NBA

Thunder spoil Westbrook's OKC return, Embiid-less 76ers rally past Celtics

By Sports Desk January 10, 2020

Russell Westbrook returned to his former home but the Houston Rockets fell to the Oklahoma City Thunder 113-92 in the NBA on Thursday.

Westbrook was dealt by the Thunder to the Rockets in the offseason after 11 years, an MVP and eight All-Star appearances with Oklahoma City.

The Rockets star was given a standing ovation as he returned to Oklahoma City for the first time since the trade, but the Thunder emerged victorious.

Westbrook had a game-high 34 points to lead the Rockets away from home, while Danilo Gallinari's 23 points and 11 rebounds fuelled the Thunder.

The Philadelphia 76ers overcame the absence of All-Star Joel Embiid to trump Eastern Conference rivals the Boston Celtics 109-98.

Embiid is set to undergo surgery on a torn ligament in a finger in his left hand, but the 76ers still managed to rally past the Celtics at Wells Fargo Center.

Josh Richardson posted 29 points as the 76ers overturned a double-digit deficit against the Celtics, who dropped their third straight.

 

Career night for Thompson as slumping Cavs snap streak

Tristan Thompson had a career-high 35 points and 14 rebounds as the lowly Cleveland Cavaliers rallied to snap a five-game losing streak by topping the Detroit Pistons 115-112 in overtime.

 

Harden fails to fire

James Harden scored 17 points but he was not at his usual best. The Rockets star was just five of 17 from the field and two of nine from three-point range.

Carmelo Anthony was limited to eight points as the Portland Trail Blazers lost 116-102 at the Minnesota Timberwolves. The veteran was three of 10 from the field, while he missed all three of his attempts from beyond the arc.

 

All smiles

Westbrook returned to OKC as an opposition player but he was showered in love by the Thunder fans before and after the game.

 

Thursday's results

Philadelphia 76ers 109-98 Boston Celtics
Cleveland Cavaliers 115-112 Detroit Pistons (OT)
Minnesota Timberwolves 116-102 Portland Trail Blazers
Oklahoma City Thunder 113-92 Houston Rockets

 

Lakers at Mavericks

Western Conference leaders the Los Angeles Lakers (30-7) are on the road against the Dallas Mavericks (23-14) on Friday. The Lakers are riding a six-game winning streak, though they could be without star Anthony Davis due to a gluteus maximus contusion.

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    John Beilein has resigned as head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers after a short stint at the helm.

    Beilein joined the Cavaliers from college team Michigan on a multi-year contract in May, but stepped down on Wednesday.

    The 67-year-old – who oversaw an Eastern Conference-worst 14-40 record this season, only behind the Golden State Warriors (12-43) in the entire league – will be reassigned to a different role in Cleveland, where J.B. Bickerstaff will take over from Beilein.

    "Over these last nine months, I have given my all to this organisation, but after much reflection, I have decided that it is best that I step back and resign from my position as head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers and assist the organisation in a different capacity," said Beilein, who spent the previous 12 seasons as coach of Michigan.

    "I am very grateful to Dan Gilbert, Koby Altman and the entire Cavaliers organisation for the opportunity they have provided me.

    "This was a very difficult decision for me, but I want to be clear – this was my decision to step down and I truly appreciate the understanding and support of the front office during this time. I find losing very challenging and this year has taken a much bigger toll on me than I expected.

    "I grew concerned for the consequences this toll could potentially take on my own health and my family's well-being down the road. I was not certain I could be at my best for the remainder of the season and in the future. That would not be fair to the players, coaches and support staff.

    "I also would not be doing this now, during the season, if J.B. Bickerstaff was not ready and capable to assume the head coaching role immediately and continue the rebuilding process that we have started.

    "For 45 years and more than 1,300 games, my journey as a basketball coach has been a dream come true. I have never been afraid of a challenge and have given each one my all – sometimes to the detriment of my own well-being. I want to thank my wife, Kathleen, for being by my side and I appreciate the outpouring of support from family, friends, and colleagues during this time. I look forward to being able to spend more time with my wife, kids and grandchildren over the coming months."

    Cavs general manager Koby Altman added: "John Beilein is one of the more accomplished basketball coaches in the history of our game and while it's unexpected, we understand and respect his decision to step down as head coach of the Cavaliers.

    "I was excited about the development of our young players, who have all shown growth and maturity under coach Beilein. We are thankful for the time he spent as head coach with the Cavaliers and are looking forward to his continued contribution.

    "The NBA is a unique business that sometimes requires aggressive risk-taking on important long-term decisions to move a franchise forward and ultimately compete for championships. I would like to thank the incredible fans of the Cavaliers for their support in both good and challenging times. Building a strong culture will continue to be the top priority here at the Cavaliers."

  • Stephen Curry returns to practice, Warriors treating him like Tom Brady Stephen Curry returns to practice, Warriors treating him like Tom Brady

    Stephen Curry was back at practice with the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday, with Steve Kerr admitting the two-time MVP got the Tom Brady treatment from his team-mates.

    Warriors guard Curry has been sidelined since October having twice undergone surgery on a broken hand, but he recently said he remained on course to return next month.

    Golden State were boosted by Curry's involvement in their defensive drills and shooting practice in their first practice since the All-Star break. 

    However, given Curry's status as the team's star and the nature of his injury, Kerr joked he ordered players not to make contact with the 31-year-old as if he were a red-shirted NFL quarterback in practice.

    "We're calling him Tom Brady today. Don't touch Steph," Kerr told reporters, referencing the six-time Super Bowl champion.

    "I think it was more for fun than anything. He took part in everything apart other than our scrimmage. Our scrimmage at the end, he didn't do that.

    "He's looking great. He cannot be touched!"

    Reports suggest Curry's return could come on March 1 against the Washington Wizards, with the Warriors having five games on the schedule before then.

    Kerr insisted there was no definitive timeframe for Curry's comeback but added he was impressed by his conditioning.

    "I don't know when he's going to be allowed to scrimmage. It's not this week or anything," he said.

    "He looks really good. He's gaining strength, gaining confidence.

    "He's been putting himself through some brutal workouts so his conditioning is about as good as it can possibly be because of somebody who hasn't been able to scrimmage because of how he goes about his work."

    The Warriors have made the NBA Finals in each of the previous five years but this season they are bottom of the Western Conference with an NBA-worst 12-43 record.

    As well as Curry's lengthy absence, they have had to content with five-time All-Star Klay Thompson being sidelined by a torn anterior cruciate ligament that is expected to keep him out for the entire campaign.

    "It's easy to look and say, 'In a couple of weeks, Steph's going to be ready to play', but Klay's a long way from that," Kerr added.

    "I don't even entertain any thoughts of Klay playing this year."

  • Irving to see another specialist due to shoulder injury Irving to see another specialist due to shoulder injury

    Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving is set to see another specialist to assess his shoulder injury.

    Irving has only played 20 games for the Nets (25-28) this season, missing a large part of the campaign due to his shoulder.

    Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson revealed on Tuesday that Irving would see another specialist this week.

    "The shoulder is a tough thing," he said, via ESPN.

    "I just think it was an on and off thing where it's bothering you. Some days you feel good, some days you don't feel good.

    "But I think it got to the point it was, 'Hey, let's see another specialist'."

    Irving is averaging 27.4 points, 6.4 assists and 5.2 rebounds for the Nets this season.

    Brooklyn are seventh in the Eastern Conference and face the Philadelphia 76ers (34-21) on Thursday.

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