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Five Takeaways from NBA Tuesday: LeBron dunk forces OT in Cavs/Mavs thriller

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If you’re like me, you stopped your binge watching of Making a Murderer to flip on NBA games Tuesday. If you’re not like me and just kept right on watching the Avery family, then here is what you need to know from a Tuesday around the Association.

1) LeBron James’ dunk sends Cavaliers and Mavericks to overtime, where Kyrie Irving sank the dagger. What.A. Game. Dallas and Cleveland played one of the most entertaining games of the year a back-and-forth contest that even saw Dirk Nowitzki and LeBron matched up head-to-head in key moments. Dallas’ starters played fantastically — Chandler Parsons had 25 points — while Cleveland’s struggled for much of the game (Kevin Love was 5-of-19 shooting, but, at least, he got 19 shots). LeBron continued his hot shooting from the outside ever since John Schuhmann’s tweet; he looked like his vintage self for stretches. Then when the Cavaliers needed a bucket to send the game to overtime LeBron attacked the rim and Devin Harris was not about to stop that finish.

That led to an overtime where eventually the Cavaliers went on a 10-2 run, but it was LeBron’s hesitation after a Deron Williams flop, and then a kick-out to a very deep Kyrie Irving, that put the dagger in Dallas.

2) Carmelo Anthony sprains ankle, could miss time. It was a fluke play not long before halftime. Anthony was running back upcourt, watching the play behind him, and crashed into a referee, stepping on the ref’s foot. ‘Melo rolled his ankle.

Anthony had his ankle retaped and tried to start the second half, but played 19 seconds and came out. The good news is the X-rays were negative, and he’s not going to miss much time. However, don’t be surprised if Anthony sits out Wednesday against the Nets.

‘Melo’s ankle almost stole the headline from the real story: The Knicks are a .500 team at 20-20 after beating Boston (which has struggled since the first of the year). Before the season it would have seemed impossible that the Knicks would be playing this well, or that .500 would still be on the outside looking in at the playoffs in the East, but here we are. Knicks fans can thank the youngsters for this win: Jerian Grant had nine points and six assists in the fourth quarter; Kristaps Porzingis had 16 points and took one three from a step off the Knicks logo at center court.

3) Derrick Rose leaves the game due to tendonitis, says he’s not going to miss time (but we’ll see). The Chicago Bulls have lost three straight games now (falling to the Bucks Tuesday 106-101), their defense has gone on hiatus, and those are not their biggest worries anymore — Derrick Rose had to come out of the game in the second half with what he called “jumpers’ knee.” Rose wasn’t worried that this is serious, but he just came back after three missed games (hamstring) and now this. Don’t be shocked if he sits out a game or three.

The Bulls actually have been better this season with Rose off the court, mostly because their defense improves. Plus they are used to playing without him (the offense is very close to the same scoring rate with him on or off the court). Still, Chicago is going to struggle to find its identity if it can’t just get a stretch of games with settled rotations with everyone healthy.

[graphiq id=”1XQgwamimGh” title=”Bulls Opponent Stats With Derrick Rose On/Off Court in 2015″ width=”600″ height=”548″ url=”https://w.graphiq.com/w/1XQgwamimGh” link=”http://basketball-players.pointafter.com/l/383/Derrick-Rose” link_text=”Bulls Opponent Stats With Derrick Rose On/Off Court in 2015 | PointAfter”]

4) Kobe Bryant leaves Lakers’ game with a sore Achilles.
Speaking of superstars whose bodies will not let them stay on the court, Kobe had to leave the Lakers’ eventual win over the Anthony Davis-less Pelicans because of a sore Achilles. Considering his previous injury there, the Lakers rightfully are going to be cautious. Kobe is listed as questionable for Thursday’s game at Golden State.

I watched the second half of this game and here are my two quick takeaways:

1) Byron Scott, for the love of the game, keep D'Angelo Russell in at the end of the fourth quarter. He played well, you can start to see his development of late, he is mentally starting to figure out how to play at the NBA level and work off pick-and-rolls — why are you sitting him? You reward his good play with getting to watch the end of the game from the bench? Interesting player development choice.

2) The final two minutes of this game were just sloppy and ugly. These are two bad teams playing matador defense basketball.

5) A power outage leads to 20-minute delay during Suns at Pacers. This was the best defense Phoenix played all night. A power outage throughout downtown Indianapolis turned off the lights at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, and the game had to be delayed with 4:32 left in the second quarter and the Pacers up by two. The stoppage was about 20-25 minutes.

Indiana went on a 14-3 run not long after the lights came back up. The Pacers went on to win 116-97.

Former Cavaliers coach David Blatt reveals he has multiple sclerosis

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David Blatt is one of the NBA’s all-time memorable characters. Renowned for his overseas success, Blatt got hired as Cavaliers coach just before LeBron James returned. Blatt won a lot in both the regular season and playoffs, but he was cocky and had plenty of blind spots. He alienated his players, which ultimately got him fired during Cleveland’s 2015-16 championship season.

Blatt now coaches Olympiacos in Greece. Unfortunately, his story has taken a sobering turn, as he was diagnosed with primary progressive multiple sclerosis.

Blatt:

Well, the problem is the PPMS which in my case and in my age manifests itself primarily in the weakness of the legs. fatigue/balance and strength are real issues for me. I have taken on a specific regimen of strengthening and balance exercises as well as swimming and aquatic workouts to improve overall body conditioning and help with muscle pliability and motion.

I am a coach and my job is to lead and teach and inspire a lot of people. Not being as agile or active doesn’t affect my ability to do those things. I am fortunate. I have great doctors trainers physical therapists and management that accept my disabilities and help me overcome. How could I possibly complain? I absolutely cannot and will not.

This is sad news about the 60-year-old Blatt. But I appreciate his determination to overcome the setback. He was always headstrong, and that might be the exact attitude he needs right now.

Marc Gasol says Team USA still incredibly talented, “great team”

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In past Olympics and FIBA World Cup years, international observers have said the guys USA Basketball cuts from the roster — or maybe even the Select Team of young players they practice against — could win gold in their own right. The USA’s talent pool is that deep.

This year that idea is being put to the test.

After a string of high-profile players withdrawing from the team — James Harden, Anthony Davis, Damian Lillard, and on down the line — Team USA will have just one All-NBA/All-Star player on the roster in Kemba Walker.

That roster went out and comfortably beat Spain — the No. 2 ranked team in the world by FIBA — in an exhibition last Friday. While we should be careful reading too much into a friendly, Spanish center Marc Gasol told Marc Stein of the New York Times the Americans still had plenty of talent.

“I’m sure that it’s going to fuel them,” Gasol said of the loud skepticism increasingly endured by the American team.

“The amount of talent that the U.S. generates every year is unbelievable,’’ he added. “Even with all the guys that dropped out — or if you want to say these guys don’t have experience internationally — they’re still super talented physically and technically. And they’re pretty well-coached as well. So you put it all together and it’s a great team.”

(The “pretty well-coached” line is a joke, by the way, players and Gregg Popovich have that kind of relationship.)

The USA is still the team to beat in China when the World Cup tips off Aug. 31. Spain has a puncher’s chance to knock off the USA, France has some good talent on the roster, and Greece has Giannis Antetokounmpo. However, Team USA should be able to comfortably beat any of those sides.

Serbia, led by Nikola Jokic, is the one team with a legitimate shot to knock off the Americans.

But Serbia is the underdog for a reason. Even with all the players choosing to stay home, the USA is the most talented roster in the tournament. The gap is narrowing, but the rest of the world has not caught up to the American talent level. What Serbia, Spain, and other countries do have is a familiarity of players and system — these guys grow up playing together and have a natural chemistry, something the USA tries to cram together in a couple of weeks. Popovich has focused on building those bonds with this team, knowing that is the area of both weakness and potential growth.

This USA team may not have the intimidating talent of previous years, but it still has enough to win. And the rest of the world knows that, even if the American public does not.

Lakers reportedly doing “due diligence” in talking to Dwight Howard

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The Lakers were going to lean heavily on DeMarcus Cousins this season. Los Angeles has arguably the best center in the game today in Anthony Davis, but he is not built for nor does he want to play 30+ minutes a night banging away down in the post. Davis wants to face up, run the floor, and play most of his minutes at the four next to a more traditional center, then slide over in key matchups and situations. Cousins was going to be that center (he and Davis have some chemistry from their time together in New Orleans).

Now Cousins is almost certainly lost for the season with a torn ACL, and the Lakers are left looking through the guys other teams have yet to sign to try to find a Cousins replacement. There are not a lot of good options, which is why the Lakers wisely plan to take their time and look at everyone.

Dwight Howard is part of that process. While the Howard camp may be excited about the prospect of returning and gaining redemption in Los Angeles, for the Lakers this is more about part of the process, reports Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.

Again, as with all of free agency, when you read about a sourced story (about Howard and the Lakers for example), think about who benefits from it being public and telling a reporter about it. Think about the reporter’s connections. Shelburne is very well connected to the Laker organization, for example.

The Lakers absolutely need to take a long look at Howard. After he left Los Angeles, Howard eventually found a groove as a quality NBA center. From the 2015-16 to 2017-18 seasons, Howard averaged 13+ points and 12 rebounds a night, was a big body on defense, and played at least 71 games in all of those seasons at about 30 minutes a night. Exactly the kind of player the Lakers could use right now. However, Howard played just nine games for the Wizards last season following another back surgery and some hamstring issues. He was not healthy.

The Lakers have to decide how healthy Howard is and would he be able to bounce back to the level he was in those previous three seasons? Even if he can, is he a better option than Joakim Noah, who impressed a lot of people around the league with his solid 41 games for Memphis the second half of last season? What about Kenneth Faried?

Los Angeles has a lot to consider. Howard should be part of that mix, but don’t expect a quick decision here. The Lakers have almost a month until training camp opens and are not in a rush, they want to get this right.

Report: Lakers have interest in Joakim Noah

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The Los Angeles Lakers are reportedly interested in Dwight Howard. He has not yet been bought out by the Memphis Grizzlies, but a return to L.A. for Howard would be one of the most Lakers things of all time.

Howard infamously left Los Angeles under an auspicious circumstances in 2013 after things went south during the 2012-13 season between him, Kobe Bryant, and Steve Nash. He signed with the Houston Rockets that summer.

But Howard is not the only aging center under consideration by the Lakers. According to Shams Charania, Los Angeles is also considering adding Joakim Noah to their roster.

Via Twitter:

DeMarcus Cousins’ ACL injury has created a dearth of center depth for the Lakers, one that cannot be easily filled quickly. There aren’t a lot of available players left, and Los Angeles doesn’t have much to help facilitate a trade.

LeBron James and Anthony Davis need some help moving forward if they want to go deep into the Western Conference playoffs, and having only JaVale McGee playing at the center position won’t help them do that. They need to add somebody, but Howard or Noah being the answer to that is a scary proposition for a team with championship hopes.