Report: Magic end all trade talks for Dwight Howard

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Do not think for a second this is permanent. But when Christmas Day comes comes Dwight Howard will suit up for the Orlando Magic against the Oklahoma city Thunder.

The Orlando Magic have cut off all trade talks for Howard, according to a tweet from Adrian Wojnarowski.

Magic decided to take Dwight Howard off market, ending talks with Nets and the rest of his NBA suitors for now, league sources tell Y!

This echoes the idea that the Magic were in no hurry to make a deal, something Ken Berger at CBSSports.com reported earlier Wednesday. That has always been the Magic’s process here, to be more like the Nuggets with Carmelo Anthony and try to take their time to get him to stay or find the best deal they can.

Consider this the Magic throwing cold water on the process they thought was getting overheated. It happens as the New Jersey Nets were working hard to put together the framework of a three-team deal that also included the Portland Trail Blazers and would have sent Gerald Wallace, Brook Lopez and more (including picks) to the Magic. Portland was to get a number of first-round picks back and the Nets would have gotten the star they needed to pair with Deron Williams.

The Lakers also are supposed to be in the mix for Howard, but would not surrender both Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum. (The Lakers are reportedly using Gasol as part of a package as they try to obtain Chris Paul.)

The other two teams on the list where Howard had said he would sign an extension are Dallas — which does not have the assets to make a trade and would need to sign him as a free agent next summer when they have cap space — and the Magic themselves.

The Magic are trying to slow everything down. The process they can do that with, the rumor mill is another matter. In the end, if they can’t re-sign Howard to an extension (and that is not looking likely) they have to trade him or watch him walk for nothing, just like happened with Shaquille O’Neal. But the Magic have wanted to take their time with this from the start, this move fits in with that.

Tyronn Lue says he has secret plan to fix Cavaliers’ defense for playoffs

AP Photo/Phil Long
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Only one team that ranked outside the top 12 in points allowed per possession during the regular season won an NBA title. The 2000-01 Lakers, who were 21st in defensive rating, are the lone outlier.

The Cavaliers rank 22nd in defensive rating this season and have been even worse lately.

But Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue says he has a plan. He just won’t reveal it yet.

Lue, via Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:

“We’ve got to hold back. We can’t show our hand early because … these are some good teams and we don’t want them to be able to come into a series and be able to adjust to what we do. We just have to be able to play our normal defense until we get there and then we will see what happens.”

Also:

“I think the rebounding hurt us. Rebounding. But it will be different once some other things happen. … Their two-guards, their threes, they still crashed the boards. But we have something to fix that. Just not right now.”

What precisely those plans are, Lue wouldn’t tell us. And here’s the other part — he’s not exactly sure they’ll work.

“I’m not confident, but we’ve got to” get the defense fixed, Lue said. “We have to.”

The Cavs ranked just 10th in defensive rating last season, among the worst marks for an eventual champion. But they cranked up their defense in the playoffs, especially late. Cleveland held the Raptors 4.8 points per 100 possessions below their regular-season scoring rate and the Warriors 7.8 below theirs.

Lue also unleashed a 3-point-heavy attack in the playoffs last year after sitting on the strategy through the regular season.

So, I have some faith Lue will implement a better defensive gameplan when it counts. It also helps to have LeBron James, who can still play elite defense when not in the slog of a long regular season.

But the Cavaliers’ defensive deficiencies right now are glaring. This roster appears to lack defensive potential, and their many miscues keep them well below whatever that potential is.

The challenge in elevating this defense to championship-caliber will be immense, maybe even unprecedented.

Mavericks’ Salah Mejri dunks while getting shoved in the gut (video)

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The Mavericks built a 13-point lead over the Thunder with 3:30left thanks to plays like this Salah Mejri dunk on Nick Collison.

Unfortunately for Dallas, Russell Westbrook happened.

Willy Hernangomez dunks on Andre Drummond, Pistons’ playoff chances (video)

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Andre Drummond and the Pistons couldn’t slow down anything.

Not Willy Hernangomez. Not the Knicks. Not Detroit’s plummeting playoff hopes.

After a 109-95 loss to the Knicks last night, the Pistons — who’ve lost four straight and seven of eight — are 1.5 games and two teams out of playoff position.

Terrence Ross 360 dunks his way back into Raptors fans’ hearts (video)

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In his first appearance in Toronto since the Raptors traded him to the Magic, Terrence Ross did what he has done best throughout his career: Delight Toronto fans with a dunk.

And of course the fans appreciated it, because their Raptors cruised to a 131-112 win.