Archive for December, 2012

Houston Rockets love to run

There seemed to be no way Rockets owner Leslie Alexander could know how his team would play, given that at the time, he had almost no idea who would be on the team.

But Alexander was determined and in a position to expect to get his way. Last season had barely ended when he said the Rockets of this season would run. He could not name them, but he was certain that whoever wore his uniforms and received paychecks with his name on them would play faster than his teams ever had.

Reminded that he had made such proclamations for years, Alexander made it clear this time the topic was not up for discussion.

“Oh, we will run,” he said with a tone that sounded much more like an edict from the corner office than a prediction.

Through 26 games and nearly as many roster moves, the Rockets run more than any team in the NBA, winning more often than Alexander expected when they do and standing little chance when they do not. They did not shape the roster to fit the owner’s wishes, choosing to go with the NBA’s youngest team for other reasons, but that has made it even more imperative that they do what the boss wanted.

“I definitely wanted this team to run,” Alexander said. “I think running is the future of this league. I’ve thought so for many years. When we hired Kevin (McHale in June 2011), he was on board, and I knew he was ready to do it. I don’t think personnel matters. I think anybody can run if they buy into it, and this team has bought into it.”

– Reported by Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle

Nets may give Brook Lopez, Andray Blatche more time together

The changes that began with benching Kris Humphries and inserting Keith Bogans into the lineup for Sunday’s win over the 76ers won’t end there.

Nets coach Avery Johnson hinted at a more new looks for his team following yesterday’s light practice at the team’s facility ahead of today’s noon matinee against the Celtics at Barclays Center, with the most notable change being the potential for Brook Lopez and Andray Blatche to see the floor at the same time.

The two have barely been on the floor together at all this season, as Johnson has almost exclusively played with one of them manning the center spot at all times, and switching in and out for one another, when both have been healthy. But Johnson made it sound like that will change, possibly as soon as today.

“That’s something you’re going to see,” Johnson said.

– Reported by Tim Bontemps of the New York Post

Wilson Chandler expected to start practicing in January

Think back. When the Carmelo Anthony trade happened 22 months ago, one could have argued that the two best gets were Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler. Sure enough, Gallo is now the Nuggets’ leading scorer, while Chandler, um, is he still even with the Nuggets?

Chandler’s peculiar journey, which has taken him to China and under the knife, will finally take him back to the practice court. Denver expects forward Chandler, as well as backup point guard Julyan Stone, to return to practice in the first week of 2013.

Both players underwent similar hip surgeries during the summer. Chandler, whose surgery happened first, returned to the Nuggets earlier this season but played just four games, averaging 6.5 points. The 6-foot-8 forward, now 25, then sat out every game since Nov. 12 to rest and rehabilitate his hip and groin.

Asked recently about Chandler, coach George Karl said: “I don’t think he’s playing in the near future. He might be playing in practice (come Jan. 1).”

– Reported by Benjamin Hochman of the Denver Post

Jared Sullinger

Despite playing just 17.1 minutes per game, Jared Sullinger leads the Celtics in personal fouls with 74, and he understand that his rookie status isn’t helping his cause.

“It’s fouls,” he said. “I can’t go over to the ref and make him change the call. It goes in one ear and out the other.

“I probably do lead the league in [raising] my arms up after fouls. I’m a rookie. There’s no way I can handle a ref. They are not going to listen to me.

“So being a rookie, sometimes you always get the short end of the stick, but you’ve got to pay your dues around here in this league.”

– Reported by Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe

The Golden State Warriors have recalled guard/forward Kent Bazemore and forward/center Jeremy Tyler from the Santa Cruz Warriors of the NBA Development League, the team announced today.  Both players were assigned to Golden State’s D-League affiliate yesterday (December 23) and participated in the team’s 93-88 victory over the Bakersfield Jam last night.

Reggie Jackson of the Tulsa 66ers was today named NBA Development League Performer of the Week for games played Dec. 17-23.

A 6-3, 208-pound guard out of Boston College, Jackson led the 66ers to two wins while on assignment from the Oklahoma City Thunder, averaging a team-high 32.0 points to go with 8.0 rebounds, 7.0 assists and 37.5 minutes. He led the team in scoring and assists in both games, was the leading rebounder once.

Jackson, who was recalled by the Thunder on Dec. 23, has appeared in 14 games for Oklahoma City this season, averaging 1.9 points, 1.0 rebounds and 6.9 minutes.

Other top performers considered include Austin’s Justin Dentmon, Bakersfield’s Renaldo Major, Canton’s Arinze Onuaku, Erie’s D.J. Kennedy, Fort Wayne’s Tony Mitchell, Idaho’s Sean Evans, Iowa’s Paul Harris, Los Angeles’ Gary Flowers, Maine’s Fab Melo, on assignment from the Boston Celtics, Reno’s Darnell Jackson, Rio Grande Valley’s Tim Ohlbrecht, Sioux Falls’ Demetris Nichols, Springfield’s James Mays, and Texas’ Christian Eyenga.

lebron james

Miami Heat forward LeBron James and Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul today were named Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Week, respectively, for games played Monday, Dec. 17, through Sunday, Dec. 23.

James led the Heat to a 3-0 week behind averages of 25.3 points (third in the conference), 7.7 assists (fourth in the conference), 8.0 rebounds and 1.67 blocks (eighth in the conference). He led Miami in rebounding in all three games and has opened the season with 20-plus point efforts in the Heat’s first 24 games, matching the longest streak since Karl Malone opened the 1989-90 season with 24 consecutive 20-plus point outings.

chris paul

Paul helped the Clippers to a 4-0 week behind averages of 16.3 points, a conference-leading 11.3 assists, and 3.50 steals, which tied for the conference lead with the San Antonio Spurs’ Kawhi Leonard. Paul posted three point-assist double-doubles and collected two five-steal games for the Clippers, who have won 13 consecutive games.

Other nominees for the Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Week were Houston’s James Harden, Indiana’s David West, Los Angeles Lakers’ Kobe Bryant, New York’s Carmelo Anthony, Portland’s J.J. Hickson and Toronto’s Jose Calderon.

The Boston Celtics today signed Sioux Falls Skyforce forward Jarvis Varnado for the sixth Call-Up of the 2012-13 NBA Development League season.  Varnado joins more than 100 players with NBA D-League experience currently on NBA rosters.

Varnado (6-9, 210, Mississippi State) has appeared in 10 games for the Skyforce, averaging 14.0 points, 10.0 rebounds, 30.5 minutes and a league-leading 3.9 blocks.  Varnado finished with six double-doubles and recorded season-highs of 21 points and eight blocks on Nov. 30 at Springfield.  He tallied a season-high 16 rebounds at Austin on Dec. 22.  For his efforts, he was named NBA D-League Performer of the Week on Dec. 3.

Originally selected by the Miami Heat in the second round (41st overall) of the 2010 NBA Draft, Varnado was a four-year contributor at Mississippi State where he was named the NABC Defensive Player of the Year (2010) and was a three-time SEC Defensive Player of the Year (2008, 2009, 2010).  Varnado finished his 141-game collegiate career as NCAA’s all-time leading shot blocker with 564 career blocks.

Varnado is expected to join the Celtics today and be available on Dec. 25 when the team travels to face the Brooklyn Nets in a Christmas Day match-up at 12 p.m. ET on ESPN.

DeMarcus Cousins

The indefinite suspension by the Sacramento Kings of center DeMarcus Cousins didn’t last very long.

The Kings reinstated Cousins, effective immediately. Cousins practiced with the team in Sacramento today.

Cousins, currently in his third NBA season, is averaging a team-high 16.6 points (.414 FGs, .200 3FGs, .769 FTs), 9.5 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.35 steals per game through 23 contests.

According to Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee, “Cousins was reinstated Monday morning in time for the team’s practice. The Kings had suspended Cousins on Saturday morning after he met with basketball president Geoff Petrie and coach Keith Smart following an argument the center had with Smart during a road loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday night. Cousins apparently was so profane and personal in his verbal confrontation with Smart in front of teammates during halftime that Smart benched Cousins and left him in the locker room for the second half of the defeat at Staples Center. Cousins said Friday night that he was wrong and “shouldn’t have responded back” to Smart.”

Chris Wilcox could miss a month with a thumb injury

The Celtics will enter their critical four-game road trip beginning Tuesday with just 11 active players, as once again keeping their centers healthy remains difficult.

At practice Sunday, coach Doc Rivers revealed that Chris Wilcox will miss perhaps a month with a sprained ulnar collateral ligament in his right thumb, sustained in Tuesday’s loss to the Chicago Bulls.

Wilcox attended the team’s Christmas party for local children with a brace on his right hand. With his absence, the Celtics have one true center on the roster — Jason Collins — despite having addressed the position in the offseason.

President of basketball operations Danny Ainge re-signed Wilcox and added Darko Milicic and Collins, and drafted Syracuse’s Fab Melo for support. Milicic left the team after less than a month to be with his ill mother in Serbia and Melo is playing for Maine of the NBA Development League.

– Reported by Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe

Blake Griffin

The Los Angeles Clippers are starting to make easy victories look routine.

Blake Griffin scored 23 points, Chris Paul had 17 points and 13 assists and the Clippers extended a franchise record with their 13th consecutive victory, 103-77 over the Phoenix Suns on Sunday night.

Reserve Jamal Crawford added 22 points for the Clippers, who won in Phoenix for the first time since April 17, 2007. Los Angeles’ overall win streak is an NBA season best and its six straight road victories are also a franchise best.

”We’re just taking care of business right now,” Griffin said. ”To be honest, we’re not really concerned with ‘You haven’t won here since then’ or ‘You haven’t won this many games in a row.’ ”We hear it all but we’re about just getting these wins and if they come within a streak or when we haven’t won somewhere, that’s fine.”

The Clippers have won by an average of 13 points and boast four victories of 20 or more points during their streak…

Jared Dudley scored 19 points, Luis Scola had 11 and Markieff Morris added 10 for the Suns, who have dropped two straight after winning four in a row…

Paul either scored or assisted on all but one basket over the final five minutes of the first quarter. … The Clippers matched a franchise record by holding their eighth straight opponent below 43 percent shooting.

– Reported by Jonathan Dalton of the Associated Press

The Boston Celtics announced today that they have recalled forward Kris Joseph from their NBA Development League affiliate, the Maine Red Claws.

Joseph, a 6’7 forward, has appeared one game during his most recent assignment against Erie on December 22 and recorded 10 points and seven rebounds in just over 37 minutes of action. He has posted averages of 19.5 points, 6.1 rebounds and 1.88 steals in his eight contests for Maine this season.

Spurs quotes after beating Mavs 129-91

SPURS HEAD COACH GREGG POPOVICH: (When asked how different the Spurs are when Kawhi Leonard is playing…): “Well, we’re trying to make him a defender, a top notch defender that can become ‘All League’ kind of defender like Bruce (Bowen) was.  I think he has got the mentality for it, the intelligence for it.  He just needs the experience.  So we will see how it goes but in that regard he’s doing a good job.  Chip Engelland has done wonders with his shot.  Chad Forcier has been working on his mid-range game.  He’s coming along.  He’s been sitting for a long time.  This is only his second game back.  He’s sort of like a rookie starting over again.  We are happy to see him making the steals that he did and knocking down some shots.”

SPURS GUARD TONY PARKER: (On the record setting three-point shooting from the Spurs…) “It was great ball movement. We shot the ball very well. It was just one of those games where everything we did worked. We will see next week. It is tough to beat a team like that and then we play them next week.”

SPURS GUARD TONY PARKER: (On having Kawhi Leonard back in the rotation…) “It is great. It’s huge. He is a big part of what we do. He played great tonight. He was everywhere. We missed him on the road. Everybody stepped up but after a while it was tough and it showed that we were missing Kawhi.”

SPURS GUARD DANNY GREEEN: (On his hot shooting night…) “Luckily it felt good tonight. Some nights you have it and some nights you don’t. Good thing we had it tonight. Not just myself, but everybody else on the team also stepped up and knocked down some shots. It helped us open up the lead a little bit.”

SPURS GUARD DANNY GREEEN: (On Kawhi Leonard’s impressive defensive performance…) “Kawhi gets in the lanes. He’s got the long arms and big hands. He got a lot of deflections and a lot of hands on balls. He got some fast break dunks for us which opened it up for us a little bit.”

MAVERICKS GUARD DARREN COLLISON: “They (San Antonio) shot lights out. That’s Spurs basketball. We know what they’re about. We just didn’t have our rotations down pat. We’ll work at it.”

Melo shines in 4th quarter, helps Knicks beat Timberwolves

Carmelo Anthony scored 19 of his 33 points in the fourth quarter, rallying the New York Knicks to a 94-91 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday night.

New York trailed from the opening minutes until Anthony scored eight straight points down the stretch. He had scored just nine points on 3-of-11 shooting in the first half, but had the final 12 for the Knicks to give them a 4-2 finish on their six-game homestand.

J.R. Smith added 19 points and Tyson Chandler had 16 points and nine rebounds for the Knicks, who will fly to Los Angeles later Sunday for their Christmas Day game against the Lakers.

Nikola Pekovic had 21 points and 17 rebounds for the Timberwolves, who played without star forward Kevin Love because of an eye injury. Alexey Shved added 18 points for Minnesota.

Love was poked in the eye late in the Wolves’ 99-93 victory over Oklahoma City on Thursday and didn’t travel with the team to New York. They nearly pulled it out without him, leading almost the entire night before falling for the third time in four games…

Even with Love out and Ricky Rubio still on a minutes restriction in his return from major knee surgery, Minnesota led 29-22 after one and never gave up the lead in the half, even when the Knicks seemed to be putting together some momentum…

Knicks coach Mike Woodson seemed to rule Amare Stoudemire out of the road trip, saying he thought it would be best to have the forward practice against his teammates when they get back before he plays. But Marcus Camby, who has been sidelined by a sore left foot and has barely played this season, said he will be ready to play Tuesday.

– Reported by Brian Mahoney of the Associated Press

Joe Johnson scores 22 points, Nets beat 76ers

Nets coach Avery Johnson used the previous three days to give his team some rest after Brooklyn dropped nine of its last ten games.

The Nets got in some practice time and Johnson’s staff looked over recent game film, adding some new plays to an offense that has struggled this season.

It paid off Sunday against the Philadelphia 76ers.

Joe Johnson scored 22 points, including 10 in the third quarter, Gerald Wallace had 14 points, nine rebounds and six assists and the Nets held on to beat the 76ers 95-92.

Avery Johnson came away pleased with the performance after the Nets had coughed up leads in the second half during their recent stretch of loses…

The Sixers rallied from eight points down in the final 40.5 seconds left, but Brooklyn didn’t fold.

”We definitely needed it. We just needed to get back in the winning track, especially in our building. It was good for us tonight,” said Deron Williams, who added 16 points to help the Nets end a six-game losing streak at home against Philadelphia…

Jrue Holiday led Philadelphia with 21 points, nine assists and six rebounds, Thadeus Young added 18 points and 10 rebounds, and Evan Turner had 15 points and seven rebounds. The 76ers, opening an eight-game trip, have dropped six of their last seven games…

Nets F Kris Humphries was projected to be in the starting lineup but was replaced by F Keith Bogans. Wallace slid over to the power forward spot as Avery Johnson preferred to go with a smaller lineup, something he had been working on over the stretch of days the team had off.

– Reported by the Associated Press

Mo Williams out with right thumb injury

Mo Williams out with right thumb injury

The Utah Jazz announced Sunday that guard Mo Williams will be out indefinitely with a right thumb injury.

Williams, who sustained the injury on Saturday, is averaging 12.9 points and 6.7 assists this season in 24 games, all starts.

The extent of Williams’ injury is unknown, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.

– Reported by the Sports Xchange

Kevin Love out vs Knicks due to eye injury

The Minnesota Timberwolves announced that star forward Kevin Love will not play Sunday’s game against the New York Knicks because of an eye injury.

Love was poked in the eye during Thursday’s win over the Oklahoma City Thunder. He did not travel with the team to New York.

The Timberwolves’ next game is against the Houston Rockets at home on Wednesday, giving Love several days to recover.

– Reported by the Sports Xchange

Warriors re-assign Kent Bazemore and Jeremy Tyler to D-League

The Golden State Warriors have assigned guard/forward Kent Bazemore and forward/center Jeremy Tyler to the Santa Cruz Warriors of the NBA Development League, the team announced today.  Both players are slated to join Golden State’s D-League affiliate in time for the team’s first-ever game in Santa Cruz tonight against the Bakersfield Jam at Kaiser Permanente Arena (5:00 p.m. tipoff).

Bazemore, 23, has appeared in 14 games with Golden State this season, registering six points in 21 total minutes.  He was previously assigned to Santa Cruz once this season, registering 27 points, nine rebounds, one assist, five steals and one block in 33 minutes of the team’s 101-95 season-opening victory at Reno on November 30.

Tyler, 21, has appeared in nine games for Golden State this season, averaging 1.3 points in 2.1 minutes per contest.  He also has made one D-League appearance this season, registering five points, six rebounds, one assist and one steal in 29 minutes of the team’s 95-79 victory at Reno on December 2.

Chris Douglas-Roberts

The Dallas Mavericks announced today that they have signed free agent guard/forward Chris Douglas-Roberts. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Douglas-Roberts (6-7, 210) has played in 11 games (all starts) for the Mavericks’ D-League affiliate Texas Legends this season, and has averaged a league-high 22.5 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.9 steals in 38.5 minutes per game. In those 11 contests, he has shot 49.4 percent (79-160 FGs) from the field, 39.5 percent (15-38 3FGs) from 3-point range and 90.4 percent (75-83 FTs) from the line.

The 6-7 guard/forward spent the 2012 training camp with the Los Angeles Lakers, where he averaged 4.0 points and 8.3 minutes in four games. He played for Virtus Bologna of the Italian League in 2011-12.

Douglas-Roberts was originally selected by the New Jersey Nets in the second round (40th overall pick) of the 2008 NBA Draft. The three-year pro has appeared in 155 NBA games (53 starts) for the Nets and the Milwaukee Bucks and holds career averages of 7.7 points and 2.2 rebounds in 20.6 minutes.

Douglas-Roberts played three seasons at the University of Memphis (2005-08) and earned first-team All-American honors as a junior. He declared for the NBA Draft following his junior season.

The Mavericks’ roster now stands at 15 players.

The Oklahoma City Thunder has recalled guard Reggie Jackson, forward Perry Jones and guard DeAndre Liggins from the Tulsa 66ers of the NBA Development League, it was announced today by Executive Vice President and General Manager Sam Presti.

Including his 37-point (14-of-19 FGs) performance last night versus the Canton Charge, Jackson has appeared in three games (all starts) with the 66ers this season, averaging 28.0 points, 7.3 rebounds and 8.3 assists in 38.0 minutes.

Jones has seen action in four games (all starts) with Tulsa this season, averaging 11.5 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.5 assists in 30.3 minutes.

Liggins has appeared in five games (all starts) with the 66ers and recorded averages of 11.6 points, 7.2 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 1.40 steals in 36.4 minutes.

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