Archive for December 25th, 2012

LeBron James

LeBron James and Kevin Durant exchanged words. Dwyane Wade and Serge Ibaka did a little shoving. Five technical fouls were called, and Russell Westbrook punched a table in frustration.

This NBA Finals rematch met expectations.

And like that series, it ended with Miami on top.

James had 29 points, nine assists and eight rebounds, Wade scored 21, and the Heat survived a frantic finish to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 103-97 on Tuesday…

Mario Chalmers scored a season-high 20 for the Heat, who were 19 for 19 from the foul line, the second-best effort in franchise history behind only a 30-for-30 game in Boston on March 24, 1993. Chris Bosh added 16 for Miami, which has beaten the Thunder five straight times going back to last June’s title series.

Durant scored 33 points and Westbrook added 21 for Oklahoma City, but both Thunder stars missed potential game-tying 3-point attempts in the final seconds…

The game had a little of everything - a fast start by the reigning champions, a one-handed dunk by James on an offensive rebound that will be added to his copious highlight reel, a scrum after a hard foul that led to double-technicals on Wade and Ibaka early in the fourth, an easy rally by the Thunder from an early double-digit deficit, and even workout partners in Durant and James barking back and forth in the final minutes…

Oklahoma City got within one when Durant made a jumper over James, but no closer. Ray Allen’s two free throws with 15.6 seconds left made it 100-97, and Miami’s last three points came from the line. Durant missed a 3-pointer that James contested, Westbrook wound up with a second chance that Wade defended, and the Thunder guard smacked a nearby table arguing that he was fouled…

Chalmers had 12 points, matching his season high, in the opening quarter alone, and that was also Miami’s lead after his layup for a 15-3 edge.

– Reported by Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press

Lakers beat Knicks to get to .500

Kobe Bryant

The pieces of the puzzle that have been the Lakers’ confounding season so far are starting to fall into place.

Kobe Bryant engineered a second-half comeback, the defense stepped up, and Los Angeles beat the New York Knicks 100-94 on Tuesday, extending its winning streak to five games.

”We’re .500,” a smiling Dwight Howard said. ”We did it on Christmas, too. I knew this day would come.”

Bryant scored 34 points in his NBA-record 15th Christmas Day game and Metta World Peace added 20 points and seven rebounds while defending Carmelo Anthony, whose 34 points led the Knicks. Anthony said he hyperextended his left knee, but expects to play on Wednesday in Phoenix.

Bryant, the league’s leading scorer, has topped 30 or more points in nine straight games…

The Lakers improved to 14-14 - 9-9 under new coach Mike D’Antoni - and upped their holiday record to 21-18, including 13-9 at home. They returned to .500 for the first time since they were 8-8 on Nov. 30…

The Knicks controlled most of the game behind Anthony and J.R. Smith, who had 24 points. But they struggled offensively in the fourth, when Anthony was limited to seven points and Smith had five as the Lakers’ defense clamped down. World Peace fouled out with 1:58 to play and the Lakers ahead by four…

Nash had 16 points, 11 assists and six rebounds in his second game in nearly two months. He missed 24 straight games while recovering from a small fracture in his lower left leg. Howard had 14 points and 12 rebounds, and Gasol had 13 points and eight rebounds…

World Peace scored 16 points in the second quarter, including eight in a row, when the Lakers played catch-up most of the way. His 3-pointer gave the Lakers their first lead of the period with 1:10 remaining. Smith tied it up with a free throw before Nash’s jumper sent the Lakers into halftime leading 51-49.

– Reported by Beth Harris of the Associated Press

Celtics easily handle Nets in Brooklyn

rajon rondo

Rajon Rondo lost his cool, and any chance at history, in the second quarter when Boston last met Brooklyn.

This time, the second period featured some of the best basketball the Celtics have played this season.

Rondo scored 19 points in his first full game against the Nets this season, and the Celtics won 93-76 on Tuesday in another game with some heated moments between the division rivals.

Rondo, sidelined in the first meeting and thrown out of the second after shoving Nets forward Kris Humphries into the courtside seats, outplayed counterpart Deron Williams and helped the Celtics take control early…

Rookie Jared Sullinger tied a career high with 16 points and Jeff Green had 15 for the Celtics (14-13), who avoided falling under .500 with just their second victory in six games.

The Celtics took control with a 23-5 run in the second quarter of the opener of their four-game road trip. They had 11 assists on 13 baskets and outscored the Nets 34-18 in the period after dropping the previous two meetings…

Gerald Wallace and Brook Lopez each scored 15 for the Nets, who have lost four of five. Struggling to find anything that worked, they played Lopez and fellow center Andray Blatche together with three guards at one point, but Brooklyn shot just 41 percent and committed 20 turnovers that led to 25 points.

Williams had only 10 points on 3-of-7 shooting and Joe Johnson, his partner in a high-priced backcourt, shot 4 of 14 for his 12 points.

– Reported by Brian Mahoney of the Associated Press

shaun livingston

The Cleveland Cavaliers have claimed guard Shaun Livingston off waivers from the Washington Wizards and waived guard Donald Sloan, Cavaliers General Manager Chris Grant announced today from Cleveland Clinic Courts.

The Wizards waived Livingston Sunday night, December 23rd, giving the Cavaliers until today at 5 p.m. to claim Livingston and create the roster space for him.

The Cavaliers rosters now stands at 15.

Livingston, 27, has appeared in 17 games (four starts) for the Wizards, averaging 3.7 points, 2.2 rebounds and 2.2 assists in 18.8 minutes per game. The 6-foot-7, 175-pound guard out of Peoria Central (IL) High School is in his eighth NBA season and has career averages of 6.6 points on .457 shooting, 2.6 rebounds and 3.4 assists in 22.4 minutes over 341 games (110 starts).

Donald Sloan has played in 20 games this season for the Cavs, averaging 4.1 points, 1.4 rebounds and 1.9 assists in 12.9 minutes per game. Sloan was signed by the Cavs from the Erie BayHawks of the NBA Development League on March 16, 2012 and has appeared in 53 games (11 starts) during his two-year NBA career, averaging 5.0 points, 1.8 rebounds and 2.7 assists in 17.5 minutes per game.

The Washington Wizards are desperate for whatever help they can get.

Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld announced today that the team has signed free agent guards Shelvin Mack and Garrett Temple.

Mack (6-3, 207) was originally selected by Washington with the 34th overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft.  In 11 games this season with the Maine Red Claws of the NBA D-League, he has averaged 19.7 points (ranked sixth) and a D-League best 7.5 assists in 40.7 minutes per contest.  He was named NBA D-League Performer of the Week on December 10.  In 64 games during his rookie campaign with the Wizards, Mack averaged 3.6 points, 1.4 rebounds and 2.0 assists in 12.2 minutes per game.  The former Butler Bulldog averaged 4.1 points in eight games during the 2012 preseason with Washington before being waived on October 28, 2012.

Temple (6-6, 195) was undrafted out of LSU in 2009.  In nine games this season with the Reno Bighorns of the D-League, he has averaged 14.7 points, 4.9 rebounds and 5.8 assists in 36 minutes per contest.  Temple has appeared in 51 career NBA games with the Rockets, Kings, Spurs, Bucks and Bobcats while averaging 3.8 points, 1.1 rebounds and 1.0 assists per game.  In 63 career D-League games, he holds averages of 14.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.6 assists with Rio Grande, Erie and Reno.  The former Tiger spent the 2012-13 preseason with Miami, appearing in six games and tallying 4.5 points, 2.7 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game.

The Sixers (13-15), who begin an 11-day, seven-game Western Conference road trip Wednesday in Memphis, so far seem to prefer to stand outside and shoot jump shots rather than attack the basket and absorb the hard hits that prompt officials to call fouls.

“We just keep talking to them about the ‘moment of truth,’ ” said Sixers coach Doug Collins, who gave the players Christmas Eve off. “At the moment of truth, just go in there and get hit. We had the ball in the paint 48 times [Sunday]. We’ve got to just get in there and find a way.”

Of the 30 teams in the NBA, only Orlando, with an average of 16.5, attempts fewer free throws per game than the Sixers, who average 18.0. It’s not surprising that none of the four teams ranked at the bottom of the list has a winning record.

– Reported by John N. Mitchell of the Philadelphia Inquirer

Kris Humphries out for two games

Kris Humphries out for two games

Brooklyn Nets power forward Kris Humphries will miss the next two games with a mild abdominal strain, coach Avery Johnson said Tuesday.

Humphries will not play against the Boston Celtics on Tuesday afternoon and will not make the trip to Milwaukee for Wednesday night’s game against the Bucks. He will be re-evaluated when the Nets return from Milwaukee, Johnson said.

Humphries visited with doctors Monday after experiencing issues with his abdominal muscles.

– Reported by Mike Mazzeo of ESPN New York

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.

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