Archive for April 20th, 2011

The AP reports:

Ginobili returns, Spurs beat Grizzlies 93-87 in Game 2

Manu Ginobili scored 17 points in the All-Star’s return after missing Game 1 with an elbow sprain, and the San Antonio Spurs beat the Memphis Grizzlies 93-87 on Wednesday night to even the first-round series.

Ginobili wore a thick sleeve to protect his right elbow but played as physically reckless as usual. He stayed questionable until just before tipoff, yet even with Ginobili, the top-seeded Spurs didn’t have it easy.

Sam Young led Memphis with 17 points. The Grizzlies opened the series with a stunner for their first franchise playoff win, and 2-0 lead seemed possible in the final seconds.

Young’s 3-pointer with 14.9 seconds left made it 89-87 before George Hill sealed the win at the free throw line…

Tim Duncan had 16 points and 10 rebounds for the Spurs, and Hill and Richard Jefferson added 16 apiece…

Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol, who combined for 49 points in the opener, were far less dominant in Game 2. Randolph scored 11 points on 5-of-14 shooting and Gasol had 12 points, making just 2 of 9. Gasol had 17 rebounds.

The AP reports:

kevin durant

Kevin Durant scored 23 points, Russell Westbrook added 21 and the Oklahoma City Thunder built a huge first-half lead on their way to a 106-89 victory over the Denver Nuggets in Game 2 on Wednesday night…

The Thunder relied heavily on their All-Star duo in Game 1, getting a combined 72 points from Durant and Westbrook. But they got contributions from everyone to build a 26-point lead early in the second quarter of a dominant victory.

Ty Lawson scored 20 points to lead Denver, which got as close as 10 in the fourth quarter before Oklahoma City put the game away.

Nene and Raymond Felton added 16 points apiece for the Nuggets…

Oklahoma City got a balanced performance, with James Harden providing 18 points and Serge Ibaka adding 12 points and 12 rebounds. Kendrick Perkins had 11 rebounds as the Thunder piled up a 41-19 edge on the boards by late in the third quarter.

The Sports Network reports:

James Harden scored 14 of his 18 points in a first half controlled by the Thunder, who went up by as many as 26 points early in the second quarter and led by double digits the rest of the way.

Ty Lawson scored 20 points, while Nene and Raymond Felton both had 16 for the Nuggets, who shot just 39 percent from the field and head back to Denver for Saturday’s Game 3 trailing the series, 2-0.

Fan discussion of this game took place as it happened in this forum topic.

Grizzlies sign Zach Randolph to contract extension

The Memphis Grizzlies signed franchise cornerstone Zach Randolph to a multi-year contract extension, Grizzlies General Manager and Vice President of Basketball Operations Chris Wallace announced today.  Per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“During a week that has seen the Grizzlies franchise take a significant step forward with its first-ever postseason victory, it is incredibly meaningful for this organization to be able to take another by ensuring that Zach Randolph will continue to play on Beale Street for many years to come,” said Chris Wallace, Grizzlies General Manager and Vice President of Basketball Operations.  “Zach has been a pillar for this team on the floor and in the community from the moment he arrived two seasons ago, and his leadership has helped to solidify our talented young core, putting the Grizzlies in position for continued success moving forward.”

The 6-9, 255-pound forward posted 20.1 points (19th in the NBA), a career-high and franchise-record 12.2 rebounds (3rd) and 2.2 assists on .503 shooting in 36.3 minutes in 75 games in his second season in the Bluff City.  Randolph led Memphis to the club’s first postseason victory Sunday with 25 points and 14 rebounds against the No. 1-seeded San Antonio Spurs.

One of the league’s most dominant post scorers and rebounders, Randolph wrapped up his third consecutive season with at least 20 points and 10 rebounds per game (no other NBA player has done it in each of the last two seasons) and his fifth-straight season averaging a double-double (only Dwight Howard, at seven-straight, has a longer active streak).

Overall, Randolph has averaged 20.4 points, 11.9 rebounds and 2.0 assists on .495 shooting in 37.0 minutes in 156 games since being acquired by the Grizzlies from the Los Angeles Clippers in exchange for Quentin Richardson on July 17, 2009, setting over 20 franchise records along the way.

Helping to change the pro basketball culture in the city of Memphis, Randolph has guided the Grizzlies to an 86-78 record (.524) over the past two seasons after the team finished an NBA-low 68-178 (.276) the previous three seasons.  Over that span, Randolph has totaled 656 offensive rebounds (over 60 more than any other player), while Memphis has averaged 51.4 points in the paint (five points higher than any other team).

The most decorated player in franchise history, the 29-year-old recently won his third Western Conference Player of the Week Award of the season for games played from March 28-April 3.  His first two weekly honors (Jan. 3-9, Jan. 24-30) culminated in the Western Conference Player of the Month Award for January 2011, a first for the Grizzlies franchise.  All of those honors have been career firsts.

But Randolph’s outstanding efforts have extended well beyond the court.  In recognition of his ongoing philanthropic and charitable work in the Memphis community, Randolph received the NBA Cares Community Assist Award for December 2010.  Randolph partnered with a variety of organizations, including St. Jude Children’s Hospital, Boys & Girls Club of Greater Memphis and MIFA’s Holiday Hope Chest, to provide gifts and brighten the holidays for children and families in need.  In addition, for the second consecutive year, he paid the utility bills for 100 Memphis families in need during the holiday season.

In his first season with the Grizzlies, Randolph averaged 20.8 points, 11.7 rebounds and 1.8 assists on .488 shooting in 37.7 minutes, making his first career All-Star appearance at the 2010 NBA All-Star Game in front of 100 thousand fans at Cowboys Stadium in Dallas, Texas.  Memphis improved its win total by 16 games last season, the second-highest increase in the league.

The 10-year veteran owns career marks of 17.6 points, 9.2 rebounds and 1.7 assists on .474 shooting in 31.7 minutes in 662 games (534 starts) with the Portland Trail Blazers, New York Knicks, Los Angeles Clippers and Memphis Grizzlies.

The Marion, Ind. native was selected in the first round (19th overall) in the 2001 NBA Draft by the Portland Trail Blazers after helping Michigan State to the 2001 NCAA Final Four as a freshman.  He won the 2003-04 Most Improved Player Award after averaging 20.1 points, 10.5 rebounds and 2.0 assists as a member of the Trail Blazers.

The AP reports:

grant hill

Grant Hill has been elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame’s board of governors, the first active player to earn a position.

The Phoenix Suns’ forward was elected to a three-year term, the Hall of Fame announced Tuesday. Hill will serve as one of 22 members of the board, chaired by Jerry Colangelo.

DeJuan Blair changes diet, drops weight

Mike Monroe of the San Antonio Express-News reports (via blog):

DeJuan Blair changes diet, drops weight

A self-professed fast-food junkie, Blair arrived in San Antonio from Pittsburgh and quickly discovered the joys of Whataburger.

Now he sounds like a man in a 12-step program.

“I’m not eating anything and I’ve changed from eating everything,” he said.

His dietary regimen is not a fast. It just feels that way.

“I just eat a lot of salads; eat a lot of little portions of a lot of things,” he said. “Portions, keep your metabolism up and drink a lot of water and you’ll be great.

“But no juice, no Whataburger with Strawberry Fanta.”

So far, he said, he has lost between 15 and 20 pounds in a little more than two weeks. Maintaining dietary discipline is easy, he said, because the stakes are so high.

Celts up 2-0 vs Knicks but have issues

The Boston Celtics lead the New York Knicks 2-0 in their first round playoff series, but both teams have been incredibly close, and had the ball bounced differently for just a few plays per game, the Knicks would be the ones with the lead right now.

John Schuhmann of reports:

In Game 1, when Amar’e Stoudemire went off for 12 fourth-quarter points, the Celtics had to aggressively deny him the ball, sacrificing their ability to help on the ballhandler. In Game 2, with Anthony in the midst of scoring 26 second-half points, they blitzed him with a second defender on every possession, allowing Anthony’s teammates to make runs at the rim and grab countless offensive rebounds.

Neither strategy is sustainable for more than a quarter, let alone a seven-game series. Whether Stoudemire is 100 percent for Game 3 or not, the Celtics need to find a better way to slow down the Knicks’ stars.

The Celtics’ also need to get more production out of their bench, which has been dreadful. Boston led by 10 points near the end of the first quarter on Tuesday, but with the bench playing, the Celtics allowed Anthony to lead the Knicks on a 13-1 run. Poor bench play was largely responsible for the Celtics’ late-season funk, and poor bench play has kept the Knicks in Games 1 and 2.

As the series moves to New York, the Celtics can be happy about two things, other than the two wins. The first is their offensive execution down the stretch. In each game, they scored on four of their final five possessions, including four buckets that either tied the score or gave them a lead.

The second is Rajon Rondo’s aggressiveness in Game 2. With the Knicks failing to get back in transition and playing him soft in the Celtics’ half-court offense, Rondo attacked the basket and finished strong at the rim. He scored a season-high (and playoff career-high) 30 points, playing with a confidence that has seemingly been missing for the last two months.

Game 3 is in Madison Square Garden Friday. For a good time, blast your television, because the crowd energy is going to be insane.

Oklahoma City Thunder Executive Vice President and General Manager Sam Presti announced today that the team has recalled guard/forward Robert Vaden from the Tulsa 66ers of the NBA Development League.

Vaden, who helped lead the 66ers to the D-League semifinals, averaged 16.8 points, 4.3 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 32.3 minutes in four postseason games for the 66ers. During the regular season, he averaged 10.4 points, 2.4 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 28.0 minutes in 45 games (17 starts).

He will join the Thunder for tonight’s first round playoff game against the Denver Nuggets. Game two will be played tonight at 7 P.M. inside the Oklahoma City Arena.

Kentucky junior DeAndre Liggins and freshmen Terrence Jones and Brandon Knight have declared for this year’s NBA Draft. None of the three have signed or announced plans to sign with an agent.

Liggins, a 6-foot-6 guard from Chicago, served as the Wildcats’ defensive stopper this season, consistently drawing the assignment of guarding the opposing team’s top offensive threat. He averaged 8.6 points and 4.0 rebounds while shooting 39.1 percent from 3-point range.

He was named to the Lefty Driesell Defensive All-America Team and was also named the Southeastern Conference Defensive Player of the Year by Yahoo! Sports, as well as being named to the SEC All­-Defensive Team by the league’s coaches.

“I’m excited about the opportunity to enter my name into the draft, putting me one step closer to realizing my dream,” Liggins said. “Growing up in a tough environment in Chicago, it’s a pleasure to have an opportunity to do something special. This is another challenge I’m looking forward to, to have my game evaluated by pro scouts and see how I rank against some of the top players in the world.”

Jones, a 6-8 forward from Portland, Ore., was named a fourth team All-American by and a Freshman All-American by several outlets. He averaged 15.7 points, 8.8 rebounds and 1.9 blocks. Jones led the league in double-doubles (13) and rebounding, ranked sixth in blocks and seventh in scoring.

He was named the SEC Freshman of the Year by league coaches and SEC Newcomer of the Year by the Associated Press.

“Coach Cal and the rest of the staff pushed us all year long and helped us develop every part of our game to help prepare us for this point in our lives,” Jones said. “This will be a great chance for me to measure my skills against some of the best in the country and receive additional information on where I fit into this year’s draft.”

Knight, a 6-3 guard from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., led the team and ranked fourth in the league in scoring, averaging 17.3 points per game. His 4.2 assist average was second in the SEC. He set the UK freshman scoring record, scoring 657 points, and also broke the UK freshman 3-point record with 87 3s.

– UK Athletics Sports

It seems like the Sacramento Kings may eventually make the move to Anaheim, but there are plenty of signs that nothing is set in stone and it is at least somewhat possible the team stays where they are now.

Marcos Breton of the Sacramento Bee reports:

The United Auburn Indian Tribe has pledged $1 million to help keep the Kings in Sacramento, the tribe confirmed on Tuesday.

The investment is part of the $7 million that Mayor Kevin Johnson is raising from businesses in the Sacramento region as he attempts to demonstrate that the area can support an NBA franchise. The Kings are contemplating a move to Anaheim.

It’s still most likely that the team does wind up moving.

Bob Finnan of the News Herald reports:

The good news is the Cavaliers’ 3.93 average television rating was the seventh-best in the NBA.

The bad news? The Sports Business Journal reported the Cavs experienced a 54-percent drop on Fox Sports Ohio, the biggest yearly ratings decrease in at least seven years. The Cavs were the local ratings leader in 2009-10 in the NBA.

The Cavs’ huge drop can be traced to their 19-63 record and the loss of two-time MVP LeBron James in free agency.

A Cavs spokesman looked at the positive aspect of the story.

“We feel great that our ratings are clearly in the top tier of the league,” he said.

The Boston Celtics gained versatility but lost toughness in their trade of center Kendrick Perkins to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Pieces they received in return — center Nenad Krstic and small forward Jeff Green — have not helped as much as a healthy Perkins did in the past. But Celtics general manager Danny Ainge still feels good about the trade. Publicly, at least.

CSNNE reports:

Danny Ainge defends trade of Kendrick Perkins

Danny Ainge tells Comcast SportsNet New England’s Greg Dickerson that he has no second thoughts — at the moment — about the trade that sent Kendrick Perkins to Oklahoma City.

But ask him again in a few months, and he might have a different answer.

“I would do the trade over again in a heartbeat, as of today,” said Ainge. “But at the end of the season, I’ll look at all the things and I’ll be the first one to say . . . some things that we could have done or that we didn’t, or things that we did do that we shouldn’t [have].”

The Celtics are definitely missing something without a dominant defensive center manning the middle. But, we must remember, the team feared losing Perkins to free agency, and that’s why the trade happened in the first place.

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

The AP reports:

carmelo anthony

Amare Stoudemire didn’t play in the second half and Chauncey Billups didn’t play at all, and still the Boston Celtics needed more late heroics from one of their Big 3 to beat the New York Knicks in Game 2 of their first-round series.

“We were lucky to win,” coach Doc Rivers said after Boston overcame Carmelo Anthony’s 42 points in a 96-93 victory on Tuesday night.

Kevin Garnett sank the go-ahead basket with 14 seconds left then stole the ball with 4 seconds remaining as the Knicks gave the Celtics all they could handle in falling into an 0-2 hole in the series…

Billups had a strained left knee and his status for Game 3 on Friday night at Madison Square Garden is uncertain. Stoudemire had back spasms but expects to be back when the best-of-seven series resumes.

Rajon Rondo led the Celtics with a career playoff-high 30 points, 14 of them in the first quarter when he kept driving to the basket…

Anthony matched his career playoff high for points and set a new high with 17 rebounds as the Knicks held a 53-37 advantage on the boards. Toney Douglas had 14 points in place of Billups.

Paul Pierce had 20 points after missing his first five shots, and Ray Allen, who hit the game-winning 3-pointer in Boston’s 87-85 win in the opener, scored 18.

The AP reports:

dwight howard

Dwight Howard had 33 points and 19 rebounds, Jameer Nelson added 13 points and eight rebounds to help the Magic hold off the Hawks 88-82.

The Magic evened the best-of-seven series, with Game 3 Friday night in Atlanta.

Orlando used a 10-1 run to close the third quarter to take an 11-point lead into the fourth and fought off a late Atlanta charge down the stretch. The Magic struggled from the field shooting just 34 percent and had 16 turnovers. But they defended well…

Jamal Crawford led Atlanta with 25 points and Josh Smith added 17, but they missed 15 shots between them and expended a lot more energy to get off attempts…

Orlando led 48-42 at halftime. The Hawks led by as many as 10 in the second quarter, 32-22, before a 12-2 run by the Magic tied it at 34-all. Howard had 10 points during the spurt, which included the Magic doing their best job of the series converting defensive stops into quick offense.

The AP reports:

Dirk scores 33, Mavs beat Blazers 101-89 in Game 2

Peja Stojakovic tied his career playoff best with five 3-pointers and had 21 points, and Jason Kidd continued his surprising scoring surge with 18 points, powering the Mavericks to a 101-89 victory on Tuesday night in Game 2 of their first-round series.

Dirk Nowitzki led Dallas with 33 points, but was practically a complementary player. He was at his best after the 30-something, former All-Stars built the lead, scoring 14 points in the fourth quarter—including the team’s final 11— to help the Mavericks keep the Trail Blazers from ever making a serious push. He scored 18 in the fourth quarter of Game 1…

Portland had a lot of things go right, from LaMarcus Aldridge scoring 24 to Gerald Wallace and Wesley Matthews regaining their scoring touch after struggling in the opener. But the Trail Blazers got only 11 points from their bench, none in the second half. And while they were limiting Nowitzki to 5 of 15 shooting through three quarters, former All-Stars Kidd and Stojakovic were lighting them up…

Wallace and Andre Miller each scored 18 points for Portland. Matthews added 13. But Nicolas Batum’s 10 points and a free throw by Rudy Fernandez were all the points by reserves. Brandon Roy played 8 minutes and missed the only shot he took. The five backups who got into the game were a combined 4 for 11.

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