Kurt Helin

San Antonio Spurs forward LaMarcus Aldridge celebrates a basket during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Phoenix Suns, Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2015, in San Antonio. (AP Photo/Darren Abate)
Associated Press

Spurs win 8th straight in Nets’ first game since shake-up

Leave a comment

NEW YORK (AP) — LaMarcus Aldridge had 25 points and 11 rebounds as the San Antonio Spurs extended their winning streak to eight with a 106-79 victory Monday night over Brooklyn in the Nets’ first game since an organizational shake-up.

A day after coach Lionel Hollins was fired and general manager Billy King reassigned, the Nets dropped their 10th straight at home and fifth in a row overall.

Kawhi Leonard added 17 points for the Spurs, who go to Detroit on Tuesday before putting their 31-game home winning streak on the line Thursday in a showdown with Cleveland.

The Spurs (33-6) were up seven at halftime before dominating the second half, just as they did in their 102-75 victory over the Nets on Oct. 30. Those are two of their 14 wins by 20 or more points this season.

Brook Lopez scored 18 points and Joe Johnson had 16 in the Nets’ first game under interim coach Tony Brown. Brown moved guards Wayne Ellington and Donald Sloan into the starting lineup, but they combined for just 10 points on 4-of-12 shooting.

The Nets fell to 10-28, hours after owner Mikhail Prokhorov said the team needed a “reset” and that deciding to start it in the middle of the season was an easy decision. But no change could change things against the Spurs, the latest visiting team to win the crowd and the game in Brooklyn.

Fans cheered loudest for 7-foot-3 Serbian Boban Marjanovic, who finished 13 points and was on the floor in the final seconds when a “Go Spurs Go!” chant broke out.


Spurs: Aldridge made his first five shots and finished 12 for 17 from the field. … The Spurs outscored the Nets 60-28 in the second half of the first meeting and 61-41 in this one.

Nets: Sloan made his first start since Jan. 4, 2015, for Indiana against the Lakers. … Brown had won all three games when he previously stepped in to coach, filling in for Doc Rivers once in Boston, Larry Krystkowiak in Milwaukee and Mike Dunleavy with the Clippers.


Banged-up Wizards cruise past Bulls for 114-100 win

Leave a comment

CHICAGO (AP) — John Wall had 17 points and 10 assists to help the banged-up Washington Wizards pull away from the Chicago Bulls for a 114-100 victory on Monday night.

Washington had seven players score in double figures in its second straight win after a stretch of five losses in six games. Ramon Sessions had 16 points, and Garrett Temple, Otto Porter Jr. and Nene scored 14 apiece.

The Wizards led by as many as 18 points while playing without key performers Marcin Gortat, Kris Humphries and Bradley Beal. Gortat was scratched with a sore left knee, Humphries missed his fourth straight game with a sore right knee and Beal remains out due to a stress reaction in his lower right leg.

Derrick Rose scored 23 points in the first of four games in five nights for the Bulls. Jimmy Butler had 19 points and seven assists, and Pau Gasol added 15 points and 10 rebounds.

Bulls center Joakim Noah had no points and nine rebounds in a little under 19 minutes in his return from a left shoulder sprain. It was Noah’s first game since he got hurt in the third quarter of a 105-102 loss to Brooklyn on Dec. 21.

Noah was blocked from behind by Wall with 2:19 left in the third quarter, and then grabbed his shoulder after he hit the ground. But he stayed in the game.

Doug McDermott‘s four-point play got Chicago within four with 9:34 left, but Washington responded with a 13-2 run to put it away. Sessions capped the surge with a layup that made it 102-87 with 5:56 to go.

Gary Neal added 11 points for Washington, and Drew Gooden finished with 10 points and 12 rebounds.

Jared Dudley made a 3-pointer and passed to a cutting Nene for a dunk early in the third, helping the Wizards open a 67-50 lead. But the Bulls ripped off 13 of the next 15 points.

Rose converted a three-point play and Butler had a steal and a dunk before Dudley got Washington back on track with a 3-pointer for a 72-63 lead with 6:48 left in the quarter.



Wizards: Washington also had a solid shooting performance in its previous game, matching a season high by connecting on 55.3 percent of its attempts in a 105-99 victory at Orlando on Saturday.

Bulls: Rose scored 13 in the first half to pass Ben Gordon (7,372 points) for 10th on the franchise’s career scoring list. Reggie Theus is ninth with 8,279 points.

Tim Duncan to Kawhi Leonard alley-oop? We got that.

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 28: Kawhi Leonard #2 and Tim Duncan #21 of the San Antonio Spurs celebrates during a game against the Los Angeles Clippers in Game Five of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2015 NBA Playoffs on April 28, 2015 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. 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 Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

When the best run organization in the NBA — the San Antonio Spurs — takes on the new title holders of worst organization in the NBA — your Brooklyn Nets — the outcome seems predestined.

That doesn’t mean we can’t get some highlights as the Spurs smack the Nets around. How about a Tim Duncan to Kawhi Leonard alley-oop?


Bulls big man Noah returns from left shoulder injury

Leave a comment

CHICAGO (AP) — Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg says center Joakim Noah will play Monday night against the Washington Wizards.

Noah had been sidelined by a left shoulder sprain. He missed nine games after he got hurt in the third quarter of a 105-102 loss to Brooklyn on Dec. 21.

Noah, the 2014 NBA Defensive Player of the Year, is averaging 4.5 points and 8.8 rebounds in 25 games this season.

Guy going to get paid this summer: Knicks’ Lance Thomas

New York Knicks forward Lance Thomas (42) puts up a reverse layup against Orlando Magic guard Victor Oladipo (5) and forward Jason Smith (14) during the third quarter of an NBA basketball game, Monday, Dec. 21, 2015, in New York. The Magic won 107-99. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
Associated Press

In his first four stops in the NBA over the course of three seasons, former Duke star Lance Thomas had taken two three pointers.

This season with the Knicks, Thomas has taken 77 (two a game) and hit 41 percent of them. Thomas is playing well for the Knicks off the bench, the team has been 3.2 points per 100 possessions better when he is on the court compared to sitting (most of that bump is on the defensive end). He’s been the Knicks’ fans secret off the bench.

Except a lot of team executives around the league are taking notice, which means it may be difficult for the Knicks to keep the free agent this summer. Marc Berman explains at the New York Post.

Boston coach Brad Stevens, Detroit’s Stan Van Gundy and Chicago’s Fred Hoiberg also recently gave Thomas his kudos, each calling him one of the league’s “most improved players.’’ Knicks coach Derek Fisher fell in love with Thomas since Day 1, but is almost never asked about his play…

For now, NBA coaches are talking up Thomas more than the media and fans. Thomas signed this offseason for a little more than the minimum — a one-year, $1.5 million deal. But come July 1, when Thomas becomes a free agent again, the fans may become disappointed when Knicks president Phil Jackson is unable to re-sign him because of his growing price tag.

The Brooklyn-born Duke product is shooting an excellent 47.7 percent — 41.6 from 3-point range — and averaging 8.7 points per game. Until this season, Thomas never had a 3-point shot, attempting 22 in his first four seasons. He’s already taken 77 this season and it’s mid-January. It would seem that vague Most Improved Player Award is meant for the kind of season Thomas is weaving.

PBT’s own Dan Feldman brought up Thomas as a potential Most Improved Player candidate in the latest PBT Podcast (although Portland’s C.J. McCollum is the clear frontrunner for the award). You can be sure teams are taking note.

In a summer when every team will be awash with money to chase free agents, Thomas is the kind of guy who is going to get paid. Not max money, not in the first tier of free agents to sign, but he likely makes more next season than he has made in his career up to this point (more like three or four times the $2.3 million he’s made so far).

He’s one of a handful of guys who have earned a healthy pay bump next season and have done it at just the right time.