Tokyo Olympics: LaVine cleared to join Team USA along with NBA Finals trio

By Sports Desk July 21, 2021

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  • Durant: Nobody hoping Irving will come to save us after Nets lose amid pro-Kyrie protests Durant: Nobody hoping Irving will come to save us after Nets lose amid pro-Kyrie protests

    Kevin Durant said nobody is hoping Kyrie Irving will return to "save us" after the Brooklyn Nets were beaten by the Charlotte Hornets amid protests in support of the absent NBA All-Star.

    Irving is yet to play this season due to his refusal to be vaccinated against coronavirus, which is preventing him from practicing or playing with the Nets – New York has a mandate in place that states players must have had a COVID-19 jab.

    Demonstrators gathered outside Barclays Center prior to Sunday's 111-95 defeat at home to the Hornets, showing their support of Irving.

    After the Nets dropped to 1-2 for the season, Durant was asked about team-mate Irving and him being away from the championship-chasing franchise.

    "It's three games in. Of course, we've got enough," Durant told reporters post-game after posting 38 points.

    "We definitely want Kyrie Irving out here on the floor and he's a huge part of what we do, but it's not happening right now. So we've got to figure it out.

    "But nobody's going to lose confidence while we're playing and hope Kyrie comes and saves us during the game. No, you've got to play."

    James Harden was far from his best against the Hornets, going just six-of-16 shooting from the field for 15 points in 33 minutes, while he also tallied eight turnovers.

    The former MVP endured an injury-hit first season with the Nets following his blockbuster trade from the Houston Rockets.

    "I'm just getting my confidence back," Harden said. "I'm a little hesitant. You guys can see it. Just making sure my confidence continues to build, and that's all that matters.

    "We're at game three and hopefully my confidence -- not hopefully -- but my confidence will rise and will continue to get better as games go on, and I feel more confident and get that burst of speed like I'm normally used to. No worries at all."

    Harden has also found himself drawing fewer fouls this season after the NBA introduced a rule change, aimed specifically at players who make "abnormal movements" to get to the free-throw line.

    He only went to the line once against the Hornets, having averaged 4.0 attempts heading into the contest – his lowest average since the 2010-11 season (4.2).

    "I feel like he's unfairly become the poster boy of not calling these fouls," Nets head coach Steve Nash said. "Some of them are definitely fouls still."

    Nash added: "I think he’s got to stick with it. But they're just so alert and aware, and he's the poster child of these new decisions.  I get it, there's a line, but some of them are still fouls.

    "So, he's just got to stick with it, he’s got to keep going to the basket, and he's got to do what he does because a large portion of them are still fouls, and if he doesn't get fouls, he can still make plays.

    "He can still finish them, and pass and do all the things that he does. So he's just got to continue as he finds his rhythm again after very little basketball for half a year. Keep attacking, keep attacking, and they're gonna respect his skill level and his ability to get guys on his shoulder and get to the basket."

  • Bucks bounce back against Spurs, Grizzlies keep Clippers winless Bucks bounce back against Spurs, Grizzlies keep Clippers winless

    The reigning NBA champions got back on track Saturday, as Khris Middleton and Giannis Antetokounmpo led the Milwaukee Bucks to a 121-111 defeat of the San Antonio Spurs. 

    Two days after a 42-point blowout loss to the Miami Heat, the Bucks looked more like their usual selves in San Antonio, though the Spurs kept the game tight and pulled within four points with 4:24 to play. 

    Middleton had 28 points to lead the Bucks, while Antetokounmpo added 21 points, eight rebounds and eight assists. 

    Middleton, who is beginning his ninth season with the Bucks, passed Ray Allen to move into 10th on Milwaukee's all-time scoring list with 9,704 points for the team.

    Doug McDermott scored 25 to lead Milwaukee, making seven of 11 from three-point range. 

     

    Grizzlies hand Clippers another loss

    Despite 41 points from Paul George, the Los Angeles Clippers lost their second straight game to open the season, falling 120-114 to the Memphis Grizzlies. While George poured in the points, a balanced Memphis attack led by Ja Morant's 28 points and eight assists secured another win for the visitors. 

    In Portland, CJ McCollum scored 28 points and Damian Lillard had 19 as the Trail Blazers rolled past the Phoenix Suns 134-105. Devin Booker had 21 points, the only Phoenix player to score more than 14. 

    Luka Doncic had a game-high 27 points, 12 assists and nine rebounds as the Dallas Mavericks rallied from a six-point half-time deficit to defeat the Raptors 103-95 in Toronto for their first victory under new head coach Jason Kidd. Tim Hardaway Jr. added 25 points and Kristaps Porzingis had 18 points and 10 rebounds for the Mavericks, while OG Anunoby led Toronto with 23. 

  • 'It's over with' – Howard & Davis moving on from row in Lakers loss 'It's over with' – Howard & Davis moving on from row in Lakers loss

    Dwight Howard's row with Anthony Davis is already squashed, with the Los Angeles Lakers duo exuding a calm that was not present during their on-court confrontation in a loss to the Phoenix Suns.

    The Lakers, aiming to regain the title they won in the NBA bubble in 2020, fell to 0-2 as they were beaten 115-105 by last season's Western Conference champions.

    Their defeat was highlighted by a disagreement between Howard and Davis in the first half, which saw the latter shove his team-mate during a timeout.

    However, both men were quick to insist the incident had been put behind them.

    "We just had a disagreement about something that was happening on the floor," said Howard. 

    "We're both very passionate about winning. We didn't want to lose this game. We got it out of the way. We're grown men. Things happen.

    "But we already talked. We squashed it. There's no issues between me and him. And that's my brother. That's my team-mate."

    "It's over with," Davis added. "After the situation happened, me and DH talked about it ... and we left it in the locker room at half-time."

    Meanwhile, LeBron James made it clear there is no panic among the Lakers after following up their opening-night loss to the Golden State Warriors with another disappointing display.

    "There's a process along with building something to become the team you want to become, and I know it firsthand," James said.

    "It doesn't happen overnight, as much as you want it. It just takes time, and we'll know when that time is. Right now, we've got to continue to just push."

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