It's a good thing the new CBA prevents NBA stars from holding their teams hostage. Orlando fans and Dwight Howard's Magic teammates must feel so relieved.
Minnesota Timberwolves (13-15) vs. Orlando Magic (17-11) at Amway Center
Superstars forcing trades is nothing new.
In 2004-05, Vince Carter wanted to be traded away from the Toronto Raptors. In order to "assist" in this effort, Carter famously began quitting on the Raptors. If you look at the stats, this quitting bears out on the numbers. He took five fewer shot attempts per game (with a scoring average of 7 points fewer); his rebounding average went from 4.8 to 3.3; his defensive rating went from 102 to 109; and his WS/48 went from .103 to .068.
Funny, after Carter was traded to New Jersey, all of his stats went back up to his career averages (and higher in many cases).
Is Dwight Howard doing the same thing in Orlando?
The stats say no. His production is on-point with his career averages, including his .491 free throw percentages. It's nice to know that while Howard is holding his team hostage by not accepting an extension and by talking about potential trade destinations, he has not stooped to Carter's level.
Howard, while he is still with Orlando, will play the Timberwolves tonight in Florida.
Ryan Anderson has been referred to as "Kevin Love-Lite" by some fans, but I think Anderson will need to grow out his beard for at least another twelve weeks before he can be given that title.
Projected Starting Lineups
C: Nikola Pekovic vs. Dwight Howard
PF: Kevin Love vs. Ryan Anderson
SF: Wesley Johnson vs. Hedo Turkoglu
SG: J.J. Barea vs. Jason Richardson
PG: Ricky Rubio vs. Jameer Nelson
Even the pixie dust of the Unicorn could not overcome Linsanity on Saturday night in Minneapolis.
Last 5 Games
Orlando Magic: (3rd in Southeast, 4 gms behind Miami; 6th in East)
Sat, Feb 4: Win at Indiana 85-81
Mon, Feb 6: Loss vs. LA Clippers 102-107 (OT)
Wed, Feb 8: Win vs. Miami 102-89
Fri, Feb 10: Loss vs. Atlanta 87-89 (OT)
Sat, Feb 11: Win at Milwaukee 99-94
Minnesota Timberwolves: (5th in Northwest, 8 1/2 gms behind OKC; 11th in West, 2 gms behind 8th seed)
Sat, Feb 4: Win vs. Houston 100-91
Tue, Feb 7: Win vs. Sacramento 86-84
Wed, Feb 8: Loss at Memphis 80-85
Fri, Feb 10: Loss vs. Dallas 97-104
Sat, Feb 11: Loss vs. New York 98-100
All joking aside, Luke Ridnour is a great guy and I hope that all is well with his family. He's been through a lot with his wife and children over the past year and my thoughts go out to them.
Luke Ridnour - Out due to personal reasons
If you're a Magic fan, you probably do not want to see too much of this at the ends of games.
Darko Milicic is expected to return tonight, but he is not expected to start the game against Orlando.
Dwight Howard, when he is not trying to force a trade, has said that he wants the ball more late in close games. Of course, given his FT%, there might be a reason why Stan Van Gundy is keeping the ball away from him in crunch time.
If you see Nikola Pekovic grab a defensive rebound, you may want to take a picture. It doesn't happen often.
- Only three players in the NBA this season have taken more than 5 three point attempts per game and shoot higher than .400 from three point range: Anthony Morrow (5.3 and .420), Stephen Curry (5.5 and .434) and Ryan Anderson (6.7 and .423)
- Last season, the Timberwolves won 20.7% of their games (17 of 82). The Wolves only need to win one more game this season to win a higher percentage of games in '11-'12
- Nikola Pekovic has the highest Offensive Rebound Rate (17.2) in the NBA. Anderson Varejao is second with 15.6. Pekovic's Defensive Rebound Rate is 14.6, which puts him behind Kyle Lowry (14.8), Gary Forbes (16.2) and Jason Kidd (16.5)
- Dwight Howard is 2nd in the NBA in overall Rebound Rate (22.9), behind only Marcus Camby (23.1). Kevin Love is currently 10th with (19.3).
- The Wolves turned the ball over a combined 51 times in two games against Dallas and New York. They have the 3rd highest TO/game average in the NBA (16.4), which is behind only the Knicks (16.4) and Oklahoma City (17.0)
- Despite the addition of Ricky Rubio, who is 4th in the NBA in assists at 8.7 per game, the Wolves have the 5th lowest team AST/G average in the NBA at 18.4. The second highest Timberwolf is Luke Ridnour, with 3.4 assists per game
Stan Van Gundy had this reaction to Nicki Minaj's "Exorcism" performance at the Grammy Awards.