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Back from China, Nets steer clear of controversy in remarks

Wed Oct 16 6:47pm ET
By BRIAN MAHONEY
AP Basketball Writer

Players: LeBron James, Joe Harris, Kyrie Irving, Caris LeVert

NEW YORK (AP) The Brooklyn Nets played well and ate great on their trip to China.

That was the tenor of their comments Wednesday after their first practice back home, downplaying the impact the ongoing international tension between the NBA and China had on them.

The Nets steered clear of any statements like those of LeBron James that could have further inflamed the situation. Players say they were not rattled by the turbulence they faced during their two exhibition games against the Los Angeles Lakers last week, which came as the NBA dealt with the fallout from Rockets general manager Daryl Morey's now-deleted tweet in support of support for anti-government protesters in Hong Kong.

Joe Harris was just in China last month for the Basketball World Cup and said this trip wasn't much different.

''To be honest, you know there's a lot of stuff going on but the atmosphere was really very similar to what it was during the World Cup,'' Harris said. ''The fans were extremely passionate. They love the game. They still sold out both games, so take out everything that was actually going on it really felt like almost exactly the same.''

It was hard to ignore everything, with Chinese and NBA officials canceling events and news conferences, and advertising and local television coverage for the games in Shanghai and Shenzhen removed.

''At the end of the day we're human and we see those things, so we just tried to stick together as much as we could,'' guard Caris LeVert said.

The Nets who did speak to reporters - Kyrie Irving wasn't among them - said they hadn't seen Morey's tweet and couldn't recall when they learned of it. Both teams met with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver shortly after arriving, where Harris said the commissioner outlined what was happening.

''It's not like he was standing in front of everybody and making some, like, dramatic commentary,'' Harris said. ''He was basically describing what we already knew was going on.''

Irving spoke up in the meeting, but Harris said those remarks were not political but rather related mostly to basketball.

''It was more just focusing on trying to get ready for the games,'' Harris said.

Harris said one of his community events, a visit with children at a play area, still went on. So did the team functions planned by new owner Joe Tsai, the co-founder of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba.

Tsai posted a lengthy letter to fans on Facebook following Morey's tweet, which Harris said the owner encouraged the players to read. He was around the team during the week getting the know players and staff.

He made a good impression with his dinners, which Harris indicated were even better than Gregg Popovich's while playing for the U.S.

''I mean Pop had a lot of good dinners and stuff planned when we were out there too,'' Harris said, ''but I'd say Joe Tsai is probably a little more familiar with some of the dining establishments in Shanghai and Shenzhen.''

Player Notes
Lou Williams Nov 14 12:20am ET

Los Angeles Clippers guard Lou Williams eclipsed the 20-point barrier for the ninth time in 11 games this season. His final box score of 20 points, a season-high seven rebounds and four assists will be welcomed by all fantasy managers. One has to wonder how long this product can last, though, as Paul George is expected back as soon as Thursday night against the New Orleans Pelicans. Williams has been great through the first four weeks of the fantasy basketball season, but if another owner wants to buy him at his peak right now, Williams owners would be silly to not at least listen to the offer. Having two alpha dogs like Kawhi Leonard and George is sure to take a chunk out of Williams' workload. Basketball fans will hopefully be able to see Williams' new role as the Clippers close out Week 4 with games against the Pelicans and Atlanta Hawks.

Kawhi Leonard Nov 14 12:20am ET

For the third straight game and fourth time in the last five games, Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard posted a double-double. In Wednesday's loss to the Houston Rockets, Kawhi recorded 26 points, 12 rebounds, seven assists, one block and one steal in 41 minutes. Leonard is still waiting for his running mate Paul George to make his Clippers debut, but he has put up great numbers in his nine games so far this season. He is averaging 26.9 points, 8.5 rebounds, 5.9 assists and is shooting 44.4% from the field to get the Clippers off to a 7-4 start. Load-management issues may prevent Kawhi from playing on Thursday night in New Orleans, so managers should keep their eyes glued to the RotoBaller injury news before Thursday's game.

Clint Capela Nov 14 12:10am ET

Houston Rockets center Clint Capela recorded 12 points and 20 rebounds in the win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday night. Capela grabbed 20 rebounds for the third straight game and became the first Rocket to achieve that statistical feat since Moses Malone in 1982. Capela left the game in the fourth quarter after getting hit in the face to end his night at "only" 20 rebounds. The Swiss big man is now averaging 11.8 points and 13.3 rebounds in November as he recovers from a slow start this season. Fantasy managers should keep their ear to the ground or their eyes on their social media feed to determine Capela's status heading into a matchup against the Indiana Pacers on Friday night.

Russell Westbrook Nov 14 12:10am ET

Houston Rockets guard Russell Westbrook committed four fouls in the first quarter and could not find a rhythm the entire night in a 102-93 win over the Los Angeles Clippers. Westbrook had season-lows with two rebounds and two assists and needed 20 shots to get his 17 points. It was a forgettable night for the new Rocket, who is clearly still adjusting to his new role as the second offensive option in the Houston offense. His November numbers have dipped from his frantic October pace, but Westbrook is still very valuable in fantasy. Westbrook and the Rockets take on the Indiana Pacers on Friday, but that will not be an easy game to get his statistics back on track. The Pacers are the toughest team in the NBA against opposing point guards.

James Harden Nov 14 12:10am ET

Houston Rockets guard James Harden scored at least 40 points for the fifth time this season as the Rockets took down the Los Angeles Clippers 102-93 on Wednesday night. Harden had one of his best shooting nights of the season against the Clippers, as he was 7-for-13 from three-point land. His 47 points, seven assists, six rebounds and three steals helped Houston to their fifth straight win. Harden leads the NBA in scoring and is in the top 10 in assists per game. The addition of Russell Westbrook has not hindered his scoring at all, and fantasy managers can rejoice in the fact that he is just repeating his ridiculous 2018-19 performance. Harden closes out Week 4 with matchups against the best team in the NBA versus point guards in Indiana, and a bottom-seven team against point guards in Minnesota.

Jaren Jackson Jr. Nov 13 11:00pm ET

Memphis Grizzlies power forward Jaren Jackson Jr. had another solid showing, and this time it was versus the Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday. This was Jackson's fourth straight contest shooting above 50 percent from the floor. Jackson scored 16 points, going 5-for-9 from the field, with four of those made buckets coming from three-point territory. Next up for Triple-J and the Memphis Grizzlies are the Utah Jazz on Friday. The Jazz give up the second-fewest points per game, so expect Jackson to come back down to earth.

Ja Morant Nov 13 11:00pm ET

Memphis Grizzlies point guard JA Morant made the contested layup to clinch the win Wednesday against the Charlotte Hornets. Morant went 10-for-15 from the floor to record his 23 points. That wasn't all for the talented rookie, as Morant also had 11 assists. Fantasy owners will have to be patient with Morant, as his production can be very volatile from game to game. In the two previous contests, Morant shot worse than 25 percent from the field. For the season things do look bright, as Morant is averaging 18.3 points and 5.8 assists while shooting 48.2 percent from the floor. DFS players may want to avoid Morant, but in season-long leagues, the future is very bright for the Grizzlies point guard.

Jonas Valanciunas Nov 13 11:00pm ET

Memphis Grizzlies center Jonas Valanciunas had a strong showing Wednesday versus the Charlotte Hornets. Valanciunas had 18 points and 13 boards, shooting 9-for-14 from the field. The ascension of the younger players for the Grizzlies means fewer opportunities for Valanciunas, who is averaging 12.8 points and 9.5 rebounds a game -- both numbers are his lowest since 2016-2017. The next opponent for the Grizzlies and Valanciunas are the Utah Jazz on Friday. The Jazz will mainly have defensive superstarRudy Gobert defending Valanciunas, so expect the Grizzlies center to struggle on Friday.

Terry Rozier Nov 13 10:50pm ET

Charlotte Hornets point guard Terry Rozier had a stellar showing, scoring 33 points on 13-for-21 shooting, versus the Memphis Grizzlies Wednesday. In addition to Scary Terry's scoring production, he also had six assists and five boards. This was only the second contest this season where Rozier shot above 50 percent from the field. The Hornets and Rozier next take on the Detroit Pistons on Friday. The Pistons have the seventh-slowest pace of play in the NBA, so Rozier may not get nearly as many opportunities to produce as he did Wednesday.

Miles Bridges Nov 13 10:50pm ET

Charlotte Hornets small forward Miles Bridges had another decent outing Wednesday against the Memphis Grizzlies. Bridges contributed in a multitude of ways, tallying 14 points, seven boards and four rebounds. While not excelling at any one category, Bridges does give fantasy owners stats in a variety of areas, averaging 13.1 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists while shooting 47.5 percent from the field. The Hornets and Bridges face the Detroit Pistons next on Friday. The Pistons give up the 11th most points per game, so Bridges may be a decent DFS play.

Jeff Teague Nov 13 6:30pm ET

Minnesota Timberwolves point guard Jeff Teague (illness) is available to play Wednesday night against the San Antonio Spurs. Teague has been sidelined for four straight games with an illness, but finally feels good enough to take the floor. Jarrett Culver and Josh Okogie will take hits in value, but will likely still get decent playing time while Shabazz Napier (hamstring) remains hampered by injury.

Paul George Nov 13 6:30pm ET

Los Angeles Clippers forward Paul George (shoulder) will not make his season debut Wednesday against the Houston Rockets. However, coach Doc Rivers said Paul George "might play" Thursday against the New Orleans Pelicans. Either way, George is nearing a return from shoulder surgery which should excite fantasy owners everywhere. Once George returns, Patrick Patterson will move to the bench and lose most, if not all, fantasy value. Kawhi Leonard might see a slight dip in usage, but it should not affect his overall production too much.

Robert Williams Nov 13 5:50pm ET

Boston Celtics centers Robert Williams (ankle) and Daniel Theis (finger) have been ruled out for Wednesday's game against the Washington Wizards. Both players are dealing with lingering injuries, so they will sit out. Enes Kanter will see all the minutes he can handle and should be a reliable DFS option. Grant Williams and Vincent Poirier will jump into the rotation as well.

Dwayne Bacon Nov 13 5:50pm ET

Charlotte Hornets guard Dwayne Bacon (knee) is listed as doubtful for Wednesday's game against the Memphis Grizzlies. Bacon tweaked his right knee on Sunday and it swelled up on him. The Hornets are likely going to be cautious here and let Bacon rest on Wednesday. PJ Washington should get all the minutes he can handle, while Malik Monk will see more playing time off the bench.

Brandon Ingram Nov 13 5:40pm ET

New Orleans Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram (knee) has been listed as a game-time decision for Thursday's game against the Los Angeles Clippers. Ingram hyperextended his right knee during Saturday's game. He sat out on Monday because of it and is still clearly feeling the pain. Ingram was wearing a knee brace during Wednesday's practice, so fantasy owners should check back on Thursday for a better update.

Anthony Davis Nov 13 5:40pm ET

Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis (shoulder, ribs) has been ruled out for Wednesday's game against the Golden State Warriors. Davis has been dealing with a nagging shoulder issue all season, but suffered a ribs injury on Tuesday. The Lakers don't really need him against the banged up Warriors. Kyle Kuzma is expected to move into the starting lineup, so DFS may want to take a look at him.

Joel Embiid Nov 13 5:30pm ET

Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (rest) has been ruled out for Wednesday's game against the Orlando Magic. It's the first back-to-back set of the season for the Sixers and Embiid is sitting out. Let the headaches begin for fantasy owners. Furkan Korkmaz or Matisse Thybulle should draw the start on Wednesday. Ben Simmons, Tobias Harris, and Al Horford will be asked to do more without Embiid.

Lonzo Ball Nov 13 5:30pm ET

New Orleans Pelicans guard Lonzo Ball (groin) has been ruled out for Thursday's game against the Los Angeles Clippers. This marks the third game in a row that Ball has missed due to a groin issue. Josh Hart and Kenrich Williams will see more playing time, while Jrue Holiday will be asked to do more on offense.

Tyler Herro Nov 13 5:20pm ET

Miami Heat guard Tyler Herro (ankle) is listed as questionable for Thursday's game against the Cleveland Cavaliers. He missed Tuesday's game due to an ankle issue and could very well sit out again. Goran Dragic (illness) is questionable as well, so Kendrick Nunn could be looking at big minutes. He'd be a strong fantasy option without Dragic or Herro available. Fantasy owners should check back for another update after shootaround on Thursday.

Goran Dragic Nov 13 5:10pm ET

Miami Heat guard Goran Dragic (illness) is listed as questionable for Thursday's game against the Cleveland Cavaliers. He hasn't missed a game this season, and the Heat will need him with Justise Winslow (head) already ruled out. Fantasy owners will have a better idea about his status after shootaround on Thursday. Kendrick Nunn would be a decent streaming option without Dragic available.