Rockets 90, Hornets 88 (OT): The most entertaining game of the night was the one almost nobody watched. Houston led from the opening tip in large part due to Kevin Martin, who had 27 first half points.
Houston was in control the entire way until they came apart in the fourth quarter — the Rockets shot 3-21 overall (14 percent) and 0-8 from beyond the arc, which allowed the comeback. Houston’s defense was good, New Orleans only had 19 fourth-quarter points, but it was enough to erase a 12-point lead as Houston only scored 7 points in the quarter. At the final buzzer, New Orleans’ Jason Smith got a good look at the game winner in regulation, a 16-foot jumper, but it rattled out.
The overtime saw New Orleans jumped out to the lead because Jarrett Jack was carving people up. But then he started doing his Kobe in isolation imitation and soon it was tied again.
With the Hornets looking to get their final shot off in OT, Courtney Lee made a steal, Martin picked it up and pushes the pace back the other way but misses transition layup — only to have Samuel Dalembert follow for the game-winning dunk.
Mavericks 94, Jazz 91: Dallas seemed in control of this one until a 17-4 third quarter Utah run sparked by Maverick turnovers and Al Jefferson made this a close one that stayed that way pretty much the rest of the way. Down the stretch it was Shawn Marion doing the work for Dallas (22 points on the night) as the Mavs went after the mismatch and C.J. Miles couldn’t stop him. Rodrigue Beaubois had 17 points and looked like that guy we expect to see.
Craig Sager to get third bone marrow transplant thanks to anonymous donor
McGary has battled injuries his two seasons in the league and got on the court for only 72 minutes total last season for the Thunder (he played in more games and put up solid numbers in the D-LEague). He was not part of the future there regardless. He’s an undersized five trying to play the four and what he brought as a rookie — energy — was not enough as a sophomore.
McGary will make $1.5 million this season. He may be tough to move because he’s suspended for the first five games he’s eligible to play next season for failing the league’s drug policy (five games is the standard suspension for testing positive for marijuana three times). Maybe a team looking to develop players will give him a shot, but there is little trade value for him.
Dwight Howard is shooting 19-footers to improve his free throw stroke
The challenge is form and reps are not the problems for Howard — or DeAndre Jordan or Andre Drummond or others — when it comes to hitting free throws. Anyone who says “why don’t they just practice the shot” doesn’t pay attention, these guys put in a lot of work on the shot. Pregame and in practice (I’m Los Angeles based), Jordan probably hits 65 percent from the line. At least.
The problem is mental. That can be a tougher hurdle to clear. Maybe taking 19 footers and knocking them down will have Howard feeling more confident at the stripe this season.
But we’re going to need to see it to believe it. Just like we’re going to have to see a rejuvenated Howard in Atlanta before we believe this season will be different from the last few.
Report: Veteran big man Jason Thompson agrees to deal in China
Until this season, Jason Thompson had never been to the playoffs. He spent seven seasons in Sacramento before getting traded to the Warriors last offseason, and then signing with the Raptors midseason when Golden State waived him to make room on the roster for Anderson Varejao. His NBA days appear over, at least for now. International basketball reporter David Pick reports that Thompson has agreed to a deal to play in China.
Source: NBA veteran Jason Thompson, split last season with Warriors and Raptors, finalized a deal in China with Shandong.