Spurs sweep Jazz in Game 4: the Plague moves on as the youngsters have a lot to learn

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Thank God that’s over with. Spurs win 87-81.

The Spurs swept the Jazz Monday night in a contest where the Spurs controlled the entire game. The Jazz made a late run based mostly on the hustle of DeMarre Carroll, but it fell short went the Spurs picked off a pass and Manu Ginobili daggered the Jazz with a layup. It was the same stuff you’ve seen in the other three games. The Jazz missed a ton of looks at the rim, couldn’t hit from the perimeter, and got lost in the dizzying array of Spurs rotations. Oh, and Tony Parker sliced and diced the Jazz to pieces. The end.

Where Utah goes from here: How much better could the Jazz have been had they drafted anyone else in the first round? Kawhi Leonard would have given them a versatile wing to put on Manu Ginobili (and they wouldn’t have been facing him). Tristan Thompson would have given them more concerted effort and a bigger big with better hands. But most importantly, Brandon Knight would have given them a shooter point guard to pace Devin Harris with some legs. So Utah goes forward, trying to figure out where to go from here. Obviously Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap is a great combo, but the problem is, neither one is likely to get considerably better at their age. So do you stick with that combo or go elsewhere and try and upgrade? Do you trade in Millsap for a few upgrades at a few spots, knowing Gordon Hayward will improve?  Point guard is going to be another area they have to look at.

In other words, the Jazz have some work to do. But this year was a good year of progression for them. They gained some experience, and learned that they have a core to go forward with. Now it’s just a matter of being smart with how they construct from here.

Where San Antonio goes from here: Home, to rest. The semi-finals will feature back-to-backs, so getting this rest is crucial for San Antonio. They’ll face either the Clippers or Grizzlies who will be coming off a tough, physical series, even if the Clips close out Memphis in five. Getting healthy so they can dispatch their next opponent in due time is crucial for the. The Spurs can run, but they can also get banged up. They need to stay ahead of the schedule. This was step one, and it was crucial.

Beyond that, San Antonio proves that last year’s Memphis series was a fluke. They get the ghosts off their back and get back to dominating first-round opponents like they traditionally have done. The Spurs made a statement. They were not built for the regular season, they are deadly, and they are coming. The Plague is coming.

Anthony Davis will play in All-Star Game

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Everyone wants to read entirely too much into everything Anthony Davis has done and said this weekend, from saying Boston was “never not on my list” of destinations to a photo of him daping LeBron James (“They bumped fists, clearly he is going to be a Laker!”).

Among all the drama was “will he or won’t he play in the All-Star Game?” He was injured on the play before halftime of the final game before the break, left the arena to get an MRI (which found a shoulder bruise), and then up through Saturday said he “planned” to play but the call would be made game time.

He’s in.

Davis will come off the bench for Team LeBron. How many minutes he plays will be something to watch (under 10?), but he will be on the court.

Kevin Garnett didn’t like how Anthony Davis trade request was handled (VIDEO)

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Kevin Garnett was famously a franchise player for the Minnesota Timberwolves who requested a trade. He is perhaps one of just a handful of people on the planet uniquely positioned to understand exactly what Anthony Davis is going through with the New Orleans Pelicans.

Garnett has even spoken about Davis before, mentioning in December that Davis should request a trade from New Orleans.

Davis of course did that very thing, and word got out in January that Davis wanted out of Louisiana.

Despite all of this context, Garnett isn’t sold on the way things went down between Davis and the Pelicans. Speaking on TNT on Saturday night, Garnett said he wasn’t too hot how Davis’ agent, Rich Paul, handled things.

Via Twitter and NBC Sports Boston:

“It’s not my taking,” Garnett said. ” … I don’t like the way the process has come out.

“I don’t like the fact that the agents are dictating the whole move of this. Shout-out to Rich Paul, shout-out to Klutch and what they do, but this was a bit unprofessional, to be honest.”

“To call for a trade that you probably couldn’t get in the long run and probably know that it was a long shot to get done during a season like this? Not only cause hiccups in your own program, but think about the Lakers and the hiccups this caused over there.

“Those kids was playing totally different basketball than they were after the trade deadline. Y’all saw that. The energy was different.”

That’s and interesting turn of events in how Garnett said he approached Davis not so long ago. For reference, here’s what Garnett said he told Davis to his face back in December:

“I told Anthony Davis this to his face,” Garnett told USA TODAY Sports in a telephone conversation this week. ” ‘You are not playing against the guys you are squaring up against every night. You are playing against history, man.’

“Anthony Davis playing in New Orleans, I don’t want to say they are wasted days, but they are non-days. He needs to be somewhere where he can be with another guy and they can have a run at a championship. He has been in New Orleans long enough. It is time for a change now. This is it. No better time to do this.”

It’s interesting that Garnett though Davis should request a trade, but apparently not to a specific location. Then again, don’t think Davis’ trade request was very artfully handled. To Garnett’s credit, how Klutch went about things was pretty ham-fisted, and they seem to have overplayed their hand.

Short of things getting resolved between ownership of the two teams, it doesn’t appear that a Davis-to-the-Lakers trade is on the table. LA definitely seemed to annoy former GM Dell Demps, and even with Demps gone, that doesn’t change the fact that other teams will be able to offer a better package for Davis this summer, namely the Boston Celtics.

Who knows where Davis is going to end up? LA could still be on the table. At this juncture, they seem like they’re at the bottom of the list.

People are really reading too much into Kawhi Leonard’s comments about Toronto

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Kawhi Leonard might not stay with the Toronto Raptors past this season, and so fans are trying as hard as they can to ascertain which way the star is leaning on a daily basis. Leonard doesn’t say much to media, and has a propensity to project a rather flat demeanor.

All-Star Weekend is upon us, and Leonard has naturally been asked about how he feels about Toronto halfway through the season.

Leonard, a native Californian, told reporters this week that Canada has some good food and that it’s good to bring a jacket.

Via Twitter:

Not surprising was the context in which fans on Twitter read into Leonard’s comments. These, in my view, are rather innocuous things to say about Toronto. However, many felt that Leonard’s remark about how cold it is in Canada means he’s leaning toward leaving the Raptors come July.

I think it’s probably time to cool it on projections about what Leonard wants. He’s difficult to read, and after the saga with the San Antonio Spurs, seems a bit tempestuous. If the Raptors end up being a Finals team, it seems like Leonard might stay. Anything short of that, and Toronto is in for some real questions.

If it’s any consolation, at least Leonard thinks the Raptors have a shot at making the final series of the year.

LeBron James on Colin Kaepernick: ‘I stand with Kap. I kneel with Kap.’

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LeBron James is no stranger to standing up for social justice issues, and he’s a leader in American sports when it comes to his sphere of influence.

James and his teammates wore “I can’t breathe” shirts back in 2014 to raise awareness of the treatment of the death of Eric Garner at the hands of police. Before a game in 2012, LeBron and his Miami Heat teammates stood in a photo in hoodies, heads bowed, to raise awareness of the death of Trayvon Martin.

So it made sense that James had an opinion about Colin Kaepernick when The King was asked about the former NFL quarterback at All-Star Weekend.

Kaepernick and former San Francisco 49ers teammate Eric Reid recently reached a settlement with the NFL with regard to their collusion case. James said that he didn’t feel as though anyone was ever really trying to understand what Kaepernick was trying to call attention to — police brutality — by kneeling during the national anthem.

Via Twitter:

“I think it’s important to stick up for what you believe in, you what I’m saying?” James said. “I think with Kap, I stand with Kap, I kneel with Kap. I just feel what he was talking about no one wanted to listen to. Nobody ever really wanted to understand where he was actually coming from. I think that anybody that would sacrifice their livelihood for the betterment of all of us, I can respect that and he’s done that. I mean, you got a guy who basically lost his job because he wanted to stand for something that was more than just him.”

That’s a pretty resounding endorsement by James for Kaep.

I think some are disappointed that Kaepernick is likely bound by some kind of NDA as part of his settlement, but it seems likely that he’s going to use whatever cash the NFL paid him for good. Kaepernick has already made significant charitable donations, a list of which you can see here.

Nice to see LeBron being vocal about being on the right side of history yet again.