Houston Rockets v New Orleans Hornets

Chris Paul loves David West, wants it to work in Big Easy

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And the Chris Paul happiness train rolls on….

CP3 expounded to Ian Thompson of Sports Illustrated on a few issues, all ones that are good reasons to stay in New Orleans long term. That starts with David West.

“I trust him more than anybody in this league,” Paul told me last week in New Orleans. “Out of everybody in the whole NBA, that’s my guy. We’ve been together for six years — six years! — and I trust him with anything. My fiancée and his wife are like best friends. Basketball-wise and off the court, I trust him.”

“When decisions are made [on the team], everyone always says, ‘It’s [up to] Chris,'” said Paul. “But it’s really up to me and D-West. I mean, D-West was here before I got here. You ask these guys on the team they’ll be, like, ‘C, what time do you want me to practice tomorrow?’ I’ll be like, ‘D-West, what time do you want to practice tomorrow?’ Because D-West is like my big brother, has always been.”

Just for the record, I like it when the coaching staff decides when practice is. Just write it on the white board in the locker room after the game, assume that your players are smart enough to read and show up on time. Like professionals. That’s just me.

In the end for Paul, it’s about a chance to win.

“Tony Parker is a really good friend of mine,” said Paul. “When they beat us [in the second round of the 2008 playoffs], after Game 7 we didn’t talk for about a week because I was kind of upset — and he let me know about that, too, when I did get a chance to talk to him. But he was like, ‘CP, man, you’re about one guy away.’ At the time, we could count on me and D-West to give us 25 and 25, but you’ve got to have that third scorer consistently. He was breaking it down to me with [the Spurs],where some nights him and Timmy [Duncan] would have it on, and if he didn’t have it on, Manu [Ginobili] would pick it up.”

Getting that third player — winning, in truth — will come down to the sale of the team and the pocketbook of incoming owner Gary Chouest. For that reason, the sale of the team from the tight-fisted George Shinn is the other key to keeping CP3 in New Orleans. That is supposed to be happening. Soon. Just like it was in April, but they mean it now.

Again, we’re in the wait and see camp with CP3. This summer Paul’s people did push for a direction — either get serious about winning or move him. Paul is happy and the Hornets are winning in November. We’ll see what tune he’s playing after the playoffs and next summer. Maybe it will still be some sweet New Orleans jazz. Maybe. But we want to wait and see.

Jimmy Butler wants Mason Plumlee to pay fine after scuffle (video)


Jimmy Butler and Mason Plumlee got into an altercation in the Bulls’ win over the Trail Blazers last night.

Plumlee lowered his head and tried to barrel through Butler’s chest on a Butler screen. Butler fell and retaliated by putting Plumlee in a leg lock, causing Plumlee to fall.

You might remember a leg lock as what Cavaliers guard Matthew Dellavedova did to Bulls forward Taj Gibson during last year’s playoffs. For all the talk then of Dellavedova being a dirty player, Butler seems particularly aggrieved after getting a technical foul, which comes with a $2,500 fine – the same penalty Dellavedova eventually received. (Plumlee got a flagrant foul.)

Butler, via Vincent Goodwill of CSN Chicago:

“He thought he was playing football for a second there,” Butler said. “Almost had to let the Fort Greene Projects out of me, Brooklyn, you know what I’m saying?”

It was said tongue in cheek considering Gibson was a few feet over and Butler wanted to draw some laughs. Gibson is a Brooklyn native and grew up in the Fort Greene Projects while Butler grew up in Tomball, Texas.

It was no laughing matter when he said he would find a way to approach Plumlee about the fine money, jokingly suggesting he would have his agent email him at “Mr. Dukie@yahoo.com or something” and made a joke about Mike Dunleavy applauding Plumlee’s act.

Plumlee and Dunleavy are products of Duke University.

“Yeah, he cost me 2,500,” Butler said. “I’m not happy about that. Gonna ask him to pay me back and I’m not playing.”

Is that MisterDukie@yahoo.com, MrDukie@yahoo.com or Mr.Dukie@yahoo.com. Or is it Dookie?

These are important questions – at least if you’re trying to turn the conversation away from your dirty play and toward your colorful quotes.

Breaking news: Leandro Barbosa dunked


The Warriors became the first team in NBA history to start 16-0.

In the process of getting that record-breaking win over the Lakers, something nearly as historic happened.

Leandro Barbosa dunked.

The 32-year-old Golden State guard last jammed in January 2011.

For a little more perspective, look how Barbosa handled a breakaway layup earlier in the fourth quarter:

You think that man can still slam?

Yes. Yes, he can.

Magic benching Victor Oladipo, starting Channing Frye

Stephen Curry, Victor Oladipo, Channing Frye
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Elfrid Payton, Victor Oladipo, Evan Fournier, Tobias Harris and Nikola Vucevic have started eight of the Magic’s 14 games, including the last three.

But after Orlando dropped two straight, Scott Skiles hinted at lineup changes.

The Magic coach will deliver against the Knicks tonight, swapping Channing Frye for Oladipo.

Skiles, via Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel:

“It’s nothing punitive,” Skiles said after the Magic’s shootaround.

“It’s just we feel like we’ve got to try to find a little bit better balance. I’d like Victor to have some more opportunities like he’s had a little bit in the past where he can be on top of the floor and attack and get a little bit more vertical and not only get to the rim but just be a little bit more on the attack but not necessarily start the game that way.”

Here are the offensive/defensive/net ratings for the

  • Former starting lineup: 94.7/111.2/-16.5
  • New starting lineup: 117.2/90.3/+26.8

The new unit has played just 33 minutes in two games, so major sample-size caveats apply. But I like idea of seeing more of what has worked.

I suspect Skiles also wants to keep his players from becoming content. At 6-8 and coming off three straight seasons outside the playoffs, they should have no reason to feel satisfied, but the hard-driving Skiles will be proactive.

If Oladipo – whose defense Skiles values – can get sent to the bench, anyone can.

At some point, the Magic must determine whether Oladipo and Payton – both below-average 3-point shooters – can share a backcourt. But it’s also worth knowing whether Oladipo can excel as a super sub leading bench players.

This switch might help the Magic win now, but at worse, it’ll give them more information for evaluating their young roster. Seems smart all around.

Dwight Howard says he’s cleared to play back-to-backs

Dwight Howard
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The 5-9 Houston Rockets need some wins.

The Houston Rockets have a back-to-back coming up, Sunday against the Knicks then Monday against the Pistons (both on the road). Two teams with quality big men.

Combine those things and you end up with Dwight Howard being re-evaluated by team doctors and getting the training wheels taken off, via Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle.

This, plus a mini training camp the past few days, is part of new coach J.B. Bickerstaff’s effort to turn Houston’s season around.

Houston’s defense is 1.9 points per 100 possessions better this season when Howard is on the court and the Rockets are stronger on the glass. The problem is the offense is 7.8 points per 100 worse with Howard on the court. How much of that can be changed with some roster tweaks — like limiting the time James Harden and Ty Lawson share the court — and how much is due to Howard demanding touches and not doing enough with them we will find out quickly.