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NBA Rumors for Monday, Dec. 16
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With the Rockets offense already hurting because of self-inflicted wounds and the misguided audacity after Friday’s win, guard James Harden sprained his left ankle and struggled to move through the rest of the 10 remaining minutes he tried to play before limping to the training room with six minutes left. With Jeremy Lin already there with back spasms, and the Rockets breaking down badly with waves of turnovers and missed free throws, the Sacramento Kings easily finished them off, 106-91. Houston Chronicle
“Very, very, very painful,” Harden said, adding he did not know how long the ankle sprain would keep him out. “I’m in pain right now. I’m just trying to get through this, these seconds. “It was throbbing so I taped it up real tight to see if I could go out there and move. It wasn’t working so I shut it down.” Harden did return for 10 minutes after the injury, but struggled to move from 3-point line to 3-point line. He took six more shots, all jumpers and all but one a 3-pointer. Houston Chronicle
Brooklyn Nets coach Jason Kidd said that small forward Paul Pierce will continue to come off the bench. “For right now, yes,” Kidd said Sunday. Pierce has come off the bench since coming back from a broken bone in his right hand. Over that three-game span, he’s averaging 8.7 points, 6.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists in 25.7 minutes, while shooting 36.8 percent from the field. ESPN NY
“[Paul]’s selfless,” Nets point guard Deron Williams said. “That shows what kind of person he is. He can be a guy that says, ‘I’m Paul Pierce, I’m a starter in this league,’ you know? Like some guys have done. He’s just worried about winning right now, and he’s trying to get back healthy and get back into a rhythm and I think he’s doing whatever the team needs right now.” ESPN NY
Marcin Gortat embraces being big, loves banging inside, and isn’t caught up in following other 6-foot-11 or taller players who would prefer to parade around the perimeter shooting jumpers rather than mixing it up and throwing people around. For that reason, Gortat has grown frustrated with a lack of touches near the basket and said he would speak to Coach Randy Wittman about his role in the offense after a lackluster outing against the Los Angeles Clippers. Washington Post Blog
“I don’t like the position I play,” Gortat said after scoring just six points on 3-of-10 shooting in the Wizards’ 113-96 loss on Saturday at Verizon Center. “I’m constantly drifting more and more away from the basket. That’s not my game. I’m capable of making one or two plays like that away from the basket, but I feel more comfortable underneath the basket.” Washington Post Blog
Nearly 37 percent (84 of 228) of Gortat’s shots this season have come outside the paint, which is much higher than his previous two seasons in Phoenix. The Clippers were content with letting him shoot him jumpers. And, after letting Gortat throw down that vicious putback jam, the Hawks used a similar strategy in Friday’s 101-99 overtime loss at Philips Arena. Washington Post Blog
Though upset, Gortat accepted responsibility for his struggles. “At the end of the day, it’s tough, you just have to make a play,” he said. Washington Post Blog
The frustration streamed out of Chauncey Billups, the Detroit Pistons' veteran point guard who knows how to finish close games but keeps watching his team lose them. Whether Billups is sound enough of body to avert this course consistently is a separate question, but Sunday's 111-109 overtime loss to the Portland Trail Blazers, after another fourth-quarter debacle, struck his competitive nerve. Michigan Live
Billups said he regularly tells Jennings that he has control of the offense, and if a play is called that runs contrary to what he sees, he also is empowered to execute something of a point-guard veto. "If you see something out there, everybody else is on the bench, you're out there, you've got the ball, you call what you want to call," Billups said. "But there's a lot of things going on out there in the game. Sometimes, you can get a little sidetracked." Michigan Live
Aldridge came over and set the pick but Rodney Stuckey did a great job of fighting through it, staying with Lillard. Lillard then proceeded to drive left but was cut off. He then spun to his right and took a tough, turnaround, contested 14-footer that feel through the bottom of the net leaving nothing but .1 seconds on the clock. After facing a 13-point deficit in the fourth quarter, Portland had stormed back to win the game in overtime 111-109. “It doesn’t matter if I’m 0-for-16, when the game is on the line, I’m raising up and shooting,” Lillard said after scoring eight of his 23 points in overtime. “I’m not shying away from no shots.” CSNNW
Magic: But that additional depth means some players won't receive the minutes they're accustomed to receiving. Second-year swingman Maurice Harkless is one example. Harkless didn't play at all in the Magic's 109-100 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday night. In the two games before that, he played a total of 17 minutes. On Sunday, coach Jacque Vaughn was asked whether he's spoken to Harkless about his recent reduction in minutes. Vaughn said he and his assistant coaches speak to all of their players on a daily basis. Orlando Sentinel
"So nothing changes when he doesn't play," Vaughn said. "I still talk to him the next morning, just like I did this morning. We still watch film and off we go. Part of developing guys is also realizing that the NBA is tough and you're not guaranteed minutes. There's 240 minutes available in the game — five players at 48 minutes. With 13 players on your roster, that's over 600 minutes. Orlando Sentinel
Former Tennessee basketball player Dyron Nix has passed away in Atlanta at the age of 46. Former Vol and Nix teammate Clarence Swearengen confirmed the death through a member of the Nix family. Swearengen said Nix had gone to an Atlanta hospital complaining of breathing difficulty and died a short time later. WATE
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