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#pounditFriday, August 14, 2020

Stories by Darryn Albert:

Gregg Popovich has flattering player comparison for Nikola Jokic

Gregg Popvich is officially a believer in the Church of Nikola Jokic.

Speaking on Wednesday after his San Antonio Spurs fell to the Denver Nuggets, Popovich offered a rather flattering player comparison for Jokic.

“He’s a reincarnation of Larry Bird,” said Popovich of the Nuggets All-Star big man, per Marc Stein of the New York Times.

Jokic dropped 25 points, four rebounds, and 11 assists in the win over the Spurs. He is indeed somewhat reminiscent of Bird for his passing ability for his size as well as his unique ability as a three-level scorer.

While the compliment is obviously some very high praise from Popovich, who has seen many decades worth of elite talents on the basketball court, we probably know of a slightly better reincarnation of Larry Legend out there.

Reds take LeBron James-themed shot at Indians on Twitter

This week’s series between Major League Baseball’s two Ohio teams is getting a little personal.

Ahead of Wednesday’s game against the Indians in Cleveland, the Cincinnati Reds tweeted some action shots of their players on the field and got in a shot at the city of Cleveland, saying it was so nice that LeBron James left it twice.

The Indians then hit back by pointing out that Cincinnati didn’t even have an NBA team. The Reds replied that their NBA team had never lost a game.

James, who indeed left Cleveland for the second time in 2018 to join the Los Angeles Lakers, was actually a pretty big fan of the Indians. It is probably a lot harder to support them now that he is thousands of miles away though.

Still, The King brought Cleveland to five total NBA Finals appearances and won the city their first professional sports championship in 52 years with the Cavaliers’ 2016 title. Thus, the Indians probably aren’t sweating the Reds’ Twitter fingers too much.

Angels to give phenom Jo Adell unexpectedly large role

Baseball fans looking for a heavy dose of Jo Adell this season appear to be getting their wish.

Los Angeles Angels manager Joe Maddon said Tuesday that Adell, who was just called up from the minors and is in the lineup for their series against Seattle, will play every day, per Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports. Maddon also revealed that Justin Upton and Brian Goodwin will now platoon in the outfield.

The 21-year-old Adell, a true five-tool prospect with experience at all three outfield positions, is the team’s most heralded youngster since Mike Trout. He has hit .298 with an .878 OPS in three minor league seasons.

With Trout locked into the center field spot and Adell now getting one of the corner slots, Upton and Goodwin will stand to lose playing time (though at-bats at DH could open up depending on Shohei Ohtani’s ultimate health). The hyperathletic Adell is a walking highlight film though, so it is a tradeoff that the Angels will happily make.

Lou Williams opens up about Magic City incident

Lou Williams

Lou Williams’ detour to the Magic City strip club in Atlanta has probably been the biggest story of the NBA bubble thus far, and now the LA
Clippers guard is finally addressing the incident.

Speaking with the media Tuesday after completing his mandatory ten-day quarantine and returning to action, Williams offered a mea culpa of sorts.

“I probably could have made a better-quality decision,” he said, per Garrett Chorpening of Sports Illustrated. “I went somewhere after a viewing of somebody I considered a mentor, somebody I looked up to … At the time I thought I was making the responsible decision. After looking back on it with everything going on in the world and the pandemic, maybe it wasn’t the best quality decision. I chalk it up as that, take my L and keep moving.”

Williams, who recorded seven points and six assists during Tuesday’s loss to the Phoenix Suns, was excused from the bubble to attend a funeral but then proceeded to make the unauthorized trip to the gentlemen’s club. As part of Williams’ forced quarantine upon returning, he missed Thursday’s loss to the Los Angeles Lakers and Saturday’s win over the New Orleans Pelicans.

The 33-year-old insisted at first that he only went to Magic City to pick up food, but now we know that wasn’t entirely the case. Regardless though, the incident is now firmly behind Williams, and he can once again focus on the Clippers’ championship pursuit.

DeMarcus Cousins appears to take shot at former team Kings

There is still no love lost between DeMarcus Cousins and the Sacramento Kings over three years after their split.

The Kings lost in overtime to the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday, dropping them to 0-3 in the Orlando bubble. Right around the time that the game went final, the four-time All-Star Cousins tweeted a cryptic message in apparent reference to his old club that read, “Who’s the scapegoat now?”

Cousins, who is still recovering from a torn ACL and is currently without an NBA team, played with the Kings for his first seven career seasons before being traded to the New Orleans Pelicans in 2017. He was regularly blamed for the team’s perpetual struggles during his time in Sacramento, and some of the ugly internal clashes that he had there certainly didn’t help matters.

But the Kings still have not had a winning season since Cousins was traded and have cycled through a number of head coaches and brutal draft whiffs (e.g. Marvin Bagley over Luka Doncic) in recent seasons. Thus, Cousins is probably right to point out that the issues with the organization ran (and still continue to run) much deeper than just one person.

Raptors spoke to Terence Davis about his viral photo of mask with hole in it

Terence Davis’ viral moment this weekend was apparently concerning enough that team leadership had to have a conversation with him about it.

Toronto Raptors coach Nick Nurse said Monday that president Masai Ujiri and GM Bobby Webster spoke to the rookie guard about a photo that went viral of him wearing a mask with a prominent hole in the middle of it. Davis had arrived for Saturday’s game against the Los Angeles Lakers with the mask on, and you can see the image of it here.

The 23-year-old Davis, who is averaging 7.7 points and 3.4 rebounds in 16.9 minutes per game for the Raptors this season, had also made waves by posting coronavirus-related conspiracy theories to his Instagram Story.

The league is taking health and safety in the bubble extremely seriously, and it is especially so for the Raptors, who are looking to defend their NBA title. Davis is not the first player to get into trouble for such a display either.

Andrew McCutchen rips Marlins for not following health and safety protocols

The Miami Marlins’ outbreak directly impacted Andrew McCutchen and his team, and now the former National League MVP is airing out his frustration.

In an interview Monday with Jayson Stark of The Athletic, the Philadelphia Phillies outfielder McCutchen said that he was angry with the Marlins for not following proper health and safety protocols.

“I was upset at everything that’s transpired through that — whoever decided to step out or not necessarily follow the health and safety protocol,” he said. “That upset me. What made me angry was that we, as the Phillies — we were the ones that ended up having to pay for that. … We followed all of the health and safety protocols. We knew that was important. We understood that’s what we needed to do to be able to play this game. And we did everything right. And we paid for it.

“And so for me, that was upsetting,” McCutchen added. “I’m sitting here at home, watching 28 to 27 to 26 other teams play, and we’re sitting at home — all [testing] negative by the way. And we have to watch this happen while we did nothing wrong. So for me, that was very upsetting. It was very upsetting that we did everything right, and we were still the ones paying for it.”

Miami’s outbreak, which affected at least 20 members of their traveling party, resulted in the postponement of a week’s worth of their games and counting. It also forced the Phillies, who played them the weekend that the outbreak was discovered, out of action as well. Philadelphia’s game against the New York Yankees on Monday was their first time playing ever since.

There were some rumors that Marlins players prompted the outbreak by leaving their hotel to party, but team president Derek Jeter has denied that. Still, it is obvious that the Marlins are not too popular leaguewide right now, and especially not with those who were negatively affected by their actions like McCutchen and the Phillies were.

Doris Burke clowns her ex-husband during broadcast

Doris Burke brought the heat during Monday’s contest between the New Orleans Pelicans and the Memphis Grizzlies.

Burke was calling ESPN’s broadcast of the game when she disagreed with her broadcast partner Mark Jones about whether or not a foul should have been called on a Lonzo Ball drive to the basket. Burke quipped, “I do like being right. Ask my ex-husband.” Take a listen.

After spending many years as a sideline reporter, the 54-year-old Burke was the first woman to become a full-time analyst for national NBA games. This is now her third season in the booth for ESPN.

Burke is also a huge fan favorite, and with funny moments like this becoming a regular occurrence for her, it is very easy to see why.