NBA Notes: Board approves Pistons' downtown move

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NBA Notes: Board approves Pistons' downtown move

NEW YORK -- The NBA's board of governors has approved the Detroit Pistons' relocation to downtown Detroit.

The league announced the approval Thursday.

The Pistons will begin playing next season at Little Caesars Arena, a new venue that will also house the Detroit Red Wings. The Pistons are moving there after 29 seasons playing their home games in the suburbs at The Palace of Auburn Hills.

Detroit will now have all four of its major pro teams playing within a few blocks of each other. Comerica Park (Tigers) and Ford Field (Lions) are in the same area as Little Caesars Arena.

The Pistons had formally announced their plans to move downtown in November.

Warriors: Curry shoots 4-over 74 in pro golf debut
HAYWARD, California -- Stephen Curry pumped his right fist, raised his arms in the air with club in hand and gave a firm shoulder bump to caddie Jonnie West, his golf partner on road trips with the Golden State Warriors.

After three bogeys in five holes of his professional golf debut, a birdie was worthy of celebration.

There was the animated, confident Steph that NBA fans know so well, the two-time league MVP finally feeling it and making the tough shots on the challenging course at TPC Stonebrae while competing in a tournament one step below the PGA Tour.

With a bogey on the last hole, he had a respectable 4-over 74.

"It was an amazing experience, I've been looking forward to this since I found out and to finally hit my first shot in tournament play was a really, really nervous moment but it was everything I hoped for," Curry said. "If you told me I was going to shoot 74 going into the first round I'd take that all day, every day. I'm pretty happy with it" (see full story).

Bucks: Team takes step forward with new practice facility
MILWAUKEE -- Recruiting and retaining players in the NBA means more than just offering top-dollar contracts.

Money, of course, helps. But a shiny new practice facility, complete with a state-of-the-art weight room and even its own barber shop, can help build a case, too.

Consider the Milwaukee Bucks' new downtown training center another step forward for one of the NBA's up-and-coming teams.

"This is amazing," general manager Jon Horst said. "This is going to change the way we do things."

The Bucks held a grand opening ceremony on Thursday for the Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin Sports Science Center, which is across the street from the construction site of the team's new area scheduled to be ready for the 2018-19 season.

This upcoming season will be the last for the team at the Bradley Center, which is one block south of the new arena site. But when the Bucks return for practice in a couple months, they'll report downtown instead of their old training facility in the Milwaukee suburb of St. Francis (see full story).

Trail Blazers: Lillard’s jersey to be retired by Weber State
OGDEN, Utah -- Weber State will retire the jersey of Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard on Aug. 26.

The two-time All-Star will have his No. 1 retired during an alumni game in which he will be one of the coaches.

Lillard will be the third men's basketball player at Weber State to have his jersey retired, joining Willie Sojourner and Bruce Collins. He was a two-time Big Sky MVP and the only player in Big Sky history to be selected to an All-America team. He was named third-team in 2012.

Lillard was second in the country with 24.5 points per game during the 2011-12 season and finished his career with the third-most points (1,934) in school history. He was the No. 6 pick in the 2012 NBA draft and went on to be rookie of the year.

Bradley Beal helps Wizards pull even with Pacers

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Bradley Beal helps Wizards pull even with Pacers

WASHINGTON — Bradley Beal scored 19 points, Marcin Gortat had 18 and the Washington Wizards beat the Indiana Pacers 109-102 on Saturday night in a possible playoff preview.

Washington (40-30) earned its second straight win to move into a tie with Indiana for fourth in the Eastern Conference standings. The Wizards also claimed the first tiebreaker by taking two of three in the season series.

Gortat was 6 for 8 from the field and also grabbed eight rebounds. He scored a total of 17 points in his previous four games.

Washington went 10 for 20 from 3-point range and shot 54.8 percent from the field overall. Kelly Oubre, Jr. had 16 points for the Wizards, and Markieff Morris added 15 (see full recap).

Giannis' double-double helps Bucks hold on to beat Hawks
MILWAUKEE — Giannis Antetokounmpo had 33 points and 12 rebounds, Khris Middleton added 23 points and the Milwaukee Bucks held on for a 122-117 win over the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday.

The Bucks finished off the Eastern Conference's worst team with a game-ending 11-5 run, pushing the pace after the Hawks lost ball-handler Dennis Schroder. The guard fouled out with 2:46 left, and was called for a technical foul after exchanging words with an official on the way to the sideline.

Middleton hit the free throw that started the run. The Hawks looked rushed on their next two possessions with a turnover and a blocked shot, allowing the Bucks to brush past them.

Trailing by 13 at one point, Atlanta put up a spirited fight before losing its 50th game of the year. Taurean Prince scored 38 points, while Schroder finished with 18 (see full recap).

LeBron gets 33 points in triple-double as Cavs beat Bulls
CHICAGO — LeBron James scored 33 points as part of a triple-double, Jordan Clarkson had a tiebreaking four-point play with 1:27 left and the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Chicago Bulls 114-109 on Saturday night.

James had 12 rebounds and 12 assists for his 15th triple-double of the season, and Jeff Green added 21 points. Clarkson finished with 19 points to help the Cavaliers salvage a six-game split on their season-high six-game trip.

Denzel Valentine led Chicago with a career-high 34 points, hitting 8 of 11 from long range. The Bulls wiped out a 17-point halftime deficit even though they held out banged-up core players Lauri Markkanen, Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn, only to come up short in the closing minutes.

Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue spent the second half in the locker room with an illness, another hit for an already short-handed team (see full recap).

Justin Anderson has his number called — and delivers

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Justin Anderson has his number called — and delivers

One responsibility of professional athletes is being ready when your number is called.

Seems like a simple concept. However, not everyone can handle the duties of coming into a game cold and making an impact.

The Sixers' Justin Anderson prides himself on being able to thrive in just that type of situation. That's why when Brett Brown told him to be on alert prior to Friday's 120-116 win over the Nets, he was good to go.

"He came up to me before the game, maybe like 20 minutes before the game, and said he was going to go to me tonight," Anderson said. "I told him I was going to be ready. He went to me and we all played well."

Oh, Anderson was definitely ready. The third-year swingman entered at the 6:55 mark of the first quarter and made a trio of three-pointers to keep the sluggish Sixers afloat early on.

“I had hit the first one, and they were talking a little trash. They didn’t respect it, so they continued to go under [screens],” Anderson said. “I was always taught if they go under, raise up and shoot it. That’s what you practice for. I just wanted to make sure I took good shots, played hard, brung energy and I think we did a good of doing that.”

Wait, so guys on the 21-48 Nets squad had the nerve to talk a little smack? While a bit laughable, it didn’t help in knocking Anderson off his game.

“It just showed me that they weren’t disciplined in their scouting report and I tried to take advantage of it,” he said. “It’s not like I’m shooting 20s [percent] from the three. It was what it was and I just wanted to take advantage of my opportunity.”

Anderson finished with 11 points on 4 of 7 shooting from the field and 3 of 5 from three-point range along with two rebounds in 14 minutes. Even with that offensive production, it was his defensive prowess in the final minute that made the biggest impact on the night.

“We had the confidence to both give Richaun (Holmes) some minutes and Justin when it mattered and had a big stop,” Brown said. “I think it was against (Spencer) Dinwiddie. You know, moved his feet, guarded the yard as we call it.

That’s major trust in a player who missed 23 games earlier in the season with shin splints and eight more recently with an ankle sprain. But with the playoffs right around the corner, Brown knows he may need to go to Anderson again in an even more crucial moment.

“Good for him. He’s a wonderful teammate, he’s good people and he’s had sort of an erratic year with injury,” Brown said. “I thought tonight he confirmed what we all think in relation to him being able to help us.”