Sports Outside the Beltway

Defense rests- Phoenix beats Minnesota 152-114

The Suns scored the most points in a NBA game this season. From AP-

It’s an NBA law of physics: Put the highest-scoring team in the league against arguably the worst defense and watch the scoreboard light up like the Fourth of July.

Jason Richardson scored 27 points and Amare Stoudemire 25, then sat with the rest of the Phoenix starters while the Suns’ reserves finished off a 152-114 rout of Minnesota on Monday night in the highest-scoring game by an NBA team this season.

Lou Amundson matched his career high with 20 points as Phoenix sent the Timberwolves to their 10th straight loss and 16th in the last 17 games.

The Suns, with eight players in double figures, shot 56 percent from the field and 15 of 31 from 3-point range to win their ninth in 12 games.

Minnesota is 14-54 this year. Which makes them not a whole lot better than New Jersey who is 7-60 and trying to avoid setting a new mark for the worst record in NBA history.


Minnesota Timberwolves suspend C Al Jefferson after DWI arrest

He is the team’s leading scorer. From AP-

Minnesota Timberwolves star center Al Jefferson apologized to the team and fans Sunday after his arrest on suspicion of DWI following a weekend loss to Portland.

The Timberwolves suspended Jefferson for the next two games without pay — a punishment Jefferson said he accepts.

“I want to apologize to the entire Timberwolves organization, owner Glen Taylor, my teammates, coaches and Wolves fans everywhere for my actions last night,” Jefferson said in a statement released Sunday by the Timberwolves. “I made a very poor decision and I am truly sorry for that. As a leader on this team, I know that more is expected of me, and I am disappointed in myself.”

A Minnesota State Patrol trooper stopped Jefferson, 25, on Interstate 394 near downtown Minneapolis early Sunday for speeding and changing lanes without signaling, patrol spokesman Lt. Eric Roeske said.

After taking a field sobriety test, Jefferson was taken to Hennepin County Medical Center for a blood test, which he had agreed to, then to Hennepin County Jail on suspicion of fourth-degree driving while impaired, Roeske said. Jefferson was released after an hour in jail and faces an April 23 court appearance.

A forth-degree crime will probably result in a fine not jail time. If convicted, Jefferson should accept the fine like he did the suspension. I’m thinking he probably will.


Minnesota Timberwolves report trade before it’s completed

Not only sports websites are reporting news this month that isn’t true. From AP-

The Minnesota Timberwolves’ trade of backup point guard Jason Hart didn’t exactly go as smoothly as planned.

Hours after mistakenly letting a release leak on the team Web site announcing a trade with New Orleans that never came to fruition, the Timberwolves did ship Hart out after all, to the Suns.

Instead of ending up with Devin Brown from the Hornets, the Wolves landed Alando Tucker, a second-round pick and cash considerations from Phoenix.

Timberwolves president David Kahn was in talks with the Hornets about acquiring Brown, a 6-foot-5 guard shooting a career-high 41 percent from 3-point range this season. The Hornets were looking to dump Brown’s $1.1 million salary and the Wolves needed perimeter shooting.

Kahn went so far as to prepare a statement for the deal.

“Jason has been the consummate professional during his time with us, but it was a rare opportunity to add a proven player with 3-point shooting capabilities that will help our offense,” Kahn said. “Devin should be a nice addition to our team defensively, as well. He has a reputation as a tough kid and hard-nosed defender.”

Just one problem — the deal wasn’t done. The release somehow found its way into cyberspace, and the trade never materialized. So it was removed from the site and the Wolves eventually announced a deal with the Suns for Tucker, a 6-6 forward that has had trouble finding playing time in three seasons in Phoenix.

“All I know is we were in conversations with teams,” Wolves coach Kurt Rambis said before Minnesota’s game at San Antonio on Tuesday night.

Ted Johnson, Timberwolves senior vice president for communications and chief marketing officer, said the release on Brown appeared on a “dead” Web page.

Here is one vital thing I’ve learned in my other three years of blogging at OTB Sports. Don’t write posts till ‘news’ is official. I get most of my sports reports from ESPN. Much of ESPN’s reporting starts ‘Sources say…..”. The source is always another media outlet and the ‘news’ a unconfirmed report in regard to some sports team or athlete. I’ve made it a practice in the last year, to avoid blogging these reports till the news becomes official. If it ever does.

What happened with the Minnesota Timberwolves arose out of human error and had no other other motivation than to keep its fan informed. The mistakes made by the media in regards to the Tiger Woods have stemmed from the competition to be first in reporting ‘news’ about the golf star. Too many media outlets are reporting without the slightest bit of background checks and like today, a local television station in Florida is reporting something that is discredited for at least two days.


Battle of the worst- Minnesota beats New Jersey 103-99

All five Timberwolves starters scored in double figures. From AP-

In a season in which the breaks haven’t gone their way, the Minnesota Timberwolves got a little lucky against the New Jersey Nets.

Al Jefferson scored a season-high 27 points and the Timberwolves got a favorable videotape review in the final minute to defeat the Nets 103-99 on Wednesday night in the battle of the NBA’s two worst teams.

In a game that seesawed in the fourth quarter, the big play was an instant replay with 26 seconds to play and the Wolves clinging to a 99-97 lead.

Minnesota inbounded the ball near halfcourt and the pass went to Corey Brewer. Devin Harris and Courtney Lee double-teammed him and Lee hit the ball out of Brewer’s hands and out of bounds.

The officials originally called it out off Brewer and the Nets called timeout and went to their bench to set up a play.

The officials then went to the scorer’s table and watched videotape replays and it clearly showed the ball went out off Lee, so they overturned the call and awarded the ball to Minnesota.

Timberwolves Coach Kurt Rambis said his team was very fortunate. Indeed they were, without New Jersey to face, the team was likely to have just five wins before Christmas.

New Jersey, who opened the year 0-18, looks like they are trying to equal that mark again this season. After winning 2 of 3, the Nets have lost 8 in a row for a record of 2-27. Does anyone besides me think this team can’t win 10 games this season?


Phoenix Suns fire coach Terry Porter after 4 months on the job

He had a record of 28-23 before getting the axe. From AP-

The Phoenix Suns have fired coach Terry Porter, just four months into his first season with the club and the sputtering team barely in playoff contention. Assistant Alvin Gentry was appointed interim coach.

Phoenix (28-23) lost five of eight going into the All-Star break and trails Utah by one game for the eighth and final playoff spot in the West.

Gentry promised a return to the fast-paced style that best utilizes the team’s talent, particularly the skills of playmaker Steve Nash.

“We are who we are and I think we have to go back to trying to establish a breakneck pace like we’ve had in the past,” Gentry said at a news conference announcing his promotion.

The Suns are the eighth team to fire a coach this season, meaning more than one-quarter of the league’s coaches are gone at the All-Star break.

Most of the eight coaches who lost their jobs were with bad teams and you say their earned the pink slip. The firing of Porter and Maurice Cheeks in Philadelphia look shaky to me. Is four months as head coach with an organization enough time to prove yourself?


Minnesota Timberwolves fire coach Randy Wittman

He will be replaced by former wolves coach, Kevin McHall. From AP-

Randy Wittman was fired as coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday, two days after an embarrassing 23-point loss at home to the last-place Los Angeles Clippers. Kevin McHale took over as coach, leaving his job as the club’s vice president of basketball operations.

The young team is 4-15 and has not responded to Wittman’s demands for tough defense and consistent effort. The Timberwolves are in the midst of a five-game losing streak in which the average margin of defeat has been nearly 17 points.


This was the fourth NBA coaching firing this season following P.J. Carlesimo (Oklahoma City), Eddie Jordan (Washington) and Sam Mitchell (Toronto).

Wittman was 38-105 since taking over for Dwane Casey in January 2007. McHale picked Wittman to preside over the team’s rebuilding following the trade of Kevin Garnett, but the second year of the plan has not produced results.

Only 38-105? Why did Minnesota take so long to fire this guy?


Pistons Fire Flip Saunders

Flip Saunders led the Detroit Pistons the the Eastern Conference finals three straight years. That’s why they fired him.

Flip Saunders Fired Photo In this April 8, 2008 file photo, Detroit Pistons coach Flip Saunders shouts instructions to his team in the second half of the Pistons' 98-94 loss to the New York Knicks in an NBA basketball game in Auburn Hills, Mich. The Detroit Pistons say Flip Saunders won't be back next season after leading the team to three straight appearances in the Eastern Conference finals. President of basketball operations Joe Dumars said Tuesday June 3, 2008 a change is necessary despite Saunders' successes. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson, File) Flip Saunders was fired as the Pistons’ coach Tuesday, four days after Detroit was eliminated from the playoffs by the Boston Celtics. And more changes could be on the way for a team bounced from three straight conference finals.

“Make no mistake, everybody is in play right now,” said Joe Dumars, the Pistons’ president of basketball operations. “There are no sacred cows here. You lose that sacred cow status when you lose three straight years.”

Saunders had a year left on a four-year deal he signed in 2005. His ouster comes three years after he took over for Larry Brown, who led the Pistons to two straight NBA finals.

“I think this team became way too content and did not show up with a sense of urgency to get it done,” Dumars said at a news conference. “I can’t sugarcoat it. It is what it is.”

Dumars stopped short of saying he would dismantle the Pistons. “The idea you can make yourself bad and make yourself good again, that’s a farce,” he said. “I have no interest in completely ripping the team down. Will I look to making significant changes? Yeah, you’re damn right I will.”

Bizarre. I don’t have the knowledge of the game to judge whether Saunders get the most out of the talent at hand. But, certainly, the Boston Celtics, to whom the Pistons lost in the finals, were widely considered the most talented team in the NBA. This strikes me as a knee-jerk move.


Miracle in Minneapolis- Timberwolves beat Suns 117-107

The wolves have won two in a row now. From AP-

MINNEAPOLIS – Al Jefferson and the Minnesota Timberwolves believe they’re headed for better days. Beating the Phoenix Suns — again — is surely a decent sign of progress.

Jefferson had a career-high 39 points and 15 rebounds, and the Timberwolves won two in a row for the first time this season, 117-107 over the Western Conference leaders on Wednesday night.

“I think they have kind of turned the corner,” Suns coach Mike D’Antoni said.

Amare Stoudemire led Phoenix with 33 points, but only 19 of them came in the last 43 minutes. The Suns, whose 30-13 record is behind only Boston for league supremacy, had their four-game winning streak stopped.

If the Timberwolves can win two in a row maybe the Miami Heat can too. First Miami will have to win a single game, right now they have lost 14 in a row and with Shaq out for at least two weeks, a single triumph seems fleeting at this moment.


Kevin Garnett Traded to Boston for 7 Players

The Boston Celtics transformed themselves from a lottery team to a playoff threat by trading Al Jefferson and a sack of magic beans to the Minnesota Timberwolves for superstar Kevin Garnett.

Kevin Garnett gives Boston a new Big Three that brings the Celtics much closer to what their old Big Three delivered — an NBA title.

Kevin Garnett Traded to Boston for 7 Players Photo Newly-acquired Boston Celtics forward Kevin Garnett, center, stands with forward Paul Pierce, left, and guard Ray Allen during a news conference in Boston, Tuesday, July 31, 2007. The Celtics sent the Minnesota Timberwolves forwards Al Jefferson, Ryan Gomes and Gerald Green, guard Sebastian Telfair and center Theo Ratliff, two first-round draft picks and cash considerations in the trade for Garnett. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

The Celtics, who have 16 championships but have gone without one for more than two decades, obtained the former MVP and 10-time All-Star on Tuesday in a 7-for-1 deal — the NBA’s biggest trade for one player. Boston sent the Minnesota Timberwolves forwards Al Jefferson, Ryan Gomes and Gerald Green, guard Sebastian Telfair and center Theo Ratliff, two first-round draft picks and cash considerations. Besides Ratliff, 34, the other four are 24 or younger.

With Paul Pierce and Ray Allen already on the roster, the Celtics have been transformed from a promising collection of youngsters who had the NBA’s second-worst record last season into an instant contender in the mediocre Eastern Conference.

“This is probably my best opportunity at winning a ring,” Garnett said. “It was a no-brainer.”

The Celtics won their last championship, the third with the original Big Three of Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish, in 1986. Two members of that club orchestrated Tuesday’s blockbuster trade — Celtics executive director of basketball operations Danny Ainge and Timberwolves vice president of basketball operations Kevin McHale.

But Ainge cautioned that it’s much too early to equate the two trios. “These guys will never be the Big Three until they win” a championship, he said.

Garnett signed a multi-year extension — Ainge wouldn’t say how long. He had one year plus an option year remaining on his contract.

The Timberwolves get the Celtics’ first-round pick in 2009, unless it is among the top three, and a return of Minnesota’s conditional first-round draft pick obtained in January 2006 when they sent Ricky Davis to the Timberwolves for Wally Szczerbiak.

The Celtics traded their future for a chance to win now. Given that all of their new Big Three are over 30, they’d better do it quick.


NBA Mock Draft

ESPN’s Chad Ford offers the Sports Leader’s take on the impending NBA Draft.

It’s almost draft day, and the picture is getting clearer and fuzzier simultaneously.

We’ve been able to narrow down the list of prospects that each team is considering, but two things stand in the way of getting a complete picture.

One, this is a time when many GMs are notorious for dropping smoke screens. A source in Memphis swears the team is taking Joakim Noah. Another says to bank on the Grizzlies’ taking Mike Conley. Someone is misinformed or bluffing.

Two, there is a flurry of trade conversation, starting with Memphis, Boston, Charlotte and Chicago all talking about trading away their lottery picks. Meanwhile teams such as Golden State, Phoenix and the Lakers are trying hard to move up. Others — like Portland, Indiana and Toronto — are trying to get in or grab another pick.

The talk in Phoenix about trading up in the draft has gotten so hot that the Suns have gotten Noah, Jeff Green and Corey Brewer to agree to a workout on Tuesday. They’ll try to add Brandan Wright as a fourth. That shows you how much players want to play in Phoenix — they’ll drop everything just for the chance. It could be the most competitive workout of the draft.

Their consensus draft board:

    1. Portland TrailblazersGreg Oden – C
    2. Portland TrailblazersKevin Durant – SF – Texas
    3. Atlanta HawksAl Horford – PF – Florida
    4. Memphis GrizzliesMike Conley – PG- Ohio State
    5. Boston CelticsYi Jianlian – PF – China
    6. Milwaukee BucksJeff Green – SF – Georgetown
    7. Minnesota TimberwolvesJoakim Noah – PF – Florida
    8. Charlotte BobcatsCorey Brewer – SG – Florida
    9. Chicago Bulls (via New York Knicks) – Spencer Hawes – C- Washington
    10. Sacramento Kings- Brandan Wright – PF – North Carolina
    11. Atlanta Hawks (via Indiana Pacers) – Acie Law – PG – Texas A&M
    12. Philadelphia 76ersAl Thornton – SF – Florida State
    13. New Orleans Hornets – Nick Young – SG- USC
    14. L.A. ClippersJulian Wright – SF – Kansas
    15. Detroit Pistons (via Orlando Magic) – Rodney Stuckey SG – Eastern Wash.

Click the link for more in-depth analysis and for the second half of the draft.


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