Rockets home in on playoff zone after early turbulence

admin   •   April 12, 2016   •   2460

Apr 11, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Houston Rockets guard Patrick Beverley (2) tries to wrestle the ball away from Minnesota Timberwolves guard Tyus Jones (1) in the second quarter at Target Center. Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Apr 11, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Houston Rockets guard Patrick Beverley (2) tries to wrestle the ball away from Minnesota Timberwolves guard Tyus Jones (1) in the second quarter at Target Center. Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Houston Rockets scripted a stunning turnaround to stand one win away from salvaging their once-shaky playoff hopes following a tumultuous season.

With Monday’s blowout 129-105 victory over Minnesota, and Utah’s loss to Dallas, the Rockets (40-41) climbed back into the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

They can clinch a post-season berth with a victory against Sacramento in the season finale on Wednesday.

It is a small consolation for a franchise that reached the conference finals a year ago, but considering Houston appeared buried late last week they will gladly take the turnaround.

“The fire under us, it is lit,” Rockets guard Patrick Beverley told reporters after he helped the team win a second straight game to catch Utah (40-41).

“This is not how we wanted it to be at the end of the season, (but) better late than never.”

Houston’s intention of repeating last season’s success was deflated early when they lost their first three games by 20 points each.

Team leader James Harden struggled out of the gate as there were rumblings that he showed up out of shape for the campaign.

Coach Kevin McHale was fired after just 11 games, with the team 4-7, and replaced by assistant J.B. Bickerstaff but that did little to fix the team’s troubles.

The defensive efforts of Harden and lack of chemistry between him and center Dwight Howard were just some of the questions surrounding the team.

After their third defeat in four games on Thursday, Houston trailed eighth place Utah by a game and a half with just three remaining.

The Jazz suffered a pair of last-second defeats last week that aided the Rockets and now they are positioned to crawl into the playoffs and make the best of a rocky season.

“We control our own destiny. It’s our playoffs (right now),” Harden said. “It’s our last game (Wednesday) and we have to go out there and win. We’ll figure (everything else) out once the game is over.”

(Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; editing by Amlan Chakraborty)

Vince Carter retires after NBA record 22-season career

UNTV News   •   June 26, 2020

Atlanta Hawks guard Vince Carter officially announced his retirement from professional basketball on Thursday (June 25) after an NBA record 22-season career during which his high-flying dunks made him one of the game’s top players in his prime.

Carter, widely regarded as one of the greatest dunkers of all time, had previously said the 2019-20 NBA campaign would be his last but had not addressed his playing status since the NBA suspended its season in mid-March due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

“I am officially done playing basketball professionally,” Carter, 43, told the “Winging It” podcast.

Carter, the first NBA player to feature in four different decades, signed a one-year deal with the Hawks last August.

However, their season is over as they did not qualify for the NBA’s 22-team format for restarting action in late July at Disney World amid the novel coronavirus.

Carter played for eight teams during his career but will be most remembered for his time with the Toronto Raptors, where he put the Canadian city on the basketball map and earned the nickname “Air Canada” for his feats above the rim.

After his first season in Toronto, Carter was named the NBA’s rookie of the year in 1999. He was then named an All-Star for each of the following eight seasons.

In his second season, Carter won the Slam Dunk Contest during All-Star Weekend with a dazzling display that further increased his stardom and helped ignite basketball’s popularity in what had otherwise been an ice hockey-mad country.

Carter, who ranks 22nd on the NBA’s all-time scoring list, averaged 16.7 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game during a career that also included stops in New Jersey, Orlando, Phoenix, Dallas, Memphis, Sacramento and Atlanta.

He also helped USA Basketball win gold medals at the 2000 Sydney Olympics and 2003 FIBA Americas tournament. (Reuters)

(Production; David Grip)

League approves plan to resume NBA season in July at Disney World

UNTV News   •   June 5, 2020

REUTERS – The National Basketball Association (NBA) Board of Governors have approved a plan to restart the suspended season with a tentative July 31 start at Disney World, Florida amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, the league said on Thursday (June 4).

The plan would see 22 of the NBA’s 30 teams play eight games to determine a 16-team playoff field that would follow the traditional post-season format with four best-of-seven series that would crown a champion no later than October 12.

The league said approval from its Board of Governors, which came on the day originally scheduled for the start of the NBA Finals, is the first formal step among the many required to resume the season.

According to ESPN, the vote on the format was 29-1, with the Portland Trail Blazes voting against the proposal.

All games, practices and housing would be at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex which is inside the Orlando resort and has multiple hotels and arenas, and would allow the league to limit outside exposure.

The NBA was the first North American sports league to suspend its season due to the COVID-19 pandemic after one of its players tested positive for the new coronavirus in mid-March.

The 22 returning teams would be comprised of the eight teams from each of the two conferences currently in playoff positions plus the six clubs that are six games or fewer behind the eighth seed in their respective conferences.

If everything goes according to plan, the NBA said the 2020-21 season would begin on Dec. 1.

The league also said it plans to hold its 2020 NBA Draft Lottery to determine the order of the first 14 selections on Aug. 25. Lottery teams would be comprised of the eight clubs that do not participate in the restart and the six that go to Florida but do not qualify for the playoffs.

The actual NBA Draft, typically held in June, is now scheduled for Oct. 15.

(Production: Kurt Michael Hall)

Jordan’s autographed game-worn sneakers from his rookie season sold for record $560,000

UNTV News   •   May 18, 2020

NBA great Michael Jordan’s autographed game-worn sneakers from his rookie season fetched a record $560,000 (463,380 pounds) in an online auction, Sotheby’s said on Sunday (May 17).

The Air Jordan 1s, designed for Jordan in 1985 and the first ever signature sneakers, were expected to sell for between $100,000 and $150,000 in the auction.

Known for selling multimillion-dollar art, Sotheby’s held its first auction dedicated entirely to sneakers last year and had then set a world record of $437,500 for a pair of 1972 Nike running shoes known as the “Moon Shoe.”

“We saw tremendous bidding up until the moment the sale closed, with the value more than doubling in the final hour alone,” said Brahm Wachter, Sotheby’s director of eCommerce development.

“That coupled with strong international bidding from six countries on four continents shows not only the incredible appeal of Michael Jordan… but also that sneaker collecting is truly a global and growing market.”

Like most of Jordan’s basketball shoes, they are a mismatched pair in a size 13 (left) and size 13.5 (right).

The auction coincided with the 35th anniversary of the Air Jordan brand and the screening of the 10-part ESPN documentary “The Last Dance” about the Chicago Bulls and Jordan. The final two episodes of the show are set to air later on Sunday.

The shoes were sold by collector Jordan Geller, the founder of the sneaker museum Shoezeum in Las Vegas. (Reuters)

(Production: David Grip)

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