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    NBA.com Mason's 3-pointer gives Spurs 91-90 win over Suns
    Mason's 3-pointer gives Spurs 91-90 win over Suns

    By BOB BAUM, AP Sports Writer
    Posted Dec 25 2008 5:25PM

    PHOENIX(AP) Roger Mason didn't play at all in the fourth quarter until there were 4.3 seconds left. Then he came in and made the biggest shot of the game.

    Mason's 3-pointer from the corner at the buzzer Thursday gave the San Antonio Spurs a 91-90 victory over the Phoenix Suns.

    "As a shooter, you're always prepared,'' Mason said. "Coach put me in in that situation, and I knew if I had it, I was going to shoot it.''

    The Suns had taken the lead on Grant Hill's layup on an out-of-bounds play with 4.3 seconds to go.

    After a timeout, Tony Parker drove toward the basket for San Antonio and threw to Mason, who was wide open because defender Jason Richardson had sagged toward the basket.

    "As I beat Grant Hill, Jason Richardson came in,'' Parker said. "Roger was wide open, and that's his shot. He's been knocking them down all season, so I trusted him.''

    Parker scored 27 and Tim Duncan had 25 points and 17 rebounds as the Spurs won their fourth straight. Amare Stoudemire had 25 points and 13 rebounds and Shaquille O'Neal 23 points and 12 boards for the Suns, who led most of the afternoon but never by more than eight in the second half.

    Despite foul trouble, Duncan stopped Stoudemire on three straight late drives to the basket.

    "I thought Timmy down the stretch was absolutely spectacular,'' Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "With five fouls, the defense he played down low when they were going at him - making the stop, getting the rebound and getting it out - I thought he was just magnificent.''

    Duncan knew the Suns would go after him "no matter who I was guarding, whether it was Shaq or Amare.''

    "They chose Amare,'' Duncan said. "I was physical with him. I didn't back down or change my defense in any way.''

    Hill added 16 for the Suns, the last two coming on the same play Phoenix used to beat Orlando this season. After a timeout, he inbounded to Stoudemire, than ran to the baseline and toward the basket, where Stoudemire found him for the uncontested layup.

    But the Spurs had the last shot. When Parker drove toward the basket, Richardson came in to help on defense. That left Mason, a 48 percent 3-point shooter who hadn't scored since the second quarter, alone for the winner, sending San Antonio to its 10th win in its last 12 games.

    "We just had a breakdown,'' Phoenix coach Terry Porter said. "I mean, Grant did a good job on guarding the guy, the guy in the corner (Richardson) got suckered in too much and allowed Mason to get some space. Give Tony Parker some credit. He found him and Mason hit a wide-open shot.''

    O'Neal was 9-of-16 at the foul line to become the only player other than Wilt Chamberlain to miss 5,000 career free throws.

    Steve Nash had 13 points. His eight assists made him the 13th NBA player to reach 7,000 for his career. Porter is among the other 12.

    It was the kind of tight game that has become typical between the two teams.

    "We played good enough to win,'' Stoudemire said. "Every time we play the Spurs some type of big shot ends up happening.''

    Stoudemire's three-point play to start the fourth quarter put the Suns ahead 79-71. But the Spurs stayed close and Parker scored twice, on a layup and 18-footer, to give San Antonio its biggest lead, 88-84, with 3:27 to go. Phoenix led nearly all the game but never by more than eight in the second half.

    Richardson's 3-pointer from the corner cut to 88-87 with 3:07 to go then, after a flurry of missed shots, Parker was called for a technical and Nash's free throw tied it at 88-88 with 1:01 remaining.

    The Suns hit their first five shots to go up 11-0 on O'Neal's dunk and led 23-10 after Richardson made one of two free throws. But the Spurs scored the next eight, then started the second quarter with a 9-2 run to cut the lead to 29-27 on Duncan's baseline hook with 8:02 left in the half.

    O'Neal scored the first six points, capped by a nifty spin move in the lane, in a 10-2 Phoenix run that boosted the lead to 41-31 on Hill's layup on a pass from Matt Barnes 3:35 before the break. The Suns led 45-39 at the half.

    San Antonio took its first lead with a 9-2 run, Duncan's 21-footer putting the Spurs up 54-52 with 6 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter. Phoenix scored the next seven.

    Popovich employed the "hack-a-Shaq'' strategy in the last minute of the third quarter, but O'Neal made 5-of-6 at the line to put the Suns ahead 76-71 entering the fourth.

    Notes: Chamberlain missed 5,805 free throws. ... O'Neal played on Christmas Day for the 11th time. ... The Suns had won five straight at home. ... The Spurs bench outscored the Suns' 15-2.

    Copyright 2008 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited

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    NBA.com Bryant, Gasol lead Lakers past Celtics 92-83
    Bryant, Gasol lead Lakers past Celtics 92-83

    By JOHN NADEL, AP Sports Writer
    Posted Dec 25 2008 8:10PM

    LOS ANGELES(AP) The six-month wait is over. The Los Angeles Lakers can put the anguish of losing the NBA finals to the Boston Celtics and the embarrassment over the way the series ended behind them.

    Kobe Bryant had 27 points, nine rebounds and five assists, Pau Gasol scored seven of his 20 points in the final three minutes, and the Lakers used a strong finish to beat Boston 92-83 Thursday, snapping the Celtics' franchise-record 19-game winning streak.

    The game was the first between the teams since the Celtics romped to a 131-92 victory in Game 6 of the finals last June to win their first championship in 22 years and league-high 17th title. The Lakers blew a 24-point second-quarter lead in Game 4 at Staples Center to fall behind 3-1 - a deficit that's never been overcome in the finals.

    The teams have been archrivals since the 1960s, having met 11 times in the finals, with the Celtics going 9-2.

    "We've been waiting for that opportunity for a long time, and we won,'' said Lakers guard Sasha Vujacic, who scored 10 points. "I don't like them at all. A lot of people called us softies or whatever. It doesn't matter at all. We know what we can do.

    "Last year, they won the championship. This year, it's our year, we want to take it all the way.''

    The victory was the 1,000th for Los Angeles' Phil Jackson, enabling him to become the sixth NBA coach to reach that milestone. The 63-year-old Jackson has a career record of 1,000-423 in 17-plus seasons as coach of the Chicago Bulls and Lakers. He became the fastest to win 1,000 games, surpassing Pat Riley, who did it in 1,434 games.

    "It's amazing. I mean, he's one of the greatest coaches of all time,'' Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "I can guarantee you that I won't win 1,000 games because I won't be around that long. It's just an amazing number. When you throw up 1,000 wins, that says a lot.''

    The Celtics entered with a 27-2 record - the fastest start by a two-loss team. They were in pretty good shape when Kevin Garnett dunked off a feed from Rajon Rondo to put them ahead 81-79 with 3:57 remaining. But the Lakers went on a 13-2 run to finish the game.

    "Give them all the credit,'' said Boston's Paul Pierce, who had 20 points and 10 rebounds but was scoreless in the fourth quarter. "We just have to play better down the stretch.''

    Gasol missed his first four shots, and showed frustration at times. But he made all three of his shots and all three of his free throws in the fourth quarter for nine of his team's 21 points.

    "We were pretty physical,'' said Gasol, who had three rebounds, five assists and three blocked shots. "We were able to contain them, keep our poise and finish the game off. I had to make sure I took it to them, not settle for easy jumpers. I'm glad I was able to get over that hump of a slow start.

    "It shows we can beat anybody. Hopefully, we'll build on it.''

    Jackson said the Lakers played excellent defense in the fourth quarter, when they held the Celtics to 16 points. Boston shot 8-of-19 and was 0-for-7 on 3-pointers in the final period.

    "I'm really happy with Pau,'' Jackson said. "He stepped up in that fourth quarter and we really needed him.''

    Lamar Odom had 10 points and seven rebounds for the Lakers (24-5), who won their 12th straight game at home, where they're 15-1. Andrew Bynum, who missed most of last season and the playoffs with an injured knee, had nine points and seven rebounds.

    Garnett shot 11-of-14 in leading the Celtics (27-3) with 22 points and nine rebounds. Ray Allen scored 14, but went 2-of-11 after making his first three shots. Rondo was held to six points, shooting 3-of-11, but had 12 assists.

    "They played great, give them credit,'' Rivers said. "For a team that has been phenomenal down a stretch of games, I didn't think we were very good tonight. We've been as composed as any team that I've seen in a long time, and I thought quite honestly that we lost it a little bit at the end.''

    A 15-foot jumper by Gasol with 2:48 left snapped an 81-all tie and put the Lakers ahead for good. Allen's 3-pointer failed, and Gasol scored from close range off an assist from Bryant with two minutes left, putting Los Angeles up by four and sending the crowd of 18,997 into a frenzy.

    Garnett answered with a jumper to draw the Celtics within two, but Gasol's three-point play with 1:28 left put the Lakers on top 88-83. Gasol then blocked a 3-pointer by Allen, setting up Trevor Ariza for a dunk that gave Los Angeles a seven-point lead with 1:12 to go. Bryant's basket completed the scoring.

    "It was my first Christmas game, and I'm obviously blessed to be here,'' Garnett said. "There's a reason why teams are playing on this special day, so it had a playoff energy and a playoff atmosphere to it, absolutely. It's tough when you lose against anybody. We probably took a step back, but hats off to a good Laker team. Pau made big shots when he had to and Kobe put stress on the defense.''

    Boston's Eddie House made his only basket with 8:09 remaining to tie it at 75. Neither team led by more than two points after that until the Lakers took command.

    Pierce scored five points and Allen added three during an 8-0 run that put Boston ahead 64-62. Then, with Bryant on the bench, Odom made two 3-pointers, and the Lakers outscored the Celtics 9-3 to finish the third period and take a 71-67 lead.

    Vujacic scored eight points and Bryant added six during a 16-5 run to begin the second quarter, giving the Lakers a 39-29 lead - largest in the game for either team - and they were on top 51-45 at halftime.

    Neither team led by more than three in the first quarter, which ended with the Celtics on top 24-23. Boston shot 61.1 percent to 47.6 percent for the Lakers, but committed six of its 18 turnovers.

    Notes: Boston's Glen Davis returned to action after missing two games because of a concussion sustained in a traffic accident last Sunday, and had four points and four rebounds in 13 minutes. ... The Lakers played without backup point guard Jordan Farmar, who underwent knee surgery Wednesday and will be sidelined approximately eight weeks. ... The game marked the first time in NBA history that two teams met with so few losses (seven) this late in the season. ... The game was the 10th straight for the Lakers on Christmas. They have an overall record of 20-15 on Christmas including 11-6 at home. ... It was the Celtics' first game on Christmas since 2002. They have a 10-15 record, going 9-15 on the road and 1-0 at a neutral site. They have never played at home on Christmas. ... The game was the first on Christmas between the teams since 1970, when the Lakers won a 123-113 home decision.

    Copyright 2008 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited

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    NBA.com: Pistons' Stuckey, Wolves' Jefferson named Players of Week
    Pistons' Stuckey, Wolves' Jefferson named Players of Week

    By Official Release
    Posted Jan 5 2009 4:58PM

    NEW YORK -- The Detroit Pistons' Rodney Stuckey and the Minnesota Timberwolves' Al Jefferson today were named the Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Week, respectively, for games played Monday, Dec. 29, through Sunday, Jan. 4.

    Stuckey guided the Pistons to a 4-0 week, leading the team in scoring in three of their four games. The second-year guard posted averages of 23.0 points, 5.3 assists and 4.5 rebounds, while helping the Pistons to a season-high seven game win streak. On Jan. 2 against Sacramento, Stuckey tied his career high in field goals made (15); he played a career-high 43 minutes in each of his last two games. The Pistons are 13-3 with Stuckey as a starter.

    Jefferson led the Timberwolves to a 3-1 week, averaging 27.3 points and 12.3 rebounds on .524 shooting. On Dec. 29 against Memphis, Jefferson tallied a season-high 38 points and added 16 rebounds in Minnesota's 108-98 overtime win. Jefferson ranks eighth in the league in double-doubles with 18 and is one of only three players to average 20-plus points and 10-plus rebounds (Dwight Howard, Tim Duncan) with 22.8 ppg and 10.4 rpg.

    Here is a recap of the week for Stuckey and Jefferson:

    Rodney Stuckey, Detroit Pistons

    • Dec. 29 vs. Orlando: Tallied 19 points, five rebounds and four assists in an 88-82 win over the Magic.
    • Dec. 31 vs. New Jersey: Scored 11 points to go along with five rebounds and four assists in an 83-75 win over the Nets.
    • Jan. 2 vs. Sacramento: Recorded 38 points, seven assists, four rebounds and two steals in a 98-92 win over the Kings.
    • Jan. 4 @ LA Clippers: Finished with 24 points, six assists, four rebounds and two steals in an 88-87 win over the Clippers.

    Al Jefferson, Minnesota Timberwolves

    • Dec. 29 vs. Memphis: Tallied 38 points and 16 rebounds in a 108-98 overtime win over the Grizzlies.
    • Dec. 30 @ Dallas: Finished with 21 points and nine rebounds in a 107-100 loss to the Mavericks.
    • Jan. 2 vs. Golden State: Scored 32 points, to go with 10 rebounds in a 115-108 win over the Warriors.
    • Jan. 3 @ Chicago: Recorded 18 points to go along with 14 rebounds in a 102-92 win over the Bulls.

    Other nominees for the Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Week were Atlanta's Josh Smith, Boston's Paul Pierce, Charlotte's Boris Diaw, Cleveland's LeBron James, Dallas' Josh Howard, Denver's Nenê, Indiana's Jarrett Jack, the Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant, Miami's Dwyane Wade, New York's Wilson Chandler, Phoenix's Shaquille O'Neal, San Antonio's Tony Parker and Washington's Antawn Jamison.

    Copyright © 2008 NBA Media Ventures, LLC. All rights reserved. No portion of NBA.com may be duplicated, redistributed or manipulated in any form. By accessing any information beyond this page, you agree to abide by the NBA.com Privacy Policy / Your California Privacy Rights and Terms of Use.

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    NBA.com: Howard, Bryant maintain All-Star vote leads; LeBron rises
    Howard, Bryant maintain All-Star vote leads; LeBron rises

    By Official Release
    Posted Jan 1 2009 1:22PM


    Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images

    NEW YORK -- Orlando's Dwight Howard, the defending Sprite Slam Dunk champion, remains as the overall leader with 1,709,088 votes following the third returns of 2009 NBA All-Star Balloting presented by T-Mobile. Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers and Yao Ming of the Houston Rockets still occupy the top spots in the Western Conference.

    Phoenix will host the NBA All-Star Game for the third time when the midseason classic is played for the 58th time on Sunday, Feb. 15. The game will air live (8pm ET) on TNT, ESPN Radio and in more than 200 countries and territories worldwide. The NBA All-Star Game was played in Phoenix in both 1975 and 1995.

    Cleveland's LeBron James, the 2008 NBA All-Star Game MVP, paces all Eastern Conference forwards with 1,521,272 votes, followed by Boston's Kevin Garnett (1,101,541), the leading vote-recipient in 2008. Miami's Dwyane Wade, the NBA's leading scorer, leads all Eastern Conference guards with 1,473,225 votes, followed by Detroit's Allen Iverson (1,027,153). Philadelphia's Samuel Dalembert (239,089) is running second to Howard at the center position.

    Bryant leads all Western Conference players with 1,534,020 votes, followed by Yao (1,396,126). The Houston Rockets' Tracy McGrady follows Bryant at the guard position with 961,852 votes. San Antonio's Tim Duncan (1,132,095) and Phoenix's Amar'e Stoudemire (743,639) pace all Western Conference forwards, with Shaquille O'Neal (727,975) of the Phoenix Suns trailing Yao at the center position.

    The 2009 NBA All-Star Balloting program, which also includes partner 2K Sports, allows fans around the world to vote daily for their favorite players as starters for the All-Star Game in a variety of ways, including: at each NBA arena; in 20 languages on NBA.com; and through mobile phones at t-zones® on T-Mobile phones or wap.nba.com for any wireless carrier. A T-Mobile-branded All-Star Balloting widget is available on NBA.com so that fans can "grab" the widget and place it on their blogs, social network pages, or personal websites allowing others to vote directly from the widget. Voting will continue through Jan. 11, for paper balloting and Jan. 19, for NBA.com and wireless balloting.

    NBA All-Star 2009 is a week-long celebration that enables fans to experience the thrill of the world's greatest athletes playing the game they love and features a full slate of community-enhancing activities including the NBA Cares All-Star Day of Service and fan festivals such as NBA All-Star Jam Session.

    One hundred twenty players -- 60 each from the Eastern and Western conferences -- are listed on the NBA All-Star ballot. Voters select two guards, two forwards and one center from each conference. The 120 players on the ballot were selected by a panel of media experts who regularly cover the NBA. This year's panel included Paul Coro (Arizona Republic), Ernie Johnson (TNT), Jack McCallum (Sports Illustrated), David Moore (Dallas Morning News), Marc Spears (Boston Globe) and Marc Stein (ESPN.com).

    The final balloting update will be issued on Thursday, Jan. 8 and the announcement of the All-Star starters will take place on Thursday Jan. 22, prior to a TNT doubleheader. Following the completion of fan voting and the starting line-up announcement, the head coaches in each conference will vote to determine the remaining All-Stars in their respective conference, which will be announced Thursday, Jan. 29 prior to a TNT doubleheader.

    As the presenting partner of the 2009 NBA All-Star Balloting program, and in support of the NBA's season-long effort to better the various communities in Phoenix, T-Mobile will donate $1 for every ballot cast on t-zones, T-Mobile's wireless Web portal, to help the youth of Phoenix. The week leading up to the 58th NBA All-Star Game will feature a full slate of community-enhancing activities and fan festivals, such as NBA All-Star Jam Session presented by adidas and the T-Mobile Rookie Challenge & Youth Jam on Friday, Feb. 13.

    In conjunction with All-Star Balloting, 2K Sports will give fans the opportunity to experience Phoenix and the best of basketball by entering the NBA 2K9 Sweepstakes for a chance to win a trip to NBA All-Star 2009 and to have their likeness as a digitized player incorporated in next year's game, NBA 2K10.

    Copyright © 2008 NBA Media Ventures, LLC. All rights reserved. No portion of NBA.com may be duplicated, redistributed or manipulated in any form. By accessing any information beyond this page, you agree to abide by the NBA.com Privacy Policy / Your California Privacy Rights and Terms of Use.

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    NBA.com: James narrows Howard's lead in All-Star voting returns
    James narrows Howard's lead in All-Star voting returns

    By Official Release
    Posted Jan 8 2009 2:36PM


    Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

    NEW YORK -- Orlando's Dwight Howard, the defending Sprite Slam Dunk champion, is still Superman at the ballot box with 2,102,368 votes following the fourth returns of 2009 NBA All-Star Balloting presented by T-Mobile. Cleveland's LeBron James (1,940,162) is tugging at his cape in the Eastern Conference, while Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers and Yao Ming of the Houston Rockets are dueling it out for the top spot in the West.

    Phoenix will host the NBA All-Star Game for the third time when the midseason classic is played for the 58th time on Sunday, Feb. 15. The game will air live (8pm ET) on TNT, ESPN Radio and in more than 200 countries and territories worldwide. The NBA All-Star Game was played in Phoenix in both 1975 and 1995.

    James, the NBA All-Star Game MVP in 2006 and 2008, is followed at the forward position in the East by Boston's Kevin Garnett (1,375,814), the leading vote-recipient in 2008. Miami's Dwyane Wade, the NBA's leading scorer, leads all Eastern Conference guards with 1,818,717 votes, followed by Detroit's Allen Iverson (1,278,600). Philadelphia's Samuel Dalembert (257,527) is running second to Howard at the center position.

    Bryant tops the Western Conference with 1,903,798 votes, followed by Yao (1,758,499). The Houston Rockets' Tracy McGrady follows Bryant at the guard position with 1,216,224 votes. San Antonio's Tim Duncan (1,454,918) and Denver's Carmelo Anthony (905,121) pace all Western Conference forwards, with Shaquille O'Neal (1,006,383) of the Phoenix Suns trailing Yao at the center position.

    The 2009 NBA All-Star Balloting program, which also includes partner 2K Sports, allows fans around the world to vote daily for their favorite players as starters for the All-Star Game in a variety of ways, including: at each NBA arena; in 20 languages on NBA.com; and through mobile phones at t-zones® on T-Mobile phones or wap.nba.com for any wireless carrier. A T-Mobile-branded All-Star Balloting widget is available on NBA.com so that fans can "grab" the widget and place it on their blogs, social network pages, or personal websites allowing others to vote directly from the widget. Voting will continue through Jan. 11, for paper balloting and Jan. 19, for NBA.com and wireless balloting.

    NBA All-Star 2009 is a week-long celebration that enables fans to experience the thrill of the world's greatest athletes playing the game they love and features a full slate of community-enhancing activities including the NBA Cares All-Star Day of Service and fan festivals such as NBA All-Star Jam Session.

    One hundred twenty players -- 60 each from the Eastern and Western conferences -- are listed on the NBA All-Star ballot. Voters select two guards, two forwards and one center from each conference. The 120 players on the ballot were selected by a panel of media experts who regularly cover the NBA. This year's panel included Paul Coro (Arizona Republic), Ernie Johnson (TNT), Jack McCallum (Sports Illustrated), David Moore (Dallas Morning News), Marc Spears (Boston Globe) and Marc Stein (ESPN.com).

    This is the final balloting update. The announcement of the All-Star starters will take place on Thursday Jan. 22, prior to a TNT doubleheader. Following the completion of fan voting and the starting lineup announcement, the head coaches in each conference will vote to determine the remaining All-Stars in their respective conference, which will be announced Thursday, Jan. 29 prior to a TNT doubleheader.

    As the presenting partner of the 2009 NBA All-Star Balloting program, and in support of the NBA's season-long effort to better the various communities in Phoenix, T-Mobile will donate $1 for every ballot cast on t-zones, T-Mobile's wireless Web portal, to help the youth of Phoenix. The week leading up to the 58th NBA All-Star Game will feature a full slate of community-enhancing activities and fan festivals, such as NBA All-Star Jam Session presented by adidas and the T-Mobile Rookie Challenge & Youth Jam on Friday, Feb. 13.

    Copyright © 2008 NBA Media Ventures, LLC. All rights reserved. No portion of NBA.com may be duplicated, redistributed or manipulated in any form. By accessing any information beyond this page, you agree to abide by the NBA.com Privacy Policy / Your California Privacy Rights and Terms of Use.

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