The NBA lost one of its favorite sideline reporters last week, and a Western Conference power learned today that it will have a hole in its lineup for the next several weeks. For the top news in the NBA, read below:
LA Clippers Blake Griffin' to have knee surgery
The Los Angeles Clippers will be without the services of one of their stars for several weeks, as the team announced today that forward Blake Griffin will undergo a "routine" arthroscopic procedure on Tuesday, December 20, to remove loose bodies from his right knee. Griffin is expected to miss approximately three-to-six weeks.
The five-time NBA All-Star has appeared in 26 games this season, averaging 21.0 points, 8.9 rebounds, and 4.6 assists.
Clippers' coach Doc Rivers can be expected to utilize more small-ball lineups while Griffin is on the mend.
The Clippers currently are fourth in the West with a 20-8 record.
DeMar DeRozan and James Harden named NBA Players of the Week
The Toronto Raptors’ DeMar DeRozan and the Houston Rockets’ James Harden have been on a tear all season, and today they were named NBA Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Week, respectively.
DeRozan led the Raptors to a 3-1 week, averaging a league-high 31.5 points on 60.5 percent shooting to go with 4.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists. This marks the second time this season he has scored at least 30 points in four consecutive games.
DeRozan also shot over 50.0 percent from the field in all four games. On December 16, he tallied 34 points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals in a 125-121 loss to the Atlanta Hawks. On December 18, he finished with 31 points, three rebounds and three assists in a 109-79 victory over the Orlando Magic.
Harden led the Rockets to a 4-0 week behind averages of 27.0 points (third in the West), a league-best 12.8 assists, 9.8 rebounds and 1.0 steals. He recorded back-to-back triple-doubles in victories over the Sacramento Kings and New Orleans Pelicans, giving him six for the season and 15 for his career.
Harden surpassed Hakeem Olajuwon for most triple-doubles in Rockets franchise history. He tallied at least 20 points and 10 assists in three of four games, giving him 18 such games this season, tops in the league.
Other nominees for the Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Week included Golden State’s Kevin Durant, the LA Clippers’ Blake Griffin and Chris Paul, Portland’s Damian Lillard, Utah’s Rudy Gobert, and Washington’s Bradley Beal and John Wall.
NBA has a full slate of Christmas games
Here is a quick look at the NBA’s 2016 Christmas Day schedule – the ninth straight year with five games:
Celtics at Knicks, noon ET, ESPN: New York will appear on Christmas Day for the 51st time, the most in NBA history, while Boston will play for the 30th time. Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony has the highest scoring average on Christmas Day among active players (34.3 ppg in four games).
Warriors at Cavaliers, 2:30 p.m. ET, ABC: Golden State and Cleveland will become the first opponents to meet in The Finals and on Christmas Day in back-to-back seasons. This marks their first matchup since The Finals 2016.
Bulls at Spurs, 5 p.m. ET, ABC: Chicago’s Dwyane Wade is the active leader in scoring (277 points) and games played (11) on Christmas Day. San Antonio’s Pau Gasol ranks in the top five among active players in scoring, rebounding and blocks on Christmas Day.
Timberwolves at Thunder, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN: Minnesota will be playing on Christmas Day for the first time in franchise history. Oklahoma City guard Russell Westbrook (2013 vs. Knicks) joins LeBron James (2010 vs. Lakers) as the only two active players with a triple-double on Christmas Day.
Clippers at Lakers, 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN: The first of four regular-season games between the Staples Center co-tenants this season is also a rematch from Dec. 25 of last season, when all-time Christmas Day scoring leader Kobe Bryant (395 points) played in his final game on the holiday. The Lakers are 21-21 on Christmas Day.
Players and media will cast All-Star votes
For the first time ever, NBA players and basketball media will join fans in selecting the starters for NBA All-Star 2017 in New Orleans. Fans will account for 50 percent of the vote, while all current players and a panel of basketball media will account for 25 percent each. NBA All-Star Voting 2017 will tip off at 11 a.m. ET on Christmas Day.
Washington Wizards: Washington has won three straight games and five of six overall. The latest victory came Sunday against the Clippers, when Bradley Beal (41 points) became the sixth player to register multiple 40-point games this season.
Denver Nuggets: They are 3-1 in their last four games and have scored at least 121 points in each of the victories. In its last two games, Denver never trailed during victories over Portland and New York.
Hassan Whiteside, Heat: The 7-footer has led Miami in rebounding in each of its 28 games this season, the longest season-opening streak for a player with any team since Ben Wallace led the Pistons in rebounding in 33 consecutive games to start the 2002-03 season.
Houston Rockets: Their 10-game winning streak is the franchise’s longest since the 2007-08 team won a franchise-record 22 in a row.
Joe Ingles, Jazz: The third-year forward from Australia leads the NBA in three-point field goal percentage at 50.0 (34-of-68). Ingles has helped Utah win 11 of its last 13 games in advance of Tuesday’s visit to Golden State (10:30 p.m. ET, NBA TV).
Kevin Love, Cavaliers: He has scored at least 20 points in six consecutive games, his longest streak with Cleveland.
Russell Westbrook, Thunder: His 50th career triple-double was a rare stat line: 26 points, a career-high 22 assists and 11 rebounds in Saturday’s victory against the Suns. Westbrook became the first player with 20 points, 20 assists and 10 rebounds in a game since Rod Strickland in 1998.
Karl-Anthony Towns, Timberwolves: The 21-year-old center finished with 41 points, 15 rebounds and five assists against Houston on Saturday, becoming the second-youngest player in NBA history with a 40/15/5 game. Atlanta’s John Drew did it twice at age 20 during the 1974-75 season.
Mike Conley, Grizzlies: The 29-year-old guard passed Pau Gasol (8,966 points) last week as the franchise scoring leader. In his 10th season with Memphis, Conley is also the Grizzlies’ all-time leader in assists, steals and games played.
LeBron James, Cavaliers: James enters Tuesday’s game against Milwaukee needing two points to pass Moses Malone (27,409) for eighth place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list.
NBA mourns reporter Craig Sager
Here is a sampling of the reaction from NBA coaches and players to the passing of Turner Sports’ Craig Sager:
Gregg Popovich, Spurs coach: “If any of us can display half the courage he has to stay on this planet, to live every [day] as if it’s his last, we’d be well off.”
Steve Kerr, Warriors coach: “He had a spirit and an energy that very few people I’ve been around have ever possessed.”
Stan Van Gundy, Pistons coach: “He was more positive [while battling cancer] than I am with the basic ups and downs. You have to be impressed with the way he lived his life and hopefully you learn something from it.”
Nick Collison, Thunder forward: “If you look at how popular the league is now and where it came from, he was a part of all that. He was in everybody's living rooms at home. The league exists because of the fans, and he was that guy that was giving the fans so much insight and became a character that all the fans loved.”
Corey Brewer, Rockets forward: “Anytime you saw him, he’d light up the room.”
Trey Burke, Wizards guard: “I think we can all look at him as an example, how he came to his job every day and never changed. He always sounded the same and was very energetic about what he did.”
Doc Rivers, Clippers coach: “The NBA lost a giant today, and I've lost a dear friend. Craig and I have owned a business together, we have worked together at TNT, and he has covered me and the teams I've worked with over the years. What always stood out to me were the traits he possessed that we want all our great players to have. He was the hardest worker and the most unselfish person I knew. On behalf of the entire Clipper family, we extend our sincerest condolences to his family. Heaven just got brighter."
Chasson Randle named D-League Performer of the Week
Chasson Randle of the Westchester Knicks today was named NBA Development League Performer of the Week.
Randle (6-3, Stanford) led Westchester to a 2-1 week, averaging 28.7 points (fourth in the league) on 51.8 percent shooting, including 17-of-29 from behind the arc, to go with 4.7 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 1.3 steals. On Dec. 16, he scored a season-high 38 points on 12-of-19 shooting to go with four rebounds, three assists and two steals in a 132-124 victory over the Texas Legends. Randle’s nine three-pointers in in the game set a franchise record. On Dec. 18, he hit seven threes on his way to 36 points in a 120-106 win over the Austin Spurs.
Randle is averaging 22.3 points on 43.4 percent shooting, 3.9 rebounds and 3.3 assists. He was acquired by Westchester as an affiliate player of the New York Knicks before the season after playing last year in the Czech Republic.
Other top performers considered included Fort Wayne’s Alex Poythress, Los Angeles’ Vander Blue, Northern Arizona’s Elijah Millsap, Oklahoma City’s Daniel Hamilton, Raptors 905’s CJ Leslie and Rio Grande Valley’s Darius Morris.
By Staff of TheDailySportsHerald.com and news services