Note to Dwight Howard: The best revenge is not getting beat in a key division game.
But that’s not what Howard was talking about after the Lakers loss Monday to Golden State. In the second quarter Klay Thompson drove around Steve Blake like he wasn’t there (the Lakers perimeter defense was a disaster all game), came across the lane drawing Howard and other defenders, then dumped the rock behind himself to a cutting David Lee. Then Lee jumped toward the rim and into Howard, drew contact and the foul, and in doing so elbowed Howard in the lip.
It drew a little blood. Howard then drew a technical for chirping at Lee after the play.
When the game was over, Howard wasn’t done chirping, reports Marc Spears of Yahoo sports.
“He got away with a shot,” Howard said. “I will remember this game. I will remember that shot. He said he wasn’t trying to do it. You can look at the play and see it for yourself. I will take care of it later.”
First off, you could have taken care of it during the game if you were serious, not at some mythical future date.
Second, that’s a pretty standard NBA play. You can argue if you want Lee was leading with his elbow, but it’s nothing Howard hasn’t done himself on a hundred other plays.
Howard needs to worry about the Lakers defense — actually, he’s taking a little too much blame for that, he can’t be expected to clean up all the messes of their porous perimeter — meshing with Pau Gasol and getting some wins. The Lakers need wins now, being only one game up on the Jazz and 1.5 on Dallas heading down the stretch. That’s the focus, meaningless revenge can wait until another day.
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.