Sports Morning Headlines-Thursday, 12/30/10

News from around the Texas Sports Scene for Thursday, December 30, 2010.

Rockets fall short of pace set by Wade, Heat - Dwyane Wade flew toward the rim, blasting past the Rockets as if buzzing the control tower. With the Rockets as powerless to stop him as they had been from the start, Aaron Brooks took a swing in the general direction of his layup.  Brooks nailed Wade across the face, earning a flagrant foul. He had not, however, slowed the Miami guard.  He could have used a two-by-four, grabbed a folding chair or tried a jack-hammer. As well as the Rockets had scored against the league’s best defense, piling up far more than any team has this season against the Heat, they could not slow Wade or the Heat offense enough for to keep Miami from holding on for a 125-119 win Wednesday before 18,409 at Toyota Center that snapped the Rockets’ five-game winning streak and eight-game home winning streak.    READ MORE

Rockets: Almost isn't going to cut it - Games like these give Rockets fans hope. They probably shouldn’t.  A game like this one, a 125-119 loss to the Miami Heat, might be exciting and entertaining, but a game like this, in which you allow an opponent — an opponent playing the second half of a back-to-back situation — to shoot 58.1 percent from the floor and score 66 points in the second half on your home court, tells you something about your team.  The Rockets, who slipped to 15-16 on the season, can barely make a case for being a playoff contender. Not as long as the defense rests.    READ MORE

NBA Trade Rumors: Yao Ming and the Houston Rockets Must Part Ways - Houston Rockets center Yao Ming is the biggest injury risk in the NBA, but his current contract is built so he can be useful off the court as well.  Ming is in the final year of his contract, and of his $17.7 million salary for the 2010-11 season, there is $8 million in insurance savings.  This makes the risk a little less frightening for opposing teams thinking about acquiring the Rockets big man.   READ MORE

Spurs-Mavericks, Kobe upset and more - Want to win a pair of free tickets to a San Antonio Spurs home game next month? Of course you do! All you have to do it follow @projectspurstiq on Twitter to enter. Easy huh?  The Spurs and the Dallas Mavericks will face off tomorrow night for the second time this season. However the Mavericks might be coming into the contest without their main gun, Dirk Nowitzki:  But in addition to Dallas undertaking this assignment while looking up at San Antonio in the standings, they'll likely do so with Dirk Nowitzki sitting outside the ropes.  "Ohh... Thursday might be pushing it," he said on Mavs Facebook late Tuesday night, reflecting on his sprained knee. "I don't know about Thursday. We'll see. I've been a quick healer all my life... but we'll see."   READ MORE

Spurs’ reward for thrashing Lakers? A date with Dallas - The Spurs’ locker room had almost emptied after Tuesday’s resounding 97-82 victory over the Lakers, but DeJuan Blair wasn’t quite ready to go home.  He stood in front of his locker, grinning a grin as broad as his ample backside.  “That’s the most fun I’ve had all season,” the Spurs center gushed.  Blair had reason to be giddy. His team had just knocked off the two-time defending NBA champions, to some degree validating the Spurs’ league-leading 27-4 record, and with a season-best 17 points and 15 rebounds, Blair had played a vital role.   READ MORE

Eva-Tony split ranks as Spurs No. 5 story of 2010 - It’s  hard to underestimate the news value of Tony Parker’s divorce earlier this season from his estranged wife, Eva Longoria.  While it has had little to do with the Spurs’ record-breaking 27-4 start, Parker’s divorce was a bombshell. It landed Parker among the top 10 sports-related Twitter topics of the year. His face was splashed across the cover of supermarket tabloids across the country. Inside Edition had a segment about it. People Magazine even sent out a correspondent to cover the Spurs practice on the day the story broke.   READ MORE

Mavs meeting Spurs at wrong time? - If there was any doubt about who the best team in the NBA is right now, it was erased Tuesday night.  There's no way to rank anybody above the San Antonio Spurs so far this season. Not after they dismantled the two-time defending league champion Los Angeles Lakers in San Antonio. And not after the Dallas Mavericks were embarrassed at home by Toronto.  The Spurs visit American Airlines Center tonight, and there is no word on whether Dirk Nowitzki will play as he recovers from a sprained right knee. Without him, the Mavs were easy prey for the Raptors, although in Dallas' defense, that was a tough game to take seriously.   "These are the most dangerous teams," Shawn Marion said of Toronto. "They're the hardest teams to get up for."   READ MORE

With or without Dirk, Mavericks face tough challenge against Spurs - If there was any doubt about who the best team in the NBA is right now, it was erased Tuesday night.  There's no way to rank anybody above the San Antonio Spurs so far this season. Not after they dismantled the two-time defending champion Lakers on Tuesday in San Antonio. And not after the Mavericks were embarrassed by Toronto.  The Spurs visit American Airlines Center tonight, and there is no word on whether Dirk Nowitzki will play as he recovers from a sprained right knee. Without him, the Mavericks were easy prey for the Raptors, although in their defense, that was a tough game to take seriously.    READ MORE

I'm not convinced the Mavs can sustain the level of play demonstrated so far - SportsDayDFW.com columnist Kevin Sherrington chatted with fans on Wednesday and answered questions about the Dallas Mavericks. Here are some highlights:  I think Rick Carlisle is one of the top coaches in the league. How do they pick the coach of the All-Star game and what is the date that they use for the best record?  My knowledge of the NBA All-Star workings is not up to speed. But I agree with you on Carlisle, at least from an Xs and Os standpoint. He's very sharp. What matters most, though, is how you get players to respond. He's been very successful at that this year, although I think it has more to do with personnel than anything else. When you have defensive-oriented players such as Chandler and Stevenson in the starting line-up, it sets a tone.  READ MORE






 

Pro Bowl Voting: Cowboys do Well. - Even though the Cowboys have had a dissapointing season and are headed for an early vacation instead of the playoffs. Five players for the Cowboys will be playing  in January in the Pro Bowl. Jason Witten, Matt McBriar, Ware, Ratliff and Gurode all are going to be participating in this years Pro Bowl.  Now I am as excited as the next fan to see my favorite teams players in the Pro Bowl but I find it a bit hard to believe that a team with 5 wins can have 5 players in the Pro Bowl let alone 5 starters. I believe there may have been more deserving people from actual winning teams that should have been awarded with the honor instead.   READ MORE

Why a strong 2010 finish for Cowboys could pay off next season - Jason Garrett dismissed the suggestion of the Cowboys building momentum at the finish of this season that could carry over into next year.  "We talk a lot about living in the present and having great individual days," said Garrett, turning on his familiar mantra. "I suppose during the course of a couple of games, you can say there are some positive things happening and you can build on that momentum. But really, our focus is to stay in the moment and be great that particular day."  Garrett could change his outlook in a few weeks. There is more to the concept of momentum than he is willing to allow.    READ MORE

Don't blame Jerry Jones for David Buehler's struggles this season - Each week, Jean-Jacques Taylor answers your questions in our Cowboys newsletter.  It's easy to sign up and free to receive. Just click over to our newsletter page.  Some highlights of his most recent newsletter:  Stephen Whitis writes, " You wrote that David Buehler makes you want to grab a bottle of the pink stuff and guzzle it every single time he lines up for a kick, but this is a problem caused by Jerry Jones. Put the blame where it's due."  TAYLOR: Can you really blame Jerry for a kicker with one of the most powerful legs in the NFL missing an 18-yard extra point? I don't think so. It's Buehler's fault. The dude hit a 53-yarder in the third quarter. He should be able to make an extra point blindfolded. He's missed five kicks - two extra points - from fewer than 40 yards, while he's missed only four kicks longer than 40 yards. It's about focus and concentration. He has to do a better job, and giving him some legitimate competition in training camp is the best way to do it.   READ MORE

Slumping Cowboys WR Roy Williams hits rock bottom - Simple math says Roy Williams should be catching more passes. But as the number of Cowboys receivers dwindle, Williams' numbers are dropping, too.  He can go no lower than the last two games. After missing the Washington game with a strained groin, he had no catches against Arizona.  Williams knows those numbers don't add up to the $20.4 million owed him the next three seasons. And because of that, he knows Sunday's game against Philadelphia could be his last with Dallas.    READ MORE

Eagles QB Michael Vick likely to sit out season finale vs. Cowboys - A day after the NFC East champion Philadelphia Eagles squandered their chance for a playoff bye, it appeared quarterback Michael Vick might have taken his last regular-season snap.  His severe leg bruise might be enough keep him out of Sunday's regular-season finale against the Cowboys. Vick was clearly limping after he was injured on the first play of Tuesday night's 24-14 loss to Minnesota.  Eagles coach Andy Reid said he hasn't decided if the injury will keep Vick out. But the Eagles don't need their star Sunday. They are locked into the NFC's No. 3 seed and will host the No. 6 seed on Jan. 8 or 9. Their game against the Cowboys is meaningless in the standings, so it's likely Vick, who was sacked six times by the Vikings and has taken 34 sacks this season, and other starters will rest.  Reid described Vick as feeling tight and sore Wednesday. The Eagles did not say which leg is hurt.    READ MORE

Texans send offensive trio to Pro Bowl - "Texans fullback Vonta Leach is going to the beach, and he's going to be escorted by receiver Andre Johnson and running back Arian Foster. Leach and Johnson were voted as starters in the Pro Bowl on Tuesday. Foster made the team as a reserve behind Jacksonville's Maurice Jones Drew. It is the first Pro Bowl for Leach and Foster, both of whom were signed as free agents — Leach as an unrestricted veteran and Foster as an undrafted rookie. It is Johnson's fifth Pro Bowl. He probably won't be able to play because of the ankle injury that's plagued him since the second game of the season and will cause him to miss the last two games of the season.    READ MORE

McNair still mum about coaching changes - "Owner Bob McNair has given no indication of what he's going to do next week about coach Gary Kubiak. McNair could bring back Kubiak for his sixth season, or he could fire him. The only thing McNair has said over the last three weeks is that he will wait until after the season to announce his decision. With local and national reports saying that Kubiak is gone, remember what McNair said two defeats ago — that he thinks the Texans are on the right track and close to being an outstanding team. Have losses to Tennessee and Denver changed his mind? Perhaps not. If McNair believes he can win with Kubiak, he should keep him. If he's right, fans will turn out.   READ MORE

Receiving Lines: '2011 is going to be my year' - "With another year coming to an end — and they always go by in what seems like a blink of the eye— the days, weeks, and months roll buy. And now another year has gone and we are getting ready to start over again. The monotony in the NFL keeps you focused only on the opponent ahead of you so time can seem to freeze during the season only to thaw out 20 weeks later. With another year under my belt of not only football, but life, I will make new goals for myself and raise my own expectations.   READ MORE






SMU's Jones, Army coach share a bond but not offensive schemes - Army coach Rich Ellerson dug up a team photo from his playing days at Hawaii in the mid-1970s in the weeks leading up to today's Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl at SMU's Ford Stadium.  Also pictured: his former teammate, SMU coach June Jones, whose Mustangs face the Black Knights. It's Army's first bowl since 1996, and only SMU's second since 1984.    READ MORE

Baylor's bowl memories will be accompanied by a wince rather than a smile. - The 16-year postseason drought lingered one half too long for the Bears to have many fond recollections. By the time Baylor began playing like a bowl team, the Texas Bowl was decided.  The reality of a 38-14 loss Wednesday to Illinois was nothing like the gleeful anticipation following a breakthrough season. Even coach Art Briles had trouble appreciating the overall accomplishment after what he witnessed.    READ MORE

UNT favored as Sun Belt schedule opens - North Texas couldn’t have dreamed up a much better scenario when it came to the way its nonconference campaign unfolded. UNT knocked off LSU and Texas Tech, played well in the clutch and finished 11-2, matching the school record set in the 1952-53 season. Now comes Phase 2 -- the beginning of Sun Belt Conference play. UNT will open its league slate tonight with a home game against Arkansas-Little Rock.   READ MORE

Though committed to SMU, June Jones' name will come up in other coaching searches - SMU football coach June Jones has recommitted to the program, but that doesn't mean his name won't continue to come up in future coaching searches.   READ MORE

No big hitting by Frogs - until the Rose Bowl - Rains threatened to put a damper on TCU's second-to-last practice of the season Wednesday, but the sun returned to the field shortly after the Horned Frogs hit the artificial turf fields at the Home Depot Center complex.   READ MORE

TCU receiver won't catch foe off guard - Without hesitation, the first name that popped out of their mouths was Jeremy Kerley.   READ MORE

TCU's Gary Patterson: 'This has been a great program and I don't think we're done yet' - "We feel like we're also representing the state of Texas this year," said Gary Patterson on Monday.   READ MORE

TCU team gets pep talk from former Notre Dame walk-on Rudy Ruettiger - As successful as TCU has been the last 10 years, there's no getting around that the Horned Frogs are considered by many as the Rose Bowl's "little guy" compared with Big Ten's Wisconsin.   READ MORE

Red Raiders will face odd couple in Northwestern freshmen QBs Watkins and Colter - They are Northwestern's odd couple, sort of like freshmen thrown together in the dormitory, last-minute roommates paired out of desperation as much as necessity.   READ MORE

TicketCity Bowl notebook: Tech assistant not auditioning for vacant def. coordinator job - Texas Tech's defensive play-caller for the TicketCity Bowl will be Sam McElroy, who said Wednesday he doesn't consider the game against Northwestern an audition for the vacant defensive coordinator position.   READ MORE

Texas Tech running back: 'I have no bad blood against (Mike Leach)' - Texas Tech running back Baron Batch said he is not actively following reports about the job search of former coach Mike Leach but wishes him "the best" in his quest.    READ MORE





Red Wings pour it on late in third period to crush Stars, 7-3 - Patrick Eaves and the Detroit Red Wings had a lot of fun - at the Dallas Stars' expense.  Eaves had three goals for his first career hat trick, giving him six goals in his last seven games, and the Red Wings scored six straight goals in a 7-3 victory over Dallas on Wednesday night.    READ MORE

Stars hope Trevor Daley signing is merely a first step - Trevor Daley is the proverbial bird in the hand.  He's not the puck-lugging, power play-shooting, No. 1 defenseman that the Stars seem to badly need, but he's a good player who could help this team for a long time. So the Stars signed him to a six-year contract extension on Wednesday for $19.8 million.  That boils down to an average of $3.3 million a season, and it's probably fair for a player of Daley's caliber who at age 27 is entering what could be the best years of his career. He has a very good chance to be a Darryl Sydor or Richard Matvichuk-like presence on the blueline.    READ MORE
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