December 9, 2010 at 1:00 am

Terry Foster: NBA Insider

MSU's Tom Izzo can be thankful he didn't pick Cavaliers

Byron Scott's Cavaliers have lost five in a row and 10 of the last 12. (Amy Sancetta / Associated Press)

Things are not going well for Michigan State coach Tom Izzo. The Spartans are 6-3 and aren't playing like a Final Four team. But at least he is not the Cleveland Cavaliers' coach.

His decision to stay at MSU looks better every day, even though Izzo is not thrilled with the way his team is playing at the moment. At least his team hasn't been blown out five straight games, like the Cavs — giving up triple-digits in all five.

Cavs coach Byron Scott yelled at his team during halftime of a listless 117-97 loss at Philadelphia on Tuesday night. The Cavs (7-14) have given up 100 or more points in 14 games and are 2-12 in those games.

"I feel they hear me," Scott told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "Now the listening part I don't know. I think I was pretty loud and clear at halftime."

It could be Izzo steaming, not Scott. He was courted by Cavs owner Dan Gilbert to take over after Mike Brown was fired. It was not an easy decision for Izzo, trying to figure out if he should stay in East Lansing and coach a potential Final Four team or gamble that LeBron James would stay in Cleveland.

Izzo guessed right. But he probably got the hint that the Green and White was better for him when James refused to return his phone calls.

The Cavs lost all sense of hope when James came in with his new team, the Miami Heat. He dropped 36 points on the Cavs and mostly silenced a hostile crowd that came to boo and heckle James.

James is Public Enemy No. 1 in Cleveland, and since he put the defenseless Cavs in that stranglehold last week, the Cavs have been outscored by an average of 116 points to 94.7 heading into Wednesday night's game against the Bulls.

Scott can't fix this mess, this season, and Izzo couldn't have, either. He chose a greener path, and it turned out to be the correct one, even if it is a little bumpy right now.

Hornet's nest

The NBA Board of Governors is expected to approve a league purchase of the New Orleans Hornets from George Shinn.

The next move could be to Kansas City because the state of Louisiana and New Orleans are not likely to approve tax breaks that NBA commissioner David Stern wants to keep the team in town.

Shinn cannot pay his debts on a loan given to him by the NBA. This is the same owner who moved this franchise out of Charlotte. There were few tears when he left for New Orleans.

Shinn wanted to relocate to Oklahoma City, where his team played for two seasons in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, but Stern would not let him. In the ultimate photo op, Shinn grabbed a microphone during his team's return to New Orleans and screamed: "They told me I was crazy to come back."

The truth is, New Orleans was crazy to welcome him back.

Wait a New York minute

Sometimes, silence is golden. Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony is under the gun again for professing his love for New York and the Knicks. He said, "Who wouldn't want to play here."

This is how Melo tried to clean up the mess, according to the New York Post: "We were at the Garden last season and somebody asked, 'How would you like to play here?' I answered: 'Who wouldn't want to play here?' I knew what people would think when they heard that, but what was I gonna say? 'Who'd wanna play here?' Then I woulda gotten killed for disrespecting the Garden. I couldn't win either way."

Sure you could.

How about no comment?

Executive decision

Add Allan Houston to the list of former Pistons guard that could run a franchise. He recently was named assistant GM of the Knicks after serving as special assistant to the president. President Donnie Walsh has one year left on his contract and is expected to retire soon, opening the door for Houston.

Joe Dumars runs the Pistons and Isiah Thomas ran the Raptors and Knicks.

By the numbers

54.1 — Career-low free-throw percentage this season for Dwight Howard.

50.8 — Team field-goal percentage for the Boston Celtics.

16 — First-half lead changes during a 105-100 Dallas victory over Golden State on Tuesday.

NBA's best

Here are top five NBA players according to a poll conducted by the Sporting News. Polled were current and former players, coaches, general managers and broadcasters.

1. Kobe Bryant, Lakers

2. LeBron James, Heat

3. Dwyane Wade, Heat

4. Kevin Durant, Thunder

5. Dwight Howard, Magic

And not so much

Five members of the Sporting News' top 50 that don't belong:

35. Shaquille O'Neal, Celtics: Shaq is old and tired and can only be effective after long periods of rest.

41. Andrew Bynum, Lakers: Maybe if the guy could stay healthy.

46. Hedu Turkoglu, Suns: He can shoot but is often more diva than player.

47. Antawn Jamison, Cavaliers: He is one of those guys who gets a ton of points when it doesn't matter.

50. Yao Ming, Rockets: Another guy that can't stay healthy.

He said it

"I had to make a life change. I had to leave everything alone that I was doing and the people I was hanging with."

— Knicks forward Shawne Williams in Dime Magazine talking about leaving a life of drugs to get to the NBA

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