Archive for May, 2008

Joakim Noah caught with marijuana

The AP reports: Chicago Bulls forward Joakim Noah, son of former French Open champion Yannick Noah, has been charged with with possession of marijuana and having an open container of alcohol. Gainesville police spokesman Sgt. Rick Roberts says Noah was arrested around 1:50 a.m. Sunday after an officer spotted him on a sidewalk holding a plastic cup containing an amber drink, a violation of city law. During a search at the station, officers found marijuana in his pocket.

InsideHoops.com says: The Bulls and Noah had some issues last season, and while they like his talent, they aren’t positive about keeping him around for the long-term. This is just one more incident that will count as a strike against him as far as Bulls management is concerned.

Spurs set playoff FT franchise low

The San Antonio Express-News reports: The five three throws the Spurs sank in 10 attempts in Game 2 against the Lakers represents a franchise low for the playoffs. The previous Spurs’ low was seven, which came against Denver in the fifth and final game of the first round last season, a 93-78 Spurs victory. It’s also a record for a Lakers’ playoff opponent. Seattle recorded the previous low when it sank only six free throws against the Lakers on April 27, 1980, in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals, which the Lakers won 4-1.

The NBA pre-draft camp is Tuesday through Friday (May 27-30) and InsideHoops.com will be there, with coverage from us beginning tonight. The first bit of info out is the names of top prospects the NBA has named to be interviewed by the media in a separate setting.

Those names are: DJ Augustin, Texas, Jerryd Bayless (Arizona), Michael Beasley (Kansas State), Eric Gordon (Indiana), Brook Lopez (Stanford), Kevin Love (UCLA), OJ Mayo (USC), Anthony Randolph (LSU) and Derrick Rose (Memphis ).

Since that’s nine guys, more names could be added to the list, but basically that means the league expects those players are likely going to be selected as lottery picks. In no way does this guarantee those guys will all be taken before anyone else. The league inviting these guys to be interviewed in a separate setting just means, chances are, in the first 14 picks, close to all of those players will probably be selected.

May 24: Celtics 94, Pistons 80

The AP reports: The Boston Celtics insisted they weren’t worried about winning a road game, knowing their time would come in the playoffs. Perfect timing. Kevin Garnett scored 22 points to lead Boston to a 94-80 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Saturday night and a 2-1 lead in the Eastern Conference finals… Boston’s Big Three scored as much as its supporting cast… Two of the Pistons’ starters had awful games. Tayshaun Prince scored four points and Chauncey Billups had six, combining to shoot 3-for-17… The Celtics led 50-32 after holding Detroit to a playoff-low in the first half and getting at least two points from each of the nine Celtics who played… Detroit rallied to pull within 87-78—its smallest deficit since midway through the second quarter—with 3 minutes left, but couldn’t get closer in a game in which it trailed by as many as 24 points.

InsideHoops.com Stat Notes: The Celtics shot 46.4%, the Pistons just 38.4%. And the Celtics nailed a decent 5-of-14 three-pointers, the Pistons an awful 1-of-13. Free throws were close. The Celtics dominated the glass, 44-28 rebounds, and dished a few more assists. The Pistons did get more steals, and won blocks, 9-3.

For the Celtics, Kevin Garnett (7-of-16) had 22 points, 13 rebounds, 6 assists and 2 steals. Ray Allen (awful 5-of-16, 1-of-6 threes) had 14 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists (so at least he stepped up in the non-shooting department). Rajon Rondo (5-of-10) had 12 points but more turnovers than assists. Kenderick Perkins (6-of-7) had 12 points and 10 rebounds. James Posey on just 5 shots had 12 points off the bench. Pierce Pierce (4-of-6) was off with 11 points, a few steals, and 5 turnovers.

For the Pistons, Richard Hamilton (8-of-18, 10-of-10 free throws) had 26 points, 2 steals and 2 blocks. Rodney Stuckey (4-of-12, but 9-of-10 free throws) had 17 points, 4 assists and 4 steals off the bench. Rasheed Wallace (6-of-13) had 12 points, 8 rebounds and 3 steals. Tayshaun Prince and Chauncey Billups were both lousy. Jason Maxiell had 7 with 2 blocks off the bench.

Rodney Stuckey getting noticed

The Detroit News (Joanne C. Gerstner) reports: Rodney Stuckey, the No. 15 overall pick in last year’s draft, no longer is flying under the NBA’s radar. He’s drawn rave reviews and amplified attention for ably starting two games during the Magic series, taking over when Chauncey Billups was sidelined because of a strained hamstring. Stuckey has been coming off the bench during the Eastern Conference finals, averaging 11 points, 1.5 assists and 1.5 steals over 20 minutes. For the playoffs, Stuckey is averaging 7.8 points, 3.4 assists and two rebounds in 21.8 minutes. He’s a very confident guy, but not to the point of obnoxious, youthful cockiness. Stuckey, 22, is sure he’s the man for the task at hand, and that he has the right guys backing him up.

May 23: Lakers 101, Spurs 71

The AP reports: The San Antonio Spurs appear to be a tired, beaten-up team in trouble. Perhaps the fact that they just survived a similar predicament will give them hope. Kobe Bryant scored 22 points, Lamar Odom added 20 points and 12 rebounds, and the Los Angeles Lakers took command late in the second quarter to rout the Spurs 101-71 on Friday night for a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference finals over the defending champions… Los Angeles had to rally from a 20-point third-quarter deficit to win the opener 89-85 Wednesday night, and didn’t take its first lead in that game until the final 3 minutes. The Lakers never trailed in Game 2—the third time in their last four playoff games that happened. After a basket by Duncan enabled the Spurs to forge the only tie, the Lakers scored the final nine points of the second quarter for a 46-37 halftime lead… It was 74-57 entering the fourth quarter, and the Lakers made it a blowout by outscoring the Spurs 14-3 to begin the final period and make it 88-60… Manu Ginobili, who had started San Antonio’s previous six postseason games, was used in a reserve role, as was the case most of the season when he won the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year award. It didn’t make any difference.

InsideHoops.com Stat Notes: The Lakers shot 54.9%, the Spurs just 34.5%. Both teams launched 20-something threes and shot badly from outside. The lakers hit 18-of-20 free throws, the Spurs had just 10 attempts and only hit 5. The Lakers had 8 more rebounds. Assists and turnovers were even.

For the Lakers, Kobe Bryant (10-of-17) had 22 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists. Lamar Odom (7-of-10) had 20 points, 12 rebounds and 4 blocks. Jordan Farmar (5-of-7) had 14 off the bench. Derek Fisher (4-of-5) had 11. Pau Gasol (4-of-9) had 10 with 7 rebounds and 2 steals.

For the Spurs, Tony Parker (just 6-of-15) had 13 points, no rebounds, and the same assists as turnovers. Tim Duncan (just 6-of-14, 0-of-4 free throws) had 12 points, 16 rebounds and 4 assists. No other Spurs even reached double-digit points. And other than Duncan no Spur had more than 5 rebounds. And the entire Spurs team had just one block (Duncan).

Richard Hamilton speaks after Game 2

In Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals, the Detroit Pistons won 103-07 on the road against the Boston Celtics. Pistons shooting guard Richard Hamilton took 16 shots for 25 points, 4 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks. Here’s what he said after the game:

Question: Everybody is talking about how the Boston overloaded the strong side in the last game and managed to shut you guys down pretty well. How did you attack that defense tonight?

Richard Hamilton: Well, I thought that, you know, everybody knows what they do defensively, how they load up on the strong side. But I thought the thing that we did tonight that was different than Game 1, when we made cuts and we made moves, it was all in motion. It wasn’t just like a guy got the ball on the wing, allow them to set their defense, one guy on the corner, now they’re good at that. But we just kept motion, coming off screens, coming off curls, making them react. I thought the guys did an excellent job of moving the ball.

The full interview is here.

May 22: Pistons 103, Celtics 97

The AP reports: Richard Hamilton bounced back from a poor series opener with 25 points, and the Pistons beat Boston 103-97 Thursday night, tying the conference finals at one game apiece and seizing the home-court advantage that has meant everything to the Celtics… Kevin Garnett had 24 points and 13 rebounds for the Celtics, who lost at home for the first time since March 24 against Phoenix. No team has reached the finals without a road victory, and there’s no longer a chance for Boston to be the first… Chauncey Billups had 19 points and seven assists, and his rookie backup, Rodney Stuckey hit some clutch jumpers in the fourth quarter and added 13 points for the Pistons, who host Game 3 on Saturday… Paul Pierce scored 26 points for the Celtics, who had won 15 straight at home and gone 9-0 in the playoffs. But the only record that matters now is 0-6— their playoff road mark… Ray Allen broke out of a shooting slump with 25 points, his best performance in three months. But he was limited to 29 minutes by foul trouble, picking up his fifth foul with 3:09 left in the third quarter after his flurry had given Boston the lead.

InsideHoops.com Stat Notes: Both teams took almost the same number of shots, and shot within half a percent of 49%. The Pistons were better from three-point range, and while both teams shot around 88% free throws, the Pistons got to the line a bit more. Boston grabbed more rebounds, Detroit dished a few more assists.

For the Pistons, Richard Hamilton (7-of-16) had 25 points, 4 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks. Chauncey Billups (5-of-10) had 19 points and 7 assists. Antonio McDyess (7-of-12) had 15 points, 8 rebounds and 3 steals. Tayshaun Prince (just 5-of-15) had 14 points and 8 rebounds. Rasheed Wallace (4-of-7) had 13 points and 10 rebounds. Rodney Stuckey (5-of-8) scored 13 off the bench.

For the Celtics, Paul Pierce (9-of-16) had 26 points and 5 assists, but 4 turnovers. Ray Allen (9-of-16) had 25 points and 2 steals. Kevin Garnett (11-of-19) had 24 points, 13 rebounds and 2 blocks. Rajon Rondo (just 2-of-9) had 10 points, 9 rebounds and 8 assists. But no other Celtics had more than 4 points.

The Pistons had more of a total team effort.

Wade still hopes to play in Olympics

The Miami Herald blogs the following: Dwyane Wade said he recently updated national team coach Mike Krzyzewski on his conditioning. Wade said Tuesday the goal is still to work his surgically-repaired knee into shape in time for USA team training camp in July in advance of the Beijing Olympics. There is a chance that Wade could be replaced on the 12-man roster in favor another player - possibly Chris Paul - if his knee is not ready in time. “I’m meeting with Jerry as soon as I get back from here, and I’ve talked to Coach K. already,” Wade said. “His main thing is my health and to make sure I’m doing good. He also talked to my trainer, Tim Grover in Chicago, and we’re all on the same page. All I can do is continue to get stronger and leave the decision up to them.”

Nuggets once traded Kiki Vandeweghe

The Denver Post (Terry Frei) reports: The Nuggets not only listened to offers for Kiki Vandeweghe after the former UCLA star averaged 29.4 points in 1983-84, they took one. They broke up the entertaining Alex English-Dan Issel-Vandeweghe triumvirate, sending Vandeweghe to Portland in June 1984 for Fat Lever, Calvin Natt and Wayne Cooper, plus first- and second-round draft choices. As I remember it, in announcing the deal, Nuggets GM Carl Scheer kept saying: “But wait! There’s more!” And the press release disclosed that the Trail Blazers even threw in a nifty set of steak knives. Vandeweghe’s stunning first step and move to the basket, coupled with a deadly pull-up jumper, seduced Portland into believing he could be a difference-maker. In part because of back problems, he wasn’t.

Will LeBron ever leave Cavs?

The Cleveland Plain Dealer (Bill Livingston) blogs: James is not going to be leaving for Milwaukee, San Antonio or even Detroit. The challenge will come, I think, from the New York Knicks. Many believe the biggest pitch will be made by the New Jersey Nets when they relocate to Brooklyn, N.Y., in time for James’ free agency year. James is a personal friend with Nets part owner Jay-Z, the rap artist. The Nets also might trade for James’ pal Carmelo Anthony. But offensive mastermind Mike D’Antoni is the Knicks’ new coach. He will put in a fluid system that could let a player like James average almost unheard-of numbers. The Knicks are the big team in the media capital of the country, and they will be clearing salary-cap space for the next two years. The Lakers wooed Shaquille O’Neal away from Orlando by challenging him to match Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s legacy and restore the Lakers’ greatness. Orlando did everything it could to no avail.

Bulls coaching search continues

The Arlington Heights Daily Herald (Mike McGraw) reports: This week figures to be important, with four interviews scheduled. Paxson plans to meet with Utah assistant Tyrone Corbin, former Minnesota coach Dwane Casey, part-time Utah assistant Jeff Hornacek and Sacramento assistant Chuck Person. Paxson also acknowledged that he has spoken to some candidates whose teams still are alive in the playoffs. According to a league source, ex-Bulls coach Phil Jackson worked out a time for Paxson to visit Los Angeles in recent days, where he most likely spoke to Lakers assistants Brian Shaw and Kurt Rambis. Among the teams playing in the conference finals, other candidates for the Bulls’ job include Boston’s Tom Thibodeau, Detroit’s Michael Curry and Terry Porter, along with San Antonio’s Mike Budenholzer.

The AP reports: NBA coach of the year Byron Scott, who has the right to buy out the remainder of his contract and go to the highest bidder next season, showed little interest in leaving the Hornets on Wednesday. “I expect to be here,” Scott said. “In my mind right now I hope to be here unless something crazy happens.”

May 21: Lakers 89, Spurs 85

The AP reports: Kobe Bryant scored all but two of his 27 points after halftime, including a go-ahead, 10-foot jumper in the lane with 23.9 seconds remaining, and the Lakers rallied from a 20-point deficit to beat the Spurs 89-85 on Wednesday night in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals… Bryant’s jumper put the Lakers ahead for good after two free throws by Manu Ginobili with 1:22 remaining and a follow shot by Tim Duncan with 41 seconds left tied the game at 85. After Bryant’s game-winner, Ginobili missed a 3-pointer and Sasha Vujacic made two free throws with 7.3 seconds to go, completing the scoring… The Lakers outscored the Spurs 24-13 in the fourth quarter, when San Antonio shot 3-for-21, including 1-for-9 from 3-point range… The Spurs outscored the Lakers 14-2 to start the third quarter for a 65-45 lead, drawing groans from the crowd of 18,997 at Staples Center, where the Lakers haven’t lost since March 28. Suddenly, the Lakers came together, scoring 14 straight points in a span of 3:05 to draw within six. Bryant had seven points and two assists during the run.

InsideHoops.com Stat Notes: The Lakers shot 43.2%, the Spurs 40.5%. But the Lakers shot a respectable 4-of-10 three-pointers while the Spurs were just 5-of-20 (Mike Finley went 0-of-5). Free throws were close, but the Lakers were a bit better. Rebounds, assists and turnovers were fairly close.

For the Lakers, Bryant (shot 11-of-21) had 27 points, 5 rebounds and 9 assists. Pau Gasol (9-of-16) had 19 points, 7 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 blocks. Vladimir Radmanovic (5-of-5) had 10 points and 5 rebounds. Sasha Vujacic on 8 shots had 10 points and 5 rebounds. Lamar Odom (3-of-12) and Derek Fisher (1-of-9) had bad games, though Odom had 8 rebounds and 2 blocks.

For the Spurs, Tim Duncan (12-of-25) had 30 points, 18 rebounds, 2 steals, 4 blocks, but more turnovers than assists. Tony Parker needed 17 shots for his 18 points, 10 rebounds (yup) and 6 assists. Bruce Bowen (5-of-8) scored 12. Manu Ginobili (just 3-of-13) had just 10 points, 4 rebounds and more turnovers than assists. Mike Finley shot 0-of-5 for no points. Ime Udoka had 7 of the Spurs 9 bench points.

Spurs old while Lakers young

The Washington Post (Michael Lee) reports: Derek Fisher is the Lakers’ only regular rotation player older than 30. On the other hand, Parker is the only player who is younger than 30 in the Spurs’ regular rotation. But the 26-year-old Parker doesn’t mind being grouped with the rest of the AARP roster. “With all the years with the [French] national team, you can add me an extra four years,” Parker said with a laugh. Parker and Horry both joked that a postseason reunion with the Lakers will make them feel young again. Tim Duncan, Kobe Bryant, Fisher and Horry have been around for each of the previous five Lakers-Spurs clashes, of which the Lakers won three. Horry switched from the Lakers to the Spurs before the teams last met in the conference semifinals in 2004, a series that the Lakers won after Fisher made an off-balance 17-foot jumper with 0.4 of a second left in the critical Game 5. The Lakers advanced to the NBA Finals that season, losing to the Detroit Pistons.

Lakers and Spurs yet again

The Washington Post (Michael Lee) reports: “It’s getting old,” Tony Parker said about the Spurs facing the Los Angeles Lakers in the playoffs for the sixth time since 1999. Then Parker paused, cracked a sly grin and said: “Nah, it never gets old. It’s always great to play the Lakers. Kobe [Bryant] is at his best. They have a great team. Back to the rivalry; it’s going to be great.” If anything has gotten old, it’s the Spurs, who have had to hear about their age this season more times than Republican presidential candidate John McCain. “People always talk about us being old,” said Spurs reserve Robert Horry, 37. “They classify you as being old because you don’t dunk anymore or don’t slash as fast as you used to slash, but we’re still going. Our game plan is usually pretty good.”

May 20: Celtics 88, Pistons 79

The AP reports: Not even a week of rest could prepare the Detroit Pistons for the hottest home team in the NBA. Kevin Garnett had 26 points and nine rebounds and Paul Pierce scored 22 points Tuesday night to give Boston an 88-79 victory over the Pistons in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals, the Celtics’ 15th straight home win… Kendrick Perkins had 10 rebounds for Boston and Rajon Rondo scored seven of his 11 points in the fourth quarter, hitting a 3-pointer with 1:47 left in the game after the Pistons cut the deficit to 83-75. Rondo also had seven assists and five steals while outplaying Chauncey Billups, the MVP of the 2004 NBA finals, in his return from a right hamstring injury… The Pistons quickly erased the first-quarter lead, even going ahead 13-12. But they trailed 41-40 at halftime and scored just 17 points in the third quarter, 10 from Richard Hamilton, while the Celtics took a 69-57 lead on Eddie House’s 3-pointer with 2 seconds left.

InsideHoops.com Stat Notes: The Celtics shot 52.2%, the Pistons 42.4%. Three-pointers weren’t much of a favor. The Pistons got to the free throw line a bit more, and hit a slightly higher percentage. Rebounding was even. But the Celtics dished 27 assists, the Pistons just 15. Turnovers were close.

For the Celtics, Kevin Garnett (11-of-17) had 26 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 blocks. Paul Pierce (9-of-18) had 22 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists (but 5 turnovers). Rajon Rondo (5-of-9) had 11 points, 7 assists and 5 steals. Ray Allen (just 3-of-10) keeps struggling and had 9 points, 4 assists and 2 steals. Kendrick Perkins had 10 rebounds.

For the Pistons, Tayshaun Prince (just 7-of-16 with no free throws) had 16 points and 4 rebounds. Richard Hamilton (just 5-of-13) had 15 points and 6 rebounds. Antonio McDyess (5-of-10) was good with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Rasheed Wallace (just 3-of-12) had 11 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals. Chauncey Billups (3-of-6), returning from injury, in 31 minutes had 9 points and little else.

The AP reports: Disgraced basketball referee Tim Donaghy told investigators in the NBA betting probe that relationships among officials, coaches and players “affected the outcome of games,” his attorney said. The league said the charges were unfounded. Donaghy’s attorney made the assertions in a letter filed in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn on Monday, in which he argued that his client should be sentenced to probation because he fully cooperated with prosecutors and has been undergoing treatment for his gambling addiction. The attorney also suggested that Donaghy told investigators about the gambling activities of other NBA officials and about a referee that passed “confidential” information to an unidentified coach.

The Orlando Sentinel (Brian Schmitz) reports: Unless circumstances change, Magic assistant coach and Howard’s big-man guru Patrick Ewing will return next season. Magic Chief Operating Officer Alex Martins told the Sentinel that no team has asked the club for permission to talk to Ewing, including his former team, the New York Knicks. When Mike D’Antoni took over the Knicks as coach last week, he said he would be interested in handing one of his assistant spots to Ewing, who has another year on his contract with the Magic.

Denver Nuggets Head Coach George Karl underwent successful left hip replacement surgery today.

The surgery, which lasted more than two hours, was performed at Rose Hospital by Dr. Hal Crane of Orthopedic Associates, the team orthopedic group for the Nuggets.

Karl is expected to resume walking without a cane in a week to 10 days.

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