Category Archives: NBA

Nets´ Kyrie Irving out at least a week with knee injury

After departing Saturday’s contest versus the Washington Wizards midway through the fourth quarter, Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Irving has been diagnosed with a medial ligament sprain in his right knee and will miss at least the next week before being re-evaluated, the team informed Sunday.

The injury occurred as Irving attempted to secure a rebound, but he got caught up with Wizards guard Bradley Beal. The two tussled for possession, which led to Beal’s weight forcing Irving’s leg/knee into what appeared to be an uncomfortable direction.

Irving remained on the ground for a few moments before eventually heading to the locker room. It has been an injury-hampered first season in Brooklyn for Irving, who has played in just 20 of his team’s first 48 matches.

A shoulder ailment previously kept him out of the mix, paving the way for Spencer Dinwiddie to take on an increased role in the offense, a role that he figures to reclaim over at least the next week while Irving is absent.

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With a 21-27 record following play Saturday, the Nets still in possession of the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference.

After a splashy offseason in which the team made headlines by inking Irving, Kevin Durant and DeAndre Jordan to free-agent deals, the team was expected to be better, even with KD sitting out all campaign.

Irving will miss at least his team’s next three matches, with Feb. 10 being the next contest that falls beyond the one-week timetable. But with the All-Star break fast approaching, Brooklyn could opt to play it safe, if Irving is even cleared to return in the near future.

Irving had his highest-scoring game of the season the previous night, scoring 54 points in a triumph over Chicago. Irving has already missed a career-high 28 games this season.

He missed 26 games due to a right shoulder impingement and one each because of a strained hamstring and to mourn the death of Kobe Bryant.

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LA Clippers hold out Kawhi Leonard with back tightness

After feeling lower back tightness that developed during pregame warm-ups, LA Clippers star Kawhi Leonard was ruled out for Thursday night’s matchup versus the Sacramento Kings after halftime.

Clippers coach Doc Rivers said he found out Leonard would not start the game “literally five seconds” before tip. Leonard then spent half the game, a 124-103 Clippers loss, trying to get his back to loosen up. “His back just locked up,” Rivers said.

“I think he was shooting before the game and his back locked up. He was in stretching and trying to do everything he could to get on the floor, and he just couldn’t.”

Rivers said he did not know the severity of Leonard’s back injury. The Clippers play again Saturday afternoon at home versus the Minnesota Timberwolves. Later that night, Leonard will have his jersey retired by San Diego State during the Aztecs’ game against Utah State.

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Without Leonard, the Clippers were routed by Sacramento. 

Paul George returned from a nine-game absence due to a strained left hamstring and missed 8 of 10 shots, finishing with eight points, four rebounds and four assists in 19 minutes.

Rivers said George and Patrick Beverley, who returned after missing three games with a sore groin, were on a minutes restriction and that it was hard for George to get a rhythm.

George, who has played in six All-Star games, was not named among the Western Conference reserves this year and will not play with Leonard in the Feb. 16 All-Star Game at Chicago.

“The fact of the matter is, I didn’t deserve to be an All-Star,” said George, who has played only 27 games so far this season while dealing with various injuries and his recovery from offseason shoulder surgeries.

“I didn’t play enough games and I wasn’t out there enough. So, honestly, it’s nice to have those three extra days. I’ll take it with a smile on my face, and I’ll root Kawhi on from whatever beach we decide to go to.”

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Sixers´ Joel Embiid returns from injury against Warriors

The Philadelphia 76ers held serve at home versus the Golden State Warriors 115-104 on Tuesday at Wells Fargo Center.

Joel Embiid led the 76ers with 24 points and 10 rebounds in his first game back after missing nine matches with a torn radial collateral ligament in his left hand.

All five 76ers starters scored in double digits. Big man Al Horford was two assists shy of a triple-double with 12 points, 11 rebounds and eight dimes. 

Raul Neto dropped 19 points off the bench, all in the first half.

Philadelphia led by only four points heading into the final quarter, but Embiid keyed a 9-0 run to start the fourth with a pair of buckets and an assist. Philadelphia never led by fewer than seven from that point forward. 

The match was the first in Philadelphia since Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna Maria died Sunday along with seven others in a helicopter accident.

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The 76ers paid a pregame tribute by holding a moment of silence and sounding a bell nine times.

In what has became a leaguewide norm since Sunday, the two teams started the game with an eight-second backcourt violation and a 24-second shot clock violation in honor of Bryant’s Nos. 8 and 24 jerseys.

Embiid paid tribute to the former Laker for the night by changing his jersey number from 21 to Bryant’s 24, which he wore in the latter half of his career.

Bryant was born in Philadelphia and played high school basketball at Lower Merion High School in nearby Ardmore, Pennsylvania.

For the Warriors, D’Angelo Russell led all scorers with 28 points. Draymond Green added a near-triple-double with nine points, 12 assists and nine boards.

The 31-17 Sixers have won six of their last seven. The 10-38 Warriors lost their fourth consecutive.

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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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