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Discussion Starter #21
Casey: No Added Pressure

The Timberwolves haven't been to the NBA playoffs in two years, but Dwane Casey, beginning his second season as coach, said he doesn't feel added pressure for a fast start this season.

"It's important any time to have a fast start, but the playoffs are not made in November," Casey said Wednesday before the Wolves beat Sacramento 92-83 in their season opener at Target Center. "I'm going to coach the same way as I did in training camp."

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Discussion Starter #22
NBA speaks loudly in its silencing of heckler

The most important development of the first week of the NBA season very likely slipped under everybody's radar, what with a legendary league figure dying, players getting the law laid down to them over gunplay, and debates raging over the new high-tech, fancy-schmancy game ball.

In a two-paragraph statement issued the day before the regular-season opener, the sport most routinely maligned by the public took a rock-solid stand in favor of those very same cynical fans.

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Discussion Starter #23
MJ's latest 'job' another bad fit

The best tribute I can offer the Bulls is that they practically have made us forget You Know Who -- unless, of course, You Know Who rescues the world from a 5-3 dictator and his weapons of mass destruction. Seems the North Korean leader with the red button, Kim Jong-Il, might be a bigger fan of Michael Jordan than he is of nuclear warfare. He once requested and received an autographed ball from MJ, then sent formal word asking his idol to make a goodwill trip to Pyongyang.

Jordan declined the invitation, probably because there were no casinos in the area and he rather would give Jerry Krause a bearhug than participate in diplomatic healing. But years later, maybe he should do a favor for 6.5 billion people in the global village and reconsider, particularly after a published report that Kim has an ample film library of Jordan's performances and once interrupted a meeting with a U.S. State Department official to address more important matters.

''Stop. No more,'' he said. ''Michael and the Bulls are on TNT, and I've got to see if Scottie has gotten over his latest injury.''

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Discussion Starter #24
Fans join franchise in tribute to Auerbach

A single, empty seat, adorned with 16 green roses and a Hoyo de Monterrey Excalibur cigar, remained unoccupied last night for the Celtics' season opener. It was Red Auerbach's customary seat at TD Banknorth Garden -- Loge 12, Row 7, Seat 1 -- and the makeshift memorial served as a final reminder to all.

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Discussion Starter #25
Brezec out at least 2 weeks

Exhausted and dehydrated, Charlotte Bobcats center Primoz Brezec will miss at least the first two weeks of the regular season to recover.

The Bobcats announced that decision Wednesday morning, and started power forward Sean May in Brezec's place in the season opener against the Indiana Pacers. That effectively made Emeka Okafor the starting center.

Brezec was worn down and sick much of the preseason, after a tiring summer playing for the Slovenian national team in the world championships. He told the Observer he's through with year-round basketball.

"I'm done with the national team in the summertime," Brezec said. "I've got to take care of my body. It was a long summer -- Japan and Singapore and lots of tournaments."

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Discussion Starter #26
Bargnani becomes instant media magnet

There is one aspect of the NBA that is not sitting well with Raptors rookie Andrea Bargnani.

The low-key forward, who was drafted first overall by the Raptors this year, held two media conferences yesterday prior to the Raptors' season-opening 102-92 loss to the New Jersey Nets at the Continental Airlines Arena. One for a large contingent from Italy and the other for the North America media.

Bargnani said he is enjoying his time thus far in the NBA, but he is not digging the intense media attention that comes from being the first overall draft, and the first European to be drafted No. 1 in the NBA.

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Discussion Starter #27
Isiah's first a triple delight

Not even the Larry Brown Knicks blew a 19-point, fourth-quarter lead.

But then, Isiah Thomas wanted to see how his team would respond under duress and last night his players gave him a sneak preview, even if the adversity was self-inflicted.

Despite a near-epic collapse against the depleted Memphis Grizzlies, the Knicks needed 63 minutes to finally get Thomas a victory in his coaching debut. In fact, their 118-117 triple-overtime win gave Thomas something the Knicks never achieved under Brown - a winning record.

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Discussion Starter #28
Sonics unable to measure up in season opener

Needing a rebound when they absolutely had to have it, the Sonics came up with air and a bunch of excuses to explain their faulty board work in the clutch and why they blew a nine-point lead in the final five minutes.

"This one is my fault," Nick Collison said after the 110-106 heartbreaking defeat to the Portland Trail Blazers in front of an announced season-opening sellout crowd of 17,072 in KeyArena.

"We needed that rebound and there's no excuse. I just slipped and he got around me. ... There's times in the game when you know this is a big play and that was one of them that killed us."

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Discussion Starter #29
It's not over the top to suggest Wallace go underhanded

Suppose your game had a serious flaw that had the potential to deep-six your team and its season. And suppose the No. 1 expert in the field offered to fix the problem. Even if it meant a drastic change, you would pick up the phone faster than a hiccup, right?

Not if your name is Ben Wallace, apparently.

Wallace is the Bulls center who will be paid $60 million over four years to rebound and defend, basically. Yet as dominant as the four-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year is at one end, he's almost as bad at the other. He entered the season with a career .418 free-throw percentage, believed to be the worst among regulars in league history.

If ever a guy needs to try something different -- yeah, even the underhanded technique that hasn't been used in decades -- Wallace is the one.

And I know just the person to teach him.

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Discussion Starter #30
The Heat paid its penance Wednesday. Practice was called for noon. The last ball d

Through study and sweat, the Heat did its best to push past Tuesday's 108-66 season-opening loss to the visiting Bulls.

"Anytime you get beat like that, you remember," guard Dwyane Wade said. "When I got beat like that in high school, I still remember.

"I mean, it was hard to get to sleep."


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Discussion Starter #31
Celts take a step back: Revert to old ways in opener

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Celts take a step back: Revert to old ways in opener
By Steve Bulpett
Boston Herald Sports Reporter
Thursday, November 2, 2006 - Updated: 02:37 AM EST

It is hard to be certain of much just one game into a season, but this much the Celtics know after last night’s 91-87 loss to the Hornets.
C’s opening night:
This is not what they had in mind.
On a night when the team paid tribute to Red Auerbach, the Green left their followers blue with a discordant display. The idea was to wake up the echoes of their forefathers’ famed fast break, but the Celts wound up leaning on a slice of their unsuccessful recent past. With nothing else working consistently, they put the ball in Paul Pierce’s hands and hoped for the best.


And while they got 29 points and a career-high 19 rebounds out of their captain, they could not get a victory.
“That’s not what we should have been in,” coach Doc Rivers said. “You know, Paul bailed us out on a couple (possessions), but there were three or four where to me he should have never even got the ball. He wasn’t open, and we have to trust and move the ball. And we just stuck on it. Sebastian (Telfair) did it, and Ryan (Gomes) has a wide-open shot and instead he looks at it and passes to Paul.
“We’ll kill Paul if we try to play that way.”
And they’ll kill any hopes of a decent year, as well, as teams will again load up on Pierce if others don’t step up. The Celts missed their first six shots of the game and never seemed to find a stride. If not for Pierce and Wally Szczerbiak (21 points) and Al Jefferson (13), this would have gotten seriously out of hand.
“I think we came out a little sluggish,” said Telfair after recording one assist in 28 minutes. “That wasn’t what we expected for the first game. I expected us to be excited and ready to go, but we started off the game slow and put ourselves in a hole.”
Beyond the fact the Celtics played like strangers most of the evening, the most disturbing aspect of the outcome is that they may have been able to pull this one out had they simply been able to avoid fouling up at the foul line. But six misses in 12 fourth quarter tries and a 24-for-39 (62 percent) overall performance canceled any such hopes. Pierce was 7-for-15.
“The free throw things are fixable, because when you look at it we had the right guys getting to the line,” Rivers said. “So I’m not worried about that at all. We’re going to work on it like we do every day. It’s the other stuff, the focus part. If I have a concern coming out of this game, it’s that. Hopefully it is a first game thing. Usually that goes away after the first four minutes of a game, and it never left.
“We’ve got to have better focus. It’s a work in progress, but we’ve done some of these things for a month and for some of that to break down was pretty disappointing. But that’s the way it goes.”
Down a dozen points with 7 minutes left, they turned to Pierce and things tightened considerably in short order.
In a 9-0 run, he scored seven points and assisted on the other two (a Jefferson layup) to slice the Hornets’ margin to 81-78. Pierce answered hoops by Bobby Jackson and David West with buckets of his own to keep the spread at three, and Szczerbiak and Jefferson each hit 1-of-2 from the line to make it a one-point game. But Peja Stojakovic scored on two straight possessions and David West converted an offensive rebound on the next to put the Celts away. [continue]
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Discussion Starter #32
New season, old problem: C’s still look to Pierce too much

The look may have been new, but the habit was old and clearly hard to break.
When the clock on the Celtics’ 91-87 loss to the Hornets last night hit make-or-break time, all eyes turned to Paul Pierce.

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Discussion Starter #33
No more Mr. Nice Coach: It's time to focus

Mo Cheeks is a fiercely proud man - and a gentleman.

The problem with being a gentleman is, too often, people focus on the gentle and not the man.

And so it was last season, when Cheeks' players, frankly, took his kindness for weakness, and the 76ers imploded from a thousand self-inflicted cuts. But the biggest slice was that the team didn't give a damn about defense, and proved it night after night.

We don't yet know much about this season's team, not after one win over a dreadful, dreadful Hawks team in the home opener. Only a fool would postulate from any one night of an NBA season. But we do know this about this season's Sixers - they will give a damn about defense, because Mo Cheeks will not allow them not to.

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Discussion Starter #34
Mavericks must overcome Cuban Crisis of last season

A special thank-you to David Stern, who this week used his commish muscle to apply the icing on an excellent Mavericks' off-season.

Game 1 of a new campaign begins tonight for our one local organization with true championship aspirations. An organization, by the way, that didn't allow the shell-shock of last June to linger through the summer and into fall.

Come May, can the Mavs survive San Antonio again in the playoffs? Don't know yet, but at least we get a very preliminary look at the situation, since it's the Spurs who provide the competition in this opener.

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Discussion Starter #35
Cavaliers can enjoy 1-2 punch

On "Light It Up Night," Le Bron James had been a bulb or two short of brilliance for most of Wednesday.

Red lights might have flashed on the free necklaces fans wore in the darkened Q before the Cavaliers' season opener began, and James might have forecast: "It will be electrifying out there," but the buzz had buzzed off.

Washington Wizards coach Eddie Jordan did his part to convince the Cavs that it's all bright lights and top of the marquee exposure for them. "We know about that team's strength. We don't know their weaknesses. Maybe their third-string assistant coach isn't very good. But they are talking championship here, and rightfully so," said Jordan with a straight face.

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Discussion Starter #36
Wallace ejection caps ugly opener

The Pistons might or might not be able to survive the absence of one Wallace. But the Milwaukee Bucks showed emphatically Wednesday that they will not survive the absence of two Wallaces.

Ben Wallace was in Orlando with the Bulls on Wednesday. Rasheed Wallace was in uniform and at The Palace, for a little while, but his game was elsewhere.

And the Bucks spoiled the home opener, sending a large chunk of the sellout crowd home early, with a 105-97 rout.

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Discussion Starter #37
Stoudemire keeps cool despite playing only limited minutes

Amaré Stoudemire is searching for answers. And french fries. Ninety minutes before tip-off, the man who received a $10 million check this week courtesy of the maximum contract he signed last year, is digging into a McDonald's bag.

"No comment," he said Wednesday before the Suns beat the Los Angeles Clippers 112-104. "I hope you can respect that."

Stoudemire was reacting to a question about his limited playing time in the team's season-opening loss to the Lakers Tuesday.

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Discussion Starter #38
Score One for the Defense

After a training camp full of talk about defense and rebounding, not to mention rebounding and defense, the 76ers drew a mixed grade last night in their first test.

Luckily, their opening-night opponent was the Atlanta Hawks. The Sixers played decent defense and were spotty under the boards, but still managed to stay rather comfortably in front in capturing an 88-75 victory before 17,119 at the Wachovia Center.

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Discussion Starter #40
Celts take a step back: Revert to old ways in opener

It is hard to be certain of much just one game into a season, but this much the Celtics know after last night’s 91-87 loss to the Hornets.

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