NBA News and Notes Monday 12/8

NBA News and Notes Monday 12/8

NBA Today

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Monday, Dec. 8

Golden State at Oklahoma City (8 p.m. EST). Oklahoma City fell to 2-19 with its 105-99 loss at Miami on Saturday night, matching the fifth-worst 21-game start in NBA history. Golden State has lost nine straight to drop to 5-15.

STARS

Sunday

— Steve Blake, Trail Blazers, scored 19 points and hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with 8 seconds left in Portland’s 98-97 victory over Toronto.

— Kobe Bryant, Lakers, had 20 points and a season-high eight assists to help Los Angeles (17-2) equal its best 19-game start in franchise history with a 105-92 win over Milwaukee.

— Chris Duhon, Knicks, had 25 points and nine assists to help New York hang on after blowing most of a 29-point lead in a 104-92 win over Detroit.

— Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett, Celtics. Allen scored a season-high 35 points and Garnett had 17 points, 20 rebounds and five steals to help Boston push its winning streak to 12 with a 122-117 overtime victory at Indiana.

STATS

Portland improved to 8-1 against Eastern Conference teams with a 98-97 win over Toronto. The Trail Blazers’ only loss was Friday at Boston. … The Pacers shot 50 percent from the field against the league’s top defensive team, but still lost to Boston 122-117 in overtime. It was the most points the Celtics have allowed this season. … Milwaukee shot 38 percent from the field in a 105-92 loss to the Lakers, and has not shot better than 50 percent this season.

SUNDAY SWOONS

Maybe the Pistons really do refuse to work on Sunday. Detroit rallied from 29 points down but still lost to the Knicks, 104-92, dropping the Pistons to 0-5 on the back end of the weekend. The Knicks won for the first time in six games against the Central Division.

SEE YA

Detroit played nearly the entire fourth quarter against the Knicks without Richard Hamilton, who was thrown out of a game at Madison Square Garden for the third time in four years. He got a technical foul in the first half, then was called for another and ejected after appearing to give a little shove to Jared Jeffries after fouling him.

STREAKS

The Celtics are riding a 12-game winning streak after a 122-117 overtime victory over Indiana, their longest streak since taking 14 straight on their way to the 1986 NBA title. … The Lakers (17-2) equaled the best 19-game start in franchise history, also accomplished by the 1985-86 team. … The Knicks blew most of a 29-point lead before holding off Detroit 104-92 to snap a three-game skid.

SPEAKING

“Regardless of how well you play, one thing you can always do every night is play hard and there’s no excuse for that. We get a lot of money to come out here and perform to the highest of our ability and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t come out and give that effort.”—Allen Iverson after Detroit dropped to 7-8 since his debut with a 104-92 loss at New York.

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Tips and Trends

Houston Rockets at Memphis Grizzlies


Rockets (-7, O/U 192): Houston has scored 100 points six times in the last eight games, winning all six times. The Rockets are coming off a 131-112 rout of Golden State on Friday behind a season-high 36 free throws and 13 3-pointers. Yao Ming also enjoyed his best game of the season against the Warriors with 33 points and 14 rebounds. “The great thing about tonight was we had tremendous balance,” Houston forward Shane Battier said. “We can’t do it by ourselves, but when we have tremendous balance, we become a much better, much more efficient offensive team.”

Rockets are 3-1 ATS in the last 4 meetings.
The UNDER is 7-1 in the last 8 meetings at Memphis.

Key Injuries - F Tracy McGrady (knee) is OUT.

G Brent Barry (calf) is OUT.

PROJECTED SCORE: 98 (UNDER - Total Play of the Day)

Grizzlies: Memphis head coach Marc Iavaroni is on the hot seat after watching his team lose 12 of 14 games. The Grizzlies have allowed five of their last six opponents to shoot better than 50 percent from the field, and Iavaroni is concerned with a lack of motivation by his players, which was evident again in Saturday's 106-87 loss to New Orleans. “We needed energy on the floor, we needed toughness,” Iavaroni said. “We were not in the tough category. We were nowhere near it.”

Grizzlies are 1-8 ATS in their last 9 games overall.
The UNDER is 6-2 in Memphis' last 8 Monday games.

Key Injuries -  NONE

PROJECTED SCORE: 91


CHARLOTTE (7 - 13) at MIAMI (11 - 9)
Top Trends for this game.
CHARLOTTE is 37-20 ATS (+15.0 Units) in road games after a loss by 10 points or more since 1996.
CHARLOTTE is 43-23 ATS (+17.7 Units) after scoring 85 points or less since 1996.
MIAMI is 41-59 ATS (-23.9 Units) in all games over the last 2 seasons.
MIAMI is 7-19 ATS (-13.9 Units) as a favorite over the last 2 seasons.
MIAMI is 17-32 ATS (-18.2 Units) in home games over the last 2 seasons.
MIAMI is 59-85 ATS (-34.5 Units) in home games vs. division opponents since 1996.
MIAMI is 47-65 ATS (-24.5 Units) revenging a loss vs opponent over the last 3 seasons.
Head-to-Head Series History
CHARLOTTE is 5-4 against the spread versus MIAMI over the last 3 seasons
CHARLOTTE is 6-3 straight up against MIAMI over the last 3 seasons
5 of 9 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons


GOLDEN STATE (5 - 15) at OKLAHOMA CITY (2 - 19)
There are no Top Trends with records of significance that apply to this game.
Head-to-Head Series History
GOLDEN STATE is 4-3 against the spread versus OKLAHOMA CITY over the last 3 seasons
GOLDEN STATE is 5-2 straight up against OKLAHOMA CITY over the last 3 seasons
5 of 7 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons


HOUSTON (13 - 7) at MEMPHIS (5 - 15)
Top Trends for this game.
HOUSTON is 271-218 ATS (+31.2 Units) in road games since 1996.
HOUSTON is 60-25 ATS (+32.5 Units) in road games after allowing 105 points or more since 1996.
HOUSTON is 26-11 ATS (+13.9 Units) in road games versus poor defensive teams - allowing 99+ points/game over the last 3 seasons.
MEMPHIS is 43-59 ATS (-21.9 Units) in all games over the last 2 seasons.
MEMPHIS is 31-47 ATS (-20.7 Units) as an underdog over the last 2 seasons.
MEMPHIS is 11-24 ATS (-15.4 Units) in December games over the last 3 seasons.
MEMPHIS is 31-45 ATS (-18.5 Units) revenging a loss vs opponent over the last 2 seasons.
MEMPHIS is 14-33 ATS (-22.3 Units) when playing against a team with a winning record over the last 2 seasons.
Head-to-Head Series History
HOUSTON is 5-4 against the spread versus MEMPHIS over the last 3 seasons
HOUSTON is 8-1 straight up against MEMPHIS over the last 3 seasons
6 of 9 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons


ORLANDO (15 - 5) at LA CLIPPERS (4 - 16)
Top Trends for this game.
ORLANDO is 67-43 ATS (+19.7 Units) in all games over the last 2 seasons.
ORLANDO is 46-30 ATS (+13.0 Units) as a favorite over the last 2 seasons.
ORLANDO is 34-20 ATS (+12.0 Units) in road games over the last 2 seasons.
ORLANDO is 34-19 ATS (+13.1 Units) first half of the season over the last 2 seasons.
ORLANDO is 24-13 ATS (+9.7 Units) after a non-conference game over the last 2 seasons.
ORLANDO is 14-4 ATS (+9.6 Units) in road games in non-conference games over the last 2 seasons.
ORLANDO is 36-21 ATS (+12.9 Units) when playing against a team with a losing record over the last 2 seasons.
LA CLIPPERS are 41-60 ATS (-25.0 Units) in all games over the last 2 seasons.
LA CLIPPERS are 34-49 ATS (-19.9 Units) as an underdog over the last 2 seasons.
LA CLIPPERS are 18-34 ATS (-19.4 Units) in home games over the last 2 seasons.
LA CLIPPERS are 3-14 ATS (-12.4 Units) off an upset win as an underdog over the last 2 seasons.
LA CLIPPERS are 17-34 ATS (-20.4 Units) when playing against a team with a winning record over the last 2 seasons.
Head-to-Head Series History
ORLANDO is 3-1 against the spread versus LA CLIPPERS over the last 3 seasons
ORLANDO is 3-1 straight up against LA CLIPPERS over the last 3 seasons
2 of 4 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons


CHARLOTTE vs. MIAMI
Charlotte is 5-2 ATS in its last 7 games when playing Miami
Charlotte is 6-1 SU in its last 7 games when playing Miami
Miami is 4-1 SU in its last 5 games
The total has gone OVER in 4 of Miami's last 5 games

GOLDEN STATE vs. OKLAHOMA CITY
Golden State is 1-6 ATS in its last 7 games on the road
Golden State is 0-5 SU in its last 5 games on the road
Oklahoma City is 0-5 ATS in its last 5 games when playing at home against Golden State
Oklahoma City is 18-6 SU in its last 24 games when playing at home against Golden State

HOUSTON vs. MEMPHIS
Houston is 6-2 SU in its last 8 games
The total has gone OVER in 7 of Houston's last 8 games
Memphis is 2-4 ATS in its last 6 games when playing Houston
Memphis is 1-8 SU in its last 9 games when playing Houston

ORLANDO vs. LA CLIPPERS
Orlando is 1-3-1 ATS in their last 5 games when playing on the road against LA Clippers
Orlando is 1-4 SU in their last 5 games when playing on the road against LA Clippers
LA Clippers are 2-13 ATS in their last 15 games at home
LA Clippers are 2-13 SU in their last 15 games at home

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NBA Monday Previews
By Andre Gomes

Charlotte @ Miami

For this game, Gerald Wallace and Sean May will be out and the Bobcats will try to bounce back from the home defeat they suffered last Saturday at the hands of the Cavs by 20 points. But after all, who doesn't lose against Cleveland nowadays? Today they will play at Miami against a Miami who is coming from three wins in a row and didn't have a letdown in their home game against the Thunder, after a very successful road trip in the West. Dwayne Wade keeps playing at a MVP level, but take note in that game against the Thunder, it was the second time Miami couldn't cover the spread as a big favorite. In fact, Miami is 0-2 ATS this season, while being favored by more than 8 points. In this game, Miami has revenge as they lost at Charlotte already this season, but 7.5 points is already an high number.

Houston @ Memphis

The Rockets scored 131 points against the Warriors, a franchise best in the last 13 years. The team has been inconsistent during the season, but they were able to take advantage of the lack of defense from the Warriors. Today they will face a team, which simply can't be competitive against power clubs. Memphis has been suffering routs after routs against top teams: 87-106 @New Orleans; 98-109 @San Antonio; 100-117 @Utah; 81-94 vs San Antonio; 76-91 @Dallas. If the Houston bring their A effort tonight, then the Grizzlies won't stand a chance. The coach of Memphis has done some changes on the starting lineup to make the team more competitive, but the truth is that on their last game at New Orleans, they were already down by 16-37 after the end of the 1st quarter. I have a lean on the Rockets in here, but take note that Houston has been awful as a big favorite this season, as they are 2-4 ATS while being favored by 7 or more points on a game.

Golden State @ Oklahoma City

The Warriors are getting worse every day and everything started on the offseason. I don't want to be pessimist, but when we have on the same team three players who during their career were always selfish players, like Corey Maggette, Jamal Crawford and Stephen Jackson, that doesn't use to produce good results and that's exactly what has been happening with the Warriors. Golden State has lost their last 9 games and more important than that is that 4 of their last 5 losses were blowouts! They lost by 35 points against the Spurs, 19 points against Houston, 13 points against the Knicks and 15 points against Cleveland. For this game, Stephen Jackson is doubtful, Corey Maggette is questionable and Jamal Crawford is probable. The Thunder have been very competitive lately, by going 7-1 ATS in their last 8 games, but they won't be huge underdogs in here and one thing is asking them to be competitive, the other thing is to ask them to win games. Russell Westbrook has been playing very well since he has entered the starting lineup and this team of the Thunder will be hungry to get an home win, as their progress has been evident. However, we can't forget the pressure factor for them in this game.

Orlando @ LA Clippers

Orlando has been one of the best road teams on the league since last season. They are already 6-2 this season and even though the team hasn't been playing as well as they were last season, the Magic are 15-5 this season and they have the 4th best record on the league, only behind Boston, the Lakers and Cleveland. Howard is coming from a monster game against the Thunder with 21 points and 23 rebounds and the Magic will begin now a tough road trip on the West, with 5 games in 8 days. On the other side, the Clippers are needing wins badly and they are coming from a big fat win at Minnesota by 23 points and it's important to notice that they are 7-3 ATS on their last 10 games, even though they are 3-7 SU during the same span. The trade of Zach Randolph improved the team and Baron Davis is also playing closer to his real level right now. The obvious pick in here would be Orlando, however the Magic has been having a really easy schedule and they will now travel to the West, so this doesn't seem to be the best spot for them, especially with the Clippers being a fired up team right now.

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Hot Teams
-- Miami won its last three games, by 1-4-6 points.
-- Magic won 15 of their last 18 games.
-- Rockets won eight of their last twelve games.

Cold Teams
-- Bobcats lost last two games, are 0-3 vs spread in last three.
-- Warriors lost last nine games, with four of last five losses by 13+ pts. Thunder is 1-17 in their last 18 games, but covered seven of last eight.
-- Grizzlies lost eight of their last nine games.
-- Clippers lost seven of last nine games, but covered five of last six.

Totals
-- Over is 10-4 in Miami's last fourteen games.
-- Over is 11-2 in Golden State's last thirteen games.
-- Seven of last eight Houston games went over the total.
-- Three of last four Clipper games stayed under the total.

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NBA Preview
By Indiancowboy

Orlando vs. Clippers

The Clippers return home after a tough road trip but they did do some positive things and the Magic are public faves by 75% here. In fact, all the teams that are playing today are all at one point or another favored by 66% or higher, 3 of the teams are favored by 70% or higher. The Clippers took out some frustration on the Timberwolves on the road and now return home to face the Magic. Look, I can see the Clippers easily getting up for this game as they have begun to play solid basketball behind Davis, Randolph, Thornton and company. Heck, with Kaman comes back this team will be even more of a force. This team has covered 5 of 6 but I have a standard rule of not betting against the Magic as that team has a way of getting it done, but just be wary, the Clips could very easily cover if not win this game outright. A small lean on the under here as there was a 3.5 point hit on it offshore before the line was released.

Charlotte vs. Miami

Charlotte is terrible. You never know when this team will show up and when they will not show up. Note that Wallace is out for this game. The line for this game opened up at -7.5 and went up slightly to -8. The total took a dip to the under as well. About 66% of the public favors the home team in the Heat here. The Heat to their credit are 6-3 at home while the Bobcats are 1-5 on the road. Note, this is a revenge game for the Heat who lost by double-digits to Charlotte on the road earlier this year - I remember that game as I cashed with the Bobcats as the POD that day. Charlotte comes off a 20 point loss to the Cavs so they are likely to step up here at least some what. Having said that though, the Heat have revenge so no thanks and the Heat have actually missed their last 5 of 7 covers. The Under is 7-1 for the Clippers following a straight up win.

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Bobcats could be without two starters tonight
COVERS.com

Two starters may be out of action for the Charlotte Bobcats tonight when the team travels to Miami to face the Heat.

The Charlotte Observer reports small forward Gerald Wallace was in Alabama on Sunday after the death of his grandmother and it is unknown whether he’ll be back with the club for tonight’s game.

Meanwhile, coach Larry Brown suggested he might sit Sean May to give the power forward a chance to rest his right knee.

May has been dealing with tendonitis in the knee for the last two weeks.

“It might be a game-to-game or day-to-day case,” May told the Charlotte paper. “It’s a mild case of tendonitis, but we don’t want it to get so inflamed they have to shut me down for an extended period of time.”

May should be replaced easily but Wallace is much more important to Charlotte’s success. The small forward is the Bobcats’ second-leading scorer (15.2 ppg) and also the team’s top wing defender.

Oddsmakers have the Bobcats listed as 8-point underdogs with the total set at 186.5.

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Timberwolves fire coach Randy Wittman
December 8, 2008

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -Randy Wittman was fired as coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday, two days after an embarrassing 23-point loss at home to the last-place Los Angeles Clippers. Kevin McHale, vice president of basketball operations, took over as coach.

The young team has a 4-15 record and has not responded to Wittman's demands for tough defense. The Timberwolves are in the midst of a five-game losing streak in which the average margin of defeat has been nearly 17 points.

``There were certain goals and expectations that we had for this team at the start of the season, and we have not lived up to them,'' Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor said in a statement.

``I am disappointed in our record and believe that we have more talent than our record indicates. A change had to be made and with three-fourths of the season remaining, there is still time to make substantial progress this year,'' he added.

The team scheduled an afternoon news conference to discuss the change.

This was the fourth NBA coaching firing this season following P.J. Carlesimo (Oklahoma City), Eddie Jordan (Washington) and Sam Mitchell (Toronto).

Wittman was 38-105 since taking over for Dwane Casey in January 2007. McHale picked Wittman to preside over the team's rebuilding following the trade of Kevin Garnett, but the second year of the plan has not produced results.

After keeping things close early in the season, the Timberwolves lost by 29 points at New Jersey on Friday night, then were blown out by the Clippers on Saturday night to seal Wittman's fate. Wittman went 22-60 last year, his only full season in charge.

``I want to thank Randy for all of his contributions to the Timberwolves through the years as both a head coach and an assistant coach, and wish him the best in the future,'' Taylor said.

Now it's up to McHale to try and turn things around, and he has experience in this kind of situation. He went 19-12 in the final 31 games of the 2004-05 season after firing coach Flip Saunders.

``Kevin has assembled the players on this team, and believes in their talent and skill level,'' Taylor said. ``It is my expectation that Kevin will be able to get the most out of our team and our players in his new role as head coach.''

While Wittman has been preaching energy and effort, the Timberwolves have been routinely outhustled. They were outrebounded 54-38 and outscored 20-7 in second-chance points against the Clippers, two telltale signs of lack of effort.

Wittman started this season with defense as the top priority, harping on it throughout training camp and urging his team to commit to it at all costs. Yet the Wolves have allowed at least 100 points in seven straight games and constantly give up easy layups and wide-open jumpers. Whatever the coach was trying to teach, it either wasn't working or wasn't sinking in.

On countless occasions this season, Wittman has been reduced to stomping his feet on the sidelines and yelling, ``What are we doing?'' with his hands in the air in exasperation.

The players said the onus was on them to get things turned around.

``You are going to have bad shooting nights. You are going to have nights where you're not as effective as you want to be. But, the effort has to be there every night,'' forward Ryan Gomes said after the loss to the Clippers and before the decision was made. ``That's one thing. The hustle has to be there every night. Last two nights, it hasn't been there. You look at the games, look at the scores of these games and you can just tell by that, that something was wrong.''

Five of the team's first eight losses were by six points or less, leaving hope that an adjustment here or there would get things on track.

But things went downhill last week. Losses at Charlotte, Orlando and New Jersey were ugly, but nothing in comparison to the drubbing delivered by the Clippers (4-16) in front of a home smattering of fans.

This season is starting to look a lot like last year, when the Timberwolves were 3-16 at this point in the season. After jettisoning malcontents Marko Jaric and Antoine Walker and acquiring Kevin Love and Mike Miller, the Wolves expected more this season.

``You look at our team and we have an improved roster and we are still in the same predicament we were in last year,'' Gomes said.

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