De’Aaron Fox scores 36, leads Kings past Clippers for fourth straight win

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LOS ANGELES — De'Aaron Fox scored 36 points, Buddy Hield added 22 and the Sacramento Kings beat the Los Angeles Clippers 113-110 on Sunday for their fourth straight victory.

The Kings are 7-1 since suffering a 19-point drubbing by the Clippers on Jan. 20.

“It was a real scrappy win on this back-to-back with an early start,” Kings coach Luke Walton said.

Sacramento has won seven of eight for the first time since 2006, the last time the team made the playoffs.

“We’re playing defense. That’s the biggest thing about what we’re doing right now. We knew we’re able to score with anybody. When we’ve needed stops we’ve been able to get them,” Fox said. “If we can stay locked in defensively and we can keep our turnovers down, we can give ourselves a chance to win.”

Lou Williams scored 23 points off the bench for the Clippers, who dropped two in a row for the first time this season. Kawhi Leonard had 20 points and 10 rebounds as they played without injured Paul George. The Clippers’ reserves outscored the starters, 57-53, and the LA bench outscored the Kings’ reserves, 57-30.

“Kawhi was a little worn out,” Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said. “Guys’ legs were a little tired, they couldn’t make shots. Our starters didn’t have much.”

Neither team led by more than nine points in the back-and-forth affair that featured 11 ties.

Nicolas Batum‘s potential tying 3-pointer missed in the closing seconds for the Clippers.

Williams’ pair of free throws tied the game for the last time at 103-all. From there, the Kings stayed in front. Leonard cut Sacramento’s lead to 107-106, but Harrison Barnes scored off his own offensive rebound.

Rookie Tyrese Haliburton hit back-to-back 3-pointers that put the Kings ahead by five early in the fourth. Williams scored five points in a 7-0 run that put the Clippers ahead 97-95.

Fox answered with consecutive 3-pointers to take back a 103-101 lead for the Kings.

“His speed and quickness really hurt us,” Lue said of Fox. “He was able to attack us all night and get into the paint and cause havoc.”

Los Angeles rallied from a seven-point deficit in the third to lead 80-79, helped by nine straight points from four different players. Fox scored Sacramento’s final six points of the quarter.

George missed his second straight game with what was initially described as a sore right foot. More specifically, it’s a bone edema in his toe, which is a buildup of fluid within the bone marrow. There is no timetable for his return as he awaits the swelling to go down, Lue said. “He’s a little disappointed, especially the way he’s been playing,” Lue said.

Knicks’ Obi Toppin out at least 2-3 weeks with knee fracture

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Obi Toppin is a fan favorite and Knicks faithful were hoping to see more of him as the season progresses.

However, they are not going to see any of him for at least the next 2-3 weeks due to a fractured knee, the team announced.

Toppin suffered the injury in New York’s win Wednesday over Atlanta, the same game that saw Dejounte Murray sprain his ankle leading him to be out for a few weeks.

Toppin — the reigning All-Star Weekend Slam Dunk contest champion — is averaging 7.7 points in 25 games off the bench. With him out, coach Tom Thibodeau suggested he could lean more on RJ Barrett, asking him to play up at the four.

Report: Zach LaVine not available for trade from Bulls

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Front offices of potential contenders from Los Angeles to Philadelphia have their eyes on the Chicago Bulls — will the struggling Bulls pivot to chase Victor Wembanyama and the top of the lottery, making them sellers at the trade deadline? Teams have interest in Chicago’s three stars: Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, and Nikola Vucevic.

Except just-extended LaVine isn’t currently available, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said Wednesday on his network’s pregame show discussing the Knicks.

“The Knicks will be watching Chicago. Is Zach LaVine a player who before the deadline possibly can become available? He certainly isn’t now.”

Chicago is not yet ready to pivot to tanking, so none of its stars are truly available. That said, the Bulls don’t look like a playoff team, they miss Lonzo Ball, and even if things do come together where do they stand in the East hierarchy? If the Bulls do become sellers, they aren’t going to tear this team down to the studs, it would likely be trading just one star. Possibly a second if the offer was strong enough.

LaVine — who signed a five-year, $215 million extension this past summer — is the least likely to be available, league sources have told NBC Sports. The expectation is that Vucevic would be the Bull first made available if the Bulls decide to start seriously listening to offers. And that remains an “if.”

That said, front offices around the league have their eyes trained on Chicago.

Dejounte Murray added to growing Hawks injury report, out 2-3 weeks with sprained ankle

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John Collins is out for at least another week with a sprained ankle. DeAndre Hunter has been out with a strained hip flexor.

Now you can add Dejounte Murray to the Hawks’ growing injury report, he is out at least 2-3 weeks with a sprained ankle, Shams Charania and Sam Amick of The Athletic report.

The injury happened on a closeout from RJ Barrett of the Knicks.

The Hawks have already had chemistry and fit issues this season, and missing key players for an extended period only exacerbates the problem. Atlanta looked flat getting their doors blown off by the Knicks Wednesday night, 113-89, a game that added to a string where they have lost 5-of-7. Now they will have to find a way to right the ship without their second-best playmaker.

There also is an update on the Hawks’ play-by-play announcer Bob Rathbun.

NBA, WNBA players react to news Brittney Griner coming home

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Brittney Griner is finally coming home.

The WNBA and USA Basketball star has spent 10 months in Russian prisons — including being convicted and sent to a Russian penal colony — for having vape canisters with small amounts of cannabis oil in her luggage as she went through Russian airport security back in February. She became a political pawn in the tensions between the United States and Russia, mostly surrounding Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine, and was freed via a prisoner swap announced Thursday.

The basketball world — WNBA players in particular — had worked to keep her name front and not let Griner be forgotten during this ordeal, pushing President Joe Biden and the government to reach a deal. With the news Griner was freed, NBA and WNBA players took to social media to react.

“Brittney has had to endure an unimaginable situation and we’re thrilled that she is on her way home to her family and friends,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said. “We thank the members of the NBA and WNBA community who never wavered in their efforts to raise awareness of Brittney’s unjust circumstances.”

“We are overwhelmed with relief and gratitude that our sister Brittney Griner is finally coming home,” the NBPA said in a statement. “Her strength and courage throughout this last year have been truly remarkable, as have the efforts of her wife Cherelle, our WNBPA sisters, Terri Jackson and the WNBPA staff, who have been relentless in their call to bring Brittney home. We know this homecoming would not have been possible without their unwavering support and continued work to keep BG always top of mind, and our players are honored to have contributed to those efforts. While this is a celebratory moment for our sisters and us, we must not forget the other political prisoners who remain in dire circumstances all over the world. These individuals must be remembered and fought for every single day as BG was so that they too can have this moment. Welcome home Brittney, we are so happy to have you back! #WeAreBG”