elfrid payton

Elfrid Payton has career highs in points and assists in Magic win over Hawks

Leave a comment

ATLANTA (AP) Serge Ibaka scored 29 points, Elfrid Payton reached career highs with 26 points and 14 assists and the Orlando Magic snapped a three-game losing streak with a 131-120 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday night.

Orlando began the night ranked 29th in scoring and played without center Nikola Vucevic, but it got big production from the bench. Payton, Jodie Meeks and Jeff Green combined for 62 points, while starting guard Evan Fournier scored 23.

Dwight Howard had 20 points and 16 rebounds and Dennis Schroder had 19 points and 13 assists for the Hawks, who thought they were on a good trajectory after rallying from 20 points down in last Friday’s win at Milwaukee.

Atlanta began the night having won two straight since a 1-10 stretch dropped them out of the top eight spots in the Eastern Conference. The Hawks were 9-2 and tied for the East lead before the slump.

Thabo Sefolosha‘s 18-footer gave the Hawks their first lead since the 4:10 mark of the first quarter, but Payton answered with a 3 and Orlando never trailed again.

The Magic set season highs in points, assists with 36 and 3-pointers with 15. They had 21 assists and zero turnovers until committing two miscues in the final 44 seconds of the second quarter.

Orlando took charge with a 20-9 run in the second quarter that ended with Fournier’s short turnaround jumper to make it 72-60.

Payton combined with Fournier and Ibaka to score 46 points on 20-for-27 shooting in the first half.


Vucevic, Orlando’s leading rebounder and third-leading scorer, missed his second straight game with a sore lower back. He hopes to be back in Wednesday’s home game against the Los Angeles Clippers.

“It depends,” he said. “At the moment when the pain happens, it bothers me a lot.”


Magic: With 72 points in the first half, Orlando was six points shy of the team record set Nov. 3, 2010 at home against Minnesota. The Magic tied the team road mark set Dec. 5, 2009 at Golden State. … Playing his second straight game with a strained left shoulder, C Bismack Biyombo had seven points and nine rebounds in 33 minutes. Like Vucevic, Biyombo was injured in last Friday’s loss at Charlotte.

Hawks: Had won 17 of the last 22 games in the series. … Their bench was outscored by Orlando’s 62-35. … Atlanta’s previous season-high in first-half points allowed was 66 in a home loss Nov. 22 to New Orleans. … G Kent Bazemore returned in a reserve role after missing the last two games with a sore right knee. He had five points and three rebounds in 15 minutes.


Magic: Host the Clippers on Wednesday night.

Hawks: Visit Toronto on Friday night.

LaMarcus Aldridge’s 39 points lead Spurs past Wolves, 117-101

Leave a comment

SAN ANTONIO (AP) – LaMarcus Aldridge had 39 points and 10 rebounds, and the San Antonio Spurs overcame a sluggish start to beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 117-101 on Saturday night.

San Antonio won its third straight to move into fifth in the Western Conference five days after dropping to 10th and out of playoff position.

Karl-Anthony Towns had 23 points and nine rebounds for Minnesota, which dropped to sixth in the West.

The Spurs had lost three straight and nine of 11 but are now unbeaten halfway through a six-game homestand.

San Antonio shot 84 percent in the second quarter, their best shooting quarter since 2010.

Two nights after battling New Orleans’ Anthony Davis on both ends, Aldridge had to take on another All-Star in Towns. Aldridge responded by leading the Spurs in scoring for the 49th time this season while helping keep Towns in check.

Aldridge scored 18 of 21 points during a five-minute stretch in the second quarter, including 12 straight. He capped the run by coming from the weak side to swat Towns’ floater deep into the seats.

Minnesota started quickly, shooting 78 percent from the floor in the first 5 1/2 minutes while San Antonio floundered at 17 percent. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich called timeout, only to watch the Timberwolves’ Jeff Teague steal the ball once play resumed.

The Spurs responded behind veteran reserves Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, Pau Gasol and Rudy Gay. San Antonio went on a 16-4 run bridging the first and second quarters to take a 29-26 lead.

Andrew Wiggins scored 21 points for Minnesota and Teague had 16.


Stan Van Gundy goes off on officials: “We got absolutely screwed all night”

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Pistons were likely to lose to the red-hot Trail Blazers on the road, and that came to be Saturday night 100-87, Portland 12th straight win. The Pistons shot 38.8 percent for the game and had a dreadful offensive rating of 93.8 (points per 100 possessions).

Portland is one the top five defensive teams in the NBA this season, but that’s not what Detroit coach Stan Van Gundy thought was the problem — he laid the blame on the officiating.

That’s going to be a fine.

Van Gundy is frustrated — with this game and with this season. So are Pistons fans, and seemingly so is Detroit owner Tom Gores after his lukewarm vote of confidence in Van Gundy recently. They should be, this team is a disappointment and the Blake Griffin trade was a big swing that has yet to work out. The Pistons are going to miss the playoffs. Around the league, the sense is that Van Gundy will lose his GM job to former super agent Arn Tellem, who was brought in to guide the Pistons into their new building but now whose talents would better serve the basketball side of the operation. The only question is will Van Gundy still be coaching in Detroit next season — just coaching, like Doc Rivers with the Clippers — or of the change will be more sweeping than that.

Hornets’ coach gives savage, frank assessment of Willy Hernangomez

Getty Images

When Willy Hernangomez was not getting much run with the Knicks this season, especially as injuries opened up space in the front line rotation, there were questions as to why. Then the #freeWillyHernangomez movement popped up.

Eventually, Hernangomez was traded to the Hornets where… he barely plays. He’s gotten more than 10 minutes just once since coming to Charlotte.

What gives? Hornet’s coach Steve Clifford didn’t hold back when answering that question to Marc Berman of the New York Post.

“If you were in one place and didn’t play much, if you want to play more in the next place, I’d say work harder and kill myself,” Clifford said at the Hornets shootaround at the Players Association’s midtown headquarters. “The reality is he wasn’t playing here for a reason. He’s got to change things…

“He’s not up to speed on what we’re doing to play a lot,” Clifford said. “It’s been a little bit of a struggle for him. He’s smart, but he’s not this high-flier, phenomenal, natural athlete able to make up ground. He’s got to be on top of things, especially on the defensive end. If he’s not detailed defensively, he’s not that [athletic] guy…

“To be an every-night player, and I’ve told him this, he’s got to improve his shooting,” Clifford said. “He is right now, in my opinion, a back-to-the-basket player who can pass. But the reality is his passing doesn’t come into play until they have to get close to him and know he’s not going to knock down a shot. And he’s not a knockdown shooter.”

Well then.

Just to be clear he’s got to put in a lot more effort, become smarter on the defensive end, and improve his shooting. That’s a healthy off-season checklist.

Hernangomez has another year on his contract at a very reasonable $1.5 million before the Hornets have to make any kind of decision on him, which means whoever is the new GM in Charlotte he will choose to keep Hernangomez around. For now. He flashed potential his rookie season with the Knicks, when asked to play strictly to his strengths, but Clifford and the Hornets — and basically every other team in the NBA — is going to ask more of him.

Clifford was clear, as no doubt he has been clear to Hernangomez (Clifford is as straight a shooter as the league has). The ball is in Hernangomez’s court.

Glen “Big Baby” Davis denies drug charges while eating Popeyes on a charter plane

Via Twitter

Best. Denial. Ever.

Last month, former NBA player Glen “Big Baby” Davis was arrested last month at a hotel in a suburb of Baltimore by Jimmy McNulty and Lt. Daniels with 126 grams of marijuana and more than $96,000 in cash, according to a police report. He has been charged with possession and intent to distribute.

Davis has declared his innocence in the best denial video ever — eating Popeyes chicken and flashing cash and a championship ring.

I have no idea whether Davis is guilty or not, I was not at a Hampton’s Inn outside Baltimore last month. The court system will sort that out, that is what it’s there for.

But I know a brilliant video when I see one. This is it.