Category Archives: NBA

Nets´ Irving hopes to return within a week

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Anthony Davis leaves with lower back injury after scary fall

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Jazz take 5 game win streak to New Orleans

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Bucks hold off Timberwolves

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Clippers Patrick Beverley to miss some games

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Maverricks´Luka Doncic scores 24 in return from sprained ankle

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

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

DeMar DeRozan led the Spurs with 21 points.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Doncic said his ankle was good.

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

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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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