Kurt Helin

Zach LaVine scores 14 in return to Bulls’ lineup

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CHICAGO (AP) — Zach LaVine scored 14 points in his first game in 11 months, rookie Lauri Markkanen added 19 points and the Chicago Bulls beat the Detroit Pistons 107-105 on Saturday night.

Chicago made 17 3-pointers and held off several late charges by the Pistons to win for the 13th time in its last 20 games.

LaVine was making his Bulls debut after being acquired from Minnesota in the Jimmy Butler trade. LaVine, who last season averaged 18.9 points in 47 contests, hadn’t played since he suffered a torn ACL against Detroit on Feb. 3.

Avery Bradley scored 26 points and Andre Drummond had 21 points and 15 rebounds for Detroit, which lost its sixth road game in seven tries.

Markkanen hit a 17-foot shot with 1:08 to go to give the Bulls a 106-105 lead. The game featured 23 lead changes and seven ties.

With LaVine on the court, the Bulls reached 100 points for the 17th time in 20 games after reaching the mark only eight times in their first 23 contests.

LaVine made his first shot, a 27-footer from the right of the key, before he assisted on Robin Lopez‘s basket inside. The fourth-year guard followed with an easy 15-footer at the 8:12 mark in the first quarter to give Chicago an early 12-11 lead.

 

Knicks waive Ramon Sessions, to sign Trey Burke for season

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Ramon Sessions started the first three games of the Knicks season, and after that has barely been seen or heard. Jarrett Jack has been a stabilizing veteran presence at the point, and Frank Ntilikina is the present and future at that position, showing real promise as a rookie.

With that, the Knicks are releasing Sessions and taking a flyer on Trey Burke at the point.

Burke is a score-first point guard who washed out both in Utah (he was third in Rookie of the Year voting in 2014 because he could score, but his game never evolved), then as a backup with the Wizards.

However, playing for Westchester in the G-League this season Burke has been impressive — and more well rounded, according to sources. He is averaging 26.6 points, 5.3 assists and is shooting 41.6 percent from three. He told CBSSports (via the NY Post) that he had to re-invent himself.

“I had to look myself in the mirror and be real with myself,” Burke told CBS. “I had to kind of stop lying to myself about I should be here, I should be this, this team should put me in this position when I wasn’t doing everything necessary to put myself in that position.”

“I am a playmaker naturally,” Burke said. “Guys ask, ‘Are you a point guard? Are you a shooting guard?’ I believe I am a point guard and a shooting guard. I believe I’m both: a combo guard, you might say. I believe I can run a team as a point guard, though, and I think that’s the biggest thing.”

A lot of players who were college stars have a tough adjustment to being an NBA role player, but if Burke got his head around that he’s halfway there.

Report: Utah’s Thabo Sefolosha to have season-ending knee surgery

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The Basketball Gods have had it in for the Jazz this season. After losing Gordon Hayward in free agency last summer, Utah has battled a lot of injuries, most notably a couple of knee injuries to center Rudy Gobert.

Now this: Thabo Sefolosha appears done for the season after injuring his knee against the Hornets on Friday, Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports reports.

The veteran swingman has been solid mostly off the bench for the Jazz this season, averaging 8.2 points per game, shooting 38 percent from three and playing solid defense in 21 minutes a night. On a Utah team that just cannot afford more injuries this will hurt.

Expect Jonas Jerebko and Joe Johnson to get more run with Sefolosha out.

 

 

Hornets’ Steve Clifford opens up about severe headaches that forced time away

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“For me, sleeping well could mean the difference between putting up 30 points and living with 15.”

That was Steve Nash, one of the biggest and earliest proponents of sleep in the league. Because of the long season and travel, the NBA is a recovery league and veteran players understand how eating right and getting sleep plays a big part of that. As teams use more and more technology, more detailed physiological tracking and science to improve their players, they have pushed for more sleep — changing around traditional travel schedules, canceling morning shootarounds, and more. Nash always got his eight hours. Kobe Bryant was big on getting sleep. Many NBA players use naps on game days to help their bodies recover.

Coaches often don’t get that time.

Charlotte’s Steve Clifford didn’t. NBA coaches are workaholics in general, especially the guys who did not come out of an NBA background like Clifford. He played Division III ball, coached in Division II, and when he got a chance on Jeff Van Gundy’s staff (and later Stan Van Gundy’s) he outworked everyone. He became a respected head coach who earned his gig, but he put in the work to get there. Sleep was the casualty.

That lack of sleep led to headaches, which is what forced him away from the team. Clifford opened up about all of this to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN in a fantastic, must-read piece.

“But this issue now, the headaches, was not even close to the heart (where he had stents put in years before). That week before I stepped away, and that morning in the office, it scared me. It was much more significant than the heart was, and I’ve never had anything physically that concerned me as much as this did….

“For the most part, the diagnosis was sleep deprivation,” Clifford told ESPN. “The headaches and the cause of the headaches were a lack of regular sleep and the stress that goes along with coaching. There were two ways to treat it: Stronger medication or stepping away from coaching, stopping the travel, getting regular sleep, diet and exercise.

“But getting on medication would only be a Band-Aid. It could get me through another day, a week, a month, but here was my decision: Long-term health versus coaching right now.”

Clifford, wisely, chose to get healthy. It took months of regular sleep — including naps — and changing other aspects of his life to get right. Not having the stress of coaching helped.

Next Wednesday he returns to the sideline, but with a management plan and a new outlook — Clifford is going to get his sleep. He’s going to take care of himself, and the Hornets — he has to do one to do the other.

It’s something a lot of us could learn from.

It’s worth your time to read the entire story.

Utah’s Rodney Hood fined $35,000 for slapping phone out of fans hand after ejection

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It’s just the way of the world now — whenever a player enters/leaves the court, there are fans with their phones out videoing whatever happens.

After Rodney Hood was ejected from the Jazz’s road win over the Wizards — he must have said something “special” to Tony Brothers because there was no hesitation — he slapped the phone out of a fan’s hand as he went to the locker room.

Friday the league announced that cost Hood a $35,000 fine.

Hood gets off lucky there. The league comes down hard on negative player/fan interactions and this was him contacting a fan just sitting there videoing him. It could have been a suspension. The fine is only one percent of his salary, Hood should pay it and move along.