Porzingis on trade rumors: ‘It could only distract me at the end of the day’

Mavericks F/C Kristaps Porzingis(questionable) could return on Saturday night as the team travels to Brooklyn to battle the Nets. Porzingis missed the past three games with lower back tightness, including the team’s 111-97 road loss to the 76ers on Thursday night.

During his time away from the floor, rumors surfaced that the Mavericks were quietly shopping the fifth-year player. However, the Mavericks organization quickly said that was not the case. 

On Friday, the 25-year-old Porzingis, who the Mavericks acquired from the Knicks in 2019, addressed the trade rumors.

“As I said, it kind of like came out. It is what it is,” Porzingis said. “I don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes. I shouldn’t be too worried about it. It could only distract me at the end of the day. I try to focus on being in the moment, being here day-to-day, putting in the work with my teammates, and getting better as a basketball player at the end. That’s it.

“As I said, there’s not much I can do at this point. Just focused on playing, playing well, and getting wins.”

Porzingis missed time to start the season after coming off knee surgery. In 17 games, he’s averaging 20.5 PPG, 8.2 RPG, and 1.6 BPG. He’s under contract until 2023(player option 23-24 season) after signing—a five-year, $158 max contract with the Mavericks back in 2019.

Dallas’ two best players are Luka Doncic and Porzingis, and both are young. Porzingis’ injury history is concerning, but his skill set is tremendous, and both he and Doncic(21 years old) are young, so it’s probably in the team’s best interest to let these two grow together. 

Cavs’ Garland: ‘We’re just growing every day’

The Cleveland Cavaliers(13-21) went into Philadelphia on Saturday night and may have gotten their best win of the season. Behind a combined 53 points from the backcourt of Collin Sexton(28) and Darius Garland(25), the Cavaliers defeated the 76ers 112-109 in OT. 

Philadelphia(22-12) is the number one seed in the Eastern Conference, but for the second time this season, Cleveland was able to defeat Philadelphia. After losing ten straight, the Cavaliers have now won three in a row.

Garland, who added nine assists to go along with his 25 points on Saturday night, believes beating Philadelphia is a great step in the right direction. 

“It’s just another step in the right direction,” Garland said after the game. “We have a lot of growing to do; but beating the number one team in the East is really good. We just have to keep this going, keep the momentum going, and hopefully, we can carry it to All-Star break and after the All-Star break.”

Cavaliers head coach J.B, Bickerstaff felt defense was one of the keys for Cleveland in this victory. Cleveland held Philadelphia to a season-low 47 points in the first half.

“Anytime you get a tough win like this, it validates what you are capable of, and our guys I thought tonight were really good defensively against a high-powered offensive team,” Bickerstaff said. “Obviously, Embiid(42 points) is a handful, Ben Simmons(24 points), obviously, All-Star caliber player. I thought our guys did a really good job defensively.”

To beat a team like Philadelphia, you have to fight, and Cleveland showed that fight and grit, which Garland discussed after the game.

“We’re just growing every day,” he said. “Every opportunity we get, we’re going to take the opportunity to take the challenge. I think that’s one thing about our team; we are going to fight most of the time.”

Adversity can bring the best out of teams, and it appears the Cavaliers have grown from the adversity, and while losing ten consecutive games is never good, it might have been what the Cavs needed to turn things around. 

Joseph Parker: ‘I want to be Champion of the World again’

Joseph Parker says he wants to “make a statement” when locks horns with long-term rival Junior Fa for the vacant WBO Oriental Heavyweight Title at Spark Arena in Auckland, New Zealand on Saturday February 27, live on DAZN.

Parker (27-2, 21 KOs) returns to Spark Arena for the first time since claiming the WBO Heavyweight Championship against Mexico’s Andy Ruiz Jr just over four years ago.

Three consecutive knockout wins have rebuilt the South Aucklander’s World Title aspirations since back-to-back losses to Anthony Joshua and Dillian Whyte, and Parker hopes these wins have kick-started his route back to the top of the ladder.

But first, he needs to settle the 11-year old rivalry with his long time amateur nemesis, Junior Fa. With two wins a piece from their amateur boxing days, Parker knows he’s one step away from potential fights back among the Heavyweight elite, but he cannot take Fa for granted.

“Junior’s a tough fighter,” said Parker. “I’ve known this from our amateur days and I always knew our paths would cross again. He’s undefeated and poses a real threat to my hopes of becoming a two-time Heavyweight World Champion.

“But I’ve been up against the best and I’ve performed on the big occasions, and these experiences will put me in a great position to overcome Junior and take the next step towards winning another World Title.”

Ranked at No.3 in the world by the WBO, a fourth consecutive win will see Parker knocking on the door for another World Title shot.

Back at the place that arguably hosts Parker’s most memorable moment of his career, he knows everything is on the line. The Samoan is fighting for his pride, his future and to finally settle the score with Fa once and for all.

“It’s been a long training camp, but I feel like I’m firing on all cylinders,” added Parker. “The sparring has been quality to help me prepare. With Matchroom’s blessing and backing, this gives the fight more worldwide exposure. All eyes will be on during a busy boxing weekend around the globe.

“I know Junior pulled out of the fight last year with health issues, but I’m feeling way better myself as well, the extra time allowed me to have minor surgery on my elbow which has cleared up a niggling injury.

“Junior is getting a lot of confidence from the amateur days but I’m a totally different animal now. We’re going to see the best Junior Fa. He brings height, reach and an undefeated record.

“If I lose this fight, it’s a long way back to the top. I’m not putting extra pressure on myself, but I know the magnitude of this fight. If I let my hands go in there, it will do a lot of damage, I want to get him out of there.

“I’m still young and hungry. There’s plenty of goals to achieve still. I want to be Champion of the World again; I want to provide my family with a comfortable life. To achieve both of those objectives, I need to beat Junior.

“The division is on fire at the minute, it would be great to see the Undisputed fight with ‘AJ’ and Fury but make no mistake, I want another shot. I’m not shy about jumping in with anyone, but I can’t overlook Junior first of all, I want to make a statement at Spark Arena.”

Parker vs. Fa tops a big night of action in Auckland, Auckland-based Heavyweight Julius Long (18-24-1, 14 KOs) meets Hemi Ahio (16-0, 11 KOs) over eight rounds, Hamilton Cruiserweight David Nyika makes his professional debut against Jesse Maio (3-0, 1 KO), Nik ‘The Greek’ Charalampous (19-3, 9 KOs) takes on Panuve Helu (12-2-1, 11 KOs) in a six-round Cruiserweight contest and Jerome Pampellone (2-0, 1 KO) faces Anthony Amouta in a four-round catchweight contest at 87kg.

76ers’ Howard: ‘We have what it takes to win a championship’

After 33 games, the Philadelphia 76ers are 22-11 and are the number one seed in the Eastern Conference. Last season, after 33 games, Philadelphia was 23-10, so they were actually a game better in terms of wins and losses a year ago.

However, this season feels a little different for Philadelphia. Their All-Star center Joel Embiid appears to have a different mindset and is in better shape. Embiid is having an MVP-caliber season and is averaging 29.6 points(career-high), 11.2 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks per game. After a slow start, All-Star Ben Simmons is playing elite on defense, and in the last five games, he’s averaging 23.0 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 7.0 assists per game. Because of his ability to guard all five positions, Simmons believes he is the best defender in basketball. 

After the team’s 111-97 victory over the Mavericks on Thursday night, reserve center Dwight Howard, who won a championship with the Lakers last season, shared his thoughts on Philly’s chances of winning a title. 

“We have everything we need, and we have what it takes to win a championship,” Howard said. “it’s going to be on us. It’s going to be on how hard we go out and play every night, what we do when we are not in the games, how we are taking care of our bodies, but also just how we approach every day. We stay in the moment, stay locked in on winning this championship day by day. We can’t wait until the end of the season to focus on a championship. We gotta do it every single day. Coach has been telling us, ‘The preparation process and parade.’ That’s the only thing on our mind.”

Simmons believes that Philadelphia has great chemistry right now, and the best he’s seen since he has been in Philly. Having Doc Rivers around helps, and the team is saying that he is holding everybody accountable. However, it appears they need some more bench help, and it should interesting to see what they do before the March 25th trade deadline.

At this point, Philly will be judged on what happens in the playoffs. We have seen Simmons come up small in playoff situations, and if this team wants to make a deep playoff run, he has to be better. Plus, getting by Brooklyn, who has three walking buckets in Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Kyrie Irving, won’t be easy.

Philly is playing good basketball right now, but we still have to wait and see how this team looks come playoff time.

 

Dorian Khan Jr. signs with Mayweather Promotions

Arizona native Dorian Khan Jr. is the latest amateur to sign with Mayweather Promotions after impressing TBE, Floyd Mayweather, during 4x champion Gervonta Davis’ latest training camp in late 2020.

Khan Jr., ranked #2 by USA boxing (as of January 8, 2020) at 123lbs has held numerous titles in the amateur ranks including Silver Gloves Nationals 2x, 13x National Champion Monkstown International Box, and boasts an amateur record of 135-13. He attributes his fight style to the same man who made it official, Floyd Mayweather. After traveling back and forth from Buckeye, Arizona to the fight capital for six years, the 18-year-old found himself at the famed Mayweather Boxing Club at the perfect time catching the eye of 4x champion Gervonta Davis’, while he was preparing for his championship bout against Leo Santa Cruz. Davis’ camp invited Khan to return to the gym and spar with Gervonta again. Floyd was actively at the gym during this time and also took notice of the aggressive and effective style Khan possessed and advised him to make the move to Vegas and made it official.

“Floyd is my biggest inspiration,” said Khan, and now he’s my promoter. “I grew up watching him on T.V. and would use that as motivation to perfect my skill, especially the shoulder roll. “I want to follow Champ’s path and provide for my family, invest, and start businesses, so this is the perfect home for me to start my professional career.”

“Dorian Khan Jr. sought after an opportunity and capitalized on it, said Mayweather Promotions’ CEO Leonard Ellerbe, which positioned him to join Mayweather Promotions’ stable of talent.” He’s proven himself at the amateur level and he’s ready to take his career to the next level. It’s time to go to work!”

Khan’s boxing discovery story isn’t like most, by that, he was introduced to boxing by his grandmother who bought him a pair of boxing gloves and a dummy bag at age 2. Last year, the decorated amateur honored his grandmother with a tattoo to show his appreciation for introducing him to the sport. Known for being a fighter growing up, Khan would walk around punching things and his bag, so it was a natural transition to taking up boxing, which his parents fully supported. By age 4, he entered his first gym, and his father Dorian Khan Sr. began training his son to compete seriously. Solely focusing on boxing coupled with his natural athleticism, Khan was able to develop a natural skill set allowing him to compete and place in various tournaments. The aspiring fighter recalls trips to Vegas where he had priceless training experiences with the late Roger Mayweather, hitting the pad for hours stating that those were the moment that solidified his love for the sport and hunger to be the best.

The promising amateur looks to make his debut at 126 and cherishes every experience he’s had to get to this point. Be on the lookout for more news and information regarding his professional debut.

Photo: Mayweather Promotions

Blue Coats drop second straight after falling to Raptors

The Delaware Blue Coats (7-2), the NBA G League affiliate of the Philadelphia 76ers, fell to the Raptors 905 (6-3), 138-107, on Wednesday at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex near Orlando, Florida.

76ers two-way contract player Rayjon Tucker scored a season-high 26 points (9-16 FG, 2-4 3FG, 3-6 FT) with six rebounds and five assists in 34 minutes. 76ers two-way contract player Paul Reed tallied 17 points (8-13 FG, 1-3 3FG), nine rebounds (five offensive), a game-high three steals and a rookie career-high four blocks.

Off the Delaware bench, Jordan Bone scored 15 points and dished out a game-high nine assists with zero turnovers. Rookie Braxton Key scored 10 points in eight minutes on 4-5 shooting from the field and 2-3 from beyond the arc.

Each team had 30 assists in the contest. The Blue Coats swiped 11 steals and have now recorded at least 10 steals in six of their nine games. Raptors 905 outrebounded the Blue Coats 54-35 and shot .542 from the floor, .417 from three-point range and .909 from the free-throw line in the game. They led 70-50 at halftime and had seven players finish with double figures scoring in the victory.

Individually for the Raptors 905, Alize Johnson posted his second game of the season with at least 20 rebounds, totaling 22 points (8-15 FG, 3-3 FT), 20 rebounds and seven assists in 34 minutes of play. Matt Mooney came off the bench to record 22 points (7-10 FG, 5-6 3FG, 2-3 FT) of his own, including a game-high five three-pointers, and a team-high eight assists in 28 minutes. Tres Tinkle put up a rookie career-high 20 points (6-8 FG, 2-4 3FG, 4-4 FT) with seven rebounds as a reserve.

UP NEXT: The Blue Coats will meet the Lakeland Magic (4-5) on Friday at 11:30 a.m. The game can be seen locally on DETV Channel 28 and heard on Rowan Radio 89.7 WGLS-FM.

Mavs’ Carlisle compares Luka Doncic’s mentality to Jordan, Kobe, LeBron

Luke Doncic continues to prove game in and game out why he one of the best players in the NBA, and on Tuesday night against the Celtics, the two-time All-Star demonstrated that once again.

Late in the game, with the Celtics up 105-104, Doncic hit a three-point shot to give Dallas a two-point lead, and then with the game tied at 107, Doncic would hit another three with 0.1 seconds left to give the Mavericks(15-15) a 110-107 home victory. 

Doncic, who finished the game with 31 points (6-8 3FG) to go with ten rebounds and eight assists, game-winning three against Boston looked very similar to his game-winning three against the Clippers last season in Game 4 of their first round series.

After the win against Boston, Doncic discussed his game-winning shot.

“Honestly, I was more confident in the first one,” Doncic said. “It felt good out of my hands. (On the second one) I was kind of tired running around the whole possession. It got in, and that’s all that matters…

“Sometimes two people guard me, and I have to pass it. Sometimes you’re going to miss it like the last game against Portland. Sometimes you’re going to make it.”

According to Elias Sports Bureau, the 21-year-old Doncic joined Anthony Davis, Bradley Beal, Devin Booker, and Trae Young as the only players, age 21-or-younger, to hit multiple game-winning shots with 2.0 seconds or less remaining since 2012-13 (including playoffs). Dončić is also the second player in the last 25 seasons to make multiple go-ahead 3-pointers in the final 20 seconds of a game, per ESPN Stats & Info.

Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle, who has played and coached against some all-time greats, compares Doncic’s mentality to Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Larry Bird, and LeBron James. 

“The wiring of the people like Luka Doncic, Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Larry Bird, Kobe Bryant, guys that have this laser-like focus in these situations, it is difficult to explain, how their mind and their brain works. But from what I have seen over the years, and this is over three decades now, as the game gets tighter and the moment gets bigger, their focus is only on one thing, and that is succeeding in whatever the team needs. Whether it is the perfect pass for the assist, whether it is great shot-making, I have seen this time and time again. I have been victimized as a coach when guys like Kobe have hit shots and guys like that. He is a very rare breed of player. Not only does he have the laser-like focus, but he has the desire, and he has all the tools to deliver.”

Doncic is special, and if he continues at this level, yes, he could be talked about the way we talk about Jordan, LeBron, Bird, and Kobe.

Bickerstaff on Allen: ‘At 22 years old, he’s not near his potential ceiling yet’

When the Cavaliers acquired C Jarrett Allen from the Brooklyn Nets in January, the goal was for the 22-year-old Allen to be one of the building blocks for this team, and since becoming a starter on February 14 after the team decided to hold out Andre Drummond for a possible trade, Allen has been balling.

In the last six games, including last night’s home victory over the Rockets, Allen is averaging 18.8 points, 13.8 rebounds, and 2.3 blocks per game.

On Wednesday night against Houston, Allen was 10/11 from the field and tied his career-high in points with 26. Allen also added 18 rebounds, four blocks, and a highlight-reel dunk, which, according to head coach J.B. Bickerstaff, reminded him of the great Julius Erving.

“It’s funny, as it was happening,” Bickerstaff said. “I had a flashback of ABA Dr. J dribbling it coast-to-coast and taking off with the fro and dunking.” 

Allen added on the dunk: “I jumped damn-near from the free throw line. I got the rebound; I took it from Isaac(Okoro), and I took two dribbles. and I see people on my side, I see (Victor)Oladipo. I did not know if he was going to help or not, but by the time I took my last dribble at the three-point line, the ball was going through the hoop.”

Bickerstaff is excited about Allen, and he believes the sky’s the limit.

“At 22 years old, he’s not near his potential ceiling yet,” Bickerstaff said. “That’s the part I’m most excited about. He knows that there’s room for growth from him. There’s a high ceiling for him. He’s willing to put in the work, and he’s willing to try it. He’s trying; he’s not just staying in his box.”

With the Cavaliers, Allen has a much bigger role and more of an opportunity to showcase his offensive skills, which he has embraced.

“Here, I am able to come here with a young team and have my role, and it is bigger,” Allen said. “And I’m willing to step up and take that challenge.”

Allen can become a restricted free agent at the end of the season, so Cleveland can match if he gets an offer elsewhere. Therefore, unless something off the wall happens, Allen will probably be in Cleveland for years to come, which is a good thing.

Clippers begin second half of season on March 11 against GSW

The LA Clippers will tip off the second half of the 2020-21 season on Thursday, March 11 vs. the Golden State Warriors on TNT, and have released their second half schedule.

The second half of the Clippers’ season includes seven back-to-backs and two series, with two games at the Dallas Mavericks in March and a back-to-back at the San Antonio Spurs March 24-25. The Clippers will host a nine-game homestand from March 27 – April 11 that includes nationally-televised matchups against the Denver Nuggets, Los Angeles Lakers, and Phoenix Suns. The team will conclude the regular season on the road with games at the Toronto Raptors, Charlotte Hornets, Houston Rockets, and Oklahoma City Thunder, and wrap regular season play on May 16.

Prime Ticket and FOX Sports San Diego (soon to be rebranded Bally Sports SoCal and Bally Sports San Diego) will televise all Clippers games not airing exclusively on TNT, ESPN, or ABC. Additionally, all games airing on the regional sports networks will be available for live streaming via the FOX Sports GO app and FOXSportsGO.com.

Here is the complete second half schedule:

Clippers second half Schedule

Dallas Mavericks announce second half schedule

The Dallas Mavericks announced their 2020-21 second half schedule today, which includes 38 games beginning with a showdown against in-state rival San Antonio at American Airlines Center on Wednesday, March 10 at 7:30 p.m. CT.

2020-21-Dallas-Mavericks-Second-Half-Schedule

Of those 38 games, half (19) will occur at home and the other half will take place on the road. The team’s second half schedule includes three games that were postponed during the first half of the season – April 7 at Houston (originally scheduled for Feb. 19), April 21 vs. Detroit (originally Feb. 17) and May 12 vs. New Orleans (originally Jan. 11).

After seeing 11 of their first 16 games of the season originally scheduled to be road contests (a postponed game resulted in Dallas playing 11 of its first 15 away from home), the Mavericks are also slated to play 11 of their first 16 games during the second half away from American Airlines Center.

Dallas concluded its season series with five teams (Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Orlando and Phoenix) during the first half of the year. On the contrary, there are five clubs (Cleveland, Detroit, New York, Sacramento and Washington) that the Mavericks are scheduled to face for the first time during the second half of the season.

The Mavericks will host Kawhi Leonard and the Los Angeles Clippers in consecutive games on March 15 and 17. LeBron James and the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers are slated to visit Dallas for a two-game series on April 22 and 24. The Brooklyn Nets’ trio of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden will make their lone trip to American Airlines Center on May 6.

Dallas is scheduled to play 14 nationally televised games during the second half of the season, including four on ESPN, three on TNT, one on ABC and six on NBA TV.

The team’s longest homestand during the back half of the season is a five-game stretch against New York (April 16), Sacramento (April 18), Detroit (April 21) and the Lakers (April 22 and 24). The club’s longest road trip is also five games against New Orleans (March 27), Oklahoma City (March 29), Boston (March 31), New York (April 2) and Washington (April 3).

The Mavericks are scheduled to play 10 back-to-backs during the second half of the season. Four of those will require no travel (begin and end at home), two will be on the road, two are home-to-road and two are road-to-home.

FOX Sports Southwest will air 35 of Dallas’ 38 games over the second half of the season with Mark Followill, Derek Harper and Jeff “Skin” Wade calling the action. All games can be heard on ESPN 103.3 FM with Chuck Cooperstein and Brad Davis on the call. Univision 1270 AM will broadcast all games in Spanish with Victor Villalba providing the play-by-play.

The format for the 72-game schedule has the Mavericks slated play each Western Conference team three times (at least once at home and once on the road) and each Eastern Conference team twice (once at home, once on the road) in 2020-21. The first half schedule included games from Dec. 23, 2020 to March 3, 2021. The 2021 NBA Playoffs will begin on Saturday, May 22, 2021, and the play-in tournament will be held during the week preceding and be televised exclusively by ESPN and TNT.

Here is the schedule for the second half of the season for Dallas:

2020-21-Dallas-Mavericks-Second-Half-Schedule