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Gary Harris scores 36 points, Nuggets beat Suns 134-111

By Brent W. New, Associated Press DENVER (AP) — Gary Harris scored 28 of his 36 points in the first half and the Denver Nuggets used a big third quarter to beat the Phoenix Suns 134-111 on Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time). Harris tied his career-high in points, finishing 14-of-17 from the field. Nikola Jokic added 14 points, nine rebounds and eight assists to help the Nuggets snap a two-game slide and improve to 13-4 at home this season. Wilson Chandler added 17 points, Trey Lyles had 16, and Jamal Murray had 13. Denver used a 37-18 third quarter to take control. Devin Booker led Phoenix with 17 points and Greg Monroe filled in for starting center Tyson Chandler and had 16 points and 10 rebounds. Marquese Chriss added 16 points, Josh Jackson 14 and TJ Warren 13. The Suns had some issues getting to Denver after their 104-103 comeback victory over the Atlanta Hawks in Phoenix on Tuesday night (Wednesday, PHL time). Waiting at Sky Harbor International Airport until 2 a.m., the Suns were finally sent home as mechanical problems delayed their flight until noon. When they finally arrived at the Pepsi Center, a red-hot Harris welcomed them. Harris hit his first eight shots and finished the opening quarter 9-of-10 from the field. He had 20 points in the first 10:34, including a nifty reverse layup that fooled two defenders. His driving layup late in the quarter put the Nuggets up 34-22. The Suns responded, though, outscoring Denver 45-27 in the final 13:09 of the half. They shot 16-of-21 from the field in the second and led 67-61 at the break. Denver took over after that, as the Suns hit only 5 of their first 28 shots in the third. TIP-INS Suns: C Tyson Chandler (rest) sat out, while Monroe got the start for his first game action since Dec. 21 (Dec. 22, PHL time). ... Jackson, the Suns’ first-round draft pick,  logged 24 minutes after not playing for the first time this season Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time). Nuggets: Chandler blocked Warren at the basket in the final seconds of the first half and Jokic picked it up and heaved a full-court pass to Harris, who tapped in a layup at the buzzer. Harris finished the half 12-of-13 from the field. ... SG Will Barton played despite illness and 12 points. . PF Juancho Hernangomez (coach’s decision) missed his fourth straight game. The 22-year-old Spaniard has logged only three minutes of playing time in the team’s last nine games. ... Broncos general manager John Elway sat courtside. ... PF Kenneth Faried had four points and two rebounds in his first action since Dec. 15 (Dec. 16, PHL time). UP NEXT Suns: At San Antonio on Friday night (Saturday, PHL time). Nuggets: Host Utah on Friday night (Saturday, PHL time)......»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnJan 4th, 2018

Saric scores 20 as Sixers rally to beat Nuggets 107-102

DENVER (AP) -- Dario Saric had 20 points and nine rebounds and keyed a second-half run to lead the Philadelphia 76ers over the Denver Nuggets 107-102 on Saturday night (Sunday, PHL time). JJ Redick had 18 points, Robert Covington had 15 points and 10 rebounds and Jarrod Bayless scored 14 points for the 76ers. Philadelphia played without star center Joel Embiid, who flew directly from Portland to Phoenix, where the team will join him for Sunday's (Monday, PHL time) game. Embiid is averaging 24 points and 11 rebounds per game. The 76ers are 2-7 when he does not play. Jamal Murray led Denver with 31 points and had eight rebounds; Nikola Jokic had 19 points, 13 rebounds and six assists; and Gary Harris had 17 points. The Nuggets looked like they had control with 11 straight points to start the third to go up 72-58, but Philadelphia responded with a 25-4 run to lead 83-76. Trey Lyles gave Denver some momentum with a 37-foot 3-pointer at the buzzer to cut the deficit to three. Lyles finished with 16 points and eight rebounds. Bayless sparked Philadelphia with eight points in the first 1:06 of the fourth for a 91-80 lead. Jokic got Denver within 103-100 with two free throws with 1:01 left, and after Bayless missed on the other end, the Nuggets had a chance to tie. Will Barton missed a three-pointer with 25 seconds left, and Philadelphia called a timeout after Saric grabbed the rebound. Covington drained two fouls shots with 19.5 seconds left to put the Sixers ahead by five and clinched it with a dunk after Murray hit two free throws. TIP-INS Sixers: Covington had his left middle finger taped but was able to play. He was listed as doubtful after the morning shootaround but got treatment and started. ... The Sixers improved to 9-10 on the road. ... Richaun Holmes had 14 points off the bench. Nuggets: Denver had four players in double figures by halftime. Murray led the way with 18. ... The Nuggets finished December 6-7 and failed to have consecutive winning months for the first time since 2012-13. ... Denver committed just four fouls in the first half. UP NEXT Sixers: Play at Phoenix on Sunday night (Monday, PHL time). Nuggets: Host the Suns on Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 31st, 2017

Millsap scores 36 as Nuggets top Thunder 126-125 in OT

By CLIFF BRUNT ,  AP Sports Writer OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Paul Millsap scored a season-high 36 points to help the Denver Nuggets beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 126-125 in overtime on Friday night. Nikola Jokic had 23 points and 16 rebounds, and Will Barton added 18 points for the Nuggets, who had lost two straight and desperately needed the win for the Western conference playoff race. Denver entered the night two games out of the No. 8 spot. Russell Westbrook had 33 points, 13 assists and nine rebounds, but he missed what would have been a game-winning 3-pointer at the end of regulation. Carmelo Anthony scored 23 points and Jerami Grant added 16 for the Thunder, who have lost four of five. Those losses have been by a combined nine points, with none by more than four. Denver led 122-121 in overtime and had the ball before the Thunder tied up Jamal Murray and forced a jump ball with 15 seconds left. The Thunder got possession on the jump ball, but Denver's Mason Plumlee blocked Grant's layup. Millsap made two free throws at the other end to put Denver up 124-121. Paul George was fouled with 4.6 seconds left. He made the first free throw, then the Thunder were called for a lane violation on George's intentional miss. Barton made two free throws on the other end to seal it. Millsap scored 15 points in the first half to give Denver a 62-58 lead. The Nuggets scored the first six points of the second half, including two buckets by Millsap, to go up 10. The Nuggets expanded their lead to 15 later in the quarter and took a 92-79 advantage into the fourth. Oklahoma City's reserves helped the Thunder climb back into the game. Westbrook tied the game at 94 on a drive when the Nuggets were called for goaltending, and the Thunder finally took a 99-97 lead on a 3-pointer by Grant. Barton made a layup with nine seconds left to tie the score at 114. Westbrook missed a deep three in the closing seconds, and the game went to overtime. ___ TIP-INS Nuggets: Shot 52.2 percent in the first half. ... F Wilson Chandler left the game with a nose contusion. ... G Gary Harris missed his seventh straight game with a right knee strain. Coach Michael Malone said he expects Harris to miss at least another week. Thunder: Opened the game with a 9-0 lead. ... Made just 15 of 26 free throws. ... Made a franchise-record 20 3-pointers. UP NEXT The Nuggets host the Milwaukee Bucks on Sunday. The Thunder play at the New Orleans Pelicans on Sunday......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 31st, 2018

DeRozan scores 15, Raptors beat Nuggets 114-110

By Ian Harrison, Associated Press TORONTO (AP) — DeMar DeRozan, Jonas Valanciunas, and Fred VanVleet each scored 15 points and the Toronto Raptors beat the Denver Nuggets 114-110 on Tuesday night (Wednesday, PHL time). Jakob Poeltl scored all of his 12 points in the fourth quarter, including eight straight for Toronto at one stretch. Serge Ibaka had 13 points, Pascal Siakam 12 and Kyle Lowry 11 as the Raptors improved to 31-7 at home. Toronto, which lost to the Clippers on Sunday (Monday, PHL time), avoided what would have been its fifth two-game losing streak. The Eastern Conference-leading Raptors have yet to lose three consecutive games this season. Nikola Jokic had 29 points and 16 rebounds, and Paul Millsap scored 20 points for the Nuggets, who lost their second straight and fourth in six games. Jamal Murray scored 15 points and fellow Canadian Trey Lyles had 13 for the Nuggets. Up 85-82 through three quarters, Denver reeled off five straight points in the first minute of the fourth to open an eight-point advantage. Toronto answered with a 13-2 spurt over the next four minutes. Denver called timeout after VanVleet's driving layup gave the Raptors a 95-92 lead with 6:55 to play. Toronto led 111-101 after Poeltl capped his outburst with a layup with just over a minute left. Back-to-back three-pointers by Murray and Wilson Chandler cut it to 111-107 with 18 seconds remaining. After VanVleet made a pair of free throws, Jokic banked home a three to make it 113-110 with 10 seconds to go, but Denver couldn't get any closer. Lowry scored nine points in the first and Wright banked home a half-court heave at the buzzer to give Toronto a 25-23 lead after one. Denver shot 1-for-8 from three-point range in the first, but went 8-for-8 at the free throw line. A triple by Lyles gave Denver a 47-39 lead with 5:43 left in the second but Valanciunas scored eight points and Ibaka had six as the Raptors rallied to tie it at 58 at halftime. Millsap scored 12 points in the third. TIP-INS Nuggets: Leading scorer Gary Harris (right knee) missed his sixth straight game. ... Jokic had eight assists. ... Denver shot 14-for-21 in the second. Raptors: Toronto is 19-11 against Western Conference opponents. ... Lowry and DeRozan each had eight assists. UP NEXT Nuggets: Conclude a seven-game road trip at Oklahoma City on Friday (Saturday, PHL time). Raptors: Visit Boston on Saturday (Sunday, PHL time). The Raptors and Celtics meet twice in Toronto's next three games......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 28th, 2018

Nuggets use big second-half run to beat Suns 123-113

By Jack Magruder, Associated Press PHOENIX (AP) — Wilson Chandler scored 26 points, Will Barton had 25 point and the Denver Nuggets used an extended second-half run to take control in a 123-113 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Saturday night (Sunday, PHL time). Nikola Jokic had 21 points, nine rebounds and seven assists, and Gary Harris had 13 points for the Nuggets, who have won 4-of-5. TJ Warren had 31 points and Dragan Bender had a career-high 23 for the Suns, who have lost five in a row, 10-of-11 and 13-of-15. One of those wins came in Denver on Jan. 19 (Jan. 20, PHL time). Their only other victory in that stretch was against Dallas at home. Barton scored 11 points during a 21-9 run that gave the Nuggets a 94-89 lead after three quarters, and Denver scored the first five points of the fourth quarter for a 13-point cushion. Jokic’s three-pointer from the top of the key made it 109-95 with 6:29 remaining, capping a longer 36-15 run. Marquese Chriss’ fast-break dunk closed the Suns’ deficit to 109-103 with 4:29 remaining, but Barton hit a three-pointer and Chandler hit two from the right corner to put away the game. Elfrid Payton made a strong first impression for the Suns with 19 points, nine assists and six rebounds in 35 minutes. He was acquired from Orlando at the trade deadline Thursday (Friday, PHL time). Josh Jackson had 20 points, seven rebounds and five assists. The Suns played without leading scorer Devin Booker, Tyson Chandler and Tyler Ulis. Booker, who is 12th in the league with 24.1 points per game, has missed the last three games with a hip pointer. Chandler was out with a neck injury and Ulis with back spasms. Phoenix made a much better showing than in the previous game Wednesday (Thursday, PHL tiem), a 129-81 loss to San Antonio that tied the Suns’ worst ever. They set the record against Portland on opening night this season. TIP-INS Nuggets: The Nuggets are one of six teams within 3.5 games of each other in the race for the final four playoff spots in the West. Suns: Phoenix was 14-of-25 from the free throw line, with Warren 5-of-9 and Josh Jackson 0-of-3. BOOKER UPDATE The Suns have only two games remaining until the All-Star break, but there is no plan to keep Booker and his sore hip out until after the break as precautionary measure. “It depends completely on his injury,” Suns interim coach Jay Triano said. “I don’t think it makes sense to rush him back if he is not a hundred percent or there is chance of re-injury or causing some long-term damage. “He wants to play. He is down in the gym shooting. He shoots a little bit and then he starts to move and it kind of hits him where this doesn’t feel great.” Booker has missed three straight games with a hip injury after missing one game two weeks ago with a rib injury. UP NEXT Nuggets: Host Spurs on Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time). Suns: Visit Warriors on Monday (Tuesday, PHL time)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 11th, 2018

Lyle scores career-high 26 as Nuggets beat Jazz 99-91

DENVER (AP) -- Trey Lyles scored a career-high 26 points, Jamal Murray also had 26 points and the Denver Nuggets beat the Utah Jazz 99-91 on Friday night (Saturday, PHL time). Lyles also grabbed seven rebounds. He averaged 21 points and 7.5 rebounds in the two home games against his former team to help the Nuggets split the season series with the Jazz. Denver outscored the Jazz 38-16 in the third quarter after trailing by three at halftime. Donovan Mitchell had 15 points, seven rebounds and seven assists, Ricky Rubio also scored 15 points and Derrick Favors had 14 points and 10 rebounds for Utah. The Jazz have lost 12-of-15 since starting the season 13-11. The game was tied at 56 when Murray hit a three-pointer, was fouled and made the free throw to start a 20-5 Denver run. Nikola Jokic, who missed his first four shots of the third quarter, capped the run with his first three-pointer to give the Nuggets a 76-61 lead with 3:37 left in the third. Lyles converted a three-point play to extend the lead to 17, and Will Barton's three-pointer in the final minute of the period gave Denver an 84-65 lead heading into the fourth. The lead was 21 early in the fourth before Utah made a run to close within eight in the final minute. TIP-INS Jazz: Nuggets president Josh Kroenke played for coach Quin Snyder at Missouri from 1999-2004. "Josh was my first recruit," Snyder said. "You could count on Josh to do what he could do to help you win a game. That's probably the best compliment you can give a player, and that's how he's running his team." ... C Rudy Gobert will have his injured left knee reevaluated next week. He has been out since Dec. 15 (Dec. 16, PHL time). ... Utah lost for the third time when holding an opponent to fewer than 100 points. Nuggets: Barton was feeling better after battling flu-like symptoms the past couple of days. He finished with 12 points and eight assists. ... G Gary Harris had 13 points two days after matching his career-high of 36. UP NEXT Jazz: At Miami on Sunday (Monday, PHL time). Nuggets: At Sacramento on Saturday night (Sunday, PHL time)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 6th, 2018

Nikola Jokic scores 28 points, Nuggets beat Grizzlies 104-92

DENVER (AP) - Nikola Jokic scored 14 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter and had 13 rebounds and eight assists to help the Denver Nuggets beat the Memphis Grizzlies 104-92 on Friday night (Saturday, PHL time). Gary Harris and Jamal Murray added 15 points apiece, and Kenneth Faried had 14. The Nuggets won their fifth straight at home. JaMychal Green had 21 points for the Grizzlies in their seventh loss in a row. It's the longest losing streak for the Grizzlies since a seven-game skid from Nov. 1-11, 2009. It also was Memphis' first loss in its last five games in Denver. Marc Gasol and Tyreke Evans scored 15 points apiece for the Grizzlies. Trailing by 16 at the half, the Grizzlies put together an 11-0 run capped by Dillon Brooks' driving reverse layup to pull to 74-69 and outscored Denver 5-2 over the last 90 seconds of the third quarter to get within two points. Jokic scored three consecutive baskets to start the fourth to help the Nuggets regain some separation. His jumper off a feed from Harris put Denver up 88-79 with 6:31 remaining. Jokic and Juan Hernangomez each connected from three-point range over the next 1.5 minutes and just like that Denver was leading 95-81. Memphis fought back to 97-89 on a three-pointer by Mario Chalmers but the Nuggets closed the door in the last 1:38, getting a three-point play from Jokic and a put-back dunk by Faried to fend off the Grizzlies. Denver opened a 61-45 lead at halftime, getting nine-point quarters in the first from Murray and the second from Jokic to help etablish a double-digit advantage. TIP-INS Grizzlies: A left Achilles' tendon injury has forced Mike Conley to miss a fifth consecutive game. No official word yet on when he's expected to return. ... Friday's (Saturday, PHL time) contest marked David Fizdale's 100th career game as the Grizzlies' head coach. He is 140-50 since being hired ahead of the 2016-17 season. Nuggets: Team doctors have discovered ligament damage in F Paul Milsap's left wrist and he will be sidelined indefinitely. The team has not indicated whether he will need surgery. Initially, Milsap's injury was announced as a sprain. He was injured in a loss last Sunday at the Los Angeles Lakers. UP NEXT Grzzlies: Return home to host Brooklyn on Sunday night (Monday, PHL time). Nuggets: Get a three-day stretch between games before playing at Utah on Tuesday night (Wednesday, PHL time)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 25th, 2017

Murray scores 31 as Nuggets beat Pelicans 146-114

By Brent W. New, Associated Press DENVER (AP) — Jamal Murray scored 31 points and the Denver Nuggets had the NBA's highest-scoring game of the season in a 146-114 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday night (Saturday, PHL time). Nikola Jokic added 13 points and 11 rebounds for his eighth double-double of the season as the Nuggets improved to 7-2 at the Pepsi Center. Gary Harris had 22 points in his return after a two-game absence with right shoulder soreness. Anthony Davis had 17 points and five rebounds for New Orleans before he left the game with a concussion in the opening minute of the third quarter. Davis was inadvertently hit in the face by Jokic's head as the Nuggets center was backing him down with the ball. The Pelicans trailed by as many as 27 points in the opening quarter but pulled within 66-58 on Davis' jumper seconds before he went down with the injury. The Nuggets took advantage of the Pelicans without their All-Star big man and outscored them 40-22 the rest of the way in the third. Emmanuel Mudiay's three-pointer before the buzzer made it 106-80. Denver surpassed the 142 points Houston scored against Phoenix just one night earlier for the highest total in the league this season. Denver hit nine consecutive shots to jump out to a 25-4 lead. Three of its starters were in double figures by the end of the quarter: Murray had 11 points while Harris and Paul Millsap each had 10. The Pelicans answered, outscoring Denver 48-29 in the final 14:19 of the half. Rajon Rondo raced the length of the court for a layup at the buzzer to pull New Orleans within eight. TIP-INS Pelicans: C DeMarcus Cousins had 14 points, while Rondo and G Jrue Holiday each had 13. E'Twaun Moore had 16 off the bench. ... Rondo made his second consecutive start of the season after returning from surgery to repair a core muscle injury earlier in the week. ... G Tony Allen missed his fourth straight game with soreness in his left knee. Nuggets: C Mason Plumlee (core strain) was cleared to play after undergoing an MRI earlier in the day. ... Millsap had 20 points and Mudiay had 19. ... Denver Broncos linebackers Von Miller and Brandon Marshall sat courtside. UP NEXT Pelicans: Host the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday (Tuesday, PHL time). Nuggets: Begin a three-game road trip Sunday (Monday, PHL time) against the Los Angeles Lakers......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 18th, 2017

Jokic scores career-high 41 as Nuggets beat Nets 112-104

DENVER (AP) — Nikola Jokic had a career-high 41 points, Will Barton and Paul Millsap scored 17 apiece and the Denver Nuggets beat the Brooklyn Nets 112-104 on Tuesday night (Wednesday, PHL time). Jokic also had 12 rebounds, two steals and two blocks. He left the game early in the fourth still shy of his career high of 40 points set Feb. 10 (Feb. 11, PHL time) against New York but returned late in the fourth. He scored two quick buckets and then fouled out. The Nets starters couldn’t match Jokic’s output. The five combined for 40 points and watched from the bench as Jokic outscored them with his four points late in the game. Tyler Zeller came off the bench to lead Brooklyn with a season-high 21 points. Only three Nets were in double figures. D’Angelo Russell had 12 points a night after scoring 23, and Timofey Mozgov scored 11. Jokic scored in bunches, and each time he helped Denver extend leads. He had 11 points in the second when the Nuggets led by 13, and he scored 14 more in the third to help push the lead to 86-61. Brooklyn went on a 13-4 run in the final 2:59 to make it a closer game. TIP-INS Nets: F Rondae Hollis-Jefferson was out with a right hip contusion suffered in Monday’s (Tuesday, PHL time) win at Phoenix, and F Trevor Booker missed his third straight game with a sore lower back. Coach Kenny Atkinson said Hollis-Jefferson will be evaluated Wednesday. Nuggets: Barton tied a season high with eight rebounds. ... Gary Harris had six steals. ... Denver has won three straight against Brooklyn. ... The Nuggets have two games left on their season-long six-game homestand. UP NEXT Nets: Continue their five-game trip at Portland on Friday night (Saturday, PHL time). Nuggets: Welcome former Denver star Carmelo Anthony when Oklahoma City visits Thursday night (Friday, PHL time)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 8th, 2017

DA s 2018 NBA Offseason Rankings: The Bottom 10

By David Aldridge, TNT Analyst Wonder what the rental market is like in San Luis Obispo, Calif. San Luis Obispo is, give or take a few miles, one of the closest cities that is near the midway point between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Given the events of the NBA’s offseason, it’s not hare to imagine national reporters are going to be spending a lot of time in California next season, bouncing back and forth between the Bay and L.A. Catch LeBron James and the Lakers on Wednesday and then, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and the Warriors on Thursday. The Western Conference only got stronger and deeper with James leaving Cleveland for a second time, this time to go to the Lakers. Add four of the top five Draft picks -- including No. 1 overall selection Deandre Ayton (Phoenix Suns), No. 2 pick Marvin Bagley III (Sacramento Kings) and international phenom Luka Doncic (No. 3 pick, acquired by Dallas Mavericks) -- going to Western Conference teams, and the talent disparity between conferences only seems greater. But did Eastern Conference teams take advantage of Cleveland deflating to make their teams better? And how effective were West teams in making their teams better prepared to at least compete with the Warriors? That’s where this year’s Offseason Rankings come in -- big, bold, definitive. You love them, if the amount of hate tweets and e-mails I get after they’re published are any indication. Every year, we rank how all 30 teams have done since the end of their respective seasons. We look at everything -- how they drafted, what trades they made, what players they signed in free agency, and for how much -- or if they didn’t participate in free agency much at all. We look at if they’ve changed coaches, executives, owners, or if they’re moving into a new building that can generate big revenues. And you have to decide which ones you liked the most. Here's what these rankings ARE NOT: A predicted order of finish for next season. It's an opinion that seeks to answer a question: is the team better now than at the end of last season? The ranking reflects the belief on whether, and how much, that is so. (I liked certain guys who were in the Draft more than others, so if your team took them, I probably weighed it more positively. Doesn't mean I'm right.) I do not expect the Suns, for example, to have a better record than the Celtics, just because they had a better summer. It is not a ranking of the teams in order from 1 through 30 right now; I do not believe the Mavericks are now a better team than Rockets. This is just one person’s opinion about offseason moves -- offseason moves only. Is your team better now than it was before? - If your team is ranked in the top 10, it doesn't mean I love your team.       - If your team is ranked in the bottom 10, it doesn't mean I hate your team. It's an opinion that seeks to answer a question: is the team better now than at the end of last season? The ranking reflects the belief on whether, and how much, that is so. (I liked certain guys who were in the Draft more than others, so if your team took them, I probably weighed it more positively. Doesn't mean I'm right.) What plays into the rankings: - This isn’t science. It’s an educated guess, weighing the impact both of the Draft and free agency, but also assessing whether teams got value in their free-agent signings. Overpaying the right player is as much a sin as signing the wrong player. A good new coach can coax some more wins out of a roster. But if a team’s players don’t believe in the system their team uses, the best Xs and Os on earth don’t matter.       - Teams that are rebuilding obviously have different priorities than teams making a championship push. That's factored in. So Chicago, for example, gets credit for adding young, affordable players as it stockpiles its talent -- but that talent has to fit together, as Wendell Carter Jr. does with Lauri Markannen. And a team like the Warriors that shows it’s willing to go deep into the luxury tax -- which most teams try to avoid -- in order to keep winning has to be commended, and its rankings reflect that commendation.       - Continuity matters here as well. The most successful teams usually not only identify a core group of players, they keep them together for a while, finding that sweet spot: everyone doesn’t get a max contract, but most get paid well enough to keep the train moving down the tracks. That reflects both good roster construction and good financial management -- and, again, is rewarded. The explosion in the cap means everyone has to spend; keeping your powder dry for another day doesn’t have as much cache as it used to. But you still have to manage your money wisely. Salary numbers, with a couple of exceptions, come from Basketball Insiders, whose Eric Pincus does the best job of anyone in the game of keeping track of all the moving financial parts, quickly and accurately -- which is why we use him at NBA TV during the Draft and free agency to tell us what the hell this all means. The Bottom 10 * * * 21. DETROIT PISTONS 2017-18 RECORD: 39-43; missed playoffs ADDED: Coach Dwane Casey; New executive Ed Stefanski; G Bruce Brown (No. 42 pick, 2018 Draft); G Jose Calderon (one year, $2.3 million); C Zaza Pachulia (one year, $2.3 million); G/F Glenn Robinson III (two years, $8.3 million); G Khyri Thomas (No. 38 pick, 2018 Draft) LOST: Former coach Stan Van Gundy; G Dwight Buycks (waived); F/C Eric Moreland (waived); F Anthony Tolliver (signed with Wolves) RETAINED: None THE KEY MAN: F Blake Griffin. And he will be for some time. The Pistons need him to be his former All-Star self again, able to take slower defender to the basket, able to stretch the floor if he plays the five in small-ball lineups. They need him to be a playmaker, to get Reggie Jackson more looks off the ball and Andre Drummond some high-low lobs at the rim. They need him to sell tickets at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit’s revitalized downtown -- a building that seems to be more for the NHL’s Red Wings than the NBA’s Pistons. And they need Griffin to be an anchor that draws players to the Motor City during the life of his extension. THE SKINNY: Owner Tom Gores agonized over firing Van Gundy, but he finally did so, and was fortunate that Casey was available and willing to step right back into the fray after being cashiered in Toronto. Casey will be quite in his element building a defense around Drummond, but, like Van Gundy, Casey will need Jackson to stay healthy; he’s missed a combined 67 games the last two seasons. Detroit did well for not having a first-round pick to come out of the Draft with two solid guard prospects deep in the second in Thomas and Brown. However, the new coaching staff will have to get more out of the team’s last three first-rounders: Stanley Johnson (2015), Henry Ellenson (2016) and Luke Kennard (2017). 22. BOSTON CELTICS 2017-18 RECORD: 55-27; lost in Eastern Conference finals ADDED: G Brad Wanamaker (one year, $838,000); C Robert Williams (No. 27 pick, 2018 Draft) LOST: G Shane Larkin (signed to play in Turkey); F Abdel Nader (traded to Thunder) RETAINED: C Aron Baynes (two years, $10.6 million); F Jabari Bird (two years, $3 million), G Marcus Smart (four years, $52 million) THE KEY MAN: F Gordon Hayward. All indications are he’s well on his way back from that horrific injury he suffered on opening night last season. He can do so many great things in coach Brad Stevens’ system, and if he’s 100 percent by the playoffs, Boston may well be the one team that can match up, player for player, with Golden State in a Finals meeting. (Remember this when people inevitably say I ranked the Celtics 23rd in offseason moves.) THE SKINNY: Boston got its biggest work done after Smart couldn’t loosen up an offer sheet from the Sacramento Kings or Dallas Mavericks, and eventually worked out a deal for less than he sought to return. Smart’s deal puts Boston in the tax for the foreseeable future, but the Celtics knew that was the next step in keeping a Finals-capable core group together. With Kyrie Irving and Hayward expected back on line Stevens can throw so many different lineups out there, all committed to stifling opponent movement with long, switching defenders led by Smart, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. Williams was worth an end of the first flier, though he didn’t get off to a great start. If he gets a good wake-up alarm on his phone, he has a chance to be the Celtics’ center of the future. 23. PHILADELPHIA 76ERS 2017-18 RECORD: 52-30; lost in Eastern Conference semifinals ADDED: F Wilson Chandler (acquired from Nuggets); F/C Mike Muscala (acquired from Hawks); G Zhaire Smith (No. 16 pick, 2018 Draft); G Landry Shamet (No. 26 pick, 2018 Draft); G Shake Milton (No. 54 pick, 2018 Draft) LOST: Former GM Bryan Colangelo (resigned); F Justin Anderson (traded to Hawks); G Marco Belinelli (signed with Spurs); F/C Richaun Holmes (traded to Suns); F Ersan Ilyasova (signed with Bucks); G/F Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot (traded to Thunder) RETAINED: C/F Amir Johnson (one year, $1.5 million); G T.J. McConnell (picked up team option); G J.J. Redick (one year, $12.2 million) THE KEY MAN: G Markelle Fultz. His rookie year laid waste by a combination of injury and the yips -- which the Sixers have finally copted to -- Fultz is reportedly rebuilding his shot successfully under the learned eye of development coach Drew Hansen. If that carries over to the fall, Fultz will get a true opportunity (he had some cameos late in his rookie season) to show a skeptical Philly fan base he was worth the top pick in 2017, and worth Philly trading up to get him. He definitely could fill a need with the 76ers for a second playmaker to go with and occasionally in place of reigning Kia Rookie of the Year winner Ben Simmons. But if Fultz has another setback, physically or otherwise, it will be hard for him to stick much longer in Philly -- not a town known for patient reflection with regard to its sports teams. THE SKINNY: Coach Brett Brown was quite clear when he said the Sixers were hunting for a superstar this summer with the cap space they’d assiduously cleared the last couple of years. But the summer has come and gone and there’s no LeBron, no Kawhi, no trade, at least not yet, for Jimmy Butler or anyone else at that level. Belinelli and Ilyasova both played huge roles for Philly in the playoffs; maybe Fultz (see above) takes on some of that role, and Chandler will help. But this doesn’t feel like a successful offseason for one of the real risers in the East. 24. PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS 2017-18 RECORD: 49-33; lost in first round ADDED: G Seth Curry (one year, $2.7 million); G Nik Stauskas (one year, $1.6 million); G Anfernee Simons (No. 24 pick, 2018 Draft); G Gary Trent Jr. (No. 37 pick, 2018 Draft) LOST: G/F Pat Connaughton (signed with Bucks); F/C Ed Davis (signed with Nets); G Shabazz Napier (signed with Nets); C Georgios Papagiannis (waived) RETAINED: C Jusuf Nurkic (four years, $48 million) THE KEY MAN: Assistant coaches David Vanterpool, Nate Tibbets, Dale Osbourne, Jim Moran, John McCullough and Jonathan Yim. With the Blazers mostly landlocked the next two seasons -- they’re currently above the projected luxury tax line both for next season and 2019-20 -- there aren’t likely going to be many significant roster changes for a while. And in the West, especially, standing pat is often falling behind. It will thus fall to Portland’s excellent staff behind coach Terry Stotts to maximize the production of the current group. They can point with some pride to success stories like Will Barton and Allen Crabbe, now in Denver and Brooklyn, respectively, along with Maurice Harkless and Al-Faroqu Aminu. For Portland to take another step up, they’ll have to coach up someone like 2017 first-rounder Zach Collins or this year’s first-rounder, Simons. They must have them exceed expectations to become a third legit star behind Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum. THE SKINNY: Lillard insists the rumblings heard in some quarters that he’s unhappy in Portland aren’t true, and the franchise better hope he’s being honest. The decisions the Blazers made in 2016 continue to lock them in place; if they catch a favorable first-round matchup (a grumbling Rockets team in 2014; an injury-strafed Clippers squad in 2016), they can advance a round. But last year’s 4-0 sweep by the New Orleans Pelicans had to give everyone pause. How does Portland respond mentally? Re-upping Big Nurk in the middle on a very reasonable deal -- $12 million for a starting center was the going rate five years ago, when the Wolves gave Nikola Pekovic a five-year, $60 million contract -- was necessary. But losing Davis, a locker room and fan favorite for superior work ethic, will hurt, even though Collins should sop up a lot of those minutes. 25. ORLANDO MAGIC 2017-18 RECORD: 25-57; missed playoffs ADDED: Coach Steve Clifford; C Mohamed Bamba (No. 6 pick, 2018 Draft); G Isaiah Briscoe (three years, $3.9 million); F Melvin Frazier (No. 35 pick, 2018 Draft); F Jerian Grant (acquired from Bulls); F Justin Jackson (No. 43 pick, 2018 Draft); F Jarrell Martin (acquired from Grizzlies); C Timofey Mozgov (acquired from Hornets) LOST: C Bismack Biyombo (traded to Hornets); G Mario Hezonja (signed with Knicks); C Dakari Johnson (traded to Grizzlies); G Shelvin Mack (waived); G Rodney Purvis (traded to Thunder) RETAINED: F Aaron Gordon (four years, $82 million) THE KEY MAN: G D.J. Augustin. A vet’s vet, he’s played 10 years in the league and started 226 games for eight teams, including 56 over the last two for the Magic. He’ll enter this season as the unquestioned starter at the point with Elfrid Payton in New Orleans and Orlando still looking to solve its long-term search for a point guard. It’s Augustin’s turn. THE SKINNY: At some point, Orlando’s yearly gambles on size and potential will pay off. Bamba could be the goods; he’s got a demeanor and toughness that should keep him together while he learns the craft at the pro level. But -- again -- it will take some time for Bamba, like 2017 first-rounder Jonathan Isaac, and Gordon, in whom Orlando invested a sizeable sum in July, to flourish. And Magic fans rightly can ask exactly how long they’re to remain patient. Clifford is supposed to improve the defense, but so was Frank Vogel … and so was Scott Skiles … and so was Jacque Vaughn. 26. NEW ORLEANS PELICANS 2017-18 RECORD: 48-34; lost in Western Conference semifinals ADDED: G Tony Carr (No. 51 pick, 2018 Draft); G Elfrid Payton (one year, $3 million); F Julius Randle (two years, $17 million) LOST: C DeMarcus Cousins (signed with Warriors); G Rajon Rondo (signed with Lakers) RETAINED: G Ian Clark (one year, $1.7 million); F Nikola Mirotic (picked up player option) THE KEY MAN: Owner Gayle Benson. Mrs. Benson took control of the team after the death of her husband, Tom, last March. She displayed great grace in the days and weeks after Tom Benson’s death, making it clear at the time she had no interest in selling the team and would continue to make outlays to keep the team competitive. The Pels didn’t blink last summer giving Jrue Holiday $126 million, and that will have to remain the case going forward if New Orleans is to repeat its surprising run to the Western Conference semifinals last spring. THE SKINNY: Can’t lose your starting point guard and your starting All-Star center in one offseason -- no matter what the circumstances -- and come out of it with high offseason marks. And especially when Rondo seemed like the perfect fit for the team. Mirotic mentioned during the Warriors series how good Rondo was at picking him up and connecting him quickly with the team after he was traded to New Orleans from Chicago. And, yes, coach Alvin Gentry mentioned he may have exchanged cusses with Rondo every now and again, too. Life in RondoWorld. The path forward is narrower, but not impassible; Randle can be tantalizing at times, maddening at others, but he could plug-and-play at the four, and he can take some of the playmaking burden off of Holiday. But big minutes on the ball for Holiday again is not what New Orleans had in mind. Payton is going to have to perform immediately. And losing “Boogie” Cousins is a big minus. It’s not what the Pelicans gave up to get him. It’s the fit and flow he had with Anthony Davis before the injury, and what the promise of a return this season could have meant toward carrying the momentum of last year forward. 27. MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES 2017-18 RECORD: 47-35; lost in first round ADDED: F Anthony Tolliver (one year, $5.7 million); G Josh Okogie (No. 20 pick, 2018 Draft); F Keita Bates-Diop (No. 48 pick, 2018 Draft) LOST: C Cole Aldrich (waived); F Nemanja Bjelica (signed with Kings) RETAINED: G Derrick Rose (one year, $1.5 million) THE KEY MAN: Vikings QB Kirk Cousins. He signed for big, big money by NFL standards (three years, $84 million), and the Vikings have Super Bowl aspirations. So all the light will be on the Vikes most of the fall and winter in Minneapolis, keeping it off of the still-young Wolves, who won’t be able to sneak up on anyone after breaking their long postseason drought. THE SKINNY: The Wolves should be positioned to build on their playoff run, especially if Butler can get through a full season healthy and Karl-Anthony Towns adds consistency to his prodigious talents. But they didn’t do much in the offseason, and the team that they beat out on the last day of the regular season, Denver, looks to be much improved. Tolliver should help the Wolves’ depth; they essentially traded him for Bjelica, and he shot slightly better on 3-poiners last season than Belly. Plus, they don’t come better as a guy than Tolliver and he can help Minnesota in the locker room. The issue of Butler’s contract isn’t going away; there will be a reckoning at some point, and he’ll have a lot more options next summer than free agents had this summer. Until then, coach Tom Thibodeau has pretty much the same team that he has to cajole better defense out of next season (22nd in Defensive Rating; 17th in points allowed). 28. CHARLOTTE HORNETS 2017-18 RECORD: 36-46; missed playoffs ADDED: Coach James Borrego; GM Mitch Kupchack; C Bismack Biyombo (acquired from Magic); F Miles Bridges (No. 12 pick, 2018 Draft); G Devonte' Graham (No. 34 pick, 2018 Draft); F Arnoldas Kulboka (No. 55 pick, 2018 Draft); ; G Tony Parker (two years, $10.2 milliion) LOST: G Michael Carter-Williams (signed with Rockets); C Dwight Howard (traded to Nets); C Timofey Mozgov (traded to Magic); G Julyan Stone (traded to Bulls) RETAINED: None THE KEY MAN: C Cody Zeller. It’s a guess -- Borrego could opt for Frank Kaminsky III -- but Zeller would seem to be the replacement at center for Dwight Howard, who wound up in Washington after the Hornets traded him to the Nets. Zeller started 58 games two years ago and was very good in screen and rolls with Kemba Walker. Zeller only played in 33 games last season because of a left knee injury; if he returns to form, the Hornets could pick up offensively and actually have a little more diversity at that end than last season. THE SKINNY: Team owner Michael Jordan cleaned house after a disappointing 2017-18, bringing another Tar Heel back home in the veteran Kupchak. Kupchak dispatched Howard and then got Mozgov’s guaranteed 2019-20 season off his books to take back Biyombo, who’d left Toronto two years ago for $72 million from the Magic and who’s got a player option for 2019-20. Well before then, the Hornets are going to have to decide what to do with Walker, who’ll be one of the top free agents available next summer if Charlotte can’t get him re-signed or extended. The Hornets were 8.8 points worse when the two-time All-Star was off the court rather than on. Nicolas Batum has to make a return to the all-around talent that enticed Charlotte to trade for him and give him a $120 million extension; he averaged just 11.6 points per game last year, his lowest in three years. Howard’s presence in the paint may have clogged things up some, but that’s no longer the case. 29. CLEVELAND CAVALIERS 2017-18 RECORD: 50-32; lost in The Finals ADDED: F Channing Frye (one year, $2.3 million); G Collin Sexton (No. 8 pick, 2018 Draft) LOST: G Jose Calderon (signed with Pistons); F Jeff Green (signed with Wizards); F LeBron James (signed with Lakers); C Kendrick Perkins (waived); F Okaro White (waived) RETAINED: F Kevin Love (contract extension) THE KEY MAN: GM Koby Altman. Altman has a blank slate now after trying to steer a championship-contending ship that had been stripped of a few propeller blades in the last 13 months. With James gone, as well as former GM David Griffin, the 35-year-old Altman has team owner Dan Gilbert’s charge to rebuild the Cavs without taking them down to the studs (as the Cavs did after James first departure in 2010). Altman’s next task after working out Kevin Love’s $130 million extension is clearing the roster of all the veterans brought in the last three years mainly because of their ability to play off of James. THE SKINNY: There weren’t any widespread jersey burnings this time in the Land. James left for L.A. with relative good will from his hometown, having delivered the championship it had waited 52 years for in 2016. Truly, the Cavs’ rebuild started the minute Kyrie Irving demanded a trade; last season seemed more rearguard action than an attack at another title. Extending Love through 2023 with no outs -- keeping him locked with rookie Sexton through the latter’s last controllable season before hitting unrestricted free agency -- gives Cleveland a base upon which to build. Cap room will follow in 2019, but next season will be difficult; Sexton has a lot of toughness and potential, but rookie point guards tend to get their lunch handed to them. 30. MIAMI HEAT 2017-18 RECORD: 44-38; lost in first round ADDED: None LOST: None RETAINED: G Wayne Ellington (one year, $6.2 million); F/G Derrick Jones Jr. THE KEY MAN: G Josh Richardson. Like many of his teammates, Richardson got an extension a couple of years ago -- four years and $42 million. Last season, he was (again) a solid two-way player for Miami -- almost 13 points per game, 84.5 percent from the line, 37.8 percent on 3-pointers. But if the Heat is going to shake out of the middle lane in which it currently seems stuck, Richardson will have to expand. Miami’s current roster makes it complicated; Pat Riley thinks Richardson’s probably more of a two, but he plays mostly three for coach Erik Spoelstra because Miami’s best lineups were small ball ones. Another offseason at P3 in California will help Richardson continue his development. THE SKINNY: No, Heat people: I don’t hate your team. But when you have no Draft picks, and you have no cap space, and thus you literally could do nothing in the offseason, and basically did nothing in the offseason, and your biggest, most newsy event was whether your 36-year-old future Hall of Fame guard will come back for one more season or play over in China … well, what am I supposed to do with that information? Rank you first? The question is, how much better is your team now than it was at the end of last season? It’s essentially the same team; other than the likes of Richardson (see above) or Justise Winslow, it’s not like there’s a great step up expected from Hassan Whiteside or Goran Dragic, is there? The Heat is not any better than last season. It isn’t any worse. It just … is. So, 30. Longtime NBA reporter, columnist and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer David Aldridge is an analyst for TNT. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 8th, 2018

Lou Williams helps Clippers rally from 19 down to beat Nuggets

By Dennis Georgatos, Associated Press DENVER (AP) — Lou Williams scored 25 points and Boban Marjanovic added a season-high 18 as the Los Angeles Clippers overcame a 19-point deficit in the third quarter to beat the Denver Nuggets 122-120 on Tuesday night (Wednesday, PHL time). Austin Rivers added 17 points and Montrezl Harrell had 15 for the Clippers, whose bench outscored Denver's reserves 54-4 in the second half. Gary Harris had 23 points to lead the Nuggets, who lost consecutive games at home for the first time this season. Paul Millsap had nine points and seven rebounds in 23:26 minutes of play in his return from a left wrist injury that had sidelined him for the last three months. Leading by six at the half, the Nuggets stretched their lead to 19 points on a layup by Harris but the Clippers fought back to within seven points going into the fourth quarter, outscoring the Nuggets 18-6 over the last 4 1-2 minutes of the third. The Clippers scored the first eight points of the fourth and moved in front 89-88 on Harrell's layup, their first lead since the first quarter. Denver pulled to within a point on a layup by Wilson Chandler but the Clippers scored three consecutive baskets, capped by a dunk by Marjanovic for a 115-108 lead with 3:14 remaining. The Nuggets were down 119-118 after Harris' three-pointer with 15.1 seconds remaining. The Nuggets then fouled Williams who made both free throws and Jamal Murray made a pair of free throws with 8.1 seconds to go. Rivers was fouled and made one of his two free throws with seven seconds left, but Denver did not get a final shot off before the buzzer when Murray lost the ball as he drove toward the basket, poked away by Rivers in a game-sealing defensive play. Will Barton had all 19 of his points in the first half, helping the Nuggets take a 58-52 lead. Millsap entered the game for the first time midway through the first quarter — his first action since tearing a left wrist ligament Nov. 19 (Nov. 20, PHL time) against the Los Angeles Lakers. He muscled in a layup for his first points of the game and banked in a three-pointer from 26 feet away to culminate a 17-4 burst over the last four minutes of the open period. TIP-INS Clippers: F Danilo Gallinari, formerly a member of the Nuggets, missed the game against his old team because of a bruised right hand. ... G Avery Bradley remains sidelined by a sports hernia. Nuggets: F Torrey Craig missed a fifth consecutive game with a left hamstring strain but coach Michael Malone said he is making progress and could possibly be ready Friday night (Saturday, PHL time) when the team plays at Memphis. UP NEXT Clippers: Completes a back-to-back set Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time) by hosting Houston. Nuggets: Open a three-game road trip Friday night (Saturday, PHL time) at Memphis......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 28th, 2018

Rockets beat Nuggets 119-114 for 12th straight win

By Michael Kelly, Associated Press DENVER (AP) — James Harden had 41 points and eight rebounds, Chris Paul scored 23 points and the Houston Rockets beat the Denver Nuggets 119-114 on Sunday night (Monday, PHL time) for their 12th straight victory. Harden had 27 in the first half and seven in the fourth quarter, when the Rockets held off a late Denver rally. Harden has scored 40 or more points nine times this season. He finished with seven assists. Nikola Jokic had 21 points and 14 rebounds for Denver, which had its four-game winning streak snapped. Will Barton added 25 points. The Rockets are 21-4 since Dec. 29 (Dec. 30, PHL time) and own the best record (46-13) in the NBA. They are outscoring teams by an average of 12.5 points during the 12-game winning streak. The five-point win Sunday (Monday, PHL time) was their closest game during the streak. Harden scored 14 points in the last 2:47 of the first quarter and assisted on Houston's other two baskets to end the period when the Rockets extended the lead from five to 13. Houston led by as many as 18 but Denver rallied in the fourth. Jokic's tip with 2:12 left made it 110-106 and after Joe Johnson missed from the corner, Gary Harris had a chance to cut it to a point with a three-pointer. But the Nuggets' leading scorer, who finished with six points on 2-of-12 shooting, misfired and Harden hit two more free throws to make it 112-106 with 1:17 left. His step-back jumper with 46 seconds left clinched it for Houston. TIP-INS Rockets: Harden was fouled three times on three-point attempts and converted one four-point play. ... G Eric Gordon missed his second straight game due to illness and third overall. ... C Nene did not play against his former team. Nene is being rested on back-to-back games and will play Monday (Tuesday, PHL time) in Utah. Nuggets: Jamal Murray had 19 points. ... Jokic was two assists shy of his fourth consecutive triple-double. ... G Devin Harris had four fouls in four minutes of the first half. The Rockets scored 12 points on those plays. ... F Torrey Craig missed his second straight game a left hamstring strain and hasn't played in the last four overall. UP NEXT Rockets: At Utah on Monday night (Tuesday, PHL time). Nuggets: Host the L.A. Clippers on Tuesday night (Wednesday, PHL time)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 26th, 2018

Jokic s triple-double leads Nuggets over Spurs, 122-119

DENVER (AP) — Nikola Jokic had 28 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists before fouling out, Wilson Chandler had 18 points and a season-high 16 rebounds, and the Denver Nuggets beat the San Antonio Spurs 122-119 on Friday night (Saturday, PHL time). Jokic has a triple-double in three straight games and six this season, but didn't stick around for the finish. He was called for five fouls in the fourth quarter and fouled out on a charge with 1:46 left. Gary Harris scored 23 points to help Denver win its fourth straight and seventh in its last eight. LaMarcus Aldridge had 36 points and Patty Mills scored 20 for San Antonio. The Spurs lost for the sixth time in seven games despite the return of Aldridge, who missed the last two games before the All-Star break to rest his sore right knee. He looked strong Friday (Saturday, PHL time), hitting 13-of-23 shots and 12-of-14 free throws. The Spurs rallied from down nine in the fourth to take a two-point lead late in the game. They were 14-of-17 from the line in the fourth quarter but couldn't hold on. With the game tied at 114, Harris made a layup to put Denver up for good. Mills made a free throw and Harris scored on a step-back jumper and then a dunk with 45 seconds left to make it 120-115. After Aldridge hit a jumper to cut it to three with 33 seconds left, Mason Plumlee's dunk with 10 seconds to play sealed it. TIP-INS Spurs: Pau Gasol had 12 points and 12 rebounds. ... Denver's 63 points were the most San Antonio has allowed in the first half this season. ... F Rudy Gay returned from a right heel injury and played 19 minutes. Gay missed 23 games. ... G Danny Green (illness) did not play. Nuggets: F Plumlee returned after missing eight games with a right calf strain. ... G Will Barton missed practices Wednesday and Thursday (Thursday and Friday, PHL time) due to strep throat but was able to play. ... F Torrey Craig was out with a left hamstring strain. UP NEXT Spurs: At Cleveland on Sunday afternoon (Monday, PHL time). Nuggets: Host Houston on Sunday night (Monday, PHL time)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 24th, 2018

Curry goes off again, Warriors top Nuggets for 5th straight

By Janie McCauley, Associated Press OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) - Stephen Curry scored 32 points and dished out nine assists in another superb performance during his sensational recent stretch, and the Golden State Warriors beat the Nuggets 124-114 on Monday night (Tuesday, PHL time) to avenge an ugly home loss to Denver in late December. Nikola Jokic had his first triple-double of the season with 22 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists as four players scored 20 points or more for the Nuggets, who were coming off a 106-98 loss at Sacramento on Saturday (Sunday, PHL time). Klay Thompson scored 19 on his bobbblehead night while Draymond Green added a season-high 23 points and 10 assists in the defending NBA champions' fifth straight victory on a night when Kevin Durant sat out his third consecutive game with a strained right calf. In his 12th 30-point game of the season, Curry hit a long three-pointer with 56.1 seconds left in the third and the Warriors led 93-81 going into the final quarter after the Nuggets had fought back to tie it midway through the period. The two-time MVP has scored 29 or more points in seven straight games. In four games before Monday (Tuesday, PHL time), he was averaging 36 points, six rebounds, 4.8 assists and 1.3 steals in 31.8 minutes since returning from an 11-game absence with a sprained right ankle. The Western Conference Player of the Week for last week, Curry strained his left knee in the first half, headed to the locker room to have it taped and then returned. Golden State's David West contributed 10 points, scoring in double figures for a third straight game to go with six rebounds and four assists while becoming the 127th player in NBA history to play in 1,000 regular-season games. Thompson made his initial four shots and Green scored eight quick points, connecting on his first three field goal attempts. He dished out five assists as Golden State raced ahead 27-20 -- a far cry from the Warriors' previous performance in a 96-81 loss to Denver at Oracle Arena on Dec. 23 (Dec. 24, PHL time). The Warriors shot 3-for-27 in that game from three-point range but topped that with four three's in the first quarter Monday (Tuesday, PHL time) and finished 13-for-30 from deep. Thompson's three-pointer with 4:10 left in the third made it 78-71 after Denver had tied the game 89-all at the 6:57 mark of the period. The Nuggets held the Warriors to a season-low scoring performance here last time that snapped their 11-game winning streak. Golden State has won 7-of-8 since. Denver got 22 points from Gary Harris, and 21 apiece from Jamal Murray and Trey Lyles. DURANT UPDATE Kerr said Durant "didn't feel quite right" after going through shootaround earlier in the day. "We're all on the same page that until he feels right, he's not going to play," Kerr said. "Hopefully the next couple of days he'll clear that hurdle and be ready to go." GREEN FINED Green was fined $25,000 by the NBA for publicly criticizing the league's officiating in comments after Golden State's 121-105 win against the Clippers on Saturday (Sunday, PHL time). CURRY THE OWNER? Curry has people helping him explore options to buy into the NFL's Carolina Panthers. Jerry Richardson announced he plans to sell the franchise while he is under investigation for sexual and racial misconduct in the workplace. "It's a pretty interesting opportunity," Curry said after Monday's (Tuesday, PHL time) shootaround. "I've had conversations with plenty of people about the right way to go about it and kind of the different approaches I could personally take. Obviously I have a day job, but I've got people that are plugged in and trying to see how to make that happen. I've had nothing really to say about it besides that I'm very interested and very willing to do what it takes to make that happen." TIP-INS Nuggets: Denver limited its turnovers to 11 after committing a season-high 26 at Sacramento two days earlier that led to 40 Kings points. ... Denver is 3-11 on the road vs. Western Conference teams. Warriors: Andre Iguodala hit his first three-pointer in nine games he's played since Dec. 18 (Dec. 19, PHL time), snapping an 0-for-12 funk from deep when he made one in the first. ... Golden State rookie Jordan Bell took a hard fall in the second quarter and moved gingerly afterward. ... Newly crowned U.S. figure skating national champion and Olympian Nathan Chen attended the game, watched Curry's warmup, and was set to meet him afterward. UP NEXT Nuggets: Host the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time). Warriors: Host the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time) seeking a 13th consecutive victory in the rivalry......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 9th, 2018

Nuggets stop Warriors 11-game winning streak, 96-81

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Gary Harris scored 19 points to lead a balanced Denver offense and the Nuggets stopped the Warriors' 11-game winning streak with a second impressive road victory in two nights, beating Golden State 96-81 on Saturday (Sunday, PHL time). Nikola Jokic added 18 points and nine rebounds and Jamal Murray had 14 points, six rebounds and five assists for the Nuggets after their Friday (Saturday, PHL time) win at Portland. They held the defending NBA champions to a season-low for points. Kevin Durant had 18 points and six rebounds in a particularly poor shooting performance for the typically efficient NBA Finals MVP. He was 6-for-17 and missed all five of his three-point attempts as the Warriors shot 38.6 percent. Draymond Green had 10 points, six assists and five rebounds in his second game back after missing 5-of-6 with soreness in his right shoulder. He took a sharp elbow to the face from Jokic with 7:27 remaining and went down hard. Klay Thompson scored 15 for the Warriors. A night after posting his first career double-double with season-bests of 20 points and 10 rebounds, Warriors rookie Jordan Bell contributed seven points and 10 rebounds. Patrick McCaw's floater with 7:13 to go pulled Golden State to 82-71, but the Warriors couldn't do much more to fight back. The Warriors were sloppy, lacked a flow on offense, looked a step behind most of the night and never got rolling trying to play catch-up much of the evening. Fans headed for the exits with a few minutes left, a rare sight at Oracle Arena. Golden State has regularly relied on big third quarters this season, and Saturday (Sunday, PHL time) it couldn't even muster a strong fourth after going into the final period down 73-62. It was also the second night of a back-to-back for the Warriors, who beat the Lakers at home on Friday (Saturday, PHL time). Golden State shot 39.5 percent in the first half - 1-of-11 on three-pointers - while committing 10 turnovers to fall behind 53-41 at the break. Harris had his second strong game after missing one contest with a bruised elbow. The Nuggets had lost five straight on Golden State's home floor dating to a 100-99 win at Oracle Arena on April 10, 2014. It was an especially slow start for Golden State, which began 6-for-18 - with Durant going 1-for-5 and Thompson missing his initial four shots as the Warriors shot 7-for-21 in the opening quarter. CURRY UPDATE Stephen Curry did extensive on-court work during pregame warmups and appeared to be moving well on his sprained right ankle, though the two-time MVP isn't going to play Monday (Tuesday, PHL time) against Cleveland as coach Steve Kerr has said it wouldn't be right to do so unless his superstar was at full strength. ''I watch him after practice and have been really encouraged by his workouts. He's moving well. Looks like he is gaining confidence in that movement. As far as the first question, Bob [Myers], myself, the training staff and Steph - that's who is involved in the decision,'' Kerr said. ''I can tell that if this were not the Christmas game versus Cleveland in two days, I don't think any of you would even be asking me about it. He hasn't even had a 3-on-3 game. If we weren't playing Cleveland on Christmas and I told you Steph hasn't even played in a 3-on-3 game, hasn't had any contact at all and the game was 48 hours from now, you would say that 'Steph's not going to play,' but because it's the magnitude of the game and everybody wants to know, but we can't let that affect our judgment. He can't play. It would be completely irresponsible if he did.'' Curry has missed seven straight games. TIP-INS Nuggets: Denver capitalized on the Warriors' mistakes, turning 19 turnovers into 21 points. ... Trey Lyles had 15 points and six boards off the bench. Warriors: Golden State's 88 points in a 92-88 loss at Boston on Nov. 16 was its previous season-low. ... C Zaza Pachulia went through what he called a tough workout Saturday morning (Sunday, PHL time) to test the soreness below his left shoulder and remained hopeful of playing Monday (Tuesday, PHL time). ''We'll see,'' Pachulia said. ''I'm going to have another great workout tomorrow.'' He missed his seventh consecutive game and eighth in nine. ... Shaun Livingston sat out his fourth straight game with a sore right knee but got in a solid pregame workout and looked strong running. ... Kerr stuck with his winning starting five from Friday (Saturday, PHL time) after Golden State used eight different starting lineups over the previous nine games. UP NEXT Nuggets: Host the Utah Jazz on Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time). Warriors: Host the Cavaliers on Christmas (Dec. 26, PHL time) in a rematch of the last three NBA Finals......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 24th, 2017

Reggie Jackson scores 23 points, Pistons rout Suns 131-107

By Dave Hogg, Associated Press DETROIT (AP) — Reggie Jackson scored 23 points and the Detroit Pistons beat the Phoenix Suns 131-107 on Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time) for their third straight victory. Tobias Harris and Avery Bradley each scored 20 points, and Andre Drummond had 13 points and matched a career-best with seven assists in Detroit’s highest-scoring game of the season. The Pistons improved to 14-6 overall, 8-2 at home in their first season at Little Caesars Arena, and 7-1 against the Western Conference. Devin Booker led the Suns with 22 points, and rookie Josh Jackson had a career-high 20. Phoenix has lost four out of five and is 1-2 on a six-game trip. The Suns were coming off a 104-99 victory in Chicago on Tuesday night (Wednesday, PHL time), while Detroit had Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time) off after a 10-point victory in Boston. Harris scored 14 points and the Pistons had a season-best 36 points in the first quarter. Detroit shot 62.5 percent in the period to build a 17-point lead. Phoenix continued to struggle in the second, falling behind by 32 points. Detroit led 69-41 at halftime, outshooting the Suns 63 percent to 44.7 percent. Harris had 16 points in the half, and Reggie Jackson added 15. The Pistons led by as many as 36 in the second half. TIP-INS Suns: One night after using seven-footers Tyson Chandler and Dragan Bender as his starting center and power forward in Chicago, Suns coach Jay Triano changed things against the Pistons. Marquese Chriss and former Piston Greg Monroe started, while Chandler didn’t enter the game until the fourth quarter. Pistons: Drummond hit all three free-throw attempts against Phoenix, and is shooting 63 percent from the line this season. Drummond entered the season as the worst free-throw shooter in NBA history, having made 38.1 percent of his attempts over five seasons. UP NEXT Suns: At Boston on Saturday (Sunday, PHL time). Pistons: At Washington on Friday night (Saturday, PHL time)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 30th, 2017

Middleton scores 40 points, Bucks beat Suns in OT

By Jose M. Romero, Associated Press PHOENIX (AP) — Khris Middleton scored 40 points and Eric Bledsoe added 30 in his return to Phoenix, leading the short-handed Milwaukee Bucks to a 113-107 overtime victory over the Suns on Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time). Devin Booker led the Suns with 23 points and hit a long three-pointer as time expired in the fourth quarter to force overtime. But they had four of their season-high 29 turnovers in overtime and shot 1-for-8 in the extra period. Booker missed a chance to tie it seven seconds left in the extra session, and Middleton made four free throws to seal the Bucks' ninth victory of the season. The teams played a back-and-forth final quarter with Phoenix leading by as many as four. Milwaukee tied it at 99 on Thon Maker's jumper with 1:11 to play. The Suns trailed by 15 points in the third quarter against a Milwaukee team missing leading scorer Giannis Antetokounmpo and four other players. Bledsoe was traded to Milwaukee on Nov. 9 (Nov. 10, PHL time) in the deal that brought center Greg Monroe the Suns. Monroe had 22 points and 15 rebounds. T.J. Warren added 20 with 11 rebounds for the Suns. The Bucks played without Antetokounmpo, who was listed as having right knee soreness. The star forward, second in the NBA in scoring at 29.7 points per game, had played at least 35 minutes in each of his last five games. Bledsoe scored 11 of his 17 first-half points in the second quarter, and Middleton had 18 at halftime. Milwaukee led 54-44 at the break. The Suns rallied and took a 70-69 lead on the second of back-to-back 3s from Dragan Bender at the 4:02 mark of the third quarter. But the Bucks went on a 15-5 run helped by a technical foul on Booker, who was unhappy with an offensive foul call for his fourth personal, and took an 84-75 lead into the fourth quarter. BOOS FOR 'BLED' Bledsoe was directed to stay away from the Suns in October after a tweet that seemed to indicate a desire to not be with the Suns, and was eventually traded. Suns fans greeted Bledsoe with a mixture of cheers and boos when he was introduced in the starting lineup, and he received a round of boos when he touched the ball. Bledsoe knocked down his first two shots of the game and was cheered after missing two free throws early in the second quarter. Several fans sitting near courtside held large signs with messages that took shots at Bledsoe. TIP-INS Bucks: Antetokounmpo is expected to return to action Saturday (Sunday, PHL time) at Utah. "His minutes have been a little high early on and we've got to look at our bench," head coach Jason Kidd said. ... The Bucks were also without G Matthew Dellavedova (left knee), F John Henson (eye procedure) and another former Sun, F Mirza Teletovic (left knee). ... Second-year pro Gary Payton II made his first start of the season. Suns: F Jared Dudley (right knee) missed his sixth straight game. ... Tyson Chandler got the start at center after the missing the past three games due to illness. ... The Suns and Bucks are both in their 50th seasons as NBA franchises, and will will play each other in January on the 50th anniversary of the two cities being awarded teams. UP NEXT Bucks: At Utah on Saturday night (Sunday, PHL time). Suns: Host New Orleans on Friday night (Saturday, PHL time)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 23rd, 2017

Nuggets beat Kings 114-98 without coach and 2 starters

By Michael Wagaman, Associated Press SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Will Barton and Trey Lyles made two three-pointers apiece during a big run in the third quarter, and the short-handed Denver Nuggets pulled away to beat the Sacramento Kings 114-98 on Monday night (Tuesday, PHL time). Barton finished with 25 points, six rebounds and five assists in his third start this season for Denver, which played without suspended coach Mike Malone and injured starters Paul Millsap and Wilson Chandler. Nikola Jokic added 16 points and 14 rebounds and Gary Harris scored 20 for the Nuggets, who bounced back after losing by 21 to the Los Angeles Lakers a night earlier. Denver couldn't shake Sacramento until a 19-7 run late in the third quarter sparked by the long-distance shooting of Barton and Lyles. The Nuggets shot 15-of-32 beyond the arc and led by as many as 22 in the final period. Wes Unseld Jr. coached the Nuggets while Malone served a one-game NBA suspension for making contact with a referee in Sunday's (Monday, PHL time) loss. Denver also was missing Millsap, who sprained his left wrist against the Lakers, and Chandler (lower back pain). George Hill and Kosta Koufos scored 16 points apiece to lead six players in double figures for Sacramento. The Kings, who had won their three previous home games against the Thunder, 76ers and Trail Blazers, have lost five of six overall. TIP-INS Nuggets: With Millsap and Chandler out, Unseld went to a three-guard lineup but the offense sputtered in the first half with 11 turnovers. Denver did a much better job after the break and pulled away. Barton shot 9-of-15, including 5-for-6 on three's. ...The Nuggets outscored the Kings 19-6 in second-chance points. Kings: Zach Randolph had 12 points and six rebounds in his third consecutive start at center. ...Buddy Hield missed his second straight game with a sore right ankle. UP NEXT Nuggets: Play at Houston on Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time). The Rockets have won four straight against Denver. Kings: Host the Lakers on Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time). The teams split the season series last year......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 21st, 2017

DeRozan debuts as Spurs new era opens with preseason win

By The Associated Press A new era of San Antonio basketball has begun, with DeMar DeRozan in the lineup and some longtime legends elsewhere. With an offseason of change behind them, the Spurs opened exhibition play Sunday (Monday, PHL time) with a 104-100 victory over the Miami Heat. DeRozan started and scored seven points in 18 minutes in his first game for the Spurs since they acquired him from Toronto in the trade that sent Kawhi Leonard to Toronto. With Leonard traded, Tony Parker signing in Charlotte and Manu Ginobili retiring, it was a far more eventful offseason than usual in San Antonio. But it was a good start for the new pieces. Jakob Poeltl, who came with DeRozan from the Raptors, had six points and 10 rebounds. Hassan Whiteside had 20 points and 13 rebounds for the Heat. ___ SPURS 104, HEAT 100 Rudy Gay led San Antonio with 13 points, making all three three-pointers and 5-of-6 shots in 14 minutes. LaMarcus Aldridge added 10 points. HEAT: Dwyane Wade began his final preseason by coming off the bench for 10 points in 18 minutes. ... Rodney McGruder and Goran Dragic started in the backcourt, with McGruder scoring 15 points and Dragic adding 12. ... Kelly Olynyk shot 1-for-10 for four points. ... Duncan Robinson made three three-pointers and scored 12 points in a city where a Duncan (Tim) and a Robinson (David) once starred together. SPURS: Dejounte Murray, who replaced Parker as starting point guard last season, had eight points in 15 minutes. ... Derrick White scored 12 points. ... Davis Bertans made three three-pointers and scored 10 points. UP NEXT: Miami (0-1) visits Charlotte on Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time). San Antonio (1-0) hosts Detroit on Friday (Saturday, PHL time). CELTICS 115, HORNETS 112 Kyrie Irving scored 20 points on 7-of-14 shooting and Terry Rozier had 13 points, four rebounds, four assists and three steals for Boston. Jayson Tatum had 16 points, including three three-pointers, Marcus Morris made 4-of-6 from behind the arc and finished with 12 points, and Jaylen Brown scored 11. Gordon Hayward was just 1-of-7 shooting and had four points in 21 minutes for the Celtics (1-1). Miles Bridges, picked No. 12 overall in June's draft, made 9-of-12 from the field, including 4-of-6 from three-point range, and finished with 23 points for Charlotte (1-1). Willy Hernangomez added 14 points, Malik Monk 13, including three triples, and Kemba Walker scored 10. CELTICS: Al Horford missed the game due to a right wrist sprain. He is expected to return against Cleveland on Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time). ... Hayward, who suffered a gruesome injury in the opening minutes of the regular-season opener last year, is just 3-of-14 shooting in two games this preseason. He showed some hustle, and confidence in his surgically repaired left ankle, on a chase-down block of a layup by Jeremy Lamb. HORNETS: Tony Parker, who signed a two-year, $10 million contract with Charlotte in July after 17 seasons with San Antonio, did not play. Marvin Williams and Cody Zeller were also healthy scratches. ... Michael Kidd-Gilchrist left the game in the first half and did not return due to concussion-like symptoms. UP NEXT: Charlotte (1-1) hosts Miami on Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time). Boston (1-1) hosts Cleveland on Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time). BULLS 128, PELICANS 116 Antonio Blakeney, Bobby Portis and Zach LaVine scored 21 points apiece for Chicago. The trio combined to make 24-of-42 (57 percent) from the field and 14-of-14 free throws. Jabari Parker, who signed with Chicago as a free agent in July, had 15 points but was just 5-of-14 shooting. Kris Dunn added 12 points and rookie Wendell Carter Jr. scored 11. Frank Jackson and Jrue Holiday each scored 16 points for New Orleans. Jackson shot just 5-of-14 from the field but made 4-of-8 three-pointers. Holiday was 7-of-9 shooting with four assists. BULLS: Lauri Markkanen did not play due to an elbow injury sustained on Thursday (Friday, PHL time) and is expected to miss six to eight weeks. Denzel Valentine (ankle) and Omer Asik (inflammatory arthritis) also missed the game. ... Chicago made just 4-of-18 from three-point range but shot 49.5 percent (49-of-99) from the field. ... Cameron Payne had seven assists. PELICANS: Julius Randle, who signed with the Pelicans as a free agent this offseason, had 15 points, five rebounds and five assists. ... Anthony Davis added 13 points, three steals and two blocks in 15 minutes. ... Nikola Mirotic (sore Achilles tendon) and Darius Miller (shoulder) did not play. ... Frank Jackson, a second-round pick out of Duke in 2017, missed all of last season due to a right foot injury. UP NEXT: Chicago (1-0) plays at Milwaukee on Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time). New Orleans (0-1) visits Atlanta on Monday (Tuesday, PHL time). CLIPPERS 110, SYDNEY KINGS 91 Seven Los Angeles players scored in double figures, led by Tobias Harris who had 20 points, 11 rebounds and five assists. Danilo Gallinari added 19 points, five assists and two blocks. Marcin Gortat, acquired from Washington via trade for Austin Rivers in June, and Patrick Beverly each had 12 points, Montrezl Harrell scored 11 and Lou Williams and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander added 10 points apiece for the Clippers (1-0). Jerome Randle led the Kings (0-1) with 25 points, Kevin Lisch scored 16 with nine rebounds and six assists and Daniel Kickert had 13 points, including three three-pointers. CLIPPERS: Tobias Harris, who shot a career-best 41.4 percent from three-point range last season, made 4-of-7 from behind the arc on Sunday (Monday, PHL time). ... The Clippers had 31 assists on 41 field goals. ... Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, the No. 11 overall pick in June’s draft, added four assists, four steals and a block. SYDNEY KINGS: Andrew Bogut, who played 14 seasons in the NBA and was the first overall selection in the 2005 draft, had eight points, eight rebounds and four assists. ... The Kings made just 12-of-21 from the free-throw line and committed 25 turnovers. UP NEXT: The Clippers play host to Minnesota on Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time). NUGGETS 124, LAKERS 107 Juan Hernangomez led Denver with 19 points and three blocks and Jamal Murray scored 18 on 8-of-12 shooting in LeBron James’ debut with the Lakers. Nikola Jokic and Trey Lyles had 14 points apiece, Malik Beasley and Monte Morris each scored 12 and Mason Plumlee added 11 points for Denver (1-0). JaVale McGee had 17 points on 8-of-10 shooting Brandon Ingram scored 16 for Los Angeles (0-1). Kyle Kuzma added 15 points, despite making just 4-of-13 from the field, and Lance Stephenson scored 12. NUGGETS: Gary Harris (hamstring), Isaiah Thomas (hip), Michael Porter Jr. (back) and Jarred Vanderbilt (foot) did not play. ... Paul Millsap had six points on 1-of-5 shooting in 21 minutes. LAKERS: LeBron James finished with nine points, three rebounds and three assists in 15 minutes. ... Rajon Rondo had 11 of L.A.’s 26 assists and grabbed seven rebounds. ... Rookie Jonathan Williams had eight points on 4-of-5 shooting in 12 minutes, but committed five fouls. ... Lonzo Ball (knee) and rookie Moritz Wagner (knee) did not play. UP NEXT: The Lakers and Nuggets play again on Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time) in Los Angeles......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 1st, 2018

LOOK: Who should rep NBA teams in 3X competition?

With the NBA 3X Philippines Playoffs kicking off this weekend at the SM Mall of Asia Music Hall, the mind inevitably drifts off to imagining how actual NBA players would do in a three-on-three competition. To aid that musing, here are our picks to represent the 30 NBA franchises, should the league decide to have such a tournament. Of course, this was easier for some teams, compared to others, and perhaps that challenge is what makes the mental exercise so intriguing. Disagree with our four-man selections? Let us know in the comments! Atlanta Hawks - John Collins, Taurean Prince, Trae Young, Vince Carter The Hawks go young with their squad, and could have even gone younger, plugging in rookies Kevin Huerter or Omari Spellman into their fourth spot. However, the very chance of 41-year-old Vince Carter dunking on people in a 3X game is too tantalizing to pass up. Boston Celtics - Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward, Al Horford, Jaylen Brown The deep, deep Celtics have plenty of ways to go. You could field a defense-oriented squad with Marcus Smart and Aron Baynes leading the way, or go guns-blazing with Jayson Tatum. However, we're opting for a middle-of-the-road approach here, with the established superstars leading the way, plus the ultra-versatile Jaylen Brown filling the fourth seat. Brooklyn Nets - Spencer Dinwiddie, Jarrett Allen, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Joe Harris The Nets have acquired plenty of veterans in exchange for draft picks over their rebuilding process, and a Jared Dudley-Kenneth Faried-Allen Crabbe-Ed Davis quartet has some appeal. We're opting for some of their younger stars though, and you could definitely make the argument that D'Angelo Russell should be somewhere in the mix too. Charlotte Hornets - Kemba Walker, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Cody Zeller, Nic Batum A pretty obvious selection for Buzz City here. We will possibly revise this if Malik Monk makes a second-year leap. Chicago Bulls - Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine, Wendell Carter Jr., Lauri Markkanen Sure Denzel Valentine and Jabari Parker have claims to a spot, but the above four are definitely the pieces Chicago seems to be building around long-term. Cleveland Cavaliers - Kevin Love, Larry Nance Jr., Cedi Osman, Collin Sexton We'll pretend that Jordan Clarkson is off at Gilas practice and unavailable. Also, JR Smith not knowing the score might be more problematic in a 3-on-3 game, so he'll sit this one out. Dallas Mavericks - Dirk Nowitzki, Luka Doncic, Dennis Smith Jr., DeAndre Jordan The Mavericks' two super-kids in Doncic and DSJ are obvious shoo-ins, as is the venerable Dirk. The fourth spot is a bit up for grabs, but I'm opting here for their offseason acquisition Jordan. Harrison Barnes though would be deserving of the spot too. Denver Nuggets - Paul Millsap, Gary Harris, Jamal Murray, Nikola Jokic This is Denver's core and boy is it a powerful one, though Millsap will probably have to take on the bulk of the defensive chores. It's also tempting to figure out a way to add Isaiah Thomas, who has the potential to go off in such a tournament. Detroit Pistons - Andre Drummond, Blake Griffin, Reggie Jackson, Stanley Johnson Detroit's 'Big Three' of Drummond, Griffin, and Jackson are obvious shoo-ins. The question mark is the fourth guy. Henry Ellenson for a little jack-of-all-trades? Luke Kennard for shooting? In the end, I'm going with Stanley Johnson, crossing fingers that under new coach Dwane Casey, his stats will take a leap forward. Golden State Warriors - Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Kevin Durant With DeMarcus Cousins still iffy with his achilles tear, we'll have to "settle" for GSW's All-Star quartet. Also, we may have found the thing to start a little in-fighting among the Dubs - figuring out who of the four starts on the bench. Houston Rockets - Chris Paul, James Harden, Clint Capela, Carmelo Anthony Maybe there's a possibility that PJ Tucker would be a better fit than Melo, but Chris Paul says Anthony's in, and who am I to argue? Indiana Pacers - Victor Oladipo, Myles Turner, Domantas Sabonis, Bojan Bogdanovic The Pacers surprised many last season, and this quartet was at the center of their uprising. One extremely hard cut? New signing Tyreke Evans, though he would duplicate a lot of what Oladipo brings to the table. Los Angeles Clippers - Avery Bradley, Danilo Gallinari, Tobias Harris, Patrick Beverley, Injuries aside, this is a very potent four-some from the Clips. The Bradley + Beverley combo should put the clamps on anyone, while freeing up Gallo or Harris from downtown. Los Angeles Lakers - LeBron James, Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma I was tempted to go with a Meme Team lineup of Rajon Rondo, Lance Stephenson and JaVale McGee, along with LBJ (and apologies to Michael Beasley), but let's go with the Lakers kids instead. The mix of youth and James' experience ought to be a potent combo.   Memphis Grizzlies - Mike Conley, Marc Gasol, Chandler Parsons, Jaren Jackson Jr. Once upon a time, a Grit 'N Grind four of Conley, Gasol, Tony Allen, and Zach Randolph probably could have run away with this. Instead, we're hoping Parsons is healthy enough to spread the floor, and that Jackson Jr. is as impressive as he was in Summer League. Miami Heat - Bam Adebayo, Goran Dragic, James Johnson, Josh Richardson There are plenty of ways to go with the Heat. Kelly Olynyk was a great addition last offseason. Hassan Whiteside, despite his clashes with the coaching staff, could still submit a dominant performance. A healthy Dion Waiters is a very 3x3-esque player. Oh, and if the Heat bring back Dwyane Wade, he's got to be a shoo-in. All of that said, I like this mix of players, but you can certainly change my mind. Milwaukee Bucks - Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, Eric Bledsoe, Thon Maker The Greek Freak is the centerpiece of any squad you form out of the Bucks. With the way the court is shrunk, you can be sure Antetokounmpo will be everywhere, on both offense and defense. The challenge is finding guys to complement him. Middleton is the obvious pick, while Bledsoe versus Malcolm Brogdon is a bit of a toss-up. To round out the team, I can't help but give the nod to Maker, you know, just in case we need someone to unleash a Mortal Kombat-esque flying kick. Minnesota Timberwolves - Jimmy Butler, Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins, Jeff Teague Coach Thibodeau wouldn't reallllly consider a Butler-Taj Gibson-Derrick Rose trio right? *pause* Let's move on. New Orleans Pelicans - Jrue Holiday, Anthony Davis, Nikola Mirotic, Julius Randle This is as jumbo a line-up as you can get here, with Holiday being the only real guard, and that's what makes this Pelicans team so intriguing. New York Knicks - Kristaps Porzingis, Frank Ntilikina, Kevin Knox, Tim Hardaway Jr. The Knicks go young with Zinger, Frank and the rookie Knox. The only real question is the fourth player. You could make the case for Enes Kanter, or even the resurgent Trey Burke, but my pick here is for THJ for more perimeter scoring. Oklahoma City Thunder - Russell Westbrook, Paul George, Steven Adams, Andre Roberson When this four-some were on the court last season, the Thunder slapped opposing teams into straitjackets and tossed them away into some dark cell. If Roberson's healthy again, this group will probably do the same in 3X. Orlando Magic - Aaron Gordon, Evan Fournier, Jonathan Isaac, Mohamed Bamba It's all about the wingspan for the Magic. Philadelphia 76ers - Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Robert Covington, Dario Saric We're going to trust the process here, and roll out the 76ers' core group. Sure you might want JJ Redick to address the lack of a true knockdown shooter, or roll the dice on the possibility of Markelle Fultz looking like a number one overall pick, but it's hard to argue with the skillset of this four. Phoenix Suns - DeAndre Ayton, Devin Booker, Josh Jackson, Trevor Ariza The first three in the desert are all young and unpolished to varying degrees. That's why we're rounding out Phoenix's squad with veteran Trevor Ariza, in order to show this group how to notch W's. Portland Trail Blazers - Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Jusuf Nurkic, Zach Collins Obviously you go with the Dame-CJ one-two punch. Nurkic, after signing his extension, is a lock too. The question comes with the fourth chair. Evan Turner? Seth Curry? Mo Harkless? Ultimately, my pick is second-year player Zach Collins, as the team could use his hustle, and a guy who doesn't really need a whole lot of touches. Sacramento Kings - De'Aaron Fox, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Buddy Hield, Marvin Bagley III We're going young again here, and it's hard to argue with this Kings quartet. However, don't sleep on Harry Giles, who red-shirted what would have been his rookie season last year. He is primed to break out, based on his Summer League performance. San Antonio Spurs - LaMarcus Aldridge, DeMar DeRozan, Rudy Gay, Dejounte Murray The Spurs throw out a veteran squad, with the exception of the long-armed, defensively-stout Murray. Patty Mills might be a better option if you're worried about the team's lack of shooting, and you could certainly debate slotting in Pau Gasol for Rudy Gay as well. Toronto Raptors - Kyle Lowry, Kawhi Leonard, Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby In the regular season, the Raptors thrived thanks to a deep bench, but that's not an option in 3X. Instead, we'll make defense their calling card, as highlighted by new get Kawhi Leonard. Pairing "The Klaw" with Siakam and Anunoby turns any game into a defensive slugfest, and of course, Lowry is there to run the show. Utah Jazz - Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert, Joe Ingles, Ricky Rubio You could very well make the argument that this is the second-best squad in this field. Washington Wizards - John Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Dwight Howard Guys, when even John Oliver is making fun of Dwight Howard, you know we've all gone too far. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or ABS-CBN Sports......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 24th, 2018

DA s 2018 NBA Offseason Rankings: The Middle 10

By David Aldridge, TNT Analyst Wonder what the rental market is like in San Luis Obispo, Calif. San Luis Obispo is, give or take a few miles, one of the closest cities that is near the midway point between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Given the events of the NBA’s offseason, it’s not hare to imagine national reporters are going to be spending a lot of time in California next season, bouncing back and forth between the Bay and L.A. Catch LeBron James and the Lakers on Wednesday and then, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and the Warriors on Thursday. The Western Conference only got stronger and deeper with James leaving Cleveland for a second time, this time to go to the Lakers. Add four of the top five Draft picks -- including No. 1 overall selection Deandre Ayton (Phoenix Suns), No. 2 pick Marvin Bagley III (Sacramento Kings) and international phenom Luka Doncic (No. 3 pick, acquired by Dallas Mavericks) -- going to Western Conference teams, and the talent disparity between conferences only seems greater. But did Eastern Conference teams take advantage of Cleveland deflating to make their teams better? And how effective were West teams in making their teams better prepared to at least compete with the Warriors? That’s where this year’s Offseason Rankings come in -- big, bold, definitive. You love them, if the amount of hate tweets and e-mails I get after they’re published are any indication. Every year, we rank how all 30 teams have done since the end of their respective seasons. We look at everything -- how they drafted, what trades they made, what players they signed in free agency, and for how much -- or if they didn’t participate in free agency much at all. We look at if they’ve changed coaches, executives, owners, or if they’re moving into a new building that can generate big revenues. And you have to decide which ones you liked the most. Here's what these rankings ARE NOT: A predicted order of finish for next season. It's an opinion that seeks to answer a question: is the team better now than at the end of last season? The ranking reflects the belief on whether, and how much, that is so. (I liked certain guys who were in the Draft more than others, so if your team took them, I probably weighed it more positively. Doesn't mean I'm right.) I do not expect the Suns, for example, to have a better record than the Celtics, just because they had a better summer. It is not a ranking of the teams in order from 1 through 30 right now; I do not believe the Mavericks are now a better team than Rockets. This is just one person’s opinion about offseason moves -- offseason moves only. Is your team better now than it was before? - If your team is ranked in the top 10, it doesn't mean I love your team.       - If your team is ranked in the bottom 10, it doesn't mean I hate your team. It's an opinion that seeks to answer a question: is the team better now than at the end of last season? The ranking reflects the belief on whether, and how much, that is so. (I liked certain guys who were in the Draft more than others, so if your team took them, I probably weighed it more positively. Doesn't mean I'm right.) What plays into the rankings: - This isn’t science. It’s an educated guess, weighing the impact both of the Draft and free agency, but also assessing whether teams got value in their free-agent signings. Overpaying the right player is as much a sin as signing the wrong player. A good new coach can coax some more wins out of a roster. But if a team’s players don’t believe in the system their team uses, the best Xs and Os on earth don’t matter.       - Teams that are rebuilding obviously have different priorities than teams making a championship push. That's factored in. So Chicago, for example, gets credit for adding young, affordable players as it stockpiles its talent -- but that talent has to fit together, as Wendell Carter Jr. does with Lauri Markannen. And a team like the Warriors that shows it’s willing to go deep into the luxury tax -- which most teams try to avoid -- in order to keep winning has to be commended, and its rankings reflect that commendation.       - Continuity matters here as well. The most successful teams usually not only identify a core group of players, they keep them together for a while, finding that sweet spot: everyone doesn’t get a max contract, but most get paid well enough to keep the train moving down the tracks. That reflects both good roster construction and good financial management -- and, again, is rewarded. The explosion in the cap means everyone has to spend; keeping your powder dry for another day doesn’t have as much cache as it used to. But you still have to manage your money wisely. Salary numbers, with a couple of exceptions, come from Basketball Insiders, whose Eric Pincus does the best job of anyone in the game of keeping track of all the moving financial parts, quickly and accurately -- which is why we use him at NBA TV during the Draft and free agency to tell us what the hell this all means. The Middle 10 * * * 11. TORONTO RAPTORS 2017-18 RECORD: 59-23; lost in Eastern Conference semifinals ADDED: Coach Nick Nurse; G Danny Green (acquired from Spurs); F Kawhi Leonard (acquired from Spurs) LOST: Former coach Dwane Casey; G DeMar DeRozan (traded to Spurs); F Alfonzo McKinnie (waived); C Jakob Poeltl (traded to Spurs) RETAINED: G Fred VanVleet (two years, $18.1 million) THE KEY MAN: Nurse. The former Raps assistant has extensive G League head coaching experience. But the NBA isn’t just about a coach’s Xs and Os acumen. We know Nurse can do that. But an NBA coach has to have command presence in a locker room not only full of millionaires, but full of Alpha males who have their own very strong opinions on how they should be used and how their teammates should help them. Nurse will have to show he can put his own stamp on a team that will have some new faces while still having extremely high expectations. THE SKINNY: You may well think Toronto should be higher, based on Leonard’s standing as a top-five player in the league when fully healthy. No matter what you think of DeRozan, a four-time All-Star, no one can realistically say he’s better than “The Klaw” when both are 100 percent. But, of course, we don’t know if Leonard’s 100 percent. And, trading DeRozan, who’d been the franchise’s biggest advocate during his nine seasons there -- and who had led the team to its greatest extended run of success ever -- is not a transaction without consequence for the Raptors. He helped get the best out of Kyle Lowry. He could help recruit free agents. And, the circumstances of his departure have not helped the franchise’s reputation. Still, this is a talent-based league, and Leonard has it. His and Green’s presence on the perimeter gives Toronto the chance to be a switching defensive monster -- and will help the Raptors be able to match up better with the likes of the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers in a late-May playoff matchup, as long as the Raptors’ young core in which it believes so strongly continues to play as well in reserve as it did last season. 12. MILWAUKEE BUCKS 2017-18 RECORD: 44-38; lost in first round ADDED: Coach Mike Budenholzer; G Donte DiVincenzo (No. 17 pick, 2018 Draft); G Trevon Duval; F Ersan Ilyasova (three years, $21 million); C Brook Lopez (one year, $3.32 million); F Pat Connaughton (two years, $3.2 million); LOST: Former interim coach Joe Prunty; G Brandon Jennings (waived); F Jabari Parker (signed with Bulls) RETAINED: None THE KEY MAN: G Eric Bledsoe. His departure from Phoenix early last season was messy. But once he got to Brewtown, Bledsoe solidified the Bucks at the point, averaging 17.8 points and 5.1 assists per game in 71 starts. At 28, Bledsoe faces the last year of his contract and will have to show a new coach he’s capable of running things long-term and playing alongside Giannis Antetokounmpo through the meat of his prime. THE SKINNY: Budenholzer’s arrival should coincide with an improvement in the Bucks’ defense, something that former coach Jason Kidd could never quite accomplish. Ilaysova’s return for a second tour in Milwaukee should help, with his celebrated charge-taking skill and Lopez’s still-substantial size a double-boon to Milwaukee’s interior D as the Bucks were bottom 10 last season in points allowed in the paint (47.4 per game). If the paint becomes a little tougher to traverse, the Bucks should finally able to use their substantial length on the wing to get back to create deflections and turnovers, and get out in transition, where Antetokounmpo and Friends do their best work and their most damage to the opposition. They’ll do so 41 nights a year for the next couple of decades in the 17,500-seat Fiserv Forum, the Bucks’ new arena that will open in early September with a concert and should pump new revenues into the Bucks’ bloodstream, giving them more financial wherewithal to keep “The Greek Freak” surrounded with high-quality talent. 13. UTAH JAZZ 2017-18 RECORD: 48-34; lost in Western Conference semifinals ADDED: G Grayson Allen (No. 21 pick, 2018 Draft); G Jarius Lyles; G Naz Mitrou-Long LOST: F Jonas Jerebko (waived) RETAINED: G Dante Exum (three years, $33 million); F/C Derrick Favors (two years, $37.6 million), G Raul Neto (two years, $4.4 million); F Georges Niang (three years, $4.9 million) THE KEY MAN: C Rudy Gobert. He’s a monster presence, the hub of the Jazz’s defensive wheel and the reigning Kia Defensive Player of the Year. And he has to take a step back in Utah next season for the Jazz to take the next step forward. He has to understand what Utah has in Donovan Mitchell and let that kid eat. Nobody in the league can do what Gobert does defensively. So embrace that and concentrate on that -- take the Draymond Green attitude about being the “defensive guy” on a great team (not that Jazz fans want you to do anything that Green does). Gobert’s handsomely paid and the DPOY award found him in Salt Lake City; there’s no small-market bias at work here. So let Mitchell and Joe Ingles carry the shooting/scoring load, let Ricky Rubio orchestrate, and snuff out opponent dreams at the other end, night after night. It’s what you were born to do. THE SKINNY: My God, Mitchell had a great rookie season. And Utah brought most of the band back from last season to provide advice and consent for him again, re-signing Favors, Exum and Neto each on very reasonable contracts. Doing so leaves Utah over the cap, still comfortably under the tax, and with nothing on the books that should raise an eyebrow financially. (Utah’s front office should handle my checking account for a while.) Anyway, no reason to expect any backsliding next season with the crew returning, though coach Quin Snyder will surely miss the counsel of his longtime friend Igor Kokoskov, off to run the Suns. 14. ATLANTA HAWKS 2017-18 RECORD: 24-58; missed playoffs ADDED: Coach Lloyd Pierce; F Justin Anderson (acquired from 76ers); G Kevin Huerter (No. 19 pick, 2018 Draft); C Alex Len (two years, $8.5 million); G Jeremy Lin (acquired from Nets); F Omari Spellman (No. 30 pick, 2018 Draft); G Trae Young (No. 5 pick, 2018 Draft) LOST: Former coach Mike Budenholzer; G Antonius Cleveland (waived); G Damion Lee (signed with Warriors); F/C Mike Muscala (traded to 76ers); G Dennis Schröder (traded to Thunder); G Isaiah Taylor (waived) RETAINED: C Dewayne Dedmon (picked up player option) THE KEY MAN: GM Travis Schlenk. The second-year executive will be judged on how well Atlanta uses its trove of Draft picks -- three firsts this year, three firsts next year, two firsts in 2022 -- the next few years. And, ultimately, the Hawks will live or die by whether Young or Luka Doncic becomes the bigger NBA producer. Schlenk’s chances of completing the rebuild may well ride on that. THE SKINNY: The Hawks’ roster teardown is nearing completion, but the renovated Philips Arena will come online faster than the team, which now needs Young to live up to all the hype after his one season at Oklahoma. He has incredible range and great potential, but he’ll be challenged every night to stay in front of the legion of great points in this league. Pierce, the former Sixers’ assistant, is going to have a very tough time melding all the newcomers with the small core of players who survived, including John Collins, Kent Bazemore, DeAndre' Bembry and Taurean Prince. 15. LA CLIPPERS 2017-18 RECORD: 42-40; missed playoffs ADDED: C Marcin Gortat (acquired from Wizards); G Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (No. 11 pick, 2018 Draft); F Johnathan Motley (acquired from Mavericks); F Mike Scott (one year, $4.3 million); F Luc Mbah a Moute (one year, $4.3 million), G Jerome Robinson (No. 13 pick, 2018 Draft) LOST: G Austin Rivers (traded to Wizards); C DeAndre Jordan (signed with Mavs); G C.J. Williams (waived) RETAINED: G Avery Bradley (two years, $24.9  million); C Montrezl Harrell (two years, $12 million); G Wesley Johnson (picked up player option); G Milos Teodosic (picked up player option) THE KEY MAN: F Tobias Harris. He was the key tangible piece of the Blake Griffin trade last season (the intangible being the unprotected first from Detroit in the deal that eventually became Gilgeous-Alexander after a Draft night trade with Charlotte). And Harris played quite well in his 32 games with the Clips, averaging 19.3 points and six rebounds per game. Those numbers could each well go up in a contract year and with few others outside of Lou Williams on the roster that can go get their own buckets. THE SKINNY: Amazing, but true: the Clipper player with the longest current tenure is … Wesley Johnson, who came aboard in 2015. “Lob City” is in the history books and change will be the norm here for a while, including next summer, when the Clippers expect to be a free-agent destination. The Clips did what they could with that not-insignificant restriction, but the best stuff was in the Draft, winding up with a potential long-term point in Gilgeous-Alexander and a two in Robinson that rocketed up the pre-Draft charts. Bradley’s on a very team-friendly and controllable contract, as is Patrick Beverley, whose modest 2018-19 salary isn’t guaranteed until January. Those two and Mbah a Moute can give coach Doc Rivers hope that he can get some stops on the perimeter, because while Gortat is still willing defensively and still takes a bunch of charges, he is not Jordan when it comes to rim protection. 16. BROOKLYN NETS 2017-18 RECORD: 28-54; missed playoffs ADDED: F/C Ed Davis (one year, $4.4 million); F Jared Dudley (acquired from Suns); F Kenneth Faried (acquired from Nuggets); G/F Treveon Graham (two years); F Rodions Kurucs (No. 40, 2018 Draft); F Dzanan Musa (No. 29 pick, 2018 Draft); G Shabazz Napier (two years, $3.7 million) LOST: F Darrell Arthur (traded to Suns); F Dante Cunningham (signed with Spurs); C Dwight Howard (waived); G Jeremy Lin (traded to Hawks); C Timofey Mozgov (traded to Hornets); G Nik Stauskas (signed with Blazers); G Isaiah Whitehead (traded to Nuggets) RETAINED: G Joe Harris (two years, $16 million) THE KEY MAN: Co-owner Joseph Tsai. The Alibaba executive and billionaire has 49 percent of the team, and can buy majority control from Mikhail Prokhorov by 2021. Until then, they’ll run the team jointly, so no matter Prokhorov’s ups and downs, Brooklyn’s financial spigot should never run dry. Tsai reportedly has designs on expanding the Nets’ brand further in China, just as Prokhorov believed the Nets had global reach. They didn’t, at least not the post-KG and Pierce squads. THE SKINNY: If you love Ed Davis like smart people who know basketball do, Brooklyn makes the top half by bringing the ex-Blazer in on a short deal. If he plays great, he’ll cost the Nets a pretty penny in 2019, but Brooklyn has to take chances on guys who can outperform their contracts. The only thing the Nets couldn’t do was take on more ’19 salary when they’ll be in line to potentially add two max players. Won’t be easy to lure the elites, but Brooklyn also has accumulated enough assets to be able to make uneven trades for salaries if need be. In the interim comes next season, with coach Kenny Atkinson needing to continue to develop diamonds in the rough like Graham, who Cleveland wanted and who will help the Nets at multiple positions. 17. CHICAGO BULLS 2017-18 RECORD: 27-55; missed playoffs ADDED: G Antonius Cleveland; C Wendell Carter Jr. (No. 7 pick, 2018 Draft); F Chandler Hutchison (No. 22 pick, 2018 Draft); F Jabari Parker (two years, $40 million) LOST: F Jerian Grant (traded to Magic); G Sean Kilpatrick (waived); G Julyan Stone (waived); F Noah Vonleh (signed with Knicks); G Paul Zipser (waived) RETAINED: G Antonio Blakeney; G Zach LaVine (matched four year, $78 million offers sheet from Kings) THE KEY MAN: G Kris Dunn. As the 24-year-old will be every season he’s in Chicago. The Jimmy Butler trade in 2017 yielded the pick that became Lauri Markannen, and he’s also a key piece to the Bulls’ future. But Chicago won’t ever get elevation again if Dunn doesn’t become an elite point guard in a league full of them. He showed signs last season that he could be just that, most notably a December in which Dunn averaged 14.9 points and eight assists, and the Bulls went 10-6. But a concussion in January derailed Dunn’s progress and his production fell sharply the rest of the season. THE SKINNY: Can Parker play the three, as the Bulls insist he can? There isn’t a ton of evidence suggesting so, and Parker’s hypothesis that he isn’t getting paid to play defense does not provide much comfort. But the Bulls will try him there alongside Markannen and rookie Carter Jr. in what would be a huge frontcourt. Almost $20 million annually for LaVine going forward is also a stretch, but less of one if LaVine comes all the way back from his 2017 ACL tear with a full training camp and season. Carter may be more important to the Bulls’ hoped-for resurgence than Parker and LaVine; the Duke big man has that much potential. 18. WASHINGTON WIZARDS 2017-18 RECORD: 43-39; lost in first round ADDED: C Thomas Bryant; G Troy Brown (No. 15 pick, 2018 Draft); F Jeff Green (one year, $2.5 million); C Dwight Howard (two years, $11 million); G Austin Rivers (acquired from Clippers); G Issuf Sanon (No. 44 pick, 2018 Draft) LOST: C Marcin Gortat (traded to Clippers); F Mike Scott (signed with Clippers) RETAINED: G Jodie Meeks (picked up player option); C Jason Smith (picked up player option) THE KEY MAN: Coach Scott Brooks. Entering his third season in Washington, Brooks keeps saying he wants the Wizards to defend and play fast. But he has to follow that up with action, especially when and if John Wall doesn’t provide the on-ball defense Washington needs to have any chance to unleash a still-potent fast break. Wall is 27 and, if healthy, in his prime. The team takes almost all of its cues from him; when he’s locked in, the Wizards can compete with anyone. But when he’s indifferent, so are they -- as evidenced by their horrible record against bad teams. Brooks has to demand Wall’s best, or be ready to limit his minutes. THE SKINNY: NBA protocol almost demands you hate the pickup of Howard, such is his current perceived valued among many after multiple stops the last few seasons. The guess here is that Howard won’t hijack the Wizards’ locker room, as he had been accused of while in with the Houston Rockets and Charlotte Hornets, especially. Howard’s skill set can help Washington, which fell off defensively last season. But there’s also not much sense he’ll be a significant pick-me-up in D.C., either. He can’t stretch the floor and he’s not especially potent finishing in pick and roll, either. But the Wizards should at least be deeper off the bench with Green, who played well for the Cavs last season, and Rivers, who gives Washington legit guard depth along with Tomas Satoransky. 19. SACRAMENTO KINGS 2017-18 RECORD: 27-55; missed playoffs ADDED: F Nemanja Bjelica (three years, $20.4 million); C Marvin Bagley III (No. 2 pick, 2018 Draft); G Yogi Ferrell (two years, $4.1 million); G Ben McLemore (acquired from Kings); F Deyonta Davis (acquired from Grizzlies) LOST: G Garrett Temple (traded to Grizzlies) RETAINED: G Iman Shumpert (picked up player option); C Kosta Koufos (picked up player option) THE KEY MAN: F Harry Giles. The Kings traded for the one-and-done forward on Draft night 2017 and redshirted him, feeling he needed a year to fully recover from the multiple knee surgeries he’d undergone the last three years. Those surgeries stopped his top-five Draft potential in its tracks, before and after a year at Duke. But Giles is back on the floor, having flashed his skills during NBA Summer League, as Sacramento gushed about his progress. If the 20-year-old is ready to roll come October, he could be an enormous boost. He’ll have to at least become a contributor, lest folks remind the Kings they passed on the likes of Kyle Kuzma and O.G Anunoby to trade for his rights. THE SKINNY: Bagley III has superstar potential, and he better become one, or the Doncic Stans among the Kings’ fan base will have aneurysms. The Kings were all over everyone, seemingly, this summer, dropping sheets on Zach LaVine, almost doing the same with Marcus Smart and Jabari Parker, and going after unrestricted free agent Mario Hezonja. All well and good, and getting Bjelica out from under Philly and prying Ferrell from Dallas were decent late July pickups. But it will be Bagley III who’ll be under the microscope. His skill sets are prodigious and he’s been working out feverishly all summer. And he wants to make a mark in restoring the Kings to where they were on the floor during the Webber Years. He worked out for them. He’s enthusiastic about them. That counts for something. 20. HOUSTON ROCKETS 2017-18 RECORD: 65-17; lost in Western Conference finals ADDED: G Michael Carter-Williams (one year, $1.5 million); G De'Anthony Melton (No. 46 pick, 2018 Draft); F Vincent Edwards (No. 52 pick, 2018 Draft) LOST: F Trevor Ariza (signed with Suns); Luc Mbah a Moute (signed with LA Clippers); C Chinanu Onuaku (traded to Mavs) RETAINED: C Clint Capela (five years, $90 million); G/F Gerald Green (one year, $2.3 million); G Aaron Jackson (picked up team option); G Chris Paul (four years, $159 million) THE KEY MAN: Jason Biles, Joe Rogowski, Keith Jones and Javair Gillett -- the Rockets’ athletic trainers, sports performance and rehab staff. Their only mission next season, should they decide to accept it, is to get Paul through an 82-game regular season and a two-month playoff slog without breaking or pulling anything of importance that keeps him out of key games. Of course, should any of the staff be unsuccessful, the Morey will disavow any knowledge of their employment. Good luck, men. THE SKINNY: We have not yet included Carmelo Anthony, who will be signing in Houston any minute now. When he’s officially on the roster, he’ll certainly help, and we all saw that even Houston can go through extended scoring droughts in the playoffs. Having Anthony around should alleviate that. The Rockets may have had the best signing of the summer, keeping the 24-year-old Capela locked up long-term for $18 million per -- incredible value these days, given the way salaries are skyrocketing. But that was mitigated by the losses of Ariza and Mbah a Moute, who were crucial to the switching defense Houston employed and perfected by the playoffs, which threw sand in the gears of the Warriors’ impenetrable offense and would likely have propelled the Rockets to The Finals if Paul hadn’t gotten hurt in Game 5. Ennis and Carter-Williams will help some in that regard, but they don’t have the resume of Mbah a Moute and Ariza -- which means they sometimes won’t get the benefit of the doubt from refs that the old heads do. Houston’s still the clear number two to Golden State in the West, but the gap between the Rockets and the best of the rest has closed. Longtime NBA reporter, columnist and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer David Aldridge is an analyst for TNT. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 8th, 2018