Posts Tagged ‘Jose Barea’

Merry Christmas (5 Times) From The NBA

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Six months seems like a long time to wait for a loved one to return. But when we saw the Christmas Day lineup of NBA games that the schedule making powers-that-be whipped up for us, it melted any lingering animosity we might have had about the 149-day lockout.

By the time you are finished opening gifts, sipping a little coffee and smacking on that cinnamon roll on Christmas morning, you’ll be able to dive into another pile of gifts from the NBA. The blockbuster, five-game lineup (the rest of the schedule comes next week) includes some of the league’s top teams and top stars on a day-long showcase that starts with a special Christmas morning episode of GameTime on NBA TV, followed by an episode of Inside The NBA on TNT that leads into the action.

Boston Celtics at New York Knicks, Noon ET, TNT

Keep An Eye On: Might this wind up being a battle between the Celtics’ Big 3+1 against the Knicks’ Gotham City remix of the Big 3, including the much-discussed Chris Paul joining Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire?

It’s hard to say which way that will go right now, what with somewhat conflicting reports that Paul’s agent is seeking a trade from New Orleans to New York and then Paul saying he has asked for nothing of the sort.  That said, the Celtics have some intrigue going on, too. Rajon Rondo‘s name has been all over the trade rumor mill, despite blanket denials from Celtics’ boss Danny Ainge that he loves his franchise point guard and has no interest in moving him.

Either way, we’re tuning in for this continuation of the playoff matchup that the Celtics won going away last season. And with all of the principles, whoever they might be, well rested and eager to kick off the season the right way, there’s no way this game is anything other than a colossal battle of wills. It’s the perfect way to kick off the big day.

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Miami Heat at Dallas Mavericks, 2:30 p.m. ET, ABC 

Keep An Eye On: One can only imagine what sort of splendid banner raising/ring/whatever-else-it-might-be ceremony Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has planned for opening day in Dallas. Having the same Heat team they vanquished in The Finals on the other side of the floor for the festivities is a brilliant move by the schedule makers, who guaranteed that this rivalry gets an immediate dose of energy by pitting these two contenders against each other from the start.

There was plenty of hostility between the two sides by the time The Finals ended. It’s been a long offseason, but surely Dirk Nowitzki hasn’t forgotten about how LeBron James and Dwyane Wade clowned him about being sick during the series. And James must remember all of the heat he took for his struggles throughout the fourth quarters in The Finals.  And you know Mavericks sharpshooter Jason Terry can’t wait to get another crack at the Heat.

We do have to wait a while to see who else is suiting up alongside those stars we already mentioned, including a reportedly bigger and bulkier Chris Bosh. Tyson Chandler is a free agent and has expressed some doubts that he will return to his post anchoring the Mavericks’ defense. Playoff hero Jose Barea is also on the free agent hit list for a number of teams and could end up elsewhere.

Rest assured, whoever suits up will understand the intensity expected when that ball goes in the air. We can’t wait.

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Chicago Bulls at Los Angeles Lakers, 5 p.m. ET, ABC

Keep An Eye On: In this era of superstars collaborating to win titles, it will be refreshing to watch the two guys who refuse to recruit their peers to come play with them square off at Staples Center. Kobe Bryant‘s Lakers, still smarting from being smashed by the Mavericks in the playoffs last season, will show us what they’ll look like in the Mike Brown era. Meanwhile, Derrick Rose still seems a bit salty with himself for his playoff performance against the Heat, struggles that no doubt influenced and inspired his offseason workouts.

Speaking of Brown, there isn’t another coach in any sport at any level under more scrutiny than the man who has to replace Phil Jackson on the Lakers’ bench. Brown’s task will be toughened by the fact that the Lakers have to figure out how to reinvent themselves without the security of the triangle offense they used to fuel their rise. Brown will have his hands full with Metta World Peace (the former Ron Artest) while also trying to rebuild Pau Gasol‘s confidence after his playoff struggles last season.

(Remember, the Lakers will play the first five games of this season without Andrew Bynum, who will serve his suspension for that elbow shot to the ribs of Barea during the playoffs last year.)

The Bulls offer their own set of intriguing subplots, having to show that Tom Thibodeau‘s first season (in which he was named Coach of the Year) was no fluke. The Bulls had plenty of skeptics last season as they went about the business of recording the best record in the league. They won’t have that luxury this season. Playing with a target on their chests every night will test their mettle.

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Orlando Magic at Oklahoma City Thunder, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN

Keep An Eye On: On paper the Magic and Thunder would appear to be teams headed in opposite directions. Kevin Durant spent his summer cementing his position as, arguably, basketball’s most beloved young star and the leader of a Thunder team that ground its way to the Western Conference finals last season. The Magic, on the other hand, were bounced from the conference semifinals by the Hawks, sparking more rumors that Dwight Howard is ready to bolt.

Howard joins both Chris Paul and Deron Williams as the players most coveted by others, the ones most likely to join a superfriends group resembling what we’ve seen in Boston and Miami in recent seasons. The Knicks and Nets battled for Carmelo Anthony last season and could do the same again for the attention of Howard, who has given no indication as to what he plans to do beyond starting training camp with the Magic.

Strangely, the one story we figured to be most prominent regarding the Thunder seemed to fade during the lockout. All-Star and All-NBA point guard Russell Westbrook was under heavy fire from outsiders for his roller coaster performance during the playoffs, sparking debates about whether the Thunder should seek to replace him with someone else. It was a suggestion that sounds as preposterous to us now as it did during the Western Conference finals. We’re expecting big things from Westbrook this season. Opening night is as good a time as any to get started.

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Los Angeles Clippers at Golden State Warriors, 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

Keep An Eye On: Like so many of our nights last season, Christmas will end with a heavy dose of Blake Griffin doing what he does best, making monster highlights. Unfortunately, new Warriors coach Mark Jackson will be on the wrong side of some of those calls he used to make as an ESPN analyst. Because we’re pretty sure Griffin will do a few things to make someone say, “Mama there goes that man” on Christmas night.

The Clippers sit atop the preseason HT rankings for the surprise team in the league this year. With Griffin and Eric Gordon coming into their own last season and the franchise finally showing some true signs of progress on the floor, much is expected of Vinny Del Negro‘s crew this season. How the Clippers handle these heightened expectations makes for must-see-viewing.

We’re also intrigued to see what Jackson will do as a coach. After hearing him analyze for so long, it’s going to be interesting to see what he brings on the bench. Will he make Monta Ellis and Steph Curry even more dangerous as a backcourt duo? Warriors fans have to be banking on it, as that is their only hope to climb up the food chain in the Western Conference. A lot is riding on the Jackson-Ellis-Curry dynamic to help reignite the franchise in Oakland. This will be our first taste.

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Brazil, Argentina Locked For London

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Brazil and Argentina can scrap it out for gold at the FIBA Americas Championships Sunday, but their tickets to the 2012 London Olympics are already booked, courtesy of their wins in the semifinals Saturday in Mar del Plata, Argentina.

As prestigious as it will be for whichever team claims the top spot Sunday, the main objective for the two teams that made it to the championship game was to do exactly that, lock down one of those two golden tickets to London. (As my main man NBA.com’s John Schuhmann pointed out before Saturday’s games.)

We’re pretty sure Argentina’s superstar guard Manu Ginobili said it best when he uttered these words, “mission accomplished,” after the deed was done with a gritty 81-79 win over Puerto Rico in their semifinal win. Brazil beat the Dominican Republic 83-76 to earn their spot.

*** Click here for the video highlights ***

Argentina needed big scoring games from Luis Scola (27 points) and Ginobili (23) to squeeze past Jose Barea (20 points), Daniel Santiago (16 points) and crew.

Puerto Rico led by four (44-40) at halftime. It took two free throws from Ginobili in the final minutes to break a late-game tie and then Pablo Prigioni sank one with six seconds left. Barea missed a 3-pointer with a second to play. Ginobili called it one of the “toughest games” of his life.

“Today it was all or nothing,” said Argentina coach Julio Lamas. “I feel very emotional about qualifying.”

It was a similarly emotional situation for Brazil, whose 8-1 ride through this tournament so far includes a win over the hosts Wednesday.

“We realized a dream,” said Marcelo Machado, who led Brazil with 20 points in the win over the Dominican Republic. “We have worked hard for this, and this is a prize for effort and talent.”

Brazil had to sweat out their win as well, as Al Horford and Jack Martinez (18 points each) helped keep things close from start to finish.

The Olympic dream lives on for the third through fifth-place teams in this competition. Venezuela has claimed the fifth-place spot. They have all earned spots in the 12-team Olympic qualifying tournament next July, where four qualifiers from the EuroBasket tournament, among others, will await them.

But all of that comes later, much later actually.

There is a championship to be won Sunday.

The (FIBA) Games Must Go On

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Mike Fratello has spent decades making himself comfortable on the basketball court wherever he’s been. But Fratello has always felt especially at ease in the baby blue and gold he wore at Hackensack High back in his native New Jersey.

Those North Jersey roots were on Fratello’s mind as he prepared his latest team for EuroBasket 2011, where Ukraine’s national team will sport the same colors this week as they attempt to chase one of the top spots in the tournament and the spoils that come along with being one of the best teams in European basketball.

“I do feel very comfortable putting the old blue and gold on,” Fratello said with a chuckle. “Plus, this competition is as big as it gets right now in the game of basketball, given the circumstances with the lockout and everything else that’s going on right now in the NBA.”

You’ve read about it all summer, this wave of NBA talent that will hit foreign soil to play ball if the regular season is delayed because of the lockout.

You won’t have to wait around to see NBA talent in action now. With EuroBasket in Lithuania Aug. 31 through Sept. 18 and the FIBA Americas being played in Argentina Aug. 30 through Sept. 11, there will be plenty of familiar faces on display, including reigning Finals MVP Dirk Nowitzki and Clippers center Chris Kaman leading the German team in EuroBasket. Brothers Pau Gasol of the Lakers and Marc Gasol of the Hang Time Grizzlies headline the Spanish team.

Spurs star Manu Ginobili and Rockets star Luis Scola are the biggest names for the host team in Argentina. Mavericks point guard Jose Barea and Celtics point guard Carlos Arroyo will run the show for Puerto Rico while Hawks All-Star center Al Horford will team up with Kings swingman Francisco Garcia and Pistons forward Charlie Villanueva for the Dominican Republic.

Our nearly two month hiatus from basketball as we know it comes to a momentary end this week with the game itself back on the global stage with national teams on both sides of the globe vying for those coveted early invites to the London Olympics. Every game can be seen on ESPN3.com.

Automatic bids to the Olympics are at stake for the top two teams in each competition. Four more teams — the third through sixth place finishers from EuroBasket — will also earn bids to the Pre-Olympic Qualifying tournament next July. Three more teams — the third through fifth place finishers from FIBA Americas — will earn bids to the Pre-Olympic Qualifying tournament next July.

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Bynum Apologizes, Clears Air On Barea

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. – Lakers center Andrew Bynum needed a couple of days to sit back and reflect on the way he finished his season before addressing the topics that the basketball world wanted to know about. But he knew immediately after watching what his forearm shiver did to Mavericks guard Jose Barea in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s Game 4 loss in Dallas that he had to step up and do the right thing.

“Before I take any questions I want to make a statement about a couple of things,” he said Tuesday morning in a cramped interview room off of the Lakers’ practice court. “I want to apologize for my actions at the start of the fourth quarter of Game 4 against Dallas. They don’t doesn’t represent me, my upbringing, this franchise or any of the Lakers’ fans out there that want to watch us and want us to succeed. More importantly, I want to apologize to J.J. Barea for doing that. I’m just glad that he wasn’t seriously injured in the event. All I can say, now that I have looked at it, and it was terrible, is it definitely won’t be happening again.”

Bynum was immediately ejected from the game. But he stripped his jersey off on his way off the floor. It was one of the most shocking moments in a shocking series that saw the two-time defending Lakers come apart as their three-year reign atop the Western Conference ended in a sweep and a 36-point beating in Game 4.

He’s been roasted here in Southern California by fans, the talking heads on sports radio and most vehemently by former Lakers greats like Magic Johnson and James Worthy, who have not held back in their disdain for his actions. Bynum offered up little defense of himself in the wake of the controversy he started with that blow to Barea’s rib cage while the 5-foot-10 point guard was in mid-air.

“After I saw it,” Bynum said again, “it was definitely embarrassing.”

The NBA agreed, suspending him for five games at the start of the next season on Tuesday and fining him another $25,00o the jersey stunt.

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Mavs Shooting Stars Go Off On Lakers

DALLAS – For all the 3-point shooting records the Dallas Mavericks challenged and tied here Sunday, it was the record their bench brigade set that stands out the most.

Jason Terry (32), Jose Barea (22) and Peja Stojakovic became the first set of teammates to score 20 or more points off the bench in a playoff game.

They led a bench surge in the Mavericks’ Game 4 win over the Los Angeles Lakers that equaled the 86 points the Lakers scored. They made all but four of the record-tying 20 shots from beyond the 3-point line the Mavericks sank in the game. Terry tied an NBA postseason record with nine makes (in 10 attempts) from deep and was 6-for-7 before halftime, while Stojakovic was a perfect 6-for-6 from long-range.

“We had a lot of guys play great,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. “Jet’s shotmaking was breathtaking, really. The 3-point shot is a big part of the game right now; it’s been a big part of the success that we’ve been able to have.”

It was a dazzling display, to say the least. Even more dazzling when you consider that the Mavericks shot the cover off of the ball for all four games of this stunning sweep of the two-time defending champion Lakers. They finished the series 49-for-106 from deep and set the NBA record for the most 3-pointers made in a four-game series, surpassing the 45 Orlando made against Charlotte in the first round last season.

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Artest, Lakers Ready To Move On

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. – The Lakers will face the Mavericks in Game 3 of their Western Conference semifinal without Ron Artest. He was suspended by the league for one game Thursday for his flagrant foul on Jose Barea with 24.4 seconds to play in the Lakers’ Game 2 loss Wednesday night.

The Lakers weren’t surprised by the penalty. They knew after the game that Artest would face some sort of discipline for the frustration foul that came with the game already decided. It’s yet another blow for the Lakers, who are stuck in a 2-0 hole in this best-of-seven series as it shifts to Dallas for Games 3 (Friday) and 4 (Sunday).

“Ron started 82 games for us in the regular season and all the playoff games, so it definitely will affect us,” Lakers coach Phil Jackson said.

“We have to be careful what we do on the court and the decisions that we make,” Lamar Odom said. “And [yes], his presence will be missed.”

Artest spoke briefly after the Lakers’ practice here Thursday but talked only of “moving forward” — words he repeated as many as eight times during two and half minute question and answer session with the assembled media.

“[I have] No reaction [to the suspension],” he said. “Just ready to move forward and play basketball. Just want to move on. Got a big game tomorrow …  I don’t know what’s more important than Game 3?”

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Mavs Dominating Bench Battle

LOS ANGELES – Lakers sixth man Lamar Odom is doing everything you’d expect of the NBA’s Sixth Man Award winner. But he is, after all, just one man.

And right now he’s fighting a battle against a Mavericks’ bench crew that is deeper and more dynamic than what the Lakers can handle. It’s also a crew that has been much more productive than anyone might have imagined they’d be through the first two games of this Western Conference semifinal series.

Mavericks’ reserves Jason Terry, Jose Barea, Peja Stojakovic, Corey Brewer and Brendan Haywood have totally outplayed the Lakers’ reserves, led by Odom and including Shannon Brown, Matt Barnes and Steve Blake. The Mavs have outscored them 70-37 so far, with Odom accounting for 21 of those 37 points.

The production disparity between the two groups was a backbreaking 30-12 in Game 2, with the Mavericks using Barea to dismantle the Lakers’ defense down the stretch with pick-and-roll sets and breakdowns on dribble penetration.

“I had good practice from that Portland series when I was going in there with [Marcus] Camby and [LaMarcus] Aldridge and [Chris Johnson],” said Barea, who is averaging 10.o points and shooting 46.7 percent from the floor against the Lakers. “That’s how I play. I love to attack the paint. I got all the shooters out there and I’ve got two big guys setting great screens for me …  I came out with a lot of energy that I knew we needed [because] we were up. We did a great job defensively all game and I think a little spark by me worked out in the win.”

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D-League DPOY Steps Up For Blazers

PORTLAND – After days of playing Dirk Nowitzki on the scout team in practice, Trail Blazers rookie forward Chris Johnson finally got a chance to play against the Mavericks’ All-Star Thursday night in Game 3 of this playoff series.

And he didn’t disappoint.

Johnson joined Blazers star Brandon Roy as one of the surprise heroes of the Blazers’ 97-92 win, playing huge fourth quarter minutes off the bench in relief of both Marcus Camby and LaMarcus Aldridge to help the Blazers pull to within a game (2-1) in the series.

No one was happier for the D-League Defensive Player of the Year than the men he relieved, Camby more than anyone since taking Johnson under his wing when Johnson signed with the Blazers as a free agent March 14. His 6-foot-11, 210-pound protegé looked like Camby-lite, grabbing three rebounds, blocking two shots and altering a couple of others in his six minutes of crunch time action against the Mavericks.

“Chris came in played well and you always get happy for guys like that, who work so hard behind the scenes,” Camby said. “You never know in this league when your number is going to be called. And tonight he played well when his number was called.

Johnson is one 45 former D-Leaguers working in the playoffs, a list that includes Mavericks guards Jose Barea, Roddy Beaubois, Dominique Jones and forward Ian Mahinmi. Johnson has plenty of D-League alumni company in his own locker room with Luke Babbitt, Earl Barron, Armon Johnson and Patty Mills all have logged time in the D-League.

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