Sports Outside the Beltway

NBA suspends training camps indefinitely

File this under not surprising news-

NEW YORK — The lockout has started doing real damage to the NBA’s calendar.

Players won’t report at the usual time. The preseason won’t start as scheduled.

And more cancellations could be necessary without a new labor deal soon.

Out of time to keep everything intact, the NBA postponed training camps indefinitely and canceled 43 preseason games Friday because it has not reached an agreement with players.

All games from Oct. 9-15 are off, the league said. Camps were expected to open Oct. 3.

“We have regretfully reached the point on the calendar where we are not able to open training camps on time and need to cancel the first week of preseason games,” deputy commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. “We will make further decisions as warranted.”

The players’ association did not comment.

I don’t expect their to be another NBA game this year. This kind of labor conflict is usually protracted and nothing will get done till the season is on the verge of being lost. As NHL fans know from 2004-2005, even then the dispute can go over the cliff taking a whole season with it.

I have no sympathy for either owners or players. The players are rich and overindulged, the owners of small market NBA teams had to know when going in that they had little chance of making the franchise they were purchasing into NBA Championship contenders/moneymakers.


Who forgot the D? New Orleans beats Golden State 135-131

The Hornets scored their greatest amount of points in 131 years last night.

Darren Collison hoped to one day turn in the type of performances that All-Stars Chris Paul and Steve Nash have become known for during their distinguished careers.

He didn’t necessarily think it would happen in his rookie year.

Collison had 16 points and a career-high 20 assists, and the New Orleans Hornets snapped a four-game losing streak with a 135-131 victory over the Golden State Warriors on Monday night.

Collison’s assists total tied Phoenix’s Nash for the most in an NBA game this season and was one short of his teammate Paul’s franchise record.

“Those are the guys, for us young guys, that we look up to in the NBA,” Collison said. “So to be mentioned in the same breath, it’s crazy. I still think I need a lot of work, but it feels good for right now.”


The Hornets’ 135 points were a season high and fourth highest in Hornets history. The last time they scored more was 136 on April 9, 1997, against Boston.

In 1997 the Hornets were playing in Charlotte.

Currently Charlotte stands 9th in the Eastern Conference playoff race but only a .5 game out of 8th and the last postseason spot. The East is tight from 5th to 9th with Milwaukee, Toronto, Miami, Chicago, and New Orleans jostling for those spots. I don’t Miami is going to make it, and suspect whichever of these five teams do make the playoffs, will play one round and be out. Cleveland, Boston, Orlando, and Atlanta shouldn’t any problems with these teams.


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.


Who called the timeout?- NY Knicks beat New Orleans 113-96

The last time New York last won 4 or more games in a row was 2006. From AP-

The New York Knicks were making shot after shot, ready to go down the stretch with the New Orleans Hornets.NYK-NOH

Turned out, they didn’t have to. The Hornets pretty much took the last five minutes off.

Al Harrington scored 28 points and the Knicks scored the game’s final 18 points to beat the Hornets 113-96 on Friday night.

“Our defense was horrible,” Paul said. “We’ve had a few games where our defense was good, but not tonight, and it was obvious we couldn’t buy a shot.”

Before the Knicks closing streak, the two teams were only separated by one shot. I’m guessing New Orleans got demoralized after the Knicks ran off 8-10 points and gave up. Pro athletes are human, when life or a sports game isn’t breaking our way, we lose interest.

With the win, the Knicks improved to 8-15. This recent winning streak has probably made Coach Mike D’Antoni’s job a little more secure. But for how long?


Denver Nuggets match most lopsided win in NBA playoff history

It is a game like this that makes you question if there are too many teams invited to the postseason.

Carmelo Anthony scored all of his 26 points in the first three quarters, and Denver thoroughly dismantled New Orleans 121-63 on Monday night to take a commanding 3-1 series lead.


The New Orleans Arena was mostly empty by the end of the third quarter, when Denver led 89-50 on its way to matching the most lopsided victory in NBA playoff history. The Minneapolis Lakers beat the St. Louis Hawks 133-75 in 1956.

Looking twice as quick as New Orleans on both ends of the court, the Nuggets stifled Hornets All-Star Chris Paul, whose four points and six assists amounted to one of the worst games of his career.

I’m surprised New Orleans managed to win one game in this series. Denver could make it to the Championship finals.


Why Hasn’t Free Throw Shooting Improved?

Tyson Chandler of the New Orleans Hornets took a free throw against the San Antonio Spurs in 2008. (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Tyson Chandler of the New Orleans Hornets took a free throw against the San Antonio Spurs in 2008. (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

I’m at best a casual fan of basketball but this is an interesting fact: Whereas just about every aspect of athletic performance in just about every sport has improved over the years, “one thing has remained remarkably constant: the rate at which players make free throws.”

Since the mid-1960s, college men’s players have made about 69 percent of free throws, the unguarded 15-foot, 1-point shot awarded after a foul. In 1965, the rate was 69 percent. This season, as teams scramble for bids to the N.C.A.A. tournament, it was 68.8. It has dropped as low as 67.1 but never topped 70.

In the National Basketball Association, the average has been roughly 75 percent for more than 50 years. Players in college women’s basketball and the W.N.B.A. reached similar plateaus — about equal to the men — and stuck there.

The explantion for why it hasn’t changed? Well, nothing has changed:

Ray Stefani, a professor emeritus at California State University, Long Beach, is an expert in the statistical analysis of sports. Widespread improvement over time in any sport, he said, depends on a combination of four factors: physiology (the size and fitness of athletes, perhaps aided by performance-enhancing drugs), technology or innovation (things like the advent of rowing machines to train rowers, and the Fosbury Flop in high jumping), coaching (changes in strategy) and equipment (like the clap skate in speedskating or fiberglass poles in pole vaulting).

The ball’s the same, the rim’s the same, the distance is the same. The athletes are stronger but it has little bearing on this aspect of the game. And coaching? Well, coaches spend about as much time on it as they always did. Why?

There is little correlation between free-throw percentages and winning percentages. Only one of the 25 best shooting teams, No. 2 North Carolina, is also in the latest Associated Press top 25 rankings. Southern Utah [ranked No. 1 at 80.5 percent] has a losing record.

Perhaps that’s because it’s one aspect of your game that the opponent can control. If you’re a good free throw shooting team, they’ll foul less.

Moreover, there would seem to be diminishing returns. If the best team is at 80.5 percent and the average is 70 percent, how much practice time do you want to devote at the expense of other skills?

via Tyler Cowen


Oklahoma City Thunder rescind Tyson Chandler trade

A bad big left toe means he will have to return to New Orleans. From ESPN-

Tyson Chandler missed the New Orleans Hornets’ last 12 games before the All-Star break with a sprained left ankle. But that had nothing to do with why he failed his physical with the Oklahoma City Thunder and was thus sent back to the Hornets on Wednesday.

After examining Chandler’s left big toe, Dr. Carlan Yates, Oklahoma City’s team physician, determined that the risk of re-injury was too great to give Chandler a clean bill of health. He therefore advised the Thunder to rescind Tuesday’s trade that landed them Chandler for Joe Smith, Chris Wilcox and the rights to Devon Hardin.

“This is absolutely crazy,” Chandler said in a telephone conversation Wednesday night. “I’m super shocked. This is nuts.”

Chandler, 26, was baffled by Yates’ ruling in part because Yates performed surgery on Chandler’s big left toe in April of 2007 when the Hornets were playing in Oklahoma City. Chandler played 79 games the following season and while he’s missed 19 games this season, none have been because of his toe.

“He said he doesn’t know how long I’ll last,” Chandler said in reference to Yates. “He told me, ‘I have no doubt you can play on it. I’m just saying it could take a turn for the worse if you come down on somebody’s foot or hyperextend it or something.’”

Chandler was bothered by the toe in last season’s playoffs and withdrew from Team USA over the summer.

It sounds to me if Chandler has a nagging injury. At over 12 million dollars a year salary,if I were Oklahoma City management I wouldn’t want to pay for Tyson Chandler either.

Henry Abbott at ESPN writes-

Now we know the Hornets — a team on delicate financial footing — are likely to be spending more than they think they should, and a lot of that will be going to a big man who has some kind of long-term health concerns.

And they were ready to hoist damaged goods off on another team. Would that make future potential trading partners leery of working with New Orleans in the future? Time will only tell about that, and whether Chandler can become 100% healthy again.


New Orleans Hornet Chris Paul sets new NBA steal record

He did so at the same time scoring 19 pts to help his team defeat the San Antonio Spurs. From AP-

After his history-making swipe, Chris Paul helped the Hornets steal a victory from the San Antonio Spurs.

Paul set an NBA record with a steal in his 106th straight regular-season game and had 19 points and 12 assists to lead New Orleans to a 90-83 comeback victory Wednesday night.

Paul broke Alvin Robertson’s NBA mark — which stood since 1986 — when he deflected and quickly corralled an attempted pass by Tony Parker late in the second quarter.

Congratulations Chris Paul and way to go.


Boston Celtics win 14th in a row, beat NO 94-82

This is the best start by a NBA team since the 95-96 Chicago Bulls. From AP-

Paul Pierce scored 28 points and Kevin Garnett had 19 points and 10 rebounds on Friday night to lead the Celtics to their 14th consecutive victory, a 94-82 win over their former teammate and the New Orleans Hornets.

“We will always be forever linked with him,” Garnett said of Posey, who was the leader of the Celtics bench when they won their NBA-record 17th title in 2007-08 before signing with New Orleans in the offseason. “It’s a business, and once the ball is jumped, then that’s what it is until summertime.”

Chris Paul had 20 points and 14 assists for the Hornets, while David West had 23 points and 14 rebounds. Posey scored seven points with seven rebounds and a steal while committing five fouls and contributing to a defense that forced the Celtics into 17 turnovers that led to 25 points.

The Celtics may not be the best team in the NBA at present. Cleveland(20-3) and the LA Lakers(19-3) are also tearing up the league. Is it too early to place bets on who will be in the NBA finals?


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