Kurt Helin

Blazers’ Damian Lillard admits he’s battling plantar fasciitis

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Damian Lillard has never missed an NBA game, he’s suited up and played in 275 straight for Portland. That included Sunday when he had 32 points and nine assists in a 116-109 Blazers loss to the Heat.

But Lillard was limping in the Portland locker room after the game and admitted he is battling a case of plantar fasciitis, reports Jason Quick. Just don’t expect Lillard to willingly take some time off.

However, when Lillard was asked about whether he was worried about his left heel, he was emphatic in his answer.

“No. You see I finished the game,’’ Lillard said. “So, I’m not really worried about it….

“Before today it was a little bit sore … and in the game I think I aggravated it a little bit … it got a little tight, a little sore.’’

Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot, a condition that makes it painful to run. Which sucks if your job is to run up and down a hardwood floor and play basketball.

The only real cure for it is rest. It can be treated, but rest is the only true answer.

The Blazers have a little rest coming up. They play in Atlanta Monday but then are off until Friday, when they face a back-to-back on the road (Oklahoma City and Dallas). But that may not be enough for Lillard if this gets more severe.

That would be trouble for the Blazers — they’re offense is 12.5 points per 100 possessions worse when he is off the floor. He is by far their best shot creator, and without him on the floor it all falls to C.J. McCollum, and then… it is not pretty.

Kyrie Irving returns with Cavaliers, 1st game since Finals

CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 20: Kyrie Irving #2 of the Cleveland Cavaliers warms up prior to the game against the Philadelphia 76ers during the first half at Quicken Loans Arena on December 20, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***Kyrie Irving
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CLEVELAND (AP) — Kyrie Irving is back on the floor with the Cavaliers.

The All-Star point guard broke his left kneecap in Game 1 of the NBA Finals in June. He made his season debut Sunday when the Cavs hosted the Philadelphia 76ers.

After months of rehab, Irving was in the starting lineup for Cleveland, which went 17-7 without him. Irving received a rousing ovation from the Quicken Loans Arena crowd when he was introduced before the game and he waved to the crowd.

Irving was cheered again when he dribbled up court the first time. He missed his first shot, a driving layup, and then picked up an assist with a pass to Timofey Mozgov, who scored from the corner.

Irving was replaced with 8:05 left in the first quarter and immediately got on a stationary bike to stay loose.

Kobe Bryant farewell tour keeps Lakers as league’s top road draw

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 17:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers waits for a free throw during the first half against the Houston Rockets at Staples Center on December 17, 2015 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 condition of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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We know the fans aren’t turning out to see the stellar basketball.

Despite the Lakers’4-23 record, from the day that Kobe Bryant announced that he would be retiring, ticket demand for Lakers games — particularly on the road — skyrocketed. Everyone wants the chance to see Kobe Bryant one last time. Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times laid it all out.

The Lakers are a weak 2-15 away from Staples Center but own the NBA’s best road attendance with an average of 19,223 fans. Cleveland is next at 18,979.

In the days after Bryant’s retirement announcement three weeks ago, ticket resales to see the Lakers spiked 85%, with an almost equal increase for home and away games, according to Ticketmaster. On top of it, the Lakers are screaming toward their worst-ever record and remain the second-most popular team in single-game sales on NBA League Pass, where viewers pay $6.99 to watch a live out-of-market game.

It’s the same on the secondary ticket market. If you want to see the Denver Nuggets face the Pelicans or Trail Blazers, tickets start at $28 and $20, respectively, on Stub Hub. Want to see the Nuggets host the Lakers and tickets start at $62 for the nose bleed areas, and a pair of courtside seats will set you back $3,920. In Charlotte tickets to see Kobe’s final stop start at $105, and down courtside range from $3,000 to $10,000 a pair.

Bryant has given fans a little bit of a show lately, averaging 18.6 points per game on a much-improved 48.6 percent shooting in his last five games. He’s shown flashes of his old self, even throwing down an impressive dunk. That’s all fans really will get, flashes of vintage Kobe.

But that brings with it a lot of memories. And people are willing to pay for those memories.

Jimmy Butler: “We probably have to be coached a lot harder at times”


The Chicago Bulls are still trying to figure out who they are under new coach Fred Hoiberg. After years of playing under a coach who held the reins tight, in came Fred Hoiberg to give the players offensive freedom — and the result is a bottom five NBA offense. The Bulls have beat the Cleveland Cavaliers, Oklahoma City Thunder, and San Antonio Spurs this season, but have had ugly losses as well, such as to the Suns, Hornets, and Saturday to the Knicks (Chicago was worn down for that one after playing four overtimes the night before, to be fair).

Hoiberg was brought to be a different kind of coach than Tom Thibodeau (and to get along with the Bulls front office of Gar Forman and John Paxson). But after that loss to the Knicks Sunday, the Bulls outspoken leader Jimmy Butler said he needs to see a little more Thibodeau in Hoiberg, as reported by Josh Newman at CSNChicago.com.

“I believe in the guys in this locker room, yeah, but I also believe that we probably have to be coached a lot harder at times,” Jimmy Butler said after scoring just 12 points on 4-for-11 shooting one night after he played 56 minutes against the Pistons. “I know Fred is a laidback guy and I respect him for that, but when guys aren’t doing what they’re supposed to do, you gotta get on guys, myself included. You gotta do what you’re supposed to do when you’re out there playing basketball.

“We weren’t doing what we’re supposed to be doing, what we wrote on that board before the game. Nobody spoke up. I did, but probably not enough times. I think he has to hold everybody accountable, from the No. 1 player, all the way down. Everyone has to do their job.”

The Bulls are transitioning. Derrick Rose isn’t the player he once was (he’s shooting 37.5 percent this season and can’t finish inside like he once did0, and all the miles on Joakim Noah seem to have caught up with him. This is becoming Jimmy Butler’s team, but the transition has been awkward at times. Hoiberg is part of that transition, but as should be expected he is struggling with his transition from coaching college to being back in the NBA.

All of that has led to an inconsistent Bulls team.

The Bulls are in the logjam that is the second tier of the Eastern Conference — just three games separate second seed Indiana and 11th seed New York. Chicago has the talent to break out of that pack and be a clear second best team in the East, but they need to be a lot better on offense to make that happen (the defense is top five, despite no Thibodeau).

Hoiberg’s former-player nature is not to be a yeller; everyone describes him as “laid back.” And yelling may not be the answer, but among the things that needs to change for the Bulls is for Hoiberg to assert himself.

Paul George rips officials after Pacers win; he can expect fine

Indiana Pacers' Paul George goes up for a dunk during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Brooklyn Nets, Friday, Dec. 18, 2015, in Indianapolis. Indiana won 104-97. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
Associated Press

It was easy to tell Paul George was frustrated Friday night — he was constantly barking at the officials about missed calls (some real, some imaginary). He wasn’t alone, Pacers coach Frank Vogel picked up a technical for his expressions of frustration. Even as the Pacers went on a 15-2 run in the fourth to take the lead and beat the Nets, George was chirping.

When the game ended, he didn’t let it go. Here’s a what George said in his post-game interview on Fox Sports Indiana.

“The stripes (were) terrible.We (had to) go out and just play. The way this game was going and how they (were) calling it, we had to play… It’s frustrating, but hopefully the league does a better job of looking at s— like this.”

He added this back in the locker room, via the Indy Star:

“It’s frustrating when the guys I’m matched up with have less fouls than I do and they’re not attacking as much as I’m attacking,” said George, who could be fined or suspended by the league for his comment about the referees Friday. “It’s very frustrating and it’s been going on for a long time.”

George can break out his checkbook now, that’s going to net him a fine (not a suspension). Doesn’t matter if you agree with him and think the referees might as well have been Oompa Loompas, criticize them publicly and you get fined.

George is a veteran, he knew the fine was coming the second he opened his mouth. Hopefully he got his money’s worth. The Pacers played angry and won, so he’s probably good with it.