Sixth Man (cont.)
Rajon Rondo's streak ends violently. Rondo had produced 10 or more assists in 37 consecutive games and was closing in on the record of 46 straight games (set by Magic Johnson in 1983-84) when he was ejected for fighting with Kris Humphries in the second quarter of Brooklyn's 95-83 win Wednesday. When Humphries knocked down Kevin Garnett under the basket, Rondo attacked Humphries and a brief melee involving both teams swirled into the stands. Rondo has been establishing himself as the team leader, and his aggressive defense of Garnett demonstrated he was willing to sacrifice an NBA record in order to look out for his teammates. But Celtics coach Doc Rivers suggested the larger priority for Rondo should be to help the team by staying on the court.
"I don't think anybody should get thrown out of a game," Rivers said. "So we all have to keep our emotions. ... If I'm Brooklyn and the league, you've got to think we're pretty soft. We're a soft team right now. We have no toughness. That [skirmish was] not toughness."
While Rondo may have been trying to galvanize his leadership of the team, he is now facing a suspension likely to further hurt the Celtics.
Andrew Bogut remains on the sidelines. The Warriors' center revealed this week that he underwent microfracture surgery on his ankle in April. He was frustrated that his return appeared to be imminent but setbacks continued to keep him off the court. Warriors GM Bob Myers called a news conference with Bogut on Wednesday to demonstrate that the player and team are on the same page.
"We don't want to fool anybody anymore," Bogut said. "We don't want to keep creating a little bit of excitement of, 'Hey, Andrew might be playing Saturday. It might be Monday. He's back.' "
Bogut insisted he will be on "indefinite leave'' with hope of returning sometime this season. The Warriors are a promising 8-6 despite receiving only 73 minutes in four games from Bogut before he was shut down. In the meantime, Monta Ellis -- who was dealt in an unpopular trade for Bogut last season -- leads the Bucks with 18.9 points while playing in every game.
Mourning for Kevin McHale. The Rockets' coach buried his 23-year-old daughter, Sasha, on Wednesday in Minnesota. She died of complications of lupus. The funeral was attended by close to 40 Rockets players, coaches and staff, who paid their respects before flying to Oklahoma City for their game Wednesday night. When McHale was a Hall of Fame forward for the Celtics in the 1980s, he famously stayed home to celebrate Christmas with his young family before catching a shuttle flight to New York in the morning in order to participate in a nationally televised game against the Knicks on Christmas Day. Anyone who knows McHale grieves for him and his family.
The Knicks and Nets launch their rivalry. Fans of both teams could be heard in Brooklyn's new arena Monday as the Nets beat the neighboring Knicks 96-89 in overtime. They remain tied for first in the Atlantic at 10-4 in what has the makings of an important rivalry. Together they've instantly restored energy to the NBA's largest market.
The Bucks' comeback. They were trailing by 27 in the third quarter Monday before winning 93-92 at Chicago. Coach Scott Skiles played five substitutes for the entire fourth quarter. "If you don't play tough with the lead, this is what happens," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. Two nights later, the Knicks opened a 20-point lead early in the second half in Milwaukee, leaving Skiles to consider changes to the starting lineup of the surprising Bucks (7-6), the early Central Division leader.
Ricky Rubio cleared to practice. The second-year point guard hasn't played since suffering a torn ACL last March. Kevin Love has returned from his early-season injury, and when Rubio is back in uniform, the Timberwolves (6-8) will be positioned for a run at their first playoff appearance since 2004.
Chauncey Billups returns. The 35-year-old point guard contributed seven points and three assists in 19 minutes to the Clippers' win against the visiting Timberwolves on Wednesday, nine months after suffering a torn Achilles that threatened his career. "The night I went down, before I even left the locker room, everybody was saying I was retiring,'' he said. "But those were people who didn't know me and my fabric and where I'm from.''
Wizards finally win. After they fell to 0-12, coach Randy Wittman asked his players for suggestions and advice. They responded with a breakthrough 84-82 win Wednesday against the visiting Blazers. Washington has been without injured point guard John Wall, but its bench outscored Portland's 46-4.
The African summit. There are six African players in the NBA this season and four of them met Monday in Oklahoma City, where the Thunder -- including Serge Ibaka (Congo) and Hasheem Thabeet (Tanzania) as well as Thabo Sefolosha (whose father is from South Africa) -- clobbered the visiting Bobcats, who were represented by DeSagana Diop (Senegal) and Bismack Biyombo (Congo). As basketball grows in Africa, the continent promises to generate more talent for the NBA in years to come.
LeBron James No. 1 in jersey sales. He was at the top last April as well. The numbers are drawn from NBA sales online and at its store in New York. The Atlantic-leading Knicks became the top team seller of jerseys for the first time in eight years.
Cazeneuve: Senators "running on empty" heading back to Pittsburgh
Kings take 3-2 series lead with 3-0 shutout of Sharks