Updated: Jan. 10, 2006, 7:50 PM ET

Making a name for themselves

Coming into the season, much of the talk was about Larry Brown and Phil Jackson and their respective coaching pedigrees. Rightfully so: those guys are all-time greats, deserving of the credit and salary they receive.

But what's great to see is the success for some coaches who have done great work for many years outside of the spotlight. Some of the NBA's most successful coaches this year include guys who even two years ago wouldn't have been thought of as head coaches.

Now these coaches are not doing just good jobs, but excellent jobs. They've paid their dues.

So here's the some of the NBA's "small-name" coaches who have had a big impact. And we'll examine some "big-name" coaches who have hit a few bumps in the road.

SMALL NAMES, BIG EFFECT

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• Mike D'Antoni, Suns -- The guy is head and shoulders above this group. I had the good fortune to spend a year with Mike when I was in Portland. In his career, he has failed and come back better. He's a guy who won't allow himself -- that is, his preferred offensive-minded coaching approach -- to get in the way.

He was always more about speeding the game up, which lessens the importance of turnovers. I like the way the Phoenix organization has adjusted this year to account more for defense. And it's working -- just see how they beat San Antonio playing the Spurs' way.

He's not stubborn. He's great to talk to. A great confidence-builder for players.

• Terry Stotts, Bucks -- He had a horrible team in Atlanta. Any time you're losing, nothing's good. Even if you've got the best philosophy, if you lose, you're a bad coach. Simple as that.

But he's developing a very good chemistry with the Bucks. You look up, and they're sixth in the East. Doing a solid, solid job. A basketball lifer.

• Avery Johnson, Mavs -- He's not afraid to criticize you, and he really does it constructively, where people are willing to listen. If he can get Dirk Nowitzki ever to become a factor on the defensive end, that could be his greatest coaching accomplishment.

• Dwane Casey, Timberwolves -- I don't think people realize how bad this Minnesota roster is. We all know great KG is, but this team has become more defensive oriented under Casey and gotten Wally Szczerbiak to play at his highest level. They don't have true point, and get nothing from the center position.

If the Wolves ever get their personnel situation worked out, they've got a coach who can lead a team with championship aspiriations.

• Mike Brown, Cavaliers -- OK, I'm not a big fan of how they've defended, but they've got the second best record in the East, and Larry Hughes is going to be out two months. Brown's doing something right -- and having LeBron James couldn't hurt.

• Byron Scott, Hornets -- This team has 15 wins with a roster that is not overly talented, Chris Paul or no Chris Paul. A great job.

• Lawrence Frank, Nets -- He was getting heat early on, but he's got those guys playing well. With all the issues in Indy, they've got a chance to make the Eastern Conference Finals.

BIG NAMES, BUMPY PATH

• Larry Brown, Knicks -- He's not really had much of an impact on that team. There's no doubting he's a good coach. There's no doubting they'll play at a higher level, eventually.

But no matter how great a coach is, he must have something to coach. Larry understands that this team is going to need time. Question is, mentally will he be able to do it at his age?

• George Karl, Nuggets -- Comes in with a reputation and success, but the Nuggets are another team that has struggled to meet rising expectations. Those can be the hardest things to deal with.

• Jeff Van Gundy, Rockets -- Nobody questions his coaching ability. The team has not achieved, which shows if you don't have the right type of roster to deal with adversity -- in this case injuries -- you're going to struggle.

Of note, I wouldn't put Lakers coach Phil Jackson in this group. He has accounted himself quite well. The Lakers are a far better defensive team than they were last year. And Kobe Bryant has been a far better player this year.

ESPN studio analyst Greg Anthony played for six NBA teams in 11 seasons.

Talk back to the Daily Dime gang

Dimes Past: January 1 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6-8 | 9


Iverson On Target

Undeterred by Sonics center Robert Swift, Allen Iverson drives to the hoop for two of his 41 points in 107-98 win over the Sonics that pushed the Sixers to the .500 mark. Iverson made 15-of-25 shots against the league's worst defense.


Power Rankings: Jazz Hit No. 10
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When you've got Milt Palacio, who needs John Stockton? An exaggeration, perhaps, but for one magical overtime in Motown, you couldn't laugh at that question.

See Marc Stein's power rankings



NBA Intelligence Report

Miller Hopes To Be A Pacer Again
"Brad Miller would be happier, however, with the Pacers, for whom he played 1 1/2 seasons. That's why, following their 25-point victory at Arco Arena, he all but closed his eyes, clicked his heels, and said, 'There's no place like home' as he stood in their locker room. 'If it's possible, when I'm done with this, I'll try to finish up there,' Miller said. 'There won't be an issue of a contract. Whatever it takes. I'll take the minimum.' The minimum? Miller's contract, which does not expire until after the 2009-10 season, will pay him about $68 million. A minimum contract would be quite a drop. By then, however, Miller will be 34 and have more money than he ever dreamed of having. 'I got more money saved up now than what I can spend the rest of my life,' he said." -- Indianapolis Star

Ribbing A Sore Subject To Anthony
"David Harrison, Erick Dampier and David Wesley have all taken their shots at Carmelo Anthony's ribs since he bruised them last week. Considering his history with the Nuggets forward, Phoenix Suns guard Raja Bell seems almost certain to follow suit tonight at the Pepsi Center. But Anthony vowed Monday to play while making exactly zero adjustments to his game. 'All I know is pain, baby,' he said. 'I fight through pain.'" -- Denver Post

Fines Don't Concern Rasheed
"Rasheed Wallace knows the rules, but he is certainly not keeping a running count of his technical fouls or the fines he's accrued. He knows the media will do that for him. He got his ninth technical foul of the season on Saturday, and it is starting to get expensive. The first five cost him $1,000 each. Technicals No. 6 through 9 cost him $1,500 each. So, he's already given back $11,000. The fine will go up after the next one, too. Every one after the 10th will cost him $2,000. 'That does not concern me,' he said after practice Monday. 'I am still going to be me. That's just playing, that's all.' Wallace also knows that after the 15th technical foul, he could face a one-game suspension. 'Not at all,' he said when asked if the prospect of suspension worried him." -- Detroit News

Jackson's A Winning Gamble
"Bobby Jackson admittedly sat confused upon hearing about the July 22 swap that sent Bonzi Wells to Sacramento. Monday, he sat in FedExForum on the eve of the first meeting with his former team and had a clear mind. Who won that trade? Memphis. Of course, Memphis. 'I see it as Sacramento's loss and Memphis' gain right now. We have one of the top four records in the league, and that speaks for itself,' Jackson said." -- Memphis Commercial-Appeal

Read the entire Intelligence Report on ESPN Insider Insider


Motion: 'House Call

Mavs guard Jerry Stackhouse missed the first 26 games of the season with a sore right knee. He returned on Dec. 23. That was three weeks too early for the Celtics, who Monday felt the wrath of a veteran shooter at the buzzer.

'House call



His 45 Collection

Kobe Bryant throws one down with Pacers center Jermaine O'Neal in attendance. Bryant scored 45 points or more for the fourth straight game Monday, leading LA over Indiana.


Extreme Behavior
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Monday's Best
Allen Iverson, Sixers guard: Coming into the season, you'd figure Allen Iverson would need about, oh, 33 shots to get 41 points. The new and improved Answer took 25, getting nine assists and seven boards in a 107-98 win over Seattle.

villanueva

Monday's Worst
Charlie Villanueva, Raptors forward: Check out the rook's game log. Goes from ROY candidate to NBDL fodder (well, not quite) from one night to the next. Chalks up a Fayetteville Patriots-worthy two-point night in a 113-104 loss the the Bulls.

Quote of the Day
"Obviously, I've hit a quite a few shots in this league."
-- Mavs guard Jerry Stackhouse, offering a grin and quote about his winning shot.

See how all 98 who played stacked up

-- Andrew Ayres



Going For Forty
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Kobe Bryant and Allen Iverson both went for over 40 points on Monday. Not surprisingly, the two are 1-2 in number of 40-point games this season.

Iverson leads all active NBA players with 67 40-plus games, with Bryant second at 50. Shaq has 48, Tracy McGrady 36 and Vince Carter has 21.

This Year's 40-Point Game Leaders
Name Number 40-plus
Kobe Bryant 10
Allen Iverson 8
Gilbert Arenas 5
Carmelo Anthony 3
Vince Carter 2
LeBron James 2
Paul Pierce 2

-- ESPN Research



California Screamin'

Ben (Oakland): What is causing the Warriors freefall? How can they stop it?

John Hollinger: One of the reasons Golden State looked so good in the early season was because of their opponents' flukishly low 3-point percentage. Now that the law of averages has kicked in we're seeing more or less the real Warriors -- a .500-ish team that will go in fits and starts all season. One thing that would help, though, is improving Baron Davis's shot selection. I counted four different times in the Indiana game where he took a contested jump shot of at least 20 feet, off the dribble, while 18 or more seconds were left on the shot clock. That's simply unacceptable.

Rob LA: Clippers - descending - how do they turn it around? Is Maggette better as trade bait?

John Hollinger: Same as it's ever been for LA -- because they won't pay for a bench, as soon as somebody gets hurt they go into freefall. It happened last year when Jaric was hurt and this year it's deja vu with Maggette and Ross out. Their best trade bait is Wilcox, since Dunleavy won't play him anyway, and hopefully they'll pull the trigger on something soon.

See John Hollinger's full chat Insider



James: 'Poor Man's Billups'
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Readers on Royce Webb's take on Nets-Raptors clash.

After watching the incident involving Vince Carter and Mo Pete, it was clearly a case where the ref should have taken back his call. I think the league should fine the official. I think if the ref would have done the right thing and changed his call and maybe had given Vince a tech to send a meesage that way, not by sticking to a call that wasn't right.
-- Kato (Newport News)

Mike James is the poor man's Chauncey Billups --the same kind of toughness, defense, and mix of offense. I hope he gets a chance with a good team someday, because Chauncey is really only kicking it into gear 5-7 years into his career, and only getting respect (even now only half of what he deserves.)
-- Jim Harrington

Your comment about the very good play of the Raptors was timely. They have been playing like a 10-15 team in the NBA recently, at home and away from home. I would actually prefer they not perform quite as well though, because I don't think they have the talent to make the jump into the top 10. They would be better off playing poorly and adding a "franchise" type talent via the draft.
-- Derrick (Toronto)

 

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