Archive for May, 2009

The AP reports: The Denver Nuggets are so much more than just Carmelo Anthony. A dominating effort on the boards and a great performance by the bench helped the Nuggets overcome a below-par effort from an ailing ‘Melo on Monday night, when they raced past the Los Angeles Lakers 120-101, evening the Western Conference finals at two games apiece… “Even before I twisted my ankle, with my stomach, I didn’t have my legs early in the game,” Carmelo Anthony said… Anthony finished with 15 hard-earned points on 3-of-16 shooting, but it hardly mattered because, unlike in Game 3 when his shot also wasn’t falling, his teammates came to the rescue. Six of them scored in double digits, led by Chauncey Billups and J.R. Smith with 24 apiece… “They whooped us, period,” said Kobe Bryant, who scored 34 points… Martin had 13 points and 15 boards, Nene pitched in 14 points and 13 rebounds, and Chris “Birdman” Andersen added 14 rebounds for the Nuggets, who outrebounded the Lakers 58-40.

The AP reports: Dwight Howard scored 24 points—14 on free throws—and Rafer Alston added 18 as the Orlando Magic, sick of seeing replays of LeBron James’ dramatic buzzer-beater to win Game 2, downed the Cleveland Cavaliers 99-89 on Sunday night to take a 2-1 lead in the series. A physical game from start to finish, there were 86 free throws attempted, 58 personal fouls called, two technicals, and a flagrant. The officials spent half the night stepping between players on both sides as tempers flared inside an overheated Amway Arena. In the first half, Mo Williams had his left eye split open by Orlando’s Anthony Johnson, who nailed Cleveland’s point guard with an elbow… James scored 41 on just 11-of-28 shooting and missed five free throws in the fourth quarter. And once again, Cleveland’s superstar didn’t get enough help from his teammates. Williams, Delonte West and Zydrunas Ilgauskas shot a combined 13-of-37. notes: The Cavs were quiet in the first quarter, but the Magic went cold in the second, leading to a 41-41 halftime score. The Magic then outscored the Cavs by six in the third quarter and by five in the fourth.

The Cavs shot just 37.2% from the field and only hit 5-of-26 (19.2%) three-pointers.

Orlando lived on the free throw line, getting 51 attempts, hitting 39. Dwight Howard hit 14-of-19 free throws, Hedo Turkoglu 12-of-12. The Cavs went 26-of-35. LeBron James alone had 24 free throw attempts (hitting 18), while the rest of Cleveland went to the line 11 times.

The Magic had balance: Dwight Howard had 24 points and 9 rebounds, Rafer Alston had 18 points and 3 steals, Mickael Pietrus (4-of-9) came off the bench for 16 points, 6 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 blocks, Rashard Lewis (5-of-8) had 15 points (but little else), and Hedo Turkoglu shot a miserable 1-of-11 but his 11-of-12 free throw shooting resulted in 13 points, 10 rebounds and 7 assists.

For the Cavs: LeBron James (11-of-28, just 1-of-8 threes) had 41 points, 7 rebounds, 9 assists and 2 steals, Mo Williams (just 5-of-16) had 15 points, 7 rebounds but more turnovers than assists, and Delonte West (5-of-11) had 12 points and more turnovers than assists. Other than Zydrunas Ilgauskas contributing a mere 9 points and 9 rebounds, barely anyone else on Cleveland did much of anything.

Fans discussed the game live as it happened in this forum topic.

Nick Calathes signs in Greece

Nick Calathes has signed to play pro basketball in Greece, rather than try his luck in the 2009 NBA Draft. The Orlando Sentinel (Chris Harry) reports: Call it a “Meet and Greek” session. Former University of Florida star Nick Calathes was scheduled to leave today for Greece and hopes to be on hand to watch his future Panathinaikos teammates celebrate a national championship as well as be introduced to what figures to be an adoring new fanbase. Calathes, 20, last week officially ended his career with the Gators by signing a three-year contract — worth about $1.1 million annually, including a home, car and tax credits — to play for the reigning Euroleague champions from Athens.

The AP reports: Trevor Ariza’s(notes) clutch steals are punching a dagger in Denver’s season just as much as Kobe Bryant’s(notes) big baskets. For the second time in three games, Ariza stole an inbounds pass in the final minute to help Los Angeles beat the Nuggets, this time 103-97 at the Pepsi Center for a 2-1 lead that restored the Lakers’ home-court advantage in the Western Conference finals. Ariza, whose steal of Anthony Carter’s(notes) lazy lob sealed the Lakers’ win in the series opener, sliced in front of Carmelo Anthony(notes) to swipe Kenyon Martin’s(notes) inbounds pass with the Lakers clinging to a two-point lead with 36 seconds left… “Trevor, he’s very crafty, he’s long, he’s fast, he’s quick and he’s a ball hog,” said Bryant, who scored 41 points… Carmelo Anthony scored 21 points but just three after halftime, and Denver lost at home for the first time since March 9. notes: The Lakers shot 45.8%, the Nuggets 39.3%. Both teams struggled from three-point range, with the Lakers hitting 6-of-19, the Nuggets just 5-of-27. And the Lakers had 45 free throw attempts but only hit 31 of them, while the Nuggets connected on 26-of-51.

For the Lakers, Bryant (12-of-24, 15-of-17 free throws) had 41 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists. Pau Gasol (7-of-12) had 20 points and 11 rebounds. Trevor Ariza (5-of-8, 3-of-5 three-pointers) had 16 points. Derek Fisher had 3 steals.

For the Nuggets, Carmelo Anthony (just 4-of-13, but 12-of-14 free throws) had 21 points, 5 rebounds and 3 steals, but more turnovers than assists. Chauncey Billups (just 5-of-15) had 18 points, 6 rebounds and 7 assists. Chris Andersen (6-of-9) was great off the bench with 15 points, 7 rebounds and 3 blocks. Nene had 13 points. J.R. Smith (just 4-of-15) had 10 points and 6 assists. Dahntay Jones scored 10.

Friday night in Cleveland, LeBron James, acting like the superstar that he is, hit a game-winning three-pointer at the buzzer, giving the Cavs a Game 2 win over the Orlando Magic.

Here are all of LeBron’s post-game quotes.

The AP reports: LeBron James dropped a 3-pointer from the top of the key over Orlando’s Hedo Turkoglu as the final horn sounded Friday night to give the Cavaliers, their season a heartbeat from major trouble, a 96-95 victory over the Magic that evened the Eastern Conference finals at one game apiece… Taking the inbounds pass from Mo Williams, James only had time to turn his shoulders toward the rim and fire. As the high-arcing shot dropped through, James sprinted into the arms of his delirious teammates as 20,562 stunned fans hugged in disbelief… One second before James’ shot, Turkoglu hit a 12-footer in the lane to give the Magic, who overcame a 23-point deficit in the first half, a 95-93 lead. Cleveland called a timeout and set up a play for James, the league’s MVP who finished with 35 points… Rashard Lewis scored 23 points and Turkoglu had 21 for the Magic, who have now lost four games at the buzzer in these playoffs. Dwight Howard scored 10— 20 below his Game 1 performance—and added 18 rebounds. Williams had 19 points—on 7-of-21 shooting—and Zydrunas Ilguaskas had 12 points and 15 rebounds for Cleveland.

Read LeBron James post-game quotes, discussing his awesome shot and more.

The Minnesota Timberwolves today named David Kahn as the franchise’s President of Basketball Operations. With nearly 15 years of front office experience in both the NBA and the NBA Development League, and 24 years of experience in positions directly related to professional basketball, Kahn will assume responsibility for all decisions made within the Timberwolves basketball operations department.

“This is a milestone decision for our franchise and I couldn’t be more excited by our choice,” Taylor said. “David has studied under one of the most storied basketball minds in the league in Donnie Walsh and has clearly demonstrated that he has the intelligence, creativity, leadership and passion to take our team to the next level.”

“This was a process that we were determined to perform with the utmost diligence and care. By speaking with legendary individuals like Jerry West and Pat Riley, we developed a short list of candidates whom eventually led us to the conclusion that it was time to inject a fresh voice into our basketball operations. We’ve worked hard over the last few seasons to put our team in a position to succeed, and I’m confident that with David’s vision we’ll continue that progress.”

Kahn brings a wealth of diverse skills and experience to the Wolves stemming from previous positions in both the on-court and business sides of professional basketball. In addition to working as a journalist covering the league with both the Portland Oregonian and NBC Sports, and as a lawyer providing counsel to the NBA with Proskauer Rose LLP, Kahn worked in the front office of the Indiana Pacers for nine years, including four seasons as General Manager where we worked with and learned from Walsh. Most recently, Kahn has been involved in the acquisition and ownership of several NBA Development League franchises, where he has overseen the development of numerous players now in the NBA and presided over nine coaching hires.

“Minnesota is a team on the rise and I’m thrilled at the opportunity to join the Timberwolves organization,” Kahn said. “The team already has some significant pieces.  I know Mr. Taylor is committed to building a playoff team and I look forward to working with him to put a plan in place that will allow the Timberwolves to achieve sustained success. I promise that nobody will outwork or outthink us as we build one of the best front offices in the league and a team that begins a climb to the top.”

From the time Kahn joined the Pacers in 1995 through his departure in 2004, the team compiled a 430-276 (.609) record, made eight playoff appearances and advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals four times, including an NBA Finals appearance in 2000.  Kahn also served as the point person for the design, development and marketing of Conseco Fieldhouse, widely considered one of the finest arenas in the NBA. He also served three years as Indiana’s representative on the NBA’s Competition Committee, and assisted Walsh with all facets of the Pacers’ basketball operations, including signing players, hiring coaches, making trades and managing the salary cap.

Kahn comes highly recommended by a number of his former colleagues:

“David helped me as much as anyone that I worked with during my time in Indiana, and his work with Conseco Fieldhouse made it the best building in the league,” Walsh said. “David has a wealth of experience and will do a great job in Minnesota. He’s very capable of capitalizing on the position the Timberwolves franchise is in and taking that team to the next level.”

“David is a remarkably gifted individual, with a combination of high intelligence, a major-league work ethic, and a great understanding of what makes teams successful,” San Antonio Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich said. “His ability to understand the dynamics of an NBA franchise is a real strength and he’ll be someone the Timberwolves can look to for leadership and sound decision-making.”

“I think the world of David. I’ve known him since we first crossed paths back at UCLA and I have nothing but admiration and respect for all that he’s accomplished throughout his career,” said Charlotte Bobcats Head Coach Larry Brown, who worked with Kahn for two seasons in Indiana. “David will bring a tremendous background to the job, particularly from his time with Donnie at the Pacers. I’ve always had a fondness for the Timberwolves, and with the group of exciting young players they’ve assembled, I think they have a great opportunity in front of them. I’m thrilled that David is getting this chance and I think he’ll do a phenomenal job.”

“I’m very happy for David. He’s a very intelligent guy and knows the ins and outs of this league as well as anyone,” said Indiana Pacers President of Basketball Operations Larry Bird, who coached the Pacers while Kahn was the team’s GM. “He has all the tools to get the job done in Minnesota.”

“An excellent hire. David has great knowledge of both the basketball and business sides of an NBA franchise,” said Dallas Mavericks Head Coach Rick Carlisle, who was Bird’s assistant at Indiana. “David is a highly-motivated person that will bring out the best in the people who work with him.”

Hawks coach Woodson to enter final year of deal

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports: What looks like pressure to some people looks like an opportunity to Hawks coach Mike Woodson. That’s why he was undeterred Thursday after it became clear he’ll enter next season in the final year of his contract. “There’s always pressure, if you want to call it that,” Woodson said after a day filled with meetings with Hawks officials and ownership. “I don’t look at it as pressure because I’m not made like that. All these people talking about fire Woodson and all that stuff, it’s never entered my mind. I swear. “The chatter is what it is. But we’re not going to do anything but keep pushing ahead trying to take another step next year.” Neither Woodson nor general manager Rick Sund broached the subject of a contract extension for the coach when they met.

The following is a statement from Philadelphia 76ers President and General Manager Ed Stefanski, regarding the status of the team’s coaching search:

“In the past week, I have completed interviews with six candidates, all of whom are exceptionally qualified, have an impressive knowledge of the game and are very well-respected within the basketball community.

“I truly appreciate that they took time out of their schedules to meet with me regarding this position. Along with my staff, we will continue our due diligence – including further interviews, extensive research and in-depth background checks – before a final selection is made.

“As I have said before, the qualities I am looking for in our next head coach include excellent communication and leadership skills, will stress the importance of accountability while also developing our players and will be a strong tactician.

“As such, due to the number of candidates still involved in the process, there is no timetable set for when this very important decision regarding the future direction of the franchise will be made.”

Washington Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld announced yesterday that the team has named Randy Wittman and Sam Cassell as assistant coaches on the staff of Head Coach Flip Saunders.  Per team policy, terms of the contracts were not released.

“Randy and Sam will be excellent additions to our coaching staff, and both will be instrumental in helping us achieve our goals,” said Saunders.  “Randy brings a wealth of experience as a former head coach of two different teams and is very familiar with my system.  I always regarded Sam as a coach on the floor during his playing days, and he brings instant credibility as a three-time NBA champion and a proven winner.”

Wittman was most recently with the Minnesota Timberwolves, where he served as head coach from January 23, 2007 to December 8, 2008.  He previously served as head coach for the Cleveland Cavaliers from 1999-2001.  He began his coaching career as an assistant coach with the Indiana Pacers in 1992, and later worked as an assistant for the Dallas Mavericks and Orlando Magic.  Wittman played collegiately at Indiana University under Bobby Knight, helping the team to an NCAA championship in 1981.  He was originally drafted by the Washington Bullets with the 22nd pick of the 1983 NBA Draft, and played nine seasons in the NBA for the Atlanta Hawks, Sacramento Kings and Indiana Pacers before retiring in 1992 with a career average of 7.4 points per game (.501 FG%) in 543 games.

“I’m excited for the opportunity to work with Flip again, and I’m confident that the staff he is assembling will complement the talented roster that is already in place,” said Wittman.  “I’m eager to help this team reach the next level and ready to get to work immediately on the court.”

The 2009-10 season will mark Cassell’s first foray into coaching after an outstanding 15-season playing career.  In 993 career regular season games, the former All-Star and Baltimore native averaged 15.7 points and 6.0 assists per game.  Cassell has won three NBA Championships (1994 and 1995 with Houston, 2008 with Boston), and appeared in the Eastern Conference Finals with Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld’s Milwaukee Bucks in 2001 and the Western Conference Finals under Flip Saunders with the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2004.

“After 15 seasons playing in this league, I have accomplished all that I have dreamed of as a player,” said Cassell.  “Now the time has come for to me to take my love for the game to the coaching ranks and pass on what I’ve learned.  This team is loaded with talent, and it’s a great way for me to start my coaching career.”

Charlotte Bobcats are for sale

The Charlotte Observer (Rick Bonnell) reports:  Charlotte Bobcats majority owner Bob Johnson has stepped up efforts to sell the team, recently hiring a sports investment banker to look for a buyer. Sal Galatioto, president of New York-based Galatioto Sports Partners, confirmed to the Observer Thursday that he’s representing Johnson in a potential sale. Galatioto declined to comment further on the situation. Johnson told Observer columnist Scott Fowler last month that he’d like to sell controlling interest to minority owner Michael Jordan, the former NBA star who oversees the team’s basketball operations. Since then, according to multiple NBA sources, Johnson has begun looking for other potential buyers.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports: Former Chicago Bull Randy Brown’s three NBA championship rings were sold at auction Thursday for $53,833. The winning bidder, identified only as “RingKing,” outbid Michael Jordan’s publicist. A judge ordered them sold following Brown’s 2008 bankruptcy filing. The minimum bid was $19,000. editor says: That’s a damn shame.

76ers interview Tom Thibodeau

The Philadelphia Inquirer (Kate Fagan) reports: The 76ers confirmed they met yesterday with Boston Celtics assistant coach Tom Thibodeau about their head coaching vacancy, bringing the number of interviewed candidates to four. The Sixers would not comment further on the interview, and Thibodeau could not be reached for comment. The Sixers called the Celtics for permission last weekend. Thibodeau joins former Washington Wizards coach Eddie Jordan, current Los Angeles Lakers assistant Kurt Rambis, and Dallas assistant Dwane Casey as the four known candidates on the list of Sixers general manager Ed Stefanski.

Richard Hamilton sues former agent

The Detroit Free Press reports: Pistons guard Rip Hamilton has filed a federal lawsuit accusing his former business manager, already at the center of recruiting allegations at the University of Connecticut, of stealing about $1 million from him. The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District court in eastern Pennsylvania against 34-year-old Josh Nochimson of Glenview, Ill. It accuses Nochimson of using Hamilton’s credit card to buy airline flights, game tickets and other items.

Nuggets beat Lakers 106-103 in Game 2

The AP reports: Similar game, different ending for the Los Angeles Lakers. Their 24-year playoff dominance of the Denver Nuggets dissipated over the final 29 seconds of the fourth quarter in the second down-to-the-wire game in the Western Conference finals. That’s when Kenyon Martin hit a layup in traffic and Chauncey Billups made 3 of 4 free throws to give Denver a 106-103 victory in Game 2 on Thursday night to even the series… Carmelo Anthony scored 34 points, Billups had 27 points and Linas Kleiza added 16 for the Nuggets. Nene finished with six points, nine rebounds and six assists… Kobe Bryant had 32 points, including making all 10 of his free throws, Trevor Ariza scored a career playoff-high 20 points and Pau Gasol had 17 points and 17 rebounds for the Lakers, who dropped to 7-2 at Staples Center this postseason… The Lakers were shaky on free throws in the fourth, making 9 of 14, while Denver didn’t blink at the line. The Nuggets were 29 of 37, with Billups hitting 13 of 16 and Anthony 10 of 14.

The Chicago Bulls today named Gar Forman the team’s General Manager.

A member of the Bulls’ front office for the last 11 seasons, Forman came to the Bulls as a Scout prior to the 1998-99 season.  Since then, he has overseen a wide array of responsibilities within the Bulls Basketball Operations Department, most recently as the team’s Director of Player Personnel, a post he has held for the last five seasons.

According to Bulls Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, “The promotion of Gar Forman to General Manager of the Chicago Bulls publicly formalizes a successful formula that has been evolving for some time. Over that time, Gar has been assuming more and more of the daily GM duties, freeing John Paxson to spend more of his time and energies on talent evaluation, and on long-term, strategic planning for the organization.  As winning in the NBA becomes more complex, team building in the front office is as important as it is on the court.  The strong finish by this young Bulls team, coupled with its valiant efforts during one of the best playoff series in NBA history, places the franchise at an important juncture.  The front office tandem of Paxson and Forman will continue to be charged with preparing us for an even brighter future.  I am excited at their prospects.  I think our fans are, too.”

“I am very honored to be named General Manager of the Chicago Bulls. I would like to thank Jerry Reinsdorf for allowing me to evolve and present me with such a great opportunity,” said Forman.  “During my 11 years with the Bulls, I have had the chance to progress professionally and I am eager to expand into this new role.   I look forward to continue working with John Paxson on the challenge of building the Chicago Bulls and elevating the Bulls into the NBA’s upper echelon of teams.”

Prior to being named General Manager, Forman oversaw the coordination of the Bulls amateur and professional scouting operations.  He also implemented the team’s pro-player personnel scouting plan and assisted Bulls Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations John Paxson in the evaluation of free agents and prospective trade acquisitions.

“Over the past six years, Gar Forman has been growing into a more prominent role within the Bulls organization,” said Paxson.  “With his help, we have improved the way we conduct business within our Basketball Operations Department, and this promotion is a reflection of his hard work, commitment and contributions to the organization. For Gar, this is long overdue and well deserved.”

Prior to joining the Bulls, Forman was a coach and recruiting coordinator at the collegiate level for 17 seasons with stops at his alma mater Utah State (1981-82), College of the Desert (1982-85), New Mexico State (1985-87, 1988-94), Cal Poly Pomona (1987-88) and Iowa State (1994-98).

Magic stun LeBron, Cavaliers 107-106

The AP reports: Dwight Howard scored 30 points, Rashard Lewis added 22 and the Orlando Magic rallied from a 15-point halftime deficit to hand James and the Cavaliers their first loss of the postseason, 107-106 on Wednesday night in the Eastern Conference finals opener. LeBron James finished with 49 points, eight assists and six rebounds, but the league MVP limped off the floor after Cleveland’s loss—just its third in 46 home games… Lewis made a 3-pointer with 14.7 seconds left and the Magic, who dethroned the champion Boston Celtics in seven games in the previous round, survived two shots by Cleveland in the closing seconds… Hedo Turkoglu scored 15 points with 14 assists for Orlando… Leading by 15, the Cavs got complacent and lost their offensive rhythm in the third quarter. They stood around either waiting for James to do something or settled for jump shots that didn’t fall.

The Los Angeles Times (Lisa Dillman) reports: Danny Manning, Michael Olowokandi . . . and now Blake Griffin. The Clippers have twice had the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA draft, and will get it again for a third time, having won the league’s draft lottery Tuesday night at Secaucus, N.J. “Clearly, we’re taking Blake Griffin,” Clippers General Manager and Coach Mike Dunleavy said in a telephone interview from Barcelona, Spain. “This guy is the No. 1 pick. We’re extremely excited. He’s the guy.” There wasn’t much of a question the Clippers would do anything other than take the dynamic, explosive forward from Oklahoma. Dunleavy, though, wasn’t about to be coy in the wee morning hours in Spain and erased any shred of doubt about the team’s intention in the draft June 25 in New York.

The AP reports: Kobe Bryant proved a steadying presence for his wildly inconsistent teammates, taking over in the fourth quarter and delivering a come-from-behind victory. Bryant scored 40 points, including six free throws in the final 30 seconds, to lift Los Angeles to a 105-103 win over the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference finals opener on Tuesday night after the Lakers trailed most of the game… Pau Gasol added 13 points and 14 rebounds for the Lakers, who faced a seven-point deficit in the fourth quarter. Gasol’s two free throws tied the game for the last time at 99 before Bryant started his closing streak at the line, offsetting a 3-pointer by Chauncey Billups and a free throw by J.R. Smith. Carmelo Anthony scored 39 points and Billups added 18 for the Nuggets, who hadn’t played since taking care of Dallas in five games last Wednesday… J.R. Smith sprained his right knee and will be re-evaluated Wednesday.

Nuggets G JR Smith suffered a sprained right knee at the end of tonight’s game against the Lakers. His status for Thursday’s game will be updated tomorrow.

Renaldo Balkman suffered a sprained right ankle in pregame workouts. He is questionable for Thursday’s game.

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