Pelicans waive Anthony Brown

The New Orleans Pelicans announced today that the team has waived guard/forward Anthony Brown.

Brown, 6-7, 211, who was originally signed by New Orleans on Nov. 21, appeared in nine games for the Pelicans, averaging 3.9 points and 2.5 rebounds in 15.9 minutes per game.

New Orleans’ roster currently stands at 14.

Nerlens Noel almost ready to return

Nerlens Noel almost ready to return

The weeks and months have quickly piled up. Nerlens Noel has not played an NBA regular-season game since last season ended for the Sixers on April 13. Nearly eight months later, Noel is nearing the return he has been eyeing for quite some time now.

“It’s always an excitement to be able to play basketball after this amount of time, including the summer, not being able to play organized basketball at a competitive level,” Noel said Thursday. “I’ve been really looking forward to this. I think I’ve gained some momentum coming back from this minor surgery, and I think I’m in a really good place and I’m feeling good with my body. Everything is on point.”

Noel has been sidelined since undergoing elective left knee surgery in October to address an inflamed plica. He traveled to New Orleans on Wednesday to join the Sixers ahead of their 99-88 win over the Pelicans (see game recap). Noel continued his rehab Thursday while the team prepped for the game.

– CSN Philly

Quick Take: The Sixers are 5-18 this season, the second worst record in the NBA, ahead only of the 4-17 Mavericks. It’s nice that they’re getting Noel back, but it’s very unclear how he, Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor will fit together. The chemistry experiment will be worth watching.

Ian Mahinmi having knee checked out

Ian Mahinmi having knee checked out

Ian Mahinmi, who has appeared in just one game for the Wizards this season because of injuries to both knees, will get another MRI on his right one Friday, league sources tell CSNmidatlantic.com.

Mahinmi was the Wizards’ most expensive offseason acquisition this summer and set to back up Marcin Gortat in the middle. However, he required surgery to repair torn cartilage in his left knee before the season tipped and then developed soreness — believed to be tendinitis, league sources told CSN — in the right knee after playing just 14 minutes vs. the San Antonio Spurs on Nov. 26.

– CSN MidAtlantic

Quick Take: The Wizards have gotten a total of 14 total minutes in one game of action from Mahinmi so far this season. Hopefully he’s able to produce soon. The team needs him.

Lakers dealing with multiple injuries

Lakers dealing with multiple injuries

When Lakers coach Luke Walton and his staff meet before every game to finalize offensive sets and defensive schemes, they often tackle another question. Who do we start?

Finding themselves without D’Angelo Russell (left knee), Nick Young (right leg) and Jose Calderon (right hamstring) in recent weeks, those conversations have become more difficult.

As the Lakers were reminded in their 134-95 loss to the Houston Rockets on Wednesday at Toyota Center, seemingly none of the combinations they have tried since the slew of injuries has adequately addressed the team’s diminished backcourt situation or its slow starts. On Wednesday, Walton started seldom-used guard Marcelo Huertas at point guard and inserted reserve Jordan Clarkson into the starting shooting guard spot he assumed for all of the 2015-16 season.

– OC Register

Quick Take:  The Lakers are 10-14 this season, which is solid considering they’ve lost four games in a row and seven of their last 10. Earlier in the season when they enjoyed good health, they were one of the most fun teams to watch in the league. There’s no reason why they can’t resume that once the squad is complete again.

Derrick Rose misses game vs Cavs

Derrick Rose misses game vs Cavs

Derrick Rose missed the Knicks’ game against Cleveland Wednesday night at the Garden because of lower back pain, the first game he’s missed since joining the team.

The point guard underwent an MRI on Wednesday, which the Knicks said revealed no structural damage. He’s day-to-day and is expected to travel with the Knicks on Thursday to the West Coast for their five-game road trip that begins Friday night in Sacramento.

Rose has missed 228 games over the last five seasons and made one of his goals to play in all 82 in his first year as a Knick.

NY Newsday

Quick Take: The Knicks are missing D-Rose early, trailing the Cavs by 16 points mid second quarter.

Jodie Meeks helping Magic so far

jodie meeks magic shooting well

Jodie Meeks made a major impact in his first few games back from foot surgery in mid-July.

The veteran shooting guard made 54.5 percent of his 3-point tries and averaged 11.7 points in games against the Philadelphia 76ers, Detroit Pistons and Washington Wizards.

It’s no coincidence that the Orlando Magic won all three games.

Meeks was especially efficient in the Magic’s 124-116 win over the Wizards on Tuesday. He scored 18 points in 16 minutes as he sank four of his five attempts from beyond the arc.

Orlando Sentinel

Quick Take: The Magic are 10-12 this season, which is tied for 10th best in the East. They’re being led this season by Evan Fournier (16.9 ppg), Serge Ibaka (14.5 ppg) and Nikola Vucevic (12.4 ppg, 11.3 rpg). Their offense has been a major struggle all season. So far, Meeks is helping.

Jose Calderon out 2-4 weeks with hamstring strain

Lakers guard Jose Calderon, who was injured in the first quarter of Saturday night’s game in Memphis, was evaluated and had an MRI by team orthopedist Dr. David McAllister of UCLA Health. The results confirmed a right hamstring strain, which is expected to sideline Calderón 2-4 weeks.

In 14 games (nine starts) this season for the Lakers, Calderón is averaging 4.7 points, 2.6 assists, and 2.2 rebounds in 13.9 minutes per game while shooting 41.7% from three-point range.

Grizzlies sign Toney Douglas

Grizzlies sign Toney Douglas

Memphis Grizzlies General Manager Chris Wallace today announced the team has signed guard Toney Douglas pursuant to the NBA’s hardship rule.

Douglas (6-2, 195) has appeared in 370 regular season games (65 starts) and averaged 7.8 points, 2.2 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 19.2 minutes during his seven-year NBA career with the New York Knicks, Houston Rockets, Sacramento Kings, Golden State Warriors, Miami Heat and New Orleans Pelicans.

Most recently, Douglas was a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers’ 2016 preseason roster. He played in 61 games (18 starts) last season with New Orleans and averaged 8.7 points, 2.3 rebounds and 2.6 assists in 20.7 minutes while shooting 41.1 percent from the field, 39.9 percent from three-point range and 84.8 percent from the free throw line.

The 30-year-old has competed in 15 playoff games (three starts) with New York and Miami, including a 10-game postseason run with the Heat in 2013-14. During his stint in Miami, Douglas was coached by then-Heat assistant and current Grizzlies head coach David Fizdale.

A native of Jonesboro, Ga., Douglas was drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round (29th overall) of the 2009 NBA Draft after his senior season at Florida State University. While with the Knicks, he scored 29 points and made a career-high nine three-pointers against the Grizzlies on March 17, 2011 at Madison Square Garden.

Magic Johnson rejoining ESPN NBA coverage

Magic Johnson rejoining ESPN NBA coverage

ESPN today announced that Earvin “Magic” Johnson, the two-time Naismith Basketball Hall of Famer and sports icon, will return to the company and re-join NBA Countdown as a studio analyst this season, first appearing as part of ABC’s Christmas NBA coverage. From there, Johnson will join NBA Countdown pre-game coverage for the NBA Saturday Primetime on ABC series – the NBA’s marquee game of the week, starting Jan. 21, 2017.

Johnson will re-unite with Michael Wilbon, who is also making his return to NBA Countdown as an analyst this season on Saturday nights. They will join Sage Steele, returning for her 4th season as NBA Countdown host, to form the new Saturday trio.

Saturday editions of NBA Countdown begin at 8 p.m. ET and are 30 minutes long, prior to the 8:30 p.m. game broadcast.

InsideHoops.com says: Magic Johnson’s NBA analysis tends to be on the… basic side of things. But he’s famous, likable, a familiar face to the masses, and a basketball legend.

Joakim Noah back in action for Knicks

Jeff Hornacek, psychic.

Before Sunday night’s game, Hornacek spoke about the Knicks’ need to finish and step on opponents’ throats which sort of became a theme when the Knicks let a 21-point lead get whittled to one before winning. But earlier in the day, he told his wife he believed Brandon Jennings would have a big game.

Hornacek was 2-for-2. Jennings scored 19 points and made huge endgame plays.

“He gave us a big lift. I saw it this morning,” Hornacek said after the 106-98 victory against the Kings…

Joakim Noah back in action for Knicks

Joakim Noah returned from a two-game absence with a sprained ankle. Noah has battled a series of ills, including flu and a hamstring which everybody concedes has hindered his acclimation to a new system.

“I feel better, but I still have a lot of work to do. Can’t get frustrated with the process,” Noah said. “Our team is definitely playing a lot better basketball right now. So just keep focusing on the positive and just keep focusing on my improvement. I’ve had a lot of knick-knacks from the start of this. The hamstring, ankles, I got sick. I’m just trying to get some consistency right now. … It’s going to come.”

NY Post

Quick Take: Noah started the game, played almost 25 minutes, and only put up two points and five rebounds. He’s having an underwhelming season so far.

Dwight Powell steps up in Mavs win vs Bulls

All it took for Dwight Powell to play his best NBA game was to be patient and not get ahead of himself.

Powell used that strategy to tally a career-high 17 points and pull down eight rebounds Saturday night as the Dallas Mavericks crushed the Chicago Bulls 107-82. It was just the fourth win of the season for the Mavs, who entertain the Charlotte Hornets on Monday night at American Airlines Center.

The Mavs have been searching for this production out of Powell ever since they signed him to a four-year, $37 million contract July 8. And they believe they’ve figured out a way to squeeze the best out of Powell — a third-year pro described as a gym rat by the coaching staff.

“He is just getting better and getting more experience,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “He is recognizing situations a little bit better.”

– Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Quick Take: The Mavs have been one of the worst teams in the league so far this season, with a 4-15 record through Sunday’s games. With Dirk Nowitzki mostly watching from the sideline this season, Deron Williams missing a lot of time, Jose Barea out and lots of other stuff going wrong, there’s nowhere to go but up. Maybe. Hopefully.

Reggie Jackson returns to action for Pistons

Reggie Jackson’s return was a welcomed sight for the Pistons fans at The Palace. But on the same night Jackson made his season debut, the defense departed — and the Pistons paid for it.

They had a good start but a lackluster second quarter put them in a hole they couldn’t dig out of, as they fell to the Magic, 98-92, on Sunday night at The Palace.

The loss ended the Pistons’ three-game win streak; they also had won seven straight against the Magic — including the last four at home.

Jackson, who missed the first 21 games after recovering from tendinitis treatments in his knee and thumb, made his first shot of the game — a second-chance 3-pointer — and finished with 18 points and four assists in 23 minutes.

– Detroit News

Quick Take: The Pistons are 11-11 this season. They’re being led in scoring by Tobias Harris (17.1 ppg), Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (15.2 ppg), Andre Drummond (14.3 ppg) and Marcus Morris (14.0 ppg). Reggie Jackson, now that he’s back, will be a nice upgrade over Ish Smith.

Kevin Durant fitting in perfectly with Warriors

Sometimes, as they do in Kevin Durant’s case, numbers tell the story.

Twenty games into his inaugural Warriors season, Durant not only leads his team with 27.3 points per game but leads his team — and the entire NBA — in scoring efficiently.

Durant ranked seventh in the league in points per game and eighth in field-goal percentage (56.2) entering Sunday’s games. That made him the only player in the top 10 in scoring to also rank among the top 20 in field-goal percentage.

Widen the scope and Durant’s efficiency becomes even more striking. The only other players in the top 10 in scoring to also rank among the top 30 in field-goal percentage were New Orleans’ Anthony Davis (No. 1 in scoring and No. 21 in field-goal percentage through Saturday) and the Warriors’ Stephen Curry (No. 8 in scoring, No. 29 in field-goal percentage).

– San Francisco Chronicle

Quick Take: Things are as expected in Golden State. The offense is beautiful and amazing. The defense is still improving. And overall, Durant has been the best of a very talented bunch.

Stan Van Gundy calls out Stanley Johnson

Stan Van Gundy calls out Stanley Johnson“Stan has to become a much better worker and learner,” Pistons president-coach Stan Van Gundy said Friday before Detroit’s game against the Atlanta Hawks (8 p.m., FSD).

“He just does. He’s a great competitor — if you put him on the floor, he’s going to work really, really hard. But he’s got to get better at all the stuff that leads up to going onto the court.”

Van Gundy specifically pointed to practice and off-days, where Johnson, now 20, sometimes puts in less than 100 percent effort compared to his fellow bench counterparts.

“He’s got to be a better practice guy,” Van Gundy said. “He’s got to be a better workout guy. He’s got to be better with all that stuff. Really working to get better. Once he’s out there competing, you don’t have a problem with that. He’ll play as hard as anybody, but he’s got to understand that’s not the whole thing. It’s preparing to play.”

– Michigan Live

Quick Take: In his rookie season (last year) Stanley Johnson played 23.1 minutes per game and averaged 8.1 points and 4.2 rebounds, on just 37.5% shooting. This season, Johnson is playing 14.9 minutes per game and getting just 4.0 points on 41.7% FG. More is expected of him. But as mentioned above, he’s not even 21 years old yet. Plenty of time for improvement.

Steve Kerr says Draymond Green leg-flail goes back many years

Long before he received a flagrant-1 foul in the Warriors’ double-overtime loss to Houston on Thursday night, Draymond Green was flailing his leg to draw fouls.

“Draymond’s been doing this since college,” Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said Friday. “I never saw him play in high school, but maybe he’s been doing this since high school.”

After Green’s leg extensions became a major story line in the 2016 playoffs, referees are wary of the tactic. Midway through the second overtime Thursday, after Green kicked James Harden in the face coming down on a putback attempt, the Golden State forward was assessed a flagrant-1.

– San Francisco Chronicle

Quick Take: Green needs to break the habit. I can’t think of any other player in the league that high-kicks like Draymond does. And the kick often doesn’t even look natural. He has to work to stop it. It’s that simple.

Jodie Meeks makes debut for Magic

Jodie Meeks makes debut for Magic

Jodie Meeks made his Orlando Magic debut Friday night, giving hope to an offense that ranked last in the NBA in points per possession and last in 3-point shooting percentage.

Coach Frank Vogel subbed Meeks into the Magic’s game against the Philadelphia 76ers at the Wells Fargo Center at the start of the second quarter.

Vogel expected to play Meeks for a four- or five-minute burst in each half. Meeks made his first shot attempt, a 3-pointer that put Orlando ahead 28-23.

– Orlando Sentinel

Quick Take: The Magic are 7-12 this season through Thursday’s games. Their shooting has been horrible this season. Any help Meeks can provide in that department would be greatly appreciated.

Oklahoma City Blue center Dakari Johnson today was named the NBA Development League Player of the Month for games played in November. The honor, the first of the 2016-17 season, is also the first of Johnson’s NBA D-League career.

Johnson (7-0, Kentucky) led Oklahoma City to a 6-3 record behind averages of 19.7 points, 8.6 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 2.1 blocked shots (tied for fourth in the NBA D-League). He scored at least 20 points in six games and tallied four point-rebound double-doubles.

On Nov. 26, he recorded 20 points (on 7-for-11 shooting from the field) to go with six rebounds and a career-high five blocks in a 107-104 victory over the Canton Charge. Johnson closed the month by scoring a career-high 28 points, grabbing a season-high-tying 11 rebounds and handing out a season-high five assists in a 117-108 loss to the Los Angeles D-Fenders on Nov. 29.

Other players who received consideration for the monthly award were Austin’s Patricio Garino, Fort Wayne’s Julyan Stone, Grand Rapids’ Ray McCallum and Kevin Murphy, Los Angeles’ Justin Harper, Maine’s Jalen Jones, Westchester’s Chasson Randle and Windy City’s Spencer Dinwiddie.

The Fort Wayne Mad Ants’ Steve Gansey today was named the NBA Development League Coach of the Month for games played in November.

Gansey led Fort Wayne to a 6-0 record in November, the NBA D-League’s only undefeated team for the month. The Mad Ants ranked third in the league in scoring (117.7 ppg) and second in assists (24.5 apg). Gansey oversaw standout performances by Julyan Stone, who led the NBA D-League with 11.2 assists, and Travis Leslie, who paced the team with 19.3 points. On Nov. 27, Fort Wayne erased a nine-point fourth-quarter deficit in a 95-94 victory over the Iowa Energy – the only game in November that the Mad Ants did not score at least 120 points.

Gansey is in his second season as Fort Wayne head coach after posting a 20-30 record last season. He began his coaching career as a Mad Ants assistant from 2009-14, including a stint as interim head coach in the 2011-12 season. Gansey served as the associate head coach for the Canton Charge during the 2014-15 season before returning to Fort Wayne, the NBA D-League affiliate of the Indiana Pacers.

Other coaches who received consideration for the monthly award were Los Angeles’ Coby Karl, Northern Arizona’s Tyrone Ellis, Texas’ Bob Mackinnon and Westchester’s Mike Miller.

Andre Drummond fined for elbowing Roy Hibbert

Detroit Pistons center Andre Drummond has been fined $15,000 for striking Charlotte Hornets center Roy Hibbert in the back of the head with an elbow, it was announced yesterday by Kiki VanDeWeghe, Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations.

The incident, for which Drummond was assessed a Flagrant Foul 2 and ejected, occurred with 4:09 remaining in the second quarter of the Pistons’ 112-89 win over the Hornets on Nov. 29 at Spectrum Center.

To view the incident, click on this link.

The Cleveland Cavaliers’ Tyronn Lue and the Golden State Warriors’ Steve Kerr today were named the NBA Eastern and Western Conference Coaches of the Month, respectively, for games played in October and November.

Lue guided the reigning NBA champion Cavaliers to an Eastern Conference-best 13-3 record during October and November, matching the best 16-game start in franchise history. Cleveland, which began the season with six straight victories, ranked second in the NBA in scoring (111.3 points per game), three-point field goal percentage (39.0) and three-pointers made (13.8 per game). The Cavaliers sank a team-record 21 three-pointers in a 137-125 win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Nov. 23.

Kerr led the Warriors to an NBA-best 16-2 record in October and November, including 12 victories in a row entering December. Golden State paced the NBA in scoring (117.6 ppg), assists (31.1 apg), field goal percentage (50.2) and blocked shots (6.6 bpg). The Warriors notched at least 30 assists in 10 consecutive games, the longest streak in franchise history, and they registered a team-record 47 assists in a 149-106 win against the Los Angeles Lakers on Nov. 23.

Other nominees for the NBA Eastern and Western Conference Coaches of the Month were Charlotte’s Steve Clifford, Chicago’s Fred Hoiberg, Houston’s Mike D’Antoni, the LA Clippers’ Doc Rivers, the Lakers’ Luke Walton, Memphis’ David Fizdale, San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich and Toronto’s Dwane Casey.

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