You asked questions on twitter, time to answer them

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Welcome to the latest installment of our twitter mailbag, where we answer your questions. Any questions.

You have to date a girl that looks exactly like Joakim Noah or Tyronn Lue. Who do you date, and why? (@adonismuir)

I spent an inordinate amount of time thinking about this. A disturbing amount. Obviously, if faced with this choice, the correct answer is “I’ll become a priest.” Beyond that, if you look at pictures of Noah and Lue, Noah has the potential to be a prettier woman, but he has that little mustache and beard that throw the whole thing off. As for Lue… didn’t work for me on the court, doesn’t work for me as a date.

I needed a woman’s opinion. Not my wife, because explaining this then trying to sleep in the same bed with her was not going to go well. So I turned to Holly McKenzie of The Basketball Jones and other places (you have to follow @stackmack on twitter). Her first answer was it has to be Noah because of the hair. Then she made the best point — have you seen Noah’s sister? The model? Basically, Noah has the genes of a beautiful woman in him.

So Noah. That or the priesthood.

• Which team will be hurt most by the NBA lockout and which team benefits the most from the lockout? (@marvin_is_joe)
• Does a shortened #NBA season help or hurt older teams like my #Celtics? Fewer games, but played more often in a shorter time (@PowerForward44)

I’m combining these questions into one because, well, it’s my column and I can do anything I want. I have the power.

The answer to this question depends on how long the lockout lasts. If training camps are shortened (almost a given) and there are between 60-70 games on a pretty normal schedule, then veteran teams benefit. For the Celtics, Spurs and Mavericks it means less wear and tear on older bodies before the playoffs and they should do well in the regular season because they come in knowing who they are and what they want to do. (The Lakers lose that benefit with the coaching and system change.)

But if the lockout drags on and this is 1999 redux — 50 games crammed into a short schedule with some back-to-back-to-back games scheduled — then those veteran teams suffer from the wear and tear. They don’t have the fresh legs come the playoffs. That benefits good but younger teams — the Thunder, Bulls and Heat come to mind. They have legs that will bounce back from the condensed schedule faster.

How long before JR Swish commits a felony in China and ends up in secret Chinese prison? (@djbrnz)

Not going to happen — he’s going to be so sick from trying to eat what passes for food in China he’s not going to have time to get in trouble. He’s going to be lying in bed with a bucket beside him Googling McDonald’s locations.

By the way, if one guy will get an “under the table” deal to be cut from a Chinese team when the lockout ends, it’s Smith.

are the sixers an Iguodala trade away from being contenders in the East? (@jutmcquaid)

Why all the Iggy hate in Philly, people? It’s not like he’s Santa Claus. If you trade him you lose a quality perimeter scorer and more importantly your best perimeter defender by a mile. Yes, he is overpaid for what he delivers, but he does deliver something and if you trade him you create a new hole to fill. I think you live with him. The Sixers need a true superstar to take the next step forward, but that guy should be paired with Iggy. If the Sixers can run more and get Iguodala more transition opportunities, it will be best for everyone.

Why can’t Sam Presti properly evaluate college big men? #bjmullensproblem (@nick_van_hexel)

I would like to introduce you to the fans of 29 other teams, who would love to trade you Sam Presti’s list of draft picks in the last five years for their team’s. Sure, B.J. Mullens has not worked out (the next two guys picked after Mullens were Rodrigue Beaubois and Taj Gibson) but Presti has built a winner and he made a good trade for Kendrick Perkins (which just was a bad matchup with Dallas). Nobody hits all their picks. Nobody. Cut the guy some slack, would ya.

Who do you believe is the best basketball player in the world? As of right now. (@kaycgee)

I don’t see how you can argue anyone other than Brian Cardinal. It’s not even close.

(Okay, it’s LeBron James. And frankly that’s not up for debate.)

Will Norris Cole be the point guard the Heat need in order to focus on finding a true center? (@GeeYo)

When did finding a center and finding a good point guard become mutually exclusive? I’m confident Pat Riley has the skills to do both at the same time.

The real question is, when was the last time a rookie point guard played a key role on a title team? Magic Johnson? So sure, count on Cole to solve your problems. Point guard is an issue for the Heat but not the biggest one. The Heat need a real center far more than they need another good perimeter player. Miami needs its own Tyson Chandler to dominate the paint on defense and grab rebounds. That is their key to a title.

Shouldn’t Allen Iverson be picked up by the Lakers? (@The_Hawk_13)

So you think the Lakers need to get an old point guard who can’t defend and would take shots away from Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol? The only way the Lakers want Iverson is if the deal includes a DeLorean with a flux capacitor in the back so they can go grab the 2001 Iverson.

The Lakers need a starting PG, Iverson is a backup right now. At best.

How long before the Grizzlies move to Seattle? (@jbunkis)

Right about when Kurt Cobain buys the team. About the same odds.

Kevin Durant helps lead Warriors past Pacers after death of Cliff Dixon

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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) Kevin Durant established Golden State’s defensive energy by swatting away shots early. Eventually, the Warriors got going on the other end as they almost always do.

Durant had 15 points, six assists and three blocks after losing a close friend earlier in the day, and the Warriors ran away from the Indiana Pacers 112-89 on Thursday night.

Durant led a balanced Warriors attack, playing the same day childhood friend Cliff Dixon was shot to death in Atlanta. Warriors guard Quinn Cook also was close with Dixon as they’re all from the Washington D.C./Maryland area.

Stephen Curry scored 12 of his 15 points with four 3-pointers during the Warriors’ 35-point third quarter in which they limited Indiana to 19.

“Tonight I thought our spirit and our energy were fantastic,” coach Steve Kerr said, crediting his group for being “engaged.”

Tyreke Evans scored 20 points off the bench and Thaddeus Young added 18 for the Pacers, who were without coach Nate McMillan for family reasons.

Indiana ended its four-game swing out West by losing an eighth straight road game and missing another chance to clinch a playoff berth following a 115-109 defeat at the Clippers on Tuesday night.

The Warriors, whose defense has become a greater focus with the playoffs approaching, have allowed their fewest points in two of the past four games. Oklahoma City scored 88 points Saturday before the two-time defending champions held down Indiana.

Klay Thompson began 0 for 7, missing his first five 3-pointers, and wound up with 18 points on 7-for-18 shooting. He scored his first field goal of the night, which he followed with another basket the next possession, at the 7:46 mark of the second quarter and his first 3 came in the final minute of the first half as Golden State built a 53-43 lead at the break.

“Well I finally decided to make a shot, so that felt good,” Thompson cracked.

Golden State returned from an impressive 3-1 road trip – with wins at Houston, Oklahoma City and Minnesota and a loss at San Antonio – to play its first game at Oracle Arena since a 115-111 flop against lowly Phoenix on March 10.

DeMarcus Cousins returned after missing two games with a sore right ankle and had 19 points and 11 rebounds, while Andrew Bogut received a warm welcome for his home debut after re-joining the Warriors on the road. The 7-foot big man played on Golden State’s 2015 championship team and the 73-win team the following season that lost in Game 7 of the NBA Finals to LeBron James and the Cavaliers, and he got hurt in Game 5 of the finals and missed the rest of the series.

“In my old age you get a bit sentimental,” Bogut said. “It’s funny how life works, right?”

Both teams had slow starts: The game was tied at 19 after the first quarter, when the Warriors were 1 of 10 on 3s.

“I thought our defensive intensity was good in the first half, and what happens in this league is when you’re not scoring points the flood gates can open,” Pacers assistant Dan Burke said.

BOGUT’S RETURN

Kerr still expects Bogut to make an impact even with Cousins healthy again and despite “an insurance-policy role.”

Bogut had seven rebounds and four points – shooting 1 for 8 – in nine minutes.

And Bogut was greeted exactly how Kerr figured – with “a raucous reception.”

The big man waved and smiled as fans cheered when video highlights were shown on the big screen with “Welcome back Andrew Bogut.”

“I think our fans recognize that, in many ways, Andrew represented the shift in the Warriors organization and its emphasis on defense,” Kerr said. “I think that trade was really kind of the first domino to fall in terms of – well Steph’s drafting was the first one, let’s not forget that one – but shortly thereafter Andrew came over in the trade and there was an organizational shift toward a defensive mindset which I think Mark Jackson implemented and the players started to reflect that philosophy.”

TIP-INS

Pacers: G Darren Collison sat out a second straight game with a bruised right quadriceps muscle. When he missed Tuesday it snapped his streak of 71 straight starts this season. … Indiana is 4-9 on the road vs. the Western Conference, having lost the last five.

Warriors: All five Warriors starters scored in double figures for the fourth time, with Golden State winning each of those. … The Warriors won 132-100 at Indiana on Jan. 28, getting 39 assists and shooting 54.1 percent and going 13 of 31 on 3s. … Golden State is 27-4 when notching 30 or more assists (32 on Thursday). … Bogut is three regular-season games shy of 700 in 14 seasons.

UP NEXT

Pacers: Host Nuggets on Sunday.

Warriors: Host Mavericks on Saturday night having won 12 straight at home in the series.

More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Hawks stop Jazz win streak at five thanks to Trae Young

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ATLANTA (AP) Trae Young scored 23 points, including a go-ahead three-point play, and the Hawks beat Utah 117-114 on Thursday night to end the Jazz’s five-game winning streak.

Donovan Mitchell led the Jazz with 34 points.

It was a costly loss. The Jazz entered the game fifth in the Western Conference but only a half-game ahead of a pack of three teams tied for sixth.

Utah led 110-109 before Young’s basket and free throw with 1:47 gave the Hawks the lead.

The Hawks stretched the lead to four points when an officials’ review confirmed a goaltending call against Rudy Gobert on Dewayne Dedmon‘s shot.

A slam by Gobert, who had 12 points and 11 rebounds, cut Atlanta’s lead to 114-112. Dedmon made two free throws. Following a layup by Mitchell, Dedmon made only one of two free throws with 6.2 seconds remaining to give Utah, trailing 117-114, a chance.

Vince Carter fouled Kyle Korver on what was initially ruled a three-shot foul. A review determined Korver would only shoot two free throws. Korver missed both free throws, the second one intentionally, and Mitchell missed a last-second 3-pointer from the corner.

Hawks rookie Kevin Huerter, who had 14 points, sank a 3-pointer to cut Utah’s lead to 99-98 midway through the final period. Ricky Rubio answered with two straight jumpers, including a 3-pointer, and set up a layup by Derrick Favors that pushed the lead to 106-98.

After going 12 of 21 on 3-pointers, Atlanta led 65-54 at halftime.

Mitchell opened the second half with a steal and jam to start a 9-0 run. Gobert had a tip-in and made a free throw in the run. A three-point play by Rubio tied the game at 71-all. Utah took the lead on Royce O'Neale‘s 3-pointer and stretched the lead to 82-73 – capping a 28-8 run to open the half.

TIP-INS

Jazz: Derrick Favors had 15 points and 15 rebounds. Rubio had 17 points and seven assists. … Each of Utah’s five straight wins had been by margins of at least 15 points. … Korver, who played for Atlanta from 2012-17, was honored with a video tribute and received an ovation during a first-period timeout.

Hawks: Kent Bazemore sank three 3-pointers in the final four minutes of the third period to cut Utah’s lead to 91-86 entering the fourth. … Dedmon had 18 points. … Huerter has been overshadowed by fellow rookie Young but also has become a starter with a role in the team’s long-term future. “I think the beauty is he’s a modern day perimeter player,” coach Lloyd Pierce said. Huerter has five games with at least five 3s. Only Young, with six such games, has more among the league’s rookies this season.

UP NEXT

Jazz: Visit Chicago on Saturday night.

Hawks: Host Philadelphia on Saturday night.

More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Chris Paul seriously made this Rockets fan’s day (VIDEO)

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We all remember what it was like to be a young NBA fan. Hell, the 20-year anniversary of my first NBA game was literally today and I wrote an entire piece about it. The impact of seeing and meeting players in person has on kids cannot be understated.

That’s why it was so heartening to see one young Houston Rockets fan meet Chris Paul and get some serious swag signed by the future Hall of Famer.

A lot of these videos are great, but see if you can tell why this one is so good to watch.

Via Twitter:

I really liked this video because the kid goes from not being able to control his emotions, and crying, to smiling for the camera in a span of about six seconds.

Between Paul making this kid’s day and Kevin Durant delivering pizzas to hotel rooms, I’d say NBA players are doing pretty good with the proletariat these days.

Watch Kevin Durant deliver pizza to two young fans at hotel (VIDEO)

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Kevin Durant has seemed like an enigma much of his career, and as time has gone on during his tenure with the Golden State Warriors, He’s perhaps seen as a bit too sensitive and unable to manage his public perception of his identity.

That’s why it was cool to see Durant do something a bit more laid back. You know, like deliver some pizzas to some kids at their hotel.

In a video posted to Twitter this week, Durant surprise two young kids by delivering pizza to their hotel room.

Via Twitter:

How these kids weren’t losing their minds is beyond me. If an NBA player came and delivered pizza to me when I was their age, I might be too excited to even eat.

Maybe it was because they’re Timberwolves fans? Hard to say.