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Listless Celtics 'disgusted' by loss to Nets

Posted by dAVe on Sunday, February 28, 2010 , under , | comments (2)

New Jersey Nets

"I got nothing to say. I feel disgusted."

That's how Kevin Garnett reacted after his Boston Celtics (36-21) lost to the New Jersey Nets (6-52) 104-96, a loss that may as well have been by 20.

The Celtics earned a smattering of boos from their home crowd after clocking in with their most lifeless first half of the season, and that's counting a hot start that led to a very early 12-2 lead. As the Nets mounted a 27-14 run to close out the first quarter, the Celtics displayed less energy and willingness to play defense than many teams show every night in the NBA Developmental League.

It was a horror show. It is the low point of Boston's season, and perhaps of the Garnett era. The collapses against the Clevelands and Orlandos of the league are one thing, but scoring 15 points in the second quarter and eventually losing to a team that could turn in the worst record in league history?

"They played better than us. It's not hard to explain," Celtics coach DocRivers said. "We told them yesterday, 'It ain't the system. It's our heads. It's between the ears. And we've got to come out and play. Everyone wants to beat you, you can bank on that.'"

They did mount a comeback, of sorts, though its success would not have removed this game from the category of a moral loss. With some generous shot-clock management from the local staff -- allowing Rasheed Wallace to catch, turn and shoot a 35-footer off an inbounds with one second on the clock -- the Celtics were able to close the deficit, once at 18, to six on two separate occasions in the final 2:09. But four missed threes, good looks all of them, and loose balls going the wrong direction stopped things short.

"I talk about it a lot with our guys, 'Those [plays] are the basketball gods punishing you," Rivers said. "'You have no right to get back in this game.'"

The loss was Boston's 11th of the year at TD Garden, just one less than in the previous two seasons combined.

"Guys are coming in thinking they can win at the Garden, and last year it was totally opposite," Rajon Rondo said.

The Nets' win was no mistake -- they knew they could win. It was a magnificent performance, and one that should not go forgotten in the wake of the doom and gloom that will follow the Celtics around for a couple days.

"I don't [think] it's so much difference between [the Celtics], it's a difference between us," Brook Lopez said. "As we progress through our season we've definitely improved. We finally broke through tonight."

Though the Nets strayed from him on offense in the fourth quarter, Lopez was the bull that brought the game home, playing excellent interior defense while scoring 25 points on just 11 shots, hitting 11-of-14 from the line. Free throws, in fact, were the single largest factor in the game. The Celtics shot a higher percentage -- 50 to 44 -- and made more field goals -- 42 to 32 -- but lost because New Jersey went to the line 41 times, making 34, to their 11 attempts. It was clear which team was the aggressor.

"A lot of the season we've been settling for jump shots at very inopportune times," Lopez said. "Tonight we were very assertive."

It helped that the Celtics were quite the opposite, committing lazy fouls and giving up 18 turnovers and 10 offensive rebounds for a total of 28 extra possessions, handed to the Nets. Those are not problems caused by the absence of Paul Pierce, or by an illness that has gone around the locker room.

"I'm not going to sit up here and give a bunch of excuses," Garnett said. "That's not my style. You lose, you lose. They kicked our [butts] tonight, period point blank.

"Players have to do more, including myself. We all have to dig deep and see what we're made of as a team."

source: Couper Moorhead, for

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Antawn Jamison's Game

Posted by dAVe on Tuesday, February 23, 2010 , under , , | comments (0)

Antawn Jamison, Washington Wizards

After his forgettable debut game with Cleveland Cavaliers, Antawn Jamison has proven his worth as a Cavalier.

In his first game as a Cavalier against the Charlotte Bobcats, Jamison had an awful performance scoring only 2 points from the stripe, 0-13 from the field composed of few air balls and blocked shots. Cleveland fans in the forums quickly expressed their dismay on Jamison's performance and had doubts on the game of the former all-star forward.

It was really a nightmare-game for Jamison. I was not able to watch that game live but I stay tuned via livescore. He came off the bench (sixth man) for JJ Hickson. According to my friend who was able to watch the game on TV, Jamison evidently struggled with the offensive flow of the Cavs.

But Antawn Jamison has finally showed his stuff against Orlando Magic in a losing effort. He finished with 18 points and shooting decently from the field. Today, the Cavs finally break their 3-game skid with a win over the New Orleans hornets, 105-95. Jamison had his first game as a starter earlier than expected because Hickson had flu-like symptoms. He played for 37 minutes and shot 50% from the field, producing 18 points, 5 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 assists.

Despite the win, I think Cleveland is not yet in its best form especially with the current performances of their guards. Mo Williams, Delonte West, Anthony Parker, and D. Gibson are not putting up the numbers just yet. In order for Cleveland to be a formidable team, Lebron and the rest of Cleveland's frontline needs their guards to hit from the outside.

I still believe that Cleveland will grab this year's NBA championship trophy. You can tune into bookmakers and place your bets on that. Go Cavs!

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Giants, Kings Looking for Energy, Sizzle to Square Series

Posted by dAVe on Thursday, February 11, 2010 , under , | comments (0)

James Yap, the main man for Purefoods Tender J...

THEY are facing opponents who have come out and played as sharp as could be expected.

Yet Barangay Ginebra coach Jong Uichico and Purefoods counterpart Ryan Gregorio are pleading with their players to first hurdle their biggest enemy, ones that lie within themselves.

“We want players that, even when things are not going well, they’ll find a way,” said Uichico.

“They need to step up,” stated Gregorio.

The words came after the Giants and Kings suffered lopsided 104-79 and 99-83 losses to San Miguel Beer and Alaska, respectively, last Wednesday at the start of the 2009-10 KFC PBA Philippine Cup semifinal series at the Araneta Coliseum.

The second games of the best-of-seven duels resume Friday at the Cuneta Astrodome and the urgent calls were made in order for the trailers to avoid falling into a deeper hole.

Coaches Siot Tanquingcen of the Beermen and Tim Cone of the Aces shrugged off their Game 1 victories and pointed out they still need to win three more. They also gave much weight to the physical and emotional fatigue their opponents must still be suffering from after going through gruelling five-game quarterfinal affairs that ended only last Sunday.

Their main task, they added, is to brace for a much-improved adversary Friday.

“We have to make sure we don’t fall into a false sense of security,” said Tanquingcen. “First game, parang feeling-out stage lang. Sa second, parang mentality-wise, they’ll think, ‘Back into another series na.’ That’s the time na talagang bakbakan na.”

“We all know what Ginebra’s like, what coach Uichico’s like,” said Cone. “One thing about Jong, he doesn’t panic and because of that, Ginebra’s not gonna panic. They’re gonna take a deep breath, get more focused, then come out and play better.”

For the losing coaches, however, their players unable to find the will to come out and play with more energy is the very root of the problem.

“Nobody really stepped up except for Kerby (Raymundo) and Ping (Marc Pingris). The others were simply absent,” rued Gregorio.

Raymundo paced the team with 18 points while Pingris had 17 points and 10 rebounds. Roger Yap was the lone other double-digit producer for the Giants with 10.

Three days after scoring 28 points in the clincher against Rain or Shine, James Yap scored only eight points – all on charities – as he went 0-of-8 from the field.

“Unfortunately, James probably went full throttle against Rain or Shine in Game 5 and he didn’t have enough gas for today’s game,” noted Gregorio. “We really need James to step up for us and consistently score in order for us to compete and eventually win against San Miguel.”

James Yap’s main reliever, PJ Simon, still has not fully recovered from a knee injury and Paul Artadi is playing with a hamstring pull. That really puts the burden on the other Purefoods players to chip in more than their usual share.

San Miguel is tough enough, especially since its erstwhile injured players are back into their lethal forms.

Jay Washington, Danny Seigle and Danny Ildefonso, who suited up for a total 13 games in the 18-game eliminations, each had at least 10 points and two rebounds in the series opener, complementing usual go-to guys Arwind Santos, Dondon Hontiveros and Denok Miranda.

“When we (were about to) play San Miguel we just really worked on Arwind Santos, Dondon Hontiveros, Jay Washington. And now we have the two Dannys to prepare for,” said Gregorio.

Another player on the comeback trail, Mark Caguioa, showed the way for Ginebra against Alaska. The man who has played a total of only three games in the eliminations and sparingly used in the quarters wound up with 23 points.

But Sunday Salvacion was the only noticeable chipper for the Kings with 14 points as the likes of JC Intal, Ronald Tubid and Eric Menk were stifled. Worse, Celino Cruz and Menk suffered foot sprains in the opener and are doubtful starters Friday.

Which only aggravates Uichico more as he pointed an accusing finger at some of his remaining players who showed little of the spirit Ginebra is known for.

“Iba naman iyung players that have bad games. There’s a difference between players that have bad games but are trying. Iyun ang importante doon, wala ka nang magagawa doon,” he said. “But players that are not trying, that’s really disappointing.”

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Players, teams that may make noise before trade deadline

Posted by dAVe on , under , , | comments (0)


The NBA is a week away from a trading deadline that has more to do with improving budgets than improving teams.

Well, sure, a handful of championship contenders will explore ways to nip and tuck themselves into better shape and possibly add a missing piece that'll give them an edge come spring and summer. That's always the case in the days leading up to the annual NBA swapping bazaar. Except this year is different.

This year, teams are studying salary averages a lot harder than they are scoring averages. This trading deadline will find plenty of teams trying to dump high salaries and bail from long contracts. This is a coupon-clipping, payroll-snipping, pocketbook-zipping trade deadline.

The teams looking to participate fall into one of three categories: Salary-dumpers hoping to clear cap space for the summer free agent market, cash-strapped teams hoping to chop salary to save money and balance the budget, and title-hunters looking to get-rich-quick by stealing a good player for next to nothing in return. In these risky economic times, and with a labor negotiation upcoming, everybody's trying to take advantage of the situation, one way or another.

As with all trade deadlines, there will be roughly 1,000 players speculated to go this way or that, and by the next day, the landscape will remain virtually unchanged. At least that's what history says. Still, in discussions with general managers, agents and scouts in the last few days, a handful of teams and players will be shopping or be shopped between now and then.

Marcus Camby

Everybody wants Camby. He's attractive because his salary is reasonable ($7.6 million), his contract is expiring and he's still a high volume rebounder and solid shotblocker. Several title-contending teams have called the Clippers about Camby, hoping to rent him for a half-season and perhaps re-sign him. But the Clippers want value in return, not someone who'll eat cap space and keep them from buying a free agent this summer.


They're carrying too much bloated weight, with Elton Brand (3 years, $51 million) and Andre Iguodala (4 years, $58 million) owed big money beyond this season, while attendance and results are down significantly. Philly knows an honest rebuilding attempt can't begin until at least one of those contracts is jettisoned. But what team wants to flirt with luxury tax issues by taking either player?

Tracy McGrady

He's got the expiring contract, but nothing else. Nobody knows what he has left, and few teams will give the Rockets anyone of value for him, unless it's a salary dump. If there was a decent offer on the table, he would've been swapped by now. Besides, at this point in his career, can a T-Mac deal be defined as a blockbuster?


They're about to reach the fork in the road of their season. The Grizzlies are winning, yes, but face a big decision on Rudy Gay. He's a restricted free agent this summer and some team could blow him away with an offer that the cash-strapped Grizzlies can't touch. Does Memphis risk the season and trade him now to get something in return, or keep him and try to strike a deal in July?

David West

With Chris Paul done for the year, the Hornets could take this time to trim costs and spare themselves the luxury tax. West is owed two years and $15.5 million, making him much easier to trade than Peja Stojakovic and Emeka Okafor, a pair of cap-killers.

Caron Butler

The wrecking ball is coming to the Wizards sooner or later. They can get a jump by shipping Butler, the most reasonable trade bait on the club, since the Wizards want to keep Antawn Jamison. Of course, the big issue is Gilbert Arenas, but that'll have to wait until his sentencing next month and the Wizards take a closer look at the fine print on his contract, should he end up doing time.


If they really want a shot at Dwyane Wade and perhaps a B-list free agent this summer, then they'll need to free up additional cap room by seeking an expiring contract for Kirk Hinrich and Tyrus Thomas, two expendable players.

Amar'e Stoudemire

The phones are still ringing, but the Suns haven't gotten a decent offer yet. No good team will give up talent for Stoudemire unless they're certain they can re-sign him. Don't be surprised if he finishes the year in Phoenix.


A rival GM said he'd be shocked if the faltering Celtics made a major deal involving Ray Allen and his expiring contract, stressing that contending teams don't close shop so suddenly. True enough. While swapping Allen for a decent guard (Iguodala? Kevin Martin?) does make sense on some levels, the Celtics will likely ride out the Allen-KG-Paul Pierce era through one more postseason.

Chris Bosh and Carlos Boozer

A few months ago, they each had a foot out the door, at least it seemed that way. But now the Jazz are winning big. And the Raptors are gaining ground on the Celtics in the division. Suddenly, winning a playoff round doesn't seem so far-fetched. Neither team seems willing to spoil the fun by pulling the plug on the season.

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Durant drives Thunder past Hawks for third win in row

Posted by dAVe on Wednesday, February 3, 2010 , under , | comments (1)

Oklahoma City Thunder logo

NBA All-Stars Joe Johnson of Atlanta and Kevin Durant of Oklahoma City put on an All-Star caliber show for the fans inside a rocking Ford Center, but it was Thunder forward Jeff Green who capped the night for the home team.

Durant, who scored 33 points, found Green alone in the corner, rifled him a pass and Green tossed in a dagger from 23 feet with 1:42 left in the game to lead the Thunder to a 106-99 win over the Hawks.

The big 3-pointer seemed to take the life out of what had been a valliant comeback by Atlanta.

"I saw Jeff was open for a split second," Durant said, "so I threw it to him and I knew he was gonna hit it."

Green did not disappoint, finishing with 19 points inclduing 3-for-4 on 3-pointers.

Durant picked up another double-double by grabbing 11 rebounds to go along with his 33 points. Durant has now scored 25 or more in 22 straight games, the longest streak in the NBA since Allen Iverson put together a string of 27 straight in the 2000-01 season.

Hawks coach Mike Woodson was more than impressed and he didn't have to hear the chants of M-V-P coming from the Ford Center crowd to know what he was seeing.

"He's very unique," Woodson said. "I look at him now and he's playing like an MVP candidate in this league. He scores very, very easy. That's hard to do in this league. Only the great ones can do that."

Durant has now scored 30 or more points in 28 games, the most of anyone in the NBA.

"This is a good win to end the homestand on. We beat one of the best teams in the league," said Thunder coach Scott Brooks.

"You have to give them credit because defensively they got after us," Woodson said. "We made a game of it in the fourth by getting back in it."

Johnson put his team on his back in the second half, scoring 23 points to finish with a game-high 37. The Hawks went on a 25-12 run from late in the third quarter to the middle of the fourth, tying the game at 89.

"We gave up a couple of transition 3s and that's just unacceptable," Brooks said.

But from that point on Oklahoma City buckled down on defense and made stops and then made shots at the other end of the floor.

"We shot ourselves out of it by taking bad shots coming down the stretch," Woodson said.

OKC point guard Russell Westbrook took over the game during that time, making several key plays on offense and defense.

"I thought Russell's execution in the fourth quarter was as good as it gets," Brooks said. "He made a lot of great decisions and was aggressive at both ends."

Westbrook just missed a triple-double, scoring 12 points, dishing out nine assists and grabbing nine rebounds.

The first half was a back-and-forth battle where both teams struggled to hit baskets. Neither managed to make 40 percent of their shots with Oklahoma City (27-21) shooting only 37.1 percent and Atlanta (30-17) not much better at 39 percent.

The Thunder came in with the fourth-ranked field goal shooting defense in the NBA, limiting teams to 43.7 percent. Rebounds were almost even with OKC leading 23-22.

The Hawks had a sizeable advantage in a couple of areas at the break, leading in points in the paint, 24-16 and in second chance points, 12-6.

Durant led all scorers at halftime with 20 points, while none of his teammates were in double figures.

Johnson led the Hawks with 14 while Josh Smith added 11 through the first half.

Johnson tried to take over the game in the third quarter when he scored 14 points on 6-for-7 shooting to rally his team from a 13-point deficit to just seven, 79-72 at the end of the third.

Johnson's 37 points on 13-for-20 shooting led all scorers, Josh Smith added 15 for the Hawks and Al Horford contributed 14.

Oklahoma City had a big advantage on the boards, outrebounding Atlanta 45-35, the Thunder pulling down 17 offensive rebounds.

Atlanta lost both games to the Thunder this season but has still won nine of their last 13.

Oklahoma City is now on a three-game winning streak and the Thunder have now won six of their last nine as they head into a three-game road swing before the All-Star break.


By Randy Renner, for
Posted Wednesday February 3, 2010 12:10AM

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LeBron does it all as Cavs earn wire-to-wire win

Posted by dAVe on , under , | comments (0)

An image of Cleveland Cavaliers player Zydruna...

It's time to start taking the Memphis Grizzlies seriously, and unfortunately for them, the best team in the Eastern Conference did exactly that.

That's pretty much the reason why the Cleveland Cavaliers emerged with an easy 105-89 home win Tuesday night. More accurately, the Cavs refused to overlook a Grizzlies team that used to be considered a gimme on weeknight in February.

Of course, focus isn't an issue for the Cavs (39-11) these days. They have now won nine straight, and a lot of those have come rather easily.

Meanwhile, the forever-improving Grizzlies (26-22) were playing a rare deadly double, with back-to-back games against the best team from each conference on consecutive nights (they beat the Lakers on Monday).

Not surprisingly, the Cavs were never really threatened, beating the Grizzlies in every way imaginable -- to rebounds and loose balls, off the fast break and in the halfcourt. Not surprising because the Griz had to be exhausted, and more so, because the Cavs have just been that good lately.

On Tuesday, it was a systematic route, as the Cavs never trailed and led by as many as 28.

"They did a good job of taking us out of our offense," said Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins. "It was a methodical thing."

As usual, it was also a LeBron James thing. The reigning NBA MVP scored 22 points on 7-for-14 shooting, and that wasn't even when he was at his best. He also recorded 15 assists and yet another one of those chase-down blocks, in which he swats an unsuspecting opponent's shot off the backboard from behind.

Even when James plays less than 40 minutes, as he did Tuesday, he continues to give the league the right to proclaim that it truly is the place Where Amazing Happens.

"He's just a great player," Hollins said. "I don't know that there's much more you can say about him. He sees things that other players don't see. We are in a zone (defense) and he knows what's going on. He attacks the basket then throws it out for a 3-pointer. He attacks the basket, then throws it in for a layup."

Another staple of the Cavs' winning streak has been balance, and that was again the case on this night. Besides James, the Cavs received major contributions from guard Daniel Gibson (16 points, 6-for-11 shooting), forward J.J. Hickson (15 points, 8 rebounds) and center Shaquille O'Neal (13 points, 13 boards). Also, Zydrunas Ilgauskas (14 points) and Anderson Varejao (8 points, tons of hustle) came up big off the bench.

On top of all that, the Cavs were magnificent defensively, particularly when it came to guarding Zach Randolph. The Grizzlies' All-Star forward was limited to eight points, or 13 below his season average, on 3-for-14 shooting.

It's no wonder Cavs coach Mike Brown repeatedly used the word "fun" when describing his team's performance.

"For us to play the way we did defensively was extremely fun to watch," Brown said. "That first half was the most fun half I've had watching my team play this year. Even offensively, we were moving the ball side to side, driving and kicking, playing pick-and-roll on the backside, giving the ball to Shaq at the right time and spacing the right way. It was fun to watch."

It was considerably less enjoyable for the Grizzlies, who shot just 38 from the field, including 2-for-14 on 3-pointers. Just don't ask them if they had tired legs.

"(Monday) night had nothing to do with tonight," Hollins said in reference to the hard-fought win over the Lakers. "Tonight had to do with the Cleveland Cavaliers and what they did defensively and what they were doing offensively. We have been playing back-to-backs all year long, and we are going to continue to play them as long as these kids are in the league."

Rudy Gay led the Grizzlies with 15 points and Jamaal Tinsley contributed 12 off the bench.

The Cavs still have five games remaining on their seven-game homestand, the franchise's longest in 15 years. They are 20-3 at home, having avenged an early-season loss in Memphis.

"We're definitely conscious when we lose to a team," James said. "We wanted to play a better game than we did last time, and definitely came out with the mindset just to play to our abilities."

As an interesting aside, the Cavs are now 20-0 when Hickson scores seven points or more.

"I think it's all developing at one time," Hickson said of his game. "When I get myself going on the defensive end, it improves my offense because I'm more active."


By By Sam Amico, For
Posted Tuesday February 2, 2010 11:00PM

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