NBA Notes, courtesy NBA Media Central:
ALL-STARS SHOWING UP EARLY ON TNT
Tonight's TNT doubleaheader includes the league's two best teams and a strong contingent of All-Star Weekend participants. In the first game (7 p.m. ET), the Miami Heat (26-7, .788) hosts the New York Knicks (17-17, .500), while the Los Angeles Lakers (20-13, .606) travel to Oklahoma City to face the Thunder (26-7, .788). Miami and Oklahoma City are tied for the league's top record.
Rondo, Durant to Replace Johnson
Boston Celtics guard Rajon Rondo has been named by NBA Commissioner David Stern to replace injured East All-Star guard Joe Johnson (injured left knee) of the Atlanta Hawks in the 2012 NBA All-Star Game in Orlando. This is Rondo's third All-Star Game selection. Replacing Johnson in the Foot Locker Three-Point Contest is Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant, a 2012 NBA All-Star.
Evans to Replace Shumpert Sprite® Slam Dunk
Utah Jazz forward Jeremy Evans will replace injured New York Knicks guard Iman Shumpert (Left patella tendinitis) in the 2012 Sprite® Slam Dunk, part of the NBA's All-Star Saturday Night at Amway Center in Orlando.
Favors to Replace Splitter in BBVA Rising Stars Challenge
Utah Jazz forward Derrick Favors will replace injured San Antonio Spurs forward-center Tiago Splitter (right calf strain) on TEAM CHUCK in the 2012 BBVA Rising Stars Challenge.
Stats & Stuff:
- Dallas' Dirk Nowitzki recorded his 1,000th career block against Boston earlier this week. Nowitzki is one of only three players in NBA history with at least 1,000 three-pointers and 1,000 blocks, joining Clifford Robinson (1,253 threes and 1,390 blocks) and Rasheed Wallace (1,064 threes and 1,445 blocks).
- Houston's Samuel Dalembert, who stands eighth in the NBA in blocks per game (1.91), has finished seven of the last nine seasons ranked in the NBA's top 10 in blocked shots.
- Orlando is averaging 20.3 assists. When the Magic has as many or more assists than its opponents, it is 17-2. Orlando has dished out 20 or more assists in a game 20 times (17-3 record), including a season-high 32 assists on Feb. 22 at New Jersey.
- Over 10 games In February, San Antonio's Tony Parker is averaging 25.5 points and 8.2 assists, while shooting .485 (90-187) from the field. Parker has upped his average to 19.5 points and ranks 11th in the league in scoring.
- Second-Year Sensations
Each Thursday, NBA News highlights several second-year players that are having a positive impact on their teams. This week's rising stars include:
- PATRICK PATTERSON (Houston) -- A solid rotation guy, Patterson is averaging 7.3 points and 4.2 rebounds in just over 22 minutes per game.
- NIKOLA PEKOVIC (Minnesota) -- Kevin Love is the man in Minnesota, but Pekovic is growing up fast. The center was solid in January, averaging 7.4 points and 3.8 rebounds. But his February numbers -- 17.2 ppg, 10.4 rpg -- hint at possible future All-Star berths.
- GREIVIS VASQUEZ (New Orleans) -- Like Pekovic, Vasquez's numbers in the second month of the season hint at a solid NBA career. In 12 games (10 starts) this month, Vasquez averaged 12.6 points, 7.2 assists, and 3.1 rebounds. His month included three point/assist double-doubles.
- Today's Quote
MIKE D'ANTONI, on whether all the attention on Jeremy Lin could become a negative: "It might, who knows. You never know, but we're not afraid of it. He's a great kid and he deserves it. It's an unbelievable story, it's fun, people are excited and we'll see where it goes. Will it be a storybook ending? Everybody hopes so and that's what we're going to work for. But I do know he's a heck of a basketball player,
so we'll just ride it and see where it goes." -New York Times, Feb. 23, 2012