Will the Hornets ever lose again?

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Before you start to freak out, I’m kidding with that headline. Let’s not bust out the 72-10 tracker yet. Though, I guess, if we started one for the 6-4 Miami Heat we have every right to kickstart one for the Hornets, who improved to 8-0 Saturday night with a 107-87 victory over the Blazers, or as I like to call them, “the Walking Dead.”

The Hornets are now 8-0, the best team, record-wise, in the Western Conference. If the playoffs started today, New Orleans would be the No. 1 overall seed. It goes on, like that, for a bit.

So the question has to be asked when will the Hornets lose again, if ever? (Joke!)

Dell Demps told me tonight in a text message answer to that question, simply “Soon.” So it would appear he’s not readying an 82-0 banner any time in the near future. Predictable for a general manager to expect his team to lose eventually, even as he’s probably giddy at the start in his first year on the job with the Hornets.

But, seriously.

When are the Hornets going to lose?

This week provides a convenient opportunity as the Hornets play a home and home with the Dallas Mavericks. A perennial playoff team that’s especially good in the regular season and has both the size and guard play to at least hang with the Hornets? Sounds perfect. Except the Hornets have kind of owned Dallas, matchup-wise, in recent history. Plus, the Hornets have Dallas at home for the tougher second game. If they can get the matchup advantages in the first game, the home crowd might carry them in the second. Then it’s a Friday tilt against the Cavaliers, who are fiesty and tough, but let’s face it, not in the Hornets league at the moment. Alone, Chris Paul is a big enough advantage for that one to swing their way.

Then it’s a four-game trip that opens with a back-to-back at Sacramento and at the Los Angeles Clippers. Yawn. The way these Hornets are playing, they’ll be able to rest starters in the fourth quarter of each of these games.

Then comes the big one.

At Utah on Wednesday, Nov. 24.

It would be fitting for this to be the big game, and the one they lose. A Utah club that suddenly seems as invincible as the Hornets. Deron Williams, Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson to match David West and Emeka Okafor. Bench depth, versatile small forwards, plucky shooting guards. It’s a dream matchup that has to be considered the heavy favorite for when this ridiculous Hornets streak will end.

After that there’s Portland, San Antonio, and Oklahoma City.  If it gets to that point? We’re dealing with something that goes well beyond just a normal hot start.

We’ll just have to keep watching and see if the Hornets surprise us some more.

LeBron likes Instagram of Kyrie Irving in Lakers jersey, Internet goes berserk

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The Lakers landing Kyrie Irving in free agency this summer might be their best realistic option. It’s far, far from a lock — the Knicks, and yes Celtics, will make their pitch, too — but reuniting the pair that won a title in Cleveland is on the Lakers’ radar. (Insert your own, “you know who should coach this team” Tyronn Lue joke here.)

Fueling the speculation, LeBron James and Irving were seen hanging out together at a club in Los Angeles recently. Then Friday, this happened: Cuffthelegend posted this on Instagram and LeBron liked it.

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I like how this feels

A post shared by Savage Season 365 (@cuffsthelegend) on

(For the record, Cuffthelegend gets some stuff right, he’s not a guy who posts stuff out of nowhere.)

Of course, NBA Twitter and the web responded to this in its usual measured, thoughtful way. Some Lakers fans think the deal is done, others mock the idea altogether.

Two thoughts on Irving and the Lakers:

• Multiple reports say Irving is open to it. Irving also has a strong relationship with Kevin Durant, and Boston still plans to trade for Anthony Davis and then try to re-sign Irving (even if Boston fans are done with Kyrie). The only person who knows which way Irving is leaning right now is Irving, and there’s a good chance he changes his mind in the next five weeks anyway.

• If the Lakers are going to land a star free agent this summer, it will be because LeBron was an active recruiter. These elite players have options, and the Laker front office is not inspiring confidence of late, it will be on LeBron to win guys over.

 

Jeremy Lin: Milwaukee security guard asked for my pass to Raptors team bus

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Jeremy Lin has discussed people not believing he plays in the NBA.

It apparently still happens.

Lin, whose Raptors are playing the Bucks in the Eastern Conference finals, via Bill Michaels Sports Talk Network:

After Game 2 in Milwaukee, I was trying to get to the team bus and one of the dudes in the Milwaukee arena just screams at me. He’s like, “Where do you think you’re going?!” And I’m like, “Uh, I’m trying to get to the team bus.” He’s like, “What?! Where’s your pass?” I was like, “I don’t have a pass. I don’t know what you’re talking about. I don’t have a pass.”

This happens in a lot of arenas, so I just kind of go with the flow.

It’s a fine line. Lin shouldn’t be profiled as a non-athlete because he’s Asian-American. Arena staffers should keep everyone safe by stopping unauthorized people.

PBT Podcast: What’s next for Boston, Philadelphia, Denver? (And some playoff talk)

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Will Kyrie Irving stay in Boston? If not, what is Plan B?

Is Jimmy Butler back in Philadelphia next season? If he is will Tobias Harris be back?

What are the next steps to turn Denver into a contender?

I get into all of those things with the wise Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports (and Celtics Blog, and Real GM), we break down those three teams recently turned out of the playoffs. We also start off talking about teams actually in the playoffs, particularly Toronto’s comeback in the Eastern Conference Finals, and how those teams can take advantage against the Warriors with Kevin Durant out.

As always, you can check out the podcast below, listen and subscribe via iTunes at ApplePodcasts.com/PBTonNBC, subscribe via the fantastic Stitcher app, check us out on Google play, or check out the NBC Sports Podcast homepage and archive at Art19.

We want your questions for future podcasts, and your comments, so please email us at PBTpodcast@gmail.com.

Nikola Jokic’s All-NBA first-team selection shows his meteoric rise

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Just four years ago, Nikola Jokic was a second-round pick still playing in the Adriatic League. Just three years ago, he was battling a struggling Jusuf Nurkic to be the Nuggets’ main center.

Yesterday, Jokic made the All-NBA first team.

Jokic has risen incredibly quickly. Before this season, he had never even been an All-Star.

That makes Jokic the first non-rookie in NBA history to make an All-NBA first team without a prior All-Star season (including ABA All-Stars).

The No. 41 pick in the 2014 draft, Jokic is just the fourth second-rounder to make an All-NBA first team since the NBA-ABA merger. The others: DeAndre Jordan, Marc Gasol and Marc Price.

For most players not immediately deemed to hold first-round talent, it takes a while to build stature in the NBA. Jokic made the All-NBA first team in just his fourth season. That’s way sooner than Gasol (seventh season), Price (seventh season) and Jordan (eighth season):

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The Nuggets didn’t wait for this honor to make Jokic their franchise player. They gave him a near-max contract last summer, and by leading them into the second round of the playoffs, he triggered incentives to reach a max salary.

Denver has built a young supporting cast – mainly Jamal Murray and Gary Harris – to grow with Jokic. The Nuggets also signed veteran Paul Millsap, whose defense complements Jokic’s offensive-minded game.

So much is coming together so quickly for Denver, and Jokic’s honor is just the latest example.