Watch Trae Young put up season high 56, Hawks fall to Blazers anyway

0 Comments

PORTLAND, Ore. — Anfernee Simons had a career-high 43 points and the Portland Trail Blazers overcame an NBA season-best 56 points by Atlanta’s Trae Young, snapping a four-game losing streak in a 136-131 win over the Hawks on Monday night.

Young shot 17 for 26 from the field, 7 for 12 from 3-point distance and 15 for 15 from the line for his career-high scoring total, and added 14 assists. His 56-point game eclipsed Kevin Durant’s 51-point performance for the Nets at Detroit on Dec. 12. Golden State’s Stephen Curry and Boston’s Jaylen Brown have had 50-point games this season.

Young became the first player with 50-plus points and 14-plus assists in a game since James Harden with the Houston Rockets on Dec. 31, 2016.

Simons had a career-high nine 3-pointers, the most for a Portland player this season. After missing Portland’s last game, Simons started in place of All-Star Damian Lillard, who was out because of injury management.

Portland trailed at the start of the final quarter, but took a 112-107 lead after Ben McLemore’s layup and Nassir Little’s 3-pointer with 7:43 left. Simons’ floater extended the lead to 118-111, but the persistent Hawks kept it close down the stretch.

Young came down hard on the court after an attempted layup with less than a minute left, but recovered to make a pair of free throws that closed the gap to 127-125.

Jusuf Nukic made a layup and added a free throw to make it 130-125 and Portland held on for the win.

Atlanta coach Nate McMillan entered the league’s health and safety protocol on Saturday. But six Hawks players were available to return from protocols for the game against the Blazers, including Sharife Cooper, Danilo Gallinari, Kevin Huerter, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, Onyeka Okongwu and Delon Wright.

Five Hawks, including Bogdan Bogdanovic, remain in the protocol. At one point, Atlanta was without a league-high 12 players.

Joe Prunty took over in McMillan’s absence. The Hawks were coming off a 121-118 win in Cleveland on Friday that snapped a three-game losing streak.

The Blazers were without Lillard because of abdominal tendinopathy, which has bothered him since the Olympics. The team was also still missing backcourt teammate CJ McCollum because of a collapsed lung.

But Nurkic, the starting center, returned from the protocols for the game against the Hawks, announcing his availability personally via Twitter. He finished with 21 points and 12 rebounds.

Blazers coach Chauncey Billups also was back on the sideline after missing three games.

Portland jumped out to a 18-7 lead midway through the opening quarter. Atlanta perked up after its sluggish start, taking a 37-36 lead on Delon Wright’s 3-pointer.

The Blazers reclaimed the lead and went up 58-46 on Nassir Little’s 3-pointer. Portland led 70-65 at the break.

Young had 29 points and nine assists in the first half. He has scored 29 or more points in 16 straight games to tie Dominique Wilkins’ team record, set between December 1985 and January 1986.

The Hawks took a 91-90 lead on Huerter’s layup and held on for a 105-100 lead going into the final quarter.

Pelican’s Green says Zion ‘dominated the scrimmage pretty much’

0 Comments

The Zion hype train keeps right on rolling. First were the reports he was in the best shape of his life, then he walked into media day and it looked like he is.

Now Zion has his own hype man in Pelicans coach Willie Green, who said he dominated the first day of team scrimmages. Via Andre Lopez of ESPN.

“Z looked amazing,” Pelicans coach Willie Green said on Wednesday afternoon. “His strength, his speed. He dominated the scrimmage pretty much.”

“What stood out was his force more than anything,” Green said. “He got down the floor quickly. When he caught the ball, he made quick decisions. Whether it was scoring, finding a teammate. It was really impressive to see.”

Reach for the salt shaker to take all this with — it’s training camp scrimmages. Maybe Zion is playing that well right now — he’s fully capable, he was almost an All-NBA player in 2020-21 (eighth in forward voting) before his foot injury — but we need to see it against other teams. In games that matter. Then we’ll need to see it over a stretch of time.

If Zion can stay healthy this season, if his conditioning is where everyone says it is, he could be in for a monster season. Combine that with CJ McCollum, Brandon Ingram and a strong supporting cast in New Orleans, and the Pelicans could surprise a lot of people — and be fun to watch.

 

PBT Podcast: What’s next for Celtics, Suns? Should NBA end one-and-done?

0 Comments

NBA training camps just opened and teams have yet to play a preseason game, but already two contenders are dealing with problems.

The Celtics have the suspension of coach Ime Udoka as a distraction, plus defensive anchor center Robert Williams will miss at least the start of the season following another knee surgery.

The Suns have the distraction of a suspended owner who is selling the team, plus Jae Crowder is out and demanding a trade, and Deandre Ayton does not seem happy.

Corey Robinson of NBC Sports and myself go through all the training camp news, including the wilder ones with the Lakers and Nets, breaking down what to take away from all that — plus how good Zion Williamson and James Harden look physically.

Then the pair discusses the potential of the NBA doing away with the one-and-done role and letting 18-year-olds back in the game — is that good for the NBA?

You can always watch the video of some of the podcast above, or listen to the entire podcast below, listen and subscribe via iTunes at ApplePodcasts.com/PBTonNBC, subscribe via the fantastic Stitcher app, check us out on Google Play, or anywhere else you get your podcasts.

We want your questions for future podcasts, and your comments, so please feel free to email us at PBTpodcast@gmail.com.

Report: Price tag on Phoenix Suns could be more than $3 billion

Phoenix Suns v Los Angeles Clippers - Game Six
Harry How/Getty Images
0 Comments

In 2004, Robert Sarver bought the Phoenix Suns for a then-record $401 million.

When Sarver sells the team now — pushed to do so following the backlash prompted by an NBA report that found an 18-year pattern of bigotry, misogyny, and a toxic workplace — he is going to make a massive profit.

The value of the Suns now is at $3 billion or higher, reports Ramona Shelburne and Baxter Holmes of ESPN.

There will be no shortage of bidders for the team, with league sources predicting a franchise valuation of more than $3 billion now that revenue has rebounded following the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and with a new television rights deal and CBA on the horizon. Sarver purchased the team for just over $400 million in 2004.

Saver currently owns 35% of the Suns (the largest share), but reports say his role as managing partner allows him to sell the entire team (the minority owners have to comply, although they would make a healthy profit, too). Sarver also decides who to sell the team to, not the NBA or other owners.

Early rumors of buyers have included Larry Ellison (founder of Oracle), Bob Iger (former Disney CEO), Laurene Powell Jobs (widow of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, she has a 20% share of the Washington Wizards), and others. There have been no reports of talks yet, and Sarver does not need to be on a rushed timeline.

Meanwhile, a contending Suns team tries to focus on the season despite the owner selling the team, Jae Crowder not being in training camp and pushing for a trade, and Deandre Ayton does not sound happy to be back with the Suns.

Steve Nash on his relationship with Kevin Durant: ‘We’re good’

0 Comments

In an effort to gain leverage for a trade this offseason, Kevin Durant threw down a “either the coach and GM are gone or I am” ultimatum.

Now coach Steve Nash (and GM Sean Marks) are back in Brooklyn, on the same team and trying to build a contender together. Awkward? Not if you ask Nash, which is what Nick Friedell of ESPN did.

“We’re fine,” Nash said after the Nets’ first official practice of the season on Tuesday. “We’re good. Ever since we talked, it’s been like nothing’s changed. I have a long history with Kevin. I love the guy. Families have issues. We had a moment and it’s behind us. That’s what happens. It’s a common situation in the league.

“We all were hurting, seething, to go through what we went through last year, not being able to overcome all that adversity. Sometimes you lose perspective because you expect to win, but the reality is we were able to talk and discuss what we can improve on from last year. And also keep perspective. We went through a ton of stuff.”

First off, what else was Nash going to say? He knows the power dynamic in the NBA, and Durant has far more leverage than he does — not enough to get Nash fired this summer, but still more than the coach.

Second, Nash could be telling the truth from his perspective. NBA players and coaches understand better than anyone this is a business and things are rarely personal. Grudges are not held like fans think they are (most of the time). Nash saw Durant’s move for what it was — an effort to create pressure — and can intellectually shrug it off, reach out to KD and talk about the future.

What this brings into question was one of the Nets’ biggest issues last season — mental toughness and togetherness. Do the Nets have the will to fight through adversity and win as a team? Individually Durant, Kyrie Irving, Nash and others have shown that toughness in the past, but as a team it was not that hard to break the will of the Nets last season. Are their relationships strong enough, is their will strong enough this season?

It feels like we will find out early. If the wheels come off the Nets’ season, it feels like it will happen early and by Christmas things could be a full-on dumpster fire. Or maybe Nash is right and they are stronger than we think.