Good morning. Let's basketball.
HOWARD HACKS BACK: The Spurs decide to hack the heavens out of Dwight Howard in the second half -- to the tune of 22 free throw attempts in 19 minutes -- despite holding him to 2-10 shooting from the floor in the first half. Dwight hit 12 of those free throws, San Antonio's offense went off the rails and the Rockets won without James Harden. Is this the end of the Hack-a-[Blank] strat from Gregg Popovich?
GRIT N GRIND: Memphis is 6-1 since Marc Gasol returned. They held the Blazers to 34 percent shooting in Portland on Tuesday. Are you sufficiently terrified, Western Conference?
W-HAT?: The Wizards beat the Warriors? By stopping the Splash Brothers? Wow!
WIZARD OF OZ: Australian phenom Dante Exum has announced he will enter the 2014 NBA Draft. His current claim to fame: standout performances in recent under-17 and under-19 FIBA competitions and at major shoe company recruiting events (adidas Nations and Nike Hoop Summit). Highlights from the 2013 Hoop Summit show why DraftExpress rates him as the No. 5 draft eligible prospect in the world. Our Jonathan Tjarks has him at No. 3.
MONROH COME ON PISTONS: Marc Stein reports the Pistons aren't looking to move Greg Monroe. Yet.
SMARTEN UP, JOSH: Tom Haberstroh with convincing evidence that Josh Smith is currently the worst shooter in the NBA. If you missed the visual evidence from Sunday, in which Smith hits the top of the backboard on a 12-foot turnaround ... yeah.
PARADE TIME: Heartstring shredder Anthony Bennett hit double figures for the first time in his nascent NBA career. (Yes, garbage time in a blowout Cavs loss was involved.)
KENCEPTION: Kenny Anderson has a painting which features several Kenny Andersons guarding Kenny Andersons on other teams.
SPELLCHECK NO MORE: Arron Afflalo -- everyone knows how to spell his name now -- is in the mix for an All-Star nod. ESPN's Ramona Shelburne has a wonderful, well-reported story on his long grind to make the NBA and make a career for himself. (H/T: Evan Dunlap.)
SUIT AND TIE: Kobe will miss at least three more weeks. The All-Star Game is in about three weeks. It appears Kobe has found a way to ensure he doesn't have to wear one of those hideous uniforms.
INJURY PARTY: Zaza back! Pekovic is out for a little while with bursitis. Iman Shumpert sprained his shoulder just as the Knicks got Kenyon Martin back. Manu dunked, which of course led to a pulled hamstring because Manu is 76 years old and shouldn't be dunking any more. (Twas an awesome dunk, though.)
FORGOT ABOUT DIRK: Dirk Nowitzki has the Mavericks rollin' and looking toward the playoffs. The great Zach Lowe assesses how Dallas did it and how far they can ride it.
UNIONS IN COLLEGE SPORTS: Jason Kirk brilliantly cuts through the ignorance and angst to explain just what unionizing Northwestern University student-athletes are after. Hint: it's not a salary. (Also, Matt Bonner's brother is involved in the push. The Bonners rule.)
TONIGHT: LeBron. Durant. Regular season basketball does not get better than this. 7 p.m. Eastern, ESPN.
Happy Wednesday. See you next time.