Rumor: Dwight Howard unhappy taking backseat to James Harden with Rockets

AP
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James Harden‘s teammates reportedly complained about his play and aloofness during a players-only meeting.

Was one of the critics Dwight Howard?

Chris Sheridan of Sheridan Hoops:

Dwight Howard is extremely unhappy in Houston playing second fiddle to alpha dog James Harden, multiple league sources tell SheridanHoops.com.

Sheridan is hit or miss. He was ahead of the game on LeBron James returning to the Cavaliers and completely whiffed on a mystery coach getting fired last May. Sheridan doesn’t have a high enough accuracy rate, but he has also developed many great sources in his years covering the NBA. Take this report in that context.

Circumstantially, it makes some sense.

The Rockets are 12-13, and that type of losing creates problems and brings festering ones to the surface.

Howard ranks fifth on the team in shots per game – behind Harden, Trevor Ariza, Marcus Thornton and Terrence Jones. At age 30, Howard might not be capable of carrying a huge load, but that doesn’t mean he thinks that way. Earlier this year, he said he believes he’s the NBA’s best player.

It’s not easy for anyone who has played at Howard’s level to defer to a teammate. Howard would probably do it to win – after all, Harden was already in Houston when Howard signed – but the Rockets aren’t winning.

Howard can opt out this summer, and Houston already has a viable replacement starting centerClint Capela, who’s nine years younger than Howard. Both factors nudge the needle toward a trade. Howard being unhappy would push it even further.

Rockets general manager Daryl Morey has called working with the current roster a priority over trading, but if Howard is this unhappy, something has to give.

The Rockets could play better, and I bet Howard’s attitude changes. But if they continue to struggle, it’s difficult to see Howard becoming more pleased with his situation – however he feels about it now.

Timberwolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns out 4-6 weeks with calf strain

Minnesota Timberwolves v Washington Wizards
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It’s not good news, but it looked like it could have been much worse.

Timberwolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns is out for weeks with a right calf strain, the team announced Tuesday following an MRI exam. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reports it is likely 4-6 weeks.

The injury occurred midway through the third quarter Monday when Towns started to run back upcourt and went to the ground without contact, grabbing his knee and calf. It looked scary — Achilles scary — and he had to be helped off the court.

Towns has averaged 21.4 points and 8.5 rebounds a game, and while his numbers are down this season — just 32.8% on 3-pointers — the team has struggled at times without him, particularly lineups with Rudy Gobert and Anthony Edwards together, an -11.8 net rating (in non-garbage time minutes, via Cleaning the Glass).

Kevin Durant on chasing MVP: ‘Not really, I’ve been there, done that’

Orlando Magic v Brooklyn Nets
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Kevin Durant carried the Nets to another win Monday night, scoring 45 points on 19-of-24 shooting, plus seven rebounds and five assists.

If you’re having an MVP conversation a quarter of the way into the NBA season, Durant has to be part of it: 30 points per game on 54.8% shooting (and a ridiculous 65.9 true shooting percentage), 6.6 rebounds and 5.5 assists a game, plus playing solid defense and being the anchor of the Nets. After his 45-point outing to get Brooklyn a win over Orlando, Durant was asked about MVP chants and the chase for the award and was clearly not interested.

Durant has MVP numbers, but so do Stephen Curry, Luka Doncic, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jayson Tatum and others. If Durant is going to move to the front of the conversation, the first thing that has to happen is Brooklyn has to win a lot more games — 11-11 is not going to cut it when Tatum’s Celtics and Antetokounmpo’s Bucks have the two best records in the NBA. Winning games and finishing on a top-three team in the conference matters to some voters (and traditionally is one measure of an MVP).

Watch Herb Jones inbound off Pokusevski’s back, seal win for Pelicans

Oklahoma City Thunder v New Orleans Pelicans
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With 2.3 seconds left in the game and the Thunder down 2, they needed to steal the inbounds pass from New Orleans to have a real chance. That’s why when Aleksej Pokusevski walked on the court it looked like he was going to guard the inbounder, Herbert Jones.

Instead, Pokusevski turned his back to Jones, putting himself in position to step in front of anyone cutting to the ball to catch the inbounds. Except, Jones made the clever play to seal the game.

Pokusevski fouled Jones, who sank both free throws and sealed the 105-101 Pelicans win.

The Pelicans got 23-8-8 from Zion Williamson and picked up a win without CJ McCollum or Brandon Ingram in the lineup. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander continued his dominant start to the season and scored 31.

Watch Lakers fan drain half-court shot to win $75,000

Indiana Pacers v Los Angeles Lakers
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It might have been the loudest the crypto.com Arena was all night.

Between the third and fourth quarters, Lakers fan Jamie Murry of Downey won $75,000 draining a half-court shot — and he got to celebrate with Anthony Davis.

Murry’s celebration is the best part — with Anthony Davis coming out to celebrate with him (and seeming a little shocked by the hug).

One other big shot fell at this game, but Lakers’ fans didn’t like it as much — Pacers’ rookie Andrew Nembhard drained a game-winning 3-pointer as time expired.