Lin, Walker lead Hornets past Knicks 97-84

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) Jeremy Lin loosened up the New York Knicks and Kemba Walker provided the knockout punch.

The diminutive but effective backcourt duo scored 26 points each, helping the Charlotte Hornets coast to a 97-84 victory over the Knicks on Saturday night for their third win in four games.

Lin led all scorers with 12 points in the first half, while Walker scored 19 of his points after the break, including 11 in the fourth quarter to seal the win. Together, they combined to go 19 of 19 from the free-throw line, helping the Hornets overcome a 34 percent shooting night from the field.

The Hornets beat the Knicks for the fifth straight time at home despite being without five players, including three starters.

“We need to rack up some wins and keep playing together, regardless of who’s not playing,” Walker said. “We’ve got guys who are very capable of stepping up and making plays. Hopefully, we’re able to keep doing it.”

The Hornets also got a season-high 20 points and 10 rebounds from an inspired P.J. Hairston,

“Coach Clifford, he got on me, and it kind of fired me up,” said Hairston, who was demonstrative on the court after a pair of driving three-point plays. “I just tried to take it all out on the court. You’ve got to find energy. This was a big game for us just like last night was. We had to come out and find the same energy we had” Friday night.

Derrick Williams led the Knicks with 19 points and 14 rebounds, and Kristaps Porzingis had 13 points.

Robin Lopez only played three minutes in the second half for the Knicks and finished with 10 points and eight rebounds. Carmelo Anthony played 29 minutes, but none in the fourth quarter, and finished with just nine points on 4-of-11 shooting.

Coach Derek Fisher said Anthony developed soreness in his left knee, but wasn’t sure if Anthony would have returned to play down the stretch even if healthy.

“We just weren’t playing with enough energy,” Fisher said. “We looked just completely worn down and worn out. We could not continue to bring enough energy to the game to have a chance. We just got some guys out there in the fourth quarter just to try to play hard and not really worry about the score.”

Charlotte outscored New York 32-13 in the third quarter to open a 21-point lead behind 11 points from Lin, eight from Walker and seven from Hairston, who was more aggressive in taking the ball to the basket.

The Knicks would make one run to get within 10 with 5:22 left, but Hairston scored on a breakaway layup and drew a foul, then knocked down a long 3-pointer to push the lead back to 13. Walker took over from there, hitting the step-back jumper from 19 foot with less than two minutes left that sent visiting Knicks fans heading to the exit.

Walker came in leading all NBA players in scoring since Christmas but struggled from the field early. He finished 7 of 25 from the field, but made all nine free throws.

TIP-INS

Knicks: Anthony (21,818) passed Gary Payton (21,813) for 30th all-time on the NBA career scoring list. … New York played without Lance Thomas (knee) again.

Hornets: Charlotte tied a season high with 32 made free throws. … Marvin Williams had 12 rebounds and Spencer Hawes had 10.

ZELLER OUT A WEEK

The Hornets played without center Cody Zeller (shoulder), guard Nic Batum (toe), guard Jeremy Lamb (toe), center Al Jefferson (knee) and forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (shoulder) due to injuries. The team announced during the game Zeller will miss at least one week before being reevaluated.

STRUGGLING TO .500

Fisher said the Knicks are “definitely feeling the impact” of their recent success, and the challenge ahead is to prove they can beat better teams.

“How do you go beyond a .500 team? How do you get to a point where you can break through?” Fisher said. “It requires more sacrifice, more discipline, more commitment and more energy. We have to keep plugging until we find a way.”

PANTHERS FEVER

Fans in the Charlotte, North Carolina area are pumped up about the NFC championship game, which will be held here Sunday between the hometown Panthers and the visiting Arizona Cardinals. When two fans wearing Cardinals jerseys were shown on the scoreboard, the crowd erupted in boos.

UP NEXT

Knicks: Host Oklahoma City on Tuesday night.

Hornets: Host Sacramento on Monday night.

Heat, Tyler Herro agree to four-year, $120 million extension (with $10 million in incentives)

Miami Heat Media Day
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Tyler Herro was frustrated — he saw players he felt he was better than getting paid.

Now he has a contract he will have to live up to.

The Heat have signed Herro to a four-year, $120 million extension of his rookie contract, with up to $10 million in incentives) a story broken by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN and now confirmed by the team.

Herro went to Twitter to confirm the deal himself.

“Tyler is an impact multi-faceted player and we are excited to have him signed for the next five years,” Heat President Pat Riley said in the statement announcing the signing. “His improvement every year since we drafted him has led to this day. We believe he will continue to get better.”

This is a straight four years, no options for either side.

Signing an extension takes Herro off the table for any trades to upgrade the Heat roster this season. Herro had been at the heart of the rumors about the Heat and Kevin Durant, as well as other teams.

Herro’s new contract extension is a big bet on the wing taking another step forward this season and beyond. The deal is a little larger than expected (the conventional wisdom had Herro coming in close to the $107 million RJ Barrett got with the Knicks). Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel and I have discussed Herro’s price before and didn’t quite picture it this high, but with the rising cap over the next few years this deal may not look out of line.

Miami stepped up and paid the reigning Sixth Man of the Year high-level starter money — now he has to earn that job and that paycheck.

Mostly, he has to improve on defense so Eric Spoelstra can trust him at the end of games and deep into the playoffs (while Herro has had big playoff games, his role shrunk deeper in last postseason because of his defense).

Herro puts up numbers — 20.7 points a game on 39.9% from 3 last season — and is the reigning Sixth Man of the Year, but does this new deal move him up in the Heat offensive pecking order with Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler? Probably not in crunch time (and if Kyle Lowry bounces back this season, there could be games where Herro is option No.4).

This locks up part of Miami’s roster going into the season, but they are still on the look for depth at the four. Don’t consider this roster settled.

 

Watch Celtics shooters look sharp in easy preseason win over Hornets

Charlotte Hornets v Boston Celtics
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It’s just one meanless preseason game, but for a franchise that could use some good news the Boston Celtics will take it.

The Celtics’ shooting looked in mid-season form in their preseason opener against the Hornets on Sunday — 57.1% overall and 22-of-47 from 3 (46.8%). Boston just couldn’t seem to miss, especially early.

Jayson Tatum had 16 points in 22 minutes, while Jaylen Brown was the leading scorer with 24 points in 24 minutes.

The one unexpected bright spot was a strong game from Mfiondu Kabengele, who is currently on a two-way contract with the team. He ended up with 10 points on 4-of-4 shooting and showed some hustle.

Kelly Oubre led the Hornets with 17 points, while LaMelo Ball had 14 points, seven rebounds and four dimes.

It’s just one preseason game, don’t read much of anything into it. But the Celtics will take the good news where they can find it.

T.J. Warren still out for Nets; team to reassess status in November

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The Brooklyn Nets bet that the T.J. Warren from the bubble in Orlando — the one who averaged 26.6 points and 6.3 rebounds a game for the Pacers — would re-emerge and give them a quality forward they could mix into a deep rotation.

Instead, so far it has looked more like the Warren who has played just four games since the bubble due to stress fractures in his foot.

Warren is improving and the Nets are bringing him along slowly, keeping him off the court until November at least, reports Brian Lewis of the New York Post.

Small forward T.J. Warren, who has missed nearly two full seasons following multiple foot surgeries, is “doing some shooting” and “a little bit more movement the last two weeks than he was prior,” Nash said. He added that Warren will be reassessed in about a month.

The Nets can afford to be patient. They have plenty of other questions to answer as a team before worrying about what Warren can or cannot contribute. But in the dream scenario where everything comes together for the Nets this season, Warren gets healthy and becomes a valuable contributor off the bench giving the Nets more versatility, scoring, and shooting along the front line.

For now, the Nets and Warren wait.

NBA returning to Seattle for exhibition game; when will it be more?

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SEATTLE — An NBA preseason game may not seem like a benchmark moment, even in a basketball-hungry city like Seattle, but Jamal Crawford believes there’s value even in an exhibition.

“It reignites a whole new generation of kids who need to see this,” said Crawford, a Seattle native who has been a basketball ambassador for the city through a 20-year NBA career and now with a pro-am that brings in NBA players every summer. “They need to be able to dream and know that it’s real.”

The NBA is making its latest brief return to the Emerald City. The Los Angeles Clippers will play the Portland Trail Blazers there on Monday night, the first time two NBA teams will meet in Seattle since 2018, when the Golden State Warriors and Sacramento Kings played a preseason game. That was the last sporting event inside KeyArena before it was gutted and rebuilt into the gleaming Climate Pledge Arena.

There was a warm-up act of sorts Friday when the Clippers played Israeli team Maccabi Ra’anana in an exhibition, one where the most of the Clippers’ big names – Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, John Wall and Reggie Jackson – weren’t participating.

A sell-out crowd turned out for that Warriors-Kings game four years ago, the first one in Seattle since the beloved SuperSonics left for Oklahoma City in 2008 after 41 years in the Pacific Northwest. Another big crowd is expected Monday.

“The Sonics haven’t been a team since I’ve been in the NBA. So just to go play in Seattle is cool,” Blazers star Damian Lillard said. “We played in Vancouver a few years back. I think like two or three years ago, we had a preseason game at the (Memorial) Coliseum. So every time we get to do something like that, I always enjoy it because I wondered what was it like when it was a real thing, when the games were played in these different arenas. So I am excited to play in Seattle.”

Someday, possibly soon, the expectations are that Seattle will reclaim its place as an NBA town.

“It’s always been a great city to me,” Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said Friday. “It’s unfortunate that they lost their team and the team went to OKC. This city definitely deserves a team.”

Speculation is nonstop about when the NBA will choose to expand. Thanks to the resolution of its arena situation, Seattle seems likely to be at the forefront of those expansion talks, with Las Vegas likely right behind it.

But NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has been noncommittal about a possible expansion timeline, and it seems likely those talks won’t pick up steam until the league deals with the new collective bargaining agreement and television deals that are on the horizon.

The community’s commitment has never been in question. The appetite of Seattle fans hasn’t waned in the years since the Sonics left and as the region became a hotbed for NBA talent, whether it was Crawford continuing to carry the banner for the city, to Zach LaVine of Renton, Washington, to this year’s No. 1 overall pick Paolo Banchero, another Seattle native.

As if any reinforcement was needed, the summer provided a perfect example as fans camped overnight outside Crawford’s summer league venue for the chance to get inside and watch LeBron James make his first basketball visit to the city in more than a decade.

“Anyone that knows Seattle knows what a great basketball city we are,” Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell said this summer when the preseason game was announced.

The idea for having the Blazers and Clippers meet in Seattle was the result of a brainstorm between Lue and Blazers coach Chauncey Billups. The two close friends wanted their teams to meet in the preseason and Lue noted the owners for both teams are Seattle based: Steve Ballmer of the Clippers and Jody Allen for the Blazers.

“I haven’t been back since I played there in 2008, I think it was. So just to be able to go back there and you know, Mr. Ballmer and kind of see his offices and how he lives, and (Chauncey) to get a chance to see his owner, and then to be with my best friend, I thought it would be a great common ground,” Lue said.