Sports Outside the Beltway

Streaks- Oklahoma City beats New Jersey 105-89

The Thunder have a three-game winning streak, their longest this season. From AP-

The Oklahoma City Thunder seemingly have found a winning formula — Kevin Durant and a lot of defense.

Durant matched his season high with 40 points and the Thunder defeated New Jersey 105-89 Monday night, sending the Nets to their 10th straight loss — their second double-digit losing streak of the season.

The key for the Thunder was the final 17 minutes when they limited New Jersey to 17 points, including 13 in the final quarter.


The win was a season-high third straight for the Thunder (16-14).

“We have a long ways to go,” Durant said. “We still have a lot of slip-ups in games, but we are getting better. Hopefully, we peak at the right time.”

Former Net Nenad Krstic added 19 points and Russell Westbrook had 16 points and 10 assists. Reserve Nick Collison added 11 points and 10 rebounds.

Last night’s defeat was the 10th in a row for the Nets and the second time this season(in just 31 games) that New Jersey has put together a double digit losing streak. They opened the 2009-10 NBA season with 10 straight losses.

Up next for New Jersey are New York, Cleveland, and Milwaukee. The Knicks and Bucks are each playing about .400 basketball. So there is a fair chance the Nets latest losing streak will end soon.

While New Jersey’s disastrous season has drawn lots of attention, the Thunder’s good year(16-14) has gone relatively unnoticed. I did note their victory over Miami last month.

Oklahoma City plays 7 of their next games against losing teams. The team formerly known as the Seattle Supersonics could be playoff bound.


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?


Finally- NJ Nets beat Charlotte 97-91

Their last regular season win was on April 13 and also against Charlotte. From AP-

The Nets won for the first time this season, ending the worst start in NBA history at 18 losses by beating the Charlotte Bobcats 97-91 on Friday night.

Brook Lopez had 31 points and 14 rebounds, and Courtney Lee scored a career-high 27 points Frin his return to the starting lineup for the Nets in their first game under Kiki Vandeweghe, their general manager who will coach the rest of the season.

The worst record in NBA history is 9-73 set by Philadelphia in 1972-73. I predict New Jersey to do better, but barely.


0-18- Dallas beats New Jersey 117-101

Will the Nets win a game before 2010 begins? From AP-

The New Jersey Nets were pounded into NBA infamy Wednesday night, falling 117-101 to the Dallas Mavericks for their 18th straight loss to start the season.

The Mavericks made 17 of 19 shots and opened a 27-point lead in a nearly flawless second quarter, burying the Nets early in former New Jersey captain Jason Kidd’s second trip back to his old home.

The Nets passed the 1988-89 Miami Heat and 1999 Los Angeles Clippers, who both dropped their first 17 games. New Jersey’s next chance to end the streak comes Friday at home against Charlotte.

The Bobcats aren’t a good team(7-10). There is hope yet for New Jersey.


Don’t just stand there- NJ Nets fire coach Lawrence Frank

The team is 0-16 and nearing the end of a 4-game Western Conference road trip. From ESPN-

The winless New Jersey Nets have fired coach Lawrence Frank with immediate effect.

The Nets announced the move Sunday shortly after’s report that Frank would not coach the Nets in Sunday night’s road game against the Los Angeles Lakers, when New Jersey tries to avoid matching the worst start in NBA history.

Nets assistant coach Tom Barrise will coach the game in L.A., but the Nets’ announcement said that Frank’s permanent replacement has not yet been chosen.

Sources with knowledge of New Jersey’s thinking told that the Nets — mired at 0-16 after Friday’s loss in Sacramento — wanted to delay the widely anticipated coaching change until after the team returned from its four-game West Coast trip. Yet it appears that Nets management determined that it had to make the move before facing the Lakers after reports became more widespread that Frank’s dismissal was imminent.

I don’t see what effect the firing of Frank will have on the team as they play Los Angeles. The Lakers will still mop the floor with the Nets.

Frank, who has worked for the Nets for over a decade, became the Nets coach in 2003-04 and had accumulated a record of 225-241. His contract was up at the end of the year. A new coach isn’t going to change New Jersey’s fortunes. In fact, I predict them to get to at 0-18 before the Nets get a win. After Los Angeles comes Dallas for the NBA’s worst team.


NY Knick Nate Robinson not benched for shooting at the wrong basket

Was he trying to earn infamy like the NFL’s Jim Marshall did? From AP-

Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni says Nate Robinson was not benched for taking a shot at the wrong basket Saturday.

The Knicks inbounded to Robinson in the backcourt with 0.5 seconds left in the first quarter of their 98-91 victory at New Jersey. Rather than just hold the ball, or heave one at the basket the Knicks were attacking, Robinson turned and shot at the wrong basket. The shot went in, but it was released after the buzzer and didn’t count.

D’Antoni yelled at Robinson on the court between quarters.

“When you’re 2-9, which we were at the time, I think any distractions are bad,” D’Antoni said Sunday before the Knicks played Boston. “If our whole focus is not on trying to win and turn this thing around, then it’s not right and it’s not something we want to do, and it’s just one incident and we’ll go on and we’ll see what happens today.”

Robinson played only six minutes all game, leading to speculation he was benched. But D’Antoni said he just felt other players, such as starting guard Larry Hughes, were playing better.

Robinson has been childish in his actions before. I think the shot at the wrong basket was deliberate.

Here’s the video-

The New Jersey Nets went to 0-13 with their loss in this game. Next up- a 4-game road trip to Denver, Portland, Sacremento, and the LA Lakers. I suspect New Jersey will start the month of December still looking for their first victory.


The Dirty Dozen- Milwaukee Bucks beat New Jersey 99-85

Chris Douglas-Roberts scored a career high 31 points in the game. From AP-

MILWAUKEE — Brandon Jennings knew it was a gamble. So far, all the odds have been in the rookie’s favor.

Jennings made a swipe and slam past two stunned Nets during a 15-0 run to start the second half, Andrew Bogut and Carlos Delfino each scored 21 points, and the Milwaukee Bucks beat winless New Jersey 99-85 on Wednesday night.

“He saw the whole thing develop,” Bucks coach Scott Skiles said. “That was a big momentum break for us. It was a big steal and you got to see the little fella down there dunk the ball.”

Jennings, who jammed a finger and got kneed twice that left him limping in the fourth quarter, said he took a beating against the Nets. But his nifty steal between Chris Douglas-Roberts and Rafer Alston was the more demoralizing blow.

Brandon Jennings, the 10th overall selection in the last NBA draft, is already making his mark in Milwaukee. Can he have the Bucks seriously challenging Cleveland for supremacy in the Central Division?

As for the 0-12 Nets, they are still four games short of their worst losing streak record. A mark that was set in 1978. I wonder how many Net player personal appearances have been sold recently and how much they’re going for.


Guess who’s coming to Dinner?- NJ Nets to sell player appearances

Maybe the team’s new owner, Mikhail Prokhorov, is short of cash at present. He only spent 700 million dollars to purchase the Nets. From AP-

For $25,000, you can watch the New Jersey Nets from courtside — and have a player stop by your son’s birthday party.

In a tough economy, it’s the Nets’ latest marketing effort to sell its pricey courtside seats. It’s called ‘Your Ticket to a Player.’

For $25,000, the Nets are offering four courtside tickets for 10 games, parking, access to a private lounge at the Izod Center with free food and beverages and something more — a one-hour appearance by a Nets player of your choice at your home, office, school or party.

“It will be interesting to have an NBA player come to your birthday party or come to your Bar Mitzvah or even just coming to your house for dinner for an hour when your friends are over,” Nets chief executive Brett Yormark said. “That’s a terrific thing and it’s tough to put a price tag on it.”

The package offers a discount: Purchased individually, Nets courtside seats sell for $750 each and 40 would cost $30,000.

What a bargain for a chance to watch a mediocre basketball team play. NOT! Will there be many takers for paid player appearances? Right now based on the U.S. economy, I doubt it.


Philadelphia 76ers hire Eddie Jordan to be head coach

He will replace Tony Dileo who was interim coach after Maurice Cheeks was fired. From AP-

Eddie Jordan is the new head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers, leaving Sacramento’s vacancy as the only remaining coaching opening in the league.

Jordan and the Sixers have reached an agreement on a multi-year deal to reunite the former Washington Wizards coach with Sixers president Ed Stefanski after Jordan and Stefanski worked together in New Jersey.

Jordan was the first to interview for the Philly job — which came open May 11 when Tony DiLeo returned to his front-office post after taking over for Maurice Cheeks in December and guiding the Sixers to the No. 6 seed in the East — and the only other candidate interviewed twice by Stefanski besides Dallas Mavericks assistant coach Dwane Casey.

Sources said Jordan was also the top candidate in Sacramento, but it was believed from the start he preferred to land with the Sixers, largely because Philly is coming off back-to-back playoff appearances. The Kings are essentially starting over after going 17-65 last season and coming out of last week’s lottery with the No. 4 overall pick despite finishing with the league’s worst record.

The status of the NBA franchise Philadelphia is obviously much rosier than that of the one in Sacramento. However the 76ers are nothing more than a run of the mill team. Jordan will have to work hard to improve on that and quickly or he could be fired just as fast as Cheeks was. I will grant this- Jordan did achieve a 20 game improvement in his second year in Washington from what the Wizards did in his first year as their coach. Maybe he can do it again.


Hall of Fame Basketball coach Chuck Daly dead at 78

He passed away after a short battle with cancer. Besides his NBA days, Daly was an Olympic coach and in his early days, a college basketball coach at Penn and Boston College. He was one of the great ones. RIP.

Chuck Daly, who coached the original Dream Team to the Olympic gold medal in 1992 after winning back-to-back NBA championships with the Detroit Pistons, has died. He was 78.

He died Saturday morning in Jupiter, Fla., with his family by his side, the team said. The Pistons announced in March that the Hall of Fame coach had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and was undergoing treatment.

He was renowned for his ability to create harmony out of diverse personalities at all levels of the game, whether they were Ivy Leaguers at Pennsylvania, Dream Teamers Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley, or Pistons as dissimilar as Dennis Rodman and Joe Dumars.

“It’s a players’ league. They allow you to coach them or they don’t,” Daly once said. “Once they stop allowing you to coach, you’re on your way out.”

Daly was voted one of the 10 greatest coaches of the NBA’s first half-century in 1996, two years after being inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. He was the first coach to win both an NBA title and Olympic gold.


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