Kemba Walker
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Hornets end losing skid, top Brooklyn 111-107

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) Someone’s streak was going to continue Tuesday. The Charlotte Hornets were simply happy it wasn’t them as they snapped a seven-game losing streak and held onto a 111-107 victory over the Brooklyn Nets.

Charlotte (24-28) had not won since a Jan. 21 triumph over Brooklyn. The Nets (9-43) dropped their 10th straight, and still have not won since a Jan. 20 victory at New Orleans.

“We needed that game,” Charlotte forward Nicolas Batum said. “We’re back home. We need to protect our home court and we needed to win that game.”

Batum, Kemba Walker and Marco Belinelli each had 17 points to lead the Hornets as seven players scored in double-digits in a game where Charlotte’s lead ballooned to as many as 17 points in the second quarter thanks to a quick start.

Bojan Bogdanovic scored 22 points and Brook Lopez added 20 for the Nets.

Jeremy Lamb tallied 16 points for the Hornets, while center Frank Kaminsky recorded 12 points, 11 rebounds and five assists.

“We dug ourselves a big hole in the first half,” Brooklyn coach Kenny Atkinson said. “Again, it was kind of a similar story – turnovers hurt us.”

The Nets tallied 18 turnovers, which resulted in 18 Hornets points.

“Turnovers are killing us because it allows them to have too many easy layups,” said Nets forward Bojan Bogdanovic. “Everybody talks about defense, but I think also we have to start with the offense to limit turnovers.”

In Brooklyn’s last four games, the Nets are averaging 19.5 turnovers per game.

In this game, the Hornets pulled away early, using a 10-0 run in the first quarter to take a 14-4 advantage with 5:28 left in that period. In all, Brooklyn scored just 16 first-quarter points compared to Charlotte’s 24. Only the Nets’ 14-point first quarter on Jan. 21 was a smaller opponent output for the Hornets this season.

But the Nets continued to attack, scoring nearly as many points in each the third and fourth quarters (35 each) as they scored in the entire first half (37). The Nets sliced Charlotte’s lead to 91-87 with 6:11 remaining when Joe Harris knocked in a 23-foot jumper.

Charlotte, however, countered with quick baskets from Marvin Williams and Belinelli to give the needed cushion.

“Winning in this league is hard,” Hornets coach Steve Clifford said. “We struggled to guard them, but we needed a win and that’s the most important thing.”

Charlotte’s All-Star guard Walker caused a small scare when he doubled-over from an elbow to the face by Harris as he drove to the basket with 1:45 left in the first quarter. Walker immediately came out of game and was tended to on the bench by medical staff.

He returned to the contest with 7:29 left in the second quarter.

TIP-INS

Nets: Spencer Dinwiddie started at point guard, as rookie Isaiah Whitehead was moved to the bench. It was Dinwiddie’s 12th game started in 29 contests with the Nets, and came about because Brooklyn still is searching for cohesive units. “It’s about getting guys in their comfort zone and figuring out which point guard fits with each group,” Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said. “Unfortunately, this late in the season, we’re still searching.” … Former Hornets guard Jeremy Lin missed a chance to play in front of the crowd he played for last season, sitting out because of a strained left hamstring. Lin has played in just 12 games for the Nets this season.

Hornets: Center Cody Zeller missed his eighth straight game with a quad contusion. The 7-foot Frank Kaminsky started at center for Charlotte, shifting from his typical power forward position. … Center Miles Plumlee, acquired via trade Feb. 2, played his first game in Charlotte. He scored four points on 2-for-3 shooting in 15 minutes.

3-POINT INACCURACY

Hornets coach Steve Clifford has identified one of the biggest problems plaguing his 23-28 squad: 3-point shooting. Namely, not making them.

“Our team was built around 3-point shooting,” Clifford said.

That is a problem this season, when the Hornets rank ninth in the NBA in 3-pointers attempted (27.6) per game, but are 20th in the league in accuracy at 35.4 percent.

Last season, Charlotte ranked fourth in the league in 3-point attempts (29.4) and was eighth in the NBA in accuracy at 36.2 percent.

UP NEXT

Nets: Brooklyn returns home Wednesday to host Washington.

Hornets: Charlotte hosts the Houston Rockets on Thursday in the second game of a four-game homestand.

Kevin Durant cops to tweets, calls elements of them ‘childish’ and ‘idiotic’

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Kevin Durant – tweeting in the third person, suggesting he forget to switch to a secret Twitter account – said he left the Thunder because he didn’t like the organization or playing for Billy Donovan and that Oklahoma City’s surrounding cast around himself and Russell Westbrook was lacking. Durant also appeared to have a second Instagram account he has used to insult critics.

Durant at TechCrunch:

Durant:

I do have other another Instagram account, but that’s just for my friends and family. So, I wouldn’t say I was using that to clap back at anybody.

But I use Twitter to engage with the fans. I think it’s a great way to engage with basketball fans.

But I happened to take it a little too far, and that’s what happens sometimes when I get into these basketball debates. Or what I really love is just to play basketball. I went a little too far.

And I don’t regret clapping back at anybody or talking to my fans on Twitter. I do regret using my former coach’s name and the former organization that I played for. That was childish. That was idiotic. All those type of words. I regret doing that, and I apologize to him for doing that.

But I don’t think I’ll ever stop engaging with my fans. I think they really enjoy it, and I think it’s a good way to connect us all. But I will scale back a little bit right now and just focus on playing basketball. So, I want to move on from that. It was tough to deal with yesterday. I was really upset with myself. But definitely want to move on and keep playing basketball. But I still want to interact with my fans, as well.

Durant can defend himself all he wants on social media. Fans, even those who detest him, do enjoy the interaction.

But an anonymous-looking account defending Durant provides no joy to those fans. They don’t – or at least didn’t – know they were interacting with the famous basketball star. This is something else entirely.

And it sure looks like Durant used his secret Instagram account to clap back at fans. Via SB Nation:

Durant denying that really makes it hard to accept this as him coming clean.

Mostly, Durant just opened himself to numerous follow-up questions:

Did he really dislike the Thunder organization? Did he really dislike playing for Donovan? If yes to either question, why? If no to either question, why say that? How does lying serve the fans he’s claiming he wants to engage?

Dwight Howard changes story, blames Magic front office for bringing up firing Stan Van Gundy

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While sipping from a can of Pepsi, Stan Van Gundy calmly explained to the assembled media that Magic management told him Dwight Howard wanted the coach fired. Then, an unsuspecting Howard walked up and put his arm around Van Gundy. Van Gundy slinked away, leaving Howard to answer questions.

That 2012 press conference was an all-time great NBA moment.

Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated:

To hear Howard tell it, he has been the victim of more subtle misunderstandings than Larry David. The excruciatingly awkward press conference, when Stan Van Gundy confirmed that Howard was lobbying the Magic front office to fire him, only for an unsuspecting Howard to join Van Gundy and deny what the coach claimed? “That previous summer, the front office asked me about Stan, and I told them I thought he was losing his voice with the team. But they were the ones who said they should start looking for other coaches.”

Howard already admitted in 2014 he told the Magic he thought Van Gundy should have been fired after the 2011 playoffs. Howard even griped that Orlando didn’t listen to him!

I get that Howard is (again) trying to rehabilitate his image, but he has to do a better job of keeping his story straight.

Bulls hire Doug Collins as senior advisor

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Doug Collins burns out. Burns out his players, burns out himself. That was his reputation through 11 seasons coaching the Bulls, Pistons, Wizards and 76ers.

When Collins left Philadelphia in 2013, he declared he was done coaching. There was just too much pressure, he said.

Perhaps, Collins has found a role that better suits him.

Vincent Goodwill of CSN Chicago:

In a surprise announcement, the Chicago Bulls have brought former coach Doug Collins back into the fold, naming him a senior advisor to Executive Vice President John Paxson.

Even among NBA personnel, Collins was a basketball expert in his time. Whether he has kept up in a rapidly evolving league is an open question.

It won’t hurt having his voice in the room. It might hurt if the Bulls lean too heavily on it.

Hopefully, everyone entered this arrangement for the right reasons. Paxson played for Collins in Chicago. Collins’ son – Chris Collins – coaches nearby Northwestern. An overreliance on comfort won’t yield positive results. The Bulls need forward-thinkers, not just familiar faces. Successful executives put in a lot of work and aren’t just hanging around to be close with family.

This hire probably won’t move the needle much, but there’s certainly a chance it could – in either direction.

Dwight Howard considered retiring in 2015

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Dwight Howard missed half the 2014-15 season due to injury, and he was investigated (but not charged) for child abuse that year.

But he remained defiantly confident.

He said he planned to play another 10 years. When his Rockets lost in the playoffs, he declared he was “still a champion.”

The picture behind the scenes wasn’t quite so rosy, though.

Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated:

At a low point with the Rockets, after the 2014–15 season, he considered retiring. The jolly giant who supposedly had too much fun on the floor was miserable. “The joy,” Howard says, “was sucked out of it.” But what would retirement accomplish? He had to change his life regardless of his occupation. So he did what his teenage self would have done. He saw a pastor.

Calvin Simmons has ministered to hundreds of professional athletes in the past decade, including Adrian Peterson, so he is familiar with dramatic falls from grace. “Dwight had gone from the darling of the NBA to the black sheep,” Simmons says. “He realized he had done some things wrong and needed to change, but at the beginning he just wanted to share.”

“I saw him cleanse everything,” Simmons says, “and cut away the clutter around him, from a business manager to a security guard to all these financial people.” The sweep included his parents, whom he didn’t call for nearly two years. “That was hard,” Howard sighs. “It’s really hard to tell your parents, ‘I can’t do this anymore. I have to back away from you.’ They didn’t understand. They were very upset. But I wanted a genuine relationship with them that didn’t have anything to do with money or judgment.”

Howard’s fortunes didn’t exactly improve.

He feuded with James Harden, chafed at his role in Houston and endured public questions about why nobody likes him. Howard signed with his hometown Hawks, had a somewhat resurgent season, but again ended the year unhappy. Atlanta took major long-term salary just to dump him on the Hornets.

Howard is now a good situation in Charlotte, where the coach reveres him. This looks like Howard’s best chance of getting back on track.

But what if he doesn’t? That’s what I wonder when reading about 2015. If he nearly retired then, what happens if he doesn’t thrive with the Hornets and is faced with minimum-contract offers and small roles when he becomes a free agent at age 33 in 2019. Will he retire?

That’s obviously a ways off. For now, Howard will have every opportunity to right himself in Charlotte.