A North Texas jury has found the 22-year-old son of former NBA player Nick Van Exel guilty of murder in the shooting death of a longtime friend.
A Dallas County jury deliberated about 2 1/2 hours before returning its guilty verdict Thursday against Nickey Maxwell Van Exel. The penalty phase begins Friday.
Prosecutors had sought a capital murder conviction. They say Van Exel fatally shot Bradley Bassey Eyo in December 2010 and dumped his body at Lake Ray Hubbard on the eastern outskirts of Dallas.
— Reported by the Associated Press
Kevin Durant scored 27 points, Russell Westbrook added 21 points and nine assists and the Oklahoma City Thunder beat Memphis 106-89 Thursday night in the Grizzlies’ first game since trading away leading-scorer Rudy Gay.
Memphis struggled mightily in the first half and trailed by 26 in the third quarter before a mini-implosion by the Thunder that featured Westbrook getting benched after a dust-up with his teammates.
It still didn’t provide a big enough opening for the Grizzlies, who were playing short-handed while waiting for trade acquisitions Tayshaun Prince, Austin Daye and Ed Davis to arrive and pass physicals.
Jerryd Bayless led Memphis with 23 points. Zach Randolph missed his first 10 shots and wound up with nine points and 19 rebounds.
The Grizzlies were already short on numbers after dealing away reserves Marreese Speights, Wayne Ellington and Josh Selby for Jon Leuer about a week earlier and with Quincy Pondexter out with a sprained ligament in his left knee.
— Reported by Jeff Latzke of the Associated Press
Back on the Pepsi Center practice court on Thursday morning was a familiar face – that of former Nuggets assistant coach Tim Grgurich. And if he hadn’t been gone for so long, it really was as if he never left. He bounced around from player-to-player, chatting, rebounding for free throws, talking to coaches and sometimes just standing off to the side and observing.
Nuggets coach George Karl has long tried to get Grgurich back into the organization after he left in 2010. And while this is very temporary – a few games – Karl couldn’t be happier to have the calming influence and basketball smarts of one of his best friends in the business.
“He gives me eyes, the pulse of the team,” Karl said.
— Reported by Chris Dempsey of the Denver Post (Blog)
Los Angeles Lakers star center Dwight Howard has been diagnosed with a sore right shoulder and is day to day.
Howard was evaluated in Minneapolis by Lakers trainer Gary Vitti on Thursday, one day after he aggravated the torn labrum in his right shoulder during the Lakers’ loss to the Phoenix Suns.
The Lakers are expected to give a more definitive update on Howard’s status prior to Friday’s game against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Howard suffered the injury midway through the fourth quarter of Wednesday’s 92-86 loss. The seven-time All-Star fell to the floor in pain after being blocked by Suns guard Shannon Brown with 6:57 remaining in the contest.
— Reported by Dave McMenamin of ESPN Los Angeles
The Indiana Pacers today re-assigned Miles Plumlee to the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, Indiana’s NBA Development League affiliate. The assignment is the record 120th of the 2012-13 NBA and NBA D-League seasons, while Plumlee is one of a record 51 players who have been assigned to the NBA D-League this season.
Plumlee (6-11, 255, Duke) re-joins the Mad Ants following six previous assignments when he played in 11 games and averaged 12.8 points, 11.2 rebounds, 1.7 blocks and 31.3 minutes. He has appeared in seven games for the Pacers this season, averaging 0.9 points, 1.6 rebounds and 3.6 minutes.
Selected 26th overall by the Pacers in the first round of the 2012 NBA Draft, Plumlee was a four-year member of the Blue Devils, where he won an NCAA Championship in 2010.
Plumlee is expected to be in available tonight when the team travels to play the Canton Charge at 7 p.m. ET.
The Memphis Grizzlies have shown once before they can be contenders without Rudy Gay.
It’s time to prove it again.
The Grizzlies started the process of moving on Thursday after trading their leading scorer to Toronto in a three-team deal that brought Tayshaun Prince, Austin Daye and Ed Davis to Memphis.
The franchise’s best postseason run came with Gay injured two seasons ago, with an upset of top-seeded San Antonio and then a thrilling seven-game Western Conference semifinal series against Oklahoma City. Before that, Memphis had never even won a playoff game.
”I don’t think we’re too scared. I think we’ve been here before without him,” point guard Mike Conley said Thursday at the team’s shootaround before a game at Oklahoma City.
”We’ve been without Zach (Randolph). We’ve had guys go down and we’ve had to deal with it. This team is great at playing with adversity,” he added. ”Hopefully, we can kind of mock what we did when Rudy was out that year and we made the playoff run and play that style of basketball.”
— Reported by Jeff Latzke of the Associated Press
Ricky Rubio is standing up for his fellow Spaniard Pau Gasol, saying he doesn’t think it’s fair that the Los Angeles Lakers are bringing Gasol off the bench this season.
Rubio spoke after practice on Thursday, one day before his Minnesota Timberwolves were scheduled to host the Lakers. Rubio says he speaks to Gasol and the other Spanish players in the NBA regularly throughout the season. He says Gasol has proven himself as a top-flight player in this league over the years.
He quipped that ”if they don’t want him, we are more than welcome to get him.”
— Reported by Jon Krawczynski of the Associated Press
It has been obvious for some time that it is time for Bargnani to move on, for his sake and for the Raptors, and Colangelo indicated a move could happen soon, though it is not a certainty.
“Andrea is a player that has definitely garnered interest. Unfortunately when he gets hurt that takes him off the market,” Colangelo explained after breaking down the Gay trade to reporters.
“That’s not to say we’re going to trade Andrea … He’s a unique talent, but sometimes a change of address is not bad. I’m not saying he’s asked for a trade, but he would certainly not fight or resist a situation if it was the right situation.”
Bargnani has two years left on his contract, but is a tremendous offensive weapon, when in top form, a player opposing coaches gameplan around. He has many faults, and this corner has addressed them many times, but someone will come calling for him.
— Reported by Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun
An NBA source said the Celtics were never serious competitors for Memphis swingman Rudy Gay, who was traded in a three-team deal to the Toronto Raptors Wednesday.
Boston was rumored to be discussing sending franchise cornerstone Paul Pierce to Memphis in exchange for Gay, whom the Grizzlies had been looking to trade for weeks. According to the source, the Celtics didn’t feel Gay was worthy of franchise-player status, or sacrificing Pierce, who has one more year on his contract that is only partially guaranteed.
Gay is averaging 17.2 points and 5.9 rebounds and has $37 million remaining on his contract for the next two years.
Gay was sent to the Raptors for Ed Davis, while Toronto shipped Jose Calderon to the Pistons, who sent Tayshaun Prince and Austin Daye to Memphis.
— Reported by Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe
Steve Nash’s first trip back to Phoenix to play the Suns was an evening of triumph.
For the Suns, not Nash.
Michael Beasley scored a season-high 27 points and the Suns rallied from 13 down in the fourth quarter to hand Nash’s Los Angeles Lakers their eighth straight road loss 92-86 on Wednesday night.
The Lakers, who had won three straight – all at home, lost Dwight Howard when he reinjured his right shoulder with 6:57 to play. Coach Mike D’Antoni said he thinks the injury is something that Howard will have to deal with all season.
”It is my understanding that it is something that will hurt, then it will go away and he will be able to play,” D’Antoni said.
Beasley, whose previous season best of 25 came two games earlier, scored on a scrambling layup as the shot clock was expiring to put the Suns ahead 88-86 with 43.8 seconds to play.
”I’m just playing aggressive,” Beasley said. ”I’m trying to turn over a new leaf. No more nonchalant Beas. I’m back to the Beast.”
Kobe Bryant had 17 points and nine assists, but missed what would have been the tying layup with 24 seconds to play. Howard had nine points and 14 rebounds before he left after aggravating the shoulder injury that sidelined him for three games earlier this month. Metta World Peace scored 15, Pau Gasol 14 and Antawn Jamison 13 for Los Angeles.
— Reported by Bob Baum of the Associated Press