Author: Brett Pollakoff

Memphis Grizzlies v Dallas Mavericks

Dirk Nowitzki pulls down 10,000th career rebound in win over Spurs (VIDEO)


Early in the fourth quarter of the Mavericks’ win over the Spurs on Tuesday, Dirk Nowitzki pulled down the 10,000th rebound of his career, and gained some elite statistical status in the process.

Nowitzki became just the 37th player in NBA history to accomplish this, and became the only player ever to pass a combination of impressive statistical thresholds.

From Tim MacMahon of ESPN Dallas:

“That’s pretty unbelievable,” said Nowitzki, who happily reported that his wife, Jessica, and baby boy are doing well. “I came here when I was 20, probably the worst 7-foot rebounder in the league at the time. I still wouldn’t say I’m a great rebounder, but I learned how to use my length some.

“There were some years where I almost averaged 10 boards. I think the closest was 9.9. I’m a little disappointed that I never averaged 10 a game. I got to be a decent rebounder. I was almost more proud than all of the points I scored.” …

There has never been another player in NBA history with at least 25,000 points, 10,000 rebounds, 1,000 blocks and 1,000 3-pointers. His career totals: 27,960 points, 10,004 rebounds, 1,123 blocks, 1,564 3s, and counting.

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Just one more reason Nowitzki is a lock for the Hall of Fame.

Kevin McHale plans to have Dwight Howard return to lineup Wednesday against Pelicans

Houston Rockets v Golden State Warriors

Dwight Howard has missed the last 26 games for the Rockets due to injury, but thanks to the brilliance of James Harden, the team has gone 17-9 without him.

If Kevin McHale gets his way, Houston won’t be without much longer.

From Jenny Dial Creech of the Houston Chronicle:

McHale says depending on how Dwight Howard feels today, he plans to play him tomorrow in New Orleans

Dwight Howard said he felt good after a practice in Indiana today. He and the staff will talk tomorrow and if he is up to it, he will play.

Coach McHale on Dwight Howard: “We plan to play him unless what we did today bothers him.”

Howard would be on a minutes restriction, but getting him reacclimated in any capacity for the final 12 games of the regular season is important for the team’s chemistry heading into the playoffs.

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The Rockets are at third place in the Western Conference standings, two up on Portland and two-and-a-half back of Memphis. Howard has averaged 16.3 points, 11 rebounds and 1.4 blocked shots this season, while playing 32.2 minutes per contest in 32 total appearances.

DeMarcus Cousins on Kings’ season: ‘It’s been a complete circus’

Memphis Grizzlies v Sacramento Kings

DeMarcus Cousins is the face of the Kings franchise, and is talented enough to be exactly that.

His attitude is another matter entirely, though it seemed to be in check under then-head coach Mike Malone as the team began the season by getting out to a better-than-expected 9-6 start.

But then, the wheels began to come off.

Cousins was forced to miss 10 games after being hospitalized with a viral infection, and when Sacramento dropped seven of nine in his absence, the organization used the slide as an excuse to fire Malone, when really, the coaching decision was more about the style of play than anything else.

There was the interim Tyrone Corbin coaching experience, which didn’t last long even though the Kings had signed him to a deal for the remainder of the season. George Karl has been installed presumably for the foreseeable future, but the Kings have slipped to the bottom of the league in terms of defense, while Karl predictably cranked up the offense to give ownership the faster pace it desired.

That’s a lot to deal with, and Cousins admits it hasn’t always been easy.

From Michael Lee of the Washington Post:

“It’s been a circus, man. It’s been a complete circus,” a flustered Cousins said, when asked to describe this season. “We got off to a hot start. Unfortunately, I got sick, so it ruined the look of the team. I take some blame for that. I know for a fact, if I wouldn’t have gotten sick, things wouldn’t have happened the way it happened. It was no way it could. At the same time, a lot of it is not my fault and we all know why. But this has been a disappointing year.” …

“I think I carry more weight than the average player,” Cousins said. “Coming in, I never was in a great situation — coming at such a young age, not really understanding the business. I came in, franchise that’s been doing bad for a long time, I came with my own baggage, some earned, some given to me or whatever.” …

“I care; I really care,” he said. “I take my job serious. I love to play the game. It ain’t about the money, not about the fame. I care. The biggest thing I can admit is I’m not perfect and I know that.”

Cousins is right that he hasn’t been perfect this season — he was caught pouting on a defensive possession where he allowed his man to score by standing completely still, and has lashed out at opposing players in frustration, just as he has in seasons past.

But this is more about a Kings organization that continues to make dysfunctional decisions than it is on Cousins to singlehandedly attempt to turn things around.

Marreese Speights: Warriors knew Wizards ‘would start arguing with each other and quit’

Marreese Speights

The Warriors destroyed the Wizards on Monday, even more than they usually crush opponents at home, which has been by an astonishing 17.2 points per 100 possessions.

The league’s top defense held Washington to just eight — EIGHT — third quarter points, on 1-of-18 shooting on the way to a victory whose final margin was 31 points.

And according to one of the Warriors players, they knew the Wizards would fold if they could make things even a little bit difficult on them defensively.

From Ben Standig of CSN Washington:

According to Golden State reserve center center Marreese Speights, the Warriors believed strong defense would actually fracture the Wizards.

“We just turned up a little,” Speights said of Golden State’s defense to reporters following the win. “We knew if we hit them, if we got a couple stops they would start arguing with each other and quit. We went out there with a good mindset in the second half and we did it.” …

“It’s a troubling trend that we’ve had for the last 20, 25 games,” Wizards coach Randy Wittman said. “We play one good half and just the exact opposite, awful, one half to the other. “

The Wizards are a lock to make the postseason, but have been extremely inconsistent since the All-Star break. While there’s no shame in losing to the league’s best home team, the perception that it’s easy to break Washington’s spirit is something the team will want to fix before the playoffs begin — especially because as of right now, the Wizards are staring at a first round matchup with the always difficult Bulls.

Roy Hibbert on Pacers’ defensive struggles: ‘I think that sometimes we take the easy way out’

Miami Heat v Indiana Pacers - Game 5

James Harden torched the Pacers for 44 points in Houston’s Monday night victory, and while it was the eighth time he’s dropped more than 40 on someone this season, it was the continuation of an ongoing struggle for the Pacers.

The loss was Indiana’s sixth straight, and for a team that’s built its identity on the defensive end of the floor in recent seasons, that’s where the problems currently lie — ones Harden was simply able to further expose.

Roy Hibbert is the team’s anchor defensively, and gave some honest answers after this one about what exactly needs to be fixed.

From Candace Buckner of the Indianapolis Star:

[T]he Pacers are sliding because their defense is declining. On Saturday, they allowed the Brooklyn Nets to hit a 61.3 field-goal accuracy, the highest allowed by a Pacers team ever. The past five games, four opponents have reached the 100-point mark and over that stretch, the Pacers have averaged 22.2 personal fouls per game, seventh highest among their peers.

“I’m going to give you a real answer, not a (B.S.) answer,” Roy Hibbert said, before offering his opinion on what has been ailing the defense. “I think that sometimes we take the easy way out.

“In the years past, we’ve been able to earn no calls and get stops,” Hibbert continued, “and I think the easier way out has been to foul, myself included. I haven’t done a good job guarding my own man and sometimes my help rotation is not as good as it has been. Sometimes we foul and that’s what’s leading the guys to shoot a lot of free throws.”

Indiana is just a game out of the final playoff spot in the East, but it’s a crowded race that sees four teams separated by just a game-and-a-half in the standings.

The return of Paul George may be coming, which would certainly be a plus. But if the defensive cohesiveness doesn’t return as well, it’ll hardly make a difference.