Brandon Knight making progress in recovery


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You remember guard Brandon Knight. He has talent. He played a few seasons each with the Pistons, Bucks and Suns. As recently as 2015-16, he put up 19.6 points, 3.9 rebounds and 5.1 assists per game for Phoenix. Then got hurt in 2016-17 and hasn’t played since. Now he’s on the Rockets and hasn’t been heard from until pretty much right now, thanks to a big step in his eventual return. Here’s the Houston Chronicle reporting:

Rockets guard Brandon Knight, who has been out since the 2016-17 season when he had knee surgery to repair a torn left ACL, took a major step in his comeback, playing for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, the Rockets’ G League affiliate.

Knight, 26, had a follow-up surgery this summer, pushing back his return to the court after he was acquired along with center Marquese Chriss in the trade that sent Ryan Anderson and De’Anthony Melton to the Suns.

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Heat take break from Vice jerseys


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When something is broke, you fix it. Even if that means taking a break from wearing extremely cool jerseys. Even if losing games probably had nothing to do with which jerseys were being worn. Now that you have surely gained a wealth of clarity from those sentences, here’s the Miami Herald with a Heat update:

The Miami Heat has apparently given up on trying to win in the Vice Nights jerseys for now. The Heat’s Friday game against the New Orleans Pelicans was scheduled to be the seventh straight home game for Miami to wear its black alternate jerseys, but when the Heat arrived on the court — still the Vice-themed variant Miami has used — the Heat donned its typical red and black warmups. A team spokesman said the team made a last-minute decision to wear red, instead.

The Vice Nights jerseys drew plenty of attention for Miami, but also coincided with a recent home losing streak. The Heat (7-13) debuted the black, pink and blue jerseys Nov. 9 against the Indiana Pacers and haven’t won at AmericanAirlines Arena since. Miami is 0-6 while wearing the alternate jerseys

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And here’s the South Florida Sun Sentinel on the situation:

The Heat had the Vice Nights black jerseys in their locker stalls during the media viewing period just an hour prior to Friday night’s game.

The team continued to play on the special Vice Nights court trimmed in pink and blue pastels, again opening with the team’s special Vice Nights introduction video.

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Nene set to make Rockets season debut

The Rockets aren’t off to a good start this season. Their defense has dropped off considerably from last year. Having Nene in action to add depth to the frontcourt should help a bit. Not sure how much. But some. Here’s the Houston Chronicle reporting:

Rockets center Nene is expected to make his season debut on Saturday against the Bulls, with the Rockets holding him out one more day on Friday in part because they are playing a back-to-back but also because he went through his most demanding practice on Thursday.

“The important thing is I feel better,” Nene said. “I feel good. I’ve been working. In the last two, three practices I did what I need to do to see the movement I’m going to use in a game, especially in my style, my game style. I feel OK.”

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Dwight Howard injury update: out at least 2-3 months

Washington Wizards center Dwight Howard underwent an L4-L5 lumbar microdiscectomy earlier today. The team says the procedure went as planned with no complications.

The procedure was performed by Dr. Robert Watkins in Marina Del Rey, CA, and was recommended after consultation with Dr. Watkins and Wizards Director of Medical Services and Orthopedist Dr. Wiemi Douoguih determined that the disc herniation was causing severe nerve irritation and gluteal pain.

Howard’s progress will be re-evaluated in around two to three months.

Timberwolves playing great defense since trading Jimmy Butler

Yes, the headline sounds like an attack on Jimmy Butler. It isn’t. It’s just a factual look at how the Timberwolves have been playing lately. Here’s the St Paul Pioneer Press reporting:

Since Nov. 10, the day the Timberwolves agreed to trade Jimmy Butler to Philadelphia, Minnesota has been the NBA’s best defensive team.

“We’re paying more attention to the detail, understanding what we have to do, watching film,” Timberwolves forward Taj Gibson said. “You’re seeing more guys watching film, pulling in the coaches (and asking), ‘What hand does he want to use? What hand doesn’t he want to use? What do you want me to do more?’ ”

Over their past nine games, including Wednesday’s 128-89 victory over perpetual nemesis San Antonio, the Wolves have ranked No. 1 in defensive rating (99.8 points allowed per 100 possessions), opposing field-goal percentage (41.8 percent), fast break points allowed (7.9 a game) and points allowed in the paint (40.9).

They’re also second in steals per game (10.1) and, most important, 7-2, since trading their best player.

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Spencer Dinwiddie soon eligible for Nets extension

Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie has started zero of the 22 games he’s played this season, yet is 3rd in scoring at 16.0 ppg in 27.6 minutes per game for the 8-14 Nets. With the recent injury to Caris LeVert there has been even more pressure than expected on Nets guards, including Dinwiddie. But beyond that injury and focusing on the future more than the present, the Nets will soon have a huge decision to make. Here’s the New York Post reporting:

A week from Saturday, the Nets can give Spencer Dinwiddie up to a four-year, $47.5 million extension, and he hopes they do.

He prefers staying in Brooklyn to free agency. But even though the deal looks like a bargain for the Nets, it’s certainly no lock they make it.

“I’d love to have an extension. I’d love to be here for a long time. If I don’t get an extension, I’ll be looking forward to unrestricted free agency and going through the season trying to help the Nets win games as much as possible,” Dinwiddie said. “Either I’m going to sign an extension or I’m going to be an unrestricted free agent, simple as that. The ball is very much in [general manager] Sean Marks and the Nets’ court.

“Everybody knows what my extension number is: Four for $47 ¹/₂ million. … Can’t go above. It’s not like I’m really looking to go below. It is what it is. I’ll find out when you guys find out. We’ll either see something on the ESPN ticker that says ‘Spencer Dinwiddie offered $47 ¹/₂ million from the Brooklyn Nets,’ and then you guys will know how much money my bank account has at that moment in time.”

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Marcus Morris doing big things for Celtics

The Celtics are a disappointing 11-10 so far this season. Not the start that was expected of them. Fortunately, it’s a long season, and if as the playoffs approach they start playing more like they contender they have the ability to be, October and November’s results will mostly be forgotten about. One bright spot so far has been the play of Marcus Morris. Here’s the Boston Herald reporting:

In the realm of predictions, perhaps only Marcus Morris could see this happening.

The Celtics forward, who became irreplaceable over the first 21 games this season as an off-the-bench scorer, has also emerged as the Celtics’ best two-way player.

And after Monday’s win in New Orleans, when the additions of Morris and Marcus Smart to the starting lineup helped galvanize one of the team’s few impressive performances this season, he may be part of a new-look starting lineup.

“May,” because when Jaylen Brown returns from back trouble (he’s expected to be a scratch tonight against Cleveland) there’s a chance Brad Stevens returns to his former rotation. The Celtics coach is clearly still weighing various rotational possibilities.

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Coach Clifford wants Magic to fight harder for rebounds

Orlando Magic head coach Steve Clifford wants his squad to stop watching rebounds and to start grabbing a lot more of them. Here’s the Orlando Sentinel reporting:

The Magic have been out-rebounded in two consecutive games and Clifford wants his squad to be far more physical. The NBA has evolved into a perimeter-shooting league, which means there often are longer rebounds coming off the rim. But far too many times Wednesday, shots caromed off the rim and the Magic did not even have a player in the paint to battle for the ball.

“It’s hitting more, getting more guys in there. I know it sounds silly but if we got five guys in there fighting for the ball and they got three … I just showed them a couple of clips where it happened last night, where [if] we got everybody in there fighting for the ball, then we have a better chance to get it,” Clifford said. “It’s a major challenge for our team and we gotta get better at it.

“Say what you want, Lillard was phenomenal last night (41 points), both [Kevin] Durant (49 points) and [Klay] Thompson (20 points) were great at Golden State and if we rebound better, we win both of those games. We’re doing a lot of good things, but if we don’t get the rebounding stuff down, it may not matter.”

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Nuggets sign guard Brandon Goodwin

Nuggets sign guard Brandon Goodwin

The Denver Nuggets have been granted an injury hardship relief exception from the NBA and will use that exception to sign guard Brandon Goodwin of the G League.

Goodwin, 6-2, 180, has played in nine games with the Memphis Hustle this season, averaging 23.4 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.67 steals in 33.7 minutes per game.

Goodwin transferred to Florida Gulf Coast University after spending two seasons at the University of Central Florida. In two seasons with Florida Gulf Coast, Goodwin averaged 18.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 1.28 steals in 32.5 minutes per game. In 2018, Goodwin was selected as the Atlantic Sun Player of the Year, an AP All-American Honorable Mention and to the NABC All-District (3) First Team.

He will wear #6 for the Nuggets.

Report: Pau Gasol suffers stress fracture in foot


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The 10-11 Spurs have won just 3 of their last 10 games, and could some good news. Unfortunately, it won’t come in the form of a Pau Gasol health report. Playing just nine games so far, Gasol won’t be returning anytime soon, according to this report from the San Antonio Express-News:

Pau Gasol did not make the Spurs’ four-game road trip that ended Wednesday in Minnesota.

It could be a while before he is back on the court at all.

Further testing has revealed a stress fracture in the troublesome left foot that has already caused Gasol to miss the past 12 games.

The 38-year-old center had recently progressed to some on-court work before getting the disappointing news.

Well past his prime, Gasol plays a supporting role on the Spurs these days, but he’s still important and does a lot in very limited playing time. This season, his minutes per game have been a career-low 17.4, yet in that time he’s still putting up an impressive 6.8 points, 6.1 rebounds and 3.3 assists on 51.2% FG. But it sounds like he won’t be back in action any time soon.