Andy Pettitte formally returned to the New York Yankees on Friday night when he accepted the team’s offer of salary arbitration. Catcher Michael Barrett returned to the San Diego Padres when he accepted his club’s offer and infielder Mark Loretta went back to the Houston Astros. They were the only players to accept among the 17 offered arbitration by their former clubs last Saturday.
Chargers coach Norv Turner said it’s 50-50 whether All-Pro outside linebacker Shawne Merriman will plays Sunday at Tennessee. The AFC defensive player of the week disagrees. “Yeah, I’ll be good,” Merriman said Friday after sitting out practice a second straight day to rest his ailing right calf. He injured it Sunday against Kansas City, when he had three sacks to push his season total to 9 1/2 .
Chris Paul sees himself as a pass-first, shoot-second point guard, but that doesn’t mean opponents can get away with giving him open shots. Paul converted a driving layup through a crowd of defenders with 1.8 seconds left in overtime, capping a game of career highs and lifting the New Orleans Hornets to a 118-116 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday night.
Sacramento Kings forward Shareef Abdur-Rahim had surgery on his right knee Friday and is expected to miss the rest of the season. Abdur-Rahim, in his 11th NBA season, averaged 1.7 points, 1.7 assists and 8.5 minutes per game in six games off the bench this year for Sacramento. Abdur-Rahim averaged 9.9 points last season.
The Orlando Magic have been the best road team in the NBA this season, but the Indiana Pacers might be headed in that direction. Danny Granger poured in a season-high 27 points and the Pacers rallied from a 15-point second half deficit to beat Orlando 115-109 on Friday night. It was Indiana’s fifth win in its last six road games, including four against Western Conference opponents.
The Houston Rockets jumped out early, then talked afterward about how well they responded to New Jersey’s run. What run? Yao Ming had 25 points and 11 rebounds, Tracy McGrady added 24 points, and the Rockets never trailed in a 96-89 victory over the Nets on Friday night. The game was never really in doubt after the first 10 minutes.
The Boston Celtics are tearing apart teams at home like the days when Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish roamed the fabled parquet. Kevin Garnett scored 23 points and the Celtics improved to 10-0 at home with a 112-84 win over the Toronto Raptors on Friday night. Paul Pierce had 18 points and Ray Allen 13 for Boston (16-2), which is off to the NBA’s best start and its best home mark since…
Before Friday night’s game, Ben Wallace still looked like a member of the Pistons family. But after the pre-game hugs and jokes, Wallace did what he’s been doing since he joined the Bulls: post a win over his old pals. Wallace had 10 points and 13 rebounds and the Bulls improved to 5-1 in the regular season against Detroit since he joined the team last season.
The 76ers’ rotation went a little deeper, the lead was held a little longer and there was a locker room full of smiling faces for one of the few times this year. Beating the Knicks was nice. So was the Sixers’ realization that if they beat New York again Saturday night, they’ll have their first two-game winning streak of the season.
There it was for everyone to see, out on the court during the flow of the game and later in black and white on the stat sheet, yet hardly anyone could believe it: 42 assists on 50 field goals for the Phoenix Suns. “Pretty crazy, right?” said Raja Bell. “Impressive,” said Amare Stoudemire. “Just incredible,” sighed Washington Wizards coach Eddie Jordan.
LeBron James didn’t practice Friday and will miss his fifth straight game with a sprained left index finger when the Cavaliers play Saturday night at Charlotte. In speaking to reporters for the first time since he sprained the finger at Detroit on Nov. 28, when Nazr Mohammed slapped at the ball as he attempted to shoot, James had a message for the Cavaliers’ opponents.
Allen Iverson went hard to the basket. He didn’t get there, but he did draw a foul. The next time down the court, A.I. made another veteran move, drawing another foul on the same defender. The game was only 1 1/2 minutes old, yet Iverson already was in full control. A day after scoring 51 points in a defeat, Iverson may have been even better, scoring 35 points and dishing out 12 assists while leading…