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  • NBA fines Hield $25K for kicking ball into stands
    By Field Level Media / Monday, November 18, 2019

    Buddy Hield paid the price for a Sunday night celebration.

    • The Sacramento guard kicked the ball into the stands after the Kings held on for a win over the visiting Boston Celtics, and the NBA handed him a $25,000 fine Monday.

      It was the same penalty assessed to Patrick Beverley last month after the Los Angeles Clippers guard underhanded the ball into the stand following a win by his team.

      On Saturday, the Kings survived when a last-second shot by Boston's Marcus Smart rolled off the rim at the buzzer, sealing Sacramento's 100-99 victory.

      When the ball came down, Hield punched it to half court, then chased after it and booted it into the crowd.

      NBA players are not allowed to "intentionally throw, kick, or send the ball into the stands for any reason." A technical foul is to be assessed if such an action occurs during a game, but the Sunday contest was already over by the time Hield showed off his kicking leg.

      Hield, 26, was instrumental in the win, producing game highs with 35 points and four steals. He is averaging 19.9 points, 4.8 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 0.9 steals through 12 games this season.

      --Field Level Media

  • Clippers' Leonard to miss 3rd straight game
    By Field Level Media / Monday, November 18, 2019

    Kawhi Leonard is absent for more than just load management this time.

    • The Los Angeles Clippers forward will miss a third straight game on Monday night when Los Angeles hosts the Oklahoma City Thunder. Leonard sustained a left knee contusion against the Houston Rockets last Wednesday.

      He missed L.A.'s 132-127 road loss to the New Orleans Pelicans on Thursday and its 150-101 win against the visiting Atlanta Hawks on Saturday. After Monday, the Clippers' next game is at home against the Boston Celtics on Wednesday.

      Paul George has filled in admirably in Leonard's absence, scoring a combined 70 points in his first two games with the Clippers following offseason shoulder surgeries.

      Los Angeles entered Monday with an 8-5 overall record but only 3-3 in its past six.

      Guard Patrick Beverley also was questionable for the Monday game due to a calf injury.

      Leonard, 28, is averaging 26.8 points, 8.9 rebounds and six assists through his first nine games with the Clippers. Beverley, 31, is averaging seven points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.9 assists.

      --Field Level Media

  • 'Future' the topic as Grizzlies, Warriors meet
    By Field Level Media / Monday, November 18, 2019

    Two teams mirroring each other's recent history cross paths Tuesday night when the Golden State Warriors visit the Memphis Grizzlies.

    • The Grizzlies, like every other team in the league, can only hope to duplicate even a small piece of the Warriors' dominant run the past five seasons. With five wins (including San Antonio and Utah) in their first 13 games, they appear headed in the right direction.

      Hopes are high in Memphis due mainly to first-round selections Jaren Jackson Jr. and Ja Morant the last two seasons, much as Warriors' fortunes changed after they used lottery picks on Stephen Curry (2009) and Klay Thompson (2011).

      The Warriors had gone five years, losing 50 or more games twice, before returning to the playoffs in 2013.

      The Grizzlies have failed to make the postseason in each of the past two seasons, losing 60 and 49 games, respectively.

      "We are Ja and Jaren. We do what we do," Morant proclaimed to The Undefeated last week. "I feel like we are kind of showing (our potential). We are still growing. We still got a lot more learning and work to do. But I feel like it's a one-two punch."

      It wasn't long ago that the Grizzlies were a perennial Western Conference playoff team, having made the postseason seven straight years.

      But age and injuries caught up to key players -- namely Mike Conley, Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph -- and the Grizzlies hit rock-bottom in a 60-loss season in 2018 before resetting and charting a new path.

      The Warriors, who at 2-12 are on pace for a 70-loss season, likewise have lost much of the core of five straight trips to the NBA Finals and seven straight berths in the playoffs.

      But like Memphis, Golden State figures to land an unusually high draft position that could add a key piece to a turnaround as early as next season.

      The Warriors have lost seven in a row, their longest losing streak since 2012, but that doesn't make the season a waste of time, Draymond Green noted to reporters last week.

      Green hopes to be a better player by the time injured Curry (broken hand) and Thompson (torn ACL) -- and possibly the No. 1 pick in the draft -- join him in next season's reload.

      "I'm going back to the way I was pre-KD, and that's exciting to me," Green said of his role before the Warriors imported high-scoring Kevin Durant. "I had to give up shots to make sure Kevin gets his touches, and I don't regret that. It got me a couple of championships.

      "But as a competitor, as someone who's still in his prime, who's been in the gym all summer trying to improve my game, it's exciting to know that I can go back to playing the way that I was playing before."

      The Warriors were without not only Curry and Thompson, but also D'Angelo Russell (sprained thumb) and four others when they opened a four-game trip with a 108-100 loss at New Orleans on Sunday.

      The injury report reads the same for Tuesday's game in Memphis.

      Meanwhile, the Grizzlies will be hoping to rebound from a 131-114 shellacking at the hands of Denver on Sunday. Memphis had won three in a row before that.

      --Field Level Media

  • Bulls' Kornet undergoes sinus surgery
    By Field Level Media / Monday, November 18, 2019

    Chicago Bulls forward Luke Kornet underwent surgery Monday to correct a sinus obstruction, the team said Monday.

    • According to the Bulls, Kornet has experienced issues since breaking his nose on Dec. 19, 2018 while a member of the New York Knicks.

      The Bulls had attempted other treatments before doctors determined surgery was needed to address the issue.

      "He had blockage and some issues from a previous fracture from when he was in New York," Chicago coach Jim Boylen told reporters. "We just felt it was time to go in there and clean that thing out.

      "Surgery went well. We'll have more to report as we go. Originally, it was a seven-to-10-day thing where he'd be back. I think it's one of those things they don't know until they get in there how extreme it is. But he had blockage and it needed to be done."

      Kornet, 24, is averaging 4.0 points and 1.9 rebounds in 10 games this season.

      Overall, he has averages of 6.5 points and 2.9 rebounds in 76 games (19 starts) over three NBA seasons, the first two with the Knicks.

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: Rockets waiving veteran F Anderson
    By Field Level Media / Monday, November 18, 2019

    The Houston Rockets are waiving veteran forward Ryan Anderson, The Athletic's Shams Charania reported Monday.

    • Anderson, 31, signed as a free agent with the Rockets on Sept. 27 after being waived by the Miami Heat on July 6.

      Anderson appeared in only two games for Houston this year, tallying a combined five points, seven rebounds and two assists in 13:58.

      Anderson was a first-round pick (21st overall) by the New Jersey Nets in 2008 and was named the NBA's Most Improved Player with the Orlando Magic in 2011-12.

      He has averaged 12.3 points and 5.3 rebounds with 1,325 3-point field goals in 649 career games (289 starts) with the Nets, Magic, New Orleans Hornets/Pelicans, Rockets, Phoenix Suns and Miami Heat.

      --Field Level Media

  • Suspended Heat G Waiters visits Syracuse, Boeheim
    By Field Level Media / Monday, November 18, 2019

    Suspended Miami Heat guard Dion Waiters paid a visit to his former college coach as he works his way through a 10-game suspension for conduct detrimental to the team.

    • Waiters was spotted at Syracuse's game against Seattle on Saturday and even took time to visit the Orange locker room afterward and break down the game with coach Jim Boeheim.

      "I just wanted to come up and talk to coach," Waiters told Syracuse.com. "I know that's a person who will always be there for me if I ever needed anything. It's a chance for me to come up, be around, talk to the coaches, things like that. And that's important."

      Waiters has actually been suspended twice in the early going this season. He was ruled out for the season opener Oct. 23 against the Memphis Grizzlies for "conduct detrimental to the team" after arguing with head coach Eric Spoelstra in a preseason game and then expressed his frustrations in a social media post.

      Waiters' longer suspension came after he reportedly had a panic attack on a Nov. 7 team flight. ESPN reported that Waiters consumed a THC-infused edible on the flight and needed medical attention.

      "I'm older. I understand much more what (Boeheim) tried to teach me when I was 18, 19. I probably was a stubborn kid back then and really didn't understand at that time," Waiters said. "I'm 27 and life is a lot different.

      "Being here, talking to him, picking his brain. ... I'm pretty sure we've all been through situations before and coach, too. Different situations, how he handled it. Just talk to him and try to find solutions."

      --Field Level Media

  • Fizdale, Knicks try to avoid Cavs repeat
    By Field Level Media / Monday, November 18, 2019

    A loss to Cleveland on Nov. 10 increased the heat on New York head coach David Fizdale. Eight days later, the Knicks can take another step toward cooling Fizdale's seat when they host the Cavaliers again.

    • Both teams enter Monday's game fresh off discouraging defeats. The Knicks were off Sunday after suffering a last-second 103-102 loss Saturday night to the visiting Charlotte Hornets. The Cavaliers will be completing a back-to-back set after falling at home 114-95 Sunday to the Philadelphia 76ers.

      The loss Sunday was the third straight for the Cavaliers, who haven't won since their 108-87 rout of the Knicks. Afterward, New York president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry held a rare dual press conference to express their disappointment with the team.

      Perry said the Knicks had "to be consistent in all areas of the game, starting with the effort," which certainly sounded as a warning to Fizdale, who's in the second year of a four-year deal. He's just 20-75 in New York and 70-126 overall as an NBA head coach.

      The Knicks followed up the loss to the Cavs by getting outscored by 18 points in the fourth quarter of a 120-102 loss to the Chicago Bulls last Tuesday. But New York then earned a 106-103 win over the Dallas Mavericks -- and former teammate Kristaps Porzingis -- at a raucous Madison Square Garden on Thursday before leading the Hornets by as many as 15 points Saturday, when Charlotte's Devonte Graham drained the go-ahead 28-footer from the top of the key with 2.1 seconds left.

      Before giving up 103 points in back-to-back games, the Knicks surrendered at least 113 points in three of their previous five contests, a span in which they went 1-4.

      "I don't want to try to get any moral victory out of this," Fizdale told reporters Saturday night. "But we are definitely getting better on the defensive end."

      First-year Cavaliers head coach John Beilein surely is on more solid footing than Fizdale, but Beilein, who headed to the NBA after winning 571 games and reaching two Final Fours in 27 seasons as a college coach, might be even more frustrated than Knicks upper management was eight days ago.

      The loss to the 76ers Sunday came three days after the Cavaliers fell to the Miami Heat 108-97. The back-to-back double-digit losses are the first of the season for Cleveland.

      "We got blown out in our own arena, on a Sunday afternoon in front of a great crowd," Beilein said following the loss to the 76ers. "It measures you a little bit. And we've got to bounce back from it and find a way to make the changes in everything that we do -- effort areas, defense, offense, rotations, everything. Just keep looking at it. Because these last two games have not been in the right direction."

      --Field Level Media

  • Suns aim to end homestand on high note vs. Celtics
    By Field Level Media / Sunday, November 17, 2019

    The Phoenix Suns' draft day trade with Boston to acquire center Aron Baynes from Boston did not turn heads. Until recently.

    • The Suns would not be where they are -- 7-4, their best start since 2009-10 -- without Baynes, who has fit in so seamlessly during Deandre Ayton's 25-game suspension for violating the league's anti-drug policy that a legitimate question surrounds how the rotation will shake out when Ayton returns.

      Boston (10-2) has been even better. They had a 10-game winning streak broken in a 100-99 loss at Sacramento on Sunday before playing the second game of a back-to-back Monday in Phoenix, the third stop on their five-game road trip.

      "The streak put more emphasis on us to do things better," said Boston guard Marcus Smart, whose shot in the final seconds rolled off the rim against the Kings.

      "Although we don't want to lose, the loss is a good loss. Brings us back down to earth."

      Suns coach Monty Williams remembered when general manager James Jones mentioned the possibility of landing Baynes during draft-room conversations.

      "To have a guy like that, on your team, in your locker room, it was a no-brainer for me," Williams said.

      "We just knew it was going to help Deandre (Ayton) and our culture. We're really trying to develop a culture that guys can gravitate towards and want to be in. We needed him to be a big part of that and be a positive impact on it."

      Baynes -- acquired with a 2019 draft choice that became Ty Jerome for a top-seven protected 2020 first-round pick -- is averaging a career high 15.0 points, tripling his average over his first seven seasons.

      He has made 22 of 47 3-point attempts, most on open looks after rotating to the top of the key in pick-and-roll action, already a career season-high. He had 25 career threes entering the year.

      "I credit the guys I am playing with," Baynes said. "They are creating so much space and time for me. It is fun playing with these guys."

      Boston is averaging about 114 points per game while doing its best work on the defensive end, limiting opponents to 106 points and 42.7 percent shooting. They are third in the league with a plus-8.0 in point differential. The Suns are fifth (7.1).

      "This is a relentless group," Jayson Tatum said after a trip-opening victory at Golden State. "When things get tough, we never put our heads down."

      The Suns will play the final game of a six-game homestand, a period that has helped Williams further implement his style and culture. The Suns have been home for 16 straight days, since a 114-105 victory in Memphis on Nov. 2. The play Sacramento on the road Tuesday.

      "We are still building a program," Williams said. "I'm so thankful we got some wins, but our process is still in the infant stages. I have to keep my eyes on that, that we are still building.

      "We don't have a sustained culture yet. We don't have a sustained program yet. So when you are home for segments like this, it is a chance to us to establish it.

      The Suns are 3-2 during the homestand, with victories over Philadelphia, Brooklyn and Atlanta and losses to Miami and the Lakers.

      --Field Level Media

  • NBA roundup: Kings snap Celtics' 10-game streak
    By Field Level Media / Sunday, November 17, 2019

    Richaun Holmes hit a pair of go-ahead free throws with 13.3 seconds left as the host Sacramento Kings ended the Boston Celtics' 10-game winning streak with a 100-99 victory Sunday afternoon.

    • Buddy Hield led all scorers with 35 points and hit seven 3-pointers, as the Kings won for the fifth time in seven games. Nemanja Bjelica (12 points, 14 rebounds) and Bogdan Bogdanovic (12 points, 10 assists) each had double-doubles.

      Jaylen Brown led six Celtics in double figures with 18 points, and Daniel Theis had 10 rebounds to go with his 14 points. Boston lost for the first time since its season opener Oct. 23.

      The game featured 24 lead changes and nine ties. After Marcus Smart was assessed a loose ball foul on a scrum under the net that withstood a coach's challenge, Holmes put Sacramento up for good with his two makes.

      Nuggets 131, Grizzlies 114

      Jamal Murray contributed a dunk and two assists to a 15-0, second-quarter flurry that erased a deficit and propelled Denver to a romp at Memphis.

      Murray finished with 39 points and eight assists for the Nuggets, who won for the sixth time in their last seven games. Jaren Jackson Jr. paced Memphis with 22 points.

      Paul Millsap and Will Barton capped the 15-0 burst with hoops that made it 53-40 with 4:34 remaining in the half. Denver extended its lead to as many as 25 in the second period and never allowed the Grizzlies closer than 17 in the second half.

      Lakers 122, Hawks 101

      LeBron James scored 33 points and Kyle Kuzma added 17 as host Los Angeles jumped out to a 25-point lead in the first quarter and finished off an easy victory over Atlanta to improve to an NBA-best 11-2.

      Rajon Rondo scored 15 points and Anthony Davis added 14 as the Lakers earned their fourth consecutive victory and their 11th in their last 12 games since a season-opening loss to the Clippers.

      Trae Young scored 31 points and Cam Reddish added 13 as the Hawks lost their third consecutive game and fell for the sixth time in their last seven contests. Atlanta was blown out in Los Angeles for the second consecutive night after losing by 49 to the Clippers on Saturday.

      76ers 114, Cavaliers 95

      Tobias Harris scored 27 points on 12-of-14 shooting, Joel Embiid added 14 points and Philadelphia led for all but a few minutes in a win at Cleveland.

      James Ennis III contributed 14 points and Furkan Korkmaz had 13 for the Sixers, who snapped a two-game losing streak overall and a five-game road skid. Al Horford had 11 points, and Ben Simmons had 10 points and 11 assists.

      Collin Sexton led the Cavs with 17 points, while Jordan Clarkson added 15. Tristan Thompson and Kevin Love had 12 points each for the Cavaliers, who have dropped three in a row.

      Magic 125, Wizards 121

      Nikola Vucevic collected 30 points and 17 rebounds to record his 10th double-double of the season as host Orlando posted a victory over Washington.

      Vucevic shot 11 of 14, and Evan Fournier highlighted his 25-point performance with five 3-pointers for the Magic, who have won three in a row. Markelle Fultz made all six of his shots in the first half and finished with a season-high 19 points.

      Bradley Beal followed up consecutive 44-point performances by scoring 34, and C.J. Miles added 21 for the Wizards, who lost for just the fifth time in their last 25 meetings with Orlando.

      Pelicans 108, Warriors 100

      JJ Redick scored 26 points, and Jrue Holiday added 22 as host New Orleans handed Golden state its seventh straight loss.

      Rookie Nickeil Alexander-Walker scored 19, Nicolo Melli had 16, rookie Jaxson Hayes had 10 points and 10 rebounds and E'Twaun Moore added 10 points as the Pelicans prevailed in a meeting of two young teams with the worst records in the Western Conference.

      New Orleans entered the game with three wins, and Golden State had two, one of which was a 134-123 triumph in New Orleans on Oct. 28. Rookie Eric Paschall scored 30, rookie Ky Bowman had 19, Glenn Robinson III had 14, and Marquese Chriss 10 to lead the Warriors.

      --Field Level Media

  • Magic G Carter-Williams (hip) leaves game
    By Field Level Media / Sunday, November 17, 2019

    Orlando Magic guards Michael Carter-Williams and D.J. Augustin sustained injuries in the second quarter of Sunday's game against the Washington Wizards.

    • Carter-Williams missed both of his shots from the floor prior to exiting after straining his left hip. He was ruled out of the contest.

      Augustin dislocated the fifth metacarpal bone in his left hand in the second quarter, the team announced. X-rays were negative and he returned to the contest in the third quarter.

      Augustin was enjoying a strong night prior to the injury. He recorded 11 points after making 4 of 6 shots from the field, including 3 of 4 from 3-point range.

      --Field Level Media

  • Healthy George meets ex-team as Thunder visit Clippers
    By Field Level Media / Sunday, November 17, 2019

    The Oklahoma City Thunder and the host Los Angeles Clippers meet Monday for the first time since the clubs made a blockbuster trade.

    • The Clippers acquired six-time All-Star Paul George from the Thunder in July for guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, forward Danilo Gallinari and a slew of draft picks. The Clippers believed then and now the high price for George was well worth it, and in two games, it's already paid dividends.

      George scored 37 points in 20 minutes Saturday as the Clippers pounded the Atlanta Hawks 150-101, a franchise record for margin of victory. George's outstanding performance occurred two nights after he finished with 33 points in 24 minutes in his season debut in a loss to the New Orleans Pelicans.

      Although he missed the Clippers' initial 11 games rehabbing from offseason surgery on both of his shoulders, George's sizzling start has been an eye-opener.

      George has connected on 20 of 34 (58.8 percent) shots from the floor and is 9 of 16 (56.3 percent) on 3-pointers. He also has made all 21 of his free throws in two games.

      "He's taking advantage of our offense like he's been playing the offense for five years," Clippers coach Doc Rivers said, according to the Los Angeles Times. "He did three or four things tonight that you can't know how to do it, in what we're running, unless you've been running it."

      With George playing at a high level, the Clippers' play could improve significantly if Kawhi Leonard returns for Monday's game. Leonard and George have yet to make their anticipated Clippers' debut together because Leonard missed the past two games with a left knee contusion. Rivers said it was "most likely" Leonard would play against the Thunder, according to the Times.

      The status of guards Patrick Beverley and Landry Shamet is unknown. Beverley missed the past two games with a sore left calf, while a high ankle sprain has kept Shamet on the bench since the Clippers' Nov. 11 win over the Toronto Raptors.

      Oklahoma City is coming off a 127-119 overtime win over the visiting Philadelphia 76ers on Friday. Gallinari scored 28 points and Chris Paul added 27 points, eight rebounds and five assists for the Thunder, who had dropped three of four before the victory.

      Gilgeous-Alexander had 24 points, while Terrance Ferguson contributed 19 for Oklahoma City.

      "I think we showed what we're capable of," Paul said. "Hopefully, we can get to a point where we don't have to get knocked down and get back up."

      Although the Thunder have struggled early and lost all four of their road games, the former Clippers have been the club's most valuable contributors.

      Gilgeous-Alexander is averaging a team-high 20.4 points to go along with 5.5 rebounds per game on 46.2 percent shooting, including 40.0 percent on 3-pointers. Gallinari is putting up 19.0 points per game on 45.0 percent shooting from the field and 43.0 percent on 3-pointers.

      Paul, another former Clipper who was acquired during the offseason from the Houston Rockets for Russell Westbrook, averages 16.3 points, 5.4 assists and four rebounds per outing.

      The Thunder's contest against the Clippers will be first of back-to-back games in Los Angeles. They face the Lakers on Tuesday.

      --Field Level Media

  • Bulls looking for win in rematch with Bucks
    By Field Level Media / Sunday, November 17, 2019

    The Milwaukee Bucks will go for their fourth win in a row when they visit the Chicago Bulls on Monday night.

    • It will be the second meeting in five days between the teams, who played Thursday in Milwaukee in their first showdown of the season. The Bucks pulled away for a 124-115 win in that game thanks to standout performances from Giannis Antetokounmpo (38 points, 16 rebounds) and Eric Bledsoe (31 points, eight assists).

      Chicago will try to prevent Antetokounmpo from having similar success on Monday, but it will not be easy to slow him down. The 24-year-old is averaging a career-best 30.1 points and shooting 58 percent from the field in 12 starts.

      Bucks center Brook Lopez said Antetokounmpo deserves credit for improving his long-range shooting.

      "It's special," Lopez told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "(It's) just a testament to how hard of a worker he is, because he's been in the gym all summer, been in the gym every day, constantly, every day just working on his game but obviously working on that as well."

      The Bulls enter the game with losses in their past two games, three of four and five of seven. Chicago is coming off a 117-111 loss to the Brooklyn Nets, who did not have Kyrie Irving (shoulder) or Caris LeVert (thumb) in the lineup.

      Frustrations are mounting in the Bulls' locker room, where Zach LaVine spoke about the team's sputtering offense.

      "We get stagnant a lot out there," LaVine told reporters. "We'll run one action, and then everybody is staring at the person with the ball. We've got to get more fluid. I don't feel a lot of people are in rhythm. When that happens, obviously everybody starts trying to do it themselves.

      "It's tough. I blame myself. I try to do that as well. I'm in the gym late. I'm putting up shots. I'm making sure I'm prepared so I can do everything I can to help. We've got to do a better job as a team."

      The Bulls remain without veteran swingman Otto Porter Jr. because of a left foot sprain. That means second-year forward Chandler Hutchison will remain in the starting lineup along with Tomas Satoransky, LaVine, Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr.

      Carter already has eight double-double performances in his first 13 games of the season. The second-year big man from Duke is averaging 13.6 points and 9.8 rebounds, both of which represent a boost from his rookie campaign.

      Milwaukee will not have guard Khris Middleton, who is out for an extended period of time because of a left thigh contusion. He averaged 18.5 points in his first 10 games of the season before the injury.

      Antetokounmpo is the clear-cut leader of the Bucks' offense, and Bledsoe is more than capable as a No. 2 threat. Brook Lopez is averaging 10.9 points in 12 games, but his twin brother, and teammate, Robin likely will draw a big cheer.

      Robin Lopez spent the previous three seasons in Chicago, where he endeared himself to fans with his quirky personality. He is averaging 4.3 points and 2.4 rebounds in a bench role with the Bucks.

      Chicago is 2-4 at home. Milwaukee is 6-2 on the road.

      --Field Level Media

  • Rockets' Harden aims to continue scoring spree vs. Blazers
    By Field Level Media / Sunday, November 17, 2019

    Houston guard James Harden has previously enjoyed stretches of utter brilliance like the one he is riding during the Rockets' seven-game winning streak, but that doesn't diminish the awe his current level of play is inspiring.

    • The Rockets will host the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday seeking to extend their winning streak to eight games while searching for another flash of exceptional play from Harden, who is averaging 43 points, 6.7 rebounds, 7.9 assists and 2.3 steals during the streak.

      With the Rockets missing four of their top five scorers and playing the second game of a home-road back-to-back Saturday at Minnesota, Harden poured in 49 points, grabbed five rebounds and dished out six assists to carry Houston to a 125-105 victory. Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni described Harden as a "bazooka" following the performance and, on a grander scale, Houston displayed the desire needed to win nightly in an ultra-competitive Western Conference.

      "It's very, very important," Harden said. "We can't take any game for granted. We showed that."

      The Trail Blazers were in desperate need of the collective performance they received in San Antonio on Saturday, rallying from a 15-point deficit after earlier blowing a 23-point lead. The 121-116 victory over the Spurs snapped a stretch of six losses over seven games.

      Against the Spurs, the Trail Blazers were more than just Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. That duo combined for 54 points, with McCollum scoring 32 on 13-of-25 shooting, but Portland received 21 points and 12 rebounds plus three blocks from Hassan Whiteside, as well as 16 points from Rodney Hood. Four reserves combined to provide 25 points off the bench.

      "It's better for us in the long term when it's a group effort," Lillard said. "Obviously there are going to be nights where CJ has a huge game, or I have a huge game, or one of us takes over the game. It's going to happen, and it's going to be necessary sometimes. But in a time like this where we've been struggling it's great to have a group effort to pull out a tough win.

      "If we can get that type of production and effort from everybody in big situations like this, it's going to make us a better team."

      Starting with what was essentially a home loss at the buzzer to the 76ers on Nov. 2, the Trail Blazers had slipped into what could fairly be described as the doldrums. Ugly losses at Golden State and Sacramento were mixed in with home setbacks against Brooklyn and Toronto. Viewed as a title contender after qualifying for the Western Conference Finals last season, Portland instead opened this season as one of the surprising disappointments in the league.

      Rallying to win the opener of a six-game, 10-day road trip is what Portland needed to initiate the process of reversing what had been a negative course thus far.

      "It's easy to kind of fall prey to it when things aren't going your way," Portland coach Terry Stotts said. "And I thought hopefully that's a big step for us."

      --Field Level Media

  • Timberwolves hoping Wiggins returns vs. Jazz
    By Field Level Media / Sunday, November 17, 2019

    The Minnesota Timberwolves look like a team that badly needs Andrew Wiggins on the court.

    • While nothing official has been announced, the Timberwolves are anticipating that Wiggins will return from a two-game absence due to personal reasons when they visit the Utah Jazz on Monday in the first game of a back-to-back between the teams.

      Wiggins has been away attending to a family matter, and Minnesota has been blown out in both games, losing 137-116 to the Washington Wizards on Friday and 125-105 to the Houston Rockets on Saturday.

      "One thing I will say is family is family and we are family," Timberwolves coach Ryan Saunders told reporters. "Andrew has the time that he needs to deal with any personal matters, as everybody within the organization does."

      Wiggins has been enjoying a breakout season after being viewed as an underachiever over his first five NBA seasons.

      The former No. 1 overall pick is averaging 25.9 points, 5.1 rebounds and 3.6 assists and shooting 47.8 percent from the field in 11 games. Last season, Wiggins averaged 18.1 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.5 assists and shot a career-low 41.2 percent from the floor.

      Wiggins has topped 20 points in each of his past seven games, scoring 30 or more in four of them. He is averaging 29.1 points during the stretch.

      Wiggins fared well against the Jazz last season by averaging 22.3 points and 5.8 rebounds in four games. Utah won three of the contests.

      The Jazz had a four-game winning streak halted on Friday when they fell 107-106 to the Memphis Grizzlies.

      The setback came in point guard Mike Conley's return to Memphis, the city he called home for 12 seasons while starring for the Grizzlies. Conley scored 15 points but was 5 of 19 from the field, including 2 of 8 from 3-point range.

      "It was disappointing to lose, obviously," Conley said afterward. "It was a hard game to play, but it was special. A lot of emotions. Part of you is soaking it all in and the other part of you is trying to focus and stay locked into the game. I'm glad I got it over with. It was an amazing experience. It just would've been better if we'd won."

      Star shooting guard Donovan Mitchell continued his strong start with 29 points, nine rebounds and five assists. However, he was unable to get off a last-second shot as he was stripped of the ball by Memphis' Solomon Hill.

      Mitchell said there should have been a whistle.

      "I got fouled. Really not much else to it," Mitchell told reporters. "They defended it well, but (he) hit my whole arm."

      Mitchell, who is averaging 25.4 points, has topped 20 points in 10 of Utah's 12 games, recording 30 or more on three occasions.

      Minnesota hopes it can hold Mitchell in check better than it did James Harden, who scored 49 points for the Rockets on Saturday.

      It certainly was a volume night for Harden, who took 41 shots (making 16). He was 8 of 22 from 3-point range.

      "I'm a no-excuse person," Saunders said. "Who's on the court is on the court. But we have to do more things to make teams like that uncomfortable. James Harden is a heck of a player. He's one of the best scorers you'll ever see. And he took 41 shots. I thought we made him work for some of them. But some of them, we didn't."

      --Field Level Media

  • Weary Raptors return home to face Hornets
    By Field Level Media / Sunday, November 17, 2019

    The Charlotte Hornets rallied late to win their past two games, but that could be more difficult to do when they visit the NBA champion Toronto Raptors on Monday night.

    • The Hornets defeated the Detroit Pistons on Friday and the New York Knicks on Saturday on 3-pointers in the final seconds.

      The Raptors, meanwhile, used strong defense against the oppositions' top scorers to go 3-2 on a road trip against Western Conference teams without injured Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka.

      The Raptors finished the trip Saturday with a 110-102 loss to the Dallas Mavericks after getting within two points with 2:08 to play on a layup by Noman Powell. But Luka Doncic, who had 26 points, sank a floater and Seth Curry made two free throws as Dallas pulled away.

      "They are a good team and they played some good defense but I think at stretches we kind of found ourselves in a little mud and I think that had to do with the long road trip," said Powell, who scored a season-best 26 points. "Guys were ready to get home, but I think we stayed with it and fought to the end."

      Devonte' Graham hit his career-best ninth 3-point shot of the game Saturday with 2.8 seconds to play as the Hornets defeated the Knicks 103-102 in the opener of a four-game trip.

      The Hornets defeated the Detroit Pistons 109-106 Friday at home on Malik Monk's buzzer-beating 3-pointer. Charlotte lost to the Memphis Grizzlies 119-117 on Wednesday on a layup by Ja Morant with 0.7 seconds left.

      The Hornets are learning to play without star guard Kemba Walker, who went to the Boston Celtics on a sign-and-trade in the offseason.

      Walker had been the key to the Hornets' offense for the past several seasons. They are compensating for his loss with guards Terry Rozier -- who came from Boston in the trade for Walker -- Graham and Monk.

      "Our goal is to play with multiple ball-handlers, multiple playmakers," Hornets coach James Borrego said. "It didn't matter who had the ball, we had three decision-makers who could put pressure on the rim, shoot the 3-ball and make plays for others. That's tough to guard anytime you put that type of pressure on the defense."

      The Hornets got three points, nine rebounds, six assists and 29 minutes from Nicolas Batum on Saturday in his return from a fractured finger. Dwayne Bacon did not play for the third straight game because of a sore knee.

      The Raptors were showing signs of fatigue Saturday and Pascal Siakam had an off night with 15 points on 6-for-24 shooting with five turnovers.

      --Field Level Media

  • Nets looking for breakthrough against Pacers
    By Field Level Media / Sunday, November 17, 2019

    The Brooklyn Nets survived one game without Kyrie Irving and may have to do so again, but this time against an opponent they seldom beat.

    • Irving is dealing with right shoulder impingement and could be sidelined again Monday when the Nets host the Indiana Pacers, who have won 10 of the last 11 meetings.

      Irving missed his first game of the season due to the injury on Saturday but the Nets made enough plays down the stretch and ended a five-game road trip by dominating the fourth quarter in a 117-111 win over the Chicago Bulls. Spencer Dinwiddie started for Irving alongside Garrett Temple in Brooklyn's backcourt and scored 20 of his 24 points in the final quarter when the Nets shot 61 percent and made 19 of 21 free throws.

      "I'm not Kyrie," Dinwiddie said. "He's gonna continue to lead this team and do a great job. I just tried to gauge what needed to be done to win the game. I'm not gonna be Kyrie. Kyrie might win MVP this year."

      The Nets went 2-3 on the trip, making several clutch plays Nov. 8 in Portland before losing the next three in Phoenix, Utah, and Denver. They were blown out in Phoenix but blew double-digit leads in Utah and Denver by getting outscored 57-36 in those fourth quarters.

      Irving was listed as questionable for the previous two games. He played Thursday against the Nuggets but was held to 17 points. Although he is averaging 28.5 points, he is shooting 36 percent in his last two games and is 4 of 23 from 3-point range in his last three games.

      Irving will likely be listed as questionable. If he sits again, the Nets would likely keep the alignment of Dinwiddie and Temple. Temple was elevated to the starting lineup Tuesday when the Nets lost Caris LeVert to right thumb surgery.

      Indiana won its fifth straight game in Brooklyn on Oct. 30 when Domantas Sabonis scored 29 points in a 118-108 win. The Pacers were 0-3 entering their first meeting with the Nets but are 7-3 in their last 10 games.

      Indiana won four straight games before absorbing losses to Houston and Milwaukee in a weekend back-to-back set.

      After a 111-102 loss in Houston on Friday, the Pacers followed it up by shooting a season-low 32 percent and getting outscored 31-20 in the fourth quarter of a 102-83 home loss to the Bucks.

      The best news to emerge from Saturday was the return of Myles Turner from a right ankle sprain he sustained in the first quarter in Brooklyn. Turner was listed as doubtful but wound up totaling 16 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks in 33 minutes.

      "I was just happy to get back out there," Turner said. "I didn't care how many points I scored or what happened tonight, I just wanted to get back out there with my guys. It's been a tough past couple of weeks. It's hard to just sit there and watch."

      The Pacers are hoping Malcolm Brogdon can return after sitting out with a sore back. Brogdon torched the Nets for 21 points, 13 assists and eight rebounds in the first meeting but exited with a sore back after playing nine minutes on Friday.

      Indiana also could be missing Jeremy Lamb, who had 25 points in the first meeting with Brooklyn. Lamb has missed the last six games with a sprained left ankle and has only appeared in five games so far.

      --Field Level Media

  • Spurs bring five-game losing streak to Dallas
    By Field Level Media / Sunday, November 17, 2019

    Having shown that they can hang with the NBA's best teams, the Dallas Mavericks are in prime shape to continue improving when they host the struggling San Antonio Spurs on Monday.

    • Well, not so fast. Even in a swoon, you can never count out the Spurs, who are smarting after a series of close losses.

      The Mavericks enter the contest on the heels of a 110-102 home win against the defending champion Toronto Raptors. Luka Doncic had 26 points, including a career-best 15 free throws in a career-high 19 attempts, 15 rebounds and seven assists in Saturday's victory.

      Kristaps Porzingis added 20 points and tied a career high with 15 rebounds for the Mavericks, who had lost their two previous games. Seth Curry and Delon Wright each had 15 points and Maxi Kleber and Dorian Finney-Smith each scored 10 in a game that Dallas took over in the fourth quarter.

      Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said the production of Porzingis at both ends of the floor was probably the best he's had all season.

      "I love the way he moved and played within the team system," Carlisle said. "We made some real progress as a team, especially with that first unit."

      The Mavericks' next three games, all at home, are against three teams -- the Spurs, Warriors and Cavaliers -- that have won five of the past six league titles.

      "This is a tough homestand," Carlisle said. "It's a great opportunity, certainly, to be home. We'll find out a lot. I don't know exactly what it will tell me or us, but the opportunity to compete at home in front of your fans, it's a big deal and it's a big opportunity."

      The Spurs will stagger their way up I-35 after dropping their fifth straight game, a 121-116 loss at home to Portland. It was San Antonio's eighth loss in its last 10 games and the second consecutive game that the Spurs have had leads in the fourth quarter and not finished.

      LaMarcus Aldridge led the Spurs with 30 points and a season-high 13 rebounds in the loss to the Trail Blazers. Bryn Forbes scored 17 points and Rudy Gay and DeMar DeRozan added 16 each.

      It's the first time San Antonio has lost five straight since the 2010-11 season.

      "I thought we competed for more of the 48 minutes than we have in other games," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "By compete, I mean, being as physical as we need to be and executing defensively and rebounding-wise as much as we need to be. I was really proud of them."

      The game had some added drama when Popovich was ejected with 9:37 left in the third quarter. His exit led to speculation that assistant coach Becky Hammon would make history as the first woman to coach in a regulation NBA game, but it fell on Tim Duncan to lead the team.

      Asked who was acting head coach after his ejection, Popovich said: "Timmy was."

      Was there any consideration given to making Hammon the acting coach and making history? "I'm not here to make history," Popovich said.

      The Spurs played without point guard Dejounte Murray, who was given the night off to rest on the second night of a back-to-back. Murray missed the 2018-19 season with a knee injury and is on a doctor-prescribed minutes restriction.

      --Field Level Media

  • Lakers, Davis look to keep rolling as Hawks visit
    By Field Level Media / Sunday, November 17, 2019

    After just 12 games with Anthony Davis in the fold, the Los Angeles Lakers are finding out that even when their star forward is not at his best, he still can make a giant impact on games.

    • Davis and the Lakers head into a home game against the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday coming off a 99-97 victory over the Sacramento Kings.

      Part of the reason the Lakers' Pacific Division duel with Sacramento was closer than expected was that Davis struggled offensively for one of the few times since he has been in a Lakers uniform. He scored 17 points on 5-of-12 shooting from the field, well under his 25.5 per-game average.

      And even then, Davis quite literally had his hands all over the victory. His two-handed block -- his fourth rejection of the game -- of a Harrison Barnes layup at the buzzer sealed a third-consecutive Lakers victory since a home defeat to the Toronto Raptors last Sunday.

      Davis has played through nagging shoulder and rib injuries and, for the most part, he has also had to play through double-team defenses.

      "When the shot's not falling, I try to do the other things to help the team win," Davis said, according to the Los Angeles Times. "The team was trying to get me going; (I) just missed some shots, and I tried to take it out on the defensive end."

      LeBron James knows when to hit the gas pedal, and with Davis struggling, he took 20 shots, making 10 of them, while scoring 29 points with 11 assists. Without veteran guard Avery Bradley, who was diagnosed with a hairline fracture in his right leg, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope picked up his game to score 16 points on 6-of-10 shooting.

      The Hawks will enter Sunday's game -- the last of a five-game road trip -- feeling a sense of familiarity with their surroundings. Otherwise, it was a Saturday night to forget, as Atlanta was crushed 150-101 by the Lakers' co-tenant, the Los Angeles Clippers.

      The Hawks have lost five of their last six games, but a 125-121 victory at Denver against a formidable Nuggets team was at least an encouraging sign. Not so encouraging is a 2-8 record since winning back-to-back games to open the season.

      Trae Young scored 20 points against the Clippers, but that was on 4-of-16 shooting, including 2 of 7 from 3-point range. The Hawks' 37.8 percent shooting from the field was bad enough, but they allowed the Clippers to shoot 53.8 percent on 93 shots from the field. The Hawks' defense also allowed the Clippers to shoot 51.5 percent from 3-point range.

      Since a disappointing nine-point game on Nov. 6 against the Chicago Bulls -- when he went 3 of 12 from the field and 0 of 8 from 3-point range -- Young has averaged 29.6 points per game, putting him at 26.6 points per game this season.

      In what appears to be a tactic to light a fire under himself, Young referenced disrespect in a Twitter post this week and talked about the subject Saturday.

      "It's not a shot toward anybody," Young said about his Twitter post, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "It's just some people that didn't think I'd be able to do what I've been doing. It's just motivation. Everybody has a certain type of motivation that fuels them. There's things that fuel me, and so I try to use it to my advantage."

      --Field Level Media

  • Warriors in unfamiliar place as they face Pelicans
    By Field Level Media / Sunday, November 17, 2019

    The New Orleans Pelicans have been trying to catch the Golden State Warriors for years.

    • It's happening so far this season, but not in the way anyone would have predicted.

      The Pelicans haven't ascended to the level of the five-time Western Conference champion Warriors.

      Instead, the Warriors have fallen to the bottom of the West in the wake of Kevin Durant's defection to Brooklyn in free agency and injuries to Klay Thompson and Steph Curry.

      Golden State has won an NBA-low two games, one fewer than New Orleans has after a 109-94 loss at Miami on Saturday night.

      "We're trying to get better, and that starts with just competing," Warriors center Willie Cauley-Stein said. "We're taking little steps."

      One of those baby steps came in a competitive battle with visiting Boston, which has the NBA's best record. But Golden State came up short, 105-100, Friday night for its sixth straight loss.

      "We played our best defensive game of the year," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. "That's what really matters."

      But starting guard D'Angelo Russell suffered a sprained right thumb that's expected to sideline him for two weeks.

      Golden State is off to its worst start since beginning 2-16 in 1999-00. The six-game losing streak matches its longest since dropping six in a row from Feb. 5-19, 2013.

      "Nobody is preordained to get to play in the Finals every year," Kerr said. "It just doesn't work that way. We sort of look at it the opposite way in that how lucky we've been to be part of this group. ... and have a lot of success. Maybe we were due for a year like this."

      The Warriors are beginning a four-game road trip in New Orleans, where they got one of their wins this season -- 134-123 on Oct. 28.

      The Pelicans played without five of their top seven scorers in the loss to the Heat, including leading scorer Brandon Ingram and third-leading scorer JJ Redick.

      Rookie Nickeil Alexander-Walker led the Pelicans, who have just three wins this season but defeated the Clippers 132-127 in their last home game Thursday night, with a season-high 27 points. E'Twaun Moore added 18 points, Jrue Holiday had 14 points, rookie Jaxson Hayes had 12 and Nicolo Melli 10.

      The Pelicans stayed in the game until midway through the fourth quarter primarily by making 3-pointers, finishing with 16. But the Heat enjoyed a 46-31 rebounding advantage and were called for just six fouls.

      "I thought the guys played extremely hard," Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said. "We just ran out of gas, to be honest with you. We just did not have enough people tonight."

      It's unclear how many players the Pelicans will have available against the Warriors.

      Ingram and Redick were joined Saturday on the sideline by starting point guard Lonzo Ball (groin), guard Josh Hart (knee/ankle) and backup center Jahlil Okafor (ankle). Rookie overall No. 1 draft choice Zion Williamson (knee) has yet to play and isn't expected to return until sometime next month.

      --Field Level Media

  • NBA roundup: George, Clippers pummel Hawks
    By Field Level Media / Sunday, November 17, 2019

    Paul George scored 37 points in only 20 minutes, leading the Los Angeles Clippers to a 150-101 victory over the visiting Atlanta Hawks on Saturday night despite playing without Kawhi Leonard.

    • George, who scored 25 points in the first half, converted 10 of 17 shots from the floor overall, including 6 of 11 3-pointers. He made all 11 of his free throws. George, who scored 33 points in his season debut Thursday in a loss to the New Orleans Pelicans, is 21 of 21 from the line in two games.

      Lou Williams, who made 15 of 15 free throws, had 25 points off the bench for the Clippers, who snapped a two-game losing streak. Jerome Robinson contributed 21 points, and Montrezl Harrell had 17, helping the Clippers' bench outscore the Hawks' reserves 81-35.

      Trae Young led the Hawks with 20 points to go along with six assists. Young, though, hit just 4 of 16 shots from the floor. De'Andre Hunter and Cam Reddish each had 12 points, and Jabari Parker, Damian Jones and Evan Turner chipped in 11 apiece for Atlanta.

      Rockets 125, Timberwolves 105

      James Harden recorded his fifth 40-plus point scoring effort during Houston's seven-game winning streak, posting 49 in a victory over Minnesota in Minneapolis.

      Hamstrung by a roster depleted by injuries, Harden took a career-high 41 shots. He finished 8 of 22 on 3-pointers and added five rebounds and six assists over 39 minutes.

      The Timberwolves led by as many as 11 points in the first half but struggled to contain Harden. They also missed the production of their second-leading scorer, forward Andrew Wiggins, who missed his second consecutive game (personal reasons). Karl-Anthony Towns paired 27 points with 15 rebounds to pace the Timberwolves.

      Trail Blazers 121, Spurs 116

      CJ McCollum scored 32 points, and Hassan Whiteside added 21 points and 12 rebounds as visiting Portland built a huge early lead, gave it all back and more, but then rallied for a win over host San Antonio.

      The Spurs trailed by as many as 20 in the first quarter and 23 in the second, but rallied to take the lead in the third and lead by as many as 15 three minutes into the fourth quarter. Portland came back to tie the game at 111 after a putback layup by McCollum with 2:26 to play.

      The Trail Blazers were the better team down the stretch, outscoring San Antonio 10-5 in the final two minutes to snap a two-game losing streak. Damian Lillard added 22 points for the Blazers, and Rodney Hood hit for 16 points in the win. LaMarcus Aldridge led the Spurs with 30 points and a season-high 13 rebounds.

      Bucks 102, Pacers 83

      Giannis Antetokounmpo recorded 26 points and 13 rebounds as Milwaukee ran off from host Indiana for a comfortable victory in a duel between the Central Division's top two teams in Indianapolis.

      The game was supposed to be a reunion between Pacers guard Malcolm Brogdon and his former Bucks teammates, but Brogdon was a scratch with a sore back that also cut short his playing time Friday night at Houston. Brogdon left Milwaukee in an offseason sign-and-trade.

      Indiana held a four-point lead late in the first period before Robin Lopez hit a pair of jumpers, one a 3-pointer, to give Milwaukee the lead for good. The Pacers, who had won four in a row before losing Friday at Houston, never got closer than seven in the second half.

      Mavericks 110, Raptors 102

      Luka Doncic had 26 points, 15 rebounds and seven assists, and Dallas defeated visiting Toronto to snap a two-game losing streak.

      Kristaps Porzingis added 20 points and 15 rebounds for the Mavericks. Seth Curry and former Raptor Delon Wright each had 15 points, while Maxi Kleber and Dorian Finney-Smith each scored 10.

      Normal Powell led the Raptors with a season-best 26 points, and Fred VanVleet added 24. Pascal Siakam had 15 points and seven assists, and Matt Thomas had 10 points as Toronto completed a 3-2 road trip.

      Nets 117, Bulls 111

      Spencer Dinwiddie had a team-high 24 points, Joe Harris added 22 points and eight assists, and Brooklyn rallied for a win over host Chicago.

      Taurean Waller-Prince added 13 points, and Garrett Temple had 12 for the Nets, who ended a three-game losing skid. Jarrett Allen tallied 11 points, and Theo Pinson contributed 10.

      Zach LaVine scored 36 points on 11-for-24 shooting for Chicago, which lost for the second time in three nights. The Bulls received double-double performances from both Wendell Carter Jr. (18 points, 14 rebounds) and Lauri Markkanen (16 points, 10 rebounds).

      Hornets 103, Knicks 102

      Devonte' Graham hit a career-high nine 3-pointers, scored 29 points and hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with 2.8 seconds left as Charlotte edged host New York.

      The Hornets won their second straight game on a last-second shot. A night after Malik Monk's buzzer-beater beat the Detroit Pistons to halt Charlotte's four-game losing streak, it was Graham's turn to complete a comeback from 15 points down early in the third quarter and from eight points down in the final 6:40.

      New York held a 102-98 lead on Julius Randle's dunk with 48.2 seconds left. After two free throws by rookie PJ Washington, Randle air-balled a floater with 12.3 seconds to go, setting it up for Graham. After the timeout, Nicolas Batum inbounded the ball from near midcourt to Washington. Washington made a bounce pass to Graham, who gained enough separation from Frank Ntilikina to hit the 3-pointer from well beyond the top of the key.

      --Field Level Media

  • After thrilling win, Grizzlies refocus vs. Nuggets
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, November 16, 2019

    The Memphis Grizzlies are in the rare position of having to avoid a letdown against one of the top teams in the league when they host the Denver Nuggets on Sunday night.

    • The Grizzlies are coming off one of their most emotional wins since their playoff days, when they celebrated Mike Conley's return with a festive night Friday that concluded in a 107-106 win over Utah.

      The event, which honored one of the franchise's all-time greatest players, served as an unofficial passing of the torch from Conley to Ja Morant, who the Grizzlies took with the second pick in the draft in June.

      Morant went for 25 points and eight assists in his first head-to-head with Conley, and later admitted he'd taken the court accompanied by butterflies.

      "It's a big night for me, honestly," Morant told reporters afterward, "and just to top it off with a win, it just felt good. It was special."

      The return of former University of Memphis standout Will Barton, who is with the Nuggets, isn't expected to have quite the same buzz, but the Grizzlies would be wise not to overlook the 28-year-old's homecoming.

      Barton has played brilliantly in Denver's 8-3 start, scoring at least 13 points in eight of his nine games while averaging a career-best 15.8. He contributed 17 points to a 101-93 win over Brooklyn on Thursday night, the Nuggets' fifth win in their last six games.

      "He's 'Thrill,'" Nuggets star Nikola Jokic said of Barton. "When he plays aggressive, when the shots are coming, he's a problem."

      Barton often has saved his best for the return to his college hometown. He went for 20 points in Denver's win at Memphis last January, after having reached 25 and 24 points in two of his previous three reunions.

      In two years for the Memphis Tigers, Barton averaged 15.2 points and 6.5 rebounds. He earned Conference USA Player of the Year honors as a sophomore before entering the 2012 NBA Draft.

      While Barton has been sparking nightly fireworks at the other end of the floor, the Nuggets have made their mark on defense this season. Their game result almost always has been dictated by their defense.

      Denver has allowed 98 or fewer points in each of its last six wins. On the other hand, the club's three losses this season have all come in games when the opponent scored 109 or more.

      The Nuggets' defense dominated the Morant-less Grizzlies last year, holding them to an average of 93.3 points while winning two of three contests.

      Denver will see a whole new look this time around, thanks mostly to Morant, who began the weekend as the league's leading scorer (208 points) and assist man (66) among rookies.

      Morant already has scored 20 or more points six times, including two in a row and five of the last seven.

      The Grizzlies have averaged 117.2 points in their five wins, including 113 a night during their current three-game winning streak over San Antonio, Charlotte and Utah.

      --Field Level Media

  • Wizards' Beal out to work his magic against Orlando
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, November 16, 2019

    Positive moments on the basketball court have been few and far between this season for the Washington Wizards, save for the consistent play of Bradley Beal.

    • Fresh off consecutive 44-point performances, Beal aims to continue his torrid play on Sunday when the Wizards complete a three-game road trip against the Orlando Magic.

      Beal followed up a 17-for-27 performance from the floor in Washington's 140-133 loss at Boston on Wednesday by making 15 of 22 shots two nights later in a 137-116 victory against Minnesota.

      The two-time All-Star guard has reached the 40-point plateau in back-to-back games for the second time in his career, joining Michael Jordan as the lone members of the franchise to accomplish the feat.

      "I'm just being aggressive. I feel like I'm the best (answer) on the floor, and I just keep that mentality, honestly," Beal said, per the Washington Post. "Hoop looks like it's big enough to fit four or five basketballs in. That's where I'm at right now."

      Beal's performances have become old hat for a Wizards' team that has just three wins this season, so much so that coach Scott Brooks didn't even bring up his name until prompted following the victory over the Timberwolves.

      "Yeah, Brad -- I mean, he's a stud," Brooks said. "He brings it every night. I just love his demeanor. He has a good way about him. When he's frustrated, he lets guys know. It's what we want our leader to be. He's not happy being 3-7, and the guys have heard about it throughout this start of the season."

      Moritz Wagner had a career-high 30 points on a 13-of-15 performance from the floor -- including a 4-of-4 effort from 3-point range. The second-year center also had a team-best 15 rebounds.

      "I didn't do anything special, I guess," Wagner said. "We competed hard defensively. I rolled, yeah. I might have to do that more often because it worked out. Yeah. I made some shots."

      Evan Fournier and Terrence Ross also hit some shots on Friday, with Fournier highlighting his 26-point performance by sinking five 3-pointers in Orlando's 111-109 victory over San Antonio.

      Ross did his part by scoring 10 of his season-high 20 points in the fourth quarter to lift the Magic to consecutive wins for the first time this season.

      "When T-Ross and I both make shots, it just spreads the floor and it gives us more opportunity," Fournier said. "Then the paint is open for Vuc (Nikola Vucevic). It's the lineup we mostly ended games with last year and it's the lineup we are comfortable with."

      Orlando was able to notch its fifth win of the season without the services of forward Jonathan Isaac, who rolled his right ankle on Thursday during the unveiling of the Magic's City Edition uniforms at Disney World.

      "People always say I shouldn't leave guys in at the end of the game when we have a 12-point lead because somebody might get hurt," Magic coach Steve Clifford said of Isaac. "Hey, somebody could get hurt walking down the hall. It happens all the time."

      Isaac said he intends to play on Sunday.

      --Field Level Media

  • Celtics meet Kings seeking 11th straight win
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, November 16, 2019

    Winning 10 games in a row is nothing new for a Celtics team that accomplished the feat just two seasons ago, but for one of Boston's newest players, the streak has been nothing short of a revelation.

    • "I've never won this many games in a row," said point guard Kemba Walker after the team's latest triumph Friday. "I've never had a start like this. I'm just loving the way I'm feeling after games."

      Walker will try to recapture that feeling for an 11th straight game when his Celtics visit the Sacramento Kings on Sunday afternoon. Long a punching bag for many throughout the sport, these Kings are not to be overlooked, having won four of six since an 0-5 start.

      In fact, while the Celtics narrowly closed out a 105-100 win over the Western Conference's worst team, the Golden State Warriors, on Friday night, the Kings were giving the top team in the West, the Los Angeles Lakers, a serious run for their money. Late heroics from LeBron James and Anthony Davis ultimately resulted in a 99-97 Sacramento loss, but the positives from the outing were clear.

      "We had some open looks we didn't knock down, but that is a big, talented team, and I thought our guys were light on numbers," said Kings coach Luke Walton, who didn't have De'Aaron Fox (ankle, no timetable) or Trevor Ariza (groin, day-to-day) available. "We had to put guys in that hadn't played much at all, and everyone that checked in fought and competed."

      Buddy Hield led Sacramento with 21 points but lamented a no-call on the game-sealing block from Davis that followed a tiebreaking pair of James free throws with 5.5 seconds left.

      "We've got something good going here, but this game, we should have won. I think we just got it stolen away from us," Hield said.

      Boston had its streak nearly stolen away by Golden State, which led by five with 2:37 left on the clock. The Celtics responded with an 11-0 run to put the game away, Walker sealing a 14-point fourth quarter and the victory with a pair of free throws with 2.7 seconds to go.

      Jaylen Brown scored 22 points, his fourth straight game with more than 20, and Jayson Tatum led all scorers with 24, including a thunderous dunk that put Boston up for good with 1:36 remaining.

      "Relentless group," Tatum said. "Just always on to next play."

      The Celtics' streak is their longest since winning 16 straight early in the 2017-18 season. Boston's game against Golden State kicked off a five-game West Coast swing that will wrap up with tough contests against the Los Angeles Clippers and Denver Nuggets.

      The Kings will host the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday before setting off on a four-game East Coast trip of their own that includes a rematch against the Celtics on Nov. 25.

      Boston has won seven of its past eight meetings with Sacramento, though the three most recent victories have been by single digits.

      -Field Level Media

  • 76ers bid to halt losing streak vs. Cavaliers
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, November 16, 2019

    The Philadelphia 76ers will look to snap a two-game losing streak on Sunday afternoon when they visit the Cleveland Cavaliers.

    • The 76ers dropped road games to the Orlando Magic on Wednesday and Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday and have lost five of seven overall. Philadelphia is 4-0 at home and 3-5 on the road.

      Joel Embiid registered his sixth double-double of the season with 31 points and 12 rebounds and Josh Richardson added a season-high 28 points in Philadelphia's 127-119 overtime loss to the Thunder on Friday. But once the game was extended to overtime, the Thunder pulled away rather easily.

      "We're obviously frustrated," said forward Tobias Harris, who scored 21 points and hit 3 of 4 shots from 3-point range to snap an 0-for-23 drought.

      "Losing five of seven is not where we want to be. It's early in the season, and right now, we're going to progress and get better and find ways to figure out ways to help each other and help our team and go from there."

      In the loss, Ben Simmons put up 16 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists, but all of his field-goal attempts came close to the basket. Simmons has been criticized for not being willing to shoot jumpers in the mid-range game or from 3-point land. Simmons has yet to attempt a 3-pointer this season.

      "I just played. I went to the hole, was being aggressive and tried to make the right play every time," Simmons said. "And just being me. J-Rich (Richardson) and Joel (Embiid) told me to keep playing that way and get out of my own way."

      The Cavaliers enter this matchup with a 4-7 record and a two-game losing streak, but first-year head coach John Beilein appears to have made the team relevant again.

      Cleveland was nipped 98-97 at Philadelphia on Tuesday after Kevin Love missed a wide-open 3-pointer in the final seconds.

      In their most recent game, the Cavaliers fell 108-97 at home to the Miami Heat on Thursday. Love had 21 points and 10 rebounds while Collin Sexton added 15 points.

      But the loss came at a cost as forward Larry Nance Jr. left the game in the fourth quarter when he appeared to injure his left hand on a dunk. Nance was taken to the locker room and didn't return.

      "I'll be all right," Nance told reporters. "I'm going to get some treatment so we'll know more later. I'm not necessarily certain (what happened). I just felt the pain."

      Despite being three games under .500, the Cavaliers have taken lessons from recent losses to teams such as the Sixers and Heat.

      "They have a good system, they play well together, and that was a complete mismatch in ball movement and defense," Beilein said of the Heat.

      "And second half, I thought we were able to make a lot of positive strides in the right direction, but way too much to overcome. That's why they are 8-3, and there's a reason why we are 4-7. We have a lot of work to do."

      --Field Level Media

  • Warriors' Russell (thumb) to miss at least two weeks
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, November 16, 2019

    Golden State Warriors leading scorer D'Angelo Russell will miss at least two weeks with a sprained right thumb.

    • The team announced his status after reviewing results of an MRI on Saturday.

      He will be re-evaluated in two weeks and will not join the Warriors on their four-game road trip.

      Russell, 23, left Friday night's 105-100 home loss to the Boston Celtics midway through the third quarter after having the ball swiped away by Daniel Theis during a drive to the basket. He missed the game's final 18 minutes.

      He had his hand checked on the sideline, then went to the locker room and didn't return. X-rays on the thumb were negative.

      Russell, who is averaging 24.3 points and 6.7 assists, finished the game with 12 points, seven assists and nine turnovers.

      The injury is the latest setback for the 2-11 Warriors, who also are without stars Stephen Curry (broken hand) and Klay Thompson (torn ACL). Kevon Looney, Jacob Evans and rookie Alen Smailagic also have missed all or most of the season thus far.

      The Warriors face the New Orleans Pelicans (3-8) on the road Sunday night.

      --Field Level Media