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Wednesday, November 20
Updated: November 21, 4:48 PM ET
 
Smith scores against Charles with the kiss

By Joe Lago
ESPN.com

THE BOX OUT
PICK AND POPS
1. Jason Williams' pass that got Stromile Swift fouled under the hoop for the OT-forcing free throws Tuesday in Minnesota was the kind of fundamental play Hubie Brown wants from the Grizzlies. OK, it was a behind-the-back pass, but hey, even God couldn't break J-Will from old habits in a week.
2. The Mavericks are taking the right approach with this unbeaten start, knowing that life in a league with a healthy Shaquille O'Neal is much different. Regular-season win streaks don't mean much anyway. Just ask the Oakland A's, who won 20 in a row but got bounced in baseball's first round.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
Better pucker up, baby.
TNT analyst Kenny Smith's advice to Charles Barkley, who'll be kissing Smith's behind Thursday for losing their now-infamous Yao Ming bet.
NUMBER OF THE DAY
.219
The Grizzlies' all-time winning percentage in the month of November (23-82).
TRASH TALK
You had your say. So here are the best comments:

All I can say is Charles Barkley kissed ... er ... bit off more than he could chew.
Andy Smith, Worthington, Ohio

Charles can't help but attempt to ridicule others. He isn't bright enough to know that the joke is ultimately on himself. I sincerely hope he has to pay up. Maybe then he'll be more careful about his statements.
Robin Grant, Bronx, N.Y.

I must agree with Barkley on the best player bit. Come on, no way Yao is better than Francis!!!
Geoff Wilson, Vallejo, Calif.

What's interesting about seeing one man kiss another man's backside? Or any part of his body? I will tune "Inside the NBA" out for that sad stunt.
Keith Holloway, Cedartown, Ga.

Charles can always claim that Yao didn't score 19 points. He scored 20.
Jason, Dallas, Texas

It's the November sweeps period, and in an effort to get bigger ratings, TV networks rely on all sorts of gimmicks to pump up viewership. There's the cameo appearances trick (like the upcoming guest spots of Christina Applegate and Julia Roberts on "Friends"). And there's the "to be continued" ploy in which you're forced to tune in next week to find out how the story ends ("24" used this for an entire season).

TNT's "Inside the NBA" will have a ratings boon on its hands Thursday and it didn't even expect it.

Charles Barkley certainly didn't.

Barkley is expected to pay up on his bet with colleague Kenny Smith -- that Yao Ming wouldn't score 19 points in a game this season -- and kiss Smith's derriere on the show's set in Atlanta. No TV smooch has gotten this much attention since "Ellen."

The Chuckster is not getting out of it, too. Smartly, Smith has refused to answer Barkley's calls, and he's even turned off his cell phone.

Will TNT be able to sneak this past censors to document the event? "This is cable, so we've got a lot more flexibility," Smith said Wednesday. "All I'm going to say is that I'm going to come out on top. I will not look foolish."

The late Brandon Tartikoff couldn't have come up with better timing. Three nights after Barkley's latest Yao bashing -- with apologies to Conan O'Brien, it was one of the funniest bits on late-night TV in quite some time -- the No. 1 overall pick scored a career-high 20 points in the Rockets' 93-89 road win over the Lakers. In the three games since The Bet, Yao has made 18 of 20 shots from the field.

Smith is expected to collect at halftime of Thursday's Rockets-Mavericks game.

"The guy's in hiding, man," Smith said. "He tried to call me because I saw the 602 (area code) in Phoenix (where Barkley lives). I wouldn't even answer it if it was him."

Barkley ridiculed Smith on the air ever since Smith said Yao was the Rockets' best player. "He said, 'Are you crazy? Have you heard of Steve Francis? Cuttino Mobley?" Smith recalled. Smith remembered the drastic improvement of Kevin Garnett during his rookie season and figured Yao would do the same. He even researched Garnett's stats from his first 15 games. Yao's numbers were similar.

"That's what made me say it (that) Yao's going to have a big game," Smith said. "That's when Charles said if Yao Ming scores 19 points I'll kiss your ass. Lo and behold, in the same week, Yao has 20 points."

Barkley won't be the first sports analyst to be embarrassed on national TV. At the U.S. Open, tennis commentator John McEnroe promised to stand on his head if Richard Krajicek lost all six of his match points to Jan Siemerink in a fourth-set tie-breaker. McEnroe was in the booth upside down the next night.

McEnroe had a pillow to rest his head. There will be nothing to soften the, um, kiss for Barkley -- or Smith.

Said Smith: "I told him that I still lose if I win because of you kissing me."

David Wesley
Wesley
Clutch!
David Wesley happened to be standing in the right place when Jamal Mashburn's attempt at the game-winning shot grazed the front rim, the rebound slipped through the hands of Brian Skinner and Eric Snow and the ball bounced straight to the Hornets guard. Wesley's catch-and-release jumper beat the buzzer and the 76ers in a 99-98 victory.

Clang!
This isn't intended for the entire Grizzlies squad, only the starting five. Drew Gooden, Pau Gasol, Stromile Swift, Gordan Giricek and Jason Williams shot a combined 17-for-48 (.354) as Memphis fell to 0-11 in Tuesday's 110-106 overtime loss at Minnesota. Perhaps, with its 20-of-40 effort, the bench -- Shane Battier, Wesley Person, Lorenzen Wright, Earl Watson and Mike Batiste -- will get more playing time from Hubie Brown.

Joe Lago, NBA editor for ESPN.com, writes Morning Shootaround every Wednesday and Friday.





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