March 13th, 2013
Is Dwight Howard ready to compete for a championship?
It’s been almost seven months since the blockbuster trade that brought Dwight Howard to LA, to join forces with Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol. No one can say that this trade was worked out well for the Lakers up to now. However, during the last weeks the team has really picked up its performance and Howard is no exception. He finally shows what a dominant player he can be, a beast down the block.
In recent win of the Lakers over Howard’s former team, the Orlando Magic, he scored 39 points and also grabbed 16 and denied 3 shots. An amazing stat he had was his 39 free-throw attempts, of which he managed to get 25 to go in. This tied the NBA record for most free-throw attempts in a game. Since the start of the season, lots of teams have followed a weird –yet successful- tactics against the 6’11” center. They intentionally fouled him when the Lakers had possession, even if Howard didn’t have the ball and tried to score a basket. That led him to missed free-throws.Nevertheless, Howard proved during the last game that he can handle such situation and he punished the Magic.
Possibly the most essential fact is that Howard is finally healthy. He entered the season not at his full strength, after passing through a serious back problem that could be proved to be even more severe. The surgery he underwent last spring and his time off the courts made him lose his pace.
After the All-Star break, D-12 started showing some urgency, as the rest of the team did. In fact it was time they all did. His numbers show the truth, 17.6 points per game, almost 15 rebounds and 2.6 blocks. It’s like he is a different player and it’s way more than just stats.
With the constant and long-lasting injuries of Pau Gasol, he had to step up and take more responsibilities, both offensively and on defense. He now seems to have accepted his role as a defensive wall in the paint and as top option on the offensive end, together with Kobe. The Lakers will definitely need him at his best as they progress through their schedule. Especially in the Playoffs, Howard can be an ace hidden in the sleeve for them. There is arguably no player currently in the NBA that can defend him in the post on a consistent basis. If he catches the ball close to the basket, it’s really possible that he’ll score or get fouled, or both. That’s the Dwight Howard the league got to know, during his first years in Orlando and that’s who the Lakers’ fans expected to see after the trade.
The number one priority now should be health for Howard. As he stated, he feels great with his body and admitted he has started finding his rhythm. Coach Mike D’Antoniagreed, saying that he sees the improvement in his condition and performance day by day. At last, as Dwight is the Superman we expected him to be.
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July 5th, 2012
Deron Williams Brooklyn Nets
Deron Williams was the leading free agent this offseason, and now that he has decided to return to the Brooklyn Nets, other teams will have to re-evaluate their alternatives.
Deron Williams is returning to the Nets. He announced on Twitter that he has agreed to a five-year, $100 million contract with the Brooklyn Nets. Williams, the top free agent available, decide to stay with the Nets over signing with the Mavericks, who hoped they could convince him to come back to the area where he grew up. It’s a enormous triumph for the Nets as they get ready to move into the new Barclays Center to start the 2012-13 season.
They have been extremely productive since the start of free agency on July 1. They traded for Joe Johnson and are rumored to be in talks with the Orlando Magic to bring Dwight Howard to Brooklyn.
Deron’ choice comes a day after the Nets agreed to a deal with Atlanta for All-Star guard Joe Johnson, and among reports they are still hoping to make a deal with Orlando for Dwight Howard. Brooklyn also has a deal in place to re-sign versatile free agent forward Gerald Wallace.
Williams will be the centerpiece of a decent nucleus in Brooklyn. Joe Johnson will be his backcourt mate, and Gerald Wallace will start off at small forward.
Williams averaged 21 points and 8.7 assists last season and had a 57-point game. One of the league’s major point guards since entering the NBA as the No. 3 pick of the Jazz in 2005, he was ahead of his rivals when last season started after playing in Turkey through the lockout.
The Nets now have three former All-Stars in the lineup – Deron, Joe and Gerald Wallace – and are prepared match any offer for restricted free agent Lopez. The wild card is Howard.
Just 2 years after a 70-loss season, the Nets will have one of the NBA’s greatest backcourts and are poised to make a quick move up the Eastern Conference standings. Williams will cause the rest of the dominoes to fall as he was the top guard and overall player in this summer’s free agency class.
Williams didn’t always seem to appreciate playing in New Jersey, with the Nets spending the past two seasons in a temporary home in Newark. But he should really play in front of packed crowds in Brooklyn as the most important attraction at the Barclays Center.
February 26th, 2012
Friday night the NBA hosted a number of events, none more interesting than the 2012 Sprint NBA All-Star Celebrity Game (5 p.m. | ESPN) and BBVA Rising Stars Challenge (7 p.m. | TNT).
Back in my day All-Star Friday night would be a place where they’d just talk to the All-Stars on camera, live, and get Karl Malone mad. The Celebrity Game and “Rookie” game have both gone through a number of changes over the years. This year in the Celebrity game they augmented the rosters with some former NBA-All Stars (passed their prime), and one WNBA notable (Tamika Catchings). The coaches for the two teams (somehow separated into “East” and “West”) were Orlando Magic Dwight Howard and Oklahoma City Thunder Kevin Durant respectively. I really had no idea who the celebrities in the celebrity game were except for the Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Kevin Hart.
There were even more changes in the Rookie game. This year they put all the rookies and sophomores into a pool, and had Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley alternate picks to fill out the two teams. The rosters used to only be 8 players strong, but because Jeremy Lin is a huge story right now, they increased the roster size to 10 players. In the older format it was very rare for the rookie team to beat the sophomore team. This way seems a bit more interesting though; you know, provided that the people making the picks actually know what they are doing. Ex Los Angeles Lakers Shaq’s first two picks, LA Clippers Blake Griffin and Jeremy Lin, both hardly played at all during the game. On the other hand, Chuck’s first two picks dominated when they were in the game. Early on DeMarcus Cousins was dunking on everybody, and his first pick Kyrie Irving won the MVP of the game (He went 8-8 from downtown). Also the two teams had every uneven coaching. Shaq’s team was coached by an assistant coach for the Chicago Bulls and Steve Kerr (TNT). The Chicago Bulls assistant was coaching in a game where no one played defense, so he was wasted; and Kerr was a GM but never a coach. On Charles’ team the two coaches were Maurice Cheeks (Oklahoma City Thunder assistant coach), and Mike Fratello (TNT). Mo Cheeks and The Czar were both NBA head coaches — and Mike was totally into the game actually coaching.
I’m having difficulty finding an actual Box Score of the game, but Gordon Hayward finished the game with 14 points, a pair of blocks, and countless nice passes. His outside shot was still missing; however he got to do a little bit of everything and he looked like he was having fun. I was particularly impressed with his defensive rebounds — which he snagged due to his length and athleticism, I would like to see more of that for the Jazz. Derrick Favors also added 14 points, in 14 minutes according to John Hollinger. He made pretty much all of his shots, including all of his free throws — and he was the only guy out there on Chuck’s team who failed to convert his thinking into “Exhibition Game Mode”. In a way, he was the analog to Shaq’s team’s dour blue collar bigman Greg Monroe. They both played back to the basket, had some dunks, but many more of their finishes were fundamentally sound. And they both played post defense, instead of just letting people dunk it. Monroe, of course, stole the game and the highlight of the game when — in super-duper garbage time, actually disrupted a potential John Wall Jam, and turned it into a full court assist with seconds left on the clock.
Both of our guys played well off the bench, and seem to be enjoying themselves. Hopefully they can get more playing time together in the second half of the season. I think the last time I watched the rookie game was when Andrei Kirilenko was a sophomore, and he was the only guy playing defense for his team. Nice to know that few things have changed for the mentality of our players.
February 24th, 2012
NBA All-Star Weekend 2012 officially kicks off Friday in Orlando. Here’s a schedule of all the top-tier All-Star Weekend events.
Usually known as the Rookie/Sophomore Game, the 2012 edition of the Rising Stars Challenge is different because TNT analysts Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley selected the rosters from a pool of the top first- and second-year players. Reigning Rookie of the Year winner Blake Griffin of the Los Angeles Clippers and New York Knicks sensation Jeremy Lin headline Team Shaq. Top overall draft choice Kyrie Irving of the Cleveland Cavaliers and versatile big-man DeMarcus Cousins of the Sacramento Kings anchor Team Chuck.
All-Star Saturday Night opens with the Haier Shooting Stars, which pits the defending champion Team Atlanta against Team Orlando, Team New York, and Team Texas.
The next event is the Taco Bell Skills Challenge, in which six of the league’s top point guards battle to complete an obstacle course that tests their dribbling, passing, and shooting ability. Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors, the defending champion, will take on Irving, Tony Parker of the San Antonio Spurs, John Wall of the Washington Wizards, Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder, and Deron Williams of the New Jersey Nets.
The Foot Locker Three-Point Contest follows the Skills Challenge in which Magic forward Ryan Anderson will challenge the defending champion James Jones of the Miami Heat. Other competitors include Mario Chalmers of the Miami Heat, Kevin Durant of Oklahoma City, Kevin Love of the Minnesota Timberwolves, and Anthony Morrow of the New Jersey Nets. Durant replaces Atlanta Hawks swingman Joe Johnson, who will sit out the contest due to injury.
The Sprite Slam Dunk Contest concludes All-Star Saturday Night. This year’s dunk showdown features four players who have never before competed; it’s all fresh faces. In addition, the dunk contest will debut a new, one-round format in which each competitor has the opportunity to execute three dunks. The field is Chase Budinger of the Houston Rockets, Jeremy Evans of the Utah Jazz, Paul George of the Indiana Pacers, and Derrick Williams of Minnesota. Evans replaces Knicks rookie Iman Shumpert, who had to bow out of the competition due to injury.
The main event of the weekend finally tips Sunday evening. Magic center Dwight Howard, the leading vote-getter among all players, will start for the East, while Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant will tie a record for consecutive All-Star appearances with 14.
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January 27th, 2012
The NBA All-Star Game is a game held annually between the top players in the Western and Eastern Conferences of the National Basketball Association. The game is part of All-Star
Weekend, held every February, which includes other exhibition activities such as the Rookie Challenge, Slam Dunk Contest, and Three-Point Shootout. The first NBA All-Star Game was held in 1951 in Boston, Massachusetts. The game gives fans the chance to see the best players in the NBA play together in a more relaxed atmosphere. The game is a celebration of basketball and sportsmanship and a real treat for any NBA fan.
Players for the NBA All-Star Game are selected in two different ways. NBA fans choose the starters, and the reserves are chosen by coaches, though the coaches cannot vote for their own players. The All-Star teams are coached by the coaches from each conference with the best record through the second week in February. Coaches, however, cannot coach two years in a row anymore. This is known as the “Riley Rule” – because of Pat Riley’s success with the Lakers in the 1980′s, he coached the Western Conference All-Star team nearly every year. The coach with the next best record is selected in this case to coach the team.
In May 4 2010, NBA Commissioner David Stern announced in a press conference that Orlando has been selected as the site of the NBA All-Star Weekend 2012, the 61st edition of this popular event.
The NBA All-Star Game will be played on Sunday, February 26 in the Amway Center, the new Orlando Magic Stadium to be opened in the fall of 2010. In the previous 2 days, the Amway Center also host the Rookie Challenge and the regular contests of the Saturday Night. The NBA All Star Jam Session will be held in the Orange County Convention Center.
This is the second time the All-Star visits Orlando, 20 years after the unforgettable 1992 edition, when Magic Johnson came back to the courts after starting his battle against the AIDS to win the MVP trophy and send a huge message to the whole world.
Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, David Robinson or Clyde Drexler were some of the greatest stars in 1992. Craig Hodges won his third three-point contest and Cedric Ceballos made a name for himself with a “no-look” dunk. In 2011 Blake Griffin stunned the arena by jumping over a car in the slam dunk contest.
The NBA All Star Weekend is second only to the Super Bowl when it comes to the biggest party weekend on the planet. Celebrities, pro athletes, and many more come to party with the NBA elite. Last year in Los Angeles, Dwight Howard had his own private party with performances by Rick Ross and Rihanna. Now the All Star Weekend in 2012 has shifted to Orlando, Florida. Dwight Howard’s hometown. With his contract expiring at the end of the season, this could be Dwight Howard’s last year in an Orlando Magic uniform.
The Eastern and Western Conference all-star teams will be led by the coaches with the best records in their respective conferences as of February 12 – two weeks before the game. Last year’s coaches – Boston’s Doc Rivers and San Antonio Spurs Gregg Popovic – are ineligible; league rules prohibit a coach from running the all-star team in consecutive seasons.
EASTERN CONFERENCE is made by teams Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls, Atlanta Hawks, Miami Heat, Orlando Magic, and part of WESTERN CONFERENCE are excellent Dallas Mavericks, Memphis Grizzlies, Minnesota Timberwolves, Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, Sacramento Kings etc.
NBA All Star Game Tickets are onsale now. You can also purchase NBA All Star Rookie Challenge NBA All Star Slam Dunk Contest.
January 23rd, 2012
The long-hyped sophomore Point Guard monster for the Washington Wizards, John Wall, is finally coming into his own this season. Through the first 11 games of the season, he averaged 13 points on an atrocious 34% shooting. In the last 5 games, Wall is shooting 41% (only marginally better), but stuffing the stat sheet with 24 points, 8 rebounds, 8 assists, 1 steal and 1 block. Except for the bad shooting, those stats are among the elite of basketball. If he keeps it up, and eventually gets his shot to fall, John Wall could be looking at his ascension into the conversation for best Point Guard sooner rather than later. The effects of the lockout seem to be wearing off finally for Wall and others who have had a historically slow start to their seasons.
On January 20th, Portland Trail Blazers LaMarcus Aldridge went off for 33 points, 23 boards and 5 assists, making it a candidate for performance of the year so far. Orlando Magic Dwight Howard may have something to say about that, especially in light of recent rumors saying that Los Angeles Lakers Andrew Bynum was the best Center in today’s NBA. The same night that Aldridge went off for what may have been the best game of his career; “Superman” Dwight Howard annihilated Bynum in a showdown in L.A. Howard posted 21 points and 23 boards of his own and held the injury-prone Bynum to just 10 points and 12 boards in a victory over Bynum’s Lakers. If Howard continues to travel around the league and routinely slaying opposing Centers, Howard will not only solidify himself as the best Center without debate, but he may play himself out of being traded. Therefore, it would be a double-edged sword for Howard. On the season, he is averaging 20 points and 16 boards with 2.3 blocks. Over the past two weeks, though, he has upped those numbers to 23 point and nearly 19 boards, which is simply uncanny. The only other player who compares in the post-lockout NBA is Minnesota Timberwolves Kevin Love. On the season, Love is putting up 24 points, 14 boards, 2 threes, but all on 41% shooting, which is extremely low for a big man. Over the past two weeks, Love is shooting even worse: 36%, meaning the effects of the lockout are still lingering for Love, who was pimped by Yahoo Sports incessantly at the beginning of the season for losing weight and staying healthy during the lockout.
Other top big men with absurd shooting problems include Amar’e Stoudemire (41%), Chicago Bulls Joakim Noah (42%), Dirk Nowitzki (45%), David West (45%), DeMarcus Cousins (44%), and ex Los Angeles Clippers Chris Kaman (44%). Owners of any of these players in fantasy basketball are probably pulling their hair out right now, especially those who drafted Dallas Mavericks Dirk Nowitzki or Amar’e Stoudemire in the 1st round of their drafts. In real life, neither player has really contributed many wins for their respective teams to go along with their low shooting percentages. The New York Knicks are just 5-12, good for 10th place overall in the Eastern Conference, which is not an enviable position for a team consisting of Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony. Similarly, the defending champs are also struggling. They at least have a winning record at 10-7, good for 7th place in the West. The story of the young season so far might be how under the radar the Philadelphia 76ers have flown. They are 11-5 and getting quiet contributions from their whole roster. John Wall’s Wizards team is easily the worst team in the league right now, sitting at 2-14. However, if Wall’s recent statistical uptick is any indication, the Wizards have no place to go but up.
December 2nd, 2011
The NBA won’t unveil its full revamped 2011-12 schedule until Tuesday, but the league did formally announce its opening day slate. The 2011 NBA Christmas schedule includes five national TV games featuring many of the biggest stars in the game.
- Boston Celtics at New York Knicks, 12 p.m. ET, TNT. These two teams met in the first round of the NBA playoffs last April, with Boston taking a sweep. The Knicks are looking to add some firepower before the season starts with either Chris Paul or Dwight Howard.
- Miami Heat at Dallas Mavericks, 2:30 p.m. ET, ABC. NBA Opening day rematch for the 2011 finals. The Christmas gift for the Miami Heat is to get to watch the Mavericks lift the Championship Trophy. Should make for a great game.
- Chicago Bulls at L.A. Lakers, 5 p.m. ET, ABC. Reigning MVP Derrick Rose will waltz his Bulls into STAPLES Center for the first game of the Mike Brown’ era. It will be the 14th Christmas Day game for the 16 year vet Kobe Bryant.
- Orlando Magic at Oklahoma City Thunder, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN. The league added the final two games to the schedule since the lockout ended last week. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are great fun to watch, this could be a preview of the Finals if Dwight Howard’s future is still in Orlando.
- L.A. Clippers at Golden State Warriors, 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN. This is the equivalent of a Christmas gift to true heads saddened by the lockout. Oracle Arena is one of the best environments in pro sports, and Blake Griffin is looking to make the top 10 highlight reel on a national level.