Rodeo Road Trip off to a Great Start

It’s that time of the year again for the San Antonio Spurs.  That special month of February when their home court is turned into a huge holding pen for the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo.  To date, the road trip has been used to firmly gel the team and get all healthy bodies on the right page and ready for the last portion of the NBA season.  With a 71-26 “Rodeo Road Trip” record, the Spurs have never fallen under .500.  This season, though may prove to be the hardest to date – since 2003.  This season, the trip includes stops in Toronto (lost), Indiana (won), Detroit, LA Clippers, Golden State, Portland, Utah, Phoenix.  There is every reason to believe that the Spurs will have trouble.  On the other hand, the Spurs thrive on the trip…so let’s play the games!

Next up for the Spurs are the Pistons.  For you Spurs fans in Detroit, make sure you get out and support the Champs.  Great seats and affordable tickets are still available. Get yours now!

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NBA free agent sweepstakes begin

The NBA’s free agent sweepstakes have begun, and we already have proof why, no matter what restrictions and penalties it puts in place, the league will never be able to complete protect owners from themselves:

Minnesota has – the same Batum who averaged 13.9 points per game last season for the Trail Blazers and has never showed signs of being more than a good role player – a four-year deal that would roughly quintuple his annual salary north of $10 million.

And so it went on opening day, with teams wasting little time in rushing to spend – or, some cases, squander – their hard-earned cap space.

As it was with the draft, it would appear to be a relatively uneventful period for the Spurs.

Franchise legend Tim Duncan is a formality to re-sign, role players Daniel Green and Patty Mills are both restricted, and Boris Diaw has lost enough battles with croissants over the years to make any team leery about throwing major dollars his way despite his solid contributions to the Spurs after his late-season addition.

Any additions will likely be of the nickel-and-dime variety, as has been the Spurs’ penchant over the years. Various reports have identified past-their-primers like Utah small forward Josh Howard and Toronto point guard Jose Calderon as potential targets.

With the perimeter seemingly in solid shape, reserve bigs like Greg Stiemsma (Boston, restricted), Marcus Camby (Houston, unrestricted) or Reggie Evans (L.A. Clippers, unrestricted) could be economical pickups worth exploring.

A handy list of all the available players can be found .

Elsewhere around the league:

* Indiana All-Star center and restricted free agent Roy Hibbert has reportedly (4 years, $58 million) from Portland and at least one other team.

* Toronto will reportedly at longtime Phoenix cornerstone Steve Nash in an attempt to lure him back home to Canada.

* With for multiple years, Boston will try to for the services of aging sharp shooter Ray Allen.

* Los Angeles Clipper forward Blake Griffin is , while teammate Chris Paul turned one down in the hopes of landing a richer deal next year.

* to deal the grossly overpaid Joe Johnson to the Brooklyn Nets, where he could join Dwight Howard, who – predictably – has renewed his trade demands.

Kobe bounces back by hanging 40 on Golden State

After enduring one of the worst games in his career a day earlier, Kobe Bryant was determined not to endure an encore on Sunday. 

Bryant blistered Golden State for 40 points to lead the Lakers’ 120-112 victory over Golden State.

In his previous game Saturday afternoon against New Orleans, Bryant missed his first 15 shots and was shut out through three quarters before breaking out in the final quarter.

“It’s always interesting to me to hear people talk after a game like that,” Bryant told the Associated Press. “The amount of idiots that live out here after 16 years baffle me. I guess people just get dumber over the years.”

It was Bryant’s 112th career game with at least 40 points as he topped the Studs for Sunday’s game. The Lakers pulled 1½ games ahead of the Los Angeles Clippers for third place in the Western Conference.  

STUDS

Los Angeles Lakers G Kobe Bryant: Slump? What slump? Bryant erupted for 40 points, five assists, three rebounds and was plus-13 in the Lakers’ victory over Golden State.

Oklahoma City G Russell Westbrook: Went for 27 points, five assists, four steals, three rebounds and was plus-28 in the Thunder’s victory over Chicago.

Los Angeles Lakers F Pau Gasol: Filled the stat sheet for 26 points, 11 rebounds, six assists and three blocks in the Lakers’ victory over Golden State.

Boston G Rajon Rondo: Notched his fifth triple-double this season with 16 points, 11 rebounds, 14 assists and shared game honors with plus-28 in the Celtics’ victory over Miami.

Indiana G Danny Granger: Erupted for 32 points, seven rebounds, three assists and two blocks in the Pacers’ overtime triumph at Houston.

DUDS

Miami F Chris Bosh: Clanked through a 2-for-11 shooting effort with three turnovers and was minus-13 in the Heat’s loss at Boston.

Phoenix F Hakim Warrick: Missed all three shots with two turnovers and was minus-3 in the Suns’ victory over New Orleans.

Denver C JaVale McGee: Went 1 for 3 from the field with five turnovers and was a game-worst minus-19 in the Nuggets’ triumph over Orlando.

Toronto G DeMar DeRozan: Struggled through a 4-for-11 shooting night with four turnovers in the Raptors’ victory over Washington.

Chicago C Joakim Noah: Clanked through a 1-for-8 shooting effort and was minus-21 in the Bulls’ loss at Oklahoma City.