Sports Morning Headlines - Thursday, 12/22/11

News from around the Texas Sports Scene for Thursday, 12/22/11.

Neal’s return pushed back; Anderson steps up - Spurs coach Gregg Popovich on Wednesday said he doesn’t expect to see guard Gary Neal in a game until the second week of January.  Neal underwent an appendectomy Dec. 12. He has been allowed to begin light cardiovascular conditioning work on a treadmill and exercise bicycle, but Popovich added some games to his original estimate of those Neal is likely to miss.  “He’s going to miss three, four, five games,” Popovich said. “Hopefully, the first couple weeks of January, he’ll be ready. Not the first week, but the week after.”  With the compressed post-lockout schedule, if Neal doesn’t return until Jan. 7, when the Spurs play the Nuggets at the AT&T Center, he will have missed seven games (about 10 percent of the 66-game season).  Popovich said James Anderson will slide into the backup spot behind Manu Ginobili during Neal’s absence.  Anderson has had an outstanding training camp and was solid in the Spurs’ 97-95 preseason victory over the Rockets on Wednesday.   READ MORE

Duncan scores 19 to lead Spurs over Rockets - Rookie Kawhi Leonard showed Spurs fans exactly what he's capable of in his San Antonio debut on Wednesday night.  Leonard hit a 20-footer from the left wing with 5.3 seconds remaining to give the Spurs a 97-95 win over the Houston Rockets in the preseason finale for both teams.  Tim Duncan had 19 points and Tony Parker added 15 -- and both know a bit about winning -- but it was the rookie who sealed it for San Antonio.  "I loved seeing that last shot go down so that nobody would have overtime," San Antonio head coach Gregg Popovich said. "It made two teams really, really happy the game was over."   READ MORE

Rockets, Dalembert reach agreement - NBA sources confirm for FOX 26 Sports the Houston Rockets have reached a two-year contract agreement with free agent center Samuel Dalembert.  League sources told FOX 26 the first year of Dalembert's contract is worth $7 million. The second year of the deal is worth $6.7 million, but the Rockets retain the option to buy Dalembert out for $1.5 million.  "Quite frankly we still have to iron out a couple of details," said Marc Cornstein, Dalembert's agent, in an interview with FOX 26 Sports.  "So we're not even totally there yet. We have the framework."  Cornstein said his client is thrilled to be joining the Rockets.   READ MORE

Preseason Game 2 Recap: Spurs Edge Morris, Rockets, 97-95 - Kawhi "Hands" Leonard won this game on a pull-up jumper from just inside the three-point line. That's preseason basketball at its best: Intriguing, yet often foolish.  The Rockets fell to the San Antonio Spurs on the road tonight by a deuce, 97-95, but not without leaving behind some exciting basketball from the youngsters. Marcus Morris stole the show in a single quarter before picking up some stupid fouls, dropping 20 points on fourteen shots. If you're looking for the most promising young Rocket, right now, Morris is atop the discussion. His versatility on both ends is hard to ignore.   READ MORE

Mavericks count on Jones in short season - If Dominique Jones becomes a permanent fixture in the Dallas Mavericks' rotation this season, he can thank his performance in the two preseason games against Oklahoma City for making that happen.In Sunday's opener against the Thunder, Jones contributed a team-high tying 17 points, a game-high seven assists and a team-high tying three steals. He also was 4 of 9 from the field while playing 28 minutes off the bench.In Tuesday's preseason finale against the Thunder, Jones was in the starting backcourt alongside Jason Kidd and wound up playing 27 minutes. And although Jones finished with just seven points (1 of 6 field goals), four assists, four rebounds and five turnovers, coach Rick Carlisle was relatively pleased with what he saw from the second-year guard from South Florida.   READ MORE

Sean Williams impressive, will join Mavericks Thursday - Sean Williams looked right at home for the Texas Legends Wednesday night. Still to be answered is whether he'll be comfortable in a Mavericks uniform.  The 6-10 forward was active and made his first two shots, including a spot-up jumper from the free-throw line.  Williams, as well as the players' association, had to agree for him to be assigned to the D-League team in Frisco after he signed with the Mavericks on Wednesday. Players with more than two years of experience must OK an assignment to the NBDL.   READ MORE

 

 

 

 

Rangers Get C Martinez, Send Pitcher To Padres - The Texas Rangers have acquired catcher Luis Martinez from the San Diego Padres for minor league pitcher Ryan Kelly.  Martinez batted .203 (12 for 59) in 22 games for San Diego with one homer and 10 RBIs. He homered for his first big league hit on July 27 against Arizona. A 12th round draft pick in 2007, Martinez hit .323 at Triple-A Tuscon in 58 games. He had one home run and 28 RBIs.  The Rangers added Martinez to the 40-man roster on Wednesday.   READ MORE

Japanese stars have had mixed MLB success - Now that we're getting to know Yu, it's a good time to consider how yakyu and its English translation of baseball have intertwined over the years.  A quick history bite: For 30 years after Masanori Murakami became the first Japanese player to play in the Major Leagues, not one single player from Japan followed him until Hideo Nomo burst on the scene in 1995.  But with the pending arrival of pitching sensation Yu Darvish with the Rangers as part of a mini-wave of players from Japan this winter, more than 50 players will have made the translation from yakyu to baseball at the highest level.   READ MORE

The Jed Lowrie Question - How much stock should we put into the new Astros starting shortstop?  When Mark Melancon, the team's closer for the immediate future, was traded to Boston for Lowrie and pitcher Kyle Weiland, most of us, including national outlets like FanGraphs, viewed it as a win for both sides. Houston got some young players who might break out and Boston got some late-inning help after losing Jonathan Papelbon and moving Daniel Bard into the rotation.  I liked the trade, said as much in a post the day it happened and liked where new GM Jeff Luhnow was taking the team. He was trading surplus value for something that will help the team and could provide more value down the road. That's the kind of thinking I've been waiting for since Gerry Hunsicker left town.  But, a lot of that hinges on Jed Lowrie and he's much more of an enigma that I'll probably let myself believe.   READ MORE

Options abound for Astros’ 2012 starting rotation - General manager Jeff Luhnow’s acquisition of former Red Sox farmhand and major league dabbler Kyle Weiland as part of his first move has given the Astros 10 starting pitchers on their 40-man roster, and manager Brad Mills has said he’s going to give Weiland a chance in spring training.  Last year’s race for the starting rotation was a little bit of a rigged affair, if you’ll remember, with the spots basically determined to the point where performance in spring training meant little.   READ MORE

 

 


Texans seek first win in Indy - The Houston Texans have already had a season of historic firsts.  First 10-win season. First division title. First playoff berth.  They have a chance to get one more Thursday night when they visit the improving Colts: first win in Indianapolis.  The Texans are 0-9 in Indy, and the losses range from blowouts to last-second heartbreakers. For the first time, though, Houston (10-4) won't have to deal with Peyton Manning on top of the noisy crowd inside Lucas Oil Stadium.  Colts coach Jim Caldwell said Tuesday that Manning will not participate in team practices the rest of the season as he continues to recover from neck surgery.   READ MORE

Mario Williams and the franchise tag - Perhaps the biggest question that will hover over the Houston Texans after the season ends, no matter how it ends, is whether to extend defensive end-turned-outside linebacker Mario Williams.  With Conner Barwin and Brooks Reed as their outside linebackers since Williams suffered a season-ending torn pectoral muscle on Oct. 9, the Texans have done just fine. They rattled off a seven-game winning streak that just ended and clinched their first AFC South title and playoff berth.  Williams is a dominant force. The Texans’ defense could have been even better with him. But he’s been slowed by a couple of injuries, and a pass-rusher of his caliber will cost a fortune on the free market. Houston extended some players at the start of camp to make their salary cap work, and he wasn’t in the mix.   READ MORE

Felix Jones Has yet to Practice, Questionable for Philadelphia Game - Felix Jones has been missing practice all week and his availability for the Dallas Cowboys' Saturday night game is questionable. That would be frightening for Dallas since that would only leave them with Sammy Morris, who has only been on the roster for just over a week.  Luckily, Dallas' running backs coach Skip Peete said he expects to see Jones play against the Eagles on Saturday afternoon.  The fact that it is a hamstring is scary for Dallas fans who just recently got wide receiver Miles Austin back from two different hamstring injuries. If Jones goes down against the Eagles, and misses the next week's game with the Giants, Dallas could find their season coming to an end sooner than they hoped.   READ MORE

Free fined $7,500 for clip vs. Bucs - The league has fined Cowboys left tackle Doug Free $7,500 for an illegal clip against Tampa Bay. Free was not flagged for hitting a defender from behind, below the knees, on a running play.   READ MORE







Flyers coach shoves Steve Ott after first period - Philadelphia Flyers coach Peter Laviolette shoved Dallas Stars forward Steve Ott as players were leaving the ice after the first period of Friday's game at American Airlines Center.  As Dallas players were filing down the tunnel to head to their locker room, Laviolette tried to get by but was blocked by Ott and eventually the Flyers coach shoved the Stars forward so he could go down the tunnel. Ott thought the Flyers coach should have waited for the Dallas players to file off and then head down the tunnel.  "It's disrespect of our building. Just let our team off. It's not that big of a deal," Ott said. "He obviously thought he has a higher power than everybody else and a little bit more arrogance than most coaches in the NHL. That's probably the first time I've seen that. I would never do that against Philadelphia if I was in their building. Just show a little respect, that's all."   READ MORE

Penalties cost Stars in loss to Flyers - The Dallas Stars have done a good job recently of staying out of the penalty box and limiting power play chances for their opponents. They weren’t able to maintain the trend Wednesday night and the Philadelphia Flyers made them pay, scoring twice on the power play in a 4-1 win over the Stars at American Airlines Center.  “I thought they capitalized on their power plays and we didn’t capitalize on ours,” said Stars coach Glen Gulutzan, whose team was 0-3 on the power play. “I thought five-on-five the game was pretty even. It’s just specialty teams came into play and they beat us at that game for sure.”   READ MORE










---Staff and Wire Reports contributed to this story

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