Rip Hamilton has reverted to 2004 form since he says he buried the hatchet with Pistons coach John Kuester.
After scoring 23 points in Saturday night’s victory over the Pacers, he is averaging almost 19 points per game to boost his scoring average to 14 points. He is also defending better and turnovers have become rare.
But while his performance has surged, he has been silent — politely refusing interview requests during his consistent streak.
He spoke to the media Saturday night and addressed several topics.
Q: Did your confidence wane?
A: Not at all. Not at all. Not one bit.
Q: Why is that?
A: I know what I bring to the table. I know what I’m capable of doing. I’ve had so many great years here. So many great things. So many special things.
The Suns won’t say they are giving up on the now, but they made changes Sunday that looked just as much about the future.
Suns coach Alvin Gentry inserted center Marcin Gortat and swingman Jared Dudley into the starting lineup, putting Gortat into the spot of Robin Lopez, who had been groomed as a future franchise center, and Dudley in place of guard Vince Carter, who likely won’t be with the Suns next season.
Gortat, 27, has received minutes and produced the numbers as if he were a starter and embraces the idea of a bigger role in the future. Sunday was his first start as a Suns center after receiving one previous start at power forward alongside Lopez.
“There’s a lot of room for me to improve,” said Gortat, who returned after having a broken nose reset Saturday. “I believe that watching our situation right now with the team, it sounds crazy ,but maybe one day I could be the leader of this team and be one of the main leaders of this team and be the guy who’s going to be the big boost in this team.
“I ain’t scared of doing it. I’m pretty confident. I know I’m going to work hard in the summer to improve my game, especially post game with my back to the basket. I’m going to be ready.”
Phil Jackson always keeps his Los Angeles Lakers far more focused on the day-to-day journey than the destination during the regular-season grind, even though the last five weeks of their trek have been awfully smooth.
The New Orleans Hornets? They were reminded they’re heading down a perilous road without David West.
Kobe Bryant scored 30 points, Pau Gasol had 23 points and 16 rebounds, and the Lakers inched closer to the top of the overall NBA standings with their 15th win in 16 games since the All-Star break, 102-84 over New Orleans on Sunday night.
Andrew Bynum added 13 points as the Lakers jumped to an 18-point lead in the first half and weathered the Hornets’ fourth-quarter rally to sweep the four-game season series with a possible first-round playoff opponent…
Carl Landry had a season-high 24 points and 10 rebounds, and Paul had 10 points and nine assists in the Hornets’ second game without West, their injured scoring leader.
With the playoffs looming, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh are finding a new gear.
And they accomplished something Sunday that hadn’t been done in more than 50 years.
Each of them had 30-10 nights—James with 33 points and 10 rebounds, Bosh had 31 points and 12 rebounds, and Wade shook off a bruised tailbone to finish with 30 points and 11 boards—as the Miami Heat beat the Houston Rockets 125-119 for their eighth win in nine games.
It was the first time since February 1961 that three teammates finished with at least 30 points and 10 rebounds in a non-overtime game.
“Unbelievable,” James said.
“That’s why we get paid the big bucks,” Wade said.
The last time a team had three players score 30 in the same game was Feb. 26, 2010, when Houston had Martin, Aaron Brooks and Scola combine for 94 against San Antonio. Before that, you’d have to go back all the way to Nov. 14, 1997, when Portland’s Isaiah Rider, Brian Grant and Arvydas Sabonis all had 30-plus points and 10 or more rebounds in a quadruple-overtime win over Phoenix.
Dwyane Wade and LeBron James tried a different sort of courtside view on Saturday night.
The Miami Heat stars showed up at the Sony Ericsson Open to be part of a coin toss before world No. 1 Rafael Nadal played against Japan’s Kei Nishikori. Wade’s two sons, Zaire—the actual flipper of the coin—and Zion, were there as well, on the court for handshakes from Nadal and a quick photo or two just before the match.
“There’s certain things in Miami that guys should experience,” Wade said. “So I had to drag LeBron out here, but I think this is something he’ll probably come back to next year and come back for years after that. This is a good experience. It’s something different and it’s a great day off, getting over here with the kids.”
Wade’s sons were handed oversized tennis balls as they entered the stadium, and immediately, they started dribbling them like basketballs.
“Anything that bounces, they’re good to go,” Wade said.
The New Orleans Hornets announced today that they have signed forward Patrick Ewing Jr. to a 10-day contract. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Ewing Jr. has played in 49 games this season with the Reno Bighorns and Sioux Falls Skyforce of the NBA Development League, averaging 17.7 points, 9.4 rebounds and 3.3 assists.
Originally drafted 43rd overall by the Sacramento Kings in the 2008 NBA Draft, the 6-8 235 lb. forward was then traded to the Houston Rockets and later the New York Knicks with whom he participated in the 2008 preseason. After being waived by the Knicks, Ewing Jr. was signed by the teams’ D-League affiliate Reno Bighorns, where he spent the 2008-09 campaign and averaged 16.8 points and 8.9 rebounds in 30 games.
Ewing, the son of Hall of Fame center and current Orlando Magic Assistant Coach Patrick Ewing, played collegiately at Indiana University (‘03-‘04 and ‘04-‘05) before sitting out the ’05-’06 season while transferring to his father’s alma mater Georgetown University for his final two years of eligibility. In his senior season, Ewing Jr. was named the Big East Sixth Man of the Year with averages of 6.1 points and 4.2 rebounds per game.
Jimmy Smith of the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports:
West said Friday night he plans to have reconstructive surgery to repair the damage as soon as possible, although he’ll remain with the team through the end of this road trip that concludes Sunday night in Staples Center against the Los Angeles Lakers.
“I wasn’t expecting this, but things like this happen,” said West. “It’s part of the game. I just landed the wrong way. I don’t know. In all honesty, I knew something was wrong because of the amount of pain I was in. I didn’t know the severity, obviously, until this morning. I wasn’t expecting ‘ACL’, but I knew there’d be some sort of damage to the knee.
“It’s just a tough time. The last couple of steps to the season … it’s not the time … you just can’t plan on thing like this to happen.”
West said there has been limited swelling in the knee, which will lessen the waiting time necessary for doctors to perform the surgery.
He has not yet decided, he said, which orthopedist will do the procedure, either Hornets team physicians or someone such as noted surgeon Dr. James Andrews.
Here, then, Ohio State fans is your silver lining: Jared Sullinger says he is coming back.
Sitting in the Ohio State locker room following the top-seeded Buckeyes’ 62-60 loss to Kentucky, the freshman said he would not be entering his name for the NBA draft and would return for his sophomore season.
“I’m going to be an Ohio State Buckeye next year,” he said. “This isn’t why I came here, to come in here and see my seniors in here crying. I came here to win a national championship.”
Plenty of people make pledges in the rubble of an emotional loss only to change their mind later, when the sting and suddenness of the season fades and the promise of the NBA looms.
Less than average. Bottom of the heap. Going nowhere.
This is where the directionless Jazz are at 73 games through the 2010-11 season, having fallen below .500 for the first time since Nov. 5 after a heartbreaking overtime home loss to New Orleans on Thursday.
Utah has dropped four consecutive contests, six of eight, and has only beaten one team with a wining record since Jerry Sloan resigned Feb. 10. All while the Jazz (35-36) have refused to concede a frustrating, disappointing year during which initial high expectations have slowly given way to a halfhearted rebuilding process that is officially on pause until Utah is mathematically eliminated from the playoffs.
The Jazz haven’t been this low at this point during a season since the 2005-06 campaign, when the team finished 41-41. That was Deron Williams’ first year in the NBA, and it was the last time Utah failed to make the playoffs.
Now, even when the Jazz play well — as they recently did against New Orleans and Houston — the team has been unable to close out games and secure wins, lacking a killer instinct and often being at least one premier athlete removed from being the best squad on a given night.
Memphis Grizzlies forward Rudy Gay underwent season-ending surgery today to repair a left shoulder subluxation, Grizzlies General Manager and Vice President of Basketball Operations Chris Wallace announced today. The surgery was performed by Dr. James Andrews in Pensacola, Fla.
Gay, who originally suffered the injury on Feb. 15 vs. Philadelphia, will begin his post-operative rehabilitation and is expected to be ready for the start of the 2011-12 season.
Memphis has recorded a 9-6 record (.600) in Gay’s absence, with 10 of those games coming against current playoff teams.
The 6-8, 240-pound forward averaged 19.8 points and 6.2 rebounds in his fifth NBA season while posting career highs in assists (2.8), steals (1.69), blocks (1.07), field goal percentage (.471), three-point field goal percentage (.396), free throw percentage (.805) and minutes (39.9).
The 24-year-old holds career averages of 17.8 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.9 assists on .457 shooting in 36.0 minutes in 372 games, all with the Grizzlies.
An MRI revealed today that Hornets forward David West has a torn ACL in his left knee. He is out for the season and the timetable for his return will be announced at a later date.
The injury occured with 22.5 seconds left in the 4th quarter of last night’s OT win in Utah. He did not return to the game.
“Obviously we are very saddened by this news,” Hornets General Manager Dell Demps said. “David is the ultimate warrior and competitor, but an even better person and we know that he will bounce back in time.”
West has appeared in 70 games this season, averaging a team-high 18.9 points and 7.6 rebounds.
The San Antonio Spurs today announced that they have signed forward Da’Sean Butler. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Butler, a 6-7, 230-pound forward out of the University of West Virginia, will be placed on the inactive list while continuing to rehab from a torn left ACL which he suffered in the 2010 Final Four against Duke on April 3.
Butler was originally selected by the Miami Heat with the 42nd pick in the 2010 NBA Draft. He signed with the Heat on August 30, but was later waived on October 25.
Butler played four seasons with the Mountaineers finishing his career with 107 career wins, the most in school history. As a senior he was named First Team All-Big East, averaging a team-high 17.2 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.1 assists in 38 games.
As a junior Butler was named Second Team All-Big East, averaging a team-best 17.1 points, 5.9 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.29 steals in 35 games. During his sophomore season, Butler started all 37 games, averaging 12.9 points, 6.2 rebounds and 1.7 assists while shooting a career-best .495 (186-376) from the field. Butler was selected to the Big East All-Rookie Team as a freshman, averaging 10.1 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.28 steals in 36 games.
For his career Butler started in 110 of 146 games for the Mountaineers, averaging 14.4 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.06 steals while shooting .448 (741-1,654) from the field, .353 (205-581) from three-point range and .732 (408-557) from the foul line. He scored 2,095 points during his career, ranking third in school history behind Jerry West and Hot Rod Hundley. Butler also ranks among school leaders in career double-figure scoring games (1st, 108), field goals (3rd, 741), three-pointers (4th, 205), free throws (5th, 408), rebounds (11th, 800) and steals (12th, 154).
Dirk Nowitzki had 30 points and 11 rebounds, Jason Terry added 18 points and the Mavericks rallied in the fourth quarter for a 104-96 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Thursday night, giving Dallas 50 wins for the 11th straight season.
Shawn Marion added 17 points and Peja Stojakovic had 16 to help the Mavericks win for the third time in four games.
Anthony Randolph had a career-high 31 points with 11 rebounds for the Timberwolves, who’ve lost their last five games and are without injured All-Star forward Kevin Love.
Philadelphia 76ers forward Craig Brackins was reassigned to the Springfield Armor, the 76ers’ NBA Development League affiliate, it was announced today. The assignment marks the 49th time in the 2010-11 season an NBA player has been assigned to an NBA D-League affiliate, and it is the third and final assignment this season for Brackins, a rookie out of Iowa State.
Brackins (6-10, 230) was assigned on Nov. 30 and Jan. 15. He appeared in 14 games (nine starts) with the Armor, averaging 19.9 points and 9.1 rebounds in 37.2 minutes. Brackins has appeared in three games this season for Philadelphia, averaging 2.7 points in 11.0 minutes.
An early entry candidate for the 2010 NBA Draft, Brackins was selected by the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round (21st overall) as part of a draft-day swap with the New Orleans Hornets, who then traded Brackins to Philadelphia in September. In three seasons at Iowa State, Brackins averaged 16.0 points and 7.7 rebounds in 95 games, and was an AP All-America Honorable Mention selection in 2009.
Brackins is expected to join Springfield for its home game against New Mexico on Saturday.
I’ve been visiting Los Angeles since NBA All-Star weekend in mid February and have enjoyed wild, fun adventures during my extended time in Hollywood. And just when I thought this week, which already featured three straight days of Playboy parties, including two at the Playboy Mansion, couldn’t get any more interesting, I stumbled into getting cast as a panda bear in the new Ron Artest rap video for his song “Go Loco.”
Relaxing in a trendy hotel lounge in Hollywood Tuesday evening, I ran into famous rapper Fat Joe and his manager Macho, both of whom are long-time pals of mine from New York City. (Be sure to check out the great EBC Rucker Park streetball documentary “The Blackout,” featuring Fat Joe, Jay-Z and plenty of quotes from yours truly.)
Joe, it turned out, was there to film a rap video. I was quickly invited to attend the taping, and headed downstairs to the video set, where I found out the video not for Joe, but for a Ron Artest song called “Go Loco.” Celebs on set for the shoot included Fat Joe, B-Real of Cypress Hill, actor and basketball fan David Arquette, and TV host George Lopez. Artest and fellow Los Angeles Laker Matt Barnes came later in the evening, a bit late after edging the Phoenix Suns in an intense triple-overtime thriller.
Also on hand for the Artest video shoot were several “little people” (the video features an area identified by a sign as a “Midget Bar”), a few other interesting characters, and a large heap of very pretty girls good at shaking all sorts of body parts in a wide variety of directions.
Most of the Go Loco filming that I saw focused on Artest and others relaxing in a nightclub setting, bouncing to the song’s beats. I mostly stayed in the back with friends of the rappers by the bar area, a few of whom were regular InsideHoops.com readers, which is always cool to hear.
As hours went by, most of the video was successfully filmed, and most celebs and friends called it a night, leaving me and a fairly small handful of people hanging around to watch until the very end. “Final set,” yelled one assistant.
A producer then came to me and asked how I’d feel about wearing a panda bear costume. I assumed he was kidding and that it was his way of telling me to move or get out. But he was serious; it was in the script. Very few guys were left in the room at the time, and the wearer of the costume had to be tall, so there were actually very few candidates. I stand 6-3 and could handle it.
Faced with a choice, I could call it a night and leave with no involvement in the video, or rock a panda bear costume.
How could I pass on such a prestigious opportunity? I said yes.
I’ll leave it to you to check out how the video turned out, but I will describe my scene: A flock of hot girls, a giant chicken and a panda bear (me, the editor of InsideHoops.com) are entering a nightclub. I’m in the middle, surrounded by the girls, with one holding my hand and leading me into the club. The giant chicken is in the back.
Don’t ask. I have no idea. All I know is, it was completely unexpected fun, and I can’t wait to see how amusing the video turns out.