Brandon Roy searches for his inner Kobe

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nba_roy_250.jpgLarry Bird, killer. Michael Jordan, killer. Kobe Bryant, killer.

Brandon Roy… meh.

At least it was that way, until Roy took a hard look at himself after a recent Portland loss to Denver and told Yahoo’s Mark Spears things had to change.

I look back at [Michael] Jordan, and Kobe recently. Those guys try to dominate. You look at big men like Shaq, they dominate,” Roy said. “It was an edge. I got to get that edge. Even when I play against Carmelo and those guys, they play with that edge. They want to bury you. I’m thinking, ‘I got to get that edge.’ “

Roy has averaged 27 points on 57 percent shooting in the four games since the Blazers fell to Denver. The Blazers won all four games.

Lessons are learned the hard way in an unforgiving NBA. This was the season the Trail Blazers were supposed to vault into the NBA elite, to threaten the hated Lakers (an few places hate them like Portland), to take the next step. But due to injuries and more, the Blazers have taken a step back.

A lot of teams never recover from that step back, the players fold (or management panics and makes ill-advised trades). Roy is not letting that happen in Portland. Or at least starting to, consistency is the challenge. Kobe brings it every night. Roy has help, the front office brought in Marcus Camby to fill in for the host of injured centers. Roy has tried to put this team on his back.

And it is working. Right now, you can be sure the Lakers want no part of Killer Roy and his team in the first round.

Stan Van Gundy rips ‘selfish’ Pistons

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The Pistons had just 19 assists – to 22 turnovers – in their 93-83 loss to the Nets last night.

Stan Van Gundy was none too pleased.

On offensive problems:

I told them in there – that was the first thing – we’re not playing together at all. I thought it was a very selfish performance, and guys wouldn’t just pass the ball to open men. They wanted to see if they could take one more dribble to get their own shot, so the passing angles were gone. I just thought we forced play after play after play. We’re not willing to move the ball

On Reggie Jackson, who scored seven points on 3-of-10 shooting with six assists and six turnovers, and was coming off Achilles soreness:

He was not good at all. He was forcing everything.

On injuries to point guards – Jackson, Brandon Jennings and Steve Blake – hindering the team’s flow in practice and that carrying over to the game:

We could probably make a lot of excuses for our guys, but we were selfish.

Van Gundy is clearly trying to send a message, and the preseason is the best time to do it.

But it’s somewhat troubling he had to do it after this game.

Eight of the 10 Pistons who played against Brooklyn project to make the regular-season rotation. Joel Anthony played over Aron Baynes, and once healthy, Blake could challenge Spencer Dinwiddie to become back up point guard – at least until Jennings is ready. Otherwise, Detroit – with Jackson, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Marcus Morris, Ersan Ilyasova, Andre Drummond, Jodie Meeks, Stanley Johnson and Anthony Tolliver – looked similar to its opening-night lineup.

Van Gundy is blunt, but he doesn’t tell the media things he hasn’t already directly told his players. They appreciate that.

He’d appreciate them getting this message.

Report: Dwight Howard didn’t have offseason surgery

Dwight Howard
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Dwight Howard said he played with a torn MCL and meniscus in the Western Conference finals – pretty shocking news that few knew what to make of.

So, um, did he have offseason surgery?

Calvin Watkins of ESPN:

Howard obviously feels great about his health now, so maybe this was the right course.

We’ll never how Howard would have performed if fully healthy, but he averaged 14.4 points and 14.4 rebounds in 35.1 minutes per game against the Warriors during the conference finals. How bad could the injuries have been?