Archive for March 7th, 2013

kevin durant

Kevin Durant had 34 points, including the go-ahead free throws with 1:38 left, and the Oklahoma City Thunder pulled out a 95-94 victory over the New York Knicks on Thursday night.

Russell Westbrook struggled over the final three quarters but finished with 21 points, six rebounds and five assists in the Thunder’s first trip to New York since Dec. 22, 2010. Durant also had eight boards and six assists.

Oklahoma City posted its third straight win, fighting off a spirited effort by a Knicks team missing Carmelo Anthony. The All-Star forward missed his second straight game with what the Knicks said is a stiff and sore right knee.

J.R. Smith scored a season-high 36 points for New York, but missed a turnaround jumper that would have won it as time ran out.

Neither team led by more than two points over the final 10 1/2 minutes. Durant scored 12 in the final period while Westbrook was shut out, hitting a pair from the line with 1:38 to play that made it 95-94…

Anthony was hurt Monday in Cleveland, falling to the court without contact as he tried to catch a pass. Coach Mike Woodson said he is day to day and doesn’t believe the injury is serious, but the Knicks said the same about Jeremy Lin last season and others in recent years, so their fans won’t relax until they see Anthony back on the floor…

Raymond Felton and Amare Stoudemire each had 16 points for the Knicks, who were playing their fourth game in five nights against the rested and much more athletic Thunder…

Oklahoma City G Ronnie Brewer didn’t play. Brewer was a starter for the Knicks to begin the season, but eventually lost his place in the rotation entirely after a lengthy slump and was dealt to the Thunder for a second-round pick at the trade deadline.

– Reported by Brian Mahoney of the Associated Press

Anthony did not play for the second straight game because of fluid on his knee. “I’m not overly concerned,” Woodson said. “He’s day-to-day and eventually he’ll be back on the floor playing.” Woodson said he wanted to get Anthony back down to about 34-35 minutes per game instead of close to 40. Anthony sat out Wednesday’s 87-77 win in Detroit after falling to the floor during Monday’s win in Cleveland; he initially said he received treatment on the knee during halftime of Sunday’s loss to the Miami Heat. The Knicks are now 4-5 this year without Anthony, the NBA’s second-leading scorer (28.2)… Stoudemire remains on a 30-minute limit, but Woodson said that could change going forward. “Maybe his minutes will increase as we get closer to the playoffs or get in a playoff series,” said Woodson, adding that he wanted to protect Stoudemire until then.

– Reported by Adam Zagoria of NBA.com

Every game counts for playoff-hungry Warriors

Just over an hour before the Warriors tipped off against Sacramento on Wednesday, a backroom off the Warriors locker room erupted into cheers. Moments later, several players exited looking like they’d just won something.

In a way, they had.

Utah, part of a group of six teams contending for the final three playoff spots in the Western Conference, just put the finishing touches on a collapse at Cleveland, which allowed Golden State to extend its lead over the Jazz to 2.5 games later in the night.

Being in contention for the postseason has turned the Warriors into fans of teams they’d usually have no interest in monitoring.

“It’s a little bit of a different mindset,” All-Star forward David Lee said. “We’re watching Utah play and we’re watching Houston play before our games start and the Lakers play. We’re all excited about the outcomes of those games and we’re rooting for teams in the Eastern Conference.”

– Reported by Kyle Bonagura of CSN Bay Area

kobe bryant

It was Kobe Bryant’s 1,443rd game as a Los Angeles Laker. And there he was on Wednesday night, soaking his 34-year-old feet in ice water, feet that helped carry the Lakers to a 108-102 victory over the New Orleans Hornets at the New Orleans Arena, one that left the 31-31 Lakers 2½ games out the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Because the Lakers remain in danger of missing the playoffs for only the second time during Kobe’s 17th season in Los Angeles, Kobe’s drive to get them into the postseason has become one of the NBA’s most interesting sidebars.

To say the least, it has been a wild ride. The Lakers are playing for their second head coach this season. And their legendary owner Jerry Buss died of cancer at a time he felt he had put together a team, with the acquisition of guys like Dwight Howard and Steve Nash joining folks like Kobe and Pau Gasol, good enough to win a 17th NBA championship.

Let’s say this much. Bryant is doing his best in what seems to be a lost cause.

– Reported by Peter Finney of the New Orleans Times-Picayune

The public relations campaign to keep the Kings in town continued today with a blast from the franchise’s past.

Former Kings star Mitch Richmond greeted a few dozen fans at midtown’s Firestone Public House, signing posters and hats. Richmond has pledged $1 million to be part of a local ownership contingent seeking to block the Kings’ move to Seattle.

“It would be a sad day if the Kings leave this community,” Richmond said. “I know Seattle is a good place, I think Seattle’s team (the Sonics) should have never left. But we want our team here.”

– Reported by Ryan Lillis of the Sacramento Bee

Bradley Beal inches closer to return for Wizards

Bradley Beal waited for his teammates in the locker room after the Washington Wizards’ 87-82 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday night, listening to them discuss the turnover problems that led to their demise and offering humor to keep the spirits from staying down.

Beal missed his eighth game of the season and first with a sprained left ankle that he suffered on Sunday against Philadelphia. When asked how he was feeling after the Timberwolves game, Beal said, “Better.”

The Wizards (19-40) are now 2-6 without Beal this season but his absence has been felt lately on the road, where they have lost four consecutive games without the promising rookie shooting guard on the court.

Beal remains day-to-day, but Coach Randy Wittman said that he is making progress.

– Reported by Michael Lee of the Washington Post (Blog)

Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge’s weekly appearance on Boston sports radio WEEI (93.7 FM), speaking on how the team has played differently without Rajon Rondo: “…Sometimes it’s the fact that the players defer to the other great players. Sometimes they don’t practice it because it’s just so easy to get the ball to Rondo to bring up all the time instead of Avery grabbing the defensive rebound and pushing the ball up the court himself, and Rondo running on the other wing and the ball being swung to Rondo and now he’s coming off the pick-and-roll. And so, I think that we’re all learning from this. We’re all learning that the respect of the other players is growing and they get the respect that they now deserve, as opposed to being the guys that aren’t living up to their potential.

“It’s just amazing that two months ago it was Jeff Green and Courtney Lee and Jason Terry that weren’t playing well enough. And now all of a sudden we’re 13-4 and those guys are playing great. And I think that Rondo was, like, voted a starter on the All-Star team and now it’s like we’re better without him. I mean, this stuff is crazy, how the trends go. I think there’s a tiny bit of truth in all of it, like Rondo can adjust his game to allow other players to play a little better, move better without the ball, play more, cut harder, and shoot more, shoot his mid-range jump shot more. I think all those things, and turn the ball over less. But I think that we have a much better chance of beating Miami in a playoff series with Rajon Rondo.”

– Reported by Greg Payne of ESPN Boston

The Los Angeles Lakers today assigned Darius Morris and Robert Sacre to the Los Angeles D-Fenders, the Lakers’ NBA Development League affiliate. The assignments are the record 143rd and 144th of the 2012-13 NBA and NBA D-League seasons. Morris becomes the record 55th NBA player to have been assigned to the NBA D-League this season, while Sacre is on his third assignment of the season.

Morris (6-4, 190, Michigan) has played in 42 games this season for Los Angeles, averaging 4.4 points, 1.7 assists and 1.2 rebounds. On Dec. 16, he tallied 15 points on 5-for-8 shooting from the field in a 111-98 win over the 76ers.  He appeared in one game on assignment last season for the D-Fenders and scored 21 points in a 99-98 win over the Dakota Wizards.

Sacre (7-0, 260, Gonzaga) has appeared in 27 games for the Lakers this season, averaging 1.5 points, 1.1 rebounds and 7.2 minutes.  He has played in four games on assignment with the D-Fenders, averaging 11.3 points, 6.8 rebounds and 31.0 minutes. He returned to the Lakers following a 22-point performance vs. Sioux Falls at the 2013 NBA D-League Showcase in Reno, Nev.

Both players are expected to join the D-Fenders and be available when the team hosts the Austin Toros on Saturday at 9:30 p.m. ET.

Bobcats guard Ramon Sessions out 2-4 weeks

The Charlotte Bobcats announced today that guard Ramon Sessions could miss approximately 2-4 weeks after an MRI on his left knee revealed that he suffered a second degree MCL sprain during last night’s game against Brooklyn.  His meniscus and other ligaments are intact and no surgery is needed.

Sessions has appeared in all 61 games this season, with averages of 14.4 points, 3.8 assists and 2.8 rebounds in 27.1 minutes.

The Bobcats have a 13-48 record, which is worst in the NBA. They are led in scoring by Kemba Walker at 17.2 points per game. Sessions is their second-leading scorer. He’s followed by Gerald Henderson, who averages 13.2 ppg.

LeBron James will marry longtime girlfriend Savannah Brinson in mid-September in San Diego, Cal., according to several reports, including Chris Chase’s for USAToday.com.

James, 28, was born in Akron and played his first seven NBA seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers before leaving as a free agent to join the Miami Heat in the summer of 2010.

The USA Today report includes a look at the invitation, which apparently doesn’t give a specific date for the wedding ceremony, referring to “September 13-15, 2013.”

James, a three-time NBA MVP, and Brinson have two sons, LeBron Jr., 8, and Bryce, 5.

– Reported by the Cleveland Plain Dealer

Cavaliers coach Byron Scott says he would consider shutting down All-Star guard Kyrie Irving again if his right knee is still sore.

After scoring 20 points and leading the Cavs to a comeback win over Utah on Wednesday night, Irving said his knee still hurt and the only way it would get better is if he sat out the rest of the season. The Cavs recently rested Irving for three games after he hyperextended his knee when he banged it during practice.

– Reported by Tom Withers of the Associated Press

Austin Rivers out 4-6 weeks with broken hand

New Orleans Hornets rookie guard Austin Rivers will miss four to six weeks with a broken bone in his right hand, according to a USA Today report.

Rivers fractured fourth metacarpal bone during the first half of Wednesday’s loss to the Los Angeles Lakers. He smacked his hand on teammate Greivis Vasquez’s body after making a steal. He exited the game for good with 4:28 left in the second quarter.

– Reported by the Sports Xchange

marcin gortat injury

Phoenix Suns center Marcin Gortat today underwent an MRI that revealed a Lisfranc (midfoot) sprain in his right foot.  The injury is expected to sideline him for approximately three to four weeks.

The 6-11, 245-pound center sustained the injury with 34.6 seconds remaining in the first quarter of the Suns’ game against the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday.  Including last night’s game, Gortat has appeared in every game since being acquired by the Suns on Dec. 18, 2010—182 consecutive.  He has started 138 consecutive games for Phoenix, every game since March 27, 2011, and is the only Sun to start every game this season.  He owns season averages of 11.1 points, 8.5 rebounds and 1.61 blocks in 61 games (61 starts).

With a 21-40 record, the Suns have been one of the league’s worst teams this season, and being without Gortat will only make things worse.

Game on the line, LeBron James knew he was going to get to the rim.

And he delivered.

James scored 26 points, including a go-ahead layup after getting past DeQuan Jones with 3.2 seconds left, and the Heat scrambled late to beat the Orlando Magic 97-96 on Wednesday night and extend their franchise-record winning streak to 16 games.

”I had no intention of shooting another jumper,” James said.

He missed a pair of 3-pointers about 90 seconds earlier, so he went for the 3-footer instead. From the right wing, James drove diagonally through the lane, then used his left hand - after all, he is left-handed - for the basket that won it for Miami. It was the first time he came up with what became a game-winning basket in the final five seconds of a game since a 3-pointer beat the Magic in the 2009 playoffs, according to STATS LLC…

Dwyane Wade scored 24 points on 10-for-16 shooting - he’s now shooting 62 percent in his last seven games - and Chris Bosh added 17 points and 10 rebounds for the Heat, who blew a 20-point, second-half lead and then rallied from a five-point deficit in the final minutes.

Nik Vucevic had 25 points and 21 rebounds for the Magic, who got 16 points apiece from Jameer Nelson and Tobias Harris, 13 from Arron Afflalo and 12 from Maurice Harkless…

The foul discrepancy in the game - 30 for the Magic, 17 by Miami - was a hot topic in the Orlando locker room afterward. The Magic went 10 for 12 from the foul line, Miami 27 of 31.

– Reported by Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press

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