This shouldn’t come as a surprise. If you read ProBasketballTalk’s story on the injury from Brett Pollakoff, who was in the Lakers’ locker room after the loss to the Suns, you’d know Dwight Howard was in a lot of pain.
Howard will sit out Friday night when the Lakers take on the Minnesota Timberwolves, something first tweeted Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports. The Lakers have since confirmed this.
Howard has been playing through the pain of a torn labrum in his left shoulder. He’s been hoping that treatment and rest would keep the pain manageable and he could play through it and not need surgery. However, he missed three games earlier with the injury, had to leave one game early after his shoulder ran into Rudy Gay on a pick, and now he will miss at least one game this time. The injury was aggravated in Phoenix when he tried to bring his arms up for a shot and was fouled across the arms — the strain on his shoulder caused him instant pain.
“It’s real sore,” Howard said after the game. “Everything on this (right) side is hurting pretty bad right now….
“Numbness just went all down my arm and my neck,” he said of what he felt at the moment it was aggravated. “It was pretty bad when it happened.”
This could be more than just one game he misses.
Friday night is the second game of the Lakers Grammy road trip, when the music award show kicks them (and the Clippers) out of Staples Center for two weeks. The Lakers had won three games in a row before the trip started but suffered an ugly come-from-ahead loss to Phoenix, with the Suns comeback coinciding with when Howard went out.
Pau Gasol will get the start at center. That shouldn’t hurt the Lakers offense much but Howard has been much better on the defensive end in terms of protecting the paint. The break for the Lakers is that Minnesota is banged up, too, and will be without Kevin Love.
Apparently, all it takes is a little public discussion of LeBron James‘ “broken” jump shot to get him back on balance and knocking down the three ball — he was 4-of-6 from deep Wednesday.
Then again J.R. Smith was 7-of-13, Kyrie Irving 4-of-5, and as a team the Cavaliers knocked down a record 25 threes — while shooting 55.6 percent — as they wiped the floor with the Hawks in Game 2.
In case you’re curious where the Cavs were hitting from, here’s the team’s shot chart.
The Houston Rockets aren’t in any rush to hire a new head coach, preferring to interview a wide range of candidates to find the right one. Jeff Van Gundy has been widely believed to be at the top of their list, now that Tom Thibodeau and Scott Brooks are off the market, but ESPN.com’s Marc Stein is reporting another name that has entered the mix: Mike D’Antoni, who last held a head coaching job from 2012 to 2014 with the Lakers and currently serves as the Sixers’ lead assistant.
The Pacers, meanwhile, haven’t made a final decision on Frank Vogel’s future with the team, but all signs seem to point to him getting let go in the next few days. And if that happens, Stein reports that Vogel will also be on Houston’s list of candidates.
Given the Rockets’ massive drop-off on the defensive end this season, Vogel would seem to be a better fit than D’Antoni. But it sounds like the Rockets aren’t close to finding a replacement for J.B. Bickerstaff, although it would make sense to have a new coach in place by next month’s draft.
On Monday, the Hawks played the Cavaliers close and even led in the fourth quarter, leading plenty of optimism that Game 2 would be equally competitive, that the Hawks had something to build on.
The Cavs dominated from the start on Wednesday, with a 123-98 final score that was far closer than the game actually was — the Cavs led 74-36 at the half and led by as much as 38 at one point in the second half.
The Cavs also hit 25 three-pointers, which is the all-time record for a single game — regular season or playoffs. J.R. Smith hit seven of them, along with four each from LeBron James and Kyrie Irving and three for Kevin Love.
18 of Cleveland’s threes came in the first half, also a playoff record, and this was all Atlanta could do:
That’s the kind of night it was for the Hawks, who now trail 2-0 in the series as it heads back to Atlanta.
LeBron James has always been an incredible passer. In the midst of the Cavs’ Game 2 beatdown of the Hawks, he zipped this one-handed beauty into the paint to Kyrie Irving, who kicked it out to Kevin Love for a corner three:
The three was just one of the 18 Cleveland hit in the first half, which set an NBA playoff record.