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Sports Morning Headlines-Monday, 02/21/11

News from around the Texas Sports Scene for Monday, February 21, 2011.

Kobe Named All-Star MVP As West Defeats East 148-143 - Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant racked up a double-double as he scored a game high 37 points and grabbed 14 rebounds and was named the NBA All-Star MVP as the Western Conference topped their rivals from the East by a final margin of 148-143. Kevin Durant would add 34 points for the Western squad while LeBron James recorded a triple-double as he knocked down 29 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists. Amar’e Stoudemire also added 29 points for the East in what would turn out to be a competitive contest down the stretch.  The West would hold the advantage at the end of the first as Manu Ginobili hit a pair at the line with 22 seconds on the clock and put his team on top 37-27. Hornets point guard Chris Paul would sink a shot eight feet from the basket at the buzzer and the West would head into the locker room as the contest reached the half holding a 76-74 lead.   READ MORE

Curry Outclasses Westbrook, Wins Skills Challenge - Usually with most activities that take place during the NBA All-Star Weekend, there is usually only one winner – the Slam Dunk contest and the NBA All-Star game.  This year, the 2011 Taco Bell Skills Challenge would have two winners; I’ll go into more detail about the second winner in just a bit.  Five dynamic point guards – Chris Paul, Stephen Curry, Derrick Rose, John Wall and Russell Westbrook – were the participants in this year’s Skills Challenge.  With speed being the prime ingredient in addition to top-notch ballhandling skills, any of the aforementioned could have have won this year’s Skills Challenge. As it would turn out, Curry would overwhelm Russell Westbrook with a sub-30 second score in winning the Skills Challenge.   READ MORE

Griffin Wins NBA Slam Dunk Contest - Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin jumping over a car in his final dunk of the evening defeated Washington Wizards big man JaVale McGee in the final round of the 2011 NBA Slam Dunk Contest Saturday night at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Griffin and McGee advanced past Toronto Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan and Oklahoma City Thunder forward Serge Ibaka in the first round.  The contest featured some creative dunks especially by McGee in the first round as he dunked two balls in side by side backboards in his first attempt. In his second dunk he would dunk three balls through one rim as teammate John Wall lobbed a third ball to him as he went the hoop holding two.   READ MORE

Jones Overtakes Pair Of Celtics, Wins 3-Point Contest - For one night, the Miami Heat can say that they defeated the Boston Celtics at something – even if it didn’t involve a game clock and 48 minutes on the hardwood.  James Jones, the Heat’s resident 3-point specialist, made five straight shots from beyond the arc in the final round and manazged to hold off the Celtics’ Paul Pierce and Ray Allen to win the 2011 Foot Locker 3-Point Contest.   READ MORE

Recapping the first half of the NBA season - With a lockout perhaps on the horizon, the NBA enjoyed an interesting first half to the 2010-'11 season.  It was a half that saw basketball return to New York, long-time Utah Jazz coach Jerry Sloan turn in his resignation, and Blake Griffin proved that he's going to be an NBA All-Star for many years to come.  The San Antonio Spurs went into the break with the league's best record at 46-10. But no one seems to know it.  All the critics and pundits seem to think either Boston or Miami will win this year's NBA title. Here are some of the highlights compiled during the first half of the season.   READ MORE

Popovich turns on competitive juices - COMPETITIVE POPOVICH: When Sunday’s 60th NBA All-Star Game tightened up in the final minutes, the competitiveness took over for players and coaches alike.  Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, coaching the victorious Western Conference team, began calling plays for his team down the stretch and used his knowledge of the conference’s teams to do it.  “He called a Hornets play for Chris Paul and a Lakers play for Kobe,” Spurs guard Manu Ginobili said. “He got into the competitiveness of things when it got close, and he was telling us to get back on (defense) and stop giving up so many easy baskets.”  Popovich said he could feel the competitive juices rising after the Eastern Conference started chipping away at a 17-point West lead in the final period.   READ MORE

Popovich sees what remains in Kobe - Gregg Popovich got a close look. And with seconds left, he got an even closer one.  He gave Kobe Bryant a high-five and a slap on the rear.  In less than two weeks, he will see Bryant again, and then Popovich will be sure of a few things. For one, he can’t give up 143 points and win again. For another, the Bryant he saw Sunday night could resurface, and again in May, and this is what Popovich will take away from All-Star weekend.  The Lakers may be broken for the moment.  But Bryant will continue to be what he has been for more than a decade, trying to fix everything by himself.   READ MORE

Dallas Mavericks and Dirk Nowitzki: Another One and Done in The Playoffs? - At the All-Star Break, the Dallas Mavericks have already positioned themselves for that usual 50 game win season.  They will win more than 50, but no one has really questioned if the Mavericks could win another 50 games. They have won over 50 games every season since 2001.  The one question everyone has is—will this team be another one and done in 2011 playoffs?   READ MORE

Are the Dallas Mavericks Contenders or Pretenders? - Heading into the final stretch of the regular season, the Western Conference is still stacked with talent. The difference is that this year's true talent lies at the top. The San Antonio Spurs, Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas Mavericks are the legitimate contenders in the West. There are troublesome teams such as the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Utah Jazz and the Denver Nuggets. The lower-level playoff teams should not be a major issues for the Mavericks due to youth, mismatched personnel or an impending talent implosion. The last handful of playoff runs have left the Mavericks merely as the one-and-done boys with their first round exits. So can the Mavericks truly make a deep run in the playoffs?   READ MORE

Reggie Miller not a HOFer?  Blasphemy - Attention:  this is off-topic in that it only moderately concerns the Rockets.  And even that isn't until the end.  How the hell is Reggie Miller not even a finalist for the HOF???   It's true.  Somehow Reggie Miller did not even make the first cut of nominees for the 2011 Basketball Hall of Fame.  Essentially, Reggie Miller is now getting the Cris Carter treatment.  There is no logical explanation for this.  At no point has anyone ever looked at Reggie Miller and said "nah, he's not really a hall of famer."  Because that would be absolutely, utterly ridiculous.   READ MORE

Who I would NOT trade - We spend most of our time talking about who is trade bait, and how our team can change or prosper.  However, there are some guys on this team who I DO NOT want to see traded whatsoever.  1.) Kyle Lowry: Not only has he steered this team pretty well for stretches, he's developed his 3-point jumper and does a better job of getting K-Mart and Scola into the offense than Brooks does.  Plus we gave him a very sold 4 year contract and Lowry plays the game nicely.  I like Kyle and I hope he's the PG to build on.  2.) Patrick Patterson: I like this kid.   READ MORE

Astros a hit? Well, that's Barnett's job - New Astros hitting coach Mike Barnett plunged into the job the moment it was offered to him last fall.  In those first days, he studied video, fired off text messages and made telephone calls. Some players he only spoke with. Others he joined for January hitting sessions at Minute Maid Park.  By the time Barnett arrived at spring training, he was well on his way to building relationships and doing what he could to improve one of baseball's worst offenses in 2010.  "He's ready to roll," Astros manager Brad Mills said.   READ MORE

Addressing a power outage - Carlos Lee is an RBI waiting to happen. But as the Astros learned last season, when his swing is off, the club suffers.  The Astros went out this offseason and got a new shortstop and a new second baseman.  They got a new pitcher to compete for the No. 5 spot in the rotation. They got a new hitting coach. They got a new video board and a new luxury seating section. And by year's end, they might have a new owner.  Compelling stories all, but if the Astros go from 76-86 to contention, it's likely the biggest reason will be none of the above. The fix is going to have to come from within. It must be the big guy.  Carlos Lee reported to spring training Sunday eager to put behind him a miserable 2010 season that saw his numbers reach career lows and his value drop below the statistical replacement level - that of a hypothetical Class AAA call-up or waiver find.  "I know I can be better than the season I had last year, and I'm capable of doing a lot to help this team," Lee, 34, said.   READ MORE

Astros notes: New spring training home being considered - Change of scenery?  Astros owner Drayton McLane said his team and the Washington Nationals have discussed the possibility of sharing a spring training complex proposed for a piece of land near Disney World.  The Astros have three years left on their lease in Kissimmee.  "The area we've discussed is still in Osceola County," McLane said, "and it's something we want to think about."   READ MORE

Rangers, fans should appreciate a real bargain in Hamilton - Pardon the trite MasterCard reference, but it's the easiest way to gawk at the salary numbers.  Tony Romo, one NFL playoff victory: $67.5 million.  Dirk Nowitzki, one-time NBA finalist: $80 million.  Adrian Beltre, 13 major league seasons, one postseason series: $80 million.  Michael Young, wants to be traded: total current deal, $80 million.  And Josh Hamilton, resident Texas Rangers inspiration and reigning American League MVP: priceless.   READ MORE

On offense, Rangers think they can do it all - Game 5 of the 2010 American League Division Series revealed everything manager Ron Washington had always envisioned about the kind of offense he wanted for the Texas Rangers.  From the first run, manufactured by the legs of Elvis Andrus, to the last two, courtesy of an Ian Kinsler homer, the Rangers' offense covered all the bases.  "We were able to do everything last year," said Josh Hamilton, the 2010 AL MVP. "Hit home runs, bunt guys over, squeeze plays, double steals, going first to third. It helped us get where we needed to be."   READ MORE

Holland speaks out against texting and driving - Rangers pitcher Derek Holland is taking up a new cause.  He wants to be an outspoken advocate for no text messaging while driving. His awareness and interest in the issue -- championed nationally by Oprah Winfrey and others -- came about after a friend back home in Ohio died from injuries sustained in a car accident that occurred while she was text-messaging her boyfriend.  Kayla Layton, 23, who was from Holland's hometown in Newark, lost control of her truck while driving on Monday morning.    READ MORE

Mission October: Rangers itch to take next step - The Rangers know last year is over. The success and celebration of taking the AL pennant is in the past and it's time to move toward the ultimate goal of hoisting the World Series trophy.   READ MORE

Young speaks to team, won't be a distraction - The Rangers held their annual team meeting before Sunday's first full-squad workout, and infielder Michael Young was the first to speak and address his situation.  Young spoke briefly and basically told his teammates that he will not be a distraction this spring.  "Those guys know me and I know them," Young said. "It was important to say a thing or two about that."     READ MORE


NFL, union talk more than 20 hours over 3 days - Say this for the NFL and its players' union: They are on speaking terms at the moment.  And they are talking at length.  "Conversation," New York Jets fullback Tony Richardson said, "is good."  Federally mediated negotiations toward a new NFL labor deal lasted about eight hours Sunday, the third consecutive day the sides met to try to find common ground before the current contract expires.   READ MORE

Cowboys Offseason: Why Jerry Jones Should Sign Bob Sanders - This just may be one of the most eventful Cowboys off-seasons in the past few years. Jason Garrett is the new head coach and Rob Ryan is the team’s new defensive coordinator. In fact, Ryan is probably more high profile than Garrett.  Ryan is tasked with turning around one of the leagues worst scoring defenses. There are a few holes that Ryan has to address including the secondary and the defensive line. But in the article we’re going to focus on the position of strong safety.   READ MORE

Cowboys Have Decision To Make In Running Back Rotation, What is The Future of Marion Barber? - Marion Barber, Felix Jones and Tashard Choice. For a while, we thought, as fans of the Dallas Cowboys, that we had it made at running back. We were calling that combination of backs the three-headed monster, and we were sure they were going to tear up the NFL. Going into 2011, most observers think there will be some changes made at the position. That process already started in 2010. Marion Barber was injured, gave way to Felix Jones as the starter, and Jones never relinquished the role back to Barber. The Barbarian famously challenged Jason Garrett's authority immediately after he became interim head coach, and basically remained in Garrett's doghouse for the rest of the season.   READ MORE

Texans' defense will get priority in April's draft - Pass-rushing LB, cover corner on wish list after switch to 3-4.  Even though a lockout is looming March 4 and could extend into September, the NFL has encouraged teams to operate as if it is business as usual when preparing for free agency and the draft.  After spending 14-hour days preparing for free agency, which won't start until the owners and players sign a new collective bargaining agreement, Texans general manager Rick Smith and coach Gary Kubiak have turned their attention to the draft and will lead a large contingent of personnel people and coaches to Indianapolis for the scouting combine that begins Thursday.   READ MORE

Texans draft watch: FS Jerrard Tarrant - Don't hit the back button, you're at the right website.  It's just that you've grown so accustomed to writeups about tweener DE/OLBs that you've forgotton there's other positions of need for the Texans.  Frankly I'm a bit tired of writing about tweener DE/OLBs.  And of course I use the term 'position of need' quite loosely.  I wouldn't put free safety ahead of outside linebacker, nose tackle, wide receiver on the needs list, but it's a need.  Maybe my indifference is because the Texans have placed such a low priority on the free safety postion over the past decade.  Maybe they've lulled me to sleep when it comes to the last line of defense for the defense.  Do you really need to draft one of those guys before the sixth round?   READ MORE

Football Hall of Famer Ollie Matson dies at 80 - Ollie Matson, a Hall of Fame running back who was once traded for nine players during his 14-year NFL career and won two medals at the 1952 Olympics, has died. He was 80.  Matson died Saturday of respiratory failure surrounded by family at his home in Los Angeles, his nephew Art Thompson III told The Associated Press.  Thompson said Matson had been mostly bedridden for several years due to a form of dementia. He said Matson hadn't spoken in four years.   READ MORE

Miller's Walk-Off Single Gives Baseball Series Win - Jake Miller's 10th-inning single scored Chris Slater, giving Baylor a 5-4 victory.  Jake Miller's 10th-inning walk-off single scored Chris Slater, giving 16th-ranked Baylor baseball a 5-4 victory and a win in the series against Oral Roberts on Sunday afternoon at Baylor Ballpark.  Miller's opposite-field single came after Chris Slater beat out an infield hit leading off the bottom of the 10th and Landis Ware moved Slater to second base with a sacrifice bunt.  "I love those kinds of at-bats from right-handed hitters that are willing to take what they're given a little bit," head coach Steve Smith said. "That guy on the mound is really good.   READ MORE

Texas baseball team beats Maryland 16-0 - Oh, mercy.  Maryland couldn't get to pitcher Hoby Milner and couldn't get away from Texas' hitters Sunday in a 16-0 win for the No. 6 Longhorns that could have ended two innings early. Either team could have evoked the NCAA mercy run rule after seven innings, but both opted to press on.  Texas put up 10 runs over the first three frames, hammered out 12 total hits and drew 11 walks to take the season-opening series, 3-1 at Disch-Falk Field. The left-handed Milner fanned a career-high 10 over seven innings, issuing two hits and a pair of walks.   READ MORE

Baker gives Aggies hustle, energy - No wonder Maryann Baker's teammates call her "Crash" or "Rambo." Her all-out approach has led to knee and shoulder surgeries, yet she didn't hesitate diving for a loose ball in Saturday night's game against Oklahoma State at Reed Arena.  Texas A&M head coach Gary Blair rewarded Baker's hustle by calling a timeout to keep possession. It wasn't a game-changing play in the Aggies' 76-67 victory, but it was typical of the contributions the 5-foot-10 senior guard has made for the fifth-ranked team in the country.  "She brings the energy of Nate Walkup on the men's team and Melissa Jones on the Baylor team, but what I have to have out of her is the execution that both of those players are doing right now," Blair said.    READ MORE

Lady Cougars on their way to Making History - Most eyes have been on another woman’s basketball team in Texas, but this past weekend all eyes were focused on the Lady Cougars.   READ MORE

Stanford Tops Rice 6-2 Sunday At Reckling Park - Owls Wrap-up Season-Opening Homestand on Tuesday (Feb. 22) vs. Lamar.  The Stanford baseball team collected 13 hits, including three for extra bases, on the way to a 6-2 win over the Rice Owls in front of a Reckling Park crowd of 4,233 Sunday afternoon in Houston.  A three-game total of more than 12,000 fans attended college baseball's only season-opening weekend series that featured two nationally-ranked teams. The Cardinal claimed the series two games to one.  The Owls struck for the first run of the game in the bottom of the first inning. Freshman Tyler Cook led off with a double, moved to third on a base hit by Anthony Rendon and scored on a sacrifice fly by Michael Fuda.   READ MORE

SMU Suffers Second Loss in Three Games - The outcome of SMU's second meeting against Tulsa didn't end the way the first game had when SMU narrowly won by a score of 59-58. The Mustangs just didn't have enough firepower to keep up with Tulsa and suffered a 74-66 defeat.   READ MORE

Early Home run too much for Miners to overcome - The UTEP softball team looked to gain momentum as it headed into the rubber match of the three-game series against Houston Baptist. The Miners continued to show growing pains, due to the infusion of youth thank to untimely injuries, falling 6-3 Sunday to the Huskies at the Helen of Troy Softball Complex.  UTEP (4-5) fell behind early, giving up two runs in each of the first two frames. Freshman pitcher Laura Ramos started the game for the Miners, but lasted one inning before being removed from the game.   READ MORE

Frogs Drop First Game Of The Year - Well, the TCU baseball team will not replicate what the football team did. The Frogs will not end the season with a perfect (69-0) record. All kidding aside, it felt like the Frogs should have been undefeated longer than 2 games into the season. But after 14 tough innings, the Frogs lost to Kansas 4-3 in the series finale.  The Frogs were able to scrape across a run in the bottom of the 8th to tie it up 2-2, which eventually sent it to extra innings. No one did much until the 14th inning when Kansas scored 2 runs on a hard hit ball that went between the legs of Jantzen Witte at 3rd base. It was originally scored an error, but according to the stats it was changed to a hit (which I thought was the right call for as hard as that ball was hit).   READ MORE

Softball Wins Two Games On Sunday - The North Texas softball team posted two wins on day three of the Sleep Inn Classic, capturing second place in the tournament with a 3-1 record. The Mean Green defeated Northwestern State, 5-1, and Centenary, 11-2, on Sunday afternoon at Lovelace Stadium.  Nebraska won the Sleep Inn Classic with a 5-0 record, and freshman catcher Taylor Edwards received Tournament MVP honors. Edwards posted a home run in each of the Huskers' five victories.   READ MORE

Tracking the playoff race - Sunday was a sign of just how tight things are in the Western Conference playoff race, and how quickly things can change.  When Minnesota picked up a point in a shootout loss to Detroit in the afternoon, the Wild jumped from tenth place in the West to sixth. But the Wild’s stay was there only temporary.  When Calgary knocked off Montreal in the Heritage Classic few hours later, the two points the Flames gained pushed them from tenth in the West to sixth.  All that left the Stars, who started the day in sixth, in the eighth and final spot in the Western Conference. And that’s where they’ll be Tuesday when they try to snap out their recent slide that has seen them go 1-7-1 since the All-Star break and 2-9-1 since January 20.   READ MORE

Trevor Ludwig assigned to Texas Stars - The Dallas Stars announced today that the club has assigned defenseman Trevor Ludwig to the Texas Stars, Dallas' primary affiliate in the American Hockey League (AHL).   READ MORE

Dallas Stars Assign Trevor Ludwig Back to Texas Stars - The 25 year old son of former Dallas Star Craig Ludwig was assigned to the Texas Stars today. The 6-1 defenseman did not appear in any NHL games during his stay with the big club.   READ MORE



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