Maybe Thursday was a rough day, but things always could be worse — you could be the guy who tried to snort cocaine during a traffic stop by police. But if, as part of your rough day, you missed what happened around the NBA Thursday, we’ve got you covered. Here is what you need to know:
1) Anthony Davis goes off leading Pelican’s win; Stan Van Gundy almost goes off after game. Anthony Davis came out Thursday night and played like a guy who was pissed he could lose $23 million — he was not voted an All-Star Game starter. If he does not make one of the three All-NBA teams voted by coaches at the end of the season, he will not qualify for the “Rose Rule” on his max contract extension that kicks in next season, and it will cost him that $23 million. You’d be pissed, too. So Davis took it out on the Pistons, dropping 32 points on 23 shots, seven rebounds, and two blocks on them in a comfortable New Orleans win.
Pistons’ coach Stan Van Gundy was none too happy with his team’s effort in the loss.
Detroit is currently the six seed in the East, but they are just 1.5 games from falling out of the playoffs in a deep and crowded conference. Teams that close to falling out can’t be as inconsistent night-to-night as the Pistons have been. Interestingly, in his postgame comments, Brandon Jennings said Detroit misses having a veteran leader in the locker room that keeps guys focused and serious. Feels like he’s right about that.
2) Cavaliers get a quality win; Clippers get more questions. In the wake of getting run out of the building Monday by the Warriors (and losing to the Spurs last week), the Cavaliers’ have faced a lot of questions. What’s been surprising is their offense — which everyone expected to be dominant — was one of them. For a night anyway, the Cavaliers answered the questions on the offensive end Thursday — the team shot 50.6 percent, dished out 29 assists and picked up a 115-102 win over the Clippers. Every Cleveland starter finished in double figures scoring, led by J.R. Smith with 22 points. Kyrie Irving had 21 points, and Kevin Love added 18 points and 16 rebounds.
And when the Clippers did get the lead down to six in the fourth quarter, Cavs coach David Blatt — who before the game criticized the strategy — went to hack-a-Jordan, sending DeAndre Jordan to the free throw line and dragging the game down into the muck. Adam Silver, we’re looking to you to start leading on this issue.
Are the Clippers contenders? It’s a question Ben Bolch of the LA Times and I tackled in the latest PBT Podcast, but they didn’t look like it Thursday. Los Angeles had won 11-of-12 coming in and showed promise, but a tweet by Dan Wokie of the Orange County Register sums up the problem for the Clips against the top nine teams in the league.
The recent struggles remind me of the ones from the first month or so of the season, right Ben?
3) All-Star starters named, and it almost became the Zaza Pachulia show. The official announcement of the NBA All-Star Game starters for the Feb. 14 game in Toronto were made Friday, and there were no major surprises. Here’s the list:
East: Dwyane Wade, Kyle Lowry, LeBron James, Paul George, Carmelo Anthony
West: Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard
Lowry and Leonard made a leap during the final week of voting (passing Kyrie Irving and Draymond Green) to become starters, but both of them are having All-Star level seasons so that’s not news. What would have been news was Dallas big man Pachulia’s push — he picked up nearly 200,000 votes in the final week and came within 14,000 votes of beating out Leonard and getting the start. That has already set some off questioning letting a fan vote pick the starters — relax people, it’s an exhibition. A show for the fans. Give the people what they want — even if what they want is Pachulia.