LeBron, other athletes react to news from Ferguson

Athletes took to Twitter following the decision from grand jury.

      
 

 

View full post on USATODAY – NBA Top Stories

Miami Heat News: Heat Waive Shannon Brown, Sign Hassan Whiteside

Looks like Shannon Brown’s Miami Heat tenure didn’t last too long.
Less than three months after being signed by the Heat, Brown was waived to make room for center Hassan Whiteside. The 6’4″ shooting guard appeared in five games for the Heat this season, and averaged four points in 17.8 minutes per action. He had started the Heat’s previous game versus the Charlotte Hornets on Sunday night, but posted a scoreless stat line in 17 minutes of playing time.
In nine NBA seasons, Brown has played with eight different teams. He was expected to be the primary backup shooting guard behind Dwyane Wade, but Mario Chalmers’ strong play off of the bench at shooting guard led to the veteran guard being dispensable.
Brown’s contract was non-guaranteed, as is rookie Andre Dawkins‘ contract. The Heat elected to keep Dawkins instead of the journeyman guard.
Whiteside hasn’t appeared in an NBA game since the 2011-12 season. Originally drafted No. 33 overall by the Sacramento Kings in the 2010 NBA Draft…

View full post on Yardbarker: NBA

Miami Heat News: Heat To Call Up Center Hassan Whiteside

According to Marc Stein of ESPN, the Miami Heat are closing in on calling up center Hassan Whiteside of the Iowa Energy from the D-League.

Hearing that the Miami Heat are lining up Hassan Whiteside for an @nbadleague callup after Whiteside’s big-stats start with the @iowaenergy
— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) November 23, 2014

Whiteside was a second round pick of the Sacramento Kings in 2010 and played 19 games for them over the span of two seasons. He has been sent up and down between the Energy and its parent team, the Memphis Grizzlies, who Whiteside has not played for yet in a regular season game.
In his only two games with the Energy this season, Whiteside is averaging 21.0 points, 15.5 rebounds, and 6.0 blocks. With the Heat’s apparent lack of interior defense and shaky big men due to injuries, the former Kings’ big man would be a valuable addition to Miami’s front line.
Note: Justin Hamilton‘s contract doesn’t become guaranteed until December 1, so if Whiteside does sign wit…

View full post on Yardbarker: NBA

Lakers News: Latest Surrounding Free-Agent Workouts, Nick Young’s Flop and More

Don’t look now, but the Los Angeles Lakers are on a winning streak. All right, so it’s only a two-game streak, but every team needs to start somewhere, right? With the Lakers now closer to full strength, it’s clear this team has enough talent to make a run and possibly get something good going this season.

Still, there are some missing pieces to the puzzle due to the season-long losses of forward Julius Randle and guard Steve Nash. Well, there’s been some recent news on that front, as well as some talk regarding Nick Young’s warning from the Association and a surprise tribute to Jeremy Lin.

What’s being said about these recent developments, and how do they affect the Lakers going forward? Let’s take a look.

 

Latest on Lakers Workouts

There has been plenty of talk regarding which players the Lakers will be bringing in to fill empty roster spots. Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders was the first to tweet several names rumored to be heading to Los Angeles for workouts:

Obviously, not all four players will be joining the team, but it was difficult to gauge which were front-runners in the eyes of Byron Scott and Co. On Thursday, Shams Charania of RealGM shed some light on the topic:

So, Dwight Buycks and Gal Mekel were apparently the top two performers who earned second workouts. With one of these two players seemingly the favorite to join the team, one thing becomes clear: The added depth will come at point guard rather than power forward.

It’s difficult to tell whether Buycks or Mekel has the upper hand right now, but the Lakers need to decide if they would rather have the facilitating ability of Mekel or the aggressiveness of Buycks. The smart money is on Mekel.

 

Nick Young’s Flop

According to NBA.com, Young has received a warning from the NBA for flopping. The swingman is always one for theatrics, but this time, he may have gone a little too far. At full speed, it doesn’t exactly look like a flop, but when you take a closer look, you see that Young hits the deck without being touched.

This Vine from K L Chouinard is some pretty telling evidence:

Luckily, the result of that nontouch by Kyle Korver was simply a warning; however, Young must be careful going forward. After all, the Lakers are a far superior team with the forward on the court, and that has been evident, as Los Angeles is 2-0 since his return.

Young had this to say about his return to action, via Bleacher Report’s Kevin Ding:

There’s no doubt Young is one of the Lakers’ most valuable players. In just two games this season, he’s averaging 16.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.5 steals off the bench. Staying in the Association’s good graces will be key for Young to remain on the court and continue his stellar play. Let’s hope that bad flop was a one-time thing.

 

Jeremy Lin Tribute

The Houston Rockets may have been a little freaked out by Lin’s strong performance against the Atlanta Hawks, as the guard went 6-of-7 from the floor for 15 points, adding 10 assists for a stellar double-double. As a result, the team pulled out all the stops to throw Lin off his game Wednesday.

Despite Lin’s checkered past with Houston, the Rockets decided to honor the guard with a video tribute on their scoreboard in the middle of the first quarter, and the home crowd cheered for the former player, according to Chris Baldwin of CultureMap Houston.

Ding’s Instagram featured a picture of the tribute:

The end result was Lin’s worst performance of the season. The guard shot 1-of-5 from the floor, scoring three points and adding four assists, one block, one steal and five turnovers. Luckily, the rest of the team picked up the slack, and the Lakers left Houston with a win.

Before Lin’s stint in Houston, he played 29 games with the Golden State Warriors and 35 games with the New York Knicks. Will we see both of those teams paying tribute to the guard when the Lakers come to town? It isn’t likely, but it would sure be an interesting strategy.

Read more NBA news on BleacherReport.com

View full post on Bleacher Report – NBA

Lakers News: Latest on Kobe Bryant’s Historical Accomplishment and More

Stop the presses. The Los Angeles Lakers won a basketball game.

The Lakers picked up their second win of the season Tuesday night in a 114-109 victory over the Atlanta Hawks. Kobe Bryant led the way with 28 points, but it was the fact that he reached 32,000 on his career that made the most headlines. 

Read on to see the latest on that development plus more out of Los Angeles.

 

Kobe Bryant Reaches 32,000

Baxter Holmes of ESPNLosAngeles.com provided an update on Bryant’s historical accomplishment: “Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant broke through the 32,000 career-point barrier against the Atlanta Hawks here Tuesday, joining an elite group that includes only three others: Michael Jordan, Karl Malone and Kareem-Abdul Jabbar.”

Bryant came into the game needing 27 points to reach 32,000 and finished with 28. 

Here is a look at who is in front of him, courtesy of that same Holmes piece:

While the Lakers may have gotten the victory Tuesday, they are not going to compete for anything but a favorable draft spot this season (their pick needs to be in the top five to keep it). What will keep fans coming to the games and tuning in on television as the win-loss record gets even bleaker is the presence of Bryant as he guns for the scoring record.

He is arguably this generation’s biggest superstar, with five rings to prove it, and he is moving up the scoring list in his final chapter. Basketball fans will make sure they watch it unfold.

 

Ryan Kelly Joins the Walking Wounded

Mike Trudell of Lakers.com noted that it will be some time before Lakers fans see Ryan Kelly back on the court:

Julius Randle is out for the year after a heartbreaking leg injury, Steve Nash is out for the year and may never play in an NBA game again, and Nick Young has dealt with injuries in the early going.

In three games this year, Kelly averaged 3.7 points and 1.7 rebounds a night in 8.3 minutes. He never looked fully comfortable on the floor with lingering injuries, and things have taken a turn for the worse.

This is unfortunate timing, as the Lakers could really use healthy bodies for depth purposes. What’s more, Kelly was looking to build on a solid rookie campaign, in which he averaged eight points a night and was a threat to stretch the defense as a versatile forward who could shoot from the outside and play either the 3 or the 4. 

Now, he simply has to focus on recovering and rejoining the team as soon as possible.

 

Pau Gasol Update 

Beto Duran of ESPN Radio LA provided a tidbit on the Pau Gasol negotiations from the offseason:

Gasol and his Chicago Bulls were in Los Angeles for a game against the Clippers on Monday, so discussion of his time with the Lakers in the Staples Center naturally arose. Gasol didn’t play in that game, but the Bulls came away with the victory. 

Duran also passed along some comments from Gasol on the situation:

The move to Chicago seems to make some sense from Gasol’s point of view, even if he did feel a connection with Los Angeles.

For as close as he and Bryant appeared to be, the Lakers had no hope of seriously contending for a title in 2014-15, even with Gasol on the roster. He is 34 years old and in the final stages of his career and certainly would love another championship ring to add to the two he won in purple and gold.

In Chicago, Gasol teams up with Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler, Taj Gibson, Joakim Noah and a deep set of role players every night, and the team appears primed to at least challenge the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference. 

Gasol will always be a part of Lakers lore for his role in two NBA championships in the 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons, but it was time for the rebuilding team and the aging star to move in separate directions.

 

Follow me on Twitter:

Read more NBA news on BleacherReport.com

View full post on Bleacher Report – NBA

Los Angeles Lakers breaking news: They stink

The Los Angeles Lakers’ first ten games have left them with a record of 1-9. This is not what the team envisioned when over the summer they added Jeremy Lin, Carlos Boozer, Ed Davis and promising rookies Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson. At that time, it appeared the team would be solid and much improved from the disasters of last season. Ten games in, that is not the case as the team has not only had the worst start in franchise history, but is rated as one of the worst defensive teams of all time.
The team’s recent loss to the Warriors sums up the season for the Lakers. The team lost 136-115 despite 44 points from Kobe Bryant. The Lakers allowed the Warriors to shoot nearly 54 percent overall along with 50 percent from three. Even worse, the Lakers were held to under 40 percent shooting with an atrocious 18.8 percent from three. Sadly, these two stats are quite common for the Lakers. They continuously struggle on defense and have really struggled to make three pointers.
So far, this season has been

View full post on Yardbarker: NBA

Bulls News: Latest Updates on Derrick Rose, Pau Gasol Injuries and More

Chicago Bulls injury updates are almost like a rite of passage for every NBA season, and the 2014-15 campaign is no different.

Fortunately, Derrick Rose has not suffered any debilitating, long-term injuries in the early going, but he has been in and out of the lineup all year. What’s more, his new teammate Pau Gasol is dealing with a minor health issue of his own, which is concerning for a team that needs his offense.

With that in mind, read on to find out the latest from the Windy City.

 

Derrick Rose Injury

Nick Friedell of ESPN Chicago passed along an update on Rose before Chicago’s showdown with the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday:

Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose was not in the lineup on Monday night because of a strained left hamstring. ‘[It's] getting better every day, still taking my time,’ Rose said after Monday’s shootaround. ‘[The hamstring] is just calming down. It’s not as sore, just really trying to listen to my body again and get the most out of every day.’

Monday’s game marked the sixth time that Rose has missed action this season with hamstring or ankle problems. The latest setback came in the final minutes of a win over the Toronto Raptors when he lost his balance and fell to the floor in pain. 

Friedell passed along some more reaction from Rose:

Bulls fans are undoubtedly frustrated by the missed time from their star point guard, especially given Rose’s injury history over the past two-plus seasons. However, taking the long-term approach with any ailments, no matter how big or small, is the right path for this Bulls team.

November games against the Clippers are far less important than eventual May showdowns with the Cleveland Cavaliers in the playoffs. Rose seems to understand that. 

Chicago has serious title aspirations this season, but it needs Rose healthy for that to be a realistic possibility. Resting him now and preventing any serious issues will pay dividends when the Bulls are grinding in the postseason.

 

Pau Gasol Injury 

Arash Markazi of ESPN provided an update on Gasol before Monday’s game:

It is only a strain, so there is probably not much reason to worry for Bulls fans, but Nate Duncan of Basketball Insiders took the glass half-empty approach:

Much like Rose, it is best for the Bulls to err on the side of caution with Gasol. He may not have the devastating injuries in the past that Rose does, but he is 34 years old and has a lot of basketball mileage on his legs. 

What’s more, the Bulls have Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson to man the paint until Gasol comes back. You could do a lot worse than a Noah-Gibson combination when fully healthy, so Chicago should be able to tread water until Gasol returns.

 

Gasol’s Free-Agency Decision Process 

With the Bulls visiting Los Angeles on Monday (for a game against the Clippers in the Staples Center), questions about Gasol’s decision to leave the Lakers were only natural. Friedell passed along the big man’s response:

It is clear that Kobe Bryant and Gasol had a close relationship, and it is no wonder that the two combined to bring championship hardware back to the Purple and Gold. However, it also wasn’t difficult to see the short-term writing on the wall when it came to the Lakers entering the 2014-15 season, and Gasol is in the stretch run of his career.

Competing for championships clearly took precedent over loyalty to the Lakers.

It remains to be seen whether he made the right choice, but it’s a fairly safe bet that Chicago is going to experience more success in the next couple of seasons than the Lakers. 

Gasol did all he could in purple and gold, and he has the jewelry to prove it. Now he wants a matching ring in a Bulls uniform.

 

Follow me on Twitter:

Read more NBA news on BleacherReport.com

View full post on Bleacher Report – NBA

Lakers News: Latest on Kobe Bryant, Pursuit of Quincy Miller and More

Even when the Los Angeles Lakers are one of the worst teams in the NBA, they make headlines.

After all, there are 16 championship banners hanging in the rafters at the Staples Center and one of the best players in the history of the league taking the floor there in every game. The Lakers make news every night, even if they will lose far more games than they win this season.

With that in mind, here is a look at the latest from Los Angeles.

 

Kobe Bryant Laker for Life?

Kobe Bryant discussed any potential possibility of leaving Los Angeles recently, via Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports:

I hear the chatter of Kobe should ask out and he should go and play for a contender in this latter stage of his career. But that’s not what I do. I’m extremely loyal to the Lakers.

I believe in fighting through the tough times as well as enjoying the good times. It’s my responsibility to get us to be the best that we can be. It’s important that we approach that on a day-to-day basis.

On the surface, the loyalty is certainly admirable, especially in today’s age of basketball when so many superstars jump to a contender at the earliest possible moment instead of sticking around to participate in a rebuilding project.

However, Spears pointed out that Bryant did ask for a trade in 2007 when the Lakers did not make any notable moves and then rescinded that request after the team acquired Pau Gasol. It’s not as if Bryant has always been 100 percent willing to stick out rebuilding projects in purple and gold.

The New York Knicks would be an intriguing option if Bryant was to leave or get traded in the near future. It would reunite Bryant with Phil Jackson and give him the opportunity to play alongside Carmelo Anthony. The Knicks don’t have a ton of young assets, but the two teams could probably work something out if the desire was there on both sides. 

Alas, that is just speculation, and it looks like Bryant will be a Laker for life if his latest comments are any indication. That should put fans’ worries to rest during this trying season.

 

Pursuit of Quincy Miller 

Shams Charania of RealGM noted that the Lakers could look to add Quincy Miller in the near future:

Miller will only be 22 years old for the majority of this season, so he is a potential young asset who could help the team out in the long term. Last year, he scored 4.9 points a game for the Denver Nuggets and played in 52 contests, which was a drastic improvement from the seven appearances he saw as a rookie.

Los Angeles is likely interested in Miller because of the rash of injuries it has suffered recently. 

Steve Nash and Julius Randle are both out for the season, and Nick Young and Ryan Kelly are dealing with physical setbacks as well. The bottom line is that the Lakers need healthy bodies and more depth over the course of a grueling NBA season, and Miller would provide them with just that.

 

Isaiah Thomas Almost Chose the Lakers

Isaiah Thomas, in a Q&A session with Grantland’s Zach Lowe, noted that he was almost a member of the Los Angeles Lakers this season:

First off, it’s the Los Angeles Lakers. Who wouldn’t want to play for them? Second off, I felt like they always needed a point guard — a small guard like myself. I always envisioned myself playing with the Lakers, but like you said, they were waiting on Carmelo and other moves. The Suns came out of nowhere and showed a lot of interest, and I fell in love with them.

Thomas’ presence would have drastically improved the Lakers’ 2014-15 outlook. Last year, he posted nightly averages of 20.3 points, 6.3 assists, 2.9 rebounds and 1.3 steals, and he is a career 36 percent shooter from three-point range.

Thomas could have been a second banana in the scoring department behind Bryant in that scenario, especially with Randle injured, and he would have benefited from plenty of open looks from distance when defenders collapsed on Bryant.

Steve Mason of ESPNLA 710 had an interesting take on it when Thomas was busy lighting the Lakers up for the Phoenix Suns in a recent game:

At this point, it is not worth worrying about what could have been for Lakers fans.

This 2014-15 season will likely be a lost cause, but that doesn’t mean the team will stop looking toward the future. Los Angeles could get a favorable draft pick in the top five after losing plenty of games and will look toward future free-agent classes. 

At least that’s what fans have to keep telling themselves.

 

Follow me on Twitter:

Read more NBA news on BleacherReport.com

View full post on Bleacher Report – NBA

Lakers News: Kobe Bryant Comments on Trade Talk, Nick Young Update and More

The Los Angeles Lakers haven’t exactly begun the 2014-15 season in they way they had hoped. The team is coming off a historically bad season plagued by injuries, and while the team features a different cast, it’s involved in a similar story.

Los Angeles is already dealing with several injuries, perhaps the most devastating being the loss of rookie Julius Randle due to a broken leg, and that’s resulted in an 0-4 start to the season. Although, there is a bit of good news for the team before it takes on the Phoenix Suns Tuesday night.

So, what kind of good vibes are headed the Lakers’ way? Here’s a look at three bits of information that should bring smiles to the faces of the team’s faithful.

 

Kobe Shuts Down Trade Talk

Kobe Bryant appears fully healthy, and he’s already taking on a larger workload than expected through four games this year. He’s played well so far, averaging 24.8 points, 4.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.8 steals per contest.

Of course, since the Lakers have yet to win a game, and the guard is in the twilight of his career, that sparked chatter of a possible trade demand. Well, during an interview with Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports, Bryant was quick to halt such talk:

I hear the chatter of Kobe should ask out and he should go and play for a contender in this latter stage of his career. But that’s not what I do. I’m extremely loyal to the Lakers. 

I believe in fighting through the tough times as well as enjoying the good times. It’s my responsibility to get us to be the best that we can be. It’s important that we approach that on a day-to-day basis.

Sure, the season is still very early, but Bryant does appear committed to Los Angeles. After all, he’s already claimed NBA titles during his lengthy tenure. It’s not as if he’s 19 years in the Association without a single NBA championship to his name.

This team will get stronger, it will win games and Bryant will be content to remain in place.

 

Nick Young Injury Update

One big blow to the Lakers was the loss of Young before the season began. He was prolific off the bench for the team last season, averaging 17.9 points per game. His talents are sorely missed by a team in dire need of more offense this year.

Luckily, Young’s recovery took a big step in the right direction, as Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News tweeted the small forward graduated to a soft cast:

Young previously had a hard cast on his shooting hand and was unable to do any significant work. He had the hard cast removed in late October, and the soft cast will allow him to gradually increase his practice regimen.

While he still does have several weeks until he’s cleared to be back in action, this small step forward is a great sign.

 

Return of Ryan Kelly

Kelly has yet to play in a game for the Lakers this year due to a nagging hamstring injury. The power forward served as a good option off the bench during the 2013-14 season, averaging 8.0 points, 3.7 rebounds and 1.6 assists while averaging 22.2 minutes of on-court time.

Due to the severe need for depth, the Lakers will be welcoming back this second-year player with open arms. The good news is that he may suit up as early as Tuesday against the Suns, according to the team’s official Twitter account:

Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times noted that the team also declared Kelly as probable:

As long as the forward doesn’t experience any setback, we should expect to see him in his first action of the year against the Suns. That’s a good start for a Lakers team in need of some kind of spark.

Read more NBA news on BleacherReport.com

View full post on Bleacher Report – NBA

Suns Show Depth Is Their Secret Weapon, and Other News from Friday’s NBA Action

The San Antonio Spurs may be known for a second unit that led the league in scoring and assists last season, but it was the Phoenix Suns‘ depth on display Friday night.

Head coach Jeff Hornacek‘s up-and-comers moved to 2-0 on the young season with a 94-89 victory over the reigning champs, riding a 10-0 fourth-quarter run to take their first lead in a game San Antonio had otherwise controlled.

Suns sixth man Isaiah Thomas led the way with his second straight 23-point game, making up for a mediocre evening from starting guards Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe, who made just seven of their 25 combined attempts from the field.

Acquired from the Sacramento Kings this summer in a sign-and-trade deal, the 25-year-old spark plug tallied 10 of his points in the fourth quarter, showing the kind of composure needed to knock off heavyweights like the Spurs. His continued efficiency has quickly added a new dimension to the Suns’ already potent attack.

With under five minutes remaining in the game, Hornacek left Thomas on the floor with Dragic and Bledsoe, riding a trio of point guards through a stretch in which San Antonio struggled to score or defend.

Thomas got some help from fellow reserves Alex Len and Gerald Green, who scored 10 points apiece. Taken with the fifth overall pick in 2013, Len added 11 rebounds to claim his first career double-double.

The 21-year-old turned some heads in the process.

Whereas the Spurs struggled to supplement strong outings from Tony Parker and Tim Duncan, Phoenix highlighted just how many weapons it has this season—getting 20 points and 11 rebounds from Markieff Morris in addition to the strong bench play.

It wasn’t that Dragic and Bledsoe—the closest things to stars on this team—were bad Friday night. It’s just that the complementary pieces were the ones making the difference, which could prove invaluable moving forward.

Hornacek and Co. handed San Antonio a surprising 106-85 loss a season ago, so there’s some precedent for Friday’s outcome. Phoenix’s quickness and energy makes it a formidable opponent, one that stands a strong chance of besting last season’s 48 wins and firmly cementing itself in the playoff conversation.

That’s all the more apparent with Thomas now in the fold.

The 5’9″ floor general made 10 of his 17 field-goal attempts against San Antonio, regularly using his speed to create space in the mid-range or strike from the painted area. It was a different look from a Phoenix debut in which he did his damage on the perimeter with five three-pointers in a 119-99 win against the Los Angeles Lakers.

Thomas’ multidimensionality is no coincidence.

“I’m going to take what the defense gives me,” he recently told Grantland’s Zach Lowe. “I’ve worked on my mid-range game. If it’s there, I’m going to shoot those. But for the most part, with the style of play the Suns run, we’re gonna shoot a lot of threes. If the ball goes in, I’m fine, either way.”

The Suns couldn’t have asked for a better start from their most recent arrival, and there’s little doubt the added backcourt depth will remain a factor as the franchise continues to cultivate its newfound winning pedigree. It’s a factor that just might garner some individual accolades.

So far, so good.

 

Around the Association

LeBron Looking More at Home in Cleveland

Four-time MVP and all-around mega-icon LeBron James bounced back from an icy debut to his second stint with the Cleveland Cavaliers. After a 17-point season opener in which he made just five of 15 field-goal attempts, James scored a far more efficient 36 points in Friday night’s 114-108 overtime victory against the Chicago Bulls.

The two-time champion scored Cleveland’s first eight points in the extra session, helping even the Cavaliers’ early record and steal the first match of what may be an emergent Eastern Conference rivalry.

The Bulls and Cavaliers have set themselves apart from the rest of the East, boasting deep rosters and superior star power. Neither side disappointed in the first regular-season go-around since LeBron’s return.

 

Captain Kirk Almost to the Rescue

With starting point guard Derrick Rose relegated to just 25 minutes after a mild left ankle sprain, Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau turned to 33-year-old Kirk Hinrich for 34 minutes of Chicago’s overtime loss to the Cavs on Friday night.

He didn’t disappoint, scoring eight of his 20 points with less than two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. Hinrich nailed back-to-back three-pointers and temporarily gave Chicago a five-point lead, ultimately assuring the Bulls a chance to win the game in OT.

Hinrich started the game at shooting guard with Jimmy Butler still recovering from a thumb injury. His opportunities for heroics may be limited this season, but his experience running an offense will remain a valuable asset as Thibodeau attempts to keep Rose fresh and healthy.

 

Grizzlies Still Go As Z-Bo Goes

Zach Randolph has made 19 of his first 30 field-goal attempts to start the season, scoring a combined 47 points in the Memphis Grizzlies‘ first two contests—both wins. He tallied 11 of those points in the decisive third quarter of a 97-89 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Friday night. Randolph and Co. outscored Indiana by 19 points in the period, recovering from 53-45 halftime deficit in short order.

The Grizzlies have long been known for grinding out games with their talented big men, and this season isn’t departing from the script.

Center Marc Gasol—set to become an unrestricted free agent next summer—has been equally impressive in his first two outings, scoring a total of 52 points and otherwise filling up the stat sheet.  

 

Easy on the Mayo

Shooting guard O.J. Mayo is coming off a disappointing first campaign with the Milwaukee Bucks in which he averaged 11.7 points per game and made just 40.7 percent of his field-goal attempts. Limited to 52 games by injury, the 26-year-old never found his rhythm.

And while it’s too soon to certify his 2014-15 season as a legitimate turnaround, the first two games have been a promising sign for the USC product.

After an efficient 17-point season-opener, Mayo sank five of his seven three-point attempts in route to a 25-point outing. He led the way as the Bucks pulled their record to 1-1 with a 93-81 win over the rebuilding Philadelphia 76ers

Mayo was selected with the third overall pick in 2008 and has shown flashes of potential stardom, but he remains in search of some stability. Can he find it in Milwaukee?

 

Rudy Nears Career High in Win vs. Portland

It took 40 points from swingman Rudy Gay for the Sacramento Kings to secure a 103-94 victory against the Portland Trail Blazers, and they weren’t just any 40 points.

The 28-year-old made 13 of his 19 field-goal attempts (including 3-of-4 from three-point range) and 11-of-13 free-throw attempts. It was an efficient display from the veteran and perhaps an indication that Gay’s ready to carry the scoring load as Sacramento’s first option.

The University of Connecticut product will make $19.3 million this season, the last of his contract with the Kings. He just might land a similarly lucrative deal from the organization if he churns out a few more games like this one.

His career high for a single game remains 41 points—for now.

 

Blake Griffin Keeps Lakers Winless

Though the Los Angeles Lakers took a four-point lead into the fourth quarter against the Los Angeles Clippers, they had no answer for four-time All-Star Blake Griffin. The 25-year-old tallied 39 points, seven rebounds and four assists in a 118-111 victory that deals the Lakers their third loss of a still-winless season.

Meanwhile, the Clippers remain undefeated after a narrow 93-90 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday night.

The offense was more in sync Friday, thanks in part to sixth man Jamal Crawford’s 22 points and five assists. But while these Clippers have a variety of scoring options, there’s little doubt Griffin is their most dominant one.

This won’t be the last time he fills it up this season.

 

The Dotted Line

The deadline to sign players to extensions passed Friday, spurring several late agreements and a number of unresolved contract situations.

Here’s what you need to know:

The Minnesota Timberwolves paid an arm and a leg to keep point guard Ricky Rubio around for the next four years. He’ll make $56 million over that span, a generous amount for a guy who made only 38.1 percent of his field-goal attempts a season ago—a career-high mark.

Meanwhile, the Golden State Warriors secured their immediate future by coming to an agreement with shooting guard Klay Thompson on a maximum four-year deal worth around $70 million. The Utah Jazz locked up a shooting guard of their own after coming to terms on a four-year arrangement with Alec Burks at $42 million.

The more notable deals, however, may be the ones that didn’t happen.

Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler, Reggie Jackson and Tristan Thompson all top the list of eligible candidates who didn’t reach extension agreements with their respective clubs. They’ll instead become restricted free agents next summer, meaning their current teams can match any offers they receive on the open market.

Jackson’s situation is especially intriguing given his preference to be a starter.

Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that “Jackson is determined to pursue restricted free agency as a means to hunt a starting job in the NBA.” He adds, “Jackson has been described as eager to get on the market next summer, out of All-Star Russell Westbrook’s shadow and prove his value as a frontline NBA point guard.”

 

Friday’s Big Fail

Milwaukee Bucks center Larry Sanders found himself with a rare open path to the basket Friday night, and he was ready to take advantage. The only problem is that it wasn’t the correct basket.

Sanders finished with eight points, 15 rebounds and four blocks in the winning effort. Fortunately he didn’t finish with any big regrets.

Read more NBA news on BleacherReport.com

View full post on Bleacher Report – NBA

Next Page »