LeBron James to sit out because of sore left knee (Yahoo Sports)

CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 9: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers brings the ball up court against the Toronto Raptors on December 9, 2014 at The Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/NBAE via Getty Images)

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — LeBron James is sitting out the Cleveland Cavaliers’ game at Oklahoma City because of a sore left knee.

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Bradley Beal connects on inbounds alley oop with 0.8 seconds left to beat Magic (Video)

Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal hit the game-winning shot in Wednesday night’s 91-89 victory over Orlando by connecting with an inbounds alley oop with 0.8 seconds left to beat the buzzer.Beal started out in the corner of the court, got a screen and ran to the rim while Andre Miller floated the inbounds pass over the defense with perfect timing, leaving the hometown Magic fans stunned.Video via NBA.
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Tyson Chandler Has Left the Noise Behind to Become a Leader Once Again

When trading Tyson Chandler to the Dallas Mavericks, the New York Knicks probably assumed they were getting rid of damaged goods. As Chandler continues to produce one of the best seasons of his career in 2014-15, that perception appears highly inaccurate in retrospect.

The relationship between Chandler, 32, and the Knicks, at least as portrayed by the media, had been cracking for a while leading up to the trade. It all blew over in the 2013 NBA playoffs, when Chandler called out his team following a bad Game 3 loss to the Indiana Pacers.

A frustrated Chandler told media in 2013, according to Frank Isola of the New York Daily News:

I watched the tape myself and there are open looks. We have to be willing passers. You have to sacrifice yourself sometimes for the betterment of the team and for the betterment of your teammates. So when you drive in the paint and you draw, you kick it. I think we need to do a better job of allowing the game to dictate who takes the shots and not the individuals.

Even though his comments were accurate—the Knicks offense consisted of an abundance of isolation plays, a bad recipe to break down an elite defense—he himself became a target for criticism.

Critics pointed out that Chandler, who was dominated by the Pacers’ Roy Hibbert in that particular game, hadn’t exactly been doing a great job himself. His comments became a hot topic, and he was portrayed as a bad influence in the locker room.

The 7’1″ Chandler, who struggled with some injuries in his final years in New York, never defended his own performance. What did grind his gears was how the perception of the one thing he prides himself on was distorted.

When Knicks general manager, Phil Jackson, commented on his decision to trade Chandler, he cited chemistry issues as the primary reason. It didn’t take Chandler long to fire back and defend his stance.

Chandler said before this season, according to ESPNDallas.com’s Tim MacMahon:

I did nothing but try to help the culture there the three years I was there. You can say I didn’t live up to whatever or you didn’t like the way I played or anything. But to ever question who I am and the type of leader I am in the locker room, I don’t even know where that came from.

Chandler was genuinely shocked and hurt by the comments, and he was very adamant while shooting down the allegations. He has always considered himself a true professional, a leader and a guy who lobbies for things to be done the right way. Until his time in New York, those qualities were never questioned.

Chandler said, according to MacMahon:

It makes no sense. If you call holding people accountable daily being a bad influence, then hey, I’m a bad influence. But I’m going to be that as long as I’m going to strap up my shoes and step on the basketball court. And that was the big problem there.

Under the bright lights in New York, everything is made out to be a bigger deal than it actually is. Now that Chandler is back in Dallas, those same qualities that were criticized are highly appreciated in a veteran locker room. Chandler has the pedigree to hold guys accountable when they blow a defensive rotation, without facing backlash or a media uproar.

Last season, the Knicks were statistically worse defensively with Chandler on the floor. This season, Dallas allows an incredible 6.8 points per 100 possessions less with the starting center on the court.

It’s pretty clear Chandler isn’t damaged goods, as he has thrived in a more organized environment. Other than being the defensive anchor, his skill set has been a perfect match in the Mavericks’ league-best offense.

He is shooting 69.5 percent from the field while putting up 10.8 points and grabbing 11.7 rebounds per game. Dallas head coach Rick Carlisle believes his starting center returned as an overall better player than he was in his previous stint with the Mavs.

“He’s a better basketball player now,” coach Carlisle said, according to ESPNDallas.com’s MacMahon. “He’s more skilled, he shoots the ball better, he’s more experienced.”

At this stage of his career, Chandler still possesses great athleticism while being equipped with more game knowledge than ever.

“I’ve grown mentally, understanding the game better,” Chandler said, according to MacMahon. “I have more confidence in myself and what I’m capable of doing out there. I think that’s the biggest thing.”

It’s not particularly surprising that Chandler is doing so well. Other than the situation in New York being relatively toxic in the last couple of years, the style of the team really didn’t fit him.

He had a lot of poor defenders around him and simply couldn’t make up for all the lapses, especially while struggling with injuries. Offensively, he wasn’t involved nearly as much as he’d like.

The 2013-14 Knicks ranked 23rd in the league in passes and 28th in assists per game. They ran a ton of isolation plays for Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith, rather than focusing on pick-and-rolls with Chandler.

Dallas’ offensive system is completely different. Even though the Mavericks primarily look for their guards to attack the basket, most of the players are excellent passers. The Mavs collectively dish out 23.8 assists per game, the seventh-best figure in the league this season. 

Chandler’s screens and rolls to the basket are now an essential part of the offense, rather than an afterthought. Being a lot more involved on both ends of the floor and performing at a high level is also allowing him to be both an emotional and a mental leader.

Whenever Chandler gets a big dunk or blocks a shot, he swings his arms and roars. His energy and passion for the game overflows, and other players can feed off that. Younger players might take offense to his strict approach to holding guys accountable, but on a team full of veterans it’s exactly the type of presence you need. Raymond Felton, who was moved to Dallas in the same trade as Chandler, did a great job putting that type of leadership in perspective.

“If you can’t accept a man getting on you when you’re wrong, but who congratulates you when you’re right, then you’re not about the team,” Felton said, according to DallasNews.com’s Eddie Sefko. “He’s going to get on you. He’s yelled at me plenty of times, but I know he’s doing it the right way.”

The right circumstances are just as important for a basketball player of his talent. The change of scenery has certainly allowed Chandler to perform perhaps better than he ever has before, both on and off the floor. 


All statistics are courtesy of NBA.com, unless otherwise noted.

You can follow me on Twitter at: @VytisLasaitis

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Jay-Z left in disbelief by LeBron’s ridiculous fadeaway

As I’m sure you already know by now, the crowd for last night’s Nets-Cavs game in Brooklyn included Prince William, Princess Kate, Dikembe Mutombo, Jay Z, Beyonce, and other famous faces. While these celebs were busy chatting it up and sharing snacks with each other, there was also a basketball game being played, one in
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Nuggets Injury Update: Danilo Gallinari left Wednesday’s game with sore knee

The Denver Nuggets lost to the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday by the score of 120-112. Wilson Chandler lead the Nuggets with 19 points in the losing effort. The loss dropped the Nuggets to 7-8, second in the Northwest Division. On the injury front, Danilo Gallinari left the game after playing just nine minutes of action with a sore left knee.  Howcheng via Wikimedia CommonsChris Dempsey, who covers the Nuggets for the Denver Post, tweeted the following on Gallinari’s injury last night.Danilo Gallinari has left knee soreness and will not return to this game #Nuggets— Chris Dempsey (@dempseypost) November 27, 2014Gallinari is coming off a torn ACL and reconstructive surgery in January. His knee soreness is in the same knee, so there may be cause for concern. At this point there is no indication if Gallinari will miss any games. Should he be unable to play against the Suns on Friday, expect Chandler and Alonzo Gee to see the bulk of the minutes at small forward. Gallinari, in his sixth NBA season, is averaging

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Bucks’ Jabari Parker Gets Left Hanging by Ref, Ends Up Shaking His Own Hand

Milwaukee Bucks forward Jabari Parker is just a rookie, but he knows how to recover from a rough moment like a seasoned veteran.

As the clock wound down in the Bucks’ 103-86 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday, Parker went to shake a referee’s hand. However, the ref was all business.

Luckily, the first-year player was able to think quickly and shook his own hand. Crisis averted.

Parker had 11 points and seven rebounds in the game.


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Kobe Bryant Tries to Be Hero, Air-Balls Deep 3 with 6 Seconds Left on Shot Clock

Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant has dealt with some serious injuries over the past couple of seasons, but his confidence has clearly not taken a hit.

With plenty of time left on the shot clock against the Dallas Mavericks on Friday, Kobe decided to pull up for a three-pointer from 35 feet away. Not surprisingly, the shot was just a bit short.

Kobe finished with 17 points on 6-of-22 shooting as the Lakers went on to lose, 140-106, moving to 3-10 on the year.


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Grizzlies’ Courtney Lee Makes Buzzer-Beater Layup to Beat Kings with .3 Left

The Sacramento Kings had this game won. Trailing the Memphis Grizzlies, 109-108, with six seconds left, the Kings’ DeMarcus Cousins hit two free throws. After Memphis’ Zach Randolph missed a seven-foot jumper, Ben McLemore came down with the rebound. The Grizzlies fouled McLemore, who had an opportunity to further secure the win. He missed both free throws, and Randolph grabbed the rebound. 

.3 seconds left.

No way it could be done. No chance the Grizzlies could score with that little time remaining, and a long inbounds pass coming. No way they could stage a 28-9 comeback run over the last eight minutes to win the game.

So much for that.

Final: Grizzlies 111, Kings 110.


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Marcus Smart Leaves Game On Stretcher After Left Leg Injury (GIF)

BOSTON — A promising young rookie season took a major hit Friday when Celtics guard Marcus Smart was forced to leave the game with a lower left injury.
Smart drove to the hoop on a fastbreak in the fourth quarter when Indiana Pacers guard A.J. Price corralled him around the arms and yanked Smart to the ground. Replays showed Smart’s left ankle bend violently, and he immediately grabbed his left shin.
The severity of Smart’s injury was not immediately known.
GIF: Marcus Smart rolls left ankle pic.twitter.com/tk4wiMMRH6— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) November 08, 2014
He remained on the ground for several minutes, in obvious pain, before a stretcher was finally brought out to cart him off.
Doctors attending to Marcus Smart (CSN screenshot) http://t.co/XPuoVZxlKl— Chris Forsberg (@ESPNForsberg) November 08, 2014
Teammates surrounded Smart in concern. Jared Sullinger and Evan Turner both directed long stares toward the Pacers bench while Smart was being attended to by Celtics medical staff.
Teammates sur

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Durant: I left Team USA because of Paul George injury

It was more than fatigue that led Kevin Durant to withdraw from Team USA this past summer.
The Oklahoma City Thunder superstar somewhat unexpectedly pulled out of the 2014 FIBA World Cup, citing physical and mental exhaustion as his reasons for not playing in Spain, but it appears the horrific injury Paul George suffered played a large factor in his decision.
In his upcoming HBO Sports documentary “The Offseason: Kevin Durant”  which will premiere Tuesday at 10 p.m., he reveals that watching George break his right leg during a Team USA scrimmage rattled him and influenced him to withdraw, according to Michael Lee of the Washington Post.
“It took everything out of me seeing that,” Durant told friend Randy Williams and a Nike executive at his camp, per the Washington Post. “Everything I had to play for Team USA, that injury stripped it away from me.”
Durant admitted that it “didn’t feel right” to play following the injury to George, adding that although he termed it a “freak accident

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