Ryan's Place

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Magic Lose to 76ers 81-89



From Sportsline.com:

The Philadelphia 76ers might have surprised themselves the way they dealt with the absence of Allen Iverson on Sunday.

They certainly surprised the Orlando Magic.

Chris Webber scored 18 points and John Salmons added 17 to help the 76ers beat the Magic 89-81 on Sunday.

The 76ers played without Iverson, who missed his second straight game with a sprained left ankle. Iverson, second in the NBA in scoring at 33.6 points per game, is day to day.

"If you're missing a player like Allen you have to overcompensate," Philadelphia coach Maurice Cheeks said. "You're not going to replace a guy who scores 33-34 points a game, but you can replace him in other areas when you get production from everyone."

Magic point guard Steve Francis had 22 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists while teammate Dwight Howard added 14 points and 11 rebounds, but Orlando struggled to find an offensive rhythm and lost at home for the first time in eight games.

"It was bad," Francis said. "I thought we'd be more prepared and guys would come out and play harder. They outplayed us in every aspect of the game."

Friday, January 27, 2006

Magic Lose to Knicks 94-97



From Sportsline.com:

The New York Knicks hadn't won in so long, they almost forgot what it takes to close out a victory.

Eddy Curry had 27 points and 10 rebounds, and the Knicks blew almost all of a 25-point lead before holding off the Orlando Magic 97-94 Friday night to snap a six-game losing streak.

"We've got to be able to play well the whole game. We can't go up 25 on a team and let them get back in," Curry said. "We've got to try to be consistent the whole game. I mean, the win was great, but we could have very easily let it go the other way at the end of the game."

The Knicks avoided their second seven-game skid of the season -- they lost seven in a row in December. Orlando had won its last five and was looking for its first six-game winning streak since March 2002.

But the Magic were sloppy and lacked energy for most of the game, a night after needing overtime to win at Philadelphia. Orlando committed 22 turnovers, leading to 23 points.

"You can't give them points by turning the ball over," Orlando coach Brian Hill said. "They were the more aggressive team to start the game and it cost us. I thought we were lazy with the ball in the first half.

"If you think you're tired, you're going to play tired. I thought that was our mindset in the beginning of the game."

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Magic Win in OT Again 119-115



From Sportsline.com:

With key 3-pointers early and late, Pat Garrity enjoyed his best game of the season. No one on Orlando is hitting shots like Hedo Turkoglu.

Together, the duo has the Magic on a roll they don't want to end.

"We hit really big shots, I did, Pat did, everybody did," Turkoglu said. "We have to take the winning streak further. It's really big for us to have a team effort like we did tonight."

Garrity opened overtime with consecutive 3-pointers and scored a season-high 24 points, Turkoglu had 25, and the Magic beat the Philadelphia 76ers 119-115 Thursday night for their season-high fifth straight win.

Keyon Dooling sank the go-ahead free throws with 1:08 left in overtime and had 18 points. Dwight Howard had 22 to help Orlando run off its longest winning streak since it won six straight in 2002. The Magic won their second straight road game after losing their previous eight.

Orlando seems to have put aside the distraction of Steve Francis' two-game suspension for refusing to re-enter a blowout game and will try to extend its streak Friday at New York.

Turkoglu has sparked the turnaround for the Magic, scoring 104 points on 35-for-64 shooting (55 percent) in the last four games.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Tatupu & Tobeck Named to Pro Bowl



From Seahawks.com:

The NFL announced Wednesday that Seahawks rookie linebacker Lofa Tatupu and center Robbie Tobeck have been added to the NFC Pro Bowl roster. Due to injuries, Tatupu replaces Chicago’s Brian Urlacher and Tobeck replaces Chicago’s Olin Kreutz. Originally selected as alternates, it is each player’s first trip to Hawaii.

This raises the total to seven Seahawks players who will be on the NFC roster, which ties a franchise record set in 1984 when the team also had seven players in the Pro Bowl.

The annual game in Honolulu will be played the Sunday following the Super Bowl on February 12, 2006.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Magic Win Again Over Suns 111-102



From Sportsline.com:

All of a sudden, the Orlando Magic are unbeatable at home.

Orlando limited Phoenix, the NBA's highest-scoring team, to just two points in the final 4:48, allowing the Magic to pull away to a 111-102 victory.

It was the seventh consecutive home victory for Orlando, which started the season just 5-9 on its own court. Hedo Turkoglu led the Magic with 30 points -- including 10 in the final 6:12 when Orlando broke a 95-all tie.

Dwight Howard added 22 points and 12 rebounds while Steve Francis had 15 points, six assists and six rebounds as Orlando notched its fourth consecutive win overall, tying a season high. Keyon Dooling, playing for the first time after a five-game suspension for fighting, had 10 points in a reserve role.

"Home wins are huge, no doubt about it," Magic coach Brian Hill said. "We got excellent contributions from everybody at some point in the game and I was obviously pleased with our defense at the end. Phoenix is a tough team to defend."

Turkoglu, who is averaging 25.3 points in his last three games after scoring just 12.1 in the first 36, credited teammates for his performance. He hit 12 of 17 shots and put the Suns away with a mixture of jumpers and driving layups in the final six minutes.

"I was feeling good, but it was teamwork that made it happen tonight," Turkoglu said. "We helped each other all night. We executed well, we knew who was hot, we just put it all together."

Sunday, January 22, 2006

SEAHAWKS ARE GOING TO THE SUPER BOWL!!!!



From NFL.com:

Fans chanted "Super Bowl, Super Bowl" as Shaun Alexander carried the NFC championship trophy down the field at Qwest Stadium, a joyous trip that was 30 years in the making.

Alexander, a killer defense and playing on a field where they didn't lose this season, all combined perfectly to help the Seahawks rout the Carolina Panthers 34-14 in the NFC title game.

"I think we got people excited about football again here in the Pacific Northwest," coach Mike Holmgren said. "They're all coming to Detroit with us; everybody in the stadium's coming. They were great for us all year. Home-field advantage in this place means everything."

In this case, it means the Seahawks (15-3) will meet the Pittsburgh Steelers, 34-17 winners against Denver in the AFC, in the Super Bowl. That game will be played Feb. 5 at Detroit's Ford Field.

Alexander, the league's MVP, came back from a concussion he suffered last week to rush for a team playoff-record 132 yards and two touchdowns, and Seattle pressured Carolina stars Jake Delhomme and Steve Smith into oblivion.

"We have an unbelievable team, an unbelievable group of fans," Alexander said. "Prayer works. I get knocked out and guys step up. One guy goes down and another guy steps up."

The Seahawks picked off three passes in winning their 12th consecutive home game and shattering the fifth-seeded Panthers' stunning postseason road run.

"We're not done yet," said quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, who was a precise 20-for-28 for 219 yards and two scores. "We've got another game we've got to go win."

A game the Seahawks approached only once, before losing the 1984 AFC Championship Game to Oakland. A dozen years later, then-owner Ken Behring was planning a move to Los Angeles.

But current owner Paul Allen stepped in, eventually getting Qwest Field built. And Holmgren, now the fifth coach to take two franchises to the Super Bowl, put together the NFC's best team.

"We've come a long way, it's taken five years to put this group together," Alexander said. "Now we are one of the elite teams."

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Magic Beat Kings in OT 83-78



From Sportsline.com:

Even though he was only 4-for-20 from the field, Steve Francis made the shots that counted.

Francis had 18 points and nine rebounds, and made four free throws in overtime to give the Orlando Magic an 83-78 win over the Sacramento Kings on Saturday night.

The All-Star guard also made the basket that forced overtime on a layup with 21 seconds left in the fourth quarter. Mike Bibby then dribbled to the baseline and kicked it out to Brad Miller, who missed a long jumper that would've given the Kings the win.

The Kings didn't make a field goal in the overtime period, and the Magic only had one.

"If we go out there and play defense, we can win games," DeShawn Stevenson said.

Stevenson's 20-foot jumper with 2:40 left in overtime gave the Magic their first lead since early in the second quarter. Orlando extended it to 78-76 on Hedo Turkoglu's free throw after Kenny Thomas was called for a foul with 2:02 left, then a technical for throwing the ball toward the scorer's table.

Shareef Abdur-Rahim tied it at 78 with two free throws with 42 seconds remaining, but Francis gave Orlando an 80-78 lead with two free throws with 23 seconds left. He sealed the win with two more with 5.2 seconds to go.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Magic Beat Bobcats 104-93



From Sportsline.com:

Before Friday's game against Orlando, Charlotte Bobcats coach Bernie Bickerstaff said he had never seen anything like his team's rash of injuries.

Then it got worse.

Dwight Howard had 19 points and a career-high 21 rebounds, Hedo Turkoglu scored 24 points, and the Magic beat the injury-riddled Bobcats 104-93.

Already without Emeka Okafor (ankle), Kareem Rush (finger), Melvin Ely (ankle) and Sean May (knee surgery), the Bobcats lost leading scorer Gerald Wallace to a knee injury in the third quarter.

A team official said Wallace sprained his left knee, but would undergo an MRI exam either late Friday or early Saturday. He's out at least four weeks, and Bickerstaff said he's running out of options.

"If there's something out there that's close to what Gerald represents, something's wrong, because I think that player is already in the league," Bickerstaff said. "I think the guys are beat up right now, but we have to recover."

The Bobcats were no match for the Magic, who were helped by the return to the starting lineup of Steve Francis in his second game back from suspension. Francis had 13 points and six assists despite foul trouble as the Magic won their second straight game and snapped an eight-game road losing streak.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Magic Beat Wizards 106-98



From Sportsline.com:

Steve Francis was back and well-behaved.

Francis had 12 points, seven rebounds and seven assists in his first game back from a two-game suspension to lead the Orlando Magic over the Washington Wizards 106-98 on Wednesday night.

The guard was suspended by the team for refusing to re-enter a blowout game late in the fourth quarter. He came off the bench against the Wizards for the third time in his six-year NBA career.

"That's something that's way out of my control," Francis said of his reserve role. "So I just have to do what I can do when I come in."

He entered with 4:01 left in the first quarter to a mixed reaction from the crowd. Two minutes later, his no-look, behind-the-back pass on a fast break for a Hedo Turkoglu dunk put the crowd back on his side.

"After a week of not playing, just shooting by myself, it was good to get out on the court with my teammates and play well," Francis said.

Francis was scoring a team-high 18 points a game at the end of 2005, but hit a wall in January. In his last six games, he was averaging 11.5 points on 37.5 percent shooting, with 25 assists and 30 turnovers.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Francis to Re-Join Team



From Brian Schmitz at the Orlando Sentinel:

Several clubs inquired about trading for Orlando Magic point guard Steve Francis while he was suspended for conduct detrimental to the team, NBA sources told the Sentinel.

But in a meeting Monday among Francis, Assistant General Manager Otis Smith and Coach Brian Hill in which the Magic lifted his two-game suspension, the club told Jeff Fried, Francis' agent, that they had no plans to deal him.

"Yes, I asked," Fried said. "The answer was, 'No.' "

Francis will speak with his teammates at practice today and play Wednesday night against the Washington Wizards at TD Waterhouse Centre.

NBA sources said there were more than a half-dozen teams that inquired about Francis' availability.

"Any time a team sees some friction . . . if that opportunity arises to capitalize, most teams want to seize on it," Fried said. "But any time it was approached, my answer is that, 'Steve is very happy in Orlando.' He wants to stay here and lead this team to the playoffs."


Francis wouldn't be easy to trade, but not impossible. He has three years and $48 million left on a contract he signed with the Houston Rockets.

The Magic suspended Francis for the last two games on their West Coast trip after he refused to re-enter the game Wednesday night against the SuperSonics in Seattle.

Fried said Francis told Hill and Smith in Monday's meeting that he made a mistake "in the heat of an emotional moment and the game . . . an incident he wished did not take place. He has remorse. I think you'll see a new player, and you'll see that passion that Steve is all about. That spark is back."

The meeting with Francis, Smith said, "went well. It was positive."

Hill did not return a message Monday night.

What led to Francis' sudden insubordination "was a couple of weeks of frustration," Fried said.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Locklear Arrested



From Stacey Mulick and Mike Sando at The News Tribune:

Seattle Seahawks right tackle Sean Locklear was arrested early Sunday, hours after the team’s playoff victory, on suspicion of domestic violence.

The 6-foot-4, 300-pound Locklear allegedly grabbed his girlfriend around her neck and pushed her outside a bar in Seattle’s Belltown district.

The 24-year-old Locklear spent the rest of the holiday weekend in King County Jail in Seattle and faces a mandatory appearance today before a Seattle Municipal Court judge so his bail can be established. He was being held Monday without bail.

Locklear’s arrest came several hours after he played in the Seahawks’ 20-10 victory Saturday over the Washington Redskins.

Coach Mike Holmgren didn’t comment Monday about Locklear’s status heading into Sunday’s NFC Championship Game against the Carolina Panthers.

“I have to wait for details on that,” he said during a press conference. “I’m aware of the situation but I don’t know the details yet and so right now, I have no comment other than to say as soon as we get some definitive answers, Dave (Pearson, director of communications) will release something.”

According to a Seattle police report, officers were called to the 80 block of Blanchard Street about 1:20 a.m. Sunday after three witnesses said they saw Locklear assaulting his girlfriend.

The 23-year-old woman told officers she and Locklear were in a nearby bar with some friends when he got angry because he saw her dancing with another man. Locklear confronted his girlfriend and they went outside.

The girlfriend tried to tell Locklear she had not done anything wrong, but he got even more upset, according to the police report. As they walked down the sidewalk, Locklear grabbed the woman around the neck and pushed her into a doorway, three witnesses told police.

The girlfriend repeatedly told officers Locklear didn’t do anything wrong and he should remain free. The report said she had marks on her neck and chest, but she refused to allow officers to take photographs of the marks. She also declined to provide a written statement.

Locklear confirmed to officers that he and his girlfriend were arguing.

“He also stated that he grabbed her but said it was by the front of her shirt, not her neck,” the police report stated.

The three witnesses told officers Locklear had grabbed the woman twice around the neck. The allegations led to Locklear’s mandatory arrest on suspicion of domestic violence assault, police spokesman Sean Whitcomb said.

“It does become a fairly clear-cut case of assault,” he said.

Neither Holmgren nor Seahawks running back Shaun Alexander thought Locklear’s arrest would be a distraction this week for the Seahawks.

“Not really,” Holmgren said. “From what I know about it so far – again, I don’t know anything – it should not be.”

Locklear, who attended North Carolina State, is in his second season with the Seahawks after the team drafted him with the 21st pick in the third round of the 2004 NFL draft.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Magic Lose Again to Kings 100-104



From Sportsline.com:

Jameer Nelson scored 12 of his 29 points in the fourth quarter for the Magic, who pulled within 90-86 on Travis Diener's 3-pointer with 3:44 left. Miller beat the shot clock with his 3-pointer to put Sacramento up by eight, but the Magic eventually cut the lead to 96-94 on Diener's next 3-pointer and another by Hedo Turkoglu with 20 seconds left.

But Kevin Martin, Miller and Bibby were perfect on eight free throws in the final 19 seconds, and Nelson's six points in the frantic final moments weren't enough.

"When you think he's not in the play, he's in the play," Nelson said of Bibby. "He's always moving. Great player. Mike is a tough guy to play. I'm a young guy. I'm still learning."

Bibby surpassed his previous career high, set last season against New York. Martin matched his career high with 22 points and a career-best 10 rebounds for the Kings, who played without injured starters Peja Stojakovic, Shareef Abdur-Rahim and Bonzi Wells.

Grant Hill scored 18 points in his return from a four-game absence with a groin injury for the Magic, whose personnel shortages are due to suspensions, not injuries. Hill then sat out the final minutes after getting tangled up with Martin.

"Right now, I'm just worried about getting my clothes on," Hill said, visibly grimacing in the locker room. "I'm not sure where it hurts. It just hurts."

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Seahawks Advance to Championship With 20-10 Win Over Redskins!!



From NFL.com:

His head pounding and his day over, Shaun Alexander walked off the field at halftime and flashed the "OK" sign.

He was right.

Despite losing the NFL MVP to an early concussion, the Seattle Seahawks ended their 21-year playoff drought by beating the Washington Redskins 20-10 behind Matt Hasselbeck and a stout defense.

"I told Matt at halftime that he had to shoulder the load," Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren said. "We always put a lot on his shoulders, but I told him that now he had to do a little bit more."

Hasselbeck did.

He passed for a touchdown and ran for another as the Seahawks advanced to the NFC title game next week against the winner of the Jan. 15 game in Chicago between Carolina and the Bears.

Holmgren said he was optimistic Alexander will be able to play. Alexander, injured in the first 10 minutes, did not talk to reporters.

The victory ended the longest run without a postseason victory by any NFL team -- Seattle had been 0-6 since its last playoff triumph on Dec. 22, 1984. The contest next week will be the second title game in its 30-year franchise history -- the Seahawks played for the AFC championship after the 1983 season.

"I don't know if it was me. Those other guys stepped up," Hasselbeck said. "It was really a team win today."

Alexander, who scored an NFL-record 28 touchdowns this season and led the league with 1,880 yards rushing, lost a fumble without being hit at the Washington 11 on Seattle's opening drive. He was then hurt with 5:28 left in the first quarter and did not return.

Without Alexander, this became Hasselbeck's game.

Not only did he complete 16 of 26 passes for 215 yards and a 29-yard second-quarter touchdown pass to Darrell Jackson, but he scrambled around the right side for a 6-yard TD in the third quarter.

"I think he was awesome," said wide receiver Joe Jurevicius, one of the few Seahawks with Super Bowl experience. "He loses his starting running back and he's able to overcome that with no problem."

Indeed, Hasselbeck's work helped overcome three costly turnovers -- one that kept Seattle from scoring in the first period, a second that led to a Washington field goal and a third in the fourth quarter that the Redskins squandered.

Jackson had nine receptions for 143 yards despite playing with a bad back.

The Seahawks (14-3) stopped Washington's six-game winning streak. The Redskins (11-7) were inept on offense for the second successive week -- they had 140 yards in the first three quarters after getting a total of 120 in last week against Tampa Bay.

Dooling Suspended 5 Games for Fighting



From Brian Schmitz at the Orlando Sentinel:

Orlando Magic Guard Keyon Dooling Received a Longer Suspension Than Seattle Supersonics Guard Ray Allen After He Tried to Confront Allen Off the Floor After the Two Had Been Ejected for Fighting Wednesday Night.

The NBA announced Friday that Dooling had been suspended for five games and Allen for three games.

After his ejection, Dooling ran off the floor, past the Magic dressing room and toward the Sonics' locker room, looking for Allen.

Dooling had to be physically restrained by security before reaching the home dressing room, still yelling and threatening to get even with Allen.

Magic Assistant General Manage Otis Smith, who spoke with the league, confirmed that Dooling's actions after leaving the floor garnered the more severe penalty.

Dooling said he "deserved" the longer suspension for his post-ejection action, but felt the league put much of the blame for instigating the ruckus on him.

"I was the only one who threw an elbow," he said, facetiously.

Dooling and Allen were jostling during the second quarter. Television replays show that Allen was struck in the head by an elbow from Magic forward Stacey Augmon and Allen then appeared to elbow Dooling.

Dooling then walked over to Allen and rammed him with his shoulder. Allen tumbled to the floor.

When he reached his feet, he tackled Dooling, sending both players flying into the front row of courtside seats, throwing punches until teammates pried them apart.

Dooling said things happened in "the heat of the moment," adding, "I'm sorry for hurting the NBA's image."

Friday, January 13, 2006

Magic Beat by Blazers 108-113



From Sportsline.com:

Hedo Turkoglu had 27 points for the Magic, who were missing the suspended Steve Francis. The Orlando Sentinel and Florida Today, both citing anonymous sources, said the star guard wouldn't re-enter Wednesday night's loss in Seattle after Turkoglu fouled out.

The Magic also were without Keyon Dooling, who was suspended five games by the NBA on Friday for fighting with Seattle's Ray Allen in the same game.

Dwight Howard had 20 points and 13 rebounds for the Magic, who have lost six of seven. Jameer Nelson added 19 points and 13 assists.

"I thought our guys played outstanding," Orlando coach Brian Hill said. "We got contributions from everyone out there tonight. I'm very pleased with the way we played."

Portland led the entire fourth quarter, but Orlando stayed close behind strong post play from Howard and Turkoglu. The Magic scored 52 points in the paint, while the Blazers had 34.

The Magic cut the lead to two on Howard's follow shot with 1:50 left, but Dixon countered with a fadeaway 17-footer for Portland and then a 3-pointer from the corner to put away the game.

Francis Suspended Indefinitely



From Brian Schmitz at the Orlando Sentinel:

Steve Francis' refusal to re-enter Wednesday night's game finally exhausted the Orlando Magic's patience with their slumping point guard, leading them to suspend him indefinitely Thursday for conduct detrimental to the team.

Club sources told the Sentinel that Francis rebuffed Coach Brian Hill's decision to send him back into the game against the Seattle SuperSonics late in the fourth quarter.

Hill wanted Francis to replace Hedo Turkoglu, who had fouled out, with 3 minutes, 22 seconds left and the Magic trailing 103-87.

Veteran Stacey Augmon went in for Turkoglu while Hill and Francis discussed something on the bench.

Francis' act of defiance culminated a mysterious stretch of games in which he complained about the offense, played poorly and looked dispassionate.

Tension was building with each lackluster performance from Francis, and sources say a frustrated coaching staff considered the fallout of benching the three-time all-star.

Hill had no comment on Francis, saying, "It's a team matter.''

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Wise Re-Signs With Brewers



From Adam McCalvy at MLB.com:

His first big contract apparently is not going to change Matt Wise. Shortly after agreeing to a two-year, $1.7 million contract to return to the Milwaukee Brewers, he went out to dinner with his wife and paid with a gift card.

"I guess nothing changes," Wise joked.

The Brewers avoided salary arbitration with their top returning setup man late Thursday, signing Wise to a two-year contract that buys out his first two seasons of arbitration eligibility. He will earn $700,000 in 2006 and $1 million in 2007.

Wise, 30, was 4-4 with a 3.36 ERA in 49 appearances last season as one of two primary setup men for closer Derrick Turnbow. A changeup specialist, Wise ranked second in the Majors with a .160 opponents' batting average.

"He's a hard worker and we feel that he can succeed in a number of roles for us -- whether that's as a setup guy or a sixth- or seventh-inning guy who can give you more than one inning," general manager Doug Melvin said. "He's flexible that way."

Said Wise: "I'm very grateful for the opportunity to be here for two more years. I'm really excited about it."

Assistant general manager Gord Ash handled negotiations with Wise's agent. He said that discussions about a two-year contract materialized quickly in the past few days.

"From a risk point of view, we were not talking about significant dollars," said Ash, pointing to the lofty market for relief pitching. "We were very comfortable with this."

Wise gets the security of a two-year deal and, if he pitched anything like he did in 2005, the Brewers get a relative bargain. But the deal does carry some risk because Wise is just two seasons removed from being sidelined with a major elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery. He also missed much of August and September of last season with shoulder spasms attributed to fatigue.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Magic Lose to Sonics 104-113



From Sportsline.com:

The Sonics played much of the game without Allen, who was ejected for fighting with Orlando's Keyon Dooling with 10:53 left in the second quarter.

After Jameer Nelson missed for the Magic, Allen pulled down the rebound and replays showed that he caught a glancing blow in the chin from Dooling.

At the other end, the two collided as Seattle ran a set play and Allen appeared to give Dooling a short elbow to the chest before running along the baseline. Dooling went running at Allen and pushed him to the ground. Allen stood up and tackled Dooling into the first row of seats along the sideline and onto some fans.

"You get in the heat of the battle and sometimes situations aren't handled the way they should be," Dooling said. "I think that was an example of that tonight."

The two briefly scuffled and television replays showed Dooling throwing a punch at Allen that did not connect. The two were eventually separated with Orlando's Stacey Augmon pulling Allen away from Dooling.

Underneath the stands, Dooling briefly ran toward the Sonics locker room and was seen yelling at Allen, but team officials and police kept the two apart.

Allen was not available after the game and most of his teammates deferred comment.

"Sometimes you don't think, you just react," Dooling said. "I wish I could take it back. I feel bad for the fans that participated in it and for the kids that had to see it."

Nelson led the Magic with a career-high 32 points off the bench. Hedo Turkoglu added 16, but was no match for Lewis defensively, and fouled out with 3:22 left.

"We didn't want to double-team a lot because of their perimeter shooting and Rashard was a tough matchup for us tonight," Orlando coach Brian Hill said.

DeShawn Stevenson added 15 for Orlando, which dropped its sixth consecutive road game.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Sad Day For Seattle: Dave Brown Passes Away



From Seahawks.com:

The Seattle Seahawks family and the Ring of Honor suffered a severe shock Tuesday afternoon when former All-Pro defensive back Dave Brown died suddenly of an apparent heart attack while playing basketball with his son in Lubbock, Texas.

He was 52.

Brown has been the cornerbacks coach for Texas Tech the past five seasons, taking a three-year layoff from football after serving as a cornerbacks coach for the Seahawks until 1998. He played in the NFL from 1975-89 – 11 of those seasons with the Seahawks – and retired in 1990 before joining the Seahawks coaching staff. He is Seattle’s all-time leader with 50 interceptions, five returned for touchdowns, and 643 yards.

Brown, a two-time All-American from Michigan and a native of Akron, Ohio, is survived by his wife Rhonda and sons Aaron and Sterling.

The news comes just four days before Brown and the other members of the Seahawks Ring of Honor were to be recognized before Saturday’s Divisional Playoff game with the Washington Redskins.

"The Seahawks are very saddened by the news today,” Seahawks CEO Tod Leiweke said. “This Saturday, 68,000 Seahawks fans will observe a moment of silence to reflect upon not only a great football player, but also a great man."

It comes as an unexpected blow to all who knew him as this bright, vibrant and athletic man. He was an active member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and held weekly bible study groups for Texas Tech student-athletes.

Nonetheless, it’s hard to fathom for those who have known him for years, particularly Seahawks quarterbacks coach Jim Zorn, who was a teammate in the 1970s.

“I just talked to him while he was on the recruiting trail for Texas Tech, and obviously there were no signs of anything that would go wrong,” Zorn said. “We just lost a really good friend. He’s got a great family in Rhonda, Sterling and Aaron. Rhonda is a very strong woman, and I can imagine she is handling this very well. Whatever well would mean in this case, but I know she is a strong woman.”

Brown, who wore No. 22 for the Seahawks, started all 159 games in which he played for Seattle after coming over from the Pittsburgh Steelers in the expansion draft one year after the Steelers drafted him out of Michigan, and he earned a ring when the Steelers defeated the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl X.

At 6-1, 197 pounds, he began his career with the Seahawks as a safety, but moved to cornerback and stayed there for the next 10 seasons in Seattle. He was inducted into the Ring of Honor in 1992 while he was an assistant coach.

“The memories that pop up on the practice field were just competing against him every single day,” Jim Zorn said. “Steve (Largent) and I would go against him every single day because he was the best cover corner. He gave us the best work. He liked to go against Steve because he was the best. We just all made each other better. We trash talked often about who actually did what.

“Just his character and deep faith was always at the forefront. He never compromised his relationship with Christ in any of the dealings he had on and off of the field. I think that will speak louder to people as they get to know him better through this particular tragedy, our tragedy. In his mind, I’m sure it’s not his tragedy because of his faith.”

Magic Lose to Clippers 73-90



From Sportsline.com:

Jameer Nelson led Orlando with 18 points -- bettering his 12.3 average -- and DeShawn Stevenson added 13. Tony Battie had 13 rebounds.

Steve Francis was held to 3-for-16 shooting for 10 points, seven below his average.

"I didn't expect us to play that bad," he said. "It was more us turning the ball over, missing shots and getting fouls at times when we really didn't need them."

The Magic committed 18 turnovers to Los Angeles' nine.

"We made more mistakes than they did and they capitalized," Battie said. "Whenever you turn the ball over like that, it gives them more opportunities to score and gives us less opportunities. We didn't do a good job of managing the basketball."

Down by 11 going into the fourth, the Magic got a 3-pointer from Stevenson and a jumper by Hedo Turkoglu to trail 70-64.

12th Man Flag Raised on Space Needle



From Seahawks.com:

The Seahawks 12th Man flag was hoisted atop the Space Needle at noon Tuesday as part of the fan support for Saturday's NFC divisional playoff game against the Washington Redskins. Ed Viesturs, the first American to climb all 14 of the world's 8,000-meter mountain peaks, did the honors of raising the flag.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Magic Beat Bobcats 108-92



From Sportsline.com:

The Orlando Magic solved one problem and will have to wait for the answer on another.

Dwight Howard had 19 points and 12 rebounds, and the Magic took advantage of the injury-riddled Charlotte frontcourt for a 108-92 victory over the Bobcats on Saturday night.

The victory ended a three-game losing streak for the Magic, but they won without Grant Hill, who was put on the inactive list before the game with a groin strain. That is the same injury that forced Hill to have surgery in October and miss the first 19 games of the season.

He will accompany the team on a four-game West Coast trip that begins Tuesday in Los Angeles, but his status is day-to-day.

"I want to say that I feel great, I really do, but honestly, I don't know when I'll be ready to play," Hill said. "I hope I'll feel good enough to go (Tuesday), but we'll have to wait and see how it feels then."

The Magic didn't need him against the Bobcats, who have some severe injury problems of their own. Charlotte played with three guards on the floor most of the game because of injuries to four of their big men, including Emeka Okafor and Jake Voskuhl.

Howard and Tony Battie combined to hit 15 of 19 shots against the undersized Bobcats. Battie had 16 points and 12 rebounds, both season highs, while Howard posted his 23rd double-double this season.

Brewers Trade for Koskie



From Adam McCalvy at MLB.com:

Unable to meet his free agent price tag a year ago, the Brewers swung a surprising trade late Friday night to acquire veteran third baseman Corey Koskie from the Blue Jays for a Minor League pitcher.

The Brewers, who will decide whether to start Koskie at third base over Bill Hall, parted with right-hander Brian Wolfe in their second trade with Toronto in less than a month.

Koskie, a 32-year-old left-handed hitter, is a career .277 hitter in eight Major League seasons. He became expendable after the Blue Jays traded for slugging third baseman Troy Glaus, giving the team a surplus of corner infielders. Koskie is reportedly signed for two more years at a guaranteed $11.5 million, but the Jays picked up a portion of that cost.

"Having flexibility is key because when these opportunities come up, you can take advantage," said Brewers general manager Doug Melvin, who declined to say how much of Koskie's contract will be paid by Toronto. The Associated Press reported this week that Toronto was willing to pay as much as $3 million to expedite a trade sending him back to Minnesota, but the Twins declined.

Melvin followed those reports, and when Blue Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi called earlier in the week to gauge Milwaukee's interest, both sides began negotiating.

"This is a player we showed interest in when he was a free agent, and we were one of the teams he was interested in at the time," Melvin said. "Now we were able to get him at the right price."

Koskie ended up signing a three-year, $17 million deal with the Blue Jays after playing his first 10 professional seasons in the Twins organization. He earned $2.5 million in 2005 and is set to make $5.25 million 2006 and $5.75 million in 2007.

The original deal also included a $6.5 million club option for 2008 with a $500,000 buyout. According to the Toronto Sun, should Koskie amass 600 plate appearances in either 2006 or '07 -- or combine for at least 1,200 over that span -- it would cause his 2008 option to vest.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Magic Fall Short in New Jersey 106-113



From Sportsline.com:

Jason Kidd's 69th career triple-double helped New Jersey to its ninth straight victory, while Grant Hill's latest injury left Orlando wondering about its All-Star's future.

Kidd had 16 points, 13 assists and 11 rebounds, and the Nets beat the Magic 113-106 Friday night.

Hill scored 14 points in the first half, but reaggravated the strained groin that forced him to have sports hernia surgery before the season and has kept him on the sidelines for all but 10 games this season. He tried to play in the second half, but pulled himself out after just two minutes.

"I'm running out of ideas," Hill said. "I really don't know what to do.

"I don't have any answers. It's very frustrating."

Hill has missed most of four full seasons, including the entire 2003-04 season due to ankle injuries. He missed the first 19 games this season after having sports hernia surgery Oct. 31 and just returned to action Friday after missing Wednesday's loss at Toronto.

"I felt pretty good in the first half, but then I felt something going for a loose ball right before halftime," he said. "I thought I was moving around good, but I tried to go in the third quarter and couldn't. I'll get more treatment and see how I feel tomorrow. I'm going to try to keep pressing on, because my desire is still there. But it's tough for me to keep weathering the storm."

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Alexander Named NFL MVP!!!



From Seahawks.com:

The way things are going, we might just hear Casey Kasem on national radio talking about the Seattle Seahawks in the same manner as hot record albums, as in “the hits just keep on coming.”

In the middle of their bye week headed into the second round of the NFC playoffs, the Seahawks, the NFL and the rest of the sporting world were informed that Seahawks tailback Shaun Alexander was named the NFL’s Most Valuable Player Thursday by a vote of 50 media members.

Alexander garnered 19 votes, followed by Peyton Manning (13), Tom Brady (10), Tiki Barber (6) and Carson Palmer got the last two. The basis of the vote was obvious as the Seahawks took the NFC by storm with a 13-3 record, and Alexander stressed it was a team award. And indeed, the offensive line, quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and blocking fullback Mack Strong were instrumental in the 28-year-old Alexander leading the NFL in rushing with 1,880 yards and setting an NFL record with 28 touchdowns.

“Just to be mentioned with those guys is exciting for me,” Alexander said. “That’s what I try to shoot for is to try to be mentioned with those guys. I think overall, it’s our team. Our team has done stuff Seattle has never seen before. And we’re not done. We’re excited about the rushing title, we’re excited about the scoring title, and we’re excited about the MVP.

“But the thing we’re most excited about is not playing in the first round this week, and then being able to win two games and be able to go to Detroit (for the Super Bowl). That’s the goal we’ve always wanted. These are the kind of things - for us to get there – that are going to have to be done. Winning 13 games, guys getting hot on the field and us playing as a nucleus, that’s why it’s happened.”

This award caps an extraordinary run for Alexander, the first Seahawk player to win the award in the 30-year history of the franchise. He became the only player in NFL history to score at least 15 touchdowns in five consecutive seasons, became only the fourth to have at least 20 in successive seasons, and he’s the first running back to win the award since Marshall Faulk was named in 2000.

In only his sixth season, nobody has spent more time watching Alexander grow within the team than Strong, who sets the table as a Pro Bowl fullback leading him through the holes.

“He was on mission this year - it was incredible,” Strong said. “Every week he just came to play hard and performed. Obviously, he’s a big reason why we got the bye this week, and we’re already in the second round of the playoffs. No doubt everybody takes pride in the success that individuals have had this year. This is no different. I think everybody on this team feels super-excited for Shaun and the accomplishments he’s had on the field, and that he’s been voted MVP. It’s amazing.”

Tatupu Named NFL Defensive Rookie of the Month



From Seahawks.com:

Linebacker Lofa Tatupu of the Seattle Seahawks and running back Carnell “Cadillac” Williams of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the NFL Defensive and Offensive Rookies of the Month for December/January, the NFL announced Wednesday.

DEFENSE: LB LOFA TATUPU - SEATTLE SEAHAWKS

  • Linebacker LOFA TATUPU was a defensive standout throughout the year for the 13-3 Seahawks, continuing his stellar play as the season concluded, helping his team to the NFC’s No. 1 playoff seed and the best record in franchise history. A second-round pick from Southern California, Tatupu helped the club to a 4-1 record in December/January games, totaling 23 tackles, two interceptions, 1.0 sack, one fumble recovery and seven passes defensed. The son of 14-year NFL veteran MOSI TATUPU, Lofa scored his first NFL touchdown in a 42-0 win at Philadelphia on December 5, scoring on a 38-yard interception return. The following week in a 41-3 triumph over San Francisco, he recovered a fumble to set up a touchdown on the very next play. Tatupu, the club’s leading tackler this season, helped the team surrender just 94.4 rushing yards per game, fifth fewest in the NFL, and permit only one opposing running back to rush for 100 yards. Tatupu finished the season as one of only four NFL linebackers with at least three interceptions (three) and 3.0 sacks (4.0).
Tatupu is the second Seahawk ever to earn an NFL Defensive Rookie of the Month award, joining ROCKY BERNARD (September, 2002).

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Magic Clobbered by Raptors 97-121



From Sportsline.com:

The Orlando Magic grabbed the fewest rebounds in their history and allowed one of the NBA's worst teams to have a record night.

Rookie Charlie Villanueva scored 24 points and the Toronto Raptors shot a franchise record 63 percent from the field in a 121-97 rout of Orlando on Wednesday night.

The Raptors (10-22) own the third-worst record in the NBA, but tied a season-high in points and outrebounded the Magic 34-21.

The 21 rebounds are a franchise-low for Orlando, which lost in Detroit on Tuesday.

"It was a lack of effort on our part," Magic guard Jameer Nelson said.

Mike James added 17 points and seven assists for the Raptors, who have won four in a row for the first time since winning five straight in December 2003.

All 12 players on Toronto's roster scored and seven reached double figures. The Raptors' previous best shooting percentage was 61.9 percent on March 3, 1998 at Cleveland.

Brewers Re-Sign Kolb



From MLB.com:

After reacquiring him at the Winter Meetings and subsequently making him a free agent, the Brewers ended the Dan Kolb saga Wednesday by re-signing their former All-Star closer to serve as a setup man in 2006.

Kolb, who lives with his wife and two daughters just south of Milwaukee, will earn a base salary of $2 million with a chance for more via incentives for games finished.

The Brewers get another experienced arm to work the innings in front of closer Derrick Turnbow and Kolb gets a chance to resurrect his career in Milwaukee, where he notched 60 saves from 2003-2004, including a franchise-record 39 saves in his All-Star season of 2004.

"I'd say it was 50-50 that this thing was going to get done," said Kolb, who will be 31 on Opening Day. "I knew I wanted to come back, and that they wanted me back. Everybody gave just enough to make it work."

The Brewers traded Kolb to Atlanta at the 2004 Winter Meetings and he replaced John Smoltz as the Braves closer but struggled badly, going 3-8 with a 5.93 ERA and converting just 11 of 18 save opportunities. Kolb eventually lost the closer's job and was left off the team's postseason roster.

Wednesday's announcement ended a chain of events that began Dec. 7, when the Brewers traded right-hander Wes Obermueller, who was not expected to stick on the 40-man roster past the end of the month, for Kolb, who was not expected to return to Atlanta.

Because Kolb made $3.4 million with the Braves last season and was eligible for salary arbitration, the Brewers were forced to non-tender him Dec. 20 to avoid paying him at least $2.7 million in 2006. But they continued negotiating with Kolb's agent, Scott Boras, and finally reached a deal late Wednesday.

"We had a limit that we would go to, and we basically went there," Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said. "And they determined that this was the best place for Danny."

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Magic Lose to Pistons 99-108



From Sportsline.com:

Detroit (25-4) overcame 22 points and 14 rebounds from Dwight Howard.

"I think we could have had a win tonight," Howard said. "Detroit stepped it up on the defensive end and won the game, but the next time, we'll know what to do."

Jameer Nelson added 18 points for the Magic (12-16) and former Pistons star Grant Hill had 15, but Orlando had its three-game winning streak snapped.

"That is a very good team," Hill said. "They've only lost one game at home. They can be beat -- anyone can be beat -- but we played them at the right time. If we had seen them two weeks ago, it might have gotten ugly."

The Pistons shot 57 percent in the first half and got 18 points from Billups, but only led 57-55 because of a rare poor defensive performance. The Magic shot 59 percent, including an 11-for-17 (65 percent) performance in the second quarter.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Badgers Beat Auburn in Capital One Bowl 24-10



From Sportsline.com:

With a masterful offensive performance and a surprisingly stingy defense, the Wisconsin Badgers gave coach Barry Alvarez a proper send-off.

Brian Calhoun rushed for 213 yards, John Stocco passed for 301 and Brandon Williams had 173 yards receiving, lifting the No. 21 Badgers to a 24-10 victory over No. 7 Auburn in the Capital One Bowl on Monday.

It was the perfect tribute to a coach who restored pride to a down-and-out program.

"We wanted to be on," said Stocco, who threw two touchdown passes. "We just wanted to thank him for everything he's done, not just this year but since he's been here.

"This is coach's day. It just feels great to send him out of here like this."

The 10½-point underdog Badgers (10-3) were in control throughout against the Tigers (9-3), who flopped after ending the regular season with wins over Georgia and Alabama.

Alvarez never let his coaching finale be about himself, but the Badgers' near-flawless performance offered a fine opportunity for a little reflection.

"The main thing I'm most proud of is that we brought pride back to our fans for our football program," Alvarez said.

It was a fitting farewell for Alvarez, who led Wisconsin to eight bowl wins in 16 seasons and now will focus on his duties as athletic director. The Badgers were 1-5 all-time in the postseason before his arrival and sent him off with his fourth 10-win season.

Wisconsin amassed 311 yards and a 17-0 lead in the first half, leaving little doubt that Alvarez would get to celebrate another big win.

The architect of numerous firsts for Wisconsin, Alvarez became the first Badgers coach to win his finale since Milt Bruhn in 1966. Defensive coordinator Bret Bielema takes over as coach.

Alvarez declined to rate the victory.

"I hate to rank wins because I love them all," he said. "Nobody enjoys winning more than me."

Calhoun, a junior pondering a leap to the NFL, rushed 30 times and scored on a 33-yard run in the fourth quarter. Then he got the highest praise from a coach who has coached star tailbacks like Heisman Trophy winner Ron Dayne.

"We've had MVPs of three Rose Bowls and they're all running backs," Alvarez said. "When we win big games, our running backs play well. This one happens to be the most talented one that we've had."

Williams also had four carries for 35 yards as the Badgers dismantled a defense that came in allowing only 294 yards per game.

The Tigers tried to edge back into the game in the second half, but the Southeastern Conference's top offense never got going.

"We didn't have the answer," Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville said. "We never got anything going. Offensively, we couldn't make a first down. That's not like us."

Seahawks' 2006 Opponent Revealed



From Seahawks.com:

Home

Arizona Cardinals
San Francisco 49ers
St. Louis Rams
Green Bay Packers
Minnesota Vikings
New York Giants
Oakland Raiders
San Diego Chargers

Away
Arizona Cardinals
San Francisco 49ers
St. Louis Rams
Chicago Bears
Detroit Lions
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Denver Broncos
Kansas City Chiefs

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Seattle Beat by Green Bay, Alexander Sets TD Record & Captures Rushing Title



From NFL.com:

If this game were the last of Brett Favre's career, at least he went down slinging.

And, in his first losing season with the Green Bay Packers, at least he went out a winner as they beat the playoff-bound Seattle Seahawks 23-17.

"If this were to be his last game, then I'm really glad I was here," said Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren, Favre's former coach in Green Bay. "He has nothing to prove to anybody."

Favre threw his first touchdown pass in the past five games, but the game still featured a few more reminders of why Favre is considering retirement. He was intercepted again, his career-worst 29th of the season, and played the end of the game with a shoulder injury.

And he was upstaged for a half by Seahawks running back Shaun Alexander, who set an NFL record for touchdowns in a season with 28 and surpassed the New York Giants' Tiki Barber for the NFL rushing crown.

Favre, 36, said in recent weeks he is unsure whether he will play next year. He did not speak to the media after the game, an unusual move for him.

Favre left the field waving to the crowd, surrounded by a swarm of photographers and others.

Packers coach Mike Sherman, whose own future with the team is in doubt, said he expects to visit Favre soon to "take a ride on his tractor" and talk about next season.

There is no timeline for Favre's decision, although he has had preliminary talks with Packers general manager Ted Thompson.

"Probably in the next month or so," Sherman said. "I'm not that sure."

The Seahawks, meanwhile, plan to spend the next month in the playoffs.

"Now our second season starts," Holmgren said. "Fortunately we have a first-round bye, so we can heal up a little bit and get ready to play in the playoffs."

Alexander scored his record touchdown on a 1-yard run in the second quarter.

He piled up 73 yards by halftime, enough to pass Barber for the league rushing lead.