NBA

Blake Griffin closing in on Detroit Pistons return

By Sports Desk November 07, 2019

Detroit Pistons forward Blake Griffin is closing in on a return after he was cleared to resume all basketball related activities. 

Griffin has not featured this season after being sidelined by a hamstring injury and posterior knee soreness.

The Pistons announced on Thursday that the six-time All-Star, who underwent knee surgery in April, will be monitored on a daily basis. 

Detroit are 4-5 this season in the absence of Griffin, who was so impressive in the previous campaign. 

He averaged 24.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 5.4 assists last year while shooting 36.2 per cent from beyond the arc en route to the Pistons' eighth-seeded finish in the Western Conference.

A trip to Indiana Pacers on Friday is the next assignment for the Pistons, who beat the New York Knicks 122-102 on Wednesday.

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    Kawhi Leonard was happy to receive special attention from his former Toronto Raptors team-mates as he overcame a mixed individual night in a valuable win for the Los Angeles Clippers.

    The Clippers moved to 7-3 for the season with a 98-88 victory over the defending NBA champions at Staples Center on Monday.

    Leonard, the Finals MVP with the Raptors last season, had his worst game since joining the Clippers, as he had a career-high nine turnovers and shot only 2-of-11 from the field.

    He was harassed by the Raptors (also now 7-3) throughout, often double-teamed and trapped as well as being challenged at half court.

    But Leonard felt the experience proved beneficial and produced some good moments as the game progressed, eventually finishing with a line of 12 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists.

    "They made me better," Leonard told reporters. "As soon as I walked across half court, they were trying to get the ball out of my hands, sending an extra defender. 

    "[Opponents] are going to do it at times in the playoffs and regular season and they [Clippers team-mates] are going to knock down the open shot. That's what wins games: open shots. We came out with the win. 

    "They did a great job on me - but I'm glad they did. It made me better and it's going to make my team-mates better as well.

    "It's even better coming out with a win. My team-mates made shots. It wasn't one of those nights for me."

    Leonard acknowledged facing the Raptors is always going to feel a little different given he remains on good terms with head coach Nick Nurse and much of the roster.

    But he was keen to leave last season's NBA title and his subsequent free agency decision in the past.

    "We grew a relationship," Leonard added. "It's just fun being able to compete against guys you were with last year. 

    "From that aspect, it's a little bit more competitive because you do talk to them. So I can tell them that we won the game.

    "But no, why would I think about last season? It's over now, we won. 

    "Like I said before, I had a great time here and it's the next chapter. I can't live in the past and be so excited that I won [a championship]. 

    "I won with a different team, a different unit. They want to have that same feeling and I do as well. I'm a Clipper right now and I'm trying to win."

  • Raptors 'went full guns' at Kawhi Leonard in first meeting since title-winning season Raptors 'went full guns' at Kawhi Leonard in first meeting since title-winning season

    Nick Nurse felt the Toronto Raptors did a good job of keeping Kawhi Leonard quiet and outplayed the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday, despite eventually going down to a 98-88 defeat.

    Leonard scored 12 points, claimed 11 rebounds and laid on nine assists in his first clash against the Raptors since his departure after playing a huge part in Toronto winning a first NBA title last season.

    Nurse had vowed to stay up late and make plans to make life difficult for the NBA Finals MVP after the reigning champions beat the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday.

    And the Raptors head coach thought his side were effective in limiting the impact made by Leonard at Staples Center, albeit without reward.

    Asked if it was strange seeing Leonard on the other side, Nurse replied: "A little bit.

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    Nurse believes the Raptors, who lost OG Anunoby to an eye injury early on, were unfortunate to suffer a loss which leaves them at 7-3 for the season, all three of their defeats coming on the road.

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    Stephen Curry "definitely" expects to be ready to play again this season, with the point guard aiming for an early spring return for the Golden State Warriors.

    Two-time NBA MVP Curry suffered a broken left hand on October 30 during a defeat to the Phoenix Suns, undergoing surgery to correct the issue.

    Golden State plan to re-evaluate the injury in February, although Curry – who has won three titles in his career with the Warriors – is confident of making a comeback, declaring that "the rest of the season is not lost".

    "I definitely expect to be ready to play. I don't know when – at some point in early spring," Curry told the media.

    "It's just a matter of the rehab process. I've never broken anything and dealt with a hand injury like this, so as you go through all the examinations and that type of stuff, and obviously surgery was required to make sure the hand heals properly, that's a tough, tough blow.

    "But [there is an] understanding there is a time frame where we can measure the rehab process, then figure out what the rest of the year looks like.

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    The 31-year-old confirmed he is likely to undergo further surgery before the end of the year, adding: "As part of the rehab, I have to get a second procedure done, at the beginning of December probably, and remove some of the pins that they put in there."

    Without Curry and fellow long-term absentee Klay Thompson, who suffered a torn ACL in his left knee in June, the Warriors have struggled badly at the start of the new campaign.

    A home loss to the Utah Jazz on Monday leaves them with a 2-9 record, an unusual situation for a franchise that has appeared in the NBA Finals every year since 2015.

    "I love to play basketball," Curry said. "I love having fun. I know Klay does too.

    "We're like some caged animals right now, ready to get unleashed back to what we do. Selfishly speaking, it should be fun for both of us, just to play basketball."

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