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Jeff Van Gundy rips Dwight Howard during nationally televised game between Lakers and Thunder (VIDEO)


During Sunday’s nationally televised game between the Lakers and Thunder — one where Kobe Bryant racked up 14 assists in helping his team to a much-needed win — color commentator Jeff Van Gundy had some strong words for Dwight Howard.

Howard has been up and down this season, and is clearly not all the way recovered from the back surgery he underwent last summer. But he’s complained about his touches at times, while badly missing defensive rotations and blaming his teammates in the process.

These are the things Van Gundy took issue with in an extended rant during the second quarter on Sunday.

Here are some of the more pointed remarks, as transcribed by LakersNation.

He’s let everybody know ad nauseum that his back hurts OK, and that he is not 100%.

That’s not what people are upset about.

They’re upset about his waffling constantly on everything. This idea that he has to have less touches now? You’re the one that wanted out of the situation in Orlando where you were the featured guy. So this is what I‘ve ascertained that would make him happy:

Highest paid player, on a championship caliber team, first option offensive threat, in a big market, with no pressure, no responsibility and no one to prod him from a coaching standpoint.

Where do you find that in the NBA?

What he should do is say, ‘I wanted out. I wanted here. I’m going to make it work here.’

You should not have to beg a NBA player for energy, effort and unselfishness. Because you are not getting touches doesn’t give you the right to hold your team hostage by not giving your very very best.

Van Gundy was simply saying what the rest of us were thinking, but the passion with which he delivered those statements was interesting. I mean, it came across as a bit personal — almost as if Dwight had done something to a member of Van Gundy’s family at some point in the past.

[via BDL]

Somebody looks comfortable: Paul George drops 20 in first quarter

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Paul George‘s first experience starting as a power forward was going up against Anthony Davis — not just one of the best power forwards in the game, one of the handful of best players in the game period. That didn’t go well for George, and he wasn’t happy about it.

His second experience was in another preseason game Tuesday, going up against the Pistons and their four, Ersan İlyasova. He’s not quite as intimidating.

George scored 20 points on 7-of-8 shooting, 4-of-5 on threes — and that was just the first quarter (you can see it all in the video above).

As we have said before, George at the four is not a bad call by the Pacers, but some of that depends on the matchup. On the nights the Pacers face Davis or Blake Griffin or LaMarcus Aldridge or Zach Randolph (or a handful of others) the Pacers’ coaching staff is going to have to adjust. But there are a lot of nights where George at the four is going to force the other team to adjust, and that will play into the Pacers’ hands.

Is DeMarcus Cousins MVP worthy? “It’s mine to grab”

DeMarcus Cousins

Last season, DeMarcus Cousins received zero MVP votes (the same as every year of his career). Even though he averaged 24.1 points, and 12.7 rebounds a game, which was enough to get him his first All-Star berth, MVP is another thing entirely. Only players on winning teams tend to draw the attention of MVP voters.

This season, can Cousins — arguably the best center in the game — get in the conversation?

He thinks it’s more than just that, he told Kevin Ding at Bleacher Report.

The topic is the 2015-16 NBA MVP award and whether it could be reachable for DeMarcus Cousins.

“Reachable, man?” Cousins told Bleacher Report, his voice rising high. “It’s mine to grab.”

As noted above, the only way Cousins gets into the conversation — fair or not — is if the Kings are in the playoffs (at the very least). He understands that.

“It’s going to take a full team effort,” Cousins said. “I’ll try to play at a high level and bring my team along with me.”

Vlade Divac built a Kings’ team designed to start winning now — as you would expect from a team a year away from moving into a new arena they need to fill. Owner Vivek Ranadive is not about selling hope anymore, he wants to sell wins.

I think Cousins can help provide that.

I’m less sold on the cast around him being able to help.