Category Archives: NBA

Lakers fall in their heaviest defeat of the season

More than half of the fourth quarter remained when the Lakers started to admit defeat.

LeBron James sat, so did Anthony Davis, and the Boston Celtics started pulling their starters too. They led the Lakers by 31 points — the largest deficit the Lakers had faced all campaign.

On the parquet floor versus their hated rivals, there were few friendly faces, and much of the crowd at TD Garden kept the arena packed in garbage time to revel in the one-night derailing of one of the NBA’s hottest teams.

The Lakers came into the match having won 10 of their last 11 games, including four of five without Davis, and the Celtics came into the game on a three-game losing streak, having lost six of their last eight.

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But their recent history wasn’t predictive. The Celtics beat the Lakers, 139-107.

“It was just a good ol’ …” James said before pausing. Then he continued. “Good ol’ fashioned butt-whooping. That’s all. They beat us in all facets of the game. Outside, interior, points off turnovers, offensive rebounds, so it’s the main ingredients in the L.”

The loss dropped the Lakers to 34-9, still best in the West, while the Celtics improved to 28-14, good for fourth in the East.

Davis returned and finished with nine points, two assists and four rebounds in 23 minutes. James scored 15 points with 13 assists and seven rebounds. Boston was led by Jayson Tatum, who scored 27 points with five rebounds and three assists. Jaylen Brown and Kemba Walker also notched 20 points each for the Celtics. It was the first time in his career, out of 29 tries, that Walker won a game versus James.

The Lakers have been remarkably consistent versus teams with poor records — they are 22-1 against them. But their games against the NBA’s better teams have had peaks and valleys. They are 10-4 against the top seven teams in the Western Conference, but have lost to four of the top five teams in the East — Milwaukee, Toronto, Boston and Indiana.

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Bulls´ Daniel Gafford to miss 2-4 weeks with dislocated thumb

Two minutes into Wednesday night’s home match versus the Washington Wizards, rookie center Daniel Gafford ran off the court gripping his right thumb.

Based on the broadcast’s feed, it’s hard to tell exactly what happened, but according to NBC Sports Chicago’s Tony Gill, those on the floor could see that Gafford’s thumb “went backward.”

Shortly after he left the game, the Bulls informed he would not return and simply reported a “right thumb injury.” However, The Athletic’s Sham Charania swooped in a couple of minutes later and announced Gafford would miss 2-4 weeks with a dislocated right thumb.

With the Bulls already down Wendell Carter Jr. until at least mid-February, they were relying heavily on Gafford to handle the team’s rim-protecting duties.

But now, the team will be down to just Luke Kornet and Cristiano Felicio as the only two centers on the roster. Of course, as a seven-footer, Lauri Markkanen can be shifted over to play underneath the basket as well, though it’s never been his strong suit.

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Gafford was picked by Chicago in the second round of last year’s draft.

He was averaging 4.9 points and 2.5 rebounds coming into the game.

Carter again is out, this time with a severely sprained right ankle that will sideline him for four to six weeks. With both Carter and Gafford out, coach Jim Boylen used Luke Kornet initially. He also featured some lineups with Lauri Markkanen at center.

“It’s real disappointing,” Gafford said, who had been starting for Carter. “As much as I want to be out there, I’m going to have to take this time to recover and make sure I can go back out there and do the things that I’ve always been able to do. It’s taken a toll on me right now.”

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Lakers´ Rajon Rondo with finger fracture; Anthony Davis misses third consecutive game

Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis missed his third consecutive match with a bruised backside while guard Rajon Rondo, with a hand injury, also sat versus the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday.

Frank Vogel said that Davis has made progress, but is still dealing with some soreness. However, he expects his team to compete at the same level they played at when they upset the Thunder this past weekend.

“We’ve been without AD for a couple of games now, so hopefully we’ve found a little rhythm with what those lineups are going to look like, with (Kyle Kuzma) starting at the four and (Jared Dudley) backing him up,” Vogel said.

Rajon Rondo was also out of Monday night’s game versus the Cleveland Cavaliers after an MRI revealed a non-displaced volar plate avulsion fracture of the right ring finger. 

Rondo suffered the injury against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday.

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Davis worked out on the court before the Cavs game, but Vogel said the Lakers’ star big man “still had some soreness” and was “still not ready” to return. Vogel, who said the Lakers would take the “long-term, marathon approach” with Davis’ injury when asked about it last week, was asked how healthy Davis would need to be in order to return to the court.

“I don’t know if it’s going to be 100 percent pain free,” Vogel said. “It’s really just going to be day-to-day and he’ll communicate with the medical team and we want him as close to pain-free as possible. But I don’t know if it’s 100 percent, 99 percent. They’ll tell me when he’s ready.”

L.A. started LeBron James, Avery Bradley, Danny Green, Kyle Kuzma and McGee in a 128-99 victory over the Cavaliers.

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Kyrie Irving returns, leads Nets past Hawks

The Brooklyn Nets will take whatever they can get after seeing how much a healthy Irving means to them.

The point guard scored 21 points in 20 minutes in his return from an injured right shoulder, leading the Nets to a 108-86 win over the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday.

Irving made a career-best 90.9 percent of his shots after missing 26 games with an impingement. The shoulder looked fine and his handle looked as good as ever while he dribbled his way around a hopeless Atlanta defense.

Energized by his return that still seemed a ways away just a week ago, the Nets led by 39 points and won their second straight after dropping seven in a row.

“We had a certain confidence about us tonight that I think we were missing during that streak,” Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said. “So great, great timing having him back.” Cam Reddish scored 20 points for the Hawks, who played without star guard Trae Young due to a left hamstring injury and lost their fourth straight.

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The Nets made it such an easy night that their fans didn’t need to worry about the scoreboard as they roared for Vince Carter’s two 3-pointers in the fourth quarter.

The 42-year-old former Nets star ended with eight points in his final road appearance versus the franchise.

“Obviously to come back here, and some of the other stops I’ve played for, and just kind of to receive a standing O for one last time is just great,” Carter said.

Irving started feeling pain in his shoulder early in the season, and he took himself out of the lineup after a game in Denver on Nov. 14. The Nets held up well without him for a while thanks mostly to Spencer Dinwiddie’s strong play, but had faltered recently, especially in crunch time.

Irving got a cortisone shot on Dec. 24 and returned to full practice this week, just in time to return on his sister’s birthday.

“It’s not really a surprise for me,” Irving said of his performance. “I put in the work and when I do that I feel like the results will come.”

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Nets´ Irving hopes to return within a week

Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving has hopes of being back on the court before 2020 gets too far along.

Irving has been out of the lineup for nearly two months because of a right shoulder issue. However, he told reporters Thursday he expects to be re-evaluated next week. Just being cleared to play is a big step to Irving.

“We just see where we end up in the next few days,” Irving said. “Realistically, we will re-evaluate tomorrow. See how I feel tomorrow. Then go Saturday — probably another practice.”

There is no exact date for his return, but Irving said Thursday he’s assigned himself a deadline of one week.

“Hopefully I get some game reps in addition to practice probably in the next week or so, it could be less than that but I’ll give myself a week.”

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Irving was able to fully participate in practices for the first time on Thursday, which included him going through some 5-on-5 contact drills, ESPN’s Malika Andrews reports. He said that a week and a half ago, he started to do 2-on-2 work with coaches as he slowly started ramping up his workload. 

When asked if there are any limitations about what he’s able to do, he said he has none “other than just keeping my shoulder maintenance program going before I get on the floor.”

Irving has played in just 11 games this season, averaging 28.5 points, 5.4 rebounds and 7.2 assists.

In the latest NBA All-Star Voting returns, Irving ranks second in the Eastern Conference among guards with 1,351,997 votes. He saw nothing wrong with him being so up in the voting tallies despite playing in so few games.

“I put a lot of work in this league to be up there whether I’m playing or not,” Irving said. “If it’s an All-Star Game, then I would vote for myself as well.”

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Anthony Davis leaves with lower back injury after scary fall

Anthony Davis exits the Los Angeles Lakers’ game versus the New York Knicks in the third quarter Tuesday night after he bruised his lower back in a painful fall to the court.

Davis was injured when he fell awkwardly while trying to block the shot of New York’s Julius Randle. Davis pounded the court in obvious pain after his hard landing, and then clutched his backside while he stayed down on the floor, surrounded by Lakers medical personnel for several minutes in front of a hushed crowd at Staples Center.

Davis eventually rose with help from his teammates, and he walked to the Lakers’ dressing room slowly, but under his own power. After the initial shock of the fall wore off, Davis was able to walk more in the player tunnel but was ultimately carted out of the arena at the end of the night to undergo further testing.

Davis’ agent, Rich Paul, emerged from the Lakers’ locker room after the injury and stated X-rays on Davis’ back were negative, but the superstar is feeling sore.

The Lakers described the injury as a bruised sacrum — the lower part of the spine near the tailbone.

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“We hope that he’ll be fine, which we believe he’ll be fine,”LeBron James said. “Tough night for us.”

The Lakers led 81-62 with 2:45 left in the third quarter when Davis took his tumble. They went on to win 117-87, extending their streak to six games and improving their overall record to 30-7.

“I thought they locked back in,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said of how his team responded to one of its stars going down. “Got focused and finished the job.”

When players came backx to the locker room after the final buzzer, Davis was in there waiting for them.

“He was great,” James said of the encounter. “His mood was great. As great as it can be with the fall that he took … I asked him if I could do anything for him, he said you got to win for me. That’s what our team is all about.”

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Jazz take 5 game win streak to New Orleans

The Utah Jazz are among the best defensive teams in the NBA.

But they have shown they can lean on their offense when they need to as they prepare to visit the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday night.

When they hosted the Pelicans on Nov. 23, two-time reigning NBA Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert was sidelined by a sprained ankle, so the Jazz scored a season-high in points in a 128-120 victory.

Donovan Mitchell had a season-high 37 in that game, and he had 32 in a 109-96 win versus Orlando on Saturday. After making eight 3-pointers through the first three quarters, they made the same number in the fourth quarter.

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“I told the team,” coach Quin Snyder said, “if the defense is solid, you give yourself a chance and eventually guys will get going.”

The guy most responsible for getting the offense going is point guard Mike Conley, but he has been sidelined by a hamstring injury. In his absence, Joe Ingles has been filling that role, helping the Jazz win five in a row and 10 of their past 11 matches.

“I think I’d rather have assists than points to be honest with you,” Ingles said. “I couldn’t care less about scoring. I feel like my role on the team is to get other guys involved.

“My only focus going in is defensively who I’m matched up on and trying to get all these guys easy shots. The more I can do to get them easy looks or easy shots, that’s what I’m out there to do.”

The Pelicans have won five of their last six matches after splitting a set of back-to-back games in California.

They lost to the Los Angeles Lakers 123-113 on Friday before getting a last-second 117-115 triumph against the Sacramento Kings the following night.

Rookie Zion Williamson participated in his first full practice before the Pelicans left for their brief road trip, though New Orleans has not set a date for his return from arthroscopic knee surgery on Oct. 21.

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Bucks hold off Timberwolves

The Milwaukee Bucks were happy to get another victory though they know they didn’t play up to their standards.

Giannis Antetokounmpo had 32 points and 17 rebounds, and the Bucks held off a strong challenge from short-handed Minnesota in a 106-104 victory over the Timberwolves on Wednesday night.

“Not paying our best but still finding a way to win is good,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “But this isn’t the formula.”

Antetokounmpo got his 30th double-double in 33 games this campaign and Khris Middleton added 13 points despite shooting 5 for 18 as league-best Milwaukee hit just 42.6% of its shots overall and only 9 of 36 from 3-point range. Brook Lopez scored 11 points and Eric Bledsoe had 10.

“We missed a lot of good shots and came out a little slow,” Middleton said.

Shabazz Napier had 22 points to lead Minnesota, and Gorgui Deng scored 15, Josh Okogie added 12 and Jarret Culver 10.

Minnesota was playing without its two best players as Karl-Anthony Towns and Jeff Teague sat with knee injuries.

The Timberwolves were also missing Treveon Graham and Andrew Wiggins, who were battling flu-like symptoms.

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“That presented a lot of opportunities for a lot of guys and I thought a lot of guys stepped up,” Napier said.

Milwaukee slumped out of the gate. The Bucks had just four points through the first six minutes and didn’t take a lead until Lopez converted a three-point play to make it 31-29 with 8:41 left in the second quarter.

They went into halftime with a 52-51 lead despite shooting 34% from the floor. Minnesota connected at a 41.7% clip but made only 3 of 14 3-pointers while the Bucks knocked down 8 of 26 from beyond the arc.

The Timberwolves mounted one last challenge in the closing minute as Dieng hit the first of two free throws to make it 1006-104 with 46.2 seconds left. Robert Covington grabbed Pat Connaughton’s missed layup, giving Minnesota the ball with 21 seconds left but after the Timberwolves used their last timeout, Dieng missed a 19-footer with 3 seconds remaining.

“We were hoping to get Shabazz on a quick catch and go or we liked going for a win with (Covington) getting to the corner,” Minnesota coach Ryan Saunders said. “There is a reason they are arguably the best defense team in the league too, they blew it up.”

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Clippers Patrick Beverley to miss some games

Los Angeles Clippers point guard Patrick Beverley is “expected to miss a few games” with a right wrist sprain, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Beverley suffered the injury during Saturday’s game versus the Utah Jazz. According to ESPN, X-rays did not reveal a break.

The 31-year-old Beverley is averaging 8.0 points, 3.3 assists and 6.0 rebounds for the Clippers. He has knocked down 41.3 percent of his field goals and 32.8 percent of his three-pointers.

Beverley’s calling cards are his tenacious defense and toughness, and those traits have helped the 23-11 Clips earn their third-place Western Conference mark.

The eight-year veteran out of Arkansas joined the Clippers after the Houston Rockets traded him following five years with the team.

His 2017-18 season started with promise, but he underwent an arthroscopic lateral meniscus repair and a microfracture procedure on his right knee and missed all but 11 matches in 2017-18.

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He returned in 2018-19 and played a big role on a gritty Clippers team that surprised fans post-Lob City Era and ended 48-34 with a playoff berth. L.A. even took the Western Conference champion Golden State Warriors to six games in the first round.

Beverley received a three-year, $40 million contract during the offseason and returned to his starting point guard role now flanked by two newly signed superstars in Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.

Injuries have hindered him this season, unfortunately, with a calf injury, a concussion and a groin injury already costing him five games.

The Clips have gone in a few different directions when pressed to find a substitute for him in the starting lineup. 

Sixth man Lou Williams has started at the point for a few games, but head coach Doc Rivers has also opted to keep Sweet Lou in a reserve role and turn to Landry Shamet or Terance Mann instead.

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Maverricks´Luka Doncic scores 24 in return from sprained ankle

Luka Doncic’s return after missing nearly five full games with a sprained right ankle finished with the point guard contributing 24 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists in the Dallas Mavericks’ 102-98 victory over the visiting San Antonio Spurs at American Airlines Center.

Doncic shot 9-of-23 (1-of-6 from three-point range) in 33 minutes en route to leading the 20-10 Mavs to victory. All five Dallas starters scored in double-digits, with Kristaps Porzingis adding 13 points and eight boards.

DeMar DeRozan led the Spurs with 21 points.

Doncic, who suffered the sprained ankle on Dec. 14 two minutes into his game versus the Miami Heat, didn’t look rusty after a 12-day absence.

Against San Antonio, Doncic played 32:39, about half a minute more than his season average.

”I’m not going to lie,” Doncic said. ”I was pretty tired.” Tired or not, he impressed Spurs coach Gregg Popovich.

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”I hate to say this, he’s not Magic Johnson but it’s Magic Johnson-like in the sense that he sees the floor in that same way. He’s got a real intuitive sense and you can’t teach that. He’s just got it and he’s great at it. I’m not trying to put the Magic Johnson pressure on him, he’s not ready for that yet but he’s doing a hell of a job.”

Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said that Doncic could have been even better.

”He had a few challenges early with rhythm and getting his legs under him. He got into a great flow as the game went on.”

Doncic said his ankle was good.

”I’m going to keep icing it. I’m young. I just want to play. I don’t want to miss no games.” The Mavericks (20-10) pulled within half a game of idle first-place Houston in the Southwest Division.

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