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Scuffling Pelicans fail late against Mavericks, lose 5th consecutive game

DALLAS — Luka Doncic scored 21 points, including the tiebreaking free throws with 30 seconds left, and the Dallas Mavericks ended a six-game losing streak with a 122-119 victory against the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday night.

The 19-year-old rookie made 11 of 12 free throws, including the last three points of the game in the final half-minute. He missed one of two after rebounding a miss on a 3-pointer Wholesale jerseys
from Anthony Davis, who had 32 points and 18 rebounds in the fifth consecutive loss for the Pelicans.

Davis missed another 3 with a chance to tie in the final seconds, and Doncic got the rebound again to finish one rebound shy of a triple-double. The Slovenian had 10 assists in the first of two straight games between these teams.

DeAndre Jordan had 20 points on 7-of-7 shooting and 12 rebounds for his 22nd double-double.

The backup guard duo of J.J. Barea and Devin Harris carried the Mavericks through most of the fourth quarter. Barea had 11 of his 18 in the final quarter, including 3-of-3 shooting on 3-pointers, and Harris scored 10 of his 16 in the fourth.

New Orleans Pelicans

Jrue Holiday scored 25 points, and Julius Randle had 23 points, including 11-of-13 shooting on free throws, against his hometown team.

The Mavericks ended a streak of five straight games of allowing at least 120 points while ending a losing skid that had matched their season high.

Maxi Kleber had a career-high six blocks as the Mavericks finished with a season-high 13. Kleber had 10 points. Harrison Barnes scored 16.

Season-high for Dirk
Dirk Nowitzki scored a season-high seven points while playing in the second half for the second time in his six games. The 40-year-old hit a 3 late in the third quarter to top his previous high of three points.

Nowitzki is in his 21st season with one team, an NBA record. The 13-time All-Star missed the first 26 games with a longer-than-expected recovery from left ankle surgery in April. He became the sixth NBA player with 900 career wins, after the Mavericks lost his first five games.

Rare double-double
Teams playing two games in a row against each other, as the Mavericks and Pelicans will do, isn’t that unusual. Consecutive sets of such games are a little strange, though. Dallas will do that with two straight against Oklahoma City on back-to-back nights Sunday and Monday.

Tip-ins
Pelicans: The other double-figure scorer was Frank Jackson with 10. … Tim Frazier had nine points and seven assists.

Mavericks: Nowitzki passed Karl Malone for fourth on the career list of games played at 1,477. Nowitzki has a chance to catch John Stockton (1,504) for third. Malone and Stockton spent 18 seasons together in Utah.

Up next
The teams play again Friday in New Orleans.

Pelicans guard Elfrid Payton returns to practice

Riding a five-game skid, the New Orleans Pelicans received a bit of good news Thursday as guard Elfrid Payton returned to practice.

“I practiced a good little bit,” Payton said. “(I) was only limited on a few things. So, we are getting close.”

The first-year Pelican and former Ehret and Louisiana-Lafayette cheap nba jerseys china
star has been out since Nov. 16 with a broken left hand and is eager to return to the lineup.

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New Orleans is ready to have him back as well.

“We were a different team with him on the floor,” said Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry. “So, hopefully, that’s going to be the case when he gets back.”

The Pelicans are 5-1 with Payton in the starting lineup. That lose came when Payton injured his ankle against the Utah Jazz Oct. 27. He returned for the Nov. 16 matchup against the Knicks where he suffered his current injury. The Pelicans have gone 6-13 since then.
Payton’s teammates are eager to see him on the floor again as well.

“We get our point guard back,” Anthony Davis said. “Another guy who can get in the paint, finish, find guys and kind of run the seam.”

Payton said he doesn’t have an exact date for his planned return but said it should be “soon though.”

New Orleans Pelicans run into fourth quarter problems again as Luka Doncic and Dallas Mavericks prevail, 122-119

The New Orleans Pelicans led for a good deal of a second half, got overtaken in a fourth quarter and then watched an opponent make more positive plays during the final few minutes of a game. Tonight’s result: a 122-119 loss to the Dallas Mavericks.

“It’s kind of a duplicate of what we’ve been going through where we play good basketball and now we have all kinds of trouble closing games,” said Alvin Gentry after the defeat. “{We} have a couple of defensive mishaps, but then when you really, really need to make a shot, we didn’t make them and they did.”

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Over the final three minutes, Darius Miller missed a three, Cheap New Orleans Pelicans jersey Julius Randle missed a twelve-footer and then seconds later was called for a — you guessed it — an offensive foul, and Anthony Davis missed a couple of three-point attempts, including this potential go-ahead score with 19.3 second remaining.
I know Anthony Davis was hot, and he was carrying the team nicely for much of the critical part of the fourth quarter, but that’s not a good shot. He’s never been reliable from three-point range so it’s a shame New Orleans couldn’t get him the ball closer to the rim — where he was torching the defense of Dallas — and also a few more times preceding this play.

“Well, he had played well,” Gentry on being asked about the performance of Davis. “I thought we should have gotten him the ball a few more times. We were just a little impatient. I thought he had such an advantage that he had taken advantage of it the last two times down the floor. We’ve got to get him the ball in those situations.”

You know who didn’t have a problem getting the ball whenever and wherever he wanted?

Luka Doncic.

This kid is sooooo the real deal. The 19-year-old missed registering a triple-double by one rebound (21 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds), and he carried Dallas to the finish line (although J.J. Barea proved to be a prickly thorn in all sides again). The rookie’s grit and savvy is that of a veteran, as evidenced by drawing a charge on Davis in the third quarter, but getting to the free throw line with 30 second remaining in a tie game is big time. Down the stretch he sank three of four free throws which proved the difference in the game. Aren’t you jealous of Mark Cuban’s good fortune too?

Overall, the big three for the Pelicans played well for the most part. Anthony Davis finished with a line of 32 points and 18 rebounds, Jrue Holiday wound up with 25 points, six assists and five rebounds and Julius Randle poured in 23. The only other New Orleans member to hit double digits was Frank Jackson with 10, which included a couple of threes, an acrobatic reverse lay-in and a hard slam dunk.

Surprise! Clippers and Sacramento Kings meet as two of the West’s better teams

Despite personal preseason predictions such as Tobias Harris’ — “Our expectation,” he said in September, “is to be in the playoffs,” — the Clippers have proved to be one of the NBA’s biggest surprises.

At 19-14, they’re more than halfway to the oddsmakers’ forecast of 35 to 36 victories. They’re hovering among the West’s top eight teams, despite ESPN’s projection they’d finish 11th, and +400 odds that they’d make the playoffs and -600 odds that they wouldn’t, per Bovada.
But the Clippers are not the surprise of the season so far.

That distinction belongs to the 18-15 Sacramento Kings, who visit the Clippers on Wednesday at Staples Center.

Even less was expected of the Kings, whom oddsmakers determined were least likely to make the playoffs. One of the least experienced teams in the NBA, 11 of 17 players on Sacramento’s roster are playing, at most, their third NBA season. General manager Vlade Divac described the squad as a “super team, just young” as they entered what was expected to be a season of growth, not necessarily contention.

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But here both teams are, within 3 ½ and 4 ½ games of the teams atop the standings, in the thick of the action in the wild Western Conference, cheap la clippers jersey
as they prepare to meet for the second time this season.

The first time in Sacramento, the Clippers had to work hard for a 133-121 victory, then their ninth win in 10 games.

They’d build a lead and the Kings would chop it down, thanks in part to a career-high 26 points from Bogdan Bogdanovic and Marvin Bagley III’s 18 points and 10 rebounds.

Afterward, Clippers Coach Doc Rivers complimented the upstarts from Northern California.

“(Kings coach Dave Joerger) has done a hell of a job,” Rivers told reporters at that Nov. 29 game. “They play at a pace, he’s got them all believing in that pace. He plays the 10 guys, they’re running up and down the floor … they don’t stop. I really enjoyed watching them play.”

FLEXING NOT ALLOWED
During his team’s narrow defeat at Golden State on Sunday, guard Patrick Beverley appeared to take exception as Warriors superstar Steph Curry appeared to be preparing to flex his biceps after coming down with an offensive rebound amidst a crowd of Clippers.

Replays showed Beverley batting the ball out of Curry’s hands and the two exchanging thoughts.

Clippers Call up Johnathan Motley from G-League Once More

The Clippers announced around an hour ago that they are recalling Johnathan Motley from Agua Caliente to join the team in LA tonight for their game against the Kings.

Motley is on a two-way deal, but has not yet played for the LA Clippers this season. Interestingly enough, he was called up nearly a month ago by the Clippers, also against the Kings, but didn’t see any action. Two-way players getting called up and not seeing playing time seems a bit like a waste of one of their 45 days, but the Clippers, not nearly as ravaged by injuries as last season, can be a bit more extravagant with throwing them away.

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Motley has continued his torching of the G-League, as he’s averaging 26 points, 11.1 rebounds, and 2.9 assists in 35.8 minutes per game. Johnathan is shooting a tidy 56% cheap nba jerseys china
from the field, though he’s a mere 28% from deep on 3.1 attempts per contest. However, his efficiency is buoyed by his getting to the line 7.8 times per game, and converting on 73.6% of his chances.

While he’s not overly large or athletic, at 6’10”, he’s a taller, longer body than Montrezl Harrell, and due to his youth possesses greater quickness and superior leaping ability to Marcin Gortat or Boban Marjanovic. For weeks now, as Gortat and Boban have struggled, it’s made sense to give Motley a shot in the NBA. He might not be the Clippers’ answer at center, but there’s no harm in trying him out. Hopefully he actually gets some minutes tonight.

Curry leads Warriors with 42 points in Christmas tune-up

OAKLAND, Calif. — Golden State Warriors superstar Stephen Curry has been so good for so long that he and his teammates and coaches have gotten used to him scoring 40 points during a game — it’s a regular occurrence. The group doesn’t take it for granted. But after dropping 42 points in a 129-127 win over the LA Clippers on Sunday night, Curry and his teammates took it all in stride.
It’s already the third time that the former MVP has reached the 40-point mark this season, and the 33rd time he has done it during his career in the regular season,cheap nba jerseys from china  according to ESPN Stats & Information. The fact the All-Star guard also laid in the winning basket with 0.5 seconds left in regulation surprised nobody inside a raucous Oracle Arena.

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“I knew we wanted to try and get a switch on the pick-and-roll and I had a lot of space,” Curry said. “We had shooters pretty much everywhere on the floor and I was able to get into the middle the paint — just a matter of being decisive, and just understanding I got an open lane, try to get to the basket and make a play. Draymond did a great job of sealing, I think it was Avery Bradley at the rim so that I could finish underneath Montrezl [Harrell’s] contest. There wasn’t any hesitation on that play, just knowing what you want to do and trying to execute.”
Kevin Durant, who poured in 35 points of his own, acknowledged that while he isn’t keeping track of how many buckets the duo accounts for during a game, he knew early on how teammate Curry was.

“You could tell that Steph was locked in on just the moment,” Durant said. “Usually when you do that, you have a really good game, especially when you’re at the level he’s on.”
The win marked the 14th straight victory Curry has had over the Clippers, five of which the Warriors had to overcome a double-digit deficit, including Sunday night. The Clippers led the Warriors 71-60 with 1:32 left in the first half. Curry did not play in a loss at Staples Center earlier this season while recovering from a groin injury.

NETS WORKOUT: Prospects not named Zion or RJ steal MSG spotlight

With Brooklyn’s win over the Phoenix Suns, the Nets now sit at 16-19, much closer to the eighth seed than the eighth overall pick in the draft.

You never know how the remaining 47 games will unfold … or the months following when draft day-related trades suddenly explode on Twitter, but at this point,cheap nba jerseys from china
the safe and sane assumption is that Brooklyn will be out of the running for Zion Williamson, RJ Barrett and possibly even Cam Reddish unless the lottery balls take an unexpected bounce.

But for a number of reasons, you can never say never.

The season could implode for a multitude of reasons;
The Nets could swing some sort of unforeseeable deal; of
They could actually luck into a top-3 lottery spot, now that the percentages are more balanced
You get the point. So, we’ll look at all NBA Prospects who played at the Ameritas Insurance Classic, where Duke defeated Texas Tech at Madison Square Garden, 69-58, on Thursday.

Brooklyn Nets

G/F, RJ Barrett, Duke
Barrett had his worst game under the brightest of bright lights against the number-12 team in the country at MSG. Jared Dudley, Jimmy Butler, Trae Young, Emmanuel Mudiay and Kevin Knox were among the NBA notables in attendance along with tons of scouts

Barrett shot 7-of-22 – though, he finished 4-of-7 after a 3-of-15 first half – ending a rough night with 16 points and six turnovers. Things got much better when he decided to (mostly) abandon settling for perimeter jumpshots and attack the basket to finish at the rim.

Legendary Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski discussed Barrett’s performance post-game in the presser, professing his admiration for the 6’7” Canadian swingman, but also sharing a critique.

“I love RJ. RJ’s big time,” offered Coach K of Barrett, who is averaging 23.8 points, 6.8 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game for the second-ranked team in the country. “There are just times where you’re not going to be able to score. He was missing some shots that he’d normally make and they were making him take some shots that were a lot more pressured.”

Coach K later elaborated on why that is, and what he told his 18-year-old prodigy at halftime.

“It’s a combination, but he had some open looks, but once he was missing, he was … I call it a ‘gunny sack’ or taking the misses with you where you know put pressure on yourself to score because you haven’t,” he said. “You can’t do that. And that’s what I talked to him about at halftime. We just said ‘everybody is 0-for-0. Just start off fresh. You’re not allowed to try and make up for missed shots.’ Because he’s so conscientious and knows what he needs to do. Then he made the adjustment with his pull-ups and made some big time plays. And that’s after it’s not going well. RJ’s big time.”

Despite his struggles versus Texas Tech’s solid defense, Barrett is still shooting nearly 47% from the floor, but his three-point percentage has dropped to 32%.

He still has time to redeem himself in conference play, which for Duke begins on January 5 against Clemson.

The game also marked Barrett’s seventh in New York City since 2017 – this was the first. As part of Montverde Academy, the same Florida-based prep school that produced former teammates D’Angelo Russell and Ben Simmons, Barrett has played at GEICO Nationals, formally Dick’s Nationals, in Christ the King High School in Middle Village, Queens.

Barrett dominated in 2017, averaging 25 points and nearly 10 rebounds, and powered his team to the championship as a senior this past spring, earning MVP honors and a national title.

DRAFT WATCH #1: Draft strength is Nets strength, too

Nets scouts —three of them, according to reports— were at the Murray State vs. Auburn game in Alabama Saturday, no doubt to take a look at Ja Morant, the 6’3” Murray guard who many think is the top point guard in the country.

He’s also the player most associated with the Nets in recent mock drafts. He’s a fast-riser who’s likely to jump again after he finished with 25 points, eight rebounds, and seven assists cheap nba jerseys in the Racers’ 93-88 loss to the seventh-ranked Tigers. (The Nets could also been been looking at Chuma Okeke, who some think would be ideal for the Nuggets pick later in the Draft. He’s a 6’8” forward from Auburn who had 17 and five in that game.)

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Here’s some highlights…
It’s hard —well nigh impossible, actually— to project where the Nets will pick in the June 20 draft. Right now, they are in the 10th spot, but are only one game out of the playoffs which would mean no lottery pick, no anxiety the night of May 14, the draft lottery.
This year’s draft is seen as generally week, but strong up top … with many of the best picks guards, the area where the Nets are strongest. Still, the Nets are in talent acquisition mode and will likely take the best players available, particularly up top.

Our usual caveats: The mocks listed below are in some cases pure mocks, in other cases more general top 100 lists. They were published over the past two weeks. Each is the latest compilation published by sites listed. We are a long way away, but, why not take a look at what the draftniks think this early.

A footnote now, Dzanan Musa still big part of Nets future 36

Dzanan Musa, the Nets first round pick, has become a bit of a footnote this season, after two injuries —one to his ankle, one to his shoulder— and the performance to his fellow rookie, Rodions Kurucs, but the 29th pick in the NBA Draft is still considered a big part of the Brooklyn organization’s future.

Sidelined for another month after partially separating his shoulder, the 6’9” swingman is frustrated as he told Brian Lewis before the Pacers game. He’s made just seven appearances for Brooklyn, averaging 1.7 points in 3.7 minutes per game.

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“Yeah. It’s tough sometimes, you know, because my primary goal is to be here and help the guys,” Musa told Brian Lewis. “But I’m happy that we have this seven-game stretch of winning, so I’m happy to see the guys that are winning.”

Musa has played extremely well for the Long Island Nets in the G League, where he’s one of the league’s youngest players. He’s averaged 20.1 points, 7.1 rebounds and three assists Cheap Brooklyn Nets Jerseys while shooting 43.9 percent overall and 35.6 percent from deep. Although he’s been playing the point on occasion, he’s more of a playmaking wing who’s not afraid to mix it up.

Here’s some highlights of the Bosnian’s season so far, including the first video when he did play the point…
As Tim Capstraw said on the YES broadcast, a “glimmer of brilliance.”

Just before he went down, Musa spoke about how he’s trying to improve all parts of his game, that he doesn’t want to be seen simply as a scorer, which is how he made his reputation in Europe.

“I’m trying to prove to everyone that I can do multiple things on the court, that I’m not just some scorer, that I can pass, I can play defense,” Musa told The Post. “I’m trying to prove to my coaches that I can do a little of everything. [I’m working on] ballhandling, a lot of shooting, and passing obviously. I’m trying to just help my guys in Long Island to be better players every day. That’s what I’m trying to do.”

Of course, Musa has to deal with more than injuries. He’s facing a logjam at the wing and point, where the Nets are strongest. Kurucs had an advantage (which he took) because the Nets lacked a stretch 4. But the Nets are patient, very, very patient.

Celtics caught in a cycle of saying and not doing

Whatever was said in the team meeting seems to have worked for at least one game. But will the Celtics keep up this level of effort or revert back to the habits that led to the team meeting in the first place?

The hustle, effort and intensity the Celtics and their roster of nicknames-laden characters once played with didn’t need a label. Matt Moore labeled them the “try hard” team. Within,cheap nba jerseys
players rarely spoke on it and the media sparingly commented on it because, like reporters and the air in the locker room, it always hung around the team.

As I said earlier, there’s five months left in the season. There’s just so much time.

But the concern with Boston HAS to be rooted in how they’ve exceeded expectations with try-hard teams and now, with legit talent and a real chance at elite status, they’re struggling.

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— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) November 22, 2018
That changed, for reasons unexpected and difficult to explain. Lineups, cohesion, Gordon Hayward’s return and injuries challenged the Celtics. But for the first significant time in Stevens’ tenure, the team needed to slam the door on the media for a closed-door meeting following their third straight loss at the hands of the Bucks. Boston fell behind by over 20 in the first half, received boos from the fans and failed to pull within single digits.

No details leaked out of the meeting — Kyrie Irving said it’s none of our business — but we can probably extrapolate from what Irving said on just Wednesday. Marcus Smart tried several times to energize and challenge the team, including getting into his teammates in the huddle following several strolls to the rim for layups by Eric Bledsoe that elicited the boos in the second quarter on Friday. Boston woke up from that point on, but failed to win against Giannis Antetokounmpo’s 17-point third quarter.
The issue isn’t the three straight losses, the seeding drop the Celtics will likely suffer, or even Hayward’s ongoing slump that continued with a 3-for-13 performance. All three of those problems can work themselves out. It’s that the cycle of Irving and Smart calling for more urgency and hustle, and failing to inspire that effort, could be part of this group’s makeup.

“We just have to have consistency,” Irving said after losing to the Suns by eight. “A cohesion. Where the ball’s moving and guys actually want to see other players be in positions to score the basketball. That means delivering on time.”

“Actually trying.”
To hear the Celtics themselves acknowledge that trying is among their array of problems is a monumental divergence from the past. Not only from the Isaiah Thomas teams. Last year’s roster mounted some of Stevens’ largest comebacks in both the regular season over the Rockets and the postseason against the 76ers.