LeBron Unveils New Black Mask

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After breaking his nose against the Oklahoma City Thunder a few days ago, King James returns tonight against the New York Knicks with a black protective mask. His new look has already sparked plenty of attention and will likely have social outlets such as Twitter going nuts.

James seems to have made the mask a fashion statement but it’s more important to see how he’ll perform with the new look. He’s worn a protective mask before during his days in Cleveland and continued his dominance on the floor. With an early 15 points heading into halftime, it looks like LBJ hasn’t lost a step.

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2014 NBA Dunk Contest Lineup Revealed

Photo Credit: Getty Images (Issac Balizon)

Photo Credit: Getty Images (Issac Balizon)

The world has been begging for the NBA’s Dunk Contest to be relevant once again. While many of the game’s top superstars still remain on the outskirts of the contest, not many people can argue the event is not on the uprise. This year’s batch of players–which includes Indiana Pacers superstar Paul George–has become one of the more entertaining groups  since the 2008 season, when Dwight Howard’s “Superman” dunk stole the show. Washington’s John Wall and Portland’s Damian Lillard, both All-Stars for the first time, will take part in 2014. Terrence Ross of the Toronto Raptors is back to defend his throne. Here is a complete list of the participants:

  • Paul George, Indiana Pacers
  • John Wall, Washington Wizards
  • Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers
  • Terrence Ross: Toronto Raptors
  • Harrison Barnes, Golden State Warriors
  • Ben McLemore, Sacramento Kings

The 2014 NBA Dunk Contest will also have a new set of rules when it is held on February 16.

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Baseline to Baseline – 1/17/14

A random, sporadic column spitting out opinions, reactions and news surrounding the NBA.

Photo Credit: USA Today Sports (Daniel Shirey)

Photo Credit: USA Today Sports (Daniel Shirey)

Pacers rout Knicks to keep league’s best record.
  • New York (15-24) was winners of six of their last nine games heading into Thursday’s tilt with Indiana (31-7), but a career-day from Lance Stephenson showed why the Pacers have been the class of the Eastern Conference all season. Stephenson recorded 28 points (10-of-17 shooting), four rebounds and four assists, while Paul George added 25 for the league’s top team in Thursday night’s 117-89 win. Carmelo Anthony’s 28 wasn’t enough for the Knicks, who remain on the outskirts of the current Eastern Conference playoff teams.
Rondo set to return for Celtics on Friday.
  • Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo hasn’t see live game action in nearly a year since tearing his ACL last January. But the four-time All-Star is set to return on Friday night when the Celtics host the Lakers to begin his comeback. He won’t play starters minutes right away, as the C’s will look to ease Rondo back into his normal role as primary ball-handler. He sent out the following tweet on Monday night, suggesting his return from surgery nearly a year ago:

Rajon Rondo tweet

Rockets score 73 in first half, but Thunder rally behind Durant’s 36.
  • After Houston shot the lights out in the first half on the way to a team-high for points in a half with 73, the Rockets couldn’t get anything to drop in the final 24 minutes. The OKC defense held the Rockets to 19 second-half points, including nine in the fourth quarter, to defeat Houston on its home court, 104-92. Compared to hitting 12 3-pointers in the first half, the Rockets failed to make one in the second half. The Thunder had three players finish with 20 points or more, led by Kevin Durant’s 36 points and seven assists. Meanwhile, Terrence Jones and James Harden each finished with 16 for the Rockets.
Categories: Boston Celtics, Houston Rockets, Indiana Pacers, New York Knicks, Oklahoma City Thunder | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

LeBron skies over Millsap for nasty slam

It’s becoming a very common thing for LBJ nowadays. Days after posterizing Ben McLemore of the Sacramento Kings, James had another one of his signature flushes. The King finished with 38 points (16-of-28), eight rebounds, six assists and two steals in a 121-119 overtime win.

YouTube Credit: G4NBAVideos

Which dunk do you think was better?

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Kobe Bryant Set to Return Sunday

(Photo Credit: AP Photo)

The Lakers will have Kobe Bryant returning to the lineup this upcoming Sunday against the Toronto Raptors. The 35-year-old Bryant is coming back from tearing his left Achilles tendon eight months ago. Los Angeles currently has a record of 9-9 to start off the season.

The team also had their two-time MVP, Steve Nash suffer an injury six games into the season, leaving players such as Pau Gasol, Xavier Henry and Steve Blake to carry the load. But everything should change on Sunday night when Bryant returns to kick-start the team’s offense.

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Derrick Rose Will Once Again Need Surgery

(Photo Credit: AP Photo)

Bulls’ star guard, Derrick Rose tore his right meniscus during Chicago’s meeting against Portland this past Friday. The non-contact injury will once again sideline Rose as he preps for surgery and weeks of rehab.

Just last week the Bulls were riding a five-game winning streak and looked to distance themselves from other teams in the division with their success. Rose averaged 15.9 ppg., 4.3 apg., 3.2 rpg. during his first ten games of the season.

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Spencer Hawes Having a Breakout Year

(Photo Credit: AP Photo)

Tonight the Sixers were down by three points to the Milwaukee Bucks with :03 left to play in the fourth quarter. Philadelphia’s head coach Brett Brown didn’t hesitate to draw the three-point play for the city’s seven-foot center, Spencer Hawes. Moments later, Hawes caught the inbound pass before turning around for a fall-away three-pointer that somehow went in and sent the game to overtime. 

Philadelphia ultimately pulled away with the win during overtime, with Hawes closing the night with 25 points and 12 rebounds. Last year the 25-year-old center averaged 11 points and 7 rebounds, while this season he’s putting up 16 and 10 each night.

Hawes’ game has developed well while playing in Philly. His knack for staying away from the paint on offense has grown to become a problem for some defenses with his outside shot beginning to become more consistent than ever. This season he’s shooting a career-high of 52% from the field, while also averaging at least 1.8 three-pointers made per game. His impressive numbers will have him in the running for the Most Improved Player Award, but more importantly a chance to become one of Philadelphia’s main threats during these tough rebuilding years the Sixers are undergoing.

Along with Hawes’ hot start, the Sixers have also seen players such as Michael Carter-Williams, Evan Turner and Thaddeus Young all do their part to keep the team from having a miserable season. Philadelphia’s young team has started off the season with a record of 6-8 with big wins against Miami, Chicago and Houston.

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Bulls go for sixth straight win

Photo Credit: AP (Kamil Krzaczynski)

Photo Credit: AP (Kamil Krzaczynski)

Remember that 1-3 start to the season for Chicago? Well, it seems that the Bulls have moved past that slow start.

Now winners of five straight games—including a 110-94 victory over Indiana on Saturday that gave the Pacers their first loss—the Bulls have slid into second place in the Central Division and third place in the Eastern Conference.

While Derrick Rose had his best game of the season against Indiana—20 points, four assists and three rebounds—the former MVP hasn’t been able to breakthrough in the Bulls’ first nine games. He’s averaging 15 points, 4.5 assists and 2.9 rebounds per game, all career-lows. He’s also shooting a subpar 34.4% from the field, well below his career-mark of 46.1%. Let’s not rule Rose out just yet, however, as the season is just getting underway.

It’s been the Bulls’ defense, their staple since Tom Thibodeau took over as head coach, that has propelled the Bulls back to the top of the East. The Bulls are allowing a mere 89 points per game (which is second-best in the NBA), and are averaging 45.9 rebounds per game (the fourth best mark in the league).

A date against the Denver Nuggets (4-6) is the only thing standing between the Bulls and their sixth straight win. They’ll have to do it on the road, however, and overcome one of the the league’s better home-court advantages. Tipoff is slated for 10:30 p.m. on TNT.

Categories: Chicago Bulls, Sports Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Spurs hold best record in Western Conference

We’ve heard this story before. Year after year, the aging of the Spurs’ roster is questioned on whether they can put together another successful season.

Although it seems evident that the Spurs’ roster–which is the fifth oldest in the NBA, and includes a 37-year old Tim Duncan, a 36-year old Manu Ginobli, and a 31-year old Tony Parker–will catch up to them sooner rather than later, that hasn’t been the case. In fact, the Spurs are here to remind us they’re not going anywhere.

Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports (Chris Humphreys)

Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports (Chris Humphreys)

The Spurs have raced out to a 7-1 record through eight games, which is tops in the Western Conference. The Indiana Pacers, now stationed at 8-0 in the Eastern Conference, are the only team in the NBA with a better winning percentage.

Mixed with the team’s veteran leadership is a young nucleus of talented role players that have thrived in head coach Greg Popovich’s schemes. Kawhi Leonard (22 years old) is quickly becoming one of the team’s top scoring threats, while Danny Green (26 years old) continues his spectacular three-point shooting at 47.2% on the season. Patrick Mills (25 years old) and Tiago Splitter (28 years old) have proved to become reliable backups behind Parker and Duncan.

Popovich is limiting Duncan’s minutes early in the season in hopes of a lengthy playoff push. Duncan has already missed two of the Spurs’ eight games, and is playing 27.8 minutes per game, the lowest average of his 17-year career. Still, Duncan remains a reliable piece to the puzzle, averaging 13.3 points and 6.7 rebounds per game.

The main piece of the Spurs’ lineup is without a doubt Parker. He’s putting up All-Star numbers once again, averaging 18.4 points and 6.9 assists per game. He’s what makes the Spurs’ offense, which is averaging 100.4 points per game, run as smooth as possible. The Spurs will go as far as Parker takes them.

Over the past 14 seasons, 50-win seasons have been the benchmark for the Spurs. Since the 1994-95 season when the Spurs went 62-20, San Antonio has won 50 or more games in every season, including a 63-19 mark in 2006. They’ve been to the playoffs in every season since the 1998 campaign, and have failed to earn a postseason appearance just five times in franchise history. It’s still early in 2014, but another 50-win season and playoff appearance is evident.

With 74 games remaining, there’s plenty of time that the Spurs’ roster could catch up to them. But if we’ve learned anything in recent years, don’t expect this Spurs squad to fall much from their current spot as the West’s best team.

Categories: San Antonio Spurs, Sports Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lakers’ Nash to see doctor about back

Photo Credit: Getty Images (Frederic J. Brown)

Photo Credit: Getty Images (Frederic J. Brown)

Los Angeles Lakers point guard Steve Nash left during the second quarter of Sunday night’s 113-90 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves due to back pains. Nash has missed two out of the Lakers’ eight games already, and will have a visit with Dr. Robert Watkins on Monday in regards to the injury.

Categories: Los Angeles Lakers | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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