Kevin Love had food poisoning

Kevin Love had food poisoning

The injury bug already reared its ugly head this season for the Cavaliers, taking down J.R. Smith’s thumb, Chris Andersen’s Achilles, and to a lesser extent, Kyrie Irving’s hamstring and Mike Dunleavy’s ankle in its path.

Following the Cavs’ 90-86 win over the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday, Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue revealed his team is also dealing with the flu.

Kevin Love had it worst, as he exited the game with 6:54 remaining in the fourth quarter and did not return because of his illness that began as food poisoning, believed to be linked to sea bass he ate on the team’s flight back from Charlotte on Saturday, according to Lue.

“When I got the call from [Cavs head athletic trainer] Steve [Spiro], he said [Love] had lost 10 pounds and he was throwing up and whatever else I can’t say,” Lue said.

– ESPN.com

Quick Take: Love is having an excellent season. He’s averaging 21.8 ppg, 10.9 rpg and 1.7 apg. He’s taking a team-high 6.8 three point attempts per game, hitting 39.7% from outside the arc, and 44.8% FG. The Cavs are 26-7 this season, and for now their only series competition in the Eastern conference is the Toronto Raptors.

The Charlotte Hornets announced today that center Cody Zeller has been placed in the NBA’s concussion protocol. Zeller was hit with an elbow to the head late in the fourth quarter of Charlotte’s game against Cleveland on Dec. 31, 2016.

Per the NBA’s Concussion Policy, Zeller will begin the process to return once he is deemed symptom free. No timetable is set for his return and further updates will be provided when available.

The fourth-year Indiana product is averaging 10.7 points, 6.2 rebounds and 1.1 blocks on 59.5% field goal shooting in 26.1 minutes per game, marking career-highs in all categories. Zeller has played in 31 games for Charlotte this season (starting in 29 of those contests).

Pelicans waive Reggie Williams

The New Orleans Pelicans waived guard/forward Reggie Williams today.

Williams, 6-6, 210, was originally signed by the Pelicans on Dec. 10, 2016. In five games, Williams averaged 5.0 points and 1.2 rebounds in 12.6 minutes per contest.

The Pelicans’ roster currently stands at 14.

James Harden gets 53-point triple-double

James Harden gets 53-point triple-double

As often as James Harden had given the Rockets whatever they needed, part of the magic was knowing just what was required at any given time.

On Saturday against the Knicks, that was obvious.

They needed everything.

They needed more points than any Rockets player had ever scored in a triple-double, more points than he had ever scored in a game, and then they still needed more.

When he was through, Harden became the first player in NBA history with 50 points, 15 rebounds and 15 assists in a game, driving the Rockets to a 129-122 win at Toyota Center.

With that, the Rockets went 15-2 in December, matching their most wins ever in a month. They sent it out in style.

Harden had a career-high 53 points, and matched his career high with 17 assists. His 16 rebounds were one shy of matching the most in his career.

Houston Chronicle

A line of demarcation has formed between the Charlotte Hornets and the top teams in the NBA’s Eastern Conference – and it goes deeper than what is now a combined 0-6 record this season against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Toronto Raptors and Boston Celtics.

“There’s a reason why they’re the three best teams,” said coach Steve Clifford after his team lost 121-115 to the defending champion Cavaliers on Saturday at Spectrum Center. “Every team has a talent level. For us to beat the top teams, we’re going to have to be at or near our best. For (Cleveland on Saturday), for instance, they were really good, but they really didn’t have to be.”

The loss to the Cavs dropped Hornets to 19-15, good enough to remain in first place in the Southeastern Division as they head to Chicago for a game Monday against the Bulls. Do the math: the Hornets are 19-9 against the rest of the league.

Charlotte Observer

Bulls bench Rajon Rondo

Bulls bench Rajon Rondo

Rajon Rondo stood for plenty of moments during the Bulls’ 116-96 beating at the hands of the Milwaukee Bucks, the first full game of his benching after sitting the entire second half Friday night against the Pacers.

The Bulls guard stood at his locker moments later, candidly and honestly answering questions from the media about his future — one that seems to be in doubt some 30 games into his first season as a Bull.

“Absolutely,” said Rondo when asked if he accomplished enough in the NBA for the Bulls to accommodate him on a trade or some transaction to allow him to seek another team should the benching continue.

“Gar (Forman, Bulls GM) and I will have a talk. We’ll talk tonight and go from there. I don’t know if it’s right now, maybe the next 30, 18, 45 minutes. Tonight, before ’17 (the clock strikes midnight).”

By then, one wonders if the Bulls and Rondo will be working on a buyout to free him from the remainder of his contract — one that includes a $3 million buyout that has to be exercised before next July.

“No, I’m not surprised. Not surprised,” Rondo said. “It’s been a tough season. Certain buttons are being pushed and the Bulls are trying to figure things out.”\

CSN Chicago

Quick Take: This is now a common theme with Rondo. If he can’t succeed alongside the likes of Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler, it’s hard to guess who he’d fit in with at this point.

Russell Westbrook gets amazingly fast triple-double

Jim Tucker was popping champagne Saturday night, and not just because it was New Year’s Eve. The 1950s NBAer cult-famous for owning the title of “fastest man to record a triple-double in an NBA game” can rest easy after Oklahoma City’s 114-88 demolition of the L.A. Clippers.

Russell Westbrook forced him to wait nearly until 2017, though.

Westbrook finished with 17 points, 12 rebounds and 14 assists in the win. And more impressively, the rebound he pulled down with under a minute to go in the second quarter gave him a triple-double for the game. He had played only 18 minutes, 42 seconds at that point, about a minute off Tucker’s record for the quickest triple-double ever.

“He really played an incredible floor game,” coach Billy Donovan said. “And I thought he did an incredible job, not even necessarily having to rely on his scoring, but he did a great job in terms of setting everybody else up.”

Tucker went for 12 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists on Feb. 20, 1955.

Norman Transcript

Quick Take: Westbrook is having one of the best seasons in modern basketball history. He’s a basketball wrecking crew, and a must-watch player every night. And one of the top stories of the season.

Giannis

Antetokounmpo and Towns might be different players. But both represent where the NBA big man is going.

Antetokounmpo plays the point-forward position for the Bucks while Towns is more of a traditional big man in terms of his play in the post. But both can stretch the floor, score off the dribble and find their teammates. Towns had his first triple-double in Denver. Antetokounmpo has two triple doubles this season.

“I’m playing catch-up,’’ joked Towns.

Said Thibodeau: “I think you’re seeing that’s the way of the league, versatility. It’s hard to, or harder to, put a particular player in a particular box.’’

Now, the point-forward isn’t exactly new. Thibodeau threw out old-school names like Paul Pressey, the former Bucks player, as an example, and Oscar Robertson.

– Minneapolis Star Tribune

Quick Take: Giannis this season is averaging 23.4 ppg, 9.0 rpg, 5.9 apg, 2.0 spg and 1.8 bpg. Towns is putting up 22.0 ppg, 11.3 rpg, 2.8 apg, 0.6 spg and 1.4 bpg. Both are worth watching every night.

George Hill the second-leading scorer on Jazz

George Hill’s individual impact on the Jazz is obvious.

On a team that struggles to handle the ball, Hill’s low turnover rate is badly needed. On a team that craves perimeter scoring, the guard is dropping 20 points a night. And on a team that hasn’t defended opposing point guards very well, Hill is one of the NBA’s best in that category.

But for all of the things Hill brings the Jazz — he returned from a sprained toe in Thursday night’s win over the Philadelphia 76ers — the biggest boon Utah receives from his presence is arguably his ripple effect.

Things simply look easier for the Jazz this season when he is on the floor. The defense is whole. The offense looks more crisp, more lethal. And that’s something the Jazz have sorely needed. Yes, they treaded water for the last 13 games, and have even gained a bit of ground. But when Hill plays, the Jazz tend to overwhelm their opposition in spurts. And that’s exactly what happened during the fourth quarter of Thursday night’s win over Philadelphia.

– Salt Lake Tribune

Quick Take:  The Jazz are 20-13 this season and are tied with the Thunder for the 5th best record in the Western conference. Hill is the team’s second leading scorer, behind Gordon Hayward (22.3 ppg), though he’s averaging just 4.3 apg. Overall, they are a very solid squad with definite potential to keep rising.

Patrick Patterson feeling pain in knee

Patrick Patterson feeling pain in knee

The Raptors-Suns game was an abomination and there isn’t much to say about it. Best to forget it happened and move on to 2017.

But first, there’s the Patrick Patterson situation.

The player the Raptors could least afford to lose for any length of time is team MVP Kyle Lowry. After that, one could argue that Patterson would be the guy over DeMar DeRozan, since Norm Powell, Terrence Ross and Cory Joseph would be able to play more minutes and hold the fort. They’d still miss DeRozan quite a bit, but at least capable reinforcements would be around.

Patterson, of course, felt “sharp pain” in his knee during Thursday’s loss at Phoenix. That doesn’t mean panic should set in – he walked to the locker room under his own power – but with no updates likely coming until the weekend, we have to examine what his absence could mean to a squad aiming to top the Eastern Conference.

– Toronto Sun

Quick Take: This comment is more about the Raptors in general than the Patrick Patterson knee issue mentioned above, but: Toronto haven’t received enough praise for their season. They’re  22-10, which is the second best record in the East, and look like the biggest threat in the conference to keep the Cavs out of the 2017 Finals.

nba blog

Bucks guard Matthew Dellavedova injured his right hamstring in the team’s victory over the Detroit Pistons Wednesday and will miss the next two games, coach Jason Kidd said after the team’s shootaround Friday at the Target Center.

Kidd said rookie Malcolm Brogdon will start Friday against the Timberwolves, marking his first NBA start after coming off the bench in the Bucks’ first 30 games.

“I don’t think it’s a big deal,” Brogdon said of being in the starting lineup. “When someone goes down, the next man has to step up. Delly can’t be replaced (with) what he brings to the team, his unselfishness.

– Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Hawks giving away a 2 Chainz mixtape

The Atlanta Hawks and hip-hop artist 2 Chainz have announced plans to enhance the rapper’s December 30 appearance, revealing two new commemorative retail pieces and a 2 Chainz mixtape specially created for the night.

The first 5,000 guests to enter Philips Arena when the Hawks host the Detroit Pistons will receive a free copy of the exclusive music compilation.

“2 Chainz always makes a splash when he performs at our games, and this season he wants to provide Hawks fans an experience they won’t soon forget as we close 2016 with a bang,” said Hawks CEO Steve Koonin. “The energy and atmosphere will make Philips Arena the only place to be in Atlanta on Friday night.”

To mark the occasion, Chainz and his “CEO Millionaires” clothing line collaborated with the Hawks to create a team-themed hooded sweatshirt, and also developed a t-shirt featuring mascot Harry the Hawk performing the popular “Hit Dem Folks” dance.

Prior to tipoff on Friday, Chainz will continue his month-long campaign to give back to the community when the final round of his fourth annual “T.R.U. 2 Hoops Holiday Basketball Classic” takes place on the Philips Arena floor. The tournament is a two-on-two competition for boys ages 10-13, with no participation fee for students in the Clayton County school system. Preliminary action took place at Chainz’s alma mater, North Clayton High School.

Doors open at 6:30 p.m. for the 8 p.m. contest against the Pistons.

NBA player notes, Dec. 29, 2016

isaiah thomas

Isaiah Thomas, Celtics: Thomas has scored at least 20 points in each of his last 16 games, the longest streak in the NBA this season. Thomas and Boston look for their seventh win in eight games when they visit Cleveland tonight at 8 p.m. on TNT.

Dirk Nowitzki, Mavericks: Nowitzki enters tonight’s game against the Lakers (10:30 p.m. ET, TNT) with 853 regular-season wins, tied with Derek Fisher for sixth place on the NBA’s all-time list. Nowitzki leads all active players, followed by San Antonio’s Tony Parker (803).

DeMar DeRozan, Raptors: With 29 points against Golden State on Wednesday, DeRozan (10,290) passed Chris Bosh (10,275) to become Toronto’s all-time leading scorer.

Malcolm Brogdon, Bucks: In his last four games, the rookie guard has made 18-of-23 shots from the field (78.3 percent) and averaged 10.5 points and 5.8 assists in 27.0 minutes.

New Orleans Pelicans: Winners of three in a row and four of five, the Pelicans are 13-13 since an 0-8 start.

nicolas batum

Nicolas Batum, Hornets: He has scored at least 20 points in four straight games, averaging 21.8 points, 8.3 assists and 7.5 rebounds during this stretch. Charlotte has won four of five.

Alex Abrines, Thunder: The rookie guard from Spain has scored in double figures in three of his last four games, making 13-of-26 from three-point range (50.0 percent) in the four appearances.

Brook Lopez, Nets: The 7-foot center and nine-year veteran ranks 37th in the NBA in three-pointers made with 56. He entered the season with three triples made for his career – a total he exceeded against Chicago on Wednesday when he hit five in a 33-point night.

LaMarcus Aldridge, Spurs: Aldridge has totaled 60 points and converted 25-of-32 from the field (78.1 percent) in his last two games, both wins for San Antonio (26-6), which has matched its 32-game record from last season.

Tobias Harris, Pistons: After starting his first 31 games, Harris has come off the bench in Detroit’s last three games, averaging 23.3 points on 55.8 shooting.

– Via NBA News

Catch up with recent Wizards success

The Wizards opened the season 2-8 under new coach Scott Brooks, but they have been one of the NBA’s hottest teams over the last six weeks.

Washington is 13-8 since Nov. 17, including eight victories in their last 11 games and a current seven-game winning streak at home. The Wizards (15-16) have closed within one game of .500 for the first time since losing their season opener.

The team’s turnaround has featured outstanding play from John Wall, who is averaging a career-high 23.7 points, ranks third in the NBA in assists (9.9 apg) and leads the league in steals (2.24 spg). The three-time All-Star finished with 36 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists in Wednesday’s 111-105 win over the Pacers, becoming the first player in Wizards franchise history to reach all of those statistical minimums in a game.

With Wall and Bradley Beal (21.8 ppg, 3.6 apg) leading the way, the Wizards are rolling on offense. Washington has shot 47.9 percent from the field in its last 21 games – the highest mark in the East and the third-best figure in the NBA during that stretch.

Fourth-year forward Otto Porter has figured prominently in the team’s improved marksmanship. The 23-year-old is shooting 58.9 percent from the field in December, including 49.2 percent from three-point range. Porter is averaging 24.0 points on 70.3 percent shooting from the field over his last three games.

Center Marcin Gortat has joined Porter in supplying steady production in the frontcourt. The 32-year-old from Poland is averaging 11.2 points and ranks in the NBA’s top eight in rebounding (career-high 11.7 rpg) and field goal percentage (career-high 57.1).

– Via NBA News

Bulls waive RJ Hunter

The Chicago Bulls requested waivers on guard R.J. Hunter today.

During his time with the Bulls, Hunter (6-5, 185) appeared in three games and grabbed one rebound in nine total minutes. He signed with the Bulls on Oct. 27, 2016.

The Bulls roster now stands at 14.

Bench steps up for Thunder vs Heat

Bench steps up for Thunder vs Heat

Russell Westbrook isn’t the only man playing for the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Thunder won at the Miami Heat on Friday. And even though Westbrook was sitting with another triple-double, his league-leading 15th of the season, by the third quarter, the Thunder didn’t necessarily ache for every one of his numbers. And that’s a concept which was foreign to OKC basketball fans a week ago.

The Thunder got off to a 22-point lead by the second quarter Tuesday and maintained a double-digit advantage for the rest of the game, cruising to a 106-94 victory over the injury-laden, 10-22 Heat. And even as Westbrook finished his magnificent 29-point, 17-rebound, 11-assist night, even if the Thunder were plus-12 with him on the floor, his sovereignty wasn’t the story. For another evening, the stability came from a part of the team which has been criticized for much of the season: The bench.

“It’s great to see those guys continue to get better,” coach Billy Donovan said. “They’re developing a chemistry and a bond. They’re making each other better.”

– Norman Transcript

Quick Take: No matter how great one player is, basketball is a team game. Nobody can do it alone. And really, the same can be said for life itself. But, also basketball.

Mavericks waive Jonathan Gibson, sign Pierre Jackson

The Dallas Mavericks announced yesterday (Tuesday) that they have signed free agent guard Pierre Jackson.

In a related move, the Mavericks also requested waivers on guard Jonathan Gibson.

Jackson (5-11, 176) has appeared in 10 games (all starts) for the Mavericks’ D-League affiliate, the Texas Legends, this season. He averaged 29.1 points, 4.5 rebounds, 6.0 assists, 1.9 steals and 35.7 minutes per game in those 10 contests.

A native of Las Vegas, Jackson is no stranger to Texas after transferring from College of Southern Idaho to play the final two years of his collegiate career at Baylor University in Waco. While at Baylor, Jackson averaged 16.7 points, 6.5 assists and 3.3 rebounds in 74 games while earning Second Team All-Big 12 twice and Associated Press Honorable Mention All-America in 2012.

Jackson was drafted in the second round (No. 42 overall) by the Philadelphia 76ers in the 2013 NBA Draft and had his draft rights, along with Jrue Holiday, traded to the New Orleans Pelicans in exchange for Nerlens Noel. Jackson spent the 2013-14 campaign with ASVEL Basket in France. He returned from overseas to compete with the Pelicans Summer League squad in the summer of 2014, but suffered a ruptured right Achilles that cost him the season. Jackson played with the 76ers Summer League team in 2015, but was later waived after appearing in three preseason games for Philadelphia.

Jackson holds career D-League averages of 25.9 points, 3.6 rebounds, 5.6 assists, 1.7 steals and 36.9 minutes in 49 games (37 starts) with the Idaho Stampede and Texas Legends. On Feb. 4, 2014, he set the D-League single-game scoring record with 58 points against the Legends (Jordan McRae later broke it with a 61-point game in January 2016 and Russ Smith topped that with 65-point night in March 2016). Jackson was named to the Futures All-Star roster for the 2014 NBA D-League All-Star Game.

Jackson will wear No. 55 for the Mavericks.

Spurs waive Nico Laprovittola

Spurs waive Nico Laprovittola

The San Antonio Spurs yesterday (Tuesday) announced that the team has waived guard Nico Laprovittola.

Laprovittola, who was in his first season with the Spurs, was signed as a free agent on Sept. 26, 2016. He saw action in 18 games for the Silver and Black, averaging 3.3 points and 1.6 assists in 9.7 minutes.

The Spurs roster now stands at 14.

Pistons beat Cavs as LeBron James sits

Pistons beat Cavs as LeBron James sits

A five-game losing streak that tormented the Pistons in recent weeks, prompting tension inside the locker room and a shuffling of the starting lineup, has finally ended.

The Pistons jumped out to an early lead Monday then held serve rest of the way, using a late-third quarter rally that stretched into the fourth to take down the defending NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers, 106-90, at the Palace.

Cleveland was playing without LeBron James, instead opting to give the 12-time All-Star the night off after playing 40 minutes the night prior.

“We were very hungry,” Pistons point guard Reggie Jackson said. “We dropped I don’t know how many in a row. We dropped the last two that were very tough, against Memphis and Golden State, and I thought we played well but didn’t come out with a win.

“We knew they played yesterday, so we got a jump on them early.”

– Michigan Live

Gerald Henderson struggling with hip pain

Gerald Henderson struggling with hip pain

Gerald Henderson’s left-hip pain was too intolerable for him remain on the court.

The Philadelphia 76ers shooting guard was laboring on the Golden 1 Center with 8 minutes, 58 seconds remaining in Monday night’s 102-100 setback to the Sacramento Kings. Henderson spoke with Sixers coach Brett Brown, who basically came on the court to call a timeout as a way to get his veteran leader out of the game.

– Philadelphia Inquirer

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