Ball Don't Lie - NBA

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

Paul Coro, The Arizona Republic: "The Vanilla Gorilla vs. The Big Cactus. It sounds like pro wrestling and can look like it, too, when Joel Przybilla and Shaquille O'Neal hook up. It's always testy, from the time O'Neal was in Miami and slammed Przybilla in the face with the ball. This time, O'Neal tossed the ball on Przybilla after he fell taking a charge and Przybilla came out of the time out telling O'Neal not to do that and they got offsetting technical fouls for their exchange."

Wendell Maxey, HOOPSWORLD: "Always good for a great quote, Shaq commented about his exchange with Blazers center Joel Przybilla [...] and of course, Greg Oden: 'No,' Shaq said when asked if he could share about his conversation with Przybilla that landed them both T's. 'He said I threw the ball at him and I said, yeah. That's what I did. So what? Do something about it. I'm not much of a talker.' When asked if he could receive a fine for admitting he 'threw the ball' at Przybilla, Shaq quickly corrected himself. 'I didn't throw it. I dropped it. Hey, it doesn't matter to me - whatever they do. It's been done before. You move on. I just dropped it. He was in the way. If he wouldn't have flopped and been on the floor, he wouldn't have been down there.' [...] So what did Shaq think of Oden? 'I don't. I'm a Shogun. You can't ask me about a low level ninja. I still have to worry about Yao Ming, Dwight Howard.'"

Benjamin Hochman, Denver Post: "Nuggets center Nene was steadfast Thursday that he would appeal his two-game suspension by the NBA for his role in an altercation Monday night at Phoenix. Nene was ejected from the game against the Suns after head-butting Suns forward Louis Amundson, who played high school ball at Monarch in Louisville. Nene compared his situation with that of Zach Randolph, a Clippers forward who threw a punch at Amundson and received a two-game suspension. Nene said his was a lesser offense. The NBA added a second game to the suspension — tonight at Dallas — because Nene made contact with official Bill Spooner upon the ejection."

Mike Bresnahan, Los Angeles Times: "While the Lakers were ending their seven-year problem Thursday with a road victory against Detroit, injured center Andrew Bynum was missing his 25th game because of a torn medial collateral ligament in his right knee. Bynum has moved beyond running on a treadmill at the team's training facility, but he isn't expected back until close to the start of the playoffs next month. 'He's running on the court, he's doing some basketball skills,' Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said Thursday. 'He has a considerable amount of time yet before he's going to be even at practice with us.'"

Associated Press: "NBA owners approved an immediate rule change yesterday regarding violations for too many men on the court, closing a loophole that allowed Portland to score on a six-on-five situation earlier this season. If a team is given a technical foul for having too many players, the other team can choose to accept or nullify the action that took place before the whistle blew. If the team playing with five scores, it can keep the points. The Trail Blazers made a basket against Boston in December with six men on the floor. They were whistled for a technical but were allowed to keep the points because the violation was not caught before they scored."

Stan Olson, McClatchy Tribune Wire Service: "For Davidson all-America guard Stephen Curry, the decision whether to enter the NBA draft or to return to Davidson for his senior year remains a tossup. 'I'm 50 percent in the middle,' he said, standing in an empty Belk Arena on Wednesday afternoon. 'Every five minutes I'm thinking one way and then I'm thinking the next way. So I'm just playing mind games with myself right now. Once I get out of the meetings with my parents and my coaches, then I can give you a better judgment of where I am right now.' So what happens from here? Curry, who is projected to go anywhere from No.8 to No.15 overall in most mock drafts, answered these five questions, among others."

Alan Hahn, Newsday: "[Zach] Randolph laughed when I asked him if he felt the Knicks made a mistake in trading him away. 'Yeah,' he said with a big smile beaming. 'It was definitely a mistake.' But the decision was an obvious one. The Knicks wanted to dump Randolph's contract off the 2010-11 payroll (and also moved Jamal Crawford that day) to make room for a big play in free agency in 2010. The LeBronathon has lost some steam since then, but Randolph says he thinks it could happen. 'It's gonna be interesting,' he said. If they wind up with LeBron, Zach says he can understand moving him. But Chris Bosh? 'I'm better than Chris Bosh,' he said. Told that line will make headlines, Zach gave a dismissive wave and said, 'I'd tell him to his face.'"

Peter Vecsey, New York Post: "It's impossible to appreciate how much Mo Williams' acquisition from Milwaukee during the off-season has meant to LeBron James and the league-leading 58-13 Cavs without understanding his eagerness to be educated by Jerry Sloan. Williams always has been impervious to situational stress; he's credited with seven game-winning/changing shots in Cleveland and countless others during his four seasons in Milwaukee. More remarkably, maybe, is Mo is undaunted by imperial peer pressure; most secondary scorers gladly defer to the franchise player on big shots rather than risk inviting his wrath with a miss. ... 'Jerry taught me how to be a point guard,' he said. I asked him what that entails: 'To think versus rely simply on instincts ... time and possession ... teammates needing to be spoon-fed ... not giving the ball to a big man on the break unless he has a free lane ... creating space -- separation -- which is the object of the pick-and-roll, and then reading and reacting.'"

Brian Windhorst, Cleveland Plain Dealer: "Call it the 'Brazilian Backhand.' Anderson Varejao has added a new trick to his game this season — well, at least new to his NBA game — and it is fast becoming a surprising weapon for the Cavaliers. Varejao uses a backdoor cut and will actually catch an entry pass, usually from LeBron James, when he's under the backboard and behind the defense. Then, sort of like a backward layup, he has nearly perfected kissing the ball off the glass with just the right sidespin from what would seem like an impossible angle. At times this season he's shot it backwards over his head and with striking accuracy. It has turned into not just a staple play when the Cavs are facing a zone defense, but also an option in tight late-game situations when the Cavs are looking for a high percentage shot."

Mike Bianchi, Orlando Sentinel: "I know it's hard to take seriously anything sports-related written by the Magic-bashing, NBA-hatin' Thomas, but how can you not listen to the sports-friendly, NBA-lovin' super agent David Falk? He has a new book out titled The Bald Truth, and the name isn't just based on Falk's famously hairless head but also on his frankly candid assessments. Falk was once known as the 'Bird of Prey' when he was the NBA agent of the stars who negotiated multi-million-dollar mega-deals for players such as Michael Jordan, Patrick Ewing and Charles Barkley. Now, the Bird of Prey has become the voice of reason. Falk rightfully says the NBA has a faulty financial structure and could be headed for a labor battle to end all labor battles. With the economy in turmoil, too many teams are simply losing too much money. You want a worst-case scenario, Orlando? How about this: When the Magic's new $500 million arena opens in the fall of 2010, there might not be any basketball the following season. A lockout is an ugly possibility."

Ailene Voison, Sac Bee: "What began as a one-night affair honoring former Kings center Vlade Divac has evolved into a three-day celebration. Divac, whose No. 21 jersey will be retired Tuesday during halftime of the Kings-New Orleans Hornets game at Arco Arena, extended his visit to sponsor several charitable functions. Events are open to the public, with proceeds benefiting Serbian refugees through his Humanitarian Organization Divac (HOD)."

Tim Buckley, Deseret News: "With two-time NBA All-Star and two-time Team USA Olympian Carlos Boozer's arthroscopic knee surgery getting most of the headlines and plenty of talk, it's easy to forget Jazz forward Andrei Kirilenko underwent surgery earlier this season, too. But he did, on Jan. 30, to remove bone fragments from the area around his right ankle. Since then, Kirilenko — a one-time All-Star himself who played for his native Russia in last summer's Olympic Games — is feeling better. Not perfect, though. 'One hundred percent is probably, like, a big word. But close to it,' he said before scoring seven points, shooting 3-for-8 from the field, pulling down three rebounds and dishing three assists but recording none of his usual blocks or steals in Wednesday night's loss at Phoenix. 'I feel way better. The motion's better,' Kirilenko added. 'Still, a little something's not there — like feeling fast, sure. (I'm) sometimes kind of uncomfortable. But nothing's sore.'"

Steve Bulpett, Boston Herald: "Beyond some brief flashes, Stephon Marbury has yet to play the kind of game on which he built his reputation — or even the kind of game that would lead one to believe he can be a factor for this team. Fittingly, the NBA’s reigning Defensive Player of the Year came to Marbury’s defense. Kevin Garnett spoke up for his former teammate in Minnesota, both as a player and as a person. 'Steph’s leadership I think has been sort of questioned and damaged, if you will,' Garnett said. 'But once a leader, always a leader. I’ve been telling some of the young guys who haven’t seen a lot of Steph that I thought we got a steal in grabbing him. Obviously, for whatever reasons, his different relationships with different ballclubs was a thing of the past. If you look at some of the guys on this team, they haven’t always had the best reps before coming. But we deal with each other how we deal with each other, and he fits right in.'"

Eddie Sefko, The Dallas Morning News: "No matter what Gerald Green's shortcomings might be, games like the blowout of Golden State prove just how enticing he is. Fans are more intrigued and captivated by his skills than of any other Maverick. They love to think about how good he could be if he were a 30-minute player. And it's true. The dude can flat-out play like nobody's business when he gets a chance to be athletic and fly around the court. It's that feeling that he has to do everything as fast as possible on the court that is hard to overcome. 'Coach has been saying to be patient,' Green said Thursday. 'That's what I'm doing. And when I get my chance, I play as hard as I can. I do seem to try to do a little bit too much at times. But I'm just so excited to play. The coaches tell me to just play my game and slow down a little.'"

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