Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls, Houston Rockets, L.A. Lakers, Minnesota Timberwolves, New York Knicks, Orlando Magic, Philadelphia 76ers, Sacramento Kings, San Antonio Spurs | Comments
- Alan Hahn, Newsday: Dwight Howard, swarmed all night by a physical Knicks defense, had 29 points and 18 rebounds for Orlando (47-27) but fouled out with 1:17 left in overtime on a questionable call as he went for a rebound against Chauncey Billups. It prompted Quentin Richardson to scream from the Magic bench, “The fix is in!” It’s a dangerous allegation for an NBA player to make, especially after the Tim Donaghy investigation, but Magic players were furious about several calls in the game.
- Gary Washburn, Boston Globe: When the consummate professional is angry, he doesn’t lash out in the media or bare his soul when his emotions are raw. He slips out of the back of the visiting locker room at Conseco Fieldhouse, nearly jamming his nice travel bag in the door, pulling it through so hard that a piece breaks off and falls onto the floor. Ray Allen kept walking, hardly concerned about the condition of his bag, more consumed by his lack of involvement in the Celtics’ offense and the team’s struggles to score down the stretch. The Celtics lost to the Pacers, 107-100, last night and once again Allen was hardly a factor in the offense. He logged 36 minutes and attempted just eight shots, scoring 11 points. It’s not that Allen wants Kevin Durant-like numbers of attempts, but he wants to be more involved in the offense in the early going, allowing him to gain rhythm for the critical stretches in games. Last night was a perfect example of how Allen is becoming less of a factor in the offense.
- Ryan Lillis, Sacramento Bee: Sacramento launched a game of hardball Monday in its effort to keep the Kings – or at least keep the team from walking away from its city-backed $77 million loan. City officials, hinting they might go to court, called on the city of Anaheim to stop negotiating a deal to bring the Kings to Orange County. In a terse letter Monday to Anaheim officials, Assistant City Manager John Dangberg said Anaheim was ignoring the “blighting impacts” that luring the Kings from Sacramento would have on the capital city. The move would cause “irreparable harm,” the letter said. If, however, Anaheim “insists on continuing the negotiations,” the letter said, that city must require the team to honor its debt to Sacramento. In a phone conversation Monday night, Kings co-owner George Maloof told The Bee he was angry at the city’s letter. “It is interfering with our business,” he said. “We’re going to take every measure possible to protect ourselves. We have no intention of leaving that town without paying our debt. For someone to imply that we are not going to pay our debts, it’s wrong, it’s ridiculous.”
- Mike Bresnahan, Los Angeles Times: The Lakers suddenly have a Texas-sized carrot in front of them for their final nine games: San Antonio is down to a 3 1/2 -game lead atop the Western Conference after another loss Monday. The Spurs’ four-game losing streak is entirely injury-driven, their Big Three limping a lot these days, be it Tim Duncan (sprained ankle), Manu Ginobili (bruised thigh) or Tony Parker (bruised knee). All three sat out Monday’s home loss to Portland. The Lakers have noticed. “There’s a lot of motivation,” guard Shannon Brown said. “We know their situation. We know they’re trying to get home court. They’ve been playing well all year. If we can catch them and get home court, that’ll be the best thing.” … Not all the Lakers are showing interest in the Spurs. “It doesn’t matter to us whether we catch them or not,” Kobe Bryant said. “We try to win every game. If we catch them, so be it. If we don’t, so be it.”
- Jeff McDonald, San Antonio Express-News: Hours before he arrived at the AT&T Center for Monday’s game against the Trail Blazers, a 100-92 loss that extended his team’s losing streak to four games, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich already had gotten the news from his medical staff. Manu Ginobili was much too stiff and sore from the left quadriceps contusion he suffered in Sunday’s loss at Memphis to play. By the time he got to the arena, the injury report had gone from bad to worse. Starting guard Tony Parker had a left kneecap that was too sore to allow him to suit up, and Antonio McDyess’ back ached like a 36-year-old who had been knocked hard to the floor by 260-pound Zach Randolph the night before. With his team captain and defensive rock, Tim Duncan, already out with a sprained left ankle, Popovich asserted that there was no point in risking further damage to McDyess, so he would sit him, too. “George Hill at the point,” he told reporters who wanted to know who the replacements would be. “Three man (small forward) is Richard,” meaning Jefferson, the only regular member of the starting rotation healthy enough to play. “Tiago (Splitter) the five (center). “Matty (Bonner) is the four (power forward). “You guys can vote for two. However it comes out, we’ll go that way.” The media vote went 5-2 in favor of starting Gary Neal over fellow rookie James Anderson. NBA coaching, it turns out, is no democracy. “I’m starting Anderson,” Popovich said.
- Kate Fagan, Philadelphia Inquirer: Let’s just take a minute to address this drama surrounding Saturday night’s Lil Wayne concert. The details are simple: Lou Williams and a few others 76ers attended Saturday night’s concert despite having a noon game the following day vs. the Sacramento Kings. After the loss, Lou, believing their attendance at the concert had already been brought up, commented on it, saying that some guys who went to the concert played well (Jrue Holiday, Spencer Hawes), while other guys didn’t play so well (Lou himself). Pretty quickly, this became a very big deal with folks saying the Sixers were being unprofessional and immature, staying out until 3:30 a.m. in the morning, and jeopardizing their preparation for the game — an overtime loss to the Kings. Before [Monday's] game against the Chicago Bulls, we went straight to Lou himself to get an explanation about exactly how all of this blew up on them. Later, I went back to Lou to ask him if he really was out until 3:30 a.m. and he denied that, saying he has a kid now and he can’t be out all night like that. He seemed exasperated by all of this and didn’t want to keep talking about it.
- Charley Walters, Pioneer Press: A little birdie says the Timberwolves have received word from Ricky Rubio’s family that he’s open to signing with them for next season — if there is a season. The NBA’s labor agreement expires June 30, and that’s an issue for Rubio, the Wolves’ 2009 first-round draft pick who could continue playing for FC Barcelona in Spain if there is an NBA lockout. The 6-foot-4 point guard is averaging 5.5 points and 4.0 assists in 45 games this season.
- Jonathan Feigen, Houston Chronicle: Though encouraged by the development of his young roster and even excited by its turnaround since the All-Star break, Rockets owner Leslie Alexander remains noncommittal about bringing back Rick Adelman to coach them. Speaking briefly before Sunday’s game at AmericanAirlines Arena, Alexander said he has held off on reaching a decision about signing Adelman and has not discussed it with Adelman, who is in the last season of his contract. “The decision-making process that goes into it takes place after the season,” Alexander said. “The decision-making process that goes into it takes place after the season,” Alexander said. “We haven’t had any talks about it. The decision I’m going to make is the decision I think is the best for the future of the team to win. That’s the only thing I care about, nothing else.” Alexander would not discuss that process or what he will consider. Adelman, 64, has said he also will take time after the season to decide whether he wants to continue coaching and whether he wants to return to the Rockets. Adelman is ninth in career coaching wins and has the best winning percentage as Rockets coach in franchise history. Yet while waiting to reach a decision about the coaching staff, Alexander has seen enough of his players to reach some conclusions. He was so pleased with the progress this season that he said he is less willing to make sweeping changes to the roster to seek a high-profile star.
- K.C. Johnson, Chicago Tribune: As far as Tom Thibodeau is concerned, the Bulls lost their first home game since Jan. 18 on Monday morning as much as they did on Monday night. A sluggish, unfocused shootaround led to a sluggish, unfocused start and double-digit first-quarter deficit, and the 76ers held on for a 97-85 triumph. That snapped the Bulls’ home win streak at 14 and dropped them to 32-5 at the United Center. “There are really no excuses,” Joakim Noah said. “It’s a wake-up call. We don’t have anything figured out. People are telling us, ‘Oh, you’re going to win this game. It’s easy.’ Nothing is easy in this league. We didn’t start this game with the right mindset. And it bit us in the ass.” … Derrick Rose played the entire second half and led the Bulls with 31 points on 12-for-24 shooting, but he also committed 10 turnovers. That’s the first double-digit turnover game by a Bull since Toni Kukoc committed 10 on Jan. 14, 2000. “We came out sluggish,” Rose said. “We weren’t ready for this one. This one is definitely on me. I played like crap. I was just careless. Some of them was me driving, kicking the ball off my (bleeping) foot. I need to watch video and learn from this.”