Category Archives: NBA

Irving scores 40, Nets beat Celtics 121-109

Kyrie Irving scored 40 points to lead the Brooklyn Nets to a 121-109 triumph over the Boston Celtics on Thursday night.

James Harden had 22 points and 10 rebounds for Brooklyn, which improved to 25-13 with its 12th win in 13 matches. Landry Shamet added 18 points and fellow reserve Jeff Green concluded with 11. Joe Harris added 12 as the Nets won without Kevin Durant and newcomer Blake Griffin.

Jayson Tatum scored 31 points but Boston had its four-game winning streak snapped. Marcus Smart added 19 in his return from injury, Daniel Theis had 17 and Jaylen Brown chipped in with 13.

The first meeting between the Atlantic Division rivals since Christmas emphasized the gulf between the teams. Specifically, Brooklyn’s quick strike offense.

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The Nets started the fourth with an 88-86 lead, but it took just more than 3 minutes to extend the advantage to 100-90 even as Irving sat on the bench.

After Boston cut the lead to five following Tatum’s jumper, Irving and Joe Harris checked back into the game and the Nets promptly outscored Boston 21-14 for the remainder of the game. In that 7:34 stretch, Irving made two 3s and two free throws versus his former team, and when Green slammed a two-handed dunk with 43 seconds left, the outcome was basically decided.

Smart had missed 19 games dating back to Jan. 30 with a strained left calf. He played 21 minutes after Boston coach Brad Stevens said before the game that the guard would be limited to 20-22.

How did the Celtics settle upon that time frame? “What I do is I get told and I follow instructions,” Stevens deadpanned. “It’s a lot like being married, right? My wife tells me what to do and I do what she says. That’s pretty much how this all works with the minute restrictions.”

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Philadelphia 76ers’ Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons both ruled out Thursday due to COVID-19 contact tracing

The Philadelphia 76ers stated Tuesday that All-Stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons would both miss Thursday’s game versus the Chicago Bulls — and that Simmons will miss Friday’s game versus the Washington Wizards — due to the same contact tracing that kept both of them from participating in Sunday’s All-Star Game in Atlanta.

Presuming both continue to test negative for COVID-19 — as they have so far — Embiid will be eligible to return for Friday night’s game versus Washington, while Simmons will be able to return Sunday at home against the San Antonio Spurs.

Both players were pulled out of Sunday’s All-Star Game after having come in contact with a barber in Philadelphia who later tested positive for COVID-19.

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The NBA had strict quarantines for everyone involved with the league’s midseason showcase, however, and the two players were able to depart from Atlanta later in the day and return to Philadelphia.

They were the only two people involved with the game who had any issues with either a positive test or contact tracing over the weekend.

The Sixers ended the first half of the campaign with the best record in the Eastern Conference, a half-game ahead of the Brooklyn Nets. They will practice Wednesday night ahead of returning to the court in Chicago on Thursday.

Embiid is in the midst of the best season of his career, averaging more than 30 points and 11 rebounds per match, and as a result is a leading contender for the NBA’s MVP award.

Simmons is averaging 16.1 points, 7.9 rebounds and 7.6 assists per game, and has coupled his always impressive defensive abilities with a recent burst of aggression offensively — including scoring a career-high 42 points in Utah last month in a game Embiid sat out due to injury.

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Former NBA All-Star forward Blake Griffin signs deal with Brooklyn Nets

Six-time All-Star forward Blake Griffin has signed a deal with the Brooklyn Nets for the rest of the campaign, the team announced Monday.

The Nets are using one of their veteran-minimum-contract slots to sign Griffin, sources told ESPN.

Griffin informed Nets general manager Sean Marks of his decision to join Brooklyn’s championship chase on Sunday evening, a reunion of sorts with his former LA Clippers teammate DeAndre Jordan.

“We’re fortunate to be able to add a player of Blake’s caliber to our roster at this point in the season,” Marks said in a statement. “Blake is a versatile frontcourt player with a long track record of success in our league, and we’re excited about the impact he’ll make for us both on and off the court in Brooklyn.”

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Griffin had interest from most of the NBA’s top playoff contenders and cleared waivers on Sunday night after agreeing to a buyout on the remaining $56.5 million left on his contract with the Detroit Pistons on Friday.

The Nets imagine Griffin, 31, as a small-ball center alternative off the bench.

Brooklyn has solidified itself as a championship contender with the addition of James Harden to a roster that includes Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.

Because Brooklyn will be in the luxury tax next season, the most it could offer Griffin as a free agent is the $5.9 million taxpayer mid-level exception, according to reporting by ESPN’s Bobby Marks. However, Griffin will earn $29.8 million from Detroit next year and has $255 million in career earnings.

Detroit has entered a full-fledged rebuild under the first-year general manager Troy Weaver and the chance to play the franchise’s younger players has taken precedent for the Pistons.

Griffin was traded less than a season into a five-year, $171 million max deal with the Clippers, arriving in Detroit in late-January 2018.

Injuries have dramatically altered Griffin’s game, eliminating the high-flying rim attacks that marked his All-Star career. He now leans heavily on the 3-point shot and his ability to make plays for others.

Griffin averaged 12.3 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.9 assists in 20 matches for Detroit this season.

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Detroit Pistons, Blake Griffin agree to contract buyout

Six-time NBA All-Star Blake Griffin has agreed to a contract buyout with the Detroit Pistons and will become an unrestricted free agent, the team revealed Friday.

The Brooklyn Nets, Golden State Warriors, Miami Heat and Portland Trail Blazers are expected to be among the teams Griffin will be considering for his next stop, sources tell ESPN.

Griffin, 31, is expected to make a decision on his next team after conversations with prospective teams, sources said.

“Blake has been a great representative for our franchise and for the city of Detroit,” owner Tom Gores said in a statement Friday. “His work ethic and his approach to the game contributed a lot to our culture. He has been a consummate pro and we wish him continued success.

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“I’m grateful for everything he did for our team and for our community.”

Finding a trade for Griffin — who was owed a remaining $36.6 million this campaign and $39 million in 2021-22 prior to the buyout — was an insurmountable challenge for the Pistons.

Detroit concluded a reduction in his remaining salary to gain free agency with Griffin’s agent, Sam Goldfeder of Excel Sports, since the sides mutually agreed he would leave the active roster on Feb. 15 awaiting a trade or buyout.

“I thank the Pistons organization for working together on an outcome that benefits all involved and I wish the franchise success in the future,” Griffin said in a statement released by the team.

Detroit has entered a full-fledged rebuild under first-year general manager Troy Weaver, and the chance to play the franchise’s younger players has taken precedence for the Pistons.

Injuries have dramatically altered Griffin’s game, eliminating the high-flying rim attacks that marked his All-Star career. He’s averaging 12.3 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.9 assists for Detroit this season.

Griffin was traded less than a season into a five-year, $171 million max deal with the LA Clippers, arriving in Detroit in late January 2018.

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New Orleans Pelicans’ Zion Williamson out for Thursday’s game; still on for NBA All-Star Game

New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson missed Thursday night’s contest versus the Miami Heat because of irritation in his right fifth toe, but sources told ESPN that he is still anticipated to play in Sunday’s NBA All-Star Game.

Pelicans coach Stan Van Gundy stated the toe irritation is something Williamson has been trying to play through recently.

“It’s one of those things that’s just continued to get a little bit worse,” Van Gundy said. “Obviously, a lot of minutes last night and the whole thing. So it got worse. But it’s been something that he’s had.”

Williamson will be a part of Team Durant in the All-Star Game. Williamson played 38 minutes in Wednesday night’s loss to the Chicago Bulls. Though he ended with 28 points, he was upset that he shot just 8-of-16 from the free throw line. After the match, he spent roughly 40 minutes getting up extra shots on the Smoothie King Center floor.

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Thursday night marked the second game Williamson misses this season but only the first for an injury-related issue.

He missed a game on Jan. 13 in Los Angeles versus the Clippers because of an inconclusive COVID-19 test.

Williamson was voted in as a Western Conference All-Star by coaches after posting some of the best interior scoring numbers the league has seen since Hall of Fame center Shaquille O’Neal. The 20-year-old forward is the fourth-youngest All-Star in NBA history behind LeBron James, Magic Johnson, and Kobe Bryant.

J.J. Redick was also ruled out for the contest due to right heel soreness. After a slow start to the season, the veteran sharpshooter caught fire in February, connecting on 47.6% of his 3-point attempts over a 12-game span.

The Pelicans entered Thursday night in 11th place in the Western Conference standings, three games behind Memphis for the 10th and final play-in tournament spot.

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James Harden has triple-double in Houston return, Nets roll

The No. 13 on his jersey, James Harden won so many matches for the Houston Rockets.

On Wednesday night in the first meeting with his former team, No. 13 had a triple-double for the Brooklyn Nets to send the reeling Rockets to their 13th consecutive loss.

“A lot of mixed emotions from the fans but I knew that was going to happen,” Harden said. “I just wanted to come out here and give them a show.”

He did that with 29 points, 10 rebounds and 14 assists in the 132-114 triumph. The Nets set a franchise record with their seventh straight road victory. They’ve won 10 of their last 11 overall.

Harden has meshed well with his new team and the Nets are 17-7 since the trade. “So far, so good,” he said. “It’s everything that I signed up for. Top to bottom it’s been great.”

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It’s the longest skid for the Rockets, who had just eight players available because of injuries, since they dropped 15 in a row in 2001. They’ve had a tough time since Harden was traded Jan. 14 and haven’t won since Feb. 4.

The Rockets used a 10-0 run, with five points from John Wall, to cut the lead to eight with about eight minutes left in the fourth. But the Nets scored the next eight points, with two 3s from Harden, to extend it to 113-97 midway through the quarter.

It’s the eighth triple-double for Harden this season and his second straight after he had 30 points, 14 rebounds and 15 assists without a turnover in an overtime triumph at San Antonio on Monday night. He didn’t play as clean of a game Wednesday when he had eight turnovers.

Harden got a mixed reception from the crowd.

Many of the 3,615 fans booed when he was introduced before the game and more boos came the first few times he touched the ball.

He stated it was a “little weird” being on the visitor’s side but denied having any extra emotions.

“Once I get on that court I’m just trying to win,” he said. “So that was kind of my feeling. I wasn’t trying to show off. I wasn’t trying to do anything out of the ordinary that I haven’t been doing. Just playing my brand of basketball.”

The Rockets played a video showcasing some of the countless highlights of his eight seasons in Houston during a timeout in the first quarter. There were more cheers than boos as it played. Harden stepped out of the huddle and raised his arms before placing his hands in a praying position to acknowledge the fans as it ended.

“You could tell it meant something to him,” coach Steve Nash said. “This place is special to James. Houston means a lot to him … so I know it was a big game for him. I was proud of the way he handled it.”

Wall had a season-high 36 points, and Victor Oladipo also set his season high with 33.

Houston coach Stephen Silas stated the strong play of those two stars is an encouraging sign amid this difficult stretch.

“It lets us know that when we get back and we’re healthy and we’re whole and we are in a position where we have enough guys to compete we’re going to be just fine,” he said.

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Hawks win McMillan’s debut, top Heat 94-80

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Trae Young took over late and made sure Nate McMillan would triumph his debut as interim coach of the Atlanta Hawks.

Young scored 18 points, including 13 straight for his team in the fourth quarter, and the Hawks snapped Miami’s six-game winning streak by defeating the Heat 94-80 on Tuesday night.

John Collins scored 17 for Atlanta, which lost at Miami on Sunday and fired coach Lloyd Pierce on Monday. Kevin Huerter scored 16 for the Hawks and Clint Capela had 10 points and 17 rebounds.

“Losing Coach Pierce, we all had to do better,” McMillan said. “And that was the challenge to this team tonight. He took a hit because we didn’t do what we were supposed to be doing out there. And I thought tonight, they did better.”

Duncan Robinson and Goran Dragic each scored 14 for Miami, which missed an opportunity to get over .500 for the first time this season. Bam Adebayo scored 11 for the Heat, who shot 37% — their fourth-worst showing of the season.

“We had been trending much better offensively,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “It just was a flat offensive game. It was not a fluid game for us on that side of the floor.”Tony Snell added 11 for the Hawks.

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“Ugly game, but in the end you win a lot of games giving up 80 points,” Huerter said. “Great bounceback from the last 24 hours. And now we’ve got to finish the first half of the season strong tomorrow in Orlando.”

Miami was outrebounded 47-26, by far its worst margin of the season, and was held to a season-low in points.

The Heat were again without Jimmy Butler, who missed his second consecutive match with right knee inflammation.

Miami shot 29% in the opening quarter and 36% in the half, including a 2-for-15 start from 3-point range. But by limiting Young for the second consecutive game — he had just two points by halftime and five points after three quarters — the Heat hung around, trailing 44-37 at the break and leading 66-63 going into the fourth.

Then Young got hot in the fourth, when the Heat shot just 5 for 18, and just like that what had been the NBA’s longest active winning streak entering the night was finished.

It was Miami’s lowest point total in its home building since scoring 79 versus Milwaukee on Jan. 19, 2016. The Heat were held to 85 or fewer points for the fifth time this season, by far the most in the NBA — with Butler missing four of those five games.

“Defenses are going to be disruptive and do different things to try to guard us,” Robinson said. “But there are always counters and ways to be effective. We just have to find solutions.”

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Butler leads Heat to 4th straight win, 116-108 over Raptors

Jimmy Butler went to the foul line in the final moments of the fourth quarter Wednesday night, talking and smiling the entire time.

There’s a lot for Butler and the Miami Heat to be happy about right now.

Butler scored 27 points, 14 of them in the final quarter, and the Heat won their fourth straight game by topping the Toronto Raptors 116-108 on Wednesday night.

Butler also had 10 assists and eight rebounds for the Heat, plus a season-high three 3-pointers — two of them in the final minutes. Bam Adebayo had 19 points and 12 rebounds for Miami, Duncan Robinson added 17 points and Goran Dragic scored 15 in his return from an ankle injury.

“We’re just out there having fun,” Adebayo said.

It was the eighth win in the last 11 matches for the Heat, who started the season 7-14.

“Everybody that played really contributed at different points in the game,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “And then Jimmy’s game was the quintessential, all-around winning basketball game.”

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Kyle Lowry, returning from a thumb injury, scored 24 for Toronto. 

Fred VanVleet also had 24 for the Raptors, Norman Powell scored 17 and OG Anunoby had 14 for Toronto.

“I thought we outplayed them,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse stated. “I thought we outplayed them in almost all facets. … The ball just bounced their way a lot.”

Powell made a 3-pointer as the shot clock was expiring to get Toronto within 100-98 before Butler had the game’s next three plays of any significance — a 3-pointer, a steal on the ensuing possession and a layup to push Miami’s lead back to seven.

Another 3-pointer by Butler with 3:23 left restored the seven-point edge, and Miami kept the lead the rest of the way.

“He’s our leader and we need him,” Dragic said.

Lowry scored 12 of Toronto’s first 20 points in the opening 6½ minutes, and he made a 31-footer over Miami’s zone midway through the second quarter to tie it at 48.

The next 2:51 belonged to Miami.

The Heat went on a 17-2 spurt in that time, six players scoring during the run, to open a 15-point lead and took a 66-56 edge into halftime.

Toronto scored the first 10 points of the second half, erasing the deficit, but a 17-6 answer by the Heat helped them take a 92-85 lead into the fourth. And the Raptors never led at any point in the final 31 1/2 minutes.

“It was fun to be back out there with the fellas,” said Lowry, who acknowledged that his thumb was hurting at times after contact Wednesday. “We gave it a tough fight, but we didn’t pull it out at the end.”

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Curry leads Warriors past Knicks as fans return to MSG

Stephen Curry welcomed fans back to Madison Square Garden with another big night in the building, scoring 37 points and leading the Golden State Warriors to a 114-106 triumph over the New York Knicks on Tuesday.

Curry, who owns a 50-point game and a triple-double in the arena, returned from a one-game absence to make the tiebreaking 3-pointer with 3:38 left. He scored 26 points in the second half and added six rebounds and six assists.

This performance came in the first NBA game at Madison Square Garden with fans since the Knicks defeated Detroit last March 8, days before the season was suspended as the coronavirus was about to start pummeling New York.

Julius Randle went from the high of his first All-Star selection to the low of getting thrown out in the final seconds after picking up his second technical foul. He had 25 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists.

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo permitted New York’s arenas to open to fans at 10% capacity, which meant roughly 2,000 at Madison Square Garden.

They greeted the Knicks with loud cheers early on, but there were the familiar noticeable groans after a turnover during a dismal stretch of the third quarter, when the Warriors opened a 13-point lead.

New York recovered from that and had the game tied at 97 before Curry’s 3-pointer. He converted a three-point play about two minutes later to make it 105-100 and helped finish it off at the foul line.

Kelly Oubre Jr. added 19 points and Andrew Wiggins had 16 for the Warriors, who got centers James Wiseman and Kevon Looney back from injuries and won for the first time after two rough losses on their four-game trip.

They blew a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter and lost by four in Orlando, then fell 102-100 in Charlotte when Draymond Green got two technical fouls and was ejected in the closing seconds before Terry Rozier made a jumper at the buzzer.

Randle was the first Knicks player selected to the All-Star Game since Kristaps Porzingis in 2018. Randle addressed the crowd before the game, but the start of his remarks were drowned out by fans chanting “MVP! MVP!”

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LaVine leads Bulls over Pistons in newly scheduled game

Zach LaVine scored 37 points and the Chicago Bulls defeated the Detroit Pistons 105-102 Wednesday night on short notice.

The Bulls were programmed to visit Charlotte, with the Pistons at Dallas. Those matches got called off Tuesday by the NBA because of COVID-19 contact tracing concerns with the Hornets and power outages in Texas.

The Bulls and Pistons were then scheduled to play each other, instead. Chicago made two 3-pointers late in the game to hold off Detroit. 

Coby White made his shot from the corner to give the Bulls a 100-96 lead with just over a minute remaining before Patrick Williams knocked down a 3-pointer with 29 seconds left to make it 103-98.

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LaVine made a free throw to ice the game in the final seconds.

He scored 15 points in the third quarter to help Chicago come back from a 25-point, second-quarter deficit.

Wendall Carter Jr. added 18 points while Williams had 15. Chicago won its second consecutive game overall and fifth in a row versus Detroit.

Jerami Grant scored a career-high 43 points for the Pistons, who cooled off after a strong start.

Delon Wright scored 10 of his 12 points in the first half while Dennis Smith Jr. added 10 points off the bench.

Detroit started the second quarter on a 12-0 run and Chicago failed to score until Carter’s follow dunk midway through the period.

Chicago outscored Detroit 27-12 in the third quarter and retook the lead when Garret Temple made a layup with 10 minutes left to make it 74-73.

Pistons play Friday in Memphis, where they have lost seven of the last nine while the Bulls visit Philadelphia on Friday. They have lost five consecutive there.

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