Category Archives: NBA

Lebron James aggravates groin injury in loss, could miss time

Kawhi Leonard scored 11 of his 35 points in the fourth quarter and had 12 rebounds to help the Los Angeles Clippers defeat the Los Angeles Lakers 111-106 on Wednesday night in the NBA’s marquee Christmas game.

LeBron James, who ended with 23 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds, aggravated a nagging groin injury after a first-quarter collision with Patrick Beverley and could miss game time moving forward.

According to ESPN, several members of the Lakers organization have already approached James about the urgency to sit out and rehab his groin injury until he feels fully recovered.

“I felt healthy going into the game,” James told the network. “I got kneed in the groin taking a charge from Pat Bev, and it kind of set me right back to where I was five days ago.”

Montrezl Harrell had 18 points off the bench, Paul George added 17 and the Clippers improved to 2-0 versus the Lakers this season. Kyle Kuzma led the Lakers with 25 points while Anthony Davis had 24. The Lakers have lost a season-worst four straight games.

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Los Angeles had a chance to tie in the final seconds, but video review showed James touched the ball last after Beverly knocked it away as James went up for a three.

George hit two free throws for the final margin.

James, who turns 35 this week, suffered a torn left groin versus the Golden State Warriors last Christmas that derailed the Lakers’ season.

Fortunately for the Lakers, the schedule is about to get a bit easier. They have a back-to-back looming with the Portland Trail Blazers and Dallas Mavericks, though Luka Doncic remains out. After that, the Lakers play four consecutive home games versus opponents not currently in the postseason picture, so if James needs time off, they should be able to hold down the fort while he recovers. 

Considering the groin injury that ruined James’ 2018-19 season, the Lakers seemingly got off easy here. They may not be as fortunate if James pushes the issue. If rest is his best chance at a speedy recovery, then rest should be the priority until he returns to full strength.

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Timberwolves fall for their 11th straight loss

D’Angelo Russell scored 30 points, Alec Burks had 25 points and eight assists, and the Warriors defeated the Timberwolves 113-104 on Monday night, the 11th straight loss for Minnesota.

“It’s no secret we’re in a funk right now,” Timberwolves coach Ryan Saunders said.

“Young team or not, we’ve got to learn lessons in this league, because you’ve got to go through hard times to get to where you want to be.”

Draymond Green added 14 rebounds and nine points and Damion Lee had 14 points for Golden State, which won consecutive games for the first time since last season’s Western Conference finals.

“It feels … amazing,” Green said. “I never thought I’d be so excited for two regular-season wins in my life.”

Andrew Wiggins scored 22 points and Jordan McLaughlin had 19 for the Timberwolves.

Jeff Teague added 12 points for Minnesota. The Warriors, sporting an uncharacteristic 7-24 record, broke open a tie game midway through the second quarter with an 18-3 run to take a 53-38 lead.

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Green scored on a hook shot with 2:30 left in the first half to cap the run.

The Warriors opened up a 64-47 lead after starting the third quarter on a 7-0 run. The Warriors led 82-58 late in the third quarter on Omari Spellman’s layup.

Minnesota went on a 14-2 run to close within 84-72 early in the fourth quarter.

The Timberwolves closed to 109-104 with 22 seconds left when McLaughlin was fouled on a dunk and completed the three-point play with a free throw.

The Timberwolves are 5-19 since a 125-119 victory over Golden State on Nov. 8 in which Russell scored 52 points and Wiggins had 40.

The Warriors are playing their best ball ahead of a Christmas home match versus the Houston Rockets that will be seen by a national audience. “We need this regardless of what’s coming next,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said.

“We just needed to win a couple of games in a row just to get a little momentum and feel good. Christmas is always a special day to play on, you know that everybody’s watching. It’s got a different vibe, a different feel, and our players will be really excited it’ll be good to go into that game with momentum.”

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Nuggets defeat Lakers in 6th win in a row

Aided by a perfect five-game homestand, the Denver Nuggets hit the road and kept on winning.

Paul Millsap scored 21 points and the Nuggets controlled the second half in beating the Los Angeles Lakers, who were without LeBron James, 128-104 on Sunday night for their sixth win in a row.

”Our last homestand gave us confidence to come on the road and win,” Millsap said. ”We have so many weapons.”

The Nuggets had six players in double figures. 

Gary Harris added 19 points, Nikola Jokic had 18 points, Malik Beasley had 16 points and Will Barton III had 14 points and a career-high-tying 13 rebounds for the Nuggets, who pulled away to a 23-point lead early in the fourth. James missed his first game of the season because of a thoracic muscle strain. That left the Lakers without his 25.8 point average and 10.6 assists.

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”It’s kind of hard to next-man-up LeBron,” said Kyle Kuzma, the only other Laker in double figures with 16 points. ”He does so much. Shots come easier when he’s on the floor because everyone just looks at him.”

With James looking on in street clothes, Anthony Davis did his best to make up for it with 32 points and 11 rebounds. He scored 11 points playing all 12 minutes of the first quarter.

”It’s tough when he’s out but we still got to find ways to win,” Davis said. ”We lost our energy defensively. We got to continue to defend and once we get that edge back we’ll be fine.”

Davis slipped and tweaked his right leg in the third quarter, but felt good enough to play 7 1/2 minutes in the fourth.

”Hopefully nothing significant happens,” he said. The Lakers can’t afford to have Davis go down at the same time as James with a Christmas game versus the Clippers looming. The Western Conference-leading Lakers have lost three in a row since winning seven straight.

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Anthony Davis sits in Lakers loss to Pacers with ankle sprain

Even without Victor Oladipo, the Indiana Pacers continue to impress.

Indiana extended its winning streak to four games with a 105-102 win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The Pacers are now 19-9 after Domantas Sabonis led the way in the first of two matchups with the Purple and Gold this season.

An acrobatic finish by Malcolm Brogdon gave Indiana the lead with 36 seconds remaining, and LeBron James missed a potential go-ahead three on the ensuing possession. Rajon Rondo still had an opportunity to tie it at the buzzer, but his three-pointer rimmed out.

Fortunately for the Lakers, they are still sitting atop the Western Conference at 24-4 even though their seven-game winning streak came to an end with Anthony Davis sidelined by an ankle injury.

The Pacers deserve plenty of credit for remaining among the Eastern Conference contenders without their best player, and they have done so with a balanced scoring attack and stout defense.

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Five different players are averaging double figures in the scoring department, and Indiana is fifth in the league in defensive rating, per NBA.com.

That balanced attack was on display again Tuesday with six players in double figures, but Sabonis was the best player on the floor for extended stretches.

He extended his game beyond the arc, showed off soft touch on mid-range jumpers, spun free of defenders on the blocks and took full advantage of Davis’ absence with multiple thunderous jams.

Though there are far worse situations than relying on James to carry more of the load on a given night, that is where the Lakers found themselves Tuesday with Davis sidelined.

Davis is an MVP candidate, the anchor of Los Angeles’ defense and James’ best pick-and-roll partner. But the King has done a little bit of everything this season even though he turns 35 years old this month.

He tallied a double-double in his previous four games and entered play averaging a career-high and league-leading 10.7 assists.

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Bulls´ Otto Porter Jr. out at least 4 more weeks with small fracture in foot

The Chicago Bulls announced Friday that small forward Otto Porter Jr. underwent an MRI this week that revealed a setback in the healing of his left foot injury.

Porter is suffering from a bone edema and will be reassessed by doctors in two weeks.

The 26-year-old Porter, who is in the midst of his second season with the Bulls, has not appeared in a game since Nov. 6 and has missed the team’s past 13 contests.

Porter was originally the No. 3 overall pick in the 2013 NBA draft by the Washington Wizards. He progressively improved during his time in Washington and enjoyed his best season in 2017-18 when he averaged 14.7 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game while shooting 50.3 percent from the floor and 44.1 percent from three.

His numbers started to drop off last season, though, resulting in the Wizards trading him to Chicago for Jabari Parker, Bobby Portis and a 2023 second-round pick.

In 15 games with the Bulls last season, Porter averaged an impressive 17.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.7 assists. Hopes were high for Porter entering this season, but he got off to a slow start before injury struck.

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Porter is presently averaging just 11.2 points, 3.4 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game while shooting 41.7 percent from the field and 40.0 percent from deep.

This season is significant for Porter and the Bulls since he has the right to opt out of his deal at the end of the season. If Porter exercises his $28.4 million option for next season, however, he can become a free agent in 2021.

Without Porter, 2018 first-round pick Chandler Hutchison was getting more playing time at small forward, but he is currently out with a shoulder injury.

Until one or both of Porter and Hutchison return, veteran Thaddeus Young will likely see some action at small forward, and the 8-14 Bulls will also continue to go small with Zach LaVine, Coby White, Tomas Satoransky and Kris Dunn all receiving ample run.

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Warriors´Draymond Green returns from 3 game absence

Another healthy body sure helped the Golden State Warriors, especially when that guy coming back was Draymond Green — an emotional, vocal leader of this young group who brings it on both ends.

Eric Paschall scored 25 points and the Warriors emphatically closed out a tight game after their failure two days earlier, holding off the Chicago Bulls 104-90 on Wednesday night for just their second victory at new Chase Center.

“Having Draymond back was a big deal. He settled us down,” coach Steve Kerr said. “Having nine instead of eight, it matters. You just have more to work with and more options.”

The latest injury news for the Warriors involved their coach.

Kerr cut his right hand breaking a clipboard. It happens at least once a season.

“It’s a mere flesh wound. I broke a clipboard. It’s one of two. I’m allotted two a year. This was No. 1,” Kerr said. “It always cuts in the same place. This was a little deeper one, I was a little more upset. I’m day to day. No stitches yet but we’ll see tomorrow.”

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Alec Burks added 23 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists in just the second victory in 12 games for Golden State, which squandered a late lead Monday night in losing 100-97 to Oklahoma City while allowing the Thunder to score the game’s final 13 points. The Warriors snapped a three-game losing streak.

Green returned from a three-game absence because of a sore right heel and contributed seven points, eight assists and five rebounds in nearly 24 minutes.

Zach LaVine had 36 points, five rebounds and five assists for the Bulls, who now will try to avenge a 117-94 home defeat to the Trail Blazers on Monday night when they travel to Portland to play Friday.

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Kawhi Leonard misses third straight game for Clippers

Kawhi Leonard is missing his third straight match for the Los Angeles Clippers, again delaying his on-court pairing with new teammate Paul George.

George was in the lineup Monday night versus his former team, Oklahoma City, which traded him to the Clippers in the off-season.

Leonard bruised his left knee in a loss at Houston last Wednesday and didn’t play at New Orleans or versus Atlanta last week. Los Angeles coach Doc Rivers says it was “very possible” Leonard was going to play Monday. Rivers has displayed little concern that Leonard will be out long.

“I just know it’s going to happen,” he said of Leonard and George playing together for the first time. Leonard has missed five of the Clippers’ 14 games. When he’s been in the lineup, he’s averaging 26.8 points.

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George has helped mitigate Leonard’s absence, scoring 70 points in 44 minutes in his first two games back. He recorded 18 points on Monday, including a 3-pointer with 25.9 seconds left to put the Clippers up for good.

Per The Athletic’s Shams Charania, Leonard is day-to-day after further evaluation on the knee revealed nothing serious.

This all comes shortly after the debate over Leonard’s load management briefly consumed the NBA when the star sat out a nationally televised matchup versus Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks. Just a few days later, Leonard suffered his injury versus the Rockets.

Leonard was initially listed as questionable heading into the game, but the Clippers might be treating his injury as conservatively as possible. His next opportunity to play will come Wednesday, for a marquee matchup versus the Boston Celtics. At the end Los Angeles Clippers fans are going to have to wait a few more days to finally see Kawhi Leonard and Paul George playing together.

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Rick Pitino hired as Greece´s national team coach

Rick Pitino is back in the coaching world after settling to take over as head coach of Greece’s national team. 

This marks Pitino’s first head-coaching gig since he turned down an offer to return to Panathinaikos in June. He went 10-9 and made the playoffs before being swept 3-0 by Real Madrid in his lone season with the team. 

The 67-year-old American coached Greek club Panathinaikos last season and guided the team to victory in the country’s cup competition before returning to the United States. He persists popular among Greek fans despite his outspoken criticism of smoking and rowdy behavior by spectators at games.

Pitino has served as head coach of the Puerto Rican national team in 2015 for the FIBA Americas Championships. That squad progressed to the second round in the tournament but was unable to qualify for the 2016 Olympics. 

Per Dionysis Aravantinos of EuroHoops.net, Thanasis Skourtopoulos will remain as Greece’s head coach for the EuroBasket tournament in February with Pitino taking over for the pre-Olympic tournament in the summer as the country attempts to qualify for the Tokyo Games.

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Taking over the Greek squad could give Pitino an opportunity to coach reigning NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, who most recently played for his home country this summer in the FIBA World Cup.

The Greek basketball federation said Friday that Pitino will be formally presented on Monday, when details of his agreement will be announced.

”Really honored to be coaching the Greek National team,” Pitino wrote on Twitter. ”Have a lot of work and preparation ahead but I’m looking forward to the challenge.”

NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and his brother Thanasis Antetokounmpo both play for Greece and the Milwaukee Bucks.

The Greeks narrowly missed out on reaching the quarterfinals at the World Cup in China in September. Pitino spent much of his career jumping between the college ranks and the NBA, coaching the Boston Celtics and the New York Knicks as well as Kentucky and Louisville.

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Clippers beat Spurs as Leonard scored 38 against former team

Gregg Popovich and Kawhi Leonard traded some laughs and pleasantries after Leonard’s new team, the Los Angeles Clippers, overpowered his former coach and the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday night.

If Leonard has any more nights like that against his former club, the normally irascible Popovich won’t be smiling again.

Leonard scored 38 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in the Clippers’ 103-97 win, which handed the Spurs their first loss. It is Leonard’s first points-rebounds, double-double this season. It is also his first double-double in three meetings versus San Antonio, where he played seven seasons (2011-18) before being traded to Toronto in July of 2018.

The 38 points ties for the fifth-most Leonard has scored in a regular-season game in his eight-year career. He took a career high 32 shots.

”It was something I look forward to,” Leonard said about facing the Spurs. ”Just to be able to play against a great coach and my old teammates is always fun.” Leonard is 2-1 versus his former team. While his departure from San Antonio wasn’t amicable, Leonard said his relationship with Popovich is good, for the most part.

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Popovich didn’t have much to say about Leonard postgame other than: ”I thought he was great.” When someone tried to get Popovich to expound, he replied: ”Doc’s coaching him, I’m not. I just said he had a great game, there’s nothing else to say.”

Another thing going well is Leonard’s start with the Clippers, the team he signed with as a free agent during the offseason.

He has scored 30 or more in three of his first five games and is the first Clipper since Blake Griffin in 2015 to have at least 38 points and 12 rebounds in a game.

”Tonight was a great night for him to do his thing. We just followed his lead,” Clippers guard Lou Williams said. Leonard – who sat out Wednesday’s game at Utah due to load management – took control of the game in the second half, when he had 25 points on 10 of 16 shooting from the field, including a pair of 3-pointers.

Los Angeles went on a 9-1 run to take a 64-55 lead with 6:55 remaining in the third quarter. Leonard scored five of his 10 third-quarter points during the rally, including a dunk after a steal of DeMar DeRozan at midcourt.

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Suns’ Deandre Ayton tests positive, gets 25-game ban

Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton released an apology for what he labeled an “unintentional mistake” after the NBA handed down a 25-game suspension to the second-year player on Thursday evening for violating the terms of the league and the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) anti-drug program.

According to the league’s statement, Ayton tested positive for a diuretic, which is banned by the league as diuretics can be used to hide or cleanse the use of performance-enhancing drugs.

“I do understand the unfortunate impact that this has on so many others, and for that, I am deeply sorry,” Ayton said in a statement. “I’m extremely disappointed that I’ve let my team down.”

With the 25-game suspension, Ayton will lose roughly $2 million in salary.

Ayton, 21, entered the season expecting to earn approximately $116,620 per game in 82 regular-season outings, which totals about $9.5 million for the 2019-20 season.

According to ESPN, the NBPA is planning to appeal Ayton’s suspension with the thinking this occasion falls under the “unintentional ingestion” provision of the collective bargaining agreement.

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“On behalf of the Phoenix Suns organization, (coach) Monty Williams and I are disappointed in the actions by Deandre Ayton that led to his testing positive for a banned diuretic and subsequent suspension by the NBA,” Suns GM James Jones said in a statement. “This does not uphold the standards and principles we have set for the team.”

“Deandre has expressed his deepest remorse,” Jones continued. “While he is suspended we remain committed to his growth and development on and off the court. His actions are not taken lightly, and we are committed to ensuring that Deandre understands the profound impact it has had on the team, organization, and Suns community.”

Drafted No. 1 overall in the 2018 NBA Draft by the Suns, Ayton, a former University of Arizona standout, ended with 18 points and 11 rebounds in his season debut, helping the Suns beat the Sacramento Kings, 124-95 earlier this week. In his rookie season, Ayton averaged 16.3 points and 10.3 rebounds in 71 games.

Ayton’s suspension will start Friday as he will miss the Suns’ contest against the Denver Nuggets. As of now, he will be eligible to return to the lineup on Dec. 17 against the Los Angeles Clippers.

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