equally unique — at least by NBA standards — challenges; West was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, a fact which became public in the aftermath of a pretty bizarre incident involving West, a motorcycle, and three guns.

The memory of that event is easy to recall. After all, West was arrested just prior to this season, and the details are certainly memorable. His arrest and his diagnosis, though, have slipped out of NBA consciousness without incident. There hasn’t been a series of Pullitzer-winning pieces about West’s struggle with his disorder and daily victories in spite of it. It’s not because those victories and struggles aren’t there, but because West and the Cleveland Cavaliers have handled West’s specific case perfectly.

From Brian Windhorst of the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

The Cavs, who look to continue their eight-game winning streak when they close their trip against the San Antonio Spurs tonight, have enjoyed plenty of successes during this season. But perhaps a major, if overlooked, accomplishment is the team effort that has helped West become more balanced emotionally. That includes work West has done himself.

…The team has constantly protected West, who has declined all interviews since media day in September. There is little or no talk of his ongoing battle with a mood disorder, which West has said is bi-polar disorder. There is no mention of West’s pending court case in Maryland on gun charges. Just a quiet but diligent following of a process that West’s teammates, West’s doctors and West himself follow on a daily basis.

…West still has rough days and there almost certainly with be more to come. But getting West mostly stabilized and playing well again has so far been a remarkable accomplishment by a wide range of team officials and doctors.

That includes the management done by general manager Danny Ferry, head coach Mike Brown and his assistant coaches, athletic trainer Max Benton, director of team security Marvin Cross and several other doctors and therapists who have worked with West privately on an intense level.

“He’s got a nice support staff around him,” Brown said. “Including some other people behind the scenes. There’s a lot of support there for him and there will continue to be. He’s a part of our family and we take a lot of pride in trying to take care of everybody.”

There have been plenty of situations where NBA teams appear to mishandle atypical situations, but the Cavs not only appear to be reacting appropriately in terms of giving West the support he needs, but also in protecting him from extended media coverage. There will eventually be a day for West’s story to be documented, and to an extent it already is. But the additional probing and questioning that comes with significant media coverage probably isn’t something West needs to be dealing with right now. Thanks to the Cavs’ understanding of the situation, he doesn’t have to.  

Watch Dinwiddie get ejected for elbow to Poole’s face; Mavs still win behind Doncic 41 points

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Dallas has gotten in trouble this season because of a lack of secondary shot creation behind Luka Doncic, so when Spencer Dinwiddie got ejected for an elbow to the face of Golden State’s Jordan Poole, it seemed like the Mavericks might be in danger of falling to the Warriors.

Doncic had other plans — and a 41-point triple-double.

The ejection happened early in the fourth quarter, when Dinwiddie drove the lane on Poole and, bringing the ball up, elbowed Poole in the face.

That was reviewed by the referees who ruled it a Flagrant 2. The league has cracked down on blows to the face and head — intentional or not — the past couple of seasons.

Dinwiddie being out just meant more Luka — and that was bad news for the Warriors.

Despite Doncic and his triple-double, the Warriors had a couple of chances in the final seconds. First, Stephen Curry got called for a travel.

The Warriors argued that call but got nowhere with the referees. But they got one more chance on a Klay Thompson 3 to tie, but it was just not their night.

The Mavericks got the 116-113 win. Tim Hardaway Jr. pitched in 25 points, including five 3-pointers for Dallas. Curry led the Warriors with 32.

Timberwolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns out 4-6 weeks with calf strain

Minnesota Timberwolves v Washington Wizards
Rob Carr/Getty Images
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It’s not good news, but it looked like it could have been much worse.

Timberwolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns is out for weeks with a right calf strain, the team announced Tuesday following an MRI exam. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reports it is likely 4-6 weeks.

The injury occurred midway through the third quarter Monday when Towns started to run back upcourt and went to the ground without contact, grabbing his knee and calf. It looked scary — Achilles scary — and he had to be helped off the court.

Towns has averaged 21.4 points and 8.5 rebounds a game, and while his numbers are down this season — just 32.8% on 3-pointers — the team has struggled at times without him, particularly lineups with Rudy Gobert and Anthony Edwards together, an -11.8 net rating (in non-garbage time minutes, via Cleaning the Glass).

Kevin Durant on chasing MVP: ‘Not really, I’ve been there, done that’

Orlando Magic v Brooklyn Nets
Mike Stobe/Getty Images
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Kevin Durant carried the Nets to another win Monday night, scoring 45 points on 19-of-24 shooting, plus seven rebounds and five assists.

If you’re having an MVP conversation a quarter of the way into the NBA season, Durant has to be part of it: 30 points per game on 54.8% shooting (and a ridiculous 65.9 true shooting percentage), 6.6 rebounds and 5.5 assists a game, plus playing solid defense and being the anchor of the Nets. After his 45-point outing to get Brooklyn a win over Orlando, Durant was asked about MVP chants and the chase for the award and was clearly not interested.

Durant has MVP numbers, but so do Stephen Curry, Luka Doncic, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jayson Tatum and others. If Durant is going to move to the front of the conversation, the first thing that has to happen is Brooklyn has to win a lot more games — 11-11 is not going to cut it when Tatum’s Celtics and Antetokounmpo’s Bucks have the two best records in the NBA. Winning games and finishing on a top-three team in the conference matters to some voters (and traditionally is one measure of an MVP).

Watch Herb Jones inbound off Pokusevski’s back, seal win for Pelicans

Oklahoma City Thunder v New Orleans Pelicans
Layne Murdoch Jr./NBAE via Getty Images
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With 2.3 seconds left in the game and the Thunder down 2, they needed to steal the inbounds pass from New Orleans to have a real chance. That’s why when Aleksej Pokusevski walked on the court it looked like he was going to guard the inbounder, Herbert Jones.

Instead, Pokusevski turned his back to Jones, putting himself in position to step in front of anyone cutting to the ball to catch the inbounds. Except, Jones made the clever play to seal the game.

Pokusevski fouled Jones, who sank both free throws and sealed the 105-101 Pelicans win.

The Pelicans got 23-8-8 from Zion Williamson and picked up a win without CJ McCollum or Brandon Ingram in the lineup. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander continued his dominant start to the season and scored 31.