Posts Tagged ‘Carlos Delfino’

Exposed Howard Covers Lakers Sins

HOUSTON — Evidently, it is also safe now to spit into the wind and pull the mask off the old Lone Ranger. Because everybody, it seems, is tugging on Superman’s cape these days.

Dwight Howard couldn’t be more exposed if he were a magazine centerfold wearing nothing but a staple. At least in Playboy, they usually let you lay down on a soft bearskin rug.

Howard shot just 8-for-16 on free throws and it was actually his best night from the foul line in a week and a half.

Every time the Lakers center stands unguarded 15 feet from the basket, it is becoming less a surprising adventure than a sitcom rerun: The Big Clang Theory.

The Rockets were only the latest to intentionally foul Howard and send him to the line. The strategy — Bite-a-Dwight, if you will — continues to take a shark-sized chunk from the aura of the big man that the Lakers are falling all over themselves for the chance to pay $100 million to and give away the keys to the franchise.

The fact that the strategy worked — and gave the crowd at the Toyota Center great amusement — covered up a bigger batch of sins. The Lakers can’t take care of the ball, committing 19 turnovers, can’t keep opponents off the offensive glass and can’t defend consistently when the game is on the line.

Yes, the Rockets sent Howard to the line five different times in a 69-second span of the fourth quarter. Yes, he connected only five times on his 10 throws. But during that stretch Houston outscored the Lakers by just 7-5.

It was everything else the Rockets did in the fourth quarter — getting James Harden into the paint to draw fouls, getting easy dump-off passes to Greg Smith, getting open shots on the wing for Toney Douglas -- that made the difference.

Just as occurred on at home on Sunday night against Orlando, Howard’s ineptitude from the foul line was the lightning rod while everyone else in the lineup let the house burn down.

Now the talk shows and the Twitterverse will be teeming with the suggestions for coach Mike D’Antoni to chain Howard to the bench in the fourth quarter of close games.

“People have no clue what they’re talking about if they think I’ll take Dwight out in the fourth quarter,” D’Antoni said. “It’s pretty simple: You don’t do that to a guy. He made his foul shots and that’s not the reason that we lost that game. He has to work through this. You just don’t take out a franchise player and do something like that to him.”

Certainly not if you don’t want to risk turning a mental block into a full blown psychosis. If Howard is going to be the anchor to the Lakers in the post-Kobe Bryant future, then he can hardly be hidden away at crunch time like Grandma’s porcelain figurines every time the kiddies come to visit.

“That’s just a strategy that teams are employing and we have to figure out the best strategy to defend it,” Bryant said. “We’ve talked about it a little bit. He just has to keep working at it all the time and keep practicing and doing it over and over until he turns it into a strength.”

The more critical problem is the Lakers’ lack of discipline and defense when games get late. This was a game in which the Lakers once led by 17 and were still up by 13 early in the fourth quarter.

On a night when Harden was a myopic 3-for-19, Chandler Parsons 5-for-16 and Jeremy Lin 2-for-8, the Rockets kept working and grinding and did all of the little things to inch their way back and give themselves a chance. It was the kind of play that the Lakers seem to think is beneath them.

With Steve Nash still out with a fractured leg and Pau Gasol now going to the sidelines to rest his ailing knees, excuses are all around for the Lakers, if they want to use them.

So, too, is the easy scapegoat, Howard, hammering more metal than a blacksmith, at the line. But it is not Howard committing the defensive breakdowns. He’s stepping up to cut off a penetrator and nobody is rotating behind him. Howard is not the one leaving the likes of Douglas and Carlos Delfino wide open on the outside because the proper switches weren’t made.

“He’s not the reason that our defense breaks down,” D’Antoni said. “He’s not the reason that stuff happens.”

But as long as Superman keeps standing exposed at the foul line, the real problems stay hidden.

Some Notable Names Are Still Waiting For Their Free Agent Fury To Begin


HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS –
Not all NBA free agents are created equal.

Sometimes you’re Deron Williams and sometimes you’re not.

And this isn’t news to the huddled masses of familiar names and faces still looking for work with the start of training camps just a mere month away. They know that it’s time for the two-minute drill, when their options are dwindling and an invite to camp becomes a life-preserver for guys who are used to guaranteed roster spots and permanent spots in a team’s rotation.

This would explain the likes of Eddy Curry, who most likely will not be in Miami on opening night when the championship banner is raised but does have a ring with his name on it, auditioning for any team interested.

It’s the same reason you hear names like Josh Howard, who has worked out for his home state Charlotte Bobcats, Josh Childress, Hilton Armstrong and so many others — some former lottery picks (Childress) and some former All-Stars (Howard) — doing what millions of other Americans are doing right now, and that’s looking for work.

Curry and Armstrong worked out together for the Nets Wednesday, according to the New York Post:

Curry, along with Hilton Armstrong, worked out for the Nets Wednesday, according to Yahoo! Sports. Curry, the much maligned former Knick, spent last season with the Heat, playing 14 games and averaging 2.1 points while riding the coattails of LeBron James to his first NBA title.

Curry, 29, played a combined 10 games in his final three seasons with the Knicks before his contract was used as salary ballast in the Carmelo Anthony deal in February 2011.

Armstrong was part of the Nets’ free agent minicamp in May, when he earned some praise for his play from general manager Billy King.

“What I like about Hilton is he’s long and he knows how to play. I think the biggest thing for Hilton is doing it consistently,” King said at the time. “I think he got better each day. I like his length, because the one thing is it’s hard to find athletic size in this league.”

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A Rivalry Renewed: U.S. And Argentina Set To Face Off … One Last Time?

LONDON – After a decade of circling each other, five times in five different tournaments during that span, it comes down to this for the U.S. Men’s Senior National Team and their counterparts from Argentina.

Only one of them will play for a gold medal here Sunday in the Olympics.

And whoever gets that chance will have to go through their bitter rival in the semifinals Friday afternoon (4 p.m. ET) at North Greenwich Arena.

It’s a fitting crossroads for the two programs. After all, Argentina is the outfit that shocked the USA Basketball system a decade ago at the 2002 World Championship in Indianapolis, shattering a previous decade of domination by NBA players on the national team rosters by embarrassing that team on home soil.

They’re reaffirmed the initial blow two years later by going through the U.S. Team in the semifinals on the way to gold in the Athens Olympics. That death-blow jolted USA Basketball into a complete reorganization of the program that saw both managing director and chairman Jerry Colangelo and coach Mike Krzyzewski come on board.

When the U.S. finally returned the favor in Beijing four years ago, finishing off Argentina in the semifinals on the way to Olympic gold, it was clear both sides would spend the next four years pining for a moment like the one that is upon them now.

Argentina’s aging core group, led by Manu Ginobili, Luis Scola, Andres Nocioni and Carlos Delfino, is believed to be making this one last stand together. The instigators of a basketball revolution in their native land, this could very well be the last time they take the floor together in Olympic competition.

“We know who those guys are,” said Ginobili, Argentina’s fearless leader. “We are not intimidated when we play against them.”

That fact only adds to the intrigue for the core of the U.S. Team, guys like LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul and even Kevin Durant.

They’d love to put the Argentina chapter of USA Basketball’s history to rest.

“Why not? Why not?” Anthony said without so much as a whiff of cockiness in his voice. “We have to play them. Something has to happen. Why not end it [now]?”

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Slim Pickings Left In Free Agency

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY – Training camp is still about eight weeks away, but good luck trying to find any more free agents who can make a real impact on your team. A month after free agency opened, only slim pickings remain.

Want proof? The remaining free agent who played the most minutes last season is Alonzo Gee. Most rebounds? Shelden Williams. Yep, we’re down to the bottom of the barrel.

At this point, if teams are still looking to fill roster spots, they have certain needs. So we’ll list the best available guys by position. Here are three point guards, five wings, and three bigs who could be useful (or not) next season…

Point guards

1. Derek Fisher (OKC)
23.9 MPG, 5.6 PPG, 2.7 APG, 37.1% FG, 32.1% 3PT
The veteran will celebrate his 38th birthday next week, and it’s been a while since we’ve heard anything about a possible destination for next season. After a rough regular season, he shot a solid 38 percent (18-for-48) from 3-point range in the playoffs.

2. Jannero Pargo (ATL)
13.4 MPG, 5.6 PPG, 1.9 APG, 41.5% FG, 38.4% 3PT
Pargo provided an offensive lift for the Hawks in a handful of games last season. (more…)

Brazil, Spain, Russia, Argentina And Nigeria Impress In Olympic Openers

LONDON – The U.S. Men’s Senior National Team wasn’t the only crew to walk away from the first day of Olympic competition with an impressive win, theirs coming in a 98-71 thumping of France in the third game of the day.

There were familiar faces (to NBA fans) on the court all day and night, as Brazil, Spain,Russia, Argentina and Nigeria all made good first impressions at the Olympic Basketball Stadium.

A quick round-up of the action …

NIGERIA 60, TUNISIA 56:

The Aminu brothers, Alade and Al-Farouq combined for 25 points and 18 rebounds as Nigeria, the last team to qualify for this 12-team field, held off a late rally from the African champions in the first game of the day. Ike Diogu added 13 points and 10 rebounds. Amine Rzig scored 15 of his 18 points in the second-half to lead Tunisia in what was the Olympic debut for both teams.

BRAZIL 75, AUSTRALIA 71:

Leandro Barbosa scored 16 points but it was his backcourt mate, Brazilian captain Marcelo Huertas, who played the hero as they held off a late push from Australia on two free throws from Huertas with five seconds to play. David Andersen scored all 14 of his points after halftime and Patty Mills led Australia with a game-high 20 points, but it wasn’t enough.

SPAIN 97, CHINA 81:

Pau Gasol was dominant, scoring 21 points and grabbing 11 rebounds and Serge Ibaka added 17 points, as the silver medalists and two-time European champs whipped China. Yi Jianlian was impressive in defeat, scoring a game-high 30 points for China, which had no answer for Spain’s depth and quality backcourt duo of Juan Carlos Navarro (14 points) and Jose Calderon (12).

RUSSIA 95, GREAT BRITAIN 75:

The gracious hosts were no match for the Minnesota Timberwolves-bound duo of Andrei Kirilenko (35 points) and Alexey Shved (16 points and 13 assists, who sparked Russia’s dominating performance. Luol Deng scored the first basket of the game, the first for the British in the Olympics since 1948, and finished with 26 points. But he and Pops Mensah-Bonsu (22) couldn’t help the home team overcome Russia or an ugly 4-for-26 effort from beyond the 3-point line.

ARGENTINA 102, LITHUANIA 79:

Luis Scola scored 32 points, Manu Ginobili finished with 21, 10 rebounds and six assists and Carlos Delfino added 20 points for the 2004 gold medalists, who struggled in their exhibition run-up to this competition but celebrated Ginobili’s 35th birthday in style. Linas Kleiza scored 20 points to lead Lithuania, which defeated Argentina in the opener for both teams four years ago in Beijing.

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For a look at Tuesday’s schedule, click here!

Report: Bucks To Keep Ilyasova




The Milwaukee Bucks didn’t make the playoffs last season, but their offseason has already been a success. Sources confirmed a report on the basketball Web site HoopsHype Sunday afternoon that the club was close to a deal that would keep forward Ersan Ilyasova in Milwaukee on a five-year, $45 million deal.

Ilyasova was one of the top free agents on the market at power forward, a “stretch four” who finished tied for second in the league in three-point percentage last season (.455) with Warriors guard Stephen Curry. But he also averaged 8.8 rebounds to go with his 13 points per game, posting 20 double-doubles for the Bucks and finishing second to Orlando’s Ryan Anderson in voting for Most Improved Player.

The Nets had significant interest in signing Ilyasova, particularly if they were unable to make a trade for Magic center Dwight Howard. But one source said Sunday that Milwaukee had never been very concerned about Brooklyn, surmising that the Nets couldn’t create enough cap room to make an offer that Ilyasova would have to seriously consider. The Raptors also were reportedly interested, and Ilyasova had offers to play in Europe as well.

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A Dramatic Change From The Bucks





NEW YORK – In one of the most important games of the season, the New York Knicks and Milwaukee Bucks combined for 43 turnovers and 36 percent shooting. It was a gruesome display, and somewhat emblematic of this crazy and often ugly season. It was not, however, emblematic of the way the Bucks have played this year.

Really, these are not the win-ugly, lose-ugly Bucks that we’ve come to know and love over the last couple of years. Yes, Scott Skiles is still the coach. But this year, his team isn’t very good defensively. It’s getting by mostly with offense. Hard to believe, I know.

Bucks efficiency under Scott Skiles

Season W L Pace Rank OffRtg Rank DefRtg Rank NetRtg Rank
2008-09 34 48 95.2 11 103.8 23 104.9 15 -1.2 19
2009-10 46 36 94.0 21 102.0 23 100.9 3 +1.0 15
2010-11 35 47 92.1 25 99.0 30 99.9 4 -1.0 17
2011-12 22 27 95.8 6 101.7 17 103.0 20 -1.3 22

Pace = Possessions per 48 minutes
OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
DefRtg = Points allowed per 100 possessions
NetRtg = Point differential per 100 possessions

No team has increased its pace from last season more than the Bucks. No team has improved more offensively. And no team has regressed more defensively.

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Top Four Clinch Semifinal Spots At FIBA Americas

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS (NEW JERSEY BUREAU) – With two more days of pool play left, we already know the four teams that will be playing for two berths in next year’s Olympics. Thanks to wins on Tuesday, Argentina, Brazil, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico have all clinched spots in the semifinals of the FIBA Americas Championship 2011 in Mar del Plata, Argentina.

Those two games will take place on Saturday, with the two winners earning trips to the Olympics and the two losers being relegated to the Olympic qualifying tournament in early July. But we still don’t know who will be playing whom (the other three teams would surely like to avoid Argentina), and we still don’t know who will finish fifth and earn the final spot in that Olympic qualifying tournament.

Trending up: Venezuela (2-4)
Trending down: Dominican Republic (5-1)

Puerto Rico 79, Canada 74 (Boxscore)

Canada came oh so close to putting themselves in position to finish fifth, coming back from a 17-point deficit to tie the game with two minutes left. But they couldn’t get over the hump and now will surely need some help to qualify for meaningful basketball next summer. Canada needs to beat both Uruguay (Wednesday) and Panama (Thursday) and hope that Uruguay can beat Venezuela (Thursday).

Puerto Rico lost control of this game with both Carlos Arroyo and J.J. Barea on the bench early in the fourth quarter. But Arroyo saved them with two huge pull-up jumpers in the final two minutes.

  • Arroyo is clearly the better FIBA player of Puerto Rico’s two NBA guards. He finished with 26 points on 9-for-15 shooting on Tuesday. Barea did add five rebounds, six assists and four steals to his 11 points, but he simply hasn’t found a groove offensively.
  • Joel Anthony, nursing a bad ankle, did not start for Canada. So for the second straight game, Daniel Santiago provided a size advantage for Puerto Rico. But Santiago was lost late in the first quarter with his own injury. Santiago is out for the rest of the tournament with a plantar fasciitis tear in his right foot.
  • Anthony did play six minutes in the second quarter, but was not moving well and didn’t play at all in the second half.
  • Andy Rautins had his best game of the tournament, leading Canada with 18 points, nine of which came in the fourth quarter.
  • Puerto Rico is missing wings Larry Ayuso and A.D. Vassallo, but they may have found a suitable replacement in Alex Galindo, who has been their secondary scorer in each of the last two games. Against Venezuela and Canada, Galindo has totaled 31 points and hit six of his 10 attempts from 3-point range.

Dominican Republic 84, Uruguay 76 (Box Score)

The Dominican Republic had an up-and-down first round, but opened the second round with a strong win over Panama on Monday. A day later, they looked to be down again, or at least slow to recover from the gruesome injury Edgar Sosa suffered at the end of the Panama game.

Uruguay led this one by 11 midway through the second quarter, but the Dominican took a two-point lead into halftime thanks to Elpidio Fortuna‘s buzzer-beating three off a full-court baseball pass from Al Horford. The teams traded runs and it was still a one-possession game early in the fourth. But the Dominican got big shots from Luis Flores and Sosa’s replacement Ronald Ramon down the stretch to hold on for the victory.

  • Horford filled the box score with 23 points, 12 rebounds, five assists, two steals and a block.
  • Charlie Villanueva had his second straight solid game, scoring 11 points on 4-for-8 from the field.
  • Martin Osimani was the star for Uruguay, scoring 22 points on 9-for-19 shooting.
  • Uruguay is still alive for a chance to qualify for the Olympics. If they win their last two games against Canada and Venezuela, they’ll finish fifth and play in next summer’s 12-team Olympic qualifying tournament.

Argentina 111, Venezuela 93 (Box Score)

This was a matchup of the best offensive team in the tournament thus far (Venezuela) vs. the best defensive team (Argentina). The defensive team won, but as you can see from the score, it was very much an offensive game.

Venezuela hung tight and was down just five early in the fourth quarter, but Argentina relentlessly picked apart their zone and pulled away with their long-range shooting. The hosts were a ridiculous 18-for-28 from 3-point range for the game, and that included an 0-for-4 performance from Carlos Delfino.

Check out these numbers… Manu Ginobili: 6-for-8 from downtown. Pablo Prigioni: 6-for-7. Andres Nocioni: 4-for-5. And with Luis Scola doing his typical work (17 points on 7-for-11 from the field) inside, it didn’t matter how good the Venezuelan offense was.

Venezuela needs to take care of business against Panama on Wednesday and then they should be playing for fifth place against Uruguay on Thursday.

Brazil 90, Panama 65 (Box Score)

Brazil picked up its third straight easy victory, again allowing its stars to stay fresh. It gets tough from here on out though, as they’ll face Argentina on Wednesday, Puerto Rico on Thursday, and then play the semifinals on Saturday.

The Argentina game (5 p.m. ET) is a rematch of a terrific round-of-16 matchup at last year’s World Championship (arguably the best game of the tournament) and should certainly be entertaining. Of course, Brazil has fewer NBA players on their squad this year (no Leandro Barbosa or Anderson Varejao) and Argentina has more (Ginobili and Nocioni were not in Turkey last year).

Argentina Wins Battle Of Unbeatens

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS (NEW JERSEY BUREAU) – Day 4 of the FIBA Americas Championship 2011 in Mar del Plata, Argentina brought the two biggest matchups of the tournament thus far. Neither game disappointed, though a couple of guards (Marcelo Huertas and J.J. Barea) did.

Trending up: Dominican Republic (3-1)
Trending down: Brazil (2-1)

Canada 84, Cuba 62 (Boxscore)

Canada went back to shooting poorly (4-for-15) from 3-point range, but that didn’t matter, because Cuba was much worse (1-for-14). After the teams each scored a bucket in the first two minutes, Canada went on a 15-0 run and never looked back, earning their second straight win.

After hitting some big threes against the Dominican Republic just 17 hours earlier, Andy Rautins was 0-for-5 from beyond the arc, but he got to the line eight times in 21 minutes.

If Canada beats Venezuela on Saturday, they’d finish in a three-way tie for first with Brazil and the Dominican Republic. But thanks to the tie-breaker (see below), the best they can do is finish third in Group A (unless Cuba pulls off a miracle upset of Brazil).

Uruguay 77, Panama 61 (Boxscore)

Uruguay established itself as the third best team in Group B with a comfortable victory. The game was close until early in the third quarter, when Uruguay took control with a 19-6 run. Esteban Batista was the star of the game, finishing with 24 points (on 9-for-13 shooting) and 10 rebounds.

Dominican Republic 79, Brazil 74 (Boxscore)

After the way the Dominican Republic played against Canada just 24 hours earlier, this was maybe the most surprising result of the tournament. Brazil led by seven late in the third quarter, but a pair of Francisco Garcia threes highlighted an 11-2 Dominican run that gave them the lead heading into the fourth.

The fourth quarter was tight throughout, but the Dominican defense was at its best and never gave up the lead. Garcia sealed the game when he stripped Tiago Splitter in the post in the final minute.

  • This was easily Garcia’s best game of the tournament. He hit four of his five attempts from beyond the arc and finished with 14 points.
  • This was easily Marcelo Huertasworst game of the tournament. He shot 7-for-11 from the field, but was sloppy with his passing, committing 10 turnovers.
  • One of those turnovers was a clean strip by Dominican big man Jack Michael Martinez, who switched out on Huertas on the perimeter at the end of the second quarter. Martinez stole the ball and found Al Horford under the basket on the other end to give D.R. a four-point lead going into the half.
  • Brazil was an efficient 25-for-41 from inside the arc, but made just five of their 22 shots from 3-point range and just nine of their 16 free throws.
  • Despite the loss, Brazil is still in position to win Group A. If both Canada (2-1) and Brazil (2-1) win on Saturday and there’s a three-way tie with the Dominican Republic (3-1), the tiebreaker is determined by the ratio of points to opponents’ point in the head-to-head games between the three teams. Brazil’s ratio was 143/136 (1.05), the Dominican’s was 151/147 (1.03), and Canada’s was 130/141 (0.92).

Argentina 81, Puerto Rico 74 (Boxscore)

This was the game to determine first place in Group B, and it lived up to the billing. It was tight until early in the third quarter when Argentina was finally able to corral Carlos Arroyo and used a blistering 16-0 run to turn a five-point deficit into an 11-point lead.

Arroyo didn’t get nearly enough help from his teammates. Meanwhile, Argentina played like a cohesive unit, getting big contributions from Manu Ginobili (23 points), Luis Scola (16 points, seven boards and two blocks) and Carlos Delfino (14 points and three steals).

  • Arroyo had a pretty amazing minute of basketball late in the first half, when he was wholly responsible for a 7-0 run that gave Puerto Rico a 33-27 lead. It started with a pretty pick-and-roll feed to Daniel Santiago. Then, after Ginobili missed a shot, Arroyo hit Alex Galindo with a nifty touch pass on the break. And on the possession after that, he stepped into a three on another high pick-and-roll. Less than two minutes later, he hit Santiago with another pretty dish for a three-point play.
  • Arroyo is about 10 times more entertaining (and aggressive) when he plays for Puerto Rico than when he plays in the NBA.
  • J.J. Barea is far less so. For the second straight game, Barea struggled from the field, shooting 3-for-10 after a 1-for-8 game against Uruguay on Thursday. And when Argentina double-teamed Arroyo in the second half, Barea wasn’t able to pick up the slack.
  • Delfino was just 1-for-4 from 3-point range, but had two incredible and-ones under the basket in the third quarter.
  • After scoring 10 points in the first quarter in each of Argentina’s first two games, Scola had just 10 through the first three quarters on Friday. But he hit three straight shots midway through the fourth to help put the game away.
  • After sitting out the first two games, Fabricio Oberto got his first action of the tournament. He scored two points in 12 minutes.

Horford, Splitter Stand Out On Day 1

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS (NEW JERSEY BUREAU) – With the United States already holding a ticket to London next year and happy to sit out the event for the second straight time, the FIBA Americas Championship 2011 got underway in Mar del Plata, Argentina on Tuesday.

The top two finishers in the tournament will qualify for next year’s Olympics in London. The third, fourth and fifth-place finishers will qualify for the 12-team qualifying tournament next July. The top three finishers in that tournament will qualify for the Olympics.

Eight of the FIBA Americas’ 10 teams were in action on the first of five days of preliminary-round action. Here’s a rundown…

Dominican Republic 90, Cuba 60 (Box Score)

Of the three NBA players on the D.R. roster, Al Horford clearly stood out. After a slow start (two points on 1-for-5 shooting in the first 8:58), he dominated the action in the Dominican’s easy win.

Horford’s 24 points came mostly in the post, where the Cuban big men were completely overmatched. But he did have a handful of buckets on the move and on the break. The highlight was a fast-break alley-oop throw down off a toss from Edgar Sosa midway through the second quarter.

After that 1-for-5 start, Horford connected on 11 of his final 13 shots. He added nine boards to his 24 points.

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