Five Things We Learned in NBA Wednesday: Kevin Love seems to be fitting in just fine suddenly

4 Comments

If you watch closely every night in the NBA you can learn a little something. We know you are busy and can’t keep up with every game, so we’re here to help with those lessons from another night in the Association. Here’s what you missed while getting Waffle House food delivered to your door

1) Kevin Love looks like he fits just fine; Cleveland routs another team from the West. Tell me again how Kevin Love isn’t going to fit in with the Cavaliers. He fit like a perfect puzzle piece on Wednesday night — 22 points on 10-of-13 shooting, plus grabbing 10 rebounds. Oh, and he did a quality job defensively on Marc Gasol, which was key to Cleveland picking up maybe their most impressive win of the season, easily handling the Memphis Grizzlies 111-89. You don’t want to read too much into one regular season game, but the Cavaliers looked like contenders and Love looked like a guy finding his spots in the offense. Love’s versatility was on full display as he scored inside, hit threes from the left side of the court and caused trouble wherever he was on the court.

2) George Hill hits game winner against questionable Wizards defense. Indiana was down 10 points midway through the fourth quarter against the Wizards and came back to force overtime. In OT, the Pacers had the ball and the chance to win, they isolated George Hill and…

Wow, that was easy. Too easy. Remember the Warriors Mo Speights said they knew the Wizards would quit if they got punched in the mouth, this seems video evidence of that. It was a complete breakdown defensively — after the game coach Randy Whittman said the Wizards were supposed to trap the ball right when Hill first caught it. They didn’t. Nene got burned off that pseudo pick. But Whittman didn’t have Marcin Gortat in the game for that final play to protect the rim. Why? It’s all just very Wizards.

3) DeAndre Jordan was dunking all over the Knicks. The Clippers big man didn’t get to compete in the Dunk Contest when the All-Star Game came to New York this February. So Wednesday night he decided to put on a dunking exhibition all of the Knicks to show fans what they missed. (Yes, I know the Dunk Contest took place at the Barclays Center, work with me here.)

4) Dwight Howard is back, that didn’t slow James Harden one bit. Dwight Howard was back on the court for the Rockets Wednesday, something they will need come the playoffs. But he was being eased back in, playing four-minute spurts at the start of each quarter, finishing with four points and grabbing seven boards. He was not changing the game. That was left to James Harden, who had another impressive game of 25 points and 10 boards as the Rockets hung on for a 95-93 win over the Pelicans. (New Orleans closed the game on a 12-3 and made it interesting, Anthony Davis finished with 24 and 14). Houston just keeps on winning.

5) Lionel Messi, rest of Argentinian national soccer team, show up to support Luis Scola. The most famous athlete in the world — sorry LeBron, that’s Lionel Messi — was in attendance in Washington to watch the Pacers take on the Wizards. Why? Luis Scola, why else? Either way he got to see an entertaining finish.

Celtics lock-up Al Horford with two-year, $20 million extension

Washington Wizards v Boston Celtics
Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images
0 Comments

Brad Stevens has locked up the core of this Celtics team — the one that reached the Finals last season and has the best record in the NBA to start this one — through the summer of 2025.

They did that with a two-year, $20 million extension (that kicks in next season). The story was broken by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN and later confirmed by the Celtics.

Horford, 36, is making $26.5 million this season, the final year of a four-year, $109 million deal he signed in Philadelphia. While he never fit well as a stretch four next to Joel Embiid, he has worked well as a role player in Boston’s front line. The Celtics have locked him up at a deal closer to the league average and about his value now, at an average of $10 million a season (both years are fully guaranteed). It’s a fair deal for both sides, and a low enough number that if Father Time starts to win the race it doesn’t hurt Boston much.

With Robert Williams still out following knee surgery, Horford has seen his minutes increase to start this season but he has handled it well, averaging  10.9 points and 6.3 rebounds a game, shooting 55.5% overall and 48.8% from 3-point range. Joe Mazzulla will likely try to get Horford some rest down the line when he can, but for now he’s leaning on the veteran.

And the team has rewarded him.

Donovan says Lonzo Ball’s recovery has ‘been really slow’

Milwaukee Bucks v Chicago Bulls
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
0 Comments

Watching the finger-pointing and heated moments between Bulls’ defenders on Wednesday night as Devin Booker carved them up to the tune of 51 points, one thought was how much they miss Lonzo Ball‘s defense at the point of attack.

Ball had a second surgery on his knee back in September and the team said he would be out at “least a few months.” It’s coming up on a few months, so Donovan gave an update on Ball and his recovery, and the news was not good for Bulls’ fans. Via Rob Schaefer at NBC Sports Chicago:

“It’s been really slow,” Donovan said when asked about Ball’s rehab. “I’m just being honest.”

Donovan added Ball has not necessarily suffered a setback. The Bulls knew this would be an arduous process. But he also noted that Ball is “not even close” to being cleared for contact or on-court work.

Ball had his first knee surgery in January and the expectation was he would be back and 100% by the playoffs. However, Ball’s knee didn’t respond well, and he was eventually ruled out for the season. Things didn’t improve over the summer, which led to the second surgery. How much do they miss him? The Bulls were 22-13 with him last season, and he averaged 13.1 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 5.1 assists, a game. However, it was his defense that was most crucial.

There is no timeline for his return. Which is not good news for Chicago.

PBT Podcast: Timberwolves without KAT, get Luka some help

0 Comments

Minnesota has stumbled out of the gate this season, and now they will be without Karl-Anthony Towns for around a month with a calf strain. Just how much trouble are the Timberwolves in?

Corey Robinson from NBC Sports and myself discuss that and then get into Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s Team USA vs. Team World matchup — does Evan Fournier get the world team in trouble? Who guards whom?

From there, it’s time for Corey’s Jukebox and some New Orleans jazz for Zion Williamson. Some Mavericks’ talk follows that — Dallas has put a big load on the shoulders of Luka Doncic, and while he’s playing like an MVP it’s a long-term concern for the Mavericks and their fans.

You can always watch the video of some of the podcast above, or listen to the entire podcast below, listen and subscribe via iTunes at ApplePodcasts.com/PBTonNBC, subscribe via the fantastic Stitcher app, check us out on Google Play, or anywhere else you get your podcasts.

We want your questions for future podcasts, and your comments, so please feel free to email us at PBTpodcast@gmail.com.

LeBron calls out reporters for asking him about Kyrie Irving but not Jerry Jones

0 Comments

Within days of Kyrie Irving being suspended by the Nets in the wake of a Tweet promoting an antisemitic film (and his initial refusal to apologize for it), Irving’s former teammate LeBron James was asked about it. He had to deal with the controversy, saying, “I don’t condone any hate to any kind. To any race.”

At the end of his press conference Wednesday night after the Lakers beat the Trail Blazers, LeBron scolded the assembled press for not asking him about the 1957 photo that surfaced of Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones outside North Little Rock High School while white students protested the integration of the school when they had been quick to ask about Irving.

“When I watched Kyrie talk, and he says, `I know who I am, but I want to keep the same energy when we’re talking about my people and the things they’ve been through,’ and that Jerry Jones photo is one of those moments that our people, Black people, have been through in America. And I feel like as a Black man, as a Black athlete, someone with power and with a platform, when we do something wrong or something that people don’t agree with, it’s on every single tabloid, every single news coverage. It’s on the bottom ticker. It’s asked about every single day.

“But it seems like to me that the whole Jerry Jones situation, the photo, and I know it was years and years ago, and we all make mistakes, I get it. It seems like it’s just been buried under, like, `Oh, it happened. OK. We just move on.’ And I was just kind of disappointed that I haven’t received that question from you guys.”

Irving and LeBron were teammates in Cleveland and won a ring together, there was a direct connection (plus Irving had been linked to the Lakers in trade rumors over the summer).

However, there was a connection between LeBron and the Cowboys as well. LeBron was for many years a very public Cowboys fan (despite growing up in Browns territory). It came up as recently as October, when LeBron was on Instagram Live promoting his HBO show with Maverick Carter “The Shop” and he said he had stopped rooting for the Cowboys in the wake of Colin Kaepernick’s peaceful protests, “There’s just a lot of things that were going on when guys were kneeling. Guys were having freedom of speech and wanting to do it in a very peaceful manner…. The organization was like, ‘If you do that around here, then you will never play for this franchise again.’ I just didn’t think that was appropriate.”

When asked about the photo, Jones said he was a curious 14-year-old who was watching and didn’t understand the magnitude of the moment or situation.