Culture of Hoops

News and Rumors: Week of 12.15.2013

12/21/2013 – Brook Lopez to miss the rest of the regular season with broken foot: Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez broke his right foot in Friday night’s loss to the Philadelphia 76ers and is expected to miss the rest of the season, a person with knowledge of the situation confirmed to USA TODAY Sports. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the diagnosis had not yet been announced. When the Nets later announced the news mid-day Saturday, they revealed that he fractured the fifth metatarsal in the right foot. This is the fourth setback he has suffered with this foot, as he had it surgically repaired three times since 2011. He played just five games in the 2011-12 season, then returned to have his best year yet in 2012-13 (19.4 points, 6.9 rebounds, 2.1 blocks per game) as the Nets went 49-33 in the regular season and fell to Chicago in the first round of the playoffs. Lopez played the entire game against Philadelphia on Friday, including the final play in overtime in which he tried unsuccessfully to block Evan Turner’s game-winning shot. It wasn’t immediately clear when the injury may have taken place, but the person said it was believed to be in the second half when Lopez was fouled and had his foot landed on. Lopez did not speak to the media after the game. USA Today

12/21/2013 – Pacers destroy Rockets at home by 33 points: After taking two big hits this week — losing at home and dropping back-to-back games for the first time all season — Indiana struck back by playing its most complete game of the year. Paul George finished with 24 points and nine rebounds, Lance Stephenson added 16 points and six assists, and the defense completely shut down Houston in a 114-81 rout. “This team doesn’t like losing,” coach Frank Vogel said. “We talked about playing mad for four quarters.” By following Vogel’s plan, the Pacers continued to add to an already strong resume. While some try to discount Indiana’s quick start because they’re playing in the struggling Eastern Conference, the Pacers still have a firm grip on the conference’s best record (21-5) and have already beaten three of the Western Conference’s top teams — the Clippers, Spurs and now the Rockets. The way Indiana has been winning is just as impressive. Despite taking Dwight Howard’s best shot Friday — Houston’s center had 19 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks — Indiana still managed to manhandle the usually potent Rockets’ offense. Houston (17-10) entered the game second in scoring average and third in field goal percentage. It left Indianapolis having shot 38.1 percent in the game, compiling a season-low in points and losing to Indiana for the fourth straight time. Even James Harden, the league’s No. 6 scorer, couldn’t get started. He was just 3 of 14 from the field and scored only 12 points, primarily against George. It was a disturbing twist for Houston, which had won three of its previous five, had beaten Chicago by 25 points on Wednesday and was trying to keep pace with division-leading San Antonio. ESPN

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12/20/2013 – Kobe Bryant out at least six weeks with left knee injury: Kobe Bryant is expected to miss six weeks with a fracture of the lateral tibial plateau in his left knee, the Los Angeles Lakers announced Thursday. Bryant suffered the injury Tuesday night during the visiting Lakers’ 96-92 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies. The Lakers said Thursday that an MRI showed the fracture. “All I can do is do the work. And do everything I can to be back at the highest level,” Bryant told ESPN. Bryant also took to Twitter after news of the setback was announced Thursday. Bryant will not require any surgical procedures on the knee, according to a source. It’s just a matter of letting the bone heal. The injury is an undeniable blow to the Lakers, who in late November signed Bryant to a two-year, $48.5 million contract extension before the 35-year-old had made it back onto the court from a torn Achilles tendon he suffered in April. “That’s too bad,” coach Mike D’Antoni said at the team’s practice Thursday. “You hate it for Kobe. He worked so hard to get back. But he’ll be back. He’ll be back in six weeks, and we’ll deal with it and weather the storm until he gets back.” ESPN

12/20/2013 – Spurs, sans Big 3, earn win against the Warriors: With or without their star trio, the San Antonio Spurs play with a championship pedigree. Tiago Splitter tipped in a rebound with 2.1 seconds left, lifting the short-handed Spurs to a 104-102 victory over the Golden State Warriors on Thursday night. San Antonio (21-5) rested Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker sat out for the second straight game with a bruised right shin. None of it mattered. “They did play well in the absence of our players, but it happens a lot in this league when players are hurt and other players want to prove something,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “They want to show the coach they should be getting more minutes and that the coach doesn’t know what the heck he’s talking about.” The Spurs used big nights from Marco Belinelli, Kawhi Leonard and Patty Mills to hand the Warriors (14-13) another devastating defeat in a rematch of last season’s Western Conference semifinals. ESPN

12/20/2013 – Rockets end talks to trade Asik; teammates have open arms:

Players at practice hope Asik is healthy soon and available to play. “He’s great for our team,” guard James Harden said. “He’s one of the best big men in the NBA, defensively as well. He complements our team so well. We’re fortunate to have him on our team.” In the midst of all the trade talk over the last month, players say they have tried to block it out and focus on their goals on the court. Forward Chandler Parsons said the Rockets (17-9) are ready to get on with the season even as the trade talks persist. “We don’t think about that when the ball goes up in the games, but it has definitely been a cloud over our team’s head,” Parsons said. “We just want to have our final roster, and we want to go forward and get better with the guys we have. If Omer is here, that is great, and let’s get to work and start playing together.” Center Dwight Howard, who took Asik’s starting spot this season, hopes Asik comes back and helps the team win. Howard said he and Asik can be a good combination. But making that combo work is going to take some compromise. “Like we said at the beginning of the year, it is going to take a total team effort for us to win a championship,” Howard said. “I know he has had a rough time, but the only thing we can do as a team is continue to lift him up, continue to try to help him understand that he is a big part of the team. “I know he might not feel that way, but he is.” Houston Chronicle

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12/19/2013 – Heat overcome big deficit in win against Pacers:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g4WzRwDXLjU[/youtube]

For so much of the night, just about everything was going wrong for the Miami Heat. They were missing every 3-pointer, arguing plenty of calls, even screaming at one another. Then one quick burst changed everything. Dwyane Wade scored 32 points, LeBron James added 24 on a sore left ankle, and Chris Bosh and Ray Allen connected on huge 3-pointers within a 31-second span down the stretch. It all added up to the Heat erasing a 15-point deficit in the final 18 minutes to beat the rival Indiana Pacers 97-94 on Wednesday. “It shows we’re a team that’s been there before,” Wade said. “No matter what the score is we always feel we have an opportunity to win the game.” So even when Indiana led 68-53 midway through third quarter, hope remained. And even when James and Mario Chalmers were getting in a heated exchange during one particularly bleak stretch the Heat didn’t fall apart. “It was a good win,” James said. “Good, good, quality win against a very good team on our home floor. We had to overcome a lot.” ESPN

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12/18/2013 – Blazers top Cavaliers after Damian Lillard’s near buzzer-beating jumper:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rz_HM7Cg31w[/youtube]

The Portland Trail Blazers kept it real simple with the game on the line. Just get the ball to Damian Lillard, and get out of the way. No need for any fancy calls when Lillard’s on the court. The point guard made a tiebreaking 3-pointer with 0.4 seconds remaining, lifting Portland to a 119-116 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday night. “There is no explaining it,” Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. “Damian had it going, so we ran it through him.” Lillard had a career-high eight 3-pointers while scoring 36 points. The 2013 NBA Rookie of the Year also had a fadeaway jumper as time expired to give Portland a 111-109 overtime victory over Detroit on Sunday. “That was cold-blooded,” Cleveland guard Dion Waiters said. “We knew Lillard was getting the ball. That was a big-time shot.” ESPN

As of Wednesday morning, James is still a game-time decision. – AL

Thank goodness, Marc! Hurry up! – AL

12/18/2013 – Amar’e Stoudemire assures fans that his knees “feel great”:  Just as center Tyson Chandler is nearing a return to game action, New York Knicks coach Mike Woodson says he’s lost another big man, with Amar’e Stoudemire sidelined “a while” due to swelling in his surgically repaired knee. However, Stoudemire contradicted the notion he will be out an extended period, tweeting that he’s not making the trip to Milwaukee, where the Knicks play Wednesday, because of playing in five games last week and in six in nine days overall. At the end of his session with reporters after Tuesday’s practice, Woodson was discussing what Chandler’s return could add to the Knicks, when he mentioned in his final answer to a question that Stoudemire would be out for an unspecified period. “Amar’e’s going to be out a while,” Woodson said. “I don’t know, but he won’t play tomorrow. Kenyon [Martin] is out as well. Hopefully, Tyson feels good after tonight, will be able to get back in uniform. “For us to get out of this hole, it’s going to take a total team effort, and hopefully we’ll eventually get everybody back.” When asked why Stoudemire will be sidelined, Woodson said the “knee has swelled up a little bit.” The Knicks (7-17) certainly don’t need any more injuries, or any more controversy. ESPN

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12/17/2013 – Knicks’ time management blunders lead to one-point loss versus Wizards:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2NoS_hqYN1A[/youtube]

The Wizards made the right call when they put the ball in Bradley Beal’s hands for a last shot Monday night. The Knicks’ decision to not take a timeout after Beal scored didn’t work out so well. Beal’s driving layup with 6 seconds remaining lifted the Wizards to a 102-101 win when New York didn’t use one of its three remaining timeouts and Carmelo Anthony’s attempted 3-pointer bounced off the rim as time expired. “I probably should have taken a timeout there at the end, but you know Beno (Udrih) grabbed it and the ball is in Melo’s hands before I could even react and I should have reacted a lot sooner once the ball went through the bucket,” Knicks coach Mike Woodson said. “So, that’s on me.” Beal led the Wizards with 21 points, including their final seven as Washington erased a six-point fourth-quarter deficit. “I knew in the huddle that if I came off the pick and roll, they were probably going to double me,” Beal said. “My first instinct was to reject the screen and go baseline if I had it. There was absolutely nobody even paying attention, so I just drove it in there.” After Beal scored, the Knicks inbounded the ball to Anthony and he dribbled up court before unleashing his game-winning attempt. “That’s a tough way to lose a game,” Anthony said. “If he (Woodson) said it’s his fault there’s no need for me to make excuses or talk about it. As players, we have to be smarter. We knew we had timeouts. I was just trying to get a shot.” ESPN

12/17/2013 – Lakers’ Chris Kaman unhappy with his role on the Lakers: Chris Kaman has stopped trying to figure out how he fell so far out of the Los Angeles Lakers’ rotation. The veteran center says he joined the team as a free agent this summer because he saw opportunity to play significant minutes and re-establish his value after a couple of up-and-down seasons with New Orleans and Dallas. Instead he’s found himself at the end of the Lakers’ bench. “It’s absolutely not what I was looking for,” Kaman told ESPNLosAngeles.com on Monday morning after the Lakers’ shootaround. “It’s not really in my control. I just try to keep working hard and be ready if the time comes. And if it doesn’t, then it just wasn’t meant to be.” ESPN

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A hall of fame player past his prime comes back from a fractured hand six weeks early, and the head coach rewards him by telling him to come off the bench … I don’t get it. – AL

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[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KUhZzEP5XmI[/youtube]

I forgot Shaqtin’ A Fool last week but there’s no way I can keep it out of News and Rumors. The segment is now a staple of NBA culture. – AL

12/15/2013 – Zach Randolph expresses desire to stay in Memphis despite trade rumors; critical of management for “no loyalty”: “Go figure,” Z-Bo said following the Grizzlies shootaround at New Orleans Arena on Friday. “Memphis is a place that I’ve come to love and call home and it’s where I would definitely like to retire. I haven’t made any secret of that. Everybody out there knows how I feel. “I look at it like this: I understand it’s a business. I really do understand that. This is a small market team and money plays a factor. I understand all that. It’s different now. I don’t know if it’s just changes in (salary cap) rules or just a change in the way of the world. Like I said, it’s a business. “But yeah, it bothers me. It hurts a little bit. I can’t deny that. But it goes to show you that there ain’t no loyalty in this game. It seems like you only get loyalty in certain organizations. You see it in winning organizations like the Spurs, the Lakers, the Heat. “The truth is there ain’t no loyalty or love, except in certain organizations where they keep players around, value them. Only a very few organizations seem like they want to keep players around to retire there. Hey, everybody gets traded. It’s part of the league, part of the life. I’ve been traded a bunch of times.” NBA

Z-Bo says what’s on his mind instead of hiding his opinion as a “source close to the situation.” I wish more NBA veterans had the conviction to do the same. – AL

12/15/2013 – Lakers speak with Knicks about acquiring Iman Shumpert via trade: Los Angeles Lakers superstar shooting guard Kobe Bryant just returned to action, but that hasn’t stopped the team from inquiring about other backcourt players. The Lakers recently called the Knicks to express their interest in Iman Shumpert, according to sources close to the situation. No trade is imminent, and sources say the Lakers’ call was more about doing their due diligence; it’s well-known Shumpert is available. The Lakers are unlikely to make a deal before the end of their current four-game trip, which concludes Tuesday night in Memphis. But with Steve Blake, who is expected to miss at least six weeks with an elbow injury, joining point guards Steve Nash and Jordan Farmar on the injured list, the Lakers could be interested in strengthening their backcourt. Shumpert is more of a shooting guard, but with Bryant taking on more of a playmaking role — averaging a career-high 6.7 assists while attempting fewer than nine shots a game — since returning from a torn Achilles tendon last Sunday, it’s easy to see the two playing together. Shumpert is struggling through a disappointing season, and the Knicks have discussed trades involving him with several other teams, including the Denver Nuggets and Toronto Raptors. ESPN

The Lakers do realize that Shumpert is not a point guard, right? – AL

Danny Ainge should get a championship ring too if he gives the Heat another player that fits in their rotation. – AL

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