Tag: Dwight Howard

NBA: Playoffs-Brooklyn Nets at Toronto Raptors

Friday NBA playoff previews: Can Wizards take 3-0 lead on Bulls?


Three games on tap for Friday night, including the 4-5 series from each conference, which has been interesting.

Toronto Raptors at Brooklyn Nets (Series tied 1-1): The Raptors evened the series with a Game 2 victory that saw DeMar DeRozan explode for 30 points, while Paul Pierce and Deron Williams struggled to shoot a combined 7-of-26 from the field — and yet, Brooklyn was down by just two with 18 seconds left.

DeRozan didn’t exactly go LaMarcus Aldridge on the Nets, as he was just 9-of-21 from the field. But he was aggressive in getting to the line for 14 free throw attempts, so the Nets will need to work on containing him on the perimeter, even though he was uncharacteristically efficient from midrange, where hie hit six of his nine attempts.

This feels like the Nets’ series to lose, but they’ll need to get more traditional performances out of Pierce, Williams and Joe Johnson (or at least from one of them) in order to fulfill that destiny.
—Brett Pollakoff

Chicago Bulls at Washington Wizards (Wizards lead, 2-0): What’s at stake? Oh, just Chicago’s last realistic chance to get into this series and the Wizards’ exhilarating momentum.

The Bulls haven’t lost four straight (they lost their regular-season finale) since trading Luol Deng. The Wizards haven’t won seven straight (they won their final four regular-season games) since January — of 2005. Both would happen with a Washington win tonight. If Chicago wins, the series would be as close as possible through three games and anyone’s for the taking.
—Dan Feldman

Houston Rockets at Portland Trail Blazers (Trail Blazers lead, 2-0): This series features the two biggest risers in regular-season scoring average to postseason scoring average — LaMarcus Aldridge (23.2 points per game to 44.5) and Dwight Howard (18.3 to 29.5). However, unlike Howard with the Rockets, Aldridge really moves the needle for the Trail Blazers. Portland scores 120.3 points per 100 possessions with Aldridge and 81.5 without him — the difference between the best- and worst-scoring teams of all time. Houston, on the other hand, has an offensive rating of 104.4 with Howard and 101.0 without him.

Down 2-0 and headed on the road, the Rockets have full responsibility to figure out how to better blend Howard into their offense and harass Aldridge in the mid-range.
—Dan Feldman

Oscar Robertson says if he were Carmelo Anthony “I would leave today”

Washington Wizards v New York Knicks

Everyone has advice for Carmelo Anthony right now.

Which I’m sure is exactly what he needs.

A handful of those people may have some perspective for ‘Melo to lean on, guys who were in the league and faced choices and learned lessons. Like maybe Oscar Robertson.

The Hall of Famer will be on SiriusXM NBA Radio show, “Spike Lee’s Best Seat in the House,” which airs Thursday night at 7 p.m. ET, and as you might expect the hard core Knicks fan Lee asked Robertson about Anthony… and may not have gotten the answer he hoped for.

Oscar Robertson: “I would leave today. … Let me tell you why. Wherever that kid has gone, when he was at Denver, they had a team that fooled around with the ball, fooled around with the ball, then all of the sudden when they needed a basket, threw it to Carmelo. Then, when he shot the ball, they said he shot too much. Then when he didn’t shoot they said he didn’t shoot enough. No matter what he does in New York they’re going to criticize him, the people are going to criticize him, because you got guys on that team (the Knicks) that cannot play. You got guys that are hurt all the time…”

Spike: “Yeah but, O, that’s why we got Phil Jackson, to clean this mess up.”

Robertson: “Let me ask you: When was the last time Phil Jackson played? … I think Phil is great to have gotten $12 million out of [Knicks owner Jim Dolan]. Super job. Take the money and run. If I were Carmelo I would say, ‘Listen, I’m not gonna stay here and take all this gruff and all this criticism. You got other guys on this team making $12, $15, $16 million and doing nothing, and here I am averaging 28, 29 points per game.’”

That’s one perspective. Robertson says Anthony should take a paycut to play for the Rockets.

Anthony wants to be recruited first — “the full Dwight Howard treatment” — and he wants the ego stroke that comes with a lot of teams coming to him and telling how he is needed and wanted. He has earned that right. But that is different from what helps him make a good decision.

Anthony needs to decide what really matters the most to him. Is it the money? Is it being a Knick and leading that franchise? Is it being “the man” on a team? Is it winning? You can want a mix of all those things, but Anthony has to be honest with himself and figure out which of those is most important, what is the one that really matters.

Once he knows what he really wants the rest of it falls in line pretty quickly, so long as he is willing to make some sacrifices on the other areas.

LaMarcus Aldridge, Dwight Howard had a duel (VIDEO)

LaMarcus Aldridge, Dwight Howard, Terrence Jones
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Dwight Howard said before the game he wanted the ball — he got it and attacked in the first half, scoring 25 points and getting to the rim. He was a beast.

But he lost the duel and the game to LaMarcus Aldridge and the Blazers.

Aldridge got some buckets inside but was 13-of-19 from the midrange and destroyed the Rockets with his jumpers and spacing of the floor. Aldridge has 89 points in two games this series and Houston just seems to have no answer for the guy who is the best all around power forward in the game today.

LaMarcus Aldridge ruining Dwight Howard’s chance at redemption

Dwight Howard, LaMarcus Aldridge

With his feet held to the fire, Dwight Howard brought the heat.

It took only one playoff game with the Houston Rockets for Howard’s detractors to come out in full force. He lacked the maturity and focus to win in the postseason, they shouted from all directions. But if Howard thought he could escape the spotlight by bolting Los Angeles for Houston, he was sadly mistaken.

Right now, though, Howard and his Rockets have a bigger problem to escape – LaMarcus Aldridge.

Aldridge coolly dismantled the Rockets. Again.

The Trail Blazers forward scored 43 points with eight rebounds and three blocks in Portland’s 112-105 Game 2 win Wednesday.

In two games, Aldridge has 89 points, 26 rebounds and five blocks. More importantly, the Trail Blazers have two wins in Houston.

Teams that open a best-of-seven series with two road wins have won 15 of 18, including sweeping half of them. With Portland rolling, having won seven straight and 11 of 12 dating back to the regular season, this series could join the quick enders.

Howard has lost his last seven and 11 of 13 playoff games, and for him, the doubters will grow only louder. Not even ultra-focused and effective starts will save him.

“We have to play inside out, play their bigs and make it a long night for those guys,” Howard told Jonathan Feigen of Ultimate Rockets before the game. “I have to demand the ball, get it and go to work.”

And he did.

Howard made his first six shots to notch Houston’s first 13 points, outscored the Trail Blazers by himself through the game’s first four minutes and was singlehandedly matching his teammates’ combined scoring  as late as three minutes remaining in the first half.

By halftime, he had 25 points, eight rebounds and two blocks.

His second-half production (seven points, six rebounds and two blocks) would be great for most players, but Howard isn’t most players. His physical talents lend themselves to the perception he should be more dominant – which a petty Shaquille O’Neal perpetuates during halftimes – and more is demanded of him.

Sometimes, that’s fair. Howard failed to pass out of double teams Wednesday, and his individual success remained isolated from team success. Howard’s teammates shot just 37 percent while he was on the court, and when he went cold (missing seven straight shots at one point), he still didn’t integrate his teammates well enough.

But sometimes, the demands on Howard reach unhealthy levels. He said he’d do more in Game 2, and he absolutely did. There are limits on what one player can contribute. Even if Howard didn’t perfectly parlay the attention he received into better looks for his teammates, James Harden (6-of-19 shooting) and Chandler Parsons (5-of-15 shooting) are certainly capable of doing more without their center’s help.

Not that anyone will forgive Howard for the shortcomings of his teammates. Howard’s playoff record is treated as his own although we all know postseason success requires a full team effort.

In a twist, Aldridge gets all the benefit of the doubt Howard doesn’t. Aldridge’s 46 points and 18 rebounds in a Game 1 victory gave him leeway Howard will never receive.

But Aldridge – who has never won a playoff series, let alone led a team to the NBA finals like Howard did the Magic – didn’t rest on his laurels.

He became the first player with consecutive 40-point playoff games since LeBron James in 2009 and just the second since Tracy McGrady in 2003.

Aldridge knifed through the Rockets’ defense off the ball and used expert footwork on the ball to create space, shooting 13-of-19 from mid-range.

aldridge shot chart 4-23-14

To be fair, Aldridge received help Howard didn’t.

Dorell Wright made 3-of-4 3-pointers and added a slick cutting dunk for 15 points on five shots. Damian Lillard shot just 3-for-14, but he got the line (10-of-12 on free throws) and kept the ball moving to the right spots (11 assists).

Howard vs. Aldridge was a tantalizingly fun matchup, and Rockets-Blazers is too. If not for a couple different breaks in an overtime game Sunday, the series could be tied 1-1. Heck, Houston wasn’t that far from winning Game 2.

But in Howard’s world, close doesn’t cut it. Only Aldridge’s.

Not that he needs the margin for error.

Phil Jackson wants Carmelo Anthony to take less money to re-sign with Knicks

Phil Jackson, James Dolan, executive chairman of the Madison Square Garden Company

Replacing Mike Woodson as head coach was an easy and obvious first (major) move for Phil Jackson to make in his new position as president of basketball operations with the New York Knicks.

But for the one the franchise needs him to make next, the level of difficulty will increase significantly.

Carmelo Anthony will opt out of the final year of his deal to become an unrestricted free agent, and he’ll be touring teams to hear their sales pitches in much the same way we saw Dwight Howard go about things last summer.

Although he can make the most money by re-signing with the Knicks — a difference of more than $30 million and an additional season on the new contract — Jackson hopes to persuade Anthony to come back for less.

From Ian Begley of ESPN New York:

“I think [there is] a precedent that’s been set,” Jackson said of stars taking less money to join or remain with contending teams. “Because the way things have been structured now financially for teams is that it’s really hard to have one or two top stars or max players, and to put together a team with enough talent, you’ve got to have people making sacrifices financially.

“So we hope that Carmelo is true to his word and we understand what it’s going to take, and we will present that to him at that time.” …

Anthony suggested in February that he’d be open to signing a contract for less than the maximum allotment.

If Anthony wants to win in the immediate future, there are places like Chicago and Houston that present extremely enticing opportunities to do that. (The Rockets aren’t in position to sign Anthony to a four-year max at the moment, but it’s believed they could get there quickly if that scenario presented itself.)

If Anthony is all about the money, he’ll re-sign in new York for the five-year max that the team would almost certainly offer.

But he can definitely land somewhere in between by taking less than that, while giving the Knicks some dollars to use to lure another All Star in free agency. The problem is, that can’t happen until a year from now in part because of the horrific contracts of Amar’e Stoudemire and Andrea Bargnani that don’t come off the books until next summer.

Anthony’s decision will show us where his true priorities lie.