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.

Ray Allen tells Orlando court he was ‘catfished’

Thos Robinson/Getty Images for Nike/Levi's/Rookie USA show
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ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Retired NBA star Ray Allen believes he is a victim of “catfishing,” and has asked a court to throw out a case where he is accused of stalking someone he met online.

Allen says Bryant Coleman “pretended to be a number of attractive women interested in” him. In documents filed Tuesday, Allen acknowledges he communicated with who he thought were those women and that he eventually entered into an agreement with Coleman to not disclose details of those conversations.

Allen says that agreement was violated.

It was not clear if Coleman has an attorney, and a working phone number for him could not be found. Coleman told the court in a filing Monday that Allen is stalking him; in Allen’s request for an injunction, he says “the reverse is true.”

Klay Thompson interviewed about scaffolding on local news (video)

AP Photo/Chris Szagola
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Man-on-the-street interviews are a staple of local news.

They just don’t usually include Warriors star Klay Thompson.

But here’s Thompson – in town for Golden State’s win over the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday – talking on Fox 5 New York about walking under scaffolding in the wake of a couple recent scaffolding collapses:

Thompson is the only NBA star who could do this interview so earnestly.

Joel Embiid blocks and stares down Donovan Mitchell, who then pushes flopping 76ers center (video)

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Joel Embiid (when healthy) is running wild over the NBA.

Last night was no different, with Embiid (15 points, 11 rebounds, three assists, two blocks +16) excelling in the 76ers’ 107-86 win over the Jazz. And he let Utah rookie Donovan Mitchell know about it.

After blocking Mitchell in the fourth quarter, Embiid stared down a fallen Mitchell. Mitchell got up and pushed Embiid – listed at nine inches and 35 pounds heavier – to the floor.

Embiid, via NBC Sports Philadelphia:

I flopped, and he got a technical for it. So, that was basically how it happened. But it’s all fun. After the game, we shook hands. It’s just about having fun.

Embiid is having fun. That’s for sure.

LeBron James, Tyronn Lue say LeBron’s minutes no big deal

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LeBron James was on the court a very reasonable 27:16 Monday night, only because the Cavaliers had thrashed the upstart Pistons so badly he didn’t need to play the fourth quarter (116-88 final in that one).

However, on the season LeBron is averaging 37.9 minutes per game, the most in the NBA. He has played 644 total minutes, also tops in the NBA. All this in his 15th year in the league, about to turn 33, with more regular season games played in his career than Michael Jordan. Even Draymond Green has wondered about LeBron’s workload. LeBron himself didn’t disagree, saying the goal is to get the minutes down.

However, as this has become a thing, the Cavaliers are playing it down. Here is Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue after the Detroit win, via Dave McMenamin of ESPN.

“I hear about that all the time,” a somewhat perturbed Lue said. “I played with Michael Jordan when he was 39, he played 37 minutes a night. Karl Malone was 37, played 38 minutes a night, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Kobe [Bryant]. Everybody’s built different. If you’re one of the greats, sometimes you’ve got to play, sometimes you get rest like tonight.”

The way Kobe’s body broke down on him at the end of his career, is he the guy you want as an example here?

LeBron was not that worried about his minutes after the Detroit win, either.

“You make so much a big thing about my minutes,” James said. “It’s not a huge issue. But at the end of the day, when we can get a win like this, everybody benefits from it. Not just me. Everybody.”

The concern isn’t just the heavy minutes, but the workload — with Isaiah Thomas still out, and right now Derrick Rose and Iman Shumpert as well, basically all the playmaking duties on the team fall on LeBron. He has to carry the Cavs.

With most players, you would say this will distinctly wear on them and could be an issue down the line. With LeBron, normal human rules do not apply. He’s playing at MVP consideration level again early — 28.3 points, 8.5 assists, and 7.4 rebounds a game while shooting 58.2 percent from the floor — and nothing seems to slow him. Maybe eventually the Cavaliers will play well enough consistently there will be more light nights for LeBron, and he can have some games off. For now, however, they need him on the court and performing like a superstar.