glen davis rockets 2014

The NBA returned to game action after the All-Star hiatus this week. There was a supersized return, superhuman performance, and a super-underwhelming trade deadline (unless you’re an Indiana Pacers fan).

Let’s take a look back.

Dwight Howard Returns To Los Angeles

dwight howards lakers return rockets february 2014

Dwight Howard made his first return to Los Angeles since spurning the Lakers and signing with the Houston Rockets last summer. For a fan base that was extremely dissatisfied with the All-Star center’s performance in LA last year, the Lakers fans sure seemed angry when Howard left town.

It was the first time that the Lakers were unable to resign a marquee free agent, and like a pretty girl who gets dumped for the first time, the fanbase didn’t know exactly how to take it.

Some fans said good riddance to Dwight and pointed out his deficiencies at the free throw line. Others feel as if they missed out on retaining the services of a dominant big man.

Regardless of how each individual fan felt, the collective boos rained down on Howard starting in warm-ups and were unrelenting throughout the game, spiking each time he touched the ball.

Howard came out of the gate amped up and ready to respond to the hostile crowd. On the first Rockets possession, Howard hit a lefty hook in the lane over Kaman. On the other end, Howard blocked the first Laker shot attempt by Kendall Marshall.

Ryan Kelly collected the rebound and went outside to launch a 3-point attempt that failed as Howard collected the rebound. Howard posted up again on Kaman this time rolling baseline for the dunk. After a demonstrative plea for the and-1, Howard was assessed a technical foul and the crowd loved it.

In the first two minutes of the game, Howard had amassed four points, a block, a rebound, and an assist. For someone who is known as a people pleaser, Howard took the boos from the crowd surprisingly well and even seemed to feed off the energy all night.

With a 104-75 lead at the end of the third, Howard and the rest of the Rockets starters got the fourth quarter off. In just three quarters Howard had put up 20 points on 9-14 shooting to go along with 10 rebounds, two steals, an assist and three blocks. In the end the Rockets prevailed, 134-108, and had extended their win streak to eight games.

Late in the game with the Rockets blowout assured, Howard was joking with teammates and fans behind the bench as the arena swelled with chants of, “Howard sucks!”

Whether they were displeased with his lack of loyalty or perceived disrespect of the Lakers tradition is unclear, but they certainly could not have been referring to his play on this night.

Kevin Love Is Dominating

kevin love shooting david west february 2014

Appropriately, Kevin Love has dominated this month. The Minnesota Timberwolves power forward has put together quite a stretch of games as of late as his team fights for a playoff spot. In the last two weeks, Love has been producing at a level even beyond that which earned him a spot as a starter for the West All-Stars.

Since sitting out a game against Portland on Feb. 8, Love has been averaging 35.5 points, 12.3 rebounds, 4.5 3-pointers and 5 assists per game. Compare that to his season averages, which are 26.4 points, 13.3 boards, 2.4 3s and 4.1 assists .

Love has seen an increase in his opportunities over the last two weeks with both Kevin Martin and Nikola Pekovic missing significant time due to injury.

Even though he has been called on to take more shots and bear more of the scoring load, his percentages have actually increased. Love is shooting 53/49/94 (FG/3PT/FT) over the last four games compared to 46/38/82 for the season.

 Love’s dominance crescendoed in Utah on Saturday when he recorded his first career triple-double against the lowly Utah Jazz. The Jazz were understaffed in the paint with Derrick Favors missing the game to injury, so the task of defending the so-hot-he’s-burning Love fell to Enes Kanter.

Kanter had little answer to the offensive onslaught that Love supplied. Love finished with 37 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists. He also shot 6-10 from 3-point range and only committed one turnover against his 10 assists.

It was Kevin Love’s fourth straight 30-plus point performance, which tied him with Kevin Garnett for the franchise record for consecutive games of 30 or more.

If Love can continue to produce when Kevin Martin and Nikola Pekovic return, then Minnesota might just finish with its first winning record since the 2004-05 season.

2014 NBA Trade Deadline

danny granger february 2014

Thursday marked the NBA Trade Deadline, and once again it came and went without some of the biggest, most talked about names making a move. Rajon Rondo, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Love, Omer Asik, Luol Deng and Kyle Lowry all had rumors surrounding them that ultimately fell through.

What happened this year is the same as what has happened each year under this collective bargaining agreement: teams shift minor assets and shed salary for picks. Again, this year very few impact moves were made on Thursday, but there are a few moves that could have an impact on the playoff picture.

Shortly before his Lakers were set to take on the Rockets in LA, Steve Blake got the news that he was being shipped to Golden State. The Warriors sent back Kent Bazemore and MarShon Brooks. Blake will bolster the Warriors backcourt and with his playoff experience and general grit will be a great asset to Golden State down the stretch.

The Cav’s interim GM David Griffin made a move to bolster, at least temporarily, the prospects of the Cavs making the playoffs. Cleveland dealt Earl Clark, Henry Sims, and two second-round picks to Philadelphia for big man Spencer Hawes.

The Cavs are in the midst of a six-game winning streak and the addition of Hawes and his sharpshooting opens up the paint for Cleveland’s dynamic backcourt duo of Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters.

Hawes’ contract is up at the end of this season, but his addition could pull the Cavs firmly into the playoffs. If that happens, it might be hard for Griffin to not offer the big man a new deal.

In a three-way deal between the Denver Nuggets, Philadelphia 76ers and Washington Wizards, Andre Miller ended up in Washington. In the deal, Jan Vesely went from Washington to Denver along with Eric Maynor from the Sixers.

The big winner here is Washington. Miller has veteran leadership and will serve the Wizards well as a backup to John Wall. With the Wizards firmly in the playoff picture in the East, Miller might just be the piece that secures home court in the first round.

The deals mentioned earlier all affect the playoff picture in each conference, but no deal has as many implications for the championship picture as Evan Turner to the Pacers. The Sixers sent their leading scorer in Turner along with LaVoy Allen to Indiana in exchange for Danny Granger and his expiring contract.

Turner will go from starter and leading scorer to bench player with the Pacers, but he will undoubtedly provide a scoring punch to Indiana’s second unit that it has been lacking.

If Turner plays as well as he did in Philadelphia then, Indiana will have a tough decision to make this summer when both Lance Stephenson and Turner’s contracts come due.

Glen Davis To the Clippers

glen davis andrea bargnani 2014

In other player movement news, Glen Davis was bought out by the Magic and released to waivers. At the time of publication, it was still unclear where Davis would end up, but it had been reported that he is eyeing a reunion with former coach Doc Rivers in LA.

The move makes sense for the Clippers, who are as thin as it gets at power forward after dealing away Antawn Jamison and Byron Mullens at the trade deadline.

Jason Collins Becomes NBA's First Openly Gay Player

jason collins february 2014

Also on Sunday, Jason Collins was signed by the Brooklyn Nets to fill the space created by the trade of Reggie Evans. Collins received a lot of attention last year when he announced that he is gay. Collins now becomes the first openly gay athlete in the four major sports in the US.

Collins joins a Nets team that is very familiar with what he brings to the table. Collins had previously played with Joe Johnson, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce as well as former Nets guard and current Nets coach, Jason Kidd.


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