Montag, 31. Januar 2011

Griffin, Clips run home win streak to 9 (AP)

Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin , right, fouls Milwaukee Bucks forward Corey Maggette as Randy Foye grabs a loose ball during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Monday, Jan. 31, 2011. The Clippers won 105-98.

Blake Griffin had 32 points and 11 rebounds for his 39th double-double, and the Los Angeles Clippers withstood a fourth-quarter challenge to beat the Milwaukee Bucks 105-98 Monday night for their ninth straight home win. The Clippers tied the third-longest consecutive home victory streak in franchise history set when the team was known as the Buffalo Braves and won nine in a row from Oct.


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This Day in LSB History


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Rays Sign Casey Kotchman, Claim Rob Delaney From Twins

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The Rays shored up at first base and in the bullpen Friday by signing Casey Kotchman to a minor league deal and claiming right-hander Rob Delaney off waivers from the Twins.

Kotchman will make $750,000 plus the possibility of incentives if he's in the majors the entire season, according to Though Kotchman has bounced around and seen his performance lag quite a bit the last couple of seasons, he should have a real chance to earn a job in Tampa Bay.

The Rays enter spring training with Dan Johnson atop their depth chart at first base after seeing Carlos Pena leave as a free agent and non-tendering Willy Aybar. Ben Zobrist can also play first, but he figures to see the bulk of his time at second base and in the outfield.


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UFC Lightweight Nik Lentz: 'MMA Fans Have Short Term Memories'

Two months ago at UFC 123, lightweight grinder Nik Lentz upped his Octagon record to 4-0-1 with a split decision victory over former top-ranked competitor Tyson Griffin.

The win was undoubtedly the biggest achievement of Lentz’s UFC career to date but also one that stirred a bit of a frenzy among pundits and fight fans who thought the decision should have went to Griffin.

In fact, UFC President Dana White himself publically stated after the bout that he felt Griffin was robbed by the judges and wasn’t going to cut the Xtreme Couture fighter, who had just lost three straight, because of it.

Regardless of what you’ve read online, the fight was much closer than it has been made out to be.

It could have gone either way and Lentz isn’t quite sure what all the commotion was about. Before the score cards were read, he felt he had done enough to earn the decision.

“I thought so and truthfully I think Tyson thought so too,” Lentz told Mitch Ciccarelli on Crouching Tiger Hidden Leprechaun MMA Radio.

“Obviously when you lose, it’s something you don’t want to happen and your emotion gets the better of you so he went into the back and they created a fuss. Him and Randy [Couture] ran to the back and kind of told on me, I guess.”

Complaining about decisions seems to be a growing trend with fighters in MMA. When you aren’t finished in a fight it’s easy to say you truly didn’t lose because everyone views the outcome differently in fights that go the distance.

Lentz notes that it’s natural to feel robbed when you’re on the wrong side of a close decision but making a big ordeal out of it in public doesn’t help matters.

“If it wouldn’t have gone my way, I would have thought that I got ripped off but I would have kept my mouth shut and been a man about it,” Lentz said.

“Because if you have a fight that’s close enough to go to a split decision, it’s not like we are talking about a crazy [one-sided] decision here, it was razor thin the entire time.”

For Lentz, the criticism doesn’t affect him much. At the end of the day, he got his hand raised and moved one step up the divisional ladder.

A product of the Minnesota Martial Arts Academy, Lentz is one of the toughest rising stars at 155 lbs. However, as talented as he is, he has several detractors who view him as a "boring" fighter but Lentz believes that is all based off of one fight.

It was a Spike TV preliminary bout with Andre Winner back at UFC 118, before the Pay-Per-View broadcast, and Lentz insists the dull wasn’t even his fault.

“As far as people saying I’m not exciting or whatever, they base that off the one Andre Winner fight and I’m never going to change my mind on this but I believe Andre Winner is the person who made that fight boring,” Lentz said.

“Even though I was trying to take him down, I just knew in my head that he was going to try to open up to do something and I was going to counter it and he just never did. I couldn’t contemplate that until the very end because if it was me being pushed up against the cage, I would have tried anything to get away.”

“I mean flying arm bars, jumping knees, I would have tried anything and he was just kind of sitting there thinking ‘oh what am I going to say at the press conference?’ I still don’t understand what he was thinking but besides that, what can I do?”

Prior to the Winner bout, Lentz’ previous UFC fights were actually quite exciting.

From his debut at UFC 103 against Rafaello Oliveira to his draw with Thiago Tavares that many felt Lentz rightfully won to his three rounder with Rob Emerson, they were all entertaining affairs.

However, they were all preliminary match ups that didn’t air on television whereas the Winner bout was displayed on Spike TV in millions of homes across the country.

Most fans—the very same ones who said the decision was controversial—didn’t even actually watch his last fight with Griffin either that opened the UFC 123 preliminary card.

Fans are only basing their opinion of Lentz off of that one slow paced bout with Winner but Lentz isn’t bothered by it.

He realizes that fans tend to be forgetful of “boring performances” if you continue putting on and winning great fights in the future.

“A lot of people have short-term memories and a perfect example is Tyson Griffin. People have kind of worshipped that guy and rightfully so he’s a super exciting fighter but there was a long time there when he was considered boring,” Lentz said.

“People were saying he couldn’t finish a fight to save his life, you know, ‘he’s no Kenny Florian’ and people forget about these things. You have Gray Maynard who was also considered one of the boring fighters and then he goes out and has an amazing fight with Frankie Edgar, one of the best I’ve ever seen so people have short term memories and it’s my job to fix that opinion and it will be fixed soon.”

Lentz’ next fight isn’t scheduled yet and while he doesn’t have any particular opponent in mind, he is hopeful for an exciting match up.

“I don’t have any specific fighter picked out because I don’t think that way. I don’t have anything against anyone in the sport, you know, I’ll go out there and try to beat the crap out of the guy but after the fight we can be friends or whatever it doesn’t matter to me,” Lentz said.

“But the people that I want to fight are also people that want to fight an MMA style fight, they want to grapple, they want to strike and do everything. One of my most exciting and best fights to date and actually one of the toughest guys I’ve ever fought was Rob Emerson.”

“That’s someone that I like to fight, someone that legitimately wants to fight. He wants to really hurt you, he doesn’t want to dance around, and he just wants to fight. I like competing against people to where we can clash in the middle and fight it out.”

One fighter in the lightweight division that fits that description perfectly is Matt Wiman. Fresh off a dominant win over Cole Miller, Wiman would be an ideal candidate to give Lentz the type of fight he’s looking for.

When I asked Lentz about that match up, he definitely seemed interested in it but also noted that he would be happy fighting anyone the UFC put in front of him.

“Oh I agree, I would love to fight him. I would love to fight anyone they put me against but you make a good point. That is someone that likes to fight, I didn’t see his last fight but from what I heard it sounded like he just took Cole Miller down and pounded him and that’s the kind of fighting that I like.”

To listen to the entire interview, click the link to listen to the latest episode of Crouching Tiger Hidden Leprechaun MMA Radio.

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Mitch Ciccarelli is the sexiest columnist in MMA. A staff writer for Heavy MMA, featured columnist for B/R and host of Crouching Tiger Hidden Leprechaun MMA Radio, Ciccarelli is also a future United States Airman beginning basic training this March. He is also engaged to Eva Mendes and Jessica Simpson.

Follow Ciccarelli on twitter, unless you have herpes. @MitchCiccarelli


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Photos: The Pittsburgh Steelers Arrive At Super Bowl XLV In Dallas


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Tony Parker: Will His Play Improve Now That Divorce With Eva Longoria Is Final?

Tony Parker has been playing some very good basketball despite the marital issues with Eva Longoria. His field goal and three point percentages are his highest in years, and while his points are down slightly, most of his other stats are up, namely assists and steals.

With the divorce finalized, will Tony Parker's game step up even further? Absolutely. Any distractions that he had are gone now, and while everything between the two was handled amicably, Parker would have been naturally distracted mentally.

Parker, divorce or no divorce, is having one of the best seasons of his career, and alongside Manu Ginobili, he has made the Spurs one of the best teams in baseball. It's almost ironic, as many thought they were too old to compete, yet they look a lot younger than the Celtics or Lakers of late.

The Spurs' next game will be tomorrow against Portland. We'll see how great a game Parker has then.

For NBA trade rumors, see here.


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Broadcasting In The Underworld: Your Guide To Commentary in Hades

The milk was bad and you stand ashore the river Styx, waiting the boatman. Amidst the splashing waves, you twitch with restless anticipation of what awaits on the other side. You're confident you lived a good life, but then again, you're not feeling many comforting thoughts as the looming caves ahead draw closer. You're escorted through a chasm of chambers and led to a door where your escort leaves you to your lonesome.

You open the door and peak inside...A nice bed. A full bar. A glorious couch. A fridge stocked with delicacies...and a 48 inch plasma hanging on the wall. A guide on the coffee table shows a list of every sports channel real or imagined. Words escape you as you reach for the remote. A curious thing, this remote. For it only has four buttons. Power on. Power off. Channel up. Channel down. You ponder the oddity and shrug. It's time to light this candle. You stretch out on the couch and turn on the TV.

But wait. The initial joy you felt surfing through every channel you ever dreamed begins to fade as you notice something you overlooked a moment ago.There is no volume button on the remote. There is no way to mute or subdue the realization that every game and every channel is controlled by the worst human beings to ever hold a microphone.

Though each channel spews voices coming from a variety of names and faces, this Underworld cast can easily be labeled as the five broadcasting categories of Hades. To watch a game is to listen to every damn word they have to say. The power off button beckons you. You see it now. The eternal conundrum.

Begin Slideshow


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Anthony struggles in loss to Sixers (AP)

Denver Nuggets ' Carmelo Anthony watches a free throw attempt in the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Philadelphia 76ers , Sunday, Jan. 30, 2011, in Philadelphia. Philadelphia won 110-99.

'Melo is moving on to New Jersey. Unfortunately for jilted Nets fans, Carmelo Anthony will still bring his Denver Nuggets teammates with him to New Jersey on Monday for the first time since Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov ended the drawn-out trade talks with Denver. Anthony isn't sure what to expect at the game -- but he's certain of one thing.


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The truth about Kobe Bryant in crunch time

Kobe Bryant
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At the end of Game 2 of the 2009 Finals, the Magic knew who to guard, and got the block.

Ask pundits. Ask general managers. Ask players. Ask almost anybody.

Who would you like to have take the last shot with the game on the line?

Kobe Bryant wins by a country mile. Every time. (In a general-manager poll this season, he earned 79 percent of the vote, his ninth consecutive blowout.)

There is not really any other serious candidate.

Ask me, though (as Ryen Russillo did last week and Mike Trudell the other day), and I'll tell you I don't know who's the best, but with all due respect to Bryant's amazing abilities scoring the ball, there's zero chance he's the king of crunch time.

The sin of predictability
Bryant makes crunch-time defense easy for opponents by shooting just about every time he touches the ball (over a five-year period, he mustered 56 clutch shots, to go with one assist).

Fans of his raw machismo howl that such criticism misses the point, but the point is that when Bryant gets the ball in crunch time, it's a virtual certainty that he'll shoot it, and it's better than 2-1 odds that he'll miss.

In 1997, he famously air-balled two shots that could have beat the Jazz; instead, the Jazz won the series. In 1999, he whiffed on a 3-pointer at the buzzer that would have tied Game 2 against the Spurs. In Game 4 against the Kings in 2002, he missed a 2-pointer that would have tied the game (before the ball was tipped out to Robert Horry for the winning 3). In Game 7 of that same series, Bryant missed a tip that would have won the game in regulation. In Game 3 against the Timberwolves in 2003, he missed two key shots in the last seconds of overtime, and the Lakers lost.

I'll spare you the entire list, but it's long. In the final 24 seconds of playoff games, Bryant has racked up almost as many air balls as makes, making just below 30 percent of game-tying or go-ahead shots. He hasn't hit such a shot in a playoff game, in fact, since 2008, including key misses in the closing moments against the Jazz and Magic in 2009, and the Thunder and Suns last spring. He made one of his four shots in the fourth quarter of Game 7 of last year's Finals.

No matter how you define crunch time -- from the last five minutes of the fourth quarter or overtime to the last 24 seconds -- and no matter how you define production -- field goal percentage, offensive efficiency, David Berri's Wins Produced, the results tell the same story:� Bryant is about as likely to hit the big shot as any player.

ESPN Stats & Information's Alok Pattani dug through 15 years of NBA data (see table below) -- Bryant's entire career, regular season and playoffs -- and found that Bryant has attempted 115 shots in the final 24 seconds of a game in which the Lakers were tied or trailed by two or fewer points. He connected on 36, and missed 79 times.

One shot for all the cookies. And the NBA is nearly unanimous that this is the guy to take it, even though he has more than twice as many misses as makes?

His crunch-time production is slightly higher in the first half of this season, but still certainly not the best in the league. And analyzing any large number of games, one year, five years or 15 years, and defining crunch time a number of different ways, shows the same pattern. (There are many ways this has been sliced.)

Bryant shoots more than most, passes less and racks up misses at an all-time rate. There is no measure, other than YouTube highlights and folklore, by which he's the best scorer in crunch time.

The un-clutch Lakers
One of the key arguments in his favor is that he draws double-teams, which allows other Lakers to score. But that doesn't seem to happen much. Over Bryant's 15-year career, the Lakers have had the NBA's best offense, and second-best won-loss record. No other team can match their mighty 109 points per 100 possessions over the entire period.

You'd expect Los Angeles to also have one of the league's best offenses in crunch time, right? Especially with the ball in the hands of the player most suited to those moments.

That's not what happens, though. In the final 24 seconds of close games the Lakers offense regresses horribly, managing just 82 points per 100 possessions. And it's not a simple case of every team having a hard time scoring in crunch time. Over Bryant's career, 11 teams have had better crunch-time offenses, led by the Hornets with a shocking 107 points per 100 possessions in crunch time, a huge credit to Chris Paul.

The Lakers are not among the league leaders in crunch-time offense -- instead, they're just about average, scoring 82.35 points per 100 possessions in a league that averages 80.03. They are, however, among the league leaders in how much worse their offense declines in crunch time.

When Bryant is on the floor in crunch time, Bryant's Lakers are actually outscored by their opponents.

A great offensive team performing at average levels, with a star setting records for number of shots attempted. Teammates left wide open. Evidence, even, that Bryant's play puts his team into nailbiters that needn't be so close.

That, my friends, is a ball hog.

The makes
Nobody playing today has a crunch-time r�sum� with half the excitement, or sheer bulk, of Bryant's: A banked 3 against Miami in 2009. Two ridiculous plays in Game 4 in that 2006 playoff series against the Suns. Making the Celtics' great defense look meaningless. Those four shots would make a career for most All-Stars. They are a mere eighth of Bryant's best moments.

Respect the brute force of numbers. If you want to see someone who has proved he can hit big buckets, nobody can rival his collected works. That speaks to his preparation, his dedication, the trust his teammates have in him, and more subtle things like how his training regimen has kept him healthy and productive for such a long time.

At all times he's cool as hell. At all times he's polished, fearless, ruthless even. Most of the time he's double-teamed. The shots are impossibly difficult. It's intimidating. He looks like a robot of crunch-time destruction, if robots could jump really high, shoot really well and scowl really hard.

Nobody can match that. So we live in a world in which Bryant has been appointed king of all crunch time, and it's not hard to see why.

And well worth noting is that over that period he has clearly been one of the best players in the world, period, leading a team that has won five championships and has the potential to win more.

Bryant's absolutely the best in the world at the game of winning the hearts and minds of crunch time. A lot goes into it: creating shots against any defense, staying calm, ignoring fear and more. It's about who most has the rest of the league by the throat. In that game, it's cowardly to pass the ball, and misses are merely the cost of doing business. In that game, degree of difficulty counts.

That game, though, is not basketball.

In basketball, entrusting the ball to the open teammate really does benefit the team. Remember when Jordan passed to a wide-open Bill Wennington in the lane? Or to Steve Kerr or John Paxson in the Finals?

Can all those players, GMs and Phil Jackson be wrong?
TrueHoop reader Terence speaks for many when he writes:
Correct me if I am wrong but I believe in most recent GM and player polls Kobe ranked number one when asked who the best clutch player was? What does this mean? The majority of the GMs in the NBA are wrong? The people that get trusted by very powerful and wealthy owners to run their teams are completely out in left field? The players that go head-to-head with Kobe Bryant on a nightly basis are just misinformed and are not qualified to answer this question? Phil Jackson, arguably the greatest coach in NBA history, trusts Kobe enough to give him that same clutch shot every single time, despite the fact that Kobe "shoots way too much," and has a "judgment problem?" That coach Jackson must be one terrible coach, he's very lucky to win those 11 titles.

It's not just players and GMs, it's almost everybody. What we see with our eyes and feel in our hearts is impossible to ignore, even when it's misleading.

Yet we get things wrong all the time anyway, for the simple reason that a lot more happens in the NBA than anybody can catalog in any objective way.

In that same GM survey, for instance, John Wall was a heavy favorite to beat Blake Griffin for rookie of the year. Kevin Durant was a slam dunk to win this year's MVP.

In that player poll, Chauncey Billups got the second-most votes as the preferred go-to crunch-time scorer. Billups is 3-of-27 with the game on the line over the past five seasons. Dead last in the NBA among those who have attempted at least 15 shots.

None of that means anyone is dumb. Instead, it means that reputation is a huge factor, and it's beyond anyone to remember and catalog 7,000 or so shots in your head.

And as for Jackson, he wants the same kind of hit-the-open-man team play every coach wants. We know this because back when he was free to speak frankly on the topic, he could not have been more clear.

"I sometimes think Kobe is so addicted to being in control that he would rather shoot the ball when guarded, or even double-teamed, than dish it to an open teammate," Jackson wrote in his 2004 book "The Last Season." "He is saying to himself: how can he trust anyone else? Well, he should learn to trust ..."

Jackson published that book in the interlude when he was not coaching the Lakers. That he doesn't talk that way is hardly bizarre -- it's admirable for a coach to keep his criticism of a colleague "in the family."

However, don't confuse Bryant's domination of the ball with Jackson's endorsement of the plan. In the same book, Jackson tells of his annoyance at Bryant's ball-hogging in crunch time. In one instance, he describes drawing up a play with multiple options, in crunch time of a 2004 playoff series against Houston. Bryant destroyed all the options; instead of setting a baseline screen for Shaquille O'Neal he ran straight to the ball. "With the twenty-four-second clock winding down," writes Jackson, "Kobe forced a long jumper, a horrible shot in the game's most critical possession. The ball did not reach the rim..."

Jackson also tells of marching, more than once, into Mitch Kupchak's office to demand that the Lakers trade Bryant. He writes things like:
  • "Kobe tends to hold on to the ball longer than necessary causing the offense to stagnate."
  • "He won't listen to anyone. I've had it with this kid."
  • "As usual, Kobe seemed intent on taking over."

More recently, Jackson's long-time assistant Kurt Rambis, when he still worked for the Lakers, was clear that the coaching staff preferred the team run their ruthlessly efficient triangle, with its passing and cutting, "at all times."

I see lots of evidence that Bryant dominates Lakers possessions in crunch time. But I see no evidence that it's part of Jackson's plan.

Should stats even be part of this conversation?


But not because stats are better. But because this is a tricky -- and at least in terms of sports, important -- question. We should answer this with the best evidence we can get our hands on. In my mind, the final analysis would come from video, which captures the full complexity of the game. But that video should be of good and bad plays. And that video should consider many candidates, including Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony, and the like -- not just the assumed king.

Remember when SUVs first came into existence? People went crazy for them. They were, it turned out, what a huge percentage of drivers felt they had been waiting for.

Malcolm Gladwell explains more than anything people liked how these big strong trucks, riding up high, slathered in airbags, made everybody feel safe. You go out there, on those crowded, scary roads, and very little can hurt you. Everyone just knew that. The SUV matched a picture in our brains: This is how a safe automobile feels.

Only it was a crock. There were real reasons, many having to do with design, why SUVs were actually surprisingly unsafe. A minivan, for instance, at the time of Gladwell's writing, was far safer. Gladwell cites safety statistics compiled by Tom Wenzel, a scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and Marc Ross, a physicist at the University of Michigan, which found, essentially, that little nimble cars with good visibility -- the precise cars people were abandoning for SUVs -- were safer still.

How did we learn that? With a commonsense look at some stats, specifically by comparing the number of fatalities to the number of cars of a certain model on the road. A safe car is one you don't die in, right? That's useful.

Similarly, Bryant looks like a great crunch-time scorer. He has the right skills, the right demeanor, the right highlights, the right jewelry. But as it turns out, Bryant's clutch like an SUV is safe.

There are a lot of misleading things in this world.

And let's be clear: The numbers that doom Bryant's campaign as the king of crunch time are not really statistics. They're not formulas, or algorithms. They're really just counting -- both makes and misses for the player and the team.

If you're asking me to pick one guy to make a shot with the game on the line, there's nothing complex about peeking at the record to see how well he has done that job in the past. Every number in that chart is a real moment of NBA basketball, with ten players on the court, and Bryant in a Lakers uniform, rising, firing, and -- most of the time -- missing. These things really happened, and as much as you might want to ignore opinion, or theory, there's no real reason to ignore 79 misses, broken plays, a shocking lack of passing, a coaching staff eager for more team play, and an elite team that gets below-par results with the game on the line.

As long as your mind is open to all that, it has to be closed to the idea that Kobe Bryant is the king of crunch time.


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Aaron Rodgers and Ryan Braun Sit Courtside At Bucks Game

The Milwaukee Bucks 91-81 defeat of the New Jersey Nets marked the return of point guard Brandon Jennings, but it was Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers and Milwaukee Brewers All-Star Ryan Braun who received a standing ovation.

Rodgers and Braun sat court-side to watch the Bucks win their third straight game behind 17 points and 18 rebounds from Andrew Bogut.

Excited about the Packers recent success, Jennings even threw in a “championship belt” celebration of his own from the Bucks bench on Saturday night.

Following the win against the Nets, Jennings took part in a brief conversation with the Super Bowl-Bound Quarterback.

“I told him, ‘Good luck, this town is really buzzing right now because of you guys. It’s important that you guys go down there and take care of business just to keep the city alive. Green and yellow all day,’” said Jennings.

Jennings was eased back into the game on Sunday after missing 19 games as he played a total of 11 minutes and contributed two points and an assist.

Rodgers and the team will leave for Dallas on Monday to start preparing for the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLV on February 6th.

Braun and the Brewers are only a couple of weeks away from the beginning of spring training in the very sunny Arizona.

What did you think of Rodgers and Braun’s appearance at a Bucks game? Let me know by commenting below!

Nick Grays is a senior [More …]


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At least the Lakers lost too


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2011 Pro Bowl: Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons Show Well in NFL's All-Star Game

The Atlanta Falcons had an NFL-high nine players participate in the 2011 Pro Bowl, and just about all of them made their presences felt in the NFC's 55-41 victory.

Falcons players accounted for three of the NFC's seven touchdowns, with four total scores coming while Matt Ryan was on the field.

Ryan was the second quarterback in the game for his side. He completed 9-of-13 passes for 118 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. One of his scoring strikes went to fellow Falcon Tony Gonzalez and the other came on a deep ball that was caught by Arizona's Larry Fitzgerald.

Gonzalez wound up with three catches for 42 yards and that touchdown—his sixth career Pro Bowl score, a new record. Receiver Roddy White gained 69 yards on five receptions.

Running backs Michael Turner (53 yards on eight carries) and Ovie Mughelli contributed as well, although in different ways.

Mughelli did most of his damage in the passing game, bringing in two balls for 23 yards. The fullback also scored a touchdown on a one-yard rush.

There isn't normally any defense being played in the Pro Bowl, but don't tell that to Brent Grimes.

Grimes, of course, had to work his way into the league after going undrafted out of Shippensburg. He likely saw this game as his chance to shine, which he did, getting an interception and breaking up a couple of passes.

It took a long time for Grimes to get noticed in the NFL, so it's nice to see him come through on a big stage.

John Abraham and Tyson Clabo also took part in the festivities. Pass-rushers don't really try to get after quarterbacks in these games, so there wasn't much for Abraham to do. Clabo did what he had to on the offensive line.

Eric Weems played on special teams, ceding return duties to Chicago's Devin Hester.

It seemed that on the offensive side of the ball the Falcons coaching staff wanted to show off their players a bit, with White and Gonzalez being targeted more than any other receiver for the NFC.

It could also just be that they're that good and know how to get open and it doesn't hurt that Ryan was at quarterback and already has an established relationship with those two.

There certainly isn't much that can be read into the performances of players in an Alll-Star game. The guys are just there to have fun and put up points.

Nonetheless, it's never a bad thing to play well in this situation.

If there's anyone who doubted the ability of guys like Grimes and White, they showed that they are indeed the goods and deserving of any recognition they get.

Ryan put in his bid for MVP, but that award went to former Falcon DeAngelo Hall, who had six tackles, an interception and a fumble recovery that was returned for a touchdown.

Overall, players from the NFC South put on good shows, displaying the talent that is in the division.

Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints totaled 68 yards while completing four of his six pass attempts. His opportunities to contribute were minimal, as the NFC was trying to run out the clock once he entered the game.

Carolina Panthers linebacker Jon Beason recorded two tackles and returned an interception for a touchdown.

Ex-NFC Southers Michael Vick and Julius Peppers also started in the game. Vick didn't do much (five completions on ten attempts for 59 yards), but Peppers recorded a sack and two tackles for a loss.

All game action is now done for the Falcons and every other team not from Pittsburgh or Green Bay.

While it was nice to see such a large number of Falcons play in this game, Atlanta fans will hope that is not the case next year, since Super Bowl participants do not take part in the Pro Bowl.


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Sonntag, 30. Januar 2011

Kim Kardashian: Could She Be the Next Bond Girl?

Kim Kardashian: Could She Be the Next Bond Girl?

Kim Kardashian was at the Screen Actor's Guild Awards ceremony on Sunday. She was looking like her typical gorgeous self when she decided to stir the entertainment waters a bit.

She told E! Online about her most pressing ambition:"I would love to be in a Bond film?a Bond Girl...That would be the ultimate...There are a few offers on the table, but I definitely want to make the right decision for the right part...I love acting, it's challenging for me, and I love it."

So there you have it straight from the hot woman's mouth. She wants to be a Bond girl. My feeling is that the part should go to someone that can actually act. But then again Denise Richards was a Bond girl so that method of thinking goes right out the window.

What does it take to be a Bond girl? You have to deliver a couple of quips in a movie and look amazing in a bikini. You must also be able to simulate sex on the screen.

Yes, the more I think about it, the more I am convinced. Kim Kardashian would be perfect as a Bond girl. Why didn't I think about this before?

Related Story: WAGs of the Pro Bowl 2011


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2011 Pro Bowl: Adrian Peterson's MVP Resume Looking Better Than Philip Rivers'


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SAG Awards: Tracy Morgan Reiterates Obsession With Sarah Palin At SAG Awards

SAG Awards: Tracy Morgan Reiterates Obsession With Sarah Palin At SAG Awards

Today's SAG Awards had more love for Sarah Palin courtesy of comedian Tracy Morgan.  Prior to the start of the ceremony, Morgan spoke with E! host Giuliana Rancic to reiterate his obsession with the former Vice Presidential candidate.

Morgan was caught on camera saying: "Sarah Palin, you're the hottest MILF in the world!"

Just days ago, Morgan found himself dealing with controversy when he spoke with a TNT NBA broadcast team covering a game between the Miami Heat and the New York Knicks.

TNT's Charles Barkley asked Morgan if he though Sarah Palin was attractive and Morgan answered, "She's good masturbation material."

The response left the crew at a loss for words.  And the entire network had to release a statement to Morgan's comments.

"It's unfortunate Mr. Morgan showed a lack of judgment on our air with his inappropriate comments," the statement read. "We apologize for any embarrassment or offense it may have caused."

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Kings snap Hornets' 10-game win streak (AP)

SACRAMENTO, CA - JANUARY 29: DeMarcus Cousins #15 of the Sacramento Kings reacts after the play against the New Orleans Hornets on January 29, 2011 at ARCO Arena in Sacramento, California. (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)

Considering that Sacramento has the second worst record in the Western Conference, it was hard to imagine the Kings sweeping the Los Angeles Lakers and streaking New Orleans Hornets in consecutive nights. Yet, led by brash rookie DeMarcus Cousins, the Kings managed to win both games in impressive fashion.


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Aaron Rodgers and Ryan Braun Sit Courtside At Bucks Game

The Milwaukee Bucks 91-81 defeat of the New Jersey Nets marked the return of point guard Brandon Jennings, but it was Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers and Milwaukee Brewers All-Star Ryan Braun who received a standing ovation.

Rodgers and Braun sat court-side to watch the Bucks win their third straight game behind 17 points and 18 rebounds from Andrew Bogut.

Excited about the Packers recent success, Jennings even threw in a “championship belt” celebration of his own from the Bucks bench on Saturday night.

Following the win against the Nets, Jennings took part in a brief conversation with the Super Bowl-Bound Quarterback.

“I told him, ‘Good luck, this town is really buzzing right now because of you guys. It’s important that you guys go down there and take care of business just to keep the city alive. Green and yellow all day,’” said Jennings.

Jennings was eased back into the game on Sunday after missing 19 games as he played a total of 11 minutes and contributed two points and an assist.

Rodgers and the team will leave for Dallas on Monday to start preparing for the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLV on February 6th.

Braun and the Brewers are only a couple of weeks away from the beginning of spring training in the very sunny Arizona.

What did you think of Rodgers and Braun’s appearance at a Bucks game? Let me know by commenting below!

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Back to Back Blues, or How Doc Checked Out Early and So Did I


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First Cup: Friday

  • Geoff Calkins of The Commercial-Appeal: "Saturday is O.J. Mayo bobblehead night at FedExForum. Of course it is. Now, with extra bobble! Note the bigger than usual head! True fact: Last year, when the Grizzlies gave out Hasheem Thabeet growth charts, Thabeet had just been sent to play for the Dakota Wizards in the D League. With this franchise, it's always something. The latest something is the NBA suspending Mayo for 10 games for testing positive for a substance known as DHEA. ... It's too bad, honestly, for Mayo, for the Grizzlies and for the fans. Mayo may not be playing his best, but the Grizzlies are certainly better when he's available. The team needs all the help it can get to deliver on Mike Heisley's three-year playoff plan. Meanwhile, Heisley continues to insist that he's not going to trade Mayo unless there's equal value coming back. But why would other teams believe that? And what's equal value for a guard who gets in a fight with a teammate, is relegated to the bench and has to sit out 10 games for taking a pill that's aimed at geezers? Ahhh, the Grizzlies. The team that luck forgot. Sometimes, all you can do is shake your head."
  • Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: "Still not sold on why LeBron James has to be force-fed in the low-post. Does he have to be able to do it all? It would seem a game like this would only sour him on future attempts with the approach. Yes, he got good looks, but there is so much more to his game."
  • Alan Hahn of Newsday: "Amare Stoudemire is only a half-year into his five-year, $100-million contract, but he's already playing himself into the franchise's history book on the Big Man Mount Rushmore with Patrick Ewing and Willis Reed . A five-time All-Star in the West during his career in Phoenix, Stoudemire earned the fewest votes (1,674,995) of the five East starters, but what matters is he finished with more than the Celtics' Kevin Garnett (1,407,601). But the Knicks need to learn a lesson from the Ewing era, in which he spent most of his career as the lone star on a team with a hard-working supporting cast that came close but couldn't win a championship. At least the Knicks can say they have the first piece in place. When LeBron decided not to take his talents to Midtown South, Stoudemire initially was viewed as a consolation prize in the long-anticipated 2010 free-agency sweepstakes. But he's put forth a performance not even Kanye would dare to interrupt."
  • K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune: "Given how much stress Derrick Rose has caused opposing defenses this season, the whirlwind that was Thursday for the indispensable Bull shouldn't surprise. First, near 1 p.m., Rose revealed he is suffering from two stomach ulcers that have his availability for Friday night's showdown with the Magic in question. Later, just after 6 p.m., came the expected news that Rose will be an Eastern Conference All-Star starter, the Bulls' first since Michael Jordan in 1998. Given that Rose spent a quiet Thursday night at home with his mother attending to him, guess which storyline most consumed the ubercompetitor? 'If anything, she'll be happier than I am,' Rose said of his mother, before the official announcement. 'Things like that really don't get to me. That's not the type of thing that would excite me. I'd be happy for myself, but it's nothing like I'm going to have a party over it or have a bunch of people over and celebrate. I don't know why. That's just the way I am.' "
  • Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune: "The Timberwolves have unveiled their public-relations campaign aimed at getting Western Conference coaches to vote Kevin Love into the All-Star Game. It's a spoof on those silly, pompous fragrance ads. This time, the product is: 'Numb#rs, a Fragrance by Kevin Love. Part of the 612 All Star Collection.' Shot backstage at Target Center in artsy black and white, it features Love, dressed in black with a contrasting scarf wrapped around his neck, contemplatively walking down a lit runway with adoring fans, including a dapper Crunch surrounded by the ladies, clamoring silently in the background. The only sound is some moody piano music and Love's voiceover at the end that says, 'Who has the numbers? You tell me.' Interesting timing here: Love's promotional campaign was unveiled the same day that the NBA suspended Memphis guard O.J. Mayo for 10 games for violating the league's anti-drug program after he tested positive for DHEA, a steroid precursor that Mayo says he mistakenly got from an over-the-counter supplement. Remember when everybody went nuts on draft night 2008 after Kevin McHale traded Mayo's rights for Love's in a big, late-night deal? Give the big guy credit for doing something right."
  • Elliott Teaford of the Los Angeles Daily News: "At some point tonight, Kobe Bryant probably will swish a jump shot that will account for his 11th and 12th points against the Sacramento Kings, enabling him to tie Hakeem Olajuwon for eighth place on the NBA's all-time scoring list. It's anyone's guess how many points Bryant might score tonight against the lowly Kings. It might not be all that many because the Lakers might be way ahead and he might not play in the fourth quarter. But it's a good bet Bryant will score at least 12 points and catch Olajuwon, who scored 26,946 during his Hall of Fame career. It's also likely that Bryant will continue his climb, with an eye toward becoming the highest-scoring guard in league history. Michael Jordan is the only guard ahead of him, sitting in third with 32,292. 'Typically, big guys have been the ones to dominate the game and dominate the ball,' Bryant said Thursday, hours before he was selected as a starting guard for the Western Conference All-Star team. 'The game goes through them. The big guys on that list are obviously all-time greats. I guess there's a couple of little guys that are feisty, me being one of them.' "
  • Dwain Price of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram: "Mark Cuban doesn’t give any credence to Forbes Magazine’ recent story listing the value of NBA teams. The Dallas Mavericks’ owner gave the story absolutely no value. 'That’s just useless,’ Cuban said before Thursday’s game against Houston. 'There’s nothing useless as evaluation than what Forbes does. It’s worthless, it’s meaningless and worthless. You can quote me on that.’ Forbes listed the Mavs as the sixth-most valued team in the NBA at $438 million. The top five included New York ($655 million), the Los Angeles Lakers ($643 million), Chicago ($511 million), Boston ($452 million) and Houston ($443 million). Cuban bought the Mavs from Ross Perot Jr. on Jan. 4, 2000 for $285 million. But he said when teams are bought and sold, what Forbes writes doesn’t factor into the equation. 'No one ever looks at buying or selling a franchise based off of Forbes’ numbers,’ Cuban said. 'You might as well go to a second grader and ask him how high can they count.’ "
  • Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic: "Players and coaches gathered at midcourt and sat in a circle with Managing Partner Robert Sarver and President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby. Each took a turn sharing what he and the next man could do better to help this 20-24 Suns team. 'Keep plugging away and keep trying to get better, compete a little bit harder,' coach Alvin Gentry said of the messages. Something must change. The Suns failed to take advantage of the soft part of their schedule and now face Boston, the East leader, Friday and New Orleans, the NBA's hottest team, on Sunday. Given how the Suns lost seven of their past 13 games against teams with losing records, facing elite opponents is cause to circle the troops. This season has become a vicious circle. When the Suns have fixed league-worst rebounding, their 29th-ranked defense has let them down. When they defend better, they lose their identity as high scorers with poor shooting or piles of turnovers."
  • Andrew Aragon of the Deseret News: "In his actions and with his words -- or lack thereof -- Jazz guard Raja Bell has shown he's clearly frustrated with Utah's six-game losing streak. In the Jazz's last two games, Bell has had words with the Lakers' Andrew Bynum and the Spurs' DeJuan Blair, and been issued two technical fouls. After the loss to San Antonio, Bell, a consummate professional, quickly left Utah's locker room without speaking to reporters. Bell said those incidents aren't a reflection of his frustration level. But make no mistake about it, his frustration meter is currently off the charts. 'I'm pretty down,' Bell said. 'It's alright though. It's a long season, so you try not to get too high with the highs or low with the lows, but when you're in the middle of something like (a six-game losing streak) it's hard. You want to do well.' Bell would be the first to say that he isn't doing all that well right now. He has lost his shooting touch during Utah's six-game losing streak. He hasn't scored more than five points in the six defeats. In the Jazz's last six games, he is shooting 7-for-30 from the field. Bell, a career 40.9 percent 3-point shooter, said he isn't concerned about finding his shot. Not impacting games in any type of way is what's mostly troubling him, and something he wants to change when the Jazz host the Minnesota Timberwolves tonight. 'It's the whole performance, I think,' Bell said."
  • Marcus Thompson II of The Oakland Tribune: "Warriors rookie Ekpe Udoh was the No. 6 overall pick in the draft in June. Yet, he is often glued to the bench, playing 20 minutes or more just three times. So, what does that mean? He's not ready? He was the wrong pick? 'We've not seen much of him,' general manager Larry Riley said, 'but I'm comfortable with what he's doing. We're not even concerned that he's going to eventually prove his worth. We're not disappointed with what he's doing when he's on the floor.' Fans and media are calling for more Udoh. Some even suggest the 23-year-old rookie from Baylor should start at center with Andris Biedrins struggling. Biedrins has just two points and six rebounds in his past 43 minutes. But Udoh, Riley and coach Keith Smart are all preaching patience. Perhaps it's hard not to expect immediate returns from Udoh with other rookies -- ones the Warriors could have taken -- contributing to other teams. Big man Greg Monroe, who many thought the Warriors should have taken back in June, has already started 12 games for the Detroit Pistons. And he's produced: 9.8 points and 8.2 rebounds in 31.3 minutes per game as a starter. ... the politics of NBA does play a role. More minutes for Udoh likely means less for the $9 million-a-season-starter in Biedrins, or Lou Amundson, signed as a free agent to be the Warriors' big man off the bench. And don't forget the matter of winning games. Co-owner Joe Lacob stated he wants to be at .500 by the All-Star break and is holding out hopes for the playoffs. That leaves Smart little leeway for enduring Udoh's inevitable rookie mistakes."
  • Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer: "This isn’t a story about a beer-commercial bro-mance. It is a story about stereotyping and unintended messages. But mostly it’s about Boris Diaw and coach Paul Silas discovering something in Kwame Brown that even Brown gave up on long ago. Scoring. Think back to when the Bobcats signed Brown to a free-agent contract this summer. Remember the snickers, the talk-radio chortling? Brown was Michael Jordan’s folly, a wasted No. 1 pick of a decade ago in Washington. Who needs that stiff? The Bobcats needed him. For his size, for his defense…and most improbably of late as their best post scorer. Check out the numbers: The victory in Phoenix Wednesday was Brown’s fourth double-double (points and rebounds) in his last seven games. In those four games, he averaged 13 points, 14.5 rebounds and shot 17-of-30 from the field. Now, compare that to Brown’s last two seasons, both spent in Detroit. He went all of last season without a double-double and scored 10 or more points just twice. He had two double-doubles the previous season. He’d been on the shelf so long, his expiration date came and went."


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Miami Heat Squeak by Pistons With Controversial No-Call

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Miami Heat

The Miami Heat secured just their second victory in their last seven games with an 88-87 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Friday night. With the Heat continuing to battle injuries with Chris Bosh still ailing and Dwyane Wade a surprising late scratch due to a right wrist sprain, Mike Miller and LeBron James couldn't get through the game without suffering an assortment of injuries themselves. Once again, the team continued to struggle to find any sort of offensive flow for much of the game while the Pistons held their own while being led by a resurgent Tracy McGrady who paced the team with a near triple-double of 14 points, 10 assists and 8 rebounds.

Playing on the second night of a back-to-back after their disappointing loss to the New York Knicks on Thursday night, the Heat managed to outlast the Pistons by the slimmest of margins though the victory was hardly convincing. Nevertheless, Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra sounded grateful just to escape with the hard-fought win.

"This was a mental toughness game where we certainly did not get into a consistent rhythm and that's a credit to the Pistons," he said. "But we had to find a way to grind it out, we were in another close game, and I think we were much better tonight in those late game situations than we were last night."


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Spurs first to 40 wins, beat Rockets (AP)

SAN ANTONIO, TX - JANUARY 29: DeJuan Blair #45 of the San Antonio Spurs dunks against the Houston Rockets during the game at AT&T Center on January 29, 2011 in San Antonio, Texas.

The San Antonio Spurs are the NBA's first team to 40 wins, and got there faster than the four-time champions ever have before. Maybe three weeks on the road will make things more challenging. Manu Ginobili scored 22 points and the Spurs hit 40 victories by winning their 18th in a row at home, beating the Houston Rockets 108-95 on Saturday night.


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No Celtics Starters in All Star Game


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Timothy Bradley vs. Devon Alexander: Live Blog, Results & Analysis From Detroit

Tonight promises to be amazing! I've been here at the Silverdome in Pontiac, Mich., since noon and I'm loving it. Timothy Bradley vs. Devon Alexander is set to occur later tonight as part of this crowded, well put-together fight card.

Stick with me, boxing featured columnist Justin Tate, as we go through a bunch of the preliminary fights and eventually get to the one you've all been waiting for, Timothy Bradley vs. Devon Alexander!


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Per NFL Network's Michael Lombardi, [Vince] Young's lack of work ethic is "legendary" in the locker...


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Samstag, 29. Januar 2011

Braves' Tim Hudson Adds to Big Offseason With Hutch Award

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Statistics make it easy to judge the player who's had the best season.

Judging which player has had the best offseason can be tougher, but this winter there can't be many players who have had a better time of it than Atlanta starting pitcher Tim Hudson.

Hudson was in Seattle Wednesday to accept the 46th Hutch Award, which goes annually to a Major League Baseball player who best exemplifies the honor, courage and dedication of former pitcher and manager Fred Hutchinson, a Seattle native who died of cancer at 45 in 1964.

It's the second major award for Hudson, who was awarded the National League's Comeback of the Year award in November.

In between, the Auburn University product moved his family into the Auburn-area home he and his wife, Kim, have built. And they watched their beloved Auburn Tigers football team go through an undefeated season en route to claiming the BCS title and the No. 1 ranking.


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Celtics Defense Grinds Out a Win in Portland


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Charley Rosen: NBA's Most Over/Underrated

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LeBron James heads the list because despite his gargantuan numbers he still has to prove that he's not a quitter (remember the concluding two games of last season's Celtics-Cavs series?) and not a loser. Moreover, although he's become celebrated for running down and blocking breakaways, his posture is still too upright for him to play adequate defense against quick-footed opponents.

Vince Carter also habitually posts gaudy numbers but has been a choker throughout his career.

Dwight Howard is a good defensive helper, but only when a savvy offense hasn't sucked him out of position. At the same time, he's unable to adequately defend opposing big men who can turn-face-and-go. Plus, instead of elevating his own performance he'd rather whine in public about his teammates' shortcomings.

Kenyon Martin has a big mouth and a small game.

Danilo Gallinari is a streaky shooter with a questionable handle and slow-footed defense. If he played anywhere else but New York he'd never be touted as a future superstar.

Stephen Jackson can't differentiate between a shot and a bad shot.


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Thursday Bullets


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