Archive for December, 2009

Chris Dudley running for Oregon governor

Former NBA big-man Chris Dudley, who was a decent rebounder and defender, and one of the worst free throw shooters in the history of this universe, is pushing ahead in the world of politics.

The AP reports:

The 6-foot-11 Yale graduate told supporters Wednesday he wants to slow the growth of the state budget and considers his lack of political experience a plus.

He will compete for the Republican nomination against Allen Alley, John Lim and Bill Sizemore.

Should he win, Dudley’s first act as governor should be to make it state law that all little children learn to shoot free throws.

Aside from learning that he’s in the Republican party, I don’t know what his political views are. I will say that individual people tend to be more diverse than the overall general views of their party. But in general politics makes people angry so I stay away from talking  too much about it on this-here fun basketball website. For now, though, until there’s a reason to feel differently, I say Vote Dudley!

Joe Freeman of The Oregonian reports:

The Trail Blazers have finally received a dose of good news surrounding their injury-depleted roster.

The NBA has awarded the Blazers a hardship exception, giving them the option of signing  a 16th player to the roster for a short-term basis. Teams are eligible for the exception after four players on a roster miss at least three games and are expected to miss two additional weeks.

The Blazers became eligible after their game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday, when Greg Oden missed his third consecutive game because of a fractured patella in his left knee, and were awarded the exception by the NBA on Sunday.

Marc Berman of the New York Post reports:

When recently signed Jonathan Bender finally makes his season debut for the Knicks, he’ll owe a lot to a former Olympic gold-medalist.

The 7-foot Bender, in his unorthodox comeback attempt, has used 1996 Olympic gold medalist Carl Austin as his coach. Austin also had wrecked his knee and returned to win the gold in Atlanta in the high jump.

Bender, 28, signed with the Knicks on Sunday but did not dress last night here. Mike D’Antoni backpedaled and said he probably won’t suit up until after Friday’s game vs. the Clippers.

Bender worked out with Austin for the last year in San Marco, Texas. Austin will come to New York to continue working with Bender, who played his last NBA game in November of 2005 before a chronic injury left him with no cartilage in his knee.

Dan Cahill of the Chicago Sun-Times reports:

John Salmons must keep Bulls offense in motion

After he was acquired from Sacramento last year, [John] Salmons came to Chicago and drilled every shot he took, or so it seemed. This year, Salmons jump shot has betrayed him, especially late in games.

When Salmons touches the ball on offensive, everything stops. Rose stops moving, Deng watches, Noah gets in position for a miss and the fourth player ties his shoe (or, watches someone on the other team tie their shoe). After seven or eight seconds of dribbling nowhere, Salmons will fire a bad shot or throw a bailout pass to one of his teammates, who has to hoist a desperation shot as the clock winds down.

Last night’s game was a perfect example. After Salmons went out of the game with two quick fouls, the Bulls offense moved better than it had all season. Rose was able to find wide-open teammates off the dribble-drive. When Salmons returned, so did stagnation.

Are you a Bulls fan? Express your opinion on the Chicago Bulls forum.

Reuters reports:

A Michigan investment firm has finalized a deal to sell its 15 percent stake in the Cleveland Cavaliers to a group led by Kenny Huang, bringing LeBron James’ team a step closer to adding the National Basketball Association’s first big Chinese investor.

A Cavaliers spokesman declined to comment, but Cavaliers Vice Chairman David Katzman, whose Camelot Venture Group owns the stake being sold, said an all-cash deal was reached and should be approved by year’s end. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

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

Kings lure fans with beer

Cynthia Hubert of the Sacramento Bee reports:

The Sacramento Kings have given away food, offered discount ticket packages and touted their prized rookies.

But they have yet to find the formula for bringing raucous sellout crowds back to Arco Arena.

Could the answer be cheap beer?

Quite possibly. Wednesday night, with a national television audience watching, the Kings could be playing before a sellout crowd at Arco for only the second time this season. The draw? Dollar Beer Night.

“Sacramento and its fans have such a good reputation nationally,” said Kings spokesman Mitch Germann. “We want to showcase that on national TV.”

Their efforts seem to be paying off. As of Monday afternoon, only “a limited number of tickets” were available for the Wednesday game, Germann said.

Have opinions on the team? Share them on the Sacramento Kings forum.

Celtics love the pick-and-roll

Frank Dell’Apa of the Boston Globe reports:

The pick-and-roll is among the most basic of basketball maneuvers. But it is also difficult to defend, especially when Celtics Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce are executing the play.

“It’s a tough pick-and-roll,’’ Pierce said, “because you’ve got a big guy [who’s] able to knock down shots. I’m able to knock down shots or drive off the pick and they got to make a decision whether to trap or switch. Then, if you trap you’ve got to rotate to Kevin, so it puts teams in a predicament down the stretch. It’s been a bread and butter play for us.’’

The play - also known as a pick-and-pop, Garnett becoming a perimeter threat - led to the Celtics’ final 7 points in a 110-105 win over the Grizzlies last night.

Trevor Ariza suspended

Trevor Ariza of the Houston Rockets has been suspended without pay for one game for swinging his elbow at the head of  the Toronto Raptors’ DeMar DeRozan, it was announced today by Stu Jackson, NBA Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations.

The incident occurred with 3:47 remaining in the third period of the Raptors’ 101-88 victory over the Rockets at Air Canada Centre on Sunday, Dec. 13.

Ariza will serve his suspension tomorrow when the Rockets host the Detroit Pistons at the Toyota Center in Houston.

For more info on what actually happened, see here.

Heat waive Shavlik Randolph

michael redd

The Miami Heat announced today that they have requested waivers on forward Shavlik Randolph.

“Shavlik was the ultimate professional,” said Heat President Pat Riley. “He always brought an absolute effort, dedication and discipline to the court each and every day. We wish him nothing but the best.”

Randolph, a 6’10”, 236-pound forward, appeared in two games with the Heat this season totaling two points, seven rebounds and one block in 23 minutes of action.  Over the course of his five-year NBA career, he has appeared in 91 games (seven starts) averaging 2.4 points, 2.5 rebounds and 8.3 minutes while shooting 44.7 percent from the field.

Are you a Heat fan? Post your team opinions on the InsideHoops Miami Heat forum.

Suns recall Taylor Griffin from D-League

The Phoenix Suns have recalled rookie forward Taylor Griffin from the Iowa Energy of the NBA Development League, it was announced today by Suns President of Basketball Operations and General Manager Steve Kerr.

Originally assigned to Iowa on Dec. 7, the 6-7, 238-pound Griffin started both games he appeared in, averaging 13.5 points, 8.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 4.0 steals in 37.0 minutes.  Griffin shot 68.8 percent from the field in those contests, both Energy wins.

Griffin was selected by the Suns with the 48th overall pick (second round) of the 2009 NBA Draft and has appeared in two games this season for Phoenix.

Owners of a 17-game home win streak dating back to last season, the Suns (16-8) return to action Tuesday night, taking on the San Antonio Spurs (12-9) at US Airways Center at 7 p.m.  The game can be seen locally on FOX Sports Arizona and heard on Sports 620 KTAR.

Rodney Stuckey playing great

Ted Kulfan of the Detroit News reports:

Rodney Stuckey on fire

The story after Saturday’s victory over Golden State was the return of Richard Hamilton.

But it’s one of the mainstays this season, Rodney Stuckey, who’s been a headliner lately.

While winning their last five games, the Pistons are seeing Stuckey at his best — he’s averaging 25 points in the winning streak and dominating at both ends of the court.

“Looking at our team I’m not sure if there were many players that had a better week than (Rodney) Stuckey did,” said coach John Kuester, who has been trumpeting Stuckey’s talent and potential from the start of training camp.

Said veteran point guard Chucky Atkins: “Rodney Stuckey is a guy who’s hard to stop, the way he’s attacking the basket and continuing to put pressure on the defense. We need that. He’s a guy that defenses are going to have to deal with from now on, throughout the rest of the season.”

Bucks must improve shooting

Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports:

The Bucks’ season field goal percentage number is 44%, which ranks 26th among the 30 National Basketball Association teams. Milwaukee is shooting better than just four teams - Charlotte, Indiana, Chicago and New Jersey.

It’s a major source of concern for coach Scott Skiles, who believes the Bucks will improve their marksmanship.

“That’s the difference between good college shooters and pro shooters,” Skiles said. “When you’re open in your range and your feet are set, that thing has to go in at a high percentage. I would tell you that most of the really good pro shooters, when their feet are set and I’m talking about (being) wide open, 75% of the time that thing should be right in the bottom of the goal.

“At other times, you’ve got to take off-balance shots and you’re driving, you don’t get fouled. So we need all our guys.”

Trevor Ariza ejected after swinging at DeMar DeRozan

Early Sunday afternoon in Toronto as the Raptors were winning big over the Houston Rockets, a frustrated visiting player lost his cool.

Late in the third quarter on the left side of the court, Rockets small forward Trevor Ariza had the ball but was stripped of it by DeMar DeRozan.

As DeRozan start dribbling up the floor, a frustrated Ariza took what appeared to be a full swing at him. The swipe missed but was spotted by referees, and play was stopped.

Raptors guard Jarrett Jack rushed over to confront Ariza, but the situation did not escalate.

At the time of the incident the Raptors were leading 68-49 with 3:47 left in the third quarter. Ariza, who is generally having a terrific season, was having a nightmare of a game with one point (0-of-9 shooting), two rebounds, one assist and four turnovers.

InsideHoops.com predicts Ariza may be suspended by the NBA, perhaps for one game.

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

Knicks sign Jon Bender

Knicks sign Jon Bender

New York Knickerbockers President of Basketball Operations Donnie Walsh announced today that free agent forward Jonathan Bender has been signed to a contract. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.

InsideHoops.com assumes that the deal is a nonguaranteed contract for one season.

“Jonathan has worked extremely hard in preparing himself for a return to the NBA,” said Walsh. “I know him to be a young man of the highest character from my relationship with him that dates back 10 years to his rookie year and I think he will be a fine addition to our team both on and off the court.”

Bender, 7-0, 230-pounds, has career averages of 5.6 points, 2.2 rebounds and 15.0 minutes in 237 games (27 starts) over seven NBA seasons, all with Indiana. The Picayune, MS-native was selected out of high school by the Toronto Raptors with the fifth overall selection in the 1999 NBA Draft and was acquired by the Pacers on Aug. 1, 1999 in exchange for Antonio Davis.

Bender enjoyed his most productive NBA season in 2001-02 when he averaged career-highs of 7.4 points, 3.1 rebounds and 21.1 minutes in a career-high 78 games. Injuries forced Bender to miss 172 games over the next three seasons before he was forced to stop playing due to chronic knee pain on Feb. 4, 2006, after playing in just two games in 2005-06.

Bender founded The Jonathan Bender Foundation in New Orleans that has adopted elementary schools, taken on real estate ventures, offered free finance classes for some of New Orleans’ poorest residents and run free basketball clinics for teens in the New Orleans region. He also founded a construction company called Kingdom Homes that buys and restores flood-damaged properties in New Orleans’ most disadvantaged neighborhoods.

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

Kobe Bryant breaks finger

Kobe Bryant broke a small bone in his finger on Friday. It remains to be seen what the outcome of the injury will be.

The AP reports:

Kobe Bryant scored 20 points while playing with a small break in his finger, and the Los Angeles Lakers wrapped up the generous portion of their schedule with their 11th straight victory, 104-92 over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday night.

Pau Gasol had 17 points and a career-high 20 rebounds for the defending champions, who improved the NBA’s best record to 18-3 while finishing a season-opening stretch with 17 of their first 21 games at home. Ron Artest scored 16 points and Lamar Odom added 13 for Los Angeles, which hasn’t lost since Nov. 15.

Yet the Lakers also got a scare when Bryant hurt the index finger on his right hand while reaching for a pass late in the first quarter. Bryant has an avulsion fracture, in which a small piece of bone tears away near a ligament or tendon.

”It’s pretty painful,” Bryant said. ”I just tried to play through it.”

The Los Angeles Times reports:

Bryant sustained an avulsion fracture in the index finger of his right hand but kept playing. The Lakers sustained a case of not taking the Timberwolves seriously but also kept playing on Friday, eventually winning their 11th consecutive game, 104-92.

An avulsion fracture occurs when a small fragment of bone is pulled off by a tendon, which apparently happened when Bryant took a slightly off-target entry pass from Jordan Farmar late in the first quarter.

He left briefly and returned for the start of the second quarter . . . sort of. He took one shot, passed the ball only with his left hand, and left near the quarter’s midpoint for X-rays down the hall from the locker room.

This is potentially a real problem. Bryant has already been playing hurt for a long time now, but this may be too much to tolerate. If Bryant has to miss time he should probably do it as immediately as possible and get it over with.

Pacers drop Nets to 2-21

In Indiana, playing in front of what looked like about 375 fans (OK, maybe 7,000-8,000), the Pacers beat the New Jersey Nets 107-91. New Jersey drops to a 2-21 record.

Indiana is playing without injured star Danny Granger.

The Pacers had a nice balanced offense as six players scored double-digits. Rookie Tyler Hansbrough came off the bench for 21 points (though he took 18 shots), seven rebounds and three steals. Starting center Roy Hibbert (8-of-17) had 20 points, nine rebounds and three blocks. Troy Murphy added 15 points, 12 rebounds and two blocks. Mike Dunleavy, still working his way back into condition, had 15 points off the bench. Brandon Rush, back to starting at shooting guard, had 10 points and 8 rebounds, though he committed five turnovers. And point guard T.J. Ford had 10 with 3 steals.

The Nets tossed bricks all night and shot 36.3% and hit just 3-of-13 from three-point range. They did earn 29 free throws, hitting 22. They were led by Brook Lopez (just 8-of-23) who had 25 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks. Devin Harris scored 18 (on 16 shots), Rafer Alston had 17 (on 16 shots) and Courtney Lee scored 14 (on 15 shots).

Starting Nets forwards Chris Douglas-Roberts and Josh Boone combined to shoot 4-of-15.

The Nets were out-rebounded 55-41 and out-assisted 22-12. No Net dished more than three assists.

Ike Diogu out for season

Ike Diogu out for season

The New Orleans Hornets announced today that forward Ike Diogu will undergo season-ending micro-fracture surgery to repair his injured left knee. The procedure will take place Tuesday in New York City by Dr. David Altcheck.

“Obviously I am very disappointed to be having this surgery instead of being able to be out there on the court with my teammates,” said Diogu.  “I am committed to being back 100 percent and am going to do whatever it takes to be back playing basketball.”

Diogu (6-9, 250) holds career averages of 5.8 points and 3.1 rebounds in 187 career games with four teams (Golden State, Indiana, Portland and Sacramento). He did not appear in a game this season for the Hornets.

During the 2008-09 season, he averaged 4.1 points and 1.9 rebounds per game, playing 19 games for Portland and Sacramento. He hit on 52.7 percent (39-of-74) from the field last season. He ended the year on a high note, recording a career-high 32 points, and 11 rebounds 4/13 at Denver prior to a season-finale performance of 28 points and a career-high-tying 13 rebounds at Minnesota on 4/15.

Grizzlies aim to sign Von Wafer

With a 9-12 record, the Memphis Grizzlies are doing a bit better than many expected this season.

The Allen Iverson experiment only lasted three games and ended long ago, but the young team has played well. Led by Rudy Gay, Zach Randolph, O.J. Mayo and Marc Gasol, Memphis has a decent core. But they can certainly keep improving and would be aided by a boost off the bench.

Enter Von Wafer, reportedly.

Ronald Tillery of the Memphis Commercial Appeal reports:

The Grizzlies are attempting to sign former Houston Rockets guard Von Wafer in an effort to improve their perimeter shooting, particularly from beyond the 3-point arc.

Wafer will join the Grizzlies next week if certain dominoes fall as expected, sources told the Commercial Appeal.

Wafer, a 6-5 Florida State alum, first needs to complete a divorce with his current team, Olympiakos, a European club that reportedly has Wafer under contract for $2 million but for whom he hasn’t logged significant playing time.

Wafer played 63 games for the Rockets last season, averaging 9.7 points and 1.8 rebounds in 19.4 minutes per game. His career three-point shooting percentage is 33.7%, but he hit 39% in 2008-09.

Al Thornton diet change

Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Times reports:

Al Thornton changed diet

The 6-foot-8 Thornton hired a personal chef in the off-season and abstained from greasy foods as he dropped from 235 pounds to 230, but felt his quickness came only in spurts. Thornton couldn’t pinpoint when he fully adapted to his diet, but said his energy level recently has been high.

“It took awhile,” said Thornton, who ate chicken breast, pasta and tomatoes after Thursday’s practice. “Once you do it you can tell there’s a major difference to how you feel and how your body feels. It’s an adjustment. But if you want to do well in this game, sometimes you have to make sacrifices.”

Thornton doesn’t want that sacrifice to include a bench role, but Coach Mike Dunleavy strongly hinted that rookie forward Blake Griffin will take Thornton’s place whenever Griffin fully recovers from the stress fracture in his left knee.

The Philadelphia 76ers have played awful basketball. Then they signed free agent Allen Iverson. But they’re still getting rocked by opponents.

Kate Fagan of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports:

Last night, the continuation of the 76ers’ losing streak, or its termination, came down to one moment: the flick of Andre Iguodala’s wrist.

There were 3.9 seconds on the game clock and Iguodala rose for a potential winning three-pointer.

If he made it, the streak could end at 10. If he missed it, the slump would reach 11.

This morning, it stands at 11.

Inside a much quieter Wachovia Center, the Detroit Pistons beat the Sixers, 90-86.

The Pistons - without injured stars Tayshaun Prince, Rip Hamilton, and Ben Gordon - improved to 9-12. Detroit outrebounded the Sixers, 45-32.

The Sixers (5-17) last won on Nov. 18, beating the Charlotte Bobcats. Their winning hiatus has reached 21 days.

The Inquirer continues:

On Monday night in Iverson’s emotional return to the Sixers, 20,664 people packed the Wachovia Center. Last night, that number dropped to 12,136.

Along with the attendance, so too dropped Iverson’s effectiveness. He played 33 minutes, scoring 11 points on 3-for-10 shooting with three assists, six turnovers and no rebounds.

Things are rough in Philly. I watched some of yesterday’s game and did not find any aspect of the 76ers to be threatening as a basketball team. A few wins are bound to pop up but for the most part, unless a player or two suddenly raises the level of their game by several levels, expect the team to mostly keep losing.

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