So long, Superman. It was reported late that Dwight Howard will undergo season-ending back surgery on his herniated disc, news his agent and the team confirmed. After Stan Van Gundy said Dwight wanted him fired a couple weeks back, Howard missed a couple games with back spasms. Everyone read that to mean: I’ve given up. Turns out, the back injury is no joke. Just ask David Robinson, whose career had a painful end because of a similar injury. Now Howard’s out for the Olympics, too, which means Spain has one fewer U.S. big man to worry about. … Indiana came out on fire but its win over Milwaukee almost came to blows. In the first three minutes all five starters had scored. The fans must have been inspired, because they were hot on ex-Pacer Mike Dunleavy Jr.’s case every time he touched the ball. George Hill, putting up 14 per game in his six starts, had 10 in the first quarter. … Dunleavy came back with a dozen of his own in the first half, but Granger (29 points) nearly undressed him with a behind-the-back move in transition. Then all of the sudden the game took a 90-degree turn from playoff intensity into, you guys just want to do this? Leandro Barbosa dropped Dunleavy on a transition layup into Tyler Hansbrough, and that almost started a scuffle (Dunleavy may have broken Psycho T’s nose in March but Ali vs. Frazier it ain’t). Then, Larry Sanders got ejected after pointing an accusing finger at David West, who didn’t take it lightly. Even coach Frank Vogel had to get in front of West there. Bottom line, the Pacers earned home-court advantage for the first round, while the Bucks are losing ground for a playoff spot. … Minnesota hadn’t won a game in April since 2009, or 27 games — until Thursday. Everyone cleared out for Minny’s Nikola Pekovic and Detroit’s Tayshaun Prince (18 points) early in the first, with each making their first three shots. While the Wolves tried to feed Pek every chance they got, Prince was spinning on dudes like he had two turntables and a microphone. Wesley Johnson and Martell Webster filed insurance claims for whiplash after Prince’s post spin moves. Well, Pekovic (23 points) and J.J. Barea never really slowed down, with Barea getting 13 points, 12 assists and six boards. You’d think it would be harder for Pekovic to produce without Kevin Love protecting him, but Greg Monroe (an invisible six points and five boards) had very little luck keeping Pek more than six feet out from the hoop on entry passes. … Only a handful of games left and Houston, we have a problem. The Rockets lost their sixth straight, and this one to New Orleans, and now they’re a game behind Utah in No. 9 position. Eric Gordon was the main reason why the Hornets were clicking with his 27 points. He brought them back after being down double digits in the second quarter. It’s not even a good night for the Rockets seeing Goran Dragic drop 23 to get them back into it in the fourth. Since he’s been starting he’s been improving his free agent stock to drive up the bidding. … Hit the jump to hear about the night’s most physical game.
Smack / Apr 20, 2012 / 1:23 am
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