Sam Khan Jr., Houston Chronicle: "Asked whether bringing back guard Tracy McGrady(notes) would be an option to deal with the void left in the starting lineup by Trevor Ariza's(notes) suspension, coach Rick Adelman said there has been no change in his approach to the situation. 'That's something I haven't thought about,' he said. 'We've been talking about a lot of things. Tracy's situation is what it has been.'" [...] 'We've been battling through adversity since I got here,' forward Carl Landry(notes) said. 'Without Yao and Tracy being on the team this year, guys just have to step up. If that's Jermaine Taylor(notes), if it's me, if it's Chase (Budinger), whoever it is, guys just have to step up and make plays. We're going to hurt a little bit without (Ariza) being here, but I'm sure the guys on the team are ready to pick up the weight that (will be) lost with him not playing.'"
Michael Wallace, The Miami Herald: "A day after the Heat absorbed its worst beating of the season, guard Dwyane Wade(notes) still wasn't on speaking terms with his teammates. 'Nah,' Wade said Monday when asked if he had any words at practice after he took a listen-only stance in the locker room following Sunday's 28-point home loss to Memphis. 'It was all Coach [Erik Spoelstra] speaking. I let Coach come in and do his job.' Wade isn't ignoring his teammates. He just doesn't feel the need to stand before them and deliver a fiery speech for motivation. He has done it before. It's all about action now. An hour after the frustration, embarrassment and sting of the Heat's worst loss of the season had set in Sunday, Wade told reporters that everyone on the roster should go home, spend time looking in the mirror and take a deep inventory of themselves. When he got to practice Monday, the reflection of his team still didn't quite come into focus."
Elliott Teaford, L.A. Daily News: "Kobe Bryant participated in the Lakers' practice Monday morning in El Segundo, then joined his teammates for their chartered flight to the Midwest to resume their first extended trip of the season. He showed no signs of the stomach ailment that slowed him Saturday. A team spokeswoman said Bryant was 'back to his old self.' Bryant's fractured right index finger is still fractured, however. [...] Bryant injured his finger while reaching for a pass from teammate Jordan Farmar(notes) in the closing minutes of the first quarter Friday. He also has been playing with a damaged right pinkie since injuring it against the New Jersey Nets in a Feb. 5, 2008, game."
Gary Washburn, The Boston Globe: "The disparity between the haves and the have-nots is shrinking and last night was a prime example of how a capable, young, athletic team can push the aging Celtics. The Grizzlies would probably edge the Oklahoma City Thunder in the under-25 championship. Coach Lionel Hollins ran so many budding prospects at the Celtics it seemed as if there were some Memphis Tigers on the court. Youngster after the youngster took their opportunity to wear down the Celtics, but they couldn't. Boston has supreme confidence in closing down the stretch and that's the primary difference between the haves and have nots. The growing teams aren't precise in their execution in the waning minutes of games but the Grizzlies were impressive down the stretch."Philadelphia Daily News: "Fired up by all the physical play, [Dwight] Howard overcame a slow start to finish with 21 points and 23 rebounds, powering the Orlando Magic past the visiting Pacers, 106-98, last night. 'I don't enjoy it,' Howard said. 'But I just have to remain patient, remain calm and try not to get frustrated.' Howard endured hard-hitting fouls and a Pacers team determined not to let him dunk. He went 4-for-9 from the field, still struggled with free throws but helped Orlando snap its two-game losing skid with some physical play in the paint. He was hit so much that Magic coach Stan Van Gundy was critical of the officials, again saying Howard is not getting the same calls as perimeter players such as Cleveland's LeBron James(notes) and Los Angeles' Kobe Bryant(notes). 'If you're going to continue to hit him around the head and grab him around the neck, look I don't care, those are flagrant fouls,' Van Gundy said. 'I don't care who you are, you're only going to take that for so long. It's absurd what's going on.'"
Jerry Zgoda, Minneapolis Star Tribube: "This is Dec. 15, the first day this season that NBA teams are allowed to trade players they signed as free agents last summer. 'I didn't know about that,' Wolves point guard Ramon Sessions(notes) said Monday. 'I didn't even know that was a rule.' Theoretically, Sessions and center Ryan Hollins(notes) become eligible Tuesday under the rule that says players can't be traded until Dec. 15 or 90 days after they signed, whichever date is later. Sasha Pavlovic becomes eligible to be included in a deal Thursday, and veteran Jason Hart(notes) on Dec. 28. ESPN.com recently listed Sessions No. 5 on a Top 5 list of recently signed free agents most likely to be traded this season and suggested Wolves boss David Kahn signed him as an asset to be 'flipped' sometime this season."
RealGM/Detroit Free-Press: "Pistons guard Richard Hamilton(notes) is impressed with how coach John Kuester has handled all of the team's injuries. Detroit is 11-12 and riding a five-game winning streak despite lengthy injuries to Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince(notes) and Ben Gordon(notes). 'He really showed he can coach with the guys out on the floor,' Hamilton said Monday. 'That says a whole lot, and you give a whole lot of credit to Q. Seeing the guys he had out there, they still played hard and got some wins.' Kuester credits the players and the team's president of basketball operations, Joe Dumars. 'There's no question in my mind that the reason we've had some success is the players,' Kuester said. 'The players have done a great job of buying into what we're trying to get accomplished. Our staff has done a great job. Joe has assembled a group of people that continually get better.'"
Dave D'Alessandro, The Star-Ledger: "And then, just when you thought it couldn't get worse, you get this: Nets versus LeBron. As is often the case with circumstances such as these, you wonder whether the schedule-maker has a warped sense of timing. Or think of it this way: In their last three games, the Nets have essentially turned into the laissez-faire defenders of '08-09, yielding an average of 114 points on 50 percent shooting, while making stars out of the likes of C.J. Watson(notes), Tyler Hansbrough(notes), and Mo Evans. Now they've got to deal with LeBron James, perhaps the most perfectly engineered offensive specimen the sport has ever seen, and one who has averaged 36.7 points in his last four games. Maybe the first step is admitting you have a problem. 'Oh, man, we've regressed. Definitely regressed,' Keyon Dooling(notes) said Monday ... 'We have to get back to concentrating on that. I think when guys were down, those eight or nine guys that we had really defended because they struggled to score. So they had to really defend. Now the thing for us is to carry over that defense with the (returning) offensive players.'"
Mike Bresnahan, L.A. Times: "Not since the lockout-condensed NBA schedule in 1999 have the Lakers had such a rush of back-to-back attacks. The fun begins anew tonight at Chicago and Wednesday at Milwaukee, continuing Saturday at New Jersey and Sunday at Detroit. Some other notable double dips over the next eight weeks: Christmas Day at home against Cleveland followed by an immediate departure to Sacramento for a Dec. 26 game; back-to-back lung-burners against run-and-gun teams Phoenix and Golden State (Dec. 28-29); two sides of the Texas triangle in San Antonio and Dallas (Jan. 12-13); an eight-game Eastern trip that begins in Cleveland and New York (Jan. 21-22) and ends with an electrifying starter at Boston (Jan. 31) and a potential trap game the next night at Memphis; and a home game against Denver (Feb. 5) followed by a visit to their personal house of horrors, Portland. It's all part of the penance they pay for a schedule in which they played 17 of their first 21 games at home."
Note: Sorry for the late start today, guys. I'm feeling very H1N1-y.
- Kobe Bryant