Posts Tagged ‘Dahntay Jones’

Live Blog: All-Star Saturday Night

HOUSTON — State Farm All-Star Saturday night is minutes away from lift off. Nick Cannon and Rob Nice are hosting the in-arena festivities.

I don’t know what everyone else came to see, but for me, All-Star Saturday night is always about the finale. It’s a chance for someone to etch their name in All-Star lore with a mercurial performance in the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest, much like that fella wearing No. 23 above did back in 1987.

Some of the All-Stars made their own predictions, several of them, assuming that James “Flight” White will rise above the crowd and do the most damage on his way to the title.

But first up we have the Sears Shooting Stars competition. I’m going with Team [James] Harden and the hometown advantage (he’s rolling with Sam Cassell, a man anyone would want on their team requires you to make clutch shots. (Team Westbrook should be dangerous, though, with Robert Horry and Maya Moore rocking with Russell Westbrook.)

— 8:37 — Team Westbrook handled business with the fastest time at 29.5 seconds. Team Harden kicked it off with a 37.9 as the West finished their business.

— 8:44 — Dominique Wilkins still has the touch. Knocks down the 3-ball for Team Bosh. They needed 50 seconds to finish, though.

— 8:45 — What’s up with Brook Lopez shooting 3-pointers like free throws? 1:07 for Team Lopez.  The East is down 20-0 going into the championship.

— 8:47 — So much for prediction. Team Bosh and Team Westbrook squaring advance and ready to square off in the championship round.

— 8:52 — I root for Swin Cash in whatever she does. Too bad she’s stuck on a team with Bosh and ‘Nique instead of say, myself and John Schuhmann … 1:29 for them in the championship round. The pressure is on Team Westbrook.)

— 8:54 — Team Westbrook can’t get it done. Team Bosh gets the win and Nique gets the MVP for knocking down both of his team’s half court shots. As my man Randy Moss would say, Straight (Swin) Cash Homie!

— 8:56 — Team Bosh collects the first hardware of the night in the Sears Shooting Stars. Nique is feeling good. Says he wants in on the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest, too. (I’m kidding.)

— 8:58 — Gold medal winners from London, both men and women, getting some love on the big stage between events.


— 9:03 — Sounds like the dude from the Price is Right is reading off the rules for this event. I’m ignoring him and checking the shoe game of the contestants. Jeremy Lin kicks are wicked. Need to see an up-close shot.

— 9:05 — Hawks guard Jeff Teague clocks a 49.4, couldn’t get his passes or his 3-pointer from the top of the arc down. And he had the nerve to blow his final shot, going for the layup instead of the dunk. Later son.

— 9:06 — Pistons guard Brandon Knight learns from Teague’s mistakes and finishes with a dunk and a 32.2.

— 9:08 — Sixers guard Jrue Holiday rocks it with a 29.3. Made it look effortless. One of my favorite young players in the league. West has to beat 1:50.9 to topple the East in the contest.

— 9:12 — Jeremy Lin finishes in 35.8 but could have finished faster. He was stylin’ for the home crowd.

— 9:13 — Damian Lillard rips the course in the fastest time of the night so far, 28.8.

— 9:15 — Defending champ Tony Parker bows out with a 48.7. The East picks up 30 points thanks to Lin and Parker. Knight and Lillard move on to the championship round.

–9:17 — Alicia Keys gets some jumbotron love (she’s sitting next to Spike Lee). She looks marvelous, of course. We need to get her to do a theme song, “Hang Time is on fire!”

— 9:20 — Holiday with a 35.6, but Lillard snags a 29.8 for the win, 10 more points for the West and a trophy to go alongside that T-Mobile Rookie of the Year trophy he’s going to get in a few months. Well done young fella, the first rookie to win the event.

— 9:24 — East leads the west 40-30 after two events. They are playing for $500,000 in cash for charity.


— 9:32 — I had no idea this Phillip Phillips cat (or band, I’m not sure) sang this song. That’s my jam. I don’t watch American Idol, though, so I didn’t connect the dots. He smashed that performance.

— 9:35 — Steph Curry just warmed up from the corner rack and knocked down the first four without even looking at the basket. Ridiculous. Save some for the contest fella!

— 9:40 — Curry started slow but finished like … well, a Curry. He nets 17 points and Ryan Anderson is up next. He goes off from the start but struggles at the end, finishing with 18. Matt Bonner closes out the order for the West. His shooting stroke is awkward. But he finishes with 19 points, for a total teams score of 54.

— 9:46 — These Knicks kid reporters have stolen the show, clowning everyone and Nick Cannon on the big stage. You gotta love the kids.

— 9:52 — Kyrie Irving forgot to take his warm up shirt off and still finished with 18. And as you might expect, he knocked down his money ball on the last rack to beat the buzzer. Paul George is up next. Love this cat but he’s in the wrong contest. Maybe he meant to sign up for the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest? Steve Novak has to make up for PG’s 10. Novak finishes with 17 and the West wins the 40 points. Bonner and Irving for the title. Who picked those two for the final round? I had Curry and Novak. I’m done with the prediction business tonight.

— 10:02 — Kyrie just put on a show. Knocked down eight of his first nine and 17 of his first 18 shots before finishing with 23, two shy of the record. He even got LeBron James up out of his seat during his wicked stretch. Kid is on his championship grind. Bonner goes for 20. The Cavaliers might still be a lottery team but at least they’ve got Kyrie!


— 10:07 — Fall Out Boy is on stage and they must be from Chicago because they are wearing their Jordan throwbacks. Rock stars love skinny jeans and tattoos more than NBA youngsters. Now they’ve got 2 Chainz up here with them and he’s singing the hook after doing his rap verse. The Sprite Slam Dunk Contest participants come out while they remain on stage.

— 10:16 — Rudy Tomjanovich, Dikembe Mutombo, Yao Ming, Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler are the judges tonight. Houston’s hoops Mt. Rushmore?

— 10:20 — Houston’s own Gerald Green kicks off the contest with a perfect 50 on his first dunk, a reverse tomahawk dunk where he had to duck his head or risk a concussion after he bumped his head on the rim. Crazy!!!!!!!!!!!!!

— 10:22 — James “Flight” White with the 45 on the two-handed runaway dunk from a step inside the free throw line. He missed his first attempt. Had he made it, the 50 would have been a lock.

— 10:24 — Terrence Ross gets an A for persistence, finally making a behind-the-back 180 after five misses. That was generous for a dude who missed that many dunks.

— 10:26 — Kenneth Faried nets a 39 for a 360 off-the-backboard dunk that looked way better on the replay than it did in real time.

— 10:28 — Eric Bledsoe missed his more aggressive between-the-legs dunk four times before opting for something a little easier to complete. He matched Faried’s 39.

— 10:29 — Jeremy Evans bags a 47 with an assist from Mark Eaton, he jumped over the big man’s head while the former Jazz center was sitting and holding a ball.

— 10:31 — Kevin Hart and Cannon are doing their stand up routine while clowning the All-Star’s baby pictures. I’m going home and burning every baby picture in the house!

Round 2

— 10:35 — Flight White’s inability to dribble the ball up the floor is going to cost him the title. He’s got all the hops in the world. But he has to go back to the lab and work on the handles. He botched his second dunk attempt and during the allotted 90 seconds and ended up missing his one untimed attempt. That 32 should end his night.

— 10:40 — Green just cut the nets out and is attempting to dunk it twice. Loving the idea. But this is a tough one, even for the cupcake dunker. And now we have to wait for someone to find the replacement nets for this rim. He timed out as well and then missed his untimed attempt for a matching 32. Somebody get Nique some shoes.

— 10:45 — Ross only needs a 33 to represent the East. Just do something normal and you are in. Hang time … he’s got a 49 and moves into the final. There is going to be some serious complaining about this format.

— 10:47 — Faried with a 50 for his between the legs jam after just two steps. Is it me or do the 50s get tossed around rather liberally these days.

— 10:48 — Bledsoe with a 50 of his own for the sick reverse windmill off the bounce.

— 10:49 — Evans dunks two balls but with no authority whatsoever, collects his 43 and advances from the West. There won’t be a whole lot of debating about what went on here.

— 10:53 — Judging by the looks on the faces of former dunk champions sitting around the floor, they’re not impressed with what they have seen tonight. Power used to be a dunk contest staple. Now the apparent degree of difficulty has trumped raw power. I’m trying to be diplomatic tonight. I’m going to need some time to digest what we’ve seen tonight before I start shredding these performances.


— 10:56 — Evans goes over a the cloaked painting of himself jumping over a cloaked painting of himself dunking and then he signs it. Nice touch but I’d have been more impressed if he snatched the cloak off the painting on his way up.

— 10:58 — Ross throws down a grimy leaning reverse jam that Rockets forward Terrence Jones bounced off the side of the backboard. Arguably the second best dunk of the night behind Green’s first attempt in Round 1.

— 11:01 — Evans has outlandish hops. Jumping over Dahntay Jones and doing his own version of the Jumpman pose showed off just how ridiculous his vertical is folks. RIDICULOUS!

— 11:03 — Ross trumps him with a between-the-legs, jump over the ball boy dunk that should seal the crown for the Raptors rookie.

— 11:06 — Ross takes the title. He made up for his rough start to the competition by bring out his best when it matter most. The West won the night, though, finishing with 140 points to the East’s 125.

Let the debate rage on about the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest, though. Because no one leaves the Toyota Center tonight feeling like we saw the absolute best of the best ply their trade in this contest. Someone out there, someone hungry and creative, needs to step up. MJ and Nique aren’t walking through that door!

Mavs Owner: ‘Bank Of Cuban Is Open’

DALLAS — Talk about your public offerings. Mavericks owner Mark Cuban didn’t need Facebook to inform the rest of the NBA that everybody not named Dirk Nowitzki on his makeshift roster is officially on the trading block.

“We’re letting everybody know that the Bank of Cuban is open,” the billionaire owner announced Monday night before his Mavericks beat the Minnesota Timberwolves for a third consecutive victory to climb to 16-23. “If it’s the right deal, we don’t mind taking back money. But we’re not going to do a trade just to do a trade. It’s got to be worthwhile.”

Cuban’s declaration came two nights after he said there is a “100 percent chance” that the Mavs will aggressively pursue trades — either as a main trade partner or as a facilitator in a multi-team scenario — as the weeks and days count down to the Feb. 21 trade deadline.

It’s perhaps the Mavs’ best chance to upgrade a unit that last week dropped to 10 games under .500 for the first time since Cuban bought the team in 2000. The Mavs, five games out of the eighth spot in the West, are in jeopardy of not making the playoffs for the first time in 13 seasons.

So don’t discount Cuban’s comments as a crafty PR move. Cuban needs to keep a fan base that has provided a league-best 449 consecutive sellouts going back to 2001 engaged in a team that has had massive turnover the last two seasons and has underperformed since claiming the championship. Consider it also a warning shot to the current players. Since Cuban’s initial comments on Saturday, the Mavs have blown out the Grizzlies and Timberwolves.

Dallas is in position to take on salary because of Cuban’s controversial financial maneuverings following the 2011 championship when he dismantled the title team. Under the more rigid guidelines and more punitive tax of the new collective bargaining agreement that begins to truly bear its fangs next season, Cuban altered his spend-at-all-costs philosophy. Instead, he went for scaling back salary to create cap space, allowing for the pursuit of high-dollar free agents (a move that bombed this summer when Deron Williams re-signed with Brooklyn) as well as the flexibility to make a blockbuster trade (including, and perhaps most importantly, sign-and-trades in the summer that will be off limits to teams above the luxury-tax apron — the point is $4 million above the tax level, which is $70.3 million this season).

Cuban’s belief is that good players with big contracts will become available as teams seek ways to get under the luxury tax for this season and beyond. An example is Rudy Gay, who is reportedly being shopped by the Memphis Grizzlies. Front offices are also keenly aware of the repeater tax that will be levied on teams that chronically spend over the luxury-tax line.

Cuban said he’s been busy poring over rosters, watching players and making suggestions daily to president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson.

Dallas has few assets on the roster capable of netting a major acquisition in a two-team swap. The big question is if Cuban can swing a deal that not only improves his team this season, but also makes long-term cap sense. His club is loaded with players on expiring contracts such as O.J. Mayo, a 25-year-old shooting guard that Dallas wants to pan out for its long-range plans. Guards Darren Collison, Dahntay Jones and Roddy Beaubois, center Chris Kaman and forwards Elton Brand and Brandan Wright are also on one-year contracts.

Veterans Vince Carter (owed $6.3 million through 2013-14) and Shawn Marion (owed $17.5 million through 2013-14) could be of interest to a contender.

Going nowhere, the owner has made clear, is Nowitzki. And that’s not because the sweet-shooting 7-footer is believed to be the only player in the league other than Kobe Bryant with a no-trade clause in his contract.

Cuban said flatly that he won’t trade the 15-year face of the franchise.

Nowitzki, whose four-year, $80 million contract expires after the 2013-14 season when he will turn 36, has been consistent in saying he wants to remain with Dallas until he decides to retire. He did recently express skepticism toward Cuban’s plan and went so far as to wonder if it would be in Dallas’ best interest to trade him if it fails to land a star player to build around before next season.

Stay tuned. Plenty of intrigue to come as the Bank of Cuban is officially open for business.

Fisher Makes Instant Impact On Mavs

DALLAS — Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle spoke with such reverence about his starting point guard that he must have momentarily forgotten that Jason Kidd plays for the New York Knicks.

“Look at the plus-minus, look at the wins. It all factors in somehow,” Carlisle said. “There are some guys in this league whose contributions are impossible to quantify with statistics. A guy with five or six rings and physical toughness and timely shot-making history, all that stuff helps you, helps you. It doesn’t just help your point guard position, it helps the whole program.”

OK, so the “five or six rings” gave it away. The 38-year-old Derek Fisher won’t surpass the 39-year-old Kidd in many categories once these two enduring geezers finally hang it up, but Fisher does own five championship rings playing alongside Kobe Bryant to Kidd’s one with Carlisle two seasons ago.

While Kidd has pushed the Knicks to the top of the Eastern Conference, Fisher was at home waiting for a phone call, and he finally got it from a reeling Mavs team with a roster full of new faces, no Dirk Nowitzki (who hopes to begin practicing in a week or so) and desperate for leadership at the point.

Fisher arrived two weeks ago and immediately took over the starting job from Darren Collison. The young guard wasn’t happy about the demotion, but who can argue with the results?

Monday’s night’s 119-96 rout of the Sacramento Kings was Dallas’ third consecutive victory and fourth in five games, its best stretch since Collison was so impressive in opening the season 4-1.

Fisher’s stats have not been mind-blowing. He’s averaged 7.4 points on 37 percent shooting, and 3.6 assists in 25.2 minutes a game. But, he’s provided the rudder they lacked, delivering stability and calm to the position, and perhaps even a bit of a fire under the fourth-year Collison, who’s with his third team.

Benched after the Mavs’ 7-7 start, which then slipped to 7-9 before Fisher arrived on the scene, Collison has been red-hot during the win streak, averaging 14.3 points on 54.2 percent shooting (13-for-24) and 3.0 assists.  And he’s played 30, 32 and 27 minutes in the last three games, more than Fisher in each.

So what has Carlisle discovered about his team over the last five games?

“We found some toughness, we found some grit,” he said. “We found Derek Fisher.”

And maybe some of that new-found toughness explains the play Carlisle was most appreciative of in Collison’s 7-for-9 shooting performance (15 points) against the Kings — a rare charge drawn on Marcus Thornton in the fourth quarter.

Carlisle has pleaded with his team to stand their ground on the defensive end, but with only limited results.

“Coming into [Monday], we had 13 charges in 20 games,” Carlisle said. “We had two tonight. We talked about it in the morning that we’ve got to be stepping up and we cannot continue to allow people to walk to the basket on us like they did in the first half of the Houston game. Dahntay [Jones] had one in the first half and Collison had one in the second half.

“[Vince Carter] and Dahntay Jones have the most [charges]. And now Collison is in third place because he has two.”

It’s one more than Collison had before, and each step he takes has to be considered progress.

Raptors’ Calderon Finds Opportunity As Stars Align (Off The Floor)

HANG TIME SOUTHWEST — Tonight in Dallas, where the Mavericks will face the Toronto Raptors, the list of players that won’t be in uniform is actually more impressive than the best of the rest.

Let’s start with the Raptors one night after getting run off the floor at Oklahoma City. Point guard Kyle Lowry is listed as doubtful, according to Doug Smith of the Toronto Star. Lowry has been tremendous for the Raptors so far, averaging a team-high 18.3 points on sizzling 54.5 percent shooting from the floor and 44.4 percent from beyond the arc. Lowry, averaging 6.3 assists and 3.0 steals, sprained his right ankle Tuesday and needed to be helped off the floor.

The injury opens the door for trade candidate Jose Calderon, the team’s longtime starter only to be replaced by Lowry this season, to get back into the starting lineup and increase his stock. Calderon, averaging 8.0 points and 2.3 assists in 20.3 minutes a game off the bench, wasn’t happy about losing his starting job. Toronto and Calderon, who has averaged 9.8 points and 7.1 assists in his career, were reportedly working together to make a trade happen over the summer, but one never materialized.’s Marc Stein reported in July that the Mavs had interest in trading for the Spaniard, who has spent his entire seven-year career in Toronto, but Dallas was waiting to make other moves with its salary cap space. The Raptors had no interest in releasing Calderon through the amnesty waiver clause.

The severity of Lowry’s sprained ankle or how long he might be out is uncertain. Short-term or long-term, Calderon suddenly finds an opportunity in front of him.

As for the Mavs, Dirk Nowitzki (right knee surgery) remains out likely for another couple of weeks. Small forward and leading rebounder Shawn Marion (sprained right MCL) will be scratched at least the next three games and power forward Elton Brand, Dallas’ second-leading rebounder flew to New York to be with his wife for the birth of their child.

Dallas is hopeful backup point guard Rodrigue Beaubois will play after he missed the last two games with a twisted ankle. He is a game-time decision.

The absences up front leave the already rebounding-deficient Mavs (28th in the league in rebounding differential at -8.3 and dead last in offensive rebounds allowed) with a rotation that will potentially include Chris Kaman starting at center, Brandan Wright at power forward and rookie Jae Crowder at small forward. Reserves include wings Vince Carter, Dahntay Jones, recently acquired power forward Troy Murphy and rookie center Bernard James.

Brand, Mavs agree to one-year deal

The Dallas Mavericks were the winners for the services of Elton Brand Friday, claiming the 33-year-old forward off of amnesty waivers for $2.1 million. Getting Brand continues a strong comeback for the Mavericks after losing out on Deron Williams and Steve Nash at the start of the free agency negotiating period.

Brand wanted to go to Dallas, a source told Wednesday. And he got his wish, giving the Mavericks a big who has never scored less than double figures or averaged fewer than 6.1 rebounds per year in his 13-year NBA career. He will back up Dirk Nowitzki and Chris Kaman at the center and power forward spots, but Brand is most interested in showing that he can still be a major contributor to a good team.

Last season, Brand averaged 11 points and 7.2 rebounds for Philadelphia in the regular season. Those numbers went down in the playoffs, but Brand was dealing with a neck injury that limited his range and effectiveness.

In Dallas, he’ll re-team with former Clippers teammate Chris Kaman, whom the Mavericks signed to a one-year deal Wednesday. The Mavericks also traded for guard Darren Collison and swingman Dahntay Jones in a deal with the Pacers for backup center Ian Mahinmi.


Mavs Make Serious Strides To Retool

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY — Less than 24 hours ago, things weren’t looking too good for the Dallas Mavericks. In fact, they barely had a starting lineup.

But now, after a few transactions on Wednesday night, the Mavs are beginning to look like a team again. At center, Brendan Haywood (reportedly waived via the amnesty clause) has been upgraded to Chris Kaman (who says he has a one-year deal). And they acquired a starting point guard (Darren Collison) and a wing defender (Dahntay Jones) on reasonable contracts by working out a sign-and-trade deal with Indiana for Ian Mahinmi.

So now, you have a depth chart that looks something like this…
PG: Collison, Roddy Beaubois
SG: Vince Carter, Dahntay Jones, Jared Cunningham, Dominique Jones
SF: Shawn Marion, Jae Crowder
PF: Nowitzki, Brandan Wright
C: Kaman, Bernard James (more…)

‘Lance Who?’ apologizes for LBJ slight

INDIANAPOLIS – At times in this series, Lance Stephenson donned a red jersey during Indiana Pacers’ practices to help his team prepare for the threats posed by LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. Whichever one figured to be the primary attacker, that was the one Stephenson – an athletic, 21-year-old deep reserve on the Indiana bench – simulated as an aid to his team’s defense.

Simulate. Not motivate. That’s the concern now for the Pacers, heading into Game 4 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series against Miami on Sunday wondering how James will respond to a mistake by Stephenson that was more red-faced than red jersey.

Late in the third quarter of Game 3, James shot a free throw after a technical foul on Pacers forward Danny Granger. He missed it, on the heels of two critical misses from the line late in Game 2, to hoots from the fans at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. That’s when Stephenson erred – he put his hands to his throat in the sports’ universal “choke” sign. And the TV cameras caught it.

That meant it was preserved for posterity and replayed countless times nationally on ESPN SportsCenter and elsewhere. It was a silly bit of exuberance by a young player making most of his contributions as eyes, ears and clapping hands from the Pacers bench – his stint of barely a minute at garbage time Thursday was his only appearance in the series so far and he has played six minutes in two rounds.

But it also was the sort of needless needling Indiana doesn’t want, lest it rankle and inspire James or his teammates. Granted, he and the Heat shouldn’t need a goosing from a Pacers scrub to be driven to even and win the series. But if Lance Whoever gives Miami some video bulletin-board material that does make a difference somehow, he will have stirred up a problem for his side.


Bird Blames Players, Not Coach

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — You don’t see this very often, a professional sports executive banging on the players (not the coach) for a team’s struggles.

Usually, the coach is the first one to face the firing squad when things go awry. Not in Indiana. Not on Larry Bird‘s watch.

The Pacers’ boss has been giving conventional wisdom the stiff arm since his Indiana State days. So no one should be surprised to hear what he has to say now about his team’s 3-9 slide in their past 12 games. He’s not pointing fingers at interim coach Frank Vogel.

More from my main man Mike Wells of the Indianapolis Star:

“We started off pretty strong with Frank, then they hit a lull. They had some problems internally and it took the wind out of them. That has nothing to do with Frank, that’s on the players. The last 10-12 games, the guys haven’t reacted the way you do as professionals,” said Bird, who was on hand to witness the lackluster 26-point loss at Minnesota on Wednesday.

Team chemistry has been a concern all season due to the abundance of younger players and the absence of a leader.

The Pacers jumped to a 7-1 start under Vogel, capitalizing on a soft portion of the schedule.

Bird said strong starts are not uncommon when a coach is fired during the season.

Things came to a head, however, during and after last weekend’s loss at Houston.


Is There Anyone Else?

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — We don’t have Carmelo Anthony, the Denver Nuggets or New York Knicks to kick around anymore.

They did their deal. They completed the trade that’s been rumored for so long, leaving us with two days before Thursday’s trade deadline to examine the rest of the landscape and see if there is anyone else out there willing to take the plunge.

Will there be anyone else out there interested in making a deal that is a franchise-changer?

We put the question the question to Kevin McHale of TNT and NBA TV fame — who was also the Timberwolves former GM. “This could definitely force some other teams into doing something,” McHale. “There is usually a snowball effect with these sorts of things.”

The Nuggets have several players whose futures could shift between now and Thursday’s trade deadline. Al Harrington was rumored throughout the past few months as being a factor in a potential ‘Melo deal. J.R. Smith is likely playing out his final days in a Nuggets uniform. And Nene has to be dealt with as well, since his current deal expires after this season.

There are other veterans out there who have been rumored to be on the trading block — Steve Nash, Stephen Jackson, Jamal Crawford, etc. — who could see their names circulate heavily in the next 48 hours.