Chandler Parsons, Mavs start fast in 128-101 win over Timberwolves

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DALLAS (AP) — Owner Mark Cuban believes boos from the home crowd during a bad start in the last game for the Dallas Mavericks probably got the attention of his team.

Maybe so.

Chandler Parsons scored 29 points as the Mavericks started fast after a woeful opening half two nights earlier and rolled to a 128-101 victory against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday night.

“This was a mature win for us,” said Parsons, who scored 13 straight Dallas points over the second and third quarters to help restore a 20-point lead built in the first 11 minutes of a sixth straight victory against Minnesota. “Obviously we haven’t been perfect and we’ve had some inconsistencies, but we are sticking together.”

Two nights after scoring 27 points to help Dallas rally from 23 down in the second quarter of an overtime victory against Denver, Parsons was 10 of 15 from the field, made four of seven from 3-point range and hit all five of his free throws.

“We went to him a lot and he delivered,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “He played a really smart game.”

Shabazz Muhammad scored 24 points to lead the Timberwolves, who used nine players and dropped to 1-10 on the second night of a back-to-back after rallying for a win at New Orleans.

“We get tomorrow off, but we just look like a tired basketball team,” interim Minnesota coach Sam Mitchell said. “You could see it in their eyes.”

Dirk Nowitzki and Parsons sparked the quick start, both scoring 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting, including 2 of 3 from 3-point range, in the first quarter. The Mavericks went up 39-19 on Nowitzki’s layup for his last points of the game with 1:15 left in the first quarter.

The 7-foot German left early in the third quarter with his fourth foul, and the Mavericks were up by 26 points when he finally came back late in the quarter. Apparently realizing they could rest the 37-year-old, the Dallas coaches pulled him again 24 seconds after he returned.

With Nowitzki and all but one starter for both teams sitting the entire fourth quarter, Dallas’ lead reached 31 as Parsons had to settle for finishing two points shy of his season high while getting six rebounds and four assists.

Wesley Matthews scored 15 points, and backcourt mate Deron Williams had 10 points and nine of the Mavericks’ season-high 34 assists. Dallas had its largest margin of victory a week after beating Philadelphia by 26.

“We’ve been emphasizing getting off to some better offensive starts, and us five collectively had to make a decision to get us going in the first and third quarter,” Parsons said. “We’ve been straggling a bit there with our spacing.”

Muhammad scored 11 points in the second quarter and the Timberwolves got as close as seven before the Mavericks pushed their lead back to 65-54 at halftime when Parsons hit a pullup jumper over Karl-Anthony Towns from just inside the arc.

Andrew Wiggins scored 15 points, and Towns had 12 points and 11 rebounds a night after getting 30 and 15. Zach LaVine, the only starter for either team to play in the fourth quarter, had 10 points on 3-of-14 shooting with nine rebounds after scoring 25 against the Pelicans.

BASEBALL NIGHT IN TEXAS

Newly elected baseball Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr. and former Texas Rangers star Michael Young both had front-row seats. Both got loud ovations when they were shown on the video board during a timeout.

FINALLY COOLING OFF

The Timberwolves shot 38 percent after three straight games of at least 50 percent shooting – the second time they’ve had a streak that long in February. “We all pretty much felt like we had the energy to do it,” Towns said. “Sometimes you don’t realize how much your body has taken a toll until it’s actually going through something rigorous again.”

TIP-INS

Timberwolves: The Timberwolves won for the 17th time in franchise history at New Orleans when trailing by at least 10 points in the fourth quarter. Their record is 17-562 in such games. … Ricky Rubio had 14 points and five assists. … Towns had the 34th double-double, tops among NBA rookies.

Mavericks: Dallas shot 64 percent in the first quarter with 13 assists on 16 baskets. … The Mavericks have played a league-high 10 overtime games coming off a stretch of four in six games. That included a franchise-record three straight. Dallas is 7-3

 

Anthony Davis ‘excited’ to be Lakers’ No.1 offensive option, LeBron pushing him to do it

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Is Anthony Davis a No.1 offensive option on a championship team?

The Lakers made a massive bet in trading for Davis — both in good young players and picks — that he could help them win a title now and be the bridge to the future post-LeBron James. Davis was everything the Lakers hoped in the bubble and did win them banner No. 17. However, he has not stayed healthy or consistently played up to that standard.

New Lakers coach Darvin Ham is betting on Davis again and is going to run more of the offense through him this season. LeBron James reportedly backs Ham up. Can Davis stay healthy, find that form again and look like that bridge to the future? If he can’t, the Lakers have to reconsider their post-LeBron plans. That’s why there is pressure on Davis this season.

Davis is excited to prove he is ready for the role, he told Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. He added LeBron is pushing him to do it.

“I’m so excited that I’ve got goosebumps just thinking about this year,” Davis told Yahoo Sports this week. “I’m looking forward to a healthy year and doing what I know we can do.”…

Davis said James, 37, has been in his ear about taking over the reins of the team, while the rest of the roster would follow his lead.

The first step in Davis being that No.1 option: Staying healthy. He played 40 games last season and 36 the season before that. While some of that was due to fluke injuries, the history of Davis missing time is long.

When healthy, Davis is an unquestionably elite player — to use the bubble example, Davis was a defensive force in Orlando who knocked down midrange jumpers after facing up, averaging 27.7 points on a 66.5 true shooting percentage, plus grabbed 9.7 rebounds a game. That is the AD the Lakers need this season.

Which can be a lot of pressure, but Davis said he doesn’t feel that.

“But for me, I’m not putting any pressure on myself at all,” Davis said at media day. “I’m gonna go out there and play basketball, work hard, defend and do what the team needs to win basketball games. I’m not going to overthink and, you know, listen to what everybody else is saying and try to be this ‘whatever’ player they want me to be.”

“Whatever” the Lakers want Davis to be is the Top 10 player in the world he has shown for stretches in Los Angeles. If he can be consistent, that Davis helps the Lakers be more of a threat in the West. If Davis can’t be that guy, it could be another long season for Lakers nation.

 

Proud to be an American: 76ers’ Embiid officially becomes U.S. citizen

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CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — Joel Embiid is an American citizen.

A native of Cameroon, Embiid said he was sworn in as a citizen two weeks ago in Philadelphia. The NBA scoring champion and Philadelphia 76ers All-Star center said his family – Embiid and his Brazilian girlfriend Anne de Paula have a young son – played a pivotal role in his decision.

“I’ve been here for a long time,” Embiid told The Associated Press Thursday at training camp at The Citadel. “My son is American. I felt like, I’m living here and it’s a blessing to be an American. So I said, why not?”

Embiid, who played college basketball for one season at Kansas, also has citizenship in France. He said it is way too early to think about which country he could potentially represent in international basketball.

The 28-year-old Embiid averaged a career-best 30.6 points in 68 games last season. The 7-footer also averaged 11.7 rebounds and 4.2 assists in helping Philadelphia reach the Eastern Conference semifinals for the second straight year. Embiid averaged 23.6 points and 10.7 rebounds in the postseason despite playing with hand and facial injuries.

Embiid had been announced as playing out of Kansas during pregame introductions at 76ers’ home games but switched around midseason last year as being introduced from Cameroon. He might try for a mouthful this season.

“We’re going to say Cameroon, American and French,” he said, laughing.

Tyler Herro says he’s better than players ‘that have gotten paid’

Boston Celtics v Miami Heat - Game Seven
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RJ Barrett signed a rookie contract extension for four years, $107 million fully guaranteed that could climb to $120 million with incentives. Several others out of the 2019 draft class — Ja Morant, Zion Williamson, Darius Garland — earned max contract extensions with their team.

Tyler Herro is still waiting on his extension with the Miami Heat.

And with that baked in Herro confidence, he said he is better than some players he has seen getting paid, he told Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

“I was active early in the summer,” he told the South Florida Sun Sentinel of the extension window that opened in July. “Then I realized it wasn’t going to get done, if it does get done, until later. So I just told my agent to call me when it’s ready. “So we haven’t really spoken much about the contract. Obviously, I tell him to call me when it’s ready. If it’s not ready, I continue to play my game and figure it out next summer…

“There’s players across the league that have gotten paid who I know I’m better than. So it’s got to be the right number,” he said, with the Heat continuing camp on makeshift courts at the [ Baha Mar resort in the Bahamas].

One reason an extension for Herro has not gotten done — and may not get done before the Oct. 18 deadline — is Herro is the Heat’s best trade asset to go after a big name. Once he signs an extension that is off the table, something Winderman and I have discussed in our weekly video/podcast on the Heat and NBA.

The other question on a Herro extension is what is the “right number?” Did the Knicks’ Barrett set the market with his extension?

Maybe Barrett is one of the players Herro “knows” he is better than, but that would not be the consensus of scouts and free agents around the league. Herro has hardware as the reigning Sixth Man of the Year, he puts up numbers averaging 20.7 points a game while shooting 39.9% from 3 last season, he can do some secondary play creation and has had big playoff games. He has real value.

However, as Winderman has pointed out, Herro has started just 33 games across three years, compared to Barrett’s 197 starts. More importantly, Herro’s defensive limitations limited how Eric Spoelstra could use him in the playoffs. Then there is the matter of load carried. Barrett was the No. 1 option for the Knicks last season (with Julius Randle falling off) and even with the signing of Jalen Brunson, Barrett is option No.1 or 1B for Tom Thibodeau. Herro is down the Heat pecking order behind Bam AdebayoJimmy Butler, and maybe Kyle Lowry depending on how he bounces back from a down year. The Heat don’t need Herro the way the Knicks need Barrett right now, which is one key reason Herro is available via trade.

Would Herro take a four-year, $105 extension? Would the Heat even offer it? If Miami is hoping for a trade at the deadline, it may wait on an offer and let the market set Herro’s price as a restricted free agent next summer. For Herro, that would give him a chance to prove he is a starter and that his defense has improved — that he is worth more than the Heat had been offering.

If the Heat and Herro agree on an extension, look for it to be in a couple of weeks, pushing up against that October deadline.

 

Lonzo Ball undergoes successful knee surgery, out ‘at least a few months’

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Lonzo Ball underwent another arthroscopic surgery on his left knee on Wednesday, and the doctors finally had some positive news.

They believe that they’ve “addressed the issue”, and there is “confidence” that he’ll be able to play this season. He’s still expected to miss “at least a few months”, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Charania added that both sides will monitor his progress over

After his first surgery in January, Ball’s knee didn’t respond well at all, and he was eventually ruled out for the season. During media day this week, Ball said that he couldn’t run or jump, so he couldn’t play basketball. Billy Donovan said that they had to think of Ball’s injury as potentially season-ending. So an update that says that he should play this season is considered good news at this point.

Chicago had a 22-13 record with Lonzo last season, but were just 24-23 without him. He averaged 13.1 points, 5.4 rebounds, 5.1 assists, 1.8 steals, 0.9 blocks, and 3.1 triples per game in his first year with the team.

They have other defenders like Ayo Dosunmu and Alex Caruso, but they don’t have anyone else that can both defend and facilitate the way Lonzo can. They’ll use training camp and the preseason to decide on a starting point guard between Dosunmu, Caruso, and Goran Dragic.

They’re one of the more talented teams in the East, but they may end up playing in the play-in tournament if they’re without Ball for the majority of the season.