HoopsHype rumors

December 13, 2012 | 08:35 PM ET Update

While D'Antoni had always favored the pick-and-roll dating back to his Suns days with Steve Nash, Anthony had always been a player who excelled more in isolation. But Mike Woodson suggested before the Lakers game that Melo didn't have a problem playing for D'Antoni. "He's always been coachable," Woodson said. "From day one when I stepped in here, that hasn't changed -- even when I was an assistant." ESPN.com

“He’s definitely been on us, but one thing he has been trying to [do is] keep us positive out of everything,” DeRozan said. “It’s easy to do whatever, to throw in the towel and not still be able to fight. Like [Wednesday night against Brooklyn], we had every excuse in the world. We could have went out and laid down, but [we did not]. Just keeping us positive and keeping us working hard.” “We’ve got to be positive,” Casey added. “The NBA is not going to feel sorry for you. If you don’t feel like you can win in the NBA and believe you can win … That’s the most important thing. We’ve got to believe. We’ve got to have a belief system in place that we can win.” National Post

December 13, 2012 | 07:34 PM ET Update

John Hollinger, a fixture of ESPN.com's coverage of the NBA for the past eight seasons and one of the leaders in basketball's rising statistical analysis movement in the past decade, is leaving his role as a columnist to join the front office of the Memphis Grizzlies. Best known for hatching the formula behind every player's Player Efficiency Rating (PER) -- which attempts to quantify player performance through the use of an all-in-one rating -- Hollinger will begin work as a senior executive in the Grizzlies' basketball department next week. "It's incredibly difficult to leave ESPN, but the chance to work for an NBA team and the Grizzlies' new ownership was an irresistible opportunity," Hollinger said Thursday. ESPN.com

Roberts didn't just pick up where he left off from his college career, which ended in 1990. He started over at academic ground zero in 2007 and - with the help of his friends and his former school - fought through financial limitations, a learning disability, helping support four children and ultimately triple- bypass heart surgery four months ago, which required him to remain bed-ridden for the first four weeks of his final semester. As easily as he smiles and laughs, which is perpetually, he'll tell you he created most of his own issues - except the last one - that delayed this moment. But now beaming and with his 63-year-old mother, Isabella, at his side for the ceremony, he's marking a milestone that once seemed impossible. "It's the biggest thing I've ever accomplished," said Roberts, in low, unassuming tones. "It was difficult, brutal at times. But through the grace of God I got through it. "There's a great sense of accomplishment but it hasn't really hit me yet because there's so many other things I've got to think about right now. It's been a long road and I did it the hard way." New Orleans Times-Picayune

"Stanley was the toughest nut to crack I ever had as far as a former player coming back to school," Brown said. "He's always been one of the most likable, lovable people I've met in my whole life. But it took him more courage and more perseverance than most people ever show to get this degree. He's never once used a crutch or blamed anyone but himself." "I am extremely proud of him. If he had that same commitment on the basketball floor, he would have been a superstar." New Orleans Times-Picayune

December 13, 2012 | 04:56 PM ET Update

Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard wants everyone to know he's not 100%. He won't put a percentage on how healthy or not healthy he is after undergoing back surgery to repair a herniated disk in April. But he made it clear he's not where he wants to be and that he's "not in terrific shape." "Did you think I'd be coming out and be high-flying? A lot of people do," Howard said Thursday afternoon at the New York Athletic Club, hours before the struggling Lakers (9-13) played the soaring New York Knicks (16-5). His words seemed to be aimed at those criticizing his play and the Lakers' play. "I was out six months. It takes time to get back," Howard said. "It wasn't like I worked out during those six months. I'm not in terrific shape, and it takes a while. You try not playing for six months and having back surgery and coming back playing. It's not something easy. "I wasn't supposed to be playing until January. What do you expect?" USA Today

Mike D'Antoni wasn't sure about the reception awaiting him Thursday night at the Garden, but the former Knicks coach had nothing but good things to say about his time in New York following the Lakers' morning shootaround at the New York Athletic Club. "I know there's been some things written, but New York is great," D'Antoni said before facing the first-place Knicks for the first time since his departure in March. "It didn't end up exactly the way I would storybook it, but I definitely don't regret it and there's no bitterness at all." New York Daily News

On one game night in 2003, two dapper gentlemen were sitting at a table in the suite, circled by 12 security guards with earpieces. Real motorcade stuff. In walks Dolan. Observers in the room saw Jim stop and stare at the scene. He then crooked his finger at a Garden official, which, with Dolan, is always code for: Get the hell over here. In a conversation in front of several guests — and in detail that has become Garden lore among employees — Dolan had the following discussion: "Who are they?" says Jim, eyeballing the two distinguished-looking gentlemen. He was told the two men were important foreign dignitaries. "Who are all the other guys," asks Jim. "They're secret service." "They can't have 12 bodyguards," says Jim, now completely irritated. "I don't care who they are. I have one bodyguard and I'm the owner of the goddamn team." "Well," says the Garden executive, overheard trying to lighten the mood, "You'll have to call John Ashcroft and tell him they can't have 12." And then Jim says (wait for it, wait for it), "Who's John Ashcroft?" Yahoo! Sports

Multiple people, including the wife of a Charlotte Bobcats player, were arrested during a fight outside an uptown bar early Thursday morning after a party hosted by NBA star Chris Paul. The fight took place around 2:30 a.m. at the NC Music Factory outside of the Label night club where a party hosted by the Los Angeles Clippers star guard had just wrapped up. Jamie Patrice Thomas, wife of Charlotte Bobcats forward Tyrus Thomas, was arrested during the altercation. Names of other people involved in the fight have not been released. WCNC.com

December 13, 2012 | 03:39 PM ET Update

Make no mistake, the Lakers are still the front-runners in the Dwight Howard Sweepstakes. After all, Howard enjoys the city, and the Lakers can offer him a five-year contract worth $117.9 million while other clubs can pay him only $87.6 million over four years. But if a poor season sours him on Los Angeles, there are some intriguing opportunities elsewhere. ESPN.com

To be sure, I believe the Lakers are the likely long-term landing spot for Howard. But if this season continues to worsen, the probability of his departure will only grow. ESPN.com

Roy took part in Thursday’s practice, which doesn’t mean much. The team did little more than shoot. But the fact Roy said retiring didn’t cross his mind was interesting. “No,” he said when asked about reports that he’d considered leaving the game again. “A few people asked me that, and I don’t pay attention much to the media. I don’t really read that stuff. But I don’t know where that could have come from. But no, I never thought about walking away. It was, for me, just do I want to go through another procedure or do I want to play through it. that was more my question than walking away.” Minneapolis Star-Tribune

Roy said he’s been able to some running, participate in team warm-ups and do shooting drills. He has been spending a lot of time in the weight room working to get the strength back in his right leg. That said, Roy did admit to some concern about the injury – which happened late in preseason – and the process of surgery and recovery. “There is always, I think, that small concern in the back of your mind,” he said. “But it felt good this week, and I think I’m trying to push it because I want to get to next week and see where it’s really at. But the good thing is it feels good. It feels like that nagging feeling I was feeling there early in the season, it feels like it’s gone. ‘’ Minneapolis Star-Tribune

"Smith has an expiring contract, and he's that piece they could deal for a couple more players. But he's also a unique talent in the league. I think the bigger question for them is whether they think Al Horford can be consistent as an undersized 5 man, as opposed to his natural position as a big 4 who doesn't shoot it or stretch the floor. In some ways the future of their team depends more on Al, because Josh is a 4 no matter what. He's a 4 who changes the game. Plus, they have a new management team in Atlanta around GM Danny Ferry, and what they've been seeing this year is a better Josh than the Josh we've seen in previous years. SI.com

Sources say Nash was arranging a trip to New York to sign with the Knicks until a late phone call from Kobe Bryant. Kidd always has been a better defender than Nash and more adaptable in playing off the ball, guarding the “2” position. And Kidd is also unexpectedly lighting up from the 3-point line like never before in his career. He is shooting 52 percent from 3-point land after once being called “Ason Kidd” for not having a “J.” New York Post

Asked if he has had to swallow his pride by not playing much point guard, Kidd said, “It’s just basketball. The game has changed. Look at Miami. They don’t really have a center. The game has changed, having smaller guys out there.” Kidd’s influence on Carmelo Anthony has been gigantic. “I’ve always tried to make the game easy for my teammates,” Kidd said. “With Melo, I’m working with him every day that he doesn’t have to fight to get the ball. Just relax. It reminds me of Dirk [Nowitzki]. You don’t have to fight to get the ball. I’ll get you the ball.’’ New York Post

The drama began earlier this week ... when Griffin appeared on the Dan Patrick radio show and said, "Terrell Owens is always ... he was at our practice facility this summer, begging coaches for a 10-day contract.” But T.O.'s rep tells us Blake was just kidding ... explaining, "Blake and Terrell are friends. Terrell never begged to become a Clipper." The rep says Terrell WAS at the Clippers practice facility over the summer, but only because Jasen Powell -- T.O.'s good friend -- is the team's head trainer. TMZ.com

Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard wants everyone to know he's not 100%. He won't put a percentage on how healthy or not healthy he is after undergoing back surgery to repair a herniated disk in April. But he made it clear he's not where he wants to be and that he's "not in terrific shape." "Did you think I'd be coming out and be high-flying? A lot of people do," Howard said Thursday afternoon at the New York Athletic Club, hours before the struggling Lakers (9-13) played the soaring New York Knicks (16-5). USA Today

His words seemed to be aimed at those criticizing his play and the Lakers' play. "I was out six months. It takes time to get back," Howard said. "It wasn't like I worked out during those six months. I'm not in terrific shape, and it takes a while. You try not playing for six months and having back surgery and coming back playing. It's not something easy. "I wasn't supposed to be playing until January. What do you expect?" USA Today

(Mayo) never fit the culture of the team. I spent some time with those guys in New Orleans last week and the story there is this… they have a very tight nit group of guys led by Zach Randolph and Tony Allen and they set the tone for things and OJ never accepted that, and pushed back on almost everything. It was not a good fit culturally… now Rudy Gay was very tight with OJ, but OJ never fit into with the other guys because he didn’t want to. Rudy is fitting in better with those guys this year and I think thats why they are having such success. HoopsWorld

Bernard James was 22 when he grew five inches. He had been transferred to Beale Air Force base in Sacramento where his supervisor was coach of the intramural basketball team. He encouraged James to play. "That's how I got started. It was just by chance. If I had ended up in a different unit, I may not have ended up playing and I may not be here right now." He had no idea that the Air Force was preparing him for the NBA. "It helped me become a man. It made me realize that I don't know it all. That was huge for my development, and just learning in general. When you think you know everything, you don't learn, because you think you already know it. Once you humble yourself, you realize that there's a whole world of stuff out there that you don't know. You constantly start soaking things up, and that's what I've been doing ever since I joined the military. It's been huge in my development as a person, as a basketball player and every aspect of my life.'' SI.com

Could more have been done to improve the players' health before training camp? One team executive believes the NBA should consider rules that would enable franchises to have more oversight on players' training methods during the offseason. "You would love to see the team who pays the player have, if not complete control, at least consensual agreement over who the player works with,'' the team executive said. "Let the team have some oversight of that, so that the team can say, 'No, we don't want you dealing with this person.' Somehow we need to have it written into the contract so that if something happens and it's not under team supervision, then it's going to be an issue.'' SI.com

Agents often hire trainers to work with the players they represent. In turn, the teams then routinely accuse agents of providing training or medical advice that is not necessarily in the best interest of the player. This is a complicated issue for the same reason that everyday, non-athletic patients in all walks of life are advised to seek out opinions from multiple doctors. "When it comes to medicine,'' an NBA general manager said, "you can get anyone anywhere to tell you what you want to hear.'' SI.com

The issues of Gordon, Granger, Wall and Bynum are all different from one another. The team executive who is proposing new rules doesn't claim to understand the individual circumstances of each case, and he isn't accusing the players of behaving wrongly. Instead, he is calling for the teams -- who are paying those five players a combined $49.6 million in guaranteed salary this season -- to have more control over the health of the players in whom they invest so greatly. SI.com

Said the GM: "The players don't want to spend $35,000 a month on a personal trainer -- but if you don't give them somebody to work out with, then they'll go out and spend the $35,000. I do think this is a problem. But I don't think it's a huge epidemic.'' The rival team executive disagrees. "I believe it's coming," he said of a demand for new rules. "Too many things keep happening.'' SI.com

An MRI revealed Sixers point guard Jrue Holiday has a left foot sprain and will be a game-time decision for Friday night's game in Indiana. In addition, point guard Royal Ivey won’t make the trip due to strep throat. Gerald Wilkins (calf strain) is will be a game-time decision. Philadelphia Inquirer

It appears, as Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor said Wednesday night, that the goal remains to have Ricky Rubio make his debut Saturday against Dallas at Target Center. Not that anybody is anywhere near to confirming that. After Thursday’s very light, no-contact practice, Wolves president of basketball operations David Kahn, coach Rick Adelman and head athletic trainer Gregg Farnam met with Rubio courtside. But Adelman wasn’t revealing anything about that meeting. “It’s like I told you last night,” he said. “Just evaluating it every day, and we’ll see what comes, you know?” Minneapolis Star-Tribune

Lowry’s out “10 days,” according to the team. Working with the same math that had him day-to-day for two weeks earlier in the season, he should be back in . . . let’s see . . . carry the one . . . about three months. Toronto Star

"I'm definitely surprised by the Warriors," the scout said. "Everybody has improved for them over the course of the year, and from a coaching standpoint they've got a better feel for what they have. They understand how to put the guys into situations to be successful. Festus Ezeli has been a surprise to everyone. He's physical and athletic. He's not a great offensive player, but he can finish around the rim, and he gives them a defensive presence to help resolve one of the issues they've had in previous years. I'm surprised by their defense and their mental toughness, which has been shown on the road already by the games they've won in the East. SI.com

Billy Donovan had proven more than loyal in building the Florida men’s basketball program through 17 seasons. But in a candid interview with Dan LeBatard on AM 790 in Miami, Donovan sounded like a coach still with an itch to work in the NBA someday. When asked if he’s ruled out ever coaching in the NBA, Donovan said. “The one thing that I think is always intriguing the older is the fact that (the NBA) is just all about basketball. I love the practices, I love the games, I love doing individual instruction and and breaking down tape and game planning and doing those things. GatorSports.com

The Detroit Pistons have announced a contest whereby one fan will win a round trip for two to see the team play the New York Knicks on Jan. 17 in London. Fans who join the Hardwood Club or the Pistons Playmakers clubs by Jan. 1 automatically become entered in the drawing for the three-day excursion. Date the contest winner will be announced is pending. The Hardwood Club is the fan-affinity club tailored for men, and the Pistons Playmakers Club serves the same function for women. Visit www.pistons.com/london for sign-up information. Booth Newspapers

Police say a dispute over a basketball game between the Chicago Bulls and the Philadelphia 76ers game led to a shooting that wounded two men on board an elevated train in Philadelphia. Lt. John Walker says the shooting late Wednesday on the Market-Frankford El happened after a dispute over the 76ers' loss to the Bulls earlier in the night. Walker says a 35-year-old Bulls fan quarreled with two younger males before being shot as his assailants exited the train at 46th Street in West Philadelphia. A second man who tried to calm things down was shot in the leg. USA Today

December 13, 2012 | 10:08 AM ET Update

Timberwolves All-Star forward Kevin Love on Wednesday addressed his latest critical comments about the franchise and stood by everything he said in Tuesday's provocative Yahoo! Sports report. "I told the truth," he said. Minneapolis Star-Tribune

But he added that many positive things he said about the team and where it is headed were excluded, and he promised that next time he will keep his thoughts private. "A lot of athletes these days say the right thing and aren't outspoken," he said. "I'm not going to say I have anything to apologize for. I said what I felt. I didn't mean to alienate my team, my coaches, the organization or more importantly the fans ... "I think from this point we just move on. Nobody wants to alienate themselves from anyone." Minneapolis Star-Tribune

"I meant what I said," Love said when asked if he regrets anything he told Yahoo!. "I told David there's nothing to apologize about. The only thing I was sorry about was I did it in public. If there's a learning experience from that, it's not to do that again ... "I just need to move forward and hopefully this thing won't keep coming up. I'm done talking about it really from here on out after today. I'm hoping we can just move on and winning will take care of everything." Minneapolis Star-Tribune

Taylor and Kahn declined to comment Wednesday. When asked about his conversation with Love, Adelman said: "I'm not even going to get into that. The most important thing for me is to get this team to move forward. We have a lot of issues, with Ricky [Rubio's] situation and [Brandon Roy's] situation, the most important thing for me is pretty much what I said to him: We've got to move on, we've got to get ourselves together as a team and go from there. To me, it's past history." Minneapolis Star-Tribune

"I was ready for anything," Love said after the Wolves (10-9) outlasted one of the teams they might wind up battling for a Western Conference playoff spot. "I heard some things. I'm not going sit here and call people ignorant or anything like that. Everybody takes a stance on something." St. Paul Pioneer Press

"I'm always going to have the fans' back," Love said. "They've had my back since Day One, even when some people were mad about the trade on draft night. As I continued to put work in, people noticed that. If we win, and I can get back to being me -- and I will at some point -- people will forget." St. Paul Pioneer Press

The Grizzlies conducted a workout with veteran point guard Mike Bibby in Phoenix Wednesday afternoon before their game with the Suns at US Airways Center. Bibby, 34, lives in the Phoenix area but hasn’t played in the NBA since appearing in 39 games for the New York Knicks last season. Sources with knowledge of the situation would not describe Bibby’s workout and insisted that no deal is imminent. Memphis Commercial Appeal

Celtics analyst, and ex-UConn and NBA star, Donny Marshall said O.J. Mayo, who was coming to Boston in the Allen trade (the proposal was Mayo and a draft choice for Allen), scuttled things by making it clear Boston held no appeal to him. "On the Memphis side, O.J. Mayo was the guy who pretty much said, 'It really doesn't interest me to be a Boston Celtic,' " Marshall told Carolyn Manno on Wednesday night's SportsNet Central. "I think what he was told was, 'Think about the banners. Think about the history of this team,the legacy.' And O.J. Mayo basically said, 'I don't care about banners.' CSNNE.com

In the end, the Warriors showed confidence in Curry and his ankle by offering a four-year extension paying $44 million on deadline day. "Clearly because of his injury there was more risk there," Myers said. "To not acknowledge that wouldn't be right. With him, the thinking was from ownership on down that if you were going to bet on a player this was the type of player you bet on because of his character and because of his talent." Yahoo! Sports

As for the Nets deal -- Pierce for Mehmet Okur and a lottery pick -- Marshall said it was a proposal pushed by the Celtics but rejected by New Jersey. "On the other side, the GM for the New Jersey Nets, from what I was told, said, 'I can't take Paul Pierce in this deal,' " said Marshall. "That deal -- at least from the people I talked to with the Nets organization -- [was] a move from our side, from the Celtics side, that kind of was pushing that movement along to get Paul Pierce there . . . " But Marshall said the notion of acquiring a Celtics legend made the Nets uneasy, and they backed off. CSNNE.com

Instead, Mayo blamed the deal’s failure on an internal debate between C’s players and the front office over Allen’s future. “I was pretty much set to come here and something fell through at the very last second,” said Mayo, who collected 24 points (10-19 FG), six rebounds, three assists and two steals in Wednesday night’s loss to the Celtics. “A couple of the guys wanted to keep Ray, and management wanted to make the trade. “It’s just business, though,” he continued. “I was just really trying to stay focused, because I’d been traded [to the Celtics] and it didn’t go through two or three times. It can mess with you, obviously. It’ll mess with anyone, but if it doesn’t go through, you’ve got to continue to be a professional, come to work and work hard.” WEEI.com

“Yeah, [the Celtics called me],” said Mayo, “but I think it didn’t go as rapid as they would’ve liked. They signed Lee and JET. That’s my position as well. It’s all right, though. … I’m happy where I am now in Dallas, playing with guys like Vince [Carter], ‘Trix [Shawn Marion], Dirk [Nowitzki], Chris [Kaman], EB [Elton Brand] and now D-Fish [Derek Fisher], so we’ve got great vets here, and I’m learning every day as much as possible.” WEEI.com

Jackson said getting back on the court will help him move past the controversy in which he embroiled himself last week by tweeting hostile comments aimed at Oklahoma City’s Serge Ibaka. The Spurs and the NBA jointly fined Jackson $25,000 for the ill-considered remarks. “It happened,” he said. “I apologized for it. I paid my fine. I’m ready to move on. I spoke my mind. It wasn’t right, and I knew it wasn’t right. I dealt with the consequences, and that’s about it. “I’m ready to get back to playing basketball.” San Antonio Express-News

No, this has gone so badly, so quickly, it's not so much answers that the Lakers are looking for anymore. It's a belief. That this can still work. That they're not all crazy. That they're not all flawed. "Togetherness," Bryant said. "Finding a way to play that maximizes each other's talents. I believe we have the intelligence to do it. Mike is very, very smart. Steve obviously has a high basketball IQ. Myself, Gasol, we've all been there before. We know how to conduct this thing. It's just a matter of figuring that out." ESPN.com

"I'm a bit of a psychopath," he told Smith. "I don't expect my teammates to have that level of concern. But I hope that they're feeling determined and not discouraged. This moment is where you have to dig deep and become more determined and say by any means necessary we're going to get this thing done, we're going to turn this thing around." ESPN.com

With 9:24 left in the fourth quarter, and James starting to take over, he drove to the basket and dropped in a driving hook. He got the foul and the basket, then followed with some words for Green. The Warriors rookie then walked right into James’ face and barked back. “I’m not going to back down from anyone,” Green said. “Yes he is one of the greatest players in the world. But that’s not a license for me to back down. I’m trying to make a name for myself in this league just like he did once upon a time.” Contra Costa Times

Thompson was attempting to pull a rebound away from Tyler Hansbrough in the fourth quarter, and in doing so he swung an elbow into the head of bystander Ben Hansbrough, a seldom-used Pacers reserve. "Psycho T" was unleashed, with Tyler Hansbrough immediately jumping into Thompson's face. Thompson, whose Canadian background we mention here for no particular reason, kept his cool and did not retaliate, so the fight stopped when referees interjected. USA Today

Pachulia on flop warning: “It’s a rule so you have to respect the game, respect the rules. Honestly, my first reaction because I saw the elbow coming was just to try to get out of the way because I was so close. I wasn’t trying to flop there but if you look at the film it’s obvious it looks like I was flopping. I was just trying to get out of the way. If the elbow came, I would rather take the $5,000 fine than a broken jaw. Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Now, Noah has promised to taunt the notoriously tough Philadelphia fans for the rest of his career. Noah took exception to those fans cheering when he gruesomely sprained his ankle during Game 3 of a 2012 first-round playoff series, an injury that sidelined the center for the remainder of the series. “I couldn’t wait to come back here,” Noah said. “When I went down last year and people were cheering, I felt that was real disrespectful. And I will use that as motivation every time I come into this building. And I’m going to (egg the crowd on) for the rest of my career every time I come here.” Sulia

They called it the “Breakfast Club.’’ This was freshman Michael Kidd-Gilchrist’s creation at Kentucky, the team’s youngest player leading with charisma. It wasn’t bagels or cereal or bacon-and-eggs. It was a daily extra workout and all the other Wildcats followed along last season. “He’d work out in the mornings before class and brought people with him,’’ Kentucky coach John Calipari recalled Wednesday, at halftime of the Charlotte Bobcats’ home game with the Los Angeles Clippers. “When I recruited him I told him, 'You’re going to elevate every practice. You’re going to drag people with you.’ ’’ Charlotte Observer

LeBron James had bad right shoulder wrapped in ice after game but guaranteed would play Sat. against Washington. “I’ll be all right,’’ James said. “It will be sore tomorrow. I’ll be ready by Saturday. It’s automatic.’’ Sulia

These are good times for Clippers forward Matt Barnes. He's playing on a winning team and he's playing a significant role off the bench. His 25.2 minutes per game is the third highest of his nine-year career. He's averaging 8.9 points and 5.2 rebounds per game. "So far, behind that Golden State season, this is the most fun I've had with the collective group of guys like this," said Barnes, who played with the Warriors in 2006-07 and 2007-08. "And we're playing good basketball. So that's a bonus." Los Angeles Times

Coach Vinny Del Negro said he's not surprised by Barnes' play. "What I'm most pleased with is that something is going to happen out there when he's out there on the court," Del Negro said. "He fills up the stat line. He gives us a lot of intangibles that sometimes don't show up on the stat sheet." Los Angeles Times

"I didn't want to be the player that was forever limited in what he could do on the court because of a serious problem with my ankle, with the alignment … " Curry said. "But when I came out my wife told me they just got the scar tissue out. I thought she was lying at first because I had some concerns and anxiety about it." Yahoo! Sports

J.R. Smith wouldn’t allow back spasms to force him out of the game in the second half of the Knicks’ 100-97 win in Brooklyn on Tuesday, but it is unclear if he will be able to suit up tonight vs. the Lakers. Smith underwent 45 minutes of treatment after the victory and didn’t speak to reporters. Smith hasn’t missed a regular-season game because of injury since joining the Knicks. He injured his back in a first-half collision and used a heating pad on the bench. Coach Mike Woodson kept asking him if he wanted to come out in the fourth quarter but Smith refused and finally broke out of a prolonged shooting slump with a 7-of-15 outing. New York Post

And before his team would go on to lose the first of eight straight preseason games en route to a 9-13 regular season that no one saw coming, he shared the sort of optimism and humor that are in short supply in Laker Land these days. "I like this team with (reserve center) Robert Sacre on it," Buss had joked at the time about his temporary starter. But the laughing has long since stopped for the Lakers, this so-called super team that currently sits in 12th place in the Western Conference they were supposed to dominate. They're 4-8 under Mike D'Antoni, the former Phoenix Suns and New York Knicks coach who replaced the fired Mike Brown just five games in and will make his first trip back to Madison Square Garden tonight. USA Today

"It's very frustrating, because I think there are many little factors that are causing the issues that we're having," Buss wrote in a text message to USA TODAY Sports on Wednesday. "Nash, injuries, (a) new system. Like I said before, there are a lot of little ones, but the ones that figure to help the most would be Nash returning (and) Gasol returning and just playing together in a new system." USA Today

"I think the system is fine when you have someone like Nash running it," Buss wrote. "I personally like the system, because - like Mike says - you can always tweak it to fit the players." USA Today

Regarding the subject of jersey number retirement, Cuban said Derek Harper would probably be up next. Harper, along with Mark Aguirre, were the two Mavericks along with Brad Davis and Rolando Blackman (whose numbers already hang in the rafters) who got the franchise started in the early days. “I’ll deal with Derek first,” Cuban said when asked if Terry’s jersey would go up soon. “I’d say there’s a good chance [Harper’s number will be retired]. But I’m in no rush to do that.” Dallas Morning News

Is he a forgettable franchise footnote, a 7-foot-1 package of fool's gold who’s mammoth size and potential convinced the Blazers to draft him ahead of Michael Jordan, who became the NBA’s greatest player? Or is Bowie a calculated liar who deceived the Blazers about his health and covered up the extent of his ailing left leg before the 1984 NBA Draft? “Anybody that knows me, from the hierarchy in the Portland Trail Blazers during my playing days to my teammates to my friends and family, knows I would never deceive or trick or lie to anybody,” Bowie told The Oregonian during a phone interview Wednesday. “I wasn’t raised that way. You can call me a lot of things, but don’t look at me as though I deceived or tricked (the organization). “I thought I would play 15 years and win a couple championships with the Blazers.” Oregonian

During the film, which The Oregonian viewed before its release, Bowie admits that he wasn’t entirely forthcoming about the condition of his left leg as he recounted a story about his medical examination in Portland. “I can still remember them taking a little mallet, and when they would hit me on my left tibia, and ‘I don’t feel anything’ I would tell ‘em. But deep down inside, it was hurting,” Bowie said in the documentary. “If what I did was lying and what I did was wrong, at the end of the day, when you have loved ones that have some needs, I did what any of us would have done.” Oregonian

“My discomfort wasn’t to the point where I would say to the Portland Trail Blazers or anyone else, ‘My leg is extremely sore. I wouldn’t draft me. I don’t think I’m going to play a full career in the NBA,’” Bowie told The Oregonian. “That wasn’t the situation at all. The thing that bothers me is that I’m looked upon in some way as a liar. That’s never been my demeanor, my makeup, my character. By no means was I tricking or was it a premeditated position to lie and give somebody damaged goods. To say that I deliberately went into the Portland Trail Blazers’ front office and completely lied to them about my physical being could not be further form the truth.” Oregonian

Amar’e Stoudemire and his fiancée, Alexis Welch, got married in a super-private ceremony on the rooftop of his apartment yesterday. Sources say the couple was inspired by the special 12/12/12 date, and wed in front of their three children — Amar’e Jr., Ar’e and Assata — and a few other family members. “Less than seven other people were there, no Knicks teammates. It was just about them,” a source said. But this won’t be the couple’s only ceremony. “They are planning a big bash next year for friends and family to have a great time,” a source said. New York Post

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