Blake Griffin: DeMarcus Cousins should be an All-Star


DeMarcus Cousins has had his run-ins with one of the Clippers’ stars, Chris Paul.

But the Clippers’ other star has plenty of good things to say about the Kings center.

Blake Griffin, via James Ham of Cowbell Kingdom:

“Absolutely,” forward Blake Griffin told Cowbell Kingdom when asked if Cousins is an All-Star.  “The way he’s played is incredible and you can’t deny his production, his numbers.  You saw what happened when he wasn’t playing, but I say this every year – there are guys that deserve to play in the All-Star game that unfortunately don’t get to play in the All-Star game.”

I agree with Griffin.

With my criteria for selecting All-Stars, I’d definitely rate Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis and Marc Gasol ahead of Cousins. I could go either way on Griffin and Tim Duncan. With each conference getting six to eight frontcourt players, that still leaves Cousins an All-Star.

Cousins played like an MVP candidate last season, and he’s even better this year. He’s averaging 24.0 points, 12.4 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.6 blocks and 1.3 steals per game – marks hit over a full season by only Kevin Garnett, Hakeem Olajuwon, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bob McAdoo. Cousins’ PER, 26.2, ranks sixth in the NBA.

Sure, his effort is sometimes questionable and his his team has struggled, especially since the Kings fired Michael Malone. And Cousins doesn’t care about making it.

But if the coaches are intent on rewarding the best players, Cousins should be an All-Star.

NBA debuts ‘Barrier Breakers’ spot in celebration of MLK Day and Black History Month (VIDEO)

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The NBA has traditionally celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. day in a big way, and this year is no exception.

Monday’s holiday will feature a full slate of games — 12 in total, four of which will be nationally televised.

The league will debut its “Barrier Breakers” television spot, which can be seen in the clip above.

The clip includes a wide range of African-Americans and notable barrier breakers throughout the history of the sport including (in order of appearance): Chuck Cooper, Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, Oscar Robertson, Jerry West, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Yao Ming, Violet Palmer, Michael Jordan, Jason Collins, Kevin Durant, Steve Nash, Dirk Nowitzki, Hamed Haddadi, Pau Gasol, Serge Ibaka, Chris Paul and Blake Griffin. Featured teams include: Chicago Bulls, Houston Rockets, Boston Celtics and San Antonio Spurs.

It’s not about style points, Cavaliers get needed win vs. Clippers


LOS ANGELES — Chemistry is a three game winning streak.

That’s not Cavaliers’ coach David Blatt’s phrasing but that’s what he’s been hinting at lately — the defense and chemistry issues making headlines around the Cavaliers are a lot easier to discuss and fix after a team has racked up a few wins.

Like the ones the Cavaliers got the last two days.

After an entertaining win over the Lakers on Thursday, the Cavaliers leaned on the hot hands of stars Kyrie Irving (37 points on 12-of-18 shooting) and LeBron James (32 points) to beat the Clippers in a shootout 126-121 Friday night at Staples Center. That improves the Cavaliers to 21-20 on the season, back above .500.

We could pick apart how the Cavaliers played spotty defense and gave up 117.4 points per 100 possessions, how they turned the ball over 20 times (LeBron had nine), how they reverted to isolation, hero ball through much of the fourth quarter, but that misses the point. The Cavaliers aren’t in this for style points, they just needed wins and the Cavs got one against a good team Friday.

“This is a great step in the direction we’re trying to go,” LeBron said. “We’ve had some struggles, but I’m happy I’m able to go out and play at a high level to help our team win.”

The Cavaliers went 3-2 on a recent road trip, but Blatt saw it as better than that.

“There’s nothing I particularly like about losing, but in four of the five games we played pretty well,” Blatt said.

LeBron was doing LeBron things — he hit a key three with Matt Barnes almost in his jersey, for one, and he defended Chris Paul at times down the stretch — but it was Irving that was the difference in this one. With Kevin Love out resting a sore back Irving was making plays.

“I thought he made big plays under duress,” Blatt said of Irving, who hit 10-of-15 contested shots in the game. “It wasn’t like it was easy.”

With Love out Tristan Thompson stepped up with 24 points. The Cavaliers even played stretches of good defense in this one (as did the Clippers), but there was a lot of offensive firepower on the court Friday and it showed.

The Clippers were led by 34 points and 10 rebounds from Blake Griffin.

“We’ve got to take this momentum and get some wins,” Irving said.

“It’s easy for people to see the warts, to criticize…” Blatt said before listing the major injuries that the team has faced, including LeBron. “We went through some tough times but we’re staying together. And fighting.”

And picking up some needed wins.

Five Things We Learned in NBA Wednesday: The Clippers top six are good. After that….


If you watch closely every night in the NBA you can learn a little something. We know you are busy and can’t keep up with every game, so we’re here to help with those lessons from another night in the Association. Here’s what you missed while worrying about what too much wealth would do to your soul….

The Clippers’ top six is good enough to beat Portland. Right now, if Doc Rivers wants to win a big game, he has to lean on the top six guys in his rotation and not much else — that’s what happened in the Clippers win against Portland Wednesday. When it was just the Clippers’ starting five — Chris Paul, J.J. Redick, Matt Barnes, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan — or when Jamal Crawford subbed in for Redick the Clippers were +13. They won by 6. This trend isn’t new — on the season the Clippers starting five is +15.6 per 48 minutes, sub Crawford in for Redick and it’s +21.7. Once you get past the top six on the Clippers roster it just drops off a cliff. Spencer Hawes looked like a great addition on paper but his shot has gone AWOL. Nobody else is stepping up, and Doc Rivers is busy on the phone lines trying to find depth (Austin Rivers is not the answer) but the Clippers don’t have the kind of assets that will likely net much in return. So it’s the top six and pray for the Clippers, but that was enough as they knocked down their midrange shots and got the win in Portland Wednesday.

It’s not just a Bulls slump, the Wizards are legit. The playoffs are all about match ups and if the Bulls draw the Wizards this postseason they should be concerned. Washington beat Chicago 105-99 Wednesday. It’s because the Wizards have the size and athleticism to match up with the Bulls. Nene is an underrated player and his physical play frustrated Pau Gasol. Nobody was going to slow Derrick Rose in the first half (20 points on 8-of-10 shooting) but John Wall did a good job on him in the second half and scored 10 points in the fourth quarter. Paul Pierce gives Washington more versatility on offense and he had 22 in this one. Remember this, the Wizards have the seventh most efficient defense in the NBA and third in the East. The Wizards are a team that — so long as Nene is healthy the Wizards are going to be a tough out in the East.

After the game, Marcin Gortat had the tweet of the night.

DeMar DeRozan is back. Fear the Raptors. Rust? What rust? DeMar DeRozan returned to the Raptors lineup after missing 21 games and fit in smoothly with 20 points on 9-of-14 shooting in a win over Philly. When the Raptors came out flat to start the third quarter he made the sits so the Raptors did not have a repeat of their come-from-ahead loss to Detroit. Toronto is just a far more dangerous team with DeRozan back.

Elfrid Payton and Victor Oladipo could develop into something interesting in Orlando. It’s games like Wednesday night, when the Magic beat the Houston Rockets, that you think this backcourt in Orlando really could work out. Payton and Oladipo outplayed Patrick Beverley and James Harden down the stretch. Payton is a terrible jump shooter (and will never be great, maybe someday with a lot of work he could be an average shooter) but he attacks the rim well and shows a real comfort level just running the offense, plus he’s going to be a good defender. Oladipo on the other hand can shoot and more than that just flat-out score — he had 32 points on 12-of-19 shooting (plus six rebounds and assists). The Magic have scored better than 120 in consecutive games now and this is a team that is starting to look like it’s finding an identity.

The Atlanta Hawks won again. Yawn. I’m not sure what we really learned here — that the Hawks are really good? We knew that. That they are better than the Celtics? We knew that, too. But this win makes it 10 in a row for Atlanta and that needs to be recognized. Maybe the most interesting question about them right now is who makes the All-Star team from the Hawks? You can make a case for Jeff Teague, Paul Millsap and Al Horford, but the reality is one, maybe two, make the roster (and they will be voted in by the coaches). Maybe the only sure thing for the Hawks is that Mike Budenholzer will coach the team because the Hawks are going to be on top of the Eastern standings for a little while.

LeBron James retains top spot on NBA’s most popular jerseys list


The NBA released its latest list of most popular jerseys, based on sales from October through December of 2014.

Not surprisingly, LeBron James, after returning to play for the Cavaliers, remained at the top of the list.

It’s the fifth consecutive time that James has topped jersey sales, but we had a newcomer claim the second spot.

Stephen Curry went from seventh to second, while Damian Lillard and Anthony Davis appeared on the list for the very first time.

The complete list, via official release:

1.     LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers

2.     Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors

3.     Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder

4.     Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers

5.     Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls

6.     Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers

7.     Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks

8.     Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs

9.     Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat

10.  Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers

11.  Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers

12.  Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks

13.  Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers

14.  James Harden, Houston Rockets

15.  Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans

The league also ranked the top 10 teams in terms of overall merchandise sales. The Lakers remain well ahead of the Clippers in the battle of Los Angeles, despite the respective fortunes of the franchises. And the Nets, despite playing in the New York market, fell out of the top 10 for the first time since moving to Brooklyn in 2012.

1.      Cleveland Cavaliers

2.      Chicago Bulls

3.      Golden State Warriors

4.      Los Angeles Lakers

5.      San Antonio Spurs

6.      Oklahoma City Thunder

7.      New York Knicks

8.      Miami Heat

9.      Boston Celtics

10.  Los Angeles Clippers