Bucks prep for life without injured coach Jason Kidd

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ST. FRANCIS, Wis. (AP) — The Milwaukee Bucks are about to experience another unique test.

One of the youngest teams in the league will have to play without coach Jason Kidd as he recovers from right hip surgery.

It will be up to Joe Prunty, a longtime NBA assistant, to lead the Bucks while Kidd is out. Kidd has said he hopes to return to the office in a couple weeks, though it’s unclear when he might be able to coach in a game again.

There is no doubt that he’s still in charge, though.

“Trust me, as soon as soon as we are able to be talking with him, we’ll definitely be in touch,” Prunty said Monday.

Kidd was scheduled to have surgery in the morning in New York.

The Bucks made the announcement after a 101-95 win on Sunday in Phoenix that wrapped up a four-game Western Conference road trip. Kidd, 42, said the injury dated to his playing days and his second stint with the Dallas Mavericks between 2008-12.

The pain has been become chronic, and periodic cortisone shots were no longer helping, Kidd said after Sunday’s game.

“The pain has been to the point where I can’t function. I’ve taken all the medicine that I can do,” Kidd said.

The task of leading the Bucks out of their early hole in the Eastern Conference falls on Prunty, who is in his 20th season in the NBA and his third year working with Kidd. Prunty assisted Kidd in Brooklyn, then followed Kidd to Milwaukee when he took the Bucks job last season.

Prunty said he will continue to call offensive plays, while assistant Sean Sweeney will draw up the defense.

“Our system is our system,” Prunty said. “There’s not an intent to make any changes at all.”

Youth, defense and depth were the hallmarks of the Bucks’ surprise run to the playoffs last season.

At 11-18, the Bucks have had more problems early on this year. Defense was a problem in the opening weeks, though the team has been better in that area of late.

Injuries at point guard to Jerryd Bayless and Greivis Vasquez have sapped the team of backcourt depth. Three-point shooting has also been an issue.

The Bucks did welcome back forward Jabari Parker after he missed last year with a knee injury. Center Greg Monroe has been a welcome addition, especially offensively, after arriving as a free agent from Detroit.

The ideal Bucks starting lineup, which would also include 21-year-oldd Giannis Antetokounmpo, wouldn’t have a player older than 25.

“I think if we can put together whole games, not having lapses, I think we can be pretty good,” said forward John Henson. At 24, he’s another key member of the Bucks’ core.

The up-and-down season has included home wins over NBA powers Cleveland and Golden State, and a road loss last to the Los Angeles Lakers, one of the worst teams in the league.

Perhaps Prunty can get a few tips from the Warriors’ Luke Walton, that team’s interim coach while Steve Kerr recovers from back surgery. Golden State under Walton started the season an NBA-record 24-0 before the streak was snapped earlier this month by the Bucks.

“It wouldn’t be bad for Joe to take what Luke has done,” Kidd joked.

Even-keeled and composed, Prunty isn’t viewing his shot on the sideline as a showcase for himself.

“Absolutely not. I don’t know what other people are going to think, but for me this is about the Milwaukee Bucks,” he said.

He’ll make his debut on Wednesday when the Bucks host the Philadelphia 76ers.

Pelicans Trey Murphy III reportedly invited to participate in Dunk Contest

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We knew three participants invited to the All-Star Saturday night Dunk Contest: G-League fan favorite Mac McClung, the Portland Trail Blazers Shaedon Sharpe and the Houston Rockets’ KJ Martin.

The fourth slot in that event will go to the Pelicans’ Trey Murphy, reports Andrew Lopez of ESPN.

No doubt Murphy can throw it down with the best of them.

The Dunk Contest will headline All-Star Saturday night, Feb. 18, from the Vivint Arena (soon to be the Delta Center again). The event will be broadcast on TNT.

The Dunk Contest is the Saturday night headline event, but it has fallen flat in recent years. Adding a G-League dunker and young, bouncy athletes such as Murphy, Martin and Sharpe could make this one entertaining. However, what fans really want to see — what made the Dunk Contest must-watch back in the day when Jordan, Kobe, and Vince Carter were doing it — is the stars. There will be no Ja Morant, no Zion Williamson, and no Anthony Edwards in this contest.

LeBron James NBA all-time scoring record tracker

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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has held the NBA all-time scoring record at 38,387 points since he retired in 1989. It is one of the most iconic records in sports and one thought by many that would never be broken, but LeBron James is on the verge of breaking that scoring record and doing it at age 38. How many more points does LeBron need to take over the scoring record? When is it projected to happen? Let’s break down the latest numbers (this will be updated after every Lakers game until the record is set).

How many points does LeBron James need to set the scoring record?
117

Abdul-Jabbar career points: 38,387
LeBron career points: 38,271

Lakers’ upcoming schedule:

Jan. 30 at Nets
Jan. 31 at Knicks
Feb. 2 at Pacers
Feb. 4 at Pelicans
Feb. 7 vs. Thunder
Feb. 9 vs. Bucks

When is LeBron projected to set the all-time scoring record:

LeBron is averaging 30.2 points per game this season, at that pace he would set the record on Feb. 4 at the New Orleans Pelicans.

Since he turned 38 (on Dec. 30), LeBron has averaged 35.2 points per game, which would see the mark broken in New Orleans. However, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the record fall when LeBron returns to Los Angeles on Feb. 7 or Feb. 9.

News and notes on LeBron’s quest for the record:

• LeBron scored 41 points — and felt he should have had a couple more — in the Lakers’ overtime loss to the Celtics Saturday on national television.

• Sixers Doc Rivers on what impresses him in LeBron’s run to this record: “LeBron has done it so differently to me [thank Kareem]. Because LeBron is not a natural scorer. LeBron is a playmaker. He got criticized early in his career for making the right decisions. And the fact that he’s now about to break the scoring record, it really points out his greatness.”

• LeBron scored 20 points in the Lakers’ win over the Spurs, a game in which Anthony Davis returned from injury and Rui Hachimura made his debut as a Laker after being traded from the Wizards.

• What has Kareem Abdul-Jabbar said about LeBron passing his record? There has been a bit of frostiness between the two men, but Abdul-Jabbar was gracious in comments to Marc Stein back in 2021 about the possibility of his record falling: “I’m excited to see it happen. I don’t see records as personal accomplishments, but more as human achievements. If one person can do something that’s never been done, that means we all have a shot at doing it. It’s a source of hope and inspiration. Roger Bannister broke the four-minute mile back in 1954. Since then, not only have 1,400 runners beaten that time, but the new record is 17 seconds less. We all win when a record is broken and if LeBron breaks mine, I will be right there to cheer him on.”

Watch Harden run onto court from bench mid-play to defend

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It takes a second to notice, but the 76ers had just four players on the court trying to defend the Nuggets on a late third-quarter possession.

But when James Harden — sitting on the bench — notices it, he stands up and runs into play, drawing a technical.

The technical foul was for having four men on the court, not on Harden specifically.

While that may have been a rare instance of Harden rushing to play defense, the 76ers as a team cranked up their defense in the second half against the Nuggets and went on to get the home win behind 47 points from Joel Embiid.

LeBron livid over no foul call at end of regulation, Lakers fall to Celtics in OT

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“The best player on earth can’t get a call. It’s amazing.”

Lakers coach Darvin Ham made that comment out of frustration after another game where the Lakers felt robbed at the end. He wasn’t the only Laker.

LeBron James was once again brilliant — 41 points, nine rebounds and eight assists — but with the game tied against the Celtics and 4.1 seconds on the clock, he drove the lane and didn’t get the foul call when it clearly looked like Jayson Tatum hit him on the arm as he shot.

After the game, referee crew chief Eric Lewis admitted the officials missed the call:

There was contact. At the time, during the game, we did not see a foul. The crew missed the play.”

Patrick Beverley picked up a technical foul for bringing a photographer’s camera over to the referee to show evidence of the foul.

These losses are a punch to the gut for a Laker team with little margin for error and trying to make up ground in the West (at 23-27 they sit 13th in the conference). But LeBron sees a pattern — he is scoring 30.2 points per game (sixth in the league) but is getting to the line just 4.9 times per game, fewer than anyone else in the top nine in the league in scoring.

“I don’t get it. I’m attacking the paint, just as much as any of the guys in this league that’s shooting double-digit free throws a night, and I don’t get it. I don’t understand it,” James said postgame in Boston.

The other Lakers were a little more direct.

Boston pulled away in overtime to get the 125-121 win, snapping their own three-game losing streak.

LeBron finished with 41, Anthony Davis 16 (on 6-of-15 shooting off the bench) and Beverley had 15 including a key putback dunk. Jaylen Brown scored 37 for Boston, Tatum 30 and Malcolm Brogdon had 26 off the bench.

There are no moral victories for these Lakers more than halfway into the season, playing the team with the best record in the NBA close and almost winning does not count. Time is running out on LeBron and his team, they need to string together some wins. They felt they should have gotten the chance to win this one.