Ball Don't Lie - NBA

Each weekday morning, BDL serves up a handful of NBA-related stories to digest with your BiGG MiXX.

AP: "Iverson returned to action this past weekend after missing 16 games with a back injury, and coach Michael Curry has used him off the bench the last three games. Iverson complained about his minutes on Tuesday after playing 18 against Cleveland. He admitted that he does not like the new role after playing 17 in a 111-98 loss to the Nets on Wednesday. 'I'm in a position now that I've never been in my whole life,' Iverson said. 'It's harder than I thought it would be. With the back injury, I have to sit out at the start, then go in, then sit again. It's tough to really get going. I take my hat off to the guys who can come off the bench and be effective. It's tough for me. I'm struggling with it. I'd rather retire before I do this again. I can't be effective playing this way. I'm not used to it. It's tough for me both mentally and physically. If I'm able to go out there, I should be able to get it done and I can't right now. It's my fault. I have to be able to overcome the adversity and do what I have to do. I just have to find a way to get it done.'"

Tim MacMahon, The Dallas Morning News: "[Josh] Howard gutted it out on a gimpy ankle to play 29 terrific minutes, scoring 20 points and playing inspired, outstanding defense in the win over the Heat. He punctuated the performance by drawing a charge on Mario Chalmers with seconds remaining, just the kind of glue-guy play Howard used to give the Mavs on a regular basis — and must come up with consistently to give Dallas any chance of making a playoff run. But the good deed didn't go unpunished. Howard landed on his left wrist, which has been bothering him all season. 'This watch is making it feel a whole lot better,' Howard said, dismissing a question about the pain in his wrist by showing off some bling. He'll have to get some more traditional medical treatment to be able to play Friday night in Memphis."

Dave Feschuk, Toronto Star: "The Magic pulled the cruelest of April Fool's Day pranks on an unsuspecting victim last night. The blindfolded fan heaved a half-court shot that he thought was worth $100,000 (U.S.), and the crowd, in on the gag, went wild in the moments after he let it go. Convinced he'd swished the improbable shot and won the cash, the victim celebrated wildly. 'I actually just got laid off from work,' he said, 'but we're going on a trip.' When the rug was pulled, he did not look pleased."

Kevin Ding, OC Register: "The truth is, there really isn’t much going on with Andrew Bynum these days. He’s strengthening and working out and having no setbacks as he rehabilitates his knee. He is on a conservative track to play the last couple of regular-season games: at home against Memphis (yikes ... the team he was facing both times he got hurt) on April 12 and at home against Utah on April 14. Bynum nevertheless is getting a lot of attention in an absence-makes-the-heart-grow-fonder way. Meanwhile, Pau Gasol has a lot going on. Gasol had a ton going on in the fourth quarter to spare his team and all its fans an awful wretched feeling right now from three consecutive losses. I didn’t even mention in my column his big offensive rebound tip-out with 26 seconds left after Kobe Bryant missed a jumper with the Lakers up by three points. He’s basically working his tail off to a crazy degree. It’s too bad that Gasol has sort of been taken for granted the past two months while everyone pines for Bynum’s return. Make no mistake: Gasol has been incredibly valuable, and Bynum has a long way to go before he can threaten Gasol’s standing as the Lakers’ No. 2."

Tim Buckley, Deseret News: "Jazz coach Jerry Sloan seemed to run out of patience Tuesday night. And it wasn't just with referees. Rather, it was with a couple of his younger guys — namely starting shooting guard Ronnie Brewer and starting small forward C.J. Miles. Sloan — whose Jazz lost Tuesday at Portland and visit Denver tonight — subbed in two veterans, shooting guard Kyle Korver and small forward Andrei Kirilenko, earlier than usual in Tuesday's opening quarter. It was just six minutes and 45 seconds into the game, in fact, when Sloan went with the two 28-year-olds over 24-year-old Brewer and 22-year-old Miles. Sloan had some choice words at the bench for both, but seemed especially bothered by the job Brewer was doing on Trail Blazers All-Star Brandon Roy."

Chris McCosky, The Detroit News: "[Rasheed] Wallace served his league-mandated one-game suspension Wednesday against the Nets after he picked up his 16th technical foul Tuesday. He will be suspended for every other subsequent technical foul. This issue is, will Wallace continue to come off the bench for the rest of the season and into the playoffs. 'It's definitely an option,' Curry said. 'I liked 'Sheed coming off the bench (in Cleveland). It helps that (second) unit, especially when we're small with Will and Allen playing together. They need someone like Sheed or maybe (Antonio) McDyess on the court with them.' Factoring into the decision is the recent resurgence of Kwame Brown. He has played 20 or more minutes over the last 10 games, and in that span, the Pistons are outrebounding their opponents by 4.7 per game."

Geoffrey C. Arnold, The Oregonian: "Opponents have noticed a different [Kevin] Durant this season. He is not content simply to jack up three-point shots. He is shooting 48 percent from the field, and his three-point percentage has increased from 29 percent last season to 43 percent. 'Last year, he took a lot of shots -— in a lot of ways he was forced to,' [Brandon] Roy said. 'Now, he's not taking as many shots and he's more effective. He's taking and making more timely shots.' In addition, Durant is expanding his game. His rebounding average has increased by more than two, and his assist average is up slightly. 'He is hitting the boards and trying to play better defense,' Utah forward Andrei Kirilenko said. 'Those little things definitely make him a much better player.'"

Darnell Mayberry, The Oklahoman: "To describe his road to recovery, [Shaun] Livingston used the adjectives 'long,' 'enduring' and 'challenging.' Doctors didn’t clear him to resume basketball activities until June 2008. He started this season with Miami but played in only four games, averaging 2.3 points and 1.0 assist in 10.3 minutes. The Heat traded him to Memphis in January, but the Grizzlies waived him the same day. Livingston was then signed by the Tulsa 66ers, the Thunder’s NBA D-League affiliate, on March 7 and averaged 9.5 points, 6.0 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 29.4 minutes in 11 games. 'The biggest thing is I’m showing flashes,' Livingston said. 'It’s going to be a process. I don’t think [the knee] is going to be 100 percent until possibly next season. But for me to show flashes, that’s big for me, because it shows what I can do if it gets stronger and better in due time.'"

Michael Wallace, The Miami Herald: "One day he’s done for the season and the next he isn’t. When Luther Head broke a bone in his left hand Monday against the Orlando Magic, word was he would miss the next four to six weeks. But now the HEAT aren’t willing to count Head out just yet. Head — who was signed by Miami after being waived by the Houston Rockets in late February — was scheduled to meet Wednesday with doctors in Miami to determine whether surgery was necessary to repair the injury. 'We'll see how it turns out,' head coach Erik Spoelstra said. 'Nothing's set yet.' The team should have an injury update on Head in the coming days."

Michael Lee, Washington Post: "First it was Gilbert Arenas. Now it’s Brendan Haywood. Hawyood returned for the Washington Wizards on Wednesday night, finishing with two points, two rebounds and three blocks in 24 minutes in the Wizards loss to the Memphis Grizzlies, 112-107. It was his first game back in nearly a year. He had been sidelined after right wrist surgery. 'That was a little rust,' Haywood said. 'My timing was definitely off. Games move faster than they did in practice. I had to get used to it.' As for Arenas, he did not play. The Wizards continue to list him as a game time decision, and have said they will not play him in back-to-back situations."

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