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Jeanie Buss thinks her dad could have kept Dwight Howard in L.A.

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There were a multitude of reasons Dwight Howard bolted the Lakers to land with the Rockets, but in the end it all came down to trust — Howard didn’t trust the Lakers would feature him properly and build a contender around him.

That’s the opposite of Kobe Bryant back in 2004 — Kobe was very close to leaving for the Clippers, but Jerry Buss called him up, and because they had a mutual trust, Buss talked him out of leaving.

Jeanie Buss, the daughter of Jerry and one of the Lakers co-owners, thinks if her father had been around Howard would be with the Lakers today. That’s what she told ESPN Radio in Los Angeles on Thursday, as transcribed by Ramona Shelburne at ESPNLosAngeles.com.

“They would’ve probably had a better relationship if my dad hadn’t been sick,” Jeanie Buss said …. “When it came time to try to convince Dwight to stay, we lost the best closer in the business in Dr. Buss.

“Putting up the billboard maybe wasn’t the right thing. But we maybe have to learn to do things differently because Dr. Buss isn’t here anymore. People said [of the billboards], ‘Oh, that’s not the Laker way.’ Well, the Laker way isn’t the same, because Dr. Buss isn’t here.”

The billboard was playing to his ego, playing to Howard’s need for praise and reinforcement. But it was a poor substitute for the kind of relationship and trust the Lakers had a season to forge with Howard and couldn’t.

Then he meets with Houston, and they can sell him on winning basketball, but more than that Chandler Parsons sells him on team camaraderie and a collegial atmosphere. It’s the things he didn’t think he could get in Los Angeles.

Would Jerry Buss have made a difference? If he were healthy and in his prime, my guess is a number of things would have been different. Who knows if that would have kept Howard in town.

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.