Boston Celtics' Isaiah Thomas continues to excel
Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas is finishing his first All-Star season in style. Thomas, who led the Eastern Conference in scoring (25.9 ppg) during March, has scored at least 20 points in 16 straight games, the longest streak by a Boston player since Paul Pierce’s 16-game run in February-March 2006. He has been the team’s outright scoring leader in all of those games, surpassing Larry Bird (13) for the longest such streak in franchise history.
With Thomas leading the way, the Celtics have clinched a playoff spot and are enjoying their best regular season since 2010-11. Boston (45-32) is tied for third place in the East with Atlanta (45-32), a half-game ahead of Miami (44-32) and Charlotte (44-32).
The Celtics visit the Hawks on Saturday (7:30 p.m. ET, NBA LEAGUE PASS) before closing the season with home games against Charlotte (April 11) and Miami (April 13).
Stephen Curry aims to join elite list
The NBA’s exclusive 50-40-90 club could be set to welcome a new member this season. Warriors guard Stephen Curry is on pace to become only the seventh qualifying player in league history to achieve the ultimate marker of efficiency for NBA shooters: hitting at least 50 percent from the field, 40 percent from three-point range and 90 percent from the free throw line.
Curry (50.6/45.9/90.3) is closing in on the 11th such season since the three-point line was introduced for the 1979-80 season, an accomplishment he would share with Larry Bird (two), Mark Price, Reggie Miller, Steve Nash (four), Dirk Nowitzki, and Kevin Durant.
The Thunder’s Durant (50.6/38.3/89.6) has been making another bid this season after reaching the milestone in 2012-13, while Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (51.0/45.7/88.7) is not far off after converting 18-of-18 from the free throw line in his last two games.
- Sean Highkin, ProBasketballTalk: “[Verizon Slam Dunk champion Zach LaVine] is donating $10,000 from his winnings from the contest to pay for a new kitchen at a St. Paul-area school for deaf students. This is an awesome gesture by LaVine, and a great cause. May he win many more dunk contests.”
- Damian Lillard, Trail Blazers guard: “I told [Celtics guard Avery Bradley] he was the best perimeter defender in the league. Because he is. … He's quick. He’s strong. Good anticipation. … He’s there every possession. He doesn’t get screened. He’s tough. You’ve got to give credit where it’s due.”
- CJ McCollum, Trail Blazers guard: “The game slows down each day. As you get more experience out there, as you get more comfortable with the NBA system, the offense, the schemes, you begin to understand where you're going to get your looks from. And I think a big part of playing well is not having to look over your shoulder and just understanding that you're consistently [being] counted on.”
LeBron James gearing up for playoffs
As the Cavaliers move closer to securing the top playoff seed in the East, LeBron James is looking primed for the postseason. James is averaging 28.6 points (on 56.9 percent shooting), 9.6 assists and 8.9 rebounds in his last seven games. Cleveland is 21-0 over the last two seasons when James scores at least 20 points and hands out 10 or more assists -- which he has done in three of his last four games and missed by one assist in the other game.
During his blistering seven-game stretch, James has passed both Dominique Wilkins and Oscar Robertson on the NBA’s career scoring list and now sits 11th all time with 26,749 points. James is 198 points from passing Hakeem Olajuwon (26,946) for 10th.
In fact, James was honored by the NBA for his recent efforts . . .
LeBron James and J.J. Barea named NBA Players of the Week
The Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James and the Dallas Mavericks’ J.J. Barea today were named NBA Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Week, respectively, for games played Monday, March 28 through Sunday, April 3.
James helped the Cavaliers to a 3-1 week (3-0 in games in which he appeared) behind averages of 28.0 points (first in the Eastern Conference), 10.7 assists (second), 9.3 rebounds (ninth) and 2.3 steals (tied-fifth).
James collected three double-doubles on the week, including a 29-point, 16-rebound effort during which he added nine assists as the Cavaliers topped the Atlanta Hawks 110-108 in overtime on April 1.
Barea helped the Mavericks to a 4-0 week behind averages of 23.5 points (sixth in the Western Conference), 6.8 assists (tied-sixth) and 3.0 rebounds. He scored 20-plus points three times and recorded one point-assist double-double.
On March 30, Barea connected on four three-pointers and finished with 26 points, seven assists and five rebounds during the Mavericks’ 91-89 win over the New York Knicks.
Other nominees for the NBA Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Week were Charlotte’s Kemba Walker, Golden State’s Stephen Curry, Houston’s James Harden, Orlando’s Nikola Vucevic, and San Antonio’s LaMarcus Aldridge.
What to Watch
Tuesday, April 5: The Warriors (69-8) look to become the second team in NBA history to win 70 games in a season when they play host to the Timberwolves in the second game of TNT’s doubleheader (10:30 p.m.). The Pistons and Heat, both battling for playoff position in the East, meet in the opener (8 p.m.).
Wednesday, April 6: Houston (38-39) begins the week one game behind Dallas (39-38) and Utah (39-38) for the last two playoff spots in the West. The Rockets and Mavericks face each other here in Dallas (9:30 p.m.) in the second game of ESPN’s doubleheader, which opens with the Cavaliers visiting the Pacers (7 p.m.).
Thursday, April 7: The Spurs and Warriors match up twice this week, beginning here at Golden State (10:30 p.m., TNT), followed by Sunday’s game at San Antonio (7 p.m., NBA TV).
Friday, April 8: The Grizzlies (41-36) and Mavericks, currently separated by two games in the West playoff chase, meet in Dallas at 8:30 p.m. on NBA TV.
Saturday, April 9: ABC’s final Saturday prime-time game of the regular season features the Cavaliers and Bulls in Chicago (8:30 p.m.). The Bulls start the week two games behind Indiana and Detroit for the final two playoff spots in the East.
Sunday, April 10: NBA TV is televising three games: Hornets-Wizards (12 p.m.), Mavericks-Clippers (3:30 p.m.) and Warriors-Spurs (7 p.m.).
- Pelicans guard Tim Frazier, last season’s NBA Development League Most Valuable Player and Rookie of the Year, is averaging 13.6 points (on 52.2 percent shooting), 6.0 assists and 3.9 rebounds in 10 games since signing with New Orleans.
- Spurs big man Tim Duncan needs one victory to join Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1,074) and Robert Parish (1,014) as the only players in NBA history with 1,000 regular-season wins. San Antonio’s next game is Tuesday at Utah (9 p.m. ET, NBA LEAGUE PASS), as the Spurs look to add to their new franchise record of 64 victories.
- The Warriors are the first team in NBA history to make at least 1,000 three-pointers in a season.
- Mavericks guard J.J. Barea has scored at least 20 points in each of his last three games, a career first. Over his last 10 games, he is averaging 18.5 points on 50.0 percent shooting.
- Cavaliers guard J.R. Smith has made 190 three-pointers this season, two shy of the team record set by Wesley Person (192) in 1997-98.
- Bucks forward Jabari Parker is averaging 19.2 points (on 51.0 percent shooting) and 6.4 rebounds in 23 games since the All-Star break.
- Utah is 10-3 in its last 13 games.
- Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns needs 74 points to break the franchise’s rookie scoring record of 1,472 set by Christian Laettner in the 1992-93 season.
- The Trail Blazers have won a season-high seven consecutive home games. They are 16-2 in their last 18 games at the Moda Center.
- Magic forward Andrew Nicholson is averaging 15.2 points (on 61.8 percent shooting) in 20.2 minutes over his last six games.
- 76ers forward Carl Landry is averaging 15.4 points (on 57.5 percent shooting) and 6.1 rebounds in 22.6 minutes over his last eight games.
Hall of Fame 2016 Class Announced
The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced the 10 members of the Class of 2016 to be honored September 8-10, 2016 during this year’s Enshrinement festivities in Springfield, Massachusetts.
“The Class of 2016 is big in stature, personality and impact,” said Jerry Colangelo, Chairman of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Board. “These ten inductees have each contributed to the game in their own meaningful way and we are very pleased to honor them in Springfield.”
This year’s class includes 27-year NBA referee Darell Garretson, eleven-time NBA All-Star Allen Iverson, two-time NABC Coach of the Year Tom Izzo, the first African-American coach in a professional league John McLendon, three-time NBA Finals MVP Shaquille O’Neal, and four-time WNBA Champion Sheryl Swoopes.
Distinguished committees focused on preserving all areas from the game also selected four directly elected members. They include Zelmo Beaty from the Veterans Committee, Yao Ming from the International Committee, Cumberland Posey from the Early African American Pioneers Committee and Jerry Reinsdorf from the Contributor Committee.
“The impact the Class of 2016 has had on the game of basketball is gigantic,” said John L. Doleva, President and CEO of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. “To have several icons of the game be recognized in the same year makes this class one of the most memorable to date. We look forward to honoring each of these inductees during Enshrinement in September.”
To be elected, North American and Women’s Committee finalists must receive 18 of 24 votes from the Honors Committee for election into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Direct elect committees are incorporated into the election process to maintain a strong focus on keeping history on the forefront of the voting procedures and to preserve a balance between two eras of basketball.
The Class of 2016 will be enshrined at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts on Friday, September 9.
THE NAISMITH MEMORIAL BASKETBALL HALL OF FAME CLASS OF 2016:
DARELL GARRETSON [Referee] – Garretson, a native of Long Point, Illionois, served as an NBA official for 27 years, officiating 1,798 regular season games, 269 playoff games, 41 Finals games and five All-Star games. He was instrumental in organizing and heading the first union for referees, the National Association of Basketball Referees. He is widely considered the individual who shaped modern basketball officiating with a three-person crew and a focus on “refereeing the defense”. He served as NBA Chief of Officiating Staff and Director of Officials (1981-98) and is the only person to have served as a staff referee and Chief of Staff simultaneously.
ALLEN IVERSON [Player] – An 11-time NBA All-Star (2000-06, 2008, 2009), Iverson played 14 NBA seasons averaging 26.7 points and 6.2 assists per game. A three-time All-NBA First Team selection (1999, 2001, 2005), he led the league in scoring average four times (1999, 2001, 2002, 2005), steals per game three times (2001-03) and minutes per game seven times (1999, 2001-04, 2006-08). Iverson was named NBA Rookie of the Year in 1997 and NBA MVP in 2001. The Hampton, Virginia native attended Georgetown University (1994-1996) where he set the school record for career scoring average and earned consensus First Team All-America honors (1996).
TOM IZZO [Coach] – A native of Iron Mountain, Michigan, Izzo has led Michigan State to seven NCAA Final Four appearances (1999-01, 2005, 2009, 2010, 2015). With 18 consecutive trips to the NCAA tournament, his team won the NCAA National Championship in 2000. Izzo has coached Michigan State to seven Big Ten regular season championships (1998-2001, 2009, 2010, 2012), five Big Ten Tournament championships (1999, 2000, 2012, 2014, 2016), and 13 Sweet Sixteen appearances. He was named Big Ten Coach of the Year three times (1998, 2009, 2012), NABC Coach of the Year twice (2001, 2012), Clair Bee Coach of the Year (2005) and Associated Press National Coach of the Year (1998).
JOHN MCLENDON [Coach] – A native of Hiawatha, Kansas, McLendon was the first coach to win three consecutive national championships, leading Tennessee State to NAIA National Championships in 1957, 1958 and 1959. He compiled a collegiate coaching record of 522-165 (.760) and was named NAIA Coach of the Year in 1958. He was the first African-American coach to accomplish many feats including winning a national tournament (1954), winning a national championship (1957) and winning an AAU national championship (1961). He was the first African-American coach to coach in a professional league, the ABL. Already enshrined in the Hall of Fame as a “Contributor,” he will now also be enshrined as a coach.
SHAQUILLE O’NEAL [Player] - A four-time NBA Champion (2000, 2001, 2002, 2006), O’Neal played 19 years in the NBA averaging 23.7 points, 10.9 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game. A 15-time NBA All-Star (1993-98, 2000-07, 2009), O’Neal led the league in field goal percentage for 10 seasons (1994, 1998-2002, 2004-06, 2009) and ranks seventh on the NBA All-Time scoring list. He was named NBA MVP (2000), NBA Finals MVP three times (2000-02) and NBA Rookie of the Year (1993). At Louisiana State University (1989-92), O’Neal led the country in rebounding (1991) and blocked shots (1992) while earning unanimous First-Team All America honors (1991-92). O’Neal is an Olympic gold medalist (1996) and a member of the NBA 50th Anniversary All-Time Team.
SHERYL SWOOPES [Player] - A six-time WNBA All-Star (1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006), Swoopes played 12 WNBA seasons averaging 15 points, 4.9 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game. A five-time All-WNBA First Team selection (1998, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2005), she was also named Defensive Player of the Year three times (2000, 2002, 2003) and WNBA MVP three times (2000, 2002, 2005). As a member of the Houston Comets, Swoopes won four WNBA Championships (1997-2000). While setting an NCCA championship record for points scored with 47, the Brownfield, Texas native won an NCAA Championship with Texas Tech (1993). Swoopes is a three-time Olympic gold medalist (1996, 2000, 2004) and a member of the WNBA All-Decade Team.
JERRY REINSDORF [Contributor] – Reinsdorf is a remarkably successful lawyer and businessman who followed his love of sports to purchase the Chicago White Sox and in 1985, the Chicago Bulls. Under his leadership, the Bulls won six world championships and became one of the most iconic teams in the history of sports. Reinsdorf has done extensive charitable work to benefit the Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Park District and was awarded the Jefferson Award for Public Service for leading the philanthropic outreach of the White Sox and CharitaBulls Charities.
CUMBERLAND POSEY [Player] – Posey was an exceptional multisport athlete recognized as the greatest African American basketball player of his time, playing from the early 1900s to mid-1920s. After leading Duquesne University in scoring for three seasons, he created, managed and played for the legendary “Loendi Big Five.” His team was the most dominant of the black fives era winning four straight Colored Basketball World Championships. Upon retirement from basketball, Posey switched his focus to baseball where he excelled for 35 years as a player and businessman. Posey was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006.
YAO MING [Player] – Yao Ming changed the face of global basketball as a respected player and ambassador of the game. He led his hometown Shanghai Sharks to a CBA Championship in 2002 and was the #1 pick in the NBA Draft the same year. As a member for the Houston Rockets, he earned All-Rookie honors (2003) and was named to the All-NBA Team five times (2004, 2006-2009). As an eight-time NBA All-Star (2003-2009, 2011), he broke the record for most All-Star votes, previously held by Michael Jordan in 2005. As the anchor of the Chinese National Team, Yao was named a three-time FIBA Asian Championship MVP.
ZELMO BEATY [Player] – Zelmo “Big Z” Beaty was a powerful force for Prairie View A&M averaging 25 points and 20 rebounds per game (1958-62). He led them to the 1962 NAIA Championship while earning the Chuck Taylor MVP Award. As a pro, he was a standout for the St. Louis Hawks and the ABA Utah Stars as an undersized center with a strong inside game and fierce rebounding ability. As a two-time NBA All-Star (1966, 1968) and three-time ABA All-Star, he averaged a double-double in scoring and rebounding for his career. Beaty won an ABA Championship in 1971 with the Stars and was awarded the ABA Playoffs Most Valuable Player Award. Beaty was named to the ABA All-Time Team and inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in 2014.
D-League's Idaho Stampede will move to Salt Lake City
The NBA Development League announced today that the Idaho Stampede, the NBA D-League team owned and operated by the Utah Jazz, will relocate to Salt Lake City beginning with the 2016-17 season.
“The relocation of the Idaho Stampede to Salt Lake City is another exciting example of the increased connectivity between NBA D-League teams and their NBA parent clubs,” said Malcolm Turner, NBA D-League President. “I want to thank the city of Boise and the fans in the Treasure Valley for their support of the Stampede over the years, and I am excited to watch the Stars shine brightly alongside the Jazz in Salt Lake City.”
The team will be known as the Salt Lake City Stars, paying tribute to the city’s American Basketball Association roots from 1970-76, and to the Utah Starzz, the WNBA team based in Salt Lake City from 1997-2002. A new logo highlighting the navy and gold color scheme of the Jazz with a nod to the community’s basketball history was also unveiled.
The Salt Lake City Stars will play their home games at Salt Lake Community College, located less than 10 miles from downtown Salt Lake City. The 5,000-seat Lifetime Activities Center-Bruin Arena previously hosted the Rocky Mountain Revue NBA Summer League.
Jazz assistant general manager Justin Zanik will coordinate all basketball operations decisions for the Stars as he did for the Stampede.
The Jazz purchased the Boise-based Stampede in March 2015, becoming the eighth NBA team at the time with full control over an NBA D-League team’s business and basketball operations. Previously, the Jazz and Stampede had entered into a single affiliation agreement for the 2014-15 season.
Four different players have been assigned to the NBA D-League since the Jazz entered a single affiliation in 2014. Players on the current Jazz roster with NBA D-League experience are Rudy Gobert, Chris Johnson, Shelvin Mack and Tibor Pleiss. Since player assignments began in 2005, the Jazz have had five different NBA D-League shared affiliates and have placed 11 different players on a total of 30 assignments.
By Staff of TheDailySportsHerald.com and news services