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Raptors a win away from first-ever championship

By Janie McCauley, Associated Press OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Kawhi Leonard’s hot hand is sending the Raptors home to Toronto on the cusp of a startling upset for Canada. Leonard out-dueled the Splash Brothers for 36 points and 12 rebounds, and the Raptors moved within one victory of the franchise’s first championship by winning a second straight game on Golden State’s home floor, beating the Warriors 105-92 on Friday night (Saturday, PHL time) for a 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals. Klay Thompson made a strong return after missing Game 3 with a strained left hamstring and scored 28 points with six three-pointers in what might have been the final game after 47 seasons at Oracle Arena before the team’s move to new Chase Center in San Francisco next season. Stephen Curry added 27 points but shot just 9-for-22 and 2-of-9 from three-point range on the heels of his postseason career-best 47-point outing in a 123-109 Game 3 defeat. Serge Ibaka scored 20 points on 9-of-12 shooting in 22 minutes off the bench for the composed and confident Raptors, who for a second straight game found an answer to every Warriors threat at raucous Oracle — where home fans were stunned and silenced when the final buzzer sounded. A huge section of Toronto fans over, repeatedly singing “O Canada!” The two-time defending champions’ quest for a three-peat is suddenly in serious jeopardy. Toronto will take its first try at the title in Game 5 on Monday night (next Tuesday, PHL time) back at Scotiabank Arena. Golden State, still hopeful of injured star Kevin Durant’s return, must stave off elimination to guarantee one more game at Oracle. It would be next Thursday (next Friday, PHL time). Leonard’s 2017 postseason with San Antonio got cut short against the Warriors in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals after he re-injured his troublesome left ankle when Zaza Pachulia’s foot slid under his. He’s picked up where he left off in that game. Leonard’s two jumpers in the final 42 seconds of the third put the Raptors up 79-64 heading into the final 12 minutes. Fred VanVleet then dealt another dagger on the first possession of the fourth with a 30-footer. A bloodied VanVleet then went to the locker room with 9:35 left after being hit in the face by Shaun Livingston’s left elbow when the Warriors guard went up for a shot and VanVleet was just behind him. Replays showed a tooth in the middle of the key even after play resumed. These poised Raptors kept level heads again after falling behind by 11 points in the first half. Pascal Siakam scored 19 for Toronto. Two days earlier, Kyle Lowry was praised for staying calm when shoved on the sideline by Warriors minority owner Mark Stevens, who received a one-year ban by the team and NBA along with a $500,000 fine for the incident. Now, the Raptors as first-time finalists and in their 24th year of existence can bring Canada its first NBA championship. Toronto outscored Golden State 37-21 in the decisive third, a complete reverse of the Warriors’ dominance after halftime with an 18-0 run in the Game 2 victory. Draymond Green delivered another impressive all-around performance with 10 points, 12 assists, nine rebounds, two blocks and a steal. Warriors coach Steve Kerr challenged his team to do a better job defensively and Golden State did so early but couldn’t handle Toronto’s depth. Kevon Looney, a key backup big man, scored 10 points for the Warriors after it was initially believed he would be out the remainder of the series because of fractured cartilage near his right collarbone. He was hurt in the first half of Game 2. Looney drew huge applause as he checked into the game at the 6:45 mark of the first. Danny Green, who hit six three's in Game 3, began 0-for-6 with five missed three's before finally connecting from deep midway through the fourth. His 48th three-pointer in the finals tied him with Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher for seventh place on the NBA list. TIP-INS Raptors: Toronto overcame being outrebounded 29-18 in the first half and a 42-38 deficit overall. ... The Raptors were 10-of-32 from deep after making 17 three's in Game 3, but converted 23-of-24 free throws Friday (Saturday, PHL time). Warriors: The Warriors’ streak this year of 19 straight postseason games scoring 100 points ended. It was 25 dating to last season’s run. ... Golden State fell to 4-2 this postseason in games following a loss. ... Livingston played in his 100th career playoff game with the Warriors, the fifth in team history to reach the mark. ... The Warriors held a closed pregame shootaround 2.5 hours before game time. ATTLES’ PRESENCE Hall of Famer Al Attles, the Warriors’ former general manager, coach and player, attended Game 4. It was the first game in approximately eight months for the 82-year-old Attles, who has had health issues. DURANT’S STATUS Durant missed his ninth straight game since the injury May 8 (May 9, PHL time) in Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals against the Rockets. Kerr is done providing every detail and step of Durant’s rehab progress. “We’re hoping he can play Game 5 or 6. And everything in between I’ve decided I’m not sharing because it’s just gone haywire,” Kerr said. “There’s so much going on, and so it doesn’t make sense to continue to talk about it. He’s either going to play or he’s not. So tonight he’s not playing.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnJun 8th, 2019

Toronto s Nurse is most impressive coach says G League s Shaw

The 2018-2019 season was a milestone year for the Toronto Raptors. With Kawhi Leonard leading the way, the Raptors finished with 58 wins for their second-best regular season in franchise in history. In the playoffs, Toronto embarked on one of the most inspiring runs ever. The Raptors culminated their journey with a six-game conquest of the two-time champion Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals for their first NBA title. A lot of last season's success falls on the players led by Kawhi, but Toronto's championship win also coincided with Nick Nurse's first-year as head coach. This season, Kawhi is no longer a Raptor but Toronto retained the no. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs on the strength of their best regular season ever as a franchise. Toronto's success in 2020 makes Nurse's impact pretty evident. Despite losing their no. 1 star, Coach Nick still has the champion Raptors as arguably the team to beat in these years playoffs. "Hands down for me, the most impressive coaching job that I've seen this year was Nick Nurse and the Toronto Raptors. I was impressed last year in his rookie season as well," G League Select Team coach Brian Shaw said in an interview set up by NBA Philippines. "I think people expected for the Toronto Raptors to drop off because Kawhi Leonard is not there, but he had them playing competitively all season long. I still think they're the team to beat until somebody knocks them off," he added. Shaw says Nurse's genius lies behind his ability to cook up defenses to go against multiple teams and multiple star players. True enough, the Raptors are second in the NBA in defensive rating. Toronto is also no. 1 in steals among all teams in the NBA bubble. "I was impressed by his schemes, particularly defensively. Nick Nurse has shown the ability to take the other team's stars out of the game by using unconventional methods. I've seen games where he's played box-and-one, triangle-and-two, zone defense," Shaw said. "We know that whoever team's stars can beat you, what he does is throws the whole defense at those guys and see if the rest of the team can beat us. I think he's unique in that way, in some of the approaches he takes on the defensive end," Shaw added of Coach Nurse.   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 17th, 2020

Kobe Bryant left deep legacy in LA sports, basketball world

By GREG BEACHAM AP Sports Writer LOS ANGELES (AP) — Kobe Bryant inspired a generation of basketball players worldwide with both his sublime skills and his unquenchable competitive fire. He also earned Los Angeles’ eternal adoration during his two decades as the fierce soul of the city’s beloved Lakers. Less than four years into his retirement from the NBA, Bryant was seeking new challenges and working to inspire his daughters’ generation through sports and storytelling when his next act ended shockingly early. Bryant, the 18-time All-Star who won five championships and became one of the greatest basketball players of his generation during a 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers, died in a helicopter crash Sunday. He was 41. The crash occurred in the foggy hills above Calabasas, California, about 30 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press. A different person familiar with the case confirmed Bryant's 13-year-old daughter Gianna also was killed. Both of the AP's unnamed sources spoke on condition of anonymity because few details of the crash had been released publicly. Authorities said nine people were on the helicopter, and all were presumed dead. No names were released. Bryant lived south of Los Angeles in coastal Orange County for much of his adult life, and he often used helicopters to save time and avoid Southern California's notorious traffic. He often traveled to practices and games by helicopter before his playing career ended in 2016, and he kept up the practice after retirement as he attended to his many new ventures, which included a burgeoning entertainment company that recently produced an Academy Award-winning animated short film. The crash occurred about 20 miles from Mamba Sports Academy, Bryant’s basketball training complex in Thousand Oaks, California. A girls basketball tournament was scheduled for Sunday at the facility. Bryant, who had four daughters with his wife, Vanessa, dedicated himself to boosting women’s sports in recent years, coaching and mentoring basketball players around the world. Gianna, better known as Gigi, had a promising youth career. Bryant sat with her courtside at a Brooklyn Nets game late last year, clearly passing along his wisdom to his daughter. Bryant told Jimmy Kimmel in 2018 that Gianna wanted to play in the WNBA and recalled how fans would often approach him saying “you gotta have a boy, you gotta someone to carry on the tradition, the legacy.” Gianna took exception: “She’s like, 'Oy, I got this,’” Bryant recalled. Bryant retired nearly four years ago as the third-leading scorer in NBA history, finishing two decades in Lakers purple and gold as a prolific shooter with a sublime all-around game and a relentless competitive ethic that inspired strong reactions from fans and opponents alike. He held that No. 3 spot in the league scoring ranks until Saturday night, when the Lakers’ LeBron James passed him during a game in Philadelphia, Bryant’s hometown. “Continuing to move the game forward @KingJames,” Bryant wrote in his last tweet. “Much respect my brother.” On Saturday night, James said he was "happy just to be in any conversation with Kobe Bean Bryant, one of the all-time greatest basketball player to ever play. One of the all-time greatest Lakers.” News of Bryant’s death inspired an outpouring of grief around the sports world and beyond, but it was felt particularly painfully in Los Angeles, where Bryant was unquestionably the sprawling city's most popular athlete and one of its most beloved public figures. The Lakers’ next game isn’t until Tuesday night against the crosstown rival Clippers, but hundreds of fans — many in Bryant jerseys and Lakers gear — spontaneously gathered at Staples Center and in the surrounding LA Live entertainment complex on Sunday, weeping and staring at video boards with Bryant’s image before the Grammy awards ceremony. “I thought he was going to live forever,” Lakers great Magic Johnson told KCBS-TV. “I thought he was invincible. ... There was nobody who took more pride in putting on that Laker uniform than Kobe. Nobody. He was just special. We will miss him and we’ll remember him for his greatness, but let’s not forget how he impacted the world, too.” The NBA kept its games on as scheduled when the news broke, but the San Antonio Spurs and Toronto Raptors both took voluntary 24-second shot clock violations at the start of their game in honor of Bryant, who wore No. 24 for the second half of his career. Several other teams followed up by deliberately taking delays of 24 and 8 seconds, honoring both of his jersey numbers. Many players were seen crying before their games, and James looked emotional on the tarmac when he got off the Lakers’ team plane from Philadelphia. Bryant’s future appeared to be limitless in retirement, whether in sports or entertainment. He opened a production company shortly after leaving the Lakers, saying he was just as passionate about storytelling as he had been about his sport. He won an Oscar in 2018 for his contributions to “Dear Basketball,” an animated short about his relationship to the game. He also produced content for ESPN. In 2003, Bryant was charged with attacking a 19-year-old employee at a Colorado resort. He had said the two had consensual sex, and the charge was eventually dropped. The woman later filed a civil suit against Bryant that was settled out of court. Bryant's adulation remained strong in Los Angeles even during the sexual assault allegations. Bryant became one of the game’s most popular players as the face of the 16-time NBA champion Lakers franchise. He was the league MVP in 2008 and a two-time NBA scoring champion, but he also earned 12 selections to the NBA’s All-Defensive teams. He teamed with Shaquille O’Neal in a combustible partnership to lead the Lakers to NBA titles in 2000, 2001 and 2002. He later teamed with Pau Gasol to win two more titles in 2009 and 2010. A two-time Olympic gold medalist with the dominant U.S. team, Bryant retired in 2016 after scoring 60 points in his final NBA game. In December 2017, the Lakers hung banners retiring his No. 8 and No. 24 jerseys in the Staples Center rafters in an unprecedented double honor. Bryant looms large over the current generation of NBA players, most of whom grew up either idolizing Bryant or absorbing his work ethic and competitive spirit in the same way Bryant's generation learned from Michael Jordan. After James passed Bryant on Saturday, he remembered listening in awe to Bryant when the superstar came to speak at a childhood basketball camp. “I remember one thing he said: If you want to be great at it, or want to be one of the greats, you’ve got to put the work in,” James said. James later teamed up with Bryant on the 2008 U.S. Olympic team in Beijing. “He had zero flaws offensively,” James said. “Zero. You backed off of him, he could shoot the 3. You body him up a little bit, he could go around you. He could shoot from mid-range. He could post. He could make free throws. ... He was just immortal offensively because of his skill set and his work ethic.” Bryant was a basketball superstar for his entire adult life, and he grew up from a teenager to a respected veteran in the unforgiving Hollywood spotlight. He entered the NBA draft straight out of high school in 1996 after a childhood spent partly in Italy, where his father, former NBA player Joe “Jellybean” Bryant, played professionally. He spoke four languages and played a major role in the NBA's international growth over his two decades in the league, traveling the world and connecting with athletes in other sports and celebrities. The Lakers acquired the 17-year-old Bryant in a trade shortly after Charlotte drafted him, and he immediately became one of the most exciting and intriguing players in the sport alongside O’Neal, who had signed with the Lakers as a free agent. Bryant won the Slam Dunk Contest as a rookie, and the Lakers gradually grew into a team that won three consecutive championships. Bryant and Gasol, the Spanish star, formed the nucleus of another championship team in 2008, reaching three straight NBA Finals and winning two more titles. Between those title runs and before the quiet final years of his career, Bryant accomplished innumerable feats including an 81-point game against Toronto in January 2006. Bryant's final NBA seasons were dogged by injuries, but he still went into retirement with that jaw-dropping 60-point performance against Utah. ___ AP Basketball Writer Tim Reynolds contributed to this report......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 27th, 2020

The NBA’s East is loaded at the top, and might stay that way

By Tim Reynolds, Associated Press The West is used to being loaded at the top. The East, not so much. But a new year is arriving with a new look in the NBA’s Eastern Conference. The league will wake up on Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time) — the first day of 2020 — with six teams with winning percentages of .600 or better, the first time that’s been the case on New Year’s Day since 1998. “This is a tough part of the country, a tough part of our league,” Philadelphia coach Brett Brown said. He didn’t say “finally,” but he could have. Just last spring, Brooklyn got the No. 6 seed in the East playoffs at 42-40. This season, it won’t be inconceivable if two teams in the East reach 50 wins and start the playoffs on the road anyway — which would be amazing, considering that every 50-win team in the East since 1998 has gotten a top-four seed. Has there been a power shift from one conference to another? And can what seems to be happening in the East race last until April? “My gut feel is, I think it can,” Brown said. “To your overall question, is there a power shift, I’m biased but I think quite possibly.” That one could easily be argued. Going into 2020, the basic structure of the standings in each conference is basically the same. There’s a team that has broken a bit away atop the pack — Milwaukee in the East; the Los Angeles Lakers out West. Then there are five teams jostling for spots 2 through 6 — Miami, Boston, Toronto, Philadelphia and Indiana in the East; Denver, the Los Angeles Clippers, Houston, Dallas and Utah in the West. There’s a team around .500 hovering in seventh — Brooklyn in the East, Oklahoma City in the West. And then there’s a below-.500 team in eighth — Orlando in the East, Portland in the West. The East and West have split the last eight NBA Finals, so it’s not like there’s been a huge disparity in talent at the very top. But the West, top to bottom, has unquestionably been the stronger side of the league for some time. Things seem different now. “It’s really competitive and you have to like this,” Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said. “You have to enjoy it as a competitor. People have been disparaging the Eastern Conference for so long. You have some really good teams here in the East and the teams are proving it.” DECADE IN REVIEW There were seven different franchises with at least one NBA championship in the 2010s, Golden State leading the way with three followed by Miami with two. San Antonio was one of the five clubs with one — but a case could be made for the Spurs being the team of the decade. The Spurs had the most wins in the 2010s, whether just counting the regular season or adding both the regular season and the playoffs together. Oklahoma City was No. 2 in regular season wins, followed by Golden State, Houston and Miami. The fewest wins? That would be Sacramento, followed by Minnesota, Brooklyn, Phoenix and New York. But a special decade-long award for futility should go to Detroit and Sacramento — the only teams in the NBA that didn’t win a playoff game in the 2010s. The Pistons have lost 14 consecutive postseason contests since winning Game 4 of the 2008 Eastern Conference finals. Other high marks from the 2010s: Most points — Devin Booker scored 70 points for Phoenix against Boston on March 24, 2017. Most rebounds — Kevin Love had 31 for Minnesota against New York on Nov. 12, 2010. Most assists — Rajon Rondo had 25 for New Orleans against Brooklyn on Dec. 27, 2017. Most steals — Lou Williams had 10 for the Los Angeles Clippers against Utah on Jan. 20, 2018, and Draymond Green had 10 for Golden State against Memphis on Feb. 10, 2017. Green’s was part of a most unique triple-double; he also had 11 rebounds and 10 assists, but only four points. Most 3-pointers — Klay Thompson made 14 for Golden State against Chicago on Oct. 29, 2018. Most blocks — Poor Chicago. JaVale McGee had 12 for Washington against the Bulls on March 15, 2011, and Hassan Whiteside had 12 for Miami against the Bulls on Jan. 25, 2015. THE WEEK AHEAD A game to watch each day this week (PHL times listed): Wednesday, Dallas at Oklahoma City — The final game of the decade, and two West teams playing well. Thursday, Orlando at Washington — The first game of the decade, and two East teams that are ailing. Friday, Toronto at Miami — The Raptors and Heat are in the thick of the race, likely surprising many. Saturday, Philadelphia at Houston — Game 5 in a 10-game run of the 76ers are facing likely playoff teams. Sunday, San Antonio at Milwaukee — Begins a Gregg Popovich-Mike Budenholzer home-and-home that ends Monday. Next Monday, New York at L.A. Clippers — The Knicks have lost 13 of their last 14 against Doc Rivers’ club. Next Tuesday, Denver at Atlanta — The Nuggets, very quietly, are rolling along. The Hawks are not. ___ Tim Reynolds is a national basketball writer for The Associated Press. Write to him at treynolds@ap.org.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 1st, 2020

Woods comeback at Masters named AP Sports Story of the Year

By Eddie Pells, Associated Press A green jacket. A heart-melting embrace. A stirring return to the top of golf by one of the sport’s all-time greats. In choosing Tiger Woods’ victory at the Masters as The Associated Press sports story of the year, voters went with the uplifting escape of a great comeback over options that were as much about sports as the issues that enveloped them in 2019: politics, money and the growing push for equal pay and equal rights for women. The balloters, a mix of AP member sports editors and AP beat writers, elevated Woods’ rousing victory at Augusta National over the runner-up entry: the U.S. women’s soccer team’s victory at the World Cup. That monthlong competition was punctuated by star Megan Rapinoe’s push for pay equality for the women’s team and an ongoing war of words with President Donald Trump. Rapinoe’s efforts to use sports as a platform to discuss bigger issues was hardly a one-off in 2019. Of the top 12 stories in the balloting, only three — titles won by the Toronto Raptors, Washington Nationals and University of Virginia basketball team — stuck mainly to what happened between the lines. All the rest — including the blown call that cost the Saints a chance at the Super Bowl, a California law that threatens to upend the NCAA and Simone Biles’ dominance at gymnastics' world championships, set against the backdrop of the sex-abuse crisis consuming the sport in the U.S. — were long-running sagas that went beyond a single day or event. They painted sports not as an escape from the world’s problems but merely another window into them. It’s no stretch to say that the whole of the Woods saga — namely, the sordid, pain-riddled, decadelong prelude to his victory at Augusta National in April — would fit into that category, as well. His downfall began in the wee hours the day after Thanksgiving in 2009, when he ran over a fire hydrant outside his house in Florida, triggering an avalanche of stories about infidelity that would lead to the breakup of his marriage and play into the near-destruction of his career. Part 2 was the injuries. Woods came close but did not return to his dominant form after his return to golf following his breakup with his wife. And as time went on, his physical condition deteriorated. He didn’t play in 2016 or 2017, and at the end of '17, he conceded his back was so bad that his days of competitive golf might be behind him. There were four risky back surgeries. Woods also required a good deal of inner healing after a mortifying DUI arrest in 2017 that exposed his reliance on painkillers. Through it all, Woods somehow kept nurturing his love for golf. And eventually, he found his game again. He climbed his way back to the top. He had close calls at two majors in 2018 — the British Open and PGA Championship — and then won the season-ending Tour Championship, as good a sign as any that, at 43, he could take on the best and win. But regular tournaments are not the majors, and no major is the Masters. It was on those hallowed grounds at Augusta National where Woods set the marker, starting a decade of dominance that would redefine the game. He blew away the field by 12 strokes in 1997 to win the first of what has become five green jackets and 15 major titles. On that day, Woods came off the 18th green and wrapped himself in a warm embrace with his father, Earl, whose death in 2006 left an undeniable void in the player's life. Though there had been a handful of close calls between his U.S. Open victory in 2008 and the start of 2019, it was clear that if there was a single course where Woods could conjure the old magic and end a major drought, it would be Augusta National. As a four-time champion, Woods built a career on studying every inch of the layout, knowing every fault line and every sneaky twist and turn of the slickest greens on earth. But where, at one time, he might have overpowered the course and intimidated the competition, in 2019, he simply outlasted them both. He avoided mistakes while everyone else was making them. Instead of taking a lead into the last day, then never giving anyone a whiff of hope, this was a comeback. He started the day two shots behind. As AP Golf Writer Doug Ferguson wrote in his wrapup of the final day: “Woods never missed a shot that mattered over the final seven holes, taking the lead with a 5-iron to the fat of the green on the par-5 15th for a two-putt birdie, delivering the knockout with an 8-iron that rode down the ridge by the cup and settled 2 feet away for birdie on the par-3 16th.” When it was over, Woods came to the same spot where he’d met Earl 22 years before. He scooped up his son, Charlie, and held him in a long embrace, then did the same with his 11-year-old daughter, Sam, and mother, Tilda. “For them to see what it’s like to have their dad win a major championship, I hope that’s something they will never forget,” Woods said. Very few golf fans will. And in a sports year dominated by weightier topics, Woods at the Masters stood out — a comeback story that left people smiling at the end......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 26th, 2019

Siakam, Gasol sidelined indefinitely for NBA Raptors

NEW YORK: Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam of Cameroon and Spanish center Marc Gasol, key players in last season’s NBA championship run, will be sidelined indefinitely with injuries, the Canadian club announced. Siakam suffered a groin strain after awkwardly landing in the fourth quarter of a 112-99 victory at Detroit while Gasol suffered a left […].....»»

Category: newsSource:  manilatimes_netRelated NewsDec 21st, 2019

Leonard scores 24 points as Clippers beat Raptors 112-92

By Ian Harrison, Associated Press TORONTO (AP) — Kawhi Leonard got his ring, and the Los Angeles Clippers got another win. Leonard scored 23 points in his return to Toronto, Lou Williams had 18 and the Clippers won their third straight game Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time), beating the slumping Raptors 112-92. Maurice Harkless scored 14 points and Paul George had 13 as the Clippers evened their road record at 6-6. Before the game, Leonard received his championship ring from the 2018-19 season, when he helped Toronto beat Golden State in six games for the franchise’s first NBA title. Clippers guard Patrick Beverley scored 11 points in 19 minutes before leaving in the third quarter because of a concussion. Beverley collided with Marc Gasol’s shoulder as the Raptors center was setting a screen. Pascal Siakam scored 24 points, Norman Powell had 22 and OG Anunoby 13 as the Raptors lost for the fourth time in five games and dropped their third straight at home. Toronto set a franchise record with nine straight home victories to begin the season. The Raptors shot 8 for 35 from 3-point range, their worst mark of the season. Toronto matched a season low with 31 field goals. They also had 31 in a Nov. 29 (Nov. 30, PHL time) win at Orlando. Following a pregame video tribute, Leonard’s former teammates, along with coaches and team executives, gathered in a circle at center court. As the sold-out crowd roared with approval, Leonard embraced each player in turn before guard Kyle Lowry presented him with his ring. After slipping it on, Leonard raised his arms and waved. Leonard was held to 12 points, a season low at the time, when the Raptors visited the Clippers on Nov. 11 (Nov. 12, PHL time). The three-time All-Star and two-time NBA Finals MVP shot 1 for 11 in that game, but Los Angeles won 98-88. Leonard shot 8 for 14 Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time), going 2 for 4 from 3-point range and 5 for 5 from the free throw line. He returned after sitting out Monday’s (Tuesday, PHL time) win at Indiana because of a sore left knee. Leonard has missed seven of the Clippers’ 26 games this season. Anunoby scored nine points in the first and the Raptors went 6 for 6 at the free throw line to lead 32-27 after one. Toronto led 36-34 on a basket by Rondae Hollis-Jefferson with 9:21 remaining in the second, but the Clippers outscored the Raptors 30-10 over the rest of the quarter to take a 64-46 halftime lead. Williams scored 13 points in the second, one fewer than the Raptors had as a team. Toronto shot 5 for 22 in the quarter, going 0 for 9 from 3-point range. The only time this season the Raptors have scored fewer points in a quarter was their Nov. 11 road loss to the Clippers, when they scored 10 points in the fourth. Powell scored 12 points in the third, and Toronto cut the gap to 76-71 on a basket by Siakam with 3:43 left in the quarter, but Leonard scored five points as the Clippers used a 12-0 run to take an 88-71 lead into the fourth. TIP-INS Clippers: Coach Doc Rivers said G Rodney McGruder, who has missed six straight games because of a strained right hamstring, might return Friday (Saturday, PHL time) at Minnesota. … Williams led the Clippers with eight assists. Raptors: Lowry scored six points in the first quarter but didn’t score again, missing his final six field goal attempts and shooting 0 for 7 from 3-point range. … G Fred VanVleet (right knee) sat for the second straight game. … F Patrick McCaw returned after missing 17 games because of left knee surgery. … Gasol led Toronto with 11 rebounds. UP NEXT Clippers: Visit the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday (Saturday, PHL time). Raptors: Host the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday (Sunday, PHL time)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 12th, 2019

Eric Paschall scores 25 points as Warriors hold off Bulls

By Janie McCauley, Associated Press SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Eric Paschall scored 25 points and the Golden State Warriors emphatically closed out a tight game after their failure two days earlier, holding off the Chicago Bulls 104-90 on Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time) for just their second win at new Chase Center. Alec Burks added 23 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists in just the second win in 12 games for Golden State, which squandered a late lead Monday night (Tuesday, PHL time) in losing 100-97 to Oklahoma City while allowing the Thunder to score the game’s final 13 points. The Warriors snapped a three-game losing streak. The Warriors had been down to just eight healthy players Monday (Tuesday, PHL time) but welcomed back one key reinforcement in this one: Draymond Green returned from a three-game absence because of a sore right heel and contributed seven points, eight assists and five rebounds in 24 minutes. Zach LaVine had 36 points, five rebounds and five assists for the Bulls, who now will try to avenge a 117-94 home loss to the Trail Blazers on Monday night (Tuesday, PHL time) when they travel to Portland to play Friday (Saturday, PHL time). Golden State struggled to take care of the ball or make stops down the stretch against Oklahoma City, then worked to be the aggressor in this game. The Warriors jumped in the passing lanes on defense to create transition baskets and plays like Paschall’s timely dunk that put his team ahead 88-83 with 5:17 remaining. Bulls coach Jim Boylen noted before the game Chicago needed to make more shots but the Bulls went 16 for 44 in the first half to trail 53-48 at the break — contributing to Golden State’s 35 rebounds after two quarters, 10 by Omari Spellman in 11.5 minutes. Spellman wound up with 13 points and 11 rebounds off the bench for his fifth career double-double and first with the Warriors. Bulls forward Chandler Hutchison, sidelined for two games last week with soreness in his shins, was in the starting lineup but played only two minutes, not a great sign one game after he came back to score six points and grab three rebounds in seven minutes late in the loss to Portland. TIP-INS Bulls: F Luke Kornet played 10 minutes in his return from an eight-game absence following sinus surgery. ... G Ryan Arcidiacono played after he was a game-time decision with a sprained right elbow. ... The Bulls are now 1-1 on the road vs. the Western Conference. ... G Otto Porter Jr. missed his 10th consecutive game with a bone bruise in his left foot. ... Chicago has been swept in the past two season series vs. Golden State. Warriors: Paschall had his sixth 20-point performance, third-most among rookies. ... Golden State’s rebounding advantage finished at 54-42. ... D'Angelo Russell missed his sixth game in a row with a sprained right thumb but is expected to travel on the team’s upcoming road trip and will be re-evaluated Saturday (Sunday, PHL time). ... Alen Smailagi?, nursing a sprained right ankle that has kept him out all of the preseason and season so far, is practicing with the G-League Warriors and will play for them Friday (Saturday, PHL time). G Damion Lee also was re-evaluated and was scheduled for an X-ray on his non-displaced right hand fracture that would better determine his status. ... G Jacob Evans III (left adductor strain) is scheduled to be re-evaluated Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time). ... Golden State has won five straight against the Bulls and five in a row at home in the Bay Area. ... The Warriors are 2-7 at home. SIDELINE KLAY Klay Thompson is sidelined recovering from knee surgery and got to work the sideline. The Splash Brother served as a sideline reporter in the second quarter from a table off the end of Golden State’s bench, a new gig for the All-Star guard. General manager Bob Myers, using the foam roller on a mat in the weight room, inquired to Thompson when he entered the locker room. “Hey Klay, you ready for sideline tonight?” Thompson: “Yeah, I’m dropping knowledge.” Before his stint began, he took time to sign a quick autograph, then sat down and settled in as if in his element — sporting a big grin. Thompson had surgery July 2 for a torn ACL in his left knee that he injured in Game 6 of the NBA Finals, when the Toronto Raptors won to clinch the franchise’s first championship. 3-POINT STAT The Warriors went 11 for 29 from 3-point range to the Bulls’ 10 of 29. QUOTEABLE Boylen on the Warriors: "The names maybe have changed but their spirit, their soul and the way they play, the way they compete I don't think has changed at all. So give them a lot of credit for that." UP NEXT Bulls: At Trail Blazers on Friday (Saturday, PHL time) to conclude the season series spanning just five days. The Bulls have lost the last six meetings, including two in a row at Portland. Warriors: At Miami on Friday (Saturday, PHL time) to begin a five-game East Coast road trip that will wrap up a stretch with nine of 11 games away from Chase Center......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 28th, 2019

21 active stars who should have their jersey retired someday

By Sekou Smith, NBA.com Tony Parker is the latest all-time great to see his jersey raised to the rafters for his years of service in San Antonio. But he won’t be the last of his generation to be honored that way. Parker’ big night in San Antonio generated some interesting conversation about who, among current NBA players only, would be in line for similar honors someday. Keep in mind that the standards for a retired jersey with one franchise differs from one to another. Winning titles in Los Angeles or Boston -- or even Chicago or Golden State -- is a tougher sell than it is where there aren’t already multiple championship banners. Accomplishments matter … and so does sentiment, too. There are always unique variables at work when it comes to retiring jerseys, which is a much more significant honor than inducting a player into a franchise’s ring of honor. With Parker’s star-studded ceremony still fresh in our minds, here’s a list of other stars who will one day be able to see their jerseys up in the rafters: * * * LeBron James (Cavs and Heat): If there is anyone that’s an absolute lock to see his jersey raised high when he calls it a career, it’s LeBron. He delivered Cleveland a title, ending the city’s 52-year title drought, in his second stint with what is essentially his hometown team. Before that, he was the catalyst for the Heat’s four straight Finals trips (2011-14) and back-to-back titles in 2012 and 2013. The standard to join the Lakers’ retired-jersey fraternity is tougher, of course. The greatest Lakers get statues -- a fate that might await LeBron in Cleveland one day. Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala (Warriors): Also known as the “Hamptons 5”, they will all be immortalized someday by Golden State. All five played a role in the championship fun and excitement they generated during the franchise’s golden era of the past half-decade. You can make case for all five of them to enjoy jersey retirement ceremonies on their own. That, however, would go against everything their “Strength In Numbers” era was about. Rest assured, though, that all five of them will have their day. James Harden (Rockets): Harden started his career as a super sixth man in Oklahoma City before rewriting his legacy after a trade to Houston. He’s already one of the most prolific and creative scorers the league has seen. The Rockets have had their fair share of legendary players and know what it’s like to bask in the championship glow provided by the rise of a transcendent player. Harden’s jersey will be in good company some day, perhaps right next to Hakeem Olajuwon’s No. 34. Russell Westbrook (Thunder): In an era where nearly every other elite superstar of his generation made a move via trade or free agency, Westbrook stuck to his roots in Oklahoma City until he had no choice but to move on. He endeared himself to generations of OKC fans by playing at a fever pitch from start to finish, earning All-Star, All-NBA and Kia MVP honors there. Being a part of a Finals team with Durant and Harden helped cement his legacy. Although he’s now in Houston, he’ll always have a place in the hearts of Thunder fans. Damian Lillard (Blazers): Lillard personifies the values of a basketball-mad fan base in a city that adores its team and stars in a unique way. The Blazers did their homework on the unheralded point guard from Weber State and have enjoyed everything that’s happened since. From his Kia Rookie of the Year campaign in 2013 to today, he has played out better than anyone could have imagined. Lillard, one of the most underappreciated stars of his generation, couldn’t have found a better match in a city and franchise. Giannis Antetokounmpo (Bucks): The rise of the "The Greak Freak" from obscure prospect to Kia MVP in just six seasons gives his story extra dramatic flair. His relentless work ethic helped change the culture in Milwaukee and branded him as a potential successor to James as the face of the league. The fact that he authored the greatest individual season in Bucks history since Kareem-Abdul Jabbar’s days has carved out a permanent space for Antetokounmpo’s jersey in franchise lore. Kemba Walker (Hornets): The face of the franchise in Charlotte for the first eight years of his career, Walker has since moved on to Boston. But he remains the Hornets’ career leader in several categories and was a beloved fan favorite for a team that never achieved any sustained postseason success. Few players of his or any era forged a connection to a city and franchise as Walker did with Charlotte. Derrick Rose (Bulls): Born and raised in Chicago, Rose (at 22) became the youngest player to win the Kia MVP in 2011. He also joined Michael Jordan and Elton Brand as the only Bulls to win Rookie of the Year honors. Even though knee injuries derailed his career in his hometown, he piled up enough early career accolades to one day be honored with a retired jersey. Although he never led the franchise back to championship prominence, he is the the most decorated Bull since MJ. Vince Carter (Raptors): How many players can say they served as the basketball inspiration for an entire nation? Carter can. His time with the Raptors served as the spark for generations of future NBA players, many of whom have gotten the chance to play with their childhood idol in the twilight of his future Hall of Fame career. His five seasons with the New Jersey Nets solidified his status as one of the best players of his generation. But his star was never brighter than it was from 1998-2004 when “Vinsanity” inspired Canada. Marc Gasol and Mike Conley (Grizzlies): These two should grit and grind their way to the rafters in Memphis, on the same night if possible. They helped usher in the greatest run in franchise history, spearheading a feisty and physical style that spoke to the city’s blue-collar ways. The “Grit and Grind” Grizzlies validated their rise to prominence with a West finals run in 2013 steered by Gasol and Conley. Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan (Raptors): Lowry and his best buddy DeRozan were separated before they could realize their dreams of winning a title together in Toronto. Lowry realized it last season alongside Kawhi Leonard, thus cementing his legacy as an all-time great Raptor. He’ll always have a place to call home north of the border because of the franchise-altering success that took place on his watch. DeRozan was a fan favorite who wanted to finish his career in Toronto. He, too, will always have a home in the city. Blake Griffin and Chris Paul (Clippers): The LA end for these two was messier than it should have been, especially since they oversaw the “Lob City” era that revitalized the franchise. Time will surely heal all wounds, somewhere down the road. History will be kinder to the Clippers’ climb out of the doldrums than anyone was during their injury-tortured run. Griffin and Paul are locks for the Hall of Fame one day. Plus, a franchise without much history to celebrate could use a couple of jerseys to jazz up their new building. Kawhi Leonard (Raptors): Is a one-year surreal playoff run enough to warrant franchise immortality? Clippers fans are hoping Kawhi and Paul George give them a reason to raise their jerseys to the rafters someday, too. Right now, Leonard is a seeming lock for the honor with the Raptors, where his brief-but-fruitful stay there gave their rabid fan base their first NBA championship. Dwight Howard (Magic): After his first eight seasons in Orlando, Howard had a near slam-dunk case for the Hall of Fame and retired jersey status. Yes, his exit from Orlando was messy. And he has yet to find a way to part ways with any of the other franchises on good terms. Still, you can’t overlook his Magic-era feats: All-Star berths, three Kia Defensive Player of the Year awards, five All-NBA first team nods and a Finals trip in 2009. Sekou Smith is a veteran NBA reporter and NBA TV analyst. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 13th, 2019

Clippers beat Trail Blazers 107-101 for Rivers 900th win

By Beth Harris, Associated Press LOS ANGELES (AP) — Lou Williams made a go-ahead jumper with 58 seconds left, then added a 3-pointer and finished with 26 points to lift the Los Angeles Clippers over the Portland Trail Blazers 107-101 on Thursday night (Friday, PHL time) for coach Doc Rivers' 900th career victory. Rare air for @DocRivers. Congrats, coach! pic.twitter.com/PyeKG4BIL6 — LA Clippers (@LAClippers) November 8, 2019 Kawhi Leonard had 27 points, 13 rebounds and six turnovers after missing a nationally televised loss to Milwaukee the previous night as part of load management for his knee. Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum led Portland with 22 points apiece, but both got blanked in the fourth quarter of the Blazers' third straight loss. That's when Anfernee Simons scored 16 of his 17 points, including Portland's first 12. Leonard sealed the win with four straight free throws as fans chanted "MVP! MVP!" The Clippers rallied from eight points down early in the fourth, taking their first lead on Leonard's basket. The Blazers tied it 98-all on a three-point play by Hassan Whiteside. Williams' jumper put the Clippers ahead for good and he followed it up with a 3. Rivers became the 13th coach in NBA history to reach 900 wins. Los Angeles improved to 5-1 at home. The Blazers regained the lead in the third, outscoring the Clippers 36-23. Portland tied it 61-all on McCollum's 3-pointer, spurring an 18-7 run that sent the Blazers into the fourth leading 76-70. TIP-INS Trail Blazers: McCollum received a flagrant-1 foul late in the second quarter after his right foot hit Patrick Patterson in the face on a fadeaway jumper. Patterson landed near the LA bench. ... Their 40 points in the first half were the fewest in a half this season. Clippers: Leonard went over 3,000 rebounds in his career, while Ivica Zubac went over 700 boards. ... Won the second half of a back-to-back for the second time this season. GOING RETRO To celebrate the franchise's 50th anniversary, the Clippers wore Buffalo Braves-styled orange and black trimmed jerseys representing their years in New York state from 1970-78. The first 5,000 fans received tube socks. The Blazers also are marking 50 years in existence. UP NEXT Trail Blazers: Host the Brooklyn Nets on Friday (Saturday, PHL time) in the second game of a back-to-back, their second of the season. Clippers: Host the Toronto Raptors on Monday (Tuesday, PHL time) in Leonard's first game against the team he led to its first NBA championship last season......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 8th, 2019

Korkmaz hits late 3-pointer, 76ers top Trail Blazers 129-128

By The Associated Press PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Furkan Korkmaz made a 3-pointer with 0.4 seconds left and the Philadelphia 76ers rallied for their fifth straight victory to start the season, 129-128 over the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday night (Sunday, PHL time). ???????????? ???????????? ???????????????????????? ???????????????????????????? pic.twitter.com/f52lsN1tp3 — Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) November 3, 2019 Anfernee Simons made a corner 3-pointer with 2.2 seconds left to put Portland in front, but the Sixers got the ball back after a timeout to set up Korkmaz's falling-down, 24-footer for the win — without suspended center Joel Embiid. Philadelphia is the last undefeated team in the NBA with its first 5-0 start since 2000-01. Embiid served the first of a two-game suspension for an altercation with Minnesota's Karl-Anthony Towns during the 76ers' 117-95 home victory Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time). Al Horford added 25 points for Philadelphia. Damian Lillard led Portland with 33 points, hitting eight of Portland's 19 3-pointers. BUCKS 115, RAPTORS 105 MILWAUKEE (AP) — Giannis Antetokounmpo had 36 points, 15 rebounds and eight assists to lead Milwaukee past Toronto in the first meeting between the teams since the Eastern Conference finals. Eric Bledsoe added 14 points and five assists, and Khris Middleton and Brook Lopez each had 11 points. The Bucks had the best record in the East last season and took a 2-0 lead over the Raptors in the conference finals, but Toronto took the next four en route to its first NBA championship. In this rematch, Kyle Lowry scored a season-high 36 points and Pascal Siakam had 16 for Toronto. PISTONS 113, NETS 109 DETROIT (AP) — Andre Drummond had 25 points and 20 rebounds, Bruce Brown added career highs of 22 points and seven assists and Detroit beat Brooklyn. Luke Kennard finished with 24 points and helped seal it with a driving basket and two free throws in the final 30 seconds of both teams' second game in two nights. Drummond had at least 20 points and 20 rebounds for the third straight game and fourth time in seven games this season. He added six assists, five blocks and three steals. Kyrie Irving had his first triple-double with Brooklyn with 20 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists. Taurean Prince added 20 points. SUNS 114, GRIZZLIES 105 MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Devin Booker scored 21 points and Aron Baynes hit a career-high four 3-pointers and had 20 points in Phoenix's victory over Memphis. The two combined to shoot 14 of 23 from the field and the Suns finished at 50%, going 14 of 34 from 3-point range. Kelly Oubre Jr. added 15 points and Frank Kaminsky had 14. Rookie Ja Morant led Memphis with 24 points and seven assists, Dillon Brooks and Brandon Clarke each had 16 points, and Clarke added 11 rebounds. HORNETS 93, WARRIORS 87 SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Terry Rozier made a short go-ahead jumper and added two free throws with 4.9 seconds left after missing three straight, and Charlotte held off injury-depleted Golden State. Dwayne Bacon scored 25 points while Rozier finished with 20 points and seven assists to help the Hornets win their second straight after back-to-back losses to the Lakers and Clippers. Erich Paschall had a season-high 25 points for Golden State while starting in place of injured Draymond Green. Green suffered a torn ligament in his left index finger on Friday night (Saturday, PHL time), joining a long list of injured Warriors. Golden State is 1-5. NUGGETS 91, MAGIC 87 ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Jamal Murray scored 22 points, Nikola Jokic had 20 points and seven rebounds and both made big late plays to help Denver beat Orlando. Jokic hit a shot from the corner with 1:53 left to put Denver up 84-81. Murray made a jumper with 1:24 left, drove for a dunk and an 88-83 lead with 35 seconds remaining, and wrapped up the victory with two free throws with 5.1 seconds left. Nikola Vuevic scored 24 points for Orlando. Aaron Gordon added 21 points and nine rebounds. TIMBERWOLVES 131, WIZARDS 109 WASHINGTON (AP) — Andrew Wiggins scored 21 points, Robert Covington and Jarrett Culver each added 20 and Minnesota cruised past Washington. Minnesota improved to 4-1 for the first time since 2012-13. They played with Karl-Anthony Towns serving the first of a two-game suspension for an altercation with Philadelphia's Joel Embiid on Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time). Bradley Beal scored 30 points for Washington. The Wizards are 1-4. THUNDER 115, PELICANS 104 OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had 23 points and eight rebounds in Oklahoma City's victory over New Orleans. Dennis Schroder and rookie Darius Bazley each added 17 points, Danilo Gallinari had 16 points and Chris Paul finished with 15 points and nine assists. JJ Redick scored 17 points for the Pelicans......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 3rd, 2019

Kawhi Leonard seeks What it do baby trademark

NBA.com staff report LA Clippers star Kawhi Leonard filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to trademark two phrases for use on clothing and footwear. Washington, D.C. trademark lawyer Josh Gerben revealed on Twitter that Leonard is attempting to trademark "What it do baby" and "City views over interviews.” Kawhi Leonard has filed two new trademark applications: 1. WHAT IT DO BABY 2. CITY VIEWS OVER INTERVIEWS The applications, filed on October 23rd, indicate that Kawhi intends to use the trademarks as a clothing brand.#kawhi #ClipperNation My breakdown ???? pic.twitter.com/NDixdKG6qt — Josh Gerben (@JoshGerben) October 28, 2019 The USPTO says the trademarks were filed by Leonard, LLC on Oct. 23. "What it do baby" went viral after the Toronto Raptors won the NBA championship last season. Leonard uttered the phrase in an Instagram video taken by former teammate Serge Ibaka. It's unclear where the “City views over interviews” phrase comes from, but it could be related to his latest commercial for New Balance, which showcases his love for Los Angeles without him saying a word......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 29th, 2019

Toronto Raptors raise championship banner but few hopes of another

Toronto Raptors raise championship banner but few hopes of another.....»»

Category: financeSource:  bworldonlineRelated NewsOct 23rd, 2019

Raptors receive NBA’s biggest championship rings ever

TORONTO (AP) — The Toronto Raptors received the biggest championship rings in NBA history and unfurled a banner celebrating their victory in a ceremony before their season opener against the New Orleans Pelicans. Read: VanVleet scores career-high 34 as Raptors top Pelicans in OT NBA Commissioner Adam Silver was on hand Tuesday night to honor the […] The post Raptors receive NBA’s biggest championship rings ever appeared first on Cebu Daily News......»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsOct 23rd, 2019

Clippers, Bucks lead NBA.com 2019-20 GM Survey

By John Schuhmann, NBA.com Included in all the player movement of this past summer was the last two Finals MVPs leaving the two teams that met in the 2019 Finals. And with more balance in the distribution of superstars, the race for the 2020 NBA championship appears to be wide open. There are favorites, of course. But with so many good players in new uniforms, we don't know how all the pieces are going to fit. We still asked the league's decision-makers to take their best guesses. And in the 18th annual NBA.com GM Survey, 46 percent of general managers have picked Paul George and Kawhi Leonard to lead the LA Clippers to their first NBA title. Leonard was not only named the offseason acquisition that would make the biggest impact, but is also the first player not named LeBron James to be named the league's best small forward since 2005. In the Eastern Conference, the league's GMs like Giannis Antetokounmpo (the player that 86 percent of them would start a franchise with) and the Milwaukee Bucks, who were named the top team in the East by 76 percent of the respondents. Zion Williamson isn't only the pick to win Kia Rookie of the Year and be the best of his class in five years, but he was also named the league's most athletic player … before suiting up for an official NBA game. The GMs responded to 50 different questions about the best teams, players, coaches, fans, and offseason moves. General managers were not permitted to vote for their own team or personnel. Percentages are based on the pool of respondents to that particular question, rather than all 30 GMs. * * * PREDICTIONS Which team will win the 2020 NBA Finals? 1. LA Clippers -- 46% 2. Milwaukee Bucks -- 36% 3. Los Angeles Lakers -- 11% Also receiving votes: Golden State Warriors, Portland Trail Blazers Last year: Golden State – 87% Rank the top four teams in the Eastern Conference 2019-20 GM Survey, Eastern Conference rankings Last year: Ninety percent picked Boston to win the East. Order after the Celtics was Toronto, Philadelphia, Milwaukee, Indiana, Washington and Miami. Rank the top four teams in the Western Conference Last year: Ninety percent picked Golden State to win the West. Order after the Warriors was Houston, Oklahoma City, Utah, L.A. Lakers, Portland/San Antonio, and Denver. PLAYERS Who will win the 2019-20 Kia MVP? 1. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee -- 52% 2. Stephen Curry, Golden State -- 10%     Anthony Davis, Los Angeles Lakers -- 10%     Kawhi Leonard, LA Clippers -- 10% 5. Nikola Jokic, Denver -- 7% Also receiving votes: James Harden, Houston; LeBron James, L.A. Lakers; Damian Lillard, Portland Last year: LeBron James – 30% If you were starting a franchise today and could sign any player in the NBA, who would it be? 1. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee -- 86% 2. Anthony Davis, L.A. Lakers -- 7%     Luka Doncic, Dallas -- 7% Last year: Giannis Antetokounmpo -- 30% Which player forces opposing coaches to make the most adjustments? 1. James Harden, Houston -- 48% 2. Stephen Curry, Golden State -- 17%     LeBron James, L.A. Lakers -- 17% 4. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee -- 14% 5. Kevin Durant, Brooklyn -- 3% Last year: LeBron James -- 60% Which player is most likely to have a breakout season in 2019-20? 1. De'Aaron Fox, Sacramento -- 19% 2. Jaren Jackson Jr., Memphis -- 11%     Jayson Tatum, Boston -- 11% 4. Brandon Ingram, New Orleans -- 7%     Jamal Murray, Denver -- 7% Also receiving votes: Bam Adebayo, Miami; Lonzo Ball, New Orleans; Devin Booker, Phoenix; Wendell Carter Jr., Chicago; Zach Collins, Portland; Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Oklahoma City; LeBron James, L.A. Lakers; Dejounte Murray, San Antonio; Julius Randle, New York; Tomas Satoransky, Chicago; Pascal Siakam, Toronto; Zion Williamson, New Orleans Last year: Jamal Murray -- 20% Who is the best point guard in the NBA? 1. Stephen Curry, Golden State -- 90% 2. Damian Lillard, Portland -- 7% 3. LeBron James, LA Lakers -- 3% Last year: Stephen Curry -- 57% Who is the best shooting guard in the NBA? 1. James Harden, Houston – 86% 2. Paul George, LA Clippers – 7% Also receiving votes: Jimmy Butler, Miami; Klay Thompson, Golden State Last year: James Harden -- 73% Who is the best small forward in the NBA? 1. Kawhi Leonard, LA Clippers -- 62% 2. LeBron James, L.A. Lakers -- 24% 3. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee -- 14% Last year: LeBron James -- 57% Who is the best power forward in the NBA? 1. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee -- 59% 2. Anthony Davis, L.A. Lakers -- 28% 3. LeBron James, L.A. Lakers -- 10% 4. LaMarcus Aldridge, San Antonio -- 3% Last year: Anthony Davis --  37% Who is the best center in the NBA? 1. Nikola Jokic, Denver -- 48% 2. Joel Embiid, Philadelphia -- 28% 3. Anthony Davis, L.A. Lakers -- 17% Also receiving votes: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee; Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Last year: Anthony Davis -- 40% OFFSEASON MOVES Which team made the best overall moves this offseason? 1. LA Clippers -- 82% 2. New Orleans Pelicans -- 11% Also receiving votes: Brooklyn Nets, Utah Jazz Last year: L.A. Lakers – 70% Which one player acquisition will make the biggest impact? 1. Kawhi Leonard, LA Clippers -- 67% 2. Anthony Davis, L.A. Lakers -- 21% 3. Paul George, LA Clippers -- 12% Last year: LeBron James -- 97% What was the most underrated player acquisition? 1. Mike Conley, Utah -- 36% 2. Bojan Bogdanovic, Utah -- 14% 3. Malcolm Brogdon, Indiana -- 11%     Jerami Grant, Denver -- 11% 5. Tomas Satoransky, Chicago -- 7% Also receiving votes: Lonzo Ball, New Orleans; Derrick Favors, New Orleans; Danny Green, L.A. Lakers; Chris Paul, Oklahoma City; J.J. Redick, New Orleans; Josh Richardson, Philadelphia Last year: Tyreke Evans -- 13% Which team will be most improved in 2019-20? 1. Los Angeles Lakers -- 38% 2. Dallas Mavericks -- 21% 3. LA Clippers -- 10% 4. Atlanta Hawks -- 7%     Brooklyn Nets -- 7%     Chicago Bulls -- 7%     New Orleans Pelicans -- 7% 8. New York Knicks -- 4% Last year: L.A. Lakers -- 80% What was the most surprising move of the offseason? 1. Paul George trade to LA Clippers -- 52% 2. Chris Paul-Russell Westbrook trade -- 28% 3. Nikola Mirotic to FC Barcelona -- 7% Also receiving votes: Malcolm Brogdon to Indiana; Al Horford to Philadelphia; Kawhi Leonard to Clippers, Marcus Morris decommitting from San Antonio Last year: DeMarcus Cousins to Golden State -- 35% ROOKIES & INTERNATIONAL Who will win the 2019-20 Rookie of the Year? 1. Zion Williamson, New Orleans -- 68% 2. Ja Morant, Memphis -- 29% 3. Darius Garland, Cleveland -- 4% Last year: Luka Doncic -- 43% Which rookie will be the best player in five years? 1. Zion Williamson, New Orleans -- 68% 2. Ja Morant, Memphis -- 18% 3. Cameron Reddish, Atlanta -- 7% Also receiving votes: Jarrett Culver, Minnesota; Darius Garland, Cleveland Last year: DeAndre Ayton & Jaren Jackson Jr. -- 27% Which rookie was the biggest steal at where he was selected in the Draft? 1. Nickeil Alexander-Walker (17), New Orleans -- 32% 2. Brandon Clarke (21), Memphis -- 21% 3. Goga Bitadze (18), Indiana -- 11% 4. Bol Bol (44), Denver -- 7%     Tyler Herro (13), Miami -- 7% Also receiving votes: Darius Bazley (23), Oklahoma City; Nicolas Claxton (31), Brooklyn; Daniel Gafford (38), Chicago; Darius Garland (5), Cleveland; Nasir Little (25), Portland; Cameron Reddish (10), Atlanta Last year: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander -- 27% Who is the best international player in the NBA? 1. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee -- 79% 2. Nikola Jokic, Denver -- 14% 3. Luka Doncic, Dallas -- 7% Last year: Giannis Antetokounmpo -- 73% Who is the best international player NOT in the NBA? 1. Nikola Mirotic, FC Barcelona -- 55% 2. Nando de Colo, Fenerbahce -- 21% 3. Sergio Llull, Real Madrid -- 17% Also receiving votes: Deni Avdija, Maccabi Tel Aviv; Jan Vesely, Fenerbahce Last year: Sergio Llull -- 39% DEFENSE Who is the best defensive player in the NBA? 1. Kawhi Leonard, LA Clippers -- 45% 2. Rudy Gobert, Utah -- 28% 3. Draymond Green, Golden State -- 10% 4. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee -- 7%     Paul George, LA Clippers -- 7% 6. Anthony Davis, LA Lakers -- 3% Last year: Rudy Gobert & Kawhi Leonard -- 37% Who is the best perimeter defender in the NBA? 1. Kawhi Leonard, LA Clippers -- 59% 2. Paul George, LA Clippers -- 21% Also receiving votes: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee; OG Anunoby, Toronto; Jimmy Butler, Miami; Jrue Holiday, New Orleans; LeBron James, LA Lakers; Klay Thompson, Golden State Last year: Kawhi Leonard -- 60% Who is the best interior defender in the NBA? 1. Rudy Gobert, Utah -- 93% Also receiving votes: Anthony Davis, L.A. Lakers; Joel Embiid, Philadelphia Last year: Rudy Gobert -- 80% Who is the most versatile defender in the NBA? 1. Draymond Green, Golden State -- 38% 2. Kawhi Leonard, LA Clippers -- 31% 3. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee -- 21% Also receiving votes: Anthony Davis, L.A. Lakers; Paul George, LA Clippers; Pascal Siakam, Toronto Last year: Draymond Green -- 53% Which is the best defensive team in the NBA? 1. LA Clippers -- 52% 2. Utah Jazz -- 24% 3. Milwaukee Bucks -- 17% 4. Philadelphia 76ers -- 7% Last year: Utah -- 45% COACHES Who is the best head coach in the NBA? 1. Gregg Popovich, San Antonio -- 55% 2. Erik Spoelstra, Miami -- 17% 3. Mike Budenholzer, Milwaukee -- 10% 4. Steve Kerr, Golden State -- 7% Also receiving votes: Steve Clifford, Orlando; Doc Rivers, LA Clippers; Quin Snyder, Utah Last year: Brad Stevens -- 47% Which head coach is the best manager/motivator of people? 1. Gregg Popovich, San Antonio -- 41% 2. Doc Rivers, LA Clippers -- 31% 3. Steve Kerr, Golden State -- 17% Also receiving votes: Kenny Atkinson, Brooklyn; Mike D'Antoni, Houston; Terry Stotts, Portland Last year: Gregg Popovich -- 47% Which head coach makes the best in-game adjustments? 1. Rick Carlisle, Dallas -- 28% 2. Brad Stevens, Boston -- 17% 3. Quin Snyder, Utah -- 14% 4. Steve Clifford, Orlando -- 10%     Gregg Popovich, San Antonio -- 10% 6. Nick Nurse, Toronto -- 7% Also receiving votes: Mike Budenholzer, Milwaukee; Michael Malone, Denver; Doc Rivers, LA Clippers; Erik Spoelstra, Miami Last year: Brad Stevens -- 53% Which head coach runs the best offense? 1. Steve Kerr, Golden State -- 38% 2. Mike Budenholzer, Milwaukee -- 14%     Mike D'Antoni, Houston -- 14%     Terry Stotts, Portland -- 14% 5. Michael Malone, Denver -- 7%     Nick Nurse, Toronto -- 7%     Quin Snyder, Utah -- 7% Last year: Steve Kerr -- 40% Which head coach has the best defensive schemes? 1. Quin Snyder, Utah -- 28% 2. Mike Budenholzer, Milwaukee -- 24% 3. Nate McMillan, Indiana -- 7%     Gregg Popovich, San Antonio -- 7%     Doc Rivers, LA Clippers -- 7%     Erik Spoelstra, Miami -- 7%     Brad Stevens, Boston -- 7% Also receiving votes: Kenny Atkinson, Brooklyn; Dwane Casey, Detroit; Steve Clifford, Orlando; Nick Nurse, Toronto Last year: Quin Snyder -- 33% Which new or relocated head coach will make the biggest impact on his new team? 1. Monty Williams, Phoenix -- 43% 2. Frank Vogel, L.A. Lakers -- 21% 3. Luke Walton, Sacramento -- 18% 4. John Beilein, Cleveland -- 11% 5. Taylor Jenkins, Memphis -- 7% Last year: N/A Who is the best assistant coach in the NBA? 1. Dan Burke, Indiana -- 11%     Chris Finch, New Orleans -- 11%     David Vanterpool, Minnesota -- 11% 4. Darvin Ham, Milwaukee -- 7%     Alex Jensen, Utah -- 7%     Igor Kokoskov, Sacramento -- 7%     Tyronn Lue, LA Clippers -- 7%     Nate Tibbets, Portland -- 7% Also receiving votes: Ron Adams, Golden State; Chip Engelland, San Antonio; Chris Fleming, Chicago; Adrian Griffin, Toronto; Phil Handy, L.A. Lakers; Jason Kidd, L.A. Lakers; Keith Smart, New York; Ime Udoka, Philadelphia Last year: Ron Adams -- 17% Which active player will make the best head coach someday? 1. Mike Conley, Utah -- 26% 2. Chris Paul, Oklahoma City -- 19% 3. Malcolm Brogdon, Indiana -- 15% 4. Rajon Rondo, L.A. Lakers -- 11% Also receiving votes: Jalen Brunson, Dallas; Jared Dudley, L.A. Lakers; Andre Iguodala, Memphis; Kyle Korver, Milwaukee; C.J. McCollum, Portland; Doug McDermott, Indiana; Garrett Temple, Brooklyn; Lance Thomas, Brooklyn Last year: Chris Paul -- 25% MISCELLANEOUS Which team is the most fun to watch? 1. Denver Nuggets -- 31% 2. New Orleans Pelicans -- 21% 3. Golden State Warriors -- 17% 4. Milwaukee Bucks -- 10% 5. Portland Trail Blazers -- 7% Also receiving votes: Houston Rockets, LA Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, Sacramento Kings Last year: Golden State -- 60% Which team has the best home-court advantage? 1. Denver Nuggets -- 38% 2. Utah Jazz -- 24%     Golden State Warriors -- 24% 4. Portland Trail Blazers -- 7% Also receiving votes: Boston Celtics, Toronto Raptors Last year: Golden State -- 50% Which team has the most promising young core? 1. New Orleans Pelicans -- 28% 2. Denver Nuggets -- 24% 3. Atlanta Hawks -- 17% 4. Sacramento Kings -- 10% 5. Philadelphia 76ers -- 7% Also receiving votes: Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls, Dallas Mavericks, Memphis Grizzlies Last year: Philadelphia -- 47% Which player is the most athletic? 1. Zion Williamson, New Orleans -- 41% 2. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee -- 28% 3. Aaron Gordon, Orlando -- 7%     Derrick Jones Jr., Miami -- 7%     Mitchell Robinson, New York -- 7%     Russell Westbrook, Houston -- 7% 7. Zach LaVine, Chicago -- 3% Last year: Russell Westbrook -- 48% Which player is the best pure shooter? 1. Stephen Curry, Golden State -- 86% 2. Klay Thompson, Golden State -- 11% 3. J.J. Redick, New Orleans -- 4% Last year: Stephen Curry -- 73% Which player is the fastest with the ball? 1. De'Aaron Fox, Sacramento -- 64% 2. Russell Westbrook, Houston -- 25% Also receiving votes: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee; Stephen Curry, Golden State; Kyrie Irving, Brooklyn Last year: Russell Westbrook -- 50% Which player is best at moving without the ball? 1. Klay Thompson, Golden State -- 43% 2. J.J. Redick, New Orleans -- 25% 3. Stephen Curry, Golden State -- 21% 4. Kyle Korver, Milwaukee -- 7% 5. C.J. McCollum, Portland -- 4% Last year: Klay Thompson -- 53% Which player is the best passer? 1. LeBron James, L.A. Lakers -- 57% 2. Nikola Jokic, Denver -- 32% 3. Chris Paul, Oklahoma City -- 7% 4. James Harden, Houston -- 4% Last year: LeBron James -- 50% What bench player makes the biggest impact when he enters the game? 1. Lou Williams, LA Clippers -- 79% 2. Montrezl Harrell, LA Clippers -- 7%     Fred VanVleet, Toronto -- 7% Also receiving votes: Spencer Dinwiddie, Brooklyn; Domantas Sabonis, Indiana Last year: Lou Williams -- 41% Who is the toughest player in the NBA? 1. Steven Adams, Oklahoma City -- 32% 2. Draymond Green, Golden State -- 18% 3. P.J. Tucker, Houston -- 14% 4. LeBron James, L.A. Lakers -- 7% Also receiving votes: Aron Baynes, Phoenix; Patrick Beverley, LA Clippers; Udonis Haslem, Miami; Joe Ingles, Utah; Damian Lillard, Portland; Kyle Lowry, Toronto; Marcus Smart, Boston; Klay Thompson, Golden State Last year: Steven Adams -- 33% Which player is the best leader? 1. Damian Lillard, Portland -- 41% 2. Stephen Curry, Golden State -- 37% 3. LeBron James, L.A. Lakers -- 15% Also receiving votes: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee; Chris Paul, Oklahoma City Last year: LeBron James -- 30% Who is the most versatile player in the NBA? 1. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee -- 46% 2. LeBron James, L.A. Lakers -- 39% 3. Kawhi Leonard, LA Clippers -- 7% Also receiving votes: Paul George, LA Clippers; Nikola Jokic, Denver Last year: LeBron James -- 63% Which player has the best basketball IQ? 1. LeBron James, L.A. Lakers -- 64% 2. Nikola Jokic, Denver -- 11% 3. Chris Paul, Oklahoma City -- 7%     Rajon Rondo, L.A. Lakers -- 7% Also receiving votes: James Harden, Houston; Al Horford, Philadelphia; Andre Iguodala, Memphis Last year: LeBron James -- 70% Which player would you want taking a shot with the game on the line? 1. Stephen Curry, Golden State -- 44% 2. Kevin Durant, Brooklyn -- 11%     Damian Lillard, Portland -- 11%     Klay Thompson, Golden State -- 11% 5. Kyrie Irving, Brooklyn -- 7%     Kawhi Leonard, LA Clippers -- 7% Also receiving votes: James Harden, Houston; LeBron James, L.A. Lakers Last year: Kevin Durant -- 40% What rule (regarding play, Draft/Lottery, playoff format, etc.) most needs to change? 1. Playoff seeding (1-16) -- 18% 2. Draft (Better combine or more medical info) -- 11%     Draft Lottery -- 11%     Free agency (Before Draft or no moratorium) -- 11%     Schedule (Fewer games, no back-to-backs) -- 11% Also receiving votes: Conference realignment, Draft one-and-done rule, Eliminate tanking, Extra foul in overtime, FIBA goaltending, Increased control of G League players, Instant replay, Midseason tournament, No FGA for half-court heaves, Roster size, Tampering Last year: Playoff seeding – 18%.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 18th, 2019

Kawhi back in Canada, NBA GMs think he’ll go back to finals

UPDATED: 1:41pm By Brian Mahoney, Associated Press Kawhi Leonard was back in Canada, where last season he won a championship. NBA general managers think he’s going to win another one this season. They voted the Los Angeles Clippers as the favorites in the NBA.com GM survey, believing Leonard and Paul George are the missing pieces for a team that’s never even been beyond the second round. Los Angeles was tabbed as the favorite by 46 percent of the GMs who responded. A big reason was Leonard, who not only ended LeBron James’ streak as top small forward that dated to the 2005 poll, but was also voted the league’s most impactful offseason addition, best defender and best perimeter defender. Leonard proved what a difference he can make last season. He led the Toronto Raptors to their first championship in June, triggering celebrations all over Canada. He returned to play in front of the country’s fans in the Clippers’ preseason finale against the Dallas Mavericks in Vancouver, British Columbia. “They should be excited,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said before the game. “He did something very special for this country. So that’ll be a lot of fun for him, for sure.” HEAT 107, MAGIC 98 Jimmy Butler had 23 points, six rebounds and six assists to help visiting Miami beat Orlando. Duncan Robinson made four 3-pointers and added 17 points for the Heat (4-0). Kelly Olynyk added 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting in his preseason debut. Olynyk missed time due to a bruised right knee he suffered during his time with the Canadian national team in August. Evan Fournier had 16 points and Mo Bamba and Nikola Vucevic scored 14 points each for the Magic (3-3). BULLS 111, HAWKS 93 No. 7 overall pick Coby White scored 29 points in 23 minutes, making 10 of 14 from the field and 6 of 8 from the 3-point range for Chicago. Zach LaVine added 23 points on 8-of-11 shooting for the Bulls (2-3). Otto Porter Jr. scored 15. Jabari Parker had 15 points and Jordan Sibert scored 14 for the visiting Hawks (1-4). BUCKS 118, TIMBERWOLVES 96 Giannis Antetokounmpo had 26 points and 14 rebounds and host Milwaukee finished its preseason undefeated. Khris Middleton added 18 points and seven assists and Robin Lopez scored 14 points for the Bucks (5-0). Karl-Anthony Towns led the Timberwolves (2-3) with 16 points. Robert Covington had 13 points and 11 rebounds. NUGGETS 110, TRAIL BLAZERS 104 Paul Millsap and Will Barton had 13 points apiece in Denver, where 15 Nuggets and 13 Trail Blazers logged at least 12 minutes in the preseason finale for both teams. They open the regular season with a rematch Wednesday night. Monte Morris added 12 points and Nikola Jokic scored 11 for the Nuggets (4-0). Mario Hezonja was 3 of 4 from 3-point range and scored 18 points for the Trail Blazers (2-3). Zach Collins had 13 points and 11 rebounds. MAVERICKS 102, CLIPPERS 87 Justin Jackson and Kristaps Porzingis had 18 points apiece and Dallas mostly led by double digits against Los Angeles. Luka Doncic and Terance Mann received a double technical for shoving each other in the third quarter. Mann knocked the ball out of Doncic’s hand after play had been whistled dead, and Doncic’ retaliated with a chest-to-chest confrontation. Doncic finished with 15 points and 13 rebounds for the Mavericks (2-3). Mann had eight points. Montrezl Harrell had 14 points for the Clippers (2-3). Leonard added seven of his 13 points in the third quarter......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 18th, 2019

Harden-Westbrook duo ready to do something really special

By Michael C. Wright, NBA.com HOUSTON -- Well-dressed men in the Texas heat scurried, snatching keys and pointing directions to the visitors arriving, car after car. On the third floor, down the hall from a mezzanine overlooking a lobby, sparkling with custom Calcutta marble flooring, they all gathered in a quiet, dim room, just steps away from two Rolls-Royces bathing in the sun gushing through floor-to-ceiling glass. Here in Uptown, at Tilman Fertitta’s Post Oak Hotel -- a 38-floor, $350 million property housing a Rolls-Royce showroom and Bentley and Bugatti dealership, below a heliport -- the Houston Rockets' owner has turned the team’s annual media day into a posh, star-studded event. With good reason, too. Houston’s blockbuster July trade that sent Chris Paul off to the Oklahoma City Thunder for picks and pick swaps for Russell Westbrook reunites MVPs and former Thunder stars with James Harden already in the fold for a squad now at the forefront as favorites in a now suddenly wide-open Western Conference. “I think we are a better team,” Fertitta said. “It’s gonna be extremely exciting to have one of the greatest scorers of all time, and one of the most athletic people that has played the game. I know I’m really excited. I hope they don’t let me down.” Rockets general manager Daryl Morey thinks this all-star pairing “could be really special.” “It’s so exciting because James Harden is like the best half-court player I’ve ever seen, honestly,” Morey said. “Then, Russell is maybe the best transition player, one of the best of all time as well. If you put those things together, I think we have a chance. Now, you’ve got something really special.” Searching for same goal The reality is it’s been seven years since Westbrook and Harden last teamed with Oklahoma City in the 2012 NBA Finals, and while both have developed into MVP winners and perennial All-Stars, neither has made it back to The Finals. So, burning hotter than the pomp and glitz at the Post Oak Hotel this hot summer day is the question of whether this will all work for a pair of ball-dominant stars, accustomed to running their own respective shows. They’ve certainly got a believer in former Thunder teammate Kendrick Perkins. “They’ve played together in OKC. These two former MVPs still are in their primes. There’s no way that it’s not going to work,” Perkins told NBA.com. “Am I guaranteeing they’re going to win a championship? No, I’m not doing that. But I still believe this might be the most dynamic backcourt we’ve ever seen in NBA history. We probably haven’t seen a point guard and a shooting guard like this on the same team in forever. You can’t really name one going into the season that’s better than these two guys. I just think it’s going to work.” Now retired from the NBA, Perkins joined a 21-year-old Harden and a 22-year-old Westbrook in 2010-11, when he was traded there in the middle of the season from the Boston Celtics to OKC. Perkins describes the childhood friends and former Thunder teammates as “two guys that were still trying to find their identity” back then. Still, both were destined to reach the levels they currently occupy, he says. “When I first got there, those guys were working, man. They turned out to be some beasts, dog,” Perkins told NBA.com. “Gym rats, I’m telling you. It was unreal the amount of work those guys were putting in. Russ was always the heart and soul of the team. There was no debate about it to me. He gave the team swagger. With James, we just knew it was only in due time. People always say they should’ve kept that team together in OKC. But James wouldn’t have been able to be the player he is today if he hadn’t left. Plus, James was deserving of having his own team.” Now that he’s had it since joining the Rockets in 2012-13, Harden welcomes Westbrook, who like himself, began playing the game as a child at the Challengers Boys & Girls Club in South Central Los Angeles. Interestingly, Westbrook and Harden are the only players over the last five seasons to score more than 10,000 points. Westbrook nodded in agreement with the notion his new uniform provides somewhat of a new lease on life, after spending the first 11 years of his career in Oklahoma City. Harden, meanwhile, pointed out how his new teammate “doesn’t have to stress or worry about the pressure of carrying an entire organization,” because that responsibility now falls on them both. “I think it’s good for both of us because we understand the amount of energy and effort, time and commitment it takes to be able to do that for an entire season,” Westbrook said. “Now, being together on the same team, I think it’s important that we can lean on [one another], sacrifice, and not do as much to still have an impact on the game. I think [what] a lot of people don’t know is we have a friendship first outside of basketball. I think me and him communicate and understand each other. In the games, it’s going to be easy.” 'Sit back and watch the show' Perkins saw signs of maturity from Westbrook last season, when the guard at the detriment of his own stats, deferred to Paul George in crucial situations. But both Westbrook and Harden in 2018-19 ranked in the top 15 in usage rate. So, the phrase uttered most often at media day above the guests clutching cold drinks at the hotel pool was “figure it out.” Everyone, whether Fertitta, Morey, coach Mike D’Antoni or the players, seems confident in the duo’s ability to do so. Harden already said he’s willing to take a backseat to Westbrook. “If Russ has got it going, and Russ is having one of those games that we’ve all seen before, guess what I’m going to do?” Harden asked. “Sit back and watch the show, and vice versa. You can’t sit up here and say, ‘Oh, Russ is going to have the basketball for the first half, and I’m going to have the ball the second half.' No, things happen through the course of the game that you just flow with and go with.” Perkins believes that Harden welcomes the opportunity to defer to someone else, given the physical demands of his playing style. Harden ranked No. 3 last season in minutes per game (36.8), while Westbrook was fourth (36.0). “If you’ve watched James throughout the course of a game, the things he did, he had to do because nobody else was stepping up at the time. James wants somebody else to step up so that he can take a backseat sometimes,” Perkins told NBA.com. “If you watched Russ on the court last year, what a lot of people don’t realize is that he deferred to Paul George a lot. Russ took a backseat. You’ve got to understand, too, that he’s matured, man. He’s starting to show that he can be a better leader. Think about it. When you have kids, man, and you start having a family, sh--, your whole thought process changes. You know what I mean? I just see the maturity in Russ. To me, they have to just get it done. There’s no debate about it. Like, to me, the most pressure is on Mike D’Antoni.” Entering the final year of his contract after extension talks broke down over the summer, D’Antoni will proceed cautiously throughout the preseason implementing Westbrook (who is recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery). D’Antoni and Morey believe Westbrook, one of the game’s most lethal penetrators, will excel in D'Antoni's wide-open offense (which focuses on keeping shooters posted on the perimeter as guards drive in). Morey mentioned that under D’Antoni, guards have historically produced career years. “You look historically at players that have worked with Mike, guards especially, they always play better,” Morey said. “I think it’s just the way he sets up the team, sets up the offense. He finds ways to get people to do the things they do well more, and again, like he said, we’re not here to change anybody or do anything. Historically like pretty much every guard that’s worked with, Mike has had their career year. That’s gonna be a little tough with Russell, given that he’s had so many.” Wearing a salmon-hued polo shirt, D’Antoni discussed plans to stagger the minutes of Harden and Westbrook throughout the season. The expectation is Harden rests in the neighborhood of 13 minutes per game, while Westbrook sits 16 minutes. In his first preseason game -- a 134-129 loss to the Toronto Raptors in Tokyo -- Westbrook logged 20 minutes, finishing with 13 points, two rebounds and six assists. D’Antoni said the final five minutes of games are “the most important thing” for Westbrook to figure out as the team approaches the regular season. “They both want to do this. So, we’ll just sit down and work it out,” D’Antoni said. “I don’t have to tell someone they have to do this, or they have to do that. We’ll figure it out together. But just the vibe of being able to discuss things, the respect they have [for one another] will translate. We’re in a good spot. Right now, it’s great. All we’re trying right now is to win a title. That’s the only agenda that anybody has, and we’ve just got to figure it out.” When word first spread about Houston’s acquisition of Westbrook, opinions naturally flowed about how he’d fit alongside Harden. Westbrook is a career 30.8% 3-point shooter on a squad that has led the league in 3-point attempts four of the last five seasons. He’s also a ball-dominant, high-usage player just like Harden. Still, everyone, insists they won’t ask Westbrook to change his style of play. That puts the pressure squarely on D’Antoni to tweak what Houston does on the floor. “The system they’ve run, just shooting layups and shooting threes with no in-between game, you have to change that with Russell Westbrook, because one of his main things is his mid-range pull-up,” Perkins explained. “The pressure is on Mike D’Antoni. Does he have to change up his style of play? Yes, he will, in order for Russell Westbrook to be who he is. We all know that Russ is not a three-point shooter. Bottom line is they’ve got two of the top 10 players in the league now, if not top 15. "These guys get it done. Back in the day when they were in OKC, they were trying to find out who they were as players. Now, it’s a whole lot different. Now, they know who they are. They’ve done everything to accomplish all the individual accolades. They only thing they haven’t done is win a championship. It’s not the players. Houston has all the players.” In addition to the glitz, glamour and star power for a franchise starving to add more Larry O'Briens to its trophy case. Michael C. Wright is a senior writer for NBA.com. 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 9th, 2019

Leonard and George quickly blending in with Clippers

By Beth Harris, Associated Press LOS ANGELES (AP) — Kawhi Leonard and Paul George have already passed the chemistry test with the Los Angeles Clippers. The two superstars have been quick to integrate themselves with their new team and the result is an easy, teasing camaraderie. Whether it’s enough to advance the once beleaguered franchise past the second round of the playoffs for the first time — let alone win an NBA championship — remains to be seen. But clearly these guys are already having fun. There was a fishing trip and a paintball outing — yep, Patrick Beverley was so competitive he splattered his own teammates — that made early impressions in a season the Clippers hope will be their most memorable yet. “If we maintain that, we’re going to get through anything,” George said Sunday (Monday, PHL time) at the team’s media day. Leonard and George may be the biggest fish on the roster, but neither caught the largest when several of the Clippers took to the water. That honor belonged to a woman on the boat. And what happened to their fish shown off on social media? “Like anybody else would do,” Leonard replied. “Have someone else fillet it, cook it, and eat it.” But he and George don’t expect to do all the heavy lifting this season. “Everybody on the same page,” George said of the collective mindset, “and we go out as one.” Leonard led Toronto to its first NBA title last season, and he ticked off the characteristics of a championship team: high character, sacrifice and will to win. “Go out there as one unit trying to accomplish that one goal,” he said. “It’s about enjoying the journey and not getting ahead of yourself. You also have to stay healthy as well.” The upcoming season already feels different to Leonard. He’s past the right quad injury from 2017-18 that hastened his departure from San Antonio and subsequent trade to the Raptors. “This year I’m feeling way better than I was at the start of last season,” he said, adding there’s no plan yet for his load management. It’s possible the Clippers will be without George for their season opener Oct. 22 (Oct. 23, PHL time) against LeBron James and the Lakers. He’s still rehabbing from offseason shoulder surgery that followed an injury-plagued ending to his time in Oklahoma City. George will be with the team at training camp in Hawaii starting Monday, but won’t participate in contact. Coach Doc Rivers was at the team’s practice facility Sunday (Monday, PHL time), but he didn’t speak to the media. Other things to know about the Clippers: DEFENSE Led by Beverley, the Clippers brought a ferocious attitude on defense last season. His prediction with Leonard and George on the floor? “That scrappiness attitude, but on steroids,” Beverley said. That being said, Beverley is making it a goal to cut down on his technical fouls. Count Lou Williams as a skeptic. “I don’t know if there’s a way to tell Pat Beverley to chill out,” he said. COMING HOME Leonard and George are both glad to be back home. Leonard is from Riverside and George is from the high desert city of Palmdale, located north of Los Angeles. “The fact that I’m unpacking instead of packing at this time is a surreal moment,” George said. Leonard has already reached out to local schools with a large-scale donation of backpacks. Despite his low-key reputation, Leonard wants to be visible in the community and “for them to see me, for them to shake my hand.” THE YOUNG GUYS Leonard and George have been generous in sharing their knowledge with the younger Clippers, including Landry Shamet and Jerome Robinson. Even with George sidelined early, he’s still an influence. “Sometimes guys don’t have to do anything,” Rodney McGruder said. “It’s just their presence.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 30th, 2019

Raptors hungry for another title run, even without Leonard

By Ian Harrison, Associated Press TORONTO (AP) — Kawhi Leonard has moved on and Danny Green is gone, but the Toronto Raptors still have an NBA title to defend. This season, a group led by All-Star guard Kyle Lowry, breakout talent Pascal Siakam and defensive standout Marc Gasol is turning "We the North" into "We Want More." "If I had to express it in one word, I would say 'hungry,'" Gasol said Saturday (Sunday, PHL time) when asked what he expects of the new-look Raptors. "I think it's a very hungry team. We all understand what Kawhi meant to the team and how well he played in the playoffs. But we also understand how good we can be as a team, and we're all going to invest everything in it to be that team." Leonard signed a free-agent deal with the Los Angeles Clippers after leading Toronto to six-game NBA Finals victory over Golden State in his lone season north of the border. Once Leonard passed on returning to the Raptors, Green did the same, signing with the Los Angeles Lakers. General manager Masai Ujiri, who traded franchise icon DeMar DeRozan to San Antonio to acquire Leonard and Green, insisted he had no reason to be upset with the way his big move worked out. "That's just the nature of the business," Ujiri said. "We understand it and we move on as an organization. I think there are many bright spots with our team, whether it's our veteran players, whether it's our players coming up, and the younger group we're developing." Still, even Ujiri couldn't fail to notice what had changed around him since the start of training camp last year, when he sat at the podium in front of a packed crowd, flanked by newcomers Leonard and Green. This year, Ujiri was on stage all by himself. "I'm lonely," he joked. One thing hasn't changed: the Raptors still have talent. Lowry, Toronto's longest-tenured player, has been an All-Star for five straight seasons. Siakam is poised to take another step after running away with the league's Most Improved Player award last season, while Gasol, veteran Serge Ibaka, and youngster OG Anunoby round out an imposing frontcourt. "I think guys are going to step up, I think guys are up for the challenge," Ujiri said. The ultra-competitive Lowry certainly is. His expectation this season? Another title. "It's always the same goal for me," Lowry said. "I'm more motivated than ever." MORE CHANGE COMING? Don't expect this Raptors group to stick together much longer. Lowry, Gasol, Ibaka and guard Fred VanVleet are all eligible for free agency at the end of the season. So is forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, who signed with Toronto in free agency. The Raptors will have money to spend next summer and are likely to look at younger players rather than paying to retain veterans. PASCAL'S FUTURE Siakam has two years left on his rookie contract, but the Raptors have already approached the young star about a new deal. "We've had conversations with Pascal's representation and we're excited," Ujiri said. "He's somebody we're definitely going to keep." With Leonard and Green gone, coach Nick Nurse sees room for Siakam to become more of a weapon. "He's going to be given a great chance, a great opportunity here to really expand his role and his game," Nurse said. "There's going to be lots of opportunity for him to have the ball." VanVleet isn't putting a limit on his expectations for Siakam's growth. "There's nothing he can't do," VanVleet said. CONTENDERS TO THE THRONE After another busy summer of free agency, Ujiri sees new balance around the league and no clear-cut challenger to Toronto's title. "If you say who's going to come out of the East, I think it's a question," Ujiri said. "I think, for the first time, it's a question who's going to win the NBA championship. I don't think anybody knows. I don't think anybody knows who's going to come out of the West and there are very, very strong teams there." CHRISTMAS WISH The reigning champs got a Christmas Day game, Toronto's first holiday appearance since visiting the Knicks in 2001. This year, the Raptors are hosting Boston in a noon start. "It means everything," guard Norman Powell said. "I've grown up always looking forward to the Christmas Day games, watching the NBA after opening up gifts and presents. I know everybody's really tied and locked into those games." BANNER MOMENT Toronto opens the season at home to rookie sensation Zion Williamson and the New Orleans Pelicans on Oct. 22. The Raptors will raise their championship banner and hand out rings before tipoff. "I think that's when it's going to finally hit me," Lowry said. "I just feel I haven't let it sink in as much. When the banner rises and the rings come on, that's when you really feel it.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 29th, 2019

30 Teams in 30 Days: Rockets see Harden, Westbrook team up

Like most summers in the NBA, the 2019 edition was chock full of trades, free agent news and player movement. From the defending-champion Toronto Raptors to just about every other team in the league, change was the most applicable word when it came to describing team rosters for the 2019-20 season. With the opening of training camps just around the corner, NBA.com's Shaun Powell will evaluate the state of each franchise as it sits today -- in order of regular-season finish from 2018-19 -- as we look at 30 teams in 30 days. * * * Today's team: Houston Rockets 2018-19 Record: 53-29, lost to the Warriors in the conference semifinals Key additions: Russell Westbrook (trade), Tyson Chandler (free agency), Ben McLemore (free agency) Key departures: Chris Paul The lowdown: Juiced by yet another epic, and on some levels, historic season by James Harden, the Rockets amassed 50 wins, reached the playoffs and were denied (again) by the Golden State Warriors. As in 2018, this ouster was met with a high degree of frustration. The year before, Houston lost Paul to a hamstring injury late in the series and fell in Game 7 of the Western Conference finals. This time, the Rockets were unable to beat a Golden State team that clinched the series in Game 6 without Kevin Durant (who got injured in Game 5 of the series), a cold slap of an ending to Houston's realistic Finals hopes. In one of the NBA's all-time best offensive seasons, Harden averaged 36.1 points per game and revived Houston's season while Paul was on the mend from yet another injury. Harden scored 30 or more in 32 straight games, scored 50 or more nine times and had two 61-point games. He was a singular force with the ball and didn’t show any wear in the postseason. Unlike Paul, Harden was a symbol of sturdiness and strength, averaging 36.8 minutes per game in 78 games played. Paul played only 58 games, although when healthy he was respectable (8.2 apg) and at times looked like an All-Star. However, his customarily high level of play dropped a few floors. Eric Gordon played solid enough to earn a max extension, and Clint Capela gave the Rockets a front-line weapon at both ends. The Carmelo Anthony experience folded after 10 games, but Houston got supporting help from Austin Rivers and PJ Tucker (who was noticeably effective in the playoffs). Another effective-yet-disappointing year was unacceptable to ownership and, quite honestly, the locker room as well. Summer summary: When he purchased the Rockets for $2.2 billion a few years ago, owner Tilman Fertitta was a reasonable and patient man. He pledged his faith in GM Daryl Morey, sung the gospel of Harden and thought the world of Paul. But everyone has their limits and Fertitta was clearly discouraged by the manner and speed in which the Rockets were bounced last season. Something had to be done and a big opportunity presented itself. When Kawhi Leonard signed with the LA Clippers and convinced Paul George to request a trade from the Oklahoma City Thunder, it led to Westbrook being available. While this was happening, Harden and Paul were having relationship issues, or at least that was the word in Rockets’ circles. Just two years earlier they were thrilled to be teammates and even made commercials together. Now, they were on the outs. Therefore, the solution was simple: Trade Paul and his hefty contract for Westbrook and his hefty contract, and reunite a pair of Kia MVP winners. Advantage, Rockets? It bears repeating that Harden and Westbrook are tight and respectful of each other’s accomplishments, because this will be worth revisiting if this attempt to help Harden win a ring fails like the others. That relationship is the selling point, because based purely on styles of play, this appears to be major clash. Both players need the ball, perhaps more than any two players in the NBA right now, if not in history. They’re high-usage talents, meaning, they work best when creating opportunities for themselves or teammates and neither can happen if they’re playing off the ball. Westbrook has never done that in his NBA life and Harden only did so briefly as a youngster with OKC. Harden gave the trade his blessing, and once the deal was done, both players said all the right things -- if anything, they scolded any observers who dared to raise the obvious. Can it work? Well, sure, but it’ll take some concessions by both players, and coach Mike D’Antoni must change (if not overhaul) his system in order to accommodate this duo. Meanwhile, the Rockets are somewhat on the clock. It is not to say that Harden and Westbrook are approaching their sunset years, but the chances of playing for a title are increased if the two players click sooner than later. There’s also a question of what Westbrook has left. His efficiency and 3-point shooting faded last season. Will defenses respect him when he’s left open in Houston? He at least appears to have more in the tank than Paul, which was another reason the Rockets were anxious to make this swap. For all of his explosiveness, Westbrook is rather durable and dependable; the same can’t be said of Paul as he approaches his mid-30s. Westbrook was sad to leave OKC, the only team he’d ever known, a city that embraced him and a franchise that gave him a supermax contract. Now he’s going to a new team where the demand for June basketball will only increase. The last time he and Harden were teammates, they did play in June, where they lost to LeBron James and the Miami Heat in 2012. Can they make a triumphant return together? Given all they’ve accomplished -- MVPs, scoring titles, triple-doubles, All-Star appearances -- they’re certainly due. A championship is all they’re missing. 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 26th, 2019

Hello, World Cup: A record field set for FIBA s main event

By Tim Reynolds, Associated Press SHANGHAI (AP) — The biggest basketball World Cup is about to begin. Many of the world’s top players — and a couple of the world’s top national teams — are not in China for the FIBA World Cup, a 32-team extravaganza that begins Saturday. At stake over the next 16 days: The world championship, along with seven of the 11 remaining available berths in next summer’s Tokyo Olympics. And several teams figure they can be the one to thwart the United States’ bid for an unprecedented third straight crown. “We’re here to go for gold,” said Sasha Djordjevic, the coach of Serbia — a team that some consider the tournament’s gold-medal favorite. “Every game that we play will be the biggest game for us.” The first eight games of the tournament are Saturday, and things will move quite rapidly. The eight-game-a-day pace continues through Sept. 9, with quarterfinal games on Sept. 10 and 11, semifinals on Sept. 13 with the event capped by the gold- and bronze-medal games in Beijing on Sept. 15. All told, 92 games will be played in eight cities. “We have nothing to lose,” said Japan guard Yuta Watanabe, whose team will face the U.S. in the group stage. FIBA changed much about the tournament for this edition. The event was moved back a year; the last World Cup was in 2014, and it was bumped to 2019 this time around to avoid going against the FIFA World Cup for men’s soccer in the same years. The field was expanded from 24 to 32 and qualifying rules were vastly altered largely to keep NBA and other pro-league players from helping their countries reach the event. For some nations, that became a huge problem. European champion Slovenia, the world’s seventh-ranked team, is not in the World Cup. Same goes for world No. 9-ranked Croatia, which lost eight of its 12 qualifying games. Yet for other nations, the changes sparked opportunity — Nigeria, Venezuela, Italy and Japan all qualified for the first time since 2006, and Poland made the field for the first time since 1967. “The World Cup is an unbelievable competition,” said Canada coach Nick Nurse, who doubles as coach of the NBA champion Toronto Raptors. “Great teams and coaches and scouting and work and preparation that will make anyone better for going through that. So I’m extremely honored and excited and humbled to be here.” Most of the top Americans aren’t in the World Cup, a few because of injuries, other candidates cited schedule concerns. Of the 35 leading scorers from this past NBA season who would have been eligible to play for the U.S. team, only two — Kemba Walker of the Boston Celtics and Donovan Mitchell of the Utah Jazz — are wearing the red, white and blue in China. “I’m more concerned with who is here than who isn’t,” U.S. coach Gregg Popovich said. For the international teams, though, there’s minimal concern about big-name absences. Greece is led by NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks, Serbia is led by All-NBA center Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets and France features third-team All-NBA center Rudy Gobert. And the host Chinese are hoping to make a splash as well. “It’s a rare opportunity for all of us,” former NBA player Yi Jianlian, now the Chinese captain, said in Beijing earlier this week. “You can feel the special duty when you see the national flag on your chest.” Some other things to know as the World Cup begins: FORMAT Teams were drawn into eight groups of four for the opening round, with the two top teams from each group making the round of 16 and the others going into classification games to determine 17th through 32nd place. Games are four 10-minute quarters, so regulation is eight minutes shorter than an NBA game. The 3-point line is a bit closer than in the NBA, especially from the top of the arc — that’s 22 feet, 2 inches in FIBA play, or 19 inches closer than the NBA stripe. The top two teams from the Americas, top two from Europe and top regional finisher form Asia, Africa and Oceania will clinch spots to join Japan in the 2020 Olympics; the last four spots in the 12-team field for the Tokyo Games will come down to qualifying next July. BEST GROUP The so-called “group of death” would be Group H, with Australia (which just beat the U.S. in a friendly to snap a 78-game winning streak by the Americans), Lithuania and Canada. All three of those teams are likely good enough to advance, yet only two will get to the round of 16 with a shot at the quarterfinals. Senegal rounds out that group. U.S. RECORD The Americans have won 19 consecutive World Cup (formerly known as the world championship) games, and are 14-0 in games in China when using a roster composed of NBA players (8-0 in the 2008 Olympics and 6-0 in other games there in 2006 and 2008). Mason Plumlee is the only player on this year’s U.S. World Cup team that was on the gold-medal-winning roster at this event in 2014. REFRESHER COURSE Seven of the eight quarterfinalists from the 2014 World Cup are in this year’s field. The U.S. beat Lithuania and Serbia beat France in the semifinals, and the Americans rolled to a 129-92 win in the gold-medal game behind 26 points from Kyrie Irving. France rallied in the fourth quarter to beat Lithuania for bronze 95-93. GLOBAL GAME FIBA, basketball’s global organizing body, says the tournament will be televised in at least 176 countries and territories......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 31st, 2019