Archive for May 8th, 2012

The stunned and battered Memphis Grizzlies had legitimate hopes of going farther in the NBA playoffs than a year ago when they fell to Oklahoma City in seven games in the Western Conference semifinals is a distant memory.

Now with their egos bruised they’re just focused on avoiding being eliminated in the first round by the Los Angeles Clippers.

Memphis hosts the Clippers Wednesday night still trying to figure out how to stop Chris Paul.

– Reported by the Associated Press

Steve Nash has made his first big basketball decision of the summer, agreeing to become general manager of the senior men’s national team for Canada Basketball.

Nash, who will be a highly coveted NBA free agent this summer, will be introduced in his new role at a news conference Tuesday in Toronto. The arrangement will be similar to the one Wayne Gretzky had with Hockey Canada in advance of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.

“Obviously I love the program,” Nash told ESPN.com. “It was a huge part of my development as a player. Going to the Olympics (in 2000) was the best experience of my career.

“So if I can help other Canadians experience that, it would be pretty amazing. I want to try to lend my hand to help develop our system and change the image and reputation of this country internationally and be a resource for as many of our good, young kids as possible.”

– Reported by Marc Stein of ESPN.com

jeremy lin

Mike Woodson cleared up all the questions and speculation about Jeremy Lin’s status Tuesday. The interim Knicks coach said Lin will not play in this series.

As the Knicks prepared for Game 5 on Wednesday night, Lin and team doctors told Woodson to go on without the point guard.

“He’s just not ready,” Woodson said. “They will let me know when he’s ready, and I’m sure he will step up to the plate and say ‘Hey, I’m ready,’ when that time comes. But right now he’s out. He’s not ready.”

The Knicks already lost Iman Shumpert and Baron Davis in this series to devastating knee injuries. Mike Bibby will start Wednesday, and J.R. Smith and Carmelo Anthony will also handle some of the point guard duties.

– Reported by Al Iannazzone of New York Newsday

Photo: New Brooklyn Nets gear

Photo of my new Brooklyn Nets t-shirt and cap.

I dig it. It’s a simple, cool look:

Here is Metta World Peace on the Conan O’Brien show, discussing his elbow incident with James Harden, and more.

The city of Sacramento spent $680,000 between September and April in its unsuccessful effort to build a sports and entertainment center in the railyard, according to an analysis to be presented to the City Council tonight.

The expenditures, preapproved by the council, include $8,000 in travel costs to Los Angeles, Dallas, Orlando, Fla., and New York where city officials attempted to negotiate agreements with the Kings, the NBA and private partners for a $391 million facility.

Those expenses do not include Mayor Kevin Johnson’s travel bills, which Johnson paid for himself, a city staff report indicates.

City officials said they knew in September when they asked the council for initial funding that the deal might not pan out, but felt the project was worth the investment.

– Reported by the Modesto Bee

Dwyane Wade might not play in Olympics

Dwyane Wade

Speaking of which, Dwyane Wade sounded slightly less than 100 percent certain he’ll be in London no matter what, even after accepting the invite to what would be his third Olympics after being prodded by his 2008 Beijing teammates (”Kobe was like, ‘if my old self is playing, you can,’” Wade said — and I’m sure Kobe said ’self’ there, aren’t you?) into putting the band back together one last time.

“I told them, I said, listen, I’m just going to see how I feel,” Wade said last week. “This is about being healthy — I think, for all of us, going into the summer healthy — and taking it from there.”

This was somewhat surprising to Colangelo, reached Sunday night.

“You could, today, probably come up with 10 or 11 that look pretty solid unless something happens,” he said by telephone. “Wade’s one of those guys, but if he feels like he doesn’t have anything left or doesn’t think he can go, then we’ll make a decision as to who replaces him. We do have a lot of flexibility because we have guys who can play so many positions.”

– Reported by David Aldridge of NBA.com

Joakim Noah

Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah were at the Berto Center on Monday. While the swelling in Noah’s severely sprained left ankle has subsided some, he remains in a walking boot and is out for Game 5 on Tuesday.

Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau continued his cat-and-mouse game regarding injuries, merely conceding Noah is “most likely out.” But minutes later, he said the same starting lineup from Game 4 featuring Omer Asik at center would start Game 5.

“He did a good job for us,” Thibodeau said of Asik. “He has to keep doing what he does — anchor the defense, protect the rim, set great screens, run the floor. Just do his job.”

As for Rose, the clock on his recovery from a torn left anterior cruciate ligament starts after he undergoes surgery, which hasn’t been scheduled. Given that Rose typically trains during the offseason in Santa Monica, Calif., some of his recovery likely will take place there.

– Reported by the Chicago Tribune

mike woodson

Mike Woodson is moving closer to having the interim tag removed from his job title.

The Knicks have initiated talks that would keep Woodson as the team’s head coach for the foreseeable future, the Daily News has learned. The talks are only in the preliminary stages but it is clear that Madison Square Garden management is convinced Woodson is the right man for the job and will not pursue either Phil Jackson or Kentucky head coach John Calipari.

Woodson replaced Mike D’Antoni in March and emerged as the leading candidate to keep the job when the Knicks finished out the regular season 18-6.

Woodson’s agent, Keith Glass, declined to comment about any possible negotiations, while co-agent Joel Glass was unavailable for comment.

Coincidentally, a playoff win on Sunday — the Knicks’ first since April 29th 2001 — wasn’t necessarily critical for Woodson’s job security because the club approached him about a possible extension last week.

– Reported by Frank Isola of the New York Daily News

Pistons president of basketball operations Joe Dumars has been in Spain watching 2011 second-round pick Kyle Singler.

Singler, a forward from Duke selected by the Pistons with the 33rd overall pick, scored just three points in 10 minutes for Real Madrid in an 86-83 loss to Regal Barcelona on Thursday. He rebounded Sunday by scoring eight points on 3-for-6 shooting with two free throws in 21 minutes in a 95-82 victory over FIATC Joventut.

Singler has averaged 8.1 points and 4.3 rebounds in eight games for Real Madrid in the Euroleague and 7.8 points and 2.2 rebounds in 24 games for Real Madrid in the Spanish League. Real Madrid next plays May 17 against Cajasol in the Spanish League quarterfinals.

– Reported by Michael Rosenberg of the Detroit Free Press

Joe Johnson wants the ball more

joe johnson

Asked if he was happy with the number of touches he got in Game 4, Joe Johnson uttered just one word: “No,’’ he said. That was all.

Johnson took only eight shots in the 101-79 Game 4 debacle against the Celtics and made just four. That number of attempts was down significantly from the first three games, in which Johnson took 15 shots in Game 1, 17 in Game 2, and 28 in Game 3, the last total without power forward Josh Smith.

“I don’t think they’re doing nothing different defensively on me,’’ Johnson said. “I think it’s basically just getting the opportunity to touch the ball. That’s it.’’

The Celtics have been bearing down on Johnson, swarming him particularly at the end of regulation in Game 3, forcing him to pass - one resulted in a Willie Green miss that would have given the Hawks a late lead.

– Reported by Amalie Benjamin of the Boston Globe

baron davis

Knicks point guard Baron Davis received the worst possible news on Monday when an MRI revealed that he tore the anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in his right knee in the second half of the Knicks’ Game 4 victory.

The injuries, which include a partial tear of the patella tendon, are career-threatening, and will keep the 33-year-old Davis sidelined for at least 12 months.

“The one thing he did say is, ‘Man, hey, I tried to give you all I could,’ and I have a great deal of respect for players that work for me and work for the organization and try to do the best they can to help us win ballgames,” Mike Woodson said.

– Reported by Frank Isola of the New York Daily News

chris paul

Chris Paul scored eight of his 27 points in a dynamic overtime performance, and the Clippers moved to the verge of their second playoff series victory in 36 years with a 101-97 win over Memphis on Monday night, taking a 3-1 series lead.

The Clippers blew a 10-point lead late in regulation before finishing without Blake Griffin, who fouled out midway through overtime. It could have been another disaster for a franchise with more than its share, but Paul wouldn’t allow it…

Griffin had 30 points and seven assists before fouling out for the Clippers, who blew an 84-74 lead over the final 4 1/2 minutes before Paul took charge in extra time. He played with the same intensity he showed late in regulation, heedlessly flinging himself over the front row of chairs in an attempt to save a loose ball…

After Paul hit consecutive jumpers to put the Clippers ahead 99-93 with 44 seconds left, Mike Conley’s layup with 8.1 seconds left trimmed the Clippers’ lead back to two points. But after Mo Williams hit two free throws with 7.2 seconds left and Rudy Gay missed a meaningless 3-pointer, Griffin and Paul embraced while another frenzied sellout crowd of long-suffering Clippers fans roared…

Conley scored a career playoff-high 25 points and Gay had 23 on 8-of-25 shooting for the Grizzlies, who couldn’t match Paul’s late-game poise in another thrilling chapter of a highly entertaining series with four games decided by a total of 15 points…

Caron Butler, playing with a broken bone in his left hand, scored 14 points for the Clippers, who still can’t be comfortable after getting outrebounded 47-36 and giving away a big late lead.

– Reported by Greg Beacham of the Associated Press

Spurs complete 4-game sweep of Jazz

The San Antonio Spurs were feeling good Monday night after sweeping their first-round Western Conference series with the Utah Jazz.

They also were feeling some pain.

”I’m sore,” said reserve Stephen Jackson, who played 26 minutes in the down-to-the wire 87-81 victory. ”Those guys play hard.”

Fortunately, the Spurs are going to get some rest before the next round.

San Antonio awaits the winner of the Grizzlies-Clippers series, which may not be decided until Sunday. The Clippers lead 3-1 after winning 101-97 in overtime on Monday night…

Star sixth man Manu Ginobili hit consecutive 3-pointers after the Jazz had pulled within 61-58 late in the third quarter. And after the Jazz rallied from 21 down to get within four on Al Jefferson’s put-back in the final minute, Ginobili turned a steal by MVP candidate Tony Parker into a layup that sealed the win.

”I wasn’t making many shots, but I wasn’t taking that many either,” said Ginobili, who was 0 for 8 from 3-point range in the first three games but had three 3s Monday and finished with a team-high 17 points…

Parker had 11 points on 4-of-14 shooting Monday, Duncan added 11 points on 4-of-10 shooting, and starters Kawhi Leonard, Boris Diaw and Danny Green combined for a total of eight points. The Spurs’ bench picked up the slack, outscoring Utah’s reserves 57-10 and finishing with 27 more points than their own starters.

– Reported by Lynn DeBruin of the Associated Press

Ginobili had 17 points to spearhead a 57-10 edge for the Spurs’ bench and help overcome the first mediocre nights of the playoffs from Parker (11 points, 4 of 14) and Tim Duncan (11 points, three blocks).

Ginobili hit his first three 3-pointers of the series during a 15-0 second-half run that helped the Spurs build a 21-point lead with 6:17 to go.

At that point, Utah center Al Jefferson seemed a prophet. Maybe somebody could beat the Spurs, but it wouldn’t be the Jazz.

Then, with the Spurs’ key players on the bench — presumably to be mothballed until the second round — Utah sprang to life.

Jefferson finished with 26 points and 10 rebounds. Paul Millsap had 10 and 19. Derrick Favors, shifted into the starting lineup as Utah coach Ty Corbin opted to go jumbo, had 16 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks.

“They junked it up,” Duncan said. “They got real physical and real active, and found a way to make plays and get back into the game.”

– Reported by Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News

The Jazz started with a big lineup because Corbin hoped putting 6-10 Favors in with 6-8 Millsap and 6-10 Jefferson would give Utah an inside advantage on offense and defense against the Spurs.

But Utah sputtered out of the gates again, only scoring 19 points in the first quarter. A 21-3 Spurs run, reminiscent of the killer 20-0 surge San Antonio had in the 31-point Game 2 blowout, helped the deep and deadly visitors go into the locker room with a 50-42 lead.

Jefferson scored a couple of baskets in a row for the Jazz in the middle of the second half, but there was a big problem between those two makes. Namely, Utah suffered through dry spell that lasted eight minutes and nine seconds, during which Ginobili hit three 3-pointers and scored 10 points in a 15-0 Spurs run.

San Antonio stretched that lead to 21 before Utah dug deep one last time. Even that last lineup was reflective of the Jazz’s season makeup, considering it included veterans-trying-to-prove-themselves in Jefferson, Millsap and Devin Harris, a young up-and-comer in 20-year-old Favors and a player trying to find his way in the league in DeMarre Carroll, who was picked up in February after Denver waived him.

– Reported by Jody Genessy of the Deseret News

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