Basketball News And Notes 3/19

Basketball News And Notes 3/19

NBA Today - March 19
Mon, Mar 19, 2007
By Associated Press

SCOREBOARD
Monday, March 19

Sacramento at Atlanta (7 p.m. EDT).

The Kings trail the Warriors by two games for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

STARS

Sunday

- Kobe Bryant, Lakers, scored 50 points for the second consecutive game in a 109-102 win over the Timberwolves.

- Jason Kidd, Nets, had 23 points and 13 assists, and hit four free throws in the final 18.5 seconds to lead New Jersey to a 101-95 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers.

TWIN 50s

Kobe Bryant became the first Lakers player with consecutive 50-point games in 44 seasons, following a 65-point game with 50 against Minnesota on Sunday night in Los Angeles' 109-102 victory over the Timberwolves. Bryant became the first Lakers player with consecutive games of 50 or more points since December 1962, when Elgin Baylor did it in three straight games.

PILING ON

Yao Ming scored 24 points, Tracy McGrady added 21, and the Houston Rockets coasted to a 124-74 victory Sunday night over the Philadelphia 76ers. It was the most points allowed in a game this season by the 76ers and largest margin of defeat in Wachovia Center history.

SNAPPED

The Orlando Magic ended the Miami Heat's nine-game winning streak with a 97-83 victory Sunday night. Orlando, which won for only the sixth time in its last 18 games, also ended Miami's run of 14 straight wins at home. ... Dirk Nowitzki scored 28 points to help the Dallas Mavericks end the Detroit Pistons' five-game winning streak with a 92-88 victory.

STRONG IN DEFEAT

Ricky Davis scored 33 points in Minnesota's 109-102 loss to the Lakers on Sunday night.

FINED

The Boston Celtics confirmed Sunday that the team had been fined $30,000 by the NBA for excessive contact with the family of University of Texas star freshman and likely lottery draft pick Kevin Durant. General Manager Danny Ainge sat next to Durant's mother during the Big 12 tournament. The league said Ainge violated rules demanding that contact be kept to a minimum between team executives and potential NBA draft picks, until college players officially declare for the draft.

SPEAKING

''We talked about going to Kobe early in games and not waiting. He had been playing the team role, feeling the game out and waiting 'til the second half to get going. But there's just not enough time right now in the season to develop that.'' - Lakers coach Phil Jackson on Kobe Bryant, who became the first Lakers player with consecutive 50-point games in 44 seasons, following a 65-point game with 50 against Minnesota on Sunday night in Los Angeles' 109-102 victory over the Timberwolves.

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Billups out against Mavs
Sun, Mar 18, 2007
By Associated Press

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- All-Star guard Chauncey Billups missed Detroit's matchup with the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday due to a groin injury.

''I had a pretty good indication he wasn't going to go when I saw him walk in,'' Pistons coach Flip Saunders said before the game. ''He had on a really nice suit, so I suspected he knew he'd be wearing it on the bench.''

Billups sustained the injury in Saturday's win in Phoenix. Flip Murray, who had a season-best 25 points against the Suns, will start against the Mavericks.

''If this was a playoff game, Chauncey would go,'' Saunders said. ''But we're going to be cautious right now. We don't want him to tear anything.''

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Injured Payton misses Heat game
Sun, Mar 18, 2007
By Associated Press

MIAMI -- Heat guard Gary Payton missed Miami's game with Orlando on Sunday night with a strained right groin.

Payton aggravated the injury Friday in the first half of Miami's win over Sacramento. He's averaging 5.6 points playing mostly off the bench this season for the defending NBA champions.

His status is day-to-day, the team said. Miami's next game is Wednesday in Atlanta.

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I didn't realize Payton had such a low average this year 5.6ppg! But they still need him to get healthy quickly.

I hope Chauncey is not hurt too bad. The Pistons could e our only hope for a good NBA finals, them or the Heat.

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Wade is 'doing all right,' but comeback date still a mystery
Mon, Mar 19, 2007
By Associated Press

Dwyane Wade sat before a bank of microphones on March 5, saying he would need at least two weeks of rehabilitating his dislocated left shoulder before deciding whether to return to the Miami Heat this season.

It's been two weeks. Still, no one knows for sure when the NBA finals MVP will be back.

And if a timetable exists, Wade isn't saying just yet.

''Physically, I'm doing good,'' Wade said Monday on a conference call to announce his plan for upgrading his old high school gym at Richards High in Oak Lawn, Ill., a Chicago suburb. ''I've been working out every day and doing what they're telling me to do. So I'm doing all right.''

Somewhat surprisingly, so are the Heat - who, even without their leading scorer, have rallied nicely to rise in the Eastern Conference playoff chase.

Miami lost 97-83 to Orlando on Sunday, a defeat that halted winning streaks of nine straight overall and 14 in a row at home - both were the longest current runs in the NBA. But even with that defeat, the Heat have gone 10-3 since Wade got hurt.

''I see him on the court every day,'' Heat coach Pat Riley said. ''He seems to be progressing. They're advancing with their drill work and he's got the heavy ball, how high he can get his arms up and stuff. He feels stronger, but we won't know for a while when, exactly, the day will come when he'll start to play - so we're not even thinking about it right now.''

When Wade got hurt, he had two options: Rehab or surgery.

He chose rehab, with the hopes of returning sometime this season, but with the caveat that season-ending surgery remains a possibility if the shoulder doesn't get strong enough to allow him to play. And after one of his first workouts after the rehab regimen started, he realized how difficult getting ready again will be.

''It was rough, and right then, I thought surgery might not have been that bad,'' Wade said. ''It's hard work, but if I can get back, then it'll be worth it to me to go through it all.''

Wade was averaging 28.8 points when he got hurt, and at the time, the Heat were on the playoff bubble. But now they're firmly in the mix for an Eastern Conference postseason spot, plus have climbed within one game of Washington in the Southeast Division race.

And teammates, while acknowledging they don't know when it will happen, still insist they expect Wade back.

''With our No. 1 option out, Pat asked me to use my experience and get everyone involved,'' Heat center Shaquille O'Neal said. ''We've got a lot of veterans who know what to do when it's time to step up, and when we get our No. 1 option back we'll be ready.''

Wade was not at the event at his high school on Monday because of the rehab schedule, but has been cleared to travel; he accompanied the Heat to the White House for a championship celebration earlier this month.

He's been back on the bench with teammates in recent weeks, but even that provides a reminder of how severe his injury was: Something as simple as clapping his hands is still difficult because of the compromised range of motion in his shoulder.

''It's always hard not to get on the court and not to do something that you love doing, especially at this time of the year,'' Wade said. ''This is the exciting part of the season, going into the playoffs. It's hard, but my team is playing well.''

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Trail Blazers' Randolph granted bereavement leave
Mon, Mar 19, 2007
By Associated Press

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Trail Blazers forward Zach Randolph was granted a bereavement leave Monday, and will miss Portland's next game.

The Trail Blazers play Washington at home Tuesday night.

The team did not disclose details of Randolph's situation, but said he was expected to rejoin the team during its upcoming road trip. After playing the Wizards, Portland goes on the road for four games.

Randolph is the team's leading scorer, averaging 23.5 points.

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