Here’s the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporting on Milwaukee Bucks center Larry Sanders, who may be one of the first (if not the first) active NBA players to ever advocate for the use of marijuana:

NBA player Larry Sanders defends his marijuana use

Milwaukee Bucks center Larry Sanders was apologetic about a five-game drug suspension but also vigorously defended his marijuana use in an interview Friday night before the Bucks played the Chicago Bulls at the United Center.

Sanders’ season-long saga took another wrong turn earlier Friday when he was penalized by the league for using marijuana in violation of the NBA/NBPA (National Basketball Players Association) drug program.

Sanders already was sidelined due to right orbital fractures suffered when he was elbowed inadvertently by Houston’s James Harden in a Feb. 8 game, an injury that required surgery…

“It’s something I feel strongly about, just to let you know something personal about me,” Sanders said in an interview with the Journal Sentinel and nba.com. “I will deal with the consequences from it. It’s a banned substance in my league. But I believe in marijuana and the medical side of it. I know what it is if I’m going to use it.

“I study it and I know the benefits it has. In a lot of ways we’ve been deprived. You can’t really label it with so many other drugs that people can be addicted to and have so many negative effects on your body and your family and your relationships and impairment. This is not the same thing.

“The stigma is that it’s illegal. I hate that. Once this becomes legal, this all will go away. But I understand for my work it’s a banned substance. I will deal with the consequences and I apologize again to my fans for that.”

Here’s ESPN Dallas reporting on Dallas Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki, who is a scorer of historical proportions:

Dirk Nowitzki has climbed higher than “The Human Highlight Film.”

The Dallas Mavericks star passed Dominique Wilkins for 11th place on the all-time scoring list Friday night when Nowitzki hit a free throw with 8:47 remaining in the third quarter against the Los Angeles Lakers.

“Unbelievable,” said Nowitzki , who finished with 27 points on 11-of-14 shooting in the Mavs’ 107-95 win, giving him 26,678 points for his career. “It’s been a crazy ride. I used to be a big fan of Dominique. I watched all his dunk contests and the many ways he could score, sometimes missing his own shot and he’d be the person to dunk over two people. He was just so much fun to watch.

“It’s been surreal. It’s been a crazy ride for 16 years, and I’m going to keep competing for a couple more years.”

Saturday in Cleveland, the Bobcats beat the Cavaliers 96-94 in overtime. Cavs guard Kyrie Irving shot 16-of-31 for 44 points in the loss. Watch some video highlights of Irving’s effort:

Magic push past banged-up Timberwolves

The Timberwolves are going to miss the playoffs. With a 38-38 record, they are a full seven games behind the Phoenix Suns. Here’s the Minneapolis Star Tribune reporting on the latest Wolves loss, which came with multiple key players missing:

Timberwolves point guard Ricky Rubio sat slumped at his locker after Saturday’s 100-92 loss at Orlando that in every conceivable way did not resemble a double-overtime victory at Miami the night before.

Two large ice bags covered his knees while he soaked his feet in ice. A smaller ice bag wrapped his right shooting hand.

Not him, too?

“Well,” he said, looking up, “It has been a long season.”

It grew noticeably longer for at least one evening when the Wolves on Saturday turned the clock back to a season ago and a time when they regularly played with as few as nine healthy players.

On Saturday, they began without starters Kevin Love, Kevin Martin and Nikola Pekovic — just their three leading scorers — as well as Shabazz Muhammad and then lost Chase Budinger a minute into the game when he turned his ankle after he was fouled on a dunk attempt.

Sixers fight hard in loss to Nets

Here’s the Philadelphia Inquirer reporting on the 76ers, who are at least working hard and trying to play competitive basketball

Give the 76ers credit: They didn’t quit.

Never mind that their fourth-quarter comeback came against the Brooklyn Nets’ reserves. The fact that the Sixers made things competitive was a moral victory for a team in search of silver linings.

In the end, the Nets escaped with a 105-101 victory Saturday night at the Wells Fargo Center.

“Teams know that we are not going to lay down,” Sixers power forward Thaddeus Young said. “We are going to continue to fight, try to keep pushing.

“. . . We just kept playing, kept playing, kept playing, and then it started to click for us.”

Brooklyn (42-34) had a commanding, 21-point lead with 8 minutes, 28 seconds left in the third quarter. Chipping away, the Sixers (17-60) pulled within 12 points heading into the fourth quarter.

Enjoy video highlights of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, 30 years ago, hitting a skyhook to become the NBA all-time leading scorer:

The Utah Jazz announced today that the team has claimed rookie forward Erik Murphy off waivers from Chicago. In a related move, the Jazz requested waivers on center Andris Biedrins.

Following the moves, the Jazz roster remains at 15 players.

The 23-year-old Murphy (6-10, 230, Florida) was waived by Chicago on April 3 after appearing in 24 games for the Bulls, averaging 2.6 minutes per contest. He was selected by Chicago in the second round (49th overall) of the 2013 NBA Draft.

Murphy played in 136 games (67 starts) over a four-year career at the University of Florida (2009-13), finishing with career averages of 7.7 points and 3.7 rebounds in 18.3 minutes, shooting .514 from the field, .435 from three-point range and .757 from the line. As a senior in 2012-13, Murphy earned First Team All-SEC and AP Honorable Mention All-American accolades after posting 12.2 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 0.69 blocks and 0.64 steals in 26.4 minutes per game for the Gators. He also shot .516 from the floor, an SEC-leading .453 from deep (72-159 3FG) and .784 from the line. Murphy was named to the All-SEC Tournament team in both 2012 and 2013.

Born in Lyon, France, Murphy is the son of former NBA forward Jay Murphy (1984-88) and Finland national team player Paivi Murphy, and holds dual U.S. and Finnish citizenship.

Murphy will wear jersey No. 33 for the Jazz.

Biedrins (7-0, 250, Latvia) appeared in six games this season for Utah, averaging 0.5 points and 2.8 rebounds in 7.4 minutes per game. He was acquired from Golden State as part of a three-team trade that also included Denver on July 10, 2013.

Bucks sign Chris Wright to 10-day contract

The Milwaukee Bucks have signed free-agent forward Chris Wright (6-8, 225) to a 10-day contract, General Manager John Hammond announced today. Wright is the 43rd “Call-Up” of the 2013-14 season from the NBA D-League.

This marks Wright’s second stint with the Bucks this season, after also spending 10 days with the club from March 14-23. He appeared in two games with the Bucks, averaging 6.0 points, 2.0 rebounds and 1.5 assists in 16.5 minutes per game.

Wright returns to the Bucks from the D-League’s Maine Red Claws, where he’s appeared in 41 games this season and posted averages of 19.8 points and 8.1 rebounds per contest. He’s notched 14 double-doubles on the year, including seven in his last 11 appearances. Wright also played for the Red Claws during the 2012-13 season, when he average 18.1 points and 8.9 rebounds per game, and has been named to the D-League All-Star Game in both of his seasons in Maine.

After going undrafted out of Dayton in 2011, Wright was selected by the Red Claws with the third overall pick in the 2011 D-League Draft. He appeared in four games for the Red Claws, averaging 17.0 points and 10.8 rebounds, before signing with the Golden State Warriors on Dec. 24, 2011. Wright appeared in 24 games during his lone NBA season and posted 2.9 points and 1.9 rebounds per contest. Earning the start in Golden State’s season finale, Wright tallied a career-best 25 points and eight rebounds while shooting 11-of-14 from the field on April 26, 2012, at San Antonio.

Wright will wear #15 for the Bucks.

Washington Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld announced today that guard Glen Rice has been recalled from the Iowa Energy of the NBA Development League. Rice will be with the team for tonight’s game vs. Chicago.

In two separate assignments with the Energy, Rice has appeared in 19 games while averaging 17.2 points, 6.2 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.7 steals in 28 minutes per game.

Rice has appeared in 11 games, including one start, for Washington this season while averaging 2.9 points in 10 minutes per game.

The 40-36 Wizards recently clinched a spot in the Eastern conference playoffs. They are currently the 6-seed, but could move up to five or drop to seven depending on how the rest of the season plays out.

The Golden State Warriors have relieved Assistant Coach Darren Erman of his duties with the organization due to a violation of company policy, it was announced today. Erman, 37, was in his third season with the Warriors after spending four years with the Boston Celtics.

It is not yet known what actual violation took place.

“This is the type of decision that would be made across the board and irrespective of position within the organization,” said Warriors’ General Manager Bob Myers. “Obviously, the timing is unfortunate, but we hold all of our employees, whether in Basketball Operations or other aspects of the business, accountable for their actions and to the same standard. We move forward and thank Darren for his contributions.”

Another Warriors assistant coach, former NBA player Brian Scalabrine, was recently demoted.

The team is 47-29 and close to clinching a Western conference playoff berth.

According to the Bay Area News Group, “Head coach Mark Jackson said he remained confident in his staff, which now is down to three assistant coaches following his decision to remove Scalabrine from the bench last week due to a “difference in philosophies” along with Erman’s firing. “He made a mistake,” Jackson said of Erman. “He owns it. He’s done a lot for me. He’s done a lot for this organization, and I’m pulling for him to make a comeback. I’m pulling for him to move on and become a great coach, and I believe that can happen. “It’s just tough. I’m pulling for him. The right decision was made, and we move forward, but certainly I’m pulling for him to bounce back and get back on the road that he was on.”

The Houston Rockets are heading to the playoffs for the second straight year and believe wins like the one they picked up Friday night will help them when they get there.

James Harden scored 39 points and the Rockets ended a three-game skid and clinched a playoff berth with a 111-107 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder

“It was a great win for us … just to give ourselves confidence, especially going into the playoffs,” Harden said. “We might see them. It was a big win for us. It shows the resilience we have.”

Kevin Durant scored 28 points and grabbed 12 rebounds for his 40th straight game with at least 25 points, the longest streak since Michael Jordan also did it 40 consecutive times in 1986-87. But he was in no mood to talk about matching the feat after the game.

“We lost the game that’s all I’m worried about,” he said. “I don’t care. We lost.”

– Associated Press

Timberwolves edge Heat in 2OT thriller

Making one free throw at the end of regulation wasn’t enough for the Miami Heat, nor was making just one again at the end of the first overtime.

In the second extra session, one made all the difference for Minnesota.

Corey Brewer hit one of two free throws with 1.8 seconds left after getting a call on an awkward-looking play, and that was enough to help the Timberwolves escape a three-hour thriller with a 122-121 victory over the Heat on Friday night.

Kevin Love scored 28 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for Minnesota, which got 24 from Chase Budinger, 15 from Gorgui Dieng and 13 apiece from J.J. Barea and Ricky Rubio, who also added 14 assists. Referee Ken Mauer called the last foul on Miami’s Norris Cole, who was guarding Brewer near the basket as a pass was coming his way.

– Associated Press

Bradley Beal made the go-ahead jumper with 22 seconds left and scored 28 points, and the Washington Wizards took advantage of nine turnovers by Carmelo Anthony to edge the New York Knicks, 90-89 on Friday night.

Wall added 19 points, combining with Beal for Washington’s final 12.

The loss dropped the Knicks out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, with the struggling Atlanta Hawks taking a one-game lead after beating the Cleveland Cavaliers earlier Friday.

J.R. Smith scored a season-high 32 points for the Knicks but misfired on a potential game-winning 3 with 2.2 seconds remaining after Anthony lost control of the ball.

Anthony, held to 10 points, made a jumper to cut the Wizards’ lead to 88-86 lead with 1:33 remaining.

– Associated Press

Larry Sanders suspended 5 games for violating anti-drug program

The NBA announced today that Larry Sanders of the Milwaukee Bucks has been suspended without pay for five games for violating the terms of the NBA/NBPA Anti-Drug Program. Sanders’ suspension will begin with the next NBA regular season game for which he is eligible and physically able to play.

In response to this, the Milwaukee Bucks issued the following statement: “Larry Sanders has a responsibility to every person in our organization and our fans. We are all disappointed by the news of his suspension.”

And, Larry Sanders issued a statement: “I apologize to the entire Bucks organization and our fans for being suspended five games for using marijuana in violation of the NBA Anti-Drug Program. I take full responsibility for my actions.”

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “The NBA imposes a five-game suspension upon the third positive test for marijuana use. Sanders is not active at this time due to an injury he suffered on Feb. 8. He underwent surgery to repair orbital fractures after being elbowed in the eye in a game against Houston and said in an interview in Portland last month that he would miss the rest of the season. His suspension will not take effect until he is physically able to play, so Sanders is likely to begin his four-year, $44 million contract extension next season with the five-game suspension.”

Houston Rockets power forward/center Dwight Howard received the March Community Assist Award in recognition of his charitable contributions and efforts in the Greater Houston area, the NBA announced today. The award recognizes an NBA player each month who best reflects the passion that the league and its players have for giving back to their communities.

Last month, Howard’s D12 Foundation launched its grassroots program, “Block Out Violence,” within participating junior and senior high schools in Houston to promote anti-bullying, nonviolence, respect and acceptance. Howard began the campaign by hosting an assembly and a flash mob at Carnegie Vanguard High School, encouraging kids to help create safer campuses and communities. Thirty-two Houston schools have participated in the program, spurring thousands of students and their families to host events in their neighborhoods and post 800,000 positive messages of nonviolence on social media using the #BOV hashtag.

In addition to the “Block Out Violence” program, Howard has dedicated his time and resources to helping disadvantaged children and their families throughout Houston. Howard purchased 50 season tickets for kids as part of the Rockets for Youth ticket program. He also hosted a breakfast and provided gifts for homeless mothers and their children at the Salvation Army Residence Center in Houston. Extending his charity beyond his community, Howard worked with the D12 Foundation to provide $10,000 to the BETA Center in Orlando, an organization that provides support to teen moms and at-risk families.

“I’ve made it a point to give back to the community since my career began, and now that Houston is my home I want to make a difference here. I’ve been concerned about the violence and bullying that seems to be taking control of our schools and communities – not only in Houston, but throughout the country,” said Howard. “My hope is that the “Block Out Violence” campaign will motivate students to start grassroots movements in their schools that get them thinking and talking about the way they treat one another – ultimately, making safer schools and communities.”

During tonight’s home game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, NBA Cares Ambassador Bob Lanier and Houston Rockets and Toyota Center CEO Tad Brown will present Howard with the David Robinson Plaque during an oncourt ceremony. In addition, and the NBA will donate $10,000 on Howard’s behalf to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Houston.

The Philadelphia 76ers today announced that they have signed guard Casper Ware to a second 10-day contract. He signed his first 10-day contract on March 24, 2014.

Ware has appeared in five games for the Sixers this season. After graduating from Long Beach State in 2012, Ware played in Italy. He spent the 2012-13 season with A.S. Junior Casale and was named MVP of Legadue Basket. Prior to joining the Sixers this season, Ware was with Virtus Bologna of Lega Basket Serie A.

Mavericks enjoy big win vs Clippers

Here’s the Dallas Morning News blog reporting on the Mavericks, who on Thursday beat the Clippers in Los Angeles, 113-107.

It’s a huge win: Just keep repeating that to yourself. Don’t worry about the fact that the Mavericks lost all but two points of a 109-97 lead in 85 seconds, which is really hard to do for an NBA team that still is trying hard. “The win was nice,” said Dirk Nowitzki. “Not so much the last couple minutes. We started to give the ball away again. And (J.J.) Redick had a (3-point) shot for the lead, which was amazing after having a 10-point lead.” Nevertheless, the Mavericks held on and that’s all that really matters.

Hope springs eternal: This win, and the win against Oklahoma City at home last week, is the sort of showing that makes you believe that the Mavericks have a puncher’s chance when the playoffs roll around. And it looks more and more now like the Mavericks will be a part of the postseason party this season. They aren’t in, by any stretch. But they have the three worst teams in the Western Conference (by record) coming up to finish this trip. They could be knocking on the door of clinching a playoff spot by the time they return home Wednesday.

Video: Jason Williams career highlights

Watch this NBA video of the top 10 plays by flashy retired point guard Jason Williams, aka White Chocolate:

Thursday in Oklahoma City the Thunder beat the Spurs 106-94, ending San Antonio’s 19-game winning streak. Kevin Durant scored 28 points in the win, while Russell Westbrook had 27. Here are some video highlights:

Video: Blake Griffin vs Dirk Nowitzki

Thursday in Los Angeles, the Dallas Mavericks stepped up and beat the Clippers, 113-107. Here are some video highlights of Blake Griffin and Dirk Nowitzki, who both had good teams for their squads:

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