Posted on: March 7, 2012 11:56 am
 

Report: Wolves want league to be nicer to Rubio

Ricky Rubio is getting a lot of body from defenders. (Getty Images)
By Matt Moore

When Ricky Rubio was drafted, the questions were about how he would deal with the tougher defense of the NBA. Not in terms of acumen, the Euro leagues provide plenty of defense. But the players are so much bigger, so much more toned, so much stronger, that his wispy frame was considered an issue. Then he came over and lit the league on fire and it wasn't considered an issue. But it's gotten tougher and tougher as the season has gone on, and now the Wolves have decided to pull the "mom who finds out her son is being bullied and goes to the principle" approach. 
Wolves president of basketball operations David Kahn said the team has sent video to the NBA , seeking to call attention to what Kahn and the team's coaches believe are opponents being overly physical with rookie guard Ricky Rubio.

The team sent many examples of what it deems are fouls never called against defenders who have decided the best way to play the skinny rookie is to muscle him.

"All our young guys are learning that, Ricky especially," coach Rick Adelman said about opposing defenses adjusting to stop the Wolves' offense. "They're putting bigger guys on him...They’re beating the hell out of him right now. The league has figured out you have to be physical with him. And he’s kind of learning on the fly.’’
via Wolves send Rubio footage to league, looking for some protection | StarTribune.com.

Thing is, that's what parents should do. Will it bring more Heat on the kid in the short term? Sure. But in the long-run it's better to establish an awareness of the issue. They should notify school officials. It's certainly true that kids have to stand up for themselves, but to make sure situations don't become dangerous, they need to give the school a heads up it's a problem. 

That said, this is just part of it for Rubio. It's not like it's significantly impacted his game, and he's still producing, the Wolvesare still winning. But he's going to see more and more of this. He's made a name for himself, and teams will target ways to stop that. The easiest way is to attack him physically. Rubio won't get special treatment, but it may help in cutting off excessively hard fouls that could cause injury.
Posted on: March 7, 2012 10:56 am
Edited on: March 7, 2012 2:40 pm
 

Sixers deny report regarding Turner issue

Evan Turner struggled off the bench in his first start this week. (Getty Images)
By Matt Moore

Update: Shock of all shocks, the Sixers and Turner deny any such problem to WIP Sports Radio. It seemed weird given that Turner's honestly played pretty well this season, but in either case, we've got the Sixers official take on the situation.

-----------------------

I know that headline is pretty much the vaguest thing you're ever going to read, but that's really the best way to describe this from CBS Philly: 
Stan Hochman, long-time writer for the Philadelphia Daily News, says that there’s a reason for Turner’s troubles. “There’s an explanation for Turner’s inconsistent play. One of these days, the team, with Turner’s permission, will reveal it. And then the criticism will back off,” he said during an interview with 94WIP’s Angelo Cataldi and The Morning Team on Wednesday.

Hochman indicated that the information was given to him with the knowledge that he would not reveal exactly what the problem is. He said that at some point this season, he believes it will be made public.
via Evan Turner's Mystery Problem « CBS Philly.

Turner shot 1-12 in his first starting spot this week, despite having played really well off the bench. Now it could have just been one of those games. It could have been a shock to the system for him to start. Turner has shown without a doubt he's going to be a quality player in the league after a rough start to his rookie season, but this kind of vague talk is at least a little concerning.

Now, this could be an exaggeration. Teasing something like that requires no risk for the writer and paints a picture without signing your name at the bottom. Then fans and media.... like this blog, take it and interpret it in ways which are in no way relevant to what's actually going on. But if nothing else it serves as a reminder that we like to look at players' efforts to being isolated to on-court matters, and that in reality, as with anyone's life, there are a number of factors, personal, professional, and medical playing into each player's performance.
Posted on: March 7, 2012 10:09 am
Edited on: March 7, 2012 10:32 am
 

Mark Cuban says Mavs aren't making trade calls

By Matt Moore

The Mavericks have pretty much freaked everyone out. The Mavericks not only held off signing three of their major championship components to long-term deals, presumably because of the luxury-tax implications in two years under the new CBA, they didn't re-sign th
Mark Cuban says the Mavs won't be ringing up other teams at the deadline. (Getty Images)
em, period. They moved a trade exception to get Lamar Odom, despite knowing Odom has never really had a lot of success outside of the cocoon of L.A. and Phil Jackson (though there was absolutely no way to predict how many personal issues Odom would unfortunately undergo which have impacted his play). They are rumored to be pursuing Dwight Howard and Deron Williams, but if so, why aren't they active on the trade market? To put it the way one Western Conference exec told the San Francisco Chronicle
"I can't tell what Dallas is doing. I'm as confused as everybody else," one Warriors source said.
via Considering the Warriors' trade possibilities.

And the subterfuge continues. Mark Cuban himself told reporters before the Mavs' win over the Knicks that if fans are waiting for the Mavericks to dive into the trade pool with the deadline a week away, they shouldn't hold their breath.
If Mark Cuban can be believed, the Mavericks are only going to be players before the March 15 trade deadline if somebody blows them away with an offer.

It will not happen if teams are waiting on the Mavericks to start proposing deals.

"We're not calling anybody,'' Cuban said before Tuesday's game against New York. "I told Donnie (Nelson) to take calls, but we're not making any calls. There you have it.''
via Mark Cuban: Mavericks are not making trade calls | Dallas Mavericks Blog | Sports News | News for Dallas, Texas | The Dallas Morning News.

I know, I know. Cuban always says this. Teams always says this. Cuban said Saturday at the Sloan Sports Analytic Conference that they take pride in never letting trade talks leak. If we believed every GM, trades just spontaneously happen because no one ever calls anyone. But let's for the moment take his word. The Mavericks are closing in on a potential top-four seed and homecourt advantage in the first round. But from watching them, it's easy to see there's a big gap between them and the championship-caliber team of last year (in the shape of Tyson Chandler, specifically). And yet, the Mavericks remain painfully patient. So what gives?

Maybe it's the luxury tax and Cuban wanting to get space to make careful moves before the punitive measures take effect. Maybe it really is the big dream chase of Deron Williams and Dwight Howard in free agency, and wanting to boost Marion's value as much as possible. Maybe it's just a conceptual approach to flexibility. It may be smarter to simply allow yourself options down the road than aggressively pursue a plan.

But the fact remains, the Mavericks are baffling everyone and it's kind of freaking us out.
Posted on: March 7, 2012 1:22 am
Edited on: March 7, 2012 1:32 am
 

Report Card 3.6.12: Underdogs rule Tuesday

Posted by Ben Golliver  

The Bobcats enjoyed a rare win on Tuesday, over the Magic no less. (Getty Images)

Each night, Eye on Basketball brings you what you need to know about the games of the NBA. From great performances to terrible clock management the report card evaluates and eviscerates the good, the bad, and the ugly from the night that was.

Charlotte Bobcats When you only win about once every two weeks and your first win since Feb. 17 comes against the No. 3 seed Orlando Magic, in convincing fashion, it's time to celebrate. That was the case for the Bobcats, who relentlessly pounded Orlando's defense and held the Magic offense to one-and-done looks possession after possession down the stretch, to dance their way to a 100-84 victory. Rookie Bismack Biyombo had his best game as a professional, going toe-to-toe with Dwight Howard to score 10 points, grab 15 rebounds and block an astounding 7 shots. He could barely contain his glee by the end, gesturing to the crowd in animated fashion as Charlotte walked off with the win.
Rodney Stuckey The Detroit Pistons guard outshot and outscored Kobe Bryant in a dramatic overtime win at the Palace. Stuckey scored Detroit's final seven points in regulation and tacked on another six in overtime, pushing the Pistons to an 88-85 upset win. He also put Bryant on skates with a vicious stepback crossover. He didn't do much else besides score, but that was more than enough.
Miami Heat Unlike the Magic and the Lakers, the Heat easily took care of business against lesser competition, stomping the New Jersey Nets, 108-78. Miami also enjoyed a nice soft launch in re-integrating Chris Bosh after he missed some time due to a death in the family. So why a "B"? Well, simple: irreplaceable guard Dwyane Wade suffered an apparently minor foot injury that kept him on the bench late. The good news: the Sun-Sentinel reports indicate he'll be fine and expects to start on Wednesday against the Hawks.
New York Knicks Dallas is now 15-7 at home, so expectations had to be somewhat tempered for the Knicks on the road. But a troubling 2-for-12 from Carmelo Anthony plus a decidedly not-superhuman performance from Jeremy Lin -- 14 points on 13 shots, 1-for-5 from deep, 7 assists and 2 turnovers, mixed in with long stretches of passive play -- make this a tough one. It was also New York's third loss in four games, with San Antonio on Wednesday. The next few weeks are critical if New York hopes to be better than the No. 8 seed.
Kobe Bryant He was due for an off night after three big scoring games in a row following the All-Star break, but Bryant's 8-for-26 shooting was a major reason the Lakers let what should have been an easy win slip away. While he nailed a pretty buzzer-beater to push the game to overtime, his performance and decision-making in the extra period was erratic. A forced deep three that didn't even come close on the final possession was Bryant at his worst.
Orlando Magic This was a hot mess of a loss to the Bobcats. Orlando scored just 13 points in the fourth and couldn't mange a single point in the final 2:47, conceding an 8-0 run to close the game. On the other end, Charlotte, the NBA's worst offense, seemingly scored at will, with Corey Maggette getting to the foul line 11 times and Gerald Henderson tossing in 16 points, including some big late buckets. Do the Magic even care? This was a lacking performance in virtually every area.


E FOR EFFORT
Dirk Nowitzki (28 points on 18 shots, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, in 34 minutes)
Kevin Garnett (13 points, 13 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks in 38 minutes)
Bismack Biyombo (10 points, 15 rebounds, 7 blocks, 6-for-10 free throw shooting to overcome Hack-a-Biyombo down the stretch)
Posted on: March 6, 2012 10:46 pm
Edited on: March 6, 2012 11:02 pm
 

NBA ref to Dirk Nowitzki: 'Do you want to go?'

Posted by Ben Golliver  

Dallas Mavericks All-Star forwrd Dirk Nowitzki wasn't pleased with a no-call but he had no idea his protests would be met with four threats of ejection.

In one of the more direct exchanges between NBA referee and superstar player that you will ever see caught on camera, official Eric Dalen asked Nowitzki directly if he would like to be ejected on four occasions.

"Do you want to go?" Dalen asked, over and over, after first hitting Nowitzki with a technical foul for arguing a no-call on a drive attempt.

The scene began with a little more than 7 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter of a Tuesday night game between the Mavericks and the New York Knicks. Nowitzki drove the paint against multiple Knicks defenders, only to have the ball swatted out of his possession with no foul given. Nowitzki reacted with frustration and was hit with the quick tech from Dalen. As he went to the sideline to argue that call, Dalen moved towards the scorer's table, issuing his ejection threat while looking directly at Nowitzki.

Nowitzki backed down, which was a smart move given that it was just an 8-point game at the time of the incident. The Mavericks held on for the 95-85 win. Nowitzki finished with a game-high 28 points.

Here's the video of NBA referee Eric Dalen asking Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki if he wants to be ejected.

Posted on: March 6, 2012 7:34 pm
Edited on: March 6, 2012 7:53 pm
 

Kobe Bryant wears new black face mask

Posted by Ben Golliver  

Kobe Bryant will don this black mask. (Lakers.com)

Cue the Batman jokes, I guess.

Los Angeles Lakers All-Star guard Kobe Bryant will switch up his mask game on Tuesday night, replacing his old clear model with the smaller, all-black style shown above, via Lakers.com. Bryant will debut the new mask when the Lakers travel to The Palace of Auburn Hills to face the Detroit Pistons.

Bryant has been rocking the head gear because Miami Heat All-Star guard Dwyane Wade hard-fouled him during the 2012 All-Star Game in Orlando. Bryant kept playing in the game and didn't miss any time, even though he suffered a "nasal fracture" and, according to one report, a "mild concussion."

Lakers.com offers the following details.
Bryant actually had three new masks made in Detroit — by the maker of Richard Hamilton’s masks — that he tried on at the team’s shootaround on Tuesday morning, and the black one was simply the most comfortable of the five (including the two he already had), according to athletic trainer Gary Vitti.
Update: Here's a few looks at Bryant's new mask from different angles during Tuesday's game.

Kobe Bryant wearing his new black mask against the Pistonsdon this black mask. (FSPistons broadcast)

In L.A.'s three games since the All-Star break, all Lakers wins, Bryant wore the clear mask, which reportedly kept heating up, causing him discomfort. He's topped 31 points in all three games -- wins over the Minnesota Timberwolves, Sacramento Kings and Miami Heat -- so it can't be bothering him that much.
Posted on: March 6, 2012 7:03 pm
Edited on: March 6, 2012 7:12 pm
 

Report: Kobe fined for skipping All-Star events

Kobe Bryant took a hit in the pocketbook for not doing this. (CBSSports.com)
Posted by Ben Golliver 

23 of the 24 2012 NBA All-Stars showed up for a mandatory Friday morning media availability in Orlando. The one absentee -- Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant -- called in sick. That proved to be a costly decision.

USA Today reports that the NBA fined Bryant $40,000 for multiple All-Star Weekend absences.
The NBA fined the Los Angeles Lakers guard $40,000 for missing a news conference and a mandated charity appearance for NBA Cares during All-Star weekend in Orlando.

In addition, the NBA fined Boston Celtics forward Paul Pierce and guard Rajon Rondo $20,000 each for missing their charity appearances.
Reporters stood around for the better part of an hour on Friday, waiting for Bryant to show up. Eventually, a league spokesman informed the crowd that Bryant would not be attending due to an illness.

Bryant did attend events later on Friday and eventually met with reporters before a Saturday practice session. There, he immediately brought up his absence when asked a question he didn't like.

"What type of question is that to ask me? Are you kidding me?" Bryant said. "Man, I was sick the other day so I didn't have to hear this."

According to StoryTellersContracts.com, Bryant's 2011-2012 salary with the Lakers is $25.2 million, tops in the league. The $40,000 fine represents roughly 1/630 of his salary. The equivalent fine for someone making $50,000 a year would be roughly $79.

Bryant's West team defeated the East, 152-149. Bryant finished with 27 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist and 2 steals in 34 minutes. He also suffered a broken nose when he was fouled by Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade.
Posted on: March 6, 2012 5:33 pm
Edited on: March 6, 2012 5:45 pm
 

Podcast: Kevin Harlan on Wolves and March Madness

Kevin Harlan of CBS Sports and TNT discusses the Timberwolves' resurgence. (Getty Images)


By Matt Moore

Kevin Harlan is a staple of NBA life for fans. He's been calling NBA games for 23 years. So his perspective on ridiculous condensed season is pretty insightful given how connected he is to the league and its players. So we talked to him on the CBSSports.com NBA podcast. We also touch on the Timberwolves who he was play-by-play for for many years, and about Kevin Love being "the best power forward in the NBA" in Harlan's eyes, and we look forward to March Madness, which you can see on CBS and the Turner Sports family of networks this month. 

You can download the podcast here, and it's available on iTunes as well, so be sure to subscribe. Click here to pop out the podcastinto its own window and continue surfing the information superhighway.  

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com