Charlotte Hornets center Al Jefferson underwent a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) earlier today which confirmed the team’s initial diagnosis of a strained left calf. Jefferson, who suffered the injury in the first quarter of Sunday’s 87-82 win vs. Milwaukee, is expected to be sidelined for approximately two to three weeks.

Jefferson is averaging 13.7 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game this season. The 30-year-old has led the team in rebounding in five contests and has four double-doubles in 17 games. The Prentiss, Miss. native recorded 26 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks vs. Philadelphia on Nov. 20, becoming only the second player in the NBA this season to record at least 25 points, 10-or-more rebounds and five blocks in a game. Jefferson recorded a season-high 31 points (15-of-18 from the field) and grabbed nine rebounds at Dallas on Nov. 5.

paul george

The Indiana Pacers’ Paul George and the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Kevin Durant were today named NBA Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Week, respectively, for games played Monday, Nov. 23 through Sunday, Nov. 29.

George led the Pacers to a 3-0 week behind an Eastern Conference-leading 37.3 points, 6.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.3 steals. He shot 54.7 percent from the field, 57.1 percent from three-point range and 86.7 percent from the foul line. On Nov. 24, George tallied 40 points on 14-of-19 shooting, including 7-of-8 from beyond the arc, during a 123-106 win over the Washington Wizards.

kevin durant

Durant led the Thunder to a 3-0 week behind averages of 30.3 points (second in the Western Conference), 8.3 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 2.3 blocks (fourth in the Western Conference). He shot 58.5 percent from the field, 52.2 percent from three-point range and 94.4 percent from the foul line. On Nov. 27, Durant recorded 34 points, 13 rebounds, five assists and three blocks during a 103-87 win over the Detroit Pistons.

Other nominees for the Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Week were Charlotte’s Kemba Walker, Cleveland’s Kevin Love, Golden State’s Draymond Green, Houston’s James Harden, the Los Angeles Clippers’ Blake Griffin, Orlando’s Victor Oladipo, Philadelphia’s Robert Covington, Portland’s Damian Lillard, and Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry.

Jazz assign Tibor Pleiss to D-League

The Utah Jazz announced today that the team has assigned center Tibor Pleiss to the Idaho Stampede, the Jazz’s exclusively owned and operated NBA D-League team. Pleiss is expected to be in uniform for the Stampede’s game on Tuesday, Dec. 1 at Oklahoma City.

Pleiss (7-3, 262, Germany) has seen action in four games for the Jazz this season, averaging 1.0 points in 3.3 minutes per game. He spent the 2014-15 season with FC Barcelona of the Liga ACB in Spain, averaging 5.7 points and 3.8 rebounds in 13.3 minutes per game.

Pleiss is the fourth player to be assigned to the D-League under the new Jazz-Stampede single affiliation. Other players on the current Jazz roster with D-League experience include Rudy Gobert, Chris Johnson and Elijah Millsap.

Wizards waive Martell Webster, sign Ryan Hollins

The Washington Wizards announced today that the team has waived forward Martell Webster and signed center Ryan Hollins.

“Martell, with his contributions on the court and ability to connect with the fans and the community off the court, has been a great example of the type of player we want to represent our organization,” said Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld. “He worked extremely hard to fight through his injuries but unfortunately was not able to make a healthy return. We appreciate everything he contributed to the team and wish him and his family nothing but the best.”

Webster appeared in 186 games (75 starts) with Washington and averaged 9.3 points and 3.0 rebounds while shooting .397 from behind the arc. His best season in a Wizards uniform came during the 2012-13 campaign, when he averaged a career-best 11.4 points and 3.9 rebounds in 76 games while shooting .442 from the field and a career-best .422 from deep. The 10-year veteran was originally signed by the Wizards as a free agent on August 29, 2012.

Hollins is a nine-year NBA veteran who has averaged 3.7 points and 2.2 rebounds in 481 career games (64 starts), with Charlotte, Dallas, Minnesota, Cleveland, Boston, the Los Angeles Clippers and Sacramento. Last season with the Kings, he appeared in 46 games (nine starts) and averaged 3.0 points and 2.2 rebounds in 9.6 minutes per contest. He was originally selected with the 50th pick in the 2006 NBA Draft by Charlotte out of the University of California.

Sixers fall to 0-18

Here’s CSN Philly reporting on the 76ers, who are 0-18 this season and being outscored by an average of 12.1 ppg:

Sixers fall to 0-18

The Sixers again made some dubious history in Sunday night’s 92-84 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies at the FedEx Forum.

In addition to extending the longest losing streak in the history of major league North American sports to 28 games, the Sixers also tied the NBA record for longest losing streak to open a season, tying the 2009-10 New Jersey Nets’ mark of 18 in a row.

The Sixers also lost for the fifth straight game in which they led midway through the fourth quarter.

Here’s the Orange County Register reporting on the upcoming retirement of Kobe Bryant, which will occur at the end of this NBA season:

Kobe Bryant will retire at end of season

Kobe Bryant, maybe the greatest Laker in the organization’s history, announced his plans to retire following the 2015-16 season Sunday.

The announcement came in a letter written for The Players’ Tribune.

“This season is all I have left to give,” Bryant wrote. “My heart can take the pounding. My mind can handle the grind. But my body knows it’s time to say goodbye.”

Bryant is in the midst of his 20th season and struggingly like he’s never have before. Bryant is shooting a career-worst 31.5 percent from the field and 19.5 percent from 3-point range.

Unusual early-season schedule for Thunder

Here’s the Oklahoman reporting on the OKC Thunder schedule, which has kept things moving, to say the least:

Unusual early-season schedule for Thunder

Flight. Game. Flight back home.

Flight. Game. Flight back home.

Flight. Game. Flight back home.

That’s how it’s been so far for the Thunder this season — a strange scheduling quirk that hasn’t sent OKC on a multiple-game road trip through the first month.

This week, that finally changes, with the Thunder heading southeast for a Monday night game in Atlanta and a Thursday night game in Miami. OKC, surprisingly, doesn’t have a three-plus game road trip until early January.

Adam Silver statement on Kobe Bryant retirement announcement

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver issued the following statement regarding Kobe Bryant’s announcement today that this will be his final season in the NBA:

“With 17 NBA All-Star selections, an NBA MVP, five NBA championships with the Lakers, two Olympic gold medals and a relentless work ethic, Kobe Bryant is one of the greatest players in the history of our game. Whether competing in the Finals or hoisting jump shots after midnight in an empty gym, Kobe has an unconditional love for the game.

“I join Kobe’s millions of fans around the world in congratulating him on an outstanding NBA career and thank him for so many thrilling memories.”

Here’s the Los Angeles Daily News reporting on the not-so-existent relationship between Lakers center Roy Hibbert and his former team, the Indiana Pacers:

Roy Hibbert has not kept in touch with the Pacers

Roy Hibbert’s past and present will collide on Sunday when the Lakers host the Pacers. He maintained he has “great memories” of his seven-year NBA career in Indiana. But his last season ended on a sour note amid a reduced role to accommodate a quicker and smaller lineup. The Pacers then traded Hibbert to the Lakers last summer for a second-round draft pick.

“I’m going to feel something,” said Hibbert, who will become a free agent next summer after making $15.5 million this season. “But I have to move on and try to get a win.”

Hibbert insisted he has no hard feelings, but admitted he has not kept in touch with anyone associated with the Pacers.

“I haven’t talked to them in a while,” Hibbert said. “I haven’t watched any of their games. No offense, but I don’t think many of them are on TV.”

Here’s the Detroit Free Press reporting on Pistons center Andre Drummond, who has quieted down a bit lately:

Andre Drummond must keep bringing energy, says Van Gundy

Whether it’s the aftereffects of a cold or the grind of ranking in the top 20 in minutes played, Andre Drummond isn’t showing the same energy from earlier this season.

Drummond, the NBA’s leading rebounder, only grabbed seven in the Detroit Pistons’ 103-87 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday night.

He scored 15 points, but he was only 7-for-16 from the field.

The lackluster effort had Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy looking back to another mediocre effort from earlier in the week.

“I didn’t think he brought much energy to the Milwaukee game, and I didn’t think he brought much energy tonight,” Van Gundy said of the two beatings the Pistons received this week. “Why that is, I don’t know. But we need a lot more from him than we got tonight.”

Defense stays strong for Spurs

Here’s the San Antonio Express-News blog reminding everyone that the Spurs’ defense is still a force to be reckoned with:

The Spurs’ 91-80 win over the Nuggets on Friday night was the club’s latest in a string of outstanding defensive efforts.

But this one was even more impressive than the others because it came while Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili were home in San Antonio resting.

It seems no matter who is or isn’t in the lineup, there is one constant with the Spurs: They play great defense.

“It’s what we rely on,” Boris Diaw said in the visitor’s locker room at the Pepsi Center after the Spurs limited the Nuggets to 40.3 percent shooting and forced 18 turnovers that led to 15 points.

Now this is a huge story that may shake up the entire sports world. It will certainly create drama out in the streets. Here’s the New York Post reporting:

Robin Lopez says Brook Lopez`s cat is very two-faced

Leading up to Friday’s Nets vs. Knicks face-off, two of the competing athletes are having a real catfight.

The Knicks’ new 7-foot center, Robin Lopez, has harsh words about his twin brother, Brook, who plays for the crosstown competition.

More specifically, he’s trash-talking his sibling’s pet.

“Brook’s cat is very two-faced,” Robin tells The Post. “Everybody loves Brook’s cat. To everybody’s face, he’s such a nice cat. And it may sound like I’m joking, but I am dead serious. He acts like a lazy, sweet cat when everybody is looking. But when their heads turn, he’ll try to chase after [my cat] Edward. The second I lay eyes on him, he’ll act like, ‘I’m a cherub. I’m innocent.’ I’m not buying it.”

In fact, the brothers don’t live together because of their felines: Brook’s kitty Poupin — French for “chubby” — and Robin’s majestically monikered Prince Edward Zephyr.

The Lakers are struggling badly this season, as is the legendary Kobe Bryant. And each shot that Kobe takes is a shot that young players who represent the future of the franchise are not taking. But fans want to see Kobe, especially since this may be his final season. As for Kobe’s minutes, here’s the Los Angeles Daily News blog reporting:

Kobe Bryant playing time remains a discussion point

Well before Kobe Bryant stepped on the court in his 20th and likely last NBA season, it appeared obvious the Lakers’ slate of 18 back-to-back games would represent a major factor in his workload.

But Lakers coach Byron Scott conceded uncertainty how will handle Bryant’s playing time when the Lakers (2-12) play the Portland Trail Blazers (6-10) on Saturday at Moda Center before hosting the Indiana Pacers (9-5) on Sunday at Staples Center.

“Tomorrow we’ll play him,” Scott said following Friday’s practice at the Lakers’ facility in El Segundo. “Then we’ll see how he looks for Sunday.”

Scott’s approach with Bryant changed through the Lakers’ first set of back-to-backs. Bryant wanted to play as many games as possible considering his admission this will likely mark his last NBA season. But Bryant missed games two weeks ago in Miami and Orlando because of back soreness. Last week, Scott played Bryant 36 minutes in a win over Detroit before deciding to sit him the next night in Phoenix.

Here’s the Toronto Star reporting on Raptors forward James Johnson, who isn’t spending much time on the court these days:

Little playing time in Toronto for James Johnson

James Johnson was in a long conversation with Raptors assistant general manager Jeff Weltman on Friday morning when the media was ushered into practice, one of a series of chats between management, coaches and the seemingly disgruntled forward over the previous 30 hours or so.

Johnson didn’t talk with reporters after that conversation and neither did anyone from management, but coach Dwane Casey said Johnson’s mid-week Twitter description of himself as “under-utilized” has been dealt with internally and the matter has been put to rest.

“In today’s NBA, you’re not surprised by anything,” Casey said. “It’s not a big deal, he tweeted something he probably shouldn’t have tweeted. We talked to James and handled it internally. Everybody understands their role and what his job is. We’ll move on.”

Johnson stepped back from his initial tweet hours later on Thursday, but the central issue is there just isn’t a lot of playing time available to him.

Bucks coach Jason Kidd suspended one game

Bucks coach Jason Kidd suspended one game

Milwaukee Bucks head coach Jason Kidd has been suspended one game without pay for aggressively pursuing and confronting a game official, slapping the ball out of his hands, and not leaving the court in a timely manner upon his ejection, it was announced today by Kiki VanDeWeghe, Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations.

The incident, for which Kidd was assessed a technical foul and ejected, occurred with 1:49 remaining in the fourth quarter of Milwaukee’s 129-118 loss to the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday, Nov. 25 at BMO Harris Bradley Center.

Kidd will serve his suspension tonight when the Bucks play the Orlando Magic at Amway Center.

To view the play, click on this link.

Suns sign Bryce Cotton

The Phoenix Suns announced today they have signed free agent guard Bryce Cotton. The third “Call-Up” from the D-League in the NBA this season, Cotton has averaged 22.0 points on 58.7 percent shooting from the field, 61.9 percent from three-point territory and 91.3 percent from the free-throw line in four games with the Austin Spurs of the NBA Development League.

Cotton, a 6-1, 165-pound guard, played in 15 games as a rookie with the Utah Jazz last season. He averaged 5.3 points for the season and scored in double-digits in each of his final four appearances, including a career-high 21 points on April 13 against Dallas.

Undrafted in the 2014 NBA Draft, Cotton played in 34 games with the Austin Spurs in 2014-15 before joining the Jazz. Cotton was named All-NBA D-League Second Team and NBA D-League All-Rookie First Team after averaging 22.4 points (47.0 FG%, 44.3 3FG%, 90.0 FT%), 4.7 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 1.3 steals in 34 games with Austin.

A native of Tucson, Cotton was named First Team All-Class 4A in the state by The Arizona Republic in 2010 as he completed a standout career at Palo Verde High School. Cotton played collegiately at Providence College where he twice earned First Team All-Big East distinction and was named Big East Tournament MVP in 2014 after leading the Friars to the title.

Cotton will wear number 8. The Suns’ roster now stands at 15.

Kobe unleashes brickfest vs Warriors

Here’s reporting on Kobe Bryant, who may be playing his final season in the league and unleashed a brutal brickfest yesterday against the Golden State Warriors:

Kobe unleashes brickfest vs Warriors

A thin line separates confidence and delusion, and Kobe Bryant is straddling it. It’s the only objective conclusion one could reach after judging the Los Angeles Lakers star’s comments Tuesday after he tied the worst shooting performance of his career in any game in which he attempted at least five shots.

In a humiliating 111-77 loss to the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena, Bryant shot 1-of-14 from the field, including 1-of-7 from 3-point range, and scored 4 points. He also shot 1-of-14 in a loss last season to the San Antonio Spurs.

Bryant is the first player this season with 4 or fewer points on 14 or more field goal attempts.

Many of his shots hit the front of the rim. Some 3-point attempts were air-balls. He blew one layup that should have been a dunk — and probably would have been years ago, before all his injuries. And one shot, perhaps the cruelest of all, became lodged where the rim and backboard meet. An opposing player had to help pry it loose.

The 2015 NBA Champion Golden State Warriors set the NBA record for best start to a season by improving to 16-0 with tonight’s 111-77 win vs. the Lakers, besting the previous mark of 15-0 set by the 1948-49 Washington Capitols and 1993-94 Houston Rockets.

Dating back to 2014-15, the Warriors have won 20 consecutive regular-season games, extending a franchise-record streak and becoming the sixth team in NBA history to win 20-straight regular-season contests. The Warriors also extended their franchise-record regular-season home win streak to 27 consecutive games, becoming the 12th team in NBA history to win 27-straight at home.

The Warriors, who posted a franchise-best record of 67-15 before capturing the 2015 NBA title, are now 83-15 (.847) in the regular season dating back to 2014-15 and 99-20 (.832) including the playoffs.

Raptors assign Delon Wright to D-League

Raptors assign Delon Wright to D-League

The Toronto Raptors announced Tuesday they have assigned guard Delon Wright to Raptors 905, the NBA Development League affiliate of the Raptors. Wright is expected to be in the lineup Wednesday when Raptors 905 hosts the Idaho Stampede at Hershey Centre at 7:30 p.m.

Wright has appeared in four games with the Raptors this season, totaling four rebounds in 10 minutes of action. Wright was selected 20th overall by Toronto in the 2015 NBA Draft.

Wright will continue to be included on the Raptors’ roster and will remain on the team’s inactive list.

Good Mavericks debut for JaVale McGee

Here’s the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reporting on Dallas Mavericks center JaVale McGree, who finally made his debut for the team and by all accounts did quite well:

Good Mavericks debut for JaVale McGee

He’s only played one game and 11 minutes. But the Dallas Mavericks seemingly all smile in unison when center JaVale McGee’s name is mentioned.

McGee played his first game of the season this past Sunday in Oklahoma City and responded with eight points and six rebounds, and was 4-of-5 from the field. Not that for a guy who missed the entire training camp, preseason and first 12 regular season games while dealing with a stress fracture in his left leg.

“He did a lot of good things on offense the other night,’’ coach Rick Carlisle said after Tuesday morning’s shootaround at the FedEx Forum. “Defensively he’s a little behind because of the (lack of) reps.” …

Zaza Pachulia is the Mavs’ starting center, and Dwight Powell usually is the first pivotman off the bench. But the Mavs now have an added bonus in McGee, who is 7-1 and weighs 270 pounds and has the athleticism the aforementioned two players lack.

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