NBA Capsules: Blair scores 28 as Spurs beat Nuggets - Brownsville Herald

DENVER (AP) — The San Antonio Spurs may be the hottest team that nobody's talking about. Between the Miami Heat winning eight in a row and Jeremy Lin guiding the resurgent New York Knicks, the Spurs have slipped under the radar.

And that's just fine with them. They'll just silently go about their business of winning, where it seems like a new player steps up each night.

DeJuan Blair was in the starring role Thursday as he tied a career high with 28 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, helping the Spurs beat the injury-riddled Denver Nuggets 114-99 to wrap up a nine-game road swing.

The Spurs have won 12 of their last 13 heading into the All-Star break and lead the Southwest Division by three games over the defending champion Dallas Mavericks.

So, where's the national love for the Spurs?

"It's been the same way for 15 years," coach Gregg Popovich said. "I don't even think about it."

Nor does anyone else on his team.

"We let the hyped people get the hype," Blair said.

This is a team that's racing to the beat of Tony Parker. His ability to draw defenders certainly opened things up for his teammates as Tim Duncan added 18 points and Richard Jefferson hit 5 of 7 3-point attempts and scored 17.

Parker had his sixth double-double this season, winding up 16 points and 12 assists.

"The best I've ever seen Tony Parker orchestrate a game," Nuggets coach George Karl said. "He was really great with his decisions and his passing."

The Spurs finished their rodeo road swing with an 8-1 mark. In all, the team spent 17 days away from home and logged 7,941 miles. The nine straight games away tied a franchise record.

Corey Brewer scored 23 points for the banged-up and beleaguered Nuggets, who have lost 12 of their last 16 to drop out of the playoff picture. The loudest cheer of the night came when rookie Kenneth Faried slammed home a pass from Andre Miller midway through the third quarter. That cut the Spurs' lead to 24 points.

It was simply that kind of night for Denver.

Duncan and Parker were back in the lineup after Popovich elected to rest them in a lopsided 137-97 loss in Portland on Tuesday.

While most of the Spurs receive a break, Parker will head to the All-Star game as a reserve. He will be making his fourth appearance, joining George Gervin, David Robinson and Duncan as the only San Antonio players to be picked at least that many times.

Parker is in the midst of another strong season, averaging nearly 20 points and eight assists.

Before the game, Karl was asked what his team's focus would be against the Spurs.

"Parker," he said, with little hesitation.

But the problem Thursday was perimeter defense as the Spurs hit 13 3-pointers and shot 48 percent from the field.

"A rough night," Brewer said.

San Antonio led by as many as 28 points in the second half and looked to be headed toward a rout. Duncan even took a seat on the bench, figuring his night was finished.

When the Nuggets pulled within 12 points with 6:42 remaining, Popovich quickly summoned Duncan back into the game.

From there, the Spurs pulled away again. Blair hit four straight free throws to silence the threat.

Blair was a dominant presence down low, hitting 12 of 21 shots.

"He finds a way to score," Duncan said. "He's like a magnet to that ball — he goes and gets it. It's just about getting his opportunities and he got a lot of opportunities tonight and he'll finish them. He'll put them in."

The Nuggets showed their fatigue early on, falling behind 26-7 midway through the opening quarter. The team arrived back in town late Tuesday night after a 103-95 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers.

This has been an injury-filled season for the Nuggets. They were without speedy point guard Ty Lawson (left ankle), big man Nene (calf strain) and leading scorer Danilo Gallinari (left ankle).

Although they were supposed to have Rudy Fernandez back on the court, he ended up missing his fourth straight game with a strained lower back.

The All-Star break couldn't come at a better time for the Nuggets.

"We need a couple of days," Brewer said. "We're let down because we're a little beat up. But mentally, we're good. As a team, we're going to be just fine. We know we have a lot of guys out and we're getting guys back. We're going to be ready to make our second-half run."

Same with the Spurs, and they really don't care if anyone's paying attention.

"That's a question from every year. I really don't care where the radar is," Duncan said. "I don't watch radar. We just play games and we'll figure out where we are at the end of the year."

NOTES: The Nuggets wore retro uniforms, leading Karl to suggest that maybe the league should look into using striped basketballs in team colors. "It would be fun," he said. "But I think that's too out there." ... Miller finished with 20 points, while G/F Jordan Hamilton had an interesting stat line — no points and nine boards. ... Spurs F Kawhi Leonard (calf) didn't play in the second half. ... The Spurs were missing Manu Ginobili, who's out with a strained left oblique. The team is 17-8 this season in Ginobili's absence.

Mavericks very defensive as defending NBA champs

DALLAS (AP) — When the Dallas Mavericks let stalwart defender Tyson Chandler go after winning their first NBA championship, there was a big hole in the middle and plenty of questions about how drastically it would affect them.

Especially going into a season with a compressed 66-game schedule and limited preseason workouts.

Well, guess what? The Mavericks have been quite defensive, even without Chandler and DeShawn Stevenson on the roster. And they still have 11-time All-Star forward Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Terry and Jason Kidd leading them on offense.

Dallas (21-13) goes into the All-Star break as one of the league's top defenses and still among the Western Conference's best teams.

"I really had no idea what to expect and you still really don't know how things are going to play out," Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said. "We've had to really depend on our defense, so it's changed us some. So I think that's where our depth has really helped us, because can keep on bringing competent bodies that really know how to play and are willing to defend."

The Mavericks started their four-day break Thursday as the NBA leader in holding opposing teams to .416 percent shooting from the field and they are fourth allowing 90.8 points a game. Those numbers are better than their championship season.

"I think we could have definitely been better," said Shawn Marion, who has again been one of the Mavericks' top defenders and the only one to play in all 34 games. "But give and take with the circumstances and the way we had to just get it together so quickly, I think it's not bad at all."

Chandler got a $56 million, four-year contract with the New York Knicks in a sign-and-trade that was part of a three-team deal at the start of training camp. Letting Chandler, J.J. Barea, Caron Butler and Stevenson leave as free agents helped Dallas get some salary-cap flexibility under the NBA's new collective bargaining agreement.

Among the potential free agents next summer are Dwight Howard and Deron Williams. But that's after this season.

Dallas acquired Lamar Odom in a similar salary dump by the Los Angeles Lakers, and Brendan Haywood moved back into the starting role at center that he had expected to have before Chandler's arrival last season.

Even with the personnel changes and shortened training camp, coach Rick Carlisle didn't lessen his emphasis on defense. He instead is depending on it more.

"We sell it. We sell it," Carlisle said. "We haven't had the time to really spend a lot of time on our offense. We play a lot of basic concepts. ... Our emphasis is the defensive end, because we feel our flow game offense is good enough to where we can create shots. But that doesn't happen if we don't get the stops."

Asked how he gets players to buy into that defensive emphasis, he responded with title talk.

"The evidence of what we accomplished last year makes it an easy sell," Carlisle said.

That didn't keep the Mavs from having a rocky start this season, losing their first three games and giving up at least 104 points in each of them. They rebounded after that by setting a franchise record when they held 15 consecutive opponents under 100 points.

"Dallas has turned into an incredibly good defensive team," Denver coach George Karl said.

There was another stretch where 10 opponents in a row didn't reach 100 points. The Nuggets last week were held 20 points below what was then their NBA-high scoring average of 104.

The Mavericks have even overcome times without Nowitzki or Kidd.

Nowitzki, who this week hit No. 20 on the NBA career scoring list, had a planned four-game hiatus late last month to strengthen his sore right knee. Kidd, No. 2 on the career lists for steals and assists, is back from missing six games because of a strained right calf muscle after being out four games earlier with a strained lower back. Newcomer guard Delonte West is out a few more weeks after he broke his right ring finger on a defensive play last week.

When the Mavericks play Tuesday night at home against New Jersey, it will be their first of nine games in 12 days. That span includes a March 6 home game against the Knicks when Chandler will get his NBA championship ring.

"We've got a better record than I thought we would at this point, but we haven't played great basketball yet," Cuban said. "We've shown that we've got the pieces to be great, but we haven't done it yet. A lot to like, a lot to look forward to."

-- Stephen Hawkins

Other NBA Capsules

Heat easily beat Lin, Knicks

MIAMI (AP) — Jeremy Lin was no match for the Miami Heat.

Forcing Lin into easily the worst game of his remarkable run as New York's starting point guard by running streams of defenders at him, Miami topped the Knicks 102-88 on Thursday night — the eighth straight win for the NBA-leading Heat.

Chris Bosh scored 25 points, Dwyane Wade added 22 and LeBron James finished with 20 points, nine rebounds and eight assists for Miami, which will go into the All-Star break with the NBA's best record (27-7).

Lin's final line: 1 for 11 from the field, eight points, three assists — a far cry from the 23.9 points and 9.2 assists he had been averaging over his first 11 games in the Knicks' rotation, when he breathed immeasurable life into a team that was floundering.

On Thursday, he simply wasn't the same player, turning the ball over eight times. His last miss came with 6 seconds left, the outcome already decided, and he simply walked quietly off the court into the locker room.


ATLANTA (AP) — Josh Smith scored 22 points and pulled down 12 rebounds to help Atlanta snap a three-game skid with an win over Orlando.

Jannero Pargo added 15 points and Willie Green had 14 for the Hawks.

J.J. Redick finished with 13 points and Dwight Howard had 12 for the Magic, who had won two straight and six of seven.

The Magic recovered from a 10-point second quarter by scoring 25 in the third to pull within three heading into the final period. Howard's lay-in cut the lead to 69-68 with 4:42 left, but the Magic never got any closer.


OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Kevin Durant scored 33 points, Russell Westbrook added 19 and the Thunder beat the Lakers to head into the All-Star break tied for the league's best record.

The Thunder won their 12th straight home game and denied Los Angeles the chance to head into the midseason break with back-to-back statement wins on the road. The Lakers had won at defending NBA champion Dallas a night earlier and were trying to follow it by knocking off the other half of last year's West finals.

Kobe Bryant scored 24 points but went 7 for 24 from the field for Los Angeles. Pau Gasol had 22 points and nine rebounds.

Oklahoma City and Miami both have NBA-leading 27-7 records at the break.

Other NBA News

Lin struggles as Heat roll to eighth straight win

MIAMI (AP) — Jeremy Lin collided with LeBron James shortly after tipoff, stumbling backward. With that, the tone was set. And Lin's rise from unknown to stardom hit its first major snag.

Chris Bosh scored 25 points, Dwyane Wade added 22 and James put up 20 points, nine rebounds, eight assists, five steals and two blocks — the first such stat line in the NBA since James himself had a night like that four years ago — as the league-leading Miami Heat stopped Lin and the New York Knicks 102-88 on Thursday night.

It was Miami's eighth straight win, all coming by at least 12 points.

"A learning experience," Lin said afterward, before heading to Orlando for his role in All-Star weekend. "A tough one."

Lin's final line: 1 for 11 from the field, eight points, three assists and eight turnovers — a long way from the 23.9 points and 9.2 assists he had been averaging over his first 11 games in the Knicks' rotation, when he breathed immeasurable life into a team that was floundering.

Not this time. Lin paid the Heat a great compliment, saying their defense made it tough to even dribble.

"First of all, he deserves all of the credit he's been given," Wade said. "We knew it was going to be a tough task guarding him. ... He's a good player, but we put a lot of pressure on him and it was a success."

The scene was electric, and for much of the night, the game matched the hype.

Spike Lee, Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Chad Ochocinco all sat within seven seats of each other on one sideline, Mike Stanton and Logan Morrison of the Miami Marlins were on another sideline, and members of the New York Mets' front office reportedly jumped aboard a helicopter for the quick trip from the team's spring-training home in Port St. Lucie down to Miami.

Even the First Fan took note of the hubbub surrounding the game.

"In another life, I would be staying for the Knicks-Heat game tonight, then going up to Orlando for NBA All-Star weekend," President Barack Obama told cheering students at the University of Miami earlier in the day. "But these days, I've got a few other things on my plate. Just a few."

When Air Force One was headed to Orlando for a Thursday night fundraiser, yes, there were televisions tuned to Heat-Knicks on board.

"This has been about a three-week push for us and it's a good way to end before the break," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "I think everyone in that locker room needs a handful of days. We've been really focused ... to make this push. We played a team that with more time they're going to improve and become a very dangerous team. They already are right now."

The Heat defense wasn't geared just toward Lin, but rather slowing the entire Knicks' offense. New York shot 39 percent, turned the ball over 19 times and had 10 shots blocked — five of them by Miami center Joel Anthony, who also had six rebounds and took only one shot, which he missed.

"I'm sure they were all geeked up for him," Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni said of the Heat defense against Lin. "And they took the challenge and they did a great job. It's hard to be Peter Pan every day."

If proof was needed that the Heat wanted to make a point against Lin, there was some clear evidence.

Exhibit A: Mario Chalmers stole the ball from Lin and went in for a two-handed dunk in the early minutes. Exhibit B: Norris Cole, Chalmers' backup at point guard, did the same thing in the second quarter.

Combined dunks this season for Chalmers and Cole entering Thursday? Zero.

Those strip-and-scores were part of a six-turnover first half from Lin, matching his third-highest total in any half this season. Amare Stoudemire also had six turnovers in the first 24 minutes, the Knicks were outscored 30-16 in the paint, 12-1 on fast breaks and 12-3 off turnovers.

Lin had two assists in the first 1:26 of the game. He had one in the final 46:34.

"He's a good player, a really good player," James said of Lin. "And they're going to do some great things. But for us, we come in and take care of business."

Said Carmelo Anthony, who led the Knicks with 19 points: "We have some work to do. Nobody said it would happen overnight."

J.R. Smith scored 14 for New York off the bench. Stoudemire finished with 13 and Steve Novak scored 12 for the Knicks, who never led in the second half.

Early on, back and forth they went, just as everyone wanted.

"It's always big when the Knicks come in," Bosh said. "They have that New York-Miami thing. The crowd enjoyed it. And we enjoyed it."

It was classic Knicks-Heat stuff, just like those playoff battles in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Bodies were flying, tempers were flaring, Tyson Chandler and D'Antoni picked up technicals arguing the same play in the first quarter ... and more than a few Knicks fans who paid big money for tickets — the average price for the game on the resale markets was over $700, by one estimate — made their presence known loudly and often.

"It's one game," D'Antoni said. "And we're not there yet. They're there. They're the team right now to beat for everybody. They're playing better than everybody. And we're trying to get our team together."

Lin said he was already eager for the second half to start.

"I'm not going to hang my head or anything like that," Lin said. "I know I went out there and I played hard. Can't win 'em all. Can't have a great game every game. But at the same time, I need to understand, 'OK, what'd I do wrong? How can I improve?' I think that's going to be exciting."

NOTES: Wade spoke to the sellout crowd before the game, thanking them on behalf of the NBA and especially the six All-Star weekend-bound Heat players for their support the first half of the season. ... A number of arena workers snapped photos of Lin as he warmed up on the court about two hours before game time. ... In Orlando, where All-Star festivities were getting under way, NBA Commissioner David Stern said "it's fair to say that no player has created the interest and the frenzy in this short period of time, in any sport, that I'm aware of like Jeremy Lin has."

-- Tim Reynolds

Stern: Nothing like frenzy created by Lin

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Not Magic and Bird, not Kobe or LeBron. Not even Michael Jordan.

Nobody can match the buzz that Jeremy Lin has created in such a short amount of time, NBA Commissioner David Stern said Thursday.

"I haven't done a computation, but it's fair to say that no player has created the interest and the frenzy in this short period of time, in any sport, that I'm aware of like Jeremy Lin has," Stern said Thursday.

Lin, an undrafted guard from Harvard, has become the NBA's biggest story since coming off the Knicks' bench earlier this month to lead them to nine wins in 11 games heading into their matchup with Miami on Thursday night.

With Lin's popularity in Asia as the league's first American-born player of Chinese or Taiwanese descent, and with the religious community because of his strong Christian faith, Stern says he's "never quite seen anything like" the attention on Lin.

"It's fascinating," Stern said after the All-Star Jam Session opening ceremonies.

The top five videos on since Feb. 4, when Lin joined the rotation, are all Lin or Knicks related. Lin went from 190,000 followers on Sina, China's version of Twitter, on Feb. 2 to more than 1 million as of Feb. 16.

Lin was a late addition to Friday's Rising Stars Challenge between first and second-year players. Lin's emergence came after the 18-player roster for the game had been announced, and though there were calls for his inclusion, Stern told USA Today that Lin would not be given a special addition.

However, Lin was added along with Heat rookie Norris Cole last week. Stern said he was "overruled" by Kenny Smith, who is serving as commissioner of the game while fellow TNT analysts Charles Barkley and Shaquille O'Neal acted as general managers and drafted the teams.

"So I guess the people have been satisfied," Stern said, adding that he thought Lin's addition was great.

Lin's story has caught the attention of athletes beyond the NBA, such as boxer Manny Pacquiao and tennis great Roger Federer.

Federer, speaking on a conference call Thursday to promote an exhibition match against Andy Roddick at Madison Square Garden, said he hopes Lin comes to the March 5 event.

"I think this is why we all follow sports because of great stories like this, that all of a sudden someone breaks through that you didn't know or didn't expect and you didn't know the result was going to happen," Federer said, "and that he was able to help the Knicks to come through in the way he did now is a great thing."

Stern also said he plans to meet with Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson and the Maloof family, who own the Kings, on Sunday. They are facing a March 1 deadline to reach an agreement to finance a new arena. Without that, the team could be on the move.

"By March 1 we hope to either have a deal or not have a deal by March 1. We don't hope not to have a deal, but if we don't have a deal by March 1, my guess is we won't have a deal," he said.

He also said the league is negotiating with two groups of potential buyers for the Hornets. He hopes a deal can be completed within the next couple of weeks.

-- Brian Mahoney

Bulls in good spot at All-Star break — first place

CHICAGO (AP) — Derrick Rose's response was a bit like his drives and dunks — quick and emphatic. Are the Chicago Bulls better than they were a year ago? Their superstar guard got right to the point.

"Better than last year?" he said. "I would say yeah."

Good enough to beat the Heat?

That's the big question around Chicago these days after last season's brilliant run ended with a loss to Miami in the Eastern Conference finals. The Bulls led the league with 62 wins, only to come up short in the playoffs, and they're looking for more this time around.

If they're going to play for a championship, there's a good chance the road will go through South Beach. For now, the Bulls are rolling along.

They were second to Miami in the Eastern Conference with a 27-8 record after Wednesday's win over Milwaukee and in a good spot heading into the All-Star break. They had four more victories than they did through 35 games last season, even though Rose, Luol Deng and Richard Hamilton have missed time due to injuries.

"We find ways to win," Rose said. "Last year, it was new to everyone. This year, I think we're more comfortable with how (coach Tom Thibodeau) wants to play, knowing that he just wants us to go out there and play hard and play together all the time. This year, I think that we do that the majority of the time."

Not that it's been easy.

Besides the condensed schedule brought on by the lockout, they've played more road games than any team except Sacramento. They've gone with their projected starting lineup just five times because of injuries, yet the wins keep piling up.

The Bulls are 14-6 on the road, and they continue to get by even though they've been short-handed most of the year.

They were counting on Hamilton, who was signed him in the offseason, to take some of the pressure off Rose in the backcourt, but thigh and groin problems have limited the veteran guard to just 11 games.

Deng has dealt with a torn ligament in his left wrist but is headed to his first All-Star game. Rose has missed more games this season (10) than he did in his first three years combined (six) because of toe and back problems, but the league's reigning MVP declared himself pain-free on Wednesday. He said the pain in his lower back that caused him to miss five games recently is gone, and that is good news for a team that knows it's likely won't reach its ultimate goal without its superstar.

"It's the challenge that you face," Thibodeau said. "It's a lot more than just surviving. ... It comes down to the teams that are playing the best and are healthiest in the playoffs. I don't think you ever want to approach it where you're just trying to get through something. You want to improve. You want to do well. You have to always keep in mind what that ultimate goal is."

The Bulls are fourth in field-goal percentage (46.0), fifth in 3-point accuracy (38.3 percent), and lead the league in assists per game (23.26). They're outscoring opponents by an NBA-leading 9.45 points on average and outrebounding them by a larger margin (5.48) than any other team.

Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer seem to be feeding off each other more lately after they missed significant time last season because of injuries, and Bulls players insist they're more comfortable with each other and with Thibodeau than they were a year ago.

They've had time together. They experienced highs and lows last season — the Bulls' best since the 1990s championship era. They raised expectations — sent them soaring, actually — only to come up short against the Heat. And now, they're looking for more.

Are they better than they were last season?

"We'd like to think so," Deng said.

Are they good enough to win the Eastern Conference?

''All I know is, with what we have this year, I don't feel like we've peaked yet," Noah said. "We have to take it up another notch to win a championship."

-- Andrew Seligman

Sweet 17: Wolves have already matched last season

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — After two miserable seasons and four bad ones before that, the Minnesota Timberwolves had nowhere to go except up.

They're showing a lot more than marginal improvement.

The Timberwolves entered the All-Star break of this lockout-shortened season with a buzzer-beating win over division rival and Western Conference playoff competitor Utah to bring their record back to even at 17-17.

Wait. Playoffs? Yes, that's a reality for these remodeled, rejuvenated Wolves, who pulled within just one game of eighth place in the conference standings in this condensed 66-game schedule the NBA is using.

Seventeen wins is the same amount the Wolves finished with last year with, in 82 games. They've only played 34 times under new coach Rick Adelman with rookie point guard Ricky Rubio and emerging center Nikola Pekovic, and their confidence has continued to grow.

Before Wednesday's comeback victory over the Jazz, Adelman was asked if he thought at the beginning of the season Wolves could be where they are now in the standings.

"To be honest," Adelman said, "probably not."

He praised the performance of All-Star Kevin Love, who has added a dangerous 3-point shot to his rebounding prowess, inside scoring touch and exceptional passing ability. He pointed to Rubio's so-far successful takeover of the point guard position that has been such a problem for so many years in Minnesota. He noted Pekovic's sudden establishment of himself as an intimidating, productive big man to complement Love around the basket and stabilize another spot in the lineup that has long been devoid of reliable let alone dominant players.

Love described the situation recently as "landscape" change for a franchise with a moribund sandwich around the Kevin Garnett-led playoff years. Even then, when the Wolves went to the postseason eight straight times, they won only two playoff series — both in the same year.

"It is crazy to think about," Love said. "It's just a whole new feel for the team. Even in most of the games we've lost, it feels like we've had the upper hand and given ourselves a chance. I think that's the biggest thing for us as far as the learning curve, just giving ourselves a chance to win at the end of games and then figuring out how to win."

That was clear again Wednesday against Utah when, despite an off night for Love and Rubio, the Wolves rallied from a deficit that was consistently in the double digits and was still at 16 with a little more than 9½ minutes left. Luke Ridnour's runner in the lane won it in the last second.

That was the largest comeback win for Minnesota that late in a game, according to the team, in 15 years. The Wolves have five victories after double-digit-deficit rallies this season. The last time they were at the .500 mark or better at the All-Star break came in 2005, when they were 27-27.

"We'll see if we can keep this thing going," Adelman said.

The Wolves have four games in five days on the road next week, the first of several stiff tests that will come in the second half. They play both Los Angeles teams on back-to-back nights to start. Then there's a seven-game trip later in March.

"We're going to have to be playing well, and we're going to have to have a lot of guys stepping up if we're going to maintain what we're doing," Adelman said.

That starts at shooting guard, where the Wolves could use more a lot more production from Wes Johnson and Martell Webster. Rookie forward Derrick Williams is another obvious candidate for an upgrade in scoring, confidence in playing time down the stretch.

Williams, for his part, isn't scared of the spotlight. He grinned Wednesday before the Jazz game as he talked about his participation in the annual slam dunk contest this weekend, trying to keep his creative plans a secret. Rubio will be in Orlando for the festivities, too, to play in the rising stars game. Love will participate in the 3-point contest and of course the All-Star game itself.

Finding time to rest during a busy weekend will be even more important for those guys so they're ready for the second-half grind. But this is another one of those good problems to have, for a team that has had so much go wrong over the last several years.

"I think we should step up after this break, because we're going to feel a lot better," Pekovic said.

They already do.

-- Dave Campbell

Injured Nelson to miss Magic's game with Hawks

ATLANTA (AP) — Orlando Magic guard Jameer Nelson was not in the starting lineup Thursday night because of a strained left knee.

Chris Duhon was slated to start in Nelson's place against the Atlanta Hawks.

Coach Stan Van Gundy said that Nelson, who has started 28 games this season, was injured in the Magic's 108-91 victory Wednesday night at New Jersey.

Shooting guard Jason Richardson was listed among the starters despite discomfort in his chest. Van Gundy said that Richardson was not feeling well enough to participate in the team's shootaround Thursday morning.

Small forward Hedo Turkoglu has been battling flu-like symptoms, but was listed to start.

-- George Henry

Related NBA News

Ex-NBA player Crittenton freed from jail

RIVERDALE, Ga. (AP) — Former NBA player Javaris (jah-VAHR'-is) Crittenton has been freed from jail following his arrest on charges of obstructing a police officer and speeding.

Crittenton has been out on bond on charges that he killed a woman in south Atlanta. He faces a murder charge after police accused him of killing 23-year-old Jullian Jones during an August drive-by shooting. A message left for Crittenton's attorney Thursday was not immediately returned.

Crittenton was jailed Wednesday after being pulled over by police, who say he was speeding and refused to get out of his Porsche. Riverdale police Maj. Greg Barney says he was going more than 60 mph in a 45-mph zone.

Clayton County Jail records show that the former Washington Wizards player was released on bond on the latest charges Wednesday evening.


Mystics send Anosike to Sparks for two players

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Washington Mystics have acquired guard Natasha Lacy and forward LaToya Pringle Sanders from the Sparks in a trade that sends center Nicky Anosike to Los Angeles. The deal was announced Thursday.

Lacy, who is currently playing in Turkey, averaged 5.0 points, 2.2 rebounds and 1.7 assists in the WNBA last season, while Sanders averaged 3.9 points and 2.4 rebounds. Anosike averaged 9.6 points and 7.1 rebounds last season for Washington.

The Sparks also signed point guard Sharneé Zoll to a free agent contract. She has played in Europe the last four seasons, including the last two in Poland with current Sparks center Jantel Lavender.

Zoll was a three-time All-ACC selection at Virginia, where she broke Dawn Staley's school and league record for career assists.

International Men

Men's 1972 national team to reunite in Ky.

GEORGETOWN, Ky. (AP) — The 1972 U.S. men's national basketball team plans to reunite in August in Georgetown to remember the 40th anniversary of the Olympic Games in Munich, Germany.

Kenny Davis was captain of the 1972 team and is a Georgetown College alumnus. He says the reunion will be the first time the entire team has gotten back together when they meet for four days of events from Aug. 23-26.

Davis is now an account executive at Converse, which is sponsoring the anniversary celebration. The 1972 team fell to the Soviet Union in the gold medal game that the featured a controversial ending with three inbounds plays before Alexander Belov hit the winning layup.

The U.S. team voted not to accept the silver medal and did not attend the medal ceremony.

Five years for fatal beating of U.S. basketball player

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — A court in Romania has given a five-year prison sentence to the man accused of fatally beating American basketball player Chauncey Hardy in a bar last year. The court sentenced Ionut Adrian Tanasoaia late Wednesday. The ruling can be appealed.

Prosecutors said Tanasoaia punched Hardy on Oct. 9 in a bar in the southern town of Giurgiu, where the American was playing for the local team. Hardy fell on the floor, suffering severe brain injuries and two neck fractures. The 23-year-old basketball player died after surgery in a Bucharest hospital.

Hardy played basketball at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Conn.

24 Feb, 2012

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