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News from Yahoo.com and Cavs.com
The NBA has suspended Houston star James Harden one game without pay for kicking LeBron James in the groin. The All-Stars and Olympic teammates became tangled in the third quarter of Houston's 105-103 victory over Cleveland on Sunday and Harden fell back to the court, then kicked his foot up into James. An angry James said after the game that Harden's kick was ''not a basketball play'' and that the league would probably look at it.
The Houston Rockets went all out after defeating the Cleveland Cavaliers by two points on Sunday, even going so far as to declare James Harden "the new King James" after having vanquished LeBron James in regular-season battle. Unfortunately for Harden, it looks like he will see some punishment for deposing the old monarch. The NBA announced Monday that Harden has been suspended one game for kicking James in the groin with 2:08 remaining in the third quarter. Harden was issued a flagrant-1 foul during the game, but that has since been upgraded to a flagrant-2. Harden will miss the Rockets' Tuesday game at the Atlanta Hawks, another East contender. [ Follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr: The best slams from all of basketball ] Take a look at the play: Many of you may watch that video and consider the suspension excessive considering that Harden did not exactly strike LeBron with the greatest of force. However, kicking another man — let alone a fellow All-NBA First Team member — in the nether regions is typically considered very bad form. The NBA does its best to protect its best and most popular players, and a four-time MVP and global icon certainly qualifies as such. While Harden is one of the two or three top candidates for MVP this season, he's not going to get away with such a move on a player of James's caliber. LeBron earned a lot of negative attention on Sunday for missing a pair of free throws down one point in the final seconds of overtime, but it appears that the league office paid attention when he indicated that Harden's flagrant foul was in need of further review . It would be wrong to suggest that the NBA suspended Harden simply because LeBron is LeBron — again, it's not so nice to kick anyone in the groin — but people tend to listen when James talks. Regardless, Harden will certainly be missed for Tuesday's game with Atlanta. Houston is already playing without star center Dwight Howard, who has been on the shelf since early February with a problematic right knee. Harden is an MVP frontrunner for a reason — the Rockets' offense revolves around him — and playing without him on the road against one of the NBA's most balanced squads is not a recipe for success. - - - - - - - Eric Freeman is a writer for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @FreemanEric
(Reuters) - Houston Rockets guard James Harden has been suspended one game without pay for kicking Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James in the groin, the NBA announced on Monday. Closely guarded by James, Harden lost his footing, fell to the floor and then lifted his left leg and kicked James below the belt. "Obviously that's not a basketball play," James told reporters after the game.
After failing to come through in the clutch, LeBron James is looking to help the Cleveland Cavaliers get back on track.
Chicago Bulls scoring leader Jimmy Butler will be sidelined for up to six weeks with a sprained left elbow, the struggling NBA club said Monday. The team's announcement that Butler's MRI exam showed a sprained ulnar ligament and small bone impaction injury adds Butler to an injury list that includes former NBA Most Valuable Player Derrick Rose and forward Taj Gibson, nursing a sore left ankle. Butler, who has started 55 games for the Bulls, is averaging 20.2 points, 5.9 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.7 steals a game for Chicago in a league-leading 38.9 minutes a game.
Jimmy Butler has joined the perpetually revolving crew of Chicago Bull contributors that are working through nasty injuries. Butler, typically a workhorse, left Sunday’s Chicago loss to the Los Angeles Clippers with a sprained left elbow. On Monday, his team learned the full extent of his injury: Chicago's Jimmy Butler could miss 3-4 weeks with elbow sprain, but won't need surgery, league sources tell Yahoo Sports. — Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) March 2, 2015 A later Bulls press release pegged the ulnar ligament sprain as possibly keeping Butler out for three to six weeks. [ Follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr: The best slams from all of basketball ] Despite playing the entirety of the 2014-15 season with a badly sprained left thumb, Butler emerged in his fourth season to become an NBA All-Star , a Most Improved Player award front-runner , and even a (regional, but still) Sports Illustrated cover boy . His points per game average has shot up to over 20 a contest, he ranks fifth in the NBA in free throws attempted per game, he rarely turns the ball over, and he’s been good for almost six rebounds a contest. Butler is leading the NBA in minutes per game at 38.9, and appeared no worse for the wear – unlike some of the other Bulls contributors that coach Tom Thibodeau hands endless and needless minutes to. Due to his new batch of offensive responsibilities, Butler isn’t quite the dominant defender that we saw last year, when the third-year player managed to make the NBA’s All-Defensive Second Team. He’s still as good as they come defensively at the swingman spot, however, and the Bulls will badly miss him on both ends of the court. Of course, because these are the Bulls, they will try to chip away at that “three to six week”-diagnosis: Source said Butler will be evaluated on a weekly basis and could be back before 3 weeks. But definitely out extended period. — K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) March 2, 2015 This is what this organization does, and in repeatedly drafting dogged types like Butler, Taj Gibson, and Joakim Noah, they’ve aligned themselves with a series of players that don’t mind playing through injury. Gibson himself has been playing through a sprained ligament in his left hand for weeks, but it took a serious ankle sprain to put him on the shelf recently. Noah, meanwhile, underwent what was clearly a serious knee operation in May, 2014 – one that he was clearly still feeling the aftereffects of even in the 2015 calendar year. The Bulls initially reported that Noah underwent a “minor” operation, even though the surgery was set to keep him off the court for eight to 12 weeks. Chicago’s status in the Central Division was all but assured when the Cleveland Cavaliers got their act together and began the 18-4 run that currently has them just a half-game in back of Chicago. The Bulls have lost two of three since Derrick Rose went down with what could be yet another season-ending knee injury, but as is always the case with the Bulls, it is possible that they can circle the wagons. A three-week return for Butler could have the All-Star missing 12 games. If Chicago can split those contests, and if the fifth-seeded Washington Wizards continue at their current pace, it is possible that the Bulls will only fall to the fourth seed upon Butler’s hoped-for late-March return. With LeBron and company rampaging as they are, Chicago was always likely to relinquish that spot atop the Central, and the third seed that goes along with it, so the damage might not be all that great. It is possible that Kirk Hinrich could slide into the starting spot in Butler’s absence, as coach Tom Thibodeau’s security blanket can play both guard spots, but the veteran has missed 16 of 22 attempts from the field in Rose’s absence thus far. Luckily for Bulls fans, second-year swingman Tony Snell had a fantastic February – the youngster came out of Thibodeau’s doghouse to hit 58 percent of his shots on the month, and he hit three three-pointers in the loss to the Clippers on Sunday. He should and likely will start. Bulls rookie Doug McDermott, whom the team traded two draft picks (one that became standout Nuggets center Jusuf Nurkic) to select last June, hasn’t been a part of Thibodeau’s rotation since the first week of November. The Bulls coach has failed to develop or take chances on the shooter out of Creighton, to the source of much consternation from fans and likely the team’s front office. With Butler’s 39 minutes a contest taken away, Thibodeau will be forced to rely on more than Snell, Hinrich, and veteran Mike Dunleavy to make up for his absence. McDermott will have to play, and he’ll have to contribute as he did earlier in his frustrating season – Doug hit for 16 of his first 30 shots as a pro before Thibodeau took him out of the rotation. The Bulls haven’t been able to keep their injuries on the same page this season. Joakim Noah has finally rounded into an approximation of his former self, but it took him half of 2014-15 to get there. Derrick Rose was looking like a B-version of his former self in the days prior to his most recent knee injury. Butler started the season with an injured hand and he’ll miss at least a good chunk of the home stretch with the bum elbow. The Bulls were 9-10 with Dunleavy on the bench with an ankle injury, Gibson has been banged up all season, and McDermott missed weeks following a secretive (and possibly career-altering) snipping of his meniscus. The Bulls can keep their heads above water, especially as Washington continues to fritter away its season. That much is in place. Butler’s return is worrying, however. It wasn’t the element of surprise that allowed him to develop into a 20-point scorer, but the weight of expectations upon his comeback might be a bit much. He might forget what it took to stay in the moment and build his box score bucket by bucket. His work ethic and ability will be in place once he returns to live action, that’s not the fear in this instance. It’s the expectation, one that asks him to keep with that uptick in usage and flip the switch toward 20 points instead of 11 per game. Recovering from this injury won’t be a problem for Jimmy Butler. Returning as an All-Star could be, however. - - - - - - - Kelly Dwyer is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at KDonhoops@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @KDonhoops
The Houston Rockets beat the Cleveland Cavaliers in overtime on Sunday in a physical, hotly contested potential NBA Finals matchup highlighted by excellent play from James Harden and LeBron James, two members of the lead pack in the race for the 2014-15 NBA Most Valuable Player Award. With the contest in the balance late in overtime, LeBron missed a pair of free throws that could have tied the game or given Cleveland the lead, helping the Rockets hold on for their 41st win of the season and making the Cavs losers of two straight for the first time since before head coach David Blatt took the whole gang bowling . [ Follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr: The best slams from all of basketball ] The four-time MVP scored a game-high 37 points, but shot just 3-for-11 at the charity stripe on Sunday. It was a bummerific outlier for James, a 74.6 percent career free-throw shooter who now sits at 71.6 percent this season, and he seemed to take it to heart: LeBron: "I didn't come through for my teammates. I tripped the game up at the FT line ... I didn't come through. It won't happen again." — Jason Lloyd (@JasonLloydABJ) March 2, 2015 Way to trick it off today Bron! — LeBron James (@KingJames) March 2, 2015 Evidently, that disappointment persisted well after James had exited the visiting locker room at Toyota Center and returned to a neutral corner for some soul searching ... which, since this is 2015, is best communicated through a poignant mirror selfie: The caption on James' photo confirmed the somber mood he was in: Looking in the mirror tonight after a tough lost [sic] of my part like You're your biggest challenge, competition, drive, obstacle, motivation, etc so it's nothing u haven't seen before! Back in the lab tomorrow to continue the drive to striving to be the Greatest I've ever seen! #StriveForGreatness On balance, it's not a bad thing for James to begin his post-mortem by starting with the man in the mirror, literally and figuratively. After all, while he did lead the Cavs' offense in the absence of injured point guard Kyrie Irving, he took 35 field-goal attempts, more than he has in nine years and tied for the second-highest shot total of his career. And as David Zavac of Cavs blog Fear the Sword points out, in a non-Kyrie context, more LeBron isn't necessarily always a great thing: LeBron without Kyrie on the floor: Uses 41.5% of team's possessions, 53.3 true shooting LeBron with Kyrie on the floor: 30.6 USG, 59.9 TS — David Zavac (@DavidZavac) March 2, 2015 And beyond that, there is, of course, the matter of those eight missed freebies. While it's not exactly a common occurrence for James to miss that often at the line — it was the sixth time ( here are all the others ) in 892 career regular-season games that he's clanked eight or more free throws — those misses are on him, and nobody else. He could point fingers elsewhere for the Cavs' loss — J.R. Smith's 3-for-13 performance, Iman Shumpert and Matthew Dellavedova combining to miss seven of their eight attempts, the Cavs' perimeter defenders relative inability to slow down Harden (33 points on 8-for-18 shooting, 15-for-18 at the line), etc. — but his position at the top of the Cavaliers' food chain means he has to hold himself accountable first and foremost. Heavy is the head that wears the crown, and all that. Then again, maybe LeBron doesn't have to carry all that weight. According to the Rockets, he's been deposed. Watch the throne, y'all: Long live the new King. Highlights, photos, recap & reactions from today's big OT win on http://t.co/VBY18eSOmU . pic.twitter.com/91utdhnqTx — Houston Rockets (@HoustonRockets) March 2, 2015 Unlike the Rockets' social media personnel, I'm not so sure that winning one regular-season game at the start of March means that Houston's bearded wonder is the new sheriff in town and that the four-time NBA MVP and two-time NBA Finals MVP is yesterday's news. But big wins lead to big excitement and, at times, big statements; the shots-fired, big-ourselves-up line-stepping sure does seem to be a tonal fit for a Rockets club that — from Patrick Beverley taking exception to a LeBron push after a collision to Harden going "Nature Boy" on James and beyond — sure doesn't seem to mind doing a little scrapping and clawing in pursuit of victory. It's just a shame that the season series between these two clubs has now wrapped up — Houston won the first meeting back in January , while LeBron was sidelined — because it'd be awful interesting to see how LeBron responded to this particular slight. Oh, well. Maybe we'll get to find out come June. If we do wind up seeing Cavs vs. Rockets in the Finals, I'm guessing LeBron's mirror work will take on a much more aggressive tone — something along the lines of: More NBA coverage: - - - - - - - Dan Devine is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YourManDevine Stay connected with Ball Don't Lie on Twitter @YahooBDL , "Like" BDL on Facebook and follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr for year-round NBA talk, jokes and more.
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