Archive for March 17th, 2008

The Portland Trail Blazers assigned rookie forward Josh McRoberts to the Idaho Stampede of the NBA Development League, it was announced Monday by Trail Blazers general manager Kevin Pritchard.

“Sending Josh back to Idaho will give him the best chance to develop as the season winds down,” said Pritchard. “Getting the opportunity to play extended minutes is an important step in his rookie season, and we saw good results from his last trip there.”

The D-League assignment marks the second of the season for McRoberts, who posted averages of 7.8 points, 6.0 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 26.5 minutes in eight games with the Stampede from Jan. 9-Feb. 3.

McRoberts, 21, is averaging 2.0 points, 0.8 rebounds and 4.4 minutes in five games with the Trail Blazers this season after being selected by Portland with the 37th overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft.

This is the first season the Trail Blazers are affiliated with the Boise-based Stampede.

The West is far superior to the East this year. That in no way guarantees that this year’s champions will come from that conference.

The East only has two true championship contenders right now, the Celtics and Pistons. The Magic and Cavs can be mentioned in Eastern conference finals conversations, and it’s certainly possible either of those teams could reach the league Finals, but neither is presumed to be on a championship level.

So what if the Celtics, Pistons or someone else does beat the Spurs, Suns, Mavericks, Rockets, Jazz, Hornets or Lakers in the finals? Should it count?

Of course, it does have to count, but to be fair, perhaps whichever team wins the Western conference finals should be crowned this year’s champion, and whoever comes out of the East gets a handshake, a cookie, and one of those gold stars given to schoolchildren when they tie their shoes correctly.

Dwight Howard in rare territory

Orlando’s Dwight Howard is averaging 21.6 points, 14.4 rebounds and is shooting .603 from the field. Only four players have finished a season averaging at least 20.0 ppg., 10.0 rpg., while shooting .600 from the field: Wilt Chamberlain, Philadelphia, 1966-67; Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, L.A. Lakers, 1979-80; Charles Barkley, Philadelphia, 1989-90; and Shaquille O’Neal, Miami, 2004-05.

NBA News: With their 104-92 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday, the Houston Rockets (46-20) extended their franchise-record winning streak to 22 games and took over sole possession of first place in the Western Conference. On Jan. 28, the day before the streak started, the Rockets were 24-20, in 10th place in the West and eight games out of first. Houston passed the 1970-71 Milwaukee Bucks on Friday for the second longest stretch in NBA history. The record of 33 straight victories was achieved by the Lakers in the 1971-72 season. The Rockets have won 26 of their last 27 games and 31 of their last 34. They’ve won 15 straight at the Toyota Center; 12 straight on the road; 10 straight since All-Star Yao Ming suffered a season-ending broken foot; and 11 of their last 13 games by double digits. The Rockets host the Boston Celtics tomorrow (8:30 p.m. ET, TNT).

The Celtics pace the league with a 52-13 mark and are an NBA-best 23-8 on the road. For the Celtics, however, tomorrow’s game in Houston is the start of a hyper-difficult Texas Triangle trip in which they will also play the Dallas Mavericks and San Antonio Spurs. The three Texas teams are a combined 80-18 (.816) at home this season, and are riding a 26 game winning streak. The last team to sweep the Texas Triangle trip was the 2001-02 Sacramento Kings (Nov. 27-30, 2001).

Players of week are Stoudemire, Jamison

The Washington Wizards’ Antawn Jamison and the Phoenix Suns’ Amaré Stoudemire today were named the Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Week, respectively, for games played Monday, March 10, through Sunday, March 16.

Jamison led the Wizards to a 3-0 week, with wins over the Clippers, Cavaliers and Bucks. After collecting two double-doubles on the week, Jamison’s 37 double-doubles stand as the second highest total in the Eastern Conference (Dwight Howard, 59). Jamison averaged 25.3 points, 9.7 rebounds and 1.0 steals during the undefeated week, helping Washington move above the .500 mark for the first time since Feb. 5.

Stoudemire led the Suns to a 3-0 week, with all three victories coming against Western Conference opponents. Stoudemire averaged 32.0 points on .660 shooting from the field, 11.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.7 blocks. The back-to-back 30-point, 10-rebound efforts on March 13 and March 15 marked the third time this year that Stoudemire recorded consecutive 30-point, 10-rebound games.

Other nominees for the Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Week were Philadelphia’s Andre Iguodala, Cleveland’s LeBron James, Atlanta’s Joe Johnson, New Orleans’ Chris Paul, Orlando’s Rashard Lewis, Houston’s Tracy McGrady and Dallas’ Dirk Nowitzki.

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