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Record futility dooms Houston Rockets in Game 7

By Sekou Smith, NBA.com HOUSTON — In the end, all the questions remain. For Mike D’Antoni, for Chris Paul, James Harden and the rest of the Houston Rockets. All of the demons of playoffs past that the were to be eradicated with one game, Game 7 of the Western Conference finals on their home floor against the reigning champion Golden State Warriors, and all of the noise would be silenced. But it wasn’t to be. The team these Rockets were built to beat, would not be denied. The Rockets’ record-setting season, the best regular season in franchise history, was undone by another record they ran into head on in what turned out to be the final night of their would-be magical campaign. The Rockets shot a jaw-dropping 44 times from beyond the three-point line, making just seven while enduring a cover-your-eyes stretch that saw them miss a staggering 27 straight. The 37 misses from deep are a playoff record. They broke their own record of 36, which they set in the first round against Minnesota when they shot 16-for-52 in Game 2 against the Minnesota Timberwolves and won by 20 points. You can go cold as ice from deep in a first-round series against an overmatched opponent and still win in a runaway. You can’t do it against the best shooting team in NBA history in a game with everything on the line. And as the Rockets sputtered in the third quarter the Warriors heated up. A Kevin Durant three-pointer tied the game at 61 with 4:34 to play in the third and a corner three from Curry with 36 seconds later gave the Warriors a 64-61 lead they’d never surrender. “These guys, you think you’ve got them or you think you are guarding them okay, and it’s just, if you take a deep breath one time, it’s a three,” D’Antoni said. “That’s why they’re so good.” Here is a compilation of all of the Rockets 27 straight missed threes ....🤮🤮🤮 pic.twitter.com/p9HRJuMJNz — gifdsports (@gifdsports) May 29, 2018 P.J. Tucker’s corner triple late in the game was the Rockets’ only made basket from distance after halftime, an ugly 1-for-21 effort that precipitated their collapse from an earlier 15-point lead. “Man, it hurts bad,” said veteran Rockets forward Trevor Ariza, who had perhaps the most brutal night of all, going scoreless on 0-for-12 shooting from the floor, including 0-for-9 from deep. “We played hard, though, we fought hard. I’m just hurt right now. Yeah, this one hurt real bad.” Their early lead provided even more false security for a team that already had to work without Paul in Games 6 and 7; that right hamstring strain suffered in the final minute of the Rockets’ Game 5 win ending his season prematurely. The Rockets’ season-long focus on the Warriors provided the ultimate incentive, from Daryl Morey’s obsession with the four-time Western Conference champs as he put this Rockets team together last summer, until the final buzzer Monday night (Tuesday, PHL time). But now the after taste of being so close but just not quite healthy or good enough will linger into another offseason that begins before June. The manner in which they lost cuts particularly deep for a team that bragged about its “swagger” all season, from opening night at Oracle Arena when they spoiled ring/banner night for the Warriors right up until their fall in Game 7, when the strength they’d relied on all season failed them. “One half of basketball,” Harden said. “Two games, Game 6 and 7. One half of basketball. We just didn’t have the same energy that we had in the first half or the pace. So it’s extremely frustrating … we had an opportunity tonight and last game without Chris. Obviously he’s a big part of why we are here, but we had opportunities, especially in the first half of both games.” D’Antoni praised his team after it was all over, refusing once again to measure them based solely on the results of this series and this postseason. He stayed true to his word before the playoffs began, insisting that what happens now would not define the careers of Harden or Paul. It’s a noble thought, a fine gesture from an accomplished coach who helped revolutionize the game but is lacking that one breakthrough trip to basketball's biggest stage: The Finals. If that’s the way it looks and feels from the inside, fine. But externally, the results are all that matter. And D’Antoni, Harden and Paul go into the offseason with the same whispers, the same doubters wondering about their readiness for the magnitude of these sorts of moments. D’Antoni is still the great coach without a signature accomplishment. His team had a 3-2 edge in this series and home-court advantage in their back pocket, and couldn't finish against a team that has mastered the style of play he introduced to the league during his days in Phoenix with a two-time Kia MVP running the show. D’Antoni’s confidence, however, will not be shaken by yet another postseason failure. “No, because the other team’s doing it,” he said. “No, not at all. That’s where the game’s going. Now we should have made some more [three's] but no, I don’t lose confidence in that. We’ve got the right formula. We’ve got to execute it. We’ve got to do a little bit better and it would be nice if they would help out a little bit, but it seems like they’re not. We’ll get better.” Paul is still the all-time great point guard who can’t seem to stay healthy long enough to fulfill his destiny on a championship stage. “We knew it was going to be tough on him,” D’Antoni said. “Mostly I hate it for him. He’s probably more devastated than anybody. But again, I know the fans of Houston, especially myself, to have him on your side is incredible. He’ll be back. Like I said, he’ll be even better. We’ll be better.” Harden, the likely Kia MVP this season, is favored to join an unfortunate cast of players with the most valuable hardware but without a championship ring to go with it. After scoring 41 points in Game 1, his numbers continued to slide. He averaged 26.7 points on 38 percent shooting from the floor, including 20 from beyond the arc, over the final six games. And since Paul was relegated to a sideline motivator role for the final two games, the burden Harden carries into the offseason for this latest setback is magnified. But like his coach, Harden said there was no turning back. Even with a record blizzard of three-point misses, there was never so much as a passing thought to change up and try something different. “I mean, we had a lot of open shots,” Harden said, confident to the bitter end. "I think we competed , and competed the best we can.” The Rockets’ best would have been good enough to beat anyone else in the NBA Monday night (Tuesday, PHL time). Just not the one team they were supposed to built for. 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: abscbn abscbnMay 29th, 2018

Westbrook s triple-double leads Thunder past Grizzlies

By Cliff Brunt, Associated Press OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Russell Westbrook had his eighth straight triple-double, and the Oklahoma City Thunder rolled past the depleted Memphis Grizzlies 117-95 on Thursday night. Westbrook finished with 15 points, 15 assists and 13 rebounds. He now has the longest triple-double streak of his career and is one short of Wilt Chamberlain's NBA record of nine straight set in 1968. Paul George scored 27 points and Jerami Grant added 20 for Oklahoma City, which has won nine of 10. Jaren Jackson Jr. scored 27 points for the Grizzlies, who were reeling from the news that franchise cornerstone Marc Gasol was traded to the Raptors for three players. The Grizzlies also announced Thursday that they sent JaMychal Green and Garrett Temple to the Los Angeles Clippers for Avery Bradley. There were only 11 players in uniform for the Grizzlies, and eight played. Memphis led 53-51 at halftime before the Thunder found their groove. Oklahoma City center Steven Adams stole the ball and drove nearly the length of the floor for a layup to put the Thunder ahead 57-55. Adams was scoreless in the first half, but he had nine points in the third quarter to help Oklahoma City take an 83-72 lead. The Thunder scored the first 11 points of the fourth quarter to put the game out of reach. TIP-INS Grizzlies: Fell behind 7-0 to start the game. ... C Ivan Rabb started for the second time this season. He had 15 points and nine rebounds. ... Coach J.B. Bickerstaff was called for a technical in the second quarter. Thunder: George and Westbrook will play together on Team Giannis at the All-Star Game. Westbrook was traded from Team LeBron for Philadelphia's Ben Simmons. ... G Alex Abrines missed the game for personal reasons. ... Westbrook has 21 triple-doubles this season and 125 in his career. UP NEXT Grizzlies: Host the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday. Thunder: Visit the Houston Rockets on Saturday......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 8th, 2019

Bagley s career-high 24 points lead Kings past Spurs 127-112

By Josh Dubow, Associated Press SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Rookie forward Marvin Bagley III had a career-high 24 points and 12 rebounds for his third straight double-double, leading the Sacramento Kings past the San Antonio Spurs 127-112 on Monday night (Tuesday, PHL time) for their seventh straight home win. De'Aaron Fox added 20 points and Buddy Hield scored 18 to extend Sacramento's longest home winning streak since a 14-gamer in 2005-06. That was the last time the Kings made the playoffs, but Sacramento (28-25) is positioned to make a run at a postseason spot this season. The Kings trail the Los Angeles Clippers by a half-game for eighth place in the Western Conference. DeMar DeRozan had 24 points and LaMarcus Aldridge added 22 for the Spurs, who lost the opener of their annual eight-game rodeo road trip. Sacramento coach Dave Joerger was fearful his team could have a "hangover" after an emotional win at home Saturday night (Sunday, PHL time) against Philadelphia. But the young Kings responded with another victory, helping them seal their first season-series win over the Spurs since 2001-02. Sacramento had lost 14 straight to San Antonio before winning at home in November and followed it up with another. The teams meet for the final time in the regular season March 31 (April 1, PHL time) in San Antonio. The Kings started to pull ahead midway through the third quarter. Hield made a driving layup followed by a three-pointer in transition to build the lead to 91-80, and Sacramento led by 12 heading into the fourth. The Spurs cut the deficit in half early in the fourth but Bagley energized the crowd with an alley-oop dunk when he rotated nearly 360 degrees after catching the lob from Yogi Ferrell to help stave off a comeback attempt. The Kings made seven three-pointers in the first quarter to take a 14-point lead before the Spurs fought back in the second to briefly go back ahead. Fox's buzzer-beating layup put Sacramento up 63-59 at halftime. TIP-INS Spurs: G Derrick White didn't join the team for the start of the road trip because of a heel injury. "He'll be out for a while," coach Gregg Popovich said. "The MRI wasn't great. So we'll see." Davis Bertans started in place of White. Kings: Sacramento made 10 three-pointers in the first half to extend the franchise record for most games in a season with double-digit three's. The Kings have done it 41 times this season, seven more than the previous mark set two years ago. ... Ferrell scored 19 points on 7-for-7 shooting and Harry Giles had 11 as Sacramento outscored the Spurs 60-32 from the bench. BUZZER BEATERS There was a frantic end to the third quarter. Patty Mills missed a shot for San Antonio that Nemanja Bjelica rebounded with 4.1 seconds left. He got the ball to Fox, who went coast-to-coast for a layup with 1.4 seconds to go. But Bertans then threw an outlet pass to Mills, who responded with a layup of his own with 0.2 seconds left in the quarter. UP NEXT Spurs: Visit the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time). Kings: Host the Houston Rockets on Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 5th, 2019

LOOK: Here are the 2019 NBA All-Star Game reserves

NBA press release NEW YORK – Two-time Kia NBA All-Star MVP Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder and four first-time All-Stars lead the list of 14 players selected by the NBA’s head coaches as reserves for the 2019 NBA All-Star Game. The 68th NBA All-Star Game, featuring Team LeBron vs. Team Giannis, will take place on Sunday, Feb. 17 at 8 p.m. ET at Spectrum Center in Charlotte, N.C. (Feb. 18, PHL time). NBA All-Star 2019 will reach fans in more than 200 countries and territories in more than 40 languages. Joining Westbrook as reserves in the Western Conference player pool are San Antonio Spurs forward-center LaMarcus Aldridge, New Orleans Pelicans forward-center Anthony Davis, Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokić, Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard, Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson and Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns.  Jokić has been named an NBA All-Star for the first time. The Eastern Conference reserve pool includes three first-time NBA All-Star selections: Milwaukee Bucks forward Khris Middleton, Philadelphia 76ers guard-forward Ben Simmons and Orlando Magic center Nikola Vučević.  They are joined by Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal, Detroit Pistons forward Blake Griffin, Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry and Indiana Pacers guard Victor Oladipo. Team captains LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers and Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Bucks will draft the NBA All-Star Game rosters from the pool of players voted as starters and reserves in each conference. The team rosters will be revealed on TNT in a special NBA All-Star Draft Show on Thursday, Feb. 7 at 7 p.m. ET (Feb. 8, PHL time). James and Antetokounmpo will make their picks without regard for a player’s conference affiliation or position.  Each captain will choose 11 players to complete a 12-man roster. The 2019 NBA All-Star Draft rules include: - The eight starters (aside from James and Antetokounmpo) will be drafted in the First Round. - The 14 reserves will be drafted in the Second Round. - As the top overall vote-getter among fans, James will have the first pick in the First Round (Starters).  Antetokounmpo will have the first pick in the Second Round (Reserves). - The captains will alternate picks in each round until all players in that round have been selected. The 10 All-Star Game starters, unveiled last week, were selected by fans, current NBA players and a media panel.  The Eastern Conference starter pool consists of Antetokounmpo, Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid, Toronto’s Kawhi Leonard, the Boston Celtics’ Kyrie Irving and the Charlotte Hornets’ Kemba Walker. The Western Conference starter pool is James, Golden State’s Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City’s Paul George and the Houston Rockets’ James Harden. The 14 All-Star Game reserves were selected by the NBA’s 30 head coaches. The coaches voted for seven players in their respective conferences – two guards, three frontcourt players and two additional players at either position group. They were not permitted to vote for players from their own team. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver will select the replacement for any player unable to participate in the All-Star Game, choosing a player from the same conference as the player who is being replaced. Team LeBron will be coached by the head coach from the Western Conference team with the best record through games played on Sunday, Feb. 3 (Feb. 4, PHL time). Team Giannis will be led by the head coach from the Eastern Conference team with the best record through games played on Feb. 3 (Feb. 4, PHL time). Below is a closer look at the NBA All-Star Game reserves: 2019 NBA ALL-STAR GAME RESERVES Western Conference Player Pool The Western Conference @NBAAllStar Reserve Pool!@aldridge_12 @AntDavis23 Nikola Jokic@Dame_Lillard @KlayThompson @KarlTowns @russwest44 #NBAAllStar pic.twitter.com/BHu2JnxiHg — NBA (@NBA) February 1, 2019 • LaMarcus Aldridge, Spurs (7th All-Star selection): Aldridge is an All-Star for the seventh time in the last eight seasons. The Spurs have now had at least one player selected to 21 consecutive All-Star Games, the NBA’s longest active streak. • Anthony Davis, Pelicans (6th All-Star selection): An All-Star for the sixth year in a row, Davis scored a record 52 points in the 2017 All-Star Game. • Nikola Jokić, Nuggets (1st All-Star selection): Selected with the 41st overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, the Serbian center is Denver’s first All-Star since the 2010-11 season (Carmelo Anthony).   • Damian Lillard, Trail Blazers (4th All-Star selection): Lillard is the fourth player to earn at least four All-Star nods with Portland, joining Clyde Drexler (eight), Aldridge (four) and Sidney Wicks (four). • Klay Thompson, Warriors (5th All-Star selection): This marks the fifth consecutive All-Star selection for Thompson, who made a game-high five three-pointers and scored 15 points in the 2018 All-Star Game. • Karl-Anthony Towns, Timberwolves (2nd All-Star selection): Towns is the third player to be named an All-Star multiple times with Minnesota, along with Kevin Garnett (10) and Kevin Love (three). • Russell Westbrook, Thunder (8th All-Star selection): An All-Star for the eighth time in the last nine seasons, Westbrook is the only player to win the Kia NBA All-Star MVP Award outright in back-to-back years (2015 and 2016). Eastern Conference Player Pool The Eastern Conference @NBAAllStar Reserve Pool!@RealDealBeal23 @blakegriffin23 @Klow7 @Khris22m @VicOladipo @BenSimmons25 @NikolaVucevic #NBAAllStar pic.twitter.com/LfwuSBvA1P — NBA (@NBA) February 1, 2019 • Bradley Beal, Wizards (2nd All-Star selection): This is the second straight All-Star selection for Beal, who scored 14 points in his All-Star Game debut last year. • Blake Griffin (6th All-Star selection): Griffin is set to appear in the All-Star Game for the first time since 2014, when he scored 38 points as a member of the LA Clippers. • Kyle Lowry, Raptors (5th All-Star selection): With his fifth consecutive All-Star nod, Lowry becomes the second player to be named to at least five All-Star teams after not being selected in any of his first eight seasons, joining Chauncey Billups. • Khris Middleton, Bucks (1st All-Star selection): The 39th overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft joins Antetokounmpo to give Milwaukee multiple All-Stars in the same season for the first time since 2000-01 (Ray Allen and Glenn Robinson). • Victor Oladipo, Pacers (2nd All-Star selection): Oladipo has been named an All-Star in each of his two seasons with Indiana. He sustained a season-ending ruptured quad tendon in his right knee on Jan. 23 (Jan. 24, PHL time). • Ben Simmons, 76ers (1st All-Star selection): The reigning Kia NBA Rookie of the Year makes his All-Star debut in his second season – just as Philadelphia teammate Embiid did last year. • Nikola Vučević, Magic (1st All-Star selection): The eight-year NBA veteran from Montenegro is Orlando’s first All-Star selection since the 2011-12 season (Dwight Howard).  .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 1st, 2019

Fear The Beard: James Harden on a roll, revives Houston

By Kristie Rieken, Associated Press HOUSTON (AP) — James Harden has been scoring at a pace not seen since Wilt Chamberlain in the 1960s. He doesn’t want to talk about it, of course. He never does, whether things are going well or not. But it is clear he is enjoying this because his scoring outburst has coincided with Houston climbing the standings, back among the top teams in the Western Conference after an early-season slump. “I love to hoop,” he said. “I love to just be out there and the grind.” He scored 40 points in Houston’s win over Orlando on Sunday night (Monday, PHL time) to extend his stretch of consecutive 30-point games to 23, the fourth-longest streak in NBA history behind three such streaks by Chamberlain. In 13 games this month, last season’s MVP is averaging 44.1 points. He has scored at least 40 points in eight games in January, including two 50-point games and a franchise-record 61 in a win over the Knicks. “It’s remarkable,” teammate Eric Gordon said. “I’ve been around a lot of big-time players and he’s for sure the best scorer I’ve ever been around and he does it so easily. It’s a credit to him. He’s one of the best scorers ever.” It isn’t only Harden’s teammates who have been wowed by his work. Memphis coach J.B. Bickerstaff, who worked for the Rockets from 2011-16, gushed about him. “When we left here we thought he was really good and then somehow, some way he’s gotten even better,” he said. “Last year he was the MVP and now he’s even better and it’s a credit to him, his work ethic and the passion that he plays the game with.” Harden led the league in scoring last season for the first time by averaging 30.43 points a game, but injuries to Chris Paul and Clint Capela have forced him to carry an even bigger load this year and he’s averaging in NBA-best 36.33. If he keeps this pace up for the rest of the season he would be the first player to average more than 36 points a game since Michael Jordan averaged 37.09 in in 1986-87. If the season ended today, Harden would have the seventh-highest scoring average in NBA history behind that season by Jordan, which ranks fifth, and five seasons by Chamberlain. His average is seven points higher than Steph Curry and Anthony Davis, who are tied for second with 29.3 points a game. But as much as Harden is scoring, he’s also finding ways to get his teammates involved, and his 8.2 assists a game are tied for fourth in the league. “I know the attention I draw on the court and the defense is locked on me so I try to help the guys get their opportunities to make it easier for them to score,” Harden said. As Harden has been piling up points, opponents are searching for ways to slow him down. He’s often asked about the different things teams have thrown at him and seems amused at the varying tactics. “I’ve been seeing double teams, triple teams, zones,” he said. “I’ve been seeing it all these past few weeks.” During this streak more than one opposing coach has considered it an accomplishment to limit Harden to less than 40 points. Kenneth Faried, who signed with Houston last week, has had to defend Harden in the past and noted the mindset he had when faced with that task. “He’s going to get 30,” Faried said. “It’s going to happen. So you might as well just mark that down in the book. You’ve just got to make sure he doesn’t get the 60 points.” In the days following his 61-point show at Madison Square Garden, the Beard was asked if he feels like he’s un-guardable right now. “I mean, I’ve always felt like that,” he said with a sly smile and laugh. “So I don’t know about now, but I’ve had that feeling. It’s just confidence. That’s all it is.” Houston went 12-5 in 17 games without Paul, who returned over the weekend. The Rockets have won three straight to improve to 29-20 and are in fifth place in the Western Conference. While they’ve made strides since a terrible start had them near the bottom of the conference, Harden and Houston know they need to get much better if they hope to bring the team its first title since 1995. That, Harden says, is why he doesn’t like all the talk about his high scoring and why those close to him know they shouldn’t discuss it either. “Nobody can praise me,” he said. “None of my friends and close family, I don’t want them to be talking about it. We’ve got a long way to go.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 28th, 2019

Wade s visit brings Carmelo back to Madison Square Garden

NEW YORK (AP) — Dwyane Wade considered ending his NBA career after last season. Carmelo Anthony was one of the people who told him he needed a proper goodbye. On Sunday (Monday, PHL time), Wade’s final lap around the league even brought Anthony back to Madison Square Garden. Anthony sat courtside at his former home to watch Wade help Miami beat the New York Knicks 106-97. “I didn’t know he was coming. I found out before the game. But it meant a lot, man. I am glad,” Wade said. “I talked to him this summer. We went out to dinner and I was contemplating retirement and Melo was one of the ones that was pushing me to come back and he was like, ‘Flash, you can’t go out like that. You got to come back and get that love, that last tour kind of.’ And he was a big part of me making that decision. I am glad he came out (to) see me play in person, you know, maybe for the last time. So it’s cool.” Anthony spent 6.5 seasons with the Knicks before they traded him to Oklahoma City in September 2017. He’s still looking for a team after the Houston Rockets traded him to the Chicago Bulls, who are expected to either trade or waive the 10-time All-Star. Anthony received a loud ovation when he was shown on the overhead videoboard in the first quarter. He told MSG Network it was important to come back and see Wade, who is scheduled for one more game back in the arena in March. “It means a lot because it was very difficult for me to come out of the house and come to an NBA game,” Anthony said, “but if there was one moment that I could come out and be here in this seat it’s to come see him finish it out here in the Garden. ... It’s deeper than basketball when it comes to us.” "This is home. New York is home." Melo talks with @RebeccaHaarlow about being back at The Garden. #NewYorkForever pic.twitter.com/fBuV3FLEfw — MSG Networks (@MSGNetworks) January 28, 2019 Anthony holds the single-game record at the current Garden with 62 points, one more than James Harden scored for Houston last week in a win over the Knicks. The New York native expects to return to the arena as more than a fan in the future. “I’ve had some great years in this building and I look forward to coming back and playing in this building some more,” Anthony said......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 28th, 2019

Nets survive Rockets in OT despite 58 from Harden

By Kristie Rieken, Associated Press HOUSTON (AP) — Spencer Dinwiddie scored 25 of his 33 points in the fourth quarter and overtime and the Brooklyn Nets spoiled James Harden's 58-point night with a 145-142 victory over the Houston Rockets on Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time). Harden had his second straight season high after scoring 57 in a victory over Memphis on Monday night (Tuesday, PHL time), but was only 5-of-19 from three-point range. The Rockets shot an NBA-record 70 triples, making just 23. Harden has scored at least 30 points in 18 straight games and has reached 40 in nine of the last 12. He was 16 of 34 overall from the field, made 21-of-23 free throws and had 10 rebounds and six assists. Dinwiddie forced overtime, making three three-pointers in the last 30 seconds of regulation. In the extra period, he hit the go-ahead basket with 28 seconds left. After Harden made three free throws to give the Rockets a one-point lead, James Nunnally — who signed a 10-day contract Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time) — hit a three-pointer to make it 142-135 with 1:28 left. Treveon Graham made a triple for Brooklyn and Jarrett Allen made a basket but missed a free throw to cut the lead to 142-140. But the Nets grabbed a rebound and Dinwiddie, who had seven points in OT, made a three-point play to put Brooklyn up 143-142. Austin Rivers missed a three for Houston, and Joe Harris made two free throws to make it 145-142 with 1.6 seconds left. Houston had a chance to tie it at the buzzer, but Gerald Green's shot clanged off the rim. The Rockets broke their own record for three-point attempts after shooting 61 against New Orleans on Dec. 16, 2016. Houston also holds the record for most three-pointers made after hitting 26 in a win over Washington this season. Green, who did not attempt a two-point basket, made 5-of-15. The Rockets were up by 11 with about 2.5 minutes left when Brooklyn used a 9-3 run to get to 127-122 with about 30 seconds left. P.J. Tucker made two free throws after that, and Dinwiddie made a triple for Brooklyn with 26.2 seconds remaining to cut it to 128-125. Harden made one of two free throws, and Dinwiddie struck again with another three about five seconds later to get Brooklyn within one. Tucker missed two free throws, but Harden grabbed a rebound with 12.7 seconds left. He made both free throws, and Dinwiddie made a third straight three-pointer to tie it up with 8.4 seconds left. Harden had a chance to win it in regulation, but his three-point attempt bounced off the rim. TIP-INS Nets: Jared Dudley missed his third straight game with a strained left hamstring. ... Shabazz Napier returned after missing one game with tightness in his right hamstring. ... Rondae Hollis-Jefferson returned after sitting out the last seven games with a right adductor strain. Rockets: Eric Gordon had 20 points in his return after missing eight games with a bruised right knee. ... James Ennis missed the game after cutting his left leg in a fall at his house. Coach Mike D'Antoni said he should return for the next game. ... Chris Paul missed his 13th game in a row with a strained left hamstring ... Clint Capela missed his second straight game with an injured right thumb. ... Brandon Knight sat out with a sore left knee. UP NEXT Nets: At Orlando on Friday night (Saturday, PHL time). Rockets: Host Lakers on Saturday night (Sunday, PHL time)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 17th, 2019

Harden eclipses Kobe s scoring streak as Rockets down Grizzlies

MANILA, Philippines – James Harden surpassed Kobe Bryant's record of consecutive 30-point games as the Houston Rockets thwarted the Memphis Grizzlies, 112-94, on Monday, January 14 (Tuesday, January 15, Philippine time).  The reigning Most Valuable Player scorched hot for 57 points for his 17th straight game, with at least 30 ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsJan 15th, 2019

Sweet, and unsweet, 16 for Harden on a wild night in Orlando

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — James Harden had a game for the history books. That's good and bad. Harden scored 38 points Sunday night (Monday, PHL time) in Houston's 116-109 loss in Orlando, marking the 16th consecutive time that he's scored at least 30 or more points — matching Kobe Bryant for the league's longest such streak since the NBA-ABA merger in 1976-77. But Harden also was 1-for-17 from three-point range, tying the league's single-game record for most misses from beyond the arc. "They just didn't go in," Harden shrugged afterward. Damon Stoudamire was 5-for-21 from three-point range for Portland against Golden State on April 15, 2005. Until Sunday (Monday, PHL time), that was the only time a player had missed 16 three's in a game. The NBA's greatest shooters have had awful nights from three-point range — Dennis Scott once went 2-for-17, Ray Allen once went 1-for-14, Stephen Curry has an 0-for-11 game on his resume. Harden went 0-for-11 from deep in Game 5 of last year's Western Conference finals against Golden State, and has been 0-for-10 on three other occasions. Houston coach Mike D'Antoni didn't pin the loss on Harden's shooting. He blamed the Rockets' defense, and Harden concurred. "The problem is, you can't rely on him being superhuman every night," D'Antoni said. "We've got to have some contributions from other guys. I just thought they came in with a lack of focus, particularly on the defensive end." Bryant scored 30 or more in 16 straight games from Jan. 29 through Feb. 28, 2003. If Harden scores at least 30 in his next game — that should be Monday (Tuesday, PHL time) against Memphis, assuming he's in the Rockets' lineup — he would top that mark. The last time an NBA player had a longer streak than that was in the 1963-64 season, when Wilt Chamberlain had 20 straight games scoring 30 or more. "He's such a good scorer," Orlando's Nikola Vucevic said of Harden. "You have to stay aggressive but you can't foul him. He's going to score. You're not going to stop him. He has the ball so much and they run everything for him." Even on a night where he got almost nothing from deep to fall, Harden's scoring average rose. Harden is now averaging 34.2 points per game this season, which puts him on a very exclusive pace. In the last 40 seasons, only Michael Jordan (37.1 points in 1986-87 and 35.0 points in 1987-88) and Bryant (35.4 points in 2005-06) have finished with a higher average than Harden has now. Harden was 15-for-16 from the foul line Sunday (Monday, PHL time). He also finished with 12 assists and nine rebounds. "I thought we did a pretty good job on him," said Orlando's Evan Fournier, who shouldered much of the defensive load against Harden on Sunday night (Monday, PHL time). "And then I looked at the scoreboard and he had 38. He's just unbelievable.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 14th, 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

Best, worst NBA teams for December 2018

By Khari Arnold, NBA.com Just when mock drafts were beginning to list the San Antonio Spurs as a certified lottery team -- something that hasn’t happened in over two decades -- a vigorous December stretch has Gregg Popovich’s squad clicking and back among the top eight in the Western Conference standings. The Spurs struggled severely in November, pairing their below-average offense with the NBA’s worst defense. They finished the month with a 5-10 record and sat 10-12 overall, just in front of the lowly Phoenix Suns. Injuries began to pile up, LaMarcus Aldridge struggled shooting and their ability to win on the road was nonexistent. While the latter issue still hasn’t been fixed, a shift occurred for the Spurs in December. San Antonio finished No. 1 in offensive efficiency during the last month of 2018 and ranked among the top 10 in defensive efficiency. Seeming to have found their rhythm, the Spurs shot a league-high 51.2 percent from the floor in December, boasted the NBA’s best Net Rating and closed the year out winning 10 of their last 13 games. Talk about ending a year on the right track. Here’s a look at the best records, offenses and defenses based on numbers from Dec. 1 to Dec. 31 (Dec. 2-Jan. 1, 2019, PHL time) only. Five best records Indiana Pacers: 12-3 Houston Rockets: 11-4 Milwaukee Bucks: 10-4 San Antonio Spurs: 11-5 Golden State Warriors: 10-5 The Pacers have quietly climbed to third in the Eastern Conference standings, holding the same amount of wins as the first-place Bucks. Five worst records New York Knicks: 2-12 Cleveland Cavaliers: 4-12 Detroit Pistons: 4-11 Phoenix Suns: 5-11 Memphis Grizzlies: 5-10 The sweepstakes for Zion Williamson, who played at Madison Square Garden in December, roll on. Top five offenses (Points scored per 100 possessions) San Antonio Spurs: 116.6 Boston Celtics: 115.5 Houston Rockets: 113.4 New Orleans Pelicans: 112.2 Minnesota Timberwolves: 111.6 While the Spurs are rolling, the hottest team in Texas -- and the NBA for that matter -- is Houston. James Harden is carrying the Rockets offense without Chris Paul at a historic pace. Bottom five offenses Chicago Bulls: 98.7 Orlando Magic: 101.7 Detroit Pistons: 102.4 Memphis Grizzlies 102.7 New York Knicks: 104.6 Dwane Casey's first year in Detroit hasn't gone according to plan -- yet at least. His offense committed the second-most turnovers per game in December. Top five defenses (Points allowed per 100 possessions) Indiana Pacers: 99.6 Utah Jazz: 100.5 Oklahoma City Thunder: 101.7 Milwaukee Bucks: 102.1 Miami Heat: 104.1 The Lakers, who had a top-three Defensive Rating in November, fell out of the top 10. Bottom five defenses Cleveland Cavaliers: 116.9 New York Knicks: 115.9 LA Clippers: 114.3 Atlanta Hawks: 112.6 Phoenix Suns: 112.4 The Clippers' defense is tumbling despite being in the playoff hunt. Top 10 individual scorers (Points per game) James Harden: 36.4 Paul George: 30.8 Anthony Davis: 29.6 Kawhi Leonard: 29.1 Stephen Curry: 28.1 Damian Lillard: 27.1 Bradley Beal: 26.5 Devin Booker: 26.2 Kevin Durant: 26.1 LeBron James: 25.8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 2nd, 2019

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

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 1st, 2019

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

Harden scores 41, Rockets beat Pelicans 108-104

By PETER FINNEY JR.,  Associated Press NEW ORLEANS (AP) — James Harden scored 41 points, becoming the first NBA player since Oscar Robertson to record at least 35 points and five assists in seven consecutive games, to power the Houston Rockets to a 108-104 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday night (Sunday, PHL time). Harden had 26 points in the first half and reached 40 for the third straight game. He was 7 for 16 from 3-point range, made all 14 free throws and added six assists. Anthony Davis looked sluggish a night after scoring a season-high 48 points in a victory over Dallas, taking only five shots in the first half and finishing with 22 points. Julius Randle led the Pelicans with 23 points and 11 rebounds. Houston led 77-76 after three and scored the first seven points of the fourth period, five coming from Danuel House Jr. on a reverse layup and an open 3-pointer. The Rockets extended their lead to 101-86 with 5:57 left, but the Pelicans went on a 13-2 run, with Davis scoring six, to cut the deficit to 103-99. With the Rockets leading 104-101 with 12.6 seconds left, P.J. Tucker, a 56 percent free throw shooter, made both foul shots to ice the victory. Harden torched the Pelicans for 17 points in the first quarter and added nine more in the second as Houston took a 53-50 halftime lead. Harden's 26 first-half points were more than half of the Rockets' scoring. The next closest teammate in scoring was Austin Rivers with eight. The Rockets made 10 3-pointers, six more than the Pelicans, but New Orleans stayed close by pounding the ball inside. The Pelicans closed a 30-20 first-quarter deficit behind the inside play of Randle, who led New Orleans with 16 points and five rebounds in the half. After playing 43 minutes in a 114-112 victory over Dallas on Friday night, Davis scored eight points in 17 first-half minutes. TIP-INS Rockets: Coach Mike D'Antoni said Harden's extra workout regimen is paying dividends nearly halfway through the grind of the regular season. "It doesn't wear him out, it gives him energy," D'Antoni said. "Obviously, it's paying off." . C Clint Capela has averaged 15.0 rebounds in the last nine games. Pelicans: F Darius Miller, held scoreless in a Friday night victory over Dallas, missed the game due to an illness. Solomon Hill started in his place. . Coach Alvin Gentry called Harden "the best 'iso' player in the world. I don't know if anybody is better in the history of this league, really, as far as drawing fouls and making plays in 'iso' situations.." . Despite three separate losing streaks of four, five and six games, Gentry says his players have not "lost faith that we're going to be a good team." UP NEXT: Rockets: Host Memphis on Monday night. Pelicans: Close a three-game homestand on Monday night against Minnesota......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 30th, 2018

NBA s Christmas lineup headlined by LeBron vs Warriors

By Tim Reynolds, Associated Press There’s no NBA Finals rematch this year on Christmas. Not technically, anyway. It’s LeBron James vs. the Golden State Warriors for the fourth consecutive year on Dec. 25 (Dec. 26, PHL time), though James will be wearing a Los Angeles Lakers uniform this time. It was a predictable matchup. It isn’t, however, a break from tradition. That’s one of the biggest misnomers about the NBA and the schedule. An NBA Finals rematch is not common, not the norm, not a guarantee for the last two teams that were standing the previous season. The league has crowned a champion every year since 1947, and the tradition of Christmas Day games started later that same year. (They’ve been an annual fixture since, with the exception of 1998, when a lockout didn’t allow that season to begin until February.) But there have been only nine NBA Finals rematches on Dec. 25 (Dec. 26, PHL time). The recent Golden State-Cleveland history may make it seem like more. James has been in five Finals rematches on Christmas, all since 2011: Miami vs. Dallas that year, Oklahoma City vs. Miami the following year, and Cleveland vs. Golden State in each of the last three years. The other four rematches on the holiday: Orlando vs. Houston in 1995, Philadelphia vs. the Lakers in 2001, San Antonio vs. Detroit in 2005 and Boston vs. the Lakers in 2008. So instead of a Cavs-Warriors rematch, getting Lakers vs. Warriors — for the first time in the LeBron L.A. era — makes perfect sense. “Bron is Bron,” Warriors forward Draymond Green said. “They’re going to be tough, a tough matchup on Christmas Day, but we’re looking forward to it.” Inevitably, so will James. Even with the Lakers having lost four of their last six games, they’re off to a 19-14 start — their best since the 2011-12 season. “We’ve got a long way to go to get to Golden State,” James said in September. He’s about to get his first look at how the Lakers measure up with the champs. CHRISTMAS LINEUP Tuesday’s (Wednesday, PHL time) slate starts with Milwaukee at New York, followed by Oklahoma City at Houston, Philadelphia at Boston, the Lakers at the Warriors and then Portland at Utah. It’s Milwaukee’s first Christmas game since 1977, which will end what was by far the league’s longest Dec. 25 (Dec. 26, PHL time) drought. Utah hasn’t played on Christmas since 1997. A look at each of the five games: BUCKS AT KNICKS Congratulations to the schedule-makers, because there’s no way they could have known this Christmas game would be wrapped in animus. Giannis Antetokounmpo was peeved at New York forward Mario Hezonja — who dunked on him, stared at him and then stepped over him when the teams last met on Dec. 1 (Dec. 2, PHL time). THUNDER AT ROCKETS A rematch of a game from Christmas 2017, which the Thunder won 112-107. Oklahoma City is 6-2 on Christmas since the team moved there; when the franchise was in Seattle, it was 0-11 on the holiday. Rockets star Chris Paul will miss Christmas for the third straight year — with the Clippers, he had a left hamstring strain and missed their game with the Lakers in 2016, sat out last year’s Houston-OKC game with a groin strain and this year, it’s another left hamstring issue that will keep him out. 76ERS AT CELTICS These are heated, historic rivals, but they’ve met on Christmas only once before — in 1961, when the 76ers were the Syracuse Nationals. Boston, which famously avoided home Christmas games forever (the Celtics played their first 30 such games away from Boston), will be at home on the holiday for the second consecutive season. LAKERS AT WARRIORS It’s the 20th consecutive Christmas appearance for the Lakers, and with LeBron James there now don’t expect that streak to end anytime soon. Warriors star Kevin Durant apparently loves playing on the holiday; he’s averaging 31.1 points in his eight previous Christmas games. TRAIL BLAZERS AT JAZZ Portland is 14-3 all-time on Christmas, and could tie Miami (10-2) for the best winning percentage on the holiday if it tops the Jazz. Meanwhile, for Utah, it’s a chance for Jazz star guard Donovan Mitchell to get his first — but almost certainly not his last — look at playing on Christmas. CHRISTMAS HISTORY The NBA’s five-game Christmas lineup is back for an 11th consecutive year, and that may seem like a lot of matchups but has been exceeded plenty of times in the past. There were seven games on the holiday in 1949, 1971 and 1977, as well as six in 1970 and 1976. And there were some years where everybody played on Christmas. In 1952, the league had 10 teams so that meant five Christmas games. In 1956, the league’s eight teams got together for two Christmas doubleheaders — two games at Madison Square Garden, two others at the War Memorial in Rochester, New York. And in 1959, eight teams meant four games on the holiday again. With Milwaukee playing, the league’s longest Christmas drought will belong to the Atlanta Hawks, who haven’t appeared on the holiday since 1989. After the Hawks, the longest droughts will be held by Charlotte (no appearances in 29 seasons), Memphis (no appearances in 24 seasons), Toronto (2001), Sacramento (2003), Indiana (2004) and Detroit (2005). Everyone else has played at least one Christmas game since 2009. YEAR OF THE 3 Houston set the NBA record for three-pointers made in a game with 26, doing that against Washington last week. It cemented that, without question, 2018 in the NBA was the year of the three-pointer. So far this season, 11 franchises — Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, Golden State, Houston, Milwaukee, Minnesota, New Orleans, New York, Sacramento and Utah — have set or tied team records for three-pointers made in a regular-season game. That doesn’t even take into account Brooklyn, Chicago, Denver, Detroit, Oklahoma City and Philadelphia also doing it in 2018, albeit last season. Maybe the craze hasn’t caught on in Canada. The longest-standing team record for three's in a game is held by the Toronto Raptors, who made 21 on March 13, 2005. Orlando’s mark of 23 has stuck since Jan. 13, 2009 and Phoenix’s record of 22 came on Nov. 14, 2010. Meanwhile, Zaza Pachulia’s quest for a three continues. Pachulia has the NBA record for most three's attempted in a career without a make — the Detroit backup center is now 0-for-29 in the regular season, 0-for-31 when including playoffs. He’s 0-for-3 in 2018, though all those tries in this calendar year were desperation heaves from midcourt or deeper. And in fairness, only six of his career three-point tries have been shots inside of 30 feet......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 24th, 2018

WATCH: Heat snap Rockets 5-game winning streak

LOS ANGELES, USA – The Miami Heat snapped Houston's five-game NBA winning streak with a 101-99 victory on Thursday, December 20, in a game that saw Rockets point guard Chris Paul injured again. The Rockets, coming off an 18-point victory over Washington on Wednesday in which they set a single-game record ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsDec 21st, 2018

Houston Rockets nab 3-point record in rout of Washington

LOS ANGELES, USA – The Houston Rockets set an NBA single-game record with 26 three-pointers on Wednesday, December 19, in a 136-118 rout of the Washington Wizards. The crowd at Houston's Toyota Center was chanting "One more three! One more three!" when Michael Carter-Williams drained the record-breaker from beyond the arc ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsDec 20th, 2018

Harden s 43 points leads Rockets over Pistons 126-124

By Kristie Rieken, Associated Press HOUSTON (AP) — James Harden scored a season-high 43 points and Clint Capela added 27 as the Houston Rockets held off the Detroit Pistons to get their fifth straight win, 126-124 on Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time). Houston has won eight of its last 10 after winning just one of its first six games and improved to 9-7 this season. The Rockets led by 14 with about five minutes left, but Blake Griffin made five three-pointers that helped Detroit cut the lead to four points with about 90 seconds left. Houston struggled to contain Griffin late after defensive stopper P.J. Tucker was ejected in the third quarter after he received two technical fouls for arguing with officials. But Griffin had a turnover and a charge after his fifth triple and Harden, who made all 19 of his free throw attempts, made two free throws to make it 122-116 with 19.1 seconds left. Ish Smith added a three-pointer to cut the lead to three points with 9.6 seconds left, but Harden made two more free throws. Griffin was fouled on a three-point attempt with 3.6 seconds remaining and made the first two free throws before missing the third. It was Harden at the line again after that, and he made both shots before Smith made a triple at the buzzer. Griffin led the Pistons with 37 points and 11 rebounds Andre Drummond added 20 points with 11 rebounds for the Pistons. Detroit used a run to cut Houston's lead to six points with about six minutes left before the Rockets scored the next eight points, with six from Harden to make it 113-99 about a minute later. But Griffin made three three-pointers, with the first two on consecutive possessions, to fuel a 9-2 run that got Detroit within 115-108 with 3.5 minutes left. James Ennis made a three-pointer for Houston after that, but Griffin scored the next five points, with another three-pointer to cut the lead to 118-113 with about two minutes left. Harden added a basket on a goaltending call, but Griffin made yet another triple to make it 120-116 before his late errors. The Rockets scored the first seven points of the third quarter to make it make it 65-57. But Detroit scored the next eight points, with three's by Reggie Jackson and Langston Galloway to tie it a couple of minutes later. Houston went on another run after that, outscoring Detroit 9-2, to take a 76-67 lead midway through the quarter. Harden got the Rockets going in that span with a three-pointer and Clint Capela capped it with four straight points. The Rockets were up 81-73 later in the third when Tucker got hit by Griffin on a screen and began complaining to an official. He received a technical foul, but that didn't stop him from continuing to get in the officials' face and yell at him, drawing a second technical and an ejection. The Pistons made both free throws from the technical but the Rockets scored the next five points, with a triple from Gerald Green, to make it 86-75 with about four minutes left in the quarter. TIP-INS Pistons: Detroit made 16 three-pointers to give the team at least 10 in seven straight games, a franchise record. ... Luke Kennard missed his 11th game with a sprained right shoulder and coach Dwane Casey said that he hasn't been cleared for contact drills and will still be out for a while. Rockets: Capela received a technical foul in the third quarter for hanging on the rim after a dunk. ... Chris Paul added 20 points with seven assists. UP NEXT Pistons: Host Houston on Friday night (Saturday, PHL time). Rockets: Visit Detroit on Friday night (Saturday, PHL time)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 22nd, 2018

Drama, the long ball center of early season NBA intrigue

By Kyle Hightower, Associated Press There has been some early tinkering to lineups, a few hiccups and lots of drama to start the NBA season. None of the league’s final four teams from last season — Boston, Cleveland, Houston, Golden State — look like locks to hoist the Larry O’Brien Trophy this time. The addition of Carmelo Anthony to the Rockets’ roster produced more thorns than fruit, and now he is out. In Boston, the Celtics are having early trouble trying to figure out how best to use their overflowing mix of young and veteran talent following the return of Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward from injuries. And Cleveland has gotten off to a predictable slow start to the post-LeBron James’ era, but few expected the total collapse by the Cavaliers. However, there is no drama like championship drama and the defending champion Warriors suddenly look more like the cast of a reality series than a harmonious lineup rolling along and vying for a third straight championship. Draymond’s Green public outburst at Kevin Durant during the Warriors’ overtime loss to the Clippers on Nov. 12 lingers. Now there is tension on a team that has managed to remain mostly drama-free during its run. Durant’s impending free agency, Green’s lack of an apology, and Steph Curry’s injury has opened a window for teams. Some of the NBA’s most recent mini-dynasties have dissipated because of infighting. Squabbling between Michael Jordan and Chicago Bulls management at least contributed to their decline after Jordan’s second three-peat and subsequent second retirement in 1999. Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal couldn’t coexist long enough to extend the Los Angeles Lakers’ run of three straight titles from 2000 to 2002. Green has vowed the Warriors will still be there in the end. That remains to be seen. 3'S COMPANY Little guys doing work outside and big men camped out close to the basket is an old-school approach to basketball that’s starting to look as old as James Naismith’s original peach baskets. The NBA needs to send out thank-you cards to the ABA. Everyone digs the long ball. Next year will mark the 40th anniversary of the adoption of the 3-point shot in the league. Over those four decades it’s gone from being one of the handful of innovations carried over from the ABA to a necessity for any player — from guards to seven-footers — wanting to have longevity in the league. During the 2012-13 season, 33 NBA players listed at 6'8" or taller averaged at least one three-point attempt. That number grew to 124 last season. The 2018-19 season is barely two months old, but two teams (Boston and Golden State) have already logged 24 made three-pointers in a game. The record of 25 was set late last season by Cleveland. And in case anyone needed a reminder of the shot’s increased popularity, look no further than Milwaukee’s Brook Lopez. He became the third seven-footer in NBA history to hit eight three-pointers in a game when he did it against Denver last week. “You see the way the game’s trending, it’s definitely moving in that direction,” Lopez said. “I’m just trying to be professional, do my job, try to get my work in. I want to be as good as I can in every possible area of the game.” Lopez said Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer has been supportive of him stepping out beyond the arc. “Regardless if I miss, if I have off-games where I don’t shoot as well, they just tell me” to keep shooting, Lopez said. Other veteran big men around the league are hearing similar refrains. THE WEEK AHEAD — San Antonio at New Orleans, Monday (Tuesday, PHL time): DeMar DeRozan had 26 points and LaMarcus Aldridge added 22 points and 12 rebounds during the Spurs’ win in San Antonio earlier this month. The Pelicans look to return the favor after recovering nicely from a six-game losing skid. — Los Angeles Lakers at Cleveland, Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time): In a pre-Turkey Day appetizer, LeBron James returns to face Cleveland for the first time this season following his free agency departure to L.A. — New Orleans at Philadelphia, Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time): The Pelicans get their first crack at the new-look 76ers following their acquisition of Jimmy Butler. — Portland at Golden State, Friday (Saturday, PHL time): The Warriors get a look at one of their chief challengers in the West when they meet the Blazers for the first time this season. ___ AP Sports Writer Genaro Armas in Milwaukee contributed to this report......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 19th, 2018

Threeforall: Bucks become latest team to set a 3-point mark

By Tim Reynolds, Associated Press The best 3-point shooter who ever lived, at least in terms of volume, is Ray Allen. Boston used to have him. Milwaukee used to have him. And he doesn’t figure into either franchise’s greatest single-game 3-point barrage. With NBA records being set from 3-point range this season — Golden State’s Klay Thompson has already busted the mark for 3s in a game with 14, one more than the standard his fellow Warriors sharpshooter Stephen Curry established in 2016, the league is well on its way to making more shots from beyond the arc than ever before. The record, set last season, is 25,807. The NBA is on pace this season to make about 27,300 shots from 3-point land. Now, not even three full weeks into this season, five teams have broken their own franchise record for 3s in a game. The most recent entry into that club was Milwaukee, which connected on 22 3s — on 56 tries, as opposed to 39 from inside the arc — in its 144-109 win over Sacramento on Sunday (Monday, PHL time). The Bucks used 13 players, with everyone trying at least one shot from 3-point range and 11 connecting on at least one triple. It was the second time this season the Bucks tried more 3s than 2s. Number of times in Bucks history that happened before this season? Zero. “We’ll just hopefully keep pushing that record, whatever it is,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “See if we can get more. ... Good for us to know that we’re pushing that envelope and we want to be great behind that 3-point line.” The Bucks aren’t alone in their quest for 3-point greatness. Boston, which has had 3-point stars like Larry Bird, Paul Pierce, Antoine Walker and Allen in its rich history, made a team-record 24 3-pointers last week against the Bucks. The Celtics came into this season with 19 3s in a game being their franchise mark; they’ve made 19 or more twice already this season. “We took what the defense gave us,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said after the barrage of 24 3s. Fueled by Thompson’s 14 3s in Chicago, the Warriors set a team record that night with 24 makes from deep. Atlanta set a team mark with 22 3-pointers against Cleveland, and Utah connected on its record of 19 in a loss to Golden State. “This is the NBA right now,” Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said. Curry is shooting more 3s per game than ever, making more 3s per game than ever — and doing it more accurately than ever. He’s already made 59 3s through the Warriors’ first 10 games, and is shooting 51 percent from deep. Curry is fifth all-time in 3-pointers made with 2,188. Allen is the record-holder with 2,973, a mark Curry is on pace to get in about two years. MUST GET 100 In this NBA, if a team doesn’t score 100 points, they’re not winning. Then again, getting to 100 doesn’t guarantee anything either. Teams that score 100 points or more are 134-99 this season, meaning they win 57.5 percent of the time. Those who don’t score 100 are 5-40, or winning 11.1 percent of the time. That’s a big change from recent years. Last season, teams over 100 won 62.2 percent of the time, and teams that didn’t score 100 won 20.8 percent of the time. A decade ago, those scoring 100 won at a 69.4 percent clip, and those not reaching the century mark won 30.8 percent of the time. THE WEEK AHEAD A six-pack of games to watch this week ... — Minnesota at L.A. Clippers, Monday (Tuesday, PHL time): Jimmy Butler had the Clippers among those on his radar when this trade saga started. — Philadelphia at Indiana, Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time): Joel Embiid’s numbers are fantastic, but Myles Turner is another great young big guy. — Milwaukee at Golden State, Thursday (Friday, PHL time): Bucks have been one of the season’s top early stories, and now get the ultimate test. — Boston at Utah, Friday (Saturday, PHL time): This will be Gordon Hayward’s 262nd time playing in Salt Lake City, and his first in a Celtics uniform. — Houston at San Antonio, Saturday (Sunday, PHL time): Spurs are 14-7 in last 21 with Rockets, and the teams play three times before Christmas. — Atlanta at L.A. Lakers, Sunday (next Monday, PHL time): Hawks rookie Kevin Huerter was LeBron James’ scrimmage teammate at a Nike camp in 2015. ON THE MOVE Now that the Tyson Chandler buyout by the Phoenix Suns has been completed, he’s expected to be on the Los Angeles Lakers’ roster later this week once he clears waivers. Portland coach Terry Stotts, who was a Dallas assistant when Chandler was with the Mavericks, said it’ll be a good move for the Lakers. “I like Tyson Chandler,” Stotts said. “Great teammate, obviously that was a few years ago but he impacts the game at the defensive end. He’s a great locker room guy. ... He’s all about winning. So, any team that has Tyson is going to be better for it.” ___ AP Sports Writer Anne M. Peterson in Portland, Oregon contributed......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 5th, 2018

MVP Ladder: Hot start pushes Curry to forefront

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 3rd, 2018