Kurt Helin

Report: Rockets’ Patrick Beverley could return next week

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James Harden has played like an MVP candidate — 30.6 points and 13 rebounds a game — and the Rockets’ offense under new coach Mike D’Antoni is a machine scoring 107.6 points per 100 possessions (according to NBA.com).

But they hover around .500 (5-4) because they are giving up 107.8 per 100, the third worst defense in the NBA.

Maybe the return of Patrick Beverley will help that, and we could see that this week, reports Calvin Watkins of ESPN.

Rockets starting guard Patrick Beverley said he practiced Friday and expects to return this coming week from left knee surgery.

Beverley didn’t say which game would be his season debut in, but he proclaimed he’s completely healthy. The Rockets’ first game this coming week is Monday against the Philadelphia 76ers.

“I feel very good, excited, can’t wait to play,” Beverley said Saturday. “I can’t wait to play with my teammates. I missed them a lot. I missed being on the road and team camaraderie a lot. I missed playing basketball and missed competing.”

Beverley is a physical, attacking on-ball defender and last season the Rockets’ defense was better with him on the court (2.1 per 100). He likely will come off the bench at first, and while he’s not a dynamic playmaker by any stretch the Rockets’ offense is abysmal when Harden sits, maybe Beverley can help stabilize it. But he could become a starter again — Beverley can shoot the three and there can’t be enough shooters on the court in D’Antoni’s system, plus we know he has chemistry with Harden.

Brandon Jennings fined $15,000 for saying magical words to referee

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Brandon Jennings was frustrated at the end of the Knicks getting thumped by the Celtics Friday night. Like all the Knicks were.

Jennings was ejected  with 3:20 left in the fourth after saying some magical words to the official, then he didn’t leave the court quickly.

That’s going to cost him $15,000, the league announced the fine Sunday.

That likely will not be the last frustration fine the Knicks end up with this season.

Nick Young, could Lakers make playoffs? “We think we could, for sure”

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Playoffs?!? They’re talking playoffs?!?

At 6-4, the Lakers are currently tied for the six seed in the West with Portland. Just 10 games into the season it’s a “Hillary can’t lose” level prognostication mistake to say Los Angeles is a lock, but with Memphis, Denver, Sacramento, Dallas, and Minnesota stumbling out of the gate, is it time for the Lakers to start dreaming of the playoffs?

Nick Young told Mark Medina of the Orange County Register the team thinks they can make it.

“We think we could, for sure,” Lakers forward Nick Young said. “If we continue to play how we’ve been playing…..”

Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson then interrupted Young and asked about the subject matter. After Young caught Clarkson up to speed, the two playfully chastised a reporter for bringing up the topic.

“It’s not nice. You put pressure on these young guys,” Young said. “Now we have to make the playoffs when you said [before] we were the last team in the world.”

First, you have to love the chemistry on this team right now — they like each other and are having fun on and off the court, and it shows.

Can the Lakers sustain this? I don’t doubt they could have an offense around the top 10 (currently ninth), the question is will their middle-of-the-pack defense remain at that level? Will the young team hold up physically and not have excessive mental lapses? Can Young keep playing like this?

The Lakers look like a team that will be in the mix for a playoff spot, which before the season started seemed a wild long shot.

Cavaliers guard J.R. Smith is out against Hornets

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CLEVELAND (AP) Cleveland Cavaliers guard J.R. Smith is out against the Charlotte Hornets because of a sore right ankle.

The Cavaliers said Smith tweaked the ankle Friday night against Washington. Mike Dunleavy will start at shooting guard Sunday for the defending champions, who are 7-1 and have the best record in the Eastern Conference.

Smith is averaging 10.5 points and had made 36 percent of his 3-point attempts. Dunleavy, who is starting for the first time this season, is 7 of 23 from the 3-point line and is averaging 4.4 points.

Kings’ Omri Casspi denies he requested trade

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With the Kings off to a bit of a slow start, the rumors of potential trades have started — Willie Cauley-Stein‘s name came up, and Shaquille O’Neal dropped DeMarcus Cousins hints.

The other name that hit the rumor mill in Sacramento Omri Casspi, with reports he requested a trade.

Casspi denied that to James Ham of CSNBayArea.com.

“Zero truth to that. Zero,” Casspi told CSN California via text.

According to multiple sources, Casspi’s agent met with the Kings this week to discuss his role with the team. But he did not request a trade at that time.

Casspi’s role with the Kings has declined under new coach Dave Joerger, he’s playing 12 fewer minutes a night. A hip injury was part of what set him back, but he hasn’t earned the trust of the coach more than Anthony Tolliver and others.

It’s possible the Kings will consider moving him, but not in the short term. If he does go on the market in a serious way, there will be interest, other GMs think he just needs a new setting.