Kurt Helin

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Al Horford

Pistons surprise Hawks on opening night

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ATLANTA (AP) — Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 21 points to lead all five Detroit starters in double figures, carrying the Pistons to a surprising 106-94 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday night and ruining the home opener of the team with the best record in the Eastern Conference last season.

The Pistons, who haven’t had a winning season since 2008 and finished 28 games behind the Hawks a year ago, began to pull away just before halftime. They led by double figures through most of the final two quarters and held on despite missing 20 of their last 22 shots from the field.

Andre Drummond had 19 rebounds and 18 points for the Pistons. Marcus Morris also had a double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Ersan Ilyasova chipped in with 16 points and Reggie Jackson added 15.

Atlanta was looking to build on last season’s franchise-best record of 60-22 and run to the conference final. Instead, the Hawks picked up where they left off in a sweep by the Cleveland Cavaliers, losing again in familiar fashion.

The Pistons had a commanding 59-40 edge on the boards, again exposing the biggest issue to plague the Hawks last season.

Atlanta acquired 6-foot-11 Tiago Splitter from San Antonio but it made no immediate difference for one of the NBA’s worst rebounding teams.

Detroit won despite shooting just 38.5 percent (37 of 96).

Dennis Schroder led the Hawks with 20 points. Paul Millsap had 19 and Jeff Teague 18, but new starter Kent Bazemore – who stepped in at small forward after DeMarre Carroll left in free agency – was held scoreless.

The Pistons gave a glimpse of what was to come right from opening tipoff. Caldwell-Pope knocked down a 3-pointer midway through the first quarter to push Detroit to a 20-10 lead.

Atlanta tied it up by the end of the period and finally pushed out to a lead early in the second. But the Hawks were never up by more than five points.

Detroit seized control with a 17-4 spurt that finished up the second quarter and carried on into the third. Caldwell-Pope started the stretch with a 3-pointer and finished it with a three-point play, putting the Pistons ahead 56-43.

The Pistons led by as many as 19.


Pistons: F Anthony Tolliver missed the game after getting word that his pregnant wife was in labor. He took a flight home early Tuesday to be with his spouse and their new daughter.

Hawks: G Tim Hardaway Jr., who was acquired from New York for a first-round draft pick, was surprisingly on the inactive list for his first game with Atlanta. He was denied a chance to go against his father, an assistant coach for the Pistons. … Rookie G-F Lamar Patterson, a second-round pick in 2014 who played last season in Turkey, had 5 points in 18 minutes. … Atlanta picked up the fourth-year contract options on both Hardaway and Schroder. … F Mike Muscala went out with a sprained right ankle and did not return.

“Frustrated” Steve Kerr says he’s “improving,” no timetable for return

Steve Kerr
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Steve Kerr says he is going to coach this season. He just has no idea when.

Kerr met with the media before the Warriors — his Warriors, the team he coached to a title but currently being led by Luke Walton — took the court to raise their NBA championship banner and get their rings. Kerr got his ring but sat out the game, and will sit out more as he recovers from multiple back surgeries this past summer.

Kerr talked about his return, as reported by Monte Poole of CSNBayArea.com.

“I am feeling better, so that’s the good news,” Kerr said. “The bad news is I’m not feeling well enough to coach yet. It’s hard because I don’t know when that will be. So there’s no timetable. It’s not a sprained ankle, two-to-four-weeks type of thing. When I feel better, I’ll feel better.

“It’s very frustrating, but I am improving….

“Fortunately, prospects for the long term are great,” Kerr said. “I know I’m on the right path, on the right track. I’m very confident that I will be back this season, and I can’t wait. It’s killing me. And it’s killing me not to be out there tonight. I’m excited to be part of the ceremony, but I’m really disappointed not to be coaching.”

Kerr said he may travel with the team on their weekend road trip (Houston and New Orleans) but wouldn’t coach. Lucky Walton, he gets to have the boss just follow him around, watch him like a hawk, but not help with anything. That sounds like the ideal business trip.

With the core of the team back playing the same system that won 67 games and the NBA title the season before, Kerr missing some time is not going to impact this team much. They will need him to push the right buttons later in the season and into the playoffs, but Walton can guide them through the first patch without much trouble.


Watch Pau Gasol’s game-saving block on LeBron to earn Bulls win


The irony is Pau Gasol had been pretty terrible defensively all night. His recognition and rotations were poor, and if Joakim Noah had been healthy (he banged knees in the third quarter and did not return), Gasol likely would have been on the bench.

But with the game on the line, Gasol came up with his sixth block of the night, using his length on LeBron James, and it preserved a 97-95 Bulls win in the season opener.

This was a sloppy game for both teams, the Cavaliers’ offense sputtered without Kyrie Irving and with LeBron still someone slowed by his back (25 points on 12-22 shooting). They also really missed Iman Shumpert‘s defense.

But credit the Bulls, they made the plays to get the win. Nikola Mirotic had 19 points on 6-of-11 shooting (3-of-4 from three) to lead the Bulls, while an attacking Derrick Rose had 18 points on 22 shots.

It almost wasn’t enough, the Cavaliers almost stole the game, set up by some late Kevin Love threes. But that’s where Gasol came in.

Jrue Holiday out for Pelicans in opener against Warriors

Jrue Holiday
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When you’re going up against the best backcourt in the NBA — Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson — you want to have all the arrows in your quiver available.

The Pelicans are screwed on that count.

Tyreke Evans (knee surgery) and Norris Cole (ankle sprain) are out, and now we learn that Jrue Holiday will not be playing either, reports Sean Kelly, the Pelicans’ radio voice.

Nate Robinson will start for the Pelicans. Eric Gordon will have the ball in his hands a lot. Ish Smith was claimed off waivers on Monday and may well play on Tuesday.

This is why a lot of pundits predicted the Pelicans are not going to make a big leap up in the West this season — they are very banged up and start with a brutal schedule. While they will likely get healthy and be more dangerous as the season moves into December and beyond, they may have to dig out of a hole just to make the postseason. If not, Anthony Davis has made his MVP case.

Milwaukee confident Jabari Parker to return in November

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ST. FRANCIS, Wis. (AP) — As the Milwaukee Bucks wrapped up their final practice ahead of the season-opener against the New York Knicks, coach Jason Kidd expressed confidence that the team will have last year’s first-round draft pick Jabari Parker back in the lineup by early November.

“He looks great. He’s done everything,” Kidd said following the team’s workout on Tuesday. “Hopefully, in that first couple of weeks of November, he can come back and start his process, his journey, of playing 10 to 15 minutes a night and hopefully getting his load bigger as the season goes on.”

The Bucks have been taking a cautious approach with Parker, 20, as he continues to recover from surgery in January to repair a torn ACL in his left knee. Parker, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2014 draft, has been practicing with the team.

Milwaukee also will be without another of its young stars, forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, who was suspended for Wednesday night’s opener for decking Mike Dunleavy of the Chicago Bulls during Game 6 of last season’s first-round playoff series.

“We’ve got to make it work,” guard Michael Carter-Williams said of Antetokounmpo’s one-game absence. “We’ll be ready with whoever replaces Giannis, whether it’s (Chris Copeland) or whoever.”

This year’s first-round pick, Rashad Vaughn, returned to practice Tuesday after sitting out Monday’s workout with a sore right shoulder. O.J. Mayo remained sidelined with an injured hamstring.

The Bucks will open at home for the first time since the 1984-85 season, when the team played at the Milwaukee Arena. The Bucks have played at the BMO Harris Bradley Center, now the league’s third-oldest arena, since 1988.

“It’s great for the city. It’s great for the organization and the team. We’re excited,” Carter-Williams said.