One man puts together the entire NBA schedule. And you thought a Rubik's Cube was hard.

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puzzle-piece-and-amounts-uid.jpgThis makes a 1,000 piece puzzle of a polar bear on a snowy landscape look like child’s play.

Matt Winick makes the NBA schedule. Him and a computer. No team of guys slaving over diagrams and flipping through reems of information. Well, there are reems of information, but just one guy.

Kevin Arnovitz did a fascinating intervew with Winick over at TrueHoop. What follws are a few of the best answers. But if you think Will Shortz is cool, you should follow the link and read the entire interview.

You start by getting dates from the various arenas. There’s a certain number of dates that each arena must provide. That’s your starting point.

What’s your next building block from that?

The games against the other conference, because they normally involve long road trips. You look for gaps in the home schedule when the building is not available and you try to schedule the longer road trips during that time when the team can’t play at home. So if a team from the east is going to be out of their building for 8-10 days, you look to send them west….

Nothing is easy. The computer program is great. It puts everything together in an orderly way and makes it as easy as possible, but there are no easy schedules….

You send a team to Golden State on a trip, yet they can’t go to Sacramento. You have to send them on another trip when they go to Sacramento and people say, “Why?” Well, the two times they were going west, Golden State wasn’t available one time and Sacramento wasn’t available the other. You’d like to schedule orderly trips as much as you can, but if the buildings aren’t available, they aren’t available. In Los Angeles, this coming season, the Lakers have four games at home in February and the Clippers have two. Well, the Grammies are in Staples Center for 10 days followed by a week when the building is unavailable because of the NBA All-Star Game. If teams can’t play at home, they have to play on the road.

Dwight Howard pushes Al Horford, gets technical, later ejected for hanging on rim

Atlanta Hawks center Dwight Howard (8) drives past Boston Celtics center Al Horford (42) during the second quarter of an NBA basketball game in Boston, Monday, Feb. 27, 2017. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
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It ended up working out for Atlanta — the Hawks went on a 22-11 run after Dwight Howard was ejected, then hung on for a comfortable win 114-98.

Still, Howard found a way to get tossed. He did it two separate technical fouls in the third quarter. The first came when he shoved Al Horford after the Celtic big fouled Howard under the basket (always a smart move rather than give up a dunk).

The next came a few minutes later when Howard slammed then pulled himself up like a pull-up on the rim, an automatic tech every time.

That’s technicals 10 and 11 on the season for Howard. He’s got some work to do to catch up with DeMarcus Cousins, but still he’s racked up a few.

It just didn’t matter on Monday, with Dennis Schroder leading the way with 21 points for the Hawks.

 

DeMar DeRozan drains game winner to cap 37-point night, Raptors beat Knicks 92-91

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With Kyle Lowry out until around the start of the playoffs, a lot is going to be asked of DeMar DeRozan. Monday night at Madison Square Garden, he delivered.

The Raptors needed a bucket as time ran down, not only got the ball to DeRozan but got the switch so Derrick Rose was guarding him, and that allowed the Raptors star to get to his spot, rise up and bury the midrange jumper for the win.

It capped off an impressive 37-point night for DeRozan — he’s going to need to do more of this in the coming weeks.

Kevin Hart rings bell before start of Sixers game vs. Warriors

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Golden State is in Philadelphia, and so are the celebrities.

Kevin Heart — a Philly native — was on hand and he got to ring the bell pregame (a Sixers tradition).

Having him on hand seems to help as the Sixers were hanging around through the middle of the third quarter with a team looking for its 50th win.

Bucks’ Michael Beasley has to be helped to locker room after apparently hyperextending knee

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 04:  Michael Beasley #9 of the Milwaukee Bucks in action against Mindaugas Kuzminskas #91 of the New York Knicks during their game at Madison Square Garden on January 4, 2017 in New York City.  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 Al Bello/Getty Images)
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Let’s just hope this is nothing too serious.

Michael Beasley was getting back up court to try and defend a LeBron James drive to the basket early in the clock Monday night when he took an awkward step and appears to hyperextend his knee. You can see the video above. He tried to leave the floor under his own power but had to be helped back to the locker room by teammates.

The team is calling it a sprain for now.

Beasley has been solid off the bench for the Bucks this season, averaging 9.7 points a game with a and with a PER of 17.6 (above the league average). They would miss him in the rotation as they try to make a playoff push if he has to miss any time.