It wasn’t quite like LeBron returning to Cleveland or like Death Row Records coming to New York City. But Dwight Howard was showered with more than a few boos in his return to Orlando, and more than a few creative signs. There was a “Judas Coward” and a “Congratulations: we despise you more than Shaq!” and a “Dwight: my four-year-old can make free throws.” It’s too bad none of those signs could play defense because Howard looked like Superman again, obliterating the Magic for 39 points, 16 rebounds and 39 free throw attempts in a 106-97 Lakers win. … L.A. followed Howard’s lead from the start. The big man was active, hyped (he was talking some junk with the fans after sending Tobias Harris‘ runner to the parking lot) and bouncy. The Lakers started the second quarter on a 11-1 run as the center was eating up the glass and getting more involved after Kobe‘s shoot-a-thon to start the opening minutes. Then, he was heavily involved again during a 15-2 third quarter run that sealed the deal … Hopefully you’re keeping an eye on Tobias Harris (17 points, 15 rebounds). He can move, can shoot and actually tries on defense. He blocked a Howard dunk attempt from behind in the third quarter last night that had everyone spitting out their drinks … Dwyane Wade (23 points) and Miami beat Atlanta by 17, extending their winning streak to 19. This one was never in doubt, not after the Heat jumped out 22-10 to start. It’s so depressing to watch Atlanta play, especially when you’re comparing them to a team like the Heat … Just when you wanted to start taking Boston serious, they go and get blown out in Charlotte, 100-74. Gerald Henderson was a monster, scoring 35 points, and even hitting what had to be the shot of the night. In the second quarter, Henderson got the ball after another klutzy move from Byron Mullens. He took one dribble, then launched himself at the rim before contorting his body, double-pumping, and making a layup by releasing the ball down near his feet … In his first action in the first half, Jordan Crawford hit a pull-up and the announcers started saying, “We know from his days in Washington that he’s a volume shooter, and if he gets it going, he is a TOUGH cover” … “Yeah and he posterized Brandon Knight with a dunk the other night that they are still talking about on Twitter.” Um, you mean DeAndre Jordan right? There’s about an eight inch height difference between the two … Ben Gordon (17 points) came in during the second quarter, and this is no lie, took four three-pointers (or near three-pointers) on his first three trips downcourt. The other two times he initially touched it? Pump fakes and nearly more triple attempts. It was unbelievable. He was making Jordan Crawford look like Bob Cousy … And recently on DimeMag.com, we wrote a piece detailing which teams would be interested in signing Tracy McGrady, Gilbert Arenas and Eddy Curry for the stretch run now that their seasons in China are over. We actually spoke to ‘Mac’s agent, Arn Tellem, who told us: “Tracy had a great experience in China and would love to play there again. If an opportunity arises in the NBA he will give it all due consideration. He would be happy to play in the NBA next season but he would be equally content to return to China and play in the CBA.” So much for his “retirement,” although it remains to be seen if anyone ever offers him a NBA shot again … Keep reading to hear about how Vince Carter turned back the clock …
The real Deron Williams is finally back. We waited almost 60 games, but there he was last night against New Orleans, isolating, cracking people with crossovers, hitting everyone else with hesitations, and dropping an easy 21 points and 13 assists in Brooklyn’s 108-98 win. It was a continuation of a stretch (his last 10 games) that has seen him average 23.9 points on 48 percent shooting. His next step is getting his swagger back enough to challenge Kyrie Irving for the title of nastiest ballhandler in the league … Vince Carter must’ve been pissed off we all annointed DeAndre Jordan’s dunk as the best ever because he pulled out the Hot Tub Time Machine last night in Dallas’ seven-point win in Milwaukee. With Monta Ellis (32 points, nine dimes) adding to his body count, and the Bucks charging back into it, Carter scored 11 late points and hit three ridiculous triples to kill all that noise. They were typical VC specials: super off-balance, leaning the opposite way, and they all looked like they could’ve hit the rafters … On one sequence in the fourth quarter, Larry Sanders (13 points, 12 rebounds, four blocks) came out of nowhere to block Darren Collison‘s runner. He scooped it up, led the break, had it knocked away from behind, recovered it, dished it off, and then got it back for a baseline sledgehammer. Another example of why Milwaukee is sneaky fun to watch … In other scores from last night: Cleveland took care of Washington, 95-90, but without Irving around, John Wall had his best night (27 points, seven boards, 14 dimes) of the season; Minnesota and Ricky Rubio‘s triple-double (21 points, 13 rebounds, 12 assists) surprisingly killed San Antonio, 107-83; and Marc Gasol‘s 20 led Memphis to another win, 102-97 over Portland … The McDonald’s All American Games just announced the Morgan Wootten Player of the Year Finalists. For the boys, it’ll be Aaron Gordon from Cali, Aaron and Andrew Harrison of Texas, New York’s Dakari Johnson, and of course, Jabari Parker and Andrew Wiggins. The girls finalists are Lexie Brown, Kaela Davis and Diamond DeShields all from Georgia, Chicago’s Linnae Harper, Taya Reimer of Fishers, Indiana, and Mercedes Russell from Oregon. The winners will be announced on March 18 … The rumors were flowing. Now they’re confirmed: Dime #65 cover boy Aquille Carr won’t be going to college. Instead, he’s taking his talents overseas to make some money. Carr sent a tweet yesterday morning implying that he’s not turning down the money a second time, and an official announcement is expected this weekend. It’s probably a smart move by Carr, and we could see him going over there, starting to make money, and then never come back. Nothing wrong with that. It’s just despicable the stuff you read online when something like this happens. Ninety percent of basketball fans should have their Internet privileges taken away for talking like buffoons … And interestingly, the Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival (April 17-28) will feature two basketball-themed movies. One will be Pat XO, a film that follows Pat Summitt as she moves from the spotlight to her new battle with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. But it’s the second one that has us really excited: Lenny Cooke. Lenny Cooke will dive into the “career” of one of the most hyped high school players ever … We’re out like the Crimestopper.
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