Archive for February 7th, 2013

paul pierce

Paul Pierce scored 24 points and led a third-quarter surge as the Boston Celtics routed the Los Angeles Lakers 116-95 on Thursday night, improving to 6-0 since losing point guard Rajon Rondo for the season with a torn knee ligament.

The Lakers had cut a 58-44 halftime deficit to 72-61 with 5:07 left in the third quarter. Then the Celtics went on a 23-8 run and led 95-69 going into the fourth. Pierce started the surge with a three-point play and ended it with a 3-pointer with 41 seconds left, giving him 12 points in the period.

Kobe Bryant scored 27 to lead the Lakers, who suffered their worst loss of the season despite the return of Dwight Howard after he missed three games with a sore right shoulder.

The win was Boston’s biggest of the season.

The Lakers had won six of their previous seven games, including all three without Howard, and had moved three games behind the Houston Rockets for the eighth and final playoff spot in the West…

Kevin Garnett had 15 points and became the 16th player in NBA history to score 25,000 when he hit an 11-foot turnaround jumper that gave him six for the game and put the Celtics ahead 39-29 with 8:08 left in the half. Jeff Green had 19 points and Jason Terry added 15.

– Reported by Howard Ulman of the Associated Press

2013 NBA Skills Challenge participants

2013 NBA Skills Challenge participants

Tony Parker of the San Antonio Spurs will defend his Skills Challenge contest title against a field consisting of Jrue Holiday of the Philadelphia 76ers, Brandon Knight of the Detroit Pistons, Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers, Jeremy Lin of the Houston Rockets, and Jeff Teague of the Atlanta Hawks. The 2013 Skills Challenge competition will take place on Feb. 16, at Toyota Center in Houston as part of State Farm All-Star Saturday Night.

Parker will attempt to join the Los Angeles Lakers’ Steve Nash (2005 and 2010) and the Miami Heat’s Dwyane Wade (2006 and 2007) as the only two-time winners in Skills Challenge history. This year’s Skills Challenge features an expanded six-player field for the second year in a row. There were five contestants in 2011 and four in 2010.

For the first time, NBA All-Star Saturday Night will feature a new format that pits the Eastern Conference against the Western Conference in a night of competition that will raise money for charity. As part of the new format, points earned by each conference throughout the four All-Star Skills Competitions will determine the conference that earns the title of 2013 All-Star Saturday Night Champion.

Three players representing the Western Conference and three players representing the Eastern Conference will compete in the two-round competition. The two competitors with the fastest times from their respective conferences in the Team Round advance to the Championship Round.

2013 NBA Three-Point Shootout participants

First-time All-Stars Paul George of the Indiana Pacers and Kyrie Irving of the Cleveland Cavaliers headline the field for the 2013 NBA Three-Point Shootout, which will be held on Saturday, Feb. 16, at the Toyota Center in Houston as part of NBA All-Star Saturday Night. Rounding out the field are Ryan Anderson of the New Orleans Hornets, Matt Bonner of the San Antonio Spurs, Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors and Steve Novak of the New York Knicks.

Anderson is the lone returning three-point marksman from last year’s event, won by the Minnesota Timberwolves’ Kevin Love in a tiebreaker round over the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Kevin Durant. Love is currently on the injured list, recovering from a broken hand sustained on Jan. 3, and is unable to defend his title.

For the first time, NBA All-Star Saturday Night will feature a new format that pits the Eastern Conference against the Western Conference in a night of competition that will raise money for charity. As part of the new format, points earned by each conference throughout the four All-Star Skills Competitions will determine the conference that earns the title of 2013 State Farm All-Star Saturday Night Champion.

Three players representing the Western Conference and three players representing the Eastern Conference will compete in the two-round competition. The highest scoring East and highest scoring West competitors from the Team Round will advance to the Championship Round.

Five shooting stations will be set up around the three-point line, with four Official Spalding NBA game balls worth one point each and one Spalding NBA All-Star 2013 commemorative “money ball” worth two points at each location. Each player will have one minute to shoot as many balls as he can. The competitor with the lower individual score from the Team Round will go first in the Championship Round.

2013 NBA Shooting Stars competition participants

Two teams representing the Western Conference and two teams representing the Eastern Conference will compete in the 2013 Shooting Stars competition as part of All-Star Saturday Night on Saturday, Feb. 16 at the Toyota Center in Houston

Representing the Western Conference from the NBA are James Harden, who earned his first career All-Star Game nod in his inaugural season with the Houston Rockets, and fellow All-Star Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder. The WNBA stars for the West are Maya Moore of the Minnesota Lynx, a 2012 Olympic gold medal winner and 2011 WNBA champion, and the Seattle Storm’s Tina Thompson, the WNBA all-time leading scorer. NBA Legends Sam Cassell and Robert Horry, who played a combined 31 seasons in the league and won 10 NBA championships, round out the West representation. Cassell and Horry were teammates on a Rockets team that won back-to-back titles in 1994-95.

On behalf of the Eastern Conference from the NBA are Chris Bosh, an All-Star and key member of the reigning NBA champion Miami Heat, and All-Star Brook Lopez of the Brooklyn Nets, who earned his first All-Star nod. The WNBA Eastern Conference stars are Swin Cash of the Chicago Sky, a three-time WNBA champion and two-time Olympic gold medalist, and Tamika Catchings, who guided the Indiana Fever to the 2012 WNBA title and earned Finals MVP honors along the way. The NBA Legends on the East squads are Muggsy Bogues, the shortest player in NBA history at 5-3, who enjoyed a 14-year NBA career, and Hall of Famer Dominique Wilkins, a nine-time NBA All-Star, who finished with 26,668 career points.

In last year’s competition, Team New York, which featured Landry Fields, Allan Houston and Cappie Pondexter, defeated Team Texas in the final round with a time of :37.3. Team Texas was comprised of Chandler Parsons (Houston Rockets), Sophia Young (San Antonio Silver Stars), and Kenny Smith (NBA Legend).

Shooting Stars is part of All-Star Saturday Night, an all-inclusive skills showcase, which will take place on Saturday, Feb. 16 at the Toyota Center in Houston and will be televised live by TNT at 8 p.m. ET. The other events consist of the the Skills Challenge, a contest of top guards working against the clock to complete a series of passes, free throws, layups and agility drills; the Three-Point Contest; and the Slam Dunk contest. For the first time, State Farm All-Star Saturday Night will feature a new format that pits the Eastern Conference against the Western Conference in a night of competitions that will raise money for charity.

The Shooting Stars contest features one current NBA player, one current WNBA player and an NBA legend on each team. There are six numbered shooting locations of increasing difficulty, with each team attempting to make all shots in numeric order in the fastest time. Each team will select a specific player rotation to follow throughout the competition. Each shot must be made before the next player begins shooting in succession. Teams have up to two minutes to complete the entire shooting course.

2013 NBA Dunk contest participants

2013 NBA Dunk contest participants

The 2013 NBA Slam Dunk contest will feature six dunkers competing in a two-round competition as part of All-Star Saturday Night. The new format will pit the Eastern Conference against the Western Conference in an exciting night of competition that will also raise money for charity.

The Western Conference will be represented by the 2012 NBA Slam Dunk champion Jeremy Evans of the Utah Jazz along with the Los Angeles Clippers’ Eric Bledsoe and Denver Nuggets’ Kenneth Faried. The Eastern Conference lineup will include the Indiana Pacers’ Gerald Green, Toronto Raptors’ Terrence Ross and New York Knicks’ James White.

The 2013 NBA Slam Dunk contest will consist of the three Eastern Conference players competing against the three from the Western Conference in a two-round competition. The highest scoring East competitor and the highest scoring West competitor from the Team Round will compete head-to-head to determine the champion. Fan voting will open at the beginning of the Championship Round and the player with the highest percentage of combined votes from all platforms will be champion.

Evans won the 2012 Slam Dunk contest, defeating Houston’s Chase Budinger and Indiana’s Paul George in a tight race that included over 4 million fan votes to decide the champion.

pau gasol

Los Angeles Lakers forward/center Pau Gasol, who injured his right foot in Tuesday’s game against the Nets in Brooklyn, returned to Los Angeles from Boston this morning where he was examined by foot specialist Dr. Kenneth Jung.

Jung’s diagnosis confirmed that Gasol has a tear of the plantar fascia in his right foot. Gasol is expected to be out a minimum of 6-8 weeks.

kevin love

He still hopes to return in mid to late March. But he’s not going to rush himself. Love was asked, again, if he came back too soon from his broken hand the first time. And while he said no, he at least suggested that maybe the breaks didn’t heal properly the first time. “Because, at the time I broke it, I was 10 weeks out (from the initial fractures),” Love said. “So I gave it enough time to heal.  … But now that it’s fixed it feels great, and I can continue to progress.”

Love said the season has been frustrating, given his high expectations coming off the Olympics and the team’s high hopes entering the season. When asked what there was left in the season to salvage, here’s what he said: “I think coach (Rick Adelman) mentioned it today,” he said. “That we can’t look at making the playoffs right now. We can just look at our next game and our next practice and what we can do to get better every single day. Even though myself, and Chase (Budinger) and Brandon (Roy) and (Andrei Kirilenko) are out right now, we can still look at getting back on the court and getting better.”

– Reported by Kent Youngblood of the Minneapolis Star Tribune (Blog)

james harden

James Harden of the Rockets and Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder will be the coaches of the Sprint NBA All-Star Celebrity Game. The event will be at 7 p.m. Feb. 15 at the George R. Brown Convention Center. Assistant coaches will be singer/actress Queen Latifah and TV personality Samantha Harris.

The celebrity game is a highlight of the NBA All-Star Weekend, which kicks off Feb. 14 and culminates with the 62nd NBA All-Star Game on Feb. 17.

The celebrity teams will include Kevin Hart and Nick Cannon of “Real Husbands of Hollywood” Grammy winning singer Ne-Yo, singer/actor Trey Songz, Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, rapper Common, ABC News correspondent John Schriffen EPNS host Ryen Russillo and Terrence Jenkins of “E! News.”

– Reported by Syd Kearney of the Houston Chronicle (Blog)

The slogan goes, “In 49 states, it’s just basketball. But this is Indiana.” That must be a reference to the Indiana Hoosiers rather than the Pacers, who continue to be among the NBA bottom feeders in attendance. They are currently 26th in the NBA, averaging 14,592 fans in a building that seats 18,165.

The Pacers have had just four sellouts this season; opening night, both Miami games and against Chicago earlier this week.

While they have increased attendance by 1,320 fans a game from last season, that’s still not enough.

“It’s very disappointing,” Pacers guard and Indianapolis-native George Hill said. “The fans show up when we play the marquee teams, but they show up wearing the marquee team’s clothes. We feed off them. As much as we can get people there, the better off we’re going to be.”

– Reported by Mike Wells of the Indianapolis Star

Joakim Noah returns tonight for Bulls

Joakim Noah

Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah said he will play Thursday against the Denver Nuggets after missing the past three games because of plantar fasciitis in his right foot.

A first-time All-Star, Noah dealt went through all of the Bulls’ practice on Wednesday.

“I felt pretty good,” he said before Thursday morning’s shootaround. “I’ll be all right.”

– Reported by Nick Friedell of ESPN Chicago

kobe bryant

The newest Lakers firestorm arrived Thursday after Kobe Bryant apparently told ESPN.com the night before that Dwight Howard needed to come back from his injured shoulder. Quickly.

But Bryant said Thursday he wasn’t prodding Howard to return.

“Not even a little bit,” Bryant said in a quiet moment after the team’s morning shoot-around, adding that he was surprised at the tone of the ESPN story. “In this case, it’s not legitimate. I was shocked.”

Bryant has a high threshold for pain, as evidenced plenty of times in the past. Howard has missed six games and left two others because of a torn labrum in his right shoulder.

Bryant understood that his own pain tolerance was through the charts.

“I’m crazy, though, so I don’t put that on other people,” he said.

– Reported by Mike Bresnahan and T.J. Simers of the Los Angeles Times

danny green

Danny Green entered his second season as a Spurs starter with the goal of establishing more consistency in his shooting stroke. But even now, well past the halfway mark, Green still has no idea what to expect on a nightly basis.

Such was the case Wednesday in frigid Minneapolis, when he torched the Target Center nets for a career-high eight 3-pointers on 12 attempts en route to 28 points.

“It came out of nowhere,” Green told the Express-News’ Jeff McDonald. “Sometimes it happens that way.”

And sometimes it doesn’t. For just as often as Green will have stretches where he seemingly can’t miss, he’ll struggle through slumps where even the most wide-open of looks carom off the rim.

– Reported by Dan McCarney of the San Antonio Express-News (Blog)

jeremy pargo

The Philadelphia 76ers announced today that they have signed guard Jeremy Pargo to a 10-day contract. Additionally, the second 10-day contract guard Shelvin Mack signed on January 28 has expired. Pargo will wear #0.

Pargo (6-2, 219) was not selected in the 2009 NBA Draft and played overseas until signing as a free agent with Memphis prior to the start of last season. He appeared in 44 games with five starts for the Grizzlies in 2011-12 and was traded to Cleveland on July 25, 2012.

The Gonzaga product saw action in 25 games with 11 starts for Cleveland this season, averaging 7.8 points, 2.6 assists and 1.3 rebounds in 17.9 minutes per game. He was waived by the Cavaliers on January 22 in conjunction with Cleveland’s trade with Memphis.

Pargo took advantage of an injury to Cleveland’s All-Star guard Kyrie Irving earlier this season and averaged 14.5 points and 4.4 assists over an 11-game span from November 21 through December 8. Pargo scored 20-plus points three times during that stretch, including a career-high 28 points against Philadelphia on November 21.

In 69 career games with 16 starts, Pargo is averaging 4.7 points, 1.7 assists and 1.0 rebounds in 12.6 minutes per game. His older brother, Jannero, is currently playing for the Atlanta Hawks.

Thunder beat Warriors 119-98

kevin durant

A fog-delayed arrival in Oklahoma City made Golden State’s task tough enough.

Then the Warriors made the mistake of getting on Kevin Martin’s bad side.

Kevin Durant scored 25 points and Martin roared to life with 10 points during a fourth-quarter run that put away the Thunder’s 119-98 win on Wednesday night.

Martin hit a pair of 3-pointers, a runner and slammed home a two-handed dunk during a 16-4 fourth-quarter spurt that pushed the lead to 106-83 and coaxed coach Scott Brooks into emptying his bench instead of going back to All-Stars Russell Westbrook and Durant down the stretch. Warriors coach Mark Jackson soon followed suit.

”Coach Jackson should talk to a couple of his bench players and make sure they get wet behind the ears before they come barking at a couple of our players,” said Martin, who went 4 for 5 in the final period and ended up with 21 points.

Playing on the second night of a back-to-back, the Warriors didn’t get settled in Oklahoma City until almost daybreak and it showed as they fell behind by 20 early…

Harrison Barnes and Klay Thompson had 19 points apiece for the Warriors. Golden State played without Andrew Bogut, who is still easing his way back from a left ankle injury, and Jarrett Jack was sidelined by a right shoulder contusion.

– Reported by Jeff Latzke of the Associated Press

kevin garnett

Jason Terry scored only two points. Still, he made a big contribution to Boston’s latest win with a pep talk before the fourth quarter.

Kevin Garnett scored a season-high 27 points with 10 rebounds, Paul Pierce had 12 points and 11 rebounds, and the Celtics won their fifth straight game by beating the Toronto Raptors 99-95 on Wednesday night.

Courtney Lee added 15 points, Leandro Barbosa had 14, Avery Bradley 11 and Brandon Bass 10 as the Celtics remained unbeaten since losing guard Rajon Rondo to a season-ending knee injury.

Garnett scored 11 points in the fourth quarter as the Celtics rallied from a 10-point deficit to snap a two-game skid in Toronto. Boston had lost three of its last four in Canada.

”We’re fighters,” Garnett said. ”We’re a team that’s going to compete for 48 minutes. It’s not always pretty. We’re not perfect, we’re human beings. But we play hard, we do our best to go out and try to perfect the game plan.”

Boston’s turnaround came after Terry harangued his teammates for their sloppy play through three quarters.

– Reported by Ian Harrison of the Associated Press

john wall

Though the Washington Wizards have just 13 victories, five are against leaders of the six NBA divisions.

John Wall had 21 points and nine assists, Trevor Ariza scored a season-high 20 points, and the Wizards snapped the New York Knicks’ five-game winning streak with a 106-96 victory Wednesday night.

Washington held the Knicks, who had won the last 10 meetings, to just nine 3-pointers. In the previous two games, New York had 33.

The Wizards have also beaten Miami, Oklahoma City, the Los Angeles Clippers, and Chicago, which was leading the Central on Jan. 26. San Antonio is the only division leader to beat Washington.

”I’d like to play our best against everyone,” Wizards coach Randy Wittman said.

Washington had six players score in double figures for the fourth time this season. Martell Webster added 19 points, Nene had 13 points and 10 rebounds, Emeka Okafor scored 12 and Chris Singleton 10.

– Reported by the Associated Press

Pacers hold Sixers to 69 points

roy hibbert

Weary or not, the Indiana Pacers found the energy to beat the Philadelphia 76ers.

Roy Hibbert had 16 points and 13 rebounds to lead the Pacers to an 88-69 victory over Philadelphia on Wednesday night.

The Central Division-leading Pacers won their third game in three nights. Paul George, George Hill and David West each scored 15 for the Pacers, the only team to play back-to-back-to-back games this season.

“We got in here before the game and we just looked each other in the eyes, and I knew it,” George said of a team meeting. “I knew we had to go out, fight for each other, rely on each other and do everything possible to get a win.”

Indiana has won five in a row overall to move a season-best 12 games above .500. The Pacers snapped a three-game road losing streak and won for just the third time in 10 games away from home.

“We got ourselves up for this one in the locker room before the game,” West said. “We had to. A lot of guys didn’t have a lot out there physically, and we had to lean on each other. But we did that, we relied on defense, and slowing the game down, and we got it done.”

Jrue Holiday had 17 points for the Sixers, who saw their season-best three-game winning streak end.

Rookie Arnett Moultrie had a season-high 12 points and Lavoy Allen added 12.

– Reported by Rob Maaddi of the Associated Press

sac kings

With one more procedural move, the Sacramento Kings took another step toward Seattle.

NBA Commissioner David Stern said Wednesday night that the Seattle group led by Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer, which recently reached an agreement to purchase the Kings, has formally filed for relocation with the league.

Stern spoke in Minneapolis before the Timberwolves hosted San Antonio. He called the Seattle group ”very strong,” and said the appropriate committees have been convened to look over the proposed sale of the Kings and the prospective move.

Stern said the relocation proposal calls for the team to play in KeyArena for ”two years, possibly three,” while a new arena in Seattle is being built.

”We have had submitted a signed agreement to have the team sold to a very strong group from Seattle,” Stern said. ”We have received an application to have the team moved from Sacramento to Seattle.”

The deadline for teams to file for relocation is March 1. It’s been expected that the Hansen/Ballmer group would file to move the team, but Stern’s comments were the first time that decision had been verified. The filing for relocation is just another step, but big in the efforts to bring professional basketball back to Seattle for the 2013-14 season.

– Reported by Tim Booth of the Associated Press

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