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Denver Nuggets coach George Karl always take his son, Coby on one in–season NBA road trip.  This time, the trip has special meaning.  They share a bond that goes beyond father-son and basketball.  George Karl is a cancer survivor.  Coby, 23, is fighting the disease.  The Nuggets started a five-game road trip Tuesday night at New jersey.  This will be their last trip together before Coby, a senior guard at Boise State, has another surgery to treat thyroid cancer on April 2nd.  “It’s hard, and made me realize I have to take care of him, an emotional George Karl said before the Nets game.  “Our goals and missions and priorities are to get him healthy.”
The surgery will be the second in 13 months for Coby Karl, who had his thyroid removed after being diagnosed with papillary carcinoma, a form of treatable cancer.


The NBA fined Charlotte Bobcats part-owner Michael Jordan $15,000 for discussing Texas freshman Kevin Durant during an interview last week.  Team coaches and executives are barred from talking about underclassmen who have yet to declare for the NBA draft.  In an interview with the Charlotte Observer last Tuesday, Jordan said he was interested in versatile players and added, “The kid who may present that is the kid in Texas.  He may have that because he has all the right signs.”  A Bobcats spokesman confirmed the fine.

Lebron is not the most popular NBA player in China

Lebron James remains fifth in jersey sales in the Chinese market behind Wade, Iverson, McGrady, and Kobe.

Kobe Bryant has the top-selling jersey there, while sales of Yao Ming’s jersey in his home country continue to fall, according to results released by the NBA on Tuesday.

Bryant moved up three spots to replace Tracy McGrady, while Yao dropped three spots to sixth.

Rankings were based on sales in China from the start of the season through the All-Star break.

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The Boston Celtics confirmed the team has been fined $30,000 by the NBA for excessive contact with the family of Texas star freshman and likely lottery draft pick Kevin Durant.  General Manager Danny Ainge sat next to Durant’s mother during the Big 12 tournament.  The league said Ainge violated rules demanding that contact be kept to a minimum between team executives and potential NBA draft picks, until college players officially declare for the draft.


Heat guard Gary Payton missed Miami’s game with Orlando with a strained right groin.  His status is day to day, the team said.


All-Star guard Chauncy Billups missed Detroit’s matchup with the Dallas Mavericks because of a groin injury.  “I had a pretty good indication he wasn’t going to go when I saw him walk in,” Pistons coach Flip Saunders said before the game.  “He had on a really nice suit, so I suspected he knew he’d be wearing it on the bench. 

Knicks reserve Malik Rose was hit with a technical foul while sitting on the bench in the first quarter.

Miami has lost only twice in 42 home games during February and March since Shaquille O’Neal was Acquired three years ago.


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Terry Stotts was fired Wednesday as coach of the Milwaukee Bucks, who are struggling this season after injuries to key players. 


Lakers coach Phil Jackson accused the National Basketball Association of conducting a “witch hunt” on Kobe Bryant, who was disciplined for a third time in six weeks.    On Monday, the NBA assessed Bryant a flagrant foul 1 penalty for elbowing Philadelphia’s Kyle Korver in the jaw during last Friday’s game.  Bryant has served two one-game suspensions recently for hitting players in the face while shooting.  Jackson, who was fined $25,000 by the league earlier this season for criticizing the officiating, could be penalized again for the remarks.


The NBA fined Bucks center Andrew Bogut $25,000 on Wednesday for directing an obscene gesture toward fans.  Bogut’s outburst came near the end of Milwaukee’s 108-93 loss at home to Toronto on Monday night.  The No. 1 overall pick in the 2005 draft was ejected after committing a flagrant foul against Toronto’s Chris Bosh with 49 seconds remaining.

The slumping Indiana Pacers are uncertain when Jermaine O’Neal will return from his knee injury.  O’neal has missed three games since an MRI exam last week revealed a sprained left knee.


LeBron Soaring Along With Cavaliers

Tom Withers on the Casper reminds us of Lebron’s greatness.Lebron.jpg

LeBron James has shifted into a higher gear _ warp speed. Entering the stretch run of his fourth season as a pro (is that possible?), James has taken his splendid, all-around game to another level, and brought the Cleveland Cavaliers along with him.

Criticized earlier this season for being lackadaisical, missing too many free throws, not coming through in the clutch and not owning an NBA championship ring like superstar pal Dwyane Wade, James is playing perhaps the best basketball of his life.

Since the All-Star break No. 23 has been unstoppable.

“He played well last year too,” Cavaliers coach Mike Brown said before Sunday’s win over Indiana. “But in terms of putting it all together, in this last stretch of games, he’s been playing very, very well.”

Lately, nobody has been better. Among his most memorable March moments:

_ A 41-point, eight-assist, seven-rebound effort in leading the Cavs to their first win at Detroit in three years.

_ Scoring 16 of his 32 points in the fourth quarter on Saturday and setting up Anderson Varejao’s game-winning shot in the final seconds for a win in Milwaukee.

_ Recording 32 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists in a victory over Houston.

_ Making 15-of-17 free throws and scoring 36 points in 38 minutes to beat Toronto.

Before being “held” to 26 points _ he sat out a chunk of the fourth quarter _ against the Pacers, James had scored at least 32 points in six straight games and not fewer than 29 in 10 in a row.

He’s averaging a league-best 33.3 points on 53 percent shooting since Feb. 15 for the surging Cavaliers, who have won five straight to push their record a season-best 13 games over .500.

James’ scoring binge followed a 10-game stretch in which he averaged 22.4 points on 44 percent shooting, an extended slump that prompted whispers that he was tired, injured, distracted or unhappy in Cleveland.

So, what changed?

“I’m just mentally trying to prepare myself and my team for the playoffs,” James said, taking a break from watching Sunday’s Kansas-Texas game on TV. “I’m trying to execute and find creases and cracks in the defense and trying to read them. Everything has been falling for me, my 3s, my mid-range jump shot, my drives and my teammates are putting me in a comfort level to help me succeed.

“I’ve been able to go out there and do some things that I couldn’t do early on.”

For much of the first three months of the season, James was not James, and the Cavaliers did not play like the team that pushed Detroit to a Game 7 in the conference semifinals last year or one with NBA title aspirations.

Earlier this season, James was settling for jump shots instead of attacking the rim, something he does as well as anyone. His usual first-step quickness wasn’t there and he didn’t have the customary spring in his legs. He appeared worn out after spending part of his summer playing for the U.S. team in the world championships in Japan.

Of course, James denied being fatigued. But his statistics said otherwise.

The 22-year-old also missed three games in late January with a sprained right big toe, an injury he feared would linger all season. He refused to use it as an excuse, but it was obvious that he wasn’t right.

His suspect free-throw shooting hasn’t helped. It has improved some _ he’s shooting 79 percent (34-of-43) in his last seven games _ but it remains his biggest flaw. After he went 3-of-8 from the line in a nationally televised loss at Miami on Feb. 1, the LeBron bashers came out in full force.

The torment continued when he missed a pair of free throws, then two 3-pointers, in the final 13.7 seconds of a loss at Dallas. Never mind that James, who would be a senior at Ohio State or some other powerhouse if he hadn’t gone pro, had 39 points, five assists and three rebounds against the Mavericks.

Nothing, though, is slowing him now. James is focused, playing with energy and enthusiasm every night. The Cavaliers are following their leader.

Brown acknowledged that difference in James.

“One of the things that’s tough on any player, whether you’re a great player or not is to make sure you are focused every day no matter who you are playing,” Brown said. “That is something that he has been doing really well as of late. At shootarounds and games, it doesn’t matter who we are playing, you have to be locked in.”

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Michael Jordan now gets a chance to hire a coach for his basketball team.  Jordan, part-owner of the Charlotte Bobcats, said Bernie Bickerstaff will not return as coach next season, although he will complete this one.  He will be invited to stay with the team and remains an “integral part” of the franchise.  In other Bobcats news, guard Brevin Knight was fined $25,000 by the league for verbally abusing a game official and failing to leave the court quickly enough March 10th.


Milwaukee Bucks center Andrew Bogut apologized for getting “caught up in the heat of the moment” and making an obscene gesture toward the home crowd while leaving the court Monday.  Bogut may face disciplinary action from the NBA for the outburst.


Washington Wizards forward Caron Butler didn’t practice because of a sore left knee and might be sidelined against the Pacers today.

Los Angeles Clippers guard Shaun Livingston underwent reconstructive surgery on his left knee and may be sidelined for a year or more.

The Timberwolves waived Eddie Griffin, ending the forward’s tumultuous three season in Minnesota.