Jrue Holiday likely out, what Sixers really need is free throws

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After taking some shots at shootaround Tuesday morning, Jrue Holiday told Dei Lynam of CSNPhilly.com that his injured foot hurt more than it did on Monday morning. That was the morning after he worked out before the Sixers lost to the Lakers.

Nothing is official, but draw your own conclusions on him playing Tuesday night in Dallas after this quote from shootaround:

“It hurts when I plant, when I try to make cuts. And I didn’t really try defense,” Holiday said. “It hurts when I plant to go up for a layup or trying to go different directions on the court.”

When Holiday does come back, the Sixers need him to get to the free throw line more. And convince Evan Turner to do the same. The Sixers are a jumpshooting team right now and it is killing them.

Only one team in the Association (Orlando) has a lower free throw attempts per shot attempt ratio than the Sixers. Lynam broke that down and asked coach Doug Collins about it, too.

There are just 10 players in the NBA that have played at least 840 minutes, made 65 or fewer free throws and attempted 80 shots or less at the line. Three of them are on the Sixers’ roster: Thaddeus Young, Evan Turner and Jrue Holiday.

Making matters worse, the team was shooting 77 percent at the line through the first 16 games of the season but are hitting just 65 percent over the last eight contests.

“I went through all our guys and saw how many minutes they played per free throw over the last eight games,” Doug Collins said. “Our second guy per minute shooting free throws is Damien Wilkins. Thad is No. 1 at 3.5. Damien is five and something. … Jrue is 1 in 11, Evan is 1 in 17, Swaggy [Nick Young] is 1 in 25. I know numbers can lie, but there are certain numbers that tell the truth. We have to get in the paint and we have to get to the foul line,” Collins stressed. “We can’t keep getting beat 15-16 points at the foul line, we just can’t make that up.”

Andrew Bynum will change that. Someday. He gets to the line and will be more than happy to tell you that unlike guys like Shaq and Dwight he knocks down his free throws. It’s just the whole “when he gets on the court because of his knees” thing standing in the way.

A lot of young players have to learn how to draw fouls in the NBA — remember Derrick Rose the first half of his rookie season? It takes some time for some guys. But these Sixers players do need o get it.

Hopefully Holiday will see that as he sits out another day.

Dwight Howard on Hornets’ coach Clifford: “It’s a great feeling when somebody believes in you”

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Dwight Howard‘s game is much better than his reputation among fans.

He’s not the Defensive Player of the Year/All-NBA/MVP candidate level player he was back in Orlando, but Howard is still one of the best rebounders in the game, he’s strong defensively, and he’s an efficient scorer inside. He’s a quality center, if he plays within himself and is used well. His perception as a guy who does not take the game seriously and held back Houston and Atlanta in recent years has validity (he plays better in pick-and-roll than on the move, but wants the ball in the post), but the idea he is trash is flat-out wrong. He’s still good.

Howard wants to change his reputation, rewrite the final chapters of his career, and told Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN that Steve Clifford’s Charlotte Hornets are the place that is going to happen.

“The other places I was, the coaches didn’t really know who I am,” Howard told ESPN. “I think that they had perception of me and ran with it. Cliff knows my game. He knows all the things that I can do. I’m very determined to get back to the top. It’s a great feeling when somebody believes in you. They aren’t just saying it; they believe it. It really just pushed me to the limit in workouts: running, training, everything. I want to do more.

“In Orlando, I was getting 13-15 shots a game. Last season, in Atlanta, it was six shot attempts. It looks like I’m not involved in the game. And if I miss a shot, it sticks out because I am not getting very many of them. But I think it’s all opportunity, the system. I haven’t had a system where I can be who I am since I was in Orlando.”

Howard averaged 8.3 field goal attempts per game in Atlanta, which is about five a game below his peak. Last season 75 percent of Howard’s shots came within three feet of the rim — is is not there to space the floor, however, he can still move fairly well off the roll and is a good passer for a big.

Last season, 28 percent of Howard’s possessions came on post ups, and he averaged a pedestrian 0.84 points per possession on those. On the 21 percent of shots he got on a cut, he averaged a very good 1.36 PPP. When he got the ball back as a roll man (again on the move), it was 1.18 PPP. The challenge long has been Howard is better on the move but doesn’t feel involved unless he gets post touches, and if he doesn’t feel involved and engaged he’s not the same player.

Maybe Clifford can make this all work with some older plays where Howard feels comfortable.

Charlotte, with Howard in the paint and on the boards, should get back to being a top 10 NBA defensive team, not the middle of the pack as they were last season. Clifford is better than that as a coach, and Howard is an upgrade in the paint (on both ends). Charlotte should be a playoff team again in the East.

But it all will come back to Howard. Fair or not. And Wojnarowski is right, this is Howard’s last best chance to write the ending he wants to his career.

Friday afternoon fun: Watch James Harden’s 10 best plays from last season

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James Harden had a historic season in Houston.

Since it’s Friday afternoon and your sports viewing options consist of watching guys about to be cut from NFL rosters try to impress, why not check out Harden’s best plays from last season. It’s worth a couple minutes of your time.

Mavericks sign Jeff Withey to one-year contract

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Jeff Withey‘s ex-fiancée accused him of domestic violence, but he was not charged.

That frees him to continue his basketball career, which he’ll do in Dallas.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

The Mavericks could use another center, even if they re-sign Nerlens Noel. Salah Mejri is the only other true center, though Dirk Nowitzki will now play the position.

Withey is a good rim protector. Just don’t ask him to do anything away from the basket.

Dallas annually brings excess players to training camp and has them compete for regular-season roster spots. Whether or not his salary is guaranteed, Withey will likely fall into that competition.

Marc Gasol: If Grizzlies don’t share my goal of continued growth, we might have to revisit things

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The Grizzlies’ Grit & Grind era has ended.

Zach Randolph signed with the Kings, and Tony Allen appears likely to leave Memphis, too. The Grizzlies are prioritizing younger/cheaper players like Ben McLemore and Tyreke Evans.

Marc Gasol via Ala Carta, as translated by HoopsHype:

I’m very ambitious and I’ve wanted Memphis to be a great franchise. We’ve grown a lot the last 6-7 years, but we have to keep growing. If this is not lined up, maybe we may have to revisit things.

Gasol has been loyal to Memphis, and his first wish is probably winning there. But Giannis Antetokounmpo put it well: Teams must also do right by their players. Gasol is 32 and doesn’t have much time in his prime left. I see why rebuilding wouldn’t interest him.

But what will he do about it if the Grizzlies don’t prioritize the present? They made their push last summer with a max contract for Chandler Parsons, but because Parsons can’t stay healthy, that deal only inhibits team growth.

Gasol is locked up for two more years before a player option. He doesn’t have much leverage. This is part of the reason LeBron James keeps signing short-term contracts. Gasol doesn’t have the same ability to steer his team in his desired direction

On the potentially bright side, rebuilding teams often don’t have much use for 32-year-olds guaranteed more than $72 million over the following three years. If the fit devolves, Memphis becomes more likely to trade him.