NBA General

Around the Rim: Move Em Out!

1. Country Roads, Take Me Home
Nothing comes between a Texan and his rodeo, so for the next two weeks the Spurs will have to vacate the AT&T Center as the arena is inundated with denim and livestock.  San Antonio began an eight game road trip yesterday with a close win over the Lakers in overtime.  Going back to last week, the Spurs are in the middle of a stretch with 11 of 14 games coming on the road.  But things could be worse; at least Tim Duncan has been putting up some of his best games of the year of late.  Timmy has flirted with triple-doubles in each of the past two contests.  Against Memphis on Friday Duncan finished with 26 points, 13 rebounds and a career-high nine blocks; he followed that by coming one assist shy of a triple dip (21 points, 14 rebounds and nine assists) against the Lakers yesterday afternoon.

2.  Randolph Shoots and Shoots and Shoots
Portland’s Zach Randolph put up a career-high 42 in a double overtime win against Memphis on Saturday, but the points didn’t exactly come in spectacular fashion.  It took 47 minutes and 40 shots before Randolph finally grabbed his personal offensive record, and he only hit 16 of the franchises’ new record in attempts.  Only one other player has jacked up at least 40 shots over the last five years, the Mamba himself.  Kobe Bryant has done it with regularity as he has pulled off the feat six times in five years.  The only difference between Bryant and Randolph is that Bryant’s 40+ shots usually result in point totals somewhere between 50 and, say, 81.

3. Long Balls
At the end of the first quarter of yesterday’s game between New York and Milwaukee, Knicks guard Nate Robinson shot and made a buzzer-beater from just inside the midcourt stripe.  Unfortunately, the trio of party-pooping refs wouldn’t allow the shot to count after reviewing the replay.  So, with time running out at the end of the first half, Robinson took a pass and heaved up a shot from about three-fourths of the court that hit nothing but net.  Maybe Nate should be in the three point competition instead of the slam dunk contest.  After all, he did go two for two from 35 feet and out, while it took him close to 20 attempts before hitting a slam off the backboard.

Sunday’s Player of the Day:  Antawn Jamison @ Boston 41 min, 34 pts (FG: 13-22, 3FG: 4-8, FT: 4-6), 7 reb, 7 ast, 3 stl

Monday’s Game to Watch:  Phoenix (36-8) @ Minnesota (21-22) Since suffering through a season-high six game losing streak, Kevin Garnett has his team rolling after an impressive road win over the Clippers.  Think that sounds good?  Neither do the Suns.  Phoenix is the hottest team in the league after they picked up their 17th straight victory, which is tied for the fifth longest in NBA history.  The Suns are now over half way to the all-time record set by the 1971-72 Lakers who won 33 in a row.  But don’t expect Phoenix to be grabbing that record anytime soon.  Should they win 34 straight, it would occur against Charlotte on March 7.

Buzzer Beater: Looks like Ben Wallace escaped with just a scare after colliding with Miami’s Udonis Haslem on Saturday.  An MRI on his left knee showed no structural damage, leaving the center listed as day to day.  But the Bulls would love to get Big Ben back soon as they begin a seven game, Western Conference road trip on Wednesday.  Three teams are separated by one game in the Central Division so there’s not a lot room for error; and Ben Gordon can only do so much without a little help defensively.

NBA General

Around the Rim: They’re all picking on me!

1. Dikembe Mutombo Mpolondo Mukamba Jean Jacque Wamutombo
Dikembe Mutombo has always been a defensive stopper on the court, but now he has become defensive about something off the court. The ongoing joke for the talking heads covering Houston this season has surrounded the age of Mutombo and the implication that he might be older than what he says. The 40 year old Mutombo has been in the league for 16 seasons and says that the teasing is disturbing to his wife and daughter and that he plans to talk with commissioner David Stern about putting an end to the media’s mockery. Mount Mutombo seems to be exploding over nothing here. I mean being called old has to be better than being called a “monkey”, right?

2. 3rd Times a Charm
The Spurs Brent Barry wants a chance to make history at the All-Star game in February. The sharpshooter could become the first player to win both the three-point shootout and the slam dunk contest. In 1996, as a rookie, Barry proved that white men can jump when he made a dunk from the free-throw line while wearing his warm-up jacket during the All-Star festivities in San Antonio. B.B. is currently third in the league in three-point field goal accuracy as he is hitting 48 percent (62-130) of his long bombs. Should Barry receive his opportunity, it would be his third chance to win the three-point trophy. In 2003, he advanced to the second round before falling to Peja Stojakovic who would go on to win the crown, and in 2004 he was forced to decline an invitation after breaking his right hand.

3. Excuse Me, You Dropped a Dime
Kevin Garnett could join some of the greatest names in the history of the game tonight when the Detroit Pistons travel to Minnesota. The Big Ticket is five assists away from reaching 4,000 for his career. When Garnett dishes out assist number 4,000 he will have become only the fifth player to amass 18,000 points, 10,000 rebounds and 4,000 assists; joining Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Wilt Chamberlain and Charles Barkley. And at only 30 years old, K.G. still has lots of game left in his 6-11 body. Of course, the feat would be much easier for Garnett to obtain if he had players around him who could consistently hit their shots.

Thursday’s Player of the Day: Dwyane Wade vs. Indiana 37 min, 33 pts (FG: 13-24, FT: 7-9), 6 reb, 8 ast, 4 stl, 1 blk

Friday’s Game to Watch: Washington (22-16) @ Orlando (22-17) This game sports two of the best young players in the league with Gilbert Arenas and Dwight Howard. Arenas has been dazzling fans and foes alike all season, while Howard is the best big man to enter the league straight out of high school since Kevin Garnett made the leap in 1995. Washington currently leads Orlando for first place in the Southeast Division by ½ game, but that ½ game makes a huge difference for these two teams in the playoff standings. The Magic could leap from their sixth spot up to as high as the second spot in the East with a win.

Buzzer Beater: Shaquille O’Neal will be sidelined for at least two more games as he recovers from knee surgery. Shaq says that he’s not going to rush back until he’s “1000 percent.” Last month, two more games without the Diesel would have been pretty discouraging news for the Heat, but Miami is currently handling their business without O’Neal as they have won five of their last six behind a hot Dwyane Wade. But even when Shaq comes back, he still won’t be at full capacity until he gets at least two weeks of game time under his very large belt.

NBA General

Around the Rim: Overlooked

1. Forgotten Nugget
With Yao Ming on the sideline with an injured knee, it’s unsure if he can make a return in time to suit up for the All-Star game in mid-February. Maybe the NBA should consider inserting Denver center Marcus Camby as a replacement. Camby is currently averaging 12 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks and he is coming off an impressive game against Milwaukee that saw him score 19 points, grab 15 rebounds and swat seven shots. And that was with a broken finger. Unfortunately for Camby, if he’s going to receive a ticket to the game it will have to come via a coach’s decision because despite his solid season, he’s still sitting in the fifth spot for Western Conference centers behind Yao, Amare Stoudemire, Erick Dampier and Mehmet Okur. As always, the fans don’t have the tightest grip on reality, but hopefully the coaches’ vote will more accurately portray reality and not popularity.

2. New Face in S.A.?
San Antonio broke out of a three game losing slump on Sunday when they easily defeated the Grizzlies without guard Tony Parker, who missed the game with a strained hip. When asked about the team’s improvement in the absence of the soon to be Mr. Longoria, Tim Duncan responded, “We need to trade (Parker) or get rid of him or something.” Obviously Duncan was being sarcastic with his comment, but the Spurs are serious about making a trade, but not for Tony. S.A. would love to add the athleticism of Corey Maggette to their lineup and an aging Brent Barry along with Beno Udrih is a small price to pay for the ability to run with the West’s progressively up-tempo style. But at this point, what team isn’t on Maggette’s radar as a possible new destination. Toronto’s Morris Peterson is also drawing some attention from Gregg Popovich as a possible compliment to the team’s guard/forward rotations.

3. Redd Alert
It’s going to be tough for any team to replace 27.7 points per game, but for the Milwaukee Bucks it’s going to be impossible. The injury to Michael Redd will keep him sidelined for anywhere from four to six weeks and by the time he returns, the Bucks ship might be sunk. Milwaukee is currently clinging to the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference and they can directly attribute that to the offensive outbursts by Redd. Look at how the Sixers have handled losing their star scorer; and Philly actually got something in return when they lost 30 points from the lineup! Their upcoming schedule is not exactly terrifying, but nobody on the calendar can be taken lightly when your only 16-18. And with the mediocrity that saturates the East, there are far too many teams with losing records who are dying to back into the playoffs for Milwaukee to think they can survive without their shooting star.

Monday’s Player of the Day: Ruben Patterson @ Denver 38 min, 29 pts (FG: 13-21, FT: 3-6), 12 reb, 7 ast, 4 stl

Tuesday’s Game to Watch: Dallas (27-8) @ Utah (24-10) The Jazz have been sporadic of late but they remain strong at home where they are 14-2. Carlos Boozer and Deron Williams continue to provide a modern day version of Utah Hall of Famers Karl Malone and John Stockton. But the Stockton/Malone pick-n-roll might not be enough to slow down the white hot Mavs. Even though Dallas lost to the Lakers and had their impressive streak ended, nobody has been better than the Mavericks this season. Dirk Nowitzki and Josh Howard can already make their reservations for Las Vegas in February. However, Dallas’ weakness has been in their blue uniforms as they’ve dropped five games away from home.

Buzzer Beater: You’ve got to love a guy like Melvin Ely who can ask for a trade with a smile on his face. The Bobcats’ forward realizes that he is going to be stuck on the bench behind youngsters like Emeka Okafor and Sean May but instead of making waves, Ely has demanded for a trade in a professional manner that can only improve his appeal to other teams. Too often trades involve negative feelings between players and management, but its guys like Ely who understand they make an extremely profitable livelihood by playing a child’s game, and despite the unfavorable circumstance, there is no losing situation.

San Antonio Spurs

Odds and Ends: Eva Longoria already has Tony Parker on lockdown

Yes folks, it’s just another excuse to run a pic of Eva Longoria but In Touch Weekly (you know, the magazine you pretend not to read at the dentist office) is reporting that Eva has banned Tony Parker from having a bachelor party because she thinks it’s just asking for trouble. Hmmm… unless Jessica Alba or Scarlett Johannson is showing up at the bachelor party and giving lapdances, we think Eva is pretty safe that she won’t get traded in.

In other news…

[MSNBC]: LaDanian Tomlinson becomes the first Charger to win MVP

[SI ]: Not only were the players juiced, so were the balls

[Sportsline]: If a WNBA franchise folds in the woods…

[MSNBC]: Appleby says Wie ‘not ready’ to play men

[NBA]: Finally, an NBA All-Star team worth voting for: Dancers!

[The Offside]: This might be your last chance to see Ronaldo’s ex having sex on YouTube

NBA General

Around the Rim: Dishing Out a Different Kind of Rock

Long term contract

1. Happy Housewife
You might as well get his finger size now because this summer Tony Parker will receive his third ring since becoming a Spur. And he doesn’t even have to win the NBA Finals to get it. That’s because the guard will be marrying his long time girlfriend and Desperate Housewives hottie, Eva Longoria. While Parker is referred to as the student in the relationship’s more intimate of moments, he certainly taught the world how to properly squash a rumor. Not too long ago, these two were reportedly done with one another. Now, after two years of dating, it looks like Parker has finally learned the importance of having a good teacher.

2. Not Up His Alley
Allen Iverson failed to make a team function on Wednesday at, of all places, a bowling alley. Understandable, considering his history of bowling brawls. It’s not clear as to why Iverson failed to show but Maurice Cheeks said that he will be fined accordingly. If I had to guess, he probably didn’’t want to wear those hideous, thirty year-old shoes infested with foot fungus that have grown so powerful they are immune to the alley’s heralded “sterilizing” Lysol bath. Sure he upset a few fans and a few sponsors by not showing up, but in the end, what are we talking about? We talking about bowling, man. I mean, how silly is that?

3. All in a Quarters Work
Wow, Kobe Bryant did it again. Everybody knows that he can go off and any moment; last night he proved why you can never take your eyes off of him, not even for a quarter. The defensive minded Jazz got torched by Bryant for 52, including 30 in the third quarter alone. That’s a ridiculous total when you consider that only three players in the entire league average 30 for a full game. In the third, Bryant was nine of nine from the floor and ten of ten from the free throw line. The entire repertoire was on display last night; powerful slashing dunks, fade away jumpers, outside set shots, driving pull-ups, it was all there. While Kobe has serious competition for the title of best overall player in the league, there is no question that he is the NBA’s most explosive scorer.

Thursday’s Player of the Day: Kobe Bryant vs. Utah Jazz 34 min, 52 pts (FG: 19-26, 3FG: 2-3, FT: 12-15), 4 reb, 3 ast, 1 blk

Friday’s Game to Watch: Sacrament (8-5) @ Dallas (11-4) Somebody has to beat Dallas eventually, right? The Mavericks have ripped off 11 straight victories after losing the first four games of the year. The Kings are on a winning streak of their own, although it’s not as impressive. After dropping three in a row to some tough competition, including San Antonio and Utah, Sac-Town has won three straight and could use a victory over an elite team to gain some serious confidence. Despite leaving the last game early because of blurred vision and then missing the following practice, Dirk Nowitzki is expected to start.

Buzzer Beater: Bozi Wells has consistently been an inconsistent player and a volatile element everywhere he has gone. Controversy has followed him throughout his career and now, Houston has to deal with his shenanigans. Apparently, Wells is simply too out of shape to get any playing time. Not injured, just fat. As a third option on the Rockets, this was Wells best opportunity to have an important role and be on a winning team, but he can’t even get conditioned well enough to set foot on the floor. Wells has always been conceded and selfish but now his raw talent can’t overshadow his behavior. What an embarrassment.

NBA General

Around the Rim: The Polls Are Open

Fishing All-Star?

1. All-Stars?
The nominations for the All-Star Game to be held in Las Vegas are available, and apparently the NBA officials decided to do some gambling of their own with the ballot. 120 players made the list. Do we really need a list of 120 players when everybody knows that there are really only about 40 to 45 that actually deserve consideration? The slogan for this ballot should have been, “What’s discussed in the league office, stays in the league office,” because some of these nominees are a joke. To name a few: Luol Deng, Hedo Turkoglu, Juan Dixon, Francisco Elson, Zaza Pachulia, Luke Ridnour, Speedy Claxton and Chris Mihm. Seriously, Chris Mihm? I know he’s done for the season but even if he wasn’t, who would seriously expect him to make it as the starting center for the western conference? Obviously, these players are in the NBA for a reason and that is because they have talent, but remember that fans only get to vote for the starters of the all-star game. So, it makes no sense to even waste ink on printing the names of guys like Primoz Brezec. But, hey, it’s your vote. If you want to see Chris Kaman and Nenad Krstic line up across from each other at tip-off, then, by all means, go perform your duty as a fan and make your voice heard.

2. Child’s Play released their current top-ten list for the MVP and there are some unexpected names on the list. Sure, you have a couple of past winners, Kevin Garnett at sixth and Tim Duncan at seventh, but so far it seems that this is a young man’s league. The list is topped by LeBron James, who is only 21 years old with three years of experience. Following James on the list is Carlos Boozer (24 with 4 years experience), Zach Randolph (25/5), Yao Ming (26/4) and Lamar Odom (27/7). Behind Garnett (30/11) and Duncan (30/9) are Chris Paul (21/1), Dwight Howard (20/2) and Joe Johnson (25/5). The average age of the players, not including past winners, is only 23.6 years old with 3.9 years of experience. Obviously, the league is not only getting younger but players no longer take years to become elite stars. If one of these young studs wins the award, they will certainly be one of the most inexperienced MVP’s in the history of the game.

3. Upset City
For a team that is 6-2, San Antonio sure isn’t playing like a dominant, championship caliber club. The Spurs had their 5 game winning streak snapped by the, now 2-6, Bobcats last night in overtime, 95-92. San Antonio allowed rookie Adam Morrison to light them up for a career high 27 and lost to Charlotte for the first time in Bobcat history. But it’s not just that, SA had to make a furious rally to beat Houston on Tuesday after falling behind by 19 in the third quarter. New York put together a late streak and almost stole one in the teams’ first match-up and then hung around again in the second game between the two. It took overtime to beat Phoenix and Cleveland gave the Spurs their first loss in San Antonio. The team might be 4-0 on the road for the first time in the team’s history but they have lost two out of four at home and they are ninth in the league in turnovers. While it’s good that San Antonio knows how to win the close games, it shows that the Spurs are not yet committed to playing strong for a full 48 minutes.

4. When Kobe Attacks
It is not uncommon for players in the NBA to throw elbows, but they are usually directed at other players, not fans. However, a Tennessee man claims that Kobe Bryant did just that during a Memphis home game in November 2005. Bill Geeslin is suing for more than $75,000 in damages resulting from Bryant’s elbow blow. According to the lawsuit, Bryant left the court, apparently after a loose ball, and landed on Geeslin who was sitting courtside. Without being provoked, Kobe, allegedly, violently struck the fan in the chest with his elbow. The settlement is supposedly intended to cover the costs of medical treatment for unspecified injuries from the “assault and battery.” Either that or he is just another greedy parasite trying to retire early on the dime of a wealthy celebrity.

Wednesday’s Player of the Day: Jason Kidd vs. Milwaukee 38 min, 25 pts (FG: 9-14, 3FG: 3-5, FT: 4-4), 8 reb, 11 ast, 3 stl, 1 blk

Thursday’s Game to Watch: Chicago (3-4) @ Houston (5-3) Houston is 2-1 at home and looking for revenge after blowing a late lead against the Spurs on Tuesday. Yao Ming is the current Western Conference Player of the Week and is establishing himself as the most dominant center in the league, averaging 26.4 points, 9.5 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game. The Bulls are playing in their second game of a long, seven game road trip that includes all three Texas teams. Chicago is 1-3 away from home this year and need a road win badly, for confidence sake.

NBA General

Around the Rim: Milwaukee’s Best

1. Redd Hot
Despite losing to the Utah Jazz on Saturday by a score of 113-111, thanks to a shot with less than two seconds remaining, the Bucks front office is feeling much better about giving Michael Redd a truly unprecedented contract last year. Redd’s six-year, $91 million contract was the most lucrative in Bucks’ history and proved to be a valuable investment after Redd dropped a franchise record 57 on the Jazz. It was the most points in a game by a losing player since some guy named Jordan scored 64 in an overtime loss to Orlando in 1993. Redd also became only the third player in the last 40 years to score 57 or more without an assist. Sure, it’s pretty selfish, but when you’re stroking it like he was, why pass? Redd had 39 in the second half to erase a 24 point deficit and ended the night with an incredible shooting performance to boast; 18 of 32 field goals, 6 of 12 from behind the arc and 15 of 17 at the charity stripe.

2. Don’t Quit Your Day Job
Ron Artest might want to reconsider his future career in the hip-hop industry. That’s because according to SoundScan, Artest’s debut album sold a paltry 343 copies during its first week on the shelves. Apparently, the “Malice in the Palace” did nothing to help his street cred. While it’s obvious that Artest’s record, entitled “My World”, is an utter flop; it takes a rapping white boy known for leeching his way to success to prove it. That’s right, Kevin Federline, Britney Spears’ soon to be ex-husband, released his new album on Halloween and it, somehow, managed to move 6,000 units during its first week. And that’s after getting body slammed by WWE Champion John Cena on national television. Maybe Artest could compete if Hulk Hogan were to deliver a boot to his face during halftime of the next Kings home game.

3. If You Don’t Have Anything Nice To Say

New York and San Antonio continued a bitter rivalry on Saturday. Lots of current bad blood resides within these teams for one another, luckily they only play twice a year. A bit of a squabble broke out when Bruce Bowen and Isiah Thomas both received technical fouls during the first quarter. The incident occurred after Thomas yelled something to Bowen. Gregg Popovich was also involved in the verbal altercation but did not receive a technical for his part. Several factors contributed toward this outburst between the teams. Earlier in the season, Bruce Bowen upset many Knick players when his foot slid underneath Steve Francis on a jumper, leading to a sprained ankle. Apparently, Thomas felt Bowen was attempting to do the same to guard Jamal Crawford. Popovich’s interjection probably had to do with, not only Thomas accusing his player of being dirty, but with the role Thomas played, as GM of the Knicks, in what Popovich believes has been poor treatment of his good friend Larry Brown. Another not-so-memorable moment between these two 1999 Finals teams occurred in 2001 when, then Knick, Marcus Camby threw a blindsided punch at Danny Ferry which eventually led to his coach, Jeff van Gundy, receiving a cut over his eye.

4. Multidimensional
Jason Kidd recorded his second triple-double of the early season on Sunday versus Washington. Kidd racked up his 77th career triple-dip by scoring 15 points, grabbing 11 boards and dishing out an astounding 18 assists. In the midst of all those assists, Kidd leapfrogged over Rod Strickland for seventh all-time. Kidd has been king of the triple-double since Magic Johnson retired and now sits one behind Wilt Chamberlain for third all-time. Kidd will eventually pass Chamberlain, however he will have to be content with third because he will never catch Magic (138) or Oscar Robertson (181). While Kidd is the current face of the triple-double, he never averaged one over an entire season as Robertson did in 1961-62. In what many believe is the greatest accomplishment in the history of the NBA, Robertson averaged 30.8 points, 12.5 rebounds and 11.4 assists. The closest Kidd came was in 1999-2000 when he had 14.3 points, 7.2 rebounds and 10.1 assists. Many believe that the mark set by Robertson will never be matched. Ahem, are you listening LeBron?

Sunday’s Player of the Day: Vince Carter @ Washington 42 min, 34 pts (FG: 10-22, 3FG: 5-8, FT: 9-10), 2 reb, 7 ast, 3 stl, 2 blk

Monday’s Game to Watch: Seattle (3-4) @ New Jersey (3-2) Seattle is bringing a two game winning streak with them to New Jersey where the Nets are 2-1. The Sonics are hoping that Ray Allen, who is averaging 26 points a game, packed enough of his sharp shooting skills to help wrap up a five game, east coast road trip. New Jersey has firepower of its own in “Half-Man, Half-Amazing” Vince Carter and his 29.8 points per game. It looks like the Nets might have to play without Richard Jefferson who missed Sunday’s game due to an ankle sprain.

Dallas Cowboys

Odds and Ends: TO powderkeg temporarily defused

Dude, I had the curry!

Like they say, winning is the best defuser. (Or was that deodorant?) In any case, a weekend that had the potential for being the one in which Owens blew up quickly turned into a lovefest as the Cowboys got to take on the Texans at home. It was coming folks. After a report that TO got into a verbal altercation with his wide receivers coach Todd Haley because he was late to practice with stomach problems, an upset by the Texans would have sent everyone over the edge. Jerry Jones was quoted as saying that Haley would be disciplined for his part in the argument. TO said the relationship was ruined. Drew Bledsoe stinks on ice. Three ingredients for a meltdown. Instead, a 3 TD performance by the player resulted in hugs for the wide receiver coach, TO being a good teammate and now the Cowboys are denying any discipline for Haley. So for those of you in the Terrell Owens Meltdown Pool, week 6 wasn’t it. It’s coming though. It’s coming.

In other news…

[]: Stephen Jackson says he was only defending teammates

[BBC Sport]: Baseball’s steroids problem so rampant, it’s now affecting cricket

[STLToday]: Hell, even chess players are cheating now

[People]: Thank goodness, what would we do without more shots of Eva Longoria in the stands

[The Hater Nation]: Ed Hocholi makes Scott Linehan look foolish

[Phillies Nation]: A-Rod to the Phillies is a recipe for suicide watch

[The Pink Seats]: Bet the over on # of athletes bagged by Paris Hilton