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Antetokounmpo leads Bucks past Spurs in Bledsoe s debut

SAN ANTONIO -- Giannis Antetokounmpo had 28 points and 12 rebounds, and Milwaukee snapped a four-game skid with a 94-87 victory over San Antonio on Friday night in Eric Bledsoe's debut with the Bucks. Bledsoe started in his first game with Milwaukee three days after being acquired in a trade with Phoenix. Bledsoe made his first attempt, a runner from 13 feet, and he finished with 13 points and seven assists on 6-for-15 shooting. The Bucks won for the first time in November and snapped the Spurs' three-game winning streak. Antetokounmpo and San Antonio forward LaMarcus Aldridge played to an early stalemate in a battle of the teams' star big men. Aldridge muscled his way to the basket and scored 20 points on 8-for-14 shooting. Antetokounmpo elevated to the rim for a series of layups and dunks in shooting 12-for-24. The Bucks' length and quickness, especially Antetokounmpo's, created havoc for the Spurs. San Antonio had 18 turnovers, two short of its season worst. Five San Antonio turnovers came in the third as Milwaukee rolled to a 30-23 advantage in the period behind Antetokounmpo. The league's leading scorer had 10 points, five rebounds and three blocked shots in the third. Manu Ginobili's hanging, left-handed bank shot led to a three-point play that pulled San Antonio within 89-87 with 2:26 remaining, but Milwaukee extended the lead on jumpers by Bledsoe and Khris Middleton. Middleton finished with 13 points. Ginobili had a season-high 18. TIP-INS Bucks: Despite having scored 20 points in three straight games, Malcolm Brogdon came off the bench for the first time this season after starting nine games. Brogdon finished with nine points and seven rebounds. ... Middleton averaged 26.3 points, 8.3 assists and 6.3 rebounds in his previous three games. ... Mirza Teletovic missed his first game, sitting out after experiencing soreness in his left knee. Spurs: San Antonio continued to play without Kawhi Leonard (right quadriceps tendinopathy), Tony Parker (left quadriceps tendon surgery) and Joffrey Lauvergne (sprained right ankle). The three have missed a combined 33 games, with Parker and Leonard having yet to play this season ... Aldridge has 16 blocks this season. ... Danny Green and Pau Gasol were pulled from the game a minute into the third quarter for Ginobili and Rudy Gay. ... Brandon Paul had his 10th steal, which is tied for fifth on the team with Aldridge and Kyle Anderson. UP NEXT Bucks: Host the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday night in their third back-to-back of the season. Spurs: Host Chicago on Saturday night in the finale of a six-game homestand......»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnNov 11th, 2017

Antetokounmpo leads streaking Bucks past Grizzlies 111-101

By Clay Bailey, Associated Press MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Giannis Antetokounmpo had 27 points and 11 rebounds as the Milwaukee Bucks used a third-quarter outburst to capture their third straight win, 111-101 over the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time). Eric Bledsoe added 16 points and D.J. Wilson scored 13 for the Bucks, who won for the 14th time in 17 games. Omri Casspi led the Grizzlies with 17 points. Marc Gasol, Mike Conley and JaMychal Green scored 14 points apiece for Memphis, which lost its ninth in the last 10. The Grizzlies took their only lead of the game at 59-58 early in the second half on a three-pointer by Gasol. The Bucks made sure any Memphis excitement was short-lived. Milwaukee ran off 19 straight points to extend its lead to 18. By that point, the Grizzlies returned to uninspired play as the Bucks outscored Memphis 41-28 in the quarter. Memphis committed eight turnovers in the third, leading to 20 points. The Bucks took an early lead thanks to anemic shooting by Memphis. The Grizzlies starters seemed lackadaisical and not up to the task of challenging one of the better teams in the NBA as Milwaukee stretched its lead to as many as 14 points. The Memphis reserves brought more energy and steadily chipped away at the Bucks advantage. Casspi and Green led the rally. But the Bucks used 15 points from Antetokounmpo to hold on for a 50-45 lead at the break. The third-quarter rally led to Milwaukee building the advantage to as many as 31 points in the fourth. TIP-INS Bucks: Milwaukee leads the series 23-22. . The Bucks lead the league in scoring differential at 10 points per game and have 23 double-digit victories this season. . Antetokounmpo recorded his 30th double-double of the season. . Memphis defeated the Bucks 116-113 on Nov. 14 (Nov. 15, PHL time). Milwaukee is now 5-0 facing teams that it lost to in its previous meeting. Grizzlies: Memphis played its only home game in a five-game stretch. .F/G Justin Holiday, obtained from the Chicago Bulls in a Jan. 4 (Jan. 5, PHL time) trade, started his first game for Memphis. . Memphis missed 10 of its first 11 shots in the game, part of the Grizzlies shooting 26 percent in the opening quarter. . The Bucks' 41 points in the third quarter was the most given up by Memphis in any period this season. UP NEXT Bucks: At Orlando to face the Magic on Saturday (Sunday, PHL time). Grizzlies: Face the Celtics in Boston on Friday (Saturday, PHL time)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 17th, 2019

Antetokounmpo scores 25, Bucks top Hornets 113-112

By Steve Reed, Associated Press CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Giannis Antetokounmpo had 25 points, 18 rebounds and eight assists, and the Milwaukee Bucks spoiled the Charlotte Hornets' celebration of 30 years of basketball with a 113-112 victory in the season opener for both teams Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time). Antetokounmpo made two free throws with 23.7 seconds remaining to put the Bucks ahead after the Hornets battled back from a 20-point deficit behind 41 points from Kemba Walker. Walker missed a driving layup with 3.4 seconds left and the loose ball got kicked outside where Nic Batum misfired on a three-pointer from the left wing at the buzzer. Khris Middleton had 19 points and Eric Bledsoe added 17 as the Bucks set out on the quest to reach the playoffs for the fourth time in five seasons. Brook Lopez 14 points in his debut for the Bucks after signing a one-year contract in the offseason. Walker, a two-time All-Star, was terrific in the loss, hitting 15 of 29 shots including seven three-pointers — three of those in the fourth quarter — to rally the Hornets. Malik Monk had 18 points and Tony Parker had eight points and seven assists in his first game with the Hornets after 17 seasons with the Spurs. New Bucks coach Budenholzer stressed spacing and perimeter shooting to open up more 1-on-1 opportunities for the 6'11" Antetokounmpo to drive the lane. It certainly opened up some three-point chances as the Bucks used that spacing to knock down 11-of-22 three-point attempts in the first half to build a 67-54 halftime lead. The Hornets trailed by as many as 18 in the second half, but battled back to tie the game at 101-101 with 6:22 after coach James Borrego went small ball with a lineup of Walker, Parker, Monk, Batum and former small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist at center. TIP-INS Bucks: Started the game on fire, hitting their first five shots to take a 14-5 lead. Hornets: Charlotte wore its throwback white jerseys with pinstripes and they celebrated its inaugural team back in 1988-89. Several members of the original team were introduced before the game, including Muggsy Bogues, Dell Curry, Rex Chapman and Kelly Tripucka. ... Walker set a franchise record for the most points in a season opener. UP NEXT Bucks: Host Indiana on Friday night (Saturday, PHL time). Hornets: At Orlando on Friday night (Saturday, PHL time)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 18th, 2018

MVP Ladder: No topping Harden in award chase

By Sekou Smith, NBA.com Stump speeches aren’t necessary. Not when your campaign drives itself on performance alone, when you elevate the conversation with each and every outing, the way James Harden did from the opening tip of this regular season until the final buzzer. So if it seems like Harden has skillfully avoided getting caught up in this reporter-crafted Kia MVP pickles that often drive the rest of our NBA dialogue on a daily basis, it’s by design. Besides, who needs to dive in on the debate when you have unsolicited celebrity endorsements from the likes of Kobe Bryant, who made clear to USA Today Sports that Harden’s time is now. “It’s got to be James,” Bryant said. “I really don’t understand the debate about picking somebody else. I don’t get it. Like, what the hell does this guy have to do? I mean for the last three years, the guy has been absolutely lights out, and now you still want to sit here and debate who should be MVP when he leads the league in scoring (30.4 points per game), his assists numbers (8.8 apg) are off the charts, they have the best record in the league (65-16). “If he doesn’t win MVP this year, what the hell is he supposed to do to win MVP, average 40 [points], 15 [assists] and 15 [rebounds]? I mean, come on now. Enough is enough.” After coming up short twice in the past three seasons, Harden is poised to capture the Maurice Podoloff Trophy. It is something he felt he earned last season, when his former Oklahoma City Thunder teammate, Russell Westbrook, used a triple-double season to claim the hardware. Stephen Curry won the award in 2015 and 2016, his star rising in concert with the Golden State Warriors' surge from lottery team, to contender to championship-winner in two of the last three seasons. While Curry claimed those awards, Harden won MVP honors in a vote of his peers at the NBPA’s first Players Awards in July 2015. There will be no dispute this time around. There is no other narrative that trumps Harden’s.   No other player's performance rises above what he’s done for the Rockets this season, the first with he and fellow superstar point guard  Chris Paul sharing the leadership load of the league’s best team. Not even four-time Kia MVP LeBron James, who turned in one of the finest seasons of his 15 year career in Cleveland, could catch Harden on the Kia Race to the MVP Ladder or in the minds of most voters. Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni coached Bryant, Carmelo Anthony and two-time Kia MVP Steve Nash. Yet it was Harden who received D'Anton's greatest compliment after a win in Portland last month when called Harden the “best offensive player I’ve ever seen.” “He’s a hell of a player, first off,” D’Antoni told USA Today Sports when asked to explain his declaration. “It’s a combination of everything. There are other players who might be better at this, or a little bit better at that. But when you put everything together, and the way he passes, the way he sees teammates, the way he can lob, the way he can fight through a foul. I mean even on an off night, he’s probably getting 30, 40 points, and I mean efficiently. And he doesn’t even have anything going. But he’s so efficient, and he gets other guys involved.” If the strength of Harden’s MVP case this season was just his own individual offensive brilliance, he’d still have a rock-solid case. He did record the first 60-point triple-double in NBA history this season and won the scoring title a season after leading the league in assists. But, as D’Antoni noted, Harden's ability to raise the level of play from teammates like Clint Capela, Eric Gordon, Trevor Ariza and others is what stands out. “I don't think there's a player that's had to create as much as I've had to in these last three years," Harden said in a GQ profile that came out this week. "I don't know if there's a guy in NBA history.” That comment can be interpreted in a number of ways, and it’s sure to spark yet another debate as the conversation continues deep into this postseason about who is most deserving of Kia MVP honors. But we’re done here. “It’s James Harden, no doubt about it,” a Western Conference executive told me when asked if there was any dispute about this season’s most valuable player. “Harden in a landslide.” * * * The top five in the Final Edition of the 2017-18 Kia Race to the MVP Ladder: 1. James Harden, Houston Rockets Last week: No. 1 2017-18 season stats: 30.4 points, 8.8 assists, 5.4 rebounds Harden declared early on that this was the Rockets’ season. He felt they finally had the pieces to challenge the Golden State Warriors for the top spot in the Western Conference standings, and, therefore, the entire league. He served notice on opening night, when he and the Rockets spoiled the Warriors' championship banner and rings celebration at Oracle Arena by claiming a win. Harden’s 27 points, 11 assists and six rebounds was the opening salvo in what turned into the best season in Rockets history. Harden’s ability to blend his point guard responsibilities with his role as the most lethal scorer in the league fueled one brilliant performance after another. As well, Harden also silenced the critics who suggested he and Paul would not be able to play well off of each other. The Rockets enter the postseason with the No. 1 overall seed and with all the confidence needed for a championship run. 2. LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers Last week: No. 2 2017-18 season stats: 27.5 points, 9.1 assists, 8.6 rebounds LeBron put the final touches on his outstanding 15th NBA regular season by capturing Eastern Conference Player of the Month honors for March/April, the fourth time this season he took those honors (October/November, December and February). In addition to the parade of milestones LeBron reached this season, he also piled up a career-high 18 triple-doubles, led the Cavaliers through a tumultuous year that ended with 50 or more wins for the fourth straight season. He shot better than 54 percent from the floor (.542) and also had his best shooting from beyond the 3-point line (.367) since returning to Cleveland from Miami before the 2014-15 season. The true test of his super powers, though, will be on display in this postseason. The Cavaliers finished as the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference but go into the playoffs as the favorite, in the eyes of most, to survive the gauntlet due in large part to LeBron’s work the past seven seasons guiding his teams to The Finals. 3. Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans Last week: No. 3 2017-18 season stats: 28.1 points, 11.1 rebounds, 2.3 blocks Davis turned it on when the Pelicans needed it most, after DeMarcus Cousins went down with a season-ending Achilles injury. He powered the Pelicans with 50 double-doubles, one triple-double and, when the Pelicans needed grind their way into the postseason as 2017-18 waned, he picked his game up even more. He averaged 29 points, 11.2 rebounds, 3.8 blocks, 2.4 assists and 2.2 blocks during the Pelicans’ season-ending five-game win streak that helped them secure the No. 6 seed. That sealed up Davis' second career playoff run and he’s still looking for his first playoff win. His ability to carry the load for the Pelicans the way he did, though, is easily the most impressive part of his season. There was no guarantee the Pelicans would make the playoffs in a rugged Western Conference even with Cousins healthy. To do it without him speaks volumes about the impact Davis had on his team. 4. Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers Last week: No. 4 2017-18 season stats: 26.9 points, 6.6 assists, 4.5 rebounds Lillard has done what few thought possible after the Portland team he joined as a rookie was taken apart and rebuilt around him. The catalyst for a Blazers team that finished third in the West, Lillard forced his way onto that short list of names in the best-point-guard-in-the-game discussion. He lacks the championship and/or Kia MVP hardware guys like Curry, Kyrie Irving and Westbrook all have. But his body of work as the face of Portland's franchise makes it difficult to leave him out of the discussion. The Blazers wouldn't have come anywhere close to that No. 3 seed without Lillard going nuclear in February (31.4 points, six assists and nearly five rebounds in 10 games). This has been a transformative year on and off the court for Lillard, who is not only had a career-best season, but also celebrated the birth of his son late last month. 5. Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors Last week: No. 5 2017-18 season stats: 26.4 points, 6.8 rebounds, 5.4 assists Durant followed up his 2017 Finals MVP honors with a steady season, by his lofty standard, but not one that pushed him closer to the top of this list. His understanding of the way the regular season connects to the postseason no doubt played a role in the way he paced himself. That’s not to say that Durant didn't have an outstanding regular season, because he did. But just like James and to an extent his All-Star teammate, Curry, Durant’s seasons are now measured against the high standard he’s set in past ones. He actually averaged more points and assists this season compared to his first with the Warriors. And he set a career-high with 1.8 blocks per game, showing off his improved awareness and effectiveness on defense. With Curry out for the first round of the playoffs due to injury, Durant will get a chance to remind the San Antonio Spurs and the rest of the league just how dangerous he can be with everything on the line. The next five 6. Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder 7. DeMar DeRozan, Toronto Raptors 8. Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors 9. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks 10. Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers And five more: LaMarcus Aldridge, San Antonio Spurs; Kyrie Irving, Boston Celtics; Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets; Victor Oladipo, Indiana Pacers; Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves Sekou Smith is a veteran NBA reporter and NBA TV analyst. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 14th, 2018

Embiid, 76ers power past Bucks 116-94 and into 6th in East

MIKE CRANSTON, Associated Press PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Joel Embiid had 29 points and nine rebounds and the Philadelphia 76ers pulled away from the undermanned Milwaukee Bucks 116-94 on Saturday night for their seventh win in eight games. Ben Simmons added 16 points and nine assists, and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot added 16 points in a rare start as the Sixers (22-20) moved past Milwaukee (23-22) for sixth place in the Eastern Conference. Khris Middleton had 23 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists for the Bucks in their second straight loss. They were without top scorer Giannis Antetokounmpo, who was sitting out the first of two games to rest a sore right knee. Fellow starter Malcolm Brogdon (family matter) also wasn't available. Tony Snell (15 points) and Sterling Brown (14 points) moved into the lineup, and the Bucks rallied from 16 points down to tie it before fading in the fourth quarter. Antetokounmpo practiced Friday, but the Bucks announced Saturday morning that the two-time All-Star would be out until Friday against Brooklyn to "manage" his ailment. Knee pain also kept Antetokounmpo sidelined on Nov. 22 and Dec. 23. "Hopefully, after missing these two games, he doesn't have to miss any more," Bucks coach Jason Kidd said. Philadelphia was without its top two shooting guards. JJ Redick (cracked bone below his knee) is out at least a week and Jerryd Bayless (sore left wrist) didn't dress. Luwawu-Cabarrot, a French guard in his second NBA season, stepped into the starting lineup and made 3 of 5 3-pointers. His 3 capped a 13-0 run early in the fourth as Philadelphia built a 97-82 lead. The Sixers showed good depth early. Nine players scored in the first quarter, and they built a 53-37 lead before halftime. After committing just three first-half turnovers, the Sixers threw it away 11 times in the third, and Middleton and Eric Bledsoe (14 points on 5-of-18 shooting) helped the Bucks rally to tie it. Embiid responded with a dunk and a block on Bledsoe and a three-point play to end the third and give the Sixers an 84-80 lead. TIP-INS Bucks: Brogdon is expected back Monday. ... Marshall Plumlee, signed to a two-way contact five days earlier, made an impact in his team debut. He had six points and six rebounds and started the fourth quarter ... Milwaukee plays the Sixers three more times, including at Philadelphia on April 11 to end the regular season. 76ers: Rookie G Markelle Fultz participated in shootaround as he tries to regain his shooting form following a right shoulder injury. The No. 1 overall pick has missed 38 straight games. ... Simmons didn't attempt a 3-pointer for the 12th time in 13 games. He's 0 for 10 from long range. ... With the game in hand, fans turned their attention to Sunday's NFC championship game with several "Eagles" chants. UP NEXT Bucks: Home vs. Phoenix on Monday night. 76ers: At Memphis on Monday night......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 21st, 2018

Aldridge has 21, Spurs use big 3rd quarter to rout Suns

By Raul Dominguez, Associated Press SAN ANTONIO (AP) - LaMarcus Aldridge scored 21 points and the San Antonio Spurs rolled past the Phoenix Suns, 112-95 on Sunday night (Monday, PHL time) following a dominant third quarter. It was San Antonio's second consecutive win after losing four straight. The Suns were held to 13 points in the third quarter, the lowest production by a Spurs opponent in any quarter this season. San Antonio won the period by 21 points, its largest point differential in the third quarter since 2012. Patty Mills had 11 points in the third, going 3-for-3 on three-pointers, and Aldridge had eight points to spark the decisive quarter. Mills finished with 17 points and Danny Green added 14. T.J. Warren led Phoenix with 17 points and Troy Daniels added 14. Devin Booker was held to nine points on 3-for-11 shooting. With Manu Ginobili sitting out for rest after playing in back-to-back games, San Antonio's young reserves stepped forward. Dejounte Murray had 13 points, Bryn Forbes added 12 and Brandon Paul scored 11. Forbes scored in double figures in consecutive games for the first time in his two-year career. Paul tipped away a pass intended for Booker and then raced downcourt to score a contorted layup on Booker. Paul then took a charge from Booker, leading Spurs coach Gregg Popovich to rise from his seat clapping and help the rookie up. Paul would also fire a pass to Pau Gasol for a three-pointer to close the opening quarter for a 28-20 lead. TIP-INS Suns: Phoenix has made a three-pointer in 1,068 straight games. … Warren played after recovering from a head injury suffered against New York. Warren reported having a headache, but was cleared after participating in non-contract drills Saturday (Sunday, PHL time) and completing pregame workouts. ... Phoenix was without guards Eric Bledsoe (not with team) Brandon Knight (left ACL tear) and Davon Reed (left meniscus repair) and forward Alan Williams (right meniscus repair). Bledsoe has not been with the team since Oct. 22 (Oct. 23, PHL time) when he posted "I Don't wanna be here," on Twitter, the day the Suns fired coach Earl Watson. Spurs: Rudy Gay came up hobbling after tumbling to the court with 10 minutes left in the game after Paul fell into him following a dunk. Popovich quickly rose from the bench with a look of concern, but Gay remained in the game after walking to the scorer's table to recuperate. … San Antonio has made a three-pointer in 985 consecutive games. … The Spurs have held double-digit leads in seven of their 10 games this season. … Darrun Hilliard made his Spurs debut two minutes into the second quarter. Hilliard, who has a two-way contract with the Spurs and their G League affiliate in Austin, had one assist and no points. UP NEXT Suns: Host Brooklyn on Monday night (Tuesday, PHL time) in their second back-to-back of the season. Spurs: Host the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday night (Wednesday, PHL time) in the third of a six-game homestand......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 6th, 2017

24 NBA questions before 17-18 tips off

By David Aldridge, TNT analyst The season starts on Tuesday night (Wednesday, PHL time). You’ve been waiting patiently all summer with your questions. Fire away.     1. So … what’s the point of playing this season? The Golden State Warriors are still the prohibitive favorites to repeat this season, next season and into the foreseeable future. But it was good to see a good chunk of the Western Conference -- the Houston Rockets, Oklahoma City Thunder and Denver Nuggets, to name three teams -- not fold before the first card is dealt. That fact alone is incredibly important. The Warriors are still the best team in the West, without question. But if teams don’t even try to get better, or spend money to compete, the whole rationale for playing fades away. The Thunder could have rode Russell Westbrook alone to another first-round playoff loss, watched him walk out the door in free agency next summer and thrown up its hands, plead ‘woe is us and all small-market teams,’ and enjoyed a luxury tax-free life for the next few years. The Rockets could have just kept selling tickets to fans to watch James Harden and his pals shoot 50 threes a game for the next two or three years. It’s an appealing brand of basketball. Denver could have just kept building through the Draft, climbing a few more wins here or there for a while, and snuck into the eighth seed, choosing to be comfortable rather than bold. But they didn’t. They’ve called and raised. In all likelihood, it won’t be enough to beat Golden State. But those teams can sleep well at night. They’re not cheating their players, or fans. 2. So, is OKC now a legit threat to the Warriors? The short answer: no. But it’s closer. Carmelo Anthony will be as good a third option as anyone in the league has, though; he will eat regularly on the weak side as defenses scramble to handle Westbrook-Paul George pick and rolls; a quick seal and ‘Melo will be off to the races. If coach Billy Donovan goes small ball with Patrick Patterson at the five, there will be many nights when OKC drops a 130 spot. Yes, the Thunder’s defense is going to be an issue; while Enes Kanter was a sieve off the bench, he was coming off the bench, playing behind Steven Adams. Anthony will be starting and playing big minutes, many at the four. But it won’t matter most nights when the Thunder is up 20 to start the fourth quarter, after 36 minutes of Westbrook sorties, George 3-pointers and transition dunks, and Carmelo post-ups and spot-ups (he shot 44.8 percent last season on catch and shoot shots. Among forwards who played 30 or more minutes last season, per NBA.com/Stats, only Kevin Durant, Otto Porter and Kawhi Leonard shot better). The Thunder can guard you with George, Andre Roberson and Adams and they can outscore you with Westbrook and George and ‘Melo. They have a solid bench (Patterson, Ray Felton, Jerami Grant, Alex Abrines) and Westbrook won’t be physically spent by the end of the 2018 playoffs. Wait; what am I saying? Of course he’ll be spent. But he’ll also be playing way deeper into May. 3. Did not getting Anthony hurt Houston or nah? The Rockets -- okay, Chris Paul -- wanted this done bad. It won’t hurt Houston in the regular season, when Paul and James Harden will dominate. And while Harden didn’t like Kevin McHale’s critique of his leadership, Mac was spot on. That doesn’t make “The Beard” a bad guy or teammate -- people gravitate to their comfortable roles in life, and CP3 is a natural-born leader. Harden will, one thinks, be more comfortable with slightly less light on him. They’ll do fine playing together and off one another. But the shadow of the Rockets’ implosion from deep -- 29 of 88 on three-pointers the last two games against the Spurs in their Western Conference semifinals series -- still hangs over them. Ryan Anderson was negated in the postseason. There’s a reason CP3 pushed for ‘Melo so hard. The Rockets will need unexpected consistent offense from a P.J. Tucker or Luc Mbah a Moute in May if they have any hopes of playing in June. 4. Can we just start the Cleveland-Boston East finals now? Maybe Toronto, with C.J. Miles shooting 40 percent on 3-pointers to complement Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, will break up what seems inevitable. Maybe Washington, with its super-solid starting five intact, now has the mental toughness to bust past the second round, where it’s been beached three of the last four postseasons. But it doesn’t feel like that. Boston, ultimately, should be a lot better this season than last. It will take a while for coach Brad Stevens to figure out the rotation and whether Jaylen Brown can really stick at the two, but ultimately, the Celtics have two dynamic playmakers/scorers in Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, and with Al Horford providing the glue at both ends, they’re going to be a load by the end of the season. And while Cleveland will have to wait a while for Isaiah Thomas, the Cavs have more than enough firepower until Thomas can make his debut. Whatever Dwyane Wade has left will be accentuated playing with James, and Kevin Love (holy moly, is he underrated) will feast drawing slower, bigger centers out to him on the perimeter. J.R. Smith doesn’t like losing his starting job to Wade, and he should be ticked. But he nonetheless will help Cleveland’s bench, which will be incredibly difficult in its own right with Tristan Thompson and Kyle Korver complementing Smith. And that’s before Thomas returns, which will put Derrick Rose on that second unit. There won’t be any rest for defenses who’ll then have to contend with a rested James, et al, coming back. It says here that not only will the Cavs not miss Irving offensively, they could be even more diverse and difficult to guard this season. Not to mention that James is supremely motivated to make an eighth straight Finals. 5. Could Curry break his record of 402 3-pointers in a season? At first glance, with Durant and Klay and Draymond (and, now, Nick Young) all needing to get fed as well, it would seem impossible for Curry to best the mark he set two years ago, on the 73-9 regular season team. But consider: coach Steve Kerr thinks a new guy always blossoms in his second year with the Warriors, which means Durant should be even more lethal offensively this year, as the Warriors’ offense reaches an even higher level of efficiency. And the way they move the ball, it’s not a stretch to think that with defenses tripping over themselves to get to Durant, Curry could get into one of those ridiculous grooves that could leave him within striking distance of 402 by the end of the season. 6. Could the last one in the Eastern Conference turn out the lights? The New York Knicks were hardly a power in the East before trading Anthony, but his departure creates one more team that will struggle to win 35 games this season. With the paucity of talent there should be at least four 50-win teams in the East -- Cleveland, Boston, Toronto and Washington -- with the Milwaukee Bucks knocking on the door. 7. Who’s going to regret their offseason? The Bucks were fine off the court -- their new arena is already more than halfway constructed and looks like it’s going to be a gem -- although the surrounding mall that is supposed to be part of the complex is not going up as quickly. But the Bucks didn’t address their bigs-heavy roster and move some of the surplus -- how can coach Jason Kidd keep all of Greg Monroe, Jabari Parker and John Henson happy with Thon Maker scarfing up more and more frontcourt minutes? -- for the shooting Milwaukee still needs. The East is so open, and Milwaukee is so close to breaking through into elite status with Giannis Antetokounmpo an elite performer. 8. Rudy Gay -- sneaky good pickup? Gay says he’s cool starting or coming off the bench for the Spurs, but he’d best as San Antonio’s sixth man, at least to start things. Bringing Pau Gasol off the bench didn’t work so well, so if he’s starting at center, coach Gregg Popovich can’t go small ball with “Cousin” LaMarcus Aldridge at the five and Gay at the four alongside Kawhi Leonard. (Current state of Spurs fans’ cuticles here and here as they consider a season with an extended Klaw absence if this quad injury doesn’t improve soon.) The Spurs could have some serious firepower in reserve if Gay and Patty Mills come off the bench, but Mills or Dejounte Murray will likely have to start at the point until Tony Parker comes back. 9. Speaking of Popovich … Should he and Steve Kerr and Stan Van Gundy stick to sports? No. 10. Who’s gonna be Kia Rookie of the Year? I say Markelle Fultz. What, you thought I was gonna pick against a DeMatha Catholic man? (Actual unretouched photo of me as a sophomore at the most successful high school in the history of the United States may or may not be here). Playing off of Joel Embiid, J.J. Redick, Robert Covington … it’s hard to see Fultz not looking really good when he should have all kinds of room to operate. Lonzo Ball will put up bigger numbers, and Tatum will be on a better team. But Boston was good last year, and Jayson Tatum will likely not play as much as the others. The Sixers are poised for a big jump up in the standings, and that’s always a narrative that voters like and get behind -- which is what will hurt Dennis Smith Jr.'s chances in Dallas. 11. What does Dwyane Wade really have left? Now that the inevitable buyout of Wade’s $24 million deal by the Bulls has led to the equally inevitable trek to Cleveland to play with James, can the 35-year-old Wade still be a significant contributor on a title contender? Given the general dysfunction in Chicago last season, you can dismiss most of the good and bad numbers Wade put up, with two exceptions: he still averaged almost five free throw attempts per game, and he shot 31 percent on 3-pointers -- not great, but more than double his anemic 15.9 percent behind the arc in 2015-16, his last with the Miami Heat. Wade obviously knows the cheat code for how to most effectively play off of James, so he’ll use the regular season to learn his teammates and be ready for the playoffs. But can Wade hold up over seven games defensively if he has to chase, say, Bradley Beal around, or try to deny DeRozan his preferred mid-range spots, and still be productive offensively? 12. Back to the Sixers -- how good will they be? My guess is they’ll pretty good in the 60 or so games I anticipate Embiid will play this season -- I’m assuming several designated off days for him during the season, not another injury. The mix of young talent (Fultz, Embiid, Ben Simmons, Dario Saric, Covington) and crafty vets (Redick, Amir Johnson) should mesh to make the 76ers a very tough team to defend. But Philly has to resolve the Jahlil Okafor situation, and in fairness to him, give him a fresh start somewhere else with a trade as soon as possible. If I were a good team that would be hard-pressed to add a free agent any time soon and feels a player short of true contention -- I’m looking at you, Memphis Grizzlies and Wizards -- I’d work hard to get the new, slimmed-down Okafor on my squad while he’s still on his rookie contract and make him the focal point of a kick-ass second unit. 13. Should we feel some kind of way about the Trail Blazers? I’m picking up what you’re putting down. A full season of the “Bosnian Beast” in the middle, it says here, will vault Portland into the top four in the West. Note I said “full season.” That means Jusuf Nurkic has to give coach Terry Stotts between 65-70 starts for the above premonition to be, as they say in the legal world, actionable. If so, Nurkic’s underrated scoring and passing out of the post will only make Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum that much more deadly out front, along with improving Portland’s defense. Per Basketball-Reference.com, the Blazers were 11.6 points per game better than the opposition with those three on the floor together and a +5 when their regular five-man lineup with Maurice Harkless and Al-Farouq Aminu joined the guards and Nurkic. And that’s pronounced, “Noor-kitch,” accent on Noor. 13. A little movie break ... Kevin Costner’s accent in “Robin Hood” -- worst ever, right? Yes, but Natalie Wood’s in “West Side Story” was painful, too. 14. Many have written the post-CP3 Clippers off. Should they? The Clippers are my darkhorse this season -- if they do the right thing and go small more often. They’re doing it more in practice so far than in games because Danilo Gallinari is working through a foot injury, but Blake Griffin at the five and Gallinari at the four could be spicy during the regular season. That would mean Sam Dekker and/or Wes Johnson would have to become credible and dependable at the three, allowing coach Doc Rivers to play a Pat Beverly-Milos Teodosic backcourt more often, which will just be fun. This would, of course, mean less DeAndre Jordan, and … that may not be the worst thing. Nothing against DJ, who is the best defensive big in the league, bar none. Unfortunately, the NBA isn’t about defense any more -- at least not in the traditional sense. Even someone like Jordan who doesn’t just block shots, but also helps snuff out opposing pick and rolls, becomes less valued by the league’s advanced stats crowd if he doesn’t contribute more offensively. The three has gone a long way to tyrannizing the defense-dominant big man out of the game. (Zach Lowe recommends the Wizards try to get Jordan via trade, and it’s not the first time I’ve heard that name mentioned in connection with Washington, the idea being the only chance the Wizards have of beating Cleveland or Boston is to slow them down enough defensively that Wall-Beal-Porter can try and keep up offensively. Washington is definitely a load when Wall gets locked in on D and creates turnovers, and the idea of Jordan inhaling lobs from Wall is enticing to think about. But the Wizards are not -- not -- going to take on a fourth big contract, and Jordan’s surely going to opt out after this season; he’s rightly expecting a massive payday in 2018, and the Clippers certainly now have motive and means to retain him.) Anyway, some Lou Williams, Austin Rivers and/or Teodosic and Willie Reed off the bench isn’t bad, either. 15. Could Kyle Kuzma be the best rookie on the Lakers this season? Don’t @me, LaVar. Kuzma has followed up a very strong Vegas Summer League with high notes in preseason, averaging better than 19 points per game for the Lakers. He’s been dazzling at times, displaying in-between skills that intrigue, and showing why so many teams were trying to trade back into the first round to get the Utah forward before L.A. snagged him with its second and much less heralded first-round pick last June. And there will be minutes available at the four this season. So far, Kuzma has displayed unusual strength for a rookie and confidence in his ability to score. Of course, he’s inexperienced, and like all rookies, has to differentiate between an open shot and a good shot. The other, more famous first-rounder, Lonzo Ball, will almost certainly be the better all-around player in time. For this year, though … hmmm. 16. What does a Hawks fan have to look forward to this season? Honestly, not much. But they’ll always be well-coached and get better. I’d pick one of the young players, like rookie John Collins or second-year small forward Taurean Prince, and concentrate on them during the season. See what they do with their minutes on the floor, and watch how they gradually expand their games at both ends. Seeing a young guy get better as he gains experience and accepts coaching is one of the great joys of watching the NBA every night. 17. Orlando? What gives there? The team’s new braintrust of Jeff Weltman and John Hammond will need some time to fix the roster -- a mélange of athletic wings that have trouble defending and guards that have trouble shooting. The former is addressed somewhat with the signing of Jonathon Simmons from San Antonio, but I don’t see a solution to the latter with any of the existing backcourt contributors. Unless coach Frank Vogel figures out some way to get more turnovers/runouts from his group, they just can’t get in transition enough for their length and legs to make a difference. 18. New Orleans? What gives there? The short answer is, I have no idea. All of NBA Earth has DeMarcus Cousins out of there one way or another (he’s an unrestricted free agent in ’18 and wants to be on a contender/the Pelicans will never pay him what he wants and will have to trade him by the deadline/no way he and Anthony Davis fit together/Wall agitates for a reunion with his former Kentucky big man in D.C./your departure theory here) by this time next year, but we’ll see what coach Alvin Gentry has come up with for “Boogie” and “the Brow” after a summer to think it over. Rajon Rondo being out hurts their depth, but I have to be honest -- I don’t see how he and Jrue Holiday can possibly work together in a backcourt, and Holiday’s the guy the Pelicans just gave $125 million to, so he should probably have the ball in his hands every night, shouldn’t he? I like Ian Clark and Frank Jackson down there, but that untethered three spot burns a hole in the New Orleans sun. Well, at any rate, should be more fun than watching reruns of My Life on the D-List. 19. Favorite D-List Muppet? Beaker. 20. LeBron is leaving Cleveland again after this season, isn’t he? Everything points to yes, and a relocation to Los Angeles to play with the Lakers or Clippers next year – except … what if the Cavs win it all again this year? That’s not an impossible scenario -- in fact, it’s a pretty simple one to lay out: Cavs run roughshod through the Eastern Conference in the playoffs again, get through a good but hardly great Boston team in the conference Finals and set up a fourth straight encounter with Golden State. It’s easy now to say the Warriors dominated the Cavs in last season’s Finals -- but only if you ignore the fact that Cleveland led by six with just more than three minutes remaining in Game 3, only to see the Warriors score the game’s last 11 points to take a 3-0 lead instead of 2-1. And given that Cleveland vaporized the Warriors in Game 4, a 2-2 series would have meant the Cavs just needed to win once in Oracle -- which they’d done twice in the 2016 Finals -- to have a real shot at repeating. The point is, the difference between the teams isn’t as big as Draymond Green would have you believe; the Cavs have no fear of the Warriors, and Jae Crowder gives coach Tyronn Lue a viable on-ball defender for Kevin Durant, leaving LeBron free to play off of Green. And: that unprotected Nets pick, whether one or three or five or seven, is Cleveland’s best recruiting tool. LeBron knows everyone in college basketball and he can literally pick whoever he’d like to finish his career with in Cleveland before handing over the reins. I’m not saying he’s definitely staying, either -- only that his departure isn’t the lead pipe cinch some would have you believe. The season to come will have a lot to do with his next decision. 21. So, how will the playoffs go this season? Eastern Conference (seeds No. 1-8): Cleveland, Boston, Washington, Toronto, Milwaukee, Miami, Detroit, Philadelphia Western Conference (seeds No. 1-8): Golden State, Houston, Oklahoma City, Portland, San Antonio, Memphis, Utah, Minnesota Eastern Conference semifinalists: Cleveland, Boston, Washington, Milwaukee Western Conference semifinalists: Golden State, Houston, OKC, San Antonio Eastern Conference finals: Cleveland over Boston Western Conference finals: Golden State over OKC (you heard me) NBA Finals: Golden State over Cleveland (in seven games) 22. Tell me something crazy that’s going to happen this season that no one’s predicting! Giannis Antetokounmpo. NBA MVP, 2017-18. 23. Are you high? No, ma’am. 24. So, why 24 questions? As always, we start the season with 24 questions (or predictions, or issues, whatever) in honor of Danny Biasone, the late owner of the Syracuse Nationals, whose discovery in 1954 helped save the league. At that time, the NBA was in the midst of a literal slowdown, in large part by teams that were desperate to figure out some kind of way to stay competitive with George Mikan, the league’s first superstar big man, and his team, the Minneapolis Lakers. Teams would hold the ball for minutes at a time without shooting in an effort to shorten the game and give them a chance to beat Minneapolis late. But the end result was boring -- very boring -- basketball. At the owners’ meetings that year, Biasone came up with an idea. NBA games were 48 minutes long. Biasone figured out that in a normal game, one not waylaid by the slowdown tactics, about 120 shots -- 60 per team -- were taken. So, why not just divide the number of minutes in every game -- 2,880 -- by the number of shots in an average game -- 120 -- to come up with some kind of a time limit in which a team had to shoot. And thus, the 24-second shot clock (2,800/120) was born. With the implementation of the shot clock in the 1954-55 season, scoring went way up, as did the quality of play. Teams were now running up and down the floor in order to try and beat the shot clock, complementing the “fast break” game that many colleges had played for years. But the new style in the pros was immensely popular with fans. And it still is. Plus, there’s just something iconic about that clock counting down every 24 seconds. It’s unique to the NBA. Thus, we ask 24 questions, in honor of the guy who owned a bowling alley as well as the Nationals for much of his adult life, and probably enjoyed the bowling more. Longtime NBA reporter, columnist and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer David Aldridge is an analyst for TNT. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 17th, 2017

Antetokounmpo, Bucks win 6th straight, 122-107 over Mavs

By SCHUYLER DIXON,  AP Sports Writer DALLAS (AP) — Giannis Antetokounmpo had 29 points and 17 rebounds and the Milwaukee Bucks rolled to their sixth straight victory, beating the retooling Dallas Mavericks 122-107 on Friday night (Saturday, PHL time). Antetokounmpo was 13 of 19 from the field and got the upper hand again in his second meeting with fellow Euro star Luka Doncic, the Dallas rookie sensation who scored 20 points. He's the only original starter remaining because of two trades that were more about the future than the present. Brook Lopez scored 20 points for the Bucks, who have surged to the best record in the NBA (41-13) with a pair of six-win runs on either side of a loss. One of those victories was over the Mavericks at home, when Antetokounmpo scored 31 points to Doncic's 18 in a 10-point win. Milwaukee didn't have Nikola Mirotic a day after acquiring him from New Orleans before the trading deadline. It didn't matter as the Bucks shot 54 percent despite going 10 of 36 (28 percent) from 3-point range. Antetokounmpo repeatedly powered his way to the basket for dunks and layups, starting with the first two baskets of the game. Lopez found some favorable matchups as well, make six of eight from inside the arc while going 2 of 6 from long range. Even guard Malcolm Brogdon backed down the Mavericks for easy buckets, finishing with 18 points along with backcourt mate Eric Bledsoe. Trey Burke, one of four players to join Dallas from New York in a deal that also brought Kristaps Porzingis and sent three Dallas starters to the Knicks, scored 18 points. Tim Hardaway Jr., another guard from that trade, had 12. TIP-INS Bucks: Guards Eric Bledsoe and Brogdon scored 18 points apiece. ... F Khris Middleton was given a night of rest on the front end of a back-to-back. ... Coach Mike Budenholzer said it wasn't clear whether Mirotic would be available on the second night of a back-to-back at home against Orlando. The fifth-year forward has been listed with a right calf strain and missed his last seven games with the Pelicans. Mavericks: Antetokounmpo's brother, F Kostas Antetokounmpo, was expected to be active before he was a late scratch because of an illness. The younger Antetokounmpo is a rookie who hasn't played for the Mavericks and has spent most of the season with their G-League team. He was active but didn't play when the teams met in Milwaukee last month. ... Dallas had a season-high 22 3-pointers, going 9 of 16 from long range in the third quarter. NO RANDOLPH FOR MAVS Dallas waived Zach Randolph two days after acquiring the forward while sending Harrison Barnes to Sacramento in a trade designed for salary-cap relief. The 37-year-old Randolph never played for the Kings in his second season with them. Justin Jackson, the other player in the deal, made his Dallas debut late in the fourth quarter. By trading Barnes, the Mavericks put themselves in position to acquire another front-line player to go with rookie sensation Luka Doncic and Porzingis, a 2018 All-Star. Porzingis isn't playing this season as he recovers from a knee injury sustained last February. UP NEXT Bucks: Go for three-game season sweep of Orlando at home Saturday. Mavericks: Portland on Sunday in finale of three-game homestand......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 9th, 2019

Giannis Antetokounmpo, Eric Bledsoe pace Bucks past Wizards in ‘crazy game’

MILWAUKEE --- Giannis Antetokounmpo called it "a crazy game." A little too crazy for the All-Star. Antetokounmpo scored 43 points, Eric Bledsoe had 22 points and 11 assists, and the Milwaukee Bucks beat the Washington Wizards 148-129 on Wednesday night for their fifth consecutive victory. "I think we were just trading baskets at one point," Antetokounmpo said. "We're a good team but we're trying to be a great team. "Even though we scored a lot, we were sloppy. Defensively we have to pick it up a little bit because that's not the face we want to show." The Bucks shot 60 percent (56 for 93) from the field and placed six players in double figures while becoming the first ...Keep on reading: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Eric Bledsoe pace Bucks past Wizards in ‘crazy game’.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsFeb 7th, 2019

Antetokounmpo, Bledsoe pace Bucks past Wizards

By Charles F. Gardner, Associated Press MILWAUKEE (AP) — Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 43 points, Eric Bledsoe had 22 points and 11 assists, and the Milwaukee Bucks beat the Washington Wizards 148-129 on Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time) for their fifth consecutive victory. The Bucks shot 60 percent (56-for-93) from the field and placed six players in double figures while becoming the first NBA team with 40 victories. Malcolm Brogdon had 18 points, and Khris Middleton finished with 16. Washington trailed by as many as 25 in the first half, but closed to 120-113 on Chasson Randle layup with 10:22 left. Bledsoe helped finish off the Wizards with 10 points in a quick scoring flurry, including a dunk off a missed free throw by Antetokounmpo. He made a three-pointer with 7:07 remaining to make it 138-118. Bradley Beal led Washington with 30 points, and Thomas Bryant had 26. Jeff Green finished with 22 points for his fourth straight game with 20 or more. The Wizards (22-32) played without Otto Porter Jr. after he was traded to the Chicago Bulls for Jabari Parker and Bobby Portis. A person familiar with the situation confirmed the move on condition of anonymity because the deal had not been announced. Antetokounmpo went 17-for-21 from the field in Milwaukee's highest scoring game of the season. He also had six rebounds, four assists and three steals. The Bucks (40-13) rolled to 50 points in the first quarter on 20-for-27 shooting. They led 85-65 at the break. It was the highest scoring quarter of the season for Milwaukee. The halftime total was two shy of the franchise record for points in a half set on March 14, 1979, versus the New Orleans Jazz. TIP-INS Wizards: Porter was with his teammates preparing for the game when he was informed of the trade less than an hour before tip-off. He was averaging 12.6 points and 5.6 rebounds for the Wizards this season. ... Former University of Wisconsin star Sam Dekker had 12 points in 21 minutes. Bucks: C Thon Maker was traded to Detroit for 6'7" wing Stanley Johnson. A person confirmed the deal to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because it had not been announced publicly. The 7'1" Maker was the 10th pick in 2016. He started 34 games as a rookie in 2016-17 but has mostly come off the bench since then. UP NEXT Wizards: Host Cleveland on Friday night (Saturday, PHL time). Bucks: At Dallas on Friday night (Saturday, PHL time)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 7th, 2019

LOOK: Here are the 2019 NBA All-Star Game reserves

NBA press release NEW YORK – Two-time Kia NBA All-Star MVP Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder and four first-time All-Stars lead the list of 14 players selected by the NBA’s head coaches as reserves for the 2019 NBA All-Star Game. The 68th NBA All-Star Game, featuring Team LeBron vs. Team Giannis, will take place on Sunday, Feb. 17 at 8 p.m. ET at Spectrum Center in Charlotte, N.C. (Feb. 18, PHL time). NBA All-Star 2019 will reach fans in more than 200 countries and territories in more than 40 languages. Joining Westbrook as reserves in the Western Conference player pool are San Antonio Spurs forward-center LaMarcus Aldridge, New Orleans Pelicans forward-center Anthony Davis, Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokić, Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard, Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson and Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns.  Jokić has been named an NBA All-Star for the first time. The Eastern Conference reserve pool includes three first-time NBA All-Star selections: Milwaukee Bucks forward Khris Middleton, Philadelphia 76ers guard-forward Ben Simmons and Orlando Magic center Nikola Vučević.  They are joined by Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal, Detroit Pistons forward Blake Griffin, Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry and Indiana Pacers guard Victor Oladipo. Team captains LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers and Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Bucks will draft the NBA All-Star Game rosters from the pool of players voted as starters and reserves in each conference. The team rosters will be revealed on TNT in a special NBA All-Star Draft Show on Thursday, Feb. 7 at 7 p.m. ET (Feb. 8, PHL time). James and Antetokounmpo will make their picks without regard for a player’s conference affiliation or position.  Each captain will choose 11 players to complete a 12-man roster. The 2019 NBA All-Star Draft rules include: - The eight starters (aside from James and Antetokounmpo) will be drafted in the First Round. - The 14 reserves will be drafted in the Second Round. - As the top overall vote-getter among fans, James will have the first pick in the First Round (Starters).  Antetokounmpo will have the first pick in the Second Round (Reserves). - The captains will alternate picks in each round until all players in that round have been selected. The 10 All-Star Game starters, unveiled last week, were selected by fans, current NBA players and a media panel.  The Eastern Conference starter pool consists of Antetokounmpo, Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid, Toronto’s Kawhi Leonard, the Boston Celtics’ Kyrie Irving and the Charlotte Hornets’ Kemba Walker. The Western Conference starter pool is James, Golden State’s Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City’s Paul George and the Houston Rockets’ James Harden. The 14 All-Star Game reserves were selected by the NBA’s 30 head coaches. The coaches voted for seven players in their respective conferences – two guards, three frontcourt players and two additional players at either position group. They were not permitted to vote for players from their own team. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver will select the replacement for any player unable to participate in the All-Star Game, choosing a player from the same conference as the player who is being replaced. Team LeBron will be coached by the head coach from the Western Conference team with the best record through games played on Sunday, Feb. 3 (Feb. 4, PHL time). Team Giannis will be led by the head coach from the Eastern Conference team with the best record through games played on Feb. 3 (Feb. 4, PHL time). Below is a closer look at the NBA All-Star Game reserves: 2019 NBA ALL-STAR GAME RESERVES Western Conference Player Pool The Western Conference @NBAAllStar Reserve Pool!@aldridge_12 @AntDavis23 Nikola Jokic@Dame_Lillard @KlayThompson @KarlTowns @russwest44 #NBAAllStar pic.twitter.com/BHu2JnxiHg — NBA (@NBA) February 1, 2019 • LaMarcus Aldridge, Spurs (7th All-Star selection): Aldridge is an All-Star for the seventh time in the last eight seasons. The Spurs have now had at least one player selected to 21 consecutive All-Star Games, the NBA’s longest active streak. • Anthony Davis, Pelicans (6th All-Star selection): An All-Star for the sixth year in a row, Davis scored a record 52 points in the 2017 All-Star Game. • Nikola Jokić, Nuggets (1st All-Star selection): Selected with the 41st overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, the Serbian center is Denver’s first All-Star since the 2010-11 season (Carmelo Anthony).   • Damian Lillard, Trail Blazers (4th All-Star selection): Lillard is the fourth player to earn at least four All-Star nods with Portland, joining Clyde Drexler (eight), Aldridge (four) and Sidney Wicks (four). • Klay Thompson, Warriors (5th All-Star selection): This marks the fifth consecutive All-Star selection for Thompson, who made a game-high five three-pointers and scored 15 points in the 2018 All-Star Game. • Karl-Anthony Towns, Timberwolves (2nd All-Star selection): Towns is the third player to be named an All-Star multiple times with Minnesota, along with Kevin Garnett (10) and Kevin Love (three). • Russell Westbrook, Thunder (8th All-Star selection): An All-Star for the eighth time in the last nine seasons, Westbrook is the only player to win the Kia NBA All-Star MVP Award outright in back-to-back years (2015 and 2016). Eastern Conference Player Pool The Eastern Conference @NBAAllStar Reserve Pool!@RealDealBeal23 @blakegriffin23 @Klow7 @Khris22m @VicOladipo @BenSimmons25 @NikolaVucevic #NBAAllStar pic.twitter.com/LfwuSBvA1P — NBA (@NBA) February 1, 2019 • Bradley Beal, Wizards (2nd All-Star selection): This is the second straight All-Star selection for Beal, who scored 14 points in his All-Star Game debut last year. • Blake Griffin (6th All-Star selection): Griffin is set to appear in the All-Star Game for the first time since 2014, when he scored 38 points as a member of the LA Clippers. • Kyle Lowry, Raptors (5th All-Star selection): With his fifth consecutive All-Star nod, Lowry becomes the second player to be named to at least five All-Star teams after not being selected in any of his first eight seasons, joining Chauncey Billups. • Khris Middleton, Bucks (1st All-Star selection): The 39th overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft joins Antetokounmpo to give Milwaukee multiple All-Stars in the same season for the first time since 2000-01 (Ray Allen and Glenn Robinson). • Victor Oladipo, Pacers (2nd All-Star selection): Oladipo has been named an All-Star in each of his two seasons with Indiana. He sustained a season-ending ruptured quad tendon in his right knee on Jan. 23 (Jan. 24, PHL time). • Ben Simmons, 76ers (1st All-Star selection): The reigning Kia NBA Rookie of the Year makes his All-Star debut in his second season – just as Philadelphia teammate Embiid did last year. • Nikola Vučević, Magic (1st All-Star selection): The eight-year NBA veteran from Montenegro is Orlando’s first All-Star selection since the 2011-12 season (Dwight Howard).  .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 1st, 2019

WATCH: Top 3 NBA plays

MANILA, Philippines – Paul George has some serious bounce.  And he put his aerial act in full display by putting Giannis Antetokounmpo in a poster dunk late in the Oklahoma City Thunder's emphatic win over the Milwaukee Bucks. (READ:  George leads Thunder past Bucks ) Also showing off his hops, Luka Doncic goes coast-to-coast as ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsJan 29th, 2019

Antetokounmpo has triple-double as Bucks crush Heat 124-86

By Rich Rovito, Associated Press MILWAUKEE (AP) — Giannis Antetokounmpo had 12 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists in his fourth triple-double of the season, and the Milwaukee Bucks cruised past the Miami Heat 124-86 on Tuesday night (Wednesday, PHL time). Eric Bledsoe had 17 points and Malcolm Brogdon added 16 for Milwaukee, which has won 13-of-16 dating to Dec. 14 (Dec. 15, PHL time). The Bucks improved to 31-12, second-best in the NBA. Justise Winslow and Hassan Whiteside had 19 points apiece for Miami, which fell to 21-21. Milwaukee used a 12-0 run midway through the second quarter to pull away. The Bucks led by 26 late in the period. Antetokounmpo had five points, eight rebounds and six assists in the first half. The Bucks built a 31-point lead in the third quarter and held a 93-63 advantage heading to the fourth. Milwaukee's lead grew to as many as 38, the final margin, in the fourth as both teams turned to their reserves early. The Bucks had a 13-2 run to close out the first quarter and grab a 30-23 lead despite shooting 39 percent. Whiteside had 10 points in the quarter for Miami. TIP-INS Heat: Started a four-game trip and play 12 of their next 16 on the road. .Whiteside returned to the lineup after missing Saturday's (Sunday, PHL time) game due to illness. . G Josh Richardson started after not participating in the team's practice on Monday (Tuesday, PHL time) due to the knee tendinitis. Bucks: Signed forward Bonzie Colson to a two-way contract. Colson has spent the 2018-19 season with the Canton Charge of the G league after going undrafted out of Notre Dame. . Brogdon missed just his third free throw in 88 attempts this season. ... All 13 players scored. UP NEXT Heat: Visit Detroit on Friday night (Saturday, PHL time). Bucks: At Memphis on Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time), where Milwaukee has won just once since 2009......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 16th, 2019

Antetokounmpo leads the way, Bucks win Budenholzer s return

By George Henry, Associated Press ATLANTA (AP) — Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 33 points, Eric Bledsoe added 24 points and 10 assists, and the Milwaukee Bucks beat the Hawks 133-114 on Sunday (Monday, PHL time) in Mike Budenholzer's return to Atlanta. Khris Middleton finished with 17 points and 11 rebounds to help the Bucks improve to 30-12, second-best in the NBA. Coming off a loss at Washington that Antetokounmpo missed with injuries, Milwaukee is 12-0 following a defeat and remained the league's only team not to drop consecutive games. Budenholzer, making his first appearance at State Farm Arena since leaving the Hawks after last season, said before the game that he wished his former team well as it rebuilds with youngsters John Collins, Trae Young, Kevin Huerter and Omari Spellman. The Bucks are soaring, thanks mostly to the 6'11", 242-pound Antetokounmpo, who scored 14 on free throws and had two dazzling assists early in the fourth. He first smothered Young to steal the ball and feed George Hill for a three-pointer that made it 104-90, before adding a no-look drop pass on D.J. Wilson's layup for a 16-point lead. He later hit a couple of jumpers to make it a 15-point advantage. Milwaukee has won 12-of-15 dating to Dec. 14 (Dec. 15, PHL time). The Bucks began the day outscoring opponents by an NBA-leading 9.1 points per game. Antetokounmpo showed no ill effects after sitting out Friday (Saturday, PHL time) with right quadriceps soreness and a left hip contusion. Young finished with 26 points, and DeAndre' Bembry added 18 for Atlanta, which dropped to 13-30. The Hawks have dropped 6-of-8. Their 24 turnovers led to 34 points for Milwaukee. TIP-INS Bucks: Antetokounmpo did a postgame jersey exchange with 41-year-old Hawks F Vince Carter. ... G Malcolm Brogdon scored 14 points and missed just his second free throw in 86 free-throw attempts this season. ... Middleton began the day averaging 20.4 points over his previous eight games. Hawks: F Taurean Prince, the team's third-leading scorer, returned after missing the last 18 games with a left ankle sprain. On a minutes restriction, Prince had seven points and five rebounds in 11 minutes. ... G Kent Bazemore, the team's second-leading scorer, has missed eight straight games with a right ankle injury. NO REGRETS Budenholzer said "change and moving is part of life" when asked before the game about leaving the Hawks. Calling it "a heck of a five years," Budenholzer wasn't looking back with animosity following a 24-58 finish last season. He was the NBA Coach of the Year in his second season, leading Atlanta to 60 wins and its first appearance in the Eastern Conference finals. When principal owner Tony Ressler bought the team and Danny Ferry was out as general manager, Budenholzer added president of basketball operations to his title, but the Hawks made three bad moves that set the organization back and precipitated the rebuild. Al Horford and Paul Millsap, two model team leaders, left as free agents after the Hawks decided not to trade them. In between those gaffes, the team signed mercurial center Dwight Howard to a three-year, $70.5 million contract and was dealt away after one ill-fit season. Budenholzer said he loves his job with the Bucks and wishes the Hawks well. "A rebuild — it's a tough job to be the owner in a rebuild, to be a GM to be a coach. These are tough jobs, and so I don't know who the right coach is," he said. "And I think they feel great about where they are and that's important for them. They have their direction they know where they're going. I'm obviously very happy with our team, our front office and our roster. I'm very excited about where I am." UP NEXT Bucks: Host Miami on Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time). Hawks: Host Oklahoma City on Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 14th, 2019

MVP Ladder: Giannis bolsters case with key win in Houston

By Sekou Smith, NBA.com Giannis Antetokounmpo doesn’t think he’s quite “there yet” when it comes to the Kia MVP chase. With all due respect, Mr. “Greek Freak,” the basketball world begs to differ. You are definitely there, sir, based on your performance through the midpoint of this NBA season. In fact, if there were hardware to hand out from Kia Race to the MVP Ladder HQ at this point, Antetokounmpo would be the recipient (edging out a crowded field that includes the reigning MVP, James Harden). By the grace of the scheduling gods, the two leading candidates just happened to hook up on Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time), the official halfway point of 2018-19. And they put on a show worthy of MVP mention, with Antetokounmpo’s Milwaukee Bucks knocking off Harden’s Houson Rockets at Toyota Center. Harden continued his torrid scoring streak, collecting his league-leading 14th 40-point game of the season. In doing so, he tied Tracy McGrady for the second-longest 30-point streak since the ABA/NBA merger at 14. (Kobe Bryant has the record at 16 straight.) But Harden didn’t have his most efficient outing (shooting 13-for-30 overall with nine turnovers) as the Bucks took control late. All Antentokounmpo did was shred the Rockets for 27 points on 8-for-16 shooting to go along with a career-high 21 rebounds, five assists and yet another showcase performance for his MVP resume. (The Bucks pounded the Rockets to the tune of a 70-24 advantage in points in the paint and outscored them 19-2 in fast break points.) The Bucks have won seven of their past eight games heading into today’s game against the Washington Wizards at Capital One Arena. They’ve stormed the top of the Eastern Conference standings and own a 10-5 record over Western Conference opponents with Antetokounmpo as their undisputed leader and, yes, MVP. Not there yet, huh? Yeah, right. * * * The top five this week in the 2018-19 Kia Race to the MVP Ladder: * * * 1. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks Last week: No. 2 Season stats: 26.6 points, 12.8 rebounds, 6.0 assists, 1.5 blocks, 1.3 steals Antetokounmpo seems to be the only person on the planet who isn’t moved by his consistent brilliance this season. If he doesn’t think he’s "there yet," then the rest of the league should brace themselves for whatever comes next. He’s been an unstoppable force on both ends of the floor, but particularly as an offensive catalyst on one of the most improved teams in the league. Doing it without the aid of a reliable long-distance shot is what has made watching Antetokounmpo crush the competition so intriguing. If there was any skepticism about the Bucks being both a legitimate threat in the East and a title contender, that should be vanishing as the second half of the season begins. As long as Antetokounmpo stays focused and healthy (he’s probable Saturday, PHL time, with right quadriceps soreness and a left hip bruise), the possibilities are endless. 2. James Harden, Houston Rockets Last week: No. 1 Season stats: 33.9 points, 8.6 assists, 6.0 rebounds, 2.0 steals Harden has moved into hallowed ground with his current scoring barrage, as his 14 straight games of 30-plus points ties Hall of Famer (and fellow Rockets legend) Tracy McGrady for the second-longest streak since the ABA/NBA merger. Those debates about whether or not Harden is the best offensive player ever aren’t out of line, not when you consider the way he generates offense for himself and his teammates. Harden has a chance to obliterate the record with the Rockets’ friendly upcoming schedule (they play seven of their next 10 games at Toyota Center). The only glitch for Harden as he's hit this nuclear level is the one key flaw in his game is rising, too. He’s averaging 5.7 turnovers this season, which ties his career-high from 2016-17. He's up to 7.3 tpg in his last five games, which he, of course, would point out is world-class nit-picking of a guy playing as well as he is. 3. Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors Last week: No. 3 Season stats: 28.9 points, 5.5 assists, 5.2 rebounds, 1.3 steals Curry shot a rather un-Splash Brother-ish 5-for-19 in Tuesday’s (Wednesday, PHL time) home win against the New York Knicks, which includes an ugly 3-for-12 showing from three-point range. That was a huge come down from his 42-point outburst (including 10 made three-pointers) Saturday (Sunday, PHL time) in a road win against the Sacramento Kings. But as often happens with a rare rough shooting night for the two-time former MVP, Curry displayed a brilliant floor game against the Knicks. He finished with 14 assists (and just one turnover) while grabbing seven rebounds as Klay Thompson went off for 43 points and Kevin Durant dropped 24. Curry’s had just three hiccups since returning from his 11-game, groin-injury induced absence on Dec. 1 (Dec. 2, PHL time). Over his last 18 games, Curry has failed to score at least 20 points only once. What should worry the Chicago Bulls, who visit Oracle today, is what Curry has done in those other two games after he struggled (averaged 32.0 points). 4. Kawhi Leonard, Toronto Raptors Last week: No. 4 Season stats: 27.3 points, 7.8 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.9 steals MVP voters must decide if the work Leonard did while he was playing outweighs how good the Raptors were all season whether he was in or out of the lineup. As convenient as it might be to try to diminish what Leonard has done by knocking him for the games he missed, you’d be wise to pay attention to just how good he's been when he plays. The Milwaukee Bucks can certainly attest to his impact after what Leonard did to them Saturday (Sunday, PHL time). He logged 30 points and a season-high five steals, playing his trademark lockdown defense, as the Raptors won the battle between the NBA’s top two teams (in the standings). Leonard has such tight control over his own game that he continues to play as efficiently as anyone on this list. He has notched eight games this season where he’s scored 30 or more points while shooting better than 50 percent, including his last two games (30 on 50 percent shooting in the win against the Bucks and 31 points on 61.1 percent shooting in their recent win against the Hawks). 5. Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets Last week: No. 7 Season stats: 19.2 points, 10.2 rebounds, 7.6 assists, 1.5 steals Jokic continues to deliver for the Nuggets in every category, doing his crafty best to help keep coach Michael Malone’s team at the top of the Western Conference. He notched his 21st career triple-double (18 points, 14 rebounds, 10 assists and two blocks) in Thursday’s (Friday, PHL time) win over the LA Clippers. It was his second straight triple-double, coming two days after lighting up the Heat in Miami for 29 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists. In doing so, he tied Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the second-most career triple-doubles by a center and can now chase Wilt Chamberlain’s big man record of 78. Jokic will probably dig into that deficit considerably the season if he keeps playing the way he has to kick off 2019 (27.2 points on .523 shooting, 12.6 rebounds, 7.2 assists and 1.4 steals in his last five games). Jokic and the rest of the Nuggets are focused on team goals first, of course. After missing out on the playoffs on the season's final night in 2017-18, they’re making sure to avoid any such drama this time. * * * The next five 6. Paul George, Oklahoma City Thunder 7. Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers 8. LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers 9. Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors 10. Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans And five more: DeMar DeRozan, San Antonio Spurs; Kyrie Irving, Boston Celtics; Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers;Victor Oladipo, Indiana Pacers; Lou Williams, Los Angeles Clippers Sekou Smith is a veteran NBA reporter and NBA TV analyst. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 12th, 2019

Leonard, Siakam each score 30 points, Raptors beat Bucks

By Joe Totoraitis, Associated Press MILWAUKEE (AP) — Kawhi Leonard and Pascal Siakam each scored 30 points, with Siakam setting a career high, and the Toronto Raptors beat the Milwaukee Bucks 123-116 on Saturday night (Sunday, PHL time) in a matchup of the top two teams in the NBA standings. Serge Ibaka added 25 points and nine rebounds, Fred VanVleet had 21 points, and Danny Green 12 points and nine rebounds. The Raptors slowly took charge in the second and third quarters and withstood the Bucks' comeback attempt in the fourth. Giannis Antetokounmpo had 43 points and 18 rebounds for Milwaukee. Malcolm Brogdon added 15 points, and Khris Middleton and Eric Bledsoe each had 14. The Bucks had won five straight. Milwaukee was coming off a 144-112 victory over Atlanta on Friday night (Saturday, PHL time), while Toronto had a day to rest following a 125-107 loss to the Spurs on Thursday night (Friday, PHL time) in Leonard's return to San Antonio. The Raptors put it away with a 15-2 run, taking a 110-98 lead on Siakam's wide-open triple from the corner with 5:14 to play. Trailing by as much as 13, the Bucks opened the fourth quarter with a 14-4 run, capped by Antetokounmpo's layup and three-pointer, and led 96-95 with 8:12 left. TIP-INS Raptors: C Jonas Valanciunas (left thumb dislocation) missed his 11th consecutive game. G Kyle Lowry (lower back pain) missed his sixth straight game. ... The last time Lowry and Leonard played together was Dec. 9 (Dec. 10, PHL time) against Milwaukee. Bucks: F Ersan Ilyasova scored three points in 13:23 minutes in his second game back from broken nose. ... G Sterling Brown was back after missing one game with a right ankle injury. UP NEXT Raptors: Host Indiana on Sunday night (Monday, PHL time). Bucks: Host Utah on Monday night (Tuesday, PHL time)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 6th, 2019

Lopez has 25, Giannis monster dunk as Bucks beat Pistons

By Rich Rovito, Associated Press MILWAUKEE (AP) — Brook Lopez had 25 points, Giannis Antetokounmpo threw down a spectacular one-handed dunk and the Milwaukee Bucks cruised past the Detroit Pistons 121-98 on Tuesday night (Wednesday, PHL time). Khris Middleton had 22 points and Eric Bledsoe had 18 for Milwaukee. Antetokounmpo had just 15 points, but his slam over Jon Leuer was the highlight of the night. Antetokounmpo blew past Andre Drummond, jumped and reached his right arm over a leaping Leuer for the slam during the first quarter. Did @Giannis_An34 just throw down the POSTER OF THE YEAR!?!#FearTheDeer pic.twitter.com/anVvi6nNO6 — Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) January 2, 2019 Milwaukee has won four straight and 8-of-9. The Bucks are an NBA-best 26-10. Blake Griffin had 29 points and nine rebounds, and Reggie Jackson scored 19 points for Detroit, which fell to 16-19. After leading 92-73 after three quarters, the Bucks built a 28-point lead midway through the fourth. Lopez made 7-of-12 shots from three-point range and capped off the night by nailing a shot from beyond the sideline hashmark in the fourth. The Bucks pulled away in the second quarter, leading by as many as 21 points. They held a 68-52 advantage at the break after making 70 percent of their first-half shots. Milwaukee made 15-of-20 shots (75 percent) to grab a 35-27 lead after the first quarter. Lopez made all three of his three-point attempts in the quarter. TIP-INS Pistons: C Zaza Pachulia (right lower-leg contusion) sat out and is also likely to miss Wednesday's (Thursday, PHL time) game at Memphis, coach Dwane Casey said. Pachulia had an MRI on Monday (Tuesday, PHL time). ... G Ish Smith, who has been out since Dec. 7 (Dec. 8, PHL time) with an abductor muscle tear, is making progress in his rehabilitation. ... Griffin fell to the court early in the second quarter holding his knee at the same time teammate Jose Calderon writhed in pain after getting hit in the face. Later in the quarter, Griffin again fell to the floor, this time holding his face after colliding with Antetokounmpo. Bucks: F Ersan Ilyasova has returned to practice but remains out of game action after having surgery to repair a broken nose. Ilyasova hasn't played since Dec. 14 (Dec. 15, PHL time). ... Thon Maker received a technical foul in the fourth quarter for arguing. UP NEXT Pistons: Visit Memphis on Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time) in the first matchup of the teams this season. Bucks: Host Atlanta on Friday (Saturday, PHL time) as Milwaukee coach Mike Budenholzer goes against his former team for the first time......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 2nd, 2019

MVP Ladder: Irving enters chase with work on, off the floor

By Sekou Smith, NBA.com The best of Kyrie Irving, both on and off the floor, has been on display the past few weeks. With the Boston Celtics’ season at an early crossroad, of sorts, it was Irving who stepped into the leadership void to steer things in the right direction. With injuries to key players complicating matters and chemistry issues still being sorted out, Irving was the veteran willing to step up and speak out in an effort to make sure the Celtics dealt with their issues head on. The Celtics had an inconsistent start to the season (10-10) before going on a eight-game win streak that was more like what was expected of them, only to hit the skids again briefly and lose three straight games before Irving piped up. "I think everyone can see that we've obviously had some inconsistencies regarding our play,” he said, “so I think it was just time to address it." A 36-minute players meeting in the locker room after a Dec. 21 (Dec. 22, PHL time) home thumping from Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks was enough for Irving, who didn’t spare anyone (himself included) from the harsh spotlight. It was a cathartic moment for the Celtics, who saw Al Horford return from a seven-game absence just in time for Sunday’s win in Charlotte. Kyrie was at his superstar best with the bright lights shining on Christmas. He torched the Philadelphia 76ers for 40 points, unleashing his full offensive arsenal (shooting 17-for-33 from the floor, 5-for-10 from deep), while also grabbing 10 rebounds and dishing out three assists. He was in showtime mode again Thursday night (Friday, PHL time) against James Harden and the Houston Rockets at Toyota Center, finishing his night with 23 points, 11 assists, five rebounds and just one turnover. The Celtics simply had no answer for Harden, who like Irving moves up the ranks on this week’s Kia Race to the MVP Ladder. But it’s clear Irving is ready to shoulder the burden of leading these Celtics, in whatever way necessary. * * * The top five this week in the 2018-19 Kia Race to the MVP Ladder: * * * 1. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks Last week: No. 1 Season stats: 26.4 points, 12.8 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 1.4 blocks, 1.3 steals Antetokounmpo turned Madison Square Garden into his very own Christmas playground when he smoked the Knicks for 30 points, 14 rebounds, four steals, three assists and two blocks to kick off the league’s showcase day. And just so the Knicks know it wasn’t a fluke, he hurried them again Thursday night (Friday, PHL time) at Fiserv Forum with 31 points, 14 rebounds, eight assists and four blocks in another rout. The Greek Freak is making it tough for anyone to nudge him from the top spot on this list; he’s averaging 24.8 points (on 60.9 shooting), 12.6 rebounds  5.6 assists and 1.7 blocks in his last 10 games. The Bucks are cruising during this stretch as well, solidifying their position as one of  the top teams in the Eastern Conference and the entire league at the close of the calendar year 2018. If this is just the warm up for 2019, Antetokounmpo can really crank up his MVP campaign between now and the All-Star break. 2. Kawhi Leonard, Toronto Raptors Last week: No. 2 Season stats: 26.4 points, 8.5 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.8 steals Leonard and the Raptors didn’t get an opportunity to showcase themselves for the world to see on Christmas but made up for that scheduling snafu with an instant classic in a win over Miami on the day after the holiday. Leonard scored 30 points, grabbed eight rebounds and had two assists and two steals in the winning effort. December has been good to the Raptors’ prized summer acquisition — he’s averaging 30.1 points (on .520 shooting) to go along with his 8.1 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 2.0 steals. For all of the chatter about how good the Raptors have been with Leonard out of the lineup and how good their quality depth is and has been all season, the fate of this team rests on Leonard’s broad shoulders come playoff time. He’s the one element they’ve lacked in previous runs, as a true crunch-time, go-to player in the postseason. All that noise about him not being an ideal vocal leader looks like just that at this stage of his tenure in Toronto. 3. LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers Last week: No. 3 Season stats: 27.3 points, 8.3 rebounds, 7.1 assists, 1.3 steals Lakers Nation held its collective breath earlier this week, awaiting the word on LeBron’s MRI after he heard a “pop” when he went down in the third with a groin injury in the third quarter of the Lakers’ Christmas Day (Dec. 26, PHL time) blowout over the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena. The news was better than expected but the catalyst for the Lakers’ revival this season is still expected to miss “several games.” This could actually prove to be a critical stretch for the Lakers. If they can manage to maintain their position in the Western Conference standings without LeBron in uniform, it’ll speak volumes about the growth and development of their youngsters. It will also instill some confidence in the entire group if they can piece together a few wins without the new king of Los Angeles. All that said, it would be shortsighted of anyone to dismiss the work LeBron has put in during the early-season turnaround this team has undergone. He was playing as well as anyone in the league this month (25.8 points on .516 shooting, 9.3 rebounds, 8.2 assists and 1.3 steals). 4. Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors Last week: No. 4 Season stats: 28.6 points, 5.2 assists, 5.0 rebounds, 1.3 steals Curry bounced back from yet another uncharacteristic Christmas Day (Dec. 26, PHL time) performance (just 15 points on an ugly 5-for-17 shooting) with a big night against his brother Seth and the Portland Trail Blazers. But his 29 points and a triple-double from Kevin Durant wasn’t enough to lift the Warriors past Damian Lillard’s late-game heroics against his hometown team. If there was ever a time to be concerned about Curry and these Warriors, it’s now. Draymond Green and Klay Thompson cannot find their marks. The bench production is non-existent at times. And the edge the Warriors have used to their advantage for years seems to have vanished. The boost they need is more than just adding a superstar talent like Boogie Cousins (whose recovery from his Achilles injury seems to be in hyperdrive). The Warriors might need both Curry and Durant to go off script a bit and shake things up by going nuclear offensively to strike fear in teams the way this team once did. They’ve become far too predictable a target without the proper support from their other stars. 5. James Harden, Houston Rockets Last week: No. 7 Season stats: 32.3 points, 8.4 assists, 5.7 rebounds, 2.1 steals The reigning Kia MVP will not be denied any longer. Harden has been on an absolute tear of late and is bringing the Rockets back into focus in the Western Conference playoff chase while doing so. He’s posted back-to-back 40 point games (45 in their Friday, PHL time showdown win over the Boston Celtics and 41 in their Dec. 26, PHL time win over the Oklahoma City Thunder). He’s currently on a career-best eight-game run scoring 30 or more points, the first player to do so since Russell Westbrook did it in November of 2016. Harden’s the first to score 35 or more in six straight games since former teammate Carmelo Anthony accomplished the feat in April of 2013. Harden’s eight games of 40 or more points this season leads the league (Anthony Davis is second with five). The Celtics tried every player in uniform to stop him but to no avail. But Harden’s best work has been pulling the Rockets out of their sub-.500 hole at Thanksgiving to a season-best four games over .500 as they close out the 2018 portion of their schedule. * * * The next five 6. Paul George, Oklahoma City Thunder 7. Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets T-8. Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors T-8. Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers 10. Kyrie Irving, Boston Celtics And five more: Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans; De’Aaron Fox, Sacramento Kings; Tobias Harris, Los Angeles Clippers; Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers; Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder Sekou Smith is a veteran NBA reporter and NBA TV analyst. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 29th, 2018

Giannis Antetokounmpo powers Bucks past Knicks in Christmas debut | Inquirer Sports

NEW YORK Giannis Antetokounmpo was so eager to make a rim-rocking Christmas debut that he overshot the basket on his first attempt, a dunk from one side that ended with the ball all the way in the op.....»»

Category: newsSource:  philippinetimesRelated NewsDec 27th, 2018

Antetokounmpo powers Bucks past Knicks in Christmas debut

Giannis Antetokounmpo had 30 points and 14 rebounds, and Milwaukee celebrated its return to the Christmas schedule by beating the New York Knicks, 109-95......»»

Category: newsSource:  philstarRelated NewsDec 26th, 2018

Antetokounmpo powers Bucks past Knicks in Christmas debut

By Brian Mahoney, Associated Press NEW YORK (AP) — Giannis Antetokounmpo had 30 points and 14 rebounds in his Christmas debut, and the Milwaukee Bucks celebrated their return to the holiday schedule by beating the New York Knicks 109-95 on Tuesday (Wednesday, PHl time). Brook Lopez scored 20 points for the Bucks, who played on Christmas for the first time since 1977. They were selected for the showcase slate of games largely because of Antetokounmpo but the timing also was perfect to show an emerging team, which improved the NBA’s second-best record to 23-10. Malcolm Brogdon finished with 17 points for the Bucks, who bounced back from a loss to Miami on Saturday (Sunday, PHL time) to win for the fifth time in six games. Rookie Kevin Knox scored 21 points for the Knicks, who have lost six straight Christmas Day games and fell to 22-31 in their NBA-record 53 appearances on the holiday. New York has lost five in a row and 10-of-11 since rallying to stun the Bucks 136-134 in overtime on Dec. 1 (Dec. 2, PHL time) at Madison Square Garden. Antetokounmpo was angry that night with Knicks forward Mario Hezonja, who had dunked over him in the first quarter, then stared and stepped over him. Antetokounmpo felt it was disrespectful, vowing to punch Hezonja in the groin next time. The Greek Freak was perhaps a little too pumped for the rematch, missing a dunk so badly on his first shot that the rebound bounced all the way out to the opposite corner, where Brogdon grabbed it and fired in a three-pointer. But he quickly got untracked, while the Knicks had a hard time getting started in just their third nationally televised game of the season. They started 1-for-8 and fell behind 10-2, though they settled down to lead 24-22 after one quarter. It was only a seven-point game midway through the third quarter when Antetokounmpo began to seize control. His jumper followed by layup pushed the lead into double digits, and his 11 points in the period helped the Bucks open an 84-65 cushion. The Bucks were held to a season-low 87 points Saturday (Sunday, PHl time) in Miami, but the NBA leaders with 116.9 points coming into the game surpassed that early in the fourth quarter against the Knicks. Noah Vonleh had 14 points and 15 rebounds, while Tim Hardaway Jr. had 14 points and 10 boards but shot just 4-for-18 for New York. TIP-INS Bucks: Antetokounmpo was chosen Eastern Conference player of the week on Monday (Tuesday, PHL time), the third time this season he’s won the award. He was also voted the player of the month in the conference for October-November. ... The Bucks are 3-2 on Christmas. Knicks: Rookie G Allonzo Trier had eight points in 18 minutes after missing seven games with a strained left hamstring. ... Hezonja didn’t play. ... The Knicks haven’t won on Christmas since beating Boston in 2011 in what was the NBA season opener following the lockout. ADVANTAGE, BUCKS? Both coaches were asked before the game about the idea that a Christmas Day game favored the visiting team, which could treat it as a regular road game while the hosts were at home, perhaps surrounded by family celebrating the holiday. Milwaukee’s Mike Budenholzer dismissed the notion, saying the Bucks brought plenty of family members and had a big team dinner on Christmas Eve so they could mix basketball and the holiday. And David Fizdale’s thoughts? “Well, I look at this team, Milwaukee’s coming in with an advantage anyway,” he said with a laugh. “They’re a better team than us right now.” UP NEXT The teams complete their season series Thursday night (Friday, PHL time) at Milwaukee......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 26th, 2018