Celtics, Zion remain sizzling to start preseason

Boston Celtics' Tacko Fall (99) and Cleveland Cavaliers' Marques Bolden, right, battle for a rebound during the second half of an NBA preseason basketball game in Boston. (AP)
Updated 15 October 2019

Celtics, Zion remain sizzling to start preseason

  • The Celtics are 3-0 after beating Cleveland on Sunday — and have put together a huge run in all three of those games

NEW YORK: Preseason numbers often mean almost nothing. Rotations are unusual, starters rarely play much, and few if any teams are putting a premium on winning games.

As such, it’s tough to glean much from exhibition stats.

But what the Boston Celtics and New Orleans rookie Zion Williamson — the No. 1 pick in this year’s draft — have been doing so far in the preseason certainly
stands out.

The Celtics are 3-0 after beating Cleveland on Sunday — and have put together a huge run in all three of those games. The latest was a 50-17 spurt against the Cavaliers, a game that was close for most of the first quarter before Boston built what eventually became a
54-point lead.

Boston’s other big runs of note in this preseason were a 41-17 stretch last Sunday against Charlotte, and opening the game with a 29-4 burst at Orlando on Friday. On top of the 50-17 run against the Cavs, they added a 26-8 run in the fourth quarter as well.

No matter who the Celtics have on the court, defense has been the constant. Boston is holding opponents to 36.5 percent shooting through the first three exhibitions, 25.7 percent from 3-point range.

“That’s a tied-together group on that end of the court,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said.

And while 7-foot-6 center Tacko Fall has quickly become a fan favorite in Boston — yes, Stevens is aware of the chants where fans are clamoring for him to play more — the numbers are worth noting
as well.

“Everyone is flying under the radar,” Stevens said Sunday. “Except Tacko.”

When it comes to New Orleans, Williamson isn't flying
under anything.

Flying over things is more like it.

The Pelicans are 4-0 in the preseason after winning in San Antonio on Sunday, with Williamson finishing with 22 points and 10 rebounds. He's shot 29 for 36 from the floor in his last three games, and is averaging 23.3 points and 6.5 rebounds on 71 percent shooting — all in about 27 minutes per game.

Celtics 118 Cavaliers 72

Max Strus scored 14 points and Boston finished with six players in double figures. Kemba Walker returned from a one-game absence with knee soreness and scored 12 points in 15 ½ minutes, going 3 for 3 from 3-point range. The Celtics held the Cavaliers to 33 percent shooting, 18 percent on 3-point tries, and forced 29 turnovers.

Sindarius Thornwell scored 12 for Cleveland, which played without Kevin Love (rest) and Tristan Thompson (right groin soreness). Cavs starters Collin Sexton, Matthew Dellavedova and Cedi Osman combined to shoot 3 for 24 and score eight points in 67 minutes.

Pelicans 123 Spurs 114

Williamson's 22 points led seven New Orleans players in double figures on the way to beating San Antonio.

Jrue Holiday scored 16 for the Pelicans, who overcame a 17-point deficit.

Bryn Forbes scored 18 and DeMar DeRozan added 16 for the Spurs, who held out LaMarcus Aldridge and Rudy Gay. The Pelicans gave J.J. Redick the day off for rest.

Clippers 118 Melbourne United 100

Kawhi Leonard and Rodney McGruder sat out for the Los Angeles Clippers, who got 22 points from Montrezl Harrell and 16 points from Lou Williams.

The Clippers trailed by as many as 11 in the early going and were down to the Australian club 51-47 at the half, then won the third quarter 43-20 — shooting 16 for 20 in the period — to take control.

Melo Trimble led Melbourne United with 22 points.

Bucks 115 Wizards 108 

Khris Middleton had 22 points and nine rebounds while Sterling Brown and Ersan Ilyasova scored 18 points apiece for Milwaukee.

Reigning league MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo (illness) did not play for the Bucks (4-0).

Bradley Beal led Washington (2-2) with 20 points, Thomas Bryant scored 17 and Rui Hachimura, the No. 9 overall pick in June's draft, added 10 points, 12 rebounds and three steals.

Chinese basketball to resume on June 20 after coronavirus

Updated 04 June 2020

Chinese basketball to resume on June 20 after coronavirus

  • China’s first major sports league to return to action after the coronavirus

SHANGHAI: The Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) season will resume on June 20, the CBA said on Thursday, becoming the country’s first major sports league to return to action after the coronavirus.
The campaign was halted in February but will return after the number of infections dropped markedly in China, where the pandemic emerged at the end of last year.
The resumption of the CBA puts pressure on football — the other leading sport in China — to similarly get going again after a months-long indefinite postponement.
“With the approval of the sports and health department, CBA league will resume on June 20 and all preparations have entered a substantive stage,” the CBA said on the Twitter-like Weibo.
Defending champions Guangdong ranked first in the league after 30 matches, before the CBA announced in late January that the competition would be suspended from February 1.
Earlier this week, former NBA star Jeremy Lin, now with the Beijing Ducks, said players and fans wanted basketball back as soon as possible.
“We don’t care whether the games are played in empty arenas or under a championship-like competition system,” Lin said.
“We just want to play and let fans see the games on TV or the Internet.”