Kawhi Leonard

Best of NBA: Mavericks spoil Kawhi Leonard's season debut

uspresswire-mavericks-harrison-barnes.jpg
USA Today Images

Best of NBA: Mavericks spoil Kawhi Leonard's season debut

DALLAS -- J.J. Barea scored 14 of his 16 points in the second half and the Dallas Mavericks spoiled the season debut of San Antonio star Kawhi Leonard, beating the Spurs 95-89 on Tuesday night.

Leonard missed the first 27 games because of right quadriceps tendinopathy, a condition that causes pain and weakness in the knee. He wasn't around in the fourth quarter when Barea finished a rally that he started by scoring eight points in the final 1:49 of the third.

Harrison Barnes scored 17 points while Yogi Ferrell and Wesley Mathews had 16 apiece as the Mavericks ended a five-game losing streak at home to the Spurs, who had a four-game winning streak stopped for the third time this season.

Barea led the Mavericks with six assists, teaming up with alley-oop dunk partner Dwight Powell a couple of times as Powell finished with 12 points and 12 rebounds.

LaMarcus Aldridge had 23 points and 13 rebounds and Rudy Gay scored 21 for the Spurs, who shot 29 percent while getting outscored 28-20 in the fourth quarter.

Leonard, who had 13 points, went to the locker room late in the third quarter, with no immediate word on whether he had hit the unspecified minutes restriction coach Gregg Popovich said would be in place. He played 16 minutes, roughly the first 5 minutes in each of the first three quarters (see full recap).
    
LeBron racks up 17 assists against lowly Hawks
CLEVELAND -- LeBron James had 25 points and tied a career-high with 17 assists, and the Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Atlanta Hawks 123-114 on Tuesday night.

James was 11 of 13 from the field, had seven rebounds and was given a standing ovation when he was removed from the game with 2:34 remaining .

Cleveland won for the 15th time in 16 games. The Cavaliers hit a season-high 20 3-pointers, including nine in the first quarter. Cleveland had a season-high 35 assists.

Kyle Korver had 19 points, including six 3-pointers. Kevin Love, returning after missing a game with a hip injury, scored 17 points, all in the first half. Love had 11 points in the first quarter after sitting out Saturday's game against Philadelphia. He had 12 rebounds.

Atlanta fell to 6-21, the worst record in the league. Taurean Prince scored 24 points while Kent Bazemore had 20 (see full recap).

Porzingis, Beasley lead Knicks to OT victory
NEW YORK -- Kristaps Porzingis had 37 points and 11 rebounds, Michael Beasley made the biggest plays in overtime, and the New York Knicks beat the Los Angeles Lakers 113-109 on Tuesday night.

Beasley had 13 points, including the tiebreaking follow shot, and an assist in the extra period as the Knicks went back over .500 at 14-13. Thirteen of their victories have come at Madison Square Garden.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 24 points for the Lakers, who had won two in a row on their trip. Rookie Kyle Kuzma added 19 points off the bench.

Lonzo Ball had 17 points, eight rebounds and six assists, with a dazzling third-quarter stretch that had father LaVar celebrating wildly from his courtside seat next to Lithuania-bound sons LiAngelo and LaMelo. But Lonzo was quiet after that period beyond two free throws early in OT.

The Knicks essentially won it with Beasley's flurry of a tip-in, a pass inside to Doug McDermott for a basket, and a driving layup that turned at 103-all game into a 109-103 lead with 1:24 remaining in the overtime (see full recap).

Amazingly, Sixers have avoided NBA's rash of early-season injuries

usa-draymond-green-gordon-hayward-jeremy-lin.jpg
USA Today Images

Amazingly, Sixers have avoided NBA's rash of early-season injuries

MIAMI — Brooklyn's Jeremy Lin was horrified to see what happened to Gordon Hayward, whose season almost certainly ended in a most disturbing fashion five minutes into the Celtics' season-opener.

A night later, Lin met a similar fate.

Here's some of what should be celebrated from the opening nights of the NBA season: Milwaukee's Giannis Antetokounmpo had a 37-point game, Cleveland's LeBron James was one assist away from a triple-double, Houston beat Golden State on the Warriors' ring night and Miami's Hassan Whiteside went for 26 points and 22 rebounds.

It all seems overshadowed by injuries.

No, this is not the start the NBA wanted.

"It's tough watching that happen to anybody in the NBA," said Golden State guard Shaun Livingston, whose horrific knee injury from 2007 -- so bad that doctors originally thought he could lose his leg -- was compared to the grotesque nature of Hayward's injury Tuesday night. "It's all a brotherhood. You want to see guys succeed."

Many members of the brotherhood are ailing, none causing bigger shock waves than Hayward.

San Antonio's Kawhi Leonard hasn't played yet this season because of a quadriceps injury. The Warriors sent Draymond Green to get an MRI on an aching knee, which had knocked him out early in their season opener. Houston's Chris Paul missed a game at Sacramento on Wednesday with knee pain. Cleveland's Isaiah Thomas won't be back until January, at least, while recovering from a hip injury.

And those guys, along with Hayward, are just the hurting All-Stars from last season.

"There's no doubt we'll get him back to be better than he was before," said Mark Bartelstein, Hayward's agent.

Lin's injury was nowhere near as visibly horrifying as Hayward's, but the end result was the same -- a bad landing at Indiana on Wednesday left him in tears and saying, "I'm done, I'm done."

His personal diagnosis was officially confirmed Thursday morning: Lin ruptured the patella tendon in his right knee, the Nets said.

"We feel awful that the injury will cost him the season," Nets general manager Sean Marks said.

Plenty of other teams are missing key players and would-be starters.

Among them: Utah's Dante Exum may miss the whole season with a dislocated left shoulder, Miami's Rodney McGruder had surgery on a stress fracture in his leg, Phoenix's Brandon Knight blew his knee out in the summer, San Antonio's Tony Parker (leg) is still several weeks from returning, Indiana's Glenn Robinson III (ankle) may miss half the season and Milwaukee's Jabari Parker (knee) has months of rehab work left.

"You worry about guys getting nicked up," Memphis forward Brandan Wright said. "Lot of big injuries ... You want to just take care of your guys."

Hayward had surgery Wednesday night and is likely to miss the remainder of the season, after breaking his leg and dislocating his ankle in Boston's opener at Cleveland.

Livingston had no interest in seeing the replay of Hayward's injury. He knows the road that awaits the Boston star.

"I'm not watching the video, but I've seen the pictures," Livingston said. "Prayers go out to him. It's going to be a long road back for him but if he puts his mind to it, is a man of faith, keeps good people around him ... it's going to be a long rehab for him but he's very capable of coming back and being the same player."

NBA Notes: Kawhi Leonard to miss Spurs' opener with thigh injury

uspresswire-spurs-kawhi-leonard.jpg
USA Today Images

NBA Notes: Kawhi Leonard to miss Spurs' opener with thigh injury

HOUSTON — Kawhi Leonard still isn't ready to play.

San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said the All-Star forward needs more time to get his injured thigh muscle right, meaning he won't be out there when the Spurs open their regular season on Wednesday against Minnesota.

"He's still rehabbing and when he's ready, he'll be ready," Popovich told reporters in Houston before San Antonio's preseason finale.

Leonard didn't play at all in camp or preseason, after a year where he averaged 25.5 points - raising his scoring average for the fifth consecutive season - and finished behind only Russell Westbrook and James Harden in the MVP race (see full story).

Cavaliers: Jefferson, Felder reportedly being dealt to Hawks
CLEVELAND -- Their roster overloaded, the Cavaliers are trading Richard Jefferson and Kay Felder to save money.

Cleveland has agreed to send Jefferson, Felder, two second-round draft picks and $3 million to the Atlanta Hawks in a move that will allow the Eastern Conference champions to avoid paying $12 million in luxury tax penalties, a person familiar with the deal told The Associated Press on Friday.

In return, the Cavs will get the rights to two overseas players, according to the person who spoke on condition of anonymity because the league still has to approve the transaction. The deal could be completed later Friday or Saturday morning.

Jefferson and Felder were both on Cleveland's bench for Friday night's exhibition finale at Orlando. Jefferson did not return to the sideline for the second half, but Felder did. Neither logged any minutes.

Jefferson and Felder left without talking to reporters. Cavs coach Tyronn Lue declined comment (see full recap).

Celtics: Brown could be team’s X-factor
BOSTON -- One of Jaylen's Brown's nicknames is "Old Man."

It sounds like a strange moniker for a 20-year-old NBA player, until you spend just a few minutes inside Brown's world.

During the Celtics' massive overhaul this summer, the focus was on the trio of new Boston additions: Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward and rookie Jayson Tatum.

But the forgotten player on Boston's rebuilt roster may be Brown.

The second-year forward out of California, where he was the PAC-12 freshman of the year in his lone year at the school, showed he is as cerebral as he is athletic. He didn't shy away from veteran tasks like guarding LeBron James during the playoffs. Now, he just might be the X-factor for the toughest challenger to the Cleveland Cavaliers' recent Eastern Conference supremacy.

Heat: Riley celebrates 50 years in NBA
MIAMI -- Pat Riley often was forced to wonder if his time in the NBA was over. Like when he got pulled out of a drill in his first training camp with San Diego and was told he had to get better. Or when Portland cut the newly married Riley a week after his father died. Or when he realized that his playing days were finished.

The fears were always unfounded.

A half-century later, he's still in the game.

Riley's NBA debut was exactly 50 years ago Saturday -- Oct. 14, 1967, the start of a Hall of Fame career that saw him go from player to broadcaster, broadcaster to coach, coach to executive. The Miami Heat president has stockpiled nine championship rings, became a best-selling author and motivational speaker, transformed the fashion sense of NBA coaches and left an indelible mark on franchises in Los Angeles, New York and Miami.

And he's not done.

"He's still going," said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, Riley's former assistant who replaced him as head coach nearly a decade ago. "I think that is the ultimate sign of true greatness, his sustainability and ability to constantly adapt and stay ahead of the curve. He's always three, four, five steps ahead of the competition. His thought process is always ahead of the norm."