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Charles Oakley set for day in court in wake of MSG arrest

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Charles Oakley has been a beloved forward and a banned fan at Madison Square Garden.

But before Oakley, the former NBA enforcer and rebounding machine with the New York Knicks, can reconcile with his former team and return to the arena, he’s trying to beat the rap stemming from the altercation that led to his ejection and arrest in February at the Garden.

Oakley told The Associated Press he had no regrets over his behavior that night that led him getting handcuffed near an arena exit as he waited for police to arrive.

“I would have done everything just the same way,” Oakley said by phone. “I didn’t do nothing. I was only in the arena five minutes. I didn’t know you could get in that much trouble in five minutes. I’d take my chances and do the same thing again.”

Oakley was charged with three counts of misdemeanor assault and one count of criminal trespass. He is accused of striking one security guard in the face with a closed fist, and when two other people tried to intervene, both were pushed and received cuts.

He is due in court Tuesday.

Oakley was set to travel to Chicago and attend Sunday’s service for former Bulls executive Jerry Krause and return to New York on Monday.

The 53-year-old Oakley played for the Knicks from 1988-98, helping them reach the NBA Finals, but has a splintered relationship with the team because of his criticism of owner James Dolan.

Dolan lifted Oakley’s ban from MSG shortly after meeting with Oakley and NBA commissioner Adam Silver. Oakley, known as candid, unfiltered and Michael Jordan’s de facto bodyguard, said nothing was really settled in the meeting.

So the looming question remains: What will it take to get Oakley back at MSG for a Knicks game?

“That’s the million dollar question. I don’t know,” Oakley said. “Right now, we’re trying to get closure. Why was there a ban? Why do I have three assault cases? I want to get all that settled. That’s the most important thing right now. It’s not about the ban or going to the Garden. It’s about going to the next step.”

Oakley said he was still unsure why the fracas went down at MSG. Oakley maintains he did nothing wrong before arena security approached him just a few rows behind Dolan. Oakley was no longer comped tickets or invited to official team functions, though he attended a few times a year when he bought his own tickets. He was there only a matter of minutes before the altercation that included him hitting one security guard in the face and shoving at least one other before he was dragged away and handcuffed.

“I hope we can come to an understanding, and get to the point of, `why?”‘ Oakley said.

Dolan later suggested on ESPN New York that the former player “has a problem with anger. He’s both physically and verbally abusive. He may have a problem with alcohol. We don’t know.”

Oakley denied having anger or substance abuse issues.

“I’ve shown none of that stuff he’s talked about,” he said. “There’s nothing that can tell him I have any of the things that he’s talking about in my life. He’s said this three or four times to different people. It’s his way of trying to throw people under the bus .”

NBA stars and fans publicly supported the former tough guy enforcer, who instigated a few feuds and flagrant fouls in his prime. Knicks fans chanted “Free Charles Oakley!” Cavaliers star LeBron James quipped, “Charles Oakley for president.”

“Nobody had to go to bat for me. You think of all the people who went to bat for me, they know I’m a true gentleman guy at all times,” he said.

Oakley would rather stir the pot in the kitchen; his cooking has earned him a spot on Food Network’s “Chopped Tournament of Stars” and he said there are plans to soon release his own cookbook .

His specialty includes a sea bass with pineapple, asparagus, mashed potatoes and Brussels sprouts.

“I just want to get in the kitchen and do your favorite meal,” he said.

Oakley also wants to launch a clothing line next year, though he’s concerned his brush with notoriety could shut some doors in corporate America.

“It’s definitely going to punish me with some of the things I’ll probably try and do in the future,” Oakley said. “Some people don’t believe in luggage. They don’t like when there are things about you that are out there.”

Oakley has refused to keep a low profile since the MSG dustup. He mixed it up with another former bad boy, Dennis Rodman , over issues of rest; expressed his disappointment that former teammate Patrick Ewing failed to come to his defense (On Georgetown’s new coach: “Good luck to him. We’ll see how the ball bounces”) and signed on for a role as player/coach in the debut of the BIG 3 3-on-3 league backed by rapper Ice Cube.

He believed the same hard-nosed approached that served him well over a 19-year playing career, which included two stints with the Chicago Bulls, will serve him well in court.

“I’m not nervous. I believe in myself,” he said. “They said this, they said that. But 20,000 people were at the game. Millions of people saw what happened. There’s no reason for me to be nervous. If I’m wrong, I’ll take my punishment.”

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Joel Embiid blocks and stares down Donovan Mitchell, who then pushes flopping 76ers center (video)

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Joel Embiid (when healthy) is running wild over the NBA.

Last night was no different, with Embiid (15 points, 11 rebounds, three assists, two blocks +16) excelling in the 76ers’ 107-86 win over the Jazz. And he let Utah rookie Donovan Mitchell know about it.

After blocking Mitchell in the fourth quarter, Embiid stared down a fallen Mitchell. Mitchell got up and pushed Embiid – listed at nine inches and 35 pounds heavier – to the floor.

Embiid, via NBC Sports Philadelphia:

I flopped, and he got a technical for it. So, that was basically how it happened. But it’s all fun. After the game, we shook hands. It’s just about having fun.

Embiid is having fun. That’s for sure.

LeBron James, Tyronn Lue say LeBron’s minutes no big deal

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LeBron James was on the court a very reasonable 27:16 Monday night, only because the Cavaliers had thrashed the upstart Pistons so badly he didn’t need to play the fourth quarter (116-88 final in that one).

However, on the season LeBron is averaging 37.9 minutes per game, the most in the NBA. He has played 644 total minutes, also tops in the NBA. All this in his 15th year in the league, about to turn 33, with more regular season games played in his career than Michael Jordan. Even Draymond Green has wondered about LeBron’s workload. LeBron himself didn’t disagree, saying the goal is to get the minutes down.

However, as this has become a thing, the Cavaliers are playing it down. Here is Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue after the Detroit win, via Dave McMenamin of ESPN.

“I hear about that all the time,” a somewhat perturbed Lue said. “I played with Michael Jordan when he was 39, he played 37 minutes a night. Karl Malone was 37, played 38 minutes a night, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Kobe [Bryant]. Everybody’s built different. If you’re one of the greats, sometimes you’ve got to play, sometimes you get rest like tonight.”

The way Kobe’s body broke down on him at the end of his career, is he the guy you want as an example here?

LeBron was not that worried about his minutes after the Detroit win, either.

“You make so much a big thing about my minutes,” James said. “It’s not a huge issue. But at the end of the day, when we can get a win like this, everybody benefits from it. Not just me. Everybody.”

The concern isn’t just the heavy minutes, but the workload — with Isaiah Thomas still out, and right now Derrick Rose and Iman Shumpert as well, basically all the playmaking duties on the team fall on LeBron. He has to carry the Cavs.

With most players, you would say this will distinctly wear on them and could be an issue down the line. With LeBron, normal human rules do not apply. He’s playing at MVP consideration level again early — 28.3 points, 8.5 assists, and 7.4 rebounds a game while shooting 58.2 percent from the floor — and nothing seems to slow him. Maybe eventually the Cavaliers will play well enough consistently there will be more light nights for LeBron, and he can have some games off. For now, however, they need him on the court and performing like a superstar.

Three Things to Know: The streaks continue, the Celtics keep winning, Clippers keep losing

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Every day in the NBA there is a lot to unpack, so every weekday morning throughout the season we will give you the three things you need to know from the last 24 hours in the NBA.

1) Celtics need overtime, Kyrie Irving to be dominant with 47 points, but win streak reaches 16. It was the team with the best record in the league against the team with the worst record — that meant Boston was either going to blow Dallas out, or Boston was going to look past Dallas and get itself in trouble. This game was the latter. For the third game in a row, Boston had to come from double-digits down to win and keep its streak alive — Brad Stevens called that “resilient” after the game. Either that or living very dangerously.

The Celtics raced out to a 15-point first quarter lead thanks to a hot start from Kyrie Irving, who had 25 points in the first half.

Then Boston took its foot off the gas. Harrison Barnes had 19 points over the second and third quarters, and Dallas chipped away at the lead, eventually retaking it. After a 10-2 run early in the fourth, Dallas led by 13.

The Celtics responded with a 22-9 run and eventually forced overtime. Marcus Smart was making defensive plays and some impressive passes, while Irving and Jayson Tatum (15 points on the night) were getting buckets. With the game close late, then into overtime, Irving took charge — he had 10 points in OT to get to 47 on the night. He has been clutch all season.

The Celtics win streak has been living on borrowed time in recent games (Barnes had a good look at an 18-foot fadeaway to win it in regulation for Dallas, but missed). Boston’s defense — which was fantastic down the stretch against Dallas after some sloppy stretches — and Irving have kept it afloat. But even when the streak — now the fourth longest in Celtics’ history — does end, it will be remembered as the time this Boston team stepped up as a contender. This team has announced its presence ready for the NBA’s biggest stages.

2) On the other side, Clippers losing streak reaches nine after 22-point loss to Knicks. First, let’s give the Knicks their due — this team is playing quality basketball. Better than I (and many) expected out of them season. Kristaps Porzingis has taken a step forward as the face of the franchise, doing whatever it takes to get them wins. Also Enes Kanter has given them buckets and boards they need, Jarrett Jack has been a steadying force at the point, and each night someone else steps up, such as Doug McDermott with 16 on Monday night.

However, beating the Clippers right now is no feat — Los Angeles has lost nine in a row and the wheels have come off.

The Clipper offense isn’t bad when the ball moves and players move off it, but they don’t do that consistently, falling back into habits of isolation and “you take a turn, then I take a turn” that they don’t have the talent to pull off. However, that’s not the real problem — their defense is a disaster. The effort is not there, and through the last nine games Los Angeles has the worst defense in the NBA, allowing 110 points per 100 possessions. Injuries play a part in this, no Danilo Gallinari or Milos Teodosic in this game forces Wesley Johnson and Austin Rivers into starting roles, and that thins the bench. But the best teams overcome injuries and still have effort and a system that works, the Clippers do not.

Doc Rivers’ seat has to be getting warm. How long he would be around after he was stripped of his GM powers over the summer was a fair question, but Rivers is making more than $10 million a year and his contract runs through the summer of 2019 — that’s a lot of money for even Steve Ballmer to eat. However, there will come a time he may be willing to do that, and if the Clippers keep playing like this the question is not “if” but “when.”

3) Boogie Cousins ejected. Russell Westbrook with triple-double. Pelicans still win. If I told you that first DeMarcus Cousins would get ejected for elbowing Russell Westbrook in the head (not the most flagrant 2 I’ve seen, but the league has cracked down on blows to the head).

Then I told you Westbrook stayed in the game and got a triple-double (22 points, 16 rebounds, 12 assists), you would think that the Thunder picked up a road win in New Orleans.

You’d be wrong. The late-game woes that have plagued the Thunder all season — an offense that becomes isolation heavy, and a defense that is 10.6 points per 100 possessions worse in the fourth quarter than the rest of the game — came back to bite them. Again. The Thunder raced out to a 25-6 lead but had given all that back by the middle of the second quarter. Then down the stretch, OKC again could not execute.

Meanwhile, Anthony Davis put up 36 points and 15 boards, 14 of his points came in the fourth as OKC had no answers for him, and without Cousins, Davis carried the Pelicans to the 114-107 win.

Irving’s 47 lead Celtics past Mavericks to maintain streak

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DALLAS (AP) — Kyrie Irving scored 10 of his season-high 47 points in overtime as the Boston Celtics rallied once again from a double-digit deficit to beat the Dallas Mavericks 110-102 on Monday night and extend their winning streak to 16 games.

The Mavericks led by as many as 13 points in the fourth quarter, but as they have several times during their winning streak, the Celtics stormed back.

The winning streak ties the fourth-longest in Celtics history.

Boston tied the game at 96 when Irving stole the ball from Dirk Nowitzki and fed Jayson Tatum for an alley-oop lay-up that hung on the rim for a full second before dropping through.

Irving scored his team’s first six points of overtime. Then after Jaylen Brown gave Boston a 104-102 lead with a jumper with 1:39 to play, Irving went to work on Yogi Ferrell, backing him down and drawing contact on a lay-up with 48.5 seconds to play. Though Irving missed the free throw to keep the score 106-102, Dallas never got closer.

Harrison Barnes scored 31 points and Wesley Matthews had 18 for Dallas, which came back from an early double-digit deficit as the Celtics went cold for much of the second and third quarters.

Irving and Barnes had chances in the final 30 seconds but both missed shots that would have given their teams the lead.

The Mavericks fell behind by as many as 15 points in the first half, outscoring the Celtics 55-35 over the second and third quarters.

Dallas took its biggest lead of the game when Yogi Ferrell fed a cutting Dwight Powell for a lay-up to make it 87-74 with 7:47 to play before the Celtics rallied.

Boston shot just 10-for-34 over the two middle quarters after building the early lead.