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NBA ICYMI: In Which We Debate Whether LeBron Intentionally Nutmegged a Teammate

Plus, Joel Embiid isn’t shy about his summer goals, De’Aaron Fox didn’t get the tanking memo, and everything else you need to know about Thursday’s games

NBA: Philadelphia 76ers at Cleveland Cavaliers Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

All the need-to-know info from Thursday’s slate.


Haters Will Say It’s Fake

Observe below, as LeBron James’s behind-the-back pass nutmegs his teammate Tristan Thompson, only to bounce into a pass back to himself:

Could this have possibly been drawn up in LeBron’s mind? Or was this move, one that will end up on his all-time highlight reel, a happy accident? Let’s investigate.

Reasons to believe this was a fluke:

1. First of all, there’s no way that nutmeg was premeditated. Thompson’s legs open just before the ball bounces.

2. LeBron wasn’t looking at TT when he passed—he was facing left. That’s never stopped him before, except the last thing he saw Tristan do was move to set a pick, not stand still with his legs parted at the perfect angle.

3. Shit was unnatural. I’m sorry.

Here’s a nice summary by my colleague Riley McAtee:

Reasons to believe this was done on purpose:

1. It’s LeBron James.

2. LeBron has a PhD in no-look passes.

3. LeBron knows where everyone, including Tristan and Tristan’s legs, is on the court at all times.

3. See Item 1.

4. He’s proved many dimes before that he can see the future.

5. He’s

LeBron’s two cents, FWIW:

LeBron led all scorers with 30 points in the Cavaliers’ 108-97 loss to the Sixers. Only one of his fellow starters, Rodney Hood, ended in double digits. (Where have we heard that one before?) Philly’s roster ended far more balanced: Six players ended with at least 10 points, and four with nine or more boards. (J.R. Smith was very mysteriously suspended without any additional information given.) Once again, LeBron can’t do it alon—

—never mind.

Lonzo Got Lost Away From Home

Love Is the Name of the Game

Before the Lakers’ 131-113 win over the Heat, Isaiah Thomas got romantic. “All you need is one team to love you,” he said about his upcoming free agency. “That’s what I’m working towards.”

IT upped his Basketball Bumble game on Thursday, scoring a season-high 29 points on a highly efficient (I’m serious!) six 3s and shooting 11-for-20 overall off the bench. The Lakers put up 73 points in the first half alone. The contest ended with Miami giving up the most points it has in a game all season, and with the Lakers’ 27th win—many congrats to them, who have already bettered last season’s 26-56 record. It’s March 1.

It’s Recruiting SZN

Philadelphia is not shy. Here’s proof. Here’s more:

To help you decide whether LeBron to the Sixers is a good idea, read Justin Verrier and Chris Ryan … process it. But know that it’s what Joel Embiid wants.

And Embiid is as shameless as the city he plays for.

I also choose to believe that the Sixers trying to steal Bron away is what made Jordan Clarkson so upset in the final moments of the game, not Dario Saric’s garbage-time dunk.

Portland Blazes for One Half and One Half Only

The Blazers walked to the locker room at halftime with zero 3s to their name. They had missed all 13 that they attempted and were still somehow down only five to the Wolves.

Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum just don’t stay that way for long.

Dame secured 23 of his 35 points in the second half, going 4-for-6 from deep, while McCollum finished with 19 in the game.

Minnesota got lucky three times from deep in the second half. But even more deflating for the Wolves is that they collectively tried and looked convincing on defense without Jimmy Butler. A quality two-way game from Karl-Anthony Towns is like two-for-one wings. One order is great (in this case, his dynamic offense). But when the man also Ds up?

Chef’s kiss. He took on an even heavier load when Taj Gibson left the court with a hip contusion at the start of the fourth quarter, eventually finishing with 34 points and 17 rebounds. But Minnesota couldn’t help but flinch the moment Dame and C.J. flexed, falling 108-99 to the Blazers.

Bazz to the Bucks

Shabazz Muhammad finally left the Wolves bench—but not because he got in the game. Bazz and Minnesota agreed to a buyout on Thursday. He is reportedly signing next with Milwaukee, which is waiving Sean Kilpatrick to make room. It’s exactly what the Bucks need: a wing with lousy defense shooting 21 percent from 3 and averaging 0.8 assists per 36 minutes. Because the Bucks don’t have enough of those guys.

Embiid Hits a Two-for-One Jumper

De’Aaron Fox Missed the Tanking Memo

But that’s OK, as long as he keeps pulling stuff like this:

The Kings beat the Nets in overtime 116-111, thanks to Fox forcing it to the extra period.