Eric Gordon once again says he wants to be in Phoenix, Hornets fans just want to be loved

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Eric Gordon really doesn’t like not having a choice where he plays next season. He clearly wants to be wanted and we should all admit the Hornets didn’t really handle that well (Gordon says neither GM Dell Demps nor coach Monty Williams have reached out to him since free agency started).

But Eric — stop pissing off the fans of where you will play next year.

Phoenix has offered Gordon a max deal (four years, $58 million, with the final year a players’ option) and that’s where he wants to be. But the Hornets have said since Day 1 that they would match any offer for Gordon. Including a max. They see Gordon at the two and Anthony Davis at the five as cornerstones of a future contender (and they may well be right). Gordon will be a Hornet, but keeps singing the praises of the Suns.

Gordon is in Las Vegas for USA Basketball’s Olympic tryout camp and spoke to the media. Here are some highlight quotes (with my comments after), all via Joe Gerrity of Hornets247.com.

• On if the Hornets match and he’s forced to remain in New Orleans– “I gotta play basketball”

• On what impact his statements will have on the fans if Hornets match– “Fans will be fans. They gotta understand what’s really going on. As of right now it’s all.. I’m just concentrating on USA basketball.”

Don’t disrespect the intelligence of the fans. They get this is a business for you, but like you they also want to be respected. They are powerless on who comes and goes from their teams. What they want from you is effort and a sense of loyalty, of commitment to them on some level like you are asking from them and the organization. You can leave in a few years, they have to root for the jersey. They relate to management because it is not as transient as the players who come and go. You don’t have to stay to get them to love you, but you have to get them to believe you would stay for them. In the past week you have done none of that.

• On if he felt slighted when Austin Rivers was drafted– “if you look at it, we have no center, we have hardly no bigs, you never know. I’m at a point where I went to Phoenix, I talked to their organization and next think you know they signed the players”

Gordon can’t be so insecure as to think Rivers is threatening his job. And he must have noticed the first draft pick made was a franchise-anchor center, a shot blocking big, right? He’d be happier if they drafted Meyers Leonard? Really? And if you think they should get the free agent bigs on the market, go look at that market again.

• On what made Phoenix a better fit than New Orleans– “the interest. I feel like I’m getting taken advantage of over there just because I’m restricted… if they wanted to…. you know how this CBA, this deal is, it’s built for you to stay with your remaining team, but everything has been taken advantage of”.

I will just say this: The fans of New Orleans will welcome Gordon with open arms next season. They want to embrace him. All he has to do is open his arms up and embrace them back. It’s that simple. Put the business behind you and move on.

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.