Starting 5: Dwight at his worst, Deng at his best & Doc Rivers rips his team

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Every morning, we’ll give you five things from the night before in the NBA to start your day.

1:  Dwightmare… the morning after

Hours after Stan Van Gundy dropped a bomb on Dwight Howard, Dwight went out and played perhaps the worst game of his career.  He didn’t score until the third quarter.  He scored eight points overall, mostly in garbage time.  He looked disinterested and slow.  

That, my friends, is your response to the Notorioius SVG.  

Isn’t it funny how Dwight Howard just wants to be loved by all, and his actions and pursuit of such led to quite the opposite?  After the game, he was quiet about Stan’s comments (“I don’t want to talk about it.  It has nothing to do with the game tonight”) and Stan was moving on (“Dwight will go out and play, and I’ll coach”).  But the game itself was all the response many people will need.  Dwight pouted his way through a stinker, the Magic have lost five straight, and they are now just 2.5 games from the 7th seed, and 4 games from missing the playoffs entirely.  

Stan Van is still the man in Orlando, but even as I type this I have to double check to make sure Orlando hasn’t fired him yet for this whole mess.  It’s easier to predict what Metta World Peace will tweet next than what will happen next in Orlando.

We’ll have more on Dwight later in the day.

2:  Doc Rivers is slightly unimpressed with the Celtics effort

Here’s the meaty part of the quote:

“I don’t want to hear about us winning crap,” he said. “That was unacceptable. We’re not going anywhere playing like that. I’m just so pissed at the way we played. The playoffs are the furthest thing from my mind right now.”

Here’s the whole postgame interview


   

Doc Rivers very rarely rips his team, so it means something when he tees off like this.  The Celtics have battled back to the top of the Atlantic Division and now have had some faint hopes of climbing to the third seed.  But two straight losses (to the Spurs and Bulls) have brought them back to earth a little.  The Celtics are playing a brutal April stretch of 11 games in 15 days (inlucing the 3-in-a-row stretch).  Doc Rivers is trying to light a fire under his team to avoid a collapse and a first round matchup against the Bulls or Miami.

3:  HIGHLIGHTS!!!

Melo, Maxiell and some vintage Big Ben 

4:  Line of the Night:  Luol Deng – 26 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 4 steals

The Bulls once again won without Derrick Rose, holding off the Celtics thanks to a big fourth quarter performance by Deng.  Deng scored 12 fourth quarter points, including eight in a row in one stretch.  Deng frustrated Boston with his usual pesky defense on Paul Pierce, and by nailing tough shots.  They weren’t all layups for Deng, but the way he was going, they might as well have been.

5:  You can quote me on that

“We’ve been handling adversity all season.  This is just another chapter of it. This is about us players and management sticking together. I love Stan as a coach. Since he’s been here he’s helped my career. Helped tremendously. He’s a great person.”
     Magic guard Jameer Nelson, on the mess in Orlando 

“I don’t want him to [retire], I keep telling him that he can play two or three more years.  The way he works? He’s the first one in the gym every day and the last one out of the gym every day. He looks like he’s 30, not 37.”
     -Pistons guard Will Bynum, on Ben Wallace 

“It wasn’t me going at anybody. I don’t want to get that started.  That’s something that will hopefully go away for him. When guys get frustrated, that’s what happens.”
     - Blake Griffin, on outplaying Kings forward DeMarcus Cousins, who fouled out with 8 points and 3 rebounds. 

“That’s what Blake is going to say because he’s in L.A., where actors belong.  And he’s an actor.”
     -Cousins, in response 

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