Charlotte Hornets

NBA Notes: Cavs staying humble with chance to close out Celtics

NBA Notes: Cavs staying humble with chance to close out Celtics

BOSTON -- It took 10 games and halfway through the third round of the NBA playoffs before the Cleveland Cavaliers finally encountered their first true dose of resistance this postseason.

After cruising to a 2-0 Eastern Conference finals lead over Boston, the Cavs were humbled at home in a Game 3 loss, and needed a 42-point night from Kyrie Irving to battle back from a 16-point hole and win Game 4.

The chatter about an NBA Finals' matchup of two teams with unblemished playoff records is gone, but the challenge from the Celtics has sharpened the focus of the defending champs. Cleveland is expecting another unflinching effort in Game 5 from a Celtics team that isn't backing down despite facing a 3-1 deficit in the series.

"The closeout game is always the hardest.and Boston is going to make it even harder," said LeBron James, who rebounded from a playoff-low 11 points in Game 3 to score 34 in Game 4.

James had been saying that he felt like the Cavs needed to go through some adversity after a blistering 10-0 start to the postseason.

The way they responded Tuesday night -- particularly on the defensive end -- is a good sign for their prospects of wrapping up their third straight Eastern Conference crown on Thursday (see full story).

NBA: Charlotte awarded 2019 All-Star Game
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The NBA All-Star game will be coming to Charlotte in 2019, two years after the city was to host the event.

The NBA announced Wednesday the game will be played at Spectrum Center, home of the Charlotte Hornets.

The All-Star game had been set for Charlotte last February, but the NBA moved the game to New Orleans because of the state law restricting the rights of LGBT people.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in a release that while he understands the concerns of those who say the repeal of the HB2 law didn't go far enough, "the recent legislation eliminates the most egregious aspects of the prior law."

The All-Star weekend festivities in Charlotte are set for Feb. 15-17, 2019.

Bucks: GM search opening up after Hammond exit
Boasting a budding star and an impressive roster of young talent, the Milwaukee Bucks are opening up their search for a new general manager to lead them into contention in the Eastern Conference.

After longtime GM John Hammond left to join friend Jeff Weltman in the Orlando Magic front office, the Bucks are bringing in respected league executive Rod Thorn to help with the search for a replacement, a person with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press on Wednesday. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the Bucks were not publicly discussing their search.

Assistant GM Justin Zanik was believed to be the heir apparent to Hammond when he left the Utah Jazz to join the Bucks. Zanik, a promising young executive who was an agent before spending three years under Dennis Lindsey in Utah, will get the opportunity to interview for the position, but outside candidates will also be considered. ESPN first reported the details of Milwaukee's search.

The job figures to be an attractive one for prospective executives. Giannis Antetokounmpo enjoyed a breakout season this year, earning a starting spot on the Eastern Conference All-Star team and cementing himself as a franchise player.

Milwaukee also has Khris Middleton, Malcolm Brogdon and Thon Maker to go with Jabari Parker, a former No. 2 overall pick who is recovering from his second torn ACL.

The Bucks are building a new arena and have enjoyed a revival in the city under new owners Marc Lasry and Wesley Edens and coach Jason Kidd.

Whether it is Zanik or someone else, it will be a critical hire to help the Bucks move from a team that lost in six games to the Toronto Raptors in the first round of the playoffs to one that is ready to challenge the Cavaliers and Celtics at the top of the Eastern Conference (see full story).

Lakers: Celebrity trainer Peterson hired
LOS ANGELES -- A celebrity trainer known for getting the Kardashian clan into shape is going to work for the Los Angeles Lakers.

Gunnar Peterson is the Lakers' new director of strength and endurance training, the team announced Wednesday.

Peterson has been a favorite trainer among entertainers and athletes for many years while running a well-regarded private gym in Beverly Hills. His client list has included Sylvester Stallone, Halle Berry, Ben Affleck, Jennifer Lopez, Sofia Vergara and Pete Sampras, along with most of the Kardashian family.

Peterson will develop a strength and conditioning program for the Lakers, general manager Rob Pelinka says.

The 16-time NBA champion franchise has replaced several key members of its internal staff since Magic Johnson and Pelinka assumed control of basketball operations earlier this year.

Best of NBA: Dion Waiters leads Heat's rally over Hornets

Best of NBA: Dion Waiters leads Heat's rally over Hornets

MIAMI -- Dion Waiters scored 24 points, Goran Dragic added 22 points and 10 assists, and the Miami Heat moved within a half-game of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference by beating the Charlotte Hornets 108-101 on Wednesday night.

Luke Babbitt scored 12 points, Hassan Whiteside had 10 points and 15 rebounds, and James Johnson added 10 points for Miami, which is 20-4 in its last 24 games -- the NBA's best record in that span.

Miami outscored Charlotte 27-15 in the final quarter.

Kemba Walker scored 33 points for Charlotte, which got 16 from Nicolas Batum, 14 from Marvin Williams and 12 from Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.

The Heat made 17 3-pointers, outscoring Charlotte 51-21 from beyond the arc (see full recap).

Antetokounmpo leads Bucks to win over Knicks
MILWAUKEE -- Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 22 of his 32 points in the second half to help the Milwaukee Bucks overcome a third-quarter deficit and beat the New York Knicks 104-93 on Wednesday night.

The Bucks extended their winning streak to four games with the win, moving to within a half-game of Chicago for the eighth playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Antetokounmpo also added 13 rebounds, seven assists and four steals. Khris Middleton finished with 18 points and Greg Monroe had 17.

Derrick Rose led the Knicks with 26 points, scoring 20 of them in the second half. He was 13 of 16 from the field. Carmelo Anthony scored 16 points in his return after a one-game absence.

The Bucks began the third quarter missing 13 of their first 14 shots and the Knicks built a 69-57 lead on a pair of free throws (see full recap).

Schroder, Millsap pace Hawks past Nets
ATLANTA -- Dennis Schroder scored 31 points, Paul Millsap added 24 and the Atlanta Hawks snapped a three-game losing streak with a 110-105 victory over the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday night.

Tim Hardaway Jr. finished with 16 points for Atlanta, which had lost six of eight to fall three games behind fourth-place Toronto in the Eastern Conference.

Sean Kilpatrick scored 27 points, Brook Lopez had 18 and Jeremy Lin 16 for Brooklyn, the NBA's worst team. The Nets were trying to win consecutive games for the first time since last March 24-26.

Lin's corner 3 trimmed the lead to 106-105 with 13 seconds remaining, but Hardaway and Schroder each hit a pair of free throws to end it (see full recap).

Payton's 2nd straight triple-double leads Magic over Bulls
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Elfrid Payton had 22 points, 14 assists and 14 rebounds for his second straight triple-double, and the Orlando Magic rallied for a 98-91 victory over the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday night.

Evan Fournier added 20 points to help Orlando erase a 13-point, second-half deficit and snap a two-game losing streak. The fading Bulls have lost three straight and four of their last five games. They entered the night tied with Detroit for seventh place in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

Jimmy Butler scored 21 points for Chicago but missed some big shots down the stretch (see full recap).

Best of NBA: Raptors rally from 17 down in 4th quarter to beat Hornets

Best of NBA: Raptors rally from 17 down in 4th quarter to beat Hornets

TORONTO -- Kyle Lowry scored 21 points and all of Toronto's starters finished in double figures as the Raptors erased a 17-point fourth quarter deficit to beat the Charlotte Hornets 90-85 on Wednesday night.

Lowry, who also had six rebounds and six assists, had a three-point play to break an 82-82 tie with 1:40 to go. After Delon Wright's layup made it a five-point game, Nicolas Batum hit a 3 for Charlotte to pull the Hornets within two, but DeMarre Carroll responded with a 3 of his own with 7.4 seconds to go to ice it and help the Raptors end a three-game losing streak.

Norman Powell had 17 points and Jonas Valanciunas had 10 points and 11 rebounds as the Raptors won for just the fifth time in the past 16 games.

Frank Kaminsky had a game-high 27 points, and Kemba Walker added 24 points and nine assists for Charlotte, which dropped its fourth straight and 11th consecutive road game (see full recap).

Antetokounmpo, Bucks hand Nets 14th straight loss
NEW YORK -- Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 33 points in his final game before making his All-Star debut, Greg Monroe added 25 and the Milwaukee Bucks sent the Brooklyn Nets to the break on a 14-game skid with a 129-125 victory Wednesday night.

Khris Middleton finished with 20 points in his strongest game since returning from a ruptured left hamstring that forced him to miss the first 50 games. He made four free throws in the final 19 seconds as the Bucks won their third straight.

Monroe was 12 for 16 from the field after going 12 for 15 on Monday in a victory over Detroit. He has two straight 20-point games after just one previously this season.

Brook Lopez scored a season-high 36 points for the Nets. They have lost 16 straight at home (see full recap).

Wiggins scores 40 in Timberwolves’ win over Nuggets
DENVER -- Andrew Wiggins scored 40 points and Karl-Anthony Towns added 24 points and 18 rebounds in the Minnesota Timberwolves' 112-99 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday night.

Wiggins' second 40-plus game in 24 hours helped the Timberwolves split the season series with the Nuggets, whom they're chasing for the eighth playoff spot in the West.

The Nuggets went cold 48 hours after blowing out Golden State behind an NBA record-tying 24 3-pointers on 40 tries. They made just 11 of 34 from long range this time, and Nicola Jokic shot just 6 of 19 from the floor for 15 hard-earned points (see full recap).