Eric Freeman

  • Grizzlies thump Mavs on road, think this is their year

    Eric Freeman at Ball Don't Lie 1 hr ago

    The Memphis Grizzlies entered this season as an established Western Conference playoff team, albeit one that perhaps had reached its ceiling. There are worse fates than winning 50-plus games and maybe a playoff series every year, but there is also something unfortunate about succeeding in so many ways and failing to reach the ultimate prize. If the Grizzlies were lucky enough to be able to depend on their grit-and-grind identity, then they also sometimes appeared hemmed in by it.

    The 2014-15 team is a different squad. With a healthy Marc Gasol leading the way, Memphis has emerged as a bona fide offensive force, with a points-per-possession ranking that's actually better at that end of the floor (10th) than on defense (11th). At second in the loaded West, they are a legitimate championship contender.

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    Gasol added 15 points and six assists while serving more as a facilitator in Conley's absence.

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  • Old Man Paul Pierce blames 'computers' for less NBA trash talk

    Eric Freeman at Ball Don't Lie 4 hrs ago

    At 37 years old, Washington Wizards wing Paul Pierce is one of the oldest and most experienced players in the NBA. He has seen several eras of the league over his career, from the end of Michael Jordan's dominance to the peak of the Kobe-Shaq Lakers to his own Celtics' period of contention and beyond. It's safe to say that he's learned a lot over his 17 seasons and can supply the wisdom to prove it.

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    Pierce's reason why next generation of players don't trash talk like he and Kobe: "Computers. They play NBA2K instead of going to the park"

    We're pretty sure Pierce then left the interview area to play dominoes in the park with teammate Andre Miller.

    They were amazing, of course, and we should respect and honor them for their accomplishments. (Pierce, to his credit, is still contributing for one of the East's few genuinely impressive teams.) But that doesn't have to mean we have to agree with them. They're just as capable of being wrong as weaklings like me who haven't played since ninth grade.

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  • LaVine, Antetokounmpo headline 2015 Sprite Slam Dunk field

    Eric Freeman at Ball Don't Lie 5 hrs ago

    The four-man field for NBA All-Star Saturday's marquee event has been set. As announced on NBA TV Tuesday night, the Sprite Slam Dunk will feature Minnesota Timberwolves rookie guard Zach LaVine, Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, Orlando Magic guard Victor Oladipo, and Brooklyn Nets big man Mason Plumlee. Yahoo's own Adrian Wojnarowski reported last Wednesday that this group would participate in the event, which will cap the Valentine's Day festivities at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

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    None of the four have ever competed in an NBA dunk contest, so we will see a first-time champion. Below, check out dunk highlight clips of all four participants, along with some brief analysis of their chances at grabbing the title.

    Zach LaVine

    Giannis Antetokounmpo

    Victor Oladipo

    Mason Plumlee

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  • Jamal Crawford's huge 4th quarter leads Clips to win

    Eric Freeman at Ball Don't Lie 23 hrs ago

    Los Angeles Clippers reserve scorer Jamal Crawford came into Monday night's home game vs. the Denver Nuggets in a poor run of form. Crawford hadn't shot 50 percent or better from the field since January 10 (for seven consecutive games), an issue for a player known for his ability to heat up quickly. The Clippers had performed well over that stretch (winning five of seven), but they had missed production from their best bench scorer.

    After the Nuggets game, Crawford's run of sub-50-percent-shooting games sits at eight in a row. But it's safe to say that no one cares after a fourth quarter performance that essentially won his team the game. With 21 of his 23 points in the final period, Crawford helped the Clippers overcome a 10-point deficit and extended their winning streak to five straight wins.

    Yet Crawford's most impressive play of the night was an assist, not a basket. With 1:23 remaining and the score tied at 94-94, he saved a risky pass from Chris Paul with a behind-the-back dish right to Matt Barnes for an easy lay-in:

    Maybe Jordan will record an album if Crawford does something similar the next time out.

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  • DeAndre Jordan follows up 3 straight blocks with a reverse alley-oop

    Eric Freeman at Ball Don't Lie 23 hrs ago

    Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan is known as one of the NBA's surest highlight producers, a guy who will put up at least a few big-time dunks every month. It's part of his reputation now, to the point where each individual play doesn't really come as a surprise even as it wows crowds.

    Sometimes, though, Jordan comes up with enough high-impact plays in a short period of time to remind us all that he can still be totally overwhelming. From the 1:00 to 0:21 marks of the second quarter, the big man had blocks on three straight shots and a reverse dunk on an alley-oop at the other end. Take a look at the full sequence here:

    If you're scoring at home, that's a block of Ty Lawson, a block of Kenneth Faried on the rebound, a Blake Griffin dunk to break up our all-DeAndre-all-the-time show, a block of Wilson Chandler on the next Nuggets possession, and a reverse dunk off a lob from Griffin. Not too shabby.

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  • Byron Scott really wants Lakers rookies to take care of their fake babies

    Eric Freeman at Ball Don't Lie 1 day ago

    Professional sports teams have evolved in many ways, from how teams manage player rest to the introduction of new strategies and tactics on the field of play. In one area, though, teams and athletes have stayed decidedly old-fashioned — the hazing and shaming of rookies in a public forum. Each individual team settles on its own method of embarrassment, but it's a safe bet that everyone will do something to demean rookies. Shame has never been so hilarious!

    The Los Angeles Lakers have gotten in on the act this season, forcing rookies to push children's baby dolls around in strollers. Take a look at Tarik Black and Jordan Clarkson taking care of their fake offspring here:

    Rookie Duties pic.twitter.com/1z4SEgScl0

    In isolation, this hazing is not especially notable — plenty of teams will do similar things over the course of the season. What makes the Lakers different is that head coach Byron Scott, not a veteran player, seems to be the driving force behind the efforts. From Kurt Helin for ProBasketballTalk:

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  • Scott Brooks sometimes has the Thunder practice at the wrong positions

    Eric Freeman at Ball Don't Lie 1 day ago

    Oklahoma City Thunder head coach Scott Brooks has been a figure of some debate during his time with the team, having led a very young squad from the lottery to the NBA Finals and also suffering criticism for an often stagnant offense that doesn't amplify the strengths of a very talented core. With the Thunder currently in 10th in the Western Conference and Kevin Durant set to become a free agent in the summer of 2016, Brooks is under much more pressure than usual to succeed. His job could be in the balance.

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    It's a bit interesting, then, that he's taking an atypical approach in the team's practices. On occasion, Brooks has players run through plays in the wrong positions. From Jared Zwerling of Bleacher Report:

    In other words, the problem here is a common one — the difficulty of implementing a sound idea that it becomes more than just an idea. Unfortunately for Brooks, an NBA coach needs to do both.

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  • Klay Thompson sets NBA record with 37 points in a quarter

    Eric Freeman at Ball Don't Lie 4 days ago

    The Western Conference is full of deserving All-Star guard candidates, to the point where many terrific players will be left off the list through no fault of their own. Golden State Warriors shooting guard Klay Thompson, averaging 21.9 ppg for the NBA's best team, is one of those guys. If he doesn't make it with that resume, then you know the conference is stacked.

    You can now forget about that possibility. In one quarter of Friday night's game against the Sacramento Kings, Thompson ensured that he will end up in the All-Star Game. Because he scored 37 points in the third quarter to set an NBA record.

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    Yes, you read that correctly. After the Kings opened the half on a 7-0 run to take a 58-56 lead, Thompson redefined "on fire" by hitting all 13 of his field-goal attempts, including nine three-pointers. Perhaps most remarkably, Thompson set the mark by shooting only two free throws to finish off his scoring with four seconds remaining in the period. Everyone knew he was getting the ball and they just couldn't stop him. The video does not lie:

  • James Harden drains buzzer-beater winner, Rockets hold off Suns

    Eric Freeman at Ball Don't Lie 4 days ago

    The Houston Rockets rested on the verge of blowing a big fourth-quarter lead to the host Phoenix Suns on Friday night. Then the NBA's leading scorer reminded everyone of his genius.

    With a little more than six minutes remaining in regulation, the Rockets led the Suns 102-86, a sizable margin that appeared very difficult to surmount given the momentum and state of the game. All Phoenix did to respond was reel off 14-4 run over more than 3 1/2 minutes to make it a contest again, ultimately tying the game up on an old-fashioned three-point-play lay-up from forward Markieff Morris with just 16 seconds remaining.

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    The Rockets had one possession to grab back a win and avoid what projected as a trying overtime. Not surprisingly, they gave the ball to James Harden in isolation against P.J. Tucker. The resulting play was downright filthy:

    Before his buzzer-beater, Harden had an arguably more impressive highlight (out of context, at least) when he sent Eric Bledsoe sprawling with a Eurostep in transition:

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  • Kent Bazemore is dunked-on and dunker as Hawks set franchise-record win streak

    Eric Freeman at Ball Don't Lie 4 days ago

    Pretty much everything is going right for the Atlanta Hawks these days. The Eastern Conference leaders entered Friday night's home game vs. the Oklahoma City Thunder with a 14-game winning streak, matching a franchise record set during the 1993-94 season. Something special is happening with this team, and it's worth appreciating it for as long as it lasts.

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    Things are going so well, in fact, that it's easy to assume that the team will bounce back from any in-game embarrassment with a run or highlight of their own. That's exactly what happened to reserve guard Kent Bazemore in the second quarter on Friday. In the midst of an uncharacteristically ineffective offensive performance for Atlanta, Bazemore attempted to catch a surging Kevin Durant as the reigning MVP dribbled up the court in transition. All that hustle just allowed him to end up on the wrong end of a posterization:

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