D.J. Augustin, Patrick Beverley

Patrick Beverley fractures hand, out up to six weeks

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Patrick Beverley, relative to an average starting point guard, is not crucial to his team.

He can run a decent offense, but James Harden handles the ball more for the Rockets. He can hawk the ball on defense, but Dwight Howard drive Houston on that end.

So, this news isn’t the end of the world, but make no mistake, this is a big setback for the Rockets. Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle:

Houston’s starting lineup has settled with Beverley, Harden, Chandler Parsons and Terrence Jones, and the unit has been excellent together. In 245 minutes:

    • Offensive rating: 112.9
    • Defensive rating: 100.2
    • Net rating: +12.7

The logical successor while Beverley is out is Jeremy Lin. That is if can get healthy. He’s missed 10 of Houston’s last 12 games. Lin, via Feigen:

“Hopefully, I’ll be back Monday if there are no setbacks,” Lin said. “Just to get back in shape after having to sit, not do anything for a while, not even really being able to sit, let alone jog or run, it’s good to sweat again and get your body going.”Lin missed six games with a sprained a bruised knee and was just working his way back for two games before he went out again after running into a screen set by the Warriors’ Andrew Bogut, forcing him to miss all four games last week.

In the 40 minutes Lin has played with the Rockets’ other four starters, the results have been predictable. Houston plays much faster, scores significantly better, defends a lot worse and comes out behind.

  • Offensive rating: 118.3
  • Defensive rating: 116.3
  • Net rating: +2.4

As far as second options go, Lin isn’t bad. But that’s predicated on him being healthy.

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If Lin can’t go, Aaron Brooks is next in line. He’s played just 10 minutes with the other four starters – alert: small sample – but the results have been amazing:

  • Offensive rating: 133.6
  • Defensive rating: 86.6
  • Net rating: +47.1

If the Rockets use Brooks as their main point guard, those numbers will certainly worsen on both ends of the court. But that initial success offers at least hope they could get by with their third option.

Like I said, losing Beverley hurts the Rockets, but they’re relatively well equipped to handle it.

Aaron Gordon both legs over the mascot, ball-under-the-legs dunk (VIDEO)

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TORONTO — Zach LaVine won the NBA All-Star Saturday Dunk Contest, but in an epic night for my money this was the single best dunk.

Orlando’s Aaron Gordon broke ground with this one — guys have jumped over mascots and other players before (and a Kia hood), but by splitting their legs apart. Gordon just put both legs over Stuff (that’s the mascot’s name, Stuff the Magic Dragon, I don’t make this up) — and took the ball off the mascot’s head, went under his legs, and threw it down.

Insane.

Gordon deserved a trophy for his performance in this dunk contest.

Zach LaVine edges Aaron Gordon in epic, insane Dunk Contest

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TORONTO — That. Was. Amazing.

In a dunk contest that will go down with the all-time greats — Jordan vs. Dominique, Dr. J from the free throw line — Minnesota’s Zach LaVine defended his dunk contest title. Barely. Because Orlando’s Aaron Gordon was doing dunks nobody had ever seen before.

And LaVine was bringing it just as hard.

The two men advanced to the finals — dismissing Will Barton and Andre Drummond, each of whom had good dunks — and that was when it got wild.

There were four second-round dunks, and four perfect scores of 50. (That was in spite of Shaq, who wanted to give nines for second attempts.)

“I was prepared for four (second round dunks),” LaVine said. “To tell the truth, he came with something that no one else has done. He did two dunks that were just crazy with the mascots, jumping over them. We just kept pushing each other until the last dunk. I’ve got to give it up to my boy Will “The Thrill” Barton. It’s because of him I think I won. Because he said try to go from the free-throw line. I’d never done that before, and I just tried it. So I guess it was a great dunk. I think it was the best one ever.”

The Air Canada Centre crowd was exploding with every dunk. The two men went to a dunk-off — and got two more 50s.

“If I knew it was going to be like that, I would have prepared better and we would have been here dunking all night, going back 50 after 50 after 50 after 50,” Gordon said. “We would have been here all night. I didn’t know it was going to be like that. I was just hoping Zach was going to miss, and it wasn’t going to happen. You could see as my facial expressions when Zach dunks it, it’s like okay, that’s a 50. Like I know we’re going to have to dunk again.”

So they went to a second-round of overtime, where LaVine put up another 50 and won the contest.

Gordon was close to perfect.

Zach LaVine can flat-out fly.

Magic’s Aaron Gordon with the over-the-mascot mad dunk

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TORONTO — Aaron Gordon was giving Zach LaVine all he could handle in the Dunk Contest.

He blew the lid off the Air Canada Centre with this dunk in the first round — and it wasn’t even his best dunk of the night. Never seen this before.

This dunk contest was awesome, so much more video to come.

Zach LaVine opens Slam Dunk Contest title defense with spectacular behind-the-back slam (VIDEO)

during the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge 2016 at Air Canada Centre on February 12, 2016 in Toronto, Canada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.
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TORONTO — Zach LaVine clearly heard all the talk that Aaron Gordon or Will Barton had a chance to upset him in the Slam Dunk Contest. He came out ready to prove his superiority right off the bat. This behind-the-back slam was his first attempt of the night:

Even better was the reaction, both from Andre Drummond and from LaVine’s Minnesota teammates: