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Updated Thursday, March 4, 2021 at 12:15 a.m. ET

But the Rockets — who plan to retire Harden’s No. 13 jersey — honored him with a first-quarter video tribute that drew genuine cheers. Moved, Harden responded by raising both his hands in acknowledgement, then touched them to his heart. “A lot of mixed emotions for the fans,” Harden said in a TV interview, thanking Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta for vowing to retire his jersey. “But my team did an unbelievable job and had my back, allowing me to come out here and get this win.” The positive sentiment had been echoed by the Rockets’ first-year coach, Stephen Silas, whose job was made a whole lot tougher when Harden demanded a trade. - NY Post


LeBron James will miss his first game of the season when the Los Angeles Lakers play a road game against the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday in their final outing before the NBA All-Star break, the Lakers said. James did not accompany the team on its flight to Sacramento following a 114-104 home loss to the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday night, according to a team spokesperson. -

The Jazz will be hard-pressed to find a single game from now to the end of the season where they aren’t getting attacked from every angle as teams try to knock them out of their league-leading position. “We’re competing with ourselves,” Rudy Gobert said. “The teams and the players see us as a challenge and it brings the best out of them every single night. ... They come out and they play great, they play hard and it’s almost like a playoff game every night.” In addition to not wanting to lose two in a row, the Jazz are also hoping to head into the All-Star break on a positive note and a win in Philadelphia would help to erase the bad feelings from their loss in New Orleans. - Deseret News


Every few minutes during Tuesday’s first quarter, a black graphic flashed during the Turner Sports telecast that seemed to be a signal to viewers: Do not adjust your set, what you are seeing is correct. Reggie Jackson, the Clippers’ backup guard who had not started since Feb. 17, was on the floor inside Boston’s TD Garden at tipoff. Kawhi Leonard was nowhere to be seen. Leonard had tried to warm up through back spasms but was ultimately scratched only minutes before tipoff. His night ended there. - LA Times

After his media availability before Tuesday’s game in San Antonio, the Knicks announced recent starter Derrick Rose is out for health and safety COVID-19 protocols. It was not immediately clear if he had tested positive or came in close contact with a person with COVID-19. That could mean Rose is out until after the All-Star break. The Knicks finish the first half Thursday against Detroit. - NY Post

Kyrie Irving has a message for any of those Rockets fans who have plans to treat their former favorite player poorly. "Everybody at home, enjoy the game; there will be no tension or no sh-t-talking going on, on the court or about James in my presence or anybody else’s presence," Irving said after the Nets' overtime win in San Antonio on Monday night. "We’re coming to Houston to enjoy the game of basketball and play it at a high level on behalf of James and the rest of the guys because we know it's a special night regardless, going back to where he started it all or where he started making a huge jump in his career. We know what it means for everybody on the outside, but internally, we're just going to have fun and play the game that we love.” - Houston Chronicle

There are two versions of the Boston Celtics. One is led by two under-25 All-Stars and carries the expectations of having reached the conference finals in three of the past four seasons. The other has eight players in their first or second year in the NBA, most of whom have been unable to earn a consistent spot in the team's rotation. The divide between those two realities hints at why the Celtics enter tonight's showdown against the LA Clippers sitting at .500, in a morass of teams fighting for position in the back half of the East playoff picture. "That's shocking," an Eastern Conference scout said over the weekend of Boston's record. "They have more talent than their record would indicate." -


Houston Rockets guard Victor Oladipo recently turned down a two-year, $45.2 million maximum contract extension, the most the franchise could offer him before the end of the regular season, sources told ESPN. As expected, Oladipo is pursuing a longer-term deal, sources said, something that the collective bargaining agreement doesn't allow the Rockets to offer him until the offseason. -

Oladipo is in the final year of a four-year, $85 million contract, which leaves the Rockets with decisions to make prior to the March 25 trade deadline -- including whether they'll make him available in trade talks. The transitional state of the Rockets' roster makes it likely they'll listen to overtures as they continue to get to know Oladipo -- and he gets to know them -- since the mid-January trade that brought him from the Indiana Pacers as part of the James Harden blockbuster. -

Portland Trail Blazers guard Anfernee Simons and Indiana Pacers rookie Cassius Stanley are expected to join New York Knicks rookie Obi Toppin in the NBA's slam dunk contest, sources told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski on Sunday. The NBA is continuing a recent trend of highlighting some of the league's younger players in the contest, with the 21-year-old Simons competing alongside two rookies. This year's dunk contest will take place at halftime of the All-Star Game on March 7 in Atlanta. -


The Chicago Sun-Times reported this month that several teams were intrigued with the idea of Thaddeus Young bolstering their bench, as well as providing a versatile frontcourt option to close games. He would be an instant boost for teams going for that late-season push, such as the Heat or Knicks. Young is signed through next season, earning $13.5 million this season and $14.1 million in the final year of his deal, but what would he really bring back in a trade? - Chicago Sun-Times

The Bulls and Markkanen’s camp couldn’t agree on a contract extension in December, setting the stage for the 7-footer to test the restricted free-agent market. Donovan said he still covets Markkanen’s stretch-four skills despite his frequent injuries. If there’s a chance to grab a lottery pick for Markkanen, that deal has to be explored. - Chicago Sun-Times

Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic has inspired comparisons to legends such as Larry Bird and Magic Johnson less than 2½ seasons into his NBA career. Among active superstars, Doncic's game might be most similar to that of perennial MVP candidate James Harden, who acknowledged Saturday night that he considers those comparisons legitimate. "There are some similarities," Harden said after the Mavs' 115-98 road win snapped the Brooklyn Nets' eight-game winning streak. "He never lets anyone speed him up, and he gets what he wants. That's rare for a guy at a young age. I think he's 21 years old. And to be able to dictate the game and control the game like he does, we all know he has a very, very bright future. "The Mavs got a special one." --

The Jazz were without Mike Conley (just precautionary management for his hamstring on back-to-back games), they didn’t look like they had their legs under them, missed quite a few free throws, didn’t have an outstanding shooting night and they were still able to get it done pretty easily against the Magic. The Jazz are just flat out a good team. The bottom teams in the league are going to have to have a great outing to shake the Jazz and that’s a great position to be in. - Deseret News

On one end of the floor, Luka Doncic spins off his man, drives down the lane and euro-steps around James Harden for the easy basket. On the other, Harden lulls his man to sleep, one flurry of crossovers after another, before stepping back for a contested three that borders on equal parts un-guardable and flat-out unfair. Watching Doncic and Harden go toe-to-toe at Barclays Center on Saturday was like the viral meme of two Spidermen pointing at one another. Doncic finished with 27 points, seven assists and the victory, while Harden recorded 29 points and six assists in a superstar showdown that substantiated the similarities between the two offensive masterminds. - NY Daily News


Toronto Raptors star Pascal Siakam is expected to remain in the league's health and safety protocol through the All-Star break, missing the final three games of the first half, sources told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. Siakam sat out Friday's victory over Houston in the protocol. -

Despite leading the Atlanta Hawks by eight points going into the halftime break Friday night, the Oklahoma City Thunder made a drastic second-half adjustment: They completely changed uniforms. Because of a breakdown in the uniform selection and approval process, the Thunder and Hawks played the first half wearing extremely similar colors, the Hawks in their red "icon" uniforms and the Thunder in their orange "statement" alternates. On television, the combination was especially bad. -

Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green set a career high with 19 assists in racking up a triple-double during a 130-121 win over the Charlotte Hornets on Friday night. That the win came against the same team that beat the Warriors less than a week ago, on a night when Green got ejected in the final seconds and apologized to his teammates after the game for his actions, made the whole performance a little sweeter for the veteran leader. "A revenge game would be a bit of a stretch," Green said. "I would say it's just me coming out and making it right. Trying to do whatever I can to help this team get a win. Can't just forget about what happened last week, so I wouldn't call it a revenge game." -


After a routine follow-up MRI on his left hamstring, it was determined that Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant will require an additional recovery period that will result in him remaining out through the NBA All-Star break. Per the team, “the latest images provided a clearer picture of the hamstring and while we are confident that Durant will return at full strength, this extra recovery time will allow him to perform at the level at which he has been playing this season once he returns.” - Inside Hoops

The Raptors will be without a majority of their coaching staff, including head coach Nick Nurse, for Friday night’s game against the Houston Rockets. The team announced Nurse and five unnamed members of his staff will not be on the bench for the game in Tampa and “will continue to work remotely, and details on their return will be communicated when appropriate.” - Toronto Star

Under Rob Pelinka, former Golden State Warriors have found a way of landing in the Lakers’ laps. The latest is Damian Jones, a 6-foot-11 center who signed a 10-day contract with the Lakers on Friday morning, the team announced. He’s expected shore up the big man depth that has been frustratingly thin since Anthony Davis has been out with injury. Jones, 25, is in his fifth year out of Vanderbilt, and three of those seasons were spent with Golden State including the 2017 and 2018 championships. Most recently, Jones was with the Phoenix Suns who waived him on Wednesday after he failed to crack the rotation: For the season, he’s played in just 14 games for a total of 94 minutes. He’s scored 22 total points and committed 19 fouls. - OC Register

Victory makes everything better, and with the Nets rolling along as the hottest team in the NBA, there are nothing but smiles in Brooklyn. And after pounding the Magic 129-92 for their eighth straight victory, the longest winning streak in the NBA this season, there were Cheshire cat grins. “Our energy and our connectivity has been outstanding and we’re getting better in that department every week. You can feel it and see it,” coach Steve Nash said. “A big part of it is our group’s bonding. They’re growing together. “They’re starting to feel success and roles are shoring up and you can sense it out there that they are having more fun, that they are connected offensively and defensively, that they have a lot more poise together.” - NY Post

Derrick Rose took advantage of his season’s first start at point guard on the first possession. Rose started the Knicks’ 140-point outburst by ripping to the basket and converting a lefty runner off the glass. The Knicks never stopped scoring in the first game Elfrid Payton has missed this season. - NY Post

Minnesota Timberwolves guard Malik Beasley has been suspended for 12 games without pay in the wake of pleading guilty to a felony count of threats of violence as a result of an incident in September, the NBA said Thursday. "As an organization, we fully support today's decision by the NBA," Timberwolves president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas said in a statement issued shortly after the suspension was announced. "As we work together with Malik to advance his development as a player and a person, we look forward to seeing his growth." -

Bronny James suffered a torn meniscus in his knee at a practice earlier this month and had surgery to repair it, sources confirmed to ESPN on Thursday. James, the son of the Los Angeles Lakers' LeBron James, told followers on Twitch this week that he had suffered a knee injury. James is a sophomore at Sierra Canyon School, which hasn't played any official games this season due to the COVID-19 pandemic but has plans to play a spring basketball season. -


More than a month later, the Jazz are still rolling. They've won 21 of the past 23 games -- 19 by double digits -- entering Wednesday's meeting with the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers (10 p.m. ET on ESPN). Utah has the NBA's best record at 25-6 and is the lone team in the league to rank in the top five in both offensive and defensive efficiency. But are the Jazz a real threat to beat one (or both) of the L.A. teams in the playoffs? Kerr's answer was quite affirmative, if not representative of a consensus opinion around the league, and he wasn't the only coach to compare the Jazz to a recent championship squad. Brad Stevens, just before his Boston Celtics lost by 14 in Utah on Feb. 9, said the Jazz were the "closest team to the '14 Spurs" that he has seen in regard to smarts and unselfishness manifesting in brilliant ball movement. -

The international experience and worldly perspective of newly hired Minnesota Timberwolves coach Chris Finch were what intrigued president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas. During Monday's introductory news conference, Rosas welcomed the former Toronto Raptors assistant to try to turn things around after firing Ryan Saunders following Sunday's loss to the Knicks in New York. "The things that he's done coaching all around the world at different levels, those experiences, I think, are very relevant to our current game," Rosas said. "We play a very international game in the NBA, and the experience that Chris has, the perspective that he has, the time that he's been a head coach outside of the NBA, an assistant in the NBA as well, I think those perspectives, those expertise are really important for our organization on both sides of the floor." -

Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green admitted that he was "wrong" for getting ejected late in Saturday's 102-100 loss to the Charlotte Hornets and acknowledged that he felt worse about this episode than he did about getting suspended for Game 5 of the 2016 Finals. "I can admit my faults and when I'm wrong," Green said during Monday video conference with reporters. "And I was wrong. And I have to do what I have to do to make that up to my teammates ... and like I told the guys, I appreciate the support of me, but that action does not warrant support." -

Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry went through all of Monday's practice and is expected to play Tuesday after sitting out Saturday's game because of an illness. "He's feeling better today," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said during a video conference with reporters after Monday's practice. "He went through practice, participated fully, so we anticipate he'll play [Tuesday]." -


The Minnesota Timberwolves hired Toronto Raptors assistant Chris Finch as the franchise's new coach Monday. Timberwolves president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas fired Ryan Saunders on Sunday, clearing the way for Minnesota to eschew an interim coach and move quickly toward hiring a full-time replacement. -

Rosas informed Saunders of the decision after a 103-99 loss at the New York Knicks that left the Timberwolves at 7-24, the worst record in the NBA. Rosas kept Saunders as his head coach after getting hired in May 2019, a process that included interviewing Finch for the job. Rosas and Finch have history going back to their days together in the Houston Rockets organization.


Is there a legitimate trade market for forward Thad Young, and do the Bulls want to even dabble in it? Extend Zach LaVine, wait or is there a blockbuster deal that will change the direction of the organization? Forget selling; do the Bulls chase down the March 25 trade deadline as buyers? All fair discussions that have to be on the table sooner or later for executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas and general manager Marc Eversley. They might have to make their biggest decisions since hiring Billy Donovan as coach. - Sun Times

Zach LaVine was not among the starters revealed for the All-Star Game last week, but he has made a compelling case to be selected among the reserves in the Eastern Conference. LaVine will have to rely on the coaches vote, which will be revealed Tuesday. LaVine’s excellence helped the Bulls take care of business against the short-handed Kings, who have lost six in a row. The Bulls led by as many as 14 in the first half. - Chicago Tribune

Wesley Matthews pounded the padding on the table underneath the basket where the Lakers needed just one more shot to fall. Alex Caruso, the player who could’ve sent the game into overtime and didn’t, put his hands to his head in disbelief. And LeBron James, the player the Lakers are leaning on most to help them navigate this stretch of schedule, walked off the Staples Center court. Despite claims from their coach that the Lakers have enough to win without Anthony Davis and Dennis Schroder, L.A. lost for the second straight time without them Saturday, this time coming up short against the struggling Miami Heat 96-94. - LA Times

Lakers coach Frank Vogel said Saturday afternoon that point guard Dennis Schroder will miss at least four total games due to COVID-19 protocols, including upcoming games against the Washington Wizards on Monday and Utah Jazz on Wednesday. ESPN reported that Schröder is being quarantined after a possible COVID-19 exposure but has tested negative so far – under NBA protocols, Schröder needs to return seven negative tests in a row. In addition to the calf strain that will keep All-Star big man Anthony Davis out beyond the All-Star break, the Lakers find themselves without two key starters and the team’s second- and third-leading scorers, as well as the second- and third-leading assist men. Davis and Schröder average 36.7 points, 12 rebounds and 7.3 assists combined this season. - OC Register

On one of the most bizarre game nights in Charlotte Hornets history, Steph Curry started the game with a walk-off and Terry Rozier ended it with another one. Curry didn’t play a single second. He doesn’t have COVID-19, according to the Golden State Warriors. But the sharpshooter from Charlotte felt poorly just before game time and left the court, never to return. “Going through his usual warmup routine, he did not feel well at all,” said Kerr, who didn’t rule out Curry for Golden State’s next game Tuesday. “There were no (COVID-related) protocols in place. He was just feeling sick.” - Charlotte Observer

As Gregg Popovich prepares to steer the San Antonio Spurs through a COVID-19 interruption of their own this week, Brooks knows more than most what he is in for. The Spurs last played Feb. 14, ringing up a 122-110 victory in Charlotte to improve to 2-0 on their now-abandoned rodeo trip. After that outing, four unidentified players tested positive for coronavirus, leading the NBA to postpone the Spurs’ next four games. - Express News


Kevin Durant will miss his fourth consecutive game Sunday, sitting out against the Los Angeles Clippers as he continues to get treatment on a strained left hamstring. Brooklyn Nets coach Steve Nash said on Saturday that the plan was for Durant to continue to do strengthening exercises while being monitored for any inflammation. Nash said that he thought Durant would also get some light on-court work in at practice. --

The LA Clippers had Kawhi Leonard and Paul George back in the lineup Friday, and the timing could not have been any better. The surging Utah Jazz, winners of 20 of their previous 21 games, including an 18-point win over the Clippers on Wednesday, were back in Staples Center for a second straight game. And the Clippers wanted to show where they stood against the top team in the West standings. Leonard scored 29 points and came up with two big offensive rebounds in the final minute to help the Clippers hold off the Jazz, 116-112, and snap Utah's nine-game winning streak. -


Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James and Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant were named the captains for next month's NBA All-Star Game on Thursday night. James and Durant will pick their respective teams from the remaining 22 All-Stars on March 4 after getting the most votes of any player in either conference. The All-Star Game -- which the NBA earlier Thursday officially announced would take place this season -- will be played March 7 in Atlanta. -

The players joining them in the frontcourt from both conferences went as expected, with Durant being joined by Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo and Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid in the starting pool for the East, while James was joined by LA Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard and Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic in the West. -

Los Angeles Lakers star forward Anthony Davis had his injuries reevaluated by team doctors Thursday night and will be out four weeks, head coach Frank Vogel said. Sources had told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski earlier this week that Davis would be reevaluated in two to three weeks after suffering a calf strain and aggravating the Achilles tendinosis in his right leg Sunday and would be unlikely to return to the lineup before the NBA's March 5-10 All-Star break. -

LeBron James is another milestone higher on his climb up the NBA's all-time scoring list. In the first half of Thursday's game between the Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets, James became the third player in league history to reach 35,000 points, joining Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Karl Malone. -


Beal was named an all-star starter for the first time in his career Thursday, becoming the first Wizards player to earn a starting nod since John Wall in 2015. Beal will make his third career all-star appearance when the league holds the showcase in Atlanta on March 7 — he was named as a reserve in 2018 and 2019, one of seven players from each conference as voted by coaches, before being left out completely in 2020. He joins Brooklyn’s Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo and Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid as starters from the Eastern Conference. Durant will serve as a team captain and pick his squad during the all-star draft March 4. The Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James, Denver’s Nikola Jokic, Los Angeles Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard, Golden State’s Stephen Curry and Dallas’s Luka Doncic are the starters from the Western Conference, with James serving as the other team captain. - Washington Post


There is the ongoing debate about the wisdom of holding even a scaled-down version of the event in Atlanta amid the coronavirus pandemic, which continues to disrupt the regular-season schedule. There is also the traditional wrangling over who should claim the 12 All-Star spots in each conference — as spirited and layered as ever in a season marked by game postponements, mostly empty arenas and more parity than usual in the standings. Fan balloting ends Tuesday at midnight, Eastern time. All-Star starters will be revealed Thursday night on TNT, with the reserves, as selected by the league’s coaches, to be announced next Tuesday. - NY Times

Over the past month, the Pelicans are a hair away from ranking first in the NBA in offensive efficiency. On the season, they have vaulted all the way to seventh in points scored per 100 possessions. Putting the ball in Zion Williamson’s hands and giving him the freedom to create has made them more dynamic than almost anyone imagined they could be. “I was always trained to be a point guard,” Williamson said. "A point guard can’t get rattled. You always have to make the best play and find the best option. It just goes back to that." - Times Picayune

Steve Nash has countless great memories from a Hall of Fame playing in Phoenix. Now he has the first great one of his coaching career. Facing the Suns for the first time as a head coach, Nash saw his shorthanded Nets turn a huge deficit into an even bigger rally, pulling out a 128-124 victory before a stunned crowd of 3,181 at Phoenix Suns Arena. With their Big Three reduced to a Big One — Kevin Durant (hamstring strain) and Kyrie Irving (tight back) both out — the Nets fell behind by 24 in the second quarter and trailed 124-116 with just 2:22 left. But behind James Harden and some clutch defense, they closed the game with a 12 straight points to pull out the unlikeliest of wins. - NY Post


Six-time NBA All-Star forward Blake Griffin and the Detroit Pistons have agreed that he will be out of the lineup until the franchise and his representatives work through a resolution on his playing future, Pistons general manager Troy Weaver told ESPN. The Pistons will continue to pursue trade scenarios involving Griffin, and talks on a contract buyout with his agent, Sam Goldfeder of Excel Sports, could eventually come into focus. -

Finding a trade for Griffin -- who's owed a remaining $36.6 million this season, and $39 million in 2021-22 -- will be a challenge, but the team will continue to seek a deal until the March 25 trade deadline, sources said.


The Cleveland Cavaliers are no longer planning to play Andre Drummond as they work to trade the two-time All-Star center before the NBA's March 25 deadline, sources told ESPN. The Cavaliers are moving to make Jarrett Allen the franchise's long-term starting center and believe it's unfair to Drummond to limit his minutes as the organization transitions to Allen, sources said. Cavaliers general manager Koby Altman discussed the move with Drummond and his agent, Jeff Schwartz of Excel Sports, and decided together that Drummond would remain with the team but would no longer be active for games, sources said. -

Anthony Davis is hurt. It’s his right Achilles tendon. And until he receives an MRI in Minnesota on Monday, it’s impossible to know how serious it is. “All I care about is his health. I want him to be healthy. Our team needs him to be healthy,” LeBron James said. “No rush. No timetable. We have no idea from that aspect. We just want him to be healthy and get back to full strength.” Davis had missed two games last week with Achilles tendonosis, an injury that he said had more to do with what covered the Achilles tendon than the tendon itself. He returned and played well against Memphis on Friday before leaving the game in the final minutes with some soreness. - LA Times

Davis, 27, was listed as questionable before the game but nevertheless started, with the Lakers looking to extend their seven-game winning streak. "I think [Sunday] was the first day where it felt completely fine," Davis said. "Didn't feel it at all this morning, afternoon, pregame, anything." That changed when Davis drove on Nikola Jokic late in the second quarter and bumped legs with the Nuggets center. Jokic's right knee made contact with Davis' right quad. When Davis gathered his dribble after the foul was called and planted his foot, he appeared to aggravate his lower right leg. He clutched his leg below his calf after the play was whistled dead. -

The Raptors didn’t show up for parts of Sunday’s game against Minnesota, the league’s cellar dwellers, and couldn’t even take advantage of officiating that gave them all kinds of leeway and good favour down the stretch. Pascal Siakam got a great look, again, but somehow it didn’t fall, leaving him completely stunned. It was the third time this season potential game-winners that looked far more likely to go in than otherwise failed to do so. This one was probably the most baffling of those misses. - Toronto Sun


The Utah Jazz beat the Miami Heat 112-94 on the second night of a back-to-back at Vivint Arena on Saturday for their seventh consecutive victory. Bojan Bogdanovic deserves a ton of credit for getting the Jazz going with an interior game. The Jazz were totally unable to get anything going from the 3-point line in the first half, but a lot of the penetrations and attacking action from Bogdanovic gave them relief early on. He had 13 of his 19 points in the first half and all 13 came from inside or at the free throw line. - Deseret News

As the Brooklyn Nets 'big three' of Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving continue to work on building their on-court chemistry, Irving and Harden had a brief conversation at practice this week to clarify their roles. "We established that maybe four days ago now," Irving said after the Nets' 134-117 win over the Golden State Warriors on Saturday. "I just looked at him, and I said, 'You're the point guard, and I'm going to play shooting guard.' That was as simple as that." Irving described the conversation as concise and matter-of-fact. "It's not a mystical conversation that we had," Irving said. -

The fourth quarter continues to haunt the Hawks, who have just a 9-7 record when leading after the third quarter. The Hawks trailed by as much as 10 points in the first half but took a three-point lead into the fourth quarter after outsourcing the Pacers 29-22 and putting together a strong third. Then, everything went haywire. Aaron Holiday got hot with 13 points and the Pacers (14-13) went 12-for-17 from the floor (70.6%), 4-for-6 from 3-point range and 13-for-16 from the line, pouring on 41 points as the Hawks couldn’t get stops and missed open shots. -

LeBron James and Kyle Kuzma both received warnings for violating the NBA's anti-flopping rule in the Los Angeles Lakers' 115-105 home win over the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday, the league announced. The NBA said Saturday that James' violation occurred with 2 minutes, 33 seconds remaining in the second quarter when James, positioned between Dillon Brooks and Grayson Allen of the Grizzlies, fell to the floor while vying for a rebound. -

NBA legend Bill Russell turned 87 on Friday -- and celebrated by blowing out a "small forest fire" on his birthday cake ... and the video is great! The Hall of Famer -- who won 11 championships during his NBA career (eat your heart out Tom Brady!) -- had Shawn Kemp Jr. on standby with a fire extinguisher in case things got out of control ... but in the end, Bill handled it on his own! -


The Washington Wizards will soldier on without their leading scorer for the second time this season when Bradley Beal sits out Friday’s game against the Knicks for rest. Beal, who leads the league with 32.8 points per game and leads the Wizards with 35.3 minutes per game, will miss his first contest in more than a month. He missed Washington’s 128-124 loss to Miami on Jan. 9 because of the league’s coronavirus protocols, but the guard has not missed a game for rest all season. -- Washington Post

The team’s outbreak, which helped spur the N.B.A. to tighten restrictions on players’ social activities, came amid a surge of cases for the league and underscored the fragile dynamics of the 2020-21 season. Even as the numbers of cases and postponements have dipped dramatically — the league has reported two new cases since Jan. 20, a sharp reduction from the 27 reported over the prior two weeks — teams continue to crisscross a country gripped by a pandemic. The N.H.L. is now coping with similar challenges. The Devils on Monday announced that 19 players were absent from the team because they had entered the league’s coronavirus protocols. In a series of interviews, several members of the Wizards organization shared their firsthand view of how quickly things can come unglued. - NY Times

The team provided more insight into the severity of the knee issues Wednesday, announcing that Jahlil Okafor underwent a surgical procedure to clean the lateral meniscus in his left knee. He’s expected to miss six to eight weeks as he recovers. - Detroit News

Mark Cuban’s experiment lasted more than one month, but the NBA has politely asked him to wrap it up now that he had his fun, and obtained the results. At Cuban’s decision, the Mavs became the first major North American sports team to skip a tradition that started nearly 100 years ago. We were so collectively outraged, and the media that covered the 13 home games thus far so observant (guilty as charged), that this crisis lasted for about 55 days before anyone noticed. - Star Telegram


Kyrie Irving returned from his one-game absence wearing tape on his injured right index finger. He was effective — but hardly efficient and nowhere near pain-free. “It sucks, man,” Irving said of the injury after Tuesday’s 122-111 loss in Detroit. “Just shooting very well on the season, want to continue. So, you just have different hiccups that happen, especially on my shooting hand. “It’s uncomfortable, but at the same time I don’t want to make any excuses. I’m out there, put myself out there, do a lot of treatment on it and we’re down a few players obviously, as well, so you just want to go out there and compete and worry about the pain later. But doing the best I can.” - NY Post

Iman Shumpert is expected to miss time with a hamstring injury. “I think one of his early workouts he did something to it, and it’s going to take a little bit of time here,” Nash said. “I don’t know if I have a date for you, but a week or two is fair to say. We’ll just monitor the situation.” - NY Post

Mark Cuban, the owner of the Dallas Mavericks, said Tuesday night that he had instructed the team to stop playing the national anthem before its home games this season. “It was my decision, and I made it in November,” Cuban said. He declined to comment further. The Mavericks did not announce the new policy, but Cuban was allowed to enact it because the N.B.A. has permitted teams “to run their pregame operations as they see fit” because of “the unique circumstances this season,” according to a league spokesman. - NY Times

Nearly two-thirds of the league’s 30 teams are still not admitting fans to home games, as the N.B.A. grapples with the complexities of trying to stage a 72-game season in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. - NY Times


A judge in Minnesota on Tuesday sentenced Timberwolves guard Malik Beasley to 120 days in jail to be served after the NBA season after he pleaded guilty to one felony count of threats of violence. Beasley's attorney, Steven Haney, told ESPN that Beasley will be part of a work release program and could potentially serve the sentence through home confinement. The felony charge might be reduced to a misdemeanor at the end of his probation, according to Haney. Under a plea deal, prosecutors agreed to drop felony drug charges against Beasley. -


The New York Knicks have reached agreement on a trade to acquire Detroit Pistons guard Derrick Rose and reunite him with coach Tom Thibodeau, sources told ESPN on Sunday. The Knicks are sending guard Dennis Smith Jr. and a 2021 second-round draft pick via the Charlotte Hornets to Detroit, sources said. -

Lakers All-Star big man Anthony Davis is listed as questionable for Monday's game against the Oklahoma City Thunder with tendonosis of his right Achilles tendon, the team announced. A league source told ESPN it is "very likely" Davis will miss the Thunder game as a precaution and that Davis, 27, has been managing the discomfort "for a while." -


The NBA's most high-profile star, LeBron James, ripped the league's plans to hold an All-Star Game in Atlanta in March while COVID-19 restrictions continue to have a grip on the regular season. "I have zero energy and zero excitement about an All-Star Game this year," James said after the Los Angeles Lakers' 114-93 win over the Denver Nuggets on Thursday. "I don't even understand why we're having an All-Star Game." -

"Short offseason for myself and my teammates, 71 days," James said, referring to the time the Lakers had from Game 6 of the NBA Finals in October to opening night against the LA Clippers in December. "And then coming into this season, we were told that we were not having an All-Star Game, so we'd have a nice little break. Five days [in March] from the fifth through the 10th, an opportunity for me to kind of recalibrate for the second half of the season. My teammates as well. Some of the guys in the league. "And then they throw an All-Star Game on us like this and just breaks that all the way up. So, um, pretty much kind of a slap in the face." -

The game was originally scheduled to be played in Indianapolis, but All-Star weekend was cancelled because of the pandemic before the season began. Indianapolis will now host the event in 2024. There’s been no formal announcement about a 2021 game from the league or the NBPA, the union that represents the league’s players. - LA Times

The game and skills competitions will be held on Sunday, March 7, the NBA told clubs in a memo, a copy of which was obtained by the AP. It remains unclear when players would have to report to Atlanta and how testing will work there, or if fans will be allowed in for the game. -

The first-half schedule ends March 4, with the second half set to begin on March 11. The league said it expects to agree to terms with the National Basketball Players Association on testing protocols that will apply to all players during the break, how testing will work for the All-Star event, and when players will have to report back to their home markets to begin preparations for the second-half schedule. -


The Knicks prevailed, 107-103, and Randle played like Captain Randle — the type of game that was better than the box score. And the box score was real good — 27 points, six assists, six rebounds, 5-for-7 on 3-pointers. Randle’s 3-point shooting has been otherworldly this season. He posted a frigid 27.7 rate from downtown in 2019-20. He’s shooting 38 percent from 3 now. “Honestly, it just wasn’t a great season shooting the ball from 3 last year,’’ Randle said. “It’s something I got in the lab and tightened things up. Repetitions and confidence, man. My mental approach is completely different. I have unlimited confidence in it.’’ - NY Post

Bradley Beal has at least 25 points in each of his 17 games this season, breaking Michael Jordan’s record for the longest such streak to start a season since the NBA and ABA merged in 1976. “It's pretty cool. That's a remarkable achievement,” Beal said. “It's not something you always shoot for, but it's amazing to see all the stats that we come up with in our game, and it's — too pass him, it's always a great feeling. It's something you kind of put in your accolades, but at the same time, it felt even better getting it in a win. It was a milestone in a lot of fashions tonight, so I was happy.” - Washington Post

D'Angelo Russell seems to know that, and said as much when asked to explain his thought process late in the game when he took more shots instead of trying to set up teammates. "I feel like throughout the game I'm being less aggressive, trying to get guys involved, get guys confidence and a rhythm going for them," Russell said. "Toward the end of the game I try to be more aggressive so win or lose I'll take that. I'll take that fault win or lose with me being aggressive at the end of the game." When Karl-Anthony Towns returns the dynamics of late-game situations will change for the Wolves, but it was hard not to notice that two of the Wolves' most effective scorers didn't get much of a chance with Russell trying to win the game each possession. - Minneapolis Star Tribune

De'Aaron Fox finished with 26 points and 11 assists for the Kings (10-11), who have won five of their last six games. Fox had 13 points in the fourth quarter, delivering another clutch performance for the Kings. “He was huge in that fourth quarter again,” Kings coach Luke Walton said. “Every time we needed a big time bucket, he created something for us.” Harrison Barnes had 24 points, six assists and five rebounds for Sacramento. Rookie Tyrese Haliburton came off the bench to score a career-high 21 points. Buddy Hield added 15 points and 11 rebounds. - Sacramento Bee

Kings forward Nemanja Bjelica was cleared to return after missing a couple of games due to back spasms, but he does not appear to be in Walton’s immediate plans. Bjelica has not appeared in a game since Jan. 9. His 11-game absence was first described as a coach’s decisions and then attributed to personal reasons before he began to experience back spasms last week. League sources told The Sacramento Bee the Kings have explored trade possibilities involving Bjelica and will continue to work through their options leading up to the March 25 trade deadline. - Sacramento Bee


The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association are progressing toward an agreement for an All-Star Game on March 7 at State Farm Arena in Atlanta, a single-night event that encompasses a game between the Eastern and Western Conferences and skills competitions, sources told ESPN. While a formal agreement has yet to be finalized, the NBA and NBPA have been working through the details of a scaled-down event that centers on transporting players in and out of Atlanta in a significantly shorter window of time than what would be required on a typical All-Star weekend, sources said. Safety protocols are among the details still being ironed out. -

The NBA has a midseason break set for March 5-10. The league is pursuing a truncated 72-game regular-season schedule, which includes a second-half schedule that has yet to be announced. NBPA president Chris Paul has been an advocate of the Atlanta All-Star Game idea, including a plan to use the game to benefit historically black colleges and universities and COVID-19 relief, sources said. -

Four courtside fans -- at least one of whom was not covering her face with a mask -- were ejected from Monday's game between the Los Angeles Lakers and Atlanta Hawks following a verbal spat with Lakers star LeBron James, the Hawks confirmed to ESPN. Juliana Carlos, who later posted on social media, and her husband, Chris Carlos, exchanged words with James in the fourth quarter of the visiting Lakers' 107-99 win, prompting the ejection. -

Team USA will open Olympic play with a rematch against France, the opponent that ended its 58-game winning streak at the 2019 World Cup. The draw for the 12-team tournament was held in Switzerland on Tuesday with the Americans being put into a group with France, Iran and the team that qualifies from a tournament to be played in Canada later this year. -


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