Good morning. Let's basketball.
G.O.A.T.U.S.: The Warriors went to the White House on Thursday and President Obama pulled off some incredible jokes, including one about the '96 Bulls.
EPIC: The Pistons ran out to a massive early lead on the Knicks, gave it all away ... and managed to hang on for a win. Whew. More awesomely, Pistons players and executives donated a combined $500,000 to FlintNOW, an effort to raise money for organizations helping the Flint community recover from the poison-water disaster. The players also wore FlintNOW shooting shirts before the nationally televised game. You can help Flint, too, through the Pistons' FlintNOW donation page.
GOOD: Adam Silver has changed his mind and will seek reform to minimize or eliminate intentional fouling. The solution is simple.
SCORES GALORE ...
NYK 105, DET 111
HOU 111, PHX 105
LAL 99, NOP 96 (Another one!)
TOR 110, POR 103
Four good, competitive games!
YOUR STANDINGS CHECK: We're in stasis in the East until/unless Charlotte (two games out) or Washington (four games out!) make a run. As per usual, two games separate No. 3 from No. 8. Those six teams can end up in any given order, and it really doesn't matter much so long as you avoid Nos. 7 and 8.
There is little intriguing in the West top seven, outside of perhaps Houston messing with Dallas at No. 6. (I'd personally prefer as a viewer for Houston to take No. 6 and face OKC with Dallas facing San Antonio. That makes for two compelling series in my opinion.) Utah claims sole possession of No. 8 with the Blazers loss, albeit by a half-game. Sacramento is 2.5 back and reeling.
LOTTERY CHECK: Philadelphia is back to having a big four-win cushion for the league's worst record. L.A. (11 wins) has just one win fewer than Brooklyn (12) for No. 2. Phoenix (14) and Minnesota (15) round out the bottom five. Reminder: the Lakers only keep their pick if it lands in the top three. Otherwise, the Sixers take it. The Sixers' best-case scenario is nabbing Nos. 1 and 4.
HEY MAN: There's pretty much no way this fading, off-balance, contested Archie Goodwin buzzer beater should go in. But it does! The Suns look a little frisky under Earl Watson.
GOOD LORD: Blake Griffin's hand doesn't look great. Is the Clippers' trainer dude made of steel or something?
GODSPEED: Manu Ginobili is out a month due to a, ahem, testicular injury that required surgery. I don't usually pray, but I'm going to talk to the sky for you every night, Emmanuel. Godspeed.
HEAT CHECK: Interesting thoughts on the state of Miami from Jonathan Tjarks here.
ALL-STAR SATURDAY IS SET: Here's a full rundown of everyone participating in All-Star Saturday, which is just over a week away. The three-point shootout is loaded, and the Skills Challenge features four big men -- Boogie, Brown, Draymond and Karl-Anthony Towns -- in addition to four guards (including Isaiah Thomas). That's going to be loads of fun ... even though the NBA did not heed my advice and add Hassan Whiteside.
AHAHAHA: There's an anecdote about a rookie Steph Curry talking trash to Kobe in this GQ interview. Incredible.
INTERESTING: Seth Partnow on Goodhart's Law and why the Rockets' three-and-dunk offense is translating well.
GET CHUCK ON THE VOICE: Charles Barkley sings "One Shining Moment."
A NEW BRAND OF TRADE BAIT: There's a new NBA trend: trading the restricted free agents you don't want to pay in the summer. Last February, Brandon Knight, Enes Kanter and Reggie Jackson filled that role. Who will it be this year? Bradley Beal, Evan Fournier, Jared Sullinger? We break it down.
HE LOOMS: This is King Cake Baby menacing the Lakers. Good King Cake Baby.
PODCAST! Mike Prada and Ben Epstein talk about the Thunder's ceiling and more in the latest Limited Upside.
SINGLE TEAR: All Spencer Hawes wanted was a postgame bro-hug from Michael Jordan. He got snubbed.
TONIGHT AND BEYOND: Your Friday ESPN doubleheader features Pacers-Hawks and Spurs-Mavericks. Saturday night's ABC showcase is a doozy: Warriors-Thunder. Can't wait. Sunday's day game is Clippers-Heat, which has high potential for dunks. There's also something sportsy later on Sunday, if you're into that.
Happy Friday. See you next time.