Sports Morning Headlines-Thursday, 04/07/11

News from around the Texas Sports Scene for Thursday, April 7, 2011.

Project Spurs: A Tale of Two Halves, Spurs Clinch West In Victory Over Kings - The San Antonio Spurs (60-19) clinched home court advantage in the Western Conference playoffs and extended their winning streak to three games Wednesday night, with a 124 to 92 victory over the Sacramento Kings.  The Kings (23-55) came into the AT&T Center on a two game winning streak as they’d just beaten the Houston Rockets on Tuesday night.  This game was a tale of two halves for the Spurs as they struggled in the first two quarters and set a new season offensively high in the second half.   READ MORE

Notes on a scorecard: Why Pop’s record is a big deal, even if he disagrees - Gregg Popovich looked like somebody had slipped him an exploding cigar during his post-game press conference.  The Spurs coach never has been one to show much ego or emotion about his own achievements.  So knowing Popovich like we do, it doesn’t surprise many that he didn’t seem overly excited about learning that he had passed Red Auerbach for second place for coaching victories with a single franchise.  After his team defeated Sacramento, 124-92, Wednesday night, Popovich now has 796 victories with the Spurs. It’s behind only Jerry Sloan’s 1,127 victories with the Utah Jazz, but tops the 795 wins earned by Red Auerbach from 1950-66 with the Boston Celtics.  His players were more excited about the honor than the veteran coach seemed to be.   READ MORE

Nuggets Defeat Short-Handed Mavs 104-96 - In the final match-up in the season series between the two teams, the Denver Nuggets defeated the Dallas Mavericks 104-96 in Dallas in what could be a possible first-round playoff preview. After the Mavericks fell behind as much as 16 points in the third quarter, they were able to get the game to 94-all. Dallas had to play the game without Tyson Chandler as he sat out due to a back issue. Jason Kidd was given the night off to rest his body. The Mavericks were led by Shawn Marion's 21 points and Dirk Nowitzki added 20 points in the losing effort. The Mavericks also got a surprising performance from 13 points and Brendan Haywood pulled down a season-high 19 rebounds. The Mavericks have now lost four straight games and nine straight games against teams currently in the top eight in the Western Conference.   READ MORE

Mavericks return home but lose fourth straight, 104-96 - This was supposed to have been the game where the Dallas Mavericks showed that all they needed was some rest in their own beds and some good old-fashioned home cooking in order to get back on track.  Not.  The Denver Nuggets used hard-core suffocating defense en route to spoiling the Mavs' "homecoming." The Nuggets' 104-96 victory on Wednesday sent the reeling Mavs to their fourth straight frustrating loss.   READ MORE

Elimination only a matter of time - Only a matter of time.  The Rockets were not officially eliminated from the playoff chase but knew they likely would be soon. By the time they play the Clippers Saturday in Toyota Center they could be out, with Memphis one win away from eliminating the Rockets and hosting the Kings on Friday.  "We were so close," Chuck Hayes said. "Now you think about every game that got away."  The Rockets, however, were more hit with the finality of their playoff hopes than surprise. They believed they would have to sweep April's seven games and, with the loss to the Hornets on Wednesday, had lost twice in as many nights.  "I'm not going to lie; it's not like it's a big surprise," forward Luis Scola said. "We could kind of see this coming. We were behind the whole season, sometimes six or 10 games behind. We got closer at the end of the year, and it looked like we were going to get there. It was a very long shot. "   READ MORE

Could Rockets' Adelman And Morey Be Gone By Next Season? - Eye on Basketball's Matt Moore - of Hardwood Paroxysm fame - responds to this...  "Everyones contract is up in Houston, including Adelman's. Theres no doubt he's one of the games finest coaches. But with Yao Ming's future up in the air, it could be time for Adelman to move on. When Portland gave Nate McMillan an extension last month, it opened the door for the Rockets to do the same with Adelman. But sources say communication and trust aren't great between Adelman and owner Leslie Alexander, who may conclude that its time for a different direction. Then there is the uncertain future of GM Daryl Morey, whose contract also is up and whose status was described by one industry source as "questionable."  ... with this:  The Context of Rick Adelman's Possible Hot Seat:  "There are reasons for Alexander to hold, however. The Rockets are on the books for just $48 million next season. Even in a revamped CBA structure, they'll have some wiggle room. Daryl Morey has never had as much financial freedom as he's about to have. If he were to whiff again, or if Adelman was unable to translate an upgraded roster into victories with a healthy club, it would definitely be time for a change."  READ MORE

 

 

 

 

Infielders' work wraps up Rangers' sixth win - Mitch Moreland might have a nice dinner headed his way sometime soon, perhaps this weekend at the Capital Grille a block away from the team hotel in Baltimore.  The man picking up the check will be Adrian Beltre, who made a terrific eighth-inning stab of a Milton Bradley grounder Wednesday afternoon but needed an equally terrific pick at first base by Moreland for the out.  Beltre is making 35 times what Moreland will collect in 2011, so it's the least he can do.  They made for a winning combination at Rangers Ballpark, with Beltre flashing his trademark leather several times and Moreland delivering a clutch hit against Felix Hernandez as the Texas Rangers won again, 7-3 over Seattle, and improved to 6-0 for the third time in club history.  "I'm looking forward to that dinner," Moreland said. "We'll see what happens."   READ MORE

Doctor's job is keeping the Rangers in the game - For Dr. Keith Meister, baseball is a frenetic, year-round odyssey.  As the Texas Rangers' lead physician, he is charged with keeping the players healthy, a task that takes him from spring training in Arizona to the Dominican Republic, where he gives physicals to minor-league players, and, finally, to the dugout at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.  In total, he oversees more than 200 players.  A leader in arthroscopic reconstructive surgery, Meister has also built one of the nation's pre-eminent sports medicine practices at the Medical Center of Arlington, where his office is regularly filled with injured athletes, from high school kids to "weekend warrior" types.   READ MORE

Reds put spotless record on line in finale vs. Astros - Reds starter Sam LeCure is used to facing top-flight pitching. In a stretch last season, he faced Chris Carpenter, Matt Cain, Zack Greinke and Felix Hernandez consecutively.  Up next for LeCure is Astros Opening Day starter Brett Myers. The two square off Thursday at Great American Ball Park, and LeCure's manager doesn't think anyone should sleep on the right-hander, regardless of who he's facing.  "He can pitch," Dusty Baker said. "He was on the radar screen a couple of years ago. We like him a lot. He keeps the ball down, generally speaking. He doesn't walk people, but he doesn't throw the ball down the middle of the plate very often either. He has very good control and command."  The Reds are trying to improve to 6-0, while the Astros are looking for their first win.   READ MORE

Astros notes: Barmes scheduled for hand X-rays - Bourn injures groin. Michael Bourn left Wednesday's game in the seventh inning with tightness in his left groin.  "It could be from the cold weather, just not being acclimated to it," said Bourn, who couldn't pinpoint exactly when it began but said he felt it tighten up while chasing a ball in the gap. "It's not too, too bad."  Bourn said he will try to play in today's matinee if the muscle loosens up. He was replaced in center field by Jason Bourgeois, who would be the leading candidate to replace him if he has to miss time.   READ MORE

 

 

 

 

For the Cowboys on Draft Day, it's all about need, not Cam Newton - A guy with some Auburn connections wanted to pass along info this week that of all the NFL teams doing Cam Newton draft homework, it appeared none other than the Dallas Cowboys were being the most diligent and thorough.  "Hard homework," he termed it, while adding that it might be worth connecting the dots.  I will get to work on the dot connections the next time someone at Valley Ranch actually returns a phone call. It's that time of year. Voicemail is basically the only sound we hear from NFL people as draft time enters the stretch run.  But by no means do I think the Cowboys have a strong interest in taking the Auburn quarterback, although I do think Tom Ciskowski and his scouting crew are going to be heavily armed with background information on Newton, just in case.   READ MORE

Prospects Keep Rolling Through Valley Ranch - With the NFL Draft quickly approaching, the Dallas Cowboys and all other teams are doing homework on any potential draft picks. Over the past two days, Valley Ranch has played host to a handful of players making visits.   READ MORE

Dusting off the draft pick value chart - For weeks the debate has raged about who the Texans will select with the eleventh pick overall in the upcoming NFL draft.  Will it be Robert Quinn?  Or maybe Prince Amukamara?  How about Cameron Jordan, Ryan Kerrigan or maybe even Aldon Smith?  The possibilities are numerous considering the Texans' broad scope needs on defense with priority on outside linebacker, safety, nose tackle and cornerback.   READ MORE

2010 season in review: Safety - Year in review: The Texans’ safeties were the last line of defense in a defense that ranked 32nd in passing in 2010. Even so, their season was not without encouraging performances from young players.  Pollard led the team with a career-high 112 tackles despite sitting out Week in 17. The hard-hitting strong safety had a career-high 2.5 sacks and four forced fumbles. He also had five passes defensed, although he had zero interceptions after recording four in 2009.   READ MORE

 

 

 


Scoreboard watching: A rough night for the Stars - The Dallas Stars need some help to get into the playoffs and they didn’t get any Wednesday night. Chicago and Anaheim both won, and Los Angeles and Phoenix went beyond regulation, meaning those two teams both got points. Calgary won, moved ahead of the Stars in the standings, but were eliminated from the playoff race.  It doesn’t change a lot for the Stars, who still have to win their final three games to have a shot at making the playoffs. And they are still going to need some help along the way.   READ MORE

Stars-Avalanche Preview - The Stars defeated Columbus 3-0 Tuesday at American Airlines Center to keep their playoff hopes alive. Kari Lehtonen stopped 23 shots for his third shutout of the season.  “It’s always nice when you don’t let any goals in, especially in a situation like this one where you have to win,” said Lehtonen. “That was good that I was able to do my part and the guys did their part and that usually equals two points.”  Lehtonen is expected to start in goal for the Stars.   READ MORE

Key To Dallas Stars Success Stays The Same: Brenden Morrow & Mike Ribeiro - We can talk about Jamie Benn, Brad Richards, Kari Lehtonen and Loui Eriksson all we want and how their individual successes are so important to the rest of the team. We can talk about the chemistry of the team, or the struggles of the defense or how Lehtonen has worn down as the season progressed.  What really and truly matters -- apparently -- is the performance of two teammates who have played together on this team longer than any other.  While the Stars likely would not be in this precarious position had Richards not been hurt  and then struggled to regain his pre-concussion form, and likely would have not fallen so hard with Jamie Benn out for a month, the truth is that the Stars are truly dependent on Brenden Morrow and Mike Ribeiro -- moreso than any other player on this team.   READ MORE
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