Boston Celtics v Orlando Magic, Game 2

Players, David Stern find common ground: Stan Van Gundy annoys them

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We’re looking for anything, any little sliver of hope we can find to help us believe that a lockout in the NBA is not inevitable. That somehow the owners and players can find some common ground. That David Stern and the players can sit down in a room and agree about something.

Like they find Stan Van Gundy annoying.

In a Sports Illustrated players poll, Stan Van Gundy was the runaway winner of the “most annoying coach” award with 65 percent of the vote (via Ball Don’t Lie and Orlando Pinstriped Post). Phil Jackson and Scott Skiles finished second with 7 percent each.

Van Gundy is outspoken, and does it in kind of a grating voice. That style clearly is wearing on players. We know it wears on David Stern, who went over the coach’s head to shut up Van Gundy’s efforts to get referees to blow the whistle when Dwight Howard is hacked.

Personally, I like Van Gundy. He is one of the coaches who passes my “beer test” — would this guy be fun to just sit around with, have a beer and talk. Do Phil Jackson and Scott Skiles pass that test?

But if I need to sacrifice Van Gundy on the alter of getting a collective bargaining agreement in place, then so be it. I’m not going to defend him. In fact, he’s starting to annoy me a little bit.

Al Horford shows he still has hops dunking on Solomon Hill (VIDEO)

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That’s just nasty.

Atlanta’s Al Horford gets the ball out high, but within his range, so when he pump fakes Indiana’s Lavoy Allen goes flying by. That opens up the lane and Horford attacks it, Solomon Hill tries to cut him off, but Horford just finishes threw him.

Pacers and Hawks played an entertaining, close game Friday night.

Dwyane Wade shows he still has hops with dunk on Hornets (VIDEO)

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Dwyane Wade still has some springs.

In what may be his best dunk in recent memory, he shoulders Michael Kidd-Gilchrist to create space in transition, then gets up and throws it down before Nicolas Batum can get there for the block.

Not sure even Wade saw that one coming.

Reigning dunk champ LaVine: ‘I’ve got tricks up my sleeve’

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota Timberwolves guard Zach LaVine is heading back to All-Star weekend to defend his slam dunk title. And he says he has “a few tricks up my sleeve” after dominating the event last year.

LaVine will compete against Detroit center Andre Drummond, Denver swingman Will Barton and Orlando forward Aaron Gordon in Toronto next weekend.

LaVine was one of the breakout stars of All-Star weekend last year with his electric performance in the dunk contest. He says he debated about coming back and made his decision after strong encouragement from his fans.

If LaVine wins, he will become the fourth player in the 31-year history of the event to repeat as champion. Michael Jordan, Jason Richardson and Nate Robinson are the others.

Report: Blake Griffin has second procedure on hand, timeline remains unchanged

Blake Griffin
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Blake Griffin will still return to the Clippers some time in March (barring any setbacks).

That said, he had a second procedure this week to repair the boxer’s fracture in his right hand, reports Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.

Clippers forward Blake Griffin underwent a second procedure this week on his broke right hand, sources told ESPN. The procedure was a part of the original surgery last week, so sources said the 4-6 week timeframe for his return remains unchanged.

This might help explain why Griffin’s hand looked so swollen and scarred this week. But to be clear, this was a planned second procedure, not a setback.

Griffin suffered the fracture punching a Clippers’ equipment manager while everyone was out to dinner in Toronto recently, while Griffin was still sidelined with a quadricep injury. The Clippers have moved on, but it is likely the league will tack on a couple of game suspension for Griffin upon his return to health.

And no, the Clippers are not looking to trade Griffin in spite of this. So stop asking.