Archive for January 14th, 2009

Von Wafer making name for himself

The Los Angeles Times (Broderick Turner) reports: Von Wafer signed a non-guaranteed contract with the Houston Rockets last September for $797,581 and appears to have found a home. He has been starting while Tracy McGrady heals from a sore left knee, and Ron Artest gets well from a sore right ankle. “I told him during the game how I was proud of the way he’s been playing,” Kobe Bryant said. “He’s doing a fine job.” Wafer was 10 for 14 from the field (three for four from three-point range) in 39 minutes in Houston’s 105-100 loss to the Lakers at the Toyota Center. The athletic Wafer did much of his work against Bryant. “He told me he was proud of me,” Wafer said. “I’ve got a lot of respect for Kobe. He told me he was proud of me, that I’ve come a long way and just keep it going.”

Knicks-Wizards team connections

Wizards head coach Ed Tapscott served in the Knicks front office for nine seasons (1991-2000). He was named Vice President of Player Personnel in 1997 after stints as Director of Administration and Vice President of Administration.

Jared Jeffries played the first four years of his career in Washington, playing 256 games for the Wizards with averages of 6.1 points and 4.8 rebounds per game after the club selected him 11th overall in 2002.

Wizards President of Basketball Operations Ernie Grunfeld played with the Knicks from 1982-83 to 1985-86 and served as the Knicks General Manager from April 23, 1991 through April 21, 1999. His son Dan Grunfeld went to training camp with the Knicks this past summer before being waived on October 23.

Jared Jeffries’ Indiana Hoosiers lost to Juan Dixon’s Maryland Terrapins in the 2002 NCAA National Championship Game in Atlanta, Georgia. Dixon scored 18 points and had five rebounds and three assists and Jeffries posted eight points and seven rebounds.

Chris Duhon and Wizards forward Darius Songaila were teammates in Chicago during the 2005-06 season.

Tim Thomas played in Philadelphia for parts of two seasons (1997-99) when Wizards assistant coach Randy Ayers was an assistant under Larry Brown.

Nets team notes

Rookie forward Ryan Anderson made his first career start vs. Oklahoma City on 1/12. He tallied six points and a career-high tying nine rebounds in 27 minutes. Anderson, 20, was the third youngest Nets player to start in franchise history. Below are the five youngest players to start for the Nets in franchise history including Anderson’s expected start tonight.

Against Oklahoma City on 1/12, the Nets started two rookies, Anderson and Lopez, for the first time since March 5 of 2002 when Jason Collins and Richard Jefferson started at the LA Lakers in a 92-101 loss.

The Nets are currently riding their longest home winning streak of the season at four games… The last time New Jersey won four consecutive home games was last season with victories vs. Dallas on 2/10/08, vs. Minnesota on 2/12/08, vs. Indiana on 2/23/08 and vs. Milwaukee on 2/28/08.

The Nets are one of 12 NBA teams to have won 10-or-more games on the road this season. With the 114-103 victory at Charlotte on 12/27, the Nets moved to six games above .500 on the road for the first time in franchise history. The Nets reached five games over .500 on the road for the first time in franchise history with the 108-107 victory at Indiana on 12/23. Before this season, the Nets have reached four games over .500 on the road five times and during the current campaign New Jersey has been four games above .500 on the road three times.

The Nets currently have the fourth highest road scoring average in the NBA at 102.1.

Brook Lopez is currently averaging 2.00 blocks per game (fourth in NBA, first among rookies), which puts him on pace to swat 164 shots this season. He currently has 76 blocks and if he continues swatting shots at this rate, he will shatter the current Nets rookie record of 113 blocks set by Kenyon Martin in the 2000-01 season. Nets sophomore forward Sean Williams fell just short of the record last year in his rookie season with 106 blocks (1.45 per game). If Brook does reach 160, it would also give him the 6th all-time highest block total for a Nets player, tied with Shawn Bradley from the 1996-97 season. George Johnson owns the Nets record for most blocks in a season with 274 during the 1977-78 campaign.

Brook Lopez is ranked fourth in the NBA in blocks per game at 2.00 and first among rookies… He is also ranked in the top ten in four other rookie categories, 2nd in rebounding at 8.2, 9th in scoring at 10.7, 8th in field goal percentage at .476 (171-359), 9th in free throw percentage at .805 (66-82) and 7th in minutes at 29.1.

Jodie Meeks of Kentucky scores 54

The AP reports: Jodie Meeks was just trying to get a victory. He didn’t fathom having a chance at earning a spot among Kentucky’s greatest players. Meeks scored a school-record 54 points to help Kentucky cruise to a 90-72 win over No. 24 Tennessee on Tuesday night. “It means a lot to be in the same sentence as Dan Issel. It’s mind-boggling,” he said. “I was just out there playing to win.” Meeks, who broke Issel’s 39-year-old record of 53 points set at Mississippi, was mobbed by his Kentucky teammates in the middle of the Thompson-Boling Arena court, where the Wildcats (13-4, 2-0 SEC) handed the Volunteers their third loss in January. The Southeastern Conference’s leading scorer surpassed his previous high of 46 points, which he set Dec. 20 against Appalachian State, with 4:50 left as he hit an open 3, one of 10 3-pointers he would make for the night. He set the record with free throws with 1:31 left.

The AP reports: Seldom-used Jeremy Richardson’s lone basket proved the most memorable Tuesday night, a 3-pointer with 2:20 left in the fourth quarter that gave the Magic an NBA-record 23 3s in a 139-107 victory over the Sacramento Kings. The Magic made 23 of 37 attempts (62 percent) in breaking the old mark of 21, set by Toronto on March 13, 2005, against Philadelphia. Orlando rang up its highest point total since scoring 152 at Milwaukee on Feb. 20, 1995… Jameer Nelson made all five 3-point attempts and had 23 points and 11 assists, Rashard Lewis scored 19 points, Hedo Turkoglu contributed 17 points and eight assists, and J.J. Redick added 15 points… Kevin Martin scored 30 points for the Kings, who allowed a season-high point total. Francisco Garcia scored 15 points, Spencer Hawes had 14 and Bobby Jackson added 13.

Suns hold off Hawks as Shaq scores 26

The AP reports: The Shaquille O’Neal of old is leading the new-look Phoenix Suns. O’Neal had 26 points and 10 rebounds, and the Suns won their third straight Tuesday night with a 107-102 victory over the Atlanta Hawks, who lost their fourth in a row. The Suns are 8-1 this season when O’Neal scores 20 or more points. This was his ninth 20-point game of the season, surpassing his total of eight all last season… O’Neal made 10 of his 17 field goal attempts, but for the first time in three games he missed a foul shot… Steve Nash finished with 23 points and six assists, Leandro Barbosa scored 22 points and Stoudemire had 17 for the Suns. Barnes added 10 rebounds. Josh Smith led the Hawks with 24 points. He was followed by Mike Bibby with 17, Marvin Williams with 16 and Flip Murray with 14. Williams also had 12 rebounds, Zaza Pachulia 11 and Smith 10.

The AP reports: The Denver Nuggets needed two big nights from role players and one veteran move from Chauncey Billups to hold off Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks. Billups drew a late foul on Jason Terry and made two free throws with 2.2 seconds left, and the Nuggets overcame 44 points from Nowitzki to beat the Mavericks 99-97 on Tuesday night. Billups scored 23 points and Nene had 20 to lead a balanced attack that helped Denver recover after blowing a 17-point lead. The Mavericks were upset a foul was called on Terry, who came over to try and block Billups’ jumper… Dahntay Jones had 16 points and Chris Andersen added 15 points and 10 rebounds for Denver.

The AP reports: Kobe Bryant sank a 3-pointer with 27 seconds left and scored 33 points, and the Lakers beat the short-handed Houston Rockets 105-100 on Tuesday night. Bryant had 13 points in the fourth quarter, finally getting the better of Wafer, who scored a career-high 23 points in place of the injured Tracy McGrady… Carl Landry had a season-high 21 points and eight rebounds for the Rockets, who also played without Ron Artest. Artest has missed five of the last six games with a sprained right ankle. An MRI exam also showed a bone bruise that the Rockets say will keep him out 7-10 more days… Yao had 19 points and 17 rebounds for the Rockets, who lost for just the second time in their last 11 home games.

The AP reports: LeBron James had 30 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists for his second triple-double of the season, leading the Cavaliers to a 102-87 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Tuesday night. With Zydrunas Ilgauskas sidelined by a fractured left ankle and Ben Wallace out with the flu, Cleveland was missing 40 percent of its starting lineup… Delonte West added 19 points and Mo Williams 16 for the Cavs. Anderson Varejao was held to seven points and four rebounds after averaging 16 points and eight boards the past four games in place of Ilgauskas… Kyle Lowry led the Grizzlies with a career-high 25 points, including 15 from the free throw line, and reserve Hakim Warrick had 16 points and seven rebounds. Rookie guard O.J. Mayo was limited to six points, a season-low. The Grizzlies also got 13 points in 13 minutes from Darius Miles, who signed a 10-day contract Saturday and is one game away from reaching the 10 appearances that would put the remaining $18 million of his salary back on Portland’s payroll.

Wade outduels Foye, Heat beat Wolves

The AP reports: Dwyane Wade had 31 points and eight assists in a wildly entertaining duel with Randy Foye, and Shawn Marion hit the go-ahead free throws with 22 seconds left to lift the Miami Heat to a 99-96 victory over the Timberwolves. “He does so much for us and we don’t take it for granted,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said of Wade, who also had three blocks and three steals… Shawn Marion finished with 16 points and 11 boards. Udonis Haslem had 17 points and 10 rebounds. Wolves star forward Al Jefferson had nine points and was just 4-of-14 from the floor. He had to get seven stitches at halftime to close a cut over his right eye and played only sparingly in the final period… The Heat made 30 of 38 free throws while Minnesota was just 9-for-13.

The AP reports: A month after rallying from 29 down to nearly beat the Pistons in North Carolina, Charlotte overcame a 78-71 deficit in the final three minutes to win 80-78 on the road… Raymond Felton scored seven points in the final 9-0 run, including a game-winning jumper with 0.7 seconds left… “This was about stepping up and being a leader,” said Felton, who led the Bobcats with 23 points… Gerald Wallace added 18 points and 10 rebounds for the Bobcats to help Larry Brown beat the Pistons for just the second time in seven tries since leaving Detroit after the 2004-05 season… Rodney Stuckey scored 22 points. All five Detroit starters reached double figures, but the bench had just six points in 64 minutes.

Defenses focusing on Derrick Rose

The Arlington Heights Daily Herald (Mike McGraw) reports: Defense aside, Derrick Rose’s offensive performance has also slid recently. He’s averaged 13.0 points and shot 40.7 percent so far in January, compared to 18.9 points and 49.6 percent in November. His assists are up slightly, from 6.1 in November to 6.7 in January. The most obvious answer for Rose’s struggles is defenses have ganged up on him, trying everything possible to prevent him from driving all the way to the basket and daring the other Bulls to beat them. The Bulls are 16-22 heading into tonight’s game at Toronto, so the schemes have been successful more often than not. “I notice teams are playing a little bit different, trying to get the basketball out of his hands, like they did (Monday) night,” Del Negro said. “You could see the difference of his improvement compared to when we played (the Blazers) early in the season when they were pressing us to how he handled it (Monday).”

Monta Ellis practices

The Contra Costa Times (Marcus Thompson II) reports: Dribbling at the top of the key, Warriors guard Monta Ellis split a double team with a quick spin move, freeing himself for a pull-up jumper at the free-throw line. No, this didn’t go down on the video game NBA Live ‘09. This was the real deal. Ellis got over another major hurdle Tuesday — he participated in a full practice for the first time since undergoing left ankle surgery in August. “Monta actually did the whole practice today, which probably I wasn’t supposed to (allow),” coach Don Nelson said. “It kind of ended up that way.” What does this mean? Ellis has only one obstacle remaining: game action.

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