Orlando Magic v Indiana Pacers - Game Two

J.J. Redick opens up about “weird” season, Dwight Howard

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I’m not sure any word but “weird” does justice to the Orlando Magic season.

It started with then Magic CEO Bob Vander Weide essentially drunk-dialing Dwight Howard and asking him to stay in Orlando. It didn’t seem like things could get more odd, but that was just the start, something that culminated in the day coach Stan Van Gundy told the media Howard wanted him fired just as Howard unknowingly walked into the press conference. The season ended with Howard injured and the Magic easily ousted by the Pacers.

Orlando guard J.J. Redick was on NBC’s SportsTalk and opened up about the year to host Russ Thaler. Great interview. Below are transcripts of the highlights.

About Howard:

“Within the team I think our perception has changed a little bit. I don’t see any way it couldn’t. But I am a Dwight supporter, I played with him for six years, I’ve been through some battles with him, won a lot of games tagging along side of him. He has been great for our organization.”

“I think as anyone can attest, sometimes we get confused in life. Sometimes we get bad advice. I think Dwight at his core, at his heart is a great kid, a great person. Maybe he just got a little confused, a little sidetracked about what was important and then at the end of the year he gets hurt and can’t play. It wasn’t a great year for him. I’m sure he’ll bounce back, get healthy and have a great year next year.”

On Howard’s relationship with Stan Van Gundy:

“To be honest with you, it didn’t seem worse or better than any other year. Those two have built a relationship based on winning and before things really started to turn for us we were 32-18 and had the fifth best record in the league. So for 50 of the 66 games this year that relationship was pretty solid.

“I’m not sure what happened and what transpired with management, with Dwight’s alleged request for Stan to get fired, I’m not privy to all the inside information. Certainly at some point that relationship started to change a little bit in March, and from that point on things got weird.”

About the press conference where Van Gundy said Howard wanted him fired, then Howard unknowingly walked in on it.

“We were all a little shocked. I cold plunge right after shootaround (take an ice bath). I had got my shots up after shootaround and had sort of seen Stan talking to the media and everything seemed normal from afar. Well I went back, grabbed my phone and jumped in the cold plunge and I have like 15 text messages and my twitter account is blowing up with “What did Stan just do?” So I pulled up the video and saw it. By the time I got out of the cold plunge and back in the locker room all the guys on the team knew what was going on.

“It was a little shocking in that it’s not something you see every day, obviously. I think Stan, for whatever reason, just decided to put it all out there. He said in the interview he is not a fan of BS and I can attest to that having played with him for five years. He doesn’t like BS and decided not to BS with the media, I guess.”

On Dwight’s plans:

“I don’t know. I think there are going to be some decisions made about the future and direction of our organization. I don’t know what’s going to happen with Otis Smith, our GM, I don’t know what is going to happen with Stan. “

Good news: Anthony Davis listed as probably vs. Utah Saturday

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Watching Anthony Davis fall to the court clutching his knee, not being able to put any pressure on his leg as he was helped to the locker room, it was frightening Friday night in Los Angeles.

It turns out it’s not that bad. After the game the injury was described as a “knee contusion” and not the serious damage that was feared. Saturday the Pelicans said Davis was good to go.

Whew. Nobody wants to see Davis miss time.

The Pelicans had won three in a row until they ran into the Clippers Friday night. Davis has played better of late — the New Orleans defense is 7.2 points per 100 better when he is on the court — and New Orleans has gotten better point guard play out of Ish Smith.

Stephen Curry abuses Sun’s Price with behind-the-back, pull-up three (VIDEO)

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That is just cruel.

An on-fire Warriors team dropped 44 on the Suns in the first quarter Saturday, and Curry had 19 of those points going 5-of-6 from three. The Suns’ had no defender who could begin to hang with him. Certainly not Ronnie Price, who came in off the bench and got abused for his efforts.

Curry finished with 41 points, never had to set foot on the court in the fourth quarter, and the Warriors improved to 17-0 on the season. Just another day at the office for them.

Philadelphia has dropped record 27 in a row dating back to last season

Brett Brown

We tend to think of record streaks having to be in one season, not broken up across two.

But if you can suspend that, the Philadelphia 76ers are now the owners of the longest losing streak in NBA — and major professional sports — history.

With their tough two-points loss to Houston Friday night, the Sixers have lost 27 in a row. The Sixers dropped their final 10 last season and with the loss to the Rockets are 0-17 to start this one.

That bests the 26-game losing streaks of the 2010-11 Cleveland Cavaliers and these same Sixers from 2013-14. Looking across sports, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers of 1976-1977 also lost 26 in a row, which when you consider the length of the NFL season is pretty embarrassing.

The Sixers struggles are born from a plan by GM Sam Hinkie (and approved by ownership) to get better long-term by being bad now and hoarding draft picks. It’s a strategy that can work if Hinkie nails the draft picks (the book is out on how Hinkie is doing on that front). And they are committed to it through at least this draft.

But don’t think for a second the players and coach are trying to lose.

If you have watched the Sixers play their last few games you know the players are trying hard to get that victory (and almost have a couple of times). The effort is there, they are just outmatched and lack the kind of presence at the end of games to execute under pressure (something a couple of quality, regularly-playing veterans might help, but that’s another discussion). They have the point differential of a team that should have a couple wins; they just haven’t been fortunate. It happens. Go ahead and blame management if you think this plan is an abomination. Just don’t question the desire or effort of the players or coaches, that is not in doubt.

The Sixers play at the Grizzlies Sunday, then have maybe their best shot at a win for a while when they host the Lakers on Tuesday.



Byron Scott, is it time to bench Kobe Bryant? “That’s not an option.”

Kobe Bryant, D'Angelo Russell, Byron Scott

Kobe Bryant‘s shooting woes this season have been well documented. Let me explain… no, there is too much. Let me sum up. Kobe is shooting 31.1 percent overall and 19.5 percent from three, all while jacking up more threes than ever before. He was 1-of-14 shooting against Cleveland, and that’s as many shots as rookies D'Angelo Russell and Julius Randle got combined.

If Kobe keeps shooting like this while dominating the ball, is it time to bench Kobe? Coach Byron Scott laughed at the idea, as reported by Baxter Holmes at ESPN.

“I would never, never, never do that,” Scott said after practice at the Lakers’ facility. “That’s not an option whatsoever. No, that’s not an option.”

It’s not an option because this is the guy the fans have paid to see, at home and on the road (the Lakers have still sold out every road game this season, the only team to have done so). Kobe is the draw, he’s going to play.

That doesn’t mean Scott is handling all this well, Kobe has no repercussions for his actions.

Byron Scott is an enabler with Kobe. In his mind Kobe has earned the right to play poorly because of his career, which is just hard to watch.

The real issue I have with Scott enabling Kobe is the double standard — minutes for Russell and the other young players get jerked around when they make mistakes. Scott sounds and acts like a guy with a couple rookies on a veteran team where the objective is to win as many games as possible.

This can’t be emphasized enough: the primary goal for the Lakers this season is to develop Russell, Randle, and Jordan Clarkson (and Larry Nance Jr., who has impressed). But Russell has sat a lot of fourth quarters, and when Scott is asked if playing in those blowout minutes might help develop the young point guard faster, he says, “Nah.” Scott has benched Clarkson at points and called him out in the media.

Reduction of minutes can be a valuable teaching tool with young players — if the conditions of them getting those minutes are precisely laid out. Clear rules with rewards and consequences. That is not the case in Los Angeles, where Russell has said Scott has not spoken to him much about what he’s doing wrong and why he’s spending the ends of games benched. That’s not coaching a guy up; that’s not player development. There need to be clear guidelines and structures for young players to follow.

The only guideline in LA seems to be “Kobe has carte blanche.”