San Antonio Spurs v Charlotte Bobcats

Larry Brown steps down as Bobcats coach

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UPDATE 4:41 pm: Paul Silas is the leading candidate to replace Brown as the Bobcats coach, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo. Also in the mix: Patrick Ewing and Mike Woodson. Ken Berger of CBSSports says that Brown and Jordan came up with the list together and that other longshot names on it are current assistant coaches Tyrone Corbin (Jazz) and Mike Budenholzer (Spurs). Expect the decision to come in the next day or so (the Bobcats are off until next Monday).

3:57 pm: It has been a rough season for the 9-19 Bobcats — last night Larry Brown actually started Kwame Brown looking for some answers. The offense is terrible, the once-great defense is pedestrian.

In light of all that, Brown has agreed to step down as head coach, which happened Wednesday, the team announced.

Michael Jordan made this statement on the Bobcats’ Web site.

“I met with Coach Brown two weeks ago about the team’s performance and what we could do to improve it. We met again this morning after practice. The team has clearly not lived up to either of our expectations and we both agreed that a change was necessary,” Jordan said.

“This was a difficult decision for both of us, but one that needed to be made. I want to thank Larry for everything he has done for our team. He has played a key role in this organization’s development, including coaching us to our first playoff appearance last season. Larry will continue to be a valuable advisor to me regarding the team. The search for a successor will begin immediately.”

Brown’s entire staff has been let go as well. With that as the case the new coach – no immediate word on who that might be — has to be in place soon. The Bobcats don’t take the court again until next Monday, but expect a decision in the next 48 hours. Most likely, Jordan has someone in mind and has already made back-channel contact with the person.

Brown led the Bobcats to a 44-38 record and the franchise’s first ever playoff appearance last season, but the squad regressed this season (which happens when you let Raymond Felton and Tyson Chandler go and basically don’t replace them). Brown was 88-104 (.458) in two-plus seasons with the Bobcats.

TNT to cover NBA games with only former players, no traditional play-by-play men

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 19:  Grant Hill #33 of the Phoenix Suns looks to move the ball as Derek Fisher #2 of the Los Angeles Lakers defends in the first quarter of Game Two of the Western Conference Finals during the 2010 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center on May 19, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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NEW YORK (AP) — TNT will use broadcast teams featuring only former players and no traditional play-by-play men during five NBA doubleheaders later this season.

The “Players Only” schedule runs Monday nights from Feb. 27 to March 27 and includes matchups such as Golden State-Oklahoma City on March 20 and Cleveland-San Antonio a week later.

Brent Barry will serve as the primary host of one team with Derek Fisher and Grant Hill, while Greg Anthony partners with Kevin McHale and Richard Hamilton on the other.

Lisa Leslie and Dennis Scott will serve as reporters.

Turner Sports says Thursday that Chris Webber will anchor the studio coverage with Isiah Thomas and Baron Davis, and that additional NBA players will contribute to the five-week program.

James Harden presents fan with game ball on her 100th birthday (video)

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HOUSTON (AP) — James Harden took some time out after the Houston Rockets’ win over the visiting Milwaukee Bucks to give a fan a present on a her 100th birthday.

Video shows Harden signing a ball for the woman and spending a few moments sitting next to her in her courtside seat and posing for pictures Wednesday night.

Harden told ESPN’s Doris Burke in an interview that he told the woman how “blessed” he was to be able to have a chance to meet her.

The Houston guard also put on a good show for the fan during the game, scoring 38 points in a 111-92 victory over the Bucks.

Paul George dunks on DeMarcus Cousins while getting whacked in the face (video)

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Kings center DeMarcus Couins appears set to become the first player to sign as a veteran designated player. The Pacers hope Paul George will follow.

But in the Pacers’ win over the Kings yesterday, George beat Cousins.

Not even Cousins thwacking George in the face could stop this dunk.

Report: Khris Middleton could return to Bucks before All-Star break

CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 16:  Khris Middleton #22 of the Milwaukee Bucks reacts during their game against the Charlotte Hornets at Time Warner Cable Arena on January 16, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
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The Bucks projected Khris Middleton to miss about 70 games when he tore his hamstring before the season. That extended absence often leads players just to shut down for the year, but Middleton vowed to return in time for the playoffs.

He might get back far sooner than that.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

Sources told ESPN.com the Bucks think Middleton, who suffered a hamstring tear just days before the season began, “has a chance” to return to the lineup during a three-game homestand next month before the All-Star ‎break.

Whether Middleton ultimately makes his season debut before or after the All-Star Game, he is expected to be kept on a minutes restriction as he eases way his back from the injury, sources said.

The Bucks have started Tony Snell, who has held his own as an outside shooter. But Middleton will upgrade Milwaukee on Snell’s biggest strength and provide massive defensive improvement. After a strong start, the Bucks have really struggled lately on that end.

Giannis Antetokounmpo has led Milwaukee to a 20-21 record, though the team is better than its won-loss mark indicates. The Bucks will be even better with Middleton, who will rival Jabari Parker as their second-best player and fit seamlessly.