Kurt Helin

Kristaps Porzingis, Terrence Jones

Porzingis, Knicks beat 76ers as Okafor sits with suspension

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NEW YORK (AP) — Kristaps Porzingis soared, Jahlil Okafor sat.

At this point, the New York Knicks must be pleased with the way things went in the NBA draft.

Porzingis had 17 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Knicks to a 99-87 victory Wednesday night over the Philadelphia 76ers, who played without the suspended rookie they took one pick ahead of Porzingis.

Porzingis had his ninth double-double of the season, tops among rookies and sixth in the NBA. His 6-of-10 performance included 2-for-2 shooting from 3-point range and a fourth-quarter dunk when he blew by Nerlens Noel on the perimeter.

Sixers coach Brett Brown, an Australian who coached internationally for years, said Porzingis’ combination of skills reminded him of players such as Dirk Nowitzki and Toni Kukoc.

“That’s a hell of a good pick and I think that his upside is going to be kind of whatever he wants it to be,” Brown said.

Knicks coach Derek Fisher sees the same unlimited potential.

“I think it’s a blank canvas and he can be as great as he wants to be,” Fisher said.

The 76ers selected Okafor third, and Porzingis went next to New York. Based on the Latvian’s impressive play on the court and Okafor’s troubles off it, the Knicks must have no regrets.

A night after winning for the first time this season, the 76ers suspended their leading scorer after the release of a second video provided details of his fight in Boston he hadn’t revealed to them.

Philadelphia attempted 30 3-pointers and made just nine, turning more toward a perimeter game without the 17.2 points per game Okafor provides.

“I could definitely tell they were missing somebody and that was him,” Porzingis said.

Brown had spoken to Okafor after the release of the first video on TMZ showed him fighting in Boston on the night of a loss to the Celtics last month. Brown said he was surprised by what he saw in the new one.

“As far as the play-by-play of what happened, he did not go into that,” Brown said. “Today we learned more and the thing I do say is when I spent time with Jahlil in his room today, he is ashamed, he’s embarrassed and this has caught him off guard.”

Hollis Thompson scored 13 points for the 76ers, who ended their record-tying 0-18 start and their 28-game skid dating to last season that was the longest in major U.S. professional sports with a 103-91 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday.

Arron Afflalo added 13 points for the Knicks, who snapped a four-game losing streak. Carmelo Anthony, back after missing a game with an illness, scored 12 points and shot 5 for 16.

The Knicks never trailed and put six players in double figures.

TIP-INS

76ers: Okafor will also miss a game Saturday against Denver and be eligible to return Monday at home against San Antonio. … The 76ers have lost four straight at Madison Square Garden.

Knicks: The club’s NBA D-League team dropped a Wednesday matinee for its first loss this season. Former college player of the year Jimmer Fredette had 22 points and nine assists after a 37-point debut Monday, while Knicks forward Cleanthony Early had 16 points and nine rebounds. Early was recalled later Wednesday and got in for the final 3 minutes against the 76ers, joining Troy Daniels, Jordan Farmar, Coby Karl and Luke Harangody as the only players to accomplish a D-League/NBA doubleheader.

Former Celtic Jim Loscutoff dies at age 85

Jim Loscutoff, Vern Mikkelsen, Larry Foust
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BOSTON (AP) — Jim Loscutoff, a seven time NBA champion who played his entire nine-year career with the Boston Celtics, has died.

The team said in a statement that Loscutoff died Tuesday. He was 85. The team did not disclose a cause.

He is the only Celtics player to have his name, and not uniform number, retired “for his leadership and all-around excellent play.”

Affectionately nicknamed “Loscy” or “Jungle Jim,” Loscutoff was the team’s first-round draft pick out of Oregon in 1955. The 6-foot-5 forward averaged 6.2 points and 5.6 rebounds in his career.

After he retired in 1964, Loscutoff and his wife, Lynn, founded Camp Evergreen, a children’s day camp in Andover.

The team says he is survived by his wife and three children.

 

Report: Lakers have no plans to fire Byron Scott mid-season

Kobe Bryant, Joe Johnson, Byron Scott
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On twitter, it has been called the low-key tank. For the second season in a row the Lakers’ results suggest as an organization they are okay with losing games — they need to stay in the top three to keep their pick next June (otherwise it goes to Philadelphia) — but without ever admitting that is the goal. I know for a fact losing like this — 2-15 including to start the season being the lone victim of Philadelphia — wasn’t the Lakers’ goal when the season started, but it appears to be the wise course of action now.

With that in mind…

The Lakers have no plans to remove coach Byron Scott or to make other changes during the season, reports Sam Amick of the USA Today.

While there’s a never-say-never qualifier to the notion that coach Byron Scott could be replaced midseason, it appears for now that he won’t be held responsible for either the dreadful record or the fruitless way in which Bryant continues to play. The coaching component, it should be noted, could always change if this losing streak (currently seven games) grew too big to bear.

The strong sense, however, is that Scott is seen largely as an innocent bystander in Bryant’s bon voyage campaign. Scott signed a four-year, $17 million deal in July 2014 to reunite with his former teammate, but the contract is only guaranteed through next season.

Scott has always felt like a placeholder coach for the Lakers. With him and Kobe Bryant they could sell ties to the Lakers’ legendary past, they could keep the seats full and the sponsors happy (and ideally the television ratings up), all while hitting the reset button. Then when the time came they could keep Scott or, more likely, bring in a coach that would take the Lakers’ young players (and any free agents they could land) and build a system around their talents.

That transition likely begins next summer. As for the rest of this season, it’s status quo. For now. If the Lakers’ losing streaks get too long there will be pressure to make a move, but there are no plans now.

Scott said after the Lakers’ loss to Philadelphia that he had no plans to make significant changes, that Kobe has earned the right to take a lot of isolation shots, and they just have to live with the misses. Interesting strategy. Even second-year player Jordan Clarkson suggested the Lakers need to run more pick-and-roll and take other steps to free Kobe up. Nick Young of all people said the Lakers needed less isolation and more team play. But Scott is saying the system isn’t broken, it’s just a make or miss league, and the Lakers are missing right now.

It’s what you would say if you were low key tanking.

 

DeMarcus Cousins, Rajon Rondo had recent two-hour meeting with George Karl

George Karl, Rajon Rondo
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It wasn’t a traditional “come to Jesus meeting,” but it was one that was long overdue.

It was a meeting trying to get all the Kings’ core — DeMarcus Cousins, Rajon Rondo, and coach George Karl — on the same page.

In Milwaukee last week the three of them sat down for a two-hour meeting, reports Michael Lee of Yahoo Sports.

“It was a powerful meeting for all three of us,” Rondo told Yahoo Sports….

The main thing Rondo and Cousins told Karl was that his film sessions would be better with more constructive criticism and teaching. Rondo and Cousins said they also told Karl not to hesitate to use them as examples in film sessions….

Karl said Rondo and Cousins also asked that he be more selective about pushing the pace offensively. Karl said he would agree to slow the offense down under one condition.

“I said, ‘OK, I will slow it down if you do what I want.’ That’s not fighting each other. That’s mutually coming together,” Karl told Yahoo Sports. “If we have to compromise something, we will compromise something.”

The Kings have gone 2-2 since that meeting, although getting Cousins back on the court after back issues sidelined him matters far more than what was said in the coach’s office. The Kings are 6-5 this season when Cousins plays, 1-7 when he is out. Coaching matters, being on the same page matters, but none of it matters as much as talent.

Cousins said that Karl has seemed more aggressive since the meeting, and that he and Rondo like that. The lines of communication seem more open. It’s a start.

In a down Western Conference the Kings at 7-12 are not out of the playoff picture, but they have a lot of work to do and can’t have any more serious setbacks. They need Cousins, Rondo, and Karl pulling on the rope in the same direction. They also need Cousins to just stay on the court.

 

 

Brett Brown: We’d be naive to think losing hasn’t impacted Jahlil Okafor

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Jahlil Okafor‘s run-ins with both fans outside clubssome apparently with guns — as well as law enforcement have become a daily headline. Literally. Today there is a new headline about a second fight in Boston. He has apologized, but taking no chances the Sixers have already assigned a security guard to shadow Okafor when he is out.

In the run-up to the draft, there were no questions about Okafor’s character, maturity, or the situations he put himself in, but there are a lot now. Which led some to wonder, is it the losing?

Sixers coach Brett Brown told Dan Patrick we’d be naive to think that it’s not part of the equation.

It certainly is not all of it, and Okafor must take responsibility (especially if there are charges, which are rumored to be coming out of Boston). But the losing, and what kind of system the Sixers have in place to guide their young stars (on and off the court), have to be questioned as well. There are likely a lot of factors here. Including that Okafor is 19 and 19-year-olds often don’t make wise decisions.

Sixers fans, if you are living in the Philadelphia area and subscribe to Comcast Sportsnet, you can stream tonight’s game when the Sixers take on the New York Knicks in Manhattan, just follow this link.