Oklahoma City Thunder v Houston Rockets - Game Three

Rockets continue to clear cap space, release Carlos Delfino and Aaron Brooks

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Looking up and down the roster of the Houston Rockets, there are a lot of guys there with smaller deals or team options.

That’s by design, of course, in order to maintain maximum financial flexibility with the hopes of landing a top-level free agent — like Dwight Howard, for example.

The latest moves, announced by Rockets GM Daryl Morey, clear even more salary cap space so the team can eventually have enough room to offer Howard the max contract he’ll require in free agency.

That’s Carlos Delfino and Aaron Brooks, who are now unrestricted free agents.

There will be some interest around the league for Delfino’s skill set, which includes serviceable three-point shooting and perimeter defense. He averaged 10.6 points in 25.2 minutes per game off the bench for Houston last season.

Brooks has bounced around a bit recently, but he does offer some speed and scoring ability that teams may be able to utilize in a backup role if the price is right.

Houston has one more transaction pending, and that’s to try and trade Thomas Robinson without taking back any salary in return — which is something they’ve been trying to do for a month now. That’ll be the last piece of the puzzle from a cap perspective to prepare for what the team hopes will be Howard’s eventual arrival.

Kobe Bryant with spin move around LeBron James (VIDEO)

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The game itself went about how you’d expect one between a title contender and a high lottery team to go — the Cavaliers 120-111 win over the Lakers was never really in doubt.

But the fans in Cleveland wanted to see some vintage Kobe Bryant, and they got it late when he spun around LeBron James and hit the reverse lay-up.

LeBron had 29 points on the night, and Kyrie Irving had 35. Kobe finished with 17 and got a standing ovation from the Cleveland crowd.

Suns’ Markieff Morris, Archie Goodwin get in scuffle on the bench

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Just another magical day in the Valley of the Sun, where clearly Jeff Hornacek was the problem….

During an early timeout in the Suns’ game at Golden State, Markieff Morris tried to explain something to Archie Goodwin, who is seated. This conversation gets heated quickly, and teammates eventually have to step in and separate the two teammates.

The Suns have shopped Morris around as the trade deadline approaches, this isn’t going to help his value.

We should find out more about what happened after the game ends, although I’m sure both sides will play it down as “nothing.”

Kawhi Leonard drains game winner to beat Orlando (VIDEO)

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This is how much Gregg Popovich trusts Kawhi Leonard on offense now: Tie game with 13.3 seconds remaining, and the play design is a 1-4 flat isolation for Leonard. It’s the kind of play teams will call for LeBron James or Kevin Durant. Popovich just called it for Leonard.

And he was rewarded with a game-winning bucket.

Leonard finished with 29 points, LaMarcus Aldridge had 21, and the Spurs head into the All-Star break with a 45-8 record, on pace to win 70 games this season. And that still would only get them a two seed.

Hornets’ Michael Kidd-Gilchrist suffers shoulder dislocation, leaves game

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
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Michael Kidd-Gilchrist had been back just six games after suffering a torn labrum in the preseason that required surgery. The Hornets had won four of those six, were playing improved defense, and looked like a potential playoff team in the East.

Now this.

He went straight to the locker room and did not return to the game (the Pacers got the win).

You can see the injury above. In a scramble for a loose ball, the Pacers’ Ian Mahinmi falls on MKG’s arm, dislocating his shoulder.

We don’t know the severity of all this and if MKG is going to miss time beyond this game. But it isn’t good.