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Someone finally beat the Utah Jazz, and it took a herculean effort by one of the NBA's best big men to get it done. Nikola Jokic matched his career high with 47 points and the Denver Nuggets rode a torrid first half to emphatically end Utah's 11-game winning streak with a 128-113 victory Sunday in Denver. Jokic and the Nuggets roared out of the gates, with the Joker scoring 22 points in the first quarter and 33 before intermission. Jokic's 33 first-half points were his most ever in a half and the most in the first half of an NBA game this season. It also was the highest-scoring first half by a Nuggets player since Allen Iverson scored 33 on Dec. 5, 2007, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

The Wizards scored 48 points in the fourth quarter alone [vs. the Nets], and even though James Harden sat with a left thigh contusion, more offense is not the answer for the Nets’ biggest woes. The real players Brooklyn missed on Sunday were their two newest free-agent signings: Norvel Pelle and Iman Shumpert, both of whom are defense-first players expected to inject Brooklyn with some life on the other end of the floor. “The most important thing is individual pride, making every possession count and mean something,” said Nash. “I think too many possessions didn’t mean enough for us tonight. We’ve got to sit down in a stance and guard and make it difficult, and if we can cut out three or four of those paint attempts or baskets, we win the game.” NY Daily News

“Over the past weeks, I haven’t been feeling well, little injuries here and there,” [Raptors forward Pascal] Siakam said. “Continue to just get with Alex (McKechnie), Scott (McCullough), all those guys, everyday, taking care of my body, and lifting and doing those things that are going to help my body continue to feel good. I think that’s what I’ve been focusing on over the past week. I think it makes me feel good that my body feels good. For me, that’s the main thing. If I feel good, I have the ability to go out there and bring the energy and live with the results.” Defensively that energy was obvious up and down the Raptors lineup. Toronto Sun


Miami Heat guard Tyler Herro revealed after a 105-104 win over the Sacramento Kings on Saturday night that he learned a housemate has tested positive for COVID-19. Herro said he got that news at halftime and was uncertain if he will have to quarantine because of possible exposure. His revelation came on the same night All-Star forward Jimmy Butler returned after missing 10 games because of the NBA's health and safety protocols established for safe play during the coronavirus pandemic.

Even Steve Nash has admitted his Nets have been desperate for more toughness and defense. And that’s exactly what Bruce Brown has given them in spades. Offensively limited on a team loaded with offense, Brown will never have Kobe Bryant’s talent. But that doesn’t mean he can’t emulate the late star’s tenaciousness, giving the Nets (13-8) some much-needed grit to go with all their glamour. “He was a dog and didn’t care about anything out there. There was no friends out there,” Brown said of Bryant. “He went out and played hard, so that’s what I try to do every night: Go out there and be a dog and don’t care who I’m guarding or guard the best player every night on the offensive end and try to stop them.” NY Post

Damian Lillard always shoulders a lot of responsibility, even in the best of times, and with so many of his teammates out with injuries, he’s been asked to do even more. And as usual, he’s shown himself up to the task. The 6-3 point guard in his ninth season out of Weber State scored the last six points of regulation and added yet another buzzer-beating, game-winning three-pointer to his substantial highlight reel in a 123-122 victory versus the Chicago Bulls Saturday night at the United Center. “It felt great,” said Lillard. “We’ve had some tough losses lately. We’ve been dealing with injuries and a lot of tough situations for our team, but we’ve been able to battle and stay together. We haven’t made excuses. We haven’t felt bad for ourselves. Each guy that has been put into the rotation that wasn’t in the rotation before has stepped up and been ready to play. And without those guys being prepared and having the mentality that they’ve had, we wouldn’t be in the position for a game-winner to happen or to win any of these games.”

Early in the fourth quarter, Marcus Smart appeared to take a bad step underneath the Lakers’ basket and crumpled to the floor, screaming an expletive. The Celtics immediately called timeout, and trainers rushed out to help Smart off the court. Supported by two trainers, Smart hobbled to the locker room, putting no weight on his left leg. The Celtics ruled Smart’s injury a “calf strain.”


The Utah Jazz have won 11 straight and swept their six-game home stand with a 120-101 win over the Dallas Mavericks on Friday. Bojan Bogdanovic had a game-high 32 points on 10-of-16 shooting overall and 7-of-11 from deep. Friday was the first time that Bogdanovic really seemed like himself and looked relaxed on the court. He was letting the game come to him and wasn’t forcing shots. He looked fluid and natural, and it was a really good thing to see. Deseret News

In a sign of how much NBA basketball has changed over the past few years, Joe Ingles on Friday night passed Hall of Famer John Stockton for the Utah Jazz all-time franchise mark for 3-pointers made with 846. Ingles, in his seventh season with the Jazz, entered Friday night needing two 3-pointers to pass Stockton’s mark (Stockton played for 19 years), and he got it done early after starting the game in place of Donovan Mitchell (concussion protocol). Deseret News

Clint Capela left Switzerland as a teen to play at the elite level in France. The list of great Swiss basketball players could fit on an index card with room left for next week’s grocery list. Former Hawk Thabo Sefolosha was the lone role model Capela had coming up, his exploits in the NBA being regular grist for the Swiss sporting media. When Capela had a chance to meet Sefolosha in France, it was like meeting royalty. “I was really star struck,” he remembered. “Damn, that’s an NBA player right there. In Europe you don’t get a chance to see NBA players, ever.”

And then Serge Ibaka caught him along the sideline, pulling him into an embrace. A moment later, Morris was there too. Ivica Zubac held onto Jackson’s arm. Terance Mann joined the huddle, talking to the distraught guard, who averaged 18 points, 7.5 rebounds, 7 assists and 1.5 steals in his previous two starts entering Friday). All of it was a physical manifestation of Lue’s early-season dictum: “When somebody’s doing bad, we want to be there.” “We talk about it all the time, that we don’t want to be a front-runner team,” Lue said before tip-off on Friday in Orlando, where the Clippers would welcome back All-Stars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George following a two-game hiatus due to the NBA’s coronavirus health-and-safety protocol. OC Register

The Indiana Pacers had a chance to sweep the two-game set with the Charlotte Hornets but failed with a 108-105 loss on Friday. The Pacers (11-8) opened with three consecutive 3s but ended 7-for-26. The Hornets couldn't miss, making 16 3s. Domantas Sabonis (22 points, 11 rebounds, 6 assists), Myles Turner (21 points, 8 rebounds, 2 blocks), Malcolm Brogdon (21 points, 8 assists, 4 rebounds), Jeremy Lamb (12 points) and Doug McDermott (11 points) led Indiana. Indy Star


Brooklyn officially signed free agent Norvel Pelle Thursday afternoon. The free-agent center is expected to join the team on Sunday in Washington, D.C. on a non-guaranteed deal, according to a league source. The Nets have been looking for interior help since trading away center Jarrett Allen in the megadeal for James Harden. While they’ve been linked with a number of veteran Cleveland big men like Andre Drummond and JaVale McGee, those are only targets. Pelle is a Net, albeit a low-risk, high-upside flier who brings a 7–foot-3 1/2 wingspan, athleticism and rim protection. NY Post

"I think it's a really good team that they've put together," LeBron James said of the 76ers. "Give a lot of credit to [general manager] Elton Brand and the things that they're doing here. Obviously, Doc has always won pretty much wherever he's been. We'll see as the season goes on; there's going to be a lot of teams in the Eastern Conference playing championship basketball down the stretch. I know they believe that they're one of those teams."

Phoenix continues to find ways to lose the close ones. This one may have been the worst of them all. Blowing a 17-point lead, Phoenix succumbed to offensive fouls, a horrid stretch of 3-point shooting and Deandre Ayton scoring just five points in a 102-97 loss Wednesday night to Oklahoma City at Phoenix Suns Arena. Chris Paul scored a season-high 32 in his first game against the Thunder (8-9) since the trade that brought him and Abdel Nader to Phoenix, but lost to his former team that ended a five-game road trip with a stunning victory. Arizona Republic

The Nets, again, will be able to score at will, home to three of the best scorers in NBA history. Defense, however, is what will win big, and is what helped the Nets secure a win against a Hawks team that beat them earlier this season. “I think when you do get stops, you have an opportunity to go against a more unsettled defense, whether it’s transition or semi-transition. There’s many, many reasons why defending well is a positive, but that is one small one,” Nets head coach Steve Nash said. “For me, frankly, I think we’ll figure out ways to score. It’s more about getting stops. We don’t turn other teams over a ton, but if we can just get stops and rebound, we’ve been rebounding better, we’ll be in good shape.” NY Daily News

Despite Bradley Beal’s effort, he couldn’t make up for a roster missing six key contributors — Deni Avdija, Davis Bertans, Troy Brown Jr., Rui Hachimura, Ish Smith and Moe Wagner. Brooks is not sure when they will get out of league protocols and rejoin the team, but all six players are now back on court and working out. Jordan Bell, signed last week to a 10-day contract, started to give the Wizards more size against Zion Williamson and Steven Adams. But the 6-foot-8 forward could only do so much — Bell had a team-high 11 rebounds in 30 minutes. Washington Post

On the Utah Jazz: The team’s chemistry is fantastic. It wasn’t very long ago that everyone was worried about how Mitchell and Gobert would co-exist after a pretty public (and real) feud. Now, they look terrific together, as does the rest of the roster. It’s so early, and we’ll see if the Jazz can keep their lofty record. Doc Rivers is a reasonable choice out East with Philly, and J.B. Bickerstaff has surprised with the Cavs so far this year. But if the vote were happening today, Snyder would have a good chance of winning it. Salt Lake Tribune


While Los Angeles and Philadelphia will mourn the one-year anniversary of the death of native son Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna on Tuesday, another one of Bryant's hometowns halfway across the globe will be doing the same. Reggio Emilia, located about an hour's drive east from Bologna in northern Italy, will unveil the "Largo Kobe and Gianna Bryant," a plaza dedicated to the man who spent several years of his youth living in the small city while his father, Joe Bryant, played for the Cantine Riunite, Reggio's professional basketball team.

It has been a year since Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven others died in a helicopter crash in the foothills of the Santa Monica Mountains near Calabasas, California. The families were flying to a youth basketball tournament when the pilot encountered thick fog and slammed into a hillside. The Jan. 26, 2020, crash spawned an investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board, as well as a number of civil lawsuits, which remain unresolved or outstanding.

Harthorne Wingo, a former Knicks forward and cult hero, has passed away at age 73, according to sources. Wingo, a North Carolina native, played four seasons with the 1970s Knicks before going overseas. Wingo was a bit player on the 1972-73 championship team playing in 13 games, averaging four minutes. But later on, the undrafted 6-foot-6 forward became a fan favorite and was immortalized in the Beastie Boys song “Lay It On Me” with the lyric: “My favorite New York Knick was Harthorne Wingo.” NY Post

It was no coincidence that he captured the hearts of New Yorkers and not just for his name. Wingo, who had grown up in North Carolina, was one of the early students to integrate high schools and sports in the state. He then played a year at Friendship Junior College before deciding to move up to New York, where he displayed his athleticism on the courts at Rucker Park. He was named one of the 50 Greatest Players in the Rucker Pro League. Wingo was invited to play for the Harlem Wizards, but the Knicks pushed him to sign with Allentown of the Eastern League, where he led the team to a championship and won Most Valuable Player honors. The next season he got the call to join the Knicks and was a bit player on that championship team as a rookie. NY Newsday


The Washington Wizards struggled offensively and suffered some communication breakdowns defensively in crucial situations, but coach Scott Brooks could forgive those lapses. After being unable to play for two weeks, Brooks and the Wizards were simply happy to be back on the court. Patty Mills scored 21 points, Lonnie Walker IV added 16 and the San Antonio Spurs used their depth to beat Washington 121-101 on Sunday night in the Wizards' first game since Jan. 11.

Wednesday's game between the Bulls and Grizzlies at FedExForum in Memphis has been postponed due to the NBA's health and safety's protocols. It will be the Grizzlies' fifth straight game postponed under the policy and sixth overall, matching the Washington Wizards for most in the NBA. The Wizards returned to action on Sunday, their first game in 13 days after six players tested positive for COVID-19 and three others had to miss several days following contact tracing.

Washington Wizards guard Russell Westbrook started in Sunday's game against the San Antonio Spurs,, marking his first game action in more than two weeks due to a left quadriceps injury. Westbrook hasn't played since Jan. 8 because of the injury, which was caused by repeated contact to his quadriceps area, according to the team. But he has missed only two games due to a COVID-19 outbreak among the Wizards that led to six games being postponed.

Imagine if the Knicks weren’t at a complete disadvantage entering Sunday’s contest against the Blazers, a team fresh because of the COVID-19 unpredictability. The Knicks fell behind by 25 points early in the third quarter before the young legs of rookie Immanuel Quickley brought the Knicks back within three points in the final minute. The Knicks couldn’t complete the comeback but Quickley’s career-high 31 points made this 116-113 defeat in Portland easier to swallow — especially under the circumstances. NY Post


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