Each weekday morning, BDL serves up a handful of NBA-related stories to digest with your egg rolls.
Buck Harvey, S.A. Express-News: "The previous time, Kevin Durant(notes) stood under the basket when Manu Ginobili(notes) flew out of bounds. This was in Oklahoma City. Then, in the final seconds, Ginobili's body was parallel to the ground. Durant watched as Ginobili threw a no-look pass that led to a win. This time convinced Durant. 'He's not normal,' Durant said. San Antonio knew this about Ginobili already. But in a season that's not normal, either, Wednesday brought out the one, skinny, left-handed chance the Spurs have at becoming more than first-round fodder. The evening began without many expectations. All Ginobili anticipated was the residue of the rodeo, but then he came out for warmups, seeing the AT&T Center floor for the first time since January, and he was mildly encouraged. 'It doesn't smell too bad,' he said."
Mike Baldwin, The Oklahoman: "For the first time since a Dec. 19 loss at Houston, Kevin Durant failed to score 25 points. Durant had 21 points through three quarters but went scoreless in the fourth quarter, going 0-of-4 from the field. 'It was good while it lasted,' Durant said. 'Teams in this league are too tough for my streak to continue to go on like it did. It was very cool while it lasted.' It was the second longest streak the past 35 years, trailing only Michael Jordan, who scored 25 or more points in 40 consecutive games in 1986-87. 'Any player would remember something like this,' Durant said. 'Now it's time to regroup and get ready for our next game.'"
Jeff Caplan, ESPNDallas.com: "One of the first things many people noted about Caron Butler(notes) is that he chews straws during games. It became such a hit that a local radio sports talk show host encouraged fans to come to Wednesday night's game against the Lakers bearing straws to show their support for their new Maverick. Apparently someone else took notice, too. NBA executive vice president Stu Jackson phoned Butler on Tuesday and told him to leave his straws at home. Butler did not play against the Lakers due to a reaction to medication, so he was unavailable for comment. But, the Mavs confirmed that the league is serious about outlawing straw chewing. 'It's against the rules,' Mavs owner Mark Cuban said."
Ross Siler, Salt Lake Tribune: "The Jazz were off Tuesday, but Carlos Boozer(notes) spent part of his afternoon appearing on ESPN's 'Jim Rome Is Burning.' The subject of Boozer's future in Utah, not surprisingly, was one of the topics covered in his interview. Boozer was asked how aggressive he thought the Jazz would be in re-signing him this summer as a free agent given the $32 million commitment the team made in matching Portland's offer sheet to Paul Millsap(notes) last summer. 'I hope very aggressive,' Boozer said. 'This is a team that I'm proud to be a part of and I hope it's an option for me to come back and stay. I've made that very clear and I'm really happy that we have a great team, we're a very deep team and we have a chance to stay good and hopefully get better as well. But this is a place I'd like to be and I hope the option is there for me this summer.'"
Todd Archer, The Dallas Morning News: "There was a lot made of what a win against the Lakers would mean for the Mavericks as they get closer to March. To get a win, especially without Caron Butler, who had a reaction to medication he took Tuesday, was a big moment for the Mavs but in the locker room afterward the tone was measured. 'I don't think anybody on this team is thinking, 'Man, we beat the Lakers,' ' center Brendan Haywood(notes) said. 'We expect to win. We expect to win big games. But when we go back to work and practice the focus is on Atlanta.' Rick Carlisle said 'too much will be made of it probably,' so I asked him if he had to deliver that message to his players. 'We have veterans,' Carlisle said. 'I just have to remind you guys.' So the Mavs are on to the next one, Friday at Atlanta."
Marc Berman, New York Post: "Tracy McGrady is sobering up to the realization there may be no fairy tales for him in New York this season. After an intoxicating Saturday night debut in which McGrady racked up 26 points in 32 minutes before an adoring Garden crowd, reality has struck the past two games. McGrady is dealing with a bruised left knee — the same knee that underwent microfracture surgery a year ago yesterday. T-Mac, so brassy in Friday's introductory press conference, lowered his own expectations following his tentative six-point, eight-shot outing in Boston Tuesday, reshifting his goals to staying healthy rather than being the Knicks' leading man. The Knicks are 0-3 with McGrady in the lineup. 'This is just all about trying to get myself back, getting up and down the court, being able to finish this year out,' said McGrady, who is averaging 15.7 points in three games. 'It's really not about my results. This is about physically and mentally getting through this season.'"
Jason Quick, The Oregonian: "Looks like the Trail Blazers signed the right free agent this summer after all. Nearly eight months after Hedo Turkoglu(notes) went back on his word and spurned the Trail Blazers' free agent offer in order to sign a similar deal with Toronto, the Blazers exacted a measure of revenge on Wednesday. And the player who led the Blazers to a 101-87 victory over Toronto was none other than Andre Miller(notes), the player who was not Plan B, but Plan C on the Blazers' free agent wish list. Miller had 18 points, 10 assists, seven rebounds, three steals and no turnovers to trump Turkoglu's near-perfect night when he scored 24 points on 8-of-9 shooting. 'Even though Andre may not have been the first choice, it has come down to him being the right choice,' Blazers star Brandon Roy(notes) said. 'The way he has been playing for us, he has been our most important guy because of how consistent he has been.'"
RealGM: "Real Madrid wants to sign Rudy Fernandez(notes) following the current season. Fernandez is reportedly uncomfortable in Portland and would be amenable to a return. Fernandez appeared open to the idea when interviewed by Eurosport. 'Right now, in this situation, I don't rule out anything,' said Fernandez. 'Because I just want to play. I don't mind where.' Fernandez spoke of the difference in not playing beside Sergio Rodriguez(notes). 'Last year we had a different team and at least I had Sergio, who understood my game. I have noticed a change this year. I don't get the ball as much and the system is different.'"
Mark Murphy, Boston Herald: "From Eddie House(notes) on Tuesday to Leon Powe(notes) tonight, the Garden crowd is suddenly toasting former members of the 2008 championship team on a nightly basis. But Powe, with his recovery from knee surgery, is sure to tug at an arena of heart strings. The irony is that the forward, activated for the first time during Cleveland's win over New Orleans Tuesday, could play his first game as a Cavalier against his old team tonight. Powe was admittedly stunned when the Celtics didn't make a qualifying offer last summer, though he recently said he doesn't harbor any ill will. 'It would be nice (just) to see him playing basketball,' C's coach Doc Rivers said yesterday. 'Having gone through a knee injury myself — and he's gone through it a couple of times — I know what he's had to go through. So I'm looking forward to him just playing basketball. To me it will be a success story in a lot of ways, because a lot of people told him he would never be able to play again. When I heard that the first time I said, you clearly don't know who Leon Powe is.'"
Anthony Cotton, The Denver Post: "During the tail end of a practice this week, nine Nuggets players worked diligently in the half court, but perhaps not as hard as the team's coaching staff. One assistant, Jamahl Mosley, was actually a participant in the drill; four others formed a half circle around the perimeter, with a fifth underneath the basket. Throughout the session, each Denver coach constantly hollered instructions, a cacophony of sound that, in more ways than one, explains how the team will cope during the absence of head coach George Karl. Undergoing treatment for throat cancer, Karl will miss his first game since the diagnosis, tonight at Golden State, as well as assorted other games and practices the rest of the season. As the longest-tenured Nuggets assistant, Adrian Dantley draws the moniker of interim coach when Karl is away but has plenty of help around him. The reality is that without Karl, everything about the Nuggets, from when the division-leading team takes the floor to end-of-game strategies, will be very much a collaborative effort. All assistants will have input."
Bud Shaw, The Plain Dealer: "When all is said and done, the Cavs will have traded a late first-round pick for a veteran starting forward who can stretch the floor and provide the second scoring option to LeBron James(notes) on some nights — in May and June if Mo Williams(notes) disappears in the postseason again. As for Zydrunas Ilgauskas(notes), there is no wink-wink deal between him and the Cavs. (Wink wink) Ilgauskas will almost certainly return when the rules allow ... unless there's a 'To-Do' list on his refrigerator that falls into NBA hands — 'No. 3: change furnace filter; No. 4: make prearranged deal with Danny to return' — the NBA can't prove anything. Ilgauskas deserves the support he's receiving in the interim from people who worry the Cavs are inviting bad karma with the release of such a class act. But in practical terms, Jamison will help the Cavaliers' effort to get past Boston and Orlando far more than Ilgauskas would have or will again. So the acquisition of Jamison brought a blip to the regular season. And that's a concern ... why?"
Brian Lewis, New York Post: "On a 5-52 Nets team stumbling toward the worst record in NBA history, there are precious few bright spots or silver linings. But one has been Courtney Lee(notes), both his recent return to form, and all the unseen hard work it took to achieve it. Lee scored a career-high 28 points in Tuesday's 102-93 loss to Portland, the clearest sign that he has broken out of his shooting slump, and interim coach Kiki Vandeweghe said Lee's revival has been more hard work than work of art. 'Courtney's been working on his shot - a lot.' Vandeweghe said. 'And I'm proud of him, because he's a classic example of somebody who just worked himself back into shooting well, into playing well.' In 13 games from Jan. 10 through Feb. 6, Lee averaged just 10.1 points on 43.2 percent shooting. But he has mustered three 20-point outings in the seven tilts since, averaging 16.4 on 48.4 percent from the floor. 'I think it really does help him on the defensive end to play the point guard,' Vandeweghe said. 'He's done it very well, and he seems to always have a good game when we do that.'"