Eric Freeman

  • Winless Sixers force Papa John's to change pizza promotion

    Eric Freeman at Ball Don't Lie 12 hrs ago

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    The Philadelphia 76ers are currently courting historical futility. The team's 0-11 start has put them just seven games behind the 2009-10 New Jersey Nets' record for the worst start in NBA history. Given the team's performance so far — an average margin of loss of 16.4 points — no upcoming game looks there for the taking. It's anyone's guess as to when the Sixers will actually end up in the win column.

    Sixers fans now have a much better chance at getting that much-coveted papajohns.com discount. The team is averaging just 88.6 points per game, worst in the league, but they have scored 90 points in five games and come within three points of the mark on three more occasions. If we opted to define a Sixers win as scoring 90 points, then their 5-6 record with three narrow losses would be good enough for the eighth-best record in the East and hope for a playoff berth. Instead, it will just allow fans to order cheaper Papa John's pizza, which might be the life equivalent of finishing in this terrible conference's final playoff spot.

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  • Brandon Knight blows winning lay-up in OT, then helps Bucks win

    Eric Freeman at Ball Don't Lie 1 day ago

    Milwaukee Bucks guard Brandon Knight is no stranger to embarrassment. He was most notably on the wrong end of DeAndre Jordan's Dunk of the Year in March 2013, but Knight also had his ankles broken by Kyrie Irving in the Rising Stars Challenge at All-Star Weekend a month earlier. Ask many fans about Knight's career and they might remember him as a punchline rather than a basketball player.

    Yet it's also possible that these unfortunate moments in the spotlight have turned Knight into a pretty resilient young athlete. He proved that on Wednesday night in bouncing back from an embarrassing mistake that nearly cost his team a win.

    With around four seconds remaining in overtime and the Bucks tied with the host Brooklyn Nets at 105-105, Knight jumped into a passing lane and picked off a pass from Joe Johnson. No one was impeding Knight's path to the hoop, which turned his breakaway into a race against time. He got to the rim and put up a simple lay-in with plenty of time to spare, but Knight's rush to the basket appeared to have put him off balance:

  • Solomon Hill's buzzer-beating tip-in lifts Pacers over Hornets

    Eric Freeman at Ball Don't Lie 1 day ago

    Indiana Pacers wing Solomon Hill entered the 2014-15 season with a chance to make a name for himself following the season-ending leg injury suffered by superstar Paul George this summer. The 23-year-old out of Arizona remains a work in progress, but he has shown plenty of reason for optimism in averaging 12.6 points over 33.7 minutes per game. It's easy to see him carving out a role on this roster moving forward.

    Hill added to his case with his first career NBA game-winner in Wednesday night's game against the visiting Charlotte Hornets. With 18 seconds on the clock and the score tied 86-86, Indiana held the ball with an opportunity to take the last shot. Guard Rodney Stuckey attempted to take Lance Stephenson off the dribble, but his stepback jumper fell well short in an airball. Luckily for the Pacers, Hill was there to clean it up with an athletic buzzer-beater:

    Stephenson's play was also a mixed bag — he finished with 10 points on an unimpressive 4-of-12 from the field but also contributed eight rebounds, seven assists, and two blocks. He is now shooting just 37.4 percent on the season for the struggling Hornets.

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  • Hornets' Taylor suspended 24 games after domestic violence conviction

    Eric Freeman at Ball Don't Lie 1 day ago

    The NFL's recent incidents and controversies involving domestic violence have put every other major sports league on notice. NBA commissioner Adam Silver has responded by handing down the league's biggest punishment for a domestic violence crime.

    Charlotte Hornets forward Jeff Taylor was charged with domestic assault, assault, and malicious destruction of property in East Lansing, Mich., in late September, just days before the team opened training camp. Taylor has been barred from team activities since that date. After pleading guilty to misdemeanor domestic assault and malicious destruction of property, Taylor has been awaiting further news from the NBA.

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  • Lance Stephenson is nervous about his return to Indiana

    Eric Freeman at Ball Don't Lie 2 days ago

    Long before the careless whispers and all-around antics of last spring's Eastern Conference Finals, Lance Stephenson was a second-round pick given a shot at an NBA career by the Indiana Pacers in 2010. It took time for Stephenson to develop, but when he did, he became a quality all-around player who served as the Pacers' engine in many respects. His time in Indiana didn't end on the sunniest note, but he came of age before heading to the Charlotte Hornets in free agency this summer.

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  • Kobe Bryant hits 32,000 career points to help Lakers win

    Eric Freeman at Ball Don't Lie 2 days ago

    The Los Angeles Lakers are not a very good basketball team, which has caused many NBA observers (including me) to term the franchise's 2014-15 season little more than a chance for longtime superstar Kobe Bryant to build on his already very impressive career statistics. Bryant is still a ways off from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's NBA scoring record, but he's set to pass some big names and reach other milestones throughout the 82-game schedule. Not all his records will be fully positive, but they all speak to the impact that Kobe has had on the sport and league.

    It's unclear if Lakers fans will take comfort in this historic silver lining to a lost season, but it figures that at least a few notable milestones will occur on nights in which the Lakers look pretty good. That's exactly what happened in Tuesday night's road game against the Atlanta Hawks. The Lakers got off to a fast start and led by 15 at the half, only to see the hosts battle back and turn it into a close game in the final minutes.

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  • Doug McDermott jumps into photo with Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, Kid Ink

    Eric Freeman at Ball Don't Lie 3 days ago

    There are few professions more glamorous and valorized than "professional athlete." However, there are many levels of fame and fortune within that very special group. For instance, the life of the superstar differs greatly from that of the rookie. And that's to say nothing of the differences between players in those subsets — Kobe Bryant is not Tim Duncan, just as Andrew Wiggins is not a second-rounder known only by diehards.

    So, when a rapper takes a picture with two mainstream-popular All-NBA performers, none of the trio wants a four-year college player and rookie averaing 12.5 minutes per game to join in on the phone. So it was pretty weird to see Chicago Bulls rookie Doug McDermott on the right of a photo involving rapper Kid Ink and Los Angeles Clippers stars Blake Griffin and Chris Paul (via SB Nation):

    None of the above. It looks like McDermott just tried to jump in the shot without being invited.

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  • Shabazz Napier spins around Deron Williams and Kevin Garnett

    Eric Freeman at Ball Don't Lie 3 days ago

    The Brooklyn Nets have been one of the biggest disappointments of the 2014-15 NBA season so far. After entering the year as unlikely but dark-horse challengers for a spot in the conference finals, the Nets entered Monday night's home game against the Miami Heat with a 4-5 record and a three-game losing streak. New head coach Lionel Hollins has not been able to turn his aging team into a strong outfit yet, and shooting guard Joe Johnson has criticized teammates in public for selfish play even before the team dipped below .500. The Nets have a long way to go.

    A single moment against the Heat did a pretty good job of summing up the Nets experience. Roughly halfway through the second quarter, Heat rookie point guard Shabazz Napier executed some fancy dribbling moves while working a pick-and-roll with Chris Bosh. Deron Williams and Kevin Garnett got a bit confused:

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  • Jeff Green dunks on Marcus Morris in crunch time

    Eric Freeman at Ball Don't Lie 3 days ago

    Every so often, Boston Celtics forward Jeff Green makes a play or has a game that makes him look like a player who belongs in All-Star Games. It's happened many times over the course of Green's eight-year career, to the point where it's hard to extrapolate too much from any one performance. Of course, that doesn't make it any less exciting or impressive when Green plays at such a high level.

    He had one such game against the Phoenix Suns at TD Garden on Monday night. Green finished with 28 points on 10-of-17 shooting, his second-best scoring output of the season so far. But Green made the most noise in the final minute. With the Celtics down 112-111 and 1:00 on the clock, Green stole a pass from Eric Bledsoe and got out in transition quickly. Marcus Morris attempted to challenge him at the rim, but Green made sure that wouldn't happen with a thunderous dunk:

    Green hit the free throw to put Boston up 114-112, but that proved to be their last point of the game. Goran Dragic made a lay-up off a very nice play out of a timeout to tie it, and Eric Bledsoe took advantage of this poor pass from Avery Bradley for an easy lay-in and the lead:

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  • LeBron dominates with 41 points in Cavs comeback over Celtics

    Eric Freeman at Ball Don't Lie 6 days ago

    The 2014-15 Cleveland Cavaliers remain a work in progress, the sort of group that can lose to a playoff afterthought even while looking like an offensive juggernaut for a stretch of a few minutes. The stars haven't figured out each other's tendencies, Kyrie Irving and LeBron James haven't yet worked out a comfortable balance of ballhandling duties, and the defense looks in need of a great deal of help. It could take months or maybe even more than a season before Cleveland looks like a championship-caliber team.

    The game itself was a mixed bag for the Cavs, particularly at the defensive end. The Celtics shot 54.5 percent from the field as six players scored in double figures. On the other hand, Cleveland was much stingier in crunch time and allowed only seven points in the final seven minutes.

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