Thursday And-1 Links: DeSean Jackson trolls LeBron James… poorly

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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 more than Brazilians love soccer… okay, not that much….

• New Redskins receiver DeSean Jackson (who to me will always be a Long Beach Poly Jackrabbit, where I talked to him and saw him play) trolled LeBron James for some odd reason, and did it with a 2010 insult.

• The idea that Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan didn’t have talent around them when they won titles is just flat-out idiotic. Kobe needed Shaquille O’Neal to win his first, Pau Gasol and other veterans to win his second, and Phil Jackson to coach all those teams. Does that diminish what Kobe did? Not in the least. He helped take good rosters and made them great. Same with Jordan — the first year he left for baseball Scottie Pippin and the Bulls won 55 games and made the second round of the playoffs. They were not a bad team, Jordan elevated that team to legendary levels, he is arguably the greatest of all time, but nobody wins in the NBA alone. Nobody. That’s why this line of LeBron criticism is a waste. Also, why does it bother people so that LeBron and friends decided to take control of their own fates rather than work at the whim of billionaire owners? Is that how you run your life, never questioning your boss or looking for something better?

• DeMarcus Cousins wants to be part of Team USA this summer for the World Cup in Spain. It leads to an interesting question: How many true centers will Coach K bring? My guess is 1, we will play small a lot (Kevin Love at the five, small).

• This is very sad: The brother of former NBA player Dominic McGuire was shot and killed in his San Diego area apartment. While his child was asleep in the next room.

• More tragic news: The personal chef of the Heat’s Norris Cole was shot and killed at a Miami club.

Great bit of writing from Brian Windhorst at ESPN on how LeBron James turned to Jerry West and Isiah Thomas — two guys who knew Finals pain — to help him deal with and improve off the 2011 Finals loss to the Mavericks.

• Speaking of great writing, Tom Haberstroh on Chris Bosh is a must read. Bosh is one of the most interesting, complex people in the league, a guy who refuses to be put in the two-dimensional box fans often reserve for players.

• Danilo Gallinari update:

• Among the interesting tidbits in this Grantland story about Lance Stephenson: The Hawks tested the trade waters for Al Horford last deadline.

• Tony Snell has gotten rid of the braids.

• Back in 2001 comedian Martin Lawrence tried to help recruit Chris Webber to the Pistons. The effort failed, but the front office was so grateful that in 2004 they gave him a championship ring.

• LeBron James went to the movies. That’s news, I guess.

• Shane Larkin is spending the off-season working on his ability to drive the lane, draw a defense and create for others.

• A former advisor to the NBA players union just got 18 months in jail for fraud.

• Golden State center Festus Ezeli, who missed a chunk of the season following knee surgery, has gotten the okay from doctors to play in the Las Vegas Summer League.

• DeAndre Liggins is working out at the Brooklyn Nets’ facility trying to get on their team for the Orlando Summer League.

• Wizards prospect Tomas Satoransky is not playing for the team in the Las Vegas Summer League.

• Finally, Dikembe Mutombo’s appearance on Jimmy Kimmel was… very Dikembe.

Meyers Leonard delivers all-time out-of-nowhere playoff performance

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In 1967, Richie Guerin retired. The former Knicks star had been the St. Louis Hawks’ player-coach a few years, and he shifted fully into coaching. He even won Coach of the Year that season. As the Hawks moved to Atlanta the next year, he occasionally returned to the lineup, but played sparingly while focused on coaching. He played even less the following season, scoring just seven points in eight games.

But when the Hawks were facing injuries, inexperience and a 3-0 deficit to the Lakers 1970 Western Division finals, a 37-year-old Guerin stepped up on the court. He scored 31 points in Game 4, though Los Angeles completed the sweep.

Afterward, Hawks publicity director Tom McCollister called in the game’s stats to the league office:

”Guerin played 35 minutes,” reported McCollister, quietly, ”made 12 of 17 field goal attempts, 7 for 7 free throws, had 5 rebounds, 3 assists and 4 personal fouls. Thirty-one points.” Pause. ”They are burying him tomorrow morning at 10 o’clock.”

That was a rare time someone with a lower scoring average than Meyers Leonard scored 30 points in a playoff game.

Leonard – who averaged 5.9 points per game in the regular season – scored 30 points in the Trail Blazers’ Game 4 loss to the Warriors last night. He scored 25 in the first half!

This was the same Leonard who was in and out of the rotation all season, who had a DNP-CD in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals, who had a previous career high of 24 points. That came in 2015, preceding a much-maligned four-year, $41 million contract.

But when Portland needed a more-mobile defender at center, Leonard started. He played well in Game 3, scoring 16 points and dishing four assists. That wad already an unexpectedly good night for him.

Yet, Leonard upped the ante yesterday. For a while, he was going shot-for-shot with Stephen Curry. Though he couldn’t keep up with Curry (37 points), Leonard went 12-of-16, including 5-of-8 on 3-pointers.

Here are the players to score 30 points in a playoff game with the lowest regular-season scoring averages:

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The only other player besides Guerin to drop 30 in a playoff game after scoring so little in the regular season was Daniel Gibson. Boobie averaged 4.6 points per game his rookie year then scored 31 points on 5-of-5 3-point shooting in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Pistons, helping send the Cavs to their first NBA Finals.

“If I’m dreaming, please don’t wake me up,” Gibson said. “This was perfect, to win it for Cleveland.”

The most recent player to crack the leaderboard was CJ McCollum, who averaged 6.8 points per game in 2014-15 then scored 33 in a season-ending Game 5 loss to the Grizzlies in the first round. McCollum won Most Improved Player the next year and has remained a near-star ever since.

Could Leonard make a similar jump for the Trail Blazers? Don’t count on it. McCollum was in only his second season. Leonard, who just finished his seventh season, has been in the league even longer than McCollum now.

But appreciate Leonard’s scoring binge for what it was – one heck of an outlier.

Giannis Antetokounmpo pays for basketball court in fire-ravaged Greece

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ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greek NBA star Giannis Antetokounmpo has agreed to fund the construction of an indoor basketball court in a fire-ravaged area outside Athens where at least 100 people were killed last year.

The mayor of the Rafina area where the fire occurred last July said on Monday the local authority accepted the offer from the Milwaukee Bucks player to build the court at a new recycling park that is being planned. The mayor, Vangelis Bournous, gave no details of the construction cost but said the venue would ready at the end of this summer.

The blaze gutted the seaside resort of Mati, east of Athens, and other coastal areas, destroying more than a thousand homes.

Antetokounmpo’s Bucks are leading in the NBA Eastern Conference finals 2-1 over the Toronto Raptors.

Report: Dallas’ Dwight Powell to turn down $10.2 million player option

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Dwight Powell came to Dallas as a seeming throw-in with the Rajon Rondo trade back in 2014, but he evolved and grew into a solid rotation player for Rick Carlisle’s team. Last season he averaged more than 21 minutes a night off the bench, averaging an efficient 10.6 points and 5.3 rebounds a game.

Now he’s going to be a free agent, turning down the $10.2 million player option on the final year of his contract, reports Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.

Don’t expect him to leave Dallas, they want to keep him and now will have even more cap space to do so (Dallas already has enough cap space to re-sign Kristaps Porzingis and look for a max or near-max player to put next to KP and Luka Doncic). This is most likely a situation where Powell will make a little less than the $10.2 million he would have made next season but will get more money locked in over three or four years.

Dallas wants to keep him, not only is he a trusted part of their rotation but also he is very active in the Dallas community. He’s an excellent ambassador for the Mavericks.

That said, other teams likely will inquire about a solid rotational big man, Powell will have some options.

 

 

 

Warriors hit new heights with 5th straight conference title

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Presenting the Western Conference-championship trophy in 2015, former Warriors coach Al Attles worried about dropping it. He told Stephen Curry to pick it up directly, avoiding a potentially troublesome lift and handoff. Curry raised the trophy to a jubilant Oakland crowd.

Golden State hasn’t lost control of the trophy since.

The Warriors won their fifth straight conference title – the longest streak of all-time – with a 119-117 Game 4 win over the Trail Blazers in the Western Conference finals Monday. Only the Boston Celtics, who won 10 straight division titles 1957-1966 before the NBA adopted conferences in 1971, have gone to so many consecutive NBA Finals.

Here are the longest streaks of NBA Finals appearances:

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