Category Archives: NBA

Siakam and Trent Jr. lead Raptors past Hornets, 125-113

Pascal Siakam had 24 points and matched his career high with 12 assists, Gary Trent Jr. scored a season-best 32 and the Toronto Raptors never trailed in a 125-113 triumph over the Charlotte Hornets on Tuesday night.

OG Anunoby added 24 points, Chris Boucher had 12, Malachi Flynn 11 and Dalano Banton 10 as the short-handed Raptors overcame the absences of starters Fred VanVleet and Scottie Barnes. VanVleet sat out with a sore right knee, and Barnes was scratched less than an hour before tipoff because of a sore right wrist.

With VanVleet unavailable, Siakam started at point guard. He wasted no time showing off his playmaking skills, registering four assists in each of the first two quarters.

“I’m just trying to be an overall player,” Siakam said. “I feel like I can do that most nights, just being the best player out there and making my teammates better. That’s the role I’m trying to take on.”

Siakam was replaced with 3:07 to play and Toronto leading by 17. He concluded with nine rebounds, narrowly missing his second career triple-double. Siakam lost a triple-double in a Jan. 15 win at Milwaukee when the NBA took two rebounds away from him following the game.

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“As long as we win, man, I’m cool,” Siakam said. “To be out there getting wins is more important to me.”

LaMelo Ball scored 25 points and Miles Bridges had 22 for the Hornets, who had won three consecutive road games but also were missing key players. Gordon Hayward (sore right foot) and Jalen McDaniels (sprained left ankle) both sat out for the second consecutive game.

James Bouknight scored 18 points, and Mason Plumlee and Terry Rozier each had 12.

“Not enough defense in this game, period,” Hornets coach James Borrego said. “First quarter, got off to a poor start defensively, and it carried through.”

Toronto came in trailing Charlotte by 2½ games in the Eastern Conference.

The Raptors (23-22) have played three fewer games than the Hornets (26-22).

“It’s important,” Siakam said of maintaining position in the tightly packed standings. “We’re all right there. You go into a little slump and it could be the end of the season for you.”

After scoring a season-low 34 points in the first half of Sunday’s loss to Portland, Toronto shot 16 for 26 in the opening period, including 7 for 11 from 3-point range, to lead 39-27 after one.

“It just seemed like every time we were going to shoot the other night, it wasn’t going to go in,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said of Sunday, when his team shot 5 for 26 in the first quarter. “Everybody that stepped into one tonight, you thought they were going to make them.”

Bridges and Bouknight each scored 13 points in the second, but Toronto kept up its hot shooting, connecting on 13 of 21 attempts. The Raptors led 76-61 at halftime, their highest-scoring half of the season.

“They had great rhythm, they stepped into all their shots, and they got second opportunities,” Plumlee stated. Charlotte opened the third quarter with a 14-2 run, cutting the deficit to 78-75 with 7:29 left, but Trent scored 14 points as the Raptors pulled away again, taking a 105-86 lead into the fourth.

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Milwaukee Bucks’ Grayson Allen suspended one game for foul on Chicago Bulls’ Alex Caruso

The NBA on Sunday suspended the Milwaukee Bucks’ Grayson Allen for one game for his flagrant 2 foul on Alex Caruso that caused a fractured wrist for the Chicago Bulls guard.

The league punished Allen, who was ejected from the Bucks’ 94-90 triumph over the Bulls on Friday night after receiving the flagrant 2 foul, for what it deemed was “unnecessary and excessive contact,” according to a news release. Allen will serve his suspension during the Bucks’ next game versus the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday.

The Bucks said in a statement that they “disagree” with the suspension. “We disagree with the suspension. We support Grayson and look forward to him rejoining our team for Friday’s game vs. New York,” the team said

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Caruso is arranged to have wrist surgery Monday that will sideline him for six to eight weeks.

“Nothing is changing from what happened the other night to where we are now, and the best thing we can do as a team is just move on,” Bulls coach Billy Donovan said during a video conference before Sunday night’s 114-95 loss to the Orlando Magic.

“That’s really the only thing we have control over. I feel bad for Alex that he’s going to be out this long more so than anything else.”

Friday marked the first time this season Allen, who is in his first season with the Bucks, has been called for a flagrant foul and only the second time in his NBA career. In 2019, he was ejected from a Summer League game for picking up two flagrant fouls within seconds of each other.

The suspension will cost Allen a $27,963 game check, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks.

Although the Bulls are poised to be without Caruso and Lonzo Ball, who is scheduled to undergo knee surgery this week, they could be getting some reinforcements back from injuries soon. 

Zach LaVine (knee) and Javonte Green (groin) are both expected to meet the team on Monday in Oklahoma City. Donovan stated there is “a chance” both players are available to play.

“Provided everything goes well,” Donovan said. “We’ll see where they’re at physically.”

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Ball’s triple-double carries Hornets past Celtics, 111-102

LaMelo Ball had a triple-double with 15 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists to lead the Charlotte Hornets to a 111-102 triumph over the Boston Celtics on Wednesday night.

Terry Rozier led Charlotte with 28 points against his former team. Miles Bridges scored 22 and Kelly Oubre Jr. added 18 for the Hornets, who won for the ninth time in 12 matches.

“To come in here and get a win — we want to make a statement,” Rozier said. “We want to get to where they’re at as an organization.”

Dennis Schröder paced Boston with 24 points. Jaylen Brown scored 21 and Al Horford had 13 points and 10 rebounds.

“I thought we had a lot of good looks and we moved the ball really well,” Brown said. “They made a lot of tough baskets. They came and outplayed us.”

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Boston star Jayson Tatum was hampered by foul trouble and concluded with just 12 points on 5-of-19 shooting in 35 minutes. The Celtics had won five of six.

“I thought part of the foul trouble affected him overall as well as some other guys,” Celtics coach Ime Udoka said. “That was my message to the team: Impact the game when the shot’s not falling.”

The Celtics were just 14 of 46 on 3-point attempts.

Boston sliced a 12-point deficit to 88-84 early in the final quarter but Charlotte scored 10 of the next 14 points, pulling ahead 98-88 on Oubre’s 3-pointer from the left wing with 4:55 to play. Ball had nailed a 3 from the left corner two minutes earlier.

“The competitiveness and resiliency was there in the fourth quarter,” Hornets coach James Borrego said.

The Celtics cut it to 102-96 on Horford’s 3 with 2:48 left, but Ball nailed a 3 from in front of Boston’s bench and Rozier followed with one on the Hornets’ next possession.

Boston trimmed the margin to six one more time, but Rozier nailed another 3 to seal it in the final minute.

Ball grabbed a rebound with 0.2 seconds left to complete his triple-double. He said Bridges reminded him how close he was.

“He was like: ‘Box out and you’ll get that last rebound,’” Ball said, pointing to Bridges sitting next to him at the postgame news conference. ”I said, ‘Oh, you’re right!”

Rozier hit three from beyond the arc in a 62-second span of the third quarter, pushing the Hornets’ lead to 75-61. They were up 86-74 entering the fourth.

“To be the best, you’ve got to beat the best,” Rozier said. “We just want to keep going. We’re not satisfied. We’ve got to stay humble and keep on having fun and playing out there. That’s the main thing.”

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LA Clippers extending Paul George’s period of rest a few more weeks to see how elbow responds

The LA Clippers are extending Paul George’s period of rest for the torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow a few more weeks to see how it responds, sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

George has not played since scoring 17 points in a victory at the Sacramento Kings on Dec. 22.

He initially suffered a sprained elbow versus the Portland Trail Blazers on Dec. 6, and rested and rehabbed for two weeks, missing five matches.

He felt better and returned to play in two games, but after feeling pain in the elbow, he underwent an MRI and the Clippers revealed on Dec. 25 that he had a torn UCL in his shooting elbow.

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The initial timetable George would need to see how the elbow healed was three to four weeks before being reevaluated.

The Clippers were 17-15 when George last played. Without their star guard, the Clippers have gone 5-8 since.

Coach Ty Lue’s team has been hit hard by injuries and COVID-19. It entered the season without Kawhi Leonard, who is rehabbing a torn ACL suffered in Game 4 of the Clippers’ second-round series against the Utah Jazz on June 14.

They also have had to play stretches without starters such as Reggie Jackson, Marcus Morris Sr. and Ivica Zubac at times this season.

The Clips enter a difficult stretch in which they play their next eight games on the road.

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Brooklyn Nets expect Kevin Durant to miss 4-6 weeks with sprained MCL

After the Brooklyn Nets diagnosed All-NBA forward Kevin Durant with a sprained MCL of his left knee, the franchise expects a four- to six-week rehabilitation before his come back, sources told ESPN.

Durant underwent imaging on Sunday morning after Saturday night’s injury, and a realistic benchmark for Durant could be a return following the All-Star break (Feb. 18-23), sources said. Nevertheless, the organization will err on the side of caution when it comes to Durant’s return.

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There was relief around the Nets that the injury wasn’t more serious, and hopefulness that he will make a full return to health in plenty of time for the playoffs. Durant left Saturday night’s game after teammate Bruce Brown fell into his knee on a play in the second quarter.

Brooklyn plays 11 of its next 14 games on the road, and thus it expects to have a Kyrie Irving-James Harden backcourt together for those matches. Irving is playing only road games because of his status as an unvaccinated player.

The Nets won 16 of 19 games last season when they had Irving and Harden together, but no Durant, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

Durant has had an MVP-caliber season, averaging a league-leading 29.3 points, along with 7.4 rebounds and 5.8 assists.

Brooklyn (27-15) is a half-game behind the Chicago Bulls for first place in the Eastern Conference.

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Milwaukee Bucks stomp Golden State Warriors, keep ‘building good habits’ vs. elite teams

The Milwaukee Bucks delivered another statement victory Thursday night with a 118-99 thumping of the Golden State Warriors, continuing their trend of being at their best this season when matched up versus other likely title contenders.

The Bucks blitzed the Warriors from the start, jumping out to a 39-point halftime lead, Golden State’s largest halftime deficit since the franchise moved from Philadelphia.

In the past week, the Bucks have won handily against the Warriors and Brooklyn Nets — whom they also beat on opening night in Milwaukee — a pair of teams they could see on the path to attempt to repeat as NBA champions.

“I don’t know why we play well in big games, but at the end of the day we’ve got to just keep building good habits moving forward,” said Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo, who finished with 30 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists in 30 minutes.

“Big games with big excitement or even games nobody watches, nobody cares about, we have to keep building good habits, so we can be good in May and June.”

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Milwaukee had coach Mike Budenholzer back on the sideline after clearing health and safety protocols but was playing without guard Jrue Holiday, its best perimeter defender, who missed his fourth consecutive game with an ankle. Still, the Bucks were able to contain Warriors star Stephen Curry with a smothering defensive effort.

Curry was 4-of-11 shooting in the game (2 for 6 from 3) for 12 points. He has shot less than 50% from the field in eight consecutive games, the longest streak of his career, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. Golden State finished 3-for-14 from the field with three turnovers and seven points when the Bucks sent a double team at Curry.

“Milwaukee is a good team. They obviously have championship DNA now,” Curry said, “and present some challenges in terms of putting pressure on the interior end and spacing. We just got off to a terrible start where everything went wrong.”

The Warriors have dropped four of their past five games overall and Curry is mired in one of the worst shooting slumps of his career, but they were not panicking about their recent skid.

“To be honest, I’m not that concerned,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr stated after the game. “I know we just got our butts kicked. We’re just in a rough patch in our season. Happens to every team, every year pretty much, with very few exceptions. We’re in a little bit of a rut. We played a team that was ready and played great … And so we’re a little out of sorts, and we just got to get back on track.”

Golden State will play the Bulls in the second half of a back-to-back on Friday night in Chicago. Klay Thompson, who scored 11 points on 3 of 11 shooting in 21 minutes, is not expected to play as the Warriors ease him back into action after missing more than two years because of injuries.

The Bucks, meanwhile, have continued to roll against some of the stiffest competition in the league because of dominant performances by Antetokounmpo.

On Thursday, Antetokounmpo finished a perfect 9-for-9 inside the restricted area with four dunks. He scored on four different primary defenders, (including 4-for-4 against Andre Iguodala) and hit all seven of his wide-open shots.

Even when the Warriors forced him into a pass, he routinely made the right read — the Bucks shot 11 of 16 (30 points) off Antetokounmpo’s passes, according to research by ESPN Stats & Information.

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With Harden out, Trail Blazers down the Nets 114-108

Anfernee Simons had 23 points and 11 assists, and the short-handed Portland Trail Blazers took advantage of James Harden’s absence for a 114-108 triumph over the Brooklyn Nets on Monday night.

Harden was out with a hyperextended left knee. Kyrie Irving started in his second match of the season and finished with 22 points. Kevin Durant led all scorers with 28 points and 10 rebounds for the Nets.

Robert Covington had 21 points, including five 3-pointers, for the Blazers, who saw all five starters score in double figures.

Simons stated Covington’s play against Durant boosted the team.

“I think RoCo did a good job of playing him the second half,” Simons said. “So that was that was big for us to slow him down and just kind of play team defense. We’ve been playing very hard, we’ve been making a lot less mistakes on defense. That’s been helping us.”

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Monday’s game was initially scheduled for Dec. 23 but was postponed because of COVID-19 issues.

In making up the game, both teams were playing the second of back-to-backs.

Portland led 87-81 going into the final quarter. Covington’s 3-pointer put Portland up 107-100 with 2:15 to go but the Nets closed within 110-105 down the stretch.

Ben McLemore’s 3 with 31.9 seconds left made it 113-105 and sealed it for Portland. McLemore finished with 20 points and five 3s.

“Certainly nobody in the world thought that we would win this game with the guys that we have missing, even though they’re missing some important players too,” Portland first-year coach Chauncey Billups said. “I’m more happy than anything for our team, to be honest. We’ve suffered a lot of losses in this building, a lot of bad losses.”

The Blazers again were without Damian Lillard, out with lower abdominal tendinopathy, and backcourt teammate CJ McCollum, who has been out for 14 games after a collapsed lung. Fellow starters Norman Powell (COVID-19 protocols) and Larry Nance Jr. (right knee) were also out for Portland.

Meanwhile, Nets coach Steve Nash said the team was being cautious with Harden in a dense stretch of games and that Harden should be available on Wednesday at Chicago.

Irving, who has refused to get the COVID-19 vaccine and is barred from playing in New York due to the city’s vaccine mandate, has resumed playing on the road. For his first game last week at Indiana, he finished with 22 points in nearly 32 minutes.

Irving appeared to tweak his ankle in the fourth quarter but afterward said he was fine and would play Wednesday. He criticized Portland’s Nassir Little for diving on the play: “I tried to get out of the way but I just felt like it was unnecessary for him to dive that far away from the ball.”

Brooklyn led 62-55 at the break, paced by Durant with 20 points. It was his 19th straight game with 20 or more points, the second-longest streak of 20-point games in Nets history.

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Klay Thompson makes season debut for Golden State Warriors

Klay Thompson is back.

And it didn’t take long for Thompson to prove he should be back to his All-Star self in no time.

The Golden State guard made his season debut Sunday in the Warriors’ 96-82 victory versus the Cleveland Cavaliers. It was Thompson’s first game since Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals – a span covering 941 days following a torn ACL and Achilles tendon.

“Very special moment,” Thompson said.

“I’ll never forget this night. I’ll never forget the reception Warriors fans gave us, especially myself. Gosh, it was fun. It was worth every single day of being away. All the conditioning days, it was worth every single moment. I’m so grateful to just compete again. It’s been a long time. I’m also proud of myself for just persevering. I’m not going to say it was equivalent to winning a championship, but man, it was pretty freaking close.”

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Thompson, who was in the starting lineup alongside longtime teammates Steph Curry and Draymond Green, had 17 points, including seven quick points at the start of the third quarter, on 7-for-18 shooting and 3-for-8 on 3-pointers in 20 minutes.

“Wasn’t shy was he? Not that we would ever expect Klay to be shy,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr stated. “I was amazed at his poise out there and his confidence after being out for so long. … A beautiful night.”

Of the 18 shots in 20 minutes, Curry said, “That is so Klay Thompson.”

Thompson dropped in a runner in the paint with 11:20 left in the first quarter on the Warriors’ first possession, but Golden State coach Steve Kerr stated he didn’t call the play for Thompson who missed his first three 3-point attempts and checked out with 7:37 left in the first quarter.

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Paul has triple-double, NBA-leading Suns top Clippers 106-89

Chris Paul and the Phoenix Suns have turned into some of the league’s best closers. It’s a big reason they’ve reached 30 victories before any other team in the NBA this season.

Paul had a triple-double with 14 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists, and the Suns improved to 25-0 when leading after three quarters by defeating the Los Angeles Clippers 106-89 on Thursday night.

As usual, the 36-year-old Paul was the maestro making big plays in the final minutes to close out the Clippers. He hit a crucial 3-pointer and had five assists in the fourth quarter.

“Some teams’ biggest issue is that they don’t know what they want to run or who they want to go to down the stretch,” Paul said. “I think we have a good sense of that. We know what our go-to plays are.”

The Suns moved a game ahead of Golden State for the best record in the league. They’ve won three consecutive and four of five. That’s despite several players missing considerable time this season, including All-Star guard Devin Booker.

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“I just think the players have done a really good job of driving our culture,” Suns coach Monty Williams said. “We have unreal guard play, which really helps.”

Paul continues to look 26 years old instead of 36, doing a little of everything to keep the Suns among the league’s elite.

His 13 rebounds were a career high in his 1,128th regular-season NBA game.

Cam Johnson added a career-high 24 points, and Jalen Smith — the second-year forward whose playing time has drastically increased recently because of the Suns’ COVID-19 issues — had another good game with 19 points and 14 rebounds.

“We’re having a lot of fun playing together,” Johnson said. “Things are starting to click.”

Those performances helped offset a tough night for Booker, who shot just 5 of 22 from the field and finished with 11 points. He was 0 of 7 on 3-pointers.

Williams stated center Deandre Ayton, forward Jae Crowder and JaVale McGee have all cleared the league’s COVID-19 protocols, but were held out of the game as they work their way back into shape. Guard Landry Shamet is still in the protocol.

The Clippers dropped below .500 at 19-20 despite a season-high 26 points from former Suns forward Marcus Morris Sr. Reggie Jackson added 16. The Clippers were missing guards Luke Kennard and Xavier Moon, along with center Ivica Zubac, because of COVID-19 protocols.

“We scraped and competed,” Clippers coach Ty Lue said. “That is a good ball club over there and they played well. Their stars took over down the stretch and took over the game.”

The Suns led by 17 points midway through the third quarter, but the Clippers cut it to 73-66 in the next few minutes. The Suns took a 75-66 lead into the final quarter.

The Clippers pulled to 79-76 with 8:36 left when Amir Coffey converted a three-point play after making a layup while being fouled. But the Suns responded with the next six points and slowly pulled away.

The Suns jumped out to a 56-40 halftime lead after outscoring the Clippers by 15 in the second quarter. Johnson led the Suns with 17 points before the break. Morris had 13 for the Clippers.

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Brooklyn Nets’ Kyrie Irving shows early rust, finishes with 22 in debut vs. Pacers

Kyrie Irving provided the emotional lift the Brooklyn Nets were hoping to see in his season debut Wednesday night in a 129-121 victory over the Indiana Pacers.

Not only did Irving show flashes of his old form, posting 22 points, four assists, three rebounds and three steals in 32 minutes, he offered a reminder of just how dangerous the Nets can be when he shares the floor with Kevin Durant and James Harden.

With Irving hitting several crucial baskets down the stretch, the Nets erased what was a 19-point Pacers lead on their way to the victory.

After it was over, Irving admitted having some nerves in his return but said he was just happy to be on the floor after missing the first three months of the year.

“Just a lot of gratitude just to be present tonight with everyone,” Irving said. “Just go out there and have fun doing what we love to do. It was a not-so-good first half for us, and we came in the locker room and we knew that in order to build this identity that we want to have later in the season we got to start now.”

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Irving, who isn’t vaccinated against COVID-19, making him ineligible to play in home matches because of New York City’s vaccine mandate, wasn’t on the floor to start the season because the Nets decided before the season that they didn’t want to have a part-time player. However, after a COVID-19 outbreak decimated the Nets’ roster, the decision was made to let Irving to rejoin the team as a player who could participate only in road games.

Before getting up from the podium, Irvin smiled when asked if that meant getting vaccinated was still a possibility.

“Oh come on, man,” Irving said. “Don’t hang onto me.”

With Irving back on the court Wednesday night, the Nets’ offense looked dynamic at times again with so many All-Stars on the floor.

Durant, who scored a game-high 39 points, said it was “incredible” to have Irving back.

Irving showed a little early rust in the first quarter, going 0-for-3 from the field with two turnovers, but he settled in and started to find a rhythm.

Harden said he knows it’s going to take a little more time for the Nets to come together with Irving back in the fold, but the sense of belief Irving brought back to the floor was palpable.

“It’s special,” Harden said. “It felt like he’s been playing all season. He looked comfortable as usual, his pace, his rhythm. It looked like Kyrie.”

Several players and coaches echoed that sentiment after watching Irving go back to work. Irving’s next game will be next Monday in Portland, in a game that was originally scheduled to be played on Dec. 23 but had to be postponed because the Nets were dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak.

Nets coach Steve Nash stated he is hopeful he can keep ramping up Irving’s minutes as the Nets look to maintain the momentum they found in the fourth quarter, when Irving had 10 points and helped the Nets outscore the Pacers 35-20.

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