Joe Harris

Celtics fans wanted to boo Kyrie Irving, Kemba Walker drops 39 to show them what they have

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BOSTON (AP) — Kemba Walker returned from a neck injury to score a season-high 39 points — to the delight of the crowd that came to taunt the person he replaced — and Boston beat the Brooklyn Nets 121-110 Wednesday on a night the fans seemed more interested in taunting former Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving.

Missing one game after leaving the court on a stretcher wearing a neck brace following a head-to-torso collision with Semi Ojeleye, Walker had 13 points in the third quarter, when Boston scored nine straight to turn a one-point deficit into a 91-83 lead. Jaylen Brown added 22 points and 10 rebounds and Jayson Tatum had 16 points and nine boards for the Celtics, who improved to 7-0 this season at home.

Garrett Temple scored 22 points and Joe Harris had 21 for Brooklyn, which made a season-high 21 of the 56 3-point shots it attempted. Jarrett Allen had 17 points and 14 rebounds, and Spencer Dinwiddie had 16 points and 11 assists.

Brooklyn led 83-82 with just over 3 minutes left in the third when the Celtics scored the next nine points before Temple made a 3 to close out the third quarter. Boston led 104-101 in the fourth before scoring 17 of the next 24 points — nine of them from Walker — to put away the game.

The crowd might have bought tickets to heckle Irving on his return, but earlier in the week it was reported that he wouldn’t play in the game. Irving did not make the trip, but that didn’t slow down the Celtics fans that came to let him know how they feel.

Posters branding him as a coward decorated the entrance to the Boston Garden. A few fans who showed up wearing his No. 11 Celtics jersey with the words “Where is?” written on tape above his name. During the introductions, with Irving nowhere to be seen, the first “Kyrie Sucks!” chant broke out; it was repeated about a dozen times throughout the game. (There was also a “Yankees Suck!” chant, just because.)

The Nets, like the Celtics before them, are doing better without him.

They came into the night with a 5-1 record since Irving went out with a sore shoulder, climbing above .500 for the first time this season. The Celtics made it to the Eastern Conference finals two years ago when Irving was injured, and lost in the second round last season with him.

Three Things to Know: Luka Doncic is putting up age 20 stats we haven’t seen since LeBron

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Every day in the NBA there is a lot to unpack, so every weekday morning throughout the season we will give you the three things you need to know from the last 24 hours in the NBA.

1) Luka Doncic is putting up at age 20 statistics we haven’t seen since LeBron. In his second season in the NBA, at age 20, LeBron James had a season for the ages: 27.2 points per game, 7.4 rebounds and 7.2 assists a night, and a PER of 25.7, all on his way to making his first All-Star game and, at season’s end, All-NBA (second team).

Luka Doncic has been better than that in his second season at age 20.

Doncic is averaging 30.6 points, 10.1 rebounds, and 9.8 assists a night, and with a PER of 33.3 (and a ridiculously efficient 63.2 true shooting percentage). The awards will undoubtedly follow if Doncic stays healthy.

Doncic has a long, long way to go to ultimately be in LeBron’s stratosphere (particularly because of LeBron’s defensive impacts), but he is literally nearly the only statistical comparison at this young age. Kevin Durant was at 25.3 points per game at age 20, Shaquille O’Neal 23.4, and Kyrie Irving at 22.5, just to round out the top five in points scored per game at age 20. That is some serious company Doncic is keeping.

Just ask James Harden — Doncic outdueled him on Sunday, dropping 41 points in a 137-123 Dallas win (Harden did have 32 points).

Doncic’s numbers this season are mind-boggling.

In that stunning second season of his, LeBron James finished sixth in the MVP voting. It’s too early to say for sure, but keep this up and Doncic is going to beat that finish, too (and, 15 years later, it’s amazingly LeBron who might be the early frontrunner for that award).

2) Joe Harris executes Spencer Dinwiddie’s play to seal Nets win against Knicks. It was a rough day for at home for New York, losing to that team from just across the bridge in Brooklyn, which was without its star player in Kyrie Irving (shoulder impingement). Plus, on the Nets broadcast, former player Richard Jefferson added insult to injury.

In the game itself, the Knicks were scrambling to make a comeback in the final minute, and after a Julius Randle putback the Knicks were down two, 103-101, but with just 0.4 seconds left. The Nets were inbounding the ball and the Knicks only prayer was to steal the inbound and instantly hit a shot from beyond halfcourt. In the timeout before the Nets inbounded the ball, Spencer Dinwiddie was animated talking to the coaching staff and players about some idea he had. Then Joe Harris executed it to perfection.

A little salt in the wound of the Knicks loss.

The win is the third in a row for Brooklyn, which improves to 8-8 on the season.

3) Kawhi Leonard notches another 20-point game, but Lou Williams‘ imitation of him was the best part of the night. The Los Angeles Clippers are now 3-0 since pairing Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, having little trouble with visiting New Orleans on Sunday night in a 134-109 win.

Montrezl Harrell was a beast with 34 points and 12 rebounds off the bench. Kawhi Leonard was his usual self with 26 points.

However, the best part of the night came before tip-off. Lou Williams came out to address the crowd and wish them a happy Thanksgiving, and to start it off he did his “hey, hey, hey” Leonard impersonation.

Well played, Lou.

Spencer Dinwiddie scores 30, leads Nets over Knicks 103-101

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NEW YORK — Kyrie Irving will miss at least two more games, sitting out trips to his old homes in Cleveland and Boston.

The way Spencer Dinwiddie is playing, it might not matter to the Brooklyn Nets.

“Just, difference-maker right now,” Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said.

Dinwiddie scored 30 points in another strong start in place of the injured point guard and the Nets beat the New York Knicks 103-101 on Sunday for their season-high third straight victory.

Irving continues to rest an injured right shoulder, and Dinwiddie is making sure they get by without him, scoring 20 or more points in a career-best five straight games after stepping into the starting lineup. He was 13 of 14 from the foul line, where the Nets had a whopping 27-9 advantage in makes.

Jarrett Allen had 18 points and 10 rebounds for the Nets, and Taurean Prince added 14 points, 11 rebounds and five assists. Joe Harris scored 13 points, with four coming after the Knicks had cut it to one with 1:20 remaining.

Marcus Morris scored 26 points for the Knicks, who lost their third straight. They played without rookie RJ Barrett. He was scratched after feeling sick before the game.

The Nets are missing their starting backcourt, with Caris LeVert out after right thumb surgery. But they have won four of five to even their record at 8-8.

“We don’t have some of our better players on the court but we’re still finding a way to win,” Allen said.

The biggest reason has been the play of Dinwiddie, who could go back to the bench as soon as Friday if Irving is cleared to return. Or, perhaps Atkinson could choose to start them together until LeVert is recovered.

“I’m not the coach, I don’t make those decisions,” Dinwiddie said. “If that’s the new role then that’s what I’ll do, and if it’s not then it’s not.”

The Nets opened a 29-15 lead, but struggled when Dinwiddie and Allen went to the bench and let the Knicks close the gap to 52-46 by halftime.

New York cut it to one after back-to-back 3s by Morris and another by Wayne Ellington, but Harris scored on a drive and later added a pair of free throws.

The Knicks had a much stronger effort than a night earlier, when they never led in a home loss to San Antonio. But they fell to 4-13 ahead of a tough five-game stretch against Toronto, Philadelphia, Boston, Milwaukee and Denver.

“I embrace the challenge,” coach David Fizdale said. “I don’t feel like we need to be looking at that like that’s impossible. We’re going to take it a game at a time and continue to try to give ourselves a chance to win every night.”

 

NBA Power Rankings: Lakers move to top spot with fast-charging Rockets right behind

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The Lakers hot start to the season continues (especially against a soft part of the schedule the rest of the month), but nobody is hotter than Harden’s Houston Rockets, who have raced up the standings to the No. 2 spot.

Lakers small icon 1. Lakers (12-2, Last week No. 2). In something we didn’t see coming, Los Angeles has the top-ranked defense in the NBA. Coach Frank Vogel gave JaVale McGee and Dwight Howard a big chunk of credit for that: “One of the pleasant surprises has been the mobility of our bigs. I knew we knew we were going to have great length at the basket and rim protection, but we’ve really been able to have those guys play up in pick-and-rolls and on pin downs and [dribble hand offs] and challenge three-point shots.” The Lakers have won five in a row against a soft stretch of the schedule, which continues through the end of the month. December will be a much, much stiffer test.

Rockets small icon 2. Rockets (11-3, LW 9). Winners of eight in a row and that doesn’t happen because of just one man, no matter how great The Beard is playing. For example, Russell Westbrook had a triple-double Monday night, and Houston’s defense has been respectable. That said, James Harden is putting up ridonkulous numbers. He’s averaging 39.2 points, 7.6 assists, and 5.6 rebounds a game, with an insane 61.8 true shooting percentage. The faster pace of play from the Rockets this season is giving him more opportunities, and it has led to Harden taking 71 more three point attempts than anyone else in the NBA. And he’s making history.

Celtics small icon 3. Celtics (11-2, LW 1). It was the question around Boston coming into the season: How are the Celtics going to replace Al Horford and Aron Baynes on defense? Turns out, with a rotation of different bigs — Daniel Theis and Robert Williams in particular — and steps forward from Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. The Celtics have the sixth-best defense in the NBA this season, to go with the fourth-best offense. Many didn’t see the Celtics as contenders entering the season, but having a top 10 offense and defense is the definition of a contender.

Bucks small icon 4. Bucks (10-3, LW 3).
Giannis Antetokounmpo is cranking it up in the second half of games, averaging 18.2 points a night on 61.9% shooting, and getting to the lines seven times on average in that half. For comparison, he averages 12 points on 53.6% in the first half (not bad but not otherworldly like after halftime). Antetokounmpo has eight 30 point games this season and two where he scored 29. The Bucks are 5-1 in a run of recent road games (with one more on Wednesday in Atlanta) before 6-of-8 at home.

Nuggets small icon 5. Nuggets (9-3, LW 10). Winners of 6-of-7, and one of the keys has been fourth quarter defense, when the Nuggets have a defensive rating of 101, sixth best in the NBA (and a couple of points better than the rest of the game). That defense will get put to the test this week against three of the best offenses in the league: Houston, Boston, and Phoenix (all three games are in Denver).

Raptors small icon 6. Raptors (9-4, LW 6). Pascal Siakam’s improvement this season has him being talked about as a possible back-to-back winner of the Most Improved Player award (although it’s early), but that has overshadowed the leap made by OG Anunoby this season. He’s averaging 12.4 points a game (up from 7) and 5.5 rebounds a night (up from 2.9), and that’s not just a minutes thing, his true shooting percentage has jumped from 54.4 (around league average) to 70, which is insanely efficient (and probably unsustainable at that level). After a 3-2 road trip the Raptors have a home-heavy schedule for the rest of 2019.

Heat small icon 7. Heat (9-3, LW 5). Winners of three in a row and 4-of-5, it leads to the questions “is this sustainable?” Look at the shot quality data on Second Spectrum (the NBA’s tracking data) and the answer is probably not — they have been fortunate teams are just missing shots against them. That likely balances out. Miami’s three-game win streak is against a soft part of the schedule, and that continues until Philly on Saturday night (in the second half of a back-to-back). Houston on the road in a week will be even a bigger test.

Clippers small icon 8. Clippers (9-5, LW 4). Paul George is back and put up a ridiculous 70 points in his first 44 minutes on the court. What was impressive was how fluid his game looked after the time off, George looked like the guy from the first half of last season, the one in the mix for the MVP trophy (he ultimately finished third after fading). George credits the offseason surgery, saying he feels like he has two new shoulders. We have yet to see George and Kawhi Leonard paired with George because Leonard has missed three games with a bruised knee. This week we should finally see the duo together.

Jazz small icon 9. Jazz (8-5, LW 7). Utah’s offense still has not found a consistent rhythm — they are 24th in the NBA over the past two weeks, via Cleaning the Glass — but the problem is the defense has slipped a little in recent weeks, too. Part of that is how much they miss backup center Ed Davis. The Jazz don’t want to play Rudy Gobert heavy minutes this early in the season (but Gobert has been impressive on both ends when he is on the court), which has forced Tony Bradley into heavy minutes, and their offense drop to well below a point per possession when he is on the court. Davis is expected to be out a couple more weeks.

Mavericks small icon 10. Mavericks (8-5, LW 13). It feels like all we do with Dallas is praise Luka Doncic… but have you seen him play this year? LeBron James is right, Luka is a bad man (not his exact words, but this is a family power rankings). Doncic joined LeBron as the only two players in NBA history with a 40+ point triple-double before age 21. Doncic is averaging 29.5 points, 10.7 rebounds and 9.3 assists per game, all with a ridiculously efficient 61.2 percent true shooting. He has pushed himself into the early-season MVP conversation — and he’s in just his second year in the league.

Pacers small icon 11. Pacers (8-6, LW 12). That Indiana looks like a lock playoff team in the East, has a top 10 defense, and is above .500 without Victor Oladipo is impressive and a good sign for the team moving forward. The Pacers have won 5-of-7 and the two losses in there were to the Rockets and Bucks on a back-to-back. Oladipo has been getting in some work with the Pacers’ G-League team, a sign that he could be back a little before the Christmas date that quietly always seemed to be the target.

Sixers small icon 12. 76ers (8-5, LW 8). It was expected that Philadelphia’s offense would take some time to find a groove this season, with Jimmy Butler and J.J. Redick gone and more now on Ben Simmons plate, but the defense was going to carry the Sixers to start the season. Except it hasn’t, it’s been just okay. On the season, the Sixers are not even a top 10 defense, and in the last eight games (when Philly is 3-5), the defense is a middle-of-the-NBA pack team giving up 106.2 points per 100. All that length is not keeping teams from shooting well against them, and that is even true in the half court when the defense should be set. It’s early, but the Sixers need to clean this up.

13. Timberwolves (8-6, LW 14). Andrew Wiggins playing well — not “I have earned that max contract well, but well — has been one of the biggest surprises of the season. A few things are helping that, such as the five-out offense Minnesota can play (Karl-Anthony Towns has to be respected at the arc), which has opened up driving lanes. His assists are up, his shooting percentages are up, but a lot of it ties back to his handles — Wiggins has been much better with his ball control. He’s more comfortable running the pick-and-roll, he doesn’t feel rushed and surveys the court now, making better decisions, and it all ties back to being more comfortable and confident with his handles.

Suns small icon 14. Suns (7-6, LW 11). Phoenix has lost 3-of-4, and while the offense has dipped slightly during that time, the bigger issue is the defense has struggled to get stops. Devin Booker and the Suns have not been a team in the national spotlight much in recent years, which is why them being the late TNT game on Thursday night — against a Zion-less Pelicans — feels like such an important game. New Orleans is a feisty team that plays hard, and if the Suns defend like they did giving up 120 to Sacramento on Tuesday they will be in trouble in front of a national audience.

Magic small icon 15. Magic (6-7, LW 23). I keep hearing the same whisper from different sources around the league (something Shams Charania reported already as well): Teams are interested in trading for Aaron Gordon. Officially the Orlando front office wants no part of this and shoots the idea down, but around the league a lot of teams think the Magic brass will change their minds on this. Just something to watch. In the short term, the Magic have won 4-of-5 and the reason is they have the third best offense in the NBA over the past two weeks.

Kings small icon 16. Kings (6-7, LW 24). Sacramento has gone 3-1 without De’Aaron Fox so far, and what has fueled that is the team playing top-10 defense during that stretch. In fact, so far November has been good to Sacramento despite all the injuries, they are 6-2. However, now they head out on an East Coast road swing and have 8-of-10 away from home.

Nets small icon 17. Nets (5-8, LW 16). Kyrie Irving has missed time with a shoulder impingement (and could miss more), Caris LeVert is out a few more weeks with a broken thumb, Wilson Chandler remains suspended (PEDs) and all the puts more on the shoulders of Joe Harris and Spencer Dinwiddie — and when those two share the court this season the Nets are -5.1 per 100 possessions. Brooklyn hits a soft stretch of the schedule this week, a chance to right the ship (before a home-and-home with Boston).

Thunder small icon 18. Thunder (5-9, LW 18). Watch the Thunder play in person and the word that comes to mind is scrappy. They are not the most talented team in the league, but they are tough to play against. One change this season is they are no longer an elite offensive rebounding team — at 21.8% they are worst in the league. Coach Billy Donovan says there are a couple of reasons for that. One, strong rebounders for their positions in Russell Westbrook and Paul George are playing elsewhere. Second, they are pulling Steven Adams out farther from the basket this season to use his versatility, but that takes him off the glass more.

Blazers small icon 19. Trail Blazers (5-10, LW 17). Portland turned to Carmelo Anthony to help fill their frontcourt void — and it’s a smart, low-risk gamble. Watching his first game (small sample size alert), he’s not going to hurt the Trail Blazers because they are so desperately in need of help at the four. Does he make them better? Not sure he does. The 4-of-14 shooting first game with 5 turnovers certainly was in part due to rust. However, the bigger issue is the other side of the ball, Anthony looked lost at points, and things are only going to get tougher because teams will target him. We need more games to really judge this, but so far the reaction to his play is “meh.” Portland is 1-2 to start their six-game road swing.

Spurs small icon 20. Spurs (5-9, LW 15). Losers of six in a row and the problem is on the defensive end where they are second worst in the NBA in that stretch. The problem starts right when the game tips off — San Antonio’s starting unit has a minus-33.3 net rating in 71 minutes of first quarter action, something Tom Osborne of the Express-News pointed out. Dallas recently put up a 36 spot on the Spurs in the first quarter, and that was pretty much ballgame.

Hornets small icon 21. Hornets (6-8, LW 22). They remain one of the NBA’s luckiest teams, they have the net rating of a 4-10 team, but Charlotte’s ability to fall behind by double digits and come back has them flirting with the idea of a playoff spot early. Devonte Graham in the starting lineup now helps with those comebacks, as does Malik Monk hitting game winners.

Pistons small icon 22. Pistons (4-9, LW 25). Detroit has the best offense in the NBA the past couple of weeks, thanks in part to the return of Blake Griffin, but the team still can’t get stops and that’s why they have lost four in a row. The Pistons’ defense has been bottom five in the league the past four games and for the entire season, there is no way a return trip to the playoffs is happening if the Pistons don’t clean up that end of the court.

Pelicans small icon 23. Pelicans (5-9, LW 27). Despite a training room starting to resemble a television drama ER, the Pelicans have won 4-of-6 behind some strong play from Jrue Holiday (22.4 points and 8.2 assists per game in his last five) and J.J. Redick (21.8 points per game in his last five). Things get tough coming up with 4-of-5 on the road, and the one home game is the red-hot Lakers.

Bulls small icon 24. Bulls (4-10, LW 19). Lauri Markenneen has looked lost and is not taking the step forward everyone expected of him in his third season. He is shooting 36.2% overall and 26.8% from three, both career lows. It’s not just the three ball, Markenneen is taking more shots than ever before at the rim but his hitting just 51.2 percent on those. The Bulls have lost 4-of-5 and look nothing like the playoff team they hoped to be this season.

Cavaliers small icon 25. Cavaliers (4-9, LW 20). When you have a young team — particularly a young backcourt such as Collin Sexton and Darius Garland — consistency is not in the cards. The Cavaliers can destroy the Knicks and look good in a one-point loss to Philly, then turn around a week later and get blown out by those same two teams (with an ugly loss to the Heat in between). It can be rough to watch sometimes, but it’s about getting them reps so in a couple of years we see a polished product that is consistent (and wins more).

Knicks small icon 26. Knicks (4-10, LW 30). New York has the third-worst offense in the league this season in part because they have had the worst half court offense in the league and they play at the 27th slowest pace in the league, so they spend more time in the half court. That and they can’t seem to buy a make in the paint. Despite that, the Knicks have won 2-of-3 and their one loss was a close game to the Hornets (and of their four wins this season, two are against Dallas, it must be a Kristaps Porzingis revenge thing). The bad news: Starting tonight in Philadelphia the schedule is brutal for the next few weeks.

Grizzlies small icon 27. Grizzlies (5-9, LW 29). When we talk Grizzlies youth movement we talk Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr. — and those two have shown a lot more chemistry the past week or so — but don’t sleep on Brandon Clarke being part of what is built in Memphis. The first-round pick out of Gonzaga has proven to be a solid role player averaging 12.7 points and 6.1 rebounds a game, plus shooting 44% from three. The Grizzlies aren’t winning much, but they remain a team worth watching.

Wizards small icon 28. Wizards (3-8, LW 26). The Washington Wizards have the third-best offense in the NBA this season (overall and even when you filter out garbage time like Cleaning the Glass does). Bradley Beal averaging 30.1 points per game and playing like an All-Star is at the heart of that, but Thomas Bryant, Isaiah Thomas, and Rui Hachimura are all pitching in points and balancing the offense as well. If Scott Brooks could just coax a few stops out of this team, well, at least they’d move up these rankings.

Hawks small icon 29. Hawks (4-9, LW 21). This really shouldn’t be a surprise, but we’ll detail it anyway: When Trae Young is on the court, the Hawks offense scores 108.4 points per 100 possessions, which would have them a little above average in the NBA this season. However, when he sit the Hawks cannot get buckets, averaging a dreadful 89.6 per 100. This team desperately misses John Collins (out with a PED suspension).

Warriors small icon 30. Warriors (3-12, LW 29). What a world we live in, where a year ago we weren’t sure the Warriors would ever give up the top spot in these rankings, and now their fall to the bottom is complete. The one bright note remains rookie Eric Paschall, who is proving to be surprisingly efficient in isolation sets for the Warriors.

Brandon Ingram scores 40, but it’s not enough to beat Nets, Kyrie Irving’s 39 (VIDEO)

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NEW YORK (AP) — Kyrie Irving had 39 points and nine assists, and the Brooklyn Nets withstood Brandon Ingram‘s career-high 40 points to beat the New Orleans Pelicans 135-125 on Monday night.

The Nets had 67 points at halftime and a 20-point lead in the third quarter, but could never get comfortable until the final minute as Ingram kept coming at them.

He shot 17 for 24 from the field in his first 40-point game and the Pelicans scored a franchise-record 48 points in the third quarter. They got within two in the fourth but could never get enough stops to actually catch the Nets.

Caris LeVert added 23 points, Joe Harris had 19 and Jarrett Allen finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds for the Nets, who follow this game with a five-game road trip, their longest of the season, with the first four in the West.

Jrue Holiday and Lonzo Ball each scored 15 points and Josh Hart had 14 for the Pelicans, who fell to 1-6.

Brooklyn led by only two after Ingram’s three-point play with 4:58 remaining in the half, but the Nets scored 10 straight. Five of them came in one trip when Allen made two free throws after being flagrantly fouled by Ingram – he actually made the shot while being thrown to the ground, but the foul had been called on the floor – and Garrett Temple made a 3-pointer after Brooklyn retained possession.

Brooklyn later got consecutive jumpers by Irving and a dunk from Spencer Dinwiddie to close a 20-3 run and make it 63-44.

Irving scored 18 points in the third but the Pelicans were a sizzling 8 for 11 from 3-point range and scored 48 points, trimming a 20-point deficit to 104-98 heading to the fourth.