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NBA News - Sports News | Archive February 12, 2010


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Rookies break sophomore hex in Dallas

Associated Press
February 12, 2010

DALLAS, Tx. — Sacramento's Tyreke Evans had 26 points and San Antonio's DeJuan Blair had 22 points and 23 rebounds to give the NBA rookies a rare victory over the sophomores, 140-128 in the Rookie Challenge on Friday night.

Russell Westbrook of Oklahoma City scored 40 points for the sophomores, but he was one of seven players on the second-year team who were handed a surprising result -- consecutive losses in this All-Star Weekend event.

The sophomores had won seven straight games and eight of 10 since that format was adopted in 2000.

Evans, the league's top-scoring rookie and 14th overall with 20.3 points a game, made 11 of 15 shots to go with six rebounds and five assists.

Milwaukee rookie Brandon Jennings had 22 points and eight assists, and James Harden from Oklahoma City also had 22 points.

Westbrook's 40-point game came a year after Kevin Durant, this year an assistant coach for the rookies, became the first in the game to break the 40-point mark with a record 46.

Blair, who told his teammates before the game that he was going for every rebound, had one of the highlight plays after a turnover by the sophomores in the first half. Stephen Curry flipped the ball to Blair, who threw it off the backboard and grabbed it out of the air before slamming it home.

In the closing seconds of the game, Blair chased down a ball in the corner and scooped it underhand to save it from going out of bounds. After getting back on the court and begging for teammates to get him the ball, he scored despite being tackled by New Jersey's Brook Lopez under the basket.

Both players were smiling in a pile on the floor after the ball fell through the hoop at the American Airlines Center, the Dallas Mavericks' home arena. Only Sunday night's All-Star Game will be played at Cowboys Stadium.

Miami's Michael Beasley, who scored 29 points in last year's game, had 26 points this time. Golden State's Anthony Morrow had 15 points and Minnesota's Kevin Love, who had predicted a lopsided victory for the sophomores, had 12 points and six rebounds. O.J. Mayo from Memphis had eight points and 10 assists.

The rookies had a 55-45 lead with just under 4 minutes left in the first half when Evans converted a scoop shot while falling away and being fouled, and made the free throw.

The sophomores then scored six straight points. Eric Gordon had a basket, then a dunk off on an assist from Mayo. Anthony Morrow drove the baseline for a reverse layup, but the newbies got all those points right back.

Jennings hit long jumper, Jonny Flynn drove for a layup and Jennings then had a breakaway layup to make it 61-51.

The biggest lead for the rookies before halftime was the 67-55 score at the break after Omri Casspi's 13-foot turnaround fadeaway shot.
Mayo had six assists by halftime, not including helping Gordon against Toronto's DeMar DeRozan in the first-ever All-Star Slam Dunk-In.

DeRozan, not part of the Rookie Challenge game, earned 61 percent of the fan vote to get a spot in the Slam Dunk Contest that is a highlight of the Saturday night activities at the All-Star Game.

The rookies hit the 100-point mark with more than 10 minutes left on a short floater by Jennings that made it 100-86.

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Hunter: No lockout imminent

Associated Press
February 12, 2010

DALLAS, Tx. — The executive director of the NBA players' association said Friday the league tore up its proposal for a new collective bargaining agreement after a "contentious" 90-minute session.

But Billy Hunter said that doesn't mean the league is closer to a lockout when the current deal expires on July 1, 2011.

"No, I think that everybody has a different sense of things and nobody wants to see this thing that David Stern has worked and built, the NBA, the successful entity that it is, the brand, we're not out to damage it or destroy it," Hunter said after a press conference.

"So we're going to make every effort to get an agreement done, we just want an agreement that's a lot more equitable and one that doesn't have a structure that's oppressive."

Hunter said the union will submit its own proposal, but offered no timetable for when that would happen. He's in no rush, since the players believe the current system is working for both sides, and it doesn't expire for another 16 months.

The sides met Friday, with negotiators for the players fortified by the presence of All-Stars such as LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Garnett, who came to the meeting instead of attending the community service events they were scheduled for. A number of top players vowed earlier in the day to get more involved in the process.

"We should be involved," Anthony said before the meeting. "It's not only going to affect the players with the lesser contracts, it's going to affect us, too.

"When you walk into one of those meetings, one of those CBA meetings, and you see myself, you see the LeBrons and the Kobes and the Kevin Garnetts, it's a stronger presence. So I think we should go in and make our presence felt."

Hunter said the union received the proposal on Jan. 29. It calls for dramatic financial changes, with Hunter saying the league seeks a "hard" salary cap which would eliminate the Bird and midlevel exceptions that teams over the cap can use to sign players if they are willing to pay a luxury tax.

Los Angeles Lakers guard Derek Fisher, the union president, said the players made clear there was "not any way that we were going to be able to use (the proposal) as a starting point for future collective bargaining negotiations."

"I think what we made clear today is that where they are is not relevant to where we are. We're not going to begin where they say begin," Fisher said. "I think that was the purpose of going in today, to make sure they understood that their proposal was not the beginning of the conversation."

Deputy commissioner Adam Silver, who heads the league's negotiating team, said in a statement that, "While we do not agree with the players association's characterization of today's meeting or the status of the NBA's bargaining proposal, David will address the subject of collective bargaining during his media availability prior to All-Star Saturday night."

A person who had seen the proposal told The Associated Press on Thursday that it called for first-round picks to have their salaries cut by about one-third, would reduce the minimum salary by as much as 20 percent, and would guarantee contracts for only half their value. Also, the total value of a maximum salary would drop sharply, as would the total years players could sign for.

The proposal rallied the players, especially after Hunter forwarded them comments from an executive who recently told that, "if they don't like the new max contracts, LeBron can play football, where he will make less than the new max. Wade can be a fashion model or whatever. They won't make squat and no one will remember who they are in a few years."

"I think that maybe they underestimated the response, the blowback that they were going to get to the proposal," said Hunter, who added it would affect "every player at every level in the NBA" and included "everything that (management) could ever think of."

The players' share of basketball-related income would also be slashed from the current 57 percent to well below half. Hunter countered that instead of players giving up so much, the NBA needed to expand its revenue sharing so larger market teams could help the smaller market ones.

"Our position was it was a nonstarter," Hunter said of the proposal.

Hunter said the league wants a new CBA before this July, so it can be in place before the expected stellar free agent class headlined by James. He added the league seeks "retroactive modification," meaning contracts signed under the current deal would then have to conform to the rules of the new one.

The differences in their positions have created fears of the first work stoppage since a lockout that reduced the 1999 season to 50 games. They opened talks and exchanged financial information last summer to get an early start on bargaining, and Hunter said he was surprised by the strength of the league's proposal after those sessions went well.

New Orleans guard Chris Paul is currently the only All-Star on the bargaining committee, but whenever talks resume, it sounds as if the top players plan to stay involved.

"I think we've learned a lot from the past bargaining agreement," San Antonio's Tim Duncan said. "That was a big turning point in the last one, when a lot of the big guys stepped up and made their voices heard. That helped the situation. I think everyone will be involved a lot more this ti People will understand what it takes. Everyone understands changes are going to be made. We need to step up and make our voices heard so it's not an extreme change."

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