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“TT shot free throws at .487 coming out of Texas. Unlike some (many) all-stars, TT actually worked at his game in several areas — he’s building a post game, he can now shoot rightie. And his free-throw percentage went from 48% in college to 55% last year to 64% this year.
Better than a couple all-stars. And a hell of a lot better than Dwight Howard who had a rookie FT pct of 67% and is not at 49%.
TT’s improvement is so rare and so reflective of a gifted athlete with the right focus on mastering his craft, it should be a pretty big story. But instead we get a free-throw expert on national TV killing him.” [Kanick]
“On Thanksgiving, Jim Schwartz boned Jim Schwartz by throwing a challenge flag on Justin Forsett’s 81-yard touchdown. But really, the NFL boned Jim Schwartz—the rule that you can’t challenge a play that’s automatically reviewed, and if you try, you’re penalized and it’s not reviewed, is awful, illogical, and frankly un-American.
This was one of those rules that was on the books because no one read it too closely, and it hadn’t come into play. But no one can say the NFL isn’t reactive—Ray Anderson, the VP of football operations, promised that the rule will be changed before the start of next season. From now on, if a coach throws a red flag on a scoring play, he’ll still be penalized—but the play will be reviewed. Sanity!” [Petchesky/Deadspin]
“Luck might have had something to do with it, sure. But as you watch the variety of ways in which Irving imposed his will on the game — posting up New Orleans reserve guard Brian Roberts and hitting him with a baseline spin for an and-one floater, shaking larger wing defender Al-Farouq Aminu on the perimeter to get to the cup, pushing the pace in transition after grabbing the defensive rebound himself, fearlessly popping an open 3 trailing on the break, and showcasing that ankle-breaking handle to get around seemingly any Hornets defender whenever he wanted — you start thinking it’s probably got a lot more to do with a star being born right before our eyes.
Irving now leads the league in total points scored in the “clutch” — the final five minutes of a game where the margin is within five points — this season and is second only to Durant in “clutch” points per game. He’s now averaging 34.7 points per 36 minutes of fourth-quarter play this season, shooting just under 45 percent from the floor in last stanzas, and taking a whopping 11.7 free-throw attempts per 36 minutes in the fourth. He’s an absolute killer down the stretch, and if you don’t believe me, just ask the Hornets, who watched him get all 20 of those points in the last seven minutes, scoring 11 straight an 18 of his team’s 20 points during one stretch.” [Devine/Ball Don’t Lie]
How did the new CBA influence the trade deadline- “When owners and players agreed to a new deal that ended the most recent lockout, the players insisted on not having a hard salary cap – like in the NFL – that teams could not exceed under any circumstance. In the name of leveling the playing field for big and small-market teams, the owners responded by getting new restrictions put in place to make it as painful as possible for teams who go over the cap to continue doing business that way for any length of time.” [Krawczynski/AP]
Video of Magic Johnson and Jalen Rose discussing Kyrie’s game. [Fear the Sword]
Late addition (H/T Scott)- Why Wins Above Replacement is the Answer [Miller/ESPN the Mag]