Cavs’ Bickerstaff on Sexton: ‘There’s a small group of guys in this league that can do what he did tonight’

He’s back and better than ever! After missing five games due to a sprained ankle, Cavaliers G Collin Sexton returned on Wednesday night against the star-studded Brooklyn Nets, who had their Big 3 of James Harden, Kevin Durant, and Kyrie Irving together for the first time.

However, Sexton was the biggest star on Wednesday night. The third-year guard scored 20 straight points, including 15 points in the second overtime and finished with a career-high 42 points as the Cavaliers(7-7) defeated the Nets(9-7) at home 147-135 in double overtime. 

Sexton out-dueled Irving last night, who returned after missing seven games and scored 37 points for Brooklyn. Sexton took over the game in OT, and according to his head coach J.B. Bickerstaff, not many players in the NBA could have done what Sexton did against Brooklyn. 

“Collin(Sexton) has proven time and time again against all his doubters is he’s not afraid of the big moments,” Bickerstaff said. “He likes pressure-filled moments. Not everybody in our league has the courage to do what he did tonight. Not everyone in our league have the ability to do what he did tonight… 

“Collin Sexton brought us home tonight, and again, people can say what they want to say about him, but there’s a small group of guys in this league that can do what he did tonight.”

Cavs’ Cedi Osman, who scored 25 points on Wednesday night, added this about Sexton: “That was a hell of an effort, man. He had 20 straight points. He played great; he played out of his mind. It was amazing. I don’t know what to say.” 

Even Irving enjoyed what he saw from Sexton.

“You gotta love NBA ball, though,” he said. “I was smiling when Collin Sexton was making those shots.”

Irving and Sexton will forever be linked. The former Cavalier was traded to Boston in 2017. In that deal, Cleveland was able to secure a first round pick, which turned into Sexton. After the game, Sexton acknowledged his connection to Irving.

“I am in Cleveland,” he said. “I wear number 2, and I do wear Kyrie’s(sneakers), so you know that’s definitely going to be linked together, so I just gotta take it.”

Sexton was terrific last night, and before the injury, was playing at a high level. What he is doing thus far this season is not a surprise. However, the way Cleveland is playing this season, especially when you consider the injuries, is impressive. Once they get fully healthy(Darius Garland and Kevin Love), they could be a team in the mix for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. 


Mavs’ Carlisle on win over Pacers: ‘After three straight losses, this was a game we had to have’

The Dallas Mavericks(7-7) made a little change to the lineup on Wednesday night against the Pacers(7-7), and that changed appeared to work. Dallas moved Kristaps Porzingis to the center spot, sent Willie Cauley-Stein to the bench, and added rookie Josh Green to the lineup.

The change led to the Mavericks defeating a good Pacers( team on the road 124-112 to end their three-game losing streak.

“After three straight losses, this is a game we had to have,” Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle said.

Porzingis had his best game of the season. He shot 12/15 from scored had a season and game-high 27 points along with a game-high 13 rebounds against the Pacers. According to Porzingis, with him at the five, there was more space on the court. 

“Just rolling to the basket, there’s more space,” Porzingis said. “Rolling to the basket more, having the option to roll or to pop, and that’s it. A lot of good looks, a lot of good opportunities, a lot of layups and stuff, and that’s it and make those and get those easy ones, and I’m glad we got to win.”

Carlisle explained why he made the change to the lineup.

“It made a huge impact on our offense for sure,” Carlisle said. “With all the different defensive looks that we expected and the fact that (Myles)Turner wasn’t playing, we were going to play smaller. If Turner would have played, we would have stayed big, but we would’ve probably gotten small pretty quick. 

Ultimately, Porzingis and Cauley-Stein would play together down the stretch, and Carlisle was happy with what they did.

“I think KP(Porzingis) and Willie proved down the stretch of the game that you can score points, get stops playing with two bigs, and that was great to see, and that was the difference in the game.”

The Pacers gave a lot of attention to Luka Doncic. However, he recorded his 30th career triple-double with 13 points, 12 rebounds, and 12 assists on Wednesday. While he did not score many points and did not have a good shooting night(5-15), he made plays in the other ways, which he discussed after the game.

“Obviously, it’s not everything about scoring,” Doncic said. ‘They were double-teaming me every time, playing box-and-one. A lot of players are open. I don’t’ think it’s just the assist. There’s sometimes, a lot of times, an extra pass and not always the assist. We just play out there. it’s probably easier basketball, more space.”

Carlisle was correct. The Mavericks needed this victory, and because of the play of Porzingis and others, Dallas was able to get it done.





Pop on loss to Warriors: ‘If you shoot 4 for 33 from three, your defense better be pretty perfect’

The Spurs started slowly against the Warriors on Wednesday night and could not recover. San Antonio gave up 36 points and trailed by 12 after one quarter. The Spurs would fall behind by as many as 22 points in the first half and ultimately would lose on the road to Golden State 121-99.

San Antonio struggled with their shooting against the Warriors. They finished the game shooting 37% from the field, including 4/33 from three-point range. Conversely, their defense was not good. They allowed the Warriors to shoot 50% from the field and allowed Steph Curry to score 20 of his game-high 26 points in the first half. 

“I thought we had a bad start,” Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich said after the game. “They jumped on us at the beginning of game for whatever reasons, and we never got back. If you shoot 4 for 33 from three, your defense better be pretty perfect, and it wasn’t, but it’s gonna happen, nobody is going to go undefeated. Hopefully, we learned some things tonight and just keep at it.”

Dejounte Murray, who led San Antonio with 22 points, agreed with Popovich; the Spurs were hit hard early and were not able to respond.

“We came out in the first half and just got punched in the face and didn’t know how to get back up as a whole—not making shots don’t make it better,” Murray said. “Halftime, we tried to come out and fight and fight. They’re the Warriors, and they kept fighting, kept fighting, and we just couldn’t get over that hump.”

After playing seven of their last nine game on the road, the Spurs will play nine of their next eleven at home, but with no fans allowed in the building, Popovich thinks home-court advantage is not the same. 

“It’s pretty even-steven,” he said. “I think I mentioned that to you guys before. There’s not much of a home-court advantage, I don’t think.”

While home-court advantage may not be the same, getting home and not traveling can’t hurt, and based on the way they shot the ball on Wednesday night, maybe San Antonio could use some time off the road and could benefit from some home cooking.

Bucs’ Winfield Jr., Wirfs named to PFWA All-Rookie team

The Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA) today revealed its annual All-Rookie team, with Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety Antoine Winfield Jr. and tackle Tristan Wirfs both earning spots on the roster.

Winfield Jr. started all 16 regular season games for Tampa Bay, recording 91 tackles (one for loss), six passes defensed, four quarterback hits, 3.0 sacks, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and one interception. Winfield’s 3.0 sacks tied for the second-most sacks by an NFL defensive back this season. Among NFL rookies, he ranked fifth in tackles, tied for third in sacks, tied for fifth in passes defensed, tied for fifth in forced fumbles, tied for sixth in fumble recoveries and tied for eighth in interceptions. Winfield joined Jamal Adams as the only defensive backs with 75-or-more tackles and 3.0-plus sacks this season.

Over his first two career playoff games, Winfield has tallied 12 tackles (two for loss) and a forced fumble in the Divisional Round win over the New Orleans Saints.

Wirfs played every offensive snap for the Buccaneers this season, starting all 16 games at right tackle in his rookie campaign. He was part of an offensive line that allowed a sack on 3.51 percent of all pass attempts – the second-lowest mark in the NFL and the second-lowest in team history for a single season. He allowed just one sack in more than 1,000 snaps played this season for an offense that ranked second in passing yards per game (289.1), third in points per game (30.8), seventh in yards per game (384.1) and seventh in yards per play (6.04).

The Buccaneers have now had multiple players on the PFWA All-Rookie team in consecutive seasons after cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting and linebacker Devin White made the roster in 2019. In total, eight players drafted by Buccaneers General Manager Jason Licht have earned All-Rookie honors, including five that remain on Tampa Bay’s NFC Championship roster.

Ex-Nets Allen, Prince say they would’ve done the Harden deal

Last week, the Cleveland Cavaliers acquired Jarrett Allen and Taurean Prince in a three-team deal with the Rockets and Nets that sent James Harden to Brooklyn. In the deal for Harden, Houston received forward Caris LeVert(sent to Indy for Victor Oladipo), forward Rodions Kurucs, three first round draft picks, and the rights to swap four first round draft picks from Brooklyn.

Obviously, for the Nets, it’s all about winning a championship right now. Brooklyn has a former MVP and a two-time NBA champion in Kevin Durant, another champion in Kyrie Irving, and now they have another former MVP in Harden. With the addition of Harden, the Nets are clearly one the favorites to come out of the Eastern Conference and possibly win an NBA title. 

Anytime you can get your hands on a player like Harden, you find ways to make it happen, and the Nets did just that. 

According to both Allen and Prince, if they were the Nets’ general manager, they would have made the move, too.

“In all honesty, I would say I would do it. I’m not going to lie,” Allen said. “If you look at what happened with the Lakers, they did the same thing, and then the next year they went and got their ring. If I take myself out of it, I would love to stay in Brooklyn, but I understand that an opportunity like that, you have to go get it. 

Prince added: “To be completely honest, yeah. You got James Harden, who is probably one of the best scorers we’ve seen in our generation. Same with Kev(Durant), Kyrie(Irving), great point guard he is. I probably would have done the same thing.”

It’s hard to argue with the deal from the standpoint of all parties. The Nets got a big piece for a title run, Houston gets an opportunity to retool with draft picks and players, and Cleveland gets a young center in Allen. So it’s clear, Allen and Prince might have an NBA front office job waiting for them when they retire. Maybe not, but it was a deal the Nets could not pass up.

Watch below as Allen and Prince talk Harden trade:

Plant: ‘I’m on a mission to be the first undisputed super middleweight champion in boxing history’

Unbeaten IBF Super Middleweight World Champion Caleb “Sweethands” Plant will defend his title against former champion Caleb “Golden” Truax in the FOX PBC Fight Night main event and on FOX Deportes Saturday, January 30 from Shrine Auditorium and Expo Hall in Los Angeles.

A rising superstar who first captured his 168-pound world title in January 2019, Plant makes his third world title defense live in primetime once again as he is opposed by the crafty veteran Truax, whose own super middleweight glory came in 2017 when he traveled overseas to dethrone James DeGale for the IBF belt. In the co-feature Michael Coffie and Darmani Rock clash in a 10-round battle of unbeaten heavyweights. Super welterweight sensation Joey Spencer takes on Isiah Seldon in an eight rounder to open the telecast at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT.

The event will be promoted by TGB Promotions and Sweethands Promotions, in association with Warriors Boxing, and will take place without fans in attendance at the Shrine Auditorium and Expo Hall, an AEG venue, in downtown Los Angeles.

The 28-year-old Plant (20-0, 12 KOs) has scored back-to-back stoppage victories on FOX in his two title defenses, beating then undefeated Mike Lee in July 2019 before most recently turning away Germany’s Vincent Feigenbutz in a homecoming event last February in Nashville, Tennessee. The Ashland City native now lives and trains in Las Vegas and captured the title in a 2019 victory over Jose Uzcategui. Plant was the underdog coming into the Uzcategui fight, before turning the tables with two early knockdowns on his way to a unanimous decision. It was an emotional night for Plant, who had dedicated his championship victory to the memory of his late daughter Alia, who suffered from a rare disorder that caused seizures.

Truax, the highest-ranked IBF super middleweight contender, will be Plant’s second consecutive mandatory challenger as Feigenbutz was also the IBF mandatory challenger.

“I want to say I’m grateful to be making my 2021 debut on FOX.  On January 30th I’m facing Caleb Truax who is going to be coming with everything he’s got, so I’ll be prepared to go to battle with everything that I got,’’ Plant said. “Everyone knows I’m on a mission to be the first undisputed super middleweight champion in boxing history. With that being said, fans can expect to see me at my absolute best.  This fight ends in a knockout.”

Truax (31-4-2, 19 KOs) became a real-life Cinderella Man with his world championship-winning victory in December 2017. Truax was a 50-1 underdog when he traveled to DeGale’s native U.K. and overcame the odds by wresting the title away in one of the year’s biggest upsets. Truax dropped a narrow decision to DeGale in their 2018 rematch. A former college football player fighting out of Saint Michael, Minnesota, Truax has faced an impressive lineup of super middleweights and middleweights throughout his career, including DeGale, Anthony Dirrell, Peter Quillin and Daniel Jacobs.

“I’m hungry and I’m treating this like my last opportunity to win my title back,” Truax said. “I’m going in as the underdog, but I’ve been in that position before and I’ve beaten the odds.”

A Marine Corps veteran who picked up boxing after returning from overseas, Coffie (11-0, 8 KOs) quickly impressed in amateur tournaments enough to earn sparring assignments with Deontay Wilder and Adam Kownacki. The 34-year-old was born in the Bronx, but now fights out of Brooklyn. Coffie most recently improved his unbeaten record with a TKO victory over hardnosed veteran Joey Abell on FOX on Nov. 11.

“I think this is going to be a really good fight.  We match up with our physical stature both height and weight. It should be a tough and gritty fight for the fans,” Coffie said. “My thought is that Rock is a good fighter. He has never been put in a position where he has had to dig deep. I feel like that I always have had to dig deep because I never had a huge amateur background.  Every fight I have had to will myself. A win will be another step closer to fighting the fights that people want to see.’’

The unbeaten Rock (17-0, 12 KOs) is a hard-hitting 24-year-old from Philadelphia who is establishing himself as a force in the heavyweight division as he climbs the ladder into contention. Rock will have to scrape off some ring rust when he steps in against Coffie. He didn’t fight at all last year. His last fight was a stoppage victory over Maurenzo Smith on Oct. 19, 2019.

“The layoff might have a little impact on me, but I don’t think it will be a big problem. I just got to do what I got to do,’’ Rock said. “I don’t really know much about him. I know he looks strong. The main thing I have to do is get the feel back and listen to my corner and my Pop and follow instruction and have fun. I’m glad this is on Jan. 30, because I want to be as busy as possible this year and make up for that year layoff that I had and stay in shape.’’

The 20-year-old Spencer (11-0, 8 KOs) has made fast strides since turning pro in February 2017. The Linden, Michigan native kicked off 2020 in January with a six-round decision victory over Erik Spring and returned with a KO victory over Shawn West in August on FOX. Those two wins built on an impressive four-win 2019.

“I’m super excited to get back in the ring and kickoff 2021 with an explosive performance for my fans,’’ Spencer said. “I’m having an incredible training camp and I’m in the best shape of my life.’’

Seldon (14-3-1, 5 KOs), the son of former heavyweight champion contender Bruce Seldon, got a late start to boxing, turning pro when he was 22 years old in Atlantic City, N.J. under the tutelage of Bill Johnson, the same man who trained his father. The 32-year-old Seldon of Somers Point, N.J. is coming off an impressive second round KO victory over Darryl Bunting last March.

“I am excited for the opportunity.  I have seen a lot of film on Spencer.  He is a very good fighter with an excellent amateur background,’’ Seldon said.  “I can’t wait until January 30th.  I have a lot of time to prepare and have had a great training camp with Danny Davis.  When this opportunity presented itself, I jumped on it, and I will put on a great performance on January 30th.”

Shields: ‘I can’t wait to fight Marie Eve Dicaire on March 5’

In the 10-round main event of “SUPERWOMEN,’ a historic night of live, all-female pay-per-view boxing (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT) celebrating women’s sports and dedicated to International Women’s Day 2021, undefeated three-division world champion Claressa Shields will attempt to become the first boxer in the four-belt era to become an undisputed world champion in two weight divisions when she faces unbeaten IBF Super Welterweight Champion Marie-Eve Dicaire in a 154-pound unification bout between the #1 and #2 junior middleweights in the world.

‘SUPERWOMEN’ will be held on Friday, March 5, from the Dort Financial Center in Shields’ hometown of Flint, Michigan. The pay-per-view will cost $29.95

The winner of the women’s superfight will walk away with Shields’ WBC and WBO titles, Dicaire’s IBF belt, and the WBA (Super) crown, the first time in its 99-year history that the WBA has awarded a Super Champion belt to a female boxer. In the four-belt era, only seven fighters have been undisputed in one division, including Shields, Katie Taylor, Cecilia Braekhus, Bernard Hopkins, Jermain Taylor, Terence Crawford, and Oleksandr Usyk. Shields, if victorious, will make history as the first man or woman to have become undisputed champion in two weight divisions in the four-belt era.

The most accomplished amateur boxer in U.S. history, 25-year-old Shields (10-0, 2 KOs) is the first American boxer – male or female – to win two consecutive Olympic Gold Medals. She turned professional following the 2016 Olympics and headlined the first women’s boxing main event in premium cable television history in just her second professional fight in 2017.

Shields became Unified Super Middleweight World Champion in just her fourth professional fight, the Unified Middleweight World Champion in her sixth professional fight and Unified Super Welterweight World Champion in her tenth fight. She now holds the record for becoming a two- and three-weight world champion in the fewest professional fights. Shields participated in the biggest fight in women’s boxing history by beating Christina Hammer for the Undisputed Middleweight Championship of the World on April 13, 2019. On January 10 in Atlantic City, N.J., Shields became the fastest fighter in history, male or female, to win world titles in three different weight divisions by claiming the WBC and WBO 154-pound world championships with a dominating unanimous decision over Ivana Habazin.

“I’m excited to be fighting another undefeated champion and to have the opportunity to make history by becoming the first fighter – male or female – to be undisputed champion in two weight divisions in the four-belt era,” said Claressa Shields. “Headlining my first pay-per-view event with this historic all-women’s card, particularly at such an important time in the evolution of women’s boxing and around the International Women’s Day celebration, is so meaningful to me. We’re going to put on one heck of a show for the world to see. It’s one big step for boxing and one giant step for Womankind. I can’t wait to fight Marie Eve Dicaire on March 5.”

34-year-old Dicaire (17-0) is from Saint-Eustache, Quebec, Canada, and started karate at the age of six. She worked her way up through the ranks until she obtained her black belt. After winning five world championship titles, Dicaire turned her attention to boxing and won the IBF Super Welterweight World Championship in December 2018 by dethroning Uruguay’s Chris Namus at the Quebec City Videotron Center. In her last fight, in November 2019, Dicaire defended her title for the third time beating experienced Venezuelan Ogleidis Suarez by unanimous decision. Dicaire will be fighting outside of the province of Quebec for the first time on March 5.

“I’m happy to finally be able to get back in the ring and face Claressa Shields,” said Dicaire. “It’s been a year now that I’ve been preparing exclusively for this fight. I’m used to making history in women’s boxing. I was the first woman to lead an event in a major amphitheater in Canada. On two occasions, my IBF defenses have been shown on pay-per-view in Canada. I have a lot of respect for everything Shields has accomplished; I am excited about this opportunity for my career and for the advancement of international women’s boxing. Like Claressa I am undefeated and, just like her, I am coming to defend my world crown. We are going to have a lot of fun on March 5 measuring our skills, without restraints, and putting on a grandiose and memorable show. We have been waiting for this moment for a very long time. I would like to thank all those who made this event possible and I invite you to be there on March 5 in large numbers!”

The supporting bouts will highlight some of the best talent of today and a look at rising stars of the future and is expected to include outstanding undefeated 6-foot tall 198-pound heavyweight Danielle Perkins, powerful undefeated Floyd Mayweather Sr.-trained light heavyweight Nadia Meknouzi and super-talented current WBA interim super welterweight champion Raquel Miller – all in bouts to be announced over the next days and weeks.

As an amateur, Danielle Perkins was a 2019 Amateur Boxing World Champion. With a dream of becoming world professional heavyweight champion, Perkins registered an impressive victory in her August 20, 2020, pro debut when she knocked down and unanimously decisioned previously unbeaten Monika Harrison. Already a world-class athlete standing 6’0″ tall and weighing 197 pounds, Perkins was a standout collegiate basketball player at St. John’s University where she led the team in rebounding and blocked shots including two trips to the NCAA Tournament, followed by a professional basketball career in Europe. After an automobile accident left her critically injured and temporarily paralyzed, Perkins underwent a rigorous rehabilitation program for five years. Upon her recovery, Perkins dedicated herself to boxing and quickly demonstrated great skill. She won the USA National Championships, and then as a member of Team USA, won the 2019 World Championships in Russia, becoming the first American man or woman to win a world championship since Claressa Shields won the gold medal at the world championships in 2016. Perkins trains under the tutelage of trainer James Cooper.

Originally from the country of Morocco, Nadia “The Lion” Meknouzi first rose to prominence around the globe in the martial arts, achieving multiple black belts and remaining undefeated for two years with 200 fights at 2 minutes each, bringing home 40 gold medals. In July 1998, she was honored by His Majesty the King of Jordan El Hussein, decreeing her, “Top Female Fighter.” Meknouzi moved to the USA in the year 2000 and gradually moved away from her combat-sport background. Meknouzi met Floyd Mayweather Sr. in November 2018, who ordered her to get back to training, regardless of her weight of 249 pounds. After just two months, she had her boxing pro debut in December 2018. Meknouzi is trained in boxing by Floyd “Joy” Mayweather Sr and Cromwell “Bullet” Gordon and also continues training in MMA and plans to go back to competition July 2021. Away from fighting, Meknouzi does stunt work in various projects and films.

Known for her exciting, aggressive style, Raquel “Pretty Beast” Miller (10-0, 4 KOs), from San Francisco, CA, won the interim WBA super welterweight title in her last fight against the previously unbeaten Alma Ibarra. She was a U.S. Olympic Alternate, as she lost a close split decision to Claressa Shields in the finals of the Olympic Trials, and she is determined to avenge that defeat in the professional ranks. Prior to winning her world title, Miller seized the NABF belt as well. She was also a 2012 National champion, a silver medalist at the Women’s World Championships and a gold medalist at the 2013 Colorado Springs Golden Gloves tournament. 

Bucs’ Arians on beating Saints: ‘It was not a shock to us that we won – we went there expecting to win’

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers went into New Orleans with a lot working against them. First, they were swept by the Saints this season and were outscored 72-26 in those games. Next, they had lost five straight to New Orleans, and finally, the Saints were 7-2 at home, including the playoffs this season.

However, the playoffs are a different animal, and we saw a different Buccaneers team out there against the Saints. The Buccaneers, who committed six turnovers against the Saints in 2020, protected the ball and ended the game with no turnovers, and they forced four Saints’ turnovers, which led to 21 points. They were able to run the ball effectively and finished the game with 127 yards on the ground, which was more than they had in two games against New Orleans.

Based on what happened in the regular season, some might have been surprised by Sunday’s outcome. According to Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians, he was not surprised and expected the Buccaneers to beat the Saints in the Divisional Round.

“It boosts the confidence for sure, but we went there expecting to win,” Arians said on Monday. “It was not a shock to us that we won – we went there expecting to win. We’re such a different team than when we played back in November. Same thing – Green Bay’s a different team than we played back then, so those games don’t really matter anymore.”

Buccaneers DT Ndamukong Suh was happy that the team got another shot at the Saints this season.

“I think it’s definitely having the mindset of understanding that you kind of control your own destiny from a standpoint of how we got into the playoffs and how we finished off into the playoffs being the fifth seed and controlling our mindset in that aspect,” Suh said. “Then, knowing we needed to get on the road and take care of business against Washington and then see where the chips fell. That had us going back to New Orleans, which I was happy about from a standpoint [that] as a team, we needed to go out, challenge and beat [the Saints], which we were fortunate enough to do in a good fashion from the defensive side of the ball [by] getting so many turnovers. 

“My intent is all about the keys for us continuing to play at a high level. I think for a young guy like [Devin White] to recognize that and see that as an important piece and knowing that we need to stay focused on that as well as executing, we should be in a good place going into this Packers game.”

The Buccaneers blew out the Packers 38-10 in Week 6. However, that game was in the regular season and played in Tampa Bay. The NFC Championship Game will be in Green Bay. Both of these teams are different now, and we’ll find out how different come Sunday.

Mavs’ Doncic: ‘I don’t like losing; it’s terrible’

After easily defeating the Hornets on the road last week, the Mavericks, who got Kristaps Porzingis back in the lineup, were on a four-game winning streak and riding high.

One week later, the team is shorthanded and struggling. On Monday night, Dallas lost their third straight game after falling to the Raptors on the road 116-93. The Mavericks and Raptors were tied at 47 at the break, but Toronto(5-8) would dominate the second half and outscore the Mavericks(6-7) 69-46.

The Mavericks, like a lot of NBA teams, are dealing with issues related to COVID-19. The Mavericks are still without Maxi Kleber, Dwight Powell, Dorian Finney-Smith, and Josh Richardson, who are all out due to the league’s health and safety protocols, and according to Porzingis, who had 23 points against the Raptors, Monday’s loss to Toronto just wasn’t the team’s night.

“It wasn’t our night,” he said. “We didn’t play the best basketball, coach(Rick Carlisle ejected in the first quarter) got kicked out because of some calls and stuff. That’s it. We move forward. We learn from this, and we get better. 

As losses mount, Luka Doncic, who scored 16 points on 4/11 shooting against Toronto, just wants to find a way to get back to winning games. 

“The mentality is we gotta win the game,” Doncic said. “I don’t like losing; it’s terrible. I just feel bad, and we don’t like (it). The four-game winning streak, everybody felt great. The locker room felt happy, so we gotta go back to that and just enjoy playing basketball.”

Dallas is in a stretch now of five games in seven nights, so that’s a lot of basketball, especially when you’re undermanned. The next two games(Indiana on Wednesday night and San Antonio on Friday night) on this three-game road trip won’t be easy, but as Doncic said, this team has to get back to that winning mentality. 

Cavs’ Bickerstaff on Porter Jr.: ‘I genuinely believe we did our best to make it work’

Kevin Porter Jr.’s time with the Cleveland Cavaliers appears to be over after an outburst last Friday night. 

According to The Athletic, Porter grew angry when he entered the locker room and realized the team gave his old locker to Taurean Prince, who was acquired in a trade Wednesday. Sources said Porter, whose locker was moved to the wall where the younger, end-of-bench players reside, began yelling and at one point threw food. General manager Koby Altman came into the locker room and confronted Porter, and the player remained combative with Altman, and now the Cavs are looking to trade or release the second-year player, according to the report. 

The 20-year-old Porter, who was away from the team this season due to personal reasons, joined the team for the first time on Friday and was on the bench for Cleveland’s win over the Knicks.

Unfortunately, Porter has had his share of off the court issues this offseason, including being arrested and charged with improper handling of a firearm in a motor vehicle back in November. Ultimately, the charge was dismissed.

Cavaliers head coach J.B. Bickerstaff, who according to The Athletic, was “disgusted and shocked” by the incident, said Porter was not with the team after practice on Monday. 

In the end, Bickerstaff felt the team did everything it could to help Porter have success in Cleveland.  

“I genuinely believe that we did our best to make it work, so I can rest easy with that,” Bickerstaff said. “Again, all we want is the best for him moving forward. No matter what that looks like, we want the best for Kevin. Still, if there is still any opportunity, we’ll do what we can, and that’s the only thing that really matters is that he reaches his potential, and that’s the only thing that really matters to us.”

Porter, who was the 30th overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft by Milwaukee, was acquired by the Cavaliers in a trade with Detroit on June 26, 2019. Porter played in 50 games (three starts) with the Cavaliers last season, averaging 10.0 points (12th among rookies), 3.2 rebounds, 2.2 assists (7th among rookies), and 0.92 steals (4th among rookies) in 23.2 minutes.

Porter has a lot of potential, but it’s clear he has some issues he needs to work through. Maybe Porter can get in a situation where he can get the support necessary to be better going forward. The Cavs appeared to have tried their best to help Porter, but now, we’ll see if Cleveland can find a taker for him.