<span class="vcard">Kurt Helin</span>

San Antonio Spurs v Alba Berlin

Former Xavier star Jamel McLean hits buzzer-beater to lift Alba Berlin past Spurs (VIDEO)


San Antonio is on one of those NBA brand-expanding tours through Europe, and you know Gregg Popovich hates it. Despite the nice German Rieslings has gotten to sample.

Wednesday the Spurs took on German powerhouse Alba Berlin in Berlin and… damn that is a nice runner by former Xavier standout Jamel McLean to beat the Spurs. Granted, this was pretty much the Spurs “guys just here for camp” roster out there, but still that’s a quality win for the Europeans.

The key Spurs looked pretty good. Tony Parker had 28 points to lead the Spurs, Kawhi Leonard had 14 points, while Tim Duncan had 14 points and 10 rebounds.

Cavaliers’ Kyrie Irving sprains ankle in practice, says it’s “not serious”

Maccabi Tel Aviv v Cleveland Cavaliers

The first reports were tweeted out early Wednesday by Brian Windhorst of ESPN — Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving was seen walking around Rio in Brazil (where the Cavs are for a preseason game) in a walking boot.

That’s not good, although NBA teams now use the walking boot on just about any grade of ankle or foot injury. As a precaution.

And that’s what it turned out to be — mostly precautionary. X-rays were negative, there was no serious damage, then Chris Haynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer caught up with Irving.

It’s preseason, there is no reason at all to have Irving push through this. In the least. Even if it’s the regular season you want to be cautious — once the ligaments in an ankle are stretched during a sprain it’s easier to re-sprain the ankle. They need to let it fully heal.

Although for Irving it’s got to suck dragging a leg in a walking boot around Rio. That’s not going to look cool on Copacabana beach.

Bulls’ Noah, Wizards’ Pierce, fined; Nene, three other Wizards suspended regular season game for preseason altercation

Paul Pierce, Tom Thibodeau, Joakim Noah

That was silly preseason posturing — Paul Pierce with the unnecessarily hard foul, Joakim Noah playing enforcer and pushing Pierce, Pierce responding by poking Noah in the head.

Well, it’s going to cost them — $15,000 each.

The NBA announced Wednesday that because of the above incident from both team’s first preseason game Noah and Pierce are suspended for their teams’ first regular season game. In addition, each man has been fined $15,000, Noah for shoving Pierce and Pierce for poking Noah in the forehead.

But that’s not the big hit for Washington.

The Wizards’ DeJuan Blair, Nene, Daniel Orton and Xavier Silas all are suspended for the first game of the regular season for leaving the bench area during the altercation.

So just to be clear, the Wizards open the season Oct. 29 in Miami they will be without their starting center plus they lost some bench depth for the night. Plus Paul Pierce has to write a check.

All because… preseason?

In first preseason game, Pistons start Andre Drummond, Josh Smith, while Greg Monroe comes off bench

Detroit Pistons Media Day

We all know, it’s preseason. It often has all the truth of a politician’s promised on the campaign trail — what happens here and what happens when the season starts can be very different things.

Still, it’s hard to ignore this — Greg Monroe came off the bench for the Pistons in their preseason opener. Andre Drummond and Josh Smith got the starts.

So, Stan Van Gundy, why don’t you tell us how this doesn’t matter (via The Detroit News).

“It’ll be different every game in the preseason,” Van Gundy said. “Seriously, it was random as much as anything. We knew the 10 we wanted to play today. But it was pretty random.”

I have no doubt that Van Gundy plans over the next few weeks to throw a lot of crazy lineup combinations out there to start seeing what sticks and what doesn’t. Because the only thing we really know, what last season showed us clearly, is that Drummond/Smith/Monroe can’t all play together.

But “random?” Nope. Van Gundy has seen something in practice that sent him to this combination first.

Now it’s Monroe’s turn to tell us how starting is not what’s important to him.

“I don’t have to handle it. I have to play,” Monroe said after the game. “That’s not gonna change, whether I start or come off the bench, how I play. He (Van Gundy) makes the decision. I’m gonna play.”

Monroe is playing on a qualifying offer, refusing to sign the contract extension the Pistons offered this past summer. In that sense, he does just have to play — if he performs well and puts up numbers his stock goes up next season and so do his earnings. Teams and scouts will see his level of play whether he starts or comes off the bench.

For the record, Monroe scored a team-high 22 points with 10 of those coming in the fourth quarter. Smith was 4-of-11 to score nine points plus he had five rebounds against the Bulls.

Hornets lose guard Gerald Henderson 1-2 weeks with hamstring injury

Charlotte Hornets Media Day
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Gerald Henderson is in a fight for a starting spot in Charlotte — Kemba Walker is the point guard and Lance Stephenson will play the two or the three, with Henderson or Michael Kidd-Gilchrist as the other starter.

So this news is a setback for him — Henderson will be out 1-2 weeks with a hamstring strain, reports Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer.

Henderson averaged 14 points a game starting 77 games for Charlotte last season. His a veteran and knows coach Steve Clifford’s system, but this gives MKG a chance to shine and get some more run to develop chemistry with Stephenson and the other starters.

Still, Henderson should be back for the last couple preseason games and will be good to go when the season tips off.