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Report: Rockets interview Rex Kalamian, Stephen Silas, Jeff Bzdelik

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Mike D’Antoni is reportedly “a frontrunner” to become the Rockets’ next coach.

But they’re still conducting interviews.

Marc Stein and Calvin Watkins of ESPN:

The Houston Rockets were in the process Thursday of conducting ‎three more interviews for their head-coaching vacancy, but signs continue to point strongly to the team hiring Mike D’Antoni as their next coach, according to league sources.

Sources told ESPN.com that Rockets owner Leslie Alexander and general manager Daryl Morey traveled to Cleveland to hold separate interviews with Toronto Raptors assistant coach Rex Kalamian, Charlotte Hornets assistant Stephen Silas and Memphis Grizzlies assistant ‎Jeff Bzdelik.

Sources say Houston received permission from the respective teams that employ those coaches to interview them. But sources say the Rockets made it clear to all three candidates that the team is also looking for an associate head coach to work alongside D’Antoni in the event his deal is finalized in the coming days, as is widely expected now in league coaching circles.

I’d be surprised if Houston hires any of these three as head coach. Framing the interviews as for the head or associate-head job seems more about elevating perception of these three – to the outside world, if not the candidates themselves. That said, they’ll at least get a chance to impress, even if the Rockets go into the interviews leaning toward D’Antoni.

It’s a little surprising Kalamian interviewed while the Raptors are playing the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference finals. It’s not about the short amount of time Kalamian spent with Alexander and Morey today. It’s about the time in previous days Kalamian spent preparing for the interview.

Silas came up earlier in the search. He has worked for quality head coaches with varying styles and gets along well with players. From afar, that’s intriguing.

Bzdelik is being considered as a defensive specialist under D’Antoni, according to Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. D’Antoni could use the help, and I suspect Kalamian and Silas are also garnering similar consideration.

But I wonder how D’Antoni feels about these interviews. The Cavaliers interviewed Tyronn Lue to be their head coach, hired him as David Blatt’s assistant and then fired Blatt for Lue. Knowing a management-approved replacement is right there can empower players to undermine the head coach if they don’t like him. And it’s not as if the Rockets have a great track record with establishing a culture of players buying into the head coach.

There’s a mural in L.A. of Alex Caruso dunking over Harden, Leonard, Doncic

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It’s hard to overstate how popular Alex Caruso is in Los Angeles. Seriously. This isn’t just cult status popular, when he enters the game off the bench Staples Center explodes in cheers like LeBron James just fed Anthony Davis for an alley-oop.

Now Caruso has his own mural in Los Angeles.

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This is legit, it’s on the side of SportieLA, a clothing/apparel store on Melrose Ave. in the trendy heart of Los Angeles. Artist Gustavo Zermeño Jr. has done murals in the past for LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and other Los Angeles sports icons such as Vin Scully.

This one plays off a huge Caruso dunk from earlier this month when Dallas’ Maxi Kleber was the victim.

It’s good to be Alex Caruso in Los Angeles right now.

Kawhi Leonard just destroyed Boston’s Daniel Theis on dunk

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Daniel Theis‘ play as a rim protector is one of the reasons Boston has a top-10 defense this season. He has anchored the Celtics’ defense in the paint.

Kawhi Leonard is a two-time Finals MVP, and if he wants to go to the rim nobody is stopping him. Theis found out the hard way.

After the game, Leonard was asked about the dunk and he responded in about the most Kawhi way possible.

This was the first game Leonard and Paul George played together and they combined for 42 points, and they both made key play down the stretch of a 107-104 overtime win.

It took Luka Doncic 25 minutes to put together 35-point triple-double (VIDEO)

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DALLAS (AP) — Luka Doncic scored 33 of his 35 points in the first half and had yet another triple-double to help the Dallas Mavericks rout the short-handed Golden State Warriors 142-94 on Wednesday night.

Doncic fell a point short of matching Dirk Nowitzki’s team record set Nov. 3, 2009, against Utah. In just 17 minutes, Doncic was 10 for 11 from the floor, making 6 of 7 3-pointers, and hit 7 of 8 free throws.

The second-year star from Slovenia had 22 points, five assists and five rebounds in the first quarter alone. He played only 25 minutes total, but still managed 10 rebounds and 11 assists.

Doncic was coming off a 40-point triple-double Monday night against San Antonio, and has an NBA-best seven triple-doubles in 14 games this season.

The Mavericks never trailed and tied a franchise record with 22 3-pointers while sending Golden State to its worst loss since a 1973 playoff game.

The Warriors, who ended a seven-game losing streak by beating Memphis on Tuesday night, are an NBA-worst 3-13. Their five-year run of at the top of the NBA has collapsed under a weight of injuries, with Draymond Green out Wednesday because of right heel soreness.

With Green out, Golden State dressed only eight players, none of whom suited up for the team last season when it made the NBA Finals for the fifth consecutive year.

Eric Paschall led the Warriors with 22 points.

Tim Hardaway Jr. added 20 for Dallas. Kristaps Porzingis had 14 points and 10 rebounds for his fourth-straight double-double.

 

Bulls’ Otto Porter Jr out 2 weeks with bone bruise in foot

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CHICAGO (AP) — The Chicago Bulls say forward Otto Porter Jr. has a bone bruise in his left foot and will be reassessed in two weeks.

The Bulls say a second MRI on Tuesday revealed the bruise, something “not apparent” on the first MRI.

“He had a second scan, and something showed up that didn’t show up on the first scan,” Bulls coach Jim Boylen told NBC Sports Chicago. “That’s tough, tough for him, feel bad for him. But we’ll treat him and move on.”

Chandler Hutchison had been filling in Porter’s spot in the rotation, but he is out indefinitely now with sore shins.

Porter, averaging 11.2 points in nine games, has been sidelined since he sprained his left foot at Atlanta on Nov. 6.

The Bulls were 4-10 with three straight losses heading into Wednesday’s game against Detroit.