Archive for February 9th, 2011

John Rohde of The Oklahoman reports:

Thunder help Durant, Ibaka prepare for All-Star events

Thunder players stayed on the court an extra 30 minutes after Wednesday’s practice and set up a trial run for Kevin Durant, who will compete in the 3-point contest during All-Star Weekend.

Durant had 16 points in his first go-round after a slow start. Daequan Cook, the league’s 2009 3-point contest winner, was off the mark and got booed by teammates. All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook, who went 4 for 4 on 3-pointers at Utah last Saturday night, had 23 points before running out of time with two balls still left in the final rack and received a standing ovation. Westbrook is an All-Star reserve and potentially could participate in the Skills Challenge.

Teammates then helped forward Serge Ibaka prepare for the dunk contest, the details of which Thunder players have asked to remain privileged.

“Thunder U is in full force today,” Brooks said, shaking his head as dozen players continued with their post-practice recess.

The AP reports:

Ricky Rubio shooting bricks overseas

The numbers don’t lie—Ricky Rubio is struggling with his shot.

The Spaniard is shooting just 20 percent from beyond the 3-point line in the Euroleague this season, a stat that has concerned fans of the Minnesota Timberwolves, the team that used a first-round draft pick in 2009 to claim him.

As for Rubio himself, he’s not sweating it.

“Sometimes it goes in, sometimes it doesn’t,” Rubio told The Associated Press after a recent 80-56 win over Roma Lottomatica. “I’m not worried. You have to keep shooting and believing in yourself.”

Rubio is averaging only about six points per game, but he is also doing what he does best—finding passing angles few others see and creating offense.

By Jeff Lenchiner

There will be no H-O-R-S-E shooting competition at 2011 NBA All-Star weekend.

TNT, who organized the event — an unofficial addition to the weekend’s festivities — confirmed to that they are not bringing it back this year.

H-O-R-S-E got it’s All-Star weekend start in 2009. Kevin Durant won it both years it existed. The event will be missed, but only a little. The problem is, if the players aren’t hitting their shots (or they’re never missing) then H-O-R-S-E can drag on, and on, and on. Sort of like Chris Andersen in the slam dunk contest when his throw-downs aren’t being thrown down.

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

Teen pop superstar Justin Bieber is loved worldwide. If you listen to the buzz, he invented water. He made gravity. He’s done other stuff too.

Justin Bieber also loves playing basketball. He’ll be in the NBA Celebrity game at 2011 All-Star weekend.

Here’s a video of him flaunting some skills on the court:

Fan discussion of Justin Bieber playing basketball is in this forum topic.

Mehmet Okur out at least 3 weeks with back injury

The following is a medical update on Utah Jazz center Mehmet Okur, who has missed the last six Jazz games after suffering a strained lower back during the Jazz’s win over Minnesota on January 28:

Okur was seen by back specialist, Dr. Graham Hill, in Salt Lake City on Monday.  Following his examination, which confirmed inflammation of his chronic disc problem, Dr. Hill has decided to place Okur on a back rehabilitation process, consisting of low back rehab and cardiovascular exercise, which will be directed by Jazz team physical therapist, Marlin “Moe” Forsyth.

An update on Okur’s progress will be provided following his re-evaluation in three weeks.  No additional updates will be given prior to that point.  Okur will not travel with the team during this span.

Now in his ninth NBA season, Okur (6-11, 265, Yalova, Turkey), who missed the first 26 games of the 2010-11 campaign while recovering from an unrelated Achilles’ tendon injury, has appeared in 13 games (no starts) this season, averaging 4.9 points and 2.3 rebounds in 12.9 minutes per game.  The 2007 NBA All-Star holds career averages of 13.7 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1.7 assists and had played in over 92 percent of all possible regular season games, including at least 71 games per year, over his first eight seasons (94 percent since joining the Jazz in 2004-05).  Okur has appeared in all 82 games for the Jazz twice, including a streak of 233 straight games played spanning from 2004-2007.

At the start of the season, many in the basketball world figured that with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade playing on the same team, neither one would have a real shot at winning the 2010-11 NBA MVP award because their stats would be lowered. Chris Bosh being on the Heat as well factors into it as well, of course.

Yet now, in early February, LeBron is steadily emerging as the league favorite to capture the award again.

Chris Perkins of Fox Sports Florida reports:

Miami (38-14) is winning. That’s the biggest requirement for the MVP. The Heat is only a half-game behind Boston (38-13), which is almost the unanimous pick to win the Eastern Conference.

And James is producing. He’s averaging 26.4 points per game (second in the NBA), 7.3 rebounds and 7.3 assists. For his career he averages 27.7 points, 7.1 rebounds and 7.0 assists. So there’s been no big statistical sacrifice by joining Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh to form Miami’s Big Three.

Plus, James has already won the Eastern Conference Player of the Month Award twice (actually, he shared it with Wade in January), and he has the NBA’s highest-scoring game of the season with his 51-point outburst at Orlando. James has made the Heat better and he’s made his teammates better.

The other MVP candidates? Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant, the league’s leading scorer at 29 ppg, is probably the favorite. Durant also averages 7.1 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game.

If I had to vote today, I’d go with LeBron for sure, especially the way he’s on fire over his last 10 games.

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