What would it mean for teams to win NBA Draft Lottery

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Fates will be decided by some bouncing balls and random numbers Wednesday.

Not just the fate of lock No. 1 overall pick Anthony Davis (and guys like Andre Drummond, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Thomas Robinson and many more). It’s the fate of franchises (and general managers) that will be decided.

What would it mean to the 14 teams in the lottery to win? Here’s a run down (with their odds of pulling the top spot).

1. Charlotte Bobcats – 25.0%: It means a shot at redemption in the marketplace. Former owner George Shinn came in and ruined the Charlotte market, the new franchise has never fully won back the local fans. Not even with Michael Jordan as owner. Only three things can win the market back — a genuine superstar, winning and committed ownership. The Bobcats have had none of this and basically tanked this season with a weak roster to start. Anthony Davis would start to change that. There’d be a long way to go, but it would be a big start if they win this.

2. Washington Wizards -19.9%: You put Anthony Davis with John Wall and you have the cornerstones of a future contender in Washington. They need to change the locker room culture, they need veteran role players, they need a lot of things but Davis and Wall could be contender cornerstones.

3. Cleveland Cavaliers – 13.8%: They’ve started a turnaround with Kyrie Irving there, shaking off the memories of he who shall not be named. Any of the top three (or four) spots lets them bring in another quality player, likely a big, to pair with Irving as the rebuild goes forward. Davis accelerates that fast and you have the building blocks of contention.

4. New Orleans Hornets – 13.7%: They’ve got a new owner in Tom Benson who is committed to New Orleans, let’s just hope he can build a winner with the Hornets faster than he could with the Saints. Winning the lottery certainly speeds that along and gives the franchise a player to build around (with Eric Gordon).

5. Sacramento Kings – 7.6%: Winning the top pick would give the Maloof Brothers someone special they could help sell in the community to get a new arena built in Sacramento. Instead they’ll just try to take him to Anaheim.

6. Portland Trail Blazers (or Nets) 7.5%: The Nets have a slim shot at the top spot but a 25 percent chance of jumping into the top three — which means a 25 percent chance of keeping their pick. The Nets traded this pick to Portland in the Gerald Wallace deal and it is only top three protected. Basically, the Nets get lucky and draw the top pick and they can convince Deron Williams to stay and play with Davis, or they get the 2/3 pick and try to package that in a Dwight Howard trade. Otherwise Portland’s rebuild gets a nice player to fit in. Most likely the Blazers get it. If the Nets get a top pick right before they move to Brooklyn let the conspiracy rumors fly.

7. Golden State Warriors – 3.6%: For new owners trying to breath life into a long-quiet franchise, a marquee name to go with Stephen Curry and Andrew Bogut would be a big boost and get them to the playoffs. And might help them sell that new arena they want in the city.

8. Toronto Raptors – 3.5%: They have a long, long way to go to recover from the Chris Bosh trade and they lack a star or team identity. Dwane Casey did a good job under the radar there last year, he deserves the chance to coach real talent.

9. Detroit Pistons – 1.7%: They have some nice young pieces — Brandon Knight, Greg Monroe — and a move up to the top spot suddenly makes them the young team on the rise in the east. Any of the top three spots really helps.

10. New Orleans Hornets (via Minnesota) – 1.1%: Remember last year the Cavaliers got the top pick not on their own high odds but on the low chances from a mid-season trade with the Clippers. That could happen to the Hornets, here.

11. Portland Trail Blazers – 0.8%: Do we really want to see the Trail Blazers draft a big man No. 1 overall again? They already have a good core with LaMarcus Aldridge, Nicolas Batum and guys like Luke Babbitt on the roster, add any of the top three picks and they look like a team on the rise.

12. Milwaukee Bucks – 0.7% They have a back court of Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings, they win the lottery (or land in the top three) and get a good young big to put with them and you have something to really build on.

13. Phoenix Suns – 0.6%: Win the lottery and they definitely get Steve Nash to stay. Davis’ offense is supposed to be the part of his game that needs to develop. Things develop a lot faster when Nash is feeding you the rock.

14. Houston Rockets – 0.5%: This is a team that has had a lot of good role players — Kevin Martin, Luis Scola, Kyle Lowry — but no star. They win this and suddenly they are a team on the rise with serious potential.

MVP James Harden, dominant Rockets show up in second half, crush Timberwolves

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We had to wait three-and-a-half games for it.

We had seen James Harden play like an MVP all season. We had seen the Rockets bury threes at a record rate all season. We had seen Houston’s switching defense impress all season (sixth best in the NBA). We had seen Houston rack up 65 wins and make it look easy.

Then we got to the playoffs and the Rockets couldn’t put it all together at once. Harden struggled after Game 1, including going 0-of-7 in the first quarter Monday night. The defense was inconsistent and the threes were not falling. All of it let the Timberwolves hang around in the series — down 2-1 — and the same in Game 4, down just a point at halftime.

Then the Harden and Rockets we all expected showed up.

Houston put up 50 points in the third quarter alone, shooting 61 percent overall and 9-of-13 from three, plus they got to the line 13 times and made every shot. The Rockets opened the second half on an 11-0 run that extended all the way to 25-4, with almost all of the damage from Harden, who had 22 in the quarter.

The Rockets pulled away and cruised from there to an easy 119-100 win.

“We hit the switch, the switch we’ve been trying to hit since the beginning of the playoffs on both ends of the floor,” Harden said postgame. “It’s pretty scary what we’re capable of when defensively we’re locked in like that, and offensively we got rolling.”

Houston now leads the series 3-1 and can close it out at home in Game 5 Wednesday night.

In the first half this looked nothing like something that would end with a comfortable Rockets win. Houston struggled at the start of Game 4, opening 0-of-5 in the paint, including Harden missing an open layup. As a team, the Rockets started the game 4-of-16 from three, and a lot of those were uncontested looks. The Rockets play a lot of isolation, but even for them the ball seemed to stick in the first half. If not for Trevor Ariza knocking down three from beyond the arc, the Timberwolves might have been able to pull away.

The fact they didn’t was a blown opportunity for the Timberwolves, something they just can’t do in this series. It was a one-point Rockets lead, 50-49, at the half.

Minnesota had some moments on offense in the game, usually when attacking quickly off the Rockets switch. Derrick Rose had some moments and finished the game with 17 points. Karl-Anthony Towns had 22 points and 15 rebounds, Jimmy Butler had 19 points on 17 shots.

But that was no match for the Rockets when they flipped the switch.

It was a barrage of threes that we have waited for all season, and it all started with Harden and Chris Paul, they had all of the first 15 points of the second half for Houston. Harden finished with 36 points and hit 5-of-11 from three. CP3 had 25 points and six assists, Eric Gordon finally woke up in this series with 18, and Ariza finished with 15.

Minnesota is a talented team, but they are learning fast what a contender can do — even not at their peak the Rockets had taken two of the first three in the series, and when they did flip the switch it was another level. A level the Timberwolves want to get to, there are just some rough lessons along the road to getting there.

James Harden puts on show to start second half vs. Timberwolves

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James Harden started Game 4 0-of-7 from the floor, including missing a lay-up. It was an extension of Game 3, and it let the Timberwolves hang around for a half despite their own offensive woes.

Then in the second half the MVP Harden showed up.

Houston started the second half on an 11-0 run that extended all the way to 25-4, and a lot of it was Harden (with a little help from Chris Paul). Harden had 22 points in the third (with 4:30 left in the quarter). After a couple rough games the Timberwolves were going under the pick when Harden had the ball, and suddenly he made them pay.

Or, he was just stepping back.

With all the buckets the Rockets turned a close game into a 25 point lead.

Tyronn Lue doesn’t hold back with retort to heckling Pacers’ fan

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It’s a part of the NBA experience that most fans don’t get to hear — some fans courtside heckling opposing players and coaches, and those guys occasionally firing back. We only tend to hear about it when things cross a line.

Sometimes the interactions are just funny, such as this one passed along by J. Michael of the Indy Star.

Well played, Lue.

Although is Cleveland really a city at the forefront of fashion? Well, I suppose if you went to college in Nebraska…

Report: Pelicans picked up Alvin Gentry’s option for next season before sweep

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Last summer the buzz was all over the league: Pelicans GM Dell Demps and coach Alvin Gentry were given a “playoffs or bust” mandate by management. If the Pelicans were not in the postseason — and just barely getting in and then blown out in the first round might be good enough — there was going to be a housecleaning.

The Pelicans made the playoffs as the six seed with 48 wins despite losing DeMarcus Cousins to a torn Achilles midway through the season.

That alone was good enough to get Gentry another season in New Orleans, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

As noted, this happened before the Pelicans swept the Trail Blazers out of the first round and into a summer of re-evaluation. This option season is the last of Gentry’s original deal with the Pelicans.

Gentry has the Pelicans playing fast, using the elite defense of Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday to get stops, and right now Davis is leading an offense that is just getting it done, with guys such as Nikola Mirotic stepping up. Gentry has earned another year, and a shot to integrate Cousins into this style and level of play, to see where that could take New Orleans next season.

It will be interesting to see if Demps can add more shooting and versatility with a capped out roster.