Archive for April 6th, 2014

Atlanta got Indiana at exactly the right time.

The Pacers couldn’t shoot early, couldn’t defend most of the night, couldn’t protect their home court and kept All-Star center Roy Hibbert on the bench for the final 30 minutes — all against a team that still hasn’t clinched a playoff spot.

Jeff Teague scored 25 points in his hometown, Pero Antic finished with 18 and the Hawks handed the NBA’s best home team an embarrassing 107-88 loss Sunday that could have a major impact on playoff seeding in the East.

“I think as many games as we play, sometimes you just have a half like that,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “I think we participated in it some, but I think we just caught them on a rough night.”

The truth is the Hawks (34-42) are back on track.

– Associated Press

LeBron James couldn’t wake up Sunday. He was sluggish when his alarm went off at 8 a.m. and still in a funk when the Miami Heat and New York Knicks tipped off five hours later.

He eventually got into form, just in time to perhaps doom the Knicks’ playoff chances.

James scored 38 points and the Heat survived an NBA-record 22 3-point attempts from New York’s J.R. Smith in a 102-91 victory that kept Miami atop the Eastern Conference standings…

Chris Bosh added 14 points and Ray Allen had 12 for the Heat.

Smith was 11 for 28 from the floor, 10 for 22 from beyond the arc, and took 10 3s in the fourth quarter alone while Carmelo Anthony didn’t attempt a single shot in the period…

Smith finished with 32 for the Knicks, who got 14 from Raymond Felton and 13 from Anthony on 4 for 17 shooting. Anthony has been bothered by a sore right shoulder, but played 44 minutes.

– Associated Press

Here’s the New York Post reporting on Kevin Garnett, who has finally returned to active duty for the 42-34 Brooklyn Nets. Garnett this season is averaging 6.8 points and 6.6 rebounds in 20.8 minutes per game:

Kevin Garnett returns to action for Nets

Kevin Garnett had been away from the Nets for so long that some teammates, and even coach Jason Kidd, joked with him prior to Saturday night’s game against the 76ers that he should be treated like a rookie. And despite being in the 19th year of a Hall of Fame career, Garnett admitted to feeling nervous before stepping on the floor.

But after missing 19 games over the last five weeks because of an ongoing bout with back spasms, Garnett looked as if he hadn’t missed a day, let alone a month. Moving fluidly, Garnett finished with 10 points on 5-for-6 shooting to go with four rebounds, an assist and a block in 13 minutes as the Nets earned a 105-101 victory over the hapless Sixers.

“I’ve been working my [butt] off to get back to where I’m at,” Garnett said after coming through the game with no further back issues. “Obviously I’m not to where I want to be but I felt good, I felt strong. … It’s been a journey to get back to this point, so I’m just trying to contribute at this point.”

Here’s the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporting on Milwaukee Bucks center Larry Sanders, who may be one of the first (if not the first) active NBA players to ever advocate for the use of marijuana:

NBA player Larry Sanders defends his marijuana use

Milwaukee Bucks center Larry Sanders was apologetic about a five-game drug suspension but also vigorously defended his marijuana use in an interview Friday night before the Bucks played the Chicago Bulls at the United Center.

Sanders’ season-long saga took another wrong turn earlier Friday when he was penalized by the league for using marijuana in violation of the NBA/NBPA (National Basketball Players Association) drug program.

Sanders already was sidelined due to right orbital fractures suffered when he was elbowed inadvertently by Houston’s James Harden in a Feb. 8 game, an injury that required surgery…

“It’s something I feel strongly about, just to let you know something personal about me,” Sanders said in an interview with the Journal Sentinel and nba.com. “I will deal with the consequences from it. It’s a banned substance in my league. But I believe in marijuana and the medical side of it. I know what it is if I’m going to use it.

“I study it and I know the benefits it has. In a lot of ways we’ve been deprived. You can’t really label it with so many other drugs that people can be addicted to and have so many negative effects on your body and your family and your relationships and impairment. This is not the same thing.

“The stigma is that it’s illegal. I hate that. Once this becomes legal, this all will go away. But I understand for my work it’s a banned substance. I will deal with the consequences and I apologize again to my fans for that.”

Here’s ESPN Dallas reporting on Dallas Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki, who is a scorer of historical proportions:

Dirk Nowitzki has climbed higher than “The Human Highlight Film.”

The Dallas Mavericks star passed Dominique Wilkins for 11th place on the all-time scoring list Friday night when Nowitzki hit a free throw with 8:47 remaining in the third quarter against the Los Angeles Lakers.

“Unbelievable,” said Nowitzki , who finished with 27 points on 11-of-14 shooting in the Mavs’ 107-95 win, giving him 26,678 points for his career. “It’s been a crazy ride. I used to be a big fan of Dominique. I watched all his dunk contests and the many ways he could score, sometimes missing his own shot and he’d be the person to dunk over two people. He was just so much fun to watch.

“It’s been surreal. It’s been a crazy ride for 16 years, and I’m going to keep competing for a couple more years.”

Saturday in Cleveland, the Bobcats beat the Cavaliers 96-94 in overtime. Cavs guard Kyrie Irving shot 16-of-31 for 44 points in the loss. Watch some video highlights of Irving’s effort:

Magic push past banged-up Timberwolves

The Timberwolves are going to miss the playoffs. With a 38-38 record, they are a full seven games behind the Phoenix Suns. Here’s the Minneapolis Star Tribune reporting on the latest Wolves loss, which came with multiple key players missing:

Timberwolves point guard Ricky Rubio sat slumped at his locker after Saturday’s 100-92 loss at Orlando that in every conceivable way did not resemble a double-overtime victory at Miami the night before.

Two large ice bags covered his knees while he soaked his feet in ice. A smaller ice bag wrapped his right shooting hand.

Not him, too?

“Well,” he said, looking up, “It has been a long season.”

It grew noticeably longer for at least one evening when the Wolves on Saturday turned the clock back to a season ago and a time when they regularly played with as few as nine healthy players.

On Saturday, they began without starters Kevin Love, Kevin Martin and Nikola Pekovic — just their three leading scorers — as well as Shabazz Muhammad and then lost Chase Budinger a minute into the game when he turned his ankle after he was fouled on a dunk attempt.

Sixers fight hard in loss to Nets

Here’s the Philadelphia Inquirer reporting on the 76ers, who are at least working hard and trying to play competitive basketball

Give the 76ers credit: They didn’t quit.

Never mind that their fourth-quarter comeback came against the Brooklyn Nets’ reserves. The fact that the Sixers made things competitive was a moral victory for a team in search of silver linings.

In the end, the Nets escaped with a 105-101 victory Saturday night at the Wells Fargo Center.

“Teams know that we are not going to lay down,” Sixers power forward Thaddeus Young said. “We are going to continue to fight, try to keep pushing.

“. . . We just kept playing, kept playing, kept playing, and then it started to click for us.”

Brooklyn (42-34) had a commanding, 21-point lead with 8 minutes, 28 seconds left in the third quarter. Chipping away, the Sixers (17-60) pulled within 12 points heading into the fourth quarter.

Basketball blog