Getty Images

Hornets’ Kaminsky healthy again after ‘miserable process’


CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Frank Kaminsky never expected to be hospitalized for four days in June of 2016 with tubes running in and out of his chest following surgery to repair an air pocket in his lung.

He never expected to spend two months doing little else than sitting on his couch wheezing because it hurt to breathe. He never expected to lose 20 pounds and have his muscle mass deteriorate. And he never expected it would affect him mentally like it did.

“They said it was going to be this minor procedure and it ended up being this thing where I was in a lot of pain,” Kaminsky said.

Kaminsky is breathing a little easier this year – literally.

He ran through drills feeling healthy and conditioned as the Hornets opened training camp on Tuesday, a far cry from where he was this time a year ago.

“He looks really good now – bigger, stronger and he’s put a lot of work into his skill level,” Hornets coach Steve Clifford said Tuesday.

Kaminsky is just happy to be healthy – physically and mentally.

Along with the physical pain, the Hornets’ former first-round draft pick said the surgery started to affect his mind knowing the regular season was approaching and he was falling behind his teammates and other players around the league in his conditioning. He’d regularly call his mother and plead with her to hang out with him just to pass the time.

“I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t eat,” Kaminsky said. “I didn’t take any of the pain medicine. It was a whole miserable process.”

All the while the season opener in October approached like a ticking clock.

“I was really losing my mind,” Kaminsky said. “I was calling doctors telling them, `I’m ready. I feel fine. I want to go workout.’ They were like, `No, you need to let yourself heal and recover.’ I remember having so many nights where I was worried about getting back into shape that I couldn’t physically fall asleep. All of that caught up to me and I had somewhat of a mental breakdown.”

Kaminsky said he kept telling himself that he would get back to where he was before surgery.

Once cleared to being working out in August, he started an intense regimen designed to get him ready for the season.

He worked hard. Too hard.

He nearly worked himself to the point of exhaustion.

“I tried to put a whole offseason’s worth of work into a month-and-a-half,” Kaminsky said. “It didn’t work out so well.”

The 7-foot, 242-pound Kaminsky did make it back in time for the season opener and had six straight double-digit scoring games, but was feeling worse as the games passed. He spent more time worrying about his chest and his conditioning than rehabbing other parts of his body after games and it affected his play.

It wasn’t until a couple of months into the season that he began to feel normal.

“I remember starting the season not feeling great and waking up in the morning so tired,” Kaminsky said. “I was working so hard to get back to where I was that I was burning myself out day after day.”

Kaminsky still wound up playing in 75 games with 16 starts in his second NBA season with the Hornets. He averaged a respectable 11.7 points and 4.5 rebounds while playing 26 minutes per game, but he shot less than 40 percent from the field. He shot 32.8 percent from 3-point range. But he said he can play much better.

Clifford agrees.

He said Kaminsky looks like an entirely different player this year.

“His body was actually different” last year, Clifford said.

Mentally, Kaminsky is back where he belongs, too – and he feels there are big things ahead of him.

“Having this offseason where I haven’t had a single setback,” Kaminsky said, “I’m excited about what I will be able to do this year.”


LeBron James’ triple-double lifts Cavaliers past Bucks

Leave a comment

CLEVELAND (AP) — LeBron James scored 40 points as part of his third triple-double in four games and the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Milwaukee Bucks 124-117 on Monday night as coach Tyronn Lue began his leave of absence to address health issues.

Lue said Monday in a statement he been dealing with chest pains and loss of sleep, and that tests have offered no conclusion about what the issue is. Associate head coach Larry Drew will run the team in Lue’s absence.

James scored 17 points in the third quarter and finished with 12 rebounds and 10 assists for his 16th triple-double this season and 71st of his career.

The four-time MVP took over in the third beginning with back-to-back 3-pointers. After not getting a foul called on a third attempt, he finished Cleveland’s next possession with a massive dunk. He was fouled attempting another dunk and made both free throws the following time down.

Milwaukee cut a 17-point lead to 117-109, but James drove the length of the floor for a dunk with just over a minute left.

Cavaliers All-Star forward Kevin Love returned after missing six weeks because of a broken left hand and scored 18 points in 25 minutes. He sparked a 10-0 run in the second quarter with two 3-pointers

Giannis Antetokounmpo had 37 points and went 11 for 11 at the foul line for Milwaukee, which is seventh in the Eastern Conference. Khris Middleton had 30 points, making 11 of 16 from the field.

Milwaukee guard Jason Terry was given a Flagrant-1 foul for hitting Ante Zizic in the face with an open hand while the rookie center was putting up a shot in the lane. Zizic made both free throws, helping spark a run that built a double-figure lead.

Lue, 40, led Cleveland to the 2016 NBA championship after taking over for David Blatt midway through that season.

The Cavaliers (41-29) are third in the Eastern Conference and have endured roster shake-ups, injuries and other distractions as they try to reach the NBA Finals for the fourth straight time.

No timetable has been given for when Lue will return. He missed the second half Saturday, the second time this season he left a game because he wasn’t feeling well. Lue also sat out a game against Chicago at home in December.


Pelicans rookie Frank Jackson has another surgery, will miss entire season now

Getty Images
Leave a comment

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The New Orleans Pelicans say rookie guard Frank Jackson won’t make his NBA debut this season after having follow-up surgery to remove residual scar tissue from earlier right foot operations.

The Pelicans say Jackson also received an injection in his foot.

The club says a specialist in New York handled Jackson’s latest procedure.

The Pelicans acquired the 6-foot-4 Jackson through a draft-night trade with the Charlotte Hornets, who selected the former Duke player with the first pick of the second round last summer.

Following the draft, the Pelicans signed Jackson to a three-year contract at the NBA minimum with two years guaranteed, but Jackson needed a second foot surgery last summer to address a setback following his initial surgery last May.

Jackson spent one season at Duke, averaging 10.9 points.


Giannis Antetokounmpo turns bad pass into ridiculous alley-oop (VIDEO)

1 Comment

That is just not fair.

Milwaukee’s Eric Bledsoe threw an alley-oop pass to Giannis Antetokounmpo that was off the mark — high and behind him — but it just doesn’t matter. The Greek Freak gets up and throws it down.

It’s early, but it’s going to be hard to beat that one for dunk of the night.

League’s Last Two Minute Report backs referees (mostly) in Raptors/Thunder game

Associated Press

Anyone who watched the Thunder’s win over the Raptors Sunday afternoon in Toronto — especially the final few minutes — thought it was not referee Marc Davis and crew’s finest hour. There were missed calls and three-straight ejections of Raptors players, which all seemed rather hair-trigger (especially coach Dwane Casey, who was tossed for something a fan behind him said).

The NBA’s Last Two Minute report doesn’t see it that way — it says the referees nailed it.

According to the report, there was only one missed call in the final two minutes: Carmelo Anthony held Pascal Siakam as a pass came to him with 11.7 seconds left, and that should have been called.

What about the play that set DeMar DeRozan off and ultimately got him ejected, the drive to the basket with 33 seconds left (and the Raptors down two) where DeRozan thought Corey Brewer fouled him? The report said that was a good no call:

DeRozan (TOR) starts his drive and Brewer (OKC) moves laterally in his path and there is contact. The contact is incidental as both players attempt to perform normal basketball moves….

RHH shows Brewer (OKC) make contact with the ball and the part of DeRozan’s (TOR) hand that is on the ball. The hand is considered “part of the ball” when it is in contact with the ball and therefore, contact on that part of the hand by a defender while it is in contact with the ball is not illegal.

(I didn’t see it that way, I think the contact was more than incidental, and to me looking at the replay Brewer catches some wrist and impedes the shot in a way that was not legal. Just my two cents.)

The report does not cover the ejections, which are reviewed by league operations but not part of this report.

Three thoughts out of all this:

1) Raptors fans/management/players have every right to feel the calls went against them in this game. As for calls always going against them — as DeRozan complained about after the game — 29 other teams and fan bases are convinced the officials have it out for them, too. I never bought that.

2) The Raptors didn’t lose this game solely because of the officiating. Russell Westbrook was clutch down the stretch, the Thunder were part of it, and the Raptors had other issues, too (Serge Ibaka had a rough game, for example).

3) This loss also does not say a thing about the Raptors in the postseason (even if they went a little too much isolation at the end) — this was their third game in four days, they looked tired and flat at the end. That will not be the case in the playoffs.