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Detroit Pistons waive Josh Smith (December 23, 2014)
[ Source: ESPN ]

Josh Smith averaged 15.5 points, 6.9 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game with the Pistons since signing as a free agent after the 2012-13 season. Cem Ozdel/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

The Detroit Pistons on Monday waived veteran forward Josh Smith, who still had two years and at least $26 million remaining on his contract after this season.

The 29-year-old Smith was averaging 13.1 points, 7.2 rebounds and 4.7 assists per game this season.

"Our team has not performed the way we had expected throughout the first third of the season and adjustments need to be made in terms of our focus and direction," coach and team president Stan Van Gundy said in a statement.

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Jayson Castro of Talk 'N Text. Sports5/Pranz Kaeno Billones

The Talk 'N Text Tropang Texters are facing a tough situation after dropping the first two games in the best-of-seven Philippine Cup semifinals series against San Miguel Beer, but Jayson Castro is still confident that they will be able pull through against the top seeded Beermen.

"Alam namin race to four e, hindi naman 0-2. Hindi pa naman tapos," said the guard, who led his team with 26 points in Game 2. "We've been here before, and then napanalo pa rin namin 'yung series."

In the 2012 Philippine Cup, Talk 'N Text went down 1-3 against the franchise then called Petron Blaze Boosters. The Texters swept the last three games of the series to enter the finals and eventually win the championship against the Powerade Tigers.

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Talk 'N Text executive Ricky Vargas (left). InterAksyon.com file/Mikkel Bolante

Talk ‘N Text executive Ricky Vargas hit back at San Miguel counterpart Robert Non on Monday after Non responded to comments made by Tropang Texters coach Jong Uichico after a Game Two loss.

Uichico expressed his disappointment at how officiating was handled in last Sunday’s game, which Talk ‘N Text lost, 87-81, to fall into a 2-0 hole in their PBA Philippine Cup semifinals series.

“Maybe Robert should look at himself first. He said it’s unbecoming for Jong to issue such statements. What is there to hide? Why is he overreacting?” Vargas told InterAksyon.com on Monday.

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Kevin Love is averaging 16.8 points and 10.5 rebounds this season for the Cavaliers. Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images

On the eve of the Timberwolves' first game against Kevin Love, president and coach Flip Saunders says he harbors no grudges against the former face of the franchise for wanting out of Minnesota.

He can't say the same for the fans.

Saunders says he doesn't think Timberwolves fans will forgive Love for orchestrating his exit from the Wolves this summer after six years in Minnesota. On Monday after practice, Saunders said "Minnesota people are pretty loyal. When you turn on Minnesota, they don't forgive you."

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Jayson Castro of Talk 'N Text pleads his case to the official on a non-call. Sports5/Pranz Kaeno Billones

The PBA Philippine Cup playoff series between rival teams San Miguel and Talk ‘N Text took a bitter turn on Sunday after Talk ‘N Text coach Jong Uichico issued some comments about the officiating following an 87-81 loss in Game Two.

The San Miguel Beermen, the flagship team of the San Miguel Corporation, and the Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters, the flagship of the group headed by Manuel V. Pangilinan, are currently embroiled in a best-of-seven semifinal series, which the Beermen lead 2-0.

Uichico said that he hoped the referees would do “a better job” in the next game and added that officiating concerns were “a given” when playing against teams from the San Miguel group. “I’ve been there,” added Uichico, who coached both the San Miguel and Ginebra franchises before moving to the MVP group.

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NBA

OKLAHOMA CITY -- After sitting out the Thunder's last two games, Kevin Durant did not practice on Monday and remains day to day with a sprained right ankle.

Thunder coach Scott Brooks said Durant is progressing well, but his availability for Tuesday's game against the Trail Blazers will be up in the air until close to game time.

"Every day we're going to evaluate him," Brooks said. "We won't know he's ready to play until that day. But every day he's getting a little better."

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Uichico faces sanction for tirade on officiating (December 23, 2014)
Nelson Beltran [ Source: Philippine Star ]

Talk 'N Text head coach Jong Uichico maps out a play. PHILIPPINE STAR Photo

MANILA, Philippines – Talk n Text coach Jong Uichico faces possible sanction for a statement made after Game Two of their PBA Philippine Cup Final Four faceoff with San Miguel Beer deemed by many as detrimental to the league.

“A summon (from commissioner Chito Salud) is forthcoming,” said PBA media bureau chief Willie Marcial.

Uichico expressed disappointment on the officiating and was quoted as saying “it’s a given when you’re playing the San Miguel group. I’ve been there.”

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Wounded ex-NBA player Carl Herrera improves in Venezuela (December 23, 2014)
Associated Press [ Source: ESPN ]

International Basketball

CARACAS, Venezuela -- Former NBA player Carl Herrera is out of intensive care and improving following a weekend shooting, the team he coaches and one of his sons said Monday.

The Gigantes de Guayana team said in a series of Twitter posts that Herrera, the first Venezuelan to play in the NBA, is no longer in critical condition "and is improving day by day."

Herrera, 48, was shot Saturday during an apparent robbery attempt at a restaurant on Margarita Island off Venezuela's Caribbean coast.

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San Miguel Beer's June Mar Fajardo with teammate Arwind Santos. Sports5/Pranz Kaeno Billones

With Talk 'n Text triple-teaming him in the paint, it took San Miguel Beer center June Mar Fajardo until the last three minutes of the game to reach the double digit mark in scoring.

The reigning PBA Most Valuable Player, who averages 18.5 points to lead the race for Best Player of the Conference, struggled from the field but drew a perfect 11-of-11 clip from the free throw line.

"Wala, na-shoot lang talaga," Fajardo told reporters when asked about his sweet stroke from the stripe. "Iniisip ko pag nag mintis 'yun baka dahilan 'yun para matalo kami kasi close game e."

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New York Knicks' Samuel Dalembert fined $15K for elbowing (December 23, 2014)
Ian Begley [ Source: ESPN ]

NBA

NEW YORK -- The NBA fined Knicks center Samuel Dalembert $15,000 for elbowing Toronto center Jonas Valanciunas in the face on Sunday.

Dalembert elbowed Valanciunas with 10:59 to play in the third quarter as he battled the Raptors big man for position.

Referees ruled that Dalembert committed a flagrant-2 foul and he was ejected from the game.

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