Lakers Steve Blake said he did not support 50/50 deal

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Shannon Brown was one of the responsible ones. Not all of the 30 team representative to the NBA players union polled the players before voting on Monday to dissolve the union and take the battle to court. Brown, the Lakers rep, was one of the good ones.

The Lakers have union president Derek Fisher and also Steve Blake, a player who had been named as trying to rally players to accept the league’s 50/50 offer, or at least vote on it.

But Blake told ESPNLosAngeles.com that his position has been misrepresented.

“It has been my goal, throughout my career and even more so during the lockout to be a responsible and active member of our Players Association,” Blake wrote. “With that said, many of the reports published have been inaccurate. I have actively had conversations with my teammates, Player Representatives and the Executive Committee over the past weeks and months about the status of the negotiations and proposals. My stance is simply to make sure we weigh all proposals. I have not made a decision on whether or not a proposal was right to take, just simply encouraging all of our players and representatives to review everything carefully and then make the appropriate choices as a collective body.”

Well said. It may not be true, but well said. Why would I say it may not be fully truthful? Here is what Brown said of Blake in the same article.

“I spoke to (Blake) and he was one of the guys who wanted to take the deal,” Brown said in a phone interview with ESPNLosAngeles.com on Tuesday. “I respect his opinion. I didn’t try to sway it. I gave him the advantages and the disadvantages of taking the deal and not taking the deal. Going into the meeting, I understood that he was one of those people that were for taking the deal.

“I’m not going to say that everybody was for not taking the deal, but I can say it was a majority that was for (turning it down). I can say that much.”

You can make the argument that the players should have voted on David Stern and the owners latest offer. I would make the argument the smart move by the players would have been for player reps to modify Stern’s offer and send it back to him (if for no other reason that make him be the bad guy risking blowing up the season, not you). The players now are making the suggestion that they had no choice but to dissolve the union and take the issues to the court.

Whatever argument you take, know that not all the players are that informed on the issues.

(Shannon Brown) said he knew of player reps trying to reach out to their teammates only to find the phone number they were provided with had been changed or disconnected.

And whatever side you take, know that the union is not a unified front on this. There is a real diversity of opinion. There are a lot more Steve Blakes out there. Whatever his opinion is.

Report: CJ McCollum has been playing through fractured lower back

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CJ McCollum hit two critical free throws late Tuesday to put Portland up three late on Dallas and secure the win.

But he had a rough night overall, shooting 2-of-14 overall. His shooting numbers are down across the board through this restart, not terrible but down from the level the world has seen from one of the games most feared scorers.

Now we know why: A fractured lower back. Dwight Jaynes of NBC Sports Northwest broke the news.

Sources told NBC Sports Northwest prior to the game that McCollum has been playing with a L3 vertebral transverse process fracture (non-displaced) since last Thursday. In layman’s terms, he has a fracture in his lower back. He has played three games since the injury.

While this injury is not as bad as “a fractured back” sounds, it has slowed other players who had it, including Utah’s Mike Conley.

Portland has had success despite a slowed McCollum, in part because Gary Trent Jr. has stepped up and taken on a larger role on both ends of the court (including drawing a charge on Kristaps Porzingis that sealed the Blazers win over the Mavericks).

That win put Portland in as the eighth seed in the West, a spot they can hold with a win against Brooklyn on Thursday. That would put them in a play-in series — where if they won the reward would be LeBron James and the Lakers. To reach that point and threaten Los Angeles, Portland is going to need a lot out of McCollum. The question is how much does he have to give with this injury?

 

Giannis Antetokounmpo ejected after headbutting Moe Wagner

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The Milwaukee Bucks are lucky they have another seeding game remaining because there is a good chance Giannis Antetokounmpo gets suspended a game for this.

The reigning (and soon-to-be two time) MVP let Washington’s Moe Wagner get under his skin. After Wagner took a charge from Antetokounmpo the two had to be separated. They kept jawing, and when they came together again, Antetokounmpo headbutted Wagner.

Wagner may have sold that a little, but that is unquestionably a headbutt. Antetokounmpo deserved the Flagrant II and ejection that came with it.

The one-game suspension that is coming will not cost the Bucks anything, they have the No. 1 seed in the East locked up. However, that one game is aginst the Grizzlies and if Memphis wins it gets the nine seed in the West at worst (eighth of Portland were to lose Thursday).

Wagner has a gift for getting under an opponent’s skin. Antetokounmpo has to do better keeping his emotions in check, because come the playoffs they will get tested like never before.

 

Damian Lillard scores 61 points, win vaults Portland to eight seed

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The Portland Trail Blazers control their own postseason destiny — and they can thank Damian Lillard for that.

Lillard got all the respect he wanted when he tied his career-high of 61 points Tuesday, and the Portland Trail Blazers needed every one of them to beat the Dallas Mavericks 134-131.

Lillard was 9-of-17 from three, plus got to the line 18 times and hit every free throw.

Portland’s win combined with Memphis’ loss to Boston puts the Trail Blazers into the eighth seed in the West — win on Thursday against Brooklyn and Portland is the eighth seed. That is a massive advantage heading into the two-game play-in series, the eighth seed just needs to win one of those two games to advance to the playoffs (and a first-round date with LeBron James). The ninth-seeded team needs to sweep the two games to advance.

Memphis can maintain the nine seed with a win Thursday. Should the Grizzlies lose again (to the Bucks, who have nothing to play for) it opens the door for the Suns or the Spurs to get the nine seed. Or maybe higher.

Portland is not safe just because of the win Tuesday: If it loses to Brooklyn on Thursday and two of Memphis, Phoenix, and San Antonio win, the Trail Blazers will be watching the first round of the playoffs on television like the rest of us. The race in the West is that tight.

It’s hard to imagine Portland losing a critical game, however, with the way Lillard is playing. He said he wants some respect on his f ****** name – and he’s more than earned it.

Watch Devin Booker score 35, keep Phoenix perfect 7-0 and in play-in hunt

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) — Devin Booker scored 35 points and the Phoenix Suns protected their playoff hopes by beating the Philadelphia 76ers 130-117 on Tuesday to remain undefeated in the NBA restart.

Booker became the Suns’ career leader with his 91st 30-point game, breaking a tie with Walter Davis.

Mikal Bridges added 24 points and Ricky Rubio had 16 points with 10 assists for the Suns, who began the day only one game behind eighth-place Memphis in the Western Conference playoff race.

Phoenix is 7-0 as the only undefeated team in the restart and an unlikely factor in the tight race for a spot in this weekend’s play-in for the final playoff spot.

Phoenix pulled away late after leading only 105-102 following back-to-back baskets by Alec Burks, who led the 76ers with 23 points.

A dunk by Cameron Johnson capped a 10-3 run that stretched the lead to 115-105.

The Suns continued their high-scoring play in the bubble after averaging 120 points in the first six games.

Philadelphia, No. 6 in the East and already assured of a playoff spot, is attempting to prepare for the postseason after losing Ben Simmons to a knee injury.

Shake Milton was Philadelphia’s only healthy starter against the Suns. The 76ers also were without Joel Embiid (left ankle), Tobias Harris (sore right ankle) and Al Horford (sore left knee). Josh Richardson was rested.