Bogdanovic leads Nets to 1st win, 106-98 over Houston

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HOUSTON (AP) — Coach Lionel Hollins and the Brooklyn Nets have been working hard all season with nothing to show for it.

That work finally paid off Wednesday night with their first win of the season.

Bojan Bogdanovic came off the bench to score a season-high 22 points with nine rebounds and lead the Nets to a 106-98 victory over the Houston Rockets.

The Nets entered the game 0-7 and the Rockets had won four straight after opening the season 0-3.

“When you get a win it validates all the preaching and all the working that you’re doing,” Hollins said. “When you do get a victory you can say: `Hey, this is what we’re talking about.’ Because in that victory there’s a lot of things that I’ve been preaching and other coaches have been preaching.”

Brooklyn scored six straight points to turn a tie game into a 99-93 lead with 3 1/2 minutes remaining. Thomas Robinson led the way in that stretch, scoring four points highlighted by a dunk after a steal.

Marcus Thornton made a 3-pointer for Houston, but Bogdanovic hit one with 1:37 left to stretch the lead to 102-96.

“It was the first time we didn’t have black holes in our game,” Bogdanovic said. “That’s the biggest reason why we won.”

James Harden led Houston with 23 points, cooling off after scoring 43 and 46 in the last two games.

The victory was Brooklyn’s first in Houston since March 13, 2006, ending an eight-game skid.

Joe Johnson added 16 points and 10 assists for Brooklyn. Brook Lopez had 14 points and 12 rebounds.

“We responded to their runs,” Lopez said. “We played our most complete game of the season. Obviously it’s good to get that first one. It’s a breakthrough.”

The Nets scored nine consecutive points, capped by a 3-pointer by Wayne Ellington, to take a 91-87 lead with 6 1/2 minutes remaining. Dwight Howard missed two layups on consecutive possessions to leave Houston empty-handed.

Howard had 10 points, 17 rebounds and five blocks.

“I’m worried about our team right now,” Houston coach Kevin McHale said. “We haven’t caught a rhythm yet. I’ve said it all since we’ve been together. We haven’t been able to put together long runs of just good, solid basketball.”

A layup by Trevor Ariza ended a drought of more than three minutes for the Rockets after that. That was the start of a 6-2 run that tied it at 93-93 with less than five minutes left.

The Rockets trailed by six at halftime but used an 18-6 run to take a 79-68 lead with just more than three minutes left in the third quarter. Harden, Ariza, Thornton and Patrick Beverley all made 3-pointers for Houston in that span.

An 11-4 spurt by Brooklyn cut the lead to 83-79 entering the fourth quarter.

Brooklyn scored the last six points of the first half to lead 55-49.

TIP-INS

Nets: Rookie Rondae Hollis-Jefferson started and played the first 7:49 of the game before sitting out until the fourth quarter. He finished with four rebounds and an assist. …. Thaddeus Young added 13 points.

Rockets: F Terrence Jones returned after missing the last five games with a cut on his right eyelid. He had four rebounds. … Beverley returned after missing the last two games with a concussion. … G/F K.J. McDaniels was assigned to Houston’s D-League Rio Grande Valley on Wednesday. … McHale said rookie Sam Dekker is dealing with a back problem, but will likely join McDaniels with Rio Grande Valley when he gets healthy.

 

Shaq donates a year’s rent to a paralyzed Atlanta boy

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ATLANTA (AP) — Basketball Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal has donated a year’s rent in a new home to an Atlanta woman whose 12-year-old son was paralyzed in a shooting at a football game.

O’Neal tells WXIA-TV  that Isaiah Payton’s family had been living in a one-bedroom apartment that wasn’t accessible for people with disabilities.

“It’s just sad. It could have been any one of us,” Shaq told the Atlanta station. “It could have been my son. It could’ve been your cousin. She was living in a one-bedroom apartment with her two boys, so we found her a house in a nice area.”

Now they have a home in a good neighborhood. He says he’s helping furnish the home and will pay its rent for the next year.

Isaiah was shot through the spine in August after a football scrimmage between two high schools. Sixteen-year-old Damean Spear also was wounded and treated for minor injuries. Isaiah’s mother, Allison Woods, has said relearning how to care for Isaiah meant she had to leave her job, adding financial stress to her emotional turmoil.

Jazz reportedly extend contract of coach Quin Snyder, locking him down well into future

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Quin Snyder has evolved into one of the best coaches in the NBA (and my pick to win Coach of the Year this season). He’s built a development program and system in Utah that has turned Rudy Gobert into a two-time Defensive Player of the Year, Donovan Mitchell into the face of a franchise, and Joe Ingles into a guy other teams covet. His players like and respect Snyder, and he has worked well with the front office of Dennis Lindsey and Justin Zanik.

So the Jazz are locking him up with a contract extension beyond the two seasons remaining on his deal. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN broke the news.

Utah Jazz coach Quin Snyder has agreed to a long-term contract extension, league sources tell ESPN. Snyder had two years left on his deal, and a new contract extends multiple years beyond that term, sources said.

After upgrading the team’s talent base over the summer, locking Snyder into an extension had been a top organizational priority.

Jazz fans should be ecstatic about this.

Snyder has built a system team in Utah, one that moves the ball beautifully on offense, and that has been tough to defend in the regular season, with the Jazz winning 50 games last season. Utah has made it to the second round of the playoffs the past two seasons, but when the level of play made that leap a lot of the system gets taken away by good defenses, and the Utah offense became Donovan Mitchell against the world. It didn’t work, Mitchell (still just 22) wasn’t fully ready and there was not enough shooting around him.

This past summer, the Jazz added Mike Conley at point guard and Bojan Bogdanovic on the wing, two excellent shooters who also can create off the dribble. Expectations are high in Utah.

Whatever happens, Snyder is their coach now for a long time.

Giannis Antetokounmpo says he learned from Kawhi Leonard: “He was calm”

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Milwaukee was up 2-0 in last season’s Eastern Conference Finals on Toronto, having won those games by an average of 15 points. Giannis Antetokounmpo had scored 54 points, pulled down 31 rebounds, dished out 11 assists, and was looking every bit the MVP.

Then the games shifted to Toronto, Kawhi Leonard took over — including guarding Antetokounmpo more — and the Raptors rattled off four straight wins to take the series on their way to the NBA title. The Greek Freak still averaged 20.4 points a night in those final four games, but the buckets were much harder to come by.

Milwaukee returns this season as the Eastern Conference favorites and legit title contenders, in part because of what they learned from that loss. Antetokounmpo told Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports he learned a lot directly from Leonard in that series.

“I learned a lot from him,” Antetokounmpo said. “He knocked down free throws. He was calm. When double-teams came, he was swinging the ball but getting it right back. He was aggressive. He was calm but he was on a mission.”

Leonard is the living embodiment of the old John Wooden axiom “be quick, don’t hurry.” He’s not rushed, he’s rarely forced into shots he doesn’t want to take or plays he doesn’t want to make.  That’s true of all champions on some level. LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan all bring an inner calm.

If Antetokounmpo brings that to his game, the Bucks are one big step closer to a title.

Domantas Sabonis on trade rumors: ‘I know exactly how the Pacers feel about me now’

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The Indiana Pacers have started to explore the trade market for Domantas Sabonis. There are logical reasons for this: Sabonis is good (he was second in Sixth Man of the Year voting last season), yet he and the Pacers are nowhere near agreement on a contract extension, and the Pacers already paid big money for Myles Turner to be their center, how much do they want to pay Sabonis, too?

That’s sound logic if you’re in the Pacers’ front office.

If you’re Sabonis, it can feel like a slap in the face to a guy who put in a lot of sweat and passion for the franchise. That’s what Sabonis sounded like in this quote, via Scott Agnes of The Athletic.

The Pacers are not talking about the report, which started with the well connected and reliable Sam Amick at The Athletic.

Pacers’ brass needs to talk about this with Sabonis (and likely already have, behind closed doors). If the Pacers trade him, it’s likely not until after Dec. 15 at the earliest (when most players signed this summer can be included in a deal) and probably closer to the February trade deadline. That’s a lot of season to play out, and Sabonis remains a vital part of the Indiana rotation.

There is likely to be a lot of interest in Sabonis on the market. However, because he’s a center (a position teams are careful not to overspend on in today’s market) and in the last year of his rookie deal — meaning he becomes a restricted free agent next summer and gets more expensive — teams are not going to overpay for him. Right now the Pacers are asking for too much and interested teams are lowballing their offers. The sides will meet in the middle.

That middle could shift if Sabonis has a rough start to the season. Both sides need him to play well and feel comfortable, whatever is going on with the business side of his contract.