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Monday, November 20, 2017

Basketball

James Harden, Chris Paul trade shots at one another after win

Chris Paul and James Harden have only played together in two regular season games, but it’s obvious that the two have established great chemistry with one another off the court.

The Houston Rockets scored a whopping 142 points in a win over the Phoenix Suns Thursday night. Harden was responsible for 48 of those, and he said after the game that he was “happy to have the little midget back” to help him stay on top of his game. Paul was standing right next to Harden when he made the remark, and CP3 fired back.

Paul had just 11 of the 142 points, but he dished out 10 assists. That wasn’t bad for his first game back from an injury. Harden, on the other hand, could have done more — at least according to CP3.

Harden is obviously happy to have Paul on his team, and some comments he made earlier in the season reflected that. As long as they can stay healthy, the Rockets should have a legitimate shot to challenge the Golden State Warriors in the West. A good relationship between Harden and Paul both on and off the court can only help.

Phoenix Suns poke fun at themselves on Twitter for awful first half

Phoenix Suns

The Phoenix Suns were annihilated by the Houston Rockets in the first half of Thursday night’s game between the teams, but at least they had a sense of humor about it.

Phoenix allowed 90 — yes 90!! — points to Houston in the first half of the game. That prompted this humorous halftime tweet from the Suns:

The Rockets chimed in, though they were thoughtful and didn’t rub it in:

The 90-point first half tied for the second most in NBA history. Coincidentally, the Suns have the record with 107 points in the first half against Denver in 1990, according to the Rockets.

To put things in perspective, the Rockets scored more in the first half against Phoenix than the high-scoring Golden State Warriors managed in the entire game in their loss to Boston earlier in the night.

Steph Curry thinks Boston Celtics will make NBA Finals

Move over, LeBron: Steph Curry thinks the Golden State Warriors will have a new rival in the NBA Finals.

The Boston Celtics made a statement on Thursday night by beating the Golden State Warriors 92-88. Though it’s early, the Celtics have the best record in the league, and their home win over Golden State more than legitimized them.

Boston looked so good in the contest that Steph Curry seems to think an NBA Finals between the teams is likely.

That sure is a notable comment, and you know nobody will be more inspired by it than LeBron. He went from having a big brother/little brother type of relationship with Curry to viewing him as a rival once the Warriors became his top competition for NBA championships.

The Warriors and Cavaliers have met three years in a row in the Finals. Curry thinks that may finally be changing in 2018.

Report: Adam Silver meets with college commission over one-and-done rule

Adam Silver

Changes appear to be coming to the NBA’s one-and-done rule.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported on Thursday night that some high-powered officials met on Thursday to discuss making changes to the rule. Those in attendance included NBA commissioner Adam Silver and NBPA director Michele Roberts, who met with the Commission on College Basketball.

Silver has made his desire to change the one-and-done rule well known over the past year. He said in February that he wanted to spend time with Roberts discussing the matter. Silver wanted the league to raise the minimum age from 19 to 20, while Roberts wants to reduce it to 18.

Silver said in June that the current system is “not working for anyone.” As it stands, athletes can go to college and then declare for the NBA draft without even completing a full academic year. That doesn’t serve a ton of purpose, and it worsens the college basketball product. Meanwhile, the NBPA wants to give athletes a chance to begin their careers after high school rather than deny them the opportunity.

Kevin Durant says Stephen Curry is face of Warriors: ‘I’m not a leader’

Kevin Durant is leaving no doubt about the hierarchy in Golden State.

In a wide-ranging interview with Zach Baron of GQ Magazine that ran on Thursday, the superstar forward called teammate Stephen Curry the face of the Warriors and discussed his own lack of traditional leadership ability.

“Steph Curry is the face of the franchise, and that helps me out, because I don’t have to,” said Durant. “I don’t want to have to be the leader. I’m not a leader. I’m bad at saying, ‘Stand behind me and follow me.’

“I’m one of those guys that’s just like, ‘Let’s do this s–t together. Let’s just work everybody together. I don’t mind being on the front line with you, but let’s come and do it together,’” the four-time scoring champion continued. “That’s my way of leadership. I’m leading by example.”

Since he signed with the Warriors in 2016, Durant has seemed content with deferring alpha-dog status to Curry. That still appears to be the case this year now that they have won a championship together, and based on these remarks from Durant, they both seem pretty happy with their respective roles.

Luke Walton says Lonzo Ball’s role will not change despite benching

Lonzo Ball

Lonzo Ball curiously sat the entire fourth quarter of Wednesday’s loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, but that doesn’t mean his role will change going forward.

Lakers coach Luke Walton, who closed the Philly game with Jordan Clarkson, said on Thursday that there are “no talks” about bringing Ball off the bench and reaffirmed him as their starter, per Serena Winters of Lakers Nation.

Though he has been brilliant in a couple of games this season, Ball has largely struggled as a rookie, especially offensively. He has managed just 9.0 points per game through 15 contests and has been dreadful shooting the basketball, posting 30/23/50 splits. Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson seems to think the team should just let him be and give Ball a long leash to figure it out on his own, and it sounds like Walton feels the same way.

LeBron James agrees with Draymond Green about playing too many minutes

LeBron James

Draymond Green does not think the Cleveland Cavaliers should be overly concerned about their sluggish start to the season, but the workload they have been giving LeBron James is a different topic altogether.

In an interview with USA Today’s Sam Amick this week, Green said Cavs players and coaches should only be worried about LeBron averaging more than 38 points per game just 15 games into the season.

“Yeah, he’s super-human but eventually his super-human powers go away, so that would be more of my concern if I’m a Cavs fan or somebody with the Cavs or a player, is like, ‘Man, he’s been playing a lot of 40-minute (nights) and it’s only Nov. 12,’” Green said. “But I wouldn’t be pressing the panic button just yet. At the end of the day, they know how to win. They’ve got a guy who knows how to win, so I wouldn’t necessarily press the panic button. I would see certain things and I would panic about those certain things, just because … I don’t think nobody should be playing 40 minutes a game in November.

LeBron has played more than 40 minutes in six different games this season. That would make sense if it were the postseason, but the four-time NBA MVP will turn 33 next month. The risks are obvious.

On Thursday, James told Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com that he agrees with Green.

“Draymond’s right,” he said. “We want to get those minutes down for sure. But as of right now, we’ve had two point guards out and we’ve had some different lineup changes, so, I’ve had to play more minutes than I would like, and more minutes than my teammates would like me to have.”

Isaiah Thomas has yet to make his debut this season, and Derrick Rose has already missed eight games with an ankle injury. Tristan Thompson has also missed time with a strained calf. Those injuries have all been a factor, but should the Cavs be risking LeBron’s health this early even under those circumstances?

“Draymond’s right, he’s right on point with it. But there’s going to be games where I have to play 40,” LeBron said. “There’s going to be games where I can play 32. Hopefully it all evens out, especially when IT comes back, D Rose comes back, Tristan comes back, we get more firepower.”

The Cavs have won three straight to get their record above .500, and they may finally be finding a rhythm. If they can find ways to consistently win games and gain more confidence, LeBron should find more minutes to rest.

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