Marc J. Spears
- Marc J. Spears at Yahoo Sports4 hrs ago
1. San Antonio Spurs (62-20; last week's ranking: 1): The Spurs have so far impressively responded from their loss in the 2013 NBA Finals. Now, they'll try to use that disappointment as fuel for the playoffs.
2. Oklahoma City Thunder (59-23; last week's ranking: 2): Kevin Durant averaged a career-best 32 points this season. He averaged 30.8 in four games against the Grizzlies.
3. Los Angeles Clippers (57-25; last week's ranking: 3): The heated rivalry between the Clippers and Warriors renews in the playoffs. The teams got testy on Christmas, and their tempers don't figure to cool down in the postseason.
4. Miami Heat (54-28; last week's ranking: 4): The reigning NBA champions enter the playoffs with one victory in their past six games. LeBron James averaged 31.1 points in April.
5. Houston Rockets (54-28; last week's ranking: 5): Houston won its season series 3-1 against first-round opponent Portland. Dwight Howard averaged 25.5 points and 13.5 rebounds against the Blazers.
- Marc J. Spears at Yahoo Sports2 days ago
OAKLAND, Calif. – The Golden State Warriors suffered a major blow to their playoff run when they learned Monday that starting center Andrew Bogut is out indefinitely with a fractured rib.
Bogut said he's been advised the rib is too close to his right lung for him to play through the pain because he would risking puncturing the lung. He originally suffered the injury against the Denver Nuggets on Thursday and it became worse in Sunday's overtime loss to the Portland Trail Blazers. He took a pain killer before Sunday's game, but the injury worsened in the fourth quarter.
"I'm going to dedicate the summer to learning how to play while avoiding contact at all costs, I guess – moving out of the way, not taking charges and not trying to block shots," Bogut said. "All of my injuries have been high-impact injuries. I put my body on the line to try to take a charge or a block a shot, and unfortunately, I've been on the tail end of them. There are some players in the league who are very good strategically at avoiding contact, so I guess I need to watch them and bring that into my game."
- Marc J. Spears at Yahoo Sports3 days ago
University of Arizona freshman forward Aaron Gordon will announce this week he's entering the 2014 NBA draft, source told Yahoo Sports.
Gordon averaged 12.4 points and eight rebounds in 31.2 minutes during his freshman year for the Wildcats. He is ranked as the eighth-best prospect in this year's draft by DraftExpress.com.
- Marc J. Spears at Yahoo Sports4 days ago
PORTLAND, Ore. – University of Kentucky-bound center Karl-Anthony Towns Jr. met with a kinesiologist last week to learn more about the field he plans on studying in college. The 7-footer, who is already on the NBA radar, walked out of the meeting also having learned he could grow three more inches.
"Growing up, I've always been that tall kid and now I can be that taller kid," Towns said. "If I could play the way I play now with that height, it would be really great."
Towns, 17, was named the 2014 Gatorade Player of the Year after averaging 21.5 points, 13.7 rebounds and 6.4 blocks as a senior this past season for St. Joseph's High School in Metuchen, N.J. The member of the Dominican Republic National Team played for the World Team during Saturday's Hoop Summit.
Towns' father said it's still undecided as to whether his son will play for the Dominican Republic in the 2014 World Cup in Spain or for Kentucky in an exhibition summer slate in Spain. It appears to be Kentucky coach John Calipari's decision.
- Marc J. Spears at Yahoo Sports5 days ago
PORTLAND, Ore. – Switzerland could soon land its second player in the NBA.
Clint Capela is expected to announce next week he's entering this year's NBA draft, sources told Yahoo Sports. He's projected to be a first-round pick and would join Oklahoma City Thunder guard Thabo Sefolosha in representing the Swiss in the league.
"I'll be happy when he gets to the NBA," Sefolosha said of Capela, who is participating for the World Team in this week's Hoop Summit. "I won't be the only one anymore. It will be real cool for basketball in Switzerland."
Sefolosha was selected with the 13th overall pick in 2006 NBA draft. He was the first player from Switzerland to be drafted and play in the NBA. Switzerland's national basketball team has only participated in the Olympics twice with the last appearance in 1948. Swiss basketball officials had hoped that Sefolosha's arrival to the NBA would spark interest in the game.
Capela, 19, wasn't well-known about 16 months ago. The Geneva native's parents are from Angola and the Congo. Capela first came on the scene as a member of the Swiss national team in the 2013 Eurobasket tournament.
- Marc J. Spears at Yahoo Sports6 days ago
PORTLAND, Ore. – Led by Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, Julius Randle, Joel Embiid and Aaron Gordon, the Class of 2013 was the most heralded and hyped prep basketball group in years. The aforementioned pretty much lived up to the billing and are now projected top picks in this year's NBA draft.
Meanwhile, the Class of 2014 fell under its predecessor's shadow. But despite the lack of fanfare, could this year's class led by only one nationally familiar name actually be as good or possibly even better?
"I don't know if it's as good as last year, but it's underrated," one NBA scout said. "I don't think it's that big of a drop off. Last year there were five or seven players like, 'Wow.' There are probably four or five this year, and that's still pretty impressive."
Said another NBA scout: "They have the potential to supersede last year's class."
- Marc J. Spears at Yahoo Sports6 days ago
Russell Westbrook has always played angry. Since he's returned from his knee injury, he's played even more mad.
"For anybody who gets hurt, you come back with a bigger shovel," Westbrook said. "You want to compete, come back better and compete at the level before you got hurt.
"It's made me even more meaner. But that's normal for me."
Westbrook never missed a game during his first five NBA seasons. He quickly built a reputation as one of the NBA's most confident scorers despite playing alongside Kevin Durant. Westbrook was often criticized for being too offensive-minded as a point guard, but he also often said he didn't care what his critics thought.
Knee injuries eventually forced Westbrook to the sideline, the first of which knocked him out of last season's playoffs. He's had three procedures on his right knee since the initial injury. Sidelined for 35 games this season, he has been forced to watch the Thunder mostly succeed without him. He said that's helped him learn what style of play is best for him and the team. He now has a better understanding of when and where to get his teammates the ball.
- Marc J. Spears at Yahoo Sports8 days ago
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Kevin Durant expects to fondly reflect upon his streak of 41 consecutive games with at least 25 points after the season ends. But for now, he's actually relieved the streak is over.
Durant's run ended during the Thunder's 107-92 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday night. He finished with a team-high 23 points in 31 minutes and did not play in the fourth quarter. Durant's streak is the third longest in NBA history, trailing Wilt Chamberlain's 80 games and Oscar Robertson's 46.
"When I sit back after the season is over and reflect on everything that I've done, that the team's done, I will appreciate it then," Durant said. "I'm focusing on game to game, how we can get better as a group and how I can help the team get better. I was getting so many texts after every game. I'm glad that's over with.
"If we play well and I had 25 points, that took away from how the team was playing. So I didn't like it. If we lost, it was all about me scoring 25 points, so I didn't like that either. I'm glad we can just talk about the team now."Wed, Apr 16Phoenix104 - 99SacramentoGame Recap
- Marc J. Spears at Yahoo Sports10 days ago
1. San Antonio Spurs (60-17; last week's ranking: 1): Tony Parker left Sunday's win over Memphis with back spasms. He has missed 10 games this season with lower back tightness.
2. Oklahoma City Thunder (55-21; last week's ranking: 2): The Thunder have a one-game lead over the Clippers – two games in the loss column – for the West's No. 2 playoff seed. They visit the Clippers on Wednesday.
3. Los Angeles Clippers (55-23; last week's ranking: 3): The Clippers own a 2-1 lead in the season series with the Thunder. The Clippers also are 32-6 this season at Staples Center.
4. Miami Heat (53-23; last week's ranking: 4): Miami plays host to Indiana on Friday in a game that will help determine who lands the East's top seed. Indiana has a 2-1 season series lead.
5. Houston Rockets (51-25; last week's ranking: 5): The Rockets appear to be settling into the West's fourth seed. Houston's lone game remaining against a playoff team is against the Spurs.
6. Portland Trail Blazers (50-28; last week's ranking: 7): The West's fifth-seeded Blazers play host to sixth-seeded Golden State on Sunday. The Warriors lead the season series 2-1.
- Marc J. Spears at Yahoo Sports11 days ago
Former University of Arkansas coach Nolan Richardson will be inducted to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as a member of the 2014 class, a source told Yahoo Sports.
Richardson, 72, led Arkansas to the 1994 NCAA national championship and to three Final Four appearances (1990, '94 and '95). He is the winningest coach in Razorbacks history, compiling a 390-170 record over 17 seasons while using a pressure defense that earned the nickname "40 Minutes of Hell." Richardson also led Tulsa to a 1981 NIT championship and Western Texas College to a 1980 national junior college championship.
Richardson is a member of the College Basketball Hall of Fame. He also coached the WNBA Tulsa Shock and national teams for Panama and Mexico.
Richardson is in North Texas for Final Four weekend and will be attending Monday's Hall of Fame announcement.