Stephen Curry Won’t Participate in 2018 3-Point Shootout, Klay Thompson Will

Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry will not participate in the NBA‘s three-point shootout at All-Star Weekend on Feb. 17, according to The Athletic’s Anthony Slater.

It marks the second straight season in which Curry has opted not to partake in the All-Star Saturday showcase.

However, the two-time MVP told ESPN.com’s Chris Haynes he’s not retired from the event and hinted that he could participate in the 2019 festivities back in his hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina.

Even without Curry, the Warriors will have a representative in the three-point contest.

According to Slater, Klay Thompson—who was named an All-Star reserve on Tuesdayhas accepted an invite to his fourth straight shootout.

Curry and Thompson both own a three-point shootout title. Curry won his in 2015 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, while Thompson came out on top in 2016 at Air Canada Centre in Toronto.

Washington Wizards shooting guard and All-Star reserve Bradley Beal will also be included in this year’s field, according to the Washington Post‘s Candace Buckner. Beal rejected the same invitation a season ago after he was left off the Eastern Conference All-Star roster.

Phoenix Suns shooting guard Devin Booker will head to Los Angeles to participate in the evening’s penultimate event as well, per ESPN.com’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Houston Rockets shooting guard Eric Gordon defeated Boston Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving to capture last year’s three-point hardware.

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Kyle Kuzma Dominant as Lakers Shock Kyrie Irving, Celtics

The Cleveland Cavaliers aren’t the only team in the Eastern Conference trending in the wrong direction.

The Boston Celtics dropped their fourth consecutive game Tuesday, this time falling to the Los Angeles Lakers 108-107 at Staples Center. Marcus Smart had the opportunity to win it with a jumper at the buzzer after Kentavious Caldwell-Pope missed two free throws, but his three-pointer rimmed out.

Kyle Kuzma led the way for the victors, taking over for stretches in the fourth quarter and tallying 28 points, four rebounds and three assists for Los Angeles, which has won three straight without the injured Lonzo Ball.

Boston got 33 points and four assists from Kyrie Irving, but it was to no avail, as it couldn’t protect a double-digit lead on the road.

The Celtics likely would have rather had Irving take the final shot instead of Smart given the former’s impressive performance and the 12 points he scored in the fourth quarter, but Smart had the hot hand for much of Tuesday’s contest.

He drilled four of his 10 three-pointers on his way to 22 points, 15 of which came in the first half. He also dished out eight assists, taking advantage of openings when the Lakers closed on him. Smart also made two free throws with less than 20 seconds remaining to get Boston within one and help set up the dramatic finish.

Still, neither Smart nor Irving could match what Kuzma did down the stretch.

The rookie poured in 17 points in the fourth quarter alone, single-handedly providing much of the Los Angeles offense with the game hanging in the balance. The Lakers faced an 88-82 deficit with eight minutes remaining but had a 95-91 lead with five minutes left thanks to three triples, two free throws and an assist by Kuzma.

He was more than just a spark off the bench, using his size to shoot over smaller Celtics defenders and his athleticism to get past the likes of Al Horford or Marcus Morris in the paint when he attacked the rim.

It was the type of showing that figures to provide hope in Los Angeles despite what is shaping up to be another lost season, especially if Ball and Brandon Ingram—who shot just 2-of-11—continue to develop alongside him.

Kuzma even mixed in some style throughout the contest:

What made the performance even more impressive was the fact it came against a Boston team that is first in the league in defensive rating, per NBA.com.

It appeared as if the Celtics were going to ride that stifling defense to a win in the early going, as they held the Lakers to 15 points in the first quarter. Los Angeles was stationary for far too many possessions on the offensive end, which allowed Boston to set the tone and contest shots.

Kuzma and Jordan Clarkson changed the tempo off the bench, however, with the latter tallying 22 points, five rebounds and four assists. Their presence helped open up the offense, and Julius Randle (14 points, 14 rebounds) and others took advantage during an 18-3 run in the second and third quarters as the Lakers climbed back into the game.

From there, Kuzma and Irving did much of the heavy lifting.

The Lakers will look to keep rolling Friday when they start a five-game road trip at the Chicago Bulls. The Celtics will attempt to turn things around in Los Angeles against the Clippers on Wednesday.

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Luke Walton Will Be Lakers Coach Through Offseason, Jeanie Buss Says

Luke Walton isn’t leaving the Los Angeles Lakers anytime soon.

Appearing on ESPN’s Buckets Tuesday night, Lakers controlling owner Jeanie Buss left no doubt when asked if Walton would still be the team’s coach through the 2018 offseason.

“Absolutely. Luke Walton is the Lakers coach, period,” Buss said, according to ESPN.com’s Ohm Youngmisuk. “There’s no worrying about it, there’s no speculation. He’s done a terrific job. He is somebody that the entire front office, the organization is behind.”

Buss endorsed Walton back on Jan. 13 when she tweeted, “#InLukeWeTrust,” but Tuesday’s comments were far more emphatic.

Combined, those statements should make it clear the front office has no intention of parting ways with the second-year head coach after LaVar Ball—the father of Lakers point guard Lonzo Ball—claimed he had lost the team during a nine-game losing streak.

“You can see they’re not playing for Luke no more,” LaVar told ESPN.com’s Jeff Goodman. “Luke doesn’t have control of the team no more. They don’t want to play for him.”

The Lakers have gone 7-2 since LaVar made those claims and improved to 18-29 overall by virtue of a 108-107 win over the Boston Celtics on Tuesday.

They’ll aim for a fourth straight win Friday night at United Center against the Chicago Bulls.

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Russell Westbrook Says Paul George Not Being an All-Star Is ‘Outrageous’

Paul George was not selected to the NBA All-Star Game in his first year with the Oklahoma City Thunder, a decision his teammate, Russell Westbrook, called “outrageous.”

The league’s reigning MVP described his position after Tuesday’s 109-108 win over the Brooklyn Nets, via Royce Young of ESPN.com:

“It’s outrageous in my opinion,” Westbrook said. “… It doesn’t make any sense. A guy who leads the league in steals, competes every night, top two at his position. It don’t make any sense.”

George had been an All-Star in four of his last five years with the Indiana Pacers, the only exception being when his leg injury limited him to just six regular-season games.

Though his scoring has dropped slightly this year while having to share the load with Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony and others, he still entered Tuesday averaging 20.8 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.2 steals per game. He led the NBA with 93 total steals while ranking sixth in the league with 2.5 defensive win shares, per Basketball Reference.

The 27-year-old also continues to improve as a shooter, currently knocking down a career-high 42.9 percent of his shots from three-point range.

Despite his success on both ends of the court and the fact the Thunder are fifth in the Western Conference with a 27-20 record, he didn’t earn a spot in the All-Star Game.

To add even more insult to the situation, Victor Oladipo—who was part of the package sent to the Pacers in return for George—earned his first All-Star selection while representing the Eastern Conference.

While Oklahoma City is still likely happy with George’s production, the snub has to be disappointing for the veteran player.

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Tyronn Lue Says He’s Going to Make Lineup Changes After Loss to Spurs

Cleveland Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue is planning on adjusting the rotations after the team’s 114-102 loss to the San Antonio Spurs Tuesday night.

I’m going to make a change,” Lue said when asked about the lineups after the game, per Dave McMenamin of ESPN.

The loss was Cleveland’s sixth in the last seven games, with the squad going 3-10 in the last 13 games.

While the struggles have nearly coincided with Isaiah Thomas’ return to the lineup from a hip injury, the squad is 3-5 during this stretch when the point guard plays and 0-5 without him. Still, he is averaging just 15.9 points per game after a career-high 28.9 PPG last year with the Boston Celtics.

Meanwhile, the other four players in the Cavaliers lineup have been there for most of the season.

LeBron James, Kevin Love, JR Smith and Jae Crowder have all started at least 42 of the 46 games this year, helping the team in its earlier success as well as struggling through the recent slide.

Cleveland has several veterans familiar with starting in their careers, including Dwyane Wade, Derrick Rose and Kyle Korver. Tristan Thompson was also a full-time starter last year at center before mostly coming off the bench this year. His addition could help improve the defense while pushing James and Love out of the paint.

Lue has plenty of options to adjust his lineups, but it appears something must be done to end the recent problems.

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LeBron James Hits 30K Points, but LaMarcus Aldridge, Spurs Beat Cavaliers

The Cleveland Cavaliers couldn’t have asked for better conditions to snap out of a slump Tuesday night. 

For starters, the San Antonio Spurs were without Kawhi Leonard (quadriceps), Pau Gasol (wrist sprain), Rudy Gay (right heel bursitis) and Manu Ginobili (bruised thigh). On top of that, they hadn’t eclipsed 90 points in either of their last two outings. 

And yet, the defending Eastern Conference champions weren’t able to take advantage.  

Fresh off a 148-124 drubbing at the hands of the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday afternoon, the Cavaliers coughed up a terrific opportunity to find their footing and fell to the Spurs 114-102 at AT&T Center. 

The Cavaliers (27-19) have now lost 10 of their last 13 games overall and six straight nationally televised contests, according to Cleveland.com’s Joe Vardon

On the other hand, the Spurs (31-18) halted a two-game losing skid and are now tied for third in the Western Conference standings with the Minnesota Timberwolves. 

San Antonio’s victorious effort was buoyed by five double-figure scorers and a collective 50 percent shooting from the field—tallies that spoiled LeBron James‘ historic evening after he became the seventh player in league history to join the 30,000-point club with a long jumper toward the end of the first quarter: 

James finished with 28 points, nine rebounds and seven assists in an impressive individual showing. However, the Cavaliers defense proved listless once again as the Spurs found clean driving lanes and open spot-up jumpers to be plentiful. 

LaMarcus Aldridge—who was named an All-Star reserve before the game—burned Cleveland’s frontcourt for 30 points and eight boards, while newly appointed starting point guard Dejounte Murray delivered 19 points, 10 rebounds and a career-high seven steals. 

He’s fearless. He’s not impressed. He really sets the pace for us,” head coach Gregg Popovich said of Murray, according to the San Antonio Express-NewsTom Orsborn. “He’s a fine defender. He’s learning how to play the game and doing a fine job.”

Tony Parker added 14 points and six assists off the bench, and he shredded the Cavaliers’ lackluster pick-and-roll schematics with easy pull-up jumpers from the elbows. 

The Cavaliers could have kept pace if they were firing on all cylinders offensively, but they shot 6-of-21 (28.6 percent) from three. Isaiah Thomas finished with 14 points (3-of-9 shooting), Kevin Love managed 10 points and 11 rebounds, and JR Smith went scoreless in 29 minutes. 

For a team that was looking to rebound after reportedly holding an “emotional” meeting on Monday, according to ESPN.com’s Adrian Wojnarowski, that production didn’t cut it. 

Cleveland will now have two days off to reflect on its missed chance and prepare for a home tilt Friday versus the Indiana Pacers. Head coach Tyronn Lue told reporters after the loss that he will make a change to the lineup prior the Central Division clash, although he opted against disclosing specifics, per Vardon

The Spurs, meanwhile, will cap off a back-to-back set Wednesday night with a road tilt against the Memphis Grizzlies at FedEx Forum.  

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Gordon Hayward Could Begin Traveling with Team in March After Ankle Injury

Gordon Hayward‘s first season with the Boston Celtics only lasted five minutes, but he could at least be there for emotional support toward the end of the season.

Head coach Brad Stevens said Tuesday that the small forward could start traveling with the team in March, according to Brian Robb of Boston Sports Journal.

Hayward was also in attendance for Tuesday’s game against the Los Angeles Lakers, according to Chris Forsberg of ESPN.

The 27-year-old signed a four-year deal with Boston in the offseason but dislocated his left ankle and fractured his left tibia during the first game of the season.

He has slowly been progressing through his rehab, with his wife, Robyn, posting a video on Instagram of Hayward shooting three-pointers in an empty gym.

Hayward said in December he was “open” to returning to the court before the season ends, per Kyle Hightower of the Associated Press (via NBA.com).

While it would appear to be a long shot for him to see game action, even in the playoffs, being able to travel with the team is an encouraging sign. Even if he doesn’t play, simply providing support from the bench could represent a morale boost for the Celtics.

Boston is in the midst of a three-game losing streak, but it still has the best record in the Eastern Conference at 34-13 entering Tuesday. With the Toronto Raptors remaining close behind and the Cleveland Cavaliers always a threat, the Celtics could use all the help they could get as they try to bring home a championship.

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