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Wednesday , Jun , 16 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Is Kendrick Perkins the difference between Boston Winning and Losing NBA Title?

"The Boston Celtics might go to Game 7 without center Kendrick Perkins.

He landed awkwardly trying to haul in an offensive rebound midway through the first quarter of Game 6 of the NBA Finals on Tuesday night and suffered a right knee sprain.

Perkins was hopeful, saying: "I'm going to try to give it a go [on Thursday]." But a team source told ESPN.com's Chris Sheridan: "He's done."

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HoopsVibe's Very Quick Call: Don't let his modest numbers deceive you. Kendrick Perkins could be the difference between the Boston Celtics winning and losing the championship.

The NBA Finals will be decided in the paint; the team that dominates down-low will host a victory celebration, while the team that gets dominated will spend their life wondering what could've been.

Perkins - despite his limited offensive skill and affinity for arguing fouls - is a throwback. He bangs. He competes. And he intimidates.

For instance, Perkins shut Pau Gasol down in game-five, which, not coincidentally, the Celtics won. In fact, Boston's five-man was so effective experts were again calling the Spaniard soft.

Gasol, however, was far more confident when Perkins left game-six with an injury. He ate the smaller Glen Davis up. Veterans Kevin Garnett and Rasheed Wallace weren't much better, either.

And the Los Angeles Lakers, as a team, successfully attacked the basket, in large part, because Perkins wasn't there to deter them. Guards Kobe Bryant, Jordan Farmar and Shannon Brown were able to get to the hoop whenever they liked.

Right now, Perkins' status is unknown for game-seven. What isn't unknown is how important he is to Boston.      

Got thoughts on this?   

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Wednesday , Jun , 16 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Do-or-Die: Bryant and Lakers ‘man up’ to force game-seven against Celtics

Kobe Bryant scored 26 points, Pau Gasol added 17 points and 13 rebounds, and the Los Angeles Lakers emphatically extended the NBA finals to a decisive seventh game with a 89-67 victory over the Boston Celtics in Game 6 on Tuesday night.

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HoopsVibe's Very Quick Call: Two days ago, Kobe Bryant demanded his teammates 'man up and play'. Well, the Los Angeles Lakers - both individually and collectively - fulfilled his request on Tuesday evening.

The purple-and-gold dominated every aspect of game six, building an early lead through tough defense, infectious hustle, and inspired play. The Celtics never mounted a serious challenge and the Lakers cruised through the second half to an easy win.

The difference between games five and six was obvious: Bryant had help. Loads of it.

For instance, co-star Pau Gasol had a double-double, but - best of all - the Spaniard imposed his will down-low; Ron Artest hit shots; Lamar Odom stopped complaining about the flu and got active; and Shannon Brown, Jordan Farmar, and Sasha Vujacic provided energy off the bench.

Two specific plays stand out. First, Artest was so confident he over-dribbled and still sank an improbable fall-back shot. Second, Farmar out-hustled Celtic Rajon Rondo for a loose ball by sacrificing his body and diving on the floor.

Bryant aside, no Laker looked confident or sacrificed in game-five.

As a group, L.A. played superb defense. They challenged every shot. They provided helped. They got stops. They won the battle of the boards. And they held the Celtics to 67 points, the second lowest total in NBA Finals history.

Meanwhile, Boston resembled a team with a one game cushion. Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Rajon Rondo were outplayed by the Lakers' big guns. The bench - which had been so effective earlier in the series - looked awestruck.

Of course, Kendrick Perkins' injury didn't help. The rough and tumble post sprained his knee early in the first quarter and never returned. His status for game-seven is unknown.

With or without Perkins, the green-and-white must re-establish their presence in the paint and show greater urgency on Thursday.

In fact, the Celtics should consider Bryant's advice and 'man up'. Or the Lakers will win what has become a one game, do-or-die NBA Finals and will hoist the Larry O'Brien championship trophy.

Got thoughts on game six? And what's your prediction for Thursday's game-seven?             

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Monday , Jun , 14 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

The Big Four Deliver: Allen, Garnett, Pierce, and Rondo lead Boston to game-five win

It's looking a lot like 2008 again, with Paul Pierce carrying the Boston Celtics to victory in the NBA finals and leading them to the brink of yet another title.

Pierce scored 27 points -- his best performance of this year's finals -- and the Celtics withstood 38 points from Kobe Bryant to beat the Los Angeles Lakers 92-86 on Sunday night and take a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series.

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HoopsVibe's Very Quick Call: On Friday, Kobe Bryant told reporters he was miserable because of his poor play. Tonight, he'll be miserable for a different reason.

The Los Angeles Lakers' superstar raised his play, even scoring an astounding 19 points in the third quarter; however, his co-stars all had poor nights, which was the reason for the game-five loss.

For instance, Ron Artest struggled on both ends of the floor; Pau Gasol's 12 points and 12 rebounds won't cut it in the NBA Finals; Andrew Bynum - wonky knee or not - should've been better than 6 points and 1 rebound; and Lamar Odom was a non-factor.

Meanwhile, the Boston Celtics won with balance. The Big Four delivered: Paul Pierce found his touch and had a team-high 27 points; Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo combined for 36 points, 15 rebounds, and 11 assists; and Ray Allen had an efficient 12 points on 5-for-10 shooting.

While the bench didn't repeat their game four heroics, they still contributed. Tony Allen, Nate Robinson, and Rasheed Wallace hit some shots, played tough defense, and, best of all, brought energy.

And this was the difference in game five. As a group, the Celtics seemed determined. Other than Bryant, the Lakers seemed flustered.

In the second half, Tony Allen gave the Celtics a surge with his tremendous weak side block on Pau Gasol. Then, in the closing moments, the 6-3 Rondo leaped the 6-10 Odom for an improbable tip-in basket to seal the win.

With the exception of Bryant, no Laker had a momentum changing moment or timely play. The purple-and-gold had too many passengers on this night.

Despite trailing in the series, the Lakers still have home-court advantage with game-six and seven at Staples Center.

The Lakers must improve, though. Or the Celtics will win the NBA championship and Bryant will be more than miserable.

Got thoughts on game five? Get at us in the comment box below.            

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Friday , Jun , 11 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Praise the bench: Glen Davis and Nate Robinson lead Celtics to game four win over Lakers

Backup Glen "Big Baby" Davis scored half of his 18 points in the fourth quarter, leading the Celtics bench as it pulled away from the Los Angeles Lakers to win 96-89 on Thursday night and even the best-of-seven series at two games apiece.

Game 5 is Sunday night in Boston. The Celtics' win guaranteed them a trip back to Los Angeles and averted a 3-1 deficit that has never been overcome in NBA history.

Kobe Bryant scored 33 points and Pau Gasol had 21 for the Lakers.

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HoopsVibe's Very Quick Call: Down the stretch, the Boston Celtics needed a spark. And their bench answered the call, winning game four for the green-and-white.

With starters Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Rajon Rondo struggling, coach Doc Rivers went with four reserves and first-stringer Ray Allen for most of the fourth quarter.

And this makeshift unit responded in the final frame: Glen Davis tallied 9 of his 18 points; Nate Robinson scored and set up others; Tony Allen forced Kobe Bryant left and made the game's best player work for every point; and Rasheed Wallace's length and physicality eventually wore on Pau Gasol.

Best of all, Ray Allen, Tony Allen, Davis, Robinson, and Wallace brought an energy that Boston was missing for most of the game.

The news gets worse for the Los Angeles Lakers: Andrew Bynum sat out the entire second half and only played 12 minutes because of his injured knee.

Bynum's numbers have been mediocre due to his poor health; however, his height and length has given the Celtics problems. Also, with Bynum on-court, Gasol can shift to the four-spot, his natural position.

However, give the Celtics credit. They capitalized on Bynum's absence. And their bench came through in the clutch.

Got thoughts on game four?   

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Wednesday , Jun , 09 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Height and heart: how L.A. beat Boston in game three

Kobe Bryant scored 29 points and Derek Fisher added 16 to lead Los Angeles to a 91-84 victory over the Boston Celtics on Tuesday night and give the Lakers a 2-1 lead in the NBA Finals.

Bryant had 25 points after three but did not score for the first 10 minutes of the fourth quarter. That's when Fisher took over, adding four key baskets after Boston winnowed a 17-point first-half lead to one point.

The Lakers regained home-court advantage they had lost when Boston took Game 2 in Los Angeles. Game 4 is Thursday night in Boston.

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HoopsVibe's Very Quick Call: In basketball, there’s a saying that ‘you can’t teach the height’. In game three of the NBA Finals, the Boston Celtics couldn’t beat the Los Angeles Lakers’ height.

It didn’t matter that Kevin Garnett turned back the clock with an inspired performance. It didn’t matter that Rajon Rondo was brilliant. It didn’t matter that the green-and-white’s bench had a big second half.

It also didn’t matter that Kobe Bryant had an off shooting night or that Ron Artest struggled with foul trouble.

On Tuesday evening, the Lakers were bigger and stronger and ultimately better. For instance, Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol, and Lamar Odom were especially effective in the middle, disrupting passing lanes and contesting shots with their length.

Size was one factor. Ray Allen and Paul Pierce’s poor play was another.

Allen, who hit an NBA Finals record 8-three pointers in game two, missed every shot he took in game three, while Pierce wasn’t much better, going 5-for 12 from the floor, and ending with a disappointing 15 points.

This was Pierce’s second consecutive sub par performance and it came on the heels of his claim the Celtics ‘ain’t going back to LA!’

Of course, one of the Lakers’ smallest players, Derek Fisher, played like a giant. The veteran went 6-for-12 with 16 points, which included a courageous 5-for-7 shooting display in the fourth quarter that sealed the victory.

Yes, height was the difference in game three. So was the size of Fisher’s heart.

Got thoughts on game four? Get at us in the comment box below.

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Sunday , Jun , 06 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Ricky Rubio has leverage over Minnesota Timberwolves

Ricky Rubio is promising NBA fans they'll get to see his razzle-dazzle, but not before the 2011-12 season -- and not necessarily with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

In an interview with the Associated Press, the highly rated prospect said he won't leave Spanish club Barcelona before his NBA opt-out clause comes up after next season. The Timberwolves remain his team of choice, as long as they make improvements following a season where they finished 15-67, the second-worst record in the league.

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: Something must have been lost in the translation from Spanish to English –like showing modesty or being humble.

This is what the Minnesota Timberwolves must be hoping for, after their Spanish point guard prospect, Ricky Rubio, recently held court with the media in Europe.

In a recent interview, the Barcelona club star spouted off: he basically told the Timberwolves to improve or lose his services; described himself as a ‘colourful, attractive, spectacular basketball player’; and compared himself to being ‘in the mold of Magic Johnson and Steve Nash’. 

Under normal circumstances, a team should immediately consider cutting ties with such a prospect.

However, these aren’t normal circumstances in Minnesota. Even with two young point guards and other developing pieces, the club only won 15 games last year and can’t sell tickets, luxury suites, or merchandise.

Frankly, the Timberwolves –since trading Kevin Garnett – have become irrelevant.

Rubio would change this. Instantly. His razzle-dazzle game will put butts in seats. And suddenly, the Timberwolves will have an identity, presence, and following at home and throughout the world.

All of this equals one thing: money.

Rubio, of course, knows this. He also knows he has leverage and will hold it over Minnesota executive David Kahn and the entire franchise.

If the Timberwolves don’t give him everything he wants, he plays in Europe and forces a trade. And even if the Timberwolves do give him everything he wants, the 19 year old could still force a trade to a larger market with a more competitive team.

With such pull, Rubio has little need for modesty or humility.

Got thoughts on Rubio? Got thoughts on the state of the Wolves? 

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Sunday , Jun , 06 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Is Pau Gasol right? Has Kevin Garnett lost a step?

Lakers big man Pau Gasol said Celtics forward Kevin Garnett is not the player he used to be, but Boston coach Doc Rivers stressed on Friday that there is nothing physically wrong with KG.

The Lakers held Garnett to 16 points and only four rebounds in a 102-89 win in Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Thursday.

"On Kevin's part, he's also lost some explosiveness," said Gasol, who had 23 points and 14 rebounds. "He's more of a jump shooter now you could say, comes off the lane. Before he had a really, really quick first step and was getting to the lane and he was more aggressive then. Time passes and we all suffer it one way or another, but he's still a terrific player, a terrific competitor, and he's going to bring everything he's got. You can count on that."
 
 
HoopsVibe`s Very Quick Call: Pau Gasol may be absolutely right, but he should not have gone there.
 
By politely calling out Kevin Garnett in the post game press conference, Gasol has provided The Big Ticket with extra motivation.
 
To be fair, Garnett is a shade of his former self. Wear and tear and injuries have taken their toll; however, the legendary post can still raise his play in a short series, especially if he feels slighted.
 
For instance, the Cleveland Cavaliers had their hands full with Garnett in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
 
So Gasol should just stay quiet and play -even if he is right.

Is Gasol right? Has Garnett lost a step?
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Saturday , Jun , 05 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

‘Keeping It Real’: Nate Robinson wants to stay with Boston Celtics

Robinson, who will be an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his five-year career, said he definitely has interest in re-signing with the Celtics if they want him back.

"Of course,'' Robinson said in an interview Friday with FanHouse, a day after Boston fell 102-89 in Game 1 of the NBA Finals
against the Lakers.

Even though the 5-foot-9 Robinson's playing time has been erratic, he said he likes the way the Celtics have treated him since he was acquired Feb. 19 from New York.

"I feel wanted here,'' said Robinson, who averaged 6.5 points in 14.7 minutes in 26 Boston regular-season games, but has seen his numbers drop in the postseason to 3.4 points in 6.4 minutes in the 11 games he has played.

"This group of guys, this team, this organization is good for me. They're high class, man. They keep it 100 percent (real) with you. Doc (Rivers, the coach) keeps it 100 percent. He tells you straight forward what he wants. I like that.''

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HoopsVibe's Quick Call: Can you feel the love?

Nate Robinson is apparently cool with the Boston Celtics because they've 'kept it 100 percent' real with him.

Okay, HoopsVibe News has no idea what this means, except it's good. For several reasons, club and player are a fit and should continue their mutually beneficial partnership with an extension this summer. Here's why:

1) Boston's Hall of Fame veterans have the credibility to keep Robinson on track. Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce can play bad cop and, if necessary, get in the tiny combo guard's face, allowing Coach Doc Rivers and GM Danny Ainge to play the good cop and encourage him.

2) Of course, Robinson, when focused, provides energy, life, and athleticism. This is always useful, especially when coming off the bench for a veteran laden club. For instance, the former Slam Dunk champion had an amazing game six performance, which helped Boston seal the Eastern Conference championship.

3) The Celtics are a defensive terror. That's their identity. Together, Robinson and Rajon Rondo would be the quickest starter-back-up point guard tandem in the NBA. And they'd harass opposing table-setters with their intense on-the-ball pressure.

4) How out of control can you look with Rasheed Wallace as a teammate?

Is Robinson and the Celtics and a match? Let us know in the comment box below.

 

Phil Jackson never loses after winning game one. Vol. 47-0
Friday , Jun , 04 , 2010 J.N.

Phil Jackson never loses after winning game one. Vol. 47-0

The Los Angeles Lakers crushed the Boston Celtics in the first game of the NBA Finals, 102-89. Kobe Bryant cleaned up with 30 points on 10-22 shooting (1-2 from three, 9-10 from the line) to go with 7 boards, 6 assists, 1 steal, 1 block, and 4 turnovers. Pau Gasol produced 23 points on 8-14 shooting (7-10 from the line) to go with 14 boards (8 offensive), 3 assists, 1 steal, 3 blocks, and 3 turnovers. At one point, the Lakers were up by 20. The most alarming stat is Phil Jackson’s 47-0 perfect record when he leads his team to a game one victory. Wow.

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Friday , Jun , 04 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Lakers bang, bully, and beat up Celtics, win game one

So the Celtics want to play rough again? Kobe Bryant and the Lakers look ready this time around, and they barged into an early lead in the NBA finals.

Bryant scored 30 points, Pau Gasol had 23 points and 14 rebounds, and defending champion Los Angeles got tough in a 102-89 victory over Boston in the NBA finals opener Thursday night.

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HoopsVibe's Very Quick Call: After getting banged, bullied, and beaten in the 2008 championship series, the Los Angeles Lakers turned the tables on the Boston Celtics in game one of the 2010 NBA Finals.

The Lakers went inside early and often, using the size of Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol to grab a half-time lead. Then Kobe Bryant took over with a strong third and fourth quarter to seal an easy win.

However, this game was decided in the middle. The Lakers' bigs showed up. Other than Glen Davis, the Celtics' bigs did not.

For instance, on one sequence in the final frame, Kevin Garnett missed two point blank attempts. The purple-and-gold corralled the rebound, found Gasol on the elbow, who then threw a bullet pass to the lanky Lamar Odom for an easy hoop. 

Boston better get physical on Sunday or they'll head home down 0-2. 

Get at us in the comment box with thoughts on game one of the NBA Finals.     

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Sunday , May , 30 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Kobe and Lakers oust Suns, face Celtics in NBA Finals

Get ready, Boston, for a rematch with Kobe Bryant and his Los Angeles Lakers.

Bryant wrapped up a magnificent series with 37 points, Ron Artest added 25 and the Lakers held off the Phoenix Suns 111-103 on Saturday night to win the Western Conference finals.

The Lakers and Celtics, the NBA's premier teams for much of the league's history, will meet in the finals for the 12th time with Game 1 Thursday night in Los Angeles.

"We'll see how much we matured," Bryant said. "They challenged us extremely well in the finals a couple years ago. Now is a chance to see how much we've grown."

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HoopsVibe's Quick Call: The Phoenix Suns' zone, fast tempo, and affinity for the three-point shot wasn't enough because the Los Angeles Lakers were simply better and deserved to advance to the NBA Finals.

For instance, the Suns' fourth quarter charge was put out by Kobe Bryant, who nailed two clutch jumpers, even though Grant Hill was playing air tight defense. After sinking the second jumper, Bryant even gave Suns coach Alvin Gentry a friendly tap and stretched his arms in celebration.   

The Lakers will now face the Boston Celtics in a classic finals match-up.

These two teams met in the 2008 NBA Finals, with the Celtics prevailing in six games because of their superior toughness down-low.

The 2010 championship will also be decided in the paint. Expect Boston to try and impose their will with bigs like Glen Davis, Kevin Garnett, Kendrick Perkins, and Rasheed Wallace, while L.A. will be anxious to show they can mix it up in the middle.

Got thoughts on a Boston-Los Angeles NBA Finals? Come back to HoopsVibe for more Finals coverage.   

The Boston Celtics are still the Beast of the East. Vol. Laker Nation
Saturday , May , 29 , 2010 J.N.

The Boston Celtics are still the Beast of the East. Vol. Laker Nation

The Orlando Magic has been eliminated at the hands of the Big Green Monster, The Boston Celtics. The one thing that is shown during this series is Superman is really Clark Kent. The Green Machine is definitely his Kryptonite. Many experts didn’t count out the Celtics against the Heat in the first round, but the majority counted them out against LeBron and The Cavs. I did not. I was in the minority. They trashed Cleveland and gave some false hope for Orlando before eviscerating them. Give them their due; there is room for old middle aged men.      

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Tuesday , May , 25 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Orlando needs Matt Barnes … and now

Magic forward Matt Barnes is upset over his reduced minutes in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Celtics.

However, Barnes still wants to remain with the team.

He can opt out of the two-year contract he signed last summer, but said Monday night: "I want to come back."

Barnes played just 16 minutes in Game 3 on Friday night, but tallied 30 in Monday night's overtime win in Game 4.

"I want to be out there to help my team. The money thing is whatever," he said. "More than anything, I just hate to watch from the bench, especially when we're not playing hard and that's what I bring to the court. "I've just been cheering. I hate it, hate it. It's tough to watch."

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And if the Orlando Magic, down 3-1 to the Boston Celtics, wants to make a series of the Eastern Conference Finals, they need to continue playing Matt Barnes.
 
After all, the energetic swing can defend, rebound, and nail three-pointers. Barnes had a workmanlike 10 points and 7 rebounds in game four.
 
Most importantly, when playing well, he gets under the skin of opponents. For instance, Barnes didn't back away from a confrontation with ultra intense Celtics post Kevin Garnett. And during the regular season he declared viral jihad via twitter against the Los Angeles Lakers' Lamar Odom.
 
Bottom line: Barnes' edge is good for the Orlando Magic, a team of mostly nice guys. Instead of worrying about next year's contract, they need him now.
 
How important is Barnes to the Magic's success? Get at us with thoughts in the comment box below.  
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Friday , Apr , 30 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

LeBron James: I’m Prepared if the Celtics Target my Elbow

Garnett is the only player whose actions caused him to miss a game when he elbowed Quentin Richardson of the Miami Heat during a flare-up.

He served his suspension, but his actions could have ramifications. The Celtics’ matchups with Cleveland are traditionally physical, with Garnett in the forefront of Boston’s tough-minded defensive approach. Will referees look to harness him faster to make sure a game does not get out of control, especially if James’s elbow is an issue?

“They’re a physical team anyways,” Cavaliers Coach Mike Brown said. “Whether the elbow’s there or not, their mind-set is to be physical coming into the series.”

Although, James said, what goes around comes around.

“That’s fine,” James said. “I know a lot of those guys have injuries, too, so I’ll be fine.” 

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The Celtics are aging and irritable, and that means they're almost guaranteed to take a shot at LeBron somewhere along the line. If you haven't noticed, though, LeBron isn't exactly the type to get bullied. It's going to be a tough, ugly series to play in, but an awful lot of fun to watch. Fans of '80s-style hoops are really going to love this one. - CYE

 

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Thursday , Apr , 29 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Kobe Sells More Jerseys than LeBron in ’09-’10

The Los Angeles Lakers’ Kobe Bryant once again tops the NBA’s list of most popular jerseys, where he has reigned as No. 1 since the start of the 2008-09 season. The list is based on sales at the NBA Store in New York City and on NBAStore.com since the start of the 2009-10 NBA season through April 2010. Both stores are having record sales years with a combined increase of 20 percent over last year.

Thirteen players competing in the 2010 Playoffs appear on this year’s list. The Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James remains No. 2 and the Boston Celtics’ Kevin Garnett climbed one spot from last year to No. 3. Chicago Bulls sophomore Derrick Rose continues to make a name for himself, coming in at No. 4, while the Orlando Magic’s Dwight Howard rounds out the top 5. The Oklahoma City Thunder’s Kevin Durant debuts in the top 10 for the first time, landing at No. 9, while the Denver Nuggets’ Carmelo Anthony moves from No. 15 to No. 10.
 
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Wednesday , Apr , 21 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Ray Allen: The NBA Is Softer Now

"The league is a lot softer," Allen said less than 72 hours after teammate Kevin Garnett elbowed Miami's Quentin Richardson in the final moments of Game 1.

Garnett was suspended one game for his actions in Boston's victory.

"The slightest little touch and you're at the foul line," Allen said of today's game. "It's like you have to be tricky."

Allen then gave a perfect example of how the NBA has changed over the course of his career.

"Reggie [Miller] would grab my hands and throw them one way while going the other way," he said, adding that he was expected by referees and coaches to defend such a move.
 
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Tuesday , Apr , 20 , 2010 Marija Kero, The Knicks Chick

The Knicks Chick on Why the Celtics Are Going Home and the First-Round Match-ups

HoopsVibe is proud to welcome Marija Kero, better known to many of you as The Knicks Chick, to the team. Marija will be checking in with videoblogs covering everything from her beloved Knicks to Ron Artest's latest hair-related mishap. In her first piece, Marija shares her thoughts on Boston's bad temper, the surging Mavs and the ghosts of NYK past appearing in the postseason. 

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Monday , Apr , 19 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

[vid] Glen Davis: Ticket Stub Is Coming Back

How do you replace The Big Ticket? Glen Davis said he's got the answer in his back pocket: The Ticket Stub. 

That's the nickname Davis coined for himself during last year's playoffs, when he filled in admirably for an injured Garnett. Davis averaged 15.8 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game, while helping Boston get within one game of the Eastern Conference finals. (The Celtics fell to eventual conference champion Orlando in seven games in the second round.) 

While Garnett and the Celtics awaited official word from the league about whether Boston's starting forward would be suspended for his role in Saturday's Game 1 fourth-quarter melee -- the league made the one-game ban official Sunday night -- Davis said he'd be ready to once again fill Garnett's shoes. 

"Well, if Kevin's out, I have to bring back the Ticket Stub," said Davis. "You all know the Ticket Stub, you all saw the Ticket Stub last year. If [Garnett is] gone, I've got the Ticket Stub right in my back pocket and I can bring it out." 

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