Nowitzki, Mavs hold off Porzingis comeback, Mavs beat Knicks

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NEW YORK (AP) — Dirk Nowitzki got to see why people compare Kristaps Porzingis to him, and the rookie almost ruined the view.

Porzingis led a fourth-quarter charge and finished with 28 points, but the Dallas Mavericks held on for a 104-97 victory over the New York Knicks on Monday night.

Nowitzki scored 25 points after a strong start, then offered some encouragement to Porzingis after the Mavs walked off with a victory that seemed would be much easier than it ended up.

“The comparisons are more than fair,” Nowitzki said. “He’s way ahead of the curve. When I was 20 I was scared to death out there. He’s almost averaging a double-double out there. He’s better than I was in my 20s, so the comparison is probably unfair to him. He’s a complete package.”

Porzingis had 12 points in the fourth quarter of his first matchup with Nowitzki, the German great he has been compared to for his perimeter shooting skills by a 7-footer.

“It really doesn’t matter because we still lost,” he said, “but yeah, I was just hitting shots and trying to do the things to help the team win at the end.”

The Latvian rookie made consecutive 3-pointers as the Knicks cut what had been a 23-point deficit to 101-97 with 43 seconds left, then blocked Deron Williams‘ shot. But Carmelo Anthony was called for an offensive foul as the Knicks were trying to work to get the ball to Porzingis for another shot, and Nowitzki followed with a free throw before Williams made two more to close it out.

Williams had 20 points and seven assists.

A night after making a season-best 16 3-pointers and scoring 116 points in a victory at Washington, the Mavericks appeared to be rolling again in this one. Nowitzki scored 11 in the first quarter to show the Mavs had plenty left for the second night of their back-to-back.

“Dirk loves these types of situations, taking the challenge of a young guy like this, and Porzingis is a special player,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said.

They had a 20-point lead early in the fourth quarter and fans were booing the Knicks, but Carlisle had to bring his starters back after the Knicks mounted a charge.

“It’s hard to keep a 20-point lead, especially on the road in the second half of a back-to-back,” Williams said. “With that being said, we’ve got to do a better job.”

Anthony had 17 points, eight assists and six rebounds, but shot 6 for 18 from the field and also picked up a technical foul in the fourth quarter.

The 7-foot-3 Porzingis grabbed just two rebounds but held his own offensively against Nowitzki, the top international scorer in NBA history. But Nowitzki was surrounded by much more firepower Monday even without a big night from Wesley Matthews, who scored 36 points on a franchise record-tying 10 3-pointers in Sunday’s victory.

Matthews was just 3 of 10 for 10 points.

Former Knicks guard Raymond Felton finished with 14 points in the Mavs’ fourth straight victory in the series.

TIP-INS

Mavericks: Dallas has won 11 of the last 14 in New York and 23 of the last 28 meetings overall. Devin Harris sat out after injuring his ribs after colliding with teammate Justin Anderson in the first half of Sunday’s game.

Knicks: Porzingis was presented with his Eastern Conference rookie of the month award for October/November before the game. … It was the first of five straight games against Western Conference opponents. After a three-game trip to Utah, Sacramento and Portland, the Knicks return home to host Minnesota on Dec. 16. … Forward Kevin Seraphin turned 26.

 

 

Report: Kawhi Leonard didn’t travel with Clippers to Disney World, expected to arrive in few days

Kawhi Leonard in Orlando
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A Clippers-Lakers Western Conference finals – featuring Kawhi Leonard vs. LeBron James – is one of the most anticipated potential attractions of the NBA’s resumption at Disney World.

But Leonard must get there first.

Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports:

Los Angeles Clippers star Kawhi Leonard did not travel with the team on Wednesday to Walt Disney World for the resumption of the NBA season, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

Leonard was given permission by the organization to tend to a family matter and the two-time Defensive Player of the Year and two-time NBA Finals MVP is expected to join the team on campus in a few days, sources said.

Hopefully, everything is alright with Leonard and his family and he arrives as smoothly as this report indicates. The NBA has protocols for players who travel to Orlando after their teams. Leonard isn’t unique in having a personal issue delay his arrival.

But this situation bears especially close watching for two reasons:

1.  Kawhi Leonard might be the NBA’s best player. The Clippers are a top-tier championship contender. Leonard’s whereabouts hold more significance for the season than, say, Magic guard Markelle Fultz‘s.

2. The Clippers have misled to protect Leonard before. Though it was easy to see their logic, it leaves them with less credibility here.

Again, hopefully this is only a minor snag. We’ll know more within a few days.

Report: Nets signing Jamal Crawford

Jamal Crawford vs. Nets
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Most points scored in a player’s last game (among non-active NBA players):

  • Kobe Bryant: 60 (LAL-UTA April 13, 2016)
  • Jamal Crawford: 51 (PHO-DAL April 9, 2019)
  • Alec Peters: 36 (PHO-DAL April 10, 2018)

It’s time to remove Crawford from the list.

Shams Charania of The Athletic:

A defensive liability who needs the ball in his hands, 40-year-old Crawford can still make difficult shots remarkably well. But most teams can build a lineup and system that consistently create more efficient shots than the tough looks Crawford specializes in.

The Nets aren’t most teams.

Kyrie Irving and Spencer Dinwiddie are both out. Caris LeVert, Garrett Temple Chris Chiozza and Tyler Johnson are an underwhelming backcourt rotation.

Crawford can add scoring punch. With the point guard-deficient Suns last season, he also showed passing ability, though a good team won’t ask too much of him.

Reminder: The Nets will keep their first-round pick only if they miss the playoffs. With Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving healthy, Brooklyn would probably convey a later pick to the Timberwolves next season.

If nothing else, this is a tremendous personal achievement for Crawford, who badly wanted to keep playing. He has kept in tremendous shape for his age and built a strong reputation in the locker room, earning himself more opportunities.  If everything goes according to plan, Crawford will join Vince Carter, Dirk Nowitzki, Kevin Garnett, Kevin Willis, Robert Parish, Kobe Bryant and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the only players to play 20 NBA seasons.

Stephen Jackson peddles another anti-Semitic conspiracy theory, says he’s misunderstood

Stephen Jackson
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Former NBA player Stephen Jackson defended Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson, who has drawn criticism – including from the Eagles – for posting an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory (incorrectly) attributed to Adolph Hitler.

DeSean Jackson apologized twice and pledged to educate himself.

Stephen Jackson insists he’s being unfairly maligned.

Stephen Jackson:

Today’s word is assume. Assume.

To all my Jewish people, I love y’all. Y’all took the video the wrong way. I said he was right stemming from a conversation we had before I got on Live about how they’re handling him and how they handled Cooper when he said the n-word. They didn’t handle them the same way, and that wasn’t right. And that’s what I was talking about. I love y’all. You’ll never find a video or article of me saying I hate anybody. Let me clear that up.

Assume. Today’s word. As a black man, you get pulled over by the police, they assume you’re about to run. They assume you’ve got drugs in the car. They assume you’ve got a gun. They assume the worst, right?

I didn’t say nothing about Jews or supporting Hitler at all in that video. But that’s what they assume I said. And y’all wonder why we’re fighting for equality. Because y’all assume the worst from a black man. I love everybody. I’ve always stood that way. Love for all who have love for all. So, why would you assume I hate somebody?

Too often, apologies get labeled as a “non-apology.” This is a non-apology.

When he said DeSean Jackson is “speaking the truth,” Stephen Jackson sounded like he was talking about DeSean Jackson’s Hitler post – not a private conversation with DeSean Jackson, as Stephen Jackson indicates now.

A reminder of what Stephen Jackson said about DeSean Jackson (emphases mine):

He was trying to educate himself, educate people, and he’s speaking the truth, right? He’s speaking the truth. You know he don’t hate nobody, but he’s speaking the truth of the facts that he knows and trying to educate others.

How do those bolded sections make any sense based on a private conversation between DeSean Jackson and Stephen Jackson?

If this is a case of Stephen Jackson simply not choosing his words carefully enough, it’d be far easier to forgive him. After all, he has now gone out of his way to say he loves Jews.

But Stephen Jackson doesn’t deserve much benefit of the doubt while he also spreads other anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.

Fred Katz of The Athletic:

Police too often make negative assumptions about Black people. That should be addressed.

But, best I can tell, Stephen Jackson is being judged fairly here. He’s promoting anti-Semitic messages. He’s getting treated like someone promoting anti-Semitic messages.

Do I believe Stephen Jackson wants to be anti-Semitic? No. My best guess is his heart is in the right place while his head is in the wrong place. But Stephen Jackson is still spreading anti-Semitism. Even if that’s due to “only” ignorance, he can’t correct that until acknowledging his errors and learning from them. Blaming everyone else for misunderstanding him is not the answer.

Stephen Jackson is also wrong in his comparison to Riley Cooper, a white Eagles receiver who was caught on video saying the n-word in 2013. Like with DeSean Jackson, the Eagles released a statement criticizing Cooper. They didn’t cut Cooper. They also haven’t cut DeSean Jackson. Even if they eventually cut DeSean Jackson, I suspect they’ll follow similar guidelines: Deciding whether the player is good enough to offset the trouble caused by his reprehensible speech.

Magic player tests positive for coronavirus

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The race for the final two playoff spots in the Eastern Conference keeps getting sadder. Somehow.

The Nets are decimated. The Wizards are missing their best players. And the Magic – who already have Jonathan Isaac and Al-Farouq Aminu sidelined – have complications with Markelle Fultz and another unnamed player.

Roy Parry of the Orlando Sentinel:

The Orlando Magic entered the NBA bubble Tuesday without an unidentified player who tested positive for COVID-19 and guard Markelle Fultz, whose entry was delayed due to a personal issue.

Magic president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman said during a videoconference with reporters on Tuesday that Fultz is dealing with a personal matter unrelated to the virus. His absence is excused and the league is aware of his situation, according to Weltman. He said Fultz is following all safety protocols and expects a “seamless transition” for the guard’s return, although Weltman did not have a specific timetable for when that will be.

It’s unclear whether the unnamed player was among the 25 players the NBA announced tested positive.

Fultz and the other player will have to follow protocols for players travelling to Disney World after their teams arrive.

The Magic have D.J. Augustin and Michael Carter-Williams at point guard if Fultz is unavailable. But I’ll take Weltman at his word that Fultz will return to the team smoothly.