Archive for February 15th, 2013

Clyde Drexler, Dikembe Mutombo, Hakeem Olajuwon, Rudy Tomjanovich, and Yao Ming will serve as judges in the 2013 NBA Slam Dunk (8pm ET, TNT), the NBA announced today. The five Houston Rockets legends will score all of the dunks in the first round (the Team Round) of the event.

Drexler played 15 seasons for the Rockets and Portland Trail Blazers, was a 10-time NBA All-Star, a two-time NBA Champion with the Rockets, enshrined in the Hall of Fame in 2004, and was a member of the 1992 USA Basketball Dream Team.

Mutombo, who played the final five seasons of his 18-year career with the Rockets, was a four-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year, an eight-time NBA All-Star, and currently serves as an NBA Global Ambassador.

Olajuwon is a two-time NBA Champion with the Rockets (1994 and 1995), a 12-time NBA All-Star, was named the 1993-94 NBA Most Valuable Player, and was enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2008.

Tomjanovich played for the Rockets for 11 seasons while being named an NBA All-Star five times and coached the team for 12 seasons, including their back-to-back NBA Championships.

Yao was the number one overall pick for the Rockets in the 2002 NBA Draft and an eight-time NBA All-Star.

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

The West features 2012 champion Jeremy Evans of the Utah Jazz along with the Los Angeles Clippers’ Eric Bledsoe and the Denver Nuggets’ Kenneth Faried.

Dunkers for the East 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.

Thunder doing fine without James Harden

james harden

Through 53 games without Harden, the Thunder are 39-14. They were 40-13 at the same point last season.

Last year’s Thunder averaged 103.1 points per game and shot 47.1 percent from the field and 35.8 percent from 3-point range. This year’s squad is scoring 106 points on 48.2 percent shooting (38.9 from 3).

So, their points and percentages are up, and they’re only one game off last season’s more bearded pace.

“We’re different, but I think we’re just as good,” small forward Kevin Durant said. “James, don’t get me wrong, he’s a phenomenal player, but we lost him and we got Kevin Martin back, who’s a really good player as well.

“And I think for the passing ability that we lost with James, and his defense, we make up for it with Russell and myself, and the guys on the bench that help.”

Martin is doing his part as the Thunder’s new sixth man.

– Reported by Jason McDaniel of the Houston Chronicle (Blog)

A judge says Kim Kardashian’s divorce trial should begin in early May.

Kardashian had been urging the judge to set the trial so her marriage to Kris Humphries can end before July, when her child with Kanye West is due to be born.

Superior Court Judge Scott Gordon set a May 6 trial date on Friday over the objections of an attorney for her estranged husband, an NBA player.

– Reported by the Associated Press

kevin garnett

Boston Celtics center Kevin Garnett downplayed any talk that he’s pondering retirement after the season, suggesting comments earlier this week about this being his last All-Star Game were simply his nod to young talent in the league.

In an interview with ESPN Radio on Friday from All-Star festivities in Houston, the 36-year-old Garnett said some are reading too much into his words after declaring with certainty on Wednesday that this would be his final All-Star appearance.

“I did say that, didn’t I?” joked Garnett. “I’m just being honest. To think that, first off, not to take this for granted and I’m more than honored and flattered. But to think that two years left, who knows what the future’s going to hold for me. I can’t say that I’m going to be an All-Star next year at 37-38 years old. That’s ludicrous.

“I’m learning this new journalism these days, they don’t really put out the whole question, they just ask the parts at which they want. So I’ll explain it. The question kinda came off as whether next year and [Garnett] making the All-Star [game], I was like, ‘Woah, woah, woah. This is probably my last,’ then went into that way and spoke on it. But yeah, I don’t anticipate — I never said that I wasn’t going to anticipate playing like an All-Star next year, I didn’t say that. But to sit up here with all those young guys and up-and-coming talent, I can’t just that. I’m not that brash, that egotistical of a guy say nothing like that. I’m more than honored to be here, it’s not by coincidence, I’m working hard like the next man. But to sit up there and say that next year [he’d be an All-Star], I would never disrespect the game like that.”

– Reported by Chris Forsberg of ESPN Boston

Chris Bosh

Taking the suspense out of the equation early, Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra has selected Chris Bosh as a replacement starter for the East team in Sunday’s All-Star Game.

Spoelstra hinted two weeks ago that he would remain loyal to the Heat regarding any decisions he had to make in his first assignment as an All-Star coach.

Bosh will replace injured guard Rajon Rondo, who is recovering from season-ending knee surgery.

All-Star starters are chosen through fan voting.

Bosh will start alongside Heat teammates Dwyane Wade and LeBron James, with Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Garnett.

– Reported by Michael Wallace of ESPN.com

Unable to secure an invitation to address NBA players directly, embattled union executive director Billy Hunter has released online his response to a report that criticized his leadership.

Hunter’s lawyers say his 2010 contract extension was valid and the leave of absence he’s been placed on is not. They say if ratification of his contract had been needed, it was president Derek Fisher’s responsibility to get it, not Hunter’s.

Hunter’s contract was a central part of the review conducted by the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP and released last month. The report urged players to discuss Hunter’s future this weekend and said they had ”powerful arguments” that the contract wouldn’t be legal if an attempt to remove Hunter led to litigation.

Hunter had hoped to attend the players’ meeting in Houston on Saturday during All-Star weekend, but he wasn’t invited.

”While we are terribly disappointed that the NBPA will not afford Mr. Hunter the opportunity to address the players directly, we stand ready to press his claims in the appropriate forum,” attorney Michael Carlinsky wrote in the rebuttal.

– Reported by Brian Mahoney of the Associated Press

carmelo anthony

Carmelo Anthony arrived in Houston yesterday, and a league source said the NBA has been told the Knicks’ injured superstar is expecting to play in Sunday’s All-Star Game.

Anthony injured his right biceps during Wednesday’s 92-88 loss to Toronto during which he shot just 5-of-24. Anthony said he was bothered by the injury, though he finished the game and took 10 shots in the fourth quarter.

An NBA bylaw stipulates if a player shows up for the All-Star Game and does not play, the league has the power to forbid the player from competing in the next game after the break. That is designed as a deterrent to players who exaggerate injuries to get out of the game.

Anthony, who was voted to start in the Eastern Conference frontcourt with LeBron James and adversary Kevin Garnett, called the injury a “contusion.”

– Reported by Marc Berman and Tim Bontemps contributing, of the New York Post

chris paul

The Los Angeles Clippers have no banners on the walls or in the rafters at Staples Center. They would need decades to measure up to the Lakers’ history.

And they don’t care. The past is easy to overlook in Hollywood. The present belongs to Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and the Clippers, who are running Staples Center with style this season.

Paul had 24 points and 13 assists, Griffin scored 18 of his 22 points in a spectacular first quarter and the Clippers cemented their supremacy in Los Angeles with a 125-101 victory over the Lakers on Thursday night.

Chauncey Billups hit five 3-pointers while scoring 21 points for the Clippers, who never trailed as they roared into the All-Star break by clinching the season series in their city rivalry for the first time in 20 years. The Clippers have won the Staples Center co-tenants’ first three games of the season, with Los Angeles’ longtime underdogs burying the 16-time champions in this latest meeting under a wave of 16 3-pointers…

Caron Butler had 13 points and eight rebounds for the Clippers, who lead Golden State by seven games atop the Pacific Division standings. The win was their fourth straight in an impressive five-night stretch heading into what could be a memorable All-Star game for Los Angeles’ teams, which are contributing four of the West’s five starters this weekend in Houston…

Kobe Bryant had 20 points and 11 assists for the Lakers, who head to the break in 10th place in the Western Conference, four games below .500 with little reason to suspect things will get a whole lot better - particularly without Pau Gasol, who’s likely out until April with the latest in their series of serious injuries…

The Clippers lost Lamar Odom in the second quarter when the longtime Lakers big man got poked in the left eye. … The Lakers’ Jodie Meeks converted a four-point play late in the third quarter.

– Reported by Greg Beacham of the Associated Press

lebron james

With LeBron James playing at his best level yet, the Miami Heat powered into the All-Star break with a reminder to the Oklahoma City Thunder that the NBA championship still resides on South Beach.

James had 39 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists, and narrowly missed extending his record-setting streak of high-scoring games combined with top-notch accuracy, as the Heat trampled Oklahoma City 110-100 in a Thursday night showcase.

James was in position to continue his NBA record run of games with at least 30 points and 60 percent shooting to seven, but missed from a couple steps beyond the 3-point line as the shot clock ran down with just over a minute left and Miami up 10.

That dropped him to 14 for 24 in the game, or 58 percent. All that mattered to him, though, was that Miami’s winning streak reached a season-best seven straight games - and the Heat beat the Thunder for the sixth time in a row, dating to last year’s NBA Finals.

”Winning is hard to come by in professional sports. That’s what it’s about,” James said. ”Sixty percent doesn’t matter. Winning is all that matters.”

Chris Bosh chipped in 20 points and 12 rebounds for the Heat, who won the last four games of last season’s Finals after losing Game 1 in Oklahoma City and continued their dominance in the series after winning on their home court on Christmas Day.

”I thought we imposed our will, playing our style of basketball,” said Dwyane Wade, who had 13 points and eight assists before fouling out with 3:29 to play…

Kevin Durant had 40 points and eight rebounds, but missed his first seven shots as Oklahoma City fell hopelessly behind. After the slow start, he wound up making half of his 24 shots - going 8 for 10 in the fourth quarter to get Oklahoma City within 108-100 after trailing by as much as 23…

Russell Westbrook had 26 points and 10 assists, with six turnovers, for the Thunder. He had 20 points in the first half to keep Oklahoma City from getting run out of its own gym.

– Reported by Jeff Latzke of the Associated Press

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