Jazz playing good basketball lately

Utah Jazz playing good basketball lately

Here’s the Deseret News reporting on the Utah Jazz, who are 23-35 and have won six of their last eight games:

It began a positive, albeit not steady, incline with the team’s first win over San Antonio followed by an impressive 3-3 showing on the pre-Christmas trip.

Even with last Wednesday’s disappointing loss to the Lakers, the Jazz are playing their best basketball of the season, especially defensively.

Since the All-Star break — or the trade deadline when Enes Kanter was dealt to Oklahoma City, you decide — the Jazz have won four of five games while limiting opponents to an astonishingly low 82.8 points per game.

That’s helped the Jazz climb to the 23rd spot in the NBA’s defensive efficiency ratings for the season. Utah is giving up 104.4 points per 100 possessions this year compared to a league-worst 109.1 last season (and even more than that earlier this season).

Warriors give credit to Celtics

Warriors give credit to Celtics

Here’s ESPN Boston reporting on the Celtics, whose effort is winning them some respect even in losses:

The Boston Celtics already had overhauled their roster twice before visiting the Golden State Warriors in late January. The Celtics still looked a bit different to the NBA’s best squad on Sunday because of two more swaps at February’s deadline.

The Warriors showered the current version of the Celtics with praise after rallying from a 26-point deficit for a 106-101 triumph at TD Garden.

“We studied them [this weekend] and the trades they made, obviously they’re not as familiar with each other but the talent they have and the pace that they try to play at now is tough and they showed that obviously in the first quarter,” Steph Curry said. “We had to make adjustments, we didn’t want to be down 26.”

Echoed Splash Brother Klay Thompson: “[The Celtics have] improved since the last time we played them. They play real well together, I’m just happy we grinded it out.”

Andrea Bargnani getting buckets for Knicks

Here’s the New York Post reporting a bright spot for the Knicks lately:

Andrea Bargnani getting buckets for Knicks

Andrea Bargnani insists his recent surge is all about being aggressive — and shedding rust. He has scored double-figure points in six straight games (15.7 ppg) and has scored 61 (20.3) in his last three, including 19 against the Raptors.

“Just be aggressive, do what I do,” Bargnani said, noting the rust is coming off after his long inactivity — plus the games Friday and Saturday were his first back-to-backs since Jan. 16 and 17 of last year.

“I feel good, pretty good. This is the first back-to-back in 13 months for me,” said Bargnani, who has shot 21-of-45 (47 percent) in those last three games. “I’m happy we won both games so that’s pretty good.”

Markieff Morris wants more home team support from Suns fans

Here’s the Arizona Republic reporting on the Phoenix Suns, who got wrecked by the San Antonio Spurs Saturday. But after the game, Suns forward Markieff Morris spoke up about what he feels is a regular problem that goes beyond one mere game. He wants Suns fans in Phoenix to be loud and proud about supporting their squad:

Markieff Morris wants more home support from Suns fans

After the Suns set a 47-year-old franchise low by scoring 24 points in a half and matching their worst margin of defeat this season, Morris used the postgame forum Saturday to complain about Suns fans at home games.

Morris has not been alone in recent murmuring about the lack of fervor from home crowds, but he was the first to be so publicly critical of it on the strangest of nights to do so.

“I don’t think we have a home-court advantage,” Markieff said. “It does not feel like a home-court advantage at all. Some games are going to be bad. You can’t win every game. That comes along with sports. Nobody wins games. We need the support. We need, as a team, to know that our fans are going to be behind us and I don’t feel like this year they’re behind us enough.

“I feel like we do have those genuine Suns fans but, for the most part, I feel like we had more San Antonio than Phoenix fans tonight.”

Spencer Dinwiddie plays well for Pistons in loss

Here’s Michigan Live reporting some silver lining for the Detroit Pistons, who lost Saturday to the Washington Wizards:

Spencer Dinwiddie plays well for Pistons in loss

Detroit Pistons rookie Spencer Dinwiddie wasn’t ready to take over the starting job at point guard, which is why the team traded for Reggie Jackson. But Saturday night, in an ill-fated comeback attempt, the second-round draft pick offered some hope for the future.

The Pistons lost 99-95 to the Washington Wizards, but Dinwiddie rallied them from a 21-point deficit in the second half, and even scored the go-ahead basket in the fourth quarter.

The deficit was too big however, and the Pistons (23-36) lost lost their third in a row, while the Wizards (34-26) broke a six-game losing streak.

Dinwiddie a second-round draft pick from Colorado, had 20 points, eight assists and four rebounds. Monroe led the Pistons with 21 points and 10 rebounds.

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook underwent a successful procedure today to address a fracture to the zygomatic arch of his right cheek, Thunder Executive Vice President and General Manager Sam Presti announced.

The procedure was performed by Dr. John Joseph Rehm and Dr. Jason Hamilton with Thunder medical personnel present at the Osborne Head and Neck Institute in Los Angeles, Calif. Westbrook will miss tomorrow’s game against the Los Angeles Lakers and will be re-evaluated later this week.

In 45 games this season (all starts), Westbrook is averaging 26.5 points, 8.1 assists and 6.8 rebounds in 33.0 minutes per game. Westbrook has recorded three straight triple-doubles and after last night’s performance in Portland, his 31.2 points, 9.1 rebounds and 10.3 assists for the month of February made him the first player since Oscar Robertson to achieve those marks over the course of a month.

Kyrie Irving out with shoulder strain

Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving experienced a left shoulder injury during Thursday night’s game at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland vs. the Golden State Warriors. He did not travel with the team on the current two game road trip to Indianapolis and Houston and received additional examination, including an MRI, Friday morning at Cleveland Clinic Sports Health, the results of which confirmed a left shoulder strain.

Irving was Out for the game against the Pacers last night, is receiving additional treatment today and tomorrow at Cleveland Clinic Courts and will be Out for the game in Houston against the Rockets Sunday afternoon.

His status will next be updated Tuesday morning at the team’s shoot around in advance of Tuesday’s home game vs. the Boston Celtics.           

Blazers survive monster game from Westbrook

Blazers survive monster game from Westbrook

Here’s the Oregonian reporting on the Portland Trail Blazers, who were able to come away with a win despite Russell Westbrook unleashing yet another monster game for the OKC Thunder as Kevin Durant continues to miss time due to injury:

Nicolas Batum looked over the stat sheet searching for something he could point to explain the Trail Blazers comeback win over the Oklahoma City Thunder.

“We…stepped up defensively,” Batum finally said after an extended pause. The Blazers’ small forward sat in front of his locker with ice on both of his knees after he was tasked with slowing Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook down the stretch of an exhilarating victory.

“That was a playoff game,” Batum said. “That was a playoff game.”

The Blazers rode the postseason atmosphere inside the Moda Center to a 115-112 win over the Thunder on Friday night, overcoming an 13-point fourth quarter deficit in the process.

Westbrook was electric. He ended his historic February with his third straight triple-double, finishing with 40 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists. But the Blazers slowed him just enough in the closing minutes to escape with the win.

Wizards keep struggling, fall to Sixers

Wizards keep struggling, fall to Sixers

Here’s the Washington Post reporting on the Wizards, who are dropping games left and right these days and are 33-26 for the season and losers of six games in a row:

No, the Washington Wizards had not reached their lowest possible point Wednesday, when they lost by 20 to the Minnesota Timberwolves, the worst team in the Western Conference.

On Friday night, the Wizards sank even more with an 89-81 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, a franchise constructed to lose to land the best draft pick possible.

The loss, the Wizards’ sixth straight, earned Washington its longest losing streak in more than two seasons and was a full face plant into misery, code red for a team that just a month ago harbored title aspirations.

The defeat came on the heels of a team dinner Thursday, when all 14 players dined together at a Brazilian steakhouse. It was captured in an Instagram post by Marcin Gortat with the caption “Team dinner….Staying together!”

A night later, they were dreadful in a loss to a team they dismantled by 35 points in their previous meeting. The loss was Wizards’ 11th in 13 games and 13th in 17.

Anthony Mason dead at 48

Anthony Mason dead at 48

Here’s the New York Daily News reporting that beloved former New York Knick Anthony Mason has passed away at the age of 48:

Anthony Mason, a bruising power forward who personified the gritty Knicks of the mid-’90s, died early Saturday morning. He was 48. Mason had suffered a massive heart attack earlier in the month.

Mason played 13 seasons in the NBA with six teams but is best remembered for his days with the Knicks. After playing abroad and in both the CBA and USBL, Mason had brief stints with the Nets and Denver before being signed by Pat Riley, who admired his rugged style and his playmaking ability. Along with Patrick Ewing and Charles Oakley, he helped give the Knicks of the early ’90s one of the most physically imposing front lines in NBA history.

“He was as tough as they come,” Oakley told the News.

“First I want to think all those who offered prayers and well-wishes for my Father, our family really appreciates it,” Anthony Mason Jr. said in a statement.


The Mason Family: “We would like to thank everyone for their heartfelt thoughts and strong prayers. Anthony felt each and every one. He fought like a warrior to the very end. Please keep your prayers and thoughts with us through this very hard time – it is a great loss for us. We ask for our privacy during this time.”

Phil Jackson: “As a competitor, there was none fiercer than Anthony Mason. Standing on the opposite end of the playing field, coaching in those great Chicago/New York battles, No. 14 in the Orange and Blue always stood out. On behalf of the entire Knickerbocker community, our condolences go out to Lahis family. Rest in peace, Mase.”

Steve Mills: “For five seasons, Anthony Mason proudly donned a Knicks uniform like no other of his era. His New York City roots, his passion for the City game, his desire to win and his tenacity for defense made him a fan-favorite across the five boroughs, and beyond for every Knickerbocker. All of us here at the New York Knicks will remember Mase and cherish his legacy.”

Isaiah Thomas playing well for Celtics

Isaiah Thomas playing well for Celtics

Here’s the Boston.com Blog reporting on the Celtics, who are having fun lately:

The Isaiah Thomas era continued its promising start on Friday night.

Boston’s new point guard scored 21 of his 28 points in the second half, enabling the Celtics to fight back from a 16-point second half deficit against the Charlotte Hornets, and pull away for a 106-98 win.

Avery Bradley added 19 points for the hosts, and Jonas Jerebko chipped in with 16 points off the bench for the Celtics, who have now won three straight games and seven of their last ten overall. Mo Williams had a game-high 31 points for the Hornets in the setback.

Pistons suffer frustrating loss to Knicks

Pistons suffer frustrating loss to Knicks

Here’s Michigan Live reporting on the Detroit Pistons, who lost to a team that not a lot of people lose to these days:

This is the kind of performance a non-playoff team offers. And maybe that’s precisely what the Detroit Pistons are.

The Pistons became the first team since Carmelo Anthony called an end to his season to lose to the New York Knicks, 121-115 in double-overtime Friday at The Palace of Auburn Hills.

For a team scraping to find its way into the postseason, it was a devastating loss to the worst team in the league, and no way to end a long stretch of home games.

The teams with the six worst records in the NBA now all have beaten the Pistons, who have lost to every team in the league except Houston, Miami and Sacramento.

New York (11-46) had lost eight in a row, and was not competitive in its previous six games since Anthony decided to undergo season-ending knee surgery.

Andrea Bargnani scores 25, Knicks win 2OT game vs Pistons

Here’s the New York Daily News reporting on a wild and unexpected Knicks victory in Detroit:

In what turned out to be the Knicks’ craziest and perhaps unlikeliest game of the year, they pulled out a 121-115 victory over the previously rising Pistons in double overtime Friday night to maybe even stun themselves at the hushed Palace.

Andrea Bargnani started and netted a season-high 25 points with 12 rebounds, Lou Amundson contributed 17 and 14 and Langston Galloway drained a tying three with 6.3 remaining in regulation to force overtime. Shane Larkin then netted nine key points in the final 1:55 of the second extra session to lift the Knicks to their first win this season (1-16) without the injured Anthony (knee surgery) in the lineup.

Newly acquired Pistons point guard Reggie Jackson, who will be a restricted free agent in July, spoke highly of Derek Fisher earlier Friday and hugged his former teammate and mentor with Oklahoma City before the game. But Jackson played erratically and shot just 5-for-24 from the floor (16 points) after saying beforehand about free agency that he’s “not thinking about anything but playing basketball right now.”

Nets fall short vs Rockets

Nets fall short vs Rockets

Here’s the New York Post with an update on the Brooklyn Nets, whose despite tonight’s loss should be proud of the basketball they’ve played lately:

The Nets are only a few possessions away from being 4-0 since the All-Star break. But when you’re playing on the road in the Western Conference, it only takes a couple of possessions to separate wins and losses, and that’s why the Nets find themselves 2-2 since the break after falling 102-98 to the Rockets at Toyota Center on Friday night.

The combination of the Nets, Hornets and Pistons losing and the Celtics and Pacers winning means five teams — the Pacers, who are eighth, the Nets, Hornets and Celtics, who are tied for ninth, and the Pistons, who are 12th — are within a game of one another for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

The Nets (23-33) led for the vast majority of the game and had the ball with a 95-90 lead and just more than two minutes remaining.

Chandler Parsons still out Saturday vs Nets

Chandler Parsons still out Saturday vs Nets

Here’s the Dallas Morning News reporting on a key Maverick:

Chandler Parsons still out Saturday vs Nets

Chandler Parsons will miss his fourth consecutive game Saturday when the Dallas Mavericks play Brooklyn, coach Rick Carlisle said Friday.

“Parsons is doing much better, but he’s not going to play (Saturday),” Carlisle said. “He’s out of the boot. He’s doing some shooting and light movement stuff, but he’s not ready yet.”

Parsons suffered a sprained left ankle on Feb. 20.

Nuggets struggling this season, even at home

Here’s the Denver Post reporting on the Nuggets, who through Thursday’s games are 20-37 this season: 12-16 at home, 8-21 on the road:

Once one of the NBA’s most-feared home court advantages, the Nuggets have fallen back to earth at the Pepsi Center in the last two seasons. Since winning a franchise-record 38 home games in the 2012-13 season, the Nuggets haven’t won 38 home games in the last two seasons combined. They are 34-35 in that span, which includes this season’s 12-16 mark. The Nuggets went 22-19 at the Pepsi Center last season.

With 13 home games left, the Nuggets have to go 9-4 in order to avoid having their first losing home record since 2002-03. That team finished 13-28 at home.

Shaw talked about the Nuggets’ challenge to win home games — and fast.

“What starts to happen is guys start to look forward to playing on the road because the home crowd starts to get antsy, and things don’t go well then they start to get on us,” Shaw said.

Rondo says he will leave frustration in the past

Here’s the Dallas Morning News reporting on Mavericks point guard Rajon Rondo, who has had a chip on his shoulder for a long time and isn’t going to change anytime soon. Though, that same chip has helped him succeed at the highest levels, including winning an NBA championship. The Mavs know this. Anyway, here’s the report.

Rondo says he will leave frustration in the past

Rajon Rondo said Friday he had some built-up frustrations with coach Rick Carlisle that led to their heated exchange on Tuesday and subsequent suspension of Rondo, and that conversations with many members of the organization since have helped put everybody on the same page.

In his first interview since the confrontation with Carlisle against Toronto, the Dallas Mavericks’ point guard measured his words carefully, but said he’s as gung-ho as ever about this team’s potential and plans to be a leader in the stretch run and playoffs.

“Definitely, he had some frustrations with me and vice-versa,” Rondo said. “So communication is definitely key in this situation. We’ve had a couple talks since then and we’re going to move forward.”

“The most important thing is communication with coach.”

Erik Spoelstra happy to have Beasley back on Heat

Here’s the South Florida Sun Sentinel reporting on the Heat, who have once again added Michael Beasley to their roster:

Erik Spoelstra happy to have Beasley back on Heat

In his first Miami Heat act, Michael Beasley was the consolation prize, as the No. 2 pick in the 2008 NBA Draft by behind Derrick Rose. In his second, he was a novelty, to see if he could fit alongside LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, while also appreciating his bit-part place last season.

In his third act?

“We think,” coach Erik Spoelstra said Friday, “it’s the fit that we need right now. It really felt like a no-brainer.”

This time, there was an all-out embrace, as Beasley met with the full team for the first time since signing a 10-day contract Thursday.

This time, there was an all-out embrace, as Beasley met with the full team for the first time since signing a 10-day contract Thursday.

Kyrie Irving injury update: left shoulder strain

Kyrie Irving injury update: day-to-day with left shoulder strain

Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving experienced a left shoulder injury during last night’s game at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland vs. the Golden State Warriors. He did not travel with the team to Indianapolis and received additional examination, including an MRI, this morning at Cleveland Clinic Sports Health, the results of which confirmed a left shoulder strain.

Irving is now listed as Out for the game against the Pacers tonight.

His status will be updated again prior to the Cavaliers game in Houston against the Rockets Sunday afternoon.

NBA to release last-two-minute reports

NBA to release last-two-minute reports

The National Basketball Association today announced a new transparency initiative relating to its officiating program. Beginning March 2 and continuing throughout the 2015 playoffs, the league will provide play-by-play reports regarding all calls and material non-calls that occur in the last two minutes of close games and during entire overtime periods. This new initiative creates a more specific protocol for commenting on the most scrutinized calls in NBA games.

“Our fans are passionate and have an intense interest in understanding how the rules are applied,” said Mike Bantom, Executive Vice President of Referee Operations. “NBA referees have the most difficult officiating job in sports, with so many split-second decisions in real time. We trust this consistent disclosure will give fans a greater appreciation of the difficulty of the job and a deeper sense of the correct interpretations of the rules of our game.”

The league will release assessments of officiated events in the last two minutes of games decided in regulation that were within five points at the two-minute mark. Also, the reports will include plays from the last two minutes and overtime of OT games. Each play will be reviewed by a senior referee manager or basketball operations manager who will provide the assessments.

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