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  • Bucks, Raptors ready to resume heated rivalry
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, February 25, 2020

    The Milwaukee Bucks and the Toronto Raptors will be seeing quite a bit of each other -- and that is even before a possible meeting in the playoffs.

    • After the Bucks visit the Raptors on Tuesday night, the teams will still have two more regular-season meetings, at Milwaukee on April 1, then at Toronto on April 3.

      The Bucks won the only meeting so far this season, 115-105 at home on Nov. 2.

      Neither team will be putting too much emphasis on regular-season results between the Bucks, who lead the Eastern Conference, and the Raptors, who are second in the East. The Bucks won the season series 3-1 last season and had an NBA-best 60 wins, but the Raptors won the Eastern Conference final in six games on the way to the NBA championship.

      "They're rolling and we're playing a little bit better," Raptors guard Fred VanVleet said. "Hopefully, we give ourselves a good shot. They kicked our (butts) all last year, too, in the regular season and it didn't much matter in the playoffs."

      The Raptors are coming off a 127-81 home victory Sunday over the Indiana Pacers, the largest margin of victory (46) in franchise history. They actually led by 49 points when Matt Thomas made a 3-pointer with 43 seconds to play.

      The Raptors have won 17 of their past 18 games.

      The Bucks have won 17 of their past 19 games after a surprisingly difficult 137-134 overtime road victory Monday over the Washington Wizards.

      The Bucks on Tuesday will be playing their third game in four days.

      "I watch them play and they win every game by 20 points and I don't know what to make of it, other than nobody can even come close to them, right?" Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. "I mean, I don't know what their margin of error is, but when I do watch them, it's boring. It's over by halftime half the time, and nobody ever really makes a threat. ... They're really good. They've really got it going. ... It'll be a challenge, but we'll be OK."

      The Bucks did not have one of those easy victories on Monday. Their star, Giannis Antetokounmpo, had 22 points and 14 rebounds when he fouled out with 1:33 left in regulation. The Wizards overcame a 17-point deficit to lead 123-121 with 1:01 to play.

      Khris Middleton, who finished with 40 points, took over in overtime and scored Milwaukee's final nine points.

      Over the weekend, the Bucks became the first team this season to clinch a playoff spot.

      "I feel like we got some of the best players in the league," Bucks guard George Hill told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel recently. "I feel like we still got an All-Star in Eric Bledsoe that got kind of snubbed -- to me. We've got K-Midd (Middleton), we got Giannis, we got the defensive player of the year -- in my opinion -- in Brook Lopez, we have a great bench, we have a great defender in Wes (Matthews), so I think we got a great team and we can compete with anybody."

      The Raptors are on a nine-game winning streak at home and are averaging 125.1 points and shooting .519 (415-800) from the field, including .413 (138-for-334) from 3-point distance, during that span.

      --Field Level Media

  • NBA roundup: Bucks overcome Wizards, Beal (55 points) in OT
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, February 25, 2020

    Khris Middleton scored 40 points as the visiting Milwaukee Bucks overcame Bradley Beal's career-high 55-point performance to earn a 137-134 overtime victory over the Washington Wizards on Monday.

    • Middleton shot 15 of 28 from the floor to excel in his second contest this season against the Wizards. He erupted for a career-high 51 points in Milwaukee's 151-131 win over Washington on Jan. 28. Giannis Antetokounmpo recorded 22 points and 14 rebounds before fouling out for the NBA-best Bucks, who have won 17 of their past 19 games.

      Beal followed a 53-point performance in the Wizards' 126-117 setback at Chicago on Sunday by making 19 of 33 shots -- including 8 of 13 from 3-point range -- against Milwaukee. Beal scored 47 points in the previous meeting with the Bucks.

      Shabazz Napier scored 27 points off the bench for Washington, which has dropped three in a row after entering the All-Star break with five wins in its previous seven games.

      Dallas Mavericks 139 - Minnesota Timberwolves 123

      Luka Doncic scored 10 of his 20 points in a 41-point, first-quarter explosion that propelled host Dallas to a victory over Minnesota.

      Despite playing just 25 minutes, Doncic also found time for a game-high-tying nine rebounds and seven assists, while Tim Hardaway Jr. scored a team-leading 23 points for the Mavericks. Dallas rebounded from a 111-107 loss at the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday, a game in which Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis did not play.

      D'Angelo Russell led all scorers with 29 points for the Timberwolves, who lost their ninth straight on the road and 18th in their last 19 games overall.

      Los Angeles Clippers 124, Memphis Grizzlies 97

      Kawhi Leonard had 25 points and eight rebounds to help Los Angeles crush visiting Memphis. Leonard, who rested in the fourth quarter, connected on 10 of 17 shots from the floor in 25 minutes.

      Montrezl Harrell contributed 22 points, while JaMychal Green and Marcus Morris chipped in 13 points apiece. Clippers forward Paul George, who missed Saturday's loss to the Sacramento Kings with a strained hamstring, returned but managed just seven points on 3-for-11 shooting in 21 minutes.

      Rookie point guard Ja Morant led the Grizzlies with 16 points, but Memphis' four other starters combined to produce only 15 points. Josh Jackson came off the bench to score 14 points, and Gorgui Dieng added 14 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks for the Grizzlies.

      Phoenix Suns 131 - Utah Jazz 111

      Devin Booker recorded 24 points and 10 assists to help Phoenix post a victory over Utah at Salt Lake City.

      Ricky Rubio added 22 points, 11 assists, six rebounds and a season-best seven steals to help the Suns defeat his former squad. Kelly Oubre Jr. scored 18 points, Deandre Ayton had 16 on 8-for-9 shooting and Dario Saric made all five of his shots en route to scoring 14 points.

      Donovan Mitchell scored 38 points for Utah, which lost its third straight game, all at home. The Jazz allowed their second-most points of the season.

      Houston Rockets 123 - New York Knicks 112

      James Harden paired 37 points with nine assists while Ben McLemore and Austin Rivers added valuable double-digit scoring production off the bench as Houston cruised to a victory over visiting New York.

      Harden, Westbrook and P.J. Tucker arrived just over an hour prior to tipoff after taking a private jet from Los Angeles following the memorial service for Lakers legend Kobe Bryant. McLemore scored 17 points on 4-for-9 3-point shooting while Rivers chipped in 14 points, including nine in the third quarter.

      Rookie RJ Barrett paced the Knicks with 21 points while Julius Randle added a double-double (17 points, 12 rebounds). Dennis Smith Jr. tallied 15 points and a career-high seven steals for the Knicks.

      Cleveland Cavaliers 125 - Miami Heat 119 (OT)

      Rookie Kevin Porter Jr. scored a career-high 30 points to help Cleveland overcome a 22-point, second-half deficit and rally past visiting Miami in overtime.

      Cleveland's late-game heroics were led by Larry Nance Jr., who had 16 points, including 14 after the third quarter. Cavaliers power forward Kevin Love, who missed two of the past three games due to a foot injury, returned and provided 17 points and 14 rebounds.

      Heat center Bam Adebayo narrowly missed a triple-double with 22 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists. He also blocked four shots and had three steals but committed six turnovers. Goran Dragic also had 22 points for the Heat, and Kendrick Nunn added 21.

      Philadelphia 76ers 129 - Atlanta Hawks 112

      Joel Embiid scored a career-high 49 points and grabbed 14 rebounds to lift host Philadelphia over Atlanta.

      Embiid produced 22 points in the fourth quarter and shot 14 of 15 overall from the free-throw line as the Sixers improved to a league-best 27-2 at home. It was also their 13th consecutive home victory. Tobias Harris added 25 for the Sixers, who won again without injured All-Star guard Ben Simmons (back).

      Trae Young paced the Hawks with 28 points and 10 assists while De'Andre Hunter added 22 points. John Collins had 21 points and nine rebounds while Bruno Fernando and Cam Reddish came off the bench to score 10 points.

      Orlando Magic 115 - Brooklyn Nets 113

      Aaron Gordon scored 12 of his 27 points in the fourth quarter and hit two clutch shots in the final two minutes as Orlando rallied from a 19-point deficit and posted a victory over Brooklyn in New York.

      Reserve Terrence Ross added 13 of his 21 points in the final quarter for the Magic, who shot 59.1 percent in the final 12 minutes. Evan Fournier contributed 21 points while Vucevic totaled 16 points and 10 rebounds as Orlando improved to 5-11 in its last 16 games.

      Spencer Dinwiddie led the Nets with 24 points but missed all four of his shots in the fourth. Caris LeVert added 19 while Garrett Temple contributed 18 for Brooklyn.

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: 76ers G Simmons (back) may miss extended time
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, February 25, 2020

    Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons is likely to miss an extended period of time after aggravating a back injury on Saturday, ESPN reported Monday, citing sources.

    • Simmons missed Monday night's game against the Atlanta Hawks, and will require further evaluation after leaving in the first quarter of Saturday's game at the Milwaukee Bucks due to lower back tightness.

      What steps Simmons' management team and doctors will take to improve his physical status could be determined as early as Tuesday, according to ESPN's report.

      Regarding how long Simmons will be out, 76ers coach Brett Brown said before a 129-112 win over the Atlanta Hawks on Monday, "I don't know. It really is kind of, like, how long is a piece of string? Who knows? Who knows? ... Whatever the time equals on days, games, period of time, then we can talk more honestly as this thing shakes out. But as it sits right now, that's how I see the world."

      Hurt while going up for a rebound in practice on Wednesday, Simmons aggravated his back injury midway into the first quarter of Saturday's 119-98 loss to the Bucks, playing less than five minutes. He was "emotional" after leaving the X-ray room in the Bucks' arena.

      Simmons winced in pain after going up for a layup. He exited the contest and immediately retreated to the locker room.

      The 23-year-old recorded 17 points and six rebounds in the All-Star Game before sitting out the 76ers' 112-104 overtime victory against visiting Brooklyn on Thursday with a balky back.

      Simmons, who was the top overall pick of the 2016 NBA Draft, is averaging 16.9 points, 8.2 assists, 7.8 rebounds and a league-leading 2.1 steals this season.

      --Field Level Media

  • Kings hope to continue domination of Warriors
    By Field Level Media / Monday, February 24, 2020

    The Sacramento Kings seek to continue their season mastery of the Golden State Warriors when the Northern California rivals meet in San Francisco on Tuesday night.

    • In an attempt to take their first season series from the Warriors since 2013, the Kings have won the first two meetings -- one at each site -- by a total of 34 points, holding Golden State under 100 points both times.

      The 100-79 and 111-98 Kings triumphs have been quite a reversal of fate in a series in which the Warriors had won 21 of the previous 24 contests before this season.

      The Kings have managed the easy wins despite not being at full strength either time. They were missing De'Aaron Fox in the 21-point romp at Golden State in December, then were without Bogdan Bogdanovic and Marvin Bagley III in the 13-point home triumph last month.

      Sacramento is still without Bagley, who has missed 13 straight games with a sprained left foot. The Kings announced this week that their young big man's status won't be re-evaluated until at least mid-March.

      The injury hasn't prevented the Kings from making a belated push to join the Western Conference playoff chase. They have won two in a row and five of seven, including a 112-103 shocker over the Clippers in Los Angeles on Saturday.

      "We've got 20-some-odd games left, and it's a crapshoot right now," veteran Kent Bazemore told reporters after contributing 23 points to Saturday's win. "It's a sink-or-swim moment. You see it every year: Some team gets hot and makes it interesting at the end. We have some lofty goals, and we have the group to get it done."

      Bazemore gets a bit of a homecoming at Golden State, where his career began when he was plucked out of the G League after going undrafted in 2012.

      The Warriors are hoping to have found a similar diamond in the rough in Juan Toscano-Anderson, who got a promotion from the G League after Golden State dealt D'Angelo Russell, Glenn Robinson III, Alec Burks, Omari Spellman and Jacob Evans at the trade deadline.

      Toscano-Anderson, a former standout at Castro Valley High in the shadow of the Warriors' former home in Oakland, has made the most of his opportunity so far, averaging 7.6 points and 4.2 rebounds in five games while shooting 57 percent from the field and 56 percent on 3-pointers.

      Toscano-Anderson had his best game in Sunday's 115-101 home loss to the New Orleans Pelicans, going for season bests in points (16), rebounds (eight) and blocks (two). He shot 6-for-10 overall and 3-for-5 on 3-pointers.

      "There's one thing you can't simulate no matter how much you work on your game, and that is game situations," he told reporters after Sunday's game. "With more playing time and more game experience, I become more comfortable, and I just learn every day from these guys. I'm learning from greats. I've got a great coach, great teammates, so I'm just here, and I'm soaking up a lot of knowledge from these guys."

      Toscano-Anderson's 3-point shooting could prove beneficial against the Kings, who have dominated their rivals from beyond the arc in the two earlier meetings. While Sacramento has made 25 of 52 (48 percent) in those wins, the Warriors have hit just 11 of 51 (22 percent).

      The Warriors are on a six-game losing streak.

      --Field Level Media

  • NBA notebook: Mourners pay tribute to Kobe
    By Field Level Media / Monday, February 24, 2020

    Kobe Bryant was remembered Monday as a man of passion, as a fierce competitor who turned his fire for basketball into a love for coaching children while putting his wife and their four daughters above all else.

    • The "Celebration of Life," held Monday at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, paid tribute to Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven others who were killed in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26 in Calabasas, Calif.

      Mourners packed the venue where Bryant played most of his 20 seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers and included some of the greatest stars in NBA history -- Michael Jordan, Jerry West, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bill Russell among them -- as well as his longtime teammates along with players and coaches for rival NBA teams. Commissioner Adam Silver and Lakers managing owner Jeanie Buss sat together.

      Jordan, tears streaming down his face, described the relationship he shared with Bryant, who entered the NBA in 1996 as an 18-year-old. "As I got to know him, I wanted to be the best big brother I could be," Jordan said.

      --Kobe Bryant's widow, Vanessa, filed a wrongful death suit against the company that operated the helicopter that crashed on Jan. 26, killing her husband, 13-year-old daughter and seven others.

      Vanessa Bryant's lawsuit seeks general damages, economic damages, punitive damages and more, the Los Angeles Times reported. It was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court against Island Express Holding Corp. and Island Express Helicopters.

      Pilot Ara Zobayan also was killed in the crash in Calabasas, Calif. He was shuttling the group from Orange County, where the victims lived, to an airport north of Los Angeles. They were headed to a youth basketball game.

      --Indiana Pacers guard Jeremy Lamb will miss the rest of the season with a torn left ACL.

      Lamb, 27, also tore the lateral meniscus and sustained a lateral femoral condylar fracture, the team said. His surgery has not been scheduled.

      The injury occurred during the second quarter of the Pacers' 127-81 loss in Toronto on Sunday night. Lamb started 42 of his 46 games in his first season with Indiana, averaging 12.5 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.2 steals per game.

      --Former Miami Heat great Dwyane Wade will have a street named after him.

      Miami Mayor Francis Suarez announced that Northeast Seventh Street, which runs perpendicular to Biscayne Boulevard in front of AmericanAirlines Arena, will be christened Dwyane Wade Boulevard. The mayor said in a video posted to Twitter that the Miami's city commissioners approved the resolution unanimously.

      "#Miami has always been #WadeCounty but, today, it's official. After giving @DwyaneWade the Key to the City, we're now designating the street fronting Biscayne Blvd as Dwyane Wade Blvd. This solidifies D Wade not only as a @MiamiHEAT hero, but a @CityofMiami hero," the mayor tweeted.

      --Field Level Media

  • Pelicans get another shot at Davis, Lakers
    By Field Level Media / Monday, February 24, 2020

    The New Orleans Pelicans, who haven't had an answer for Anthony Davis in their two encounters this season, will try to limit their former star's scoring binges when they visit the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday.

    • Davis is averaging 43.5 points in the two meetings. The former Pelican delivered a 46-point, 13-rebound effort in a 123-113 Lakers win in the last matchup, Jan. 3 at Los Angeles.

      Davis also scored 41 points and collected nine rebounds in 114-110 victory at New Orleans on Nov. 27. A late steal by Davis secured the decision.

      On Sunday, the Lakers extended their winning streak to five games by edging the Boston Celtics 114-112 in Los Angeles. Davis had 32 points and 13 rebounds, and LeBron James finished with 29 points, nine assists and eight rebounds. James also hit the winning bucket for the Lakers, who avenged an earlier beatdown by the Celtics in Boston.

      "Every game is its own challenge, and we knew this was going to be a playoff-type of atmosphere today," James said. "One, because of the rivalry. Two, because of how well they played against us in Boston. They beat the hell out of us there. And then three, just the simple fact that two teams that have aspirations of holding that trophy up at the end of the season.

      "We knew what we getting ourselves into, and they knew what they were getting themselves into, and it was a great game for both teams."

      The Lakers overcame Jayson Tatum matching his career high of 41 points. However, they held him to four points in the fourth quarter. Davis credited Lakers guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.

      "KCP came in with that pressure and put the pressure on Tatum to make some tough shots, and he did, but he forced him into some shots that he probably didn't want to take," Davis said.

      Pelicans rookie sensation Zion Williamson will be facing the Lakers for the first time, as he was recovering from a knee injury during the previous contests.

      Williamson, who has scored at least 20 points in eight consecutive games, sparked the Pelicans with 28 points on 13-of-20 shooting and grabbed seven rebounds in a 115-101 win over the Golden State Warriors on Sunday.

      Jrue Holiday had 23 points, 15 assists and seven rebounds for the Pelicans, who have won five of their past six games. Rookie Nicolo Melli equaled his career best with 20 points, converting 6 of 7 3-point attempts, while All-Star forward and former Laker Brandon Ingram finished with 17 points.

      New Orleans wiped out a 10-point halftime deficit and outscored Golden State 69-45 in the second half. Williamson helped initiate the second-half run and also provided some inspiration in the locker room at halftime.

      "He basically just said, 'Hey, let's go, we gotta play the way we are capable of playing. We have to some kinda way establish some consistency on how we are going to push the play and how we play,'" Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said, according to NBA.com. "He isn't your typical 19-year-old. He's a very mature kid, very respectful of his teammates, and they are respectful to him as well.

      "He is all about winning, just winning."

      --Field Level Media

  • McCollum picking up slack as Blazers visit Celtics
    By Field Level Media / Monday, February 24, 2020

    CJ McCollum is picking up the slack for injured teammate Damian Lillard.

    • The Portland shooting guard looks to follow up his best performance of the season when the Trail Blazers host the Jayson Tatum-led Boston Celtics on Tuesday night.

      Lillard is slated to miss his third straight game due to a groin injury, and McCollum is pushing the pace as a playmaker while putting the ball through the hoop.

      He matched his career high of 10 assists and scored 27 points in a loss to the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday. McCollum followed up with a career-best 12 assists and scored a season-high 41 points in Sunday's 107-104 home win over the Detroit Pistons.

      The victory over the Pistons also marked forward Carmelo Anthony's best game with the Trail Blazers, as he scored a season-high 32 points and matched his season best of five 3-pointers.

      "He's really good at pick-and-rolls, he sets great screens and he has that offensive repertoire where he shoots the mid-range and gets to isolation, so I was glad to see him wide open, especially down the stretch," McCollum said of Anthony in a postgame interview with NBCS Northwest. "That's what he's done for 16 years -- he hits big shots."

      McCollum equaled his season best of six 3-pointers and also collected nine rebounds. His all-around big performance helped the Trail Blazers snap a three-game losing streak as they try to chase down the eighth-place Memphis Grizzlies for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

      "We understood the importance of this win with our hopes of making the playoffs," McCollum said. "We need every game, especially at home and (Detroit) is under .500, so we just dug deep."

      The competition level will be tougher with the Celtics in town. Boston had won 12 of 14 games before losing 114-112 to the host Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday in an epic battle.

      LeBron James hit the decisive shot with 30.4 seconds left as the Celtics fell to 1-1 on a four-game road trip.

      "That's a great atmosphere," Boston shooting guard Jaylen Brown, who scored 20 points, told reporters. "It don't get too much better than that. To be honest, I had a great time. Even though we lost, it was fun being out there competing at the highest level, and it makes you thirsty for the postseason."

      Tatum was superb while matching his career high of 41 points. He is averaging 36 points over the past three games while continuing to increase his star status.

      Brown noted that it was time to move up the 21-year-old All-Star to a new level.

      "Tatum has reached a new height -- superstar level," Brown said. "We've all got to continue to improve and go with him. The way he's playing is unreal. We've got to continue to find ways to allow him to reach his potential."

      The Celtics missed All-Star point guard Kemba Walker (knee) for the second straight game. Still, Tatum didn't want to hear about who wasn't on the floor.

      "We still should've won," Tatum told reporters. "We know that. We can't make excuses when guys are out. That was definitely a game we should've won. ... That's all that really matters. I know what I'm capable of. My teammates know that. We know what each and every guy can do in here."

      Tatum has scored 20 or more points in 14 of the past 16 games. He is averaging 22.9 points and 7.0 rebounds per game.

      The Trail Blazers allowed an average of 93 points while winning both of last season's meetings against the Celtics.

      --Field Level Media

  • Nuggets set for rematch with rebuilding Pistons
    By Field Level Media / Monday, February 24, 2020

    The Detroit Pistons have just two wins in their last 12 games, a stretch of futility that started a month ago and continued with their sixth straight loss at the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday night.

    • One of the two wins the Pistons have celebrated was a 128-123 overtime victory over Denver on Feb. 2. Detroit capitalized against a tired, wounded Nuggets team that day, but it won't have that advantage in Tuesday night's rematch in Denver.

      The Nuggets have their entire roster available, while the Pistons are shedding players as they head toward another lottery in June. In the past week, Detroit has bought out Reggie Jackson and Markieff Morris and signed former University of Michigan star Derrick Walton to a 10-day contract.

      The Pistons also traded franchise centerpiece Andre Drummond to the Cleveland Cavaliers for John Henson, Brandon Knight and a second-round draft pick on Feb. 6. The changes have put Detroit squarely in the rebuilding column with 23 games left.

      That doesn't mean the Pistons are going to tank the rest of the season.

      "Our No. 1 thing is to maintain a competitive spirit, competitive edge, competitive outlook with our team because it's so easy," first-year coach Dwane Casey said last week. "You get situations where guys are hurt, guys are out, and guys hang their heads and feel sorry for themselves. We're in a situation not only to win games but also to develop a culture and go from there."

      Denver isn't going to take Detroit lightly, not after getting a scare from a Minnesota Timberwolves team in a similar situation as the Pistons. The short-handed Timberwolves played the Nuggets tough into the fourth quarter on Sunday before Denver pulled away for a 128-116 victory.

      The win snapped a brief two-game losing streak but it also prompted more questions about how coach Michael Malone will utilize his deep roster now that everyone is off the injury report.

      Torrey Craig was playing big minutes before the All-Star break and logged just nine Sunday. Rookie Michael Porter Jr., who was playing well before an ankle injury cost him the last six games before the All-Star break, has played 18 total minutes in the last two games.

      It's a balancing act Malone is trying to figure out while preparing for what he hopes is an extended postseason appearance.

      "That's the big question right now," Malone said Sunday. "Do you try to utilize the quality depth that we have, or do you say, with 26 to go, we're going to really pare this rotation down? My fear with that is, by the time we get to the playoffs, we're going to be on empty.

      "And then I don't want to just get to the playoffs this year. We want to make a deep run."

      Two players who won't have to worry about playing time are Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray. They have led the charge offensively all season but even more so in February. Jokic is averaging 27.3 points and Murray 26.4 in the month.

      Veteran Paul Millsap joined in Sunday, scoring a season-high 25 points in his best game since returning from a knee injury that cost him 16 games in January and February.

      "I've been out of the lineup for a while, so trying to get back in rhythm and figure things out," Millsap said Sunday.

      --Field Level Media

  • White seeks to continue streak at Bulls host Thunder
    By Field Level Media / Monday, February 24, 2020

    Coby White is being mentioned in the same sentence alongside Michael Jordan, and he also might have shot his way into Chicago's starting five.

    • White, who turned 20 last week, joined Jordan as the only rookies in franchise history with consecutive 30-point outings, and he will look for another strong showing when the Bulls host the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday night.

      White poured in 33 points in both games, including in Sunday's 126-117 home win over the Washington Wizards as Chicago snapped an eight-game losing streak.

      "It means a lot," White, a guard, told reporters of joining a club with Jordan, a fellow North Carolina star in college. "It's a blessing; he's the GOAT. You've just got to continue to get better, build from it and hopefully just stay consistent."

      Star guard Zach LaVine said he wants to see White turn the streak into a trifecta.

      "We need him to do things like that," LaVine said after Sunday's win. "I told him, 'Let's do it again next game. Keep it going, don't put a cap on it.'"

      Jordan had five streaks of three or more consecutive 30-point outings -- including one of four -- during his marvelous rookie season of 1984-85. He averaged 28.2 points and was named NBA Rookie of the Year.

      White isn't part of the top rookie conversation and is averaging 11.9 points in 58 games.

      All of his action has come as a reserve, but coach Jim Boylen indicated that could change after Sunday's big performance.

      "We got a second group that's playing pretty good again," Boylen told reporters. "We're also melding Coby into that first group at times in the game. So coming off two 33-point games, I don't know if it makes sense to do that. We'll examine it. We'll look at it."

      LaVine scored 32 points on Sunday against the Washington Wizards in Chicago's first victory since Jan. 27. He also made six 3-pointers to set a franchise single-season mark of 177, passing Ben Gordon (173 in 2008-09).

      The Bulls will try to gain a split of a four-game homestand when the Thunder invade the United Center.

      Oklahoma City is coming off a superb showing in Sunday's 131-103 win over the visiting San Antonio Spurs. The Thunder have won three straight games and 12 of their past 15.

      Oklahoma City had eight players score in double digits in the dismantling of the Spurs. Shooting guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had 22 points and 13 rebounds, and center Steven Adams recorded 21 points and 14 boards.

      "We are playing unselfishly, and that's what Coach (Billy Donovan) is telling us to do," Thunder reserve guard Dennis Schroder said afterward. "Just moving the ball, and people had great shots or good shots (and) then passing the ball for a great shot. It's just amazing to see."

      Oklahoma City shot 57.5 percent from the field, with starting guard Luguentz Dort (15 points on 6-of-6 shooting) and backup big man Nerlens Noel (10 points, 5 of 5) both with perfect accuracy.

      Dort, who is averaging 13 points over the past two games, has started 14 of 22 games played. He is currently a two-way player and is hoping to get a full-time contract from the Thunder.

      "Right now, I'm just staying patient," said Dort, who is averaging 6.4 points. "I know it's a great organization and they know what they are doing, so I'm really just staying patient and really just playing basketball and you know I can't wait until it happens for sure. That's my goal but like right now I'm really just staying patient and just really play."

      Point guard Chris Paul sat out the final 8:25 of the one-sided win over the Spurs to fall one rebound short of a triple-double. He had 12 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds.

      The Thunder have won four of the past five meetings with the Bulls, including a 109-106 home win on Dec. 16. Paul made 6 of 8 3-point attempts while scoring 30 points for Oklahoma City, while LaVine scored 39 points for Chicago.

      --Field Level Media

  • Without Lamb, Pacers look to start playoff push vs. Hornets
    By Field Level Media / Monday, February 24, 2020

    Tuesday's Eastern Conference matchup at Bankers Life Fieldhouse pitting the visiting Charlotte Hornets and Indiana Pacers features two teams that have endured recent struggles.

    • The Hornets' three-game winning streak ended on Saturday in a 115-86 blowout loss to Brooklyn, a game in which Charlotte shot just 35.2 percent from the floor.

      "The zone really disrupted us, took us out of our little motion (offense)," P.J. Washington told reporters following the loss.

      Saturday's game marked the seventh in which Charlotte -- the NBA's lowest-scoring team at 102.6 points per game -- fell short of 90 points.

      Even with Charlotte's three straight wins leading into and immediately out of the All-Star break, the Hornets are just 4-14 since a loss on Jan. 6. They endured losing streaks of eight and five games during that time and will try to avoid another losing skid beginning on Tuesday.

      That requires a turnaround from Charlotte's past two meetings with Indiana.

      The Pacers began the Hornets' eight-game slide on Jan. 6 with a 115-104 decision in Charlotte after routing the Hornets in their last visit to Indianapolis on Dec. 15, 107-85. The Hornets won a 122-120 overtime affair on Nov. 5.

      Indiana goes for the season-series win on Tuesday, and it may have to do so once again without Victor Oladipo.

      Oladipo, a 2018 and '19 All-Star, returned from a yearlong quadriceps injury on Jan. 29 and slowly integrated back into the lineup. He missed the Pacers' most recent outing -- a 127-81 blowout loss at Toronto -- because of a sore back that began with spasms in a win Feb. 21 at New York.

      Oladipo's status for Tuesday is uncertain.

      Without or with the two-time All-Star, Indiana seeks to reverse a recent trend -- they've lost seven of the past nine games -- that began before the All-Star break.

      The Pacers begin the week two games behind Philadelphia for the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference, and 3 1/2 behind Miami for the fourth seed and home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

      Coming out on the wrong side of such a lopsided game Sunday to the reigning NBA champion Raptors was "a wake-up call," Pacers coach Nate McMillan said.

      "That team is playing for something big, and they showed us what February, March, April, if you can get into May and June, what it's going to look like, and what you got to play against," he said in his postgame press conference. "They jumped on us, they came with the intensity, they play with a sense of urgency. That team is connected out there. We're back on our heels from the start of this game."

      Malcolm Brogdon's individual struggles underscored Indiana's team-wide problems in Toronto. He shot 4 of 15 from the floor, including 0 of 4 from 3-point range, and finished with just nine points.

      Sunday marked the sixth time Brogdon -- Indiana's third-leading scorer at 16.3 points per game -- scored in single digits since missing a stretch of 10 games since Dec. 31.

      Another of Indiana's top five scorers -- 12.5-point-per-game producer Jeremy Lamb -- sustained a serious knee injury on a fast-break dunk when he collided with a Toronto defender in mid-air. He suffered a torn ACL, torn lateral meniscus and a fractured left knee and is out for the season.

      "I'm not upset about it," Lamb told reporters after the game. "He tried to make a play on it, and that happens all the time. He bumped me in the air, and I hung on the rim, so I don't think it was dirty or nothing like that."

      --Field Level Media

  • Miami renames street after Heat great Wade
    By Field Level Media / Monday, February 24, 2020

    Former Miami Heat great Dwyane Wade will have a street named after him.

    • Miami Mayor Francis Suarez announced Monday that Northeast Seventh Street, which runs perpendicular to Biscayne Boulevard in front of AmericanAirlines Arena, will be christened Dwyane Wade Boulevard.

      "#Miami has always been #WadeCounty but, today, it's official. After giving @DwyaneWade the Key to the City, we're now designating the street fronting Biscayne Blvd as Dwyane Wade Blvd. This solidifies D Wade not only as a @MiamiHEAT hero, but a @CityofMiami hero," the mayor tweeted.

      He said in a video posted to Twitter that the Miami's city commissioners approved the resolution unanimously.

      The Heat retired Wade's No. 3 jersey in a ceremony Saturday night during halftime of the team's game against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

      He is the Heat's all-time leader in several categories, including points, assists, steals, games played and minutes played.

      Wade averaged 22.0 points per game in his career, which spanned 1,054 games -- 948 of them in Miami and the others in brief stops with the Cavaliers and his hometown Chicago Bulls. A 13-time All-Star, he retired as a member of the Heat following the 2018-19 season.

      --Field Level Media

  • Vanessa Bryant remembers Kobe as her 'everything'
    By Field Level Media / Monday, February 24, 2020

    Kobe Bryant was remembered Monday as a man of passion, as a fierce competitor who turned his fire for basketball into a love for coaching children while putting his wife and their four daughters above all else.

    • The "Celebration of Life," held Monday at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, paid tribute to Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven others who were killed in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26 in Calabasas, Calif.

      Mourners packed the venue where Bryant played most of his 20 seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers and included some of the greatest stars in NBA history -- Michael Jordan, Jerry West, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bill Russell among them -- as well as his longtime teammates along with players and coaches for rival NBA teams. Commissioner Adam Silver and Lakers managing owner Jeanie Buss sat together.

      Speakers included his widow, Vanessa; Jordan; longtime agent and friend Rob Pelinka, now the general manager of the Lakers; Shaquille O'Neal; Connecticut women's basketball coach Geno Auriemma; and two women who said they modeled their game after his, WNBA legend Diana Taurasi and Oregon star Sabrina Ionescu. Beyonce, Alicia Keys and Christina Aguilera delivered musical tributes.

      Jordan, tears streaming down his face, described the brotherly relationship he shared with Bryant, who entered the NBA in 1996 as an 18-year-old. The Hall of Famer discussed the late-night phone calls he'd get from Bryant, who wanted to learn from the man many consider the best who has ever played basketball.

      The calls, at first, were a "nuisance," Jordan said. But he said mentoring Bryant became a passion for Jordan because the Lakers star was so determined to improve his game, Jordan said.

      "As I got to know him, I wanted to be the best big brother I could be," he said.

      The focus of the nearly two-hour ceremony was not on Bryant the basketball player, but on Bryant the family man. Speakers talked of his relationship with his family, especially Gianna, who also perished in the crash. They were en route to one of her games at the Mamba Sports Academy the morning they died.

      Vanessa Bryant described the relationship she shared with her husband and her daughter, and the one they had with each other, during her 20-minute eulogy. She talked about how she and Gianna liked to watch baking shows together and about how Gianna and Kobe watched and traveled to basketball games as a twosome. Gianna liked to view Disney movies with her sisters, Natalia, Bianka and Capri.

      "Gigi was sunshine. She brightened my day, every day," her mother said.

      So did her husband.

      "I couldn't see him as a celebrity, nor just an incredible basketball player," Vanessa Bryant said of Kobe. "He was my sweet husband and the beautiful father of our children. He was my ... he was my everything."

      And she discussed the special bond Kobe and Gianna shared, built in part on her desire to be the next legendary basketball player in the Bryant family.

      "God knew they couldn't be on this earth without each other. He had to bring them home to heaven together."

      --Field Level Media

  • Pacers G Lamb out for season with torn ACL
    By Field Level Media / Monday, February 24, 2020

    Indiana Pacers guard Jeremy Lamb will miss the rest of the season with a torn left ACL.

    • Lamb, 27, also tore the lateral meniscus and sustained a lateral femoral condylar fracture, the team said Monday. His surgery has not been scheduled.

      The injury occurred during the second quarter of the Pacers' 127-81 loss in Toronto on Sunday night. He fell awkwardly along the baseline during a fast break in the second quarter.

      Lamb started 42 of his 46 games in his first season with Indiana, averaging 12.5 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.2 steals per game.

      He signed a three-year, $31.5 million contract with the Pacers in July after spending his first seven NBA seasons with the Oklahoma City Thunder (2012-15) and Charlotte Hornets (2015-19).

      In 481 career games (128 starts), Lamb has averaged 10.5 points, 3.7 boards and 1.6 assists.

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: Vanessa Bryant files wrongful death suit
    By Field Level Media / Monday, February 24, 2020

    Kobe Bryant's widow, Vanessa, filed a wrongful death suit Monday against the company that operated the helicopter that crashed on Jan. 26, killing her husband, 13-year-old daughter and seven others.

    • Vanessa Bryant's lawsuit seeks general damages, economic damages, punitive damages and more, the Los Angeles Times reported. It was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court against Island Express Holding Corp. and Island Express Helicopters.

      Pilot Ara Zobayan also was killed in the crash in Calabasas, Calif. He was shuttling the group from Orange County, where the victims lived, to an airport north of Los Angeles. They were headed to a youth basketball game.

      "Defendant Island Express Helicopters' breach of its duty and negligence caused the injuries and damages complained of herein and Plaintiffs' deceased, Kobe Bryant, was killed as a direct result of the negligent conduct of Zobayan for which Defendant Island Express Helicopters is vicariously liable in all respects," the lawsuit read, according to the Times.

      A Celebration of Life memorial for Kobe and Gianna Bryant and the other victims was to be held Monday at Staples Center, the home of the Los Angeles Lakers. Bryant spent 20 seasons with the Lakers.

      --Field Level Media

  • Mavs looks to feast on shorthanded Timberwolves
    By Field Level Media / Monday, February 24, 2020

    One team that's well rested as the result of a back-to-back matches up with another in the middle of a tough two-day sequence when the Dallas Mavericks play host to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday night.

    • Neither team has fared well of late, which is of more significance to the Mavericks, who are in a battle for playoff positioning in the Western Conference. The Timberwolves find themselves jockeying for lottery position.

      Dallas has gone just 7-8 in its last 15 games, including a split on a two-day, two-game trip to Orlando and Atlanta over the weekend.

      The Mavericks were rolling in a 122-106 win at Orlando on Friday, with Luka Doncic narrowly missing a triple-double with 33 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists, while Kristaps Porzingis went for 24 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks.

      Both were given Saturday off on the second night of the back-to-back, and the Atlanta Hawks took advantage with a 111-107 victory despite 33 points by Tim Hardaway Jr.

      The Mavericks didn't quietly pack their things and head back to Dallas after the game. Rather, owner Mark Cuban ranted about the officiating late in the game, and the Mavericks subsequently filed a protest over a key follow shot by the Hawks' John Collins with 8.4 seconds left.

      "So they call a goaltend," Cuban expressed on Twitter. "(The referees) literally blew the whistle that it was a goaltend. There was a putback after the whistle. After review they said no goaltend, but count the basket? (What) is that? That's NBA officiating."

      The NBA is expected to rule on the protest on Monday.

      Doncic and Porzingis are rested and expected to face the Timberwolves, which isn't good news for the visitors.

      When the Mavericks hosted Minnesota in December, Doncic contributed 22 points, seven rebounds and six assists to a 121-114 win, while Porzingis accumulated 19 points and six assists.

      The Timberwolves flew into Dallas late Sunday night after a competitive effort at Denver in which they were beaten 128-116.

      Minnesota opted to give D'Angelo Russell the night off, allowing him to join Karl-Anthony Towns (broken left wrist) on the bench, then used just nine players, with each getting at least 16 minutes.

      The loss was the Timberwolves' eighth straight on the road and 17th in 18 games overall as they adjust to a roster that was reshuffled at the trade deadline.

      Newcomers Malik Beasley (17), James Johnson (13) and Juan Hernangomez (seven) combined for 37 points in the loss to the Nuggets, while Jordan McLaughlin, who never left the bench in Minnesota's earlier loss at Dallas, recorded a double-double with 15 points and 10 assists.

      The game will be a homecoming of sorts for Timberwolves rookie Jarrett Culver, the Lubbock native and Texas Tech product who had 11 points, eight rebounds and six assists in his first NBA trip to Dallas.

      Generally a disappointment in his rookie season, Culver sees brighter days ahead now that the Timberwolves have acquired a quality point guard in Russell.

      "I can learn from (him)," Culver said to reporters recently. "When I do have the ball, (I can) see the things he does when he comes off pick-and-rolls. When I don't have the ball, (I'll) be able to cut and use him to be able to get looks. He's a great passer as well."

      --Field Level Media

  • Bucks trying to get better as they visit Wizards
    By Field Level Media / Monday, February 24, 2020

    The Milwaukee Bucks can hang their hat on a plethora of scintillating performances this season, and Giannis Antetokounmpo has had his sizable hand in most of them.

    • Arguably the best effort put forth by the Bucks came late last month against the Washington Wizards, a team they will visit on Monday night.

      Khris Middleton highlighted a career-high 51-point performance with seven 3-pointers as Milwaukee erupted for a season-best point total in a wire-to-wire 151-131 win over Washington on Jan. 28.

      The Bucks scored a franchise-record 88 points in the first half and shot a blistering 55.6 percent from the field, 51.4 percent from 3-point range and 91.4 percent from the free-throw line.

      Impressive numbers to be certain -- and they did it without Antetokounmpo, who sat out with an ailing right shoulder.

      Milwaukee is in the midst of a sterling 16-2 run and owns an NBA-best record of 48-8 heading into Monday's rematch. They have already clinched a playoff berth too, doing so without playing Sunday when the Wizards lost to the Chicago Bulls.

      Even more bad news for the Wizards: The reigning league MVP is expected to suit up with the mindset of improving his game.

      "I'm just trying to get better, because I know that my team wants me to be better, and I know when getting better, I can help my team win easily, put them in the right spots easily," said Antetokounmpo, who collected 31 points, 17 rebounds and eight assists in Milwaukee's 119-98 victory over Philadelphia on Saturday.

      "... We've got 26 more games until the playoffs. Just try to take as much of these 26 games, play good basketball, learn as much as possible, take notes, watch clips, so I can make my mind stronger and smarter -- and that's pretty much it."

      A scary notion indeed, considering Antetokounmpo boasts team-leading averages in points (30.0), rebounds (13.6) and assists (5.8) on a club that has recorded 18 20-point victories this season.

      "That's what we want him to do," fellow All-Star Middleton said of Antetokounmpo. "We want him to play aggressive and prove that he's the best player on the court every night, and we're going to be right behind him backing him up."

      Middleton has returned from the All-Star break with a flourish, making 21 of 33 shots to total 53 points to go along with 17 rebounds in two games.

      Washington answered a promising 5-2 stretch before the All-Star break with back-to-back setbacks to Cleveland and Chicago, much to the chagrin of coach Scott Brooks.

      "I don't think I've ever been on a team that gave up 16 'and-ones' in two nights. It's disappointing," Brooks said. "We talk about growing and playing with some toughness. Last two nights just wasn't the case ... and the 'and-ones' were about as soft as you can get."

      Bradley Beal, who initially had a season-high 47 points in the first meeting with Milwaukee, did himself six better for a career-best total of 53 in the Wizards' 126-117 loss to the Bulls.

      The 26-year-old Beal made 15 of 27 shots from the floor and 18 of 20 from the free-throw line to move past Jeff Malone into second place on the franchise's all-time scoring list.

      --Field Level Media

  • NBA roundup: LeBron gets Lakers past Celtics
    By Field Level Media / Monday, February 24, 2020

    Anthony Davis tallied 32 points and 13 rebounds and LeBron James recorded 29 points, nine assists and eight boards, and the Los Angeles Lakers weathered a career-high-tying 41-point effort by Jayson Tatum to beat the Boston Celtics 114-112 on Sunday at Staples Center.

    • The historic rivals went back-and-forth throughout the game, and right down to the wire. The Celtics took a 110-108 lead with 1:17 remaining when Jaylen Brown, who scored 20 points, knocked down a 3-pointer.

      Missed shots on both ends set a final 37 seconds that took several minutes due to a handful of officiating reviews and a technical foul assessed to Celtics coach Brad Stevens.

      James' fadeaway jumper with 30.4 seconds remaining gave Los Angeles the lead for good, with Davis making three free throws over the final 12 seconds to seal it.

      Toronto Raptors 127 - Indiana Pacers 81

      Pascal Siakam scored 21 points and Toronto led all the way to defeat visiting Indiana.

      Kyle Lowry had 16 points, 11 assists, seven rebounds and five steals for the Raptors, who have defeated the Pacers three times this month. The Pacers were without guard Victor Oladipo, who had a sore back.

      Serge Ibaka added 15 points and 15 rebounds for the Raptors, who have won 17 of their past 18 games. The Raptors' 46-point margin of victory marks the largest in franchise history.

      Oklahoma Thunder 131 - San Antonio Spurs 103

      Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored a game-high 22 points and Chris Paul narrowly missed a triple-double to lead Oklahoma City to a home victory over San Antonio.

      The Thunder got rolling in the second quarter, answering a Spurs run with 16 consecutive points to jump ahead. That stretch, like most of the game, came from a balanced scoring effort.

      Luguentz Dort, a rookie on a two-way contract, came up big for Oklahoma City with two big baskets in the 16-0 run, including a 3-pointer to finish off the stretch, and put the Thunder up 52-45.

      Denver Nuggets 128 - Minnesota Timberwolves 116

      Paul Millsap had a season-high 25 points, Nikola Jokic added 24, and host Denver beat shorthanded Minnesota, which had just nine players available.

      Jamal Murray had 19 points, Gary Harris and Monte Morris had 13 apiece and Jerami Grant added 12 for Denver, which has won eight straight against the Timberwolves.

      Kelan Martin scored a career-high 21 points, including 19 in the first half, while Malik Beasley had 17 in a balanced Minnesota attack. Jordan McLaughlin had 15 points and 10 assists, Jarret Culver had 14 points and Naz Reid added 13 for the Timberwolves.

      Chicago Bulls 126 - Washington Wizards 117

      Coby White scored 33 points off the bench, Zach LaVine added 32 points, and Chicago pulled away to beat visiting Washington.

      Thaddeus Young finished with 23 points for the Bulls, who snapped an eight-game losing streak. Tomas Satoransky posted a double-double against his former team with 15 points and 13 assists.

      Bradley Beal scored a career-high 53 points in a losing effort for the Wizards, who have lost back-to-back games. Beal shot 15 of 27 from the field, 5 of 11 from beyond the arc and 18 of 20 from the free-throw line.

      New Orleans Pelicans 115 - Golden State Warriors 101

      Rookie Zion Williamson scored 28 points, his most in a road game this season, and Nicolo Melli saved three of his six 3-pointers for the fourth quarter as New Orleans rallied over Golden State.

      Williamson shot 13-for-20 and added seven rebounds, six on the offensive end, helping the playoff-hopeful Pelicans win for the fifth time in their last six games.

      Damion Lee had 22 points and Jordan Poole 19 for the Warriors, who lost their sixth straight. Andrew Wiggins was held to eight points on 3-for-16 shooting in the loss, but did have a team-high 10 rebounds to complement four assists and two blocks.

      Portland Trail Blazers 107 - Detroit Pistons 104

      CJ McCollum scored a season-best 41 points, recorded a career-high 12 assists and also collected nine rebounds to lead Portland to a tight win over visiting Detroit.

      Carmelo Anthony tallied a season-high 32 points for the Trail Blazers, who played without star guard Damian Lillard (groin) for the second straight game. Hassan Whiteside added 16 points, 17 rebounds and four blocked shots as Portland halted a three-game skid.

      Christian Wood recorded 26 points and nine rebounds for Detroit, which has dropped six straight games. Brandon Knight and Derrick Rose scored 15 points apiece and Langston Galloway had 13 points.

      --Field Level Media

  • Lakers officially add F Morris, waive C Cousins
    By Field Level Media / Sunday, February 23, 2020

    The Los Angeles Lakers officially added forward Markieff Morris on Sunday and waived injured center DeMarcus Cousins, as expected.

    • The move comes two days after Morris agreed to a contract buyout with the Detroit Pistons.

      It was the second bit of welcome news for the Lakers on Sunday after they also defeated the Boston Celtics at home 114-112 for their fifth consecutive victory.

      Cousins is recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee sustained in August 2019 and has not played since the 2018-19 season.

      The Lakers received a disabled player exemption for Cousins at $1.75 million, according to ESPN, and Morris will sign for that amount, according to multiple reports.

      Cousins signed a one-year, $3.5 million contract with the Lakers in July 2019 after playing 30 regular-season games and eight postseason games for the Golden State Warriors in 2018-19. He also sustained a torn Achilles tendon in January 2018.

      In nine NBA seasons, Cousins has averaged 21.2 points, 10.9 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.2 blocks over 565 games (543 starts). According to NBA rules, Cousins can continue to rehab his knee at the Lakers' facilities, the New York Times reported.

      In 44 games (16 starts) with the Pistons this season, Morris averaged 11.0 points and 3.9 rebounds in 22.5 minutes. He also connected on 39.7 percent of his 3-point attempts.

      Morris' twin brother Marcus now plays for the Los Angeles Clippers after a trade earlier this month.

      "That's my brother man," Marcus Morris said, via ESPN. "Man, if he goes to L.A., then I'm gonna be in Staples Center all the time. I think maybe to y'all it might be weird that I'm going to all his games, but that's what'll probably happen. And we'll probably get a house together."

      --Field Level Media

  • Pacers G Lamb leaves game with sore knee
    By Field Level Media / Sunday, February 23, 2020

    Indiana Pacers guard Jeremy Lamb left Sunday's game at the Toronto Raptors with a sore left knee after taking a hard fall at the baseline in the second quarter, and is not expected to return.

    • In eight minutes of action, Lamb had five points on 1-for-6 shooting with one steal and one blocked shot.

      The Pacers already were without former All-Star guard Victor Oladipo, who was scratched because of sore back.

      Lamb, 27, entered Sunday's game averaging 12.7 points and 4.4 rebounds over 45 games (42 starts). This season marks his first with the Pacers after spending his first seven NBA seasons with the Oklahoma City Thunder (2012-15) and Charlotte Hornets (2015-19).

      --Field Level Media

  • Clippers look to turn things around vs. Grizzlies
    By Field Level Media / Sunday, February 23, 2020

    Kawhi Leonard said the Los Angeles Clippers weren't ready to play Saturday before losing at home to the Sacramento Kings. He doesn't expect that to be the case Monday when the Clippers host the Memphis Grizzlies.

    • Leonard had 31 points, eight rebounds and five assists, but he and the Clippers managed only two points in the final six minutes in a 112-103 defeat.

      "I just don't feel like we were locked in early and it just took too late," Leonard said to the Los Angeles Times. "It was too late for us to turn that switch on."

      It was the third straight loss for Los Angeles, which looked rusty after being off nine days during the All-Star break. Against the Kings, the Clippers missed 20 of their first 24 shots from the floor and managed a season-low 13 points in the first quarter. Sacramento led the game until the fourth quarter, when Los Angeles briefly grabbed the lead.

      However, after newly acquired guard Reggie Jackson converted a 3-pointer with 6:03 remaining, the Clippers didn't score again until Leonard slammed an alley-oop pass from Marcus Morris with 57.5 seconds left. By then, the outcome had been practically decided.

      "At the end of a game, there's going to be times you're not going to score but you can't let the other team score," Clippers coach Doc Rivers said.

      The Clippers played without two of their key performers -- Paul George (strained hamstring) and Patrick Beverley (groin injury). Jackson, who was waived by the Detroit Pistons last week, and Morris, acquired in a three-team trade Feb. 6 and playing just his fourth game with the Clippers, started in their places.

      In his first game with the Clippers, Jackson finished with eight points on 3-of-9 shooting in 23 minutes. After a scoreless first half, Morris finished with six points, two rebounds and five turnovers in 32 minutes.

      Lou Williams had 24 points and Montrezl Harrell added 16 for the Clippers, but it wasn't enough.

      The Grizzlies fell 117-105 to the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday. Josh Jackson came off the bench to score a season-high 20 points for the Grizzlies, who have dropped the first two of their four-game road swing. Ja Morant had 17 points on 5-of-14 shooting but committed five turnovers.

      The Grizzlies rallied from a 25-point third-quarter deficit and closed to within four in the fourth quarter before fading.

      "Guys are turning it up after the All-Star break," guard Dillon Brooks, who finished with seven points on 3-of-14 shooting before fouling out, told the Memphis Commercial-Appeal. "We got to hold our own and come out every single game like we came out in the second half. It's intensity, focus, we just need to lock in."

      The Grizzlies will have to raise their play without power forward Jaren Jackson Jr., who sustained a sprained left knee late in the second quarter against the Lakers. Jackson will be re-evaluated in two weeks, the club said Sunday.

      Jackson is the team's second-leading scorer at 16.9 points per game.

      --Field Level Media

  • Ayton peaking as Suns visit Jazz
    By Field Level Media / Sunday, February 23, 2020

    The Phoenix Suns have been waiting for second-year center Deandre Ayton to start regularly stringing together big performances.

    • That time appears to be getting closer for the 2018 No. 1 overall pick as the Suns face the Utah Jazz on Monday night in Salt Lake City.

      Ayton recorded 28 points, 19 rebounds and three blocked shots when the Suns posted a 112-104 road win over the Chicago Bulls on Saturday. It was his sixth double-double in seven games this month, and he scored 20 or more points in five of the games.

      "His dominance on both ends, scoring around the basket and guarding at the rim, guarding in one-on-one situations after a switch," Phoenix coach Monty Williams said of Ayton's play. "Twenty-eight (points) and 19 boards, that's a monster night. I told him, we need him to play with that type of disposition every night."

      Ayton also had 28 points and 19 boards in a loss to the Denver Nuggets on Feb. 8 before missing the final two games before the All-Star break due to an ankle injury.

      His return against Toronto on Friday wasn't all that enthralling as he had 17 points and 10 rebounds in a 118-101 loss.

      Ayton bounced back a night later with a 12-of-20 shooting performance in Chicago. He collected 10 offensive rebounds and was superb during the fourth quarter, when he had 12 points and eight rebounds.

      "It's one thing when you hear it from Coach on doing the right thing, but it's another thing hearing it from your teammates," the 21-year-old Ayton told reporters. "Those (guys) you see every day laughing and joke around, goof around with, but when it's serious time, you know when they're serious.

      "So just hearing it from everybody saying how much I can take over this game. I just woke up."

      Ayton's season-high outputs are 31 points and 21 rebounds. He's averaging 19.0 points and 12.2 boards but has played in just 25 games due to a 25-game suspension for violating the NBA's drug policy.

      Ayton will look for another strong effort when he goes up against two-time reigning NBA Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert on Monday.

      The Jazz have won the past eight meetings and 15 of 16. Utah posted a 96-95 win in Phoenix on Oct. 28 while Ayton served his suspension.

      Utah has sputtered coming out of the All-Star break, suffering consecutive home losses to the San Antonio Spurs and Houston Rockets. The Jazz had no answers for Houston's backcourt in Saturday's 120-110 loss as James Harden scored 38 points and Russell Westbrook added 34.

      The Jazz held a four-point halftime lead before Houston took control by outscoring Utah 38-19 in the third quarter.

      "We're not good enough to just walk in games and play lackadaisical and take possessions off," veteran point guard Mike Conley told reporters. "Good teams like (Houston) will beat us. Our energy was low in the third quarter. I think we didn't come out with the same energy that we left the first half with."

      Utah coach Quin Snyder noticed, especially on a night when the Rockets outscored his team by 39 points from 3-point range. Houston was 20 of 48 while the Jazz were 7 of 31.

      "When we don't make shots, it really impacts our defense," Snyder said. "That said, I thought in the third quarter, we didn't have the same energy we needed on the defensive end. We didn't get our hands on balls, we didn't get deflections, and we fouled just once which tells you a little about our (lack of) aggressiveness."

      All-Star shooting guard Donovan Mitchell scored 31 points one night after netting just 12 in the loss to the Spurs.

      --Field Level Media

  • Grizzlies F Jackson (knee) out at least 2 weeks
    By Field Level Media / Sunday, February 23, 2020

    Memphis Grizzlies forward Jaren Jackson Jr. will be sidelined with a sprained left knee for at least two weeks, the team said Sunday.

    • Jackson left Friday's 117-105 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers in the second quarter following an awkward fall while trying to contest a shot.

      Jackson, 20, ranks second on the team with 16.9 points per game in his second NBA season. He's also averaging 4.7 rebounds, 1.6 blocked shots and 1.4 assists in 54 games (all starts) and shooting 39.7 percent from 3-point range.

      The No. 4 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft out of Michigan State, Jackson averaged 13.8 points and 4.7 rebounds in 58 games (56 starts) as rookie in 2018-19.

      The team said Jackson will be reevaluated in two weeks, meaning he would miss a minimum of eight games.

      --Field Level Media

  • Rockets look to continue surge vs. Knicks
    By Field Level Media / Sunday, February 23, 2020

    The sample size is small, but in their first two games since the All-Star break, the Houston Rockets appear to be clicking at full force.

    • While posting double-digit wins over the Golden State Warriors and Utah Jazz, both on the road, the Rockets converted 45 of 97 3-pointers for a robust 46.4 percent from behind the arc.

      Their floor spacing has been tremendous and their depth -- bolstered by the recent additions of Jeff Green and DeMarre Carroll plus the return from injury of Eric Gordon -- has overwhelmed opponents.

      Houston has won seven of nine games and will seek to continue building upon that momentum Monday when it hosts the New York Knicks.

      The Rockets climbed to fourth in the Western Conference with their 120-110 win over the Jazz, one game behind the third-place LA Clippers. Having pursued viability as a contender all season, Houston appears to have found it.

      "If we guard at a high level like we've been doing, the sky's the limit for us," Rockets guard James Harden told reporters. "We've got to continue to get better possession by possession.

      "We've got to try to put (together) a four-quarter game like that. And we're working on it."

      Defensive vigor remains a sporadic attribute for the Rockets, but with the offense clicking, Houston needs only to be solid on that end of the court. The byproduct of the floor spacing resulting from playing small has fully unlocked guard Russell Westbrook for rim attacks.

      Westbrook is averaging 34.2 points (on 55.8 percent shooting), 7.0 rebounds and 5.6 assists since the Rockets jettisoned center Clint Capela at the trade deadline. Harden is averaging 30.5 points, 5.8 rebounds and 7.7 assists during that same span, and Houston has put opponents in compromising positions regarding how they aim to guard the Rockets' bevy of shooters.

      Utah attempted to utilize center Rudy Gobert against Westbrook. The results were unfavorable.

      "Everybody's been doing it," Westbrook said of being defended by a big. "I don't know if it's working."

      For the Knicks, the game against Houston will mark just their second since the return from the All-Star break. The Knicks had two practices prior to their 106-98 loss to the Indiana Pacers on Friday and had two more scheduled in advance of their meeting with the Rockets.

      It is rare for teams to encounter such open expanses on the calendar, and the youthful Knicks made it an emphasis to take advantage of the opportunity to continue the process of growth and development.

      The Knicks have dropped three consecutive games following a season-best four-game winning streak, and having played just three games over the previous two weeks affords them the chance to solidify their foundation with attention focused squarely on the future.

      "What we have talked about is ... what we control is today," Knicks coach Mike Miller said. "Let's take care of today. Let's get better today. Everybody in the building is working to try to get better. And if we can do that and keep our energy going in that direction, they have proven that when they do that they can have success and they can help themselves."

      --Field Level Media

  • Nets aim to continue strong play vs. reeling Magic
    By Field Level Media / Sunday, February 23, 2020

    While the Brooklyn Nets and Orlando Magic are entrenched in the seventh and eighth spots in the Eastern Conference, they are trending in opposite directions of late.

    • The Nets look to continue their surge while the Magic hope to start getting on a hot streak Monday night when the teams convene in Brooklyn, N.Y.

      Brooklyn enters the contest with a 2 1/2-game lead over Orlando. In essence, the Nets hold the edge over the Magic in the race to avoid facing top-seeded Milwaukee in the postseason.

      Brooklyn sports an 8-4 mark since losing five in a row to elite teams from Jan. 14-23.

      The Nets have six wins over sub-.500 teams in this stretch and seven victories by double digits. During the last 12 games, the Nets are allowing 105.4 points.

      The latest win was a 115-86 rout at Charlotte on Saturday as the Nets rebounded nicely from squandering a 20-point lead and scoring one point in overtime at Philadelphia on Thursday. Brooklyn posted its second-largest margin of victory this season by holding the Hornets to 35.2 percent shooting and outscoring Charlotte 60-41 in the second half.

      Saturday was Brooklyn's second game since announcing Kyrie Irving would miss the rest of the season.

      The Nets saw eight players score in double figures while shooting 48.3 percent. Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot scored 21 points, Caris LeVert added 17 while Garrett Temple (15 points, 11 rebounds) and Jarrett Allen (12 points, 11 rebounds) posted double-doubles.

      "We played with a chip on our shoulder," said Nets coach Kenny Atkinson, whose team endured a stretch of 12 losses in 14 games from Dec. 26-Jan. 23.

      "I think we wanted to prove something. I felt it before the game in the locker room. We feel like we can still do something special."

      Orlando is ahead of ninth-place Washington and 4-11 since getting within one game of .500 on Jan. 15 when Markelle Fultz had a triple-double in a road win over the Los Angeles Lakers. The Magic own one of the league's worst offenses and are averaging 103.5 points in their last 15 games.

      Orlando is allowing 105.7 points, which is amongst the best scoring defenses in the league. The Magic, however, are allowing 110.8 points in the last 15 contests.

      The Magic are starting a stretch where they play seven of nine on the road. They are coming off a 2-2 homestand in which they defeated Atlanta and Detroit but absorbed 16-point losses to Milwaukee and Dallas.

      "It's a big game, but for us every game going forward are big ones," Orlando center Nikola Vucevic said. "But with that one (in Brooklyn), it's a head-to-head matchup, so it could be very important down the line for that (seventh) seed if we're tied."

      On Friday, the Magic endured a rough night from behind the 3-point line by making only 9 of 43 attempts (20.9 percent) and shooting 39.4 percent overall in a 122-106 loss to Dallas.

      The Nets are 10-2 in the past 12 home meetings with Orlando.

      In the first encounter this season on Jan. 6, however, Fultz scored 25 points and Vucevic grabbed 24 rebounds in the Magic's 101-89 home win.

      --Field Level Media

  • Heat retire Wade's jersey in emotional ceremony
    By Field Level Media / Sunday, February 23, 2020

    The Miami Heat honored legendary guard Dwyane Wade on Saturday night, retiring his No. 3 jersey and lifting it to the rafters of AmericanAirlines Arena.

    • Joined by his family at halftime of the Heat's win over the Cleveland Cavaliers, the 38-year-old Wade thanked everyone from his parents to childhood coaches to his teammates to team president Pat Riley.

      "Dwyane Wade really never ever wanted to be considered anything else other than the best," Riley said at the start of the lengthy halftime ceremony. "He wanted to be unique. He wanted to separate himself from the pack. He did that. And what he did more than anything else in this city and for this franchise and for all of his loyal fans -- and for all of you kids out there who one day aspire to be who he is and who he became -- is he has left footprints for others to follow."

      Wade's jersey retirement ceremony was part of three days of festivities in Miami, called "L3GACY Celebration," to mark his career with the Heat, who made the Marquette product the No. 5 overall pick in the 2003 NBA Draft. He is the team's all-time leader in several categories, including points, assists, steals, games played and minutes played.

      He averaged 22.0 points per game in his career, which spanned 1,054 games -- 948 of them in Miami and the others in brief stops with the Cavaliers and his hometown Chicago Bulls. A 13-time All-Star, he retired as a member of the Heat following the 2018-19 season.

      On Saturday night, Wade's framed jersey sat on the court, as did the three Larry O'Brien NBA Championship trophies won by Wade and his teammates. He watched as video tributes played, and as he took the court, he started his words with a message to his son, Zaire, who plays high school basketball in Southern California with LeBron James' son, Bronny.

      "This is it. I'm getting out of your way now," he told Zaire.

      And he concluded his remarks with a tribute to Kobe Bryant, who was killed with his daughter and seven others in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26.

      "Kobe said the most important thing is to try to inspire others so they can be great in whatever they try to do," Wade told the capacity crowd. "I hope I inspired you. Thank you for making me a part of your legacy. Please know you're a huge part of mine."

      --Field Level Media