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Lakers, Heat ready; bubble a triumph

Orlando—LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers begin the final challenge in their bid to return to the summit of basketball on Wednesday when they take on the Miami Heat team in game one of the NBA Finals......»»

Category: sportsSource: thestandard thestandardSep 29th, 2020

Another sports battle looms

So even if the NBA wars have finally ended with the favored Los Angeles Lakers taking Game 6 over the Miami Heat in impressive fashion and the PBA just starting its own bubble war, another battle is looming in the local world of sports......»»

Category: sportsSource:  thestandardRelated NewsOct 14th, 2020

LA not the only winner

The NBA Finals ended in the Orlando bubble yesterday morning (Manila time) with the Los Angeles Lakers capturing their first trophy since 2010, leaving the Miami Heat gassed out in a grueling series that took six games to finish......»»

Category: sportsSource:  philstarRelated NewsOct 12th, 2020

Lakers, Heat set stage for high-stakes NBA Finals drama

Orlando, United States --- Survive or celebrate — the stakes are the same for the Miami Heat and Los Angeles Lakers heading into game six of the NBA Finals on Sunday (Monday Philippine time) less than 48 hours after Miami’s riveting game-five triumph......»»

Category: sportsSource:  thestandardRelated NewsOct 12th, 2020

Lakers Davis says he ll be ready for NBA Finals game six

Anthony Davis insisted he'll be ready to go on Sunday when the Los Angeles Lakers try again to close out the Miami Heat for the 2020 NBA title, despite an early injury scare in the Lakers' game-five loss on Friday......»»

Category: sportsSource:  thestandardRelated NewsOct 11th, 2020

Spoelstra: Heat ready to respond

Orlando---Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra backed his team to bounce back after the Los Angeles Lakers closed in on another NBA championship on Tuesday......»»

Category: sportsSource:  thestandardRelated NewsOct 7th, 2020

Butler pasiklab ng triple double

ITINUMBA ng smiling assassin ng Heat sina Lakers superstars LeBron James at Anthony Davis sa Game 3 ng NBA Finals Linggo ng gabi sa Orlando bubble. The post Butler pasiklab ng triple double first appeared on Abante......»»

Category: newsSource:  abanteRelated NewsOct 5th, 2020

Miami will keep series close

Prior to the bubble re-start of the of the NBA, nobody talked of a finals’ match up between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Miami Heat. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  thestandardRelated NewsSep 30th, 2020

Celtics control second half, top Heat to win Game 5 in East

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Florida: Jayson Tatum and the Boston Celtics clearly are not ready to see the world that exists outside the NBA’s restart bubble. And a big second half extended their stay at Walt Disney World. Tatum had 31 points and 10 rebounds, Jaylen Brown added 28 points and the Celtics staved off elimination […].....»»

Category: newsSource:  manilatimes_netRelated NewsSep 27th, 2020

James, Davis power Lakers past Trail Blazers for 2-1 lead

By BRIAN MAHONEY AP Basketball Writer LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) — LeBron James had 38 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists, Anthony Davis scored 12 of his 29 points in the fourth quarter, and the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Portland Trail Blazers 116-108 on Saturday night (Sunday morning in the Philippines) for a 2-1 lead in the Western Conference first-round series. The Lakers shut down the high-scoring Blazers for the second straight game after the No. 1 seed was knocked off in Game 1. This was Portland's highest-scoring performance in the series and it wasn't close to good enough. Damian Lillard scored 34 points despite a dislocated left index finger and CJ McCollum added 28 for the Trail Blazers. They will try to even the series in Game 4 on Monday. Portland was down only three with about 9 1/2 minutes left. But Davis then re-entered and started scoring from everywhere, turning lob passes into dunks or stepping outside for jumpers. The Lakers' defense handled the rest, limiting the Blazers to just three field goals over more than seven minutes as they pushed the lead to 109-98 with a little more than 2 minutes to go. Carmelo Anthony added 20 points in his first good game of the series. He was 4 for 17 in the first two games and he started Game 3 with seven straight misses before making his eighth — by tipping in his own miss. The Blazers made a lineup change, inserting Hassan Whiteside to play alongside Jusuf Nurkic in a big starting five. The unit got Portland off to a good start and the Blazers nursed the early lead all the way through the second quarter without ever really stopping James, who was 5 for 6 for 15 points in eight minutes in the period. But McCollum capped his 13-point period with a 3-pointer from the corner at the buzzer, making it 57-53. James and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope combined for 12 straight points to send the Lakers from six down to a 70-64 lead. The Blazers came right back behind Anthony, who made three straight jumpers before a dunk on the break tied it at 72. The Lakers surged back ahead with a 10-0 burst that made it 89-78 and they led by seven entering the fourth. TIP-INS Lakers: Caldwell-Pope had 13 points. ... Davis missed four of his five free throw attempts in the opening minutes and finished 7 for 14. Trail Blazers: Nurkic scored 10 points. ... The Blazers were outrebounded 55-38. MISSING COLLINS Portland coach Terry Stotts said Zach Collins (left ankle stress reaction) was still in the bubble but didn't know for how long. The forward separated his left shoulder in October but returned to play in the seeding and play-in games before having to be shut down because of the ankle. “As much as we miss him, I just feel bad for him because he had put so much work into being ready for this,” Stotts said. “And because of the hiatus it gave him the opportunity to play this season, which we weren’t sure he was going to be able to have if there was no hiatus. So it looked like things were lining up well for him so it’s really disappointing for him.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 23rd, 2020

2020 NBA Champion doesn t deserve dreaded 'asterisk'

Take your asterisk and file it somewhere else. For former NBA champion Glen Rice, the winner of the 2020 NBA title will be a deserving one. It certainly shouldn't be subject to to any asterisks even as the NBA season was postponed for months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. If anything, the season delay and the fact that NBA teams had to be subjected inside the bubble for the duration of the playoffs plus an additional eight seeding games makes this year's champion all the more celebrated. "When you have what's going on around everyone, trying to maintain a safe lifestyle in the bubble, at the same time staying aware of what's going on outside the bubble and the nuances that can go as far as COVID creeping in there, if you can get champion out everything that's going on that's really easy to distract you from basketball, I think that's a huge plus for these guys," Rice said in an interview set up by NBA Philippines. "That just goes to show you how determined and focused they were," he added. The 2020 NBA Champion will be one of the few crowned during a season where teams played less than then 82 regular season games. The 2012 Miami Heat and 1999 San Antonio Spurs won their respective titles during lockout-shortened seasons. Still, those teams don't deserve asterisks shouldn't they? Do the 2019 Raptors deserve an asterisk because Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson were injured in the last two games of the Finals? Do the mid-1990s Houston Rockets deserve an asterisk because Michael Jordan chose to play baseball? Each NBA champion will be unique in their own way, Rice says there should be no reason why the 2020 NBA winner should be looked at any differently just because of the current world circumstances. "I think you will see a lot of people saying something different, perhaps having that asterisk. But I think more importantly, people need to realize is that this is different and I'm talking about in a positive way," he said. "This is something that we've never seen in sports. To crown a champion in this environment right now, I think that says a lot about the players and coaches who go out there and do what they gotta do," Rice added. The 2020 NBA playoffs tip off Monday (Tuesday in Manila) with the Milwaukee Bucks and the Los Angeles Lakers leading the East and West, respectively. The Bucks open round 1 against the Orlando Magic while the Lakers battle the Portland Trail Blazers. Defending champion Toronto Raptors take on the Brooklyn Nets while the Boston Celtics meet the Philadelphia 76ers. The Indiana Pacers and the Miami Heat complete the East bracket. In the Western Conference, the no. 2 Los Angeles Clippers open things up against the Dallas Mavericks. The Denver Nuggets take on division rival Utah Jazz while the Houston Rockets and the Oklahoma City Thunder duke it out in a best-of-7.   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 17th, 2020

NBA LIVE UPDATES - Toronto Raptors vs. Boston Celtics

The action inside the NBA Bubble continue to heat up as teams from both conferences continue to compete for playoff positioning!  The reigning and defending champion Toronto Raptors look to stay hot and keep their hold on the second seed in the Eastern Conference when they face off against the third-seeded Boston Celtics.  The Raptors are undefeated in the NBA restart so far with impressive wins over the Los Angeles Lakers, the Miami Heat, and the Orlando Magic.  It's been up and down for the Celtics so far, with two wins and two losses. They're coming off a huge blowout victory over the Brooklyn Nets.  Tip off is on Saturday, August 9th at 9:00 am! Join us for LIVE UPDATES! .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 7th, 2020

Feisty Magic foil Lakers; Heat, 76ers triumph at home

    Philadelphia 117, Brooklyn 106 Miami 106, San Antonio 100 Orlando 119, LA Lakers 118 Dallas 127, Sacramento 123 Chicago 115, Washington 106 Toronto 130, Oklahoma 121 Portland 117, Houston 107 Denver 100, Charlotte 86 Detroit 116, Boston 103 Indiana 104, Minnesota 99     LOS ANGELES (AFP) – Markelle Fultz finished with 21 […].....»»

Category: newsSource:  tempoRelated NewsJan 16th, 2020

The King reigns: LeBron James is AP’s male athlete of decade

By Tim Reynolds, Associated Press He left Cleveland for Miami, finally became a champion, went back to his beloved northeast Ohio, delivered on another title promise, then left for the Los Angeles Lakers and the next challenge. He played in eight straight finals. No NBA player won more games or more MVP awards over the last 10 years than he did. He started a school. He married his high school sweetheart. “That’s all?” LeBron James asked, feigning disbelief. No, that’s not all. Those were just some highlights of the last 10 years. There were many more, as the man called “King” spent the last decade reigning over all others — with no signs of slowing down. James is The Associated Press male athlete of the decade, adding his name to a list that includes Tiger Woods, Wayne Gretzky and Arnold Palmer. He was a runaway winner in a vote of AP member sports editors and AP beat writers, easily outpacing runner-up Tom Brady of the New England Patriots. “You add another 10 years of learning and adversity, pitfalls, good, great, bad, and any smart person who wants to grow will learn from all those experiences,” James, who turns 35 Monday, told the AP. “A decade ago, I just turned 25. I’m about to be 35 and I’m just in a better (place) in my life and have a better understanding of what I want to get out of life.” Usain Bolt of Jamaica was third for dominating the sprints at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, soccer superstar Lionel Messi was fourth and Michael Phelps — the U.S. swimmer who retired as history’s most decorated Olympian with 28 medals, 23 gold — was fifth. James was revealed as the winner Sunday, one day after Serena Williams was announced as the AP’s female athlete of the decade. In his 17th season, he’s on pace to lead the league in assists for the first time while remaining among the NBA’s scoring leaders. “When LeBron James is involved,” Denver coach Michael Malone said, “I’m never surprised.” Including playoffs, no one in the NBA scored more points than James in the last 10 years. He started the decade 124th on the league’s all-time scoring list. He’s now about to pass Kobe Bryant for No. 3. No. 2 Karl Malone and No. 1 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar are within reach. Is Abdul-Jabbar in his sights? Is catching him the new decade’s goal? “I would be lying if I said I don’t see it,” James said. “Obviously I’m not trying to say, ‘OK, well if I play this amount of time, if I average this’ ... I’m not doing that because I’ve never done that with my career. I’ve always just kind of let it happen. Whatever happens, happens. But I see it. I do see it.” His work ethic, even now, makes even those closest to him marvel. Here’s a typical day this past summer for James, who remains obsessed with working even though fame and fortune found him long ago: He’d wake up at 3 a.m. and be at the Warner Bros. lot by 3:45 — where a weight room and court, built just for him, were waiting. He’d be lifting by 4 a.m., getting shots up by 5:30 and be ready to start another day of shooting the remake of “Space Jam” that he has been planning for years by 7 a.m. “That’s who he is,” said Mike Mancias, one of the longest-tenured and most trusted members of James’ inner circle, tasked for more than 15 years with keeping James fit. “He does whatever it takes when it comes to fulfilling his commitments to everything — especially his game and his craft.” The 2010s for James started with “The Decision,” the widely criticized televised announcement of his choice to leave Cleveland for Miami. (Lost in the hubbub: The show raised more than $2.5 million for charity.) He was with the Heat for four years, went to the NBA Finals all four times with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, finally won the title in 2012 — “it’s about damn time,” he said at the trophy celebration — and led the way in a Game 7 win over San Antonio to go back-to-back the following year. “He grew immensely here as a leader,” Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said. “He impacted winning as much as with his leadership as he did with his talent. I think that was the most important thing he learned with us. And he’s been able to take that to different franchises and continue using that as a template.” Cleveland was devastated when he left. It forgave him. James returned home in 2014, took Cleveland to four consecutive finals, then led the Cavaliers to the 2016 title and came up with one of the biggest plays of his life by pulling off a chase-down block of Golden State’s Andre Iguodala in the final seconds of Game 7 of that series. And in 2018, he was off to LA. Going Hollywood made so much sense — he’s making movies, has a production company, has a program called “The Shop” as part of his ‘Uninterrupted’ platform featuring an array of guests from Drake to California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who signed a bill on the show that will allow college athletes to get paid for the use of their likeness and sign endorsement deals. “There’s a lot of moments from this decade that would be up there, winning the two Miami championships, winning a championship in Cleveland, the chase-down block,” James said. “But the best moment? Definitely marrying Savannah. That would be No. 1.” James and longtime partner Savannah Brinson got married six years ago. They already had two sons — both are very good basketball players already — and added a daughter in 2014. James also spent most of the last decade as a lightning rod for critics. He used his voice often on social matters, speaking out after the killing of unarmed Florida teenager Trayvon Martin and campaigning for Hillary Clinton. He supported Colin Kaepernick’s methods of protesting police brutality and racial injustice. Most recently, he was criticized by many — including top U.S. lawmakers — for his remarks after Houston general manager Daryl Morey sparked a massive rift between the NBA and China by sending out a tweet supporting pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. “I don’t live in regret,” James said. “There’s no moment in this last decade that I wish I could have back. If a situation was bad or you feel like you could have done better, then I learned from it.” He doesn’t know how much longer he’ll play. He laments missing time with his children. His “I Promise” school that opened in 2018 in his hometown of Akron, Ohio, has been an immediate success story, and he wants to see that enterprise continue growing. Some love him. Some don’t. He doesn’t mind. “When you believe in your calling or you believe in yourself, then it doesn’t matter what other people say or how other people feel,” James said. “And if you allow that to stop you or deter you from your mission, then you don’t get anywhere.” And in the 2010s, nothing deterred James......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 30th, 2019

Beware of early overreactions after the NBA s opening week

By Tim Reynolds, Associated Press Beware the overreaction. It’s an easy trap to fall into at this time of year: Look at the early numbers in the NBA, extrapolate those over 82 games and envision the statistically improbable somehow becoming real. Don’t do it. Atlanta’s Trae Young is averaging 38.5 points per game right now which won’t hold up over an entire season. Same goes for Houston’s James Harden, who isn’t going to stay at his current shooting rate of 24% from the field and 12% from 3-point range. Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo isn’t going to foul out of every game, either. And Golden State isn’t going to go 0-82. The Warriors may be the biggest disappointment of the first week of this NBA season, blown out by 19 at home to the Los Angeles Clippers and then by 28 — a game where the deficit was as much as 42 — on Sunday (Monday, PHL time) at Oklahoma City. “We’re just not that good right now,” Warriors forward Draymond Green said. “I don’t know a better way to frame that for you. I could try in Spanish, but I’m not really that good in Spanish.” They haven’t just lost. They haven’t even led yet — not for a single second. They got down 14-0 in the opener to the Clippers, then 8-0 to the Thunder. But to write off the Warriors — the five-time defending Western Conference champions — after two games would be beyond short-sighted. “We’re trying to develop an identity as a team and it doesn’t happen overnight,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “And when you play in the NBA every single night, you’re going against amazing basketball players.” Golden State still has Green and Stephen Curry. The Warriors added D’Angelo Russell. They won’t have Klay Thompson until late this season, if at all in 2019-20. The NBA Finals MVPs from 2015, 2017 and 2018 — Andre Iguodala and Kevin Durant — aren’t there anymore. It’s not starting over. It’s definitely a restart, though. The Warriors’ halftime deficit of 33 points on Sunday (Monday, PHL time) was their largest since 1997. “This is not where we finish,” said Omari Spellman, one of the Warriors’ new faces. “It’s Game 2. But there are only so many times we can keep saying that. ... We’ve got to compete.” The Warriors used 11 players on Sunday (Monday, PHL time), and seven of them were playing elsewhere last season — whether in the NBA or still in college. That’s why Kerr says the Warriors “don’t have a sense of who we are as a team yet.” “I realize I’m making plenty of excuses,” Kerr said. “But they’re real.” JENKINS’ PATH Champions of the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas don’t get rings. They get T-shirts. Memphis won the title this past summer, and Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins — who decided to coach the team in Las Vegas as well — keeps his championship shirt in his wardrobe rotation as a reminder of what happened over those two weeks. “I bust it out every now and then,” Jenkins said. The next championship will be a little bit tougher. Jenkins is one of two first-time NBA coaches this season, with Cleveland’s John Beilein being the other. Beilein is 66 and went to the Final Four twice with Michigan. Jenkins is 35 and his most notable experience as a head coach before now was in the G League. No one asks Beilein if he’s ready for the NBA. Jenkins — who has studied under Gregg Popovich and Mike Budenholzer — has heard that question a lot. “I’ve been preparing,” Jenkins said. He knows he still has a ton to learn, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t feel prepared for where he is. WHAT TO WATCH A game to watch each day this week (days in PHL time): — Tuesday, Oklahoma City at Houston: Russell Westbrook faces the Thunder for the first time. — Wednesday, Atlanta at Miami: Jimmy Butler is expected to finally make his debut for the Heat. — Thursday, Indiana at Brooklyn: Malcolm Brogdon guarding Kyrie Irving will be must-watch TV. (Also, if the World Series goes seven games, Houston’s basketball team will be in Washington while Washington’s baseball team is in Houston.) — Friday, San Antonio at L.A. Clippers: The Clippers have won their last five Halloween games. — Saturday, L.A. Lakers at Dallas: First matchup between LeBron James and Kristaps Porzingis since Nov. 13, 2017. — Sunday, Toronto at Milwaukee: A rematch of last season’s Eastern Conference finals. — Next Monday, Sacramento at New York: Kings have missed 13 straight postseasons, Knicks six......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 28th, 2019

Lakers ready to showcase a motivated LeBron James, hungry Anthony Davis

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com LOS ANGELES — On training camp eve, the atmosphere, scene and vibe at the team practice complex suggested the Lakers will welcome two new and bold additions when the season tips off in three weeks. One: Anthony Davis, do-it-all forward, rescued from the depths of the New Orleans Pelicans, desperate for a championship and perhaps in line for the next Kia MVP award, both of which would be his first. Two: LeBron James. Yes, it’s true this is LeBron’s second season with the storied franchise, but does last year truly count? In his mind, no, it doesn’t, because the Lakers and NBA were all deprived of his usual high standard of greatness and astonishing health in 2018-19. The health part betrayed him for the first time in his 16-year career, causing him to miss 27 games, mostly due to a persistently bothersome groin strain. The part about greatness didn’t necessarily and totally disappear; after all, LeBron did average 27-8-8, numbers that even stars would kill for. Except those numbers didn’t translate into a playoff berth, even when he returned from injury and the Lakers still had a chance in the final month. And that, by extension, generated motivation within LeBron to answer the criticism both real (only a scant amount) and imagined (a lot) that LeBron now approaching 35 is no longer the force he was. “Oh, man,” said teammate Kyle Kuzma. “He’s going to be a load this season, more than usual.” “He’s gonna show all those people who are underestimating him,” added Rajon Rondo. “The stuff I saw him do this summer, getting up early in the morning, first one in the gym, working hard, it’s gonna pay off,” Davis said. A changed LeBron? Well, it’s hard to imagine him being a more focused player than before, just as it wouldn’t be a stretch to suggest that, yes, LeBron could experience a slight drop-off in talent because Father Time shows no mercy to anyone. But it’s also quite possible the 2019-20 LeBron can and will do what last year’s version couldn’t: Push the Lakers to a championship or at the very least, a deep playoff run. He appeared refreshed Friday at media day — as he should with plenty of time off. Stoic at times and totally businesslike, LeBron spoke about the frustration of watching the playoffs — he stressed he “didn’t miss a single game” — from his couch for the first time since 2005. He also shared his anticipation of sharing the floor with Davis. “It’s exciting to have such a beautiful young mind, a beautiful player but also a great leader as well,” LeBron said about Davis, although the 2018-19 Pelicans might quibble with that last part. “I know the caliber of player that AD is. When Rob (Pelinka, the GM) and everyone upstairs did what they had to do to acquire a talent, person as AD, I was obviously truly excited. You saw how much time we spent together in the summer.” True enough, Davis and LeBron have been shadows of one another, with Davis spending time on the set of the “Space Jam” sequel, where LeBron is the star and Davis has a role, and also on the phone with Pelinka when the Lakers made decisions on the rest of the roster. The sight of Davis and LeBron, a pair of generational talents with one of them still in his prime, running the floor and causing problems for the other bench is what LeBron needed but didn’t have last season when the Lakers won just 37 games and missed the playoffs for the sixth straight season. LeBron plans to be as deferential as possible to Davis, who’s coming off a bitter end to a six-year run in New Orleans, in order to get the best from his All-Star forward. If that means LeBron must allow Davis to be the focal point of the offense, LeBron says so be it. "If we're not playing through Anthony Davis while he's on the floor, then it makes no sense to have him on the floor," James said. "Because he's that great.” The goal, obviously, is for LeBron to develop the same chemistry with Davis that he had with Dwyane Wade in Miami, and to get similar results — the Heat won a pair of championships and reached the NBA Finals every year with LeBron in the fold. The process is a bit more critical now because the Lakers sacrificed a chunk of their future to get Davis, and LeBron has only three years left on his contract. There’s also the notion that LeBron is in his sunset years although the insinuation, according to LeBron, is that it means he’s lost a step and a place among the league’s great players. While some of this criticism might be generated by his imagination, there was talk this summer — such as comments from David Griffin — that might have bothered him a little bit. Alright alright. Enough is enough. The throne has been played with to much and I ain’t for horseplay. Ether coming soon! ???????????????????????????????????????????? #JamesGang????? — LeBron James (@KingJames) August 1, 2019 “I’m very motivated,” he said, “but right now I’m in 'not talking about it mode.’ I’ve been very quiet this summer for a reason … but there’s some motivation for me. There’s a lot of conversations going on this summer and I’m just very quiet, very quiet. And I’m just going to maintain quiet, My mother always taught me, 'don’t talk about it, be about it.’ So that’s where I’m at. I think as a team, and myself, we need to get the Lakers back to what they’ve been accustomed to over the years. I’m excited about that.” LeBron needs Davis and yet, Davis needs LeBron just as much — the projected 2019-20 LeBron, who’s juiced by motivation, failure, an injury setback and all that chatter that he hears (or doesn’t) about his declining skills. Because without LeBron, Davis wouldn’t be here. Davis would either still be in New Orleans or staring up at the banners hanging from the ceiling in Boston and wondering how to duplicate that. Therefore, until further notice, the fate of the Lakers will rest with how much LeBron can distance himself from last season. The Lakers will require improved outside shooting and better defense (especially from LeBron) and obviously an MVP-level season from Davis to place themselves in the championship conversation. Then, all of the above are realistic. But it ends with LeBron, and isn’t this how it all started, with him? Shaun Powell has covered the NBA for more than 25 years. 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 NewsSep 28th, 2019

Summer League winds down, and now, maybe, some NBA rest

By Tim Reynolds, Associated Press They'll hand out T-shirts to the Summer League winners following the championship game between Memphis and Minnesota in Las Vegas on Monday night (Tuesday, PHL time), and then things will finally slow down a bit in the NBA. Maybe. And probably not for long. It's been a hectic month since Toronto won the NBA championship and the so-called offseason commenced. Already this summer, 18 current and former All-Stars have changed franchises, and that number will rise to 19 if Vince Carter finds a new home for his final season. Recent NBA Finals MVPs Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant and Andre Iguodala all were among those on the move. And another three past finals MVPs — Dwyane Wade, Dirk Nowitzki and Tony Parker — all retired. So when next season begins, very little will look the same. "I think there's going to be a lot of parity," Brooklyn coach Kenny Atkinson said. "That's my gut." NBA Commissioner Adam Silver expected this summer to be loaded with player movement, and wasn't complaining about so many big names — Durant, Leonard, Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, Anthony Davis, Paul George, Kyrie Irving, Al Horford, Jimmy Butler and many more — needing to file change-of-address cards. "At the end of the day, it's positive for the league," Silver said. "I will say, though, I'm mindful of this notion of balance of power, and I think it applies in many different ways. An appropriate balance of power between the teams and the players ... at the end of the day, you want to make sure you have a league where every team is in a position to compete." There were some clear winners in free agency: Brooklyn (who got Durant and Irving), the Los Angeles Clippers (who got George and Leonard) and the Los Angeles Lakers (who got Davis) were among them. It could be argued that the Oklahoma City Thunder won as well — no, they won't be as good this season as they were this past season after trading George and Westbrook, but general manager Sam Presti has enough draft picks now to enjoy flexibility for years. The losers are clear as well: Toronto lost Leonard and Danny Green and Golden State lost Durant, so last season's finalists certainly aren't favorites to be this season's finalists. It's also easy to say that New York lost after coming up empty on the big-name free agents, but the Knicks got plenty of good players on deals that ensure the team will have money again next summer. A lookahead at what's coming, and some notes on what's gone down: SO NOW WHAT? Any NBA withdrawal will really only last about three weeks, until roughly three dozen players return to Las Vegas for USA Basketball's training camp leading up to the FIBA World Cup in China that starts on Aug. 31. San Antonio's Gregg Popovich is coaching the Americans, assisted by Golden State's Steve Kerr, Atlanta's Lloyd Pearce and Villanova's Jay Wright. Zion Williamson, knee permitting, may take part in camp as one of the young players brought in to help the more-established pros get ready. If Williamson impresses, he may get a shot at joining the varsity club. Also, this season's NBA schedule is likely to come around the second week of August, if recent years are any indicator. WHO'S LEFT? Plenty of free agents remain unsigned, and that'll still be the case even in September as training camps get ready to open. It's still hard to see the Thunder keeping Paul, acquired in the Westbrook trade to Houston, so expect at least one more blockbuster trade before too long. Or can a player who is owed $121 million over the next three seasons be bought out? Stay tuned. Carter wants to come back for a 22nd NBA season, which would be a league record. If he gets into a game after Jan. 1, he'll also become the first NBA player to appear in four different decades. Jamal Crawford remains out there as well, and contenders should be calling him. LOADED WEST Philadelphia, Boston, Brooklyn, Indiana and Miami all likely got better in the East. Milwaukee kept most of its team that won an NBA-best 60 games. The East will be good. The West might be bloody. The Clippers, the Lakers, Houston, Golden State, Denver, Utah, Portland and San Antonio could end up as the eight playoff teams in the Western Conference. It's plausible; they're probably the most realistic eight picks right now. But at least four of those teams — most of them with superstar duos that are all the rage now — won't be in the second round of next season's playoffs. LONGEVITY AWARD For now, Golden State's Stephen Curry is the longest-tenured player under contract to one team. He's entering his 11th season with the Warriors. With Nowitzki (21 seasons with Dallas) retired, Mike Conley (12 seasons with Memphis) traded to Utah and Westbrook (11 seasons with Oklahoma City) traded to Houston, no current player has had a longer uninterrupted run with one team than Curry. But if Udonis Haslem re-signs with Miami, it'll be his 17th season with the Heat. THE NUMBERS Including the $196 million extension for Portland's Damian Lillard, a $170 million extension for Denver's Jamal Murray and another in-the-works $170 million extension for Philadelphia's Ben Simmons, NBA teams have committed to spend roughly $4 billion in new deals that were struck in the last three weeks alone. And that's with 100 more signings to come, at least. That $4 billion figure is twice what the total payroll was a decade ago for every team in the league, combined......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 15th, 2019

Five things we learned from Game 4 of the 2019 Finals

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com OAKLAND, Calif. – Five things we learned from the Toronto Raptors’ 105-92 victory over the Golden State Warriors in Game 4 of the 2019 NBA Finals on Friday at Oracle Arena: 1. Dynasties eventually become ‘die-nastys’ Will we get one more game at Oracle Arena? The scene of so much Golden State wonderfulness the past five seasons? A building about to be abandoned when the Warriors move from Oakland to a state-of-the-art arena across the Bay? Hold up. Asking one more game out of the Warriors seems a lot at the moment. These guys just suffered their second consecutive home playoff loss by 10 points or more, something that hasn’t happened to this franchise in 50 years. After three straight games scoring precisely 109 points, the Warriors came up 15 short Friday (Saturday, PHL time). They are 0-9 overall this season when held to double digits, and 0-11 in the playoffs during the Steve Kerr era, when they score 94 or fewer. And now they’re on the wrong side of a 3-1 deficit, lacking everything from certain healthy bodies to an edge, a sharpness that was missing in the second half. Granted, Golden State once held a 3-1 edge in a Finals, all the way back in 2016 … when LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and the Cavaliers chased them down and became the only Finals team to claw out of such a chasm. The Warriors did the same to Oklahoma City in the 2016 Western Conference finals. So they not only have a blueprint, they have the know-how and an opportunity to do it again. Like Kerr before him on Friday's (Saturday, PHL time) postgame podium, Warriors forward Draymond Green spoke of simply trying to win one basketball game, the next game, as the proper way to dig out of this series hole. But then he dropped his guard and mentioned winning three in a row, something the Warriors have done often. But they’re a whole year removed from doing that in a Finals (last year’s sweep of the Cavs) with a healthy Kevin Durant. This is a more worn-down, tired team. In fact, Game 4 was more than Golden State’s 102nd game of 2018-19, regular and postseason combined. It was the 102nd playoff game of their five consecutive Finals runs, which means they have crammed an extra season-plus into their schedules compared to the underachievers on lottery teams sitting at home. From the looks of it Friday (Saturday, PHL time), these guys are ready to be toppled, like the Lakers in 1989 and again in 2004, like the Heat in 2014 and the Cavaliers last June. The boisterous Raptors fans who staged their takeover of the Warriors’ building after Game 4 were merely mirroring what their favorite team did on the court from halftime on. Golden State could not stop it. Rudy Tomjanovich might still be inclined to scream into the darkness. (“Never underestimate the heart of a champion!”) But pride only takes you so far, and that’s mostly what the Warriors have left. 2. Third quarter? That’s Toronto’s now It took the Raptors more than 18 minutes to score 30 points Friday night (Saturday, PHL time), stymied by the pace of the game and particularly Golden State’s scrappy, hustling defense. Immediately after halftime, it took Toronto only 12 minutes to put up 37. The time of death for Golden State on Friday was immediately after Kawhi Leonard drained consecutive three-pointers – “F-you” shots, teammate Fred VanVleet memorably coined them – that boosted Toronto from a four-point deficit to a 12-point advantage. The Warriors already had played well enough to rightly feel they should have had a bigger cushion; falling behind so rudely seemed to buckle the defending champs. That they feel third quarters are their birthright made the switcheroo intolerable. “We had a big problem with the third quarter in Game 2,” Toronto coach Nick Nurse said. “We had to make some adjustment there to try to combat the way they come out of the half. We made the decision to put Fred in, [first] in Game 3 and then Game 4 again. Mostly it's to try to keep up pace of our offense going. It gives us two point guards out there that can push the ball, get it in and get it going, and it kind of paid off. “I know Kawhi's two big three's to start the half really changed the whole feel of everybody. Everybody was like, ‘Okay, man, we know we are here, let's go,’ and we just kind of kept going from those two three's.” For the Warriors, who have done that to so many others, turnabout was a pain in the rump. “Oh, this sucks,” Draymond Green recalled thinking as Toronto took control of the quarter. “It sucks really bad. You just try and do whatever you can to change it. Get a stop, get a bucket, get some momentum.  Every time we did, they answered.” Green was asked about the difficulty of rattling the stone-faced Leonard with whatever defensive tactic Golden State could muster, and brushed the question aside. “I don't think you're ever going to rattle Kawhi. Not sure we used that word one time in our scouting report, ‘We're going to rattle him,’” Green said. But it’s not just Leonard now. It’s the Raptors. Time after time, whenever Golden State revved up with a couple of scoring possessions, signaling to their fans they ready to make a run, Toronto snuffed it with a three-pointer or a well-executed pick and roll. They’ve got a team of Kawhis-in-training, unflappable lately if not as inscrutable. “Most teams will take cues from their leaders or their star players, so I think that spreads around a little bit,” Nurse said. But he also praised vets such as Marc Gasol, Danny Green, Kyle Lowry and VanVleet for how steady they’ve been. Now, with the temptation to imagine hoisting a championship trophy, the Raptors might be expected to buy into the stat that, of the 34 teams in The Finals who have led 3-1, 33 of them got their rings. But this team is so focused, so resolute in taking care of business down to the smallest and most mundane task, that all Nurse might have to do is remind them how many aspiring champs won three games in a Finals and still headed into summer empty-handed. (It's 19.) No trophy, no rings. 3. A surge from Serge The chemistry between Serge Ibaka and Kyle Lowry was evident in their playful banter on the podium Friday night. Each slipped into his role, Lowry as the instigator, Ibaka as the target of his playful jibes. “You joining me?” Lowry asked, as Ibaka got to the podium a half minute after him. “Serge Ibaka, everybody. You all know him. Nice outfit. Worth a lot of money. Is that jacket real leather?” “Yes, it’s real leather,” Ibaka said. "Pants too tight, he can't even sit down,” Lowry said. On court, Ibaka’s defensive impact and 20 points in reserve dampened a lot of Warrior enthusiasm. There are nights when Ibaka comes across like Chief in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” a large, lumbering and rather stiff option near the rim with very little to say. Some nights, he even seems to be asleep. But still waters often run deep, too deep for the Warriors in Game 4, it turned out. Ibaka’s here-today, gone-tomorrow shooting touch had him playing in a way that none of Golden State’s three centers – DeMarcus Cousins, Kevon Looney or Andrew Bogut – could match. “Once he gets into the series," Nurse said, "which he did in Game 3 with the blocked shots and the rebounding and stuff, he seems to stay in the series. He usually gives you all of it.” Said Lowry, about knowing when a Serge surge is coming: “He doesn't say anything. When Serge is effective defensively is when he's at his best. I think the scoring just comes. We're going to make sure he gets that pick-and-pop jump shot, he's rolling … When he brings that intensity and that fierceness, it's kind of tough to stop him on both ends of the floor.” 4. Stephen Curry had a bad game One of the most famous pieces of magazine journalism ever was entitled, “Frank Sinatra Has a Cold,” by Gay Talese, a profile written when Sinatra obviously was ill of body and temper, and didn’t even grant Talese an interview. So our headline kind of tells the story as his did: Curry, one of the top five players in the NBA and probably the greatest overall shooter of all time, was not his two-time MVP self. He wasn’t even the Game 3 version (47 points). The Warriors point guard scored 20 fewer points in this one, and was 2-of-9 from three-point range. He missed all five of his shots from the arc in the first half and he picked up some obvious frustration fouls. Curry played 43 of the 48 minutes, and Golden State was outscored by 11 points when he was on the court. “It wasn’t his best game,” Kerr said. Evaluating Curry, for the Warriors, was going to come down to breaking down video and keeping the faith. Evaluating him, for the rest of us, is getting complicated these days by a sense that Curry did not get his due in past Finals – at least in terms of winning the Bill Russell Award as Finals MVP. But that’s no excuse to don rose-colored glasses every time he hits the floor. As scintillating as his performance was in defeat Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time) as the Warriors’ only healthy threat, his Game 4 work was raggedy and unproductive. “They have been aggressive all series and trying to take space away from me and Klay,” Curry said. “I missed some shots early that I usually make, especially from the three-point line. But overall, I thought I got good looks.” Every game doesn’t need to be a referendum on the level of Curry appreciation. He might have deserved more consideration as Finals MVP in 2015, when Andre Iguodala snagged it with a strong performance in the clinching game. And even though Kevin Durant was an easy choice in 2017, there were some who felt Curry was more essential (including this voter). In some cosmic and just way, Curry probably should have been recognized with hardware somewhere among the three. But all signs are pointing to Leonard now, so Curry might have to muddle along with "only" those two Maurice Podoloff trophies for regular-season MVP, along with his All-NBA berths and assorted accolades, his ginormous contract and bounty of commercial endorsements, three rings (unless this series turns around) and a better life than most people who’ve ever walked the planet. 5. Durant to play in Game … 8? It’s possible that Durant will come walking through Rick Pitino’s proverbial door and seize what’s left of the championship series by the throat, playing like the two-time Finals MVP he is. Failing that, if there’s a Game 6, maybe that’s the night Durant at least does a Willis Reed impersonation, limping through the Oracle tunnel to a thunderous roar and hitting a couple of early shots to inspire his teammates to something special. (There still, alas, would be a pesky Game 7 for which to account, back in Toronto, likely muddying the drama.) Then again, maybe Durant doesn’t come back at all. For The Finals or with the Warriors, period. Speculation at this point is all over the map. Some think the Warriors planned to hold him out until things got really dire, to buy extra healing time and maybe not use him at all. Others now believe Durant’s rehab process of his strained right calf back-slid to some degree on Thursday, when he participated in a checkpoint workout with the training staff. A few folks think he never was going to return, regardless. After all, the All-NBA forward hasn’t played since May 8 (May 9, PHL time), missing nine fairly important games. This is a league where injuries typically face an “If this were a playoff game, would he play?” threshold. Durant has been nearly as absent from this NBA postseason as LeBron James. Look, all injuries are different, and even the same type of injury can have different timelines with different sufferers. Klay Thompson rushing back from his hamstring issue after skipping only Game 3 is at the crazy-resilient end of the durability scale. Kevon Looney basically rose from the ashes, giving the Warriors a rim runner and 10 points with six rebounds in 20 minutes off the bench. He had been ruled out for the rest of the series after suffering a rib cartilage fracture in his crash to the floor in Game 2. After anticipation of Durant’s availability got out in front of his reality for a few days, the chatter is more tempered now. There’s a shrug and a whiff of uncertainty folded into every mention. If Durant had his Thursday workout, he would have played Friday (Saturday, PHL time). If he had a setback … Heck, at this point it might be more pragmatic for the medical peeps to declare him out and let the Warriors who’ve come this far see this through, yea or nay. “As far as KD, there's been hope that he will come back the whole series,” Draymond Green said. “So that's not going to change now. Obviously we hope to have him, but we'll see what happens. We don't make that final call, he don't really even make that final call.  His body will tell him if he can get out there or not. And if he can, great. And if not, you still got to try to find a way to win the next game.” The Warriors had been holding out hope for Durant’s return as if he was their ace in the hole, imagining him with zero rust or rhythm issues once back and no limitations on his gait. But he has passed the “In case of emergency, break glass” point of urgent help possibilities. Now Durant resembles more the keg hanging from a Saint Bernard dog’s collar. It’s a nice idea, but when was the last time one of those dogs saved somebody who literally drank from the little barrel? Toronto is in a foreign land, by NBA standards. But it ain’t the Alps. 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......»»

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