Report: Omer Asik changes course (somewhat), ready to play for Rockets

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Omer Asik, who requested a trade from the Rockets last week, has missed both of Houston’s games since his request became public.

Asik has not hidden his desire to leave the Rockets since they signed Dwight Howard and this was just taking the process a step further. Forcing a trade is not a pleasant process, and there will be messiness like this along the way.

At least we get this gem from Houston coach Kevin McHale when he explained why Asik missed the last game. CSN Houston:

When asked if Asik was under the weather, McHale slowly said, “Yes, he is under the weather.”

And Larry Sanders is out simply because of a thumb injury. This has been a great year for technically true, but completely misleading, excuses for players missing games.

McHale can reportedly stop his amusing reasoning now, though. Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle:

In the team’s daily meeting Thursday in New York, coach Kevin McHale spoke about players stepping up to contribute in any way possible after a tough overtime loss in Philadelphia in which Asik played just four minutes, according to an individual with knowledge of the meeting. Several players, particularly Pat Beverley and Chandler Parsons, spoke. At one point, McHale asked center Greg Smith if he was ready. Smith said he was, and McHale then asked Asik if he was ready to play that night.

According to the person familiar with the conversation, Asik said he would not be ready to play that night and soon met with his agent.

McHale, general manager Daryl Morey and several players have spoken with Asik in the days since the meeting, with Asik indicating he intended to return to practice.

Asik returning is best for all parties involved.

If Asik wants to get traded, he’ll need to remain in game shape and show other teams what he can do.

For the Rockets, who seem intent on trading him, Asik playing will increase his value. Plus, in the meantime, he’s a capable player who can definitely help playing behind Howard (and maybe even with Howard, though that hasn’t gone well so far this season).

Asik missing two games has made clear how far he’ll go to get a trade, and the Rockets have to recognize that. Now, it’s time for Asik to play and to give Morey a chance to find a deal.

Final minute of Celtics-Wizards featured five-possession, 10-point, no-stoppage stretch (video)

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Crunch time of a close NBA game is awesome.

It’s exponentially better when nobody calls timeout.

The Celtics and Wizards finished with a flourish tonight, Boston coming out ahead in a frenetic final minute. The last minute included two Kyrie Irving 3-pointers (one tightly contested, one extremely deep) and a sharp drive by John Wall (who had just returned to the game from an injury).

After a flow-killing foul in the final few seconds, the Celtics won, 130-25.

More games should be like this.

Jeremy Lamb hits game-winner despite Bismack Biyombo, others Hornets prematurely running on court to celebrate

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The Hornets sure were excited for Jeremy Lamb‘s game-winner against the Pistons tonight.

Too excited.

After Lamb hit a jumper to put Charlotte up two with 0.3 seconds left, several Hornets ran onto the court. Bismack Biyombo was nearly at halfcourt as Detroit tried to inbound! He was so far onto the court, I’m not even sure officials noticed him when dinging Malik Monk – closer to the bench –for the violation.

Ashley Holder:

The Pistons made a technical free throw to cut their deficit to one, but they still had to inbound from under their own basket. Their desperation pass was intercepted, and Charlotte held on for a 108-107 win.

Several Hornets were certainly relieved.

Crazily enough, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen this.

Suns’ T.J. Warren fined $15k for inappropriate language toward official following ejection (video)

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Everyone on the Suns seems frustrated.

In Phoenix’s loss to the Clippers on Monday, T.J. Warren got ejected. And his outburst will cost him extra.

NBA release:

Phoenix Suns forward T.J. Warren has been fined $15,000 for directing inappropriate language toward a game official following his ejection, it was announced today by Kiki VanDeWeghe, Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations.

This wasn’t a lengthy exchange. Warren didn’t linger on the court complaining. He must have said something extremely harsh to warrant two technical fouls and a fine that quickly.

(Despite confusion, the foul preceding the ejection was called on Deandre Ayton, not Warren.)

Pacers star Victor Oladipo returns from 11-game absence

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When the Pacers ruled Victor Oladipo out indefinitely a couple weeks ago, it seemed gloomy.

But Indiana weathered the storm, going 7-4 without its best player.

Now, Oladipo is back. He started against the Bucks tonight.

I still think the Raptors, Celtics, 76ers and Bucks will comprise the Eastern Conference’s top tier by the end of the season. But the Pacers (17-10, fourth in East) have a chance to crash the party. They acquitted themselves well without Oladipo, and it should get only easier with their offensive focal point/top perimeter defender.