Mike D’Antoni didn’t mention Dwight Howard’s name once in a lengthy interview with Mike Bresnahan that appeared in Sunday’s Los Angeles Times.
But the implication of what he did actually say was unmistakable.
As you’re likely well aware by now, Howard was never a fit with the Lakers, and in hindsight, there was virtually zero chance of him re-signing to play there under a max contract that would run for the next five years.
The team had to try to retain Howard in free agency, because when healthy, he’s one of the game’s top five players and a complete game-changer on the defensive end of the floor. But now that he’s gone, D’Antoni feels that the sailing may be a bit smoother from a chemistry standpoint next season.
Addition by subtraction? The Lakers can only hope, despite their very public courting of Howard that started a mere eight weeks ago and crashed and burned barely a week later.
“We’ve definitely improved our shooting and I think the chemistry will be better just because the uncertainty has gone away,” D’Antoni said. “A lot of people will know their roles better and what’s going on on the floor better. Dealing with free agency day to day, we won’t have those problems.”
Howard was the one whose free agency was in constant question, and the topic was brought up repeatedly at various mile markers throughout the course of the season.
D’Antoni doesn’t have to mention Howard by name, because it’s obvious the Lakers will be a more harmonious unit without him next season. They won’t be as talented and there will be no championship expectations, of course. But if nothing else, the season should be among the more drama-free that we’ve seen in Los Angeles in quite some time.
The NBA acknowledged the attention-grabbing officiating error late in the Bulls’ win over the Kings on Saturday: DeMarcus Cousins shouldn’t have been called for fouling Dwyane Wade, who hit the go-ahead free throw with 14 seconds left.
But before Sacramento claims the referees cost it a win, the Last Two Minute Report reveals a more significant missed call that favored the Kings.
Cousins should have been called for travelling with 56.3 left as he drove for a basket, according to the league:
Cousins (SAC) moves his pivot foot. The official is looking for any illegal contact and does not pick up the pivot foot.
The non-call directly allowed Cousins to score two points. Wade made only one free throw.
The officiating errors in the final two minutes helped the Kings more than the Bulls.
(Sacramento center Kosta Koufos also got away with a shooting foul on Jimmy Butler with 37.8 seconds left, according to the league, but Robin Lopez tipped in Butler’s miss, anyway. The Bulls weren’t shorted any points on that possession.)
The Trail Blazers beat the Celtics on Saturday in an overtime thriller. The game provided so much action, there was little objection when what would’ve been one of the most exciting plays was waived off.
But it should have counted.
With Boston down one one and 11 seconds left, Marcus Smart stripped Damian Lillard under Portland’s own basket and immediately hit a go-ahead layup. Except officials called a foul on Smart – in error, according to the NBA’s Last Two Minute Report:
Smart (BOS) makes clean contact with the ball.
Lillard went to the line and made both free throws, and Terry Rozier made a 3-pointer to send the game to overtime, where the Trail Blazers emerged with a 127-123 win.
Portland still would’ve had a chance to answer, but with a correct call, Boston would have held the lead a much better chance of winning in regulation.
Jeremy Lin has been in and out of the Nets’ lineup due to a lingering hamstring injury. He has already missed 31 games, including the last 11.
The point guard hoped to return around now, but that’s not happening.
The following statement has been released by Brooklyn Nets General Manager Sean Marks:
“During the course of his rehab, Jeremy re-aggravated his strained left hamstring and will be out approximately three to five weeks as he continues to work towards a full recovery. We understand and appreciate Jeremy’s competitive desire to get back on the court with his teammates, however, we are going to be cautious with his rehab in order to ensure that he is at full strength once he returns.”
Of course, this improves the fortunes of the Celtics,who own the Nets’ 2017 first-round pick. Brooklyn, 9-34 and 4.5 games worse than anyone else in the NBA, appears even more certain to secure the No. 1 seed in the lottery.
The Nets have been bad with Lin this season and a little worse without him. With no first-rounder, the difference is negligible to them.
Isaiah Whitehead, Sean Kilpatrick and Spencer Dinwiddie will get more opportunities to develop. But Brooklyn is probably overburdening those young guards. Even with Lin, there was plenty of playing time available.
Robert Covington hit the game-winning 3-pointer in the 76ers’ 93-92 win over the Trail Blazers on Friday, but that wasn’t Covington’s only triple as Philadelphia overcame a four-point deficit in the final 40 seconds. He also buried a 3-pointer with 38 seconds left.
The catch: That shot came after Philadelphia should have turned the ball over, according to the NBA’s Last Two Minute Report.
Gerald Henderson missed a 3-pointer, and Dario Saric prevented the rebound from going out of bounds, saving the ball with a pass to Covington. Except Saric got away with stepping out of bounds with the ball with 42.1 seconds left, per the league:
Saric’s (PHI) left foot is out of bounds when he makes contact with the loose ball.
That would’ve given Portland the ball up four.
The 76ers overcome the odds to win this game. But a correct call might have produced too steep of a hill for Philadelphia to climb.