Ball Don't Lie - NBA

I need to start waking up early to prepare for this monster, so each weekday morning, BDL will look at the morning papers/blogs to kill some time. We'll see how long this lasts.

Knicks Knation, NY Daily News: "Poor Eddy Curry. He sat on the giant blue physio-ball during a break from Monday’s practice and the ball exploded. Eddy fell and scraped his wrist but should be okay. The ball, which is used for stretching exercises, was pronounced dead at the scene. And it gets worse for Eddy. Barring injury or the best two weeks of practice of his life, Curry will not be a starter on opening night. Instead, Mike D’Antoni’s starting five appear to be set: Chris Duhon, Jamal Crawford, Quentin Richardson, David Lee and Zach Randolph."

Beyond The Arc: "Through the first three pre-season games, rookie O.J. Mayo struggled a little with his shot, going 14-41 from the floor and 2-14 from three-point line, a string of performances that didn’t look much like the deadly shooter seen in summer league and again in practice. But he found his stroke tonight. Mayo scored 26 points in 30 minutes on 10-17 shooting and 6-8 from downtown. Not only was every make a jumper, only one of the 17 attempts was from within seven feet of the basket, and it was technically a jumper. Mayo got in such a groove tonight, raining so many jumpers from all over the court, that it hit me with a bit of nostalgia for this beloved sneaker commercial from my childhood."

Thunder Rumblings: "Kevin Durant showed tonight why the NBA world says he’ll someday be great. He simply took over down the stretch, scoring 18 of the team’s final 25 points and had 20 of his 26 in the fourth quarter. But he was the complete package tonight, playing even more impressively on the defensive end and finishing with five rebounds, four assists, four steals, three blocks and only two turnovers in only 33 minutes. He blocked two shots in the final minute that secured the game. 'That’s one thing that coach wanted me to do, he pulled me to the side and told me I’ve got to be big on both ends,' Durant said. 'That’s what I tried to do with the help of my teammates. It was good to see everything clicking tonight for us.'"

Inside The Lakers: "The Lakers reached the NBA Finals last season with Vlad Radmanovic as their starter at small forward, remember? It's easy to forget when most of the attention this training camp has focused on whether Kobe Bryant, Trevor Ariza or Lamar Odom is best suited to starting in that spot. But after a couple weeks of tinkering, Lakers coach Phil Jackson has gone back to dancing with the small forward who brung him, starting Radmanovic in Sunday's exhibition victory over Sacramento and playing him with the first unit for extended stretches during practice. 'He's the starter,' Jackson said. 'Right now.'"

Marc Berman, New York Post: "It seems just a matter of time before Allan Houston is released and reassigned to the front office. Houston, 37, battling a quad strain, is out indefinitely. He will miss tonight's game against the Sixers and Friday's game in Boston. Houston, who has yet to play, revealed he pulled the quad muscle one week before training camp opened, keeping it a secret."

Eddie Sefko, Dallas Morning News: "In the NBA, opportunity never knocks when you want it to. It makes you wait. It arrives after getting slapped around a few times, after being told that you can't do something and after it seems like everybody else gets a chance. Then, somewhere along the line, players usually get a chance. Antoine Wright knows. [...] 'I'm really not penciled in yet — there's always an eraser,' Wright joked. 'Right now, I'm just trying to secure this position. There's still a lot left to do. But I feel good about it right now. [Defense] is what's going to keep me out there. Making shots, we got a lot of guys who can make shots. The most important thing is to have some presence on that end and be somewhat of a pest. That will keep me out there.'"

Kyle Hightower, Orlando Sentinel: "At times during the Magic's first three exhibition games, Coach Stan Van Gundy has taken a peak at some smaller line-ups. One such instance featured an alignment of guards Courtney Lee, Anthony Johnson and Mickael Pietrus, along with F Rashard Lewis and Battie. While the preseason usually breeds such experimentation, Van Gundy said he doesn't look at such scenarios as "small ball" when it comes to his team. 'I don't ever consider us that small because we have two 6-10 forwards,' he said. 'We do it as much as anyone. It helps you offensively because you can spread the floor out. The problem is ... we need everybody to take the rebounding load and we need Dwight [Howard] to dominate on the boards. If he's just good or pretty good, that won't be enough for us.'"

Mike Wells, Indianapolis Star: "Who said Indiana Pacers rookie center Roy Hibbert can't be effective on offense? Hibbert, the No. 17 pick in last summer's draft, had his best offensive game of the preseason, scoring 17 points against the Grizzlies on Monday. 'We really like Roy,' Pacers coach Jim O'Brien said. 'He works his heart out. He knows how to put the ball in the basket around the basket. We couldn't be happier with Roy right now.' Hibbert came out of Georgetown labeled as being primarily a defensive player. Hibbert will help the Pacers defensively — he had three blocked shots against the Grizzlies — but he'll also offer more. He had nine rebounds in 23 minutes."

Brian Hanley, Chicago Sun-Times: "[Ben] Gordon missed five of the seven exhibition games last year when the injury bug bit the Bulls and sowed some of the seeds of what would be a 2-10 start to a 33-49 season. Michael Ruffin (ankle) also remains out and Derrick Rose was excused from practice Monday because of the death of an uncle. 'Whenever you're not on the floor, you're going to get behind a little bit just because we're going to put things in on a daily basis now,'' Del Negro said. ''But it's nothing any of them aren't going to pick up. We just have to keep working every day and have to get everybody involved. The sooner we can get everybody on the court, the more productive we'll be.'''

George M. Thomas , Akron Beacon Journal: "[Coach Mike] Brown emphatically denied that guard Delonte West's continued training camp absence is contract-related. 'His contract is signed,'' Brown said. He fully expects West to return to the team. And when he does, [LeBron] James said the team will work with him to get him up to speed. 'We want him to take care of home first. We have enough guys, finally, where if one guy has to be out for a long period of time, someone else can step right in,' James said. 'But he's a big part of our team; we can't win a championship without Delonte West. Whenever he gets back, as players we're going to help him get to it.'"

Sekou Smith, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "Hawks coach Mike Woodson mentioned in passing this summer that he might tinker with his lineup and 'play big' if it fit his team’s needs. The need arose Monday night at Philips Arena when starting small forward Marvin Williams sprained his left thumb in the first quarter of the Hawks’ preseason home opener against Charlotte. Williams finished the half but didn’t play after halftime, forcing Woodson to come up with something that could shake his team up after a lackluster first-half effort. So he went with Zaza Pachulia at center — with Al Horford shifting over from center to power forward and Josh Smith from power forward to small forward — and watched his team wake up from that first-half slumber within the first few seconds of the third quarter."

Bergen Record: "Right now, including player opt-outs and team options, the Knicks could have about $15 million to spend in two years — space that extensions to Lee and Robinson could consume. Opt-outs (i.e. Curry, Crawford, Jeffries, the first two after this season) could create more space, but assuming they're still around, Walsh has to consider several other options. He could unload Randolph and/or Crawford. He could postpone the Lee and Robinson extensions (about which he said he's had preliminary talks) until next summer, but risk losing them as restricted free agents (with the Knicks having the right to match any offer). Or he could sign them to one-year qualifying offers that would make them unrestricted free agents in 2010."

Lisa Dillman, L.A. Times: "Flu season, or some close imitation of it, appears to have hit the Clippers a bit early. Marcus Camby, now sidelined because of a bruised right heel, sat out most of the first week of training camp because of flu-like symptoms. Then Baron Davis trudged off the court near the end of practice Monday looking somewhat flat."

Carroll Rogers, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "Growing up in Marietta, they called Shareef Abdur-Rahim "The Future." Having the kind of skills to wind up the third overall pick in the 1996 NBA draft tended to simplify what was coming. But over the past few months, for the first time in his life, Abdur-Rahim’s future wasn’t so clear anymore. An arthritic right knee forced him to retire after 12 seasons in the NBA last month. At age 31, he was faced with figuring out something else to do. 'My body just wasn’t going to let me do it anymore,' said Abdur-Rahim, who played only six games last season for Sacramento and never saw improvement despite two surgeries in six months. 'I guess that’s a good thing and a bad thing because otherwise I don’t know how I would determine when to retire.' The Kings made it a lot easier on him. As he mulled retirement, they offered him a chance to stay in the organization. Within 10 days of his retirement announcement, Abdur-Rahim was introduced as the newest member of Reggie Theus’ coaching staff."

Art Thompson III, Lakers Blog (OC Reg.): "One of the more lighthearted moments in the Lakers’ marathon-long practice Monday came when Kobe Bryant sailed down court for a lay-up and rookie Brandon Heath tried valiantly to keep stride. Heath made enough body contact on Bryant to cause the lay-up to be missed, as Bryant yelled, 'And one,' signifying that he was fouled. Bryant then added a stinging salvo, with a shout out to the 6-foot-3 Heath’s high school alma mater whose sports-teams nickname is Comets — 'You’re too small anyway, Westchester.'"

Mitch Lawrence, NY Daily News: "Sebastian Telfair will start the season on the sidelines due to a suspension that will be announced sometime before his Timberwolves open the season Oct. 29 against Sacramento. Telfair was sentenced last month to three years’ probation for misdemeanor possession of a loaded .45-caliber handgun, speeding and driving without a license in Westchester in April 2007. He was a member of the Celtics at the time of his arrest. Since his case has been resolved, his suspension by the NBA is automatic. The league needs only to determine how many games he’ll serve, with sources indicating it will be for a minimum of two."

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