Knicks’ Courtney Lee: “We’re contenders, man”

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The Knicks are going to contend… for a playoff spot.

But that’s not the attitude fans want to hear from their players heading into the season. Now is the time of optimism. Right now everybody’s healthy, and it’s all puppy dogs and rainbows — nothing is going to go wrong. So talk of just making the playoffs isn’t good enough, not for the Knicks anyway.

Enter Courtney Lee, speaking to Basketball Insiders.

“We’re contenders, man. They didn’t make the playoffs last year, but we’re looking to change that and win big. The ring is the ultimate goal for everybody on the team; I know it is for me. When they talked to me and told me about the pieces they were adding alongside the players who were already there, I didn’t think anything less than a championship [was the goal]. We’re trying to get the Knicks back into the playoffs and win big. … Everybody is hungry and everybody has their own motivation or chip on their shoulder. We just need to come together, get that chemistry and see it click. Once everybody is together and everybody is hungry, I think we can be very scary.”

Notice the other players in that Basketball Insiders piece spoke in somewhat more realistic terms. Myles Turner talked about the Pacers finishing in the top three in the East — that’s a reasonable goal for them (I have them fourth). Other guys talk about their teams taking a step forward from last season.

I guess that doesn’t fly in New York.

If the Knicks stay healthy — and that is a huge “if” — they can make some noise. New York’s starting five has potential: Derrick Rose, Lee, Carmelo Anthony, Kristaps Porzingis, and Joakim Noah. The question is how many games will that five play together? If I set the over/under at 55, what would you take? Also, can those five guys play up-tempo like new coach Jeff Hornacek wants? There isn’t great depth behind that five with Brandon Jennings at the point being the best one of the bunch.

Still, the Knicks have an improving Porzingis, Rose in a contract year, and some talent on that roster. They can win enough games to make the playoffs. That’s a step forward, one they can keep building upon.

But that’s not what sells. So enter Lee.

Stephen Curry gets four-point play after Klay Thompson foul, Curry does some taunting

Associated Press
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Stephen Curry is enjoying going against Klay Thompson. Maybe a little too much.

In the first half, Curry was matched up on his Warriors’ backcourt mate and enjoyed that Thompson missed the shot.

Then in the fourth quarter, with the game tight, Curry drained the contested three and drew the and-1 on Thompson — and did a little taunting.

That’s some All-Star fun.

Stephen Curry bounces alley-oop way above rim, Giannis Antetokounmpo slams it down (video)

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CHARLOTTE – Stephen Curry bounced this so high!

I suppose it helps that Giannis Antetokounmpo has such ridiculous reach.

Dirk Nowitzki walks on All-Star court, quickly splashes three threes

Associated Press
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Maybe Dirk Nowitzki shouldn’t retire after this season.

Added to the All-Star Game by Commissioner Adam Silver (along with Dwyane Wade) in what is expected to be the final season for the future Hall of Famer, the greatest shooting big man of all time showed he still has the touch. Entering the game midway through the first quarter, Nowitzki proceeded to quickly splash a couple of threes.

And he was not done yet.

Nowitzki never officially said he was retiring….

Giannis Antetokounmpo throws himself alley-oop on free throw… that obviously doesn’t count (video)

Maddie Meyer/Getty Images
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CHARLOTTE – It’s an All-Star game, but you still can’t do that. A free throw that doesn’t hit rim is a violation, and Giannis Antetokounmpo clearly crossed the line early, too:

He was clearly going for levity, and at least he accomplished that.