Tim Duncan trolled Corey Brewer by mimicking flop attempt (video)

Class was in session on Friday night as Tim Duncan showed Corey Brewer how to properly flop.
The two collided on one particular play when the Timberwolves and Spurs squared off.
Duncan attempted to get Ginobili open by setting a screen for him. Brewer came off the pick but ran into the Spurs’ big man and flopped backwards…

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Kentucky’s Alex Poythress Spikes Frank Mason III’s Layup Attempt

No. 1 Kentucky is facing off against No. 5 Kansas during the 2014 Champions Classic at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, and the Wildcats are proving to be a dominating force as they took a 38-28 lead into halftime. 

The first half proved to be a block party, as the Wildcats recorded eight rejections while allowing only eight field goals to the Jayhawks (8-of-34).  Kentucky’s Alex Poythress delivered a gorgeous chase-down block on Frank Mason III in the initial half and spiked the ball off the glass for the most impressive of all the stuffs. 

It’s going to be a long year for players who want to attack the paint against the Wildcats. 

[Vine, Sporting News' Ryan Fagan]

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Lance Stephenson slaps himself in poor attempt to draw a foul (video)

Charlotte Hornets guard Lance Stephenson once blew in LeBron James’ ear and has also attempted to enter the huddle of an opposing team. But he’s never attempted to draw a foul call quite like he did on Saturday night.
The Hornets may have lost to the Warriors, 112-87, but Stephenson did his best to keep the game as close as possible in the first quarter.
He slapped himself in the face in what was a poor attempt…

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Watch: Kobe Bryant makes ridiculous circus shot while being fouled on layup attempt

Kobe Bryant is clearly in midseason form as he continues to make highlight-reel plays game after game.
Saturday night’s game against the Warriors was no different. With the Lakers trailing late in the second quarter, 59-51, Bryant did all he could to keep his team in the game with an insanely-difficult reverse layup.
He received the ball at the top of the three-point arc and was met by Shaun Livingston. Bryant then blew by him and drove to the basket, where he was then fouled by Festus Ezeli.
But it didn’t matter. Kobe still managed to get off a ridiculous circus shot, going up and under with a reverse layup attempt. The ball[...]

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Nuggets’ Timofey Mozgov Gets Rim Checked on Uncontested Dunk Attempt vs. Lakers

The NBA preseason is finally underway, so get ready for a bunch of players trying to shake off the rust.

During Monday night’s game between the Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Lakers, Timofey Mozgov had an uncontested dunk attempt. Unfortunately, the rim got in the way, and Mozgov ended up missing.

After the play, all Mozgov could do was hang his head.

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Cavaliers’ Anderson Varejao’s Alley-Oop Attempt Somehow Goes in

After seeing this play, does anyone on the Cleveland Cavaliers coaching staff tell Anderson Varejao that he needs to work on his passing?

Varejao attempted to set teammate Tristan Thompson up for an alley-oop during the Cavaliers’ preseason game against Maccabi Tel Aviv on Sunday. However, the lob ended up going in the hoop.

Although Varejao didn’t mean for the pass to go in the basket, sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.

[Vine, h/t Twitter]

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Deron Williams Gets Denied by the Rim on Dunk Attempt Against the Wizards

Brooklyn Nets‘ Deron Williams got rejected in emphatic fashion during the waning seconds of the first half in a Saturday night game against the Washington Wizards

Unfortunately, “D-Will” wasn’t blocked by John Wall, Trevor Ariza, Marcin Gortat or any other member of the Washington roster. It was the rim doing the swatting, which only adds to the embarrassing nature of the point guard’s adventure in the air.

Quite frankly, he might have been better off just remaining on the ground while his teammates finished off the first half without him. Nothing good can come after a play like that. 

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Phoenix Suns’ Ish Smith Rejects Jared Sullinger’s Dunk Attempt in Boston

Ish Smith may stand a diminutive six feet tall, but that didn’t prevent him from getting up and making a tremendous defensive play on Friday night. 

During the second quarter of the Phoenix Suns‘ contest with the Boston Celtics, Smith bolted over to the weak side and provided some tremendous help defense, denying the 6’9″ Jared Sullinger at the rim with an emphatic rejection. 

Suns guards seem to have an affinity for rejecting imposing big men this season. 

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Celtics’ Kris Humphries Gets Rejected by the Rim on Dunk Attempt vs. Pacers

The Indiana Pacers have the best home record in the NBA, and the Boston Celtics’ Kris Humphries might know why. Even when the Pacers don’t stop someone on defense, the rim can bail them out.

Humphries thought he had two points on a dunk Tuesday night, but he was unable to beat the rim.

Here’s one way of looking at it:

The rim has apparently been taking notes from Pacers center Roy Hibbert.

[A. Sherrod Blakely]

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Mavericks’ Stop to Blazers’ Historic Comeback Attempt Proves 8th Seed Status

If basketball is a game of runs, then Friday night’s contest between the Portland Trail Blazers and Dallas Mavericks was perhaps the purest form of the sport ever witnessed.

Playing to maintain their one-game lead over the Memphis Grizzlies for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference, Dallas got off to a blazing hot start, jumping out to a 30-point lead in the game’s first 16 minutes. 

But the much-maligned Dallas defense could not hold down the Blazers for long. Portland stormed back to take a four-point lead before the end of the third quarter. Suddenly, the Mavericks were on the verge of matching their infamous feat of Dec. 6, 2002, when they lost at the Los Angeles Lakers 105-103 after leading 66-36 early in the third quarter. 

These are the moments that can define seasons—when a golden opportunity is snatched from the grasp. The bad teams teams give in to doubt and despair, acquiescing to defeat long before the game clock has run out.

While the Dallas Mavericks may not be a great team, they are certainly not a team that is going to quit that easily. Dallas took back a slim lead by the end of the third, then held off several more Portland rallies before an and-one layup from veteran guard Devin Harris put them on top for good.

Dallas’ 103-98 win was far from pretty, but the league does not give out style points. The Mavericks survived, which gives them a better chance to advance to the postseason.

 

Almost History 

Dallas displayed an impressive two-way game in the first quarter, torching the Blazers for 33 points while holding them to only 10 points on 4-of-19 shooting. Point guard Jose Calderon outscored the entire Portland team by himself, with 15 first-quarter points.

By the eight-minute, 30-second mark of the second quarter Dallas had stretched that lead to a seemingly insurmountable 44-14 on a layup by Devin Harris.

How rare is it for a team to blow a 30-point first-half lead? According to ESPN Stats, it had not been done in 15 years:

But the Blazers were only getting started. They quickly got back into the game by exploiting one of Dallas’ most critical weaknesses: rebounding. Per Basketball-Reference, the Mavericks came into Friday ranked 23rd in the league in offensive rebounding percentage and 24th in defensive rebounding percentage. The Blazers—ranked second in offensive rebounding percentage—took full advantage, grabbing seven offensive boards in the second quarter alone.

Reserve forward Thomas Robinson in particular destroyed the Mavericks on the offensive glass, pulling down four offensive boards and scoring nine points in the second quarter; to put that into perspective, he averages 4.4 points per game. 

By halftime they had closed the lead to 19—difficult, but not impossible to overcome.

Portland would take every bit of that lead back in the third, thanks to the Mavericks’ shoddy defense and rebounding. Dallas did not have an answer for All-Star power forward LaMarcus Aldridge, who scored 18 points and grabbed nine boards in the period (three offensive).

 

Veteran Presence

The best thing the Mavericks can take away from this win is the performance of their veteran bench players, particularly Harris.

Dallas has always been one of the rare teams that doesn’t necessarily like to play all five starters when the game is on the line, particularly since they are blessed with a proven Vince Carter available on the bench. But they would not have won this game if they had only relied on their top two scorers: Dirk Nowitzki and Monta Ellis.

Both players struggled in the fourth, combining for only seven points on 1-of-6 shooting. Fortunately, they had Carter (six points) and Harris (10 points, including the game-winner) to pick up the slack. 

 

They Are Who They Are

After the victory, several of the Mavericks seemed to be resigned to playing games in which they blow leads. Coach Rick Carlisle spoke as if the astonishing plot of Friday’s win has become little more than a tired routine, per the Associated Press (h/t to ESPN.com): 

How many whatever-point leads have we blown this year? There’s been tons of them. We’ve got to work to prevent it. There’s no harder way to do it than what happened tonight.

Such is the life of a team with an elite offense and wretched defense. If anything, Friday’s results were to be expected from a matchup of similar teams; Portland, like Dallas, relies almost solely on scoring to win. When one team gets hot, they can run out to a huge lead but when they can’t get stops the opponent can come back just as quickly.

Prior to Friday’s game, ESPN Dallas’ Tim MacMahon wrote an interesting piece of what, if anything, Dallas can do to fix its defense:

The Mavs have known since the roster was constructed this summer that it’d be a challenge to be decent defensively. It’s no surprise that they rank 23rd in defensive rating (105.9 points per game), above only teams that are battling for lottery ping pong balls. That rating soars to 113.7 during Dallas’ three-game losing streak. 

The Mavs have to work hard to be average defensively. When they don’t work hard, to use Nowitzki’s words, they can get torched by anybody. 

The schizophrenic nature of this team is why they only appear to be just good enough to sneak into the playoffs. If the Mavericks want to ensure their place in the 2014 postseason—or even make a bit of noise once they get there—they must finally learn to work hard and consistently on their defense and rebounding.

 

* All statistics are courtesy of Basketball-Reference.

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