Oklahoma City Thunder v Dallas Mavericks - Game Five

Westbrook not fazed by criticism

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Russel Westbrook was an impure point guard — shoot first, pass second. Which doesn’t fly when the you have two-time league scoring champion Kevin Durant on your team. You want to get him the rock.

That was the conventional wisdom after the Thunder were eliminated from the playoffs. Conventional wisdom is there for a reason.

Westbrook isn’t accepting your blame. Not at all. Yahoo! Sports’ Marc Spears has the story:

“I refuse to let myself do that,” Westbrook told Yahoo! Sports. “I’ve been working too hard to get to the position we were in last season to worry about anything somebody else was saying…

My job is not to prove myself to whomever it is that is talking about this team,” Westbrook said. “It’s to help my team and organization get better. Everyone has their own opinion, and once someone says something they just roll with it. And that’s how it went.”

Westbrook probably should have looked to pass a little bit more than he did in last year’s playoffs, but his teammates weren’t exactly putting themselves in the best position (we may love Durant, but he needs to work on how to come off a screen properly and get open). Sometimes you just have to trust your superstars to make decisions and put up a lot of shots, for better or for worse.

Last season, Westbrook established that he is a superstar in today’s NBA. It’s easy to criticize his shooting and decision-making in last year’s playoffs, but Westbrook will more than likely make up for his play in the 2011 playoffs in many future postseasons to come if he continues to work on his game and work with his teammates.

Dwight Howard pushes Al Horford, gets technical, later ejected for hanging on rim

Atlanta Hawks center Dwight Howard (8) drives past Boston Celtics center Al Horford (42) during the second quarter of an NBA basketball game in Boston, Monday, Feb. 27, 2017. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
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It ended up working out for Atlanta — the Hawks went on a 22-11 run after Dwight Howard was ejected, then hung on for a comfortable win 114-98.

Still, Howard found a way to get tossed. He did it two separate technical fouls in the third quarter. The first came when he shoved Al Horford after the Celtic big fouled Howard under the basket (always a smart move rather than give up a dunk).

The next came a few minutes later when Howard slammed then pulled himself up like a pull-up on the rim, an automatic tech every time.

That’s technicals 10 and 11 on the season for Howard. He’s got some work to do to catch up with DeMarcus Cousins, but still he’s racked up a few.

It just didn’t matter on Monday, with Dennis Schroder leading the way with 21 points for the Hawks.

 

DeMar DeRozan drains game winner to cap 37-point night, Raptors beat Knicks 92-91

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With Kyle Lowry out until around the start of the playoffs, a lot is going to be asked of DeMar DeRozan. Monday night at Madison Square Garden, he delivered.

The Raptors needed a bucket as time ran down, not only got the ball to DeRozan but got the switch so Derrick Rose was guarding him, and that allowed the Raptors star to get to his spot, rise up and bury the midrange jumper for the win.

It capped off an impressive 37-point night for DeRozan — he’s going to need to do more of this in the coming weeks.

Kevin Hart rings bell before start of Sixers game vs. Warriors

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Golden State is in Philadelphia, and so are the celebrities.

Kevin Heart — a Philly native — was on hand and he got to ring the bell pregame (a Sixers tradition).

Having him on hand seems to help as the Sixers were hanging around through the middle of the third quarter with a team looking for its 50th win.

Bucks’ Michael Beasley has to be helped to locker room after apparently hyperextending knee

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 04:  Michael Beasley #9 of the Milwaukee Bucks in action against Mindaugas Kuzminskas #91 of the New York Knicks during their game at Madison Square Garden on January 4, 2017 in New York City.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
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Let’s just hope this is nothing too serious.

Michael Beasley was getting back up court to try and defend a LeBron James drive to the basket early in the clock Monday night when he took an awkward step and appears to hyperextend his knee. You can see the video above. He tried to leave the floor under his own power but had to be helped back to the locker room by teammates.

The team is calling it a sprain for now.

Beasley has been solid off the bench for the Bucks this season, averaging 9.7 points a game with a and with a PER of 17.6 (above the league average). They would miss him in the rotation as they try to make a playoff push if he has to miss any time.