Kevin Durant Womens Jersey

DALLAS — Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle made a point to call out the Oklahoma City Thunder — and specifically Kevin Durant(Kevin Durant Jersey) — for taking unnecessary cheap shots that led to confrontations during Dallas’ lopsided home loss in Game 3 of their first-round playoff series Thursday night.

“There were four, what I would categorize as non-basketball physical escalations that were initiated by them, including one intentional, unprovoked elbow at the free throw line, which I didn’t understand,” Carlisle said Friday. “And I’ve never seen a guy like Kevin Durant ever do that to a player. Then ultimately, that led to two more escalations between the teams, the fact that that was missed. I’m concerned about that. There’s no place for that in our game.”

Carlisle was referring to a Durant elbow that hit reserve center Salah Mejri in the chest while they were fighting for rebounding position after a free throw during the third quarter. The blow caused Mejri to fall to the ground, and he animatedly complained to the officials about the elbow during a timeout seconds later.

The ensuing possession ended with double technical fouls called against Mavs guard Raymond Felton and Thunder center Steven Adams with 7:19 remaining in the third quarter.

Late Friday afternoon, the NBA announced that Durant has been assessed a technical foul for a “physical taunt” as a result of his elbow to Mejri’s chest.

Felton, meanwhile, was angered after being elbowed in the face by Adams when they were boxing out under the basket. Adams, a 7-footer, laughed when confronted by the 6-foot-1 Felton.

“I’m not going to let you just elbow me in my face and I let it go,” Felton told ESPN after the game Thursday. “Whatever. I’ll take a technical or whatever, fine or whatever it is. I’m not going to back down for nothing. I’m definitely not going to let anybody hit me in my face freely for no reason. I’m just down there trying to battle a big 7-footer for a rebound and he elbows me to my face.

“Like, you’re that much bigger than me, what you need to elbow a little guy like me to get a rebound? I didn’t like it, so I let him know that. But whatever, it’s over with now. I ain’t trippin’ no more. You can smile and laugh all you want to. You ain’t just gonna hit me in my face and think everything’s sweet. But like I said, I’m gonna let bygones be bygones.”

The other confrontation occurred later in the third quarter, after Thunder shooting guard Andre Roberson lowered his shoulder and ran over Mavs star Dirk Nowitzki, who was setting a screen. Nowitzki got up and shouted his displeasure at Roberson.

“I didn’t like how he ran through the screen right there,” said Nowitzki, who found humor in the situation because he played with Roberson’s father two decades ago with a German pro team. “It’s the second time it happened, but that’s really it.”

Carlisle wanted to make sure the issues were raised again Friday, repeatedly referring to the Thunder as the initiators. Oklahoma City holds a 2-1 edge in the series entering Game 4 in Dallas on Saturday night.

“We’re not looking to do it unless it’s within the rules,” Carlisle said. “But there were some things that I know are going to be looked at today, that going into Game 4, we’re going to be ready for.”

Womens Stephen Curry Jersey

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER

1. Stephen Curry(Stephen Curry Jersey)
2. Kawhi Leonard
3. LeBron James
4. Kevin Durant
5. Chris Paul

The only drama comes in the last four spots, which means it really doesn’t matter much for historical purposes. Curry has been the best and most valuable player in the NBA — a glitch in the system who transformed a sport. Everything about the Warriors — their style, their identity, their strut — emanates from his historically unprecedented shooting.

There are seven candidates for the last four spots: the four listed, plus Russell Westbrook, Kyle Lowry and Draymond Green. You could build an argument for James Harden, carrying the wheezing wraith of Houston on his back, but he showed up out of shape and played zippo defense for a would-be contender about to limp into the No. 8 spot with a win over the tanking Kings.

Lowry became a superstar, always in hunched motion, waiting to spring into open space when you take a breath. He’s just not as good as these other guys.

Green is the firing brain circuitry of perhaps the greatest team ever, nearly as important to Golden State’s top-five defense as Curry is to their all-time offense. He would be a star anywhere. But you could imagine these Warriors playing good defense without Green; they did under Mark Jackson, using a more traditional scheme. You cannot imagine Golden State with a league-average point guard in Curry’s place. The Warriors would have to reinvent their entire offense, and they might not be very good.

The Warriors’ offense falls apart without Curry, and for the second straight season, opponents outscored Golden State — by a huge margin — with Curry on the bench. Green and Curry lean on each other, and lift the team together, but the value gap between them is large enough to shove Green off this ballot.

That left Durant, Westbrook and Paul for two spots. Paul can’t match Westbrook’s gaudy triple-double numbers, or turn a game on its head with 45 seconds of snarling athleticism. Other teams fear Westbrook. They respect Paul, but they don’t shudder at the possibility of him smashing through their entire team — and the concept of normal basketball — for two or three pivotal minutes.

But on a night-to-night basis, Paul is the more calming, precise player, and he has to be on the ballot after keeping the Clippers afloat amid Blake Griffin’s injury melodrama.

That leaves an impossible choice between Westbrook and Durant — a choice that almost seems unfair given the Thunder’s hit-or-miss supporting cast. Both will make a lot of ballots, and that’s fine.

Durant gets the nod by the hair on my chinny-chin-chin. There isn’t much difference between them statistically, and Durant reclaimed some control of the Thunder offense once Billy Donovan started staggering the Westbrook/Durant minutes in February. Durant seized more possessions, dished more dimes and drove Oklahoma City to a better scoring margin in his non-Westbrook minutes than in the opposite scenario, per NBA.com research.

He’s also a better, more versatile defender — quick enough to guard any wing, and so long, he can dart in from the strong side to snuff a drive and veer back to a sharp shooter without conceding a thing. Both guys can defend up a position, but Durant sliding to power forward opens more lineup possibilities than Westbrook muscling a shooting guard.

Westbrook remains a manic gambler who submarines too many possessions with reckless choices. When two bets in a row hit, it looks spectacular, and we laud Westbrook’s ability to bend the game to his will. We don’t do a good enough job noting the other three or four bets that come up snake eyes, leaving shooters open and hanging teammates out to dry. Westbrook’s decision-making at money time can be scattershot.

Westbrook is incredible, and he might finish in the top three once the votes are in. Not here.

A word on the Leonard-LeBron debate: LeBron at full throttle is the better player, and perhaps still the best player in the league. Both engineer decent shots from nothing, but only LeBron can steamroll to the rim almost whenever he wants. LeBron resides in another universe as a passer. LeBron can be the fastest all-court defender in the league when he wishes; remember, he outperformed computerized ghost defenders programmed to be perfect!

But from start to finish, Leonard had the better season, for the better team. He doesn’t take possessions off. He doesn’t snap at teammates or manufacture chaos with calculated, passive-aggressive social media fits. For all the angst over whether Leonard can generate offense when everything else stalls out in crunch time, he ranks among the league’s best one-on-one scorers — from both the perimeter and the post, per Synergy Sports research.

He’s not LeBron in those situations. No one is. Leonard doesn’t think, or pass, two steps ahead of the defense, and he’s not strong enough to bulldoze his way to the rim every damn time. But he’s plenty good, with a jumper that clicked as LeBron’s broke apart, and he has been the league’s second-best player.

Kobe Bryant Womens Jersey

It’s the shortest road trip in the NBA, but when the Lakers visit the Clippers on Tuesday, it’ll mark a milestone of sorts: Kobe Bryant(Kobe Bryant Jersey)’s final road game at Staples Center.

The retiring Bryant has played 27 games as the visitor in his home arena since the Clippers and Lakers began sharing Staples Center in the 1999-2000 season. Those games helped him set an NBA record: the most regular-season games played at one arena by a single player, a milestone he accomplished Sunday.

Bryant has faced the Clippers 67 times in his career entering tonight, racking up 47 wins and 20 losses. His career high in points against the Clippers is 50, done twice: once at home (April 12, 2007) and once on the “road” (Jan. 7, 2006). That’s a far cry from his first game against the Clippers, when Bryant scored just 4 points in 7 minutes of action as a rookie playing just his eighth NBA game.

While tonight is Bryant’s final road game against the Clippers, it might not be the final time he faces them, since the two teams are scheduled to play again Wednesday, with the Lakers designated as the home team for that game. That’s slated to be Bryant’s penultimate home game, with his final Staples Center appearance coming in the season finale against the Jazz on April 13.