Howard wanted Nets, calls Lakers “blessing in disguise”

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We’ve been down this road before — it’s not really new news that Dwight Howard wanted to go to the Nets, the Magic didn’t really want to send him where he wanted to go, he ended up with the Lakers and now thinks that is what the universe intended all along.

But, he said it on the radio in New York, so it’s news again. Somehow.

Howard was on ESPN Radio in New York with Stephen A. Smith and here are the money quotes, via ESPNNewYork.com.

“I did want to go to Brooklyn. That’s a place where I told the Magic that I really wanted to go,” Howard, who was ultimately dealt to the Los Angeles Lakers, told Stephen A. Smith and Ryan Ruocco on ESPN New York 98.7 FM. “[But] I was traded to the Lakers, and I think it was a blessing in disguise.

“… I think there’s a reason why everything happened the way it happened. So far it’s been an unbelievable experience for me. … It’s like a dream come true.”

So, there’s a reason he had a back injury that required surgery?

Howard also talked about how he felt blamed as back-and-forth news dribbled out about the his potential trade to Brooklyn, and how that led to misperceptions of him and what he wanted.

“I think a lot of it was people just felt like I was going back and forth with the whole thing,” Howard said. “But the business side, people don’t understand, when you’re doing business you have to be a shark. You have to demand things. If you don’t, people will run over you, and that was a lesson that I learned.”

The thing is, that’s on you. Your agent admitted to being one of the big leaks in the talks, as he tried to pressure the Nets into making a better offer and the Magic into taking it. Howard’s camp was very noisy. And while that may not have been him directly it was the people around him that hurt his image.

Now, he just needs to keep his head down a little, have fun, play hoops and win. Do that and the public will come back around. They always do for winners.

John Wall scores 37 as Wizards down LeBron James, Cavs 127-115

Associated Press
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CLEVELAND (AP) John Wall scored 37 points, Bradley Beal added 27 and the Washington Wizards began a challenging road trip by beating LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers 127-115 on Saturday night.

Wall scored 18 in the first quarter, when the Wizards shot 82 percent, and Washington held on down the stretch to avenge an overtime loss to the NBA champions last month.

James, who briefly wore goggles to protect an eye injury sustained Friday night, scored 24 and added 11 rebounds and eight assists. Kyrie Irving added 23 points and Kevin Love 17 for Cleveland, playing at home for the only time in a seven-game stretch.

Washington’s victory cut Cleveland’s lead in the Eastern Conference to a half-game over idle Boston.

Rudy Gobert calls out Jazz teammates after loss: “We’ve just got to compete. We’re too nice.”

Associated Press
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Utah and the L.A. Clippers are almost locked into a first round, four vs. five battle in the Western Conference. The only question is which team will have home court, and the Clippers took a big step towards that beating the Jazz at home Saturday. While the Jazz still has a half-game lead, the Clippers have a much softer schedule the rest of the way.

After that loss, Jazz center Rudy Gobert was ticked off and called out his teammates. Via Tim MacMahon of ESPN.

“We’ve got guys that compete, but some of us don’t compete. Some of us just think about scoring. That’s what it is. … Coach keeps repeating it: We’ve just got to compete. We’re too nice. Those guys, we know they’re going to get calls. We’ve just got to come out aggressive and ready to fight.”

Interesting comments for a team that is third in the NBA in defensive rating and 13th in offense.

Gobert is frustrated as Utah has dropped four of its last five, and the slump has been on both ends of the court. The defense has struggled, but if guys are looking to score too much they aren’t doing it efficiently because the offense has been worse.

This slide likely costs Utah home court in the first round, which could matter in what will be a tight matchup with Los Angeles. Utah needs to find its grinding rhythm again heading into the playoffs, at their best they can knock off the Clippers in the first round. Just not like they are playing now.

One thing to watch, Utah’s Gordon Hayward asked out of the game in the fourth quarter due to what is being called a bruised muscle in his leg. If he misses any time or if this lingers, it could be trouble for the Jazz in the postseason.

 

LeBron James starts game with protective goggles. That lasts about a minute.

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LeBron James suffered a scratched cornea Friday night when he went up for a layup late in the third quarter and Jeremy Lamb tried to contest and caught him clean across the face. LeBron got the and-1, but had trouble keeping his eye open in postgame interviews Friday.

Saturday he did play — wearing protective goggles. As you can see above.

That lasted about a minute.

LeBron was likely frustrated as the Cavaliers defensive woes had the Wizards up double digits much of the first half.

Kobe Bryant says he’s “only a phone call away” if organization needs his advice

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For the first time since he walked off the court in his final game, Kobe Bryant was back at Staples Center Friday night.

The reason was Shaquille O’Neal was getting a statue out in front of Staples Center (a building that may not have gotten built without the two of them). The two famed feuders sat next to each other and joked around through the ceremony. Time heals all wounds.

With the new management of the Lakers — specifically Kobe’s former agent Rob Pelinka as GM — there has been speculation Kobe could take on a role. He’s not looking for something formal, according to reports, but he didn’t say no, either, when asked.

I picture Kobe as a guy who someday buys a team, not a guy who wants to haggle with agents over the details of a contract. He’s not going to take on a day-to-day role, he likes the retired life and what he is building with the Kobe brand.

That said, the Lakers front office can use all the smart voices it can get as they try speed up a rebuild. They should give him a call every once in a while.