Archive for March 19th, 2013

Ty Lawson scored 25 points, Andre Miller had 20 points and nine assists and the Denver Nuggets beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 114-104 Tuesday night to win a 13th straight game for the first time since joining the NBA.

The Nuggets trailed by one at halftime but took control in the third quarter and never let Oklahoma City reclaim the lead. Denver moved within 3 1/2 games of the Thunder in the Northwest Division and became the first team this season to beat Oklahoma City three times.

It’s also a big win in the chase for home-court advantage in the playoffs for Denver, which is tied with Miami for the NBA’s best home record at 30-3.

Kevin Durant had 34 points and Russell Westbrook chipped in 25 for Oklahoma City, which lost at home for just the fifth time this season.

The Thunder gave up a season-worst 72 points in the paint - Denver’s specialty - as both teams struggled throughout the game from 3-point range. The Nuggets had 66 and 60 points in the lane in wins against Oklahoma City in Denver earlier this season.

Denver’s previous longest winning streak in the NBA was 12 straight games in 1982. The franchise won 15 in a row in the ABA.

– Reported by Jeff Latzke of the Associated Press

The Milwaukee Bucks had to hold back a strong rally after pulling off one of their own two days earlier.

Brandon Jennings scored 24 points and Monta Ellis added 21 to help Milwaukee hang on for a 102-95 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday night.

Milwaukee rallied from an 11-point deficit at the start of the fourth quarter Sunday against Orlando and went on to a 115-109 victory over the visiting Magic.

”That’s been our main concern,” said Ellis, who was hit hard on his left hand late in the game but said X-rays were negative. ”We just wanted to come out with a lot of energy. We didn’t want to play with this team and try to climb back like we had to do (Sunday). They made a run, which this is the NBA. But we were able to close the game out.”

Ellis added nine rebounds, eight assists, three steals and matched a career high with three blocks for Milwaukee, which outscored Portland 31-8 in the second quarter.

The Blazers finished with their fewest points in any period this season after shooting a woeful 2 for 20 from the field to go with six turnovers in the quarter. It was also the lowest total the Bucks gave up in any quarter…

Wesley Matthews hit a career high seven 3-pointers and scored 28 points, and LaMarcus Aldridge added 21 points and 14 rebounds for the Trail Blazers, who lost for the 10th time in their last 11 road games.

– Reported by David Boehler of the Associated Press

Pacers beat struggling Magic 95-73

Paul George scored 19 points and Tyler Hansbrough had 14 points and 14 rebounds, leading the Indiana Pacers to a 95-73 rout of the struggling Orlando Magic on Tuesday night.

The Pacers improved to 27-8 at home despite playing without second-leading scorer David West because of a sprained lower back.

Maurice Harkless and Arron Afflalo each had 10 points for the Magic, who lost their fourth straight on a night they shot just 31.8 percent from the field and coach Jacque Vaughn Jacque Vaughn was ejected in a flurry of four technical fouls with 4:47 left in the third quarter.

The Central Division-leading Pacers closed the first quarter on a 12-0 run to take a 19-12 lead, led 42-29 at the half, and 62-44 in the third quarter after the technicals. Orlando couldn’t get closer than 12 the rest of the way.

How miserable was it?

Indiana started the game by missing its first six 3-point attempts, but Orlando missed its final 11 shots in the first quarter and barely avoided matching the franchise’s all-time low scoring total in the first half - needing a tip-in with 29.1 seconds left in the second quarter to top the 27 points they scored at Houston on Jan. 24, 2005.

– Reported by Michael Marot of the Associated Press

Jazz decide not to keep Travis Leslie

Travis Leslie emerged from the locker room before practice in sweats. He walked over to the few players and coaches already on the court. He shook hands and disappeared back into the locker room and back to the D-League.

Ten days after it began for Leslie, his stint as a member of the Utah Jazz was over.

The Jazz opted not to sign Leslie to a second 10-day contract after the athletic D-League All-Star Game MVP, who before his call-up played for the Santa Cruz Warriors, did not appear in a game in a brief stint with the team.

“He did nothing wrong,” coach Tyrone Corbin said.

– Reported by Bill Oram of the Salt Lake Tribune

Tony Parker participates in practice for Spurs

All-Star point guard Tony Parker participated in his first full practice since suffering a Grade 2 left ankle sprain almost three weeks ago, Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich said Tuesday.

Popovich ruled Parker out for Wednesday’s home game against Golden State, but said again that the Frenchman will likely beat the initial one-month timeline given after his injury against Sacramento on March 1. The Spurs follow the Warriors with Utah at home on Friday, Houston on the road on Sunday and Denver at home next Wednesday.

“I think it will be sooner than four weeks, but it won’t be tomorrow,” Popovich said. “He did everything today. It’s very encouraging.”

The Spurs are 5-2 without Parker, a likely MVP candidate in the midst of arguably his best season.

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

Tyson Chandler, Kurt Thomas out with injuries

The ancient Knicks returned home from their West Coast trip with lousy MRI exam news for their big men Tyson Chandler and Kurt Thomas.

Chandler, who hoped he would be back for Wednesday’s game vs. Orlando, took an MRI exam on his neck and it revealed a bulging disk in his cervicalspine and he will miss approximately one more week.

Thomas, 40, got the game ball Monday night after the win in Utah and he also got bad news on his right foot. Tuesday’s MRI exam and Cat-scan showed he has an acute stress reaction surrounding a chronic stress fracture and will miss 2-4 weeks. The longer end of the timetable for Thomas would put him out until the playoffs, if he returns at all.

– Reported by Marc Berman of the New York Post

An innocent slip of the foot turned into a life-changing experience for Chris Wright.

That slip, which occurred last March while Wright was playing basketball in Turkey, ultimately led to the 6-1 point guard discovering that he was suffering from multiple sclerosis, a disease which impacts the brain and spinal cord when the protective sheaths around the nerves are damaged.

“I was in practice running sprints and at the end of practice I went down to touch the line and came up and I slipped,’’ Wright said. “My foot gave out and I thought nothing of it.

“I thought I just slipped, but eventually it got worse and I had numbness in my right foot, and then it started the next month to progress to the whole right side of my body. I lost basically all sensation, and I went to the doctor and that’s when they diagnosed me with MS.’’

– Reported by Dwain Price of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram

andray blatche

Andray Blatche says money won’t mean much when he negotiates his next contract this summer, and there are complicated circumstances that give you reason to believe him.

In other words, Brooklyn – which won’t have cap space and doesn’t own Blatche’s Bird Rights – has an opportunity to re-sign its top free agent.

“I’m very aware (of my unique situation),” Blatche told the Daily News. “That’s what I’m saying. Everybody is probably thinking I’m looking to get that big check. I’m not. Not at all. I’m looking at what’s best for me.”

So what is best for the 26-year-old center?

“An opportunity to continue to play and win.”

– Reported by Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News

Did Coach Mike D’Antoni run his players into the ground with heavy minutes on back-to-back nights?

Sure, but did that have anything to do with the loss in Phoenix on Monday night?

“We’ve been playing a seven-man rotation, and I think it caught up with us,” said Steve Nash after the game.

It’s not like D’Antoni had any other choice. He could have tried to work in Robert Sacre, Darius Morris, Chris Duhon or Devin Ebanks, but D’Antoni would have certainly preferred Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol or even Jordan Hill — but none was available.

Injuries have been the reality for the Lakers all season. D’Antoni won’t get a full roster for his entire initial season with the team. It hasn’t happened and it won’t with Hill out for the year (hip).

– Reported by Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times (Blog)

Of the 14 remaining games this season, 11 come against teams that are playoff-locks or opponents on the fringe (Lakers, Utah, ) with attainable post-season aspirations.

“It’s not an easy stretch, but it’s the type of challenge you want,” Mason said. “For us, I think it will be a good measure of where our heart is at and how we compete going into next season.

“We have to learn. Obviously this has been a tough stretch here. No one is going to come to save us. It’s going to come (from) within. I think we have a resilient group. I’m excited about these next few games to see how we respond. It’s always run to see how things go when there’s a challenge ahead. And we have a challenge ahead right now, but I think we’ll be OK.”

The biggest challenge for the Hornets, though, will be to rediscover how to play defense.

– Reported by Jimmy Smith of the New Orleans Times-Picayune

Dion Waiters

Cavaliers guard Dion Waiters left last night’s game vs. the Indiana Pacers at Quicken Loans Arena during the first half with left knee soreness and did not return to play. Waiters was examined at Cleveland Clinic Sports Health today by Cavaliers Head Team Physician Dr. Richard Parker.

The exam, including an MRI, revealed a small, loose cartilage fragment in his left knee.

Waiters will be OUT for approximately one week while he undergoes a period of rest, treatment and additional observation and examination.

Following this period, and based on the continued evaluation of his knee, next steps regarding his treatment and recovery will be established, including the potential for an arthroscopic procedure.

Mark Cuban thinks Dirk Nowitzki will stay elite for years

If Dirk Nowitzki put up his post-All-Star break numbers all season long, he probably wouldn’t have been able to take a midseason vacation on a Mexican beach.

Since his 11-year streak of All-Star appearances was snapped, Nowitzki has averaged 18.3 points and 8.8 rebounds per game, shooting 49.5 percent from the floor and 50 percent from 3-point range.

“What we’re seeing now with Dirk is what we can expect to see next year and the year after, if he stays healthy,” Mark Cuban said. “And the year after that.”

Three more years of All-Star caliber play from a power forward who turns 35 this summer?

“At least,” Cuban said.

“I’m not sure about all that,” Nowitzki said. “We’ll just have to wait and see. Hopefully I can finish this season strong and have a good summer like I basically did last year with a lot of lifting and running and hopefully not have a setback with a surgery. We’ll see how consistent I can be again next season.”

– Reported by Tim MacMahon of ESPN Dallas

The 2013 WNBA preseason starts May 9

Start date of 2013 WNBA preseason games is May 9

The WNBA will tip off the 2013 campaign with a slate of 14 preseason games in 14 cities, competing against league and international teams, beginning on May 9 when the Tulsa Shock hosts the Atlanta Dream at the BOK Center. For the fourth consecutive year WNBA teams will face international competition during the preseason as both the Brazilian and Japanese Women’s National Teams are scheduled to visit.

The Phoenix Mercury, owner of the first overall selection in the 2013 WNBA Draft presented by State Farm, will host the Japanese National Women’s Basketball Team on May 19, while the Brazilian National Women’s Basketball Team will visit both the Atlanta Dream (May 13) and the Washington Mystics (May 15).

The new-look Shock, who will select third overall in the draft, will take to the court after acquiring a pair of accomplished veterans in a three-team trade this winter – Nicole Powell (from New York) and Candice Wiggins (from Minnesota).  In addition to hosting Atlanta, Tulsa will visit the Seattle Storm on May 17 and the Los Angeles Sparks on May 19. The Chicago Sky, owner of the No. 2 overall pick in the Draft, will host the New York Liberty (May 15 at Chicago State University).

The defending WNBA champion Indiana Fever, led by 2012 WNBA Finals MVP Tamika Catchings, will play a home-and-away series against the San Antonio Silver Stars.  The All-Star laden Minnesota Lynx, featuring Maya Moore, Seimone Augustus, Lindsay Whalen, and Rebekkah Brunson, will prepare for a run at a third consecutive WNBA Finals presented by Boost Mobile appearance by hosting Washington on May 18 in Bismarck, N.D. and closing out the WNBA’s preseason at home vs. Connecticut on May 21.

Los Angeles, which reached the Western Conference Finals last season behind All-Star Candace Parker, WNBA Rookie of the Year Nneka Ogwumike, and WNBA Most Improved Player Kristi Toliver, added veteran free agent Lindsey Harding to the mix and will host a pair of games in Southern California – Seattle (May 12 at Long Beach State) and Tulsa (May 19 at the University of California-Riverside).

The 2013 preseason will also mark the return of a pair of head coaches with WNBA championships to their credit. Bill Laimbeer, head coach and general manager of the Liberty, will lead his new team in a pair of preseason tilts against the Connecticut Sun, who are led by new head coach Anne Donovan. Laimbeer coached the Detroit Shock to WNBA titles in 2003, 2006, and 2008, and Donovan guided the Seattle Storm to the championship in 2004. New York first visits Connecticut on May 11 and the two teams will meet again on May 18 in Newark, N.J.

The WNBA will open its 17th regular season as part of WNBA Tip-Off 2013 presented by Boost Mobile on Friday, May 24, when Catchings leads the Fever into San Antonio to face the Silver Stars.  WNBA Tip-Off 2013 presented by Boost Mobile will feature a total of six games including a nationally televised doubleheader on ESPN2 on Memorial Day, Monday, May 27, featuring the Mystics at the Shock (3 p.m. ET) followed by the Sky at the Mercury (5 p.m. ET).  The Memorial Day games are likely to include the debuts of the top four picks from the highly anticipated 2013 WNBA Draft presented by State Farm, widely considered to be one of the most anticipated draft classes ever.

The Los Angeles Clippers announced today that they have signed guard Maalik Wayns to a second 10-day contract.

Wayns appeared in one game for the Clippers, scoring two points and dishing out five assists in a 129-97 win over the Detroit Pistons on March 10.

Wayns, who was the 23rd D-League to NBA “Call-Up” of the 2012-13 season, averaged 12.4 points and 3.0 assists in nine games (three starts) for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers of the NBA Development League this season.

The 6’2” undrafted Villanova product started the season in the NBA with the Philadelphia 76ers and appeared in 21 games for the Sixers. In those 21 games (one start), he averaged 2.7 points and 1.0 assist in 7.8 minutes of play.

The Chicago Bulls today signed Los Angeles D-Fenders forward Malcolm Thomas to a 10-day contract.

Thomas is one of 122 players on NBA rosters with NBA D-League experience.

Thomas (6-9, 225, San Diego State) returns to the NBA following a 10-day stint with the Golden State Warriors.  During that earlier Call-Up, he played in five games for Golden State, scoring three points in 21 minutes and was assigned to the team’s NBA D-League affiliate, the Santa Cruz Warriors, for one game when he scored eight points in 39 minutes.  Prior to earning the call from the Warriors, Thomas played in one game for the D-Fenders, a 99-86 victory over the Texas Legends on March 6, when he scored 13 points and grabbed 17 rebounds in 41 minutes.

A veteran of 19 regular season games last season with the D-Fenders, Thomas averaged 13.8 points, 9.3 rebounds and 32.3 minutes during that stretch.  In seven postseason games for the team during the 2011-12 season, he averaged 17.9 points, 12.3 rebounds and 34.6 minutes, as the D-Fenders advanced to the 2012 NBA D-League Finals.  He also saw NBA D-League action with the Austin Toros and Rio Grande Valley Vipers on assignment last season.

Today’s “Call-Up” to Chicago marks the fourth of Thomas’ career, including earning the call from Golden State earlier this year and signing with the San Antonio Spurs and Houston Rockets from the D-Fenders last season.  He has scored four NBA career points in 36 minutes over eight games.

Thomas is expected to join the Bulls today and be available when the team hosts the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday, March 21.

Indiana Pacers All-Star Paul George defended himself and dismissed any thought that he was a dirty player before the Pacers’ game against the Cavaliers on Monday.

George involuntarily found himself caught in the fallout of Kobe Bryant’s ankle injury when Cavs guard Daniel Gibson over the weekend accused George of perhaps intentionally trying to hurt him last season.

“I’m not a dirty player,” George said Monday. “A young guy doesn’t come into the league being a dirty player. But whatever he wants to say, he can say.”

George was a second-year guard last season when Gibson landed on his foot during a game. Gibson wound up with a torn tendon that needed to be surgically repaired and ended his season. Gibson said his foot still isn’t 100 percent healthy.

– Reported by Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal

richard hamilton

After tiptoeing around the question last week, coach Tom Thibodeau on Monday didn’t rule out that Richard Hamilton could be sidelined for the remainder of the season with his back injury.

“There’s an unknown,” Thibodeau said. “It’s a back, so those things are tricky. We’ll just have to wait and see.”

Hamilton missed his ninth straight game. The veteran guard was a surprise late scratch before the Feb. 28 home game against the 76ers after scoring six points in 18 minutes on Feb. 26 against the Cavaliers.

Hamilton has missed 59 of 132 games since signing his two-year, $10 million deal, which carries a $1 million buyout for next season’s team option.

– Reported by K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune

Dwight Howard leaves business manager after 9 years

Dwight Howard is growing all on his own, single-mindedly focused on who he wants to be, and he has taken another major step forward in his career by leaving the business manager who has been Howard’s primary advisor his entire career, Kevin Samples.

“We had nine great years together,” Howard told me late Monday night. “Just time to go separate ways.”

For all the intangible growth Howard has discovered recently, breaking away from Samples is a concrete gesture that the past is the past – and Howard is confident in calling his own shots in the future.

“I know what I want to accomplish,” Howard said. “I’ve always written down my goals and everything I want, and I want to make sure I get ‘em. Everything I’ve lost, everything that’s gone away, I’m going to get it back.”

Samples came to Los Angeles with Howard after the trade to the Lakers, and it was hard to envision him not being around considering they’re actually first cousins – and Howard’s parents dispatched Samples to live with Howard in Orlando right after the 2004 NBA draft as a big brother/guidance counselor/business manager.

– Reported by Kevin Ding of the Orange County Register

Suns beat banged-up Lakers 99-76

Luis Scola

A worn-out Los Angeles Lakers team without Kobe Bryant fell apart in the fourth quarter in Phoenix.

Luis Scola scored all 14 of his points, including his second 3-pointer of the season, and grabbed eight of his nine rebounds in the fourth quarter Monday night and the Suns pulled away for a 99-76 rout of the Lakers, without Bryant for the second night in a row.

”I thought the game was kind of on the line,” Scola said, ”and I was just trying to be aggressive.”

Steve Nash scored 19 against his former team, but was just 6 of 17 from the field as the Lakers shot 33 percent for the game.

”We just hit the wall,” Nash said, ”our ninth game in 14 days in seven cities and you could just kind of see the wheels fall off. Especially lately, with some guys being injured, we’ve been playing a seven-man rotation and I think it caught up with us a little bit. Our legs just came undone.”

The Suns, blown out at Washington 127-105 two nights earlier, outscored the Lakers 28-10 in the fourth quarter to snap a four-game losing streak…

Dwight Howard had 16 points and 11 rebounds, but was just 6 of 18 from the field for the Lakers, still without injured Pau Gasol.

Wesley Johnson added 14 points for the Suns, who beat the Lakers in Phoenix for the fourth time in a row…

Goran Dragic had 12 points and 10 assists for the Suns, who had six players in double figures. Jared Dudley scored 13, Kendall Marshall 11 and Michael Beasley 10 for Phoenix.

– Reported by Bob Baum of the Associated Press

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