Associated Press

Missing 4 starters, Grizzlies stun sloppy Cavaliers 106-103

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CLEVELAND (AP) — When word reached the Cavaliers’ locker room shortly before tip-off that the Memphis Grizzlies were down four starters, LeBron James got an uneasy feeling.

His fears were warranted.

Tony Allen scored a season-high 26 points and the Grizzlies, playing with just one of their starters, stunned the Cavaliers 106-103 on Monday night.

“We’re all in this league for a reason,” James said. “We didn’t respect them tonight and they beat us.”

Vince Carter made four free throws in the final 13.4 seconds to steal the upset by a Memphis team missing Mike Conley, Zach Randolph, Chris Andersen, Matt Barnes and had more coaches than players sitting on the bench.

A day after the Los Angeles Lakers shocked the Golden State Warriors, the Grizzlies dazed the Cavs.

“The guys played their hearts out,” Memphis coach David Joerger said. “We had guys cramping, but they left it all out there. It’s a happy locker room. The phones are blowing up from everybody in Memphis. All of our guys that (are) back home like Marc (Gasol) and Birdman (Andersen) are jumping and down in their living room right now.”

Lance Stephenson added 17 points and JaMychal Green 16 points and 10 rebounds for the Grizzlies, who forced the Cavs into a season-high 25 turnovers and never backed down against the Eastern Conference’s top team.

Data curated by PointAfter

Allen returned after missing eight games with a knee injury for Memphis, which only dressed eight players.

“I don’t care who you are playing, if it’s my son’s little league team you’re going to lose when you give up that many points off turnovers,” James said. “We were very careless with our mindset – and with the ball.”

James scored 28 points and Kyrie Irving had 27 – 14 in the fourth. James also moved past Hall of Famer John Havlicek into 13th place on the NBA’s career scoring list.

Perhaps overconfident following weekend wins over Washington and Boston, and against a wounded Memphis team without, the Cavs were outplayed at both ends. Cleveland trailed the Grizzlies the entire game before taking its first lead on Irving’s steal and layup with 2:42 remaining.

Memphis figured to buckle, but the Grizzlies wouldn’t give in and took a 101-100 lead on Mario Chalmers‘ layup with 25 seconds left.

Allen then tied up James on a drive, forcing and winning a jump ball with 17 seconds to go. Chalmers made a free throw and Carter made two free throws before James hit a 3-pointer to bring the Cavs within 104-103.

Carter, who finished with 15 points, made two more from the line and the Grizzlies escaped with an unexpected win when Irving’s 3-pointer at the horn hit the back of the rim.

“I just thought they were tougher than us tonight,” Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said. “Thought they played hard and out-scrapped us. You got to respect everybody in this league. Everyone gets a paycheck.”

Only an hour before tip-off, Joerger still wasn’t sure who would start.

The Grizzlies initially said only Conley (foot) and Andersen (shoulder) would be out, but then Joerger broke the news that Randolph (knee) and Barnes (hamstring) were also sidelined, making things even tougher on a Memphis team already without Gasol, done for the season with a broken right foot.

The short-handed Grizzlies faced a daunting task, but they weren’t intimidated and nearly led from start to finish.

“This is big time for us,” Carter said. “We had a lot of guys out. When you see shots go down you gain confidence. We did a great job of executing and not getting rattled.”

LEARNING CURVE

James chalked up the unexpected loss to a team still figuring things out.

“We’re a team that’s still learning, man,” he said. “We got some young guys and a group that’s been together for a little over a year. It’s another learning experience for us.”

TIP-INS

Grizzlies: Conley underwent an MRI and the team is hoping to have a better sense of how long he will be sidelined later this week. … Memphis has lost more playing time due to injury or illness this season than any other current playoff team. … The four missing starters average a combined 42.9 points.

Cavaliers: James said the chance to play one final game against Olympic teammate Kobe Bryant would not take precedence over any decision for him to sit out and rest. The Cavs visit the Lakers at Staples Center on Thursday night. Bryant is retiring at the conclusion of his 20th season in the NBA. James said he and Lue have discussed possible games he’ll sit but “it’s still day-to-day.”

 

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar didn’t like how Bruce Lee was portrayed by Quentin Tarantino

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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was friends with Bruce Lee before the actor’s tragic death in 1973. He was his teacher, pal, and co-star in in 1972’s Game of Death. Naturally, Abdul-Jabbar is protective of his friend’s legacy, and he’s not too happy about how Lee was portrayed in Quentin Tarantino’s latest film.

Tarantino’s Once Upon A Time In Hollywood is a meandering, beautiful, boring tribute to the film industry as it was changing at the end of the 1960s. It’s worth seeing just as a thing to look at, but the narrative — or lack thereof — is plodding, and the ending harkens back to a kind of transposed version of Inglourious Basterds that leaves you wondering what the point of making the film was in the first place.

Somewhere in the middle of its long 2h 45m runtime, there’s an extended scene in Once Upon A Time where Brad Pitt’s character Cliff fights Bruce Lee. Why? Probably because Tarantino wanted to pay tribute to Lee being an important part of that era, and because Tarantino so untouchable that nobody could tell him to leave the extemporaneous scene on the cutting room floor.

Instead, what Tarantino’s tribute scene appears to have angered Abdul-Jabbar along with members of Lee’s family.

In an article penned in The Hollywood Reporter this week, Abdul-Jabbar called Lee’s portrayal “sloppy” and “somewhat racist”.

Via THR:

Quentin Tarantino’s portrayal of Bruce Lee in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood does not live up to this standard. Of course, Tarantino has the artistic right to portray Bruce any way he wants. But to do so in such a sloppy and somewhat racist way is a failure both as an artist and as a human being.

The John Wayne machismo attitude of Cliff (Brad Pitt), an aging stuntman who defeats the arrogant, uppity Chinese guy harks back to the very stereotypes Bruce was trying to dismantle. Of course the blond, white beefcake American can beat your fancy Asian chopsocky dude because that foreign crap doesn’t fly here.

Lee’s family, including daughter Shannon, has also spoken up about how Lee was portrayed in the film. In an interview with The Wrap, Shannon Lee said that, “He comes across as an arrogant asshole who was full of hot air.”

Once Upon A Time is a forgettable movie wrapped in the trappings of modern prestige media, where viewers are either unable separate production value from content, or unwilling to do so. It is beautiful, and the people involved are heavy hitters. But halfway through, the viewer is left asking “What’s the plot of this movie?” and that question remains until the final 15 minutes, when the inevitable, telegraphed ending finally, mercifully closes the story and the end credits roll.

Meanwhile, in true Tarantino form, his indulgences have created a mini-storm around one of his films in the most unnecessary way. An ill-conceived and executed scene that added nothing but length to Once Upon A Time has turned into a grating talking point for people like Abdul-Jabbar and Shannon Lee.

Rachel Nichols and Maria Taylor to host ‘NBA Countdown’

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Things just keep getting better for NBA fans when it comes to national TV broadcasts.

It was announced in August that TNT would be doing away with the “Players Only” broadcast that appeared on NBA TV. Those broadcast crews were roundly criticized as being meandering and uninformed when it came to the product on the floor.

Now fans are getting more of what they want in the form of Rachel Nichols and Maria Taylor.

According to a report from Richard Deitsch, Nichols and Taylor will be the hosts of ESPN’s pregame show, NBA Countdown.

Paul Pierce and Chauncey Billups Won’t return as analysts on the pregame show next year, leaving just Jalen Rose. That means there are a couple of spots open, and we don’t yet know who ESPN will fill them with. Nichols will reportedly continue to host her regular show “The Jump”.

As the league continues to get more popular, it makes sense that broadcast partners listen to the audience. Nichols is an NBA favorite, so having her be more visible makes a lot of sense.

NBA players roast Kyle Kuzma over outfit posted to Instagram (PHOTOS)

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Kyle Kuzma is going to be expected to have a big year for the Los Angeles Lakers. He thinks he can have the impact of a third star for L.A., a team that didn’t add Kawhi Leonard to go alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis this summer.

That’s big talk from Kuzma, but perhaps that talk has boosted his confidence a little bit. In a photo posted to Instagram this week, Kuzma could be seen wearing… whatever this is.

Via Twitter:

Twitter had a great time with Kuzma outfit, which looks like something pulled straight out of an early 2000s episode of TRL.

Kuzma’s contemporaries in the NBA thought he was getting a little wild with it, too, with several hopping onto the post to roast the Lakers big man.

Via Twitter:

I don’t know what this means for the upcoming Lakers season, but I’m sure it’s something interesting.

Draymond Green says he’s ‘at a loss for words about’ DeMarcus Cousins injury

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Everyone has been upset about the recent ACL tear suffered by DeMarcus Cousins. The Los Angeles Lakers big man just can’t seem to catch a break, and has injured his Achilles, quad, and now ACL in the span of two years.

Last year was supposed to be one of retribution for Cousins with the Golden State Warriors, but the results were disappointing. Even still, the Lakers decided to take a chance on Cousins as they tried to push for supremacy in the Western Conference.

Meanwhile folks have shown their support for the former Sacramento Kings All-Star, with Draymond Green being the most recent star to offer comment. The former Warriors teammate of Cousins told ESPN how he felt about the injury this week.

Via ESPN and Marc Spears of The Undefeated:

“One of my goals coming into this season was for DeMarcus to destroy everybody and come back and show how great of a player he is and get what I think he deserves,” Green told The Undefeated’s Marc Spears. “I’m really at a loss for words about it. It’s one that really hurt me for sure.”

Cousins is now 29 years old, and the question is whether he will ever return to any kind of form approaching what he had in Sacramento. His injuries have been devastating, and they are the kind that few have returned from to play at an elite level in the NBA.

Cousins appears to be fast approaching a spot in NBA history with other potential greats whose careers were ruined by injury. Hopefully he can find a way to avoid that track.