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China denies asking for Rockets GM Daryl Morey to be fired

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The rift between the NBA and China appeared to widen again Friday, as the fallout over Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey’s tweet in support of anti-government protesters in Hong Kong continued.

A day after NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said Chinese officials wanted Morey fired, a spokesman for China’s foreign ministry told reporters that no such demand was made by the government there. That becomes the latest chapter in the now 2-week-old saga over Morey’s tweet that was quickly deleted but has led to considerable damage to the long relationship between the NBA and China.

“I felt we had made enormous progress in terms of building cultural exchanges with the Chinese people,” Silver said Thursday during an appearance at the Time 100 Health Summit in New York. “Again, I have regret that much of that was lost. And I’m not even sure where we’ll go from here.”

That future seems even murkier now.

During that same appearance, Silver revealed that the Chinese government told the NBA it wanted Morey fired.

“Obviously, we made clear that we were being asked to fire him by the Chinese government, by the parties we dealt with, government and business,” Silver said. “We said, `There’s no chance that’s happening. There’s no chance we’ll even discipline him.”‘

But Friday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang rebutted by saying, “the Chinese government never posed this requirement.” Geng said last week that the NBA “knows better than anyone else” how to go about repairing the relationship with the Chinese, though did not offer specifics.

The league and LeBron James, one of its biggest stars, have been heavily criticized by some U.S. lawmakers for the perception that they caved to the Chinese regime. Morey has not been rebuked publicly by the league, and Silver has said that the league will support his freedom of expression.

“We wanted to make an absolute clear statement that the values of the NBA, these American values – we are an American business – travel with us wherever we go, and one of those values is free expression,” Silver said. “We wanted to make sure everyone understood we were supporting free expression.”

The Rockets were of massive interest in China, largely because of Yao Ming – the Chinese star who spent his entire NBA career in Houston. Yao is now the president of the Chinese Basketball Association, which has suspended its ties to the Rockets because of the tweet.

Morey has not commented publicly since a pair of tweets on Oct. 6 attempting to clarify his position.

“I understand there is a point of view from some that we shouldn’t be in business at all in China, and I’d say from an intellectual standpoint, that’s fair – not getting into whether the tweet or the response to it,” Silver said. “But if people believe that we shouldn’t be engaged in commerce in China or frankly in other places in the world … I, at some point, look to the American government.

“We’re in the middle of negotiating a trade agreement,” Silver continued. “Many multinational corporations do trade extensively with China. And if that’s ultimately how our government feels we should be dealing with China, again, we are a U.S. company.”

Chinese state broadcaster CCTV did not air the two NBA preseason games between the Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets last week. Tencent, which has a $1.5 billion deal to stream NBA games in China over the next five years, has also stopped showing Rockets games but has not totally dropped all NBA content.

“The losses have already been substantial,” Silver said. “Our games are not back on the air in China, as we speak, and we’ll see what happens next.”

Kawhi Leonard just destroyed Boston’s Daniel Theis on dunk

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Daniel Theis‘ play as a rim protector is one of the reasons Boston has a top-10 defense this season. He has anchored the Celtics’ defense in the paint.

Kawhi Leonard is a two-time Finals MVP, and if he wants to go to the rim nobody is stopping him. Theis found out the hard way.

After the game, Leonard was asked about the dunk and he responded in about the most Kawhi way possible.

This was the first game Leonard and Paul George played together and they combined for 42 points, and they both made key play down the stretch of a 107-104 overtime win.

It took Luka Doncic 25 minutes to put together 35-point triple-double (VIDEO)

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DALLAS (AP) — Luka Doncic scored 33 of his 35 points in the first half and had yet another triple-double to help the Dallas Mavericks rout the short-handed Golden State Warriors 142-94 on Wednesday night.

Doncic fell a point short of matching Dirk Nowitzki’s team record set Nov. 3, 2009, against Utah. In just 17 minutes, Doncic was 10 for 11 from the floor, making 6 of 7 3-pointers, and hit 7 of 8 free throws.

The second-year star from Slovenia had 22 points, five assists and five rebounds in the first quarter alone. He played only 25 minutes total, but still managed 10 rebounds and 11 assists.

Doncic was coming off a 40-point triple-double Monday night against San Antonio, and has an NBA-best seven triple-doubles in 14 games this season.

The Mavericks never trailed and tied a franchise record with 22 3-pointers while sending Golden State to its worst loss since a 1973 playoff game.

The Warriors, who ended a seven-game losing streak by beating Memphis on Tuesday night, are an NBA-worst 3-13. Their five-year run of at the top of the NBA has collapsed under a weight of injuries, with Draymond Green out Wednesday because of right heel soreness.

With Green out, Golden State dressed only eight players, none of whom suited up for the team last season when it made the NBA Finals for the fifth consecutive year.

Eric Paschall led the Warriors with 22 points.

Tim Hardaway Jr. added 20 for Dallas. Kristaps Porzingis had 14 points and 10 rebounds for his fourth-straight double-double.

 

Bulls’ Otto Porter Jr out 2 weeks with bone bruise in foot

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CHICAGO (AP) — The Chicago Bulls say forward Otto Porter Jr. has a bone bruise in his left foot and will be reassessed in two weeks.

The Bulls say a second MRI on Tuesday revealed the bruise, something “not apparent” on the first MRI.

“He had a second scan, and something showed up that didn’t show up on the first scan,” Bulls coach Jim Boylen told NBC Sports Chicago. “That’s tough, tough for him, feel bad for him. But we’ll treat him and move on.”

Chandler Hutchison had been filling in Porter’s spot in the rotation, but he is out indefinitely now with sore shins.

Porter, averaging 11.2 points in nine games, has been sidelined since he sprained his left foot at Atlanta on Nov. 6.

The Bulls were 4-10 with three straight losses heading into Wednesday’s game against Detroit.

Timberwolves’ new alternate uniforms resemble Minneapolis Lakers

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The Minneapolis Lakers’ history belongs to the Los Angeles Lakers. That’s why the Los Angeles Lakers claim the five championships the franchise won in Minneapolis and have worn light-blue Minneapolis throwbacks.

But Minnesota’s current NBA team – the Timberwolves – appear to be borrowing from that legacy.

The Timberwolves’ new alternate uniforms look awfully similar to the Minneapolis Lakers’ throwback:

Of course, the Timberwolves’ explanation contains no mention of the Minneapolis Lakers. The Timberwolves say the icy cool yet sky blue color … reflects the blue waters that are ubiquitous throughout the cities, namely the Mississippi River, which is outlined on the left side of the uniform.” It’s all about celebrating the Twin Cities – Minneapolis and St. Paul (MSP).

The best part: These alternates are officially branded as “City Edition” uniforms. The Timberwolves called theirs “Cities Edition.”