Bernucca: Have Pacers Lost Belief in Themselves?

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Believe it or not, there’s someone out there who doesn’t think the Indiana Pacers are coming apart at the seams. Lance Stephenson

“Everybody goes through this,” Spurs guard Tony Parker said last week after San Antonio manhandled Indiana, 103-77, on the Pacers’ home court. “I’m not worried about them. They’ll still make it to the Eastern Conference finals and they’ll still play Miami.”

Parker is somewhat right. From time to time, every championship contender has a stretch during a season where they look ordinary. Addled. Even awful at times.

Last month, the Miami Heat lost three in a row and seven of 11, including a home contest to Denver and a visit to New Orleans after which Chris Bosh plainly said, “We suck.”

The Oklahoma City Thunder welcomed back Russell Westbrook as they came out of the All-Star break and immediately lost three straight and five of eight, including a home loss to Cleveland and a road setback to the L.A. Lakers. The Houston Rockets were a pedestrian 8-8 in December, losing at home and on the road to Sacramento, at Utah and being blasted at Oklahoma City and Indiana.

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SH Blog: Chris Bosh is happy with his role with the Heat; Al Jefferson sprains ankle

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Chris_Bosh_cropOne of the only things as important to me as basketball is TV. Last week, they came together fantastically when Chris Bosh showed up on the best show on TV, Parks and Recreation. Bosh was only on screen for a few seconds, but they were some very memorable seconds. Check them out here.

Bosh isn’t Parks‘ first NBA player, of course. Roy Hibbert had a recurring role a couple seasons ago. Here’s hoping for a showdown in the near future — if not in Pawnee, then at least in the Eastern Conference playoffs. It was so good last time, why not do it again?

Bosh is also the subject of today’s first news item, so let’s get right to the latest from around the NBA:

  • Chris Bosh is happy with his role in Miami, writes Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: “LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, it would have been easy for Bosh to feel lost, adrift, perhaps longing for his own platform. But Big Three and third wheel are merely the basketball part of equation. Instead, Bosh has taken his championship platform and crafted his own stage, on the web, on television, in various media projects. It is why the member of the Big Three who would seem most likely to want to leave as a free agent in the offseason instead feels remarkably comfortable in his championship skin. “We have a lot of great players here; we’ve got LeBron, Dwyane,” Bosh said. “I’m not going to be crazy or be disrespectful to this team and take over their positions. I’m going to play my role to the best of my ability. As far as visibility is concerned, we have a unique opportunity to just really get out there and do some unique things. And, really, I try to take the bull by the horns and just try to build relationships that I want to build. And if I have certain opportunities that come to me, I’m going to take them.” “
  • GSW_Barnes_HarrisonSome mixed news for Warriors fans, via Marcus Thompson II of the Contra Costa Times: “Warriors forward Harrison Barnes likely won’t play the two exhibition games in China next week. Golden State is deciding to rest Barnes so the inflammation in his left foot will subside. According to a team official, Barnes does not have a condition, such as plantar fasciitis, and the ailment is something that just developed over time. Barnes was in the gym more than any player in the month leading up to training camp, and word coming out of Golden State is his injury is just a byproduct of that. The expectation in Warriors world is that Barnes’ injury is nothing to be too worried about. But given the injury history, all fingers are crossed.”
  • Sometimes, there’s a news item that is more interesting for what it denies than what it confirms. This one, from ESPN.com’s Michael Wallace on Michael Beasley, is one of those: “Beasley needed treatment to reduce swelling above his eye following Thursday’s game against Detroit, and reports initially said the reason was that he struck himself in the face out of frustration for mistakes on the court. Beasley said Friday he did hit himself as he ran back down the court during the third quarter of the win. But Beasley, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra and team officials said the wound above Beasley’s right eye was the result of an inadvertent blow he took from Pistons forward Jonas Jerebko as he attempted to block a shot in the third quarter, not from a self-inflicted punch. “I watched the video, and it does look like I knocked the mess out of myself,” Beasley said before Friday’s preseason game against the Charlotte Bobcats at the Sprint Center. “I had everybody in the world calling me and asking, ‘Why you so crazy?’”"
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  • Anthony BennettThe top two picks in the last draft faced off yesterday as the Cavaliers took on the Magic, and both looked good. Jodie Valade of the Cleveland Plain Dealer has the story, plus an outstanding mangled metaphor from Kyrie Irving: “It took nearly two full games, a bevy of missed defensive assignments, more than a dozen shot attempts that included a couple air balls, but Anthony Bennett finally showed up Friday. The Cavaliers’ No. 1 draft choice made his first real appearance of his short NBA career in his second preseason game, as he suddenly found his shooting touch while scoring 14 points in the fourth quarter to help Cleveland hold on to a 110-105 victory over Orlando at Amway Center. All but two of Bennett’s 16 points came in the fourth quarter, when he also managed to knock in two 3-point attempts – the first of his young career – and hit six straight field goals for the Cavaliers over a span of almost four minutes. … It was impressive enough that it nearly wiped out what had been a dominant performance from the 2013 No. 2 pick, Victor Oladipo. The Magic guard had 18 points on 7-for-13 shooting, and added eight rebounds and three assists. “He’s going to be great,” Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving said of Oladipo. “He’s going to be great in this league. … His potential is out of the roof.” “
  • Royce White is back on the court. Jason Wolf of USA Today has the story: “Former first-round draft pick Royce White made his Philadelphia 76ers debut in a 97-85 preseason victory against the Boston Celtics on Friday night at the University of Delaware. He didn’t play a minute for the Houston Rockets, who drafted him 16th overall in 2012, as a rookie because of a sometimes debilitating anxiety disorder and fear of flying. “It’s fantastic to see him on the floor,” Sixers coach Brett Brown said. “That was my thrill. … Just to let him get out and be with his teammates and play an NBA game is exciting for him and for us. We want to help him in any way we can. Like I said before, he’s a talent.” White (6-8, 260) finished with five points, three rebounds and five personal fouls in just less than 10 minutes on the court. The power forward picked up his first four fouls in less than three minutes in the first quarter, two while trying to set picks.”
  • JazzAl Jefferson has a sprained ankle, but it could have been a lot worse for the new Bobcats center. Michael Wallace of ESPN.com reports: “Jefferson fell awkwardly to the court with 5:41 left in the third quarter when he landed on the foot of Heat center Chris Bosh as the two fought for rebounding position in the lane. Jefferson remained on the court for several seconds until a timeout was called so he could be treated by team trainers. Teammates carried Jefferson to the locker room, where a Bobcats official confirmed the sprain after X-rays were negative. A dejected Jefferson had his right foot in a walking boot as he left the Sprint Center on crutches. “It’s sore as [expletive], real sore — that’s all I can tell you,” Jefferson told ESPN.com as he left the arena. “It feels like I’ve got a heartbeat in it. All that matters is that it’s negative. It ain’t nothing I’ve never been through before, so I’ve just got to get treatment and make sure I’m ready for the season.” Bobcats coach Steve Clifford said significant swelling in Jefferson’s ankle made it difficult to determine the extent of the injury or how much time the nine-year veteran might miss. But Jefferson will be out at least Saturday’s game against the Milwaukee Bucks.”
  • Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News looks at how the Mavs are dealing with Brandan Wright’s injury: “Nobody’s quite sure how long Brandan Wright’s recovery from a shoulder fracture will take, but coach Rick Carlisle is certain of one thing. The next man up will have to do the job. Namely, DeJuan Blair, along with Bernard James and Samuel Dalembert. “If it’s going to happen, this isn’t the worst time,” Carlisle said Friday. “He’s got a little time to heal. It’s going to be evaluated weekly. It could have been a lot worse. “(We’ll have to) plug other guys in. Now Blair becomes more at the forefront. Sarge has to be ready. Sam has to keep playing like he did the other night. And it gives guys like Balkman and Melo to get more minutes in the preseason.” Wright, the 6-10 center-forward who had bulked up in the off-season and was primed for significant playing time after breaking out with a nice second half of the 2012-13 season, suffered a non-displaced fracture of the left shoulder in practice Tuesday.”

Evening News: Fractures for Brandan Wright and Rodney Stuckey; Wade on the court

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In today’s NBA news, Mavericks forward Brandan Wright will be out of action for a while with a small fracture in his left shoulder; Rodney Stuckey fractured his thumb on a car door; and Dwayne Wade returned to action for the Miami Heat.

Five Things To Watch: Dallas Mavericks

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  • By Tim Cato
  • August 29, 2013 at 9:15 PM

220px-Rick_CarlisleAfter the high of winning the 2011 NBA championship, it didn’t take the Dallas Mavericks long to tumble back down.

Between the much-publicized decision to let most of the championship team go, and the subsequent failure to obtain a top-tier free agent, Dallas is treading water – not quite ready to go under but with no real rescue in sight.

This offseason, the Mavericks rolled the dice and brought in an eclectic combination of players through free agency that left much of the league shaking its heads in confusion. But as the end of Dirk Nowitzki’s career grows visible, it was clear Dallas had to take a chance on some guys and pray that it works.

Here are five key things to watch to see whether or not the Mavericks’ gambling will pay off.

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Bernucca: The 10 Worst Offseason Free Agent Signings

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DanGilbertPresser100515-300x189Whenever the NBA and the Players Association negotiate a collective bargaining agreement, the media – including Sheridan Hoops – goes to great lengths to understand and explain its rules, exceptions and nuances.

But since the first wave of players began making the jump from high school to the NBA in the mid-1990s, the premise of every new CBA could be summed up in six words: To save the owners from themselves.

Restraint never has been the collective strength of NBA owners. In every CBA, they have installed mechanisms that mandate restraint and prevent them from spending stupidly.

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