Pacers need low post game

The Indiana Pacers are doing about as well as expected, with 6 wins and 10 losses. They’ve played without Mike Dunleavy, who is normally their second best player and would at worst be third best this season depending on how much you like point guard T.J. Ford. But they have one problem that has been the case for a while now. The Indianapolis Star (Mike Wells) reports:

The biggest issue I have with the Pacers offense is the same one I had during the summer – they don’t have anybody to score for them in the post. Starters Troy Murphy and Rasho Nesterovic are perimeter big men. The Pacers tend to settle for jump shots too often when the game gets tight. Roy Hibbert may be their best low-post scoring threat. That should tell you something because he’s raw offensively.

Marquis Daniels, playing only one minute less per game this season than Danny Granger, has stepped up, shooting 46.0% for 16.1 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game. Assuming Dunleavy’s knee eventually heals enough for him to play, Daniels will lose many of those minutes. But still, he should be proud of his performances so far this season.

Derrick Rose crossover owns Andre Miller

At the end of the third quarter in Philadelphia, Chicago Bulls rookie point guard Derrick Rose unleashed a crossover on 76ers point guard Andre Miller that was so nasty I was forced to replay it 15, maybe 20 times.

Despite playing way off Rose, giving himself tons of time to react, Miller was owned so badly he actually fell down. And it wasn’t a fluke fall. He got crossed, badly. Tape up those ankles.

With the 76ers up 55-50 and the quarter about to end, Rose had the ball up top in three-point range, jab-stepped a few times to test Miller’s reaction, drove right using his right hand, then at the free throw line shifted to his left and went right down the middle of the paint. Miller got crossed so badly he toppled to the floor.

Rose got right to the rim and put up a short finger-roll. A goaltending call was made on Samuel Dalembert, who swatted it a bit too late, so Rose got credit for the bucket.

See the video clip and fan discussion, and post comments of your own.


Jazz hurt by injuries

The Utah Jazz have 11 wins and 7 losses this season, which is pretty good considering they’ve had more injuries than a hospital. The Deseret News (Loren Jorgensen) writes:

The fact remains that the Jazz have been bitten hard by the injury bug this season. Consider that last year Jazz players missed a grand total of 45 games due to injury or personal reasons through the entire 82-game regular. Through Friday night’s home win over the Sacramento Kings, however, Jazz players had missed 52 games due to injury or personal reasons already. And that’s in only 17 games. Deron Williams, Utah’s unquestioned floor leader, missed 13 games with a sprained left ankle. His return this week has seemed to energize the entire club even though the Jazz are still missing Carlos Boozer, one of the few NBA players who can average 20-plus points and 10-plus boards.

The Jazz remain a lower-level championship contender. Meaning, a title is possible, but it would be a bit surprising if they managed to pull it off. But again, they’ve been hurt. A bunch of top West teams aren’t playing so great this season. Once Utah is healthy, they could wind up being the second or third best team in the entire West, and better than almost anyone in the East other than the Celtics.

Al Harrington rocks Warriors

Players often claim they have no grudge against their former teams, but Al Harrington, now with the Knicks, was pretty vocal while with the Warriors stating that things weren’t working out with him and coach Don Nelson in Golden State.

On Saturday, when the Knicks hosted the Warriors, Harrington went off for a huge game. Here’s the Contra Costa Times (Marcus Tompson II) reporting:

Warriors forward Al Harrington said he had this date marked the moment he got traded to the New York Knicks. His controversial clashing with coach Don Nelson led to his eventual departure from the Warriors, who traded him for guard Jamal Crawford on Nov. 21. But he couldn’t completely move on with the reunion date looming so close. Saturday, it happened, and Harrington showed up. “I dreamed up 60, 30 rebounds, 15 assists,” Harrington said with a smile. He wasn’t that far off. Harrington had 36 points and 12 rebounds in 39 minutes as his Knicks took down his former Warriors 138-125 at Madison Square Garden. Harrington played like the versatile weapon he always claimed to be. He knocked down 5-of-7 from 3-point range, grabbed four offensive rebounds and had a handful of dunks. He was playing up to the crowd and chest-bumping with his teammates.

It should be noted, however, that I ( editor Jeff Lenchiner) put up 23 points, 8 rebounds and 12 assists against the Warriors that same game. And I’m not even on the Knicks. That’s how bad the Warriors defense was. Still, good game by Harrington, who could start to fit very nicely in the Mike D’Antoni small-ball scheme of things in New York.

Jazz arena sticking around

The Salt Lake Tribune (Steve Luhm) reports: Among the 30 NBA arenas, Energy Solutions is the the ninth-oldest.    Of the eight arenas that are older, three have been renovated in recent years and one – Amway Arena in Orlando – will be vacated in 2010-11 when the Magic move into a new $480 million home.    There is some good news for the Jazz and their fans, however. According to team president Randy Rigby, EnergySolutions Arena has not outlived its usefulness.    “We are in an older building, there’s no question about that,” Rigby said. “But the positive thing is, we have the structure and design in place that gives us a lot of opportunities to make modifications and extend the life of this building – easily – for another 15 years. . . . It can be a very viable and productive building for a long time.”

Chris Kaman out

The Los Angeles Daily News (Ramona Shelburne) reports: Clippers center Chris Kaman sat out Saturday’s game and could miss all of next week with a strained left arch. A team spokesman said it was unlikely Kaman would travel with the team on its upcoming three-game road trip. Kaman had a cortisone shot to help relieve the pain after Wednesday’s game against the Nuggets, but said he’s only experienced “minimal relief.” “Right now I’m feeling pretty sore so I don’t know what’s going to happen,” he said. “Hopefully it’ll calm down next week and I can get back out there.”

Mike Miller still adjusting to Wolves

The St. Paul Pioneer Press (Phil Miller) reports: Mike Miller’s 19-foot jumper to beat the Thunder on Friday was a feel-good moment for the first-year Timberwolf and his victory-starved team. But the 16 shots Miller took before that game-winner might have been even more significant. Miller hit eight of 17 shots in Oklahoma, and was noticeably more willing to assert himself at the offensive end. Along with a 10-for-19 night against the Spurs three weeks ago, it was just the second time since coming to Minnesota on a draft-night trade that Miller resembled the perimeter gunner he had been in Memphis. “He got into a nice rhythm and took some good shots,” said forward Craig Smith. “He can make them.” He can if he takes them, but that’s been the catch for Miller in Minnesota. The 6-foot-8 swingman is a career 46 percent shooter, and 40 percent from three-point range. But Miller has tried to work his way into the Wolves’ offense slowly this year, and has passed up shots he didn’t hesitate to try in his previous nine NBA seasons.

Spurs assign Blake Ahearn to D-League

The San Antonio Spurs announced today that they have assigned guard Blake Ahearn to the Austin Toros, the NBA Development League team owned and operated by the Spurs.

Ahearn has appeared in three games for the Spurs and averaged 2.7 points in 6.3 minutes. He was signed by San Antonio on 11/16.

Ahearn was the first player called up from the NBA Development League in the 2008-09 season. He was in Minnesota’s 2008 training camp where he averaged 7.8 points and 1.2 assists in five games. After being waived by the Timberwolves he joined the Dakota Wizards. Ahearn was in camp with the Wizards prior to signing with the Spurs.

Clifford Ray once saved a dolphin

Celtics assistant coach Clifford Ray was a star NBA center. He’s also a hero to dolphins everywhere. The Boston Herald (Mark Murphy) reports:

One of the most famous stories concerning Ray involved his role in saving the life of a dolphin from Marine World in 1978. The mammal had ingested a stainless steel screw, and Ray, because of his long reach, was brought in by doctors, who greased his arm so he could reach down the dolphin’s gullet and remove the screw. At another point, before he finally caught on as a big man coach following a long and oft-frustrating search for work within the sport, Ray worked on oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico.

Dolphins are awesome. Clifford Ray is pretty cool, too.

Luther Head sighting

Remember Houston Rockets guard Luther Head? Of course you do. Though, you’ve barely seen him this season, because Head has barely played. But he did big things Saturday. The Houston Chronicle (Jonathan Feigen) reports:

Luther Head, who had played in just five games this season, started in McGrady’s place and then drove the Rockets to a stunning 103-84 rout of the San Antonio Spurs on Saturday night at Toyota Center. Head, who had not played since Nov. 15, made seven of 11 shots in scoring 21 points, two more than he had in the season’s first 16 games combined. “You have to sit down and think and keep yourself ready, keep yourself motivated,” Head said of sitting out so many games. “It’s tough, but if that’s what I have to do, it’s what I have to do.” Head started against San Antonio last season and was told he was starting Saturday about 30 minutes before the game. “You get pumped,” he said of his reaction to that news. “It’s, ‘OK, I’m going to get to play tonight. I’m going to get a certain amount of minutes because I’m starting.’ “

This season, Head is only averaging 3.8 points and 1.0 assists in 12.4 minutes. He’s shooting just 31.6%, though that percentage doesn’t mean much considering he’s barely taken any shots.