NBA General

Around the Rim: Even Mr. Clutch can’t save Memphis

1. West walks away
Jerry West will always be the logo of the NBA, but yesterday he announced that he will no longer be the face of the Memphis Grizzlies. West told reporters that his five year run as the Grizzlies’ director of basketball operations will end on July 1. Mr. Clutch said “I’m not a youngster anymore,” and said that the constant losing, uncertainty and injuries have all added up to be too much for the soon-to-be 69 year old. West has done all that he can for the Memphis franchise and while they might have some pieces to build on; they seriously need a centerpiece to build around. And according to West, Pau Gasol is not that guy. But with the luck of the bouncing ping-pong balls, perhaps Kevin Durant could become what Gasol never did.

2. Skiles shoots down Curry’s season

If the Tim Duncan/Joey Crawford drama isn’t enough to keep your NBA interest peaked, then perhaps a coach/player rivalry will be more intriguing to you. Last week, Bulls coach Scott Skiles said that the Knicks Eddy Curry is “having a very good year but it seems like he’s being put on a pedestal awful quickly here.” It sounds to us like somebody is upset that Curry didn’t have his breakout season while playing in Bulls’ red. Curry said that his former coach was “very disrespectful” in his comments. This is a great start to a bad blood rivalry, but it’s not going to get a chance to get fully rolling until next season since New York won’t be participating in the post season.

3. Jamison doesn’t mind carrying the load
With Gilbert Arenas and Caron Butler out of the lineup there are gobs and gobs of points available for the other 12 players on the active roster. And on Tuesday night Antawn Jamison did his absolute best to make sure that he grabbed as many of those points for himself as he could by scoring 48 points against the Magic. Unfortunately, the 48 point effort was in vain as the Wizards fell by six to Orlando, 95-89. Jamison jacked up 26 of the Wiz’s 80 field goals and attempted 24 of the team’s 44 free throws. Talk about a one many show! Jarvis Hayes was the only other Wizard to finish in double figures with 15 points on 6-of-12 shooting.

Tuesday’s Player of the Day: Antawn Jamison vs. Orlando 48 min, 48 pts (FG: 14-26, 3FG: 5-9, FT: 15-24), 9 reb, 1 ast, 1 stl

Wednesday’s Game to Watch: Golden State (41-40) @ Portland (32-49) Portland might be the home team in this contest, but the Trailblazers have nothing to play for. Golden State, on the other hand, has everything to play for as their post season hopes ride on the last game of the last day of the schedule. If the Warriors can pull out the victory, then they are in the playoffs for the first time since 1994, snapping the longest current streak of going without any post season lovin’. However, if Golden State fails to win against Portland then the Clippers can sneak into the post season by beating the Hornets in LA.

Buzzer Beater: Jermaine O’Neal didn’t try to hide the fact that he wanted out of Indy if the Pacers failed to reach the playoffs, but now that the season is over O’Neal is backing off of his demands for an off-season trade. “I want to retire here, but I understand the business part of it. The business part is brutal. If they feel they can’t rebuild the team, they have to tear the team down.” While O’Neal isn’t admitting it, he’s probably still looking for a change of address and one attractive location is in LA; with Kobe Bryant, not Elton Brand. The Lakers desperately need a big man to compliment their superstar scorer but they’ll have to give up some young talent in return; perhaps Andrew Bynum. Unfortunately, The Captain would not be happy with that.

NBA General

Around the Rim: King sized comeback

1. LeBron at 80% is better than most players at 100%
After missing a game versus the Celtics on Sunday due to tendinitis in his right knee, LeBron James returned to the Cavs lineup last night in Minneapolis and nearly torched the Timberwolves for a triple-double. King James finished the game with 31 points, 12 rebounds, six assists and four steals in the Cleveland victory. And LeBron’s performance came at a time when he considered himself to be “about 80-85 percent.” If that’s at 80 percent, just wait until we get to see him run the floor at full strength. Just one game separates the Cavaliers from the Bulls, but if Cleveland loses their grip on the slim lead they would slip from the second seed to the fifth seed and lose home court advantage in the post season.

2. Indiana locks up losing record

With eight games remaining in the season for Indiana, they have already clinched a Pacer benchmark that hadn’t been touched in a decade. Thanks to a 15 point loss at the hands of the Pistons, Indiana secured the franchise’s first losing season since 1996-97, which was also the last year that the Pacers failed to make the playoffs. But, that’s what happens when you go 3-18 over your last 21 games. Jermaine O’Neal refused to talk to reporters after the game as his frustrations continue to mount. This season could be last time O’Neal suits up in the yellow and blue; but a change of venue would be good for O’Neal. Unless he wants to follow in Kevin Garnett’s footsteps and simply decides to sink with the ship.

3. No Dirk, no problem
The Dallas Mavericks were forced to take the court against the Kings without their superstar and MVP candidate, Dirk Nowitzki, due to a nasty case of food poisoning. But the Mavs still managed to stay the course without their stud and defeated Sacramento by four points, 97-93. The loss of Nowitzki didn’t weaken the club, as the Kings hoped it would, but instead it simply allowed for other players to step up offensively and fill the scoring void. Josh Howard led the way for Dallas by scoring 29 points to go along with eight rebounds, while Jason Terry finished the game with 27 points. Oh, but that’s not enough 20+ point games by one team in a game; Jerry Stackhouse came off the bench to rack up 23 points of his own.

Tuesday’s Player of the Day: Gerald Wallace vs. Washington 44 min, 34 pts (FG: 16-24, FT: 2-5), 14 reb, 1 ast, 3 stl, 2 blk

Wednesday’s Game to Watch: Toronto (41-33) @ Orlando (34-40) The Raptors are coming off a close, three-point loss to the Heat last night but are still sitting one game ahead of Miami for the third spot in the East. Chris Bosh continues to impress as he scored 24 points and grabbed 11 rebounds against Miami’s stout frontcourt. But Bosh will have to take on another All-Star big man as Dwight Howard will look to slow down Bosh in the paint. Howard’s numbers have fallen a bit since the season began but he is still only .7 rebounds per game away from becoming the youngest player ever to win the league’s rebounding title.

Buzzer Beater: Apparently, the Memphis Grizzlies are prepared to offer Billy Donovan a multiyear deal. As a two-time NCAA champion, Donovan really has nothing left to prove on the collegiate level so it would make sense to advance his career to the next stage. But, then again, the Gators could probably smoke the Grizz at this point so it’s not going to help his legacy any to jump on the back of the sorriest team in the NBA. In the end, this will be a financially motivated decision for Donovan; the only question remaining is will the cash be stuffed into his pockets by Florida, Memphis, Kentucky or someone else?

NBA General

Around the Rim: Garnett regret

1. Run, Kevin, Run!
Last night was not a good night to be on the Minnesota Timberwolves. Well, it wasn’t so bad until about halfway through the third quarter. That’s when Seattle decided to put the Super back in front of Sonics and erased a 25 point deficit with 51-18 run over the remainder of the game. Rashard Lewis single handedly outscored the Timberwolves 27 to 18. If that isn’t bad enough for Minny, they ended the game by getting smoked on a 25-2 run. It was the biggest lead ever to be blown by T-Wolves and marked the first game in over three years in which the visiting team pulled off a 25 point comeback. The last team to do it was 2003-04 Knicks who came back from 26 down in Milwaukee to snatch a three point victory, 103-100, from the jaws of defeat. Kevin Garnett really doesn’t deserve this; actually, he does. It’s time to demand a trade.

2. New Jersey’s losing finally pays off

Thanks to a monumental meltdown by the Pacers since the All-Star break, New Jersey, yes New Jersey has moved into the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. For almost the entire season it appeared that the Pacific Division would be sending only one team to the post season but the Nets are hoping to continue their limp into the playoffs. New Jersey has lost eight of their last 12 games but that sorry performance actually improves their positioning because the Pacers have lost 15 of their last 17. If that’s not the sign of a pathetic conference then nothing is. So, all things considered, what would you expect from the basketball gods in a situation like this? Why a match-up between the two teams tonight in Jersey with a playoff spot on the line, of course. The only positive thing about this game is that one of them has to win.

3. Big Ben buys in
Stephon Marbury has been selling cheap, I mean affordable sneakers for long enough to know that he can’t build a successful corporation by himself, so he has brought in some big help. Ben Wallace has jumped aboard the Starbury Movement and is now sporting the new $14.98 Starbury II shoe, and it won’t be long until his own sneak (Big Ben) is released on the line. So, while Marbury’s team struggles on the court, his business team is growing by leaps and bounds. His line has expanded from 50 to 200 products that are all available for under $15. And nobody understands about the need for affordable apparel more than Wallace. Big Ben grew up poor as the 10th of 11 children and the youngest of eight boys. “I had to wait in line,” said Wallace. Now he just hopes that others will be lining up for a piece of his new investment.

Tuesday’s Player of the Day: Josh Howard @ New Orleans 32 min, 25 pts (FG: 10-16, 3FG: 2-2, FT: 3-3), 10 reb, 2 ast, 2 stl, 2 blk

Wednesday’s Game to Watch: Houston (45-26) @ Los Angeles Clippers (34-36) The Clippers are just barely holding onto the final playoff spot in the Western Conference but they have currently won five of their last six games. That’s the equivalent of winning 15 straight for any normal NBA team. Houston is enjoying having their man in the middle back and they have now won nine of their last 11 games. Since returning from his injury Yao is averaging 21 points to go along with nine rebounds. And Tracy McGrady is playing pretty well himself as the team hopes to catch the Jazz which would get them home court advantage against Utah in the first round but Houston would still remain in the fifth spot.

Buzzer Beater: Well, the streak is officially over for Kobe. After games of 65, 50, 60, 50 and 43, Bryant finally returned to earth and scored a human-like performance of only 23. Now, that might sound like a small number but, for comparison’s sake, that’s the amount of points that former MVP Kevin Garnett currently averages (22.8). The Mamba started the game hot and looked like he was getting ready to explode for another 60 point performance after he scored nine of the team’s first 11 points. But after that Bryant went cold as he was a pathetic 4-of-23 for the remainder of the game. Bryant also received a taste of his own medicine in the second quarter when he took a forearm to the melon from Pau Gasol that sent him to the famous LA hardwood. Mmmm, tastes like pain.

NBA General

Around the Rim: Steve Nash Splash

1. NBA Action Is Fantastic!
Last night’s game between the Mavs and the Suns was billed as the biggest game of the season. And neither team disappointed, as the game went down to the wire and took a pair of overtimes before Phoenix walked away with a much deserved 129-127 victory in Big D. The loss marked the first time this year that the Suns defeated the Mavs as Dallas has now lost consecutive games for the first time since opening the season with a four game losing streak. The Suns are now only three games behind the Mavs for the best record in the league. Has there ever been a less productive 17 game win streak in the history of the NBA? Despite their long run of victories, both Phoenix and San Antonio are right on the heels of Dallas. Steve Nash had an epic performance in the triumph that consisted of big free throws, big threes and big steals in the most important moments of the game as he put up 32 points, 16 assists and eight rebounds. And Nash wasn’t even the team’s most productive player on offense because Amare Stoudemire torched the Mavs for 41 points on 16 of 19 shooting to go with 10 boards. Only 18 more days until Phoenix vs. Dallas IV!

2. Built Ford Tough

TJ Ford has been playing at a spectacular level of late, but last night might have been his best performance of the season as he racked up 18 points and matched that with a career-high tying 18 assists. About the only thing that didn’t go Ford’s way against the Knicks was his half time buzzer beater that was denied by the officials after reviewing the play. With the way the Atlantic Division is shaking out, Toronto has already locked up the division crown and with it a guaranteed home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. But everyone knows that Chris Bosh is the T-Rex amongst these Raptors, averaging 22.8 points, 10.3 rebounds and 1.38 blocks per game. There are a lot of great point/forward combos in the league right now and these two are right in the midst of the most promising duos out there.

3. This Is Getting To Be Boston Bad
It wasn’t too long ago that Indiana was in the thick of the playoff race with the possibility of pulling down a home court advantage in the first round. Well, those days are long gone now that the Pacers have lost 11 straight, one shy of tying the franchises’ longest streak of futility. Not even the return of Jermaine O’Neal could pull the Pacers out of their funk, but it wasn’t due to a lack of effort on O’Neal’s part (24 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 blocks) in his first game back after missing three games with a sprained knee. With the loss to Washington last night, Indiana has fallen out of the top eight in the conference and now suddenly faces the possibility of making an early draft selection. Hey, Reggie, are you sure you don’t want to come outta retirement?

Wednesday’s Player of the Day: Steve Nash @ Dallas 48 min, 32 pts (FG: 11-25, 3FG: 2-6, FT: 8-8), 8 reb, 16 ast, 1 stl

Thursday’s Game to Watch: Los Angeles Lakers (33-31) @ Denver (31-31) The Lakers are struggling monumentally at the moment but records really don’t matter when the game sports three of the league’s top five scorers. Denver’s dynamic duo is combining for 58 points per game thanks to Melo’s league best 29.8 points per game average and his partner in crime’s 27.9. But that’s still not going to be enough firepower to count out the explosive one man scoring machine known as Kobe Bryant. One of these games, LA is going to break out of their slump and when they do it will probably be due to a huge offensive outing by the Mamba. Tonight is as good as any to drop another 50 point performance.

Buzzer Beater: Kobe Bryant feels that the criticism of his play is “insulting.” Phil Jackson referred to the negative media attention as a “witch hunt.” Bryant said that he doesn’t “need to be a dirty player” and doesn’t “want the image of a dirty player.” Well Kobe, if you don’t want to have your integrity questioned then don’t perform acts that bring your integrity into question. The high elbows, the awkward releases and the flailing forearms are occurring all too frequently to be considered anything but intentional. As a highly skilled athlete and one of the greatest basketball players to ever hit the hardwood, Bryant has complete control over his body’s every movement at almost every moment of every game. He can twist, turn, squeeze and shoot all while in flight, but for some strange reason he loses all control of his arms anytime they come near a player’s face? C’mon, gimme a break.

Indiana Pacers

When mascots attack!

An Indiana Pacers fan is suing the Pacers because he calims that Pacers mascot “Boomer” tackled him during a free throw shooting competition and caused permanent back damage.

In his lawsuit, Jackson says he attended the March 11, 2005, game against Golden State and was asked to participate in a free-throw shooting contest.

He initially declined, citing his recent back surgery, but was assured “there would be no reason for concern or injury,” according to the lawsuit.

After the contest, the lawsuit says, he began to leave the court but was tackled by Boomer. The employee who knew about Jackson’s bad back told the mascot about the surgery, and Boomer responded by kicking at Jackson’s legs, the lawsuit says.

If a guy can get $2.5M out of the Phillies fanatic because he hugged him too hard, imagine how much this guy is going to get from the Pacers for being tackled. As if the Pacers organization isn’t throwing enough money away as it is on Dunleavy and Troy Murphy.

[Indy Star]: Even the mascot is having legal troubles

NBA General

Around the Rim: Detroit Debut for Webber

1. Numbers Game
Chris Webber officially signed with the Detroit Pistons on Tuesday and will be paid approximately $650,000 this year on a prorated contract for the veterans minimum, but that’s wasn’t the odd part of the press conference. The head scratcher came when C-Webb held up a Pistons home jersey with the number 84 stitched onto it. The unusual number was chosen for Uncle Chris by one of his nephews. Now, Webber joins Gilbert Arenas (0), Ron Artest (93) and the league’s most notorious weirdo of all time, Dennis Rodman (91), with some of the more abnormal numbers. But regardless of the digits he wears, Webber will be a valuable asset to the Pistons this season, despite what his first game might imply (17 minutes with 2 points on 1 for 5 shooting).

2. Packin’ Jackson
There were some rumors floating around that Mike Dunleavy Jr. could be joining his old man in Los Angeles on the Clippers, but those rumors can be squashed now that Dunleavy Jr. was involved in an eight player deal that sent him to the Pacers along with Troy Murphy, Ike Diogu and Keith McLeod. In return, Golden State picked up Al Harrington, Sarunas Jasikevicius, Josh Powell and the problematic Stephen Jackson. The Warriors were desperate for another complimentary player to line up beside Baron Davis and if they are willing to put up with the headaches, this could be a perfect fit for Golden State. And should Harrington ever live up to his potential, this trade could be a giant step toward making noise in the playoffs for the Warriors.

3. Party Pooper
A man is walking down the street with a 2 ft. by 2 ft. birthday cake in his hands at 1:45 in the morning wait, is this a gag? Nope. It might sound like the set up to a shoddy joke but it’s not. Close to 2:00 a.m. on Saturday, Alexander Martinez left his birthday party with a $190 cake and ran into Lakers forward Ronny Turaif who agreed to pose for a B-Day photo. About that time, Kwame Brown walks out of a club, grabs the chocolate cake and throws it at Martinez before leaving the scene in a white limo. Further down the street, Martinez ran into Lamar Odom and confronted him about Brown’s behavior but a man believed to be Odom’s bodyguard shoved Martinez into the street and yelled at him to stay away from Brown. A police report was filed 12 hours later but Brown has yet to comment on the incident. Now it’s obvious why Gilbert Arenas didn’t invite Kwame to his 25th birthday bash.

Wednesday’s Player of the Day: Kobe Bryant @ San Antonio 36 min, 34 pts (FG: 12-19, 3FG: 0-2, FT: 10-11), 6 reb, 8 ast, 1 stl

Thursday’s Game to Watch: Los Angeles Lakers (25-13) @ Dallas (32-8) The last time these two teams met up was in Los Angeles on January 7, when the Lakers put an end to the Mavericks 13 game win streak. But this time the Lakers won’t have a home crowd to take advantage of. The Mavs are currently riding an eleven game home winning streak as Dirk Nowitzki continues to make his push for the M.V.P. Dallas is probably one of the last teams anybody wants to play in the second game of a back-to-back, but that is exactly the situation L.A. is facing after winning against the Spurs last night, 100-96.

Buzzer Beater: Just when it looked like Tracy McGrady was healthy again and back to his former high-scoring self, he misses another game with soreness in his back. Since returning from a stint in December where he missed seven games because of back spasms, T-Mac had averaged 26.8 points per game with eight games over 30. Tuesday night, McGrady lit Dallas up for 45 in a 109-86 loss. With the loss of Yao Ming already hobbling the club, McGrady’s pain in the back is becoming a serious pain in the butt of Jeff Van Gundy.

NBA General

Around the Rim: Dal-loss

1. It’s Over
The Dallas Mavericks have finally fallen. After a streak of 13 straight wins, the Mavs lost in a closely contested battle against the Lakers by a score of 101-98. But Dallas should be able to rebound quickly considering that double-digit win streaks are as common to Dirk’s posse as fumbles are to Tony Romo. Dallas has been leaving teams in their wake as they’ve raced to the best record in the league at 27-8 behind the play of Dirk Nowitzki and Josh Howard. But Kobe Bryant led a fourth quarter comeback by the Lakers that gave their head coach, Phil Jackson the 900th win of his career and snapped the Mavs hopes of surpassing the 1971-72 Lakers’ record 33 game win streak. Dallas’ next chance to renew their winning ways comes on Tuesday when they travel to Utah, while L.A. can look forward to a six game span that includes games against Houston, Orlando, Miami, San Antonio, and a rematch with Dallas.

2. On Pace to Relocate
Indiana Pacers forward Jermaine O’Neal has stated that if he can’t lead his team to “another level” by the end of the season he will leave the organization in search of greener pastures elsewhere. Well, O’Neal might want to notify his real estate agent because Indy has far too many holes for O’Neal to think he can single handedly turn things around. O’Neal will always be a stat machine in Indiana but the team currently lacks the overall quality and depth needed to beat teams like Detroit, Chicago, Orlando or Cleveland. Sure, the Pacers are one of a handful of teams to own a record above .500 in the East, and they’re on pace to get into the playoffs, but if the outcome of this season is going to serve as the litmus test for O’Neal’s decision, then he will be wrapping up his Pacers career once they finish a short playoff stint.

3. Net Loss
It looks like New Jersey could be on the verge of being dismantled and, apparently, nobody is off limits in the team’s transition. The Nets are 14-19 and management is desperate to inject some life into a limp lineup that can’t seem to find their way into playoff contention despite playing in one of the most pathetic divisions in league history. Vince Carter has been linked to trades for Corey Maggette in L.A., while Chicago appears to have their eye on Richard Jefferson, and it has even been rumored that the cornerstone of the franchise, Jason Kidd, could be involved in a move before the trade deadline passes on February 22. You can’t blame the front office for wanting to give up on a trio of stars who can’t separate themselves from recent league doormats like Toronto, New York, Boston and Philadelphia.

Sunday’s Player of the Day: Manu Ginobili @ Memphis 27 min, 34 pts (FG: 10-15, 3FG: 6-8, FT: 8-9), 4 reb, 3 ast, 5 stl

Monday’s Game to Watch: Houston (21-13) @ Chicago (20-14) The Rockets are coming off a road loss to Minnesota but continue to look impressive as Tracy McGrady elevates his game in the absence of an injured Yao Ming. McGrady has been more than willing to increase his load of the scoring without Yao and has strung together five consecutive games of at least 30 points. The Bulls are 1-2 in January after losing only three games in all of December but Chicago is still getting All-Star performances from Luol Deng, Ben Wallace and Ben Gordon. Chicago is 15-3 at home but all three of those loses have come to Western Conference teams.

Buzzer Beater: Kevin Garnett is definitely having a happy new year as his game continues to sizzle since David Stern brought back the leather b-ball. The Timberwolves are 4-0 in 2007, including three straight wins in overtime, and K.G. is averaging 27.5 points, while shooting 48 percent, and pulling down 14.5 rebounds during the span. But the only numbers Minnesota is truly concerned with is the number of games between themselves and Northwest Division leader Utah. That number is currently at six and shrinking after the Jazz’s sub par play of late.

NBA General

Around the Rim: Ill Will in Indiana

1. Reaction Jackson
Stephen Jackson just can’t get any positive publicity these days. His latest incident involves a heated exchange with Indiana coach Rick Carlisle. Jackson became upset and said something to Carlisle when he was benched early in the second quarter of a blowout loss to the Cavaliers on Saturday. Whatever he said was enough for Carlisle to send him to the locker room for the rest of the game and then suspend him for last nights game. The outburst is just his latest accompaniment to go along with weekly parades through the courthouse and before the judge. “I don’t want people to lump this with other things that have happened,” Jackson said. Sorry, Stephen, it’s hard to lump it into your nonexistent pile of good deeds and behaviors.

2. A.I. to 90210
Since the news of Allen Iverson’s demand for a trade became public, a virtual tidal wave of trade rumors has swept over the NBA. Boston, Minnesota, Golden State, Orlando, Denver, Cleveland, Seattle; the list goes on and on. But one of the more interesting trades resides in the City of Angels, and it doesn’t involve the Clippers. Phil Jackson left the door open to a possible trade for Iverson when he said, “I wouldn’t just say outright we have no interest.” While the scenario is unlikely, the possibility is quite incredible. Two of the greatest scorers in the history of the game together in one of the leagues most storied franchises. Western Conference perimeter defenders are cringing at the thought of A.I. joining Kobe Bryant in the purple and gold and the offensive outbursts that would ensue. The two currently average 57.6 points between them; in comparison, Charlotte only scores 90.5 points per game as a team.

3. Gray Matter
ESPN reporter Jim Gray was one of the first to break the story about the Philadelphia/A.I. split, but he might not have gotten the news from Iverson. Gray went public with the story on Friday after talking with Iverson, or at least someone he thought was Iverson. Turns out that Gray had been talking with an imposter, or did he? Follow me here. On Friday, Gray reported that Iverson said his first choice was Minnesota and the deal was in the works. Later on, Gray received a phone call from Iverson’s agent, Leon Rose, who told Gray that he had spoken with an A.I. imposter causing Gray to publicly withdraw his comments. Could it be that Rose created the story about a fake A.I. in order to keep Gray quiet about the deal, and that Gray actually did speak with Iverson? It all depends on who you talk to.

Monday’s Player of the Day: Vince Carter vs. Memphis 40 min, 37 pts (FG: 14-30, 3FG: 9-20), 8 reb, 5 ast, 4 stl

Tuesday’s Game to Watch: Los Angeles Lakers (14-6) @ Houston (14-6) Tracy McGrady will miss the game tonight, but two MVP candidates aren’t too bad. Yao Ming will have to step up without T-Mac if he is going to keep the Rockets’ impressive home record of 8-1 intact. The Lakers have only played five games on the road this season, going 2-3, but Kobe Bryant has been averaging 29.3 points per game during the team’s last three road games.

Buzzer Beater: He’s often left off the list when people ask who the best coaches in the NBA are. He’s often forgotten about amongst the other veteran coaches like Pat Riley, Don Nelson and Phil Jackson. But last night, Jerry Sloan finally got some recognition for his 22 years of coaching when he picked up win number 1,000. Sloan is one of the finest coaches in the history of the game and until 2004; he had lead the Jazz to playoffs for 15 consecutive years. Who knows, if it wasn’t for Michael Jordan, Sloan might have a couple of championship rings on his fingers.

NBA General

Around the Rim: Welcome Back, Carter

1. Vinsanity
Vince Carter is chugging along, full steam ahead, and he’s not looking back. In fact, Carter has created a new season high in points for every game he has played this year, including 38 last night in a loss to Seattle. His 31.2 points per game is second in the league to Michael Redd’s 32.4. Besides his scoring output, Carter has increased his accuracy. He’s shooting 50 percent from the field, 43.9 percent from behind the three point line, and 84.1 percent from the free throw stripe, all career highs. To go along with his breakout shooting year, Carter is grabbing five rebounds, dishing out five assists and poking free a steal per game. Unfortunately, the Nets have alternated wins and loses all year and currently only have a 3-3 record. Carter’s numbers are impressive but if New Jersey doesn’t improve as a team then his shot at becoming an MVP will come up well short.

2. I’m Sorry Mrs. Jackson
Indiana Pacer Stephen Jackson pleaded not guilty on Monday to a charge that accuses him of violating his probation during an incident last month outside of a strip club in Indiana. Jackson allegedly fired his gun at least five times into the air, in what he describes as self defense during a fight that occurred outside the club. His probation stems from his role in the altercation between himself and several fans during the melee that occurred last year in Detroit. Jackson’s attorneys claim that he could not have violated his probation during the early October episode because he had already completed his probationary terms and therefore did not violate any of its conditions. Jackson could face three months in jail if found guilty. Furthermore, Jackson is charged with criminal recklessness, a felony, and misdemeanor counts of battery and disorderly conduct. The felony charge carries a prison term of six months to three years.

3. Malpractice
Doc Rivers’ coaching career could be coming to a close in Boston. Why? The team’s GM, Danny Ainge, recently gave Rivers the notoriously dreaded vote of confidence, saying that the team’s poor record would not result in a coaching change. In most cases, that means the team’s acceptance of applications for replacements has already begun. The Celtics are currently 1-6 on the year; this follows a dismal 33-49 2006 season. This season was supposed to be a dedication to the late Red Auerbach, but at this point it is becoming an embarrassment to the organization. Rivers was fired from Orlando eleven games into the 2004 season when the Magic started off by going 1-10. But if Rivers is indeed fired, you could still expect to seem him on the sidelines. Rumor has it that he very well could be the third man in the booth on ABC’s lead broadcast team with Mike Breen and Mark Jackson.

4. The Journeyman
The Charlotte Bobcats are in their third year as a franchise and they are struggling to simply be 1-5. And what’s the first thing to happen when a young team can’t find a way to win? That’s right, the coach gets fired. It certainly appears that Bernie Bickerstaff is not the answer for this club. If so, the logical fit would be to bring in Larry Brown who is free to job hunt, now that his settlement with the Knicks is final. Michael Jordan would love to have a fellow North Carolina alum sitting on the bench and, to his credit, Brown is considered to be one of the best teachers in the game. With a franchise that is still in its infancy, the young Bobcats sure could use some fundamental education from a coach know for “playing the right way.” Brown always said he would like to coach a high school team after his retirement. While the pay won’t indicate it, this would definitely be a step in that direction.

Monday’s Player of the Day: Vince Carter vs. Seattle 43 min, 38 pts (FG: 13-26, 3FG: 5-9, FT: 7-8), 4 reb, 5 ast, 1 stl

Tuesday’s Game to Watch: San Antonio (5-1) @ Houston (5-2) It’s a Texas sized showdown and a division shootout as the Rockets hope their undefeated home record remains intact after the Spurs, 3-0 on the road, pay a visit to Houston. Tracy McGrady’s point production has been down this season, but he still must be considered as one of the most explosive scorers in the NBA. The Spurs learned this firsthand in 2004 when T-Mac lit them up for 13 points in 33 seconds, including the game winning three-pointer.

Indiana Pacers

Odds and Ends: "Pacers’ Jackson kicked disabled man during melee"

Roll up bitch! Roll up!

You read that headline and immediately imagined Stephen Jackson kicking a guy in a toppled over wheelchair right? So did we. But before they had the good sense to change it, that’s exactly what the Indy Star had in their news feed. It turns out Jackson kicked a guy with a short arm. And while technically the guy was disabled, it’s nowhere near as egregious as kicking a guy without the use of his legs (presumably cause the guy can’t kick back). We like funny/ironic headlines as much as the next guy but that was tantamount to saying “Michael Jackson touches young boy” and not mentioning that it was on the shoulder. In any case, Stephen Jackson has apologized and is “happy to be alive“… blah blah blah… but he will still be charged with a felony in the strip club incident.

In other news…

[MSNBC]: Stern tells players to stop bitching about his new balls

[AZ Central]: Floyd Landis REALLY wants you to believe him

[The State]: Spurrier “probably” sorry for humiliating assistant coach

[Sign On San Diego]: Is $2000 really enough for that inevitable “ring stinger”?

[The Golf Blog]: Play Burnout Revenge vs Natalie Gulbis… ummm.. wouldn’t Tiger Woods 07 be more appropriate?

[MSNBC]: Yankees aren’t trading A-Rod, Cashman claims

[]: Vote for the top college fight song

[IHT]: Oh thank god… chess championship to be unified

[There’s Your Karma]: “if my understanding of aging beef is correct, a Bevo XIII Appreciation Dinner can be scheduled for, oh, 10 days out.”