Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Warriors' Curry misses 2nd game in row with sprained ankle

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Warriors guard Stephen Curry missed his second straight game Wednesday against Memphis because of a sprained right ankle.

Curry originally was hurt in Golden State's final preseason game and aggravated the injury in the season opener against Houston before rolling on it in last Friday's 109-91 win over the Los Angeles Clippers.

"A lot of the swelling went down and now it's just a matter of trying to continue the rehab and strengthening of it," coach Keith Smart said. "We're going to give him some more time off before rushing into it. We have to err on the side of caution right now just because we're talking about playing the long haul and getting ourselves ready for the long push later on."

Reggie Williams started in Curry's place.

76ers coach Collins leaves game with illness

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Philadelphia 76ers coach Doug Collins was not on the bench for the second half of Wednesday night's game against Indiana because of symptoms related to vertigo. His return was questionable.

Associate head coach Michael Curry took over with the Sixers holding a 26-point lead at halftime.

Collins missed two preseason games because of symptoms related to a concussion he sustained on Memorial Day. He then had neurological testing and treatment for what was diagnosed as vertigo.

Rivers bothered by tweeting of in-game comments

BOSTON (AP) -- Boston coach Doc Rivers feels what is said on the court should be left on the court.

Detroit's Charlie Villanueva took it to Twitter on Tuesday night, writing on his account that Kevin Garnett called him a "cancer patient" during Boston's 109-86 road win.

Villanueva suffers from alopecia universalis, a medical condition that results in hair loss. He does not have hair on his head.

Garnett, known as a trash talker, stuck to his usual routine and did not speak to the media before Wednesday's game against the Milwaukee Bucks.

He did issue a statement before the game.

"I am aware there was a major miscommunication regarding something I said on the court last night. My comment to Charlie Villanueva was in fact: You are cancerous to your team and our league,"' Garnett said. "I would never be insensitive to the brave struggle that cancer patients endure. I have lost loved ones to this deadly disease and have a family member currently undergoing treatment. I would never say anything that distasteful. The game of life is far bigger than the game of basketball."

One of Villanueva's tweets read: "KG called me a cancer patient, I'm (mad) because, u know how many people died from cancer, and he's tossing it like it's a joke."

Rivers defended his forward while wondering why someone would need to share in-game comments.

"I actually heard what Kevin said. I was right there, what he really said is in the statement. I'm going to leave it at that," he said. "I don't like the whole tweeting thing. I'm going to state that as well. Guys talk on the court. It doesn't mean they should or shouldn't. The fact that we're talking about this, it's just silly. It really is. We had a hell of a game yesterday and we should be talking about basketball.

"Talking about what the guys said during the game, there isn't a place. I don't find a place for it."

Villanueva was bothered by what he thought he heard.

"I wouldn't even trip about that, but a cancer patient, I know way 2 many people who passed away from it, and I have a special place 4 those," the message reads.

He also wrote that Garnett talks a lot but has probably never been in a fight, and he'd love to step in a ring with him.

Boston guard Ray Allen was on the court, but didn't hear the alleged comment.

"I don't know anything about it. The first I heard about it was actually this afternoon when I was eating and ready to head over," he said. "I don't know what was said. They had words and they were kind of going at each other."

He also said players should be careful with any tweets or pictures taken off the court.

"Definitely in this day and age we come across so many people with cameras and cell phones and Twitters," he said. "The social network is such a huge thing in this day and age. You have to be consistent with your message."

Allen said he does not tweet any longer after an incident involving his account.

Madison Square Garden to reopen for Knicks' game Friday

NEW YORK (AP) -- Madison Square Garden will reopen Friday night for the New York Knicks' game against Washington following an asbestos scare that forced the postponement of a game Tuesday night.

"After receiving assurance from the city and environmental experts regarding the safety of the arena for our customers and employees, all events at Madison Square Garden, beginning with Friday night's Knicks game, will go on as scheduled," arena officials said in a statement Wednesday.

"We have been working with the appropriate experts to confirm the arena is safe since debris fell during overnight work Monday. We will announce the rescheduled date for the postponed Knicks vs. Magic game, in conjunction with the NBA, in the near future. We would like to thank the city for their assistance in this matter, and appreciate the patience of our fans."

City environmental officials who inspected the 42-year-old sports and concert hall Tuesday afternoon gave it a clean bill of health.

Debris dislodged during a cleanup of an attic space triggered two air quality detectors, but subsequent testing revealed that the particles did not contain asbestos, city officials said. The finding came too late in the day to save the game Tuesday night against Orlando, which had already been postponed.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Wednesday that even though there was no health risk, the arena's operators deserve credit for putting safety first.

"If they made any mistakes, they were mistakes in the direction of being cautious and they should be commended for that," he said. "It turns out that our Department of Environmental Protection is very satisfied that there was no asbestos there. There were no risks, and if we had more time before they had to make a decision on the game, perhaps they wouldn't have even canceled the game."

The arena is in the midst of a major renovation that will revamp the seating, add new luxury suites and create a new entrance and new public concourses. Much of the heaviest construction has been scheduled for summer months, but some work is being done year round.

Work is expected to continue through the 2013-2014 NBA and NHL seasons.

It is unclear how much of that overhaul involves abating asbestos, or whether that kind of potentially hazardous work will be confined to the offseason.

Star trio sees their stats drop as Heat's win total climbs

MIAMI (AP) -- For $327 million this summer, the Miami Heat got three players whose statistics are plummeting.

The Heat are thrilled by that development.

When Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh decided to team up in Miami, each quickly said individual numbers would be irrelevant - the first time in any of their basketball lives they could have that luxury. And after winning four straight, the last three by at least 23 points, the less-is-more approach is working wonders for the Heat.

"I had too many close games last year,'' Wade said after Tuesday's 129-97 win over Minnesota. "I appreciate these.''

Through five games, Wade's scoring is down 23 percent from his early pace last season. James has gone four games without scoring more than 20 points for the first time since December 2003, and the Heat have nonetheless won all those contests. Bosh's numbers are well off his career scoring and rebounding averages.

In past years, these would represent big problems.

These days, the 'Big 3' say those are all great signs.

"I don't care about numbers,'' Bosh said. "The only number I care about is winning. You can have great games, you can have great numbers and be at the bottom of the totem pole as far as the league is concerned. I think I can speak for that, too. I've experienced it. You can do everything you want, you can average the best numbers, but if you don't win it really doesn't matter.''

The Heat are off until visiting New Orleans on Friday.

Miami's victory over Minnesota was so one-sided that James didn't get his second field goal until the third quarter, and by then the Heat had already put 77 points on the scoreboard. The Heat became the first team since Detroit early in the 2007-08 season to win three straight games by such a large margin.

True, the combined record of the four teams Miami has defeated so far - New Jersey, Orlando, Philadelphia and Minnesota - was just 4-9 entering Wednesday night's games. Which might be why Heat coach Erik Spoelstra walked off the court at the final buzzer Tuesday already thinking up ways for his team to get better.

"That's the sickness of head coaching in this business. It really is,'' Spoelstra said. "Because immediately, what I'm thinking after the game is we have to stay sharp. Are we building the right mental toughness in these games? We'll take these games whenever you can get them. Obviously, you want to play efficient, productive basketball.''

He can't question either of those two counts.

One of the many reasons why the Heat stars are seeing their stat totals dip is because they're simply not on the court long enough to pile up numbers. In fourth quarters this season, out of a possible 60 minutes of playing time, Wade has logged 24, James 25 and Bosh 27 - and of those 76 combined minutes, 30 came in the season-opening loss to Boston.

"We love being out on the court and if we could, we'd play 48 minutes, all three of us, the whole game,'' said James, who had 12 assists Tuesday night, the most ever by a Heat forward in the franchise's 23-year history. "But we know what's best for the team. And while we're out on the court, we just try to do it all.''

Wade is averaging 22.4 points, nearly eight points less than his league-best clip from two seasons ago. James is averaging 20.4 points, which would be a career-low. Bosh's 13.0-per-game pace is 11 points shy of his average last year.

Regardless, the system is working. Ask any of their last four opponents.

"Those guys are starting to click a little bit,'' said Minnesota forward Anthony Tolliver. "I know it's early, but they are starting to figure each other out.''

Not just that, but the Heat are proving, once again, that stat sheets hardly ever tell the entire story.

Wade and James are both former NBA scoring champions; they entered Wednesday ranked 15th and 24th respectively in that department this season. Bosh has a total of five offensive rebounds through five games; he had 12 games last season alone where he grabbed that many. Mike Miller is out until January with a broken thumb and ligament damage, and starting center Joel Anthony is the NBA's only player so far with more than 100 minutes (102) and less than 18 points (seven).

And they're flying out of the gate anyway.

"We have a goal,'' James said. "We have a high goal. Our long-term goal is, of course, to bring another gold ball to this franchise. There's going to be times where we got better one night and we still lose. But we won't be satisfied if we leave a game saying we could have done things better.''

Dudley in nail-biter for governor; Bradley falls in Utah

Pro wrestling's Linda McMahon was taken down in Connecticut and two former NBA centers went before voters on an Election Day when sports and politics crossed paths.

Chris Dudley, who built a long NBA career despite some of the game's most abysmal foul shooting, was still locked in a tight contest for governor in Oregon on Wednesday. The race was among the most prominent of the some two dozen across the country featuring sports figures.

Dudley, 6-foot-11 center from Yale who once played for the Portland Trail Blazers, drew on his NBA connections and among his supporters was Commissioner David Stern.

Shawn Bradley, a 7-foot-6 former BYU star who spent 12 years in the NBA, lost his bid for a spot in the Utah Legislature on Tuesday night. He was defeated by state Rep. Tim Cosgrove, a Democrat.

McMahon, the former CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment who presented herself as a shrewd businesswoman, was beaten for the U.S. Senate seat by Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal. Throughout the Republican primary and general election, McMahon was questioned about the WWE's role in steroids, the health of the wrestlers and the way wrestling portrays women.

McMahon and husband Vince McMahon turned what was once a marginal enterprise into a cash-rich empire. She besieged the state with ads and is believed to have spent at least $50 million of her own money on her campaign. Now, she's wary of a return to wrestling.

"You can't step out of WWE and expect to come back in because it moves forward and it's moving forward at a great pace,'' she said. "I wouldn't try to step back in there.''

Heath Shuler, the former quarterback for the Washington Redskins and New Orleans Saints, was re-elected to Congress from North Carolina in an important race for Democrats. Shuler, part of the conservative Blue Dog coalition, held off Republican Jeff Miller in a campaign in which the football star tried to show where he broke with his party's leadership.

Republican Jon Runyan, a former Eagles lineman who spent 14 years in the NFL, defeated Democrat John Adler in a tight U.S. House race in New Jersey. Republican Jason Chaffetz, who once kicked 10 extra points in a game for BYU, was re-elected to Congress from Utah.

Alan Page, the Pro Football Hall of Famer for the Minnesota Vikings, kept his seat on the Minnesota Supreme Court.

The U.S. Senate is losing its headline sports figure with the retirement of Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Bunning of Kentucky. Sen. Herb Kohl of Wisconsin, owner of the Milwaukee Bucks, was not up for election.

Kendrick Meek, once a defensive lineman on Florida A&M's conference championship team, was beaten decisively in the Senate race in Florida won by Marco Rubio. Meek, a Democrat, drew less than 20 percent of the vote.

Indiana's Baron Hill, a former basketball player at Furman, was caught in the sweeping Republican gains in the House. The Democrat was assailed by Republicans for backing the federal stimulus and health care bills. Norm Dicks, an ex-linebacker at the University of Washington, easily won re-election to the U.S. House from Washington.

A Virginia congressional race featured former Virginia football player Kenny Golden. The conservative Republican lost while running as an independent. In a U.S. House race in Ohio, former Arena Football League owner James Renacci was a winner. The Republican used to own the Columbus Destroyers.

Taking a swing at politics was former lumberjack champion Sean Duffy. The Republican won a spot in the U.S. House from Wisconsin and succeeds David Obey, the longtime Democrat who announced his retirement in May.

Republican Connie Mack, the great grandson of the legendary manager, easily won re-election to Congress from Florida. And Miami Dolphins rookie Nolan Carroll will have something to talk about at practice. The cornerback's mother is Jennifer Carroll, the running mate of Republican Rick Scott, who claimed the Florida governor's race when Democrat Alex Smith conceded Wednesday.

In the Tennessee Legislature, it was hardly a close call for former American League umpire Dale Ford. He ran unopposed.

In two sports-related ballot measures:

• Voters in Mesa, Ariz., overwhelmingly approved funding for a new spring training facility for the Chicago Cubs.

• Missouri voters approved tighter regulations on dog breeders, a measure promoted by St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa.

Kobe says he'll play for U.S. in 2012 if wanted

(AP) -- Mike Krzyzewski has a commitment from another top recruit: Kobe Bryant.

Bryant told the U.S. basketball coach he would play in the London Olympics in 2012 if the Americans want him there.

The 32-year-old Lakers guard was a guest on Krzyzewski's SIRIUS XM radio show Tuesday when the Duke coach asked Bryant about London.

"You guys want me there, I am there and I'm ready to defend," Bryant said. "And then when you guys need me to put some points on the board, I'll do that, too."

Bryant confirmed his interest in wearing the red-white-and-blue again Tuesday night after scoring 23 points in Los Angeles' 124-105 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies.

"It's a huge honor to be a part of that," Bryant said.

Bryant was a starter on the U.S. squad that won gold medals in 2008 in Beijing, but hasn't played for the American team since then. He sat out the world championships this summer, recovering from right knee surgery following the Lakers' taxing championship run to Game 7 of the NBA finals.

Bryant will turn 34 in August 2012, and his two-time defending champion Lakers appear to be loaded for two more long playoff runs after making the last three NBA finals. Yet Bryant scoffs at worries about the wear and tear on his body in the early weeks of his 15th season with the Lakers.

"If anything, I'll just be Mariano Rivera - come in in the last two minutes," Bryant said, referring to the Yankees closer.

Beijing stalwarts LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard and Chris Paul also skipped the Istanbul tournament, while Kevin Durant led the remainder of the U.S. team to its first world championship in 16 years.

Anthony and Paul already have said they would love to return for another Olympic run. The Americans will have next summer off, already qualified for the Olympics with the world title won by Durant and a supporting cast including Lamar Odom, who's off to an outstanding start with the Lakers despite his extra summer work.