Artest could lead Scream Team

Count Houston Chronicle columnist Richard Justice among those who think the Rockets got the best of the Ron Artest-Trevor Ariza signings. Artest signed with the Los Angeles Lakers and Ariza with Houston last week.

Wrote Justice: "There were nights when (Artest) played like one of the NBA's 10 best players. There were way too many nights when his focus and behavior were off the charts.

"He screamed at the young point guards so much that he finally was told to stop. He would agree he shouldn't do it and would promise to stop. Then a game or two later, he'd be back out there on the perimeter, demanding the ball, then dribbling away the 24-second clock or bulling his way into the lane."

Justice thinks Rockets coach Rick Adelman "was brilliant with Artest. He explained why he was doing certain things, never showed his anger when Artest didn't do them.

"He was exactly the right coach for Artest, yet Artest simply wasn't worth the trouble."

HEIR JORDAN --Jeff Jordan, son of Michael Jordan, announced last week that he was leaving the Illinois basketball team after two seasons to concentrate on his studies.

Notes Reggie Hayes of the Fort Wayne (Ind.) News-Sentinel: "The good news is they don't chant 'Daddy's better!' in chemistry class."

WIPED OUT --Gary Loewen of the Toronto Sun, on the lack of a British singles champion at Wimbledon since Virginia Wade in 1977 -- and no men's champion since Fred Perry in 1936: "Since then, it has all been strawberries and creamed."

FROM RUSSIA, WITH PUCKS -- Russians Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin and Pavel Datsyuk were the top three vote-getters for the NHL's Hart Trophy.

Wrote Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: "Or as puck pundits redubbed this year's Most Valuable Player race, the Molson's Three Tsars."

TURKEY DRESSING -- The Braves are 7-0 when right fielder Jeff Francoeur wears his lucky "turkey underwear," the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported.

But he hasn't had to face White Sox pitcher Jimmy Gobble.

WHAT, NO WRITTEN TEST? -- Here is the job description for a "Bunnette" -- the woman assigned to count a competitor's intake at the annual July 4 Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest -- according to Major League Eating's Web site:

"A woman, seductive by disposition, who is passionate about the sport of competitive eating and its practitioners ... more beautiful than Miss America, hotter than a Cowboys cheerleader and more talented than Vanna White."

HUMOROUS HEADLINES -- At, with bad news for March Madness office pools: "Study finds working at work improves productivity."

And at "World-record 100-meter time of 0.82 seconds determined to be tornado-aided."

MINUS MASCARA -- Sarah Palin, the soon-to-be former Alaska governor, to Runners World magazine, on why nobody recognizes her when she's out running: "Because I'm not wearing a trough full of makeup."