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Doc Rivers collects PBWA Coach of the Year award

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The Professional Basketball Writers Association (PBWA) announced today that L.A. Clippers Head Coach Doc Rivers has won the 2018-19 Rudy Tomjanovich Award, which honors an NBA coach for his cooperation with the media and fans, as well as his excellence on the court. 
 
In his sixth season with the Clippers, Rivers, who previously won the Rudy Tomjanovich Award in 2011-12 as the Head Coach of the Boston Celtics, led the Clippers to a 48-34 record and earned the eighth seed in the Western Conference Playoffs. L.A. became the fifth team in NBA history to win at least 45 games without an All-Star. Rivers, the winningest head coach in franchise history, was named Western Conference Coach of the Month for October and November during the 2018-19 season and is a finalist for the NBA Coach of the Year. 
 
Members of the PBWA, which include more than 200 NBA writers and editors, selected Rivers from five finalists including: Kenny Atkinson of the Brooklyn Nets, Mike D’Antoni of the Houston Rockets, Michael Malone of the Denver Nuggets and Nate McMillan of the Indiana Pacers. 
 
The Rudy Tomjanovich Award is named after the former Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Lakers head coach who exemplified professionalism and respect to members of the media. During his 13 seasons as an NBA head coach, Tomjanovich compiled a 527-416 regular-season record, a 51-39 postseason record and won back-to-back NBA titles with the Houston Rockets in 1994 and 1995.
 
Rudy Tomjanovich Award Winners
2010-11 Jerry Sloan, Utah Jazz
2011-12 Doc Rivers, Boston Celtics
2012-13 George Karl, Denver Nuggets
2013-14 Frank Vogel, Indiana Pacers
2014-15 Steve Kerr, Golden State Warriors
2015-16 Dwane Casey, Toronto Raptors
2016-17 Stan Van Gundy, Detroit Pistons
2017-18 Steve Kerr, Golden State Warriors
2018-19 Doc Rivers, LA Clippers

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Pacers G Jeremy Lamb done for season with torn ACL, meniscus

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Indiana Pacers guard Jeremy Lamb needs surgery on his injured knee and will miss the remainder of the season.

The Pacers announced Monday that Lamb has a torn ACL, a torn lateral meniscus and a fracture in his left knee.

Lamb suffered the injury in Sunday’s loss to the Toronto Raptors. Initial X-rays on his knee were negative, and Lamb told reporters after the game that he hoped the injury wasn’t “too serious.”

The Pacers have not determined a specific date for Lamb’s surgery.

Lamb, 27, averaged 12.5 points and 4.3 rebounds in 46 games this season, his first with the Pacers.

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Vanessa Bryant calls Kobe ‘MVP of girl dads’ at public memorial

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LOS ANGELES — Kobe Bryant’s wife offered a poignant portrait of her NBA superstar husband and their daughter Monday at a sold-out memorial service for the two, who were among nine people killed last month in a helicopter crash in Los Angeles.

Speaking at times through tears, Vanessa Bryant praised her husband’s devotion — calling him “the MVP of girl dads” — as she addressed thousands of fans gathered at Staples Center to remember Bryant and 13-year-old Gianna.

“God knew they couldn’t be on this Earth without each other,” Vanessa Bryant said. “He had to bring them home to have them together. Babe, you take care of our Gigi.”

The service took place at the downtown arena where Bryant played for the Los Angeles Lakers for 17 seasons of his two-decade NBA career.

The ceremony began with Beyonce performing her songs “XO” and “Halo” with dozens dozens of backup musicians.

After Jimmy Kimmel welcomed the crowd, Vanessa Bryant remembered the family’s life with Gianna, describing her as a sweet, thoughtful soul who loved always kissing her mother good morning and goodnight.

“Her smile was like sunshine,” Vanessa said. “Her smile took up her entire face. Like me. Kobe always said she was like me. She had my fire, my personality and sarcasm. She was tender and loving on the inside. She had the best laugh. She had the best laugh. It was infectious. It was pure and genuine.”

Vanessa said Gianna loved swimming, singing along with hit songs, baking cookies and watching “Survivor” and NBA games with her father. She says the 13-year-old loved basketball so much she even offered the boys’ school team advice.

Vanessa predicted that Gianna could have become “the best player in the WNBA.”

She then eulogized the husband she had been with since 1999, saying they had planned to renew their vows and often talked about how they looked forward to becoming the “cool grandparents” after their kids have their own children.

“He was the most amazing husband,” she said. “Kobe loved me more than I could ever express or put into words. I was fire. He was ice. Vice versa at times. … He was my everything.”

The crowd included Lakers greats such as Jerry West, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson and Pau Gasol. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver joined Michael Jordan, Phil Jackson, and dozens of current NBA players, including Stephen Curry, James Harden, Kyrie Irving and Russell Westbrook.

Money from ticket sales was to be given to the Mamba and Mambacita Sports Foundation, which supports youth sports programs in underserved communities and teaches sports to girls and women.

Bryant played his entire 20-year NBA career with the Lakers, who moved from the Forum to Staples Center when it opened in 1999. The five-time NBA champion’s two retired jersey numbers — 8 and 24 — hang high above the arena where he became the third-leading scorer in league history until Lakers star LeBron James passed him on the night before Bryant’s death.

Bryant’s death caused an outpouring of grief across Los Angeles, where he remained the city’s most popular athlete into retirement. Dozens of public memorials and murals have been installed around the sprawling metropolis, and thousands of fans gathered daily outside Staples Center to commiserate after the crash.

Symbolic meanings will run throughout the ceremony, which will be held on a 24-foot-by-24-foot stage. Vanessa Bryant, Kobe’s wife and Gianna’s mother, chose Feb. 24 as the date in honor of the uniform numbers of Kobe and Gianna, who wore No. 2 on her youth basketball teams.

A private funeral was held for Kobe and Gianna Bryant in Orange County on Feb. 7.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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NBA Power Rankings Week 19

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As February comes to an end, the NBA is firmly in the post-All-Star break period. The final two months of the regular season are underway, and the playoff picture is beginning to take shape.

The Milwaukee Bucks have officially clinched a playoff spot through 56 games. The Houston Rockets‘ small-ball reboot continues to impress, and that is reflected in a top-10 rise. On the other end, the Indiana Pacers are looking to stop their skid as March approaches.

Throughout the regular season, our panel (ESPN’s Tim MacMahon, Andre’ Snellings, Royce Young and Bobby Marks and The Undefeated’s Marc J. Spears) is ranking all 30 teams from top to bottom, taking stock of which teams are playing the best basketball now and which teams are looking most like title contenders.

Previous rankings: Week 18 | 17 | 16 | 15 | 14 | 13 | 12 | 11 | 10 | 9 | 8 | 7 | 6 | 5 | 4 | 3 | 2 | 1 | Training camp | Free agency | Post-Finals

1. Milwaukee Bucks
Record: 48-8
Week 18 ranking: 1

The Bucks are in cruise control right now, racking up wins and statistical superlatives at a similar rate. The Bucks officially clinched a postseason appearance in just 56 games, the earliest in 15 years. Here’s another one for Giannis Antetokounmpo: He currently leads the NBA in both fast-break points per game and points in the paint per game. Over the past 20 seasons, no player has led the NBA in both categories in the same season, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. — Snellings

This week: @WAS, @TOR, OKC, @CHA


2. Los Angeles Lakers
Record: 43-12
Week 18 ranking: 2

LeBron James is on a path to finish the season as the NBA’s leader in assists for the first time at 35 years old. According to Elias Sports Bureau data, no one in NBA history has been that old at the time of their first scoring, rebounding or assists title. Former Lakers great Jerry West was 33 years old when he led the NBA in assists for the first time during the 1971-72 season. — Spears

This week: NOP, @GSW, @MEM, @NOP


3. Toronto Raptors
Record: 42-15
Week 18 ranking: 3

The Raptors have been on a torrid winning pace in the new year, with only one loss since Jan. 15, but they’ve been unable to make up any ground on the Bucks nor open up much space from the Celtics for the second seed in the Eastern Conference. The Raptors do have the 12th-easiest remaining schedule in the NBA, according to BPI, as compared to the Celtics’ 19th easiest, which gives Toronto a bit of an edge as it races down the stretch. — Snellings

This week: MIL, CHA, @DEN


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