Joel Embiid goes scoreless for first time in NBA career

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It took a while for Raptors coach Nick Nurse to come around to this last May when the Raptors and 76ers met in the Eastern Conference Finals, but he didn’t forget the lesson:

Match Marc Gasol’s minutes up to Joel Embiid’s.

At age 34, Gasol has lost a step, but the man knows how to play the game. Monday night against Embiid, Gasol was in the right position, was physical, and kept Embiid in check — Embiid went scoreless for the first time in his career shooting 0-of-11 from the floor.

With that, Toronto came away with the 101-96 win. Just like last May, but without the ball bouncing four times on the rim.

It wasn’t all Gasol. Embiid was 0-of-3 at the free-throw line, for example. Also, this was the Sixers’ fourth game in six nights, and it showed, it wasn’t just Embiid’s legs that looked a little tired.

Just don’t underestimate how the Spaniard forced Embiid into more midrange shots, where he was 0-of-6. Gasol can keep Embiid from getting to where he wants on the floor, and the Toronto center also doesn’t foul much.

Philly wanted some revenge for last season’s playoff exit. Plus, on paper, this was a game they thought they could get — Kawhi Leonard obviously isn’t in Raptors colors anymore, and Kyle Lowry was out (fractured left thumb).

Toronto has a new superstar in Pascal Siakam and he dropped 25 on Philly, doing a great job attacking mismatches and passing out of the double-teams when they came. Fred Van Vleet played brilliantly and had 24 points, while O.G. Anunoby played fantastic defense all night. The Raptors are not 12-4 on accident, this is a very good team.

And one that still gives the Sixers, and Joel Embiid, some trouble.

Report: Kevin Love wants Cavaliers to trade him to contender

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In the last few months, Kevin Love‘s mood on the Cavaliers has shifted from “I do want to be here. I always have” to “Let the chips fall where they may” to…

Shams Charania of The Athletic:

Cavaliers forward Kevin Love prefers a move to a contending team, league sources tell The Athletic.

Of course, Love prefers to play for a contender. Nearly every veteran on a losing team does.

The big question: How hard is Love willing to push?

This report looks like a big step. It doesn’t rise to the level of a trade request, but if Love is leaking his preference, that puts a little more pressure on the Cavs.

They appear willing to explore the market. Finding a trade partner won’t be easy, though.

Love has a $28,942,830 salary this season, and he’s due $91,459,342 over the next three years. The 31-year-old looks past his prime. His defense becomes particularly exploitable deep in the playoffs.

Still, he’s a good player who could help many teams. It’s just unclear whether anyone – given Love’s contract and age – will surrender enough assets to tempt Cleveland. The Cavaliers seem to like having someone with Love’s star reputation.

Perhaps, Love can change that by signaling his displeasure.

Love should have seen this situation coming when he signed his big extension (and maybe he did). The Cavaliers were clearly entering a rebuild with LeBron James gone. Love just felt comfortable in Cleveland, and re-upping was the only way to secure so much money. He might have figured he could always push for a trade later.

That’s the road he appears headed down, though I also believe he’d be content staying with the Cavs – if necessary. And that could always change quickly.

LeBron James gets fourth foul with 2:27 left in first half, goes straight to locker room (video)

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LeBron James plays by his own rules.

Especially when his team is winning, and the Lakers won big over the Timberwolves last night.

That’s why LeBron didn’t face questions about going straight to the locker room after picking up his fourth foul with 2:27 left in the second quarter. He was obviously going to sit the rest of the half. But practically every other player would have sat on the bench, barring extraneous issues.

Maybe LeBron had a good reason to go to the locker room. Maybe not. He played 16 minutes in the second half, scoring 16 points and dishing six assists.

I believe with many other players – especially, say, Kyrie Irving – we would’ve used this as an example of poor leadership and selfishness. Even LeBron faced legitimate criticism for not properly supporting his teammates last season.

But winning masks many problems.

This will only become an issue if LeBron continues to do things like this (again, if he weren’t hurt or something like that) and the Lakers start stumbling.

Chris Paul tells ref to give Carmelo Anthony technical foul, ref calls it (video)

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Chris Paul is on a snitching streak.

He got Jordan Bell called for delay of game because of an untucked jersey, giving the Thunder a crucial free throw in a win over the Timberwolves. Even after officials got retribution by calling Paul for a delay of game during Oklahoma City’s win over the Trail Blazers, he didn’t let up.

Unhappy about an uncalled foul, Carmelo Anthony clapped at an official – a letter-of-the-law violation, but one that often goes unpunished. Paul called for a technical foul, and the referee whistled it.

I’m sure the official would claim he made the decision independent of Paul’s gesturing. That may or may not be true. But this is more about Paul, the NBA’s foremost tattletale, even calling for the penalty.

And Paul and Anthony are friends!

Thunder called for two delay of game penalties, Chris Paul knows it’s retribution

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It’s pretty common practice around the league for players to tuck in their jerseys as they run onto the court, although technically it’s supposed to happen before they step onto the hardwood.

Friday night, Chris Paul called out Minnesota’s Jordan Bell on that letter-of-the-law rule, got his team a technical foul, hit the free throw, and that opened the door for the Thunder to force overtime and beat the Timberwolves.

Sunday night, the bill came due.

Referees called two letter-of-the-law delay-of-game penalties on the Thunder, resulting in a free throw for Portland. The second occurred as Thunder players took off their sweats as they checked into the game, briefly stepping on the court while wearing said sweats. Another common practice that is technically a penalty.

Chris Paul knew what was going on.

They were on SportsCenter.

CP3 brought this on himself, he wanted to be a stickler for the letter of the law. However, Paul’s Thunder team got the win in Minnesota because he knew the rules, and the Thunder went on to beat the Trail Blazers despite the delay of game calls. CP3 got the wins, and that’s all he cares about.