Archive for November, 2012

Streaking Hawks beat Bobcats 94-91

al horford

After an atrocious 1-for-10 night at the free throw line last week, Al Horford decided to spend extra time working on his foul shots.

”That’s one of the things I always work on, and I got away from it a little bit,” he said. ”I think it showed when I went in that little slump.”

His recent effort seems to have paid off.

Horford scored 17 points and hit two clinching free throws to help the Atlanta Hawks win their sixth straight game with a 94-91 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats on Wednesday night.

Josh Smith and Lou Williams also had 17 points apiece for the Hawks.

Ben Gordon scored 20 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter and Ramon Sessions had 18 to lead Charlotte, which has lost two straight and three of four…

In the fourth quarter, Gordon was 5 for 7 on 3s and hit all five free throws he attempted, but he wasn’t able to give Charlotte the lead.

– Reported by George Henry of the Associated Press

Jordan Crawford

After their worst start in history, the Washington Wizards became a national punch line. On TNT, Charles Barkley compared them with the Washington Generals, and a local newspaper had photos of fans wearing paper bags over their heads at Monday’s 26-point loss to San Antonio.

The jokes can stop - at least for now.

Washington earned its first victory after starting the season with 12 straight losses, beating the Portland Trail Blazers 84-82 on Wednesday night.

”When you’re 0-12, guys are going to make fun. That’s our business, guys,” Wizards coach Randy Wittman said…

Washington survived a scoreless 6:47 in the fourth when Jordan Crawford, who had 19 points, hit on a 3-pointer with 2:06 to play. The Wizards finally took the 84-82 lead on Emeka Okafor’s two free throws with 39.1 seconds remaining…

Trevor Ariza had 14 and Kevin Seraphin added 10 points and 10 rebounds for Washington, which ended the third quarter on a 23-7 run to take a 68-59 lead, then padded its lead to 15 barely three minutes into the fourth…

Lillard and Nicolas Batum led Portland, losers of three straight, with 20. LaMarcus Aldridge had 17. Hickson had 15 points and 19 rebounds.

– Reported by the Associated Press 

Jonas Jerebko demoted in Detroit

Jonas Jerebko tried his best not to say much, and verbally, he succeeded.

The Detroit Pistons power forward’s fiery eyes showed how he really felt about discussing his demotion this week.

“You never want to sit on the bench,” Jerebko said before tonight’s game against the Phoenix Suns.  ”So I’m just going to keep working on my game and keep doing what I do.  Just be ready when my number’s called.”

Jerebko was the primary backup to Jason Maxiell and often the first big man off the Pistons’ bench until Charlie Villanueva took over that role before Sunday’s loss to the New York Knicks.

– Reported by David Mayo of Michigan Live

steve blake

Lakers guard Steve Blake was examined today by Dr. Steven Yoon and had an MRI exam.

The exam confirmed that Blake still has an abdominal strain.  As a result, he will be out at least another two weeks.

Blake was originally diagnosed with the abdominal strain on November 12 and has missed the last eight games with the injury.

Ricky Rubio

Ricky Rubio health update: Now cleared for full-contact practices

The Minnesota Timberwolves today announced that guard Ricky Rubio has been cleared to participate in full-contact practices with no limitations after consultation with Dr. Richard Steadman in Vail, Colorado. With the final medical hurdle being cleared, Rubio will now practice with the team. Rubio and the Wolves medical staff will assess his ability to participate in an NBA game after monitoring his progress during these practices.

Rubio had surgery on March 21, 2012 to reconstruct a torn ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) and a torn LCL (lateral collateral ligament) in his left knee. The surgery was performed by Dr. Steadman at The Steadman Clinic in Vail. Rubio’s injury occurred with 16 seconds remaining in the Timberwolves game vs. the L.A. Lakers on March 9, 2012.

Rubio, acquired by Minnesota with the fifth overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft, appeared in 41 games (31 starts) for the Wolves during his rookie season, averaging 10.6 points, 4.2 rebounds, 8.2 assists and 2.22 steals. He compiled 12 point/assist double-doubles and dished out 10+ assists on 15 occasions. At the time of his injury, Rubio ranked 3rd in the NBA in steals and 5th in assists.

After a long-standing and substantial career with the Portland Trail Blazers, Sarah Mensah, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, has resigned after 19 years with the organization. “Mensah’s departure is effective at the end of this month,” said Trail Blazers President and Chief Executive Officer Chris McGowan. Day-to-day management of the team’s business, revenue and brand management operations, including ticket sales and service, corporate sales and service, suite sales and service, marketing, communications, community relations, broadcasting, game operations and digital communications will move under McGowan’s leadership.

“Sarah’s vision, creativity and steadfast determination were essential components of an outstanding career with the Trail Blazers,” said McGowan. “Her impact on our organization was profound. The Portland Trail Blazers are grateful for her service and commitment to excellence for 19 years.”

“As the Trail Blazers begin a new chapter, the time is right for me to step down,” said Mensah. “There is a great new leadership team in General Manager Neil Olshey, Head Coach Terry Stotts, and President Chris McGowan. I want to thank Paul Allen for giving me the opportunity to lead and for always providing the team with the necessary tools to innovate and achieve both on and off-court success.”

“Sarah leaves an indelible mark on the Trail Blazers, the NBA and indeed professional sports,” said Trail Blazers owner Paul G. Allen. “She was a guiding force through some of the Trail Blazers’ most pivotal years in terms of growth, development and impact. Sarah will be missed by the entire Trail Blazers family, and we wish her continued success in the next chapter of her professional life.”

The Denver Nuggets have promoted Pete D’Alessandro to Vice President of Basketball Operations and Mike Bratz to Director of Player Personnel, Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations Masai Ujiri announced today.

D’Alessandro is in his third season with the Nuggets after joining the team in 2010 as advisor to the executive vice president of basketball operations. From 2004-08, he served as director of basketball operations and assistant general manager for the Golden State Warriors.

Bratz joined the Nuggets as the team’s scouting director in 2009. Prior to coming to Denver, he spent nine years with the Cleveland Cavaliers, serving as director of basketball operations and director of player personnel.

Bratz also spent nine years in the NBA, playing for Phoenix, Cleveland, San Antonio, Chicago, Golden State and Sacramento. In addition, he was an assistant coach with the Cavaliers in 2002-03 and 2005.

Lakers assign Robert Sacre to D-League

The Los Angeles Lakers have assigned rookie forward/center Robert Sacre to the D-Fenders, it was announced today.

Sacre, a 7-0 forward/center out of Gonzaga, was selected by the Lakers in the second round (60th overall pick) in the 2012 NBA draft.  Sacre finished his career with the Bulldogs ranked second all-time in school history in career blocks (186) while averaging 9.4 points, 5.0 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in 135 games. As a senior, Sacre was named the 2012 WCC Defensive Player of the Year as well as an All-WCC First-Team honoree while averaging 11.6 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.4 blocks.

Sacre, assigned to the D-Fenders for the second time after participating in practice with the team yesterday, has appeared in eight games for the Lakers this season, totaling two points, two rebounds, one assist and two blocks in 19 minutes.  Sacre will be available for the D-Fenders season opener tonight at home versus Idaho.

Chauncey Billups returns to action for Clippers

Chauncey Billups health update: He’s back!

The Los Angeles Clippers today announced that five-time NBA All-Star guard Chauncey Billups will return to action on Wednesday, Nov. 28 against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Billups appeared in 20 games for the Clippers last season before suffering a torn left Achilles tendon on Feb. 6 in Orlando.

“We are all excited to have Chauncey back,” Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro said. “I know how hard he has worked to get to this point and we are looking forward to incorporating him into the lineup.”

In his injury shortened 2011-12 season, Billups averaged 15.0 points, 4.0 assists, 2.5 rebounds and 30.4 minutes per contest. Billups shot 36.4 percent from the field, 38.4 percent from behind the three-point line and 89.5 percent from the free throw line.

Billups averaged 16.8 points, 5.4 assists and 2.6 rebounds in 32.1 minutes in 72 games with Denver and New York during the 2010-11 season. He was traded to the Knicks on February 22, 2011 and was later claimed by the Clippers off of waivers on December 12, 2011.

The 15-year veteran point guard was an NBA All-Star in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010 and named to the All-NBA Second Team in 2005-06 and the All-NBA Third Team in 2006-07 and 2008-09. Billups helped lead the Detroit Pistons to the 2003-04 NBA Championship and was selected the 2004 NBA Finals MVP for his stellar play in the series.

Originally drafted by the Boston Celtics with the third overall pick of the 1997 NBA Draft after a standout career at the University of Colorado, Billups has appeared in 1,002 career NBA games for Boston, Toronto, Denver, Minnesota, Detroit, New York and the Clippers, averaging 15.5 points, 5.5 assists and 2.9 rebounds per game.

The 6-foot-3, 210 pound Colorado native was also a member of the gold medal winning USA Team at the 2010 FIBA World Championship and the 2007 FIBA Americas Championship.

Virginia Beach unveils NBA arena plan

The Virginia city that’s reportedly trying to lure the Sacramento Kings has sketched out a tentative financing plan for a new arena, including huge public subsidies.

Mayor Will Sessoms of Virginia Beach, Va., told his City Council late Tuesday that the city would contribute $195 million and the state will be asked to contribute $150 million toward the effort.

Of the state’s contribution, $70 million would go toward arena construction and $80 million to help with team relocation expenses.

– Reported by Dave Kasler of the Sacramento Bee

Mayor Will Sessoms has offered the first glimpse into how a deal to build an 18,500-seat arena and bring a professional sports team to the city might be structured. The big takeaways: It would be paid for mostly with public funds but might not happen at all.

In a quick message to the City Council at the end of its regular meeting Tuesday, Sessoms laid out what the three players – the city, the state and a private company – would bring to the table to build the arena now estimated to cost $300 million.

The city would contribute $195 million. The state will be asked for $150 million, of which $70 million would be for the arena, and Comcast-Spectacor, the Philadelphia-based sports and entertainment company that would lease and operate the arena and is working to recruit the pro sports team, would put in $35 million.

– Reported by Aaron Applegate of the Virginian-Pilot 

Six months after the Vikings stadium deal paved the way for a public/private renovation of Target Center, Minneapolis’ chief negotiator says the Timberwolves and the arena’s operator still won’t say how much they will pay.

The “implementation committee” for the estimated $100 million renovation of the city-owned building has already met twice. But the city’s lead official on the project, Jeremy Hanson Willis, expressed frustration Tuesday night that there wasn’t a deal.

“We’ve said that we need to have significant private contribution in order for us to do this renovation,” Hanson Willis said after a meeting of the committee. “And we don’t yet have confirmation about to what degree the private sector is going to contribute to this.”

– Reported by Eric Roper of the Minneapolis Star Tribune

Too soon to tell if Darren Collison is a long-term Maverick

Nobody wants Collison to be a keeper more than me. The guy has great quickness, is a good ballhandler and is fearless. Not as good a defender as the Mavericks would like. But he’s working on it. But it’s tough to say right now whether he’s the long-term solution at point guard. Mayo obviously is great on the offensive end. But he too has limitations on defense. That’s what the next 65 games are going to be about — figuring out who stays and who goes. And they’d like to be a playoff team while they’re at it. As for Kaman, he’s been what we all thought he would be. He’s a 15-and-8 guy who occasionally will get you 20 and 10 and occasioally get you 8 and 4. He’s still figuring things out, as he said last week. So let’s get to the quarter mark of the season in a week or so before drawing any hard conclusions.

– Reported by Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News

kevin durant

The Thunder have the third-most effective offense in the league thus far, even with ESPN.com’s John Hollinger tearing at the inefficiency in their starting lineup last week.

“After the trade, it was come in and do your job,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “We said, ‘This is what we need from you guys,’ and they’ve done that.”

Last season with Harden, the Thunder averaged 107 points per 100 possessions, shot 47 percent overall and were second in the league in getting to the foul line at 26 times per game. Harden and his 16.8 scoring average, 49 percent shooting and 6 free throws per game were a big part of it.

A month after the trade, the Thunder are averaging 109 points per 100 possessions, shooting 48 percent overall and are second in the league in getting to the foul line at 28 times per game. Kevin Martin, Harden’s replacement, and his 15.7 scoring average, 46 percent shooting and 5 free throws a game are a big part of it.

– Reported by Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com

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The 76ers won again with Elton Brand having another strong game and earning a hefty paycheck from the organization.

Brand just couldn’t celebrate because his effort was wasted with Dallas.

Evan Turner scored 22 points and Thaddeus Young had 20 to lead Philadelphia to a 100-98 win over the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday night.

Brand scored a season-high 17 points for the Mavericks in his first game against the Sixers since they used their one-time amnesty provision over the summer in the new labor deal to let him go. The move meant the $18.1 million Brand was owed in the final season of his $80 million, five-year contract did not count against the salary cap for Philadelphia, though it still owed him about $16 million…

Jrue Holiday had 18 points and seven assists for the Sixers, who snapped a six-game losing streak to Dallas. Philadelphia shot 6 of 14 on 3-pointers and won its second straight game.

Chris Kaman scored 20 points and Shawn Marion also had 17 for the Mavericks. Vince Carter added 15 and was clutch in the fourth quarter in trying to bring Dallas back from a 10-point hole.

– Reported by Dan Gelston of the Associated Press

Reggie Evans rebounding like crazy for Nets

Reggie Evans keeps it simple, with a slogan that Nike once might’ve kicked around: Just get it.

Evans doesn’t view his job as a science, or a reward for practice and technique. After grabbing 14 boards Monday against the Knicks, he couldn’t really explain why he’s rebounding at a better rate than anybody in the NBA.

Evans just plays by a creed, which signals in his head as the ball bounces off the rim.

“Go get it,” he said. “No excuses. Just get it.”

Evans, 32, is averaging a league-high 22.1 rebounds per 48 minutes — a number that keeps rising as the Nets (9-4) keep winning. In the last three games — all home victories — Avery Johnson has trusted Evans in fourth-quarter crunch time over starter Kris Humphries.

– Reported by Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News

Rockets to attend Sasha McHale funeral

Rockets players and coaches did not know if they could help, but were certain that they had to try, that they had to be there for Kevin McHale and his family.

About 40 members of the team, coaches and staff were scheduled to fly to Minneapolis from Houston after tonight’s game against Toronto to attend the funeral of McHale’s daughter Sasha. Sasha McHale passed away on Saturday at 23 of complications of the disease Lupus.

“It’s real important,” Patrick Patterson said. “We have to support coach McHale. He’s a priority. He’s part of this family. His family is part of our family. We have to show him that we care, that we love him, each and every one of them.

“I believe and I hope it helps from the standpoint of support. There’s not too much words can really do, but knowing people are there supporting, knowing you have a family, a team, an organization behind you and understands what you’re going through, that’s what we want to show coach McHale and the McHale family. We love them and we’re here for them.”

– Reported by Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle (Blog)

The Memphis Grizzlies assigned guard Tony Wroten to the Reno Bighorns, the team’s NBA Development League affiliate, Grizzlies General Manager and Vice President of Basketball Operations Chris Wallace announced today.

Wroten (6-6, 208) has totaled one rebound and one steal in eight minutes through three appearances in his rookie season with Memphis.

The Grizzlies drafted the 19-year-old in the first round (25th overall) of the 2012 NBA Draft after one season at the University of Washington.  In his lone season with the Huskies, the Seattle native became the first freshman in school history to earn First Team All-Conference honors, ranking fifth in the Pac-12 in scoring (16.0 points), eighth in assists (3.7) and second in steals (1.9).

Memphis will conclude its season-long five-game home stand this week when the team hosts the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday, Nov. 28 and Detroit Pistons on Friday, Nov. 30.

Utah Jazz now 6-0 at home

After pulling a no-show in the first half, the Utah Jazz’s defense arrived in time to help them stay perfect at home.

Backup power forward Derrick Favors hit three clutch free throws down the stretch, and center Al Jefferson scored 28 points as the Utah Jazz rallied to beat the Denver Nuggets 105-103 Monday night at EnergySolutions Arena.

But it was Utah’s defense down the stretch that sealed its sixth straight home win.

Jazz wings Randy Foye and DeMarre Carroll prevented Denver guard Ty Lawson from getting off a game-tying attempt in the final 3.6 seconds, and time ran out on the Nuggets.

“I knew they were going to try and get it to Ty Lawson or Gallo (Danilo Gallinari),” Carroll said. “When I saw Ty drive, I’ve been playing against him all summer, I knew he was going to try and make something happen and go to the goal. I just tried to collapse. He saw me and time ran out.”

– Reported by the Sports Xchange

Kobe Bryant playing with great efficiency this season

Bryant is shooting 51 percent overall so far this season (his previous career best was 46.9 percent in 2001-02), 41.5 percent from the 3-point line (his previous career best was 38.3 percent in 2002-03) and 87.4 percent from the foul line (his previous career best was 86.8 percent in 2006-07). He also has shot 50 percent or better in 10 of the Lakers’ 14 games, so his accuracy has been consistent. And with 17.1 percent of the season in the books, the sample size has grown to the point that this can’t be just an aberration.

So, where does the credit go? How does Bryant jump from shooting just 43 percent overall last season — his worst shooting mark since his second season in the league, back in 1997-98 — to his best marksmanship as a 34-year-old?

“I think the system has a lot to do with it,” Bryant said Monday. “The floor is spaced out a little bit more. I can penetrate to the basket and get to the free throw line a lot more.”

He is averaging 7.92 free throw attempts per game this season, up from 7.77 a game last season. The improvement isn’t dramatic in that category, but Bryant seems to have adopted the mental standpoint that slashing opportunities are there for him whenever he wants them, whereas last season, he would have Andrew Bynum and his defenders clogging up the paint.

– Reported by Dave McMenamin of ESPN Los Angeles

brian shaw

Shaw won three championships as a Lakers player under Jackson and was part of two more on Jackson’s coaching staff from 2005 to ‘11. Shaw returns to Staples Center on Tuesday as the associate head coach of the Indiana Pacers, the right-hand man of coach Frank Vogel.

Shaw didn’t get a phone call from the Lakers after they fired Brown on Nov. 9.

“I’m in a good situation here in Indy, a situation where I have a job,” he said. “After how things ended for all of us in L.A. at the end of that last season I was there, there’s no reason for me to get my hopes up about anything because if that was the case, something different would have probably been done initially.”

Shaw interviewed to replace Jackson after the 2010-11 season. He found out he didn’t get the job after seeing media reports of Brown’s hiring.

– Reported by Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times

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