Howard moves one step closer to suspension

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Last night, Dwight Howard picked up a technical foul with the Magic nursing a two-point lead in overtime against the Heat. Not good.

Orlando lived, because the Magic are a better team with better chemistry and more depth. That one point the Heat gained off of the technical free throw bore only fleeting significance, as late game surges by Jameer Nelson and Rashard Lewis put Orlando over the top and kept them there.

Last night, Dwight Howard picked up a technical foul with the Magic nursing a two-point lead in overtime against the Heat. Not good.

Orlando lived, but in this case the Magic’s short-term success in spite of Dwight’s tech may be offset by the long-term implications: that technical foul was Dwight’s 15th of the year, just one short of a mandatory one-game suspension. Howard’s next T will be met with a game on the bench.

Not to play the ‘poor, pitiful Dwight’ card here, but big men are pushed, pulled, held, and fouled in ways that most others players and refs are completely oblivious of. That’s the burden of being the biggest, baddest dude on the court, and when your presence is as menacing and influential as Howard’s, you’re going to get fouled. A lot. Only some of those fouls are going to be called, because officiating is an undeniably human element of the game we know and love.

Big men often have a reason to complain, and while the calls for Dwight et al to just “play the damn game” are justified to an extent, I sympathize. I’ve seen undersized players hook Howard’s arm as he goes up for a rebound. I’ve seen them tug on his jersey. Hell, I’ve seen Howard do the very same things to other players.

That doesn’t make things any less frustrating for the always expressive Howard, but it does speak to this kind of trench warfare as a fact of life. I don’t know if that justifies Howard’s complaining to the refs or removes its base entirely, but Dwight should cut it out regardless. Orlando isn’t in a particularly vulnerable position right now, but that doesn’t mean Howard and the team can’t tread softly in order to avoid losing a bit of the momentum they’ve built up in recent weeks.

Shabazz Muhammad awkwardly mentions Collective Bargaining Agreement during halftime interview (video)

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The Timberwolves surprisingly led the Spurs by nine at halftime last night, which takes us to Shabazz Muhammad‘s mid-game interview.

Muhammad:

We’re doing a great job on defense, Wiggs, myself, everybody. It’s a tough team, especially Kawhi and the guys. So, we’re doing a really good job and everybody’s collective ā€“ Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Um. What?

To be fair, I can’t even imagine what type of nonsense I’d spew in the midst of a taxing workout or a high-pressure situation ā€“ let alone something that qualifies as both.

Unfortunately for Muhammad, Minnesota eventually fell to San Antonio, 100-93. But hopefully, he can laugh at this moment. He should, at least.

hat tip: reddit user cjsplash

Duke’s Jayson Tatum, California’s Ivan Rabb declare for NBA draft

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Wednesday a couple of forwards expected to go in the first round of June’s NBA draft said they plan on making the jump to the NBA.

As expected, Duke’s Jayson Tatum and Cal’s Ivan Rabb made their decisions official.

Duke announced Tatum’s decision.

Tatum is expected to be a top-five pick, DraftExpress.com currently has him as the No. 4 pick. The 6’8″ wing can flat-out score the rock, which is why teams are intrigued, as Rob Dauster of NBC’s College Basketball Talk told us in a recent podcast. However, teams wonder if he can create shots for others and not just himself, and if he’s going to be a good defender at the NBA level. He has the physical tools to do be a good defender, but will he put in the work game in, game out?

Rabb is a 6’10” sophomore who has a great NBA build and athleticism to spare, but at the NBA level everyone is a great athlete. Rabb doesn’t have a great perimeter game and needs to develop one and be a consistent defensive force to be a difference maker (or have a lengthy career) at the NBA level. DraftExpress.com has him going 22nd in this draft, and his stock seems to have fallen over the course of the season.

PBT Extra: What coaches are on hot seat? Alvin Gentry at front of list.

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This season, for the first time in 46 years, no NBA coach will be fired during the season (nobody is getting canned at this point).

However, once the off-season starts, there will be a few changes.

Alvin Gentry in New Orleans and Fred Hoiberg in Chicago are the names most mentioned, but there will be an unexpected firing somewhere around the league. Some GMs are on the hot seat also (Rob Hennigan in Orlando leads that parade).

I get into all of it in this latest PBT Extra.

Raptors’ Serge Ibaka, Bulls’ Robin Lopez each suspended one game for thrown punches

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It was obvious this was coming. Get in a shoving match “fight” in the NBA and you get a fine. However, actually throw punches and…

Toronto’s Serge Ibaka and Chicago’s Robin Lopez each have been suspended for one game by the NBA “for throwing punches at one another during an altercation,” the league announced. What that works out to is a $120,715 hit for Lopez and a $111,364 ding for Ibaka.

Also, Raptors assistant coach Jamaal Magloire earned a $15,000 fine shoving the Bulls Nikola Mirotic and “acting as other than a peacemaker as part of the same altercation.”

This all came out of what seemed a rather innocuous play. Ibaka and Lopez were battling for rebounding positioning, it went on for a second after the ball went through the hoop, Ibaka caught Lopez with a little chicken wing elbow in the back, Lopez spun, and, boy, that escalated quickly. Lopez’s punch missed, while Ibaka’s caught Lopez in the hair more than the body.

Both men got technicals and were ejected.