Eric Freeman

  • D'Angelo Russell took a LeBron James pass where it hurts

    Eric Freeman at Ball Don't Lie 11 hrs ago

    Basketball is not typically called a contact sport, but it still carries the possibility of bodily harm. It's easy to get an elbow to the face in the post or any number of knocks during a loose ball. There are many occupational hazards in the NBA.

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    For instance, sometimes LeBron James will fire a pass right into an opponent's nether regions:

    Oof. That's Los Angeles Lakers rookie guard D'Angelo Russell on the receiving end of this errant pass late in the third quarter. Russell fell to the floor and was helped off the court, but he did return to finish with 15 points in his 28 minutes. The Lakers fell to LeBron's Cleveland Cavaliers 120-111.

    Baxter Holmes of ESPN.com quoted several Lakers about the rough moment after the game:

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  • Kawhi's last-second winner completes Spurs' comeback vs. Magic

    Eric Freeman at Ball Don't Lie 13 hrs ago

    San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard has often been described as a different kind of superstar, a guy who dominates with league-best defense and smart decision-making on the offensive side. These ideas are borne out by the stats — Leonard averages an impressive 20.0 ppg but is most easily lauded for his efficient shooting percentages.

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    There's a lot of truth to this opinion, but in many ways it's just as reductive as the idea that volume shooters lack a sophisticated understanding of the game. Because Kawhi showed Wednesday night that he's perfectly capable of taking the ball with the game on the line and breaking down a defender one-on-one.

    With the Spurs tied 96-96 with the Orlando Magic with only 13 seconds remaining in regulation, Gregg Popovich called one of his trademark excellent out-of-bounds plays — he gave the ball to his best player and let him take a game-winning shot over the defending Aaron Gordon. Take a look:

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  • Markieff Morris and Archie Goodwin tussled on the Suns bench

    Eric Freeman at Ball Don't Lie 15 hrs ago

    It has been a rough season for the Phoenix Suns, who came into the campaign with hopes of challenging for a playoff spot and have instead developed into one of the most negative stories of the season. They fired head coach Jeff Hornacek last Monday, have had several important players succumb to injury, and figure to spend the next few months doing their best to end up with a top-three draft pick. Interim head coach Earl Watson will hope to prove himself so he can become a candidate for the full-time job, but his main job may be nothing more than making sure things don't get any worse than they are right now.

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    Morris, Goodwin, and Watson all downplayed the incident after the game. From Paul Coro for the Arizona Republic:

  • Bucks and Celtics swap awful fouls in last second in rare finish

    Eric Freeman at Ball Don't Lie 1 day ago

    The ability to stay calm and collected in big moments is considered one of the greatest virtues an NBA athlete can possess. Members of the Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics will wonder exactly what caused them to lose their composure in the final second of Tuesday night's game at the GMO Harris Bradley Center.

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    Trailing 93-74 after a dominant third quarter for the Bucks, the Celtics steadily erased that deficit to tie it at 109-109 with 23 seconds left in regulation. Milwaukee countered with a Greg Monroe bucket with exactly one second on the clock, leaving Boston with an unlikely attempt at winning or forcing overtime on the final possession.

    They attempted to get the ball to Kelly Olynyk at the rim, but the pass appeared a bit high at first glance. Fortunately for the Celtics, Jerryd Bayless decided to push Olynyk to send him to the line for two shots:

    Bradley tried to explain himself after the game. From Rich Rovito for the Associated Press:

  • Warriors turn it on late, surge past impressive Rockets

    Eric Freeman at Ball Don't Lie 1 day ago

    The Golden State Warriors have been so impressive this season that it's now standard practice to praise playoff teams for giving them any challenge whatsoever. For instance, the Oklahoma City Thunder are now identified as the team most likely to beat the defending champions in a playoff series because they played them reasonably well until crunch-time excellence guided the Warriors to an eight-point win on Saturday. Under most any circumstances, Golden State would have come out of that game as the team everyone talked about. But their dominance demands that we grade their opponents on a curve.

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    As with so many Warriors opponents, though, they couldn't do it for all four quarters. Golden State tied it back up on an Andre Iguodala three-pointer late in the third and scored the first eight points of the fourth for a game-changing 11-0 run. Harrison Barnes kept the lead strong with 17 fourth-quarter points (of 19 total) to help the Warriors close out the 123-110 win. Houston managed only 17 points in the quarter.

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  • Hood forces OT, Hayward beats buzzer for big Jazz win over Mavs

    Eric Freeman at Ball Don't Lie 1 day ago

    Although they have not garnered much attention, the Utah Jazz have been one of the NBA's hottest teams over the past few weeks. They came into Tuesday night's road game at the Dallas Mavericks having won six in a row, good enough to rise to .500 at 25-25. Another victory would give them more wins than losses for the first time since the last days of November, when they were 8-7.

    It took 53 minutes to get it, but Utah left Dallas with their first win at the American Airlines Center in exactly six years and a month. And they did it with two very dramatic shots.

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    Down 10 early in the fourth quarter and 104-101 with 20 seconds left in regulation, the Jazz opted to trade quick twos from Gordon Hayward with free throws for Deron Williams and Raymond Felton. Having made up no ground, they had to take a three to force overtime with just a few seconds left. Rodney Hood came through:

    The Jazz have been inconsistent enough to inspire caution. But they have a clear opportunity to establish themselves as a playoff team over the next few weeks.

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  • Marc Gasol's broken foot deals critical blow to Grizzlies

    Eric Freeman at Ball Don't Lie 1 day ago

    The Memphis Grizzlies will have to grit and grind without their most essential player for perhaps the full season. According to a Tuesday report from Ronald Tillery of The Memphis Commercial-Appeal, reigning All-NBA First Team center Marc Gasol has broken a bone in his right foot and will miss a lengthy but indeterminate amount of time, potentially the rest of the season.

    It's a devastating blow to the 30-22 Grizzlies in part because it may have been avoidable. Gasol started Monday's home overtime loss to the Portland Trail Blazers despite a known problem with his foot, although team officials said that it was not at risk of reinjury.

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    Tillery's report has more:

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  • Blazers force OT with buzzer-beating tip-in, beat Grizzlies

    Eric Freeman at Ball Don't Lie 2 days ago

    The All-Star break usually allows teams fluctuating between the bottom and middle thirds of the NBA to determine if they should push for a playoff berth or think about what's best for their future (which, yes, sometimes involves tanking). Most preseason expectations would have put the Portland Trail Blazers squarely in the latter camp, at least if they hadn't already firmly established themselves as lottery participants. Yet Portland has been one of the pleasant surprises of this season, playing well enough to establish themselves as a true contender for a postseason spot ahead of several teams that were supposed to take serious leaps forward.

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    C.J. McCollum scored the first six points of overtime (of his 21 total) to give Portland a head start, although the Grizzlies cut it to 108-106 with only 59 seconds left. A few fruitless possessions allowed Memphis a transition opportunity following a Zach Randolph board with only 13 ticks on the clock. Unfortunately for the hosts, they couldn't convert two opportunities to tie it up:

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  • BDL's Most Interesting Power Rankings: Goodbye NFL, hello Warriors

    Eric Freeman at Ball Don't Lie 3 days ago

    Let's face it — the best and most powerful teams in the NBA don't really change from week to week. A handful of results in the middle of winter can only mean so much to a franchise's championship hopes. What does shift regularly, though, is how much interest a squad can hold over the course of a season. Every Monday, BDL's Most Interesting Power Rankings track the teams most worthy of your attention.

    THE TOP 15

    This week's results made reaching those lofty goals seem considerably more likely. Wins over the Knicks and Wizards were no less exciting for being rather predictable — 11 Curry three-pointers in the latter helped, of course. The big matchup of the week was obviously Saturday's victory over the Thunder at Oracle Arena, which showed that they are just as capable of grinding out a win in crunch time against a contender as they are at decimating them from the opening tip until the final buzzer.

    Plus, who isn't ready to rock out to "Fields of Gold" during the halftime show?

    THE BOTTOM FIVE

  • Kevin Durant works as credentialed photographer at Super Bowl 50

    Eric Freeman at Ball Don't Lie 3 days ago

    Super Bowl Sunday is typically considered a quiet day for the NBA, but one of its biggest stars put in an honest day of work for this year's game between the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers. One day after dropping a tight game to the Golden State Warriors and honorary Panther #KeepPounding drummer Stephen Curry in nearby Oakland, Oklahoma City Thunder superstar Kevin Durant served as a credentialed photographer on the Super Bowl 50 sidelines at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara.

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    Take a look here:

    Last night, @KDTrey5 was shooting the lights out of Oracle. Tonight, he's shooting #SB50 for the Players' Tribune. pic.twitter.com/FrZe039F5G

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