Sunday NBA grades: Jarrett Jack strikes blow to Knicks playoff hopes

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Our quick look around the NBA, or what you missed while eating a $250 hamburger

source:  Jarrett Jack, Cleveland Cavaliers. Earlier on Sunday the Atlanta Hawks had lost and so the Knicks had real motivation at the Garden vs. the Cavaliers — win and NY is just two games back of the last playoff spot in the East. And the Knicks were off to a 17 point lead in the second quarter. Then in then second half Jarrett Jack happened — he had 23 of his 31 points in the second half to spark a Cavaliers comeback (he also had 10 assists). That comeback was aided by the Knicks deciding to take poor shots, but Jack took advantage — he crossed guys up, drained long twos, hit floaters in the lane and got to the basket. He also hit the dagger with 24.7 left — a fade away jumper that was a bad shot most nights but fell because he was just hitting everything.

source:  DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento Kings. Yes, it still counts if it was against the Bucks. Milwaukee simply had no answer for Cousins on Sunday night — Cousins had 32 points (14-of-19 shooting), 12 rebounds and 4 assists. He was a beast. It should be noted that Isaiah Thomas had 30 points on 13 shots and Rudy Gay had 24 points on 16 shots, the Kings key three showed up big. Still, we’ll give Cousins the big shoutout because when he plays like this you realize just what a big star he could become.

source:  Joe Johnson, Brooklyn Nets. Joe Johnson is clutch, he is the guy Brooklyn should get the ball late in close games. If you needed a reminder of that he provided against the Mavericks on Sunday night — he had 10 of his team-high 22 points on the night either at the end of the fourth quarter or overtime. When the Nets needed a bucket to get the game to overtime, they gave the rock to Johnson and cleared out.

source:  Kyle Lowry, Toronto Raptors. Early in the fourth quarter the Hawks had a 14 point lead over the Raptors and seemed in control, then everything shifted — Toronto won the fourth quarter 36-15 in large part thanks to Lowry who had 13 points on 5-of-5 shooting in the quarter. Lowry finished the game with 25 points. DeMar DeRozan added 10 points and the Hawks helped the Raptors out shooting 6-of-22 in the fourth. Still, Lowry was a beast and the symbol of all the Raptors did right in this one.

One last look back: Best dunks of All-Star Weekend (VIDEO)

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Defense? That’s one thing that rarely makes an appearance All-Star weekend.

Combine that with the game’s best athletes and what you get are three days of insane dunks.

The NBA put this together, the best dunks of All-Star weekend in Charlotte. Enjoy.

Wizards’ Bradley Beal: ‘Recruiting process is really going alright…I’m trying’

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LeBron James went out of his way to say he was not recruiting guys on his free-agent heavy All-Star Team.

Bradley Beal had no such hesitation, he tried to recruit guys, as he told Chase Huges of NBC Sports Washington.

“The recruiting process is really going alright. It’s going alright. I’m trying,” Beal said. “This is new for me. I’m definitely getting some ears and seeing what guys are looking for.”

Beal was too smart to name names — that would have brought a fine from the league — but he said some guys asked if he was happy where he was, while other guys he talked to about the possibilities in Washington.

The problem is while the Wizards will have some cap space after trading Otto Porter and Markieff Morris (and assuming they don’t pick up the option on Jabari Parker) but they will be nowhere near the max cap space needed to land the elite free agents at the All-Star Game (Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, etc.). Even the second-tier All-Star free agents such as Khris Middleton will get max offers. Same with players who just missed the game, such as Tobias Harris.

If the Wizards renounce free agents they can get to $9 million in cap space, stretch and waive Ian Mahinmi and they can get to $18 million. That’s the top end. Meaning the Wizards will have room to make moves for good rotation players, but with John Wall‘s supermax extension kicking in at $38 million next season flexibility is limited. Genuine upgrades will be hard to come by.

Predicting what Washington GM Ernie Grunfeld will do next summer is a fool’s errand, but Beal is doing his part to try and bring more talent into Washington.

Kevin Garnett says 2000 Olympic team had $1 million bounty to dunk on Yao Ming

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Team USA earned a Gold Medal in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, led by Vince Carter, Kevin Garnett, and Alonzo Mourning. Lithuania made the Americans work that year, losing by just nine in pool play then by two points in the semi-finals.

That’s not what anyone remembers from those Olympics, they remember Vince Carter doing this to 7-footer Fredric Weiss of France.

Recently Garnett sat down with Dwyane Wade for an interview (which airs on NBA TV today) and he told a fantastic story about that dunk. (Hat tip to Yahoo Sports)

Everything just paused. First of all, people didn’t know, we had a bounty out on Yao Ming. The whole USA team had a bet. We had a million dollar bet on who was going to be the first person to dunk on Yao Ming. None of us did. We all tried to dunk on Yao, but he would block it or we would miss. So, the first thing I thought of when I saw Vince dunk over Frederic was oh s***, you won the million dollars. But then I realized it obviously wasn’t Yao. I pushed Vince, and if you look at the clip, he almost punches me in the face by accident. But my first thought was, oh s***, you won, you got the million.

KG has the best stories.

MSG denies rumor James Dolan looking to sell Knicks

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Rumors that James Dolan is considering selling the Knicks — which elicits a “Hallelujah” chorus from Knicks fans — have been cropping up for a couple of years now. There were rumors he wanted to spin off the Knicks and Rangers into their own company to be sold. That’s just one, there are others — he confirmed he got a feeler $5 billion, but never a firm offer, for the Knicks — and each time he has shot them down.

This is no different.

On his latest Podcast, the Ringer’s Bill Simmons said he had heard that Dolan wanted to focus more on concerts/in-game experiences in Madison Square Garden and that the Knicks were “available.”

The Madison Square Garden Company released this statement (hat tip New York Daily News).

“The story is 100% false. There has been nothing. No discussions. No plans to have discussions – nothing.”

That’s pretty unequivocal.

While Dolan may entertain the idea on some level of selling the Knicks, until he takes concrete steps to do so — not rumors, but actual, documented moves — I’m not buying it. He’s sitting on a gold mine that keeps going up in value, despite how he manages it, so why sell now? Knicks fans that buy this rumor will likely end up like Charlie Brown trying to kick the football.