NBA Today - November 9

NBA Today - November 9

Nuggets forward Nene out 6 weeks
November 8, 2007

DENVER (AP) -Denver Nuggets power forward Nene is expected to miss up to six weeks because of a torn ligament in his left thumb.

Nene was injured in Denver's 119-93 loss at Boston on Wednesday night. He saw a hand specialist in Denver on Thursday, and the team said Dr. Carlton Clinkscale will operate on the thumb Friday.

The Nuggets, who have lost three straight games, have been hit hard by injuries for the third straight season. They have three points guards who are out: Michael Wilks (hamstring), Anthony Carter (broken hand) and Chucky Atkins (groin) and are monitoring minutes for power forward Kenyon Martin, coming back from a knee operation last year. Martin isn't playing in back-to-back games and is limited to about 18 minutes a game.

Nene made a successful comeback last season from a knee injury that wiped out almost his entire 2005-06 season.

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Re: NBA Today - November 9

Ref assignments now posted morning of game
November 8, 2007

For years, Allen Iverson couldn't help himself. He had to check the pregame lineup sheet to see which referees were calling his game that night.

And what was his reaction when he saw certain names?

``Oh my God, it's going to be one of those nights,'' the Denver Nuggets star said this week.

If Iverson so desired, he could now find out a whole lot sooner.

In one of the changes sparked by the Tim Donaghy scandal, the NBA this season began posting the names of the officials for that night's games at 9 a.m. (EST) on NBA.com. That information previously wasn't available to the teams or public until 90 minutes before games, but Donaghy admitted to passing it on to gambling associates to help them win their bets.

Donaghy provided them insight into certain player-referee relationships that could affect a game, an admission that Iverson - while stressing he thought no other refs were involved - found particularly troubling.

``There's a lot of truth to that,'' Iverson said. ``Because I know just being in the league 12 years, you know when somebody is not a big fan of yours. You know what type of relationship you have with certain people, if somebody don't like you or you don't like somebody, you know what it is.''

But while the change may make a difference in Las Vegas, it doesn't seem to have much affect on NBA teams.

``I think if you have a really veteran group it might,'' Minnesota coach Randy Wittman said before a game in New York. ``As a player, the longer you were in the league, the more you knew the officials and kind of knew how they called games.

``But as a coach to your players, it's not going to deviate from how you're going to play that game against the opponent you're going to play it against. You're going to have your game plan based on the New York Knicks, not who's calling the game. So for us it doesn't shed anything.''

Still, coaches are always looking for an advantage, and getting the information earlier gives them a head start on researching some tendencies of the guys they'll see later that night. Especially, if in another Donaghy-sparked change, the league begins sharing its referee database with teams.

``I think some coaches will probably build up statistics on certain referees, from 3-second calls to fouls and free throws. Those numbers are out there somewhere,'' Denver's George Karl said. ``I personally don't want to overstatisticize the game, for me it's a feel game. Some nights you get calls, some nights you don't get calls. Some nights the game's a touch game, next night a physical game, and I don't think you can predict that.''

There are some officiating assignments that would get a team's attention, whenever it finds out, such as when Joey Crawford does a San Antonio game after his clash with Tim Duncan last season. Or for Iverson when he sees Steve Javie, after saying last January there was ``something personal with me and him since I got in the league'' after Javie ejected him from a game.

``Most of the referees, 95 percent of them I know on a first-name basis, so it's just a relationship,'' Iverson said. ``It's just like players, too. You play against guys for so long you know what they like to do on the basketball court. You have a scouting report with players, you have a scouting report with referees.''

Nevertheless, don't expect Iverson to rush to his computer at 7 a.m. in Denver.

``At 7, I'm just rolling over. I'm not up doing that,'' he said. ``I can deal with it once I get to the game. But honestly I don't even do it like I used to. I get out there and I let it just hit me all at once.''

HANG IN THERE, LEBRON: Jason Kidd knows what it's like to lose a trusted teammate, so he has an idea what LeBron James must be feeling in Cleveland.

So Kidd and Carmelo Anthony want their USA Basketball teammate to hang in there while the Cavaliers play without forward Anderson Varejao, perhaps their most important frontcourt reserve.

``He can only go out there and play with the guys he has, and the first thing he can not show is frustration because the rest of those guys will see that and they'll follow his lead,'' Kidd said recently. ``This is a good time for him to grow as a leader and go out there and play hard and make sure everybody is pulling their weight.''

A restricted free agent, Varejao is holding out while seeking a deal worth $9 million per season. Though the Brazilian forward provided last season's Eastern Conference champions with energetic rebounding and defense off the bench, the Cavs don't feel that's a realistic demand for someone who isn't an offensive threat.

So Cleveland moves on without him, much the way New Jersey did in the summer of 2004 after dealing star forward Kenyon Martin to Denver for three draft picks. The Nets had reached the NBA finals in 2002 and '03, so Kidd wasn't happy at the time.

``I've been there, done that. It can leave a bad taste in your mouth, but at the end of the day you've got to tie your shoes a little bit tighter and go out there and play a little bit harder,'' Kidd said. ``And not force things, because he has so much talent, he just has to be him and just be himself and let management take care of any of the stuff that's going on with the other players.''

Anthony said he hasn't talked to his friend about the situation, but knows James must be frustrated.

``I already know what he's going through right now, so if he can just ... hope that something happens over there, hope they make a trade or get Varejao back,'' Anthony said. ``I hate to see him lose a guy like Varejao. I would love to play with somebody like Varejao.''

HELPING HANDS: With Del Harris becoming a consultant and Sam Vincent going to coach the Charlotte Bobcats, Dallas Mavericks coach Avery Johnson was forced to hire two new assistants this summer.

To replace the experienced Harris, he went with Paul Westphal, who coached Phoenix and Seattle for all or part of seven seasons. To replace Vincent, he went with an old teammate, Mario Elie.

Johnson said Westphal has already been getting through to the team's co-captains, Dirk Nowitzki and point guard Devin Harris. He's also been ``a very calming influence'' on Johnson.

``He's had some nice suggestions and they are not all fancy,'' Johnson said. ``Sometimes they're just so simple.''

Elie played with Johnson in San Antonio, where they won a title in 1999. Elie also won a title in Houston, so now he's hoping to get a ring from Texas' third team.

A funny thing about Elie is that Johnson mentioned him several times during the 2006 NBA finals. He even noted how many times his old teammate's name kept coming up. Now, they're working together again, with one of his main duties being to help get the most out of Josh Howard.

The third member of Johnson's sideline staff is his top aide, Joe Prunty.

``One of the things that I feel really tells a lot about your staff is how other teams go after them in the offseason,'' Johnson said. ``You look at what happened with Sam Vincent, that makes me proud. Joe's an up-and-coming young coach and he gets attention. It just makes me feel good when people take a look at our assistants and know they are capable.''

GO TO WHO? Having trouble figuring out Minnesota's lineup in the post-Kevin Garnett era? You're not alone.

``George Karl said the other day he didn't even know who the hell we were starting,'' Timberwolves coach Randy Wittman said.

After trading one of the league's best players to Boston over the summer, the Wolves figure to be pretty anonymous - and not very good. But could their low profile provide an edge?

``God, I hope so,'' Wittman said. ``Because if there is, than we got a hell of an advantage.''

Wittman started Al Jefferson, Ryan Gomes, Theo Ratliff and Sebastian Telfair, all acquired in the Garnett trade, along with Rashad McCants in the Wolves' first two games. None is a superstar, and it showed when Minnesota was close with both Denver and New York into the fourth quarter before falling short.

Without a go-to guy, the Wolves aren't sure where they want the ball going down the stretch.

``I'm not going lie to you and say we know that,'' Wittman said. ``We got options at that and I think for right now until we put guys in that position to see how they respond, the really good go-to guys can have 3 1/2 awful quarters and at the end of the game, a two-point game, they're going to play through that guy.

``We've got to see if we have people capable of doing that. I can't answer that right now, but we do have (people) capable of making plays at the end of the game. ``So that's just a thing that you as a player kind of develop as you get on the floor and you become a permanent fixture in this league.''

In the meantime, Minnesota may often be good, but not quite good enough.

``This team, I think as they continue to move on, Randy does a good job, they run good stuff, they're very sound,'' Knicks coach Isiah Thomas said. ``They're going to give a lot of teams some problems.''

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Re: NBA Today - November 9

Celtics' Posey day-to-day with back spasms
November 8, 2007

Associated Press

BOSTON (AP) -- Celtics forward James Posey was being treated for lower back spasms Thursday, a day after he was injured in Boston's 119-93 win over Denver.

Posey was diagnosed with a lumbar disk herniation after an MRI and is undergoing treatment. He is listed as day-to-day.

He left the game in the second quarter.

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Re: NBA Today - November 9

NBA today - Friday, Nov. 9
ASSOCIATED PRESS

SCOREBOARD

Friday, Nov. 9

Atlanta at Boston (7:30 p.m. EST). After impressive wins over the Suns and Mavericks, the Hawks take on the unbeaten Celtics.

STAR


Thursday

-Richard Jefferson, Nets, scored 25 points, including the winning free throws with 24 seconds to play, and New Jersey rallied for an 87-85 victory over Washington.

WINLESS

The New Jersey Nets rallied for an 87-85 victory over the winless Wizards on Thursday night. The 0-4 start is the first for Washington since 1992-93. ... The Golden State Warriors dropped to 0-5 after a 120-115 loss to the Dallas Mavericks.

SNAPPED

Tyrus Thomas had 19 points and 14 rebounds and the Chicago Bulls finally got their first victory after four losses, beating the Detroit Pistons 97-93 on Thursday night.

STRONG IN DEFEAT

Rasheed Wallace scored 36 points in Detroit's 97-93 loss to Chicago on Thursday night. ... Baron Davis scored 15 of his 37 points in the fourth quarter of Golden State's 120-115 loss to the Mavericks.

SIDELINED

Nuggets power forward Nene is expected to miss up to six weeks with a torn ligament in his left thumb. Nene was injured in Denver's 119-93 loss at Boston on Wednesday night. He saw a hand specialist in Denver on Thursday. Dr. Carlton Clinkscale will operate on the thumb Friday, the team said.

STERN WARNING

NBA commissioner David Stern warned Thursday that if the SuperSonics leave Seattle he sees no way the league would ever return to the city. At a news conference following his announcement that the 2009 All-Star game would be held in Phoenix, Stern criticized the city of Seattle and the Washington legislature for its handling of the issue of funding a replacement for Key Arena.

SPEAKING

''Regardless of my game, it ended in an 'L'. I'm old school so it didn't matter what I did, the team lost the game.'' - Rasheed Wallace after scoring 36 points in Detroit's 97-93 loss to Chicago on Thursday night.

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Gambling its credibility

Advertising dollars from casinos may be hard to resist, but after a referee betting scandal, the NBA should be trying harder to do so

So I walked down the hall under the stands at the United Center the other day to talk to some of the Los Angeles Clippers, who were in town to play the Bulls. I reached for the locker room door, which was covered in a picture of the Horseshoe Casino.

Inside, where the players were getting dressed, there were huge ads on each wall: ''BEST ODDS'' and ''BIGGEST JACKPOTS'' and ''HIGHEST LIMITS'' and ''20 Minutes from Downtown Chicago.''

Separating the dressing area from the training and shower areas was a curtain with a pattern of the Hammond, Ind., casino's emblems.

''Everything's a business,'' said Tim Thomas, the ex-Bull now with the Clippers. ''That's the way our world is. Everything's about the dollar.''

That includes NBA commissioner David Stern. He's about the dollar, too. And the Bulls, too.

The Bulls and Stern are sellouts.

Here is the NBA, fighting through a gambling scandal in which official Tim Donaghy bet on games he worked. And enough people had already been wondering if NBA games are fixed, including a friend of mine, Dave, who calls roughly three times a year to say so. ''I'm sure of it,'' he says.

Meanwhile, Donaghy said he wasn't the only official gambling. Then Stern announced that more than half of the officials crossed the line on the league's gambling policy, so he re-drew the line.

Stern knows that gambling threatens the integrity of the game, and the necessary perception of fair play.

And what does he do? What do the Bulls do?

''I've never seen anything like this,'' said Los Angeles' Corey Maggette, looking around the room.

League approves
I asked the Bulls if the league approved of these ads, if they aren't sending mixed messages, being hypocritical. The Bulls wanted to respond via e-mail, so here was their full response to those questions and a few more just like them, from executive VP of business operations Steve Schanwald:

''The NBA approves the selling of advertising to casinos as long as that casino does not have a sports book. There is no sports betting at the Horseshoe Casino, and we appreciate their advertising support of the Chicago Bulls.

''A recent trend in the NBA is to sell advertising in the visitors locker rooms, and many teams in professional sports have, for many years now, accepted advertising from legalized casinos. Revenues from our advertisers are an essential component to fielding a competitive team.''

I like that last line, the ''essential component'' part. Are the Bulls actually saying they have to get money from gamblers to win?

It is true that other sports teams, including the Cubs, have had casino ads. And I'm not saying casinos are inherently bad. This isn't really a moral issue or a legal one. It's a credibility issue.

Those sports aren't in the midst of a gambling crisis. And these new ads in the locker room are up less than four months after the Donaghy news hit.

The league acknowledged approving the Bulls' casino ads: ''There was never consideration to tell teams to refrain from these deals,'' NBA spokesman Tim Frank said.

''The landscape with gambling has changed very much in America, and we have allowed our teams to change along with it. Teams are permitted to enter into advertising arrangements with casinos as long as those casinos do not have betting on NBA basketball.''

Do you see hypocrisy here?

''There's clearly a line of delineation between what Donaghy did and having a marketing deal,'' he said. ''What he did is illegal.''

Stern's line too fine
The NBA needs to separate itself from the gambling culture. It didn't help when Michael Jordan was always out gambling, or when Charles Barkley was. But even with that, the league wasn't fighting this specific issue.

It's not a credible argument to approve of casinos that don't have sports betting but condemn the ones that do. I realize that if there's no sports book, then a player, theoretically, can't go in and bet against his team, can't fix a game.

But let's say the Clippers left the United Center and went straight to the casino. If you saw them there, would you think, ''Oh, well, there's no sports book here?''

No, it would just be another connection between gambling and the NBA.

Stern is losing his own credibility on this issue, walking a line that is too fine for a league with an ongoing scandal.

Gambling dollars are too important to the NBA for Stern to put up a real fight. He put the All-Star Game in Vegas, even though other major sports leagues are afraid to put a team there because they don't want to appear to be that close to gambling.

The Sacramento Kings are owned by a casino owner. The league has considered putting a team in Vegas, which matches up too neatly with Stern's new acceptance of casinos.

And now, in the first games post-Donaghy, the locker room walls are covered with casino ads. The locker rooms for the Bulls and for the officials are not.

But postgame TV coverage will make the NBA-gambling connection more public.

In the Clippers' locker room Tuesday, Thomas said the ads were for the players, rich young men looking to spend their money. The NBA taking ad money to try to lure players to a casino?

''It's all about the money,'' Thomas said. ''All about the money.''

The price of credibility.

www.suntimes.com

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Re: NBA Today - November 9

Hi

Tonight's NBA Selection and Injures Report:

301 Raptors (Toronto) -130 -2(-105) o188(-110)
306 Celtics (Boston) -470 -8.5(-105) u193.5(-110)
310 Heat (Miami) +310 8(-105) u195.5(-110)
314 Hornets (New Orleans) +140 3.5(-105) u187(-110)

[COLOR=DarkRed]Injures Reports:[/COLOR]
TORONTO
F Joey Graham Ques - Quadricep - 11/5/07

MIAMI
G Dwyane Wade Out indefinitely - Knee - 11/2/07

NEW ORLEANS
F Hilton Armstrong Ques - Virus - 11/5/07

P.s. Good luck if you betting

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Re: NBA Today - November 9

Stoudemire returning to lineup
ASSOCIATED PRESS

MIAMI -- Phoenix center Amare Stoudemire's sore right knee is much better, and he was available to play in Friday night's game against the winless Miami Heat.

Stoudemire said he felt no pain during the team's morning shootaround in Miami.

''I think he'll start. He should,'' Suns coach Mike D'Antoni said. ''It was just a matter of time. Now it's just getting our team together and getting a little bit better, so it's good to have him back.''

Oddsmakers have the Suns listed as 8-point road favorites with the total set at 196.

Stoudemire, who had arthroscopic surgery on the knee last month to remove a loose particle, sat out Phoenix's previous three games. The Suns went 2-1 in those contests.

''I feel good. Felt great. Today's one of my better days,'' Stoudemire said after Friday's brief workout.

He had 23 points and 11 rebounds in Phoenix's season-opening win against Seattle, but was largely ineffective the next night in a loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, finishing with seven points on 2-for-10 shooting and one rebound in 24 minutes.

Stoudemire hasn't played since.

The two-time All-Star played in only three games of the 2005-06 season because of microfracture surgery on his left knee. He returned strongly last year, playing in all 82 regular-season games and averaging 20.4 points and a career-high 9.6 rebounds. Stoudemire also shot 57.5 percent last year, another career best.

Stoudemire had surgery on the right knee once previously, also to remove some debris.

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