Sports Morning Headlines - Wednesday, 2/8/12

News from around the Texas Sports Scene for Wednesday, 02/8/12.

Spurs patching up defense on the fly - A 14-point lead had vanished. The Memphis Grizzlies had awoken to take a six-point advantage heading into the fourth quarter. The Spurs were on the verge of a disheartening opening to their 10th annual rodeo road trip.  On the edge of unraveling Monday night in Memphis, Tenn., the Spurs called on an old friend.  Their defense saved them, holding the Grizzlies to just 11 points in the final frame as the Spurs rallied for an 89-84 victory they hope sets a tone for the rest of the nine-game trek.  “That’s what we’re going to have to bank on,” forward Tim Duncan said. “We’re not going to score a bunch of points every night.”  As their epic road jaunt continues tonight in Philadelphia, the Spurs know their defense is still light years from the unit that once strangled opponents en route to four NBA titles.  In truth, it might never get there.   READ MORE

Manu’s absence opens doors for other Spurs - The Spurs’ medical staff has cleared guard Manu Ginobili for all the basketball activity he wants.  Don’t doubt that the most competitive player on the planet would like to suit up for tonight’s game against the 76ers in Philadelphia.  Know that his coach isn’t going to push him back into action until he is certain Ginobili is physically sound. When he does, he’ll bring him back slowly — off the bench — for a few games to regain the rhythm of in-game competition.  Winning 14 games in the 21 the Spurs have played without the two-time All-Star makes this easier. It is not outrageous to suggest that Ginobili’s misfortune may prove to have been beneficial by the time the regular season concludes.   READ MORE

Rockets’ Lowry, Martin harbor All-Star hopes - For a moment, Kyle Lowry did not want to consider the possibility, but the temptation won.  He had not begun a season as a starter until this one, had never before been given such attention and appreciation for his style and stat-stuffing production. He could consider himself worthy of All-Star honors but not expectant of them.  “At the end of the day, it’s not up to me,” Lowry said of landing a place among the All-Star reserves when the selections are announced Thursday. “It’s up to the coaches.”  As he considered the possibility, however, the idea seemed to grow on him.   READ MORE

Adrien goes from “player of the game” to waived. - On the move, the timing and the player the Rockets get instead. The business of sports can be cruel, but rarely coincidental. Pop psychologists and sports conspiracy theorists would argue that there are no coincidences, but this time, they would be wrong.  Jeff Adrien has spent the season practicing hard and waiting. When he played, it was almost entirely to mop up routs. He finally got a real chance on Monday. With Samuel Dalembert and Jordan Hill lethargic, Kevin McHale called on Adrien in the first half and Adrien delivered. He had nine rebounds in his 17 minutes, bringing the energy that the Rockets lacked. Kyle Lowry called him the player of the game.  A day later, he was waived to make room for Greg Smith, a young center the Rockets released during training camp.   READ MORE

Dallas Mavericks are serious about a repeat run - Dirk is fine; he's just getting tuned up.  Jason Kidd? Just a calf thing. Still day-to-day.  Jason Terry? Great. Wants to be in the All-Star 3-point contest.  Shawn Marion? Doing fine.  Same for Lamar Odom, Vince Carter, Brian Cardinal and the rest of the NBA's Senior Citizen Brigade.  Nope, nothing to see here. So what if the Mavs are barely in the top eight teams of the Western Conference? As Jason Garrett says, it's a Process.  Outside of the Mavs organization, there appear to be few souls who believe a roster composed of so many guys who eat dinner at 4 p.m. can repeat as NBA champions. I certainly don't.  Neither does Charles Barkley, who said last week on ESPN Radio here in town: "Mavericks aren't going to win the championship, bro; it's over.... They are too old and too slow."   READ MORE

Dallas Mavericks hit road for two tough games - The Dallas Mavericks left town late Tuesday afternoon packing more than just their high-priced luggage.  For the Mavericks, the extra baggage they flew to Denver on their private jet was a three-game losing streak. And the Mavericks know that with the way they've been playing lately, it won't be easy breaking it.  The Mavericks (14-11) play at Denver (15-10) at 8 tonight at the Pepsi Center, and at Minnesota on Friday. The Nuggets pounded the Mavericks 115-93 in the second game of the season in Dallas.  Meanwhile, the Timberwolves got the Mavericks' year off to a rocky start by drilling Dallas in Minnesota 99-82 on New Year's Day.  And to prove that game wasn't a fluke, the T-Wolves walked into American Airlines Center and drilled the Mavericks again, winning 105-90 on Jan. 25.   READ MORE









Astros players, coaches participate in panel discussion at Carver High School - Manager Brad Mills, outfielder Jason Bourgeois, starting pitcher Bud Norris, first-base coach Bobby Meacham, TV analyst Jim Deshaies and former Astros standouts Jimmy Wynn and Bob Watson participated in a "Careers in Baseball" panel discussion Monday afternoon at Carver High School in Houston.  The event was part of the 2012 Astros CAREavan.  High-school students listened in the auditorium as the group of Astros personnel talked about their backgrounds and the lifelong qualities it takes to get to the next level and achieve success.  The panel emphasized the importance of staying in school, getting an education and pursuing dreams -- no matter how challenging.   READ MORE

Mills steering ship amidst winds of change - Manager expects Astros' spring to thrive on competition.  Everywhere Astros manager Brad Mills looked this offseason, change was taking place.  For the first time in nearly 20 years, the Astros switched owners when a group led by Houston businessman Jim Crane was approved by Major League Baseball in November, and soon Jeff Luhnow was aboard as general manager -- replacing Ed Wade -- as the club looked to chart a new course.  The changes didn't stop there. Several new faces in the baseball operations department and a couple of defections in the coaching staff put Mills in position to have more than a few get-to-know-you meetings and phone calls while gearing up for 2012.   READ MORE

Rangers, Andrus agree on deal - The Texas Rangers reached agreement Tuesday on a three-year contract with shortstop Elvis Andrus, according to major league sources.  The deal, which will cover all three of Andrus’ arbitration years, is expected to be in the $14 million to $15 million range.  The contract does not include any club options and is contingent on Andrus passing a physical, sources said.  Andrus, represented by Scott Boras, will be eligible for free agency at age 26 after his new deal expires.  The agreement enables the Rangers to avoid arbitration with Andrus, a defensive stalwart who helped the team win back-to-back American League titles.   READ MORE

Surprise positional outlook: No. 3 starter - The guy we've slotted as the No. 3 starter will be drawing plenty of interest in spring training.  Today's position: No. 3 starter  We've given that designation to Yu Darvish, the 25-year-old Japanese star pitcher who signed for approximately $60 million over six years in January after the Rangers won the right to negotiate with Darvish thanks to a $51.7 million posting bid.   READ MORE








Karl Dorell Named the New Texans QB Coach - The Texans have a new QB coach, as the team has come to terms with Karl Dorell to take over that spot on the coaching staff.  Dorell replaces Greg Knapp, who is now the offensive coordinator with Oakland.  Dorrell was the head coach at UCLA from 2003-07 and has previous NFL coaching experience with the Broncos from 2000-02, where he was worked as a receivers coach on Mike Shanahan’s coaching staff that had Gary Kubiak as offensive coordinator.   READ MORE

Brice McCain earns play time incentive - Texans cornerback Brice McCain will earn an extra $693,000 in base pay in 2012 according to Brian McIntyre, editor of Mac's Football Blog and staff writer for Football Outsiders.  McCain earned the extra salary by achieving playing-time triggers specified in his contract.   READ MORE

Jason Witten’s Chance at Becoming Dallas Cowboys’ All-time Receiving Leader – a Fan’s Take - Jason Witten is one in a long line of great Dallas Cowboys' tight ends, following the footsteps of Mike Ditka, Billy Joe Dupree, Doug Cosbie and Jay Novacek. He is also on his way to becoming one of the best tight ends in the history of the NFL but his problem is that the man he is chasing is still playing.  Witten has 696 receptions for 7,909 yards and 41 touchdowns over his nine seasons in the NFL. Tony Gonzalez has 1,149 receptions for 13,338 yards and 95 touchdowns over his 15 year career and is coming back for a 16th season. If Witten continues at the same pace he has, he will have more receptions than Gonzalez by his 15th season but less yards and a lot less touchdowns.   READ MORE

Cowboys position series: Wide receivers - 2011 review: Robinson, who was signed in early September after being cut by the Chargers, ended up being the Cowboys’ most effective receiver. It took an injury to Austin and ineffectiveness by Ogletree for Robinson to get a significant role, but he led the Cowboys with 11 touchdown catches and was second among the team’s wideouts in catches (54) and receiving yards (858). Bryant didn’t have a 100-yard game all season, but he made significant progress, finishing his second year with 63 catches for 928 yards and nine touchdowns. Austin was a disappointment in the second year of a $54 million contract. He missed six games due to two hamstring strains, finishing the season with only 43 catches for 579 yards and seven touchdowns.   READ MORE








Stars fall flat in loss to Coyotes - In a key game against a team they are battling for a playoff spot, the Dallas Stars came out flat Tuesday night, losing 4-1 to the Phoenix Coyotes at American Airlines Center.  “We weren’t very good again,” said Stars coach Glen Gulutzan. “Even with a real good goalie performance, we got outworked by a team that played last night.”  “Awful. Atrocious.,” said Stars defenseman Sheldon Souray. “We’ve gotten by on a real good goaltender in our last three or four games, and it’s just not good enough. We can talk about it, try to figure it out, point the finger, but as a whole we’ve really been letting each other down the last three or four games, especially with how important this stretch of games is and what it means.”  Tuesday’s loss dropped the Stars into 11th place in the Western Conference, but they remained only two points out of the final playoff spot.   READ MORE

Stars fall flat in loss to Coyotes - The Phoenix Coyotes' playoff push is well under way.  Radim Vrbata scored his 25th goal, former Dallas backup Mike Smith made 28 saves and the Coyotes improved their playoff positioning with a 4-1 victory over the Stars on Tuesday night.  Vrbata gave Phoenix a 2-1 lead at 14:30 of the second period when he tapped Rostislav Klesla's centering pass by goalie Kari Lehtonen.  Keith Yandle, Raffi Torres and Derek Morris also scored for the Coyotes, who have won three straight and four of five -- including Monday night's 3-1 home victory over Western Conference-leading Detroit.   READ MORE






---Staff and Wire Reports contributed to this story

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