Archive for May, 2008

Billups still not fully healthy

The Detroit News (Chris McCosky) reports: Well, finally, before shoot-around Tuesday morning, Chauncey Billups came clean. The hamstring injury that he sustained in Game 3 in Orlando may never be completely healed the rest of the playoffs. But it’s healed enough for him to play and to be, in his mind, productive. “I’m feeling pretty good,” he said, “and for what’s not good I know once the adrenaline gets going and the excitement of the game, I will be fine.”

Cavs may make summer changes

The Akron Beacon Journal (Brian Windhorst) reports: Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert agrees with LeBron James, who said Sunday that some personnel moves might be in order, that some changes have to be made before next season. He said he thought putting the team in a better chance to win a Game 7 was important, and it started with ”having a focus to have a better regular season” so they could get homecourt advantage. The Cavs won five fewer games this season and slipped from the No. 2 seed in the East to the No. 4 seed. But that will likely not include any changes at the very top. Gilbert said he has a ”great respect” for Brown and General Manager Danny Ferry. The owner said he would hold meetings with team officials in a couple weeks to examine what changes could be made. As for whether he is feeling any stress about getting James a so-called star ‘’sidekick” or making some changes to upgrade the Cavs’ often stagnant offense, Gilbert avoided being pinned down.

May 19: Spurs 91, Hornets 82

The AP reports: Manu Ginobili scored 26 points, hitting four free throws in the final minute, to send the Spurs to the Western Conference finals with a 91-82 victory Monday night. Tony Parker added 17 points, including a crucial jumper in the final minute, as the Spurs held off a late rally to become the first team in this series to win on the road… David West led the Hornets with 20 points, while Chris Paul and Jannero Pargo each added 18. Tyson Chandler had 13 points and 15 rebounds for the Hornets, who cut a deficit as large as 17 down to three inside the final two minutes. While the Hornets managed to hold Duncan under 20 points by crowding the inside, his Spurs teammates combined for 12 3-pointers to keep alive their chance to win back-to-back titles for the first time… Buoyed by a home crowd that stood throughout the fourth quarter, the Hornets fought back to make a game of it, largely behind Jannero Pargo, who had done little in this series. He scored seven straight on four free throws sandwiched around a 3-pointer, pulling the Hornets to 81-77 with 3:10 to go.

InsideHoops.com Stat Notes: The Hornets and Spurs both shot close to 40.0%, but the Spurs nailed 12-of-28 three-pointers, the Hornets just 4-of-17. The Spurs also had a few more free throw attempts, and shot better from the line. The Spurs also rebounded a bit better. New Orleans committed fewer turnovers.

For the Spurs, Manu Ginobili (just 6-of-19, 4-of-11 threes, but 10-of-11 free throws) had 26 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists. Tony Parker (just 7-of-17) had 17 points and 5 assists. Tim Duncan (just 5-of-17) had 16 points, 14 rebounds, more turnovers than assists, and no blocks. Francisco Oberto grabbed 9 boards. Off the bench, Ime Udoka scored 8, Robert Horry 6, Mike Finley 6.

For the Hornets, David West (just 8-of-19) had 20 points and 9 rebounds. Chris Paul (8-of-18 with no threes and just a few free throws) had 18 points, 8 rebounds, 14 assists and 5 steals. Jannero Pargo (6-of-16) had 18 points, 4 rebounds and 2 steals. Tyson Chandler (6-of-8) had 13 points and 15 rebounds.  Morris Peterson (just 2-of-7) had 5 points and little else. Peja Stojakovic (3-of-11, 1-of-5 threes) had 7 points and little else. And the Hornets only got 19 bench points, and Pargo was 18 of those.

Paul Millsap to have thumb surgery

Utah Jazz forward Paul Millsap will undergo surgery to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his left thumb this Thursday, Jazz general manager Kevin O’Connor announced today.

Millsap injured the thumb in the Game Six loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on May 16. Following x-rays, Jazz physician Dr. Lyle Mason preliminarily diagnosed the thumb injury as a torn ulnar ligament.

A second opinion by Dr. Steven Huish today confirmed that Millsap suffered a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his left thumb, and Dr. Huish will perform surgery to repair the ligament on Thursday in Salt Lake City.

A report on the surgery and an estimated timeline for Millsap’s recovery will be provided on Friday.

Originally selected by the Jazz in the second round (47th overall) of the 2006 NBA Draft, Millsap has appeared in all 164 regular season games and all 29 playoff games in his first two seasons. He averaged 8.1 points and 5.6 rebounds in 20.8 minutes per game this season.

Nets investor and music executive Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter will represent the Nets at the NBA Draft Lottery tomorrow, Tuesday, May 20, at the studios of NBA Entertainment in Secaucus, NJ. The Draft Lottery will be televised live on ESPN from 8 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. before Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Boston Celtics and Detroit Pistons.

No word on if Tupac will represent any Cali teams.

I think it’s cool that Jay-Z will rep the Nets. I support anything that adds interest to an already-important event that will help determine the future of a few squads.

May 18: Celtics 97, Cavs 92

The AP reports: Paul Pierce hit a shot. Then LeBron James answered. Pierce hit another and so did James. It was like that all game long, two of the NBA’s best trying to carry their teams to the next round. Pierce and the Boston Celtics succeeded, beating the Cleveland Cavaliers 97-92 on Sunday… Pierce scored 41 points, James had 45 and Boston remained unbeaten in the playoffs at home, where the first two games against the Pistons will be played Tuesday and Thursday night… Pierce hit 13 of 23 shots and James went 14-for-29… The Celtics never trailed Sunday but they never were safe until the final seconds. Pierce hit two free throws with 7.9 seconds left for the final points, then James missed a 3-pointer on the last shot of the game with 4.4 seconds to go… Sasha Pavlovic’s 3-pointer made it 95-92 with 8.6 seconds left and the Cavaliers immediately fouled Pierce. His first shot hit the rim, hung in the air, then fell through as the crowd roared. Pierce said team patriarch Red Auerbach, who died in October 2006 at age 89, had something to do with that.

InsideHoops.com Stat Notes: The Celtics shot 47.8%, the Cavaliers 44.8%. The Celtics took just 12 three-pointers but made 5 (Pierce hit 4), while the Cavs launched 22 threes but hit just 7. Free throws were almost even, though the Celtics hit a few more. Boston won rebounds 39-29 and won assists 39-29.

For the Celtics, Paul Pierce (13-of-23, 4-of-6 threes, 11-of-12 free throws) had 41 points, 4 rebounds and 5 assists (but 4 turnovers). Kevin Garnett (just 5-of-13) had 13 points and 13 rebounds. PJ Brown played 20 bench minutes and shot 4-of-4 for 10 points and 6 rebounds. Rajon Rondo was just 4-of-11 for 8 points but was terrific with 8 rebounds and 8 assists. Ray Allen continues to stink, shooting 1-of-6 for 4 points and almost nothing else.

For the Cavs, LeBron James (14-of-29, 3-of-11 threes, 14-of-19 free throws) had 45 points, 5 rebounds, 6 assists and 2 steals. Delonte West (4-of-8) had 15 points and 5 assists, but 6 turnovers. Wally Szczerbiak was junk, shooting 0-of-3 in 15 minutes. Ben Wallace was fairly useless with 3 points, 4 rebounds and a block in almost 30 minutes. Zydrunas Ilgauskas was worn out, shooting 2-of-8 for 8 points, 5 rebounds and little else. Joe Smith was good off the bench with 6 points and 6 rebounds. Anderson Varejao played just 11 minutes and had 5 points and just 2 rebounds. And Sasha Pavlovic in over 35 minutes did little more than take 8 shots to score 7 points with 5 fouls.

Mutombo wants to play next season

The Houston Chronicle (Jonathan Feigen) reports: Dikembe Mutombo said Thursday he would instruct agent David Falk to negotiate with the Rockets on a contract for another year. Having Mutombo back for an 18th NBA season would not seem to be progress on change. It would be. Mutombo, at this stage of his career, is insurance. His return would allow the Rockets to spend their summer allowance on the perimeter, rather than on a Mutombo successor. Big men are expensive. The Rockets did not want to empty the mid-level bank account on a guy that - again, assuming the Yao-McGrady foundation to be sound - would only play 12 to 14 minutes a game at most behind Yao.

May 16: Lakers 108, Jazz 105

The AP reports: Kobe Bryant scored 34 points, 12 in the fourth quarter, and Los Angeles held off a furious rally by the Utah Jazz for a 108-105 victory Friday night in Game 6, putting the Lakers in the Western Conference finals for the first time in four years. It was the only win by the visiting team in the series and kept the Lakers from having to host a Game 7 on Monday… Utah trailed by 19 points at halftime and 16 after three quarters, but got within two in the final minute… Utah was 5-for-8 on 3-pointers in the fourth quarter and had a chance to tie it just before the buzzer, but Mehmet Okur and Deron Williams both missed from beyond the arc in the final seconds and Utah’s season was over… Reserve Paul Millsap added 15 points for Utah and led the Jazz on a 14-5 run early in the fourth quarter that set up the thrilling finish.

InsideHoops.com Stat Notes: The Lakers shot 50.0%, the Jazz just 38.1%. But the Jazz took 97 shots, the Lakers just 70. The Jazz hit a respectable 9-of-24 three-pointers, the Lakers a terrific 7-of-11. As usual the Lakers took way more free throws, going 31-of-38, the Jazz 22-of-25. The Jazz owned the boards, and dished a few more assists.

For the Lakers, Kobe Bryant (9-of-19) had 34 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists (but 5 turnovers). Pau Gasol on an inefficient 17 shots had 17 points, 13 rebounds and 4 blocks. Derek Fisher on an amazing 5 shots managed 16 points and 3 steals. Lamar Odom (4-of-8) had 13 points and 9 rebounds. Vladimir Radmanovic (5-of-7) had 12. Sasha Vujacic (5-of-7) also had 12.

For the Jazz, Deron Williams on an inefficient 21 shots had 21 points and 14 assists. Mehmet Okur (just 6-of-18) had 16 points and 10 rebounds. Ronnie Brewer scored 13. Carlos Boozer (awful 5-of-16) had 12 points and 14 rebounds, and fouled out. Andrei Kirlenko also scored 12, with 3 steals.

May 16: Cavs 74, Celtics 69

The AP reports: LeBron James scored 32 points—19 in the second half—and the Cavaliers forced a decisive and fitting finale to this home-sweet-home playoff series with a 74-69 victory Friday night over the Celtics, who have gone from regular-season road kings to postseason road kill… James, whose jump shot has mysteriously been missing in this series, made two key baskets midway through the fourth quarter to slow a Boston comeback, Wally Szczerbiak hit a 3-pointer with 2:10 remaining and Joe Smith dropped two free throws with 14 seconds left as the Cavs moved the series back to the East Coast… Leading by nine at halftime, the Cavs quickly extended the lead to 51-36. But just when it appeared the Celtics were in major trouble, they responded behind Garnett, who scored eight points in a 13-0 spurt that pulled Boston within three. James finally ended Cleveland’s offensive lapse with a layup and the Cavs got a tip-in and fling-in from Anderson Varejao for a 59-50 lead entering the fourth. Garnett’s jumper pulled the Celtics within 65-60 before James scored on a drive, and the All-Star hit an off-balance 17-foot jumper to make it 69-60. Eddie House made a 3-pointer for Boston, but Szczerbiak, who missed his first five 3-pointers, finally got one to go down, giving Cleveland a 72-63 lead.

InsideHoops.com Stat Notes: The Celtics shot 39.7%, the Cavs just 32.9%. Both teams missed threes. The Cavs had 21-of-25 free throws, the Celtics just 11-of-13. The Cavs controlled the boards but only had 10 team assists.

For the Cavs, LeBron James (9-of-23) had 32 points, 12 rebounds, 6 assists (but 8 turnovers) and 2 steals. Delonte West (4-of-7) had 10 points, no assists and 4 turnovers. Wally Szczerbiak (absurd 2-of-11) had 9, Zydrunas Ilgauskas (awful 3-of-11) had 7 points, 10 rebounds and 3 blocks. Joe Smith had 9 points and 5 rebounds off the bench.

For the Celtics, Kevin Garnett (11-of-21) had 25 points, 8 rebounds and 2 blocks. Paul Pierce (lousy 5-of-15) had 16 points and 6 turnovers. Ray Allen (3-of-8) had 9 points and 6 rebounds. Eddie House (3-of-5) came off the bench for rare minutes to score 8.

Rasho Nesterovic exercises player option

The Toronto Raptors announced Friday that centre Rasho Nesterovic has exercised the player option on his contract for the 2008-09 season. Per team policy, financial terms were not disclosed.

Nesterovic, 7-foot, 270 pounds, concluded his second season with the Raptors and his 10th in the NBA. He appeared in 71 games (with 39 starts) last season, averaging 7.8 points, 4.8 rebounds and 20.9 minutes. He led the team in field goal percentage (more than 200 attempts) at .550 (257-467).  He scored in double figures in 17 of the final 18 regular season games, averaging 15.4 points and 6.7 rebounds.

Nesterovic has averaged 7.0 points and 5.5 rebounds in 699 career games with Minnesota, San Antonio and Toronto. He was a member of San Antonio’s 2005 NBA Championship team.

Spurs open flophouse in Game 6 win

The San Antonio Spurs have opened a flophouse, and the special invited guests are David West and Chris Paul.

In game 6, with the Spurs needing a win to stay alive and force a series-deciding game 7, early in the third quarter, Tim Duncan did his best Manu Ginobili impersonation and, upon feeling contact from West, who had the basketball and was looking to score, flopped backwards and fell down. It should have been a no-call, but the refs fell for it. It’s partially West’s fault for extending his arm, but still, the ref should have let it go.

West also got robbed when he and Ginobili got tied up, and the ref decided it was West’s fault. I’m not sure but I thought Ginobili was the one holding him.

And, West got called for a reach-in on Duncan that I’m not sure was a foul.

Those three fouls occurred right near each other when the game was still close. Overall there were about five fouls on CP3 and West in the span of under two minutes, changing the game.

The Spurs then proceeded to pull away.

May 15: Spurs 99, Hornets 80

The AP reports: The defending champions beat the New Orleans Hornets, 99-80 in Game 6, staying alive and forcing a winner-take-all Game 7 on Monday in New Orleans… Manu Ginobili scored 25 points, Tim Duncan had 20 points and 15 rebounds, and Tony Parker added 15 points to tie the Western Conference semifinals… Chris Paul led the Hornets with 21 points and eight assists, and Tyson Chandler scored 14 points. David West had 10 points on 4-of-14 shooting before leaving the game early in the fourth quarter after aggravating a back injury… Despite the closeness of the series, Game 6, like the five before it, was won by double digits. It was also won, like those before it, in the third quarter, when the Spurs outscored the Hornets 20-12… The Spurs shot 49 percent from the field (38-of-77) to the Hornets’ 41 percent (33-of-80) and outrebounded them 45-40. The Spurs had 28 assists and the Hornets had 13… With 10:11 left in the game, West left the court after aggravating a back injury.

The Los Angeles Times (Ben Bolch) reports: Calling the accusations against him “a publicity stunt,” O.J. Mayo on Wednesday emphatically denied allegations that he accepted cash and gifts in violation of NCAA rules and said his accuser might be striking back after he severed ties between them. Mayo said he would cooperate with investigations by the NCAA and Pacific 10 Conference after a report he accepted tens of thousands of dollars in prohibited extra benefits before and during the one season he played basketball for USC. “My family hasn’t accepted anything, so I’m just waiting for the NCAA to do what they have to do to prove that I haven’t done anything wrong,” Mayo said.

The Deseret Morning News (Linda Hamilton) reports: Forward Andrei Kirilenko missed Thursday’s Utah Jazz practice at the Zions Bank Basketball Center as he was dealing with issues with his visa.

InsideHoops says: Kirilenko just should have pretended to be that actor who played Ivan Drago in the Rocky movie. No one is going to prevent Drago from doing anything. His own crowd turned against him! You have to feel for the little guy.

UPDATE: The Salt Lake Tribune says it’s just about Kirilenko’s family traveling this summer, and this isn’t going to affect Kirilenko in the playoffs in any way.

Barkley owes 400k to a Vegas casino

The AP reports: Charles Barkley acknowledged he owes a $400,000 gambling debt to a Las Vegas Strip casino and promised Thursday to repay it after a prosecutor said the retired NBA star faced criminal charges. “My mistake,” Barkley said in an interview at a pro-am golf tournament in Hoover, Ala. “I’m not broke, and I’m going to take care of it.” Barkley was responding to comments by Clark County District Attorney David Roger, who said prosecutors would file a criminal complaint if he did not pay the debt cited by the Wynn Las Vegas resort. “He’ll have an opportunity like anybody else to make restitution to the hotel,” Roger said.

Daniel Gibson out 1-2 weeks

Cavaliers guard Daniel Gibson left the game in the fourth quarter last night in Boston vs. the Celtics with a left shoulder contusion. He received additional examinations today at The Cleveland Clinic, including an MRI, which revealed a first degree left AC (acromioclavicular joint) separation. He is currently listed as Out for Friday night’s game vs. the Celtics at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. He is expected to miss one to two weeks. His status will be updated as appropriate.

May 14: Lakers 111, Jazz 104

The AP reports: Kobe Bryant scored 26 points despite not attempting a field goal in the fourth quarter, and the Lakers extended the stunning home success by NBA teams in the second round of the playoffs by beating the Utah Jazz 111-104 on Wednesday night to take a 3-2 lead in the Western Conference semifinals… Bryant, who also had six rebounds and seven assists, scored only three points in the final period, all from the foul line after the outcome had been decided. He shot 6-for-10 from the floor and 13-of-17 from the foul line… Lamar Odom had 22 points and 11 rebounds, Gasol added 21 points, six rebounds and eight assists, Vladimir Radmanovic scored 15 points and Derek Fisher added 14 for the Lakers, who were 17-1 during the regular season when all five starters scored in double figures… All five Utah starters also scored in double figures led by Deron Williams, who had 27 points and 10 assists. Carlos Boozer added 18 points and 12 rebounds, Ronnie Brewer scored a career playoff-high 16 points, Mehmet Okur had 13 points and 13 rebounds, and Andrei Kirilenko scored 12 for the Jazz.

May 14: Celtics 96, Cavs 89

The AP reports: Kevin Garnett had 26 points and 16 rebounds, and Rajon Rondo added 20 points and 13 assists as the Celtics beat the Cavaliers 96-89 on Wednesday night to move within a win of the Eastern Conference finals… “We know it’s a win-or-go-home situation. We’ve got to approach it that way,” said LeBron James, who scored 23 of his 35 points in the first 20 minutes and then went cold again… Paul Pierce scored 29 points and helped shut James down for much of the second half. The Cavaliers forward had 23 points with 3:50 left in the first half but made just one basket in the next 20 minutes as Boston erased a 14-point deficit and took the lead for good… Cleveland cut an 88-77 lead to 91-87 on two free throws by Delonte West with 46 seconds to play. But, after running down the shot clock, Garnett got the rebound of his own miss and Paul Pierce hit five free throws in the last 16 seconds to ice it.

Raptors exercise option on Jamario Moon

The Toronto Raptors announced Wednesday they have exercised the team option on the contract of forward Jamario Moon for the 2008-09 season. Per team policy, financial terms were not disclosed.

“We are very proud of Jamario for what he has accomplished and for the way he handled himself this year,” said Bryan Colangelo, president and general manager of the Raptors. “Jamario’s path to the NBA and the Toronto Raptors is a great example of perseverance.”

Moon, 6-foot-8, 205 pounds, was signed to a free agent contract July 10, 2007 following stints in the NBA Development League and Continental Basketball Association. He appeared in 78 games this past season, averaging 8.5 points, 6.2 rebounds, second on the team, and a team-best 1.38 blocks. He set a club record for starts by a rookie with 75.

Moon was named to the 2007-08 T-Mobile NBA All-Rookie Second Team, and participated in the T-Mobile Rookie Challenge and Sprite Slam Dunk contest during All-Star Weekend in New Orleans. He ranked first among NBA rookies in steals (1.03), second in blocks (1.38), third in rebounds (6.2), fourth in minutes (27.8) and 10th in scoring (8.5). He became the seventh player in team history to receive NBA Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month honours when he averaged 10.2 points and 5.9 rebounds in January, while shooting .516 from the field and .889 at the foul line.

Houston Rockets Center Yao Ming:

“It is very hard putting into words how difficult it is to see this kind of destruction in Sichuan.  I am very saddened to hear of the large loss of life that has occurred.  My thoughts are with everyone back in my home country of China during this very dark and emotional time.  Right now, the most important thing we can do is to respond quickly to help those who cannot help themselves.  I plan to do whatever I can and would like to thank Leslie Alexander and the Houston Rockets for the support they have already pledged.  I hope that many others around the world will join us.”

Houston Rockets Owner Leslie Alexander:

“On behalf of the Houston Rockets, I want to offer my deepest sympathies to all who have been affected by the earthquake in Sichuan, China on Monday.  Over the past several years, we have formed a strong bond with our friends in China and it is very difficult to see them struggling through this tragic event.  We have already begun the process of reaching out to relief aid agencies and have pledged our financial support to assisting those who have been devastated by this catastrophic event.  I know Yao Ming is fully committed to helping the people of China recover from this horrific experience and I will help him in any way I can.”

Basketball blog