Joe Johnson backtracks on his comments on fans. Sort of. Not like they are keeping him anyway.

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Joe Johnson and his teammates were booed after game three. Well deserved, by the way, they quit. After the game Johnson said of the fans the kind of thing that a free agent to be says on his way out of town:

“It’s about us in this locker room. We could care less if they showed up or not.”

Today, Johnson gave the politicians backtrack — sort of taking it back without actually apologizing. From the Atlanta Journal Constitution:

“It was tough. I don’t think we’ve heard the boos like that in the five years since I’ve been here. When I first got here, man, there were probably like 100 people out there in those seats. I won’t say everybody is a diehard, but they’ve shown us a lot of support over the years. In the heat of the battle you tend to say a lot of things. But it was tough, man. I was a little [ticked] off but I am over now.”

The Hawks (and Mike Woodson) supporters have been going to this card recently — “remember how bad it was five years ago?” It’s faulty logic. Yes, things are better for the Hawks than they were five years ago, but that is different than saying this team lived up to its potential. This team did not fully take advantage of its skills and players, especially in the playoffs.

And part of that falls on Johnson, brought in to lead this team, but really suited to be a number two on a top title team. He is Pau Gasol or Jameer Nelson, a really dangerous second guy, but not a night in, night out team leader. The Hawks have gone to Iso-Joe offense a lot these playoffs, and it has let them down.

The Hawks need to make a change. These comments just make it easier.

Carmelo Anthony leaves without speaking to media, will probably get fined

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Lately, Carmelo Anthony has parsed whether the Thunder are frustrated or angry and said he’s going through the roughest stretch of his career.

It didn’t get any better last night.

Anthony scored 11 points on 12 shots with three turnovers, and Oklahoma City got outscored by 21 points with him on the floor in a home loss to the Hornets. The Thunder have now lost two of three, falling to the lowly Nets and Hornets and needing overtime to beat the freefalling Grizzlies.

Royce Young of ESPN:

Anthony today:

I’m sorry. My bad. I had a FaceTime session with my son, so I skipped out on you guys yesterday. I apologize. It’s true, though. That’s true. It’s true. He had a school night.

The NBA’s media-access rules state: “All players must be available to the media for a minimum of five to 10 minutes during the postgame media access period.” It’s been a while since someone got punished for violating the policy, but Kevin Garnett was fined $25,000 for not speaking to the media after Game 7 of the 2012 Eastern Conference finals.

I’m sympathetic to Anthony wanting to speak to his son, who’s still in New York. But the league tends not to take these personal concerns into consideration, which is probably for the best. There’s a rule. Anthony violated it. Assessing which personal calls should supersede the rule is a can of worms not worth opening. Besides, Anthony probably could have returned to the locker room for an interview after concluding the call.

Anthony earns a lot of money. If he wanted to risk a $25,000 fine to speak with his son, I have absolutely no problem with that. But that’s probably the choice he made.

In my experience, Anthony has been forthright with the media. He spent years as the face of the Knicks, dutifully answering for problems created by James Dolan and Phil Jackson. Because he was available nearly daily while his superiors avoided interviews, Anthony was the grilled by the New York media.

I bet he expected a reprieve in Oklahoma City. Instead, the spotlight has shined on him as a problem with the underwhelming Thunder.

It’s understandable he’d rather talk to his son than reporters. But it’s also understandable the NBA wants to promote its business through the media, and the league has power to enforce its rules.

Grizzlies fan absolutely owns kids halftime scrimmage (video)

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The Grizzlies lost for the 15th time in their last 16 games, a 25-point drubbing at home against the Heat, last night.

But it wasn’t all doom and gloom in Memphis.

This young fan – while playing in the halftime scrimmage – stopped his dribble, stepped on the ball, whipped off his youth jersey to reveal a Marc Gasol jersey, flexed, re-started his dribbled then drove for a basket.

Matt Ellentuck of SB Nation:

The Grizzlies don’t deserve this hero.

DeMarcus Cousins pushes Trevor Ariza after whistle, gets technical foul (video)

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For better or worse, DeMarcus Cousins is moody.

Just after getting dunked on by Clint Capela, Cousins showed his frustration by pushing Trevor Ariza after a whistle. The Pelicans center got his NBA-leading ninth technical foul – automatic suspension triggered at No. 16 – but I’m surprised this didn’t escalate beyond just that.

Paul George floors Jeremy Lamb with crossover, hits step-back 3-pointer over him (video)

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The Thunder suffered a rough home loss to the Hornets, but at least Oklahoma City produced a couple fun highlights.

Not only did Russell Westbrook have this powerful dunk, Paul George put the moves on Jeremy Lamb.