Archive for May 7th, 2012

Flash ahead to this week where the Sixers have surprisingly built a 3-1 series lead over the top-seeded Chicago Bulls in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs. To build that lead the Sixers won back-to-back games where they shot 39.2 percent or lower. Since 1986, there have been just 10 other teams to win two playoff games when shooting 39.2 percent or worse.

In Game 3, the Sixers beat the Bulls by five points while shooting 34.2 percent from the field. Since 1986, only seven other teams have won playoff games while shooting worse. Six of those teams eventually advanced to the conference finals. Five of them went to the NBA Finals.

“We get tight at home sometimes and we want to make every shot,” said Andre Iguodala, who has made just six of the 30 shots he has attempted outside of the paint in the series. “We appreciate the support we get from our fans, but sometimes we want to do so well that we get tight, so we have to get back to the main message, which is to keep playing and keep shooting.”

– Reported by John Finger of CSN Philly

Stan Van Gundy

Stan Van Gundy knows that speculation is rampant that this playoff series against the Indiana Pacers will mark the end of his tenure as the Orlando Magic’s coach.

But Van Gundy maintains the rumors don’t bother him.

“I’ve been around coaching my entire life — literally, my entire life,” Van Gundy said after the Magic finished practice Monday at Amway Center. “I really think, for all coaches, I don’t think that’s disconcerting at all. You sort of know when you go into it — and, for me, I knew long before I went into it because I’d been around it — that’s all part of it. You don’t worry about that.

“I think the only thing you worry about is winning games, and you’re not happy being down 3-1. I’m upset about losing Game 4 and the whole thing. But the rest of it, I don’t have any control over that. I do have some control over getting our team ready to play.”

– Reported by Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel

Milwaukee Bucks forward Luc Mbah a Moute (6-8, 230) underwent successful right knee surgery on Friday to address his patellar tendonitis, General Manager John Hammond announced today.

The procedure was performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache in Los Angeles. Mbah a Moute is expected to make a full recovery and be ready for training camp in October.

Mbah a Moute, 25, missed 19 games this season due to right knee soreness and tendonitis, including the last three of the regular season. In 43 games (22 starts) this season, the four-year NBA veteran averaged a career-high 7.7 points while shooting a career-best 51.0 percent from the field. He added 5.5 rebounds in 23.5 minutes per game.

Golden State Warriors assistant Mike Malone is scheduled to interview for the Charlotte Bobcats head-coaching vacancy on Tuesday, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.

Malone will meet with Bobcats president of basketball operations Rod Higgins and general manager Rich Cho.

Malone is considered one of the NBA’s elite head-coaching candidates. He was the runner-up for the Warriors’ job that went to Mark Jackson last year.

– Reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports

Dirk Nowitzki

Dirk Nowitzki will adjust his off-season program to avoid a repeat of the physical problem that limited him at the start.

The Mavericks held Nowitzki out for four consecutive games in January so that he could strengthen a balky right knee. The condition improved, and Nowitzki will not require surgery. He must focus in the off-season on maintaining the knee’s strength with increased weight work.

“I struggled physically for the first time in my career,” Nowitzki said. “I’m going to really try to keep my legs strong so we don’t have to go through what I did at the beginning, because that was ugly.”

Nowitzki had the lowest regular-season shooting percentage (.457) since his rookie year. He rallied in the postseason and averaged 26.8 points per game.

– Reported by Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News

The 89-82 deficit on the scoreboard hurt the Bulls badly enough.

The 31-14 discrepancy in free-throw attempts felt like piling on.

“Listen, we’re not going to blame the referees for our loss,” Carlos Boozer said. “It was our fault we let up 25 points in the fourth quarter. But the discrepancy was huge and I thought we were being pretty aggressive.”

Several critical plays down the stretch rankled the Bulls.

Trailing 82-80, Boozer drove hard and appeared to draw contact from Elton Brand, who blocked his shot.

“It was a great pocket pass by C.J. (Watson),” Boozer said. “I was trying to go to the hole strong. Obviously, I wanted a layup or dunk. I thought I had some contact. I thought I got fouled to be frank. The fouls they were calling on the other side, I thought that call could’ve been made. But they didn’t call it. We just kept playing on.”

– Reported by K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune

al jefferson

Jefferson said he hasn’t competed against a team comparable to San Antonio during his eight-year career. And three separate times during an interview Sunday, the Utah big man acknowledged the Spurs are stronger than and superior to the Jazz.

“It gets to the point where you’re just playing a team that’s better than you; that know what it takes to win and know how to win,” Jefferson said.

He added: “If you lose to a team because you didn’t play your best, that’s one thing. If you’re playing your best and doing everything that you can, and you’re just playing against a team that’s better than you, that’s another one.”

– Reported by Brian T. Smith of the Salt Lake Tribune

No Mavs playoff money for Lamar Odom

lamar odom

In public, Dallas Mavericks players have been diplomatic when discussing Lamar Odom’s failure to compete this season. Their truer feelings came out in a locker room vote Sunday, when they decided not to include Odom in their share of playoff money.

A team source confirmed that Odom will miss out on about a $14,000 playoff share.

“If the Lamar thing would have worked out and if he would have played like the year before when he was the best sixth man, I think we would have had a shot,” Dirk Nowitzki said of going deeper in the playoffs. “It would have given us another playmaker, another guy that’s long, that can defend and rebound.

“But for whatever reason the stuff he was going through off the court was just too much. He couldn’t help us the way he wanted, the way we wanted, and we had to move on without him.”

– Reported by ESPN Dallas

Jason Terry future with Mavs uncertain

Jason Terry

Jason Terry has been a permanent fixture with the Dallas Mavericks for the past eight seasons.

Whether he makes it to a ninth season is anybody’s guess.

“I think you need to ask him that,” general manager Donnie Nelson said Sunday. “You talk about a guy that’s given his heart and soul to this franchise, and made big plays and big shots.

“We’d love to have Jet back. It’s just at what cost?”

Terry, who made $11.4 million this past season, was the starting point guard when the Mavs made their first appearance in the NBA Finals in 2006.

– Reported by Dwain Price of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Jason Terry, Jason Kidd, Delonte West, Ian Mahinmi, Brian Cardinal and Yi Jianlian become unrestricted free agents on July 1. The Mavs also hold options on Brandan Wright, Vince Carter, Kelenna Azubuike and Lamar Odom.

Thus, Shawn Marion, Brendan Haywood, Rodrigue Beaubois, Dominique Jones and Nowitzki are the only players under contract for next season. The Mavericks might use their amnesty clause on Haywood’s contract, which would give them more salary cap space.

– Reported by Dwain Price of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram 

ramon sessions

Conventional wisdom suggests point guard Ramon Sessions will terminate his contract July 1, become a free agent and sign a bigger and better deal with the Lakers.

After all, he wasn’t acquired March 15 to be just a rent-a-player.

He would prefer to think about the present rather than the future, however, and concentrate on helping the Lakers advance past the Denver Nuggets in their Western Conference quarterfinal series.

Sessions, who made his playoff debut in Game 1 against the Nuggets after spending his first four seasons with non-qualifiers Milwaukee, Minnesota and Cleveland, is due to be paid $4.3 million for this season and $4.5 million in 2012-13.

“It’s definitely something that’s not in the back of my mind right now because I’m trying to focus on the playoffs,” Sessions said on the eve of Game 4.

– Reported by Elliot Teaford of the Los Angeles Daily News

We’re hearing that the Bobcats may take a look at Jerry Sloan to replace Paul Silas.

The former Utah Jazz coach would be a tremendous, out-of-the-box choice and the first indication that Jordan is committed to turning his seven-win team around.

The obvious connection between Jordan and Sloan is that they both have their numbers hanging from the rafters in Chicago’s United Center. Beyond that, Jordan has great admiration for the coach he twice defeated in the Finals, at the end of his second three-peat.

Sloan might be tempted to return to the sidelines, if the situation and money are right. But what about taking over a team low on talent and embarking on a long rebuilding campaign, while working for an owner who doesn’t have deep pockets, doesn’t like to spend money on players and has been looking to sell half the team for close to a year?

– Reported by Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News

kobe bryant

Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum put up their usual big numbers. Their supporting cast came up even bigger, sealing the Los Angeles Lakers’ 92-88 victory over Denver on Sunday night that put the Nuggets on the brink of elimination.

Bryant had 22 points and Bynum added 19 to help the Lakers overcome a six-point halftime deficit and take a 3-1 lead in the first-round playoff series that they can wrap up Tuesday night when the series shifts back to Staples Center for Game 5.

Sixth-man Jordan Hill had 12 points and 11 rebounds, and recently acquired guard Ramon Sessions and reserve point guard Steve Blake each hit crucial 3-pointers in the final minute as the Lakers broke free.

Those were the players the Nuggets preferred had the ball in crunch time, and Bryant wasn’t at all hesitant to oblige…

Sessions, whose acquisition from Cleveland this spring led to the trade of five-time NBA champion Derek Fisher, finished with 12 points, and Blake had 10…

After torching the Lakers for 50 points combined in the previous two games, Ty Lawson was held to 11 points and Nuggets big men Kenneth Faried and JaVale McGee weren’t nearly as effective on offense or disruptive defensively as they were in Game 2, when they combined for 28 points and 30 rebounds. Together, they had 14 points and 11 rebounds Sunday…

The game was briefly delayed with 1:10 left in the first half when a female fan started walking across the court while the Nuggets were setting up a play.

– Reported by the Associated Press

paul pierce

By the time Avery Bradley, who is recovering from a dislocated shoulder, sank a free throw to give the Boston Celtics a 37-point lead early in the third quarter, Paul Pierce was done for the night, riding a stationary bicycle under the stands and trying to keep his sore left knee from stiffening up.

Ray Allen went to the bench soon after to rest his ailing right ankle. He grabbed a seat near Kevin Garnett, who is about to turn 36 and played 42 minutes in the previous game - surpassing 50,000 total minutes in the regular season and playoffs in his 17-year NBA career.

”We had a lot of things going on on our bench today with bodies,” coach Doc Rivers said on Sunday night after the Celtics coasted to a 101-79 victory over the Atlanta Hawks to take a 3-1 lead in their best-of-seven playoff series. ”The whole game I kept looking down there (to see if) there were enough guys to put in the game.”

Pierce scored 24 points in 18 minutes before heading to the stationary bicycle in the tunnel leading to the locker room, getting some much-needed rest after the Celtics scored 16 of the first 18 points in the second half…

”Their team set the tone from the jump ball and we weren’t able to recover,” said Al Horford, who played for the first time in almost four months and scored 12 points…

Horford returned from a torn pectoral muscle that has kept him out since Jan. 11, but he wasn’t available in the fourth quarter. Josh Smith returned after missing Friday’s game and had 15 points and 13 rebounds for Atlanta. Tracy McGrady, a key contributor in the first half of Game 3 before turning his ankle, played just nine minutes and scored two points…

The Hawks weren’t able to get any closer than 22 points before Rondo and Allen hit back-to-back 3-pointers, then Rondo made a behind-the-back fake to clear out the lane for an easy layup as Boston closed out the third quarter with a 90-63 lead.

– Reported by the Associated Press

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