Watch Marc Gasol score career-high 42 points in Grizzlies’ win over Raptors (video)

Leave a comment

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Marc Gasol scored a career-high 42 points, including the deciding two free throws with 36 seconds left, as the Memphis Grizzlies sent Toronto to its fifth straight loss with a 101-99 victory over the Raptors on Wednesday night.

Gasol’s final free throws ended a 12-0 run by the Raptors that tied the game at 99. Kyle Lowry‘s fadeaway 28-footer from the left wing bounced off the rim as time expired, saving Memphis from wasting Gasol’s career effort.

Zach Randolph finished with 16 points for Memphis, while Tony Allen had 15 points and 11 rebounds. Mike Conley had 11 points. Gasol converted 14 of 25 shots, including going 5 of 10 from 3-point range.

Lowry led the Raptors with 29 points, including 14 points in the fourth quarter, to lead Toronto’s final charge. Norman Powell had 21 points and Cory Joseph finished with 15 points.

The teams were close until the latter stages of the third quarter as Gasol continued to score both inside and from distance. He had 13 points in the third. The Grizzlies outscored Toronto 14-7 over the final minutes of the period, carrying an 87-77 lead into the fourth.

The Memphis lead would reach 12 – the Grizzlies largest of the game — after Conley’s floater to start the fourth quarter. The Grizzlies rallied behind Lowry, scoring 12 straight. He had 10 of those points, including a 4-point play.

The Toronto rally tied the game at 99 with 1:31 remaining. But Gasol’s final free throws meant the difference.

TIP-INS

Raptors: The Raptors suffered their first five-game losing streak since Feb. 21-28, 2015. .Starting G DeMar DeRozan missed his second game with a sprained right ankle suffered in fourth quarter of Sunday’s against the Suns.He did not travel with the team to Memphis. .Lowry finished the game 11 of 21 from the field, including 4 of 10 from outside the arc. . C Jonas Valanciunas had 12 rebounds. He has grabbed at least 10 rebounds in eight of the last nine games.

Grizzlies: Forwards Chandler Parsons and JaMychal Green, both of whom have started for Memphis, sat out with knee injuries. That meant the Grizzlies dressed only nine players. … Gasol recorded his 20th game this season with multiple 3-pointers, and his fourth game with at least 30 points. . Vince Carter was assessed a technical foul for a slap to Lowry’s head on his shot from beyond midcourt at the end of the first half. Lowry made the free throw before the start of the second half.

QUICK STARTS

Both teams got out quickly with accurate shooting. Gasol made his first six shots, including three from outside the arc. By the final minutes of the first quarter, Memphis had made 11 of 14 to start the game, and Toronto was 11 of 16.

VINCE THE ELDER

Carter, the oldest active player in the NBA, turns 40 Thursday. Carter, who spent his first six years in the NBA in Toronto, also has had stops with the Nets in New Jersey, Orlando, Phoenix and Dallas before arriving with the Grizzlies in 2014. The crowd sang Happy Birthday to Carter in the break between the first and second quarters, leading to a smile and a wave from the reserve forward when he returned to play at the start of the second.

PACK YOUR BAGS

Memphis sets out on a 10-day, six-game road trip after the game. The journey is the longest for the Grizzlies since they were gone for six games between March 24 and April 1, 2007.

UP NEXT

Raptors: Toronto returns home Friday to face the Milwaukee Bucks in the first of a three-game homestand.

Grizzlies: Start the six-game road trip Friday in Portland against the Trail Blazers

Stephen Jackson speaks passionately at a rally in remembrance of his “twin” George Floyd

Stephen Maturen/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Stephen Jackson, the former NBA player and current ESPN analyst, knew George Floyd from when he pair grew up near each other in Texas.

Friday, Jackson spoke about the man he called his “twin” at a rally Minneapolis City Hall Rotunda (an event with Timberwolves players Karl-Anthony Towns and Josh Okogie in attendance. (Video via Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic, there is NSFW language involved.)

“I’m here because they’re not gonna demean the character of George Floyd, my twin. A lot of times, when police do things they know that’s wrong, the first thing they try to do is cover it up, and bring up their background, to make it seem like the bulls*** that they did was worthy. When was murder ever worthy? But if it’s a black man, it’s approved.

“You can’t tell me, when that man has his knee on my brother’s neck β€” taking his life away, with his hand in his pocket β€” that that smirk on his face didn’t say, ‘I’m protected.’ You can’t tell me that he didn’t feel that it was his duty to murder my brother, and that he knew he was gonna get away with it. You can’t tell me that wasn’t the look on his face.”

There has been a powerful reaction across the NBA world β€” and across the nation β€” in the wake of the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery (a 25-year-old black man killed while jogging in a Georgia neighborhood) and Floyd. In a sport with many black players, the murders of these men were reminders of the systemic race issues still part of American culture. LeBron James captured the feelings of many players and others when he took to Instagram.

View this post on Instagram

STILL!!!! 🀬😒😀

A post shared by LeBron James (@kingjames) on

Derek Chauvin, the man pictured kneeling on Floyd’s neck β€” which he did for more than eight-and-a-half minutes β€” was fired from his job in the Minneapolis Police Department and was arrested on Friday and charged with third-degree murder.

Vote on NBA restart format expected next Thursday, here are four plans on the table

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver
Stacy Revere/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The NBA is almost guaranteed to return to action in July, with the games taking place in Orlando.

What format the return takes is undecided, but the owners are expected to vote on that next Thursday, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

On Friday’s conference call with owners, Adam Silver reportedly laid out four options for them, something Shams Charania of The Athletic reported.

There was no consensus behind any one option, teams are all lobbying for what they want to see. Come next Thursday, Adam Silver is going to have to make a recommendation and get everyone to line up behind it, something the owners and players will do. This is Silver’s call.

Let’s break those options down.

β€’ 16 teams going directly into playoffs. This is the cleanest, most straightforward option, and it has support from a number of owners. This keeps the number of people in the bubble relatively small, making it easier to maintain the safety of players, coaches, staff, and everyone involved. The league likely would keep the conference format rather than go to 1-16 seeding (many owners from the Eastern Conference and coastal cities reportedly are not fans of 1-16 and fear if they do it once, even in this unique season, it would become a regular thing).

One downside is players have asked for some regular season games β€” or games with meaning β€” before the playoffs to get their legs under them, this does not provide any (increasing the risk of injury). The other downside is this takes almost half the NBA’s markets and tells them “you’re done, no games from March until Christmas (the expected date for the tip-off of next season, or maybe a week or two earlier). That’s a long time without games and can hurt momentum for those franchises.

β€’ 20 teams, group play for the first round. This is the World Cup soccer idea, with four groups of five teams each and the top two teams in each group advancing to the playoffs. Some fans and teams backed this idea because it provided a bit of randomness to the mix β€” soccer sees a lot of upsets in this format. On the flip side, the top teams were not fans of this plan for the same reason.

The buzz around the league is this format is basically dead to the owners.

β€’ 22 teams with regular season games to determine seeding, followed by a play-in tournament to the 16-team playoffs. This idea, in a couple of different forms (one with just 20 teams, some with 24) has some momentum. The idea is the 22 teams β€” all teams within six games off the last playoff spot in each conference, which is the Wizards in the East and the Trail Blazers, Pelicans, Kings, Spurs, and Suns in the West β€” would play eight regular season games, then standings at the end of those games would set up the play-in tournament for the eighth seed. After that, the playoffs would start. This gets more markets involved, gets some regular season games (helping some regional sports networks), and still has a full playoffs.

There are downsides. It brings more people into the bubble and is that risk worth the reward? There are going to be some meaningless regular season games here, both by teams eliminated and teams locked into their playoff spots (the Lakers and Bucks will treat these games like exhibitions). It also adds a couple of weeks to the season and pushes the end-date back deeper into September and maybe October.

β€’ 30 teams, a regular season to get to 72 games, then a play-in tournament followed by the playoffs. This is the idea to “finish” the regular season. We’re not going to waste time on it because my sources, and those of other reporters, have called this one dead on arrival.

Silver is going to get lobbied all week by different factions backing different plans, but by next Thursday he has to pick a one he can sell to owners and to players. There are no good options, he has to choose the least bad one.

From there, players will get called back to market for workouts and the clock will start.

So long as the league can keep everyone safe.

Bradley Beal: Contract extension gives Wizards opportunity, me flexibility

Wizards guard Bradley Beal
Patrick Smith/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Bradley Beal, through word and action, has shown an incredibly strong commitment to the Wizards.

But is there an opening to pry him from Washington?

Beal on his contract extension, via “All The Smoke“:

It was definitely tough. I came down to damn near the deadline on my decision, because I kind of play devil’s advocate. The whole year, I’m weighing pros and cons of staying or leaving, signing and not signing. Do I wait and try to sign this summer? Or do I wait and try to get traded? Or do I wait and play my contract out? So, I had a bunch of options.

I secured two more years. I have two more years here. Well, three. And, so for me, it was like that puts me – to me, I don’t think I’m going to hit my prime until I’m – what? – 29, 28, 29, 30? And so I feel like – at the end of this extension, it puts me right there. And it so kind of puts me in the prime time of my basketball. And so it still gives me the flexibility with also giving my respects and loyalty to the organization that drafted me. So, I’m still giving you all an opportunity here to make it with work with John, to make it work with everybody. So, here we go. We’ve got a couple more years. And granted, I think my extension is the length of John’s contract, as well. So, this is the time we’ve got. We’re going to see what we can do, and we’re going to make it work.

Beal on the Nets being interested in trading for him, via Jackie MacMullan of ESPN:

“It’s not the first time I’ve heard this kind of talk,” Beal told ESPN. “It’s interesting. To me, I look at it as a sign of respect, that I’ve been doing good things and guys want to play with me.

“That’s an unbelievable feeling. When you hear that Kyrie [Irving] and KD [Kevin Durant] want you, s—, that’s amazing. At the same time, you don’t know how much there is to it, or how easy it would be to do. And I’ve put down roots in D.C. I’ve dedicated myself to this town, this community. I love it here, and it would feel great to know I could grind out winning here instead of jumping to another team.

“But I’d be naive to say that I don’t think about it when these stories come up.”

Beal, 26, is locked up two more seasons. Both he and John Wall have player options for 2022-23. Beal’s agent, Mark Bartelstein, declared: “There are no Beal Sweepstakes.”

Everything Beal has said and done about staying in Washington is far more concrete than anything he has indicated about leaving.

But…

It’s interesting how close he came to not signing his extension. It’s interesting he publicly admitted to thinking about trade interest from other teams.

To me, Beal sounds like Anthony Davis – after years of stating loyalty to the Pelicans – subtly hinting he was dissatisfied in New Orleans. The key: Davis requested a trade only after the Pelicans kept struggling to build around him.

Beal is giving the Wizards an opportunity. Maybe they can assemble a winner around him. But even if Wall gets healthy, that’s a tough job.

If Washington becomes successful in the next couple years, great. That’s easy. Beal seems to be looking for reasons to stay.

But if the Wizards keep losing the next couple years, other teams will definitely line up to acquire the star shooting guard. Many players in that situation have greased the wheels of their exit by saying they won’t re-sign or even outright requesting a trade.

We’ll see how Washington does. We’ll see what Beal does at that point.

Considering Beal previously said he’d finish his career with the Wizards if he can control it, these recent interviews leave the door cracked slightly – only slightly – more ajar for Beal to depart.

Report: NBA targeting July 31 to resume games

Raptors guard Kyle Lowry and Nets center Jarrett Allen
Mike Stobe/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Only one key question about the NBA’s resumption – Where? (Disney World) – had a fairly clear answer.

Who? Why? How?

Those all remain up in the air.

But we can now pinpoint: When?

Shams Charania of The Athletic:

July 31 is a Friday. So, that could begin a fun weekend of basketball.

But remember: Coronavirus can upend the best-laid plans. So, while feels like the resolution we’ve all been craving, it’s only a goal.

Still, it’s nice to have a date to look forward to.