Archive for March 13th, 2013

The Atlanta Hawks were mired in a slump. They were missing two key starters. And they were facing Kobe Bryant and the streaking Los Angeles Lakers.

Talk about an unlikely time to get a win.

Devin Harris scored 17 points, Ivan Johnson hit a key basket, and the short-handed Hawks shook off a 20-point third quarter by Bryant for a 96-92 victory Wednesday night, a physical game that was marred in the closing seconds when Bryant went down with a severely sprained left ankle after missing a game-tying shot.

The Lakers said Bryant is out indefinitely, just as the team is pushing for a playoff spot.

”I’ll just do what I have to do” to get back, he said.

Atlanta won for just the second time in eight games despite missing Josh Smith and Jeff Teague. Six players scored in double figures and everyone contributed to the victory, at least everyone who suited up.

”That’s the way we have to play,” said Kyle Korver, who hit the clinching free throws. ”When we’re missing guys, we can’t just say, ‘You’re the next-best guy on the team, you take all the shots.’ That’s a recipe for disaster.”

Bryant took a lot of shots for the Lakers - 33 in all - but he couldn’t knock down the one that mattered.

Then he couldn’t get up…

Bryant finished with 31 points, but made just 11 of those 33 shots.

– Reported by Paul Newberry of the Associated Press

Roy Hibbert knew he was going to get the ball. It was just up to him what he was going to do with it.

It’s been a slow process for the Indiana Pacers’ center to playing up to expectations - a process that has stretch over the course of much of the season.

However, when teammate Paul George told him before the game he was getting the ball, Hibbert capitalized by scoring a season-high 27 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Pacers to a 107-91 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday night…

Hibbert is just a piece of the puzzle and starting to fit in place quite comfortably. Along with the season-best scoring night, had nine offensive boards and four blocks.

”Roy Hibbert was the star of the game,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. ”He was dominant at both ends. You can see in his body language he is playing more confident.”

George had 17 points and George Hill added 16 points with six assists to help the Pacers get their second win in three games and remain in the hunt with the New York Knicks for the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference.

Ricky Rubio had 21 points and 10 assists and Luke Ridnour scored 17 points for the Timberwolves, who have lost nine of their last 11 games.

– Reported by Jim Johnson of the Associated Press

Washington Wizards point guard John Wall and coach Randy Wittman got in each other’s faces. Then, after Wittman momentarily walked away, they got in each other’s faces again.

Whatever was said during that third-quarter timeout Wednesday night worked.

Wall had 23 points and 10 assists, and the Wizards beat the Milwaukee Bucks 106-93.

The exchange came as Washington was blowing a 20-point, second-half lead, but Wall rallied with eight fourth-quarter points to hold off the Bucks.

“Oh, that’s coaching. C’mon,” Wittman said emphatically. “I love that.”

Wall said the dispute centered around how the Wizards defended Ersan Ilyasova who finished with 21 points and 12 rebounds.

“Just us being both competitive and being on different pages,” Wall said. “But we talked about it, and we did a great job in the fourth quarter of keeping Ilyasova from getting hot.”

As Martell Webster said of Wall, “He is a competitor, and he feels like he has to be Superman.”-
- Reported by the Associated Press

Heat beat Sixers for 20th straight win

LeBron James missed once, then again, whiffing on two easy looks at the rim that could have left Miami shaken.

Like a good teammate, Dwyane Wade swooped in for the saving tip, preserving the lead and keeping the Heat’s amazing win streak rolling.

James scored 27 points and the Heat became the fourth team to win at least 20 consecutive games in a season, beating the Philadelphia 76ers 98-94 on Wednesday night.

Against a struggling Sixers team that was revved up like a playoff game, the Heat just found a way to win.

And when it was done, they took the time to admire their mark.

”Twenty is special,” Wade said. ”Win 20 games in a row, it’s awesome. You can’t get around it. We’re going to try to go for the next one.”

Wade scored 21 as the Heat needed big baskets over the final 2 minutes to top the Sixers for the milestone win. He stuck with the ball on James’ misses and scored the clutch tip that made it a three-point lead with 29 seconds left and squashed the Sixers’ upset bid.

– Reported by Dan Gelston of the Associated Press

Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love had his surgically repaired right hand examined on Wednesday and was given the green light to increase his conditioning program.

But the two-time All-Star was not cleared to begin full-contact drills, according to the Pioneer Press. Love will be re-evaluated in two to three weeks.

Dr. Michelle Carlson, performed the surgery on Love’s hand on Jan. 15 in New York.

– Reported by the Sports Xchange

Sam Mitchell once banned Andrea Bargnani from shooting 3-pointers

Mitchell, who coached Toronto from 2004 through 2008, said he set aside one 10-game stretch where he forbade Bargnani from taking a three-point shot. He said he went so far as to tell the young Italian he would remove him from the game if he stopped to shoot from beyond the arc.

“My thing was, I wanted him to understand he used the three-pointer as a crutch,” he said. “He relied on it too much. I wanted him to use the three-pointer as a weapon. I wanted him to realize that, from 17 feet in, in one dribble, Andrea could get anywhere on the basketball court.”

Mitchell, who has spoken of management’s interference before, would not go into the specifics of what upper management told him. He would not offer names.

“Maybe, looking back, if I ever coach again and I want to do something like that, I’ll sit down with the general manager first and say, ‘this is what I want to do, this is why I’m going to do it, and after these 10 games, I’m going to turn him loose,’” he said.

– Reported by Sean Fitz-Gerald of the National Post

Calf still bothering Shawn Marion

Calf still bothering Shawn Marion

Dallas Mavericks forward Shawn Marion has been ruled out of Thursday’s game against the San Antonio Spurs and will be re-evaluated Friday morning by team doctor T.O. Souryal.

Marion has missed the previous three games because of a bruised left calf suffered during the Mavs’ March 6 win over the Houston Rockets. The Mavs had considered Marion to be day to day, but the calf has not been recovering as well as anticipated.

– Reported by Tim MacMahon of ESPN Dallas

The Los Angeles D-Fenders, of the NBA Development League, have acquired former 2010 first round NBA Draft pick Craig Brackins, it was announced today.

Brackins, a 6-10, 230 pound forward, most recently played for Angelico Biella (Italy) where he was voted to the Italian SerieA All-Star Game.  The 21st overall selection in the 2010 NBA Draft, Brackins joined the Oklahoma City Thunder and was subsequently moved on draft day to the New Orleans Hornets before ultimately landing with the Philadelphia 76ers.  In 17 career NBA games with the 76ers, Brackins averaged 1.8 points (30 total points), 1.1 rebounds (19 total rebounds) and 0.5 assists (9 total assists) in 7.1 minutes per game.  Brackins also brings NBA Development League experience to the D-Fenders, averaging 19.7 points, 8.8 rebounds and 2.2 assists in 25 career games with the Springfield Armor and Maine Red Claws.

A standout at Iowa State University, Brackins was named to the All-Big 12 First Team (2009) and All-Big 12 Second Team (2010) and received an Associated Press NCAA All-America Honorable Mention nod (2009).  In three seasons at Iowa State, Brackins averaged 16.0 points and 7.7 rebounds over 96 games, finishing his career ranked 12th all-time in points scored (1,539) and eighth in rebounds (736).

The Cleveland Cavaliers today re-assigned rookie forward Kevin Jones to the Canton Charge, Cleveland’s NBA Development League affiliate.  The assignment is the sixth of Jones’ career and the record 152nd of the 2012-13 NBA and NBA D-League seasons.  Jones is one of the record 56 players to have been assigned to the NBA D-League this season.

Jones (6-8, 260, West Virginia) has appeared in 19 games for Cleveland this season, averaging 2.1 points, 1.7 rebounds and 9.0 minutes.

In four previous stints with Canton this season, Jones appeared in nine games, averaging 22.4 points, 12.1 rebounds and 38.2 minutes. In his last assignment with Canton on March 2, Jones recorded a 17-point, 12-rebond double-double as the Charge defeated the Springfield Armor 112-111.

Jones is expected to join Canton today and be available when the team hosts the Bakersfield Jam at 7 p.m. ET.

InsideHoops.com editor says: The Cavs love sending Jones to the D-League. It’s fun. It’s the team’s favorite current hobby. It’s in right now.

Andrea Bargnani out for rest of season with elbow injury

The Toronto Raptors announced Wednesday that forward Andrea Bargnani is expected to be sidelined for the remainder of the 2012-13 season with an avulsion sprain of the right elbow. This injury is not related to his previous right elbow injury that sidelined him for 26 games (December 12 - February 3).

Bargnani left at the 3:08 mark in the first quarter March 8 against the Los Angeles Lakers and did not return. He appeared in 14 of 15 games prior to this injury, including four straight starts (March 2-8).

Bargnani this season was averaging just 12.7 points and 3.7 rebounds per game, on just 40% shooting from the field.

The 25-39 Raptors are currently the 9th seed in the Eastern conference, but a full eight games behind the Milwaukee Bucks at 8th.

InsideHoops.com editor says: The Raptors appeared to be ready to flirt with making the playoffs in the East, but they’re pretty far behind the 8th spot right now. As for Bargnani, he was having a disappointing season, and I’m not sure this will affect them as the season winds down.

New York Knicks Legend and Basketball Hall of Famer Patrick Ewing has wanted to work for the team — as a head or at least assistant coach — for quite some time now.

Well, this is something, at least.

Ewing will join MSG Network’s postgame coverage of the Knicks on Wednesday, March 20 when the team faces the Orlando Magic and on Sunday, March 31 when the Knicks take on the Boston Celtics. Both games are at Madison Square Garden and start at 7:30 p.m.

Immediately following each game, the 11-time NBA All-Star will appear on MSG’s Knicks postgame coverage, including the “Ford Knicks Postgame Show” and “Knicks Extra,” with host Al Trautwig and analyst Alan Hahn from the Geico MSG Studios.

“It’s always good to be back at The Garden,” said Ewing. “The Garden is home, New York is home, and the fans always appreciated what I brought to the table when I played. I’m really looking forward to working with MSG, it will be a great learning experience for me, and I’m excited to be on the other side of the mic.”

“With Patrick Ewing in our studio and Walt ‘Clyde’ Frazier in the Arena, we will arguably have two of the greatest Knicks of all-time on our game coverage for these two games,” said Daniel Ronayne, executive vice president and general manager, MSG Networks. “Patrick’s knowledge of the team and New York basketball will give viewers a unique perspective on the results of both games.”

The Dallas Mavericks announced today that they have signed free agent guard Chris Wright to a 10-day contract.

Wright (6-1, 210) played collegiately at Georgetown and went undrafted in the 2011 NBA Draft. He spent the 2012 training camp with the New Orleans Hornets before joining the Iowa Energy of the NBA Development League for the 2012-13 campaign.

According to ESPN Dallas, “Wright became the first-known NBA player to acknowledge having multiple sclerosis when he signed a 10-day deal with Dallas and joined the Mavs in San Antonio. That’s a fact that Wright is especially proud of after earning a call-up from the D-League. “That’s definitely one of the things I pride myself on, being the face of it and being an inspiration and motivation for people to keep fighting.” said Wright, who averaged 15.5 points, 7.0 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 1.6 steals for the Iowa Energy this season to earn a D-League All-Star bid. “I made history with this.”

In 38 games (all starts) for the Energy, Wright averaged 15.5 points, 4.3 rebounds, 7.0 assists, 1.6 steals and 37.0 minutes per game en route to earning NBA Development League All-Star honors.

A native of Bowie, Md., Wright played professionally for Olin Edime of the Turkish Basketball League in 2011-12.

Wright is expected to join the team in San Antonio and be available for the game against the Spurs on March 14. He will wear No. 8 for the Mavericks.

The Mavericks’ roster now stands at 15 players.

Bobcats likely adding Jannero Pargo

Bobcats likely adding Jannero Pargo

The Charlotte Bobcats plan to sign eight-season NBA veteran Jannero Pargo on Wednesday to shore up depth at the point guard position, an informed source told the Observer.

For Pargo, 33, this will be his seventh NBA franchise. He spent portions of this season with the Washington Wizards and Atlanta Hawks after previous stints with the Los Angeles Lakers, Toronto Raptors, Chicago Bulls and New Orleans Hornets.

The Bobcats are expected to sign Pargo to a 10-day contract, after the team lost reserve point guard Ramon Sessions for up to a month with a sprained left knee.

– Reported by Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer

The injury-depleted Minnesota Timberwolves beat the injury-depleted San Antonio Spurs 107-83 on Tuesday. With Tony Parker out, Wolves point guard Ricky Rubio went off, shooting 9-of-17 for 21 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists.

Here are video highlight of Rubio’s first NBA career triple-double:

vince carter

Vince Carter may not be able to throw down big dunks like he used to, though he can still knock down big shots.

Carter hit three key 3-pointers in the fourth quarter and scored 23 points off the bench as the Dallas Mavericks won their fourth straight with a 115-108 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday night.

”I felt in the groove,” Carter said. ”The basket just seemed extremely big, and I felt comfortable with my shot. I was just in the flow of the game. A couple of shots, once I let them go, I happened to look down and see the 3-point line was up there. Oops. I know if I don’t make them, Coach is going to yell. But I was just prepared. I had my feet set, in rhythm, just in attack mode.” …

The Mavericks, who are three games out of the eighth spot in the Western Conference playoff race, know now is the time to get going if they are to make the postseason for the 13th consecutive time…

Dirk Nowitzki added 19 points, 17 in the first half, and 11 rebounds, while O.J. Mayo had 14 points. Mavericks rookie and former Marquette star Jae Crowder, last year’s Big East player of the year, was one off his career high with 14 points.

Monta Ellis scored 32 points for the Bucks, giving him 20 or more in all six of Milwaukee’s games this month. Ellis has been putting up big numbers since the All-Star break, averaging 23.7 points.

– Reported by the Associated Press

Ricky rubio first career triple-double

There hasn’t been much to cheer about at Target Center while the Minnesota Timberwolves endure another long, painful march toward another draft lottery.

Wolves fans do have Ricky Rubio, though. And that was enough on Tuesday night.

Rubio had his first career triple-double with 21 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists, leading the Timberwolves to a 107-83 victory over the San Antonio Spurs…

Rubio made 9 of 17 shots and grabbed his 10th board with 9:14 to play in the game, earning a standing ovation from the long-suffering Wolves fans. Alexey Shved broke out of a big slump to score 16 points and Barea had 17 for the Wolves, who hit 12 3-pointers…

Stephen Jackson had 14 points and Danny Green 10 for the Spurs, who left Tim Duncan and Kawhi Leonard at home to rest after they throttled Oklahoma City on Monday night. San Antonio turned the ball over 17 times, leading to 30 points for Minnesota, and shot just 35.4 percent…

”We’ve got to get things together and go back to who we were,” said Manu Ginobili, who had seven points on 2-for-10 shooting. ”Because it’s happening too often now.” …

Duncan and Leonard stayed back in San Antonio for the second half of a back-to-back with what the team called sore left knees. But coach Gregg Popovich has been known to rest players, especially older veterans like Duncan on back-to-backs. Point guard Tony Parker is also out for another few weeks with a sprained left ankle, so the Spurs started Jackson, Matt Bonner and Cory Joseph in their places.

– Reported by Jon Krawczynski of the Associated Press

RELATED: Watch video of Rubio’s triple-double

Brook Lopez scores 26, Nets beat Hornets

Brook Lopez

Having Brook Lopez and Andray Blatche on the floor at the same time worked in a big way for the Nets.

Brooklyn’s big men combined for 44 points in a 108-98 victory over the New Orleans Hornets on Tuesday night.

Lopez led all scorers with 26 points and enjoyed sharing the floor with Blatche, who scored 12 of his 18 points in the second quarter.

”He has such a high basketball IQ,” said Lopez, ”and he plays so well with everyone on the floor, which makes everyone’s job a lot easier.”

Nets interim coach P.J. Carlesimo said the Lopez-Blatche tandem works well with specific match-ups, and considering Brooklyn needed an offensive jolt after Monday’s dismal loss to lowly Philadelphia, the plan worked.

”Andray makes the game easier for me,” said Lopez, who went on a 10-point scoring run himself in the third quarter to preserve a dwindling lead. ”You see Andray playing out there like that, I want him to play the entire game then. The great thing about our bigs, there are a lot of good players there who can do different things, so we can have a lot of combinations.”

Lopez had a monstrous dunk over his twin brother, Robin, with 3:49 left in the third quarter. It’s something the Lopez family will be talking about for years. Robin finished with 15 points and eight rebounds…

Deron Williams had 21 points and 13 assists, continuing his strong play since the All-Star break.

– Reported by Chris R. Vaccaro of the Associated Press

lebron james

Standing at his locker after yet another victory, LeBron James finally acknowledged the obvious.

This winning streak is something for the Miami Heat to savor.

Dwyane Wade scored 23 points and on a night where the stat sheet would suggest a struggle, the Heat rolled once again, extending their winning streak to 19 games and leading wire-to-wire in beating the Atlanta Hawks 98-81 on Tuesday.

”Let’s be honest, guys,” James said. ”We’re not sitting here and saying this is not something special. This is an unbelievable streak that we’re on. We’re playing great basketball. We’re winning in different phases of the game, we’re playing different styles, we’ve won every game, on the road, at home, double-overtime games, end-of-regulation games, whatever the case may be.”

James scored 15 points and Chris Bosh and Mario Chalmers added 14 apiece for the Heat, who matched the fifth-longest streak in NBA history. They will try for their 20th straight win on Wednesday at Philadelphia, the start of a five-game trip.

Only three teams have won at least 20 consecutive games in the same season: the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers (33), the 2007-08 Houston Rockets (22) and the 1970-71 Milwaukee Bucks (20). The Washington Capitols also won 20 straight, spanning the end of the 1947-48 season and the start of the 1948-49 campaign.

”Ten is enough for me,” Bosh said. ”Twenty’s cool. I’d take it.”

Josh Smith scored 15 for the Hawks, who got 12 apiece from Al Horford and Jeff Teague.

– Reported by Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press

Gerald Henderson scores 35, Bobcats beat Celtics

Paul Pierce rested while Gerald Henderson went to work.

Henderson scored a career-high 35 points and Charlotte Bobcats snapped a 10-game losing streak by pounding the lackluster Boston Celtics 100-74 on Tuesday night.

It was Charlotte’s biggest margin of victory since beating the Miami Heat 104-65 on Jan. 20, 2010.

”I was just trying to be aggressive from the start and just attack,” said Henderson, who was 11 of 19 from the field and knocked down all 12 of his foul shots.

Ben Gordon scored 17 points and new starting forward Josh McRoberts had his first double-double for Charlotte with 13 points and 10 rebounds.

When asked if the Bobcats took Doc Rivers’ decision to rest Pierce as a slap in the face, Gordon simply shrugged his shoulders…

Kevin Garnett needed nine points to pass Jerry West and move into 15th place on the NBA’s career scoring list, but was held to just five on 2-of-10 shooting. Jeff Green and Jordan Crawford each had 14 points for the Celtics, who were outrebounded 48-29 by a Bobcats team not known for its prowess on the glass…

The Celtics probably should have been expecting more of a game from the Bobcats after losing in Charlotte earlier in the season. But Rivers decided to sit the 35-year-old Pierce with Boston in the midst of a difficult part of the schedule.

– Reported by Steve Reed of the Associated Press

Lakers center Dwight Howard scores 39 in Orlando

Dwight Howard scored a season-high 39 points, had 16 rebounds and was sent to the free throw line 39 times by his former team as the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Orlando Magic, 106-97 on Tuesday night.

The victory came in Howard’s first return to Orlando since his drama-filled offseason trade to the Lakers. He endured a chorus of boos throughout, and tied his own NBA record for free throw attempts.

The majority of them came as the Magic tried to employ an intentional foul strategy. It backfired, though, as the All-Star center hit on 16 of 20 attempts in the second half.

The victory was the Lakers’ fourth straight.

Jameer Nelson led Orlando with 21 points. The Magic have lost three of their last four and haven’t won back-to-back games since December.

After a week of back-and-forth in the media following some perceived negative comments made about his former team during a television interview, Howard and Nelson spoke briefly just after the final buzzer and shook hands.

It was a light moment in what was mostly a hostile atmosphere.

Homemade signs jeering Howard with sentiments that said everything from ”Coward” to ”Kobe’s Kid” were sprinkled throughout the Amway Center stands.

Boos rained down on the All-Star center almost every time he touched the basketball. They were followed by louder cheers when he missed a free throw.

– Reported by Kyle Hightower of the Associated Press

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