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Mbala lives up to expectations with 32-10 double-double in return

Ben Mbala, the reigning and defending UAAP MVP, is now an even better version of himself after a starmaking stint in the 2017 FIBA Afrobasket. And so, when the Cameroonian powerhouse made his way back to the collegiate ranks, he looked much, much more like a man among boys. He dropped a UAAP-best 32 points on top of 10 rebounds, four blocks, and one steal in his first game since the regional meet. This, coming against an Adamson University frontline that had the likes of Papi Sarr, Kristian Bernardo, and Keith Zaldivar. After the game, Green Archers mentor Aldin Ayo was not at all surprised with the monster numbers by Mbala. “Well, as expected. Us, his coaches and his teammates, we were expecting na ganito ang ilalaro niya,” he said. He then continued, “Kahit naman kayo, alam niyong ganun gagawin ni Ben.” That is especially true as the 22-year-old displayed all of his wares up against the best Africa had to offer and averaged 21.8 points and 9.3 rebounds through his home country’s quarterfinals finish. “We know that when Ben was away, we have gained a lot as a team and Ben also gained a lot as an individual,” Ayo expressed. Indeed, Mbala said he only improved in international play. As he put it, “The guy there are pros, some of them are ex-NBA players. They’re smart, they’re skilled, and their basketball IQ is really high.” He then continued, “You gotta find a way to match up and compete and I’d like to say that I was able to learn a lot from them.” Specifically, the six-foot-seven player pointed to his much-improved shooting stroke. “I also added a lot to my game, not only my inside game, but also my outside game. Actually, I was really working on it even during offseason,” he shared. He then continued, “I just feel like I needed the confidence to be able to take them and make them.” Without a doubt, Mbala now seems to have the confidence as he took four triples against the Soaring Falcons and made two of them. It also didn’t hurt that Ayo prepared his team well for the inevitable return of their main man. “Ako, as much as possible, hindi ko ginalaw yung team noong nawala siya. If you noticed, right away we put him back in the starting five para dire-diretso,” he said. He then continued, “I told the boys to act as if nothing happened, act as if Ben never left, act as if we played with Ben.” And now they’re complete, DLSU is nothing but determined to re-assert their mastery over the rest of the league. “What’s good is that Ben is here and we can start moving forward, we can start working on our team chemistry,” the head coach expressed. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo. .....»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnSep 20th, 2017

Eight new stars who have risen in UAAP Season 81

It all begins here. That has been the UAAP theme this year and the names you will see on this list have been embracing their new beginnings and are delivering with promise despite all the pressure. The UAAP’s 81st season has been wild right off the bat with teams pulling wins out of nowhere, impressive individual performances, and lit on-court actions, which everyone has caught live on ABS-CBN S+A, S+A HD, LIGA, and LIGA HD every Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday. However, eight names have already shown why they are head and shoulders above everybody else in the season. Let’s take a look at the idols of future ballers and coaches here: 1.) Ange Kouame, Ateneo De Manila University The Ivorian big man is having a great debut with the defending champs in Season 81 and has been announcing his arrival to the league big game after big game, punctuated by his 33-point 27-rebound performance against potential Final Four contender, the FEU Tamaraws. While Thirdy Ravena continues to be the Blue Eagles’ leader on the floor, Kouame is slowly turning himself into a problem on a nightly basis. He’s constantly improving and learning about the college game thanks in part to fellow Ateneo big, who saw his play blossom last year, in Isaac Go.   2.) Sean Manganti, Adamson University Jerrick Ahanmisi is the Falcons’ leading scorer and main attraction. But let it not distract you from the fact that Sean Manganti has improved vastly to be the actual barometer of the team as it continues its stellar season. To prove a point, Manganti has also hit big shots for the Falcons including that game-winning dagger against the UP Fighting Maroons. Part of the reason for his impressive season so far is due to his training with former UAAP MVP Kiefer Ravena, who has been teaching him all the tricks in his bag.   3.) Justine Baltazar, La Salle  Justine Baltazar was a diamond in the rough coming to the Green Archers’ side of the fence after a stellar UAAP Juniors showing for National University. This season, without Ben Mbala up front, people are shocked by the massive improvement of Balti’s game as he has been the Green Archers’ consistent pillar of strength next to Aljun Melecio and Leonard Santillan. Balti is yet to have a bad game this season except when he had to contend with Ateneo’s hulking Ange Kouame, who is way heavier than the lanky center.   4.) Hubert Cani, Far Eastern University What a journey it has been for the former UAAP Juniors Finals MVP Hubert Cani, who went to Ateneo for two years before transferring to FEU and debuting last year. The 5’11” point guard has trimmed down immensely in preparation for Season 81 and it has clearly shown that his deadly Juniors form is back in harness. While FEU has been see-sawing lately in the standings, Cani has been the constant as much as teams prepare to stop FEU’s top scorer Arvin Tolentino.   5.) Juan Gomez De Liano, University of the Philippines Juan’s sophomore year has been anything but a disappointment. The UAAP Season 80 Rookie of the Year recently stopped the UAAP triple double drought when he posted a 15-point, 12-rebound, 12-assist line against the UE Red Warriors last Sunday (October 21). With team captain Paul Desiderio struggling in the start of the season, the former UAAP Juniors MVP stepped up to the plate and show improvement across the board and has become a huge headache for opposing teams alongside prized recruit Bright Akhuetie everytime he steps on the court.    6.) CJ Cansino, University of Sto. Tomas The Growling Tigers rookie is living up to lofty expectations heaped on his shoulders as a UAAP Juniors MVP coming out of the UST Tiger Cubs program. Cansino is already displaying a grown man’s game despite being at the collegiate level. His basketball IQ is off the charts while maximizing the most of his physical tools at hand along with the system new Head Coach Aldin Ayo has put in place. With the keys in his hand, Cansino has responded and what a way for a rookie to, already having an 18-point, 18-rebound game and constantly hovering around a triple-double.   7.) Dave Ildefonso, National University The younger Demolition Brother has been a treat to watch. Along with Cansino, they are both starring for their teams as rookies, leading the way, and leaving fans with jaws on the floor because of the level of talent they are displaying. He has shown great scoring instincts and has been at the forefront of the Bulldogs’ rebuild. 8.) Joe Silva, University of the East We’re giving the last and final spot in the list to UE’s neophyte coach, who’s the driving force behind the rebuilding Red Warriors. Coach Joe maybe younger in terms of age and experience compared to his UAAP counterparts, but he is definitely no pushover with two UAAP Juniors championship under his belt with the Ateneo High School Blue Eaglets. So far, he is off to a good start in building a winning culture in the current UE Red Warriors lineup. This is evident in how feisty his team fights game in and game out despite the talent gap they face. These eight guys are not the only impressive names we should all watch out for as you never know who will suddenly come out of the woodwork and starts pumping impressive game after impressive game. Get to see these stars in action every UAAP Season 81 game day during Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays on ABS-CBN S+A, S+A HD, LIGA, and LIGA HD starting at 2 pm. For more sports news, follow ABS-CBN Sports on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram or visit sports.abs-cbn.com. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 26th, 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

DA s 2018 NBA Offseason Rankings: The Top 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 Top 10 * * * 1. OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER 2017-18 RECORD: 48-34; lost in first round ADDED: G/F Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot (acquired from Sixers); G Hamidou Diallo (No. 45 pick, 2018 Draft); G Devon Hall (No. 53 pick, 2018 Draft); F Kevin Hervey (No. 57 pick, 2018 Draft); F Abdel Nader (acquired from Celtics); C Nerlens Noel (two years, $3.7 million); G Dennis Schröder (acquired from Hawks) LOST: F Carmelo Anthony (traded to Hawks); F Nick Collison (retired); C Dakari Johnson (traded to Magic); G Rodney Purvis (traded to Celtics) RETAINED: G Raymond Felton (one year, $2.3 million); F Paul George (four years, $136.9 million); F Jerami Grant (three years, $27.3 million) THE KEY MAN: G Andre Roberson. This is real simple: with Roberson on the court last year, OKC’s opponent offensive rating was 99.2; when he was off, it was 110.7. The Thunder was a near-elite defensive unit when Roberson played and was awful when he didn’t. His Real Defensive Plus-Minus, per ESPN.com, was 4.34, second only to Utah’s Rudy Gobert (5.06). So when Roberson ruptured his patellar tendon in late January, the Thunder’s ability to use George as a weakside defender who could freelance and use his length to create deflections and turnovers (because Roberson had the strong side absolutely locked down) went away. Any chance the Thunder has next season to compete at the highest levels in the West will depend on the 26-year-old Roberson’s recovery and return to the lineup. THE SKINNY: None of us -- none -- thought George was going to stay in OKC. And we all thought Sam Presti and the Thunder were crazy for trading for him last year, because it was just going to be a one-year rental and he was going to be off to the Lakers in 12 months, and OKC would have nothing to show for its deal. But George’s presence helped convince Russell Westbrook -- also long rumored to eventually head back to Cali -- to sign a long-term deal with the Thunder. And OKC’s acquisition of Carmelo Anthony helped convince George that the Thunder was all in on competing. And even though OKC went out in the first round of the playoffs to Utah, its year-long courtship of George and his family paid off when PG-13 spurned L.A. once and for all to stay in the 405. Anthony ultimately wasn’t a good fit, but he brought back Schroder, who will give Billy Donovan a dynamic scorer off the bench that can give Westbrook a blow and keep OKC’s offense from immolating when Westbrook is on the bench, a common malady the last two years. The Thunder has been relevant in an incredibly small market now for almost a decade. With George and Westbrook and Steven Adams and, now, Schroder, all signed up through 2021, that remarkable run will continue for some time. 2. LOS ANGELES LAKERS 2017-18 RECORD: 35-47; missed playoffs ADDED: F Michael Beasley (one year, $3.5 million); F Joel Berry II; F Issac Bonga (No. 39 pick, 2018 Draft); G Jeffrey Carroll; F LeBron James (four years, $153 million); C JaVale McGee (one year, $1.4 million); G Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (No. 47 pick, 2018 Draft); G Rajon Rondo (one year, $9 million); G Lance Stephenson; F Mo Wagner (No. 25 pick, 2018 Draft) LOST: C Thomas Bryant (waived); G Tyler Ennis (waived); F/C Channing Frye (signed with Cavs); C Brook Lopez (signed with Bucks); F Julius Randle (signed with Pelicans); G Isaiah Thomas (signed with Nuggets) RETAINED: G Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (one year, $12 million); G Travis Wear THE KEY MAN: F Brandon Ingram. The third-year man should be the major beneficiary of James’ presence going forward. Driving lanes previously clogged with defenders should now be runway clear. Opponents who previously could close out strong on Ingram will now have their attention elsewhere. Ingram need only look at James’ last stop: per NBA.com/Stats, among players leaguewide who appeared in at least 60 games last season, three Cavaliers -- Kyle Korver, J.R. Smith and Cedi Osman -- were among the top 20 in the league in lowest frequency of having their closest defenders within two feet of them, meaning James created many wide open looks for teammates all season. Ingram vastly improved his range last season over his rookie one, shooting 39 percent on 3-pointers. But he only attempted 1.8 threes per game last season. That number will surely skyrocket in 2018. Ingram must ready to take advantage. That will make him that much more deadly as a driver. THE SKINNY: Team president Magic Johnson was tasked with landing a whale in free agency, and he and GM Rob Pelinka bagged Moby Dick in James. Their subsequent free agent moves once Paul George opted to stay in Oklahoma City were all short-term plays with an eye toward the promising 2019 free agent class, which include the likes of All-Stars Klay Thompson, Kemba Walker and DeMarcus Cousins. But that doesn’t mean Lake Show ’18 isn’t going to be the rip-roaringest circus this side of your standard Ozzy Ozbourne tour. What’s the over-under on the first time Rondo cusses out coach Luke Walton, or when we hear of a “spirited practice” that is code for “Lance ‘bowed ‘Bron in the neck and Walton sent everyone home”? The Lakers could be in The Finals or out in the first round, but what they decidedly will not be is boring. 3. DENVER NUGGETS 2017-18 RECORD: 46-36; missed playoffs ADDED: F Michael Porter Jr. (No. 14 pick, 2018 Draft); G Isaiah Thomas (one year, $2 million); F Jarred Vanderbilt (No. 41 pick, 2018 Draft); C Thomas Welsh (No. 58 pick, 2018 Draft) LOST: F Darrell Arthur (traded to Nets); F Wilson Chandler (traded to 76ers); F Kenneth Faried (traded to Nets); G Isaiah Whitehead (waived) RETAINED: G Will Barton (four years, $53 million); G/F Torrey Craig (two years, $4 million); C Nikola Jokic (five-year, $147.7 million contract extension) THE KEY MAN: G Jamal Murray. Denver ended all pretense that the full-time point guard job wasn’t his last season and his second-year numbers were very encouraging. Among regularly playing (60+ games) floor generals, per NBA.com/Stats, Murray’s .577 True Shooting Percentage ranked only behind D.J. Augustin, Kyrie Irving, Darren Collison and Kyle Lowry. No one doubts the still-just-21-year-old Murray can fill it up, and that the Nuggets don’t need a classic ball distributor to light up the Pepsi Center scoreboard. But they do need to get more credible defensively. So does he. THE SKINNY: A great offseason for the Nuggets, who did what they said they would -- keep Jokic off the market next summer -- while clearing roster spots and minutes with two trades, and simultaneously reducing their luxury tax bill for 2019. (The Chandler trade to the Sixers also created an enormous $12.8 million trade exception for Denver through August of 2019.) Jokic should anchor one of the most athletic starting quintets in the game -- along with Jamal Murray, Gary Harris, the re-signed Barton (penciled in for now as the starting three) and Paul Millsap. the Nuggets didn’t add much at the defensive end, which was their Achilles’ heel the last couple of seasons and the main reason they didn’t make the playoffs in 2017-18. Denver opted to strengthen a strength by bringing in Thomas, who’ll be in prove-it mode next season on a short deal with a coach that he knows from their Sacramento days in Mike Malone. Look for Malone to unleash Thomas on second units throughout the West. Porter Jr. was worth a flier at 14; he was the consensus likely first pick in the Draft a year ago, before his back injury took him out of all but a couple of games in his one season at Missouri. Denver can give him the entire year to rehab from two surgeries, the latest last week, and reset his clock for 2019-20. 4. GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS 2017-18 RECORD: 58-24; won NBA Finals ADDED: C DeMarcus Cousins (one year, $5.3 million); F Jacob Evans (No. 28 pick, 2018 Draft); F Jonas Jerebko (one year, $2.1 million); G Damion Lee LOST: C JaVale McGee (signed with Lakers); C Zaza Pachulia (signed with Pistons); Head of Physical Performance and Sports Medicine Chelsea Lane (went to Hawks) RETAINED: F Kevin Durant (two years, $61.5 million); F Kevon Looney THE KEY MAN: Brett Yamaguchi, Director of Game Operations/Entertainment, Oracle Arena. One doesn’t envy Yamaguchi, whose tasks will be twofold next season: create lifetime memories for the loudest and most loyal fanbase in the league, as the Warriors play their final season at Oracle Arena (aka Roaracle) -- they’re moving into the Chase Center, their tony new digs across the Bay in downtown San Francisco, come 2019-20. And, provide atmosphere and sizzle that will help coach Steve Kerr keep his veteran core from being bored out of its collective mind during the regular season while it waits for the playoffs and a chance at a three-peat. THE SKINNY: So, sure, the best team in the league adds one of the top two or three big men in the game in Cousins. But that’s the ancillary benefit of having such a dominant organization; everyone wants to figure out a way to get to the Bay. Cousins took less money to do so; now he can take his time rehabbing his torn Achilles tendon. If that means he’s not all the way back until All-Star, who cares? The Warriors will roll Kevon Looney, Jordan Bell and Jonas Jerebko out at the five in non-Death lineups until Cousins is ready. Meanwhile, Kerr has to keep his vets, but especially Andre Iguodala and Shawn Livingston, off their feet as much as possible during the regular season so they’ll be good to go from April through June. Losing Iguodala for the bulk of the 2018 Western finals was almost the Warriors’ downfall. 5. MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES 2017-18 RECORD: 22-60; missed playoffs ADDED: F Kyle Anderson (four years, $37 million); G Jevon Carter (No. 32 pick, 2018 Draft); F Omri Casspi (one year, $2.3 million); F Jaren Jackson Jr. (No. 4 pick, 2018 Draft); C Dakari Johnson (acquired from Magic); G Garrett Temple (acquired from Kings) LOST: C/F Deyonta Davis (traded to Kings); G Tyreke Evans (signed with Pacers); F Jarell Martin (traded to Magic); G Ben McLemore (traded to Kings) RETAINED: Coach J.B. Bickerstaff THE KEY MAN: G Mike Conley. It’s no secret how vital Conley is to the franchise, so a return to form is vital for the veteran point, who’ll be 31 on opening night and who missed 70 games last season with a heel injury. Next season will be the third of Conley’s five-year, $150 million deal signed in 2016; remember when so many people thought the world would end when a small market like Memphis invested so much in him? Well, Conley has already dropped to fifth in the league in salary among point guards, behind Stephen Curry Curry, Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook and Kyle Lowry. He’ll fall even further down the list next season, when John Wall’s massive extension kicks in, and Kyrie Irving and Kemba Walker each get new contracts that could leap his. THE SKINNY: Memphis couldn’t have had a worse 2017-18 if it tried, and the Grizzlies compounded their on-court implosion by not trading Evans when everyone in the league -- seemingly, except for them -- knew he was going to walk in the summer if they didn’t. But, the Grizzlies’ front office recovered in a big way, selling the 18-year-old Jackson that he would fit right in despite not working out for the Grizz before the Draft, then doubling up on “Grit And Grind 2.0” by taking Carter, college basketball’s fiercest on-ball defender, in the second. Ownership was willing to let the front office use the full mid-level exception on Anderson, who isn’t the sexiest pickup to many fans but whose defensive numbers in San Antonio were outstanding. Temple is the ultimate good vet and locker room guy who will get a chance to play for Bickerstaff after the Kings opted to go with their young guys and he was likely out of the rotation. GM Chris Wallace was adamant that the Grizzlies could rebuild again around the aging Conley and Marc Gasol and that they wouldn’t trade Gasol after the latter’s difficult relationship with former coach David Fizdale. They did, and they didn’t. 6. PHOENIX SUNS 2017-18 RECORD: 21-61; missed playoffs ADDED: Coach Igor Kokoskov; F Trevor Ariza (one year, $15 million); F Darrell Arthur (acquired from Nets); C Deandre Ayton (No. 1 pick, 2018 Draft); F Mikal Bridges (No. 10 pick, 2018 Draft); F Richaun Holmes (acquired from 76ers); G George King (No. 59 pick, 2018 Draft); G Elie Okobo (No. 31 pick, 2018 Draft) LOST: Former interim coach Jay Triano; F Jared Dudley (traded to Nets); C Alex Len (signed with Hawks); G Elfrid Payton (signed with Pelicans); G Tyler Ulis (waived); F/C Alan Williams (waived) RETAINED: G Devin Booker (contract extension) THE KEY MAN: Ayton. Let’s not bury the lead here: he was the first pick overall for a reason, because he has franchise-turning capability. The Suns don’t need singles or the occasional double any more; they need someone to put them back on the map with big, sweaty, nasty four-baggers, night after night. (cc: mixed metaphor police.) It’s been a minute since Amar’e Stoudemire was at his destructive best, and the list of impactful bigs in franchise history is thin: Connie Hawkins, Alvan Adams, Tom Chambers, Charles Barkley, Stoudemire. Ayton has a chance to be as good as any of them, and better, and he’s a potential stash of Kryptonite down the pike to the Warriors dynasty. THE SKINNY: There’s the makings of a Jazz-like reimaging of the franchise in short order. Kokoskov not only comes from Utah’s staff, but has significant coaching chops outside of Salt Lake City. He’s been coaching since he was 24, and that was 22 years ago. He’s coached both around the world and around the NBA as an assistant and development maven, and he’ll be great at bolstering the confidence of the Suns’ young guys -- including Bridges, a mature and solid rook with collegiate titles from Villianova who’ll be able to grow quietly outside the huge media shadow cast on Ayton. Kokoskov will also make things a lot easier for Devin Booker offensively. But GM Ryan McDonough was also smart enough to surround the kids with some solid vets, starting with Ariza, who will help the Suns again become acquainted with a long-honored NBA concept called “defense.” 7. DALLAS MAVERICKS 2017-18 RECORD: 24-58; missed playoffs ADDED: F Kostas Antetokounmpo (No. 60 pick, 2018 Draft); G Jalen Brunson (No. 33 pick, 2018 Draft); G Luka Doncic (No. 3 pick, 2018 Draft); C DeAndre Jordan (one year, $22 million); C Chinanu Onuaku (acquired from Rockets); F Ray Spalding (No. 56 pick, 2018 Draft); F Ding Yanyuhang; LOST: G Kyle Collinsworth (waived); G Seth Curry (signed with Blazers); G Yogi Ferrell (signed with Kings); F Doug McDermott (signed with Pacers); F Jonathan Motley (traded to Clippers); C Nerlens Noel (signed with Thunder) RETAINED: G/F Wesley Matthews (picked up player option); F Dirk Nowitzki (one year, $5 million) THE KEY MAN: CEO Cynthia Marshall. The former AT&T executive was put in charge after Sports Illustrated’s explosive story last February detailing a toxic workplace for female employees on the team’s business side, with sexual harassment rampant and no relief forthcoming from the supervisors who should have provided it. Marshall has been fast at work changing the business side culture, as separate investigations of who was responsible for allowing the previous environment to fester wind down. After their results are made public, it will be Marshall who will have to both enact their recommendations and sell the public that owner Mark Cuban’s organization has been fumigated for good. THE SKINNY: Dallas is banking that the 19-year-old Doncic is not only the real deal, but that he can come out of the gate in the NBA after starring in Europe and immediately give the Mavs a boost. There’s a large body of work suggesting Doncic will do just that, and accelerate the Mavs’ rebuild. Second-year guard Dennis Smith Jr.’s improvements should also speed up, and Jordan’s presence should start to close the sieve that has plagued Dallas’s defense the last couple of years. Losing both Curry and Ferrell will hurt the Mavs’ guard depth, though, and Brunson won’t be able to work in slowly. 8. INDIANA PACERS 2017-18 RECORD: 48-34; lost in first round ADDED: G/F Tyreke Evans (one year, $12 million); G Aaron Holiday (No. 23 pick, 2018 Draft); F Alize Johnson (No. 50 pick, 2018 Draft); F Doug McDermott; C/F Kyle O'Quinn LOST: C Al Jefferson (waived); G/F Glenn Robinson III (signed with Pistons); G Lance Stephenson (signed with Lakers) RETAINED: G Cory Joseph (picked up player option); F Thaddeus Young (picked up player option) THE KEY MAN: Kevin Pritchard, president of basketball operations. He’s been instrumental in putting this team together -- first as Larry Bird’s assistant, but on his own the last year-plus since Bird left. Now Pritchard will have to deal with not just the expectations last season’s surprising turnaround season will create with fans, but with the incessant calls and texts one receives when one has a team in which six players among the team’s core are on one-year deals and free agents next summer. It is extremely difficult for a team so constituted to stay unified and keep pulling on the rope together. Human nature is human nature, and players (and their families, and their agents) need reassurances they’re part of the organization’s future, just like any drone from Sector 7G would. It’s hard to think about sacrificing minutes and shots when almost players are judged by are their numbers. Nate McMillan, meanwhile, is only concerned, as any coach is, with the game in front of him, tonight. Pritchard’s phone will rarely have an hour off next season. THE SKINNY: What does a team that surprised so many last season need? More depth, because there aren’t going to be a lot of nights off going forward. The Pacers filled in nicely with a bunch of under-the-radar players, getting Evans after a bounce-back season in Memphis and O’Quinn after good years in New York. McBuckets is running out of stops to show he can be a key contributor in the NBA, but everything is tailor made for him to succeed here: he’ll have all the space in the world playing alongside Victor Oladipo, Bogdanovic and/or Myles Turner, depending on the lineup. Holiday was very good value at 23 in the first round. And Oladipo is on his grind. The Pacers are as big a threat as anyone to Boston’s assumed ascension in the post-LeBron East. 9. NEW YORK KNICKS 2017-18 RECORD: 29-53; missed playoffs ADDED: Coach David Fizdale; G Mario Hezonja (one year, $6.5 million); G Kevin Knox (No. 9 pick, 2018 Draft); C Mitchell Robinson (No. 36 pick, 2018 Draft); F Noah Vonleh (one year) LOST: Former coach Jeff Hornacek; F Michael Beasley (signed with Lakers); C/F Kyle O'Quinn (signed with Pacers); F Troy Williams (waived) RETAINED: G Ron Baker (picked up player option); F/C Luke Kornet; C Enes Kanter (picked up player option); THE KEY MAN: F Kristaps Porzingis. It’s unlikely Porzingis will play much, if at all, next season, as he rehabs his torn ACL suffered in February. New York will be extremely cautious with a timeline, and in Porzingis’ absence, if more losing brings more figurative ping pong balls the Knicks’ way … well, they won’t complain about that, either. None if it matters if “The Unicorn” doesn’t regain his form, though. So much of the Knicks’ 2018-19 improvement, or regression, will take place off camera. THE SKINNY: Fizdale won’t have a mandate to try and win with a veteran team in his first season in New York, as was the case in his year-plus in Memphis. So he can implement his position-less/fitness regimen with the young Knicks without looking over his shoulder. New York’s planning for 2019, when it hopes to strike in a big way in free agency, but that doesn’t mean next season won’t be important. Knox will have a lot of light on him, especially after playing well during NBA Summer League, but the Knicks truly believe Robinson will make some contributions this season with his significant physical gifts. Both must continue changing the narrative in Gotham that the team’s new braintrust is rebuilding the brand the right way -- slowly, and correctly. Hezonja was a good low-cost flier for New York who’ll give Fizdale some small ball options. Hezonja came on strong the second half of last season for the Magic, who hadn’t picked up his third-year option and were hamstrung in what they could offer him as a result. 10. SAN ANTONIO SPURS 2017-18 RECORD: 47-35; lost in first round ADDED: G Marco Belinelli (two years, $12 million); F Dante Cunningham (one year, $2.5 million); G DeMar DeRozan (acquired from Raptors); C Jakob Poeltl (acquired from Raptors); G Lonnie Walker IV (No. 18 pick, 2018 Draft); F Chimezie Metu (No. 49 pick, 2018 Draft) LOST: F Kyle Anderson (signed with Grizzlies); G Danny Green (traded to Raptors); F Kawhi Leonard (traded to Raptors); F Joffrey Lauvergne (signed with Fenerbahce); G Tony Parker (signed with Hornets); G Brandon Paul (waived) RETAINED: C/F Davis Bertans (two years, $14.5 million); G Bryn Forbes (two years, $6 million); F Rudy Gay (one year, $10 million) THE KEY MAN: Coach Gregg Popovich. There is no way to tell, nor is it really anyone’s business, how Pop will cope with the loss of his wife Erin, who died in April during the Spurs’ first-round series with Golden State. But the NBA grind is an unforgiving one, and Popovich is adding Olympic team coach duties to an already taxing schedule. He knows best how he’s doing and you can only hope he listens to himself when or if he needs time away. THE SKINNY: Backed up against it with Leonard’s still-murky insistence for a divorce, the Spurs did as well as could be expected in getting a four-time All-Star who’ll play with a huge chip on his shoulder next season. DeRozan will certainly help San Antonio extinguish the offensive droughts that came when teams loaded up on LaMarcus Aldridge defensively. LA was sensational for long stretches last season, making second team All-NBA for the second time in his career. Belinelli, rookie Walker and Poeltl should lengthen San Antonio’s bench significantly and reduce the Spurs’ dependence on nightly brilliance from 40-year-old Manu Ginobili, if he comes back for a 17th season. 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

Helio, Danica move on; Hinchcliffe is bumped from Indy 500

By Michael Marot, Associated Press INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — IndyCar's marquee names turned a day of qualifying for the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing" into a throwback, nail-biting, bumping affair. Helio Castroneves, seeking a redemptive record-tying fourth victory, was fastest around Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Danica Patrick was fast, too, and she averaged 227.610 mph to snag the ninth and final spot in the next round of qualifying, the Fast Nine. But this was a full field for the first time in years, and it meant two drivers weren't making next Sunday's show. Never did the renewed bumping expect to be a threat to James Hinchcliffe, one of IndyCar's top drivers, a popular Canadian, and a celebrity from his stint as runner-up on ABC's "Dancing With the Stars" show. Add in this is the final Indy 500 on ABC, ending a partnership that started in 1965 and is second in sports only to CBS and the Masters. The network has been a strong partner for tiny IndyCar, and it helped turn Hinchcliffe and Castroneves into crossover stars. And no one expected trouble for Pippa Mann, a perennial presence in the Indy 500. The British driver spends her entire year working to raise the money to run the Indy 500. Yet after a day of bumping, it was Hinchcliffe and Mann who were surprisingly sidelined. "It was devastating in every way possible," said Hinchcliffe, who is fifth in the IndyCar standings and a full-time series racer for an anchor team. "We came here with big expectations and high hopes. We didn't have Fast Nine speed but we didn't think we'd miss the race. "It's Indy and we finally have bumping again and everyone was thrilled about it. Well, I'm a lot less thrilled about it." Hinchcliffe nearly lost his life at Indy in a 2015 crash in which he was pierced in an artery and would have bled to death if not for IndyCar's standard-setting medical staff. He missed the race that year, but otherwise is a staple of the series. Mann is a one-off. Without her in the field, the Indy 500 will have just one woman, Patrick, at the time her return to American open wheel's crown jewel event is being celebrated. Patrick is retiring after this Indy 500, her first since 2011 because of a brief and unsuccessful move to NASCAR. Back for the second leg of a farewell in "The Danica Double" she's bookended Indy with the Daytona 500 on a two-race goodbye tour. There's a chance IndyCar could intervene. The standard is 33 cars, but the Indy 500 is the only race that matters to the IndyCar elite and it had a 35 car field in 1997. So the hand-wringing could be real as purists wonder if Tony George, head of the family that owns all things-Indy, can force an exception to get Hinchcliffe and Mann in the field. "Should they just start everyone? To me, I'm definitely a traditionalist," said Ed Carpenter, son of George and the owner of Patrick's car. "As tough as it is to watch a guy like Hinch, who has had great moments here, really tough moments, I feel for him, I feel for Pippa. We've all worked very hard to be here. I really feel for them. "At the same time, Indianapolis, that's part of the lure of what makes this race so special and important to all of us. Growing up around this event, seeing years where Team Penske struggled and missed the race, Bobby Rahal missed the race one year, it's happened to great teams." What happens with Hinchcliffe and Mann next is anyone's guess. Hinchcliffe has the sponsorship that could likely buy someone's seat. Mann needs a miracle in the field being expanded. Hinchcliffe understood options were being explored, but wasn't asking for favors. "Nobody screwed us. The system didn't fail us. We failed us," Hinchcliffe said. "We just have to do better. I know this team is capable of better. We are better than this, I know that. Everybody in the garage knows that. We deserve to be in this race. Just not this year." Meanwhile Patrick would have been content qualifying with something in the middle of the pack. Instead, her four-lap average around the track earned her a slot among the nine drivers who will shoot it out Sunday for the pole. Her Chevrolet from Carpenter is fast, and Carpenter was second only to Castroneves. She's now guaranteed a starting spot in the first three rows of her final Indy 500. "I have high expectations for doing well here," said Patrick, the only woman to lead laps in the Indy 500 and Daytona 500. "But to think that I was going to come back and be in the Fast Nine right off the bat, I mean, I'm going to tell you ... I definitely am relieved." It was jubilation for Castroneves, who posted the best four-lap average of 228.919 mph to make a statement in the Penske Racing "Yellow Submarine." Castroneves is a wildly popular Brazilian seeking a record-tying fourth victory. He's been sidelined to sports cars this season by Penske, but he's back home again in a car as bright and familiar at Indy as Castroneves' yellow suit from his winning stint on "Dancing With The Stars." He's a threat to win the pole, and maybe even the race. Over the last 17 years, he has turned Indy's tricky 2.5-mile oval into his personal proving ground. In addition to the three wins, he's won four poles and had three runner-up finishes with Roger Penske's powerhouse team. All 33 spots for the May 27 race will be set Sunday. All three of Castroneves' teammates — 2016 series champion Simon Pagenaud, 2014 series champ Will Power and defending series champ Josef Newgarden — made the final nine. Pagenaud was third at 228.304, Power was fourth at 228.194 and Newgarden was seventh at 228.049. Scott Dixon and Sebastien Bourdais are the only Honda drivers in the shootout. Bourdais, who drives for Dale Coyne Racing, was fifth at 228.090. Dixon, of New Zealand and the star for Chip Ganassi, was eighth at 227.782......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 20th, 2018

Simmons, Embiid help 76ers beat Timberwolves

By Mike Cranston, Associated Press PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Ben Simmons had a triple-double, Joel Embiid dazzled while getting the better of Karl-Anthony Towns, and the Philadelphia 76ers inched closer to their first playoff berth in six years with a 120-108 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday night (Sunday, PHL time). Simmons had 15 points, 12 rebounds and 13 assists for the 10th triple-double of his rookie season. Embiid scored 19 points, and had a left-handed block of Towns, a three-pointer and a windmill dunk in the Sixers' 20-4 run to start the third quarter. Dario Saric added 18 points as the Sixers (42-30) won their sixth straight game, ensured a winning season and moved within one win or Detroit loss from their first postseason appearance since 2012. Andrew Wiggins scored 16 points, and Towns had 15 points and 11 rebounds, but shot just 3-of-15 from the field for Minnesota as its two-game winning streak was snapped. Simmons secured his triple-double with 3:19 left in the third quarter when he put back his own miss for his 10th point. It was part of a dominating 39-19 period for the Sixers that broke open a close game. Embiid provided the biggest roar when his acrobatic, breakaway dunk made it 79-56 with 6:39 left. After Minnesota coach Tom Thibodeau called a timeout, Embiid egged on the crowd by raising his arms and screaming. Coach Brett Brown was forced to reinsert Simmons and Embiid with 2:39 left after the Wolves' reserves cut a 29-point deficit to 111-101. Thibodeau had the Wolves foul Simmons, a poor free-throw shooter, twice intentionally. But Simmons went 3-of-4 from the line and Minnesota got no closer than nine points. Minnesota, which entered in seventh place in the Western Conference, shot 38 percent from the field and were 6-of-23 from three-point range a night after a victory over the Knicks in New York. TIP-INS Timberwolves: Towns has an NBA-high 61 double-doubles. ... The Wolves are 12-17 against the Eastern Conference and 30-15 against the West. ... G Derrick Rose (right ankle) missed a second straight game. 76ers: Simmons has the most triple-doubles for the franchise since Wilt Chamberlain had 31 in the 1967-68 season. ... The Sixers moved alone into fourth place in the East, one game ahead of third-place Cleveland. FULTZ'S CALL Brown said Sixers rookie Markelle Fultz will return this season only if he declares himself ready after struggling to regain his shooting stroke following a shoulder issue. "When Markelle Fultz feels like he can go — he really feels good about himself and his health, the shoulder, everything and the medical people support that — he knows that he has a coaching staff and a team that will welcome him in when he says go," Brown said. "He also understands the season is around the corner in terms of the end of the regular season." SIMMONS STATEMENT Simmons warmed up and was introduced while wearing a blue "March for our Lives" T-shirt as students from around the country demonstrated against gun violence. UP NEXT Timberwolves: Host Memphis on Monday night (Tuesday, PHL time) in the first of three straight against teams with losing records. 76ers: Host Denver on Monday night (Tuesday, PHL time)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 25th, 2018

New era, new challenges emerge for Warriors

By David Aldridge, TNT Analyst "It’s the lack of faith that makes people afraid of meeting challenges, and I believe in myself. He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life. I figured that if I said it enough, I would convince the world that I really was the greatest." -- Muhammad Ali Ali defended his heavyweight championship 20 times, during two eras: when he was young and unstoppable, after beating Sonny Liston in Miami in 1964, and when he was old and vulnerable, after beating George Foreman in Zaire in 1974. He was the fastest heavyweight ever in the first era; he was smart and could take a punch in the second. A generation later, the Golden State Warriors are defending their NBA title for a second time, in three years. But they, too, are doing so in two eras. In 2014, no one had seen anything like what Golden State did on a basketball court, and how Stephen Curry’s and Klay Thompson’s shooting range changed the geometry of NBA defenses. They stretched to the breaking point trying to get out to Curry and Thompson. They couldn’t figure out how to handle the Warriors’ five-man switching defenses. They couldn’t stand up under Golden State’s withering pace. There is no need to hold a telethon yet for the Warriors, three years later. They are 49-14 today, with four All-Stars among their five starters, including Kia MVP candidate Kevin Durant, in the prime of his career, who wasn’t there when the Warriors first beat the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2015 Finals. They are still first in the league in Offensive Rating, first in True Shooting Percentage, first in Effective Field Goal Percentage. They still are unsolvable to most opponents. But maybe not all, not anymore. The margin of separation between Golden State and the rest of the league is still there, most of the time. But there are tiny signs of slippage. Tiny. You recall what Warriors assistant coach Bruce Frasier said in the preseason, when no one is injured and everyone thinks they’re going 82-0. “Teams are starting to figure us out a little bit,” he said then. “We’re talented, so that sometimes overrides strategy. But I feel like teams are figuring certain things out to do to counter what they’ve seen. Year one, it was really hard, because it was all new. The pieces have changed a little bit, but I feel like our challenge will be to see if we can layer on some of the offense, our fluid movement, and counters, and change things up, and execute better. Defense is always big, too, so I wouldn’t go into the complacent (problem). I think it’s going to be more execution, and how smart can we really be, and can we keep that energy up through this year?” In each of their previous three seasons, the Warriors led the league in margin of victory -- 10.1 points in 2014-15, 10.8 points in 2015-16 and 11.6 points last season. This year, though, they’ve fallen to third, behind the Houston Rockets and Toronto Raptors -- and their win margin is down to 8.5 points per game. Two years ago, the Warriors were fourth in the league in Defensive Rating (100.9). Last season, Golden State was second (101.1). This season, the Warriors are fifth, at 103.4. In 2014-15, they were 14th in the league in points allowed in the paint; this year, they’re 24th (to be fair, they were 23rd last year, when they won it all anyway). Are they bored? Tired? Aging? Is their bench inconsistency this year the result of vets saving themselves for the playoffs, or guys just getting old? And will it matter against anyone other than Houston? “Once you start getting a little older, it’s harder and harder,” guard Shaun Livingston said last week. “We definitely need the youth, we definitely need the health. We’ve got to be healthy. We’ve got to be healthy. Sometimes you see teams that maybe are over the hill -- they have the experience, but maybe not (the ability). It’s human nature. Obviously, I don’t think we’re there yet. We’ve got guys that are still in their prime. It’s mental now.” In the Jean-Pierre Coopman phase of their latest title defense (oh, how one misses spectacles like Ali fighting Coopman, the “Lion of Flanders” -- with Pat Summerall and Tom Brookshier on the call!), the Warriors came to Washington last week. There was no White House visit on the docket, only time with D.C. area kids and a trip to the African-American History Museum, with owner Joe Lacob and GM Bob Myers on the trip as well. They have been in the public eye for five years now, back to Mark Jackson’s last season as coach, when the Splash Brothers exploded into the national consciousness. That’s a long time for one NBA team to have all that light and heat on it. For a minute, the Warriors tried to convince themselves that there was a backlash building against them nationally, that people had grown tired of their 3-pointers and video game point totals. It was, of course, a ridiculous posit -- Golden State and its players are more popular than ever, the love for Curry such that he felt perfectly comfortable posting a photo of the glass table he accidentally smashed in his hotel room on Instagram, any criticism surely to be muted amid America’s love for the two-time MVP.   when you feel like you’re on the @pgatour so you gotta get some swings going in the hotel room 😂😂😂 #idiot A post shared by Wardell Curry (@stephencurry30) on Mar 1, 2018 at 1:33pm PST “There was a little guy who was probably eight years old, and he came up and introduced himself,” Steve Kerr said. “His name was Ryan, and I’m talking to him, and he goes ’oh, my God, there’s Quinn Cook!’ And he ran over to Quinn Cook. Not Steph, not me -- he loved Quinn Cook. That was cool.” Throughout the Warriors’ run, they’ve faced down different challengers in the Western Conference -- the first iteration of the Rockets with Harden, a hybrid inside-out attack where Houston unhappily and unsuccessfully tried to meld Harden and Dwight Howard in the post. The Durant/Russell Westbrook one-two combo in Oklahoma City. The Spurs, morphing from the Tim Duncan/Tony Parker-led team to the Kawhi Leonard-dominant one. The “Lob City” Clippers, followed by the Chris Paul/Blake Griffin halfcourt version. But this season’s Rockets, with Paul at the point, may be the most unique and dangerous threat to the Warriors. They are much more than a team that just rains 3-pointers on you -- though they most certainly do that, and do it historically well. They’re also an outstanding defensive team, with the additions of P.J. Tucker and Luc Mbah a Moute giving them a grit they haven’t had in past seasons to pair with the shot blocking and rim presence of Clint Capela. The numbers are stark: Houston is 32-1 this season when Paul, Harden and Capela all play, including two wins over the Warriors The Rockets have no obvious weakness. They have no fear of Golden State, either, having won two of the three meetings with the Warriors this season. It’s not just that they’re good, it’s how they’re good that makes them look like the greatest challenge yet to Golden State’s hegemony in the West. “I mean, yes, because they do it a different way, I guess,” Curry said last week. “They adopted the power of the three ball and try to use it as a main weapon, and obviously with James and CP together. Honestly, we know that they’re playing well. We’re chasing that number one seed and keeping tabs on how they’re playing and whatnot. But at the end of the day, we’ve got a lot of time left before we have to face them again. We know they’re serious. But so are we.” The Warriors have had to deal with great adversity during their run, to be sure. The biggest challenge came about this time last year, when a collision between teammates -- Zaza Pachulia and Durant, in D.C., ironically -- culminated in a Grade 2 MCL sprain and bone bruise for Durant, taking him out of the lineup at the worst possible part of the season. Golden State had just ripped off wins in 23 of its previous 27 games since a lamentable Christmas Day loss to the Cavs. Curry had started to figure out how to play with KD, and vice versa. They were in the middle of a brutal stretch of seven road games in eight overall, with the one brief return home to play the Celtics. When Durant went down, the initial fear was that he’d torn his ACL and would be out for the season. The Warriors’ locker room was funeral after the Wizards game. “Obviously, we were trying to figure out if he was like ’done-done’ for the year, or whether or not there was going to be a chance he’d return,” forward David West said. “We were, at the time he got hurt, we were just starting to figure out the sort of roles, everybody was getting comfortable with roles. We basically had to reset., change some of the functions we were doing. We lost a few games  trying to literaly just figure out and recalibrate and re-balance. That was one of those periods where we were just looking at each other, trying to start this thing -- we lost this huge, huge piece.” Yet the Warriors figured it out on the fly. And how they responded then provides a big clue to how they might respond to the challenge the Rockets present to them now. “It took us, I think we needed to get home before we were able to stablize,” Kerr said. “I want to say we lost three of the last four on the trip or something  (they did lose three of four, but one of the three losses was at Oracle in that one home game with the Celtics). We got home and righted the ship and got going. But sometimes (an injury is) a galvanizing force when a guy gets hurt, and you have to do certain things. Like, for us, when Kevin got hurt, we talked about it and we said we have to be the best defensive team in the league. We don’t have that luxury of throwing the ball to Kevin and saying ’get us 30 points tonight.'” During that stretch without Durant (March 2, 2017 to April 5, 2017), who returned just before the start of the playoffs, the Warriors led the league in the league in Defensive Rating (100.0, just head of San Antonio’s 100.2), first in opponent field goal percentage (.429), tied for second in opponent 3-point percentage (.316) and fourth in opponent points allowed per game (100.9). And once Durant returned for good, the Warriors again flexed. They tore through the West, winning all but one game en route to a third straight NBA Finals. And they took the Cavaliers apart in five games for their second title in three years. “You could see Draymond, Klay, Andre, Shaun, those guys, even Loon (Kevin Looney), were like, ’we didn’t have KD last year,’ ” West said. “For someone like myself, I just followed their lead. Klay got a little more aggressive. Draymond sort of settled everybody defensively. And we started winning.” That muscle memory will come in handy this year. Durant and Curry have missed time with injuries, and Golden State hasn’t figured out things at center just yet. (Would it shock me if rookie Jordan Bell played a big role there down the stretch? No, it would not.) But the Warriors still are smoking people in the second halves of games; per teamrankings.com, the Warriors lead the lead in third-quarter scoring margin at 5.3 points per game, more than double the margin of the second-place Denver Nuggets. Whether it’s adjustments or something else (“mainly, fiery halftime speeches, Knute Rockne style,” Kerr opines), they have again put a lot of opponents away with 12 minutes to spare. Since the All-Star break, they’re fourth in the league in opponent field goal percentage (.433) and Defensive Rating (100.3). “This year, obviously, knock on wood, we want to stay healthy,” Curry said. “We want to continue to push in the right direction. Every year’s different. That’s the fun part about this league. No matter how much success you’ve had and what your expectations are, it’s a different journey every year. We’re right in the middle of that right now. We have an amazing record, considering how we’ve played. I think we’d all say we haven’t lived up to our own expectations. That’s okay. We have an opportunity to build the right habits and the right momentum going into the playoffs this year and do it, all 15 guys.” 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 NewsMar 6th, 2018

Promising signs from Bulls young guns

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com In time, Zach LaVine’s return, development and eventual career arc will determine to a large extent how successful the Bulls’ Draft Night trade of Jimmy Butler to Minnesota was. For now, and until LaVine suits up this season and beyond, his value to Chicago is strictly to be determined. The two-time NBA Slam Dunk champ is back in the practice gym in his recovery from left knee (anterior cruciate ligament) surgery. Playing 1-on-1 with teammates, working out with the G-League Windy City Bulls in Chicago’s northwest suburbs and improving his timing and his conditioning, LaVine is penciled in to make his season debut before the end of 2017. Meanwhile, though, the Bulls have two other pieces to show from the Butler deal: stretch-four forward Lauri Markkanen and point guard Kris Dunn. Both have offered glimpses of what they can do and how they might fit into the team’s long-term vision that someday won’t prioritize losing. Markkanen, the lanky Finn by way of the University of Arizona, is averaging 13.8 points, 7.6 rebounds and in 30 minutes. He’s putting up 7.2 three-point shots per game and hitting 31.7 percent. His 140 attempts from the arc ranked 14th in the NBA – more than Bradley Beal (126), more than Carmelo Anthony (125) – and Markkanen’s 48 makes are the most by any player in his first 20 games. Dunn, whose disappointing 2016-17 rookie season with Minnesota essentially has gotten a reset, was at 12 ppg, 4.8 rpg and 4.2 apg after having 19 points, five rebounds and five assists in Thursday night's (Friday, PHL time) loss at Denver. The 23-year-old from Providence is shooting 43.2 percent on three-pointers (43.2 percent)  and his steal percentage of 3.8 – an estimate of the percent of opponents’ possessions ending in Dunn steals – ranked No. 1 in the NBA. Their trajectories have been somewhat different so far in 2017-18: Markkanen has been consistent while fighting through a flu bug and some road weariness, while Dunn has played his best most recently. But they’ve both contributed in ways that, aside from the Bulls’ relentless losing, suggests brighter days and in time a positive verdict on that headline-grabbing, bit-spitting trade. Markkanen: Stays cool, likes cold, shoots hot It’s fair to say that the Bulls, when they acquired Markkanen as the No. 7 selection in the Draft last June, got a sleeper. No, literally. That’s about all the 20-year-old native of Vantaa, Finland was able to do after a hectic spring leading up to the draft followed by a tortuous summer at the Las Vegas Summer League and a key role for his home country’s national team in the FIBA Eurobasket 2017 tournament. Markkanen’s single season at Arizona not only acclimated him to the American game, it earned him all-American status and a taste of the NCAA tournament before the Wildcats lost to Xavier. In the Euro competition, he averaged 19.5 points and 5.7 rebounds before heading to Chicago for an early jump on training camp. “When he came over here, he was exhausted,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “The week before training camp was completely lost time – he needed to recharge his batteries. So, we really didn’t know what we had. He was still tired when we started camp. We didn’t throw him out there for all the drills, just as part of the process in getting his body back. “But then every time he stepped on the floor, he showed a little more.” First Markkanen demonstrated he would crack the rotation. Then – when forwards Nikola Mirotic (facial injuries) and Bobby Portis (suspension for the punch that caused them) rendered themselves unavailable two days before the season opener – Markkanen was thrust into the starting lineup. Butterflies? Rookie mistakes? Not so much. Markkanen looked almost unflappable in averaging 17.2 points and 9.3 rebounds through his first six appearances, with a high of 25 points at Miami and double-doubles against San Antonio and Atlanta. “We had to adjust our offense,” Hoiberg said, “and put in some new things to try to get him the ball in different spots on the floor, because of his versatility to score.” Justin Holiday was one of the teammates who learned quickly to get the ball more often to the tall blond guy. “He’s playing consistent, and that’s a very mature thing to do in this league,” Holiday said. “What’s maybe surprising is his confidence in shooting the ball. He’s not afraid to shoot it.” Said Markkanen, whose father Pekka lettered at Kansas before returning home to play professionally: “I’m expecting big things from myself. I think that’s what motivates me every day. Whatever I do, I’m not satisfied. So, I try to set higher goals every time I step on the court. Try to do things better. “It’s going to get harder, I know that. I’m trying to face it like any other job. Just go at it positively, fight through it, put the work in, and I think it will work itself out.” At 20 games and counting, Markkanen will soon blow by the 37 he played in college, and the workload probably has something to do with his recent production; in his five most recent games before Thursday (Friday, PHL time), he shot 25.4 percent, including 11-of-39 from the arc. He says he has adjusted from one game to the next – “I don’t want to give my scouting report, but I try to add something new and figure out what they’re going to throw at me,” he said. He even drew praise from the great LeBron James after hitting four three-pointers in the fourth quarter of a preseason game against the Cavaliers. Markkanen hasn’t been fooled by Chicago’s relatively balmy late-autumn weather and has to be one of the few NBA players to welcome winter’s chill (“I’m actually looking forward to snow”). He isn’t flinching from the Bulls’ task at hand, either, which looks longer and more laborious with each lopsided defeat. “I understand this part of a process,” said Markkanen, who would appear to be on his way to the Rising Stars Challenge game at All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles. “We’ve got a young group. We’re having tough times. ... It’s about sticking together and having everyone know that. We can’t afford to not trust or not be a good teammate.” Dunn: Pushing a personal reset button Dunn’s young career was looking a little snakebit. He suffered a concussion in the first game he played for Minnesota in the 2016 Las Vegas Summer League. This time, he had to leave the Bulls’ Vegas entry early to attend to family matters. Then the point guard got hurt in a preseason game against Milwaukee Oct. 7 (Oct. 8, PHL time), winding up with an “open dislocation” of his left index finger. All those setbacks cost Dunn valuable learning time, as far as running first the Wolves’ and then the Bulls’ attacks. He never fully recovered from it last season, sputtering through a rookie season that fell far short of his and others’ expectations. His fellow Class of 2016 draftees had voted him the most likely to snag the Rookie of the Year award, but it went instead to Milwaukee’s Malcolm Brogdon, who’d been chosen in the second round 31 spots after Dunn. This time, Dunn was out of action until Chicago’s fifth regular season game. And the delay showed in his performances: 9.8 points per game, 4.5 rebounds, 3.4 assists, and 38.6 percent shooting in his first eight games. One Bulls insider said Dunn “had a lot going on in his head” from last season’s failures, even as he tried to get traction in Chicago. Said Holiday, 28, who went undrafted and bounced through five organizations in barely three years from 2013 to 2016: “When you’re young, man, everybody’s pushing. Who knows what was going on his head? He might have been trying to be perfect. Sometimes it takes time. It’s a big role. “But he has the confidence to do it, where last year maybe he didn’t have as much confidence. All you can really do is go out and play hard, and if it works out, it works out.” Over Dunn’s past seven games before Thursday (Friday, PHL time), he was a more effective, more efficient player: 13.6 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 5.0 apg, while averaging 2.1 steals and 27.7 minutes. He had made 9-of-15 three-pointers, compared to 6-of-21 to start the season. Already in the five weeks he’s been active, he has played about 30 percent of the total minutes he got in 78 appearances for Minnesota’s Tom Thibodeau. The Bulls have been 3.6 points better when he’s been on the floor, too. That’s not enough to tip outcomes, but keep in mind the Wolves were 2.6 points worse a year ago with Dunn in the game. He played probably his best NBA game Tuesday against Phoenix, scoring 24 points on 10 of 16 shooting with eight assists, four rebounds and four steals. If not for a couple of egregious turnovers among his four, he might have agreed with Hoiberg’s “terrific” assessment. That performance came 48 hours after Dunn had scored two points and missed all six of his field-goal attempts against Miami. Hoiberg sought him out and demanded that the second-year guard play more aggressively, and Dunn proved his coach right. “He called me out,” Dunn said. “When a coach calls you out, you try to play as hard as you can. I had to get through my mind, ‘Go out and play the way I used to play. With that aggression. On defense, on offense. Try to stay down in errors as much as I can and get everybody involved.’ “I want to be an elite point guard one day and I understand, the best point guards don’t make those killer turnovers. If I want to reach my goal, I have to get better each and every day in practice, watch film and, y’know, think a little smarter when you’re playing.” Some have suggested Boston’s Marcus Smart as a legitimate comparison for Dunn, given their defensive aptitudes and challenges both face when shooting from range. Dunn is a huge fan of Smart, but believes he can be a full-service, top-notch playmaker. Mostly, he finally looks comfortable with this reset to his NBA experience. “Individually for me, it is a reset,” Dunn said. “I say this is my first year because I didn’t get too many minutes and I didn’t play the right position in Minnesota. I was a two, a three, sometimes a one. But this is my first year of [regularly] playing the point guard. As a team, we don’t have Jimmy, we don’t have [Rajon] Rondo, we don’t have Dwyane Wade, so we’re all trying to figure it out. Everybody is trying to step up and come together as a unit.” With LaVine’s debut now weeks rather than months away, the Bulls – and their skeptical fans – will be able to more fully judge the yield from that Butler trade. Two out of three so far are giving glimmers of hope. Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 1st, 2017

Baseball owners approve sale of Marlins to Derek Jeter group

em>By Steve Wine, Associated Press /em> MIAMI (AP) — The Miami Marlins are Derek Jeter's problem now. Major league owners on Wednesday unanimously approved the sale of the woebegone franchise by Jeffrey Loria to an investment group led by Jeter and Bruce Sherman. The deal needed 75 percent approval. A signed $1.2 billion agreement was submitted to Major League Baseball last month to sell the Marlins to a group led by Sherman, a venture capitalist who will be the controlling owner. Jeter, the former New York Yankees captain, plans to be a limited partner in charge of the business and baseball operations. The closing on the sale is expected within a few days. 'I congratulate Mr. Sherman on receiving approval from the Major League Clubs as the new control person of the Marlins,' Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement, 'and look forward to Mr. Jeter's ownership and CEO role following his extraordinary career as a player.' The Marlins have endured another disappointing year and are assured of their eighth consecutive losing season, the longest streak in the majors. They'll sit out the playoffs for the 14th year in a row, the longest streak in the National League. They're also likely to finish last in the NL in attendance for the 12th time in the past 13 years, creating revenue constraints that may lead to a payroll purge in Jeter's first offseason as an owner. Among players who might be shopped is major league home run leader Giancarlo Stanton, whose salary will nearly double next year to $25 million in the fourth season of his record $325 million, 13-year contract. The transition to new ownership has already begun, with four well-known Marlins executives told last week they won't be retained. They were special assistant to the president Jeff Conine, who goes by the nickname Mr. Marlin, and three special assistants to the owner — Hall of Famers Andre Dawson and Tony Perez, and former manager Jack McKeon, who led the Marlins to the 2003 World Series championship. Team president David Samson is not expected to be retained. Manager Don Mattingly is a former teammate of Jeter's and may return. Following another loss Wednesday at Colorado, the team's reaction to the approval of the sale was muted. 'Obviously it's going to be a new group and a new thought process, and we'll see where that goes,' Mattingly said. 'We were assuming it was going to get official at some point and then we'll have some type of direction, which way we want to go. But that just hadn't happened yet, so it's hard to react to it.' Loria, 76, became widely unpopular because of his frugal ownership and the public financing that helped build the five-year-old Marlins Park. He bought the franchise for $158.5 million in 2002 from John Henry, part of the Boston Red Sox ownership group that has celebrated three World Series titles. 'Part of the deal is acknowledging when it's time to pass the baton to the next generation, and wish them well in taking things to the next level,' Loria said in a statement. 'With that in mind, I can't think of anyone better suited than Bruce Sherman and Derek Jeter. They are true baseball people, as well as true gentlemen. I have every confidence in their ability as the next stewards of the Miami Marlins to take us to new heights.' Jeter, who lives in Tampa, was a 14-time All-Star shortstop who retired in 2014 after 20 seasons with the Yankees. He has no front-office experience but has long talked of his desire to own a team. Sherman spent much of his financial career in New York and has a home in Naples, Florida. Minority owners are expected to include NBA Hall of Famer Michael Jordan, who will have a small stake. Loria's decision to sell the team became public in February, and Jeter's interest surfaced in April. The Jeter-Sherman group beat out two other groups that pursued the team in the final weeks of negotiations. 'I wish the best to Jeffrey Loria and David Samson,' Manfred said. 'During their tenures, the Marlins won the 2003 World Series, hosted this season's successful All-Star Week at spectacular Marlins Park and eagerly supported our efforts to grow the game internationally.' .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 28th, 2017

Irving s 27 points, 18 assists leads Celtics past Raptors

By Jimmy Golen, Associated Press BOSTON (AP) — Kyrie Irving hit a foul-line fadeaway to give Boston the lead, then hit a 31-foot three-pointer to finish with 27 points and lead the Celtics past the NBA-leading Toronto Raptors 117-108 on Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time). Returning after missing the last game with a bruised right leg, Irving had 10 points and six of his career-high 18 assist in the fourth quarter — including passes to set up Boston's last three baskets in a game-ending 17-4 run. Al Horford scored 24 and Jayson Tatum had 16 points with 10 rebounds for Boston, which returned home after losing three straight on the road. Kawhi Leonard scored 33 points and Serge Ibaka had 22 with 10 rebounds for the Raptors, who had won five in a row heading into the matchup of two teams that consider themselves the heir to LeBron James' Cavaliers as the best team in the East. Toronto (33-13) fell percentage points behind Milwaukee (32-12) for the best records in the NBA. Toronto led 104-100 after Leonard's three-point play with 4:22 left before Boston scored 17 of the next 19 points. Tatum had a three-point play and then a three-pointer to give Boston a 106-104 lead, before Toronto tied it. Irving then hit consecutive baskets, popping his jersey for the adoring crowd after connecting on the second from just a step or two inside the center tipoff circle. He then went to the pass, assisting on Boston's last three baskets of the game before Toronto's last bucket ended it. After adding Leonard in the offseason, the Raptors have zoomed to the top of the conference standings. But despite getting Irving and Gordon Hayward back from injuries that kept them out of last year's playoffs, when the team went to the conference finals, the Celtics have stumbled their way to the fifth-best record in the East. Leonard scored nine in the first quarter, when the Raptors opened an 18-7 lead in the first five minutes. Boston cut it to six at the end of the first and then went on a 12-2 run early in the second to take the lead. It was 46-44 with just over four minutes left in the half when the Celtics scored 11 of the next 13 points to open a double-digit lead. In all, Toronto scored just 17 points in the second, missing all nine 3-point attempts. The Celtics made just one of their first 11 shots in the fourth, giving up nine straight points to trail 92-89 midway through the quarter. But Aron Baynes, who had made 12 three-pointers all season, hit one from the top of key to stop the run and tie it. TRAINER'S ROOM Kyle Lowry, who finished with 10 points and seven assists, was poked in the left eye by teammate Pascal Siakam while the two were trying to defend Marcus Smart in the lane. Lowry went down under the basket for the rest of the possession but stayed in the game after a timeout. Baynes, who missed a month with a broken bone in his left hand, returned and played 14 minutes, scoring nine points with five rebounds. Irving and Smart also returned after missing Monday's (Tuesday, PHL time) game in Brooklyn. UP NEXT Raptors: Return home for the second half of a back-to-back against the Phoenix Suns. Celtics: Host Memphis on Friday night (Saturday, PHL time)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 17th, 2019

Young wins point guard battle, Hawks top Thunder 142-126

By Charles Odum, Associated Press ATLANTA (AP) — Trae Young had 24 points and 11 assists to win the showdown of past and former Atlanta point guards, leading the Hawks over the Oklahoma City Thunder 142-126 on Tuesday night (Wednesday, PHL time). Former Hawks point guard Dennis Schroder scored 21 points in his return to Atlanta. Schroder struggled early but had 14 points in the third period when the Thunder outscored the Hawks 41-27 to reclaim the lead. Atlanta was similarly dominant in the second period, outscoring Oklahoma City 45-30 to match its high mark for any quarter this season. After holding a big lead of 15 points, the last time at 70-55, the Hawks led 70-59 at halftime. Led by Schroder and Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City answered strong in the third period. A jumper by Westbrook tied the game at 87-all. Schroder scored the Thunder's final 11 points of the third period, the last six on free throws, for a 100-97 lead. John Collins made 12-of-14 shots from the field and led Atlanta with 26 points. Alex Len had 24 points and 11 rebounds. The Hawks were 18-of-37 on three-pointers. Westbrook led the Thunder with 31 points and 11 assists. Paul George had 24 points and Jerami Grant added 21. Young, Atlanta's rookie starter, opened the final period with a tying three-pointer. Young added a three-point play and another basket as the Hawks regained momentum. A jam by Omari Spellman pushed Atlanta's lead to 117-107, and another dunk by Spellman pushed the advantage to 121-109. George sank a three-pointer with about 90 seconds remaining to cut Atlanta's lead to 132-123, but the Hawks quickly pushed the advantage back to double figures. A steal and reverse jam by DeAndre Bembry iced the win. The Hawks had a "welcome back" video tribute for Schroder during a first-quarter timeout. Schroder raised his arm to acknowledge the fans. The Hawks wore new powder blue uniforms with red trim and numbers for the first time. The uniforms were introduced as part of the Hawks' 50-year celebration in Atlanta. TIP-INS Thunder: F Nerlens Noel (concussion protocol) "is doing a little more each day," coach Billy Donovan said before the game. ... G Alex Abrines (personal reasons) missed his eighth straight game. Hawks: G Jeremy Lin (flu-like symptoms) was not with the team. F Taurean Prince was limited in his second game back while recovering from similar symptoms. ... G Kent Bazemore (right ankle sprain) and F Dewayne Dedmon (left ankle sprain) did not play. Dedmon may return Saturday (Sunday, PHL time) against Boston. UP NEXT Thunder: Host Lakers on Thursday (Friday, PHL time). Hawks: Host Celtics on Saturday (Sunday, PHL time)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 16th, 2019

Celtics top sloppy Nets on Irving s return

Kyrie Irving returned after missing two games with an eye injury and scored 17 points to lead eight players in double figures as the Boston Celtics beat the Brooklyn Nets, 116-95......»»

Category: newsSource:  philstarRelated NewsJan 8th, 2019

White, Aldridge lead Spurs past Grizzlies, 108-88

By Raul Dominguez, Associated Press SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Derrick White scored 19 points, LaMarcus Aldridge added 18 and the San Antonio Spurs overcame a sluggish start to beat Memphis 108-88 on Saturday night (Sunday, PHL time), handing the Grizzlies their fifth straight loss. San Antonio won for the 12th time in 15 games and is 4.5 games out of first in the Western Conference. Mike Conley had 21 points in 25 minutes for Memphis, which has dropped to 12th in the West. Jaren Jackson Jr. and Dillon Brooks, who added 15 points apiece, were the only other Grizzlies in double figures. The Grizzlies outscored the Spurs 20-11 to start the fourth quarter, trimming a 24-point lead. Memphis pulled within 95-86 with 5 minutes remaining on Brooks' third three-pointer, but San Antonio's starters reclaimed a double-digit lead. The Spurs had a slow start coming off a highly emotional victory Thursday (Friday, PHL time) over Toronto in Kawhi Leonard's return to San Antonio. The Spurs started the game 1-for-6 against the Grizzlies and did not collect their initial basket until more than two minutes into the game. San Antonio got going following a timeout by coach Gregg Popovich, outscoring Memphis 19-10 to end the first quarter and then outscoring by 18 in the second to take a 64-44 lead at the half. Everything seemed to go right for the Spurs after that. Aldridge shook his head and laughed in the first half after he banked in a fadeaway shot he threw up after nearly tumbling backwards after he was bumped by Marc Gasol. Jakob Poeltl ended up with a dunk in the second half for the Spurs after diving to push the ball forward after he lost the dribble. Davis Bertans dove for the loose ball and tossed it toward halfcourt, where Patty Mills scooped the ball backward and underhanded off one foot as he jumped out of bounds and Poeltl collected it in the lane for a dunk. TIP-INS Grizzlies: Justin Holiday scored two points in 20 minutes in his debut with Memphis after being acquired from Chicago in a trade Thursday (Friday, PHL time) for MarShon Brooks and Wayne Selden. . Conley was listed as probable with a sore left shoulder but was cleared to play before pregame workouts. . Gasol played after testing a sore left hamstring prior to the game. . The Grizzlies' season-low for the second quarter is 11 points, which they were held to against Houston on Dec. 15 (Dec. 16, PHL time). Spurs: DeMar DeRozan became the sixth San Antonio player with 900-plus points through 40 games. He has 902 points, which is the third-most of his career. . Aldridge's five assists in the first half were the most he's had in any half with the Spurs. His career high for a half is six in 2014 while with Portland. . The 20-point advantage entering the third was San Antonio's third-largest halftime lead this season. . The Spurs outscored the Grizzlies by 18 points in the second quarter, which is their largest point differential in the second. UP NEXT Grizzlies: At New Orleans on Monday night (Tuesday, PHL time). Spurs: At Detroit on Monday night (Tuesday, PHL time)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 6th, 2019

Prescott, Cowboys push past Seahawks for 24-22 wild-card win

By Schuyler Dixon, Associated Press ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Dak Prescott saw an opening up the middle, then three defenders between him and the first down. The Dallas quarterback found a way to get there, and get his first playoff victory two years after a sensational rookie season ended in disappointment. Ezekiel Elliott rushed for 137 yards and the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter, Prescott scored on a sneak after his dazzling head-over-heels run and the Cowboys hung on for a 24-22 wild-card win over the Seattle Seahawks on Saturday night. The win for the Cowboys (11-6) was the first for Elliott and Prescott after losing a divisional game in their playoff debut as first-year stars two years ago. Dallas will play at either New Orleans or the Los Angeles Rams in the divisional round next weekend. "It's really just a chance to keep going on, simple as that," Prescott said. "Me and this whole team, we want to win it all. You can't do that without taking care of the first one. A lot of excitement, but my goal is bigger than just one playoff win." The loss ended a run of nine straight victories in playoff openers for the Seahawks (10-7). The Elias Sports Bureau says it was the longest streak in NFL history. Leading 17-14, Prescott faced third-and-14 from the Seattle 17 with the 2-minute warning approaching. He took off up the middle on a QB draw, barged through a trio of defenders 6 yards short of the first and went down at the 1 when he was flipped head-first by Tedric Thompson. Prescott, who also had an 11-yard scoring pass to Michael Gallup in the first half, scored on the next play in the eighth win in nine games for the Cowboys. "He's just a rare guy," coach Jason Garrett said. "His leadership, his toughness, just his way, his spirit. It's like none other. Somehow, some way, he's going to figure this thing out for us." Dallas' defense, ranked in the top 10 most of the season, stifled the NFL's No. 1 rushing offense and mostly kept quarterback Russell Wilson under control and handed him his first loss in four wild-card games. The Seahawks had finished the regular season with six wins in seven games to secure Wilson's sixth playoff trip in seven years despite a roster overhaul and 0-2 start. "This has been a special, special year," Wilson said. "Just the growth of our team, the men in the locker room, just the way that we've played together, just eliminating the doubters and the things that people thought that we could only do." Prescott, the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2016 when the Cowboys lost to Green Bay at home as the top seed in the NFC, threw for 226 yards, and his sneak for what appeared to be a clinching score because Dallas burned more than five minutes while taking 24-14 lead. But Tyler Lockett's 53-yard catch set up a quick Seattle touchdown — Wilson's 7-yard scoring pass to J.D. McKissic. The Seahawks got within two on their second 2-point conversion following an injury to Sebastian Janikowski. The missing kicker left the Seahawks no good options on an onside kick with 1:18 remaining. Punter Michael Dickson's drop kick was caught by Cole Beasley at the Dallas 31, sealing the first playoff win for the Cowboys since beating Detroit in the wild-card round in the 2014 season. After Wilson ran for 4 yards for a touchdown and Mike Davis' 2-point conversion run put Seattle up 14-10 late in the third quarter, Prescott led a 67-yard drive to put the Cowboys back in front for good. A 34-yard pass to Amari Cooper , who had seven catches for 106 yards, led to Elliott's 1-yard plunge after an apparent touchdown by the quarterback was overturned on replay. Prescott then had a chance to give the Cowboys a 10-point lead, but K.J. Wright made a juggling interception in the end zone. Dallas' defense came through again, though, forcing a punt and giving Elliott a highlight play before Prescott added his. The NFL rushing leader stiff-armed Shaquill Griffin on a 17-yard run to get inside the 20. Seattle got a double dose of bad news at halftime when Janikowski missed a 57-yard field goal on the final play and injured his left hamstring. He yelled as he grabbed the back of his leg and limped to the locker room, unable to return. Still, the Seahawks took their first lead basically because the 40-year-old's injury forced them to try. Facing fourth-and-5 in Janikowski's range from the Dallas 39, Doug Baldwin made a toe-dragging catch on the sideline for 22 yards. After Wilson's TD run, the Seahawks pushed their lead to 14-10 on Mike Davis' run. But the Cowboys never did lose control of the Seattle running game after allowing Chris Carson's first career 100-yard game in a Week 3 Seattle win that turned the season for the Seahawks, who finished the regular season with six wins in seven games. Carson had just 20 yards on 13 carries. Wilson was 18 of 27 for 233 yards, with Lockett getting four catches for 120 yards. The Seahawks had 73 yards rushing after averaging 160 during the season. Dallas came in with the No. 5 rushing defense. "Once we go up, we do a pretty good job of getting ourselves back down, knowing that we've got to start over next week and we've got to be able to do it again," linebacker Leighton Vander Esch said. "It's a full attack mode." INJURIES Cowboys receiver Allen Hurns fractured his left ankle in a gruesome first-quarter injury. Owner and general manager Jerry Jones said after the game that Hurns was "probably in surgery at this time." Hurns was being dragged down by Seahawks safety Bradley McDougald at the end of a 14-yard catch for a first down when his lower left leg appeared to buckle. ... Seahawks cornerback Neiko Thorpe left in the first half with a shoulder injury. UP NEXT Cowboys: New Orleans or the Los Angeles Rams on the road in the divisional round next weekend......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 6th, 2019

DeMar DeRozan’s triple-double lift Spurs past Raptors in Kawhii Leonard’s return

SAN ANTONIO --- The Spurs' suffocating defense, scoring runs and fans' unrelenting contempt for the opposing team's star player have often overwhelmed the opposition. Kawhi Leonard has seen it many times in San Antonio, but the Toronto star never experienced it from the opposing bench until Thursday night. It was worse than he expected. DeMar DeRozan 21 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists for first career triple-double and San Antonio welcomed back Leonard with thunderous jeers in the Spurs' 125-107 victory over the Raptors. "You've got to thrive in moments like that," DeRozan said. "You've got to love to play in that type of atmosphere, whether it's at home or on the road. I...Keep on reading: DeMar DeRozan’s triple-double lift Spurs past Raptors in Kawhii Leonard’s return.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJan 4th, 2019

DeRozan has triple-double, Spurs win in Leonard s return

By Raul Dominguez, Associated Press SAN ANTONIO (AP) — DeMar DeRozan had his first career triple-double with 21 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists and the San Antonio Spurs welcomed back Kawhi Leonard with thunderous jeers in a 125-107 victory over the Toronto Raptors on Thursday night (Friday, PHL time). Leonard scored 21 points on 8-for-13 shooting, but the anger the Spurs' fans showered on him seemed to impact the MVP candidate. Leonard had to take a step back at the free throw line and compose himself amid chants of "Traitor! Traitor!" and "Quitter! Quitter!" from the capacity crowd that adored him during his seven seasons in San Antonio. Leonard forced his way out of San Antonio in a trade that yielded DeRozan and Jakob Poeltl from Toronto for Leonard and Danny Green. Leonard was booed heavily from the moment he walked onto the court for warmup. The boos continued during a pregame video tribute and player introductions, whenever he touched the ball and as he walked off the court following the lopsided loss. DeRozan and the Spurs dominated the battle of former teammates, leading by as many as 28 points in snapping the Raptors' three-game winning streak. LaMarcus Aldridge scored 23 points for San Antonio, Bryn Forbes added 20, Derrick White 19 and Rudy Gay 13. The night belonged to DeRozan, though as he became the first San Antonio player with a triple-double at home since Tim Duncan in 2003. After leading by as many as 26 points in the first half, San Antonio opened the second half on a 12-0 run to take a 79-51 lead. The crowd erupted during a sequence of plays when Leonard had the ball tipped away, which led to a slam dunk by White. That possession was followed by Leonard being unable to corral an alley-oop pass, which led to DeRozan tossing in a runner and being fouled by Serge Ibaka. DeRozan made the free throw amid chants of "MVP! MVP!" — something Leonard heard during his time in San Antonio. As the game ended, Gregg Popovich and Leonard embraced in a long hug and the Spurs coach led his former star to San Antonio's bench to greet assistant coach Ettore Messina. TIP-INS Raptors: The Spurs played a tribute video for Leonard and Green prior to the game that ended with "Thank you Danny and Kawhi." . Green ran over to and hugged Popovich prior to tipoff. ... Lowry missed his fourth straight game due to lower back pain. The Raptors lost for the first time in that stretch. Spurs: DeRozan is the first Spurs player to have at least 15 points 10 rebounds and five assists in a half since Tim Duncan in 2007. DeRozan also recorded his first double-double in a half. ... Gay played 23 minutes to Popovich's surprise, who thought the 13-year veteran would miss the game with a sprained left wrist. UP NEXT Raptors: At Milwaukee on Saturday night (Sunday, PHL time). Spurs: Host Memphis on Saturday night (Sunday, PHL time)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 4th, 2019

UAAP: What s next for Juan GDL? Be Desiderio-like leader for UP

In just his second season in the University of the Philippines, Juan Gomez de Liano already turned himself into a worthy selection to the Mythical Team. To do so, he posted per game counts of 16.2 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 5.5 assists all while serving as the table-setter in the Fighting Maroons’ feel-good run to the Finals. And oh, the 19-year-old also became the first player to tally a triple-double in the UAAP since 2006. So what’s next for Juan GDL in his third year? As it turns out, nobody will see it in any statistics or any awards. “They told me it’s my turn to lead the team. I hope I’ll live up to it,” he said, “they” referring to graduated players like Diego Dario and Gelo Vito. Indeed, with the exit of Dario, Vito, Jarrell Lim, and, most importantly, team captain Paul Desiderio, a big void of leadership has been left behind in Diliman. And just as expectations for UP are at an all-time high, the need for a leader for the Fighting Maroons is likewise at a fever pitch. Of course, Season MVP Bright Akhuetie and now-stalwart Jun Manzo are also only ready and raring to step up in that sense. At the same time, though, Juan GDL is nothing but determined to prove he can also carry the burden of being a team leader – especially with high-profile names such as former De La Salle University star Ricci Rivero and ex-US NCAA player Kobe Paras also joining the fold. “With Ricci and Kobe, the most important thing we gotta to is jell together,” he said. In that light, the 6-foot-2 playmaker can learn a thing or two from State U’s pride in Desiderio. In his time in maroon and white, the Cebuano had to find his voice after the graduation of Jett Manuel and with the entries of prized prospects such as Akhuetie and Juan GDL. “Siyempre, hindi talaga naging madali kasi dati, ako yung unang option, pero nung dumating si Juan, dumating si Bright, ibababa mo pride mo para yung team ang umasenso,” he said. And once he did, Desiderio led UP to its first Final Four in 21 years and its first Finals in 32 years. “Yun talaga ang ginawa ko – nagpababa ako ng pride kaya nakarating kami rito,” he said. The good news for the Fighting Maroons is that Juan GDL is confident, as he always is, that he will do just that. As he put it, “I gotta live up to that legacy so, for sure, I’m gonna give my 100 percent as a leader.” --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 3rd, 2019

Jokic’s triple-double helps Nuggets beat Knicks 115-108

By Pat Graham, Associated Press DENVER (AP) — Nikola Jokic had 19 points, 14 rebounds and 15 assists, including a late no-look pass to wrap things up, as the Denver Nuggets kept right on rolling by beating the New York Knicks 115-108 on Tuesday night (Wednesday, PHL time) for their ninth straight home victory. Reserve Malik Beasley added a career-high 23 points for the Western Conference-leading Nuggets, who have now knocked off the Knicks 11 straight times at the Pepsi Center. It was far from easy, though, with the Nuggets needing a big three-pointer from Jokic with 2:55 remaining to finally gain some separation. The struggling Knicks have lost eight in a row. Luke Kornet led the Knicks with 19 points, while reserve Enes Kanter scored 17 points and grabbed 12 points. Kanter recently voiced his displeasure about his role with the Knicks. It was the Jokic show with the seven-footer posting his third triple-double of the season. Jokic did a little bit of everything, including a heads-up play with 1:21 left and Denver leading 111-105. He grabbed a rebound and threw it off the back of Tim Hardaway Jr. as he was falling out of bounds. Later, Jokic delivered a no-look pass to Beasley to seal the win. The Nuggets are steadily getting back to health. They had Gary Harris back after he missed 11 games with a hip injury. Over the weekend, Paul Millsap returned to the court from a broken toe. Millsap had 16 points against the Knicks. Before the game, Nuggets coach Michael Malone voiced his concern over Denver’s defensive intensity of late. The Nuggets tightened things up in the second half after falling behind by as many as 10 points in the second quarter. Knicks guard Emmanuel Mudiay scored 15 points against the team that selected him seventh overall in the 2015 draft. The Nuggets dealt him to the Knicks last February. TIP-INS Knicks: New York’s last win in Denver was Nov. 8, 2006, when Carmelo Anthony suited up for the Nuggets. ... F Noah Vonleh grabbed 14 rebounds. ... F Kevin Knox scored 18. Nuggets: The only starter now missing is Will Barton, who’s getting closer to a return after surgery to repair a hip/core muscle injury. ... G Torrey Craig scored 13. HAPPY BIRTHDAY? Although a popular basketball site lists Malone’s birthday as Jan. 1, 1971, he insisted it was not his birthday. “Somebody else sent me a random text of happy birthday,” Malone said. “It’s a mystery. Don’t believe everything you read.” Asked when his birthday was, Malone joked: “You writing a book?” FIGURING THINGS OUT With several of his starters returning from injuries, Malone is trying to figure out a rotation pattern to keep everyone happy. It’s going to be a work in progress. “None of them need to come back and be Mighty Mouse. We don’t need anyone to save the day,” Malone said. “Come back and do your part.” UP NEXT Knicks: Stop No. 4 on their six-game trip will be Friday (Saturday, PHL time) in Los Angeles against the Lakers. Nuggets: At Sacramento on Thursday (Friday, PHL time)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 2nd, 2019

Walker, Monk lead Hornets past Magic, 125-100

By Justin Parker, Associated Press CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Kemba Walker scored 24 points in just 27 minutes, and the Charlotte Hornets beat Orlando 125-100 on Monday night (Tuesday, PHL time), their 13th straight victory over the Magic. Walker had 20 points on 8-of-11 shooting in the first half and did not play in the fourth quarter. Malik Monk added 21 points as the Hornets put six players in double figures in the easy victory over the Magic and Steve Clifford, who coached Charlotte for five seasons. The Hornets improved to 18-18 with their second win in three games. Aaron Gordon scored 14 points and Nikola Vucevic had 12, but he did not play after leaving the court with a knee injury late in the third quarter. Mo Bamba had 12 rebounds in 18 minutes for the Magic, who opened a six-game trip by having a two-game winning streak snapped. Orlando led 14-4 in the opening minutes, but the Hornets answered with a 20-4 run over the next 4.5 minutes. Charlotte’s first-quarter lead reached 36-23 after a dunk by Monk. Walker found Monk open in the corner for a three-pointer as the first half clock expired, giving the Hornets a 63-53 lead. Cody Zeller added 14 for the Hornets before leaving in the third quarter with a broken right hand. Marvin Williams, Willy Hernangomez and Devonte Graham added 10 apiece. The Hornets got a boost off the bench from rookie guard Graham, who scored all his points in the third quarter, helping the Hornets extend their lead to 95-77 through three. TIP-INS Magic: D.J. Augustin (sprained right ankle) and Jonathan Simmons (sprained left ankle) did not play. Jerian Grant started in place of Augustin. . With the score tied at 18, Jonathan Isaac missed a breakaway dunk. The Hornets took their first lead on the next possession on Jeremy Lamb’s runner and never trailed again. Hornets: Guard Jeremy Lamb strained his right hamstring in the first quarter and did not return. He played nine minutes and finished with nine points and hit all four of his shots. . Zeller also had six rebounds in 24 minutes. UP NEXT Magic: Visit Bulls Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time). Hornets: Host Dallas Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 1st, 2019

Harden s 43 points, triple-double lead Rockets over Memphis

By Kristie Rieken, Associated Press HOUSTON (AP) — James Harden had 43 points, 10 rebounds and 13 assists in his fourth straight 40-point game, leading the Houston Rockets over the Memphis Grizzlies 113-101 on Monday night (Tuesday, PHL time) for their fifth consecutive victory. Harden set an NBA record with his eighth straight game with at least 35 points and five assists, besting Oscar Robertson, who twice had seven-game streaks. Harden finished with his fourth triple-double this season and 39th overall. Houston has won 10 of its last 11 to improve to 21-15. Harden continued his incredible run that has powered Houston’s surge up the Western Conference standings after a slow start, making six three-pointers and 21-of-27 free throws. He has made at least four three-pointers in eight straight games has finished with 30 points or more in 10 games in a row. The Grizzlies cut the lead to nine with about 90 seconds left. But P.J. Tucker made a free throw for Houston before Austin Rivers added a layup to make it 113-101 and seal the victory with about 35 seconds left. Harden grabbed his 10th rebound seconds after that to complete his triple-double. Kyle Anderson had 20 points and Mike Conley added 19 for the Grizzlies, who lost for the seventh time in nine games. Houston was up by 13 to start the fourth and back-to-back baskets by Clint Capela made it 93-77 with about nine minutes left. Harden made four straight free throws for the Rockets later in the fourth to leave them up 98-83. But the Grizzlies scored four quick points, with the last basket coming when Anderson stole the ball from Harden, to cut it to 98-87 with 5.5 to go. Gerald Green answered with a three-pointer and Houston stretched the lead to 103-87 with about four minutes left. The Rockets led by double digits for most of the night and were up by 23 after two free throws by Harden midway through the third quarter. Memphis closed out the third with a 14-3 run to get within 86-73 entering the fourth. Marc Gasol led the way in that stretch, scoring five points. The Rockets led 61-38 at halftime behind 28 points from Harden. He capped his huge first half by making two three's in the last 31 seconds of the half, capped by one that was well behind the line with Anderson in his face. TIP-INS Grizzlies: Gasol has at least one three-pointer in 13 straight games, which ties a career-high. Rockets: James Ennis missed his 10th straight game with a strained right hamstring. Coach Mike D’Antoni said he should return for Houston’s next game. ... Chris Paul missed his fifth game with a strained left hamstring. He said Monday (Tuesday, PHL time) that he’s doing better but doesn’t know when he’ll return. ... Green made four three-pointers in the first quarter and finished with 18 points and six three's. ... Eric Gordon sat out with a bruised right knee. UP NEXT Grizzlies: Host Detroit on Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time). Rockets: Visit Golden State on Thursday night (Friday, PHL time)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 1st, 2019

Westbrook rebounds with triple-double as Thunder beat Mavs

By Murray Evans, Associated Press OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Russell Westbrook had 32 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists, and the Oklahoma City Thunder gained a split of their back-to-back against the Dallas Mavericks, never trailing in a 122-102 victory on Monday night (Tuesday, PHL time). Paul George added 22 points and Jerami Grant had 16 for the Thunder, who had dropped three of their last four games. That included a 105-103 loss at Dallas on Sunday (Monday, PHL time), when Oklahoma City blew a six-point lead in the final 1:59 and Westbrook went 4-of-22 from the field and scored only nine points. Westbrook promised after that game, “We play tomorrow and I’ll be better from then on,” and was true to his word, going 13-of-24 from the field and knocking down midrange bank shots with regularity as the Thunder built a 60-43 halftime lead. Dallas coach Rick Carlisle burned five of his seven timeouts in the first half in an effort to stem the tide, but the Mavericks proved unable to overcome a 1-for-9 start from the field. Dallas committed 29 turnovers, the most ever by a Thunder opponent. Harrison Barnes led Dallas with 25 points, matching his career-high with seven three-pointers in nine attempts, and Luca Doncic had 17 points. The Mavericks are 2-16 on the road, offsetting their 15-3 home record. As the Mavericks were misfiring to start the game, George scored 16 points in the first quarter as Oklahoma City built a 17-point lead. The Thunder led by as many as 22 in the first half. Consecutive three-pointers by Dennis Smith Jr. and Doncic pulled Dallas within 69-57, but a bucket by George, a steal and layup by Westbrook and an alley-oop dunk by Grant off Westbrook’s pass led Carlisle to burn his final timeout at the 6:45 mark of the third quarter, with his team down 75-57. Despite going 8-of-13 from three-point range in the quarter, Dallas made no headway, trailing 92-75 at its end. Barnes hit two more three-pointers to cut the margin to 94-81 with 10:59 left, but George scored and Abdel Nader followed with a three-pointer to rebuild Oklahoma City’s lead. Dallas came no closer than 14 points the rest of the way. TIP-INS Mavericks: F Wesley Matthews returned after missing two games with right foot soreness, but Dallas made F Dirk Nowitzki inactive, citing “return from injury management” after he played 10 minutes on Sunday night (Monday, PHL time). The Mavericks were called for a technical foul with 6:43 left after Carlisle called a timeout Dallas did not have . Dallas went 14-of-38 from three-point range. Thunder: C Steven Adams had 12 points and 13 rebounds . Nerlens Noel scored 15 points in 15 minutes . G Alex Abrines sat out due to what the team called personal reasons. . G Terrance Ferguson started despite being listed as questionable with a stomach illness . The Thunder are 9-2 on New Year’s Eve (Jan. 1, PHL time) since the franchise moved to Oklahoma City . After playing Dallas on consecutive days, the Thunder won’t see the Mavericks again until March 31 (April 1, PHL time). UP NEXT Mavericks: Visit Charlotte on Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time). Thunder: At the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 1st, 2019