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NBA ICYMI: Dwight Howard Should Be Ready to Kiss a Few Grand Goodbye

But at least he made his free throws! Plus: another round of ejections, another dodged bullet for Golden State, and another night of everything you need to know in the NBA.

Dwight Howard Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

All the need-to-know info from Wednesday’s slate.

Fight Night Strikes Again

For the third night in a row, in-game altercations have resulted in ejections. (On Monday, it was the Rockets-Clippers saga, and on Tuesday, it was the Arron Afflalo swing and miss.) On Wednesday, Tim Frazier and Michael-Carter Williams were tossed from the Wizards-Hornets game. Jason Smith and MCW got tangled going up for a rebound and ended up on the ground; Carter-Williams came up heated and went to approach Smith. Frazier swooped in to defend his teammate. Bring it, Thursday.

A Warm and Winning Welcome Back for Steve Clifford

How kind of the Wizards to let Charlotte put up a franchise-record 77 first-half points to honor Clifford’s return. The Hornets head coach missed 21 games due to intense headaches, last coaching on December 1. (The team went 9-12 under assistant Stephen Silas.)

Charlotte started hot—going a perfect 10-for-10 from the field to kick off the game—and ended with fat stat lines. Four of its five starters shot 50 percent or better, including the struggling Nic Batum, who managed 11 points. Dwight Howard proverbially scoffed at Marcin Gortat, holding the Wizards center to a whopping zero points, and finished with 18 of his own to go with 15 rebounds.

But the best Dwight moment came after the aforementioned ejections. With MCW thrown out, Scott Brooks could choose who he wanted to take the technical free throws. He chose Howard, who had already subbed out for good at that point. Dwight, a career 56.4 percent free throw shooter, drained both, channeled Sam Cassell’s jewels, and blew Brooks a kiss.

If ever a fine (which, yes, dear reader, is coming) was worth it.

World on My Shoulders As I Run Back Down This Eight-Second Court

In a game of runs, it was ultimately an eight-second violation that did the Nuggets in. With three minutes remaining and Denver down 99-98, Mike Malone tried Hack-a-Trez on Clippers big man Montrezl Harrell. A career 60.4 percent free throw shooter, Harrell missed both, returning the ball to Denver. Gary Harris leisurely took the ball down the court as the Nuggets set—he was too unhurried, though, and was called for the eight-second violation.

Malone went with the Hack-a-Trez again; this time, Harrell went 50/50, and Denver had lost offensive momentum. (He was intentionally fouled once more, on the next possession, but made both. That was the end of that.)

After his final free throws of the game, Harrell blocked Mason Plumlee’s layup on the other end, setting up Wesley Johnson for the 3, and gave the Clippers for their largest lead of the game.

The final score was 109-104, L.A.—that’s six straight wins for the Clips, who jumped Denver for a playoff spot.

Golden State Dodges a Bullet

Warriors center Jordan Bell was carted off the court Wednesday within the first 30 seconds of play. After leaping upward to contest a Robin Lopez dunk, Bell landed on one leg with all of his weight, and his ankle bowed:

(A slowed-down version is linked here, but warning, it’s pretty cringe-worthy.) Golden State later announced that Bell suffered a left ankle sprain, and his X-rays were negative. The rookie will undergo an MRI tomorrow.

Kris Dunn Takes a Scary Fall

After landing face-first following a transition dunk, the Bulls guard was cleared of a concussion but the team said he chipped and “dislocated” two teeth. He will be reevaluated on Thursday.

Lauri Markkanen Assassinates the Baby Face

Another Kind of Behind the Back

Battle of the Birds

Here are Anthony Davis’s last three stat lines heading into Wednesday’s contest against the Hawks:

45 points, 16 rebounds (eight offensive) vs. Boston (top-rated defense)

48 points 17 rebounds (six offensive) vs. Knicks

36 points, nine rebounds (five offensive) vs. Portland (seventh-best defense)

In 38 minutes against Atlanta, AD finished with eight points, his second-fewest all season, and seven rebounds. (Even the Brow falls down sometimes.) Kent Bazemore hit the game-winning shot over Davis, too, crossing AD up for a deep 2-pointer.

The Hawks held New Orleans to a 10-point third quarter and came back from a 19-point deficit for the 94-93 win.

Donovan Mitchell Can’t Stop

Donovan Mitchell Won’t Stop

B-B-B-Bennie and the Missteps

Klaythesim: Join Your Local Chapter Today

Klay Thompson scored a season-high 38 points on 12-for-22 shooting, including seven 3-pointers in Golden State’s 119-112 victory over the Bulls.

New York’s Defense on a Spectrum

First ooh and aah at Frank Ntilikina, whose steal on Wednesday offset his poor shooting (0-for-6 and zero points against the Grizzlies, but seven assists):

And then there’s Kristaps Porzingis on the perimeter:

Memphis outlasted the Knicks, 105-99, after the latter brought the score within three in the final minute. Tyreke Evans continued his season-long shine, ending with 23 points, 10 assists, and six rebounds.

Yer a Wizard, Blake

Run of the Mills

Hours after the very sad news that Kawhi Leonard will miss more time to rehab his right quad injury, San Antonio stamped out an encouraging win over the Nets, 100-95. Patty Mills let go and let god from the perimeter, hitting a career-best seven 3-pointers—

—and threw the dime to LaMarcus Aldridge for the three-point play that helped the Spurs pull away for good. LMA had a game-best 34 points.

Big Men Battle

Andre Drummond’s 25 points and 17 boards (which accounted for 40 percent of Detroit’s total rebounds) couldn’t stop the Raptors, who won 96-91, or Jonas Valanciunas, who ended with 17 and 16.

(Also: Avery Bradley, who is dealing with a groin strain, managed 19 points. He’s planning to see a specialist Thursday.)

Why Hello, Hassan

Since returning from a knee injury that kept him out for 13 games, Whiteside’s contributions and minutes have been minimal. Erik Spoelstra has benched the center during the fourth quarter for half of Miami’s 10 games since his return, but on Wednesday against the Bucks, he needed him in late.

Miami escaped Milwaukee win a 106-101 win, and Whiteside finished with season highs in points (27) and blocks (six), along with 13 rebounds. The Heat have won eight of their past nine games.