DEC 27 KINGS LOSE HEAD COACH, STAR CENTER IN FOR MEDICAL REASONS
The Sacramento Kings will be missing head coach Mike Brown and star center Domantas Sabonis for an indefinite, but hopefully brief, stretch. Brown entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols after displaying mild symptoms of COVID-19 while Sabonis is dealing with a thumb injury on his non-shooting hand. Neither appeared in Tuesday night’s 113-106 loss to the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday night. Assistant coach Jordi Fernandez is serving as the team’s interim head coach in Brown’s place. Sabonis, a seventh-year veteran out of Gonzaga is the team’s leading rebounder (12.5) in his second Sacramento season.
The Kings (17-15) are looking to end the longest postseason drought among the so-called “big four” major North American professional sports leagues at 16 years. They currently hold the top seed in the four-team Play-In Tournament, a half-game behind sixth-place Dallas for the final automatic Western Conference playoff spots. Sacramento returns to action on Wednesday night, facing the Nuggets again to complete a back-to-back (10 p.m. ET, NBA TV).
DEC 25 SHAKE MILTON CHRISTMAS MIRACLE VS. KNICKS
Just before halftime between the New York Knicks and Philadelphia 76ers, an early candidate for shot of the year was hoisted right at the buzzer.
James Harden stole the ball from Jalen Brunson, where it landed in Shake Milton’s hands just beyond halfcourt, where he hoisted the ball just beyond halfcourt to hit the backboard and into the net.
Here’s a look at the shot …
The Knicks lead 63-60 after Julius Randle’s 25-point performance in the first half.
DEC 23 HARDEN PROVIDES EARLY PHILLY CHRISTMAS GIFT
In the Philadelphia 76ers’ final game before making their Christmas Day arrival to Madison Square Garden on Sunday (12 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN), James Harden posted one of the most unique box scores in NBA history, becoming just the ninth player all-time to post a triple-double featuring at least 20 points, 20 assists, and 10 rebounds.
Harden joined a list that also includes Wilt Chamberlain, Luka Doncic, Magic Johnson, Oscar Robertson, and Russell Westbrook during Philadelphia’s comeback from a 20-point deficit against the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday night, putting in 20 points and helping on 21 more tallies while pulling down 11 rebounds in the 119-114 triumph.
In addition to his new role in NBA history, Harden is now among the greats in 76ers history: he joins Maurice Cheeks as the franchise’s all-time leader in single-game assists and became the first player Pennsylvanian since Chamberlain to earn at least 20 points and assists in the same game.
Joel Embiid led the 76ers with 44 points in the comeback victory. Philadelphia (19-12) has won each of its past seven and will face the Knicks for the 13th time on Christmas Day, expanding the holiday record for most stagings of a single matchup.
DEC 22 FORMER LIBERTY STAR BECKY HAMMON AMONG 2023 HOF CANDIDATES
The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame unveiled its list of candidates for its 2023 class, a group partly headlined by former New York Liberty star Becky Hammon.
Hammon, who earned a WNBA championship as the first-year head coach of the Las Vegas Aces in September, is one of seven names enshrined in the Liberty’s Ring of Honor, having spent her first American professional seasons (1999-2006) in seafoam. She continues to rank near the top of the franchise’s all-time marks, including fourth in points (2,367) and assists (575) and second in three-pointers (331). Hammon made a name for herself on the NBA level as an assistant on fellow finalist Gregg Popovich’s staff with the San Antonio Spurs.
Their proteges Pau Gasol and Tony Parker are also among the headliners, as are Dirk Nowitzki, Dwyane Wade, and the 1976 United States women’s basketball team, the winners of the inaugural women’s tournament at the Olympics in Montreal.
DEC 20 DAMIAN LILLARD MAKES PORTLAND HISTORY IN NARROW LOSS
Damian Lillard became the all-time leading scorer in Portland Trail Blazers history on Monday night, passing Clyde Drexler during the third quarter of a showdown against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Lillard needed 21 points to secure the honor and earned the fateful tally at the free throw line and now tops the scoring list of the franchise formed in 1970.
Entering the league in 2012 as a first-round pick out of Weber State, Lillard has spent his entire career with the Blazers. He finished Monday night with 28 points, the last pair of which came on an equalizing layup with just over three seconds remaining in regulation. Alas for Portland, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s buzzer-beating jumper denied them a win on a historic night, as Oklahoma City prevailed in a 123-121 final.
Lillard did not play in the first matchup between the Knicks and Blazers (17-14) in November. A rematch in Portland is scheduled for March 14.
DEC 18 FORMER KNICKS STAR AMAR’E STOUDEMIRE ACCUSED OF STRIKING DAUGHTER
Former Knicks star Amar’e Stoudemire was arrested on allegations of domestic violence on Saturday. The Miami Herald was the first to report Stoudemire’s arrest, said to be in response to the NBA veteran striking one of his daughters.
“I observed blood stains on the victim’s sweater and sweatpants,” the arrest report obtained by The Herald reads. “The mother of the victim showed me the photo she received from her daughter, which shows the victim crying and blood running down her face.” The same report states that Stoudemire told officers that his daughter “received a whooping from him for being disrespectful and a liar.”
The incident apparently happened shortly after Stoudemire received his master’s degree from the University of Miami, which earned a congratulatory tweet from the Knicks. Stoudemire partook in 14 NBA seasons, including five with the Knicks, which yielded the last of six All-Star appearances and an All-NBA Second Team nomination in 2011.
DEC 18 LAKERS LOSE DAVIS FOR “AT LEAST ONE MONTH;” BACK FOR KNICKS’ VISIT?
Per Shams Charania, Los Angeles Lakers star forward Anthony Davis will miss “at least one month” with a foot injury sustained in the team’s Friday win over Denver. The 29-year-old Davis was averaging 27.4 points and a career-best 12.1 rebounds at the time of the ailment, which forced him to leave the nationally-televised tilt against the Nuggets during first quarter action. Davis had already been ruled out for the Lakers’ Sunday showdown against the Washington Wizards (9:30 p.m. ET, Spectrum SportsNet).
As it stands, the Lakers (12-16) sit 1.5 games out of the final Western Conference Play-In Tournament spot. LeBron James put in 30 points while Trevor Bryant added 21 off the bench in Davis’ absence to top the Nuggets by a 126-108 final. It’s possible Davis could return in time for the first of two meetings between the Lakers and Knicks this season, as the two sides are set to do battle on Jan. 31 at Madison Square Garden.
DEC 15 CURRY OUT ‘A FEW WEEKS, LIKELY GONE FOR MSG VISIT
Per ESPN, Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry will miss at least “a few weeks” with a left shoulder injury sustained during Wednesday’s game against the Indiana Pacers.
Though Golden State (14-15) is struggling in its latest title defense, Curry was fulfilling his superstar duties to the tune of 30 points and 6.8 assists per game. He had 38 points upon his third quarter exit from Wednesday’s tilt in Indianapolis, a 125-119 defeat that served as the Warriors’ fourth loss in the past five games. Golden State currently holds the final Play-In Tournament spot in the Western Conference as they enter a four-game Eastern swing that begins on Friday night in Philadelphia (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN).
Curry’s reported diagnosis will more than likely remove him from the Warriors’ upcoming showdown with the Knicks on Dec. 20. It was set to be Curry’s first appearance at MSG since last December when he became the NBA’s all-time leader in successful three-pointers during a win over New York.
DEC 13 JORDAN RULES: NBA ATTACHES MJ’S NAME TO MVP AWARD
Following up on the unveiling of last week’s new hardware, several NBA legends will now have their names attached to the league’s major year-end honors, the Association announced. The list is headlined by the Michael Jordan MVP Trophy, named after the Chicago Bulls legend widely considered to be the greatest player in NBA history. Nikola Jokic of Denver is the two-time defending earner of the award.
Other legends of the game honored with hardware include Wilt Chamberlain (Rookie of the Year), John Havlicek (Sixth Man of the Year), George Mikan (Most Improved Player), Hakeem Olajuwon (Defensive Player of the Year), and Jerry West (Clutch Player of the Year).
DEC 12 CUNNINGHAM’S SOPHOMORE SEASON IS OVER
Per Adrian Wojnarowski, Detroit Pistons sophomore Cade Cunningham has shut down for the 2022-23 campaign, opting for season-ending shin surgery. The top pick in the 2021 NBA Draft appeared in 12 games this season, averaging 19.9 points, 6.2 rebounds, and six assists after finishing third in NBA Rookie of the Year voting last season. With the surgery, Cunningham is expected to be ready in time for the 2023-24 campaign
DEC 11 BOOKER MISSES SUNS’ PEACEFUL, FUTILE REMATCH WITH PELICANS
Devin Booker was a late scratch from the Phoenix Suns’ Sunday lineup, diagnosed with hamstring tightness prior to their showdown with the New Orleans Pelicans. Booker was forced to watch the Suns’ fourth consecutive loss, a 129-124 defeat at the hands of the Western Conference leaders.
“I didn’t see the normal ‘Book’ look,” Suns head coach Monty Williams said of the decision to sit Booker, per ESPN. “As an organization, it’s just best to make sure he’s good … “He wants to play as Book would. We’re just trying to be as smart as we can.”
Booker had partaken in each of the Suns’ first 26 games averaging 27.4 points, 5.8 assists, and 4.8 rebounds. Phoenix (16-11) faced New Orleans just two days after tensions arose after Zion Williams slammed down a dunk with a 128-117 decision well in hand during the final seconds. Sunday’s game was a placid affair, as New Orleans (18-8) captured its seventh win in a row.
Time will tell if Booker is forced to miss more time. The Suns return to action on Tuesday in Houston (8 p.m. ET, Bally Sports Arizona).
DEC 10 EX-KNICKS COACH BROWN STEPS DOWN AT MEMPHIS
Citing health concerns, former Knicks head coach Larry Brown stepped down from his advisory role at the University of Memphis’ men’s basketball program. The well-traveled Brown, who coached the Knicks for one season (2005-06), had been an assistant on former metropolitan protege Penny Hardaway’s staff since June 2021 though he primarily operated in off-the-court affairs.
A statement from Memphis indicates that Brown’s health problems are “not considered serious.”
“We wish Coach Brown a speedy recovery,” Hardaway said. “Having Coach Brown as part of our program over the last year-and-a-half was very impactful on our student-athletes and me as a coach, and we hope all the best for him and good health moving forward.
Brown amassed a 1,098-904 record as an NBA coach, his last such experience coming in 2010-11 with Charlotte. Memphis (7-2) returns to action on Saturday late afternoon against No. 11 Auburn (4 p.m. ET, ESPN2).
DEC 8 BRITTNEY GRINER RETURNS HOME IN PRISONER EXCHANGE
WNBA star Brittney Griner is returning home to the United States as part of a prisoner exchange that will release her from a Russian penal camp. Griner’s freedom was ensured in exchange for convicted Russian arms deal Viktor Bout, known as the “Merchant of Death.”
Griner, partaking in professional overseas basketball in Russia after her ninth season with the domestic Phoenix Mercury, was arrested for carrying vape cartridges containing cannabis oil in a Moscow airport and spent 294 days in Russian custody, a detainment seen as unlawful and excessive, especially after she was sentenced to nine years in August. WNBA players and other figures throughout the basketball world advocated for Griner’s release throughout the season and beyond.
President Joe Biden confirmed Griner’s release in a press conference in Washington D.C., where Griner’s wife Cherelle spoke.
“Today my family is whole, but as you all are aware, there are so many families who are not whole,” Cherelle said. “BG’s not here to say this, but I will gladly speak on her behalf to say BG and I will remain committed to the work of getting every American home.”
DEC 6 NBA UNVEILS NEW BEST RECORD TROPHY
The NBA unveiled revamped and renamed honors and trophies, the batch headlined by a new award that will honor the team with the best regular season record. Similar to the NHL’s Presidents’ Trophy, the award will be named the Maurice Podoloff Trophy after the first president of both the NBA and its predecessor, the Basketball Association of America. The trophy is a crystal ball cut into 82 panels, representing the number of games in a standard NBA season, sitting on a pedestal of rings meant to represent the Eastern and Western Conferences.
The unveiling of the regular season champion’s trophy was part of a new design showcase, as the coaching, sportsmanship, and teammate awards (respectively named after Red Auerbach, Joe Dumars, and Maurice Stokes/Jack Twyman) were all re-designed. Podoloff’s name also graces the current NBA MVP Award held by Nikola Jokic, hinting that further change could be on the way.
DEC 5 HARDEN WORKS OVERTIME IN RETURN TO HOUSTON
The Knicks’ Atlantic Division rivals from Philadelphia welcomed back James Harden to their lineup on Monday night as the 76ers fell by a 132-123 final to the Houston Rockets in double overtime. Harden, perhaps appropriately, made his return at the site of his breakout as a premier talent, having repped the Rockets for nine seasons before spending most of the past two seasons with Brooklyn.
A foot injury sidelined Harden for just over a month, causing him to miss 15 games, including the Knicks’ visit to Philadelphia on Nov. 4. Harden had 21 points on 4-of-19 shooting from the field on Monday, playing 38 minutes after the game went into extra periods. Monday also marked the first time Harden descended upon Houston’s Toyota Center since the January 2021 trade that sent him east.
“This is where he was made,” Sixers head coach Doc Rivers said of Harden’s homecoming. “This is his home place, his hometown in a lot of ways, basketball speaking. It will always be a great memory for him, no matter what, whenever he comes here.”
Philadelphia (12-12) next faces the Knicks on Christmas Day at Madison Square Garden. In the meantime, they’ll try to end a three-game losing streak against the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN).
DEC 4 D-ROSE TO BIG D?
Don’t let the hard words exchanged between each team’s fan base fool you … the New York Knicks and the Dallas Mavericks might secretly love each other based on all the connections they’ve had since 2019.
According to Ric Bucher of Fox Sports, the Mavs are interested in Knicks point guard Derrick Rose, who we’ve pegged as being a potential third ball-handler fix for Dallas in recent weeks.
“The Mavericks, of course, lost [Jalen] Brunson to the [New York] Knicks last summer and are in desperate need of a second playmaker to relieve All-Star point forward Luka Dončić,” writes Bucher “They’ve brought on a former Knick, Kemba Walker, for a test run, but a league source said they also have interest in a current one, the aforementioned Rose.”
If the Mavs did want to trade for Rose, they’d have to salary-match the $14.5 million he’s making this season. Rose has a team option on his current contract for $15.5 million next season.
DEC 1 CELTICS COMMIT TO HORFORD THROUGH 2025
Per ESPN, the Boston Celtics have agreed to a two-year contract extension worth $20 million. It’ll keep the 36-year-old and 16-year veteran in green through the 2024-25 campaign. Horford is in the midst of his fifth season and second term in Beantown, notably serving in the team’s starting five when they went to the NBA Finals last season. He became a bit of a folk hero when he had 26 points in the Celtics’ Game 1 victory over Golden State.
Boston, the current leader of the Eastern Conference, next faces the Knicks on Jan. 26, having previously earned a 133-118 victory in Manhattan on Nov. 5. Horford missed that game with lower back stiffness.
NOV 28 KEMBA WALKS TO DALLAS
The Dallas Mavericks are set to sign former Knicks point guard Kemba Walker. The 32-year-old spent last season in New York after 10 prior seasons between Charlotte and Boston, making four NBA All-Star appearances.
The 32-year-old signed a two-year, $17.8 million deal with the Knicks last season but appeared in only 37 games due to knee issues. He put up career-worsts in nearly every major statistical category, which led the Knicks on a $104 million pursuit for Jalen Brunson.
“We wanted to add some flexibility to our offense,” Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said of the addition. “Like last year at this point, we have great shot quality, particularly from the 3, but we have struggled to make enough of them. Kemba will give (head coach Jason Kidd) more offensive flexibility.”
Dallas (9-10) has dropped five of its past six as they attempt to expand upon last year’s unexpected trip to the Western Conference Finals. Walker won’t have to wait long for a return to Madison Square Garden, as the Mavericks are set to visit on Saturday afternoon.
NOV 20 SATURDAY NIGHT NBA ROUNDUP
The NBA had an exciting number of games take place on Saturday night, led by the Trae Young and the Atlanta Hawks defeating the Toronto Raptors in overtime, 124-122. Thanks to that result, the New York Knicks move to within a half-game of the Raptors for seventh place in the Eastern Conference.
Here is a list of all the other final scores from Saturday’s slate:
Pacers over Magic, 114-113
Timberwolves over 76ers, 112-109
Jazz over Trail Blazers 118-113
Clippers over Spurs, 119-97
With the Jazz’s win over the Trail Blazers, teams first-through-seventh in the Western Conference are all tied in the loss column with six. The wild, wild West is still very much wild as we near the quarter mark of the 2022-23 season.
NOV 18 HAWKS SHOPPING JOHN COLLINS
Per Shams Charania, the Atlanta Hawks have “opened up preliminary trade discussions involving John Collins,” with Phoenix listed as the early favorite to land his services The Western Conference’s defending No. 1 seed is reportedly looking to move its own big man, Jae Crowder.
Collins, 25, is in the second year of a five-year deal worth $125 million. There is no imminent deal involving Collins but Charania’s report declares that the Hawks have dedicated themselves to the long haul in terms of a trade. Collins has averaged 12.6 points and 7.7 rebounds in just under 32 minutes a game this season, having started each of the Hawks’ 15 games thus far.
NOV 17 KYRIE IRVING SET FOR SUNDAY RETURN
Per Shams Charania, Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Irving will be cleared to return for the team’s Sunday contest against Memphis. That game will the Nets’ return to Barclays Center after a four-game road trip, which concludes on Friday in Portland (10 p.m. ET, YES).
Irving last played on Nov. 1 before being suspended for failing to properly address his apparent promotion of a film containing antisemitic propaganda. The mandated absence was said to last a minimum of five games. If he indeed returns on Sunday, Irving will have eight, including the Nets’ 112-85 win over the Knicks last week. Brooklyn has gone 4-3 in his absence.
NOV 15 BANE’S CAREER-BEST START HALTED BY INJURY
Desmond Bane, the Memphis Grizzlies’ breakout shooter, will miss two-to-three weeks with a right big toe sprain, the team announced. Bane has established himself as one of the Association’s most prominent threats from deep in the early going, finishing second in three-point success rate at .436 last season. He has expanded his scoring prowess to new heights this season, averaging 24.7 points per game (15th on the current ledger). The injury was said to occur during the Grizzlies’ Friday win over the Washington Wizards.
Bane put up 16 points in the Grizzlies’ Oct. 16 showdown against the Knicks, the first game of the season for both teams. Time will tell if he’s ready to return by the time the Madison Square Garden rematch arrives on Nov. 27
NOV 14 CURRY, EMBIID EARN POTW AWARDS
At the end of the fourth week of NBA action, Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors and Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers. Curry averaged 38 points in the last week en route to the West’s honor, continuing a torrid shooting pace. In the East, Embiid put in what’s sure to stand as one of the most dominating performances of the year on Sunday, scoring a jaw-dropping 59 points to go with 11 rebounds, eight assists, and seven blocks in a win over Utah.
The Knicks will face Curry and the Warriors on Friday night in the third game of a five-contest trip against Western Conference competition.
NOV 13 KYRIE’S GOT SOME WORK TO DO
The New York Knicks’ rivals, the Brooklyn Nets, seem to have turned a corner lately, as they’ve won four of their last five games. Coincidentally, that turn has happened with star point guard Kyrie Irving being sidelined due to a team suspension stemming from him refusing to state that he doesn’t hold any anti-Semitic beliefs.
According to Nets owner Joe Tsai, it looks like it could still be a while before Irving returns, but that might be a bad thing for Brooklyn based on how it has played with his distractions being gone.
“He still has work to do,” Tsai told the New York Post. “He has to show people he’s sorry. What’s important — and what people miss — is he only apologized after he was suspended.”
NOV 11 BARRETT, BRUNSON LEAD KNICKS PAST PISTONS
The Knicks climbed back to .500 on Friday night as they defeated the Pistons at Madison Square Garden, 121-112. RJ Barrett led the way with 30 points on 10-17 shooting from the field, and Jalen Brunson poured in 26 on 8-16 shooting to go with seven assists.
New York has been inconsistent at times this season, but when the team is clicking, it looks really good and shows potential for what could come down the line when and if a superstar is acquired via trade. After seeing how hot the Cleveland Cavaliers have started out, perhaps the Knicks wish they would’ve gotten Donovan Mitchell when they had the opportunity.
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