Rockets look like a team figuring it all out in win over Spurs

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You don’t want to read too much into one regular season game, especially one in December.

However the Rockets 111-98 win over host San Antonio had you asking a couple questions:

1) How good will Houston be if they can stay healthy and find some consistency?

2) Is San Antonio playing a step slow this season against the best in the West just a regular season thing, or are they a step slow now?

Houston scored the first six points of the game and raced out to an early 17-point lead early, thanks to Chandler Parsons putting up 14 in the first quarter. By the end of that quarter San Antonio had put up 40 points on 64 percent shooting, including 6-of-9 from three. The Spurs chipped away at that lead and actually got it down to five points midway through the fourth quarter. Then James Harden happened — he hit four straight shots, scored 11 straight points and had 16 of his game-high 28 points in the fourth quarter. Harden shut down any Rockets comebacks.

Houston ended up with 21 points from Parsons and Terrence Jones, while Dwight Howard had 15 points and 20 rebounds. They ended up with a balanced attack and scored 118.2 points per 100 possessions and played solid defense.

The Rockets have been inconsistent this season, which is to be expected after adding Howard to the mix this season changed the dynamic.

Still, you watch games like this and think come the playoffs they could be a much bigger threat than it has seemed up to this point — this is a team that is slowly starting to figure out who it is. When it does… watch out.

As for San Antonio, they are 16-0 this season against teams under .500 and 6-7 against teams over .500 and have had teams like Oklahoma City, Indiana and now Houston handle them. It’s foolish to write off San Antonio right now (how many times have people done that only to look like fools?), this is a veteran team that knows when it needs to peak and that is not Christmas day.

However, the struggles against other good team makes it fair to question if they really do have another run in them this season.

We’ll see. Manu Ginobili had 22 against Houston off the bench, but Tim Duncan was 4-of-12 and Tony Parker was 3-of-11. It’s a long season but we need to take a hard look at them as we start to move into the middle of the season.

Report: Raptors won’t sign Vince Carter if he gets bought out

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Of returning to the Raptors, Vince Carter said, “It’ll happen one day.” It sounds as if the Kings would buy him out if he wants.

Will he end the season with Toronto?

Josh Lewenberg of TSN 1050:

After speaking with a few team sources, I can confirm that they’ve had internal dialogue and debate about the idea of bringing Vince Carter back. It’s something that they wanted to do over the summer. That’s why they made him an offer, something that I’ve reported in the past. And it’s also something that they’d be open to in the future, perhaps next year in some capacity. But they’ve decided now is not the right time. And I think the consensus seems to be there’s so much going on right now, and they want this season to be about this team, their accomplishments and their playoff push and not the sideshow that I think would come with a Vince Carter return.

The Raptors (41-16) are on pace for their best record ever. They’re excelling offensively and defensively. Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan are spearheading a more dynamic offense that spurs hope for more playoff success.

Toronto is probably correct to save the Carter reunion for another year – though it depends who else is available. That 15th roster spot could be useful. If Carter is the best player who’d sign, the Raptors should sign him and deal with the hoopla.

But it’s not clear whom they could get or whether they could even get Carter. He hasn’t sounded like someone who’d forgo guaranteed salary to play for the minimum.

Tiago Splitter announces retirement

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Tiago Splitter was so effective in his role for the Spurs during their playoff run to the 2014 title – 19.1 PER, .239 win shares per 48 minutes, +7.5 box plus-minus. It gets forgotten, because he twice lost his starting job that postseason.

Limited by a late start in the NBA and injuries, Splitter’s prime was short and ill-timed. He was a traditional center just as those were going out of style.

But for moments in the right matchups, he provided a major boost to a championship team. That was the peak of a seven-year NBA career.

HoopsHype:

Tiago Splitter announced his retirement at the age of 33 in an interview with SporTV.

Splitter just couldn’t get healthy. He missed 150 games over the last three years with the Spurs, Hawks and 76ers.

Drafted No. 28 in 2007, Splitter remained overseas for a few years and built hype and intrigue. He signed with San Antonio and started alongside Tim Duncan for a couple years. The Spurs later dumped him on Atlanta to clear space for LaMarcus Aldridge – a sign of Splitter’s success. He earned about $47 million in his NBA career.

J.J. Redick apologizes for saying what sounded like a slur for Chinese people

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76ers guard J.J. Redick explained saying what sounded like a slur for Chinese people – he was tongue-tied. But he didn’t actually apologize, and that bothered many.

Now, he’s getting that part right.

Redick:

Maybe Redick really did just stumble over his words. Based on the inflection, it certainly sounds possible.

Maybe he thought he was being funny then got caught.

He’d respond now the same way now either way. Maybe it’s just unfortunate he’s caught up in this. Maybe he’s using plausible deniability to get away with something.

I don’t know, but it’s good he apologized. People can apologize for accidents, and it usually helps make everyone feel better and move on.

Adam Silver: ‘Sounds like’ NBA All-Star draft will be televised next year

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NBA commissioner Adam Silver said the point of the All-Star draft wasn’t to create a new TV event, but a better All-Star game. He even pointed out Stephen Curry favored not televising the draft this year.

But All-Star after All-Star – from captain LeBron James to last pick LaMarcus Aldridge – expressed a comfort with the selections being known. Good thing, because most of the draft order leaked, anyway.

So, will the draft be televised next year?

Silver, in an interview with Ramona Shelburne of ESPN:

I was misinterpreted the other day, because people thought I was diming Steph by saying he didn’t want to televise it. I have no idea whether he wanted to televise it. What he said after the decision came not to televise it, he said let’s give it a chance to see if it works, and then if it works, then we’ll televise it. So, I said I agree with him. But I don’t know whether he was for or against it.

By the way, I’ll take as much responsibility. When we sat with the union and we came up with this format, we all agreed, let’s not turn something that’s 100 percent positive into a potential negative to any player. But then maybe we were overly conservative, because then we came out of there, and the players were, “We can take it. We’re All-Stars. Let’s have a draft.” So it sounds like we’re going to have a televised draft next year. But I’ve got to sit with LeBron and all the guys in the union and figure it out.

Overly cautious is right. This year was a missed opportunity. But the more important thing is getting next year right.

It sounds as if the NBA will.