Archive for March 20th, 2014

James Harden had 28 points with eight assists and the Houston Rockets rolled to an easy 129-106 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Thursday night.

Houston trailed by as many as 10 before using a big run in the second quarter to take the lead and padding the advantage with another run to start the third quarter.

It was Houston’s second straight game without Dwight Howard, who sat out with a strained left ankle. Omer Asik started in his place and filled in ably with a season-high-tying 12 points as the Rockets won for the seventh time in 10 games.

Kevin Love had 29 points and rookie Gorgui Dieng 22 points and 21 rebounds, which were both career-highs.

Ricky Rubio had five points, eight assists and two rebounds for Minnesota a night after posting his third career triple-double with 22 points, 15 assists and 10 rebounds in a 123-122 overtime win at Dallas.

– Associated Press

Nick Young set to return for Lakers

Here’s the Los Angeles Times blog with some good news for the Lakers:

Nick Young set to return for Lakers

Nick Young said he expects to play Friday night when the Lakers (22-45) host the Washington Wizards (35-22).

“I’m feeling good,” Nick Young said. “Ain’t too much Swaggy can’t do out there.”

Young, who gave himself the nickname “Swaggy P,” fractured his left patella (kneecap) on Feb. 5 in a win over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

After returning Feb. 23, playing 19½ minutes against the Brooklyn Nets, Young went back to the sideline after feeling discomfort in the knee.

Celtics will reportedly keep Chris Babb

Here’s ESPN Boston with some Celtics news:

Celtics will reportedly keep Chris Babb

The Boston Celtics will sign rookie swingman Chris Babb for the remainder of the 2013-14 season on Friday, according to a team source.

Babb, whose second 10-day contract was set to expire on Thursday, traveled with the team to New York in advance of Friday’s game against the Brooklyn Nets and will ink a multi-year deal.

That pact should keep Babb with the Celtics through the summer — though with future seasons expected to be nonguaranteed, it could make Babb a trade chip depending on Boston’s offseason activity — and give him a chance to compete again for a roster spot in training camp.

Here’s ESPN Miami reporting on the Heat and one of their former sharpshooters, Mike Miller:

Mike Miller, Heat prepare for Miami reunion

Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade can’t figure out which of the two he misses more about former teammate Mike Miller. For at least one night, though, Wade is certain he doesn’t want to experience either Miller’s laugh or shot much on Friday.

That’s when Miller, unsung hero of the past two NBA Finals for the Heat, returns with the Memphis Grizzlies to face his former team at AmericanAirlines Arena. It’s Miller’s first appearance back in Miami since the Heat waived him with the league’s amnesty clause in a shrewd financial move last summer that still has his former teammates unhappy with the team’s decision.

But the organization hopes to leave any hard feelings in the past Friday, and will use the occasion to present Miller his 2013 championship ring and also honor him with a minute-long video tribute before the start of the Heat’s game against the Grizzlies.

“You have a connection, and it’s special from that standpoint,” Wade said of Miller, who was part of the Heat’s 2010 free-agency signing class highlighted by LeBron James and Chris Bosh. “He was my locker mate. Obviously, his unbelievable shooting ability is something that not many people have, but just his infectious laugh and how he was in the locker room, we miss that. But hopefully we don’t hear him laugh at all when we see him [Friday night].”

The following is an announcement from the Portland Trail Blazers:

While the Portland Trail Blazers are battling toward an NBA Playoff berth on the court, the business side of the organization is setting its sights on major venue improvements off the court. Trail Blazers and Moda Center President & CEO Chris McGowan has announced the first phases of nearly $16 million in upgrades and new concepts for the Moda Center and Rose Quarter; combined with more development of the team training facilities in Tualatin. When completed, the multi-year makeovers will represent the most sweeping changes in the Rose Quarter since it first opened in 1995; and the largest single investment by Trail Blazers Owner Paul Allen in capital improvements for the entire organization.

“What we have in mind for the Moda Center and the Rose Quarter is in direct response to what fans and sponsors have said they’d like to see in a multi-purpose sports and entertainment venue,” said McGowan. “Our owner Paul Allen has always been supportive of investment in our venues and team facilities. During the upcoming offseason, there will be extensive construction around the Moda Center that will raise the level of what guests can experience on almost any night at the Rose Quarter.”

“The initial multi-million dollar upgrades at the team training facility unveiled by General Manager Neil Olshey at the start of this season were the beginning of multiple levels of capital improvements,” said Chris Oxley, General Manager of Rose Quarter Operations and the executive overseeing construction projects. “We’re now expanding the renovations to include Rose Quarter areas that we believe guests and sponsors will be excited to experience. There are also even more improvements coming to the team training facility in 2015 that will place it among the best in the NBA.”

Phase One of the Rose Quarter capital improvements will target refurbishment of 1,800 Club Level Seats inside the Moda Center and the complete renovation of 20 of the arena’s 66 private suites. It will take about two years to eventually renovate all Moda Center suites, according to Anthony Jones-DeBerry, Trail Blazers Vice President of Premium Seating. Also among the changes planned for the Suite Level is the construction of never-before-available “Studio Suites,” as they will be marketed to potential purchasers.

“Our new approach to Premium Seating will be transformational, but will take time to fully complete,” said Jones-DeBerry. “Along with direct feedback from guests, we’ve also factored in research conducted at other entertainment venues around the country. Our goal is to blend totally new concepts with complete renovations and strategic upgrades to the Moda Center.”

“The Studio Suites will offer a unique, more intimate approach to private suite viewing, with seating for four guests and smaller, white linen-covered dining tables,” he added. “We will build twelve Studio Suites, and offer food and beverage packages customized for guest capacities that are smaller than our full-size suites.”

Two longtime offerings on the Club Level will also change beginning with the 2014-15 season. The all-inclusive Chef’s Table that Club Level ticketholders have accessed for many years will be replaced with a multi-option ticket, which includes a $30 credit that guests can use for their preferred method of accessing food, beverages and merchandise in the Moda Center. The prestigious Rose Room will also be upgraded into a private membership-based club catering to guests desiring more business-friendly atmosphere and amenities for a unique dining experience before, during and after games.

“Our arena has lacked a true offering for business-to-business networking and client conversation. The new Rose Room will satisfy that demand with a food and beverage experience only accessible through private membership,” said Jones-DeBerry. “For the Club Level, feedback from guests revealed a desire for something different and more flexible than an all-you-can-eat option. We will offer a Club Level ticket that can be designed specifically around how individual guests want to enjoy a Trail Blazers game. It will include access to the new gourmet concessions and popular restaurant brands now operating in the Moda Center; and the ability to purchase merchandise.”

Guests seated in the lofty 300 Level of the Moda Center are in for a special treat with the building of a new glass-enclosed bar featuring panoramic views of downtown Portland. The space will be a free-flowing design, which opens toward the 300 Level Concourse for easy access. The addition of the bar truly spreads the arena’s upgrades throughout the building, offering something new for every fan.

The list of other Rose Quarter capital improvements also includes:

· Retail kiosks placed on the arena’s upper levels for better access to merchandise;

· A plush new suite holders’ lounge adjacent to the private suites;

· New, environmentally-friendly landscaping around the Rose Quarter;

· Upgrades to Moda Center Wi-Fi access plus installation of a Distributed Antenna System (DAS) for wireless phones;

· Specialty LED lighting encircling the top of the Moda Center and capable of changing colors in connection with Rose Quarter events;

· Complete redesign of the Trail Blazers basketball court as voted on by fans; and

· Refurbishment of the signature fountain on the south end of the Rose Quarter Commons.

Prior to announcing the capital improvements, the Trail Blazers front office invested in consumer research, analytics and direct conversations with ticketholders that provided useful intelligence for planning purposes. Many recent moves, like the addition of popular Portland restaurant icons to the Moda Center’s main level concourse, are linked to feedback from Trail Blazers fans. The just-opened Dr. Jack’s restaurant in the Rose Quarter is a further step in the plan to energize the entire complex.

“This process has evolved at a very strategic pace, with specific outcomes driven by our fans,” McGowan said. “We began the research more than a year ago to get some early guidance to help shape our thinking. By the time this is finished, we anticipate having an exciting sports and entertainment venue where fans feel they’ve contributed to its development.”

Kings forward Carl Landry out for season after knee surgery

The Sacramento Kings announced today that power forward Carl Landry underwent successful arthroscopic right knee surgery performed by Dr. David Altchek at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York.

Landry is expected to make a full recovery and be ready for the 2014-15 NBA campaign.

He played in just 18 games for the Kings this season, averaging 4.2 points in 12.9 minutes per game.

The Kings have a 24-44 record this season, which is the 7th worst record in the NBA.

Devin Ebanks suspended by D-League

The NBA Development League announced today that Devin Ebanks of the NBA D-League’s Springfield Armor has been suspended without pay for five games for violating the league’s Anti-Drug Program.

Ebanks’ suspension will begin tonight when the team hosts the Erie BayHawks.

Knicks sign Shannon Brown for rest of season

The New York Knicks announced today that the team has signed guard Shannon Brown for the remainder of the season.

Brown, 6-4, 210-pounds, is averaging 1.8 points over 6.4 minutes in nine games with New York and had been originally signed to the first of two 10-day contracts on Feb. 27.

The Knicks are just 28-40 this season, but recently hired Phil Jackson as their new team president, and last night beat the Indiana Pacers for their 7th win in a row.

The Miami HEAT announced today that center Justin Hamilton will join the Sioux Falls Skyforce for their NBA Development League home games this Friday and Saturday against the Idaho Stampede. Following Saturday night’s game, he will re-join the HEAT in Miami for their contest against the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday night.

Hamilton, who was signed by the HEAT on March 14, appeared in 37 games (all starts) with the Skyforce earlier this season and averaged 19.3 points, 9.2 rebounds, 2.03 blocks, 1.5 assists and 35.8 minutes while shooting 49.1 percent from the field, 38.5 percent from three-point range and 81.2 percent from the foul line. The 2014 NBA D-League All-Star has not appeared in a game with Miami this season.

Knicks beat Pacers for 7th win in a row

Here’s the New York Post reporting on the Knicks and their recent success:

So you want to impress the new boss. Show up looking all neat and spiffy. Speak clearly and succinctly. If you must, laugh at his jokes.

But most of all, go out and beat the best team in the Eastern Conference.

Phil Jackson had to be impressed.

And when the Knicks pulled off that final part Wednesday, stuffing the 50-victory Pacers, 92-86, before a frenzied, sold out Garden crowd for a seventh straight triumph that kept their dim playoff hopes alive, Jackson might have been sitting among the faithful asking himself, “What the heck do the Knicks need me for?”

“No pressure,” said 34-point, five-assist performer Carmelo Anthony about having the new team president watching about 10 rows up at halfcourt. “The energy is not just in the building. It’s throughout the whole city, all of New York City, the fans, all the supporters of the Knicks and you can feel it as we walk into the building. We want to keep that up. We want to build on that. As far as winning basketball games, we’re playing at a very high level right now.”

Nets winning a lot at home lately

Deron Williams’ confidence is sky high and he’s taking the Brooklyn Nets along for the ride.

With the Nets’ winning streak in jeopardy, Williams scored 23 points, 11 in the final six minutes, to lead Brooklyn to a 104-99 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats on Wednesday night.

The Nets were trailing 85-82 midway through the fourth quarter following Josh McRoberts’ dunk and free throw.

That’s when Williams took over.

He hit a driving layup with 6:00 left, then a 3-pointer on the next possession. He followed that with a steal and two free throws to give the Nets an 89-85 lead with 5:22 remaining.

The home team never trailed again in registering its 10th straight win at the Barclays Center.

– Associated Press

Sixers losing streak reaches 22 games

Down and out or down to the wire, the 76ers are freefalling toward NBA history.

D.J Augustin scored 20 points and Taj Gibson had 19 points and 13 rebounds to lead the Chicago Bulls to a 102-94 win over Philadelphia on Wednesday night, handing the 76ers their 22nd straight loss.

The Sixers are four losses shy of matching the NBA record for the longest single-season losing streak. The Cleveland Cavaliers set the record of 26 consecutive losses in the 2010-11 season. The Vancouver Grizzlies (1995-96), Denver Nuggets (1997-98) and Charlotte Bobcats (2011-12) each lost 23 straight.

“Winnable game,” 76ers coach Brett Brown said. “I say that because a group that’s been losing … still stays together. They still compete. I’m proud of them.”

The Sixers also lost their 17th straight home game since beating Charlotte on Jan. 15. They were 8-11 at home at that point and had already defeated Miami, the Bulls, and Houston in Philadelphia.

– Associated Press

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