Missed a game last night? Wondering what the latest news around the NBA is this morning? The Morning Shootaround is here to try to meet those needs and keep you up on what’s happened around the league since the day turned.
The one recap to watch: When we turned on League Pass last night at the home office and saw the Warriors-Pacers game on the dockett, we knew we had our pick for game of the night early on. Turns out, we were right. Although the final score reflects a bit of a one-sided affair, Indiana-Golden State turned out to be a dandy. Nothing like seeing two teams who are good-if-not-great at what they do: the Warriors on offense (with their No. 9 overall rated crew on that end) and the Pacers on defense (they’re No. 1 in defensive rating). Though a late Roy Hibbert-David Lee-Steph Curry scuffle became the storyline here, we enjoyed watching the Pacers take on one of the NBA’s best offenses and use its size and length to fluster anything the Warriors did around the basket.
News of the morning
LeBron’s dunking exhibitions may end — Aside from Harlem Shake videos, perhaps one of the bigger growing viral trends around the web are the pregame dunking exhibitions that Heat star LeBron James has been putting on. As he and his Miami comrades have — like the L.A. Clippers — been showing off their acrobatics in the warm-up lines, James often steals the show. Just check out this one he pulled off on the visiting Cavs two nights ago:
James isn’t too happy, though, with the flak he’s catching from those wondering why he won’t participate in the Slam Dunk Contest if he can pull off moves like this, writes Michael Wallace of ESPN.com:
James has been executing contest-worthy dunks during warmups, but has been unwilling throughout his career to participate in the league’s dunk contest during All-Star Weekend despite pressure from fans and former players.
“Maybe I should stop because it’s making a lot of people mad about what I do,” James said after he scored a season-high 40 points and had a career-high 16 assists in Tuesday’s double-overtime win against Sacramento. “They’re like, ‘Well, if you can do it in warmups, why don’t you (want to) be in the dunk contest? Stop it.’ ”
James was in the act again before Tuesday’s game, when he lobbed the ball into the air, caught it off the bounce and shifted the ball between his legs before slamming it through the rim. The Heat have a reputation for late-arriving crowds, but more fans have filled into the arena’s lower bowl before games with cell phones or video recorders in hand waiting for James to take the court before games.
The Heat have started to stream video of James’ pregame dunks on the team’s official website, and owner Micky Arison has used Twitter to encourage fans to arrive to games early if they want to see the show James puts on.
James said Tuesday he wasn’t aware of how popular the routine has grown, because it’s something he’s always done. More Heat players have gotten involved, including Chris Andersen, Mike Miller, Ray Allen, Norris Cole and Mario Chalmers, who has been James’ stiffest competition of late.
“I’ve been hearing about it,” James said. “But I don’t really watch TV or go on the Internet too much. As a team, it’s kind of our new thing. I’ve had some good ones, but (Chalmers) doing a 360? That’s impressive. We have a little epidemic right now. It’s kind of like the Harlem Shake.”
Nets’ Lopez delivers in clutch — Nets coach P.J. Carlesimo has taken flak of late for his tendency to pull All-Star center Brook Lopez down the stretch of games. He changed things up last night and kept Lopez in the game down the stretch and the All-Star came through, hitting several clutch baskets to salt away the Nets’ win over the Hornets. It was a matchup of NBA brothers to boot as Brook Lopez took on his brother, Robin, in a game where the Lopez twins’ mother found rooting interest hard to come by, writes Tim Bontemps of the New York Post:
“I’ve kept my confidence through this entire week,” Lopez said after finishing with 20 points, seven rebounds, five assists and four blocks. “It’s definitely good to get a win like this, but I try not to put too much stock into one game. … It is a marathon and not a sprint.”
Perhaps it just took facing off against his twin brother Robin, the starting center for the Hornets, to get him back on track.
“It’s always fun,” Brook Lopez said of facing off against his twin, who finished with 14 points, seven rebounds and two blocked shots. “[Robin’s] always very physical. Playing against him is enjoyable. … How many other people in the world get to experience something like this?”
The two brothers had a large cheering section in the stands, as their mom, Debbie Ledford, was cheering them on alongside their older brother, Alex, and his family.
Brook had said before the game his mom would be wearing either a Nets hat with a Hornets shirt or vice-versa, and she did exactly that, wearing a black Nets hat to go with a black Hornets T-shirt.
“It’s difficult, because they play the same position, they play the same minutes,” Ledford told The Post. “So, if anything happens, they kind of cancel out each other out. … One is successful at the expense of the other.
“All I hope is that they both have good games, but it’s difficult. You can’t choose which team you want to win.”
Bucks’ Dalembert suspended vs. Mavs — This hasn’t been the best season in veteran big man Samuel Dalembert‘s career. On the court, he’s averaging his lowest scoring (7.0 ppg), rebounding (5.8 rpg) and minutes average (16.7 mpg) since his rookie season. Off it in Milwaukee, he dealt with an icy relationship with former coach Scott Skiles (read more here). Maybe his problems can’t be traced solely to Skiles, though, as he was suspended last night for a pattern of behavior, writes Charles F. Gardner of the Journal Sentinel:
Bucks general manager John Hammond announced Dalembert was suspended for one game without pay due to a violation of team policy.
Bucks coach Jim Boylan said the suspension was due to a pattern of behavior rather than one specific incident.
“Everybody on the team, players, coaches, staff, they have certain responsibilities to the team,” Boylan said in his pre-game remarks. “When those responsibilities aren’t met, there are consequences.
“So Sam has not met some of those and the consequence is he is suspended for tonight’s game.”
Dalembert has been serving as the primary backup to starting center Larry Sanders.
Boylan said “it’s more of a pattern” when referring to the reason for the suspension. “It reached a point where something needed to be done, so we decided this was the appropriate action to take,” he said.
Former Bucks coach Scott Skiles benched Dalembert in the Nov. 24 home game against Chicago due to a lateness issue and started Przybilla at center. Dalembert did not play at all in the game but returned to the lineup when the Bucks played in Chicago two nights later.
Dalembert said later it was a “misunderstanding.”
“Coach said there were certain times to be there, and I was in the building,” Dalembert said in November. “I thought it was a little harsh. My team could have used me out there.
“That was the punishment. Nobody told me nothing before the game. So I found out the next day. If there’s a miscommunication and a misunderstanding … everybody misunderstands stuff but we communicate.
Lakers’ Buss helped Jazz stay put — Back in the mid-1980s, the Utah Jazz were a mostly fledgling franchise whose future in Salt Lake City seemed iffy. In fact, the city of Miami was interested in buying and moving the team there in 1985. That year, nine different owners were in line in Salt Lake City to buy the team from Sam Battistone, with one of the potential owners being the late Larry Miller. Miller was the Jazz’s owner from 1985 until his passing in 2009 as Utah experienced tremendous success during the John Stockton-Karl Malone era. But had it not been for Lakers owner Jerry Buss during a 1985 NBA Board of Governors meeting, writes Steve Luhm of the Salt Lake Tribune, the Jazz might have been Miami’s team:
According to the late Larry Miller, Buss played an undeniable role in keeping the Jazz from moving to Miami in 1985.
When Miller wanted to buy 50 percent of the team, Buss stood up for him during a Board of Governors meeting in New York City.
Without the support, the board might have rejected Miller’s ownership bid, which would have left the door open for a buyer from Miami to purchase the franchise.
Nine groups, apparently, stood in line to buy the franchise from owner Sam Battistone before Miller joined the battle to keep it in Utah.
Battistone was seeking limited partners, but Miller didn’t think that approach wouldn’t work.
He believed Battistone needed one partner, not several, and stepped forward with an $8 million offer to become co-owner.
Even though Miami bid $20 million for the franchise, Battistone accepted Miller’s offer because he also wanted the team to remain in Utah.
At that point, Miller went to the Board of Governors, seeking approval for his ownership bid. Atlanta’s Ted Turner attended the meeting. So did Jerry West, Red Auerbach and David Stern, the NBA’s new commissioner.
When Miller began his presentation, San Antonio’s Angelo Drossos quickly emerged as a skeptic.
…Drossos started questioning Miller, often interrupting before he could finish his response.…
“After the fifth interruption, Buss, who I had never met, interrupted Angelo,” Miller recalled. “He said, ‘Angelo, why don’t you shut up and let him answer a question?’ ”
Then, Buss “started asking questions that led to a discussion of my numbers. … Within half an hour, Jerry said, ‘I’m satisfied. Let’s go with him.’ ”
After Buss’ endorsement, Miller quickly became co-owner of the Jazz.
“Jerry saved me that day,” Miller wrote.
Mavs’ Cunningham may be done for season — Rookie Jared Cunningham has only appeared in just eight games for the Mavericks this season, spending much of 2012-13 as a member of Dallas’ NBA D-League club, the Texas Legends. He’s suffering from tendinitis in his knee and is already setting his sights on playing again in 2013-14, writes Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News:
The No. 24 overall pick said Tuesday that he’s suffering from tendinitis in his right knee and is going to be out “for a while.” He said his sights already have been set toward the 2013-14 season.
“My goal is to be completely ready for summer league,” Cunningham said. “I want to get my body back to the way it was in college so I have my athleticism.”
Coach Rick Carlisle said it was critical that Cunningham get healthy.
“I wouldn’t call it a lost season,” Carlisle said. “He’s gotten a lot of work in, and he’s gotten a fair amount of experience and he now understands what an NBA season is about. But we’re going to do the right thing. We’re going to make sure he gets healthy. And we’ll go from there.”
The Oregon State product’s start in the NBA was derailed when a hamstring kept him out of the summer league. From there, a thumb injury and knee issue flared up.
Now, Cunningham will stay with the Mavericks and work on conditioning his right knee. He was walking with a slight limp after shootaround.
“It’s best that I stay here and take advantage of everything they have to help my rehab,” Cunningham said. “It’s been a tough year. But I’m looking forward to getting right for the summer.”
ICYMI of the night: This Chris Paul-to-Blake Griffin alley-oop is only No. 4 on our nightly Top 10 countdown, but it’s No. 1 in our hearts around here …: