Category: NBA

November 22 Injury Update: Suns vs. Warriors Basketball Match Report

November 22 Injury Update: Suns vs. Warriors Basketball Match Report

Catch the Wednesday NBA showdown on November 22 at 10:00 PM ET.

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The Suns, fueled by Kevin Durant’s stellar performance (31 points, four rebounds, nine assists), clinched a 120-107 victory over the Trail Blazers on Tuesday.

Fresh from a 121-116 triumph against the Rockets on Monday, the Warriors, led by Stephen Curry’s 32 points, five rebounds, and one assist, gear up for the upcoming challenge.

Phoenix Suns Injury Update:

NamePositionStatusInjuryPPGRPGAPG
Damion LeeSGOutKnee
Bradley BealSGOutBack
Yuta WatanabeSFOutQuadricep6.03.00.0

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Golden State Warriors Injury Update:

NamePositionStatusInjuryPPGRPGAPG
Gary Payton IIPGQuestionableFoot7.72.01.3

Game Details: Suns vs. Warriors

  • Date: Wednesday, November 22, 2023
  • Time: 10:00 PM ET
  • Location: Footprint Center, Phoenix, Arizona
  • TV Broadcast: ESPN, AZFamily,
  • NBCS-BA Live Stream: Tune in to Fubo for the live game coverage.

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Reference:

https://www.nbc15.com/sports/betting/2023/11/22/suns-vs-warriors-nba-injury-report/

https://www.essentiallysports.com/nba-active-basketball-news-warriors-availability-report-will-draymond-green-play-immediately-after-suspension-steve-kerrs-latest-update-on-troublesome-star/

https://www.nba.com/warriors/news/gameday-preview-20231122

Cade Cunningham candidly addresses challenges facing the Detroit Pistons.

Cade Cunningham candidly addresses challenges facing the Detroit Pistons.

Following two wins in the initial three games, the Pistons suffered an 11-game losing streak. The latest defeat, a 29-point margin in Toronto, highlighted defensive struggles, conceding a season-high 142 points. Despite Coach Monty Williams’ optimistic stance on the team’s progress, point guard Cade Cunningham voiced dissatisfaction, urging a realistic assessment of the Pistons’ situation.

Expressing a candid assessment, Cunningham emphasized the Pistons’ need for improvement. Coach Williams acknowledged the team’s potential beyond their standings, citing a more favorable net rating despite key injuries. However, Sunday’s substantial loss affected that rating, prompting Cunningham to label the team’s competitiveness in Toronto as “unacceptable.”

Cunningham emphasized the importance of inherent commitment from the league’s youngest team, urging a self-driven approach to competitiveness. He highlighted the necessity for every player to bring their best without being prompted, aiming to foster a culture of continuous effort. As reported by Edwards, Cunningham’s leadership, alongside Isaiah Stewart, has played a crucial role in maintaining cohesion within the locker room.

While Cunningham’s forthright comments may serve as a positive catalyst for the team, breaking the losing streak won’t be easy. Facing the defending-champion Nuggets on the second night of a back-to-back presents a formidable challenge for the struggling Pistons.

Reference:

https://www.yardbarker.com/nba/articles/cade_cunningham_gets_brutally_honest_about_pistons_struggles/s1_14822_39560586

https://www.nbcsports.com/nba/news/cade-cunningham-after-pistons-11th-straight-loss-were-bad-we-have-to-address-that

https://abcnews.go.com/Sports/cade-cunningham-candid-place-pistons-bad/story?id=105033515

Clippers Limit Wembanyama to 9, Secure Second Victory with Harden

Clippers Limit Wembanyama to 9, Secure Second Victory with Harden


In Monday night’s game, Paul George notched 28 points, complemented by Kawhi Leonard’s 21, leading the LA Clippers to a decisive 124-99 victory over San Antonio. The win extended the Spurs’ losing streak to nine games.

Contributing to the Clippers’ dominance, James Harden delivered a solid performance with 13 points and 10 assists. This marked Los Angeles’ sixth consecutive triumph against San Antonio.

Securing their second consecutive victory with Harden, the Clippers bounced back from a challenging stretch of five consecutive losses following his acquisition from Philadelphia.

Despite being the top pick in the draft, Wembanyama struggled, managing only nine points and three rebounds. Keldon Johnson stepped up for San Antonio with an impressive performance, contributing 22 points and 10 rebounds, while Cedi Osman added 17 points.

San Antonio’s losing streak now equals the fifth-longest in franchise history, posing a significant challenge for the team.

The Clippers dealt the Spurs a significant blow, reminiscent of their earlier 123-83 victory on Oct. 29. Leonard’s dunk and a Harden-assisted layup pushed the Clippers’ lead to 86-66 in the third quarter, hinting at a repeat performance.

San Antonio, accustomed to trailing by 15 points or more in eight games this season and by 20 in six contests, faced an uphill battle. Their comeback efforts have yielded success only once.

George endured an early setback, exiting after a poke in the eye from Wembanyama in the Clippers’ first possession. He returned in the first half, displaying an impressive 11-for-16 field goal performance, including 4-for-8 on 3-pointers.

The absence of Spurs starting guard Devin Vassell, sidelined with a strained groin, added to their challenges.

Looking ahead, the teams conclude their two-game series in San Antonio on Wednesday.

Reference:

https://www.foxsports.com/stories/nba/clippers-hold-victor-wembanyama-to-9-points-win-second-game-with-james-harden

www.ocregister.com

https://www.latimes.com/sports/clippers/story/2023-11-20/los-angeles-clippers-report-november-20

LeBron James Achieves Career-High Shooting Performance in November: Impressive Stats Propel Lakers' Star Player.

LeBron James Achieves Career-High Shooting Performance in November: Impressive Stats Propel Lakers’ Star Player.

Injuries and altered schedules aside, LeBron James is enjoying a historic shooting month in November 2023. Despite standard statistics, including 28.3 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 6.4 assists per game, this stands out for his remarkable efficiency. In his 21st NBA season, James boasts a career-best 61% field goal rate, a feat only matched in three other months. Additionally, his 44% 3-point shooting is matched by just four other months in his career. Notably, he’s attempting more 3-pointers per game than ever before.

These shooting performances have elevated his advanced percentages, with a true shooting percentage of 70.3% and an effective field goal percentage of 68.2%. These figures surpass the benchmarks set by other players, making this month extraordinary. While James has individually achieved some of these milestones in different months, achieving all simultaneously occurred only once in February 2017, albeit with lower free throw percentage and less consistency.

James’ success is attributed not only to his exceptional accuracy but also to improved shot selection. Prioritizing high-efficiency shots, over 74% of his attempts are either in the restricted area or from beyond the arc. The Lakers’ adjustments, providing James with more space, have contributed to his success. The team’s improved 3-point shooting creates a more balanced offensive threat.

While it remains uncertain if James can sustain this level of performance throughout the month, November 2023 stands out as one of the most impressive shooting months in his illustrious career, considering his longevity and the rarity of reaching month No. 88 in the NBA.

Reference:

https://www.cbssports.com/nba/news/is-lebron-james-having-best-shooting-month-of-his-career-behind-impressive-numbers-for-lakers-stars-november/

https://www.sportingnews.com/in/nba/news/lebron-james-improved-shooting-health-lakers/3a8a13ff83933c80858f11e2

hoopshype.com

Paul George Unveils Clippers' Resilience Amidst Recent Challenges and Enjoyment

Paul George Unveils Clippers’ Resilience Amidst Recent Challenges and Enjoyment


In their last 11 games, the Los Angeles Clippers faced a challenging stretch, securing only four victories and enduring a six-game losing streak. This unfavorable run coincided with the acquisition of James Harden from the Philadelphia 76ers, concluding with a win against the Houston Rockets.

Despite the team’s struggles, Paul George expressed a positive perspective on the situation during a recent episode of “Podcast P.” According to George, the Clippers’ roster is finding enjoyment in the process of overcoming obstacles.

George remarked, “The beauty in this team is we are enjoying this process. The reason we are not boiling over and not shaking the locker room up (is because) we honestly enjoy trying to figure this out … Obviously (we’re) frustrated, losing six games with the talent and the guys we have in the locker room. As much as we’re positive and optimistic and truly believe that it will work, no one likes going out there competing and coming up with a loss.”

Russell Westbrook’s decision to embrace a role off the bench marks a significant stride in fostering a more balanced rotation for the Clippers. This adjustment has noticeably enhanced team cohesion, portraying a more unified unit.

The shift to Westbrook as the sixth man allows both him and Harden to assume the role of primary ball-handler, leveraging their individual strengths more effectively.

While this strategic move demonstrates progress, the Clippers must address certain areas to contend for the championship this season. Improving consistency on offense and defense is imperative, and integrating role players into offensive strategies is crucial. Avoiding predictability in their gameplay is essential to prevent opponents from easily shutting them down on a possession-to-possession basis.

Despite the ongoing work ahead, it’s increasingly apparent that the Clippers’ star players find satisfaction in sharing the court. A key factor for success lies in putting aside personal egos and collectively striving for the team’s benefit. With this collaborative effort, a positive turnaround in the team’s fortunes appears within reach.

Reference:

https://www.yardbarker.com/nba/articles/paul_george_reveals_clippers_enjoyment_despite_recent_struggles/s1_13132_39563212

https://clutchpoints.com/clippers-news-paul-george-reveals-unique-stance-los-angeles-early-season-struggles

https://bleacherreport.com/articles/10098123-clippers-paul-george-the-energy-has-changed-after-harden-helped-end-losing-streak

NBA In-Season Tournament: Lakers Aim for 4-0, Pacers Eye East Group A Clinch in Standings.

NBA In-Season Tournament: Lakers Aim for 4-0, Pacers Eye East Group A Clinch in Standings.

The NBA’s inaugural In-Season Tournament is well underway, with the group stage reaching its midway point. The Los Angeles Lakers have an opportunity to secure a 4-0 record in West A as they face the Utah Jazz, aiming for an automatic spot in the knockout stage.

Tuesday’s matchups extend beyond the Lakers-Jazz clash. The Indiana Pacers, having already defeated group heavyweights Philadelphia and Cleveland, can clinch Group A by beating the Atlanta Hawks. Simultaneously, the Cleveland-Philadelphia game is crucial for determining second place and a potential wild card slot in the knockout stage.

In the East, the Milwaukee Bucks lead Group B with a 2-0 record and a significant point differential advantage over the Miami Heat. The Boston Celtics, also at 2-0, are poised to win Group C. The Miami Heat currently hold the wild card spot by a single-point point differential tiebreaker over the Philadelphia 76ers.

In the West, Friday’s games could decide group winners. A Pelicans’ victory over the Clippers, coupled with a Rockets’ loss to the Nuggets, would secure the Group B berth for New Orleans. The Kings-Timberwolves contest could determine the winner in Group C, with Minnesota holding a 2-0 record.

Eliminated from the competition are the Pistons, Wizards, Grizzlies, and Spurs, although they will continue to play, as In-Season Tournament games count toward regular season standings.

For those unfamiliar with the tournament format, each conference is divided into three five-team groups, playing group stage games on Tuesdays and Fridays in November. The top eight teams from each group advance to the knockout stage in early December, including six group winners and one wild-card team from each conference.

The schedule, scores, and standings for the 2023 In-Season Tournament are provided below, with all games on ESPN and NBA TV available for streaming on fubo (try for free).

2023 In-Season Tournament Schedule:

Tuesday, Nov. 21:

  • Raptors at Magic, 7 p.m.
  • Pacers at Hawks, 7:30 p.m.
  • Cavaliers at 76ers, 7:30 p.m.
  • Trail Blazers at Suns, 9 p.m.
  • Jazz at Lakers, 10 p.m.

Friday, Nov. 24:

  • Celtics at Magic, 2:30 p.m.
  • Suns at Grizzlies, 5 p.m.
  • Heat at Knicks, 7:30 p.m.
  • Bulls at Raptors, 7:30 p.m.
  • Pistons at Pacers, 8 p.m.
  • Nuggets at Rockets, 8 p.m.
  • Wizards at Bucks, 8 p.m.
  • Kings at Timberwolves, 8 p.m.
  • Spurs at Warriors, 10 p.m.
  • Pelicans at Clippers, 10:30 p.m.

Tuesday, Nov. 28:

  • Bulls at Celtics, 7:30 p.m.
  • Raptors at Nets, 7:30 p.m.
  • Hawks at Cavaliers, 7:30 p.m.
  • Bucks at Heat, 7:30 p.m.
  • Hornets at Knicks, 7:30 p.m.
  • Thunder at Timberwolves, 8 p.m.
  • Rockets at Mavericks, 8:30 p.m.
  • Warriors at Kings, 10 p.m.

Monday, Dec. 4:

  • Quarterfinal: TBD at TBD
  • Quarterfinal: TBD at TBD

Tuesday, Dec. 5:

  • Quarterfinal: TBD at TBD
  • Quarterfinal: TBD at TBD

Thursday, Dec. 7:

  • Semifinal: TBD vs. TBD at Las Vegas
  • Semifinal: TBD vs. TBD at Las Vegas

Saturday, Dec. 9:

  • Final: TBD vs. TBD at Las Vegas

In-Season Tournament Scores (as of Nov. 17):

  • Bucks 130, Hornets 99
  • Knicks 120, Wizards 99
  • 76ers 126, Hawks 116
  • Cavaliers 108, Pistons 100
  • Celtics 108, Raptors 105
  • Kings 129, Spurs 120
  • Magic 103, Bulls 97
  • Pelicans 115, Nuggets 110
  • Suns 131, Jazz 128
  • Lakers 107, Trail Blazers 95
  • Clippers 104, Rockets 100

… (Continued with scores from previous dates)

Eastern Conference Group A Standings:

  • Indiana Pacers: 2 Wins, 0 Losses, 253 Points Scored, +11 Point Differential
  • Philadelphia 76ers: 2 Wins, 1 Loss, 366 Points Scored, +12 Point Differential
  • Cleveland Cavaliers: 1 Win, 1 Loss, 224 Points Scored, +3 Point Differential
  • Atlanta Hawks: 1 Win, 1 Loss, 242 Points Scored, -4 Point Differential
  • Detroit Pistons (E): 0 Wins, 3 Losses, 326 Points Scored, -22 Point Differential

… (Continued with standings for Groups B and C, and Western Conference Groups A, B, and C)

Note:

  • A = clinched berth to advance
  • W = clinched wild card
  • E = eliminated

Reference:

https://www.cbssports.com/nba/news/nba-in-season-tournament-schedule-standings-lakers-look-to-go-4-0-pacers-can-clinch-east-group-a/

https://newstral.com/en/article/en/1246378359/nba-in-season-tournament-schedule-standings-lakers-look-to-go-4-0-pacers-can-clinch-east-group-a

newstalk941.com

Cavaliers Extend Winning Streak, Dominate Nuggets With Team Effort Again

Cavaliers Extend Winning Streak, Dominate Nuggets With Team Effort Again

The Cleveland Cavaliers secured their third straight win with a convincing 121-109 triumph over the Denver Nuggets on Sunday night. In the aftermath of the game, Spencer Davies provides insight into five key observations.

No Hesitation, Just Precision The Cavaliers displayed a remarkable lack of hesitation, executing precise offensive plays throughout the game. Their movements were purposeful, incorporating cutting, handoff plays, drives to the basket, and constant player motion. The team embraced an attack-first mentality, dictating the pace of the game with efficient plays.

Head coach J.B. Bickerstaff emphasized the simplicity of success: “If you just throw the ball to the open man, good things are probably going to happen for you.” He highlighted the importance of working on this fundamental aspect, stressing that with the team’s diverse threats, simplicity becomes a potent strategy.

Efficient Shot Selection Cleveland’s offense capitalized on any open looks, with players taking shots without hesitation. The Cavaliers successfully converted 11 of 27 three-point attempts, often relying on quick-trigger shots from handoffs and drive-and-kicks.

Players like Sam Merrill showcased a relentless shooting mentality, leading the team with nine attempts and hitting three in 24 minutes. Max Strus, Darius Garland, Dean Wade (with an impressive falling-out-of-bounds shot), and Georges Niang also contributed with successful long-range shots.

Bickerstaff highlighted the importance of shot preparation: “When you know you’re going to get the ball and you’re going to get a shot, your shot preparation is key.” The coach emphasized that the team’s trust is growing as players understand their roles, ensuring that shots are a result of well-executed plays rather than impulsive decisions.

In summary, the Cavaliers’ victory was not only marked by efficient offensive plays but also by the team’s commitment to simplicity, trust, and strategic shot selection. This winning formula has propelled them to a notable three-game winning streak.

In a pivotal 29-minute showcase, Jarrett Allen posted an impressive plus-42 on the stat sheet, leaving both fans and coaches astounded by his impact.

Head coach J.B. Bickerstaff couldn’t help but marvel at the extraordinary figure: “That’s an amazing number. I haven’t seen a plus-42 in 29 minutes. That’s a heck of a number.” While typically downplaying the significance of plus-minus, Bickerstaff acknowledged the exceptional nature of Allen’s contribution.

Despite a potentially misleading first-half box score, Allen’s influence on the game was monumental. He significantly disrupted Nikola Jokic, holding his ground, boxing out, and contributing to Jokic’s foul trouble throughout the night.

According to NBA.com’s matchup data, Allen limited the MVP center to a 2-for-5 shooting performance and forced him into two turnovers during the minutes he guarded him. Allen revealed the key to slowing down a player of Jokic’s caliber: “Energy. He can do it all.” Acknowledging Jokic’s near triple-double despite defensive efforts, Allen emphasized the need for unwavering focus on every play.

In the third quarter, Allen rebounded from a challenging first half with an impressive 13-point performance. The Cavaliers strategically exploited Denver’s interior, repeatedly finding success with lob passes to Allen, who adeptly navigated behind defenders.

Downplaying his individual achievements, Allen credited the entire team: “Those are never me. That’s just the whole team moving the ball, making the right passes and being in the right place at the right time.” Bickerstaff echoed this sentiment, highlighting the team’s adjustments to exploit Allen’s strengths in the pick-and-roll game.

“For him, the pick-and-roll game, they changed a little bit how they were covering it and went into a deeper drop, and that allowed him to get the ball in the pocket, and he’s good with both hands in that pocket,” explained Bickerstaff. The synergy between Allen and the guards, particularly Darius Garland, played a crucial role in executing successful plays and securing the Cavaliers’ victory.

After an outstanding performance on his career night, Craig Porter Jr. received the game ball from Donovan Mitchell, who acknowledged Porter’s impressive contributions. Porter recorded 21 points, four rebounds, and four assists in just 25 minutes.

Humorously addressing the unexpected success, Porter remarked in the press room, “I mean, no telling, I might get another career-high soon, so I might have to get rid of that thing.” He expressed surprise at achieving such a remarkable feat against the defending NBA champions, the Denver Nuggets, early in his career.

Reflecting on his performance, Porter stated, “Honestly, it’s crazy. Them being the team they are and having the accolades they have, doing that, it’s surprising to me even up to this point. But at the end of the day, I’ve just gotta go out there and just keep doing what I’m doing. And I understand I’m here for a reason, so I just try to make that known.”

Despite a shaky start, with a missed floater and a turnover, Porter’s confidence remained unshaken. He quickly rebounded, showcasing resilience against the formidable champions. Porter emphasized his focus on driving to the paint and creating opportunities for himself and his teammates. “I just try to live in the paint. Layups are the easiest thing to do in the game of basketball, so I just try to get as many layups or my teammates as many layups as possible.”

Coach Bickerstaff praised Porter’s maturity as a basketball player, attributing his trust in the rookie to his performance in summer league and training camp. Bickerstaff highlighted Porter’s composure, stating, “He is a very mature basketball player and he just has a game. He’s not hunting or searching to figure out who he is. He knows exactly who he is. He knows how to get to his spots and when and how to be aggressive. So you just have belief and trust in a guy who always seems to be composed and never over his skis. And that’s how Craig has been for us since he’s gotten here.”

In recent games, Evan Mobley has seamlessly found his rhythm on the court, receiving well-executed passes from teammates and showcasing his offensive versatility. Notably, he’s displayed adept ball control and the ability to score from close range, demonstrating a knack for finishing around the basket and an improving mid-range shot.

Mobley’s synergy with Jarrett Allen as a dynamic roller has played a crucial role in creating scoring opportunities. Allen, recognizing Mobley’s scoring ability, emphasized the importance of passing to him, stating, “Just pass Evan the ball. He is going to finish it. He is going to find the right pass.” Allen’s effective rolls draw attention, allowing Mobley to capitalize on open looks, particularly towards the end of games.

On the defensive end, Mobley continues to defy expectations, making plays that seem improbable. One standout moment was his clean block on Christian Braun’s dunk attempt, showcasing his athleticism and defensive prowess. Additionally, Mobley has been effective in denying the ball to key Denver players and has contributed significantly by bringing the ball up the floor off rebounds, adding a new dimension to the team’s play.

Mobley’s multifaceted contributions, both offensively and defensively, are proving instrumental in unlocking the team’s potential. As he continues to evolve and refine his skills, Mobley stands out as a rising star, impacting various facets of the game for his team.

Georges Niang has been making a significant impact, showcasing his prowess as a three-point shooter by hitting a pair of triples in three out of the last four games. Beyond his scoring ability, Niang has proven valuable defensively, using his sturdy frame to contribute against bulkier opponents.

A pivotal player for the bench unit, Niang has displayed versatility by seamlessly playing in different positions when the team requires his skills. His consistent three-point shooting and defensive contributions have made him a key asset for the team, highlighting his growing importance as a reliable contributor off the bench.

Reference:

https://www.si.com/nba/cavaliers/opinion/the-spin-cavs-share-wealth-vs-nuggets-in-third-straight-victory

https://www.audacy.com/923thefan/sports/cleveland-cavaliers/short-handed-cavs-crush-the-nuggets-121-109

thepeachbasket.net

Houston Rockets' Road Struggles Continue with Fourth Consecutive Loss to Lakers

Houston Rockets’ Road Struggles Continue with Fourth Consecutive Loss to Lakers

The Houston Rockets suffered their second straight defeat, losing 105-104 to the Los Angeles Lakers at Crypto.com Arena. Dillon Brooks led Houston with 24 points, including six 3-pointers.

Alperen Şengün’s layup tied the game at 104 with four seconds left, but a foul by Brooks sent LeBron James to the line. James made one free throw, giving the Lakers the lead. In the final seconds, Brooks missed a potential game-winner, and James finished with 37 points.

Despite strong performances from Brooks and Şengün, who scored 23 points with 10 rebounds, the Rockets couldn’t secure a win. Fred VanVleet contributed 15 points and 16 assists, while Jabari Smith Jr. added 14 points and five rebounds.

Anthony Davis set the tone for the Lakers with 27 points and 10 rebounds. The loss marked the Rockets’ fourth consecutive road defeat, maintaining a 0-4 record away from the Toyota Center in the 2023-24 season.

Next, the Rockets face the Golden State Warriors on their three-game California road trip, followed by a matchup with the Memphis Grizzlies at the Toyota Center. The Rockets vs. Warriors game is scheduled for 9:00 p.m. CDT at the Chase Center.

Reference:

https://www.si.com/nba/rockets/news/houston-rockets-drop-fourth-consecutive-road-game-in-loss-to-los-angeles-lakers

https://www.yardbarker.com/nba/articles/amp/rockets_drop_fourth_consecutive_road_game/s1_17031_39559646

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/sports/nba/top-stories/houston-rockets-extend-winning-streak-with-commanding-victory-against-los-angeles-lakers/articleshow/105089416.cms?from=mdr

Raptors Dominate Pistons, Establish Franchise Record for Assists in a Game

Raptors Dominate Pistons, Establish Franchise Record for Assists in a Game

The Toronto Raptors achieved a historic milestone on Sunday at Scotiabank Arena, setting a franchise record with 44 assists and securing a dominant 142-113 victory over the Detroit Pistons.

Maintaining a substantial lead of at least 30 points throughout most of the second half, the Raptors showcased their prowess, extending their advantage to 40 points in the fourth quarter. Facing the NBA’s lowest-ranked team, the Pistons, Toronto’s 142 total points marked the third-highest in regular-season history for the franchise.

Jakob Poeltl reflected on the exceptional team performance, highlighting the collective effort in ball movement. Rather than relying on a single player with a 20-assist game, the Raptors saw six players contribute at least four assists each.

“It was just one of those games where the ball was on a string for us,” said Poeltl. “Everybody was sharing the ball, moving the ball. You create a lot of easy shots that way, and we found ways to break down their defense.”

Coach Darko Rajaković praised the team’s halftime performance, already boasting 23 assists, urging them to sustain the momentum and not settle for only seven assists in the second half. While emphasizing the Raptors’ proficiency in passing and assists this season, Rajaković stressed the need to capitalize on these passes by attacking the paint.

In Sunday’s game, Rajaković observed a heightened level of aggression, particularly in attacking the rim, resulting in 70 paint points. This aggressive approach disrupted Detroit’s defense and paved the way for open three-point opportunities. The team’s defensive efforts also contributed to effective transitions.

The Raptors initiated a commanding lead, securing a 20-point advantage approximately nine minutes into the second quarter through a 25-6 run. Key contributions from players like Scottie Barnes and Precious Achiuwa fueled this surge. Barnes, in particular, delivered an outstanding performance throughout the game, finishing with 17 points, 9 assists, 7 rebounds, and an impressive plus-37 rating in just 25 minutes of play.

I just play the game, and whatever comes to me, that’s really what I take… no matter what it is, you know, comfortable doing it, everywhere out there on the floor,” says Barnes, expressing confidence in his versatility, whether handling the ball in pick-n-rolls or playing off the ball.

Rajaković highlights ongoing efforts to identify 2-3 points of emphasis in Barnes’ game to elevate him to the “next level” and achieve All-Star status, recognizing his current strengths as a skilled driver to the rim and effective teammate connection. Rajaković acknowledges the developmental process, considering Barnes’ age (22) and his own status as a rookie head coach.

Post-game, Rajaković playfully mentions the challenge of elite skills and traits, noting that excelling in multiple areas can pose a dilemma, as being extremely good at everything is a rare feat in the NBA. He humorously outlines the progression from survival to potential starting player, All-Star, and the likelihood of playing in Europe when attempting to be proficient in too many aspects.

Barnes expresses his commitment to improving his shot, emphasizing his career-high 39% three-point shooting. OG Anunoby credits Barnes for consistently working on both ends of his game, highlighting his well-rounded skill set.

Anunoby, returning to the Raptors lineup after missing three games due to a finger injury from “household chores,” keeps details private but mentions ongoing improvement. Reflecting on the injury, Anunoby describes needing five stitches and the severity of the laceration, emphasizing the steady recovery of his right shooting hand.

On Sunday, Anunoby concluded the game with nine points on 2-of-11 shooting, but his absence was particularly notable on the defensive end.

Barnes gives special credit to Anunoby for effectively impeding Cade Cunningham, limiting his ability to find his preferred positions. The 2021 first-overall pick wrapped up with 18 points on 7-of-17 shooting, with merely three points added in the second half.

“O.G. helps us so much, being able to have a physical strong presence, that moves his feet really well, defends really well,” Barnes acknowledges. “He guards everybody, one of the best, if not the best defender in the league.”

For the Raptors, this victory is a crucial rebound after dropping the previous two games to formidable Eastern Conference teams. Commencing the game at 4 p.m. on a Sunday, they addressed the challenge of a solid start, a concern from earlier matchups with the Washington Wizards and Milwaukee Bucks this week.

“You succeed in the NBA if you’re an everyday guy, if you’re capable of bringing it every single day. If that’s Sunday, 4 p.m., let it be Sunday 4 p.m. You got to be ready to go,” Rajaković remarks. “I thought that we did a really good job. Our starters set the tone, but also guys coming off the bench, everybody really took us to another level.”

The effort was against a Detroit team boasting numerous former top-10 picks, yet they have also concluded with the East’s worst record in two of the past three seasons. The Raptors’ victory extends Detroit’s losing streak to 11.

Rajaković anticipates facing a different Detroit team next time, considering the absence of key players like Jalen Duren, Bojan Bogdanovic, Killian Hayes, and a couple of others.

The win positions the Raptors at 2-2 in the current four-game home stretch and holds a 6-7 record for the season. Their upcoming schedule involves hitting the road for four of the next five games, starting with an In-Season Tournament matchup against the Orlando Magic on Tuesday.

Reference:

https://ca.sports.yahoo.com/news/toronto-raptors-franchise-record-assists-detroit-pistons-nba-recap-235820634.html

Warriors' Season Derails Rapidly: Crisis Unfolds on the Court

Warriors’ Season Derails Rapidly: Crisis Unfolds on the Court

A fortnight ago, the Bay Area exuded optimism. The Warriors, standing at 5–1, painted a picture of early-season dominance, marked by a thrilling victory in Oklahoma City. However, the current narrative tells a different tale.

Golden State finds itself in a disconcerting slump, with only one win in the last seven games leading up to the Nov. 18 clash with Oklahoma City. A five-game losing streak, including four consecutive losses in a six-game homestand, has raised concerns. The absence of Stephen Curry, performing at an MVP level, due to a knee injury, and Draymond Green’s four-game suspension for an altercation with Rudy Gobert, add to the team’s woes.

While the struggle cannot be attributed to one or two individuals, the lackluster performances of Klay Thompson and Andrew Wiggins contribute significantly. Initially, the Warriors’ success without a strong Wiggins seemed promising at 5–1. However, instead of a resurgence, Wiggins’ subpar form has become a hindrance.

Wiggins is currently recording career lows in points, assists, rebounds, free throw and field goal percentages, shooting a dismal 13.5% from three. Despite needing his perimeter defense, Steve Kerr has reduced Wiggins’ minutes to a career low. Notably, his struggles extend to various shot types, including a perplexing 17.9% on catch-and-shoot threes.

Kerr’s attempt to integrate Wiggins into the system, particularly playing off Steph, has not yielded the desired results. Wiggins’ shooting percentages on open and wide-open threes stand at 13.3% and 23.1%, respectively, reflecting missed opportunities.

Klay Thompson’s performance mirrors Wiggins’ struggles, with career lows in field goal and three-point percentages, alongside his lowest point average since his rookie year. Despite open looks, Thompson’s connection rate on open threes is a mere 20.6%, contributing to the team’s collective downturn.

Credit By www.si.com

The decline in efficiency from Andrew Wiggins and Klay Thompson has significantly impacted the once-dominant Warriors’ starting lineup. The combination of Steph Curry, Klay, Wiggins, Draymond Green, and Kevon Looney now holds a net rating of minus-14.4 in 87 minutes, displaying mediocrity on offense and vulnerability on defense. In contrast, this lineup was arguably the NBA’s best last year, boasting a remarkable 21.9 net rating in 331 minutes.

Simultaneously, the full five-man bench unit led by Chris Paul has also struggled. Despite reducing Wiggins and Thompson’s minutes, Steve Kerr faces challenges in integrating Moses Moody and Jonathan Kuminga into the rotation effectively. While both players are crucial, Moody’s size and Kuminga’s shooting limitations have hindered their seamless integration this season.

In the short term, these challenges result in a growing number of losses, squandering another outstanding performance from Curry, who is currently shouldering the burden of leading lineups that struggle both offensively and defensively. Steph remains a formidable force, reminiscent of his leadership during the Warriors’ 73-win season in 2015–16.

Looking ahead, ominous questions arise. Will Moody and Kuminga develop into championship-caliber role players? Can the Warriors trade them to acquire a player of that caliber? Wiggins, at 28 with two more seasons and a player option on his contract, raises questions about his long-term role in the core.

Then there’s Klay Thompson, earning $43 million in the final year of his deal. The absence of a contract extension before the season, coupled with Thompson’s performance, raises concerns about his future earning potential. Could the contract situation be affecting his game? Additionally, Thompson’s expiring contract might serve as a valuable trade asset for the Warriors, though the decision to move him remains a complex one.

These are unsettling considerations, prompted by the Warriors’ recent struggles. As long as this downturn persists, these questions will persist, casting a shadow over Golden State’s season. If the team fails to reverse its fortunes soon, the uncomfortable conversations will only intensify.

Reference:

https://www.si.com/nba/2023/11/17/warriors-struggles-klay-thompson-andrew-wiggins-steph-curry

https://www.hoopsrumors.com/2023/06/2023-nba-offseason-preview-golden-state-warriors.html

Kevin Durant's 39-point performance guides the Suns to a 140-137 victory over the Jazz in double overtime.

Kevin Durant’s 39-point performance guides the Suns to a 140-137 victory over the Jazz in double overtime.

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Kevin Durant showcased a stellar performance, contributing 39 points, 10 assists, and eight rebounds, guiding the Suns to a thrilling 140-137 double-overtime victory over the Utah Jazz on Sunday night.

This marked Phoenix’s third consecutive win, securing another triumph over the Jazz in the span of three days.

Credit By: www.ctpost.com

Devin Booker made a significant impact, scoring 22 of his 26 points in the second half and adding eight assists. Eric Gordon contributed 20 points, Jusuf Nurkic tallied 18, and Grayson Allen finished with 14.

Durant expressed satisfaction with the team’s offensive momentum, stating, “I thought we had good momentum on the offensive side of the ball all game. We stayed with that throughout the fourth quarter and the two overtimes.”

On the Jazz side, Lauri Markkanen impressed with 38 points and 17 rebounds. Talen Horton-Tucker contributed 25 points, Jordan Clarkson added 22, Collin Sexton had 18, and John Collins finished with 15.

Despite the Jazz holding advantages in second-chance points (27-18) and fastbreak points (26-12), they ultimately fell short.

Durant’s back-to-back baskets and three successful free throws in the second overtime secured a 135-130 lead for the Suns. The Jazz managed to tie the game once again, but Allen’s crucial 3-pointer with 43 seconds remaining prevented Utah from taking the lead.

Referee Ashley Moyer-Gieich initially called a foul on Durant for blocking Markkanen’s shot with less than a second left, a decision that would have given Markkanen a chance to tie the game with three free throws. However, the officials overturned the call upon review, confirming Durant’s clean block.

Durant commented on the overturned call, stating, “It was ridiculous to even call that. I knew I blocked the shot and I knew I didn’t touch him at all. But that’s just how the game is.”

Markkanen expressed surprise at the reversal, believing Durant had made contact. “I thought (it was a foul). I was getting ready to shoot three free throws.”

Utah twice rallied from an 11-point first-half deficit and forced overtime when Markkanen tied the game with a putback layup in the final seconds of regulation.

UP NEXT

Suns: Host Portland on Tuesday in an NBA In-Season Tournament game.

Jazz: Visit the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday for an NBA In-Season Tournament game.

Reference:

https://ca.sports.yahoo.com/news/durant-leads-suns-past-jazz-042434380.html

https://www.ctpost.com/sports/article/durant-leads-suns-past-jazz-for-second-time-in-18503072.php

Watch: Zion Williamson takes flight on back-to-back dunks in Pelicans return

Zion Williamson’s Explosive Dunking Showcase in His Pelicans Comeback Game

In the Pelicans Season Opener, Zion Williamson’s Impact Soared with Consecutive Dunks, Boosting New Orleans to a 56-47 Lead.

Zion Williamson’s performance in the first half featured his first two field goals. Additionally, he made two trips to the free-throw line, successfully converting three of his four attempts. Notably, he showcased his playmaking skills with an impressive assist to C.J. McCollum, resulting in a three-point play.

The New Orleans Pelicans’ fate has long been intertwined with the performance of their star player, Zion Williamson. A couple of years ago, in his absence due to injury, the team’s core managed to reach the playoffs as the 8th seed, but their journey ended in a first-round defeat after a six-game series.

Last season, the Pelicans got off to a promising start with a 23-13 record. However, their fortunes took a downturn when Williamson suffered a season-ending hamstring injury on January 2 against the 76ers. Over the next 46 games, the team struggled, posting a 19-27 record and eventually falling short in the play-in tournament, losing to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Williamson, during his 29 appearances last season, showcased his scoring prowess with an average of 26 points, along with seven rebounds and 4.6 assists per game. His remarkable 60.8% shooting from the field only emphasized his impact.

The Pelicans, with a healthy Williamson back in the mix, have the potential to resume their strong performance from January and compete for a coveted top-four seed in the Western Conference. His recent display against the Grizzlies showed a player who seemed to be in peak condition.

The lingering question, however, is whether Williamson can maintain his high level of play over the course of an entire season. It’s a question that remains the central concern surrounding his game.

More must-reads:

https://www.yardbarker.com/nba/articles/watch_zion_williamson_takes_flight_on_back_to_back_dunks_in_pelicans_return/s1_13132_39441840

https://www.espn.in/nba/story/_/id/38497116/can-pelicans-count-zion-williamson-2023-24

Victor Wembanyama's remarkable debut reveals his potential in fleeting moments, but the

Victor Wembanyama’s remarkable debut reveals his potential in fleeting moments, but the

SAN ANTONIO — The anticipation was palpable, set against a backdrop of soaring expectations.

A larger-than-life billboard of Victor Wembanyama, arms outstretched, greeted visitors as they approached San Antonio’s Frost Bank Center. While its actual size remained uncertain, the scene was meticulously arranged, brimming with excitement for Wembanyama’s debut and the swift acclimation to the regular-season basketball stage.

Yet, the unfolding narrative seemed to offer only intermittent glimpses of his potential. Starting and stopping, with a burst of brilliance marred by a few missteps along the way.

Some of the challenges stemmed from Wembanyama himself, as his over-eagerness occasionally resulted in foul trouble, relegating him to the bench for a significant portion of the second half. Others can be attributed to the Dallas Mavericks, particularly Luka Dončić, who seemed less accommodating to their Texas rivals. Additionally, the Spurs players struggled at times to connect with Wembanyama, failing to utilize his towering presence on the court, especially in the final minutes of the game.

Credit By: ca.sports.yahoo.com

“In transition, we missed him. It’s an adjustment. It’s not every day you have a 7-foot-4 guy running down the lane and being able to post up,” reflected Spurs guard Devin Vassell. “We’re all figuring each other out. We need to make sure the game is easy for him.”

While the weight of expectations loomed large in Wembanyama’s inaugural game, the journey ahead remains long and full of potential progress. Despite a shaky start, Wembanyama found his stride in the fourth quarter, contributing nine of his 15 points along with five rebounds, two steals, and a block in 23 minutes.

However, the San Antonio Spurs couldn’t contain the force of Dončić and Wembanyama’s draft counterpart, Dereck Lively II, ultimately succumbing 126-119 on Wednesday night. Dončić delivered his usual stellar performance, tallying 33 points, 13 rebounds, and 10 assists, while Lively lived up to his name, showcasing his agility and energy with 16 points and 10 rebounds off the bench.

The NBA world seemed to have forgotten about San Antonio since 2018, following the dramatic departure of Kawhi Leonard and the Spurs’ decline as championship contenders. It appeared as though five years of pent-up emotions were stored within the arena, waiting to be unleashed in the form of a soaring dunk or a game-changing block.

Fans eagerly lined the tunnel, with TV cameras and smartphones at the ready to capture Victor Wembanyama’s entrance from the locker room as he prepared for the game. When other Spurs players emerged, polite applause greeted them as they stepped onto the court. But when Wembanyama’s towering figure began to appear, it was met with a thunderous roar, and fans eagerly tracked his every move.

Wembanyama described the experience as surreal, expressing gratitude for being there. He made a shot block within the first minute and even sank two impressive 3-pointers. It seemed like the ideal start, reminiscent of a storybook debut, following in the footsteps of legends like David Robinson and Tim Duncan.

However, foul trouble became Wembanyama’s nemesis, leading to multiple benchings. Two fouls in the first quarter, a third before halftime, a fourth in the third quarter, and a fifth early in the final period. It was a reminder that, despite his professionalism, maturity, and basketball IQ, he was still a 19-year-old rookie. Even the most seasoned players find themselves sitting out when coaches aim to prevent further fouls and damage.

Gregg Popovich, who did his best to conceal his excitement throughout the preseason and on this particular night, refrained from overreacting, and so did the young rookie. Wembanyama acknowledged that while it could be frustrating, he remained positive, stating that they were in a learning process, and it was only their first regular-season game. After reviewing the film, the coaches and players would collaborate to address the challenges and improve their game.

It seemed as though Wembanyama was overly enthusiastic, eager to prove himself despite already showcasing glimpses of his talent. He set firm screens, established his position on the block with a strong hand out, and kept defenders at bay with his opposite hand.

However, the seasoned Grant Williams managed to slip beneath Wembanyama’s arms, drawing some contact and the attention of the officials. Both players were charged with offensive fouls as a result of the physical play and the failure to establish a solid position.

Credit By: ca.sports.yahoo.com

“I was focused on giving my best,” Wembanyama said. “It felt natural, how I always try to play. But I was subbed out shortly after returning because of my fouls. I couldn’t find my rhythm.”

Yet, when Coach Popovich called his name at the 7:12 mark, it was as if a spotlight had been turned on, and a performance was about to unfold. It mirrored a similar spectacle a few years back when the Spurs were present for Zion Williamson’s highly anticipated debut in January 2020 after a prolonged period on the sidelines.

Wembanyama’s performance started with an alley-oop, followed by his third 3-pointer. A transition dunk further showcased his basketball prowess. Then came a remarkable display of skill as he faced up against Williams in the mid-post and smoothly sank a jumper, reminiscent of the spots where legends like Duncan and Robinson made their mark for two decades.

“Since I couldn’t be aggressive in the first half, I managed to surprise the opponent and score a couple of buckets,” Wembanyama noted. “They were more focused on my hot teammates at that moment. That’s how the team operates.”

He appeared to be cognizant of the team’s dynamics and the need for time before everyone could fully recognize his potential. Several players had been part of the Spurs roster before Wembanyama’s arrival, and it was natural for them to desire their moments in the spotlight, considering the team had been relatively obscure in recent years.

Even Dončić acknowledged the electric atmosphere, stopping short of labeling it as playoff-like. He, like everyone else, was curious to witness Wembanyama’s transition, having experienced a similar situation himself a few short years ago.

“It was enjoyable. We knew the entire world was watching,” Dončić remarked. “It was enjoyable.”

Although they had no issue spoiling the moment, they understood that Wembanyama would make a comeback, even better than before. The Spurs, too, were poised to make improvements, whether the scene resembled a circus or not.

Reference:

https://ca.sports.yahoo.com/news/victor-wembanyamas-surreal-debut-shows-his-potential-in-glimpses-but-the-promise-is-there-070858994.html

https://sportspyder.com/sports/nba/articles/45259822

Mavericks-Spurs: 5 takeaways as Luka Doncic spoils Victor Wembanyama's debut

Luka Doncic Steals Spotlight in Mavericks vs. Spurs, Spoiling Wembanyama’s Debut

The Frost Bank Center in San Antonio was buzzing with excitement as more than 200 media credentials were issued to outlets from eight different countries. The occasion? The much-anticipated opening night of the NBA season.

This was meant to be the unveiling of the Victor Wembanyama Experience, a moment of great significance for the San Antonio Spurs and their fans. However, the evening was dominated by the extraordinary performance of Luka Doncic, who led the Dallas Mavericks to a thrilling 126-119 victory in front of a sellout crowd of 18,947.

Here are the key takeaways from this electrifying matchup:

  1. Luka Doncic: A Top MVP Contender Luka Doncic wasted no time in reminding everyone why he’s considered a frontrunner for the MVP award. He notched his 57th career triple-double, finishing the night with 33 points. The highlight of the evening was his clutch step-back three-pointer with just 30.6 seconds left on the clock.

Doncic, along with Kyrie Irving, was instrumental in Dallas’ fourth-quarter surge, contributing 20 of their 30 points. Remarkably, Doncic became only the third player in NBA history to record a 30-point triple-double in a season opener, joining the elite company of Oscar Robertson (twice) and Giannis Antetokounmpo.

It’s worth noting that Doncic was listed as questionable due to a left calf sprain suffered in preseason. He clearly played through discomfort, as evident by his slight limp even in the postgame locker room. Mavericks fans will be holding their breath as they await news of his availability for the upcoming game against the Brooklyn Nets.

  1. Victor Wembanyama’s Debut Falls Short of Expectations The much-anticipated debut of Victor Wembanyama, hailed as the future of the San Antonio Spurs, didn’t quite live up to the hype. Foul trouble plagued the young prospect throughout the game.

Comparisons were drawn to legendary Spurs big men like David Robinson and Tim Duncan, both of whom had spectacular debuts. Robinson, making his debut on November 4, 1989, posted 23 points, 17 rebounds, and three blocks in a victory over the Los Angeles Lakers. Tim Duncan’s debut on October 31, 1997, saw him contribute 15 points, 10 rebounds, and two blocks in a road win against Denver.

While Wembanyama’s first outing may have fallen short of these lofty standards, it’s important to remember that both Robinson and Duncan went on to have Hall of Fame careers and were NBA All-Stars in their rookie seasons. The future remains bright for Wembanyama, despite his challenging start.

Credit By www.nba.com
  1. Wembanyama’s Resilience Shines Amid Foul Trouble Against Mavericks

Victor Wembanyama displayed remarkable resilience despite early foul trouble that limited his playing time to just 23 minutes. He collected his fifth foul only 26 seconds into the final quarter but returned to the game with 7 minutes and 12 seconds left. In a crucial moment, he impressed Coach Gregg Popovich and his teammates by scoring nine points in just 3 minutes and 17 seconds.

  1. Mavericks’ Unique Strategy Neutralizes Wembanyama

The Dallas Mavericks employed a creative strategy to counter Victor Wembanyama’s shot-blocking prowess. Assistant coach God Shammgod simulated the Frenchman’s abilities in practice by challenging shots along the perimeter while wearing padded paddles on his arms to mimic Wembanyama’s extensive wingspan. This unique approach appeared to be effective as Wembanyama only recorded one block during the game. However, it’s essential to consider the foul trouble the Spurs rookie encountered.

Luka Doncic acknowledged Wembanyama’s extraordinary skills, emphasizing his impressive abilities in handling the ball, shooting, and shot-blocking.

  1. Spurs’ Tall-Ball Starting Lineup

San Antonio continued to experiment with its “tall-ball” starting lineup, featuring Jeremy Sochan at point guard, Devin Vassell at shooting guard, Keldon Johnson at small forward, Victor Wembanyama at power forward, and Zach Collins at center. Despite the lineup’s versatility and defensive strength, the Mavericks outscored the Spurs 56-46 in the paint. The starting unit did score 43 points in the first quarter, a significant improvement from the previous season.

Coach Popovich values the lineup’s flexibility and ability to initiate offense quickly. However, concerns remain about their ability to create offense against teams with solid defensive schemes due to the absence of a traditional point guard.

  1. Dereck Lively II Expected to Move Into Starting Role

It’s likely that Dereck Lively II will transition into a starting role, ending his days on the bench.

In a showdown of rookies, Lively outshone Wembanyama as he emerged as a significant force off the Mavericks’ bench. He put up an impressive 16 points and secured 10 rebounds, making 7 out of 8 field goals.

Drafted as the 12th overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, Lively showcased his skills, particularly in the third quarter where he scored 10 of his points. He consistently demonstrated the potential to be a formidable pick-and-roll partner for Doncic and Irving.

The 19-year-old rookie also displayed unwavering determination on the defensive end, earning admiration from Doncic, who slipped an enthusiastic expletive during his postgame praise of Lively.

While Wembanyama garnered considerable attention, it was Lively who spearheaded the Mavericks’ reserves, outscoring the Spurs’ bench with a notable 47-37 margin. Tim Hardaway Jr. led the bench unit with 17 points.

Mavericks’ head coach, Jason Kidd, even hinted at the likelihood of Lively joining the starting lineup in the near future.

Michael C. Wright, a seasoned writer for NBA.com, can be reached via email or followed on Twitter, with his archive available for reference.

Reference:

https://www.nba.com/news/mavericks-spurs-5-takeaways-as-luka-doncic-spoils-victor-wembanyamas-debut

https://www.reuters.com/sports/basketball/luka-doncic-spoils-victor-wembanyamas-debut-mavs-win-2023-10-26/

news.yahoo.com

https://apnews.com/article/wembanyama-spurs-mavericks-doncic-3627f558ec95dfe4d45d29297eff8f63

Thunder-Bulls: 5 takeaways as Chet Holmgren (finally) debuts

Chet Holmgren’s Debut Sparks Thunder-Bulls: 5 Key Takeaways and Highlights

Following the Oklahoma City Thunder’s convincing 124-104 win against the Chicago Bulls at the United Center on Wednesday, one team held an impromptu players-only meeting. It doesn’t take much guessing to figure out which team that was. Here are five key takeaways from this matchup:

  1. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander: An MVP Contender in the Making?
    • Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s outstanding performance on Wednesday positions him as a top contender for the Kia Most Valuable Player award. He showcased his versatility, scoring 31 points on 12-of-18 shooting, along with 10 assists, five rebounds, a steal, and two blocks. With a solid All-Star season last year and an impressive showing at the FIBA World Cup, SGA is poised to chase both a scoring title and MVP recognition.
  2. Chet Holmgren’s Long-Awaited Debut
    • Chet Holmgren finally made his NBA debut after overcoming a Lisfranc injury that sidelined him last season. In his first game, he demonstrated solid and efficient play, contributing 11 points, four rebounds, three assists, and a steal in just 25 minutes. Holmgren withstood physical tests from the Bulls, showcasing his potential for the Thunder.
  3. Bulls’ Lack of Offseason Changes
    • The Bulls’ lack of significant offseason moves resulted in a team that felt all too familiar from the previous season. With DeRozan, LaVine, and Vucevic leading the way, the team struggled to find a winning formula. Patrick Williams continued to be inconsistent, and shooting woes plagued LaVine and Coby White. A players-only meeting on opening night set a high bar for the season ahead.
  4. Contrasting Trajectories for Two Teams
    • The Thunder appear to be one of the NBA’s most exciting teams, with a deep roster, youth, and future draft picks. Coach Mark Daigneault has instilled a strong defense-first concept, and Holmgren’s debut adds another dimension to their gameplay. In contrast, the Bulls face challenges in finding their winning formula.
  5. Perspective on Opening Night
    • Coach Daigneault reminded us that the excitement of the first game can lead to overreactions. With over 98% of the season left to play, teams should focus on learning and growing, regardless of the outcome. This applies not only to the Thunder and Bulls but to all 30 NBA teams.

In conclusion, the Thunder’s victory and Holmgren’s debut mark the beginning of an exciting season, while the Bulls face challenges in finding their stride. The journey is long, and teams have ample time to evolve and improve.

Reference:

https://www.nba.com/news/thunder-bulls-5-takeaways-as-chet-holmgren-finally-debuts

https://www.cbssports.com/nba/news/chet-holmgrens-nba-debut-featured-flashes-of-unique-skillset-but-patience-should-be-shown-in-his-development/

https://www.sportsline.com/nba/news/thunder-vs-bulls-wednesday-nba-odds-props-chet-holmgren-to-finally-debut-for-oklahoma-city-taking-heavy-rookie-of-the-year-action/

Suns docked 2024 second-round pick after league says team violated free agency rules

Phoenix Suns Penalized 2024 Second-Round Draft Pick for Free Agency Violation


In a recent decision, the NBA has penalized the Phoenix Suns by stripping them of their 2024 second-round draft pick. The league took this action on Wednesday, citing a violation of league regulations regarding the timing of free agency negotiations during the current season.

According to the league’s investigation, the Suns were found to have engaged in discussions with forward Drew Eubanks before the authorized date for such negotiations. Subsequently, Eubanks went on to sign with the Suns.

The draft pick that the Suns forfeited was originally owned by the Denver Nuggets and had been acquired by the Suns through a prior trade involving the Orlando Magic. The league noted that the Suns fully cooperated with the investigative process.

In response to the penalty, the Suns issued a statement expressing their disappointment with the NBA’s findings. They emphasized that any breach of the rules was unintentional and that their primary focus remains on adhering to league regulations while striving to compete at the highest level every season.

The statement further stated, “With that being said, we accept the penalty from the league and are focused on looking forward to this season.”

Reference:

https://apnews.com/article/phoenix-suns-violation-eubanks-draft-2cc42ca6cbc801c4bf578bacf6316633

https://www.usnews.com/news/sports/articles/2023-10-25/suns-docked-2024-second-round-pick-after-league-says-team-violated-free-agency-rules

https://www.sportsnet.ca/nba/article/phoenix-suns-docked-second-round-draft-pick-for-violating-free-agency-rules/
Former NBA star Dwight Howard denies sexual assault lawsuit filed by Georgia man

Dwight Howard, Ex-NBA Star, Refutes Georgia Man’s Sexual Assault Lawsui

Former NBA star Dwight Howard is refuting allegations of sexual assault brought against him by a Georgia man, Stephen Harper. Harper filed a state civil suit in July, accusing Howard of assault and battery, false imprisonment, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. In response, Howard’s attorney filed a statement this week, asserting that the encounter in question, which took place in his Atlanta suburban home in 2021, was consensual and requesting the dismissal of the case.

According to Harper’s lawsuit, he had met Howard on Instagram, and they had exchanged explicit text messages before arranging to meet at Howard’s residence on July 19, 2021. En route to Howard’s Gwinnett County home, Harper claims that Howard asked if another individual could join them for a planned sexual encounter. Harper declined this proposal.

Upon arriving at Howard’s residence, Harper alleges that he was joined by a person dressed as a woman who went by the name “Kitty.” Harper states that he attempted to resist the advances of both Howard and Kitty but was compelled to participate in sexual activity against his will. The lawsuit describes how Harper felt trapped, fearing imminent bodily harm if he resisted Howard’s advances, and subsequently felt violated and humiliated.

In response, Dwight Howard strongly denied these allegations, stating that the three men had agreed to engage in consensual sexual activity. He has requested a summary judgment, along with the assessment of court costs and attorney fees against Harper.

The Associated Press typically does not identify individuals who claim to be victims of sexual assault unless they have consented to being named publicly.

Dwight Howard, 37 years old, enjoyed an illustrious NBA career as an eight-time All-Star and a three-time Defensive Player of the Year. He was known for his dominance as a center and played for seven different NBA franchises. Notably, he was selected as the first overall pick by the Orlando Magic in the 2004 draft and won an NBA championship with the Los Angeles Lakers during the pandemic-affected 2019-20 season. However, he was also recognized for his disruptive presence in the locker room, frequently changing teams over his final six seasons in the league. Howard’s last NBA season was in 2021-22, after which he played in Taiwan during the 2022-23 season.

Reference:

https://apnews.com/article/dwight-howard-sexual-assault-lawsuit-nba-7bcfb45342393b48ddf07fd62e93fece

https://www.kcbd.com/2023/10/25/former-nba-star-dwight-howard-denies-sexual-assault-lawsuit-filed-by-georgia-man/

https://www.news18.com/sports/former-nba-star-dwight-howard-denies-sexual-assault-lawsuit-filed-by-georgia-man-8633804.html

CJ McCollum and Zion Williamson lead Pelicans past Grizzlies 111-104 in season opener

Zion Williamson and CJ McCollum Propel Pelicans to Season Opener Victory

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — In a thrilling season opener, CJ McCollum led the New Orleans Pelicans to a 111-104 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies, with Zion Williamson delivering a standout performance.

McCollum showcased his scoring prowess by netting 24 points, while Zion Williamson contributed 23 points and secured seven crucial rebounds. This dynamic duo propelled the Pelicans to a triumphant start in a closely contested game that marked the beginning of the season for both teams.

McCollum’s shooting was on point, as he went 8 of 16 from the field, including 6 of 11 from beyond the three-point line. Williamson played a pivotal role in the fourth quarter, scoring 12 of his total points to thwart any potential Memphis comeback. Brandon Ingram was another key contributor for the Pelicans, posting 19 points, seven rebounds, and six assists, while Jonas Valanciunas notched a double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds.

New Orleans’ coach, Willie Green, praised the collective effort of his team, stating, “Everybody that came in and touched the floor, their mission was to win their minutes.” He emphasized the team’s focus on executing effectively on both ends of the court, with a strong emphasis on defense.

Desmond Bane was the standout performer for Memphis, tallying 31 points, while Marcus Smart and Xavier Tillman each added 17 points. Tillman also grabbed 12 rebounds, making significant contributions to the Grizzlies’ efforts.

Notably, Grizzlies guard Ja Morant was serving a 25-game suspension, leaving a void in the team’s offensive firepower. Bane took on the responsibility of shouldering some of the scoring load during Morant’s absence. He acknowledged the need for improvement and building winning habits as the season progresses.

Due to injuries and Morant’s suspension, Memphis had to deploy small-ball lineups for much of the game. In contrast, the Pelicans started the season with their key players, Ingram and Williamson, in good health, giving them a considerable advantage. New Orleans dominated the boards with a 52-37 rebounding advantage, despite committing 21 turnovers. Memphis struggled to convert turnovers into fast-break points.

The Pelicans took a 57-47 lead at halftime, having held the Grizzlies to a 36% shooting performance. Their lead continued to grow in the third quarter as they capitalized on Memphis’ mistakes and ongoing shooting woes.

While Memphis made a push early in the fourth quarter, the Pelicans responded with a seven-point run, re-establishing a 16-point lead, their largest of the game at that point. Williamson’s impressive performance in the final quarter played a pivotal role in securing the win for the Pelicans.

Williamson acknowledged the challenge of regaining his in-game rhythm, saying, “For me, it’s going to be a few games getting that in-game flow back.” He emphasized the uniqueness of real NBA games despite rigorous training.

Despite the victory, Coach Green acknowledged that there is still room for improvement and growth. “We’ve got work to do,” he said, emphasizing the importance of continuous improvement.

Up Next:

  • Pelicans will host the New York Knicks on Saturday.
  • Grizzlies will host the Denver Nuggets on Friday night.

Reference:

https://apnews.com/article/pelicans-grizzlies-season-opener-ca3adfec4e08a8296f3063d7f364704b

https://www.ivpressonline.com/sports/cj-mccollum-and-zion-williamson-lead-pelicans-past-grizzlies-111-104-in-season-opener/article_3a3fbc38-dc4d-5856-ad9c-946938b428d4.html

https://www.mysanantonio.com/sports/article/cj-mccollum-and-zion-williamson-lead-pelicans-18448715.php

Harrison Barnes scores 33, powers Kings past Jazz 130-114 in season opener

Harrison Barnes Leads Kings to 130-114 Victory Over Jazz

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Harrison Barnes displayed his scoring prowess by dropping 33 points, leading the Sacramento Kings to a commanding 130-114 victory over the Utah Jazz in both teams’ season opener on Wednesday night.

Domantas Sabonis provided substantial support with 22 points and 12 rebounds, while De’Aaron Fox contributed 18 points for the Kings. Malik Monk showcased his playmaking skills off the bench, dishing out a team-high seven assists.

Sacramento’s perimeter shooting was a key factor in their triumph, as they connected on 19 of 51 three-point attempts and shot 46% from the field overall.

The Jazz adopted a zone defense strategy to contain Sabonis near the basket, which created ample open opportunities for Barnes and other sharpshooters.

Kings forward Keegan Murray, who made four three-pointers and finished with 15 points, commented on their preparedness, saying, “We saw it a lot last year. We were able to go through that film and find different things that worked, and we just put those to work today, and we were able to see a lot of shots go in.”

Jordan Clarkson led the Jazz with 24 points and six assists, while Lauri Markkanen recorded 18 points and 10 rebounds, and John Collins contributed 15 points and 11 rebounds in his Utah debut.

The Jazz had previously won six consecutive season openers but have now dropped four of their last five regular season games against the Kings.

The disparity in perimeter shooting was evident, with the Jazz attempting 23 fewer three-pointers than the Kings and making 10 fewer shots from beyond the arc.

Utah’s coach, Will Hardy, acknowledged the challenge, saying, “That’s a moment where the math is against you. I think in general we really struggled in transition to get matched and to contain the ball. Our communication was not very sharp.”

Barnes set the tone by hitting his first eight shots, including four three-pointers, amassing 27 points before halftime. The veteran forward finished the first half with an impressive 10-of-11 shooting from the field.

Barnes ignited a 10-0 run in the first quarter, propelling Sacramento to a 32-21 lead. Utah’s drought, marked by missed shots and turnovers, allowed Barnes and the Kings to seize control.

In the second quarter, Sacramento stretched its lead to as much as 19 points, going ahead 69-50, with Barnes and Sabonis combining for seven baskets in a four-minute span.

Clarkson reflected on the defensive lapses, admitting, “Defensively, we didn’t make it tough on them tonight.”

Although Utah attempted a comeback by narrowing the gap to 74-65 early in the third quarter, they couldn’t catch up. Sacramento reestablished a double-digit lead, and in the fourth quarter, their advantage grew to as many as 23 points.

Barnes expressed the importance of starting the season on a positive note, especially with a road win, saying, “It’s important just from a confidence standpoint to go out there and start the season the right way, especially getting a win on the road.”

In his postgame remarks, Sacramento coach Mike Brown chose to address a mass shooting tragedy in Lewiston, Maine, that claimed at least 16 lives. He expressed his sorrow and called for action to prevent such recurring events.

UP NEXT

  • Kings: Host the Golden State Warriors on Friday. Sacramento went 1-3 in the season series against the Warriors last year.
  • Jazz: Host the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday. The Clippers have lost 11 straight regular season games in Utah.

Reference:

https://apnews.com/article/sacramento-kings-utah-jazz-nba-77aa48252327d5205b83238b66db5939

https://abcnews.go.com/Sports/wireStory/harrison-barnes-scores-33-powers-kings-past-jazz-104335902

https://www.mysanantonio.com/sports/article/harrison-barnes-scores-33-powers-kings-past-jazz-18448759.php

Leonard and George dominate in Clippers’ 123-111 win over the Trail Blazers to open the season

Clippers’ Leonard and George Lead with Authority in Season Opener Victory Against Trail Blazers, 123-111.

In a riveting season opener on Wednesday night, the Los Angeles Clippers showcased their formidable lineup, securing a 123-111 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers. Paul George shone with 27 points, while Kawhi Leonard contributed 23, leading a contingent of five Clippers players who reached double figures in scoring.

This victory marked a promising start for the Clippers, who faced numerous challenges last season due to injuries to both Leonard and George, resulting in an early exit from the playoffs. Now, with both star players healthy and on the court together, expectations are soaring as the Clippers aim for their first NBA championship.

Leonard expressed his contentment, saying, “It feels good. I’m happy I had a good offseason, and I’m able to get back healthy.”

Ivica Zubac had an outstanding performance, tallying 20 points and grabbing 12 rebounds, while Russell Westbrook recorded 11 points and a remarkable 13 assists, becoming the first Clippers player to achieve at least 13 assists in a season opener since Andre Miller in October 2002.

The Clippers’ sharpshooting prowess was on full display as Leonard sank all five of his 3-point attempts, contributing to a total of 16 three-pointers for the team, a franchise record for a season opener. Additionally, their 36 assists marked another record for a season opener.

Coach Tyronn Lue commended the team’s effort, saying, “I love how hard we played tonight and how we competed. We’ve got to keep putting it together every night.”

The Trail Blazers, playing without Damian Lillard, who had been traded to Milwaukee in September, had Malcolm Brogdon leading the way with 20 points off the bench. Anfernee Simons also chipped in with 18 points, and Deandre Ayton battled foul trouble but managed to secure 12 rebounds. The Blazers featured six players in double figures.

From the outset, the Clippers took control of the game and never trailed, amassing a 30-point lead in the second half. Their dominant performance included an impressive 16 dunks, with seven of their first eight baskets being slam dunks, courtesy of five different players.

Coach Lue praised the impact of Russell Westbrook, stating, “Russ starting the game was tremendous. He really led the charge for us.”

However, turnovers were a concern for the Clippers, as they committed 17 in the game, with Leonard and George each contributing four.

Terance Mann, initially slated as the fifth starter for the Clippers, was sidelined with a sprained ankle, with Robert Covington stepping in and contributing five points.

Scoot Henderson made his NBA debut for the Portland Trail Blazers, scoring 11 points in 36 minutes of play.

Referencea:

https://apnews.com/article/kawhi-leonard-paul-george-clippers-trail-blazers-39cdf1bc5b126253da8480c396567f42

https://www.thestar.com/sports/basketball/leonard-and-george-dominate-in-clippers-123-111-win-over-the-trail-blazers-to-open/article_aed767ac-3ae9-5c89-b4a8-8b2c7dd5be4c.html