LeBron on not winning Defensive Player of the Year: ‘It sucks.’

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LeBron James finished second in the Defensive Player of the Year balloting this season, losing out to Memphis Grizzlies big man Marc Gasol.

Jams finished second in the voting with 12 less first place votes than Gasol, and ahead of the Thunder’s Serge Ibaka.

Gasol was a fine choice, considering he was the anchor to a Grizzlies defense that finished second in the league in points allowed per 100 possessions. Miami finished seventh in the league in the same category, and lineup data showed that Memphis was much weaker defensively as a team when Gasol was on the bench.

James is as competitive as they come, so maybe the fact that he took a less diplomatic route when speaking about the award was something we should have seen coming.

From Ethan J. Skolnick of The Palm Beach Post:

“It sucks,” James said. “It sucks. It sucks.”

James was asked if his candidacy for other awards — notably the MVP — hurt his chances.

“I don’t know,” James said. “It definitely sucks, though. Finishing second? Who wants to finish second?”

Was this his best defensive season?

“Probably,” James said. “I mean, I guard everybody on the floor. I don’t know if there’s one player in NBA history who’s guarded one through five (positions). It’s over with now, but that’s cool.”

James has a point, as the effort he puts in on a nightly basis can often go unnoticed when he’s handling the bulk of his team’s scoring and dominating in so many other areas.

While Gasol’s defensive prowess is largely built around rotational play and rim protection that enhances the team defensive effort, James is known as more of an on-ball defender, and this award typically recognizes big men as opposed to wing or perimeter players.

James is going to win his fourth career MVP this season, so it’s not exactly as if he won’t be recognized for his stellar season. And besides, he seems to have a sense of humor about the whole thing — the part about “finishing second” was likely a playful shot at Kevin Durant, and the quotes that were attributed to him in a recent Sports Illustrated piece.

Final minute of Celtics-Wizards featured five-possession, 10-point, no-stoppage stretch (video)

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Crunch time of a close NBA game is awesome.

It’s exponentially better when nobody calls timeout.

The Celtics and Wizards finished with a flourish tonight, Boston coming out ahead in a frenetic final minute. The last minute included two Kyrie Irving 3-pointers (one tightly contested, one extremely deep) and a sharp drive by John Wall (who had just returned to the game from an injury).

After a flow-killing foul in the final few seconds, the Celtics won, 130-25.

More games should be like this.

Jeremy Lamb hits game-winner despite Bismack Biyombo, others Hornets prematurely running on court to celebrate

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The Hornets sure were excited for Jeremy Lamb‘s game-winner against the Pistons tonight.

Too excited.

After Lamb hit a jumper to put Charlotte up two with 0.3 seconds left, several Hornets ran onto the court. Bismack Biyombo was nearly at halfcourt as Detroit tried to inbound! He was so far onto the court, I’m not even sure officials noticed him when dinging Malik Monk – closer to the bench –for the violation.

Ashley Holder:

The Pistons made a technical free throw to cut their deficit to one, but they still had to inbound from under their own basket. Their desperation pass was intercepted, and Charlotte held on for a 108-107 win.

Several Hornets were certainly relieved.

Crazily enough, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen this.

Suns’ T.J. Warren fined $15k for inappropriate language toward official following ejection (video)

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Everyone on the Suns seems frustrated.

In Phoenix’s loss to the Clippers on Monday, T.J. Warren got ejected. And his outburst will cost him extra.

NBA release:

Phoenix Suns forward T.J. Warren has been fined $15,000 for directing inappropriate language toward a game official following his ejection, it was announced today by Kiki VanDeWeghe, Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations.

This wasn’t a lengthy exchange. Warren didn’t linger on the court complaining. He must have said something extremely harsh to warrant two technical fouls and a fine that quickly.

(Despite confusion, the foul preceding the ejection was called on Deandre Ayton, not Warren.)

Pacers star Victor Oladipo returns from 11-game absence

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When the Pacers ruled Victor Oladipo out indefinitely a couple weeks ago, it seemed gloomy.

But Indiana weathered the storm, going 7-4 without its best player.

Now, Oladipo is back. He started against the Bucks tonight.

I still think the Raptors, Celtics, 76ers and Bucks will comprise the Eastern Conference’s top tier by the end of the season. But the Pacers (17-10, fourth in East) have a chance to crash the party. They acquitted themselves well without Oladipo, and it should get only easier with their offensive focal point/top perimeter defender.