Al Jefferson, Hornets drop 76ers to 0-13

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — The times that Al Jefferson is most confident he’ll have a good game are not when the Hornets center is going against a rookie, and not even when he’s facing a winless team.

Both of those occasions happened Friday in Charlotte’s 113-88 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers. But what made Jefferson salivate most was seeing how the Sixers were defending him – with only first-year player Jahlil Okafor.

“What made me start smelling blood is when I noticed they weren’t double-teaming,” he said.

It doesn’t happen that often. When it does, Jefferson tries to take advantage by getting to the places on the floor where he loves to work his post moves the most.

He missed his first two attempts Friday, but sank the next six on his way to 18 first-half points that helped give the Hornets the kind of decisive lead the Sixers (0-13) have not been able to rebound from this season.

Charlotte led by as many as 26 points before the 76ers outscored the Hornets 29-23 in the third quarter to slice the advantage to 81-70 with 1:06 left in that quarter.

But Charlotte rookie Frank Kaminsky had seven of the Hornets’ next nine points spanning the end of the third and beginning of the fourth quarter to push the lead back to a safe 15.

Jefferson finished with 26 points on 11-for-19 shooting. He added 10 rebounds and five blocks.

Charlotte improved to 7-6, and is now 5-1 at home after winning its last five home contests.

Nerlens Noel led Philadelphia with 16 points on 7-of-9 shooting in his first game coming off the bench this season.

The 76ers are within four losses of matching last season’s franchise-worst start and are five defeats away from tying the NBA record, set by the 2009 Nets, for longest losing streak to begin a season.

Philadelphia, which opened a six-game road trip, is three away from tying the NBA record of 26 straight losses. The 76ers already share that dubious mark with Cleveland, with Philadelphia’s skid from Jan. 31-March 27, 2014, matching the Cavaliers’ between Nov. 20, 2010-Feb. 9, 2011.

“We preach and we talk about it (morale) all the time,” Sixers coach Brett Brown said. “They give us their attitude and their effort; I am with them unconditionally. . They bust their tails. They are 20-year-old kids and I love coaching them. I respect them and we believe the good days will add up.”

 

FEELING THE PAIN

One Hornets player who understands the Sixers’ winless plight is point guard Kemba Walker. Walker was part of the 2011-12 Charlotte team that was 7-59 in the lockout-shortened season.

He sees a light at the end of the tunnel for these Sixers.

“It’s tough, but I definitely have to commend the players and the coach and that coaching staff because those guys always come to play, each and every night,” Walker said. “Even when I’m at home and watching League Pass, they’re always in games. They’re always challenging teams, despite their record. They really have some great young talent. And you know, it’s a process. One day those guys are going to be really good.”

 

Bulls big man Cristiano Felicio out 4-8 weeks with broken wrist

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This is not going to impact the Bulls’ rotations — Cristiano Felicio has yet to touch the court for the Bulls this season — but it’s a setback for a player trying to prove he belongs in the NBA.

Felicio fractured his wrist during the Bulls practice Monday and will be out at least a month, reports K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago.

Cristiano Felicio, who has yet to land on the active roster this season, broke his right wrist after falling in Monday’s practice, according to coach Jim Boylen. The Bulls’ coach said Felicio will miss four to eight weeks with the injury.

“We had the X-ray. It did not show up on the X-ray. Then we had the CT scan and it showed up on the CT scan,” Boylen said. “We’re going to do an MRI (Wednesday) just to let them give us a little more certainty on maybe how much separation there is in there and how much time it will be.”

The Bulls gambled on Felicio a couple of years ago and signed him to a four-year, $32 million contract. That roll of the dice has come up snake eyes so far, with Felicio playing a limited role the first two seasons — and this season no role at all.

It is expected the Bulls will try to use Felicio’s salary in any trade packages they put together closer to the deadline, this injury would not impact that.

Asked about getting stabbed in back, Chris Paul says trade from Rockets

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Chris Paul has gotten traded three times in his career.

New Orleans sent him to the Clippers – but only after David Stern nixed a deal with the Lakers – in 2011. In 2017, Paul engineered a trade to the Rockets by opting in. Then, in an unprecedented star swap, Houston dealt Paul to the Thunder for Russell Westbrook last summer.

Paul recently discussed trades with comedian Kevin Hart.

Hart:

Why is it always such a crazy time when it comes to these trades and whether they’re happening. You’ve been part of some big conversations. Is it at a point where it’s just business, or is it becoming personal?

Paul:

Every situation is different. But the team is going to do whatever they want to do. They’ll tell you one thing and do a smooth nother thing.

Hart:

That’s the business side.

Paul:

Exactly.

Hart:

Do you feel like there’s been times where, “Damn, that’s a little eye-opening. I got stabbed in the back”?

Paul:

Absolutely. This last situation was one of them. The GM there in Houston, he don’t owe me nothing. You know what I mean? He may tell me one thing but do another thing. But you just understand that that’s what it is.

Rockets general manager Daryl Morey is an easy target right now. Many people around the NBA resent him tweeting support for Hong Kong protesters (who are trying to maintain and expand their freedoms) and costing the league significant revenue in China.

But, in this case, Morey brought it upon himself. He said in June he wouldn’t trade Paul then did so, anyway.

Maybe that was to protect Paul’s feelings if he stayed in Houston. In that case, Morey could tell Paul he believed in him all along. There’d be no way to know Morey was fibbing. Now that Paul is gone, Paul being upset is someone else’s problem. It’s a common tactic by executives.

Paul reportedly requested a trade from the Rockets, but he denied it. I don’t necessarily believe Paul. There was plenty of evidence of tension between him and Harden. It’d be pretty conniving to request a trade then throw Morey under the bus for making the trade.

But Paul’s denial of a trade request is on the record. So is Morey’s declaration that he wouldn’t trade Paul.

Morey must own that.

Report: Rockets have lost about $7M in China revenue this season, $20M overall

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Rockets general manager Daryl Morey’s tweet supporting Hong Kong protesters, who are trying to maintain and expand their freedoms, has cost the NBA and its players a lot of money in China.

Probably no team has been harder hit than Houston.

Early estimates pegged the Rockets’ potential lost revenue at $25 million. It apparently hasn’t been quite that bad yet, but it’s already close. And the effects are trickling down to Houston star James Harden.

Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN:

League sources say the franchise has lost more than $7 million in revenue this season from cancelled Chinese sponsorship agreements and nearly $20 million overall when terminated multiyear deals are calculated.

For their superstar James Harden, the losses could be considerable if no resolution is reached. A source says Harden’s endorsement agreement with Shanghai’s SPD Bank Credit Card is imperiled.

This is why NBA teams are preparing for a lower-than-projected salary cap. It’s also why the union is planning to better educate its players on global issues.

The money involved is significant.

Nets, CEO David Levy part ways after fewer than two months

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Gersson Rosas – who lasted just three months as Mavericks general manager – was the standard for a short front-office tenure in the NBA.

David Levy, whom the Nets hired as CEO in September, is out after fewer than two months.

Nets release:

The Brooklyn Nets and Barclays Center today announced that David Levy and the organization have mutually agreed to part ways. Oliver Weisberg, Chief Executive Officer of J Tsai Sports and NBA Alternate Governor of the Nets, has been named interim Chief Executive Officer of the Nets and Barclays Center.

“I want to thank David for his collaboration over the past several months and wish him well in his future endeavors,” said Weisberg. “As we enter an exciting next chapter of our organization, it’s important that ownership and management are completely aligned on our go forward plan. We are proud of the culture of the Brooklyn Nets under the leadership of General Manager Sean Marks and Head Coach Kenny Atkinson, and we look forward to continue bringing the best experience to our fans.”

This shockingly short tenure raises questions. Mainly: What happened? Absent other information, good luck convincing people there’s not a scandalous story behind this.

The Nets generally appear to be in a good place. They have Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and a good amount of young talent. Brooklyn (4-5) has been mediocre, but this was always going to be a limbo season before Durant returns.

There have been a couple controversial incidents. Nets owner Joe Tsai spoke up during the NBA’s China-Hong Kong-Daryl Morey crisis, toeing the Chinese government’s line. A report also emerged about Nets officials being concerned with Irving’s mood swings.

Does either relate to Levy’s exit?

This vague statement leaves the door open to speculation. That isn’t necessarily fair to the people involved, but it’s what they’ll have to deal with.