Kurt Helin

Watch the highlights of Tim Duncan’s jersey retirement ceremony

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It was an emotional night in San Antonio.

They retired the No. 21 of the greatest player in franchise history — and the greatest power forward in NBA history — Tim Duncan. Gregg Popovich was emotional. Tony Parker was fantastic. And Duncan was… funny.

Above catch the highlights of a big night. Below, watch Popovich almost come to tears, and see Duncan’s speech.

Report: Blake Griffin to undergo minor knee surgery, miss at least several weeks

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The Los Angeles Clippers have been 18.4 points per 100 possessions better when Blake Griffin is on the court this season. He’s played the best defense of his career, and while his offense lacks the highlights he used to generate seemingly nightly he has become incredibly diversified and efficient on that end.

Now we’re going to see how the Clippers play without him for a while. From Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

Griffin played 38 minutes Sunday, but has been playing through left knee pain.

Griffin has averaged 21 points, 8.9 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game this season. He is part of the second-most used five-man lineup in the NBA, the Clippers starting five — they are outscoring opponents by 16.2 points per 100 possessions when he is on the court. The Clippers numbers drop off fast when the bench gets involved, and it’s going to be involved a lot for the next few weeks.

This also could cost Griffin a lot of money.

Joel Embiid sets career high with 33 points, goes flying into stands in win

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Joel Embiid is improving night after night.

He took another big step Sunday, setting a career high 33 points to lead the Sixers past the Brooklyn Nets 108-107. Although the play everyone is talking about is the one above, where Embiid tipped a post entry pass, then went flying into the stands to chase the loose ball, stepping on one fan then landing on another. Said fan was okay and Embiid did apologize to him for using him as a step stool.

Just don’t forget about the overall picture on Embiid’s big night. He hit 12-of-17 shots to get his 33 points, and while most of that damage was done in the paint, he was 3-of-6 in the midrange and 2-of-3 on straight-away three-pointers. He’s got range.

Brett Brown: Nerlens Noel pushed out of Sixers rotation

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Nerlens Noel was not happy about only getting eight minutes on the court in the last Sixers game.

He’s going to like this even less.

Sunday night in Philly’s win over Brooklyn, Noel was not part of the Sixers’ rotation, and the implication is that’s going to be the trend going forward. Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor are going to get the run at the five spot. From Sixers coach Brett Brown, via Jessica Camerato of CSNPhilly.com.

“I think trying to force feed three bigs in a game is unfair,” Brown said Sunday before the Sixers faced the Nets. “I intend on going with two of those three bigs tonight. Nerlens will not be one of those people that will be in rotation unless something happens with foul trouble or some type of other circumstance.”

“I think a lot of people know it was going to get to a point like this,” Noel said. “Now I’m the one that’s in it, so I’m going to deal with it the best way possible.”

Noel has been critical of the Sixers front office more than once for the glut of bigs, and he’s not wrong there. They have too many big men who deserve minutes and time to develop on the court, and not everybody is going to get a fair shake. Noel is on the losing end of that deal.

The Sixers would like to move him in a trade. However the combination of his injury history and the buzz around the league about how poorly he has handled his demotion – poor attitude and body language — has teams making lowball offers, if any at all.

The Sixers likely will move Noel before the trade deadline, and maybe he blossoms in a different setting. He is athletic and has real potential as a rim protector. Sometimes all a player needs is a change of scenery. But the Sixers aren’t going to get much in return for him anymore.

Mavericks’ Dorian Finney-Smith’s season-high 17 lead Mavs past Kings 99-79

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DALLAS (AP) — Even after scoring a season high in points, Dorian Finney-Smith wanted to talk about his defense.

The rookie had 17 points, leading six Dallas players in double figures as the Mavericks beat the Sacramento Kings 99-79 Sunday.

The Mavericks, who lost to Sacramento by 31 points at home 11 days ago, started fast. They made 11 of their first 15 shots and never trailed.

Later, some of his teammates teased him for passing up open shots.

“When I get a hand on a ball or a tip, it gets me going,” Finney-Smith said. “I try not to lose focus on what I bring to the table, and that’s defense. If I’m making shots, that’s a plus.”

Deron Williams, Harrison Barnes and Wesley Matthews each scored 15 for Dallas.

DeMarcus Cousins scored 33 for Sacramento. The Kings were minus second-leading scorer Rudy Gay, who missed his third consecutive game because of a strained right hip flexor.

A 10-0 Mavericks run early in the second quarter opened a 38-26 lead and the Kings never got closer than nine for the remainder of the game.

“We’ve got to come out and be the aggressor, that’s just plain and simple,” Cousins said. “We can’t get off to slow starts. We can’t let a team gain confidence. We’ve got to be the aggressors every night.”

It was barely 30 degrees in Dallas and the start time was moved up three hours to 3 p.m. – that avoided a conflict with the Cowboys, whose home game against Tampa Bay was originally scheduled for the daytime and later switched to night.

Following a 120-89 home loss to the Kings on Dec. 7, the Mavericks called a team meeting. They’ve won three of four at home since then and are 3-3 overall.

“We remember (the loss), but the biggest thing is that our demeanor has to be like this every night,” Matthews said.

TIP-INS

Kings: Cousins had 23 of Sacramento’s 44 points in the first half. … Ty Lawson was the only other Sacramento player in double figures, with 10 points.

Mavericks: The Kings scored just 14 points in the third quarter, a season low for a Mavericks opponent. … Williams had seven assists and passed current Dallas television analyst Derek Harper for 21st place on the NBA’s all-time assists list with 6,584.

HARRIS A HERO

Devin Harris had a season-high 14 points and seven rebounds for the Mavericks. He made a three-point play and a four-point play to cap a 12-2 Dallas run that gave the Mavs a 76-56 lead with 2:33 left in the third quarter.

Harris had missed the team’s first 16 games with a sprained right big toe.

“When he feels good physically, he moves with joy out there,” coach Rick Carlisle said.

LET IT BEE

Kings coach Dave Joerger called for a truce in an ongoing spat between Cousins and the Sacramento Bee newspaper. Cousins recently confronted a Bee writer after a column that referenced the arrest of the 6-foot-11 star’s brother.

“This guy is the face of our franchise,” Joerger said. “He’s done and said some things that he wishes he could do over. He has improved.”

“I’m not justifying anything that he’s done. What he did was excessive. But enough is enough,” he said.

TRIBUTE TO SAGER

The Mavericks joined the list of NBA teams to hold a moment of silence before their game in honor of TNT broadcaster Craig Sager, who died Thursday. Team owner Mark Cuban remembered Sager fondly before the game.

“Smiles are underrated,” Cuban said. “Nice is underrated. Getting people to smile every time – that’s something not a lot of people have been able to accomplish.”