Abdul-Jabbar says Howard has “blind spots” in his game

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Dwight Howard is having a phenomenal season. The 25-year old center is scoring 3.3 more points per 40 minutes than he did a year ago, is the key player on one of the five best defenses in the NBA, is still a monster on the boards, and has a decent chance at winning his first MVP award.

However, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar still thinks that Howard has some room for improvement. In an interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution about his upcoming documentary, the NBA’s all-time leading scorer gave an opinion on Howard:

Q: Is there a young center you’d like an opportunity to show a few things to?

A: Dwight Howard. I think I could have shown him a few things that would have helped his game a lot. Such an incredible athlete. There are a few blind spots in his game just because he didn’t stay in school long enough to get all of that down, but just really an incredible athlete.

One of the biggest knocks on Howard throughout his career is that his post game is lacking, but he’s been very effective from the low block this season. Howard may not have a shot as graceful as Kareem’s skyhook or footwork as intricate as Kevin McHale’s, but his ability to use either hand around the basket, nifty running hooks, and improved patience as a passer and touch around the rim have made him one of the league’s most effective post players.

According to Synergy Sports, Howard scores .92 points per post-up possession, which is a great mark for someone who scores down low as much as Howard does — to provide a point of reference, Pau Gasol also scores .92 points per post-up possession.

When a player is a physical specimen like Howard, it’s easy to focus on how good he could be instead of how good he already is. No matter how effective Howard gets in the post, people will always think he could be doing better, because his athletic gifts make him capable of things no other center can do. It’s easy to look at Howard’s power-based post game and horrific free-throw stroke and lament how much more graceful he could be down low, but the truth is that Howard has made himself into one of the most, if not the most, effective post players in the league.

The league’s all-time leading scorer may well have a trick or two up his sleeve that Howard does not have access to, but Howard deserves credit for more than just his athletic prowess.

Pacers coach Nate McMillan slips and falls while arguing call (video)

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Nate McMillan slipped up in his handling of Victor Oladipo‘s early fouls during the Pacers’ Game 2 loss to the Cavaliers last night.

Then, the Indiana coach literally slipped while arguing that LeBron James should have been called for offensively fouling Lance Stephenson.

LeBron James: Reporter warned me about question on Gregg Popovich’s wife before live TV interview

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In her on-court interview with LeBron James following the Cavaliers’ Game 2 win over the Pacers last night, TNT sideline reporter Allie LaForce asked him about the death of Gregg Popovich’s wife.

LeBron appeared emotional as he gathered his thoughts.

That prompted some to criticize LaForce for ambushing LeBron on a sensitive subject on live TV. But that’s not what happened.

Uninterrupted:

LeBron:

I’m not on social media right now, but I was made aware through some friends through texts that a question was asked to me postgame, and a lot of people feel I was blindsided. That is absolutely false. Allie LaForce told me that she was going to ask the question and if it was OK.

And once I started talking about it, once we were on air, actually my emotions kind of took over. And that was just my emotions coming straight from my heart about the late Erin Popovich.

It’s unfortunate. It’s a tragic loss. My thoughts, my prayers, once again goes out to the Popovich family, to Gregg, to the Spurs family, to the whole Spurs fan base.

And also guys, please get off Allie LaForce’ back, because she followed the proper protocol and she warned me. So, get off her back, man. She’s very professional, and she does a great job at her work.

Like I said, thoughts and prayers to the heavens above. We all know the man above never makes mistakes, even when we question it. But it’s a sad, tragic time right now for the NBA family, and we’re all praying and hoping for the best.

It would have been surprising if LaForce hadn’t done that. Somewhere between nearly nobody and absolutely nobody in her position is trying to embarrass players.

PBT Extra: If Portland is going to turn series around it starts with Damian Lillard

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This was the year the Trail Blazers were going to break through. They were defending better as a team. There was some depth on offense. And Damian Lillard was playing at a level that will get him on many voters’ MVP ballots.

Instead, they are down 0-2 to Anthony Davis and New Orleans, having dropped both games at home to open the series. Portland is on the verge of being bounced in the first round for the third time in four years.

If Portland is going to turn this series around, it starts with Lillard, something I discuss in this latest PBT Extra. C.J. McCollum needs to get more buckets, Jusuf Nurkic needs to contribute more on both ends, but for Portland it all begins and ends with Lillard and it’s on him to start the turnaround.

Rockets easily overcome James Harden’s horrid shooting night, win Game 2 over Timberwolves

AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith
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James Harden shot 2-for-18 – the worst field-goal percentage (11%) on so many attempts in a playoff game in nearly a decade and the worst ever in a first-round game.

The Rockets still won by 20 because of their stout defense, a strong supporting star in Chris Paul and Harden’s foul-drawing ability.

Houston’s took a 2-0 series lead with a 102-82 win over the Timberwolves on Wednesday. Game 3 will be Saturday in Minnesota, but the top-seeded Rockets have seized firm control.

Every No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 seed to take a 2-0 lead in a best-of-seven first-round series have won it. There’s little reason to believe Houston will become the exception.

The Rockets are no longer as reliant on Harden, the likely MVP who seemed to wear down last postseason.

They buckled down defensively before letting up in a fourth quarter that was entirely garbage time. Houston forced more turnovers (16) than allowed assists (15) and contested shot after shot.

It’s becoming increasingly clear the Timberwolves have no quick solution to the Karl-Anthony Towns problem, and it’s not simply a matter of deciding to feed him more. Yes, he can get favorable post matchups against the Rockets’ switching scheme. But Minnesota lacks quality entry passers. The Timberwolves are also short on shooters and need him to spread the floor – even if that skill is less-helpful after a switch. Towns scored just five points in 24 minutes tonight.

His teammates were barely, if at all, better. The focus has turned to Towns, but this was a far-wider letdown.

On the other hand, Paul (27 points and eight assists) led Houston’s offense. Gerald Green (21 points and 12 rebounds) got hot. Even Harden (7-of-8 on free throws) chipped in thanks to his elite foul-drawing ability.

The Rockets aren’t always the most enjoyable team to watch, and that was the case tonight. Mostly, because they put this game out of reach long before it actually ended.