Category Archives: NBA

Brooklyn Nets coach Steve Nash says ‘good chance’ Kevin Durant exits COVID-19 protocol this week

While Kevin Durant could be rejoining the Brooklyn Nets later this week when they are back in New York, Steve Nash says Kyrie Irving will need between a week and two weeks to ramp up before making his season debut.

Durant and Irving stay in health and safety protocols and are not with the team in Los Angeles, where the Nets play the Clippers on Monday night. But the team returns to New York after the match, and the Nets could have Durant and center LaMarcus Aldridge out of protocols and back with the team when they play Philadelphia on Thursday.

“I think there’s a good chance Kevin will be,” Nash stated after the team’s shootaround about whether Durant will be back with the team when it gets back home. “With Kyrie, I’m not so sure, but it’s coming. He’s already been [in protocols since Dec. 18]. … He’s got to be getting close.”

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Aldridge entered health and safety protocols on Dec. 14 along with five other Nets. The other five — James Harden, James Johnson, Bruce Brown, DeAndre’ Bembry and Jevon Carter — were all cleared and played in the Nets’ victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Christmas.

Durant and Irving went into protocols on Dec. 18. The day before, the Nets announced Irving would be returning to the team to play on a part-time basis. Because of New York City’s vaccine mandate, Irving is not allowed to play in home games at Barclays Center or at Madison Square Garden, home of the New York Knicks.

Since the point guard has not practiced on a regular basis with the team since early October in training camp, Nash says it will take Irving time to ramp up. The Nets have yet to see Irving on a court since deciding to bring him back into the fold because he went into health and safety protocols.

“It’s hard to say, but I would say probably somewhere between a week and two weeks,” Nash said of the ramp-up. “He’s obviously been isolating so that kind of puts another layer to the ramp-up. It’s not like he’s been working out so probably I’d imagine it’s going to be closer to two weeks once he comes out of protocols. We’ll just have to see how it goes, though, because we have to evaluate him from a physical and performance standpoint and a basketball standpoint as well.”

After concluding this two-game trip in Los Angeles, the Nets only have two road games in their following nine games after Monday’s game at the Clippers. They play at Indiana on Jan. 5 and then at Chicago on Jan. 12.

If Irving doesn’t play in those games, the Nets could have him at Cleveland Cavaliers on Jan. 17 for the start of a four-game road swing.

Harden stated on Saturday that having Irving back, even on a part-time basis, “will be huge for us.”

“Hopefully we can get him back full-time,” center Nic Claxton said. “But it’s definitely gonna be scary hours [with Irving back]. I think he’s gonna break the game for us, and make things easier for everybody on the court. And I’m just, I’m ready to get my brother back.”

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Curry scores 46, Warriors hold off pesky Grizzlies 113-104

Stephen Curry scored 46 points and made eight 3-pointers, Gary Payton Jr. added a clutch 3-pointer late in the fourth quarter and the Golden State Warriors held off the Mempihs Grizzlies 113-104 on Thursday night.

Payton concluded with 22 points and Draymond Green had nine assists to help the Warriors improve an NBA-best 16-2 record at home. The Warriors (26-6) remain one-half game behind the Suns (26-5) for the best record in the NBA, with the teams set to meet on Christmas in Phoenix.

“That’s about as good as it gets against a very physical defense with great size,” Golden State coach Steve Kerr said. “Over the last 10-12 games, Memphis had the best defensive rating in the league. For Steph to go out and get 46, he showed every bit of his talent tonight. This was his most efficient game in a couple weeks, for sure.”

The Warriors led comfortably most of the second half before the Grizzlies made a late push and tied it at 102-all on De’Anthony Melton’s layup. But Juan Tosco-Anderson scored on a reverse, Payton made his fourth 3 and Curry scurried past three defenders in the key for a layup to help Golden State pull away.

Curry and Green both noted the significance of the win, citing the Grizzlies triumph over the Warriors in the play-in game last season.

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“Definitely wanted this one,” said Curry, who twisted his ankle in the fourth quarter but noted he was OK. “Definitely felt like it was one (we) cant let slip by because of the history but also because knowing what it’s going to take to win a game like this. You carry that chip on your shoulder and understand this is our home court.”

Ja Morant had 21 points for Memphis, which had won its previous six road matches.

“We got a ton of good looks in the paint, missed 30 shots, couldn’t get our 3-ball going,” Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins said. “They’re a hard team to beat. They played really well tonight.

With MVP chants ringing throughout the night, Curry made 13 of 22 shots (8 of 14 beyond the arc) and was 12 for 12 on free throws to top the 30-point mark for the 12th time this season and the 225th of his career.

“He had a great offensive night,” Green said. “He found space tonight. Guys did a good job of trying to get him the ball and not forcing it. You let a guy like that get clean looks, it starts an avalanche.”

The Grizzlies got off to a fast start, connecting on 13 of their first 19 shots to take a 10-point lead.

Golden State, which blew a 19-point lead when the two teams played in October, came back to tie it at 51 following Tosco-Anderson’s one-handed dunk and two free throws from Curry.

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Booker, Ayton push Suns past Lakers 108-90

Devin Booker continued to distance himself from a hamstring injury that cost him seven games, scoring 24 points with nine rebounds and seven assists as the Phoenix Suns earned a 108-90 victory Tuesday night over the Los Angeles Lakers.

Booker played 32 minutes and went 8 of 16 from the field one game after he was on the court for 26 minutes in his return Sunday during a blowout triumph over the Charlotte Hornets.

“I feel great, man, and I think every game it’s going to feel better,” Booker said. “I’m just getting some runs up under me but we have a good team that makes it easy to mesh with and get back with. When you have the support of all 15 guys, plus the coaching staff, it gives you a lot more confidence when you’re out there.”

Deandre Ayton had 19 points and 11 rebounds, and Mikal Bridges scored 14 as the Suns won their fourth straight game and improved to 2-2 on the road since the end of their 18-game winning streak Dec. 3.

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LeBron James scored 34 points for the Lakers, who lost their third game in a row as coach Frank Vogel remained in health and safety protocols for the second straight.

Four Lakers players also are in protocols, including starting guard Avery Bradley.

“Obviously, we are in a rough patch right now with guys in and out of protocol, guys who are injured,” James said. “We just have to stay together until we become whole, or as whole as possible. But I love our fight. I thought we had a good fight tonight, we just couldn’t make enough plays.”

Russell Westbrook had 22 points and 10 rebounds for the Lakers, who were without star Anthony Davis for the second consecutive game. Davis is expected to miss at least four weeks with an MCL sprain in his left knee.

James injured his left ankle with 6:05 left in the third quarter when he came down on the right foot of the Suns’ Jae Crowder. He remained in the game but looked hobbled the rest of the way.

“Yeah, I’ll be ready for next game,” James said.

Losing Booker for 2 1/2 weeks could have sent the Suns spiraling backward, but they found success and still hold the best record in the NBA as Christmas approaches.

“I think a big part of it comes down to our team culture, how guys step into situations and we remain ourselves,” said Cameron Johnson, who also had 14 points.

“You can see our identity on the court when we have everybody. It’s a group of guys that likes playing together and we play for each other.”

After a slow start and a 54-52 lead at halftime, the Suns led by as many as 13 in the third quarter on two occasions and carried an 85-73 lead into the fourth. The Lakers’ Carmelo Anthony was ejected in the third period when he argued a non-call after a shot attempt and received his second technical.

Phoenix’s lead reached 20 points for the first time at 100-80 with 5:17 remaining on Johnson’s 3-pointer.

Chris Paul had 11 points and nine assists for the Suns, who face the Oklahoma City Thunder at home Thursday before their Christmas showdown in Phoenix versus the Golden State Warriors. JaVale McGee had 10 points and 10 rebounds.

Veteran guard Isaiah Thomas scored three points on 1-of-11 shooting in his third game since signing with the Lakers on Friday. Talen Horton-Tucker had three points on 1-of-13 shooting for Los Angeles in his first game back from health and safety protocols.

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Curry, Warriors beat Kings 113-98 in short-handed showdown

Draymond Green and the Golden State Warriors gave his son an early 5th birthday gift by permitting the boy to help on the sidelines running towels, shooting shirts and masks to Warriors players along their bench.

And dad delivered his first triple-double of the season to boot.

Green notched his franchise-leading 31st career triple-double with 16 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists with Draymond Jr. an equally big star as Golden State held off the Sacramento Kings 113-98 on Monday night in a matchup of short-handed rivals due to COVID protocols.

“You like that?” Green shared of his postgame chat with young Draymond Jr., or “DJ.”

“It was fun, Daddy,” the boy answered before his father made clear, “We can’t do it all the time, we can do it sometimes.”

Green was thrilled with the opportunity for his son, who he praised for being “well-behaved” and doing just enough while staying out of the way.

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The Vikings’ final three matches are at home versus the Los Angeles Rams and at NFC North champion Green Bay before they host Chicago in the finale. The result in this one was hardly a surprise given the state of the Bears (4-10).

Chicago lost for the eighth time in nine games, and with 14 players on the reserve/COVID-19 list, that seemed inevitable. Receiver Allen Robinson was on it, as was the starting secondary.

The health issues also hit the coaching staff, with all three coordinators testing positive for the coronavirus during the week.

Defensive coordinator Sean Desai was cleared to return hours before kickoff. Offensive coordinator Bill Lazor was not cleared, so Nagy called plays. And special teams coordinator Chris Tabor was out.

Cousins, who struggled last week, didn’t exactly dominate in this one. He was 12 of 24 for 87 yards with an interception and got sacked four times. The two-time Pro Bowler also connected with Justin Jefferson for a 12-yard touchdown in the first quarter and threw a 7-yarder to Ihmir Smith-Marsette in the third.

Dalvin Cook ran for 89 yards, after going for 205 versus Pittsburgh in a sooner-than-expected return from a dislocated shoulder.

D.J. Wonnum had a career-high three sacks and the Vikings recovered three fumbles on the way to their second straight win after back-to-back losses.

“It’s not just playing better, it’s getting better,” Zimmer said. “It’s getting better in the run defense, getting better in the pass coverage, it’s getting better in protection. It’s getting better in running the ball. It’s all those things. We’re trying to get better so we can get to that spot where we’ve got to get to.”

For the Bears and their fans, it was another frustrating outing.

Fields threw for 285 yards and ran for 35 in his second game back after missing two with broken ribs. The rookie completed 26 of 39 passes playing behind a line missing both starting tackles, with right tackle Larry Borom on the COVID list and left tackle Jason Peters out with an ankle injury.

Robert Quinn and Akiem Hicks each had two sacks. Quinn has 16 this year, leaving him just shy of Hall of Famer Richard Dent’s franchise record of 17 1/2 in 1984. But Chicago committed nine penalties for 91 yards in a sloppy performance that had fans again booing at times and making their feelings about coach Matt Nagy known, chanting “Fire Nagy!”

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DeRozan leads Bulls over Lakers 115-110 in team’s return

DeMar DeRozan scored 38 points after missing two weeks in the NBA’s health and safety protocols, leading the Chicago Bulls to a 115-110 triumph over the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday night.

Nikola Vucevic had 19 points and 13 rebounds, and Lonzo Ball added 19 points as the Bulls snapped a two-game losing streak. It was Chicago’s first match since Dec. 11 after two were postponed.

LeBron James had 31 points, Carmelo Anthony added 21 and Russell Westbrook 20 as Los Angeles dropped its second straight.

With the Bulls trailing by a point in the final minute, DeRozan hit an 18-footer for a 111-110 lead with 52 seconds remaining. Following a Lakers miss, DeRozan missed a shot but then was fouled with 15.6 seconds left after Ball grabbed the offensive rebound. DeRozan then hit both free throws for a 113-110 edge.

Like much of the first two months of the season, the Bulls turned to DeRozan in crunch time and he delivered.

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“It’s an honor to be trusted in those moments,” he said. “I never take it for granted. It’s an adrenaline rush that you can’t duplicate, so you try to make the most of it every time you’re put in that position. There’s nothing like it. You’ve got to take the good with the bad, and I’m willing to take both.”

Before having two matches postponed last week due to a COVID-19 outbreak, the Bulls had 10 players in the health and safety protocols. That number is down to four right now, including All-Star Zach LaVine.

Although the Lakers haven’t had any games postponed, they currently have six players — Kent Bazemore, Avery Bradley, Talen Horton-Tucker. Dwight Howard, Malik Monk and Austin Reaves — and coach Frank Vogel in the health and safety protocols.

Assistant David Fizdale served as coach on Sunday.

It also was Los Angeles’ first match since forward Anthony Davis sprained his left knee on Friday. He is expected to miss four weeks.

“Obviously we’re doing things on the fly, figuring out how to play with the lineups we have and the people we have available,” Westbrook said. “New guys are stepping in here, so we’ve got to do what we can. That’s it. You’ve just got to play hard and let the rest take care of itself.”

Chicago led nearly the entire first half and by as much as 10 points before taking a 61-59 halftime lead. The Lakers went ahead 65-64 early in the third quarter on a floater by Isaiah Thomas.

The teams traded baskets and leads for the remainder of the quarter before Los Angeles took an 84-83 advantage into the fourth.

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Brooklyn Nets coach Steve Nash concerned with Kevin Durant’s minutes, ‘not safe or sustainable’

Brooklyn Nets coach Steve Nash stated he’s concerned about the amount of minutes superstar forward Kevin Durant is playing this season, and that the team is going to have to monitor him closely as it navigates the next several matches with a short-handed roster ravaged by COVID-19.

“It’s a really important topic,” Nash said before Brooklyn beat the Philadelphia 76ers 114-105 at Barclays Center Thursday night for another short-handed victory.

“I don’t know we can continue to lean on him the way we have. It doesn’t feel right.

“I know he’s enjoying it. I know he’s enjoying playing at the rate he’s playing at and trying to bring his teammates along with him and all the responsibility that he’s accepted and crushed, basically. It’s just been incredible. But, at the same time, it’s not safe or sustainable to lean on him like that. There’s gonna be a lot of consideration and we’ll have to figure out ways to give him breaks.”

Durant is averaging 36.9 minutes per game this season — fourth-most in the NBA, behind Raptors guard Fred VanVleet, his teammate OG Anunoby and Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James.

That is the most minutes per game Durant has averaged in eight years, since he averaged 38.5 minutes per night during the 2013-14 season, when he scored 32 points per game and claimed his lone Most Valuable Player award.

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The 33-year-old played a season-high 48 minutes in Tuesday night’s overtime victory versus the Raptors here at Barclays Center, finishing with a 34-point triple-double in a 131-129 Brooklyn win — the fifth time in 26 games this season that he’s eclipsed the 40-minute mark. He did so after being listed as questionable to play in Tuesday’s game earlier in the day with right ankle soreness. He followed that up by playing 39 minutes in Thursday night’s game, scoring 34 points.

“I just try to do what’s required, man,” said Durant, when asked about his minutes load after Tuesday’s win. “I mean, I want to be out there. I want to play. I want to win. So, it starts there.

“Whatever I got to do to accomplish those three things, I’m going to do.”

For the Nets, though, the challenge is not just winning today — it’s winning several months from now, when Brooklyn hopes to be making a deep playoff run as it challenges for its first NBA championship.

That will require getting Durant through the season healthy in the wake of missing the entire 2019-20 season due to an Achilles tear suffered in Game 5 of the 2019 NBA Finals, and playing just 35 regular-season games last season because of recurring hamstring issues.

Durant has only missed two games so far this season.

But with Brooklyn down seven players due to the NBA’s health and safety protocols for a minimum of another week — plus remaining without Joe Harris, who is recovering from ankle surgery, and Kyrie Irving, who has not played yet this season after failing to fulfill New York City’s COVID-19 vaccine requirements, Nash said he needs to balance keeping the Nets afloat during the period they are short-handed without putting too much strain on Durant’s body.

While Nash said veteran guard Langston Galloway, whom the Nets signed with a hardship waiver Wednesday, was available for Thursday’s game — giving Brooklyn nine available players — Nash admitted that having just enough players available to keep playing is a double-edged sword.

“The question is we’re above the threshold, so to speak, which is positive,” Nash said, referring to the NBA’s minimum requirement of having eight healthy players available to play in a game. “At the same time, we’re barely above the threshold. So what toll does that take on our players?

“Is it better to be over the threshold and to not be playing until you have a healthy roster or is it better to have enough to play but to be short-handed and the burden and the toll that takes on these guys and knowing that you’re going to have guys coming back who haven’t been able to practice or play basketball? So it is definitely tricky to navigate.”

As for Brooklyn’s opponent Thursday, 76ers coach Doc Rivers stated Georges Niang — who tested positive for COVID-19 Wednesday — said no one else had tested positive yet. But after going through their own outbreak earlier this season, one that cost them both superstar center Joel Embiid and second-leading scorer Tobias Harris, Rivers said the team held a call Wednesday to try to tighten up their own protocols amid COVID-19 spikes across the country — let alone in professional sports.

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Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo in protocols, ruled out for Wednesday, but Khris Middleton (knee) questionable

The Milwaukee Bucks listed Giannis Antetokounmpo as out for Wednesday’s game versus the Indiana Pacers after he was placed in the NBA’s health and safety protocols Tuesday night.

Antetokounmpo went into the protocols a day after scoring 20 points in 34 minutes in a 117-103 loss to the Celtics in Boston. Bucks guard Wesley Matthews has also been in the protocols the past two matches.

Later Tuesday, the Bucks added guard Donte DiVincenzo to the protocols list, giving Milwaukee six players out of play for Wednesday’s game: Antetokounmpo, DiVincenzo, Matthews, DeMarcus Cousins (personal reasons), Brook Lopez (back surgery) and Semi Ojeleye (calf strain).

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To clear the protocols, a player must either be out for a minimum of 10 days or return two negative PCR tests at least 24 hours apart.

Tuesday’s news now leaves Antetokounmpo’s status for Milwaukee’s rematch with Boston on Christmas Day in doubt.

In one positive piece of news for the Bucks, All-Star Khris Middleton was only listed as questionable for Wednesday’s match after positive results from imaging done on his hyperextended left knee suffered during Monday’s loss.

The injury occurred when Middleton collided with teammate Rodney Hood as they went after a defensive rebound late in the third quarter, and his leg buckled awkwardly. After he winced and stayed on the ground for a moment, Middleton got up and limped to the other end of the court for Milwaukee’s ensuing offensive possession.

As soon as it was over, however, the Bucks committed a foul, and Middleton walked straight off the court and into the locker room.

It turned out, however, that Milwaukee’s positive thoughts after the game about Middleton’s status — including comments from coach Mike Budenholzer, Antetokounmpo and Jrue Holiday, as well as Middleton being seen leaving the locker room under his own power — proved true, and he should miss little time, if any.

Milwaukee has six games over an 11-day span starting Wednesday, followed by a road game in New Orleans, home games versus Cleveland and Houston, a road game in Dallas and then the Christmas Day showdown with Boston at home.

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Rockets beat shorthanded Nets 114-104 for 7th straight win

Eric Gordon scored 21 points before being ejected in the fourth quarter and Garrison Mathews added 19 as the Houston Rockets extended their winning streak to seven games with a 114-104 triumph over the shorthanded Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday night.

Before the streak, the Rockets dropped their previous 15 matches. It’s the first time Houston has won seven consecutive since winning eight in a row in November 2019.

“The adversity that we went through prior to this point has made it even sweeter,” coach Stephen Silas said. “We’re feeling pretty good about ourselves.”

James Harden had 25 points for the Eastern Conference-leading Nets on a night when NBA leading scorer Kevin Durant and LaMarcus Aldridge both sat out for rest. It was Harden’s second visit to Houston since he was traded in January during his ninth season with the Rockets.

The Rockets led by 17 to start the fourth quarter and the Nets cut the deficit to four before Houston pulled away.

Mathews, who had 12 points in the fourth, scored four in a 5-0 run that extended Houston’s lead to 109-97. Patty Mills made one of two free throws for the Nets before a three-point play by D.J. Augustin made it 112-98 with about two minutes to go.

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“When you beat a team like that it means something,” Mathews said. “This streak’s been a huge boost to our confidence. It’s been a huge boost to our morale.”

The loss snapped a six-game road winning streak for the Nets, whose nine road victories are tied with the Suns for most in the NBA.

The Nets shot just 8 of 33 from 3-point range, with Harden going 3 of 12 and finishing 4 of 16 overall. He was 14 for 16 from the line.

“I got the shots I wanted, for sure,” he said. “I just didn’t make them.”

Harden received a fair number of boos when he was introduced and each time he had the ball early. But he got a warm ovation after a highlight video of his time in Houston was played during a timeout in the first quarter.

He formed his hands into the shape of a heart as he held them over his head and then moved them to his chest and smiled as the crowd cheered.

Harden stated playing in Houston will always be meaningful to him.

“Very special,” he said. “I spent some of my most amazing years here on the court and off the court.”

Cam Thomas had 18 points for Brooklyn, and Mills added 12.

A 10-0 spurt by the Nets got them within four with about 7½ minutes left. Harden capped that run when he made a 3-pointer as he crashed to the court after being fouled by Mathews and made the free throw for a four-point play.

Gordon was ejected soon after that when he received his second technical foul of the game for yelling at the officials about not getting a foul call.

Harden’s free throw after Gordon’s technical cut the lead to four, but a 6-1 spurt by the Rockets, highlighted by a 3 from Mathews, made it 104-95 with 4½ minutes left.

Houston led by as many as 20 and took control of the game with a 37-point second quarter. The Rockets ended the third quarter on a 6-2 run, punctuated by a one-handed dunk by Kenyon Martin Jr. to make it 90-73 entering the fourth.

Houston rookie Josh Christopher stole the ball from Jevon Carter and dished to Martin on the other end, and he sailed over Carter for the slam.

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LaVine nets 32, Bulls overcome DeRozan’s absence, top Denver

The Chicago Bulls found out they had to get by without DeMar DeRozan, then showed they have enough to keep winning, even when they’re missing one of their best players.

It sure is a welcomed change for Zach LaVine after years of losing.

“No idea, brother,” he said, laughing.

LaVine scored 32 points and the Bulls overcame DeRozan’s absence to beat the Denver Nuggets 109-97 on Monday night.

The Bulls took a big hit a few hours before tipoff when DeRozan, their leading scorer, entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols. Even without the four-time All-Star, they dominated down the stretch and tied Brooklyn for the Eastern Conference lead.

It’s just another sign of how far the Bulls have come. After four consecutive losing seasons, they hope to make the playoffs for the first time since 2017.

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The Chicago Bulls found out they had to get by without DeMar DeRozan, then showed they have enough to keep winning, even when they’re missing one of their best players.

It sure is a welcomed change for Zach LaVine after years of losing.

“No idea, brother,” he said, laughing.

LaVine scored 32 points and the Bulls overcame DeRozan’s absence to beat the Denver Nuggets 109-97 on Monday night.

The Bulls took a big hit a few hours before tipoff when DeRozan, their leading scorer, entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols. Even without the four-time All-Star, they dominated down the stretch and tied Brooklyn for the Eastern Conference lead.

It’s just another sign of how far the Bulls have come. After four consecutive losing seasons, they hope to make the playoffs for the first time since 2017.

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Grizzlies throttle Thunder by NBA-record 73-point margin

The game was long decided and the Memphis starters were relegated to cheerleaders on the bench when John Konchar got a steal and headed to the basket.

His right-handed dunk gave the Grizzlies a 145-67 lead over the Oklahoma City Thunder with 3:02 left and a new franchise record for points in a match.

That 78-point advantage was Memphis’ biggest lead on Thursday night, but by the time it was over the Grizzlies were still 73 points ahead. Their 152-79 victory over the Thunder shattered the NBA record for the largest margin of victory.

“At that moment, I didn’t know it was a franchise record,” Konchar said. “I just kind of saw the lane, and I dunked it. But it’s awesome.”

The 73-point margin easily topped the previous mark, which was Cleveland’s 68-point win over Miami. The Cavaliers topped the Heat 148-80 on Dec. 17, 1991.

“Tonight is not necessarily who we are,” Thunder coach Mark Daigneault said. “I think we’ve definitely shown that from a competitive standpoint. This isn’t indicative of who our team is.”

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Memphis used 12 players and nine of them reached double figures in scoring, with Jaren Jackson Jr.’s 27 points leading the way for the Grizzlies. Memphis was without its best player, injured guard Ja Morant.

It was 72-36 at halftime and the Grizzlies just kept adding to the lead.

“I think there was some slippage defensively and I think before you know it, teams are in a rhythm and the game is out of hand,” Oklahoma City’s Mike Muscala said. “We didn’t fight, obviously. You’d rather go out fighting. You would rather go out putting your best foot forward and playing together.”

The Thunder flirted with being on the wrong end of the record last season, trailing Indiana by 67 points on May 1 before rallying — such as it was — to lose by merely 57 points, 152-95.

This was worse. Historically worse.

The Grizzlies set a franchise record for shooting, making 62.5% of their shots. De’Anthony Melton scored 19 points, Santi Aldama scored 18 and John Konchar scored 17 for the Grizzlies, and none of those three players even started.

“Man, it feels great. It feels great to be in the history books, especially in front of our home crowd,” Melton stated. “And we did it one through 15. Everybody contributed, everybody played hard and we all got to get in the game. So, it’s always a blessing.

“We knew with (Morant) going down what we had to do,” Melton said. “We had to step up.”

No Memphis starter played more than 21 minutes. Lu Dort led the Thunder with 15 points, and Oklahoma City shot only 33%.

It was 12-8 after five minutes. From there, there was no stopping Memphis. The Grizzlies outscored the Thunder by 15 points in each of the four quarters.

It was the third consecutive game the Grizzlies have led from start to finish.

The Thunder lost their eighth straight as they continued to play without a number of players, including leading scorer Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who entered concussion protocol earlier Thursday. Gilgeous-Alexander scored 39 points against the Rockets on Wednesday night but suffered a blow to the head late in the match.

Point guard Josh Giddey, who averages 10.4 points and 5.5 assists, sat out with a non-COVID-19 illness, and the remaining players couldn’t fill the void in Oklahoma City’s offense.

The Thunder had been competitive in their seven straight losses before Thursday night. Their largest margin of defeat was 13 points.

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