Eric Freeman

  • Westbrook dominates again, but Blazers come back to top Thunder

    Eric Freeman at Ball Don't Lie 16 hrs ago

    Oklahoma City Thunder superstar Russell Westbrook is the biggest story in the NBA right now, a player contributing at an MVP level and impressing with the sheer volume of his production even when he's not particularly efficient. He is currently the definition of a must-watch player.

    Westbrook notched his third-straight triple-double in Friday night's road game against the Portland Trail Blazers, but for the second game in a row he could not lead his team to a win. The Blazers came back from a 13-point fourth-quarter to deficit to top the Thunder 115-112, dropping OKC to just a half-game ahead of the New Orleans Pelicans for the final playoff spot in the West.

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  • Alexey Shved throws the ball way over the basket, confuses all

    Eric Freeman at Ball Don't Lie 18 hrs ago

    The New York Knicks have given their fans little to cheer about this season. At their worst, the squad with the NBA's worst record have inspired questions about exactly where they're going, whether Derek Fisher is the right man to lead them, and the extent to which Phil Jackson can construct a winner. It's easy to watch them and feel very confused about what it all means.

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    Credit to guard Alexey Shved, then, for riding those vibes and coming up with one of the most confounding plays of the year. With roughly 7:00 remaining in the fourth quarter of Friday night's game at the Detroit Pistons, Shved darted to the basket after catching a deflection of his own pass for ... well, we're not really sure. Because instead of putting the ball in the general vicinity of the basket, he threw it 10 feet over everything. Take a look:

    We could take some guesses at what happened here, but it's probably more enjoyable just to chalk it all up to some kind of cosmic coincidence. Let the mysterious remain mysterious.

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  • Wizards lose to Sixers in another woeful performance, need answers

    Eric Freeman at Ball Don't Lie 19 hrs ago

    The Washington Wizards have moved from genuine contention to serious disappointment over the course of just a few weeks. Unfortunately for them, there do not appear to be easy answers to their problems.

    The Wizards faced the Philadelphia 76ers at Wells Fargo Center in need of a win after having lost five straight and 10 of their last 12. On paper, the opponent would have seemed to offer them a solid chance at a victory — the Sixers had lost five in a row themselves and quite famously suffer from a talent gap. So it's a mark of how bad things have gotten for Washington that they lost 89-81 in a listless display during which Philadelphia rarely looked particularly threatening. This was a truly bad basketball game, and the worst team in it held hopes of challenging for a title less than a month ago.

    [Follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr: The best slams from all of basketball]

    The Sixers iced the game with an off-balance fadeaway from journeyman point guard Ish Smith, who signed all of five days ago:

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  • Bledsoe and Westbrook stuff the stat sheet as Suns top Thunder in OT

    Eric Freeman at Ball Don't Lie 1 day ago

    The NBA is full of amazing lead guards, but perhaps no two are as active as Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder and Eric Bledsoe of the Phoenix Suns. Even when they're not at their best, these two players simply make things happen at both ends. They run around, fly through the air, and often crash into opponents and teammates. If they stop moving, something is probably wrong.

    Thursday night's game between the Thunder and Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena showed how both Westbrook and Bledsoe can impact a game. Phoenix ended up with a 117-113 overtime win, but the final score gives little indication of the straight-up weirdness of the night.

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    After Phoenix had held an eight-point or low-double-digit lead most of the way, OKC fought back to turn the final few minutes into a battle for the win. With 20 seconds on the clock and the Suns up 109-106, Westbrook went to the rim in lieu of taking a game-tying three. He managed to tie the game anyway:

     

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  • LeBron dominates with season-high 42 points, Cavs handle Warriors

    Eric Freeman at Ball Don't Lie 1 day ago

    Thursday's matchup between the league-best Golden State Warriors and red-hot Cleveland Cavaliers was billed as a potential NBA Finals preview. As with so many high-profile games before it, the night was dominated by LeBron James.

    The Cavs superstar scored a season-high 42 points on 15-of-25 shooting as Cleveland beat Golden State 110-99. The Warriors got out to a hot start in a high-scoring first quarter but were handled by the Cavaliers over the final three quarters in a game whose result rarely seemed in doubt.

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    In addition to his impressive scoring total, James added 11 boards, five assists, and three steals over 36 minutes. Take a look at some of his highlights below:

    While Cleveland's offense gets much of the attention, their defense arguably impressed more vs. Golden State. Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson combined for 30 points on 10-of-30 shooting. MVP candidate Curry especially struggled when guarded by taller wings and looked off most of the game.

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  • Paul George practices with Pacers for first time since gruesome leg injury

    Eric Freeman at Ball Don't Lie 1 day ago

    When Paul George suffered a gruesome leg injury in a Team USA exhibition this summer, the assumption was that he would miss the entire 2014-15 season with the Indiana Pacers while rehabbing. Yet that expectation changed several weeks ago — George told Yahoo's own Marc Spears that he had plans to practice by March 1 and return to real-live NBA games some time in the middle of the month. The plan seemed optimistic, but also made the return of one of the NBA's most exciting players much more real.

    [Follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr: The best slams from all of basketball]

    George appears to be sticking to his timeline. The two-time All-Star was a full participant in Pacers practice for the first time since his injury Thursday, or three days before his self-imposed date. Michael Marot of the Associated Press has more:

    You can also check out video of Marc's conversation with George at All-Star Weekend:

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  • Jusuf Nurkic taunts with kindness, earns hilarious technical foul

    Eric Freeman at Ball Don't Lie 2 days ago

    Denver Nuggets rookie big man Jusuf Nurkic has developed a reputation as a classic NBA tough guy in just a few short months. The 20-year-old Bosnian has impressed as an interior presence at both ends, but he also plays with a no-nonsense style more often found in crusty veterans. I suppose we should expect nothing less from a player who may have only been scouted in the first place because someone wanted to know if his father, a policeman who earned headlines for defeating 14 people in a fight, had any sons.

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    Nurkic was quickly handed a technical foul, which is not surprising given that he calmly placed the ball in the hands of the dude he had just dominated on the block. But this is normal taunt — it's hilarious because it's so nice, almost as if Nurkic is making a mockery of sportsmanship with dry wit.

    It is unlikely that Oscar Wilde ever played basketball, but I'm pretty sure this is how he would have talked trash.

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  • Minnesota Timberwolves re-introduce Kevin Garnett with tribute video

    Eric Freeman at Ball Don't Lie 2 days ago

    The return of Kevin Garnett to the Minnesota Timberwolves has been one of the top stories in the NBA since his trade from the Brooklyn Nets last Thursday. With all the anticipation, the reintroduction of the best player in franchise history after an eight-year absence did not disappointment.

    The 38-year-old Garnett started the first game of his Wolves return on Wednesday night vs. the Washington Wizards at Target Center. The franchise went all out for his intro, pausing after the announcement of rookie Andrew Wiggins to show a highlight video of Garnett highlights from his first 12 seasons in Minnesota. Garnett was then announced to raucous applause from the fans.

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    Take a look at the scene here (via The Cauldron):

    Garnett returned in the second quarter and scored his first points on a free throw shortly thereafter. His first field goal came roughly a minute later on this jumper off a pass from Wiggins:

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  • Rajon Rondo suspended for shouting match with Mavs coach Rick Carlisle

    Eric Freeman at Ball Don't Lie 2 days ago

    When the Dallas Mavericks traded for enigmatic point guard Rajon Rondo in December, they must have known that they were getting a fairly difficult player to coach. Rondo is hard to figure out, performs his best when he has freedom to improvise, and can get ornery. The Mavs knew they were making a gamble in adding a stylistically unique player to the NBA's best offense (at the time), but they believed that the potential gains were worth it.

    [Follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr: The best slams from all of basketball]

    The final results of that decision won't be known until the postseason and when Rondo becomes when free agent this summer, but they experienced some of the bad that comes with his good in the third quarter of Tuesday night's home game against the Toronto Raptors. As the Mavericks headed back to the bench just a few minutes into the third quarter, head coach Rick Carlisle and Rondo began to engage in a shouting match. Take a look at the video:

    The Mavericks have suspended guard Rajon Rondo one game for “conduct detrimental to the team."

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  • Russell Westbrook continues MVP form with triple-double in OKC win

    Eric Freeman at Ball Don't Lie 3 days ago

    If you spend any time perusing NBA Twitter, you've probably seen a meme taken from Kevin Durant's MVP speech last spring in which his Oklahoma City Thunder teammate Russell Westbrook stares at the trophy intently from his seat. The idea is that Westbrook is so competitive and focused that he can't help but lust after the NBA's most prestigious individual accolade even when the spotlight is on a friend. He's an obsessive.

    If Westbrook keeps up his current play, the joke might become reality in just a few months. As the Thunder look to hold onto and improve their playoff position with Durant hobbled, Westbrook has stepped into the role of primary superstar without issue and played at a level that has put him right next to Stephen Curry and James Harden among the league's top three MVP candidates. Always an All-Star but often a target for criticism, the electric Westbrook has transcended doubts about his game in recent weeks to reach another level of stardom.

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