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
Pacers G Jeremy Lamb done for season with torn ACL, meniscus
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.
Vanessa Bryant calls Kobe ‘MVP of girl dads’ at public memorial
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.
NBA Power Rankings Week 19
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.
1. Milwaukee Bucks
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
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
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
4. Boston Celtics
Week 18 ranking: 5
If there is a silver lining to the Celtics’ two-point loss to the Lakers on Sunday it is that All-Star Jayson Tatum continues to emerge as a franchise player. While Kemba Walker missed the game with a sore knee, Tatum scored 41 points in the loss. Though the Celtics are 7-3 in games Walker has been out, keep in mind that only one win has come against a team (Philadelphia) above .500. — Marks
This week: @POR, @UTAH, HOU
5. Denver Nuggets
Week 18 ranking: 4
The Nuggets are finally at full strength — generally speaking — for the first time since Jan. 6. With injuries splattered throughout the roster, they weathered a difficult schedule, and they seem to be set up to push with momentum into the postseason. Coach Mike Malone is going to have to sort through some rotational questions, which likely will be as much of an objective as securing the No. 2 seed. — Young
This week: DET, @LAC, TOR
6. LA Clippers
Week 18 ranking: 6
Uh, Clippers? Y’all good? Losing three straight games isn’t the biggest deal in the world, but for the third to be a home loss to the Kings is an eyebrow raiser. Again: Health is going to be their top priority down the stretch, but the addition of Reggie Jackson jumbled the chemistry equation that much more. The Clippers have as much talent as anyone, but the question is whether they can maximize it — or at the very least, just have it all available. — Young
This week: MEM, @PHX, DEN, PHI
7. Houston Rockets
Week 18 ranking: 9
Agree or not, the Rockets’ résumé is rather impressive since the trade for Robert Covington that signaled going all-in on small ball. Houston is 4-1 in games Westbrook has played since Covington’s Feb. 6 debut, with double-digit victories over the Lakers, Celtics, Warriors and Jazz. — MacMahon
This week: NYK, MEM, @BOS
8. Miami Heat
Week 18 ranking: 8
Dwyane Wade’s No. 3 going to the rafters during a three-day jersey retirement celebration was definitely the Heat’s highlight of the week. That, along with an 82-point first half against the Cavaliers on Saturday, maybe helped ease the sting of Trae Young‘s 50-point performance. Miami has two apparent chippies on deck with Cleveland and Minnesota. That should help to get Jimmy Butler and Tyler Herro back in place. — Young
This week: @CLE, MIN, DAL, BKN
9. Utah Jazz
Week 18 ranking: 7
Utah’s run of 19 wins in 21 games seems like a distant memory. The Jazz are 4-7 since then and have had alarming defensive struggles during that span. Utah ranks 22nd in the league in defensive rating over the past 11 games, allowing 115.1 points per 100 possessions. Royce O’Neale, who was recently awarded a four-year, $36 million extension in large part due to his defensive prowess, has the team’s worst individual defensive rating in that stretch (118.0 when he is on the floor.) — MacMahon
This week: PHX, BOS, WAS
10. Oklahoma City Thunder
Week 18 ranking: 10
At 35-22, the Thunder would need to go 15-10 in their remaining 25 games to get to 50 wins — something the franchise hasn’t done since Kevin Durant was wearing a Thunder uniform. Fifteen of those games are on the road, which might make the task seem more daunting; but then again, the Thunder are riding an eight-game road winning streak. They came out of the break with a barometer game against the Nuggets — a possible first-round opponent — and put down an impressive 12-point win. The Thunder are serious. — Young
This week: @CHI, SAC, @MIL
11. Philadelphia 76ers
Week 18 ranking: 11
Philadelphia’s 9-20 record on the road and Saturday’s 21-point loss at Milwaukee are certainly cause for concern, but they seem minor compared to the health of Ben Simmons. He missed the 76ers’ first game following the All-Star break with lower back soreness, and he left during the first quarter of Saturday’s loss with more back pain. Simmons will not play Monday against the Hawks as he undergoes further testing, and any length of time missed could shut the door on the 76ers’ chances of home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. — Marks
This week: ATL, @CLE, NYK, @LAC
12. Dallas Mavericks
Week 18 ranking: 12
The chemistry is clicking between the young franchise cornerstones the Mavs plan to build around for the foreseeable future. Dallas has outscored opponents by 38 points in the 55 minutes Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis have played together since Doncic returned from his second right ankle sprain of the season. Porzingis got in his best groove of the campaign during Doncic’s absence, and that has continued, as Porzingis has averaged 25.5 points, 11.5 rebounds and 5.0 assists during their two recent games together. — MacMahon
This week: MIN, @SAS, @MIA, @MIN
13. Indiana Pacers
Week 18 ranking: 13
Victor Oladipo and the Pacers sputtered into the All-Star break, losing six straight games at one point while trying to acclimate Oladipo back into the lineup. They won the games going into and out of the break, but their 46-point loss to the Raptors on Sunday was the largest loss by a team over .500 since 2016, according to ESPN Stats & Information data. Oladipo missed that tilt with a sore back, but clearly the Pacers still have a ways to go to get back to competing at the top. — Snellings
This week: CHA, POR, @CLE
14. Memphis Grizzlies
Week 18 ranking: 14
Rookie of the Year front-runner Ja Morant and the Grizzlies stumbled out of the gate after the All-Star break, dropping both ends of a road back-to-back against the Kings and Lakers to fall to .500. Morant had more turnovers than assists in both losses, something he had done only three times all season. He also had a negative plus-minus in consecutive games for the first time since late January, and his minus-25 against the Kings matched Morant’s worst plus-minus since his NBA debut. — MacMahon
This week: @LAC, @HOU, SAC, LAL
15. Brooklyn Nets
Week 18 ranking: 15
There is finally a sense of clarity in Brooklyn. With the news that Kyrie Irving will undergo season-ending shoulder surgery, head coach Kenny Atkinson can now focus on the 13 healthy players in the locker room. The Nets faced the 76ers immediately following the announcement that Irving would be done for the season, and Brooklyn nearly joined the Mavericks and Heat as the only teams to win in Philadelphia this season. In Saturday’s 115-86 victory at Charlotte, eight players scored in double figures, including a team-high 21 points from Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot. The Nets will need to continue to take a “next man” approach to stay in contention for a playoff spot. — Marks
This week: ORL, @WAS, @ATL, @MIA
16. New Orleans Pelicans
Week 18 ranking: 17
Zion Williamson continues to make scoring in the NBA look historically easy for someone with so little experience. He has 10 games with 20-plus points in his first 12 appearances, matching the most in the opening dozen games of anyone’s career over the past five decades, according to research from ESPN Stats & Information. Williamson has eight straight 20-point performances, one away from tying Carmelo Anthony for the longest streak ever by a teenager. — MacMahon
This week: @LAL, CLE, LAL
17. San Antonio Spurs
Week 18 ranking: 18
Just when it seemed as if Dejounte Murray might be turning a corner in his development as a scoring threat, he had a doughnut in Sunday’s loss to the Thunder, going scoreless on 0-of-7 shooting. Murray, the 23-year-old point guard who signed a four-year, $64 million extension in the fall, had averaged 19.8 points on 60% shooting over the previous four games. — MacMahon
This week: DAL, ORL
18. Portland Trail Blazers
Week 18 ranking: 16
It wasn’t technically a must-win game against the Pistons on Sunday, but let’s call it a you’d-better-not-lose contest. And the Trail Blazers didn’t, squeaking by behind 41 points from CJ McCollum and 32 from Carmelo Anthony. They are four games behind Memphis in the loss column for the eighth playoff spot in the West, and they’re running out of time. Damian Lillard is coming back from his groin injury soon, but the Blazers are probably going to need another miraculous run from him to close the gap. The schedule is pretty favorable to close, but as inconsistent as Portland has been, that might not even matter. — Young
This week: BOS, @IND, @ATL
19. Orlando Magic
Week 18 ranking: 19
The Magic have lost nine of their past 12 games, going 0-8 against teams currently positioned for the playoffs and 3-1 against teams positioned for the lottery. They have fallen eight games under .500, but they still have a three-game lead for the eighth playoff spot in the East. Slam dunk near-champion Aaron Gordon has been the bellwether of late, averaging 22.3 points per game in the three wins but only 14.3 points in the nine losses. — Snellings
This week: @BKN, @ATL, MIN, @SAS
20. Sacramento Kings
Week 18 ranking: 21
The Kings have now won six of their past 10 games, including two over the heralded Clippers. But with a 23-33 record, it’s probably too late to gain a winning record or end the NBA’s longest playoff drought at 13 seasons. — Spears
This week: @GSW, @OKC, @MEM, DET
21. Phoenix Suns
Week 18 ranking: 20
Center Deandre Ayton has averaged 22.3 points and 13.9 rebounds in February. The No. 1 pick in the 2018 NBA draft was two points and one rebound shy of a 30-20 game in Saturday’s win against the Bulls. And that was despite dealing with an ankle injury. — Spears
This week: @UTAH, LAC, DET, GSW
22. Washington Wizards
Week 18 ranking: 22
The Wizards keep talking about making the playoffs, and every time it comes up, they lose horrible games — such as the ones against Cleveland and Chicago. And yet, they still are somehow only three games back in the loss column of the Magic for the 8-seed. But the upcoming schedule for Washington will probably be the determining factor, as 10 of its next 17 games are against teams currently positioned to play in the postseason. — Young
This week: MIL, BKN, @UTAH, @GSW
23. Charlotte Hornets
Week 18 ranking: 26
The two games following the All-Star break illustrated the growing pains in Charlotte this season. PJ Washington, Miles Bridges and Malik Monk scored a combined 64 points in a win at Chicago, while the Bulls were held to 93 points. In the following game, a 29-point loss at home to Brooklyn, the Hornets shot 35.2% from the field and allowed an undermanned Nets team to score 115 points. Devonte’ Graham has struggled offensively since the break, shooting a combined 1-of-17 from the field in both games. — Marks
This week: @IND, NYK, @TOR, MIL
24. Chicago Bulls
Week 18 ranking: 23
Coby White and Michael Jordan are the only Bulls rookies to score 30 points in consecutive games. White has tallied a career-high 33 points in back-to-back contests. White also joined Trae Young and Allen Iverson as the only rookies with 33 or more points in consecutive games. — Spears
This week: OKC, @NYK
25. Atlanta Hawks
Week 18 ranking: 28
Forward John Collins has averaged 25.4 points and 10.7 rebounds in February. He tied his career high with 35 points against Dallas on Saturday, and Collins has six games with at least 20 points and 10 rebounds in nine outings this month. — Spears
This week: @PHI, ORL, BKN, POR
26. New York Knicks
Week 18 ranking: 25
Whether Wayne Ellington will finish the season in a Knicks uniform or on a playoff team will become clearer this week. Ellington is a lead candidate to hit the waiver wire before the March 1 deadline for playoff eligibility. After signing a two-year, $16 million contract (there is only $1 million guaranteed in 2020-21) in July, the shooting guard has appeared in only 28 games, shooting a career-low 35.8% from the field. — Marks
This week: @HOU, @CHA, @PHI, CHI
27. Detroit Pistons
Week 18 ranking: 24
The Pistons have continued to go all-in on rebuilding, buying out veterans Reggie Jackson and Markieff Morris to make more space for their younger players to get on the court. This might be the smart long-term move for the franchise, but it signals a lot of losses to come this season. The Pistons have lost six straight games, and they might not be favored against any single opponent for the rest of the campaign. — Snellings
This week: @DEN, @PHX, @SAC
28. Minnesota Timberwolves
Week 18 ranking: 27
Karl-Anthony Towns is sidelined for at least the next couple of weeks with a fractured wrist, which means the Timberwolves have to wait before they can see their new core perform together on a regular basis. In the meantime, they’ve gotten good production from some of their lesser-heralded new additions, with Malik Beasley averaging 24 points per game and James Johnson turning in 14 combined steals and blocks over the past three games. — Snellings
This week: @DAL, @MIA, @ORL, DAL
29. Cleveland Cavaliers
Week 18 ranking: 29
A coaching change just after the All-Star break is not what general manager Koby Altman had envisioned when he hired John Beilein in the offseason. The five-year contract that Beilein signed was meant to bring a sense of stability to the young backcourt of Darius Garland and Collin Sexton. Instead, the Cavaliers are now on their fourth head coach in two seasons following Beilein’s resignation. If there is a silver lining, it is that the new head coach, former assistant J.B. Bickerstaff, already has a relationship with the current roster. — Marks
This week: MIA, PHI, @NOP, IND
30. Golden State Warriors
Week 18 ranking: 30
Injured guard Stephen Curry is expected to return on March 1. The two-time MVP scrimmaged on Saturday for the first time since having left hand surgery on Oct. 30. Curry’s Splash Brother, Klay Thompson, will not return this season. The Warriors, who are vying for the top pick in the draft, have the worst record in the NBA. — Spears
This week: SAC, LAL, @PHX, WAS
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