Sports Morning Headlines-Tuesday, 6/7/11

News from around the Texas Sports Scene for Tuesday, June 7, 2011.

NBA labor rift concerning - So far in the NBA finals, television numbers have been skyrocketing, as was the case around the league for much of the season. ABC and ESPN had record viewership numbers all season for NBA telecasts.  Some would suggest interest in the league has never been higher.  Which begs the question: Would those eyeballs come back if next season is interrupted by labor strife?  It's one that ABC and ESPN analysts Mark Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy hope they don't see answered.  Both expressed concern Saturday over the direction the league's labor rift may be heading. More talks between the NBA and its players are scheduled to take place in Dallas over the coming days, though both parties -- even while indicating some progress may have been made at a negotiating session in Miami after Game 1 of the finals -- still appear to be bracing for a lockout to commence when the current collective bargaining agreement expires on June 30.   READ MORE

Nowitzki in need of offensive help - No one would blame Dirk Nowitzki if he hung a 'Help Wanted' sign in his locker.  It has come to this for the Dallas Mavericks' All-Star forward.  Nowitzki needs some help. And fast.  During the first three games of the NBA Finals, Nowitzki has been shouldering a mighty big load for the Mavericks. The 13-year veteran is averaging 28.3 points per game. He has hit 45.9 percent of his shots and made all 24 of his free-throw attempts.  The problem, and the main reason the Mavericks find themselves in a 2-1 hole against the Miami Heat, is that no one else has stepped up to complement Nowitzki. And it's a burden the Mavericks must overcome if they have designs on winning this best-of-seven series, which resumes tonight at 8 at American Airlines Center.   READ MORE

The Mavericks aren't ready to concede to the Heat - The Basketball World has reverted back to giving the Mavs no shot at winning this NBA Finals after Game 3.  History backs this up, like zero percent chance or some such.  And just in case any stragglers persist in believing Dallas has a shot, a reporter basically told Mavs guard Jason Kidd as much during media time on Monday.  Reporter: "When they keep opening these double-digit leads repeatedly and kind of easily how does doubt not creep in a little bit, like 'Maybe, these guys are just too good for us.'"  JKidd: "We're just too stubborn."   READ MORE

Heat defense has Mavericks seeing ghosts - There's little doubt about the Miami Heat’s defense. It's been praised by analysts and players alike, and delivered them to the doorstep of another championship.  Yet as the Dallas Mavericks continue to miss makeable and often open shot attempts, rush through or bobble on-the-mark passes and/or lose control of light to uncontested dribbles, you begin to question if the respect paid to the defense has exceeded its true reach.  Memory can turn moments into tangible architecture that our minds will wander endlessly, effectively haunting particular environments or situations. Like a wide receiver who gets flattened on his first catch will hear footsteps on all chances that follow, Dallas appears to be supplementing the already strong play of the Miami defense by reacting to defenders who aren't there. Reacting to ghosts.   READ MORE

Kelly Clarkson to sing national anthem at Game 4 of NBA Finals - kellydallas.jpg Burleson-native Kelly Clarkson will sing the national anthem Tuesday night before Game 4 of the NBA Finals. READ MORE

Mahinmi remains a Texan, a project - Ian Mahinmi has come a long way. From France to the Austin Toros to the place he stood Sunday night.  At the free-throw line? Of the NBA Finals?  The camera caught his reaction. He grinned.  Still, going by what he did in his few minutes, Game 3 suggests the distance he’s come can be measured with a Texas road map. He’s in the same state he’s always been in, which is why he made a mistake last summer.  He shouldn’t have gone from one Texas playoff team to another.  He should have gone where he could have played more.   READ MORE

ProjectSpurs:  UK's Liggins says workout with Spurs his best - University of Kentucky's DeAndre Liggins made a stop in San Antonio for a work out with the San Antonio Spurs and according to Liggins, it was his best one:  Liggins has been racking up the frequent flyer miles, jumping from NBA city to city, working out for front office personnel.  Already, he's worked out for San Antonio, Miami, and on Saturday, Charlotte.  Liggins said at all three workouts, he's been able to showcase his skills that made him a fan favorite at Kentucky.  "I did good offensively.  I did good defensively, too.  They all went well, but to me, the Spurs was the best one," he said.   READ MORE

Spurs figures dot 2012 S.A. Sports Hall of Fame nominees - A variety of Spurs figures and teams are among the nominees for the San Antonio Sports Foundation’s San Antonio Sports Hall of Fame.  Topping the list is in a new category where the greatest teams in San Antonio sports history will be honored. It’s not surprising that the 1999 Spurs team, the first NBA championship team in the history of the franchise, is the first team from the franchise up for induction.   READ MORE

Person could be joining McHale’s staff with the Rockets - Former Spur Chuck Person could be headed to join the staff of new Houston coach Kevin McHale.  Person, who most recently was a member of Phil Jackson’s staff with the Lakers, has carved out a reputation as a top defensive tactician during his NBA coaching career.  Pundits have joked that such expertise is a little suprising because Person was known mainly for his offense during his 13-season NBA playing career./ “The Rifleman” still holds the Spurs record for top two seasons in 3-pointers and 3-point attempts.   READ MORE

McHale can help self by talking to Les - If Jeff Van Gundy could do it all again, he would handle his relationship with Rockets owner Leslie Alexander differently.  "I should have sought him out more," Van Gundy texted Monday.  This is precisely the kind of thing Kevin McHale will hear from a lot of people at Toyota Center over these next few months. Of the many pieces of advice the friendly local columnist will dispense in the years ahead, this might be the most important.  Once a week, pick up the telephone and touch base with your boss. When you're in town, stop by his office. Tell him what's up with the team. Tell him what you like and what you don't. Answer his questions.  In other words, build a comfort level, if not a friendship. Most of these conversations won't last 10 minutes, but they could be hugely important in allowing the Rockets to function smoothly. If your job security is increased along the way, so much the better.   READ MORE

 

 

 

Astros take athletic Springer with No. 11 pick - In keeping with their philosophy of taking the best athlete available, the Astros nabbed University of Connecticut outfielder George Springer with the No. 11 overall pick in the First-Year Player Draft on Monday.  Springer, 21, considered a five-tool prospect, played center field for the Huskies and has raw power and explosive bat speed, according to scouting reports. He's listed at 6-foot-3, 200 pounds. The Astros had a chance to take several power pitchers, but went with another athlete.  A junior, Springer was hitting .350 with 12 homers and 76 RBIs though 63 games for the Huskies, who are playing Monday in the NCAA Clemson Regional. He had a .628 slugging percentage with 35 walks, 38 strikeouts and 31 stolen bases in 38 chances.   READ MORE

Pence needs votes to nab All-Star start - Hunter Pence will carry a career-high 17-game hitting streak and some pretty impressive offensive numbers into Tuesday's series opener against the Cardinals, but he could still use some help to get elected to the All-Star Game.  Pence, who is hitting .310 and is leading the Astros with eight homers and 44 RBIs, wasn't among the top 15 vote-getters among National League outfielders in the latest round of balloting that was released Monday.  Pence, who has hit 25 homers in each of the past three seasons, made the All-Star team in 2009, but he didn't appear in the game. No Astros players were among the top vote-getters at their positions, but there is plenty of time for Astros fans to help their faves make up ground in the balloting. Fans can cast their votes for starters up to 25 times at MLB.com and all 30 club sites -- online or via your mobile device -- using the 2011 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot Sponsored by Sprint until June 30 at 10:59 p.m. CT.   READ MORE

Streaky Tigers turn to Porcello against Rangers - The Tigers have been a streaky team all season. After Monday's 13-7 win against the Rangers, the Tigers have won seven of their past eight games -- this following eight losses in their previous 11 games.  With each win, the gap between the Tigers and the American League Central-leading Indians appears to be getting smaller. The Tigers are 1 1/2 games back of the Indians after sitting six back a little more than a week ago. It is the closest the Tigers have been to the Indians since April 24.   READ MORE

Quick pitch: Tigers slam Colby Lewis, end Rangers' winning streak - The Rangers streaks - all of them - came to halt Monday in the start of a brief three-game homestand. The club lost its shutout streak in the first inning. It lost its five-game winning streak a couple of hours thereafter.  It was not a pretty game. Here are the details:  Player of game: OF Nelson Cruz hit a pair of home runs and drove in four. His 459-foot blast in the eighth inning landed in the back of the Detroit bullpen. It is the fourth-longest home run in Rangers Ballpark history. Cruz now has four homers in the last four games and seven in the 14 games since he returned from the DL.   READ MORE


NFL owners move to dismiss players' lawsuit - As the labor battle between NFL owners and players moved from the bargaining table to the courtroom, judges at each stop have urged both sides to reach an agreement before they have to issue significant rulings.  The latest nudge in that direction came on Monday from U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson, who scheduled a hearing on the owners' motion to dismiss an antitrust lawsuit from a group of players for Sept. 12.  Coincidentally or not, Sept. 12 is four days after the regular season is set to open in Green Bay, and one day after the first Sunday of games for the 2011 season.  Shortly after the owners filed their motion to dismiss on Monday, Nelson announced when she would hear arguments on the motion.   READ MORE

Lawyer Says Bryant Still Owes More Than $600,000 - Despite claims otherwise by Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant over the weekend, a lawyer said the Cowboys wide receiver still owes more than $600,000 and that a lawsuit is still pending.  “I have a handle on it and it’s done,” Bryant told The Associated Press Saturday at a department store in Tulsa, Okla. “It’s in the past and I’m ready to go ahead from here.”   READ MORE

No need to miss out even with lockout - Schaub tries to make sure team stays on normal offseason routine by organizing minicamp for offense.  When the NFL lockout began in March, Texans quarterback Matt Schaub sent an email to his teammates encouraging them to participate in player-only workouts during the offseason.  Some defensive players began working out at the Plex facility in Stafford. The offensive players worked out at Rice, where Schaub tried to stick to the same schedule the Texans would have used if there wasn't a lockout, including 14 organized team activities and a three-day minicamp this week.  Some defensive players joined the offense for the OTAs and minicamp.  "We're doing more detailed work as a group and running through the same type of practice plan that we'd be doing at Reliant," Schaub said about the minicamp. "We're also going to work on some situational football that helps us in crucial points in the game — like the two-minute drill, the red zone, etc."   READ MORE

Kubiak leads Texans' support of wounded veterans at 5K race - Head coach Gary Kubiak and the Texans showed their support for the military on Saturday at Mercer Stadium in Sugar Land.  Kubiak was honorary chairman of the seventh-annual Impact A Hero 5K race, which helps to provide financial and emotional support for severely wounded U.S. veterans and their families. He was joined by Texans assistant coaches, staff members, Lady Texans, Texans mascot TORO and the Houston Texans Cheerleaders.  “It’s just about showing support for the men and women and their families that serve our country and give so much to all of us,” Kubiak said. “It’s a great morning. I’ve been a part of it now for six years, and I really look forward to it.”  This year’s event had more than 3,000 participants, a record number that included about 70 wounded veterans and their families.   READ MORE

 

 


Draft profile: Gabriel Landeskog - The latest in a series of profiles on top prospects in the NHL Entry Draft focuses on Gabriel Landeskog, a Swedish left wing who plays with Kitchener of the Ontario Hockey League.  Gabriel Landeskog-Background on 2011 draft prospect Gabriel Landeskog. Note: Rankings are the latest available.   READ MORE

Richards' announcement all but inevitable for Stars - On Thursday, it became official, star all-star center and offensive cog Brad Richards will not be donning a Stars sweater when the puck drops in the fall. For some fans, it is a huge blow and comes as somewhat of a shock. Maybe us media types are a bit more cynical but yesterday's announcement that Richie would no longer be a Star didn't come as a huge surprise to anyone who covers this team on a regular basis.  That's because the Richards question has hung over this thing practically since the beginning of last season. Of course, that debate heated up around the trade deadline, when the Stars stood pat and didn't deal him but considering he was on the shelf with a concussion, they might not have had many takers and there is some doubt about whether or not he could have even passed a physical for his new team were Dallas GM Joe Nieuwendyk to actually pull the trigger on such a move.   READ MORE

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