HoopsHype rumors

November 13, 2012 | 07:31 PM ET Update

Rockets owner Leslie Alexander expressed concern for White. "That's tenuous and it's tough to talk about something like that," Alexander said. "I think we are going to handle it internally, but it's tough. If he doesn't work out, well it's tough to lose a draft choice." And if that happens? "I would feel bad for Royce and I would feel very bad for the team," Alexander said. The Rockets have not said yet how they will penalize White for being away from the team. "We have internal repercussions which I'm not going to talk about," Alexander said. FOX 26 Sports

Rockets forward Marcus Morris said he has not seen White for three days. "I think it's been three days," Morris said. "I haven't seen him today, yesterday and the day before. "That's my teammate. So anytime you haven't really heard from him or you haven't seen him you get some thoughts about him." FOX 26 Sports

Now, he thrives in that role and has no problem deferring to James and Wade, which is why HEAT head coach Erik Spoelstra calls Bosh the team’s most important player. “It’s difficult,” Bosh told HOOPSWORLD. “It’s been difficult, but it’s all for the team and that’s what’s most important. I didn’t quite understand it when I first got here, but I’m starting to put the pieces of the puzzle together. Things came together for me a lot last year and I’m just trying to improve in that role. I’m trying to do what the team needs me to do night in and night out to be effective.” HoopsWorld

The need for a big body is somewhat minimized by the good news they received on center Nikola Pekovic's left ankle on Tuesday. A source close to Pekovic said, "He's fine. It's just a sprain. There's no structural damage." The source wasn't sure though if he could return as soon as Wednesday for the game vs. Charlotte at Target Center. 1500ESPN.com

History could have been different if Phil Jackson had said he was ready to coach the Lakers while meeting informally with two team executives on Saturday morning. He might be the Lakers' coach right now, Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak said Tuesday. "We would have gone back immediately and gone back and holed up with Dr. [Jerry] Buss and decided what we were going to do that day," Kupchak said. Los Angeles Times

Instead, Jackson asked Kupchak and team executive Jim Buss for two more days to think about a return after an 18-month layoff. The Lakers waited about 30 hours, didn't hear from him, and decided to hire Mike D'Antoni on Sunday night. "There was no agreement to wait for [Jackson's] response on Monday," Kupchak said. "He told us that's when he would get back to us. I could see where he might interpret that as 'You guys would wait for me.' But I thought when I said I had to go on and interview other candidates that it was clear I had a job to do." Los Angeles Times

Kupchak himself wasn't sold on meshing Jackson's share-the-ball triangle offense with the Lakers' present-day roster. "I know the triangle," he said. "Obviously I wasn't convinced." The Lakers decided to hire D'Antoni at 6 p.m. Sunday, half an hour before they tipped off against Sacramento at Staples Center. Negotiations took some time, and then an unexpected electronic gaffe delayed the process once the sides agreed to a three-year, $12-million contact with a team option for a fourth year. Los Angeles Times

"There was a lot of pressure to seriously consider bringing Phil back," Kupchak said. "We sorted through the PR backlash and decided that we ultimately could withstand it." They still had to withstand one other thing. They had to call Jackson on Sunday near midnight. He was sleeping. "In those kind of situations, there's not a lot of small talk," Kupchak said. "He was very complimentary of Mike under the circumstances. I just told him . . . that we just felt the present makeup of the team and the kind of basketball we wanted to play going forward, we just felt that Mike D'Antoni was the choice. Los Angeles Times

Meanwhile, Kupchak knocked down several reports that suggested Jackson had made plenty of unaccommodating demands, including salary, input in personnel decisions and scaling back on travel arrangements. "There was no discussion of salary in the meeting. I don't know why there would be," Kupchak said. "A job wasn't offered and he didn't say he wanted the job. We touched briefly on personnel input, which he hoped he would have more input. We talked about the rigors of travel in the NBA. But there was no demand or in depth discussion about missing games. Los Angeles Daily News

Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms today confirmed he recently met with representatives of a National Basketball Association team about moving that team to his city. Sessoms made the comment during a during a Virginia Beach City Council meeting, city spokesman Marc Davis said. The mayor declined to say which team he spoke with. However, several Virginia Beach news outlets have reported that unnamed sources have told them the team is the Sacramento Kings. Sacramento Bee

Everyone knew his nickname, and everyone was aware of him when he was in the arena courtside. Kenny Williamson, nicknamed "Eggman," was one of basketball's great characters. He died Tuesday morning after a long battle with cancer. The Memphis Grizzlies assistant general manager touched hundreds -- if not many, many more -- in the NBA, college and high school basketball communities. When his death was reported, it made people from across the country pause. Coaches such as KU's Bill Self and staff members Norm Roberts and Doc Sadler, as well as Kentucky's John Calipari, knew him well. They were all saddened by the news. "Egg had a great spirit,'' said Eastern Michigan coach Rob Murphy, a former Syracuse assistant. "Whenever I would see him or communicate with Egg, it seemed he would not allow his ailment to beat him as he continued to live upbeat and was positive while knowing the seriousness of his situation the past year. Egg will be missed, to say the least.'' ESPN.com

Barone said that Williamson didn't feel well Monday and didn't come into the office. More tumors were found when he had a scan. Barone went to see him late Monday night. He passed away Tuesday morning. Barone's office was next to Williamson's. "He was a people person,'' said Barone, who choked up when discussing his good friend. "Everyone knew Kenny. He did a lot of things behind the scenes that nobody knew. He knew everyone's name from the mail person to the ticket seller to the usher. He knew everybody, and everybody knew him. He made it a special part of his day to say hello to everybody.'' ESPN.com

"He mentored a lot of young African-American coaches behind the scenes,'' Barone said. "His message was that you have a great job, do your best and be a great coach. But more importantly, he wanted them to teach players about life. There aren't a lot of people like him. Whether you were a friend or not, he always had time for you. There aren't enough people like that in the sports world or in general.'' ESPN.com

November 13, 2012 | 06:18 PM ET Update

Darren Wolfson: Sources: #Twolves worked out Josh Howard yesterday. More to come on 1500espn.com when an editor can post my story. Twitter @DarrenWolfson

Both Amar’e Stoudemire (left knee) and Iman Shumpert (left knee) traveled with the team to Orlando. The two players made the decision to join the team during the road trip as they both rehab from knee surgery. Stoudemire, who is from Lake Wales, Fla., declined to talk to the media before the team’s shootaround. He had debridement surgery two weeks ago after a cyst ruptured in the back of his knee. Stoudemire has not spoken with the media about his injury. His only time on the court this season was Oct. 19 in a preseason game against the Toronto Raptors in Montreal. New York Times

The NCAA deemed UCLA freshman Shabazz Muhammad ineligible just hours prior to the Bruins season-opener on Friday night and now the family has released a statement regarding its displeasure and frustration with the organization: "Shabazz's family is very distressed by the NCAA's recent decision and the manner in which it was announced. Shabazz and his family have been cooperating with the NCAA for well over a year. Earlier this year, the NCAA asked Shabazz and his family not to reveal to each other or to the press facts related to the NCAA investigation. Despite the many untrue rumors which were circulating on the Internet, Shabazz and his family dutifully did what they were told. In order to entice Shabazz's family and others to cooperate, the NCAA repeatedly gave assurances that it would keep details of the investigation strictly confidential. As recently as November 2012, the NCAA promised that it would not issue a Press Release. CBSSports.com

"Last Friday, the NCAA released a Press Release which not only was wrong in its conclusions but which also inaccurately portrayed the investigation process in this case. For over a year, the NCAA has known all of the relevant facts related to its ruling last Friday. Prior to the unofficial visits in question, Ron Holmes and Ben Lincoln received approval from NCAA (through its member universities) for Mr. Lincoln (who has had a continuous close friendship with Shabazz's family since 2007) to pay for airline tickets and hotel rooms. In 2010, Mr. Holmes openly and honestly revealed to the NCAA the source of the payments on the NCAA's compliance form. Shabazz's family is now faced with the situation where they are concerned that any attempt to tell more of their side of the story will result in further punitive action, as Shabazz is still under the mercy of the NCAA. Shabazz and his family will continue to honestly cooperate with the NCAA in the hopes that Shabazz soon will be allowed to play basketball at UCLA." CBSSports.com

A few more tidbits following an early Tuesday morning interview with Mike D’Antoni, the Lakers’ new head coach: He says his brother, Dan, will be joining the Lakers’ coaching staff but the rest of the staff should remain intact. He hasn’t talked to defensive-minded coach Nate McMillan, but he says he intends to this summer, although he wouldn’t be surprised if McMillan is head coach by that time elsewhere. In D’Antoni’s first start as an NBA player for the Kansas City-Omaha Kings his assignment was to cover Jerry West. “I was the biggest Lakers’ fan because of him,’’ says D’Antoni, who grew up in Mullens, W.Va. Los Angeles Times

He’s recovering from reconstructive knee surgery, leaving the hospital shortly after Sandy rocked the East Coast and left many without power. He had to take a bed in a retirement home. “Here I am in my 60s, my wife thinking I like board games and Jell-O. I was worried when the electricity came back on she might just leave me there,’’ he says. How does someone with a 121-167 record with the Knicks, who failed to win a playoff game there, end up with the Lakers’ job? “There is a thing called luck in this world,’’ he says. Los Angeles Times

Of course, Bryant said Tuesday that he didn’t know Jackson was interested in the job. “I told them (General Manager Mitch Kupchak and Jim Buss) Mike D’Antoni was my first choice,” Bryant said after Tuesday’s shoot-around. “I didn’t know Phil was going to be an option. They said it is and I want to know how you feel about it. That was it. “They knew my two guys that I liked. If one didn’t work out with Phil, they knew they had my approval with the other one.” Orange County Register

Buss and Kupchak, of course, hired Mike D’Antoni instead of Jackson, a move that Bryant also applauded. He said D’Antoni’s penchant for an uptempo offense should work well with the Lakers. “The offense that he installed for our USA Team is the offense that we ran to the tune of two gold medals,” Bryant said. “We all know the type of talent that we had on that team, so it was important for us to have an offense that was flexible, that was open, that kept everybody involved. It worked pretty well for us.” Orange County Register

All through the summer, as Team USA pursued its second consecutive Olympic gold medal and its third straight international tournament championship, team chairman Jerry Colangelo remained coy about his future with the organization. He dropped hints that, unlike coach Mike Krzyzewski, he would be returning for another tour with USA Basketball, at least through the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, but he would not specifically confirm that he was planning to be back. On Tuesday, it became official —Colangelo was elected chairman of Team USA again. “I'm excited to again serve USA Basketball as chairman for the next four years,” Colangelo said in a statement. “I'm proud of the many successes USA Basketball's coaches and players achieved over the past four years and I'm looking forward to helping keep that momentum going. Sporting News

November 13, 2012 | 05:49 PM ET Update

Adelman said there have been internal discussions about whom the team might add. That list likely includes free-agent wings Mikael Pietrus, Josh Howard and Chris Douglas-Roberts along with Utah's Raja Bell, who has been exiled from the Jazz. "I couldn't even tell you," Adelman said when asked about getting an injury exemption. "We're just trying to get through this game. I haven't even asked about that." Minneapolis Star-Tribune

Sundiata Gaines signed a contract in China with Fujian. The PG was targeted by some European clubs but he decided to move to Chinese CBA. Sportando

You know who understands that? Biyombo. I spoke with him at Tuesday-morning shootaround about his minutes and role. Last season he was a starter as a rookie. This season he’s a reserve. Rather than complain, he takes this as a challenge. “I’ve got to get my game to the level it’s supposed to be,’’ Biyombo said. What must improve? “Everything – try to help the team as much as I can in the time coach is giving me,’’ Biyombo replied. “What I do is rebound and block shots. We’re trying to add little things.’’ Charlotte Observer

When it was all over, LeBron James rocked back in his chair Monday night in the visitors' locker room -- feet soaked in ice, knees wrapped in bandages -- trying to place another historic performances in proper perspective. "It's the zone," James said as he described the state of dominance he emerged from moments earlier. "You know how it is when certain players get in a zone? You wish you could get into it more. But when you're in it, you know how you feel. You know everything you put up ... is going to be pretty good. I just tried to stay in it as long as possible." ESPN.com

Here the beard hits his technical free throw and then walks forward to high-five all the nonexistent guys in the lane. Classic. At least Harden is keeping his sense of humor as the Rockets struggle to find their way. Hat tip to SLAM. NBCSports.com

Minnesota Timberwolves forward Chase Budinger tore the lateral meniscus in his left knee in the game against Chicago on Saturday and will have surgery sometime this week, the team announced Sunday. The team did not announce when Budinger is expected to return to action. Yahoo! Sports

Kobe Bryant did not speak to reporters after practice Monday because Lakers point guard Steve Blake suffered an abdominal strain and could only get an appointment with an Orange County doctor in the early afternoon, so Bryant flew him there in his helicopter to avoid any irksome traffic on the 405. Given the events of the past 72 hours, this explanation sounded perfectly reasonable. SI.com

Jameer Nelson uttered a three-letter response when asked if he’ll play tonight against the New York Knicks. “G.T.D.” That’s short for “gametime decision.” Nelson, who has missed the Orlando Magic’s last five games because of groing and hamstring strains, practiced Monday and participated in the team’s shootaround today. Orlando Sentinel

Thibodeau, when updating the assembled media about injured superstar Derrick Rose’s status, acknowledged that he expects the former league MVP to be back in action this season. “I do,” Thibodeau said prior to his team’s loss to visiting Boston. “He’s doing great. We have to be patient with it. He’s been very diligent. He’s in every day. He’s moving along. He started cutting. He’s been shooting for a while now. He’s feeling pretty good, so we just have to be patient. “It’s the next step for him, so everything is going according to plan. He’s not ahead of schedule, he’s not behind schedule. He’s exactly where he should be.” CSN Chicago

Veteran Chicago Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich sounded hopeful but not definitive that he will be able to return to action Wednesday when the Bulls embark on a West Coast trip. Hinrich missed Monday night’s loss to Boston after suffering a muscular strain in his hamstring and gluteus area last weekend. He underwent an MRI on Monday. “I’m happy with the progress and I’ll just keep trying to get better,” Hinrich said Tuesday after practice at the Berto Center. Chicago Tribune

Kobe on his relationship with D'Antoni from playing against him and on Team USA... "I mean, we have a great relationship. The offense that he installed for our USA Team is the offense that we run to the tune of two gold medals. We all know the type of talent that we had on that team, so it was important for us to have an offense that was flexible, that was open, that kept everybody involved. It worked pretty well for us." On how D'Antoni's system will work with this roster... "It's going to be fine. It's not like he takes the same thing that he did in Phoenix and incorporates it here. He has different personnel. He can use Steve to his greatest advantages, and me to mine and Dwight to his, and Pau to his and so forth and so on." USA Today

Kobe Bryant On whether he was disappointed it wasn't Jackson... "Obviously there's always going to be a little bit, because Phil and I have gone back since I was 20 years old and everything that he's taught me and so forth. There's a little bit of (disappointment). But at the same time, I'm very excited for Coach D. I know Phil will be enjoying his retirement and looking to get back in the game -- although probably not (from) a coaching standpoint, but a managerial role or something like that." USA Today

Jerry Colangelo on Tuesday was re-elected chairman of USA Basketball's board of directors for 2013 to 2016, a period which includes the 2014 men's FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain and women's World Cup in Turkey and the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Colangelo has transformed the U.S. men's team after a disappointing bronze medal and disinterested effort at the 2004 Athens Olympics. Since Colangelo joined USA Basketball in 2005 as managing director of the men's national team, the U.S. men are 62-1 with gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, 2010 world championships and 2012 London Olympics. The men did not lose a game at those three events under Colangelo and U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski. USA Today

The Clippers' DeAndre Jordan, Antawn Jamison and Trey Thomkins were out late...wait for it...at a the Twilight: Breaking Dawn 2 premiere in Hollywood last night. There's proof, via Twitter thanks to Jordan, who labeled the event "insane." No, DeAndre, you and two other NBA players attended a movie that's generally filled with teenage girls and their mothers is insane. Scratch that, insanely awesome. Thomkins tweeted a bevy of hilarious pictures, including one with Taylor Lautner (that's Jacob for you meatheads who don't enjoy pop culture) and it said "one of the coolest dudes I've ever met." USA Today

The basketball community lost a true treasure Tuesday with the passing of Grizzlies assistant general manager Kenny Williamson. Williamson, who was in his 60s, lost a battle with cancer. Affectionately known as “Eggman,” Williams was a devoted family man with 35 years of experience as a basketball coach, scout and executive on every level. “Anybody who has met him will never forget him,” Griz general manager Chris Wallace said. “He was a big personality and extremely well respected, and about as well known as you can get in basketball circles -– not only in this country but internationally.” Memphis Commercial Appeal

Agent Larry Fox on the passing of Kenny Williamson, assistant GM of the Grizzlies. "Kenny was one of the nicest, most genuine people in the business. He was a true family man and a person who if you met, you were better for it. He was a straight-shooter and you always got a direct answer from Kenny. He was great to hang out with adding his comedic wit and was a great story teller. He was one of the people in this business whom you could call a friend and not just a business colleague. The basketball world lost a legend today but more importantly, the world lost a great family man and outstanding person. It is a true loss for us all." Sulia

November 13, 2012 | 11:05 AM ET Update

On Sunday, a person familiar with the situation, speaking anonymously because the deal wasn't complete, said the Lakers were 95% certain Jackson was their choice. By game time, the certainty had dropped to 70%, and the rest quickly disappeared in the next few hours. Jackson laughed at media reports that said he had wanted to skip road games and demanded to have final say in personnel decisions. "There's nothing about that," he said. "Jimmy [Buss] and I had an agreement when I came back for the second tenure that there would be complete transparency in personnel decisions. I did bring up there were a couple things that went by me that time and I would be part and parcel of such a thing this time." Jackson said Kupchak told him during the late Sunday phone call that the Lakers thought D'Antoni was the best coach for the team. Kupchak, Jim Buss and Jerry Buss were not available for interviews. Los Angeles Times

The Lakers woke up Jackson with a phone call near midnight Sunday to tell him that Mike D'Antoni would be their coach. "I wish it would have been a little bit cleaner," Jackson said in a Monday night telephone interview with The Times. "It would have been much more circumspect and respectful of everybody that's involved. It seemed slimy to be awoken with this kind of news. It's just weird." The Lakers explained their decision this way: "After speaking with several excellent and well-respected coaching candidates, Dr. Buss, Jim and I all agreed that Mike was the right person at this time to lead the Lakers forward," Kupchak said in a statement Monday, referring to Jim Buss and also team owner Jerry Buss. Los Angeles Times

"Saturday morning, [Lakers executive] Jim Buss called to ask if he could come and visit. I didn't solicit or ask for the opportunity but I welcomed both him and [team executive] Mitch Kupchak into my home to discuss the possibility of my return to the Lakers as head coach," Jackson said. "We talked for over an hour and a half. No contractual terms were discussed and we concluded with a handshake and an understanding that I would have until Monday [today] to come back to them with my decision. I did convey to them that I did have the confidence that I could do the job. I was awakened at midnight Sunday by a phone call from Mitch Kupchak. He told me that the Lakers had signed Mike D'Antoni to a three-year agreement and that they felt he was the best coach for the team. The decision is of course theirs to make. I am gratified by the groundswell of support from the Laker fans who encouraged my return and it is the principal reason why I considered the possibility." Yahoo! Sports

Jackson was intrigued. He heard what Kobe Bryant said about him Friday night when asked about Jackson coaching again – heartfelt, downright loving words – and Jackson was truly touched. He had been watching Bryant's team closely enough that he could tell you in great detail why the spacing in Mike Brown's offense was crap, how Dwight Howard was being posted up with a teammate far too nearby and enabling the double team to come ridiculously easily. Orange County Register

There was some talk about Jackson's disdain for travel, yes, but nothing concrete. They went through the roster together, but Jackson didn't demand personnel power over Kupchak's head. There was no equity stake in the franchise. Jim Buss brought up the Lakers' diminished spending power these days in light of the new collective bargaining agreement and revenue sharing, and Jackson actually hinted that he'd take less money this time by saying broadly: "This is not gonna be about money." Orange County Register

Musburger said that while he respected the Lakers right to hire whomever they wanted as coach, he was disappointed in the way the entire situation unfolded. "Phil is someone who brought nothing but trophies to their bookcase and value to the franchise," Musburger said. "He deserved to be dealt with honestly. "He didn't deserve the job, that's their decision. They can hire whoever they wish. But don't say to someone you've got until Monday and then roust him from slumber at midnight to say, 'By the way we hired somebody else.' That's just not fair dealing and Phil deserved fair dealing. He's a good faith person and he was dealt with poorly. It is indicative of the shabby way that organization is being run." ESPN.com

ESPN NBA analyst Kurt Rambis, a former Lakers player and assistant coach who worked on Jackson-led staffs from 2001-2004 and 2005-2009 and remains close friends with Jackson, said Jackson told him there had never been any discussions of salary or restrictions on a potential return and that he and the Lakers had agreed to wait until Monday to negotiate. "It's a process with Phil," Rambis said Monday. "He goes through an entire mental process of envisioning the season and how to get the team to the NBA Finals. It's about winning for him, not just whether he wants to coach." ESPN.com

In a rather unexpected move the Houston Rockets have decided to send Donatas Motiejunas to their NBDL team, alongside two other teammates. Motiejunas will now have to spend an undetermined period of time playing for Rio Grande Valley Vipers, Houston's own D-League team. The other two players who were also sent there are Royce White and Scott Machado. It is worth mentioning that Motiejunas had declined an invitation from the Lithuanian National Team last summer, in order to put extra work with the Rockets. Hence missing the chance to participate in the Olympic Basketball Tournament. TalkBasket

DeMarcus Cousins' agent told me a few minutes ago that the Players Association is appealing the two-game suspension the third-year center received for what the league characterized as "confronting" San Antonio Spurs television analyst Sean Elliott in a "hostile manner" following Saturday's Kings- Spurs game at Sleep Train Arena. According to John Greig, the union is continuing to investigate the matter, but already is convinced the penalty is too severe. Cousins was informed of the two-game penalty and did not play in the Kings-Lakers game Sunday in Staples Center. The immediate goal is to get the suspension lifted prior to tomorrow's home game against the Portland Trail Blazers. Calls to the Players Association were not returned. Sacramento Bee

The Kings will not punish Cousins with any further discipline. And Smart thinks with time, Cousins will address the controversy. But currently, there’s nothing that suggests the big man was contrite about his actions. “That’s just between myself and the player,” Smart responded when asked if Cousins apologized for his behavior. Cowbell Kingdom

Thomas Robinson: "I'm not going to stop being a tough player. I'm not going to continue to elbow people either. ...But you know, I'm not going to take that (aggressiveness) away, that's just who I am as a player. And like I said, that was out of character. There's such thing as going too far and I went too far. So I'm still going to continue to be aggressive but I won't be doing anything illegal. I did it this far without being illegal, so I know how to do it." Sulia

Jeff Green is still a nice guy, but he’s vowing to listen to Kevin Garnett’s request that he be more of a jerk when it comes to basketball. KG, who last night passed Allen Iverson for 17th place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list, liked what he saw from Green in Saturday’s win in Milwaukee, and he was quoted in Sunday’s Herald saying, “You know, Jeff’s a really, really nice guy, and some nights, you know, you’ve just got to be an (expletive). You’ve got to be . . . I can’t really say what I want to say, but he’s got to be that.” Boston Herald

“He just wants me to be aggressive and demand respect and attack the rim — that way of being an (expletive),” said Green before playing through a mildly sprained right ankle (he stepped on Garnett’s foot while driving) and going for seven points in last night’s 101-95 win over the Bulls. “He’s somebody I look up to, so I take those words and I use them to help my game and move on to the next step.” Boston Herald

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra wonders how anybody ever could have doubted LeBron James' clutch abilities. "How did anybody ever question him, looking back on it now in big moments,'' Spoelstra said after James had 38 points and was clutch in Monday's 113-110 win at Houston. "This guy is the ultimate competitor. He gets absolutely amplified in these situations and you can see him coming to life. He's done it over and over again. We don't take it for granted. And he's the best player in the game but he does it in the most important moments. And that's what makes him special.'' Sulia

The schedule is friendly enough short-term. Minnesota’s next set of games on consecutive nights comes Nov. 23-24 at Portland and Golden State. A betting man would expect Roy to play, and play hard, against his former team in the first of those. Same guy probably would anticipate a little aching and swelling the next night in Oakland. “He’s figuring that out,” Adelman said, as Roy navigates the physical and mental demands of his comeback. “He hasn’t been as effective as a lot of people thought he should be, but they’re thinking about the guy three years ago. He’s so used to just letting guys come to him and taking ‘em off the dribble and finishing plays. “Y’know, he’s just coming back after being off a year and he’s just not as sure of himself right now. [Friday] he came out and took three quick jumpers and knocked ‘em down. Everybody who comes back from knee surgery or major surgery, if they’re smart players, they figure out how to get to their strengths. He still can do that. It’s just going to take time.” NBA.com

The Blazers have not lost three consecutive games during a single homestand at any point during his tenure, which dates to 2008-09. That it's only Nov. 12 and this fact is being mentioned is a bit foreboding. Focusing on the here and now, though, there was a lot not to like in this one, and it began early. The Blazers missed three jumpers and committed three turnovers in the first 2:38, allowing Atlanta to begin the game on a 9-0 run. "We put ourselves in a hole," Lillard told Blazersedge. "We're not the Miami Heat. We can't put ourselves in that position. We have to come out with energy, we have to play hard to give us a better chance to win." Blazers Edge

"In college, we were a lot less talented than an NBA team," he told Blazersedge. "[Starting well] was an absolute must for us. The level I played at, that's what it was really, really all about. I think we have that here but we've got to start putting it on the floor." Blazers Edge

I asked Brooks if he ever had trouble maintaining a balance between chaos and order, crazy Westbrook and sane Westbrook. He laughed. “Trust me, there are times where my hair is almost out,” he said. But he defended his point guard. “Is he a natural John Stockton type? No, but he never will be. Those guys are done. Those guys are over. You’re not seeing those guys coming back. Russell is a dynamic offensive player. I would be a foolish coach if I said, ‘Russell, I don’t want you to go to the basket and draw fouls and score and put pressure on the defense.’ We need that.” He also dismissed the idea of a rift between Westbrook and Durant. “I’m with them every day. Did they have some competitive moments? Absolutely. But that’s how we work here. We challenge each other. It gets chippy. James and Kevin, Serge and Russell, me and Perk, Thabo and Russell — all of us. If it ever gets on the wrong side of being competitive, I’ll step in. But not once have I had to step in, in five years. If Russell and Kevin have problems, then I didn’t get along with any of my teammates.” New York Times

Leandrinho Barbosa: Another victory on the road! We are playing better, better as team. Thanks everyone that came out to support us in Chicago! #iamaceltic Twitter @TheBlur_Barbosa

Nowitzki had arthroscopic surgery on Oct. 19. At the time, team doctor T.O. Souryal’s stated prognosis was that Nowitzki would be able to resume basketball activities in six weeks. That would be late November or early December. “Gotta admit, I’m already getting tired of rehab,” Nowitzki said on Fox Sports Southwest’s telecast, during the second quarter of tonight’s game against Minnesota. “It’s been three weeks. Obviously, that’s a lot of time for me watching. “At this point, gotta stay patient and do what the doctors and trainers tell me. Just keep rehabbing and see how long it is. “When I originally heard three-to-six weeks, in my mind I’m thinking ‘in two weeks I’m back.’ But unfortunately, this is not how it happens. My first knee surgery of my career and unfortunately this stuff takes longer than we expected. “So I’ve gotta be patient, do the smart thing and keep working.” Dallas Morning News

Lakers guard Steve Blake underwent an ultrasound exam earlier today by Dr. Steven Yoon; results of the test showed a minor abdominal strain. Blake will not play in tomorrow night’s game against the San Antonio Spurs and his status beyond that will be day-to- day. NBA.com

The Lakers expect D'Antoni to get medical clearance to fly and arrive in Los Angeles late Wednesday but are uncertain if D'Antoni's coaching debut will take place Friday again Phoenix. For now, the team will continue to be led by interim coach Bernie Bickerstaff, who briefly worked with D'Antoni with the Denver Nuggets. Bickerstaff will coach Tuesday's game against the San Antonio Spurs. He doesn't know if he, or the rest of the staff, will be retained. Yahoo! Sports

D’Antoni, who still lives in Westchester, underwent major knee-replacement surgery 2 1/2 weeks ago and will need doctor’s clearance to get on the bench. Interim coach Bernie Bickerstaff said D’Antoni is expected to fly to L.A. tomorrow for his introductory press conference. D’Antoni is expected to bring in his former Knicks and Phoenix assistants, Phil Weber and Dan D’Antoni, to L.A. “I think it’s a great opportunity for him,’’ Dan D’Antoni told The Post. “New York was a great place to be and this is one of the top franchises in the league. It’s top end. Mike’s a good coach and they’re good players.’’ New York Post

Carmelo Anthony said Lakers know Mike D'Antoni's offense. That same offense contributed to MDA's departure. “To be with honest with you, you don’t have to bring too much to that table that they have out there, the two bigs, Kobe, Steve Nash,” Anthony said. “Steve Nash is used to that offense, the great offense. Kobe played with D’Antoni a couple of times with the USA team, Dwight was actually on one of the teams. That offense will be quite familiar to those guys.” Sulia

It took a while for the big news to sink in for Pau Gasol that Phil Jackson wasn't returning to coach the Los Angeles Lakers for a third time. He read about it late Sunday on Twitter that Mike D'Antoni was the Lakers' surprise hire, but didn't believe it until the team made it official. "Everybody had expectations about it," Gasol said after practice Monday. "They were all pretty high. We all understand what Phil brings to the table and how successful he has been since he's been here and what he means to the city, to the franchise. "It couldn't happen. It couldn't be for whatever the reasons are. So we move forward. That's what we do as professionals." Yahoo! Sports

The PNY Center, the Nets training facility in East Rutherford, is in such desperate shape that it will not re-open until "perhaps January," Avery Johnson has told the Cleveland Plain-Dealer. Although the original timetable had the center opening this month, the damage was more extensive than first believed. As a result, the Nets are practicing where they can, when they can, at Barclays Center, on the arena floor but mainly on the practice court, which was never built to handle full practices, only shootarounds and walk-throughs. NetsDaily

Is there an upside? Yep. Nets officials say. the team is becoming more Brooklyn. "Everything is more integrated, so now we find ourselves eating more in restaurants here in Brooklyn, spending time here, running into more of our fans," Johnson said. NetsDaily

I met Presti two weeks before the start of training camp at the Oklahoma City National Memorial, a site that commemorates, powerfully, the city’s defining tragedy: the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. Presti shook my hand in the lobby, quickly and firmly, and then proceeded to say nothing for many minutes. The museum’s director was giving us a tour, and Presti seemed relieved to cede the floor completely to her. He wore a polo shirt, casual pants, fashionable glasses and hip sneakers. He was very slim — no excess — and was fidgeting a lot, bouncing rhythmically at the knees. We were at the memorial because, as Presti told me later, “This place is part of our existence.” Presti sits on the memorial’s board, and he makes sure that every player who joins the Thunder visits the site before he ever plays a game. The idea is to teach them the character of the citizenry they’ve just joined, to help them recognize, as Tom Brokaw put it on the night of the bombing, Oklahomans’ “essential sense of goodness, community and compassion.” New York Times

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