March 26

Kansas Is The Latest No. 1 Seed To Go Down, And Oregon Looks Like The Best Team In America

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Three No. 1 seeds reached the Elite 8, with top overall seed Villanova as the lone No. 1 to fail to reach the second weekend of the 2017 NCAA Tournament. But on Saturday night, a second top seed went down when No. 3 Oregon dominated Kansas, 74-60, to earn their first Final Four trip since 1939.

Oregon took control of the game early and never relinquished it, as the Jayhawks could never trim the Ducks second half lead to fewer than six points. Oregon was led by Tyler Dorsey on the offensive end and Jordan Bell on the defensive end in a dominant two-way performance from the Ducks. Dorsey continued to be the Ducks’ best offensive weapon of the tournament as he shot the lights out, going 9-for-13 from the field for 27 points.

However, Dorsey’s incredible offensive output may have been bested by his teammate’s effort on the glass and defending the rim. Bell had 11 points, 13 rebounds and a ridiculous eight blocks as he deterred the Jayhawks from attacking the rim. With the lane shut down by Bell, Kansas struggled to find an offensive rhythm, shooting 35 percent from the field and only 20 percent from three-point range (5-for-25).

Kansas had looked like a Final Four lock in their first three games, but with Josh Jackson going cold on Saturday night and Frank Mason Jr. struggling from long range despite a 21-point performance, the Jayhawks weren’t able to keep pace with the red-hot Ducks. It’s now Oregon that appears to be the team to beat after they vanquished Kansas with apparent ease, as the Ducks have lost once in their last 13 games.

Oregon was a team many thought could be a top seed for much of this season, but not many gave them much of a chance for a deep tournament run after the season-ending knee injury suffered by big man Chris Boucher. However, on Saturday night, we saw what the Ducks are capable at their peak on both ends of the floor even in Boucher’s absence.

The Ducks might just be the best team in America right now, and they proved that they aren’t afraid to go toe-to-toe with a blue-blood program that boasts NBA-caliber talent on its roster. That’s good, because they’ll run into a similar squad soon – the Ducks are staring down a matchup with either No. 1 North Carolina or No. 2 Kentucky in the Final Four.

March 25

Devin Booker Scores 70 Points

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The 20-year-old Booker joined the exclusive club tonight in the Suns’ 130-120 loss to the Celtics. Booker shot 21-40 from the floor, 24-26 from the line and 4-11 of three-point range. He played 45 minutes and had 8 rebounds and 6 assists. He scored 51 in the second half. His 70 points is the most in a single game since Bryant had 81 back in 2006. No active player in the NBA has scored more than Booker in a single game.

It’s both a franchise record for the Suns and the most points that have ever been scored against the Celtics and the most points ever scored in Boston.

Watch highlights of Booker’s historic game in the video above.

The post Devin Booker Scores 70 Points appeared first on SLAMonline.

March 25

Florida’s Insane Buzzer-Beater Takes Down Wisconsin In Overtime

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The Florida Gators stunned Wisconsin in overtime in the wee hours of the morning on Saturday on a running three-point buzzer-beater to win 84-83.

Chris Chiozza took the inbound pass after Nigel Hayes of Wisconsin hit two free throws with four seconds to play and ran from the baseline to the top of the key and hoisted a prayer that hit nothing but net.

Here’s the view of the shot from courtside:

March 24

DeMar DeRozan Scores 40 Points for Second Straight Game

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DeRozan scored 42 on Tuesday against the Bulls. The last Raptor to score 40 in back-to-back games was Vince Carter.

The post DeMar DeRozan Scores 40 Points for Second Straight Game appeared first on SLAMonline.

March 24

West Virginia Showed You Exactly How Not To Play The Last Possession Of A Game

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Bob Huggins and the West Virginia Mountaineers weren’t supposed to advance to the Elite 8 of the 2017 NCAA Tournament. With that said, the No. 4 seed had more than a fighting chance to upend No. 1 seed Gonzaga on Thursday, as the underdogs had the ball in a three-point game with less than one minute remaining on the clock.

From there, things went about as poorly as anyone could have predicted.

Instead of playing for a quick and efficient two-point attempt given that more than 30 seconds remained on the clock, West Virginia appeared adamant to only launch shots from beyond the three-point arc. In the interest of fairness, the Mountaineers did get two attempts off during the wild final possession, but none of them were particularly credible and the way in which West Virginia went about their offensive approach was simply mind-boggling.

Throughout the exchange, West Virginia’s Devon Carter was clearly the primary option and he played it as if he was the only player on the floor that was allowed to shoot. Carter took an ill-advised three with approximately 22 seconds remaining that didn’t come close to falling but, with haste, the Mountaineers grabbed the rebound and flipped the ball back to their fearless offensive leader.

Carter then forced a cleaner look that drew rim before falling to the floor, setting the stage for Nathan Adrian to chase down a long rebound and… hand the ball back to Carter. From there, the veteran guard tried to face the Gonzaga defense on his own until he thought better of it with less than one second remaining, but his pass to a teammate was (far) too late and the top-seeded Bulldogs escaped.

In the end, this was something of a fitting end to an extremely sloppy and foul-happy basketball game. Still, it could have transpired in much different fashion for West Virginia had the team simply embraced a coherent plan.

March 23

WATCH: Nikola Jokic Backs Down LeBron James And Scores

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In the third quarter of Denver’s 126-113 win over the visiting Cavs, Nikola Jokic backed down LeBron James to the paint and scored.

As usual, the Joker made it look easy.

WATCH: Nikola Jokic ‘The Joker’ Mixtape

The post WATCH: Nikola Jokic Backs Down LeBron James And Scores appeared first on SLAMonline.

March 23

Chris Paul Says He Thinks Twice About Going For Steals After All His Hand Injuries

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Chris Paul has the numbers—and the finger injuries—to prove he’s one of the game’s best at stealing the basketball.

Paul is the active leader in steals in the NBA, a fact chronicled in a New York Times piece about the art—and consequences—of the steal. Paul sprained his left thumb in preseason and later tore his ulnar collateral ligament in January, missing 14 games.

That injury wasn’t a break, which is something he’s already done in his career. The Los Angeles Clippers star has also torn both the UCL and RCL ligaments and broken a finger. The injuries, he said, have left him second-guessing whether to go for steals at this point in the year.

Few people on the planet have firsthand knowledge of the difference between R.C.L. and U.C.L. tears. Paul is one of them. (They both hurt, he said.)

As for his most recent injury, Paul missed 14 games before he returned late last month. Even now, with the Clippers vying for playoff position, he is trying to regain his feel for the game.

“I see plays all the time where I know I can reach for the ball and I know I can steal it,” he said. “But it’s like risk versus reward: Do I go for it?”

Despite saying “I’ve got the worst fingers,” when describing his mangled and oft-broken hands, Paul still got high praise from many in the piece including head coach Doc Rivers, who said with quick hands like that he “could have been a boxer.”

“Gifted,” Rivers said. “His hands are so damn quick.”

Paul now says he’s “just trying to keep my hands out of the way” as he regains strength in them and tries to stay healthy.

He also said when he jams his fingers or gets his hands hurt, he’ll get a message from Golden State Warrior Matt Barnes. The two, apparently, have bonded over getting their fingers mangled throughout their careers.

One other interesting fact in the piece was his pick for best hands he’s seen in his career. The winner? Brevin Knight, who retired in 2009. Who knew?

(New York Times)

March 22

Serge Ibaka, Robin Lopez Ejected After Brawl

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March 22

The Season’s Wildest Fight Featured Haymakers From The Bulls And Raptors

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Until Tuesday, the Chicago Bulls owned the Toronto Raptors for reasons beyond all understanding. In the recent past, the Raptors have been the (much) better basketball team but, for whatever reason, the Bulls have dominated on-court match-ups against Toronto in compiling 11 consecutive victories. On this night, however, some of that frustration appeared to boil over, as Toronto big man Serge Ibaka and Chicago big man Robin Lopez got into a scuffle that included haymakers being thrown in both directions.

The incident occurred with 3:58 remaining in the third quarter and, after a lengthy review, both Ibaka and Lopez were ejected from the game. At the time, the Bulls led by a shocking score of 88-72 on the road in Toronto and the incident seemed to stem from an awkward box-out during a converted basket from Chicago’s Jimmy Butler.

In the arena, there was an audible rise in intensity that was evident even from the ESPN broadcast and those in attendance felt it.

Beyond that, there were plenty of reactions from the internet, including some love for Ibaka as a genuinely tough man.

And, hilariously, Ibaka appeared to “connect” with Lopez’s much-ballyhooed hair.

Further punishment will almost certainly be in the works for one or both players, simply because on-court incidents to this degree are very rare in today’s NBA. Just who was more at fault for the scuffle is up for debate, at least to some degree, but it is always wild to see full-blown punches being traded on an NBA floor and this is easily the most significant brawl of the season to date. The Raptors would go on to complete an epic comeback to tear down the 11-game wall built by Chicago in the series but, even with that in mind, the lasting takeaway will be punches flying between two starting big men.