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  • Thunder's Diallo defeats Knicks' Smith for Slam Dunk title
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, February 16, 2019

    CHARLOTTE -- Rookie Hamidou Diallo showed off his imagination and 44-inch vertical leap to claim the NBA's Slam Dunk Contest on Saturday.

    • The Oklahoma City Thunder guard needed a 43 to win on his second and last dunk of the finals to beat New York Knicks guard Dennis Smith Jr. for the crown. Diallo called on rapper Quavo to hold the ball just above his head, sprinted from the right corner of the court and crammed a walk-off, two-hand jam.

      The dunk received a 45.

      "Atmosphere was great," Diallo said. "I just came out and gave the crowd what they were looking for."

      There were props and propellers, guest appearances and perfect 50s, but in the end the night belonged to Diallo, a second-round pick out of Kentucky who was a five-star recruit out of high school.

      "I was a little nervous," Diallo said, adding that he would give the golden basketball trophy to his mom.

      On his first finals dunk, Diallo was eye-to-rim, taking the ball off a bounce to the right side of the rim and authoritatively flushing it for a score of 43.

      After a botched first dunk in the finals, Smith brought Dwyane Wade and Stephen Curry to the court. He stationed Wade in the middle of the lane facing the basket and Curry to Wade's right. Curry lobbed the ball as Smith vaulted over Wade, caught the ball and put down a right-handed windmill for a perfect 50, to the rousing response of boos from the crowd.

      Smith missed two dunks on his first turn in the finals and was given scores of seven across the board for a 35.

      In the opening round, Diallo rolled a ball rack into the middle of the lane preparing for his second dunk. He opted instead to call for "the biggest person in the building." Shaquille O'Neal was positioned four feet from the basket, and Diallo skied over the 7-footer and finished with his right arm stuffed inside the rim.

      Diallo was given a 50, and he had a total of 98 on his first two dunks.

      Diallo was a stuntman in the first round, too. He pulled teammate Russell Westbrook out of the crowd and charged from the corner down the baseline, caught Westbrook's lob and stuffed home a lefty windmill to put up a 48, including scores of 10 from three of the five judges.

      Smith tallied a 95 total on his two first-round tries.

      Smith put on J. Cole's high school number 15 jersey, and seated the performer in a folding chair outside the charge circle. Charging from the right wing, Smith took a lob and reared back with his right hand for a powerful finish and perfect 50.

      On his first dunk, Smith started from the right wing and lobbed the ball into the lane, catching the ball on the bounce for a 360-degree slam. After halting on the first and fourth attempts, and missing the second and third throw-downs, Smith completed the dunk on his fifth try. He scored 45, with a 9 from all five judges.

      Charlotte Hornets guard Miles Bridges donned a Larry Johnson jersey and made up for a botched first round. All-Star Kemba Walker cameoed, laying the ball off the side of the backboard. Bridges grabbed the ball and flushed a 360 for a perfect 50.

      On his first try, Bridges lobbed the ball off the backboard on the left side of the rim, caught it and pulled the ball under his right leg before trying a windmill. He missed all three tries and scored 33.

      Atlanta Hawks forward John Collins wrapped a towel around his neck, wore an old-fashioned leather pilot's cap and leapt over a wooden airplane -- kicking the tail off going to the air -- and was given a 42.

      Collins opened the competition running on the baseline, grabbing the side of the backboard with has left hand and cramming home a reverse with his right to earn a 40.

      Former Boston Celtics guard Dee Brown, former Hornets and Miami Heat center Alonzo Mourning, ex-Denver Nuggets guard David Thompson, Los Angeles Sparks star Candace Parker and reigning WNBA Rookie of the Year A'ja Wilson comprised the panel of judges.

      --By Jeff Reynolds, Field Level Media

  • Nets' Harris knocks off Warriors' Curry in 3-Point Contest
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, February 16, 2019

    CHARLOTTE -- Brooklyn Nets guard Joe Harris defeated Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry in the 3-Point Contest on All-Star Saturday Night at Spectrum Center.

    • Harris made nine in a row on the second and third racks and again mopped up on the moneyball rack with all five going in for a 26-point round. He reached the finals with 25 points in the opening round.

      Curry, who made the three-man finals along with Sacramento Kings guard Buddy Hield, fell short despite making nine of his first 10 to open the championship round. He finished with 24 points in the finals.

      Harris said, "Just fortunate to be here, we were talking about it coming in, some of the best shooters of all-time."

      He added that he gained an edge by starting the event as the first shooter.

      "I actually thought it'd be an advantage," Harris said.

      Hield went 4 of 5 on each of the final two racks and totaled 19 in the finals.

      Curry brought the crowd to its feet with 27 first-round points, draining all five of his final tries on the moneyball rack and 10 straight.

      Each shooter had five racks of five basketballs, one in each corner, one on each wing and one at the top of the key. Four of the racks have a moneyball, worth two points, and one rack is positioned at the shooter's preferred location -- with five moneyballs. That rack has a potential value of 10 points.

      Curry was the second-to-last shooter in the opening round, before defending champion Devin Booker of the Phoenix Suns finished with 23 to bow out, sending Curry, Hield and Harris to the finals.

      Hield claimed the early first-round lead with 26 points with four made moneyballs on his final rack.

      Harris set the bar high out of the gate to open the shooting. He drained all five of his shots on his final rack and made nine of his final 10 to rack up 25 points in the first round.

      Toronto Raptors guard Danny Green nearly put himself in the finals with 23 points.

      Seth Curry put up 16 points, sparked by a streak of four splashes in a row on his second rack, before Portland Blazers teammate Damian Lillard was credited with 17 points. Lillard was dropped from the leaderboard by Green.

      "It's like a dream come true coming out here," said Seth Curry, a Charlotte native who is Stephen Curry's brother. "I dreamed of being in the 3-Point Contest ... and putting on a show."

      Hometown favorite Kemba Walker of the Charlotte Hornets had 15 points, getting three of his five from the moneyball rack to go down. Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki, a former 3-point champion, ran out of gas and had 17 points.

      After making his first three attempts, Milwaukee Bucks forward Khris Middleton had 11 points.

      --By Jeff Reynolds, Field Level Media

  • Celtics' Tatum wins Skills Challenge
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, February 16, 2019

    CHARLOTTE -- Two days, two wins at 2019 All-Star Weekend for Celtics forward Jayson Tatum.

    • Tatum won the Skills Challenge on Saturday night with a game-winning shot two strides over halfcourt, taking down Hawks rookie point guard Trae Young in the finals.

      "Trae was already ahead of me," Tatum said. "I just tried to have fun. Threw one up, and it went in."

      On Friday night, Tatum scored 30 points and finished as runner-up in the MVP voting to the Los Angeles Lakers' Kyle Kuzma in the Rising Stars game. Both Tatum and Kuzma were part of the winning U.S. team that beat the World team.

      The All-Star Skills Challenge consisted of an untimed obstacle course covering three lengths of the court. To start, players weave right, then left through five NBA logos -- upright steel-frame versions standing about 5 feet. Once they hit the 3-point arc at the opposite end, they must fire a chest pass through a narrow cylinder, then pick up another basketball under the hoop before sprinting the distance of the court to make a layup or dunk.

      From there it's a footrace to the opposite end of the court. The first player to make the top-of-the-key 3-pointer wins.

      Players didn't practice the course, and Tatum said the chest pass was the hardest part.

      "That's harder than it looks," he said.

      Nuggets forward Nikola Jokic lost to Tatum in the semifinals, missing his 3-pointer as Tatum's dropped from the left side of the key. Young sprinted ahead of Mavericks rookie Luka Doncic and banged in a winner off the glass before Doncic's first attempt clanged off the rim.

      Orlando's Nikola Vucevic (Jokic), Memphis' Mike Conley (Tatum), Sacramento's De'Aaron Fox (Young) and Kuzma (Doncic) were eliminated in the first round.

      --By Jeff Reynolds, Field Level Media

  • NBA to partner in new 12-team league in Africa
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, February 16, 2019

    The NBA plans to further its global reach, announcing Saturday from All-Star Weekend in Charlotte, N.C., that it will partner with the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) to start a 12-team league in Africa beginning in January 2020.

    • The new league, to be called Basketball Africa League (BAL) is the NBA's first collaboration to operate a league outside of North America.

      Qualification tournaments will take place later this year to determine the BAL's 12 teams. Teams from several African countries will participate, including Angola, Egypt, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa and Tunisia. The BAL will not take more than two teams from any one country.

      "The Basketball Africa League is an important next step in our continued development of the game of basketball in Africa," NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. "Combined with our other programs on the continent, we are committed to using basketball as an economic engine to create new opportunities in sports, media and technology across Africa."

      The NBA will also introduce direct-to-consumer offerings of NBA games for fans in Africa, including features and localized content.

      In addition, the NBA and FIBA has pledged financial support for the infrastructure of basketball in Africa, including skills camps for players, coaches and referees.

      --Field Level Media

  • Last dance? Dirk, D-Wade bask in fading All-Star glow
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, February 16, 2019

    CHARLOTTE -- Dirk Nowitzki wants to be everywhere, treating his final NBA All-Star Weekend as if it were his first.

    • The novelty is not gone for Nowitzki, the Dallas Mavericks' forward who entered the NBA in the 1998 draft out of Germany, who is serving as an honorary All-Star Sunday as part of Team Giannis.

      "This could be the last time I'm on this stage. I'm taking it all in," Nowitzki, 40, said Saturday during a practice at Bojangles Coliseum.

      Revived by rookie wunderkind Luka Doncic and his other "half-my-age" teammates, Nowitzki hasn't decided whether to play next season -- Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has a spot in the organization waiting either way -- but Nowitzki wants to be on the court Sunday.

      "This isn't getting old," Nowitzki, a 14-time All-Star, said after a self-deprecating jab at his own age.

      Friday night Nowitzki acted as an assistant coach for Team World in the Rising Stars Challenge. And if he finds a seat he likes Saturday night, he'll be there for the 3-point shootout and slam dunk competition, too.

      Dwyane Wade turned 37 in January and is an All-Star with Team LeBron. Wade said last week his only goal with to throw James, his former teammate with the Miami Heat and Cleveland Cavaliers, one final lob.

      Wade conceded Saturday he has bigger goals, but he doesn't know if he will find five minutes or 20 in the game.

      "I'm excited for it," said Wade, an All-Star for the 13th time. "LeBron being the captain, picking me to be on his team, this is the perfect ending to me and his careers like this."

      --By Jeff Reynolds, Field Level Media

  • LeBron, Durant applaud Kaepernick
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, February 16, 2019

    CHARLOTTE -- LeBron James applauded former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick for resolving a standoff with the league over collusion claims in a settlement announced on Friday.

    • "It's important to stick up for what you believe in. I stand with Kaep. I kneel with Kaep," James said. "I feel what he was talking about, nobody wanted to listen to. Nobody ever wanted to really actually understand where he was coming from. Anybody that would sacrifice their livelihood for the better of all of us, I could respect that. He's done that. You got a guy that basically lost his job because he wanted to stand for something that was more than just him.

      "I'm happy to see the news come out yesterday that he won his suit. I hope it's a hell of a lot of money that could set not only him up, set his family up, set his grandkids up for the rest of their lives. And I hope the word of what he did will live on throughout American history, but also world history, because it's important for all of us, not only African Americans but for everybody that wants to stand up for something that's more important than them."

      James was swarmed by hundreds of media Saturday morning at All-Star Media Day at Bojangles Coliseum, south of downtown Charlotte, where he touched on topics ranging from social justice to his favorite pregame tunes.

      Appearing Sunday in his 15th consecutive All-Star Game, James said he has realized in recent years his role includes being an outspoken advocate and voice for those who feel silenced.

      James had his own media clash with Fox News host Laura Ingraham, who infamously told James to "shut up and dribble" rather than share his political opinions and viewpoints. James described the overwhelming urge to stand up as a feeling that overtook his body.

      "I knew at that moment, I knew that it was bigger than basketball and I had to say something," James said. "It wasn't just about me. It was about all of us. It'd be like telling [the media] to ‘shut up and just write.' You guys not having a platform. Or just shut up and be a doctor, just shut up and be a lawyer, or just shut up and be a teacher, or just shut up and do whatever your occupation is. I just think that's unfair to all of us because we are so much more than what our occupation says or what our name tag says."

      James' All-Star Game teammate Kevin Durant -- who recently went eight days without a sitdown press conference -- also said he backs Kaepernick and wants all players to be able to voice their opinions without fear of media and fan backlash.

      "I think it's good for athletes to stand up for what they believe in," said Durant, the first player chosen by James in the captain's draft for Sunday's game. "A lot of people don't agree with what Kaep is doing, but I do, and I'm going to stand behind him."

      In 14 career ASG showings, James has let his play do the talking. His ASG averages of 24.5 points, 6.3 assists and 6.0 rebounds, including MVP honors last year, are his statement of what it means to be in the NBA's showcase event. He said he can't even dream up the words to tell fans how he feels about being back, and never will take it for granted.

      "For us to be here in Charlotte, I'm very appreciative of this moment. To be recognized as one of the best players in this league, voted me in as an All-Star starter, it means a lot," James said. "It's always an honor. I'm at a loss for words."

      --By Jeff Reynolds, Field Level Media

  • Irving, Davis to play for Team LeBron; then with Celtics?
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, February 16, 2019

    CHARLOTTE -- New Orleans Pelicans center Anthony Davis corrected questions presuming his absence from Sunday's All-Star Game.

    • Davis, who was sidelined by a shoulder contusion this week, said he might do a little bit of coaching but plans to be in uniform and play Sunday for Team LeBron.

      Davis isn't the only injured player declaring himself ready for the spotlight game at Spectrum Center.

      The sprained right knee that has sidelined Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving for the last week hasn't kept him from enjoying his time in Charlotte, N.C., for All-Star weekend.

      And it appears it won't keep him from playing in Sunday's main event.

      In announcing his intention to play in the game, Irving said he wouldn't if he had any doubts about his rehab.

      "There's not too many chances you get to be around Kawhi Leonard, being around KD (Kevin Durant) and have a starting lineup like we do. That was on my mind, but it didn't factor going in to taking care of my health and making sure I'm good to play," Irving said.

      Celtics general manager Danny Ainge said recently that Irving is close to returning for the Celtics and that if the star guard deems himself well enough to play on Sunday, then Ainge doesn't have a problem with it.

      "I totally trust Kyrie that he will not play if he's not healthy," Ainge told reporters. "I have all the trust in him in his decisions on that. Like, he would only do it if he's 100 percent healthy."

      There is a chance the Team LeBron pair could join up again in the future.

      Davis clarified Saturday that the Celtics are on his list of preferred destinations. Multiple reports indicated there was a short list of teams to which Davis would accept a trade. Davis said Saturday there are "29" teams on his list -- every team but the Pelicans.

      "I never said they weren't on my list," Davis said of accepting a trade to the Celtics. "I never said they weren't on my list."

      How much either will play Sunday is still being determined.

      Ainge also noted that the Celtics sent a physical therapist and trainer with Irving to Charlotte.

      "Honestly, I don't really have any preference at all for what he does," Ainge said. "I understand how he could actually benefit from having a really good workout."

      Irving was playing defense vs. the Los Angeles Clippers when the injury occurred with about five minutes remaining in the first half last Saturday. He left the game with 2:28 to play in the second quarter and Boston holding a comfortable 20-point lead. The Clippers rallied for a 123-112 victory, outscoring the Celtics 75-44 after Irving departed.

      The veteran guard had an MRI last Sunday and it was determined that the injury was not considered serious. The Celtics next take the court Thursday at Milwaukee.

      Irving, 26, is averaging 23.6 points, 6.9 assists and 4.9 rebounds in 47 games (all starts) this season. He was voted as an Eastern Conference starter for the All-Star game and selected by former teammate LeBron James during the draft process for the teams.

      --By Jeff Reynolds, Field Level Media

  • Pelicans' Davis says he is open to Celtics
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, February 16, 2019

    All-Star center Anthony Davis implied Saturday he'd be content if the New Orleans Pelicans traded him to Boston, despite the Celtics not being on a list of preferred teams reported earlier this month.

    • Davis, through his agent, has said he won't sign a supermax deal with the Pelicans when he hits free agency next summer. The list of teams he'd agree to a long-term deal with was believed to be the Milwaukee Bucks, New York Knicks and both Los Angeles teams.

      But Saturday, in his all-star media availability, Davis told reporters Boston could be a destination.

      "I never said Boston wasn't on my list," Davis said.

      Davis' agent, Rich Paul, announced last month Davis' wish to be traded. Paul is also the agent of Lakers star LeBron James and the belief was Davis was trying to force a trade to the Lakers. The two sides couldn't agree on a deal.

      Boston had to sit out the sweepstakes for Davis, however, because they could not trade for him before July 1 because of NBA contractual rules.

      Earlier this month, Anthony Davis Sr. said he didn't want his son to play for the Celtics because he perceived the franchise to be disloyal, citing their trade of point guard Isaiah Thomas as the reason.

      Davis is in his seventh NBA season, all with New Orleans, and turns 26 next month. In 45 games this season, Davis is averaging 28.1 points, 12.9 rebounds, 2.5 blocks and 4.2 assists. All are above his career averages.

      --Field Level Media

  • Nuggets extend Connelly, front office staff
    By Field Level Media / Friday, February 15, 2019

    The Denver Nuggets announced extensions on Friday for president of basketball operations Tim Connelly, general manager Arturas Karnisovas and the rest of the basketball operations staff.

    • According to ESPN, Connelly's contract could have expired after this season, but team president Josh Kroenke had worked in recent weeks to sign Connelly to a new deal.

      "It gives me immense pride to announce contract extensions for our entire front office, as our journey to this point has been one of hard work, patience and trust in one another," Kroenke said in a statement. "When Tim joined us in 2013, he understood the vision that we had for the future of the Nuggets, and through his dedication our program is incredibly well positioned to compete at the highest level for years to come."

      Connelly joined the Nuggets as general manager in June of 2013 after previous stints with the Washington Wizards and then-New Orleans Hornets, where he was assistant GM.

      Karnisovas arrived with Connelly as assistant general manager before being promoted to the lead job in June of 2017, as Connelly was promoted to his current position.

      The Nuggets (39-18) reached the All-Star break with the second-best record in the Western Conference. They are on pace for 56 wins, which would be one shy of the franchise's best mark (57 wins in 2012-13) since joining the NBA in 1976.

      Denver needs just seven wins to equal last season's total and is well on its way to its first postseason appearance since 2012-13.

      The front office has put together a deep and talented roster, with a young star in Nikola Jokic and blossoming young guards in Jamal Murray and Gary Harris, along with several unheralded players who have become key rotation pieces.

      --Field Level Media

  • Webber, Sikma, Moncrief among HOF finalists
    By Field Level Media / Friday, February 15, 2019

    CHARLOTTE - The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame kicked off All-Star Weekend Friday, naming 13 finalists for the Class of 2019 at Spectrum Center.

    • The nominees included Chris Webber, a five-time NBA All-Star and first-team All-American at Michigan; Jack Sikma, who played for the Seattle SuperSonics and Milwaukee Bucks; Bucks guard Sidney Moncrief; former Pistons and Bulls "eraser" Ben Wallace; women's coaches Leta Andrews and Barbara Stevens; women's basketball player Teresa Weatherspoon; referee Hugh Evans; former NBA coach Bill Fitch; former college coach Eddie Sutton; five-time NBA All-Star point forward Marques Johnson; former Celtics and Suns guard and head coach Paul Westphal; and former 76ers forward Bobby Jones.

      "It's the biggest honor in basketball just to be considered," Westphal said.

      Moncrief, who anchored his game in defense, said, "It's really nice attention is starting to get focused on players that defend."

      The Hall of Fame Class of 2019 will be announced live April 6 at the Final Four in Minneapolis.

      Moncrief was coached by Sutton in college and was teammates with Sikma and Johnson in Milwaukee.

      The Hall also honored lifetime achievement award winners and recognized Curt Gowdy Media Award winners at a press conference Friday evening.

      The 2019 John W. Bunn Lifetime Achievement Award recipients were Del Harris, an NBA coach for 35 years and 1995 NBA Coach of the Year, and Harry Glickman, one of the co-founders of the Portland Trail Blazers. Glickman pursued a pro basketball franchise for several years until the expansion franchise was awarded to Portland in 1970.

      Broadcaster Ralph Lawler, the voice of the Clippers for more than 40 years and 3,100 games, and sportswriter Marc Stein were honored with the Gowdy Award.

      Hall of Famer Jerry Colangelo announced the second phase of a refurbished Hall of Fame would be completed in 2020.

      --Field Level Media

  • Demps out as Pelicans' GM
    By Field Level Media / Friday, February 15, 2019

    The New Orleans Pelicans mutually parted ways with general manager Dell Demps, the team announced on Friday.

    • Demps had served in that role with the franchise since June 2010. The Pelicans selected Danny Ferry as interim general manager.

      "We will immediately begin the process of restructuring our basketball operations department," Pelicans owner Gayle Benson said in a statement. "This will include a comprehensive, but confidential, search aided by outside consultants to identify a new leader of our basketball operations, directly reporting to me."

      The Pelicans are 26-33 at the All-Star break after reaching the second round of the playoffs last season.

      Demps was unable to make a deal at the Feb. 7 trade deadline for disgruntled superstar Anthony Davis, who is under contract through the 2019-20 season, with a player option for 2020-21. Davis requested a trade in late January.

      Demps had discussions with the Los Angeles Lakers about a trade, but the sides did not appear to be close. Lakers president Magic Johnson, asked later if he thought New Orleans had negotiated in good faith, answered, "No."

      Benson thanked Demps for his efforts in the team's news release.

      "I would like to extend my appreciation to Dell for his tireless work and commitment to our team over the last eight-plus years," Benson said. "Dell, his wife Anita, and his family have been a credit to our city and I wish them nothing but the greatest success going forward.

      "As difficult as these decisions are, my responsibility is to provide the leadership and resources necessary to deliver a winning team to our fans and community. I take that responsibility seriously and would like to assure our fans that I am prepared to provide any, and all, resources required to compete for championships."

      Ferry has been a special adviser for New Orleans over the past three seasons.

      Ferry, 52, has twice previously served as a general manager -- with the Cleveland Cavaliers (2005-10) and Atlanta Hawks (2012-15).

      Ferry took a 10-month leave of absence from his duties with Atlanta after reading a scouting report out loud that contained "offensive and racist" comments about then-Miami Heat player Luol Deng. He reached a buyout with the Hawks in June 2015.

      He joined the New Orleans organization in June 2016.

      Regarding Demps, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski wrote on Twitter that "team ownership was livid with an injured Anthony Davis leaving arena during Thursday night's game, sources say. Gayle Benson is telling associates she wants an overhaul of Pelicans and a search for a GM to take command of Davis trade talks and the reshaping of team's future."

      Benson outlined her expectations in the news release.

      "My expectations, and the expectations of our fans, are that this team will compete at a high level for the remainder of the season," Benson said.

      "While we still have many more critical decisions to make when this season comes to an end, I am focused on making sure we are properly positioned to succeed and that we are headed in the right direction. Finally, I would like to recognize and thank our fans for their support through all of this. I am excited about our future and the opportunities ahead."

      New Orleans made the playoffs three times under Demps, in 2011, 2015 and 2018.

      In October, former NBA commissioner David Stern said Demps "is a lousy general manager" in an interview with Sports Illustrated.

      Stern recounted how, in 2011, with the NBA acting as the New Orleans team's interim owner, Demps came to him for approval of a three-team trade that would have sent Chris Paul, then in his sixth NBA season, all with New Orleans, to the Lakers.

      New Orleans would have received Lamar Odom from the Lakers and Kevin Martin, Luis Scola and Goran Dragic from the Rockets, plus a first-round draft pick that the Rockets had acquired in a previous deal with the New York Knicks.

      The Rockets would have received Pau Gasol from the Lakers.

      Acting as the Hornets' owner, Stern recalled, he said, "We can do better than that" return for Paul.

      About a week later, Stern approved trading Paul to the Los Angeles Clippers for Eric Gordon, Chris Kaman, Al-Farouq Aminu and an unprotected 2012 first-round draft pick.

      The Clippers also received two future second-round picks.

      Despite that haul, Stern said, "Dell Demps is a lousy general manager and none of those players are currently with the team anymore, and he may lose Anthony Davis."

      At that time, the Pelicans responded with a tweet saying they have "the utmost confidence in our general manager, Dell Demps" and that they are "excited about the direction of our team."

      --Field Level Media

  • Reports: Pelicans' Davis has bruised shoulder
    By Field Level Media / Friday, February 15, 2019

    Anthony Davis' shoulder injury apparently isn't serious, but the status of the New Orleans Pelicans forward for the All-Star Game on Sunday is uncertain.

    • After getting hurt at the end of the first half Thursday in the Pelicans' 131-122 win over the visiting Oklahoma City Thunder, Davis went for an MRI exam that revealed a muscle contusion, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune and ESPN.

      Per ESPN, Davis still will travel to Charlotte, N.C., site of the All-Star Game on Sunday. He is scheduled to be a part of Team LeBron in the midseason exhibition.

      The injury occurred on a collision with Thunder forward Nerlens Noel.

      Davis subsequently left the arena before the game ended, which upset Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry. The All-Star and the team already were on shaky terms after Davis requested a trade on Jan. 29, then didn't get dealt before the NBA's Feb. 7 trade deadline.

      Gentry, replying to a question about Davis' early departure, said he was "happy for the guys that played the game and we won. ...

      "I'm happy for all of them. Because to tell you the truth, this whole thing has been a dumpster fire. ... We want guys to be professional and we want them to do this, but it's hard for guys to go through what they've been through. And to be able to come out and beat a team of that quality, I'm happy for all the guys. I just thought they did a great job."

      Davis was sidelined due to a finger injury at the time his agent declared that the Kentucky product wanted to be traded. He wound up missing consecutive games, including some while healthy ahead of the trade deadline as the Pelicans waited to see if they would make a move.

      The 25-year-old returned to score 32 points against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Feb. 8, but he was held out of the fourth quarter of a close game. In four games since his return to action, he is averaging 15.8 points and 8.8 rebounds in 24.8 minutes per game, all well below his season averages of 28.1 points, 12.9 rebounds and 36 minutes.

      Davis had 14 points and four boards in 16 minutes before exiting Thursday.

      --Field Level Media

  • NBA roundup: Davis injured in Pelicans' win
    By Field Level Media / Friday, February 15, 2019

    Jrue Holiday and Julius Randle combined for 65 points to lead host New Orleans to a 131-122 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday, but the Pelicans lost All-Star forward Anthony Davis to a shoulder injury.

    • Davis missed the second half, finishing with 14 points and four rebounds in 15 minutes. It wasn't immediately known whether the injury would keep Davis out of the All-Star Game on Sunday in Charlotte, N.C.

      Randle had 33 points and 11 rebounds, and Holiday added 32 points. E'Twaun Moore scored 15 points and Jahlil Okafor had 12 as New Orleans bounced back from two straight losses.

      Russell Westbrook extended his NBA record by producing an 11th consecutive triple-double, finishing with 44 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists to lead the Thunder, who had won four straight and 11 of 12. Paul George added 28 points, and Nerlens Noel had 22.

      Knicks 106, Hawks 91

      Dennis Smith Jr. scored 19 points as New York put an emphatic end to its 18-game losing streak by winning at Atlanta.

      New York had not won since Jan. 4 against the Los Angeles Lakers. During the streak, the Knicks had dropped six games on the road and 12 at home. The 18-game skid was a franchise record for a single season.

      The Knicks also got 14 points from ex-Hawk John Jenkins, who was only playing his second game with the club, plus 14 points and nine rebounds from Kadeem Allen. Dewayne Dedmon led the Hawks with 21 points while Trae Young and Kent Bazemore each scored 16. Young added 11 assists.

      Magic 127, Hornets 89

      All-Star Nikola Vucevic compiled 17 points and 11 rebounds for his 41st double-double of the season as Orlando beat visiting Charlotte for its fifth consecutive victory.

      The Magic snapped a 13-game losing streak to the Hornets that dated to the 2015-16 season. They were in control throughout, racing to a 15-point lead after one quarter and leading by 35 at halftime. Their biggest lead in the second half was 40.

      Terrence Ross led the Magic with 21 points. Malik Monk was the top scorer for the Hornets with 15 points.

      --Field Level Media

  • NBA fines Kerr for confrontation with ref
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, February 14, 2019

    Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr was fined $25,000 on Thursday for "verbally abusing and confronting a game official," the NBA announced.

    • Kerr's actions came in the fourth quarter of Wednesday's 129-107 defeat to the Portland Trail Blazers. Upon hearing that Draymond Green's common foul was being upgraded to a flagrant foul 1, Kerr slammed the scorers' table to earn his first technical, then swung his right arm in the air while approaching official Ken Mauer on the court. He was tagged with a quick second technical and ejection.

      Kevin Durant held back an incensed Kerr after he was ejected.

      "I was just shocked that it was called a flagrant foul," Kerr said after the game. "That was head-scratching that could be called a flagrant foul. I mean, the guy's going to go up for a dunk, you got to make sure he doesn't dunk it. So I told Kenny I beg to differ."

      Green also was issued a technical foul during the incident.

      On the original call on the floor, Green fouled the Blazers' Zach Collins at the rim. As for the uproar afterward, Green said he appreciated his coach's support.

      "That was amazing; it's great," Green said. "He set the tone for us to close the game the way we did. It was good. I got a tech also for standing there. That probably should be a delay of game, not a tech. You can't give somebody a tech because they're standing there. That's a delay of game. But whatever."

      Kerr's punishment was announced by Kiki VanDeWeghe, the NBA's executive vice president, basketball operations.

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: F/C Morris reaches deal to join Thunder
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, February 14, 2019

    The courtship of NBA free agent Markieff Morris ended Thursday with the Oklahoma City Thunder reaching an agreement with the power forward, according to The Athletic.

    • Morris, who averaged 11.5 points and 5.1 rebounds per game for the Washington Wizards this season, was traded to the New Orleans Pelicans on Feb. 7, along with cash and a 2023 second-round draft pick for forward Wesley Johnson. The Pelicans then waived Morris.

      Morris, 29, played in just 34 games this season as he worked his way through a transient cervical neuropraxia injury, caused by spinal cord trauma. Morris was cleared to play this week after visiting a specialist.

      The 6-foot-10 product, in his eighth season out of Kansas, has also spent time at center this season and is expected to give the Thunder front-line support.

      The Los Angeles Lakers, Houston Rockets, Brooklyn Nets and Toronto Raptors also reportedly were interested in Morris.

      He has averaged 11.8 points per game with 5.6 rebounds over 555 career games (330 starts) for the Phoenix Suns and Wizards. He was the No. 13 overall draft pick by the Suns in 2011.

      --Field Level Media

  • NBA All-Star Weekend sets up as Curry's homecoming
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, February 14, 2019

    CHARLOTTE - Not every All-Star Weekend is created equally, at least not through the eyes of Steph Curry.

    • For Curry, the 2019 All-Star Game festivities are more of a homecoming weekend.

      He grew up in the Charlotte area while his dad, sweet-shooting Dell Curry, played for the Hornets and then Steph grew to national acclaim as the bucket-a-minute star for underdog Davidson College.

      "I'm going to do whatever I can to highlight, like showcase the city," Curry said. "And celebrate it for what it meant to me and my journey. Our family and my dad, in terms of where he is in all the record books of Charlotte -- Kemba Walker just passed him I think for all-time scoring -- but he has other records that talks about his longevity there. And if you say his name in the city they know who you're talking about, so just embrace the weekend, embrace the fun, and hopefully keep the ticket list low."

      Curry failed on the latter. He's approaching triple digits in ticket requests, filling section 121 with friends and family.

      He will play for Team Giannis on Sunday, but Saturday night could be his to take, too. Curry and brother Seth are participants in the 3-point shootout.

      "It's almost like the whole Curry family is hosting the All-Star Game," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said.

      LeBron James and Team LeBron hope to spoil the night for Curry and Company. James used his first pick on Curry's Golden State teammate, Kevin Durant, and also selected Celtics guard Kyrie Irving. Irving is dealing with a sprained knee and could miss the game.

      Kawhi Leonard (Raptors) and James Harden (Rockets) gives Team LeBron potential for an explosive starting five.

      "That's a great five," Irving said of the chance reunion with James, having played together with the Cleveland Cavaliers on their 2016 NBA title team. "I'm excited just to be an All-Star, getting picked by the fans, as well as the media. I'm truly grateful. It gives us another chance to go out there and play together."

      Curry picked Giannis Antetokounmpo with his first pick as a team captain opposite James last year. Antetokounmpo returned the favor and will be coached by his in-season coach, Mike Budenholzer of the Bucks.

      Team Giannis includes Walker in the starting lineup along with Curry, Joel Embiid (76ers) and Thunder forward Paul George.

      The Bucks' connection, including first-year coach Budenholzer, will be strong for Team Giannis. Antetokounmpo used the first pick among reserves to take teammate Khris Middleton, with Pelicans big man Anthony Davis, Thunder guard Russell Westbrook and Warriors guard Klay Thompson still on the board.

      Team LeBron also includes sentimental pick Dwyane Wade, with Dirk Nowitzki joining Team Giannis, in a maneuver triggered by the NBA to give the retiring players a grand sendoff.

      "Probably my worst All-Star Game by far playing with that guy," James said in a tongue-in-cheek reference to the retiring Wade. "I can't believe I'm sharing another All-Star Game with Dwyane Wade, my least favorite person in the world. Nah, it's going to be special, that's for sure, man. It's his last hoorah and to be part of All-Star Weekend is going to be a treat."

      Including Friday night's festivities, when the Rising Stars game features 20 rookie and second-year talents, 18 international players from 14 countries will participate in NBA All-Star Weekend. It's the second season for rostering players via draft for the All-Star Game, and the 2018 contest was a track meet that came down to the final possession.

      James was named MVP for Team LeBron in a 148-145 win over Team Stephen at Staples Center.

      In 2017, the teams combined to put up 374 points -- 192-182 -- with the West topping the East.

      --By Jeff Reynolds, Field Level Media

  • NBA roundup: Russell lifts Nets over Cavs in 3 OTs
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, February 14, 2019

    D'Angelo Russell took over in the third overtime, scoring 14 of his 36 points, and the short-handed Brooklyn Nets outlasted the host Cleveland Cavaliers for a wild 148-139 victory on Wednesday.

    • Russell began the game by missing 10 of his first 11 shots, but he was 6 of 6 in the third overtime and finished 13 of 30 from the floor.

      After the Nets forced a third overtime on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by DeMarre Carroll, Russell made a handful of plays to help the Nets snap a four-game road losing streak in their last game before the All-Star break.

      Cleveland's Jordan Clarkson scored a game-high 42 points, hitting 7 of 17 3-point attempts.

      Bucks 106, Pacers 97

      Giannis Antetokounmpo produced 33 points, 19 rebounds and 11 assists for his fifth triple-double of the season as Milwaukee rallied for a victory over Indiana in Indianapolis.

      Malcolm Brogdon scored 17 points and Khris Middleton added 15 as Milwaukee won for the 14th time in its past 16 games. The Bucks (43-14) own the best record in the NBA heading into the All-Star break.

      Bojan Bogdanovic scored 20 points for the Pacers, who had a six-game winning streak halted. Domantas Sabonis recorded 14 points and nine rebounds.

      Nuggets 120, Kings 118

      Nikola Jokic had 20 points, 18 rebounds and 11 assists, and he tipped in his own miss with 0.3 seconds left to give host Denver a win over Sacramento.

      Paul Millsap finished with 25 points and 13 rebounds, and Isaiah Thomas scored eight points in 13 minutes during his Denver debut. The Nuggets won despite coach Michael Malone and guard Malik Beasley being ejected. Beasley finished with 21 points before getting tossed.

      Buddy Hield had 25 points and Harrison Barnes finished with 19 points and 11 rebounds for the Kings.

      Trail Blazers 129, Warriors 107

      Damian Lillard scored 29 points and Portland used a late 16-0 run to blow away visiting Golden State.

      Jake Layman added 17 points off the bench as eight players scored in double figures for the Trail Blazers, who snapped Golden State's five-game win streak.

      Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry each scored 32 points for the Warriors, who had won 16 of their previous 17 contests. Golden State played without center DeMarcus Cousins and key reserves Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston to give them some rest.

      Celtics 118, Pistons 110

      Jayson Tatum led six Boston players in double figures with 19 points as the home team ended Detroit's four-game winning streak.

      Gordon Hayward contributed 18 points and eight assists, while Al Horford supplied 17 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists. Jaylen Brown had 17 points and seven rebounds, Marcus Smart added 16 points and five assists, and Marcus Morris chipped in 11 points.

      Blake Griffin led Detroit with 32 points, eight rebounds and five assists. Andre Drummond had 21 points, 17 rebounds and four steals for the Pistons.

      Timberwolves 121, Rockets 111

      Jeff Teague produced a double-double while Karl-Anthony Towns led a dominant performance in the paint by Minnesota, which used a balanced scoring attack to thwart James Harden and Houston in Minneapolis.

      Rookie Josh Okogie provided a spark by scoring 16 points and playing energetic defense on Harden, who still extended his streak of 30-point games to 31 with 42 points, matching Wilt Chamberlain for the second-longest streak in NBA history. Harden has recorded 22 40-point games this season.

      Teague paced seven Timberwolves in double figures with 27 points and added a game-high 12 assists. Towns paired 25 points with a team-best nine rebounds. Chris Paul added 16 points and eight assists for Houston while Kenneth Faried chipped in 12 points and 11 rebounds.

      Heat 112, Mavericks 101

      Dwyane Wade played his final game at longtime nemesis Dallas and made it a memorable one with a game-high 22 points, and Miami rode a dominant third quarter to a victory.

      Wade, 37, led the Heat past the Mavs in the 2006 NBA Finals. Five years later, Dallas and Dirk Nowitzki repaid Wade by winning the Finals in six games on Miami's home floor.

      After Wednesday's game, Nowitzki, who is also nearing the end of his career, exchanged jerseys with Wade. Nowitzki, 40, who has yet to officially announce that this, his 21st season, will be his last, finished with 12 points in 17 minutes, but he was nowhere near his efficiency level of seasons past, shooting 5 of 14 from the floor and just 2 of 10 from beyond the 3-point arc.

      76ers 126, Knicks 111

      New York erased much of a 26-point, third-quarter deficit but could not complete the comeback against visiting Philadelphia, which extended the Knicks' franchise-record, single-season losing streak.

      The Knicks have dropped 18 straight, two shy of the franchise's all-time record, a 20-game streak that spanned the 1984-85 and 1985-86 seasons. The skid is the longest in the NBA since the Memphis Grizzlies dropped 19 straight last season.

      Joel Embiid led Philadelphia with 26 points and 14 rebounds. Tobias Harris scored 25 points, his top total in four games since being acquired by the 76ers on Feb. 6. Allonzo Trier scored 19 points to lead an impressive performance by Knicks reserves, who accounted for 74 points.

      Raptors 129, Wizards 120

      Pascal Siakam scored 19 of his career-best 44 points in the third quarter and grabbed 10 rebounds as Toronto defeated visiting Washington and entered the All-Star break with a six-game winning streak.

      The Raptors trailed by as many as 12 points in the third quarter but scored 44 points in the period to take a 10-point lead entering the fourth. OG Anunoby had 10 points in the third quarter and finished with a career-best 22 points for Toronto, which was without Kawhi Leonard because of a sore left knee.

      Bradley Beal led Washington with 28 points and 11 assists, Jeff Green added 23 points, and Jabari Parker had 22 points and nine rebounds.

      Bulls 122, Grizzlies 110

      Otto Porter Jr. scored a career-high 37 points on 16-for-20 shooting, and Chicago pulled away for a win over visiting Memphis.

      Robin Lopez contributed a season-high 25 points on 10-for-15 shooting for the Bulls, who won for only the fourth time in their past 22 games. Lauri Markkanen finished with 21 points and 10 rebounds for his eighth double-double in the past nine games.

      Memphis lost for the second consecutive game after falling short by one point to the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday night. Avery Bradley led the Grizzlies in scoring for a second consecutive contest as he finished with 15 points on 7-for-12 shooting.

      Clippers 134, Suns 107

      Lou Williams scored 17 of his game-high 30 points in the first half as Los Angeles built a big lead on visiting Phoenix and coasted to a victory.

      The win was the Clippers' 12th straight over the Suns dating to April 2016. Phoenix, led by Kelly Oubre Jr. with a season-high 28 points, lost its 15th in a row and has dropped 11 straight on the road.

      Los Angeles scored its second-most points of the season, with Danilo Gallinari contributing 20 and Montrezl Harrell adding 19.

      --Field Level Media

  • NBA notebook: Lakers' Walton reportedly will finish season
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, February 13, 2019

    Los Angeles Lakers head coach Luke Walton "will definitely finish the season," a source close to the situation told the Los Angeles Times. Walton's status has been a topic of discussion among fans and the media as the Lakers have slid to 28-29 in an injury-plagued season.

    • But the Times on Wednesday cited sources saying Lakers owner Jeanie Buss, president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka agree that Walton should coach the rest of the season.

      Walton is in his third season with the Lakers, finishing 26-56 in 2016-17 and 35-47 in 2017-18 with young rosters. The addition of superstar LeBron James in the offseason raised expectations, but injuries to James, as well as point guards Rajon Rondo and Lonzo Ball, among others, have helped put Los Angeles on the outside of the playoff picture with 25 games to go.

      ESPN reported in late January that James' camp would prefer a coaching change. Recent results -- such as a 136-94 loss at Indiana on Feb. 5, a 23-point loss at Philadelphia on Sunday and Tuesday's setback at Atlanta -- have increased speculation about Walton's leadership.

      --Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid has been fined $25,000 for his criticism of the officiating in the team's latest loss to the Boston Celtics, the NBA announced.

      "The referees f---ing suck," the All-Star center said during his postgame press conference on Tuesday. Embiid tallied 23 points and 14 rebounds, but he was whistled for five personal fouls as Philadelphia fell to 0-3 this season against Boston.

      Embiid's frustration was fueled by a sequence in the closing seconds of Tuesday's 112-109 loss. He missed a potential game-tying jumper after Boston center Al Horford appeared to hit his arm. There was no call from the officials.

      --Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet had surgery to repair a partial ligament injury to his left thumb, the team announced. He will need to wear a splint for about three weeks, and the Raptors will update his condition after that.

      Also, as expected, the Raptors signed veteran guard Jeremy Lin for depth at the position.

      In 51 games this season (22 starts), VanVleet is averaging 10.5 points, 4.6 assists and 2.7 rebounds in 26.8 minutes per game. He has scored in double figures 30 times this season, including a career-high 30 points in a 119-101 road win over Atlanta on Feb. 7.

      -- Enes Kanter joined the Portland Trail Blazers following a split with the New York Knicks last week. The deal was reported by ESPN and NBA TV and confirmed by Kanter's agent.

      The Lakers were among other suitors for the center.

      The 26-year-old Kanter averaged 14 points and 10.5 rebounds in 44 games with the Knicks, who released him only minutes after the NBA's trade deadline. He was in the final year of a four-year, $70 million deal that paid him $18.6 million for the 2018-19 season.

      -- One day after Memphis forward Bruno Caboclo's second 10-day contract expired, the Grizzlies signed the former first-round pick to a multi-year deal.

      Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Grizzlies.com reported it would cover the rest of this season and the 2019-20 season.

      Caboclo has averaged 6.1 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in 21.1 minutes in 10 games (one start) with Memphis. The 23-year-old Brazilian was the 20th overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft by the Toronto Raptors. He struggled to earn playing time with the Raptors and was traded to the Sacramento Kings on Feb. 8, 2018.

      --Field Level Media

  • Raptors' VanVleet has thumb surgery; Lin joins team
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, February 13, 2019

    Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet had surgery to repair a partial ligament injury to his left thumb, the team announced Wednesday.

    • He will need to wear a splint for about three weeks, and the Raptors will update his condition after that. Dr. Michelle Carlson performed the procedure in New York.

      Also Wednesday, the Raptors, as expected, signed veteran guard Jeremy Lin for depth at the position. They also announced that forward Kawhi Leonard would not play Wednesday night against the visiting Washington Wizards due to a sore left knee.

      VanVleet sustained ligament damage in his left thumb on Saturday in a game at the New York Knicks.

      In 51 games this season (22 starts), VanVleet is averaging 10.5 points, 4.6 assists and 2.7 rebounds in 26.8 minutes per game. He has scored in double figures 30 times this season, including a career-high 30 points in a 119-101 road win over Atlanta on Feb. 7.

      Undrafted after a standout career at Wichita State, VanVleet signed with the Raptors in July 2016.

      Lin, 30, became a household name in 2012, when a short but prolific run with the New York Knicks sparked what became known as "Linsanity." But since then, he played for Houston, the Los Angeles Lakers, Charlotte and Brooklyn before arriving in Atlanta in the offseason. He and the Hawks agreed to a contract buyout earlier this week.

      Lin, who began his career with the Golden State Warriors in 2010-11, was set to make his Toronto debut Wednesday night.

      With the Hawks, Lin averaged 10.7 points, 3.5 assists and 2.3 rebounds in 19.7 minutes per game.

      --Field Level Media

  • Blazers add free agent F Kanter
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, February 13, 2019

    Enes Kanter joined the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday following a split with the New York Knicks last week.

    • Kanter tweeted Wednesday that the deal was done. Per multiple media reports, Portland edged the Los Angeles Lakers and other suitors to land the big man.

      "I look forward to helping the Blazers achieve the ultimate goal of competing for a championship," he wrote on Twitter. "Excited to meet my new teammates, coaches, staff and most importantly the fans. It is a blessing to continue to compete at the highest level. Let's go Rip City"

      Kanter averaged 14 points and 10.5 rebounds in 44 games with the Knicks, who released him only minutes after the NBA's trade deadline last week.

      The 26-year-old was in the final year of a four-year, $70 million deal that paid him $18.6 million for the 2018-19 season. The $70 million value originated with the Blazers, who signed Kanter to an offer sheet as a restricted free agent, but the Oklahoma City Thunder matched it to keep him.

      Kanter broke into the NBA in 2011-12 with the Utah Jazz and also spent 2 1/2 seasons with the Thunder before the Knicks acquired him in the September 2017 trade that sent Carmelo Anthony to Oklahoma City.

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: Lakers won't fire Walton during season
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, February 13, 2019

    Los Angeles Lakers head coach Luke Walton "will definitely finish the season," a source close to the situation told the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday.

    • Walton's status has been a topic of discussion among fans and media as the Lakers have slid to 28-29 in an injury-plagued season.

      But the Times cited sources saying Lakers owner Jeanie Buss, president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka agree that Walton should coach the rest of the season. The newspaper said those sources have knowledge of the situation but are not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.

      "Nothing is going to happen with Luke," one source told the Times.

      "There hasn't even been any talk about it and there won't be any talks about it. Luke will definitely finish the season and he has the full support. So any talk in the media or on social media can be put to bed about Luke. He's not going anywhere. There has been no conversation about it."

      Walton is in his third season with the Lakers, finishing 26-56 in 2016-17 and 35-47 in 2017-18 with young rosters. The addition of superstar LeBron James in the offseason raised expectations, but injuries to James, point guard Rajon Rondo and point guard Lonzo Ball, among others, have helped put Los Angeles on the outside of the playoff picture with 25 games to go.

      ESPN reported in late January that James' camp would prefer a coaching change. Recent results -- such as a 136-94 loss at Indiana on Feb. 5, a 23-point loss at Philadelphia on Sunday and Tuesday's setback at Atlanta -- have increased speculation about Walton's leadership.

      One source told the Times that James didn't look "totally engaged" against Atlanta despite posting a triple-double of 28 points, 16 assists and 11 rebounds. Another source claimed the Lakers had "bad body language" against the Hawks.

      Walton has a five-year contract with a base salary of $5 million per year, with four of the years guaranteed.

      "Everyone believes in Luke," one person told the Times. "Now it's about him getting the best out of the team."

      --Field Level Media

  • Nuggets G Thomas set for season debut
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, February 13, 2019

    Denver Nuggets guard Isaiah Thomas is set to make his season debut Wednesday night after recovering from hip surgery nearly 11 months ago, ESPN reported Wednesday.

    • Denver plays host to the Sacramento Kings.

      Thomas, 30, has not played in a game since March 22, 2018 while a member of the Los Angeles Lakers. He signed a one-year, $2 million contract as a free agent with the Nuggets last summer, with Denver being his third team in less than a year and sixth of his career.

      Thomas has averaged 18.9 points and 5.1 assists per game during his oft-injured career that began in the 2011-12 season after he was selected with the last pick in the draft by Sacramento. His finest success came with the Boston Celtics, as he averaged 24.7 points per game in two-plus seasons -- including a career-best 28.9 points in 2016-17.

      But he has been plagued by hip problems since late in the 2016-17 season, with the injury forcing him out after Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals against Cleveland, which won in five games.

      He was traded to the Cavaliers after that season in a swap involving All-Star guard Kyrie Irving. Injuries that limited him to 15 appearances and an apparent lack of on-court chemistry with then-Cavs star LeBron James led to a trade to the Lakers, where he played just 17 games last season before surgery in late March.

      --Field Level Media

  • Grizzlies sign F Caboclo to multi-year contract
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, February 13, 2019

    One day after Memphis forward Bruno Caboclo's second 10-day contract expired, the Grizzlies signed the former first-round pick to a multi-year deal on Wednesday.

    • Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Grizzlies.com reported it would cover the rest of this season and the 2019-20 season.

      Caboclo has averaged 6.1 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in 21.1 minutes in 10 games (one start) with Memphis.

      The 23-year-old Brazilian was the 20th overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft by the Toronto Raptors. He struggled to earn playing time with the Raptors and was traded to the Sacramento Kings on Feb. 8, 2018.

      Before signing with Memphis on Jan. 24, Caboclo played in 28 games (23 starts) with the G League's Rio Grande Valley Vipers and averaged 16.4 points, 7.1 rebounds and 3.0 blocks.

      --Field Level Media

  • Sixers C Embiid fined $25K after ripping refs
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, February 13, 2019

    Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid has been fined $25,000 for his criticism of the officiating in the team's latest loss to the Boston Celtics, the NBA announced Wednesday afternoon.

    • "The referees f---ing suck," the All-Star center said during his postgame press conference on Tuesday.

      Embiid tallied 23 points and 14 rebounds, but he was whistled for five personal fouls as Philadelphia fell to 0-3 this season against Boston.

      The Celtics are 10-2 against the Sixers since the start of last season, including a 4-1 series victory in the 2018 Eastern Conference semifinals.

      Embiid's frustration was fueled by a sequence in the closing seconds of Tuesday's 112-109 loss. He missed a potential game-tying jumper after Boston center Al Horford appeared to hit his arm. There was no call from the officials.

      Celtics forward Gordon Hayward praised Horford's defense against Embiid.

      "Al's a smart defender, so I think he's able to use spacing and angles and really kind of knows when to gap and when to get up to him," Hayward said. "He's also just a tough defender, like taking bumps, not getting backed all the way down and then still being long enough to contest his jump shots."

      Before expressing his colorful thoughts on the referees, Embiid said Horford's defense was nothing special.

      "He's not doing anything," Embiid said. "I was sleep-walking for three quarters, and that's on me. Like I said, that's on me. It had nothing to do with anybody."

      The Sixers and Celtics began Wednesday tied for fourth place in the Eastern Conference. They meet for the final time in the regular season on March 20 in Philadelphia.

      --Field Level Media

  • NBA roundup: Celts edge Sixers in thriller
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, February 13, 2019

    Gordon Hayward scored 26 points off the bench to lead the visiting Boston Celtics past the Philadelphia 76ers 112-109 on Tuesday in a game full of playoff atmosphere.

    • Al Horford scored 23 points while Jayson Tatum added 20 points and 10 rebounds as the Celtics snapped a two-game losing streak. All-Star guard Kyrie Irving sat out with an injured knee.

      Joel Embiid had 23 points and 14 rebounds for his league-leading 47th double-double, and Jimmy Butler added 22 points and nine rebounds. Ben Simmons and JJ Redick scored 16 points each.

      Marcus Smart threw down a vicious dunk with 23.9 seconds left for a 108-104 Boston advantage, attacking Embiid -- who had five fouls at the time. With the 76ers trailing by three with 1.8 seconds left, Butler was unable to release a potential 3-pointer in time. Embiid cursed the referees before ending his postgame press conference with reporters.

      Warriors 115, Jazz 108

      Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry bombed in a pair of 3-pointers apiece in a late flurry that allowed Golden State to overtake Utah at Oakland, Calif.

      The win was the Warriors' 16th in their past 17 games and gave them a 2-1 edge over the Jazz in a season series that saw the teams split games in Salt Lake City. Utah lost for just the fourth time in its past 16 games.

      Kevin Durant (28 points), Curry (24) and Thompson (22) paced the Warriors. Donovan Mitchell had 25 points for the Jazz.

      Spurs 108, Grizzlies 107

      LaMarcus Aldridge had 22 points and 11 rebounds, and Patty Mills scored a season-best 22 points as San Antonio halted a season-worst, four-game losing streak with a win at Memphis.

      Davis Bertans added 17 points and Rudy Gay recorded 15 points, 12 rebounds and a season-high eight assists as the Spurs improved to 1-4 on their eight-game Rodeo Road Trip. DeMar DeRozan scored 12 points, and Marco Belinelli added 11.

      Avery Bradley scored a season-best 33 points for Memphis in his second game since being acquired from the Los Angeles Clippers. Jonas Valanciunas added 23 points on 9-for-11 shooting and collected 10 rebounds in his Grizzlies debut.

      Magic 118, Pelicans 88

      Nikola Vucevic had 25 points and 17 rebounds as Orlando continued to roll in a rout at New Orleans.

      Vucevic led four Magic players with at least 20 points as Orlando won its fourth straight game and sixth in its past seven. Evan Fournier scored 22, and Jonathan Isaac and Aaron Gordon scored 20 each.

      New Orleans' Anthony Davis, playing his third game since the trade deadline passed and he returned from a finger injury, scored three points on 1-for-9 shooting and grabbed six rebounds in 24 minutes.

      Hawks 117, Lakers 113

      John Collins and Trae Young each scored 22 points and helped Atlanta end its three-game losing streak with a victory over visiting Los Angeles.

      The Hawks won despite a triple-double from Lakers forward LeBron James, who had 28 points, 11 rebounds and 16 assists. It was his fifth triple-double of the season.

      Atlanta ended a five-game losing streak to the Lakers and defeated Los Angeles for the first time since March 4, 2016. The victory also ended the Hawks' five-game home losing streak.

      --Field Level Media