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  • Timberwolves' Butler out indefinitely with meniscus tear
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, February 24, 2018

    Jimmy Butler didn't tear his ACL, but a right meniscus tear will keep the Minnesota Timberwolves' All-Star guard on the shelf for the foreseeable future.

    • Butler's results from an MRI exam revealed on Saturday that he suffered only a right meniscus tear, not an ACL injury as originally feared, when he was injured during Friday's game in Houston.

      "The Minnesota Timberwolves announced that an MRI ... taken this afternoon on Wolves forward Jimmy Butler's right knee revealed a meniscal injury," the team said in a statement. "The evaluation and MRI was conducted by Team Orthopedic Surgeon Dr. Diane Dahm at Mayo Clinic. Further updates as to Butler's progress will be issued when more information becomes available."

      Butler had to be carried off the court after he sustained the non-contact injury to his right knee in the third quarter of the Timberwolves' 120-102 loss to the rockets. He finished with 10 points on 4-of-14 shooting in 25 minutes.

      On Saturday, Butler posted a picture of himself on Instagram accompanied by a caption saying "a wise man once told me... you gotta take the crooked with the straights... so I just smile through it all."

      Butler, 28, is averaging a team-leading 22.2 points, 5.4 rebounds and 5.0 assists through 56 games this season, his first with Minnesota after spending his first six with Chicago and being traded last offseason.

      --Field Level Media

  • NBA roundup: Bucks end Raptors' 7-game streak with OT win
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, February 24, 2018

    Milwaukee forward Giannis Antetokounmpo had 26 points and 12 rebounds and Khris Middleton and Eric Bledsoe had 21 points apiece when the Bucks opened their post-break season with a 122-119 overtime victory over the Eastern Division-leading Toronto Raptors at Air Canada Centre on Friday.

    • Jason Terry had 14 points, including five in overtime, and John Henson had 12 points and eight rebounds in his first game after missing the previous three with a hamstring injury for the Bucks, who have won six of eight.

      DeMar DeRozan scored 33 points and Serge Ibaka had 18 points for Raptors, who had a seven-game winning streak broken while losing for the first time in three meetings against the Bucks.

      Kyle Lowry and Pascal Siakam each had 17 points for the Raptors, who forced overtime on Jonas Valanciunas' basket as regulation time expired to make it 110-110.

      Cavaliers 112, Grizzlies 89

      LeBron James recorded his 11th triple-double of the season to lead Cleveland past host Memphis.

      James had 18 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists to help the Cavs avenge a 110-103 loss to Washington on Thursday, which snapped a four-game winning streak.

      Playing in its first game since the All-Star break, Memphis has now lost eight in a row.

      Pelicans 124, Heat 123 (OT)

      Jrue Holiday made the game-winning basket with seven seconds left in support of Anthony Davis' 45 points as New Orleans edged visiting Miami in New Orleans.

      Dwyane Wade's jumper gave the Heat a one-point lead with 21 seconds left, but Holiday answered with a jumper from the lane. Miami had another chance, but Wade missed a jumper and Josh Richardson missed a tip.

      Davis added 17 rebounds, five blocks and five steals as the Pelicans won their fourth straight. The Heat lost their third straight in a battle of teams that began the night clinging to the final playoff spot in their respective conferences.

      Rockets 120, Timberwolves 102

      Clint Capela was a stabilizing force in the paint as Houston extended its winning streak to 11 games with a victory over Minnesota in Houston.

      Capela finished with 25 points and 11 rebounds. The Rockets also received strong performances from guards James Harden (31 points, nine assists) and Chris Paul (14 points, 10 boards, eight assists) in improving to 3-0 against the Timberwolves this season.

      Andrew Wiggins paced Minnesota with 21 points while Jeff Teague added 18 points, four assists and two steals. Jimmy Butler was carried off the floor in the third quarter after injuring his right knee on a non-contact play. He is set to undergo an MRI on Saturday.

      Celtics 110, Pistons 98

      Daniel Theis scored a career-high 19 points, and Boston used a strong effort from its bench to snap a three-game losing streak and top host Detroit.

      Theis was one of four Boston reserves to reach double figures. Marcus Morris had 15 points, Marcus Smart tossed in 12 and Terry Rozier chipped in 11 as the Celtics bench outscored its counterparts 65-21. Smart had missed the previous 11 games with right hand lacerations.

      Kyrie Irving led Boston's first unit with 18 points, five rebounds and six assists. Jayson Tatum contributed 15 points in the first game for both clubs since the All-Star break. Ish Smith led the Pistons with 20 points and six assists while Blake Griffin scored 17 points but committed six turnovers.

      Hornets 122, Wizards 105

      Frank Kaminsky scored 25 points while Kemba Walker celebrated his 500th NBA game with 24 as Charlotte defeated Washington in Washington D.C.

      The Wizards had won eight of their last 10 games before this contest, but Washington has had trouble with Charlotte all season. The Hornets now are 3-0 against the Wizards.

      Kaminsky came off the bench to score his 25 points, including hitting six 3-pointers, while Walker got 20 in the second half alone.

      Pacers 116, Hawks 93

      Thaddeus Young scored 20 points and Victor Oladipo showed off his playmaking abilities on an off-shooting night as Indiana hammered visiting Atlanta.

      Oladipo hit just five of 16 shots for 14 points, but made an impact all over the court. The All-Star finished with nine assists, seven rebounds and four steals.

      Domantas Sabonis came off the bench to score 21 points and grab 13 rebounds, and Lance Stephenson added 13 points, eight rebounds and eight assists for the Pacers, who have won four in a row and 10 of their last 13. Isaiah Taylor scored 17 points, and Taurean Prince added 14 points for the Hawks.

      Nuggets 122, Spurs 119

      Gary Harris scored 23 points, including six in the final minutes during a crucial, decisive run, as Denver outlasted visiting San Antonio.

      Harris' jumper with 3:05 to play and the game tied at 114 were the first points of a 6-1 run (with all those points scored by Harris) that sent the Nuggets to a 120-115 lead with 45.3 seconds remaining. Denver was able to hang on from there, winning its fourth straight contest and its 10th in its past 13 games.

      Nikola Jokic led the Nuggets with 28 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists, recording his third straight triple-double before fouling out with 1:46 to play. Wilson Chandler added a double-double with 18 points and 16 rebounds. San Antonio's LaMarcus Aldridge led all scorers with 38 points, his 12th 30-plus-point game this season.

      Clippers 128, Suns 117

      Lou Williams had 35 points off the bench and Tobias Harris had 30 points and 12 rebounds as Los Angeles blitzed host Phoenix early and rolled to victory.

      Harris and Williams took turns personally dismantling the skidding Suns, who have lost eight straight and 13 of 14.

      Harris scored 16 points in the first quarter, and the Clippers scored the first 19 points of the game. They led 24-2 en route to a 40-point first quarter. Williams had 23 points in the second quarter.

      Trail Blazers 100, Jazz 81

      CJ McCollum scored 26 points and Damian Lillard added 24 to lead visiting Portland past Utah.

      Jusuf Nurkic scored 15 points and collected seven rebounds and Al-Farouq Aminu added 12 points and eight boards for Portland. The Blazers beat Utah for the first time this season after losing two previous meetings.

      Utah had its league-leading 11-game winning streak snapped after being undone by turnovers. The Jazz totaled 20 turnovers over four quarters, leading to 22 points for the Blazers. Donovan Mitchell scored 21 points to lead the Jazz while Rudy Gobert added 15 points, nine rebounds and four blocks.

      Lakers 124, Mavericks 102

      Isaiah Thomas made his home debut for his new team, contributing 17 points to Los Angeles' ninth consecutive home win in beating Dallas at Staples Center.

      Lonzo Ball returned from a 15-game absence due to a sprained left MCL to chip in with nine points off the bench, helping the Lakers snap a three-game losing streak. Ball also found time for seven rebounds and six assists in just 17 minutes.

      Harrison Barnes and Wesley Matthews shared game-high scoring honors with 19 points apiece for the Mavericks, who lost their third straight.

      --Field Level Media

  • X-rays negative, Wolves' Butler headed for MRI on Saturday
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, February 24, 2018

    Timberwolves guard Jimmy Butler was carried off the floor in a loss to the Houston Rockets on Friday night hoping his season is not over.

    • Butler injured his right knee in a non-contact play and was immediately taken for X-rays at Toyota Center because the Minnesota All-Star could not put any weight on his injured leg.

      "You know Jimmy, his first reaction is 'I'm OK,'" forward Taj Gibson said postgame. "That's unless the MRI tells you something different. ... He's a warrior. The bright side is he was smiling. We hope we get him some good news and get him some rest."

      Butler pulled down his own miss, wrestling an offensive rebound from Nene with 3:20 left in the third quarter. He immediately clutched his right knee and attempted to get to his feet before All-Star point guard Chris Paul, seated on the Rockets' bench, came on the floor and told Butler to stay down.

      An MRI exam is scheduled for Saturday in Minnesota, the Timberwolves said on Friday.

      Butler leads the NBA in minutes played at 37.3 per game. He's also first on the team in field goal attempts (15.8 per game), points (22.4 per game) and steals (1.9 per game).

      --Field Level Media

  • Ball returning to Lakers' lineup, will be on minutes limit
    By Field Level Media / Friday, February 23, 2018

    The Los Angeles Lakers are doing something that sounds more suited for LaVar Ball: Putting Lonzo Ball on restriction.

    • The high-profile rookie and second pick in the 2017 NBA Draft will make his long-awaited return to the Lakers' lineup on Friday night as the club hosts the Dallas Mavericks in its first game after the All-Star break.

      But, the team announced, the move comes with some caveats -- a minutes restriction and a ban on back-to-back games for now.

      Ball has missed the Lakers' last 15 games with a sprained left knee, his last game coming on Jan. 13 against Dallas. The former UCLA star is averaging 10.2 points, 7.1 assists and 7.1 rebounds in 36 games this season.

      The team Ball returns to, however, will look a bit different than the one he last ran the floor with. Most notably, Larry Nance Jr. and Jordan Clarkson are gone, having been shipped to Cleveland at the trade deadline for Isaiah Thomas, Channing Frye and a first-round pick.

      Los Angeles is currently 23-34 and in 11th place in the Western Conference.

      --Field Level Media

  • NBA launches anonymous harassment hotline
    By Field Level Media / Friday, February 23, 2018

    NBA commissioner Adam Silver sent a memo to all 30 teams regarding the launch of an anonymous hotline available to all team and league employees to report possible workplace misconduct and harassment claims.

    • The hotline will be up and running next week, the memo says, and is the first step in Silver's stated mission to "promote a safe and inclusive workplace environment."

      In the memo titled "Respect in the Workplace," Silver also asked all teams to accept and adopt new policies regarding workplace conduct by March 6.

      "Next week, the NBA will launch a confidential hotline available to all league and team employees to report any concerns arising in the workplace, including but not limited to sexual harassment, illegality, or other misconduct," the memo read. "Specific information relating to the hotline and a form of announcement that we will ask teams to send to all employees will be provided to you shortly."

      The action comes in the wake of a Sports Illustrated report outlining the systemic breakdown in harassment and conduct policy within the front office of the Dallas Mavericks.

      Owner Mark Cuban, who vowed to change the atmosphere in Dallas, said he was not fully aware of the predatory environment described in the report. The SI story centered on former president and CEO Terdema Ussery and team writer Earl K. Sneed.

      --Field Level Media

  • NBA roundup: Westbrook shoots Thunder past Kings
    By Field Level Media / Friday, February 23, 2018

    Russell Westbrook drained the game-winning 3-pointer as time expired to give the visiting Oklahoma City Thunder a 110-107 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Thursday.

    • Westbrook received an inbounds pass just to the right of the top of the key and knocked down the decisive line-drive shot, leading to a raucous on-court celebration. The shot capped off his 18th triple-double of the campaign as Westbrook finished with 17 points, 15 rebounds and 11 assists.

      Paul George had 26 points, seven rebounds and eight assists for Oklahoma City, which won for just the third time in the past 10 games. Carmelo Anthony matched his season high of seven 3-pointers while scoring 23 points.

      Zach Randolph had 29 points and 12 rebounds for the Kings, who lost for the sixth time in eight games.

      Wizards 110, Cavaliers 103

      Bradley Beal had 18 points, and Washington extended its winning streak to three games by outlasting host Cleveland.

      Tomas Satoransky, who is starting in place of injured Wizards All-Star guard John Wall, scored 17 points, as did Kelly Oubre Jr. Otto Porter had 15 points for Washington.

      LeBron James had 32 points, nine rebounds and eight assists for Cleveland, which had a four-game winning streak end.

      Warriors 134, Clippers 127

      Golden State left its first-quarter woes behind at the All-Star break, exploding to a double-digit lead in the first seven minutes en route to a victory over Los Angeles in Oakland, Calif.

      Stephen Curry poured in a game-high 44 points, including a 38-footer at the first-quarter horn, to lift the Warriors to their fourth straight home victory.

      Lou Williams, who burned the Warriors for a career-best 50 points in the clubs' most recent meeting in Oakland last month, had a 21-point, 12-assist double-double for the Clippers. Los Angeles fell for the 12th time in its past 13 visits to Oracle Arena.

      76ers 116, Bulls 115

      Ben Simmons hit a pair of free throws with 5.6 seconds remaining, and he finished with 32 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds to send visiting Philadelphia past Chicago.

      The point total was a career high for Simmons, helping Philadelphia extend its winning streak to a season-best six games. Chicago lost for the fifth time in seven games.

      Chicago led by one after a pair of JJ Redick free throws with eight seconds left, but Philadelphia's Joel Embiid (30 points, 13 rebounds) came up with a steal and the Bulls' Denzel Valentine committed a foul on Simmons.

      Knicks 120, Magic 113

      Trey Burke scored 26 points off the bench and Tim Hardaway Jr. added 23 as New York snapped an eight-game losing streak, beating host Orlando.

      Evan Fournier had 25 points and Nikola Vucevic added 19 to lead the Magic, who have dropped four straight games.

      Kyle O'Quinn had a crucial 14 points and eight rebounds off the bench for the Knicks, whose reserves outscored Orlando 56-35. Emmanuel Mudiay contributed eight points, four assists and five rebounds in his first start at point guard for the Knicks. Fellow young point guard Frank Ntilikina, who could see some starts as well, had seven points.

      Hornets 111, Nets 96

      Kemba Walker scored 31 points as Charlotte pulled away in the fourth quarter against visiting Brooklyn.

      Dwight Howard provided 15 points and 24 rebounds for Charlotte, which has won two in a row. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist's 13 points, Marvin Williams' 11 and Nic Batum's 10 allowed the Hornets' starting five to all score in double figures.

      The Nets lost their eighth game in a row as their approach at perimeter scoring didn't work. They made only 14 of 43 attempts from 3-point range.

      --Field Level Media

  • Warriors to engage youth, not president, in D.C. next week
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, February 22, 2018

    The NBA champion Golden State Warriors are not going to the White House while in Washington next week.

    • Instead, the team plans to visit local students after being disinvited by President Donald Trump last summer from the typical championship meet-and-greet with the sitting chief executive.

      Head coach Steve Kerr and point guard Steph Curry were critical of the president, and Curry said last year he hoped the team would make a statement by not attending a White House ceremony.

      The Warriors face the Washington Wizards on Feb. 28.

      Next week is Golden State's only scheduled regular-season trip to D.C. this season.

      "At the end of the day, it's about us celebrating a championship so there's no point in getting into the political stuff and all that," Warriors forward Draymond Green told ESPN. "It's about something we did great. Why make it about (politics)?"

      Kevin Durant grew up in the area and was recently critical of Trump while also responding to Laura Ingraham of Fox News suggesting on-air that Durant and LeBron James "shut up and dribble."

      --Field Level Media

  • NBA notebook: Lakers PG Ball expected back Friday
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, February 22, 2018

    The Los Angeles Lakers say they will officially firm up the status of point guard Lonzo Ball on Friday, but the Big Baller Brand is already spreading the word: Ball will return for Friday's game against the Dallas Mavericks.

    • The Big Baller Brand, run by Ball's father, LaVar, announced the news on its Twitter account on Thursday: "Zo returns from injury and will play for the Lakers tomorrow," the tweet read in part.

      Ball has been sidelined since Jan. 13 due to a sprained MCL in his left knee. The rookie has missed the past 15 games.

      The Lakers said Ball was a full participant in practice Thursday, and coach Luke Walton said the training staff will make the decision. It is expected that an official announcement will coincide with the team's Friday shootaround.

      --Marcus Smart plans to play Friday for the first time since Jan. 23, when he was injured "swiping" a picture frame off the wall.

      Smart practiced with the Boston Celtics and said he's ready to go Friday against the Detroit Pistons.

      Smart, who missed 12 games, punched a picture frame on the wall in his Los Angeles hotel room, causing a deep laceration on right hand. Smart required stitches and needed several weeks to fully heal.

      --Pain management is the issue for Kawhi Leonard, and San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich is not expecting to see the star forward back on the court with the Spurs this season.

      "I'd be surprised if he returns this season," Popovich said.

      Leonard has been medically cleared to return from his right quad tendinopathy. However, Leonard decided he is not yet ready to get back on the court. Leonard reportedly spent 10 days in New York prior to the All-Star break consulting with a specialist for a second opinion on the injury.

      "Well, we only have X number of games left in the season and he's still not ready to go," Popovich said.

      --The NBA champion Golden State Warriors are not going to the White House while in Washington next week.

      Instead, the team plans to visit local students after being disinvited by President Donald Trump last summer from the typical championship meet-and-greet with the sitting chief executive. Head coach Steve Kerr and point guard Steph Curry were critical of the president, and Curry said last year he hoped the team would make a statement by not attending a White House ceremony.

      The Warriors face the Wizards on Feb. 28. That is the only scheduled regular-season trip to Washington for Golden State this season.

      --The Washington Wizards intend to sign veteran point guard Ramon Sessions to a 10-day contract, multiple outlets reported.

      The 31-year-old Sessions is being brought in to provide point guard depth with star John Wall (knee) out approximately three more weeks. Sessions averaged 3.7 points in 13 games for the New York Knicks earlier this season before being waived.

      Sessions will be in his second tour of duty with the Wizards. He averaged 9.2 points and 3.0 assists in 110 games over parts of two seasons with the team between 2015 and 2016. Sessions has career averages of 10.4 points and 4.1 assists in 676 games over 11 seasons with eight teams.

      --Field Level Media

  • Wizards to add Sessions for PG depth
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, February 22, 2018

    The Washington Wizards intend to sign veteran point guard Ramon Sessions to a 10-day contract, multiple outlets reported Thursday.

    • The 31-year-old Sessions is being brought in to provide point guard depth with star John Wall (knee) out approximately three more weeks.

      Sessions averaged 3.7 points in 13 games for the New York Knicks earlier this season before being waived.

      Sessions will be in his second tour of duty with the Wizards. He averaged 9.2 points and 3.0 assists in 110 games over parts of two seasons with the team between 2015 and 2016.

      Sessions has career averages of 10.4 points and 4.1 assists in 676 games over 11 seasons with eight teams.

      --Field Level Media

  • Lakers PG Ball expected to return Friday vs. Mavericks
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, February 22, 2018

    The Los Angeles Lakers say they will officially firm up the status of point guard Lonzo Ball on Friday, but the Big Baller Brand is already spreading the word: Ball will return for Friday's game against the Dallas Mavericks.

    • The Big Baller Brand announced the news on its Twitter account on Thursday: "Zo returns from injury and will play for the Lakers tomorrow," the tweet read in part.

      Ball has been sidelined since Jan. 13 due to a sprained MCL in his left knee. The rookie has missed the last 15 games.

      The Lakers said Ball was a full participant in Thursday's practice, and coach Luke Walton said the training staff will make the decision. It is expected that an official announcement will coincide with the team's Friday shootaround.

      Regardless, Ball is itching to return to action.

      "If it was up to me I'd be playing," Ball told reporters, "but I gotta get the clearance from (the training staff)."

      Forward Brandon Ingram is ready to see Ball back on the floor.

      "It's gonna be really fun to have him out there pushing the basketball and putting guys in different spots and giving confidence to other guys," Ingram told ESPN.com. "It's just gonna make our offense even better."

      Ball is averaging 10.2 points, 7.1 rebounds and 7.1 assists in 36 games.

      --Field Level Media

  • Celtics expect Smart to play Friday
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, February 22, 2018

    Marcus Smart plans to play Friday for the first time since January 23, when he was injured "swiping" a picture frame off the wall.

    • Smart practiced with the Boston Celtics on Wednesday and said he's ready to go Friday against the Detroit Pistons.

      Smart, who missed 12 games, punched a picture frame on the wall in his Los Angeles hotel room, causing a deep laceration on right hand. Smart required stitches and needed several weeks to fully heal.

      He revealed Wednesday that the injury was close to being a more severe issue. Smart said he was told the injury was perilously close to be a season-ender.

      "I'm sure he'd second this; it wasn't a good move," coach Brad Stevens said. "You don't want to put yourself in that risk, but luckily nothing beyond what happened, happened. His hand is a lot better and that's obviously encouraging. You don't want anyone to pay any more than he did with regard to time missed, time away. He does want to play, he's a guy who really likes to play, he's a good teammate."

      --Field Level Media

  • Popovich: Spurs will be 'surprised' if Leonard plays this season
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, February 22, 2018

    Pain management is the issue for Kawhi Leonard, and head coach Gregg Popovich is not expecting to see his best player back on the court with the San Antonio Spurs this season.

    • "I'd be surprised if he returns this season," Popovich said on Wednesday.

      Leonard has been medically cleared to return from his right quad tendinopathy. However, Leonard is not yet ready to get back on the court.

      "Well, we only have X number of games left in the season and he's still not ready to go," Popovich said. "If by some chance he is it's going to be pretty late into the season and it'll be a tough decision how late you bring somebody back. That's why I'm trying to be honest and logical. I'll be surprised if he gets back this year."

      Leonard spent 10 days in New York prior to the All-Star break consulting with a specialist for a second opinion on the injury, according to the report. He recently worked out at the National Basketball Players Association headquarters in Manhattan and was accompanied by Spurs personnel to New York.

      Leonard made his season debut Dec. 12 but played only nine games. The Spurs announced Jan. 17 that he would be out indefinitely.

      The two-time All-Star, who finished third in MVP voting last season, is averaging 16.2 points and 4.7 rebounds this season.

      "We've got to move on," Popovich told reporters Wednesday at the team's practice. "The team has to realize that this is who we are, this is who we have. ... Wishing and hoping doesn't do anybody any good."

      Popovich did not say the team was officially ruling the two-time NBA defensive player of the year out for the remainder of the season.

      Following a strong start to the season, the Spurs have struggled. San Antonio (35-24) entered the All-Star break just 10-13 in its past 23 games but still in third place in the Western Conference.

      --Field Level Media

  • Plumlee set to rejoin Nuggets; Millsap close behind, too
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, February 22, 2018

    Two injured Denver Nuggets forwards returned to practice Wednesday with the All-Star break winding down.

    • Paul Millsap, sidelined since having left wrist surgery in November, isn't certain of his return date, but Mason Plumlee, out since late January with a calf injury, expects to play Friday when the Nuggets return to action against the visiting San Antonio Spurs.

      "It's just great to have those guys back," coach Michael Malone told the Denver Post. "We'll figure out who plays and when they play, but being healthy with 24 games to go (is) a good thing to be."

      Millsap probably won't play this week, and his initial action likely will be as a sub, the Post reported.

      "Hopefully (I can play) pretty soon," Millsap said. "It feels good now. We'll see how it feels in the morning or after (Thursday's) practice, and we'll go from there. My intention was to come right back after the All-Star break and get into it, but we have to be smart about it. This was my first practice today, full contact, and I have to be smart about my wrist and my body."

      Millsap was an All-Star each of the past four seasons while playing for the Atlanta Hawks before signing with Denver as a free agent last July. Through 16 games for the Nuggets, he is averaging 15.3 points, 6.2 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.3 blocks and 1.1 steals.

      Plumlee, in his second season with Denver, has played 50 games this season, making 26 starts. He is averaging 7.4 points, 6.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.2 blocks.

      Malone acknowledged that reintroducing Millsap and Plumlee to the rotation could involve a delicate balance with the Nuggets on a hot streak. Denver won six of its last seven games before the break, posting a minimum of 115 points in those six victories.

      "It's a good thing. It's also a challenging thing," Malone said of the return of Millsap and Plumlee. "You look at our offensive numbers in the month of February -- I've never seen numbers like that. Now, unfortunately, our defensive numbers are just as bad as our offense is good. That's where you miss Mason and Paul. People don't understand the impact both of those guys have."

      --Field Level Media

  • Nowitzki 'disgusted' by accusations against Mavs
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, February 22, 2018

    Dirk Nowitzki, who holds virtually every career record in Dallas Mavericks history, said he was stunned to hear accusations of serial sexual harassment in the team's offices.

    • Sports Illustrated reported Tuesday that numerous female employees were propositioned, verbally mistreated and touched inappropriately by former Mavericks president and CEO Terdema Ussery. The club fired human resources director Buddy Pittman this week after hearing that employees said Pittman was unresponsive in relation to charges against Ussery.

      The Mavericks also fired a website employee who was involved in two domestic-violence incidents.

      Nowitzki, a 39-year-old forward who is in his 20th season with the team, spoke about the situation following the Mavericks' practice Wednesday in Los Angeles at the University of Southern California.

      "It's tough. It's very disappointing. It's heartbreaking," he said. "I'm glad it's all coming out. I was disgusted when I read the article, obviously, as everybody was. I was shocked about some of the stuff. ...

      "Really, really disappointed that our franchise, that my franchise, that stuff like that was going on. It's very sad and disappointing. But I think (Mavericks owner Mark Cuban) is trying to step up and lead this franchise to the right direction, and that is hiring investigators, finding out all the little details that we have to know as a franchise what really was going on. I think Mark is going to step up here ...

      "As a franchise, obviously, we feel bad for the victims and for what happened to some of these ladies. Like I said, it's truly, truly disgusting. Our thoughts and prayers are definitely with some of these victims."

      Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle added Wednesday, "First of all, I'm grateful we live in a place in time where people have the courage to speak up about things like this. I also have a 13-year-old daughter, and I want her to know that it's both brave and safe to speak out, and that's very important to me, and it should be important to everybody."

      The team's investigation will be headed by Evan Krutoy, a former Manhattan prosecutor, and Anne Milgram, a former New Jersey attorney general.

      "What I can tell you is there is going to be a thorough investigation into this from an outside group led by two people at the top of their profession," Carlisle said. "Their findings are going to go directly to Mark Cuban and (NBA commissioner) Adam Silver, and the Mavericks will abide by whatever recommendations are made.

      "I can tell you that when it comes to anything involving the Mavericks, Mark Cuban is a strong believer in extreme ownership, extreme accountability."

      Earlier Wednesday, Cuban told ESPN that he was solely responsible for keeping former Mavericks.com reporter Earl K. Sneed on the team's payroll. Sneed pleaded guilty to assaulting his girlfriend in 2012, then was accused of hitting a separate female co-worker in 2014, according to the SI report.

      --Field Level Media

  • Former Mavs CEO accused of sexual harassment
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, February 21, 2018

    Terdema Ussery, the former president and CEO of the Dallas Mavericks, was accused by numerous women of sexual harassment during his time with the team.

    • In a report by Sports Illustrated released Tuesday night, women detailed accounts of Ussery making untoward verbal and physical advances during his time with the Mavericks from 1997-2015.

      Mavericks owner Mark Cuban responded to the allegations by firing human resources director Buddy Pittman. The team also let go Mavs.com writer and TV announcer Earl K. Sneed.

      SI reported that Pittman was unresponsive to accusations against Ussery, even though Pittman was brought into the company after prior reports of harassment by the CEO in 1998.

      Sneed pleaded guilty to assaulting his girlfriend in 2012, then was accused of hitting a separate female co-worker in 2014, according to the SI report.

      The team issued a statement Tuesday: "The Dallas Mavericks have received information about behavior in our workplace that appears to have violated the organization's standards of conduct. It has been alleged that a former officer of the organization engaged in various acts of inappropriate conduct toward women over a period of years.

      "This individual left the employment of the Mavericks nearly three years ago and the Mavericks have only learned of the scope of these complaints in the past days. ...

      "The Mavericks organization takes these allegations extremely seriously. ... The investigation will focus on the specific allegations related to this former employee, and will look more broadly at our company's workplace practices and policies."

      Team owner Mark Cuban told SI he was unaware of Ussery's alleged conduct.

      "It's wrong. It's abhorrent. It's not a situation we condone," Cuban said to SI. "I can't tell you how many times, particularly since all this (#MeToo) stuff has been coming out recently I asked our HR director, 'Do we have a problem? Do we have any issues I have to be aware of?' And the answer was no."

      The NBA issued a statement that read: "The Dallas Mavericks have informed us of the allegations involving former team president Terdema Ussery and Mavs.com writer Earl Sneed. This alleged conduct runs counter to the steadfast commitment of the NBA and its teams to foster safe, respectful and welcoming workplaces for all employees. Such behavior is completely unacceptable and we will closely monitor the independent investigation into this matter."

      Ussery denied the allegations Tuesday in a statement to SI.

      "I am deeply disappointed that anonymous sources have made such outright false and inflammatory accusations against me," he said. "During my career with the Mavericks, I have strived to conduct myself with character, integrity and empathy for others. During my nearly 20 year tenure with the Mavericks, I am not aware of any sexual harassment complaints about me or any findings by the organization that I engaged in inappropriate conduct.

      "In fact, on multiple occasions I and other senior executives at the organization raised concerns -- both in person and in emails -- about other Mavericks employees who had engaged in highly inappropriate -- and in some cases, threatening -- sexual conduct. The organization refused to address these concerns, and I believe these misleading claims about me are part of an attempt to shift blame for the failure to remove employees who created an uncomfortable and hostile work environment within the Mavericks organization."

      One of the women accusing Ussery of harassment said the culture in the team's office was intolerable, but she had no problems when dealing with Mavericks players.

      Ussery, a former lawyer, was the commissioner of the Continental Basketball Association before joining the Mavericks. After leaving Dallas, he took a position at Under Armour in 2015 but lasted less than two months before he and the company parted ways. SI reported that he sexually harassed a woman at Under Armour, too.

      --Field Level Media

  • Felicio, Nwaba will start as Bulls continue youth movement
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, February 20, 2018

    The Chicago Bulls are fully committing to a youth movement, benching veteran starters Robin Lopez and Justin Holiday in favor of Cristiano Felicio and David Nwaba, the team's executive vice president John Paxson explained on Tuesday.

    • Reserve guard Cameron Payne will also see time as the backup point guard with Jerian Grant dropping out of the regular playing rotation. Payne is set to make his season debut Thursday against the Philadelphia 76ers as he returns from foot surgery.

      Paxson said that the reconfigured rotation will stand for "a sufficient time," according to the Chicago Tribune.

      "You can't play 12 guys in our game. Nine or 10 is the most. And it's just the position we're in as a young team, 20-37, with a lot of young guys and several who we haven't really had the chance to see play much this year," Paxson told the Tribune. "For us to make the proper evaluation in terms of who fits us moving forward, this is something we have to do."

      Nwaba, 25, is averaging 6.8 points and 4.2 rebounds in 45 games this season, including three starts.

      Felicio, 25, is averaging 3.8 points and 2.7 rebounds in 31 games. He has struggled to earn playing time this season after signing a four-year, $32 million contract in July.

      Felicio and Nwaba will join Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine and rookie Lauri Markkanen in the starting lineup as the Bulls take an extended look at their young core in their final 25 regular-season games.

      The Bulls acquired Dunn, LaVine and Markkanen in draft-night trade last June that sent All-Star Jimmy Butler to the Minnesota Timberwolves and signaled a massive shift in direction for the organization. The decision to bench starters in favor of young players that were stuck outside of the rotation is the next step in the process as the Bulls continue to evaluate the roster in the post-Butler era.

      "It's not a tryout. It's to learn," Paxson told reporters. "What you hope for from a player standpoint is they gain some confidence in who they are, get comfortable on the floor and play well. I still think we have a lot of really good young talent.

      "I think the exciting thing for us is for the first time we're going to have a healthy Zach, Lauri and Kris. They're obviously the core."

      --Field Level Media

  • NBA notebook: Hornets fire GM Cho
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, February 20, 2018

    Hornets owner Michael Jordan fired general manager Rich Cho and will seek a replacement in a restructure of the Charlotte front office immediately.

    • According to ESPN, the Hornets plan to pursue former Los Angeles Lakers' personnel boss Mitch Kupchak. Jordan hired Cho in 2011 after only one year as general manager of the Portland Trail Blazers.

      Per ESPN, the vision of the front-office structure would be a combined effort between Kupchak and assistant general manager Buzz Peterson. Jordan, Kupchak and Peterson all attended the University of North Carolina, where Jordan and Peterson were roommates.

      Cho entered the NBA as an intern with the Seattle SuperSonics in 1995.

      --Giannis Antetokounmpo stressed rest during All-Star weekend in Los Angeles and repeated a desire for more of the same this week in Milwaukee.

      Idle until Friday, the All-Star forward has a good reason for wanting to put his feet up: a right knee that continues to flare up. In an interview with Eurohoops TV, Antetokounmpo said doctors told him the issue is a lack of rest. Antetokounmpo is second in the NBA in minutes played at 37 per game.

      "The problem is that I play too much," he said. "It's just that I have to rest more. This summer I had no time to rest. After the playoffs I went straight to the gym. I went to see (my younger brother) Kostas and practiced for about a week and a half with him. I didn't have any rest, and that's how, um ... the situation deteriorated. After this season I will have time to rest."

      --Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said his team is tanking the 2017-18 season.

      Cuban, appearing on the House Call with Dr. J podcast, said he sat down with several players to explain why the best option for this year was not winning. The Mavericks are 18-40 at the All-Star break, which stands as the third-worst record in the league.

      "I'm probably not supposed to say this, but, like, I just had dinner with a bunch of our guys the other night, and here we are, you know, we weren't competing for the playoffs. I was like, 'Look, losing is our best option,'" Cuban said. "(Commissioner) Adam (Silver) would hate hearing that, but I at least sat down and I explained it to them. And I explained what our plans were going to be this summer, that we're not going to tank again. This was, like, a year-and-a-half tanking, and that was too brutal for me. But being transparent, I think that's the key to being kind of a players owner and having stability."

      --Field Level Media

  • Bucks' Antetokounmpo on knee issues: 'I play too much'
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, February 20, 2018

    Giannis Antetokounmpo stressed rest during All-Star weekend in Los Angeles and repeated a desire for more of the same this week in Milwaukee.

    • Idle until Friday, the All-Star forward has a good reason for wanting to put his feet up: a right knee that continues to flare up.

      In an interview with Eurohoops TV, Antetokounmpo said doctors told him the issue is a lack of rest. Antetokounmpo is second in the NBA in minutes played at 37 per game.

      "The problem is that I play too much," he said. "It's just that I have to rest more. This summer I had no time to rest. After the playoffs I went straight to the gym. I went to see (my younger brother) Kostas and practiced for about a week and a half with him. I didn't have any rest, and that's how, um ... the situation deteriorated. After this season I will have time to rest."

      Antetokounmpo, who missed two games in January to manage his knee discomfort, did not put blame on the Bucks. He said the cumulative impact goes well beyond the regular season work of the NBA.

      Since the coaching change from Jason Kidd to Joe Prunty, Antetokounmpo is averaging 35.4 minutes per game.

      --Field Level Media

  • Hornets fire GM Cho, Kupchak expected to be candidate
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, February 20, 2018

    Hornets owner Michael Jordan fired general manager Rich Cho and will seek a replacement in a restructure of the Charlotte front office immediately.

    • According to ESPN, the Hornets plan to pursue former Los Angeles Lakers' personnel boss Mitch Kupchak.

      Jordan hired Cho in 2011 after only one year as general manager of the Portland Trail Blazers.

      Per ESPN, the vision of the front-office structure would be a combined effort between Kupchak and assistant general manager Buzz Peterson.

      Jordan, Kupchak and Peterson all attended the University of North Carolina, where Jordan and Peterson were roommates.

      Cho entered the NBA as an intern with the Seattle SuperSonics in 1995.

      --Field Level Media

  • Cuban confession: Mavs are tanking season
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, February 20, 2018

    Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said his team is tanking the 2017-18 season.

    • Cuban, appearing on the House Call with Dr. J podcast, said he sat down with several players to explain why the best option for this year was not winning.

      "I'm probably not supposed to say this, but, like, I just had dinner with a bunch of our guys the other night, and here we are, you know, we weren't competing for the playoffs. I was like, 'Look, losing is our best option,'" Cuban said. "(Commissioner) Adam (Silver) would hate hearing that, but I at least sat down and I explained it to them. And I explained what our plans were going to be this summer, that we're not going to tank again. This was, like, a year-and-a-half tanking, and that was too brutal for me. But being transparent, I think that's the key to being kind of a players owner and having stability."

      The Mavericks are 18-40 at the All-Star break, which stands as the third-worst record in the league. Only the Atlanta Hawks and Phoenix Suns have a winning percentage worse than the Mavericks' .310 mark.

      The team finishing with the worst record will have a 25 percent chance of landing the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA draft in June.

      The second-worst team has a 19.9 percent chance and the team with the third-worst record has a 15.6 percent chance at the top pick.

      Silver and NBA owners voted to approve anti-tanking measures that go into effect for the 2019 draft, whereby the three teams with the worst regular-season records will all have a 14 percent chance of winning the lottery and landing the No. 1 pick.

      Cuban said tanking is "brutal" especially for the team's veterans.

      Dallas finished 33-49 last season and drafted ninth, selecting point guard Dennis Smith Jr.

      --Field Level Media

  • Former Spurs' post Splitter announces retirement
    By Field Level Media / Monday, February 19, 2018

    Tiago Splitter, a starter on the 2014 NBA title-winning San Antonio Spurs, announced his retirement on Monday.

    • The 33-year-old Splitter hasn't been on an NBA roster since the 2016-17 season. The center/forward played seven NBA campaigns.

      "There's nothing better in the world than being a basketball player! The time has come, perhaps the most difficult in an athlete's career, time to say goodbye to the courts. I say goodbye with a broken heart but in the certainty of duty. Thank you all," Splitter said on Twitter.

      Splitter started 153 NBA games, and 151 of them came during his five seasons with the Spurs. He posted career-best averages of 10.3 points and 6.4 rebounds in 2012-13, the season San Antonio lost to the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals.

      The following season, he averaged 8.2 points and 6.2 rebounds as the Spurs downed Miami in the 2014 Finals.

      Splitter also played for the Atlanta Hawks and Philadelphia 76ers. He averaged 7.9 points and 5.0 rebounds in 355 career appearances.

      --Field Level Media

  • NBA commissioner expects All-Star draft to be televised next season
    By Field Level Media / Monday, February 19, 2018

    Fresh off the success of All-Star Game Weekend, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said on Sunday that the player draft next year will likely be televised.

    • Speaking with ESPN's Ramona Shelburne from Staples Center in Los Angeles, Silver said:

      "When we sat with the union and we came up with this format, we all agreed, let's not turn something that's 100 percent positive into a potential negative to any player. But then ... maybe we're overly conservative, because then we came out of there, and the players were, 'We can take it. We're All-Stars. Let's have a draft.' So it sounds like we're going to have a televised draft next year."

      Under the new format, implemented this year, fans voted for the five starters from each conference, as they had in the past. But from there, the top vote getter from each conference (LeBron James and Steph Curry this season) drafted teams from a pool of the other starters and the reserves selected by NBA head coaches.

      But the draft itself was not televised, which led to speculation as to which players were drafted first and which were drafted last.

      All-Star DeMar DeRozan of the Toronto Raptors was much more up-front with his opinion about showing the draft:

      "Televise it," he said. "Give the people what they want to see. I think everybody wants to see it. At the end of the day, every single person that gets picked, you are an All-Star, so it doesn't matter where you really go, so I think televise it."

      According to ESPN, James did reveal the order of the starters he selected: Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis, former Cleveland teammate Kyrie Irving and DeMarcus Cousins. Cousins missed the game because of a season-ending Achilles injury.

      James was named MVP of the game Sunday night after his team topped Curry's team 148-145. He scored the game-winning bucket with less than 35 seconds left in the game.

      --Field Level Media

  • Wolves' Butler opts for rest over All-Star action
    By Field Level Media / Monday, February 19, 2018

    Jimmy Butler, the only active player who did not appear in the NBA All-Star Game on Sunday, sat at his own request.

    • The Minnesota Timberwolves swingman never got off the bench for Team Stephen, which lost 145-142 to Team LeBron at Staples Center in Los Angeles.

      Asked to explain why he didn't play, Butler said, according to NBC Sports, "Rest. I have to rest. I have to rest my body up. This Timberwolves season is very, very important to me. I've got to make sure I'm ready to roll when I get back there."

      Butler leads the league in minutes per game, 37.3, just ahead of the Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James and the Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo, who are both averaging 37.0 minutes.

      Last Thursday, in the Timberwolves' home win over the Los Angeles Lakers, Butler scored 24 points in 41 minutes. Minnesota won't return to action following the All-Star break until a Friday game at Houston.

      In his first season with the Timberwolves, Butler is averaging 22.4 points, 5.5 rebounds and 5.0 assists in 55 games. He missed two games in October due to an illness, and he sat out four games in late January because of a sore right knee.

      Butler, 28, spent his first six NBA seasons with the Bulls after Chicago made him a first-round pick (No. 30 overall) in 2011 out of Marquette. He was dealt to Minnesota on draft night last year along with the 16th overall pick (Justin Patton) in exchange for the seventh overall pick (Lauri Markkanen) as well as Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn.

      In 454 career NBA games (349 starts), Butler is averaging 16.5 points, 4.9 rebounds and 3.4 assists.

      --Field Level Media

  • MVP James backs new All-Star format
    By Field Level Media / Monday, February 19, 2018

    The NBA All-Star Game format was all new Sunday, but the end result of LeBron James holding a Most Valuable Player trophy was a familiar sight.

    • James scored 29 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and handed out eight assists to lead his handpicked Team LeBron to a 148-145 win over Stephen Curry's Team Stephen in the All-Star Game at Staples Center in Los Angeles.

      The NBA this year abandoned the traditional All-Star format, Western Conference players against Eastern Conference players, to allow the top two vote-getters, James and Curry, to choose their sides. The game featured far more defense than it did the past two years, when the West won 196-173 in 2016 and 192-182 in 2017.

      "(The new format) worked out not only for the players, not only for the league, but for our fans, for everybody," James said. "It was a great weekend, and we capped it off the right way. It had a real-game feel to it. Steph and I took it upon ourselves to change the landscape of the game."

      James, 33, captured All-Star MVP honors for the third time, adding to his awards in 2006 and 2008. The only other players in NBA history with at least three All-Star MVP awards are Bob Petit (four), Kobe Bryant (four), Oscar Robertson (three), Michael Jordan (three) and Shaquille O'Neal (three).

      "From my very first All-Star up until now, I just try to get better and better and not only show myself but show my peers and show everybody that I belong," the Cleveland Cavaliers star said. "It's always been my fans who voted me in.

      "For 14 straight years, my fans have voted me in as an All-Star starter, and it's been up to me to go out and let them know and show them, listen, I appreciate that and here's what I'm going to give to you every time you vote me in."

      James' dedication to the game was typified by the final play. With James' team up by three in the final seconds, Curry got the ball in the corner and was double-teamed by his Golden State Warriors teammate, Kevin Durant, and James. Curry finally dished the ball to DeMar DeRozan, who couldn't get off a shot before the buzzer.

      "That was great defense by myself," Durant joked. "I'm patting myself on the back."

      --Field Level Media

  • 76ers' Redick: I didn't say what people think I said
    By Field Level Media / Sunday, February 18, 2018

    Philadelphia 76ers guard J.J. Redick said he was "tongue tied" in a video in which he appeared to use a racial slur while wishing Chinese fans a happy new year.

    • The video features multiple NBA players acknowledging the Feb. 16 celebration. When it gets to Redick, 33, he appears to slip up by using a word widely regarded as offensive to people of Chinese heritage.

      "Clearly I was tongue tied as the word I purportedly said is not in my vocabulary," he wrote on Twitter. "I'm disappointed that anyone would think I would use that word. I love and respect our friends in China."

      The video was made by the Chinese media company Tencent and a reworked version of the video without Redick was released.

      The NBA had not issued a statement on the controversy as of mid-afternoon Sunday.

      Redick is in his 12th pro season and is averaging a career-high 16.9 points in his first season with the 76ers.

      --Field Level Media