With NBA Playoffs looming, Portland should have kept their heads


Portland, Oregon may not be a big fancy city, but one thing it does have is incredible basketball fans. Smart, passionate, devoted NBA basketball fans. The collective IQ at a Blazers game is probably higher than the average. But last night it plummeted to Neanderthal levels, and it’s got nothing to do with getting mad at the official.s It’s when they did it.

Last night during the Blazers-Mavericks game, fans became so incensed at a series of what a vast majority of people would call bad calls, things got a little out of hand. Ticky-tack control fouls, foolish technicals, absurd unevenness, and pretty much one of the worst balances of the season, officiating wise. Yet, probably not the worst, and even if so, something that happens routinely in the NBA. And Blazers fans, with where they’re at, have to keep a calm head.

They did not.

As Blazers Edge covers expertly in their recap, fans started throwing things on to the court. Okay, not cool, but that’s nothing too bad. Worthy of ejection if busted, and not acceptable, but that happens about as frequently as these types of games occur. But they also started throwing things into the Mavericks’ huddle.

Too far.

I’m not going to waste your time or mine on why this unacceptable, the possible dangers of doing so, nor am I going to mention the words ‘Ron Artest” or “Malice at the Palace.” But let’s just all agree that throwing things at people is a good way to get things out of hand in a hurry.

But if we’re looking for a long-term effect of this, try this on for size.

The Blazers may be screwed come the playoffs. Sure, there are a handful of regular season games between now and the postseason. But the real consequences will come in the playoffs. With that kind of atmosphere, in what will probably end up with a series against just those Mavericks they played DodgeBeer with last night, or the Los Angeles Lakers.

You know, because LA doesn’t usually end up on the positive side of the officiating.

The Blazers fans have now set a tone that the refs have to respond to. And respond they will, most likely in the form of setting an early tone, delivering quick fouls and technicals, to make it clear that such behavior will not be allowed again. They have an obligation to set a tone, and while the officials have seen their fair share of these kinds of incidents, their hand is still forced in this instance.

Which is bad news for the Blazers. They need a scrappy first round. They need to rely on heart and ability, because their talent is severely limited by injury and other factors. They are in a position of needing to play the kind of game the officials now cannot let go because of their behavior last night. You create an environment of chaos, and unfair or not, the riot police is going to come to restore order and put people back in their homes.

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe the tantrum the collective of Blazers fans (and personnel) will needle the refs to go back the other direction. But if they find themselves with Dirk Nowitzki or Kobe Bryant at the line 40 times in a round one game, they’ll have to deal with the fact that they, at least partially, were at fault.

The season of unfortunate circumstances for the Blazers continues.

Three things we learned Thursday: Dwight Howard can go home again

Atlanta Hawks center Dwight Howard (8) makes his way through the crowd as he leaves the court following a win over the Washington Wizards in an NBA basketball game Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
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The NBA is back, as is PBT with our morning recap of what you need to know from the night before around the NBA — three things we learned. This is what you missed while checking out the Pokemon statue in New Orleans.

1) Dwight Howard can go home again (at least for one game).
What has everyone been asking of Dwight Howard for years and years? Simply play hard defense, crash the boards, and let the offense come to you. Maybe Howard needed to go home for those lessons to sink in. Playing his first game for his hometown Hawks, Howard was a beast on the boards, particularly in the first half. He had seven boards in the first six minutes, and by half he had corralled 15 boards and scored nine points. He finished the night with 19 rebounds and 11 points, which included some highlight dunks.

Howard also played good defense, and the Hawks got the win at home over the Wizards. We’ll see if this Howard keeps showing up night after night, but it was a promising start.

While Howard was good, make no mistake Paul Millsap is still the Hawks best player. He finished the game with 28 points, seven rebounds, six assists and was a plus 22. He took over in the second half and was part of the reason the Hawks pulled away with a 23-5 run in the fourth.

2) What spacing problems? Bulls shoot 44 percent from three in win over Celtics. Boston’s defensive game plan was the one every team is going to employ against Chicago: With Rajon Rondo, Dwyane Wade, and Jimmy Butler on the floor, just go under all the picks and dare for the Bulls to win with jumpers. Because we all know the Bulls can’t shoot. Except Thursday night the Rondo/Wade/Butler trio hit 9-of-14 from thee, and as a team the Bulls shot 44 percent from deep. That included Wade knocking down the dagger three in a win over the Celtics.

Make no mistake, the Bulls still had shooting woes — they shot 37.3 percent inside the arc — they just got bailed out by the threes and 18 offensive rebounds. Chicago is not going to shoot from deep like this every game. Expect them to regress to the mean over the next few games. But it’s a hopeful sign for Bulls fans, this team was knocking down shots when it needed to for a night. Or, maybe it’s just the Bulls save their best games for TNT.

3) Blake Griffin is healthy and people seem to forget just how good he is. There was Reggie Miller on the TNT broadcast saying “Blake Griffin is back” as the Clippers’ forward scored 27 and pulled down 13 boards in a win in Portland. Some were expressing the same sentiment on Twitter. Their wrong. Griffin isn’t back, he’s healthy. And when he’s healthy he is an awesome force of nature who can score inside and out, crashes the boards, and is a deft passer. He’s as good as any power forward in the game when right. Remember, back in 2014 when Chris Paul had to miss extended time Griffin came in third in the MVP voting? That wasn’t a fluke.

Griffin and CP3 are healthy, and so long as they stay that way this Clippers team is one of the top four in the NBA and a real threat to at least make the conference finals. They just need to keep themselves together for 81 more games.

Howard, Millsap, Hardaway lead Hawks past Wizards 114-99

ATLANTA, GA - OCTOBER 27:  Paul Millsap #4 of the Atlanta Hawks shoots against Andrew Nicholson #44 of the Washington Wizards at Philips Arena on October 27, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia.  NOTE TO USER User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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ATLANTA (AP) Dwight Howard dominated the boards in his Atlanta debut, Paul Millsap scored 28 points and Tim Hardaway Jr. ignited the new-look Hawks to a 114-99 victory over the Washington Wizards in their season opener Thursday night.

Howard grabbed 19 rebounds to go along with 11 points, just what the Hawks expected from their new center, and it certainly wasn’t unusual for three-time All-Star Millsap to lead the way in scoring.

But Hardaway’s performance was totally unexpected given the way he struggled in his first season with the Hawks, when he was largely confined to the bench and even forced to spend time in the D-League.

He scored 21 points, matching his high in an Atlanta uniform, and broke open a close game with back-to-back 3-pointers in the fourth. The Hawks, who led only 81-80 heading to the final period, outscored the Wizards 33-19 over the final 12 minutes.

Markieff Morris led Washington with 22 points, but it was a tough night for the Wizards’ dynamic backcourt duo. John Wall finished with only 12 points on 3-of-15 shooting, while Bradley Beal was held to 13.

Hardaway, on the other hand, scored 12 points in the final period, breaking open a game that was close through the first three quarters.


Wizards: Marcin Gortat had 11 rebounds but didn’t have much help. Washington was outrebounded 52-40. … Otto Porter was the only other Washington player in double figures with 10 points. … The Wizards locked arms during the national anthem.

Hawks: Howard posted the most rebounds for anyone in their Atlanta debut, breaking the mark of 18 that Shareef Abdur-Rahim set at Houston on Oct. 30, 2001. … Dennis Schroder, taking over as the starting point guard after the trade of Jeff Teague, had 14 points but only two assists.

Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963 . His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/paul-newberry .

Report: Kevin Garnett joining TNT; in talks with Cavaliers, others about coaching consultant role

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If you’re wondering what Kevin Garnett is going to do now that he’s retired, turns out sitting on the couch with a bag of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos and watching Judge Judy is not the answer.

He is headed to the TNT studio show, something announced Thursday night during the broadcast.

Garnett also may be consulting with some teams — including the NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers. So reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

There are a lot of teams that could use KG as a consultant, I would expect the Timberwolves are part of that mix as well. He’s going to have the respect and ear of players for teams trying to get a message across to a young squad.

Garnett isn’t doing this for the money, he can pick-and-choose where he feels comfortable and needed.

Watch Dwyane Wade hit dagger three to lift Bulls past Celtics


What spacing problems?

Dwyane Wade, Jimmy Butler, and Rajon Rondo combined to shoot 9-of-14 from three in the Bulls season opener at home Thursday night. As a team, the Bulls shot 44 percent from three.

That included Dwyane Wade’s dagger three with a hand in his face to seal the 105-99 win.

The Bulls are not going to shoot like this every night, but they looked good on Thursday.