Five Things We Learned in NBA Wednesday: Kevin Love seems to be fitting in just fine suddenly

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If you watch closely every night in the NBA you can learn a little something. We know you are busy and can’t keep up with every game, so we’re here to help with those lessons from another night in the Association. Here’s what you missed while getting Waffle House food delivered to your door

1) Kevin Love looks like he fits just fine; Cleveland routs another team from the West. Tell me again how Kevin Love isn’t going to fit in with the Cavaliers. He fit like a perfect puzzle piece on Wednesday night — 22 points on 10-of-13 shooting, plus grabbing 10 rebounds. Oh, and he did a quality job defensively on Marc Gasol, which was key to Cleveland picking up maybe their most impressive win of the season, easily handling the Memphis Grizzlies 111-89. You don’t want to read too much into one regular season game, but the Cavaliers looked like contenders and Love looked like a guy finding his spots in the offense. Love’s versatility was on full display as he scored inside, hit threes from the left side of the court and caused trouble wherever he was on the court.

2) George Hill hits game winner against questionable Wizards defense. Indiana was down 10 points midway through the fourth quarter against the Wizards and came back to force overtime. In OT, the Pacers had the ball and the chance to win, they isolated George Hill and…

Wow, that was easy. Too easy. Remember the Warriors Mo Speights said they knew the Wizards would quit if they got punched in the mouth, this seems video evidence of that. It was a complete breakdown defensively — after the game coach Randy Whittman said the Wizards were supposed to trap the ball right when Hill first caught it. They didn’t. Nene got burned off that pseudo pick. But Whittman didn’t have Marcin Gortat in the game for that final play to protect the rim. Why? It’s all just very Wizards.

3) DeAndre Jordan was dunking all over the Knicks. The Clippers big man didn’t get to compete in the Dunk Contest when the All-Star Game came to New York this February. So Wednesday night he decided to put on a dunking exhibition all of the Knicks to show fans what they missed. (Yes, I know the Dunk Contest took place at the Barclays Center, work with me here.)

4) Dwight Howard is back, that didn’t slow James Harden one bit. Dwight Howard was back on the court for the Rockets Wednesday, something they will need come the playoffs. But he was being eased back in, playing four-minute spurts at the start of each quarter, finishing with four points and grabbing seven boards. He was not changing the game. That was left to James Harden, who had another impressive game of 25 points and 10 boards as the Rockets hung on for a 95-93 win over the Pelicans. (New Orleans closed the game on a 12-3 and made it interesting, Anthony Davis finished with 24 and 14). Houston just keeps on winning.

5) Lionel Messi, rest of Argentinian national soccer team, show up to support Luis Scola. The most famous athlete in the world — sorry LeBron, that’s Lionel Messi — was in attendance in Washington to watch the Pacers take on the Wizards. Why? Luis Scola, why else? Either way he got to see an entertaining finish.

Bulls’ starting point guard Kris Dunn may be out for season with knee injury

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Bulls starting point guard Kris Dunn missed the last four games before the All-Star break with a sprained knee.

He could miss a lot more — like the rest of the season.

From K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago:

But sources said there’s a growing belief that Dunn will miss the remainder of the season with the injury, which occurred when Thaddeus Young took a charge and inadvertently crashed into Dunn’s knee on the first possession of a Jan. 31 road game against the Nets. When Dunn suffered a similar injury last season, he missed 23 games…

“Dunn still has some swelling in that knee,” coach Jim Boylen said before the Bulls lost to the Wizards on Feb. 11 in Washington, their final game before the break. “Once his swelling goes down, he will get re-scanned and re-evaluated.  But he had a lot of swelling.”

That’s less than ideal for Dunn as he heads into restricted free agency. He has averaged 7.3 points and  3.6 rebounds per game, however, his most significant contribution has been quality defense for Chicago this season.

This is the latest in a string of injuries for the Bulls. Otto Porter has only played nine games due to a broken foot. Big men Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr. are currently sidelined due to injuries, although Carter could return after the All-Star break and Markkanen by early next month. Now Dunn.

Rui Hachimura gets destroyed by kid in Pop-A-Shot-like game (video)

Wizards rookie Rui Hachimura
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Rui Hachimura got kicked so hard in the groin by a teammate, the Wizards rookie needed surgery.

That’s pretty awful. Yet, there’s still a new contender for the worst moment of Hachimura’s season.

At All-Star Weekend in Chicago for Rising Stars, Hachimura faced a kid in a Pop-A-Shot-like game. It didn’t go well for Hachimura.

Kristian Winfield of the New York Daily News:

An NBA player losing to a kid is bad enough. Twice, we’re entering troubling territory.

But claiming the game is cheating, demanding to switch sides and still getting routed?

That’s a ROUGH look.

Orlando Magic to build new practice/health facility

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Last week, before the NBA world headed off to Chicago for the 2020 NBA All-Star Weekend, the Orlando City Council voted to approve the sale of a plot of land to the Orlando Magic.

That land, located between the Amway Center (home of the Magic) and Exploria Stadium (home of Major League Soccer’s Orlando City Soccer Club) will become the site of the Magic’s new practice facility. The building will also house a community health center an orthopedic center. The Magic hope to have the facility ready in time for the 2021-22 NBA season.

When the Magic moved into the Amway Center in 2010, it was a state-of-the-art building. Not only is the Amway Center the home of the Magic for games, it’s the center of their entire basketball operation. The backside of the building is entirely dedicated to the Magic practice facility, including weight room, therapy and training space, and offices for the basketball staff.

The challenge with this setup is that there is little to no room to expand. For example, there is just one full court, as was seen during the Orlando Summer League, which ran from the building’s opening through 2017. In addition, there are two shorter courts, which run horizontally across the main court.

Magic CEO Alex Martins said the Magic and AdventHealth (who will run the community health center and orthopedic center) “will build a world-class practice and health facility”. Martins and Magic President of Basketball Operations, Jeff Weltman, have toured other facilities around the NBA to gain insights and ideas in what Orlando should be looking for in a new facility.

The new building is expected to include at least two full courts, and likely additional baskets for drills and shooting work. In addition, as NBA teams invest more in health and physical science, the new facility will have space for equipment related to those advances as well. That type of addition to a facility allows a team to keep all of it basketball training and medical rehabilitation all under one roof.

When Kevin Durant signed with the Brooklyn Nets, he commented that one reason was the Nets practice and training facility. Multiple players have commented that Brooklyn went all out when building the facility and regularly uses it as a recruitment tool in free agency. While facing a lengthy rehab from a torn Achilles’, Durant is able to work out and get treatment in the same building as his active teammates. In recent years, the Philadelphia 76ers, Indiana Pacers, Milwaukee Bucks, and others have upgraded their facilities.

NBA players desire simplicity when off the court. By keeping medical and practice facilities in the same building, it allows for them to go to one location. Where the Magic will build their new facility is right around the corner from the Amway Center, which allows players to commute to the same general vicinity as they do today.

The Orlando Magic already have some built in advantages when it comes to recruiting players. Central Florida has beautiful weather year-round, there is no state income tax, plus there are major players in the entertainment business and a growing technology sector in the Orlando area.

The Magic have used those benefits in the past to lure free agents like Grant Hill and Tracy McGrady. Adding a shiny new practice facility to the list, just as a banner crop of free agents hits the market, is something Orlando hopes can get it back in the superstar mix once again.

Report: Villanova coach Jay Wright not reciprocating Knicks’ interest

Villanova coach Jay Wright, rumored Knicks target
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A report of the Knicks being interested in Jay Wright and Wright emphasizing his happiness at Villanova.

Let’s do it again.

Adam Zagoria of Forbes:

League sources say Villanova coach Jay Wright could become the next head coach of the Knicks.

“There is a strong possibility that Jay Wright in New York could happen,” one league source said.

Dana O’Neil of The Athletic:

The Knicks are reportedly hiring Leon Rose to run their front office. Presumably, he’ll choose New York’s next coach.

Despite the Knicks’ denial, Steve Stoute let the cat out off the bag: The Knicks aren’t keeping interim coach Mike Miller. Perhaps, Miller can rally late in the season and change their minds. But it seems unlikely.

So, we’re in a limbo period where many candidates will emerge. Getting reported as a possibility is a great way for a coach to get publicity and maybe even gain leverage in contract negotiations at a current job. It can be difficult to tell which rumors are real.

But when a credible reporter like O’Neil states something with such certainty and attributes it to only a single source, that carries major weight.