Watch Jazz rookie Donovan Mitchell score 41 against Pelicans

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Rookie Donovan Mitchell couldn’t hold back a wide, toothy smile as Utah Jazz fans chanted his name and gave an ovation that lasted for minutes after a win over the New Orleans Pelicans.

Mitchell scored a career-high 41 points and powered the Jazz’s fourth-quarter rally in a 114-108 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday night.

The No. 13 overall draft pick set the Jazz scoring record for a rookie and became the first NBA rookie to score 40 points in a game since Blake Griffin in 2011. He surpassed Darrell Griffith’s team-record 38 in 1981.

Mitchell is the seventh rookie in franchise history to have a 30-plus point game.

“I don’t have any words, to be honest,” Mitchell said. “I had Jonas (Jerebko) in my ear saying keep taking those shots. Even shots that may not always be good shots, he says keep being aggressive. Coach’s saying it. Everybody’s saying it.

“The fans are incredible. Just like Louisville. I’m speechless, but it was great to have that ovation. I’m pretty sure I was smiling for about the last six points I scored. Still smiling now.”

New Orleans star Anthony Davis went down with a left groin injury at the beginning of the fourth quarter, hitting the ground under the Jazz basket and laying there until trainers came to help. Coach Alvin Gentry said Davis will have an MRI in Portland on Saturday and is “very unlikely” to play.

They eventually carried the All-Star off because he couldn’t put any pressure on one of his legs. He was immediately placed in a wheelchair and taken to the training room. Davis had 19 points and 10 rebounds before leaving. DeMarcus Cousins led New Orleans with 23 points and 13 rebounds.

The Pelicans controlled the first three quarters with an outstanding shooting effort despite decent defense from the Jazz. They shot 52.4 percent and made 11 of 21 3-point attempts in the first three quarters.

“One of the things about Donovan, he’s got his head on straight,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. “Some of what he did tonight is a function of the fact that he’s studied it, worked at it and as a result his reads were really good.”

Utah trailed by 12 at halftime, but began to chip away in the third quarter behind 21 combined points from Mitchell and Alec Burks. The Jazz were down 16 in the third, making this their largest comeback of the season.

“Like I said to the guys, if you would’ve said that we had an opportunity to be up four with 12 minutes to play, we would’ve taken that,” Gentry said. “We just didn’t finish the game. I thought they did a great job and, obviously, Donovan played a great game, pressure on us the entire game driving to the basket. When he didn’t drive he was shooting a 3-point shot. I think he has a chance to be a great player.”

The Jazz opened the fourth quarter with a 10-0 run to take a 90-84 lead. The Pelicans answered with a 12-0 run to take a six-point lead before Mitchell absolutely took over. He unleashed a variety of layups and pull-ups, including five straight during a 9-0 run to put the game away after the teams were tied at 103.

Burks scored 24 off the bench, and Mitchell had 29 in the second half. Derrick Favors added 18 points and 11 rebounds.

 

Warriors will watch Kobe Bryant’s numbers get retired, Lakers might not

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The Lakers will retire Kobe Bryant’s No. 8 and No. 24 at halftime of their game against Warriors tonight.

The road team won’t miss it. The home team might.

Golden State coach Steve Kerr, via Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area:

“I want our guys to see it,” Kerr said Saturday. “It’ll be a pretty cool moment.

“Just to experience of one of the greatest players in the history of the game getting his jersey retired and we happen to be there? I’m not going to keep them in the locker room watching tape from the first half. The players would look at me like I was nuts.”

Lakers coach Luke Walton, via Harrison Faigen of Lakers Nation:

“I hadn’t thought much about [watching the ceremony],” Walton said Sunday. “We’re still deciding how we’ll approach halftime.

“Our first priority is still the job that we have. I’m sure there’s going to be some halftime adjustments we need to make against the Warriors. We’re toying with a couple different ideas to let guys at least see part of it.”

Kerr seems like a pretty cool guy, someone who understands what truly matters. This will be a historic moment, and that can take priority over watching video for one night in a long season.

But he also has the luxury of coaching an all-time great team. Even with Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Zaza Pachulia and Shaun Livingston injured, the Warriors are favored.

Walton has a young team that needs every break it can get. But he too should embrace the significance of the ceremony. His franchise is.

After reportedly initially being scheduled for pregame, the ceremony will occur at halftime. The NBA implemented a hard 15-minute limit on halftimes this season. Any team not ready will be assessed a delay-of-game penalty. So, lengthy speeches tonight could hinder the current team on the court. And that’s well worth the cost of doing business.

In the same regard, current Lakers watching Kobe’s ceremony would gain pride in being a Laker. There’s real value in that, probably more than in going over adjustments for a December game during a season very likely to end outside the playoffs regardless.

George Hill nails half-court buzzer-beater with less than a second to shoot (video)

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I bet this made George Hill happier.

The Kings still losing to the Raptors, 108-93, probably didn’t, though.

Phil Jackson to miss Kobe Bryant’s jersey retirement Monday

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For one last night, Staples Center will belong to Kobe Bryant on Monday.

Sure, the Warriors are in town to take on the Lakers, but Monday night the Lakers are retiring Kobe Bryant’s numbers — both 8 and 24 — in a halftime ceremony. It’s been the hottest ticket in Los Angeles, with celebrities, luminaries, and regular Lakers fans shelling out a lot of cash to see the Laker legend be honored.

Except, Phil Jackson will not be there, reports Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.

Jackson has been in touch with Bryant in advance of the ceremony to congratulate him, sources said. But he was unable to travel from his Montana home for the ceremony in Los Angeles.

No reason was given (nor does one need to be made public, that’s between Kobe and Jackson).

Jackson coached Kobe to all five of his NBA titles, and while their relationship had its ups and downs — remember Jackson called out Kobe as almost uncoachable in one of his books — they remain close.

 

Three Things to Know: LeBron James racks up third straight triple-double

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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. Here’s what you missed on Sunday while practicing your ax throwing in Paris

1) LeBron James has third straight triple-double… and sends equality message. Back in the 2008-09 season, LeBron James strung together three consecutive games of triple-doubles, the season he went on to win his first MVP award. Despite 61 career triple-doubles, he hasn’t had a string like that since.

Until now. LeBron put together three again this week, the most recent coming at the expense of the Washington Wizards on Sunday, a team that had no answer for his playmaking skills. James finished the game with 20 points, 12 rebounds and 15 assists. It wasn’t the most efficient LeBron scoring performance of his career (8-of-23 shooting overall, 2-of-7 from three, his legs looked a little tired on the back-to-back) and he was playing too much in isolation (nearly twice as many possessions as in pick-and-roll). However, down the stretch he was a fantastic playmaker, finding teammates — such as finding the cutting Jeff Green and Kyle Korver — and doing what it took to lift his team to the 106-99 win (Cleveland’s has won five straight and 18-of-19).

LeBron was also sending a message while playing in our nation’s capital: He wore one black and one white of the LeBron 15s, with the word “Equality” on the back of both of them. Good on LeBron, I love that he has found a voice and is comfortable using it.

2) Cavaliers sticking to plan even if he seems ready: Isaiah Thomas should join Cavaliers after the first of the year. Patience. It’s a virtue. Cleveland’s end game is to have another elite playmaker and scorer on the floor in late May and (hopefully) June, not for Christmas Day (no matter who is on the schedule).

Meaning that despite the face Isaiah Thomas is working out and says he and his injured hip feel ready to return, it will be 2018 before he officially pulls on a Cavaliers jersey and takes the court.

This is the smart play by the Cavaliers, who have racked up enough wins not to need to push him. That said, LeBron is carrying a heavy load — he’s played more minutes than anyone in the league so far, and this is his 15th NBA season — and the Cavaliers need to get him some help and rest so he is fresh for the postseason.

3) Detroit ties a franchise record with 17 made threes in win over Orlando. The Pistons are not exactly a great three-point shooting team: They average a middle-of-the-pack 29.3 attempts per game (31.6 percent of their attempts), but at least hit them at a healthy 38.3 percent clip. Detroit does a good job at least of getting corner threes up and knocking them down.

Sunday they were knocking everything down, hitting 17-of-34 threes to tie a franchise record for the most made threes in a game. Anthony Tolliver led the way (5-of-7 from deep) with Reggie Bullock pitching in 4-of-5.

The Pistons have snapped out of their seven-game losing streak to win three in a row now, including a quality win over the Pacers on the second night of a back-to-back.