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Ball Don't Lie - NBA

Each weekday morning, BDL serves up a handful of NBA-related stories to digest with your Creamsicles.

Jason Jones, Sac Bee"They're not title contenders, but the Kings matter, thanks to Tyreke Evans(notes). For fans that don't have the NBA League Pass, ESPN provided the rest of the country with a chance to see just what Evans could do. Having committed a foul that could have eventually led to a loss, Evans didn't flinch with Gilbert Arenas(notes) looking to win the game for the Wizards. 'I just thought it was almost poetic to have it come down to a clear-out for Arenas and to have Tyreke (Evans) pick his pocket,' said Kings coach Paul Westphal. 'We've got a kid that's somebody in this league, and it's really fun to see that and have the building rocking.' Evans had 26 points, six rebounds and six assists. And his confidence appears to be rubbing on teammates who already look to him to make plays late in games."

Tom Enlund, Journal Sentinel: "What would have been an oh-so-sweet victory over the NBA-champion Los Angeles Lakers was there for the taking Wednesday night at the Bradley Center but the Milwaukee Bucks did not seize the opportunity. For any number of reasons. First and foremost was the cold-blooded 15-foot jumper that Kobe Bryant(notes) sank at the final buzzer in overtime that handed the Bucks a gut-wrenching 107-106 defeat. But as well and as gritty as the Bucks played for much of the night, they were unable to hold a six-point lead in the final 1 minute, 28 seconds of overtime as the Lakers scored the game's final points. Then were a couple of 'key, key, key plays' — as center Andrew Bogut(notes) said later — that didn't go the Bucks' way at crunch time. And the foul line was again a major source of frustration for the Bucks. It all added up to a bitter, bitter defeat that wasn't in the books until Bryant sank his jumper over Charlie Bell(notes) at the buzzer. 'We were right there,' said Bell. 'We had chances to win. We can't blame nobody but ourselves. We played well. They're the defending champs. We took them to overtime in a game; we probably should have won.'"

Tim Povtak, NBA FanHouse: "Chris Bosh is not happy with the Toronto Raptors. And that's not good for the Raptors. Bosh, their franchise player who can leave as an unrestricted free agent this summer, was second-guessing the Raptors' strategy after getting drilled in back-to-back games by the Miami Heat and Orlando Magic. 'We make adjustments with teams before we play the game. That sends the wrong message to ourselves,' Bosh said after losing to the Magic, 118-99, Wednesday night. 'We practice all the time so we should trust our system. We need to go out there and play hard. If they beat us for one quarter doing the things we normally do, then okay. Now we can change it up.' [...] 'We're taking two steps forward and three steps back,' Bosh said. 'We're there some nights, but not there others. We've got to look ourselves in the mirror, and do what we're supposed to do. It's always talk, talk, talk — but it's about action.'"

Benjamin Hochman, The Denver Post: "Early in the third quarter Wednesday night, Chauncey Billups(notes) ambled toward the Nuggets' locker room, yanked his jersey out of his shorts, peered up at his parents in the Pepsi Center stands and just shrugged his shoulders in frustration. Billups suffered a strained left groin during the Nuggets' 111-101 victory over the Rockets, and Denver's homegrown point guard did not return to the game. It was unclear whether he will play in Denver's next game, Friday at New Orleans."

Ken Berger, CBSSports.com: "Tracy McGrady returned to the Houston Rockets Tuesday night, and the fans cheered. T-Mac hit a 3-pointer, his only points during an eight-minute stint, and all was right in Rocket Land again. Right? No, not so much. McGrady's comeback is only part of a larger plan to increase his minutes and prove his worth to a team willing to take a chance on his once-breathtaking ability to score and benefit from his $23 million expiring contract at the same time. The Rockets were 14-10 this season without Yao Ming(notes) and McGrady, and now the only question is how long they'll have to keep up the charade until McGrady is in good enough condition to help another team. 'The plan is to increase his minutes because they're gonna trade him,' said a person familiar with the Rockets' plans. 'I know they are. It doesn't do them any good to have him playing eight minutes a game on that contract. They'll find somebody, and there are plenty of teams that are interested, in spite of the contract.'"

Kate Fagan, Philadelphia Inquirer: "In a month filled with mostly bad news, yesterday the 76ers got some much-needed relief: Center Marreese Speights(notes) returned to the court, and point guard Lou Williams looks poised to do the same. Last night against the Cleveland Cavaliers at the Wachovia Center, Speights played in a game for the first time in just over a month. Earlier in the day, Williams, who has been out for three weeks, had the wires removed from his broken jaw. Speights had not played since suffering a torn medial collateral ligament in his left knee in a Nov. 14 game against Chicago. He was expected to be sidelined for six to eight weeks, but he returned in fewer than five. Before he was hurt, Speights was averaging 13.0 points and 6.4 rebounds per game."

Dave D'Alessandro, The Star-Ledger: "... with his time as the starting four coming to an end — Yi Jianlian(notes) is going to practice Monday, and play Wednesday — there is still one question yet to be answered: Has [Josh] Boone shown the Nets what he wanted to show them? 'I'd like to think so,' said Boone, who becomes a free agent this summer. 'In the end, it's up to them, but I'm going to continue to play the same way.' The numbers aren't going to dazzle anybody, least of all a management team that is going to rebuild virtually the entire frontcourt — lopping off everyone but Brook Lopez(notes) and Yi — this summer. He's averaging only 5.0 points (.509 shooting from the field), 6.0 rebounds, and 0.84 blocks in 20.7 minutes this year as a token starter who rarely gets to finish. But over the last 11 games, with just a short increase in minutes (23.4), Boone has hiked his numbers in every area: 6.3 ppg (.529), 6.8 rpg. He has also had 11 blocks in the last seven games. Those stats, however, do not reflect his improvement. Minute for minute, this is probably Boone's best season. He not only has more going for him offensively, there are nights when he looks shot out of a cannon when he's asked to bring the defensive help from the weak side. It's also encouraging that he puts drivers on their backsides once in a while."

Jonathan Abrams, New York Times: "Nearly everything Jared Jeffries(notes) does on the court ranges from unsightly to ugly. He does not score. He rebounds. He is not a high-flying athlete who attacks the rim. In 463 career games, Jeffries has scored 20 or more points only twice. He is the one who draws charges. Jeffries possesses little flash, but many elbow burns. Under Coach Mike D'Antoni, Jeffries has been molded into an interior defender, designated point-guard chaser and all-around harasser. His jump shot is still poor, but light years ahead of the days when he regularly air-balled free throws. It is an unlikely role for an unlikely NBA player. The 6-foot-11 and lanky Jeffries has no natural position. He is the subject of more jeers than cheers at Madison Square Garden, where occasionally the crowd groans not only when he misses a shot, but as he attempts it. 'I just go through life at an even pace and I do everything to the best of my abilities,' Jeffries said. 'If I keep doing that, then I'll be successful.'"

Ric Bucher, ESPN: "The James Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame induction process has long been one of the most secretive and exclusive of all the major sports shrines. Jerry Colangelo, Naismith's newly elected chairman of the board, is looking to change that. His plan includes having both fans and the media involved in the selection process. 'Nothing is etched in concrete at this point,' Colangelo said. 'I have to get my board to agree with me. I just believe it's the right thing to do and when you believe that and you're passionate about it, you usually can get something done.' [...] The first order of business, though, is to restructure the board itself, breaking it into executive and working branches. As of now, Colangelo said, the 40-some member board is too 'cumbersome' to get anything accomplished. Next up would be to look at individuals who are not in the Hall and whose eligibility to gain entrance has expired. ABA stars Artis Gilmore and Mel Daniels were among the names he mentioned, but he added, 'There are no shortage of individuals to reconsider. And here's the kicker: I want the media to be involved and the fans to participate.'"

Joe Freeman, The Oregonian: "The Trail Blazers have finally received a dose of good news regarding their injury-depleted roster. The NBA has awarded the Blazers a hardship exception, giving them the option of signing a 16th player to the roster for a short-term basis. Teams are eligible for the exception after four players on a roster miss at least three games and are expected to miss two additional weeks. The Blazers became eligible after their game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday, when Greg Oden(notes) missed his third consecutive game because of a fractured patella in his left knee, and were awarded the exception by the NBA on Sunday. 'We're surveying our options,' said Tom Penn, the Blazers' vice president of basketball operations. 'We've been looking at free agents that are out there and available ... and we're going to keep our options open. We may or may not ultimately sign a player.'"

RealGM/The Star-Ledger: "The deal to bring the Nets to Newark has all but fallen apart. The Nets have been considering a move to the Prudential Center in Newark prior to their planned move to a new arena in Brooklyn. The team has not given up on working out an agreement that would end its current lease at the Izod Center and allow the team to play at the Prudential Center next season and most if not all of the following season. 'We continue to be encouraged about the prospect of making an interim move to the Pru Center,' said Brett Yormark of the Nets."

Darnell Mayberry, The Oklahoman: "One of only two owners to vote against the Sonics' move to Oklahoma City, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said he still thinks the franchise should have remained in Seattle. 'I would vote the same way,' Cuban said an hour before tip-off in the Mavs' locker room at the Ford Center. The only other owner to vote against the relocation in April 2008 was Portland's Paul Allen, a Seattle native. Cuban reiterated his viewpoint has everything to do with business. 'It had nothing to do with Oklahoma City, Tulsa or the area here,' Cuban said. 'It's a great area. It wasn't a reflection of what I thought of the area here. It's just size. In a business where 100,000 viewers can make a difference between your television partners having great ratings or not having great ratings, losing a team in a larger market to me is a challenge. That's really what it came down to.'"

Eddie Sefko, The Dallas Morning News"Jason Kidd just got called for a foul on a drive by Russell Westbrook(notes) that he clearly didn't agree with. Kidd went over to the sideline, ostensibly to get some fresh resin on his hands. After giving them a good rub to get them nice and full of resin, he went over and gave referee Scott Wall a pat on the behind. A nice off-white hand print was left on the black slacks."

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