Richardson’s career night lifts Heat past Hornets, 105-10

MIAMI (AP) — Josh Richardson scored a career-high 27 points, Dion Waiters added 19 and the Miami Heat shook off a horrendous start to beat the Charlotte Hornets 105-100 on Friday night. The Heat went on a 9-0 run in the final moments to decide things, with a 3-pointer by Waiters with 1:09 left for a 102-96 lead being perhaps the shot of all for Miami. Wayne Ellington scored 14 points, Tyler Johnson added 12 and Kelly Olynyk had 10 for Miami, which snapped a two-game slide. Marvin Williams scored 16 points for Charlotte, which lost despite having seven players in double figures. Nicolas Batum had 13, while Michael Carter-Williams, Jeremy Lamb and Cody Zeller each had 12. Charlotte fell to 1-10 on the road. Goran Dragic’s basket with 2:30 left put the Heat up for good at 97-96, and the Heat pulled just far enough away after a drive by James Johnson, the Waiters 3-pointer from near the Charlotte bench and Richardson’s final field goal of the night. Both teams were missing key players. Charlotte’s Kemba Walker sat for a second straight game with a left shoulder contusion, and Miami’s Hassan Whiteside is expected to miss two weeks or more with his second left knee bone bruise of the season. The Heat were coming off blowout losses at Cleveland and New York, and thought returning home would provide a spark. It did not — at least, not right away. Miami missed its first 11 shots, six of them coming from 4 feet or closer, and got into a 16-1 deficit before the game was 5 1/2 minutes old. The Heat chipped away, got within 30-22 to end the quarter and grabbed the lead for the first time when Richardson got a steal and dunk for a 44-43 edge with 2:43 left in the half. From there, it went back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. Neither team led by more than four until Miami’s burst in the final 2 minutes. Charlotte’s biggest lead in the second half was four, and that lasted for 23 seconds of the third quarter. The Heat took a four-point lead late in the third, and that lasted for 41 seconds......»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnDec 2nd, 2017

Wade hurt, but Heat roll past Wizards 129-102

By TIM REYNOLDS ,  AP Basketball Writer MIAMI (AP) — An easy win still presented the Miami Heat with some potential issues. James Johnson scored 20 points on 8-for-9 shooting, the Heat piled up 76 points in the paint and rolled past the Washington Wizards 129-102 on Saturday night. Miami's starting five shot 77 percent, with Johnson and Josh Richardson — the Heat starting forwards — connecting on a combined 14 of their 15 shots. "We were very detail-oriented," Johnson said. But the postgame mood was at least somewhat tempered by injury concerns. Dwyane Wade left early in the fourth with a mild hamstring strain, and doesn't expect to play on Monday when the Heat start a three-game road trip in Portland. Justise Winslow left the floor with the final seconds running off the clock after appearing to have some sort of problem with his right knee, but the Heat believe he's fine. And those were preceded by Hassan Whiteside being unable to play at all because of hip soreness. "I won't be in the lineup against Portland," said Wade, who described the strain as feeling like a slight cramp that wouldn't go away. "I can probably guarantee that. I'll have time to get treatment, take it day-to-day and see when I can get back. Hopefully I'm not out too long. These things suck, no question about it." Wayne Ellington scored 17 for Miami. Kelly Olynyk had 13 points and 11 rebounds, while Tyler Johnson, Rodney McGruder and Richardson all scored 13 for the Heat, who never trailed and outscored Washington 43-28 in the third. That was Miami's highest-scoring quarter in a regular-season contest since Oct. 30, 2013 — 394 games ago. "Our depth, and multiple guys being able to contribute, is the strength of our team," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. Jodie Meeks scored 23 for the Wizards, whose five-game winning streak was snapped. Bradley Beal scored 14 for Washington, which needed overtime to beat Miami on the second night of a Heat back-to-back earlier in the week and was coming in off a win Friday at New Orleans. "It's definitely embarrassing," Meeks said. "There's no excuses for being tired." Washington was within two points at 46-44 with 3:51 left in the second quarter, and from there it was all Heat. Over the next 16 minutes, Miami outscored the Wizards 71-35. "I'm disappointed," Wizards coach Scott Brooks said. "I'm disappointed in myself. I'm disappointed in our guys. ... Not too many guys in the history of this game can go out and play the way we did tonight and have success. It's not acceptable." It was Miami's 11th consecutive game scoring at least 100 points, tying the third-longest such streak in team history. Miami (36-31) carved out a split of the four-game season series with Washington, plus got within two games of the Wizards (38-29) in the Eastern Conference playoff race. A loss on Saturday and the Heat's chances of catching the Wizards would have taken a serious hit — since they would have been four games down and with no hope of winning a tiebreaker. "Everybody's on the same page," said Heat guard Goran Dragic, who scored 10 points and was one of eight Miami players in double figures. "Every night, somebody else is going to have a big scoring. It's awesome to have this kind of rotation." TIP-INS Wizards: Washington plays only three games in the next 10 days, and two of those are on a back-to-back. ... The Wizards waved the white flag in the third, and both benches were emptied for the fourth. Heat: Richardson now has 890 points this season, which is 10 more than he had in his first two seasons combined. ... Miami's only longer streaks of scoring 100 points were a 14-game run in 1994, and a 12-game streak last season. The Heat also had an 11-game streak in 2016. ... The Heat were averaging 100.4 points before Wade returned. In his 12 games back, they've averaged 111.5 per game. WADE MILESTONE Wade's first basket of the night was the 8,000th of his career. He's also now six points shy of 22,000. GRINDING Washington is now eight games through a stretch of 13 consecutive games against teams with winning records — all without All-Star guard John Wall. The Wizards are now 4-4 in those games, and won't face a sub-.500 team again until hosting New York on March 25. UP NEXT Wizards: Host Minnesota on Tuesday. Heat: Visit Portland on Monday......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 11th, 2018

Prolific Davis lifts Pelicans past Heat in OT

NEW ORLEANS ---Anthony Davishad 45 points, 17 rebounds, five blocked shots and five steals, and theNew Orleans Pelicansbeat theMiami Heat124-123 in overtime Friday night for their fourth consecutive victory. Goran Dragicscored 30 points andDwyane Wadehit two runners to give the Heat the lead twice in the last 36 seconds of overtime, but Davis responded to the first with a layup as he was fouled, andJrue Holidayanswered the second with a runner in the lane with 7 seconds left. Wade had one last shot for the win with Holiday defending him closely. It bounced off the rim toJosh Richardson, whose rushed put-back missed the basket as time expired in Miami's third straight loss. Davis, wh...Keep on reading: Prolific Davis lifts Pelicans past Heat in OT.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsFeb 24th, 2018

Olynyk’s big night helps Heat past Knicks

MIAMI --- A big lead was slipping away, so the Miami Heat called upon their best offensive option: The 3-point shot. Just like that, the rout resumed. Tyler Johnson hit back-to-back 3-pointers in the third quarter to spark the run that put Miami in control for good, Kelly Olynyk finished with 22 points and a career-high 10 assists and the Heat rolled past the New York Knicks 119-98 on Wednesday night. Miami was 5 for 7 from 3-point range in the third, 15 for 34 from beyond the arc for the game, and is now only three makes away from the franchise record of 808 set last season. "They're shooting the right ones," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "I get that analytics questi...Keep on reading: Olynyk’s big night helps Heat past Knicks.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated News5 hr. 52 min. ago

Dragic lifts Heat past Lakers 92-91

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Goran Dragic scored 30 points, including a go-ahead jumper in the final seconds, and the Miami Heat beat the Los Angeles Lakers 92-91 on Friday night (Saturday, PHL time). Miami trailed 91-90 after Kyle Kuzma made a three-pointer for Los Angeles with 1:23 left. But Dragic got the lead back for the Heat with about 15 seconds remaining and Isaiah Thomas missed a 10-foot fallaway jumper at the buzzer for the Lakers. Kelly Olynyk scored 17 points for Miami. James Johnson had 12 points, and Bam Adebayo added 11 points and eight rebounds. The road win left the Heat 15.5 games back in the Eastern Conference, in a virtual tie with Milwaukee for seventh. Miami (37-33) has played two more games than the Bucks. Julius Randle led the Lakers with 25 points and 12 rebounds. Brook Lopez added 18 points, and Kuzma and Travis Wear each had 11. Thomas went 1-for-9 from the field. The Lakers (31-38) led 79-78 when the Heat ramped up their defense during a 10-2 run. The Lakers went almost 4.5 minutes without a field goal. TIP-INS Heat: With G Dwyane Wade out for a third consecutive game with a sore left hamstring, Miami recalled Derrick Jones Jr. from its G-League affiliate. He has three days of eligibility on his two-way contract and the development league season ends March 24 (Mar. 25, PHL time), so he could remain with the Heat for the duration of the season. ... Miami had lost six straight road games. Lakers: Kuzma returned after missing the previous game with a sore ankle. ... Lopez was a game-time decision with back tightness. ... F Brandon Ingram, who has missed the last eight games with a sore groin, has been updated to day to day. UP NEXT Heat: Return home to play Denver on Monday (Tuesday, PHL time). Lakers: Begin a four-game road trip Monday (Tuesday, PHL time) in Indiana......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 17th, 2018

Venus, Halep win, Wozniacki upset at Indian Wells

By Beth Harris, Associated Press INDIAN WELLS, Calif. (AP) — Venus Williams defeated Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia 7-6 (8), 6-4 to reach the quarterfinals of the BNP Paribas Open on Tuesday as the oldest woman in the draw. The 37-year-old American was coming off a straight-set victory over younger sister Serena a night earlier, ending a three-match skid against her sibling. "It was a quick turnaround from last night when it feels like, 'Hey, this is a final to you're only in the fourth round,'" Williams said on court. Playing under cloudy skies in 80-degree heat, Williams had her hands full with Sevastova, who used drop shots, top spin, lobs and jerked her 10-years-older opponent side to side. "There were some points where she just played and it was too good," Williams said. "I thought I was in control of the point and winning the point, and she turned it around. It's just real talent." After early losses in her first two tournaments of the year, Williams hasn't dropped a set at Indian Wells, where she has yet to reach the final in six previous appearances. Awaiting Williams in the quarterfinals is 27th-seeded Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain, who beat American wild card Danielle Collins 6-2, 6-4. Simona Halep is on track to retain her No. 1 world ranking after defeating Wang Qiang of China 7-5, 6-1 in the fourth round. Halep is the only former Indian Wells winner left in the women's draw after No. 20 Daria Kasatkina upset No. 2 Caroline Wozniacki 6-4, 7-5. Wozniacki blew a 3-0 lead in the first set and was on the run most of the match before losing for the second time this year to the 20-year-old Russian. "She outsmarted me," Wozniacki said. By reaching the quarterfinals, Kasatkina is projected to surpass her career-best ranking of 17th. She has beaten all four current Grand Slam titleholders in the past year, including U.S. Open winner Sloane Stephens in straight sets this week. "I'm playing best matches against the best players," Kasatkina said. "But as I say, if you want to be on the top, you have to beat the top players. So quite simple rule." Halep improved to 17-1 this year and needs only to reach the final to stay at the top. Next up for Halep is Petra Martic of Croatia, who beat Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic 6-3, 7-6 (4). American teenager Amanda Anisimova's run of success ended in a 6-1, 7-6 (2) loss to No. 5 seed Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic. Anisimova, a 16-year-old wild card, won her first three WTA Tour matches at Indian Wells, beating Pauline Parmentier, No. 23 seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and two-time Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova without dropping a set. "She's 16, so she's not scared," Pliskova said of Anisimova. "You can see she's hitting the ball without thinking. But everybody is playing like this when they are 16. I think this will change a little bit in the future, but for sure the game is good and not really any weakness. I think everything is pretty solid." Pliskova faces a quarterfinal against Naomi Osaka, who beat Maria Sakkari of Greece 6-1, 5-7, 6-1. Halep attended Venus Williams' straight-set victory over 36-year-old sister and new mother Serena on Monday night. "I love the way that they are motivated and they are still playing at this age, Serena with the kid," Halep said. "It's a great thing what they do for sport, and it's great that tennis has them. I have many things to learn from them. That's why I'm trying just to go in to watch every time I can." On the men's side, Gael Monfils retired in the second set with a back injury trailing fellow Frenchman Pierre-Hughes Herbert 6-2, 3-1. Monfils used an eight-minute injury timeout in the second set to get his back worked on before returning to the court and getting broken in fourth game. He then walked to the net and ended the match. Herbert moved on to a fourth-round matchup with Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany, who upset No. 2 seed Marin Cilic 6-4, 6-4. Cilic won 19 of 23 points on his first serve, but failed to convert four break points against 31st-seeded Kohlschreiber, who snapped a 12-match skid against top-10 opponents. Herbert remains in contention for the $1 million bonus offered to a player who sweeps the singles and doubles titles. No. 6 Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina defeated No. 29 David Ferrer of Spain 6-4, 7-6 (3) for the fifth straight time. With Cilic, Ferrer, Novak Djokovic, Monfils and John Isner all eliminated from his quarter of the draw, things are looking wide open for del Potro, the 2009 U.S. Open champion. Top-ranked Roger Federer and del Potro are the highest seeds remaining. "I'm not thinking about that. I just want to keep winning," del Potro said. "Still far away from the final, but of course, any chance to play with Roger would be great." Del Potro's countryman, Leonardo Mayer, beat Japanese qualifier Taro Daniel 6-4, 6-1. Mayer next plays del Potro. No. 18 Sam Querrey rallied past Indian qualifier Yuki Bhambri 6-7 (7), 6-4, 6-4 and will play No. 28 Feliciano Lopez of Spain. He spoiled a potential all-American quarterfinal by beating No. 8 Jack Sock 7-6 (8), 4-6, 6-4. No. 32 Milos Raonic of Canada defeated Joao Sousa of Portugal 7-5, 4-6, 6-2 and will meet Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus, who beat lucky loser Dudi Sela of Israel 7-6 (7), 6-4......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 14th, 2018

Whiteside, Wade carry Heat past 76ers, 108-99

By Tim Reynolds, Associated Press MIAMI (AP) — Hassan Whiteside scored 26 points, Dwyane Wade added 16 and the Miami Heat moved a step closer to the playoffs by beating the Philadelphia 76ers 108-99 on Thursday night (Friday, PHL time). Josh Richardson scored 13 points, Tyler Johnson had 12 and Kelly Olynyk added 10 to help the Heat stay No. 7 in the Eastern Conference and move within a game of No. 6 Philadelphia. Dario Saric had 20 points and 10 rebounds for the 76ers, who got 19 points from JJ Redick and 17 from Joel Embiid. Marco Belinelli added 14. It came down to the fourth — Miami shot 13-for-18, Philadelphia 7-for-22. And in the end, the Heat and 76ers split their four meetings this season. Combined score: Heat 409, 76ers 407. The Heat used 10 players — all 10 scored, all 10 had at least two rebounds, and eight of the 10 had at least two assists. Miami controlled the fourth and led by 11 with 2:01 left, before the 76ers had one last gasp. Redick was fouled by Whiteside before an inbounds pass came in, giving him one free throw. Redick added a jumper on the ensuing possession, and after a stop Belinelli connected on a three-pointer — and just like that, after six points in 37 seconds, Miami's lead was 101-96. The drama essentially ended there. Whiteside made two foul shots, and Wade slammed home a lob from Richardson with 50.6 seconds left for a nine-point edge. Embiid banked in a three from the wing to get Philly within six, but the outcome wasn't in doubt again. Miami was up 12 late in the first half, before Redick willed the 76ers right back into things. He was 3-for-3 from three-point range in the final 2:42 of the half, helping Philadelphia get within two late before Wade made a spinning jumper with one second left that sent Miami into the break with a 53-49 lead. No separation was to be had in the third quarter, either. Miami led by four early, Philadelphia led by five twice — both times after three-pointers by Belinelli — and the 76ers wound up leading 74-73 going into the fourth. TIP-INS 76ers: Robert Covington missed all 10 of his shots. In the last 50 years, only two 76ers have gone 0-for-11 in a game — one of them being Covington, on Dec. 29, 2016. The other was Evan Turner, in 2013. ... Embiid's 5-for-17 night was his second-worst shooting effort of the season. His previous low was a 4-for-16 game against Boston on Oct. 20. ... Heat: Miami's one player from Philadelphia — Dion Waiters — missed all four Heat-76ers games this season because of his ankle surgery. Waiters got his cast removed earlier this week. ... Wade is 23-4 in home games against Philadelphia. ... Whiteside made 9 of his 12 shots. SWING GAMES Double-digit leads have meant almost nothing in this Heat-76ers season series. Miami let an early 12-point lead get away Thursday (Friday, PHL time) — and that was no big deal compared to what happened in the first three matchups. Philadelphia won a game where Miami led by 24, the Heat won a game where they trailed by 13, and the 76ers had to scramble to win a game by six — after seeing a 28-point lead cut to four later. EASY FINISH The 76ers have 18 games left, and at least 13 will be against opponents who aren't in the playoff picture. They still face Brooklyn three times, New York and Atlanta twice. And they have only seven road games remaining — zero against teams with winning records. UP NEXT 76ers: At Brooklyn on Sunday (Monday, PHL time). Heat: Host Washington on Saturday (Sunday, PHL time)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 9th, 2018

Rubio, Hood lead Jazz over Grizzlies 92-88 for 7th straight

By Clay Bailey, Associted Press MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Ricky Rubio had 29 points and eight rebounds, Rodney Hood scored 18 and the Utah Jazz beat the Memphis Grizzlies 92-88 on Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time) for their seventh straight victory. Utah's latest win was hardly indicative of its recent play on offense. During the streak, the Jazz had averaged almost 118 points and 52 percent shooting. They made only 42 percent of their shots against Memphis. Andrew Harrison led the Grizzlies with a career-high 23 points, and Marc Gasol scored 20. JaMychal Green and Dillon Brooks added 11 apiece as Memphis lost its fifth straight. Utah led by 11 in the fourth quarter, but Memphis cut it to 80-74 midway through the period. Utah never let Memphis get any closer. Mario Chalmers made a three-pointer as the horn sounded for the final margin. After a ragged first half, the Jazz held a 44-39 lead at the break. Both teams had committed 11 turnovers by halftime, and neither was shooting above 40 percent. Rubio had 16 points at the half, while Gasol scored 13 for Memphis. Utah maintained a 68-63 lead entering the fourth, as both teams continued to struggle from the field. Both teams ended the night shooting 42 percent. The Jazz committed 20 turnovers, while Memphis had 16. TIP-INS Jazz: Royce O'Neal, the rookie from Baylor, missed his first three-pointer, ending a streak of converting five straight from outside the arc over the past two games. ... Rubio had his 36th game in double figures. ... Rudy Gobert had 12 rebounds and two blocks. Grizzlies: Memphis snapped a string of nine straight games allowing at least 100 points. ... Interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff was ejected in the fourth quarter after drawing his second technical foul — both courtesy of official Marc Davis. ... Davis also ejected Brooks in the closing minutes. ... Gasol had three blocks and five assists. UP NEXT Jazz: Host the Charlotte Hornets on Friday (Saturday, PHL time). Grizzlies: Travel to Oklahoma City to face the Thunder on Sunday (Monday, PHL time)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 8th, 2018

Olynyk s late FT helps Heat stun Hornets 106-105

STEVE REED, AP Sports Writer CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Kelly Olynyk scored 14 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter, including a free throw with 0.2 seconds left, to help the Miami Heat erase a five-point deficit in the final 34 seconds and stun the Charlotte Hornets 106-105 on Saturday night. Wayne Ellington had 26 points on six 3-pointers, Joe Johnson had 22 points and Olynyk was brilliant down the stretch. Nic Batum scored a season-high 26 points and Kemba Walker had 22 for Charlotte, which had a two-game winning streak snapped. Charlotte led 105-100 when Johnson got free for a dunk. The Hornets inbounded the ball to Batum, but Josh Richardson ripped it from his hands and passed to Johnson, who knocked down a 3-pointer from the wing to tie. After a timeout, Walker missed a driving layup, and Olynyk grabbed the rebound and drove the length of the court. He was fouled by Dwight Howard on a disputed reach-in call and made the second of two free throws. The Heat deflected the ensuing inbound pass as time expired. The Hornets trailed by eight in the third quarter before Batum got hot. The French shooting guard scored 14 points during a 16-6 run to give the Hornets their first lead since 2-0. Charlotte stretched the lead to 10 to open the fourth quarter, but the Heat battled back behind three 3-pointers from Olynyk to cut the lead to three. TIP INS Heat: Goran Dragic sat out with a bruised knee. ... The Heat shot 51 percent from the field in the first half to build a 57-48 lead. Hornets: Howard had 14 points and 15 rebounds for the Hornets. UP NEXT Heat: Wrap up a five-game road trip on Monday night at Houston. Hornets: Host Sacramento on Monday night......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 21st, 2018

Kelly Williams rides ‘Angkas’ to beat traffic for TNT game

There's a first time for everything. Even for someone as punctual as TNT forward Kelly Williams, who has never been late coming into a game throughout his 12-year career, his time was up. As iftraffic along C-5 Road in Taguig City wasn't already horrible as it is, what made thingsworse on Wednesday night was a fire that razed a residential area around the time when Williams was on his way to Araneta Coliseum in Cubao coming from his home in Alabang for a 7 p.m. game against Blackwater. READ:Pogoy lifts TNT past Blackwater "Coming from the South, I got to Taguig in about two and a half hours and I heard there was a fire on C5 and I was like, "Oh my god what am I going to d...Keep on reading: Kelly Williams rides ‘Angkas’ to beat traffic for TNT game.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJan 17th, 2018

Harrell, Williams key Clippers bench in 122-95 rout of Kings

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Montrezl Harrell scored 22 points and Lou Williams added 21, both off the bench, to lead the Los Angeles Clippers to a 122-95 rout of the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday night (Wednesday, PHL time). Jamil Wilson had 17 points for the Clippers, whose bench outscored their Kings counterparts, 72-43. Center DeAndre Jordan finished 13 points and 15 rebounds. Willie Cauley-Stein scored 17 points for Sacramento. Buddy Hield and Malachi Richardson each scored 10 points, the only other Kings to finish in double figures. The Clippers took control with a dominating close to the first half, finishing with a 37-14 run to take a 71-53 at the break. It was the most points the Clippers had scored in a first half this season. Wilson — a 27-year-old rookie who has played in Puerto Rico, Italy and the G League — already had a career-high 14 points in the first quarter. He finished 5-of-7 from three-point range. TIP-INS Kings: After losing nine consecutive road games early in the season, Sacramento entered Tuesday's (Wednesday, PHL time) game having won five of their last nine away from home. Said coach Dave Joerger: "We settled in on a rotation. Guys are getting used to the league a little bit. They'd been scouted for the first time and have to be able to make those adjustments. And guys are continuing to improve on a daily basis." Clippers: Los Angeles coach Doc Rivers said F Blake Griffin could return Friday (Saturday, PHL time) against the Lakers. When Griffin sprained his medial collateral ligament in his left knee on Nov. 27 (Nov. 28, PHL time), the team said he could be out eight weeks. Said Rivers on his early return: "I just know his work ethic has to have something to do with it. He gets a lot of heat for getting injured, but no one gives him credit for getting healthy. He works his butt off like no one I've ever seen." ...F Wesley Johnson (foot) could also return Friday (Saturday, PHL time). UP NEXT Kings: Return home Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time) to meet the Cavaliers. Clippers: Will be the visiting team Friday (Saturday, PHL time) against the Lakers. Have won the last five against their Staples Center co-tenants......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 27th, 2017

Ellington ties career-best with 28, Heat top Mavs 113-101

MIAMI -- Wayne Ellington tied a career high with 28 points, Josh Richardson scored 24 and the injury-ravaged Miami Heat never trailed on the way to beating the Dallas Mavericks 113-101 on Friday night. Tyler Johnson scored 19 and Bam Adebayo scored 14 for Miami, which shot 64 percent -- second-best in franchise history. The Heat started both halves with 12-0 runs and went 16 for 25 from 3-point range. Ellington made 3s on back-to-back possessions early in the fourth, pushing what was a two-point Heat lead out to 90-82. He connected on his seventh 3 with about four minutes left for a 99-88 lead, and Miami stayed in control the rest of the way. Richardson made 11 of 14 shots for Miami, which has won four of its last five. Yogi Ferrell scored a season-high 23 for the Mavericks. Dirk Nowitzki and Harrison Barnes each had 20 for Dallas, which got outrebounded 35-22. The 22 rebounds were the fewest by an NBA team this season. Miami guard Dion Waiters left in the first quarter after turning his long-problematic left ankle on a drive, meaning the Heat now have seven players dealing with injuries. Hassan Whiteside, Goran Dragic, James Johnson and Justise Winslow all remained out with various injuries, Rodney McGruder and Okaro White are likely not returning anytime soon, and now Waiters is ailing again. Waiters missed the final 13 games of last season with a left ankle sprain, and it's nagged him at times ever since. Nowitzki made back-to-back 3s late in the third, pulling Dallas within 77-73. The Mavs had two possessions with a chance to take the lead in the fourth, misfiring on both, and Miami scored 31 points in the final 8 1/2 minutes. TIP-INS Mavericks: Devin Harris played only eight minutes before leaving with an illness. ... Dallas was denied a two-game winning streak, which would have matched a season best. The Mavs are 2-7 in the game immediately following a win. Heat: Adebayo, who was 1 when Nowitzki made his NBA debut, spent some time guarding the longtime Dallas star. Adebayo was plus-28 in 37 minutes. ... Kelly Olynyk scored 11 for Miami. ALL TIED UP Including two NBA Finals matchups, the Heat and Mavericks have now played 74 times -- with each team winning 37 of them. UD-DIRK MEMORIES Nowitzki and Heat forward Udonis Haslem have been going head-to-head for more than a decade -- since the 2006 NBA Finals, at least, and the respect the veterans have for one another is clear. They shared some pleasantries before tip-off Friday, and then found themselves guarding one another briefly during the game. MCROBERTS REPORT Josh McRoberts, whose Miami tenure was marked primarily by injuries, still hasn't played for Dallas because of foot problems. Saturday is the one-year anniversary of his last NBA appearance, though he did play 5-on-5 earlier this week against some Mavericks interns. "He's been a great guy to have around our club," said Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle, who thinks McRoberts may be ready to play in a few weeks. UP NEXT Mavericks: Visit Atlanta on Saturday. Heat: Host New Orleans on Saturday......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 23rd, 2017

Westbrook s 3-pointer lifts Thunder past Hawks 120-117

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Russell Westbrook hit a 3-pointer with 1.7 seconds left to cap a 30-point, 15-assist outing, and the Oklahoma City Thunder held off the Atlanta Hawks 120-117 on Friday night. Game on the line. Westbrook for the win! He finishes with 30 PTS, 15 AST & 7 REB.@okcthunder beat @ATLHawks 120-117 for third straight win. — NBA (@NBA) December 23, 2017 Carmelo Anthony added 24 points on 7-of-12 3-point shooting and Paul George scored 17 for the Thunder, who have won five of their last six after an 11-14 start. Atlanta, in last place in the Southeast Division, made Oklahoma City work for this one, rallying after falling behind by 16 points in the first half. The Hawks led 92-88 with 8:49 left after a basket by Kent Bazemore. Westbrook re-entered the game and led the Thunder on a 16-5 run. Anthony's 3-pointer with 5:34 left gave Oklahoma City a 104-97 lead. The Hawks came back again, eventually tying the game at 117 on two free throws by Ersan Ilyasova with 11.1 seconds left. After a timeout, George inbounded to Westbrook, who made the final shot over Atlanta's Taurean Prince. Without a timeout, the Hawks could manage only a desperation heave at the buzzer. Marco Belinelli scored 30 points to lead Atlanta, which is 2-7 against Western Conference teams this season. Ilyasova added 22 points for the Hawks, who went 15 of 32 from 3-point range. The Thunder dominated the second quarter. They broke a 28-28 tie with a 14-2 run to start the quarter, with Raymond Felton and George each hitting two 3-pointers. After the Hawks pulled within 51-43, Oklahoma City went on a 13-5 run and led 64-50 at halftime. Atlanta scored 11 straight points to cut the Thunder lead to 74-70 midway through the third quarter. Oklahoma City made only 19 of 31 free throws. TIP-INS Hawks: Atlanta played without G Dennis Schroder, who sat out with a left ankle injury and was replaced in the starting lineup by Belinelli. Schroder had started and played 32 minutes Wednesday vs. Indiana. ... Prince went 1 of 3 from 3-point range and now has at least one 3-pointer in career-best 14 straight games. ... Belinelli extended his streak of consecutive free throws to 28. Thunder: Westbrook was called for an unsportsmanlike technical foul with 3:24 left in the second quarter for shoving Malcolm Delaney after Delaney had fouled him. ... Steven Adams had 16 points and 10 rebounds. ... The Thunder now trail only 66-65 in their all-time series with the Hawks, including the franchise's time in Seattle. ... George and Westbrook entered the game ranked first and second, respectively, in the NBA in steals at 2.45 and 2.10. George had three steals against the Hawks, and Westbrook had two. UP NEXT Hawks: Host Dallas on Saturday before a four-day break. Thunder: At Utah on Saturday before starting a four-game homestand on Christmas Day against Houston......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 23rd, 2017

Olynyk scores career-high 32 for Heat in return to Boston

By Ken Powtak, Associated Press BOSTON (AP) — Kelly Olynyk scored a career-high 32 points in his rousing return to Boston, and the undermanned Miami Heat hung on Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time) for a 90-89 victory over the Celtics. On a night when the Celtics honored their former forward in his first game back, the popular Olynyk received a standing ovation from Boston fans and led the Heat (16-15) to another win against the top team in the Eastern Conference. Josh Richardson had 19 points and six assists for Miami, which took two of three in the season series. The Heat ended Boston’s 16-game winning streak earlier this season with a victory at home. Olynyk signed with Miami as a free agent during the offseason. His previous high was 30 points on Dec. 15, 2014. When this one was over, he took photos with fans. Kyrie Irving paced the Celtics (26-8) with 33 points, but missed a jumper from the right wing that bounced off the rim at the buzzer. Jaylen Brown scored 16 and Marcus Smart had 15. Boston big man Al Horford went 2-for-10 from the floor with eight rebounds and fouled out with 8:14 to play. Miami led 87-76 with 2.5 minutes left before Irving sparked a 13-3 run with nine points. Miami pulled out to a 71-60 lead when Olynyk drained consecutive three-pointers in front of Boston’s bench with just under 10 minutes to go. The Celtics sliced it to 79-75, but Richardson converted a three-point play and Olynyk nailed a 3 on consecutive possessions with less than five minutes left. The Heat went on a 15-2 run midway through the third quarter, taking their first lead and building a 58-51 advantage on Bam Adebayo’s one-handed flip in the lane. TIP-INS Heat: G Goran Dragic missed his second straight game with a sore left elbow and F Justise Winslow sat out his fourth in a row with strained left knee. It was the second consecutive game in which the Heat were missing six players due to injuries. ... The Heat were called for delay of game because they weren’t on the court quickly enough to start the second half. Celtics: Jayson Tatum dislocated his right pinkie when it was stepped on after he dove for a loose ball in the opening minutes. He went straight to the locker room, but returned late in the first quarter. ... F Daniel Theis played with a mask after surgery for a broken nose Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time). . F Guerschon Yabusele pretends to shoot an arrow and does a “dab” after he hits a triple. THANK YOU The Celtics honored Olynyk as the “Hero Among Us” for doing more than 100 community appearances and helping raise thousands of dollars for their charity when he was with the team. “I think it’s a fun way to honor. It’s bigger than what you do on the court,” Boston coach Brad Stevens said before the game. “He embraced that, and I thought he lived that out well. It wasn’t just talk when the cameras were on. He was out all the time.” There was a brief video of Olynyk doing events and he was given a standing ovation early in the second quarter. THAT WAS UGLY The teams combined to miss 24 shots in the second quarter — with both under 39 percent — and went long stretches without a basket. UP NEXT Heat: Host the Dallas Mavericks on Friday (Saturday, PHL time) in the opener of a four-game homestand. Celtics: At the New York Knicks on Thursday (Friday, PHL time)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 21st, 2017

Oladipo, Sabonis helping Pacers move forward

By Steve Aschburner, INDIANAPOLIS – Victor Oladipo has a fever and the only prescription is ... no, not more cowbell. Cowbell might make sense, if you factor in Oladipo’s love of and commitment to music (his debut R&B album has been available since Oct. 6). But the fever currently afflicting Oladipo, shooting guard for the Indiana Pacers, has nothing to do with extracurriculars and everything to do with the odes and anthems he’s been performing within the confines of 94 feet by 50 feet. If the fifth-year guard out of Indiana University, by way of the Orlando Magic and Oklahoma City Thunder, looks comfortable in his new star turn for the Pacers, well, just remember that’s your word. Not his. “You could say I’m comfortable with the people here,” says Oladipo, who spent three seasons with the Hoosiers before becoming the No. 2 pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. “I played in front of these fans, they mean a lot to me and I gave a lot to them just like they gave a lot to me while I was in college. “But I’m never comfortable in any situation I’m in. I will never be comfortable. That’s what kind of makes me get up and work every day. It’s like, never be satisfied. Because for some reason, ever since I was a little kid, I always wanted more.” Oladipo’s eyes just about glow after a weekend practice as he delves into his unflagging intensity. He doesn’t undercut it with a smile or a token laugh. This is real heat. “Maximize my talent and exhaust my potential,” he says. “In order to do that, I’ve got to come to work every day. That’s my thought process. Wake up each day and be great that day.” Each day would include tonight, when Oladipo will share center stage at Bankers Life Fieldhouse with the more decorated and once-beloved star who preceded him in the Pacers lineup. Paul George, a four-time All-Star and Olympic gold medalist during his seven seasons in Indiana, was due to face his old team for the first time since being traded to Oklahoma City in July. It was a parting necessitated by George, who had made clear his desire to sign a maximum-salary contract with the Los Angeles Lakers in the summer of 2018. But the trade was orchestrated by Kevin Pritchard, the Pacers’ president of basketball operations, and Chad Buchanan, their general manager, who surprised the NBA by swapping George to OKC for Oladipo and big man Domantas Sabonis. You want intense? The initial reaction to that deal was intensely negative, quickly reaching hysterical proportions. The Pacers immediately were mocked for having traded George for nickels on the dollar. Reports out of Boston characterized Indiana’s POBO as more of a bobo for allegedly spurning a Celtics’ offer of multiple players and draft picks. *Takes a well deserved nap for 3 hours ** Opens Twitter: — Myl3s Turn3r (@Original_Turner) July 1, 2017 The west is sick!!!! Best conference in the world!!!! — Patrick Beverley (@patbev21) July 1, 2017 Vic to the Pacers?! He might as well run for governor while he's at it! — Cody Zeller (@CodyZeller) July 1, 2017 Former Thunder star Kevin Durant called the move “shocking” and of George said “Indiana just gave him away.” Among much of the media that covers the league, there was a general feeling of “rubes” afoot -- that the Pacers had been snookered in taking back an overpaid ($21 million annually through 2020-21) second-tier talent and an overbilled guy who had disappeared in OKC’s postseason. And now? Not so much on any of those fronts. ‘He knows how good he is’ George’s stats are down in the “OK3” core he’s formed with reigning Kia MVP Russell Westbrook and aging Carmelo Anthony. The Thunder (12-13) are the NBA’s consensus disappointment, team category, with nearly a third of their season in the books. Sabonis has boosted the Pacers off the bench in a half dozen ways. And Oladipo has all but earned himself a spot on the Eastern Conference All-Star team while speeding his new team’s fans past their heartbreak over George’s jilting. Generally, the best trades in sports are win-win, but for Indiana right now, a bit of win-lose has made the start of 2017-18 downright sublime. “We happened to really like Sabonis in the draft,” former Pacers president and ongoing consultant Donnie Walsh said last week. “We wanted more of everything in the trade too. But when it came down to it, we had this offer with Oladipo, who we also liked. They’ve come in here and the more they’ve been here, the more we like ‘em. We’re happy.” The Pacers also are 16-11, two weeks ahead in the victory column over their 42-40 finish last season that was good for a playoff berth. Oladipo is the biggest reason why, averaging more points per game (24.5) than George ever has. The 6'4" guard who attended famous DeMatha High in Hyattsville, Md., spent much of last season being beaten up for his contract and negligible impact in Oklahoma City. He had taken grief earlier for his status as the second pick in 2013, a lofty status not of his doing. And here he was again in the summer, hearing it all over again for a transaction he didn’t design. “He came in with a chip [on his shoulder],” Pacers coach Nate McMillan said. “I thought he should come in with a chip.” Some would have flinched from the pressure. A few might have curled up, full blown fetal. Oladipo has gone entirely the other way. “His confidence is at an all-time high,” backup point guard Cory Joseph said. “He knows how good he is.” As Joseph spoke after the Pacers’ upset of Cleveland Friday, a game in which Oladipo scored 20 of his game-high 33 points in the third quarter, a lilting voice drifted from behind the scenes in the home dressing room. “Look at it right now, he’s singing in the shower,” Joseph said, tilting his head and laughing. “He’s confident. You guys are all in here, he’s just singing. He’s a confident guy. Everybody in this locker room, everybody in this organization definitely welcomes that.” Trade not driving Oladipo’s breakout season Don’t misunderstand. The critics still are out for Oladipo. “My mom told me yesterday I need to work on my free throws,” he said with an eye roll after practice Saturday (Sunday, PHL time). She had noticed, during her son’s run of big games in December -- 36 points at Toronto, 27 vs. Chicago, 33 against the Cavs the night before her chiding text -- that he had missed 18-of-31 foul shots. This, by a career 80 percent shooter from the line. “I’m over that,” Oladipo said. “I’m not going to miss no more. I’ll make ‘em next time. And if I miss ‘em, I’ll make ‘em the next. If that’s my problem right now, I think I can fix it.” Twenty-four hours later, Oladipo took 13 free throws against Denver and made 11. He scored 47 points in all, hitting 15-of-28 shots and half of his 12 three-pointers. The comeback victory in OT got the Pacers to 4-for-4 on their six-game homestand and continued to shrink whatever chip it was that the 25-year-old was shouldering. “In the beginning of the year, I said, ‘I don’t have a chip. I have a brick house on my back,’” Oladipo said. But not anymore, right, now that some folks are referring to it as “the Victor Oladipo trade” rather than “the Paul George trade?” “That’s what I feel like every morning, no matter what’s going on,” he said. “I don’t even think about the trade, honestly. It’s in the past for me. People’s opinions are going to be there whether you like it or not. From the outside looking in, I guess you could say [then] that was a great trade for OKC. That’s what they believed. But it wasn’t going to change the way I worked. It wasn’t going to change my approach.” This step up in status is considered perhaps the most difficult an NBA player can make. Suddenly, opposing coaches are X&O-ing him to death. The player dogging him up and down the court is the other guys’ best defender. Often, they’ll send double-teams to get the ball into one of his teammates’ hands. “He hadn’t had that,” McMillan said. “When he was in OKC, the game plan was focused on Westbrook. When he was in Orlando, he was just a young player. Now he is seeing the defenders like a LeBron [James], like a [DeMar] DeRozan, what these stars are seeing. He’s seeing the best defenders and he’s seeing teams game-plan to take him out. “Learning how to play and be consistent every night with that challenge is something he’s going through.” Oladipo’s quick success with the Pacers has kept any crowd critics at bay. They were pre-disposed to like him just as their rebound date after George, but had he underperformed, Oladipo’s service time in Bloomington wouldn’t have protected him for long from criticism. But now, it’s George who likely will get the harsh reception. Oladipo, overtly after each of the recent victories, has made it clear to the home fans via some emphatic pointing and body language that the Fieldhouse happens to be his house. “I don’t say it, they say it,” he said. “I just do the gesture and they do the rest of the work for me. I let them do all the talking. We feed off them -- when they’re into it, we play better. I don’t know why, that’s just how basketball’s always been. They’re our sixth man and we need ‘em every night.” Oladipo’s breakout season has been bolstered, too, by the Pacers’ second-through-15th men. Those who already were in Indy knew how valuable George was at both ends. Those who, like Oladipo and Sabonis, were new this season were within their rights to be as skeptical as the national headlines of the guys coming in trade. Go-to guy emerges for Pacers OKC was a specific challenge, Oladipo having to learn on the fly how to fit his own darting, ball-heavy style to only the second man in NBA history to average a triple-double. Westbrook’s usage was off the charts, rendering the other Thunder players to supporting cast whether suited to that role or not. Just like that, Oladipo had to catch and shoot as someone to get Westbrook into double digits in assists. It wasn’t his nature and it made for an individually forgettable season. “I had a role. I tried to play that role to the best of my ability. And I improved certain areas of my game in that role,” was all he’d say Saturday, stiffly, about the OKC experience. Said Walsh: “I felt like he was going to get a different opportunity here. ... When he got to Oklahoma City, he was playing wih a guy who was averaging a triple-double. And he liked Russell Westbrook. But he comes here, he’s got an opportunity to be ‘our guy.’ “I think he might have been looking for that. I never asked him. He’s a really cool guy. He knows what he wants to be, I think.” Oladipo needed this and the Pacers needed him to need it. With George gone, they were like a smile missing a front tooth. The other teeth weren’t just going to move up in the pecking order -- no matter how good young big man Myles Turner is -- and replace the one they’d lost. If they were going to have any success this season, if McMillan was going to be able to coach and adjust in his second year taking over for Frank Vogel, the players needed to fill their roles and welcome this new addition. That’s why this tale of Oladipo’s growing success is about what the Pacers have done for him, as much as it is what he’s done for them. “We didn’t really present it like that,” McMillan said, “because we were still trying to develop who our ‘go-to guy’ was. He has been slowly taking on that role through the things he’s done. I haven’t had to say anything. He’s making good decisions with the ball. And the guys are getting a feel for what we’re doing down the stretch because we’ve had some success, and we’ve had it with Victor having the ball.” Chemistry change for Pacers There might be NBA teams with chemistry as solid as the Pacers’ right now, but it’s hard to imagine there are any with better. It’s more than mere relief that someone has stepped up, easing their own loads a bit. It is a genuine eagerness for Oladipo to max out, for each of the rest of them to do the same in whatever lane they’re riding. “Vic’s been everything at this point,” Turner said. “He’s done a great job of stepping up and being that guy, being that dude. It’s amazing to have that when you’re going through a situation where it’s a brand-new team. We’re still learning each other and he’s showing that he’s ready.” Did Turner know this would happen and, if so, when? “First couple days he started texting me in the summertime,” the big man said. “I saw what his mindset was, and I loved it from the jump. He carried that right in when we started playing pickup this summer. “Vic’s been traded, what, [two] times? He finally comes back home and he has a team that’s telling him to go, telling him to be him. I don’t think he had that with his former teams. Now that he’s here and he’s doing that, I’m pretty sure he’s [enjoying it].” Said Joseph: “He’s been a beast for us and he’s going to continue to be a beast for us. ... He’s been running with that opportunity and opening eyes around the world.” Even strong-willed, uber-confident Lance Stephenson, has backed up for Oladipo. “There’s no hate, know what I mean?” he said over the weekend. “Some guys get mad about somebody doing good. This team wants its teammates to do good. That’s what’s going to make us even better.” Oladipo keeps referring to the other Pacers in a legit lubricating of the “no I in Indy” process. “Honestly I think it’s the personalities and the men that we have in this locker room,” he said. “My teammates are phenomenal people -- not just basketball players, phenomenal people. When you surround yourself with great people, people who sincerely care about you and your team, the chemistry just comes naturally.” Sabonis shows glimpses of success, too The other guy in the trade, Sabonis, has developed more organically, his maturation seemingly inevitable regardless of locale when you tote up his youth, his work ethic and his bloodlines (son of Hall of Famer Arvydas Sabonis). He has gone from that rookie who logged just six minutes in the Thunder’s five 2017 playoff games against Houston to an essential piece in McMillan’s rotation. “Once I got traded, I knew this was a great opportunity for me to show people what I can really do,” said Sabonis, the No. 11 pick in 2016. “I was a rookie last year. Everything was new. Here, I’m being used more at the 5. That’s more the position I’ve been used to playing my whole life.” Sabonis’ minutes are up from 20.1 in OKC to 24.6 off Indiana’s bench. His scoring has doubled from 5.9 ppg to 12.1. And his PIE rating has soared from 4.9 last season to 12.6, a sign of the versatility the skilled big man possesses. “I love Sabonis,” Walsh said. “His father was one of the greatest players in the world, so I don’t like that comparison -- it kills him. He [Domantas] is just more of everything you think he is. He’s stronger than you think. He can shoot the ball better. He’s got good hands, he can catch the ball. I’ve seen him make moves in game that I’ve never seen him make in practice.” Said Turner: “I played against Domas in college -- I knew what kind of player he was. I was excited when we got him. He’s gotten bigger and stronger since then, obviously, and he just didn’t have a chance to show himself last year. But he’s been big for us now, especially when I was out with the concussion. He stepped up huge in that role and we’ve played well since then.” The Pacers are playing faster this season, up from 18th in pace last season to 10th now, part of their improvement from 15th in offensive rating (106.2) to 6th (108.3). They’re doing better, too, in contesting shots and throttling opponents’ field-goal accuracy. The biggest reason why has been Oladipo’s blossoming. Whether due to the sunshine of new, happier surroundings or from that darker, more intense place, to prove cynics wrong. No one can now talk of the Pacers’ bungling of what, after all, was a deal to rent George, not to have him long-term. Fans at Bankers Life figure to boo George on his first visit back, with an inventory they haven’t needed or used on Oladipo. Some might see that as ingratitude, others as respect. It’s a little bit of love lost, too. “Look, they loved Paul when he was here,” Walsh said. “They guy is a great player. One thing I’ve always felt: These guys that play here, they always know more about what they want for their lives than we do. How you gonna argue with that? He treated us good, we treated him good. No bad blood here. I don’t know about fans.” Folks in Indy have a new crush now, one they hope lasts for a while. Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 14th, 2017

Michael Carter-Williams remains optimistic after uneven start to career

By Shaun Powell, CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The 2013-14 home opener of the Philadelphia 76ers drew a large and hyper crowd for a game against LeBron James and the Miami Heat, not necessarily because of who was playing; actually, the object of the affection was someone who wasn’t. There he stood in baggy jeans, a jacket one size too big, a do-rag defiantly wrapped around his head and showing puppy eyes that lied about his image and age. Allen Iverson was approaching his 40s and uncomfortably retired. Based on his outfit, he couldn’t let go of yesterday. Nor could nostalgic Philly fans who applauded and shouted during a ceremony to honor the iconic former Sixer, who playfully cupped his ear with his hand to encourage the love. Then, something unexpected happened: Philly honored a second Sixers point guard that same night. Much like Iverson well before him, Michael Carter-Williams buzzed around the floor, getting buckets, attacking the rim, finding the open man and cutting off Miami passing lanes. If he couldn’t upstage Iverson, he certainly outdid LeBron by scoring 22 points with 12 assists, seven rebounds and nine steals in a Sixers’ upset win. It was his first game as a pro, with his misty-eyed family in the stands, with Iverson pumping a fist, with LeBron feeling flat, and the night felt surreal, dreamy, galactic. How could he or anyone not see that this was the beginning of something special? “A great night,” Carter-Williams recalled the other day. “I always wanted to play that way, against guys like LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. After I had, like, seven points, my mom told someone that she’d be happy if the game ended right now.” That smash opening act led to the Kia Rookie of the Year award, which of course then led to a series of injuries, trades, bad fits, false starts, airballs, benchings and a failure to secure the kind of blockbuster contract that allows you to live XXL. Four years and four teams later, Carter-Williams is the backup point guard for the Charlotte Hornets with a career creeping down the path of the unknown, already sitting at the crossroads at age 26. This wasn’t a totally self-created spiral. His body betrayed him as much as his jump shot. He found himself trapped in situations that ranged from weird to woeful. He had the timing of a fake Rolex. An award-winning rookie was put through the NBA wringer and fell through the cracks and has now landed a few seats down the bench from Michael Jordan, although symbolically, he’s worlds away from the Hornets owner. Bitter? Angry? Confused? Yeah, just a bit. “It was tough, given the situations I’ve been in,” he said, “and the backlash I received wasn’t worthy or fair to what I’d been going through. I was in tough situations with injuries and being traded and it affected my performance on the floor. I got real low, with everybody asking, `What happened to him?’ It wasn’t right.” He’s on a one-year deal with the Hornets, which he hopes to leverage into security next summer in free agency, though the big-paycheck prospects are hardly encouraging so far. Still searching for durability with his body and respectability for his game, Carter-Williams is averaging 17.3 minutes in role-playing duty. And he’s once again haunted by his faulty shooting, now dragging at 27 percent, deadly for a guard. It’s a cautionary tale about fate and the curvy nature of pro sports, and about the 2013 NBA Draft, headlined by the one and only Anthony Bennett. From almost every conceivable measuring tool and metric, that class lurks as perhaps the quietest in NBA history. The only All-Star is Giannis Antetokounmpo, who went 15th, and he, Rudy Gobert and CJ McCollum are the only franchise cornerstones. Half of the top 10 are already on different teams. Another way to apply context is with money. Only Giannis, McCollum, Gobert, Otto Porter Jr. and Steven Adams received max contracts, and half of the top 10 didn’t see multi-year extensions. Several players sat on the free-agent market last summer for weeks and even months, collecting cobwebs as they nervously stared at a market that turned chilly a year after doling out millions. They begrudgingly settled for qualifying offers that amounted to pocket change: one year and $4 million for Nerlens Noel (the No. 6 pick), one year and $4.2 million for Alex Len (No. 5). The No. 9 pick and consensus college player of the year, Trey Burke, is playing for the Knicks. The Westchester Knicks of the G League. As a whole, that class was astonishingly light at the top, lacked any second-round surprises (besides Allen Crabbe) and quickly became a wash. And of course, the No. 1 pick is already out of the league. Bennett wasn’t even the consensus top choice prior to the Draft among NBA talent scouts, some of whom had Noel rated higher, even though Noel was coming off knee surgery. That said plenty about the class and also Bennett, who leveraged a decent stretch at UNLV to hear his name called first by Cleveland. That joy didn’t last long; Bennett was a hopeless ‘tweener at forward in his pitstop NBA career and instantly exposed for his lack of shooting and low-post grit. He quickly became a throw-in for the Kevin Love trade but couldn’t salvage his career in Minnesota, Toronto or Brooklyn. He currently plays for the Northern Arizona Suns in the G League. It’s a fate that the most celebrated rookie of that class hopes to avoid, and praying he isn’t running out of chances. Carter-Williams, the 11th pick, was consistent and steady that first season. A 6'6" guard who caused matchup problems and brought good vision and defensive instincts, he averaged 16.7 points, 6.2 rebounds, 6.3 assists and 1.9 steals. He led all rookies in points, rebounds, assists and steals. Only Magic Johnson and Oscar Robertson did that, although for the sake of context, Magic’s competition in his first year was fellow Hall of Famer Larry Bird, and Oscar came in with Hall of Famers Jerry West and Lenny Wilkens. Carter-Williams became the lowest-drafted player to win Rookie of the Year since Mark Jackson in 1987. But coming from that 2013 Draft, it was like winning a sack race without using a sack. After that, he was no longer blessed by the basketball gods; he still hasn’t matched the numbers or impact he had as a rookie. The Sixers were in the early stages of a crash-and-burn rebuilding philosophy managed by former GM Sam Hinkie. Rather than having the chance one day to throw lobs to Joel Embiid, who was drafted a year later but sat with a foot injury, Carter-Williams was dealt midway through his second season by Hinkie. Carter-Williams was exchanged right before the 2015 trade deadline for a package that included three picks (a first-rounder belonging to the Lakers is now property of the Celtics and unprotected for 2018). “Being traded was hard for me,” he said. “I didn’t see that coming. To this day, I still don’t understand it. I never got any answers and never went to ask for any. Of course I felt pretty bad but I was fine with it once I realized the situation I was going into — or thought I was going into.” He was in Milwaukee to be coached and tutored by Jason Kidd, one of the all-time great point guards. Carter-Williams gave Milwaukee a big backcourt with Khris Middleton and the Bucks had a long and lean starting five. He scored 30 against the Cavs and another 30 in his first game back in Philly, and in the playoffs went for 22 points and nine assists in a game against the Bulls. The next season he looked forward once again to feeding passes to Giannis, until Kidd had another idea: Giannis would take Carter-Williams’ position and do the feeding to others. Suddenly and once again, an ideal situation turned sour quickly for Carter-Williams, who couldn’t believe the sharp turn his career took. “I don’t know how to describe it,” he said about his relationship with Kidd. “We didn’t see eye to eye on different things. He was a great player but he hadn’t been coaching for that long and he was still learning. I learned from him but my expectations going there were high and it wasn’t the situation I thought I was going to be in.” On one hand, Kidd and Milwaukee put Carter-Williams out of his misery by trading him; on the other, Carter-Williams went to the struggling, chaotic Chicago Bulls, who were in the process of being stripped to the bone, at the start of the 2016-17 season. Once again, Carter-Williams was swept up by the winds of change and spit out. Not only did his teams change, so did the league, which gravitated to players and especially guards who brought shooting range and consistency. Then and now, that’s his biggest flaw. He’s a career 25-percent shooter from deep (just 40 percent overall), and in a three-point league, that’s a deal breaker. Also, injuries didn’t help. The last three years he has played only 165 out of 246 games due to shoulder, ankle and hip conditions. He needed platelet-rich injections in both knees last summer to quicken the healing process of his patella tendons. “He’s had some difficult injuries and it has clearly hampered his development,” said Jim Boeheim, his college coach at Syracuse. “Let me tell you, he knows how to play. He’s always been a good passer and defender. But the injuries, especially with the shoulder, have held him back in his shooting development. I told him to keep playing and hope the ball goes in.” Those circumstances both within and beyond his control have prevented Carter-Williams from cashing in. He was the first Rookie of the Year in NBA history to fail to have his rookie contract extended and is on a one-year deal with the Hornets for $2.7 million. “You know what? I’m in a good place now,” he said. “It took me a while to regroup and restart and resurface and get healthy, which I’m still trying to do. I’m still young and my game is still growing. I haven’t reached my potential. I still believe I’m a starter in this league. I’ll play a role right now, because that’s what my team needs to win, but I want to lead a team. “Each game I go out and play with a chip on my shoulder. I probably lost some respect from some guys in the league. But ultimately my goal is to make all the teams that gave up on me say, `We had him once.’ I’m going forward.” He’ll always have that opening night with Iverson leading the cheers, that near triple-double against LeBron, and that Rookie of the Year hardware. But that’s the thing, you see. After that launch, Michael Carter-Williams expected more. For one year, he was the king of that 2013 draft. Four years later, he’d rather not become a symbol of what that draft became. Veteran NBA writer Shaun Powell has worked for newspapers and other publications for more than 25 years. You can e-mail him here or follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 14th, 2017

Westbrook s triple-double leads Thunder past Grizzlies in OT

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) -- Russell Westbrook overcame a poor shooting night, recording a triple-double, including two game-clinching free throws with 5.2 seconds left in overtime to lead the Oklahoma City Thunder past the Memphis Grizzlies 102-101 on Saturday night (Sunday, PHL time). Westbrook, who was 7-of-29 from the field and missed 11 of his 12 three-point attempts, added 14 assists and 11 rebounds. Carmelo Anthony and Steven Adams led the Thunder with 21 points and nine rebounds each, while Alex Abrines, starting for the injured Paul George, added a career-high 20 points, converting five three-pointers, also a career-best. Tyreke Evans led Memphis with 29 points and 13 rebounds, while Marc Gasol finished with 22 points. Ben McLemore contributed 17 points as the Grizzlies lost their third straight and 14 of the last 15. Memphis led by as many as 20 in the first half. The teams were tied at 92 at the end of regulation after Westbrook's three-point attempt at the horn was blocked by Andrew Harrison. Memphis held a 101-98 lead after Evans' three-pointer with 1:03 left in the extra period. The scored stayed there until a drive by Westbrook with 13.8 seconds left. JaMychal Green missed two free throws, setting the stage for Westbrook's winning free throws. Memphis could not get a shot off before the horn sounded because of sound defense by the Thunder. As they did in Friday night's (Saturday, PHL time) loss to Toronto, the Grizzlies started out shooting well, keeping it above 50 percent. And, like the game with the Raptors, Memphis crafted a big lead, reaching 20 points before carrying a 57-46 lead into the break. TIP-INS Thunder: George did not play because of a right calf injury. Abrines started his second game of the season. ... Adams has reached double figures in five straight games. Grizzlies: F Chandler Parsons did not play, resting on the second night of a back-to-back. ... Memphis, which lost to Toronto on Friday night (Saturday, PHL time), wrapped up the second of six back-to-backs this month. ...The 20-point lead in the first half with the largest lead of the season for Memphis. ... Memphis scored nine points in the third quarter, a season-low for any period. UP NEXT Thunder: Face Charlotte at home on Monday (Tuesday, PHL time). Grizzlies: Play their third home game in four days when the Miami Heat visit on Monday (Tuesday, PHL time).....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 10th, 2017

Dragic, Ellington lead slow-starting Heat past Bulls, 100-93

By Mike Helfgot, Associated Press CHICAGO (AP) — Goran Dragic scored 24 points and the Miami Heat followed the lowest-scoring first quarter in team history with their highest-scoring one of the season to beat the Chicago Bulls 100-93 on Sunday (Monday, PHL time). After scoring seven points in the first quarter, Miami had 38 in the second to take a 45-42 lead. Wayne Ellington added 19 points, James Johnson had 15 points, seven rebounds and six assists, and Hassan Whiteside had 11 points and 10 rebounds. Jerian Grant led Chicago with 24 points. Denzel Valentine had 14 points and career highs of 13 rebounds and seven assists. Ellington ignited the Heat after the 2-for-19 first-quarter from the field, scoring 10 points and hitting three three-pointers as Miami shot 68.4 percent in the second quarter. Tyler Johnson and Kelly OIynyk added 10 points apiece off the bench as four members of the Heat’s second unit reached double figures. Justin Holliday added 15 points for Chicago. TIP-INS Heat: Whiteside (knee) was in the starting lineup after missing Saturday’s (Sunday, PHL time) practice to receive treatment. ... F James Johnson had at least five rebounds and five assists in a game for the fifth time this season. ... Miami (10-9) exceeded the .500 mark for the first time since winning two of three to open the season. Bulls: Chicago coach Fred Hoiberg said he’s “hoping” G David Nwaba will return to practice on Monday. Nwaba (sprained right ankle) missed his ninth consecutive game. ... The home game was just Chicago’s seventh of the season, tied with Toronto for fewest in the NBA. ... Grant scored 62 points in Chicago’s past three games (38 past two). His single-game high was 13 prior to this stretch. FROSTY FIRST QUARTER The Heat shot 2-of-19 from the field in the first quarter but only trailed 13-7 because the Bulls managed to make just 4-of-24 shots, including 1-for-15 inside the three-point arc. The 20 combined points were the fewest in any quarter in Bulls history. DESIGNATED SHOOTER Ellington continued his hot three-point shooting, going 5-of-8 behind the arc. The veteran reserve made multiple three-pointers in each of the Heat’s past four games, going 20-for-35 in that stretch, and at least one in 11 straight. Ellington is shooting 44.2 percent for the season. UP NEXT Heat: At Cleveland on Tuesday night (Wednesday, PHL time). Bulls: Host Phoenix on Tuesday night (Wednesday, PHL time)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 26th, 2017

Towns leads Timberwolves past floundering Mavericks 112-99

MINNEAPOLIS -- Karl-Anthony Towns had 31 points and 12 rebounds, Andrew Wiggins added 23 points on 9-for-14 shooting and the Minnesota Timberwolves beat the floundering Dallas Mavericks 112-99 on Saturday night for their first four-game winning streak in nearly five years. Holding Mavericks star Harrison Barnes scoreless in the second half, the Wolves enjoyed a blowout for once after the margin of their previous five victories totaled just 17 points. The last time they won four games in a row was Dec. 7-15, 2012, when Towns was just a junior in high school. Coming off a career-low two points Wednesday at New Orleans, when foul trouble against bulwarks DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis limited him to 22 minutes, Towns responded like the Timberwolves needed him to and thought he would. He had seven points and two rebounds during a 13-0 run late in the third quarter that pushed their lead to 25 points. Barnes finished with 17 points for the Mavericks, who have the worst record in the NBA and their first 1-10 start since the 1993-94 season when they staggered out of the gate at 1-23 and finished 13-69 in coach Quinn Buckner's only year on the job. With franchise cornerstone Dirk Nowitzki not the same as his younger self, they've been relying heavily on their bounty of point guards. Dennis Smith Jr. had 18 points and Devin Harris (15 points) and J.J. Barea (14 points) provided a few sparks off the bench, but there's just not enough production to be found. The Mavericks entered the game with the third-lowest scoring average in the league. The Wolves improved to 6-1 with linchpin Jimmy Butler on the floor, having lost both games the tenacious, versatile small forward missed with a virus, but the upside to this one was that they won with minimal impact from their offseason headliner acquisition. Butler averaged 21.3 points over the previous three games, but the player getting the third-most minutes per night in the NBA was able to rest more than usual down the stretch with the Wolves in command from the middle of the first quarter on. Butler finished with a season-low four points in 34 minutes. Taj Gibson picked up some slack with 12 points and 10 rebounds, and Jeff Teague had 11 points and 10 assists. The reserves, playing as a five-man unit for long stretches, contributed often, too. Nemanja Bjelica and Tyus Jones each sank a pair of 3-pointers in the second quarter. Jamal Crawford used a shake-and-bake move for a 20-foot pull-up jumper he swished for a 90-62 lead that was the largest of the game for the Wolves. ROUGH ROAD AHEAD The Mavericks might have to wait a while longer for that next win. Their next 10 games include two matchups each with Oklahoma City and San Antonio and one against Cleveland, and all but one of them are against teams that made the playoffs last season. The vastly improved Timberwolves are the only outlier. They visit Dallas on Nov. 17. TIP-INS Mavericks: Nowitzki had seven points on 3-for-8 shooting in 22 minutes. ... Salah Mejri started at center for the first time this season and only the 18th time in 114 career games. The 7-foot-2 Tunisian, who had 13 rebounds and five blocks against the Pelicans, went scoreless in nine minutes of action while picking up three fouls. Timberwolves: Bjelica is second in the NBA in 3-point shooting, behind Oklahoma City's Raymond Felton. He's the only player on the team with at least one make from behind the arc in all nine games this season. ... The Wolves have attempted more free throws than their opponent in all nine games. UP NEXT Mavericks: Travel to Washington to play the Wizards on Tuesday night, their only game in the next six days before hosting the defending Eastern Conference champion Cleveland Cavaliers next weekend. Timberwolves: Stay home for the second half of a back-to-back set, hosting the Charlotte Hornets on Sunday night before a road trip to face the defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors on Wednesday night......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 5th, 2017

LeBron James scores 57, Cavaliers top Wizards 130-122, end skid

WASHINGTON -- Just in case there were any questions about Eastern Conference supremacy, LeBron James poured in 57 points -- the second-highest total of his career and an NBA-best this season -- to help the Cleveland Cavaliers end a four-game losing skid by beating the Washington Wizards 130-122 Friday night. James hadn't scored this much since getting a career-high 61 for the Miami Heat on March 3, 2014, against the Charlotte Hornets. And the four-time league MVP did it efficiently Friday, making 23 of 34 field-goal tries and all nine free throws, while adding 11 rebounds and seven assists. James did it with style, too. He hurdled over a seated Bradley Beal while dribbling, swatted a shot by John Wall off the backboard, and looked for a camera to wag both index fingers in the midst of a three-point play. James didn't need much help, but teammates Derrick Rose (20 points) and Jae Crowder (17) each managed to top their season highs before the third quarter was done. Cleveland finally looked like a team that has been to the NBA Finals three consecutive years, thanks in large part to James. "It's, like, it's `his' Finals. Seems like every year he's there," Wizards coach Scott Brooks said before tipoff. "I can imagine there's no, like, panic in their locker room." A Cavs club that had lost its four preceding games by a total of 64 points, the worst such stretch James has experienced since he was a rookie, broke out against a Wizards club that keeps insisting it is ready to reach the East finals for the first time in four decades. And while Beal backed up that sort of talk, scoring 36 points, Wall was not at his peak. Yes, he handed out 15 assists, but he scored only 13 points, shooting 4 for 13, and was even surprisingly bad on free-throw attempts, going 5 for 12. In his season debut, Wizards forward Markieff Morris had two points, four rebounds and one flagrant foul on Crowder in 16 minutes. Morris missed the start of the season because of sports hernia surgery, then missed one game because of a league suspension. Morris got in on the action right away Friday, turning over the ball on Washington's first possession, before scoring the team's first points with an inside move a minute into the game. James scored eight of 10 points for Cleveland during one early stretch and closed the first quarter with 15 on 6-of-7 shooting. Rose also went 6 for 7 in the period, scoring 13, as the visitors went up 42-36. There was All-Star Game-caliber defense -- which is to say, none whatsoever -- by both teams in that period. The Cavs shot 77.3 percent, the Wizards 66.7. This was more of the same old problem for Washington, which had allowed 107 points over the final three quarters of its previous outing, when it wasted a 22-point lead and lost to the Phoenix Suns. By halftime, Cleveland's lead was 74-66 on 66 percent shooting. James already was at 24 points, with Rose at 18. It was 102-93 heading into the fourth. TIP-INS Cavaliers: Iman Shumpert (sore right knee) missed his third game in a row, while Tristan Thompson (strained left calf) sat out for the first time in what could be a month's absence after getting injured in Wednesday's loss to Indiana. ... James reached at least 10 points for the 800th game in a row; Michael Jordan (866) is the only other NBA player with a streak that long. ... James, 32, also became the youngest player to reach 29,000 career points in the NBA. Last season, he became the youngest to reach 27,000, and then the youngest to reach 28,000. Wizards: F Kelly Oubre Jr. showed up to the arena wearing a jacket with a curse word sewn onto the back. ... F Otto Porter Jr. returned to the starting lineup after missing one game because of an illness. He had 15 points. ... Wizards coach Scott Brooks on Morris before the game: "It's good to have him back. He gives us that edge that I like. ... It's going to give us a boost." UP NEXT Cavaliers: Host the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday. The Hawks entered Friday with the worst record in the Eastern Conference. Wizards: At the Toronto Raptors on Sunday, before returning to Washington for a four-game homestand......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 4th, 2017

24 NBA questions before 17-18 tips off

By David Aldridge, TNT analyst The season starts on Tuesday night (Wednesday, PHL time). You’ve been waiting patiently all summer with your questions. Fire away.     1. So … what’s the point of playing this season? The Golden State Warriors are still the prohibitive favorites to repeat this season, next season and into the foreseeable future. But it was good to see a good chunk of the Western Conference -- the Houston Rockets, Oklahoma City Thunder and Denver Nuggets, to name three teams -- not fold before the first card is dealt. That fact alone is incredibly important. The Warriors are still the best team in the West, without question. But if teams don’t even try to get better, or spend money to compete, the whole rationale for playing fades away. The Thunder could have rode Russell Westbrook alone to another first-round playoff loss, watched him walk out the door in free agency next summer and thrown up its hands, plead ‘woe is us and all small-market teams,’ and enjoyed a luxury tax-free life for the next few years. The Rockets could have just kept selling tickets to fans to watch James Harden and his pals shoot 50 threes a game for the next two or three years. It’s an appealing brand of basketball. Denver could have just kept building through the Draft, climbing a few more wins here or there for a while, and snuck into the eighth seed, choosing to be comfortable rather than bold. But they didn’t. They’ve called and raised. In all likelihood, it won’t be enough to beat Golden State. But those teams can sleep well at night. They’re not cheating their players, or fans. 2. So, is OKC now a legit threat to the Warriors? The short answer: no. But it’s closer. Carmelo Anthony will be as good a third option as anyone in the league has, though; he will eat regularly on the weak side as defenses scramble to handle Westbrook-Paul George pick and rolls; a quick seal and ‘Melo will be off to the races. If coach Billy Donovan goes small ball with Patrick Patterson at the five, there will be many nights when OKC drops a 130 spot. Yes, the Thunder’s defense is going to be an issue; while Enes Kanter was a sieve off the bench, he was coming off the bench, playing behind Steven Adams. Anthony will be starting and playing big minutes, many at the four. But it won’t matter most nights when the Thunder is up 20 to start the fourth quarter, after 36 minutes of Westbrook sorties, George 3-pointers and transition dunks, and Carmelo post-ups and spot-ups (he shot 44.8 percent last season on catch and shoot shots. Among forwards who played 30 or more minutes last season, per, only Kevin Durant, Otto Porter and Kawhi Leonard shot better). The Thunder can guard you with George, Andre Roberson and Adams and they can outscore you with Westbrook and George and ‘Melo. They have a solid bench (Patterson, Ray Felton, Jerami Grant, Alex Abrines) and Westbrook won’t be physically spent by the end of the 2018 playoffs. Wait; what am I saying? Of course he’ll be spent. But he’ll also be playing way deeper into May. 3. Did not getting Anthony hurt Houston or nah? The Rockets -- okay, Chris Paul -- wanted this done bad. It won’t hurt Houston in the regular season, when Paul and James Harden will dominate. And while Harden didn’t like Kevin McHale’s critique of his leadership, Mac was spot on. That doesn’t make “The Beard” a bad guy or teammate -- people gravitate to their comfortable roles in life, and CP3 is a natural-born leader. Harden will, one thinks, be more comfortable with slightly less light on him. They’ll do fine playing together and off one another. But the shadow of the Rockets’ implosion from deep -- 29 of 88 on three-pointers the last two games against the Spurs in their Western Conference semifinals series -- still hangs over them. Ryan Anderson was negated in the postseason. There’s a reason CP3 pushed for ‘Melo so hard. The Rockets will need unexpected consistent offense from a P.J. Tucker or Luc Mbah a Moute in May if they have any hopes of playing in June. 4. Can we just start the Cleveland-Boston East finals now? Maybe Toronto, with C.J. Miles shooting 40 percent on 3-pointers to complement Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, will break up what seems inevitable. Maybe Washington, with its super-solid starting five intact, now has the mental toughness to bust past the second round, where it’s been beached three of the last four postseasons. But it doesn’t feel like that. Boston, ultimately, should be a lot better this season than last. It will take a while for coach Brad Stevens to figure out the rotation and whether Jaylen Brown can really stick at the two, but ultimately, the Celtics have two dynamic playmakers/scorers in Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, and with Al Horford providing the glue at both ends, they’re going to be a load by the end of the season. And while Cleveland will have to wait a while for Isaiah Thomas, the Cavs have more than enough firepower until Thomas can make his debut. Whatever Dwyane Wade has left will be accentuated playing with James, and Kevin Love (holy moly, is he underrated) will feast drawing slower, bigger centers out to him on the perimeter. J.R. Smith doesn’t like losing his starting job to Wade, and he should be ticked. But he nonetheless will help Cleveland’s bench, which will be incredibly difficult in its own right with Tristan Thompson and Kyle Korver complementing Smith. And that’s before Thomas returns, which will put Derrick Rose on that second unit. There won’t be any rest for defenses who’ll then have to contend with a rested James, et al, coming back. It says here that not only will the Cavs not miss Irving offensively, they could be even more diverse and difficult to guard this season. Not to mention that James is supremely motivated to make an eighth straight Finals. 5. Could Curry break his record of 402 3-pointers in a season? At first glance, with Durant and Klay and Draymond (and, now, Nick Young) all needing to get fed as well, it would seem impossible for Curry to best the mark he set two years ago, on the 73-9 regular season team. But consider: coach Steve Kerr thinks a new guy always blossoms in his second year with the Warriors, which means Durant should be even more lethal offensively this year, as the Warriors’ offense reaches an even higher level of efficiency. And the way they move the ball, it’s not a stretch to think that with defenses tripping over themselves to get to Durant, Curry could get into one of those ridiculous grooves that could leave him within striking distance of 402 by the end of the season. 6. Could the last one in the Eastern Conference turn out the lights? The New York Knicks were hardly a power in the East before trading Anthony, but his departure creates one more team that will struggle to win 35 games this season. With the paucity of talent there should be at least four 50-win teams in the East -- Cleveland, Boston, Toronto and Washington -- with the Milwaukee Bucks knocking on the door. 7. Who’s going to regret their offseason? The Bucks were fine off the court -- their new arena is already more than halfway constructed and looks like it’s going to be a gem -- although the surrounding mall that is supposed to be part of the complex is not going up as quickly. But the Bucks didn’t address their bigs-heavy roster and move some of the surplus -- how can coach Jason Kidd keep all of Greg Monroe, Jabari Parker and John Henson happy with Thon Maker scarfing up more and more frontcourt minutes? -- for the shooting Milwaukee still needs. The East is so open, and Milwaukee is so close to breaking through into elite status with Giannis Antetokounmpo an elite performer. 8. Rudy Gay -- sneaky good pickup? Gay says he’s cool starting or coming off the bench for the Spurs, but he’d best as San Antonio’s sixth man, at least to start things. Bringing Pau Gasol off the bench didn’t work so well, so if he’s starting at center, coach Gregg Popovich can’t go small ball with “Cousin” LaMarcus Aldridge at the five and Gay at the four alongside Kawhi Leonard. (Current state of Spurs fans’ cuticles here and here as they consider a season with an extended Klaw absence if this quad injury doesn’t improve soon.) The Spurs could have some serious firepower in reserve if Gay and Patty Mills come off the bench, but Mills or Dejounte Murray will likely have to start at the point until Tony Parker comes back. 9. Speaking of Popovich … Should he and Steve Kerr and Stan Van Gundy stick to sports? No. 10. Who’s gonna be Kia Rookie of the Year? I say Markelle Fultz. What, you thought I was gonna pick against a DeMatha Catholic man? (Actual unretouched photo of me as a sophomore at the most successful high school in the history of the United States may or may not be here). Playing off of Joel Embiid, J.J. Redick, Robert Covington … it’s hard to see Fultz not looking really good when he should have all kinds of room to operate. Lonzo Ball will put up bigger numbers, and Tatum will be on a better team. But Boston was good last year, and Jayson Tatum will likely not play as much as the others. The Sixers are poised for a big jump up in the standings, and that’s always a narrative that voters like and get behind -- which is what will hurt Dennis Smith Jr.'s chances in Dallas. 11. What does Dwyane Wade really have left? Now that the inevitable buyout of Wade’s $24 million deal by the Bulls has led to the equally inevitable trek to Cleveland to play with James, can the 35-year-old Wade still be a significant contributor on a title contender? Given the general dysfunction in Chicago last season, you can dismiss most of the good and bad numbers Wade put up, with two exceptions: he still averaged almost five free throw attempts per game, and he shot 31 percent on 3-pointers -- not great, but more than double his anemic 15.9 percent behind the arc in 2015-16, his last with the Miami Heat. Wade obviously knows the cheat code for how to most effectively play off of James, so he’ll use the regular season to learn his teammates and be ready for the playoffs. But can Wade hold up over seven games defensively if he has to chase, say, Bradley Beal around, or try to deny DeRozan his preferred mid-range spots, and still be productive offensively? 12. Back to the Sixers -- how good will they be? My guess is they’ll pretty good in the 60 or so games I anticipate Embiid will play this season -- I’m assuming several designated off days for him during the season, not another injury. The mix of young talent (Fultz, Embiid, Ben Simmons, Dario Saric, Covington) and crafty vets (Redick, Amir Johnson) should mesh to make the 76ers a very tough team to defend. But Philly has to resolve the Jahlil Okafor situation, and in fairness to him, give him a fresh start somewhere else with a trade as soon as possible. If I were a good team that would be hard-pressed to add a free agent any time soon and feels a player short of true contention -- I’m looking at you, Memphis Grizzlies and Wizards -- I’d work hard to get the new, slimmed-down Okafor on my squad while he’s still on his rookie contract and make him the focal point of a kick-ass second unit. 13. Should we feel some kind of way about the Trail Blazers? I’m picking up what you’re putting down. A full season of the “Bosnian Beast” in the middle, it says here, will vault Portland into the top four in the West. Note I said “full season.” That means Jusuf Nurkic has to give coach Terry Stotts between 65-70 starts for the above premonition to be, as they say in the legal world, actionable. If so, Nurkic’s underrated scoring and passing out of the post will only make Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum that much more deadly out front, along with improving Portland’s defense. Per, the Blazers were 11.6 points per game better than the opposition with those three on the floor together and a +5 when their regular five-man lineup with Maurice Harkless and Al-Farouq Aminu joined the guards and Nurkic. And that’s pronounced, “Noor-kitch,” accent on Noor. 13. A little movie break ... Kevin Costner’s accent in “Robin Hood” -- worst ever, right? Yes, but Natalie Wood’s in “West Side Story” was painful, too. 14. Many have written the post-CP3 Clippers off. Should they? The Clippers are my darkhorse this season -- if they do the right thing and go small more often. They’re doing it more in practice so far than in games because Danilo Gallinari is working through a foot injury, but Blake Griffin at the five and Gallinari at the four could be spicy during the regular season. That would mean Sam Dekker and/or Wes Johnson would have to become credible and dependable at the three, allowing coach Doc Rivers to play a Pat Beverly-Milos Teodosic backcourt more often, which will just be fun. This would, of course, mean less DeAndre Jordan, and … that may not be the worst thing. Nothing against DJ, who is the best defensive big in the league, bar none. Unfortunately, the NBA isn’t about defense any more -- at least not in the traditional sense. Even someone like Jordan who doesn’t just block shots, but also helps snuff out opposing pick and rolls, becomes less valued by the league’s advanced stats crowd if he doesn’t contribute more offensively. The three has gone a long way to tyrannizing the defense-dominant big man out of the game. (Zach Lowe recommends the Wizards try to get Jordan via trade, and it’s not the first time I’ve heard that name mentioned in connection with Washington, the idea being the only chance the Wizards have of beating Cleveland or Boston is to slow them down enough defensively that Wall-Beal-Porter can try and keep up offensively. Washington is definitely a load when Wall gets locked in on D and creates turnovers, and the idea of Jordan inhaling lobs from Wall is enticing to think about. But the Wizards are not -- not -- going to take on a fourth big contract, and Jordan’s surely going to opt out after this season; he’s rightly expecting a massive payday in 2018, and the Clippers certainly now have motive and means to retain him.) Anyway, some Lou Williams, Austin Rivers and/or Teodosic and Willie Reed off the bench isn’t bad, either. 15. Could Kyle Kuzma be the best rookie on the Lakers this season? Don’t @me, LaVar. Kuzma has followed up a very strong Vegas Summer League with high notes in preseason, averaging better than 19 points per game for the Lakers. He’s been dazzling at times, displaying in-between skills that intrigue, and showing why so many teams were trying to trade back into the first round to get the Utah forward before L.A. snagged him with its second and much less heralded first-round pick last June. And there will be minutes available at the four this season. So far, Kuzma has displayed unusual strength for a rookie and confidence in his ability to score. Of course, he’s inexperienced, and like all rookies, has to differentiate between an open shot and a good shot. The other, more famous first-rounder, Lonzo Ball, will almost certainly be the better all-around player in time. For this year, though … hmmm. 16. What does a Hawks fan have to look forward to this season? Honestly, not much. But they’ll always be well-coached and get better. I’d pick one of the young players, like rookie John Collins or second-year small forward Taurean Prince, and concentrate on them during the season. See what they do with their minutes on the floor, and watch how they gradually expand their games at both ends. Seeing a young guy get better as he gains experience and accepts coaching is one of the great joys of watching the NBA every night. 17. Orlando? What gives there? The team’s new braintrust of Jeff Weltman and John Hammond will need some time to fix the roster -- a mélange of athletic wings that have trouble defending and guards that have trouble shooting. The former is addressed somewhat with the signing of Jonathon Simmons from San Antonio, but I don’t see a solution to the latter with any of the existing backcourt contributors. Unless coach Frank Vogel figures out some way to get more turnovers/runouts from his group, they just can’t get in transition enough for their length and legs to make a difference. 18. New Orleans? What gives there? The short answer is, I have no idea. All of NBA Earth has DeMarcus Cousins out of there one way or another (he’s an unrestricted free agent in ’18 and wants to be on a contender/the Pelicans will never pay him what he wants and will have to trade him by the deadline/no way he and Anthony Davis fit together/Wall agitates for a reunion with his former Kentucky big man in D.C./your departure theory here) by this time next year, but we’ll see what coach Alvin Gentry has come up with for “Boogie” and “the Brow” after a summer to think it over. Rajon Rondo being out hurts their depth, but I have to be honest -- I don’t see how he and Jrue Holiday can possibly work together in a backcourt, and Holiday’s the guy the Pelicans just gave $125 million to, so he should probably have the ball in his hands every night, shouldn’t he? I like Ian Clark and Frank Jackson down there, but that untethered three spot burns a hole in the New Orleans sun. Well, at any rate, should be more fun than watching reruns of My Life on the D-List. 19. Favorite D-List Muppet? Beaker. 20. LeBron is leaving Cleveland again after this season, isn’t he? Everything points to yes, and a relocation to Los Angeles to play with the Lakers or Clippers next year – except … what if the Cavs win it all again this year? That’s not an impossible scenario -- in fact, it’s a pretty simple one to lay out: Cavs run roughshod through the Eastern Conference in the playoffs again, get through a good but hardly great Boston team in the conference Finals and set up a fourth straight encounter with Golden State. It’s easy now to say the Warriors dominated the Cavs in last season’s Finals -- but only if you ignore the fact that Cleveland led by six with just more than three minutes remaining in Game 3, only to see the Warriors score the game’s last 11 points to take a 3-0 lead instead of 2-1. And given that Cleveland vaporized the Warriors in Game 4, a 2-2 series would have meant the Cavs just needed to win once in Oracle -- which they’d done twice in the 2016 Finals -- to have a real shot at repeating. The point is, the difference between the teams isn’t as big as Draymond Green would have you believe; the Cavs have no fear of the Warriors, and Jae Crowder gives coach Tyronn Lue a viable on-ball defender for Kevin Durant, leaving LeBron free to play off of Green. And: that unprotected Nets pick, whether one or three or five or seven, is Cleveland’s best recruiting tool. LeBron knows everyone in college basketball and he can literally pick whoever he’d like to finish his career with in Cleveland before handing over the reins. I’m not saying he’s definitely staying, either -- only that his departure isn’t the lead pipe cinch some would have you believe. The season to come will have a lot to do with his next decision. 21. So, how will the playoffs go this season? Eastern Conference (seeds No. 1-8): Cleveland, Boston, Washington, Toronto, Milwaukee, Miami, Detroit, Philadelphia Western Conference (seeds No. 1-8): Golden State, Houston, Oklahoma City, Portland, San Antonio, Memphis, Utah, Minnesota Eastern Conference semifinalists: Cleveland, Boston, Washington, Milwaukee Western Conference semifinalists: Golden State, Houston, OKC, San Antonio Eastern Conference finals: Cleveland over Boston Western Conference finals: Golden State over OKC (you heard me) NBA Finals: Golden State over Cleveland (in seven games) 22. Tell me something crazy that’s going to happen this season that no one’s predicting! Giannis Antetokounmpo. NBA MVP, 2017-18. 23. Are you high? No, ma’am. 24. So, why 24 questions? As always, we start the season with 24 questions (or predictions, or issues, whatever) in honor of Danny Biasone, the late owner of the Syracuse Nationals, whose discovery in 1954 helped save the league. At that time, the NBA was in the midst of a literal slowdown, in large part by teams that were desperate to figure out some kind of way to stay competitive with George Mikan, the league’s first superstar big man, and his team, the Minneapolis Lakers. Teams would hold the ball for minutes at a time without shooting in an effort to shorten the game and give them a chance to beat Minneapolis late. But the end result was boring -- very boring -- basketball. At the owners’ meetings that year, Biasone came up with an idea. NBA games were 48 minutes long. Biasone figured out that in a normal game, one not waylaid by the slowdown tactics, about 120 shots -- 60 per team -- were taken. So, why not just divide the number of minutes in every game -- 2,880 -- by the number of shots in an average game -- 120 -- to come up with some kind of a time limit in which a team had to shoot. And thus, the 24-second shot clock (2,800/120) was born. With the implementation of the shot clock in the 1954-55 season, scoring went way up, as did the quality of play. Teams were now running up and down the floor in order to try and beat the shot clock, complementing the “fast break” game that many colleges had played for years. But the new style in the pros was immensely popular with fans. And it still is. Plus, there’s just something iconic about that clock counting down every 24 seconds. It’s unique to the NBA. Thus, we ask 24 questions, in honor of the guy who owned a bowling alley as well as the Nationals for much of his adult life, and probably enjoyed the bowling more. 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 NewsOct 17th, 2017