Archive for March 26th, 2012

Pacers beat Heat by 15

Danny Granger scored 25 points to help the Indiana Pacers beat the Miami Heat 105-90 on Monday night.

Darren Collison added 20 points, and Paul George had 16 points and 10 rebounds for the Pacers, who have won four of five and finally got the signature win they have sought since the All-Star break.

LeBron James had 24 points and nine rebounds, and Dwyane Wade had 24 points and six assists for Miami.

The Heat, coming off a 103-87 loss at Oklahoma City on Sunday night, lost by double digits in back-to-back games for the first time this season. Miami (35-13) lost for the fourth time in eight games overall and is running out of time to catch Chicago (40-10) for the best record in the Eastern Conference.

– Reported by the Associated Press

Austin Rivers will enter 2012 NBA Draft

Duke freshman guard Austin Rivers will enter the 2012 NBA Draft with plans to hire an agent, head coach Mike Krzyzewski announced on Monday. Rivers, the 2012 ACC Rookie of the Year, joins Corey Maggette (1999), Luol Deng (2004) and Kyrie Irving (2011) as Blue Devil freshmen to enter the NBA Draft after just one year of college basketball. The three previous freshmen early entrees were each selected among the first 13 players in their respective drafts, including Irving, who was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft.

“Austin [Rivers] had a terrific year as a freshman and has put himself in a position to pursue his dream of being a great player in the NBA,” said Krzyzewski. “He is an outstanding young man with an even more impressive family. We are in total support of Austin, his family and his decision. We look forward to watching him continue to develop and excel at the next level.”

Rivers averaged a team-high 15.5 points per game to join Johnny Dawkins (1983) and Bill Sapp (1945) as the only players to lead the Blue Devils in scoring as freshmen. The Winter Park, Fla., native scored in double-figures 30 times, with eight games with 20 or more points scored. He also averaged 3.4 rebounds, while finishing second on the team in assists (71) and steals (33) and third in three-point field goals (58).

In the Duke freshman record books, Rivers ranks among the all-time leaders in points (3rd - 527), points per game (3rd - 15.5), field goals (6th - 174), three-point field goals (5th - 58), free throws (1st - 121), free throw attempts (1st - 184), games started (t-6th - 33), minutes played (7th - 1,129), double-figure scoring games (t-3rd - 30) and 20-point games (t-5th - eight).

Rivers earned NABC third team All-America honors to become the first freshman in Duke history and the 24th player overall (38 honors) under Coach K to earn All-America accolades. He also became just the seventh freshman in ACC history to collect first team all-conference recognition.

“I would like to thank the coaches, my teammates and the fans for helping make this past year at Duke so special,” said Rivers. “Coach K and the rest of the staff really helped me develop and improve in all areas of the game. It was a difficult decision to leave Duke, but I am excited about chasing my dream of playing in the NBA.”

He had his best scoring performances of the year on the biggest stage on Feb. 8 at North Carolina. Rivers posted a season-high 29 points and nailed a three-point field goal at the buzzer to give the Blue Devils an 85-84 win over the fifth-ranked Tar Heels. He went 9-of-16 from the field, including 6-of-10 from three-point range, and added five rebounds in the victory.

Rivers reached double-figures in each of the final 17 games of the season averaging a team-best 17.2 points and 4.2 rebounds per game in that span.

“Duke has prepared me for the challenges that are ahead both on and off the court,” added Rivers. “I have learned so much from the coaching staff and my teammates that will help me succeed at the next level.”

Amar'e Stoudemire

Amar’e Stoudemire has a bulging disk in his back and is out indefinitely, a damaging blow to the New York Knicks with a month left in the regular season.

The Knicks weren’t competitive in the playoffs last year when Stoudemire developed a back problem, and any hopes of even qualifying for the postseason are in jeopardy now that he has another one.

“You don’t wish it on any player, especially Amare, who’s a big part of what we do,” Knicks interim coach Mike Woodson said Monday before the Knicks played the Milwaukee Bucks. “All we can is just hope that it’s not as serious as it may be and that he has a speedy recovery.”

Stoudemire sat out the fourth quarter of the Knicks’ victory over Detroit on Saturday after he said his back tightened up. He said after the game he wasn’t concerned and believed he would play Monday.

However, he didn’t attend the Knicks’ morning shootaround and had an MRI in the afternoon that revealed the injury. The Knicks said he doesn’t need surgery and the injury will be treated with rehabilitation.

– Reported by Brian Mahoney of the Associated Press

Earl Boykins

Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey announced today that the team has signed guard Earl Boykins to a 10-day contract. He will wear jersey #6 with the Rockets.

Boykins (5-5, 133, Eastern Michigan) has averaged 8.9 points (.349, 382-1,095 3FG) and 3.2 assists in 644 career games (34 starts) with New Jersey, Cleveland, Orlando, the L.A. Clippers, Golden State, Denver, Charlotte, Washington and Milwaukee. With 5,752 career points, the 12-year veteran currently stands 12th in NBA history for points scored by a player under six-foot tall. Undrafted out of Eastern Michigan, Boykins also played for the CBA’s Rockford Lightning (1998-99) and La Fortezza Bologna of the Italian League (2008-09).

In 57 games with the Bucks last season, Boykins averaged 7.2 points and 2.5 assists. Boykins scored 22 points (8-12 FG, 4-5 3 FG) at L.A. Lakers (12/21/10) and netted a season-high 26 points (9-16 FG, 7-8 FT) vs. Dallas (1/1/11). He handed out a season-best 11 assists at Philadelphia (1/14/11). Boykins also tallied 23 points (8-22 FG) with four steals vs. Memphis (1/22/11). He registered his fourth 20-point game of 2010-11 with 20 points (7-11 FG, 6-8 FT) in a 98-90 win vs. Atlanta (1/26/11). Boykins, who also played 35 games (career-high 19 starts) for Milwaukee in 2006-07 after a mid-season trade from Denver, was signed by the Bucks on Aug. 19, 2010.

His best seasons came as a member of the Nuggets (2003-07), averaging 12.1 points, 4.0 assists, 1.7 rebounds and 0.79 steals in 255 games (12 starts). Boykins also averaged 12.9 points and 3.9 assists in 15 playoff games (one start) with Denver.

The Toronto Raptors announced Monday they have signed guard Alan Anderson to a 10-day contract.  He is the 42nd Call-Up of the 2011-12 NBA D-League season.

Anderson averaged 21.5 points and 4.6 rebounds in eight appearances with the NBA D-League’s Canton Charge. He ranks 11th in the league in scoring, while shooting .550 (60-for-109) from the field and .800 (40-for-50) at the charity stripe.

In three NBA D-League campaigns, Anderson has appeared in 44 games, with 24 starts, averaging 18.0 points, 4.6 rebounds and 31.5 minutes. He spent the 2010-11 season with the New Mexico Thunderbirds (before the team relocated to Canton) and appeared in 26 games for the Tulsa 66ers in 2006-07.

Anderson was a four-year starter at Michigan State, where he helped the Spartans reach the 2005 Final Four. He signed with Charlotte as an undrafted free agent in 2005 and appeared in 53 games over two seasons with the Bobcats. Anderson averaged 5.8 points, 1.9 rebounds and 15.1 minutes in the NBA before heading overseas with stops in Italy (Bologna), Russia (BC Triumph Lyubertsy), Croatia (KK Cibona), Israel (Maccabi Tel Aviv), Spain (Regal Barcelona) and China (Shandong Lions).

The roster now stands at 13 players heading into tonight’s game vs. Orlando (TSN/Sportsnet’s 590 The FAN).

joe johnson

The Atlanta Hawks’ Joe Johnson and the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Kevin Durant today were named the Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Week, respectively, for games played Monday, March 19, through Sunday, March 25.

Johnson led the Hawks to a 4-1 week with averages of 23.2 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.2 assists. Johnson hit game-tying three-pointers vs. Cleveland on March 21 and Utah on March 25, as well as the game-winning three-pointer at Washington on March 24. Johnson’s 37-point, eight-rebound effort keyed a 139-133 quadruple overtime win over the Jazz on March 25.

Durant’s 29.5 ppg ranked second in the league (Kevin Love, 33.5), his 10.3 rpg ranked ninth, and his 2.0 spg tied for fifth best in the Western Conference as he helped the Thunder to a 3-1 week. Durant, the league’s second leading scorer for the season at 27.9 points (Kobe Bryant, 28.3) tallied 40 points and a season-high 17 rebounds on March 25 in a 103-87 win over the Heat.

Other nominees for the Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Week were Atlanta’s Josh Smith, Houston’s Goran Dragic, Miami’s Dwyane Wade, Minnesota’s Kevin Love, New York’s Amar’e Stoudemire, Orlando’s Ryan Anderson and Utah’s Al Jefferson.

josh selby

The Memphis Grizzlies today re-assigned guard Josh Selby to the Reno Bighorns, the Grizzlies’ NBA Development League affiliate.  The assignment marks the 59th time an NBA player has been assigned to his NBA D-League affiliate during the 2011-12 season and is the second assignment for Selby.

Selby (6-2, 183, Kansas) returns to the Bighorns following a four-game assignment in February, when he averaged 21.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 30.8 minutes.  He scored more than 20 points in three games with the Bighorns, including an NBA D-League career-high 26 points on Feb. 14 against the Austin Toros.

Originally selected by Memphis in the second round (49th overall) in the 2011 NBA Draft, Selby has appeared in 23 games for the Grizzlies this season, averaging 2.5 points, 1.2 assists and 8.8 minutes.

lebron james

LeBron James and Kevin Durant called it “hell week.”

For five days last summer, the two NBA superstars came together for one of the most grueling workout routines they have experienced in their careers. With only a few weeks before the playoffs, James is crediting those grueling workouts for contributing to one of the best seasons of his career.

“Monday through Friday, twice a day, and it was one of the toughest weeks that we’ve both had as far as workouts,” James said. “But it was some great work, and we got a lot out of it.”

Even before the workouts at the University of Akron, James and Durant enjoyed a strong friendship that extended several years. James was giving Durant advice when he was still in high school. The greatest change James said he sees in Durant this season is his ability to lead his teammates.

“We respect each other, and it’s always great to see a friend of yours do well,” James said.

– Reported by Joseph Goodman of the Miami Herald

Zach Randolph

Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins turned to the starting lineup he’s used the most, re-inserting Marreese Speights in place of returning power forward Zach Randolph.

The move helped the otherwise lost Grizzlies head back in the right direction with a 102-96 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday night in the Staples Center.

Memphis ended a three-game skid and avoided being swept on its four-game road trip. With a willing Randolph playing off the bench, the Griz displayed a renewed spirit and played arguably their most cohesive basketball on both ends of the court in a week.

“Our starters came out and played with a lot of heart and passion,” Hollins said.

The Griz hadn’t looked this sharp or scrappy since a March 13 double-overtime loss at home to the Lakers. They were without Rudy Gay and Zach Randolph for that game. This time, Gay’s scoring led the Grizzlies’ early charge and Randolph was a force late.

Randolph made 4 of 5 shots and grabbed five of his 12 rebounds in the fourth quarter. The veteran forward didn’t seem to mind coming off the bench, citing a need to work on his conditioning.

– Reported by Ronald Tillery of the Memphis Commercial Appeal

Ramon Sessions

Now that he’s moved into the starting lineup and now that he’s met Lakers courtside royalty in actor Jack Nicholson, it’s time to ask the $1 million question about new point guard Ramon Sessions.

How do you pronounce his first name?

“Rah-mahn or Ra-mone, it doesn’t matter,” Sessions said.

All right. On to another pressing question: Have you been surprised by your sudden impact on the Lakers?

“I wouldn’t say it caught me by surprise,” said Sessions, acquired March 15 from Cleveland. “It’s something I knew deep down inside if I ever got the opportunity to showcase my skill I knew I could fit in with one of the best teams in the league.

“My career has been kind of like this. I’ve played well. I’ve just been (with teams) like Milwaukee, Minnesota and Cleveland that don’t get much coverage. I know guys in the NBA circle know I can play.

“It’s a dream come true for that trade to go through and be put in this situation.”

– Reported by Elliot Teaford of the Los Angeles Daily News

Nikola Pekovic

Timberwolves center Nikola Pekovic, diagnosed with bone spurs in his right ankle, said Sunday, March 25, that he will consider surgery if the condition doesn’t improve.

Pekovic did not play in the Wolves’ 117-100 win over Denver and will not play at Memphis on Tuesday or at Charlotte on Wednesday.

“I really can’t go into next season with this thing,” Pekovic said before Sunday’s game. “It’s been too painful. We’re going to try to figure out some things to do in the next few days.”

Pekovic has missed four of the past five games because of soreness in his left ankle. He said “overcompensating” for the bone spurs in his right ankle led to soreness in the left.

– Reported by Ray Richardson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press

Ryan Anderson

[Orlando Magic forward Ryan] Anderson has flourished to the point where he’s a candidate for the NBA’s Most Improved Player of the Year award.

“It’s an honor to even be in the talks and involved with those names,” he said. “I’m not really focused on that as a whole. It’s a cool thing. I’m just truly blessed to play consistently.”

Anderson shared the power-forward spot with Brandon Bass late last season after veteran Rashard Lewis was traded to the Washington Wizards for Gilbert Arenas.

This season, he took advantage of an opportunity when Orlando dealt Bass to the Boston Celtics, winning the job even after the Magic brought in Davis.

Anderson has started all 48 games, averaging 15.9 points and 7.7 rebounds per game compared to 10.6 points and 5.5 rebounds per game in 68 games (14 starts) last season.

– Reported by Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel

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