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Los Angeles Lakers’ Frank Vogel



EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — After having had a day off to digest his team’s season-opening loss to the Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Lakers coach Frank Vogel said Russell Westbrook‘s debut wasn’t nearly as dreadful as it seemed.

“[Westbrook played] pretty good,” Vogel said after practice Thursday when asked how the Lakers’ major offseason acquisition looked in his review of the game film. “We didn’t get him involved enough, and that’s on me. We continue to look at situations to make him useful and not pull away from what [Anthony Davis] and [LeBron James] are doing.

“Those guys obviously got going, but I didn’t do a good enough job getting Russ going, and that’s an easy fix. Something that we’re familiar with and keep looking at every day and get a little more comfortable with it.”

Westbrook logged the worst plus-minus on the team, as the Lakers were outscored by 23 in the 35 minutes he was on the court. L.A. led by 16 in the 13 minutes Westbrook was on the bench.

James (34 points on 13-for-23 shooting) and Davis (33 points on 15-for-26) both connected on more than 50% of their shots, whereas Westbrook (eight points on 4-for-13 shooting) shot just 30.8%. His five rebounds and four assists also were counterbalanced by four turnovers and four fouls.

Davis said you wouldn’t know that Westbrook struggled in his L.A. homecoming by how he carried himself at practice.

“He was himself, as a person and on the floor,” Davis said. “He got to some of his moves, the post-ups, where he scores. Dribble back-downs where he scores and dribble pull-ups off the glass — his go-to when he scores. Talking s— to everybody and all that.

“He was his normal self, and it’s good to see that. He had a day off to reflect, get over it, flush it. And then come back to practice and get back to being himself. And hopefully it carries over to tomorrow where he can be Russell Westbrook.”

The matchups don’t get any easier for Westbrook and the Lakers. After they faced Stephen Curry on Tuesday, Chris Paul and the defending Western Conference champion Phoenix Suns come to town Friday.

Getting Westbrook going will help, especially because L.A. got some more bad injury news Thursday. Kendrick Nunn, who missed the end of training camp and was sidelined Tuesday because of a sprained right ankle, experienced soreness in his right knee and an MRI revealed a bone bruise. He will be reevaluated in two to three weeks, according to Vogel. Vogel said that Wayne Ellington (hamstring) would also be out Friday.

And L.A. was already without Trevor Ariza (ankle) and Talen Horton-Tucker (thumb) after both underwent surgery during the preseason.

Davis sounded confident that the Lakers would figure things out with Westbrook, saying it just might take some time.

“We know him as a person, as a friend, a brother,” Davis said. “We played on the Olympic team, but obviously, that’s totally different. All-Star Games, totally different. To play in a season with him, this is me and Bron’s first time. It takes time to kind of figure out — this is what he needs to draw back in or this is what we need to run to get him going. Or this is what he likes to do. He only played in three preseason games, him and Bron, so that rhythm is still coming — for all three of us. … So we’re going to make sure that we do whatever we can to try and help him speed that process up to get him going.

“But he’ll be fine. He’s just got to be himself, like I said before, and everything will work out for him.”

Vogel said he believes the same for his team as a whole.

“We’re going to have a bigger need for patience than most teams because we have 11 new players. It’s that simple,” Vogel said. “We’re very different and new to each other. So there’s gonna be more of a need for patience with our team than any.”

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Brooklyn Nets lose Kevin Durant to left knee sprain in second quarter vs. New Orleans Pelicans



NEW YORK — Brooklyn Nets star forward Kevin Durant injured his left knee during the second quarter of Saturday’s 120-105 win over the New Orleans Pelicans.

The team called it a left knee sprain, and it occurred with just under six minutes left in the quarter as Pelicans guard Herb Jones drove to the basket and collided with Nets guard Bruce Brown, who fell backwards into Durant, who was standing behind the play. Durant will undergo an MRI on Sunday, sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Brooklyn’s leading scorer tried to stay in the game for a few moments, walking around, trying to loosen the knee up, but he walked over to the bench and checked himself out shortly thereafter. Durant went straight back to the locker room to be checked out.

Durant left Barclays Center about midway through the fourth quarter, walking with a limp on his way to a waiting car. He sounded hopeful that the injury wasn’t too serious, but was unsure at this point if he would be able to travel to Cleveland for Monday’s game against the Cavaliers.

Both Durant and the Nets now wait to see what the results of the MRI bring.

At halftime, with the Nets leading, 69-41, the team announced Durant would be out for the remainder of the game.

The injury overshadows what had been a strong return for the former MVP, who sat out Thursday’s loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder to rest. In 12 minutes on Saturday, Durant had 12 points, three rebounds and two assists before leaving the game.

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MRI shows no structural damage to knee of Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine



CHICAGO — Bulls guard Zach LaVine is not expected to miss significant time after an MRI on Saturday morning showed no structural damage to his left knee.

LaVine will be reevaluated early next week, the team said. LaVine did not travel with the team for its game Saturday night in Boston, and he will begin targeted therapy on his knee before the Bulls can offer a more definitive timeline.

“Well, obviously very optimistic and very grateful that it wasn’t something more,” Bulls coach Billy Donovan said. “That’s why they wanted to do the MRI, so he’ll continue to get therapy and we’ll re-evaluate him after a period of time. I don’t think it’s something that’s long-term, which is a good thing. So the biggest thing is how does he respond to therapy, treatment, those kinds of things.

“I think once they see how he responds to the therapy there will be a clearer view of when a return date will be possible.”

LaVine landed awkwardly while grabbing an offensive rebound during the first quarter of Friday’s game against the Golden State Warriors. He took an intentional foul on the next play before taking himself out of the game.

The Bulls were optimistic after Friday’s game that LaVine had avoided a major injury, but wanted to proceed with caution considering LaVine tore the ACL in the same knee in 2017 while playing for the Timberwolves.

In 38 games for Chicago this season, LaVine is averaging 24.9 points, 4.8 rebounds and 4.2 assists while shooting 49% from the field.

In addition to LaVine, the Bulls will also be without Lonzo Ball on Saturday night as he is experiencing left knee soreness.

“(Saturday) morning when we met he still had some soreness in that joint and just wanted to rest him and have him sit out,” Donovan said. “I don’t want to say day-to-day … when I say day-to-day, it’s not like this game, and he’s back for Memphis. I think right now for the Memphis game he would be doubtful until he goes through treatment and therapy and see how he feels and if the soreness subsides and how quickly it subsides.”

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Dallas Mavericks get Kristaps Porzingis, coach Jason Kidd back from health and safety protocols



DALLAS — Mavericks power forward/center Kristaps Porzingis has cleared the NBA’s health and safety protocols after missing the past seven games and is expected to play in Saturday night’s home game against the Orlando Magic.

Mavericks coach Jason Kidd also cleared the protocols.

Dallas won six of the seven games missed by Porzingis, who is averaging 20.6 points, 8.0 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game. The Mavs went 3-1 during Kidd’s absence, when defensive coordinator Sean Sweeney served as the acting head coach.

A source said Porzingis felt well in recent days and had been able to do individual workouts.

Porzingis’ clearance makes center Marquese Chriss ineligible to play for the Mavericks while he remains on a 10-day hardship deal that expires Thursday.

Sources said the Mavericks are considering their options to sign Chriss for the remainder of the season, which would require a move to create an open roster spot.

Chriss has played in 12 games over three 10-day deals with the Mavericks, averaging 6.8 points and 3.9 rebounds in 11.8 minutes per game while shooting 63% from the floor.

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