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Magic’s 2nd-half comeback attempt falls short at home vs. Bulls

Magic’s 2nd-half comeback attempt falls short at home vs. Bulls

29/01/2023, USA, Basketball, NBA (Basketball), Article # 31018361

For most of Saturday, the Orlando Magic’s 128-109 home loss to the Chicago Bulls looked like it was going to go how most of their games on the second night of a back-to-back have gone.

The defensive intensity was lacking early. Their 3-point shots weren’t falling.

The Bulls took advantage of the Magic’s lackluster play, holding leads of 25-19 at the end of the first quarter, 60-47 at halftime and 89-64 with 3:27 left in the third quarter.

“Us trying to go shot for shot, that’s what started the momentum,” coach Jamahl Mosley said. “Back-to-backs are difficult. It forces you to give in sometimes. That’s what we started out doing trying to give in to the easy shot exchange.”

The Magic appeared to have lacked answers to the problems Chicago was causing — until their second unit found some solutions.

The bench unit of Cole Anthony, Jalen Suggs (11 points, 5 assists, 4 rebounds), Admiral Schofield, Bol Bol and Moe Wagner found the two-way play the Magic lacked for most of the game.

They got the stops needed to cut the deficit to 95-81 at the end of the third.

Wagner (team-high 27 points) scored 16 straight points during the second half, cutting the deficit to 98-86 with 11:19 remaining.

Anthony (21 points, 6 assists and 6 rebounds in 30 minutes off the bench) had back-to-back buckets to trim the deficit to 98-90 with 10:22 left — the first time the deficit was single digits since midway through the second quarter.

The Magic stuck with the Bulls for most of the fourth despite the shotmaking from Zach LaVine (32 points), DeMar DeRozan (32 points, 8 assists) and Nikola Vučević (26 points, 13 rebounds and 6 assists). Anthony made a 3 to cut the deficit to 111-106 with 4:28 remaining.

They didn’t get any closer, with the Bulls (23-26) holding off the Magic (19-31) at Amway Center to give Orlando a second consecutive loss.

“If we’re going to be the team we want to become,” Moslet said. “we’re going to have to hang our hat on the defensive side of the floor regardless of if shots are going in or not.”

The lineup of Anthony, Suggs, Bol, Schofield and Wagner played the final 14:49.

“That second unit did an unbelievable job of getting us back in it,” Mosley said. “Their resiliency, their fight, their togetherness, they shared and moved the ball. They made shots but it was more that they hunkered down and tried to get stops in order to get out on the break and run.”

Every starter had an individual plus/minus of at least minus 14. Mosley said he knew he was going to stick with the second unit when Wagner cut the deficit to 109-101 after making a pair of free throws with 5:35 remaining.

“That group had a level of intensity about them,” Mosley said. “They had a resolve about them. They had the momentum going and we wanted to stick with that group [at] that moment.”

The Magic had lost 110-105 Friday at Miami.

They didn’t need a lot of time to dissect what the problems were in that.

“The turnovers,” Mosley said pregame, “some of them were unforced. The ones that led to the breakout easy baskets for them are ones that hurt.”

The Magic’s 20 turnovers led to 32 Heat points and were their most giveaways since their Nov. 14 loss to the Charlotte Hornets.

Ball retention was an issue for the Magic earlier in the season but not recently.

They had the league’s second-worst turnover frequency (16.8%) through their first 24 games but had improved significantly. Their turnover frequency of 13.9% was the league’s 16th-best mark — middle of the pack — in their 24 games ahead of Friday.

This gives credence to the idea that Friday was simply an off night against a Heat squad that’s one of the better teams at forcing giveaways.

That appeared to be the case, with the Magic turning over the ball just 13 times Saturday, but it didn’t help them get over the hump and overcome the early defensive issues.

“In general, it’s less an Xs-and-Os thing,” Wagner said. “It’s an energy thing. We know we’re capable. We were just flat. Part of that was putting our heads down too quickly and kind of letting go [of] a little bit of our focus. We’ve got to get better at that.”

Jonathan Isaac was available against the Bulls after sitting out against the Heat because of left knee injury management.

He finished with 5 points (2-of-7 shooting) and 4 rebounds in 9 minutes.

Isaac played his first NBA game in over 2½ years in Monday’s win over the Boston Celtics, recording 10 points (4-for-7 shooting, 2 of 3 on 3-pointers), 3 rebounds, 2 steals and 1 assist in 10 minutes.

He had 5 points (2-for-4 shooting, 1 of 2 on 3s), 2 assists and 2 steals in 8 minutes in Wednesday’s win over the Indiana Pacers.

The Magic start a four-game road trip with matchups at the 76ers Monday and Wednesday.

This article first appeared on OrlandoSentinel.com. Email Khobi Price at khprice@orlandosentinel.com or follow him on Twitter at @khobi_price.

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https://www.denverpost.com/2023/01/28/magics-2nd-half-comeback-attempt-falls-short-at-home-vs-bulls/
Magic’s second-half comeback attempt falls short against Bulls

Magic’s second-half comeback attempt falls short against Bulls

29/01/2023, USA, Basketball, NBA (Basketball), Article # 31018306

For most of Saturday, the Orlando Magic’s 128-109 home loss to the Chicago Bulls looked like it was going to go how most of their games on the second night of a back-to-back have gone.

The defensive intensity was lacking early. Their 3-point shots weren’t falling.

The Bulls took advantage of the Magic’s lackluster play, holding leads of 25-19 at the end of the first, 60-47 at halftime and 89-64 with 3:27 in the third quarter.

The Magic appeared to have lacked answers to the problems the Bulls were causing — until their second unit found them.

The bench unit of Cole Anthony, Jalen Suggs (11 points, 5 assists, 4 rebounds), Admiral Schofield, Bol Bol and Moe Wagner found the two-way play the Magic lacked for most of the game.

They got the stops needed to cut the deficit to 95-81 at the end of the third.

Wagner (team-high 27 points) scored 16 straight points tonight during the second half, cutting the deficit to 98-86 with 11:19 remaining.

Anthony (21 points, 6 assists and 6 rebounds in 30 minutes off the bench) had back-to-back buckets to trim the deficit to 98-90 with 10:22 left — the first time the deficit was single digits since midway through the second quarter.

The Magic stuck with the Bulls for most of the fourth despite the shotmaking from Zach LaVine (32 points), DeMar DeRozan (32 points, 8 assists) and Nikola Vučević (26 points, 13 rebounds and 6 assists). Anthony made a 3 to cut the deficit to 111-106 with 4:28 remaining.

They didn’t get any closer, with the Bulls (23-26) holding off the Magic (19-31) at Amway Center to give Orlando the defeat on the second night of the back-to-back.

The lineup of Anthony, Suggs, Bol, Schofield and Wagner played the final 14:49.

The Magic fell to the Heat 110-105 Friday loss at Miami.

They didn’t need a lot of time to dissect what the problems were in that.

“The turnovers,” coach Jamahl Mosley said pregame ahead of the matchup against the Bulls, “some of them were unforced. The ones that led to the breakout easy baskets for them are ones that hurt.”

The Magic’s 20 turnovers led to 32 Heat points and were their most giveaways since their Nov. 14 loss to the Charlotte Hornets.

Ball retention was an issue for the Magic earlier in the season but not recently.

They had the league’s second-worst turnover frequency (16.8%) through their first 24 games but had improved significantly. Their turnover frequency of 13.9% was the league’s 16th-best mark — middle of the pack — in their 24 games ahead of Friday.

This gives credence to the idea that Friday was simply an off night against a Heat squad that’s one of the better teams at forcing giveaways.

That appeared to be the case, with the Magic only turning the ball over 13 times Saturday.

“We’re constantly teaching,” Mosley said. “In wins and losses, you’re going to find something you can constantly improve on.”

Jonathan Isaac was available against the Bulls after sitting against the Heat because of left knee injury management.

He finished with 5 points (2-of-7 shooting) and 4 rebounds in 9 minutes.

Isaac played his first NBA game in over 2½ years in Monday’s win over the Boston Celtics, recording 10 points (4-for-7 shooting, 2 of 3 on 3-pointers), 3 rebounds, 2 steals and 1 assist in 10 minutes.

He had 5 points (2-for-4 shooting, 1 of 2 on 3s), 2 assists and 2 steals in 8 minutes in Wednesday’s win over the Indiana Pacers.

The Magic started a four-game road trip Monday with a matchup against the 76ers in Philadelphia.

This article first appeared on OrlandoSentinel.com. Email Khobi Price at khprice@orlandosentinel.com or follow him on Twitter at @khobi_price.

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https://www.denverpost.com/2023/01/28/magics-second-half-comeback-attempt-falls-short-against-bulls/
Nets win 9th straight against Knicks in battle of New York

Nets win 9th straight against Knicks in battle of New York

29/01/2023, USA, Basketball, NBA (Basketball), Article # 31018307

It can’t be a rivalry if the results are this lopsided.

Even if the Knicks and Nets wanted to feed into the cross-bridge rivalry narrative — which they don’t — the numbers lean too drastically in Brooklyn’s favor.

Sunday’s 122-115 victory marked the Nets’ ninth straight victory over their nearby opponent. The Knicks have not beaten the Nets in the Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving era. That did not change with Durant watching Saturday’s showdown from the sidelines nursing an MCL sprain in his right knee. Ben Simmons also missed Saturday’s game with soreness in his left knee.

“I think what makes it a competitive atmosphere is you have two New York teams,” Vaughn said ahead of tip-off against the Knicks on Saturday. “We’re always jockeying for new fans, old fans, the attention, big city — but I think it needs to grow some more by having some more meaningful games before it gets to (a rivalry).

The NBA deemed the week of Jan. 21-28 as a league-wide rivalry week. The Nets played the Philadelphia 76ers in a game with playoff implications given the proximity of the Nets and Sixers in the Eastern Conference standings.

The breadcrumbs, of course, suggest the rivalry is deeper than just their record or the two cities’ proximity to each other: The Sixers traded Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, Andre Drummond and two first-round picks to the Nets for James Harden last season. Both Harden and Simmons wanted out of their respective cities, with Simmons enduring a particularly toxic departure from Philadelphia.

Yet Durant maintained there’s no rivalry between Philly and Brooklyn, that rivalries are scarce in the NBA because teams typically don’t play enough meaningful games to create legitimate tension.

Vaughn offered a similar view when discussing the relationship with the Knicks. He leaned on his experience as point guard for the Kansas Jayhawks to give some perspective.

“Kansas-Missouri used to be a rivalry. North Carolina and Duke. Those are rivalries where you’ve played so many games and you’ve established a rapport that probably isn’t likable amongst the two teams for a long time, maybe even generations,” Vaughn said. “That would be my immediate reflection of what a rivalry is. But free agency and movement, you can try to navigate and create a rivalry, but until you have a history of playing each other, I don’t think it really exists.”

Vaughn said Celtics-Lakers remains one of the NBA’s only legitimate rivalries.

“I can remember that as a kid. That’s a rivalry. That’s generational,” he said. “I grew up: Sundays, going to church, couldn’t wait until I got back home to see the Lakers play Boston. That’s a rivalry that I still remember to this day that still exists. It’s history.”

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https://www.denverpost.com/2023/01/28/nets-win-9th-straight-against-knicks-in-battle-of-new-york/
Kyrie Irving scores 31 to lead Nets past Knicks as crosstown bullying continues

Kyrie Irving scores 31 to lead Nets past Knicks as crosstown bullying continues

29/01/2023, USA, Basketball, NBA (Basketball), Article # 31018308

Kyrie Irving’s tenure in Brooklyn has been a series of controversies and aggravations. But he can claim one very positive distinction, which is especially important to Nets fans:

Utter domination of the New York Knicks.

Irving beat the Knicks again Saturday in Barclays Center, dropping 21 of his 32 points in the fourth quarter — including a pair of dagger 3s — sending swaths of unhappy fans in orange and blue attire to the exits.

“I love beating the Knicks and playing against them,” Irving said.

The Knicks (27-24) dropped their ninth straight to the crosstown rivals, although ‘rivalry’ doesn’t really apply to this matchup. It’s more of a bullying situation at this point. Dating back to his career with the Cavs, Irving has won 16 of his last 18 matchups against the Knicks.

He was unguardable Saturday down the stretch, picking up the slack with Kevin Durant out.

“We were running defenders at him,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said. “It’s who he is. He’s not going to stop moving, either.”

The Knicks were forced to play catch-up after an uninspiring start, with Thibodeau acknowledging that Ben Simmons being unavailable (knee soreness) threw the game plan off kilter. In other words, the Nets replaced a non-shooter (Simmons) with a shooter (Seth Curry). Then they buried a ridiculous 55% of their 40 3-point attempts.

“I thought offensively we were fine but we got in a hole early and we didn’t cover the line as well as we could have or should have,” Thibodeau said. “I don’t know if we weren’t quite ready. There were a lot of moving parts because we didn’t know who was in or out.

“So we knew the personnel would change and we would change who was on the floor with different groupings. And the way Curry has been playing and, of course, Irving puts so much pressure on you we thought the 3 would be something we had to be aware of and we got hurt by it.”

The Barclays Center crowd included the elites of their fields, Mariano Rivera and Mike Krzyzewski. It didn’t include Knicks owner James Dolan, who revealed he’s never been to the arena across the Manhattan Bridge because he wouldn’t feel comfortable.

His team isn’t very comfortable, either. The Knicks have just one victory in Brooklyn in five years.

“We weren’t good,” said Julius Randle. “Closing out, sense of urgency, none of that. We have to be better.”

For the Knicks, Brunson scored 26 and Barrett added 24. But the problem was defense. Coming off consecutive victories against Eastern Conference elites Boston and Cleveland, the Knicks laid a dud in their first game on ABC.

And Irving was their biggest problem.

”I don’t really know what you’re supposed to do,” Barrett said. “I mean, Quentin [Grimes] was playing great defense. It’s Kyrie Irving, man. He’s gonna make those shots. We had to try to get the ball out of his hands as much as we can, but it wasn’t like he was getting easy layups or anything. He really made some tough shots. So, tip your hat off to him.”

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https://www.denverpost.com/2023/01/28/kyrie-irving-scores-31-to-lead-nets-past-knicks-as-crosstown-bullying-continues/
Candace Parker is signing with the Las Vegas Aces, ending a memorable 2-year run with her hometown C

Candace Parker chose to leave the Chicago Sky for the same reason she joined the team in 2021 — to go home.

The Naperville native and two-time WNBA champion on Saturday announced her decision to sign with the Las Vegas Aces as a free agent. In an Instagram post, she cited her family as her primary decision for returning closer to the West Coast.

“My family is my reason and my purpose,” Parker, 36, wrote. “They have given me the greatest joys I’ve ever experienced and continue to show me new levels of love and devotion I never knew existed. … While Chicago will always be my home, my family’s home is on the west coast.”

Parker will sign a one-year contract with the Aces when free agents are cleared to sign beginning Wednesday, according to ESPN.

When Parker came home to Chicago in 2021 after spending the first 13 seasons of her career with the Los Angeles Sparks, she unlocked the final piece of a championship-seeking puzzle alongside stars Courtney Vandersloot, Allie Quigley and Kahleah Copper. After leading an unlikely 16-16 team to a WNBA title in 2021, Parker returned to cement a franchise-record 26-win season in 2022.

Parker wowed her hometown crowd, earning back-to-back All-Star appearances in her two seasons with the Sky. She is a seven-time All-Star and two-time WNBA MVP.

“When I made the decision to go to Chicago in 2021, I made the decision to go home and be with my family in the place where it all began,” Parker wrote. “I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to win a championship in my hometown and parade down the same streets I watched the Bulls parade down as a young girl first falling in love with the game of basketball.”

Although Parker achieved her ultimate goal in Chicago, her homecoming also came with sacrifice. Her 13-year-old daughter, Lailaa, and 1-year-old son, Airr, live with her wife, former Russian player Anna Petrakova, full time in Los Angeles. Lailaa will start high school in California this fall, a turning point that Parker said she couldn’t allow herself to miss.

Parker cited the distance — and a refusal to miss her daughter’s volleyball games, school dances and other irreplaceable moments — as the catalyst for her decision to sign with the Aces.

Parker will join an Aces team facing scrutiny after the team was put under investigation by the WNBA Players Association following accusations of discrimination by former forward Dearica Hamby.

After being traded to the Sparks last week, Hamby posted on Instagram that she accused members of the Aces front office and coaching staff of bullying, intimidation and discrimination following her second pregnancy.

“Being traded is a part of the business,” Hamby wrote. “Being lied to, bullied, manipulated, and discriminated against is not. I have had my character and work ethic attacked. … The unprofessional and unethical way that I have been treated has been traumatizing. To be treated this way by an organization, BY WOMEN who are mothers, who have claimed to ‘be in these shoes,’ who preach family, chemistry, and women’s empowerment is disappointing and leaves me sick to my stomach.

“We fought for provisions that would finally support and protect player parents. This cannot now be used against me.”

According to a Chicago Sun-Times report , Parker’s meeting with the Aces took place the day after Hamby’s post.

While details of the deal are unknow, the maximum contract Parker could sign with the Aces would be just more than $183,000. The Aces would need to trade a bench player to free additional salary-cap space. Parker’s income through her WNBA salary is supplemented by sponsorship arrangements with Adidas and her broadcasting role with TNT, which might have been a factor in accepting the reduced salary.

The Sky, meanwhile, now face a challenging free-agency period that could decimate a roster coming off the winningest season in franchise history. As a free agent, longtime captain Courtney Vandersloot has been tied to both the Seattle Storm and New York Liberty. Her wife and co-captain, Allie Quigley, has been rumored to be mulling retirement since she elected not to play abroad during the WNBA offseason for the first time in her career.

Center Emma Meesseman and backup guard Julie Allemand are also uncertain to re-sign with the Sky while Azurá Stevens continues to garner interest throughout the league as a versatile stretch big. The loss of Parker leaves a gaping hole in the frontcourt, making the Sky’s negotiations with Stevens a priority.

“Candace has done so much for our franchise in her time here,” Sky coach/general manager James Wade said in a statement. “I understand her reasons for wanting to be closer with her immediate family. We wish her nothing but the best. She will always be a part of the Sky family. We will celebrate her time here as she deserves.”

For Chicago, Parker’s two years symbolized the realization of a decadeslong battle for a foothold in the WNBA.

The team fielded generational players — Vandersloot, Quigley, Copper, Elena Delle Donne, Sylvia Fowles — and flirted with playoff runs. But before Parker’s arrival, the Sky never fulfilled their potential.

To achieve the milestones the last two seasons with one of Chicago’s own only added to the poignancy of Parker’s run here.

“I’m forever appreciative of everyone in Chicago — our fans, teammates, coaches, and ownership,” Parker wrote. “But more than the past two seasons, I’m thankful to the city that raised me, the childhood friends I still have to this day, the teachers I still am learning from, and the moments in time that will forever be in my heart.”

Chicago Tribune reporter Shakeia Taylor contributed.

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https://www.denverpost.com/2023/01/28/candace-parker-is-signing-with-the-las-vegas-aces-ending-a-memorable-2-year-run-with-her-hometown-chicago-sky/
Lonzo Ball ‘nowhere near playing’ ― and the Chicago Bulls target the All-Star break for a disc

The Chicago Bulls are creeping closer to shutting down point guard Lonzo Ball for a second straight season.

Ball hasn’t played for the Bulls since Jan. 14, 2022, when a small tear in the MCL in his right knee spiraled into an increasingly confounding injury requiring two surgical procedures and continuing to cause him pain.

Although the Bulls haven’t set a firm cutoff date for Ball to return this season, they are facing a rapidly shortening runway. If Ball can’t make a drastic improvement in the next three weeks ahead of the All-Star break, coach Billy Donovan said the Bulls likely will sit down for a formal discussion on Ball’s season — and his future.

“If you start to get to that point, I think there will probably end up being some conversations: ‘OK, what if he’s still not close to playing? What’s the plan going forward?’ ” Donovan said Saturday before the finale of a three-game trip against the Orlando Magic.

Ball still isn’t running at full speed. He can’t scrimmage or play basketball. Although he has made marginal improvements — lightly jumping to shoot and dunk the ball, jogging on a treadmill — none is enough to signal that Ball will be cleared in the coming weeks for sprinting or other high-intensity drills. And until he can sprint at full speed for multiple days in a row without a setback, Ball can’t be cleared for contact drills, scrimmaging or getting back onto an NBA court.

There are only seven weeks between the All-Star break and the end of the regular season. Even if Ball is cleared to begin running in February, it’s uncertain how he could be ramped up in time to play meaningful minutes by the end of the season.

“He’s made some progress, but I’d be the first one to tell you he’s nowhere near playing,” Donovan said. “He’s just not. Because he’s not running on a consistent basis. When he can get to that place where he can do that consistently and be able to come back the next day and do it again, do it again and do it again — I think you’ll feel a little bit more optimistic.”

Until then, Ball has no clear timeline for when — or if — he’ll put on a Bulls jersey in 2023.

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https://www.denverpost.com/2023/01/28/lonzo-ball-nowhere-near-playing-and-the-chicago-bulls-target-the-all-star-break-for-a-discussion-on-shutting-down-his-season/
Nets win 9th straight against Knicks in battle of New York

Nets win 9th straight against Knicks in battle of New York

29/01/2023, USA, Basketball, NBA (Basketball), Article # 31018209

It can’t be a rivalry if the results are this lopsided.

Even if the Knicks and Nets wanted to feed into the cross-bridge rivalry narrative — which they don’t — the numbers lean too drastically in Brooklyn’s favor.

Sunday’s 122-115 victory marked the Nets’ ninth straight victory over their nearby opponent. The Knicks have not beaten the Nets in the Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving era. That did not change with Durant watching Sunday’s showdown from the sidelines nursing an MCL sprain in his right knee. Ben Simmons also missed Sunday’s game with soreness in his left knee.

“I think what makes it a competitive atmosphere is you have two New York teams,” Vaughn said ahead of tip-off against the Knicks on Saturday. “We’re always jockeying for new fans, old fans, the attention, big city — but I think it needs to grow some more by having some more meaningful games before it gets to (a rivalry).

The NBA deemed the week of Jan. 21-28 as a league-wide rivalry week. The Nets played the Philadelphia 76ers in a game with playoff implications given the proximity of the Nets and Sixers in the Eastern Conference standings.

The breadcrumbs, of course, suggest the rivalry is deeper than just their record or the two cities’ proximity to each other: The Sixers traded Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, Andre Drummond and two first-round picks to the Nets for James Harden last season. Both Harden and Simmons wanted out of their respective cities, with Simmons enduring a particularly toxic departure from Philadelphia.

Yet Durant maintained there’s no rivalry between Philly and Brooklyn, that rivalries are scarce in the NBA because teams typically don’t play enough meaningful games to create legitimate tension.

Vaughn offered a similar view when discussing the relationship with the Knicks. He leaned on his experience as point guard for the Kansas Jayhawks to give some perspective.

“Kansas-Missouri used to be a rivalry. North Carolina and Duke. Those are rivalries where you’ve played so many games and you’ve established a rapport that probably isn’t likable amongst the two teams for a long time, maybe even generations,” Vaughn said. “That would be my immediate reflection of what a rivalry is. But free agency and movement, you can try to navigate and create a rivalry, but until you have a history of playing each other, I don’t think it really exists.”

Vaughn said Celtics-Lakers remains one of the NBA’s only legitimate rivalries.

“I can remember that as a kid. That’s a rivalry. That’s generational,” he said. “I grew up: Sundays, going to church, couldn’t wait until I got back home to see the Lakers play Boston. That’s a rivalry that I still remember to this day that still exists. It’s history.”

()



https://www.denverpost.com/2023/01/28/nets-win-9th-straight-against-knicks-in-battle-of-new-york/
Candace Parker is signing with the Las Vegas Aces, ending a memorable 2-year run with her hometown C

Candace Parker chose to leave the Chicago Sky for the same reason she joined the team in 2021 — to go home.

The Naperville native and two-time WNBA champion on Saturday announced her decision to sign with the Las Vegas Aces as a free agent. In an Instagram post, she cited her family as her primary decision for returning closer to the West Coast.

“My family is my reason and my purpose,” Parker, 36, wrote. “They have given me the greatest joys I’ve ever experienced and continue to show me new levels of love and devotion I never knew existed. … While Chicago will always be my home, my family’s home is on the west coast.”

Parker will sign a one-year contract with the Aces when free agents are cleared to sign beginning Wednesday, according to ESPN.

When Parker came home to Chicago in 2021 after spending the first 13 seasons of her career with the Los Angeles Sparks, she unlocked the final piece of a championship-seeking puzzle alongside stars Courtney Vandersloot, Allie Quigley and Kahleah Copper. After leading an unlikely 16-16 team to a WNBA title in 2021, Parker returned to cement a franchise-record 26-win season in 2022.

Parker wowed her hometown crowd, earning back-to-back All-Star appearances in her two seasons with the Sky. She is a seven-time All-Star and two-time WNBA MVP.

“When I made the decision to go to Chicago in 2021, I made the decision to go home and be with my family in the place where it all began,” Parker wrote. “I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to win a championship in my hometown and parade down the same streets I watched the Bulls parade down as a young girl first falling in love with the game of basketball.”

Although Parker achieved her ultimate goal in Chicago, her homecoming also came with sacrifice. Her 13-year-old daughter, Lailaa, and 1-year-old son, Airr, live with her wife, former Russian player Anna Petrakova, full time in Los Angeles. Lailaa will start high school in California this fall, a turning point that Parker said she couldn’t allow herself to miss.

Parker cited the distance — and a refusal to miss her daughter’s volleyball games, school dances and other irreplaceable moments — as the catalyst for her decision to sign with the Aces.

Parker will join an Aces team facing scrutiny after the team was put under investigation by the WNBA Players Association following accusations of discrimination by former forward Dearica Hamby.

After being traded to the Sparks last week, Hamby posted on Instagram that she accused members of the Aces front office and coaching staff of bullying, intimidation and discrimination following her second pregnancy.

“Being traded is a part of the business,” Hamby wrote. “Being lied to, bullied, manipulated, and discriminated against is not. I have had my character and work ethic attacked. … The unprofessional and unethical way that I have been treated has been traumatizing. To be treated this way by an organization, BY WOMEN who are mothers, who have claimed to ‘be in these shoes,’ who preach family, chemistry, and women’s empowerment is disappointing and leaves me sick to my stomach.

“We fought for provisions that would finally support and protect player parents. This cannot now be used against me.”

According to a Chicago Sun-Times report , Parker’s meeting with the Aces took place the day after Hamby’s post.

While details of the deal are unknow, the maximum contract Parker could sign with the Aces would be just more than $183,000. The Aces would need to trade a bench player to free additional salary-cap space. Parker’s income through her WNBA salary is supplemented by sponsorship arrangements with Adidas and her broadcasting role with TNT, which might have been a factor in accepting the reduced salary.

The Sky, meanwhile, now face a challenging free-agency period that could decimate a roster coming off the winningest season in franchise history. As a free agent, longtime captain Courtney Vandersloot has been tied to both the Seattle Storm and New York Liberty. Her wife and co-captain, Allie Quigley, has been rumored to be mulling retirement since she elected not to play abroad during the WNBA offseason for the first time in her career.

Center Emma Meesseman and backup guard Julie Allemand are also uncertain to re-sign with the Sky while Azurá Stevens continues to garner interest throughout the league as a versatile stretch big. The loss of Parker leaves a gaping hole in the frontcourt, making the Sky’s negotiations with Stevens a priority.

“Candace has done so much for our franchise in her time here,” Sky coach/general manager James Wade said in a statement. “I understand her reasons for wanting to be closer with her immediate family. We wish her nothing but the best. She will always be a part of the Sky family. We will celebrate her time here as she deserves.”

For Chicago, Parker’s two years symbolized the realization of a decadeslong battle for a foothold in the WNBA.

The team fielded generational players — Vandersloot, Quigley, Copper, Elena Delle Donne, Sylvia Fowles — and flirted with playoff runs. But before Parker’s arrival, the Sky never fulfilled their potential.

To achieve the milestones the last two seasons with one of Chicago’s own only added to the poignancy of Parker’s run here.

“I’m forever appreciative of everyone in Chicago — our fans, teammates, coaches, and ownership,” Parker wrote. “But more than the past two seasons, I’m thankful to the city that raised me, the childhood friends I still have to this day, the teachers I still am learning from, and the moments in time that will forever be in my heart.”

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https://www.denverpost.com/2023/01/28/candace-parker-is-signing-with-the-las-vegas-aces-ending-a-memorable-2-year-run-with-her-hometown-chicago-sky/
Spoelstra addresses going without Lowry in fourth quarter of past two games; Heat fined $25K for inj

What the Miami Heat have accomplished in the fourth quarter of their past two games has been particularly notable, with a season-high 37 fourth-quarter points in Friday night’s victory over the Orlando Magic and three nights earlier outscoring the Boston Celtics 23-13 in the fourth quarter of that win.

What has been missing has been particularly noticeable, as well, with point guard Kyle Lowry appearing in neither of those final periods in the two home wins.

Coach Erik Spoelstra said the decisions had nothing to do with the recent knee soreness that had limited the 36-year-old veteran.

“The last game,” Spoelstra said of the victory over the Celtics, “the second unit really took over, and they deserved to play that out. I wouldn’t look into it more than that. Just what was it, three games ago? Sometimes there’s recency bias, right? He had all the big plays against New Orleans down the stretch.”

Indeed, in last Sunday’s victory that opened what turned into the 3-0 homestand, Lowry not only played as closer against the Pelicans, but scored nine consecutive points in the final period to help close out New Orleans.

Since then, Gabe Vincent has played 20 of the 24 fourth-quarter minutes while Lowry has sat, with Max Strus playing all 24 of those fourth-quarter minutes.

Lowry closed Friday night’s game with six points on 2-of-6 shooting, five assists, four rebounds and two steals in 25:08, fewest minutes among the starters.

Spoelstra said it is a matter of considering his entire rotation menu.

“We have a lot of guys, like I said, that live for those moments,” he said, with the Heat turning their attention to Sunday’s game against the Charlotte Hornets at the start of the four-game trip. “And that’s what I love about this group. But, also, sometimes, not everybody can be in at the end.

“And I have as much respect for Kyle and his pedigree in those moments over the course of his career. He’s one of the biggest clutch players in this game. So I wouldn’t look into it more than that.”

Heat fine

The NBA announced Saturday the Heat have been fined $25,000 for “failing to comply with league policies governing injury reporting.”

Jimmy Butler on Tuesday was not on the team’s injury report prior to being announced as out vs. Celtics.

It is the second time this season the Heat has been so penalized.

Victory stride

With Friday’s 110-105 game in the balance, Butler not only was reinjected into the Heat mix, but took it upon himself to get himself back in the game.

He entered with 6 minutes remaining, scoring seven of his game-high 29 points over the final 1:29.

“To be frank,” Spoelstra said, “Jimmy just walked to the scorers’ table. Because he and I have an understanding. It’s usually around just under eight. But we let it ride. Then I forgot about it, for a second. And he just like walked up and he said, ‘Who am I going in for?’ I said, ‘Well, there’s a timeout. Let me figure it out.’ "

That timeout came with those 6 minutes to play, the Heat up five at the time.

Butler figured his time had come.

“Just ‘cause normally at about like 6:45 he’s looking down there as like, ‘Jimmy check in,’ " Butler said of Spoelstra. “And he didn’t do that. So I put it on myself to walk up to the scorers’ table.

“And I don’t do that very often. I actually walked up there for no reason, because there was a timeout that was coming anyway.”

Paint production

With Bam Adebayo scoring 12 of his 20 points in the paint Friday night, he now has scored double-figure points in the paint in 30 consecutive games, the NBA’s longest active streak.

A similar such streak came to an end two nights earlier, when the Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James saw his 25-game such run end with eight paint points against the San Antonio Spurs.

Cain to G League

With the roster largely healthy, forward Jamal Cain was returned to the Heat’s G League affiliate, the Sioux Falls Skyforce, as part of his two-way contract.

Still sidelined, Duncan Robinson (finger), Omer Yurtseven (ankle) and Nikola Jovic (back) did not travel Saturday with the team to Charlotte.

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https://www.denverpost.com/2023/01/28/spoelstra-addresses-going-without-lowry-in-fourth-quarter-of-past-two-games-heat-fined-25k-for-injury-reporting/
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