NBA makes it priority to “dramaticly reduce” four games in five nights, back-to-backs

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NEW YORK — If there is one thing that lowers the level of play in NBA games, its players being tired from travel condensed games. There is statistical evidence that on the second night of back-to-backs teams play 1.5 points per 100 possessions worse. It gets even worse when teams play four games in five nights.

Players complain about the density of the schedule, and coaches deal with it by resting key guys in the middle of the season — we’re looking at you, Gregg Popovich. But he’s far from the only one.

Adam Silver wants to reduce those condensed schedule games  — starting next year.

“The issue of back-to-back games, the issue of four games out of five nights: One of the things we’re hoping to address, even for next season, is to come as close as we came to eliminating the four games out of five nights,” Silver said in the commissioner’s annual All-Star address to the media. “It’s a math formula at the end of the day in terms of the number of days in the season and the number of games we play, but we think we can make a dramatic reduction there.”

Silver took care in his remarks to say that the league thinks it can dramatically reduce its four games in five nights almost immediately. Back-to-back games, however, will take time to really cut down.

“But I think we can make a dramatic impact there,” Silver said of the back-to-backs. “That may take more than one season. We’ll have a reduction based on some additional television windows.”

Right now, TNT broadcasts showcase games on Thursday night, and there are usually just those two games, maybe one other that night. ABC (Disney also wants some limited competition on League Pass on the nights it broadcasts. Silver said the league has reached out to them about loosening those restrictions, freeing up nights to have games. The league also has reached out to the arenas around the league trying to open up more nights and options, Silver said.

The other option is to add more dates to the schedule. Silver said he would talk to the teams and owners about reducing the numbers of preseason games — not training camp days and practices, but reduce some of the games — then start the season a week earlier (or so) compared to the usual start around Halloween.

“I have talked to a lot of our basketball people about preseason,” Silver said. “And my sense is that, while they feel a training camp, and a fairly long training camp, is still critically important, especially because we have a lot of young players in this league and there isn’t a lot of practice once the season starts, I don’t think they think the preseason games are as valuable as they once were.”

This change would be good for the league. Very good.

It’s not going to eliminate injuries — particularly not the freakish catastrophic ones — but it can reduce the games lost to “soreness” or other symptoms of the bumps and grinds of a season. You can see more of guys like Kobe Bryant or Dwyane Wade, who get more rest for their bodies in the schedule rather than by missing games. It’s good for the fans, good for the product.

It’s another smart move by Silver, if he can pull this off.

 

Chris Paul, Rajon Rondo, Brandon Ingram all ejected for punches-thrown fight

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LOS ANGELES — It’s the second game of the season and players reaction like it was May. Or June.

Emotions were running high between the Lakers and Rockets all night. Los Angeles’ Brandon Ingram was particularly frustrated with James Harden drawing foul calls (welcome to a big club, Brandon) and after Harden drew another with 4:13 left in the game Ingram let his frustration go and pushed Harden. That was a quick technical, there was jawing, and Lance Stephenson stepped in to pull Ingram out and protect him from himself (yes, Stephenson was the level head… it was weird to type that).

Usually in an NBA “fight” that’s when things calm down.

Instead, that’s when things went crazy.

Chris Paul and Rajon Rondo, two guys who don’t like each other much, were jawing after the play when CP3 took his finger and pushed Rondo in the face — and Rondo responded by throwing a punch. Paul said later Rondo spit on him (you can’t see that in the initial video).

At that point, everyone was in.

That’s when Ingram came sprinting back into the scene and threw another punch. He was quickly pulled out of the pile, but the damage was done.

Once everything settled down, the ejections came — Ingram, Rondo, and Paul were all gone. Each of them can also expect a suspension to come down, Rondo and Ingram will certainly get multiple games for throwing punches.

The Rockets went on to win the game, 124-115.

C.J. McCollum breaks Bryn Forbes ankles, drains three, Blazers bench LOVES it

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Bryn Forbes was going to be the third-string point guard for the Spurs, but injuries to Dejounte Murray and Derrick White thrust him into the starting lineup.

Saturday night, C.J. McCollum schooled him. Broke Forbes ankles then drained the three over the top of him.

But the best part of this is the bench reaction.

Damn, that’s cold.

McCollum had 24 and Damian Lillard had 29, and the Blazers beat the Spurs 121-108.

Watch J.J. Redick’s game-winning three, it lifts 76ers past Magic 116-115

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PHILADELPHIA (AP) — JJ Redick hit a 3-pointer with 17 seconds left to lift the Philadelphia 76ers over the Orlando Magic 116-115 on Saturday night. You can see the video above.

Redick had his best game since moving to Philadelphia’s bench at the start of the season, scoring 31 points on 10-of-20 shooting, including eight 3-pointers.

Aaron Gordon had a chance to tie it with 10 seconds remaining but missed his second free throw, and a desperation heave by Terrance Ross missed the net entirely.

Joel Embiid had 32 points and 10 rebounds for the 76ers, including 19 points by halftime. He did it with an outside game in the first half but was more of a force down low after intermission.

Dario Saric scored 13 points and Robert Covington had 12 as the 76ers improved to 2-1 this season.

Evan Fournier had 31 points to lead Orlando. Nikola Vucevic added 27 points and Gordon had 20.

Ben Simmons left the game after the first quarter with a tight back, meaning Philadelphia had to lean that much more on Embiid and Redick.

With Simmons out, Markelle Fultz was given an opportunity to play extended minutes and run the offense. Fultz finished with eight points on 4-of-11 shooting and added seven assists with only one turnover.

However, with the game on the line, 76ers coach Brett Brown opted to use T.J. McConnell at the point and kept Fultz on the bench.

High scores have been common in the early part of the NBA season as teams are pushing the pace and trying more shots, especially from deep.

Both teams shot lights out from 3-point territory. The Sixers, paced by Redick, shot 17 of 34 (50 percent) while the Magic, led by Fournier’s six 3-pointers, shot 16 of 29 (55.2 percent).

Thirteen players attempted shots from beyond the arc, eight for Orlando and five for Philadelphia.

 

Young guys out: Sixers’ Ben Simmons, Knicks’ Kevin Knox leave games with (hopefully) minor injuries

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When the team’s young star goes down, or heads back to the locker room mid-game with a hitch in his step, an entire fan base holds their breath.

That happened tonight in Philadelphia with Ben Simmons and New York with Kevin Knox, but fortunately neither seems to be serious.

Simmons had hit a couple of layups but ran back up the court gingerly, like he was in pain, before asking out of the game at the 4:19 mark of the first quarter. He is not returning.

Simmons has been tearing it up for Philadelphia, averaging 16 points, 14 rebounds, and 9.5 assists per game through the Sixers first two. Philadelphia is off until Tuesday when they start a back-to-back in Detroit then head to Milwaukee.

New York’s Knox went down after Boston’s Terry Rozier tried to cut Knox off in transition and fouled him.

The Knicks announced it was a sprained ankle.

Knox drags that ankle behind him in an awkward way after the collision, let’s hope it’s nothing more than a mild sprain.

Both a tight back and a sprained ankle are things that can be worse the next day, keep your eyes out for updates on these guys.