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posted on 8-10-2018 at 02:48 AM
So far the trade for Chris Paul to give the Houston Rockets another superstar to help James Harden has worked famously.
Now the two http://www.49ersauthorizedshops.com/authentic-jeff-locke-jersey , who have both had their fair share of playoff disappointments,
will try to carry their regular-season success into the postseason when the Rockets open a first-round series with Minnesota on Sunday night.
The guards have been effusive in their praise for one another, with Harden recently joking that his relationship with the nine-time All-Star was
”love at first sight.” Paul didn’t go quite that far, but a huge smile crossed his often serious face when asked how their pairing has
”Unbelievable,” he said. ”You just (don’t) get this opportunity too often in a career to play with somebody like James … you get a chance to
”What he’s doing on a nightly basis and stuff like that, it’s crazy and I’m in awe,” Paul continued. ”I’m grateful I get to play
When told of what Paul said about him, Harden was quick to answer.
”You can tell,” he said. ”It feels like it’s been forever but it’s not even been a year yet.”
Their work in the regular season led the Rockets to a franchise-record 65 wins, their first No. 1 seed and sixth straight playoff appearance. They are
looking to win the title for the first time capturing back-to-back championships in 1994-95.
For the 32-year-old Paul http://www.brownsauthorizedshops.com/authentic-antonio-callaway-jersey , it’s a chance for him to finally shake off years off
playoff woes after making nine playoff trips without advancing past the second round. But if he is haunted by the ghosts of playoffs past, he
wouldn’t acknowledge it and was dismissive when asked if he thought this was his best chance to win it all.
”I don’t know,” he said. ”I don’t think about all that.”
What he and the Rockets do know is that they’re facing a talented team in the eighth-seeded Timberwolves, who had to win their last regular-season
game to get into the postseason. They ended the NBA’s longest active playoff drought with their berth, putting them back in the postseason for the
first time since 2004 when they lost to the Lakers in the Western Conference finals.
Getting the Timberwolves into the playoffs is a huge accomplishment for the entire team, but might mean just a little more to star Karl-Anthony Towns,
who made a vow the night Minnesota selected him with the top overall pick in the 2015 draft.
”It means more than I think words can express honestly,” he said. ”I made a promise to … Flip Saunders and it meant a lot to me that I was
able to keep my word.”
Some things to know as the Timberwolves and Rockets open their series:
The series is a homecoming for Minnesota’s Jimmy Butler, who grew up in Tomball, a suburb about 35 miles from downtown Houston. But he insists he
won’t have any time to get back out there this week.
”Nope http://www.buccaneersauthorizedshops.com/authentic-ronald-jones-ii-jersey ,” he said. ”Zero (time). I ain’t even going
home. I’m here to work.”
But he did spend a little time on Saturday reminiscing about his high school days when he idolized a former Rockets star.
”I used to walk around the hallways and in the gym thinking I was Tracy McGrady,” he said. ”I remember it like it was yesterday. He was my
favorite player. I wanted to wear his number, wear his tennis shoes, all of that good stuff.”
Butler, who returned on April 6 after missing 17 games with a knee injury, said he’s fully recovered from his injury and is ”well-rested”
entering the playoffs.
This is the second time these teams have met in the playoffs. Their other meeting came in Minnesota’s first trip in 1997, when the Timberwolves were
swept in three games. That Houston team was led by Hakeem Olajuwon, Clyde Drexler and Charles Barkley, and the Wolves featured Kevin Garnett, Stephon
Marbury and Tom Gugliotta.
LIMIT KAT FROM LONG RANGE
The Rockets are resigned to the fact that Towns Jalyn Holmes Color Rush Jersey , who led the NBA in double-doubles, will get his points under the basket and plenty of
”He’s going to get a double-double,” Houston coach Mike D’Antoni said. ”That’s who he is.”
However, they are not OK with letting him shoot 3-pointers. The 7-foot Towns ranked 14th in the league with a 42 percent average from 3-point range
and knocked down a career-high 120 3-pointers this season.
”We (can’t) leave him open or let him walk into a 3 because we’re not guarding him,” D’Antoni said. ”We have to be aware of that. You
can’t take away his post-ups and his moves in there. He’s going to score on anybody, but you can do a really good job on the 3s.”
Despite finishing as the runner-up for MVP last season and being a front-runner for this year’s award, Harden still faces plenty of criticism for
some of his past performances in the playoffs, notably, a terrible performance in an embarrassing 114-75 elimination loss to San Antonio in the
conference semifinals last season.
But he has never been motivated by criticism, and he finds his drive in a far different place.
”Just going out there and being the best that I can be Sylvester Williams Color Rush Jersey ,” he said. ”There’s no negativity that someone can say that can motivate me. Some
people can get motivated by that. I don’t really care.”
Rodney Hood’s playoff problems now extend to off the court.
Hood, who has seen his role reduced during his first postseason with Cleveland, will not be fined or suspended for refusing to enter Monday night’s
Game 4 blowout win over the Toronto Raptors in the fourth quarter, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press.
Hood feels bad about the incident that happened with 7:38 left in the fourth quarter, and he expressed remorse on Tuesday to team officials about
becoming a distraction, said the person who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation.
The person said disciplinary actions against Hood ”were never a consideration.”
The Athletic first reported that Hood had angered teammates and others in the organization by rejecting coach Tyronn Lue’s instruction to enter the
With Cleveland leading 110-80 and on its way to sweeping the series, the Cavs called timeout to replace superstar LeBron James. Lue told Hood to check
in but he refused, and guard Jose Calderon peeled off his warmup and jogged to the scorer’s table. The AP observed at least one assistant coach
shouting toward Hood.
Earlier in the game, rookie Cedi Osman came in with the second unit and played the minutes that had been going to Hood in Lue’s rotation.
The 25-year-old Hood is averaging 4.6 points in 17 minutes in the postseason. His playing time dropped in the second round – he began the playoffs
against Indiana in the starting lineup – as he struggled with his shot and looked uncomfortable on the floor.
Hood scored just 2 points on 1-of-9 shooting in three appearances against the Raptors.
The Cavaliers acquired Hood at the Feb. 8 trade deadline from Utah. A first-round pick in the 2014 draft, he averaged 16.8 points with the Jazz http://www.steelersauthorizedshops.com/authentic-terrell-edmunds-jersey , but the 6-foot-8 left-hander has never found his
rhythm with Cleveland, which is back in the Eastern Conference finals for the fourth straight season.
Lue said he spoke with Hood at Sunday’s practice and that he understood his role.
”It’s been tough circumstances as far as the first round and playing now and getting spot minutes more than anything,” Lue said. ”He could be
better, he knows that. Just need him to be aggressive.”
Hood started Game 1 against Indiana, but after the Pacers beat the Cavs by 18, Lue changed his lineup. He swapped Hood with Kyle Korver and Cleveland
regrouped, going 8-2 since the change.
Hood will be a restricted free agent this summer.