Miami Heat News: Shabazz Napier and Hassan Whiteside Recalled From D-League

It appears Shabazz Napier and Hassan Whiteside’s stay with the Sioux Falls Skyforce was a short one after all.
The Miami Heat announced early Monday that they have recalled both Napier and Whiteside from their D-League affiliate. Both players were sent to Sioux Falls on December 13, just a day before the Heat were set to play the Chicago Bulls on Sunday night. Napier and Whiteside made one appearance for the Skyforce, leading the team to a 124-105 victory over the Iowa Energy on Saturday.

OFFICIAL: The @MiamiHEAT have recalled both Shabazz Napier & Hassan Whiteside from the @SFSkyforce (@nbadleague) – http://t.co/zTU2suztTd
— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) December 15, 2014

Napier scored 22 points, notched three assists, two rebounds and a steal in the victory. Whiteside recorded 21 points, 12 rebounds and blocked four shots in his lone appearance for the D-League affiliate.
Both players will be available for Tuesday night’s game in Brooklyn when the Heat take on the Nets. In …

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Winners and Losers from the AP College Basketball Top 25 Rankings in Week 6

The latest Associated Press Top 25 rankings for men’s college basketball have been released, and the winners and losers were quite few and far between.

Aside from Butler free-falling from No. 15 to No. 23, not a single team in the Top 16 moved more than one rung up or down. That includes Kentucky remaining the unanimous No. 1 team in the country for a second straight week.

Michigan State was the only new arrival to the AP Top 25, but the Spartans actually received fewer votes this week than they did last week.

We didn’t let it deter us, though.

The people want five winners and five losers every Monday morning, and darn it, we give the people what they want. So let’s get this party started with the newest member of the Big Ten to reach the Top 25 and conclude it with a Big Ten team who curiously slipped a little bit this week.

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Biggest Takeaways from Week 5 of the 2014-15 College Basketball Season

It is important that college basketball fans not jump to any drastic conclusions until March, but we can still learn some interesting lessons along the way.

Week 5 of the college basketball season taught us a few things, not the least of which once again revolved around Kentucky, which is important with conference play right around the corner. After all, the only way to get to March is by playing well in your league, and some teams are clearly set up to do that better than others at this point.

With that in mind, here is a look at some of the biggest takeaways from Week 5 of the college basketball season.

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Nets fan with prosthetic leg who was escorted from game falls to death: Report

The Brooklyn Nets superfan who had to be carried out from a game amid claims that he attacked another spectator with his prosthetic leg earlier this month, has died. Jeffrey Vanchiro was killed after falling from a window on the second floor of his father’s house in Queens, on Saturday night. He sustained severe brain damage and a fractured spinal cord in the fall. Vanchiro, a former professional poker player also known as Jeffrey Gamblero, allegedly jumped from the building in a disorientated state. The colorful Vanchiro had become known to fellow Nets fans for his loud cheers, even louder outfits and dancing during games. But he became a viral video folk hero when he was ejected from the Nets-Knicks game at Madison Square Garden (video below) on December 2. Vanchiro’s fiance said that he had behaved erratically since being ejected from the game. “After that, he was a completely different person,’”Kristi Evans told The New York Times. “He was paranoid. He was err

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Watch Every Major Scoring Milestone from Kobe’s Career, Including Passing MJ

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant has officially passed Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan on the all-time NBA scoring list.

Watch every major scoring milestone from Bryant’s career, from his first point to passing MJ, in the video above.

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Nets guard Jack graduates from Georgia Tech

After nine years in the NBA.

      
 

 

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UNC vs. Kentucky: Score and Twitter Reaction from 2014 Regular Season

Laugh all you want at the notion that the Kentucky basketball team could go undefeated in the 2014-15 season, but it looked completely dominant against yet another nationally ranked team Saturday.

The Wildcats destroyed North Carolina to the tune of 84-70, but the game wasn’t even as close as the final score indicated. The Wildcats went on a run to open up a double-digit lead late in the first half and never looked back.

Willie Cauley-Stein led the way with 15 points, six rebounds, four steals and two blocks while Devin Booker chipped in 15 points off the bench. In all, four Wildcats ended up in double figures. Kentucky’s athleticism and depth were simply too much for North Carolina to handle for the entire 40 minutes.

Brice Johnson and Marcus Paige spearheaded the North Carolina attack with a combined 29 points, but it was far too little, too late.

The natural assumption whenever Kentucky takes the floor is that it will blow away the competition because of its length, size, depth and overall talent, but Doug Gottlieb of CBS Sports noted before the game that North Carolina could also cause some problems for the same reasons: 

Unfortunately for the Wildcats, they lost some of that depth during Thursday’s practice when Alex Poythress tore his ACL. Head coach John Calipari discussed the significance of the loss, via ESPN.com:

“Things that people can’t do, he can doand they all came at great times. I can remember last year against Louisville his three-minute span was ridiculous. So now we don’t have that guy that we can play poorly and he’ll go do something that will get you back in the game.”

Kyle Tucker of The Courier-Journal noted that Poythress was on the crowd’s mind at tipoff:

It didn’t take long for Kentucky to feed off the crowd’s energy. Andrew Carter of The News & Observer explained why UNC got off to a slow start:

It was particularly concerning for the Tar Heels that Kentucky was hitting from the outside, which is the one thing the Wildcats don’t do well. Coming into this game, Kentucky was only shooting 27.7 percent from three-point range. Nick Gray of The Kentucky Kernel acknowledged the shooting:

North Carolina survived the early storm and cut into the lead with a first-half run of its own. Carter described the action and opined about the importance of the pace of play:

While North Carolina hung within striking distance in the first half, Seth Davis of CBS Sports had an interesting observation: 

The Tar Heels may have kept the game close in the early going, but Kentucky’s overwhelming talent took over down the stretch before halftime. The Wildcats drilled six three-pointers, forced North Carolina into 10 turnovers and held superstar Marcus Paige to a measly two points in the first 20 minutes. 

It was good enough for a 49-34 lead. Pat Forde of Yahoo Sports, Jeff Goodman of ESPN and John Clay of the Lexington Herald-Leader pointed out some of the problems that were crippling North Carolina’s upset efforts:

North Carolina came out of the locker room energized and cut into the lead a bit when Paige hit a three-pointer. Gray passed along one of the interactions from the Wildcats on the floor in response:

The problem with pushing the pace against Kentucky, though, is that its incredible athleticism all over the floor shines through that way. Anytime the Tar Heels cut the lead down to fewer than 15 in the initial minutes after intermission, the Wildcats would respond by forcing a turnover and getting out in transition for an easy basket on the other end.

Another problem for the Tar Heels was Kentucky’s shooting, as Tucker pointed out:

With Kentucky up 18 on the court, Matt Jones of Kentucky Sports Radio passed along an inspiring development off the floor:

Paige carried the Tar Heels back to within nine points with a couple of threes and assists. Gray acknowledged how important Paige was to the comeback efforts: 

The mini-spurt from North Carolina was a minor concern for Kentucky, but the most alarming development in the second half was Tyler Ulis leaving with an injury, as Tucker noted:

Even without Ulis on the floor, things appeared hopeless for North Carolina. Tucker pointed out that even with Paige playing up to his potential in the second half, the Tar Heels were struggling to get within striking distance: 

Kentucky also received more good news with just less than seven minutes remaining in the game when Ulis returned to the floor. It ended up only being a cramp, which was encouraging considering he missed the recent victory over Columbia with a minor injury.

The Wildcats effectively put the game away in a one-minute stretch with five minutes remaining. They broke North Carolina’s press and set up Cauley-Stein for an emphatic alley-oop slam to go up 14. Kentucky then found Cauley-Stein for another dunk in transition on the next possession.

By the time North Carolina looked up, it was 78-62, and the crowd was going crazy with about four minutes remaining in the game. Both Tucker and Gray praised Cauley-Stein for his incredible efforts:

From there, the rest of the game was just a formality. That allowed Goodman to take a bigger-picture look at Kentucky:

The Wildcats put it on cruise control for the last few minutes and won in dominating fashion, 84-70.

Jon Bois of SB Nation put it best:

 

What’s Next?

This showdown with North Carolina was just the first in a grueling series of three games for the Wildcats before SEC play begins.

Kentucky plays UCLA in Chicago on Saturday in the CBS Sports Classic and then travels to Louisville to take on the archrival Cardinals and their suffocating defense. North Carolina will also be in Chicago on Saturday for the CBS Sports Classic, but it will take on Ohio State in the first game of the doubleheader.

Before the clash with the Buckeyes, the Tar Heels get a warm-up game Tuesday against UNC Greensboro.

These type of nonconference showdowns are exactly what the selection committee is looking for come Selection Sunday. Strength of schedule is important, especially when competing for a No. 1 seed, and the scheduling from North Carolina and Kentucky will not go unrecognized.

Neither will 14-point victories over ranked teams.

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Michigan vs. Arizona: Score and Twitter Reaction from 2014 Regular Season

The No. 3 Arizona Wildcats ran their record to 10-0 on Saturday night with a dominant 80-53 win over the Michigan Wolverines in Tucson, Arizona.

From the very beginning, Arizona’s size and interior defense were deciding factors. After leading 36-25 at the half, Arizona ran away with the game in the final 20 minutes. The loss dropped Michigan to 6-4 on the season and marked its third consecutive defeat.

Wildcats super-freshman Stanley Johnson led the way with 15 points and seven rebounds. The Score captured this impressive two-handed jam in the first half that sparked Arizona to the early lead:

Rebounding was a huge reason Arizona dominated the game. The Wildcats beat the Wolverines 40-26 on the glass. Arizona also got just about any shot it wanted on the floor. The Wildcats shot 58 percent from the field, and their defense limited Michigan to just 35 percent shooting and 27 percent from beyond the three-point line.

At one point, ESPN Stats and Info captured just how dominant Arizona had been on the inside, and it compared it to how futile Michigan’s offense was on the whole:

Wolverines star Caris LeVert could not get anything going. Stingy and aggressive defense from Rondae Hollis-Jefferson was one of the main reasons. LeVert had just eight points on 2-of-9 shooting. He came into the game averaging 17.7 points per contest. 

The eight points are LeVert’s second-lowest total of the season; Saturday’s game was just the second time he failed to reach double figures this year. Hollis-Jefferson finished with 10 points and seven rebounds.

Before the game, Mike Schmitz of Draft Express said he was looking forward to the LeVert vs. Hollis-Jefferson matchup:

It’s clear who won that duel.

Sophomore Zak Irvin led Michigan in scoring, finishing with 14 points, but the team clearly struggled to get buckets from anyone.

Arizona wasn’t perfect. Sean Miller’s kids have to really work on their free-throw shooting. They made just 50 percent of their attempts. In a closer game, this deficiency could have come back to bite them.

Once the game was over, Miller harped on the positives his team displayed, and he gave a shout-out to the McKale Center crowd in Tucson on Twitter:

From here, Arizona will have three days off before it heads into what figures to be another blowout win. The Wildcats will host the Horizon League’s Oakland Golden Grizzlies on Tuesday night. It would be a shock if Arizona didn’t run its record to 11-0 after that one.

Michigan has a full seven-day layoff after Saturday night’s loss.

The tough SMU Mustangs are next on the schedule for the Wolverines on Dec. 20. Hall of Fame coach Larry Brown has the Mustangs at 6-3, but the American Athletic Conference leaders have struggled against ranked and big-name teams. Their three losses came to the Gonzaga Bulldogs, the Arkansas Razorbacks and Indiana Hoosiers. Only the Hoosiers weren’t ranked when they faced SMU.

Heading into Ann Arbor with a chance to knock off Michigan represents a big opportunity for the Mustangs. If Michigan is going to avoid a fourth straight loss, it will have to play better than it did on Saturday.

 

Follow Brian Mazique on Twitter. Basketball is awesome.

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2 Southern Miss players ‘released’ from team

2 Southern Miss players _ guards Shadell Millinghaus and Dallas Anglin _ ‘released’ from team

      
 

 

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Lakers vs. Spurs: Score and Twitter Reaction from 2014 Regular Season

On a night when Kobe Bryant was supposed to make history, Nick Young stole the show, hitting a go-ahead three-pointer with 7.4 seconds left in overtime to propel the Los Angeles Lakers to a 112-110 victory over the San Antonio Spurs in the AT&T Center on Friday night.

The Lakers were less than a minute from pulling off arguably their best win of the season in regulation.

After trying and failing to overtake Los Angeles for much of the second half, the Spurs mounted a late charge. Manu Ginobili hit a three-pointer with 1:22 left in the fourth quarter to close the Lakers’ lead to four points, 101-97. A little less than 40 seconds later, Danny Green capitalized on a Bryant turnover with another three to make it a one-point game, 101-100.

Zach Harper of CBSSports.com joked that Bryant was stealthily finding a way to prolong the game so as to allow himself more time to pass Michael Jordan on the all-time scoring list:

Bryant’s poor play was again at the fore as he let Ginobili get the baseline and set up for the potential game-winner in the dying seconds. Bomani Jones described the move in simple terms:

Jordan Hill fouled Ginobili on the shot, sending the Argentine to the foul line for two shots. Ginobili, a career 83.2 percent free-throw shooter, only hit one of the two free throws, tying the game.

Both the Lakers and Spurs had a chance to win the game before time expired in regulation, but Bryant and Tim Duncan had shots go begging.

The overtime period was similarly competitive, with the Lakers building a three-point lead, 109-106, with 1:47 to go. Duncan then put the Spurs in the lead with consecutive baskets, the last of which came with 64 seconds remaining.

That merely set the stage for Young’s frantic heave from well beyond the arc as the shot clock approached zeroes.

Young played well all game, leading all scorers with 29 points on 9-of-14 shooting. After the win, he admitted that a little prodding from Kobe helped to give him the added incentive to make the game-winner, per Mike Trudell of Lakers.com:

Green and Duncan scored 19 apiece for the Spurs in the loss, with Duncan passing Jerry West on the all-time scoring list, per NBA TV:

Tony Parker struggled to find his shot, finishing 2-of-5 from the floor with five points, which led to some of the Spurs’ problems on the offensive end. Cory Joseph added some much-needed scoring at point guard, playing 35 minutes off the bench and finishing with 16 points.

The biggest storyline entering the game was Kobe Bryant’s pursuit of Jordan on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. Coming into Friday night, he needed 31 points to pass Jordan to take sole possession of third.

Now into his 19th season, Bryant’s been inextricably linked with Jordan throughout his career, and USA Today‘s Adi Joseph argued that the two are cut from the same cloth:

The influence is obvious. Watch Bryant operate from the low post or on the baseline, then imagine those moves being done in a red-and-black No. 23 jersey instead of his purple-and-gold No. 24. There’s a presence, a competitive fire that defines each legend. Jordan’s tongue-wagging has been replaced by Bryant’s jutting chin and jersey-gnawing.

“I think Kobe Bryant studied MJ, to be honest,” Denver Nuggets point guard Ty Lawson said. “The way he moves, even after he won his fifth championship he did the same celebration that MJ did (pumping his fist and rallying the home crowd). … I think he models most of the things he does after Jordan.”

FiveThirtyEight weighed in with a metric comparison between the two, and Jordan won decisively:

While that debate will continue to rage on for decades, what isn’t in doubt is that Kobe remains behind MJ in the record books. Bryant only scored 22 points on 7-of-22 shooting, now needing nine points to overtake Jordan.

Many wondered if Bryant would prioritize passing Jordan over winning the game, but that didn’t prove to be true. His final shot tally was almost directly in line with his average of 22.4 shots a game entering Friday night, and that’s after the extra period.

At times, it was as if Bryant got more satisfaction from stringing the fans along. Per the Twitter account netw3rk, Kobe was using “MJ-record rope-a-dope passes”:

As a result, the Lakers’ supporting cast stole the show. In addition to Young, L.A.’s bench played a pivotal role. Carlos Boozer and Jeremy Lin each added 14 points. Boozer finished with a double-double, grabbing 13 boards in addition to his point total. Even Robert Sacre contributed productive minutes, scoring four points and collecting six rebounds.

As if Bryant’s attempt to catch Jordan didn’t add enough intrigue to the game, this was also the first time the Lakers took the court since Kobe unleashed an expletive-laden rant against his teammates during a practice on Thursday, per ESPN.com’s Arash Markazi.

While Magic Johnson may be content to see the Lakers tank this year, Bryant won’t sit idly by as the team hovers near the bottom of the Western Conference.

His teammates responded positively in the first half against the Spurs, helping Los Angeles run out to a 54-50 halftime lead. Bryant struggled to find a groove, shooting 3-of-9 and scoring 11 points in the first two quarters.

Luckily for the Lakers, Young and Lin stepped up, combining to score 27 points and shoot 7-of-8 from three-point range. Young in particular started out hot, hitting his first five attempts from behind the arc.

Trudell compared Young’s hot start to catching fire in NBA Jam:

Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times pondered that Young might manage to catch up with Kobe and MJ on the scoring list:

Kawhi Leonard didn’t suit up for the Spurs on Friday, which meant the rest of the team would have to compensate. The majority of the scoring burden fell to Duncan and Parker. While the former nearly posted a double-double in the first half (10 points, nine rebounds), the latter failed to score a single point.

As Mike Monroe of the San Antonio Express-News pointed out, San Antonio received little production from its French contingent:

Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News felt the game was playing against type in almost every respect:

Los Angeles continued to strike a great balance on the offensive end and remained committed on defense, building an 11-point lead, 86-75, heading into the fourth quarter. The Spurs kept getting to within arm’s reach of the Lakers, and then L.A. would quickly turn a two- or three-point lead into a five- or six-point lead.

The first 10 minutes of the fourth quarter were essentially a carbon copy of the third. The Spurs continued hanging around, but they couldn’t string together enough of an offensive run to take the lead. Then came San Antonio’s late push that sent the game into OT.

On balance of the entire game, the Lakers earned the win. They were the better team for the majority of the game.

The Lakers have a day off prior to their next game, after which they travel to Minneapolis to take on the Minnesota Timberwolves. It’s obviously foolish to add too much importance to a game in December, but Friday night was one of Los Angeles’ best performances of the season. It will be interesting to see if the team can build on that.

The Spurs also get Saturday off before they hit the road on Sunday to play the Denver Nuggets. San Antonio won’t put too much stock into a loss to the Lakers, even at home.

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