Ball Don't Lie - NBA

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

Jonathan Feigen, Houston Chronicle: "This one won't take a lot of time studying the tape. Trevor Ariza(notes) tried to hit DeMar DeRozan(notes). It is difficult to guess why, unless it was some sort of UCLA-USC thing. DeRozan did not do anything to Ariza, other that steal the ball. But Ariza was 0 for 9 and wildly frustrated, so he took a swing. Naturally, he missed. That should be an easy call for Stu Jackson in the NBA office. Expect a one-game suspension. With that, there should be 39 minutes up for grabs for some small forward/shooting guard type to step in and assume."

Mike Bresnahan, L.A. Times: "Losses don't happen often to the Lakers, but there's often something interesting to come out of them. After their 102-94 defeat Saturday against the Utah Jazz, forward Pau Gasol(notes) wanted more touches. He made a plea for more action in the post after being asked how it felt to collect 20 rebounds for a second consecutive game. 'I'm just being active, pursuing the ball,' he said. 'I don't get many looks offensively, so I've got to get my offensive rebounds. Otherwise, I'll get five shots during the game. I'm trying to get my looks there, and I work hard and stay active and do what I can.' Good thing for him that he's rebounding a lot. Gasol's back-to-back rebounding efforts made him only the third Lakers player in the last 14 years to take 20-plus rebounds in consecutive games, joining Lamar Odom(notes) and Vlade Divac. Gasol made six of 11 shots in almost 43 minutes. He had nine offensive rebounds. So are teammates not looking for him or is he being thwarted by double-teams? 'A little bit of everything, I guess.'"

Michael Wallace, The Miami Herald: "The groundings and poundings at AmericanAirlines Arena continued Sunday, with the Memphis Grizzlies delivering a 118-90 blow to hand the Heat its fourth loss in a row at home. [...] Heat coach Erik Spoelstra didn't emerge from the locker room until 35 minutes after the game ended, and only after his players had a chance to clear the air of its foul play Sunday. 'There were so many emotions going through me, I was careful not to say too much — or something I would regret,' Spoelstra said. 'I let them go first. Everybody feels embarrassed by this. Nobody wants this kind of result on the home court. When there's adversity, all it's about right now is responding to this.' The Heat responded much better in the locker room than it did in the loss, although guard Dwyane Wade(notes) had little to say to the team after his team-high 25 points came in vain. 'I didn't say a word. I let the guys talk. Sometimes, as a leader, you have to listen,' Wade said of a postgame powwow led by veterans Jermaine O'Neal(notes) and Udonis Haslem(notes). 'I won't say what any guy said. Just know that there was communication back and forth.'"

Bob Cooney, The Philadelphia Inquirer: "For the second straight day, Allen Iverson(notes) did not practice with the Sixers. Iverson had 55 CCs of fluid drained from his knee yesterday. The team said he is day-to-day with synovitis of the left knee. 'I think my knee will be a lot better being as I got it drained,' Iverson said. 'I think they said 55 CCs. That's a lot. That's more than I ever had before. I think it stems from me starting so fast and not having a chance to get a chance to practice and stuff, and not doing any running, just not playing over a month and jumping right into the fire. Hopefully, that's what it's from. I guess as much as I play, I guess it will go away, hopefully.' Iverson also is battling a stress reaction in his right fibula. That injury, however, has improved. 'I haven't even thought about it,' he said of his right leg injury. 'Obviously, because of what's been going on with my left knee. I didn't have any problems with my right leg the last game anyway, that was a plus. Hopefully I won't have to deal with that anymore.'"

Ted Kulfan, The Detroit News: "The story after Saturday's victory over Golden State was the return of Richard Hamilton(notes). But it's one of the mainstays this season, Rodney Stuckey(notes), who's been a headliner lately. While winning their last five games, the Pistons are seeing Stuckey at his best — he's averaging 25 points in the winning streak and dominating at both ends of the court. [...] With Hamilton returning, it'll be interesting to see how the likes of Ben Gordon(notes) and Stuckey and Will Bynum(notes) adjust. Stuckey sees no problems. 'No, not at all (hard to go back between the 1 and 2 position),' said Stuckey, who played extensively at both positions in college. 'I'm going to be doing that a whole lot this year. Whenever I'm out there with Rip, I'll be playing at the 1 and when Rip comes out, I'll move to the 2 because Chucky's going to come in.'"

RealGM/Times-Picayune: "The Hornets are limiting Chris Paul's(notes) practice time to keep him ready for games. Paul was mostly a spectator on Saturday during the team's practice. 'He was kind of limited today and we'll take the same approach tomorrow,' general manager/head coach Jeff Bower said. 'We'll try to give him as much rest as we can.' Paul missed eight games with a sprained left ankle before returning on Dec. 4 against the Timberwolves."

Mark Medina, L.A. Times: "Clippers Coach Mike Dunleavy declined to confirm Saturday a recent report that said various NBA teams have made trade offers for starting forward Marcus Camby(notes). In the last year of a contract worth $9.1 million, Camby goes into tonight's game against the San Antonio Spurs ranked fifth in the league in blocks (2.1 per game) and sixth in rebounding (11.0 per game). 'Marcus has been great,' Dunleavy said. 'We have a lot of guys that have a lot of interest from a lot of people.' As for the rest of the Clippers' roster, Dunleavy said the team has no immediate needs beyond forward Blake Griffin(notes) fully recovering from a stress fracture in his left knee that has kept him out for all 21 games. Camby avoided interviews after Saturday's practice but said earlier in the week that extra stretching, conditioning and effort have helped him average double digits in rebounds for the last seven seasons."

Tim Povtak, NBA FanHouse: "As a championship-tested, blue-collar power forward in his prime athletic years, Udonis Haslem will get plenty of attention this summer from the teams with salary cap room that get rejected by the few mega-stars up for grabs. But it's going to take more than a little convincing to lure Haslem, who will be an unrestricted free agent after the season, away from the Miami Heat. Equal offers and a starting role won't get it done. 'Obviously, if it ever comes to that [leaving], it would be a huge adjustment for me. My heart is in Miami. My family is in Miami. I won a championship here. I feel like a big part of this organization,' he said. 'They gave me a chance when no one else would. And I remember that. I kind of feel like this is where I belong.' The Heat are in a transition season, expecting this summer to add another high-profile star, along with re-signing Dwyane Wade, and change their makeup considerably. Haslem, who is making $7.1 million in the final year of his contact, will be asked to wait until much of the other work is done before he is re-signed. The Heat have said they want to re-sign him, but much depends on who else they can get."

Gary Washburn, The Boston Globe: "Coach Doc Rivers has been pushing his point guard to shoot more. First, the more [Rajon] Rondo shoots, the more confidence he gets. Second, the more he draws defenders, the more he can drive past them for a dish to a teammate or layup. 'It's great where he is at mentally, he understands our team,' Rivers said. 'If we come down and take three or four shots without running the offense, he'll slow us down and get us in a set. That's the sign of a great point guard. He's become a leader on our team and I think that's the step he's taken this year. Our guys now want to follow him and that's huge when your point guard is your leader.'"

Dave D'Alessandro, The Star-Ledger: "Just when you thought they've turned the corner, the Nets' team photo resembled an X-ray again Sunday night. From a rotation standpoint, the most damaging injury belongs to Chris Douglas-Roberts(notes), who sat out Sunday's 130-107 defeat against the Hawks with a mild sprain to his left knee that he suffered Friday in Indianapolis. But an MRI confirmed what he had predicted before receiving the results: There was no serious damage. 'I could walk around on it this morning,' Douglas-Roberts said. 'Either way, I wasn't going to be out (for much) time. I'm looking forward to play the next game.' He's looking forward to it because it's child's play: His matchup is against some slug named LeBron James(notes), Tuesday in Cleveland. The Nets are listing him as day-to-day. Douglas-Roberts said the injury wasn't causing him much pain, but it had an effect on how he moved laterally. 'The worst thing is when you're thinking about it,' he added. 'I sprained it last year, but I don't think the severity is the same,' said CDR, who actually sprained his right MCL a year ago, which cost him three weeks. 'It's kind of fortunate I went through it last year, so I know what I can do and what I can't do.'"

Mike McGraw, Daily Herald: "A few days ago, I suggested that this weekend would help determine the future of Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro. Well, the win over Golden State surely bought him some time. If the Bulls lost both of those games, I wouldn't have been surprised if a change was made. But like I also mentioned before, management wants to give Del Negro a fair chance to work through this rough stretch. Ideally that would happen with a full roster, but doctors want Tyrus Thomas(notes) to take another week to 10 days to make sure his broken left arm heals completely before returning to the court. So he may not be back until after Christmas for a Dec. 26 home date against New Orleans. Thomas is so anxious to play right now, it would be interesting to see what kind of boost he could give the team. After hosting the Lakers on Tuesday, the Bulls play six of the next seven games against losing teams with five of those at home."

BK, L.A. Times"We had a fun exchange with Gregg Popovich tonight at Staples ahead of San Antonio's tussle with the Clippers, when the subject of the Pau Gasol trade came up. 'You mean the one where I fainted?' he asked with a smile. Pop, no surprise, still sees that deal as a watershed. 'Pau Gasol changed the landscape of basketball in the NBA, as far as the west is concerned, and championship caliber basketball. He's a great player, perhaps the most versatile big man in the league right now, and it makes them really, really good.' Andy then asked him if the development of Pau's lil' bro in Memphis makes the deal perhaps a little less lopsided. Marc has, after all, become a very good NBA player down in Memphis, and is still very early in his career. Maybe, just maybe, it was a more equitable swap than he originally thought? 'Please,' he said with a sarcastic eye roll. 'Please.'"

The Baseline: "With starting point guard Steve Blake(notes) struggling, third-stringer Jerryd Bayless(notes) appears to be getting restless. Blake has been in a shooting slump, and primary backup Andre Miller(notes) also was off in the team's Saturday loss to Milwaukee, going 2-for-12 from the field. Bayless, meanwhile, is shooting 54.5 percent for the year. 'I know every time I play I've helped this team. Every single time,' Bayless told The Oregonian. 'It's tough. Especially since, and I hate saying this, seeing these other guys (Blake and Miller) doing what they are doing. I know I can help this team. I know I can.' The Blazers have also been struggling as a team, having lost six of their past eight games."

Jonathan Abrams, "The [triangle] offense can seem to be mystical and mythical. To some, it is easily digestible. Others claim it is too lethargic for the fast and frenetic N.B.A. Despite the triangle's success — 10 of the last 19 N.B.A. champions showcased the offense — few possess the time, trust or diligence to install it. Their reasons are plentiful, and skeptics are quick to point out that Coach Phil Jackson captured all 10 of those titles with Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant(notes) at his disposal. (For three of them, he had Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal(notes).) 'You've got to spend a lot of time on it, on its reads,' Denver Nuggets Coach George Karl said. 'Most coaches are too impatient to sacrifice time teaching at the defensive end of the court for an offensive system.' Few beyond Jackson try. Rambis is the latest coach on a short list who have, and all have links to Jackson. Tim Floyd, who succeeded Jackson in Chicago, and Jim Cleamons, a longtime Jackson assistant who briefly coached the Dallas Mavericks, had uninspired results with it. 'It has such a negative aspect to it because people don't understand it,' Rambis said, adding that few know how to teach the offense correctly. 'They just assume that you have to have Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant to make it work, but that's not true.'"

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