Morning shootaround — March 3


VIDEO: Highlights from games played March 2

NEWS OF THE MORNING

Dragic gets revenge against Phoenix | Griffin prepares for return | Harden suspended for kick | Teletovic says Bosh should be fine

No. 1: Dragic gets revenge against Phoenix — After the Phoenix Suns moved Goran Dragic at the trade deadline, both sides publicly took the other side to task in the media. Dragic, for his part, says it was hard to take the accusations of being selfish. Last night, with the Suns’ postseason hopes setting, the Suns went to Miami to take on Dragic and the Heat. Things didn’t go Phoenix’s way, as the Heat not only won 115-98, but the game devolved into a wrestling match. As Paul Coro writes in the Arizona Republic

It was hard enough to see Goran Dragic polish them off in the fourth quarter and fly off the court in glee, pumping his arm in relief after a foul-plagued first half. It was bad enough losing starting big men Markieff Morris and Alex Len to second-half ejections for a Flagrant Foul 2 and a fighting technical, respectively. It was even worse than committing 13 first-half turnovers to make the rest of the night difficult.

The Suns (31-30) just were not tough enough and know it after a 3-10 stretch.

“We have to find out who on this team is going to be tough,” Suns coach Jeff Hornacek said. “In terms of going after balls, we are soft going after everything. Teams just take the ball out of our hands. Maybe they grab your arm but you have to be tougher than that. I don’t know what it is but, when teams get physical, we look like a high school team. We have to get tougher and we have to find tougher guys who are going to battle. I get tired of watching us not go after balls. There is nothing worse to me than being soft and not going after a ball.

“In the second half, we showed some fight. We waited three quarters of getting pushed in the back before we decided to do anything about it.”

Some of that fight wound up hurting themselves. In chasing down Dragic on a breakaway, Markieff Morris was called for a questionable Flagrant Foul 2 in a game in which he already had been assessed his 13th technical foul of the season, which ties him for the NBA lead with Russell Westbrook and puts him three away from an automatic one-game suspension.

Morris tried to check on Dragic after the foul but the officials would not let him. After a review, Morris received a Flagrant Foul 2, which is supposed to be for “excessive and unnecessary” contact but it appeared Morris mostly connected bodies on his challenge.

“It was a hard foul,” Morris said. “It was a basketball play, I thought. The refs thought otherwise and kicked me out. Just overexaggerating. I thought he did fall hard. He was in the air and jumped back. My momentum hit him hard. It was a hard foul. It didn’t look intentional like I tried to push him under there or none of that.”

At that point, Miami took a 68-53 lead off the free throws less than four minutes into the third quarter. About four minutes later, Miami center Hassan Whiteside dunked on Suns center Alex Len, as he often did Monday, and came down on Len, who shoved him off. Whiteside tackled Len to the ground and a scrum ensued, leading to fighting technical fouls and ejections for Whiteside and Len.

Len was unavailable for comment after the game but Whiteside said Len was mad “because I just kept dunking on him.” Whiteside, a midseason sensation, had 17 points and 10 rebounds in 26 minutes.

“You’re not going to come into Miami and just bully us,” Whiteside said.

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No. 2: Griffin prepares for return — Clippers forward Blake Griffin has been out since before the All-Star break after surgery to address a staph infection. But speaking to the media yesterday, Clips coach Doc Rivers said Griffin is close to coming back and should be back sooner than later. As Arash Markazi writes on ESPNLosAngeles.com

“I know he’s running and sweating and going full-tilt now,” Rivers said. “That’s good. I’m not sure what that means, not being there, but I know he’s working, and that’s all you can hope for. It’s a good sign.”

When Rivers was asked if Griffin was able to return to basketball activities, he said, “Yeah, I think so — shooting.”

Rivers said he didn’t know when Griffin would be back. Asked if Sunday’s game against the Golden State Warriors was a possibility, which would be four weeks since Griffin was sidelined, Rivers said, “I guess it’s possible.”

A team source said Griffin had not begun shooting yet but would this week and cautioned that a return Sunday would be “wildly optimistic,” even though his conditioning is back to normal. A more likely target would be the following week.

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No. 3: Harden suspended for kick — Houston’s James Harden squared off against LeBron James and the Cavaliers in a match-up of potential MVP candidates on Sunday, and Harden came away with the victory. But a day later, Harden caught a loss: The NBA suspended Harden for one game for a kick to James during a scramble for a loose ball. Harden will miss Houston’s game tonight against the best team in the East, Atlanta. This will be the first game that Harden, an MVP candidate, will miss this season. As Jonathan Feigen writes in the Houston Chronicle

The NBA on Monday reacted to James Harden’s “reaction,” booting him from Tuesday game in Atlanta for kicking Cavaliers star LeBron James on Sunday in Houston.

Harden received the one-game suspension for kicking James below the belt in the third quarter of Sunday’s win at Toyota Center. It will be the first game he has missed this season.

Harden, who was unavailable for comment on Monday, said on Sunday that he did not believe his action would merit a suspension.

“It’s a reaction,” Harden said. “They called a flagrant. Next play we moved on.”

In addition to the one-game ban, the NBA also upgraded the foul from a flagrant-1 to a flagrant-2.

Rockets coach Kevin McHale said he did not see the incident. On Monday, when he was asked if he had seen the video and had any thoughts about the flagrant foul, McHale said, “I don’t have any idea.”

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No. 4: Teletovic says Bosh should be fine — Brooklyn Nets forward Mirza Teletovic was diagnosed with blood clots in his lungs a few months ago, ending his season. And while Teletovic is now on his way to recovery, he spoke with the Brooklyn media yesterday and passed along a message to Miami’s Chris Bosh, who is also out for the season with blood clots. As Tim Bontemps wrote in the New York Post

Teletovic said he’s already back working out fully, with the only restriction on him being to stay out of contact drills because of the blood thinning medication he’s on. He said he should be able to return to full basketball activities in July.

The 6-foot-8 power forward, who is a restricted free agent this summer, made an impassioned pitch to return to the Nets next season, saying he loves everything about the franchise.

“They were my first choice coming to the NBA,” Teletovic said. “I love the team, have a lot of respect for people who work for the Nets and the organization… I really enjoyed it, so I hope I stay.”

He also had a message for Chris Bosh, who also was lost for the season after being diagnosed with blood clots a couple weeks ago.

“I want to take this opportunity to reach out to Chris Bosh and tell him he doesn’t have to worry,” Teletovic said. “He’s going to be good, and he’s going to start working out soon.”

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SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Knicks coach Derek Fisher thinks the Knicks will be able to add some “really good players” this offseason … Kevin Garnett bought and gave out 1,000 tickets for last night’s Timberwolves/Clippers game as a way of thanking Minnesota fans … The Grizzlies have signed JaMychal Green to a multi-year contract … The Heat have reportedly agreed to a second 10-day contract with Henry Walker

3 Comments

  1. bodjee says:

    Harden should have been ejected right away.

  2. harriethehawk says:

    So Derrick Fisher thinks the Knickerbonkers will be able to attract some good players next season? The question of the hour: will he still be thee to see that happen? lol

  3. dustydreamnz says:

    1. Morris’ foul and Dragic wasn’t bad I thought. Sure, he fouled him hard but I think he was going for the ball and it was blown way out of proportion.
    I think with Phil Jackson at the Knicks and a few promising players starting to emerge and Melo to return, the Knicks will attract 1 or 2 quality free agents.
    Henry Walker looks the goods, should get a long term deal in future.