Suicide lines: New nickname for Vince; preseason punches

J.E. Skeets
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Each weekday morning, Ball Don't Lie serves up a handful of NBA-related stories to digest with your bone marrow.

Brian Schmitz, Orlando Sentinel: "Magic center Dwight Howard(notes) has coined a new nickname for Vince Carter(notes), who was called 'Half-Man, Half-Amazing' in his high-flying, younger years. Laughed Howard, 'He's now 'Half-Man, Half-Retired.' 'He's not the Toronto Raptors Vince Carter who was dunking on seven-footers, but he's still one of the league's best players.' Carter, the eight-time all-star acquired in a trade this summer, showed flashes in his Magic debut Monday night as Orlando opened their preseason with a 110-105 victory against the Dallas Mavericks at American Airlines Arena. Expected to provide go-to scoring, Carter led the Magic with 21 points, although he made just 7-of-18 shots and sat out the fourth quarter."

A. Sherrod Blakely, MLive.com: "Detroit Pistons rookie Jonas Jerebko(notes) and the Miami Heat's Jamaal Magloire(notes) were ejected with 5:04 to play in Monday's preseason game for throwing punches. Both players likely will face additional league punishments that might include a suspension. The incident occurred when both players were going for a rebound. Their arms got tangled, and as both were falling toward the floor, Magliore landed a blow to Jerebko's face. As they hit the ground, Jerebko landed a blow to Magloire's face. 'He got me on the nose, and I got him back,' Jerebko said. 'What can I say?'"

NetsDaily: "The NBA's background check of Mikhail Prokhorov is already underway and says David Stern, such checks get done quickly. 'It takes a few months at the most,' he told the BBC in London. Speaking again about foreign investment in NBA clubs, Stern said it would be 'jingoistic' not to accept foreign owners. 'What I continue to see as a trend is a global flow of investment into sport properties,' says Stern."

Doug Smith, Toronto Star: "[Jose] Calderon knows full well many eyes will be focused on him as the eight-game exhibition season unfolds. He's the first to admit he was a defensive liability at times last season, with his mobility greatly impaired by the hamstring injury that nagged him for the final three months. But he said he hasn't felt this healthy and fresh going into a season since he joined the Raptors — this was the first summer he hadn't played for Spain in a decade — and he's got time to work on the new plays the team's putting in. And the new guys. 'It really isn't that difficult, you just have to be concentrating,' he said. 'You just need to learn each other, where everyone likes to go.' Calderon is also working on some new offence that Triano's starting to put it. It's all very rudimentary right now — the coach isn't about to give away all his new wrinkles early in the pre-season — but there might be less reliance on the screen-roll this year."

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Benjamin Hochman, The Denver Post: "In the past decade, only one Western Conference team did what the Nuggets are trying to do this season. The stars aligned above, fittingly, for the Suns in 2005, and three of their players competed in the NBA All-Star Game. As for Denver, if Carmelo Anthony(notes) and Chauncey Billups(notes) play as well as they did last last season, they will be headed to Dallas. But who's the third? 'Shaq is gone, Yao is out,' Nuggets coach George Karl said. 'This is the year of opportunity for Nene.' [...] all signs point to him joining Denver's all-star constellation. He's coming off his best season as a pro and gained valuable postseason experience in helping the Nuggets advance to the Western Conference finals, averaging 14.6 points and 7.8 rebounds. He also finished second in the NBA in shooting (60.4 percent)."

Bob Cooney, Philadelphia Daily News: "The Sixers can't stand one another on the basketball court right now. Elton Brand(notes) is sick of being guarded by Jason Smith(notes), who is sick of getting banged around by Brand. Willie Green(notes) is tired of getting double-teamed in fullcourt traps from Lou Williams and Andre Iguodala(notes). If Marreese Speights(notes) takes one more charge from Sam Dalembert or Smith or Primoz Brezec(notes), he just might snap. And Jrue Holiday's(notes) head is just spinning with information overload. Maybe there's some exaggeration there, but almost to a player, the feeling was that, after nine practices in 6 days, it was past time to play some hoops against somebody not wearing a Sixers' practice jersey. 'It's definitely time to play somebody else,' said Holiday, a rookie. His wish will be granted, as the team left yesterday for back-to-back exhibition games against the Raptors, tonight in London, Ontario, then tomorrow in Toronto."

John Reid, The Times-Picayune: "After seven training camp practices, New Orleans Hornets rookies Darren Collison(notes) and Marcus Thornton(notes) have shown flashes of their offensive skills and versatility. But with the Hornets opening their preseason schedule Wednesday at Atlanta, they both want to show more as backups. With evaluations ongoing, Hornets Coach Byron Scott said Collison is further along at this point than Thornton. 'Darren is a little further along with knowing the offense,' Scott said. 'But both of those guys have made leaps and bounds from Day 1. If they can do this for the next six or seven practices, we'll be in good shape before we start the season.'"

Lisa Dillman, Los Angeles Times: "It takes a village to raise a free-throw shooting percentage. Or something like that. But advice and affirmation from learned elders and helpful teammates can go only so far when you are flirting with sub-Shaq-like numbers. The Clippers' DeAndre Jordan(notes), mindful of the grim 38.5% free-throw shooting in his rookie season, got his 6-foot-11 self into the gym in the summer. And stayed in the gym. 'I'm working on my free throws. A lot, a lot,' Jordan said. 'At the beginning of the summer, I had to make 10 in a row after I worked out to actually leave. The first couple of days it was tough. I would be here, like, an hour. I'd get to nine, like, eight times and missed the 10th in a row, like twirling the ball out. I'd be kicking a ball all the way over there. I'd have to stick with it and the time would get shorter and shorter.' He went six for nine from the line Sunday in the Clippers' opening preseason game at Oakland ..."

Mark Murphy, Boston Herald: "Bill Walker is another of those great positive thinkers. Mere days after having the fourth knee surgery of his young life, the 21-year-old Celtics [team stats] forward said yesterday that the recovery process 'is going to be one of the easiest rehabs I've had. Of all my injuries, this is going to be the easiest one.' Doctors have told Walker, who turns 22 on Friday, that recovery will take 6-8 weeks, but Walker has a shorter period in mind until his return to the court. 'Four weeks,' he said, jaw set, during a visit to the team's Waltham practice facility for treatment. After so many interruptions to his pro basketball career, Walker's frustration level could understandably hit an overflow level. 'It gets a little frustrating, but I can't control it,' he said. 'Whatever happens, I just have to keep a clear head and get through it.'"

Sam Amick, Sacramento Bee: "The lesson was about as simple as the solution. Which was a credit to Jason Thompson(notes), really. His game is so obvious, so old school, that anything less than the norm stands out like a center running the fast break. So when the Kings' second-year forward struggled in the first two summer league games in July and had many wondering why he couldn't dominate the lesser competition, he knew exactly why. The buffed-out body he had been working on had simply grown too big. 'The focus throughout the summer was to get stronger, so I was putting on good muscle but I wasn't eating right,' he said this week. 'I took (advantage) of someone telling me to have an offseason after playing 82 games as a rookie. I might have taken it a little too far, so now I know how to prepare myself.' It hasn't been a problem this preseason, though, as the 250-pound Thompson is 10 pounds leaner and looking meaner again entering tonight's exhibition debut against the Trail Blazers ..."

Eddie Sefko, The Dallas Morning News: "Josh Howard will [...] miss a couple more exhibition games. Considering he hasn't played in any scrimmages yet, it's not surprising he's sitting. He's coming back from left ankle and left wrist surgeries in the off-season. 'He won't play a game for a while,' coach Rick Carlisle said. 'He's made steady progress and lifted up the amount of stuff he's doing and how aggressive he is. But he has not participated in any live drills, like five-on-five things. He hasn't actually played in a scrimmage yet. We're getting closer to that, but I don't know exactly when that's going to happen. The hope is that he can play toward the latter part of exhibition season.'"

Peter Vecsey, New York Post: "Love what's going on with Golden State. Stephen Jackson(notes) is demanding a trade and Monta Ellis(notes) says he and Stephen Curry(notes) are too small to play alongside each other in the backcourt. Now forward Brandon Wright, who was outplaying Anthony Randolph(notes), needs shoulder surgery and is out indefinitely. The Warriors have a great future behind them. At dinner Friday night I asked Walsh who he would have selected had he been able to acquire the fourth or fifth spot in last June's draft: Curry or Ricky Rubio(notes)? 'Curry,' he answered without a pause. 'Not only is he a great shooter but he can get his shot on anyone. Opponents look at his baby face and figure they can manhandle him. Meanwhile he tore up every top-rated guard he went up against at our workout, including Tyreke Evans(notes), who might be the best player in the draft next to Blake Griffin.'"(notes)

Jorge Sierra, HoopsHype: "While [Jerry] Stackhouse worked out with the Hawks late in the summer — to rave reviews from beat writer Sekou Smith — Atlanta was never a very serious option for him. There was some contact with Houston, according to Stackhouse, but the Tar Heel is mostly looking to join a contender, which obviously the Rockets are not at this point. 'That's my final goal. I'm trying to catch on with a team that's close to winning a championship. I think after all my years in Dallas I have proved that I can accept a role and still help a team.' Even though not ready to retire, Stackhouse says he's contemplating some other options for when his playing days are over — mostly broadcasting and coaching. 'I definitely want to be around the game. Being able to be work with young guys and help them develop, I would have a blast doing that.'"