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March 26, 2017 · Leave a Comment
John Wall tallied 37 points as the Washington Wizards defeated LeBron James’ Cleveland Cavaliers 127-115, tightening the race atop the Eastern Conference standings on Saturday night.
The Wizards now trail the Boston Celtics by two games and the defending NBA champion Cavaliers by 2 1/2 for first place. Also, Cleveland’s lead over Boston is now just a half-game.
Wall delivered 18 of his 37 points in the first quarter shooting eight-of-eight from the field.
“You don’t want to go into the playoffs knowing you have to face those guys and you never won against them in the regular season,” Wall said. “To come here and win in a tough place, it’s definitely a boost.”
Bradley Beal added 27 points for the Wizards, who are now 19-7 when all five starters score in double figures.
Superstar James shook off the eye injury suffered Friday night to score 24 points, grab 11 rebounds, and hand out eight assists.
“I haven’t been in too much light the last 24 hours, I mean all day since I got home last night and today I stayed away from it because it was bothering me a little bit too much,” said James, who suffered a corneal abrasion to his right eye.
“But I kind of warmed up to it, so that’s a good sign.”
James started Saturday’s contest wearing plastic goggles but took them off with about three minutes left in the first quarter.
James needed seven assists to pass Maurice Cheeks (7,392) for 12th place in NBA history, which he reached with his first assist in the fourth quarter.
Elsewhere, Jamal Crawford came off the bench to score a game-high 28 points and power the Los Angeles Clippers over Utah 108-95.
The Clippers improved to 44-30, moving within one-half game of the Jazz (44-29) for fourth place in the Western Conference and clinching a playoff berth for the sixth season in a row.
The teams would be first-round playoff foes if they keep their spots with the superior record conveying a home-court edge in the series.
French centre Rudy Gobert scored 26 points and grabbed 14 rebounds for the Jazz, who lost to the Clippers for the third time in four meetings so far this season and the 18th time in the team’s past 20 meetings.
Gobert also stretched his streak of games with at least one blocked shot to 41.
Blake Griffin had 15 points, Chris Paul added 14 and DeAndre Jordan grabbed 15 rebounds for the Clippers. Joe Johnson came off the bench to score 17 for the Jazz.
- Selfish players hurt Jazz -
After the game Gobert blasted some of his teammates for putting more importance on padding their scoring stats than trying to win games. He did not mention any names.
“We’ve got guys that compete, but some of us don’t compete. Some of us just think about scoring,” Gobert said of Utah’s fourth loss in its past five games. “That’s what it is.
“I think everybody needs to think about making plays for the team, making winning plays, before thinking about how many points we’re going to score and stuff like that.”
“There’s going to be some games where you don’t score. But are you going to take a charge for a teammate?”
In Dallas, the visiting Toronto Raptors clinched a playoff spot with a 94-86 victory over the Dallas Mavericks at American Airlines Center arena.
Toronto won their 44th game of the season and their fifth in a row as they head home to begin an important string of four games at Air Canada Centre.
DeMar DeRozan, coming off consecutive 40-point games, and forward Serge Ibaka each scored 18 points to lead the Raptors. DeRozan was eight of 17 from the floor with six assists.
March 23, 2017 · Leave a Comment
NBA scoring leader Russell Westbrook unleashed his 35th triple double of the season Wednesday, powering the Oklahoma City Thunder over visiting Philadelphia 122-97 and moving closer to league history.
Westbrook scored 18 points, grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds and passed out a game-high 14 assists to spark the Thunder, who were led in scoring by 24 points from Turkish reserve center Enes Kanter, who hit 8-of-9 from the floor and free throw line.
Westbrook needs six more triple doubles in the final 11 games for the Thunder (41-30) to match the all-time one-season record of 41 triple doubles set by Oscar Robertson in the 1961-62 campaign.
That was the season Robertson became the only player in NBA history to average a triple double for the entire season, a feat Westbrook is on pace to match.
Westbrook leads the NBA with 31.4 points a game and averages 10.5 rebounds and 10.3 assists a game as well. he ranks third in the league in assists this season and 10th in rebounds.
Oklahoma City opens a three-game road trip Sunday at Houston that also includes stops at Dallas and Orlando. In all, seven of the last 11 for the Thunder are away from home.
Bouncing back after scoring only 15 points Monday against Golden State, Westbrook went 6-of-6 from the floor and free throw line. He didn’t attempt a 3-pointer for the first time since March 14, 2016 — a span of 83 games.
Westbrook weighed in on the growing issue of stars being benched by coaches for games when healthy so they can rest, saying he prefers to play, having missed only one game for rest his entire NBA career.
“I like to play basketball so I like to go out and compete and have fun,” Westbrook said. “I look at it differently from being hurt and missing a lot of games, I embrace everything moment I have to play basketball and enjoy the time I can play.”
The losing 76ers confirmed that center Joel Embiid would have surgery on his left knee to repair a torn meniscus. He had already been ruled out for the remainder of the season. The Cameroon standout averaged 20.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.5 blocked shots a game this season but has not played since January 27.
Kyrie Irving scored 33 points, Deron Williams added 19 and LeBron James had 18 for the Cavaliers (46-24), whose lead over Boston in the Eastern Conference shrank to only one game.
Isaiah Thomas scored 25 points and Avery Bradley added 18 points as the Boston Celtics (46-26) cruised over visiting Indiana 109-100. Paul George led the Pacers (36-35) with 37 points.
Charlotte reserve forward Frank Kaminsky scored 13 of his 18 points in the decisive fourth quarter to power the Hornets over host Orlando 109-102. At 32-29, the Hornets, led by 22 points from Kemba Walker, improved their slim playoff hopes while beating the Magic for the fourth time this season.
Led by Nikola Mirotic’s 28 points, the Chicago Bulls boosted their playoff chances with a 117-95 home rout of Detroit. Without suspended center Robin Lopez and injured big man Cristiano Felicio, the Bulls matched Detroit at 34-38 for ninth in the Eastern Conference, 1 1/2 games behind Miami for the final playoff spot.
Washington’s Bradley Beal scored 28 points and teammate John Wall added all 22 of his points in the second half to power the Wizards over Atlanta 104-100.
March 21, 2017 · Leave a Comment
Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry outgunned Russell Westbrook as the Golden State Warriors scored an emphatic 111-95 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday.
Thompson poured on 34 points while Curry finished with 23 on a below-par night for Westbrook, who was restricted to 15 points, eight rebounds and eight assists.
Thompson made 12 of 21 from the field and sunk seven of 15 attempts from three-point range, reviving memories of his heroics in last season’s playoffs when he blitzed the Thunder with a stream of three-pointers.
“I don’t think it’s anything particular,” Thompson said when asked about his habit of delivering against Oklahoma City.
“I’ve been playing well the last few games. Got a lot of great looks today. It’s as simple as knocking them down.”
Curry meanwhile drained seven three-pointers as the Warriors improved to 56-14.
Victor Oladipo led the scoring for Oklahoma City with 17 points. Enes Kanter made 11 points from the bench while Taj Gibson added 10 as the Thunder fell to 40-30.
Curry had his radar finely tuned from the get-go, shrugging off the attentions of man-marker Westbrook to score 11 points in the first quarter.
Westbrook meanwhile struggled to find his range, making only one from six from the field.
“Just one of those nights, Westbrook said. “Shots didn’t fall. They made shots as well. A few mishaps defensively. But we’ll be all right.”
The Thunder star was unable to find a way past some vigilant Warriors defense, with the visitors comfortable soaking up pressure before countering effectively.
The frustration got the better of Westbrook late in the second quarter, when he engaged in a shoving match with Curry that led to a prolonged melee.
The scuffle ended with technical fouls against Westbrook, Curry, Draymond Green and Oklahoma City’s Semaj Christon.
“Ain’t nothing going through my mind but to protect my teammates,” Westbrook said when asked about the scrap. “That’s what was going through my mind.”
When play resumed, the Warriors won the tap and found Curry, who unfurled a trademark long-range effort to make it 59-39 at the half.
Westbrook and Oladipo inspired a 13-5 Oklahoma run at the start of the second half to give the Thunder hope.
But Curry and Thompson responded with a slew of three-pointers to halt the Thunder’s momentum.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr was satisfied by the way his team responded after Westbrook’s rally early in the second half.
“We knew it was coming,” Kerr said.
“We’re on their home floor. Russell did not have a great first half. We knew he would come out attacking. He attacked the rim a couple of times. We just weathered the storm,” added Kerr, singling out JaVale McGee for praise.
“(He) came in and had a huge impact. Getting his hands on a lot of rebounds, deflections. He just got his hand on the ball and created extra deflections for us. Obviously, we had Steph and Klay going from 3-point land,” he said.
March 17, 2017 · Leave a Comment
Russell Westbrook delivered his 34th triple double of the season as the Oklahoma City Thunder won their fourth straight with a 123-102 victory over the Toronto Raptors on Thursday.
Westbrook also had 16 assists and 10 rebounds for the Thunder who led by as many as 32 after grabbing a 30-point advantage early in the final quarter.
“I thought we did a good job defensively, just playing 48 minutes on both sides of the ball,” Westbrook said.
“They are an aggressive team and they like to trap and stuff, so my job was able to use that to my advantage and take on two people and make sure the other guys get open.”
Victor Oladipo added 23 points as the Thunder improved to 39-29 on the season.
The Raptors dropped to 29-29 and have lost four of their past seven games.
The Thunder had a 10-point cushion at the half and stretched that to 27 at the end of the third.
“(Westbrook) was a one-man wrecking crew,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said.
“He caused a lot of chain reactions. It starts with him. We had multiple breakdowns in terms of getting him under control because he is a great player.”
Enes Kanter contributed 14 points off the bench for Oklahoma City. Andre Roberson had 13 points, and Steven Adams and Taj Gibson each scored 10.
DeMar DeRozan led Toronto with 22 points. Norman Powell added 13 points off the bench and Cory Joseph had 11 points. Serge Ibaka and Delon Wright each scored 10 points.
The Thunder led 58-48 at the intermission. Westbrook had 12 points, 11 assists and six rebounds in the first half.
DeRozan led Toronto with 14 first-half points.
March 15, 2017 · Leave a Comment
Russell Westbrook edged closer to Oscar Robertson’s long-standing triple-double record after leading the Oklahoma City Thunder to a comfortable 122-104 win over the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday.
Westbrook brought up his remarkable 33rd triple-double of the season with 25 points, 19 assists and 12 rebounds as the Thunder improved to 38-29.
The Oklahoma City talisman is now just eight shy of Robertson’s record season tally of 41 triple-doubles.
The Barclays Center crowd enjoyed a love-hate relationship with Westbrook on the night, subjecting him both to boos and chants of “MVP” in recognition of his stellar season.
The crowd united in a standing ovation however when he grabbed a defensive rebound with 4:40 left in the fourth quarter to complete his latest triple.
Westbrook later admitted he had been taken aback by the reception of the crowd after sealing his triple.
“They were loud. I thought something happened,” Westbrook said. “I was wondering why they were screaming so loud. I thought they were giving something out in the crowd or something.”
Thunder coach Billy Donovan paid tribute to Westbrook’s “incredible poise.”
“I thought he generated shots for everybody,” Donovan said. “He made the game easy for everybody. He rebounded the ball, he scored when he needed to. He’s always surveying the game. … He put his fingerprints all over the game in so many ways different ways in my opinion.”
It was a third consecutive victory for Oklahoma City, who also saw guard Victor Oladipo finish with 21 points and center Enes Kanter add 17 off the bench.
The win was also Oklahoma City’s first on the road since a defeat of New Orleans in late January – a fact that pleased Westbrook.
“As a team, if you want to win a championship, you have to win on the road, regardless of who you play, where you play, the situation, the weather, whatever it is you have to win on the road,” Westbrook said.
“I made it very clear this morning that it was a key for us.”
Brook Lopez top-scored for the Nets with 25 points, with guard Jeremy Lin adding 24 points and Randy Foy 13.
March 14, 2017 · Leave a Comment
James Harden exploded for 38 points as the Houston Rockets jolted LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers with a 117-112 victory on Sunday.
Harden led the scoring and completed his 16th triple-double of the season with 10 rebounds and 11 assists as the Rockets improved to 46-21 to strengthen their grip on third spot in the Western Conference standings.
Harden was one of six Houston players to make double figures, with Ryan Anderson the next top scorer with 16 points while Patrick Beverley and Eric Gordon both weighed in with 13 apiece.
Cleveland, who fell to 43-22, were reliant of James and Kyrie Irving to provide the bulk of their points.
James led the Cavs scoring with 30 points while Irving weighed with 28. Only one other Cleveland player — Richard Jefferson with 16 — made double figures at Houston’s Toyota Center.
With the exception of James and Irving, a weary Cavs line-up looked to be suffering after-effects from Saturday’s road game in Orlando, where no fewer than seven players had posted double figures.
Harden’s virtuoso display ultimately tipped a back-and-forth battle Houston’s way.
The 27-year-old point guard’s 11-point third quarter was crucial as Houston wiped out a nine-point halftime deficit to haul the Rockets back into the contest.
A high-quality game saw both teams exchange a series of long-range field goals in the opening period.
Cleveland looked to have taken a grip on the game with a red-hot shooting spree which saw them drain six consecutive three-pointers.
Jefferson was responsible for three of those efforts as Cleveland went 57-45 ahead early in the third period.
But Harden led Houston back into the game and the Rockets’ superior depth of scoring ultimately told in the fourth quarter.
March 6, 2017 · Leave a Comment
Stephen Curry moved into 10th place on the all-time three-point list as the Golden State Warriors rebounded from back-to-back defeats with a 112-105 NBA win over the struggling New York Knicks on Sunday.
The Warriors had dropped two straight games since losing Kevin Durant to injury and one factor was a lack of production from Curry.
But the reigning two-time NBA Most Valuable Player found his scoring touch on Sunday.
The 28-year-old point guard tallied 31 points, hitting five three-pointers at Madison Square Garden to move ahead of Chauncey Billups for 10th place overall.
“We haven’t been playing our best. It was showing as we lost two in a row,” said Curry. “Just the way we were playing wasn’t great so we wanted to get back to who we are.”
Curry and Klay Thompson did just that. They combined for 60 points which marked the 42nd time in their careers they have both scored at least 25 or more points in a game and the seventh time this season.
Derrick Rose scored 28 points and Kristaps Porzingis contributed 24 points and 15 rebounds for the Knicks, who fell to 25-38 on the season.
“For most of the game we were there. We came out ready to play,” said Knicks star Carmelo Anthony. “They hit a couple of threes which opened it up. Two threes from Steph was a big thing. Once they got (the lead) up to seven or eight we just tried to fight from that time.”
The Warriors improved to 51-11 and avoided a three-game losing streak.
A pair of free throws from Thompson extended the Warriors’ lead to 96-83 with 9:04 to play, but the Knicks put together a 13-1 run shortly after to make it 97-96 with just under six minutes remaining.
An 8-2 surge helped seal the victory for the Warriors giving them a 110-101 lead with 69 seconds remaining.
“Some ups and downs tonight but at the end of the game we were moving the ball, finding the open guy and finished the game strong,” Curry said.
The Warriors are in the midst of one of their longest road trips of the season with all five games coming against Eastern Conference opponents.
Golden State travels to Atlanta on Monday and Boston on Wednesday to conclude the swing.
March 5, 2017 · Leave a Comment
The Detroit Pistons shook off a disappointing NBA defeat in emphatic style Saturday, pummelling the Philadelphia 76ers 136-106.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 26 points and Marcus Morris added 22 for the Pistons, who notched a season-high points total three days after falling 109-86 to the Pelicans at New Orleans.
“I thought we had good energy throughout,” Detroit coach Stan Van Gundy said after his team shot a season-high 56.8 percent from the floor. “We had a lot of respect for them. That’s all we talked about for two days, how hard Philadelphia plays and the energy they bring to the game and (how) we would need to match that.”
Reggie Jackson contributed 21 points and Tobias Harris chipped in 20 off the bench for the Pistons. Andre Drummond collected 14 points, 14 rebounds, four steals and three blocked shots.
Van Gundy said he’d considered bringing Jackson off the bench and starting backup Ish Smith at point guard, but decided to remain with Jackson as the starter and play him in six-minute segments. Jackson shot 9 of 14 from the floor, and Smith contributed 11 points and 13 assists.
“The energy in that first unit has not been very good,” Van Gundy said. “It’s certainly not all on (Jackson) but they sort of follow the point guard, so let’s get the pace up a little bit and attack. He was better with that tonight.”
Jackson said the new rotation proved helpful.
“It’s only one game, one sample size,” he said. “We’ll see how it goes the next couple of games. Whatever the man says, we’re going to compete.”
The Pistons, currently occupying the Eastern Conference’s eighth and final playoff spot, seized control when they out-scored the 76ers 19-4 in the final 4:19 of the first half.
The 76ers, who coughed up 20 turnovers, trailed by as many as 33 in the second half.
Nik Stauskas scored a career-high 24 points and Dario Saric added 19 points and a career-high eight assists for Philadelphia, but the short-handed Sixers, who had just nine players available, couldn’t match the Pistons’ firepower.
Jahlil Okafor did not play because of a sore right knee and Gerald Henderson missed his second straight game with hip trouble. Tiago Splitter remains out with a strained right calf.
“It’s just embarrassing to get beat like that, especially on our home floor,” Stauskas said, adding it was especially disappointing since the 76ers beat the Pistons in Detroit in December.
“I thought we had a really good win against them, and we just didn’t bring the energy and effort today.”
March 3, 2017 · Leave a Comment
Golden State, adjusting to life without injured Kevin Durant, fell to the Chicago Bulls, just the second time in nearly two years the Warriors have suffered back-to-back NBA regular-season defeats.
Jimmy Butler scored 22 points to lead four Bulls players in double-figures in the 94-87 triumph.
The Warriors’ points total was their season low, and they lost a second straight regular-season contest for the first time since April of 2015.
The Warriors had fallen 112-108 to the Washington Wizards on Tuesday, when Durant limped out of the game in the first quarter with what was later diagnosed as a left knee ligament sprain and bone bruise.
The former NBA Most Valuable Player will be sidelined indefinitely, although the Warriors, who have already secured a playoff berth, have not ruled out a return before the end of the regular season.
“Obviously, you feel for him and want him to get healthy as fast as possible but not rush it because we have a long journey ahead of us going into the playoffs,” two-time NBA MVP Stephen Curry said. “Next man up mentality, but obviously it will be tough to replace a guy like KD.”
Curry led the Warriors with 23 points, but he and “Splash Brother” teammate Klay Thompson combined to make just three of 22 three-point attempts.
Overall, the Warriors were six-for-30 from three-point range in the defeat. Thompson added 13 points and Draymond Green contributed a dozen in the defeat.
The Warriors had led 51-47 at halftime, and erased a five-point deficit with 9:09 to play thanks to three baskets from Curry and a driving layup from David West that gave Golden State an 85-84 lead with 5:43 to go.
But Golden State couldn’t maintain the momentum.
“A couple of shots we normally make did not fall,” said Curry, who was 10 of 27 from the field. “That’s not the reason we lost.”
Warriors coach Steve Kerr said his team didn’t play with enough urgency to make up for their cold shooting.
“You are not always going to shoot well,” Kerr said. “When that happens, the ball is gold. You have to value each possession. Our intensity and focus was not there.”
Veteran Dwyane Wade scored 12 points for Chicago, putting the Bulls up 88-85 with 2:16 remaining.
Bulls reserve Paul Zipser closed out a 7-0 scoring run with three-pointer that stretched Chicago’s lead to six points with 1:41 to play.
With the Warriors struggling from the floor, Chicago closed out the victory with a series of free-throws.
The Bulls won for the fifth time in six games improving to 31-30 — sixth in the Eastern Conference.
“Our defense hasn’t been good of late,” Wade said. “I thought today, our attention to detail was phenomenal. They missed some shots — even some of them open. But that’s part of the game.”
The Warriors slipped to 50-11 — still the best record in the league.
Elsewhere, Damian Lillard scored 33 points as the Portland Trail Blazers used a 16-0 surge late in the game to defeat the Oklahoma City Thunder 114-109 at Moda Center.
Lillard led a half dozen Blazers in double figures as the Portland improved to 25-35 on the season and won for only the third time in 10 games. Jusuf Nurkic tallied 18 points, 12 rebounds and six assists for the Blazers.
Russell Westbrook scored 45 points for Oklahoma City but made only 12 of 36 shots from the field. He added eight rebounds and four assists.
Enes Kanter came off the bench for 18 points and 10 rebounds for the Thunder, who saw their four-game winning streak end.
Westbrook scored 28 first-half points, and Oklahoma City closed on a 12-0 run in the final 1:17 to take a 60-57 lead at halftime.
March 1, 2017 · Leave a Comment
Kevin Durant suffered an injury scare as the Golden State Warriors slumped to a 112-108 defeat against the Washington Wizards on Tuesday.
Warriors star Durant limped out of the game in the first quarter at Washington’s Verizon Center after team-mate Zaza Pachulia fell awkwardly onto his left leg.
The Warriors later confirmed Durant had suffered a hyperextended left knee and that an MRI scan had been scheduled. There was no further information about the Warriors’ All-Star’s long-term condition.
“We’ll know a little more tomorrow. I’m always concerned about any injury because you never know how bad it’s going to be. We’ll just keep our fingers crossed,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said.
It was an unhappy homecoming of sorts for Durant, who grew up in the nearby Maryland suburbs and who had been courted by the Wizards during his free agency last year before choosing to join the Warriors.
That snub clearly still rankles with some Washington fans, who subjected Durant to boos during the introduction and whenever he touched the ball.
The Wizards took full advantage of Durant’s absence to claim a narrow victory that saw them improve to 35-23 in the Eastern Conference Standings.
Bradley Beal led the scoring for the Wizards with 25 points, three assists and four rebounds.
Markieff Morris added 22 points, six rebounds and one assist. Guard John Wall also shone, with 12 points, 19 assists and six rebounds.
But the Wizards were left sweating after they saw the Warriors overhaul a 19-point deficit before the hosts finally clinched victory in the final minute.
Warriors coach Kerr said he was proud the way his team had responded after being forced to reorganise following the early departure of Durant.
“It was a great response. It was a hell of a basketball game,” Kerr said. “The fans got their money’s worth.
“I liked how we came back after we were thrown for a loop early on. We had to change all of our rotations. I thought after we took that first blow we got back into the game — we just couldn’t close it out.”
NBA MVP Stephen Curry led the scoring for the Warriors with 25 points, seven rebounds and four assists.
Klay Thompson (16), Draymond Green (14), Shaun Livingston (14) and Pachulia with 12 also made double-figures for the Western Conference leaders, who have already booked their place in the playoffs.
February 24, 2017 · Leave a Comment
LeBron James recorded his sixth triple-double of the season on Thursday as the Cleveland Cavaliers maintained their mastery over the New York Knicks with a 119-104 NBA triumph.
James scored 18 points, pulled down 13 rebounds and handed out 15 assists for the 48th regular-season triple-double of his career.
Kyrie Irving led Cleveland with 23 points, while Kyle Korver added 20 off the bench to help the Cavs get off to a solid start in the wake of the All-Star break.
New York’s Courtney Lee led all scorers with 25 points. Carmelo Anthony added 20 and Derrick Rose scored 13 as both Knicks stars, the subject of persistent trade rumors, were still on board as the Thursday afternoon trade deadline passed.
The reigning champion Cavaliers won their fourth straight and are 8-1 this month. It was their 10th straight win over the Knicks, who have lost six of their last seven.
Making the defeat more painful, Knicks big man Kristaps Porzingis hurt his ankle and didn’t return for the second half. He finished with eight points in 16 minutes before the injury, which was diagnosed as a sprain.
Tristan Thompson posted his fourth straight double-double for Cleveland with 10 points and 14 rebounds.
Irving saw two personal scoring streaks end. As he sat out the entire fourth quarter, he fell two points shy of scoring at least 25 points for a sixth straight game.
He also saw his string of 29 made free throws snapped when he missed his first attempt from the line at 3:25 of the second quarter.
February 22, 2017 · Leave a Comment
Earvin “Magic” Johnson, who sparked the Los Angeles Lakers to five NBA titles in the 1980s, was on Tuesday named president of basketball operations for the struggling NBA squad.
Lakers president and part-owner Jeanie Buss also announced the firing of general manager Mitch Kupchak and vice president of basketball operations Jim Buss, Jeanie’s brother and son of former owner Jerry Buss, who died in 2013.
“Today I took a series of actions I believe will return the Lakers to the heights Dr. Jerry Buss demanded and our fans rightly expect,” Jeanie Buss said. “Effective immediately, Earvin Johnson will be in charge of all basketball operations and will report directly to me.
“Our search for a new general manager to work with Earvin and coach Luke Walton is well underway and we hope to announce a new general manager in short order. Together, Earvin, Luke and our new general manager will establish the foundation for the next generation of Los Angeles Lakers greatness.”
Hall of Famer Johnson, 57, was part of the fabled “Showtime” lineup alongside Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the NBA all-time scoring leader. “Magic” was part of Lakers championship squads in 1980, 1982, 1985, 1987 and 1988 before retiring in 1991 after being diagnosed with the HIV virus.
The Lakers returned to greatness behind superstar guard Kobe Bryant with five NBA crowns from 2000-2010 but have fallen on hard times since.
“It’s a dream come true to return to the Lakers as president of basketball operations,” Johnson said. “Since 1979, I’ve been a part of the Laker Nation and I’m passionate about this organization.”
At 19-39 this season, the Lakers have the third-worst record in the NBA, ahead only of conference doormats Brooklyn and Phoenix.
“I will do everything I can to build a winning culture on and off the court,” Johnson said. “We have a great coach in Luke Walton and good young players. We will work tirelessly to return our Los Angeles Lakers to NBA champions.”
Jeanie Buss said she acted so the organization would unite behind one vision and plan for improvement going forward.
“I took these actions today to achieve one goal. Everyone associated with the Lakers will now be pulling in the same direction, the direction established by Earvin and myself,” she said. “We are determined to get back to competing to win NBA championships again.”
Kupchak, 62, had been controling general manager of the Lakers since 2000. He won NBA crowns with the Lakers playing alongside Johnson in 1982 and 1985 as well as with Washington in 1978.
Jeanie Buss said that she and her brother shared the same desire in seeing the team prosper once more.
“Jim loves the Lakers. Although he will no longer be responsible for basketball personnel decisions, he is an owner of this team and we share the same goal: returning the Lakers to the level of greatness our father demanded,” she said.
February 21, 2017 · Leave a Comment
LeBron James resumes his bid for a seventh consecutive NBA Finals appearance Thursday while the Golden State Warriors plan their third consecutive finals trip and Russell Westbrook takes aim at history.
And with the NBA trade deadline Thursday along with the resumption of play following the mid-season NBA All-Star Game break, the championship chase swings into high gear.
Only six players have reached the finals more consecutive years than James, who led the Cleveland Cavaliers over the Warriors last year in the greatest comeback in NBA Finals history after the Cavs lost to Golden State in 2015.
James, who also guided Miami to two NBA crowns in four finals appearances, says being the player others measure themselves against feeds the hunger for more success.
“It’s motivating. It’s great. To know that everyone is trying to build their team or wanting to get their team to try to get to where you are and try to knock you off, it’s a motivating factor,” James said.
“It’s also a humbling factor that to know that I’ve been in this position for so long. I want to continue to work my habits, train my body, train my mind, and work on my game every day to put me in a position to be successful.”
The Cavaliers are 39-16, three games ahead of Boston atop the Eastern Conference with Washington five back.
James is playing nearly 38 minutes a night and starters J.R. Smith and Kevin Love are sidelined by injuries, but James has faith the team can keep improving even without trade deadline moves.
“As the leader of the team, I’m fine with what we have, and we’ll continue to push forward,” James said.
“I’m comfortable with whatever coach wants me to do out on the floor. Whatever he gives me to do, I can figure it out.
“We haven’t been healthy pretty much all season, but I feel like if I’m in the lineup and I’m healthy, I’m feeling good, then we’re going to have a chance.”
“Win a championship. That’s it. That’s why we play, to realize that dream,” two-time NBAMost Valuable Player Stephen Curry said. “We know, having won before, exactly what it takes. Having been on the losing side, we know how thin the line is between winning and losing. That’s what it’s all about.”
Curry has had to share a scoring spotlight with fellow 3-point sharpshooter Klay Thompson and forward Durant, but after early struggles the combination has come together in devastating fashion.
“Whether we shoot a lot of jumpers or find other ways to score, everybody is just focused on winning. It doesn’t matter how you characterize it,” Curry said.
Durant has adapted to his new teammates and the results have been impressive and at times overpowering.
“It has been fun,” Durant said. “It has been a great season. We’re winning games. Chemistry is good. City is nice. Coaches are cool. It’s pretty simple.”
And Golden State’s defense, sparked by forward Draymond Green, has found top form despite losing key players in order to find salary cap money to sign Durant.
“I wouldn’t necessarily say anything really surprised me other than how fast this team has really come together,” Green said. “We just play within the flow of the game and let everything figure itself out.”
When it comes to winning a title, Golden State is mindful that Cleveland might be the last obstacle once again.
“I know who’s at the top of their game and who you potentially have to go through to win a championship,” Curry said. “We’ve had two good battles against Cleveland the last two years. Who knows how this year will play out. It’s a different year.
“(LeBron) is playing well. There are guys in the Western Conference that are playing well that we know we’re going to have to beat to get back the finals. The way I approach it, worry about our team and getting back to the finals and whoever we play, we will be ready for them.”
“Finish the All-Star break right and come back and do good things,” Westbrook said of his plans for the final 25 games of the campaign.
February 18, 2017 · Leave a Comment
With a host of scoring threats, the Washington Wizards have become one of the NBA’s hottest teams, showing their scoring depth in a 111-98 rout of struggling Indiana.
Otto Porter Jr on Thursday had 25 points and eight rebounds, Markieff Morris added 21 points and seven rebounds, all-star John Wall contributed 20 points and 12 assists while Bradley Beal had 19 points as the Wizards led all the way.
“We have a lot of threats and it’s hard to key on any one guy,” Beal said. “We are enjoying this. Winning like this is fun.
“We are playing with a lot of energy and we don’t care who is scoring or anything like that. We enjoy playing for each other.”
The Wizards improved to 34-21, shooting 51.8 percent from the floor in inflicting the Pacers’ sixth loss in a row.
“We have been looking real good for the last few months,” Wizards coach Scott Brooks said. “I think we are in a good spot, but I think the thing I love about this group is that they are not satisfied.
“We know we have a lot of work ahead of us. A tough part of our schedule is coming up. We are going to go into it with the right focus and challenge.
“We’re not going to win all of them, but we have to stick together when we don’t,” he said. “Our guys have done that.”
The Wizards — who currently force the most opponent turnovers per game, averaging 15.6 — rank third in the Eastern Conference after their ninth victory in 10 games.
“We are looking at the big picture,” Morris said. “We still have a lot of season to go.”
“We have to make sure guys are working out over the All-Star break. We just have to stay ready.”
Myles Turner and Paul George each had 17 points to lead the Pacers — now 29-28 and sixth in the East — one game ahead of the Chicago Bulls, who edged visiting Boston 104-103 in Thursday’s only other game.
The Bulls made all 22 of their free throw attempts, with Jimmy Butler sinking a pair with .9 of a second remaining to lift Chicago (28-29) to victory.
Bulls scoring leader Butler, 9-for-9 from the free throw line on the night, drew a foul on Marcus Smart off a jump shot on the Bulls’ final possession.
Boston’s Al Horford missed a fadeaway jumper as time expired.
Butler scored 29 points and had seven assists for the Bulls.
The Celtics, 37-20 and second overall in the East, were led by Isaiah Thomas with 29 points, including the Celtics’ final 11 points.
Thomas scored 20 or more points for the 41st consecutive game, breaking a franchise record previously held by Hall of Famer John Havlicek.
February 16, 2017 · Leave a Comment
LeBron James scored 31 points, Kyrie Irving added 26 and Kyle Korver had 22 to spark defending NBA champion Cleveland over the visiting Indiana Pacers 113-104.
In their final game before Sunday’s 66th NBA All-Star Game, the Cavaliers won their third game in a row and seventh in eight starts to stand 39-16 and atop the Eastern Conference. At 7-1 in February, the Cavs matched their win total from a 7-8 January.
“We’ve played some good ball,” James said. “Obviously we know January wasn’t such a good month for us, but overall, for the season, we’re in a good place.”
Korver came off the bench to become only the seventh NBA player with 2,000 career 3-point baskets. He made 6-of-8 3-point shots, netting 13 points in the fourth quarter.
“It means something to me for sure,” Korver said. “I’ve always taken a lot of pride in shooting and studying it and thinking about it and trying to be better, and obviously I’m working on it every day.”
Klay Thompson scored 35 points and Kevin Durant added 21 as the Golden State improved the NBA’s best record to 47-9 by routing visiting Sacramento 109-86.
San Antonio, with the second-best record in the NBA behind Golden State, never trailed in routing host Orlando 107-79 behind 23 points from LaMarcus Aldridge and 22 by Kawhi Leonard.
Boston’s Isaiah Thomas scored 33 points, matching John Havlicek’s 45-year-old Celtics record with a 40th consecutive 20-point game, to spark the hosts to their fourth win in a row, a 116-108 victory over Philadelphia.
Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook scored 38 points, grabbed 14 rebounds and passed out 12 assists to power the host Thunder over New York 116-105. Carmelo Anthony led the Knicks with 30 points while Derrick Rose added 25 for New York.
Detroit never trailed in a 98-91 victory over visiting Dallas, with Reggie Jackson scoring 22 points and Jon Leuer adding 20 points and eight rebounds. German star Dirk Nowitzki had 24 points and 10 rebounds to pace the Mavericks, who lost both games against the Pistons in a season for the first time since the 1997-98 campaign.
Miami’s Hassan Whiteside had 23 points, 14 rebounds and five blocked shots in powering the Heat over host Houston 117-109. Miami never trailed as Dion Waiters added 23 points, nine rebounds and seven assists. James Harden led the Rockets with 38 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists.
Greek star Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 33 points and the Milwaukee Bucks held off a late rally to defeat host Brooklyn 129-125, inflicting the Nets’ 14th loss in a row and stretch their home losing skid to 16 games.
Kyle Lowry scored 21 points and sparked a Toronto rally from 17 points down to defeat visiting Charlotte 90-85. Lowry’s 3-point play late in the fourth quarter gave the Raptors the lead for good.
New Orleans forward Solomon Hill scored a season-high 23 points to power the Pelicans past host Memphis 95-91. Vince Carter closed the Grizzlies within 92-91 on a 3-pointer in the final minute, but Anthony Davis sank a jumper and Langston Galloway made a free throw to seal the victory.
Phoenix’s Eric Bledsoe had his third career triple double with 25 points, 10 rebounds and 13 assists as the host Suns took their most lopsided win of the season by routing the Los Angeles Lakers 137-101. It was Phoenix’s most lopsided victory over the Lakers in 240 all-time meetings, surpassing a 135-100 win in 1973.
Minnesota’s Andrew Wiggins scored 40 points, cracking the mark for the fourth time this season in a 112-99 Timberwolves’ victory at Denver. Karl-Anthony Towns had 24 points and a season-high 19 rebounds for the winners.
Utah’s Gordon Hayward scored 22 points, passed off seven assists and grabbed six rebounds to lift the Jazz over visiting Portland 111-88, while Blake Griffin scored 17 points to lead the Los Angeles Clippers over visiting Atlanta 99-84.
February 14, 2017 · Leave a Comment
Markieff Morris scored 23 points as the Washington Wizards took advantage of an off night by Russell Westbrook to crush the Oklahoma City Thunder 120-98 on Monday.
John Wall had 15 points and 14 assists and Bradley Beal scored 22 points as all five starters scored in double figures for the Wizards, who led by as many as 34 points.
The Wizards also made 13 of 21 three-point attempts and shot 57 percent from the field overall.
Washington has won three straight, 10 of 11 overall and 19 of 20 at home and are an Eastern Conference-best 17-5 since New Years Day.
Westbrook scored 17 points for the Thunder, but the NBA Most Valuable Player candidate was a long way from his triple-double form.
It has been quite a week for Westbrook. Less than 48 hours after an emotional matchup against former his teammate, Golden State Warriors star Kevin Durant, he finished with four rebounds and four assists while shooting five of 19 from the field.
The road matchup against the Washington Wizards pitted all-star point guards Westbrook and Wall against each other.
It didn’t garner the same amount of attention that came from Durant’s first game in Oklahoma City since spurning the Thunder for the Western Conference champion Warriors.
But the same outcome means two losses in a row for the Thunder who fell to 31-25, shooting just 35.4 percent overall on Monday.
February 13, 2017 · Leave a Comment
The New York Knicks’s latest tough week ended on a high note on Sunday as Carmelo Anthony and company shocked the San Antonio Spurs 94-90 at Madison Square Garden.
A victory over the second-best team in the NBA was a welcome change of fortune for the Knicks, who are languishing well out of playoff contention in the Eastern Conference amid tensions between Anthony and club president Phil Jackson.
A feud between owner James Dolan and popular ex-Knick Charles Oakley also boiled over in ugly fashion on Wednesday.
Anthony said he was doing his best to ignore the noise.
“I’m out here playing basketball, trying to enjoy the game of basketball,” he said. “Whatever happens outside the basketball court does not concern me.”
Instead, Anthony said, he and his teammates were focused on delivering the kind of consistent performance they’ve had trouble sustaining through four quarters this season.
Anthony scored 25 points and pulled down seven rebounds, Derrick Rose added 18 and Kristaps Porzingis contributed 16 with seven rebounds and four blocked shots to help the Knicks end a four-game skid.
New York came up big defensively, too, holding the Spurs to a season-low 36.3 percent shooting in the upset.
Kawhi Leonard paced the Spurs with 36 points and LaMarcus Aldridge added 15, but veteran point guard Tony Parker missed all three of his field goal attempts and finished with zero points and four assists in 31 minutes on the floor.
A jump shot from Leonard cut New York’s lead to 88-86 with 1:43 to play, but Anthony responded with two straight baskets that rebuilt the Knicks’s lead to 92-86 with 33 seconds remaining and the Spurs wouldn’t get the deficit below four points the rest of the way.
Days after Dolan banned Oakley from Madison Square Garden — where the fan favorite was arrested on Wednesday for resisting security personnel who tried to toss him from the arena — support for Oakley was evident among fans, including filmmaker Spike Lee who sat courtside in an Oakley jersey.
Dolan sat Sunday next to Latrell Sprewell, another ex-Knick with whom he’s feuded.
Sprewell called the Oakley incident “disappointing” in a courtside TV interview, saying it was time to “iron out” the situation “and get past it.”
Caldwell-Pope made a 16-foot jumper and followed it with a three-pointer with 13.2 seconds left to give the Pistons a one-point lead.
Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan missed a fadeaway jumpshot as time expired.
The Raptors, fourth in the Eastern Conference, lost for the 10th time in 14 games.
Andrew Wiggins scored 27 points and Karl-Anthony Towns contributed 22 as the Minnesota Timberwolves rolled past the injury-depleted Chicago Bulls 117-89 in Minneapolis.
The Bulls were without starters Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade as well as backups Nikola Mirotic and Paul Zipser.
The Timberwolves, who had lost five of their previous six games, took full advantage to give coach Tom Thibodeau a sweep of the season series against his former team.
In Sacramento, DeMarcus Cousins scored 28 points, grabbed 14 rebounds and handed out 17 assists in the Kings’s 105-99 win over the New Orleans Pelicans.
Cousins was also whistled for his 17th technical foul of the season, for an elbow thrown in the first quarter that appeared to be inadvertent. Cousins, who has already served a one-game ban for amassing 16 technicals, will be suspended another game for an 18th tech.
Pelicans rookie Buddy Hield was ejected for the first time in his NBA career after he was assessed a flagrant foul for hitting Cousins in the groin in the second quarter.
February 12, 2017 · Leave a Comment
Draymond Green produced an unprecedented triple-double of 12 rebounds, 10 assists and 10 steals Friday as the Golden State Warriors mauled the Grizzlies 122-107 in Memphis.
Green put up just four points, becoming the first player in NBA history to post a triple-double without hitting double digits in points.
“It’s pretty amazing to be the only one of something in NBA history, something good,” Green said.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr called it “as dominant a performance as I’ve seen from somebody who scored four points.”
And the Warriors didn’t need more from him offensively, with teammate Klay Thompson scoring 36, Kevin Durant adding 24 and Stephen Curry contributing 18 as Golden State turned the tables on the only team to beat them twice this season.
The Grizzlies, who beat the Warriors 110-89 in Memphis in December and rallied from 24 down for a 128-119 overtime win in Oakland in January, were never ahead in this one and never looked like they would get there.
Thompson opened the contest by hitting three three-pointers. Golden State led 62-49 by halftime and by as many as 26 points in the fourth quarter as they improved their league-leading record to 45-8.
“We didn’t want to lose to this team three times in a row,” Thompson said.
Curry added: “We have a certain sense of pride on this team.”
It was a wire-to-wire win too for the San Antonio Spurs, who rolled to a 103-92 victory over the Pistons in Detroit.
Kawhi Leonard scored 32 points, pulled down six rebounds and handed out five assists and LaMarcus Aldridge contributed 19 points and 11 rebounds for the Spurs, who also got a big night from Dewayne Dedmon, who continued to shine starting in place of injured big man Pau Gasol.
Dedmon had a season-high 17 points and career-high 17 rebounds, helping keep Detroit center Andre Drummond in check.
“He hit the boards hard, he ran the floor, his energy, his aggressiveness, his defense — he was fantastic in that regard,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said of Dedmon.
- Streaking Heat -
The Miami Heat stretched their winning streak to 13 games — the longest in the league this season — with a 108-99 comeback victory over the Brooklyn Nets.
James Johnson came off the bench to score 26 points. Goran Dragic added 21 for the Heat, who erased an 11-point third-quarter deficit.
The Washington Wizards got back to winning on their home floor with a 112-107 victory over the Indiana Pacers.
The Wizards saw their home win streak halted at 17 games in a dramatic overtime defeat to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday.
But they were back on top in front of home fans in a clash of two of the league’s hottest teams.
John Wall scored 26 points and handed out 14 assists. Markieff Morris added 26 points and 10 rebounds and Bradley Beal chipped in 20 points for the Wizards.
Since falling to the NBA champion Cavs the Wizards had gone on the road to beat the Nets in Brooklyn.
But Beal said they were especially focused on winning again at home.
“We just wanted to come back home and make sure we got off to an even better start,” he said. “Get our streak back on.”
The Wizards beat the Pacers for the second time in three games this season. The defeat dropped Indiana three games behind third-seeded Washington in the Eastern Conference standings, with the teams due to meet again on Thursday.
New Orleans star Anthony Davis posted his sixth 40-point game of the season to lead the Pelicans to a 122-106 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves in Minneapolis.
Davis’s 42 points were key as the Pelicans rallied from a 15-point first-half deficit. He connected on 16 of 22 shots from the field, including two of three from three-point range.
February 10, 2017 · Leave a Comment
The relentless Russell Westbrook produced his 26th triple-double of the season to lead the Oklahoma City Thunder to a 118-109 triumph over the NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers.
Westbrook poured in 29 points with 11 assists and 12 rebounds. Victor Oladipo added 23 points and seven rebounds and center Steven Adams of New Zealand added 21 points and 13 rebounds for Oklahoma City, who improved to 31-23.
Kyrie Irving led the Cavs with 28 points. LeBron James chipped in 18 to go with seven assists but was held scoreless in the fourth quarter.
Irving’s layup tied it at 99-99 with less than six minutes remaining, but two Westbrook baskets put Oklahoma City up 103-99 with 4:59 to play.
Irving answered with a driving layup, but after a Westbrook jump shot, Thunder reserve Jerami Grant blocked a shot at the other end. Westbrook sank another jumper to stretch Oklahoma City’s lead to 107-101 with 3:42 remaining.
James missed a fadeaway jumper before Westbrook fed Adams for an easy basket. After another block, Westbrook had the ball again, dishing to Oladipo for a layup that gave Westbrook his 10th assist and clinched his triple-double.
Westbrook matched the third-highest total for triple-doubles in a season. Oscar Robertson collected 26 in 1960-61 and 1963-64.
Only Robertson, with 41 in 1961-62, and Wilt Chamberlain, with 31 in 1967-68, have posted more in a campaign.
“Russ is a heck of a player,” James said. “What he’s doing is unbelievable, averaging a triple-double this year. He proved tonight why he is an MVP candidate.”
The Cavs suffered just their second defeat in their last eight games.
After coach Tyronn Lue said James, Irving and Kevin Love might all sit out to rest, all three stars played, with Lue saying all told him they were feeling “pretty good.”
Lue said he didn’t regret the decision to play the trio.
“It was a tough game for us. Four games in six nights, it was just good to fight through and not give in,” he said.
After knocking off the reigning champions and Eastern Conference leaders, the Thunder next host the Western Conference leaders Golden State.
That game on Saturday will be Kevin Durant’s first return to Oklahoma City since he forsook the Thunder for the Warriors as a free agent.
“It’s going to be a fun game,” Westbrook said. “It’s an exciting game that a lot of people have been waiting for. I’m looking forward to it.”
In Dallas, the Mavericks rallied from a 21-point third-quarter deficit to stun the Utah Jazz 112-105 in overtime.
Dirk Nowitzki’s jump shot with three seconds remaining sent the game into the extra session. Harrison Barnes scored eight of his 31 points in overtime as the Mavs withstood 36 points from Utah’s Gordon Hayward and snapped the Jazz’s four-game winning streak.
Boston guard Isaiah Thomas scored 15 of his 34 points in the fourth quarter as the Celtics erased a 17-point deficit to beat the Trail Blazers 120-111 in Portland.
Seven Celtics scored in double figures as the team won for the eighth time in nine games.
In Charlotte, James Harden scored 30 points, pulled down 11 rebounds and handed out eight assists to lead the Houston Rockets to a 107-95 victory over the reeling Hornets.
The Rockets trailed by four at halftime. But they out-scored the Hornets 36-22 in the third and led by double digits for much of the final quarter.
Harden, who finished just two assists shy of his 15th triple-double of the season, connected on eight of 21 attempts from the field to help the injury depleted Rockets notch a third-straight victory.
They made 13 three-pointers, including seven in their third-quarter surge, and harried the Hornets into 22 turnovers.
“The defense was better tonight, a lot better,” Harden said. “The communication, the awareness, just everything as a whole we were really good tonight.”
February 9, 2017 · Leave a Comment
The reigning NBA champion Cavs beat the Indiana Pacers 132-117 in Indianapolis with a key contribution from Korver, who arrived in Cleveland last month from the Atlanta Hawks, where he had played since 2012.
Korver scored 29 points — his most in a game since February 21, 2007 — connecting on eight of his nine three-pont attempts and pulling down five rebounds.
Korver needed five three-pointers to pass Jason Kidd (1,988 three-pointers ) for seventh on the NBA’s all-time list, which he reached in the third quarter.
His 29 points matched teammate Kyrie Irving’s for most scored in the game.
Cleveland star LeBron James added 25 points for the Cavaliers, who won their fourth straight and snapped the Pacers’ seven-game winning streak.
Kevin Love contributed 14 points and 10 rebounds for Cleveland.
Down by six at halftime, Cleveland broke open the game by out-scoring Indiana 40-18 in the third quarter.
The Cavaliers drained 13 of their 20 attempts and all 10 of their free throws in the third period.
The Pacers closed the deficit to 114-107 with 4:23 to play, but would get no closer.
Korver hit two three-pointers as Cleveland rebuilt the lead.