Ball Don't Lie - NBA

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

AP: Freshman All-Americans John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins and AP player of the year Evan Turner were among 10 players-including five from Kentucky-who declared for the NBA draft on Wednesday. Wall and Cousins were joined by freshman teammates Eric Bledsoe and Daniel Orton and junior Patrick Patterson in leaving a Wildcats team that had a remarkable turnaround in coach John Calipari's first year at Kentucky. The Wildcats went 35-3 and won the Southeastern Conference regular season and conference tournament titles before losing to West Virginia in the regional finals of the NCAA tournament. Calipari met with each player individually and encouraged them to gauge their draft prospects. 'It's extremely unusual for four freshmen from the same team to have this opportunity, but it's my job as a coach to prepare these young men for such opportunities,' Calipari said. Also joining Ohio State's Turner and the Kentucky crew headed to the pros are two more one-and-done freshman in Cincinnati's Lance Stephenson and Kansas' Xavier Henry. Dayton junior Chris Wright, Xavier sophomore Jordan Crawford and Florida junior Alex Tyus also declared their eligibility for the draft, though none of have hired agents and could return to college. Players have until May 8 to change their minds."

Jeff Zillgitt, USA Today: "By the time Oklahoma City Thunder coach Scott Brooks walked off the floor after Tuesday's controversial 140-139 overtime loss to the Utah Jazz, he turned his attention to Wednesday's opponent, the Denver Nuggets. He didn't dwell on a no-call by the referees on the final play in which replays showed Utah's C.J. Miles(notes) fouled Thunder forward Kevin Durant(notes) on a three-point attempt. Brooks didn't feel vindicated when Joel Litvin, the NBA's president of league and basketball operations, released a statement Wednesday confirming the referees missed the call. 'One of the things I like about our team is that we always respond after tough losses,' Brooks said. 'I look back at the game, and it was a great ballgame. It was a well-played offensive game. Tough call at the end, but we have to move forward. One of the things I learned as a player is you have to be steady. You can't get up and down. ... You have to come back and be ready to hit your next shot.' Brooks didn't blame the referees -Bennett Salvatore, Tony Brothers and Eric Dalen - for the loss and looked at what his team could have done to win. 'Watching the film, I was more disappointed that we did not get a stop at the end of the game,' Brooks said."

Doug Smith, Toronto Star: "Chris Bosh has had surgery on his nose and his regular season is over because it will be at least until next week before the damage done to his broken nose can be assessed, team medical officials said Wednesday. 'Each fracture has its own personality and no one has a crystal ball unfortunately,' said Dr. Paul Marks, the Raptors' medical director and team orthopedic surgeon said. 'We know that we're looking at time frames of at least the next seven to 10 days before we get things reassessed. And at that point we'll have a better idea of which way things are going.'"

Jimmy Smith, New Orleans Times-Picayune: "New Orleans Hornets point guard Chris Paul(notes) has a torn ligament in right middle finger and is out for rest of the season. The injury occured in the Hornets game against Dallas on March 22 in Paul's first game back from a knee injury."

Bob Baum, AP: "Manu Ginobili says he's 'closer than ever' to an agreement on a new contract with the San Antonio Spurs. Ginobili made the comment before the Spurs played the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday night. Ginobili says reports that the three-year extension was done were a bit premature. He says there are still 'a couple of things to figure out' but he's happy with the progress of the talks."

Marc Berman, New York Daily News: "Al Harrington will undergo season-ending shoulder surgery tomorrow in and likely has played his last game as a Knick. Harrington, the Knicks' sixth man, will be a free agent and decided to get a jump on summer. Harrington said last week he would delay arthroscopic surgery on his AC joint until after the season. But because he needs to go through 3-4 months of rehab and will be a free agent, Harrington elected to get it over with it now with five games left in the season and the Knicks are playing out the string. Another motivational factor was Harrington realizing his minutes would be reduced as the Knicks want to take a close look at new starting center Earl Barron(notes), who put up 17 points and 18 rebounds in the shocking win over Boston on Tuesday night." 

Darnell Mayberry, The Oklahoman: "The excuse of weary legs from the overtime thriller against the Jazz doesn't carry weight. Nor does any theory that the Thunder maintained some sort of mental hangover following referee Tony Brother's blown call on Kevin Durant, which ended the epic shootout one night earlier. This one was all on the Thunder - from scoring 14 points in the final period, to making 3-of-20 shots in closing quarter, to allowing a second straight point guard to ice the game with ease. 'If we want to get better, we have to let these past two games go,' said Jeff Green(notes). 'We competed and that's all that matters.' Really? Because suddenly, with four regular-season games left before Oklahoma City's first playoff appearance, questions abound about who this team is and which version will show up in the postseason. The defense on Wednesday retuned from a month-long vacation, Oklahoma City holding its opponent to 40 percent shooting and, for the first time in five games, fewer than 100 points. But when the Thunder absolutely needed stops, Nuggets point guard Chauncey Billups(notes), just like Deron Williams(notes) before him, carved up the cracks in the defense. Billups scored 15 of his team-high 31 points in the fourth quarter - or more than the Thunder mustered as a unit. While Billups abused the Thunder with an array of attacks to the rim, short, pull-up jumpers, 3-pointers and a game-changing 6-for-6 streak at the foul line in the fourth quarter, Oklahoma City settled. Kevin Durant, who tried his best to take over the game in the third quarter, missed all six of his shot attempts in the final period. Three of them came from long distance. Green and rookie James Harden(notes) were a combined 3-for-9 in the final period, 0-for-4 from deep. The Thunder missed all eight of its 3-pointers in the fourth quarter and that, coupled with the Nuggets' ability to turn OKC's six turnovers into 10 points, spelled doom. 'No excuses,' Durant said."

Mike Wells, Indianapolis Star: "The Indiana Pacers say their recent offensive spark -- the latest was a 113-105 victory over the New York Knicks on Wednesday night at Conseco Fieldhouse -- is something they plan to carry into next season. 'We've been playing real well of late, and I said it before: It's unfortunate it's taken us this long to get going,' center Roy Hibbert(notes) said. 'But hopefully the same guys will be back next year and we can figure it out sooner.' The Pacers know their summer vacation wouldn't be starting in less than a week if they were nearly as good offensively earlier in the season as they are now. They're averaging 107.4 points a game, which would be third in the league, in the past 10 games. They're 8-2 in those games. 'We're clicking well,' Pacers forward Danny Granger(notes) said. 'We're making shots, we're moving, we're getting layups. Roy is scoring in the post, so we've got everything going. We're showing what we can do and we have to make sure we carry it over.'" "The 76ers have officially shut down forward Thaddeus Young(notes) for the remainder of this season. Young, who fractured his right thumb March 15, did not travel with the team for Wednesday night's game against the Miami Heat. X-rays of Young's thumb taken before Tuesday's loss to the Detroit Pistons revealed insufficient healing, according to Sixers officials. 'While Thaddeus did everything asked of him in an attempt to return to action this season, we feel it necessary to take the appropriate precautions to allow this injury to heal properly,' Ed Stefanski, the team's president and general manager, said in a statement."

Jonathan Feigen, Houston Chronicle: "With the NBA taking the unusual step Wednesday of acknowledging the missed call on the last shot of Utah's overtime win against Oklahoma City on Tuesday, Rockets coach Rick Adelman endorsed the idea of making that sort of announcement. 'So Oklahoma City won that game? So what difference does it make?' Adelman said. 'How can they say anything else? It was an obvious foul. How do you not call that? It wasn't like it was a follow-through. It was pretty obvious. That was a big game. Maybe because Oklahoma City didn't say anything they thought it was OK to acknowledge a mistake. I don't see what the big deal is. The referees are human like anybody else. They make mistakes. They blow calls. I don't see any problem with admitting that. They're not perfect.'"

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