Posted on: December 9, 2008 8:19 pm

LeBron gets a record, gives another

Some cool stuff happening in the Raptors-Cavs game on NBA TV.

LeBron James became the Cavaliers' career steals leader in the first quarter, passing Mark Price. In the opening minutes, LBJ tipped away a pass and went in for an uncontested dunk -- one of several, each more ferocious than the last -- for his 735th steal in 412 games. Price had 734 in 582 games.

In the second quarter, LeBron backed away from a defensive rebound and let it go to Zydrunas Ilgauskas, who passed Brad Daugherty for the franchise record. I don't know about you, but as a young basketball fan, I loved watching those Price-Daugherty-Larry Nance-Craig Ehlo teams. Loved how they played beautiful basketball, and cringed at all the heartbreak at the hands of Michael Jordan.

I'm going to steal a phrase from my former colleague, Alan Hahn of Newsday. With all these dunks by LeBron tonight, I'm gathering that the Toronto coaching change wasn't geared toward stepping up the defense. It's 59-51 Cleveland at halftime.

Just bloggin.



Category: NBA
Posted on: December 9, 2008 11:17 am

Morning Shootaround

Let's get right down to it, before another coach gets fired:

* Stephon Marbury says he almost fell victim to a hoax perpetrated by two alleged Swiss bankers claiming to be recruiting him with a lucrative deal to play for Real Madrid. This illustrates two things: 1) Wealthy athletes are easy targets of scam artists, and 2) Marbury needs to get an agent, get himself extricated from New York, and resume his NBA career somewhere else.

* Glad to see Chinese officials have gotten to the bottom of age-shaving in basketball. Their next task is to find Yao a couple of healthy teammates and fly them first-class to Houston.

* Breakin Down The Game has a buffet of interesting links, including another Kobe-MJ comparison via BallerBlogger, and a Dime Mag Q&A with Kenyon Martin, who reveals who his coach and four teammates would be if he had the choice.

* Superman had quite a night on his 23rd birthday -- 23 points and 22 rebounds for Dwight Howard in Orlando's 95-88 victory over the Clips. As hopeless as Mike Dunleavy's squad is, you have to admit Zach Randolph (21 points, 12 rebounds) is a stat machine. Just gets his 20 and 10 and goes home. (Or, gets his 20 and 10, goes somewhere else, then goes home). The dude knows how to fill a box score.

* Dwyane Wade, unstoppable again: 41 points to add to his scoring lead in Miami's 100-96 home win over Charlotte, plus a key defensive rebound and coast-to-coast dunk with the game on the line late in the fourth. Wages of Wins tries to figure out how many games Miami can win.

* As expected, the Pistons just announced they've re-signed Antonio McDyess, who was traded to Denver in the Billups-A.I. swap and then waived. Dyess will give first-year coach Michael Curry a dependable veteran coming off the bench. As inconsistent as the Pistons have been, Curry needs someone he can count on every night.


Category: NBA
Posted on: December 8, 2008 10:37 am
Edited on: December 8, 2008 1:02 pm

Morning Shootaround (UPDATE)

UPDATE: Not even two months into the NBA season, and we have our fourth head coach firing -- with more sure to come.

The Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday fired coach Randy Wittman and installed vice president of basketball operations Kevin McHale as interim coach. first reported on Sunday that owner Glen Taylor was contemplating replacing Wittman, 4-15 this season, with McHale, who returns to the bench for the first time since taking over for the fired Flip Saunders on an interim basis in 2004-05. McHale finished that season 19-12.

The scenario illustrates how frustrated Taylor is -- not only with the T-Wolves' 4-15 start, but with McHale's remaking of the roster in the wake of the trade sending Kevin Garnett to the Celtics in July 2007.

Taylor also considered promoting assistant coach Jerry Sichting to Wittman's post, according to an NBA coaching source. Instead, Taylor decided to give McHale the Isiah Thomas treatment -- forcing the executive who dismantled the roster by trading Kevin Garnett to the Celtics in July 2007 to coach the team he'd assembled.

UPDATE: This statement from Taylor tells you everything you need to know about his thinking: "Kevin has assembled the players on this team, and believes in their talent and skill level. It is my expectation that Kevin will be able to get the most out of our team and our players in his new role as head coach." The Timberwolves will have a news conference at 2 p.m. CST to address the changes.

In March 2007, named McHale as the best general manager in the NBA. Within months, McHale began the inevitable teardown process by dealing Garnett to the Celtics for a package of five players -- including Al Jefferson -- plus two first-round picks.

The move is similar to Madison Square Garden chairman James Dolan's decision to force Thomas, then the team president, to coach after Larry Brown was fired following a 23-win season in 2005-06. Thomas never turned the Knicks around, either as coach or president, and was reassigned to a low-level scouting role this past spring when Donnie Walsh was hired as president and Mike D'Antoni as coach.

The Wolves are oh-for-December, having lost five in a row since beating Oklahoma City on Nov. 28. The carnage includes consecutive blowout losses at New Jersey and at home against the Clppers. Wittman was 38-105 since taking over for Dwane Casey in January 2007.

The rest of your Morning Shoot:

* Kings coach Reggie Theus, sensing the end could be near for him, too, held an impromptu sitdown with the team's beat writers Sunday and seemed resigned to his fate. Theus defended the job he's done and said, "I really hope I have the opportunity to finish out." Sacramento is 5-16, and a loss to the Lakers on Tuesday night would be the ninth straight at home, longest in the 51-year-history of the franchise.

* Knicks president Donnie Walsh will meet with Cuttino Mobley's agent, Andy Miller, this week to discuss the player's future. "It's his health. It's his call," Walsh said. Mobley, acquired from the Clippers in the Zach Randolph trade, may be forced to retire due to a potentially fatal heart condition. My sources have provided conflicting information as to whether Mobley signed a waiver with his current contract, which pays him $19 million over the next two years. Such a provision would provide the Knicks with some salary cap relief if Mobley has to retire. "I have to check that out," Walsh said.

* Walsh and banished guard Stephon Marbury could be back at the negotiating table this week to complete buyout talks. Walsh is believed to be considering using the roster spot to sign Patrick Ewing Jr., who excelled with the team in training camp and preseason and has been staying close to the team since then. But the Knicks' banged-up backcourt -- including a groin injury to Nate Robinson -- may compel Walsh to look for guard help. Marbury has no agent, so it is difficult to assess where he might be able to get a new contract. A person with close ties to Marbury told me Miami is the favorite, and insisted that Starbury is intent on talking with the Celtics, who could easily clear a roster spot by releasing Sam Cassell, who has a non-guaranteed contract. With a 20-2 record and designs on winning 70 regular season games and repeating as champions, I would strongly advise Danny Ainge against it.

* A person familiar with the situation expressed optimism that the paperwork will be completed in time for Antonio McDyess' re-signing with the Pistons to be completed in time for him to suit up for Tuesday night's game in Washington.

* Glen "Big Baby" Davis said he wasn't embarrassed when Kevin Garnett eviscertated him on the bench during a game Friday night against Portland. When the reserves, Davis included, started letting a big lead slip away, Garnett ripped into the second group in the huddle during a timeout. Davis walked away and was seen crying on the bench moments later. "It's not embarrassing at all," Davis said. "It's a lot of passion." Coach Doc Rivers sided with Garnett in the incident, saying that Davis became "a distraction at that moment" because he let his emotions get the best of him. Rivers wouldn't divulge what Garnett was saying to Davis, but suffice it to say it wasn't printable anyway.







Category: NBA
Posted on: December 7, 2008 4:24 pm

Lineup change coming for Pistons

New York – Micheal Curry has seen enough slow starts and Sunday snoozefests. It’s time for a lineup change.

“I’m going to do something with that lineup,” the Pistons’ coach said Sunday after his team failed to answer the bell for a noon start at Madison Square Garden. The Pistons fell behind by 29 in the second quarter and lost 104-92 to the Knicks, falling to 0-5 this season in Sunday games.

“I’ve got guys coming off the bench like Aaron Affalo and Walter Herrmann that consistently play the way we need them to play and I’ve got to find more minutes for those two guys,” Curry said.

Affalo (17 points off the bench) and Herrmann (4 points, 2 rebounds) will continue to come off the bench, as will Antonio McDyess after he re-signs with Detroit, presumably in time for the Pistons’ next game Tuesday at Washington. With the next two opponents (Wizards and Pacers) using smaller lineups, Curry will go small as well. That means Kwame Brown (scoreless in 10:24 against the Knicks) is out and either Stuckey or Amir Johnson is in.

More likely, it’s Stuckey, who has logged 30 minutes in a game only once in the 15 games since Detroit acquired Allen Iverson from the Nuggets.

“You don’t have to worry about me coming out and playing hard,” Stuckey said. “I try to do that every game. Well, I’m gonna do it every game.”

Curry loves Stuckey’s aggressiveness and ability to finish, and liked what he got from a lineup of Iverson, Rip Hamilton, Stuckey, Rasheed Wallace, and Tayshaun Prince in the second half, when the Pistons twice cut the 29-point deficit to five. Prince slides down from small forward to power forward in that lineup, creating mismatches for the defense.

The Pistons have always been one of the more puzzling powers in the East, but they’re even more so since trading Chauncey Billups, McDyess, and Cheikh Samb to Denver for Iverson and his $21.9 million expiring contract. Beat the Lakers and Spurs on the road and Cleveland at home, lose to the Timberwolves, Sixers, and now the Knicks.

“We get a lot of money to come out here and perform to the highest of our ability,” said Iverson, who played 40-plus minutes for the third straight game and was 6-for-18 from the field with 17 points and seven assists. “There’s no reason why you should come out here and give bad effort.”

Well, except for the fact that they’re the Pistons. Effort has always been optional, especially in December. And especially when the game is on Sunday and starts at noon.



Category: NBA
Posted on: December 7, 2008 11:56 am
Edited on: December 7, 2008 4:33 pm

Wittman watch is on (UPDATE)

If the Randy Wittman watch wasn't already on, it is now.

Five straight losses, the last two blowouts, and the last one at home Saturday night -- a 107-84 debacle against the Clippers. T-Wolves GM Kevin McHale traveled with the team on the road trip that ended with a 113-84 loss at New Jersey, and that is never a good sign. There has been no word from the team or Wittman's agent, Lonnie Cooper, but the Wolves are off until Tuesday night against Utah, leaving ample time to install an interim coach.

Some of the tell-tale signs that a coach -- or someone else -- is about to get fired were on display Saturday night at Target Center: derisive chants directed at McHale, at least one call for Wittman to be fired, and a curt "not tonight" from owner Glen Taylor when he was asked to comment on the situation.

UPDATE: The response from Taylor was a sure sign he's up to something, and indeed, he is. McHale replacing Wittman on the bench is one of several scenarios under consideration, a person with knowledge of the T-Wolves' thinking said Sunday. Another option is elevating assistant coach Jerry Sichting to the head job. Before rejoning Minnesota in June 2007, Sichting was an assistant coach at Marquette. Prior to that, he was with the T-Wolves from 1995-2005 in assistant coach and scouting roles.



Category: NBA
Posted on: December 5, 2008 10:36 pm
Edited on: December 6, 2008 3:57 pm

KG makes Big Baby cry (UPDATE)

I'm watching the Celtics blow out the Blazers on TV, and if you're not, well, I'm sorry. You missed Kevin Garnett making one of his teammates cry.

With about six minutes left, and the Celtics' 25-point lead trimmed to 13 with the subs on the floor, Garnett gathered his teammates in the huddle during a timeout and reamed them out. It must have been some tough, tough language -- especially the invective dirtected toward Glen Davis, who angrily broke away from the huddle and sat down at the end of the bench.

Garnett and the other starters had to go back on the floor to finish the job. As the timeout wound down, the cameras showed Davis on the bench, shouting in Garnett's direction and waving a white towel. That gesture was appropriate, because it appeared that Davis was -- gulp -- crying.

Now we know why they call him Big Baby.

Now we know how much KG wants to win another championship.

While Garnett was on the floor closing out the game, Davis sat on the bench with a white towel on his head. At one point, while KG appeared to motion toward the bench and say, "I'm all right. I got it."


UPDATED Dec. 6, 3:58 p.m.: Here's the YouTube clip

Category: NBA
Posted on: December 5, 2008 4:51 pm
Edited on: December 5, 2008 5:19 pm

'03 draft class shines in scoring race

Kudos to Chris Tomasson of the Rocky Mountain News for this stellar bit of research: Never in the history of the NBA have the top three scorers come from the same draft class. It's happening so far this season, with Dwyane Wade (28.4), LeBron James (27.4), and Chris Bosh (26.6).

You may have heard that those three will be the prized free agents in the summer of 2010.

How cool would it be if they finished 1-2-3 at the end? One thing I know for sure is that they will finish 1-2-3 two summers from now.

(Thanks again to TrueHoop for the link.)

Category: NBA
Posted on: December 5, 2008 4:37 pm
Edited on: December 5, 2008 4:59 pm

Friend of Ray Allen was holed up in Mumbai hotel

TrueHoop pointed us to a story in the Boston Globe saying that a friend of Ray Allen's was in the Mumbai, India hotel when it was attacked by terrorists last week.

The friend, Daryl Jones, a Northwest Airlines flight attendant, made it back safely to the United States after stopping in Germany and the Netherlands.
Category: NBA
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