Kurt Helin

Darren Collison, Ronnie Price

Kings’ Darren Collison out indefinitely with hamstring injury

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The sore Achilles that sidelined DeMarcus Cousins isn’t the only reason the Kings have started 1-6. Another issue is at the point guard spot — Sacramento’s up-tempo offense is 5.5 points per 100 possessions better when starter Rajon Rondo is off the court. If you just said “but Rondo brings it on defense” know the Kings’ defense is 11.9 per 100 better when he is on the bench.

However, that doesn’t mean more Darren Collison running the show in Sacramento — he missed Saturday night’s game with a hamstring and told James Ham of CSNBayArea.com he’s going to miss more time as well.

From his courtside seat, he informed CSNBayArea.com that the injury required an MRI and the results were “not good.” Collison confirmed that he would be out several days at minimum while the team’s medical staff waits to see how his body responds to treatment.

He is almost certainly out Monday as the Kings host the Spurs. They are home this week and face the Pistons Wednesday and the Nets Friday.

Rondo did have a triple-double against the Warriors — 14 points, 12 rebounds, 15 assists — in what was his best game of the season (of course, the Warriors still won). George Karl and the Kings are going to need more performances like that until Collison gets back — and getting Cousins back Monday will certainly help this struggling team.

Putback dunks have become Kristap Porzingis’ thing (VIDEO)


The Knicks’ No. 4 pick Kristaps Porzingis is a project. You can see the skill with his shot, you can see the basketball IQ, he is farther along the curve than many had thought, but watch him play and you also see a guy that is raw. It’s going to be a couple of years before we have a sense of just how good he can be.

But we do know this — the man can throw down the putback dunk with the best of them.

He’s done it over LaMarcus Aldridge and Kevin Love. He’s got the timing on missed shots down and the length to adjust on the fly as needed.

Above is a highlight package of his putbacks from just the Knicks first six games. Just wait until we have a couple of seasons of those to watch.

Kobe Bryant: “If you asked me today, this would be my last year”

Kobe Bryant
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Kobe Bryant was sitting there with ice on both knees, plus he was hooked up to a machine that kept his surgically repaired shoulder cold. It’s just part of the daily, lengthy routine Kobe has to endure to keep playing NBA basketball.

That’s when the question came: Is this his last year in the league?

Kobe has long denied knowing the answer to that question, but he was channeling a little of Danny Glover’s Roger Murtaugh from Lethal Weapon in giving his answer, as reported by Baxter Holmes of ESPN.

“If you asked me today, this would be my last year. But you never know,” said Bryant, who is in the final year of his deal with the Lakers. “We’ll keep it open. Whatever happens, happens.”

Kobe has been clear about a few things. He’s not going to play for a team other than the Lakers (it would hurt his brand). And he’s certainly not going into coaching. And he does not want a farewell tour (even though his reception at Madison Square Garden Sunday will feel like one).

But whether he is going to retire, I believe him when he says he ultimately doesn’t know yet. I’ve always been in the camp that this will be it for Kobe — if he’s not going to chase a ring with another team, why would he put himself through all this physically to be part of a multi-year rebuilding process he will not be on the court to see the rewards from?

Bottom line, he’s getting too old for this… stuff.

Sixers’ Nerlens Noel ejected after retaliatory swing at Jason Smith


Referees always seem to get the guy who retaliates — but if you retaliate with a blow to the head, you have to expect what’s coming next.

Late in the third quarter of the Sixers’ 105-97 loss to Orlando, the Magic’s Jason Smith threw a forearm to the chest of Nerlens Noel as those two were starting to try to establish position for a play. It was a foul, Smith would be given a technical for the play.

But Nerlens Noel responded with a blow to the back of Smith’s head, and that got him ejected. It looked like Noel was trying to go for a headlock, it wasn’t much of a punch, but a shot to the head will get you ejected every time. There likely will be a fine from the league to follow.

Smith and Noel had been going at it all night, and Smith is an instigator (this is far from his first run-in like this). But Noel has to know that about Smith already, and he has to know how any contact to the head in a situation like this is going to get treated.

Harden scores 46, Rockets hang on to beat Clippers 109-105

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Seven games into the season, the Houston Rockets have already experienced more ups and downs than most teams. They lost their first three games and have turned things around to win four in a row.

Much of it is due to James Harden, who scored a season-high 46 points in his second straight game over 40 to help the Rockets beat the Los Angeles Clippers 109-105 Saturday night.

Harden made 13 of 14 free throws and was 5 of 10 from 3-point range a night after he scored 43 in a 116-110 win at Sacramento.

“We got some open shots and I was just being aggressive,” Harden said. “These last couple games when we have been playing well, our defense has led to easy buckets in transition for our offense, so that’s what we have to hang our hat on.”

Blake Griffin had 35 points and 11 rebounds for the Clippers, who played without Chris Paul. The star point guard sat out with a sore right groin as Los Angeles lost at home for the first time in four games.

“We needed to make things tougher for James,” Griffin said. “We needed to make him drive, but he’s good at that just like he’s a good shooter. He had it going and we need to do a better job by committee.”

Marcus Thornton added 16 points, and Dwight Howard had 20 points and 20 rebounds for the Rockets.

With Thornton and Harden hitting 3-pointers, Houston led by 11 midway through the fourth.

The Clippers responded by outscoring the Rockets 17-6, tying it at 105 on a 3-pointer from the left corner by Paul Pierce with 41 seconds to go.

J.J. Redick fouled Harden, who made both to put Houston ahead 107-105.

After a timeout, Griffin put the ball up and it hit the rim and bounced away, with the Clippers arguing Howard should have been called for goaltending. Paul, dressed in street clothes, came on the court during a timeout to make a case with one of the referees.

“That’s textbook goaltending,” Griffin said. “The review really didn’t help us.”

After a video review, the ball was awarded to Houston with 17 seconds to go. Ty Lawson made two free throws for a four-point lead before Jamal Crawford‘s 3-pointer missed at the buzzer.

“I thought our entire team played like they had cement boots on the first three games,” Houston coach Kevin McHale said. “We were just slow. When you watch the film we just looked sickly. We were able to turn the corner and get downhill.”

Redick added 19 points and DeAndre Jordan had 11 points and 14 rebounds for the Clippers.


Rockets: Harden just missed his career best of 51 points set against Sacramento on April 1. … The Rockets outscored the Clippers 22-10 in fast-break points. … They improved to 2-0 in the second game of back-to-backs. … They have won four straight for the first time since March 23-29 of last season. … Houston has won three straight against the Clippers for the first time since March 28-Dec. 22, 2009.

Clippers: Austin Rivers started his first game of the season in place of Paul, who is averaging 17 points and 8.2 assists. The coach’s son had 10 points in 31 minutes. … Without Paul, the Clippers still had a season-high 29 assists.


Rockets: Host Brooklyn on Wednesday night.

Clippers: Host Memphis on Monday night.