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Update: LeBron James returns to game with monster dunk

NBA

Yeah, LeBron will be fine.

After leaving the game with an apparent injury, James returned soon after with a huge dunk that earned him a technical foul.

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In the third quarter, James left Thursday night's game against Miami with an apparent left leg injury in the third quarter. James jumped into the crowd trying to save a loose ball.

The Heat held on to win the game, 101-91. James finished with 30 points and eight assists.

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Report: Cavs assistant Tyronn Lue calls timeouts behind David Blatt's back

NBA

The good news for the Cavaliers: Cleveland would make the NBA Playoffs if the regular season ended today, and Lebron James returned after missing eight games with a strong performance that included 33 points, seven rebounds and five assists. 

The bad news: oh boy. Everyone is reacting (and mostly overreacting) to James shoving coach David Blatt  during last night's 107-100 loss in Phoenix, as the Cavs suffered their sixth consecutive defeat. Cleveland has lost nine of its last ten to fall under the .500 mark on the season.

MORE: James 'protecting' his coach  | Cavs preseason predictions

But the problems and frustration have been building for months, according to ESPN's Brian Windhorst :

"They see players appearing to run different plays than the bench calls, see assistant coach Tyronn Lue calling timeouts literally behind Blatt's back during games, and hear Cavs players openly talking about coaching issues with opposing players and personnel. Not once, not twice, but frequently over the past several months."

While Kevin Love has stated he does not plan to opt out of his contract , he continues to struggle to find his place in the Cleveland's system. 

"I've seen Kevin fall down with the ball more times this season than the rest of his career combined because he's always in positions where he's uncomfortable夜网论坛 and he's forced into trying to make some sort of move to get a shot, and that has never been his game," one[......]

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LeBron, Kobe enjoy going head-to-head once again

NBA

LeBron James and Kobe Bryant knew the situation Thursday night, knew that their rivalry was one step closer to ending. 

James, as is usually the case, came out the winner in the game, but the fact that they were able to go toe to toe once more was not lost on either man.

MORE: Thirty photos for LeBron's 30th | Kobe in 'Let It Go' parody | Iggy and Swaggy's Kiss Cam PDA 

Their postgame hug was a moment for the cameras and the fans and, at its core, for the two men themselves.

"It's always fun, a pleasure," James said, according to The Associated Press, after the Cavaliers' 109-102 victory over the Lakers at Staples Center. "It's two of the best competitors this game has probably ever seen, and to be on the same floor with him, somebody I looked up to when I was a child growing up, seeing him go straight from high school to the NBA, it's fun, it's great. I hated him being out of the NBA last year because of injury, and it's fun having him back."

"If we were contending for a championship, I'd be my same moody self, but right now I tend to have a little more perspective, knowing I really won't get a chance to play against him for much longer. So you want to enjoy it," Bryant said, per the AP.

James, who's still working his way back from back and knee issues, carried the Cavs in the fourth quarter and finished with 36 points. Bryant scored just 19, but he set a career high with 17 assists.

He also got in some trash ta[......]

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OKC Thunder forward Kevin Durant hurts elbow on big dunk

NBA

Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant has spent more time off the court for injuries than he has on it this season, and it appeared he was headed toward another injury on Tuesday night.

In the Thunder's 94-86 win, Durant grabbed a steal and took off for a one-handed dunk. Durant took a hard fall夜网论坛 on his right elbow after the dunk, putting more fear into players and fans of the team.

MORE: Ernie Johnson asks Westbrook 'execution' question | Thompson expects All-Star bid | All-time scorers

Durant has since spoken with reporters, explaining that he takes hard falls often and plans to play on Wednesday when the Thunder take on the Washington Wizards in his hometown.

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Pelicans' Holiday to miss games with leg injury

NBA

The Pelicans will be without their starting point guard for up to a month. 

The team announced Wednesday that Jrue Holiday will miss two to four weeks with a stress reaction in his lower right leg. 

MORE: Nike's Black History Month collection | NBA Dunk Contest contestants announced | Cavs' Marion to retire at season's end

Holiday injured his right tibia last season, which ultimately forced surgery and limited him to 34 games. Now in his sixth NBA season, Holiday is averaging 15.2 points and 7.1 assists in 33.7 minutes per game. 

The latest leg injury occurred in the Pelicans' Jan. 12 game against the Celtics. He has missed the Pelicans' past four games.  

Given the updated prognosis, the earliest Holiday could return to the floor 夜网论坛is the Pelicans' Feb. 4 matchup with the Thunder in New Orleans.

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Warriors 'ain't even that good?' With Rockets sweep, GS sends message

NBA

OAKLAND, Calif. — Over the weekend, Rockets guard James Harden was heard to tell his teammates in a huddle before facing the Warriors that Golden State, sporting the best record in the league, “ain’t even that good.”

Harden was, of course, trying to motivate his team, which had already lost to Golden State twice at the time. It didn’t work: The Warriors scored 131 points, shot 54.9 percent from the field and won by 25.

MORE: All-Star uniform | Green as starter makes Lee most dangerous Dub | Klay wants All-Star spot | Steph's mom makes him pay for turnovers

On Wednesday, the Rockets had their final shot at redemption — after video of Harden’s “ain’t even that good” quote surfaced. Once again, things did not go well for Houston, as the Warriors built a 30-point lead and withstood a late run to win at Oracle Arena, 126-113.

That runs Golden State's record to 34-6, making the Warriors one of 10 teams in NBA history to get off to such a start.

As for Harden, Warriors coach Steve Kerr said he was not exactly using those huddle sentiments as a motivational tactic. In fact, he said before the game that , he was not even aware of what Harden had said.

“I didn’t know about that,” Kerr said. “If you believed everything you heard in the pregame huddles, you’d be surprised at some of the stuff that is said. I hope we don’t have a mic on our pre夜网论坛game huddles. Let’s get rid of that. I don’t pay much attention to that.”

But after[......]

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Making case for 4 Atlanta Hawks to make the All-Star Game

NBA

The Atlanta Hawks are no longer the prized secret possession of basketball diehards. With stifling pressure on defense, quick movement in transition and beautiful passing in the halfcourt, the Hawks have gone from the NBA's best-kept secret to its most sought after Leag夜网论坛ue Pass team in a ridiculously short period of time.

The Hawks, currently sitting at 34-8 on the season, haven't lost a game since the day after Christmas. They've won 25 of their last 27, and are beating all of the NBA's best teams as they go along. This team, once a reasonably legitimate question mark, has made it clear that they're a very, very real threat to win the entire thing.

MORE: Budenholzer to coach East | Korver's first dunk in three years | LeBron chasing Allen

One of the best parts of this team for hoops junkies could be the most frustrating for casual fans. The Hawks employ a number of good players, but no one on the roster is considered a superstar, and most title contenders of years past have had one singular talent. Instead, Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer has worked out a brilliant offense, in which its best players' premiere skills are accentuated within the system.

The process, in theory, is fairly simple. The Hawks run up the court quickly, as if they're in a fastbreak situation. Once they cross halfcourt, they get into their offense, which involves motion from all five guys, faster than anyone in the NBA.

When the startin[......]

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Nets' Teletovic out for season following scare Thursday night

NBA Basketball

Nets forward Mirza Teletovic has been ruled out for the season after being diagnosed with bilateral pulmonary embolus (multiple blood clots in the lungs), the team announced Friday. 

Teletovic was removed from Thursday's game against the Clippers after experiencing shortness of breath.

MORE: Kobe injures rotator cuff | Aldridge out 6-8 weeks 

Here's what Nets coach Lionel Hollins had to say about it following the game:

“He told me he wasn’t feeling well, and that’s all I know,” he said, via the New York Post. “He came to the bench and 夜网论坛said something was wrong with him, so he asked me to take him out.”

The Nets acted quickly and took him to a hospital after halftime began. According the Nets press release he underwent a series of tests, including a CT scan. He's going to remain in the Los Angeles hospital to begin treatment.

Teletovic needs blood thinners to be administered to him, which will force him to sit out the rest of the season. 

In 40 games this season, he's averaged 8.5 points, 4.9 rebounds and 1.1 assists in 22.3 minutes per game.

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Assessing Boston's next big plan under Danny Ainge

NBA

This was supposed to be a much different column. 

It was supposed to be about the treasure chest of picks gathered by Danny Ainge. How, when he finally unlatched his riches, the Celtics GM would catapult Boston back into contention over the course of a few weeks during the summer.

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Now that Ainge is bringing his pirate ship of lost souls to port (read: Gerald Wallace), I’m no longer sure that’s a guarantee.

Let’s back up. In 2007, Ainge famously traded for Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen. That move gave Boston their first championship since 1986 and allowed Celtics fans to mistakenly wax poetic about how their team was built and not bought. James Posey was important. Flo Rida topped the charts. Anything was possiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiible. 

Meanwhile, we conveniently forgot about how that championship was delivered to Boston.

In 2006-07, Allen’s Sonics and Garnett’s Timberwolves combined for a total of 61 wins … five fewer than the Celtics had the following season. Restless and ready to win, Ainge scooped up two superstars from terrible teams for young players and picks. The pieces fit.

Boston has had no problem adding assets. Ainge has nine first-round picks in varying kinds of restriction from 2015 to 2018, a third of which are from Billy King and the Brooklyn Nets alone. He’s got loads of cap space, as just eight players[......]

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Matt Barnes blows up on Twitter after being fined $25K for cursing

NBA Basketball

The NBA announced Tuesday afternoon it fined Los Angeles Clippers forward Matt Barnes $25K for cursing at a fan.

According to Paul Coro of AZCentral, Barnes was swearing at a fan after getting a technical in Sunday's game. Coro explains Barnes said three words, two of which were swear words. As he puts it, Barnes said [expletive] you [expletive].

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After the fine was announced, Barnes took to social media to react. He didn't deny cursing, but he said his anger wasn't directed夜网论坛 towards a fan. It was directed toward Suns owner Robert Sarver.

Barnes' statute of limitations on snitching apparently only lasts until he's fined. His Twitter tirade continued.