A lot of people think Dwight Howard and Stan Van Gundy hate each other, but that’s not the case. They got over their little spat in Orlando pretty quickly and now text each other regularly.
Van Gundy probably knows Howard’s game as well as anyone and told the Los Angeles Times the back surgery has robbed Howard of some of his athleticism right now.
“I don’t think he looks quite as explosive or as quick as he has in the past,” said Van Gundy, who coached Howard in Orlando for five seasons before being fired in May. “Now, he’s still above almost everyone in the league at that size athletically, but he has not totally looked like himself to me.”
Even the 80 percent of Howard is good — he is averaging 17.6 points and 11.8 rebounds a game. But he’s not the same physically and is searching mentally. Van Gundy also talked about the adjustment to playing with Kobe Bryant and what Howard has told him in their texts.
“It’s a big adjustment for him going from being the guy to not only being the No. 2 guy but really a No. 2 guy that really doesn’t get the ball very much at all,” Van Gundy said. “It’s a different deal and an adjustment he has to make. Those kind of things take time….”
“The only thing he’s really gotten into was,” Van Gundy said Friday in a phone interview, “he wants their defense to be better.”
I’m not sure we needed Van Gundy to tell us all this.
Watch Howard play and you can tell he’s not the same explosive player. Watch him on offense — especially since Mike D’Antoni took over and Steve Nash returned — and you can see him searching for his place and his touches in the offense. Watch him on defense and you can tell he’s frustrated.
A lot of that needs to be frustration with himself. He is not making the defensive plays (although to be fair, when he does help nobody helps the helper and picks up his guy). Howard isn’t running the floor or playing like the pick-and-roll beast that he can be. Maybe he needed to not rush back for the start of the season and let his back heal more. Maybe a lot of things.
But Howard finding his old self is a large part of the Lakers finding themselves.
Andre Drummond had a breakaway on Sunday against the Boston Celtics. Fans in Detroit should have been in for a treat from their franchise center — a former NBA Dunk Contest participant — but instead they got something worth of Shaqtin’ A Fool.
Unfortunately for Drummond, the result of the one man fastbreak was a blown dunk, a ball that went sky high, and a sheepish look from the Pistons center.
The Dallas Mavericks traded Andrew Bogut to the Philadelphia 76ers at the deadline for big man Nerlens Noel. Bogut, 32, was never expected to stay in Philly and he should be bought out soon.
There has been some speculation about what contender Bogut might be looking to join, or which might come calling. Due to CBA rules, Bogut could feasibly re-join the Golden State Warriors. Instead, it appears Bogut is expected to head the other direction and sign with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Bogut would be Cleveland’s second center on the roster alongside Tristan Thompson, who slid over to the 5 full-time this season. The Australian big man would also be the second former Maverick to join the Cavaliers, as PG Deron Williams reportedly intends to sign with Cleveland as well.
Bogut has been less effective in limited minutes this season than he has in years past. While Bogut is still a good passer and rebounder, he has not been as productive on offense than prior seasons. That could largely be due to Dallas’ poor start, or because of nagging injuries. He suffered calf, knee, and hamstring injuries this season with Dallas, and it will still be a gamble for Cleveland to rely upon Bogut for a playoff run.
However, the Cavaliers could simply rest Bogut extensively, integrate him into their system, and have him ready for a second championship push through the Eastern Conference.
We’re still waiting for the move to be made official, but it appears as though LeBron James & Co. are bolstering themselves for the postseason.
Portland Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic was whistled for a foul on Sunday night while trying to grab a rebound over PJ Tucker. That came as a surprise to Nurkic, who had actually lost two teeth on the play and went to point out that fact to officials.
The play came midway through the fourth quarter, with Tucker underneath the basket and Nurkic standing behind him in the paint. Toronto’s Patrick Patterson missed a long 3-pointer, leading to a battle for the ball down low.
Nurkic was called for a push in the back as the two went up, but Tucker threw his arm and hit Nurkic on the left side of his face. That knocked out two of Nurkic’s teeth:
The Blazers big man recovered his teeth — which were false and part of a dental implant called a bridge — and handed them to Portland head trainer Geoff Clark.
But have no fear: just a few hours after the Blazers lost to the Raptors, 112-106, Nurkic had his teeth put back in by a dentist.
Future NBA Hall of Famer Kevin Garnett was known during his playing days for his exceptional conditioning. The athletic power forward was in a full sweat by tip-off, and constantly talking on both offense and defense.
So how did he do it?
According to JJ Redick, Garnett used to sing while running as a method of normalizing talking during a game. The practice was apparently modeled after Beyonce’s ability to dance and sing at the same time.
“One time I saw her working out, and she was doing her dances and she was singing while she was doing her dancing,” Garnett said to Redick. “So then I’m thinking to myself, maybe I should run and sing at the same time. So in the offseason, I would go to Malibu and I would go down to the beach, and when I run on the beach I would be like ‘Lalala lalala lalala,’ while I’m running. So then, when I get on the court and I’m getting back on defense and I’m talking on defense, I don’t get tired.”
That’s ingenious, and the kind of clever tactics you’d expect to come from a HOFer like Garnett.