Kurt Helin

Associated Press

Rockets, Pelicans will travel to China for exhibition games next fall

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The Houston Rockets have long had a huge following in China — they were the team of Yao Ming.

Now they are heading back to China to play, the 10th time the NBA has sent teams to China for a preseason game.

The Rockets will take on the New Orleans Pelicans Oct. 9 in Yao’s hometown of Shanghai at the Mercedes-Benz Arena, followed by a rematch in Beijing on Oct. 12 at The LeSports Center.

“We are proud of the special bond our team has with the Chinese fans, and we know the atmosphere at the games will be electrifying,” the Rockets’ James Harden said in a released statement.

This is the first time the Rockets have returned to Shanghai since Yao’s team was there in 2004. This will be New Orleans’ first trip to China.

As always, the NBA has made sure there will be big stars for these Chinese games — Harden of the Rockets, and Anthony Davis of the Pelicans should be on hand. Also, there will be numerous off-the-court activities from the NBA, such as the Fan Appreciation Day presented by Dongfeng Nissan on Oct. 7 in Shanghai.



Report: Laker teammates unhappy with, “isolating” D’Angelo Russell after he tapes talk with Nick Young


While Laker fans were frustrated for much of the season that rookie point guard D'Angelo Russell was coming off the bench, there was a reason for it backed by management — they thought Russell needed a lesson in maturity and that his ego was too big. With that came concerns about his professionalism (focus in practice, showing up to meetings on time, etc.). Coach Byron Scott questioned Russell’s maturity on multiple occasions.

This latest report falls right in line with that.

Laker teammates have lost trust in and are isolating Russell after he secretly taped then a now leaked conversation with teammate Nick Young, reports Marc Stein and Baxter Holmes of ESPN.

Sources told ESPN.com that some teammates’ trust in Russell is eroding after a video surfaced in the past week that shows Russell recording a private conversation between himself and teammate Nick Young. Young does not appear to realize he is being taped.

The video, which is believed to have come to light last week via the Twitter account of a celebrity gossip site, shows Russell filming Young while asking questions about Young being with other women. Young got engaged to Australian rapper Iggy Azalea last summer….

“Right now,” one source said, “they’re handling it by isolating him.”

“It’s bad,” one team source told ESPN.com’s Ramona Shelburne. “It’s about as bad as it can get. There were trust issues already. Now there’s no trust.”

This would help explain the listless Lakers’ 48-point loss to Utah the other night. Young was not with the team on that trip due to a stomach ailment.

There is very much an NBA code that what gets said between teammates in the locker room (and on the team plane, etc.) stays between teammates. An “us against the world” mentality exists. While cheating by NBA players on their significant others is rampant, that in particular is an off-topic subject to let get outside the locker room. While it’s not known how the video got out, Russell’s actions would be seen by many players around the league as a betrayal of his teammates. None of them would sit next to him during a recent breakfast meeting, according to the report.

One Laker official told ESPN this was a “prank gone wrong” and the rookie was learning a hard lesson about maturity in the NBA.

Russell and the Lakers youth have learned a lot of hard lessons about life in the NBA and what it takes to win there this season. We’ll see if they grow from that or not.

Stephen Curry, Warriors move a victory closer to season wins record


OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Stephen Curry knocked down six 3-pointers on the way to 26 points, and the Golden State Warriors beat the Washington Wizards 102-94 on Tuesday night to stay on pace for the all-time wins record.

Klay Thompson followed back-to-back 40-point games with 16 as Golden State (67-7) stayed a game ahead of the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls’ pace during their 72-10 season. The Warriors must go 6-2 over their final eight games for the record.

Draymond Green had 15 points, 16 rebounds and nine assists to just miss back-to-back triple-doubles in the Warriors’ 54th straight regular-season home win and 36th consecutive this season.

Bradley Beal scored 17 for the Wizards, who lost their fourth straight to Golden State.

Data curated by <a href='http://www.pointafter.com&#039; target='_blank'

Curry, who scored 51 points with a career-high and franchise record-tying 11 3s in the first meeting Feb. 3, shot 9 for 20 overall and 6 of 8 from long range. He added seven rebounds and seven assists.

Curry (356) and Thompson (255) already had the most combined 3-pointers by a pair of teammates in a season. Reigning MVP Curry, the first player in NBA history with 300 3s in a season, has eight games left to chase 400. Thompson is aiming to top Curry's previous record of 286 3s.

Washington was content to keep pace on both ends with the Warriors and took advantage of Golden State's sloppy execution on the offensive end. Curry missed an open layup after going around Marcin Gortat and Thompson was called for traveling driving to the basket soon after with his team down by nine.

But the Warriors finished the first half on a 12-0 run for a 49-46 lead at the break.


Craig Sager worked the game for Turner Sports, his outlook as bright as his attire even after announcing last week his leukemia is no longer in remission.

"I think my demise has been prematurely reported," Sager said. "I think I'm going to kick this and make medical history and I really believe that."

The 64-year-old Sager is set to work Thursday in Houston, where he receives his chemotherapy treatments – eight days of chemo starting the final week of the regular season and into the first week of the playoffs.

Sager said there's "no doubt about it" that he'll work through the playoffs. He hopes to be assigned to San Antonio in the first round so he can go back and forth to Houston.

He was taking a redeye flight there after Tuesday's game with a doctor's appointment Wednesday morning.


During shootaround, Golden State got a pep talk from 10-year-old motivational speaker Ezra Frech. He was born without a left knee or fibula and had his lower leg amputated at age 2. Quite a perimeter shooter, Frech also joined in practice.

"He's an unbelievable kid," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. "He's actually a motivational speaker at 10. I didn't know such a thing existed, but as soon as he started talking, I realized that this is no joke. This kid is amazing."

A fifth-grader from Los Angeles and on spring break traveling with his father, Clayton, Frech hoped to see Curry.

"If he comes out here, I'll challenge him," Frech said with a smile, before quickly adding, "I'll probably lose."


Wizards: John Wall had his streak snapped of nine straight double-doubles – the longest such run among NBA guards this season. He had eight points and 11 assists. … Washington has lost 10 of 11 overall to the Warriors.

Warriors: Curry moved up the career 3-point list again. He passed Tim Hardaway (1,542) for 22nd and Eddie Jones (1,546) for 21st on the NBA's career list. … Thompson hit his 76th 3 of the month in the third, besting Curry's 75 3s last year for most ever in March.


Pistons hold off Durant-less Thunder, 88-82

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AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) — There would be no apologies from Stan Van Gundy after his Detroit Pistons caught a break against Oklahoma City.

Marcus Morris scored 24 points, and the Pistons took advantage of Kevin Durant‘s absence in an 88-82 victory over the Thunder on Tuesday night.

Oklahoma City rested Durant and Serge Ibaka, and the Thunder scored only nine points in the third quarter en route to their lowest-scoring game of the season.

“They’re not going to give us back the Denver game before the break when (the Pistons) had three starters missing,” said Van Gundy, Detroit’s coach. “People sit people out. That’s the way it goes.”

The Thunder rallied from a 15-point deficit, closing the gap to just one in the fourth, but Detroit was able to hold on late for another victory in its push for a playoff spot. The Thunder had their eight-game winning streak snapped. Russell Westbrook led Oklahoma City with 24 points on 8-of-28 shooting.

Andre Drummond had 13 points and 15 rebounds for the Pistons, and Tobias Harris added 17 points.

Data curated by PointAfter

The Pistons came into the night with a 2 1/2-game lead in the race for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, and the victory Tuesday actually moved them into seventh place, a half-game ahead of Indiana. Detroit trailed 48-46 at halftime before outscoring the Thunder 25-9 in the third quarter.

“I keep looking at the stat sheet and shaking my head,” said Oklahoma City’s Randy Foye, who scored nine points. “I know we didn’t have Kev tonight, and he’s obviously our MVP, but we have to win that game. We had terrible shot selection, and we kept turning over the ball. You can’t shoot yourself in the foot all night and expect to beat an NBA team.”

The Pistons led 68-53 after a 20-2 run, but Oklahoma City rallied in the fourth. Detroit led 75-74 before consecutive baskets by Morris and Reggie Jackson pushed the lead back to five. It was 79-77 after a 3-pointer by Westbrook, but Drummond made a free throw and Jackson slipped free for a dunk.

Another 3-pointer by Westbrook made it 84-82 with 8.8 seconds left, but Jackson made two free throws at the other end, and the Pistons were able to close out the victory.

The Thunder were held 28 points below their previous scoring average. Westbrook missed his first six shots from the field and finished the first quarter 1 of 9. Detroit had assists on its first eight field goals and led 25-21 after the first.

“We were ready for the two-headed monster, but if you find out K.D. is out, we can’t let our guards down,” Jackson said.


Van Gundy sat down at his news conference after the game and summed up the night as follows:

“I guarantee you, you will not see that on NBA classics.”

Detroit’s starting backcourt of Jackson and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope went 7 of 31 from the field.


Thunder coach Billy Donovan said before the game he can’t worry too much about who his team is facing when he decides to rest players down the stretch.

“We have to make decisions of what’s best for our team,” Donovan said. “It’s not necessarily who we’re playing against, but where we’re at right now – physically, mentally, emotionally. Games, minutes, all those things, I think you have to evaluate that after games and do what’s best for your team.”


Thunder: Oklahoma City fell to 6-8 in the second game of back-to-back sets. … The Thunder’s previous season low was 85 points against Boston on Nov. 15.

Pistons: Detroit has one game left in a nine-game homestand. The Pistons are 6-2 so far.


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Byron Scott’s tough love with youth continues after Lakers’ 48-point loss

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Absolutely nobody in a Laker uniform played well Monday night. Heck, the waterboy likely had an off night, too. Not one coach or player should be happy after a 48-point loss on the road to a desperate Jazz team looking to make the postseason. That was the worst loss of Kobe’s career and tied for the worst in Lakers’ franchise history.

It was ugly. Kobe shrugged it off basically asking what did you expect from a 15-win team with young players?

Byron Scott thought it was time for another tough love lesson for his young players. Via Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News.

“You have to show this organization that you deserve to be here and you understand what wearing that purple and gold is all about,” Lakers coach Byron Scott said. “I don’t think a lot of guys in that locker room understand that right now.”

That explains Scott’s skepticism on who will lead the Lakers’ franchise following Bryant’s departure.

“I don’t look at any of those guys as being our next Kobe,” Scott said. “They can be a piece of it or part of it. But not to get to that level that he has gotten to.”

Magic Johnson decided to pile on, too.

Some people within the Lakers’ organization liked Scott’s approach this season — D'Angelo Russell was not being professional with his work habits early and needed that tough love to bring him in line, the thinking goes. His ego was too big and needed to be corralled (something bordering on ironic in Kobe’s final season). The same tough love they think worked for Julius Randle, Larry Nance, and Jordan Clarkson.

Saying these final games are still a chance to improve and work on their games is a valid point.

But are any of those players still listening to Scott, or have his tactics lost them? A 48-point loss suggests the latter. We’ll see if a different coach has better luck next season.