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Timberwolves lose 7th straight game

The Timberwolves are on a 7-game losing streak and are now 15-29, which ties them with the Kings for the second worst record in the Western conference.

Here’s the Minneapolis Star Tribune on what went down yesterday:

Ryan Saunders was mad as hell, and he wasn’t going to take the first half anymore in the Timberwolves’ 117-110 loss to the Bulls on Wednesday night.

The Wolves committed nine first-quarter turnovers and were down by as many as 19 to a team that isn’t exactly the cream of the NBA crop. In the halftime locker room, he was mad at the entire team and had a “one-sided” conversation with them.

“You can call it a conversation if you want,” Saunders said.

But he directed some of his ire at one player in particular — Andrew Wiggins.

Wiggins averaged 27.1 points on 48.3% FG shooting and 39.5% threes in November, then 24.1 points on 41.7% FG and 28.9% threes in December, and so far in January games is averaging 16.4 points on 41.4% FG and 28.1% threes.

By no means are we placing the current losing streak on Wiggins’ shoulders. That would be unfair. Jeff Teague has been traded, Karl-Anthony Towns only played seven games in December and just four so far in January, and the rest of the roster simply isn’t that impressive.

There’s no “but” forthcoming. Wiggins isn’t playing well lately. Neither is the team as a whole.

 

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Here’s the Memphis Commercial Appeal discussing Grizzlies rookie guard Ja Morant, who is having an excellent season, and Pelicans rookie forward Zion Williams, whose season began one day ago:

What Morant has done in 38 games won’t be forgotten just because Williamson is the talk of the current news cycle.

Morant still leads all NBA rookies in scoring, assists and double-doubles.

Most of all, he’s injected life into a franchise that’s now in a race for the eighth seed in the Western Conference along with the Pelicans.

There’s also history on Morant’s side. Nobody has won Rookie of the Year playing in fewer than 50 games. Assuming Williamson remains healthy, he will play in only 38 games this season, including Wednesday, and he’ll probably be on a minutes restriction for the next few weeks.

We agree. The only way this changes is if Zion does truly history-changing things in the coming months. Like moving mountains. Huge, alps-sized mountains. Not big hills.

For now, Zion appears to be on a minutes restriction.

The big-picture good news is, both players are great additions to the league and are worth watching, right now.

Heat assign Chris Silva to G League

The Miami Heat have assigned Chris Silva to their G League affiliate, the Sioux Falls Skyforce. He will be available for their consecutive home games against the Rio Grande Valley Vipers on January 24 and 25 and is expected to rejoin Miami for their game against the Orlando Magic on January 27.

According to the Miami Herald, “Silva, 23, has fallen out of the Heat’s rotation recently, as he has not played in seven consecutive games. But his two-game stint in the G League will likely include a lot of playing time. “To keep him up to speed,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said of the decision to send Silva to the G League.”

Silva, who was signed by the HEAT on January 15 after signing a two-way contract on October 18, has appeared in 30 games with Miami this season averaging 3.5 points and 3.1 rebounds in 8.3 minutes of action while shooting 69.1 percent from the field, the fourth-highest percentage in the NBA with at least 50 attempts. He scored a season-high 10 points at Philadelphia on November 23 and has led the team in plus/minus five times.

Silva played all four seasons at South Carolina, becoming the first player in school history to total at least 700 rebounds and 500 made free throws. He appeared in 32 games (all starts) as a senior last season averaging 15.2 points, 7.6 rebounds, 1.94 blocks and 26.8 minutes while shooting 50.8 percent from the field, 50 percent from three-point range and 74.4 percent from the foul line as he earned All-SEC First Team and All-SEC Defensive Team honors. Among the school’s all-time leaders, he finished third in free throws made (577), sixth in rebounds (876), sixth in blocks (186) and 10th in points (1,509).

The Cleveland Cavaliers, who signed Alfonzo McKinnie to an initial 10-day contract on January 9, today signed the forward to a second 10-day deal.

The 6-foot-8, 215-pound McKinnie has played in 29 games (one start) for Cleveland this season, averaging 3.7 points and 2.7 rebounds in 13.1 minutes per outing.

During his three-year NBA career, the Wisconsin-Green Bay product has averaged 4.0 points and 2.9 rebounds in 12.5 minutes per game over 115 career contests (six starts) with the Cavaliers, Toronto Raptors and Golden State Warriors.

The Cavaliers’ roster now stands at 17, including two Two-Way players.

 

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Brooklyn Nets center DeAndre Jordan has received the December NBA Cares Community Assist Award. This in recognition of his efforts to brighten the holidays for children and families through his “6 Days of Giving” initiative.

The award recognizes a player each month who best reflects the passion that the league and NBA players share for giving back to their communities.

In December, Jordan hosted multiple community events in Brooklyn, Houston and Los Angeles as part of his DeAndre Jordan’s Treehouse Giving foundation’s annual “6 Days of Giving,” an initiative focused on creating meaningful experiences for deserving families in the lead up to the holidays. Jordan invited 30 youth from the BKLYN Combine to shop alongside him at the NBA’s flagship store on Fifth Avenue. He also treated 60 students from MS 50 Community School in Brooklyn to the new Nickelodeon Universe Theme Park and hosted 30 children from New Heights, an organization that educates and empowers youth as leaders, at a Nets game at Barclays Center. In Houston, Jordan provided a festive lunch for students at Ruby L. Thompson Elementary School, the school he attended as a child, and hosted a Christmas dinner at the Avalon Diner for 100 children from KIPP Houston and the Bend Area Women’s Center. Additionally, Jordan gifted Los Angeles children with a holiday shopping spree at the Mattel Toy Store in El Segundo.

Jordan is also an advocate for sustainable living, and recently partnered with Arvin Goods, an eco-friendly sock brand, and Thrive Market, an organization that helps families access healthy plant-based meals.

“I love using my platform to create unforgettable holiday memories for children,” Jordan said. “I look forward to hosting ‘6 Days of Giving’ every year in communities that have impacted me throughout my lifetime. My hope is that the DeAndre Jordan Treehouse Giving foundation continues to inspire and empower families through meaningful experiences.”

NBA Senior Vice President of Social Responsibility Todd Jacobson and Brooklyn Nets General Manager Sean Marks will present the award to Jordan during an oncourt ceremony before the Nets’ home game tonight against the Los Angeles Lakers (8:00 p.m. ET). Additionally, Kaiser Permanente and the NBA will donate $10,000 on Jordan’s behalf to DeAndre Jordan’s Treehouse Giving.

The Atlanta Hawks today issued the following injury update on forward Chandler Parsons, who was recently in a car accident. Parsons has reportedly filed at least one lawsuit due to injuries from the incident.

Per the Hawks today, Parsons remains in the first stage of the NBA’s concussion protocol and has not progressed to exertional challenges, such as light conditioning.

Additionally, Parsons continues to receive treatment for symptoms of whiplash and the associated cervical disc injury.

After discussing with Parsons, his medical team and the doctors at Emory Sports Medicine, it was agreed by all parties that it would be best for Parsons’ recovery for him to return home to California and continue to recover and rehabilitate under the treatment of a team of doctors and therapists overseen by the Hawks and Emory Sports Medicine staff.

So, that’s the Hawks’ team update. And per the Atlanta Journal Constitution, “the at-fault driver whose car collided with Parsons’ car and one other vehicle was cited for failure to yield while turning left and DUI Less Safe. Parsons and the other driver involved were found to not be at fault.”

The Sacramento Kings announced today that the team has acquired guard-forward Kent Bazemore, forward Anthony Tolliver, a 2024 second-round draft selection and a 2025 second-round draft selection in a trade with the Portland Trail Blazers in exchange for forwards Trevor Ariza, Wenyen Gabriel and Caleb Swanigan.

“We are pleased to add Trevor, Caleb and Wenyen to our roster,” said Blazers president of basketball operations Neil Olshey. “Trevor’s veteran experience and positional fit, Caleb’s familiarity with our organization and Wenyen’s potential will be strong mid-season additions to our team.”

Starting his career with the Golden State Warriors after going undrafted in the 2012 NBA Draft, Bazemore has accrued averages of 8.6 points (.413 FG%, .349 3pt%, .725 FT%), 3.1 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.0 steals and 21.1 minutes per game in 526 career games (278 starts) with Golden State (2012-14), Los Angeles Lakers (2013-14), Atlanta (2014-19) and Portland (2019-20).

An 11-year NBA veteran, Tolliver went undrafted in the 2007 NBA Draft and has averaged 6.3 points (.417 FG%, .374 3pt%, .770 FT%), 3.4 rebounds, 0.9 assists and 19.8 minutes per game in 697 career games (101 starts) with San Antonio (2008-09), Golden State (2009-10), Portland (2009-10, 2019-20), Minnesota (2010-12, 2018-19), Atlanta (2012-13), Charlotte (2013-14), Phoenix (2014-15), Detroit (2014-16) and Sacramento (2016-17).

Ariza (6-8, 215) has averaged 6.0 points (38.8% FG, 35.2% 3-PT, 77.8% FT), 4.6 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.09 steals and 24.7 minutes in 32 games for the Kings this season. A 15-year veteran and 2009 NBA Champion with the L.A. Lakers, Ariza, 34, holds career averages of 10.5 points (42.2% FG, 35.1% 3-PT, 72.9% FT), 4.8 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.49 steals in 1,043 games (710 starts) with New York, Orlando, the L.A. Lakers, Houston, New Orleans, Washington, Phoenix and Sacramento. Ariza was originally selected by the New York Knicks with the 43rd overall pick of the 2004 NBA Draft after playing one season at UCLA. He will wear No. 8 for the Trail Blazers.

Gabriel (6-9, 220) has appeared in 11 games for the Kings this season, averaging 1.7 points (35.3% FG, 60.0% FT) and 0.9 rebounds. In seven games this season with the Stockton Kings of the NBA G League, Gabriel, 22, has averaged 19.3 points (50.1% FG, 39.0% 3-PT, 77.1% FT), 6.9 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 1.20 blocks. A second-year pro, Gabriel went undrafted in 2018 after two seasons at the University of Kentucky. He will wear No. 35 for the Trail Blazers.

In seven appearances with the Kings this season, Swanigan (6-9, 260) has averaged 0.7 points (50.0% FG, 50.0% FT) and 1.0 rebound. He has played in five games (two starts) this season with the Stockton Kings, averaging 8.6 points (50.0% FG, 72.7% FT), 10.0 rebounds and 1.4 assists. Originally selected by the Trail Blazers with the 26th overall pick of the 2017 NBA Draft, Swanigan, 22, holds career averages of 2.0 points (37.6% FG, 65.5% FT) and 2.3 rebounds in 55 games (three starts) with Sacramento and Portland. He will wear No. 50 for the Trail Blazers.

Atlanta Hawks forward Jabari Parker was re-evaluated by the team yesterday. The Hawks say he has been cleared for the next step of his rehabilitation, which will include controlled movement and gradual reloading of his rotator cuff.

In two weeks, the Hawks plan to re-evaluate his status.

The Hawks have an Eastern conference-worst record of 10-34. Parker has played in 32 games, with 23 starts, and is third on the team in scoring at 15.0 points per outing.

Kemba Walker has had a bit of trouble during his NBA career when facing LeBron James teams. Here’s Boston.com reporting:

Kemba Walker finally did it. He finally defeated LeBron James.

The three-time All-Star was 0-28 in his career in his team’s games against James entering Monday night’s Lakers-Celtics matchup.

That changed Monday after the Celtics’ 139-107 win. Walker scored 20 points in the win and improved his all-time record against James to 1-28.

Walker was drafted first round in 2011, and played for the Charlotte Hornets all these years until 2019-20 when he became a Celtic. Which helps explain his longtime struggles against NBA teams with LeBron James on them. But still, that was a heck of a streak.

Congrats, Kemba. Today, you are a champion. Kinda.

This season’s Raptors have been a fascinating experiment; various players taking turns stepping up, filling roles voided due to injury, certain free agency results from this past summer, etc.

Lately, Norman Powell has stepped up and done big things. Here’s the Toronto Star reporting:

Powell’s excellence has always been there in spurts. He is fully capable of wonderful games where he is totally engaged, making wise decisions, playing his butt off defensively. But there have been those other nights, those games when he was too rushed, too full of confidence, too reckless with the ball, too out of the loop defensively…

Powell’s scorching play these past couple of weeks has been astonishing. In his last four games, he’s shooting 52.9 per cent from three-point range (18-for-34) and a shocking 59.1 per cent overall from the floor (42-for-71). He is averaging 23 points a game, has strung together five straight games of 20 or more points for the first time in his career and he has morphed into something like instant offence off the bench for the 29-14 Raptors.

The 6-foot-3, 215-pound Powell was drafted second round in 2015 by the Bucks, but has spent his entire NBA career on the Raptors. In his first four seasons he averaged between 5.6 and 8.6 points per game, but this year is putting up 15.5 points per outing, shooting an impressive 51.3% FG and 40.5% from three-point range.

Heat edge Kings in overtime battle

 

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The Heat, playing without Jimmy Butler, had to pull out all the stops today to handle a motivated Kings squad. Here’s the Sacramento Bee reporting:

Kendrick Nunn drained a big 3-pointer and two clutch free throws to help the Miami Heat beat the Kings 118-113 in an overtime thriller Monday night at American Airlines Arena.

Nunn scored 23 points for the Heat (30-13), which has lost only one game at home this season. James Johnson added 22 points. Bam Adebayo had 16 points and 11 rebounds.

Nemanja Bjelica scored 22 points to lead the Kings (15-28), who have lost five in a row. Buddy Hield had 20 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. Marvin Bagley posted 15 points and 15 rebounds.

James Johnson shot 9 of 11 for those 22 points, adding six rebounds, three assists and two blocks.

The Kings had 25 second-chance points, compared to just eight for the Heat.

Sacramento was without talented role-playing big guy Richaun Holmes, who hasn’t played since January 6.

The Cleveland Cavaliers are keeping Tyler Cook on the squad a bit longer, signing the forward to a second 10-day contract today.

The 6-foot-9, 255-pound Cook has played in eight games for the Cavs this season, averaging 2.1 points in 3.6 minutes per contest. He’s also participated in 16 games with the Cavs’ G League team, the Canton Charge, for whom he put up 13.1 points per game, on excellent 58.2% shooting, plus 6.2 rebounds per outing.

There are now 16 players on the Cavs roster, including two players signed to Two-Way deals.

NBA veteran Chandler Parsons was recently in a car accident.

Unfortunately, the latest information is that his injuries are worse than previously reported. Here’s the Atlanta Journal Constitution with an update:

Hawks forward Chandler Parsons has retained an attorney following an automobile accident last week that left him with several injuries.

The law firm, in an email to several media outlets including The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, on Monday claimed that Parsons suffered “severe and permanent injuries including a traumatic brain injury, disc herniation and torn labrum.”In announcing the accident and injuries, the Hawks listed Parsons as out with a concussion and whiplash. He was placed in the NBA’s concussion protocol. There was no timetable given for Parsons’ return. On Monday, the Hawks, updated the injury report to include associated disc injury following the law firm email.

Chandler hasn’t played much in recent NBA seasons. He played just 34 games for the Grizzlies in 2016-17, 36 games in 2017-18, 25 games last season, and this season for the Hawks has played in just five games, averaging 2.8 points in 10.8 minutes per outing in the five.

But, stating the obvious, injuries from a car accident are damaging to a person’s life, and in the case of a pro athlete, their career as well.

We wish Parsons the best, especially of course from a health perspective.

 

 

 

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The Utah Jazz have signed forward Royce O’Neale to a contract extension.

According to multiple reports, the deal is for four years, $36 million.

“Re-signing Royce to a long-term extension was a priority for our organization,” said Dennis Lindsey, Jazz executive vice president of basketball operations. “Royce is an elite defender and has really shown the ability to spread the floor with his shooting. We feel he brings a versatility to our team that’s vital to our success. We’re happy that we were able to retain not only a great player in Royce, but also a tremendous person.”

“We’ve been really pleased with Royce’s development over the past two-and-half seasons with us,” said Jazz General Manager Justin Zanik. “His progress is a testament to the work ethic he has brought to our team since his first training camp. We’re excited to watch him grow even more in a Jazz uniform.”

According to the Salt Lake Tribune, “O’Neale, a 26-year-old undrafted third-year player, had made the NBA minimum through his first three seasons, just over a million per year on average. But this season, he has started 39 of the Jazz’s 42 games, thanks to his 3-point shooting and defensive abilities. He doesn’t shoot very frequently — he’s the clear fifth-option in the Jazz’s starting lineup — but this season, he’s made 44.3% of his threes.”

O’Neale (6-4, 222, Baylor) is in his third NBA season, averaging a career-high 6.2 points on 47.2 percent shooting and 44.3 percent from three, 5.0 rebounds and 2.5 assists in 29.6 minutes per contest. His 44.3 percent from three (54-of-122) is the sixth best three-point percentage in the NBA this season. The 26-year-old’s 210 rebounds are second on the team this season and his 54 three-point field goals rank fourth on the squad. Additionally, he has the 11th best assist-to-turnover ratio (3.21) and 16th best steal-to-turnover ratio (1.03) in the NBA this year.

The Killeen, Texas native has appeared in 193 games (59 starts) over three seasons with Utah, owning career averages of 5.3 points 3.8 boards and 1.7 assists in 21.1 minutes per contest. He’s competed in 16 games (five starts) in the postseason as a Jazzman, last year posting averages of 10.6 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.6 assists in 27.4 minutes in the first round of the NBA Playoffs.

According to the Deseret News, “the price the Jazz were able to secure O’Neale at gives the team more flexibility heading into the 2020 offseason. It will allow the front office the room to potentially sign Jordan Clarkson this summer or move toward a bigger free-agent deal.”

Originally signed by the Jazz on July 19, 2017, O’Neale participated in the Jazz’s 2016 free agent mini-camp and has additional professional experience overseas.

He played for Gran Canaria in Spain during the 2016-17 season, averaging 8.3 points on 44.9 percent shooting, 5.2 rebounds and 2.1 assists in 20.6 minutes in 52 games (32 starts).

He began his professional career with MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg of the German Bundesliga in 2015-16.

All signs point to Zion Williamson beginning his NBA career this Wednesday in a Pelicans game against the Spurs. Here’s the New Orleans Times-Picayune reporting:

If everything goes according to plan, the answer to that question is Wednesday against the San Antonio Spurs.

That’s when Williamson, the No. 1 overall draft pick, is expected to make his highly-anticipated rookie debut after missing every regular-season game so far recovering from a minor knee operation.

For Pelicans fans, the wait is over.

They can now look forward to seeing him on the court sporting his No. 1 jersey instead of on the bench in street clothes like he was in Saturday’s 133-130 loss to the Clippers.

I must wonder if the delay in Zion William’s debut might actually be a blessing in disguise. The Pelicans had a very tough start to the season, but in the past couple of weeks have played actual good basketball. Brandon Ingram in particular has found his stride and gained national attention lately. Zion will be joining these guys at a good time.

The Kings and Trail Blazers recently agreed to a widely-reported trade, but it won’t become official for another few days. Here’s the Sacramento Bee reporting:

The Kings have some important roster decisions to make in the weeks and months ahead. They made their first move Saturday, reaching a deal with the Portland Trail Blazers to obtain expiring contracts, future assets and an open roster spot that could be utilized in a subsequent move before the Feb. 6 trade deadline.

A league source told The Sacramento Bee the Kings had agreed to send Trevor Ariza, Wenyen Gabriel and Caleb Swanigan to Portland in exchange for Kent Bazemore, Anthony Tolliver and two second-round draft picks. The trade cannot be finalized until Gabriel is eligible to be traded on Tuesday, which left the Kings shorthanded as they opened a five-game road trip with a 123-101 loss to the Utah Jazz on Saturday.

This move made sense for both teams. The Kings took on about $2.5 million in additional salary, but they acquired two players who are known as good locker room presences, both on expiring deals.

While it’s safely assumed the Kings will be a lottery team this year, the Blazers had much bigger aspirations. It remains to be seen if Portland can raise the level of their play. Ariza is way past his prime. He can help in limited minutes off the bench, but it’s unclear how much he will be able to do beyond that.

 

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Bulls guard Zach LaVine is putting up some monster stats in the month of January. Here’s NBC Sports Chicago reporting:

In 10 January games, the Bulls’ 6-foot-6 messiah is the fourth-leading scorer in the NBA, averaging 30.6 points on 50% shooting (22.8 attempts).

To borrow a word from Jim Boylen, his latest installment — 42 points on 19-for-31 shooting in a game the Bulls clawed back from down 19 in the second half to topple the Cavaliers 118-116 — was “herculean.”

“If that’s not an all-star performance I don’t know what is,” Boylen said. “He’s been a monster, man. He’s been a monster.”

To LaVine, there isn’t much supernatural about these types of nights; he’s been preaching his confidence and readiness to carry this team since day one. LaVine scored 21 of his 42 points in the fourth quarter, and on a night he conceded his legs were a tad worn, he attempted only six 3-pointers, instead finding most of his offense in the midrange and at the rim.

At 16-28, the Bulls are currently 10th in the Eastern conference. Just ahead of them at 9th is the Pistons, while close behind at 10th is the Hornets.

 

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Friday in San Antonio, the Atlanta Hawks squeezed out a 121-120 win against the Spurs.

In the win, Hawks star guard Trae Young shot 10 of 16, including 6 of 9 from three-point range, for 31 points, five rebounds and nine assists, center John Collins had 18 points and 10 rebounds, and shooting guard Kevin Huerter scored 18.

But for the Hawks, this victory also had some historical significance. Here’s the Journal-Constitution reporting:

Aside from this being the second time the Hawks have registered back-to-back wins this season (the first instance was the first two games of the season against Detroit and Orlando), this win was historic, if you count relatively recent history. The Hawks hadn’t won a game in San Antonio since Feb. 15, 1997, which is before many players on the team, including Reddish, Huerter and Young, were born. They had lost 21 straight away games to the Spurs until Friday’s win.

It’s no big deal when a team hasn’t won in a certain city for a season or two. Maybe three. But not since 1997? That’s a fun thing to keep track of.

Wizards guard Jordan McRae sprains ankle

Wizards guard Jordan McRae left Friday’s game with an ankle injury. Here’s NBC Sports Washington with more:

Just when the Wizards were getting healthy again, they may have suffered a tough blow to their second unit against the Raptors Friday night.

At the start of the second quarter in Toronto, McRae suffered a left ankle injury after accidentally stepping on Terence Davis’ foot. The team ruled it as an ankle sprain and McRae did not return to the game.

We haven’t seen a Wizards team update yet. Presumably there will be one today.

 

 

 

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Friday in Toronto, the Raptors, who had three players score 20 or more points, beat the Wizards, 140-111. In looking at the box score, the most interesting statistical category was turnovers. Here’s NBC Sports Washington reporting:

Washington committed 28 turnovers on the way to a 29-point loss. Following the first seven minutes of play, the Wizards had seven turnovers and seven points.

The last time the Wizards turned the ball over that much was April 2, 1994, in a 104-96 win over the Bucks. The last time an NBA team turned it over 28 times? The 2010 Suns.

Nine Wizards players had multiple turnovers, while five players had at least three.

And here’s the Toronto Sun with more:

The only other time a Raptors squad scored 140 on an opponent was last season in a double-overtime win over this same Wizards franchise.

It was the type of game where you could make a case for just about any Raptor as player of the game as seven found their way to double-digit scoring totals.

Norm Powell had his third consecutive game of 20 or more points since returning from an 11-game injury absence. He had 28 in just less than 30 minutes for the game high.

The Wizards may not be winning this season, but they’ve been entertaining. Just not always in the manner they’d prefer.

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