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Atlanta Hawks’ Trae Young gets $15K fine for making contact with referee

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NEW YORK — Trae Young was fined $15,000 by the NBA on Friday for making contact with a referee.

The star guard was penalized for his actions with 6:41 left in the second quarter of Atlanta’s 122-111 loss to Washington on Thursday.

Young was driving left and bumped by defender Raul Neto, his momentum carrying him across the baseline after he missed the shot but didn’t earn a foul call. As he ran back onto the court, Young bumped his arm into official Ben Taylor, who called him for a technical foul.

Young is one of the players who was expected to lose out on some foul calls he previously received after the NBA emphasized this season cutting down on calls against defenders when the offensive player initiated the contact.

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LeBron James addresses criticism of Los Angeles Lakers coach Frank Vogel

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EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — LeBron James said he and his teammates have to play better when asked about the scrutiny facing Los Angeles Lakers coach Frank Vogel.

“I think criticism comes with the job, you know?” James said after practice on Monday. “Frank is a strong-minded guy. He has a great coaching staff. And we as his players have to do a better job of going out and producing on the floor. We’re a team and an organization that don’t mind some adversity, that don’t mind people saying things about us, obviously, because it comes with the territory.”

L.A. is 12-12, which would put it as the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference and in the play-in tournament if the season ended today.

For a roster chock full of future Hall of Famers, playing for an organization that has made no secret about its championship aspirations for this season from the front office down to the locker room, .500 ball simply will not cut it — even though the team has navigated myriad early-season injuries.

James said the stature that players like himself, Russell Westbrook, Anthony Davis, Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard and Rajon Rondo have achieved in the game has made them impervious to the backlash that inevitably arises when expectations — fair or not — are not met.

“We have a lot of guys on this team that have been bulletin-board material for quite a long time, so it don’t quite bother us,” James said. “Everything that we do stays in house when it comes to our preparation and how we prepare for our next opponent and how we prepare to get better. Frank doesn’t care and we don’t either about what people are saying.”

It was just 14 months ago that Vogel guided the Lakers to the championship to cap his first season coaching the franchise.

He has a 106-61 record (.635) since coming to L.A., the sixth-best winning percentage of any coach in Lakers history with at least 100 games on the sidelines. His playoff coaching record winning percentage, 18-9 (.667), puts him third behind only Pat Riley (.685) and Paul Westhead (.684), and ahead of Phil Jackson (.652), who is fourth.

“There’s going to be criticism with this job,” said Vogel, who is in his third opportunity as head coach, following six seasons with the Indiana Pacers and two with the Orlando Magic. “It’s something we’re all accustomed to. And I’ve been a coach for 10 years, I’ve seen it all.”

Vogel said the Lakers’ stage only amplifies the noise.

“Is it more national? Yes, it’s more national,” Vogel said. “Is there a bigger fanbase in this market in L.A.? Yes, there is. But it’s been there for every head coach, and it’s something I’m not unfamiliar with. So it just comes with the job.”

Vogel is the eighth head coach in James’ 19-year career, following Paul Silas, Brendan Malone and Mike Brown in Cleveland; Erik Spoelstra in Miami; David Blatt and Tyronn Lue during his second stint with the Cavaliers; and Luke Walton in L.A.

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Giannis Antetokounmpo back in Milwaukee Bucks’ lineup for his 27th birthday after 2-game absence

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MILWAUKEE — Giannis Antetokounmpo is celebrating his 27th birthday by returning to the Milwaukee Bucks‘ lineup after a two-game absence.

The two-time MVP is listed among the Bucks’ five starters for their game Monday night with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Antetokounmpo had been listed as questionable due to a sore right calf that knocked him out for the previous two games.

“We’ll see how he feels when he warms up and determine it,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said Monday before the lineups were released.

The Bucks split the two games Antetokounmpo missed last week.

In their first game without him, the Bucks lost 97-93 at Toronto on Thursday to snap an eight-game winning streak. They rebounded at home two nights later by rolling to a 124-102 victory over Miami.

Antetokounmpo is scoring 27.6 points per game this season to rank second in the NBA, behind Brooklyn’s Kevin Durant. He’s also averaging 11.8 rebounds and six assists.

Denver’s Nikola Jokić is the only other NBA player averaging at least 25 points, 10 rebounds and five assists this season.

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Chicago Bulls’ DeMar DeRozan enters health and safety protocols

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Chicago Bulls star DeMar DeRozan has entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols and will miss Monday night’s game against the Denver Nuggets.

DeRozan becomes the third Bulls player currently in the health and safety protocols, joining Coby White and Javonte Green.

DeRozan was recognized earlier in the day as the Eastern Conference Player of the Week for averaging 30.3 points, 5.7 rebounds and shooting 58.7% from the field while the Bulls went 3-0 last week with wins against the Charlotte Hornets, New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets.

DeRozan is fourth in the league in scoring, averaging 26.4 points per game in his first season with the Bulls.

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