Every day in the NBA there is a lot to unpack, so every weekday morning throughout the season we will give you the three things you need to know from the last 24 hours in the NBA.
1) James Harden does Wesley Johnson, Clippers wrong. NBA Twitter loves it. This filthy move by James Harden is all anybody is talking about out of Wednesday night’s games. It’s not so much the move, it’s the staredown and taking a few seconds to take his three that’s savage. RIP Wesley Johnson.
NBA Twitter had a field day with this one.
By the way, there was a basketball game played, one with playoff implications. The Rockets controlled it pretty much from the start — the Clippers were on a back-to-back, looked flat early and never got out of the hole — and Houston cruised to its 14th straight win, 102-95. Houston remains half a game up on the Warriors for the best record in the NBA. The Clippers, on the other hand, fell out of the eight seed and are now half a game back of Denver for the final playoff slot in the West (the teams are tied in the loss column).
2) Kyrie Irving goes off and Celtics smash Hornets (but Raptors win, too). There were other basketball games played Wednesday. For example, in the battle of 10-game losing streaks highlighting the tankapaloza that is the bottom of the NBA right now, the Suns beat the Grizzlies 110-102 behind 34 from Devin Booker. The Pelicans beat the Spurs for New Orleans’ sixth straight win behind 26 and 15 from Anthony Davis.
The other big night of note was Kyrie Irving went off for 34 points in 24 minutes as the Celtics easily handled the Hornets, 134-106. That keeps Boston just half a game back of Toronto (which also won Wednesday) in the race
to avoid Cleveland in the second round for the top seed in the East. That loss also puts the Hornets 4.5 games back of Miami for the Final playoff spot in the East with 20 games to go — Charlotte is going to need a lot of help to have any playoff dreams.
3) Coaching carousel update: David Fizdale to Suns? Maybe. To Lakers… don’t bet on it. Coaching rumors are ramping up around the league as we head down the final stretch of the season and some teams are focused on
tanking their way to a high lottery pick next season. Three coaches were fired during this season —Earl Watson in Phoenix, David Fizdale in Memphis, and Jason Kidd in Milwaukee) and at least a couple more are expected once the season ends — Frank Vogel in Orlando’s should be calling a mover and realtor (even if the problems with the Magic are more about roster construction than coaching), and Jeff Hornacek’s job in New York is rumored to be in danger.
Despite the fact Jay Triano has done a respectable job as the interim guy, who is the hot name the Suns want to go after this summer? David Fizdale (according to Mitch Lawrence at The Sporting News). The guy Memphis fired. Which would be a great hire. The long-time Heat assistant coach did well trying to turn the Grizzlies into a modern NBA team, there was just pushback from the star player and within the organization and Fizdale lost the battle. Put him with the young core in Phoenix, get him a point guard, and the Suns will take some steps forward and be on the right track.
Lawrence’s report gets into another rumor floating around some corners of the league: The Lakers would dump Luke Walton and bring in Fizdale if it would land them LeBron James as a free agent. Remember, Fizdale was in Miami when LeBron was there and there is a lot of respect both ways. LeBron defended Fizdale on social media when Memphis dumped him this season. While it’s fun to connect those dots, I’ve heard not to bet on it. Forget the fact the Lakers like Walton and the job he’s done, and have backed him at every turn. The bigger problem is I keep hearing LeBron is not coming to the Lakers — even with he and Paul George (and Fizdale), that team is at best third in the West. Maybe fourth. That’s not what LeBron wants. His post-basketball life is in L.A., but he’s not done establishing his legacy and chasing MJ. Not sure where LeBron does end up this summer — maybe Cleveland, maybe Houston, maybe a lot of places — but I keep hearing Los Angeles is not going to be the landing spot.
As for who the Knicks would get to replace Jeff Hornacek… it’s James Dolan’s team. Literally anything is possible. He could hire Don Henley from the Eagles and I wouldn’t be shocked. I’m not about to venture a guess.