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Wednesday night NBA grades: Greg Oden is back — that is a story worth celebrating

Jan 16, 2014, 1:57 AM EDT

Miami Heat vs Washington Wizards Getty Images

Our quick look around the NBA, or what you missed while wondering what kind of Little League coach sues one of his 14-year-old players

source:  Greg Oden, Miami Heat. He made it back, and that is the story. Tonight he had six points on 2-of-3 shooting in 8:24 on the court — what matters is that he was on the court at all. Greg Oden, the modern poster child for how knee injuries (three microfracture surgeries) can derail a career, showed what happened when he refused to give up. He may not be what was expected of a No. 1 pick but that he’s here seeking a measure of redemption is great for the game nonetheless. More than four years since he last set foot on an NBA court he was back out there for the Heat, playing in an NBA game.

We as fans celebrate the amazing athleticism in the NBA, the intelligent play we see, the drama of the game, the beauty of it, as we should. But there will be no better human story in the NBA this season than the fact Greg Oden made it back on the court — most people would have taken the money (more than $23 million in salary from his rookie deal) and spent the rest of their life on the couch bemoaning what might have been. Or, they might have crawled into a bottle. Oden had some rough years but he didn’t give up, he worked diligently through more rehab than you or I would tolerated, and he made it all the way back. That is something we should be celebrating as fans, as lovers of the game, and as caring human beings.

source:  J.J. Redick, Los Angeles Clippers. The Clippers missed J.J. Redick (he just got back Friday from a broken wrist). Los Angeles likes to start games running Redick off a few picks to get a quick catch-and-shoot (think how Doc Rivers’ teams used Ray Allen in Boston) and it worked against Dallas as Monta Ellis is not exactly fond of chasing a waterbug around the court. Redick hit is first few and his confidence back — he had 23 points on 8-of-11 shooting in the first half, and 33 points for the game on 14 shots. That included a key three late to make it a one-point game during the Clippers comeback. “I’ve not seen a lot of guys that missed the amount of games that he’s missed and come back this sharp,” Doc Rivers said after the game. “When you think about it he had a broken wrist, so it’s not like he’s been hurt shooting, he’s not been able to shoot through this time and yet he comes back and… he’s a tough dude.”

source:  Victor Oladipo, Orlando Magic. It was the best game of the rookie’s season — 35 points on an impressive 15-of-24 shooting. He picked up 14 of those in the second quarter on 5-of-6 shooting — he was attacking the paint in the quarter and getting to the line, then he showed his range and knocked down a three. Oladipo is one of three guys seriously in the Rookie of the Year running (Michael Carter-Williams and Trey Burke are the others) and it is games like this that make you think he might be the best of the group in a few years.

source:   Miami Heat. That’s three losses in a row to below .500 teams: the Knicks, Nets and now they fell by 17 to the Wizards. Dwyane Wade should have taken the night off, he was terrible at both ends of the court. Really this losing streak is part of a bigger trend — 9 of Miami’s 11 losses this season are to teams below .500 (Indiana and Golden State are the exceptions). With all due respect to the Wizards and the two teams out of New York (they are all playing better lately) this is as much about where the Heat are at mentally right now, and it’s not where they should be. They will still be the East’s two seed, the issue is they are not building good habits toward the postseason. Indiana is.

source:   Jimmy Butler, Chicago Bulls. This is an “A” for effort. Butler gets to be first in line for the ice bath — he played 60:20 in the Bulls triple-overtime win over the magic. That is the most by any NBA player since Jalen Rose played 61 for the Pacers back in March 2001. In all that time Butler racked up 21 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists.

source:   Jared Sullinger, Boston Celtics. Boston snapped its nine-game losing streak and Jared Sullinger was the reason — 25 points on 7-of-14 shooting, plus 20 rebounds. Maybe it was a trade bump, maybe it was Boston being more focused on the defensive end, but whatever the reason the team looked better and Sullinger looked the best he had all season.

  1. shanelsweet - Jan 16, 2014 at 5:45 AM

    Gee Wiz, where’s the love for any of the players that handed the World Champions their 3rd loss in a row? As seldom as that happens, you’d think they’d deserve a mention or two.

  2. fanofevilempire - Jan 16, 2014 at 7:32 AM

    where is all the Heat fans, Pat Riley better not print up those 3peat tee shirts just yet.
    Miami looks like a regular team, King may have to go back to Cleveland, they have a
    better chance of winning.

    • 1heatedtoombrayduh - Jan 16, 2014 at 8:36 AM

      LOL get real dude…did you see who all played today..yes the wizards was ABSOLUTELY the better team..but spoelstra was tinkering with the lineup to see what will work in the future..its all about the post season baby

    • aboogy123456 - Jan 16, 2014 at 11:04 AM

      Yea the heat are definitely just taking it easy right now because they are bored and are going through the motions before the play the pacers in the conference finals, because they know that will eventually happen. The way the heat treat the regular season does make me question their true desire to win basketball games. How many times do we hear lebron say that all he wants to do is win? Then at the end of the season he takes a week off to get ready for the playoffs. I think all these guys want is the glory of championships, but they don’t have that true competitive nature. There’s nothing wrong with that, but guys like kobe want to play hard every single game, and win in practice, all star games, exhibition games, and all the time. There’s a difference.

      • zeedoubleyou - Jan 16, 2014 at 1:13 PM

        Maybe, just maybe, that’s why Kobe’s body is breaking down in front of our eyes.

      • aboogy123456 - Jan 16, 2014 at 1:59 PM

        yea maybe you’re right, but i’d rather have a guy that plays hard his whole career and gives the fans a great show every night, than a group of guys who pretend to be competitive and only turn it on in the playoffs.

  3. jbeagles23 - Jan 16, 2014 at 8:20 AM

    Heat fans are all over these boards. Heat fans see it for what it is. A team not interested in the regular season especially before the all star break. This team hasn’t hit full gear yet.

    • hwatt - Jan 16, 2014 at 9:09 AM

      Thank you. Last year proved that they don’t take the rest of the league seriously until after the all-star break. They WILL play a longer season than every other team in the league except their Finals opponent. They also showed taking the 1st half of the season off had no negative effects in the Finals.. if anything they were full of energy. Bad troll post, Kurt.

  4. xli2006 - Jan 16, 2014 at 8:35 AM

    Welcome back Greg. (Note: The Heat got smoked by the Wizards. For some reason no mention of that.)

    • obmig - Jan 16, 2014 at 9:35 AM

      That’s exactly what I was going to say. The Wizards play against the champs was the story of the night for me and it didn’t even get a mention on the site.

      • belleby123 - Jan 16, 2014 at 6:48 PM

        No followup on Lebron’s “Just wait until you see what I do on Wed. night” either. I could swear there is some kind of favoritism going on here.

  5. jcmeyer10 - Jan 16, 2014 at 9:14 AM

    The highlight of Sullinger’s night was a three offensive rebound possession that ended with a tip in. He cannot jump more than two inches but is a monster on the glass.

  6. misremembered72 - Jan 16, 2014 at 9:31 AM

    Dude give me a break with that Victor Oladipo crap. He scored that much in a 3 overtime game which he had 8 turnovers in and his team lost to a super short handed bulls team. MCW has been keeping every other rookie at arms length anddd he still could still bulk up and improve his shooting so much. Why is Oladipo so certain to be the best of the bunch. BTW MCW line was almost just as good last night while playing 25 minutes less! 20 points (8-15) 8reb 7assists and 2TOs

    • Kurt Helin - Jan 16, 2014 at 7:42 PM

      I said could, not would. Heck, Nerlens Noel could be the best in three years, just a feeling. MCW is the ROY right now but there is half a season to go.

  7. dolphindubs - Jan 16, 2014 at 10:15 AM

    Heat fans are like the Heat players, not concerned about the regular season just waiting for the playoffs.

    And somebody tell the Wizards if they would play with that much focus and intensity in every game as they did last night they would be one hell of a team!

  8. timb12 - Jan 16, 2014 at 10:39 AM

    The double standard for the Heat bothers me. When they lose, then it’s just about the playoffs. But when they win they made a statement and showed their dominance. You can’t have it both ways, but I guess it comes with being the champs. It’s still lame.

    • asimonetti88 - Jan 16, 2014 at 10:50 AM

      Anyone who says last night’s loss is only because the Heat just care about the playoffs, not the regular season, is kidding themselves. They got worked hard last night. This is a team that has been to the Finals three straight years, you know they have the pride to not let themselves get worked like that. They were beat because the Wizards played better, played harder and executed better last night. Not because the Heat didn’t care.

  9. dolphindubs - Jan 16, 2014 at 11:25 AM

    @asimonetti88

    Absolutely the Heat got worked hard last night. The Wizards were playing like it was Game 7 of the NBA Finals. Miami has actually been to a Game 7 of the Finals and they are smart enough to know there is a difference between those games and regular season games. Miami has enough respect to not want to get beat down like that, but aren’t concerned enough to over-exert themselves and risk injury. Its not so much a matter of not caring about the regular season as it is about not putting all their eggs in a regular season basket.

    • asimonetti88 - Jan 16, 2014 at 11:31 AM

      Ok. So next time the Heat win a big game in the regular season, don’t say anything about it being proof of anything, since no one puts all their eggs into a regular season basket.

    • bucrightoff - Jan 16, 2014 at 12:06 PM

      Heat fans, please don’t ever wonder why everyone dislikes you and can’t wait for the bandwagon to lose 90% of that fanbase. No doubt you fools consider this Miami team (2010 to present) better than the Bulls of the 90s or Lakers or Celtics of the 80s. Newsflash: You aren’t even better than the Bad Boys Pistons. Bring it every night and we can talk.

      • miamatt - Jan 16, 2014 at 12:28 PM

        I’m not going to get into a comparison of whether the Heat are better than past dynasties, Miami is still in the thick of it and we can’t really have a discussion until it is over.

        But for you to call Heat fans fools out of one side of your mouth and talk this “bring it every night” junk out of the other is just absurd. No excuse for the Heat’s recent performances, but there is not one current or former NBA player who even thinks that it is possible to play max effort every single night for an 82 game regular season and then up the ante for the playoffs. Literally not one. And don’t give me some Jordan or Kobe junk, I was there for both of those guys and they had their off nights just the same. It’s an ugly truth but it is truth nonetheless.

  10. miamatt - Jan 16, 2014 at 12:21 PM

    The Heat sucked something fierce last night, but Greg Oden suuuuure looked good out there.

    Credit to the Wizards, they played great, but the Heat are 11-2 against teams over .500, which is BY FAR the best mark in the NBA. Let’s not get too caught up trying to read the tea leaves over a January slump.

  11. jbeagles23 - Jan 16, 2014 at 2:54 PM

    What do te heat have to prove to anyone in January? They play almost every player nightly while taking every teams best shot

    • belleby123 - Jan 16, 2014 at 7:00 PM

      I agree, why should the Heat try and prove anything at this point? Being the champions they are, they should be perfectly content with the obvious fact that the Pacers are the best team in the East right now.

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