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Tag:Indiana Pacers
Posted on: February 7, 2012 11:25 pm
Edited on: February 7, 2012 11:32 pm
 

Report Card: Pacers survive, Pierce passes Bird

Paul Pierce took over No.2 on the Celtics' all-time scoring list and the Celtics improved to 14-10. (Getty Images)
By Matt Moore


Each night, Eye on Basketball brings you what you need to know about the games of the NBA. From great performances to terrible clock management the report card evaluates and eviscerates the good, the bad, and the ugly from the night that was. We want to hear your grades of the night on Twitter at @EyeOnBasketball.


Paul Pierce On a night where Pierce passed Larry Bird on the Celtics' all-time scoring list, the Truth was doing everything for the surging Celtics. His shooting percentage was nothing great, but 8 rebounds and 9 assists with just two turnovers to go with 15 points is excellent work. Pierce took a step up the Green's list of point producers, but it's his overall play that makes him a Celtic legend. Tuesday night showed why.
Indiana Pacers Played like warrior gods for about 34 minutes. Then utterly collapsed against the power of Paul Millsap while Frank Vogel hung out his second unit to dry. Then managed to slam the door shut thanks to what got them the lead in the first place. When the Pacers are clicking, they can be dominant, but this team is built with too many hustle defenders on the bench and not enough scoring. George Hill's absence hurts, but it goes beyond that. They might consider getting a backup scorer at the deadline. At the same time, a quality win against a good team.
Minnesota Timberwolves The Kings are more game to fight under Keith Smart, but this still should have been a more comfortable win at home. Then again, they didn't have Kevin Love. So basically, they pass, but next time maybe a little better shooting than 41 percent against a horrid defense is in order. 14 assists for Rubio in the win.
Kings final possession All you have are perimeter scorers. All you have are ISO guys. You don't pass well. I'm one of the guys who rails against the ISO-Final-Possession culture in the NBA, but in that situation, down two, give the ball to Thornton or Evans and let them do work out of Isolation. Instead the Kings tried to get inventive and cute. Not a good look. Honestly, DeMarcus Cousins should not be on the floor at the end of the game for the Kings right now. 22 for Thornton in the loss.
Tyrus Thomas 20 minutes. 1-6, 3 rebounds, 1 block, 1 foul, -12 for the game and got into it with Paul Pierce on the night he passed Bird on the Celtics' scoring list. Remember when he was going to be a difference maker?
E FOR EFFORT
LeBron James (24 points on 16 shots, 5 boards, 6 assists, 2 steals, excellent passing to close out the Cavs.)
Derrick Brown (10-10 from the field, 20 points, 4 rebounds)
Darren Collison (10-14 from the field, 25 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists, 0 turnovers)

Posted on: February 7, 2012 10:21 pm
Edited on: February 14, 2012 1:13 pm
 

NBA Power Rankings: Breakdown, Takedown Vol. 8

Posted by Royce Young and Ben Golliver

The Clippers have their hands full over the next six weeks. (Getty Images)

The 2011-2012 NBA season continues. Here's the eighth weekly installment of CBSSports.com's NBA Power Rankings by Eye On Basketball's Matt Moore.

What did he get right? What did he get wrong? We're here to break it down and take it down.

1. Too High: Los Angeles Clippers at No. 6. This isn't really a knock against the current ranking, which is right in line with their performance to date, but a prediction of the certain trouble to come. The Clippers continue to have played well more home games (13) than road games (9) and that will catch up with them. The good news is that they are off to a nice start on their current road trip, having won the first two games, but things will get tougher with match-ups in Philadelphia and in Dallas and the loss of Chauncey Billups casts a big shadow over what will be a brutal March, when the Clips will play 20 games in 31 days, including six back-to-backs plus a back-to-back-to-back. Mo Williams is great, but he's only one man. In other words, just sell your stock in them now. There's nowhere to go but down. And Blake Griffin would do very well to keep his All-Star Weekend participation to a minimum. -- BG 

2. Too Low: San Antonio Spurs at No. 7. Here are the last five games for the Spurs: Memphis, Houston, New Orleans, Oklahoma City and Memphis again -- all wins. The Spurs have climbed to the West's third seed and have done it with Manu Ginobili just a week or so away from returning. So to have them behind the Clippers, a team that potentially just lost their starting 2-guard for the season, doesn't seem right. The Spurs are playing like a top five team and are probably just finally getting stretched out. -- RY

3. Most Overrated: Orlando Magic at No. 13. I don't really care what the Magic do right now or what their record is. The sins of the past couple weeks are way too fresh in my mind to give them a top 15 ranking. They've scored in the 60s three times this season. Yeah, they won three of four last week but two of those included wins against Cleveland and Washington. The Magic will make the playoffs, assuming Dwight Howard doesn't get dealt, but this isn't a team to fear. There are simply too many issues. Good enough to beat the bad teams, average enough to beat some mediocre teams but not anywhere close to elite to beat the great teams consistently. -- RY

4. Most Overlooked: Memphis Grizzlies at No. 18. The Grizzlies have fallen a game under .500 and out of the West's top eight, but their losses in the past week were respectable. They whipped the Hawks but came up just short against OKC and San Antonio while the Celtics handled them. It's easy to completely start disregarding Memphis because of their record, but this team had a lot of preseason buzz for a reason. They need Zach Randolph back badly and when they get him, that's a group nobody will want to play in the postseason. Assuming they can do enough to get there. -- RY

5. Sure Thing: Indiana Pacers at No. 5. Through 24 games, the Pacers are right on track for their best case scenario. They're sitting pretty with potential homecourt advantage in the Eastern Conference and they're right there in the mix for the No. 2 spot on the East charts. They'll likely fall somewhere in the 3-6 range but they've got a well-balanced roster that is going to make for a very tough out in the playoffs. Is Darren Collison the weak link? Expect more discussion to surround him. The Paul George / Danny Granger / David West combination could really be something come the postseason. -- BG

6. Wild Card: Denver Nuggets at No. 10. Once the West's No. 2 seed, the Nuggets are on a 3-game skid and just got the news they will be without forward Danilo Gallinari for a month. That's a big blow. The tough part in the West is that it doesn't take too many 3-game skids before you've dropped a number of playoff seeds, given how tightly things are wrapped up betwen spots four and 11. The really brutal news for the Nuggets is that 10 of their remaining 11 games in February are against Western Conference teams, including the Mavericks twice, the Grizzlies, the Thunder, the Clippers, the Spurs and the Blazers. Oof. -- BG
Posted on: February 2, 2012 12:23 am
 

Report Card: An upside down kind of night

Posted by Royce Young



It was a pretty wild Wednesday in the NBA with some close games, some massive blowouts, some top teams losing and some big stat lines. Let's grade the action.

Serge Ibaka

What a game from Oklahoma City's paint protector. Ibaka set a franchise record with 10 blocks and finished with an unconventional double-double with 11 rebounds to go with it. He only had four points, which is a shame because a points-rebounds-blocks triple-double is pretty awesome. But Ibaka's impact in the Thunder's win over Dallas can't be understated.


Steve Nash

Nash went for 30 and 11 assists but that's not the best thing from his game against the Hornets. He also became the Suns all-time assists leader with 6,522 passing Kevin Johnson's mark of 6,518. Oh, and the Suns won, scoring 120 points. Just the way it should've happened for Nash.


Overlooked East teams

The Pacers beat the Timberwolves by 10 in Minneapolis and the 76ers beat the Bulls in Philadelphia. Two big wins for teams that are in the top half of the East, but that don't command the same kind of respect or attention as the Bulls or Heat. Andre Iguodala was fantastic defensively on Derrick Rose and Danny Granger poured in 36 for Indiana.


Russell Westbrook

With co-star Kevin Durant struggling a bit, Westbrook took over for the Thunder scoring 33 points to go with four assists and six rebounds. As he tends to do, Westbrook hit a dagger 3 with a minute left to ice the game for Oklahoma City. The six turnovers though were the only blemish in his line, but he had a fantastic game and showed why his scoring can often be incredibly valuable to the Thunder in close games against good teams.

Brandon Jennings

The Bucks won and Jennings scored 31. So why a C? Because he went 9-25 from the field and quite frankly, I was having trouble finding a C tonight. Jennings was pretty good though. He hit seven 3s, dished out eight assists and didn't turn the ball over once. He loved to shoot and does it without conscience, so the 31 points on 25 shots shouldn't really come as any kind of surprise.


Top East teams

While the Pacers and Sixers won, the Heat and Bulls both lost. Miami wasted a 40-point effort from LeBron and 23 from Dwyane Wade as Chris Bosh didn't provide much help at all with only nine points as the Heat lost to the Bucks. A Bucks team missing Andrew Bogut, mind you. Those type of games happen to everybody, but both the Bulls and the Heat definitely revealed a few dings in their armor. Neither executed well offensively and neither were able to consitently find baskets whether in transition or the halfcourt.

Dallas shooting

Credit the Thunder defense, but the Mavericks were absolutely awful shooting the ball Wednesday. Dallas shot only 35.7 percent from the field and went just 8-38 from the floor in the second half. Dirk Nowitzki clearly isn't entirely right as he went just 2-15 from the field. Dallas was without Jason Kidd and Lamar Odom, but that doesn't matter if you only hit 35 percent of your shots. Ten of those shots though never had a chance as Serge Ibaka was blocking them, but still.

Toronto Raptors and Charlotte Bobcats

The Suns scored 120 points. The Raptors and Bobcats combined for 132. The Raptors lost 100-64 to the Celtics and the Bobcats lost 112-68 to the Blazers. Scoring has been ugly on some nights in the NBA this season, but good grief, those are some major league whippings right there. The Bobcats and Raptors aren't good to start with, but an NBA team should be losing by 40 or 44.
Posted on: February 1, 2012 1:37 pm
Edited on: February 2, 2012 1:28 pm
 

Who's contending and who's pretending?

Posted by Royce Young

Are the Lakers and Celtics challengers for a championship, or for just a postseason appearance? (Getty Images)

Almost every team has played 20 games so far this season, which is a pretty nice sample size to make a semi-educated judgment on just how good some are. We know there are a lot of competitive teams in each conference. Teams that have a quality roster, a decent record and a chance at the postseason.

But what's coming into focus more and more is who is for real and who is for fake. Not in the sense of who is actually good and who is fool's gold, but what teams should we be really watching for to make a push at a championship?

In the same way there's no reason to waste time saying the Wizards and Hornets are not contenders, I don't need to tell you that the Oklahoma City Thunder, Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls are obvious contenders. They aren't just contenders, they're the title favorites as of now. Those three teams have clearly separated themselves a bit from the pack, but that doesn't mean that there isn't another team lingering as a potential title threat. This time last season nobody was really looking at the Mavericks as a team poised to hoist the Larry O'Brien trophy.

So let's break down the current field of playoff contending teams and separate the contenders from the pretenders.

Orlando Magic

After an 11-4 start, a good number of people kind of came around from "They have to trade Dwight Howard right now" to "Maybe they should keep him and make a run at it." Now, after a week of complete stinkage, maybe it's time to take another good look at blowing the hinges off the organization and starting over. If you're consistently having trouble getting out of the 60s, you're not going to win a seven-game series against a good team.

Verdict: PRETENDER

Philadelphia 76ers

A 15-6 record and the best point differential in the league is not something to be ignored. A 4-4 road record indicates that maybe the Sixers aren't quite ready to step into the conversation of competing for the East. I'm going to choose to ignore that. The Bulls and Heat are clearly the class of the East, but it's not hard for me to picture the Sixers taking down one in a seven-game series. Their depth, defense and determination will have them right in any game they play.

Verdict: CONTENDER

Utah Jazz

Rewind to last season. Jerry Sloan had resigned and Deron Williams was traded. It was understandable that the Jazz would finish out the season in the lottery. That was the plan. Get younger, find some cap flexibility and plan for the future. Except that didn't work out. The Jazz aren't a franchise that deal with losing much so this season wasn't just going to be one of tanking. But they're overachieving. They have some nice wins on the resume, but a core of Paul Millsap, Al Jefferon and Gordon Hayward aren't making a title push.

Verdict: PRETENDER

Indiana Pacers

I want to believe. I really do. The Pacers are a fun team and their resurgence over the past two seasons has been something else. David West was a nice addition and Roy Hibbert is playing really well. They've built up their resume with some good wins over the past couple weeks, but I don't see how they improved in the area that killed them last postseason -- fourth quarter execution. Danny Granger is a good player but can't shoulder the load of getting tough, key baskets in crunchtime. I can't see them beating the Bulls, Heat or even 76ers.

Verdict: PRETENDER

New York Knicks

I almost didn't even include them in this list. And not for the reason the Bulls, Heat and Thunder aren't in it. Unless Baron Davis has a superpower in that beard, the Knicks aren't getting out of the first round, and that's if they even get there. Serious obstacles are going to have to be overcome before this team actually competes for a championship.

Verdict: PRETENDER

Dallas Mavericks

It appears the championship hangover is finally wearing off. But for a while there, the defending champs had us concerned. They looked flat, uninterested and worst of all, not as good after losing J.J. Barea, Tyson Chandler and DeShawn Stevenson. But the Mavs are finding their form a bit and if Lamar Odom can ever finally wake up, Dallas goes eight deep with a nice rotation. And as long as that tall German guy is on the roster, they're a tough matchup for anyone.

Verdict CONTENDER

Houston Rockets

As I was writing down the teams I needed to mention for this, I didn't have the Rockets. And then I looked at the West standings and their record and said, "Whoa, the Rockets are 12-9? When did that happen?" I think they're going to be players at the trade deadline, but as the team stands now, they're position in the West's top eight will probably be short lived.

Verdict: PRETENDER

San Antonio Spurs

Could the Los Angeles Clippers -- the Clippers -- really be contenders? (Getty Images)
You just wait. Gregg Popovich knows what he's doing. Manu Ginobili will be healthy soon and the Spurs are going to go on a run of games in late February or March where they win like 14 of 16 and rocket up to third in the West. It's coming. I know it is.

Verdict: CONTENDER

Los Angeles Clippers

I picked the Clippers to finish second in the West but also wrote that they weren't a contender. I'm confused about the Clippers. But they definitely showed a little something this past week with a win in Denver and a win against the Thunder. Part of the reason many doubted that the Clips were ready to contend was it looked like they needed another piece for some depth. But they may already have it as Mo Williams is making a strong case for Sixth Man of the Year. Two top 15 players, a monster rim protector inside, a solid identity and veteran leadership -- the Clips kind of have it all. Only two things are holding them back -- Vinny Del Negro and a 35-year history filled with miserable failure.

Verdict: CONTENDER

Atlanta Hawks

I'll put it simply: The Hawks made no dramatic improvements to a team that's basically been the definition of pretender and then their best player was injured for pretty much the rest of the season. Their winning record without Al Horford has been a bit of a mirage as they've fortunately found a soft spot in the schedule at the worst time. Playoff team, yes. Title contender? Nah.

Verdict: PRETENDER

Portland Trail Blazers

For about five minutes, the Blazers had everyone talking about them as the prime contender to challenge Oklahoma City in the West. And then they lost their next five of eight and have slipped out of the top eight in the West. There's really not that much distinguishing this Blazer team from the one the was eliminated in last season's opening round. Is Ray Felton an upgrade over Andre Miller? Jamal Crawford an upgrade over Brandon Roy? LaMarcus Aldridge has become a legit superstar, but I don't see him carrying this roster to the Western Finals.

Verdict: PRETENDER

Memphis Grizzlies

I fear the Grizzlies were that classic chic preseason pick that everyone kind of likes that ends up going down in flames. Some would call that the "Houston Texans Disease." But Memphis didn't stumble into the second round of the postseason by accident. They upended the Spurs and then were a seventh game on the road away from advancing to the Western Finals. They're an enigma right now without Zach Randolph, but if he comes back healthy, the Grizzlies could be a nightmare matchup for teams in the playoffs.

Verdict: CONTENDER

Boston Celtics

After all of that, the Celtics are back to .500. They're 10-10 and have eased some of the fears that they might miss the playoffs. But they haven't been able to restore confidence that they're a team that's dangerous in the postseason. Kevin Garnett can't jump, which is a problem. Their offense completely fizzles for long stretches. They're actually relying on key production from guys like Mickael Pietrus and Chris Wilcox. The Celtics aren't bad, but I think ubuntu is on life support.

Verdict: PRETENDER

Denver Nuggets

Can team ball really win? Well, it's winning now and looking pretty darn good doing it. The Nuggets ran into a bad matchup last postseason and the Thunder took care of them in five games. I wouldn't say they necessarily improved this offseason after losing Wilson Chandler, Kenyon Martin and J.R. Smith while adding Rudy Fernandez, Corey Brewer and Andre Miller, but Al Harrington is playing wonderful basketball, Ty Lawson is blossoming and Danilo Gallinari shows flashes of being a star. Winning this way isn't easy, but I wouldn't rule the Nuggets out.

Verdict: CONTENDER

Los Angeles Lakers

The Lakers are 2-7 on the road. They've only scored 100 points three times this season. For any other team, we'd say that's a major red flashing sign that they aren't for real. For any other team, we'd look at their offensive struggles, their chemistry issues and the fact they're looking older than ever and easily write them off. But this is the Lakers, the home of Kobe Bryant and you don't do that. But I'm going to. Point guard is a massive issue, they have no depth inside and I still have absolutely no idea why they traded Lamar Odom for nothing. This team subtracted a key piece from a group that got swept out of the playoffs by the Mavericks and they expect that adding Josh McRoberts and a new coach is going to push them over the top? Unless the Lakers have a big trade coming down the pipe, the Lakers as currently constructed aren't going anywhere.

Verdict: PRETENDER

Posted on: January 31, 2012 11:33 pm
Edited on: January 31, 2012 11:37 pm
 

Pacers' Hill suffers 'chip fracture' in ankle

By Matt Moore


Pacers guard George Hill suffered a chip fracture in his ankle Tuesday night against the New Jersey Nets, the team announced following the game. He is listed as out indefinitely.

The injury occurred in the third quarter Tuesday night when George shot a pull-up jumper from inside the key and Nets center Johan Petro undercut him coming down.  

Hill has had an up and down season for the Pacers, and hasn't kept up with the level of production he showed in San Antonio. Still, it's a loss of a veteran to help calm the Pacers' waters with fidgety Darren Collison alternating between brilliant and confusing. The Pacers will have to turn to terribly inconsistent Lance Stephenson with some spot minutes from A.J. Price to fill in the gap, but at least Paul George is having an incredible season. 

We'll keep you updated on Hill's prognosis and estimated recovery time.
Posted on: January 31, 2012 10:03 pm
Edited on: January 31, 2012 10:05 pm
 

Video: Paul George throws down reverse jam

Posted by Royce Young



It may not have been over anyone and it might not have completely shut down the universe in the way Blake Griffin's dunk did Monday night, but Paul George's flying reverse, double-clutch slam was definitely contained a high level of nasty.

Only adding to the prettiness of it was the Pacers wearing some nice throwbacks. So George gets style points for the reverse double-clutch and for looking good while doing it.

Dunk contest participants have yet to be announced but if we're still actively searching, maybe take an extra look at George. With those long arms and those hops, I'm thinking if he can do that in a game, he could do some pretty sick stuff in a contest.

For complete dunk stats and a compilation of the year's best, be sure to check CBSSports.com's Dunk-O-Meter.
Posted on: January 31, 2012 8:13 pm
 

NBA Power Rankings: Breakdown, Takedown Vol. 7

Posted by Royce Young and Ben Golliver

Not the best of weeks for Dwight Howard and the Magic. (Getty Images)

The 2011-2012 NBA season continues. Here's the seventh weekly installment of CBSSports.com's NBA Power Rankings by Eye On Basketball's Matt Moore.

What did he get right? What did he get wrong? We're here to break it down and take it down.

1. Too High: Atlanta Hawks at No. 9. Somehow, despite losing probably their best player, the Hawks aren't just keeping their head above water but soaring. They've won four of five games since the Al Horford injury. However, not exactly against marquee opponents -- New Orleans, Cleveland, Detroit and Milwaukee. It's a little hard to tell if the Hawks are actually going to overcome Horford's injury or if they're just getting by as a result of a soft spot in the schedule. I tend to think it's the latter and as the season drags on, we'll see the Hawks are mediocre at best and not a top 10 NBA team. -- RY

2. Too Low: Orlando Magic at No. 20. Last week, I had a little fun at Matt's expense when he dropped the Magic after their ugly loss to the Celtics. In hindsight, he was correct. But, unfortunately, he made the same mistake again! The Magic have had by far their worst stretch of the season -- pointing fingers at each other during a 4-game losing streak -- but they're still 12-9 and they're still safely in the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference. By comparison, the Trail Blazers, who Orlando beat in Portland, are also 12-9, barely in the West playoffs, and ranked No. 11 in this week's Power Rankings. Where's the consistency? These guys shouldn't be below 15, despite how ugly things have gotten of late. -- BG

3. Most Overrated: Washington Wizards at No. 26. This one isn't a disaster but it's hard to really make a case that there are four worse teams than the 4-17 Wizards. Sacramento, for example, is 6-14 despite being in a 4-game losing streak. The Kings have three quality wins over the Lakers, Spurs, Pacers and a sort-of quality win over the Bucks. That's pretty bad for a team in the basement. Washington, meanwhile, had that one shocking, pretty fluky win over the Oklahoma City Thunder plus three wins against patsies (two against the Charlotte Bobcats, one against the Toronto Raptors). Their body of work just screams lower than No. 26. -- BG

4. Most Overlooked: Utah Jazz at No. 10. It's natural to just assume the Jazz are overachieving and will eventually come back to Earth. That's not a team built with any stars or big names, and yet in the toughest division in basketball, they're 12-7 and in the thick of the West. Their point differential and efficiency numbers aren't great. But they are winning consistently. Not that the Jazz should be higher than 10, but I think we're all quick to discount them for whatever reason. Much in the same way we all wanted to ignore last season's Nuggets, the Jazz could be for real. -- RY

5. Sure Thing: Miami Heat at No. 1. Sunday's showdown against the Chicago Bulls made it clear that these two teams, if healthy, are the clear, clear, clear favorites to repeat as Eastern Conference Finalists. That series will be a blood bath, too. Miami played very well at times but it was far from a flawless victory. With a few days to let it sink in, they're probably feeling pretty fortunate given Dwyane Wade's shooting struggles and LeBron James' predictable late-game free throw gaffes. The TV ratings for the potential Chicago vs. Miami East Finals are going to be absurd. -- BG

6. Wild Card:
Indiana Pacers at No. 8. It's not fair to say the Pacers aren't exceeding expectations and having a great season. They are. They just beat the Lakers, Magic and Bulls last week. But one thing that's unshakeable for me is their bad losses. For example, a loss Jan. 18 to the Kings and then a whipping by Orlando Jan. 24. The Pacers are a bit erratic with their play and while absolutely a good team, I'm not so sure they are in true contender territory, which is normally reserved for the top eight. They're good, but just how good? -- RY
Posted on: January 27, 2012 11:30 am
Edited on: February 3, 2012 5:24 pm
 

Friday 5 with KB: A Magical Time

By Matt Moore



In this week's edition of 
the Friday 5, we look back on extensions week, ask if the Celtics are back, and of course, check in on Dwight Howard. You can follow Ken Berger on Twitter @KBergCBS

1. After two games between Orlando and Boston this week, is Boston "back?" 

Ken Berger: I still think they're going to be OK. What a difference when Pierce has it going. He's clearly getting his confidence back. What happened Thursday night was as much about the Magic's fragility as it was about the Celtics' resilience. But to come back like that on the road, without Rondo or Allen, is a great sign for Boston. The Celtics' bench is still way too thin, and they don't have enough size. But one thing they need more than anything is some young legs and youthful exuberance, not to mention those attributes coming with meaningful contributions. They got that Thursday night from E'Twaun Moore. A much needed jolt for Boston's elders.

2. What extension decision, signed or unsigned, surprised you the most?

Ken Berger: I don't know that any surprised me, but the most interesting case was Eric Gordon. Given his knee situation, it's difficult to make a largely unnecessary long-term commitment now. But clearly the Hornets can't afford to lose the most significant asset they received in the Chris Paul trade. But much like Kevin Love's shorter extension with Minnesota, this arrangement could work out in Gordon's favor. If he comes back healthy and continues to put up big numbers, he'll command a bigger deal as a restricted free agent. And New Orleans knows they control the situation because they can match.

3. The Pacers have an interest in Eric Gordon. With his future in the air, is there any chance teams make a run at him in trade at the deadline?

Ken Berger: It would be logical for Gordon, the IU product, to wind up only a short drive from Bloomington. But I don't expect the Hornets to entertain in-season trade offers for him. There's no reason to panic since they have the right to match next summer.

4. We hear a lot about the Magic waiting to make a decision on Dwight Howard. But how about the Lakers? Are they going to give this team a chance to gel or will they pounce at the first opportunity for improvement?

Ken Berger: It always depends on the deal. If Howard can be had for a price that's less than Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol, then the dialogue could catch fire pretty quickly. But unless Orlando completely goes in the tank -- and they haven't been playing well lately -- I see no signs that Otis Smith and Alex Martins are going to consider anything less than an all-out blockbuster offer for Howard. There's one caveat: If the realization of losing Howard for nothing hits the Magic organization like a freight train on March 14, it's impossible to predict now how they'll react.

5. Explain why the Minnesota Timberwolves not signing Kevin Love for as many years as possible is in any way a good decision on their part, please.

Ken Berger: I got into this in Postups yesterday. Basically, it's a good deal for both sides. Love has three years to determine if the Wolves are, in fact, going in the right direction. The Wolves, in turn, get to preserve their five-year designated player extension for Ricky Rubio. But Minnesota also will be able to get Love on a five-year extension after he opts out of the fourth year of this deal. And Love will get more money, too. With seven-plus years of service at that point, he'd be eligible for 30 percent of the cap.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com