Archive for December 16th, 2008

Trail Blazers notes

HEAD COACH NATE MCMILLAN: Nate McMillan is in his fourth
year as the Trail Blazers’ head coach, coming off a season in which he
posted 41 wins, a nine-game improvement from the season prior and
Portland’s first season of .500 or better since 2003-04 … McMillan has
bettered the Trail Blazers by 20 wins since his first year in Portland,
averaging a 10-game improvement each season … Among the 23
head coaches to reach the 300-win plateau during the last 20 seasons
(1988-2008), only Jeff Van Gundy (42 years, 320 days on 12/04/04)
and Mike Fratello (42 years, 312 days on 1/02/90) hit the milestone at
a younger age than Nate McMillan (43 years, 225 days on 3/15/08).

ROY POW-ER: Brandon Roy was named Western Conference
Player of the Week on Dec. 1 for his performance during Portland’s
four-game winning streak from Nov. 24-30 … The NBA All-Star averaged
20.0 points, 5.3 rebounds and 6.0 assists while shooting 50.8%
(30-for-59) from the field … Roy has received the honor three times
now, all in December, after being named in consecutive weeks last
season (Dec. 9 and Dec. 16) … Clyde Drexler is the only other Trail
Blazer in franchise history to win the award more than twice.

HEAD START: Portland is 15-10 after 25 games, the best record for
a Trail Blazers team 25 games into the season since starting 17-8 in
2000-2001 … Sixteen of Portland’s first 24 games this season were
contested away from the Rose City … The 1988 Lakers were the last
team to face more road contests (17) in the first 24 games … Fifteen
games have matched Portland with playoff teams from 2007-08 …
Eleven of those 15 games were played on the road … Twenty-four of
the Trail Blazers’ first 35 opponents made the playoffs last year.

30-30-30: Brandon Roy netted a career-high 38 points and added
a game-high nine assists in a double-overtime loss to the Clippers
on Dec. 12 … He has posted 30-plus points in three consecutive
games, the only three games of 30 or more points by a Trail Blazer
this season … Roy is the first Trail Blazer to reach the 30-point mark
in three straight games since Zach Randolph, who accomplished
the feat from Nov. 6-10, 2006 … Roy has scored 20-plus points
in more than two-thirds of Portland’s games this year (17) … The
third-year player has notched at least a share of the scoring lead
for Portland in 17 contests and the assists high in 11 games.

20-20-20-20: LaMarcus Aldridge has netted 20-plus points in four
straight contests for the first time in 2008-09 … The third-year forward
out of Texas now has eight games of 20 points or more on the year.

ODEN-ODEN: Greg Oden notched his team-leading eighth doubledouble
of the season Dec. 12 vs. the Clippers with 15 points and 15
rebounds … His 15 boards is a career high … He has led Portland
in rebounding a team-best 11 times … Every game Oden has
grabbed 10 rebounds or more, he has added at least 10 points …
Oden has only reached double fi gures in scoring only once without
notching 10-plus rebounds.

CLOSE AT HOME: Six of Portland’s nine home games have been
decided by four points or less, or overtime (Portland is 4-2).

WORKING OVERTIME: Four Trail Blazers saw a career-high in
minutes in Portland’s double-overtime loss to the L.A. Clippers on
Dec. 12 (Aldridge, 54; Roy, 53; Oden, 42; Fernandez, 38) … The
Trail Blazers are now 1-1 in extra time this season after fi nishing
last year with a 5-2 mark.

THIRD ONE DOWN: Portland’s 120-112 double-overtime loss to
the L.A. Clippers marks the team’s first three-game losing streak
of the season.

SLEEPLESS INSIGNIFICANCE: The Trail Blazers are 4-3 in the
second games of back-to-backs this season … Portland fi nished
the 2007-08 season with a 12-7 record in such contests.

BLAZING TRAILS: Despite falling to Utah, 97-88, in Salt Lake
City, Portland has won eight of its last 13 road contests and four
of the past six … The Trail Blazers didn’t reach eight road wins in
2007-08 until Jan. 21 … The last time Portland had a .500 record
or better in its first 16 road games was 2002-03 (9-7).

CLOSE CALLS: Orlando’s one-point win on Dec. 9 marked Portland’s
first defeat of three points of less this season … The Trail
Blazers had won all four games decided by three or fewer points
this year after going 10-2 in such close contests in 2007-08 …
Portland also snapped its streak of winning eight such games in
a row, dating back to last year … The Trail Blazers are 25-10 in
games decided by three points or less since the beginning of the
2006-07 season.

Grizzlies team notes

- Memphis has won four consecutive games, the club’s longest winning streak since winning the final five games of the 2005-06 season (Apr 11-19, 2006)… Prior to this current run, the Grizzlies had not won consecutive games all season.

- The Grizzlies’ current four-game winning streak is the third-longest active streak in the league behind Boston (14-straight) and San Antonio (sixstraight).

- In the current four-game winning streak, the Grizzlies are averaging 105.5 points, including 41.5 from the bench, and are outscoring opponents 85-32 (+13.3 points per game) in points off turnovers.

- Memphis has topped 100 points in all four games during the win streak (six times in the season’s first 20 games)… It marks the club’s longest stretch of the season scoring 100-plus points.

- The Grizzlies are 2-0 entering the third game of the club’s five-game home stand (Dec. 12-22), Memphis’ longest of the season.

- Memphis is 7-5 at home this season, the team’s best home start through 12 games since posting an identical mark in the 2005-06 season.

- Memphis has won five of its last six games since a seven-game losing streak (Nov. 21-Dec. 3)… The Grizzlies are 5-2 in the month of December.

- In the last six games (5-1 record), Memphis is averaging 40.3 bench points (29.9 season average), 11.2 turnovers (14.4 season average) and 22.5 points off turnovers (17.6 season average).

- The Grizzlies are 8-2 this season when winning or tying opponents the third quarter and 1-13 when they don’t.

- In 15 games this season, Memphis has used a starting lineup of Mike Conley (21 years old), O.J. Mayo (21), Rudy Gay (22), Darrell Arthur (20) and Marc Gasol (23) following an opening night loss at Houston on Oct. 29… The unit’s average age is just 21.4 years old, younger than the starting lineup for the Memphis Tigers (21.6 years old) in the 2008 NCAA Championship Game last April.

- O.J. Mayo leads all rookies in scoring at 20.8 points per game, the highest scoring average for a first-year player since Carmelo Anthony (21.0) and LeBron James (20.9) in 2003-04.

- In back-to-back nights, O.J. Mayo scored a then-career high 31 points on Nov. 9 at Denver and followed it up the on Nov. 10 at Phoenix with a career-best 33 points… Mayo became just the fifth NBA rookie (and the first in 28 years) to score 30-plus points on back-to-back nights on Nov. 10 or earlier in the season, joining Wilt Chamberlain (in 1959), Sidney Wicks (1971), Bernard King (1977) and Darrell Griffith (1980).

- The Grizzlies are 7-4 when Rudy Gay leads the team in scoring.

- Marc Gasol leads the Grizzlies and all first-year players in field goal percentage (.544)… Should he continue this pace, he would break his brother Pau Gasol’s franchise single-season record (.538 in 2006-07) and franchise rookie record (.518 in 2001-02) in the category.

- Eight of the 14 players on the Grizzlies’ roster are 23 years old or younger.

Durant and Green need help in OKC

With 2 wins and 23 losses, the Oklahoma City Thunder barely qualify as an NBA basketball team. I’m not sure they’d even dominate the D-League at this point.

Thunder fans can be happy, though, because the team is young and fun to watch, even when they lose, which is quite often.

I’m not using “fun” lightly. I mean it. When they play with energy they’re a pleasure.

Two relatively bright spots are Kevin Durant and Jeff Green. Rookie point guard Russell Westbrook has also shown talent, though he’s struggling with his shot.

The problem is, aside from that, there’s been nothing.

Durant is shooting very well (46.3% and a fantastic 48.4% from three-point range) for 23.1 points per game, but aside from his 5.1 rebounds he isn’t a player who makes teammates better just yet. He’s a scorer, but not a playmaker.

Green, who has nice versatility, is also shooting extremely well from both two and three-point range, for 15.6 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game. He’s a nice fill-in-the-blanks type of contributor.

Westbrook is tossing up bricks, and not creating as much as hoped just yet. But he’s shown legit talent and has a bright future, though he may not turn out as good as the Thunder hoped when drafting him.

Then you have bench fodder.

The team spent several years rounding up rookie centers, but so far Johan Petro, Robert Swift and Mouhamed Sene don’t even combine to be a really good starter.

Assuming they want to hold on to Durant, Green and maybe Westbrook, the Thunder don’t have enough ammo to make a real trade that matters. They just need to keep developing their youth, round up first round picks, and continue to build for the future.

Until then, fans should enjoy the young, athletic players and focus on entertainment value, not wins-losses.

There’s been a good basketball atmosphere in Oklahoma City

Charlie Villanueva bench role continues

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel (Tom Enlund) reports (via blog): Bucks coach Scott Skiles again started rookie Luc Richard Mbah a Moute at power against Miami and Charlie Villanueva came off the bench to score 20 points. Malik Allen, who had been starting at power forward, missed his fourth game with a rib sprain and is listed on the team’s injury report as day to day. Skiles is still wrestling with how he wants to handle the position once Allen get healthy again. “You’ve got to give Charlie a lot of credit,” said Skiles. “He’s accepted that (reserve role) and has played well there. But I still wouldn’t put any permanence on it. Malik was just starting to fit into that role a little bit and unfortunately he got hurt. I’d like to put Mbah a Moute back on the bench, to be honest, just to have him available for different match ups when he comes in as a defender. So maybe when we get Malik back, we’ll go back to that. But I’m starting Luc at (power forward) and it’s kind of unfair to him because he’s always over-matched physically with a bigger player.”

The Golden State Warriors have recalled guard DeMarcus Nelson from the Bakersfield Jam of the NBA Development League, the team announced today.

Nelson, 23, started all nine games for the Jam after being assigned on November 14, and averaged 16.0 points, 4.8 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 2.22 steals in 32.7 minutes per contest in the D-League.  At the time of his recall, he led the team in scoring and steals, while ranking second in assists and third in rebounds.

Prior to being assigned to Bakersfield, Nelson appeared in eight games for the Warriors this season (five starts), averaging 5.4 points, 1.8 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 14.6 minutes per contest.  The 6-4 guard became the first undrafted rookie to appear in the starting lineup on Opening Night for the Warriors since the team moved to the West Coast in 1962.

Rockets-Nuggets connections

Houston Assistant Coach T.R. Dunn spent two seasons (2002-04) as an assistant coach for Denver.

In 10 seasons as a player with the Nuggets (1980-88 and 1989-91), Dunn scored 3,585 points and became a mainstay in the franchise’s record books, where he still ranks second all-time in steals (1,070), fourth in games played (734) and fourth in minutes played (18,322).

Rockets Rehabilitation & Performance Coordinator/Assistant Athletic Trainer Keith Garnett is a native of Denver.

Houston Assistant Coach Elston Turner played three seasons with the Nuggets (1984-85, 1985-86 and 1988-89).

Rockets guard Von Wafer averaged 1.3 points and 0.2 assists in 21 games with the Nuggets in 2007-08.

Marbury may watch Knicks like a fan

Stephon Marbury is a point guard who is probably best utilized as an undersized shooting guard. He’s also a member of the New York Knicks, though he’s gotten as much court time this season as you have. He’s currently banned by the team, and is on vacation in the West coast. Sweet work if you can get it. Anyway, the Knicks are in Los Angeles tonight to play the Lakers, and there’s a chance that one of the “fans” in the stands watching the game may be Marbury. The New York Post (Marc Berman) reports:

Despite being banned from the Knicks, Stephon Marbury is planning to attend the team’s game against the Lakers on Tuesday night at Staples Center, according to a source close to the situation.  Marbury told The Post last week he was headed for a two-week West Coast vacation to get out of the cold weather and begin training in the Hollywood Hills. He flew to L.A. on Sunday. It is unclear where Marbury plans to sit at the game, but last Thursday he said he was investigating purchasing courtside seats. The exiled point guard was ordered to stay away from Knicks games and practices in an official capacity. The Lakers are raging-hot, with a 10-game winning streak and 20-3 record.

The only other player in an even remotely situation to Marbury is Eric Snow of the Cleveland Cavaliers, but even that is totally different because Snow and his team are on good teams; Snow plays on retiring and it just hasn’t officially happened yet. Until it does, Snow works as an analyst on NBA TV.

I think it would be funny if Marbury became a Knicks groupie and followed the team all around the country as a fan. Maybe try to get their autographs after games.

Everybody has heard of the Guinness Book of World Records, a legendary book that contains the unprecedented achievements of people from around the globe.  But few have ever made an attempt to add their name to the book’s famous pages and even fewer have actually succeeded in doing so.  On Saturday night, the Bucks are giving all fans in attendance the chance to both witness history AND – even better – a guarantee that they will be a part of history by helping to set two Guinness records.

On Saturday, December 20, when they host the Los Angeles Clippers, the Bucks Game Operations Department will attempt to set nine separate Guinness World Records.  An official judge from Guinness will be at the game to legitimize any and all record-setting attempts.  The records that could be broken are:

- Longest time to spin a basketball on one finger, using one hand (current record: 37.46 seconds)

- Most basketball half-court shots in one minute (current record: 4)

- Highest forward flip trampoline slam dunk (current record: 10 feet, 9 inches)

- Most slam dunk bounce passes in 30 seconds (current record: 21)

- Furthest forward flip trampoline slam dunk (current record: 19 feet, 2 inches)

- Most basketball forward flip slam dunks in 30 seconds (current record: 17)

* Both records currently held by the Milwaukee Bucks Rim Rockers, set on February 14, 2008, at the NBA All-Star Jam Session in New Orleans, LA.

In addition to the six records listed above, the Bucks will also attempt to set three records that have never before been recorded.  A member of the dunk team will attempt to complete the first-ever double front flip dunk on record during halftime.  The final two record attempts will not be disclosed until Saturday night, but there are currently no official records on file for either one, meaning that any fan in attendance at Saturday’s game will be a part of the crowd that sets the original marks for two Guinness World Records.

Dec 15: Magic 109, Warriors 98

The AP reports: Jameer Nelson scored 23 of his career high-tying 32 points in the second half, and the Orlando Magic beat the Golden State Warriors 109-98 on Monday night for fourth win in five road games. Marcin Gortat, starting in place of the injured Dwight Howard, recorded his second career double-double with career bests of 16 points and 13 rebounds as the Magic improved to 19-6, their best 25-game start since opening the 1994-95 season at 20-5. Rashard Lewis added 21 points and Courtney Lee had 16. Andris Beidrins scored 23 points to lead the Warriors, who have lost 12 of their last 14 games. Marco Belinelli added 19 points and Jamal Crawford scored 16.

Dec 15: Kings 118, Wolves 103

The AP reports: Francisco Garcia scored 21 points, John Salmons added 17 and Sacramento beat the woeful Minnesota Timberwolves 118-103 Monday night in the Kings’ first game under interim coach Kenny Natt. A few hours after the Kings fired Reggie Theus and replaced him with Natt, the veteran assistant coach presided over one of Sacramento’s best efforts of the season against the Timberwolves, who lost their 10th straight. Brad Miller added 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Kings, who had eight players scoring in double figures in just their second win in 12 games. Al Jefferson scored all of his 22 points in the first half for Minnesota in a meeting of struggling teams that both fired their head coaches in the past eight days. The Timberwolves dropped to 0-5 under Kevin McHale, who replaced Randy Wittman last week… Rashad McCants scored 21 points while Craig Smith and Kevin Ollie added 17 apiece for the Timberwolves (4-20), who haven’t won since Nov. 28.

Dec 15: Suns 111, Knicks 103

The AP reports: Mike D’Antoni got a warm welcome in his return to Phoenix, but frigid long-range shooting doomed his New York Knicks in a 111-103 loss to the Suns on Monday night. Steve Nash, whose career flourished in D’Antoni’s four seasons as Phoenix coach, scored 21 points, including a game-clinching 3-pointer with 28 seconds to play. D’Antoni’s run-and-shoot squad was just 5-of-37 on 3-pointers. The Knicks tied their franchise record for 3-pointers attempted, set earlier this season against Cleveland. Shaquille O’Neal had 23 points, making 11 of 18 free throws, and 12 rebounds. Amare Stoudemire added 21 points and 14 boards for the Suns, who topped 110 points for the fourth game in a row. Nate Robinson scored 27, 17 after halftime, in his second game back from a groin injury for New York. Al Harrington added 24… The Knicks were 2-for-19 on 3s in the first half.

Dec 15: Nuggets 98, Mavs 88

The AP reports: Reserve J.R. Smith scored 25 points, Carmelo Anthony added 23, and the Denver Nuggets beat the Dallas Mavericks 98-88 on Monday night to extend their winning streak to four games. Chauncey Billups had 15 points and eight assists for the Nuggets, who have won seven of eight and improved to 16-4 since Billups joined the team after a Nov. 3 trade with the Detroit Pistons. Dirk Nowitzki had 27 points and 10 rebounds, and Jason Terry scored 19 points for the Mavericks, who had won 11 of their previous 13. Mavericks forward Josh Howard was back after being inactive for 11 straight games because of a sprained left ankle. He came off the bench late in the first quarter and played 14 minutes, scoring seven points.

Dec 15: Celtics 100, Jazz 91

The AP reports: Rajon Rondo scored 12 of his career-high 25 points in the final 5:20, and Kevin Garnett had 19 points and 10 rebounds and Kendrick Perkins added 15 points and 14 rebounds to help Boston avenge the worst loss of its championship season. Paul Pierce scored 15 points before he hurt his left knee during a scramble for a defensive rebound with 31 seconds left… Paul Millsap scored a career-high 32 points with 10 rebounds for Utah… The Jazz were within 89-85 after Deron Williams’ 3-pointer with 3:23 left. But Rondo drove for a one-handed bank shot and then, after Williams sank a basket, Rondo made a free throw and Perkins hit a turnaround hook shot in the lane.

Dec 15: Bucks 98, Heat 83

The AP reports: The Milwaukee Bucks wanted a quick start to their three-game road trip, and Michael Redd delivered. Redd scored 16 of his 21 points in the first quarter, and the Bucks started fast before holding off a late rally to beat the Miami Heat 98-83 on Monday night… Andrew Bogut had 20 points and 11 rebounds, and Charlie Villanueva added 20 points for Milwaukee, which won on the road for the first time since beating Charlotte on Nov. 22… Mario Chalmers had 20 points, eight assists and seven rebounds, and Wade added 15 points for the Heat, who lost their third straight game.

Dec 15: Nets 94, Raptors 87

The AP reports: Vince Carter knew just what to tell Ryan Anderson about recovering from a poor shooting performance. Carter had 20 points and 10 rebounds, Anderson scored a career-high 21 points, and the New Jersey Nets beat the Toronto Raptors 94-87 on Monday night to snap a three-game losing streak… Devin Harris scored 16 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter, making 10 of 11 from the free throw line… Chris Bosh and Jason Kapono each scored 17 for Toronto. Jose Calderon added 15 points and Jermaine O’Neal had 12 for the Raptors, who have lost seven of nine. Jamario Moon and Andrea Bargnani each had 10 points for Toronto. New Jersey had a season-high 54 rebounds, including 18 on the offensive end, and outscored Toronto 26-2 on second-chance points. Toronto has been outrebounded in 13 consecutive games.

Dec 15: Hawks 83, Bobcats 79

The AP reports: The Atlanta Hawks were fortunate that they were at home and the opponent was the struggling Charlotte Bobcats. Joe Johnson scored 18 of his 28 points in the second half to lead the Hawks to an 83-79 victory over Charlotte on Monday night, extending the Bobcats’ losing streak to seven. Al Horford added 12 points and 14 rebounds for Atlanta (15-9), which won its third straight and improved to 9-1 at home with six straight games at Philips Arena coming up… Boris Diaw led Charlotte (7-18) with a season-high 25 points. Raymond Felton added 15… Johnson led the Hawks’ 15-3 run that gave Atlanta a 74-68 lead with 7:45 left, scoring seven points.

Dec 15: Pacers 118, Wizards 98

The AP reports: A 15-point second-half lead had turned into a tie game before the end of the third quarter, and the six-game losing streak was starting to weigh on the mind of at least one Indiana Pacer. But forward Danny Granger put any doubt out of his mind after coach Jim O’Brien issued a simple directive, which led to the Pacers pulling away for a 118-98 win against the Washington Wizards on Monday night… Granger scored 27 points and added nine rebounds to pace Indiana as it snapped that six-game skid. Marquis Daniels had 20 points and point guards T.J. Ford and Jarrett Jack each scored 16 points for the Pacers (8-16), who had dropped eight of nine entering the game… Antawn Jamison had 26 points and a season-high 15 rebounds—his 14th double-double this season—and Caron Butler scored 26 for Washington. Andray Blatche, inserted into the starting lineup in place of rookie JaVale McGee, had 19 points.

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