Tagged in: absence

With Harden out, Trail Blazers down the Nets 114-108

Anfernee Simons had 23 points and 11 assists, and the short-handed Portland Trail Blazers took advantage of James Harden’s absence for a 114-108 triumph over the Brooklyn Nets on Monday night.

Harden was out with a hyperextended left knee. Kyrie Irving started in his second match of the season and finished with 22 points. Kevin Durant led all scorers with 28 points and 10 rebounds for the Nets.

Robert Covington had 21 points, including five 3-pointers, for the Blazers, who saw all five starters score in double figures.

Simons stated Covington’s play against Durant boosted the team.

“I think RoCo did a good job of playing him the second half,” Simons said. “So that was that was big for us to slow him down and just kind of play team defense. We’ve been playing very hard, we’ve been making a lot less mistakes on defense. That’s been helping us.”

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Monday’s game was initially scheduled for Dec. 23 but was postponed because of COVID-19 issues.

In making up the game, both teams were playing the second of back-to-backs.

Portland led 87-81 going into the final quarter. Covington’s 3-pointer put Portland up 107-100 with 2:15 to go but the Nets closed within 110-105 down the stretch.

Ben McLemore’s 3 with 31.9 seconds left made it 113-105 and sealed it for Portland. McLemore finished with 20 points and five 3s.

“Certainly nobody in the world thought that we would win this game with the guys that we have missing, even though they’re missing some important players too,” Portland first-year coach Chauncey Billups said. “I’m more happy than anything for our team, to be honest. We’ve suffered a lot of losses in this building, a lot of bad losses.”

The Blazers again were without Damian Lillard, out with lower abdominal tendinopathy, and backcourt teammate CJ McCollum, who has been out for 14 games after a collapsed lung. Fellow starters Norman Powell (COVID-19 protocols) and Larry Nance Jr. (right knee) were also out for Portland.

Meanwhile, Nets coach Steve Nash said the team was being cautious with Harden in a dense stretch of games and that Harden should be available on Wednesday at Chicago.

Irving, who has refused to get the COVID-19 vaccine and is barred from playing in New York due to the city’s vaccine mandate, has resumed playing on the road. For his first game last week at Indiana, he finished with 22 points in nearly 32 minutes.

Irving appeared to tweak his ankle in the fourth quarter but afterward said he was fine and would play Wednesday. He criticized Portland’s Nassir Little for diving on the play: “I tried to get out of the way but I just felt like it was unnecessary for him to dive that far away from the ball.”

Brooklyn led 62-55 at the break, paced by Durant with 20 points. It was his 19th straight game with 20 or more points, the second-longest streak of 20-point games in Nets history.

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Booker has first triple-double, Suns beat Clippers 120-114

Devin Booker’s first exposure to playoff basketball continues to be a revelation.

Not necessarily for him, but for the rest of the NBA.

Booker had 40 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists for his first career triple-double and the Phoenix Suns overcame Chris Paul’s absence to defeat the Los Angeles Clippers 120-114 on Sunday in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals.

“I don’t understand why everyone’s acting surprised at this point,” Suns forward Jae Crowder said about Booker’s big day. “This is his first time on this stage but he’s capable. He’s more than capable. He’re more than ready. He prepares like no other.”

Paul sat out because of COVID-19 health and safety protocols.

Clippers star Kawhi Leonard missed his third consecutive game because of a sprained right knee.

Tied at 93 to start the fourth, the Suns went on a 12-2 run and pulled ahead 105-95 on Cam Johnson’s dunk with 8:08 left. The Clippers wouldn’t go away, though, cutting a 10-point deficit in the final two minutes to 116-114 when Terance Mann hit a 3-pointer with 22 seconds left.

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But that’s where the rally stopped for Los Angeles.

“I have no excuse,” Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said. “I thought we played hard and competed. A little credit — they were making shots and we didn’t. But I loved our fight. I loved what I saw.”

Booker scored on a dunk on the next possession to seal Phoenix’s eighth straight triumph, getting a free lane to the basket on the blown defensive coverage.

The sixth-year guard was a surprising omission from the All-NBA teams released a few days ago but he certainly looked the part on Sunday.

He wasn’t worried about where this game ranks among his best performances.

Game 2 is on Tuesday night in Phoenix.

Booker continues to cement his superstar status and was productive and efficient in one of the best games of his career. He shot 15 of 29 from the field, carving apart a defense that had to play just 36 hours after closing out the Utah Jazz on Friday night.

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Without Embiid, 76ers roll past Wizards and into 2nd round

Ben Simmons challenged Seth Curry during an afternoon “Call of Duty” session to score 30 points and send the 76ers into the next round of the playoffs. With Joel Embiid hurt, Simmons told Curry he would do his part and get a triple-double.

Maybe there’s something to this pregame gaming hobby.

“Clearly Seth listens to Ben so we’re going to use Ben as a translator for Seth from this point forward,” Sixers coach Doc Rivers stated.

Fire up the console for another round.

Curry scored a playoff career-high 30 points and Philadelphia defeated Washington 129-112 on Wednesday night to end the Easter Conference series in five games, overcoming Embiid’s absence because of a knee injury.

Atlanta awaits after beating New York in Game 5 later Wednesday. Game 1 is Sunday in Philadelphia.

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Sixers fans couldn’t wait, chanting “We want Brooklyn!” as the seconds ticked off in Game 5.

Embiid gets a few extra days of rest.

With an NBA title still in sight, the 76ers will need their injured franchise center — healthy and ready to roll — in the second round versus Atlanta.

“Jo’s been huge for us all year. It’s only right we give him as much time as he needs to get right and come back and help us win it all,” Curry said.

Tobias Harris added 28 points and teamed with Curry and Simmons to carry the offensive load with Embiid out. Simmons had 19 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds to keep the top-seeded 76ers in the hunt for their first championship since 1983.

Embiid is day to day with a small lateral meniscus tear in his right knee and he was reduced to Philadelphia’s biggest cheerleader as the Sixers put the misery of last season’s first-round sweep behind them.

Embiid gave a sneak peek that the injury suffered in a Game 4 loss might not keep him out very long.

The NBA MVP candidate had the crowd going wild when he hit the court for pregame warmups. He shot jumpers around the perimeter, fadeaways, even some free throws — all without any sort of noticeable knee brace under his white leggings —- and put on a show that proved his absence might not last beyond Game 5.

Rivers, in his first campaign, said he expected Embiid to return in the postseason.

“I don’t know when or how early,” he said. “I’m hopeful. I think that’s a better way of putting it.” Sixers fans broke out “Trust the Process!” chants over the final minutes and the laborious rebuilding plan that brought the franchise Embiid and Simmons will surely need both of them to finish the job.

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New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone has surgery to get pacemaker

New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone is taking an immediate medical leave of absence after having surgery Wednesday to get a pacemaker, the team revealed.

The team stated Boone’s surgery went “as expected” and that he will spend the night at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tampa, Florida, to rest and recover. Boone was “in good spirits,” the team said.

General manager Brian Cashman said Boone could return to the team in two to three days.

The 47-year-old Boone, who had open-heart surgery in 2009, said in a statement that he has had mild symptoms of lightheadedness, low energy and shortness of breath over the past six to eight weeks. He said further tests in New York before spring training indicated he had a low heart rate, necessitating the surgery.

“My faith is strong, and my spirits are high,” Boone said. “I’m in a great frame of mind because I know I’m in good hands with the doctors and medical staff here. … They are confident that today’s surgery will allow me to resume all of my usual professional and personal activities and afford me a positive long-term health prognosis without having to change anything about my way of life.”

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Boone, entering his fourth season as manager of the Yankees, said he looks forward “to getting back to work in the next several days.”

Bench coach Carlos Mendoza took over as acting manager for Wednesday night’s exhibition, a 4-1 victory over Toronto in Tampa.

Mendoza, 41, was a minor leaguer mostly with San Francisco and the Yankees from 1997-09 and is starting his 13th season working for the Yankees. He joined the major league staff as quality control and infield coach under Boone in 2018 and succeeded Josh Bard as bench coach for 2020.

“The mindset doesn’t change,” Mendoza said. “We have a really good group of coaches here and really good personnel that are going to continue to get these guys ready to play the regular season.”

Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner said “the thoughts of the entire organization are with Aaron and his family” in a statement released by the team.

“Aaron leads our players, coaches and staff with a rare combination of work ethic, intelligence and a genuine concern for others,” Steinbrenner said. “Our only priority at this time is Aaron’s health and well-being, and we will support him in every way throughout his recovery.”

Boone played in the major leagues from 1997 to 2009. He was an All-Star for the Cincinnati Reds in 2003 shortly before getting traded to the Yankees. Later that year, his 11th-inning home run off Boston’s Tim Wakefield in Game 7 of the AL Championship Series won the pennant for New York.

Boone is a third-generation major leaguer; his grandfather Gus, father Bob and brother Bret also played in the big leagues, and his nephew Jake is a minor leaguer in the Washington organization.

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