Ball Don't Lie - NBA

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

Mike Bianchi, Orlando Sentinel: "Dwight Howard put it best Monday night. 'Oh my God,' Dwight said after Vince Carter(notes) scored 48 in the Magic's 123-117 victory over the New Orleans Hornets, 'Vinsanity is back!' We echo those sentiments. Oh my God, did you see Vinsanity Monday night? Driving to the hoop for dipsy-doodle scoops. Nailing 3-pointers. Crossover dribbles that tied defenders up inknots. Wow — 48 points, 19-of-27 shooting and 6-of-10 from 3-point range. Just wow. This is the Vince Carter Magic fans have been waiting for ever since the deal was made during the offseason to bring Vince to town. Not that he has to score nearly 50 points to justify his worth to the team, but he does need to be able to occassionally take over games and lead the Magic to victory. Fans don't want to boo Carter like they have recently; they want to cheer him like they did Monday night. They want to believe the Magic did the right thing when they gambled after going to the Finals last season, retooled their team and brought in Carter."

David Aldridge, "The Wizards' desire to move [Caron] Butler has only increased in recent days, since they found out they will indeed get some cap relief from the NBA this season after losing Gilbert Arenas(notes) and Javaris Crittenton(notes) to suspension for the rest of the season. Washington's cap number will be reduced almost $4 million, according to sources — pro-rated amounts of the remainder of Arenas's $16.1 million and Crittenton's $1.47 million salaries — taking its cap number to a little more than $74 million. The cap threshhold is $69.9 million, meaning Washington could avoid paying tax if it can pare another $4 to $5 million in salaries off its books. That means Butler, though I suspect the Wizards will ask inquiring teams to remove Mike James(notes) and/or DeShawn Stevenson(notes) from their payroll as well. Butler winding up somewhere in Texas is most likely, with Washington probably deciding between Dallas' and Houston's competing offers before next week's All-Star Game. The Wizards are determined to get a young player back, though, and the Mavericks' only non-geezer is rookie guard Rod Beaubois — while Houston has a young guard like Kyle Lowry(notes) and an expiring big man contract in forward Luis Scola(notes) to pair with McGrady's $22 million expiring deal."

Dave McMenamin, ESPN: "The Lakers have now won two straight games without Kobe Bryant(notes) in the lineup against two teams that beat Los Angeles earlier in the season when Bryant actually did play. Does that mean that the Lakers are better without Kobe Bryant? That's preposterous, of course not. This isn't Bill Simmons' Ewing Theory in effect. Does it mean that the Lakers can handle their business without him? Sure, for a little while. Does it mean that Bryant should take it as a sign that Los Angeles doesn't need him in Utah on Wednesday and decide to rest straight on through the All-Star break and skip the festivities? No, absolutely not. Quite simply, if Bryant feels like he can play on Wednesday, he should. He has already relented to what his body was telling him despite his Bruce Willis-like will. And really, that's the only reason why Lakers fans should want him on the sidelines — to protect himself from himself so he doesn't risk any further injury turning a brief boo-boo into a daily detriment for the rest of the season."

Marla Ridenour, Akron Beacon-Journal: "Finding water in the arena has become more of a challenge since November, when the Cavs decided to remove all water fountains because of the outbreak of H1N1 flu. The change came as a gradual process. First the fountains were blocked off, then the water was cut off, then the fountains were removed. Complimentary 9-ounce cups of tap water are available at permanent concession stands, which excludes moveable specialty carts. Signs advising patrons of this new practice have been posted where the fountains used to be. The Cavs insist the decision — which came to light in a Monday story in the Plain Dealer — is a cutting-edge move to improve sanitation. Team spokesman Tad Carper compares it to the installation of full-body magnetometers at the entrances for enhanced security, considered an unnecessary expense by many teams. But to Joe Fan, the removal of the fountains looks like a blatant attempt to make more money by selling $4 bottled water. And that might not be all they're hawking. Standing in line for the complimentary cup subjects fans to the temptations of hot dogs, pizza, popcorn and nachos while they wait. How many have the willpower to take that free water and head back to his or her seat otherwise empty-handed?"

Chris Perkins, South Florida Sun-Sentinel: "Two days after complaining the Heat's offense is too predictable and saying the team should be doing better, guard Dwyane Wade(notes) said he doesn't have an issue with coach Erik Spoelstra. Wade said if anyone thinks he does have a problem with Spoelstra they misconstrued his postgame words after Saturday's 95-91 loss at Chicago. 'I don't have a problem with coach at all,' Wade said after Monday's practice. 'Me and him are on one page with each other.' Wade, a six-time All-Star, also said he doesn't put himself above his teammates. 'It says 'Heat' on the front,' he said of the team's jerseys. 'It doesn't say 'Dwyane Wade.'' [...] 'It's not about Spo,' Wade said. 'Of course when you're losing someone is going to find a way to say, 'Hell is starting in Miami.'"

Frank Dell'Apa, Boston Globe: "Celtics' captain Paul Pierce(notes) practiced briefly Monday and is 'questionable' for the Celtics' visit to New Orleans Wednesday. 'Paul didn't do a lot, we actually pulled him out early,' (Coach Doc) Rivers said of Pierce. 'He wasn't moving around very well. He's questionable, I think he's going to play but right now we'll wait and see. We have a forced day off because we have to get to New Orleans before the parade.' The Celtics will travel Tuesday morning to avoid a Super Bowl parade in New Orleans, skipping practice. [...] 'They responded with a great practice, so that's good,' Rivers said of the Celtics' reaction to losing to the Magic. 'But we have to get back to that workman's mentality. We have to get back to wanting to be the best defensive team in the NBA. We have to get back to executing better, and we can't just keep relying on guys coming back off injury — and that has thrown us off a little bit because of lack of practice time, and all that. But I think that's becoming an excuse around here and we're not going to allow that. We're not going to allow that, we can't allow that.'"

John Jackson, Chicago Sun-Times: "Whether he's dealt before the Feb. 18 trade deadline or let go this summer when he becomes a restricted free agent, [Tyrus] Thomas' days with the Bulls are numbered. Too many in the organization have grown weary of his mood swings and petulance to bring him back. The issue for Thomas the rest of the season — and this is an amazing statement to make about the fourth pick in the 2006 draft — is whether he can show enough to make another team interested. General managers usually are willing to take flyers on players with as much physical ability as Thomas, but his reputation is so bad that no one might want to deal with him. After his one-game suspension for the tirade in Del Negro's office, Thomas was back at practice Monday at the Berto Center and will be in uniform tonight, when the Bulls visit the Indiana Pacers. But showing he still has a lot of maturing to do, Thomas took the back exit off the practice court and turned down a request to speak with reporters."

Fred Kerber, New York Post: "Chris Douglas-Roberts has one word for this season with the Nets. 'Hell.' There is no way to argue with the man. Unless you want to say the Nets' 2009-10 folly really hasn't been that good. Douglas-Roberts wears his passion on his sleeve. He spoke his mind all season, ruffled some feathers and now picks his words as carefully as fresh produce. He has heard his name mentioned in trade rumors, that his will be the next ticket out — although team president Rod Thorn said this weekend the Nets are not looking to trade the second-year wing. But all the recent developments, including a move to the bench, have affected him. 'A little bit. I'm just more cold. But all that stuff, I don't care one way or the other,' said Douglas-Roberts. 'Caring about winning? Absolutely. But everything else doesn't matter. All of this is because I want to win. I take losing bad. All of this, everything comes from me being a sore loser. I don't like losing.'"

Ailene Voisin, Sac Bee: "NBA Commissioner David Stern didn't offer any revelations during an hour-long conversation at his office early Monday, but he continues to closely monitor arena developments in Sacramento. How closely? While watching the Super Bowl on Sunday (and pulling for New Orleans), he was interrupted by a phone call from John Moag, the arena consultant working with the Gerry Kamilos' downtown arena/land swap plan. [...] 'The development of the Kamilos proposal was a pleasant surprise to me,' Stern said. 'The idea that was brought to us by the mayor (Kevin Johnson), that we used to call Plan B, was so inclusive in what it was doing, I had my doubts that it could even come to fruition as an idea put to paper. But I'm cautiously optimistic it will be something that everyone will be able to rally around.'"

Mike Wells, Indy Star: "Trying to solve the mystery of Brandon Rush(notes) is like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. His body language and expressions are the same whether he has scored 20 points or missed 10 consecutive shots. 'That's always been me. I never show too much emotion,' Rush said. 'I never show it when I get down on myself or anything like that. That's always been my personality. It's too late to change me.' His teammates have tried to encourage him only to receive an occasional cold shoulder. His coaches have basically given up trying to flip the right switch. Coach Jim O'Brien can't talk about the second-year swingman without looking flustered or throwing up his arms in annoyance. What drives those in the organization up a wall is that Rush has as much potential as anybody on the roster."

Doug Smith, Toronto Star: "I've said this before and I'll say it again: Chris Bosh(notes) has handled this whole impending free agency thing better than anybody else in the league and for that I'm very thankful. He's been consistent with his response and he hasn't done anything distraction-causing like pine for a specific city or specific teammates. He's steadfast that it's a summer time issue and that's when it will be dealt with and that's first class. He was at it again Monday after practice when it was brought up for the billionth time and he gave the same answer for the billionth time. 'We don't even address it ... we're going to keep rolling, there's going to be a time and a place to talk about all that stuff and when it comes, I'm sure everybody will know about it.' Yes, we will. But, thankfully, we can wait until the summer to deal with it."

Geoffrey C. Arnold, The Oregonian: "Kevin Durant's teammates will receive a package in the next couple of days. Durant said he purchased gifts, 'Beats by Dr. Dre' stereo headphones, for each of his Oklahoma City teammates in appreciation of their help in making him an NBA All-Star this season. 'My teammates mean a lot to me, because they helped me get there. They made me into an All-Star this year,' Durant said. 'They were believing in me, trusting in me. Getting me open, passing the ball to me so I can make shots. It's important to me to let them know how much I thank them.'"

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