Dan Feldman

NBA: Dwight Howard got away with late shooting foul of James Harden in Hawks’ win over Rockets

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Another Dwight HowardJames Harden controversy?

At least this one is out in the open.

With the Rockets down one and a minute left in their 113-108 loss to the Hawks on Thursday — the game where Tim Hardaway Jr. went wild — Harden drove to the basket. Howard blocked his shot, and the ball went out of bounds off Harden.

But Howard got away with a shooting foul, according to the NBA’s Last Two Minute Report:

Howard (ATL) makes contact to Harden’s (HOU) face that affects his shot attempt.

A correct call would’ve meant two free throws for Harden, who’s shooting 85% from the line this season and 86% for his career.

Instead, Atlanta scored on the other end, pushing its lead to three. That made Houston far easier to defend, because the Hawks knew to protect the arc and concede shots inside — a strategy that would’ve been unavailable in a one-point game. Trevor Ariza missed a contested 3-pointer, and the Hawks added a dunk in the chaos.

Report: 76ers, Pelicans in advanced talks on Jahlil Okafor trade

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It’s nearly been half a year since 76ers general manager Bryan Colangelo said he’s “absolutely not” comfortable with centers Joel Embiid, Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor on the same roster. Since, Embiid has solidified himself as a franchise player, and Noel has repeatedly complained about his fit on the team.

Maybe Philadelphia will finally clear the logjam?

Sam Amick of USA Today:

Marc Stein of ESPN:

The biggest unknown of this deal would be protections on the first-rounder. New Orleans is tied for the NBA’s fifth-worst record. The Pelicans’ unprotected 2017 first-round pick is far more valuable than Okafor.

New Orleans could improve its standing in the trade by unloading the burdensome contracts of Omer Asik and/or Alexis Ajinca on Philadelphia, which has immense cap flexibility.

Every Pelicans move must be evaluated in relation to Anthony Davis. Would Okafor fit with Davis? Davis and New Orleans work best offensively with him at center and a stretch four next to him. That’s not Okafor in the least. But Davis has dealt with more than his fair share of injuries, and Okafor could allow Davis to take less of a pounding by playing more power forward. Davis has the defensive tools to complement Okafor’s lack of rim protection defensively, though that’d put a heavy burden on Davis to cover so much ground.

At least Okafor (21, in the second year of his rookie-scale contract) and Davis (23, in the first year of a five-year contract extension) would have time to develop together. On one level, this again looks like general manager Dell Demps trying to fast-track the Pelicans’ rebuild (and maybe keep his job). But it’s not accelerating the process at long-term expense nearly as much as other moves.

For the 76ers, this would be addition by subtraction in the short term. It’s just too difficult to keep so many talented young centers happy. In the long term, a first-round pick — again, depending on the protections — could be nice return for Okafor.

 

 

 

Former NBA player Luigi Datome misses dunk off side of backboard (video)

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After playing for the Pistons and Celtics, Luigi Datome fell out of the NBA. I wonder why.

(Yes, he drew a foul. I’m not sure how that caused such an epic missed dunk, though.)

Suns’ Devin Booker banks in buzzer-beating game-winner against Kings (video)

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Did Devin Booker call bank?

Judging by his sly grin after the Suns’ 105-103 win over the Kings, I’d guess no — but it counts just the same.

Rockets retire Yao Ming’s No. 11 jersey (video)

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HOUSTON (AP) — The first time Yao Ming ever watched an NBA game as a young boy in China, he wondered why there were jerseys hanging in the rafters.

“The cameras randomly gave a shot of the retired jerseys,” Yao said. “I slowly realized over time that’s the highest honor a player can achieve for themselves and for the team. I will always ask myself, `What is the story behind it?’ I hope people see the jersey there and remember the story. Not just myself, but my teammates, my opponents, we put a story together.”

The Rockets retired Yao’s No. 11 jersey in a halftime ceremony Friday night while hosting the Chicago Bulls.

A 7-foot-6 center from Shanghai, Yao was the top overall draft pick in 2002 and was an eight-time All-Star, playing nine seasons in Houston before retiring in 2011 because of mounting issues with injuries. He averaged 19.0 points, 9.2 rebounds and 1.9 blocks a game and was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in September.

“It was really sad for me that his career was cut so short because I think if he had been able to stay on, we would have been able to win a couple of championships,” Rockets owner Les Alexander said. “He’s a great human being and a great basketball player.”

Yao will become the sixth Rocket to have his number retired, joining Hakeem Olajuwon (No. 34), Clyde Drexler (No. 22), Moses Malone (No. 24), Calvin Murphy (No. 23) and Rudy Tomjanovich (No. 45).

Yao recalled his first home game in Houston in November 2002 when the Rockets retired Olajuwon’s jersey.

“We were sitting in the locker room and watching his speech and hearing people cheer for him, we were very motivated to hear that,” Yao said.

Reminiscing on his own times as a player, Yao said his favorite moment was when he first walked into the Compaq Center, the former home of the Rockets. He said he was taken aback when he saw his jersey with his name and number for the first time and realized it was the start of a special journey.

Along with other former Rockets standouts Olajuwon, Dikembe Mutombo and Shane Battier, Yao attended Thursday night’s game against Atlanta and received a standing ovation when he was introduced.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner declared Feb. 2 “Yao Ming Day” and welcomed Yao as the city’s goodwill ambassador, an appointment he received from former Mayor Annise Parker in 2013.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and other league officials were to attend the ceremony at the Toyota Center, which will be broadcast on NBA TV and in China on Tencent and CCTV.

“Thinking back on the years I spent here, I just think of the entire team, organization and the city as a big family,” Yao said. “I feel so welcome here, and tonight is very special to me.”