Kurt Helin

Lakers’ D’Angelo Russell leaves game with moderate ankle sprain

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Fortunately, this was not too serious.

Lakers’ rookie point guard D'Angelo Russell was chasing Nuggets guard D.J. Augustin after a high pick, when Augustin slowed so he could make the pass to the roll man, and with that Russell steps on Augustin’s foot. Russell rolls his ankle and goes to the floor.

The Lakers said later that X-rays were negative and that it is a moderate ankle sprain. Which means he will miss a few more games before he can get back on the court.

Spurs to rest Duncan, Parker, Ginobili against Thunder Saturday, Monday vs. Grizzlies

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Steve Kerr wants to get his key Warriors players some rest down the stretch, he’s talked about it plenty. But with Golden State’s desire to chase 73 wins, he’s going to have to platoon rest for Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and the rest so they keep racking up wins.

Gregg Popovich is under no such obligation.

With the Spurs four games back of the Warriors with 11 to play, he knows he’s not getting the top seed. So Popovich is doing what he does — resting guys en mass. National television game or not.

The Spurs and Thunder are likely second-round playoff opponents, why play any cards or give OKC more confidence now?

The Spurs are sitting out Kawhi Leonard on Friday night against Memphis due to a minor quad injury. He could miss one or both of the following games as well.

Yes, the Warriors and Spurs play a couple more times, but don’t expect either team to stop resting players or tip their strategy hands in that one. Those two games will have the Xs and Os complexity of the Pro Bowl.

GM Dell Demps, coach Alvin Gentry say they are on same page, not concerned about jobs

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The rumor/conventional wisdom around the league is that with New Orleans Saints power broker Mickey Loomis having a larger say in the running of the Pelicans, and with the struggles of the Pelicans this season, GM Dell Demps is in serious trouble.

Then on Friday comes a report from Adrian Wojnarowski that Demps has been second guessing his decision last summer to hire Alvin Gentry as coach. (Demps needed a defensive coach or to overhaul the roster for Gentry’s preferred up-tempo style, instead it was square pegs in round holes.)

In the wake of that report, both Gentry and Demps seemed to try to play things down and sound like guys who would be back next season. Together. From Brett Dawson of the New Orleans Advocate.

Nothing to see here, move along.

That’s what they’re selling right now. As the pair should. But that doesn’t mean the reports are not true (Demps trying to share blame sounds like a guy on the hot seat trying to save his job). We can expect major changes in the Pelicans roster and structure this summer. They need to put better players around Anthony Davis sooner rather than later.

No surprise, Dirk Nowitzki says he plans to opt-in with Mavericks for next season

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Dirk Nowitzki doesn’t seem to age — his scoring numbers are up this season from 17.3 to 18.8 points per game, his true shooting percentage increased, he’s seemingly reversed the downward trends in his game. And he’s got the Mavericks on the cusp of making the playoffs (although the loss of Chandler Parsons for the rest of the season is a major blow).

The future Hall of Famer has one year left on his “I’ll take a deal to help the team” contract, worth $8.7 million next season, and he’s going to take it. Here’re his comments, via Tim MacMahon of ESPN.

The Mavericks did not go into rebuild mode last summer, although if DeAndre Jordan had told them no from the start that may have been different, Mark Cuban has suggested.

You know Cuban and company will go big game hunting come free agency, but that’s a limited talent pool this season and virtually every team has money. Expect if they strike out for the Mavs to add some more solid pieces and improve the team’s overall quality for what could be Nowitzki’s final season (age 38, in the last year of his deal).

Charlotte Hornets release statement opposing any discrimination in wake of new North Carolina law

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Joining numerous other businesses from Apple to American Airlines, the NBA has already come out against the new law in North Carolina law that opened the door for discrimination against gays and lesbians, not to mention transgendered people. The law, approved in an election year by a Republican-controlled legislature and governor, is about as politically subtle a move as one would expect from Frank Underwood.

The NBA is considering its options, including moving the 2017 NBA All-Star Game scheduled for Charlotte. (Although, less than a year out that is a logistical challenge, to say the least.)

Now the Charlotte Hornets themselves have weighed in, saying everyone is welcome in their house.

“The Charlotte Hornets and Hornets Sports & Entertainment are opposed to discrimination in any form, and we have always sought to provide an inclusive environment. As has been the case since the building opened, we will continue to ensure that all fans, players and employees feel welcome while at work or attending NBA games and events at Time Warner Cable Arena.”

Good job by the Hornets, who should stand up as beacons of tolerance and acceptance. They can’t force a change in the law, but they can work toward a changing of attitudes. Be the change you want to see.

As Martin Luther King Jr. said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”