Anthony Davis scores 35, Pelicans beat Timberwolves 114-99

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NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Anthony Davis scored 35 points and the New Orleans Pelicans overcame an early 17-point hole to beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 114-99 on Tuesday night.

Jrue Holiday scored 19 points and Tyreke Evans added 13 for the Pelicans, who’ve won three of four and are four games out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference with their next six games at home.

Eric Gordon scored 11 points but left the game late in the third quarter after apparently jamming a finger on his right hand.

Andrew Wiggins scored 21 points and Karl-Anthony Towns added 20 points and 13 rebounds for Minnesota, which has lost 10 of 11. Ricky Rubio added 15 points, but the Timberwolves were outscored 63-39 in the second half.

Minnesota led 62-51 after Wiggins’ layup early in the third quarter, but New Orleans then surged to its first lead of the game with a 14-2 run that began with a 3 by former Minnesota player Dante Cunningham and ended with Gordon’s 100th 3-pointer of the season, making it 65-64.

Cunningham hit three 3-pointers and finished with 11 points in his 12th start this season.

The Pelicans wound up outscoring the Wolves 31-15 in the third quarter, which ended with the Pelicans scoring four points inside the last 3 seconds – first with Holiday hitting a 15-foot pull-up, then with Cunningham stealing Nemanja Bjelica‘s inbound pass and sprinting in for a layup just before the horn sounded.

Minnesota’s Gorgui Deng, standing under the hoop, caught the ball as it came through the net and disgustedly slammed it off the court. Whatever anger he and his teammates felt didn’t translate to production early in the fourth quarter. They needed more than 3 minutes to score their next points. By then, the Pelicans had taken their first double-digit lead on Davis’ 14-foot jumper.

Soon after, Anderson and Holiday both hit 3s, giving New Orleans a 92-79 lead, and Minnesota could not mount another serious threat.

The Timberwolves looked their best in the opening quarter, racing to their largest lead when Bjelica’s tip-in of Zach LaVine‘s miss made it 38-21.

At that point, Minnesota had hit 13 of its first 17 shots.

Towns had nine points and seven rebounds before the period ended.

Davis scored 22 of his points during the first half to help New Orleans trim its deficit back into single digits. New Orleans also appeared to get an emotional charge when Anderson was called for a foul despite appearing to take the worst of a collision with Kevin Garnett, with the Minnesota veteran’s forearm hitting the Pelicans forward flush in the face. Officials reviewed video of the incident, upholding their initial call as boos rained down from fans who could also see the replay on the scoreboard.

The Timberwolves still were able to carry a 60-51 lead into halftime after Wiggins scored his 14th point on an 11-foot jumper with 4 seconds left in the second quarter, but not much went right after for Minnesota after that.

TIP-INS

Timberwolves: Reserve center Nikola Pekovic, who did not make his season debut until Jan. 6 because of right Achilles tendon surgery last April 8, was given the night off to rest. … Minnesota was shooting 72.2 percent after the first quarter (13 of 18), but went 23 of 58 (39.7 percent) the rest of the way to finish at 47.4 percent.

Pelicans: Davis has eclipsed 30 points seven times this season, with a season-high of 43 (which tied his career high). … New Orleans improved to 9-9 at home this season. … The Pelicans have won six straight against Minnesota.

 

NBA makes it official, moves up free agency six hours to 6 p.m. June 30 (Eastern)

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I’d like to think this means we’ll all be able to go to bed at a reasonable hour on June 30. I also know better.

There is a frenzy of activity right as free agency opens (Tampering? There is no tampering in the NBA…), which traditionally has been as the clock turns to July 1 in New York, right at midnight. Things got so active that a lot of agents and players made sure they were in Los Angeles, even if they didn’t live there in the offseason, just so things started at the more reasonable hour of 9 p.m.

Now the NBA has made the rumors official: Free agency will begin at 6 p.m. Eastern on June 30. Six hours earlier than before.

This was done as an agreement between the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association.

This is going to be a wild July with a lot of big-name free agents — Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Klay Thompson, Jimmy Butler — and maybe a third of the players in the league on the market, plus there are a lot more teams with cap space to spend this season. It’s going to be a frenzy.

Now we know what time the wild times start.

Why does Kevin Durant respond on social media? “I’m qualified to talk about basketball”

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Every NBA player gets ripped on social media, even the guys who are not on social media. Most of the time players just ignore it, the way they ignore fans yelling stuff courtside or distant family asking them for money.

Kevin Durant, however, gets into it sometimes, even with national media members (and even had a burner account). Which always becomes a thing.

Why? Why not just ignore it? From Durant himself at practice Friday, via NBC Sports Bay Area.

“Because I have social media,” Durant said Friday… “I mean, I’m a human being with a social media account. I could see if I ventured off into like politics, culinary arts or music and gave my input, but I’m sticking to something that I know. You know what I’m saying? This is all I know. I’m actually talking about stuff that I know. I’m qualified to talk about basketball.

“So when I respond to something, especially if it’s about me personally, of course I’m going to tell you if you wrong about it. When I’m on the training table getting treatment on my calf and I see a tweet that come by and I disagree — I don’t talk to people because I’m worried about what they say, it’s just that I’m interested. So if you talking about in-game or the NBA Finals, they’re the same to me, you know what I’m saying?”

Durant seems to have more time on hands to get into these spats while he is out injured. Which likely will last into the start of the NBA Finals.

Does this mean the Drake/Durant beef is inevitable?

LeBron likes Instagram of Kyrie Irving in Lakers jersey, Internet goes berserk

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The Lakers landing Kyrie Irving in free agency this summer might be their best realistic option. It’s far, far from a lock — the Knicks, and yes Celtics, will make their pitch, too — but reuniting the pair that won a title in Cleveland is on the Lakers’ radar. (Insert your own, “you know who should coach this team” Tyronn Lue joke here.)

Fueling the speculation, LeBron James and Irving were seen hanging out together at a club in Los Angeles recently. Then Friday, this happened: Cuffthelegend posted this on Instagram and LeBron liked it.

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I like how this feels

A post shared by Savage Season 365 (@cuffsthelegend) on

(For the record, Cuffthelegend gets some stuff right, he’s not a guy who posts stuff out of nowhere.)

Of course, NBA Twitter and the web responded to this in its usual measured, thoughtful way. Some Lakers fans think the deal is done, others mock the idea altogether.

Two thoughts on Irving and the Lakers:

• Multiple reports say Irving is open to it. Irving also has a strong relationship with Kevin Durant, and Boston still plans to trade for Anthony Davis and then try to re-sign Irving (even if Boston fans are done with Kyrie). The only person who knows which way Irving is leaning right now is Irving, and there’s a good chance he changes his mind in the next five weeks anyway.

• If the Lakers are going to land a star free agent this summer, it will be because LeBron was an active recruiter. These elite players have options, and the Laker front office is not inspiring confidence of late, it will be on LeBron to win guys over.

 

Jeremy Lin: Milwaukee security guard asked for my pass to Raptors team bus

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Jeremy Lin has discussed people not believing he plays in the NBA.

It apparently still happens.

Lin, whose Raptors are playing the Bucks in the Eastern Conference finals, via Bill Michaels Sports Talk Network:

After Game 2 in Milwaukee, I was trying to get to the team bus and one of the dudes in the Milwaukee arena just screams at me. He’s like, “Where do you think you’re going?!” And I’m like, “Uh, I’m trying to get to the team bus.” He’s like, “What?! Where’s your pass?” I was like, “I don’t have a pass. I don’t know what you’re talking about. I don’t have a pass.”

This happens in a lot of arenas, so I just kind of go with the flow.

It’s a fine line. Lin shouldn’t be profiled as a non-athlete because he’s Asian-American. Arena staffers should keep everyone safe by stopping unauthorized people.