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Tag:Dwight Howard
Posted on: December 14, 2010 11:59 am
Edited on: December 14, 2010 8:47 pm
 

Jersey needs to bail on Melo

As reports surface that Carmelo may still be amiable to the Nets, we ask the question: should the Nets be amiable to Melo?
Posted by Matt Moore

UPDATE: Now that the Nets have acquired two more picks in order to try and sweeten the deal , the Nets have commited themselves fully to this enterprise. In doing so, they're hedging more of their future on trying to land the forward All-Star, while a source told CBSSports.com's Ken Berger, "they can't get it done." The Nets are like that business owner who's staff is revolting and isn't turninga profit but keeps trying to buy expensive new curtains instead of changing the product to try and lure customers. The crusade continues. At this point, even if they are able to force a trade through, you have to wonder what they're going to be surrendering in terms of future assets.

Reports have come tumbling in with the tumbling tumbleweeds that the Nets are not out of the Carmelo Anthony race. They remain interested in the acquisition of Melo, and officials have met to discuss the matter. 

Here's the thing. 

They shouldn't be. 

(For more on the Melo situation with New York, read Ken Berger's latest update .)

That ship has sailed, and it's time to move on for the Nets. At this point, New Jersey isn't just trying to jam a square peg into a round hole, they're trying to stuff $17 million in there as well. The problem that exists now isn't one of a deal. It's not about trying to convince Denver to take Derrick Favors, two first round picks, and whatever leftover assets they want thrown in. That's not the problem here. It's a problem. It's just not the problem. No, instead, New Jersey is trying to acquire a star that doesn't want to play for them. And if you don't have a star for more than five months, you don't really have a star to start with. 

Throughout this process, Carmelo Anthony has maintained the inside track on the steering wheel of this vehicle (I'm mixing metaphors; roll with it; I'm doing it again). He's been in control the entire way in terms of directing how this thing has been led. If Anthony had decided that Newark, and later Brooklyn, was the right place to plant his flag for the new empire of Melo, all he would have to do is inform Denver that was the case, that he would not re-sign in Denver, and they would likely start extorting the most assets out of New Jersey, including possibly a series of brand new Yo! cars. (Note: They could not actually trade for Yo! cars. But if they could, you can bet Donald Sterling would be dishing for one, possibly in exchange for Eric Gordon.)

What's missed in this situation, as it was in LeBron's situation, is how easy it is for Melo to decide it. Sure, Denver holds his rights, and can ship him off to basketball Siberia if they want (say hey, David Kahn). But they won't. Because doing so damages relations with the next star they try and acquire. It damages relations with all of Carmelo Anthony's agent's clients (and that's a list of people you don't want to alienate). And it damages their relations with their current players who wonder if the same will happen to them. It's not plausible. So you try and make the best of the situation, get what you can, and go forward. 

But Melo hasn't done that. He hasn't assented. He's remained on the fence. He's seeing three teams (at least) jostle and struggle and bend over backwards trying to acquire his services. He's holding his own in-season version of what LeBron did for two weeks in July, holding court. He's just doing it behind the scenes. And he knows where he wants to go. There could be somewhere else he wants to go. But there's not. Because if there was, he'd be there by now. 

Meanwhile, the Nets are hijacking themselves, their season, and their future, trying to figure out how to get Melo. Guys know they could be moved at any time, as soon as Melo gives his OK to an extend-and-trade to New Jersey. But what's worse is that the way that the Nets are still showing interest in a player who isn't 100% interested in them. This isn't to say that players don't change their minds when they arrive somewhere. But it is to say that if you want to build a championship team, you need leadership that wants to take your team, your team  to the title. And Anthony at this point is looking for a comfy situation where he can get good endorsement deals. It's possible that in two years, the Nets will be in a position to offer that. But they can't now. 

Finally, this could end up being a blessing in disguise. In 2012, under whatever bizarre new CBA world we're living in, the following players could be free agents: Chris Paul, Derrick Rose, Dwight Howard, Russell Westbrook, and Kevin Love, among others. While pulling Derrick Rose out of Chicago would require a pretty big crowbar, Paul and Howard have both shown reticence to commit to a team that won't contend. Westbrook may eventually tire of being Robin to Durant's Batman, and Kevin Love ... well, Kevin Love plays for the Timberwolves

There are other options out there, and perhaps by that time, with the team in Brooklyn (no offense to the Garden State), and a more established hierarchy of who to build around, the Nets can move forward. Right now, they're trying to force their way into a superstar's heart. You have to take your opportunities where you can find them. But you also can't force the hot person to date you when they seem so interested in flirting with your sibling. 

Time to walk away, comrades.

Posted on: December 10, 2010 10:11 pm
Edited on: August 14, 2011 9:27 pm
 

NBA Quarterly MVP: Magic center Dwight Howard

No other NBA player has been more dominant and inspiring through the first 20 games of the season than Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard. Posted by Ben Golliverdwight-howard


The NBA MVP is one of the most disputed titles in sports because there's a strange fixation on the candidate's "story." A Player can win an MVP because NBA writers feel he represents a specific era, because he deserves a lifetime achievement award, because his team's success deserves to be recognized on an individual level, or even because other worthy candidates have either won too many times and/or have egos that are too inflated.  Statistical output and winning are mandatory, of course, but there's never a shortage of candidates with the numbers and W's to make a case. What usually winds up separating the cream from the crop is "story": what's new, what's hip, what's been overlooked for too long, or what will be remembered 20 years from now. Through 20 games, one player has already demonstrated a story more tantalizing than any other: Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard.  Howard has been a fixture atop the NBA's leaderboards and has gone deep in the NBA playoffs for years now, racking up all the numbers and accolades you expect from an overall No. 1 pick. But this year he has done something much more rare from someone with his star power: He has made the leap, cashing in on the vast potential that he has displayed since he made the prep-to-pro leap, becoming a dominant all-around force unlike any the NBA has seen in years. His numbers this year are as impressive as always, a more comprehensive resume than anyone else in the NBA. Howard is averaging 21.9 points per game (14th in the NBA), 12.3 rebounds per game (3rd in the NBA), 58.5% shooting (5th in the NBA), 2.45 blocks per game (3rd in the NBA) and he's registered 15 double-doubles (4th in the NBA). His advanced stats are, arguably, even more impressive. Howard currently is No. 2 in the league in player efficiency, No. 4 in rebound rate, No. 8 in value added, No. 7 in expected wins and No. 22 in usage. If all that is gibberish to you, just know this: his comically large boxscore numbers aren't a mirage, and they represent the kind of contributions that, statistical analysts agree, go hand in hand with winning. In that vein, Howard, with next to no fanfare, has carried his Magic team to the top of the Southeast Division and the second-best record in the Eastern Conference. The Magic, at 15-7, still sit atop the far more heralded Miami Heat, despite a three-game losing streak this week. How has he done it? By acting as the centerpiece of the No. 3 rated defense in the league and the No. 2 rebounding team in the league. Again, the numbers are monstrous and they have led directly to wins.  But Howard's statistical brilliance and Orlando's team success aren't a story, as both player and team have been commonplace for the last two or three seasons. The MVP story, then, is Howard accomplishing what we collectively hope for from our superstars. Put simply, Howard is a top flight talent who has committed to reaching his vast potential, to scraping his ceiling as an athlete and as a basketball player, and he had done it right before our eyes in the season's first 20 games. At 25, Howard has become the most imposing big man since Shaquille O'Neal in his prime and, even more impressively, he's demonstrated the widest variety of low-block moves since Hakeem Olajuwon. In Portland on Friday, Howard played the single best offensive quarter in the NBA this season, better even than LeBron James' third quarter homecoming explosion against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Against quality defenders in Marcus Camby, Joel Przybilla and LaMarcus Aldridge, Howard simply couldn't be stopped, and often left his man waving at air. The final damage: 18 points on 7-9 shooting plus 4-4 from the free throw line. His teammates managed to chip in four points, and he personally outscored the Blazers by four points. It wasn't just the volume, but the diversity. On Friday alone, he showed off a lefty hook, a sweeping righty hook, a turnaround, a face-up mid-range jumper, a kiss off the glass, a number of pump fakes made even prettier by excellent and improved footwork and, of course, dunks that made the entire basket support shake to the point collapse seemed imminent. Those 12 minutes were enough to turn the Rose Garden crowd into 20,000 Bill Waltons, oohing and aahing and waxing philosophical about what it means for a big man to be that fast, that good, that consistently breathtaking. He finished the night with a season-high 39 points. "It's going to be games like that when he has it rolling," Magic point guard Jameer Nelson said afterwards, without a trace of awe because that level of excellence has become routine. "If he gets played one on one, he is who he is, he's going to dominate that guy. That's why he's Dwight Howard. That's why he gets double-teamed so much, because no one can guard him one-on-one." This new smoothness and confidence wasn't there last year, and it's a terrifying development for the rest of the NBA given that Howard hasn't sacrificed any of his old ferocity and his physique is as massive as ever. Howard clearly committed serious time to improving his game over the summer, and it's paid rapid dividends. The result is an efficient, more in-control, increasingly unpredictable Howard, a vast improvement from the rigid, bulldozer Howard that we saw as recently as last season. Through a quarter of the season, players have been as game-changing defensively (Boston's Rajon Rondo), as efficient (New Orleans' Chris Paul) as productive offensively (Dallas's Dirk Nowitzki) and as athletically overpowering (James). But none of those guys, nor anyone else, has a story to match Howard's. None of those guys have drastically transformed their games, adding a major layer of greatness on top of a superstar base.  In a league where potential goes unfulfilled 90% of the time, and great players so often become good once they've been rewarded financially, Howard stands as this season's most obvious exception. He's getting better, seemingly by the day, and, through 20 games, he has played like the best player in the NBA. For more quarterly NBA coverage, CBSSports.com has you covered.
Posted on: December 10, 2010 2:50 pm
 

The NBA Quarterly All-Star Teams

Posted by Royce Young



It's never too early to start thinking about the All-Star Game. Well, I take that back. It probably is too early. But I wrote the body of this post before the intro so I'm pressing on anyway.

We're a quarter of the way done with the 2010-11 NBA season. Everybody has at least 20 games under their belt. We've learned a lot. The Heat can be good, the Spurs are great, the Lakers oddly struggle at times, Blake Griffin is exciting and Boston won't let you score... ever.

But on top of that, a few players have started that whole breakout thing. And a lot of the old good ones have stayed really good. The NBA truly has a ridiculous amount of talent right now. Seriously, this is a great time for the league. Except for that lockout stuff but I'm not going to mention that.

So because I think a lot about non-important things like the All-Star Game and Chick-Fil-A sauce, I began to notice how tough it's going to be to narrow down a 12-man roster for both conference. If there were an At The Quarter All-Star Team, it would already be quite a task to select that.

So naturally, here's my At The Quarter All-Star Teams:

WESTERN CONFERENCE

Starters:
PG: Deron Williams (21.8 ppg, 10.1 apg)
I'd say the starting Western point guard spot is the toughest to pick in the whole league. Look at the candidates: Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, Steve Nash, Tony Parker, Stephen Curry. But Williams is the starters right now because he's commandeering an elite Western team, along with having terrific numbers.

SG: Kobe Bryant (26.6 ppg, 4.5 apg)
Kobe is the type of player that will probably be an All-Star Game starter for life since the fans vote make that happen, but it's well-deserved at this point. He's second in the league in scoring and is having a classic Kobe season. Big shots, big plays and big numbers on the biggest stage.

SF: Kevin Durant (27.6 ppg, 7.0 rpg)
By his standards, he's struggled a bit. His percentages are a bit down, he's missed a few games because of an ankle sprain and then a sore knee and he's seen his teammate Russell Westbrook steal some of his Thunder. But KD still leads the league in scoring and is still the leader on a very good Thunder team.

PF: Dirk Nowitzki (24.9 ppg, 7.4 rpg)
If I were voting, Dirk would be getting my MVP vote. Which would be weird because the season's only 25 percent done and I also don't have a vote. But Dirk is having one of his finest seasons and leading the hottest and second best team in the league (tied with Boston at 17-4). The Mavericks have found a new identity behind defense and ball pressure, but Dirk is the same old awesome Dirk.

C: Blake Griffin (20.0 ppg, 11.7 rpg)
Remember when the West used to be so stacked with big men that figuring out the starting front court was a nightmare? It's not that way anyone. There's been a shift to point guard in the West for those issues. But really, who do you start here? The best "center" is probably Tyson Chandler and maybe Al Jefferson right now. Both have been good, but I'm going to fudge and give it to Griffin. His numbers are worthy at 20-12, but he's everything that an All-Star should be. He has the league buzzing, every night is a potential highlight-fest and he's the most can't-miss guy going. To me, if we're selecting an All-Star team right now, he's got to be on it.

Bench:
Russell Westbrook, PG: Westbrook leads Western point guards in scoring, plus he's got better "LeBron" numbers than LeBron at 23.7 ppg, 8.6 apg and 5.5 rpg.

Chris Paul, PG: Weird to have CP3 on the bench considering he's in the top two or three for MVP, but again, the West is stacked. His team's little slide lately isn't helping either.

Manu Ginobili, SG: The best team in the league doesn't have an MVP candidate? Who says so? Because Manu is certainly playing like one, at least in my mind.

Monta Ellis, SG: Ellis barely gets the nod over Eric Gordon who is also having a really good year. They score virtually the same amount but Ellis has simply been a bit more efficient.

Luis Scola, PF: The Rockets may be struggling and disappointing, but Scola hasn't. Coming off a big World Championships where he raised expectations for himself, Scola has lived up to it in every way.

Kevin Love, PF: He's leading the league in rebounding, and it's not close (15.5 per game, Joakim Noah is next at 12.3). This season there have been 11 20-20 games. Love has six of them.

Tyson Chandler, C: The last spot is where things get a bit hairy. Chandler has been having a re-birth of a season with the Mavericks, protecting the rim and playing solid offense. And just barely does he get the nod of Al Jefferson for the lone center on the roster simply because playing both ends counts for something.

Tough cuts: Stephen Curry, Steve Nash, Carmelo Anthony, Rudy Gay.

EASTERN CONFERENCE

Starters:
PG: Derrick Rose (25.1 ppg, 8.1 apg)
Rose wondered why he couldn't be an MVP candidate before the season. And there's no doubt he should be, if only he could get his team to win a few more games. But he leads all point guards in scoring (fourth in the league) and is dishing out a career-high assist average. Rose is the total package right now at point and really, one of the top two or three players in the entire conference.

SG: Dwyane Wade (22.0 ppg, 6.5 rpg)
His numbers are down a bit, but there's an obvious reason why. I'll be honest, if there was another really impressive shooting guard in the East, Wade wouldn't be such a lock. But because the East is pretty thin there (Stephen Jackson? Ray Allen? Vince Carter?) Wade is the starter by default.

SF: LeBron James (24.1 ppg, 7.3 apg)
Despite what his numbers say, he's still the most talented and gifted player in the game. And it's not like the stats aren't excellent anyway. He's just set a bar so high for himself there that all of a sudden 24-7-5 doesn't look so great.

PF: Amar'e Stoudemire (25.7 ppg, 9.1 rpg)
Not only are the Knicks winning, but Amar'e has been fairly awesome this season. He's third in the league in scoring and has just broken a franchise record held by Bernand King for most consecutive games with 30 points (six). That's like, pretty good.

C: Dwight Howard (20.9 ppg, 12.1 rpg)
Forget the fact there's not a ton of competition here. Howard has maybe been the most productive NBA player this season. He's scoring at a career-high rate, plus putting up his typical big rebounding and blocked shots numbers. His developing post game is no joke and he's becoming the total package at center.

Bench:
Rajon Rondo, PG: His 14.1 assists per game are obviously eye-catching, but he's also turning it over 4.0 times a game, second in the league.

Raymond Felton, PG: Yep, seriously. He's playing on a winning club and his numbers are great! No really, they are! Look at them, I promise I'm not lying!

Ray Allen, SG: Nothing spectacular from the league's best shooter, but his stats are solid, his team is good and he's already hit a number of big shots just a quarter of the way in.

Danny Granger, SF: Come real selection time, he might get squeezed for a bigger name, but he's made the team once. He's a great scorer and now that he's on a decent team, he's deserving.

Kevin Garnett, PF: As long as he's still moving his way up and down the court, he's an All-Star. Plus, don't look, but he's actually having a pretty darn good season.

Roy Hibbert, C: A chic pick for Most Improved, the 7'3 Pacer big man has a well-developed game. Post moves, power moves and even a distance jumpshot.

Andrea Bargnani, C: Probably a stretch especially since Al Horford likely deserves it more, but Barge Nanny is sixth in the East in scoring and in his last few games has really looked fantastic, punctuated by a 41-point explosion against the Knicks Wednesday.

Tough cuts: Al Horford, Joakim Noah, Paul Pierce, John Wall, Shaquille O'Neal
Posted on: December 10, 2010 2:47 pm
Edited on: December 10, 2010 2:49 pm
 

F&R Quarterly Report: 1st Quarter Good and Bad

Here's a look at the 1st quarter and what we've taken away from it.
Posted by Matt Moore




We're a quarter in to the season, and it hasn't gone exactly according to plan. Some things we thought would happen, some things we didn't. As we head towards the season being halfway through, here's a look back at the first quarter of the season and what we thought about it.

MVP: As Ben Golliver will be telling you later, Dwight Howard makes a pretty strong case for first quarter MVP. Royce and I wound up on the Big German's side of the aisle, though. With the Mavericks on a ridiculous winning streak (make it 11 after blasting the Comrade's Nyetzkies on Thursday night), Nowitzki has been off the charts so far this year. The Mavericks look better this year because of their depth and their defense, but without Nowitzki, they'd still be nowhere.

As Nowitzki's career begins to wind down (we think?), it's important to let go of the past where people questioned Dirk's intensity, toughness, and clutchness. He's been one of the best players in the world for the past ten years, and the fact that he's still putting together stretches of games like this only confirms that. Don't believe me? Check the elbow.

ROY: Boy, was I wrong . Again. John Wall hasn't been a slouch by any means, but to compare the impact the two has on the court is to examine the ballistic missile barrage that is Blake Griffin on a nightly basis. It's not just the dunks (but trust us, we'll get there). It's things like the way he absolutely blew Lamar Odom off the block, and his intensity and athleticism while rebounding. It's the way that even though this Clippers team has no hope of winning on any given night, Griffin looks like he's dying for a win, to try, to compete. He's the only unanimous pick for a reason.

Biggest Surprise: We're split between the Knicks, who were supposed to be better but not this better, and the Pacers, who were supposed to be bad and are really pretty good. Amar'e Stoudemire has the Knicks rolling, and Danny Granger alongside Roy Hibbert is making up one of the best frontcourts in the NBA this year. Great to see teams surprise us in a good way.

Best Overall Performance: We're all very impressed with the Celtics, basically. Except Ken. But we think that's because he had a bad cab ride. Maybe it was bad chowder. No, couldn't be that, there's no such thing as bad chowder in Boston. Probably the cab ride. Anyway, the rest of us are completely horrified of Boston coming into our homes at night and subjugate us under their imperial rule.

Biggest Letdown: Ken and Ben (hey, that rhymes!) have a soft spot in their hearts for the sad plight of the Blazers' health. I'm more concerned about Houston and why they're not competing among the West's elite (but they're getting there), and Royce has the same question about the Bucks in the East. If you couldn't see this coming in Portland... you probably haven't been paying attention for the past, oh, forty years.

Ticking Time-Bomb: While Ben Golliver frets over Chris Paul continuing to keep his cards close to his vest, the rest of us are alarmed at how DeMarcus Cousins seems hell-bent on alienating his teammates and coaches. Tick, tick, tick.

Best dunk: Yeah, sorry, not going to be able to get over this, regardless of whether he traveled or not :





Here's a look at our votes for the first quarter of the 2010-2011 season.




Posted on: December 10, 2010 2:47 pm
Edited on: December 10, 2010 2:49 pm
 

F&R Quarterly Report: 1st Quarter Good and Bad

Here's a look at the 1st quarter and what we've taken away from it.
Posted by Matt Moore




We're a quarter in to the season, and it hasn't gone exactly according to plan. Some things we thought would happen, some things we didn't. As we head towards the season being halfway through, here's a look back at the first quarter of the season and what we thought about it.

MVP: As Ben Golliver will be telling you later, Dwight Howard makes a pretty strong case for first quarter MVP. Royce and I wound up on the Big German's side of the aisle, though. With the Mavericks on a ridiculous winning streak (make it 11 after blasting the Comrade's Nyetzkies on Thursday night), Nowitzki has been off the charts so far this year. The Mavericks look better this year because of their depth and their defense, but without Nowitzki, they'd still be nowhere.

As Nowitzki's career begins to wind down (we think?), it's important to let go of the past where people questioned Dirk's intensity, toughness, and clutchness. He's been one of the best players in the world for the past ten years, and the fact that he's still putting together stretches of games like this only confirms that. Don't believe me? Check the elbow.

ROY: Boy, was I wrong . Again. John Wall hasn't been a slouch by any means, but to compare the impact the two has on the court is to examine the ballistic missile barrage that is Blake Griffin on a nightly basis. It's not just the dunks (but trust us, we'll get there). It's things like the way he absolutely blew Lamar Odom off the block, and his intensity and athleticism while rebounding. It's the way that even though this Clippers team has no hope of winning on any given night, Griffin looks like he's dying for a win, to try, to compete. He's the only unanimous pick for a reason.

Biggest Surprise: We're split between the Knicks, who were supposed to be better but not this better, and the Pacers, who were supposed to be bad and are really pretty good. Amar'e Stoudemire has the Knicks rolling, and Danny Granger alongside Roy Hibbert is making up one of the best frontcourts in the NBA this year. Great to see teams surprise us in a good way.

Best Overall Performance: We're all very impressed with the Celtics, basically. Except Ken. But we think that's because he had a bad cab ride. Maybe it was bad chowder. No, couldn't be that, there's no such thing as bad chowder in Boston. Probably the cab ride. Anyway, the rest of us are completely horrified of Boston coming into our homes at night and subjugate us under their imperial rule.

Biggest Letdown: Ken and Ben (hey, that rhymes!) have a soft spot in their hearts for the sad plight of the Blazers' health. I'm more concerned about Houston and why they're not competing among the West's elite (but they're getting there), and Royce has the same question about the Bucks in the East. If you couldn't see this coming in Portland... you probably haven't been paying attention for the past, oh, forty years.

Ticking Time-Bomb: While Ben Golliver frets over Chris Paul continuing to keep his cards close to his vest, the rest of us are alarmed at how DeMarcus Cousins seems hell-bent on alienating his teammates and coaches. Tick, tick, tick.

Best dunk: Yeah, sorry, not going to be able to get over this, regardless of whether he traveled or not :





Here's a look at our votes for the first quarter of the 2010-2011 season.




Posted on: December 10, 2010 11:25 am
Edited on: December 10, 2010 11:52 am
 

The Game Changer: Orlando missing some magic

Posted by Royce Young

Each game is made up of elements which help formulate the outcome. Monday through Friday, we'll bring you the elements from the night before's games in our own specialized version of the game recaps. It's not everything that happened, but it's an insight into what lead to the results you'll see in the box scores. This is the Game Changer.

THE BIG ONE: DWIGHT NEEDS HELP

The Blazers locked down on the Magic, winning a defensive scrum 97-83, with the Magic scoring just 34 second half points. It's probably the best win (and most needed) win for Portland and a loss for Orlando that showcased a few issues.

Two main points that were highlighted really well in this game:

1) The Blazers can defend with the best of them. I think one of the most beautiful things to watch is Portland playing at home with a late lead. It's like watching the Pittsburgh Steelers milk a lead. The Blazers run the ball, take each possession seriously, but aren't afraid to punt. Portland is so ridiculously disciplined and every player understands the importance of never giving ground and never letting their man beat them.

One possession sticks out to me. The Magic had the ball on the left wing, with Jameer Nelson trying to feed Rashard Lewis in the post with the smaller Wesley Matthews guarding. Matthews of course is giving around five inches on Lewis. But not only could Nelson not get a clear entry look at Lewis, Matthews also had Lewis pushed all the way out near the 3-point line. There's just this, "I'm not going to let you score on me" mentality there.

2) The Magic need another scorer badly.
Not to take anything away from the Blazers' defensive discipline and keep in mind most of the Magic roster is still battling a bit of the flu, but all of this was really aided by the fact the Magic can turn into a painfully one-dimensional team. The Blazers made a lot of that happen by taking away the drive and kick and forcing Orlando to work 20 seconds on the offensive end.

Portland was content letting Howard do his work in the post, rarely sending a double to help. Howard played really, really well but it's clear he's not the early decade Shaq. Early Decade Shaq would've had 50 in a game like this. His team could've just fed the post every time and relied on him to score. Howard doesn't have that ability. But then again, we're talking about Shaq, one of the three best centers ever.

Howard scored 26 points in the first half and finished with a season-high 39, but finished the game 2-8 from the field. Again, Portland let Howard do his work early and that led to a big Magic lead, but later in the game when things tightened up, Orlando just didn't have a clear option. The Magic went almost seven minutes in the fourth quarter without a field goal.

And the thing is, Orlando was determined to get the ball into Howard and his new and improved post game. But that meant they bypassed their bread and butter pick and roll. Again, Howard's not a consistent post scorer (yet). So there has to be an option for him to kick out to when things get shut down. Orlando can get away with this stuff against mediocre defenses, but against a group like the Blazers, everything gets exposed.

So again, it comes back to the help Howard needs. Vince Carter, Nelson, J.J. Redick -- someone -- had to step up and be able to score 10 fourth quarter points. 2008 Hedo Turkoglu was that guy for Orlando. Instead, the Magic suffered as their possessions were strung out, most of the time ending up with a long, contested jumper or a forced shot in the post. The next high scorer beside Howard was Lewis with 11. I think that says things well.

Is Gilbert Arenas the answer? Maybe. But at one point the TNT crew had Magic general manager Otis Smith standing, watching his unit toil away with yet another empty possession. And Smith had to be thinking about getting Howard some help. Clearly the team is an upper tier squad. They'll win 50 games in their sleep. But to win a title, they need help. It's going to be a risk, but it might be worth it for the potential reward.

GO-GO-GADGET LINES

Dwight Howard gets the gold star for the night with a season-high 39 points on 13-20 shooting, but more impressive was his 13-18 effort from the free throw line. Oh, and of course he added 15 rebounds and three blocks.

Runner-up: Rajon Rondo had another Rondo night with 19 points and 14 assists.

J.J. Barea gets a mention with 13 assists in just 27 minutes.

DRAWING UP A WIN FOR BOSTON

The Celtics and 76ers traded go-ahead buckets with under a minute left in really one of the most fun games of the season so far. And with the Sixers leading 101-100 with 6.6 seconds left, Boston called its last timeout and Doc Rivers went to drawing up a play.

I think everyone assumed it would be an isolation for Paul Pierce where he gets to the elbow for a game-winner. Instead, Pierce was decoyed in a faux pick and pop, while Rondo dished to Kevin Garnett for a game-winning layup.



After watching the play about 15 times, I still can't decide if that was just Rondo audibling out of the original play or if that was the way Rivers drew it up.

But the key is how Garnett shows a screen as Pierce comes for another on the other side. The Sixers likely anticipate the ball going to Pierce so Jrue Holliday switches to Garnett immediately. Rondo sees the mis-match and lobs the ball beautifully to Garnett for the winner. A lot of it was a nice design, some was poor decisions by Thaddeus Young and Holliday, but most of it was a great play by Rondo. 

THIS ONE GOES TO 11

The Mavericks took their winning streak to 11 games with a 102-89 take-care-of-business style home win over the Nets. Really, it was about as formulaic a game as you'd expect between an 18-4 team and a 6-17 team.

The Mavs led 30-19 after one and really just kind of played like a bully keeping the smaller kid at arms length. The Nets would edge back in the game and then Dirk Nowitzki would hit a jumper. Or Jason Kidd would hit a 3. Or the Nets would go five minutes without a field goal.

What's so impressive about the Mavs right now is that it almost seems easy. Dirk led them with 21, but it was on 8-10 shooting. After that, it was Shawn Marion with 18 off the bench, Jason Terry and Caron Butler with 15 apiece and then everyone else was in single-digits. But all 10 plays that played scored.

PARTING THOUGHT

On the wrong end of Garnett's game-winner though was a dejected, heartbroken Sixers team that really fought hard in a losing effort. Philly coach Doug Collins after the loss: "It's like a kick in the gut." The Sixers are now 1-11 in games decided by less than 10 points.
Posted on: November 30, 2010 3:35 pm
 

Award-O-Matic MVP 11.30.10: CP3 as MVP

NBA F&R breaks down the MVP candidates after the first month of the season by dissecting the award down to three parts: Most Valuable, Most Important, and Most Oustanding Player. CP3 is in control.
Posted by Matt Moore with contributions from Ben Golliver and Royce Young




Well, we're a month into the season and the context of this year has begun to take shape. While certainly a long way from the finish line, we've already gotten a glimpse of who's playing well, who's playing average, and who ... not so much. And so it is that we begin our monthly look at awards. On a regular basis we'll take you around the award contenders and give you a look at who is in contention for the NBA's major awards by breaking down what they really mean in our Award-O-Matic. Today we start with the MVP.

The problem, as has been elucidated approximately a million times by various media members, is that the MVP is a nebulous, hard to define award. Its name is Most Valuable, but it most often goes to the Most Outstanding Player on a winning team. If your play is other-worldly but your team doesn't win, you have no shot. If you contribute the most to a winning team but your numbers aren't stellar, again, your chances are slim. It takes a combination of three factors: value, performance, and importance to snag the award. As such, we decided to break the award into those three categories, tally them up with the top player getting 3 points, the second 2, the third 1, then summing to see if we could come up with a list.

First up?

Most Valuable Player (To Their Team): Who is most responsible for their team's success? Or, to put it another way, whose team suffers the most without them?


Matt Moore:


1. Dirk Nowitzki: Without him that offense is anemic and it's been his rebounding that's kept them in games at points.
2. Carmelo Anthony: Seriously, Nuggets. Cliff. Teetering. Melo's the only thing keeping the truck from smashing into pieces.
3. Dwight Howard: Get him in foul trouble and the Magic turn into a Mid-Major college team, just wining it from perimeter to perimeter.

Ben Golliver:

1. Chris Paul:
  I like Darren Collison as much as the next guy, but CP3's return from injury to lead New Orleans' absurd hot start, despite an unimpressive supporting cast, reveals exactly how valuable the league's best point guard is.
2. Rajon Rondo Boston would still be good without Rondo, but his game ownership places them on an elite level and makes them the odds on favorite to win the East yet again. 10.6 points, 14.2 assists (what!), 4.8 rebounds and 2.5 steals through the end of November. Crazy.
3. Kevin Durant The Thunder have had an up-and-down start but imagining this team with Russell Westbrook at the helm by himself, dragging an ineffective Jeff Green along for the ride, would be a recipe for a guaranteed lottery team. KD will get better -- perhaps much better -- over the course of the season, and he's already easily leading the NBA in scoring again.

Royce Young:

1. Chris Paul:   Subtract Paul and what do you have. I can promise you it's not an 8-1 team. It's really as simple as that.
2. Dirk Nowitzki:   The Mavericks are dangerous in every fourth quarter that they're close in. The reason is because Dirk can score in every situation, at any time. He essentially is the Maverick offense.
3. Steve Nash:   Take Nash away and yes, there's Goran Dragic who can dazzle in stretches. But without Nash this Suns team is nothing more than a 35-win club. With Nash, there's potential to push for the playoffs.

Most Important Player: Who is most crucial to their team's success? Ex. Last year I argued that Josh Smith was MIP because when he did Josh Smith-y things, the Hawks were nearly unstoppable, and when he didn't, they were much more beatable.


Matt Moore:

1. Chris Paul:
He does everything and it starts and stops with him. This is even more clearly illustrated by their recent struggles down the stretch where he hasn't been involved.
2. Al Horford: The level of production Horford is creating right now is simply astonishing. More astonishing is how overlooked he is.
3. Pau Gasol: It's him that's carrying the Lakers. Even as Kobe scores all the high points, the most dominant Laker performances this season are from Gasol.

Ben Golliver:


1. Pau Gasol: His virtuoso early season performance has single-handedly made Andrew Bynum an afterthought. What more needs to be said?
2. Deron Williams:   Utah's streak of comebacks begins with Williams' tough-minded leadership and ends with his play-making and shot-making.
3. Dirk Nowitzki:   Another banner start from Dirk singlehandedly puts a Dallas roster loaded with question marks in the playoff mix.

Royce Young:

1. Pau Gasol: Having Gasol as part of the triangle has been like a revelation. He's really what makes the Lakers so darn dangerous.
2. Kevin Garnett:
We saw what an impact his has in regard to the Celtic defense two seasons ago when his knee was injured.
3. Nick Collison:   He's a classic no-stats All-Star. He's only played for a few weeks so far this season for Oklahoma City but his value is immeasurable and impact immediate. He tips rebounds that become extra possessions, takes charges, sets outstanding screens and makes two or three small (but big) plays a game.


Most Outstanding Player: Who has simply wowed you?


Matt Moore:

1. Rajon Rondo: Key plays every time he's on the floor and he makes it look easy, There are a lot of moments where he looks like he's just on a different plane from everyone else.. and he's got three Hall of Famers on his team.
2. Russell Westbrook: Westbrook has managed to take over the game down the stretch. His turnovers are down, assists are up, he's got range and that mid-key pull-up jumper is as deadly as it ever has been. He's been simply phenomenal in half-court and full-court sets.
3. Deron Williams: Three point guards? Yup. Check Deron at the end of the clock with the game on the line. Money. And that's after all the assists, rebounds, key plays and floor leadership. Man's a ninja, no joke.

Ben Golliver:


1. Dwight Howard:
  Lost in the Miami Heat wave, Howard is quietly putting up 22.6 points, 11.9 rebounds and 2.4 blocks as the defensive and rebounding engine that will make Orlando a title contender for years to come. By the way, Orlando sits atop the Southeast Division -- 3.5 games ahead of the Heat.
2. LeBron James: His numbers are crazy and his highlights are spectacular. It's a wonder he can jump so high and dunk so hard carrying the burden of Chris Bosh and Erik Spoelstra's corpse on his shoulders.
3. John Wall:   Wall doesn't belong in the MVP discussion -- there are too many holes in his game (jumper, turnovers) and his team is terrible -- but for sheer "outstanding-ness" and "wow factor" he merits inclusion here. His assist numbers have been great and his speed is tops in the league; he's a lot further along the NBA readiness scale than even his biggest fans could have imagined.

Royce Young:

1. Rajon Rondo: He's been nothing but insanely ridiculous. Manages the game perfectly, understand his place within an offense and runs the show beautifully.
2. Kevin Love: When given the time on the floor, he's a legitimate 20-20 threat every single night. How many players can you really say that about?
3. Russell Westbrook: There's a case to be legitimately made for Westbrook as an MVP contender. Kevin Durant is still leading the league in scoring, but Westbrook is what's kept the team winning games. But his play has been just insane this year (23.8 ppg, 8.4 apg, 5.1 rpg) and he's a super-highlight waiting to happen.

Here are the tallies:

Most Valuable Player:
1. Chris Paul (6)
2. Dirk Nowitzki (5)
Tied for 3rd: Carmelo Anthony, Rajon Rondo (2)
Tied for 4th: Kevin Durant, Dwight Howard, Steve Nash (1)

Most Important Player:
1. Pau Gasol (7)
2. Chris Paul (3)
Tied for 3rd: Deron Williams, Al Horford, Kevin Garnett (2)
Tied for 4th: Dirk Nowitzki, Nick Collison (1)

Most Outstanding Player :

1. Rajon Rondo (6)
Tied for 2nd: Russell Westbrook, Dwight Howard (3)
Tied for 3rd: Kevin Love, LeBron James (2)
Tied for 4th: John Wall, Deron Williams (1)

Top 5 in Totals:
1. Chris Paul: 9
2. Rajon Rondo (8)
3. Pau Gasol (7)
4. Dirk Nowitzki (6)
5. Dwight Howard (4)
Posted on: November 30, 2010 9:57 am
 

Shootaround 11.30.10: Riley doesn't want back

Posted by Royce Young
  • Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: "The Heat knew going in that LeBron James would be high maintenance. Superstars almost always are. But pair that with a young, intellectual sideline purist and you have what you have right now, a leadership void that allows the ancillary to dominate. So reports emerge from within the locker about unease with the sideline guidance, with the same coach who first found a way to get two rotation rookies to the No. 5 playoff seed in 2009 and then a cap-conscious team to that same seed a year ago. And to the coach's aid steps ... Not a word from Pat Riley, even though a source close to Riley and his family insist that the last thing Riley wants to do right now is return to the sideline."
  • Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: "Unless --- knock on wood --- he is felled by a catastrophic injury, Dwight Howard is destined to join basketball's hall of fame. 'He's a sure-fire hall of famer' if he remains on course, agrees Magic coach Stan Van Gundy of his 24-year-old center. Oddly, 16 games into Dwight's seventh season, that heady forecast is more sure-fire than Howard ever being awarded MVP."
  • And on cue, Stan Van Gundy says Howard doesn't get fair treatment in the media : "Maybe it's a size thing. Maybe people are harder on that. But he's a guy who clearly is the best guy in the league at his position, and has been. He's still very young, he's improving, he's won, he's a damn good person. I don't understand why there are so many negatives on him in comparison to the other guys. I've always felt since I've been here that he's taken more of a hit than the other people."
  • Stephen Jackson was ejected again a few days ago but his coach says he doesn't think Jackson ever change: "I don't know how things are going to change. I understand from his perspective what's going on, but that's the way it is: As hard as it is for a player to understand that, you've got to play through (emotion). You're too important to our team. We need you on the court."
  • John Rohde of The Oklahoman: "The novelty of Oklahoma City serving as the New Orleans Hornets' temporary home from 2005-07 seems to have all but disappeared. Crowd reaction during pre-game introductions drew only polite applause for Chris Paul and David West. Monday would have qualified as one of the most lethargic crowds in Thunder history, but the eighth sellout (18,203) gathering of the season finally came to life with 4:17 left in the third quarter when Jeff Green sprinted down court and blocked Paul's wide-open layup attempt."
  • Hornets24/7 on last night's loss to OKC: "Dear Coach Williams, West is moderately efficient as a scorer, but he is not brilliant.  Paul is a brilliant scorer and distributor.  Crunch time should be Chris Paul time, not David West time.  Actually, let me change that.  It can be David West time, but ONLY when he’s shooting after Chris Paul has broken down the defense.  The ball needs to start in Paul’s hands.  It can end wherever, but Paul needs to be creating the shot. Thanks.  Great job so far, by the way."
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com