Morning Shootaround — March 7

Missed a game last night? Wondering what the latest news around the NBA is this morning? The Morning Shootaround is here to try to meet those needs and keep you up on what’s happened around the league since the day turned.

The one recap to watch: Fourteen games on the slate all-but ensured plenty of drama around the Association … and that’s exactly what we got. There were several comeback games, but most notably Jazz-Cavs (which Cleveland won), Celtics-Pacers (which Boston won), Lakers-Hornets (which L.A. won) and Magic-Heat (which Miami won). Whew! Lot of great games to pick from just from that slate, and we’re not even getting to Blazers-Grizz (another rally, this time by Memphis) or Kings-Warriors (where Klay Thompson played the hero). Picking one comeback over another is never easy, but that is what we’re here to do: make the tough decisions. All that said, we’re going with Celtics-Pacers as our one to watch this morning. Indiana seemingly had this one in the bag thanks to some clutch baskets by George Hill, but Kevin Garnett showed why he’s a future Hall of Famer with his pinpoint pass to Jeff Green to clinch the win.

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News of the morning

Comeback win helps Lakers bond | ‘Melo suffering from fluid buildup in knee | Nelson, Lewis fire back at Howard | Nets decide to bench Humphries | Wolves’ Budinger, Love set to talk to doctors

Lakers bond stronger after rally — In case you were living under a rock last night (or even this morning) and missed the Lakers’ epic comeback from a 25-point hole in New Orleans last night, our multimedia crew has all the best moments from L.A.’s stunning win. A win like the one the Lakers experience last night not only helped get them closer to the No. 8 spot in the West playoff race, but also created more of a bond amongst the team. Mark Medina of the L.A. Daily News has more:

The Lakers’ 108-102 victory Wednesday over the New Orleans Hornets didn’t just mark a game in which they overcame a 25-point deficit against a sub.-500 opponent.

This didn’t just mark the first time the Lakers overcame such a large gap since overcoming a 30-point deficit against the Dallas Mavericks in 2002. The Lakers’ latest win gave them renewed confidence they can overcome any obstacle.

“Games like this really strengthen the bond between us players,” Lakers guard Kobe Bryant said. “That’s really what the playoffs are all about. You have adversity. It’s about who’s going to stick together and who’s not going to break.”

It helps that the win improves the bottom line results, too.

With the Utah Jazz losing Tuesday to Cleveland, the Lakers (31-31) trail Utah (32-29) by only 1 games for the eighth and final Western Conference playoff spot.

The Lakers sat in their locker room afterwards eagerly watching the final minutes of Houston’s loss to Dallas.

“Come on, Dallas!” Lakers forward Metta World Peace yelled from his stall. “Do what you gotta do!”

With Houston’s loss, the Lakers are only two games behind the Rockets (33-29) for the seventh seed.

Bryant took over the offense by scoring 18 of his 42 points in the fourth quarter. Dwight Howard overcame early foul trouble by taking a large defensive role, including blocking Robin Lopez’s layup attempt with 27 seconds remaining. Reserve guard Jodie Meeks posted 12 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter by making 4 of 5 three-point attempts.

“Dwight played big. When he’s like that and Kobe’s like this, that’s kind of what everybody envisioned it would be,” Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said. “We hope we can build on this.”

The roles worked out perfectly.

Woodson: Anthony has fluid buildup in kneeAfter admitting that he should have pulled Carmelo Anthony out of Monday’s game in Cleveland when Anthony asked instead of letting him suffer a knee injury, Knicks coach Mike Woodson said his star forward will get his rest now. An MRI revealed that Anthony has fluid buildup in his injured right knee and will be taking a seat for a few games, writes Al Iannazzone of Newsday: 

Mike Woodson said the MRI on Carmelo Anthony’s injured right knee showed “some fluid buildup” in there.

“That’s what’s causing the stiffness,” Woodson said. “Rest will probably be the best thing for him.”

Anthony rested Wednesday night, sitting out against the Pistons. Woodson said Anthony would be evaluated again Thursday night and if he feels better, he could play against the Thunder at the Garden. Woodson said it will be Anthony’s decision.

“I’ll do whatever he wants to do,” Woodson said. “Trust me. Players know their own body. If he tells me he wants to play I’m going to play him. I’m not going to fight him on that . . . If he says, ‘Coach, I need to sit down and rest a game or two,’ I’m going to grant that, absolutely.”

The irony is Woodson said Anthony asked out of Monday’s game in Cleveland before he aggravated his knee and the coach didn’t listen to him.

“He just kind of nodded that his knee wasn’t right,” Woodson said. “I kind of ignored it somewhat. Maybe I shouldn’t have.”

After tripping over his own feet, Anthony fell in the second quarter in Cleveland. When he got up, he walked right to the locker room and never returned. The Knicks were down 22 at the time and rallied to win behind a strong game from Amar’e Stoudemire. This was the seventh game Anthony has missed all or part of this season.

“Obviously he was hurting,” Woodson said. “He asked me to bring him out. I kind of ignored it because we were down. I probably should have taken him out and then he took the spill and he left the game because he was hurting. I didn’t heed to it because I’ve seen him banged up and hit and things of that nature.”

Howard’s comments irritate ex-Orlando mates Lewis, NelsonIn the 2004 Draft, the Magic took Dwight Howard with the No. 1 overall pick and, 19 picks later, worked out a savvy trade with the Nuggets to add Jameer Nelson to the fold, too. Three seasons later, with the Magic as a budding young team in the East, Orlando added Rashard Lewis as a free agent. From there, the Magic began a steady climb in the East, culminating in a 2009 Finals appearance as well as three division titles. Nelson and Lewis joined Howard as All-Stars in 2009, but apparently Dwight’s memory of his teammates and his days in Orlando isn’t so clear. His comments to a local CBS affiliate in L.A. about his Magic teammates riled up Nelson and Lewis, who is now with the Heat. Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel has more:

Former Magic forward Rashard Lewis called Dwight Howard’s recent comments about his former Magic teammates “disrespectful” and defended Jameer Nelson, once one of Howard’s closest friends.

Howard told a CBS affiliate in L.A. that “my team in Orlando was a team full of people who nobody wanted, and I was the leader and I led that team with a smile on my face.”

Howard, Lewis and Nelson were on the Magic team that defied odds and reached the NBA Finals in 2009.

“It’s disrespectful more than anything. We helped Dwight become the player he was,” said Lewis, who signed this summer with the Miami Heat, which faced the Magic on Wednesday night.

“We made a good run. Hell, look at those (conference and division) banners hanging in the stands. They don’t say Dwight Howard on them…”

Nelson said after shootaround that he was disappointed in Howard’s professionalism.

“At some point, when are you a gonna as a man, when are you going to take ownership and stay out of the media in a professional manner,” Nelson told the Sentinel.

“I would be less of a man to comment on certain things that people comment on about me and my teammates. We had a great run as a group, as core guys, and he was a part of it (reaching the 2009 Finals) and for him to say things about anybody in a negative manner, that’s up to him.”

Nelson and Howard were close, drafted together in the first round in 2004.

But their relationship eroded after Howard said before he was traded to the Lakers last summer that he would love to play with some of the league’s elite point guards, such as Chris Paul.

Former Magic General Manager Otis Smith said that Howard “threw Jameer under the bus.”

Said Lewis, “Everybody on that team was very close friends. Not only that, but Jameer Nelson, out of all people. I don’t care. I got thick skin. That stuff bounces off me…but him and Jameer are supposed to be best friends.

“Jameer kept his mouth shut for a long time..you hear him (Dwight) say stuff like Chauncey Billups, Chris Paul, this guy, that guy and Jameer Nelson is the one who took us to the Finals, who helped, even though he got injured.”

Nets opt to bench HumphriesEntering the season, Nets forward Kris Humphries was fresh off back-to-back double-double campaigns in which he had elevated himself as one of the free-agent gems of 2012. Humphries re-signed with Brooklyn and was the Nets’ starting power forward for the first 18 games, but since then has seen his minutes dwindle. He’s averaging a mere 5.5 ppg and 5.9 rpg this season, with averages of 2.1 ppg and 4.1 rpg since the All-Star break. It’s not much of a surprise, then, that the Nets are going to dwindle Humphries’ minutes even further as they gear up for the playoffs, writes Seth Walder and Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News:

Kris Humphries’ official divorce from Kim Kardashian is fast approaching, but his divorce from playing time will come much sooner. According to a league source, Humphries was informed by coach P.J. Carlesimo Wednesday morning that he will no longer be part of the Nets’ shortened rotation.

Carlesimo has said in recent days that he wants to limit the rotation to nine or 10 players as the Nets head into the stretch run before the postseason.

The 6’9″ forward is averaging 18.4 minutes per game this season, a number that has dwindled substantially since the beginning of the year.

The decision to bench Humphries is curious given how fervently the Nets have worked to keep him. In July, the Nets inked the forward to a two-year, $24 million contract. Two weeks ago, at the trade deadline, the Nets could have traded Humphries to their opponent Wednesday night, Charlotte, in a deal that would have brought back Ben Gordon. And yet, despite their commitment to Humphries financially and the value he could have returned in the trade market, his only spot on the team for the foreseeable future will be on the bench.

Carlesimo has preferred Reggie Evans to Humphries since taking over as coach, despite the fact that Evans essentially offers nothing in the offense department (3.4 points per game). Evans has shot just 46% from under and around the basket, according to NBA.com. Evans has had 22% of his shots blocked this year and 33% blocked in February and March. Though Humphries hasn’t displayed a vast improvement on the offensive end of the floor this year, he has been better, and has demonstrated some talent in that respect of the game in previous seasons.

Humphries hasn’t performed at the level that the Nets presumably hoped when they signed him to a lucrative contract in the offseason.

Carlesimo spoke about the rotation Wednesday morning in Charlotte, saying he wanted to limit it to 10 players and that MarShon Brooks will be part of that rotation.

“I think 10 for now. We’re looking more 10. We want to play minimum four bigs and it would be hard to take one of the smalls out of the rotation,” Carlesimo said. “I’m not hung up on the number as much as, for us, coming off the bench, there’s nights we need defense and there’s nights we need offense.”

Budinger, Love await word from doctors – As our own Steve Aschburner documented on Hang Time last night, the Wolves lost 242 man games through their first 57 games to injuries. Two key names on that list, Chase Budinger and All-Star Kevin Love, have missed a combined 90 games and have been a big reason why Minnesota has disappointed so much this season. Good news may be on the horizon for those two players, though, as they are scheduled to talk to their respective doctors this week, writes Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune:

Injured Timberwolves forward Chase Budinger will speak by phone with his Florida knee surgeon Tuesday, hopeful he’ll be cleared to practice again with his teammates soon thereafter.

On Wednesday, two-time All Star Kevin Love will revisit his New York City surgeon seeking clearance to play with a healing right shooting hand he has broken not once but twice this season.

Both could be back playing games within two weeks, three weeks at most for Budinger.

With such similar timetables, could both such long-awaited returns possibly come on the same night?

“You never know,” Love said. “You never know.”

Either way, both hope to play at least the season’s final 15 games, Love perhaps a little more than that.

Love said he’ll join the team in Houston the Friday after his Wednesday’s doctor’s visit. He said he won’t play immediately that night even if he does get doctor’s clearance —like he did when he came back the first time in November — because he had surgery this time, on Jan. 15.

But probably not too terribly long after that …

“It’s really up to the doctor and myself and Glen and David,” he said, referring to owner Glen Taylor and basketball President David Kahn. “But until I see what the doctor says, I just won’t know.”

ICYMI of the night: We aren’t sure if this Jamal Crawford-to-Blake Griffin is the dunk of the year, but it has got to be in the running:

39 Comments

  1. KG is one of the most intelligent big men to play the game.
    That’s what i’m talking about, like i’ve been saying for a long time, don’t ever count my Celtics out of competition nuff said!

  2. Atlanta says:

    Dwight Howard needs to win a championship before he can call himself an ELITE player…..Oh by the way it was disrespecful to call his teamates out.

  3. Brandon says:

    Not to mention Monty Williams made 0 subs in under 6 mins togo without scoring any field goals with 6 mins togo. Also did not put Anthony Davis is for the entire 4th quarter. He hasn’t not done this all year, I’ve watched every single hornet game this year and they have never played like this. They let L.A. get a spectacular come to hype them up for there playoff run.

    • Brandon says:

      If you watched this game live you would have thought of wow this might be rigged. Like seeing them leave Meeks wide open with the entire team on one side of the court. The ref calling a violation where ryan hands the ball to Gordon from out of bounds which didn’t happen as they showed the replay he cleary tossed it to Gordon. Right after this violation a foul was called to send an untouched Kobe to the line. When things got close in the 4th the refs pitched in some more calling Gordon for stepping on the line which was also replayed and CLEARY not out of bounds. At that point is when I knew this had to be rigged.

  4. souly says:

    whole championship is fixed. like many before. remember lakers pistons in 88′, lakers sacramento in 2002. can’t understand how people smoke it…

  5. Kamote says:

    Howard may have carried the load on his shoulders while playing for Orlando… but DO you really have to get your coach fired, screw the whole organization and throw your team mates under the bus. Just be plain professional, that’s all. Its just easier to complain when you’re losing. You and Kobe will get along together well (Kobe was doing the same before LAL got Pau), maybe throw in Deron Williams, Melo and LBJ for that matter. But they’re able to keep their mouths shut under Coach K during the Olympics (or what would’ve had happened if they didn’t win the gold?).

  6. krazik says:

    lol

  7. Jk says:

    Lewis said they made Howard to the player he was..all they did was shoot threes, and Dwight played all the defense for them..they rode D12 to the all star game, and yes Nobody really wanted them..Lewis had a ridiculously huge contract, and nelson is a back up pg with at least 25 other teams..

  8. W/E says:

    Hornets are so awwwfuull…makes u wonder how they let that happen in the last minutes of the game while they were in total control for almost the whole game…

  9. Cjwiley says:

    I DNT THINK DDWIGHT SAID ANYTHING WRONG BUT THE TRUTH..

  10. Magic Fan4Lyfe says:

    Agree with JNelson when he said stay out of the Media DH. I watch the Lakers and root for you, but comments such as the one you made makes you look weak to your fans. Soon you might not have any Magic fans left.

  11. C's says:

    some of the comments make sense , some may not but…
    if the Lakers upset the Spurs or OKC in the playoffs, then i’ill have to say that David Stern wants the Lakers to win the ring again, like when they robbed that championship from the Kings in 2002.

  12. pancho says:

    Please tell me why Harrison Barnes’s Dunk over Pekovic is not at the top in the Ladder Dunk.

    DWIGHT HOWARD AND BLAKE GRIFFIN ARE THE MOST OVERRATED PLAYER IN THE NBA.

  13. Vino Kulafu y Shuktong pamparegla ni kobe 24 says:

    Give credit where credit is Due… I give props to kobe… someone saying the game is fixed… get over it… it’s done… lakers won that game, as much as I hate kobe… I have to give him that one… Now Let’s move on to other news… Dwight… You literally didn’t thank the MAGIC organization for leaving them, now you’re dissing the man who calls you his Best Friend… Now I know why your team struggling… Karma is a B 1 + C I-I… I hope Jameer gets a ring before you… You call yourself a leader??? how’s your FT shooting??? Your post move??? your Magic team mates made you of who you are now… With out them you can’t even make your own shot… Let’s just foul that clown send him to FT line grab the rebounds then make 3’s… That’s how the Lakers BEAT you… Because you take so highly on yourself… Comparing you to SHAQ,Duncan you’re decades apart on skills, and on court threat… Not even close… They do hack a shaq mostly because they don’t have any options when Shaq is down low… All they can do is to grab him hoping that he cannot jump… Other teams doing a hack a dwight because It’s the best option to take the ball away from lakers, a make you shoot Kryptonite FT’s…

  14. Rob-T says:

    This guy [[Joshua Greenfarb]] DOESN’T KNOW what he is talking about.

  15. JFC says:

    I really do think the lakers were helped out.I mean,how does an NBA team not score a single point the last minutes of a game. I couldve went out there and at least scored a point against the defense-less lakers for Gods sake! And I play in high school!Your in the NBA getting paid millions just to go out there and do something you love to do! At least try to score a point if your actually trying! I really do think the whole thing was fake. And if the hornets were trying, I’d consider them as the worst team in the NBA to lose to the LA team of the past after leading by 25!!!Bobcats start celebrating your not the worst anymore or the ugliest either.

  16. Rob-T says:

    i know many people even the league wants the lakers into the playoffs rather than utah but that doesn’t mean that the league will fix the games in order to get that….if the games are fixed and the league is fixxing games to get LAL in the playoffs, why didn’t stern suspend ibaka, cus the next game after hitting griffing on the nuts was against the lakers.

  17. DeBrosh says:

    there’s nothing more to be said about Dwight Howard. He is just an appalling human being! who in their right mind would want to be his team mate now. he should forever be known as BONEHEAD HOW?HARD

  18. boon says:

    yes. trying your hardest to follow a famous big man’s footsteps is being a leader, dwight. just as “smiling” while you’re losing and demanding a trade — not to mention getting someone fired. did all those technical fouls involve smiling too? i guess it could make you smile when you’re among the leaders in that category.

  19. Leezy says:

    LoL, I Do See Where Joshua Greenfarb is Coming From Tho. You Think David Stern Wants The Playoffs WITHOUT The Lakers? Remember This Is The Same Guy That Stated My Dream Finals Match Up Would Be The Lakers Vs The Lakers, *Shrugs* Im Just Saying… It Doesn’t Really Matter What They Do In The Playoffs Because As A Lower Seed In The West They Have To Play OKC Or The Spurs…

  20. Howard coward says:

    I hate howard coward…..hes still inmature…..

  21. Freida says:

    HI,

    I used to like Howard. Now I don’t like him. Making a comment about his former teammates just shows how arrogant he is and just such a BIG Baby. He needs to grow up. And talking about fixed games. I believe and this is my opinion, why wasn’t Ibaka suspended a game. I believe that David Stern wanted the whole roster to play against each other and it was on tnt. Does David Stern want to lose money by suspending Ibaka and people not watching the game? I think not. I believe David Stern was wrong and that he could still suspend Ibaka. I am glad David Stern is leaving soon. I believe he has lost the objectivity and only focusing on money and not fairness to all the basketball players. GOODBYE David Stern!

    • William says:

      David Stern was hired by the owners to make them more money. That’s his job!

      Whoever takes his place must continue to make money for the owners or he will be out of a job.

  22. cojab says:

    RAFER ALSTON!

    not jameer nelson.

    stan van gundy lost that championship because he trusted jameer nelson, who just got back from injury.

    it was rafer alston who played point from round 1 to the east finals (if my memory serves me right) then SVG suddenly started jameer and it was downhill from there.

    • uoykcuf says:

      Yea, Skip was balling until SVG start using Jameer, He was just coming back from injuries. Wasn’t much of a factor at finals.
      Another note, I always thought Jameer was overated. He’s an okay ball player and might be a good leader but not even close to borderline all-star.

    • Terence says:

      Questionable move … no doubt. He did start Jameer but thats not why they lost. They lost 4 games to 1 because the Lakers were better.

    • Fan says:

      Thank you! Skip was playing awesome basketball that year controlling the tempo. Had that 30 point game against Cleveland to steal game 1 on the road. Skip knew how to run with Hedo and the team played well. Also one game during the Finals Jameer backed of Derek Fisher when they were up by 3. Why the hell would you back off a 3 point shooter when they are down by 3 with less than a minute on the clock? That team was one of my favorite season teams to watch and they let Hedo + Courtney Lee go.

  23. Joshua Greenfarb says:

    Also notice when Lopez weakly went up for the dunk attempt, as if allowing Howard to block it. ON PURPOSE.

    He let Howard block his dunk attempt.

    FIXED! FIXED!

    Howard secretly asked Lopez to let him block his dunk to make him look good in the highlights?

    Not a real block. Not a spectacular block. Howard trying to market his currently defunct defensive skills.

    FIXED! FIXED! NOT REAL! SHENNANIGANS!

    • Lebron's Headband says:

      You’re an idiot.

    • toki says:

      hahahahaha……….. want to hear a joke? it’s this guy named “Joshua Greenfarb” …

      peace out…. btw you should quit whatever the hell you are smoking.

    • stop living the past says:

      start living in the present buddy! your sick and its eating your mind. hatred wont do any good. why dont you just enjoy the game.

  24. Joshua Greenfarb says:

    I didn’t see the game (just hightlights), but that Laker-Hornets game was A JOKE!!

    Lakers make biggest comeback in their history since 2002??????????

    Came back from 30-points down?

    LUCK is going to run out.

    They deserved to lose to the Hornets. But guess what? You think it was fixed in that 4th quarter? I believe so. Maybe it’s just a conspiracy theory … but what if it isn’t?

    Notice (in the highlights) when Jody Meeks was WIDE WIDE WIDE OPEN. It looked like all 5 Hornet defenders were on the other side of the paint, hovering around the three-point line on the other wing. AS IF they left him this wide open ON PURPOSE.

    THE GAME WAS FIXED!! THE 4TH QUARTER WAS FIXED!!! Hornets gave away the game in that 4th quarter (why? who knows?). They let the Lakers comeback and win the game. SO OBVIOUS! Hornets didn’t play for real in that 4th quarter.

    SHENNANIGANS!! SHENNANIGANS!! FIXED!! FIXED!! LAKERS CHEATED!! HORNETS LET THEM WIN!!

    • MiamiBoy20 says:

      can’t accept the fact that they loose?? what a lame looser you are dude…

      • Bstarr says:

        I don’t want to say that this game was fixed but ok that 4th quarter was an amazing one. Hornets did gave so much space and easy baskets away. Maybe it was more that LAL woke up and believed that they can still win it.

        Personally I thought they already lost this one when the 4th quarter started, but ok we have seen several comebacks over the years in the NBA.

        So let’s add this on the amazing comebacks section.

        I’m not a LAL fan but still wants them in the playoffs this year intstead of Utah.

      • Jon says:

        Learn to spell, and stop acting like a douche. You can make a point without calling people names.

    • uoykcuf says:

      Damn man, I dislike the lakers but this trolls way too far.
      Remember they are the Hornets, you can literally trail by 40 and win and the game.

    • Terence says:

      Ummm … WHY?

    • Truth says:

      You are the PERFECT example of A Lakers Hater LOL, your pathetic, u just mad bro..