Archive for May 23rd, 2012

Miami Heat center Dexter Pittman has been suspended three games without pay for striking the neck and shoulders of Indiana guard Lance Stephenson, and Miami forward Udonis Haslem has been suspended one game without pay for striking the head and shoulders of Indiana’s Tyler Hansbrough, it was announced today by Stu Jackson, NBA Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations.

Both Pittman and Haslem had their Flagrant Foul Ones upgraded to Flagrant Foul Twos, as did Indiana’s Hansbrough, who struck the head of Miami’s Dwyane Wade on a foul that occurred shortly before Haslem’s foul.

The incidents occurred during the Heat’s 115-83 victory over the Pacers on May 22 at AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami.

Haslem will serve his suspension on Thursday when the Pacers host the Heat in Game 6 of their Eastern Conference Semifinal series. Pittman will begin serving his suspension in Game 6.

lebron james

Miami Heat forward LeBron James, winner of the 2011-12 NBA Most Valuable Player Award, headlines the NBA All-Defensive First Team, the NBA announced today. James totaled 53 points overall, including 24 First Team votes. He was the lone player to top 50 points.

Joining James on the NBA All-Defensive First Team are forward Serge Ibaka of the Oklahoma City Thunder (47 points), guards Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers (35 points) and Tony Allen of the Memphis Grizzlies (33 points), and center Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic (41 points). Ibaka and Allen earn First Team honors for the first time; Allen was an NBA All-Defensive Second Team selection last season.

James led the Heat to a 46-20 mark and the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference Playoffs. He paced the Heat in steals (1.9 spg) and defensive rebounds (6.4 drpg), and tied for the team lead in rebounds (7.9 rpg). With James leading the effort, Miami’s defense tied for fourth in opponent scoring (91.3 ppg), and ranked third in forced turnovers (16.6) and fifth in opponent field goal percentage (.434).

serge ibaka

Ibaka paced the league in blocks (3.65 bpg) while Paul led in steals (2.53 spg). Howard was the league’s leading rebounder (14.5 rpg) as well as its top defensive rebounder (10.8 drpg). The Grizzlies allowed 96.0 points per 100 possessions with Allen on the court compared to 101.7 points per 100 possessions with him off.

The NBA All-Defensive Second Team consists of guards Rajon Rondo of the Boston Celtics and Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers, center Tyson Chandler of the New York Knicks, and forwards Luol Deng of the Chicago Bulls and Kevin Garnett of the Boston Celtics.

Chandler had already won the Defensive Player of Year award. So why did he only get named to the second All-Defensive team? Because a group of media members, not the league’s coaches, vote for that award.

The voting panel for the all-defense squads consisted of the NBA’s 30 head coaches, who were asked to select NBA All-Defensive First and Second Teams by position. Coaches were not permitted to vote for players from their own team.  Two points were awarded for a First Team vote and one point was awarded for a Second Team vote.

Luol Deng

British basketball has improved a lot in recent years. After winning two games and finishing 13th at last year’s EuroBasket in Lithuania, Great Britain’s men’s team will have another opportunity to show the world their progress when they host this summer’s Olympic Games.

Thanks to some talented players such as Joel Freeland (Unicaja Malaga) and Pops Mensah-Bonsu (Besiktas Milangaz) as well as the much-anticipated impact of new face Ben Gordon (Detroit Pistons), the GB team could prove to be a tough opponent to beat in London.

Having made his senior national team debut in 2007, Luol Deng will once again be captain of this promising young squad.

Dealing with a torn ligament in his left wrist since January, Deng played through the pain for most of the season.

“It’s the toughest thing I’ve ever done in my career so far. It’s been hard, but I’m proud to have pushed my limits,” he added.

Still undecided about whether or not he’ll need to have surgery to treat his injury, Deng is clear about his post-season schedule.

“I still don’t know if I’ll need a surgery. It will depend on how my wrist feels in the next few weeks. But right now, my mind is only focused on the Olympics,” he said.

– Reported by FIBA.com

udonis haslem

We won’t know until late Wednesday afternoon if the NBA will hand down any suspensions for Game 6 in this knock-down, drag-out Miami Heat-Indiana Pacers series.

But Pacers forward Danny Granger left little doubt what he thought should happen in the wake of Udonis Haslem’s flagrant foul on Tyler Hansbrough in the first half of Tuesday’s 115-83 Heat blowout win.

“Obviously it was retaliation for Tyler’s foul on [Dwyane] Wade,” Granger said of the play a few trips earlier at the other end of the court. “I mean, I saw it was bad in the game. Then I came back here and I saw the replay. It looked about three times worse. That was all-out. I expect to see Flagrant 2. I’d be shocked if they don’t upgrade it after looking at that play. …

“Seeing it in slow motion, it was obvious what [Haslem’s] intent was. I think it was just as dangerous as what Metta World Peace did to James Harden. I know he was trying to protect his teammate, but it was a hard foul.”

– Reported by Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel

larry bird

Indiana Pacers president Larry Bird doesn’t do a lot of interviews. He prefers to stay in the background and let his players get the attention.

But when Bird talks, you listen.

That was the case about two hours after the Pacers suffered the worst playoff loss in franchise history – 115-83 – in Game 5 against the Miami Heat.

“I can’t believe my team went soft,” Bird said on the phone. “S-O-F-T. I’m disappointed. I never thought it would happen.”

When asked to elaborate on those comments, an obviously frustrated Bird said, “That’s all I have to say.”

– Reported by Mike Wells of the Indianapolis Star (Blog)

Police arrest OKC shooting suspects

Oklahoma City police have arrested a second suspect after at least eight people were shot following an NBA playoff game.

Police say they arrested a 17-year-old man late Tuesday in connection with the shootings in the Bricktown entertainment district the previous night…

Police also arrested 19-year-old Rodney Hill in the shootings. Both suspects face eight complaints of shooting with intent to kill. Formal charges have not been filed.

– Reported by the Associated Press

dwyane wade

Suddenly, the road back to the Eastern Conference finals no longer looks daunting for Miami.

Not after the Heat left the Pacers beat up and banged up.

LeBron James scored 30 points, Dwyane Wade added 28, and the Heat moved a win away from the NBA’s final four with a 115-83 victory over the hurting Pacers on Tuesday night, a game where three flagrant fouls added more chapters to an already-physical series and Indiana watched starting forwards Danny Granger and David West leave with injuries.

”This is our challenge right now, to leave it behind us,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. ”A lot of good things tonight, but we have to focus on the next one.”

That would be Game 6 in Indiana on Thursday night. The Heat lead the best-of-seven East semifinals 3-2.

James added 10 rebounds and eight assists. Shane Battier scored 13 points, Mario Chalmers had eight points and 11 rebounds, and Udonis Haslem finished with 10 points for Miami, which never trailed, held a 22-2 edge in fast-break points and shot a franchise playoff-record 61 percent - best of any team in the playoffs this season.

Paul George scored 11 points for Indiana, with Granger and West adding 10 points apiece. Granger left with a sprained left ankle in the third quarter and departed the arena in a walking boot, while West departed with what the Pacers called a left knee sprain at the end of that period - something that West thought was born of a cheap shot…

A series marked by ugly moments had perhaps its worst with 19.4 seconds remaining when Miami reserve center Dexter Pittman went across the lane to send a forearm into the chin area of Indiana’s Lance Stephenson - who was caught on camera making a choke sign toward James during the Pacers’ Game 3 win, drawing the ire of the Miami locker room.

Pittman was caught on camera winking after the foul.

– Reported by Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press

Playing at a pace that minimized the advantage the Pacers held in the power rotation with center Roy Hibbert and power forward David West, the Heat got plenty of thrill-show theatrics from James and Wade on the fastbreak, with Wade clearly having regained the legs he lacked at the start of this series. The Heat outscored the Pacers 22-2 on fast breaks, while limiting them to .337 shooting.

“That’s a big key for us, when we’re able to make stops and get out on transition,” Wade said.

But this wasn’t only James and Wade, and there therefore was no need for James to repeat Sunday’s 40-point performance or for Wade to come up with something similar.

Instead, it was fill-in power forward Shane Battier, who again started in place of sidelined Chris Bosh, converting three first-quarter 3-pointers to set the tone, after entering 2 of 12 on 3-pointers in the series. He closed with 13 points.

– Reported by Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Hansbrough’s claw work marked the second game in a row the Pacers have bloodied a Heat player. In Game 4, Pacers reserve Lou Amundson gashed Haslem in the head with an elbow. The cut required stitches.

Apparently, Haslem had seen enough.

Less than a minute after Hansbrough’s flagrant foul on Wade, Haslem went after Hansbrough with what looked like a deliberate shot to the face. Hansbrough was in the act of shooting but it appeared Haslem worried little about trying to block the shot. Instead, he crushed Hansbrough with both arms.

Hansbrough’s head snapped back as he went to the ground. Haslem was whistled for a flagrant 1. From there, the Heat outscored the Pacers 83-58. After the game, Hansbrough said he wasn’t sure if Haslem’s foul was intentional.

– Reported by Joseph Goodman of the Miami Herald

A cut opened above Wade’s right eye after Hansbrough attempted to block his shot and scraped Wade in the head. Hansbrough was assessed a flagrant-1 foul. Blood dribbled down Wade’s temple and left a stain on his white jersey as he shot free throws.

Indiana’s Danny Granger was prone twice after landing awkwardly on his ankle (the first time on James’ foot) and left the game for good in the third quarter.

Dexter Pittman jammed a blatant elbow into Lance Stephenson’s ribs as he drove the lane. Payback for Stephenson’s choke pantomime directed at James in Game 3? Juwan Howard had also lectured Stephenson before Game 4.

Haslem’s nine stitches were oozing. He took an elbow from Lou Amundson in Game 4. He said he wasn’t seeking revenge on Hansbrough.

– Reported by Linda Robertson of the Miami Herald

Basketball blog