(mos def. the wrong AK-47)

Shortly after owner Larry Miller lit into Jazz F Andrei Kirilenko, the team’s dictatorial staff (fresh off Jerry Sloan imposing a curfew) began a brutal crackdown on AK-47’s off-court behavior. From the Salt Lake Tribune’s Phil Miller and Steve Luhm.

When Andrei Kirilenko met with Jazz coaches 10 days ago to discuss his rapidly diminishing affect on games, it was made clear to him what a bad signal he was sending by reading paperbacks at his locker for more than an hour while his teammates are out on the court, warming up. The Russian agreed to stop, and he now spends several more minutes on the floor, shooting around. But like most veterans, he returns to the locker room at least an hour before gametime.

There isn’t much to do for the next 30 minutes, but Kirilenko is careful not to pull out one of his novels, which he devours at an astonishing rate. And while he seems genuinely willing to go along with the book ban, he also clearly believes it’s a little silly. “Books are bad, headphones are good,” is all he would say when I asked him about it, a reference to some of his teammates who listen to music while waiting for gametime.

I’ve been watching Kirilenko’s time-killing with some amusement for the past week, because he hasn’t settled into a new routine yet, he has the nervous energy of a five-year-old, and without those Russian-language novels, he’s obviously not sure what to do with himself.

Kirilenko has been mostly MIA tonight against the Nets (4 points, just two shots from the field) as Utah, without the services of the injured Carlos Boozer, leads 64-60 midway through the 3rd quarter.

Randy Whitman’s 2nd win as T-Wolves head coach could hardly have been bigger, a 121-112 decision that put an end to Phoenix’s 17 game winning streak, the longest in the Association this year. Kevin Garnett scored 44 points and collected 11 rebounds, while the enigmatic Ricky Davis chipped in with 17 points and 8 assists.

The Freedom Fightin’ Owner With A Boner is aghast at the injustice of a 17 year old serving a long prison stretch for receiving a consensual suck-job.

Bench Renaldo’s Marcel Mutoni reports on the star-studded celebrity roast of LeBron James that took place last night, and provides this illuminating remark from Damon Jones ;

“There’s a lot of great comedians on this list. I’m one of them. So I want to be paid like they get paid.”

I’m sure the Cavs would like to see Damon be paid just as much as this great comedian.

After the Knicks’ ghastly showing in Milwaukee yesterday, Newsday’s Alan Hahn vents over 3 recent New York losses that could’ve been avoided.

The games that stand out are Jan. 15 against the Charlotte Bobcats, Jan. 22 at Miami and Sunday™s loss here to the Bucks. Gotta have ˜em. Three killer losses that will come back to haunt you when the playoff standings are settled.

In each game the Knicks had far more talent on the floor, most especially in Miami, when Dwyane Wade and Shaquille O’Neal were out. But in each game the Knicks defense was shredded by high screens that freed up guards to make open shots or blow-by for layps. Matt Carroll. Jason Kapono. Mo Williams. Not exactly the Big Three.

In fact, who the hell is Matt Carroll?

I asked Isiah Thomas about his team’s defense performance, especially against the screens. The was I see it, the Knicks’ interior defenders do a poor job œshowing on the screens to make the guards pause long enough for the Knick guard to get through the screen and recover.

The times the opposing guard does penetrate, another thing I noticed was the Knick bigs rarely, if ever, use a hard foul. Jerome James was in the game early against the Bucks and he actually tried to avoid making contact with Williams as he drove to the basket. This was minutes after he flexed his massive biceps to me and said, “It’s been banned by the NBA. Can’t use ’em anymore.”

Jerome, you have six, baby. Six fouls. And they’re not there to save up for another night.