LeBron James Hits 30K Points, but LaMarcus Aldridge, Spurs Beat Cavaliers

The Cleveland Cavaliers couldn’t have asked for better conditions to snap out of a slump Tuesday night. 

For starters, the San Antonio Spurs were without Kawhi Leonard (quadriceps), Pau Gasol (wrist sprain), Rudy Gay (right heel bursitis) and Manu Ginobili (bruised thigh). On top of that, they hadn’t eclipsed 90 points in either of their last two outings. 

And yet, the defending Eastern Conference champions weren’t able to take advantage.  

Fresh off a 148-124 drubbing at the hands of the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday afternoon, the Cavaliers coughed up a terrific opportunity to find their footing and fell to the Spurs 114-102 at AT&T Center. 

    

This article will be updated to provide more information on this story as it becomes available.

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Gordon Hayward Could Begin Traveling with Team in March After Ankle Injury

Gordon Hayward‘s first season with the Boston Celtics only lasted five minutes, but he could at least be there for emotional support toward the end of the season.

Head coach Brad Stevens said Tuesday that the small forward could start traveling with the team in March, according to Brian Robb of Boston Sports Journal.

Hayward was also in attendance for Tuesday’s game against the Los Angeles Lakers, according to Chris Forsberg of ESPN.

The 27-year-old signed a four-year deal with Boston in the offseason but dislocated his left ankle and fractured his left tibia during the first game of the season.

He has slowly been progressing through his rehab, with his wife, Robyn, posting a video on Instagram of Hayward shooting three-pointers in an empty gym.

Hayward said in December he was “open” to returning to the court before the season ends, per Kyle Hightower of the Associated Press (via NBA.com).

While it would appear to be a long shot for him to see game action, even in the playoffs, being able to travel with the team is an encouraging sign. Even if he doesn’t play, simply providing support from the bench could represent a morale boost for the Celtics.

Boston is in the midst of a three-game losing streak, but it still has the best record in the Eastern Conference at 34-13 entering Tuesday. With the Raptors remaining close behind and the Cavaliers always a threat, the Celtics could use all the help they could get as they try to bring home a championship.

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LeBron James Becomes 7th Player in NBA History to Score 30K Points

LeBron James became the seventh player in NBA history to join the 30,000-point club when he hit a two-point jumper from the left wing in the first quarter of the Cleveland Cavaliers‘ showdown against the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday night.

The only other players who have eclipsed 30,000 points are Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan, Wilt Chamberlain and Dirk Nowitzki.

“I’m joining elite company,” James said, according to the Associated Press’ Tom Withers. “When I walk into the 30,000-point club, they’re going to look at me like, ‘What are you doing here?’ I ain’t supposed to be there.”

Nowitzki, though, was quick to welcome James to the fraternity: 

LeBron (33 years, 24 days) also took the torch from Bryant (34 years, 104 days) as the youngest player in league history to hit 30K.

“It’s not up there in the goals I set out for myself to be in this league,” James said, per Withers. “I definitely looked at the list and saw the list and seen of all the guys that have played in this league, and the number of guys that have played in this league, it’s definitely a select few. It’s a select company. So it’s special in that right.”

James’ next order of business will be passing the 39-year-old Nowitzki for sixth on the all-time scoring list.

That achievement may not come this season since the midway point has passed and Nowitzki is closing in on 31,000 points, but the torrid pace James has stayed on through his 15th season suggests he will fly past the German sharpshooter with ease.

Once Nowitzki is in the rearview mirror, James will set his sights on leapfrogging Chamberlain, who’s perched in the No. 5 spot with 31,419 points.

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Metrics 101: Biggest Snubs from NBA All-Star Reserves Announcement

Your 2017-18 NBA All-Stars have arrived. 

We’ve already pored over the 10 starters, but the reserves from each conference were revealed Thursday, bringing us one step closer to figuring out who’s actually going to play for each side during the captain-controlled festivities.

As officially unveiled on TNT’s broadcast, LaMarcus Aldridge, Jimmy Butler, Draymond Green, Damian Lillard, Klay Thompson, Karl-Anthony Towns and Russell Westbrook are coming out of the Western Conference, while the East sends Bradley Beal, Al Horford, Kevin Love, Kyle Lowry, Victor Oladipo, Kristaps Porzingis and John Wall

Naturally, there are some snubs. The NBA has too deep a pool of talent to limit the worthy All-Stars to just 24 selections, so it’s now our job to identify the players with the biggest gripes. They aren’t necessarily more deserving than the chosen players (some are), but they have legitimate cases for inclusion all the same and would be featured if the league ever mercifully expanded rosters. 

To determine these overlookages in objective fashion—limited to six apiece from each conference—and keep the focus solely on what’s come to pass during the 2017-18 campaign, we’re turning to Player Score, which is calculated in the same manner we used to determine the league’s best Big Threes earlier this season. 

We looked at all 208 players who have logged at least 800 minutes thus far and then pulled their scores in three different overarching metrics: NBA Math’s total points added (TPA), ESPN.com’s real plus/minus wins (RPM Wins) and player efficiency rating (PER). The first two are different looks at volume/efficiency combinations, while the latter focuses on per-possession effectiveness and favors offensive production—something the world typically thinks of as necessary for All-Star inclusion. Volume and time on the court matter more here than they might in other evaluations.

To standardize between three metrics that operate on drastically different scales, we found the z-scores in each category and summed them to find a player’s total score. That’s the number you’ll see parenthetically included for contributors throughout this article, and it’s all that matters for this particular countdown. 

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NBA All-Star Game 2018: Early Mock Draft for Team LeBron vs. Team Stephen

The 2018 NBA All-Stars have officially been determined. But for the first time ever, the rosters are not.

LeBron James and Stephen Curry will do that at some point over the next 48 hours before the reveal of their full rosters Thursday night on TNT. The two leading vote-getters in their respective conferences are captains in the new All-Star format, which has them pick the remaining 22 All-Stars playground-style.

The only rules are they must select the eight starters with their first four picks. After that, it’s a free-for-all that will allow us to see how James and Curry would like to build their own fantasy rosters.

Unfortunately, we will not get to see any of it. The league decided to not air the draft, which means we’ll ever know the true order of how things went down unless it’s leaked. 

Fortunately, that allows us time for wild and baseless speculation. So here’s a look at a mock draft of how things could go down before Thursday’s reveal. 

        

The Starters 

1. Team LeBron: Kevin Durant, SF, Golden State Warriors

On a night-to-night basis, Durant has been the best player in basketball this season. He’s perhaps the most effortless scorer the NBA has ever seen, and playing in Golden State has allowed him to more consistently put forth a concentrated effort on defense.

Durant’s the MVP favorite and is a no-brainer for the top pick here. LeBron’s going to get to play with KD in a non-Olympic environment. Either way, no other player will or should go No. 1.

         

2. Team Stephen: Giannis Antetokounmpo, SF, Milwaukee Bucks

This comes down to Antetokounmpo, Davis and Harden. The choice here isn’t necessarily about the best player—that should be Harden. Nor is it about the most potentially dominant player—that would be Davis.

If Curry and James are drafting based on who would be the most fun to play with—a fair assumption—Antetokounmpo is the pick. Languishing on yet another mediocre team in Milwaukee, Giannis is a dream teammate for a Curry or LeBron. They’ll never play with the Greek Freak on the international level and likely won’t get a chance outside of All-Star Games.

Curry pulling the trigger here would allow them to play together for perhaps the only time. 

       

3. Team LeBron: James Harden, SG, Houston Rockets

If LeBron is leaving Cleveland this summer, the only destination that makes basketball sense is Houston. The Rockets have one of his best friends (Chris Paul), an MVP candidate (Harden), a great coach (Mike D’Antoni), a respected general manager (Daryl Morey) and an infrastructure of other pieces that may allow them to even add a fourth star.

I’m giving the nod to Harden over Davis here just to add to the conspiracy theory. James gets a chance to play with Harden, and LeBron-Durant-Harden is arguably the top three in MVP voting in some order at this point. 

         

4. Team Stephen: Anthony Davis, PF/C, New Orleans Pelicans

The last of the clear top four in this class, Davis remains on the cusp of basketball dominance while wasting another prime season in New Orleans. He’s averaging 26.7 points, 10.5 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game while stretching himself more consistently beyond the three-point line and acting as one of the league’s best rim protectors.

It’s hard to believe he doesn’t turn 25 until March. Davis has the potential to go off for video game-like stats on a nightly basis, as evidenced by his 93-point, 33-rebound outburst over a two-game stretch against the Knicks and Celtics earlier this month. 

       

5. Team LeBron: Kyrie Irving, PG, Boston Celtics

Hehehe.

       

6. Team Stephen: Joel Embiid, C, Philadelphia 76ers

Continuing with the fun theme, there is no more entertaining player in the league right now than Embiid. Finally healthy after playing 31 total games in his first three NBA seasons, the Process is completely paying off. The Sixers play like a potential conference finalist when Embiid is on the floor and flounder when he sits; he’s a two-way fulcrum who can do everything, even if his decision-making sometimes borders on boneheaded.

Hanging out with Embiid in the All-Star locker room alone would be worth taking him higher than this spot.

       

7. Team LeBron: DeMarcus Cousins, C, New Orleans Pelicans 

James doesn’t have any natural centers on his roster at this point. Cousins is the only big remaining among the starters. There doesn’t seem to be much left to discuss here.

A Boogie vs. AD matchup could be fun to watch down low. 

        

8. Team Stephen: DeMar DeRozan, SG, Toronto Raptors

DeRozan is the last player left. And Curry needs a starting 2. Funny how that worked out. 

       

Final Starting Lineups

Team LeBron

BC: Kyrie Irving

BC: James Harden

FC: Kevin Durant

FC: LeBron James

FC: DeMarcus Cousins

        

Team Stephen

BC: Stephen Curry

BC: DeMar DeRozan

FC: Giannis Antetokounmpo 

FC: Anthony Davis

FC: Joel Embiid

        

The Reserves

9. Team LeBron: Russell Westbrook, PG, Oklahoma City Thunder

10. Team Stephen: Draymond Green, PF, Golden State Warriors

11. Team LeBron: Jimmy Butler, SG, Minnesota Timberwolves

12. Team Stephen: Klay Thompson, SG, Golden State Warriors 

13. Team LeBron: Victor Oladipo, SG, Indiana Pacers

14. Team Stephen: Karl-Anthony Towns, C, Minnesota Timberwolves

15. Team LeBron: Kristaps Porzingis, PF, New York Knicks

16. Team Stephen: Al Horford, C, Boston Celtics

17. Team LeBron: Kyle Lowry, PG, Toronto Raptors

18. Team Stephen: Bradley Beal, SG, Washington Wizards

19. Team LeBron: LaMarcus Aldridge, PF, San Antonio Spurs

20. Team Stephen: Damian Lillard, PG, Portland Trail Blazers

21. Team LeBron: Kevin Love, PF, Cleveland Cavaliers

22: Team Stephen: John Wall, PG, Washington Wizards

Let’s paint a scene. A conference call. Steph Curry. LeBron James. Adam Silver. The three men get done doing the easy part, chopping up the starters and filling out their lineups.

Now comes the awkward part. Curry, wanting to avoid any tension in his locker room, asks James if he minds if he takes Draymond Green and Klay Thompson to keep as much of his team together as possible. James accepts. 

Curry, in exchange, offers to give Kevin Love to LeBron as a freebie. Dead silence. After about 30 seconds, Silver and Curry begin to think James dropped the call. But he’s still there. Contemplating. After what seems like an eternity, he takes a deep breath and goes, “Nah, give me Westbrook and Jimmy Butler.”

And so it goes down the line, with Curry time and again avoiding to take Love in deference to James while LeBron is side-eyeing the phone. Just hoping Curry takes the decision off his hands.

They get down to the final two picks, and James sighs, muttering out of the corner of his mouth says “IguessgivemeKevin.” Silver and Curry ask him to repeat himself, and he does, finally selecting Love with his final pick.

The draft list comes out. Love is on James’ team. Green and Thompson are on Curry’s. The world is none the wiser. It looks like James has been the dutiful teammate, but the three men on that conference call know otherwise.

And this, my friends, is the petty drama we’ve been robbed of by the league not televising this draft.  

        

Final Projected Rosters

Team LeBron

BC: Kyrie Irving

BC: James Harden

FC: Kevin Durant

FC: LeBron James

FC: DeMarcus Cousins

Bench: Russell Westbrook

Bench: Jimmy Butler

Bench: Victor Oladipo

Bench: Kristaps Porzingis

Bench: Kyle Lowry

Bench: LaMarcus Aldridge

Bench: Kevin Love

      

Team Stephen

BC: Stephen Curry

BC: DeMar DeRozan

FC: Giannis Antetokounmpo 

FC: Anthony Davis

FC: Joel Embiid

Bench: Draymond Green

Bench: Klay Thompson

Bench: Karl-Anthony Towns

Bench: Al Horford

Bench: Bradley Beal

Bench: Damian Lillard

Bench: John Wall

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NBA All-Star Game 2018 Draft: TV Schedule for LeBron vs. Steph Rosters Reveal

LeBron James and Stephen Curry are officially on the clock.

The reserves for the 2018 NBA All-Star Game were revealed Tuesday during the broadcast of NBA Tip-Off on TNT. The starters were already unveiled during Thursday’s broadcast of NBA Tip-Off, so James and Curry have their full selection of players for the upcoming draft.

As the top vote-getters in their respective conferences, the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors stars will serve as captains and pick teams in the game’s new format this year.

According to the All-Star Game’s official Twitter account, the Team LeBron and Team Stephen rosters will be revealed at 7 p.m. ET on Thursday on NBA on TNT.

Unfortunately for those who wanted to see how the proverbial sausage will be made, the draft will not be televised. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said airing the draft live would have created “a sense from the players that it put them in an impossible position” while appearing on NBA TV (h/t The Starters Twitter account).

That won’t stop fans from guessing some of the selections. With that in mind, here is a look at the starters and reserves, as well as a predicted player for Team LeBron and Team Stephen.

              

East Starters

LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers

Kyrie Irving, Boston Celtics

Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks

Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers

DeMar DeRozan, Toronto Raptors

            

West Starters

Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors

James Harden, Houston Rockets

Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors

Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans

DeMarcus Cousins, New Orleans Pelicans

           

East Reserves

 

Al Horford, Boston Celtics

Kevin Love, Cleveland Cavaliers

Kyle Lowry, Toronto Raptors

John Wall, Washington Wizards

Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards

Victor Oladipo, Indiana Pacers

Kristaps Porzingis, New York Knicks

          

West Reserves

Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder

Klay Thompson, Golden State Warriors

Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors

LaMarcus Aldridge, San Antonio Spurs

Jimmy Butler, Minnesota Timberwolves

Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers

Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves

            

Predicted Pick for Stephen Curry: Kevin Durant

Sure, Curry drafting Durant will be viewed as a loyalty selection considering they are both Golden State Warriors. It makes sense for Curry not to ruffle any feathers when he plays with one of the best players in the league, and Durant fits the bill.

However, it’s not as if drafting someone like Durant doesn’t have its basketball reasons as well.

The reigning NBA Finals MVP is a matchup nightmare and can consistently drill the uncontested threes players will likely find themselves facing in the middle portion of the All-Star Game or finish in the lane. Having a four-time scoring champion in a game that figures to feature plenty of points is an ideal strategy.

Durant has also thrived on defense this season and is averaging 2.1 blocks per game while holding opponents to 5.3 percent worse shooting than their normal averages, per NBA.com. He can unleash some of that stronger defense in the closing minutes when pride kicks in and there is an elevated focus on that side of the ball.

There is also something to be said for the familiarity Durant and Curry have from playing alongside each other, especially in a game featuring so many different pieces.

               

Predicted Pick for LeBron James: Russell Westbrook

The All-Star Game often assumes a defense-optional tone for extended stretches and having someone who can take a rebound at one end, blow past stationary defenders in the open court and unleash some of the dunks the fans are always looking for in this contest is beneficiary.

Few, if any, are better at doing just that than the defending league MVP Westbrook.

He was also the MVP at the 2015 and 2016 All-Star Games, and James will give a nod to that impressive recent history at this event with his selection.

The fact Curry is picking on the other side also could play a factor given some of the established tension between the Warriors and Oklahoma City Thunder. For one, Durant left the Thunder to join the Warriors after nine seasons in Oklahoma City, and the two sides were also involved in a scuffle during a game in March.

Curry also said James Harden was his pick for MVP last season when asked by Dan Patrick to pick someone not on the Warriors (via Dan Feldman of Pro Basketball Talk), which was notable because Westbrook won the award while averaging a triple-double.

Westbrook responded “Who’s he?” when told about Curry’s MVP comments, via Faizal Khamisa of Sportsnet.

Long story short, Curry probably won’t be selecting Westbrook—who also plays point guard like himself—any time soon. James will jump at the chance and take a ball-handler so he can play in space more and be on the receiving end of Westbrook’s alley-oop lobs.

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NBA All-Star Rosters 2018: Starters, Reserves and Reaction

The complete pool of participants for the 2018 NBA All-Star Game has been set after the head coaches’ reserve picks were unveiled Tuesday evening. 

New York Knicks power forward Kristaps Porzingis and Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook headline the Eastern and Western Conference benches, respectively, which are each comprised of two backcourt players, three frontcourt players and two wild-card selections. 

Here’s a look at the full list of selections for both conferences: 

Eastern Conference

  • Starter: Kyrie Irving, G, Boston Celtics
  • Starter: DeMar DeRozan, G, Toronto Raptors
  • Starter: LeBron James, F, Cleveland Cavaliers (Captain)
  • Starter: Giannis Antetokounmpo, F, Milwaukee Bucks
  • Starter: Joel Embiid, C, Philadelphia 76ers
  • ReserveKyle Lowry, G, Toronto Raptors
  • Reserve: Bradley Beal, G, Washington Wizards
  • Reserve: John Wall, G, Washington Wizards
  • Reserve: Victor Oladipo, G, Indiana Pacers
  • Reserve: Kevin Love, F, Cleveland Cavaliers
  • ReserveKristaps Porzingis, F, New York Knicks
  • Reserve: Al Horford, C, Boston Celtics

  

Western Conference

  • Starter: Stephen Curry, G, Golden State Warriors (Captain)
  • Starter: James Harden, G, Houston Rockets
  • Starter: Kevin Durant, F, Golden State Warriors
  • Starter: Anthony Davis, F, New Orleans Pelicans
  • Starter: DeMarcus Cousins, C, New Orleans Pelicans
  • Reserve: Damian Lillard, G, Portland Trail Blazers
  • Reserve: Klay Thompson, G, Golden State Warriors
  • Reserve: Jimmy Butler, G, Minnesota Timberwolves
  • Reserve: Russell Westbrook, G, Oklahoma City Thunder
  • Reserve: LaMarcus Aldridge, F, San Antonio Spurs
  • ReserveDraymond Green, F, Golden State Warriors
  • ReserveKarl-Anthony Towns, C, Minnesota Timberwolves

 

Arguably the most notable reserve selections were Golden State Warriors teammates Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. Thanks to their nods, the defending champions became the first team in league history to boast four All-Stars in consecutive seasons. 

The most glaring omission, as ESPN.com’s Royce Young pointed out, was Thunder forward Paul George

Incidentally, Victor Oladipo—who was shipped to the Indiana Pacers as part of a package for George in June—was named to his first All-Star Game. Entering Tuesday night, the 25-year-old is averaging a career-high 24.2 points per game on 48.4 percent shooting from the field and 40.2 percent from three. 

With reserves finalized, the two All-Star captains—Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James and Warriors point guard Stephen Curry—will choose their respective squads from the remaining 22 players available in a playground-style draft. 

The order of the captains’ picks will not be made public, as commissioner Adam Silver has stated, but Curry has gone on the record and said he will select teammate Kevin Durant with his first pick if James doesn’t scoop him up first, according to the San Francisco Chronicle‘s Connor Letourneau

Curry also expressed interest in playing with Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo a year after the Greek Freak put him on a poster in the midseason exhibition. 

“Giannis is probably—he dunked on me last year—so I maybe have to get him on my team so that don’t happen again,” he told reporters. “There are certain guys you see from afar, you play against them a couple times a year. Maybe a different appreciation if they’re on your team as well just for that little 48-minute showcase.”

James, meanwhile, has been adamant that he will pick a roster to try and come out on top after he was on the losing side the last three years. 

“I’m trying to win,” he said, according to Cleveland.com’s Joe Vardon

“This is the reason they did this format to make it very competitive. The All-Star game hasn’t been what it should be the last few years. I’m going to take it upon myself and obviously the rest of the guys to go out there and play the game the right way and compete. Our fans deserve it.”

James and Curry’s finalized rosters will be revealed Thursday evening at 7 p.m. ET on TNT. 

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