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Zeke Upshaw

Zeke Upshaw, who played for Pistons’ minor-league affiliate, dies after collapsing on court

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Zeke Upshaw – a 26-year-old player for the Grand Rapids Drive, the Pistons’ minor-league affiliate – died today after collapsing on the court during a game Saturday.

Drive:

What a tragedy.

A Chicago native, Upshaw played collegiately at Illinois State and Hofstra. He played overseas a couple years and was trying to work his way up in professional basketball.

Report: Ohio State’s Keita Bates-Diop declaring for NBA draft

AP Photo/Paul Vernon
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A few years ago, Keita Bates-Diop – 6-foot-7 with a 7-foot-4 wingspan – would have been labeled a tweener.

In the modern NBA, he’s versatile.

So, projected as a mid-to-late first-round pick, Diop is turning pro.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Ohio State forward Keita Bates-Diop will pass on his final year of college eligibility and enter the NBA draft in June, sources told ESPN.

Wojnarowski doesn’t outright say Diop will hire an agent, which would render him ineligible for college basketball, but it sure sounds like it.

The big knock on Diop: He’s already 22 after spending four seasons with the Buckeyes. (He received a medical redshirt last season.) Maybe he made actual strides that will translate to the NBA, but it seems more likely he just outgrew his competition.

Diop has a nice all-around game, though no real signature skills. He broke out this season as he got more aggressive, and he can score inside and out. But he’s not a good enough ball-handler to warrant nearly as big a role in the NBA, which opens questions about his effectiveness in a smaller role. He’s merely a fine, unspectacular shooter.

Diop has the size to defend multiple positions. Is he good enough to hang his hat on that end of the floor, though?

Bradley Beal: If Wizards don’t play better, ‘we’re going to get our asses kicked in the playoffs’

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Remember the discussion of whether the Wizards were better off without John Wall?

That has faded quickly with Washington losing eight of 12 and three straight, including a home loss to the lowly Knicks last night.

Bradley Beal, via Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington:

“We’re acting like we don’t give a damn, honestly. We thought we could just show up and play because they didn’t have anything to play for. We just thought it was going to be a cake walk and they just smacked us in the mouth,” Beal said.

“I’m tired of talking about this s***. It’s just the same thing over and over,” he said. “Until we do it individually and together collectively, we’re going to get our asses kicked in the playoffs. This isn’t even remotely acceptable, how we are playing right now.”

The Wizards – especially Beal – are just overburdened without Wall, their primary offensive creator and a good defender when healthy and engaged. Good news: Wall appears close to returning.

Washington isn’t competing hard enough without him, especially defensively. But that’ll get much easier when Wall takes load off everyone else, allowing his teammates to conserve energy.

There will be a re-acclimation period for Wall, and the playoffs are right around the corner. The Wizards certainly wanted to be playing better entering the postseason, and there might not be time to reach that level. Beal’s frustration is evident.

But at least a potential fix is around the corner.

Knicks’ Kyle O’Quinn on shouting match with coach Jeff Hornacek: ‘Two wrongs don’t make a right’

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Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek’s confrontation with Joakim Noah led to the center being sent away from the team.

During Friday’s loss to the Timberwolves, Hornacek got into it with another New York center – Kyle O'Quinn, who didn’t properly contest a Karl-Anthony Towns shot. After O’Quinn missed a couple shots and got roasted by Jamal Crawford, Hornacek and his player yelled at each other during a stoppage.

O’Quinn, via Marc Berman of the New York Post:

“I’ll be the first one to say my reaction was the wrong one,’’ O’Quinn said Sunday. “Someone yelled at me, I yelled back. Two wrongs don’t make a right.”

“I like that s–t,” he said. “It was heat of the moment, heat of the game. He’s a competitor, ex-player. I’m sure if he’s in that position, he would’ve done something different back in his day. I was fired up at the game. I felt it was a winnable game. They were going to let us dance a bit and we were going to be in it. It’s just a reaction. You know how I am on the floor — fiery.”

Hornacek, via Berman:

“We like guys who are fiery,’’ Hornacek said. “Kyle’s done a great job all year long with his activity and intensity.’’

Tempers sometimes flare like this, including on functional teams. People are just usually disciplined enough to avoid doing it in front of cameras. Wait until everyone is in a closed locker room or practice.

That Hornacek and O’Quinn didn’t speaks to how upset they were.

This could affect Hornacek’s reputation in particular. When the Suns fired him, they said players stopped responding to him. This is more circumstantial evidence his message wears thin on players over time.

Not that the Knicks will need that excuse. Hornacek’s dismal record – even though more a product of an underwhelming roster – will probably give president Steve Mills cover to fire the coach he inherited.

Giannis Antetokounmpo out for Bucks-Bulls with ankle injury

AP Photo/Morry Gash
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MILWAUKEE (AP) — All-Star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo will miss the Milwaukee Bucks’ home game Friday night against the Chicago Bulls with a sprained right ankle.

The Bucks ruled out Antetokounmpo earlier Friday.

Antetokounmpo got hurt in the second quarter of a 127-120 loss on Wednesday to the Los Angeles Clippers when he appeared to trip over teammate Shabazz Muhammad under the Bucks’ basket.

Antetokounmpo is fourth in the league in scoring at 27.3 points a game.