Monday And-1 links: NBA media day edition

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Here is our regular look around the NBA — links to stories worth reading and notes to check out (stuff that did not get its own post here at PBT) — done in bullet point form. Because bloggers love bullet points. Today, we bring you a lot of news and notes out of the various media days across the nation.

• This is huge in the shoe industry — Dwyane Wade  is leaving Nike’s Jordan Brand for Chinese shoe manufacturer Li-Ning.

• The Knicks GM said that letting Jeremy Lin go was a financial decision. That certainly was a big part of it. But what else was he going to say?

• Did you know EA Sports cancelled “NBA Live 13” this year? Did you care might be the bigger question.

• Eddy Curry is in the Spurs training camp.

• Elton Brand is willing to be the enforcer for the Mavericks. Stop laughing Sixers fans, he means it.

• Chris Kaman has a sprained lower back and will be taking it slow in camp for Dallas. But at least Elton Brand has his back.

• While we’re talking Mavericks, forward Brandan Wright is day-to-day with a quad strain.

• Kyrie Irving says his hand is 100 percent, so you don’t need to keep asking.

• More Rajon Rondo love in Boston.

• Luc Richard Mbah a Moute is coming off patella tendon surgery and is now targeting a November return.

• Kings swingman John Salmons says he is still dealing with the hip injury that slowed him last season. Not good.

• Carlos Delfino’s arrival at Rockets training camp has been delayed by visa issues.

• Here are some fun, off-the-wall news and notes from Lakers media day, not involving the big stars.

• Ike Diogu played well for Nigeria at the Olympics, and that helped earn him an invite to Suns training camp. He is not expected to make the roster, however.

• A list of the NBA’s best players when they get the ball at the pinch post. Interesting read.

• The Raptors have spoken to DeMar DeRozan’s agent about a contract extension. That is very different than it actually happening, but they talked.

• Along those same lines, Ty Lawson’s agent has had conversations with the Nuggets about an extension.

• Hedo Turkoglu said at media day he hopes to retire with the Magic. You can bet they hope to have him traded by the deadline.

• Jameer Nelson talks about life after Dwight Howard in Orlando.

• Interesting note in this Mark Cuban interview — he says if someone bought a team and wanted to move it to Seattle, he wouldn’t expect to see any opposition.

• Philadelphia signed Xavier Silas to a non-guaranteed camp contract. That’s a good thing, Silas was the guy who suffered a major fall at the Orlando Summer League and needed multiple sinus surgeries.

Rapper ‘lil B said he was getting a camp invite from the Warriors.

GQ compiled a list of the worst decisions in sports. I’m sorry, I know some New Yorkers loved Jeremy Lin, but there is no way the Knicks letting him go should make this list.

• Jazz big man Enes Kanter, using twitter to get dinner dates. And a massage. But he’s flexible on hair color.

• For the record, Scottie Pippen is not broke. However he is not going to get richer suing all the outlets that reported he was, as a judge threw out that case.

• Countering earlier reports (including here at PBT), the Kings are saying their key sponsors and advertisers are sticking with them.

• Amare Stoudemire and John McCain, hanging out. Well, they ran into each other, anyway.

• Former NBA player and Kings head coach Reggie Theus is going to coach the D-Fenders, the Lakers affiliate in the D-League.

Toughest player to defend in NBA? Jonathan Isaac votes for James Harden

Associated Press
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Orlando’s Jonathan Isaac is turning heads this season. He has turned into the defensive backbone of the Magic, a long, switchable player who can protect the rim and make plays out on the perimeter.

In the past week, coach Steve Clifford asked Isaac to match up with Giannis Antetokounmpo, James Harden, and LeBron James. So who was the toughest to guard? (Via Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle.)

Harden dropped 54 on Orlando to lead Houston to the win. It was his second game in a row with 50+ points and hitting 10 threes.

Nobody should be arguing with Isaac here. For one thing, he’s the guy who had to guard them all this week, his opinion is informed. Harden has six points while Isaac was matched up on him Friday night, but the Rockets scored 14 others. Harden did most of his damage when Evan Fournierwas on him, scoring 18. (Via NBA.com matchup data.)

One could make the case that Antetokounmpo and LeBron contribute more on the defensive end and that makes them more valuable (a debate that will come up again at end-of-season awards time), but as a pure scorer there is nobody like Harden. Ever. He has ridiculous shooting range and the best stepback in the league, he’s physically strong and finishes through contact on drives, and he has turned drawing fouls into an art form. Defending James Harden is next to impossible (and incredibly frustrating for those tasked with it).

Houston has built its entire offense around Harden, and they are contenders because of it.

 

Kevin Knox with an high-flying putback dunk… into his own basket (VIDEO)

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Give the Knicks credit, they have won two games in a row for the first time this season after knocking off the Kings. The return of Elfrid Payton at point guard — meaning they don’t have to play rookie R.J. Barrett out of position in that role — has given New York some floor balance and they look much better.

But there are still moments.

Such as this one from Kevin Knox, with the putback dunk — into his own net.

Mike Breen wanted to credit Buddy Hield there, and to be fair, Hield did come flying in and force the action. But that was Knox. (Hield got the bucket in the official scorebook).

Well, at least Knox is contributing something here.

Watch James Harden drop 54 to lead Houston past Orlando

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ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — James Harden found his 3-point shooting touch — again.

Harden scored 54 points, matching the team record of 10 3-pointers he set in Houston’s last game in the Rockets’ 130-107 victory over the Orlando Magic on Friday night.

“I just want to win,” Harden said simply. “Whatever it takes.”

Harden scored 50 or more for the fifth time this season and the fourth time in his last seven games. The rest of the NBA has combined for only five such games this season.

Harden was 10 of 15 from long range and 19 of 31 overall from the field. He also had a seven assists, five rebounds and two steals in 36 minutes, receiving a loud ovation from the Orlando crowd when he headed to the bench in the final minutes.

“I feel like we lost against just him tonight,” Magic guard Evan Fournier said. “He’s the MVP for a reason. We talked about in pregame that he’ll take shots, and we’ll just live with the results. He did not miss tonight, period.”

Harden set the Houston record for 3-pointers with 10 in 18 attempts Wednesday night in a 55-point game in a victory at Cleveland.

“When he’s shooting over the top like that, I don’t know what you can do,” Orlando coach Steve Clifford said.

Russell Westbrook added 23 points for Houston. The Rockets were 22 of 39 from 3-point range, setting a record for the most 3-pointers by any Magic opponent in franchise history.

“We just shot the ball extremely well,” Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said. “When James is like that, it’s hard for anybody to really beat us … no matter what kind of defense you’re going to throw, we’ve got guys.”

The Rockets pulled away in the second quarter, with Harden scoring 18 points, including Houston’s last 11 for a 59-49 lead.

Fournier led Orlando with 27 points. Aaron Gordon added 21. The Magic have lost three straight after winning four in a row.

Paul George, Kawhi Leonard combine for 88 points in Clippers win

David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images
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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — It’s hard to stop Paul George. It’s hard to stop Kawhi Leonard. It’s really hard to stop both at the same time.

George and Leonard showed what the Los Angeles Clippers had in mind when they teamed up the superstar duo Friday night. George scored 46 points, Kawhi Leonard had 42 and the Clippers held on to beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 124-117 for their fourth consecutive victory.

“It’s special, two guys offensively,” George said. “The thing about it is, we’re dishing, finding each other, feeding each other. And then when we have moments to be aggressive, we’re looking to get aggressive, attack, look for our shots. It’s great when both guys can get it going”

Leonard and George became the first set of teammates in Clippers’ history to each score 40 points. It was the 21st time in NBA history it has happened. The last time it was done, it also involved George. He and Russell Westbrook did it for Oklahoma City last season.

Leonard and George’s previous high this season came Dec. 1, when they combined for 65 points against Washington.

“It’s great that we can have somebody else out there to help scoring the ball, making the game easier for myself,” Leonard said. “We’re still trying to build our chemistry out there.”

Karl-Anthony Towns had 39 points and 12 rebounds for Minnesota, which lost its seventh in a row. Towns had 14 points, including a 4-point play, in a 22-6 fourth-quarter run that trimmed a 21-point Los Angeles lead to five.

Andrew Wiggins added 34 points for the Timberwolves. His basket with 1:04 left cut the Clippers’ lead to 119-115. Minnesota didn’t get closer than four the rest of the way.

“Disappointed from the loss, but we fought back,” Wiggins said. “We were down big. Dug ourselves a hole. We fought back though. We went out swinging.”

Leonard and George set the tone early, combining to score the first 23 points for a Clippers team playing without Lou Williams, who sat out with a calf injury. In his absence, George and Leonard accounted for 54 of Los Angeles’ 65 first-half points. They became the first duo to each score 35 or more points through the first three quarters of a game in the past 20 seasons, according to ESPN Stats and Info.

Leonard made a career-high 19 free throws. He was 19 for 19 from the line.

“That was great,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “We knew without Lou tonight, every play was basically for those two guys. And they came up big.”

The Timberwolves took a 51-50 lead in the second quarter with a 15-2 run, capped by a Towns 3-pointer. Leonard responded with seven consecutive points to give the Clippers the lead for good.

George started the third quarter with a 7-0 run of his own. He scored 16 in the third, when Los Angeles took control by outscoring Minnesota 37-23.

“Forty-six and forty-two, they make it very tough on you,” Minnesota coach Ryan Saunders said.

Leonard’s 31 first-half points set a career high for points in a half. He tied a career high for points in a first quarter with 16.

“We got into our spots early, made shots,” Leonard said. “Paul carried us in that second half.”

Montrezl Harrell scored 18 points for the Clippers. Jeff Teague scored 22 for the Timberwolves.