Jrue Holiday says he’s eager to help Pelicans in crunch time

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METAIRIE, La. (AP) — As long as Jrue Holiday is on the court in the critical final minutes, he’s not terribly concerned with whether he starts, or how much playing time he gets, in his first games back with the New Orleans Pelicans.

“I don’t think our record shows how good we are,” said Holiday, who was back at practice Thursday with a team that has started 2-10 without him. “Obviously, there are some games where we were there at the end of the game and we had it won, but (there are) some things that we have to clean up at the end of the game to seal the deal.

“Down the stretch, I do think I could help with some directing and just tightening it up,” Holiday added.

The guard has spent the past three months on leave because his wife, retired international soccer star Lauren Holiday, needed brain surgery to remove a benign tumor last month, just weeks after giving birth to their first child, a daughter.

Holiday, who is slated to make his season debut against the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday night, said he came back now because “my wife said I could.”

Lauren Holiday is doing well enough now to “take care of herself and my daughter,” Jrue Holiday said. “She can take care of me, too. Obviously that’s big, especially from somebody who’s a mother now and somebody that went through what she went through.”

Jrue Holiday said learning that his wife had a brain tumor when she was about five months pregnant with their first child was “nerve-wracking,” and affected his perspective on life considerably, making him “grateful for each day.”

He said he also feels blessed for how his family has come through it, and for how much support both he and his wife received from basketball and soccer fans worldwide.

“Every day people are always saying they’re praying for her,” Holiday said. “So many people since I’ve been back, they don’t even ask how I’m doing; they ask how my wife’s doing. And to me, that’s awesome. That just shows how great people are around us.”

Now, he can get back to “the thrill of playing basketball,” at a time when the Pelicans could really use some help.

“Obviously he was an integral part of what we try to do offensively and defensively,” Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said. “For him, it’s just really good to be back. This is one of those times where it wasn’t a physical injury, so he’s been dying to get out there to play. It’s going to be fine. Obviously it’s going to take a little while for him to get his timing back from a basketball standpoint. I think he’s in really good shape conditioning-wise.”

A former Eastern Conference All-Star with Philadelphia, Holiday was traded to New Orleans in 2013, but missed most of his first two seasons because of a lower leg injury. Holiday began last season on minute restrictions, got progressively healthier, and wound up playing in 65 games with 23 starts before missing the last nine games because of a broken eye wall from an inadvertent elbow to the head.

Holiday averaged 16.8 points, 6.0 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 1.4 steals in 28.2 minutes per game last season, scoring 20 or more points 25 times.

Tim Frazier has started New Orleans’ first 12 games this season at point guard, averaging 10.8 points and 7.5 assists. Gentry said he can envision Holiday and Frazier playing together in stints.

“Jrue can play off the ball or on the ball,” Gentry said. “That’s what makes him so good. I think he’s a versatile player. We need his shooting also.”

Pelicans forward Anthony Davis said that while he didn’t get to work with Holiday much at Thursday’s practice, he assumed the team’s top guard will be effective right away.

“When you’re that good, it kind of stays with you,” Davis said.

Notes: Davis, who sat out Wednesday night’s loss at Orlando with a bruised right quadriceps, practiced on a limited basis Thursday and sounded optimistic about playing Friday. “It felt better, so hopefully it stays this way,” Davis said.

Watch Jamal Murray hit insane hand-switching layup around LeBron

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Are. You. Kidding. Me.

You are not going to see a better layup these playoffs than this one by Denver’s Jamal Murray, going around LeBron James near the end of the first half of Game 4.

Murray went up thinking dunk, had to change his mind because of LeBron, brought it down, went around him, and spun it in off the glass. Insane. It had some people on Twitter referencing the legendary Michael Jordan hand-switching shot. Not sure I’m willing to compare this Murray shot to a layup that helped launch a dynasty, but it’s close.

Murray had 16 in the first half but the Nuggets trailed at the break 60-55 in a high scoring first half. Anthony Davis had 19 to lead the Lakers.

Former Louisville star Donovan Mitchell “sad, angry, disgusted” with Breonna Taylor decision

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NBA players — like large swaths of the United States — are shaking their heads at the decision not to prosecute the police sho shot Breonna Taylor in her home. That includes LeBron James, who said the walls of Taylor’s neighbors got more justice than she did.

Now former Louisville star Donovan Mitchell has spoken out on the issue.

The hate and racism in too many of the responses to that Instagram post highlight the injustice and additional hurdles Black people in America have to clear every day.

Louisville has faced a night of protests and backlash to the decision by the grand jury, which included the two police officers getting shot (they both survived).

 

Report: Bulls paying Billy Donovan $6 million-plus annual salary

New Bulls coach and former Thunder coach Billy Donovan
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
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Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf just spent the NBA hiatus – at least if you looked beyond “The Last Dance” itself – getting dragged for not spending enough to give Michael Jordan another year of title contention in Chicago.

Paying to hire Billy Donovan is a way for Reinsdorf and the Bulls to repair their reputations.

Shams Charania of The Athletic:

I’d be surprised if all four years are fully guaranteed. Coaching contracts of this length usually contain a team option or two.

But that’s still a hefty salary. Especially in these times. Especially considering it was believed the Bulls would keep Jim Boylen for financial reasons.

Donovan left the Thunder despite them offering him a new contract. He likely knew he could get more elsewhere.

Credit Chicago for being the team to spend. The Bulls needed a solid coach after Boylen and Fred Hoiberg.

Donovan won’t solve all Chicago’s problems, but he should help on multiple fronts. This upgrade costs nothing but Reinsdorf’s money, which every Chicago fan is perfectly willing to spend.

NBA playoff schedule 2020: Date, time, matchup for every game

NBA playoff schedule 2020
AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images
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And there were four.

The NBA is down to the conference finals — and the bubble has provided us with upsets galore. There are some unexpected teams in the NBA’s Final Four, but of course LeBron James is still there. The Lakers are the heavy favorites at this point.

Here are a few notes on the NBA playoffs schedule 2020:

• The NBA is continuing to push the pace with games every other day — except in the East, when ESPN wants a break not to clash with the NFL, and to let the West catch up. The fast pace of games will return with the NBA Finals.
• Families for the players, and with the final four now the coaches, are in the bubble.
• The NBA has released an NBA Finals schedule to teams and their target is still a Sept. 30 Game 1. If either conference finals goes seven games that date will need to be pushed back.

Here is the NBA playoffs schedule 2020 (all times are Eastern):

EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS

No. 3 Boston Celtics vs. No. 5 Miami Heat

Game 1: Heat 117, Celtics 114, OT
Game 2: Heat 106, Celtics 101
Game 3: Celtics 117, Heat 106
Game 4: Heat 112, Celtics 109 (Miami leads series 3-1)
Game 5: Sept. 25, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Game 6: Sept. 27, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN)*
Game 7: TBD (ESPN)*
*If necessary

WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS

No. 1 Los Angeles Lakers vs. No. 3 Denver Nuggets

Game 1: Lakers 126, Nuggets 114
Game 2: Lakers 105, Nuggets 103
Game 3: Nuggets 114, Lakers 106 (Lakers lead series 2-1)
Game 4: Sept. 24, 9 p.m. (TNT)
Game 5: Sept. 26, 9 p.m. (TNT)
Game 6: Sept. 28, TBD (TNT)*
Game 7: Sept. 30, TBD (TNT)*
*If necessary

NBA playoffs schedule 2020: Second Round results

Eastern Conference

No. 3 Boston beat No. 2 Toronto 4-3

No. 5 Miami beat No. 1 Milwaukee 4-1

Western Conference

No. 1 Los Angeles Lakers beat Houston 4-1

No. 3 Denver beat No. 2 Los Angeles Clippers 4-3

NBA playoffs schedule 2020: First Round results

Western Conference

No. 1 Los Angeles Lakers beat No. 8 Portland 4-1

No. 2 L.A. Clippers beat No. 7 Dallas 4-2

No. 3 Denver beat No. 6 Utah 4-3

No. 4 Houston beat No. 5 Oklahoma City 4-3

Eastern Conference

No. 1 Milwaukee beat No. 8 Orlando 4-1

No. 2 Toronto beat No. 7 Brooklyn 4-0

No. 3 Boston beat No. 6 Philadelphia 4-0

No. 5 Miami beat No. 4 Indiana 4-0