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Raptors center Poeltl gets his bounce from volleyball roots

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com Jakob Poeltl went for the volleyball but stayed for the basketball. The place: the gymnasium in Vienna, Austria, where Rainer and Martina Poeltl practiced and honed the skills that earned them roster spots on Austria’s national volleyball men’s and women’s teams. Martina Poeltl (red uniform, second from left) was a standout on Austria's national volleyball team. The child: Jakob Poeltl, dragged along, running loose, playing around and messing with sports equipment from whomever, wherever. Legend has it the energized six-year-old one day picked up a bigger, heavier, pebble-grained orange ball he’d found and, in that instant, began straying from his parents’ sport. The result: Poeltl is a promising, second-year big man for the Toronto Raptors, the first Austrian to reach the NBA and a fellow for whom dunks have replaced spikes entirely. “I was more in basketball,” Poeltl said before a recent game in Chicago. The 22-year-old, now seven feet and 248 pounds, pronounces his name “YA-kub PURR-tuhl.” “I did play volleyball with my parents when we went on holidays. But it was never anything serious, it was always just fun. They taught me a lot -- I think I’m half-decent at volleyball. Obviously I couldn’t play it at a very high level like they did, but I still know some stuff from back in the day that they showed me.” Ranier Poeltl (back row, second from left) was a standout on Austria's national volleyball. Still knows some stuff? That’s intriguing as Poeltl continues to develop as an active, mobile center who backs up Jonas Valanciunas. Is it possible that any aspects of the family business transfer to NBA play, offensively or defensively? Besides the high fives, that is. “A big chunk,” Poeltl said. “I got my height from them. I got my athletic ability probably, to a certain extent, from them too. Always, growing up, I was around sports. It was a very active family, I guess. I was always moving. They say I couldn’t stop running around.” That’s a good start for a big man in today’s NBA. There’s more. Future Raptors center Jakob Poeltl (left, sunglasses) plays some beach volleyball in this 2010 family photo. “His footwork is unbelievable,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. “The athletic genes are there. Quick feet, great hands, good hand-eye coordination. And he picks up stuff so fast. I think it comes from being around that athletic background.” Said teammate C.J. Miles, new to Toronto this season with an inside glimpse at Poeltl’s development: “He’s extremely mobile for his size. Great hands. His athleticism shows up on both ends, defensively and offensively. He’s got a tremendous feel for the NBA. “His agility. His feet. He’s got good bounce off the floor.” Volleyball and the NBA have a pretty long history. Wilt Chamberlain, after wrapping his legendary hoops career, picked up the sport and played it well into his 40s. He played both beach and indoor versions and was quoted in his 1991 book, “A View From Above,” saying, “For a long time, volleyball became as big a part of my life as basketball once was.” He even got involved in the mid-1970s with, and lent legitimacy to, the short-lived pro International Volleyball Association. Bill Walton, not surprising given his southern California roots and nature-loving way, played beach volleyball. So does his son, current Lakers coach Luke Walton. On a recent trip to Chicago, the younger Walton talked about how forgiving the sand is for an NBA player whose legs and bodies don’t need any extra pounding. The Waltons honed their games with the help of Greg Lee, a UCLA teammate of Bill who became a renowned beach volleyball star. Vince Carter played both sports at Dayton Beach's Mainland High School, earning Conference Player of the Year status in 1994. Former NBA forward Chase Budinger was more of a standout at volleyball than basketball while at La Costa Canyon High in Carlsbad, Calif. During the 2011 lockout, Budinger joined his brother Duncan briefly on the pro beach tour. The offspring of numerous NBA figures, from Jermaine O’Neal’s daughter (Asjia, committed to Texas) to Houston coach Mike D’Antoni’s niece (Bailey D'Antoni, freshman at Marshall), have snagged college volleyball scholarships. Another former NBA player, Jud Buechler, a member of Walton’s staff, played volleyball in high school, then coached up his daughter, Reily, to a spot at UCLA. Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid was a seven-foot Cameroonian volleyball player before he got introduced to hoops shortly before an NBA Basketball Without Borders camp. And Portland coach Terry Stotts played high school volleyball in Guam when he attended high school there, his parents taking the family overseas in their jobs as teachers. “Volleyball was a varsity sport, so I played volleyball for a couple years,” Stotts said. “The things I would say transfer to basketball are the explosive jumping. Hand-eye coordination. Quick reflexes. Timing. Going to spike the ball is like going to get a rebound -- you’ve got to time your jump. Lateral quickness to the ball. So yeah, I would say there’s some valid skills.” So Stotts is OK if his rebounders occasionally tap out the ball rather than grabbing it. “Robin Lopez used to do that for us on the offensive glass,” the Blazers coach said, “and we’d get a lot of three-pointers because of it.” Said Poeltl: “I actually do that a lot. I also find myself doing a lot of tip-ins. Maybe that has something to do with it.” The 22-year-old’s overall game has stepped up thanks largely to opportunity. Already, he has logged more minutes in 2017-18 than he did all of last season, his nightly shifts increasing by about 50 percent from 11.6 minutes to 17.8. His production has jumped accordingly -- Poeltl is averaging 13.8 points and 9.5 rebounds per 36 minutes while shooting 63.7 percent. “The most important improvement I’ve made was getting more comfortable on the court,” said Poeltl, who is not afraid to challenge dunkers at the rim, regardless of the poster potential. “Just gaining experience. I don’t think it’s anything I specifically worked on in my game. “The chemistry with my teammates, finishing around the rim, all of that, small things have helped me. Knowing opponents, for sure. Knowing my own game more and more. How my teammates play and how I have to play around them.” Said Toronto forward Pascal Siakam, Poeltl’s best friend on the team after arriving as rookies together last season: “I know he looks awkward, but he’s doing a great job of moving his feet.” Poeltl is still carrying that flag as the first Austrian drafted into the NBA, realizing a dream few others in his country had when the Raptors used the No. 9 pick on him in 2016. Austria had a spirited basketball faction through the 1950s, with qualifying for EuroBasket competition six times. But it dropped off after that, with little or nothing to show in international competition over the past five decades. Poeltl’s journey, however, has begun to revive basketball interest in his homeland, and he’s just getting started. “That’s what I’m trying to do -- be something of a role model for young basketball players in Austria,” Poeltl said. “I’m really trying to make basketball more popular and get more kids to play. If I can have that kind of effect, that would be great.” He is on the Austrian roster for the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup qualification (Europe), and participated in August in pre-qualifying games. Poeltl will remain strictly a one-sport participant, though, not crossing over to the one his parents played. “They know better,” he said. “I think [the national team organizers] have some better volleyball players than me.” Volleyball’s loss, the Raptors’ and the NBA’s gain. Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnFeb 3rd, 2018

DA s 2018 NBA Offseason Rankings: The Top 10

By David Aldridge, TNT Analyst Wonder what the rental market is like in San Luis Obispo, Calif. San Luis Obispo is, give or take a few miles, one of the closest cities that is near the midway point between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Given the events of the NBA’s offseason, it’s not hare to imagine national reporters are going to be spending a lot of time in California next season, bouncing back and forth between the Bay and L.A. Catch LeBron James and the Lakers on Wednesday and then, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and the Warriors on Thursday. The Western Conference only got stronger and deeper with James leaving Cleveland for a second time, this time to go to the Lakers. Add four of the top five Draft picks -- including No. 1 overall selection Deandre Ayton (Phoenix Suns), No. 2 pick Marvin Bagley III (Sacramento Kings) and international phenom Luka Doncic (No. 3 pick, acquired by Dallas Mavericks) -- going to Western Conference teams, and the talent disparity between conferences only seems greater. But did Eastern Conference teams take advantage of Cleveland deflating to make their teams better? And how effective were West teams in making their teams better prepared to at least compete with the Warriors? That’s where this year’s Offseason Rankings come in -- big, bold, definitive. You love them, if the amount of hate tweets and e-mails I get after they’re published are any indication. Every year, we rank how all 30 teams have done since the end of their respective seasons. We look at everything -- how they drafted, what trades they made, what players they signed in free agency, and for how much -- or if they didn’t participate in free agency much at all. We look at if they’ve changed coaches, executives, owners, or if they’re moving into a new building that can generate big revenues. And you have to decide which ones you liked the most. Here's what these rankings ARE NOT: A predicted order of finish for next season. It's an opinion that seeks to answer a question: is the team better now than at the end of last season? The ranking reflects the belief on whether, and how much, that is so. (I liked certain guys who were in the Draft more than others, so if your team took them, I probably weighed it more positively. Doesn't mean I'm right.) I do not expect the Suns, for example, to have a better record than the Celtics, just because they had a better summer. It is not a ranking of the teams in order from 1 through 30 right now; I do not believe the Mavericks are now a better team than Rockets. This is just one person’s opinion about offseason moves -- offseason moves only. Is your team better now than it was before? - If your team is ranked in the top 10, it doesn't mean I love your team.       - If your team is ranked in the bottom 10, it doesn't mean I hate your team. It's an opinion that seeks to answer a question: is the team better now than at the end of last season? The ranking reflects the belief on whether, and how much, that is so. (I liked certain guys who were in the Draft more than others, so if your team took them, I probably weighed it more positively. Doesn't mean I'm right.) What plays into the rankings: - This isn’t science. It’s an educated guess, weighing the impact both of the Draft and free agency, but also assessing whether teams got value in their free-agent signings. Overpaying the right player is as much a sin as signing the wrong player. A good new coach can coax some more wins out of a roster. But if a team’s players don’t believe in the system their team uses, the best Xs and Os on earth don’t matter.       - Teams that are rebuilding obviously have different priorities than teams making a championship push. That's factored in. So Chicago, for example, gets credit for adding young, affordable players as it stockpiles its talent -- but that talent has to fit together, as Wendell Carter Jr. does with Lauri Markannen. And a team like the Warriors that shows it’s willing to go deep into the luxury tax -- which most teams try to avoid -- in order to keep winning has to be commended, and its rankings reflect that commendation.       - Continuity matters here as well. The most successful teams usually not only identify a core group of players, they keep them together for a while, finding that sweet spot: everyone doesn’t get a max contract, but most get paid well enough to keep the train moving down the tracks. That reflects both good roster construction and good financial management -- and, again, is rewarded. The explosion in the cap means everyone has to spend; keeping your powder dry for another day doesn’t have as much cache as it used to. But you still have to manage your money wisely. Salary numbers, with a couple of exceptions, come from Basketball Insiders, whose Eric Pincus does the best job of anyone in the game of keeping track of all the moving financial parts, quickly and accurately -- which is why we use him at NBA TV during the Draft and free agency to tell us what the hell this all means. The Top 10 * * * 1. OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER 2017-18 RECORD: 48-34; lost in first round ADDED: G/F Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot (acquired from Sixers); G Hamidou Diallo (No. 45 pick, 2018 Draft); G Devon Hall (No. 53 pick, 2018 Draft); F Kevin Hervey (No. 57 pick, 2018 Draft); F Abdel Nader (acquired from Celtics); C Nerlens Noel (two years, $3.7 million); G Dennis Schröder (acquired from Hawks) LOST: F Carmelo Anthony (traded to Hawks); F Nick Collison (retired); C Dakari Johnson (traded to Magic); G Rodney Purvis (traded to Celtics) RETAINED: G Raymond Felton (one year, $2.3 million); F Paul George (four years, $136.9 million); F Jerami Grant (three years, $27.3 million) THE KEY MAN: G Andre Roberson. This is real simple: with Roberson on the court last year, OKC’s opponent offensive rating was 99.2; when he was off, it was 110.7. The Thunder was a near-elite defensive unit when Roberson played and was awful when he didn’t. His Real Defensive Plus-Minus, per ESPN.com, was 4.34, second only to Utah’s Rudy Gobert (5.06). So when Roberson ruptured his patellar tendon in late January, the Thunder’s ability to use George as a weakside defender who could freelance and use his length to create deflections and turnovers (because Roberson had the strong side absolutely locked down) went away. Any chance the Thunder has next season to compete at the highest levels in the West will depend on the 26-year-old Roberson’s recovery and return to the lineup. THE SKINNY: None of us -- none -- thought George was going to stay in OKC. And we all thought Sam Presti and the Thunder were crazy for trading for him last year, because it was just going to be a one-year rental and he was going to be off to the Lakers in 12 months, and OKC would have nothing to show for its deal. But George’s presence helped convince Russell Westbrook -- also long rumored to eventually head back to Cali -- to sign a long-term deal with the Thunder. And OKC’s acquisition of Carmelo Anthony helped convince George that the Thunder was all in on competing. And even though OKC went out in the first round of the playoffs to Utah, its year-long courtship of George and his family paid off when PG-13 spurned L.A. once and for all to stay in the 405. Anthony ultimately wasn’t a good fit, but he brought back Schroder, who will give Billy Donovan a dynamic scorer off the bench that can give Westbrook a blow and keep OKC’s offense from immolating when Westbrook is on the bench, a common malady the last two years. The Thunder has been relevant in an incredibly small market now for almost a decade. With George and Westbrook and Steven Adams and, now, Schroder, all signed up through 2021, that remarkable run will continue for some time. 2. LOS ANGELES LAKERS 2017-18 RECORD: 35-47; missed playoffs ADDED: F Michael Beasley (one year, $3.5 million); F Joel Berry II; F Issac Bonga (No. 39 pick, 2018 Draft); G Jeffrey Carroll; F LeBron James (four years, $153 million); C JaVale McGee (one year, $1.4 million); G Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (No. 47 pick, 2018 Draft); G Rajon Rondo (one year, $9 million); G Lance Stephenson; F Mo Wagner (No. 25 pick, 2018 Draft) LOST: C Thomas Bryant (waived); G Tyler Ennis (waived); F/C Channing Frye (signed with Cavs); C Brook Lopez (signed with Bucks); F Julius Randle (signed with Pelicans); G Isaiah Thomas (signed with Nuggets) RETAINED: G Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (one year, $12 million); G Travis Wear THE KEY MAN: F Brandon Ingram. The third-year man should be the major beneficiary of James’ presence going forward. Driving lanes previously clogged with defenders should now be runway clear. Opponents who previously could close out strong on Ingram will now have their attention elsewhere. Ingram need only look at James’ last stop: per NBA.com/Stats, among players leaguewide who appeared in at least 60 games last season, three Cavaliers -- Kyle Korver, J.R. Smith and Cedi Osman -- were among the top 20 in the league in lowest frequency of having their closest defenders within two feet of them, meaning James created many wide open looks for teammates all season. Ingram vastly improved his range last season over his rookie one, shooting 39 percent on 3-pointers. But he only attempted 1.8 threes per game last season. That number will surely skyrocket in 2018. Ingram must ready to take advantage. That will make him that much more deadly as a driver. THE SKINNY: Team president Magic Johnson was tasked with landing a whale in free agency, and he and GM Rob Pelinka bagged Moby Dick in James. Their subsequent free agent moves once Paul George opted to stay in Oklahoma City were all short-term plays with an eye toward the promising 2019 free agent class, which include the likes of All-Stars Klay Thompson, Kemba Walker and DeMarcus Cousins. But that doesn’t mean Lake Show ’18 isn’t going to be the rip-roaringest circus this side of your standard Ozzy Ozbourne tour. What’s the over-under on the first time Rondo cusses out coach Luke Walton, or when we hear of a “spirited practice” that is code for “Lance ‘bowed ‘Bron in the neck and Walton sent everyone home”? The Lakers could be in The Finals or out in the first round, but what they decidedly will not be is boring. 3. DENVER NUGGETS 2017-18 RECORD: 46-36; missed playoffs ADDED: F Michael Porter Jr. (No. 14 pick, 2018 Draft); G Isaiah Thomas (one year, $2 million); F Jarred Vanderbilt (No. 41 pick, 2018 Draft); C Thomas Welsh (No. 58 pick, 2018 Draft) LOST: F Darrell Arthur (traded to Nets); F Wilson Chandler (traded to 76ers); F Kenneth Faried (traded to Nets); G Isaiah Whitehead (waived) RETAINED: G Will Barton (four years, $53 million); G/F Torrey Craig (two years, $4 million); C Nikola Jokic (five-year, $147.7 million contract extension) THE KEY MAN: G Jamal Murray. Denver ended all pretense that the full-time point guard job wasn’t his last season and his second-year numbers were very encouraging. Among regularly playing (60+ games) floor generals, per NBA.com/Stats, Murray’s .577 True Shooting Percentage ranked only behind D.J. Augustin, Kyrie Irving, Darren Collison and Kyle Lowry. No one doubts the still-just-21-year-old Murray can fill it up, and that the Nuggets don’t need a classic ball distributor to light up the Pepsi Center scoreboard. But they do need to get more credible defensively. So does he. THE SKINNY: A great offseason for the Nuggets, who did what they said they would -- keep Jokic off the market next summer -- while clearing roster spots and minutes with two trades, and simultaneously reducing their luxury tax bill for 2019. (The Chandler trade to the Sixers also created an enormous $12.8 million trade exception for Denver through August of 2019.) Jokic should anchor one of the most athletic starting quintets in the game -- along with Jamal Murray, Gary Harris, the re-signed Barton (penciled in for now as the starting three) and Paul Millsap. the Nuggets didn’t add much at the defensive end, which was their Achilles’ heel the last couple of seasons and the main reason they didn’t make the playoffs in 2017-18. Denver opted to strengthen a strength by bringing in Thomas, who’ll be in prove-it mode next season on a short deal with a coach that he knows from their Sacramento days in Mike Malone. Look for Malone to unleash Thomas on second units throughout the West. Porter Jr. was worth a flier at 14; he was the consensus likely first pick in the Draft a year ago, before his back injury took him out of all but a couple of games in his one season at Missouri. Denver can give him the entire year to rehab from two surgeries, the latest last week, and reset his clock for 2019-20. 4. GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS 2017-18 RECORD: 58-24; won NBA Finals ADDED: C DeMarcus Cousins (one year, $5.3 million); F Jacob Evans (No. 28 pick, 2018 Draft); F Jonas Jerebko (one year, $2.1 million); G Damion Lee LOST: C JaVale McGee (signed with Lakers); C Zaza Pachulia (signed with Pistons); Head of Physical Performance and Sports Medicine Chelsea Lane (went to Hawks) RETAINED: F Kevin Durant (two years, $61.5 million); F Kevon Looney THE KEY MAN: Brett Yamaguchi, Director of Game Operations/Entertainment, Oracle Arena. One doesn’t envy Yamaguchi, whose tasks will be twofold next season: create lifetime memories for the loudest and most loyal fanbase in the league, as the Warriors play their final season at Oracle Arena (aka Roaracle) -- they’re moving into the Chase Center, their tony new digs across the Bay in downtown San Francisco, come 2019-20. And, provide atmosphere and sizzle that will help coach Steve Kerr keep his veteran core from being bored out of its collective mind during the regular season while it waits for the playoffs and a chance at a three-peat. THE SKINNY: So, sure, the best team in the league adds one of the top two or three big men in the game in Cousins. But that’s the ancillary benefit of having such a dominant organization; everyone wants to figure out a way to get to the Bay. Cousins took less money to do so; now he can take his time rehabbing his torn Achilles tendon. If that means he’s not all the way back until All-Star, who cares? The Warriors will roll Kevon Looney, Jordan Bell and Jonas Jerebko out at the five in non-Death lineups until Cousins is ready. Meanwhile, Kerr has to keep his vets, but especially Andre Iguodala and Shawn Livingston, off their feet as much as possible during the regular season so they’ll be good to go from April through June. Losing Iguodala for the bulk of the 2018 Western finals was almost the Warriors’ downfall. 5. MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES 2017-18 RECORD: 22-60; missed playoffs ADDED: F Kyle Anderson (four years, $37 million); G Jevon Carter (No. 32 pick, 2018 Draft); F Omri Casspi (one year, $2.3 million); F Jaren Jackson Jr. (No. 4 pick, 2018 Draft); C Dakari Johnson (acquired from Magic); G Garrett Temple (acquired from Kings) LOST: C/F Deyonta Davis (traded to Kings); G Tyreke Evans (signed with Pacers); F Jarell Martin (traded to Magic); G Ben McLemore (traded to Kings) RETAINED: Coach J.B. Bickerstaff THE KEY MAN: G Mike Conley. It’s no secret how vital Conley is to the franchise, so a return to form is vital for the veteran point, who’ll be 31 on opening night and who missed 70 games last season with a heel injury. Next season will be the third of Conley’s five-year, $150 million deal signed in 2016; remember when so many people thought the world would end when a small market like Memphis invested so much in him? Well, Conley has already dropped to fifth in the league in salary among point guards, behind Stephen Curry Curry, Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook and Kyle Lowry. He’ll fall even further down the list next season, when John Wall’s massive extension kicks in, and Kyrie Irving and Kemba Walker each get new contracts that could leap his. THE SKINNY: Memphis couldn’t have had a worse 2017-18 if it tried, and the Grizzlies compounded their on-court implosion by not trading Evans when everyone in the league -- seemingly, except for them -- knew he was going to walk in the summer if they didn’t. But, the Grizzlies’ front office recovered in a big way, selling the 18-year-old Jackson that he would fit right in despite not working out for the Grizz before the Draft, then doubling up on “Grit And Grind 2.0” by taking Carter, college basketball’s fiercest on-ball defender, in the second. Ownership was willing to let the front office use the full mid-level exception on Anderson, who isn’t the sexiest pickup to many fans but whose defensive numbers in San Antonio were outstanding. Temple is the ultimate good vet and locker room guy who will get a chance to play for Bickerstaff after the Kings opted to go with their young guys and he was likely out of the rotation. GM Chris Wallace was adamant that the Grizzlies could rebuild again around the aging Conley and Marc Gasol and that they wouldn’t trade Gasol after the latter’s difficult relationship with former coach David Fizdale. They did, and they didn’t. 6. PHOENIX SUNS 2017-18 RECORD: 21-61; missed playoffs ADDED: Coach Igor Kokoskov; F Trevor Ariza (one year, $15 million); F Darrell Arthur (acquired from Nets); C Deandre Ayton (No. 1 pick, 2018 Draft); F Mikal Bridges (No. 10 pick, 2018 Draft); F Richaun Holmes (acquired from 76ers); G George King (No. 59 pick, 2018 Draft); G Elie Okobo (No. 31 pick, 2018 Draft) LOST: Former interim coach Jay Triano; F Jared Dudley (traded to Nets); C Alex Len (signed with Hawks); G Elfrid Payton (signed with Pelicans); G Tyler Ulis (waived); F/C Alan Williams (waived) RETAINED: G Devin Booker (contract extension) THE KEY MAN: Ayton. Let’s not bury the lead here: he was the first pick overall for a reason, because he has franchise-turning capability. The Suns don’t need singles or the occasional double any more; they need someone to put them back on the map with big, sweaty, nasty four-baggers, night after night. (cc: mixed metaphor police.) It’s been a minute since Amar’e Stoudemire was at his destructive best, and the list of impactful bigs in franchise history is thin: Connie Hawkins, Alvan Adams, Tom Chambers, Charles Barkley, Stoudemire. Ayton has a chance to be as good as any of them, and better, and he’s a potential stash of Kryptonite down the pike to the Warriors dynasty. THE SKINNY: There’s the makings of a Jazz-like reimaging of the franchise in short order. Kokoskov not only comes from Utah’s staff, but has significant coaching chops outside of Salt Lake City. He’s been coaching since he was 24, and that was 22 years ago. He’s coached both around the world and around the NBA as an assistant and development maven, and he’ll be great at bolstering the confidence of the Suns’ young guys -- including Bridges, a mature and solid rook with collegiate titles from Villianova who’ll be able to grow quietly outside the huge media shadow cast on Ayton. Kokoskov will also make things a lot easier for Devin Booker offensively. But GM Ryan McDonough was also smart enough to surround the kids with some solid vets, starting with Ariza, who will help the Suns again become acquainted with a long-honored NBA concept called “defense.” 7. DALLAS MAVERICKS 2017-18 RECORD: 24-58; missed playoffs ADDED: F Kostas Antetokounmpo (No. 60 pick, 2018 Draft); G Jalen Brunson (No. 33 pick, 2018 Draft); G Luka Doncic (No. 3 pick, 2018 Draft); C DeAndre Jordan (one year, $22 million); C Chinanu Onuaku (acquired from Rockets); F Ray Spalding (No. 56 pick, 2018 Draft); F Ding Yanyuhang; LOST: G Kyle Collinsworth (waived); G Seth Curry (signed with Blazers); G Yogi Ferrell (signed with Kings); F Doug McDermott (signed with Pacers); F Jonathan Motley (traded to Clippers); C Nerlens Noel (signed with Thunder) RETAINED: G/F Wesley Matthews (picked up player option); F Dirk Nowitzki (one year, $5 million) THE KEY MAN: CEO Cynthia Marshall. The former AT&T executive was put in charge after Sports Illustrated’s explosive story last February detailing a toxic workplace for female employees on the team’s business side, with sexual harassment rampant and no relief forthcoming from the supervisors who should have provided it. Marshall has been fast at work changing the business side culture, as separate investigations of who was responsible for allowing the previous environment to fester wind down. After their results are made public, it will be Marshall who will have to both enact their recommendations and sell the public that owner Mark Cuban’s organization has been fumigated for good. THE SKINNY: Dallas is banking that the 19-year-old Doncic is not only the real deal, but that he can come out of the gate in the NBA after starring in Europe and immediately give the Mavs a boost. There’s a large body of work suggesting Doncic will do just that, and accelerate the Mavs’ rebuild. Second-year guard Dennis Smith Jr.’s improvements should also speed up, and Jordan’s presence should start to close the sieve that has plagued Dallas’s defense the last couple of years. Losing both Curry and Ferrell will hurt the Mavs’ guard depth, though, and Brunson won’t be able to work in slowly. 8. INDIANA PACERS 2017-18 RECORD: 48-34; lost in first round ADDED: G/F Tyreke Evans (one year, $12 million); G Aaron Holiday (No. 23 pick, 2018 Draft); F Alize Johnson (No. 50 pick, 2018 Draft); F Doug McDermott; C/F Kyle O'Quinn LOST: C Al Jefferson (waived); G/F Glenn Robinson III (signed with Pistons); G Lance Stephenson (signed with Lakers) RETAINED: G Cory Joseph (picked up player option); F Thaddeus Young (picked up player option) THE KEY MAN: Kevin Pritchard, president of basketball operations. He’s been instrumental in putting this team together -- first as Larry Bird’s assistant, but on his own the last year-plus since Bird left. Now Pritchard will have to deal with not just the expectations last season’s surprising turnaround season will create with fans, but with the incessant calls and texts one receives when one has a team in which six players among the team’s core are on one-year deals and free agents next summer. It is extremely difficult for a team so constituted to stay unified and keep pulling on the rope together. Human nature is human nature, and players (and their families, and their agents) need reassurances they’re part of the organization’s future, just like any drone from Sector 7G would. It’s hard to think about sacrificing minutes and shots when almost players are judged by are their numbers. Nate McMillan, meanwhile, is only concerned, as any coach is, with the game in front of him, tonight. Pritchard’s phone will rarely have an hour off next season. THE SKINNY: What does a team that surprised so many last season need? More depth, because there aren’t going to be a lot of nights off going forward. The Pacers filled in nicely with a bunch of under-the-radar players, getting Evans after a bounce-back season in Memphis and O’Quinn after good years in New York. McBuckets is running out of stops to show he can be a key contributor in the NBA, but everything is tailor made for him to succeed here: he’ll have all the space in the world playing alongside Victor Oladipo, Bogdanovic and/or Myles Turner, depending on the lineup. Holiday was very good value at 23 in the first round. And Oladipo is on his grind. The Pacers are as big a threat as anyone to Boston’s assumed ascension in the post-LeBron East. 9. NEW YORK KNICKS 2017-18 RECORD: 29-53; missed playoffs ADDED: Coach David Fizdale; G Mario Hezonja (one year, $6.5 million); G Kevin Knox (No. 9 pick, 2018 Draft); C Mitchell Robinson (No. 36 pick, 2018 Draft); F Noah Vonleh (one year) LOST: Former coach Jeff Hornacek; F Michael Beasley (signed with Lakers); C/F Kyle O'Quinn (signed with Pacers); F Troy Williams (waived) RETAINED: G Ron Baker (picked up player option); F/C Luke Kornet; C Enes Kanter (picked up player option); THE KEY MAN: F Kristaps Porzingis. It’s unlikely Porzingis will play much, if at all, next season, as he rehabs his torn ACL suffered in February. New York will be extremely cautious with a timeline, and in Porzingis’ absence, if more losing brings more figurative ping pong balls the Knicks’ way … well, they won’t complain about that, either. None if it matters if “The Unicorn” doesn’t regain his form, though. So much of the Knicks’ 2018-19 improvement, or regression, will take place off camera. THE SKINNY: Fizdale won’t have a mandate to try and win with a veteran team in his first season in New York, as was the case in his year-plus in Memphis. So he can implement his position-less/fitness regimen with the young Knicks without looking over his shoulder. New York’s planning for 2019, when it hopes to strike in a big way in free agency, but that doesn’t mean next season won’t be important. Knox will have a lot of light on him, especially after playing well during NBA Summer League, but the Knicks truly believe Robinson will make some contributions this season with his significant physical gifts. Both must continue changing the narrative in Gotham that the team’s new braintrust is rebuilding the brand the right way -- slowly, and correctly. Hezonja was a good low-cost flier for New York who’ll give Fizdale some small ball options. Hezonja came on strong the second half of last season for the Magic, who hadn’t picked up his third-year option and were hamstrung in what they could offer him as a result. 10. SAN ANTONIO SPURS 2017-18 RECORD: 47-35; lost in first round ADDED: G Marco Belinelli (two years, $12 million); F Dante Cunningham (one year, $2.5 million); G DeMar DeRozan (acquired from Raptors); C Jakob Poeltl (acquired from Raptors); G Lonnie Walker IV (No. 18 pick, 2018 Draft); F Chimezie Metu (No. 49 pick, 2018 Draft) LOST: F Kyle Anderson (signed with Grizzlies); G Danny Green (traded to Raptors); F Kawhi Leonard (traded to Raptors); F Joffrey Lauvergne (signed with Fenerbahce); G Tony Parker (signed with Hornets); G Brandon Paul (waived) RETAINED: C/F Davis Bertans (two years, $14.5 million); G Bryn Forbes (two years, $6 million); F Rudy Gay (one year, $10 million) THE KEY MAN: Coach Gregg Popovich. There is no way to tell, nor is it really anyone’s business, how Pop will cope with the loss of his wife Erin, who died in April during the Spurs’ first-round series with Golden State. But the NBA grind is an unforgiving one, and Popovich is adding Olympic team coach duties to an already taxing schedule. He knows best how he’s doing and you can only hope he listens to himself when or if he needs time away. THE SKINNY: Backed up against it with Leonard’s still-murky insistence for a divorce, the Spurs did as well as could be expected in getting a four-time All-Star who’ll play with a huge chip on his shoulder next season. DeRozan will certainly help San Antonio extinguish the offensive droughts that came when teams loaded up on LaMarcus Aldridge defensively. LA was sensational for long stretches last season, making second team All-NBA for the second time in his career. Belinelli, rookie Walker and Poeltl should lengthen San Antonio’s bench significantly and reduce the Spurs’ dependence on nightly brilliance from 40-year-old Manu Ginobili, if he comes back for a 17th season. Longtime NBA reporter, columnist and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer David Aldridge is an analyst for TNT. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 8th, 2018

Spurs rally to keep Lakers winless with LeBron, 143-142

By Greg Beacham, Associated Press LOS ANGELES (AP) — Patty Mills hit a go-ahead jumper with 6.8 seconds left and the San Antonio Spurs kept the Los Angeles Lakers winless with LeBron James, rallying from a six-point deficit in the final minute of overtime for a wild 143-142 victory Monday night (Tuesday, PHL time). James hit a tying three-pointer with 2.4 seconds left in regulation and finished with 32 points, 14 assists and eight rebounds. But the superstar missed two free throws with 12.8 seconds to play, and Mills coolly put the Spurs ahead. LEBRON = CLUTCH#LakeShow pic.twitter.com/w75wNFoMkq — NBA TV (@NBATV) October 23, 2018 James missed a long shot at the buzzer, thoroughly deflating Staples Center. LaMarcus Aldridge had 37 points and 10 rebounds, and DeMar DeRozan added 32 points and 14 assists as the Spurs made a tremendous rally to bounce back from a loss at Portland. Kyle Kuzma had 37 points and eight rebounds for the Lakers, who played without suspended starters Brandon Ingram and Rajon Rondo. Josh Hart added 20 points and 10 rebounds. James' dramatic three-pointer from a full step beyond the arc capped the Lakers' improbable rally from an eight-point deficit in the final 1:04 of regulation. The Lakers then took a 142-136 lead late in overtime with a lineup matching James with three second-year pros and unsung rookie Johnathan Williams in his NBA debut. But the Lakers sputtered and the Spurs rallied. Rudy Gay's three-pointer cut the Lakers' lead to 142-141, and James missed his free throws before the jumper by Mills, who had 12 points. Ingram and Rondo began their suspensions stemming from their brawl with the Houston Rockets last Saturday (Sunday, PHL time). Ingram got a four-game ban for confronting an official and throwing punches, while Rondo got three games for punching and spitting on Chris Paul. Kuzma and Ball were in the starting lineup in their teammates' absence, and both second-year pros excelled. The Spurs jumped on the Lakers early, hitting 14 of their first 17 shots and opening an 18-point lead. James missed six of his first eight shots, but regained his game along with the rest of the Lakers, who trailed only 99-96 entering the fourth quarter. TIP-INS Spurs: Dante Cunningham had three points and 12 rebounds in 29 minutes as a starter. Jakob Poeltl, who started the first two games, didn't play. ... Marco Belinelli scored 15 points in a reserve role for the Spurs, and Rudy Gay had 16 points. Lakers: Svi Mykhailiuk and Williams made their NBA debuts in the shortened rotation. Mykhailiuk, the Ukrainian rookie out of Kansas, went scoreless in 17 minutes. Williams dunked on a pass from Mykhailiuk for his first basket, and he finished with eight points. ... Before the game, LA assigned German rookie Isaac Bonga to their G League affiliate. ... Celebrities at the game included Natalie Portman; Geri Halliwell and her husband, Red Bull F1 boss Christian Horner; boxing champions Terence Crawford and Floyd Mayweather; and Los Angeles Rams Todd Gurley, Ndamukong Suh and Nickell Robey-Coleman. UP NEXT Spurs: Host Indiana on Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time). Lakers: At Phoenix on Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 23rd, 2018

PVL: Lady Warriors notch first win

MALOLOS, Bulacan --- Pocari Sweat-Air Force needed five sets to carve out its first win in the Premier Volleyball League Season 2 Open Conference. Myla Pablo led the way as the Lady Warriors outlasted gritty PetroGazz in a bounce back, 25-20, 29-31, 25-15, 17-25, 15-5, win Wednesday at the Malolos Sports and Convention Center here. Pablo finished with 22 points with 19 coming off attacks for last year’s runner-up, which recovered from a sorry four-set loss to Ateneo de Manila University last Sunday. Pocari Sweat tied Tacloban at 1-1 win-loss card. The Lady Warriors built a huge 9-1 lead in the fifth set to set the tone of the frame and eventually hand the Angels their second straight defeat in three outings. "Siguro nag-mature na sila pagdating sa fifth set dahil alam ko namang kayang-kaya nila kaso breaks of the game," said Pocari Sweat coach Jasper Jimenez, who admitted that his squad looked physically and mentally exhausted for playing in the PVL and the ongoing AFP Olympics. Jozza Cabalza pushed the Lady Warriors at match point, 14-3, off back-to-back aces before sending his service short in the next play. Pocari Sweat was flagged with a rotation error before May Ann Pantino sealed the win with an attack. Jeanette Panaga finished with 11 points while Del Palomata and Pantino added 10 and nine markers, respectively, for the Lady Warriors. Jonah Sabete was the lone PetroGazz player in double figures with 17 markers while Paneng Mercado and Marites Pablo, who faced sisted Myla for the first time after playing together with National University in the UAAP three years ago, combined for 14 points.     ---- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 26th, 2018

Lady Warriors bounce back, sink Oragons

American Arielle Love and Jeanette Panaga imposed their will at the net as defending champion Pocari Sweat-Air Force repulsed Iriga-Navy, 25-8, 23-25, 25-18, 25-16, to bounce back in the Premier Volleyball League Reinforced Conference at the Filoil Flying V Center in San Juan late Wednesday......»»

Category: sportsSource:  philstarRelated NewsMay 25th, 2018

Johnson in big debut, lifts BaliPure vs Petro Gazz

Debuting Janisa Johnson erupted with 31 points as BaliPure-National University upended Petro Gazz, 22-25, 25-23, 28-26, 22-25, 15-12, to bounce back from an opening-game loss in the Premier Volleyball League Reinforced Conference at the Filoil Flying V Center in San Juan yesterday......»»

Category: sportsSource:  philstarRelated NewsMay 16th, 2018

HEADS UP: 10 sporting events to watch out for in 2018

2017 has come and gone, and it delivered some exciting sporting moments that has every sports fan clamoring for more. Worry not, though, as 2018 looks primed to satisfy even the most die-hard Pinoy sports aficionado with its bevy of local and international sporting events. Let's welcome the upcoming year with 10 of the most exciting sporting events to watch out for this 2018.   NCAA 93 & UAAP 80 VOLLEYBALL The cagers are out, and the spikers are in. Volleyball season begins this January 4 with NCAA season 93, followed by the 81st season of the UAAP this February. NCAA volleybelles are once again ready to take center court, and the defending women's champion Arellano University Lady Chiefs, led by heavy hitters Jovie Prado and Regine Arocha are banking on their undisputed team play to propel them to another title. Playing inspired volleyball throughout the season, the Lady Chiefs stunned the thrice-to-beat San Sebastian Lady Stags in the Finals last year, ultimately ending Grethcel Soltones' collegiate career with a dud. Rising stars like San Beda's Ces Racraquin, JRU's Karen Montojo also make the upcoming NCAA volleyball season worth waiting for. UAAP volleyball begins a month later the NCAA tournament, but expect the field to be even more tumultuous. With no clear-cut number 2 team to challenge the two-time defending champions DLSU Lady Spikers, it will be a toss-up against basically the other seven schools to step up. Dangerous squads include the much-improved Adamson Lady Falcons, last year's pleasant surprise UST, the dynastic Ateneo Lady Eagles, and the intact NU Lady Bulldogs and FEU Lady Tamaraws. NBA ALL-STAR GAME & 2018 NBA FINALS The annual showcase of the NBA's brightest stars just got a major revamp. That's right, the league has done away with the traditional East-West teams, and will now have a playground-type pool selection of players between its two captains when the exhibition tips off in Los Angeles. This raises a lot of interesting questions: Will the captains pick their teammates or will they go with a more controversial pick and select a rival? Will we able to know the order of the draft? Will this actually work in making the game better? While answers to those questions might not be answered until a few months, one thing's for sure, the NBA Finals, the spectacle that actually counts, will be epic. Will we be treated to Golden State Warriors vs Cleveland Cavaliers Pt. 4? Or will another squad swoop in to spoil the party? The league has indeed improved, with surprising teams like the Milwaukee Bucks, the Indiana Pacers, the Detroit Pistons out in the East already staking claim to playoff spots, and the Wild, Wild, West staying true to its monicker. The Houston Rockets and the perennial powerhouse San Antonio Spurs are still the favorites to pull the rug under the Warriors, while the Oklahoma City Thunder is right behind. Either way, with months of hoops already invested in it, the NBA Finals will surely be another explosive one, as it always is.   HOMECOMING QUEEN Alyssa Valdez spent the majority of 2017 overseas, spreading her wings in Taiwan with volleyball club Attack Line. This 2018 though, The Phenom plans on staying in the Philippines, armed with two year’s worth of international experience to focus on her home club team in the Creamline Cool Smashers.  "Next year, I'm planning to focus sa Creamline. Just this year, I travelled a lot talaga. They supported me throughout, esepcially doon sa National Team stint ko. They sacrificed a lot for me talaga. I think I have to focus sa team ko talaga,” she said last week.Alyssa Valdez just got scarier.   PINOY HOOP DREAMS: REMY MARTIN, KOBE PARAS  Two proudly Pinoy ballers based in the U.S. set out this 2018 to continue shooting for our island nation’s humble hoop dreams. Kobe Paras is still serving residency this 2017-2018 season with the California State University-Northridge Matadors, but his development is sure to be a joy to watch. The 6’6” Pinoy swingman accomplished a tour of duty with Gilas Pilipinas earlier in the year, and many Pinoys saw why we should all be excited about high-flying forward. Remy Martin, a 5’11” point guard dazzled in his first few games with the Arizona State Sun Devils, with his athleticism, explosiveness and feisty defense. The Filipino-American cager is proud of his roots and hopes to represent flag and country with Gilas Pilipinas in the future.   WHO (OR WHAT) IS NEXT FOR MANNY PACQUIAO? The never-ending saga of what’s next for Manny Pacquiao looks like it'll seep into 2018.  Following a rather controversial loss to Australian boxer Jeff Horn, Pacquiao has been “courting” the likes of Floyd Mayweather Jr. for a rematch, even taking to Instagram to ”greet” MMA superstar Conor McGregor before finally admitting that he’s been in talks with the Irish fighter’s camp. Whether he actually retires from boxing for good, or takes on another foe in the squared circle, one thing’s for sure: we’ll all have our eyes on Manny Pacquiao’s next move.   2018 WORLD CUP RUSSIA™ After four years, the best of world football will once again converge, this time in Russia to crown the Kings of the beautiful sport. The stage is set, the groups are finalized, and the 32 squads are promising the best 30-day football extravaganza in the hopes of dethroning defending champions Germany this June. Some group stage clashes to look out for are Germany vs Mexico, England vs Belgium, Portugal vs Spain, to name a few. June couldn’t come soon enough.   CHRISTIAN STANDHARDINGER'S PBA DEBUT No PBA rookie has probably come into the league as pro-ready as the Filipino-German standout Christian Standhardinger. The 6’9” big man was the consensus top overall pick of the 2017 PBA draft, and was also at the center of the controversial trade that sent Kia Picanto’s rights to the number 1 selection to the already-dominant San Miguel. While the trade did go down, so did former commissioner Chito Narvasa. Standhardinger’s entry to the PBA has come at a cost, but San Miguel is more than ready to wait one more conference to bulk up their already stacked squad. Seeing Standharinger play alongside 6’11” center and reigning MVP June Mar Fajardo, versatile forward Arwind Santos, and the Beermen’s bevy of guards in Alex Cabagnot, Marcio Lassiter, and Chris Ross, is definitely a sight to see, just look at how he's tearing it up in the ASEAN Basketball League.    2018 ASIAN GAMES INDONESIA The Philippines’ less than stellar performance at the 2017 Southeast Asian Games was met with widespread flak. Not directed at our athletes however, but aimed at our sports development and governing body for its subpar work in getting our sports representatives ready. While the 2018 Asian Games isn’t so far away, a handful of Pinoy medalists from the SEA Games are going into the continental meet with high hopes. After dominating the SEA Games’ triathlon event, our Filipino endurance athletes, led by gold medalists Kim Mangrobang, and Nikko Huelgas, are once again primed to take home hardware. Marathoner Mary Joy Tabal, and boxers John Marvin, and Eumir Marcial, all gold medalists at Malaysia, are all bright spots that could soon unravel into full-fledged stars come 2018.   GILAS PILIPINAS IN THE FIBA WORLD CUP QUALIFIERS It’s official, basketball is coming home to the Philippines this 2023 by way of the FIBA World Cup, but Gilas Pilipinas will first have to try its luck in the 2019 meet. After dealing with Chinese Taipei and Japan this 2017 for a perfect 2-0 slate in the qualifiers, Gilas Pilipinas still has to face the Japanese anew, and the powerhouse Australian team early in 2018. A good showing against these squads will help Gilas strengthen its bid to international basketball’s biggest stage before we actually host the event in six years’ time.   UAAP 81 BASKETBALL UAAP season 80 just came to an end, but the next season just got way more interesting. Aside from the title defense of the intact Ateneo Blue Eagles and their ongoing rivalry with La Salle, a certain move by a coach has shaken up the league. With Aldin Ayo reportedly accepting the job as the new head coach of the struggling University of Sto. Tomas, we might just be witnesses to the rebirth of the once proud basketball program under the fiery mentor. That, and the way the DLSU Green Archers can adjust from the departure of Ayo and former two-time MVP Ben Mbala, key cogs to their season 79 championship run. The tight race for the MVP award will also be one to watch, with Mbala gone, it’s up to the local stars to step up to the challenge......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 31st, 2017

Irving s 27 points, 18 assists leads Celtics past Raptors

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 17th, 2019

Lady Red Spikers deny Chiefs NCAA elims sweep

San Beda denied defending champion Arellano University a sweep and an outright finals berth with a heart-stopping 16-25, 25-17, 25-19, 18-25, 16-14 victory yesterday in the NCAA women’s volleyball tournament at the Filoil Flying V Center in San Juan City......»»

Category: sportsSource:  philstarRelated NewsJan 16th, 2019

Lady Altas oust Stags, stay in contention

Perpetual Help eliminated San Sebastian, 25-19, 25-8, 18-25, 25-17, yesterday to keep its Final Four bid alive in the women’s division of the 94th NCAA volleyball tournament at the Filoil Flying V Center in San Juan......»»

Category: sportsSource:  philstarRelated NewsJan 15th, 2019

MVP Ladder: Giannis bolsters case with key win in Houston

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 12th, 2019

Arellano Lady Chiefs turn back Altas, move closer to finals stint

Arellano University overcame a faulty start and turned back Perpetual Help, 18-25, 25-16, 25-19, 26-24, yesterday to step on the threshold of sweeping its way straight to the finals in the women’s division of the 94th NCAA volleyball tournament at the Filoil Flying V Center in San Juan......»»

Category: newsSource:  philstarRelated NewsJan 10th, 2019

St. Benilde halts JRU, moves closer to NCAA semis

College of St. Benilde turned back Jose Rizal University, 20-25, 25-17, 25-20, 25-22, yesterday to move one step away from claiming a Final Four spot in the women’s division of the 94th NCAA volleyball tournament at the Filoil Flying V Center in San Juan......»»

Category: sportsSource:  philstarRelated NewsJan 8th, 2019

Lady Chiefs, Altas reach NCAA volley Final 4

Reigning titlist Arellano University overpowered Emilio Aguinaldo College, 25-19, 25-11, 25-8, to clinch the first Final Four berth in the women’s division of the 94th NCAA volleyball tournament at the Filoil Flying V Center in San Juan......»»

Category: newsSource:  philstarRelated NewsJan 7th, 2019

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

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 4th, 2019

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

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 1st, 2019

Harden has Rockets rolling with visit to Warriors looming

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 31st, 2018

Old School Power Rankings 2018-19: Weeks 9-10

By Scott Wraight, NBA.com While a pair of familiar names battle injuries and try to keep a spot on the list, another duo enters the chase for the first time in 2018-19. Now that we're past the 'unofficial' start of the season with Christmas Day in the rear-view mirror, it'll be interesting to see which challengers step forward. Meanwhile, the King receives the first dent in his armor in the form of a groin injury. But that won't likely be enough to slow him down or allow for anyone else to break through the gate. - Notes: Statistics are through games of Dec. 27 (Dec. 28, PHL time); ATHO = All To His Own - Any player who turns 32 during regular season can be added to rankings. - Check out previous rankings ATHO. LeBron James (33), Los Angeles Lakers Previous rank: ATHO Latest stats: 6 games, 22.3 ppg, 11.7 rpg, 8.0 apg Season stats: 27.3 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 7.1 apg A strained groin has ended James' consecutive games streak at 156. The Lakers will be extra cautious, electing to sit him for 'several games.' Yet it's still difficult to see the King losing his spot if he misses three, five or even 10 games. Before the injury, James had secured four straight double-doubles including a triple-double. ________________________________________________________ 1. LaMarcus Aldridge (33), San Antonio Spurs Previous rank: 1 Latest stats: 6 games, 20.7 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 2.2 apg Season stats: 18.9 ppg, 9.1 rpg, 2.1 apg After struggling at the start the season, Aldridge has found his comfort zone while helping the Spurs go 8-2 in their last 10. Aldridge has managed five games of 20 or more points in the last seven while shooting a blistering 58.1 percent from the field. All this while averaging fewer than 30 minutes per game, which comes out to 28.2 points per 48 minutes on the season. 2. Marc Gasol (33), Memphis Grizzlies Previous rank: 2 Latest stats: 7 games, 15.6 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 5.4 apg Season stats: 16.2 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 4.3 apg Gasol was unspectacular over the last seven, but just good enough to hold off Redick for the No. 2 spot. Yes, the veteran center managed to score 15 or more in four of those games, but went for 20 or more once. Gasol also posted double-digit rebounds in one game while failing to shoot better than 50 percent from the field in four straight games. 3. J.J. Redick (34), Philadelphia 76ers Previous rank: 3 Latest stats: 7 games, 18.4 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 2.6 apg Season stats: 18.2 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 2.9 apg Another solid stretch has Mr. Steady this close to overtaking Gasol. In his last three games, Redick has scored 17 or more points, connected on four or more three-pointers and shot better 58 percent in two of the three. He continues to score at a career-best 18.2 ppg, reaching double figures in all 36 games this season. 4. Lou Williams (32), LA Clippers Previous rank: 5 Latest stats: 4 games, 20.3 ppg, 1.5 rpg, 7.5 apg Season stats: 17.6 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 4.9 apg After missing four games with a hamstring injury, Williams returned in a big way -- scoring 24 or more in three of four games in just 22 minutes per game. If that's not enough, he shot an impressive 56.5 percent from the field, 60.0 from deep and contributed six or more assists in all four games. Williams just might be the Clippers' most important player. 5.  Kyle Lowry (32), Toronto Raptors Previous rank: 4 Latest stats: 1 game, 20 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 5.0 apg Season stats: 14.4 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 9.8 apg Lowry has been battling back/thigh injuries that has forced him to miss five of the last six games. The one game he was able to suit up for went OK (20 points on 6-for-16 shooting, six rebounds and five assists). The nagging injuries could help explain his uneven production over the last three weeks. 6. Marvin Williams (32), Charlotte Hornets Previous rank: NA Latest stats: 6 games, 13.3 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 1.2 apg Season stats: 9.6 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 1.0 apg Welcome to the race, new face. After starting the season with just four double-digit scoring games in the first 17 games, Williams has produced six such games in the last nine as well as connecting on three or more three's. In fact, he's matching his career best (2015-16) of 1.9 three-pointers made per game. 7. Trevor Ariza (33), Washington Wizards Previous rank: NA Latest stats: 5 games, 14.0 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 3.4 apg Season stats: 10.6 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 3.4 apg All Ariza has done since his trade from Phoenix is post double-digit scoring games in four of five, with no total dipping below 14. The shooting has been off lately (36.2 FG%, 31.7 3PT%), but he's still managed to hit multiple three's in 3-of-5 and at least three steals in four of five, including a season-high six in his first game with the Wizards. 8.  Chris Paul (33), Houston Rockets Previous rank: 6 Latest stats: 4 games, 11.5 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 7.8 apg Season stats: 15.6 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 8.0 apg Paul has missed the last three games and will be sidelined at least two weeks with a hamstring injury. It could be hard to see him holding down a spot on the list much longer. In four games before the injury, Paul was hit-and-miss, shooting 3-for-10 in three games and 7-for-11 in the other. He did, however, manage eight or more assists in three of four. 9. Rudy Gay (32), San Antonio Spurs Previous rank: 9 Latest stats: 6 games, 13.3 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 3.3 apg Season stats: 14.0 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 2.4 apg Gay's streak of double-digit scoring games came to an end at 10 after Wednesday's (Thursday, PHL time) six-point effort. Outside of that, he was fairly consistent, putting up between 12-21 points in the other five games. Gay also grabbed six or more boards in five of six and shot better than 50 percent from the field in four. 10.  J.J. Barea (34), Dallas Mavericks Previous rank: 10 Latest stats: 5 games, 13.4 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 6.8 apg Season stats: 11.8 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 5.6 apg The good: 18 points on 7-for-13 shooting Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time) and 19 points in 8-for-15 shooting on Dec. 20. The bad: nine points on 2-for-9 Sunday (Monday, PHL time) and 10 points on 4-for-11 on Dec. 18 (Dec. 19, PHL time). It certainly has been a mixed bag for Barea, who continues to provide sparks here and there despite averaging just 23.4 minutes. Just missed the cut: DeMarre Carroll, Dwyane Wade, Garrett Temple, Marco Belinelli The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 30th, 2018

Lou s 36 send Clips past Lakers 118-107 in 1st clash of year

By Greg Beacham, Associated Press LOS ANGELES (AP) — Lou Williams scored a season-high 36 points, and the Los Angeles Clippers scored 22 consecutive points during the second half of a 118-107 victory over the depleted Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night (Saturday, PHL time). Danilo Gallinari added 19 points and 10 rebounds for the Clippers, who held the Lakers without a field goal for more than six minutes late in the first meeting of the season between the Staples Center co-tenants and Los Angeles rivals. The Clippers have won 22 of their last 25 meetings with the Lakers, yet still trail the 16-time NBA champions 146-70 in the overall series. Kyle Kuzma scored 24 points and Lonzo Ball had 19 for the Lakers, who played without LeBron James, Rajon Rondo and JaVale McGee. The remaining Lakers lost for the fifth time in seven games, including back-to-back defeats for only the third time since October. James watched from the bench in street clothes after causing a pregame stir on social media when he entered the Lakers' locker room holding a glass of wine. The noted oenophile and four-time NBA MVP is day-to-day with his strained groin, but James isn't expected to miss as much time as Rondo, who is out for at least a month after surgery on his right index finger. Both teams representing this basketball-loving city missed the playoffs last season, but both are off to winning starts this year. The Lakers have been revitalized around James, while the Clippers have formed a surprisingly strong core after shedding longtime mainstays Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan and Chris Paul over the previous year. The Clippers turned a seven-point deficit into a 15-point lead early in the fourth quarter of their fourth win in five games. Williams torched his former team yet again, scoring 23 points in the second half. He hit three three-pointers, including a decisive shot with 2:23 to play, and had seven rebounds while making all 11 of his free throws. Josh Hart scored 12 points for the Lakers before getting ejected with 4:41 left after he was infuriated that Tobias Harris wasn't called for pushing off. Lakers coach Luke Walton also got a technical foul in the exchange. One night after losing at Sacramento on a buzzer-beating triple, the Lakers again couldn't win without three veteran regulars. Ball had another fascinating game as the Lakers' starting point guard, juxtaposing his exceptional defense and sublime passing with basic mistakes and an erratic shot. Ingram and Ball both picked up four fouls during the third quarter, but neither team made a big move until the Clippers scored the final nine points of the quarter and continued their one-sided run well into the fourth. TIP-INS Clippers: Williams hit a three-pointer from just past halfcourt at the halftime buzzer. ... They have won four straight "road" games against the Lakers, but lost their last "home" game in the series. Lakers: German rookie Isaac Bonga was recalled to fill a roster spot amid the injury absences. ... The Lakers showed why they're the NBA's worst team at the line by missing more free throws in the first quarter (seven) than the Pistons, Pacers, Bulls, Wizards, Raptors, Magic, Hornets, Nets, Heat, Cavaliers and Pelicans missed in their entire games Friday. ... Michael Beasley is still away from the team after his mother's death. UP NEXT Clippers: Host San Antonio on Saturday (Sunday, PHL time). Lakers: Host Sacramento on Sunday (Monday, PHL time)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 29th, 2018

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

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 29th, 2018

Pinoy sports most captivating underdog stories of 2018

Who doesn't love a good underdog story? In 2018, we saw another batch of champions get crowned for their extended excellence in their respective leagues and disciplines. We also witnessed squads and personalities who found success despite minimum fanfare. These underdogs didn't let any pre-competition predictions cloud their performances en route inspiring runs that may not have delivered gold, but are primed to be remembered for years to come.  MARGIELYN DIDAL Let's start with arguably the most inspiring entry on this list. Margielyn Didal basically burst onto the scene to bag skateboarding gold in the 2018 Asian Games. The Cebuana's victory is made even more impressive because of her humble roots, the lengths she went through just to compete, and what she's fighting for. The daughter of a carpenter and a sidewalk vendor, Didal also famously had to fend off security personnel in malls, when she was practicing her craft. Still, Didal's rise continued as she became the first Filipino to represent the nation in the 2018 X Games in Minnesota.  Her gold in the Asiad  earned her the distinction as the flag bearer of the Philippine delegation in the continental meet, and has slowly increased awareness for the sport. UP LADY FIGHTING MAROONS Now for another champion. The UP Lady Maroons were far from shoo-ins into the Premier Volleyball League Collegiate Conference Final Four. After a slow start to the elimination round, the Diliman-based squad was able to get things going, securing the fourth seed to face the top-ranked Adamson Lady Falcons in the semis.  Facing a twice-to-beat disdvantage, the Lady Maroons flexed their rediscovered depth, especially after feisty middle Marian Buitre found her touch. Conference MVP and eventual Finals MVP Isa Molde also made a case as a legitimate star as UP stunned Adamson. Facing the UAAP season 80 Finalists FEU Lady Tamaraws, UP leaned on its unparalleled chemistry and communication to defeat FEU in two hard-fought, five-set matches. The Lady Maroons also bagged gold in a rival tournament, beating out another UAAP powerhouse in UST. Come UAAP Season 81, the Lady Maroons are set to prove their preseason victories are no fluke.    NU BULLDOGS With a chip on their shoulder, wanting to regain UAAP men's volleyball supremacy, the NU Bulldogs did everything they could to dethrone reigning three-time defending champs Ateneo Blue Eagles in Season 80. NU waltzed their way through the double round robin elimination round and made quick work of UST in the Final Four to book a ticket to the finals. However, the same road block, the Blue Eagles were there, with five-time MVP Marck Espejo just fresh off from his record-setting 55-point explosion to oust  twice-to-beat FEU in the Final Four.  Using their strong net defense and efficient reception, the Bulldogs swept Ateneo in the best-of-three Finals series. Finals MVP Bryan Bagunas led the offensive attack in the clincher with 22 points, as NU's famed floor defense frustrated the graduating Espejo and hand them their first loss in the championship series in three years.   FEU LADY TAMARAWS The UAAP Season 80 women's volleyball tournament was arguably the most exciting in recent memory. It was open-ended, every game oozed excitement as the unlikliest of results would come out here and there. Two-time defending champs De La Salle Lady Spikers still were the favored ones in the course of the eliminations, but suffered some shocking losses, including a four-set disappointment over Adamson. Being the other Finals contender was a quandary, but the FEU Lady Tamaraws led the charge and rose to the occasion, depriving Ateneo of a Finals appearance. Led by none other than Bernadeth Pons, and excellent play from their frontline, FEU advanced to the Finals for the first time in nine years, ironically also against the Ramil de Jesus-led squad. Many things had changed then, but La Salle showed why they were the reigning Queens of the UAAP, sweeping the Lady Tamaraws in two hard-fought contests.   UP FIGHTING MAROONS After an encouraging run in the UAAP season 80 men's basketball tournament, the UP Fighting Maroons put the league on notice in season 81.  Led by captain Paul Desiderio, super sophomore Juan Gomez de Liano, and Nigerian reinforcement Bright Akhuetie, the Fighting Maroons had to fight through a sluggish start. All things changed when head coach Bo Perasol decided to bring Juan off the bench to inject much-needed energy to the second unit. Juan would lead the league in assists as he guided UP's offense masterfully, carrying them to a historic Final Four return after a 21-year absence. That may already be a victory worth celebrating for UP, but the Fighting Maroons brought the fight in the Final Four as the third-seeded team facing no. 2 Adamson. In what would eventually be one of the most exciting Final Four series in recent UAAP history, UP would upset the Soaring Falcons in two games to book a Finals berth against Ateneo, where the Fighting Maroons bowed out. Still, what a run it was. And UP looks primed to be even more dangerous next season.   ATENEO LADY EAGLES There were uncertainty on how the Ateneo Lady Eagles would fare after coach Tai Bundit left the team in UAAP Season 80.  Blue Eagles mentor Oliver Almadro was tapped to oversee the team after Bundit's reign, with the PVL Open Conference being his first real challenge, calling the shots for Ateneo-Motolite.  Veterans Bea de Leon and Maddie Madayag did the heavy lifting for the team, but rookie sensations Vanessa Gandler, Jaja Maraguinot, Isabela Peralta, Samantha Fanger, and Erika Raagas provided their worth for the team. Almadro's unique style of motivation was also key in providing the spark for his team, providing some quotable lines from his timeouts showed around the world. Qualifying to the Final Four, Ateneo had their hands full against the veteran-laden BanKo-Perlas Spikers, who featured some former Lady Eagles. Down 0-1 in the series and had their backs against the wall in Game 3 down 0-2, the Lady Eagles mounted a massive comeback, stunning the Perlas Spikers in five sets and booking a dream Finals matchup against the Creamline Cool Smashers. However, it was not meant to be as they firepower of the Cool Smashers behind season MVP Alyssa Valdez proved to the difference as Creamline swept the Lady Eagles to clinch the Open Conference plum......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 24th, 2018