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Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown out 1-2 weeks with hamstring injury



Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown will miss the next 1-2 weeks with a right hamstring strain, coach Ime Udoka announced Monday.

Brown is leading the Celtics in scoring with a career-high 25.6 points per game.

The injury has already forced Brown to miss one game, a buzzer-beater loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday. That defeat was Boston’s first since holding a players-only meeting last week.

The Celtics (4-6) next play the Raptors (6-5) on Wednesday night.

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NBA Power Rankings, Week 7



The battle for No. 1 in the NBA Power Rankings is on.

The Golden State Warriors, winners of seven straight games, take their league-best 18-2 record into Tuesday night’s Western Conference showdown with the Phoenix Suns.

Phoenix, meanwhile, hasn’t lost in over a month and is one win shy of matching the franchise record of 17 straight victories.

Elsewhere in the NBA, the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks are looking like themselves again and have successfully broken out of the Eastern Conference play-in race. Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks have won seven straight ahead of a Wednesday night meeting with LaMelo Ball and the Charlotte Hornets.

LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers are back to .500, the injury-riddled Denver Nuggets continue to slide in the West standings and the Memphis Grizzlies prepare for a stretch without star guard Ja Morant, who suffered a sprained left knee on Friday.

Where do all 30 teams stand in the final rankings of November?

Note: Throughout the regular season, our panel (Tim Bontemps, Jamal Collier, Nick Friedell, Andrew Lopez, Tim MacMahon, Dave McMenamin and Ohm Youngmisuk) 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. Golden State Warriors
2021-22 record: 18-2
Previous ranking: 1

The Warriors are 18-2. Klay Thompson appears to be just a few more weeks away from returning. Stephen Curry is playing like he’s on track to win the third MVP award of his career. Draymond Green continues to play like he’s headed to another Defensive Player of the Year award. They have a chance to snap Phoenix’s 16-game winning streak on Tuesday and will see the Suns again on Friday night. Everything is looking up for Steve Kerr and his talented roster right now. — Friedell

This week: @PHX, PHX, SA

2. Phoenix Suns
2021-22 record: 17-3
Previous ranking: 2

With one more win, the Suns would tie their franchise record with 17 consecutive victories. They’ll get the chance on Tuesday night against the only team in the league with as many wins as the Suns have this season — the Warriors. Phoenix’s 16-game streak is also tied for the third-longest win streak in NBA history for a team that lost in the NBA Finals the previous season. — Lopez

This week: GS, DET, @DET

3. Brooklyn Nets
2021-22 record: 14-6
Previous ranking: 3

Brooklyn is a team that can be viewed in a couple different ways. Good: The Nets have the NBA’s third-best record, the East’s best record and Kevin Durant and James Harden are healthy. Bad: They’ve had three games against the other elite teams in the NBA this season — Milwaukee, Golden State and Phoenix — and have been thoroughly beaten in all of them. — Bontemps

This week: NY, MIN, CHI

4. Milwaukee Bucks
2021-22 record: 13-8
Previous ranking: 9

The Bucks look like one of the powers in the Eastern Conference once again. They’ve won seven consecutive games, thanks to the best defensive efficiency in the NBA during that span, and they are still undefeated (9-0) this season when Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday are all in the starting lineup. Milwaukee has benefited from playing some soft competition recently, so hosting the Hornets and Heat this week should provide a better measuring stick. — Collier

This week: CHA, @TOR, MIA

5. Miami Heat
2021-22 record: 13-7
Previous ranking: 6

Playing without Tyler Herro, the Heat earned a strong win over the Bulls on Saturday night, thanks in part to the 20 points that Gabe Vincent poured in off the bench. Miami has another showdown with the Bucks coming up on Saturday night, but it has to feel good about the way things are going — especially with the way the defense continues to come together behind Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. — Friedell

This week: DEN, CLE, @IND, @MIL

6. Utah Jazz
2021-22 record: 13-7
Previous ranking: 5

It wasn’t a good week for the Jazz, who blew late leads in home losses to the Grizzlies and Pelicans. “This is not who we are,” Donovan Mitchell said after Friday’s loss to New Orleans, during which he was 6-of-21 from the floor days after going 5-of-20 against Memphis. “We have to be better. I have to be better. We have to start moving the ball or this is going to be who we are.” Utah responded by blowing out the Pelicans in a rematch the next night. — MacMahon

This week: POR, BOS, @CLE

7. Chicago Bulls
2021-22 record: 13-8
Previous ranking: 4

The Bulls dropped three of four games last week while letting some winnable games slip by with losses to the Heat and Rockets. Despite their hot start, their half-court offense is taking some time to gel against teams that stop them from running in transition. According to data, Chicago ranks 27th in offensive efficiency after field goals made by their opponent. — Collier

This week: CHA, @NY, @BKN

8. Washington Wizards
2021-22 record: 13-7
Previous ranking: 7

The Wizards bounced back after a 127-102 loss at New Orleans with two straight wins. They pulled out a two-point win at Oklahoma City before getting a quality victory at Dallas. They will look to close this road swing at San Antonio with their third straight win. Washington is also starting to get reinforcements, as Davis Bertans has returned from injury and Rui Hachimura has been ramping up slowly for a possible return in December. The Wizards continue to play much-improved defense and are still one of the biggest surprises in the East. — Youngmisuk

This week: @SA, MIN, CLE, @TOR

9. Dallas Mavericks
2021-22 record: 10-8
Previous ranking: 10

Kristaps Porzingis‘ career-long streak of seven consecutive 20-plus-point performances was snapped in Saturday’s loss to the Wizards. He was particularly pleased about being a featured act in two games against the Clippers, as opposed to being used almost solely as a spacer in last season’s playoff series. “What a contrast, right?” said Porzingis, who scored 55 points on 19-of-34 shooting as the Mavs split the two games in L.A. “Honestly, I haven’t felt like this for a while. Last time I can remember was probably [with] New York.” — MacMahon

This week: CLE, @NO, NO, MEM

10. Charlotte Hornets
2021-22 record: 13-9
Previous ranking: 13

Charlotte continues to keep things interesting each and every week. The Hornets notched a win over the Timberwolves on Friday, followed by an overtime loss to the Rockets on Saturday night. The Hornets have three more intriguing road games this week against the Bulls, Bucks and Hawks. Kelly Oubre Jr. needs to stay hot in order to give the young team its best chance this week — he’s averaging 23.7 points per game over his past three contests. — Friedell

This week: @CHI, @MIL, @ATL

11. LA Clippers
2021-22 record: 11-9
Previous ranking: 12

The Clippers are beginning to get a little healthier. Marcus Morris Sr. returned last week, and Serge Ibaka is back, although not a major part of the rotation yet. But the Clippers miss Nic Batum, who has missed the past four games while in the health and safety protocols. The Clippers are 2-2 in that stretch, and a healthy Batum might’ve made the difference in the Clippers’ 112-104 overtime loss to the Mavericks on Tuesday. They played the Warriors tough on Sunday until Steph Curry put them away in the fourth. — Youngmisuk

This week: NO, SAC, @LAL, @SAC

12. Philadelphia 76ers
2021-22 record: 10-10
Previous ranking: 11

Philadelphia got Joel Embiid back after nearly three weeks away due to COVID-19 on Saturday night, but that wasn’t enough to stop the 76ers from losing in double overtime to the Timberwolves. More important in the long run, however, is that Embiid immediately looked like he was back to normal when he took the court. — Bontemps

This week: ORL, @BOS, @ATL

13. Atlanta Hawks
2021-22 record: 11-10
Previous ranking: 18

Atlanta’s seven-game win streak ended on Saturday against the Knicks, but it was another stellar night for Clint Capela, who finished with 16 points and 21 rebounds. It was his 22nd 15-point, 15-rebound game since joining the Hawks last season, tied with Rudy Gobert for the most in that span. In his past eight games, Capela is averaging 15.1 points and 15.1 rebounds per game. — Lopez

This week: @IND, PHI, CHA

14. New York Knicks
2021-22 record: 11-9
Previous ranking: 14

As Kemba Walker continues to struggle, at some point Tom Thibodeau will have to consider making a change to his starting lineup at the point. Of course, given how poorly the Knicks’ starting group has performed overall — it has been outscored by over 15 points per 100 possessions while being the most played five-man group in the NBA — some would argue he should do so now. — Bontemps

This week: @BKN, CHI, DEN

15. Portland Trail Blazers
2021-22 record: 10-10
Previous ranking: 17

Portland opened last week with its fourth straight win, a 19-point victory over Denver. But the Blazers lost at Sacramento the next night before losing by 15 to the Warriors on Friday. They’ll complete a three-game road swing at Utah on Monday. At 10-10, Chauncey Billups’ Blazers continue to struggle to find consistency. — Youngmisuk

This week: @UTAH, DET, SA, BOS

16. Denver Nuggets
2021-22 record: 9-10
Previous ranking: 8

The Nuggets are sinking fast with injuries crippling their season. Denver has lost six straight games, the last four without MVP Nikola Jokic (wrist). The Nuggets’ injury report is packed. Sitting alongside Jokic are Jamal Murray (knee) and Michael Porter Jr. (back), who are both out indefinitely. And Denver lost valued reserve P.J. Dozier for the season to a torn ACL. The Nuggets start a seven-game road swing on Monday at Miami, where the Nuggets will face the Heat for the first time since Jokic and Markieff Morris had their run-in that resulted in a one-game suspension for Jokic. Morris hasn’t played since that game. — Youngmisuk

This week: @MIA, @ORL, @NY

17. Boston Celtics
2021-22 record: 11-10
Previous ranking: 15

Boston got a win Sunday night over the Raptors to end November over .500, giving the Celtics a little bit of momentum going into a brutal month of December. How rough will it be? The Celtics have 15 games on the schedule — and every single opponent has a record of .500 or better. — Bontemps

This week: PHI, @UTAH, @POR

18. Los Angeles Lakers
2021-22 record: 11-11
Previous ranking: 16

“I mean, it ranks right at the top with any other challenge I’ve had in my career,” LeBron James said of the Lakers’ season after Sunday’s win over Detroit. “Which actually brings out the best in me and I love that.” L.A. fans will love to see some consistency out of their team after the see-saw continued this week. — McMenamin

This week: @SAC, LAC

19. Minnesota Timberwolves
2021-22 record: 10-10
Previous ranking: 23

The Timberwolves are fresh off a victory in one of the most thrilling games of the season so far, a double-overtime road win against the 76ers that marked Minnesota’s sixth win in its past seven games — including a five-game winning streak, the team’s longest since the 2016-17 season. With a defense that is 10th in the NBA in efficiency, the Wolves seem primed for a legitimate challenge for at least a spot in the play-in tournament. It would be just Minnesota’s second postseason appearance since 2003-04. — Collier

This week: IND, @WAS, @BKN

20. Cleveland Cavaliers
2021-22 record: 10-10
Previous ranking: 19

All it took for Cleveland to snap its five-game losing streak was to have Rookie of the Year front-runner Evan Mobley return to the lineup. Mobley came back from an elbow sprain absence to put up 13 points, nine rebounds and four blocks in Saturday’s 105-92 win over the Magic. — McMenamin

This week: @DAL, @MIA, @WAS, UTAH

21. Memphis Grizzlies
2021-22 record: 10-10
Previous ranking: 21

The MRI results on franchise star Ja Morant‘s sprained left knee were a relief, but he will miss at least a few weeks. “We avoided significant injury,” coach Taylor Jenkins said before Sunday’s game against the Kings. “Basically, there’s no set timeline, just so everyone understands.” The Grizzlies managed to stay afloat when Morant missed time due to a sprained ankle last season, going 4-4 in that stretch. — MacMahon

This week: @TOR, OKC, @DAL

22. Indiana Pacers
2021-22 record: 9-13
Previous ranking: 22

The Pacers have been one of the more difficult teams in the league to gauge, and they continued their up-and-down play last week. They won comfortably on the road against the Bulls and at home against the Raptors, but had an overtime loss to the Lakers and blowout loss to the Bucks mixed in. — Collier

This week: @MIN, ATL, MIA

23. Toronto Raptors
2021-22 record: 9-12
Previous ranking: 20

Toronto got off to a 6-3 start, powered by a five-game winning streak, but the Raptors have since dropped nine of 12, including Sunday’s loss at home to the Celtics. The Raptors need to get OG Anunoby back on the court, as his absence due to injury was felt in a big way against Boston, which simply wore Toronto down. — Bontemps

This week: MEM, MIL, WAS

24. Sacramento Kings
2021-22 record: 8-13
Previous ranking: 25

Leave it to the Lakers to make the Kings feel good about themselves for a night. Losers of eight out of 10 coming into Friday night’s game in L.A., the Kings overcame a 13-point fourth-quarter deficit and seven-point hole in the first overtime to beat the Lakers in triple overtime. Something to keep an eye on: Marvin Bagley III is back in the rotation with Alvin Gentry at the helm, and is averaging 11.5 points on 81.8% shooting and 7.5 rebounds in the Kings’ past two wins. — McMenamin

This week: LAL, @LAC, LAC

25. Oklahoma City Thunder
2021-22 record: 6-13
Previous ranking: 24

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander missed two games last week due to a sprained right ankle and has been struggling recently. He has scored fewer than 20 points in his past five games, the first time that has happened since the end of the 2019-20 season. Gilgeous-Alexander is shooting 30.8% from the floor and 19.4% from 3-point range in this slump. — MacMahon

This week: @HOU, HOU, @MEM

26. San Antonio Spurs
2021-22 record: 5-13
Previous ranking: 26

The free throw line has not been kind to San Antonio this season. The Spurs rank last in free throws made per game and second to last in free throws attempted per game. San Antonio is also shooting a league-low 69% from the stripe. San Antonio still ranks 18th in scoring this year despite ranking last in 3-pointers made and attempted. — Lopez

This week: WAS, @POR, @GS

27. Detroit Pistons
2021-22 record: 4-16
Previous ranking: 27

The Pistons’ week was most notable for the fallout after the on-court scuffle between LeBron James and Isaiah Stewart, but Detroit has also dropped a season-high six straight games. The Pistons have had issues making shots all season and are last in the league in 3-point percentage (29.7%). — Collier

This week: @POR, @PHX

28. New Orleans Pelicans
2021-22 record: 5-17
Previous ranking: 29

In Friday night’s win over the Jazz, the Pelicans’ Willy Hernangomez hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer at the end of the first half to take a lead into the break and then Devonte’ Graham nailed a 3-pointer with 1.3 seconds to go in the fourth quarter to lift New Orleans to a win. According to ESPN Stats & Information research, the Pelicans became the first team since 2013 to hit go-ahead 3-pointers in the final two seconds of each half. — Lopez

This week: @LAC, DAL, @DAL, @HOU

29. Orlando Magic
2021-22 record: 4-17
Previous ranking: 28

Orlando has dropped six straight and starts a four-game West Coast swing later this week. The good news for the Magic is that Markelle Fultz has started practicing with the team’s G League affiliate and appears to be inching closer to a return to the floor. The Magic need all the help they can get as young players Cole Anthony and Mo Bamba are dealing with injuries of their own. — Friedell

This week: @PHI, DEN, @HOU

30. Houston Rockets
2021-22 record: 3-16
Previous ranking: 30

John Wall‘s desire to play puts the franchise in the position of trying to figure out how to respect the five-time All-Star while still prioritizing the development of Kevin Porter Jr. It has been a rocky start to Porter’s first season as a full-time starting point guard, but he showed promise during the Rockets’ shocking two-game winning streak, averaging 18.5 points, 7.0 rebounds and 10.5 assists in upsets of the Bulls and Hornets that came on the heels of a 15-game losing streak. — MacMahon

This week: OKC, @OKC, ORL, NO

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Amid cancer fight, NBA referee Tony Brown returning to work



Tony Brown usually isn’t that excited about being assigned a shift as one of the referees working in the NBA’s replay center.

That is, until now.

The longtime NBA ref — diagnosed earlier this year with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer — is going back to work Monday for the first time in eight months. He’s been cleared to work in the replay center for two nights, after his family, his doctors and the league agreed that his treatment has gone well enough to allow for him to start a comeback.

“I haven’t had time to sit around and be like ‘Why me?’ or ‘What am I going to do?'” Brown said in an interview with The Associated Press. “Me not fighting would have made me feel like I was letting people down. What kind of example was I going to be to my kids if I just laid in this bed and let it overtake me? I had to show my kids that there’s nothing in life that you can’t challenge and overcome if you have a positive mindset.”

Brown’s fight is a long way from over. The American Cancer Society estimates 3% of patients with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer are alive five years after being diagnosed.

He’s undergone 14 rounds of chemotherapy — each involving seven hours of getting infused with three different drugs at a hospital, followed by two more days of treatment at home through a port in his chest. Brown still has two more rounds of chemo left, but doctors are encouraged by scans that show his tumors have been steadily shrinking.

“I’ve gotten better results than what’s been expected,” Brown said.

His friends in the NBA referee community have checked in constantly. Rodney Mott, one of his closest allies, helped introduce Brown to certain shakes and supplements that Brown believes has helped him throughout the process. Even some current players have sent well-wishes.

“This is something you cannot face alone,” Brown said.

It all started with what was initially believed to just be food poisoning from a bad batch of sushi that he had during a work trip to Miami. That led to tests, which led to more tests, which finally led to the cancer diagnosis. Within a week, he was undergoing aggressive treatment and has been seeing highly regarded doctors from Emory University in Atlanta and the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston since.

Turns out, the food poisoning was a very lucky break.

“I hope it just sends a clear message: just go and get some type of early detection,” Brown said. “It’s worth it, because you just never know. And time is of the essence.”

Brown has officiated 1,109 regular-season games, two NBA All-Star games and made his NBA Finals debut in 2020. He was going to return to the replay center earlier this month, but the schedule couldn’t be worked out around his chemo regimen at that time.

Monty McCutchen, who oversees the NBA referees, told Brown that when he was ready, the league would be ready for him. Brown’s doctors then signed off, and that left Brown with just one more necessary clearance.

“I started talking to my family about it, and before I could even get the words out, they were like ‘Absolutely, you should do it,'” Brown said. “I thought about it for about a week, then I contacted Monty and said I was ready to contribute and do my part.”

Brown’s goal is to get back on the court this season, possibly not long after the All-Star break. He’s been immersed in the game during his absence, saying watching and studying has been a big part of his therapy.

He’s also been able to keep in shape, another obvious help.

“I haven’t just been fighting for just me,” Brown said. “I’ve felt like I’m fighting for everybody that has love and respect for me. And that’s just makes you fight even harder.”

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Isaiah Thomas’ late 3 helps USA Basketball open World Cup qualifying with win over Cuba



CHIHUAHUA, Mexico — Isaiah Thomas made sure USA Basketball’s road to the 2023 World Cup didn’t begin with a major upset.

Thomas scored 21 points, including a sealing 3-pointer with 13.3 seconds left, and the Americans erased a seven-point deficit in the fourth quarter to beat Cuba 95-90 on Sunday in their World Cup qualifying opener.

“It’s an honor and a privilege to put USA on your chest,” the 32-year-old Thomas said. “So, anytime USA Basketball comes calling, I’m always going to be for it. We have a great group of guys, a great coaching staff, and it was fun to be out there. It was a great game. It was a tough game for us.”

The lead was just two after a Cuba basket by Jasiel Rivero with 34 seconds remaining. The U.S. didn’t call a timeout, and Thomas kept the ball in his hands for the entirety of what became the biggest possession of the game for the Americans.

The two-time NBA All-Star — who averaged 29 points for the Boston Celtics in 2016-17 and spent a considerable amount of time battling injuries since — waited for a screen, used it and connected from near the top of the key for a 93-88 lead.

“We have prepared for those moments,” U.S. coach Jim Boylen said. “We were organized. And he made a huge play.”

Thomas — an NBA free agent with hopes of getting back into the league — last appeared on the national team in February, starting two games during qualifying for the AmeriCup. He led the team with 14 points per game in those contests, with the U.S. defeating the Bahamas and Mexico.

He was in the NBA briefly last season, averaging 7.7 points in three games with New Orleans.

“For me, personally, the ultimate goal is to get back in the NBA,” Thomas said. “But I just love playing the game of basketball. So, obviously, at some point, if the NBA isn’t an option, I’ve got to look at options overseas. But I’m in love with the game. No matter where I’m playing, I have no pride whatsoever. I love competing and I love playing against the best players in the world.”

Brian Bowen II and B.J. Johnson each scored 16 points for the U.S., while Justin Anderson added 10 for the Americans.

Rivero, who plays professionally in the top Spanish league, led all scorers with 34 points for Cuba. Karel Guzman scored 18 and Yoanki Mensia finished with 12 for Cuba.

“We give all the respect to Cuba,” Thomas said. “They were a hell of a team. They made everything tough for us. They were talented.”

Marcos Chacon’s 3-pointer with 8:45 left gave Cuba an 80-73 lead. The Americans answered with a quick 9-0 run — Bowen and Thomas made 3-pointers to get the U.S. within one, then Thomas added a three-point play to cap the flurry and put his team back on top 82-80.

It was tied twice more from there. Johnson’s 3-pointer pushed the U.S. edge to 88-84 with 2:46 left, and Thomas sealed it in the final moments.

“We stuck to the game plan and we got a win,” Thomas said.

USA Basketball is using a roster composed primarily of G League players for qualifying, then added Thomas a few days before training camp began earlier this month in Houston. The U.S. is ranked No. 1 in the world by FIBA and is coming off the Olympic gold medal at the Tokyo Games, but it still needs to qualify all over again for the World Cup — which is one of the paths teams can use toward qualifying for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

The U.S. concludes its trip to Mexico by playing the host nation in another qualifying game on Monday night. The two games in Mexico are the first of six first-round games for the U.S. in World Cup qualifying. The Americans are also scheduled to play Puerto Rico on Feb. 24, Mexico on Feb. 27, Puerto Rico on July 1 and Cuba again on July 4 in the opening qualifying round.

There are four teams in each of four qualifying groups out of the FIBA Americas region. The top three teams in each group move on to the second round of qualifying, which starts in August and runs through February 2023.

The World Cup is scheduled Aug. 25 to Sept. 10, 2023, with the final in the Philippines and other games taking place in Japan and Indonesia.


USA: Faces Mexico on Monday.

Cuba: Faces Puerto Rico on Monday.

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