Kurt Helin

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 16:  Brook Lopez #11 of the Brooklyn Nets celebrates his shot in the first half against the Miami Heat at Barclays Center on December 16, 2015 in the Brooklyn borough of  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.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Nets to shut down Brook Lopez, Thaddeus Young for remainder of season

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The Brooklyn Nets are playing out the string, losers of four straight and seven of their last nine, long removed from playoff consideration.

They have been intermittently resting their two veteran stars, Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young, and now they have decided to shut them down for the final six games of the season despite the pair being healthy. This according to interim coach Tony Brown, via Mike Mazzeo of ESPN.

The Nets say they want to look at some of their other players more closely down the stretch.

If your first thought is “they’re tanking for better lottery odds” you must be a Celtics’ fan, because the Nets’ first-round pick belongs to Boston unprotected, as part of the Kevin Garnett deal a few years back. The Nets have the fourth-worst record in the NBA (and it’s possible Phoenix could pass them now).

The Nets made one smart move this year, hiring Sean Marks as GM and giving him power — and hopefully time and patience — to rework the team in arguably the worst position of any in the NBA. Not only are the Nets already one of the worst teams, but they also don’t control their first-round pick until 2019, and have few trade assets.

Lopez and Young may be their best trade pieces, expect their names to come up in rumors this off-season. But don’t expect Marks to move them just to move them, he’s going to wait for a good deal that can help his rebuilding efforts.

 

Blake Griffin returns to court for Clippers Sunday, says quad still not 100 percent

Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin reacts to a turnover during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Indiana Pacers, Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2015, in Los Angeles. The Pacers won 103-91. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Associated Press
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The Clippers get Blake Griffin back Sunday.

But not an entirely healthy, 100 percent Blake Griffin.

The Clippers’ star forward is a guy they will need in the playoffs if they are going to challenge Golden State in the second round. But while everyone was focused on his broken hand — suffered while punching a Clipper employee — and the four-game suspension that followed, his lower left quadriceps injury remains a real issue. He had sat out already for the thigh injury when the punch happened, but now months later it is the quad that is still a problem and not 100 percent. Here is what Griffin said Saturday, via Dan Woike of the Orange County Register.

“I don’t want to say ‘misdiagnosed’ but (it) wasn’t doing the right things, I guess,” Griffin said. “We weren’t addressing the initial problem, the main problem. Everything I was doing was just putting more stress on my knee. The small tear became a three-month thing because I wasn’t doing the right things until we figured it out.

“… It just wasn’t being allowed to heal. The tear is still there. It’s just about managing the pain and getting through this. It’s not a new tear. I wasn’t re-tearing my knee in different places. I wasn’t allowing the initial injury to completely heal.”

The tear, which is on the lower part of his left quad just above the kneecap, had been causing knee pain.

Doc Rivers said they are going to take it slow with Griffin’s return over the next seven games and manage his minutes. From the Clippers’ official site.

“You just have to watch,” Rivers said. “I don’t care if you’re healthy and 100 percent and you haven’t played, you’ve just got to be careful. You don’t want to throw a guy out there and him get injured because you’re overplaying him. So, we just have to be very careful….

“When you have an injury to your body, especially your lower body, it’s always a pain issue,” Rivers said. “Then what we’re going to have to find out from him is how many minutes creates more pain, or less. We’ll figure that all out.”

The Clippers are locked into the four seed in the West, having gone 30-15 without Griffin, but they struggled against elite teams without him. The four seed means either Portland or Memphis in the first round, then if the Clippers advance very likely Golden State in the second round.

Jimmy Butler records first career triple-double in loss to Pistons

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Playing through a sore back that should probably have him resting, Chicago’s Jimmy Butler recorded his first career triple-double Saturday against Detroit — 28 points, 17 rebounds, 12 assists, plus he threw in three steals and two blocks. Not a bad night’s work. He wasn’t terribly efficient (25 shots, 1-of-7 from three) but no Bull was (outside Aaron Brooks off the bench).

Butler’s best wasn’t enough, and may not be enough to save the Bulls’ playoff chances. With the loss, the Bulls are the nine seed two games back of Indiana and the final playoff berth with just six games to play. Not impossible, but fivethirtyeight.com gives the Bulls just a five percent chance of making the playoffs now.

Myles Turner blocked Nik Stauskas once, but Stauskas got revenge with poster dunk

Philadelphia 76ers' Nik Stauskas, right, goes up for a shot against Charlotte Hornets' Nicolas Batum during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Tuesday, March 29, 2016, in Philadelphia. Charlotte won 100-85. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
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Indiana’s Myles Turner and Philadelphia’s Nik Stauskas had a private little duel at the rim Saturday night.

Round one went to Turner.

But Stauskas got his revenge in a big way.

Damn, Daniel. I didn’t know Stauskas had that in him.

Pero Antic sues NYPD, Thabo Sefolosha reportedly to follow regarding incident from last year

Thabo Sefolosha
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We knew these were coming — Thabo Sefolosha himself said as much. Now the lawsuits are arriving.

Last April, Hawks’ swingman Sefolosha had a late-night run-in with the New York Police Department outside a Chelsea Club on the night Chris Copeland was stabbed outside said club. Sefolosha was arrested for misdemeanor obstructing government administration, disorderly conduct, and resisting arrest — but in the process of the arrest suffered a broken leg that kept him out of the playoffs last season. At that same time and place, former Hawks center Pero Antic had a confrontation with police and arrested, but he was not charged.

Rather than accept a “let’s just make this go away” plea deal Sefolosha fought the charges in court and won.

Now Antic has filed a civil lawsuit against the NYPD and Sefolosha is expected to have his filed in the coming days, reports Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN.

False arrest, unlawful imprisonment, assault, battery, negligence, civil rights violations and malicious prosecution were listed as the claims in Antic’s complaint. Under Antic’s notice of claim, filed last year, $25 million was set as the maximum Antic can recover.

“The NYPD has all but conceded that they falsely and improperly arrested Pero Antic,” Alex Spiro, Antic’s attorney, said. “They will now be held responsible.”

Sefolosha’s suit, which will name the NYPD and other city agencies, will likely include charges of unlawful force, unlawful arrest and malicious prosecution, the source said. Sefolosha’s notice of claim, also filed last year, set $50 million as the ceiling he can be compensated for damages.

Both men had previously filed those claims against the city as the necessary first step in a civil lawsuit. That gives the city a chance to respond and potentially pay up, although at those prices that was never going to happen.

These cases are not slam dunks for the players. First, the New York review board that looked into the case said the officers abused their authority and should not have arrested the players for allegedly interfering with the crime scene, but that same board said the officers did not use excessive force. What’s more, for Sefolosha to get the damages he is asking he has to show permanent damage, and he is back playing in the NBA this season. Antic played this season in Turkey.

One thing the players have in their favor is the video of the incident, which is not the entire picture but doesn’t look good for the police.

This likely will go to trial — in fighting his arrest Sefolosha said he wanted to make a point about the NYPD’s abuse of power. He could have taken a slap on the wrist plea deal with his criminal charges and had the whole thing go away, but he chose to fight. And he won.

Now, he and Antic are not likely to settle — they don’t need the money. They can afford to fight on principle.