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NBA News

Rookie of the first trimester posted by NBA News

The NBA's much-hyped Class of 2014, as a collective, is in the midst of a thoroughly forgettable and deflating introduction to the pros. Only two rookies -- Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker -- are scoring in double figures. And that's with Wiggins leading all rookies at a mere 12.6 points per game, with Parker, after going No. 2 overall, suddenly out for the season after a knee tear that has sadly shelved him just like No. 3 pick Joel Embiid (foot), No. 4 Aaron Gordon (foot) and No. 7 Julius Randle (leg). 

So you could make the argument, in this climate, that we should have skipped this category entirely for Trimester purposes. The problem there is that some youngster is eventually going to win Rookie of the Year honors in late April or early May, no matter how underwhelming his production might be, so we're somewhat duty-bound to try to identify a leader at the one-third stage. 

Which brings us to Nikola Mirotic. 

Perhaps he's not a rookie in the truest sense after spending more than half a decade in Real Madrid's system before finally matriculating to Chicago, but what qualifies as big league production from Mirotic in the month of December -- averages of 10.9 points, 5.9 rebounds and .419 shooting from 3-point range -- is enough to put him in the lead. 

Who else could we conceivably propose here? Wiggins and Nerlens Noel have shown occasional flashes, as has Noel's Philly teammate K.J. McDaniels, but none of those more celebrated recent draftees is clearly on an upward career arc at this juncture. 

Continue reading "Rookie of the first trimester"

Wizards Fan

The 1 Thing Keeping Washington Wizards from True Title Contention posted by Wizards Fan

Efficient offensive practices in today's NBA largely revolve around the three-point shot. Attempt more—in lieu of mid-range jump shots—and results will generally skew in your favor. 

Why, then, have the Wizards revolted against conventional analytical wisdom when they are a few tactical adjustments away from becoming a near-elite offense: 

They have fired up nearly twice as many midrange jumpers as 3-pointers, despite converting identical percentages on 3s and long 2s. If one apple is healthier and more delicious than another at the same price, why the heck are you going for the rotten one?

The Wiz wield plenty of capable 3-point shooters in Bradley Beal, Rasual Butler and Paul Pierce, but they seem happy to bail out the defense and pull up in the midrange. If the Wiz shifted just 150 of their 822 midrange attempts into 3-pointers at their current conversion rates, they'd mathematically jump from being tied at 13th in offensive efficiency all the way up to seventh. Just by tweaking their shot allocation.

the Wizards are attempting 415 shots between eight to 16 feet and another 560 in that mid-range sweet spot that resides between 16 to 24 feet and with the season already a third complete, the Wizards need to alter their offensive strategy if they have a chance to make a significant playoff run. 

The good news is the Washington Wizards are protected by the cocoon that is the Eastern Conference's ineptitude. 

Safely nestled into a top-five seed at the very worst, the Washington Wizards still have plenty of time to correct their early-season inefficiencies and emerge as a potent shooting machine capable of capturing a conference title. It'll just take a little discipline along the way to make the dream a reality.

Continue reading "The 1 Thing Keeping Washington Wizards ..."

Jazz Fan

Alec Burks, Gordon Hayward lead Jazz past Grizzlies posted by Jazz Fan

After losing to Eastern Conference foes Chicago and Cleveland over the weekend, Memphis showed signs of fatigue in not being able to counter Utah's youth, allowing the Jazz to beat the Grizzlies 97-91 on Monday night.

Alec Burks scored 23 points and Gordon Hayward added 21 to lead the Jazz, who withstood a late push by hitting eight of 10 free throws down the stretch for their third win in the last four.

Derrick Favors finished with 15 points, while Enes Kanter added 13 points and nine rebounds. Rudy Gobert had a career-best 16 rebounds as the Jazz dominated the boards 49-34.

"I think our offensive game started with our defense," Hayward said. "We have a goal of not letting teams score over 24 points per quarter, and we won on three of four quarters."

Utah connected on 9 of 19 from outside the arc to create a buffer from Memphis. Another factor, beyond the rebounding margin, was the Jazz converting 20 of 27 free throws, while Memphis went to the line only nine times in the game, making eight.

Utah led through much of the second half until Gasol connected with 5:32 left for a 77-75 Memphis lead. Burks answered with a 3-pointer, and Utah never let go of the lead the final 5 minutes in rebounding from a 104-86 loss Saturday at Charlotte.

"It was big for our confidence to be able to come back and get a road win here in Memphis after a poor performance in Charlotte," Jazz guard Trey Burke said.

The Jazz pushed the lead to six points in the third quarter, and managed to keep the Grizzlies at bay through most of the period as Hayward had nine points and Kanter added seven.

Continue reading "Alec Burks, Gordon Hayward lead Jazz ..."

Raptors Fan

Raptors dominate Pistons down the stretch posted by Raptors Fan

It really was a nothing contretemps, a cheap elbow on James Johnson by frustrated Pistons centre Andre Drummond, but it precipitated a little shoving and pushing and jawing that was entirely a show of force by the supremely confident Raptors.

“Our team, we’re built for that,” Johnson said of the mild incident in the fourth quarter of yet another Toronto win, this one 110-100 over the Pistons here on Friday. “We’ve been brothers since the first day of pre-season. We go hard for each other. I do that for anyone of them, just like you seen Chuck (Hayes), Pat (Patterson) and GV (Greivis Vasquez) do that for me. We’re all a group, we’re all brothers, we all love each other and that’s the big reason for our success.”

Minutes earlier, Johnson had thrown down a wicked dunk over Drummond — “that was nasty, right? I cocked that joint back and banged on him,” Johnson said — that was as vicious as it was emphatic.

It had to gall Drummond no end, and when Johnson was going by him a couple of possessions later, the Pistons’ big man floored the Raptor with an elbow.

“On a play like that it could go either way, it was a hard foul,” Drummond said. “He got a dunk the play before and he was feeling good so I was just trying to protect the paint. That’s really it and it turned out to be a hard foul. Emotions were high during the game. It happens, it’s basketball. There were no hard feelings. I have nothing against him.

It immediately started a surge of Raptors towards the Pistons, who basically took a step back as the scrum developed.

Continue reading "Raptors dominate Pistons down the stretch"

Spurs Fan

Spurs picture coming into focus or is it? posted by Spurs Fan

The San Antonio Spurs have always been more than the sum of their parts, but some parts seem to be proving more essential than others.

Reigning Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard's 9.75-inch-long hands are one of those parts.

Unfortunately, he tore a ligament in his right paw during a Dec. 9 loss to the Utah Jazz, dealing the franchise a significant blow amid what's almost certainly its most difficult month of competition.

In turn, San Antonio has lost six of its last eight games without Leonard and six of its last seven overall. 

At the moment, there's no timetable for the fourth-year pro's return. Nor has there been any news that could be construed as particularly good.

Leonard is averaging 15.2 points, 7.6 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.0 steals in 32.2 minutes per contest—all on pace to be career highs. He's also looking for his offense more assertively, attempting 12.3 field goals and 4.1 free throws per game.

Having played 29.1 minutes and taken 9.8 shots per contest a season ago, the additional playing time and touches have had a lot to do with that evolution.

Leonard is the player who seems to tip the scale in making this Spurs squad the best in the organization's history. Even with past players such as Mario Elie, Sean Elliott, Robert Horry and Stephen Jackson, the Spurs have never had a player like Leonard on any of their championship rosters. Leonard turned the Big Three into a Fab Four. It makes them the one Spurs squad that could beat the other championship squads in franchise history if they were to mythically play each other in the Finals. Kawhi 

Continue reading "Spurs picture coming into focus or is it?"

Sac Kings Fan

Clock is ticking on Sacramento Kings’ season posted by Sac Kings Fan

It seems like just yesterday that the Sacramento Kings were 9-6.  They were the talk of the league and for very good reasons but now they’re making headlines for the wrong reasons.

The wheels have fallen off the Kings’ bus.  Michael Malone was relieved of his duties.  The locker room has clearly taken a turn and persistent rumors of coaching changes, roster remakes and quirky additions have this team running on fumes.

Josh Smith signed with the Houston Rockets on Christmas Eve, George Karl is in limbo and the potential trade with the Brooklyn Nets for former All-Star point guard Deron Williams now on life support.  

At 12-16, Sacramento is just one really good stretch away from being back in the conversation. But where does the team go from here?  Do they reignite talks with the Nets for Williams?  Should they hire George Karl and pray he has another fix hiding in his bag?  Should they try for another blockbuster deal or should they just stand pat and let interim head coach Tyrone Corbin try to rescue the team from the spiraling drain?

Tyrone Corbin is a very solid coach that can at least get this team to the end of the season.  The same can be said about Collison as a point guard and Thompson in the paint. But solid isn’t what the Sacramento Kings are looking for.  Solid isn’t what sells tickets or gets this team out of the lottery.

Clearly there’s no plan in place.  And now the ownership and front office have put themselves in a pickle.  They have potentially thrown away a season, the fans are upset and a Hail Mary or two is in order.

Continue reading "Clock is ticking on Sacramento Kings’ season"

Blazers Fan

Damian Lillard leads wild Blazers comeback in Oklahoma City 115-111 in OT posted by Blazers Fan

Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers came out on top in a wild point guard match-up against Russell Westbrook 115-111 in overtime in Oklahoma City.

The Blazers comeback would not have been were it not for a boneheaded series of plays from Westbrook. Westbrook was the biggest reason the Thunder were winning but a useless personal foul in the backcourt coupled with a technical allowed the Blazers to cut the lead to seven with no time coming off the clock.

Then Lillard came down and hit a deep three off a screen. In the blink of an eye the lead went from 10 to four.

Aldridge and Lillard combined for 32 of Portland’s final 42 points.

Another key to Portland’s success late was head coach Terry Stotts decided to match the Thunder’s 3-guard line-up with Steve Blake and bring in more athleticism in Dorell Wright. Wright didn’t play since his crucial role in Friday’s 3OT win against the Spurs.

Wright didn’t have the 3-point barrage he had against San Antonio but grabbed some crucial rebounds and had a nice tip in in overtime to give the Blazers breathing room.

The Blazers capped off an incredibly successful trip with wins against the Spurs, Pelicans and Thunder without Robin Lopez and getting two of those without Nicolas Batum. The Blazers are nearing the end of a grueling December which had 10 of 16 games on the road.

The Blazers are succeeding when schedules and injury continue seem to say they shouldn’t.

And with 7 of the next 10 days off, the Blazers have earned a considerable amount of rest. They are banged up and sick and certainly need it. Although Lillard and Matthews have played every night, you could tell with the amount of miscommunications the Blazers had tonight they were running out of gas.

Continue reading "Damian Lillard leads wild Blazers ..."

Sixers Fan

Suns' Zoran Dragic playing without regrets posted by Sixers Fan

With the game already put away and the Pheonix Suns looking at a loss to the Los Angeles Clippers, rookie Zoran Dragic came into the game amounting to a missed 3-pointer and a couple sprints up and back on the Staples Center floor last month.

That is all most people have seen of Suns rookie Zoran Dragic, who has spent nearly the entire season on the inactive list except for that two-minute cameo in mop-up duty against the Clippers.

It’s not necessarily surprising given that he is a rookie. In fact it was expected but perhaps not to Zoran, younger brother of Sun Goran Dragic, who played for ten years as a pro and starting for their national team on the way to the World Cup quarterfinals last summer.

Yet Zoran is keeping a positive attitude about the whole thing, or at least that’s what he’s telling himself and reporters. He says he has no regrets about negotiating a buyout from Spanish club Unicaja Malaga to come to the NBA, even if it means not seeing the floor and being relegated to developing through individual work and rare practices.

"I know it's my rookie year and that's how it is," Zoran said. "I must be patient and practice hard. When I get an opportunity, I need to show what I have.

"I am happy. Everybody basketball player's dream is to come to the NBA but my dream was to come here and stay in the NBA."

Zoran's first two weeks in the NBA were difficult. He came to the U.S. on the weekend before training camp and had to leave the country later to get a work visa. He was having difficulty adjusting to the culture and the league but living with his brother helped smooth the process.

Continue reading "Suns' Zoran Dragic playing without regrets"

Sixers Blog

76ers Missing a Clear-Cut Building Block posted by Sixers Blog

Is there a surefire star in Philly? The Philadelphia 76ers certainly hope so.

All of the losses this team has suffered the past two seasons (63 in 2013-14, 23 and counting this time around) have essentially produced Michael Carter-Williams, Nerlens Noel and Joel Embiid.

European forward Dario Saric could eventually be a part of this puzzle, but he may not come stateside before 2016 at the earliest. And promising rookie K.J. McDaniels' unique one-year deal means he will already hit restricted free agency next summer.

So, without knowing what future drafts will hold for the Sixers, Carter-Williams, Noel and Embiid make up the bulk of hope for this forward-thinking franchise. Each offers a certain amount of intrigue, but none remotely qualifies as a guaranteed star.

The lanky 6'6" Carter-Williams stuffs a stat sheet well, but his career .404/.264/.690 shooting slash may limit him to being a quantity-over-quality producer. Noel has already shown to be a disruptive defender (1.6 steals and 1.5 blocks), but his offense needs plenty of work. Embiid could have the highest ceiling of all three, though injuries might prevent him from realizing his potential.

the Sixers are not short on hope. They are, however, painfully thin on sure things. And a growing pile of future draft picks is not going to change that.

"You can't assure yourself of anything in the lottery," former NBA deputy commissioner Russ Granik said, per David Gelles of The New York Times. "And you can't assure yourself when the next LeBron James or Tim Duncan is going to come along."

Continue reading "76ers Missing a Clear-Cut Building Block"

Magic Fan

Magic Hang Tight With Cavs Before Falling Short posted by Magic Fan

Midway through Friday’s second quarter, the Magic were in possession of a feel-good 10-point lead on the star-studded Cleveland Cavaliers, confetti inexplicably starting falling from the rafters.

It was a case of premature celebration considering LeBron James’ propensity for taking games over late and the Magic’s struggles in the clutch in recent weeks.

Orlando started strong and matched the Cavs blow for blow most of the night only to see James come alive in the fourth quarter as the Magic went cold at the wrong time. James ended up with 29 points – one more than the Magic over the final 12 minutes of the game – to lead Cleveland to a 98-89 victory that wrecked Orlando’s hopes of capturing a signature win.

``You just watch the film on the game and you will see two different teams. One from the first three quarters and one from the last quarter, especially the last five minutes of the game,’’ frustrated forward Tobias Harris said.

``A big part of this league is at the end of the game having the ability to put the basketball in someone’s hands and that person makes a play,’’ Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said. ``How many possessions at the end of the game was the ball in LeBron’s hands? He made the plays for himself and for his teammates.

``We’re still growing and understand where we want the ball and in whose hands,’’ Vaughn continued. ``And we’re still learning how to finish once the ball is in that person’s hands.’’

Continue reading "Magic Hang Tight With Cavs Before Falling Short"

NBA Basketball News

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LaMarcus Aldridge needs thumb surgery, and the Blazers might be in big trouble (Ball Don't Lie

We started to get bad vibes after Wednesday's reports that the results of a magnetic resonance imaging exam on the left hand that LaMarcus Aldridge injured during the Portland Trail Blazers' Monday's win over the Sacramento Kings were "inconclusive." We knew something definitely wasn't right when Blazers general manager Neil Olshey confirmed the Thursday morning report by Sean Deveney of the Sporting News that Aldridge's left thumb was in a cast heading into today's follow-up MRI. On Thursday night, we learned that our fears were well-founded: MRI confirms Portland F LaMarcus Aldridge has a radial collateral ligament tear in left thumb. He will undergo surgery; out for 6-8 weeks. —Trail Blazers PR (@TrailBlazersPR) January 23, 2015 The three-time All-Star power forward suffered the injury while defending Kings center DeMarcus Cousins early in the second quarter on Monday night: [ Follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr: The best slams from all of basketball ] Aldridge left the game at the 10:26 mark of the second quarter and did not return, finishing the game with 10 points on 4-for-7 shooting in 13 1/2 minutes. Inside the Blazers' locker room prior to Portland's Thursday meeting with the Boston Celtics, the news —as you might expect —wasn't greeted warmly, as Jason Quick of the Oregonian reports : Wesley Matthews was sitting in front of his locker and perusing his phone, when I mentioned "Bummer.'' "What?'' he asked, and I pointed to Aldridge's stall, where a horde of media had gathered for a 6:10 availability with Aldridge. "Torn ligament. Surgery. Out 6-to-8 weeks,'' I told Matthews. Matthews chucked his phone over his right shoulder and immediately got up from his chair and left the locker room. Jeff Stotts of the great medical/injury information blog In Street Clothes notes that Aldridge's injury is the same one suffered this offseason by Los Angeles Lakers wing Nick Young. Swaggy P was expected to miss eight weeks, as well, but came back a bit earlier than that , which offers something, at least, for Blazers fans looking to remain optimistic as they grapple with the notion of life without their leading scorer (23.2 points per game) and rebounder (10.2 boards per contest). Here, however, is the dark cloud within that silver lining: here are the western playoff hopefuls POR plays in the next two months: DAL (x2), HOU (x2), LAC, MEM (x2), OKC, PHX, SAS. —Aaron McGuire (@docrostov) January 23, 2015 The Blazers have been excellent this season, riding a balanced attack (10th in the league in points scored per possession, fifth in points allowed per possession) to a 31-12 record that's good for the No. 2 seed in the West (behind only the on-another-level Golden State Warriors) and an 8 1/2 game lead over the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Northwest Division. But they've rolled up that record against a less-than-murderous slate of opposition; a handful of different strength-of-schedule measurements all peg Portland's schedule thus far as one of the seven easiest in the league. As you can see from the rundown above, that's about to change in a hurry . The Blazers' timeframe would keep Aldridge sidelined for anywhere from 18 to 24 games, slating his return somewhere between the first and third week of March. That's an awful long time to be without your top gun, especially in as dangerous an environment as the Western Conference; while it's very nice for Portland to have that 8 1/2 game division cushion, it probably wouldn't serve as a seismic shock to see the now-surging Thunder take a sizable bite out of that lead in the weeks ahead. The challenge for Blazers coach Terry Stotts will be to keep the margin from disappearing entirely. On that score, it'll be nice to be able to rely on Damian Lillard, who's in the midst of his best season as a pro (22.1 points, 6.2 assists, 4.7 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game) and has become one of the league's most lethal fourth-quarter performers . But the Blazers will need more than All-Star play from their All-Star point guard. With starting center Robin Lopez still recuperating from the broken bones in his right hand and reserve big man Joel Freeland still working his way back from a right shoulder strain , Portland's frontcourt was already stretched thin. And Olshey saying Thursday that it's possible that neither Lopez nor Freeland will return before the mid-February All-Star break, Stotts will have to lean even more heavily for frontcourt productivity on the likes of Chris Kaman, Thomas Robinson, Meyers Leonard and Victor Claver, and on small-ball lineups featuring Nicolas Batum and versatile reserve Dorell Wright sliding up to the four spot. Batum has struggled mightily this season, averaging just 9.4 points in 33.7 minutes per game while shooting a career-low 39.5 percent from the field and just 28.1 percent from 3-point land, but he did have a bounceback outing (27 points on 9-for-15 shooting and 6-for-8 from long distance, 10 rebounds, five assists and a block) in Portland's Wednesday loss to the Phoenix Suns. Blazers fans must now hope even more fervently that the Frenchman's sweet shooting in Arizona was a sign of an impending return to form. Despite the daunting prospect of facing the double-tough schedule ahead without their most accomplished interior scorer, it's possible that Stotts, one of the league's sharper tacticians, will be able to bubblegum-and-duct-tape together enough solutions to be able to weather the storm, fend off challenges from the snarl of teams below them in the standings (the Memphis Grizzlies, Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Clippers, San Antonio Spurs, Suns and Thunder) and keep the Blazers in position for home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs until Aldridge returns. This is, after all, a deeper, more talented and experienced Portland team than we've seen in the past couple of years, and Lillard sure looks to be more than capable of carrying the weight of superstar-level expectations; Dame seems like the kind of dude who will hear droves of people saying, "Oh, no, this is baaaaad news for Portland," internalize it all, pressurize it into some kind of "nobody believes in us!" anger diamond and go average 30-7-7 for the next six weeks just to prove a point. That said, there's a reason why the Blazers' offensive efficiency drops from top-five-in-the-league (108 points per 100 possessions) to just-above-bottom-five (100 points-per-100) when Aldridge sits down . It's not just that he's one of the game's elite midrange shooters, a pick-and-pop maestro whom defenses just can't leave alone at the elbows and near the arc lest they suffer the same fate as the Houston Rockets. It's all the open space and opportunity that his shooting, and the threat of his shooting, opens up for Lillard, Batum and 3-point-bombing shooting guard Wesley Matthews. It's the added bonus afforded by the continuity and familiarity that the Blazers' core has built up by playing so many minutes together over the past few seasons. It's the knowledge that, virtually regardless of what happens on an offensive possession and how badly a defense blows it up, they can almost always get a decent look just by giving it to the 6-foot-11 cornerstone with the high, nearly unblockable release. It's hard to replace all that. Well, no, scratch that; it's probably impossible to replace all that. But the Blazers will have to do their best to keep plugging along, and Aldridge —reportedly in good spirits as he spoke briefly with media after the announcement —will do his best to both get back as quickly as possible and make sure he's healthy enough to stay back once he returns. From Joe Freeman of the Oregonian : "It's tough. We have been in a pretty good rhythm most of this season. We've lost guys a lot this season. This is a totally different season from last year. But we have a lot of guys here that can step up and play better and make plays. So I feel like the team shouldn't stall. We're going to get guys back soon, so it's going to be good for us." While Aldridge is to be commended for putting a brave face on bummerific news, we'll have to agree to disagree that anything about this is "good" for the Blazers. The difference between Portland contending for a title and missing the playoffs entirely could very well rest on how well and how quickly a tiny stretch of connective tissue on the outside of a thumb heals. It seems an absurd statement, but it also feels like a sadly appropriate margin of error in this unrelenting Western Conference. - - - - - - - Dan Devine is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YourManDevine Stay connected with Ball Don't Lie on Twitter @YahooBDL , "Like" BDL on Facebook and follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr for year-round NBA talk, jokes and more. [read full article]

From Yahoo Sports

Kobe Bryant to have surgery on torn right rotator cuff, 'probably' out for season (Ball Don%

Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers did indeed wait until Monday to make their final determination on how to respond to the torn right rotator cuff he suffered during last Wednesday's loss to the New Orleans Pelicans. As it turned out, though, the decision they came to is the one most of us expected; all that remains now is to learn whether his absence will be as long as we expect, too. Here's Monday's news, as first tweeted by Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News and subsequently confirmed by the Lakers themselves in a press release: [ Follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr: The best slams from all of basketball ] Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, who injured his right shoulder in last Wednesday night's game against the Pelicans in New Orleans, was examined this morning by Dr. Neal ElAttrache of the Kerlan Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic. Dr. ElAttrache confirmed an earlier diagnosis of a torn rotator cuff, and advised Bryant to have surgery to repair the shoulder. Bryant has agreed, and surgery has been scheduled for Wednesday morning. A timeline estimate for Bryant's return will be issued following the surgery. The team statement still leaves some wiggle room for the rage-against-the-dying-of-the-light possibility that Bryant, 36, will suit up again for the Lakers during the 2014-15 campaign, and has not suffered a season-ending injury for the third straight season. But sources told Yahoo Sports NBA columnist Adrian Wojnarowski last week that doctors' opinions shared with Bryant referred to the procedure he needs as "season-ending," and Lakers head coach Byron Scott doesn't seem to be holding out much hope for a return before mid-April: Byron Scott on Kobe: "Now we know Kobe is probably not going to play (the rest of the year)." —Baxter Holmes (@BaxterHolmes) January 26, 2015 As our own Kelly Dwyer reminded last Thursday , a late-season shutdown for Bryant was always in the cards , but this certainly wasn't the way it had been drawn up. But while Scott had recently taken to giving his veteran top gun more rest , he did so only after some unsightly, fatigue-impacted shooting and a heavy early-season minutes-and-shots workload that seemed at least in part intended to get Bean past Michael Jordan on the all-time scoring list. There's a case to be made that Scott's decision to keep running Bryant out there, especially after being Kobe had previously informed his coach that his shoulder was bothering him, represents an abdication of duty, as suggested by ESPN Los Angeles' Baxter Holmes . Whether you view Bryant's latest serious injury as a regrettable organizational failure to properly protect its primary talent, the latest sad but inevitable piece of evidence that not even the greatest performers in league history can ward off the ravages of time and nearly two decades of minutes forever, both or something else entirely, the fact remains that we're not going to see Kobe Bryant play basketball any more for a little while, and possibly not until next fall. (It's considered exceptionally unlikely that this will represent the end for Kobe, due in no small part to the fact that he's owed $25 million next season.) The Mamba might have had a chuckle at this latest setback , but the grim confirmation of his diagnosis certainly doesn't leave much for the rest of us to smile about. - - - - - - - Dan Devine is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YourManDevine Stay connected with Ball Don't Lie on Twitter @YahooBDL , "Like" BDL on Facebook and follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr for year-round NBA talk, jokes and more. [read full article]

From Yahoo Sports

Wizards-Suns Preview (The Associated Press)

After producing their longest home win streak in five seasons, the Phoenix Suns are on the verge of matching their longest skid on their own floor in this campaign, and they showed some frustration again in their latest defeat. The Washington Wizards will try to add to that while earning their fifth win in six road games Wednesday night. Phoenix (26-20) had won seven in a row at home, including the first four of a franchise-record eight consecutive games there, before falling 113-111 to Houston on a buzzer beater Friday. The Suns were then routed 120-100 by the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday and are one loss from matching their three-game home skid Dec. 9-15. [read full article]

From Yahoo Sports

Rose's shot lifts Bulls over Warriors 113-111 in overtime (The Associated Press)

Derrick Rose hit a step-back jumper with 7 seconds remaining in overtime, and the Chicago Bulls ended Golden State's franchise-record 19-game home winning streak with a thrilling 113-111 victory over the Warriors on Tuesday night. ''Anybody can get momentum or anybody can get the feeling they can beat anybody when you beat a team like this,'' Rose said. Rose, looking as healthy as ever, dribbled to his left and created space to get off the 20-footer over Klay Thompson, skipping around the court after the Warriors called timeout. Rose finished with 30 points, and his final basket overshadowed a night when he committed a career-high 11 turnovers and made just 13 of 33 shots. [read full article]

From Yahoo Sports

Mayweather and Pacquiao exchange phone numbers at Heat game (The Associated Press)

Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao have finally met - in person. The fighters were both sitting courtside, directly across from one another, at a Miami Heat game on Tuesday night. Mayweather went over to Pacquiao at halftime, the men shook hands and chatted briefly, then exchanged phone numbers. ''He gave his number to me and said we will communicate with each other,'' said Pacquiao, adding that he had never before met Mayweather in person. [read full article]

From Yahoo Sports

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