Kurt Helin

Dwight Howard, Dan Crawford, Blake Griffin

Dwight Howard ejected from Rockets’ ugly loss to Clippers (VIDEO)

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LOS ANGELES — Not much went right for Dwight Howard on Sunday night.

He picked up two fouls in 3:40 of the first quarter and spent the rest of that quarter on the bench. He picked up a third in the second quarter (and a technical foul), and by the time he picked up the next couple in the third the Clippers had been blown the game wide open.

Then early in the fourth Howard picked up a sixth foul for a bump on Blake Griffin in transition. In frustration he threw the ball at the referees feet (and may have said something as well).

He got a quick second technical and was tossed. He was gone anyway with the sixth foul.

“It’s frustrating,” Howard said after the game of his foul trouble. “I’m emotional playing in the playoffs, I want to win so bad, you know it’s frustrating. I just have to keep a more even keel.”

At least he didn’t have to hang around and watch the painful fourth quarter of a 128-95 Clippers wins. Rockets’ fans wish they didn’t have to watch it, either.

Austin Rivers show continues in LA, he scores over Dwight Howard (VIDEO)

Austin Rivers
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LOS ANGELES — This was my favorite line on twitter after the above play.

Austin Rivers continues to put on a show against the defenseless Rockets, and that includes crossing over Pablo Prigioni and scoring over Dwight Howard.

He is just fun to watch right now and playing with so much more confidence than every before in the NBA.

LeBron James rolls ankle when Derrick Rose takes charge, Mark Cuban calls for charge rule change

Cleveland Cavaliers at Chicago Bulls
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In the end, it didn’t stop LeBron James. He still called his own number then hit the game-winning jumper from the corner.

But near the end of the second quarter LeBron sprained his ankle when Derrick Rose stepped in to take a charge in transition.

“I rolled it pretty good,” LeBron said after the game. “I haven’t had an opportunity to see the replay, but I know I rolled it pretty good when I stepped on D-Rose’s foot in transition. I wasn’t coming out. I felt it on the floor for a while, and I just took my time. I was not coming out not only because of the position our team was in but because of who I am as the leader of the team. I was going to fight through it no matter what.”

I’d have ruled that a block. Bulls’ fans no doubt see it differently.

But should those kinds of step-in charges even be in the game? Mavericks’ owner Mark Cuban says no.

I don’t know if this is as pressing as looking at whether divisions should still exist, or if hack-a-whoever should be banned (it should if you ask me), but it’s a topic worth discussing.

Zach Randolph too big, too strong, too good for Warriors to stop (VIDEO)

Golden State Warriors v Memphis Grizzlies - Game Three
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All through Game 3 Saturday it seemed like Memphis’ big men could get the ball wherever they wanted, which usually meant deep in the post. Combine that positioning with guys like Festus Ezeli being asked to stop Zach Randolph for stretches, and you end up with Z-Bo scoring a team-high 22 points on 9-of-15 shooting.

Randolph had the kind of big game the Grizzlies need from him this series. He hit shots close to the basket but also was 4-of-4 from the right side midrange.

He’s a problem the Warriors don’t quite know how to solve yet. They need to figure it out — and start hitting the looks they get as well — quickly, or we are going to all have to listen to Charles Barkley say “you can’t win shooting jump shots” for another year.

Jimmy Butler reiterates he intends to remain with Bulls this summer

Jimmy Butler, Iman Shumpert
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This is nothing new — Jimmy Butler has said before he has no intention of trying to leave Chicago as a restricted free agent this summer. The Bulls are reportedly going to offer him a max contract.

But the dreams of other teams’ fans — and a few front offices — will not die easily. You can be sure some other teams will reach out and try to make a max offer to Butler (the Bulls just have the right to match). The question is will he sign any of those offers and put the Bulls on the clock? Maybe, if the franchise changes coaches, he would think about…

Nah.

Butler told Jeff Zillgitt of the USA Today he plans to remain a Bull.

“This is a place for me. I love playing with the guys that we have,” he said. “They continue to bring in great, high character guys that fit the team role. I love it here. I’m happy to be here.”

 

One other theme you will hear about Butler is he bet on himself and won. He could have signed with the Bulls for four-years, $42 million last summer but rejected the offer thinking he could get more this season. He will, he’s going to get four years, more than $60 million.

But Butler has a good perspective on that bet.

“Do I feel like I won the bet? It’s a tie. I think we both won,” Butler said. “I did my job and what I was supposed to do, and I think they are happy with where I am right now.”

They are. They would not be up 2-1 on the Cavaliers heading into a key game Sunday without his Most Improved Play this year.

But nobody won like Butler.