Kurt Helin

WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 21: John Wall #2 of the Washington Wizards looks on in the second half of the Wizards 113-99 win over the Sacramento Kings at Verizon Center on December 21, 2015 in Washington, DC. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Wall has 19 assists, Wizards beat Sacramento 113-99

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WASHINGTON (AP) — John Wall had a career-high 19 assists and also scored 12 points, Marcin Gortat had 27 points, and 16 rebounds and the Washington Wizards beat the Sacramento Kings 113-99 on Monday night.

Wall was just 4-for-15 shooting but finished with assists on nearly half of Washington’s 42 baskets. He connected with Gortat several times on a night when injuries limited coach Randy Wittman to using only eight players.

Six of those Wizards finished in double figures, though, thanks often to Wall’s good passing.

Gortat set a new season high for points by halftime with 21 as the Wizards took a 63-59 lead at the break.

Garrett Temple added a career-high 23 points while Ramon Sessions (15 points) and Kris Humphries (15) also pitched in.

DeMarcus Cousins led Sacramento with 22 points while Rudy Gay added 16.

Washington led throughout much of the third quarter until the Kings finished with the period’s final eight points for an 84-84 tie. The Wizards then took command by scoring the first eight points of the fourth quarter – even though Gortat was out.

This is the only time the Kings come to Washington this season. The Wizards head to Sacramento on March 30.

TIP-INS

Kings: Former Wizard Caron Butler entered late in the first quarter and received a big ovation from the crowd. … The Kings have not fared well in back-to-back games this season. They now are 2-12, including an 0-7 mark on the second night of games.

Wizards: The team announced at game time that Gary Neal (sore back) would join the list of injured players out. Washington had six players out due to injuries – including Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Alan Anderson and Nene also could not play. … Even though the Wizards trailed 35-34 after one, that was the most points they’d scored in the opening quarter this season (31 had been the mark before).

 

Joakim Noah leaves game with what Bulls call shoulder sprain

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In the third quarter of what was ultimately an ugly Bulls loss to the Nets Monday, Joakim Noah was playing his usual, physical defense when his arm got tangled with Andrea Bargnani‘s, leading to what looked like a painful injury.

After the game, the Bulls were playing the injury down, but if you watch Noah in the video above you’ll tend to think it’s more serious. Our own Sean Highkin was at the game and tweeted out this:

We’ll see how long he’ll be out, but losing him would be a blow — the Bulls don’t have another defensive minded big. Maybe it means more run for Pau Gasol and more small lineups (play Bobby Portis more, please), but this would hurt an already-struggling Bulls team if it’s serious.

Vucevic scores 26, Magic snap Knicks’ 4-game win streak

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 21:  Nikola Vucevic #9 of the Orlando Magic shoots against Robin Lopez #8 of the New York Knicks on December 21, 2015 at Madison Square Garden in New York City.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2015 NBAE  (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
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NEW YORK (AP) — Nikola Vucevic tied his season high with 26 points and grabbed nine rebounds, leading the Orlando Magic to a 107-99 victory over the New York Knicks on Monday night.

Vucevic had a pair of baskets and Evan Fournier added a 3-pointer and another basket in an 11-2 spurt after the Knicks had cut it to 93-92 with 3:25 left. Victor Oladipo finished that decisive run with a breakaway dunk that made it 104-94 with 1:07 to go.

Tobias Harris scored 20 points and Fournier had 16 for the Magic, who rebounded from Sunday’s loss to Atlanta to win for the fourth time in five games.

Lance Thomas was 9 for 9 and tied his career with 24 points for the Knicks, who had won four in a row and missed a chance to move above .500. Carmelo Anthony scored 23 points.

Starting guard Elfrid Payton didn’t play in the second half because of a sore left ankle, but Fournier handled the ball more and Oladipo and rookie Mario Hezonja finished in double figures off the bench as Orlando shot 51 percent from the field.

The game was close all the way, with the Knicks never leading but never trailing by more than eight until the Magic’s late run. New York was repeatedly within a basket of tying or taking the lead in the fourth, but Vucevic and the Magic kept coming up with timely plays.

TIP-INS

Magic: A night later, coach Scott Skiles was still hard on the Magic’s defensive effort in their 103-100 loss to Atlanta on Sunday. “I said laughable after the game, so I’m going to stick by that,” Skiles said. “It was.” … The Magic pledged $1.5 million Monday toward a new academic building for the University of Central Florida’s downtown Orlando campus.

Knicks: Reserve forward Kyle O'Quinn missed the game against his former team with a sprained right ankle. He was hurt Saturday against Chicago and coach Derek Fisher said he was better but still had some swelling. “Obviously with it being his former team, those are nights that guys circle on the calendar, so that tells you a lot about where he is today,” Fisher said.

 

Adam Silver says he’s no fan of Sixers’ rebuilding plan

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NBA Commissioner Adam Silver works at the pleasure of the NBA owners. He is their employee.

Not that it ever stopped David Stern from telling an owner what to do, but Silver is a little more subtle than that. He plants ideas; he wants the owner to think it was his idea to do what Silver ultimately wanted him to do in the first place. For example, hire Jerry Colangelo to put a new face — and maybe speed up the turn around process — in Philadelphia.

Silver was on FiveThirtyEight’s “Hot Takedown” podcast and talked about how he didn’t like the Sixers’ rebuilding plan under GM Sam Hinkie, but he couldn’t force a change.

Q: Are you personally, as the commissioner, OK with the way that the 76ers have run their franchise the past three seasons?

Silver: “I don’t want to answer that directly, There’s a marketplace of ideas and approaches that go into managing a franchise. For me, if a franchise is managed within the rules of the league, it’s acceptable to me. I don’t think I should be browbeating owners and saying this is how I think you should manage your team. And they got unlucky as well — if Joel Embiid were healthy or on the floor, we may be having a very different discussion. On the other hand, because of the strategy they were following, there was an extremely small margin for error. So it’s a combination of their strategy and of bad luck. But bad luck is something that has to be factored in as well.

“Am I fan of that strategy? Put it this way: No. But does that mean that it’s not acceptable under the league rules? It is, and it’s partly why I had proposed to change the odds of the draft lottery.”

Enough owners voted against that change so it didn’t happen.

Silver goes on to say that there are a lot of ways to get owners to consider changes, like the “resetting” of strategy in Philly. Even though we know bringing in Colangelo (and the subsequent hiring of Mike D’Antoni as an assistant coach) is more about optics than reality. Colangelo isn’t stupid; he’s not getting rid of all the high picks they have coming up.

If the Sixers get lucky in the lottery and land Ben Simmons in the draft, get Embiid healthy, and get Dario Saric to come over from Europe, then in a couple of seasons look like a real up-and-coming threat, that is all thanks to Hinkie and not Colangelo. But we’ll discuss that if and when it happens.

Kobe reiterates he has no intention of playing next season overseas

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At the press conference the night Kobe Bryant made it official and said he would not play another NBA season, he was asked about maybe playing another season in Italy. Kobe answered in Italian (he’s fluent) and said, in so many words, no. Which echoed what he had said even before the formal announcement.

That has not changed. No matter what Stephon Marbury may want, Kobe Bryant says he is not playing a season overseas after this one. Via Baxter Holmes of ESPN.

Kobe appears at peace with his decision to retire, which was the most striking thing about his press conference. Here is a guy who has seen every obstacle — ones real and imagined — as something that must be conquered. To admit that Father Time has won the race, that all the effort he puts in does not reflect on the court anymore has got to be hard for him. But he’s accepted it.

And he’s not going to put his body through that for a season overseas.