Murray scores 48 as Nuggets beat Celtics 115-107

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DENVER (AP) — Jamal Murray simply got caught up in the moment when he hoisted a long shot with the clock winding down.

He took some heat for it. No disrespect meant, he maintained.

Murray scored a career-high 48 points, including 19 in the fourth quarter, and the Denver Nuggets overcame a sluggish start to beat the Boston Celtics 115-107 on Monday night.

The point guard knew he was on from his first jumper – a deep 3-pointer. He realized he might have ruffled some feathers with his last – an even deeper 3 in an effort to score 50.

“My emotion took over as it normally does when I get going like that,” Murray explained.

Murray was feeling it all night, hitting 19 of 30 shots, including five 3s. He had two attempts to reach 50 points in the final seconds, but missed a reverse layup and then that 3 at the buzzer – one that bothered the Celtics with the game already decided.

“What kind of competitor wouldn’t it bother? I was (mad), but we’re not going to make a big thing about it,” said Kyrie Irving, who scored 31 points on 13-of-17 shooting. “But congratulations to him on 48 points. He did it in a great fashion.”

Nuggets coach Michael Malone said the veterans on his team talked to Murray about the late shot.

“He’s young. He’s still learning,” Malone said. “You never want to try to disrespect anybody. It wasn’t disrespect. He was trying to get to 50 points.”

At 9-1, the Nuggets are earning a measure of respect around the NBA as they’re off to their best start since 1976-77. They’re 6-0 at home, including wins over Golden State and now Boston.

“We’ve accomplished nothing,” Murray said. “Keep trusting each other and get the job done.”

Denver spotted the Celtics an 18-point lead in the first quarter but quickly made up ground behind Murray, who scored 23 in the first half.

In a matchup between two of the league’s top defenses, it was offense that ruled on this night.

More specifically, Murray.

He took over the game in the fourth quarter, hitting a pair of 3-pointers to give the Nuggets some breathing room. The Celtics even tried to double-team him.

It didn’t work.

“He was rolling,” Boston coach Brad Stevens said. “He got a couple of easy ones out of the gate that I think made him feel good. He deserves credit.”

The Nuggets needed a big game from Murray because the Celtics found some rhythm. Malone knew it was just a matter of time before a streaky Boston offense started consistently knocking down jumpers. He was just hoping it would happen after Monday.

“Their offense is trending in the right direction,” Malone said. “Couple that with their defense, which can be suffocating at times, and that’s what makes them such a dangerous team – a team that’s going to go very, very deep in the playoffs.”

 

Kings hire WNBA’s Lindsey Harding as assistant coach

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — The Sacramento Kings have hired former WNBA player Lindsey Harding as an assistant and player development coach on Luke Walton’s staff.

The team also hired Stacey Augmon and Rico Hines on Friday.

Harding played nine years in the WNBA before working as a pro personnel scout and then player development coach for the Philadelphia 76ers.

She becomes the latest woman to serve as a coach in the NBA, joining others like Boston’s Kara Lawson, San Antonio’s Becky Hammon, Dallas’ Jenny Boucek and Cleveland’s Lindsay Gottlieb.

The Kings have a history of hiring female coaches, notably Nancy Lieberman and Boucek.

 

Wizards reportedly to finally remove interim tag from GM Tommy Sheppard

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Tommy Sheppard has been doing the work as the Wizards GM since April when Wizards owner Ted Leonsis finally ended Ernie Grunfeld’s run as team GM.

Sheppard was the GM through the draft. Through free agency. All the time with the “interim” tag on his job title. In Las Vegas for Summer League, plenty of other executives wondered why that tag was still on Sheppard’s title.

It’s finally coming off, reports Candace Buckner of the Washington Post.

The Washington Wizards removed the interim tag from Tommy Sheppard’s title Friday, promoting him to be the 12th general manager in franchise history, according to a person with knowledge of the situation…

The promotion of Sheppard, who will be entering his 17th season with the Wizards, mirrors the internal hiring decision Leonsis made with his hockey team. In 2014, Leonsis elevated Brian MacLellan as the Washington Capitals senior vice president and general manager after firing George McPhee. Before the promotion, MacLellan had spent the previous seven years under McPhee as an assistant general manager.

This likely will be made official in the next 48-72 hours.

Part of the delay may have been that a couple of prominent names were linked to the Wizards job at different times. There were reportedly talks with Tim Conley, who built Denver into a real threat, but he decided to stay in the Rockies. There were rumors of Masai Ujiri coming to the District, but he has chosen to stay in Toronto after winning a title.

Making Sheppard the full-time GM provides some stability just as the Wizards reach their most important moment of the summer.

On July 26 the Wizards can offer star two guard Bradley Beal a three-year, $111 million extension. The Wizards have been talking to Beal’s people and the offer will be made.

What Beal decides will decide the Wizards future for years. If Beal doesn’t sign that offer, the Wizards have to look at trading him. If he signs it, they need to build more around him.

Beal has spoken numerous times in the past about wanting to stay with the Wizards. However, there was plenty of informed speculation at Summer League that he is frustrated with the franchise and could choose to not sign it and essentially force his way out.

Either way, Beal’s decision will define the next steps for Sheppard for years.

 

Child tries to call out James Harden for step-back travels, he says it’s no travel

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If you tried this move in a high-school game 10 years ago, you would have been called for traveling.

In today’s NBA, as the rules are interpreted, James Harden‘s step back is not a travel.

At an event on Friday, a young fan tried to call Harden out on the travel and he defended himself. Via Kelly Iko of The Athletic.

Harden’s stepback is not a travel (when he executes it properly). Even if it looks like it is.

Here is the play in question.

The official response — meaning from officials:

I know when you played Junior High basketball in 2002 that was a travel, but the NBA hasn’t called it that way in years.

The NBA rule here (Rule 10, Section XIII) simplified is a “gather and two steps.” Meaning one step while Harden is gathering the ball, plus two more. Nobody pushes the boundary of the gather step like Harden, he has mastered the grey area. But when he executes it properly — and he doesn’t every time — it’s not a travel.

No matter what that young boy’s father tells him.

Justin Holiday reportedly reaches deal with Pacers, will join forces with brother

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The Pacers just added the wing depth and some defense at the position they have been looking for.

It’s through someone they have long had their eye on, Justin Holiday, the six-year NBA veteran who split time last season between Chicago and Memphis. He has reached an agreement to join the Pacers — and his brother, Aaron Holiday — for a season in Indiana. Shams Charania of The Athletic broke the news.

The Pacers have been in touch with Holiday for a while, reports J. Michael of the Indy Star.

Holiday averaged 10.5 points a game last season, shot 34.7 percent from three, and played solid wing defense.

Victor Oladipo is the team’s best wing player, once he returns from injury (the Pacers are hoping around Christmas or a little after). Beyond him there is Jeremy Lamb, C.J. Wilcox, T.J. Warren, Doug McDermott, and Brian Bowen. Holiday can find minutes in that group.

This also sparks the dream of an all T.J./Holiday lineup. The Pacers have two Holidays, Justin and Aaron, as well as three un-related players named T.J. — T.J. McConnell, T.J. Warren, and T.J. Leaf. We need to see those five on the court together next season, if only for a few minutes.