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David Aldridge

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Forget the hair and the histrionics, Dennis Rodman was the premier defensive forward of his generation.
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

Making the case for those on the outside looking in


Posted Apr 5 2010 6:32AM

This morning in Indianapolis, on the eve of the NCAA Division I men's national championship game between Duke and Butler, some of the worst-kept secrets in the basketball universe will be revealed, with the official announcement that Karl Malone and Scottie Pippen will join the 1992 U.S. men's Olympic basketball team as Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame inductees -- along with, if various reports are accurate, the late, great Dennis Johnson, Lakers owner Jerry Buss, legendary high school coach Bob Hurley, Sr., and four-time WNBA champion Cynthia Cooper.

All deserving. And, assuming the news on Johnson being elected to the Hall is true, that will save me several paragraphs of ranting about the injustice of keeping DJ out a second longer than he's already been. That the player whom Larry Bird called his best teammate, and who was directly in the mix for four championships (three with the Celtics, one with Seattle in '79, when he and Gus Johnson teamed to destroy the defending champion Bullets in five games), took this long to be recognized by the Hall is a black eye on the Hall, not on D.J., who died in 2007.

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But Johnson was only one of several shining lights that still need to be turned on in the game's most hallowed house.

There's always someone agitating to separate the Hall into professional, collegiate and high school categories. Would it make more sense for the NBA to have its own building, with its own selectors and inductees? Sure. But having all of basketball under one roof isn't that bad, either. It's just that the selection process needs improving: more voters, and more transparency, something Hall Chair Jerry Colangelo is trying to remedy, starting with today's announcement. (As you read the following, in the interests of full disclosure, it should be noted that I have been a Hall voter in the past.)

Right now, the Hall has a rotating body of 24 selectors -- two 12-person committees. The first, a standing committee, winnows the candidates selected from four screening committees -- women's, international, veterans' and American -- into a list of finalists. The second committee then votes on the finalists. A candidate needs the votes of 18, or 75 percent, of those votes in order to win induction. But the voting is done in secret, with no get-together of voters in a room to argue it out. Colangelo doesn't want to change that, but he does want the vote totals made public, so that fans know who got close and who still has a ways to go.

In addition, Colangelo wants fans to have a vote for the Hall, starting next year. How much the fans' collective vote would count is still being worked out.

But in the meantime, we can continue to argue on behalf of those who are currently on the outside looking in. Johnson's previous omission was the most egregious, but there are still a lot of people who should be in Springfield that haven't gotten the proper momentum for their cause. Here are but a few:

Dennis Rodman

(forward, 1986-2000, Detroit, Chicago, San Antonio, Los Angeles, Dallas)

It's a longshot that the Worm will ever get his day in the sun in Springfield any time soon. Too much craziness, too many dye jobs, tats and piercings, too much time in rehab, drifting from one reality to the next. But Rodman's body of work as the premier defensive power forward of his generation -- yeah, I said it -- will only grow as his antics recede from memory. A more prime candidate for a future Veterans' Committee vote has never come down the pike.

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Dennis Rodman
Jonathan Daniel/NBAE via Getty Images

Rodman's seven seasons leading the NBA in rebounding, six seasons leading in offensive rebounding, four leading in total rebounds, seven NBA All-Defensive first team honors, two NBA Defensive Player of the Year honors and five championships with the Pistons and Bulls simply overwhelms any legitimate argument against his belonging in the Hall. It overwhelmed my initial skepticism.

A HOFer has to ace three criteria: 1) Were they dominant in their time, at their position? 2) Did they contribute to their team's winning? (That is not the same as winning championships; Wilt only won a couple of NBA rings, and no one with functioning grey matter would argue against him.) 3) Were they the clear best at any one skill (e.g., scoring, rebounding, assists, individual defense)?

How could you argue anything other than yes, yes, and yes for Rodman?

In the last 30 years, no one -- not Karl Malone, not David Robinson, not Hakeem Olajuwon, not Dikembe Mutombo, not Patrick Ewing or Ben Wallace or Tim Duncan or Dwight Howard -- has grabbed more rebounds than Rodman's 1,530 in 1991-92. Or Rodman's 1,367 in '03-'94. Or Rodman's 1,201 in '97-'98. Only Moses Malone, with 1,444 boards in 1978-79, Truck Robinson (1,288 in '77-'78), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1,383 in '75-'76), Elvin Hayes (1,463 in '73-'74) and Wilt (who grabbed 1,526 boards in his final NBA season, 1972-73, at the age of 36 -- geez, the Dipper was a bad man) have numbers that compare with Rodman's in the last 40 years.

Yes, Rodman coasted on reputation in terms of man-to-man defense for many years late in his career, as referees bought into his flopping and diving much more than they should have. Yes, he dynamited the Lakers in less than one season, and even Mark Cuban had no use for him at the end. But when it came to going to get the ball, no one was Rodman's equal in his time. No one.

Tex Winter

(coach, 1951-2008; head coach, Marquette, Kansas State, Washington, Northwestern, Long Beach State in college; Houston Rockets, NBA; assistant coach, Bulls, Lakers, NBA.)

This one is simple. Tex Winter designed the Triple-Post Offense, which is now known as the triangle, in college. It worked well enough to get Winter's Kansas State teams to the Final Four, twice. He didn't win an NCAA title with the triangle, but Phil Jackson, upon becoming the Bulls' coach in 1991, decided that Chicago would turn to the triangle, and that Winter, a Bulls' assistant coach hired by GM Jerry Krause, to get more out of MIchael Jordan's teammates as well as ease the scoring load upon him. Jordan resisted; Jackson insisted.

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Tex Winter
Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

Ultimately, Jackson won the argument. And they all went on to win six titles.

When Jackson went to Los Angeles, he took Winter and the triangle with him. Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant hadn't accomplished much beforehand. With Jackson and the triangle, they won three straight titlesf, and Jackson and Bryant won another last season. That is, by my count, 10 titles in the last 19 seasons for the triangle, Tex Winter's creation. He was brutally honest about the shortcomings of all the players who (more than) occasionally fought against the triangle; writers both local and national knew for a decade where to go if they wanted to know what was really going on in Chicago and L.A. But a stroke suffered last season has silenced Winter from most, at the age of 88. Our loss.

Winter is already the recipient of the John Bunn Award, given out by the Hall for lifetime achievement in basketball. But he should be in the Hall for his coaching achievements, which stand on their own, as evidenced by Winter's selection to the Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame this year.

Edwin B. Henderson

(athlete, educator, author)

E.B. Henderson is known as the "Father of Black Basketball" by historians and family members, as well he should. Henderson, who died in 1977, is generally regarded as the first person to teach the game of basketball, which he learned while at Harvard at the turn of the 20th century, to African-American men on a large scale. He began teaching the game in his native Washington, D.C., when he returned from college, and organized both the first organization for African-American coaches and referees (in 1905) and the first athletic league for African-Americans (in 1906).

He played for the Washington YMCA 12th Streeters, a long-ago team that predated the more famous Harlem Renaissance and other black teams that competed for championships against one another, having been barred from competing against white teams that played in the northeast. The 12th Streeters won the "Colored" Basketball Championship in 1910 and 1911, after he'd left the team. He became an author, chronicalling the achievements of black athletes in one of the earliest such anthologies, in 1910. He then penned the first formal scholarly book on African-American participation in athletics, "The Negro in Sports," in 1939.

Henderson's family has waged a long crusade to get him inducted into the Hall. It is stuck. It should be unstuck as soon as possible.

Fortunately, the achievements of pioneers such as Henderson are now chronicled on websites like Claude Johnson's Black Fives, and in books like Ron Thomas's "They Cleared the Lane: the NBA's Black Pioneers." Thomas, a former award-winning sportswriter who now teaches at Morehouse College in Atlanta, wrote of Henderson: "one must wonder if Elgin Baylor and Dave Bing, who graduated from Spingarn High School in D.C., would hold their place in the Hall of Fame if Henderson hadn't made basketball an essential part of Washington's public athletic program."

Dribbbles

• Not a great weekend in Milwaukee.

On Saturday came the cruelest blow, a freak accident -- it was an accident, nothing intentional or dirty by Amare Stoudemire -- that will likely cost Andrew Bogut the rest of his breakout season. Though the Bucks aren't officially ruling him out for the playoffs, after 3 1/2 hours of MRIs Sunday, surgery on the elbow was scheduled for Monday, and that will probably be it for Bogut.

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Andrew Bogut
Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images

He was in the midst of the kind of season (15.9 points, 10.2 rebounds, 2.54 blocks, 52 percent shooting) that helps take off some of that unrelenting pressure of being the first pick in the 2006 draft. The Bucks have been one of the league's best stories this season, creating a kind of buzz ("Fear the Deer" that is starting to pick up steam around the NBA cognoscenti) that hasn't been around Milwaukee in years.

The Bucks only have to beat the Bulls Tuesday night to clinch a playoff spot. But Milwaukee obviously goes from a team no one wanted to play in the postseason to a team that will need to adjust on the fly.

"If you think about the start of the season, I don't think many people gave us a chance to be successful," GM John Hammond said Sunday night. "So we've kind of overcome the odds once. Now, that was with Andrew. But here we go again. I would think people will say again that we don't have much of a chance without him. And I hope that we can, again, prove people wrong."

The Bucks will have to rely on Salmons, and rookie Brandon Jennings, and veteran Jerry Stackhouse to pick up some of the offensive load in Bogut's absence. Defensively, Kurt Thomas will likely start at center, and Thomas brings more than a decade's worth of low-post experience and savvy to the fight. Dan Gadzuric and Primoz Brezec will get more minutes behind Thomas, and Scott Skiles will surely come up with a wrinkle or two.

But Milwaukee isn't as good without the Big Aussie. No point arguing otherwise. And no point accusing Stoudemire of something dirty. Two guys, going full-bore down the court, sometimes produces sadness.

"It was an accident," Hammond said. "Andrew's hand just kind of slipped off the rim ..."

• To the surprise of absolutely no one who's paid attention over the years, you can expect Mike Dunleavy to have to take Donald Sterling to court in order to get all of the remaining $5.4 million he's owed on his contract. A source reveals that the Clippers owner is balking at writing the check he owes Dunleavy after firing him in February.

Unfortunately, this isn't the first time a coach removed by Sterling has had to seek redress in the courts; both Bill Fitch and Bob Weiss had to go that route after being dismissed. The Clippers actually sued Fitch after firing him, claiming he was content to take the team's money without looking for another head coaching job quickly enough. Sterling's deposition in the Fitch case was obtained by the Boston Globe, which reported that Sterling a) claimed he had nothing to do with firing Fitch, b) had no role in drafting or signing players, and c) had no idea what a guaranteed contract was.

d) Why is this guy still allowed to run an NBA team?

Top O' the World, Ma!

(Last week's ranking in brackets)

1) Cleveland [1] (60-17): Home court through the playoffs, but have to win their last five to become the second team in league history (Bulls, 1996-98) to post consecutive 65-win regular seasons.

2) Orlando [2] (54-23): One win from clinching the Southeast Division and second place in the east.

3) L.A. Lakers [3] (55-22): Ron-Ron starting to rack up the Ts at the worst possible time of the season.

4) Phoenix [5] (50-27): Improbably, this year's Suns score more than any in franchise history.

5) Utah [4] (50-27): Wanted to believe you, Jazz. You said you weren't in awe of the Lakers any more. Didn't look that way Friday.

6) Denver [6] (50-27): Sad: George Karl's significant other says he's out for the first round of the playoffs.

7) Atlanta [7] (49-27): Close out with light road schedule, but poor play down the stretch away from Philips has to be addressed before the start of the playoffs.

8) Dallas [8] (50-27): E-fense: since the end of their 13-game win streak, Mavericks are 5-6, giving up 104.6 per game.

9) Oklahoma City [9] (48-28): Clinched first playoff berth in five years, and first since moving. Incredibly, Thunder is just 1 1/2 games out of SECOND in the west, behind Utah, Denver, Dallas and Phoenix.

10) Boston [10] (48-28): Ominous: Celtics' 15 home losses second-worst among playoff teams.

11) San Antonio [13] (47-29): Can't jump on the bandwagon again, but Spurs looked pretty good in L.A., and Ginobili has been sensational of late.

12) Portland [12] (47-30): Power of the West: Blazers en route to a 50-win season, eighth-place finish.

13) Milwaukee [11] (42-34): Bucks will not go far in the playoffs, obviously, without Bogut.

14) Miami [14] (43-34): (47-29): Major props for the job Erik Spoelstra is doing on the bench this season.

15) Charlotte [15] (40-36): Bobcats letting the Bulls hang around and get healthy.

Team of the Week

(3/29/10-4/3/10)

Miami (3-0): Heat's longest win streak in three years coincides with stifling defense (less than 83 points per game allowed during the overall eight-game win streak, only one game of more than 100 points in the last 15 games). Heat have won 14 of 17 and would likely prefer a potential playoff rematch with the Hawks (Miami is 3-1 against Atlanta this season) than one against the Celtics (Miami is winless in three games against Boston).

Team of the Weak

Sacramento (0-3): Kings shouldn't hang their heads at how they're ending the season; injuries and youth have conspired to sap their promising start. But the slump has tightened up what seemed to be a cakewalk toward Rookie of the Year honors for Tyreke Evans, who now faces a fight from the likes of Brandon Jennings and Stephen Curry.

Nobody Asked Me, But ...

Why get stressed out if LeBron and D-Wade don't want to play in the World Championships?

Look, for some reason, we're the exact opposite of the rest of the world. The rest of the world treats the World Championships with much more reverence and as much more important than the Olympics; we do the opposite. We don't seem to know when the Worlds are, and we never seem to send our best teams (let's not bring up the 2002 U.S. team that cratered in Indianapolis, finishing sixth). And, last week, James and Wade both said they were likely to sit out the Worlds, which will begin in Turkey in late August -- both citing their impending free agency, but James also citing a role in a movie, and Wade citing his stormy divorce proceedings.

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Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

USA Basketball uberboss Jerry Colangelo then told Yahoo! Sports that there were no "free passes" to participating on the team in the future, including the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. And James responded Sunday, telling reporters before the Cavaliers' game with the Celtics that he didn't "respect" Colangelo's statement, because of James's prior commitments to the U.S. team, which began in 2003 and continued through the 2008 gold medal performance in China.

Chill out, everybody.

I'm well aware that commerce drives the forces behind international competition as much as anything these days. There's big money to be made, both by USA Basketball and by the individual players participating, when they expand their markets internationally. So it's understandable that USA Basketball wants the most star-studded team possible on top of the most talented group that Mike Krzyzewski can coach effectively.

But these commitments can't be open-ended and forever. At some point, James, Wade and company will have to cut back on their international play, just as Pau Gasol and Dirk Nowitzki (and, it would appear, Yao Ming) have had to do. You can't play 11 months straight, year after year, going from a deep NBA playoff run right to practice and games for country, without it taking a toll. These guys need some time off every once in a while, and if two Olympics are all we're going to get out of James and Wade, welll, that's about that Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan could give as well.

Besides, the United States has rarely had the kind of depth willing and available to make the four- and five-year commitments that Colangelo demands.

If this accelerates the use of Kevin Durant, or Eric Gordon, or Derrick Rose, on the U.S. team, that's not a bad thing. Kobe Bryant seems to want to play for the U.S. team as long as Krzyzewski is involved, and the U.S. still has a prime-time nucleus: Chris Paul, Dwight Howard, Deron Williams and Chris Bosh, with David Lee, Kevin Love and Russell Westbrook ready to assume larger roles in the future. (You can be sure that Blake Griffin and Stephen Curry will wear red, white and blue in the near future, too.)

Colangelo seems uniquely available to get the NBA's elite to sign up for long tours of duty, and the last time I saw Jerry, during All-Star weekend, he looked great and didn't look like he was going anywhere; in fact, he's excited about the "Summer of Basketball" in New York, with the U.S. team training for Turkey in late July, and the Hall of Fame ceremonies moved up from September to early August.

Eras end. We'll all move on.

... And Nobody Asked You, Either

Happy to get so many responses to last week's question from Patrick Bray. If you remember, Patrick asked, if you could choose anyone in the league, who would you choose to:

1) Take the final shot to win a game

2) Defend that player on the final shot

3) Run the pick and roll (players have to be on the same team)

4) Come over helpside for a block

5) Kick out a wide open 3 to

6) Post up in clutch time

7) Defend that player in the post

8) Beat their player off the dribble

9) Be injured but still help his team the most

10) Draw up a play for the final shot (Coach)

My answers were::

1) Kobe Bryant.

2) A healthy Tayshaun Prince, or, failing that, the Bucks' Luc Mbah a Moute.

3) Jason Kidd and Dirk Nowtizki, by a hair over Kevin Durant and Nick Collison.

4) Josh Smith.

5) Ray Allen.

6) Dwight Howard.

7) Anderson Varejao.

8) Chris Paul.

9) Manu Ginobili.

10) Larry Brown.

I asked for dissenting opinions, and you gave some great ones. Here are some of the best:

He also thinks I need a haircut. From Jonathan Chay:

Yes, yes and yes. That applies to almost the entire list of players/coach you named. Great choice in Ginobilli and a couple of no-brainers in Kobe and Ray Ray. Interesting choices in the coach and CP3 (over D-Wade?) and Durant/Collison (over Williams/Booz?).Whatever, those are debatable and no one is much better than the other.

But seriously? Howard in the post in crunch time? Not Timmy D? Not Bosh? Not Amar'e? I'm very disappointed by your choice...you are such a good presenter and am totally shocked by this choice. Also, won't Howard but superiorly better than Varejao to defend in the post? Hell, even Shaq would be great.

Yeah, I think Superman is that good now. As I said, I'd never let him shoot, but if you're asking who's most effective, I say Howard.

Didn't you see what I just wrote? From Christopher Corlew:

How can you say Dwight? I'll say it on two years, when he gets a post game or least learns how to hit a free throw (you even said you'd foul him. Anyone shooting 3% from the line or whatever his career average is isn't the best for crunch time). Posting up in crunch time, I'd go with...yikes, there's almost no one anymore. I'd Pau Gasol, but he's still a bit soft in the clutch. You know, I might actually say Kobe. He's got as good a post game as anyone in the L right now and he's proven in crunch time

See above.

Somewhere, there is a Dwight Howard fan! From Lenard Perkins:

3) Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer. Jerry Sloan is the master of the pick and roll.

4) Who else but Dwight Howard.

8) I don't think there is a more deceptive player with the ball than Dwyane Wade. Did you see his nightmares never sleep commercial?

10) George Karl. I watched him do it for years. Not only at the ends of games but at the end of every quarter.

The ATL will be recognized! From Dave McCrea:

I think Jamal Crawford is the best off the dribble scorer in the league.

And I'd want Carmelo posting up in crunch time, doesn't matter who's guarding him, has many more ways to score than Dwight!

Jamal isn't a bad answer. Think 'Melo is much tougher facing the basket and attacking off the dribble than posting, though.

Oh, sure, if you like that "winning games" sort of thing. From Eugene Chung:

Mr. Aldridge, I have a disagreement on your #10. You put Coach Larry Brown. There's a better coach. Coach Phil Jackson. In the play for the final shot, basically Coach Jackson always has a huge circle around the player named "KOBE BRYANT!!!" This would be the greatest clutch play of all time...and he still uses it. So I dunno, I don't think anyone would disagree with me, considering his 6+ clutch shots this season.

There is a certain amount of logic to this position.

Ich Bin Ein Baller. From John Paul Vega:

Being a huge MAVS fan, and an even bigger Dirk fan, I want the ball in Dirty Dirk's hand to end a game, even if I have Kobe to call on. Why? He's seven feet tall, can see over the double team, can drive left or right when facing down his man from the top of the key, and has the sweetest jumper this side of Boston (heellllooooo Jesus Shuttlesworth!) and you have to love his game-winning tongue wag / shirt tug...

I know that earlier this season there was a debate raging around this very question. Kobe, it was shown, has more game-winners, but also has taken more. Dirk, however, makes more of the ones he takes and is the most accurate shooter in the league when it comes to game-winning shots.

Also, I'm happy with your nod to Dirk and Kidd for the question about the pick and roll (and was overjoyed that you didn't choose Nash and Amare..though that one handed bounce pass of Nash's with either hand to a slicing Stud-emire is a thing of beauty)...but I think the MAVS best pick and roll combo is Dirk and the Jet Terry. Why? Because both Dirk and Jet can knock down the open jumper and get to the rim.

I should have thought harder about Dirk and Jet. That is even harder to stop than Kidd-Dirk.

Je mappelle Thabo. From Christopher Smyth:

...Thought I'd chime in with my two-cents on The List and give an Englishman's perspective. I'm comparatively new to the game and don't have as much access to the games as my American brethren, but from what I've seen, these are my guys:

1) Brandon Roy. Admittedly, Kobe is the only one you'd ever want here, but you called dibs. Perhaps I've got some Blazer bias here, but B-Roy gets it done in the clutch, and I know he'll hit a huge Finals shot at some point in his career.

2) Thabo Sefolosha. If it's Kobe or Roy taking the shot, then this guy has to be the one wrapped around him like a blanket in winter. He seems to do a good job at making life tough for the All-Stars and his hustle is mighty impressive.

3) Nash and STAT. My inexperience might show through here, but isn't this the go-to move of the best attacking big/small combo in the league? Nash is phenomenal (and a great interviewee) and A'mare should be in a museum for his unholy physical attributes.

4) LeBron James. Now, he's not my favourite player in the league (I'd take Kobe/KD/D-Wade/'Melo over him in the jumbo-super-megastar stakes), but a guy has gotta appreciate how thrilling it is to see him appear from nowhere and swat the rock away. All victims are unsuspecting

5) Derek Fisher. Perhaps not an obvious choice, but if Kobe doesn't mind giving him the ball, who am I to argue? He wouldn't hesitate.

6) LaMarcus Aldridge. Now I've heard Bosh is pretty handy down low, but LA is my choice. He has a sweet stroke, a variety of moves and seems to hit nothing but net all the time. Little chance for a block too. Would like to see him get the big shot instead of Roy on occasion.

7) Kenyon Martin. The drop-off the Nuggets have suffered without him is all the evidence I'm gonna need on this one.

8) D-Wade. Any number of speedster PG's would probably work here, but it's near the end of the list and there's no love for Wade yet. Although the way Durant went by Martell Webster last night as if he wasn't there gets him an honourable mention.

9) Kobe Bryant. Manu is a great shout and scary good (especially now he appears healthier), but he misses too much time for my liking. Scoring at will with broken fingers is part of Kobe's legacy, and he needed to make my list too.

10) Gregg Popovich. I confess to knowing next-to-nothing when it comes to coaches and their talent at drawing up plays in-game. Does Phil Jackson draw anything up or simply say 'Give it to 24'? My choice is purely out of respect for the continued success of the Spurs and my assumption that Popovich must be doing something right.

Good call on K-Mart. Pop, too. They run some beautiful stuff at the ends of games. Okay, I've changed my mind. It's Pop. Although the Cavs' game-winning basket against Milwaukee on Wednesday -- which the Cleveland Plain Dealer's Brian Windhorst says was drawn up by LeBron -- was pretty good, too.

Please keep 'em coming: daldridgetnt@gmail.com.

MVP Watch

(3/29/10-4/3/10)

LeBron James (30.7 ppg, 9.7 rpg, 7.3 apg, .471 FG, .643 FT): Didn't have a signature game against the Celtics Sunday, missing eight free throws, including two in the final 16 seconds, and all nine of his three-point attempts. But he led the Cavs' charge from a 22-point deficit, ending a week where he had another signature last-minute steal (against Milwaukee) to preserve a victory.

Kobe Bryant (26.5 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 4.8 apg, .407 FG, .732 FT): Good news for Lakers: officially signed his three-year extension, which will add about $85 million or so to his lifetime take. Bad news for Lakers: He's in a salty mood, with L.A.'s late-season slippage showing again in a listless beatdown at Staples Sunday by the Spurs.

Carmelo Anthony (19.6 ppg, 6 rpg, 2.7 apg, .414 FG, 1.000 FT): File this away for the playoffs: in two games this season against Dallas, when the Mavericks' Shawn Marion has been the primary defender against him, 'Melo is just 8 for 35 from the floor, averaging just 13 points. In two games against the Lakers, when Ron Artest has been the primary defender, 'Melo is 18 of 39 from the floor and has averaged 23 points.

Kevin Durant (26.5 ppg, 8 rpg, 2.8 rpg, .494 FG, .898 FT): Broke Dale Ellis's single-season franchise scoring record by dropping 40 against the Wolves Sunday night. But also induced Kevin Garnett into a $25,000 fine when KG complained about all the trips to the line Durantula made in OKC's 109-104 victory at Boston Wednesday.

Dwight Howard (11.7 ppg, 12.3 rpg, 3.3 bpg, .487 FG, .423 FT): Got miffed with Spurs fans whom he says cursed him and threw beer on him in San Antonio on Friday. Should be more concerned that "Hack-a-Dwight" seemed to work.

By the Numbers

.924 -- Cavaliers' winning percentage over the last two seasons (73-6) at Quicken Loans Arena.

34 -- Years since an NBA player had a triple double with at least 30 points, 20 rebounds and 10 assists. The Knicks' David Lee went for 37, 20 and 10 in Friday's loss at Golden State, the first time someone had posted those kinds of numbers since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar went for 35, 20 and 12 against the Warriors on March 5, 1976.

715 -- Assists by the Celtics' Bob Cousy in the 1959-60 season, a single-season team record that lasted until Friday, when Rajon Rondo broke the mark. In consecutive weeks, Rondo has broken the franchise's single-season mark for steals (167, set by Rick Fox in 1996-97) and assists.

I'm Feelin ...

1) I like when two teams, like the Cavs and Celtics, plain don't like each other, and play like it on the court, and cop to it afterward. That's what a real rivalry is all about.

2) The line forms to the right if you had the Suns down for 50 wins this season. That's a pretty impressive coaching job, Alvin Gentry -- who is significantly outperforming his contract.

3) Congrats to Don Nelson for tying Lenny Wilkens's all-time mark for coaching victories. He's done it his way.

4) Grizz aren't making the playoffs, but Video this guy is going to have a very good summer.

5) If I was Ernie Grunfeld, I think I'd figure out a way to get Shaun Livingston signed for next season. He knows how to play.

6) Had to check myself this week when thinking about the UConn women's team, now working on a 77-game win streak going into Tuesday's national championship game against Stanford. Started the season thinking they were the worst thing to happen to the women's game. Then I remembered: I love dynasties. It gives everyone else a target to shoot at, a standard. It isn't Geno Auriemma's fault the rest of the women's game is light years behind his program. Get better players. Catch up. In the meantime, sit back and enjoy Maya Moore's dominance.

7) For those of you who think drug abuse in baseball began with steroids, and that everything was hunky and/or dory in the "good old days," think again.

Not Feelin' ...

1) I keep hearing that the Lakers can turn it on whenever the mood strikes them. That could be true. But that wouldn't make me comfortable going into the playoffs.

2) Very happy for the Thunder, which officially is in the playoffs for the first time since moving to Oklahoma City. But I still feel sick for the people of Seattle, smart and enthusiastic and caring, who supported the Sonics for 40 years, through thick and thin, and have to watch the celebration from 1,500 miles away. You are not forgotten, Emerald City.

3) Until the Hawks can play a fourth quarter worth noting against Cleveland, it's hard to take them seriously as a real contender in the Eastern Conference.

4) Should be an interesting news conference this morning in Augusta, Georgia. If the first question isn't "Tiger, what the hell were you thinking?," then the news conference will be meaningless.

5) RIP, Charlie Townsend and Blake Carrington. Two of the coolest TV characters of all time.

6) Guys? Fellas? This one is simple. If someone asks for a nude picture of you, just assume it's going to wind up on the web. You can no longer be surprised or angered by it. Here's a suggestion: don't do it. Ever.

Tweet of the Week

I'm on the i90 in Boston just saw obama passin thru that's why I'm stuk n trafic

-- Paul Pierce (@paulpierce34), 6:24 p.m., Thursday, just another commuter trying to get home in Beantown during rush hour when the President comes by in a motorcade.

Mr. Fifteen

This week's Mr. Fifteen is Indiana Pacers center-forward Josh McRoberts. The 23-year-old McRoberts is in his second season in his hometown of Indianapolis -- where he starred on a celebrated AAU team, Speice Indy Heat, with future pros Greg Oden, Mike Conley, Jr., Daequan Cook and Eric Gordon -- before going to Duke for two seasons. McRoberts decided to turn pro after his sophomore season and was taken in the second round of the 2007 draft by Portland, where he reunited with Oden, one of his best friends. After one season with the Blazers where he received little playing time, McRoberts was traded in 2008 to the Pacers, along with Jarrett Jack and Brandon Rush, for the draft rights to Jerryd Bayless and Ike Diogu. McRoberts appeared in just 33 games last season, but this year he's gotten increased playing time during the second half of the season because of injuries to starters Roy Hibbert and Troy Murphy at center and power forward, respectively. For the season, McRoberts is averaging 3.9 points and 2.7 rebounds in 36 games, averaging a little more than 11 minutes per game.

Me: So, I assume you've got Final Four tickets (we spoke on Saturday afternoon)?

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Josh McRoberts
Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images

Josh McRoberts: Yeah, I'm going.

Me: Do you keep in touch with Coach K?

JMcR: I don't really talk to the coaches. I talk to the players. I played with all these guys that are seniors now, so I still have a lot of good friends on the team. And I keep in touch with them and I'm really excited for the opportunity they have today.

Me: You surprised they were able to put things together the way they did?

JMcR: No, because they've got a lot of good guys on the team. I think they've really come together as a team moreso than anything. They might not have one individual guy that's going to be, I don't know, no one's talking about anybody on their team being like the first pick in the draft or anything like that. But together, they're a great team and they play well together.

Me: How do you think you've done this year?

JMcR: I think I've done pretty well. I think I've been ready for the opportunities that I've been given, and tried to make the most of them.

Me: How do you keep yourself sharp when you haven't been playing?

JMcR: It's more mental. You just have to stay mentally ready and keep confident in your abilities and keep working in practice every day to get better. You've got to just really take care of yourself and try to keep your body right, keep your head ready to go every game.

Me: Who do you do extra work with?

JMcR: I do extra work before practice with, it's usually Coach (Dan) Burke, and I work with one of our assistant coaches, Jay DeFruscio, a lot, and Billy Keller a lot before and after practice. Just shooting the ball a lot, stuff like that.

Me: I'm sure you were happy initially with the trade, but how would you say it's worked out?

JMcR: Like anything, it's had its ups and downs. But I think it's been good overall. It's great for me to be able to get back home and play for the Pacers. That's always been a dream of mine, and to be able to realize that is a great opportunity. I think it'll just continue to improve. I think I've gotten a lot of good work while I've been here and continue to get better.

Me: You think you'll be there long-term?

JMcR: I hope so. I'd like to. I mean, there's only probably, you can count on one hand how many guys are going to spend their whole career in one place. You never know, really, what's going to happen, but I would love to be with the Pacers for as long as I can be.

Me: What's Oden's state of mind right now?

JMcR: He's doing all right. He's doing better. I think he's a guy that's going to work hard to try to get back. He's just had bad luck the last couple of years. He's kind of getting some time off -- he might be in Indy right now. He's doing better. He's doing all right. I spent some time with him when we were in Portland. We had an off day, so I got to hang out with him then. He's doing well. He's doing pretty good.

Me: You keep in touch with some of the other guys on that team?

JMcR: Yeah, I keep in touch. I'm closest with Greg. Obviously I saw Daequan Cook (Friday) night (when the Heat played in Indy) and talked to him a little bit. I talk to Mike when I see him. But I'm closest with Greg.

Me: Back then, did you have any inkling that so many of you were going to wind up being pros?

JMcR: Everybody kind of knew Greg was. Greg was definitely going to make it, just because of his size and skill at that age. I knew we were really good, had a lot of talent. And I knew those other guys were really good. I guess we never really thought about it, never would have imagined the success everybody's had, obviously. Mike having a great year at Ohio State and going so highly in the draft, and obviously Eric is one of the top players, he's one of the top players in the league in my opinion. Just having those guys was a great experience.

Me: What do you get out of practice?

JMcR: For me, I'm mainly playing against Troy in practice, when we practice and go live. I just try to learn as much as I can from Troy. Hopefully I'll be able to play a very similar game to his, and just try to learn, learn as much as I can from him. He's had a great career. He's a great rebounder, great shooter. Just knows the game. And so I just try to pick up as much as I can from him. Talking to him, asking questions. I'm always asking him and some of the other veterans. Earl Watson's really helped me this year, just talking to those guys, trying to pick up as much as I can.

Me: You see Bird much?

JMcR: Yeah, he's around. He's around the locker room every once in a while, comes to practices. Doesn't really say too much.

Me: If you guys get healthy, can you be a factor next season?

JMcR: I hope so. I think we can. We started a little slow at the start of the year, middle of the year. We've picked it up lately. I think we've won eight games in a row at home before (Friday). I think we're headed in the right direction. I think we had a little bit of a slow start, having new guys. It's just kind of tough to get acclimated to a new system with new guys.

Me: Any regrets about leaving Duke early?

JMcR: Oh, no. Absolutely not.

Me: It was the right thing for you?

JMcR: Yeah, it was the right thing for my family and for me. It was time. I never had a second thought about it...I'm blessed to have great family and great friends around me. They help me more than anything. I have no complications or problems from that end of it. I'm really lucky to have great people around me. I don't have 100 people on me. I probably talk to a handful of people up close to it. I don't have any problems like that. I've had a great experience here.

They Said It

"There are no restrictions."

-- Warriors general manager Larry Riley, saying on Friday that owner Chris Cohan has cleared him to make any moves he thinks necessary to improve the team in the offseason, despite the team's impending sale. Riley said he will take a couple of weeks before beginning his evaluation of the team, including the future of Don Nelson, who has a year remaining on his contract.

"I'm really a Division III coach who had a lot of good fortune and ended up in a situation, as I've said before, where I didn't screw it up."

-- Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, describing his role, as he sees it, in San Antonio's four NBA titles over the past 11 years, to the Los Angeles Times.

"David Kahn (the team's president of basketball operations) and the coaches asked me to be patient this year...they didn't ask me to have patience for two years. They asked me to have patience for one year."

-- Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor, telling the St. Paul Pioneer Press that he will expect a lot of improvement from the Wolves next season after enduring this year's 15-62 team.

Longtime NBA reporter and columnist David Aldridge is an analyst for TNT. You can e-mail him here.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting.

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