Gortat scores 21 points as Wizards upset Hornets, 113-98

2 Comments

WASHINGTON — Marcin Gortat had 21 points and 13 rebounds as the Washington Wizards defeated the Charlotte Hornets 113-98 on Sunday, damaging the Hornets’ chances to secure home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

Marcus Thornton added 16 points for the Wizards and Ramon Sessions had 15 points and 11 assists.

The Hornets (46-34) entered the game tied with the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference, one-half game behind the fourth-place Celtics. They play at Boston on Monday night.

Frank Kaminsky had 18 points and 11 rebounds and Kemba Walker added 16 points for the Hornets, who shot just 34.6 percent (28 of 81) from the field and committed 15 turnovers.

Washington (39-41), which was eliminated from playoff contention with Friday’s loss to Detroit, was without John Wall (sore left knee) for the third straight game, and leading scorer Bradley Beal (sore pelvis) left after playing 7:43 in the first quarter.

Walker scored nine of his points in the third quarter as Charlotte rallied from an 8-point halftime deficit. The Hornets were ahead 71-69 when Otto Porter Jr. scored the first eight points – six on 3-pointers – in a 12-0 third-quarter Wizards’ run.

Al Jefferson‘s layup capped an 8-0 spurt to pull the Hornets to within 88-84 midway through the fourth quarter. But Washington responded with a 14-2 run – including five points by Marcus Thornton and four by Gortat – to pull away.

Washington shot 52.5 percent (42 of 80) from the field, including 9 of 21 from 3-point range. Porter finished with 10 points.

The Wizards scored the first seven points of the second quarter and a 6-0 run late in the half gave them their biggest lead of the half, 53-39.

Washington shot 48.8 percent (21 for 43) before halftime, and the Hornets committed 10 turnovers.

TIP-INS

Hornets: Jeremy Lamb (strained toe) was available after missing Friday night’s game but did not play. . Entering Monday night’s game, the Hornets are 11-4 in the second game of back-to-backs.

Wizards: Split the season series with Charlotte 2-2. . Beal missed a total of four games last month with a sore pelvis. . Washington improved to 21-19 at home.

UP NEXT

Hornets: Charlotte visits Boston on Monday.

Wizards: Washington visits Brooklyn on Monday.

Giannis Antetokounmpo on playing with brothers: ‘Milwaukee, L.A., wherever – that’d be awesome’

Giannis Antetokounmpo in Bucks-Lakers
Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Giannis Antetokounmpo – on the elite Bucks and nearing his super-max decision – has the NBA by the tail.

Teams are trying to impress the family-oriented superstar. Milwaukee signed his brother, Thanasis Antetokounmpo. The Lakers added another brother, Kostas Antetokounmpo. (The Knicks drafted Thanasis, but Thanasis’ tenure in New York reportedly left a sour taste in Giannis’ mouth.)

Now, Giannis – who once said he could never see himself playing for Los Angeles – is singing a slightly different tune

USA Today:

Antetokounmpo:

I think that would be amazing. Obviously, we’d spend more time together, and I’m 100 percent sure my mom would love that. But if we could team up on a team – Milwaukee, L.A., wherever – that’d be awesome.

Maybe Antetokounmpo is just paying lip service to the Lakers, because they added Kostas. But at this point, that’s progress for Los Angeles.

Considering Giannis’ agent just said “everything is open,” it seems Giannis could be planting the seeds for leaving Milwaukee. He could definitely stay. But by at least mentioning other possibilities, he’d soften the blow if he chooses to depart.

Giannis’ views on loyalty have always been more complex than people realized. Tastes change. It sounds as if Giannis isn’t quite as averse to Los Angeles as he once was.

Of course, there’s a huge difference between that and actually joining the Lakers. Giannis hasn’t suddenly transformed into a totally different person.

But this quote will keep the candle of hope burning in Los Angeles.

Report: All-Star fourth quarter featured more than 15 minutes of gameplay

Leave a comment

One overlooked feature of the NBA’s new All-Star game format: It seemed designed to shorten the game.

Sure, the league wanted to add an interesting wrinkle to a game that had grown stale. The exact details were tweaked to honor Kobe Bryant.

But – in the era of load management – shaving a few minutes off the exhibition game should be taken as a feature, not a bug.

This year’s game ended when a team scored 24 more points than the leading team had entering the fourth quarter. The last time a team had scored 24 or fewer in All-Star quarter: 2010, when the East scored just 23 in the fourth quarter.  In the decade since – including the first three quarters Sunday – All-Star teams averaged 24 points every seven minutes.

But Sunday’s fourth quarter took a while longer than the standard 12 minutes for LeBron James‘ team to outscore Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s team, 33-22.

Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today:

Defenses really turned up in the fourth quarter. Here’s how the teams’ shooting percentages changed from the first three quarters to the fourth quarter:

  • 2-pointers: 73% to 46%
  • 3-pointers: 34% to 23%

More shots being contested also led to more fouls. After attempting just 13 free throws in the first three quarters, the teams took 26 free throws in the fourth quarter.

In The Basketball Tournament, which first introduced the Elam Ending, the target score is eight more points than the leading team has at the first whistle inside four minutes. By turning off the game clock later, there’s less room for variance in gameplay length.

I suspect the NBA would have also turned off the clock later if not using the target score to honor Bryant. Because Bryant wore No. 24 last, the league has generally used that – not his other number, No. 8 – in tributes, including the All-Star jerseys.

With All-Star MVP now named for Bryant – a perfectly fitting lasting tribute – the league can alter the ending format next year.

The concept is sound. The exact execution just needs tweaking.

Bulls’ starting point guard Kris Dunn may be out for season with knee injury

Mike Stobe/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Bulls starting point guard Kris Dunn missed the last four games before the All-Star break with a sprained knee.

He could miss a lot more — like the rest of the season.

From K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago:

But sources said there’s a growing belief that Dunn will miss the remainder of the season with the injury, which occurred when Thaddeus Young took a charge and inadvertently crashed into Dunn’s knee on the first possession of a Jan. 31 road game against the Nets. When Dunn suffered a similar injury last season, he missed 23 games…

“Dunn still has some swelling in that knee,” coach Jim Boylen said before the Bulls lost to the Wizards on Feb. 11 in Washington, their final game before the break. “Once his swelling goes down, he will get re-scanned and re-evaluated.  But he had a lot of swelling.”

That’s less than ideal for Dunn as he heads into restricted free agency. He has averaged 7.3 points and  3.6 rebounds per game, however, his most significant contribution has been quality defense for Chicago this season.

This is the latest in a string of injuries for the Bulls. Otto Porter has only played nine games due to a broken foot. Big men Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr. are currently sidelined due to injuries, although Carter could return after the All-Star break and Markkanen by early next month. Now Dunn.

Rui Hachimura gets destroyed by kid in Pop-A-Shot-like game (video)

Wizards rookie Rui Hachimura
Jeff Haynes/NBAE via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Rui Hachimura got kicked so hard in the groin by a teammate, the Wizards rookie needed surgery.

That’s pretty awful. Yet, there’s still a new contender for the worst moment of Hachimura’s season.

At All-Star Weekend in Chicago for Rising Stars, Hachimura faced a kid in a Pop-A-Shot-like game. It didn’t go well for Hachimura.

Kristian Winfield of the New York Daily News:

An NBA player losing to a kid is bad enough. Twice, we’re entering troubling territory.

But claiming the game is cheating, demanding to switch sides and still getting routed?

That’s a ROUGH look.