Archive for January 11th, 2018

Charlotte Hornets head coach Steve Clifford has been medically cleared to return to coaching the team on a full-time basis.

Clifford will officially re-join the team starting with practice on Tuesday, Jan. 16, before returning to the sidelines on Wednesday, Jan. 17, vs. the Washington Wizards.

He has been away from the team since Dec. 6 to address his health. Hornets Associate Head Coach Stephen Silas served as the team’s acting head coach while Clifford was out.

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The Nuggets are 21-20 this season, being led in scoring by SG Garry Harris (16.9 ppg), PG Jamal Murray (16.1 ppg), C Nikola Jokic (15.7 ppg), PF Paul Millsap (15.3 ppg, though he’s been injured and played in just 16 games so far this season, and may return in February), and SG Will Barton (14.5 ppg, mostly off the bench. But right after Barton is young power forward Trey Lyles. Now in his third NBA season, Lyles in just 19.9 minutes per game is putting up 10.7 points and 4.9 rebounds per game. Solid backup numbers. Here’s the Denver Post with more:

At the start of the season, Trey Lyles was the odd man out amongst Denver’s crowded frontcourt. But since Paul Millsap went down, Lyles has used his versatile inside-outside game and admirable work ethic to thrive as the Nuggets’ first big man off the bench. While playing both forward spots and center, Lyles has compiled 13 consecutive double-figure scoring outings while also averaging 7.5 rebounds per game during that span. His emergence is partially why Kenneth Faried has essentially been pushed out of Denver’s rotation. A tip of the cap here should also go to Torrey Craig, who has parlayed a career in Australia into an NBA two-way contract and, now, a rotation spot as a perimeter defensive stopper.

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Report: Dion Waiters to undergo season-ending surgery

The Miami Heat are having a very good season. With a 24-17 record, they’re 4th in the East, which is better than most observers expected. But they’re about to lose a key dose of backcourt scoring.

According to a report by Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports, guard Dion Waiters, who has been out of action since December 22, “is expected to” undergo season-ending surgery on his injured left ankle.

Waiters’ stats aren’t mind-blowing: 14.3 points, 2.6 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game, shooting just 39.8% from the field and 30.6% from three-point range in 30 games played. But he’s provided heart, hustle and a confidence that’s helped the team formulate a winning culture this season.

According to the Palm Beach Post, “The Heat are 7-2 since Waiters was injured (8-2 including the Dallas game in which Waiters played 8:34 before being injured) and have picked it up offensively. In the last 10 games, Miami is averaging 104.3 points and shooting 46.4 percent as opposed to 99.9 points on 45.2 percent shooting the first 31.”

 

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The Wizards currently have the fifth best record in the Eastern conference, behind the Miami Heat. Solid. But more was expected from a team that brought back last year’s roster and should presumably be improving, not staying the same. Here’s the Washington Post reporting:

But now that the 2017-18 Wizards have reached the crossroads of the regular season, they look strikingly similar — or only slightly better, in some instances — to last year’s team.

The Wizards are 23-18, just one game better than last year’s pace despite the organization going all in on its belief that continuity with Wall, Beal and Otto Porter Jr. would lead to greater heights.

Through the first 41 games, Washington has produced an offensive rating of 106.3, the 11th best mark in the league — the exact same number and ranking the team held at this point in the season a year ago. While the Wizards have shown marked improvement on the defensive end, ranking eighth in the league with a 104.0 defensive rating, that progress has not helped the team win more games.

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And here’s NBC Sports Washington with more:

The positive side is that the Wizards are comfortably in the Eastern Conference playoff race at fifth despite missing several key players at times due to injury. Wall has missed 11 games, Markieff Morris missed eight and Otto Porter has missed four.

Health has been a big difference between last year and this year. Last season they didn’t have any significant injuries to their starting lineup and after 41 games they were 22-19, a game behind their current pace. That team advanced all the way to the seventh game of the second round of the playoffs.

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