Archive for December, 2017

Raptors suspend Serge Ibaka one game

Toronto Raptors forward Serge Ibaka has been suspended by the team for one game after a violation of team rules.

The suspension stems from an altercation between Ibaka and a Raptors team staff member after their December 27 game against the Thunder in Oklahoma City.

Raptors president Masai Ujiri: “Both parties have apologized. We’ve discussed this internally as a team, and we won’t be discussing it any further.” … “Now we’re focused on moving forward together, and we look forward to having Serge back in the lineup.”

Ibaka won’t play tonight (Friday) night against the Hawks.

When discussing Kevin Durant, we usually think of his scoring ability first, overall superstar skills second, and then maybe people stop and remember that he’s also a good defensive player. The guy has super-long arms and legs that flail around everywhere on defense. He’s a presence on that end of the court. And this season, maybe more than ever before. Here’s the San Francisco Reporting:

Count the reigning Defensive Player of the Year among those who think Kevin Durant should be the Defensive Player of the Year front-runner.

“If I had a vote, I’d vote for him right now,” Green said.

Long known more for his scoring than his defense, Durant is putting together his best defensive season to date. A player who had never averaged more than 1.6 blocks per game is second in the NBA behind Indiana’s Myles Turner with 2.3. With Stephen Curry out the past 10 games with a sprained right ankle, Durant has anchored a league-best defense.

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Knicks play 16 of next 20 games on road

The Knicks are 17-16 this season, and still playing without Tim Hardaway Jr., who at 17.8 ppg (42.0% FG) is the team’s second leading scorer behind Kristaps Porzingis (24.6 ppg, 44.8% FG). Solid play so far. But a serious extended test now begins. Here’s the New York Post reporting:

Now here are the Knicks (17-16), a game over .500, heading on the road again after a Christmas Day loss at home, the start of the minefield part of the schedule. Of the next 20 games, 16 are on the road — where the Knicks are a dreadful 2-10.

“The important thing is good teams bounce back quick,” center Enes Kanter said Tuesday. “We got three games coming up in four days, so you’re going to see how good of a team we are.”

By then, either the Knicks will have reassured their fans this season will not follow last year’s ominous path, or history will be repeating itself. They are trending in the wrong direction, having lost three of four, following a four-game winning streak. But last year’s team was an older group hampered by injuries and off-the-court issues. There was Derrick Rose going AWOL, the Carmelo Anthony/Phil Jackson feud. There have been no signs of anything like that from this team through 33 games.

“These guys are going to fight until the end of the season no matter what our record is,” coach Jeff Hornacek said.

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And here’s NY Newsday reporting:

The Knicks benefited from a heavy home schedule early in the season and took advantage of it. The team is 17-16 after its Christmas Day loss to the 76ers at the Garden. But only two of those victories have come away from MSG, where the Knicks are 2-10 and have lost eight games by at least 12 points. They have played the fewest road games of any team in the league.

The team starts a three-game trip — its longest of the season to this point — Wednesday night in Chicago. From there they go to San Antonio and New Orleans. The always-confident Kanter said we will learn a lot about the Knicks over the next four days.

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Clippers dominate in win vs Kings

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The Clippers are 14-19 and should get power forward Blake Griffin back in action pretty soon. The Kings are 11-22 and pretty much just building for the future. The two sides did battle yesterday, and LAC came away with a convincing win. Here’s the Sacramento Bee reporting:

The Kings, young and old, had a part in a 122-95 beating the Los Angeles Clippers handed them Tuesday night at Staples Center.

The Clippers had their way most of the night as Sacramento’s defense allowed season highs in points for a quarter (41 in the second), half (71 in the first) and be reserves(72)…

The Kings (11-22) watched Milos Teodosic post 10 assists, a season high for the rookie. Montrezl Harrell came off the bench to score a game-high 22 points, also his season high…

The Kings scored 30 points in the first quarter, but offered no resistance on defense. So while the Kings’ shots stopped falling, the Clippers continued to score at will.

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The Pistons are 19-14 this season, which is the 4th best winning percentage in the Eastern conference. They’ve stumbled lately, however. The squad was putting up more wins earlier in the season. Although they’ve won two in a row, they’ve secured victories in just five of their last 10. And now guard Reggie Jackson is hurt. Results on his injury should be known today. Here’s Michigan Live reporting:

Detroit Pistons point guard Reggie Jackson will undergo an MRI Wednesday to determine the severity of the sprained right ankle he suffered during Tuesday’s 107-83 victory over the Indiana Pacers at Little Caesars Arena.

Jackson was injured with 5:25 to play in the third quarter, when he jumped to make a pass and landed on Myles Turner’s foot, twisting the ankle.

Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said after the game that X-rays came back negative.

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The Raptors are 23-9, which is the second best record in the Eastern conference. The Thunder are 19-15, tying them for the West’s 5th best winning percentage - though OKC are on a five-game winning streak and have been recently playing their best basketball of the season. The two teams battle tonight in OKC. It’s a matchup worth watching. Here’s the Norman Transcript reporting:

The Toronto Raptors have run through the Eastern Conference with a similar core and thus, a similar type of isolation-heavy offense over the past few years. But the Oklahoma City Thunder’s next opponent will look different than many fans might expect come Wednesday night.

Even with players like point guard Kyle Lowry and binge scorer DeMar DeRozan carrying over, the Raptors have implemented far more motion into their offense this year. They’re taking 36 percent fewer mid-range shots. And lately, DeRozan, who spent the first eight years of his career dominating on long 2s, has taken his success to the 3-point line. He’s hit 13 triples over the past three games.

It will be a special task for OKC defensive stopper Andre Roberson, who has guarded DeRozan well historically, but who will have to deal with a different type of player come Wednesday.

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The Heat are 18-16 this season, and winners of seven of their last 10 games. They’re led in scoring by Goran Dragic (16.4 ppg), Hassan Whiteside (14.4 ppg), Dion Waiters (14.3 ppg), Josh Richardson (12.2 ppg) and Tyler Johnson (11.5). The team got a boost yesterday as Whiteside made his return from injury. Here’s the Palm Beach Post reporting:

Hassan Whiteside returns to action for Heat

The Magic entered on an eight-game losing streak and Heat center Hassan Whiteside returned from injury.

It was supposed to be easy. But it wasn’t.

The Heat (18-16) rallied from a 10-point third-quarter deficit to defeat the struggling and shorthanded Magic 107-89 on Tuesday at AmericanAirlines Arena. Miami closed the game on a 60-32 run to make it look easier than it was against Orlando (11-24).

Whiteside finished with seven points and eight rebounds in 18 minutes in his return after missing 13 consecutive games with a bone bruise on his left knee. He spent the final 17 minutes and eight seconds of the game on the bench.

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Utah Jazz City Edition uniforms

The Utah Jazz have released their final 2017-18 uniform design today, their “City Edition” uniforms.

The team describes the design as the result of inspiration from the natural beauty and wonders of their home state. And accompanying the new jerseys is a new alternate matching court design.Both the new uniforms and new court design will make their debut on January 30 as the team hosts the Warriors.

“Our family is proud to have the Jazz jersey represent various parts of the state we all love,” said Greg Miller, NBA Board of Governors member for the Utah Jazz. “This year we feature the red rocks and canyon lands of Utah where we have spent so much time as a family.”

The “City Edition” Jazz uniforms are the only ones with the word “UTAH” across the chest. The team says that the color range, including gold and deep burgandy, represent famous rock formations, canyons, vistas, etc. found throughout southern Utah.

Here’s the design:

It’s always fun to see how a star player performs against his former team. But that gift will not be presented to us on Friday. Here’s the LA Times reporting:

Friday night was supposed to a matchup between the new-look Clippers and former teammate Chris Paul, who requested a trade to the Houston Rockets last summer because he no longer wanted to be a part of the team’s future.

But that matchup will not happen because Paul is out after straining his left adductor during Wednesday night in the loss to the Lakers…

It just won’t be the same without Blake Griffin (left knee), Danilo Gallinari (partially torn left glute), Wesley Johnson (sore left foot) and Patrick Beverley (season-ending right knee surgery).

Besides Paul being out for the Rockets, they won’t have forward Luc Mbah a Moute (dislocated right shoulder). He joined the Rockets as a free agent after spending the last two seasons with the Clippers. The Rockets also have listed center Clint Capela as doubtful with a bruised left heel.

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The Celtics are a super-impressive 26-7 this season. Far better than anyone expected, considering one of their key stars, new addition Gordon Hayward, suffered a serious injury mere minutes into Game 1. Also impressive has been the play of rookie forward Jayson Tatum. Although he was a high draft pick, it’s still generally safe to assume that rookies aren’t ready to be serious contributors on winning teams. But Tatum has been an essential part of Celtics success. Here’s NESN reporting:

Jayson Tatum having excellent rookie season

Jayson Tatum has exceeded expectations in his rookie season.

The 19-year-old forward has been a mainstay in the Boston Celtics’ starting lineup throughout the season, and he’s become one of the leading contenders for the NBA Rookie of the Year Award. Through 33 games, Tatum is averaging 13.8 points and 5.7 rebounds per contest.

While Tatum seemingly has impressed in all facets of the game, his stellar 3-point shooting has been the biggest surprise. After being a 34 percent shooter from beyond the arc in his freshman campaign at Duke, Tatum currently boasts the league’s highest 3-point percentage with a 51.5-percent clip.

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The Dallas Mavericks have signed guard Kyle Collinsworth to a two-way contract.

In a related move, the team today waived guard-forward Antonius Cleveland and center Jeff Withey.

Collinsworth (6-6, 210) has been with the Mavericks’ G League affiliate, the Texas Legends, for the past two seasons. He has averaged 8.1 points, 7.6 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 1.7 steals and 30.1 minutes per game in 54 career G League games (34 starts). In 18 games (all starts) for the Legends in 2017-18, he averaged 11.4 points, 8.6 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 1.7 steals in 35.8 minutes per game.

Not selected in the 2016 NBS draft out of BYU, Collinsworth played for Dallas at the 2016 NBA Summer League in Las Vegas. He spent the 2016 preseason with the Mavericks before being waived by the team on Oct. 22, 2016.

A native of Provo, Utah, Collinsworth played four years at BYU and averaged 12.2 points, 7.5 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 1.6 steals and 30.9 minutes per game in 140 games. He was a three-time First Team All-WCC selection (2014-16) and set the NCAA career triple-double record with 12.

As a senior for the Cougars (2015-16), Collinsworth averaged 15.3 points, 8.2 rebounds, 7.4 assists, 2.0 steals and 33.8 minutes per game en route to being named the WCC Player of the Year. The 6-6 point guard also tied the NCAA single-season triple-double record (set by himself in 2014-15) with six.

Collinsworth will wear No. 8 for the Mavericks.

Cleveland (6-6, 195) played in 13 games for Dallas in 2017-18, averaging 0.8 points and 0.8 rebounds in 6.2 minutes per game.

Withey (7-0, 230) appeared in 10 games for the Mavericks this season, averaging 1.5 points and 1.0 rebound in 3.9 minutes per game.

The 2017-18 season marks the first year NBA two-way contracts will be implemented. NBA teams are allowed to have up to two players under two-way contracts who will spend the bulk of the season in the NBA G League and not more than 45 days with their NBA team.

Two-way players are paid a corresponding daily amount based on the number of days they play in each league. Only players with four-or-fewer years of NBA experience are able to sign two-way contracts, which can be for either one or two seasons.

Bulls waive Kay Felder

The Chicago Bulls waived guard Kay Felder today.

Standing just 5-foot-6, the 176-pound underdog played in 14 games for the Bulls, averaging 3.9 points, 1.0 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 9.6 minutes. Felder also played in three games in the G League for the Windy City Bulls, averaging 17.3 points, 3.6 rebounds and 4.6 assists, shooting 45.2 percent from the field (19-of-42).

The Bulls roster is now at 16 players, including two signed to two-way contracts.

Gregg Popovich praises Kobe Bryant

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is a legend. Retired former Lakers star Kobe Bryant is a legend. When a legend discusses another legend, everybody should listen. Because the quotes have a good shot at being… legendary.

Here’s the LA Times reporting what Popovich said as the Lakers were set to retire Kobe’s jerseys Monday:

“His mind was on a par with Michael [Jordan] and Larry [Bird] and Magic [Johnson], guys like that. They thought the game. They knew what was going on. And then on top of that, he had a really phenomenal competitiveness. So it’s not just the talent. It’s the mind and the grit, the guts, the who he is and the way he wanted to compete night after night, which is what made him Kobe Bryant.”

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Wizards set to face Pelicans

 

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The Wizards are set to face the Pelicans tonight. An intriguing matchup for anybody in the league, the Pelicans have two of the biggest names in the NBA frontcourt world: DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis. But the team as a whole is 15-15, tied for the 7th best record in the Western conference. Very solid, but unspectacular.

Here’s NBC Sports Washington discussing the Pels:

Few teams in the NBA offer a matchup problem as unique as the New Orleans Pelicans, who feature two All-Star big men in Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins. One is lanky with arms that reach to the sky. The other is wider and known for his brute strength. Both can move and shoot unusually well for their size.

On Tuesday night, the Wizards will see the Pelicans’ twin towers for the first time since Cousins landed in New Orleans. He was acquired from the Kings in a Feb. 20 trade, just 16 days after the second and final meeting between the teams in the 2016-17 season.

Cousins is a player the Wizards know well. He and Wizards guard John Wall teamed up at the University of Kentucky back in the 2009-10 season before the two were drafted into the NBA. Veteran players on the Wizards have played against both Cousins and Davis over the years. But now they have to deal with them at the same time.

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Nets sign Milton Doyle to two-way contract

The Brooklyn Nets yesterday (Monday) signed guard Milton Doyle to a two-way contract.

The 6-foot-4, 180-pound Doyle becomes a member of the Nets from the team’s NBA G League affiliate, the Long Island Nets. In the G League this season, he played in 17 games, averaging a team-high 21.3 points plus 5.7 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.6 steals in 34.7 minutes per outing.

Doyle becomes the third G League to NBA “call-up” in Long Island Nets history, and he’s the first for the team this season.

He played four college basketball seasons (2013-17) at Loyola University Chicago. In 121 career games (98 starts), he recorded averages of 13.3 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.8 assists in 30.4 minutes per contest.

NBA TWO-WAY CONTRACTS EXPLANATION

NBA teams are allowed to sign two players to two-way contracts in addition to the 15-man regular season roster. A two-way player for the Nets will provide services primarily to the team’s NBA G League affiliate – the Long Island Nets – but can spend up to 45 days with Brooklyn, not including any time prior to the start of Long Island’s training camp and at the conclusion of their season.

The Milwaukee Bucks yesterday (Monday) waived guard Gary Payton II, signed guard Sean Kilpatrick to a Two-Way contract.

The 6-foot-4 Kilpatrick participated in 16 games with the Nets this season before he was waived on December 7. In 16 games with Brooklyn, he averaged 4.9 points and 2.2 rebounds in 11.4 minutes per outing.

Last season with the Nets, Kilpatrick achieved career highs in games played (70) and starts (24), as well as in points (13.1), rebounds (4.0) and assists (2.2) per game.

Kilpatrick, 27-years-old, has played in 121 career games (24 starts) in four seasons with the Nuggets, Timberwolves and Nets. His NBA career averages are 11.3 points, 3.1 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game.

Payton II was signed to a two-way contract on Oct. 17, played in 12 games (six starts) with the Bucks this season and averaged 2.5 points and 1.4 rebounds in 8.8 minutes per game.

Kilpatrick will wear No. 9. The Bucks roster now stands at 17.

Mike Conley injury update

Mike Conley injury update

The Memphis Grizzlies at 9-21 have the third worst record in the NBA through Monday’s games, and they’ll continue to be without their floor leader for the near future.

The team said Monday that point guard Mike Conley is still participating in therapy and treatment to alleviate soreness in his left heel, as he makes progress towards returning to on-court activities.

The team says the next Conley injury status update will be in around two weeks.

Memphis is led in scoring this season by center Marc Gasol (19.1 ppg) and shooting guard Tyreke Evans (18.6 ppg). Conley is third at 17.1 ppg. No one else on the team averages double-digit points per game.

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Monday night at Staples Center in Los Angeles, the Lakers retired two Kobe Bryant jerseys, No. 8 and nN. 24, in front of a packed, adoring crowd. Below are some LA media Bryant quotes from the amazing evening:

“It’s not about the jerseys hanging up there for me, it’s about jerseys hanging up there before, without them I couldn’t be here today,” said a gracious Bryant into the microphone, adding, “It’s about embodying the spirit that exist in those jerseys up there … so that the next 20 years are better than the past 20 years.” — Los Angeles Times

“It was during Monday’s pregame session that I asked Bryant, if he had a choice, would he retire No. 8 or No. 24. I was hoping he would say 24. Wearing No. 8, he was a child. Wearing No. 24, he was a man. Wearing No. 8, he won three championships as a freewheeling sidekick to O’Neal. Wearing No. 24, he led the Lakers to two titles without O’Neal, the child star becoming a mature leader. So what is it, 8 or 24? “I kind of go back and forth,” Bryant said, smiling. “Eight has something that 24 will never, ever, ever, ever, ever have, that’s the ability to grow hair. Honestly, it’s tough.” - Los Angeles Times

“It’s not about my jerseys that are hanging up there for me,” Bryant said. “It’s about the jerseys that were hanging up there before. Without them, I couldn’t be here today. … It’s about embodying the spirit that exists in those jerseys up there and carrying this organization forward, so the next 20 years are better than the past 20 years.” - OC Register

“Among the Lakers legends on hand for the ceremony were West and O’Neal, as well as Elgin Baylor, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jamaal Wilkes and James Worthy. “To now be a part of that wall,” Bryant said before the game, “it means everything to me. I think legacy is really important in the sense of what we’ve done is awesome. But I think what’s more important for a legacy is how that affects the next generation.” - OC Register

“It is hard to put into words,” Bryant said of the moment. “Growing up and watching all these great players play and learning so much from them, to now be a part of that wall means everything to me. Legacy is really important in the sense of what we have done is awesome, but what is more important for a legacy is how that affects the next generation. For the jerseys up there now, the impact it had on me, which led us to this moment now is the true [indication of a legacy].” — ESPN Los Angeles

“Who can remember when he scored 81 points in a game?” Magic Johnson continued. “And last but not least, there will never be an athlete in his last performance to top this man’s performance, 60 points! Man! … Kobe, Jerry West called me the day you worked out and he said, ‘Earvin, I just witnessed the greatest workout I have ever seen in my entire life,’ and Jerry, you were absolutely right.” — ESPN Los Angeles

The Knicks beat the Nets Thursday night in Brooklyn. This despite Kristaps Porzingis exiting early with a knee issue. Here’s what the 7-foot 3-star had to say after the game:

On what’s going on with his knee: “It was one play, when I actually made the pass to the corner to Courtney (Lee), the three. I felt my knee, it just kind of buckled maybe a little bit and I felt a little pain there. So yeah, it’s more just being cautious, a little sharp pain there and that’s it. I honestly don’t have any more information about what is going on
there, but it shouldn’t be – hopefully, it’s not too serious.”

On if the doctors took a look at his knee and where he stands: “I don’t know. I don’t know honestly, we’ll see tonight how I feel and then tomorrow if there’s any
swelling. I think tomorrow it will be much clearer what is going on.”

On what he saw from his team down the stretch to get the win on the road: “It was a fun game. It was a physical game – very physical guys. Ron Baker had two blocks and it was fun to
watch. Our guys just played really hard. We tried to match their intensity. We know they play really hard.
They play with a lot of energy and we try to match them and Courtney was able to make some big plays in
the end and we were able to get the win.”

The Houston Rockets forward Luc Mbah a Moute suffered a dislocated left shoulder in the second quarter of yesterday’s game against the Hornets.

He will be re-evaluated in around one week.

The Rockets are having a fantastic season. They have the best record in the NBA, and have played fantastic basketball, especially with Chris Paul healthy and in the lineup.

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