Orlando Magic v Boston Celtics, Game 6

Olajuwon says Dwight Howard puts lessons to good use (sorry Stan)

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There has been a real growth in the variety of Dwight Howard’s post game the past two years. Nobody is going to confuse him with Pau Gasol — for a few reasons — but Howard is not all power moves and dunks now. He has a little running hook down the lane and has a respectable face up jumper from 10-12 feet (often using the Tim Duncan bank method).

Howard worked out with Hakeem Olajuwon for three days last summer, learning moves and counters from the master. Saturday the teacher came to see his pupil play in Houston, and told the Orlando Sentinel he liked what he saw.

“He can do so much more,” Olajuwon said before he spoke with Howard in the Magic’s locker room. “It’s so easy. You can see the potential that he can do so much more. Unbelievable…

“You see all the moves that we worked on, the steps and the recognition of what they’re giving him. He had 22 points, but he could easily get 30 or 35 easily. I saw opportunities that were just missed. With time, it’ll just get better.”

Stan Van Gundy would like a little credit for the improvement
, too. And Howard should get credit for getting in the gym and doing the hard work of repetition to make the moves smooth.

But sometimes hearing a lesson — even a lesson you’ve heard before — from a new and respected voice can make it really register. Howard has said those sessions gave him a confidence to use those moves more.

Frankly there is plenty of credit to go around, especially if this newfound offensive game translates into more playoff wins. And Olajuwon is right, it all could get better, too.

PBT Extra: How did Thunder, Pacers move up in PBT Power Rankings?

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As they do every Monday during the season, the PBT Power Rankings came out and while the top three remained the same there were some climbers.

Specifically, the Thunder at No. 4 and the Pacers at No. 5.

Why they are there is the latest PBT Extra topic with Jenna Corrado. The simple answer is they are both excellent teams. Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, and Paul George are all playing like Top 10 players.

PBT Podcast: We’re back talking Kobe, 76ers, Warriors, Pistons, more

Kobe Bryant
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The ProBasketballTalk NBA podcast is back.

Sure we’re a month into the season, but we’re going to get this podcast rolling again and you can expect us on each Monday and Thursday, with a variety of guests talking everything around the NBA.

Today NBC’s own Dan Feldman joins Kurt Helin to talk Kobe Bryant‘s retirement announcement, and what that means both for the Lakers going forward this season and beyond, but also what that could mean for Byron Scott’s future as the Lakers’ coach.

We also delve into the “showdown” between the Lakers and Sixers on Thursday, talk about the job Brett Brown is doing there as coach (a good one), we talk some Warriors, some Draymond Green, Pistons, Spurs and Pacers to round it all out.

Listen to the podcast below or you can listen and subscribe via iTunes.


Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins probable to play against Dallas Monday

DeMarcus Cousins
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It’s this simple: The Sacramento Kings are 5-5 when DeMarcus Cousins plays this season, 1-7 when he sits. (And that win number is a big misleading, they looked like they would have beaten Charlotte with him, but when he left with back pain they lost, they could easily be 6-4 with him.)

So it’s good news that Cousins is expected to return to the Sacramento lineup Monday night. Well not good for Rick Carlisle and the Mavericks, but good for the Kings, as reported by James Ham at CSNBayArea,com.

This season Cousins is averaging 27.9 points and 11.2 rebounds a game, he has a true shooting percentage above the league average (56.3 percent for Cousins) and he has a PER of 27.1 which is sixth best in the league.

Combine him with the numbers Rajon Rondo has put up lately the Kings become much more dangerous. They’d be even scarier if everyone stayed healthy and George Karl would settle on a lineup.

PBT Extra: Kobe Bryant understands now is time to walk away

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It was expected Kobe Bryant would retire at the end of this season.

It was not expected Kobe would make that official on Nov. 29 — it’s caught the media at Staples Center Sunday (of which I was one) and the fans by surprise.

In this PBT Extra, I talk with Jenna Corrado about the mood inside Staples Center Sunday.

More importantly, I discuss the sense I got that Kobe understands it’s time to walk away, and he is at peace with that.