Ball Don't Lie - NBA

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

Jason Quick, The Oregonian: "A delirious sellout crowd watched as the Blazers built leads as large as 30 points against the NBA's best team, but for roughly 10 minutes at the end of the third quarter they stood silent as Blazers rookie Rudy Fernandez lay motionless on the court after Trevor Ariza fouled him from behind on a fast-break layup. Fernandez left the arena in a neck brace on a stretcher, and Ariza was ejected. 'We played hard for him,' said Brandon Roy, who led all scorers with 27 points. Blazers coach Nate McMillan said he was told Fernandez would be OK, and that he had full movement of his extremities. Late Monday, the team said Fernandez suffered a soft-tissue injury to his upper right chest. He remained in an area hospital overnight and is listed as questionable for Wednesday's home game against Dallas."

Elliott Teaford, Inside The Lakers: "Trevor Ariza on his flagrant-2 foul that knocked Portland's Rudy Fernandez to the floor and sent him to the hospital with a soft tissue injury to his chest: 'I was trying to go for the ball, trying to make a play on the ball. Unfortunately somebody got hurt.' Ariza on the Trail Blazers' reaction to his foul and the scuffle that followed: 'That's one of their teammates. If it were one of my teammates, I'd probably do the same thing. I know there are no hard feelings. they were just protecting a teammate.' Lamar Odom on whether he left the bench area to act as peacemaker: 'I stayed on the bench. I stood up, but I stood right there. I didn't go nowhere.'"

Sam Smith, Bulls.com: "The latest victim of the faltering economy: NBA free agency 2010. Because of the changing economic landscape with the salary cap expected to decline substantially after this season and the possibility, raised at the All-Star game by union chief Billy Hunter and NBA commissioner David Stern, that the Collective Bargaining Agreement could be re-opened, some agents are starting to consider urging their big name clients to seek a contract extension this summer rather than opting for free agency in such uncertain times. The growing likelihood now, say a growing number of NBA observers, is the big time free agents slated for 2010 are more likely to re-sign with their teams this summer than risk waiting and perhaps facing potentially massively reduced contract amounts and contract lengths."

Benjamin Hochman, The Denver Post: "What is going on? The Nuggets, once the darlings of the Western Conference elite, have lost eight of their past 11 games after Monday night's maddening 97-95 loss to the Houston Rockets at the Pepsi Center. 'It's just tough times right now,' said forward Carmelo Anthony, the last player in the Denver locker room, nearly an hour after the final buzzer. 'I can't really pinpoint what's going on.' Coach George Karl called it 'an acceptable loss' because the Nuggets (40-25) were down by as many as 12 in the fourth quarter before battling back, suddenly playing like the Nuggets of January (or December, or November)."

Mike Wells, Indianapolis Star: "The Indiana Pacers are losing about $30 million this season and cannot continue to shoulder the millions of dollars it costs to operate Conseco Fieldhouse. That was the announcement Monday to the Capital Improvement Board from CIB Vice President Pat Early, who has been in discussions with team officials about the financial problems both organizations face. Operating Conseco Fieldhouse costs the Pacers roughly $15 million a year. If the team can't make those payments, it would fall to the CIB, which already is struggling with a budget shortfall of $20 million this year. [...] Early said the team has told him it has lost money in all but two of the 28 years the Simons have owned the team."

Britt Robson, SOTC: "Yet another numbing loss for the Wolves tonight, a home defeat against one of the precious few NBA teams with an inferior record. It strikes me that this team can't play defense at all if it goes small (Washington shot 52.6% and the centers and larger power forwards (Collins, Shelden Williams and Madsen) didn't get off the bench. Darius Songalia went 8-9 FG. Should the Wolves ever play big and slow and hope to make some stops or should they just rely on smallball and pace and hope to win shootouts? To what extent does opponent matchups, fostering bad habits, developing young talent, etc, factor into your thinking here? On a similar note, is it just me or have all the roles gone out the window? Is there is pecking order for go-to shots? For who gets the most touches or initiates the action in the half court sets? If so, what is it?"

K.C Johnson, Chicago Tribune: "Luol Deng is no longer day-to-day. The Bulls confirmed that Deng will be sidelined at least two more weeks with a small stress fracture in his right tibia, at which time Deng will be re-evaluated. 'If he has pain then, he gets more rest,' coach Vinny Del Negro said. 'If he doesn't have pain, he'll probably try to go.' Surgery and a three-month rehabilitation process remains a possibility. Deng received his latest plan of action Monday after the fifth-year forward confirmed a Tribune report that he consulted with Dr. John Zvijac, the orthopedic surgeon for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who owns extensive experience in treating tibial stress fractures. 'I knew I had a small fracture,' Deng said. 'All I wanted to know was how do I take care of it and how soon I could be back and when I could be effective.'"

HOOPSWORLD / Real GM: "Knicks rookie Danilo Gallinari claims that he will workout in the United States this summer in an attempt to avoid slimming down. 'For sure I'm going to work out a lot to be better, better and better,' said Gallinari. ''Work' is the only word I know to get better. I'm going to work out here (instead of in Italy). If I go back to Italy, it will just be for vacation.' Gallinari, who is currently listed at 6-10, 225 pounds, has been limited at times this season because of back issues."

Ivan Carter, Washington Post: "With each passing day, it's becoming increasingly unlikely that Wizards fans are going to see Gilbert Arenas and/or Brendan Haywood in uniform before the regular season ends April 15 at Boston. Following Monday's game at Minnesota, the Wizards have 18 games left and there is no indication that either Arenas, who has missed the entire season because of a left knee injury that has plagued him since April 2007, or Haywood, who has been out since injuring his right wrist during the last week of training camp, is close to seeing game action. [...] According to sources, team president Ernie Grunfeld would prefer to see both veterans back before the season ends as long as they are medically cleared, but at least one Wizard, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said he doesn't expect to see Arenas again until training camp opens in October."

Rick Bonnell, Charlotte Observer: "Charlotte Bobcats general manager Rod Higgins just confirmed the team will sign Dontell Jefferson, a point guard in the NBA's developmental league, to a 10-day contract Wednesday. Jefferson is averaging 18.6 points, 5.5 assists and 4.9 rebounds for the D-League's Utah franchise. The Bobcats have an open roster spot, so nothing must be done to clear space for Jefferson. The Bobcats will wait until Wednesday, when the team returns from a road trip to San Antonio, to avoid wasting days of Jefferson's 10-day. Tuesday he wouldn't be able to practice, and there's little reason to think he'd play versus the Spurs."

Sekou Smith, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "Word that Marvin Williams could be out for weeks with a lower back injury swept through the Hawks’ locker room like a storm before Monday’s game against New Orleans at Philips Arena. 'Man, that’s a tough pill to swallow right there,' Hawks captain and All-Star Joe Johnson said. 'Every time we get over one hurdle it seems like another one pops up.' Williams sustained the injury late in Saturday’s home win over Detroit and was held out the entire fourth quarter. He is scheduled to see specialists this week, Hawks coach Mike Woodson said, and his status will not be updated until after those visits."

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