Late in a tied game against the New Jersey Nets, Charlotte Bobcats guard Stephen Jackson turned to referee and former Oral Roberts star Haywoode Workman to complain that Devin Harris constantly thrusts his knee into an opponent's knee to impede that player's dribble-drive progress.
The next possession, Harris was called for thrusting his knee into D.J. Augustin on a drive, and Augustin's two free throws became the winning points.
Later asked if he influenced that call, a smiling Jackson said, "Maybe."
A ROSE WITH THORNS
In an effort to contain Chicago point guard Derrick Rose, the Portland Trail Blazers double-teamed him whenever possible. Rose was held to 11 shots and 16 points, but also had 13 assists. The Bulls shot 60.6 percent and Luol Deng scored a career high 40 points on 14-for-19 shooting in a 12-point victory.
"That's what we want teams to do," Deng said of double-teaming Rose. "If a team is gonna game-plan to trap Derrick, Derrick's gonna lead the league in assists and we're gonna get a lot of open shots. I don't think a lot of teams are gonna do that because we have a lot of guys that can make shots."
Dallas forward Dirk Nowitzki is not into Twitter, but recently opened an account with the help of Maverick staffers who keep it updated. Nowitzki posed a question about what he should do with his hair.
"Some said Mohawk. Someone said I should braid it. Some said I should buzz it," Nowitzki said. "Most off the ladies said I should just trim it and keep it long. So I think I got to go with the ladies on that one, but I do need a trim here soon."
The Milwaukee Bucks look good on paper, but center Andrew Bogut knows that doesn't mean much and used his second season with the Bucks (28-54) as an example.
"That team was so talented on paper," Bogut said. "We had me, Mo (Williams), Charlie (Villanueva), Michael Redd, we signed Ruben Patterson... but we just didn't mesh as a group. We had too many guys that were playing for themselves at the time. Talent on paper is useless in this league. Last year (46-36), people were saying we had the least talented roster in the NBA but we came together as a team, played for each other and played hard. If you have guys that want to play for each other and are underdog-type guys, they generally do better than guys that are all top-dog guys."
Center Drew Gooden, in his first season with the Bucks, on his new teammate Bogut, who is 7-foot, 260 pounds: "He's big. I didn't realize how tall he was and how big he was until actually being his teammate. Playing against him, in my mind, playing against all these guys, I always think they're the same height as me. But being around them every day, he's huge."
WE HAVE A PROBLEM
Houston's 0-4 start heading into Saturday night's game at San Antonio was the Rockets' worst start since 1999-2000 when they began 0-5 and finished 34-48. "I just hope we can win a game before Christmas," center Yao Ming said. "OK, that was a joke."
The Hornets appear to be phasing out guard Peja Stojakovic, who was put on the inactive list last week. Stojakovic is in the final year of his five-year, $64 million contract and lacks the defense which coach Monty Williams seeks.
"It's a tough spot for him, not knowing when he's going to play for the first time in his career," Williams said. "I take all of that blame. I probably didn't do a great job of communicating to him when he was going to play or if he wasn't going to play. I tried to talk to him, but juggling all this stuff for the first time, I could have done a better job of dealing with him."
The Hornets started 5-0 for the first time in franchise history, with victories over projected playoff teams Miami, Denver, San Antonio and Milwaukee.... The Mavericks play 17 of their first 26 games at home.... Forward Carlos Boozer still isn't close to playing his first game with Chicago, but took the first step in his comeback by getting the hard cast removed from his thumb last Tuesday and beginning rehab on Wednesday. "I'm looking forward to seeing how we do when we're all put back together," Boozer said.
Dallas center Brendan Haywood on the high altitude of Denver: "It's not overrated. My lungs were burning at practice like I just finished smoking a pack of Newports. It takes some time to get used to it, especially in the first quarter."