Categories
Olympics

Hey, Beijing, are you ready for these guys?!

Team USA is still looking for that perfect combination of mad skillz and selflessness from the NBA’s best ballers in attempt to erase years of frustration at the hands of its international competition. When the team travels to Beijing in a little over a month, they might be sporting the best roster they’ve had since the first or second “Dream Team” (although we all know that there is really only ONE Dream Team, the original Dream Team). On Monday, the official announcement was wade and here’s the 12 guy’s expected to resurrect the ghosts of Summer Olympics past.

Carmelo Anthony, Denver Nuggets
Carlos Boozer, Utah Jazz
Chris Bosh, Toronto Raptors
Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic
LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers
Jason Kidd, Dallas Mavericks
Chris Paul, New Orleans Hornets
Tayshaun Prince, Detroit Pistons
Michael Redd, Milwaukee Bucks
Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat
Deron Williams, Utah Jazz

There is no doubt the rest of the world has defiantly caught up with America in the b-ball department, but there isn’t a country on the planet able to hang with this group of guards. And just imagine how motivated Bryant will be. The dream of grabbing a ring without the Diesel is over for now, but he can still lead his squad to a gold medal. Not a bad way to cap off a MVP season.

Links:

[ScoresReport.com]: Team USA roster announced

Categories
NBA General

Around the Rim: West’s best finally sort out the mess


1. Set in stone
While the East has been set for a couple of days now, nearly all the playoff pairings in the wild, wild Western Conference weren’t determined until the season’s final games were played. However, now that the playoff picture is crystal clear, everyone can see this is going to be one heckuva of run to the rings. The one/eight seed matchup between Los Angeles and Denver delivers plenty of firepower with three of the league’s top four scorers going at it in a best of seven series. The seventh seeded Mavericks won’t have far to travel when they go against New Orleans, but they’ll be packing a pitiful 17-24 road record to an arena where the Hornets are 30-11. The No. 3 Spurs are going to have their hands full with the Suns and a championship hungry Shaquille O’Neal while Houston has homecourt advantage against the Jazz in a rematch of the only playoff series to go seven games last year.

2. How it happened

When the Hornets face the Mavericks in the first round of the playoffs, they’ll have revenge on their minds. Dallas spanked the Southwest Division champions 111-98 behind Jason Kidd’s 100th triple-double. Kidd showed Chris Paul that he wasn’t quite ready to give up his crown as one of the league’s top point guards just yet, scoring 27 points to go with 10 rebounds and 10 assists. Dirk Nowitzki only scored 12 points on 4-of-16 shooting, but Jason Terry came off the bench to pour in 30 points, including 10 during a 32-8 run spanning the end of the third and beginning of the fourth quarters. The Hornets were led by David West’s 26 points and got solid numbers out of Paul (20 points, 10 ast). The Dallas victory also ensured that Denver would be traveling to Los Angeles for their opening round matchup.

3. The rematch with a little extra Shaq
Perhaps the biggest game of the night played a big role in setting up the biggest first round matchup in this year’s playoffs between two of the game’s most bitter rivals. The Spurs ensured homecourt advantage in the first round by beating Utah 109-80, locking up the third seed. The game was never close as San Antonio rushed out to a 65-39 halftime lead which, coupled with victories by Houston and Phoenix, sets up another instant classic between Shaquille O’Neal and Tim Duncan. Expect another bloody, bruising series when the Suns and Spurs go at it. San Antonio is 33-7 this year at home and after missing three consecutive games, they have Manu Ginobili healthy. And, oh, what a difference a healthy Manu makes! Ginobili played just 19 minutes off the bench in his return but, posted 12 points (4-4 FG, 4-4 FT), six rebounds, four assists and three steals.

Wednesday’s Player of the Day: Kevin Durant @ Golden State 43 min, 42 pts (FG: 18-25, 3FG: 1-2, FT: 5-6), 13 reb, 6 ast, 1 stl, 2 blk

Buzzer Beater: When Houston defeated the Clippers 93-75 in their season finale, they secured the fifth seed in the playoffs. A couple of hours later, Utah falls to the Spurs and we have a series. Despite having a higher seed, the Jazz must travel to Houston for their postseason opener because they have a worse overall record. Basically it’s a horrible situation for Utah who is 17-24 on the road this year. Luis Scola made Rockets fans say “Yao who?” after he dominated the Clippers with 22 points and 10 rebounds, covering up for Tracy McGrady’s pathetic 2-of-11 shooting performance. People continue to argue about Houston’s legitimacy , but you can’t argue with a record of 35 wins in its last 43 games, including a 22-game win streak.

Categories
Dallas Mavericks

Around the Rim: Welcome back


1. Dirk Nowitzki does his best Willis Reed impersonation
Dirk Nowitzki knew that he team was circling the drain while he rode the pine with a leg injury, so on Wednesday night, the German sharpshooter decided to suit up and help his team climb out of the toilet. It worked. For the first time since acquiring Jason Kidd, the Mavericks defeated a team with a winning record and they did so in convincing fashion, stomping a mud hole in their bitter rivals from Golden State. Nowitzki finished with 18 points and Jason Terry posted a game-high 31 as Dallas cruised to an easy 111-86 victory. The Warriors just could not find their offense, needing 86 attempts to tally 86 points while the Mavs drained 48 percent of their field goals. Led by Kidd’s 17 dimes, Dallas finished with a whopping 35 assists compared to Golden State’s 10 and killed the normally up-tempo Warriors in fastbreak points, 44-16.

2. Brand new

After missing nearly a year of action, Elton Brand is back. The mild-mannered, double-double machine took to the court against the Sonics on Wednesday evening and posted 19 points – 13 in the fourth quarter – and five rebounds to help the Clippers pound Seattle 102-84. Brand went down with a torn left Achilles back on April 18, 2007, and wasn’t expected to return until Thursday, but he felt so good before the game that coach Mike Dunleavy decided to go ahead and give him some minutes; 26 to be exact. Kevin Durant had one of his best games, finishing with 30 points on 13-of-23 shooting, but it couldn’t overshadow the play of Brand. In addition to his points and boards, Brand dished out three assists, blocked a shot and tallied a steal.

3. Lakers get their groove back
The Lakers got a boost of their own last night as Pau Gasol returned to the lineup and posted 10 points, six rebounds and seven assists in a 104-91 victory over Portland. Gasol had been out of action due to a sprained ankle he suffered nearly three weeks ago. Kobe Bryant racked up 14 of his 36 points in the fourth quarter and grabbed 13 rebounds to help his squad pull within 1 ½ games of first place New Orleans. The Lakers lost four of nine games without Gasol after posting a 15-4 record following his acquisition. The return is huge for a relatively small lineup in L.A., but the key for any sort of Lakers postseason success lies in the return of center Andrew Bynum. As of now, Los Angeles is hoping and praying the big man is healthy enough to get some critical minutes before the second season starts.

Wednesday’s Player of the Day: Kobe Bryant vs. Portland 41 min, 36 pts (FG: 10-16, 3FG: 4-5, FT: 12-13), 13 reb, 7 ast, 3 stl

Thursday’s Game to Watch: Houston (49-25) @ Portland (38-37)
Hey, on a night when Cleveland plays Chicago and the Clippers face the Kings, we decided to choose the lesser of three evils. Houston continues to flounder since running off 22 consecutive wins and they are now on a two-game losing streak and have lost five of its last 10 games. Portland isn’t much better, dropping three in a row and six of its last 10. Luckily, Inside the NBA comes on tonight and we’ll get to hear Charles Barkley rip both of these clubs for being as soft as his belly.

Buzzer Beater: On a night when injured players returned left and right, we would be remiss to not mention the comeback of Gilbert Arenas. Agent 0 missed 66 games with a knee injury before scoring 17 points against the Bucks on Wednesday. Unfortunately for Arenas, his return was overshadowed by Ramon Sessions and his buzzer-beater that gave Milwaukee a 110-109 victory. And the bad night didn’t stop there for Washington. Right when it appeared the Wizards were back to full capacity, new injuries to key components took their toll. Antawn Jamison left the game with a sprained right shoulder and the thickly bearded DeShawn Stevenson exited with a sprained right ankle.

Categories
Dallas Mavericks

Around the Rim: Dallas continues to lose its grip on a playoff appearance


1. Free fallin’
Dallas thought trading for Jason Kidd would give them the magic they needed to keep pace with the other big time teams in the West. However, with Dirk Nowitzki riding the pine with an injury, the Mavericks are now in danger of becoming the team to miss the postseason after falling to their rivals in Golden State 114-104. The loss was the second consecutive for Big D and they are now sitting in a three-way tie with Denver and Golden State for the final ticket to the second season. Obviously, one of these three teams will be worrying about ping-pong balls come playoff time instead of looking to grab a ring and at this pace, don’t be surprised if it’s the new-look Mavs. Dallas is 5-5 over its last 10 games and must now prepare for contests against the Warriors (again), the Lakers and the Suns.

2. Rockets need a booster

The Rockets’ big win streak continues to look more and more and more like a fluke everyday. On Sunday, they looked like the team that earned the No. 1 pick to get Yao Ming instead of the team that went on the second-longest successful streak in league history, losing to San Antonio by 21 points. The Spurs dominated from the get-go, rushing out to a 35-24 first quarter lead before winning 109-88 behind 22 points each from Tony Parker and Michael Finley. The victory was the seventh consecutive for SA and put them into second place in the Western Conference race while dropping the Rockets to sixth. Luckily, Houston has an excellent opportunity to increase its stock as they wrap up the regular season with contests against Sacramento, Portland, Seattle and the Clippers coming up; unfortunately they are all on the road.

3. The many faces of Kobe Bryant
Just one game after dropping 53 points in a loss to Memphis, Kobe Bryant decided to be a facilitator against the Wizards and led his team to a 126-120 overtime win. Bryant finished with 26 points and 13 assists to snap a two-game losing streak and move back within one game of the West’s best record. The victory gave LA its 50th of the season for the 29th time in franchise history. Caron Butler went off for a triple-double (17 pts, 12 reb and 12 ast) and his team connected on 17-of-30 treys (.567). But Washington wasn’t alone in its three-point accuracy. Los Angeles hit 14-of-27 (.519) and the game marked the first time in league history that both teams shot over 50 percent from behind the arc, but under 50 percent from the floor (LA: .494, WAS: .466).

Sunday’s Player of the Day: LeBron James vs. Philadelphia 42 min, 26 pts (FG: 11-18, 3FG: 1-2, FT: 3-3), 9 reb, 9 ast, 3 stl, 1 blk

Monday’s Game to Watch: Denver (45-28) @ Phoenix (49-24)
The Nuggets currently own the final playoff spot in the West, but that doesn’t mean anything at the moment.
If they want to hold onto their position then they will have to rise to the occasion once again in an arena where the home team is 26-10. Denver is streaking with five straight wins, however in a super competitive race, all it takes is one loss and the Nuggets will be back on the outside looking in. Barring a complete collapse, the Suns are in, but they are defiantly looking to improve their seed because as it sits now, they would most likely have to play on the road for the opening round against Utah. But like we said, everything can change with one game and this very well could be that one game.

Buzzer Beater: The Miami Heat set another record in futility against the Celtics on Sunday by connecting on a mere 17 field goals – the fewest since the shot clock came into play – in an 88-62 loss. After the game, the Truth told the truth about the horrible, horrible Heat.

They got D-Leaguers out there, so I think we just handled our business,” the Boston forward said (Paul Pierce), listing some of the five Miami players who spent time in the developmental league this season. “We’re supposed to do that. We knew this was a game we were supposed to win, and we just focused from the jump and went out and did it.

Categories
San Antonio Spurs

Around the Rim: Double-double trouble


1. Spurs win in battle of big men
The Spurs appear to be completely over their mini slump. On Monday, they took care of the Magic in Orlando, winning by 10 points, 107-97, behind a game-high 28 points from Manu Ginobili off the bench. Michael Finley chipped in 24 while Tony Parker posted 11 points and nine assists as the Spurs connected on 54 percent of their shots. Of course, as usual, Tim Duncan was the one who made everything come together, finishing with 19 points, 15 rebounds and four blocks to lead SA to its fourth consecutive win, bringing his team to within one game of the West’s top record. Orlando dropped its second in a row despite a 24-point, 21-rebound performance from Dwight Howard. The 20/20 game was the eighth of the season for Howard, but it wasn’t enough to keep his club from becoming the only team to have never won a season series against the Spurs.

2. Who needs Dirk when you’re playing the Clips?

You’d think the Mavericks would miss having the league’s current MVP in their lineup, but, then again, they were playing the Clippers. Jason Kidd still hasn’t beaten a team with a winning record since joining Dallas, but with a 103-90 win over the Clips yesterday, the Mavericks improved to 10-0 against losing teams since the trade. The formula might be keeping Dallas in the playoff chase (just barely), but it certainly doesn’t bode well for its postseason chances. However, with Dirk Nowitzki nursing a lower leg injury for the next couple of weeks, it’s good to see other players are able to fill the void. Josh Howard had an awful shooting performance (8-22 FG), but managed to tally a game-high 32 points to compliment three other double-digit scorers for Dallas, including Erick Dampier who accounted for 19 points and 17 rebounds. But the Mavericks are now facing a seriously difficult stretch, going against five playoff-bound clubs in their next six games.

3. Hornets take their show on the road
New Orleans is currently sitting atop the Western Conference with a 48-21 record after heading into Indianapolis and beating the Pacers 114-106 last night. The game was the first of a six-game road trip for the Hornets that includes visits to Cleveland, Boston, Toronto, Orlando and Miami. If Nawlins is planning on holding onto the No. 1 seed then its needs to keep getting monstrous production from its superstars like David West and MVP candidate Chris Paul. Both starters posted double-doubles in Indy as West finished with 35 points and 16 rebounds and Paul recorded 31 points and 14 assists in the team’s fourth consecutive win. The loss dropped Indiana 1 ½ games behind Atlanta for the final spot in the Eastern Conference playoff picture.

Tuesday’s Player of the Day: David West @ Indiana 42 min, 35 pts (FG: 14-24, FT: 7-7), 16 reb, 1 ast, 3 stl, 2 blk

Wednesday’s Game to Watch: Phoenix (47-23) @ Boston (55-15)
There will be plenty of star power on the court tonight when the Suns and the Celtics hook it up in Beantown, but the matchup that stands out is between a pair of guys straight from high school. Kevin Garnett and Amare Stoudemire are two of the best big men in the game today and they will each be instrumental to their team’s success in a game that could be a preview of the NBA Finals. Of course, almost anytime a team from the West plays either Detroit or Boston you could say that. Both teams are currently on losing skids with Phoenix coming off a loss in Detroit and Boston dropping a pair to New Orleans and Philadelphia. The good news for Celtics fans is Boston owns a 23-5 record against the West.

Buzzer Beater: Chris Webber is set to retire at the ripe age of 35 due to knee problems that he just can’t seem to shake. While Webber will be most remembered for calling the timeout heard round the world and dunking on Charles Barkley as a rookie, his career can be defined by more than just that. Over his 15 seasons, Webber averaged 20.7 points, 9.8 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game, putting him on an elite list with Kevin Garnett, Larry Bird, Billy Cunningham, Wilt Chamberlain and Elgin Baylor as the only players to pull off 20 points, nine rebounds and four assists over their career.

Categories
Washington Wizards

Around the Rim: DeShawn Stevenson stings the Hornets in their hive


1. One and done
The curse of being No. 1 came to life again on Monday. After sitting atop the Western Conference at the All-Star break, the Hornets are riding a three-game losing streak, sliding all the way to fifth in the playoff chase. The latest team to get their shots in on the Bugs was the Wizards. The score was tied at 92-92 when the buzzer sounded and DeShawn Stevenson’s 3-point fadeaway J ripped the twine, giving Washington a 95-92 victory in Nawlins. The trey gave Stevenson 33 on the night to offset a 22-point, 8-assists performance from Chris Paul. New Orleans led nearly the whole game until a Stevenson free throw with less than 15 seconds remaining put the Wiz up 92-91 and the rest is history. Stevenson was responsible for seven of Washington’s final nine points in the comeback.

2. Gimme five!

It certainly wasn’t pretty for the Spurs early on as they scored just five points in the first quarter against the Hawks, but the champs rallied back from their franchise-low to win by 15 points, 89-74. San Antonio shot a pathetic 1-for-17 from the field in the opening period, but finished with a respectable 42 percent shooting effort. Tim Duncan put up 23 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks while Tony Parker had 15 and nine assists. Kurt Thomas grabbed nine rebounds in his Spurs debut. The Hawks didn’t capitalize on the Spurs early woes, scoring just 16 points in the first before going flat once again after halftime when they were outscored by 16 points, 27-11 in the third.

3. Detroit is b-b-b-ballin!
The Pistons continue to roll on their west coast road trip and their latest win came at the expensive of one of the league’s top home teams. All five Detroit starters finished with double-digit points, led by the trio of Tayshaun Prince, Richard Hamilton and Chauncey Billups scoring 20 apiece, as they slipped past the Nuggets 98-93 in Denver. It was just the seventh home loss for Denver who played without head coach George Karl who was ill. However, the lack of normal leadership didn’t seem to affect Allen Iverson (28 pts) or Carmelo Anthony (23 pts, 11 reb). The Nuggets had a chance to tie the game with 6.5 seconds left, but J.R. Smith could only make one of three free throws following a foul beyond the arc by Billups.

Monday’s Player of the Day: Dirk Nowitzki vs. Chicago 38 min, 29 pts (FG: 10-19, 3FG: 3-3, FT: 6-6), 10 reb, 4 ast, 1 stl, 1 blk

Tuesday’s Game to Watch: Portland (29-27) @ Los Angeles Lakers (39-17)
Sure, Brandon Roy will most likely miss the game with a bum ankle, but this is still a must-see game. After all, we’re talking about a pissed off Kobe Bryant leading a Lakers squad riding an eight-game winning streak while holding the top record in the West. Bryant got tossed from a blow-out in Seattle and there is no doubt he’ll be taking his frustrations out on the Blazers – with or without Roy. Don’t forget, Kobe dropped 65 points on the Blaze last season.

Buzzer Beater: Jason Kidd returned to Dallas on Monday night, playing in front of his new/old home crowd for the first time since 1996. It was like he never left…except the Mavericks won. Kidd almost put together a patented triple-double in his debut, finishing with 11 points, nine rebounds and eight assists in a 102-94 victory over the Bulls. So, J-Kidd, how’d it feel to be back?

I was happy to be back home. This is where it all started for me,” Kidd said. “I didn’t get an opportunity with that franchise [the Mavericks of the mid-1990s] like this one. This is different and I’m going to take advantage of that.

Categories
Dallas Mavericks

Around the Rim: Jason Kidd is getting in the groove


1. Second verse, better than the first
The second round of the Jason Kidd experiment in Dallas got off to a rough start as their new acquisition managed five assists and six turnovers in his debut. In two games since then, Kidd has been well worth the wait, producing 32 dimes in a pair of victories. On Sunday, Kidd kicked out a season-high tying 17 assists to go with 12 points and seven rebounds in a 99-83 Mavericks win in Minnesota. Dirk Nowitzki was on the receiving end of several passes from his new best friend as he racked up 29 points and eight rebounds. The T-Wolves played a fairly decent game, shooting 49.4 percent, but they got absolutely blasted at the charity stripe. Minnesota shot just 5-of-9 from the free throw line while Dallas took 27 trips to the line, connecting on 22 attempts. Al Jefferson scored 22 points and grabbed eight rebounds in the defeat.

2. Blazers postseason chances take a huge hit

Portland gave Boston a good run for its money on Sunday night, but Paul Pierce and Ray Allen were too much for the Blazers to handle, nailing four 3-pointers apiece in a 112-102 victory. Last game out, the Celtics fell to Shaquille O’Neal and the Suns with Pierce producing a paltry eight points. In Portland, Pierce was on fire, connecting on 12-of-14 shots for 30 points while Allen went 7-for-8 en route to 19 points. The duo was so pinpoint they didn’t even need the third third of the Big Three; Kevin Garnett finished with 10 points and seven rebounds. The loss was bad for Portland who is trying to claw its way back into the playoff picture, but it wasn’t even close to being the worst part of the night. Brandon Roy suffered a right ankle sprain in the third quarter and although he had yet to undergo an MRI, he speculated that he could be out of action for up to two weeks.

3. The Big Disappointment
Just one day after knocking off the best team in the entire NBA, the Suns were absolutely obliterated by the Pistons, losing by 30 points in their own gym. Detroit jumped all over Phoenix early and never let up as they rolled to a 116-86 victory with Rasheed Wallace’s 22 points pacing six Pistons in double-digits. Amare Stoudemire led the Suns in scoring, finishing with 31 points, but Phoenix is now 1-2 during the Shaquille O’Neal era. The Big Cactus crashed the boards, grabbing 11, but only put up seven points on offense while reminding the world he still can’t hit free throws (1-8 FT). The big question now is does this loss say more about Phoenix’s new look or does it help signify Detroit as truly the best team in the East?

Sunday’s Player of the Day: LeBron James vs. Memphis 39 min, 25 pts (FG: 10-17, 3FG: 1-4, FT: 4-5), 7 reb, 11 ast, 3 stl, 1 blk

Sunday’s Game to Watch: Detroit (41-15) @ Denver (33-22)
Detroit has to be feeling pretty good after humiliating the Suns in Phoenix and snapping its 11-game win streak versus Eastern Conference teams, but winning in Denver is no easy task. The Nuggets are 22-6 on their home floor and unlike Detroit, if they extend their current two-game losing streak then they could easily fall out of the playoff race in the West which should provide ample motivation for not only Denver, but every team in the conference. It’s going to be like the All-Star game all over again tonight with five participants from that contest playing in this contest – Allen Iverson, Carmelo Anthony, Rasheed Wallace, Chauncey Billups and Richard Hamilton.

Buzzer Beater: There was no real reason why Kobe Bryant needed to stick around, so with about four minutes left in the third quarter and the Lakers enjoying a 31-point lead over Seattle, he decided to take the rest of the evening off. Actually, referee Brian Forte made the decision for him, slapping Bryant with a pair of technicals after the league’s second-leading scorer started popping off at the mouth. Bryant had 21 points and 10 assists when he was tossed, but it didn’t matter in the end as the Lakers cruised to a 111-91 win.

Categories
Phoenix Suns

Around the Rim: Same ol’ faces in new places


1. Shaq’s back
Shaquille O’Neal finally made his Phoenix debut on Wednesday night in a great game versus his old Lakers squad. Unfortunately, Kobe Bryant didn’t give a flip about his old running mate’s coming out party. Bryant exploded for 41 points to help Los Angeles knock off the Suns 130-124. Shaq finished with 15 points and nine rebounds in 29 minutes and looked surprisingly good. He was even diving for loose balls and running down court on fast break opportunities. All in all, it was a pretty nice debut for the “Big Cactus.” However, someone who always has nice games for Phoenix is Shaq’s understudy, Amare Stoudemire. In the loss, Stoudemire had a monster of a game, scoring 37 and grabbing 15 boards.

2. Some things never change

Jason Kidd didn’t win very many games in his first stint with Dallas. Obviously, today’s Mavs are just a little better, but to Kidd it was déjà vu all over again as the Hornets ran past Dallas 104-93. Kidd recorded eight points, five assists, six rebounds and six turnovers in the defeat, but Dirk Nowitizki managed to put up a nice performance of 31 points and eight rebounds. However, nothing could top Chris Paul’s output on this night. Paul had 31 points of his own to go with 11 assists, five rebounds and nine steals. Kidd might be the future of Dallas, but Paul proved he’s the point guard of the future.

3. Baron beats the buzzer
Boston was perfect against the Western Conference until the other night when they fell to Denver in Kevin Garnett’s return to the lineup. Now, thanks to Baron Davis’ buzzer-beater, you can make that two consecutive losses for the Cs. Davis buried a jumper with .3 seconds remaining to give his Warriors a 119-117 win at home. The point guard scored 29 in the contest while dishing out six assists and grabbing six boards. Monta Ellis had 26 to compliment Davis. For Boston, KG did what he could with a typical double-double of 17 points and 15 boards and he got plenty of help from Paul Pierce (23 pts) and Ray Allen (32 pts), but Davis just wouldn’t let Garnett pick up his first win since healing his injury.

Wednesday’s Player of the Day: LeBron James @ Indiana 43 min, 31 pts (FG: 11-22, 3FG: 1-5, FT: 8-12), 14 reb, 12 ast, 2 stl, 1 blk

Thursday’s Game to Watch: None
Don’t even bother watching any of the crummy games tonight. If anything, just tune into Inside the NBA. We guarantee it will be more entertaining than the on court action.

Buzzer Beater: New York fans were loosening up their vocal chords again on Wednesday, screaming for Isiah Thomas’ head once again as the Knicks were humiliated by the Sixers, losing by 40 points, 124-84. Frankly, we still don’t understand why Zeke has a job. Then again, they are the Knicks and it probably doesn’t matter who you stick into the head coaching seat – they are still going to look awful. Unless NY can pull off a Boston Celtics type trade and get LeBron James or Kobe Bryant before the trade deadline then you can expect at least a few more 35+ point losses this season.

Categories
Boston Celtics

Around the Rim: Kevin Garnett is almost ready for his close up


1. Welcome back?
Kevin Garnett cares about one thing and one thing only – winning. The Big Ticket missed the Celtics last nine games in addition to sitting out the All-Star game with an abdominal strain, but he appears to be almost back to his normal self which makes Boston far above average once again.

I’m trying to play Tuesday,” Garnett said from NBA All-Star Weekend in New Orleans, according to The Boston Globe. “It’s been miserable. To be honest, miserable. But I’m in a good place mentally. I’m dealing with it.

The Celtics are in Denver tonight and Garnett said how he felt after Monday’s practice would play a big role in whether he takes the court or not. While the entire franchise is dying for Garnett to get back on the floor, they’re not stupid enough to rush it at this point. After all, they’ve won five consecutive games and own a 7-2 record since losing the big fella.

2. Agent 0 to the rescue

The Wizards got some terrific news on Monday, learning star guard Gilbert Arenas was cleared to participate in light, non-contact drills after having knee surgery last season. Arenas proved to be one of the most explosive scorers in the league, racking up 50 and 60 point games like clockwork. There’s no timetable for his return, but just hearing of his comeback has to energize Caron Butler and Antwan Jamison who have been carrying the load since Gilbo went down. Another piece of good news for the Wizards came in the form of Etan Thomas getting the nod to practice for the first time since undergoing open-heart surgery. Again, no definite timetable, but definitely good news.

3. Dare we say it? Jason Kidd is on his way to Big D
After a little tweaking, it appears that the Jason Kidd to Dallas trade will go through. However, before we go off analyzing the nuances of this trade, we’re going to wait for the official word to get dropped from NBA headquarters. Until then, we’ll stick with the major player – Kidd. Dirk Nowitzki and Josh Howard are going to love having this guy around and Mark Cuban isn’t even going to know who to cry over anymore. Not only will he have the sweetest shooting big man in the game on his roster, but he’ll also own the only player in the league who can completely change a game without scoring a single point. The only immediate drawback we can think of for Dallas is that the city is going to get sick of seeing Kidd’s big-headed kid on the tube every five minutes.

Tuesday’s Game to Watch: Orlando (33-21) @ Detroit (39-13)
Now that the All-Star festivities are over and behind us, it’s time to forget all about Dwight Howard’s spectacular collage of throw-downs and start focusing on what’s important which is the race to the playoffs. Before the break, Stan Van Gundy `motivated’ Howard back to peak performance and with the wave of momentum currently underneath him, the Pistons might end up facing a snarling beast tonight. Of course, the Pistons have several proud All-Stars on its squad who will look to end Superman’s high flying act. And if you’re lucky, Rasheed Wallace might just jack up another lefty trey.

Buzzer Beater: Cedric Ceballos finally did something more embarrassing than his ridiculous blindfold slam dunk from a bunch of years back. The former Sun and current Suns on-court announcer was arrested on Sunday for driving with a suspended license. Turns out California had a warrant out for Ceballos and he got caught at a Cali gas station after an attendant called the cops because he tried to pay for gas with a bunk credit card. It was a quick in-and-out of the pokey for Cedric whose hearing is scheduled for March 18.

Categories
Cleveland Cavaliers

Around the Rim: It’s a James thang


1. Another All-Star spectacular
As usual, the All-Star game was a can-you-top-this contest for most of three quarters before the players’ pride kicked in and they delivered a heck of a finish. The East led by six points after one, nine after two and 13 following the three quarters, but then the West put together a 15-4 run to open the final period, taking its first lead of the game at 112-110 on a Dirk Nowitzki layup with 6:52 remaining. The remainder of the game was back and forth until the East finally edged out a 134-128 victory in the waning moments. LeBron James slammed, jammed, rebounder and dished his way to the second All-Star MVP award of his career, barely missing a triple-double in the process [see below].

The game was missing some serious glitz as names like Kevin Garnett, Caron Butler, Tracy McGrady and Shaquille O’Neal were absent from the lineups, in addition to Kobe Bryant’s three minute performance, but there were still some straight ballers lighting it up in Nawlins. For the victorious East, Ray Allen came off the bench to score a game-high 28 points on 5-of-9 from behind the arc. Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade scored 14 apiece as Jason Kidd kicked out 10 dimes and Dwight Howard was perfect from the field (7-7) for 16 points and nine rebounds.

For the West, it was the bench that did most of the damage, combining for 94 points. Carmelo Anthony was the only starter to reach double-figure scoring, netting 18 points to match Brandon Roy and Amare Stoudemire for team-high scoring honors. Chris Paul went nuts in his home arena, scoring 16 points to go with 14 assists and four steals while Carlos Boozer produced a double-double of his own with 14 points and 10 rebounds.

2. Dwight’s all right

If you missed the Sprite Slam Dunk contest then shame on you. It was as plain as the chiseled shoulders on his frame that Dwight Howard was going to make the judges pay for robbing him last year and he did. Howard put together the sickest routine of dunks since Vince Carter hung on the rim by his elbow. The man-child put in a dunk off the back of the backboard before donning a Super Man cape and literally flying to the title. But the cherry on top of the sundae came when he decided to play volleyball off the glass en route to a wicked powerful throw down. All in all, we hope your DVR was rolling because it was a slam jam performance for the ages. While Howard ran away with the trophy, Gerald Green took home the ingenuity award by blowing out a candle on a cupcake set atop the rim before throwing down a two-hander.

3. Second trophy is three times as nice
Jason Kapono shot the lights out in the Foot Locker Three-Point Shootout, successfully defending his title by scoring 25 points to tie Mark Price (1986) for the all-time record. It was a dazzling display by the champ as he left Daniel Gibson (17 pts) and Dirk Nowitzki (14 pts) in his dust during the final round. Peja Stojakovic was the last player to earn back-to-back honors when he took the title in 2002 and then again in 2003. The Raptors are really hoping Kapono’s hot hand stays afire as they head down the final leg of the regular season.

2008 All-Star MVP: LeBron James vs. Western Conference All-Stars 30 min, 27 pts (FG: 12-22, 3FG: 2-7, FT: 1-1), 8 reb, 9 ast, 2 stl, 2 blk

Buzzer Beater: Believe it or not, but there was actually some business going on during the pleasures of the All-Star break. Sacramento sent Mike Bibby to Atlanta for Anthony Johnson, Shelden Williams, Tyronn Lue, Lorenzen Wright and a 2008 second-rounder. The Hawks gave up a lot, but they’re hoping the move provides the spark and veteran leadership that will take them deep into the playoffs. There’s no doubt that the trio of Bibby, Joe Johnson and Josh Smith will be a formidable one that could turn into a serious contender once they have time to gel.