Rockets’ playoff hopes dim after loss to Suns

admin   •   April 8, 2016   •   2689

Apr 7, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Phoenix Suns forward Mirza Teletovic (35) shoots the ball during the second quarter against the Houston Rockets at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Apr 7, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Phoenix Suns forward Mirza Teletovic (35) shoots the ball during the second quarter against the Houston Rockets at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

(The Sports Xchange) – James Harden wore a somber expression in a virtually empty locker room late Thursday night, a scene that painted the perfect picture of the Houston Rockets’ season-long struggle with failure and frustration.

Phoenix’s P.J. Tucker and Mirza Teletovic shared the offensive load, and the Suns dealt a severe blow to the Rockets’ fading postseason hopes with a 124-115, comeback victory at Toyota Center.

The Suns (21-58) snapped a seven-game slide by immediately answering the Rockets’ 7-0 spurt with a 12-0 run of their own in the fourth quarter.

Houston (38-41) had surged to a 110-107 lead, but starting with two Devin Booker free throws with 3:10 left, Phoenix wrested control and did severe damage to the Rockets’ playoff designs.

The Rockets, with three games remaining, trail the Dallas Mavericks by 2 1/2 games and the Utah Jazz by 1 1/2 games.

“(It’s) extremely tough (to) come back home after a tough loss (in Dallas on Wednesday) and just give the game away,” Harden said. “We’ve still got an opportunity, we’ve just got to win out and have some other teams lose.”

Tucker tallied 24 points and 12 rebounds, and Teletovic added 26 points off the bench. Tyson Chandler scored 21 points and grabbed 10 boards, and it was his dunk with 25 seconds left that capped the decisive run.

The Suns bludgeoned Houston on the boards, turning 20 offensive rebounds into 36 second-chance points and a plus-20 edge in shot attempts. Even with nothing to play for beyond professional pride, the Suns outworked the Rockets, rallying twice from double-digit deficits.

“It’s the hardest thing in the world,” Tucker said of staging a comeback without incentive. “That’s why you’re a pro. Me, Ronnie (Price) and Tyson try to teach these guys if you get down, the NBA is a long game. It’s a game of runs. You’ve got to keep playing, keep fighting, keep chipping away.”

Harden missed just four of 14 shots and paced Houston with 30 points. He also dished out seven assists. Trevor Ariza chipped in 22 points on 8-of-11 shooting. The Rockets lost for the seventh time in 10 games.

Teletovic scored 11 points in the second quarter to key the rally from a 41-29 deficit. He followed a 23-foot jumper with a layup to pull Phoenix to within 45-41 before later hitting a 3-pointer that shaved the margin to 48-47.

With 17 first-half points, Teletovic almost single handedly kept the Suns in contention. When Houston scored the opening 10 points of the third quarter, Tucker caught fire and picked up where Teletovic left off.

Harden capped a Houston run with a 3-pointer, but 25 seconds later, Tucker completed a three-point play to initiate the comeback. Tucker added a reverse layup out of the post, a 7-foot jumper, and a 3-pointer before his reverse layup cut the deficit to 77-69.

“He’s our X-factor,” Suns interim coach Earl Watson said of Tucker. “He’s always been a vocal leader, he and Tyson Chandler. Anytime you have vets still playing the way they’re playing and they’re not looking forward to the summer, everyone else has to fall in line, and it sets the tone for the rest of our young guys.”

Teletovic, who re-entered the game as a substitute for Chandler with 6:21 left in the third, followed with a 3-pointer and a difficult bank shot from the post. When Archie Goodwin (16 points off the bench) completed a three-point play, the Suns led 82-81.

Despite shooting a season-high 56.8 percent, the Rockets faltered once Phoenix applied late pressure. This collapse resembled so many others.

“I think there’s a sense of frustration that set in a little bit down the stretch,” Rockets interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “I won’t say those guys weren’t trying. I won’t say that. It matters to those guys; it bothers those guys. It stings to all of us.”

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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