Enes Kanter on trying to get in LeBron’s head: “No it does not work. But I’m trying.”

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Last season, before the Cavaliers took on the Knicks at Madison Square Garden, LeBron James took a clear shot at Phil Jackson — a favorite pastime of his, and of Knicks fans — saying Dennis Smith Jr. should have been a Knick (Jackson drafted Frank Ntilikina eighth, letting Dennis Smith Jr. fall to the Mavericks at No. 9). The Knicks and their fans took that as a shot at Ntilikina. Then new Knick Enes Kanter came to his teammate’s defense, so LeBron clarified his shot was at Jackson. During the eventual Cavs/Knicks game, LeBron and Kanter got in each other’s face.

So, is there a beef there? Kanter talked about it to Royce Young of ESPN.

And then it was the first game I was with the Knicks and then he came and before the game he said we should’ve drafted Dennis Smith Jr. And not just me, but most of our guys felt like it was disrespectful to Frank [Ntilikina] and we actually sat down with Frank and talked to him and said, “Hey you gotta step up for yourself, man.”

Then I was in the game and they were pushing each other and I’m like, “This is a 19-year-old kid against a 260-pound dude. This is not fair.” So I get in there and we were face-to-face and we trash-talked a little bit. After the game I called him “queen” or “princess” or whatever.

But I would do anything to take his focus away, distract him. People ask me, “Does it work?” No it does not work. But I’m trying.

That’s the thing with LeBron, at this point in his career nobody is getting in his head. He’s just too mentally strong for that.

Kanter, however, is going to chirp, going to get in guys’ faces on the court and Tweet about it later. It’s who he is, and part of what makes him entertaining as a player.

It’s worth reading the entire Kanter Q&A with ESPN as he gets into his beef with Kevin Durant, his Twitter persona, and his inability to return to his native Turkey because of strongman/dictator Recep Tayyip Erdogan (Kanter opposes his rule), and what that has meant for his family.

Timberwolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns out 4-6 weeks with calf strain

Minnesota Timberwolves v Washington Wizards
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It’s not good news, but it looked like it could have been much worse.

Timberwolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns is out for weeks with a right calf strain, the team announced Tuesday following an MRI exam. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reports it is likely 4-6 weeks.

The injury occurred midway through the third quarter Monday when Towns started to run back upcourt and went to the ground without contact, grabbing his knee and calf. It looked scary — Achilles scary — and he had to be helped off the court.

Towns has averaged 21.4 points and 8.5 rebounds a game, and while his numbers are down this season — just 32.8% on 3-pointers — the team has struggled at times without him, particularly lineups with Rudy Gobert and Anthony Edwards together, an -11.8 net rating (in non-garbage time minutes, via Cleaning the Glass).

Kevin Durant on chasing MVP: ‘Not really, I’ve been there, done that’

Orlando Magic v Brooklyn Nets
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Kevin Durant carried the Nets to another win Monday night, scoring 45 points on 19-of-24 shooting, plus seven rebounds and five assists.

If you’re having an MVP conversation a quarter of the way into the NBA season, Durant has to be part of it: 30 points per game on 54.8% shooting (and a ridiculous 65.9 true shooting percentage), 6.6 rebounds and 5.5 assists a game, plus playing solid defense and being the anchor of the Nets. After his 45-point outing to get Brooklyn a win over Orlando, Durant was asked about MVP chants and the chase for the award and was clearly not interested.

Durant has MVP numbers, but so do Stephen Curry, Luka Doncic, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jayson Tatum and others. If Durant is going to move to the front of the conversation, the first thing that has to happen is Brooklyn has to win a lot more games — 11-11 is not going to cut it when Tatum’s Celtics and Antetokounmpo’s Bucks have the two best records in the NBA. Winning games and finishing on a top-three team in the conference matters to some voters (and traditionally is one measure of an MVP).

Watch Herb Jones inbound off Pokusevski’s back, seal win for Pelicans

Oklahoma City Thunder v New Orleans Pelicans
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With 2.3 seconds left in the game and the Thunder down 2, they needed to steal the inbounds pass from New Orleans to have a real chance. That’s why when Aleksej Pokusevski walked on the court it looked like he was going to guard the inbounder, Herbert Jones.

Instead, Pokusevski turned his back to Jones, putting himself in position to step in front of anyone cutting to the ball to catch the inbounds. Except, Jones made the clever play to seal the game.

Pokusevski fouled Jones, who sank both free throws and sealed the 105-101 Pelicans win.

The Pelicans got 23-8-8 from Zion Williamson and picked up a win without CJ McCollum or Brandon Ingram in the lineup. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander continued his dominant start to the season and scored 31.

Watch Lakers fan drain half-court shot to win $75,000

Indiana Pacers v Los Angeles Lakers
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It might have been the loudest the crypto.com Arena was all night.

Between the third and fourth quarters, Lakers fan Jamie Murry of Downey won $75,000 draining a half-court shot — and he got to celebrate with Anthony Davis.

Murry’s celebration is the best part — with Anthony Davis coming out to celebrate with him (and seeming a little shocked by the hug).

One other big shot fell at this game, but Lakers’ fans didn’t like it as much — Pacers’ rookie Andrew Nembhard drained a game-winning 3-pointer as time expired.