PBT Monday Morning One Liners

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No Kendrick Perkins and Shaq hasn’t played in a month. That is making some Celtics fans uncomfortable.

Dwight Howard on his suspension for getting a 16th technical (which he will serve Monday night): ‘I’ll try not to let the officiating affect the way I play. It’s very tough, but I’ve just got to do it. I think it’s like they want to make an example out of me, but I’ll just stay positive and continue to do all the things that I do to bring fun to the game. That’s all I can do. I’m not a bad guy. I’m not a hothead because I get techs, and I think that’s the message that people want to put across. I guess last year it was I smile too much. Now I don’t smile. And now I’m a hothead.”

Speaking of things that may concern fans of a title contender is this quote from a clearly frustrated Dwyane Wade after Sunday’s loss: ‘I’m used to, of course, coming down in the fourth quarter, having the ball, making mistakes, getting a chance to make up for them. So you’re just trying to get comfortable with whatever role you have to play at the moment, and you try to do your best at it. That’s all you can do. What is pouting going to do? What is not doing it going to do? That was one of the things that we knew we had to do when we all decided to come together. Sacrifices had to be made.’

If you hate the Heat, you’ll enjoy this fan video compilation of them getting beat at the end of games this season.

Great wrap up of links from the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference (where TrueHoop did an amazing job of coverage).

Steve Nash wants to get better at napping. (That is actually a fascinating article on NBA players and their sleep habits.)

Steve Nash moved past Isiah Thomas to sixth on the all-time assists list Sunday.

Martell Webster says he is back and ready to return to the Timberwolves rotation.

The Bucks expect to get Michael Redd back March 21. Not sure what is left in his tank, but at this point he can’t make the Bucks offense any worse.

Russell Westbrook on Rockets laughing at Andre Roberson missing free throws: ‘Probably the guys that don’t play’

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The Rockets bench made a big production when an intentionally fouled Andre Roberson kept missing free throws in the Thunder’s Game 4 loss to the Rockets yesterday.

Russell Westbrook stuck up for his teammate.

Royce Young of ESPN:

Westbrook:

I didn’t see it. I didn’t see it at all. Probably the guys that don’t play, probably over there the ones laughing, if I had to guess.

Good guess. It appears Montrezl Harrell and Bobby Brown – whose only playing time this series came late in Houston’s blowout Game 1 win – led the jeers.

But the most important thing for the Thunder is Roberson making his free throws. They need him on the court to defend James Harden, which exposes him to hacking. If Westbrook deflecting attention onto the Rockets’ benchwarmers helps Roberson at the line, great. But if not, the Rockets will keep having reasons to laugh.

Magic Johnson winks at bringing Paul George to Lakers

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Paul George-to-the-Lakers rumors have swirled for a while.

New Lakers president Magic Johnson will only fuel them.

Asked how he’d interact with the Pacers star to avoid tampering if they ran into each other, Johnson said on Jimmy Kimmel Live:

We’re going to say hi, because we know each other. You just can’t say, “Hey, I want you to come to the Lakers,” even though I’m going to be wink-winking like [blinks repeatedly]. You know what that means, right?

In explaining how he’d avoid tampering, Johnson probably tampered. Accidental tampering appears to be his specialty.

The Collective Bargaining Agreement says team employees can’t permissibly “induce, persuade, or attempt to entice, induce or persuade, any Player who is under contract to, or whose exclusive negotiating rights are held by, any other Member of the Association to enter into negotiations for or relating to his services or negotiate or contract for such services.” But the league arbitrarily enforces tampering, so who knows whether he’ll be punished?

Johnson almost certainly could have gotten away with the hypothetical conversation he laid out. But going on television and describing it — even as fantasy, even not directly to George — could constitute tampering in itself,

If Johnson helps attract George to Los Angeles, it’d well be worth it. At least he’s trying something.

Report: Austin Rivers returning for Clippers-Jazz Game 5

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There have been bigger injuries in the Clippers-Jazz first-round series: Blake Griffin‘s toe, Rudy Gobert‘s knee and Gordon Hayward‘s stomach.

But Clippers guard Austin Rivers has yet to play due to a strained hamstring.

It sounds as if that will change tomorrow.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

This is neither as big a deal as the Clippers will make it out to be nor as meaningless as Rivers’ many detractors will claim.

The 6-foot-4 Rivers will provide an important defensive upgrade on the perimeter. The Clippers haven’t successfully hidden Jamal Crawford and Raymond Felton, allowing Utah too many quality looks. Here how the Jazz have shot when defended by each, per NBA.com:

  • Crawford: 18-of-36 (50%), including 7-of-17 on 3-pointers (41%)
  • Felton: 13-of-24 (54%), including 5-of-8 on 3-pointers (63%)

Rivers needn’t be great to help behind Chris Paul and J.J. Redick.

Rockets bench hams it up over Andre Roberson missed free throw (video)

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Russell Westbrook might not want to talk about his supporting cast distinctively, but it’s a real issue for the Thunder, who trail the Rockets 3-1 in their first-round series.

Even Andre Roberson, who has impressively defended James Harden, brings a glaring weakness: free throws. Roberson is 2-for-17 from the line in the playoffs, including 2-for-12 in Game 4 yesterday. Houston even repeatedly intentionally fouled him late.

It was agonizing for all but the most partisan Rockets supporters – though even Houston’s bench, while at least implicitly mocking Roberson, appeared put off that he missed yet again.