• It’s hard to be disappointed in the Houston Rockets’ 2014-15 run. It’s true that the team was allowed the luxury of piggybacking an MVP candidate for 81 of its 82 games this season, but this was a campaign that was also fraught with injury and goofball, sometimes polarizing additions that threatened to throw the team off the rails. No amount of 32-7-7 nights from James Harden would matter if the helpers aren’t helping and the second-in-command star is in street clothes.

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    Instead, this weird little team thrived. Dwight Howard missed 41 contests, exactly half the season, but Houston still eked out the second seed in the Western Conference by virtue of a division win and tiebreaking record. It shocked the NBA by coming back from a 3-1 deficit against a Los Angeles Clippers team that seemed poised to make a breakthrough before finally petering out in a Western Conference finals setting that few outside of Houston ever

    Read More »from The Houston Rockets? Gone till November.
  • Dwayne Johnson knows a thing or two about what it takes to generate interest on a microphone. It's one of the reasons he is captivated by UFC featherweight title contender Conor McGregor.

    McGregor, one of the UFC’s hottest prospects, takes on divisional king Jose Aldo at UFC 189 in Las Vegas in July. McGregor has built his rise on devastating performances inside the cage and wild media snippets outside of it.

    Johnson, admittedly, loves watching a good fight, but it’s McGregor’s ability to generate buzz and create emotion that have one of Hollywood’s biggest stars seeing a lot of himself in the Irish upstart. Conor McGregor isn't shy about his skills heading into UFC 189. (AP) Conor McGregor isn't shy about his skills heading into UFC 189. (AP)

    "I love that guy," Johnson said in a recent interview. "What I love about Conor is the same thing, by the way, what I love about Aldo. With Aldo, there’s a quiet confidence. In Conor, the confidence is not quiet.

    "It reminds me of how I was in the WWE, man. I was bold, talking [expletive] and there was nothing I wouldn’t say … obviously in the WWE it’s a work. It’s not real, we

    Read More »from Conor McGregor's showmanship, trash-talking raise The Rock's eyebrow
  • A look around the league and the Web that covers it. It's also important to note that the rotation order and starting nods aren't always listed in order of importance. That's for you, dear reader, to figure out.

    C: Blog a Bull, twice. Ricky O'Donnell on how nobody comes out clean from the messy and inevitable divorce between Tom Thibodeau and the Chicago Bulls, leaving everyone feeling crappy afterward, and Chris Terzic on the central failure at the heart of all the sturm und drang: "The attainable goal of winning a championship was not reached."

    PF: NBA.com. Steve Aschburner: "One NBA coach referred to Friday's events in Chicago as 'a crucifixion.' Another spoke of 'the knife Reinsdorf stabbed in Thibodeau's back' on the way out." Yeesh.

    SF: Sports Illustrated and Bulls.com. Rob Mahoney on "the tireless steam engine" that the Bulls must now replace, and Sam Smith with one hell of an anecdote involving a seemingly simple honor, a bucket of baseballs and a group of waiting Little

    Read More »from The 10-man rotation, starring the end of the Tom Thibodeau era
  • Klay Thompson lays on the court after being kneed in the head. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)Klay Thompson lays on the court after being kneed in the head. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)The Golden State Warriors announced Friday afternoon that All-Star shooting guard Klay Thompson "has been diagnosed with a concussion," two days after taking a frightening knee to the side of the head during the Game 5 victory over the Houston Rockets that sent the Warriors to the NBA Finals for the first time in 40 years.

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    "Following extensive examinations over the last two days — including neurological tests earlier this morning — Warriors’ guard Klay Thompson has been diagnosed with a concussion," reads the team's announcement. "He will not return to the court until he is symptom-free and cleared under the NBA’s concussion protocol guidelines. He will be evaluated daily and there is no timetable for his return."

    With the Warriors holding an eight-point lead early in the fourth quarter of Game 5, Thompson took a pass from Andre Iguodala on the left wing, squared up behind the 3-point arc, and pump-faked to try

    Read More »from Warriors' Klay Thompson diagnosed with concussion, no timetable for return
  • You hope that the Orlando Magic know what they’re diving into.

    Scott Skiles can coach well at the NBA level. Scott Skiles will bring a semblance of professionalism to your roster, and define your culture. Your team will improve, and players of all types and motivations will respond positively. Scott Skiles, for 24 or even 36 months, will be the best part of your basketball team.

    [Follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr: The best slams from all of basketball]

    Scott Skiles, because spots don’t change, will eventually tire of his role, and his players will tire of him. The offense, heavy on passing but also mid-range jumpers, will fail in this modern era. Skiles’ sarcasm will leak out in reports both on record and off, and both he and his players will want a parting of ways. Skiles, understandably, will want all the guaranteed money left on his contract, and he’ll push to be fired rather than walking away. Jim Boylan will be hired as interim head coach upon his removal.

    Skiles was hired as

    Read More »from Scott Skiles is the new head coach in Orlando, for better or worse
  • When last we checked in with Metta World Peace, the Artist Formerly Known as Ron Artest, lacking NBA suitors, had chosen to head overseas to continue his playing career in China under the brand new moniker, "The Panda's Friend." After averaging 19 points, six rebounds and 2.3 steals per game in 15 appearances for the Sichuan Blue Whales of the Chinese Basketball Association, Artest/Peace/Friend decided to head to Italy upon the conclusion of the CBA season and sign on with Pallacanestro Cantù of Serie A, promising to make an impact despite all the wear and tear that a 15-year NBA career put on his creaky knees.

    Well, he certainly made his presence felt when Cantù took on Reyer Venezia Mestre in the fifth game of their quarterfinal playoff series. It probably wasn't quite the impact the team's decision-makers brought him over to make, though.

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    After a late-fourth-quarter foul by a Venezia player on Cantù guard

    Read More »from Metta World Peace, a.k.a. The Panda's Friend, ejected from Italian playoff game
  • It can be tough sometimes to find the motivation to exercise. Lots of folks, present company included, can get derailed somewhere along the way from thinking "I should work out" and beginning a run or arriving at the gym. San Antonio Spurs big man Boris Diaw wants those of us who allow ancillary, inessential elements of a workout to become roadblocks to get our minds right — all we really need, Bobo teaches, is the desire to dance like nobody's watching.

    [Follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr: The best slams from all of basketball]

    The versatile and skilled Diaw, whose jack-of-all-trades game (and surprisingly nimble footwork as a driver and post player) helped the Spurs win the 2013-14 NBA championship and earned him a lucrative multi-year deal, made this video as part of his relationship with Withings, a "connected health company" that makes electronic products and applications — pedometers, sleep trackers, "smart" scales, etc. — that purportedly allow users to gain greater visibility

    Read More »from Boris Diaw wants you to dance your way to health
  • First off, can we just agree that player comparisons – especially player comparisons that transcend eras – are pretty dumb?

    [Follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr: The best slams from all of basketball]

    Michael Jordan retired, for the third and final time, two months before LeBron James was drafted into the NBA. He plays around the same position as James, in a lot of ways the shooting guard and small forward slot are interchangeable, and both players (eight years for James, seven for MJ) took a long and tortured route to their first championship. They dunk a lot, and unless LeBron is working out of Miami, they wear the same number.

    They’re one of just five players on the court at a time, and they do a lot of similar things in a team game that can be dominated by a lone individual. This is why we compare them. It’s silly, but we do.

    And on Thursday, possibly motivated by decades-long enmity toward Michael Jordan, Bill Laimbeer went on the Dan Patrick Show to not just compare LeBron and

    Read More »from Bill Laimbeer: 'There's no question I would take LeBron James' over Michael Jordan
  • Dwight Howard's 2014-15 season ended on Wednesday night. As he learned Friday, though, being done playing doesn't mean you can't still get suspended.

    [Follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr: The best slams from all of basketball]

    A league review of the offensive foul Howard committed on forward Andre Iguodala late in the fourth quarter of the Golden State Warriors' Western Conference finals-ending victory over the Houston Rockets in Wednesday's Game 5 — ruled a common foul on the floor — should have been called a flagrant-1. A retroactive upgrade of the foul means increases the number of "flagrant points" that Howard accrued during the postseason from three to four — you get one point for a flagrant-1 and two for a flagrant-2, and Howard had already committed a pair of flagrant-1s in the postseason.

    League rules stipulate that when you pass three flagrant points in the postseason, you've got to sit out your next game ... even if your next game doesn't come until next season.

    Here's Howard's

    Read More »from Dwight Howard gets 1-game suspension after Game 5 flagrant upgraded
  • On the third hole of his Friday round at the Irish Open, Irishman Shane Lowry bent his putter in a fit of anger.

    Under the Rules of Golf, since the putter wasn't bent in the natural course of play, that meant Lowry had to find another club to putt with the rest of the way. He chose a wedge, and, as it turns out, it was good enough to get him to the weekend at Royal County Down.

    Starting on the 10th hole, Lowry bent his putter on the 12th.

    That didn't stymie the 2009 champion (as an amateur), however, as he made three birdies heading in, including a 30-footer on his 16th hole, the par-3 seventh.

    In total, Lowry shot 3-over 74 on another tough scoring day. Combined with an opening 72, that was good enough to get to the weekend. 

    After the round, Lowry showed some remorse over the act, but was happy with

    Read More »from Shane Lowry makes Irish Open cut using wedge as a putter

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