Boston Celtics v Brooklyn Nets

Leandro Barbosa and Danny Ainge deny report of Barbosa’s trade request

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Leandro Barbosa has played well offensively for the Celtics this season when he’s gotten the chance.

The problem has been that after the first month of the season, the opportunity has all but vanished — and when that happens, reports and rumors can often begin to swirl.

That was the case with Barbosa this week, who supposedly told a foreign media outlet that he was trying to get out of his situation in Boston. Once asked about it by those who cover the team locally, however, the report was immediately shot down.

Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge denied it, as well.

From Greg Payne of ESPNBoston:

“I won’t lie to you. I’ve tried to get out several times, but Danny Ainge doesn’t want to let me leave,” Barbosa told ESPN Brazil. “He is a guy that I’ve admired in basketball for many years. I was supposed to have gotten a good contract from the Boston Celtics, but it did not happen. He’s not going to let me leave this way.”

Barbosa was all smiles while taking shots on the the team’s practice court before Thursday’s afternoon session. When the Boston Herald showed Barbosa the ESPN Brazil story, he told the paper, “No, I want to play. I want to be here. That’s it.”

Ainge said Thursday he was unfamiliar with the ESPN Brazil report and while he has had discussions with Barbosa about his role with the team, there have been no trade demands.

Barbosa averaged over 14 minutes per game in November, and averaged 6.1 points on 43.6 percent shooting. In the two monts since, his time on the court has dropped to less than half that, and he didn’t appear at all in 10 of his team’s games over that stretch.

For now, it seems like Ainge and Babosa are on the same page. If his minutes don’t pick up over the next month, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Barbosa included in a deal near the trade deadline, even if to this point no formal request to be sent out of town has been made.

DeMarcus Cousins out for Kings vs. Warriors Saturday

DeMarcus Cousins, Nicolas Batum, Marvin Williams
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As if Golden State was not already a prohibitive favorite Saturday night.

DeMarcus Cousins, who has missed the last two games for Sacramento with a strained back and that will continue Saturday. Our old friend Bill Herenda tweeted it first.

Not only are the Kings 1-6 without Cousins, but they were also on their way to beating Charlotte Monday until Cousins had to leave the game.

Golden State will likely be without Harrison Barnes in this game after spraining his ankle in the last game. Expect Andre Iguodala to get the start, or if interim coach Luke Walton doesn’t want to mess with the bench rotation he could go with Brandon Rush.

Good news: Anthony Davis listed as probably vs. Utah Saturday

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Watching Anthony Davis fall to the court clutching his knee, not being able to put any pressure on his leg as he was helped to the locker room, it was frightening Friday night in Los Angeles.

It turns out it’s not that bad. After the game the injury was described as a “knee contusion” and not the serious damage that was feared. Saturday the Pelicans said Davis was good to go.

Whew. Nobody wants to see Davis miss time.

The Pelicans had won three in a row until they ran into the Clippers Friday night. Davis has played better of late — the New Orleans defense is 7.2 points per 100 better when he is on the court — and New Orleans has gotten better point guard play out of Ish Smith.

Stephen Curry abuses Sun’s Price with behind-the-back, pull-up three (VIDEO)

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That is just cruel.

An on-fire Warriors team dropped 44 on the Suns in the first quarter Saturday, and Curry had 19 of those points going 5-of-6 from three. The Suns’ had no defender who could begin to hang with him. Certainly not Ronnie Price, who came in off the bench and got abused for his efforts.

Curry finished with 41 points, never had to set foot on the court in the fourth quarter, and the Warriors improved to 17-0 on the season. Just another day at the office for them.

Philadelphia has dropped record 27 in a row dating back to last season

Brett Brown

We tend to think of record streaks having to be in one season, not broken up across two.

But if you can suspend that, the Philadelphia 76ers are now the owners of the longest losing streak in NBA — and major professional sports — history.

With their tough two-points loss to Houston Friday night, the Sixers have lost 27 in a row. The Sixers dropped their final 10 last season and with the loss to the Rockets are 0-17 to start this one.

That bests the 26-game losing streaks of the 2010-11 Cleveland Cavaliers and these same Sixers from 2013-14. Looking across sports, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers of 1976-1977 also lost 26 in a row, which when you consider the length of the NFL season is pretty embarrassing.

The Sixers struggles are born from a plan by GM Sam Hinkie (and approved by ownership) to get better long-term by being bad now and hoarding draft picks. It’s a strategy that can work if Hinkie nails the draft picks (the book is out on how Hinkie is doing on that front). And they are committed to it through at least this draft.

But don’t think for a second the players and coach are trying to lose.

If you have watched the Sixers play their last few games you know the players are trying hard to get that victory (and almost have a couple of times). The effort is there, they are just outmatched and lack the kind of presence at the end of games to execute under pressure (something a couple of quality, regularly-playing veterans might help, but that’s another discussion). They have the point differential of a team that should have a couple wins; they just haven’t been fortunate. It happens. Go ahead and blame management if you think this plan is an abomination. Just don’t question the desire or effort of the players or coaches, that is not in doubt.

The Sixers play at the Grizzlies Sunday, then have maybe their best shot at a win for a while when they host the Lakers on Tuesday.