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Knicks beat Hawks again, tie last season's win total

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We’re only a few days into the new year, but the Knicks already have reached a milestone.

Tuesday night’s 107-101 win over the Hawks gave the Knicks their 17th win of the season, tying their total for all of last season.

MORE: Best active players by uniform number | 10 bold predictions for 2016

Carmelo Anthony and Arron Afflalo led the way with 23 points each, and rookie Kristaps Porzingis had a strong showing with 17 points and 11 rebounds.

Anthony did more than score, however. He also had 11 rebounds, seven assists and two blocks as the Knicks (17-19) scored their second victory over the Hawks in three nights. 

"He's starting to find out how he can dominate the game in different fashions," Knicks coach Derek Fisher said, via The Wall Street Journal. "That's what leaders do."

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Justin Bieber probably just made Chris Paul an all-star starter

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Welp, it's settled. 

Barring a minor miracle, Chris Paul will start in the the NBA All-Star Game. Justin Bieber settled that Thursday night. Voting isn't over, but the pop star encouraged his 72.9 million Twitter followers to cast their lot with the Clippers guard, and that's all it should take to get it done. Within 40 minutes, two posts in support of Paul had garnered about 30,000 r夜网论坛etweets and 35,000 favorites. 

MORE: Top 10 NBA moments of '15 | Kobe has more votes than LeBron and KD combined 

The force is definitely with Biebs when it comes to garnering all-star votes. Fans choose the starters and no one has more devoted followers. 

Last year, Bieber, a native Canadian, encouraged his fans to vote for Raptors guard Kyle Lowry. Despite the fact the singer didn't include the proper hashtag needed for the 50,000-plus RTs to count as votes, his mentioning Lowry's name on social media gave Lowry the boost he needed to unseat Dwyane Wade as a starter. In support of Paul, Bieber didn't make any mistakes. 

I'm just impressed the guy does his own tweeting.

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Steve Kerr praises Luke Walton for 'phenomenal' job as interim coach

NBA Basketball

Warriors players and fans welcomed coach Steve Kerr back Friday night at Oracle Arena, as he coached his first game since undergoing two back surgeries in the offseason.

Kerr "inherited" a team that got off to a 39-4 start this season, the second-best start in NBA history. He said that's in large part to the "phenomenal" job lead assistant coach Luke Walton did while Kerr recuperated.

MORE: Hideous NBA uniforms

Before the Warriors' 122-110 win over the Pacers Friday night, Kerr told reporters he even planned to keep some offensive plays that Walton drew up in his absence.

"He's done a great job just managing the team and really doing a good job during timeouts and calling the right plays," Kerr said, via Yahoo Sports. "We have a great talent on continuity, but we didn't skip a beat. We actually got better and that's not only Luke, but the entire staff.

"Luke was the right guy to guide the ship and he'夜网论坛s got the temperament. He easily will be a head coach before long and on a more permanent basis. I'm hoping to keep him around longer."

MORE: WATCH: Kid joins Stephen Curry for pregame dribbling routine

Kerr, who is now 1-0 since his return, doesn't expect to miss any more time with back problems. 

"My back has been fine for quite some time," he said. "The symptoms that I've had have been more headaches and things like that. That part has died down and I'm feeling better. I'm not worried about anything bowling over me on the sidelines, so that's a non-issue. As far as the lights and the noise, I don't see that as an issue."

 

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The Fifth Quarter: Cleveland fans boo as Cavaliers lose to Bulls in Tyronn Lue's debut

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Fans and coaches scoffing Cleveland's decision to fire David Blatt, despite having an Eastern Conference-best record, were vindicated Saturday when the Cavaliers lost 96-83 at home against the Bulls.

Things got so bad, in fact, that Cleveland fans started booing the team when they fell 17 points behind in the third quarter.

MORE: Predicting who will be on NBA All-Star benches

It was a nightmare game for new coach Tyronn Lue, who signed a three-year contract Friday. After promising different rotations to free up Kevin Love and get him more post looks, the Cavaliers ultimately just ran more isolation plays and watched as LeBron James took shots.

James had a big game, scoring 26 points with 13 rebounds and nine assists, but he went 0 for 5 from beyond the arc and once again sucked the life out of the offense with his stagnant iso plays.

"We just weren't able to make shots. I don't think we're in good enough shape," Lue said on ESPN. "We wanted to run the ball, push the floor, but LeBron came out early, Kevin came out early, so we're just not fit enough to play the fast-paced game we want to[......]

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Healthy Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook can't keep Thunder from terrible timing

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NEW YORK — On some nights, it’s enough for Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook to walk onto an NBA floor. But there are others when the Thunder and their two elite players get pushed to the limit by a team with a losing record like the Knicks, even on a night when Carmelo Anthony is sitting out and the game comes down to a shootout between Durant and one of Anthony’s sidekicks, Arron Afflalo.

That’s what we had when the Thunder left Madison Square Garden with an overtime win and needed all of Durant’s 44 points and Westbrook’s 30 points to seal the deal. De夜网论坛fensively, they don’t look like a team that will give the NBA’s two juggernauts, Golden State and San Antonio, all they can handle when the calendar turns to May and June.

MORE: Who's getting fired this offseason? | 15 most overpaid players

Yeah, Billy Donovan sure picked a great time to leave Florida and come to the NBA.

“Perfect timing, right?" the guy known as “Billy the Kid” around here said before heading off for Minneapolis for Wednesday’s game against the Timberwolves. “I mean, we’re in the Western Conference, with those two teams having the seasons they’re having, the way they’re playing now?"

It doesn’t mean that the Thunder can’t match up with the Warriors and Spurs when everything is on the line. For one thing, he gets to put Durant and Westbrook on the court every night.

“They both come to work hard, every single day," he said. “And they both try to get better."

But there are major questions about Thunder’s chemistry, Durant’s impending free agency and the supporting cast after Serge Ibaka. Then there’s a critical area where the Warriors and Spurs have it all over Durant and Westbrook. The last two NBA champs actually know what it’s like to hold the Larry O’Brien Trophy, meaning they’ve figured out how to win in June and can summon those lessons when times get tough in the playoffs. Talented as they are, the Thunder’s superstars are still trying to figure it out, and so is Donovan, who won back-to-back titles at Florida, but is in his first NBA rodeo.

Since the Thunder went to their only Finals, in 2012 when James Harden was still on the team and they looked like they’d become the NBA’s next dynasty, the Spurs have been to two Finals, winning one, and have added LaMarcus Aldridge to their championship core. The Warriors have won a title and are steaming, virtually unopposed, toward a new regular-season wins record. In that time the Thunder have reached the Western Conference finals only once, and last year was a total washout ending in a lottery berth when Durant was limited to 27 games by a broken foot.

MORE: Midseason awards: Can Westbrook steal Curry's MVP?

So here are the Warriors, with Stephen Curry on his way to running away with his second straight MVP award and Draymond Green taking his game for the first time to an All-NBA level. Then there are the Spurs, with Kawhi Leonard and their old Big Three and Aldridge, eve[......]

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MRI confirms Bulls SG Jimmy Butler sustained left knee strain

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Bulls fans everywhere gasped in horror during the second quarter of Friday night's game against the Nuggets when All-Star shooting guard Jimmy Butler was helped off the court holding his left knee.

Fortunately for Chicago, it appears Butler's injury isn't as bad as originally feared. 

MORE: 6 D-League prospects who actually could help your NBA team

An MRI performed on Saturday confirmed that Butler sustained a left knee strain and the timeline for his return to play will be determined by further evaluation in Chicago and his response to treatment, the team announced.

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There is hope he will be able to play Monday against the Hornets.

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The Fifth Quarter: Isaiah Thomas-Avery Bradley backcourt boosts Celtics over Kings

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No one will confuse Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley for Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry, but the Boston Celtics' backcourt has been making an impact.

Thomas and Bradley turned in a “Splash Brothers”-like effort in the Celtics' 128-119 win over the Sacramento Kings Sunday.

Bradley scored 25 points, hitting six of his seven attempts from the 3-point line. Thomas added 22 points and nine assists as the Celtics won their fourth game in a row and ninth in the last 10. The tandem has been playing well during that stretch, especially Bradley. He’s averaging 16 points on 46.5 percent shooting.  He also sank the Cavs with a game-winning 3-pointer on Friday.

And suddenly, the Celtics are in third place in the Eastern Conference. There’s still a long way to go, but if Bradley and Thomas can continue to play well together, the Celtics will definitely be a team to watch as the playoffs start.

Stud of the day

Kristaps Porzingis had another solid game Sunday afternoon, scoring 21 points and grabbing 13 rebounds as the New York Knicks fell 101-96 to the Denver Nuggets.

Duds of the day

The defense at the start of the Celtics-Kings game was virtually non-existent. The two teams combined to score 83 points in the first quarter, as the Celtics took a 46-37 lead into the second quarter. Everyone loves offense, but come on.

Tweet of the day

Even the Super Bowl locker room is Stephen Curry's playground. 

Look Ahead

Toronto Raptors (34-16) at Detroit Pistons (27-15), 7:30 p.m. ET: The Pistons are holding on to the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference, but the Hornets and Wizards seem to be on the upswing, so a win would help put some space between them. The Raptors, meanwhile, find themselves two games behind Cleveland.

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Clippers suspend Blake Griffin four games for punching equipment manager

NBA Basketball

Clippers forward Blake Griffin will be suspended four games without pay by the NBA and will be fined an additional game's pay for his role in a fight with a Clippers equipment manager, the team announced Tuesday.

Griffin broke his hand in the Jan. 23 altercation and was expected to miss four to six weeks. Pictures of his surgically repaired hand surfaced Thursday.

MORE: See photos of Griffin's broken hand | Ranking every All-Star

In a joint statement, Clippers owner Steve Ballmer and coach Doc Rivers condemned Griffin's actions but said the club still supports him.

"We have made it clear that this conduct has no place i夜网论坛n the Clippers organization," the statement read. "Blake is remorseful and has apologized for his actions. He is a valued member of our Clippers family and we support him as he rejoins the team. He understands his actions have consequences, and is eager to get back to work with his teammates, the organization and Clipper Nation which starts immediately with rehab, appearances and attendance at games."

Griffin's fine, worth five game checks, will go to charities "focused on disadvantaged youth" in Los Angeles. 

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Marc Gasol out indefinitely after breaking his right foot

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The Grizzlies will be without their big man as they look to stay in the playoff hunt. 

Center Marc Gasol has a broken right foot and will be out indefinitely, the team announced Tuesday. 

MORE: NBA All-Star Game players ranked (Kobe's last)

The team initially called the injury a foot sprain, but in evaluation by team physi夜网论坛cians Tuesday morning, an MRI revealed a fracture in his right foot.

“Marc is a cornerstone of our franchise," general manager Chris Wallace said in a statement. "We are focused on getting him healthy. A further update will be provided after the All-Star Break."

MORE: Bulls' Jimmy Butler out with knee strain, Pau Gasol takes All-Star spot

The 31-year-old Gasol is averaging 16.6 points and seven rebounds per game this season for the Grizzlies (30-22), who are currently in fifth place in the Western Conference.  

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The NBA released a dunk mixtape to remind us of Vince Carter's glory years

NBA 夜网论坛

Vince Carter is getting old, which is sad for a number of reasons, but mostly because we don't get to see his high-flying, rim-rattling dunks anymore.

With the All-Star Game being hosted in Toronto, the NBA put together a mixtape of Carter's best dunks while he was a Raptor. Which is only right, because pretty much every dunk he made during that time period was worthy of the "SportsCenter" highlight reel.

MORE: Raptors' slam dunk history in photos | Matt Barnes responds to Derek Fisher's firing

I present you 4 1/2 minutes of complete Vinsanity.

You can't tell me Carter isn't the greatest dunker of all time. Don't even bother wasting your time.

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