Archive for February, 2009

The AP reports: Caron Butler implored the officials not to start the game until a certain special spectator reached his front-row seat. And when President Barack Obama finally arrived Friday night, delaying the tipoff by a few minutes, Butler and the rest of the Washington Wizards set out to send a message to the First Fan by beating his Chicago Bulls… But with Antawn Jamison leading the way with 27 points and 11 rebounds, Washington led by as many as 15 in the first quarter and—after the Bulls closed within 49-45 at halftime—by 25 in the fourth period to the delight of most of the 18,114 in attendance… John Salmons scored 25 for the Bulls, who shot under 40 percent and were outrebounded 53-37.

Pistons end 8-game skid, top Magic 93-85

The AP reports: The Detroit Pistons found their answer without The Answer. Richard Hamilton had 31 points and six assists in his return to the starting lineup in place of Allen Iverson, and the Pistons ended their eight-game losing streak with a 93-85 victory over the Orlando Magic on Friday night… Rodney Stuckey had 22 points and Tayshaun Prince added 17 for the Pistons, who snapped their longest losing streak in 14 seasons. Rasheed Wallace, who was fined $25,000 by the league earlier Friday for his actions after an ejection Wednesday night, finished with six points. Dwight Howard had 21 points and 13 rebounds, and Rafer Alston scored 14 for the Magic, who fell again to a Pistons team that has knocked them out of the playoffs the last two seasons and has won 21 of the past 26 meetings.

President Obama attends Wizards game

The Washington Wizards welcomed President Barack Obama to tonight’s game against the Chicago Bulls.

He left with just under five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter as the Wizards were enjoying a 103-86 victory. Surrounded by security, Obama shook hands hands with plenty of fans and received a nice ovation from the crowd as he headed out.

Obama attended the game as a special guest of Abe Pollin, owner of the Wizards and Verizon Center.  Tonight marked his first presidential appearance at an NBA game.

“We are very proud and honored that President Obama attended tonight’s game at Verizon Center,” said Pollin.   “Irene and I want to officially welcome the president to the neighborhood and hope that he and his family will attend many more events here at Verizon Center.”

Obama viewed the game both from the stands and as a guest in Pollin’s suite.  He joins Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter as presidents who have attended Wizards/Bullets games.

Read fan discussion and post your own comments in this forum thread.

Nuggets notes

The Good: The Nuggets win vs. Atlanta on 2/25 snapped a three-game losing streak, which had matched their longest losing streak of the season (also dropped three-straight from 12/16-12/20). Additionally, the Nuggets once again avoided losing consecutive home games with their win on 2/25. They have not lost consecutive games at the Pepsi Center since the 2006-07 season (2/5 and 2/7/07).

The Bad: The Nuggets allowed 120 points at Milwaukee on 2/22, tying a Nuggets opponent season-high for total points. With the loss, Denver is now 5-6 so far this season when giving up 110 or more points.

And the Ugly: The 114-76 loss for Denver vs. Boston on 2/23 tied the second-worst home loss in Nuggets NBA history, while it tied the third worst home loss in Nuggets franchise history as well. With the 38-point loss on 2/23, this is now the first time since 1997-98 that the Nuggets have suffered two losses of 38+ points during the same season (also lost by 44 at New Jersey earlier this year on 2/7).

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Ira Winderman) reports: The personalized Band-Aid era is over. The slogan-bearing bandages Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade has been wearing beneath his previously injured left eye have been banned by the NBA. “We spoke to them,” NBA spokesman Tim Frank said today. “A player can wear a Band-Aid for healthcare purposes, but it shouldn’t have any name or identifications on it.” … “You can’t wear an identifiable Band-Aid,” Frank said. “We don’t expect it to be an issue, so there will be no need for a penalty.”

Clippers waive Jason Hart

The Los Angeles Clippers today waived guard Jason Hart.

In 28 games played this season, Hart averaged 2.3 points, 1.5 assists and 11.1 minutes per contest.  Over his eight-year NBA career, Hart has recorded averages of 4.9 points, 2.3 assists and 16.1 minutes per game.

The Clippers acquired Hart from the Utah Jazz on July 23, 2008 in exchange for guard Brevin Knight.

The Phoenix Suns announced today that there will be no increase in prices for Suns season tickets for the 2009-10 season.  The club will mail complete renewal information to season ticket holders today.  In addition to the price freeze, the plan includes a new interest-free flexible payment option and free parking for those who choose to pay in full.

“It is not ‘business as usual’ for our season ticket holders in this challenging economy,” said Rick Welts, President and COO of the Phoenix Suns.   “We want our most devoted fans to know that their team is listening to them and that the plan we are unveiling today addresses their concerns.  Our goal is to ensure that our fans can continue to enjoy the experience of Phoenix Suns basketball at a great value.”

The Boston Celtics announced today that they have suspended guard Gabe Pruitt for two games for conduct detrimental to the team.

“I recognize that my behavior was inappropriate and accept the consequences of my action as determined by the Celtics,” said Pruitt.

Pruitt, a 6’4”, 170lb guard, is in his second year with the Celtics and is averaging 2.3 points in 8.8 minutes per game this season. The former USC Trojan has appeared in 36 games for the Celtics this season.

Analysis: Marbury can help Celtics

Former New York Knicks point guard Stephon Marbury has signed with the Boston Celtics.

Although Marbury was a starter pretty much his entire career and is capable of putting up 20 points and tossing around eight assists over the course of a full game, the Celtics already have championship-level chemistry, and having Rajon Rondo run things is working out just fine. So they’re not changing that.

It’s expected that Marbury will be used as a prime scoring option off the bench, alongside Eddie House.

But the Celtics win with defense and teamwork, so they’re not looking to have Marbury merely put the ball in the hoop a few times. He’ll be expected to defend as hard as he’s ever done in his life. And move the ball properly.

If he dominates the rock more than the team wants him to, or lets his man go by him too consistently, or doesn’t grasp their team defense schemes, coach Doc Rivers won’t hesitate to sit Marbury down.

If a problem develops, they’ll get rid of him immediately.

It’ll be interesting to watch, but I think in limited minute and a clear backup role and his head on straight, Marbury makes the Celtics better.

Read fan reaction and discuss your own opinion in this forum topic.

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Dave Hyde) writes: Most days, Erik Spoelstra opens practice with Tupac Shakur rapping in the background, which is the Heat coach’s way of finding someone to “motivate the motivator,” as mentor Pat Riley says. Tupac motivates Spoelstra. “He’s of my time,” he says. It’s an interesting storyline if you freeze it there, the young coach relating to hip-hop players in a manner few NBA coaches do. Early on, Heat players took it to mean their new coach might be one of them, and lobbied for other, newer music. “Then they found out I only liked Tupac,” Spoelstra, 37, says.

Gabe Pruitt arrested for DUI

The Boston Globe (Frank Dell’Apa) reports: Reserve guard Gabe Pruitt was booked on suspicion of driving under the influence and spent about five hours under arrest at the Los Angeles Police Department’s Hollywood station early yesterday morning. Pruitt was charged with a misdemeanor and released on $5,000 bail. Pruitt failed a field sobriety test and was taken into custody near the intersection of Sunset Boulevard and Wilcox Avenue, about a block from the police station, at 3:07 a.m. A police spokesman said Pruitt was stopped at a green light and his automobile, a Mercedes S550, had dark, tinted windows, illegal in California. Pruitt was released at 8:31 a.m. yesterday.

Knicks want 40 wins

The New York Post (Brian Lewis) reports:  The Knicks need to go 16-9 to reach their 40-win goal, but as of yesterday, 14 of their 25 upcoming opponents would be in the playoffs if the season were over. They play six of their last nine and 13 of their last 21 on the road. Most worrisome, they have played poorly since the trades for Larry Hughes and Chris Wilcox. “We’ve got to somehow to get to 40 wins. That’ll give us a good chance to get in the playoffs,” D’Antoni said. “We’ve just got to eke out wins wherever we can. I didn’t sit down and work it out, there was no formula. I just thought 40’s pretty good. The last years have been what, about 35, 36? There’s no reason we can’t win 40. “I told them about 1,000 times, individually, collectively, talked about it with coaches. That’s our goal. I don’t know if we will [get it], but why not shoot for it?”

The AP reports: Without Steve Nash, nobody got the ball inside to Shaquille O’Neal, and that made the Phoenix Suns a pushover. The Los Angeles Lakers scored 70 points in the first half and rolled past the Nash-less Suns 132-106 Thursday night for their sixth consecutive victory. Kobe Bryant had 22 points and eight rebounds for the Lakers, while O’Neal had 12 points while taking just seven shots, and grabbed seven rebounds for the Suns in the former teammates’ first meeting since sharing MVP honors at the All-Star game… Lamar Odom had a team-high 23 points and Pau Gasol added 16 points and nine rebounds for the Lakers, who own the NBA’s best record at 48-10 and lead the Pacific Division by 15 games over the Suns… Leandro Barbosa scored 18 points and Alando Tucker added 16 starting in place of Nash. Jason Richardson added 13.

The AP reports: LeBron James missed shots, complained to the refs and went an entire game without an assist for the first time in his career. The Houston Rockets, meanwhile, showed they just might be contenders in the Western Conference with a 93-74 win over James and the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday night. Yao Ming scored 28 points and Ron Artest added 15 while harassing James on defense most of the night, leading the Rockets to their six consecutive win and ninth straight at home. “It is a big win,” said Yao, who hit 13 of 15 shots, despite Cleveland’s constant double-teams… James scored 21 points, but went 7-for-21 from the field with three turnovers… To make matters worse, forward Ben Wallace broke his right leg in the second quarter and will miss 4-6 weeks, the team said.

InsideHoops.com notes: For the Rockets, Yao had 28 points and 8 rebounds but 0 assists and 5 turnovers. Von Wafer shot 5-of-10, including 4-of-6 three-pointers, for 19 points off the bench. Ron Artest had 15 but needed 15 shots to get it. Luis Scola shot 5-of-7 for 14 points and 9 rebounds. The Cavs, however, only shot 33.8%. They were a force on the offensive boards thanks to Zydrunas Ilgauskas, who had 11 points and 13 rebounds, but shot badly. Mo Williams shot 8-of-18 for 21 points.

Joakim Noah talks with InsideHoops

Chicago Bulls big dude Joakim Noah is tall. And big.

He has long hair.

He also wears sneakers when playing basketball, which is impressive. I often do that, too.

With that introduction out of the way, here’s a new Joakim Noah interview from a regular contributor to InsideHoops.com.

–Jeff

Johnny ‘Red’ Kerr dies

The AP reports: Johnny “Red” Kerr, the former Chicago Bulls coach who spent more than three decades as a broadcaster for the team, died Thursday. He was 76. Kerr died at his home after a battle with prostate cancer, Bulls spokesman Tim Hallam said. “His name was synonymous with basketball, both here in Chicago, and throughout the entire NBA,” Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said. “Those that were fortunate enough to have known Johnny were touched by both his tremendous compassion for people, and his lifelong passion for the game of basketball. We will miss him greatly.”

Ben Wallace has broken right leg

Cleveland Cavaliers power forward Ben Wallace broke his right leg in today’s game against the Houston Rockets.

The AP reports: Wallace, guarding Yao Ming much of the game, left in the third quarter. He was playing his fourth game since missing Cleveland’s Feb. 18 win over Toronto with a right arm laceration that required 14 stitches.

TNT is reporting that the Cavs athletic trainer expects Wallace to miss 8-10 weeks.

We’ll update this blog entry when more is known. Probably again later tonight, with an official report from the Cavs sometime Friday.

Read basketball fan opinion and post your own comments in this forum topic.

Antawn Jamison likes Dominic McGuire

Here’s what Washington Wizards forward Antawn Jamison said about teammate Dominic McGuire: “He’s awesome.  He’s one of the young guys that you trust night-in and night-out.  He’s going to bring it.  He’s going to give you 100 percent and he’s going to play with the energy and effort that you need.  That’s why I like him.  I like a young guy that’s going to come out there and just play and not make any excuses.  He accepts criticism.  He wants to do well and he wants to win.  He’s not worried about numbers or anything like that.  He’s just going out there and keep playing basketball the way it should be played.”

Raptors assign Nathan Jawai to D-League

The Toronto Raptors announced Thursday they have assigned rookie forward-centre Nathan Jawai to the Idaho Stampede of the NBA Development League. Jawai will continue to be included on the Raptors’ roster and will be placed on the team’s inactive list.

Jawai, 22, has appeared in five games totaling two points and two rebounds in 18 minutes. He was cleared December 17 to begin physical activity after being sidelined since training camp for precautionary reasons as a result of an abnormality detected during normal procedural pre-season cardiac screening.

The club acquired the draft rights to Jawai from the Indiana Pacers on July 9. He was the 41st overall selection in the 2008 NBA Draft. He is the first indigenous player from Australia to be drafted by an NBA team.

Jawai is the third Raptor to be assigned to the D-League. P.J. Tucker was assigned twice to Colorado during the 2006-07 season and Pape Sow was assigned to the Arkansas Rimrockers in the 2005-06 campaign.

Idaho, who is led by head coach Bryan Gates, has been designated as Toronto’s D-League affiliate for the 2008-09 season. In addition to the Stampede, the 16-team NBA D-League includes the Albuquerque Thunderbirds (N.M.), Anaheim Arsenal (Calif.), Austin Toros (Texas), Bakersfield Jam (Calif.), Colorado 14ers (Broomfield), Dakota Wizards (Bismarck, N.D.), Erie BayHawks (Penn.), Fort Wayne Mad Ants (Ind.), Iowa Energy (Des Moines), Los Angeles D-Fenders, Reno Bighorns (Nev.),

Rio Grande Valley Vipers (McAllen, Tex.), Sioux Falls Skyforce (S.D.), Tulsa 66ers (Okla.) and Utah Flash (Provo).

Rocky Mountain News to close

The Denver Nuggets are covered by two main newspapers, the Denver Post and the Rocky Mountain News. The latter, which features fantastic writer Chris Tomasson, is closing in a mere 24 hours. This news obviously stretches way beyond basketball, but in terms of Nuggets coverage this is awful. The Rocky Mountain News reports the following, on themselves:

The Rocky Mountain News publishes its last paper tomorrow. Rich Boehne, chief executive officer of Scripps, broke the news to the Rocky staff at noon today, ending nearly three months of speculation over the paper’s future. He called the paper a victim of a terrible economy and an upheaval in the newspaper industry. “Denver can’t support two newspapers any longer,” Boehne told staffers, some of whom cried at the news. “It’s certainly not good news for you, and it’s certainly not good news for Denver.” On Dec. 4, Boehne announced that Scripps was looking for a buyer for the Rocky and its 50 percent interest in the Denver Newspaper Agency, the company that handles business matters for the papers, because of financial losses in Denver. Scripps said the Rocky lost $16 million in 2008.

Print media continues to lose readers and business to the internet (where you can also find the print product available free of charge). The current very bad economy is affecting businesses around the country and world. These factors and more spell gloomy days for the newspaper business for months and possibly years to come.

–Jeff

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