Dwight Howard hears boos, “Kobe” chants at Philippines game

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Kobe Bryant’s fans are passionate, blindingly loyal, defend their guy like a pit bull — and they are everywhere.

Including the Philippines.

Dwight Howard and the Rockets were in the Philippines for the first NBA game ever there — a preseason game in Manila that wrapped up before you woke up Thursday. By the way the Rockets jumped out to a 12-0 lead in and never trailed in beating the Indiana Pacers (the interesting on court note from  that game is you have to wonder if Patrick Beverly is beating out Jeremy Lin as the starting point guard spot for Houston).

Anyway, the Mall of Asia arena had a bunch of Kobe fans in it — I wasn’t kidding, they are everywhere — and they let Howard hear it, reports interaksyon.com:

During the Rockets’ preseason game on Thursday night against the Indiana Pacers, Howard was on the receiving end of some boos from the crowd at the Mall of Asia Arena.

There were also scattered chants of “Kobe! Kobe!” in reference to Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant, with whom Howard had a clash of personality during his one season stint in Los Angeles.

In the third quarter the crowd even gave Howard a Bronx cheer when he made a free throw. Houston fans may be doing that by Christmas.

Kobe has made multiple trips to the Philippines in the past on his summer Nike tours — the man has worked hard to build up his fan base in Asia. Those fans are like stateside Kobe fans in their passion and loyalty to the man — things Howard did not display in LA. Therefore, in the black and white world of Kobe fans, he is evil. Sad but true.

Howard should get used to this, he will get booed in Los Angeles this season, as well as some other stops as he has annoyed people everywhere with his two years of drama.

But the Philippines are the same as everywhere in another sense — win a title and Howard will shut up the boos and come back a conquering hero.

Just how Kobe turned those his boos around.

Report: Suns to waive Austin Rivers, who becomes unrestricted free agent

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The Phoenix Suns need a ball handling guard to go next to Devin Booker, so when they picked up Austin Rivers as part of the Trevor Ariza trade with Washington it made some sense. Rivers is a below replacement level NBA player (who has been serviceable the past couple of seasons), but that’s an upgrade over what the Suns had.

Except Rivers didn’t want to be part of the rebuild in Phoenix. In an unusual and unexpected move, the Suns have agreed to waive him, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

It’s an odd move on a few levels. Why didn’t Rivers want to stay in a place the ball would be in his hands more, giving himself a chance to build up his value before free agency next summer? Why didn’t the Suns first try to shop him around and offer to take on another team’s bad/dead contract if they got a pick or other asset? (Rivers can’t be packaged with another player in a trade but he can be moved straight up.)

Finally, how much demand is there among good teams for Rivers, even on a minimum contract?

Rivers, the son of Clippers’ coach Doc Rivers, is in his seventh NBA season. Rivers is averaging 7.2 points per game on 39.2 percent shooting this season.

It’s an odd move. Without Rivers Suns will keep leaning on rookie De'Anthony Melton as a potential future backcourt mate with Booker and hope he develops into something.

Bulls’ Kris Dunn shoves Russell Westbrook, scuffle breaks out (VIDEO)

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Russell Westbrook has a way of getting under an opponent’s skin.

Monday night it was the Bulls’ Kris Dunn‘s turn.

While moving over in position on the strong side, Westbrook and Dunn made contact, and after the whistle blew for a foul (with the ball handler), Westbrook made a grand gesture of pushing Dunn off him. Dunn responded with an outsized shove. And then it was on.

There’s more stuff to break down here than the Zapruder film.

• Jeremi Grant of the Thunder came in and tried to go at Dunn a little, in front of Westbrook (protect the star).

Bobby Portis tried to slide Grant out of the way, but…

Robin Lopez came in and went at Grant getting in his face, so Grant basically throws Lopez into the first row.

• Which just made Lopez even madder, leading to a meme-worthy angry face.

• Bulls’ coach Jim Boylen gets Grant in a headlock and pulls him out of the situation.

Steven Adams calmly makes sure Portis is out of the picture, then walks back over to Lopez and then Adams and Lopez get separated.

• In the end, the officials handed out for technicals: Westbrook, Dunn, Grant, and Lopez.

A few minutes later, Lopez blocked a Grant shot, decided to taunt him, and that got Lopez a second technical and he was tossed (Lopez is a veteran, he has to know the officials are going to call everything tight at that point). Watch Adams pat Lopez on the back as the Bulls’ big man makes the walk to the locker room.

James Harden scores 47, including sinking dagger into Jazz (VIDEO)

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Utah and Houston met in a battle of the disappointing early season Western teams — predicted by most to finish 2/3 in the West, they came into the night 10th and 13th — and in the tight West these kinds of games matter.

So James Harden turned it up a notch.

The reigning MVP looked every bit that guys scoring 47 points and adding six rebounds, five assists, and five steals in what was a Houston win, 102-97. It was Harden that sank the dagger into Utah.

That’s four wins in a row for Houston as they try to climb out of the hole they dug themselves early this season.

Taj Gibson helps defend drive with one shoe on, one shoe in his hand (VIDEO)

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In the first quarter Monday night, Timberwolves veteran Taj Gibson was working in the post on the Kings’ Nemanja Bjelica, Gibson got the bucket but lost his shoe.

He picked it up, ran to the other end with one shoe in hand, and then defended a Bjelica drive well enough that Karl-Anthony Towns would come over and get the block on the play.

Somehow, Tom Thibodeau is going to get credit for this new defensive style.