Archive for March, 2012

Raptors coach Dwane Casey came up with just the thing to slow down the surging New York Knicks: a zone.

DeMar DeRozan scored 30 points before leaving with a sore left ankle, Andrea Bargnani had 21 and the Raptors routed the Knicks 96-79 Friday night, snapping New York’s five-game winning streak.

“The zone knocked us on our heels,” Knicks center Tyson Chandler said. “We had trouble finding ways to score against it and that really was the outcome because we never got a rhythm or momentum.” …

New York shot just 32 for 85 (38 percent) and no Knicks player made more than six field goals…

Gary Forbes scored 19 points, one shy of his career-high, and Jose Calderon had 10 assists as Toronto snapped a three-game skid. Forbes said the Raptors “played with a chip on our shoulder.” …

Amare Stoudemire scored 17 points, Steve Novak had 15 and Carmelo Anthony 12 for the Knicks, who came in having won six of seven against the Raptors, including three straight in Toronto.

Jeremy Lin made a game-winning 3-pointer on New York’s last visit to Toronto, a 90-87 victory on Feb. 14, but was held in check this time, finishing with six points.

– Reported by the Associated Press

russell westbrook

Russell Westbrook scored 45 points, Kevin Durant added 40 points and a season-high 17 rebounds and the Oklahoma City Thunder overcame a career-high 51 points from Minnesota All-Star Kevin Love to beat the Timberwolves 149-140 in double overtime Friday night.

Westbrook set the tone in the second overtime, stealing the ball on Minnesota’s opening possession and racing to the other end for a layup that resulted in a three-point play.

The Thunder never trailed in the period and put it away with nine straight points after Nick Collison blocked Love’s shot that would have tied it at 140.

Love, who beat Durant in the 3-Point Contest on All-Star weekend, made a career-high seven 3s and also pulled down 14 rebounds while becoming the third player to eclipse 50 points this season…

Love, whose previous career-high was 43 points, was 16 of 27 from the field and went 7 for 11 on 3s, hitting his first five attempts. Barea added a season-high 25 points and a career-best 14 assists and Tolliver chipped in a season-high 23 points.

James Harden scored 25 off the bench and Kendrick Perkins contributed a season-high 12 points despite not playing in the fourth quarter or overtime for Oklahoma City.

– Reported by Jeff Latzke of the Associated Press

Indiana Pacers sign Kyrylo Fesenko

The Indiana Pacers announced Friday the signing of 7-1, 280-pound center Kyrylo Fesenko (Kuh-rile-oh Feh-sink-o) to a contract. Per club policy, terms were not disclosed.

Fesenko, who is from Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine, played four seasons in the Ukraine and was drafted in the second round of the 2007 NBA Draft by Philadelphia, then traded to Utah, where he played the last four seasons, including some time with the Utah Flash of the D-League. With the Jazz, he played 132 games with averages of 2.3 points per game and 2.0 rebounds per game.

San Antonio Spurs sign Boris Diaw

The San Antonio Spurs today announced that they signed forward Boris Diaw. Per club policy details of the contract were not released.

The 6-8, 235-pound Diaw started the season with the Charlotte Bobcats before being placed on waivers on March 21. In 37 games with the Bobcats, Diaw averaged 7.4 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.3 assists in 27.5 minutes. He scored in double figures in 11 games, including a season-high 27 points at New York on Jan. 4. Diaw came with two assists of his seventh career triple-double posting 16 points, 16 rebounds and 8 assists vs. Miami on Dec. 28.

An eight-year NBA veteran, Diaw was originally drafted by the Atlanta Hawks with the 21 st overall pick in the 2003 NBA Draft. He was traded to the Phoenix Suns on Aug. 19, 2005. In his first season with the Suns, Diaw won the 2006 Most Improved Player Award, after averaging 13.3 points, 6.9 rebounds and 6.2 assists in 35.5 minutes over 81 games.

For his career, Diaw has appeared in 660 NBA games, averaging 9.6 points, 4.9 rebounds and 4.0 assists in 30.3 minutes while shooting .491 (2,645-5,389) from the field, .329 (293-891) from three-point territory and .708 (780-1,101) from the foul line. He has posted six triple-doubles during his career. Diaw has seen action in 39 playoff games, averaging 13.9 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.4 assists in 34.9 minutes.

Toronto Raptors waive Rasual Butler

The Toronto Raptors announced Friday they have waived forward Rasual Butler.

Butler was signed as a free agent December 10. The 10-year NBA veteran appeared in 34 games, averaging 3.2 points, 1.9 rebounds and 13.3 minutes.

“We want to thank Rasual for bringing professionalism and hard work to our team every day,” said Raptors President and General Manager Bryan Colangelo. “This move allows us the option to look at other wing prospects down the stretch of the season while affording Rasual the opportunity to potentially sign with and help a playoff-bound team.”

The roster now stands at 12 players heading into tonight’s game vs. New York (Sportsnet ONE, TVA Sports, OMNI Television / Sportsnet 590 The FAN).

Mavs assign Kelenna Azubuike to D-League

The Dallas Mavericks announced today that they have assigned guard-forward Kelenna Azubuike to the Texas Legends of the NBA Development League.

Azubuike (6-5, 215) was signed as a free agent by the Mavericks earlier today and did not join the team in San Antonio. He will be available to the Legends when they take on the Reno Bighorns tomorrow night, March 24, at 7:00 pm on HP Court at Dr. Pepper Arena in Frisco,Texas.

The Boston Celtics announced today that they have signed center/forward Ryan Hollins. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.

To make room on the roster for Hollins, the Celtics requested waivers on forward/center Chris Wilcox.

Hollins, a 7′0″ center/forward, appeared in 24 games for the Cavaliers this season averaging 3.7 points and 2.3 rebounds in 15.1 minutes per game. Hollins recorded season-highs in points (15), rebounds (7) and minutes (31) against the Washington Wizards on March 3. In his seven starts for the Cavaliers this season he recorded an average of 5.6 points and 3.7 rebounds. He also shot 60.0% from the floor in those seven contests. The former UCLA Bruin recorded his best statistical season during the 2009-10 season when he was with Minnesota averaging a career-high 6.1 points and 2.8 rebounds. Last season with Cleveland he shot a career-high 59.8% from the floor.

Dallas Mavericks sign Kelenna Azubuike

The Dallas Mavericks announced today they have signed guard-forward Kelenna Azubuike. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Azubuike (6-5, 215) joins the Mavericks as a free agent after spending last season on the New York Knicks roster. Before joining the Knicks, Azubuike spent four seasons with the Golden State Warriors playing in 205 games with 84 starts. He holds career averages of 10.6 points, 4.0 rebounds and 24.4 minutes per game while shooting .459 from the field, .409 from three-point range and .770 from the free throw line. Azubuike had a career-year in 2008-09 when he averaged 14.4 points and 5.0 rebounds in 74 games (51 starts) for the Warriors.

Azubuike played in only nine games to start the 2009-10 season before suffering a torn patella tendon that would sideline him for the remainder of the year. On July 9, 2010, Azubuike was traded to New York, along with Anthony Randolph and Ronny Turiaf and a second round draft pick, in exchange for David Lee. He never logged a game with the Knicks and was waived on Feb. 28,2011.

A standout at the University of Kentucky, Azubuike was originally an early entry candidate into the 2005 NBA Draft and went undrafted. He averaged 14.7 points as a junior led the Wildcats to a Southeastern Conference title and an Elite Eight appearance on his way to being named All-SEC Second Team.

Born in London, England, Azubuike was raised in Tulsa, Okla. He led Victory Christian to the Class 4A State Championship Game as a senior while averaging 39.1 points and 13.3 rebounds per game. He finished his high school career with 3,530 points,just 89 points shy of Oklahoma’s all-time scoring mark.

paul pierce

With a team led by three veteran stars playing the seventh game of a taxing eight-game road trip, it wouldn’t have been shocking to see the Boston Celtics simply run out of gas.

Instead, they had more than enough energy to slow down and disrupt the suddenly streaking Milwaukee Bucks.

Paul Pierce scored 25 points to help Boston to a 100-91 victory over Milwaukee on Thursday night, snapping the Bucks’ six-game winning streak.

“It’s a good win definitely tonight, especially the way Milwaukee’s been playing as of late,” Pierce said. “This is a mentally strong group. We understand it’s been a long trip. This is a group that wants to get the next win and make it a great trip.”

Kevin Garnett had 16 points and 10 rebounds and Mickael Pietrus scored 13 points for the Celtics, who improved to 4-3 on the long road trip.

“These last two wins have been big,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. “We felt like this game, we would have enough rest to play this game. We took two days off and that helped us.”

Brandon Jennings had 19 points for Milwaukee.

– Reported by Chris Jenkins of the Associated Press

Chris Paul’s Clippers lose to Hornets

chris kaman

Chris Kaman scored 20 points and the Hornets rallied for a 97-90 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday night, spoiling Chris Paul’s return to New Orleans.

The Clippers were held to 11 points in the fourth quarter as they shot 4 for 23 from the field. Los Angeles also missed its last 19 3-point attempts.

After trailing throughout the first three quarters, the Hornets went ahead with an 11-2 run at the start of the fourth and led the rest of the way.

Jarrett Jack and Jason Smith each scored 17 as New Orleans snapped a five-game home losing streak and won for only the 12th time in 47 games this season.

Blake Griffin had 21 points for Los Angeles, which has lost three in a row for the first time this season. Paul, who forced a trade from New Orleans before the season after six years as the face of the franchise, added 16 points on 5-for-14 shooting.

– Reported by the Associated Press

The manager for Allen Iverson says the former NBA star will not play for a team in the Dominican Republic.

Gary Moore says Iverson has not signed nor is he considering signing with any team.

Earlier Thursday, Pueblo Nuevo team president Milton Nunez told The Associated Press the 36-year-old guard would play for his team.

Moore says Iverson is “shocked” by Nunez’s announcement.

– Reported by the Associated Press

Lack of 76ers scoring is a problem

It is frustrating to watch, so one can only imagine what it is like to be on the court playing the way the Sixers have for the past 18 games.

They compiled a 6-12 record over that stretch, despite holding opponents to a league-low 87.5 points.

“I would like to see us bring our ‘connectiveness’ and our energy and the things we bring defensively to the offensive end,” Doug Collins said. “Normally, you would see guys being inclined to do it offensively and not do it at the defensive end. My message to them over and over and over again is I cannot ask them to play any harder than they are playing.”

The Sixers do play hard, but a lack of scoring is an issue. The current roster has a core group of seven players that were together a year ago and averaged 99 points a game. This season, Collins’ team is averaging 94 points and since they posted a 20-9 record to open the year, that total has dropped to 91 a night.

– Reported by CSN Philly

allen iverson

Former NBA star Allen Iverson is joining a regional basketball league in the Dominican Republic for a month.

(LATEST UPDATE: Iverson’s manager denied the report.)

Team president Milton Nunez told The Associated Press on Thursday the 36-year-old guard will play for Pueblo Nuevo. He declined to say how much Iverson will be paid.

Iverson is to arrive Sunday and play for his second-place team that same day against GUG in Santiago province, Nunez said.

“He and his agent have told us that he has been training a lot and that even if he hasn’t been playing anywhere, he has what we need to help Pueblo Nuevo,” Nunez said.

– Reported by the Associated Press

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Rudy Fernandez

Denver Nuggets guard Rudy Fernandez will require surgery on his lower back and is expected to miss the remainder of the regular season.

Fernandez, 26, missed 12 games this season due to a lower back strain, and the injury recently flared up against Dallas on March 19, prompting further evaluation and more diagnostic testing. A date for the surgery has yet to be scheduled.

In 31 games for the Nuggets this season (one start), Fernandez averaged 8.6 points, 2.1 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.03 steals in 22.9 minutes. He was acquired by Denver, along with Corey Brewer, from Dallas in exchange for a future second-round pick on Dec. 13, 2011.

Mavericks waive forward Sean Williams

Sean Williams

The Dallas Mavericks announced today that they have requested waivers on forward Sean Williams.

Williams (6-10, 235) played eight games with the Mavericks after signing as a free agent on Dec. 21. In those appearances, he averaged 3.6 points, 1.6 rebounds and 8.1 minutes while shooting .750 (12-16 FGs) from the field and .833 (5-6 FTs) from the free throw line.

Williams also saw considerable time assigned to the Texas Legends of the NBA Development League. He played 24 games with 23 starts for Texas and averaged 14.7 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2.54 blocks and 1.0 assist in 28.5 minutes while shooting .496 (132-266 FGs) from the field and .766 (85-111 FTs) from the free throw line.

The Mavericks roster now stands at 14 players.

The Golden State Warriors have signed free agent center Mickell Gladness to a 10-day contract, the team announced today.

Gladness, 25, made his NBA debut this season as a member of the Miami Heat, appearing in eight games over two different stints with the club.  The 6’11” center made the Heat’s opening night roster and appeared in three games before being waived on February 7.  He subsequently signed the first of two 10-day contracts with the Heat on February 12 and signed the second 10-day contract on February 28.

Prior to joining the Heat for their 2011-12 training camp, Gladness appeared in four games for the Dakota Wizards, the Warriors’ NBA Development League team, averaging 7.8 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.75 blocks in 20.8 minutes per contest.  Overall, he has appeared in 81 D-League games over three seasons, averaging 4.6 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.41 blocks combined with Dakota and Rio Grande Valley.  A product of Alabama A&M, Gladness went undrafted in the 2008 NBA Draft and played one season professionally overseas before joining the D-League for the 2009-10 campaign.

Gladness, who will wear #32, is scheduled to be in uniform for the team’s game tonight at Houston.

monta ellis

This is no passing fancy.

At least the Milwaukee Bucks seriously hope not.

They are sharing the ball at a breathtaking pace during their six-game winning streak, piling up assists and leaving opposing defenses dazed and confused.

Those 35 assists against Portland in a 29-point runaway on Tuesday night?

Just more of the same for a Bucks team with suddenly serious designs on an Eastern Conference playoff berth.

Newcomer Monta Ellis led the way with nine assists and fueled a game-breaking run early in the third quarter to silence the Rose Garden crowd.

“He hasn’t surprised us,” said Bucks coach Scott Skiles. “He goes to the open man, and I think to his credit, he’s also trying to fit in.

“There are going to come moments when we’re going to need him to take the ball and go get baskets. He’s certainly capable of doing that.

“But he’s really making good reads. He’s hitting big guys diving to the goal. He’s hitting bigs on pick-and-pop. He’s spreading the ball around. He’s playing really well.”

– Reported by Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Chicago sportswriter Lacy J. Banks dies

Lacy J. Banks was an unconventional pioneer.

He was a trailblazer as the first African-American sportswriter for the Sun-Times, a job that led him to cover seven world championships involving Chicago teams.

He was a Baptist preacher for nearly 60 years, too, a side of himself he could uniquely intertwine into his career as a journalist.

And beginning in 2008 he became his own journalism subject, chronicling his health battles with prostate cancer, a brain tumor and heart disease in blogs he wrote for the Sun-Times.

He won his first two battles, but the last would conquer him. Banks, 68, died Wednesday.

Banks was the longest-serving sportswriter on the Sun-Times’ staff, joining the paper on Aug. 7,

1972, and remaining on staff until his death. For most of that time, he covered the Bulls and the NBA, ranking among the longest-tenured pro basketball writers in the country. His time on the beat spanned from the mid-1980s to last season, when he covered the Bulls into the NBA postseason.

– Reported by Toni Ginnetti of the Chicago Sun-Times

JJ Hickson

The Portland Trail Blazers have claimed forward J.J. Hickson off waivers, it was announced Wednesday.

“We like J.J.’s energy and physicality,” said Acting General Manager Chad Buchanan. “He’s a young, but experienced player who can help our frontline.”

The Sacramento Kings waived Hickson on March 19.

According to the Associated Press, “Golden State and Phoenix had also been reported to have interest in the 6-foot-9 Hickson, who had been bothered recently by back spasms and had played only six minutes in the past 10 games. Hickson was a first-round pick by Cleveland out of North Carolina State in 2008. For his career, he has averaged 8.5 points and 5.6 rebounds per game.”

In a separate move, the team has waived center Mehmet Okur, acquired in a March 15 trade with New Jersey.

Hickson, 23, averaged 4.7 points, 5.1 rebounds, 0.6 assists and 18.4 minutes in 35 games (nine starts) for the Kings this season.

In four NBA seasons with Cleveland and Sacramento, Hickson (6-9, 242) holds averages of 8.5 points, 5.6 rebounds, 0.6 assists and 20.5 minutes in 258 games (148 starts).

The Trail Blazers roster stands at 15 players.

Ben Gordon

JaVale McGee’s debut with the Denver Nuggets was punctuated by a smashing finish.

And the Nuggets needed it to overcome Ben Gordon’s record-tying night from 3-point range.

McGee soared into the lane to rebound a teammate’s missed free throw and dunk with 5 seconds remaining, and the Nuggets withstood Gordon’s season-high 45 points for a 116-115 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday night.

McGee’s rebound and slam followed a missed foul shot by Arron Afflalo, who was fouled while making a driving layup with 5.6 seconds left. That basket pulled the Nuggets within 115-114 after they had blown a 25-point lead…

Gordon, who tied the NBA record by going 9 for 9 behind the arc, said the loss was especially tough to take after coming all the way back.

“We had our shots, we just had two bad possessions at the end,” Gordon said. “Obviously the Afflalo drive; we fouled him while he was driving to the basket while we were up three. Should have just let him get the two. And the tip dunk by McGee. It came off the rim so fast and he got up there.”

Ty Lawson led the Nuggets with 25 points and Afflalo had 23. McGee finished with 15.

– Reported by the Associated Press

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