Cavaliers send Suns to franchise-record 16th straight loss
By STEVE HERRICK
Thursday, February 21
CLEVELAND (AP) — Kevin Love’s presence makes an obvious difference for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Playing his third game since returning from foot surgery, Love had 16 points and 11 rebounds and Cleveland sent the Phoenix Suns to a franchise-record 16th straight loss, 111-98 on Thursday night.
“He’s a walking double-double,” Cleveland forward Larry Nance Jr. said “That’s something he’s been his whole career and it’s certainly not going to change now.”
Cedi Osman scored 19 points for Cleveland while NBA-worst Phoenix (11-49) topped the record of 15 set March 2- April 1, 2018. The Suns’ last victory was Jan. 12 over Denver.
Devin Booker scored 30 points for Phoenix, and Kelly Oubre Jr. had 23. The Suns have allowed at least 110 points in each game of the losing streak.
“You have to change something where we’re at the point we’re at,” Booker said. “We have to hold people accountable. You can’t take things personally when a guy calls you out. We need to start not being scared to step on people’s toes when something is wrong.”
Love played 22 minutes and was 6 of 13 from the field. He played nearly 16 minutes Feb. 21 against New York and sat out the final game before the All-Star break against Brooklyn two days later.
Love, who committed three turnovers in the first quarter, admitted he’s still shaking off some rust.
“I looked like I hadn’t played many games lately and looked like I had just come off break,” he said. “That will go away. Couple shots were pretty short, getting my legs underneath me, but overall I felt pretty good and just kind of progress in these minutes.”
The Cavaliers plan to steadily increase Love’s playing time over the next several games as he rebuilds his stamina after missing over 50 games because of the surgery in November.
Ante Zizic had 15 points and 12 rebounds for the Cavaliers.
Cleveland trailed 72-71 late in the third quarter before taking control with a 12-0 run. The Cavaliers scored 34 points in the fourth quarter, leading by as much as 17.
Cleveland had 34 assists — one short of a season high — led by Matthew Dellavedova with 11.
Suns: F T.J. Warren (sore right ankle) missed his 11th straight game. He worked out at Quicken Loans Arena but has not progressed beyond shooting drills. … Interim co-general manager James Jones accompanied the team to Cleveland. He spent the final three seasons of his career with the Cavaliers and was a member of their 2016 NBA championship squad.
Cavaliers: Love picked up four fouls in the first half. …. F Tristan Thompson (sore left foot) practiced Wednesday, but missed his 14th straight game.
Cleveland (13-46) has the second-worst record in the East. Both teams are in line for a prime spot in the May 14 draft lottery. The league’s three worst teams will have a 14 percent chance for the first pick in the draft and a chance to take Duke star Zion Williamson.
IT’S HAPPENED BEFORE
Cavaliers coach Larry Drew hadn’t seen the video of Williamson’s knee injury when the projected top pick blew out his shoe Wednesday night. Drew said the same thing happened to him in the early 1990s during training camp while he played for the Los Angeles Lakers, but he wasn’t injured.
“It was kind a weird thing that happened,” he said. “I was in Hawaii. We were playing in a small gym that had no air conditioning. Shoes got saturated very quickly. I tried to come to a step and my foot right came out the side of my shoe.”
NUMBERS DON’T LIE
Suns coach Igor Kokoskov admitted there’s no way to sugarcoat his team’s predicament.
“We all feel bad about it, but that’s who we are right now with our record,” he said. “That’s not opinion, that’s just fact. You can’t be lackadaisical and take any possession off. When you have a young team, players need to understand that every possession, every shot, every screen is important.”
Suns: At Atlanta on Saturday night.
Cavaliers: Host Memphis on Saturday night.
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NBA-leading Bucks hold off Celtics 98-97
By The Associated Press
MILWAUKEE (AP) — Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 12 of his 30 points in the fourth quarter, Khris Middleton hit a 3-pointer in the closing seconds and the NBA-leading Milwaukee Bucks held off the Boston Celtics 98-97 on Thursday night.
On the second-to-last position, Marcus Smart forced a jump ball with Antetokounmpo. Antetokounmpo tipped the jump to Brook Lopez, who deflected it toward the basket, but missed as the shot clock expired.
The referees huddled during the timeout and put 3.5 seconds on the clock for the Celtics.
Smart inbounded the ball over the towering Lopez and dropped a pass into Kyrie Irving’s hands at the top of the key. With Eric Bledsoe draped all over him, Irving drove the lane, seemed to stumble and missed an awkward shot as time expired. The Bucks won the season series 2-1, their first over the Celtics since 2014-15.
Antetokounmpo added 13 rebounds, Middleton had 15 points and a season-high 13 rebounds, and Malcolm Brogdon had 15 points for the Bucks. They have won 15 of the last 17 games, including nine of the last 10, to improve to 44-14. Horford added 21 points and a season-high 17 rebounds for Boston.
76ERS 106, HEAT 102
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Tobias Harris had 12 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter, JJ Redick hit a late 3-pointer and Philadelphia overcame All-Star center Joel Embiid’s absence to beat Miami.
Ben Simmons added 21 points, Boban Marjanovic had 19 — including three free throws in the final 1 1/2 minutes — and Jimmy Butler 18. Embiid will be out at least a week with a sore left knee.
Dwyane Wade scored 19 points for Miami, and Dion Waiters added 18.
Miami led 99-98 after Wade’s runner with 1:56 left. Marjanovic made two free throws to put Philadelphia ahead 100-99. Following Wade’s missed jumper, Redick made the 3 from the top of the key to make it 103-99 with 1:04 left.
Kelly Olynyk then missed a 3-point attempt, and Marjanovic made the first of two free throws with 38.3 ticks left to put Philadelphia up five.
CAVALIERS 111, SUNS 98
CLEVELAND (AP) — Cedi Osman scored 19 points, Kevin Love had 16 points and 11 rebounds and Cleveland sent Phoenix to its franchise-record 16th straight loss.
NBA-worst Phoenix (11-49) topped the record of 15 set March 2- April 1, 2018. The Suns’ last victory was Jan. 12 over Denver.
Love played 22 minutes in his third game since returning from foot surgery. He was 6 of 13 from the field.
Devin Booker scored 30 points for Phoenix, and Kelly Oubre Jr. had 23.
TRAIL BLAZERS 113, NETS 99
NEW YORK (AP) — Jusuf Nurkic had 27 points and 12 rebounds, new backup Enes Kanter added 18 points and nine boards in his Portland debut, and the Trail Blazers beat Brooklyn.
The center tandem was so good that the Trail Blazers didn’t even need a big night from All-Star guard Damian Lillard, who was just 5 for 21 from the field. He finished with 13 points, eight rebounds and eight assists. Kanter, who signed last week with the Blazers after losing his job with the Knicks, made his first seven shots and finished 8 for 9, missing only a 3-pointer.
Allen Crabbe had 17 points for the Nets.
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AP source: NBA, union forward talks on ending ‘one-and-done’
By TIM REYNOLDS
AP Basketball Writer
MIAMI (AP) — The NBA and its players are continuing to move forward on plans to eliminate the “one-and-done” rule in college basketball, something that the sides have been working toward for months.
The league has sent a proposal to the National Basketball Players Association on lowering the minimum age for entering the NBA draft from 19 to 18, and the union discussed the contents at a meeting in the Bahamas earlier this week, a person with knowledge of the matter told The Associated Press on Thursday. The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because neither side released the proposal publicly.
USA Today Sports first reported the proposal being sent.
The proposal changed hands before All-Star weekend and long before Duke star Zion Williamson, quite possibly the No. 1 pick in this year’s draft, got hurt Wednesday night. Williamson was diagnosed Thursday with a Grade 1, or minor, sprain of his right knee. Williamson, a freshman, is widely expected to be in the NBA next season and forgo his final three seasons of collegiate eligibility.
Neither the league nor the players’ union has hidden the fact that both sides want the current system changed. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said last July that it was time to revert back to the policy that will allow players to go into the league right out of high school, something that will have to be collectively bargained with the players.
The NBPA has had previous talks with the NBA on the idea, which is likely to be in place by the 2022 draft.
“I think it’s a good idea,” Boston’s Jayson Tatum, who went to the NBA after one season at Duke, said at All-Star weekend. “If you’re good enough to come out of high school, I feel like you should be able to. But I don’t make those decisions.”
Golden State’s DeMarcus Cousins, who played at Kentucky, told reporters Thursday that knowing what he knows now makes him question why players need to play college basketball — especially if they’re NBA-ready.
“I don’t understand the point of it,” Cousins said about the ‘one-and-done’ rule. “What’s the difference between 18 and 19 and 17 and 18? You’re immature, you’re young, you’re ignorant to life in general. So what’s really the difference? You’ve still got a lot of growing to do as a man.”
The one-and-done rule has been in place since the 2006 draft. Silver, who was once a proponent of raising the draft minimum age to 20 before changing his mind, said last year that he believes the league and the players “can create a better system.” The G League also introduced a plan last year to begin offering “select contracts” worth $125,000 to elite prospects who are not yet eligible for the NBA.
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Jenifer’s late shots rally Cincinnati over UCF 60-55
By JOE KAY
AP Sports Writer
CINCINNATI (AP) — Justin Jenifer knew the shot clock was down to a few seconds. He saw a small opening to the basket and knew that UCF’s shot-blocking center would close it in a hurry.
He took the risk and made the shot that changed the game. Jenifer’s layup barely eluded 7-foot-6 Tacko Fall’s outstretched hand and put Cincinnati ahead to stay Thursday night.
He added a 3-pointer with 19.9 seconds left, rallying the Bearcats to a 60-55 victory in a matchup of two of the American Athletic’s top defensive teams.
The senior point guard snatched the late momentum by lofting the ball high off the backboard for a 50-48 lead with 3:12 to go. If Fall managed to deflect the ball, it would have been a shot clock violation and a turnover.
“I’m lucky I got it off the glass,” Jenifer said. “I took a leap of faith when I shot it.”
The Bearcats (22-4, 11-2) overcame an eight-point deficit behind its senior point guard, who finished with 12 points. He closed it out with a pair of free throws with 12.9 seconds to go. It was the sixth time this season that Cincinnati has overcome a deficit of at least eight points to win a game.
“They’ve been in those moments a few more times than we have, and they made the plays down the stretch,” UCF coach Johnny Dawkins said. “They showed why they’ve been one of the best teams in our conference.”
Jarron Cumberland, who leads the AAC in scoring and had 27 points in each of the last two games, was limited to 11 points . He missed all of his six shots from the field in the second half, when he was limited to a pair of free throws.
Aubrey Dawkins scored 18 for UCF (19-6, 9-4), which had won its last three games and had another one within grasp, only to let it slip away . The Knights had been 9-0 this season when allowing 63 points or less.
“Now you see why they were picked to win our league,” Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin said. “That being said, our kids refused to give up. There were a lot of times we could have packed it in.”
Cincinnati led 26-18 at halftime, taking advantage of UCF’s worst opening half of the season. The Knights had 15 turnovers — one shy of their season high for an entire game — that set up half of the Bearcats’ points.
UCF opened the second half with an 18-2 run for a 46-38 lead as Cincinnati missed seven of eight shots and had four turnovers. The Bearcats tied it 46-46 on Keith Williams’ put-back and free throw, and Jenifer’s layup put them ahead to stay.
UCF: The Knights were picked to win the league in the coaches’ preseason poll. They could have moved into a second-place tie with the Bearcats, trailing Houston. Instead, they’re trying to catch two teams down the stretch for the league title.
Cincinnati: The Bearcats remain on the verge of returning to the Top 25. They were the first team out this week.
Cincinnati leads the series 11-1. UCF’s only win was 53-49 on Feb. 26, 2017 in Orlando.
Fall won the opening tip, leaving him 25 for 25 this season. UCF has won 29 straight tip-offs since last season.
Williams landed awkwardly and was helped off the court with 16:11 left in the first half. He returned 4 minutes later and finished with 12 points.
Dawkins got a technical foul late in the first half for something he said to an official.
TOUGH AAC HOME
The Bearcats are 33-2 in home AAC games over the last four seasons, with the only losses to Temple 77-70 on Dec. 29, 2015 and 75-72 to Wichita State last season.
UCF hosts SMU on Sunday. The Knights won at SMU 71-65 on Feb. 10.
Cincinnati plays at UConn on Sunday. The Bearcats beat the Huskies 74-72 in overtime on Jan. 12.
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Strickland lifts Portland St. over Idaho St. 99-93
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Deante Strickland had a career-high 20 points as Portland State got past Idaho State 99-93 on Thursday night.
Strickland shot 5 for 6 on 3-pointers. He added six assists.
Michael Mayhew had 17 points for Portland State (12-14, 7-8 Big Sky Conference), which earned its fifth straight home victory. Holland Woods added 16 points and eight assists. Rashaad Goolsby had 15 points and nine rebounds for the hosts.
Portland State posted a season-high 15 3-pointers.
Jared Stutzman scored a season-high 24 points for the Bengals (9-16, 5-11), whose losing streak stretched to four games. Brandon Boyd added 24 points. Chier Maker had 12 points and eight rebounds.
The Vikings evened the season series against the Bengals with the win. Idaho State defeated Portland State 69-67 on Feb. 2. Portland State faces Sacramento State at home on Saturday. Idaho State plays Northern Colorado on the road next Saturday.
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Boatwright, Rakocevic lead USC past Oregon, 66-49
By STEVE DILBECK
Friday, February 22
LOS ANGELES (AP) — It was a rare sighting Thursday, snow falling along the Los Angeles foothills. In downtown there was a much more common occurrence – Bennie Boatwright knocking down 3s.
The USC senior scored 20 points, all but two coming from beyond the 3-point line, to lead the Trojans to a 66-49 victory over Oregon.
“Bennie really killed us,” Oregon coach Dana Altman said. “Him shooting the ball was the difference. Those six 3s really gave them separation.”
Boatwright has been particularly hot of late from beyond the arc. In his last five games, he has made 24 of 39 3-pointers (61.5 percent).
“Bennie is shooting as well as he has in his career,” USC coach Andy Enfield said. “His all-around game is good. He’s feeling it. To beat Oregon, you need players to step up like that. It was fun to watch.”
Center Nick Rakocevic added 17 points on 8-of-11 shooting, and like Boatwright, had six rebounds.
The Trojans (15-12, 8-6 Pac-12) held the Ducks (15-11, 6-7) to 33.3 percent shooting.
The Ducks never could crack USC’s zone defense, going long stretches where they struggled to find the basket. Oregon went 1 for 12 in one stretch in the second half when the Trojans pushed their lead to 16 points (60-44).
The Ducks went just 4 of 21 from the 3-point line.
“The ball movement wasn’t there,” Altman said. “We did have a lot of good looks, but we missed them and then started pressing.”
USC, meanwhile, shot 62.5 percent in the second half.
The victory reversed an 81-60 USC loss at Oregon last month.
“They beat us pretty bad when we played up there, so it was a good game for us to get our revenge here and take care of business,” Rakocevic said. “We had something to prove tonight. This was a statement game. We played really well, defended really well.”
While the Ducks struggled to shoot from outside, they did not have any more success under the basket. USC outscored Oregon 30-18 in the paint and 14-7 on second-chance points.
Oregon is having particular problems shooting on the road. The Ducks shot 31.0 percent at Colorado, and in that one, the Buffaloes primarily played man defense.
“We just have to play better,” Altman said. “Offensively we have to finish plays. Defensively we’re still not connected. I thought we gave up some easy looks.”
Freshman Louis King led Oregon with 16 points and Victor Bailey Jr. had 10 points off the bench.
Oregon: The Ducks thought they had turned things around after winning four of five games but have now lost two straight.
USC: After losing four of five games, the Trojans have won consecutive conference games.
Rakocevic did not start in USC’s two games last week, but returned to the lineup Thursday and was a force. He had two blocks to go with his six rebounds and 17 points.
“He had a good defensive game,” Enfield said. “We outscored Oregon in the paint and Nick was a big part of that. That’s what we expect of him. He’s capable of doing that on a more consistent basis. Nick responded to being back in the lineup. He played with a lot of energy on both sides of the ball.”
Oregon: Travels across town to play UCLA on Saturday.
USC: Remains home to play Oregon State on Saturday.
More AP college basketball: http://collegebasketball.ap.org
Opinion: Breaking the Link Between Mental Health and Poverty
By Julie Hersh
The Catalyst, via InsideSources.com
Mental health demands simple ingredients to flourish. Just like a plant needs sunlight, water and fertilizer, the brain needs sleep, nutrition, exercise, social connectedness and personal balance to protect against depression. A person might have a genetic predisposition for depression, but plant that person in positive soil, and the outcomes dramatically improve.
For those in poverty, not only is access to basic mental health needs elusive, trauma slams against even the most centered person like a wrecking ball. When ringing gunshots, sexual abuse, food deserts and uncertainty about where one might stay the night form the staple diet of someone impoverished, it’s not surprising serious mental illness is more than twice as likely for those living below the poverty line (7.1 percent versus 3.1 percent, according to a 2016 report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration).
Fortunately, early intervention and a personal touch can squelch depression before it has a chance to take root. That is why it is worth understanding what Paul Quinn College in Dallas is doing to defy the link between poverty and depression. The historically black college is drawing upon the strength of a community and taking a proactive approach.
Michael Sorrell, Paul Quinn’s president, initiated a program with the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center to provide a mental health screen for all incoming students. Approximately 40 percent come from poverty-stricken areas in Chicago, Oakland, Detroit and Dallas. Sorrell noticed the staggering number of students coming from schools where classmates were shot and the effect this trauma has on their behavior.
He felt that if he surrounded these students with love and professional support, they would avoid the illness that often results from trauma trapped in silence. Rather than waiting for problems to erupt, Sorrell reached out to UT Southwestern for help. If every student had access to mental health resources as standard care, then care for mental fitness might be seen as something that requires routine, practical attention, as opposed to something to be feared.
Paul Quinn built information about mental illness, access to treatment, crisis assistance and the clinic into the freshman orientation, various panels and town hall meetings. During the latter, Sorrell and a student leader openly discuss their experience with mental illness, prompting students to share their own experiences.
UT Southwestern weekly provides a senior psychiatric resident, a nurse and a supervisor at an onsite clinic. Each freshman receives a mental health screen. Dr. Stacia Alexander, the clinic’s coordinator, feels the screening is critical for eliminating the stigma associated with mental illness. “If students equate mental health to physical health,” she emphasizes, “they are more likely to seek help.”
When Alexander asks a student if trauma has occurred, students uniformly answer “No.” Then she probes deeper: “Have you ever seen someone shot? Raped? Witnessed domestic violence?” “Yes” is a frequent answer. Students don’t see their experience as trauma unless someone helps define trauma.
She finds the biggest obstacle to students pursuing help is disbelief. Counseling is seen as something for rich people, not for someone in their economic state. Others believe that if faith is strong enough, counseling shouldn’t be needed.
Alexander and her colleagues work hard to dispel these myths. Her office door is open whenever she’s not in session with a student. The comfortable blue couches in her office beckon students to sit down and discuss issues one-on-one. Once the students are feeling better, she encourages them to write a letter to themselves, explaining how different their lives are with the changes they’ve made. Medication and counseling are seen as tools for regaining and maintaining mental health in addition to faith, not in place of it. Mental health becomes seen as something deserved by all income levels, not just the rich.
The hope is that if students obtain better mental health, grade-point averages and graduation rates may improve, not to mention lives may be saved. Considering that the National Institutes of Health reports suicide is the second leading cause of death for individuals between the ages of 10 and 34, prevention has a high reward.
This model is worth universities studying closely, especially if they serve students whose lives have been upended by poverty. The resilience learned by overcoming poverty at a young age through education and opportunity reinforces the idea that poverty is not a permanent condition.
As students gain the confidence to adapt to surroundings, to innovate and create change, their success will be repeatable. That’s an investment in human capital that can push back the boundaries of poverty and allow students to tap into their potential.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Julie Hersh is president of the Hersh Foundation and author of “Struck by Living.” This essay appeared originally in “The Catalyst: A Journal of Ideas from the Bush Institute.” This is distributed by InsideSources.com.