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It was a tough challenge to determine who had the better response to persistent rumors that Boston is pursuing Anthony Davis in a trade.
In consecutive games, Davis had 48 points and 17 rebounds in a New Orleans win at New York and 45 points and 16 rebounds in a win at Boston last week. It was the second time that Davis had posted consecutive games of at least 45 points and 15 rebounds. No player had done it consecutively since Charles Barkley did it once in 1988, according to Elias Sports Bureau.
Davis’ on-court performance, which must have exhausted him for an eight-point letdown at Atlanta, was rivaled in quality only by his Pelicans coach’s retort to trade talk.
“My response to that is, ‘Yeah, we’ll trade him,’ ” Alvin Gentry joked to the Boston Herald. “But they’re going to have to give us the New England Patriots and the two planes that they just bought. ... And I don’t think they’re going to do that. So we’re not even thinking about those kind of things.”
In the small-ball word, the big-man combination of Davis and DeMarcus Cousins is working, with each player earning All-Star starts while averaging more than 25 points and 10 rebounds. New Orleans has become a threat to get to at least fifth place in the Western Conference, especially if they could see Sacramento more. Cousins has tormented his former team with averages of 38.6 points, 15.7 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 2.3 steals in three meetings.
The Pelicans have formed a big three, with guard Jrue Holiday having his best season for scoring (18.6 points per game) and shooting (49.7 field-goal percentage). They also should get better bench play once Solomon Hill returns from a hamstring injury that has sidelined him since August.
Too late, RiRi?
Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid has carried an affection and a joke for years with his pursuit of singer Rihanna.
Now that he has arrived as an NBA All-Star starter, he might be moving on. The viral chase began in 2014 when Embiid tweeted, “This is the truth… I was trying to get with this famous girl and she said ‘Come back when you’re an All Star’ bruhh.”
Before Embiid could even have a public reaction to being named an All-Star starter, his fans flooded Rihanna’s Instagram with comments primarily carrying Embiid’s profile name. But Embiid never has said the celebrity who snubbed him was Rihanna, and nj.com reported that Embiid said it was not Rihanna during a 2016 radio interview on “The Dan Le Batard Show.”
“She denied me back then, so why go with her again?” Embiid said on Thursday’s postgame interview with TNT. “So I might have to pass that and move on to the next one.”
Really? All-Star starter?
NBA players were given a 25% say in who would start this year’s NBA All-Star Game. What could go wrong?
Several players obviously are not taking the opportunity seriously after voting results were revealed by the league. Their choices included Lonzo Ball (nine votes), Michael Beasley (four), Jahlil Okafor (four), Cole Aldrich (three), Boban Marjanovic (two), Gordon Hayward (two), Jack Cooley (one), Luke Kennard (one) and Alexis Ajinca (one).
The remainder of the weight in All-Star voting goes to fans (50%) and media (25%). The only possible snub in All-Star starter voting was San Antonio’s LaMarcus Aldridge, who the media vote put ahead of Cousins for the third Western Conference front-court starting spot because of the way he has led the Spurs while Kawhi Leonard is sidelined. The media had Cousins tied with Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns for fourth.
— San Antonio has gone 5-4 in games that Leonard has played this season.
— Indiana is 0-5 in games that Victor Oladipo missed this season.
— Entering Saturday, Oklahoma City was 12-5 when Carmelo Anthony takes 14 shots or fewer.
— Entering Saturday, Houston has won 18 games by 15 points or more.
— Entering Saturday, Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook already has more career 20-point, 10-assist games (163) than two-time most valuable player Steve Nash (162).
Miami at Houston: Monday at 5 p.m. PST. TV: NBATV.
Miami’s record dipped below .500 in mid-December, and the Heat lost Dion Waiters to a season-ending ankle injury soon after that. But coach Erik Spoelstra is working magic again, like last season when Miami went from an 11-30 first half to a 30-11 second half. But with Houston getting James Harden back Thursday, the Rockets will be Miami’s second top-10 opponent in 16 games. The other was Toronto, which Miami beat on the road.