No lowering of Pacers’ expectations for life without George
admin • August 13, 2014 • 2965
FILE PHOTO: December 1, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Indiana Pacers small forward Paul George (24) controls the ball against the defense of Los Angeles Clippers shooting guard Reggie Bullock (25) during the first half at Staples Center. Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
(Reuters) – The Indiana Pacers are not counting on injured All-Star forward Paul George returning to action next season but said on Tuesday their expectations for team success will remain as high as ever.
George, who led Indiana to last season’s Eastern Conference finals, is recovering from surgery to repair a badly broken leg he suffered earlier this month and there is no indication yet on how long he will take to make a full recovery.
“You can’t just replace Paul George,” Pacers president of basketball operations Larry Bird said during a news conference. “Are our expectations lowered any? I don’t think so.
“We’re going to compete hard, we’re going to do our best to make the playoffs and just compete on a consistent basis. We’re going to put a competitive team out there. We think we’re going to play hard and develop our young guys.
“Everyone’s going to get an opportunity to show us what they can do. I think we’ll be an exciting team. We have a lot of things to look forward to. My goal is to win as many games as we possibly can and get in the playoffs.”
Twice All-Star George, 24, suffered an open fracture of the tibia and fibula bones in his lower right leg while playing in a USA Basketball practice game in Las Vegas on Aug. 1.
He collided against the bottom of the basketball stanchion while contesting a layup attempt by James Harden, and had surgery in a Las Vegas hospital the following day before returning home on Aug. 5 to recover.
For the moment, the Pacers are assuming he will be back in action for the team for the 2015-16 season with anything earlier a bonus.
“No one’s told us he’ll be out for the entire year, but … we’re sort of expecting him to be out for the whole year,” said Bird, a Hall of Famer who was a 12-time All-Star for the Boston Celtics.
“If he can play he’s going to play. We’ll just see how it goes. It’s going to be up to our doctors, our medical staff and Paul, but we would never put him in a situation where he’d be uncomfortable.”
Meanwhile, the Pacers will be building a team around their core players – George Hill, Roy Hibbert and David West – and others, such as Solomon Hill, C.J. Miles and Rodney Stuckey.
They have become perennial contenders in the playoffs since 2011 and ended the 2013-14 regular season with a 56-26 record before being eliminated from the postseason by the Miami Heat in the conference finals for a second straight year.
“We have a winning culture here,” said Pacers coach Frank Vogel. “I think we’re going to surprise some teams. Those fans who think the season is over before it starts are very wrong.
“I think they’re going to be pleasantly surprised with the grit and toughness we play with this year. I think we’re going to be able to compete with the best.”
Paul George outgunned James Harden in a matchup of MVP candidates, and the Oklahoma City Thunder erased a 26-point deficit to escape with a 117-112 win over the host Houston Rockets on Saturday.
George finished with a game-high 45 points plus 11 rebounds, torching the Houston defense with six 3-pointers plus 15-for-18 free throws.
Westbrook matched an NBA record set by Wilt Chamberlain with his ninth consecutive triple-double: 21 points, 12 rebounds, and 11 assists. The Thunder posted a 53-39 edge on the glass.
Harden totaled 42 points, his 29th consecutive game with at least 30, but he missed a contested 3-pointer after Westbrook pushed the Thunder ahead.
Clippers 123, Celtics 112
Landry Shamet made four 3-pointers in the fourth quarter and scored 17 points off the bench in his debut for Los Angeles, which rallied from a 28-point deficit to knock off host Boston.
It’s the third time in the past five games the Clippers have come from at least 20 points down to win, with the 28-point rally setting a franchise record. It was also the largest comeback by any NBA team in the last two seasons.
Montrezl Harrell led Los Angeles with 21 points off the bench, and Danilo Gallinari had 19 points and 10 rebounds. Gordon Hayward scored 19 points off the bench to lead the Celtics, who lost leading scorer Kyrie Irving to a right knee sprain with about four minutes left in the first half.
Hornets 129, Hawks 120
Kemba Walker was 13-for-27 from the field and 9-for-17 on 3-pointers in reaching the 30-point mark for the fourth straight game, scoring 37 as Charlotte defeated host Atlanta.
It was the 40th time that Walker has topped 20 points and the 17th time he’s scored at least 30 this season. He added seven assists.
Charlotte’s Marvin Williams came back to haunt his former team with 27 points. Atlanta was led by John Collins with 21 points, and rookie Trae Young added 20 points and 11 assists.
Pacers 105, Cavaliers 90
Bojan Bogdanovic led a balanced offense with 23 points, the fifth time in his last six games he has topped 20 points, as host Indiana avenged a home loss in December to the Cavaliers.
Cory Joseph came off the bench to finish with 10 points, nine rebounds and 10 assists. Domantas Sabonis did not score in the first half, but finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds, also off the bench
Reserve Jordan Clarkson scored 18 points to lead Cleveland, which has lost four straight and 10 of its last 12.
Grizzlies 99, Pelicans 90
Joakim Noah had 19 points and 14 rebounds as host Memphis, playing its first home game since making two trades at Thursday’s deadline, defeated New Orleans.
Justin Holiday added 15 points, rookie Jaren Jackson Jr. scored 14, newcomer CJ Miles had 13, Mike Conley 11 and Ivan Rabb 10. Miles and Delon Wright, who were part of the trade that sent Marc Gasol to Toronto, made their debuts, as did guard Avery Bradley, who was acquired in a separate deal with the Clippers.
Julius Randle led the Pelicans with 21 points, Jrue Holiday had 15, Anthony Davis had 14 points and 16 rebounds and rookie Kenrich Williams had 10 points and 13 rebounds.
Wizards 134, Bulls 125
Jabari Parker and Bobby Portis made a triumphant return to Chicago, helping Washington win its second straight game.
The meeting was the first since Washington acquired Parker and Portis from Chicago at the trade deadline for Otto Porter Jr. All three played significant roles when their two new clubs won the front end of back-to-backs on Friday, with the Wizards beating Cleveland at home, while the Bulls surprised Brooklyn on the road.
Parker had 20 points, and Portis had a game-high 12 rebounds in Saturday’s win, during which the Wizards built a 15-point lead in the first half and kept the Bulls at arm’s length the rest of the way. Porter, who made a pair of 3-pointers, finished with 17 points for Chicago.
Raptors 104, Knicks 99
Kyle Lowry scored a game-high 22 points and hit a 3-pointer with 7:03 remaining that gave Toronto the lead for good in fending off host New York.
Serge Ibaka registered a double-double (15 points and 13 rebounds) for the Raptors, who have won four consecutive games. Marc Gasol, playing his first game for the Raptors since he was acquired from the Memphis Grizzlies on Thursday, scored seven points and pulled down six rebounds in 19 minutes as a reserve.
Kevin Knox scored 20 points, and DeAndre Jordan posted a double-double with 10 points and 18 rebounds for the Knicks, who tied a franchise record by losing their 16th straight game.
Jazz 125, Spurs 105
Donovan Mitchell scored 23 points and Rudy Gobert added 21 points and 13 rebounds to lead host Utah to its second straight win while sending San Antonio to its fourth straight loss in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Royce O’Neale matched his season-high with 17 points off the bench as the Jazz had six players score in double figures.
DeMar DeRozan scored 23 points and LaMarcus Aldridge added 15 to lead the Spurs.
Magic 103, Bucks 83
Orlando took advantage of the absence of Giannis Antetokounmpo, snapping host Milwaukee’s six-game winning streak.
Jonathan Isaac led the Magic in scoring for the first time this season with 17 points. Eric Bledoe led Milwaukee with 19 points, 11 rebounds and five assists, and Malcolm Brogdon added 14 points. It was Milwaukee’s most lopsided loss and the fewest points they’ve scored all season.
Orlando has won four of its last five and is now 2 1/2 games out of the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference.
Kyrie Irving racked up 30 points and 11 assists to lead the Boston Celtics to a 134-129 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder at home on Sunday.
The win was the fourth consecutive and the ninth in the last 10 for the Celtics. The Thunder’s seven-game winning streak was snapped.
Paul George led the Thunder with 37 points but was just 5 of 16 from behind the 3-point line.
Irving hit a critical floater with 23 seconds remaining with the Celtics clinging to a two-point lead. He drove past Terrance Ferguson, and let go of the floater over the outstretched arms of Thunder 7-footer Steven Adams. Russell Westbrook, coming over to help, got his finger on the shot, but it fell through the basket to extend Boston’s lead.
Westbrook had a monster game once again — 22 points, 16 assists and 12 rebounds — but his critical turnover with 8.1 seconds left and Oklahoma City down by two helped Boston escape with the win.
The Thunder got a 3-pointer from Jerami Grant right after Irving’s floater, then got the ball back after Jayson Tatum missed the second of two free throws to keep Oklahoma City’s hopes alive.
But Westbrook lost the ball charging toward the basket, and Tatum made both free throws at the other end.
Westbrook had his sixth consecutive triple-double and his 19th this season. Westbrook now has three streaks of six or more consecutive triple-doubles in his career.
Marcus Smart hit big shot after big shot to lift the Celtics to the lead for the final time.
With just less than seven minutes remaining in the third, Oklahoma City took the lead before Boston roared back. Smart hit a 3-pointer on the ensuing possession to ignite a 14-0 run that lasted more than three minutes. It was one of three 3-pointers Smart hit during the stretch.
Irving was 14 of 19 from the field in the win. Eight players scored in double figures for Boston
Boston was without center Aron Baynes, who missed the game with a left foot contusion. Baynes, who missed 13 games earlier this season with a broken hand, will miss “a few weeks,” he told reporters before the game.
Apr 3, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets forward Clint Capela (15) gets a rebound away from Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kyle Singler (5) during the third quarter at Toyota Center. The Rockets won 118-110. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports / Reuters
The standoff between the Houston Rockets and restricted free agent center Clint Capela appears over, as Capela signed a five-year, $90 million contract with the club, ESPN reported Friday.
As a restricted free agent, Capela could have signed the team’s $4.3 million qualifying offer and reached free agency in July 2019. But he had not yet signed it, instead holding out hopes for a deal in the $100 million range, putting him on par with Thunder big man Steven Adams (four years, $100 million) and Jazz eraser Rudy Gobert (four years, $102 million).
Capela is a strong defensive presence, and keeping him was essential for the Rockets, who already lost wings Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute to free agency.
The 6-foot-10 Capela, the No. 25 overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, averaged 13.9 points, 10.8 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game in 74 games last season.
—New York Knicks coach David Fizdale traveled to All-Star forward Kristaps Porzingis’ native Latvia to get to know his franchise player and to see how his rehab from major knee surgery is progressing. Porzingis tore the ACL in his left knee on Feb. 6 and isn’t expected back until December.
“We’ve talked about his rehab. We’ve talked about how we want to play, our style of play. Talked a lot about the culture that we’re building,” the new Knicks coach told Latvian television network LSM. “We wanna make sure that he comes back strong and healthy and we don’t want to rush it. We’ve had some really good conversations.”
The 7-foot-3 Porzingis, who turns 23 on Thursday, also is eligible for a five-year, $157 million contract extension. Talks haven’t progressed and may not until after Porzingis has recovered from the ACL tear.
—Once again, Devin Harris is a Dallas Maverick. Yahoo Sports reported that the veteran point guard, 35, agreed to a one-year, veteran minimum deal with the club.
Harris, 35, was traded from Dallas to the Denver Nuggets in February, but the team is bringing him back after losing Yogi Ferrell in free agency. The fifth overall pick in the 2004 NBA Draft, Harris was traded on draft night to Dallas, where he spent the first four years of his career.
He was traded to the New Jersey Nets in 2008, but returned to Dallas in 2013 as a free agent.
—California native Paul George explained to USA Today Sports why he never even bothered to meet with Lakers president Magic Johnson and instead re-signed with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
“The reason why I didn’t (take a meeting) is that coming down to free agency and before it was about to open (on July 1), I felt really good where I was at,” said George, who signed a four-year agreement worth $137 million with the Thunder.
“I felt I was in a good place with Oklahoma. I wanted to come back to LA. That story was true. The narrative on that was true. That’s where my heart was. But this year, being in Oklahoma, I felt really good about the situation, I felt really good going forward, and I didn’t want to waste nobody’s time and take a meeting. … I felt great where we were at, so I decided to do it early, to get it over with, and start to build.”
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