ORLANDO, Fla. – For the relentless punishment Dwight Howard meted out on this franchise and these fans, for such an inglorious exit and ultimately a spectacular return on Tuesday night, there was still such an immense part of him desperate to win back everyone.
All around the Los Angeles Lakers' bench, the fans harassed and heckled Howard. His eye contact with these people was unwavering, his cute responses determined to diffuse the anger and remind them of the good times here, of the way they once cheered him, of the way they did love him.
"You [bleeping] suck Dwight!" the man beneath the basket with the baseball cap screamed.
"You [bleeping] suck!"
Howard laughed and mouthed back to him, "I'm having fun … I'm having fun."
And then, Howard climbed back off the end of the Lakers' bench, marched onto the floor and obliterated these Orlando Magic. Once again, he broke everyone's heart here.
The Magic tried to prey on all his insecurities, all his fears, and yet, finally, there was no stopping the self-proclaimed Superman. Over and over, the Magic grabbed Howard, slapped him, wrapped arms around those massive shoulders and dared him to immerse himself in the moment, concentrate and make free throws. The Magic played a Hack-a-Dwight, dared him to stand alone in downtown Orlando and make free throw upon free throw.
Thirty-nine times Howard shot them, 25 times they dropped into the net and ultimately 39 points, 16 rebounds and three blocks punctuated the Lakers' 106-97 victory over the Magic.
"I needed that to learn how to block a lot of things out, despite the boos and all that stuff," Howard said.
That's always the issue with Howard: Where's his mind? Where's his focus? What's his mood? ..... (article cut to save bandwidth)
Mar 13 2013
MIAMI (AP) -- Standing at his locker after yet another victory, LeBron James finally acknowledged the obvious.
This winning streak is something for the Miami Heat to savor.
Dwyane Wade scored 23 points and on a night where the stat sheet would suggest a struggle, the Heat rolled once again, extending their winning streak to 19 games and leading wire-to-wire in beating the Atlanta Hawks 98-81 on Tuesday.
''Let's be honest, guys,'' James said. ''We're not sitting here and saying this is not something special. This is an unbelievable streak that we're on. We're playing great basketball. We're winning in different phases of the game, we're playing different styles, we've won every game, on the road, at home, double-overtime games, end-of-regulation games, whatever the case may be.''
James scored 15 points and Chris Bosh and Mario Chalmers added 14 apiece for the Heat, who matched the fifth-longest streak in NBA history. They will try for their 20th straight win on Wednesday at Philadelphia, the start of a five-game trip.
Only three teams have won at least 20 consecutive games in the same season: the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers (33), the 2007-08 Houston Rockets (22) and the 1970-71 Milwaukee Bucks (20). The Washington Capitols also won 20 straight, spanning the end of the 1947-48 season and the start of the 1948-49 campaign.
''Ten is enough for me,'' Bosh said. ''Twenty's cool. I'd take it.''
Josh Smith scored 15 for the Hawks, who got 12 apiece from Al Horford and Jeff Teague.
''Miami is playing very well right now. You have to give credit where credit is due,'' Hawks coach Larry Drew said. ''Coach (Erik) Spoelstra and his staff over there are doing a great job. Their team is really moving the basketball, they ..... (article cut to save bandwidth)
Mar 13 2013
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- Zach Randolph sat out the Grizzlies' first two games against the Trail Blazers this season. So he made sure he wasn't going to miss No. 3 against his former team.
Randolph returned from an ankle injury with 19 points and 10 rebounds, and Memphis won its fifth straight game with a 102-97 victory over Portland on Tuesday night.
''I felt pretty good out there,'' said Randolph, who had missed the last four games with a left ankle sprain. ''A little sore, but overall I felt all right.''
Marc Gasol had 20 points for the Grizzlies, who have won 13 of their last 14 games and sit in fourth place in the Western Conference. Mike Conley added 14 points and a career-high 15 assists, and Memphis matched its season high with 31 assists overall.
LaMarcus Aldridge had 28 points and 10 rebounds for the Blazers, whose playoff hopes are slipping away. Rookie Damian Lillard had 27 points.
Memphis (43-19) led by as many as 15 points in the second half but the Blazers closed the gap to 79-72 after Lillard's 3-pointer and a pair of free throws from Aldridge.
Eric Maynor's 3-pointer with 3:49 left narrowed Memphis' lead to 83-78, but Tayshaun Prince answered with a 3-pointer for the Grizzlies.
Portland kept up the pressure, pulling within 89-84 on a pair of free throws from Maynor with 1:21 to go, but Conley came back with a short jumper and Portland was unable to catch up.
''We just kept holding them off,'' Memphis coach Lionel Hollins said.
The Grizzlies trailed the Blazers by as many as 17 points in the third quarter last Wednesday before winning 91-85.
Portland (29-34) returned home after a 1-2 road trip, including the ..... (article cut to save bandwidth)
Mar 13 2013
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- There hasn't been much to cheer about at Target Center while the Minnesota Timberwolves endure another long, painful march toward another draft lottery.
Wolves fans do have Ricky Rubio, though. And that was enough on Tuesday night.
Rubio had his first career triple-double with 21 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists, leading the Timberwolves to a 107-83 victory over the San Antonio Spurs.
''That's the first one of many to come,'' Wolves guard J.J. Barea said.
Rubio made 9 of 17 shots and grabbed his 10th board with 9:14 to play in the game, earning a standing ovation from the long-suffering Wolves fans. Alexey Shved broke out of a big slump to score 16 points and Barea had 17 for the Wolves, who hit 12 3-pointers.
''I just try to be aggressive all the time,'' Rubio said. ''Stats are the last thing I try to watch. The victory is the most important thing.''
Stephen Jackson had 14 points and Danny Green 10 for the Spurs, who left Tim Duncan and Kawhi Leonard at home to rest after they throttled Oklahoma City on Monday night. San Antonio turned the ball over 17 times, leading to 30 points for Minnesota, and shot just 35.4 percent.
The team with the best record in the West lost to Portland by 30 on Friday and then was drilled by one of the worst teams in the conference on Tuesday night.
''We've got to get things together and go back to who we were,'' said Manu Ginobili, who had seven points on 2-for-10 shooting. ''Because it's happening too often now.''
A season that started with high expectations quickly unraveled for the Wolves thanks to a bevy of injuries. They are 7-25 since Kevin Love ..... (article cut to save bandwidth)
Mar 13 2013
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- Paul Pierce rested while Gerald Henderson went to work.
Henderson scored a career-high 35 points and Charlotte Bobcats snapped a 10-game losing streak by pounding the lackluster Boston Celtics 100-74 on Tuesday night.
It was Charlotte's biggest margin of victory since beating the Miami Heat 104-65 on Jan. 20, 2010.
''I was just trying to be aggressive from the start and just attack,'' said Henderson, who was 11 of 19 from the field and knocked down all 12 of his foul shots.
Ben Gordon scored 17 points and new starting forward Josh McRoberts had his first double-double for Charlotte with 13 points and 10 rebounds.
When asked if the Bobcats took Doc Rivers' decision to rest Pierce as a slap in the face, Gordon simply shrugged his shoulders.
''Hopefully he rests when we play them again on Saturday'' in Boston, Gordon said. ''Tell him to go get more rest.''
The Bobcats (14-50) doubled last season's win total.
The Celtics looked every bit like a team that has played nine of its last 11 games on the road.
Kevin Garnett needed nine points to pass Jerry West and move into 15th place on the NBA's career scoring list, but was held to just five on 2-of-10 shooting. Jeff Green and Jordan Crawford each had 14 points for the Celtics, who were outrebounded 48-29 by a Bobcats team not known for its prowess on the glass.
Henderson got off to a fast start, scoring 21 points to help Charlotte to a 49-46 halftime lead.
The fourth-year guard stayed with his biggest strength while playing against Courtney Lee and Jason Terry, driving to the hole and drawing contact. He was 8 of 13 from the field in the ..... (article cut to save bandwidth)
Mar 13 2013
NEW YORK (AP) -- Having Brook Lopez and Andray Blatche on the floor at the same time worked in a big way for the Nets.
Brooklyn's big men combined for 44 points in a 108-98 victory over the New Orleans Hornets on Tuesday night.
Lopez led all scorers with 26 points and enjoyed sharing the floor with Blatche, who scored 12 of his 18 points in the second quarter.
''He has such a high basketball IQ,'' said Lopez, ''and he plays so well with everyone on the floor, which makes everyone's job a lot easier.''
Nets interim coach P.J. Carlesimo said the Lopez-Blatche tandem works well with specific match-ups, and considering Brooklyn needed an offensive jolt after Monday's dismal loss to lowly Philadelphia, the plan worked.
''Andray makes the game easier for me,'' said Lopez, who went on a 10-point scoring run himself in the third quarter to preserve a dwindling lead. ''You see Andray playing out there like that, I want him to play the entire game then. The great thing about our bigs, there are a lot of good players there who can do different things, so we can have a lot of combinations.''
Lopez had a monstrous dunk over his twin brother, Robin, with 3:49 left in the third quarter. It's something the Lopez family will be talking about for years. Robin finished with 15 points and eight rebounds.
''I am not going to talk to him,'' Brook Lopez joked after the game, mentioning that Robin has dunked on him before as well. ''I will expect the rest of my family to talk trash to him.''
At one point in the second half, Brook stood over Robin after he took a charge and fell to the floor. At that ..... (article cut to save bandwidth)
Mar 13 2013
MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Vince Carter may not be able to throw down big dunks like he used to, though he can still knock down big shots.
Carter hit three key 3-pointers in the fourth quarter and scored 23 points off the bench as the Dallas Mavericks won their fourth straight with a 115-108 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday night.
''I felt in the groove,'' Carter said. ''The basket just seemed extremely big, and I felt comfortable with my shot. I was just in the flow of the game. A couple of shots, once I let them go, I happened to look down and see the 3-point line was up there. Oops. I know if I don't make them, Coach is going to yell. But I was just prepared. I had my feet set, in rhythm, just in attack mode.''
Carter scored 13 points in the fourth quarter to help the Mavericks match their longest winning streak of the season. They have won five of six.
During that stretch, Carter is averaging 17.2 points while shooting 55.5 percent from beyond the arc. Not bad for a guy who used to be known more for his dunking skills than his long-distance shooting.
''He was definitely half-man, half-amazing today,'' said guard Mike James. ''Some of them shots, I was like, 'You're not supposed to shoot that shot. But, OK. That went in. That was amazing.'''
The Mavericks, who are three games out of the eighth spot in the Western Conference playoff race, know now is the time to get going if they are to make the postseason for the 13th consecutive time.
''We know time is short, and urgency is high,'' coach Rick Carlisle said. ''We're going to let it all hang out. We're ..... (article cut to save bandwidth)
Mar 13 2013
CLEVELAND (AP) -- The Cleveland Cavaliers showed they can win a close game without Kyrie Irving on Tuesday night.
Dion Waiters scored 20 points, including 12 in the final 7:29, and the Cavaliers held off a late run to beat the Washington Wizards 95-90.
Cleveland played its first game since Irving sprained his left shoulder Sunday against Toronto. The All-Star point guard, who watched the game from the bench with his left arm in a sling, could miss the next month - and maybe the rest of this season. The Cavaliers are 5-10 without him this season.
Cleveland definitely missed its star player in the beginning, falling behind 11-0 in the game's first two minutes. Waiters did his best Irving imitation with the game on the line by hitting a jumper, converting on a drive, scoring on a dunk and making 6 of 8 free throws.
''Everybody lives for the moment, whether it's knocking down free throws or hitting big shots,'' said Waiters, who hit four foul shots in the final 13.1 seconds to secure the win.
Waiters, selected with the No. 4 pick in the draft, will take on more responsibility with Irving sidelined.
''Coach told me to keep attacking,'' he said. ''Either to get to the basket or find an open teammate. That's what I was trying to do.''
Waiters had no explanation for Cleveland's poor start, which caused Cleveland coach Byron Scott to call timeout and bench all of his starters with the exception of Shaun Livingston, who has moved into the point guard spot with Irving sidelined.
''I can't really answer that,'' Waiters said. ''The way we came out was terrible. It just was ugly.''
John Wall led Washington with a season-high 27 points, but the Wizards ..... (article cut to save bandwidth)
Mar 09 2013
MIAMI (AP) -- So many streaks. And the Miami Heat made sure they all survived.
LeBron James scored 25 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, Dwyane Wade added 22 points and the Heat pulled away late to beat Philadelphia 102-93 on Friday night - their 12th straight regular-season win over Philadelphia, their 13th in a row at home and most importantly, their 17th straight victory overall.
For good measure, it all came on a night where James got to take the final 8 minutes off, a bit of unplanned rest that started with the outcome not exactly decided, either.
''We got better tonight,'' James said. ''And that's the most important thing.''
Chris Bosh scored 16 points, Ray Allen added 12 and Shane Battier scored 11 for the Heat, who matched the 12th-longest winning streak in NBA history and became the first team in the league to clinch a playoff spot this season.
James went to the bench with 8:02 left and with the Heat only leading by eight. Philadelphia never got any closer than that from there, and James wound up logging his 11th-shortest night of the season in terms of minutes, playing just over 34 on Friday.
''Good team win, particularly in the second half,'' Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. ''Our bench was really dialed in.''
Thaddeus Young scored 25 points, Dorell Wright added 14 and Spencer Hawes finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds for the 76ers, who lost their 12th straight on the road. Jrue Holiday added a game-high 13 assists for Philadelphia.
The 76ers got outscored 48-31 in the final 19 minutes.
''I've very proud of them,'' Philadelphia coach Doug Collins said. ''Our guys fought tonight. They did a tremendous job and it's just that Miami is a ..... (article cut to save bandwidth)
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Kobe Bryant's steely determination never wavers. It's his 34-year-old body he sometimes wonders about.
He skipped pre-game shootaround because his shoulders were tight, and he was feeling weary in overtime.
But Bryant found enough energy to hit the tying 3-pointer with 5 seconds to play in regulation, then dunked for the go-ahead basket with 10 seconds left in the extra session, helping the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Toronto Raptors 118-116 on Friday night for their second straight come-from-behind win.
They rallied from 25 points down to beat New Orleans on the road two nights earlier, when Bryant had 42 points and 12 assists. This time, he finished with 41 points and 12 assists, and made 14 of 16 free throws.
''It's like, 'Damn, are you kidding again?''' Bryant said. ''Do we collectively have the energy to do this again, and we did.''
Against the Raptors, the Lakers rallied from a 15-point deficit in regulation and a slow start in overtime to close within a half-game of Utah for the eighth and final Western Conference playoff berth. They also moved a game above .500.
''It feels good to be back within striking distance,'' Bryant said. ''We're just hell-bent on trying to win games.''
Dwight Howard had 24 points and 13 rebounds while going 6 of 13 from the free-throw line as he and Bryant complimented each other well for the second game in a row.
''We know what we're trying to accomplish as a team and we just stuck together,'' Howard said. ''Kobe hit some tough shots and then we got some good stops at the end.''
DeMar DeRozan led six Toronto players in double figures with 28 points. Rudy Gay and Alan Anderson added 17 points ..... (article cut to save bandwidth)