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Magic GM Otis Smith on Celtics: They’re Not Tough, They Just Act It

The Boston Celtics have won a championship and been to the NBA Finals two times in the past three seasons, but Orlando Magic GM Otis Smith doesn’t seem to think toughness is the reason they got there.  When Kevin Garnett is healthy, Boston has had one of the best defenses in the NBA since 2007, but according to Smith even the weak can accomplish that feat.

As you know, the Celtics defeated the Magic on Monday night thanks in large part to the return of K.G., who had a crucial steal late in the game.  Again, Smith is not impressed.  When the Orlando Sentinel asked the Magic GM if his team was tougher at this stage in the season than they were before, he said “tough is relative,” prompting the reporter to bring up the team that beat Orlando on Monday — the Celtics.

“They act tough,” Smith said. “They’re not really tough. They act tough.”

Interesting thoughts from a front office member whose team was dominated by Boston in the playoffs last season.  Orlando handled the Green on Christmas Day, but the Celtics have generally gotten the best of them over the past three seasons when healthy.  Maybe he doesn’t like Boston, but you can’t say they aren’t a tough team.  You can disagree with some of Garnett’s antics and the way they go about their business, but you don’t accomplish what Boston has accomplished and play the kind of defense they’ve played over the past three-plus seasons without being tough.

John Wall Has Asked for Mark Sanchez Body Language Fine Treatment

Despite opening up the year to much anticipation and fanfare, all hasn’t gone perfectly for John Wall in his first season in the NBA. The top overall pick in the draft has missed stretches of games because of knee and foot injuries, and his team is last in its division at 12-27. Wall has played well when healthy, averaging 15.4 points and 9.1 assists per game. Beyond simply improving his game, it appears as if Wall is interested in mastering all aspects of being a superstar, and that includes body language on the court.

Much like mark Sanchez who began the same system with the Jets this season, Wall reportedly has asked his coaches to fine him for when he has negative expressions on the court. From The Washington Post via Rotoworld:

[Wall] even asked to receive fines whenever he starts to pout, sulk or show frustration during games.

“It ain’t too much,” Wall said of the fines, “but it’s enough to keep my pockets empty. I don’t want to lose that money.”

That’s just part of John’s quest to be a great point guard. Let’s see, he was a good student in school at Kentucky despite knowing he was going pro, became the top overall pick where he’s progressed nicely, and now he’s asking for body language fines? It seems too good to be true. How can you not pull for him?

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Bob Leverone

Donald Sterling Reportedly Said He Wanted to Fire David Stern

Right now we’re going to be taking a trip in the way back machine, but it should be fun. According to Mark Heisler of the LA Times, about a year or so ago at an owners meeting in Las Vegas, Commissioner David Stern (who in case you didn’t know, is employed by the owners), asked Clippers owner Donald Sterling for his opinion on a subject.

Heisler says three sources told him Sterling said “OK, I would fire you. You’re great at marketing, but you’re not tough enough with the union.”

And the legend continues. This coming from the same guy who heckles his own players and supposedly has no regard for their privacy. Given the league’s potential lockout looming, I’m guessing he’s not the only owner who feels that way, but should we be surprised by his reported brashness? We’ve learned to know better than that. Something tells me the long-standing curse over the franchise is not a coincidence (not that it matters to him since he’s making all the money).

Shaq Not Player He Was, but Accepting of His New Role

In his 19th year in the NBA, Celtics center Shaquille O’Neal is a far cry from the explosive young player he was when he entered the league with the Orlando Magic. He’s not the still explosive, but bulkier player he was during his time with the Lakers or the Heat. What he is now is a role player who can step up and show flashes of his old self when called upon, as he did on Friday night against the Bobcats:

Shaq’s game has always been predicated on power, which makes sense considering he’s currently listed at 325 pounds, though opponents have always claimed his weight was a conservative estimate. Despite the power, he’s also always displayed incredible footwork and hands for a man his size — two attributes that have allowed him to continue playing even as his athleticism diminished. All that takes a backseat to the fact that Shaq has accepted his new role. With the Celtics he has shown a willingness to come off the bench and fill-in for the injured Kevin Garnett. If Allen Iverson were actually willing to accept such a role, he’d probably still be in the NBA instead Turkey.

Thanks to weedfan for the video.

Dirk Nowitzki Knee Injury Magnifies His Importance to Dallas Mavericks

Though Dirk Nowitzki has won an MVP award and gone to nine straight All-Star games, you won’t find his name in the conversation for best player in the NBA. LeBron, Kobe, Dwight, Dwyane, Durant — everyone talks about those guys, but Dirk seems to play without too many people noticing. Matter of conjecture, Dirk’s steadiness and reliability has made his constantly stellar play go under-appreciated.

It’s a sad commentary on our society and media that a player needs to get hurt for many of us to see his value, but that’s happened with Dirk. Nowitzki has missed the last nine games for the Mavericks since spraining his knee early in the team’s December 27th win over the Thunder. They lost three in a row after he first got hurt, beat the Cavs and Blazers in back-to-back games, and now they’ve lost four in a row.

You could argue that the Mavs have had a poor record since losing Dirk to injury because of a tough schedule, but that would be inaccurate. Four of the eight teams to whom they’ve lost have losing records. Two of the team’s losses have come against the team with the NBA’s best record — the Spurs — while another came against the Magic. Even though both teams are good, the Mavs beat each one earlier in the year when Dirk was in the lineup.

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Darko Milicic Scores on His Basket (Video)

If there were any way to perfectly sum up Darko Milicic’s career in 15 seconds, this would be it:

Of course the basket didn’t end up hurting his team as Minnesota beat Washington 109-97. Darko actually had 14 and 11 in the game (not sure if they added in his bucket for the Wizards), but he’s still falling well short of David Kahn’s predictions. Crazy enough, this isn’t the first time we’ve had video of good NBA players scoring on their own hoop.

Check out when it happened to Rasheed Wallace and DeJuan Blair.

Rajon Rondo Has Made a Habit of Beating the Buzzer

In his fifth year in the NBA out of Kentucky, Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo has established himself as one of the premier point guards in the league. He leads the NBA in assists per game with 13.4 — nearly three assists more than the guy in second, Steve Nash. He’s second only to Chris Paul in steals per game, and is one of only two players, the other being LeBron James, with multiple triple-doubles. Despite all that, this week for Rondo has been about buzzer-beaters. Check out Rondo’s second buzzer-beater of the week (the first came on Monday against the Rockets):

These two shots are far from the first of Rondo’s career. He’s hit quite a few of them, though all but one have come mid-game, as opposed to at the end. This buzzer-beater from last season is the only one to come at the end of regulation. He’s a long way from matching Big Shot Rob, but he’s working on it.

Thanks to RaJon9RoNdo for the video.