Kurt Helin

Report: Festus Ezeli suffered “minor setback” in comeback from knee procedure

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Portland made two big offseason moves, neither of which has borne much fruit yet. Evan Turner is averaging 6.4 points a game and shooting just 40 percent coming off the Blazers’ bench.

Then there is Festus Ezeli, the former Warriors’ big man, but he has yet to see the court following a knee procedure this summer. And he’s going to be out a little while longer now than the six weeks originally projected, reports Jason Quick at CSNNW.com.

Trail Blazers center Festus Ezeli last month suffered a minor setback in his comeback from a left knee procedure, CSNNW.com has learned.

Ezeli suffered swelling in his left knee after he took part in two Blazers practices on Oct. 17 and Oct. 18, after which the Blazers have pulled back on his activity.

“I practiced, and that’s what happens sometimes – it reacts, swells up, you go back, regress and come back,’’ Ezeli said Tuesday night before the Blazers game with Phoenix.

Questions about his knees had driven down his price over the summer (although he still got $7.4 million this season, $16 million over two with a team option), and in August he got an injection of bone marrow aspirate in there to help it heal. That has not worked like planned yet.

Portland, at 5-3 with Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum playing brilliantly, can be patient. But the team certainly could use his rim protection; it would give them a new level of depth and versatility up front.

Watch Kyrie Irving’s between-the-legs assist to LeBron James

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It wasn’t a good night for LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers — they lost their first game of the season to a surprisingly strong Atlanta Hawks team.

But they had one of the best highlights of the night.

Check out this between-the-legs assist from Kyrie Irving to LeBron James, part of the third-quarter run when the Cavaliers focused their defense and came back to make this a game. They just couldn’t sustain the run.

Didn’t make this dunk any less fun and impressive.

Watch Curry drop 23 Tuesday night. Seth Curry, that is.

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Seth Curry can get buckets, too.

Maybe not 13 threes in a game buckets, but the other Curry brother can score and he had 23 in Dallas’s road win over the Lakers’ Tuesday. That’s two wins in a row for Dallas without Dirk NowitThe Dallas offense has been 8.2 points per 100 possessions better when Curry is on the court this season, and when he has a shot chart like this those numbers will just go up.

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Three things we learned Tuesday: Rough night for LeBron James

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Here are three things worth knowing from around the NBA Tuesday, things we learned about the league while glued to election coverage with a growing disbelieving etched on our face…

1) LeBron James did a lot of losing on Tuesday night. There were some surprising upsets Tuesday night — and both went poorly for LeBron James. The bigger one, and certainly the one that hits him harder, is Donald Trump beating Hillary Clinton to become the next president of the United States. LeBron had endorsed Clinton and campaigned for her in recent days in Ohio — a swing state that went red for Trump, like virtually every swing state.

Then on the court Tuesday, the Cavaliers offense ran into the Hawks’ defense that has been one of the best in the league this season — the Cavs’ shot 37.4 percent in a home loss to Atlanta. LeBron had just two points in the first half, but in the third had 16 and helped spark a Cavs run, it just wasn’t something the team sustained into the fourth (and the Hawks kept making plays). Kyrie Irving added 29 points, but J.R. Smith was 2-of-13, and Channing Frye was 5-of-15 to highlight Cleveland’s shooting woes. The bigger issue for the Cavs was a coasting effort to start — something they have done a few times this season and gotten away with. They don’t need to play 48 sharp minutes to beat most teams, but a hot third quarter is not enough against a solid Atlanta team.

That’s another thing here — Atlanta is good. Dwight Howard continues to play his role and had 17 boards and three blocks. The Hawks are cleaning up the glass and did that again Tuesday. Paul Millsap was making plays. Kent Bazemore was knocking down shots. Mike Muscala was throwing it down (and landing hard). And when Dennis Schroeder goes off for a career-high 28, Atlanta is going to get the win.

2) Portland’s big two still carrying team to big wins. The Trail Blazers are 5-3 after holding off a charging Phoenix team to secure a 124-121 win Tuesday. The Blazers once again are looking like a playoff team (granted, it’s early), and they are doing it the way they did it last year — behind a dynamic scoring duo at guard. They carried the Blazers Tuesday. First, there was Damian Lillard’s 38 points — 22 in the fourth quarter when the game was decided.

Then there was C.J. McCollum dropping 33, 18 in the first quarter.

Evan Turner still has not found his way with Portland, but they are getting enough other contributions — Maurice Harkless had 20 Tuesday. The Blazers are just outscoring teams again and not playing much defense, but it worked again on Tuesday.

3) No Dirk Nowitzki. No Deron Williams. Mavericks still on a two-game win streak. Whether any media member is covering them or not, Dallas has had a couple of nice wins in a row. Tuesday night they went into Staples Center and beat a Lakers’ team playing fairly well. It was a game decided in the final six minutes and Dallas just executed better. The Lakers are going to lose games like this all season, it’s still a learning experience for them.

Dallas has won two in a row and Harrison Barnes has dropped 30+ two games in a row. Not a coincidence.

Hawks’ Dennis Schroder, Kent Bazemore send Cavaliers to first loss

Associated Press
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CLEVELAND (AP) — Dennis Schroder scored a career-high 28 points and the Atlanta Hawks handed the reigning NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers their first loss of the season, 110-106 on Tuesday night.

Cleveland (6-1) cut a 96-81 deficit early in the fourth quarter to 101-97 on LeBron James‘ basket with 3:14 to play. The Hawks scored the next six points, but 3-pointers by James and Kyrie Irving made it 106-103 with 48 seconds left.

Paul Milsap’s basket pushed the lead to five, but Kevin Love converted a three-point play with 25 seconds remaining. Bazemore’s jumper from the corner with 7 seconds left put the game away.

Bazemore scored 25 points while Millsap added 21. Dwight Howard, who received four stitches for a bloody lip in the first half, had 17 rebounds.

Irving led Cleveland with 29 points. Love added 24 while James, who scored two points in the first half, had 23.

Atlanta finished the second quarter on a 22-6 run to lead 53-42. James didn’t score until he hit a jumper late in the first half.

Atlanta scored the first five points of the third quarter and stretched the lead to 58-42. James hit two free throws, a 3-pointer and two layups during a 15-3 run that got Cleveland back in the game.

J.R. Smith‘s 3-pointer late in the third period made it a two-point game but Bazemore made three free throws with less than a second remaining in the quarter.

Millsap hit a 3-pointer and converted a three-point play, helping Atlanta rebuild the lead to 96-81, but Cleveland scored the next 10 points and cut the margin to 98-94 on Channing Frye‘s 3-pointer.

Hawks guard Kyle Korver did not travel to Cleveland after the birth of his third child Sunday.

Atlanta had lost 11 straight to Cleveland, including playoff sweeps the last two seasons.

TIP-INS

Hawks: Korver is expected to play Wednesday night when Atlanta hosts Chicago. … C Mike Muscala took a hard fall to the court after a dunk in the first quarter but remained in the game. … F Mike Scott (left knee) and C Tiago Splitter (right hamstring) remain sidelined, leaving Atlanta with 12 active players.

Cavaliers: F Tristan Thompson was scoreless with two rebounds in 25 minutes. … Cleveland was 11 of 42 on 3-point attempts. … Cleveland Indians players Jason Kipnis, Carlos Santana and Michael Brantley attended the game.