Kemba Walker
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Hornets end losing skid, top Brooklyn 111-107

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) Someone’s streak was going to continue Tuesday. The Charlotte Hornets were simply happy it wasn’t them as they snapped a seven-game losing streak and held onto a 111-107 victory over the Brooklyn Nets.

Charlotte (24-28) had not won since a Jan. 21 triumph over Brooklyn. The Nets (9-43) dropped their 10th straight, and still have not won since a Jan. 20 victory at New Orleans.

“We needed that game,” Charlotte forward Nicolas Batum said. “We’re back home. We need to protect our home court and we needed to win that game.”

Batum, Kemba Walker and Marco Belinelli each had 17 points to lead the Hornets as seven players scored in double-digits in a game where Charlotte’s lead ballooned to as many as 17 points in the second quarter thanks to a quick start.

Bojan Bogdanovic scored 22 points and Brook Lopez added 20 for the Nets.

Jeremy Lamb tallied 16 points for the Hornets, while center Frank Kaminsky recorded 12 points, 11 rebounds and five assists.

“We dug ourselves a big hole in the first half,” Brooklyn coach Kenny Atkinson said. “Again, it was kind of a similar story – turnovers hurt us.”

The Nets tallied 18 turnovers, which resulted in 18 Hornets points.

“Turnovers are killing us because it allows them to have too many easy layups,” said Nets forward Bojan Bogdanovic. “Everybody talks about defense, but I think also we have to start with the offense to limit turnovers.”

In Brooklyn’s last four games, the Nets are averaging 19.5 turnovers per game.

In this game, the Hornets pulled away early, using a 10-0 run in the first quarter to take a 14-4 advantage with 5:28 left in that period. In all, Brooklyn scored just 16 first-quarter points compared to Charlotte’s 24. Only the Nets’ 14-point first quarter on Jan. 21 was a smaller opponent output for the Hornets this season.

But the Nets continued to attack, scoring nearly as many points in each the third and fourth quarters (35 each) as they scored in the entire first half (37). The Nets sliced Charlotte’s lead to 91-87 with 6:11 remaining when Joe Harris knocked in a 23-foot jumper.

Charlotte, however, countered with quick baskets from Marvin Williams and Belinelli to give the needed cushion.

“Winning in this league is hard,” Hornets coach Steve Clifford said. “We struggled to guard them, but we needed a win and that’s the most important thing.”

Charlotte’s All-Star guard Walker caused a small scare when he doubled-over from an elbow to the face by Harris as he drove to the basket with 1:45 left in the first quarter. Walker immediately came out of game and was tended to on the bench by medical staff.

He returned to the contest with 7:29 left in the second quarter.

TIP-INS

Nets: Spencer Dinwiddie started at point guard, as rookie Isaiah Whitehead was moved to the bench. It was Dinwiddie’s 12th game started in 29 contests with the Nets, and came about because Brooklyn still is searching for cohesive units. “It’s about getting guys in their comfort zone and figuring out which point guard fits with each group,” Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said. “Unfortunately, this late in the season, we’re still searching.” … Former Hornets guard Jeremy Lin missed a chance to play in front of the crowd he played for last season, sitting out because of a strained left hamstring. Lin has played in just 12 games for the Nets this season.

Hornets: Center Cody Zeller missed his eighth straight game with a quad contusion. The 7-foot Frank Kaminsky started at center for Charlotte, shifting from his typical power forward position. … Center Miles Plumlee, acquired via trade Feb. 2, played his first game in Charlotte. He scored four points on 2-for-3 shooting in 15 minutes.

3-POINT INACCURACY

Hornets coach Steve Clifford has identified one of the biggest problems plaguing his 23-28 squad: 3-point shooting. Namely, not making them.

“Our team was built around 3-point shooting,” Clifford said.

That is a problem this season, when the Hornets rank ninth in the NBA in 3-pointers attempted (27.6) per game, but are 20th in the league in accuracy at 35.4 percent.

Last season, Charlotte ranked fourth in the league in 3-point attempts (29.4) and was eighth in the NBA in accuracy at 36.2 percent.

UP NEXT

Nets: Brooklyn returns home Wednesday to host Washington.

Hornets: Charlotte hosts the Houston Rockets on Thursday in the second game of a four-game homestand.

Shaq doesn’t want LeBron James to chase rings to close his career

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Shaquille O’Neal was a dominant NBA center, playing with the Orlando Magic, Los Angeles Lakers, and Miami Heat.

He was also a ring chaser.

At the end of his career, O’Neal decided to switch between teams, including the Phoenix Suns, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Boston Celtics. It was an open and futile effort to beat his rival and former Lakers teammate Kobe Bryant in number of championships won.

After they retired, O’Neal finished with four championships to Bryant’s five.

Now, as Cavaliers star LeBron James starts to wrap up his own career, Shaq says that James should not follow in his footsteps. Specifically, O’Neal said that he thinks LeBron’s story has already been written, and that he should not try to chase rings elsewhere.

Via ESPN:

“Somebody told me a long time ago — they said your book is already set [before the later stages of your career]. You can add index pages toward the end, but your book is already set. So LeBron’s book is already set,” O’Neal said. “He done already passed up legends; he done already made his mark — he has three rings

I think I tend to agree with O’Neal on this point. Specifically, because the only thing that LeBron could do to boost his resume would be to win multiple championships, consecutively, to close his career. He would need to surpass Michael Jordan at six rings, and approach Bill Russell with 11.

I don’t particularly think that LeBron is trying to ring chase. He’s just trying to get with one good team to close his career (or the Lakers). I don’t think we will ever see LeBron skip around from team to team the way that O’Neal did in the twilight of his playing career.

We’re launching the PBT Mailbag, so what questions do you want answered?

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The 2017-18 NBA season is over, and the Golden State Warriors are champions once again. What that means the offseason is here, and for many fans that is the best time of the year. The summer in the NBA the past few years has given us some incredible stories. For many, this past postseason was rather boring, and the outcome was all but decided.

And so it is time to dig into our postseason favorites, starting with the 2018 NBA Draft. We here at Pro Basketball Talk would like to announce the start of our weekly mail bag, which will run each week on Wednesday mornings.

The first of mailbag will run this Wednesday, the day before the draft. Questions can be submitted via Twitter or by sending us an email directly at pbtmailbag@gmail.com.

The draft is obviously the big focus for many fans as we approach this next week, and much about the situation for many teams heading up into the event in Brooklyn is murky. If you have a burning question about the draft, now is the time to ask it.

Of course, you are encouraged to ask any kind of question you want to hear about from the Pro Basketball Talk crew such as:

  • Where is LeBron going?
  • Is a hotdog a sandwich?
  • Has Nick Young put his shirt back on yet?
  • Will Jordan Bell run out of Hennessy ever again?
  • Where will Kawhi Leonard play next season?

All of these questions are fair game, and more.

We are looking forward to the kind of queries you need answered on a weekly basis as we roll through the summer in anticipation for the start of the 2018-19 NBA season.

Report: Cavaliers have made calls to Spurs about Kawhi Leonard

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We still don’t know where San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard will end up playing at the start of the 2018-2019 NBA season.

The former NBA Finals MVP reportedly wants to head to Los Angeles, apparently to play for the Lakers. However, there are other teams in the mix for Leonard, and the Spurs themselves want to try to keep him and mend the relationship.

One intriguing team for Leonard is the Cleveland Cavaliers, who reportedly have made calls to San Antonio about landing their star. According to Cleveland.com writer Terry Pluto, the Cavs have made it known they are interested in Leonard.

It’s not clear whether that call was simple due diligence, a whack at trying to entice LeBron James to stay, or a long shot way to replace James if he decides to leave this summer.

The Cavaliers are hilariously over the cap for next season, and don’t have much to offer the Spurs that they’d likely want. The best player on the roster that helps match most of Leonard’s salary is Kevin Love, who already plays the position occupied by LaMarcus Aldridge.

Cleveland does have the No. 8 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, but that’s not enough to snag Leonard. If the Cavaliers had a realistic shot at getting Leonard, it would likely need to be in the form of a three-team deal with another party that has a need for Love.

NBA trades can be weird, and this summer is wrapping up to be a special one. However, Cleveland grabbing Leonard from San Antonio is still a long shot.

NBA players celebrate Father’s Day on social media

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Sunday was Father’s Day in the United States, and as such several players around the league decided to share their feelings on the national day of appreciation.

Many got together with their kids or with their fathers, posting photos and giving us a nice little peek into the family lives of some of the league’s players.

Some guys, like Baron Davis and Jameer Nelson, sent out messages wishing well to those whose fathers had passed on.

Via Instagram and Twitter:

Make sure you appreciate your pops today.