Eric Freeman

  • Kobe-less Lakers fall well behind Bulls, Gasol late

    Eric Freeman at Ball Don't Lie 11 hrs ago

    If the Los Angeles Lakers have remained a draw this season despite their firm position as a lottery team, then it's likely because of the ongoing intrigue surrounding 36-year-old legend Kobe Bryant. Kobe has hit several major milestones and scored so inefficiently that it's fair to say he's not helping the team. Yet he remains a crucial part of the NBA, to the point where the team's performance in his absence is still mostly about the status and reputation of the Lakers' iconic star.

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    Eric Freeman is a writer for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at efreeman_ysports@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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  • Russell Westbrook's big-time game powers Thunder past Spurs

    Eric Freeman at Ball Don't Lie 12 hrs ago

    The NBA's Christmas scheduled lost a little luster when it was declared that Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant would miss the mid-day matchup at the San Antonio Spurs with the sprained ankle that has kept him out of four-straight games. Yet the contest itself was not lacking in star power, because his teammate Russell Westbrook provided more than enough to keep the TV audience interested.

    The star guard finished with 34 points (14-of-28 FG), 11 assists, five rebounds, and five steals in a 114-106 win after a run of three losses in four games. As noted by Dan Feldman at ProBasketballTalk, no player had achieved those totals since Baron Davis in April 2005. The highlights are just as impressive:

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  • Dwyane Wade and Heat top Cavs in LeBron's return to Miami

    Eric Freeman at Ball Don't Lie 14 hrs ago

    When the Christmas matchup between the Miami Heat and Cleveland Cavaliers was announced this summer, it struck most observers as a game in which LeBron James would return to South Beach to remind everyone what they were missing. The reality was a little more complicated.

    Playing without the injured Chris Bosh for the seventh game in a row, the Heat thrived early to get out to a 13-point halftime lead before weathering a second-half Cavs comeback to end up with a 101-91 win. Dwyane Wade was the star, putting up 31 points, five assists, five rebounds, two steals, and this very impressive follow dunk over Kevin Love:

    Wade looked very comfortable in his old role as the Heat's first option, playing with a spring in his step that was often missing during his last few seasons next to LeBron. The Heat also got an excellent game from Luol Deng, James's de facto replacement, with 25 points (11-of-16 FG), eight rebounds, and eight assists.

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  • Vlade Divac hits half-court shot for charity on charmed night for Kobe-less Lakers

    Eric Freeman at Ball Don't Lie 2 days ago

    Never let anyone tell you that the NBA is predictable. The Los Angeles Lakers entered Monday's contest against the Golden State Warriors with little in their favor. For one thing, the Warriors came into the game with the league's best record at 23-3 and a 2-0 mark against the Lakers already this season, with both wins coming by more than 20 points. The hosts were also to be without Kobe Bryant as he missed his first game of the season for rest. No matter your opinion on Kobe — and it's easy to argue he's hurting the team with an average of 14 missed field goals per game — the fact is that this team is short on talent regardless of their health. A matchup against the best team in the league would seem like a considerable test.

    Things went so well, in fact, that the Lakers' good fortune even extended to the between-quarter entertainment. In the break between the third and fourth quarters, NBA legend and former Laker Vlade Divac took to the court to try to win $90,000 for charity. Here's what happened:

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  • Damian Lillard sends another game to OT, Blazers best Thunder

    Eric Freeman at Ball Don't Lie 2 days ago

    NBA fans often debate the best point guards in basketball, and for the most part it's hard to many points of agreement among the various factions. Yet one issue should leave little room for debate, because Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard is pretty clearly the best clutch shooter in the league right now. The third-year pro has made a habit of hitting shots to win or extend games, from last spring's series-ending buzzer-beater against the Houston Rockets to several key moments in Friday's triple-overtime win over the San Antonio Spurs. The guy makes his presence known when he's needed most.

    That three-pointer finished off a string of 11 points in the final 3:44 of the quarter for Lillard. Russell Westbrook missed a long three on the final possession to send the game to OT.

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  • Kobe Bryant misses Lakers vs. Warriors for rest

    Eric Freeman at Ball Don't Lie 2 days ago

    Despite playing at 36 years of age, Los Angeles Lakers icon Kobe Bryant has taken on a massive workload for his team this season, taking part in the first 27 games at an average of 35.4 minutes (15th in the NBA) with a 36.4 usage percentage (tops in the league) even though the 8-19 Lakers are often out of games in the fourth quarter. Bryant's workload is unprecedented for a player of his age, and it's not surprising to find out that he hasn't been helping the team much. Kobe has been shooting the team out of games, has complained of not having his legs in those moments, and his PER is his worst since his rookie year (not including last year's truncated six-game campaign). He's looked like a guy in need of rest for several weeks, if not longer.

    Head coach Byron Scott has finally answered those calls. Bryant will sit out Tuesday night's home game against the West-leading Golden State Warriors, and it looks like this could be a recurring theme for Kobe as the season continues. Here's Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report on Twitter:

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  • Manu Ginobili was as creative as ever in win over Clippers

    Eric Freeman at Ball Don't Lie 3 days ago

    There is a longstanding NBA argument in which one side calls the San Antonio Spurs boring and the other contends that there is beauty to be found in a higher form of basketball craft. Yet this disagreement often seems to miss one pretty obvious point — that Manu Ginobili, four-time champion, plays with the sort of creativity and verve that entertainment-minded fans crave. He's the guy who everyone can (or should) agree on.

    Ginobili was up to his usual tricks in Monday's contest against the Los Angeles Clippers. The best came fairly late, with four minutes remaining in regulation and the Spurs up just 112-106 after leading by 12 at the half. Taking the ball from Danny Green in the early offense, Manu threw a wonderful over-and-behind-the-head pass to get Green a wide-open three-pointer:

    That play came three quarters after another classic Ginobili move in which he sent elite shot-blocker DeAndre Jordan flying with a quasi-Dream Shake and got around Jordan for a second time with a double-clutch lay-up:

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  • Vince Carter turns back the clock, dunks on Rudy Gobert

    Eric Freeman at Ball Don't Lie 3 days ago

    Long before he morphed into a respected veteran reserve (against the odds), Memphis Grizzlies wing Vince Carter was the NBA's foremost dunker, both in the dunk contest and in games. A week wouldn't go by without Vinsanity posterizing an opponent, to the point where his official website could put together a "Top 100 Vince Carter Dunks" YouTube video and have plenty of material left on the cutting room floor. He earned the "Half Man Half Amazing" nickname.

    Such moments are few and far between for the 37-year-old these days, but every so often VC comes through with a moment that recalls the exploits of his youth. That's exactly what happened in Monday night's home game against the Utah Jazz. Carter exploited some gaps in the Utah defense in transition and jammed on 7-2 center Rudy Gobert:

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    Eric Freeman is a writer for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at efreeman_ysports@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

  • LeBron James Jr. already has a must-watch highlight mix

    Eric Freeman at Ball Don't Lie 3 days ago

    The talents of LeBron James are pretty well established. The nearly 30-year-old four-time MVP has been blessed with elite natural abilities like strength and athleticism and has also developed a genius-level understanding of the sport. As with many incredibly successful people, it's sometimes difficult to differentiate between his inherited gifts and self-made qualities. He just has it all.

    That nature vs. nurture debate doesn't seem to be any clearer in the case of LeBron James Jr., 10-year-old son of the Cleveland Cavaliers superstar. LeBron the Younger — also known as Bronny — earned attention in October when he sank a half-court shot at Cavs training camp, but it now appears that his basketball acumen extends well beyond trick shots. Just check out this highlight video of the fourth-grader in action (via Deadspin):

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  • Kevin Durant goes down with right ankle sprain vs. Warriors

    Eric Freeman at Ball Don't Lie 7 days ago

    The Oklahoma City Thunder have been a resurgent unit since the returns of both Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. After a loss in Durant's season opener Dec. 2 against the New Orleans Pelicans, the Thunder had rattled off seven straight wins to enter Thursday night's game against the West-leading Golden State Warriors with a 12-13 record and just out of a playoff spot. The turnaround has been a reminder that OKC is a legitimate title contender when fully healthy.

    However, a stroke of bad luck right before halftime of Thursday's game could derail that resurgence. On the final possession of the half, Durant drove to the basket looking for a buzzer-beater before colliding with the defending Marreese Speights. Durant was called for a charge on the play, but the real damage came as his right foot — the same one with the stress fracture that kept Durant out of the season's first 17 games — came down on Speights. Durant turned his ankle in the process, fell to the ground and left the game. Take a look:

    Durant also spoke to reporters after the Thunder's 114-109 loss: