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BLOGTABLE: Who leads the Coach of the Year race?

NBA.com blogtable Who are your top three candidates for NBA Coach of the Year? * * * Steve Aschburner: Toronto’s Dwane Casey, Boston’s Brad Stevens and Indiana’s Nate McMillan, possibly in that order. Casey has helped to reinvent the Raptors after another disappointing playoff exit last spring and a summer in which his boss Masai Ujiri issued a somewhat ominous call for a “change in culture.” Now Toronto has its best shot ever at The Finals. Stevens and his Celtics could have had their season yanked from under them in Game 1 when Gordon Hayward went down. Instead, Boston dominated early, turned massive personnel changes into all positives and still looms as a top East contender. And let’s be honest, most folks expected the Pacers to whimper into lotteryland after the Paul George trade. Instead, this has been a bright, happy season in Indiana, with Victor Oladipo as a top Kia Most Improved Player candidate and a record better than George’s OKC team. Tas Melas: 1. Dwane Casey. 2. Nate McMillan. 3. Brett Brown. Casey got multiple-time All-Stars to buy in to a new style of play. I thought it was unthinkable. That’s real coaching right there, and the bench’s success just puts it over the top. McMillan’s team has surprised and he probably receives the least recognition of any playoff coach, so let’s give him some here. Brown deserves a heck of a lot more than this acknowledgment for coming to work every day with a smile over the last few seasons. He has been a model of consistency in a consistently painful environment. Shaun Powell: My choice by a large margin is Dwane Casey of the Toronto Raptors. I love how he has adapted and evolved his system to fit the needs of his players, and how the bench has developed. No. 2 is Nate McMillan of the Indiana Pacers -- I'm surprised his name hasn't come up much in this conversation. He's doing wonders for a team that lost Paul George and in preseason was targeted for last place in the East. No. 3 is Doc Rivers of the LA Clippers. He may not make the playoffs, but the Clippers lost Chris Paul, traded Blake Griffin, dealt with injuries all season ... and they're still in postseason contention. John Schuhmann: 1. Dwane Casey. The Toronto Raptors are the only team that ranks in the top five in both offensive and defensive efficiency. They've changed their offense, have actually been more improved on defense, and altered their rotation (no longer keeping either Kyle Lowry or DeMar DeRozan on the floor at all times, even after losing their two most reliable reserves of the last couple of seasons), with terrific results. 2. Brad Stevens. The Boston Celtics have the league's No. 1 defense and its fourth best record, having lost an All-Star to injury in the first six minutes of the season and with four first or second-year players in the rotation. 3. Mike D'Antoni. Daryl Morey obviously did a terrific job in the offseason, but D'Antoni is the architect what's happening on the floor. He was the Coach of the Year last season and the Houston Rockets have been improved on both offense and defense. Sekou Smith: Dwane Casey is my frontrunner for Coach of the Year. It's not often you see a coach with his seasoning and stature scrap what's been working and completely revamp his offense. Casey has always been a defensive mastermind, but to do what he's done on the other side of the floor has been simply tremendous for a team that could very well end up as the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. And Masai Ujiri should be at the top of your Executive of the Year list, too. Brad Stevens has worked wonders in Boston for some time now. And he's the second name on my list. Alvin Gentry and Nate McMillan are tied for the third spot, and I'd go with the guy whose team finishes with more wins this season. They're doing excellent work under trying circumstances (you see what you can put together when you lose talent like DeMarcus Cousins and Paul George, respectively)......»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnMar 8th, 2018

Jets McCown still leads, competes even as Darnold emerges

By Dennis Waszak Jr., Associated Press FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — Josh McCown is still No. 1 on the New York Jets' quarterback depth chart. At this point, though, he might as well be No. 100. With each practice, it appears increasingly likely that rookie Sam Darnold will be the starter when the regular season kicks off in three weeks. Not that McCown has done anything on the field to hurt his chances of retaining the job. It's simply a matter of circumstances. McCown is 39 and been there, done that. Darnold is 21, was the third overall pick in the draft, has immense talent and is considered the future of the franchise — and that future could be now. He has shined in his last several practices and will likely start Friday night against the Giants in the team's third preseason game. "Like I said the whole time, obviously, we traded up to (No.) 3 to draft a quarterback to get Sam because there's a plan in place," McCown said. "So we understand that." That "plan" has been to give Darnold and Teddy Bridgewater the bulk of the work in the preseason and see how they perform. So far, so good — and that means McCown could slide down the depth chart very soon. Coach Todd Bowles hasn't announced a regular-season starter yet, and says he might not do so until after the fourth preseason game. From all indications, it's trending in Darnold's direction. But McCown isn't necessarily reading into the fact Darnold is getting the bulk of the first-team snaps and that is causing the perception that the rookie will be the starter. "No, I mean, obviously, he's younger," McCown said. "I was taking these kind of reps when he was 4 years old." Actually, Darnold was 5 when McCown was in his first NFL training camp with Arizona in 2002. But, point made. "He needs the work and it's good for him," the veteran said. "Every rep is a great rep for all of us, there's no doubt about it." Sure, he wants to start, but McCown is a realist. He knows his days as an NFL player, let alone starting quarterback, are dwindling. "My goal for this is for the quarterback room to play well," said McCown, who signed a $10 million deal in the offseason to return to New York. "And if that's me playing out there, I want to play the best football that I can play. If that's Sam or that's Teddy, whoever that is, that's the ultimate goal." Last summer, McCown also saw limited action in the preseason as the Jets tried to give Christian Hackenberg and Bryce Petty the opportunity to seize the starting gig. Neither could and McCown was the clear starter. Darnold and Bridgewater have provided a different type of competition, a three-man race that is quickly becoming a two-man show — with McCown in the background. "It's fun to be out there playing and there's no substitute for that," McCown said. "That's why we do it. At the same time, when you look at things from that prospective, if you can help be a part of finding that guy that can be that guy for this franchise for a long time, that means something to me, that's competitive to me. That's what we get up for work to do, that's what makes it fun. "I don't feel like the forgotten guy because we're busy every day working, and working on those things. That's all that matters." McCown has been in just about every situation imaginable throughout his professional career, which is entering its 17th year. He has been a third-round pick, an up-and-coming passer, a backup, a starter and a place-holder in his stops with 10 teams. He spent one year out of the NFL and played in the United Football League. McCown has also spent time as a volunteer coach for a high school team in North Carolina. He has graciously handled the many ups and downs during his career. Those experiences help McCown balance his competitive nature and the willingness to help those trying to take his job. "I think for me, it's just a personal thing," McCown said. "At the end of the day, you go to work and you work as hard as you can and you help as many people as you can. And when you lay down and you can have peace in your heart at night, and you know that I did all I could that day, and then you sleep good. That's what I learned growing up and that's all I know." McCown takes nothing for granted and that's something he has stressed to the young players in camp, and not just the quarterbacks. He's the closest example of a player-coach you could find in the NFL, a mentor who seems destined to be in charge of a team someday. McCown's days of leading from the huddle might be about over, though. And, he's OK with whatever happens next. "At this point in my career, I don't know how many more years of this will happen, so you treasure every moment," he said. "I think when you keep those things in perspective, there are days — nobody is perfect — there are days when you want to take every rep and you look back and you go, 'Man, I wish I was just starting out again,' but (you put it) all in perspective. It's been fun and I enjoy being a part of this group. Todd sets a great tone and tempo every day for us and it is just an honor to be a part of it. "So that is really what keeps me going and what allows me to come and enjoy it and not get caught up in anything else.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 20th, 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

When NBA returns, will Warriors’ dominance come back, too?

By Brian Mahoney, Associated Press The Golden State Warriors have never lost more than 15 games in a season under Steve Kerr. They could reach that total in the first night after the All-Star break. The Warriors who return Thursday night (Friday, PHL time) aren’t the same ones who dominated the NBA for the last three seasons. The defending champions sputtered into their week off with four losses in their final eight games, falling into second place in the Western Conference behind Houston — ending a three-year run of taking the league’s best record into the break. At 44-14 and loaded with four All-Stars, the Warriors are still very good, but not as good they’ve been. “This year we’ve had a pretty solid season, but feel that we can play a lot better,” Stephen Curry said. “So that’s what we’re trying to do this next 20 games before another championship run.” Their performances against their first two opponents out of the break show how different things have been for these Warriors. The Los Angeles Clippers, who visit Golden State on Thursday (Friday, PHL time), won in Oakland last month after losing the previous 12 meetings in the series. And the Oklahoma City Thunder, Golden State’s opponent Saturday (Sunday, PHL time) in a nationally televised game, have defeated the Warriors by 17 and 20 points already this season. They can become the first team to beat Golden State three times in a season since San Antonio went 4-0 against the Warriors in 2013-14 — the season before Kerr’s arrival. Their spotty play thus far makes Curry appreciate their time at the top even more. “We’ve kind of set a standard of excellence in the league,” he said. “That’s pretty cool to think about sustaining that high level of play for so long.” ___ Some other things to watch when play resumes Thursday with six games: RACE TO THE BOTTOM: While the NBA fined Dallas owner Mark Cuban $600,000 on Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time) for his public comments about tanking, the Mavericks have plenty of company near the bottom of the standings. Phoenix has lost seven straight to share the worst record in the league with Atlanta at 18-41, and six other teams, including the Mavs, have 20 or fewer victories. The team who finishes last has the best chance to win the draft lottery, though if it’s Brooklyn (19-40), that makes a winner out of Cleveland, which has the Nets’ pick that belonged to Boston after acquiring it in the Kyrie Irving trade. DOMINANT DAVIS: Anthony Davis scored 44, 38 and 42 points in his last three games before the All-Star break, leading New Orleans to victories in all of them. He leads the league with 22 games of 30 points or more and the Pelicans might need him to keep it up, as they are just a half-game ahead of the Clippers for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. MEN OF MYSTERY: Two of the NBA’s strange absences could be cleared up after the break — or could last through the rest of the season. Spurs star Kawhi Leonard continues to rehabilitate a right thigh injury — the team lists his reason for not playing as “return from injury management” — after he was shut down after appearing in just nine games. Philadelphia guard Markelle Fultz, the No. 1 draft pick, remains sidelined with a right shoulder injury after playing in just four games. Neither player has been ruled out for the season, though there’s not much time left if they’re going to come back. RISING ROOKIES: Utah’s Donovan Mitchell, who won the Slam Dunk contest at the All-Star Game, and Ben Simmons of Philadelphia could be locked in tight race for Rookie of the Year. Both have their teams on the rise, as the Jazz have won 11 straight games to pull within 1 ½ games of eighth place in the West, while the 76ers have won five in a row and are seventh in the East. LONZO AND THE LAKERS: Lonzo Ball is set to return to the Lakers after missing the last 15 games with a sore left knee. While the No. 2 pick was out, the Lakers have used Brandon Ingram in the point guard role and also acquired Isaiah Thomas from Cleveland, so coach Luke Walton will have to figure out how to fit in his prized rookie......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 22nd, 2018

BLOGTABLE: Do you believe in the Magic or the Pistons more?

NBA.com blogtable Which team do you believe in more: the 5-2 Orlando Magic or the 5-3 Detroit Pistons? * * * David Aldridge: Despite their loss to the Lakers Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time), I'm still more Team Detroit at present, for a couple of reasons. Last season, Orlando was 29th in the NBA in three-point percentage (.328) and 29th in Offensive Rating (101.2). Through the first two weeks of this season, the Magic is first in three-point percentage (.441) and second in Offensive Rating (110.9). I just don't think that kind of perimeter turnaround is sustainable over the course of an entire season. Big men Aaron Gordon and Nikola Vucevic look comfortable shooting three-pointers so far, but it's a long season and big guys wear down. The Magic does have significant upside, to be sure (Gordon playing more at center? Sign me up!), and if there's one thing coach Frank Vogel can build, it's a defense-first team. But I just like Detroit's group. I'm a big Avery Bradley guy; he's a winner and almost everything he does on the court leads to more winning. We'll see if Tobias Harris and Stanley Johnson can be the answers up front, but IMHO, there's no reason Harris can't continue to be a go-to guy. Plus, Andre Drummond looks poised for a big ol' season, and if he gets back to being disruptive defensively and a Hoover on the boards, Detroit can compete against anyone. It would help them if more people actually show up at Little Caesars Arena. Steve Aschburner: Gotta stick with the Pistons for now. Their loss to the Lakers Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time) was a disappointment in the context of their back-to-back success over the LA Clippers and the Golden State Warriors, a potential sign of feeling too easily satisfied on the West Coast trip. Detroit has no business even knowing the definition of “complacency.” But I did see them bouncing back this season for a playoff spot in the East, which I didn’t project for the Magic. Orlando has more offensive firepower and talent that’s been due to mature, but let’s see how they’re doing a month from now – nine of their 15 November games are on the road, including a four-game swing out West -- before buying in. Shaun Powell: Wow ... I'll give the edge to the Pistons only because their wins (at Clippers and Warriors) are of higher quality, but it's almost a push. It's possible that we're seeing Aaron Gordon finally turn the corner in Orlando, and right on time since it's a contract year. And likewise for Tobias Harris (interestingly, a Magic giveaway) in Detroit. Both teams made solid offseason pickups in Avery Bradley (Pistons) and Jonathon Simmons (Magic), too. Good to see these franchises are feeling frisky, even in the weak East, although you can't be totally sold on their staying power until they prove otherwise. John Schuhmann: The Magic have the much better point differential, but their five wins are against teams that are otherwise 15-15, while the Pistons' five wins (highlighted by back-to-back road wins over the Clippers and Warriors) are over teams that are otherwise 20-9. It's also clear that Orlando's numbers from three-point range -- they've shot 44 percent and their opponents have shot 28 percent -- are not sustainable. Aaron Gordon as a full-time four (instead of starting the season at small forward like he did last year) makes a big difference and Frank Vogel knows what he's doing, but Detroit has more experienced talent, with Reggie Jackson (Tuesday's game in L.A. notwithstanding) and Andre Drummond both looking much better than they did last season. Sekou Smith: Right now it's fun to see both of these teams we didn't necessarily expect to be playoff contenders come out of the gate as strong as they have. Sometimes you hope you are wrong when you pan a team (like I did to the Magic in our season preview). I believe the Pistons have more of what it takes to sustain a higher level of play this season, based mostly on personnel that fits the playoff profile. But I'm anxious to see if the Magic, led by a couple of my favorite players (Aaron Gordon and Jonathan Simmons), can continue to defy the preseason expectations -- or lack thereof. There's something about the "no-one-believes-in-us" attitude Orlando has that can fuel their fire in ways internal motivation simply cannot......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 2nd, 2017

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

Rookie Ladder: Big performances abound at season s midway point

By Drew Packham, NBA.com Due to a much-needed holiday break on my part, it’s been two weeks since we last checked in on this impressive rookie class, and they didn’t disappoint since then. There have been some monster games in the past 14 days including the following: - Luka Doncic scored a career-high 34 points on Dec. 29 (PHL time) in New Orleans, going 7-for-10 from beyond the arc (10-for-16 overall) in a 114-112 loss to the Pelicans.       - Deandre Ayton scored a career-high 33 points with 14 rebounds (10 offensive) and four steals (also a career high) on Dec. 30 (PHL time) in a 122-118 loss to the Nuggets. Ayton was 16-for-20 from the field.       - Landry Shamet scored a career-high 29 points to lead the Sixers to a 132-115 win over the Wizards on Jan. 9 (PHL time). Shamet was 8-for-14 from three-point land in what was easily his biggest night of his career.       - Hawks rookie Kevin Huerter scored a career-high 22 points on Jan. 1 (PHl time) in a 116-108 loss to the Pacers. Huerter was 8-for-15 from the field, going 6-for-8 from beyond the arc.       - Pelicans rookie Frank Jackson scored a career-high 17 points Monday night (Tuesday, PHL time) in 17 minutes in a 114-95 win over the Grizzlies, then topped that two nights later with 19 points -- hitting all four three-point attempts -- in 19 minutes in a 140-124 win over the Cavs.   We’ve just hit the midway point of the season, and big games should start becoming more common as teams falling further out of the playoff race give their youngsters more opportunities. * * * 1. Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks Last week: No. 1 Doncic dominated his third matchup with No. 1 pick Deandre Ayton, notching 30 points, six rebounds, five assists and three steals. It was Doncic’s fourth 30-point game of the season, while no other rookie has more than one. It was also his seventh game with 20-5-5. All other rookies have combined for five such games. Over the past two weeks, the Slovenian has averaged 22.8 points, 6.9 rebounds and 4.7 assists while shooting 40 percent from 3-point land. 2. Deandre Ayton, Phoenix Suns Last week: No. 2 While Ayton has had some monster games over the past two weeks -- averaging 16.2 points and 9.7 rebounds over nine games -- he’s also had some clunkers in the New Year. In a 121-111 loss to the LA Clippers, Ayton finished with four points and five rebounds with four turnovers, then struggled mightily in Wednesday’s (Thursday, PHL time) loss to the Mavs. In 20 minutes, the big man had six points and five rebounds while hitting just 1-of-7 shots. "For the first time, I think I ever, went scoreless in the first half and stuff like that just started to get to me a little bit," said Ayton. "It was just me being the bad egg today. I'm going to apologize to them about this, but yeah, it was a bad game for me." 3. Trae Young, Atlanta Hawks Last week: Not ranked Young has shot more consistently over the last two weeks, shooting 44.7 percent overall and 47.4 percent on three-pointers. I’ve hammered Young repeatedly for his poor shooting numbers, so I have to give him props for his turnaround. Over his last nine games, he’s averaged 15.9 points and 7.6 assists and has generally looked more in control and selective with his shots. Young continues to lead rookies in assists at 7.3 per game, which puts him ninth among all players. 4. Kevin Knox, New York Knicks Last week: No. 3 Knox was named Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month for December after averaging 17.1 points and six rebounds. The 6'9" forward out of Kentucky is certainly on the rise, but also admitted he may not even be done growing. “Doctors said I have a half-inch or an inch left in the tank,” Knox told the New York Post recently. “You never know -- hopefully I have an inch [left]. Maybe 6-10, 6-10.5. If not, I’m perfectly fine with where I’m at.” For his part, coach David Fizdale is letting his young prospect grow with more minutes and responsibility. “Right now, he’s gained momentum, and [I want to] keep him rolling. It’s starting to become I need him on the court. That’s pretty good to say about a 19-year-old. We need him out there.” 5. Jaren Jackson Jr., Memphis Grizzlies Last week: Not ranked Jackson has scored in double figures in 10 of his last 11 games, but his rebounding and foul troubles are areas of concern. Jackson is first (or worst, depending on how you look at it) among all players in fouls per game (3.9) and is just sixth in rebounds per game among rookies. "Because of how long, tall and narrow he is, when guys lock him up he has a hard time escaping or staying on balance," Bickerstaff told The Commercial Appeal last week. "To be honest, with him, with his length and athleticism, he needs to be trying to escape people more and not let them get their hands or body on him where they can wedge him out." These are all things the 19-year-old will figure out, as Bickerstaff says. “The way he works, the way he studies, he's going to figure it out.” * * * Just missed the cut: Rodions Kurucs, Brooklyn Nets Kurucs falls out of the top five, but it was a close call thanks to an impressive night in Boston. Kurucs tied a career high with 24 points. He finished 8-for-15 from the field, hitting a career-high five triples on eight attempts. Wendell Carter Jr., Chicago Bulls Carter has scored in double-digits in five of his last seven games, with a pair of double-doubles to close out 2018. Most notably, he had a 17-point, 13-rebound, three-block showing in a win over the Wizards on Dec. 28 (Dec. 29, PHL time). Landry Shamet, Philadelphia 76ers Shamet not only scored a career-high 29 on Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time), but he also set personal bests by making eight three's (one shy of Dana Barros’ team record set in ‘95) on 14 attempts. He scored 15 of his points in the third quarter when he was 4-for-4 from beyond the arc. “It just happens,” Shamet said afterward. “That might not be the answer you’re looking for, but it’s just simple, and it just comes in the flow of everything.” Frank Jackson, New Orleans Pelicans This could be an anomaly and Jackson won’t stick around these parts, but he deserves some love for his work off the bench. With E’Twaun Moore nursing a quad injury, Jackson has stepped up, scoring 17 points in a win on Monday (Tuesday, PHL time), followed by 19 in Wednesday’s (Thursday, PHL time) win over the Cavs. Jackson was 11-for 15 overall in the two games, going 7-for-12 from three-point land (7-for-7 from the FT line). Collin Sexton, Cleveland Cavaliers Sexton has scored in double figures in his last six games, but the Cavs are mired in an 11-game skid and the rookie is dealing with his own shooting woes. During the slide, Sexton is shooting 32.4 percent from the field, 35.5 percent on three-pointers. * * * (All stats through Jan. 10, PHL time).....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 10th, 2019

NCAA Season 94 volleyball: CSB continues rampage, wins fifth straight

College of St. Benilde picked up from where it left off last year as the Lady Blazers extended their winning streak to five straight after taking down Lyceum of the Philippines University, 25-20, 18-25, 25-14, 25-18, Friday in the NCAA Season 94 women’s volleyball competition  at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan. Prized rookie setter Jewel Lai displayed another superb game, tallying 35 excellent sets to lead the charge in the Lady Blazers’ fifth win in six outings. Klarisa Abriam and Rachel Austero posted 14 points each and accounted for 23 of CSB’s 47 attack points. Marites Pablo got 12 markers while Lai backed her great playmaking with four points including two kill blocks for the Lady Blazers. But head coach Jerry Yee was far from satisfied especially with his wards' shaky performance in the first two frames.   “Mukha kaming kangkarot sa first two sets, actually. More consistency pa,” said Yee, whose squad’s last three games are against dangerous Jose Rizal University, San Sebastian College and Mapua University. “Trabaho pa rin and then we have our targets up ahead.” After yielding the second set, the Lady Blazers were able get their acts together in the next two frames behind the trio of Abriam, Austero and Pablo. Mikaela Rafael and Cherilyn Sindayen scored 16 and 13 points each in a lost cause for the Lady Pirates, who fell to 2-5 slate and were shown the exit door in the semis race. Meanwhile, the Blazers defeated the Pirates, 25-16, 25-19, 25-23, to improve to 5-1 slate in a tie at second to third spot with idle Arellano University in the men’s division. Joshua De Sequera and skipper Francis Basilan finished with 10 points each for CSB, which handed LPU its fifth loss in seven starts. In juniors’ play, the Junior Pirates prevented an LPU shutout as they survived a marathon 27-25, 21-25, 20-25, 25-23, 17-15, battle over the Greenies. LPU improved to 5-2 slate while CSB-LSGH slid to 2-4 mark.   ---     Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles  .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 4th, 2019

Spurs scored 46 in third to race past Celtics, 120-111

By Raul Dominguez, Associated Press SAN ANTONIO (AP) — LaMarcus Aldridge scored 32 points and the San Antonio Spurs rode a 46-point third quarter to a 120-111 victory over the Boston Celtics on Monday night (Tuesday, PHL time). Derrick White had a career-high 22 points for San Antonio, which has won 11-of-13 to close within four games of the top spot in the Western Conference. The Spurs made 19-of-25 shots (76 percent) in the third quarter, their highest-scoring period since 1993 and the 12th-highest in franchise history. Jaylen Brown had a season-high 30 points, but Boston was unable to maintain its first-half advantage. San Antonio was without third-leading scorer Rudy Gay because of a sprained left wrist, but had six players reach double figures to offset his absence. The Spurs opened the game 1-for-6 from the field and shot 22 percent in the opening period while scoring a season-low 17 points in the first quarter. Boston shot better from three-point (35 percent) than San Antonio did from the field (33) in the first half. That advantage disappeared quickly as the Spurs went on a 24-4 run to establish an 84-69 edge. White had 11 points and three assists in the third quarter. Terry Rozier hit three consecutive three-pointers to cut it to 86-78, but the Celtics were unable to reclaim their lead. Marcus Morris scored 18 points for Boston, Kyrie Irving had 16 and Rozier had 15. San Antonio forward Davis Bertans was 5-for-8 on three-pointers in scoring 17 points. The Spurs finished 14-for-26 on three-pointers. TIP-INS Celtics: Irving ran back to the locker room with 7:22 remaining in the game after taking a blow to the eye during a collision with Marco Belinelli. Irvin returned to the bench and to the game a couple minutes later. . After taking New Year’s Day off, Boston returns to action Jan. 2 (Jan. 3, PHL time) to open a four-game homestand. . Brown’s previous season-high of 23 points came Dec. 8 (Dec. 9, PHL time) at Chicago. Spurs: Gay missed his fifth game of the season, missing three previously due to a sore right heel and sitting out another for rest. Coach Gregg Popovich is not sure how long the sprained left wrist will sideline Gay. San Antonio is 2-3 without Gay. . Jakob Poeltl made his fourth start of the season and first since Oct. 24 (Oct. 25, PHL time). Poeltl started three of the Spurs’ first four games before joining the team’s bench. . Spurs center Pau Gasol received a big ovation in his first game since Nov. 4 (Nov. 5, PHL time). Gasol missed 26 games with a stress fracture in his right foot. He was active for the past two games on the road against the Nuggets and Clippers, but the Spurs chose to keep him out until returning home. UP NEXT Celtics: Host Dallas on Thursday night (Friday, PHL time). Spurs: Host Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday night (Friday, PHL time)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 1st, 2019

Harden has Rockets rolling with visit to Warriors looming

By Brian Mahoney, Associated Press James Harden and the Houston Rockets were one half away from the NBA Finals last time they played at Oracle Arena. The way the Rockets are rolling now, they might just get another shot at the champs this postseason. The Rockets try to wrap up a perfect month at home Monday (Tuesday, PHL time) against Memphis, then visit Golden State for the first time since the Western Conference finals, having recovered from a rough start thanks to Harden’s torrid stretch. He has scored 40 points in three straight games and 35 or more in seven straight, the longest streak since LeBron James did it in nine in a row in 2006. The NBA scoring leader’s quest to repeat as MVP is clearly on track. And after a poor start, so are the Rockets (20-15). They have won four straight and nine of their last 10 games overall, and are 8-0 at home in December after dropping their first four games at the Toyota Center. Just like Game 6 of the West finals, when they blew a double-digit lead, they will play at Golden State for Thursday’s (Friday, PHL time) nationally televised game without Chris Paul because of a hamstring injury. But instead of what had been a shaky season getting worse, the Rockets have surged in his absence because of Harden. “Somebody said the other day that we can only win if he scores 40. OK, that’s kind of a bad thing, but the good thing is he can score 40 every night, so we’re OK with that,” Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said. “Tell him to keep going.” NEW YEAR, OLD HOME Kawhi Leonard’s first trip of the new year is to his old home. The Toronto Raptors visit San Antonio on Thursday (Friday, PHL time) for what became one of the most anticipated games of this NBA season this summer when the Spurs gave Leonard the exit he had been seeking, trading him to the Raptors. Leonard was the NBA Finals MVP when the Spurs won their last championship in 2014 and had become one of the league’s most complete players by last season. But he was limited to nine games because of a quadriceps injury and his relationship with the organization became strained. The Spurs dealt him along with mainstay Danny Green to Toronto, getting All-Star guard DeMar DeRozan back. Leonard led Toronto to the best record in the league for most of the season and the two-time Defensive Player of the Year’s absence has shown on the Spurs’ defense, long one of the league’s best but well back in the rankings now. While the game Thursday (Friday, PHL time) is the most newsworthy, it’s not the most important of the week for Toronto. The Raptors follow it Saturday (Sunday, PHL time) by visiting the Milwaukee Bucks, who have inched ahead of them for the NBA’s best record and have won both meetings this season. OTHER GAMES TO WATCH THIS WEEK: Orlando at Charlotte, Monday (Tuesday, PHL time). Magic coach Steve Clifford returns to face the team he coached for five seasons. Oklahoma City at Lakers, Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time). Chance for Californians Russell Westbrook and Paul George to put on a show for the fans back home. Atlanta at Milwaukee, Friday (Saturday, PHL time). Mike Budenholzer’s move from Atlanta to Milwaukee couldn’t look much better. Dallas at Philadelphia, Saturday (Sunday, PHL time). The reigning Rookie of the Year (Ben Simmons) against the player (Luka Doncic) who could succeed him. AYTON IN ACTION Deandre Ayton will finish his strong December by testing himself against the NBA champions. Then he opens January against a different kind of test — perhaps the toughest in the league at his position. The rookie center squares off for the second time against Joel Embiid on Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time) when the Phoenix Suns host the Philadelphia 76ers. Luka Doncic might already have too much hype and highlights to be caught in the Rookie of the Year race, but Ayton’s strong play certainly shouldn’t be overlooked. The No. 1 pick scored a season-high 33 points on 16-of-20 shooting and added 14 rebounds Saturday (Sunday, PHL time) in a 122-118 loss to Denver, after he came into the game averaging 16 points and nearly 12 boards for the month. “You can feel game-to-game he is getting better,” coach Igor Kokoskov said last week. “He is working on his game. He is a very dedicated player. It was just a matter of time.” That improvement has helped the Suns go 5-4 in their last nine games — one more victory than they had during a brutal 4-24 start. After facing Golden State on Monday (Tuesday, PHL time), it’s on to his second matchup with Embiid, one of the league’s biggest talkers who was already chirping about Ayton even before he’d played his first game. After the former Arizona star was compared to him in June, Embiid wrote on Twitter: “Don’t compare Ayton to me either. I play DEFENSE.” He then told ESPN in a preseason interview that Ayton was “about to get his (butt) kicked.” Embiid had 33 points to Ayton’s 17 in the 76ers’ victory in Philadelphia in November......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 31st, 2018

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

Fernandinho s absence hurting slumping Man City

By Steve Douglas, Associated Press MANCHESTER, England (AP) — From a 15-match unbeaten start to three losses in 18 days, Manchester City's title defense in the Premier League has unexpectedly hit a wall. That the slump has coincided with the absence of Fernandinho is surely no coincidence. The defensive midfielder from Brazil has been one of the unsung heroes in Pep Guardiola's remarkable team, providing protection for the defense and a robust platform for its dynamic attacking play. A former box-to-box midfielder, Fernandinho chips in with the odd goal, too. It's only when he's not around that he is really appreciated. City slipped to its first defeat of the season — a 2-0 loss at Chelsea on Dec. 8 — with Fernandinho in the starting lineup, but that was regarded as an anomaly. City dominated the first half at Stamford Bridge, wasting chances before being hit by two second-half goals. He was missing, injured with a thigh injury, when City lost 3-2 at home to Crystal Palace and 2-1 away to Leicester either side of Christmas, when Guardiola's team put in almost unrecognizable displays. And there's a good chance he won't be playing on Sunday when City looks to revive its title challenge at Southampton amid the 20th round of fixtures. City has dropped to third place, seven points behind unbeaten Liverpool and one adrift of Tottenham. Defensively, City has looked fragile in Fernandinho's absence, with his replacements — John Stones, a center back briefly converted to center midfield, and Ilkay Gundogan — not in the Brazilian player's class as a shield for the back four. Whether it's his positioning, his reading of the game or his astutely timed fouls that stop opposition breakaways, Fernandinho is key to the way City balances attack and defense and has been previously described by Guardiola as "a fundamental player for us" and one of the best midfield anchormen. Guardiola wanted a back-up for the 33-year-old in the offseason but failed in a bid to sign Italy international Jorginho, who snubbed City's offer in favor of following Maurizio Sarri from Napoli to Chelsea. City didn't have enough time to land any of its other potential targets — Ruben Neves of Wolverhampton Wanderers was linked — so went into the season with just one proper holding midfielder. It has proved to be the team's big weakness, relying too much on Fernandinho being fit. Guardiola could turn to Ajax youngster Frenkie De Jong in the next offseason but, more immediately, he will hope Fernandinho returns quickly. The Spanish coach has already reiterated he won't be buying anyone in the January window. Even if Fernandinho has a chance to return for the Southampton game, Guardiola would be wise to make sure he is fully fit for the home match against Liverpool on Thursday, given the significance of that fixture to the title race. One thing going in Guardiola's favor in his most testing spell this season is the return of creative midfielders Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva, who could both start at St. Mary's Stadium alongside Gundogan. Fabian Delph, who has been filling in at left back in place of the injured Benjamin Mendy, is suspended after his red card at Leicester, so Oleksandr Zinchenko should start there......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 29th, 2018

PBA 43 Revew: Columbian should let go of uncoventional ball

The PBA's 43rd season was a loooooong one. Seriously, it started December of 2017 and ended December of 2018. That's 12 months of almost non-stop basketball. But with the current PBA season finally drawing to a close, it's time we look back at how each team fared in 2018. Today, we start with the Columbian Dyip.   UNCONVENTIONAL Columbian's season was doomed before it even started pretty much. In trading away its no. 1 pick in the 2017 Draft, which to no one's suprise turned out to be a stud in Christian Standhardinger, the Dyip sent a signal to the whole country that they're not exactly going after championships. The team passed it off as "unconventional" but as we all know, unconventional simply does not work in the PBA. Sure, the Dyip ended up with a handful of players from the Standhardinger trade but it appears that only Rashawn McCarthy will be serviceable now and moving forward. To be fair, Columbian has some talent in its roster and McCarthy paired with surprise pickup Jerramy King should have the potential to be a solid backcourt rotation in the PBA. Looking at the Dyip, that explosive guard pairing is their foundation for the future. Still, their foundation for the future could have been Christian Standhardinger but that's either here nor there now. Anyway, Columbian's unconventional ways had them go through three head coaches this season, not exactly the most ideal situation for a team that's already lagging in overall talent compared to their competitors. Chris Gavina started the season for the Dyip but he quit after two games. Ricky Dandan took over from him but he quit after the Commissioner's Cup. Johnedel Cardel followed but who can tell if he's going to continue coaching next season as well. To be fair again, Columbian had a nice run in the Commissioner's Cup and they were in the playoff race until the bitter end. Coach Ricky Dandan wanted his boys to be scrappy and defensive minded and it worked for that particular tournament. Still, there's no denying that the Dyip desperately need some talent and they need continuity from their coaching staff. Then again, the franchise seem like they're not the type to display incredible amount of patience, just look at their insane number of name changes in just a couple of seasons and constant shuffling of role players and top picks. Anyway, Columbian picked first once again in the PBA Draft. Maybe this year, try and keep the pick? That's always a nice start to a proper rebuild. In all seriousness, if Columbian wants to truly compete in the PBA, they might want to start with proper team building because their past season was doomed right from the start. It's time for the Dyip to abandon their unconventional ways, it simply does not work... except against Rain or Shine.   Columbian DYIP in the 2017-2018 PBA Season Philippine Cup: 1-10 (12th place) Commissioner's Cup: 4-7 (9th place) Governors' Cup: 1-10 (12th place) Overall: 6 wins and 27 losses. Zero playoff appearances.   POST DRAFT NOTE: Columbian picked CJ Perez first and immediately locked him up with a maximum rookie deal for three years. That's a nice start for the Dyip Is Perez good for additional wins enough to take a significant jump? We'll see but at the very least, Columbian will not be an easy out this season. And that's good.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 26th, 2018

Curry becomes 5th Warrior with 15,000 regular-season points

By Janie McCauley, Associated Press OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Stephen Curry had 20 points and seven rebounds while adding another accomplishment to his long list, leading the Golden State Warriors past the Memphis Grizzlies 110-93 on Monday night (Tuesday, PHL time). Curry became just the fifth player in Warriors history to score 15,000 points during the regular season — joining the company of Wilt Chamberlain, Rick Barry, Paul Arizin and Chris Mullin. Kevin Durant scored 23 points to go with five assists and passed Larry Bird (21,791) for 33rd place on the NBA's all-time scoring list. Klay Thompson contributed 16 points with five rebounds. Golden State led by as many as 25 points in the second quarter in quickly turning the game into a rout. That allowed coach Steve Kerr to rest many of his regulars as the Warriors began a busy stretch with eight games before the end of the year, including Christmas night (Dec. 26, PHL time) at home against LeBron James and the Lakers. Marc Gasol had 15 points, six rebounds and six assists for the Grizzlies, who lost their third straight and fifth in six. This marked Memphis' final visit to Oracle Arena before the Warriors move to new Chase Center in San Francisco next season. Omri Casspi added a season-high 20 points against his former team. Jonas Jerebko made Golden State's only two three's in the opening quarter and finished 16 points off the bench. The Warriors were 17-of-18 from the free-throw line in the first half to 8-for-10 by Memphis, which trailed 61-38 at the break. CURRY'S SCORING Curry's three-pointer at the 7:37 mark of the second quarter gave him the 10 points he needed to reach the 15,000 club. Kerr knows the number is hardly important to his star point guard, saying: "He'll probably be at 16,000 before too long, and won't be aware of that either. He's obviously a brilliant player and sets a great tone every night and every day at practice. For the Warriors, he just changed everything from where the team had been over the previously couple of decades. Guys like Steph don't come around very often. He was the foundational piece to what we were seeing right now, the first piece. I think he was a major force in creating what we have today." Chamberlain leads the way with 17,783, followed by Barry (16,447), Arizin (16,266) and Mullin (16,235). "It's a lot of points and the thing to me what's most impressive is how he creates them. They're not just wide-open, catch-and-shoot three's, his creativity with the ball in his hands," Memphis coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. "The shot-making from all three levels, the left hand, the floaters, the three off the bounce, the walk across that half court line and shoot a three. He has a variety of ways he puts the ball in the basket. You can probably count on one hand how many guys that we've seen with the shot-making creatively and the ability that he has." TIP-INS Grizzlies: G Mike Conley missed the game with left hamstring soreness. F Kyle Anderson returned after missing one game with a sprained left ankle. ... Memphis shot 2-for-11 on three's in the first half and 7-of-25 in all. ... The Grizzlies have been limited to fewer than 100 points in eight of nine December games. ... Memphis has dropped five straight at Oracle Arena, also losing on Golden State's home floor 117-101 on Nov. 5 (Nov. 6, PHL time). ... A top priority for Bickerstaff was improving rebounding, and the Grizzlies were edged 42-41 on the boards. Warriors: F Andre Iguodala returned from a three-game absence with a sore right hip to score 10 points. G Shaun Livingston was back after bruising his pelvis and sitting out Friday (Saturday, PHL time) at Sacramento. ... Curry did a 19-minute Skype call this weekend with astronaut Scott Kelly and made sure Kelly and others knew he meant no harm with joke about not believing in the moon landing, according to the Warriors. ... Baron Davis drew big cheers when shown on the scoreboard in the first quarter. UP NEXT Grizzlies: Play the second game of their four-game West Coast trip at Portland on Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time). The Grizzlies beat the Trail Blazers 92-83 at home last Wednesday (last Thursday, PHL time). Warriors: After concluding a four-game stretch playing in California, the Warriors play at Utah on Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 18th, 2018

Dominant defense leads Bears over Rams 15-6

By Andrew Seligman, Associated Press CHICAGO (AP) — Eddie Goldman led a dominant effort by the defense, and the Chicago Bears shut down Jared Goff and Los Angeles' high-powered offense in a 15-6 victory over the NFC West champion Rams on Sunday night. The Rams (11-2) missed a chance to secure a first-round playoff bye and fell into a tie with New Orleans for home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. Goff threw a career-high four interceptions and was sacked three times, with Goldman getting to him for a tiebreaking safety early in the third quarter. Bradley Sowell became the first Bears offensive lineman in 11 years with a touchdown reception when he caught a 2-yarder from Mitchell Trubisky in the third quarter. "For them to go out and do it (against) a team that had only one loss all year long ... is so powerful for our guys now because it helps us grow," coach Matt Nagy said. "It helps us grow with confidence. It helps us grow togetherness. When you teach that and you talk about it over and over and over — as a culture, as a building, everyone together as a family — and then they do it, it lights a fire. It puts us in a great position. We do talk about one game at a time. They're gonna enjoy tonight and then we're gonna get right back in it and get ready for next week." Coming off a shaky outing against Detroit, Goff was 20 of 44 for 180 yards with a 19.1 rating. NFL rushing leader Todd Gurley ran for a season-low 28 yards on 11 carries, and the Rams' three-game win streak came to an end. The Rams' only other loss was at New Orleans. But against the Monsters of the Midway, they managed just 214 yards. "Tonight was a humbling experience for me as a head coach," Los Angeles' Sean McVay said. The NFC North-leading Bears (9-4) bounced back from a wild overtime loss at the New York Giants and won for the sixth time in seven games. Trubisky was about as bad as Goff. After missing the previous two games because of a right shoulder injury, he was 16 of 30 for 110 yards and three interceptions. But Khalil Mack and Akiem Hicks had sacks. Roquan Smith, Prince Amukamara, Eddie Jackson and Kyle Fuller had interceptions, helping Chicago beat the team that came in with the NFL's best record. Goldman broke a 6-6 tie in the opening minute of the third quarter when he sacked Goff for Chicago's first safety this season. The Bears then used a trick play they call "Santa's Sleigh" to make it 15-6, when Sowell hauled in a 2-yarder from Trubisky on a play-action with defensive end Hicks. That made him the first Bears offensive lineman with a TD reception since John St. Clair against Kansas City on Sept. 16, 2017. The Rams had a big opportunity late in the third when John Johnson III returned an interception 35 yards to the Chicago 27. But Fuller picked off a wobbly pass from Goff intended for Josh Reynolds on the next play. Los Angeles' Greg Zuerlein missed a 40-yard field goal off the right upright in the opening minutes of the fourth after making a 50-yarder earlier in the game. INJURIES Rams: CB Dominique Hatfield was taken from the field on a cart with an ankle injury in the third quarter. He was hurt on the kickoff following Sowell's TD. ... C John Sullivan was evaluated for a concussion after being shaken up blocking on a run by Gurley late in the first quarter. But he returned in the second half. Bears: CB Bryce Callahan left the game with a foot injury late in the first half. UP NEXT Rams: Host Philadelphia on Dec. 16. Bears: Host Green Bay on Dec. 16......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 10th, 2018

FIBA WORLD CUP: Gilas Pilipinas absorbs shock upset from Kazakhstan

MANILA, Philippines --- Obviously, this is not the Asian Games. Kazakhstan scored a big-time upset Friday at the MOA Arena here, beating the Philippines, 92-88, in the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers. Losing by 37 points to Gilas in Jakarta a couple of months back in the 2018 Asiad, Kazakhstan would frustrate the Filipinos on their home floor, making the Group F race all the more interesting. After Marcio Lassiter hit a triple to put the Philippines within two, 88-90, with 26 seconds to go, Rustam Yergali found Anton Bykov down low for a crucial layup, giving Kazakhstan a two-possession lead. With 12.7 seconds to work with, Gilas got LA Tenorio a wide-open three but the Ginebra playmaker missed. Bykov was fouled on the rebound but ended up missing two free throws as well but Kazakhstan's four-point lead was more than enough to hold on. With the shock win Kazakhstan win, Gilas Pilipinas is now tied with the red-hot Japan for third place in Group F with identical 5-4 records. Australia maintains pole position with an 8-1 mark after a win over Iran and the Boomers are through to the World Cup next year. Iran is second with a 6-3 record and will face the Philippines Monday in another crucial clash while Kazakhstan is fifth with a 4-5 mark with the Akatsuki Five up next in Toyama. Tied at 79 with 2:39 to go, Gilas took the lead after Tenorio buried a quick jumper of a timeout. However, it was quickly answered by Yergali with a triple for an 82-81 lead for Kazakhstan. Pringle pushed the Philippines ahead for the last time, 83-82, following a driving layup but Nikolay Bazhin scored four straight for Kazakhstan and the visitors took over for good. "Well of course we're disappointed," Gilas head coach Yeng Guiao said. "But we still have one game on Monday and we can't feel too negative about ourselves. I think we can salvage the situation if we're able to play a good game against Iran and learn from this game, the lessons from this game," he added.   STAN THE MAN Stanley Pringle carried the Gilas offense for the first five minutes of the third period, at one point scoring seven straight for a 51-50 lead for the Philippines. Pringle would keep the national team afloat, cashing in on two unsportsmanlike fouls from Kazakhstan to give Gilas a three-point lead before he headed to the bench with a minute and change left in the quarter. In total, Pringle scored 14 points in the third but it was not enough as back-to-back triples from Alexandr Zhigulin and Shaim Kuanov pushed Kazakhstan ahead, 65-62.   WE'RE PLAYING DEFENSE It was a slow start for the two teams, with the defense forcing bad shots on both ends. However, Kazakhstan was getting enough to take a 7-2 lead early before the Gilas responded with a 9-0 run sparked by the San Miguel Beermen. Marcio Lassiter first found June Mar Fajardo for an easy layup before Fajardo returned the favor, setting up his shooter for a booming triple. The Philippines took its first lead of the game after a layup from Lassiter and Fajardo scored on a hook shot to complete the run, forcing Kazakhstan to call a timeout down 7-11. Come the second quarter, the Kazakhstan defense swarmed Gilas, forcing a couple of turnovers in the first minute alone. Anton Bykov cashed in twice, giving the visitors a 23-18 lead and forcing the Filipinos to burn an early timeout. Matthew Wright  would then make things happen for Gilas, and his play was good for eight points as the Philippines forced another tie at 26-all. Still, Kazakhstan would keep its cool and back-to-back triples from Rustam Murzagaliyev from pretty much the same spot capped a 9-2 run for a seven-point lead. The Philippines managed to take over late in the first half, 39-38, with Scottie Thompson and Stanley Pringle sparking a 9-0 blitz. However, Kazakhstan managed to beat the clock for a one-point lead at the break. Pringle was the high man for the Philippines with 29 points while June Mar Fajardo finished with a 14-point, 13-rebound double-double. Marcio Lassiter added 13 points for Gilas Pilipinas. For Kazakhstan, it was Alexandr Zhigulin that led the way with a game-high 30 points while Anton Bykov was good for 20. Rustam Murzagaliyev has 11 points and Rustam Yergali dropped 10 points. The Philippines will next host Iran Monday while Kazakhstan is off to Toyama to take on Japan.   The Scores: KAZAKHSTAN 92 -- Zhigulin 30, Bykov 20, Yergali 12, Murzagaliyev 11, Kuanov 8, Bazhin 7, Marchuk 4, Chsherbak 0, Lapchenko 0, Gavrilov 0. PHILIPPINES 88 -- Pringle 29, Fajardo 14, Lassiter 13, Tenorio 8, Norwood 7, Thompson 6, Wright 5, Aguilar 4, Erram 2, Cabagnot 0, Belga 0, Slaughter 0. Quarters: 17-18, 40-39, 65-62, 92-88.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 30th, 2018

Portugal qualifies for finals, Italy earn positives in draw

By Daniella Matar, Associated Press MILAN (AP) — No Cristiano Ronaldo, no problem. Portugal drew with Italy 0-0 on Saturday to pick up the point it needed to qualify for the UEFA Nations League finals and confirm it as host of the first Final Four in June. Ronaldo is taking a break from the national team and wasn't present at San Siro, just as he wasn't in Portugal's first two Nations League matches — both of which they won. "There's a lot of satisfaction at having reached the final phase," Portugal coach Fernando Santos said. "It was a difficult match, much more than we thought it would be. When we had the ball it was difficult to build and that was merit to Italy and demerit to us. Italy had a great game." Poland has already been assured of finishing last in Group A3 and will be relegated to League B, and Italy will finish second. However, a year after Italian football's darkest moment, there are positive signs for the Azzurri. Italy dominated and had the better of the chances in front of a packed crowd in Milan but ended with a sixth successive home draw. The Azzurri have also scored only twice in four matches in the competition — but only conceded as many. "I don't think there's so many problems up front, it's a question of five centimeters here, 10 there," Italy coach Roberto Mancini said. The Azzurri almost took the lead as early as the fifth minute. Lorenzo Insigne unleashed a scorcher from distance which Portugal goalkeeper Rui Patricio did well to bat away, and Ciro Immobile fired the rebound over from point-blank range. There was a lot of good interplay from the hosts with crisp, efficient passing in the best performance seen by an Italy side in a long time. It was a far cry from Italy's last match at San Siro, when it drew with Sweden 0-0 last November and failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time in six decades. "Little by little we'll manage to sort out the attack, too," Mancini said. "Having so much possession in their half is something very significant. We're a step further ahead than we thought we'd be. We have to resolve this small problem (of scoring) but we will." The fans are also starting to fall back in love with the Azzurri, with 73,000 spectators at San Siro. LEAGUE B Sweden kept alive its hopes of promotion with a 1-0 victory at Turkey, which was relegated to League C. Andreas Granqvist netted the only goal with a second-half penalty after Okay Yokuslu brought down Marcus Berg. Sweden will be promoted on Tuesday if it beats Russia, which leads Group B2. LEAGUE C Scotland will win Group C1 if it beats Israel on Tuesday following a 4-0 victory over 10-man Albania in Tirana. Ryan Fraser scored his first international goal shortly before Albania captain Mergim Mavraj was sent off. Steven Fletcher doubled Scotland's tally from the penalty spot, and James Forrest netted a second-half double. Serbia beat Montenegro 2-1 despite Aleksandar Mitrovic missing a penalty and will win Group C4 if it beats Lithuania on Tuesday. Mitrovic scored Serbia's second, two minutes after Adem Ljajic opened the scoring, before chipping over from the spot. Lithuania lost 3-0 at Romania, which will go up if it beats Montenegro and Serbia fails to win. LEAGUE D Kosovo beat Malta 5-0 and Azerbaijan beat the Faroe Islands 2-0. The teams set up a winner-takes-all clash when they meet on Tuesday in Group D3, although a draw would be enough for Kosovo. The Nations League also offers a second chance to qualify for the European Championship in 2020. The 16 group winners in Leagues A, B, C and D — or the next best-placed teams who have not already qualified via the European qualifiers starting in March — will progress to the playoffs to compete for the last four qualifying places......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 18th, 2018

PBA: Hotshots take commanding 2-0 lead in Manila Clasico

Two-time champion Brgy. Ginebra is officially down for the count. No. 4 Magnolia landed another haymaker Monday, taking a commanding 2-0 lead in the 2018 PBA Governors' Cup semifinals following a 101-97 win over the Gin Kings in Game 2 at the Big Dome. Surviving a late flurry from the Gin Kings, the Hotshots are now one win away from the Finals and ending Ginebra's two-year reign in the Governors' Cup. Similar to Game 1, the Hotshots were in control for most of the game, frustrating the Gin Kings and making them play their game. Magnolia took multiple double-digit leads and had an answer for Ginebra anytime the champs tried to mount a rally. The Gin Kings only really had it going in the fourth after head coach Tim Cone was ejected for a pair of technical fouls. Ginebra cut the deficit down to just three points with 24 seconds to go but LA Tenorio and Justin Brownlee each missed game-tying triples. Romeo Travis then scored one free throw on the other end to seal the final tally.   The Scores: Magnolia 101 - Travis 25, Sangalang 17, Lee 14, Dela Rosa 11, Barroca 9, Jalalon 8, Reavis 6, Melton 5, Simon 5, Herndon 1. Ginebra 97 - Brownlee 31, Tenorio 15, Aguilar 15, Slaughter 14, Thompson 7, Mercado 7, Mariano 4, Chan 2, Caguioa 2, Ferrer 0. Quarters: 21-18, 47-46, 75-68, 101-97.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 12th, 2018

Walker scores 29, leads Hornets to 113-102 win over Hawks

By Richard Walker, Associated Press CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Kemba Walker had 29 points and seven assists, extending his strong start to the season as the Charlotte Hornets beat the Atlanta Hawks 113-102 on Tuesday night (Wednesday, PHL time). Marvin Williams added 20 points for the Hornets (6-5), who won for the third time on a four-game homestand. Walker has scored 25 or more seven times in 11 games. Jeremy Lamb and Malik Monk each had 13 points for Charlotte. Nic Batum scored 10. Playing against his former team, Jeremy Lin had 19 points off the bench to lead the Hawks (3-7), who led by seven late in the first half. The young Hawks started 2018 first-round draft picks Trae Young, Kevin Huerter and Omari Spellman for the first time this season and pushed Charlotte before losing for the eighth time in the last nine meetings. Young finished with 18 points and 10 assists. Kent Bazemore added 16 points. Even after falling behind 81-77 entering the fourth quarter, the Hawks forged an 84-83 advantage with 10:04 to play before the Hornets went on a 19-4 surge to give them a comfortable lead down the stretch. Charlotte eventually led by as many as 15. Neither team led by more than seven until the fourth quarter. Atlanta was up 54-51 at halftime. TIP-INS Hawks: Count first-year Atlanta coach Lloyd Pierce among those who consider Walker one of the NBA's top players. "I'm a huge fan of Kemba. I've known Kemba for a long time. You're seeing a confident and elite scorer," he said. Pierce first met Walker at Nike Elite camps years ago and in August 2017 was a part of the NBA Africa trip with the Hornets' two-time All-Star guard. Hornets: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist dislocated his right pinkie in the first half but returned to play in the second. ... Charlotte coach James Borrego thinks the 20-year-old Young fits the league perfectly. "He fits today's NBA for sure. The minute he crosses halfcourt, he's a threat. He's a guy that can play-make, get to the rim, pass, finish, shoot the ball. The Hawks have a very good point guard for years to come," Borrego said. UP NEXT Hawks: Host the New York Knicks on Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time). Hornets: At the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday night (Saturday, PHL time)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 7th, 2018

MVP Ladder: Hot start pushes Curry to forefront

By Sekou Smith, NBA.com When Kevin Durant raised the Finals MVP trophy in the air in June -- his second straight, mind you -- it was supposed to be over for Stephen Curry. The prevailing wisdom said there was no way the former two-time Kia MVP winner Curry would be able to contend for a third Maurice Podoloff Trophy playing alongside Durant (a former Kia MVP himself). Their individual brilliance would be muted by the collective strength of their partnership as the two best players on the best team in the league. This notion they would continue to split Kia MVP votes made sense given their super team required all of its stars to sacrifice personal glory for the greater team good. That was the thinking before the first nine games of this season ... and then Curry decided to attack things as he did in 2015-16. That season, he went nuclear -- averaging 30.1 points, 5.4 rebounds and 6.7 assists per game while shooting 50.4 percent overall and 45.4 percent on three-pointers -- becoming the NBA's first unanimous MVP winner as the Warriors won an NBA-record 73 games. Durant was still toiling for the rival Oklahoma City Thunder then, sharing the spotlight with another eventual Kia MVP in Russell Westbrook. Curry’s opening salvo this season, though, has been nothing short of staggering. His pace right now -- leading the league in scoring while shooting nearly 55 percent overall and 53 percent on three-pointers  -- could top that 2015-16 season. Doing all this with teammates who could make their own compelling cases for Kia MVP honors makes Curry’s start even more mind-boggling. Both Durant (check out his 25-point fourth quarter at Madison Square Garden) and Klay Thompson (who topped Curry’s three-pointers made record in Chicago) are taking turns showing out, all of which speaks to the Warriors' mastery of a situation that easily could have overloaded these three stars. Curry’s consistent brilliance sticks out in a sea of transcendent scoring performances in the early stages of this season. He was the one who dropped 51 points in 32 minutes in a win over Washington, making 11 of his 16 three-pointers. He went 6-for-11 on three-pointers en route to 29 points when Durant worked the Knicks for 41 points at MSG. When Thompson was in the zone against the Bulls, Curry scored 23 points (on 7-for-9 shooting) in just 25 minutes. And when the New Orleans Pelicans showed up to Oracle Arena Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time), Curry lit them up for 37 on 12-for-20 shooting and a 7-for-11 night on three-pointers. That's all why Curry sits atop the first Kia Race to the MVP Ladder this season. And if he keeps this up, there’s no reason Curry won't be in the thick of this season's MVP conversation when the dust settles. The top five in the Week 1 edition of the 2018-19 Kia Race to the MVP Ladder: * * * 1. Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors Season stats: 33 points, 5.9 assists, 5.0 rebounds Here's the kind of damage Curry is doing so far: he’s not only leading the league in scoring, but doing so while shooting a preposterous 54.9 percent overall and an equally bonkers 52.9 percent on three-pointers. Scoring around the league is on the rise this season, and perhaps no one is taking more advantage of the freedom of movement rule the way Curry has. He’s scoring from everywhere, against any and everyone whenever he wants in a system built around his skills. He’s got one of the league’s early 50-point games (51 points, vs. Washington), and, given the way he’s shooting now, could go for another 50-spot at any time. That’s a warning for the Minnesota Timberwolves, who will see Curry today. 2. Kawhi Leonard, Toronto Raptors Season stats: 27.3 points, 7.8 rebounds, 3.2 assists Leonard is off to a monstrous start with Toronto, shattering that pesky myth that he was a product of a system in San Antonio. Anyone who forgot just how devastating a two-way player he could be after his nine-game run with the Spurs last season should have a clearer understanding of what he can do when healthy. Just ask Philadelphia 76ers stud Ben Simmons, who couldn't praise Leonard enough after matching wits with the two-time Kia Defensive Player of the Year. “He’s a freak,” Simmons said after turning the ball over 11 times while being guarded by Leonard on Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time). “His hands are huge. He’s got long arms. He’s a great defender.” The scary part for the rest of the league? Leonard is shooting as good or better than ever on three-pointers (44.4 percent) while logging a career-high 34.7 minutes. And, technically, he is still undefeated in a Raptors uniform (he got a rest day for Bucks-Raptors). 3. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks Season stats: 26.1 points, 13.7 rebounds, 5.1 assists It took a franchise-record 24 made three-pointers for the Boston Celtics to hold off Antetokounmpo and the Bucks Thursday night (Friday, PHL time) at TD Garden. It was the Bucks’ first loss this season, but it wasn’t because the "Greek Freak" didn’t show up. He roasted the Celtics for 33 points (on just 22 shots), 11 rebounds, three steals and two assists. The increased floor spacing that comes with the arrival of coach Mike Budenholzer has allowed Antetokounmpo to put opposing defenders in compromising positions. His three-point shot is still in the development stage, but if Budenholzer can help transform that part of his game (as he did for Al Horford and Paul Millsap in Atlanta), the rest of the league will be on notice. As for Antetokounmpo's groove elsewhere on the court, it has made him virtually unstoppable when he’s in attack mode. 4. Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans Season stats: 25.2 points, 13.0 rebounds, 5.2 assists, 3.2 blocks Had there been a top five after the first four games of this season, Davis would have been a runaway pick for the No. 1 spot. He was that good in powering New Orleans' 4-0 start. But the Pelicans have lost four straight and three to the four games since as Davis deals with nagging right elbow pain. Davis missed back-to-back games against Utah and Denver, then played Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time) against the Warriors. It was clear he wasn’t at his best, as he had 17 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists. (Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry held him out in a road loss to the Portland Trail Blazers.) Davis hasn’t been shy about proclaiming that he’s chasing both Kia MVP and Kia Defensive Player of the Year honors, a double-dip that only half a handful of players could realistically set as a goal. The talent and high ceiling have never been in question. His availability to chase such lofty goals, however, remains a question at times. 5. Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers Season stats: 29.1 points, 6.0 assists, 5.1 rebounds Lillard entered this season as determined to prove his team’s early 2018 playoff exit wasn't a true measure of Portland's status. Still, getting swept by the Pelicans sent the Blazers into the offseason with tons of questions and skeptics. Since the first whistle of training camp, Lillard has gone about the business of answering those questions. He’s averaging career-highs in points (29.1), field goal percentage (49.7 percent), three-point percentage (40 percent) and free throw percentage (94 percent). The Blazers finished their recent four-game road trip at 3-1, which included wins against Orlando, Indiana and the struggling Houston Rockets. Thursday night’s (Friday, PHL time) win over the Anthony David-less Pelicans was fueled by Lillard’s team-high 26 points, seven rebounds and six assists. Saturday night’s home game against LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers could be another opportunity for Lillard and Co. to show they aren’t stepping aside for anyone. * * * The next five 6.  Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets 7.  Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors 8.  Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz 9.  LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers 10.  Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers And five more: Jimmy Butler, Minnesota Timberwolves; DeMar DeRozan, San Antonio Spurs; Blake Griffin, Detroit Pistons; Kyrie Irving, Boston Celtics; Victor Oladipo, Indiana Pacers 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 NewsNov 3rd, 2018

Rookie Ladder: Mavericks Doncic starts on top

By Drew Packham, NBA.com Welcome back to another season of the Rookie Ladder. If you’re like me, there’s nothing you love more than watching the first-year players find their way in the NBA. This will be my 11th season covering the rookies (first for SI.com, now here) and it has yet to grow old. The beauty of covering rookies is that every season provides something that will surprise you. There are so many storylines, so many angles to keep an eye on. Players break out. Players flop. Players live up to expectations. Players fail to live up to expectations. Players have incredible performances. Players have awful performances. But yet, night in and night out, across virtually every arena, there’s something intriguing and exciting to watch. Each week, in this space, I’ll do my best to highlight the Top 5 rookies (and another five just missing the cut) and rank them on the Ladder according to their standing on the season. Last year, the Ladder was primarily a video released each week with my Top 5 rookies, but this season I’ll be able to write a little more and dig deeper into the ups and downs of the rookie class. So, with all that said, here’s the inaugural Rookie Ladder for the 2018-19 season. (All stats through Thursday, Nov. 1, PHL time) * * * 1. Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks Through the first week, Doncic has been the most consistently entertaining rookie and it’s difficult to pick one aspect of his game to feature. Do you like step-back 3-pointers? Check. Do you dig floaters in the lane? You’ll see several a game. How about court vision and slick passes? He’s got it. The thing with Doncic is he looks so comfortable being the Mavs’ leader, and the season is just two weeks old. He’s already the team’s leading scorer (19.6 ppg, first among rookies) and put up 31 points and eight rebounds in a tough 113-108 OT loss in San Antonio on Monday (Tuesday, PHL time). The only knock on Doncic so far are the turnovers (4.0 against 4.4 apg), but that should improve as he acclimates to his teammates and the style of play in the NBA. If you haven’t tuned in to a Mavs game, now’s the time. Doncic is must-see TV and earns the top rung to start the season. 2. Deandre Ayton, Phoenix Suns The No. 1 overall pick has lived up to the hype early in the season, averaging a double-double (16.9 ppg, 10 rpg) while giving Phoenix the dominating inside presence it has long desired. Devin Booker is dealing with a sore hamstring, but when the pair has been on the floor together, they’ve been a tough duo to defend. Drop down on the massive Ayton? He’ll kick it to Booker or his other shooters. Defend Booker on the perimeter? He’ll drop it in to get Ayton going inside. “He’s going to be a force down there the whole season,” Booker said. “I feel like teams are going to have to figure out what they want to do.” Ayton is shooting at a 61.6-percent clip (85.7 pct. on free throws) and he’s fourth among rookies in assists (3.3 apg), so it’s clear he’s comfortable passing out of the post. He’s going to be in the Kia Rookie of the Year chatter all season and while he may not be as exciting as Doncic and Young, his efficiency and dominance should give him a great shot at claiming the award. 3. Trae Young, Atlanta Hawks The No. 5 pick has been hit-or-miss in the early going, but his big games have been impressive. In the Hawks’ third game of the season, Young erupted for 35 points and 11 assists, while going 6-for-14 from 3-point land in a 131-117 loss to the Grizzlies. He’s only the third rookie since 2000 to top 35 and 10. The other two? LeBron James and Stephen Curry. But Young followed that outburst with a stretch of three games in which he was 11-for-37, going 2-for-15 from beyond the arc. This is likely what we’re going to see from Young throughout this season -- briliant performances followed by typical rookie struggles. Still, it’s clear Young can play. He leads all rookies in assists (6.6 per game) and he’s not turning the ball over at a terrible rate (3.0 per game). The Hawks are Young’s team, so he’ll have every opportunity to shine, which should keep him high on the Ladder all season. 4. Marvin Bagley III, Sacramento Kings At 5-3, the Kings are one of the early surprises of the season, and Bagley has been a big reason for their success. Working with the second unit, Bagley has been key as Sacramento has looked to push the tempo. While Bagley was more of a typical post-up player at Duke, he’s best when running the floor and finishing in transition. The Kings are winning, and Bagley is putting up decent numbers in just 23.3 minutes per game. Among rookies, he’s currently fourth in scoring (12.4 ppg) and second in rebounding (7.1 rpg), while shooting 53.4 percent overall and 5-for-9 from 3-point land. His most notable performance came Oct. 23 (Oct. 24, PHL time) in a 126-112 loss to the Nuggets in which he finished with 20 points, nine rebounds and five blocks in 32 minutes. Bagley could see his minutes increase as he improves, but he’s making the most of his minutes so far, which should keep him high on the Ladder. 5. Josh Okogie, Minnesota Timberwolves Okogie is one of the season’s early surprises as he’s made the most of his opportunity in Minnesota. After not seeing the floor in the Wolves’ first two games, Okogie got his chance when Jimmy Butler rested a game, then saw heavy action with Andrew Wiggins out with a quad contusion. In six games, the No. 20 pick out of Georgia Tech is averaging 9.8 points (8th among rookies) and 5.3 rebounds (sixth). More notably, he leads rookies in steals per game (1.7), which will certainly endear him to coach Tom Thibodeau. “You just like him,” Thibodeau said after Okogie scored 17 to help the Wolves beat the Lakers 124-120 on Monday (Tuesday, PHL time). “You just like his energy, and he makes things happen.” He’s struggling from the floor (38.3 percent), but his energy and defense could make him hard to bench once Wiggins returns. For now, though, he’s earned his rung on the Ladder. Just missed the cut: Jaren Jackson, Memphis Grizzlies Through six games, Jackson is averaging 11.5 points (6th among rookies), 5.2 rebounds (7th) and 1.0 blocks (4th) in 22.7 minutes. Scored in double-digits in the first four games, but has just 10 points in last two games while seeing playing time dip due to foul trouble. Mo Bamba, Orlando Magic Fifth in rebounding (5.4 rpg) and leads rookies in blocks at 2.0 per game (ninth among all players). Also managing to put up almost two 3s a night (at a 38.5 percent clip) while seeing around 20 minutes of action. Wendell Carter, Jr., Chicago Bulls Fourth in rebounding (6.3 rpg) in just over 25 minutes per game. Field goal percentage down for a big man (43.6 percent) but he’s scored in double-digits in last three games. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, LA Clippers Has been solid as Clippers’ backup. His ability to get to the rim and defend has earned him a spot in the rotation and even crunch-time minutes. Averaging 8.4 points and 3.6 assists (4th), while picking up a steal per game. Collin Sexton, Cleveland Cavaliers Has scored in double-digits in his last four games, averaging 14.3 points in that span. His ability to get to the line (nine times in each of last two games) may be his best feature. His career-best 17 points helped Cleveland get its first win Tuesday night (Wednesday, PHL time), and it will be interesting to see how his role changes under interim coach Larry Drew. 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Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 2nd, 2018