“‘Twas the Night Before NBA Christmas”: A celebratory preview poem

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If, for some reason, you’re not so inclined, here’s the source material. We tried to stick to the rhyme scheme, but I’m like “The Jerk” in terms of rhythm.

‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all through “The A,”

I was straining and searching for someting to say;

The Celtics had proven that they were the best,

While Laker fans continued to puff up their chests;

The Heat were all comfy, snuggled in beds;

While visions of delusion danced in their head ;

And I in my mom’s basement listening to rap,

Was wondering what could fill the Christmas eve gap,

When out in Sacramento there arose such a clatter,

But no one did notice for the Kings do not matter.

Still I pondered the league and all of its might,

While wondering if the union would last through the night.

Thabeet it appears could be on the go

And yet of the Grizzlies, still no one would know,

When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,

But David Stern bringing such games full or cheer,

With Heat-Lakers, Celts-Magic, and a few teams that are quick,

St. Stern had given us such great games to pick.

Orlando just traded to spark up a flame,

Hoping new blood would bring up their game;

“Now, ‘Renas! now, Hedo! now, JRich and Redick!

On, JWill! on Bass! on, Jameer and Malik!

To the top of the arc! To the top of the key!

But don’t let them foul Dwight, his free throws aren’t free!”

As King James before the transition dunk fly,

When on defense he manages to stick with his guy,

So up top of the rankings the Celtics flew,

With Donkey and Shrek and conductor Shaq too.

And then, in a twinkling, I thought of Roy, so aloof

The fretting and freaking about a bad hoof.

“Surely” I thought, “the Warriors can stick!”,

And then I remembered David Lee tossing bricks.

Then I thought about Kevin Durant and yelled “Woot!”,

As he continues to leave his opponents in soot;

A bundle of joy now that Melo’s back,

But which team does he play for? I’ve kind of lost track .

Amar’e eyes — how they twinkled! His jersey now blue-ish!

A star power forward, and to top it, he’s Jewish!

Phil’s droll little mouth has drawn up like a bow,

Even as fines will be given, you know;

The snarl of a champion Kobe holds in his teeth,

While Pau asks for the ball and we all say “Good grief!”;

Still the Lakers are champs, and long may they reign,

Because sometimes, to be honest, LeBron’s just a pain.

But as Bryant and James on the hardwood do meet,

We’re reminded that this time in the league’s kind of neat;

Lakers and Heat, Celts are Orlando bound,

Nugs-Thunder and one more when you’re unwound;

The Blazers are injured, the Dubs kind of suck,

But when you have a set schedule, then this is your luck.

But to start the day I thought that they chose,

A fine opponent for Chicago, and with it, DRose;

For while Rondo’s awesome and CP3 gets a whistle,

Among point guards as knives, Derrick Rose is a pistol.

And so I laid back, happy tomorrow’s feast,

“Happy Christmas to all, man, Blake Griffin’s a beast.”

All of us at NBCSports.com’s ProBasketballTalk want to wish you and yours a very happy and safe holiday season. Thanks for reading.

Devin Booker says after latest Suns’ win “Kobe’s with me every day”

Devin Booker Kobe
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Devin Booker grew up a huge Kobe Bryant fan. When Booker made the league in 2016 he got to play against his idol and threw up 28 points on the night. Kobe was impressed. The two talked after the game and Kobe gave him an autographed pair of shoes with an inspirational message:

“Be Legendary.”

Booker took that to heart. He got the phrase as a tattoo. He’s been writing “Be Legendary” on his Nike’s before every game in the bubble. And after he scored 20 against the Pacers Thursday, helping the Suns remain undefeated for the restart, he said Kobe is still inspiring him every day.

“Kobe’s with me every day. You guys see what I put on my shoes with the ‘Be Legendary.’ It’s a reminder.”

Whatever he’s doing, it is working. Booker hit a Kobe-like turnaround game-winner to beat the Clippers. He’s averaging 28 points and 6.5 assists a game for the restart, and shooting 40% from three. Defenses are keying on him, but with a healthy Deandre Ayton and other players stepping up — Cameron Johnson has been a surprise standout in Orlando — the Suns look sharp and keep on winning.

Kobe would be proud.

 

Giannis Antetokounmpo drops 33 on Heat, Bucks secure No. 1 seed

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton scored 33 points each, and the Milwaukee Bucks overcame a huge early deficit to get a 130-116 win over the Miami Heat on Thursday to clinch the top seed in the Eastern Conference.

The Heat led by as many as 23 points in a first half where the team piled up 73 points despite playing without Jimmy Butler and Goran Dragic. Miami cooled off after the break and the Bucks took the lead in the third quarter but were down by 6 to start the fourth.

Antetokounmpo, the favorite to win his second MVP award, sat out about five minutes of the fourth quarter after collecting his fifth foul with 11 minutes to go. Milwaukee trailed by 1 with about five minutes remaining before using a 20-0 run, with three dunks from Antetokounmpo, to make it 130-111 with less than a minute to go and cruise to the victory.

Antetokounmpo and Middleton played 30 and 34 minutes respectively after the stars both sat out the entire second half of their last game on Tuesday.

Duncan Robinson had 21 points for the Heat, who lost to Milwaukee for the first time this season after winning the first two meetings.

The Heat led by 6 with about 11 minutes left in the fourth quarter when Antetokounmpo picked up his fifth foul on a charge and headed to the bench. Andre Iguodala made a 3 for Miami before the Bucks scored the next 13 points, capped by a 3 from Bledsoe, to take a 107-103 lead with about seven minutes remaining.

Robinson made a 3-pointer to end a scoring drought of almost four minutes for Miami with about 6 ½ minutes to go and Antetokounmpo re-entered the game soon after that.

The Heat led by 12 with about 10 minutes left in third quarter before Milwaukee used a 16-3 run to take an 82-81 lead with five minutes left in the quarter. Antetokounmpo and Wesley Matthews each had five points each in that span to help close the gap.

The Bucks cut the lead to 3 with a dunk by Antetokounmpo late in the third. But the Heat wrapped up the quarter with a 5-2 spurt to take a 98-92 lead into the fourth.

Report: Bulls likely to keep Jim Boylen as coach for financial reasons

Bulls coach Jim Boylen
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The Bulls appeared ready to fire Jim Boylen. After all, Chicago just hired a new team president in Arturas Karnisovas who’d want to pick his own coach. That was unlikely to be Boylen, whose tenure had been defined by players disliking him, ill-timed timeouts and losing.

Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times:

But as the Sun-Times learned this week, even if Karnisovas didn’t like what he would have seen from Boylen he would likely be handcuffed from making a change.

According to several sources, there is strong growing momentum that financial concerns the Reinsdorfs have about the 2020-21 NBA season will keep Boylen in his current seat, as well as most of the coaching staff.

Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf has earned a reputation for his frugality. However, the economic downturn surrounding the coronavirus pandemic has caused many teams to tighten their belts. The financial consequences will likely continue into next season.

But this puts Chicago at a disadvantage.

Boylen has looked like one of the NBA’s worst coaches. Though Bulls ownership is more optimistic than most on Boylen and he could exceed expectations, it’s telling that Chicago probably wouldn’t have kept him based on merit. This is about saving money and hoping for the best.

That’s obviously great news for Boylen. He has improved significantly since taking over last season. More time on the job could allow him to grow into it. That said, improving from a near-mutiny in his early days doesn’t exactly mean he’s in an acceptable place now. Boylen still has a long way to go, and it could be more difficult if players are tired of him.

Nets fined $25K for injury-reporting violation

Brooklyn Nets
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Earlier this season, Kyrie Irving missed several weeks with a shoulder injury. Throughout the absence, the Nets provided few details and no clear timeline. Eventually, a report said Irving could miss 2-3 additional weeks with bursitis. The Nets denied it. Later, Irving confirmed he had bursitis then returned nearly three weeks after the report.

Finally, Brooklyn caught the league’s ire.

NBA release:

The NBA today announced that the Brooklyn Nets have been fined $25,000 for failing to comply with league policies governing injury reporting.

It’s unclear what specifically caused this violation. Caris LeVert, Joe Harris, Jarrett Allen, Jamal Crawford and Rodions Kurucs have all appeared on the Nets’ injury report during the resumption. As 19-point underdog, Brooklyn pulled a historic upset of the Bucks. Remember, public injury disclosures are primarily about preserving gambling integrity.

For the NBA not to reveal even basic details while fining the Nets for their lack of transparency is ironic. It’s also ironic this fine comes amid a restart that featured the NBA being highly secretive about player heath.

The Clippers got fined $50,000 earlier this season for saying Kawhi Leonard was healthy. What did Brooklyn do that was less egregious but still worth of a fine?