Timberwolves putting up wins lately

Like that mythical guy pushing the boulder, the Timberwolves still have lots of uphill work to do before they reach the playoffs this season, but Wednesday’s 107-91 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers showed again that they’re beating the rock, step by step.

The Wolves won for the seventh time in 11 games, and they did so against a Clippers team featuring Chris Paul and Blake Griffin back in the lineup together.

The last time these teams played, the Clippers played without either superstar and the Wolves prevailed by a mere three points in L.A. in January. This time, the Wolves won in both measurable and immeasurable categories, starting with the lopsided scoreboard, of course, but also including rebounding (50-36) and points in the paint (62-40).

– Minneapolis Star Tribune

New Orleans Pelicans forward/center DeMarcus Cousins has been fined $50,000 for directing inappropriate language towards fans on separate occasions, it was announced today by Kiki VanDeWeghe, Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations.

The incidents occurred during the Pelicans’ 105-97 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday, March 5 at Staples Center and at the conclusion of the Pelicans’ 88-83 loss to the Utah Jazz on Monday, March 6 at Vivint Smart Home Arena.

Nick Young’s house burglarized

The celebrity burglary thiefstravaganza continues … this time, crooks struck the L.A. home of Lakers star Nick Young (again!) and made off with $500k in cash and jewelry after taking his entire safe!!!

Law enforcement sources confirm … Young’s Valley residence was hit in February when the bad guys entered through an unlocked door and pilfered the NBA star’s valuables.

We’re told crooks took roughly $30k in cash plus 3 gold chains, a custom ring and a locked safe containing other valuables.

– TMZ Sports

The NBA announced today that the March 6 game between the Portland Trail Blazers and Minnesota Timberwolves, which was postponed due to unsafe playing conditions on the arena floor, has been rescheduled for Monday, April 3 at 6 p.m. CT/7 p.m. ET at Target Center.

The Hornets have signed guard Brianté Weber to a second 10-day contract. Weber signed his first 10-day contract with Charlotte on Feb. 27. The Hornets roster now stands at 15 players.

Weber has seen action in one game with Charlotte, tallying two points at Phoenix on March 2. In his NBA career, the 6-2 guard has appeared in 15 games (four starts) over two seasons with the Memphis Grizzlies, Miami Heat, Golden State Warriors and Hornets, averaging 3.0 points, 1.9 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 14.5 minutes per contest. Weber appeared in two postseason games with the Heat, logging six minutes of action during the 2016 NBA Playoffs.

The Virginia Commonwealth University product also played with the Sioux Falls Skyforce of the NBA Development League this season. The 24-year-old appeared in 31 games (all starts) posting averages of 16.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, 7.4 assists and 3.3 steals in 36.8 minutes per game. Weber was named NBA D-League Player of the Month in January, and was also selected as a 2017 NBA D-League All-Star.

The Dallas Mavericks announced today that they have signed guard Manny Harris and forward Jarrod Uthoff to 10-day contracts.

Harris (6-5, 185) is a three-year veteran with career averages of 6.4 points, 2.7 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 17.6 minutes in 89 games (20 starts) with Cleveland and the L.A. Lakers. After going undrafted in the 2010 NBA Draft, Harris signed as a rookie free agent with the Cleveland Cavaliers. He saw action in 54 games (15 starts) during his rookie campaign with Cleveland and averaged 5.9 points, 2.6 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 17.3 minutes. Harris was waived by the Cavaliers following his second season in Cleveland and spent the 2012-13 season in Ukraine with BC Azovmash. In 2013-14, he had a short stint back in the NBA with the Lakers that saw him average 8.1 points and 3.8 rebounds in just nine games.

Most recently, Harris was with the Texas Legends of the NBA Development League where he has averaged 26.3 points, 7.6 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 2.2 steals and 39.2 minutes in 37 games (36 starts) this season.

The Detroit native was an early entry candidate into the NBA Draft after three collegiate seasons at Michigan where he averaged 17.0 points, 5.7 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.5 steals and 34.0 minutes in 98 career games (97 starts).

Uthoff (6-9, 220) went undrafted in the 2016 NBA Draft and signed as a rookie free agent with the Toronto Raptors. He appeared in one preseason game for the Raptors before being waived on Oct. 22. He was acquired by Raptors 905 of the NBA Development League on Oct. 30 and was traded the Fort Wayne Mad Ants on Jan. 27. In a combined 35 games (7 starts) in the D-League this season, Uthoff is averaging 10.7 points, 6.2 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 23.9 minutes per contest.

The Cedar Rapids, Iowa native played collegiately at the University of Iowa and, as a senior, earned First Team All-Big Ten and Second Team All-America honors while averaging 18.9 points, 6.3 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 2.6 blocks. Uthoff joins Yogi Ferrell and A.J. Hammons as the third Maverick from the 2016 All-Big Ten First Team.

Harris will wear No. 6 and Uthoff will wear No. 19 for the Mavericks.

The New Orleans Pelicans today signed free agent guard Wayne Selden Jr. to a 10-day contract.

Selden, 6-4, 232, has most recently played for the Iowa Energy of the NBA Development League, appearing in 35 games while posting averages of 18.5 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.9 assists in 30.6 minutes.

Selden will wear #25 for the Pelicans and be available for tonight’s contest vs. Toronto.

New Orleans’ roster stands at 15.

Timberwolves sign Lance Stephenson to second 10-day contract

The Minnesota Timberwolves signed guard Lance Stephenson to a second 10-day contract today.

Stephenson, who was originally signed to a 10-day contract by the Wolves on February 8th, has appeared in four games for Minnesota this season averaging 4.3 points, 1.8 rebounds and 0.8 assists per game.

Stephenson’s NBA career has taken a nosedive in recent seasons. He’s trying to get himself back on the map. Using this 10-day deal to earn a rest-of-season contract would be a good start.

Festus Ezeli undergoes season-ending surgery

Trail Blazers center Festus Ezeli, who hasn’t played at all this season, underwent surgery on his left knee, team president of basketball operations Neil Olshey announced today.

The surgery was performed by Dr. Robert LaPrade at the Steadman Clinic in Vail, Colorado.

Ezeli will miss the remainder of the 2016-17 season.

Ezeli spent the first three seasons of his NBA career as a member of the Warriors. The Blazers, who at 27-35 have the 9th best record in the Western conference through Tuesday’s games, were counting on him as a defensive, rebound-grabbing presence. They’ll have to wait until next season to see what he can do.

Cavs getting J.R. Smith back soon

Cavs shooting guard J.R. Smith has been medically cleared to return to action. So if he doesn’t play in the squad’s very next game, he should still likely be active soon. Here’s the News Herald reporting:

Cavs getting J.R. Smith back soon

J.R. Smith’s right thumb is fine. His head, though, might be a different story.

The Cavaliers sharp-shooting guard returned to full practice on March 8 for the first time since he was injured on Dec. 20 in Milwaukee swiping at the ball. He underwent complex surgery three days later to repair the fracture.

Smith has missed 41 of the Cavaliers’ 62 games. He is listed as questionable for their game with the Pistons in Detroit on March 9. After practice at the Cleveland Clinic Courts in Independence he said he isn’t sure if he is mentally ready to play right now.

“It’s more or less my confidence going into playing,” Smith said. “It’s a weird situation. Physically, I’m fine. Mentally, going in there swiping at the ball, trying to dive for loose balls — that plays a factor.

Here’s the Orange County Register reporting on the Lakers, who have one of the league’s worst records but also boast an intriguing cast of young talent:

Luke Walton concerned that the Lakers are a soft team

The outcome seemed as inevitable as Dirk Nowitzki sinking a fadeaway jumper.

The Lakers suffered a 122-111 loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday at American Airlines Center, marking their eighth consecutive loss overall and the fourth consecutive year they were swept by the Mavericks in the regular-season series.

Afterward, Lakers coach Luke Walton echoed a criticism former Lakers coach Byron Scott often had last season when he called the team “soft.”

“Teams feel like when they play us right now, we’re kind of a soft team that they can come in to get their offensive numbers against,” Walton said. “That’s got to be up to us to change that.”

Walton expressed optimism the Lakers (19-45) will eventually do that.

Here’s the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reporting on Mavericks legend Dirk Nowitzki, who has now scored over 30,000 points in the NBA:

Dirk Nowitzki passes 30,000 NBA points scored

Dirk Nowitzki didn’t waste any time giving the people what they wanted. Poised to etch his name in the history books alongside some NBA legends, Nowitzki poured in 25 points Tuesday night to lead the Dallas Mavericks to a 122-111 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers before an energetic American Airlines Center sellout crowd of 20,484.

Along the way, Nowitzki became only the sixth player in NBA history to score at least 30,000 points for his career. And it was the way Nowitzki reached his milestone that had the crowd in an electrifying mood.

Anxious to reach his appointed destination with history in a hurry, Nowitzki came out firing. Needing just 20 points to reach the 30,000 barrier, the 19-year veteran popped in 18 points in during a red-hot first quarter in which he made his first six shots, including 2-of-2 from 3-point territory.

Those were the most points in a quarter by a Mavs player this season.

Here’s the St. Paul Pioneer Press reporting that the Timberwolves frontcourt is about to get a bit deeper:

Adreian Payne was back participating in practice Tuesday after he was medically cleared to play.

Payne has been out since early February with a low platelet count. He is officially questionable for the Wolves’ home game against the Clippers on Wednesday. Thibodeau said Payne has a long way to go conditioning-wise but added it was good to have him back on the floor.

“It’s very nice,” Karl-Anthony Towns said. “You always worry about his health, and just to see him out here playing with us, working out, everything is a huge bonus. It’s been definitely a journey for him recently, but just glad to see he’s getting healthy and he’s ready to play.”

An update on Cavs injuries:

Andrew Bogut done for season with broken leg

Andrew Bogut underwent additional imaging and evaluation at the Cleveland Clinic yesterday related to his fractured left tibia. His tibia has been set and he is undergoing a non-surgical treatment and recovery plan commencing immediately with an extended period of immobilization and healing stimulation. He will not be available to play the remainder of the regular season and playoffs, but is expected to successfully complete his recovery process in advance of training camp for the 2017-18 NBA season.

Kyle Korver is experiencing left foot soreness. He will travel with the team on the current trip to Detroit, Orlando and Houston while receiving treatment. He is listed as Out vs. Detroit and his status will be updated as appropriate following that.

JR Smith (right thumb) has been cleared to resume full practice activity today and is listed as Questionable vs. Detroit.

Head Coach Tyronn Lue is being treated for a sinus/inner ear issue. He did not attend practice today and will not travel with the team to Detroit this afternoon. He is expected to meet the team in Detroit tomorrow and be back on the sideline for the game tomorrow night vs. the Pistons.

Ed Davis undergoes season-ending shoulder surgery

Trail Blazers center Ed Davis underwent successful arthroscopic surgery today to stabilize the labrum in his left shoulder, it was announced by president of basketball operations Neil Olshey.

The procedure was performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache at the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopedic Clinic in Los Angeles.

Davis will be out for the remainder of the 2016-17 season, but is expected to be ready for the 2017-18 training camp.

Lakers hire Rob Pelinka as GM

The Los Angeles Lakers have hired Rob Pelinka as General Manager.

Pelinka, 47, joins the Lakers after spending the greater part of two decades representing many of the NBA’s top talent. During his tenure as an agent, Pelinka was named by Forbes Magazine as one of the Top 10 Sports Agents in the World. In his role, Pelinka will report to Lakers Governor Jeanie Buss and President of Basketball Operations, Earvin “Magic” Johnson.

“We have worked closely with Rob for many years and have first-hand experience with his knowledge of the league and the business of basketball,” said Buss. “In our recent discussions, it was clear that he also shares our goal of returning the Lakers to being an elite NBA franchise. Together with Earvin and Coach Walton, I believe we are in a great position to bring winning basketball back to the Lakers.”

“Rob’s knowledge of the NBA landscape and the CBA, as well as his relationships with GMs around the league, are invaluable,” said Johnson. “After running a successful sports agency and as someone who truly understands the inner workings of salary caps and player negotiations, he will bring the additional skills and experience needed in the Lakers executive office. Rob is a winner and the Lakers are fortunate to have him.”

The Lake Forest, Illinois native earned his B.B.A. from the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan with high honors in 1993, before receiving his J.D., Cum Laude, from the University of Michigan Law School in 1996. While at Michigan, Pelinka earned a 1989 National Championship as a member of the Wolverines basketball team and also took part in three NCAA Final Fours (1989, 1992 & 1993).

“I am beyond grateful to join the Lakers front office,” said Pelinka. “The Lakers are a gold standard for sports franchises in the world, so we all share a responsibility to pursue excellence in everything we do. Excellence is what the Lakers stands for, what Jeanie Buss and Earvin Johnson embody, and what Coach Walton demands from our players. That obsession for greatness is what will bring Lakers basketball back to a championship level. With Jeanie and Magic guiding the vision, I am thrilled to help architect the future. I am really excited to get to work.”

Here’s the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporting on a promising young member of the Bucks:

He does not fit the profile of an NBA rookie of the year candidate.

He was a second-round pick, a five-year player at the University of Virginia. He’s 24 years old, considered ancient for a rookie in this one-and-done era.

But the numbers tell a different story.

Milwaukee Bucks point guard Malcolm Brogdon indeed is a very serious candidate for the league’s rookie of the year honor.

He leads all rookies in win shares (2.9), a statistic that calculates the number of wins a player produces for his team. He is shooting 42.8% from three-point range, leading all rookies and ranking seventh in the league. And he averages 10.0 points and 4.1 assists, modest numbers but good enough to rank third in scoring and first in assists among rookies.

The NBA game scheduled for this evening between the Portland Trail Blazers and Minnesota Timberwolves at Target Center in Minneapolis, MN has been postponed due to unsafe playing conditions on the arena floor.

The game will be rescheduled at a later date.

NBA player notes, March 6, 2017

Some interesting NBA player notes from the past week:

Brook Lopez, Nets: The 7-foot center last week became the second player in team history to score 10,000 points. Buck Williams is the franchise leader with 10,440 points.

Alan Williams, Suns: He has recorded a point-rebound double-double in each of his last three games and four of his last five, all off the bench. During Phoenix’s current three-game winning streak, the 24-year-old forward is averaging 13.7 points and 13.3 rebounds.

Tobias Harris, Pistons: The 24-year-old forward is averaging 16.7 points and shooting 51.5 percent from the field in 24 games off the bench, his predominant role since late December.

Jaylen Brown, Celtics: The No. 3 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft is averaging 13.2 points (on 54.5 percent shooting) and 5.2 rebounds in his last six games.

Jusuf Nurkic, Trail Blazers: Acquired Feb. 13 in a trade with Denver, the 7-foot center from Bosnia and Herzegovina is averaging 14.5 points, 8.2 rebounds and 4.0 assists in six games with Portland.

Bojan Bogdanovic, Wizards: He has scored 27 points twice in his last three games, making 6-of-7 from three-point range in the first of those big outings (March 1 at Toronto) and 8-of-10 in the second (March 5 vs. Orlando).

Utah Jazz: With Sunday’s overtime victory at Sacramento, Utah improved to 11-2 with a starting lineup of George Hill, Rodney Hood, Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert.

– Via NBA News

Good upcoming national TV NBA games

Some of the good upcoming nationally televised NBA games this week:

Wednesday, March 8: Celtics @ Warriors, 10:30 p.m., ESPN – On April 1 of last season, Boston defeated Golden State 109-106 to snap the Warriors’ NBA-record 54-game home winning streak in the regular season.

Thursday, March 9: Spurs @ Thunder, 8 p.m., TNT – San Antonio, which has clinched a playoff berth for the 20th straight season, begins the week needing two victories to extend its NBA record for consecutive seasons with at least 50 victories to 18.

Saturday, March 11: Warriors @ Spurs, 8:30 p.m., ABC – The two teams with the NBA’s best records meet for the first time since opening night, when San Antonio handed Golden State the first of its three home losses this season. The Warriors start the week with a 2½-game lead over the Spurs for first place in the Western Conference.

Sunday, March 12: Bulls @ Celtics, 3:30 p.m., ABC – Bobby Portis, who recently became Chicago’s starter at power forward, is averaging 12.1 points and 6.8 rebounds in his last eight games.

Sunday, March 12: Cavaliers @ Rockets, 9 p.m., ESPN – Houston leads the NBA with 930 three-pointers made, which is only three behind the 2014-15 Rockets (933) for the second-highest single-season total in NBA history. Cleveland, meanwhile, ranks second this season with 807 three-pointers made, including an NBA regular-season-record 25 against Atlanta on March 3.

– Via NBA News

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