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Denver Nuggets’ Nikola Jokic nursing sprained wrist, out Friday vs. Chicago Bulls

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DENVER — The Denver Nuggets were without reigning MVP Nikola Jokic on Friday night against the Chicago Bulls because of a sprained right wrist.

Jokic, who sat courtside with his wrist in a brace, appeared to be hurt the night before in a home loss to Philadelphia. Coach Michael Malone said he didn’t believe the injury would sideline Jokic for long, but had no timetable for his return.

“I don’t think it’s going to be a long-term thing at all, but at the same time, I don’t want to put him out there if he can only play with one hand,” Malone said. “Unfair to ask him to do that. When he’s ready to play, he’ll play. That could be against Phoenix, that could be in a week. There’s no timeline at this point.”

Jokic is having another MVP-caliber season, averaging 26.4 points, 13.6 rebounds and 6.4 assists for the Nuggets, who travel to Phoenix to play the Suns on Sunday.

This was the second game Jokic has missed this season. He was out in a win over Indiana on Nov. 10 as he served a one-game suspension for his role in a fracas with Miami’s Markieff Morris.

The Nuggets, who were also without Jamal Murray (knee) and Michael Porter Jr. (back), lost 114-108 to the Bulls.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Cleveland Cavaliers’ Collin Sexton done for season after torn meniscus surgery

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Cleveland Cavaliers guard Collin Sexton‘s season is over after surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee.

Sexton, 22, hurt his knee Nov. 7 in a game against the New York Knicks. The Cavs didn’t provide an update until Friday, when they said Sexton underwent surgery Wednesday in Atlanta.

He was second on the team in scoring at 16.0 points and averaged 3.3 rebounds and 2.1 assists in Cleveland’s first 11 games.

His loss is a significant blow for the Cavs, who got off to a strong start but have been ravaged recently by injuries. Rookie forward Evan Mobley is expected to miss a month with an elbow sprain.

The Cavs were missing six regulars Thursday night in a loss to the Golden State Warriors.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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New Orleans Pelicans guard Didi Louzada suspended 25 games for violating NBA/NBPA’s anti-drug program

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The NBA has suspended New Orleans Pelicans guard Didi Louzada 25 games without pay for violating the NBA/NBPA’s anti-drug program.

Louzada tested positive for drostanolone and testosterone.

In a statement to ESPN, Louzada, 22, described the source of unknowingly ingesting the banned substances as an offseason trip back to his Brazilian home and consultation with a nutritionist recommended to him.

“When I was in Brazil during the offseason, I consulted a nutritionist who recommended I take some vitamins and supplements,” Louzada said in the statement. “Because she has a history of working with professional athletes, I would never have imagined that any of those substances would be banned or could be contaminated. Once I learned of the positive test, I immediately cooperated completely with the league and union to help all of us understand what exactly occurred.

“I would never knowingly take anything that violates NBA rules. I accept my responsibility in this situation. I deeply regret that this happened and I apologize to my team, my teammates, and Pelicans fans for this mistake.”

The Pelicans drafted Louzada with the 35th pick in 2019, the same draft in which they selected Zion Williamson. Louzada was a part of the deal that sent the No. 4 pick to Atlanta in which New Orleans also acquired Jaxson Hayes and Nickeil Alexander-Walker.

“On behalf of the New Orleans Pelicans organization, we were disappointed to learn that Didi Louzada violated the NBA/NBPA Anti-Drug Program,” David Griffin, Pelicans executive vice president of basketball operations, said in a statement. “After speaking with Didi, we are confident that he understands the full gravity of the situation and regrets the decisions that led to the suspension. We fully support Didi on and off the court as he learns and grows from this experience.”

Louzada spent two seasons with the Sydney Kings in the NBL before the Pelicans signed him in April of last season for the final few games of the 2020-21 campaign. This offseason, Louzada re-upped with New Orleans on a multiyear contract.

Louzada has played in five games in his NBA career and has also spent time this season with the Pelicans’ G League affiliate in Birmingham.

Information from ESPN’s Andrew Lopez was used in this report

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Dallas Mavericks to retire Dirk Nowitzki’s No. 41 on Jan. 5

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DALLAS — The Mavericks are retiring Dirk Nowitzki’s No. 41 when Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors visit in January.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver is expected to attend the Jan. 5 ceremony honoring the only player in league history to play 21 seasons with the same team. The ceremony will be held after the game.

The 43-year-old Nowitzki is the franchise leader in points, games, starts, minutes, rebounds, 3-pointers, free throws and blocks. The 14-time All-Star is the highest-scoring foreign-born player in NBA history. Nowitzki is sixth on the all-time list with 31,560 points.

Nowitzki retired at age 40 in 2019, eight years after leading Dallas to the only championship in franchise history. Jason Kidd, the point guard on that team, is now coach of the Mavericks.

Three other Dallas players have had their numbers retired, all of them guards in Brad Davis (10), Rolando Blackman (22) and Derek Harper (12).

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