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Basketball Wiretap
Basketball news gathered from around the net.

Who are the Jazz?

Tim Buckley of the Deseret News looks at who the Utah Jazz are and if they're better than their 6-9 record shows.

"Good team? Bad team?
     Yes, they are. No, they're not. Yes, they are. No, they're not.
     Or maybe it just depends when you catch them.
     Using the past few days as a microcosm of the 6-9 Jazz's season, it's apparent the team that plays in Phoenix tonight still is uncertain where it falls on the good/bad spectrum.
     Take Utah's 112-88 victory over Seattle on Wednesday.
     Afterward, Jerry Sloan sounded like a coach truly fond of his players ? and honestly optimistic about his club.
     "I'm happy with the people we've got," Sloan said. "There's not one guy we have I don't feel good about as a player."
     Moreover, Sloan added, "there hasn't been a team we can't compete against.""

Still King of the Kings

DALLAS ? Chris Webber was worried he couldn't resist too strong a sales pitch, so he did the sensible thing.

He stopped taking phone calls.

Otherwise, who knows? He might have been preparing to pull on a silver-and-black uniform tonight to play alongside Tim Duncan against the Sacramento Kings.

The calls Webber decided not to take were from Spurs coach Gregg Popovich.

"It was tough, definitely, not going to San Antonio with the opportunity to play with Tim," Webber said after a recent workout with Sacramento teammates at American Airlines Arena in Dallas. "It's just an honor. I have all the respect in the world for Coach Gregg Popovich.

Nowitzki Lauds Foreign Stars

DALLAS - Four international players were in uniform at American Airlines Center on Thursday.

For Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki, who hails from Germany, that's a good thing. Especially since many view the 7-footer as the NBA's best international player, a title Nowitzki doesn't care for.

Dallas-Sacramento Recap

Mavericks owner Mark Cuban went off on the referees, and coach Don Nelson went off on center Shawn Bradley.

That, combined with some sensational shooting by Sacramento's Peja Stojakovic, highlighted an uneventful night for the Mavericks. Stojakovic started the fireworks early scoring 17 of his game-high 32 points in the first quarter, and the Kings crowned the Mavericks 110-98 before a crowd of 18,384 Thursday night at American Airlines Center.

After the game, Cuban criticized the referees for not calling what he terms a "fair game."

Former Warrior Caffey is eager to overcome his anxiety attacks

Mobley Will Not Play

The Grizzlies must be licking their chops.  Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle reports that Cuttino Mobley again will not play due to a sprained ankle.  He did not travel to Memphis.  This will be the second consecutive game that the Rockets top three offensive options -- Steve Francis, Mobley, and Mo Taylor -- are simultaneously out with injuries.

Grizzlies Beat by College Team... In Attendence

The Grizzlies moved from Vancouver after last season and have yet to gain much notice -- in or out of Memphis. After seven home dates, they are averaging 13,752, better than only five other NBA teams. The Grizzlies are 2-12, living down to the legacy of the team when it played six seasons in Vancouver and went 101-559.

But these Grizzlies believe they will find the way to the city's heart. The first order of business is to attract the same sort of attention the University of Memphis does for its basketball program.

The teams share the Pyramid, a 10-year-old arena. The Tigers are on the upswing with high-profile coach John Calipari in his second season at the university. They are led by freshman Dajuan Wagner, the nation's top high school player last season.

The Tigers sold more than 17,000 season tickets this season, compared to about 8,000 for the Grizzlies. Within the last 10 days, both teams had games televised on the same night, and the Tigers won clear-cut decisions.

Wizards' Rookie Center Haywood Learns Fast in First Games

The Washington Post reports that the Wizards are excited about rookie center Brendan Haywood. The seven-footer has made an immediate impact in the interior after sitting out the first 12 games because of torn ligaments in his left thumb. Haywood has come off the injured list to grab 14 rebounds, block three shots, alter several others and give the team a low-post presence.

With help from starting center Jahidi White, Haywood played a huge role in containing 76ers center Dikembe Mutombo in the Wizards' 94-87 victory. Mutombo collected just five rebounds and six points and routinely was shielded from blocking shots or was boxed out of rebounding position by Haywood.

"Defensively, he changes everything for us," Wizards Coach Doug Collins said of Haywood. "He gives you a long, active guy, plus Brendan has energy. He can cover, he can get back, he bothers guys' jump shots. With Brendan [on offense], we feel very good that we can throw the ball in there and he can pass out of it.

Collins said one of the main missions of the franchise is to find out if Haywood could develop into the team's starting center. However, there is no rush at this point and Haywood will continue to play as a reserve.

Owner Still Believes

Larry Miller, Utah's owner, still thinks he's seen enough good stuff out of this 6-9 team that they will still make the playoffs.

"Atlanta was the classic example," Miller says in the report. "When I see that kind of stuff, I worry because I know we've got the kind of guys who can play the kind of basketball we expect them to play.

"But when the whole team collapses like that, then you start asking, 'Has old age finally caught up to us? Is there some kind of cancer on the team nobody can perceive what it is yet?' You ask all those questions."

So, did he have these same thoughts BEFORE Wednesday's huge victory over the Sonics?

New Lineup Working - Jazz & Suns Preview

The Utah Jazz experimented on Wednesday with their first new starting lineup of the 2001-02 campaign.  The shuffle had Greg Ostertag coming off the bench in place of second-round pick Jarron Collins.

"If that's the situation," Ostertag told the Salt Lake Tribune, "so be it. I'll come off the bench the rest of the year. If that helps us turn it around, so be it."

Wow! Now if Malone would just lighten up a bit when asked about the trade rumors, this could really be something...

Trade talk doesn't worry Gugliotta

Sonics attendance sags

Air Jordan and Ground Chuck... Again?

Make up your mind already!

Lakers have look of vintage Bulls

Capsule preview: L.A. Lakers at Seattle

Will Sonics sweep or will Lakers mop up?

Hawks mop up Cavs

Lucas puts brakes on Mihm's move

Cavs lose then get bad news

Oakley tells Riley's critics to quit crying

Jordan has kept same approach

Friday: Wizards at Heat

Pair of guys lost: Riley, Jordan

Heat sinks even lower

Jordan tour sputters into town

Memphis not cuddling Grizzlies yet

Loss to Wizards reveals problems

HORNETS GAMEDAY

To the point, Davis makes Hornets his

Hill to be re-evaluated

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