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Friday, December 13, 2019

Basketball

Marcus Smart blasts media for Kyrie Irving questions

Kyrie Irving Nets

The Boston Celtics recently faced the Brooklyn Nets for the first time since Kyrie Irving jumped ship, and their players been bombarded with a lot of questions about the point guard as the Celtics and Nets face off in consecutive games. That has not gone over well with Marcus Smart.

The Celtics guard criticized the media for questions about Irving after Friday’s game against the Nets, saying that it was “a slap to everybody on this team” to be forced to talk about a player who is no longer there.

Smart even includes Boston fans in his remarks, and he’s right that Irving is the main topic of conversation. Much of that is due to the circumstances that saw Irving leave. Irving told fans he was committed for the long haul, then alienated fans and teammates, and fleed to a division rival. That’s why the fan reaction was so hostile even though Irving didn’t even play in either game due to injury.

The good news for Smart is that this will probably be it for the Irving questions for a while. The two teams don’t face off again until March.

Monty Williams not sure if Suns will start Deandre Ayton upon return

Deandre Ayton

The Phoenix Suns have played themselves into the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference amid Deandre Ayton’s absence, leaving some uncertainty about how Ayton will be reintegrated into the lineup.

Appearing Friday on 98.7 Arizona Sports, Suns head coach Monty Williams said that the team is undecided about starting Ayton upon his return but added that they will “more than likely” do so.

Ayton, the former No. 1 overall pick, started at center to begin the season but drew a 25-game suspension for violating the league’s anti-drug policy by taking a diuretic. He will be eligible to return shortly before Christmas.

The Suns have started Aron Baynes and Frank Kaminsky at the 5 to fill the void left by Ayton and are currently 8-9 on the year. While Ayton has been enthusiastic about potentially playing the 4, that would require the Suns to remove one of Dario Saric or Kelly Oubre from the starting lineup, which doesn’t seem feasible with how well both have played this season.

Kyrie Irving to miss Nets’ next game against Celtics too

Kyrie Irving Nets

Kyrie Irving did not play in the Brooklyn Nets’ game against the Boston Celtics on Wednesday, and he won’t play in Friday’s game either.

The Nets released their injury report Thursday, which stated that Irving was ruled out for Friday’s rematch with Boston.

Irving has not played since November 14 due to a shoulder impingement. He suffered the injury the game before against Utah on November 12 and tried to play through it two days later with poor results.

Irving does not have a timetable for his return.

Irving will undoubtedly hear criticism for missing both games against Boston. He did not make the road trip Wednesday but nonetheless received a “coward” poster and “Kyrie sucks” chants that left him complaining on social media.

Irving’s next opportunities to face his former team will come in March. The Nets are at Boston on March 3 and host them on March 21.

Jaylen Brown offers funny quote about guarding Joe Harris

Jaylen Brown

The Boston Celtics beat the Brooklyn Nets 121-110 on Wednesday night, and Jaylen Brown did not have an easy game.

Brown scored 22 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, but he was tasked with defending Joe Harris. Harris scored 21 for Brooklyn and made five threes. Brown said Harris was running like he was running from the police.

Brown also compared Harris’ speed and endurance to that of Forrest Gump.

The Gump comparison may sound like a knock, but based strictly on running, it’s positive.

Harris has blossomed with the Nets. He’s made over 40 percent of his threes each of the past three seasons, topping out at 47.4 percent last season. Maybe his ability to outlast and tire out opponents plays a role in that.

DeMar DeRozan really does not like Instagram, social media

DeMar DeRozan

DeMar DeRozan finds himself playing in the wrong era.

Not only is DeRozan a player who doesn’t really shoot 3-pointers — which is odd for a guard these days — but he also isn’t a big social media fan.

DeRozan said after his San Antonio Spurs’ 113-101 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday night that he doesn’t like social media. The question came up because he cleared out his Instagram account to the point that he now has zero posts despite having 2.5 million followers.

Like DeRozan says, having social media these days is almost essential, especially for someone who is famous and has fans. At the same time, it can also lead to problems, such as speculation about trades based on a player’s activity. And right now, some are speculating he’s looking to start fresh. There has even been a rumor about his former team potentially reacquiring him.

If you take him at his word, you shouldn’t worry too much about his Instagram activity.

Watch: LeBron James complains to ESPN announcers about call not overturned

LeBron James

A bad call during Wednesday night’s Los Angeles Lakers-New Orleans Pelicans game led LeBron James to vent about the league’s review process.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was called for fouling Brandon Ingram with 1:22 left in the game even though replay showed KCP did not appear to touch Ingram:

KCP pleaded his case with Lakers coach Frank Vogel, who then challenged the foul call.

As the officials reviewed the replay, LeBron went over to ESPN’s broadcast crew to vent about how the referees would not overturn the call.

He was right — the call stood, and Ingram got to shoot a pair of free throws.

If that call does not get overturned, what will? The referees don’t like being wrong, which is a big explanation for the flawed review process.

Jaylen Brown: Celtics fans have no reason to boo

Jaylen Brown

Jaylen Brown is all for seeing the positive things in life and not focusing on the negative.

Boston Celtics fans were pumped for Wednesday night’s game against the Brooklyn Nets because it represented an opportunity for them to voice their frustrations about Kyrie Irving. In 2017, Irving demanded a trade away from Cleveland and wanted to go to Boston. He then told Boston prior to last season he would sign with them long term. But after a disastrous season, he instead left for Brooklyn in free agency, which fans were just as happy about after how badly the season went.

In light of the ups-and-downs with Irving, Celtics fans decided to break out a “Kyrie sucks” chant for Wednesday’s game, even if Irving was not with the Nets on the road trip due to a shoulder injury.

The Celtics won the game 121-110 and are now 7-0 at home this season. Because of the success of this year’s team, Brown does not think Celtics fans have any reason to boo or be upset.

Jayson Tatum similarly thought the chants were silly.

The chants don’t make much sense when you consider those ideas, but this is what makes fans who they are. They care about their teams. They’re passionate about rivalries. And if they feel like a player did not represent them well, they will have no problem booing them in the future. It’s important to have that, because these are the people who follow the sport and pay for tickets and merchandise.