Hornets’ draft pick P.J. Hairston exchanges punches with high school player in pick-up game

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P.J. Hairston got drafted in the first round in spite of having been kicked out of North Carolina during college for rule violations in part because teams thought he had matured. Talk to the people around his D-League team and they glowed about his work ethic and how he had wanted to move forward and create a new image of himself.

Then Sunday happened.

Hairston got into an incident with a high school player at a pick-up game, something confirmed by his agent to Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer.

Juan Morrow, who represents the 6-foot-6, 230-pound Hairston, said his client was playing in a pickup basketball game when tempers flared.

“The other guy pushed (Hairston) and he pushed back. Both shoved each other,” Morrow said in a telephone interview. At that point the altercation escalated into punches, the agent said.

“He swung at P.J. and P.J. swung back,” Morrow said adding that “both connected.”

That’s not how the student saw it

The Hornets released this statement:

“The organization is aware of an incident this afternoon involving P.J. Hairston. We are in the process of gathering additional information and will have no further comment at this time.”

According to some reports it was Barkley, a high school senior, who was the instigator. It might be easier to sort out who started a 2 a.m. bar fight than this incident, especially second and third hand.

But it is irrelevant if the youth started it, Hairston has got to walk away. Yes, tempers can get heated on the court, even in a pickup game. Doesn’t matter. He’s the pro, he’s the guy with everything to lose.

Plus, if a high schooler can get under his skin, what happens when Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett and frankly 400 other guys who talk smack during the games start going at him? And after this you can be sure they will go at him.

The question with Hairston was never his game but rather his mentality. This isn’t helping that perception.

Magic’s Aaron Gordon skies to finish amazing alley-oop (VIDEO)

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Aaron Gordon may not have had the best dunk contest this year — apparently drones and dunks don’t mix well — but the guy can still get up and finish with the best in the league.

As he did on this alley-oop against Detroit.

Elfrid Payton had to throw a lob that would get over Andre Drummond, but how many guys in the league can get that high, reach back and finish that? Damn.

Former Hawk Pero Antic’s celebration accidentally punches teammate in face in Eruoleague (VIDEO)

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Former Atlanta Hawk Pero Antic is now playing for Turkish powerhouse Fenerbahce, in case you were not aware.

Fenerbahce was facing Anadolu Efes in a EuroLeague game, it was tight late and former NBA player Ekpe Udoh was at the free throw line for Fenerbahce. He missed his second shot, but the rebound caromed out-of-bounds off an Anadolu Efes player. Antic was pumped.

Maybe a little too pumped.

Ouch.

That was Nikola Kalinic, by the way, the guy Antic now owes dinner to. Kalinic would like the dinner more than the hug and kiss he got from Antic right after the play.

Also, Anadolu Efes held on to win 80-77.

(Hat tip to Ball Don’t Lie.)

James Harden helped recruit Lou Williams to Houston

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The Lakers had been shopping Lou Williams around in the run-up to the trade deadline, the only question was would they get a first-round pick for him. Rumors around the league say that Houston had offered them one weeks before, it was on the table, but the Jim Buss/Mitch Kupchak front office held their cards close and hoped a better deal would come through.

While all that was going on James Harden decided to ease the process and did a little recruiting calling up Williams, the sixth-man guard told Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

“When James called, he asked me if I was interested in playing with them,” Williams told The Vertical. “I told him that I loved the Lakers, but James and them have a group that fit my personality, fit how I play. He said he was going to make it happen.”

Williams then laughed, sitting on the edge of a visiting court following a recent practice. “I’ve heard that before, so I didn’t really put stock into it,” Williams told The Vertical. “I guess James did put the word in, and the team made it happen.”

We all know what happened, Jeanie Buss removed her brother and Kupchak a few days before the trade deadline, Magic Johnston stepped in, called around, and quickly pulled the trigger on a trade that sent Williams to Houston (the Lakers also got Corey Brewer). Williams has averaged 14.5 points per game and had some strong performances with the Rockets, although he’s still finding his groove with the team on the court. Still, he’s been an upgrade for the Rockets’ bench.

Harden knew he would be, so he did his part to make sure it happened.

Take a look back at just how great Shaq was with the Lakers (VIDEO)

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Shaquille O’Neal was as dominant a force as the NBA has ever seen.

His peak years came with the Lakers, when paired with Kobe Bryant one the court — and Phil Jackson manipulating both of them — they won three titles (and arguably would have had more if they stayed together). Those Lakers teams were one of the NBA’s great teams.

Friday night, the Lakers unveil Shaq’s statue at Staples Center. Take a look back at some of Shaq’s Lakers highlights.