Pelicans vs Thunder Sunday is hugely important matchup

It doesn’t take a long glance at the standings to know what’s on the line.

No, it’s not quite do-or-die, but it’s awful close.

The New Orleans Pelicans matchup against the Oklahoma City Thunder is the most important game of the season to date, and if the past two months of jockeying felt urgent, Game 77 of the season might as well be Game 7 in the playoffs.

At 5 p.m. Sunday in the Smoothie King Center, the stakes are clear.

A win would not only leapfrog the eighth-placed Pelicans ahead of the Thunder in the standings, it would provide the added advantage of jumping a team who it holds a tiebreaker advantage against. Currently, New Orleans owns the tiebreaker against none of its peers in the Western Conference jumble.

The Advocate

Klay Thompson set to return for Warriors

Warriors guard Klay Thompson is expected to return Saturday night at Sacramento from a fractured right thumb that has sidelined him more than two weeks.

“He just went through shoot-around fine,” Golden State head coach Steve Kerr said. “We’ll see how he goes tonight, but I’m assuming he’ll play.”

Thompson fractured his thumb during the second quarter of the Warriors’ March 11 loss to Minnesota, but continued to play, finishing with 21 points on 8-for-22 shooting and four turnovers in 40 minutes. He was initially ruled out for at least four games, though Kerr conceded at the time that Thompson was “probably looking at (missing) a couple weeks.”

SF Chronicle

George Hill out with ankle sprain

Cavaliers point guard George Hill will miss Sunday’s home game against the Dallas Mavericks after an MRI Saturday confirmed he suffered a sprained left ankle in Friday’s home victory over the Pelicans.

The Cavs gave no timetable for Hill’s return.

On Sunday, the Cavs will also be without shooting guard Kyle Korver, who continues to receive treatment on his sore right foot. Korver has not played since March 19, leaving the team as his 27-year-old brother Kirk passed away on March 20.

Akron Beacon Journal

Rockets sign Tim Quarterman for rest of season, waive Le`Bryan Nash

The Houston Rockets have signed free agent guard Tim Quarterman for the remainder of the season.

In a related move, the Rockets have released forward Le’Bryan Nash.

Quarterman (6-6, 190) was called-up from the NBA G League’s Agua Caliente Clippers. In 11 games with five starts, he averaged 8.9 points, 5.3 assists, 4.3 rebounds, and 1.5 steals.

As a rookie with Portland last season, Quarterman appeared in 16 games and recorded career-highs of 10 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists in the Blazers season finale vs. New Orleans on April 12, 2017. He also averaged 11.2 points, 7.1 assists, 6.3 rebounds, and 1.7 steals in 22 games played while on assignment in the G League.

Quarterman will wear #55 for the Rockets.

Joel Embiid needs surgery to repair orbital fracture

After suffering an injury at the 11:50 mark of 2nd quarter of last night’s game against New York, Joel Embiid was initially evaluated in the locker room and later taken to Jefferson Hospital for further evaluation and testing. Immediately following the injury, Embiid was assessed for a concussion, was asymptomatic at that time, and passed the NBA’s locker room concussion assessment tool.

However, he later began experiencing symptoms, has since been diagnosed with a concussion, and has been placed in the NBA’s concussion protocol. Embiid also underwent a CT scan, which revealed an orbital fracture of his left eye.

Surgery will be performed in the coming days to address the orbital fracture, and further updates will be provided as appropriate.

Magic sign Rodney Purvis for remainder of season

The Orlando Magic have signed guard Rodney Purvis for the remainder of the 2017-18 regular season, the team announced yesterday.

Purvis (6’4”, 205, 2/14/94) has played in six games with Orlando, averaging 6.3 ppg. in 13.7 minpg. He has led (or tied) the team in scoring once and netted a career-high 19 points on Mar. 22 vs. Philadelphia. Purvis appeared and started in 39 games this season for the Lakeland Magic, Orlando’s NBA G League affiliate, averaging 20.5 ppg., 3.9 rpg., 3.4 apg. and 1.38 stlpg. in 38.1 minpg. He finished the season second in the NBA G League in minutes played and tied for fifth in scoring. Purvis led (or tied) the team in scoring 17 times and in assists 10 times. He scored 30+ points four times, including a season-high 40 points on Dec. 21 @ Westchester.

Purvis was selected to participate in the USA World Cup Qualifying Team training camp Feb. 15-20 and the G League International Challenge on Feb 18. After camp, Purvis was then selected to the 12-man team for the USA’s World Cup Qualifying first round, second-window games, including Cuba on Feb. 23 and Puerto Rico on Feb. 26 in Santa Cruz, Calif., where he averaged 13 ppg. in 23.0 minpg., while shooting 50 percent from the field. The FIBA World Cup Qualifying games are being used to qualify 31 of the 32 nations that will compete in the 2019 FIBA World Cup.

Purvis played in 137 career games (100 starts) during four years at both North Carolina State (2012-13) and the University of Connecticut (2014-17), averaging 11.6 ppg., 3.0 rpg. and 1.8 apg. in 29.1 minpg. Last season, he appeared in 33 games (32 starts), averaging 13.8 ppg., 4.2 rpg., 2.5 apg. and 1.03 stlpg. in 36.9 minpg. As a sophomore (2014-15), Purvis led the Huskies in scoring during the postseason, averaging 17.8 ppg., and was named to the 2015 American Athletic Conference’s All-Tournament Team.

Jazz sign David Stockton to second 10-day contract

The Utah Jazz have signed guard David Stockton to a second 10-day contract.

Stockton has appeared in one game for the Jazz this season, tallying two points in three minutes at Golden State on March 25.

Prior to signing two 10-day contracts with the Jazz, Stockton played for the NBA G League’s Reno Bighorns, where he appeared in 39 games (15 starts), averaging 16.3 points, 5.2 assists, 3.2 rebounds and 1.8 steals in 28.2 minutes per game this season. He was also selected to the official 12-member 2017 USA Men’s World Cup Qualifying Team, coached by Jeff Van Gundy, where he saw action in two wins against Cuba and Puerto Rico, owning averages of 8.5 points, 3.5 assists, 2.5 rebounds and 1.5 steals in 18.4 minutes per game.

The Spokane, Wash., native has additional NBA experience, signing a 10-day contract with the Kings on Feb. 20, 2015, and then to a multi-year contract by Sacramento on April 12, 2015. During his stint with the team, he saw action in three contests with averages of 2.7 points and 3.0 assists in 11.0 minutes.

Stockton has played in the NBA G League the past four seasons with the Reno Bighorns (2014-18), having averaged 18.0 points, 7.1 assists, 3.6 rebounds and 1.7 steals in 142 career games (106 starts). He was named to the 2015 All NBA D-League Rookie Second Team following his first professional season.

He has also competed internationally, having played with the New Zealand Breakers of Australia’s National Basketball League (2016-17), appearing in 10 games (six starts), averaging 8.3 points, 5.2 assists and 2.7 rebounds and Cedevita Zagreb of the Croatian ABA League (2016), where he averaged 13.8 points, 6.0 assists, 2.8 boards and 2.3 steals in league play.

Stockton was a four-year collegiate player at Gonzaga, appearing in 138 career games (39 starts), posting averages of 4.8 points, 3.1 assists, 1.6 rebounds and 1.2 steals in 19.9 minutes per game. In his senior season, he averaged 7.4 points, 4.2 assists, 2.4 rebounds and 1.5 steals in 27.8 minutes per game. He helped Gonzaga to four-straight NCAA Tournaments and earned 2014 All-WCC Tournament Team honors, helping the squad to a 2014 WCC Tournament Championship.

Grizzlies sign MarShon Brooks to a 10-day contract, and waive Brice Johnson

Memphis Grizzlies General Manager Chris Wallace today announced the team signed guard MarShon Brooks to a 10-day contract. In addition, the team waived forward Brice Johnson.

Brooks (6-5, 200) recently completed his third season with the Jiangsu Dragons of the Chinese Basketball Association. The 29-year-old started 28 of his 36 games and averaged 36.6 points, 7.2 rebounds, 5.7 assists and 2.00 steals in 37.6 minutes while shooting 51.0 percent from the field, 40.7 percent from three-point range and 80.7 percent from the free throw line in leading the Dragons to a 26-12 regular season record. He has averaged at least 35 points per game in all three of his seasons with the Dragons.

Selected with the 25th overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft following a four-year collegiate career at Providence, Brooks has appeared in 164 regular season games (49 starts) during his three-year NBA career and has averaged 7.7 points, 2.2 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 17.5 minutes for the New Jersey/Brooklyn Nets (2011-13), Los Angeles Lakers (2013-14), Boston Celtics (2013-14) and Golden State Warriors (2013-14). He was named to the 2011-12 NBA All-Rookie Second Team.

The Long Branch, New Jersey native also has played in the NBA G League for the Maine Red Claws (2013-14) and Santa Cruz Warriors (2013-14) and internationally for Emporio Armani Milano (2014-15) in the Italian Lega Basket Serie A.

Johnson (6-10, 230) has appeared in 21 games as a reserve during his two-year NBA career with the Los Angeles Clippers and Memphis Grizzlies and has averaged 2.2 points and 1.6 rebounds in 5.1 minutes. The 23-year-old University of North Carolina product made nine appearances off the bench for the Grizzlies after he was acquired from the Detroit Pistons on Feb. 8.

Bulls waive Jaylen Johnson, sign CJ Fair

The Chicago Bulls signed forward CJ Fair today. And in a related move, prior to signing Fair the Bulls waived forward Jaylen Johnson.

This season, Fair (6-8, 218) appeared in 47 G League games (25 starts), splitting time between the Windy City Bulls and the Fort Wayne Mad Ants. On the year, he averaged 10.1 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.5 assists in 25.4 minutes per game.

Hawks sign Damion Lee to second 10-day contract

The Atlanta Hawks signed guard Damion Lee to a second 10-day contract today.

Lee has appeared in five games (two starts) with the Hawks, averaging 10.4 points, 3.2 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.2 steals in 23.7 minutes (.447 FG%, .375 3FG%, .800 FT%).

He’s also played in 38 games this season (13 starts) with the Santa Cruz Warriors of the NBA G League, putting up 15.8 points, 4.9 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.5 steals in 29.7 minutes (.454 FG%, .915 FT%).