According to the Associated Press, Pacers guard Brandon Rush has been suspended five games for violating the league’s anti-drug policy.
As Mike Wells noted on Twitter, Rush’s suspension means that this is the third time he has failed a drug test. In response to the suspension, Pacers president Larry Bird said “we will do what we can to help Brandon going forward.”
As Jared Wade of Eight Points, Nine Seconds pointed out earlier today, this is exactly the kind of news the Pacers didn’t want right now:
The team spent the past several years in salary cap hell, and the ultimate payoff of living in that limbo of mediocrity was supposed to be having a team that could “restore the pride” and transform the Pacers into a team of citizens who fans could once again root for without feeling dirty. Management has spent the past several summers drafting mature, NBA-ready players, who while perhaps lacking the tremendous upside potential of some of their peers, would be men of character that the people of Indiana could be proud to applaud.
With Lance Stephenson, they deviated from that course and got a PR blackeye. And with this recent trouble for Brandon, someone who supposedly epitomized that ideal, they have gotten another one.
So it’s back to familiar territory: damage control.
A quick look at the NBA’s drug policy reveals that the drug Rush tested positive for was almost certainly marijuana — testing positive for cocaine, opiates, PCP, or amphetamines results in a dismissal from the NBA, while Marijuana only carries a five-game suspension after a third failed test. It’s technically possible that this is Rush’s first failed PED test, but the league is generally good about distinguishing PED suspensions from “regular” drug suspensions.
Obviously, casual marijuana is hardly grounds for hysteria in this day and age. But whether or not you believe Rush’s use of marijuana kept him from doing his job to the best of his abilities, getting caught on three separate occasions certainly did. Forget about what Marijuana is or isn’t — the fact is that Rush made a series of decisions that led to a five-game suspension and a PR hit for the last team in the NBA that needs a PR hit right now.
The time off during the All-Star break did Dwyane Wade some good.
The Bulls guard turned back the clock on Friday night, leading the Bulls with 23 points and topping it off with this dunk that proved to be the dagger, sealing a Chicago win. The Suns were convinced Wade was going to run the shot clock way down before making his move and they lollygagged into position — so he just blew past everyone for the poster slam.
The Bulls won 128-121. Devin Booker led the Suns with 27.
Atlanta’s DeMarre Carroll picked up a deserved flagrant for this foul.
With a couple of minutes left to go in the second quarter, Isaiah Thomas made the steal when DeMar DeRozan lost the ball on a drive, and Thomas was off to the races. Trying to prevent a lay-up, Carroll decided to foul Thomas far from the basket, but did so with a forearm shove that sent Thomas sprawling on the ground.
Thomas got up and had words, as did Jae Crowder.
Carroll got a flagrant and a technical, Thomas and Crowder each picked up technicals for jumping in.
When Stephen Curry wore a headband through the All-Star Game last weekend, West coach Steve Kerr jokingly called him “Seth” all night.
Dallas’ Seth Curry came out of the week-long break playing like an All-Star. He dropped 31 on the Minnesota Timberwolves Friday night, a career high for him. He hit 13-of-17 from the field, including three from beyond the arc, but did a lot of his damage in the midrange.
It wasn’t enough, the Timberwolves got a comfortable 97-84 win behind 27 points from Andrew Wiggins and 26 from Karl-Anthony Towns. Nerlens Noel was not yet with his new team in time to play for the Mavs in this game.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Kawhi Leonard scored 21 points despite foul trouble and the San Antonio Spurs shook off the rust from a nine-day layoff to beat the Los Angeles Clippers 105-97 on Friday night for their third straight win.
Pau Gasol added 17 points and 11 rebounds off the bench in his return from a 15-game absence because of a fractured finger. LaMarcus Aldridge had 15 points and 11 rebounds, and Dewayne Dedmon grabbed 12 rebounds.
Blake Griffin scored 29 points for the Clippers, who have dropped consecutive games to the league’s two winningest teams since the All-Star break ended. They lost by 10 points at Golden State a night earlier. The Spurs have the league’s second-best record at 44-13.
Chris Paul added 17 points in his return after missing five weeks with a torn ligament in his left thumb.