Phil Jackson wasn’t sure why he was in, but Ron Artest made the play of the day. It’s all about the little things, like just boxing out.
In what has been a disappointing rookie class so far, Charlotte appears to have a steal drafting P.J. Washington at No. 12. The power forward out of Kentucky has started every game for the Hornets this season and is loving the spacing in the NBA game, scoring efficiently in the paint while shooting 40.6 percent from beyond the arc on 3.4 attempts per game, plus is averaging 5.3 rebounds a game.
Now the Hornets are going to be without him, likely for a couple of weeks, due to a fractured fifth finger on his right hand (pinkie). He suffered it in the fourth quarter against Chicago Friday night.
While the Hornets officially only list him as out for Sunday against the Pacers, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reports he’s going to be out through Christmas, which would mean at least five games.
Usually this would mean more minutes for Marvin Williams, but he is out with a sore right knee. Most likely, coach James Borego slides an undersized Miles Bridges over to the four — which had been the preseason plan until Washington surprised everyone — but he has a variety of small-ball players who likely will get a little run there.
The 12-16 Hornets are hanging around the playoff picture, just 1.5 games out of the eight seed (Orlando).
CHICAGO (AP) — After blowing several late leads to lose games, the Chicago Bulls were able to flip the script Saturday night.
Zach LaVine scored 31 points and converted a decisive three-point play in the Bulls’ 109-106 victory over the short-handed and weary Los Angeles Clippers.
Chicago trailed by five points with less than two minutes to go. Tied at 106, the Bulls inbounded with 5.4 seconds left. LaVine got the ball near the 3-point line, drove to his right and was fouled by Montrezl Harrell as he scored with 2 seconds left.
Zach LaVine gets to the rack for the finish AND-1 😤 to the seal the W for the Bulls
— Bulls Talk (@NBCSBulls) December 15, 2019
Paul George then missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
“We made big plays,” LaVine said. “I think that’s what it comes down to, making plays.
“We’ve been playing good, but we just haven’t been able to get that win in the last two minutes, three minutes of the game. Hopefully, we can start stringing some together.”
Harrell had 30 points and George had 27 for Los Angeles. The Clippers had won four in a row.
Besides playing for the third time in four days at the end of a six-game trip, the Clippers were without Kawhi Leonard (injury management, left knee soreness), Lou Williams (right calf), Patrick Beverly (concussion) and JaMychal Green (tailbone contusion).
This was the eighth game Leonard has missed. He scored 42 points Friday night at Minnesota.
George was asked if the poor finish was a result of fatigue. “Not necessarily,” he said. “This isn’t new. We just got outplayed tonight.”
Los Angeles led by 15 points midway through the second quarter before Chicago closed the first half with a 19-6 run to pull to 57-55.
The Bulls continued the surge early in the third, scoring 17 straight points for a 75-61 lead. The 75 points were two more than Chicago scored Friday night in an 83-73 home loss to Charlotte.
The Clippers answered with a 12-1 run to trim the deficit to 76-73 and pulled to 81-79 in the final minute of the third on a three-point play by Harrell. LaVine then hit a 3-pointer to give Chicago an 84-79 lead entering the fourth.
In the final three minutes, George hit a pair of free throws to break a tie at 98 and Landry Shamet hit a 3-pointer for a 103-98 Clippers lead with 2 1/2 minutes remaining. With L.A. up by five a minute later, LaVine and Valentine hit 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions — sandwiched around one of two free throws by George — for a tie at 106 with 47.9 seconds left.
This summer, Blake Griffin had arthroscopic surgery to clean up his left knee, it cost him the first 10 games of the season.
Saturday night, Griffin sat the second half against the Rockets because that same knee is sore.
Blake Griffin (left knee soreness) will not play in the second half.
— Johnny Kane (@JohnnyKaneFSD) December 15, 2019
That’s concerning, although there have been no further reports on the severity of the issue. Griffin is averaging 17.4 points and 4.8 rebounds a game — both career lows — and remains the fulcrum of the Pistons offense.
It was just one of those flukey plays.
*Not Highlight, Luka steps on Nunn's foot and hurts his ankle pic.twitter.com/Jfn1eQAuix
— The Render (@TheRenderNBA2) December 15, 2019
Fortunately, X-rays came back negative, but Doncic is not returning to the game.
#Mavericks guard Luka Dončić (right ankle sprain) will not return to tonight’s game. His X-Rays came back negative.
— Mavs PR (@MavsPR) December 15, 2019
It will be tomorrow morning before Dallas knows the severity of the injury and how long Doncic will be out, how his ankle responds to a night of treatment will determine a lot. There are good signs, with Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reporting it is a moderate sprain.
Mavs teammates told ESPN that Luka Doncic was working out on the underwater treadmill under the supervision of the team’s athletic trainers at halftime. That’s an encouraging sign that his right ankle sprain isn’t severe.
— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) December 15, 2019
In his second season, Doncic has exploded on the scene and played at an MVP level: 30.4 points, 9.9 rebounds, and 9.3 assists per game. He is, at age 20, as good as any pick-and-roll ball handler in the league, and is the engine for a Dallas offense that has been the best in the NBA this season. Dallas’ offense is 6.1 points per 100 possessions better when he is on the court.
It goes without saying if he is out for an extended period that is terrible news for 17-7 Dallas, which currently sits third in the West.