Dwight Howard looks great in Lakers debut, except for whole ‘boxing out Thomas Robinson’ thing (VIDEOS)

22 Oct

After missing the Los Angeles Lakers' first five preseason contests while working his way back from surgery to repair the herniated disk in his lower back that ended his final season with the Orlando Magic, offseason trade acquisition Dwight Howard made his long-awaited Hollywood premiere during the Lakers' Sunday night matchup with the Sacramento Kings at Staples Center ... and while there's still plenty of work to be done before L.A.'s firing on all cylinders, the five-time All-NBA First Team center showed enough to stoke Laker fans' excitement for the coming season.

Howard hadn't seen live game action since hitting the injury list following a 20-point, 22-rebound, six-assist outing for the Magic against the Philadelphia 76ers on April 7, a full 197 days before jumping tip against the Kings. It didn't take him long to get involved — just two minutes into the game, fellow offseason import Steve Nash slipped a bounce pass to new frontcourt mate Pau Gasol at the top of the key, and the 7-foot Spaniard offered Howard the same courtesy he once extended to Andrew Bynum, quickly lofting a lob toward the rim for some of the high-low volleyball that has made the Lakers so difficult to defend down low in recent years.

Howard thanked Pau thusly:

And they were off.

As could be expected, there were some stumbles. Howard turned the ball over five times, bobbled a couple of passes and, as Lakers coach Mike Brown said after the game, "You could tell his timing was off a little bit at times." One of those times? When Howard neglected to box out Kings rookie Thomas Robinson, who thanked Dwight thusly:

Yipes. Maybe file that one away, Dwight — when you play the Kings from here on out, make sure to get an eyeball on the rook when the shot goes up.

Still, Howard's first game back has to be considered a resounding success: 19 points on 8-for-12 shooting, 12 rebounds (four on the offensive glass), four blocks, two assists, 33 minutes of floor time and no apparent ill effects from either the back injury or the lengthy layoff. I like the way Ben Golliver of SI.com's The Point Forward put it: "Howard moved Sunday as if free of both his back pain and the weight of the world, and that was promising enough to make everyone, including the Miami Heat, a little bit more nervous than they were on Saturday."

All told, things resolved about as positively as they could for both sides — Howard looked loose, athletic and nimble, Lakers fans got a glimpse of the kind of game-changer he can be, Kings fans got to watch him get momentarily humbled by a player over whom they're super thrilled, and Sacramento wound up beating L.A. after Kobe Bryant missed two 3-pointers in the final 10 seconds ... which, even though it's just preseason, had to be pretty satisfying for the Kings faithful. It's always nice when everyone goes home happy.

Video package of Howard's first night courtesy of our friends at the National Basketball Association. Video of Gasol-to-Howard courtesy of 1jzo. If the clip of Robinson's follow isn't rocking for you, feel free to check it out elsewhere, thanks to the NBA.

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With Fred Davis out for the year, Redskins plan to re-sign Chris Cooley

21 Oct

The Washington Redskins' offense took a big hit on Sunday when it lost tight end Fred Davis for the season to a torn Achilles tendon during their 27-23 loss to the New York Giants. According to a source who spoke to Mark Maske of the Washington Post, the Redskins will respond to the loss of one of Robert Griffin's primary targets by re-signing Chris Cooley, who caught 428 passes for the team in eight seasons.

Davis led the team with 23 receptions and 30 targets for 312 yards. Cooley, who was released by the Redskins in late August, has said that he believes a return to the Redskins was possible under the right circumstances.

"The way it looks to me is if something happens here, they would love to have me," Cooley told the Post last month. "If Fred gets hurt or something like that, I think I'd be the guy they sign. I think that."

Cooley played in just five games in 2011 before finger and knee injuries ended his season. He caught just eight passes for 65 yards, both career lows. Cooley had said in 2012 that his knee was fine, but the Redskins used him primarily at fullback in the preseason. While Cooley had interest from other NFL teams during his hiatus, he wanted to avoid signing a veteran minimum contract.

"If they call me at some point this season, that's great," Cooley said of the Redskins last month. "If they don't, that's fine too. I'm not going to worry about it too much. I'm happy with what I've done here. If satisfied with my career. If I don't play again, that's how it is. I'll go through the season and see what the offers are. I'll go through free agency and see if there's interest. If I'm not playing at that point, I'll see about whether to retire or not."

For the time being, as long as Cooley passes the physical he'll reportedly take Monday, he'll have to put that retirement on hold. He has familiarity with Griffin after working with him in the preseason, and he could be a real asset if healthy and used in the right ways. Washington's offense with Griffin has been a catch-all of backfield formations, and Cooley has always been a very schematically diverse player.

During his brief time with Griffin, Cooley came away impressed, comparing the rookie quarterback to the late safety Sean Taylor in Griffin's ability to make an immediate impact.

"I haven't seen anything from him [Griffin] to say that he's a rookie," Cooley told the Post in early August. "I never see doubt in that kid's mind."

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Celtics rally from 20 down, beat Knicks in Albany (Yahoo! Sports)

20 Oct

Boston Celtics' Jeff Green, left, is squeezed by New York Knicks' Mychel Thompson (20) during the second half of an NBA preseason game in Albany, N.Y. on Saturday, Oct. 20, 2012. (AP Photo/Tim Roske)

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) -- Jeff Green scored 25 points and the Boston Celtics came back from an early 20-point deficit to beat the New York Knicks 109-98 on Saturday night in a preseason game.

Tags: ALBANY, , , deficit, Jeff Green, , , , rally, ,
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Conley leads Grizzlies to 110-102 win over Hawks (Yahoo! Sports)

14 Oct

Atlanta Hawks guard Jeff Teague (0) shoots and is fouled by Memphis Grizzlies forward Jerome Jordan (44) in the second half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, Oct. 14, 2012, in Memphis, Tenn. The Grizzlies won 110-102. (AP Photo/Nikki Boertman)

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) -- Mike Conley had 18 points, hitting all five of his 3-point attempts, and Marc Gasol added 17 points to lead the Memphis Grizzlies to a 110-102 victory over the Atlanta Hawks in a preseason game Sunday.

Tags: , , , Marc Gasol, Memphis, memphis grizzlies, , , , , , ,
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Smush Parker fires back after Kobe Bryant’s ‘worst’ slam: ‘What I don’t like about him is the man that he is’

12 Oct

On Thursday, BDL Editor Kelly Dwyer brought you the story of Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant — now part of perhaps the best starting five in the NBA this season — speaking, shall we say, unkindly about the somewhat lesser teammates with whom he once shared the Staples Center's stage. While several players caught freewheeling insults, the Black Mamba reserved his most poisonous venom for former starting L.A. point guard Smush Parker, whom Bryant said was "the worst," "shouldn't have been in the NBA" and was allowed to "walk on" to the Lakers because "we were too cheap to pay for a point guard."

Basically, Kobe — from his comfortable perch at/near the top of the NBA — took great glee in throwing rocks down at the head of Parker, who hasn't played in the NBA since the 2007-08 season and to whom scarcely any NBA fans have given more than a "Hey, remember that guy?" thought over the past four or so years, all of which, of course, seems completely necessary and not at all ridiculously petulant.

[Fantasy Basketball '12: Play the official game of NBA.com]

After Bryant's remarks became a topic of much sports-talk discussion on Thursday, Parker had an opportunity to respond, joining the Blog Talk Radio program Hard2Guard Radio to discuss not only the direct insults of his ability, but also his general perceptions of Kobe from the two seasons Smush spent playing alongside him. Parker has spoken out of both sides of his mouth on this issue in the past, calling him "a great guy" and "a great teammate" back in 2007, but describing playing with Bryant as "overrated" two years later.

Now 31, having played overseas since 2009, Parker showed respect for Bryant's game and accomplishments in the 35-minute interview, but made it clear that he's not too big a fan of Kobe as a person. Larry Brown Sports transcribed portions of the interview:

"You can't knock the man's legacy, you can't knock what he's done in basketball. His work ethic is tremendous. There's not an ounce of hate in my blood whatsoever. The guy can play basketball — you've seen that throughout his career.

"What I don't like about him is the man that he is. His personality. How he treats people. I don't like that side of Kobe Bryant."

That side, according to Parker, prevents anybody without a certain established level of accomplishment and bona fides from even speaking to Bryant:

"Midway through the first season, I tried to at least have a conversation with Kobe Bryant — he is my teammate, he is a co-worker of mine, I see his face every day I go in to work — and I tried to talk with him about football. He tells me I can't talk to him. He tells me I need more accolades under my belt before I come talk to him. He was dead serious. [...]

"We're teammates, we talk basketball on the court. [Our talks were] about getting him the ball pretty much."

Well, now, that just sounds ... um, well, that sounds about right, actually. That kind of passes the Black Mamba smell test. If I was not some kind of legendary talent or someone absolutely instrumental in ensuring Kobe Bryant's success, I could totally see him not having much use for me in conversation, and I could certainly see whatever conversations we might have specifically relating to whatever use he might have for me in ensuring success. Then again, a lot of my conversations tend to involve stuff like that pretty good 2005 Babyshambles record and whether it'd be better for robot voices to have a variety of tones and timbres, like fleshies, or if they should all sound like Auto-Tune, so we know them upon first hearing. So maybe I'd deserve it.

And, to some degree, maybe Smush deserved it, too. After all, Parker's a man who, as Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Times puts it, was "known to have a surly attitude [during his playing career] and his professionalism often came into question, including the time he missed a team plane because he overslept." For someone like Kobe, for whom winning is ostensibly the only thing worth waking up to do, having to rely on a player on whom you didn't really know you could rely (let alone a couple of them) was probably maddening. Then again, working day in and day out with someone who basically views you as little more than a detestable pile of carbon probably isn't the most fun thing in the world, either, which makes Smush seem somewhat sympathetic here.

Other chunks of the interview involve Parker that he wasn't actually a surly dude, but was rather "misunderstood" during his career, which, I don't know — some folks, like Metta World Peace, who shares a home borough with Parker, co-sign him, and others, like ex-NBA beat man Ross Siler, who covered the Kobe-and-Smush Lakers for the Los Angeles Daily News, don't. Parker answers Bryant's "didn't belong in the league" criticism by noting that he was "top three in all the categories" on the Lakers' stat sheets during his two seasons with the team, which would be a great point if Kobe's initial argument was something besides, "The rest of my teammates then were terrible." Smush might've checkmated himself with that one.

A relatively reasonable perspective on all of these seems to be to acknowledge that Kobe is right that Smush was significantly less than a perfect backcourt partner on those mid-Aughts Laker teams, that Kobe probably isn't the easiest guy to get along with, that Smush probably didn't make it that easy for a hyper-competitive guy to get along with him, and that Kobe doesn't need to be spending too much time before the start of what should be a title-contending season talking about a roughly replacement-level player he played with five years ago. Does that seem fair to everybody? That about sum it up?

Wait, one more thing, courtesy of friend of the program Nate Jones:

Man, Kobe is good, huh?

Hat-tips to fellow friends of the program Kurt Helin at ProBasketballTalk and Tom Ziller at SB Nation.

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Knicks beat Wizards 108-101 (Yahoo! Sports)

11 Oct

New York Knicks forward Mychel Thompson (20) and Washington Wizards forward Jan Vesely, right, of the Czech Republic, struggle for control of a loose ball during the first quarter of an NBA preseason basketball game in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012. (AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt)

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Steve Novak scored 21 points, connecting on all seven of his 3-point attempts, and the New York Knicks beat the Washington Wizards 108-101 on Thursday night.

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DeShawn Stevenson strikes back at Deron Williams, calls him out for quitting on the Nets

10 Oct

It's not great controversy to state that the New Jersey Nets had a bad season in 2011-12. On top of winning just 22 of their 66 games, they seemed to suffer under the weight of losing and looking ahead to their high-profile move to Brooklyn. Whatever the case, it was not an ideal situation, and there was little energy surrounding the club.

Last week, point guard Deron Williams claimed that several players in the locker room were not focused on the task at hand. Not surprisingly, one of those players was not happy with his comments. The outspoken DeShawn Stevenson, now a member of the Atlanta Hawks, fired back on Twitter (via SLAM):

I hate Fake M----f-----s That Quit On team but talk [expletive] in Espn Mag .

I hear ppl laughing but they ain't talking!!! Win One Shots Fired

If u gonna say ppl Quit say Names I Don't Quit I work hard period when u say that my name in it and I work hard I don't quit!!!

Say Names Put Address on It!!!!

I'm not sure why Stevenson is referring to ESPN the Magazine, but these comments sure do seem directed towards Williams. Stevenson has never been quiet with his opinions, including during his longstanding, somewhat ridiculous feud with LeBron James. No one should expect him to back down, particularly when his effort has (indirectly) been called into question.

Really, this was poor form from Williams even if his comments were 100 percent accurate. Questioning teammates' effort is effectively questioning their commitment to their careers, which is the kind of thing sure to rub people the wrong way. Plus, the modern NBA is such that Williams could play with many of these guys again, if he's not playing with them this year, as well. (As point of reference, he also played with Stevenson in Utah.) The question is if it's more important to speak one's mind than to foster positive relationships.

Williams is trying to be a leader and get people to give their all. But, as always, there's a thin line between motivating and being a bit of a jerk. Stevenson shouldn't have voiced his displeasure in public, either, but it's hard to argue he wasn't provoked.

Tags: DeShawn, , , , , weight,
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Love starts new contract with new goal: playoffs (Yahoo! Sports)

10 Oct

In this Oct. 1, 2012 photo, Minnesota Timberwolves NBA star basketball player Kevin Love spins a ball for the team photographer during media day in Minneapolis. Love is beginning the first season of a four-year, $60 million contract extension and says when

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- The sweat and sacrifice that Kevin Love put himself through over the last four years to reshape his body and his game have brought him to this point.

Tags: body, , , goal, , ,
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Love starts new contract with new goal: playoffs (Yahoo! Sports)

10 Oct

In this Oct. 1, 2012 photo, Minnesota Timberwolves NBA star basketball player Kevin Love spins a ball for the team photographer during media day in Minneapolis. Love is beginning the first season of a four-year, $60 million contract extension and says when

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- The sweat and sacrifice that Kevin Love put himself through over the last four years to reshape his body and his game have brought him to this point.

Tags: body, , , goal, Kevin Love, minneapolis, , , , ,
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Red Sox to step up talks with Ortiz next week – David Ortiz | BOS

09 Oct
Joe McDonald of ESPNBoston.com was told by a team source that the Red Sox will begin serious conversations with impending free agent David Ortiz at "some point next week."
Tags: ESPNBoston, , , , , ,
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