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Nuggets beat Kings 114-98 without coach and 2 starters

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

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnNov 21st, 2017

Rookie Ladder: Mavericks Doncic starts on top

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 2nd, 2018

DA s 2018 NBA Offseason Rankings: The Bottom 10

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 8th, 2018

Bledsoe scores 39, Bucks beat Lakers 124-122 in OT

By ALEX VEJAR,  Associated Press LOS ANGELES (AP) — Eric Bledsoe scored 11 of his 39 points in overtime, and the Milwaukee Bucks overcame a huge comeback by the Los Angeles Lakers to win 124-122 on Friday night. Khris Middleton added 28 points and Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 27 for the Bucks, who won their third straight game and second in two nights. They beat the Golden State Warriors on Thursday. Bledsoe scored nine straight points to start the overtime period and give the Bucks a 121-112 lead with 2:35 remaining. The Lakers responded with an 8-0 run. Antetokounmpo split a pair of free throws with 16.4 seconds remaining, and Kyle Kuzma missed a shot on the next possession. Bledsoe made two free throws with 2 seconds remaining seal the win for Milwaukee. Kuzma had 27 points for the Lakers, who will finish with a losing record on the season. Brook Lopez added 20 points, while Julius Randle had 18 points and 10 rebounds. Randle tied the game at 112 on a layup with 1:30 to go in regulation. Bledsoe and Middleton both had opportunities to give the Bucks the lead in the closing seconds, but they each missed. Los Angeles outscored Milwaukee 29-15 to send the game into overtime. Kuzma gave the Lakers a 107-106 lead with 4:57 remaining in the game. It was the first lead for Los Angeles since the first quarter, when it led 21-19 with 5:57 left in the period. Milwaukee built a 20-point lead late in the third quarter that culminated in Brandon Jennings assisting back-to-back baskets by Jabari Parker and Tyler Zeller. Ivica Zubac scored 12 points in the fourth quarter and ignited a 29-9 run that bridged the third and fourth periods for the Lakers. Zubac finished with 16 points. Antetokounmpo made two free throws to cap a 7-0 run and give the Bucks a 50-40 lead with 7:59 remaining in the first half. Los Angeles pulled within six, but fell behind by as many as 14 in the second quarter. Randle dunked the ball ferociously over Tyler Zeller to give the Lakers a 21-17 lead midway through the first quarter. Los Angeles trailed 39-34 despite shooting 78 percent from the field in that period. TIP-INS Bucks: Made 11 3-pointers. Lakers: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was ejected late in the second quarter after vociferously arguing a non-call. He had to be restrained by coach Luke Walton and teammates. UP NEXT Bucks: At the Denver Nuggets on Sunday. Lakers: Host the Sacramento Kings on Sunday......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 31st, 2018

Portland wins 12th straight with 100-87 victory over Detroit

By Anne M. Peterson, Associated Press PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) —Damian Lillard had 24 points, eight assists and seven rebounds, and the Portland Trail Blazers beat the Detroit Pistons 100-87 on Saturday night (Sunday, PHL time) for their 12th straight victory. CJ McCollum added 16 points for the Blazers, who have the longest current winning streak in the league. It's the longest streak for the franchise since it also won 12 in a row in 2002. Portland (43-26) also earned its season-best ninth straight home win -- a timely streak as it tries to hold on to third place in the Western Conference standings. While the Blazers are soaring, the Pistons are struggling. Andre Drummond had 18 points and 22 rebounds in Detroit's 12th consecutive road loss. Blake Griffin had 15 points. The Pistons (30-39) have dropped eight of 10 overall, and currently sit in ninth place in the East. The Pistons trailed by as many as 19 points in the third quarter, but they closed to 84-74 on Stanley Johnson's dunk with 8:18 left. Evan Turner responded with a jumper for the Blazers. After Luke Kennard was whistled for a technical foul, Lillard made a foul shot and McCollum converted a layup to make it 89-74 with 6:19 remaining. Kennard was a game-time decision with a tight hamstring, but he finished with 12 points. Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic got two quick fouls within the first four minutes of the game, so he was replaced by Meyers Leonard. Portland went up 20-9 early. The Blazers led 60-45 at the break. Lillard led all scorers with 12 points. After extending the lead in the third quarter, Lillard went to the bench to start the fourth and it looked as if he might be done for the night. But he returned when Detroit got within 10 points. TIP-INS Pistons: It was the third of a six-game road trip. ... Forward/Center Eric Moreland played at Oregon State. ... Reggie Jackson, who has missed 35 games with a right ankle sprain, participated in a 3-on-3 optional practice earlier this week. Trail Blazers: Terry Stotts tied Nate McMillan for third-most victories as a Blazers coach. Stotts is 266-213. ... The Blazers had lost five straight to the Pistons. ... All five of Portland's starters scored in double figures. UP NEXT The Pistons visit the Sacramento Kings on Monday (Tuesday, PHL time). The Trail Blazers visit the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday (Monday, PHL time)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 18th, 2018

Von s job with SMB is to shoot so he did just that

San Miguel's strength has always been derived from its first group. The Beermen are a top-heavy team. Everyone knows that. However, San Miguel does have some nice names on its bench and Von Pessumal proved Friday that the Beermen's second-unit can win some games just like the first group does. Coming off the bench to play just under 20 minutes, Pessumal fired a career-high 18 points, emerging as San Miguel's second leading scorer against Brgy Ginebra. The Beermen beat the Gin Kings to take an early 1-0 lead in their best-of-7 semifinal series in the 2018 PBA Philippine Cup. "Yung bench namin we believe na we're just as capable as the first group eh. Dapat ganun yung mindset di ba?" Pessumal said after his performance that saw him make seven out of ten shots from the field. "When you come in dapat sustain or even higher yung level of play namin. If we come in we have to sustain yung level or if possible, bring it higher just so when the starters come back in and close the game, it's easier," he added. With the Beermen featuring a loaded lineup, Von's main role with the team is to shoot. During Game 1 Friday, Pessumal did just that. "Ang dali ng basketball dito kasi bibigay mo lang kay June Mar sa post... parang yung spacing na the team provides, I get open so it's just my job to shoot and knock it down. Nothing special naman," he said. "Sinuklian ko lang si coach, kasi he's been encouraging me sa practice, even if I have some bad games talagang he gives me chances. Tapos yung teammates ko, may tiwala sila sakin, if I'm open they'll give it to me and they believe na I can knock it down. So sinuklian ko lang lahat sila," Pessumal added.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 9th, 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

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

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 8th, 2017

Caris LeVert hits floater to lift Nets past Nuggets, 112-110

By MICHAEL KELLY,  Associated Press DENVER (AP) — Caris LeVert hit a floater in the lane with 0.3 seconds left and the Brooklyn Nets scored the last six points to beat the Denver Nuggets 112-110 on Friday night (Saturday, PHL time). The Nets overcame a big bounce-back night from Denver's Nikola Jokic to win their third straight. In an offensive funk for the last four games, Jokic had a season-high 37 points and tied his career best with 21 rebounds. It wasn't enough to prevent Denver's first home loss of the season. Jokic took only one shot Wednesday night in a loss to Memphis, a 3-pointer in the final seconds that would have given Denver the win. He took only 18 shots in the first four games of November but topped that before the end of the third quarter. He had 11 points in the first quarter and a double-double with 20 points and 12 rebounds at halftime. Denver appeared to take control after Jokic blocked Jarrett Allen, grabbed the rebound and fed Malik Beasley for a layup and a 108-106 lead with 1:23 left. After a Brooklyn miss, Paul Millsap's two free throws made it a four-point game. The Nets tied it with 29 seconds left and Jokic was called for traveling with 22 seconds left. LeVert got the ball up top and was blanketed by Gary Harris. He broke through the tight defense to get into the lane and hit a soft lob to give Brooklyn the win. D'Angelo Russell led the Nets with 23 points, and Allen had 18. TIP-INS Nets: DeMarre Carroll scored nine points in 14 minutes in his season debut. He missed the first nine games following right ankle surgery. ... The Nuggets played a short tribute video for Kenneth Faried's return to Denver. Faried was traded to Brooklyn after seven years with the Nuggets. Nuggets: Denver attempted two free throws in the first half and 32 in the second half. ... Harris scored a season-low four points. It is the first time in 12 games he hasn't scored in double figures. GOT YOUR BACK Denver head coach Michael Malone defended Jokic for his comments last week that drew a $25,000 fine from the NBA. Jokic's was dinged for his use of a gay slur after a win in Chicago on Oct. 31. "There's so many things being said about this poor kid, and I understand some of it," Malone said. "Those of us who know him, give the kid a break. He made a mistake, he paid for it, get off his back a little bit. He's a great kid, he loves everybody and meant no offense to anybody. He's going to be fine and let the kid be a 23-year-old young kid who's going to have a great, great future in a Nuggets uniform." UP NEXT Nets: Continue their four-game trip at Golden State on Saturday night. Nuggets: Host Milwaukee on Sunday night......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 10th, 2018

Developing young QBs in NFL a tricky balancing act

By Dennis Waszak Jr., Associated Press NEW YORK (AP) — Start them right away? Ease 'em in? Have them sit a whole season? When it comes to developing young quarterbacks in the NFL, it all depends on who you talk to. Some teams think it's best to throw rookie QBs into the fire to learn on the job. Others prefer to gradually work them into the offense. Some say it's more beneficial to have them grab a cap and clipboard and take it all in from the sideline. "I think every position is the same," Jets offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates said. "If someone can't handle it mentally, then you don't want to put them on the field, because naturally they'll play slower and be thinking instead of reacting." Sam Darnold clearly passed that test for New York, and the No. 3 overall pick in April was under center to start the season. "If a player shows the athletic ability, the talent and has the mental capacity to handle a gameplan and go into a game and be successful," Bates said, "then he's ready to play." That doesn't mean things have necessarily gone smoothly for the former USC star. Darnold's 14 interceptions lead the league and have contributed to the Jets' 3-6 start. So have his 55.0 percent completion rate and 68.3 quarterback rating, which also rank among the worst in the league. Still, some point to these early struggles as crucial building blocks for the future. "I'm going to continue to learn," Darnold said Sunday after a 13-6 loss at Miami in which he threw four INTs. "There's always lessons to be learned." Of the 32 quarterbacks currently listed as starters for their teams, 12 were under center in Week 1 of their first season. On the flipside, some veteran superstar QBs waited a while before they got their chances. Aaron Rodgers was stuck behind Brett Favre in Green Bay before finally starting in his fourth season. Philip Rivers didn't start with the Chargers until his third year, when Drew Brees went to New Orleans. Even Brees didn't get his first NFL start until his second season. Tom Brady, Eli Manning, Ben Roethlisberger and Alex Smith weren't Day 1 starters, either. "In an ideal world, it gets to be like Drew, who had a chance to watch a little, or Tom Brady and Aaron," said former quarterback Rich Gannon, the 2002 NFL MVP and now an analyst for CBS Sports and SiriusXM NFL Radio. Patrick Mahomes sat behind Smith in Kansas City until Week 17 as a rookie last year, and now is a leading MVP candidate as one of the NFL's top gunslinger s with a league-leading 29 TD passes for the 8-1 Chiefs. "We knew that Patrick was very talented, but any time that an NFL team goes with a young quarterback, usually it's a very challenging endeavor," Chiefs owner Clark Hunt said. "Sometimes it takes time, several years, but as we've seen, Andy (Reid) had Patrick ready to go Week 1." Gannon thinks the Chiefs provide the perfect blueprint. "Mahomes had a chance to watch a master of his domain for a year," he said. "Alex Smith knew that system inside and out, has great huddle command and leadership skills. Maybe he doesn't throw it like Mahomes does, but this is a guy who was willing to share and help him for that year, and we're seeing the fruits of it now. "That's the best situation you can have." Again, that depends on who you ask. In the past three drafts, 11 quarterbacks were taken in the first round — including Darnold, Cleveland's Baker Mayfield, Buffalo's Josh Allen, Arizona's Josh Rosen and Baltimore's Lamar Jackson this year. Jackson is the only one to not yet start at least one game. Baltimore has Joe Flacco leading the huddle, but Jackson has still been used in the offense and is the Ravens' second-leading rusher. The Browns wanted to have Mayfield, the No. 1 overall pick this year, sit and learn behind Tyrod Taylor. But like most plans in Cleveland, it backfired. Taylor got hurt in Week 3 and Mayfield was thrust into the lineup, helping the Browns rally to beat the Jets in a nationally televised game and end a 19-game winless streak. Mayfield has shown poise and promise, but lacks playmakers and is dealing with a coaching change after Hue Jackson was fired. In Buffalo, the Bills weren't anticipating Allen starting in the second week. They were taking what coach Sean McDermott called a "calculated" approach. But after AJ McCarron was traded before the season opener and Nathan Peterman bombed in Week 1, McDermott was left with no choice but to turn to Allen. The rookie has been dealing with a sprained right elbow , and is uncertain to play Sunday against the Jets. "When you draft a quarterback like we did, there's a part of it where you have to say, 'Hey, he's going to play either A, B, or C — early, middle, or late or next year.'" McDermott said. "You have to be OK with all of that." The initial plan in Arizona was to have Rosen learn behind Sam Bradford. All that changed when the veteran was ineffective and benched in favor of the No. 10 overall pick. Rosen took his lumps with some turnover-filled performances. Then, Mike McCoy was fired as the Cardinals' offensive coordinator and Bradford was later cut — leaving the job to Rosen. "His demeanor allows him to have success," new offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich said. "Quarterbacking in this league is hard and when things go bad, this kid tends to be fine." But, some say too many adverse situations could end up having long-term deleterious effects on a young player. "When you put them in before they're ready, they also get hurt: Josh Allen, Josh Rosen," Gannon said. "The speed of the game is way too fast for them. ... Or they have a bad experience, like what wound up happening with (the Jets') Mark Sanchez and Geno Smith, or going back to Ryan Leaf (with the Chargers). They play right away before they are physically or mentally ready or maturity-level ready. They get benched and booed and maybe run out of town, the coach gets fired, and then the next thing, they're on their third or fourth team. They think he will be a savior and he's not ready to play. "How is that being responsible from a coach and ownership standpoint? It's doing a tremendous disservice." Tampa Bay's Jameis Winston and Tennessee' Marcus Mariota started right away after being the top two picks in 2015, but the jury's still out on both. For those who preach patience, 25 of the 32 current QBs started a game at some point in their rookie season. And, several held on to the job from there. Quarterbacks such as the Rams' Jared Goff (No. 1 in 2016) and the Bears' Mitchell Trubisky (No. 2 in 2017) started and struggled as rookies, but benefited from changes in coaching staffs and philosophies and took leaps in their second seasons. So, who's right? Well, all of the above. "There's certainly valuable experience when you stand and watch," McDermott said. "But we all know there's no substitute for the experience when you're actually behind the wheel. There's a lot of value to that." ___ AP Pro Football Writer Barry Wilner and AP Sports Writers Bob Baum, David Ginsburg, Dave Skretta, John Wawrow and Tom Withers contributed......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 7th, 2018

LeVert scores 26 to lift Nets past struggling Suns 104-82

By Jose M. Romero, Associated Press PHOENIX (AP) — Caris LeVert scored 26 points, D'Angelo Russell added 15 and the Brooklyn Nets beat the struggling Phoenix Suns 104-82 on Tuesday night (Wednesday, PHL time). The Nets won their third game in the past four, while the Suns have lost 8-of-9. Devin Booker led Phoenix with 20 points but made just 6-of-21 shots. Deandre Ayton had 15 points and a season-high 13 rebounds. Brooklyn held the Suns to a season-low in points and field goal shooting at 34.6 percent. The Suns went on a 9-0 run to turn a 14-point deficit in the third quarter to 63-58 difference on Trevor Ariza's corner three with 5:31 to play. The Nets regained a 14-point lead, 74-60, with Dinwiddie's triple at the 2:18 mark. Phoenix never threatened in the fourth, the Suns' cold shooting helping the Nets remain in control. Ed Davis' dunk made it 92-74 with 4:15 to play. The Nets' strategy seemed to be to let the 7'1" Ayton shoot mid-range shots rather than allow him to work inside the paint. It worked for much of the game, as the Suns' high-profile rookie made just 6-of-17 shots. Both teams struggled to hit shots in the first quarter, with field goal percentages of less than 40 both ways. The Nets, up two after one quarter, led by 14 during the second quarter. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson's short turnaround bank shot made it 47-34 with 2:53 to go before halftime. Phoenix got back-to-back three's from Mikal Bridges and Ariza to cut the lead to 50-42, and the Suns trailed by 10 at the half. Suns backup center Richaun Holmes had season highs of 13 points and 10 rebounds. TIP-INS Nets: G Jared Dudley returned to Phoenix for the first time since being traded in the offseason. He spent seven seasons over two stints with the Suns. ... F DeMarre Carroll has yet to play this season due to a right ankle injury. Suns: F T.J. Warren returned after missing the team's last game with back spasms. ... Booker entered the game second in the NBA with an average of 9.8 points per game in the fourth quarter. He had four in the final 12 minutes. ... G Jamal Crawford moved into 29th place career in games played (1,271). DUDLEY DOING RIGHT Dudley, with 11 pro seasons to his credit, has started all 11 games for the Nets this season, and coach Kenny Atkinson said Dudley gets an "A-plus" for leadership. "He's doing it in the locker room and he is also doing it with his play because he doesn't need the ball in his hands," Atkinson said. "He's going to space the floor and he's an intelligent defender." UP NEXT Nets: At Denver Nuggets on Friday (Saturday, PHL time). Suns: Host the Boston Celtics on Thursday (Friday, PHL time)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 7th, 2018

Magic hold on to defeat Spurs, 117-110

By Raul Dominguez, Associated Press SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Aaron Gordon scored 26 points and the Orlando Magic held on to beat the San Antonio Spurs 117-110 on Sunday night (Monday, PHL time) after nearly blowing a 26-point lead with 9 minutes remaining. D.J Augustin added 18 points for Orlando, which scored a season high and hit 12 3-pointers. DeMar DeRozan had 25 points as San Antonio’s four-game winning streak came to an end on the second night of a back-to-back. Orlando snapped a four-game skid, but had to bring its starters back into the game to preserve the victory. The Spurs went on a 25-6 run over 6 minutes to erase the Magic’s 105-79 with 9:02 remaining. Pau Gasol blocked and collected Gordon’s shot and raced downcourt where he was fouled with 7 minutes remaining. Gasol’s hustle led San Antonio coach Popovich to reinsert DeRozan, LaMarcus Aldridge, Patty Mills and Bryn Forbes back into the game despite Orlando leading by 18 points. The Spurs responded with a 9-2 run to pull within 107-96 with 5:28 remaining and forced Magic coach Steve Clifford to take a timeout to slow the momentum. Clifford was forced to take another timeout 2 1/2 minutes later when Bryn Forbes’ 3-pointer cut Orlando’s lead to 111-104. The Magic were able to hang on, preserving their best offensive production of the season. Orlando had lost four straight, including failing to score 100 points in three consecutive games, but jumped out to an early lead. San Antonio’s worst defensive effort of the season came less than 24 hours after their finest in a 109-95 victory against New Orleans. Mills finished with 16 points and Aldridge added 14 for San Antonio. TIP-INS Magic: Orlando entered the game last in the league in scoring at 99.9 points per game as well as field goal percentage at 41.4. ... Jonathon Simmons received a warm ovation upon entering the game late in the first quarter. Simmons, who was listed as questionabl with bruised right wrist, had no points in 18 minutes. ... Jonathan Isaac did not play due to a sprained right ankle. ... Timofey Mozgov missed the game with sore right knee. Spurs: Rudy Gay missed his first game of the season, sitting out due to right heel soreness. ... Jakob Poeltl played 14 minutes, including starting the second half. It was the most minutes Poeltl has played since logging 13 minutes against Indiana on Oct. 24. UP NEXT Magic: Host Cleveland on Monday night. Spurs: At Miami on Wednesday night.  .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 5th, 2018

Hernangomez, Millsap lead Nuggets past Cavs 110-91

By Steve Herrick, Associated Press CLEVELAND (AP) — Juancho Hernangomez scored 23 points, Paul Millsap added 16 and the Denver Nuggets rolled past the Cleveland Cavaliers 110-91 on Thursday night (Friday, PHL time). The Nuggets won their third straight to improve to 7-1. On Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time) in Chicago, they beat the Bulls 108-107 in overtime on Millsap's put-back with 0.1 seconds left. Jordan Clarkson led Cleveland with 17 points, and Cedi Osman added 13. Collin Sexton, the No. 8 overall pick, had 12 points. The Cavaliers dropped to 1-7. They have split two games under "acting" coach Larry Drew. Denver shot 6-for-17 in the first quarter and fell behind 29-17. After cutting it to 38-34, the Nuggets finished the second period on 16-4 run that included 13 straight points. Hernangomez had 12 points in the quarter, including three three-pointers. Denver led 50-42 at halftime and dominated the second half. The Nuggets' biggest lead was 26 points at 106-76. The Nuggets won going away despite an off-night from leading scorer Nikola Jokic, who had averaged 21.6 points. The seven-footer scored four points in 22 minutes and didn't play in the fourth quarter. The Cavaliers had another busy day off the court. Drew said contract negotiations with the team are going in a positive direction. Drew replaced Tyronn Lue, who was fired Sunday (Monday, PHL time), but wants the Cavs to restructure his contract if he's going to become the team's interim coach. Guard J.R. Smith said he wants to be traded after being dropped from the rotation. The 15-year veteran has played in four of Cleveland's eight games. A few fans began a "We want J.R." chant as Denver built the lead in the second half. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced Thursday (Friday, PHL time) that the Cavaliers have been awarded the 2022 NBA All-Star Game. The game will be a cornerstone event during the league's 75th anniversary. TIP-INS Nuggets: Jokic scored 22 points with 12 rebounds and nine assists against the Bulls. He was 2-for-5 from the field Thursday (Friday, PHL time). ... Denver was 12-for-22 from the field in the second quarter. ... Assistant coach Mark Price is in his first season with the Denver. He spent the first nine seasons of his playing career with the Cavaliers and his No. 25 hangs in the rafters at Quicken Loans Arena. Cavaliers: G Kyle Korver, a 16-year veteran, took a charging foul in the lane with Cleveland trailing 93-72 in the fourth quarter. ... Cleveland was held to 15 points in the second quarter and was 5-for-22 from the field with five turnovers. ... F Kevin Love missed his fourth straight game with a left foot injury and could be out for a significant amount of time. UP NEXT Nuggets: Host Utah on Saturday (Sunday, PHL time). Cavaliers: At Charlotte on Saturday (Sunday, PHL time)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 2nd, 2018

Curry s big night carries Warriors to sixth straight win

By Janie McCauley, Associated Press OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Stephen Curry had 37 points for his sixth 30-point game of the season, and the Golden State Warriors beat the New Orleans Pelicans 131-121 on Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time) for their sixth straight win. Curry had seven three-pointers and nine assists, Kevin Durant added 24 points and eight assists, and Draymond Green contributed 16 points, 15 rebounds and eight assists for his first double-double of the season. Green has 50 assists in the last five games and is a big reason the Warriors are passing so well this season. They finished with a season-high 39 assists. Anthony Davis returned from a two-game absence with a sprained right elbow and had 17 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists for the Pelicans, who lost a five-game Western Conference semifinal to Golden State last postseason. Klay Thompson scored 18 points with one three-pointer for the Warriors two days after setting an NBA record with 14 three's and scoring 52 in a blowout road win against the Bulls. Curry scored 16 points in the third quarter with four triples. He wound up 12-for-20 and 7-of-11 from deep. Two-time defending champion Golden State's lone loss came in the third game of the season by two points at Denver on Oct. 21 (Oct. 22, PHL time). Jrue Holiday had 28 points and nine assists while Nikola Mirotic added 26 points and 12 rebounds for New Orleans, which has a quick turnaround playing at Portland on Thursday night (Friday, PHL time). The Pelicans lost their third straight. The Warriors had 12 assists on 16 baskets with five three-pointers in their 43-point first quarter. MOMENT OF SILENCE A moment of silence was held before the game for San Francisco Giants Hall of Famer Willie McCovey, who died Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time) at age 80. "For me, Willie McCovey represents a major figure from my childhood," said Warriors coach Steve Kerr, who grew up a Dodgers fan. "Hearing Vin Scully talking about Willie McCovey and the Dodger/Giant rivalry. I'm well aware of how beloved Willie was here in the Bay Area and by the Giants family. We extend our condolences to Willie's family and to the Giants family. Everybody here with the Warriors is thinking about them tonight." LET'S GET TROPICAL! During his sharp-shooting barrage against Chicago, Thompson was forced to wear a large yellow headband over a cut on his forehead, and he joked after the game he looked like Jackie Moon, Will Ferrell's character from the movie "Semi-Pro." Thompson then arrived to the arena Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time) dressed as Moon in a Flint Tropics jersey for Halloween. TIP-INS Pelicans: The Pelicans were outrebounded 46-42. ... Elfrid Payton missed his second straight game with a sprained right ankle. ... New Orleans lost each of its previous two games scoring 111 points, against Utah and Denver. ... The Pelicans have lost 28-of-31 overall to Golden State including playoffs. ... New Orleans won 126-120 at Oracle Arena on April 7 (last April 8, PHL time) to snap a 10-game losing streak on Golden State's home floor. Warriors: Reserve G Shaun Livingston missed his third straight game with soreness in his right foot. The MRI was clear, coach Steve Kerr said, "but we are going to be very careful with Shaun." Kerr also plans to take every precaution with fellow veteran Andre Iguodala because "we want both guys to be fresh and ready to roll for the playoffs." ... Three Golden State starters had two fouls by early in the second quarter — Curry, Green and Damian Jones. ... The Warriors played at home on Halloween for the first time since hosting Phoenix on Oct. 31, 2000. UP NEXT Pelicans: At Trail Blazers on Thursday (Friday, PHL time). Warriors: Host Timberwolves on Friday (Saturday, PHL time) seeking a fifth straight home win in the series......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 1st, 2018

PBA: Underperforming bench dooms Blackwater vs Alaska

Blackwater Elite head coach Bong Ramos admitted that his bench had lacked effort in their 116-109 loss against the Alaska Aces at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum, Sunday evening. Of the Elite's 109 points, his players off the bench only provided 19 markers compared to the Aces' 37. The coach pointed out several instances in the game where his team fought back their opponents' runs but as his starters rested, the lead somehow ballooned once more for the now 7-2 squad. "Every time nagro-rotate ako ng player medyo gumegewang kami. Di kami naging consistent. Start of the game we controlled the game -- siyempre kailangan ko ipahinga yung starters ko -- pag-rotate ko medyo gumewang kami," the mentor said. Ramos also rued some calls which did not go Blackwater's way, which definitely left a bad taste in their mouths for the remainder of the contest. With the tough loss, all the team wants is to regroup and take on the next challenge as they face the upset-conscious Columbian Dyip at the Alonte Sports Arena in Binan Saturday afternoon.  The Johnedel Cardel-led team is coming off an upset win against Rain or Shine last Friday with sky-high morale on their minds. In facing the 1-9 team, guards will not be let down in order to avoid a second-straight party spoiler by the cellar dwellers.  With a potential victory, the team will inch ever closer once again to a coveted twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals, a distinction held by the top four teams of the Governors' Cup standings.  "Wala naman kaming mahinang kalaban kasi kulelat kami noong nakaraang conference so that means yung Dyip, malakas pa rin yun. Kailangan talunin namin, kailangan trabahuhin namin. We cannot get Dyip on a silver platter or spoon na ibibigay lang sa amin." __ Follow this writer on Twitter, @philipptionary. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 21st, 2018

Jokic s triple-double leads Nuggets past Suns 119-91

By ARNIE STAPLETON,  AP Sports Writer DENVER (AP) — Nikola Jokic scored 35 points, posted a triple-double and didn't miss a field goal in leading the Denver Nuggets past the Phoenix Suns 119-91 Saturday night (Sunday PHL time). Jokic, who had 10 assists and 10 rebounds, joined Wilt Chamberlain as the only players in NBA history to post a triple-double with 30 or more points without missing a field goal. Chamberlain did it twice, in 1966 and '67. Jokic made all 11 of his shots from the floor and missed just one of 11 free throws on a night the crowd serenaded him with chants of "MVP! MVP!" Jamal Murray added 26 points for the Nuggets, who are off to their first 2-0 start since 2011-12 and will go for their first 3-0 start since 2009-10 when they host the two-time defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors on Sunday night. They'll be without starting forward Will Barton, who injured his right hip on a reverse layup in the third quarter and was wheeled off the court in obvious distress. Devin Booker's 25 points led the Suns. Barton's injury took some air out of the Pepsi Center, where Jokic stretched Denver's 65-49 halftime lead to 81-59 on a dunk, which was followed by a 3-pointer from Murray for a 25-point lead midway through the third quarter. The intriguing matchup between Jokic and top overall draft pick Deandre Ayton down low never really materialized. Ayton, who had 18 points, 10 rebounds and six assists in his debut against Dallas, scored 5 points on 2-of-7 shooting. Phoenix coach Igor Kokoskov knew it was going to be a learning experience as his prized rookie worked against Jokic. "He makes everybody else better. He's a tricky player. He's going to try to sell a lot of tricks to Deandre," Kokoskov said before tipoff. "Deandre has to play smart. He has to play to his strengths, his energy and high motor. He also has to match all of his tricks." He didn't come close, and neither did the Suns. TIP-INS: Suns: Phoenix was without G Troy Daniels, who sustained a concussion at practice. "It was a contact practice, guys were scrimmaging and it happened right in front of me," Kokoskov said. "It didn't look that hard but he didn't pass the test. He's in concussion protocol and he's expected to come back in a few days." Nuggets: Denver was 31-10 at home last season, fourth-best in the NBA. ... Murray tried to get too fancy on a steal and layup and was stripped when he tried to go behind his back before scoring. ... The Nuggets' second string kept letting the Suns back in the game as Phoenix's big runs came when Denver's starters were getting breathers on the bench. The Nuggets were outscored 13-2 at the end of the third quarter and saw their lead go from 25 to 13. UP NEXT Suns: visit Golden State Warriors on Monday night. Nuggets: host Golden State Warriors on Sunday night......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 21st, 2018

LeBron shines in debut, but Lakers still have lots to do

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com PORTLAND, Ore. -- His first basket of this new era was much like many others, in terms of impact and its ferocity and jaw-dropping nature. LeBron James stole the Trail Blazers’ cross-court pass and before him was the open court … and thousands of open mouths, all bracing in anticipation of a moment. His fast-break dunk was just as you expected it would be, jammed through the basket with a cocked arm and followed by a brief pose at landing, for emphasis and style. The greatest player in the game was back in full soar Thursday but, as it were, his new team remained stuck to the floor. Overall, this process is gonna take some time, you think? Before the Los Angeles Lakers whip the basketball world into a frenzy, they must whip Portland. And also the Houston Rockets, who visit Staples Center on Saturday (Sunday, PHL time) for the Lakers’ home opener. And the Golden State Warriors. And Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Pelicans. And any team in the Western Conference that considers itself a contender. But you knew this, right? “We’ll have to go through some moments,” LeBron said after the Lakers lost at Moda Center, 128-119. “We’ll have some adversity.” True, this isn’t an overnight sensation in the making. “Not as fast as you (media) guys think it’s going to happen,” LeBron said. The Lakers will get more chances to make a first impression, and that’s a good thing for them as they navigate through a potentially tricky transition period with their shiny new showpiece. There is only one thing that’s a lock through this bumpy path: LeBron is still the force he was in Cleveland and Miami, his only other NBA stops. Months before turning 34, his flow and his basketball instincts remain steak-knife sharp and his pride is intact. He tipped off his season by playing 37 minutes -- so much for reduced minutes here after 15 years of deep tread wear on his wheels -- and delivered 26 points, 12 rebounds and six assists. “I mean, that’s crazy, a guy to be in his 16th year playing at that pace and above the rim the way he was,” said Blazers guard Damian Lillard. “He looked like himself.” That said, he and his teammates are still working on their wavelength. This was evident for much of the night, when connections were missed and confusion reigned at times. On Thursday (Friday, PHL time), LeBron threw a behind-the-back pass that in Cleveland or Miami would usually hits is mark to teammates aware of his tendencies and timing. Last night, LeBron tried it and the ball dribbled out of bounds, all of which flummoxed LeBron and Kyle Kuzma (the nearest Laker). After the whistle blew and possession went to Portland, LeBron and Kuzma had a brief chat. “I expected Kuz to pop,” explained LeBron, “and he rolled. Then another time (Rajon) Rondo went to the hole, JaVale (McGee) thought it was going to him and it was meant for me. We’ll get better at that.” These first few weeks, if the Lakers are fortunate, will be conducted in a vacuum and a laboratory. Transitions are usually like that. LeBron had a similar one in Miami eight years ago, when a 9-8 start playing alongside Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh had folks thinking the sky was falling. With these Lakers, the reaction will -- or should, anyway -- be more muted if only because the expectations aren’t through the ceiling this season. The Lakers are trying to nourish the limited basketball experience of Kuzma, Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart and Brandon Ingram with LeBron (and Rajon Rondo) taking on more of a mentor role. That means class will be in session most, if not all, season. LeBron is preaching patience not only for those in and outside of the organization, but for himself as well. Sometimes, it’s easier said than done. LeBron realizes that he’s on the clock personally, even though his stamina and level of play remain high. “A lot of these guys don’t have as much experience, so I have to understand that,” James said. “And I do.” LeBron seems cursed by celebrated season openers, falling to 0-4 all-time in his debut games. He scored 25 points in his rookie opener, but Cleveland lost to the Sacramento Kings. He had 31 in his Miami opener in a loss to the Boston Celtics. And he had 17 points in his Cleveland return in 2014, a home loss to the New York Knicks. The Lakers’ crime Thursday (Friday, PHL time) was a failure to tighten up defensively and of course the mistakes that could be blamed on a getting-to-know-you game. And then there’s another issue that LeBron will soon discover, if he hasn’t already: He’s not in the easy East anymore. “There’s a tough game every night,” Lillard said. The West had 10 teams with winning records last season fighting for eight playoff spots. Coaches and players in the West were fond of tweaking their neighbors across the Mississippi in 2017-18, saying the non-playoff teams in the West should take some East spots. Of last season’s playoff teams, none return seriously weaker -- unless you’re ready to bury the San Antonio Spurs (who have a 21-year playoff streak going) or Minnesota Timberwolves (who are coping with the Jimmy Butler crisis). The Blazers were the No. 3 seed and were swept in the first round by the Pelicans, which puts the depth and overall strength of the West in perspective. Only three games separated the Blazers and the ninth-seeded Nuggets during the regular season. Meanwhile, the Rockets and Warriors were beyond the reach of mortals. LeBron chumped the East eight straight times to reach the NBA Finals. Yet by most indications, he’s an A-list teammate away from spooking the Warriors -- and that teammate isn’t in a Lakers uniform this season. This journey through the West could either humble LeBron or, at the least, make him realize the work needed for the Lakers to regain contender status. Heck, the Lakers couldn’t even prevent Nik Stauskas from having the biggest night of his NBA life. He scored 24 points and made more three-pointers (five) than the Lakers’ starting lineup (two). It was telling that Lakers coach Luke Walton started Rondo over Ball at point guard -- an understandable move after Ball missed several months recovering from knee issues. Rondo was mainly stellar (11 assists, three steals) while the Lakers’ fourth-quarter lineups excluded Ball. Meanwhile, Hart (20 points off the bench) earned crunch time minutes. “Everyone had different roles last year,” Walton said, “and some of those roles could change.” Well, someone’s role will remain the same. Regarding that guy, Walton said: “Glad he’s on our team. He’s pretty good at the game of basketball.” Veteran NBA writer Shaun Powell has worked for newspapers and other publications for more than 25 years. You can e-mail him here or follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 19th, 2018

No surprise, the West title still runs through the Warriors

By Tim Reynolds, Associated Press Golden State coach Steve Kerr is a happy man these days. He’s got a new contract. He’s got his son Nick, who was helping out in San Antonio, working in the Warriors’ video room now. He’s leading a team that has won three of the last four NBA championships and is the overwhelming favorite to win it again this season. Staying happy will be the challenge for Kerr and the Warriors this season, when Western Conference rivals resume their attempts to take down the champs. “Our place in the history of the league is pretty secure,” Kerr said. “I don’t think our guys should feel a ton of pressure. I think they should feel the importance of trying to do it again, because this may be the last time we have this current iteration of the Warriors, just given all the free agents and the money crunch and everything else.” LeBron James took his talents to Los Angeles, signing with the Lakers and moving out of the East for the first time in his career. Houston had the NBA’s best regular-season record a year ago and has reigning MVP James Harden. Utah has a budding superstar in Donovan Mitchell, and certainly got the league’s attention with its playoff run last season. But in the West, until further notice, it’s still the Warriors and then everybody else. “It’s a marathon,” Warriors guard Stephen Curry said. “There’s a lot of time between now and April and May and June, but if we go about it the right way to start the season, it can feed on itself in terms of the expectation we have night in, night out.” A look at the West, in predicted order of finish: PLAYOFF BOUND 1. GOLDEN STATE — Warriors aiming for their third consecutive NBA championship, something only the Lakers, Celtics and Bulls franchises have done. 2. UTAH — Donovan Mitchell is a legitimate star, coach Quin Snyder has been underrated for far too long, and the Jazz went 29-6 to finish last season. 3. HOUSTON — The Rockets have the MVP in James Harden, a leader in Chris Paul and added Carmelo Anthony, but expecting another 67-15 season is a lot. 4. L.A. LAKERS — LeBron James is still the best player in the game and shows no signs of slowing down, so doubting his chances seems less than brilliant. 5. OKLAHOMA CITY — This is a sign of how loaded the West remains: The Thunder are really good, and that won’t assure them home-court for Round 1. 6. DENVER — Losing Game 82 last season to Minnesota and missing the playoffs because of that outcome should serve as a massive motivator for Denver. 7. NEW ORLEANS — DeMarcus Cousins is gone, Rajon Rondo is gone, but Anthony Davis is still there and that should be enough for a Pelicans playoff run. 8. SAN ANTONIO — Dejounte Murray’s ACL tear is a disaster, but any team with LaMarcus Aldridge, DeMar DeRozan and Gregg Popovich still has a lot. IN THE MIX 9. PORTLAND — The West’s No. 3 seed last season, the Blazers were only three games ahead of No. 9 and will face a serious battle in a very loaded West. 10. DALLAS — Luka Doncic is NBA-ready, DeAndre Jordan will make the Mavs better and Dirk Nowitzki deserves to see his franchise trending up again. 11. L.A. CLIPPERS — A possible transitional year for the Clippers, who should be major players in free agency next summer and could add a lottery pick. FACING LONG ODDS 12. MINNESOTA — The Jimmy Butler debacle shows that some big changes in direction are probably going to happen in Minnesota, and sooner than later. 13. PHOENIX — Devin Booker got his max deal and the Suns got No. 1 pick Deandre Ayton, but firing GM Ryan McDonough so close to the season was odd. 14. MEMPHIS — Mike Conley and Marc Gasol are savvy vets, but they are going to need a lot of help if Memphis is going to seriously improve this season. 15. SACRAMENTO — Kings had a league-high 44 games last season where they didn’t score 100 points, and a very young team might not change that much. WHAT TO KNOW L.A. BRON: If he has even an average-for-him season, new Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James will rise to No. 4 on the NBA’s all-time scoring list this season. He’s currently No. 7, with No. 6 Dirk Nowitzki, No. 5 Wilt Chamberlain and No. 4 Michael Jordan well within reach. Add 2,000 or so points to James’ total of 31,038, and only No. 3 Kobe Bryant, No. 2 Karl Malone and No. 1 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar — all former Lakers — would still be ahead of him. STEPH RISING: Speaking of rising up career charts, Golden State’s Stephen Curry could easily be No. 3 on the all-time list for 3-pointers made by the end of this season. Curry has 2,129 3s in 625 career games, a rate of 3.4 made per game. The six players ahead of him — Ray Allen, Reggie Miller, Jason Terry, Kyle Korver, Jamal Crawford and Paul Pierce — averaged 1.8 made 3s per game. BIG NUMBERS: The only players in the last 30 seasons to average 30 points and eight assists were Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook in 2016-17 and Houston’s James Harden last season. Probably not coincidentally, Westbrook and Harden won MVP awards for those seasons. There are seven active players with at least one MVP award in the NBA right now, and all seven play in the West. GREAT COACHES: San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich enters the season with 1,197 wins, fifth-most in NBA history — 13 behind Pat Riley and 24 behind Jerry Sloan. Meanwhile, Golden State’s Steve Kerr comes into the year with the highest winning percentages during both the regular season (265-63, .808) and the postseason (63-20, .759) in NBA history. Here’s how far ahead Kerr is on the NBA’s all-time regular season winning percentage list: If the Warriors go 24-58 this season, which seems less than likely, he would still be above Phil Jackson for the No. 1 spot. VERSUS EAST: The West beat the East for the ninth consecutive season in head-to-head matchups, winning nearly 53 percent of the cross-conference matchups in the regular season (and 100 percent of them in the NBA Finals). Over the last nine seasons, West teams have beaten East teams nearly 57 percent of the time......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 11th, 2018

All alone

Two-time defending champion Barangay Ginebra remained alone on top after a 111-105 win over slumping Meralco in the 2018 PBA Governors' Cup on Sunday at City of Santa Rosa Multi-Purpose Complex in Laguna. Assured of a spot in the playoffs, the Gin Kings improved to 7-1 as they pursue a twice-to-beat incentive in the quarterfinals. The Bolts have dropped their last four games in the season-ender after debuting with a 109-106 triumph over the Columbian Dyip. Coach Norman Black and the Bolts, losing finalists to the Gin Kings in this tournament's last two editions, are coming off a stint in the Fiba Asia Champions Cup where they wound up fourth. Earlier, Henry Walker had a t...Keep on reading: All alone.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsOct 7th, 2018

James captivates crowd in his Los Angeles Lakers debut

By Bernie Wilson, Associated Press SAN DIEGO (AP) — LeBron James rubbed his hands in chalk powder at the scorer’s table, yelled “Yes!” to ecstatic fans in the first few rows and the Los Angeles Lakers’ new era was underway. Playing in the same arena where Magic Johnson made his regular-season debut for Los Angeles 39 years ago, James captivated the crowd from the start of the Lakers’ exhibition opener Sunday night (Monday, PHL time), a 124-107 loss to the Denver Nuggets. The opening tip came James’ way and he tapped it to fellow newcomer Rajon Rondo, who threw an alley-oop pass to JaVale McGee for the game’s first score. James missed his first shot, a turnaround fadeaway, but then made a no-look bounce pass from about 27 feet out to Brandon Ingram for a dunk. A minute later, James hit a long three-pointer. He finished with nine points, three rebounds and four assists in just more than 15 minutes. Lakers fans hope James’ arrival will turn things around after the worst half-decade in the franchise’s lengthy history. He left the Cleveland Cavaliers for a four-year, $153.3 million free-agent deal with the Lakers. He, Rondo and fellow veterans McGee, Lance Stephenson and Michael Beasley signed to team with the Lakers’ talented young core. James was the focus on and off the court Sunday night (Monday, PHL time). He was cheered from the minute he ran onto the court with his new teammates for warmups. He played the first eight minutes before being subbed out. When he came back in midway through the second quarter, he was greeted by cheers. As he stood near the scorer’s table during a video review, a fan yelled: “LeBron, we love you!” and the superstar responded with a hang-loose sign. Asked before the game what stands out about James, coach Luke Walton said, “His intelligence. He sees everything. He knows even before drills. He knows where he’s going. His work ethic. He’s out there pre-practice with the guys, post-practice with the guys. Taking care of his body in the weight room. “He’s the ultimate professional.” The Lakers’ regular-season opener is Oct. 18 (Oct. 19, PHL time) at Portland. Their home opener is two nights later against Houston. This was another big night for an L.A. basketball team at San Diego’s sports arena. In 1975, John Wooden coached his final game here, leading UCLA to its 10th NCAA title in 12 seasons. In 1979, Johnson made his NBA debut when Los Angeles beat the then-San Diego Clippers in the season opener. After Kareem Abdul-Jabbar made a buzzer-beating sky hook, Johnson hugged the center like they’d just won the championship. Seven months later, they did win the NBA title. Johnson is now the Lakers’ president of basketball operations and James was the prized acquisition of an offseason roster revamp. As a kid, Walton used to watch his father, Bill, play for the Clippers, although the Hall of Famer’s years in his hometown were largely marred by injuries......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 1st, 2018

PBA: The road gets tougher for Fuel Masters

Phoenix head coach Louie Alas knows the road will get tougher as they go deeper into the 2018 PBA Governors’ Cup. With the Fuel Masters looking to secure a top four elimination round finish to secure a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals, Alas knows that from here on out they must win as many games as they can in their remaining five assignments. The Fuel Masters climbed to solo second spot after claiming their third straight win over Magnolia, 95-82, Sunday at the Big Dome. Phoenix moved behind unbeaten Blackwater (4-0) with a 5-1 win-loss record.    Still, Alas doesn’t want to take his chances especially with the tournament’s format. “Hindi mo pa rin masasabi kasi dami namin sa taas e,” he said. “Puro one game lang behind sa amin.” “Iba ‘yung format ngayon. One to four is twice-to-beat,” added Alas. “So win as much as you can kahit nasa playoffs ka na.” The Fuel Masters’ difficult road ahead will start Saturday against Barangay Ginebra in Cagayan De Oro.   “Puro malakas (na ang kalaban) starting on Saturday against Ginebra,” he said. The Gin Kings are playing limp with a string of injuries but Alas is wary on Ginebra’s never-say-die spirit. “Ginebra alam mo naman ‘yan next man up ‘yan. Kahit five guys lang si coach Tim (Cone) maglalaro at maglalaro,” said Alas. “One breakdown lang sa depensa kaya natalo (against Blackwater last Friday), meaning kahit depleted sila kailangan A-game namin dalhin pa rin namin.” “So we’ll be tested again on Saturday,” he added. The match is slated to begin at 5:00 p.m.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 23rd, 2018