Archive for December 26th, 2008

Grizzlies are kiddies

The Indianapolis Star (Jeff Rabjohns) reports: Memphis has eight players 23 or younger and is one of only four teams in the league with at least four rookies. The Grizzlies’ starting lineup in 15 games — Mike Conley (21), O.J. Mayo (21), Rudy Gay (22), Darrell Arthur (20) and Marc Gasol (23) — averages 21.4 years old. Last year’s University of Memphis team that was the NCAA runner-up had a starting lineup that averaged 21.6 years old. “After you’ve been through a year, you understand the wear and tear, the grind and the level you have to play at, night in and night out,” Conley said. “It’s something I’ve gotten used to. “It’s a matter of putting all the things you’ve worked on every day in the offseason into games. You definitely have more responsibility as a second-year player.”

Nene feeling grind of season

The Denver Post (Chris Dempsey) reports: Nene just can’t seem to feel 100 percent. He swears he has been fighting a cold for the past couple of weeks. “After the cancer, I don’t know,” Nene said. “I’m hard to get sick, you know? But now I get sick all the time.” That’s not all. Nene will play his 30th game tonight, which is nearly double last season’s workload. While he’s held up just fine, there is a wear-and tear factor that warrants keeping an eye on the 6-foot-10 Brazilian as the season progresses. Nene acknowledges the difficulty of his nightly tasks and says he is doing all he can to stay healthy and in game shape. One of those things is letting the coaches know when he needs a breather. He has signaled the bench more often of late to remove himself from games to grab rest. When he has been on the court, his level of exhaustion is obvious. On his way back down the defensive end of the court, he walks the first few steps, gradually trots and then runs.

Candace Parker: Bro vs husband game

The Sacramento Bee (Melody Gutierrez) reports: Candace Parker may not be rooting for the Kings tonight. With her brother, Anthony Parker, on the Raptors, and her husband, Shelden Williams with the Kings, the WNBA star will have her allegiances tested. Anthony and Candace Parker became the first brother-sister duo to represent the NBA and WNBA after the Los Angeles Sparks drafted Candace in April. “It will be like a family reunion,” said Williams, who joined Kings teammates and Monarchs players in handing out turkey dinners Tuesday to 200 families.

Don Nelson on sinking ship

The Sacramento Bee (Scott Howard-Cooper) writes: Don Nelson has the look and sound of someone trying to get fired. This comes as no surprise to those who know him well: thrive in the underdog role, scuttle the ship when people get excited for a genuine payoff. Except that, now, the timing is curious even by his standards. He signed a two-year, $12 million extension in October, set to begin after the current deal expires with $5 million due this season. One of Nellie’s closest friends, Larry Riley, was moved from the bench to the front office to handle personnel matters in place of titular head Chris Mullin. Nelson is entirely in position to be at the intersection of everything that goes on with the Warriors, without having to get bogged down in management minutiae. There is no such thing as shocking in the Nelson world, but quitting and walking away from $12 million would qualify. No one expects that to happen. Moving himself into the line of fire to become the seventh coach to get the ax, that’s another story. He would get a sizable payoff and the freedom to swing a new deal elsewhere, if he suddenly feels tough enough again.

Fan Blog: Coach firings, Wolves and more

The Goose Juice: A look around the league from NBA fan “The Goose”

It’s tough to argue with the firing of Maurice Cheeks given the Sixers’ start to the season. It’s kind of tough to argue with the firing of Sam Mitchell given the Raptors’ start. But would a coaching staff of Phil Jackson, Red Auerbach and Coach K be able to squeeze even 18 wins out of the Oklahoma City Thunder?

- Big shout out to Andrew Bogut who donated some of his own money last week to help keep Australian professional basketball team the Sydney Spirit from going under mid-way through the season. All 29 Spirit fans were said to be ecstatic.

- Another big shout out, this time to rookie Timberwolves power forward Kevin Love. In Sunday’s loss to the Lakers, Love had only 20% of his shot attempts rejected, a new career low!

- Speaking of the Minnesota Timberwolves, anyone seen the numbers OJ Mayo and Brandon Roy have been putting up lately? The one good transaction Kevin McHale made in recent memory was stepping down as VP of Basketball Operations, and even that came with the trademark “McHale Catch” as he named himself Head Coach.

- I don’t care if they beat the Cavaliers. I just don’t think I’ll ever again get used to the idea of an Atlanta Hawks team that doesn’t suck. It’s been one of the most consistent things in recent NBA history, along with D’Antoni teams not playing defense, Don Nelson starting two guards in his frontcourt, and Ricky Davis missing jumpshots.

Pistons want to limit McDyess minutes

The Detroit Free Press (Chris Lau) reports: Ideally, Pistons coach Michael Curry would like to play veteran forward/center Antonio McDyess in the second and fourth quarters only, and keep him in during crunch time. McDyess is the leader of the second unit. He’s valuable because he’s the primary scoring option off the bench, a strong defensive presence and a calming influence on teammates. He’s also 34, so Curry wants to limit his playing time now to preserve him for the playoffs. That hasn’t happened of late. In Tuesday night’s 104-98 win over Chicago, McDyess played 26 minutes, 34 seconds, including the final 8:53 of the third quarter.

Dec 25: Mavs 102, Blazers 94

The AP reports: Dirk Nowitzki scored 24 of his 30 points in the first half, and Jason Terry had 19 to help the surging Dallas Mavericks beat the Portland Trail Blazers 102-94 on Thursday night. Nowitzki was 12-of-18 from the field and scored on power moves and jumpers despite playing the second half in foul trouble. Josh Howard added 15 points for Dallas, 15-4 in its last 19 games after opening 2-7. Portland’s Brandon Roy had 22 points, but went scoreless in the fourth quarter. Steve Blake added 14 points and seven assists, Travis Outlaw and Rudy Fernandez had 13 points each, and LaMarcus Aldridge finished with 12… Josh Howard was ejected after picking up a flagrant foul and two technical fouls in the third quarter.

Dec 25: Cavs 93, Wizards 89

The AP reports: Trailing by eight to woeful Washington, the Cavaliers scored 11 straight points in the final 1:33 to preserve their perfect home record with a 93-89 win Thursday night. Mo Williams scored 24 points, and LeBron James and Delonte West had 18 apiece for the Cavs, who at 15-0 are the NBA’s lone unbeaten team at home. Cleveland trailed 89-82 before storming back with three free throws by James, a 3-pointer by Williams and five more foul shots in the last 26 seconds. Antawn Jamison scored 28 points, and Mike James 26 for the Wizards, who dropped their eighth straight and continue to find new ways to lose… Overmatched because of injuries to All-Star guard Gilbert Arenas (knee) and center Brendan Haywood (wrist), Washington is off to the worst start in franchise history and has already had a coaching change before the end of the calendar year.

InsideHoops.com editor says: I thought several lousy calls greatly benefitted the Cavaliers in the final few minutes of this game. But, the Cavs were the more aggressive team in the clutch, and that always helps draw calls. Still, I thought the Wizards got slightly robbed here.

Dec 25: Lakers 92, Celtics 83

The AP reports: Kobe Bryant had 27 points, nine rebounds and five assists, Pau Gasol scored seven of his 20 points in the final three minutes, and the Lakers used a strong finish to beat Boston 92-83 Thursday, snapping the Celtics’ franchise-record 19-game winning streak… “Give them all the credit,” said Boston’s Paul Pierce, who had 20 points and 10 rebounds but was scoreless in the fourth quarter. “We just have to play better down the stretch.” … Lamar Odom had 10 points and seven rebounds for the Lakers (24-5), who won their 12th straight game at home, where they’re 15-1… Kevin Garnett shot 11-of-14 in leading the Celtics (27-3) with 22 points and nine rebounds. Ray Allen scored 14, but went 2-of-11 after making his first three shots. Rondo was held to six points, shooting 3-of-11, but had 12 assists.

Dec 25: Spurs 91, Suns 90

The AP reports: Roger Mason didn’t play at all in the fourth quarter until there were 4.3 seconds left. Then he came in and made the biggest shot of the game. Mason’s 3-pointer from the corner at the buzzer Thursday gave the San Antonio Spurs a 91-90 victory over the Phoenix Suns… Tony Parker scored 27 and Tim Duncan had 25 points and 17 rebounds as the Spurs won their fourth straight. Amare Stoudemire had 25 points and 13 rebounds and Shaquille O’Neal 23 points and 12 boards for the Suns, who led most of the afternoon but never by more than eight in the second half… O’Neal was 9-of-16 at the foul line to become the only player other than Wilt Chamberlain to miss 5,000 career free throws. Steve Nash had 13 points. His eight assists made him the 13th NBA player to reach 7,000 for his career. Porter is among the other 12.

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