Roy Hibbert doesn’t like Andre Drummond anymore

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Roy Hibbert has been an All-Star. He’d probably be a U.S. Olympian if he were allowed to be. He’s one of the top players on one of the NBA’s top teams.

He’s what Andre Drummond wanted to be.

So how does Drummond go about rising to that stature?

Well, he worked on his conditioning so he could play more (37 minutes per game this season). He’s getting more comfortable with the ball in his hands. He’s defending more aggressively and more soundly within a team concept.

In time, Drummond will get there, it seems.

Until then, Drummond is doing everything possible to bridge the gap, perhaps learning from the Pistons’ two biggest offseason acquisitions.

The Pistons made Josh Smith their most highly paid player and Brandon Jennings their point guard, putting two players known to play with an edge into leadership positions. If the Pistons-Pacers game Tuesday is any indication, their influence is rubbing off on Drummond.

Pacers Center Roy Hibbert, via Terry Foster of The Detroit News:

“To tell you the truth I was a fan of his until tonight,” Hibbert said Tuesday. “He is a real good prospect, but it seemed like he was running his mouth a little bit tonight. He has a tremendous future, but I was a fan of his. I thought he was supposed to have a breakout year this year. Best of luck to him. He can dunk the ball real well and he can block shots and he can rebound. He is going to have a bright future — but I was a fan of his.”

Hibbert doesn’t like yapping on the court. Drummond knows that and admits to trying to agitate him. It was nothing personal. He was simply doing his job and does not care that his fan club lost a member.

“If I lost a fan, I can’t be mad about it,” Drummond said. “If he complained about me talking, that is part of the game. I’m doing what I can do to get in his head, and it obviously worked because he noticed. So I was just trying to play my game and get into his.”

By saying he doesn’t like Drummond, Hibbert is letting Drummond win – at least to some degree. Hibbert outplayed Drummond in that game, a Pacers win, but maybe the gap between the two would have been wider had Drummond not spoken up.

Knowing he bothered Hibbert will only keep Drummond on this track. Foster:

“My goal was to not make it easy for him,” Drummond said. “It was to make it harder to get his shots, like it will throughout the season. The jump hook I tried to bang him to get him off his spot — that is what we worked on in practice. If he is mad about that, then he needs to get used to it.”

The Pistons and Pacers next play Dec. 16. I wouldn’t be surprised if Drummond has lost a few more fans on opposing teams – and gained more in Detroit – by then. He seems set on defending physically and verbally, a combination that should make the Pistons better, though less liked.

Kevin Durant: Liking anti-Russell Westbrook Instagram comment was ‘total accident’

AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki
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Kevin Durant liked an Instagram comment critical of Russell Westbrook.

Here we go again?

Royce Young of ESPN:

I’m not inside Durant’s mind. He could be lying to cover another burner Instagram snafu.

But I tend to believe him. It’s easy enough to accidentally click like, and the greater context is on his side.

Durant has always tried to downplay a feud with Westbrook. Even at the personal rivalry’s peak, Durant just seemed as if he wanted Westbrook to like him. So, it’s nearly impossible to believe Durant – even for a button-pushing moment – wanted to publicly slight Westbrook.

But maybe Durant wanted quiresultan or some other alter-ego to do so? Maybe, as beaten down as he looked by the controversy over those deleted tweets last summer, Durant didn’t learn his lesson and still uses burner accounts. I certainly wouldn’t rule that out.

Again, though, this would be a weird message. Last summer’s deleted tweets praised Westbrook while slamming the rest of the Thunder. Durant was going to have a burner account take the opposite stance now? That doesn’t really add up.

NBA apparently reviewing whether Russell Westbrook should be suspended for Thunder-Jazz Game 5

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The NBA has a hard rule during altercations: Any players who leave the bench area receives a one-game suspension. Intent doesn’t matter. It’s not negotiable. The league simply doesn’t want more players entering a fracas.

Russell Westbrook found a gray area last night.

The Thunder star was waiting to check into Oklahoma City’s Game 4 loss to the Jazz when Raymond Felton fouled Rudy Gobert, um, unpleasantly. Gobert and Felton got into it, though not immediately. Once they did, Westbrook walked onto the court, and he and Gobert swiped at each other.

Gobert and Felton eventually received technical fouls. But could harsher punishment be in store, especially for Westbrook?

Andy Larsen of KSL.com:

A pool reporter request to the game officials to ask them about the play was initiated, but the NBA indicated that the officials wouldn’t comment on the matter because it would be reviewed by the league’s disciplinary committee.

The key question should be: Did a referee already beckon Westbrook into the game? If one did, Westbrook shouldn’t be suspended. If none did, Westbrook should be suspended.

The league will talk to the refs and get a better understanding of what happened. Their account matters most.

But one indicator working against Westbrook: Steven Adamswhose toughness is beyond reproach – was also waiting to check in and stayed on the sideline. If Adams had already entered the game, wouldn’t he have gotten involved? Maybe not, but his hanging back is circumstantial evidence pointing toward a Westbrook suspension.

Again, though, the referees’ accounts matter far more.

Russell Westbrook on matchup with Ricky Rubio: ‘Let’s get past that. We’re done with that’

Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images
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After Ricky Rubio‘s 26-point triple-double in Game 3, Russell Westbrook said, “I’ma shut that s— off next game though. Guarantee that.”

Westbrook definitely tried. The Thunder star defended Rubio far more aggressively in Game 4 last night. But Westbrook also fouled Rubio four times in the first half and played too out of control, committing five turnovers. Rubio (13 points, eight rebounds, six assists) wasn’t nearly as individually excellent, but his passing keyed the Jazz’s offense.

Most importantly, Utah outscored Oklahoma City by 12 in the 30 minutes the point guards shared the court and won 113-96 to take a 3-1 series lead.

How did the matchup with Rubio go, Russ?

Westbrook:

It’s not about me and him. Let’s get past that. We’re done with that.

How convenient.

Westbrook is the one who brought attention to the individual matchup. He took stopping Rubio upon himself. Now, when it didn’t go well, Westbrook suddenly doesn’t want to talk about it?

Maybe Westbrook realized he got carried away, to the detriment of his team. It’s not too late to fix that, and this could be his attempt to do so before Game 5 Wednesday.

But he also must own the egg on his face for putting the spotlight on Westbrook-Rubio and then dodging the attention once the matchup went south.

Rockets 50, Timberwolves 20: Most dominant playoff quarter in shot-clock era (video)

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James Harden missed a floater and clapped in frustration. The Rockets’ third quarter in Game 4 against the Timberwolves didn’t get off to a great start. Harden’s shooting had underwhelmed since Game 2.

Then, Harden and Houston broke out of the funk – in a big way.

The Rockets outscored Minnesota 50-20 in the third quarter of their 119-100 victory last night, giving Houston a 3-1 lead in the first-round series. The 30-point margin in the third quarter was tied for the most lopsided playoff quarter in the shot-clock era:

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Harden singlehandedly outscored the Timberwolves himself, 23-20. Paul added 15.

The Rockets shot 5-of-10 on 2-pointers, 9-of-13 on 3-pointers and 13-of-13 on free throws. Houston committed no turnovers and offensively rebounded a third of its misses.

It was incredible output, even for the NBA’s best offense.

The Rockets’ 50 points were second-most in a playoff quarter – and the most in a victory – in the shot-clock era. The leaderboard:

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