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Zubac scores 31, pulls down 29 boards; Clippers beat Pacers

Source image: https://apnews.com/article/los-angeles-clippers-indiana-pacers-nba-sports-a349550e53a8cbfc95b75c60149bbc72

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Ivica Zubac had the best game of his six-year NBA career on Sunday afternoon. Yet, the Los Angeles Clippers center was frustrated after picking up his sixth foul late in the fourth quarter.

It’s understandable, considering Zubac was one rebound away from having the fourth 30-point, 30-rebound game in the NBA since 1981.

“I was mad at myself because I wanted to get that 30 and 30 so bad. It hurts. It’s definitely not as happy as I should be,” said Zubac, who had 31 points and 29 rebounds in the Clippers 114-100 victory over the Indiana Pacers.

“I was just mad at myself for going for it, but I just I can’t help myself. Every time I see someone trying to get away I try to block it.”

It was the third time since 1973-74 that a player has put up a 31-point, 29-rebound, 3-blocks line in a game. Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was the last to accomplish it on Feb. 3, 1978, at New Jersey.

Zubac had a career high in total rebounds and offensive boards with 12. It is also the most rebounds in an NBA game this season.

“It’s crazy. I always wanted to get a 20/20 game,” Zubac said. “It’s crazy to be mentioned with Kareem. It’s incredible.”

Zubac made a pair of free throws with 3:46 remaining for the second 30-point game of his career. But his hopes of getting the league’s fourth 30-point/30-rebound rebound game and first since 2018 ended six seconds later when he picked up his sixth foul while trying to block T.J. McConnell’s shot.

“He was just ready to go. He’s been good for us all year,” Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said. “It was great to see him rewarded with a big game like this. Guys being happy for him, looking for him in the paint and boxing out so he can rebound the ball.”

Norman Powell added 19 points and Terance Mann 14 for the Clippers, who are still without Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.

Jalen Smith scored a career-high 23 points for the Pacers, while Tyrese Haliburton added 15 and T.J. McConnell 14.

“He had a great presence around the basket and we didn’t do a good job,” Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said of Zubac. “He just dominated in there. In a situation like that we’ve got to have more than one guy helping out Myles (Turner) and we didn’t do that.”

Zubac, a sixth-year center from Croatia, also is the first Clippers player since DeAndre Jordan in 2018 to have a game with at least 20 points and 20 rebounds. Zubac is the 12th player in franchise history with a 20/20 game.

It was the second-most rebounds in a Clippers game since 1981, according to SportRadar. Michael Cage had the most with 30 in a 1988 game against Seattle.

Zubac was 14 of 17 from the field, including three dunks, and 3 of 3 on free throws in 31 minutes. He had 14 points in the first quarter, which was a career high for him in any period.

“I had 16 and 15 at halftime and I just told myself that I’m gonna try to get every rebound possible. Just being aggressive on the offensive board, I think that was a big part of that game,” Zubac said.

Los Angeles led 59-57 at halftime and was up 65-62 with 8:28 remaining in the third quarter before going on a 16-3 run over a five-minute span to break it open. Marcus Morris Sr. had six points during the run and Zubac added four.

The Clippers’ largest lead was 20 early in the fourth quarter.

TIP-INS

Pacers: Buddy Hield, who came into the game second in the league with 69 3-pointers, was 1 of 9 beyond the arc and finished with 10 points.

Clippers: Morris scored 13 points while John Wall and Moses Brown added 10 apiece off the bench.

UP NEXT

Pacers: Remain in Los Angeles to face the Lakers Monday.

Clippers: Travel to Portland on Tuesday.

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AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Source: https://apnews.com/article/los-angeles-clippers-indiana-pacers-nba-sports-a349550e53a8cbfc95b75c60149bbc72

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LeBron’s off-court legacy complements his basketball success

Mya Smiley is a student at the University of Akron thanks to an assist from LeBron James, and she is determined upon graduation to become a social worker that helps foster kids.

Her education and career path would not have been possible, the sophomore says, were it not for a scholarship and counseling that she received from the LeBron James Family Foundation. “He’s life-changing,” Smiley said.

For all his accomplishments on the basketball court — four championships, 19 All-Star Game nominations and an imminent coronation as the NBA’s all-time leading scorer — it is James’ ambitious pursuits off-the-court that may ultimately distinguish his legacy from other superstar athletes’.

James co-founded a successful media and entertainment company, bought stakes in storied professional baseball and soccer franchises and, with a big assist from product endorsements, his net worth is estimated to have grown above $1 billion. The off-court achievement that James is most proud of, he says, is working to uplift the lives of people like Smiley in his hometown of Akron.

Many athletes have excelled in one or more of these areas. But few have done all of them as well as James, who is closing in on passing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the NBA’s career scoring record.

“His goal, I believe, is to have 10% of his wealth go to causes and support communities, which is an amazing goal,” said Lisa Delpy Neirotti, a professor of sports management at George Washington University. “I would say he’s maybe above and beyond others, just on that aspiration alone.”

James is, by any measure, an overwhelming success. And he makes Smiley — one of the many people in Akron who have received financial support from his foundation — believe that she can be a success as well.

“If I did not have the LeBron program, I probably wouldn’t have ever gone to college. I would be living in a not-so-positive environment,” said the 19-year-old Smiley.

“His ability to help people’s futures,” she added, “is what makes LeBron a great person.”

James, who entered the NBA straight after high school in 2003, planned early on to use his talents, fame — and, yes, his growing financial resources — to have on impact on the world beyond basketball.

“Even before I got into the NBA, I knew I wanted to find a way to give back to my community,” said James. Although James bounced from home to home during his childhood, and experienced financial insecurity for many of those years, he also was given enormous support from friends, neighbors and educators.

The LeBron James Family Foundation, founded in 2004, at first gained local attention by giving away bikes and backpacks. Then it began looking at after-school programs, with students scattered across several dozen schools, and eventually created a public school currently serving about 575 third through eighth graders. Today the school includes a family resource center that provides a wide-range of services to parents, including mental health, financial literacy, legal aid and GED courses.

Just down the street from the school, the foundation provides rent-free housing to as many as 16 different families — when needed — and it has plans to build 50 units of affordable housing.

“I couldn’t have guessed how much it would grow,” James said in late January. “But we got here by listening and responding to our community and what they need.”

James has made over $400 million in NBA salary during his time with Cleveland, Miami and the Los Angeles Lakers. Another $100 million is on the way in the next 2-1/2 years or so.

James is a pitchman for Nike, GMC, AT&T and many more multinational companies. He owns a piece of the Boston Red Sox and Britain’s Liverpool football club. His entertainment company, SpringHill — named after the modest apartment complex he grew up in — is valued at $725 million and has produced movies for HBO and Netflix.

“He’s been a brilliant example for millions of kids, especially kids with lesser opportunity and haven’t had the same advantages as others,” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said in 2018, a sentiment he’s repeated many times since. “They see in this guy somebody who has consistently exhibited excellence in the workplace and gives them a voice and lets them know that you can speak about anything.”

James puts so much focus on giving back to Akron because of the help people there gave to him and his family. “He’s never lost sight of that,” said Michele Campbell, the executive director of James’ foundation. “I think that keeps him grounded.”

Just how down to earth “King James” really was got called into question in 2010. That’s when he went on television to announce that he was leaving Cleveland to play in Miami. Billed as “The Decision” — and broadcast on ESPN — the live event was widely ripped as egotistical. But from James’ perspective, the broadcast raised around $4 million for charity, a fact was largely overlooked.

Just a couple of years later, James would use his star power to help draw attention to a cause bigger than himself.

In the aftermath of the 2012 death of Trayvon Martin — a Black Florida teen who was wearing a hoodie when he was fatally shot by a neighborhood watch volunteer — James tweeted a photo of Heat players wearing hoodies and bowing their heads that included the hashtag “WeWantJustice.”

In 2020, James helped lead the “More Than A Vote” movement, which included registration and early-vote drives and stressed the need for people — particularly Black voters — to get to the polls to fight disenfranchisement.

Also in 2020, in the aftermath of the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd, James was one of the players calling for an end to racial inequality and police brutality.

“Everything I do,” James said late last year, “has to have a purpose.”

James has all the money and all the fame that he ever wanted or needed. His NBA records, including the scoring title, are going to last for a very long time.

As will his off-court endeavors.

“His ability to help others and put others first is what makes him a great person,” Smiley said. “Not the baskets he shot.”

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AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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Kyrgios pleads guilty to assault, has no conviction recorded

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Nick Kyrgios had suffered severe depression, suicidal ideation and insomnia in the past, a psychologist told a court on Friday when the Australian tennis star pleaded guilty to pushing a former girlfriend to the ground two years ago.

The 2022 Wimbledon runner-up pleaded guilty in the Australian Capital Territory Magistrates Court to assaulting Chiara Passari during an argument in his hometown of Canberra in January 2021.

Magistrate Jane Campbell didn’t record a conviction against Kyrgios for reasons including that the offense was at the low end of seriousness for a common assault, and was not premeditated.

Campbell described it as an act of “stupidity” and “frustration.”

Kyrgios, who was using crutches following recent surgery on his left knee, didn’t speak to reporters as he left court but issued a statement through a management company.

“I respect today’s ruling and am grateful to the court for dismissing the charges without conviction,” Kyrgios said. “I was not in a good place when this took place and I reacted to a difficult situation in a way I deeply regret. I know it wasn’t OK and I’m sincerely sorry for the hurt I caused.

“Mental health is tough. Life can seem overwhelming. But I’ve found that getting help and working on myself has helped me to feel better and to be better.”

Kyrgios’ psychologist, Sam Borenstein, said in a written report and testimony by phone that Kyrgios had suffered major depressive episodes in the past and had used alcohol and drugs to cope. Kyrgios’ mental health led to impulsive and reckless behavior.

His recent knee injury had resulted in mild to moderate symptoms of depression, but his mental health was improving, Borenstein said.

“He’s doing very well,” Borenstein said. “His mental health has improved significantly.”

Lawyers for Kyrgios had sought to have an assault charge stemming from events two years ago dismissed on mental health grounds but the application was unsuccessful.

Kyrgios had been attempting to leave Passari during an argument at 10 p.m. on Jan. 10, 2021, outside her apartment in the inner-Canberra suburb of Kingston. He called an Uber but Passari stood in the way of him closing the front passenger side door. The driver wouldn’t leave with the door open.

Kyrgios eventually pushed Passari’s shoulders backward with open palms, causing her to fall to the pavement and graze her knee, according to agreed facts read to the court.

Passari signed a police statement alleging the assault 11 months later, after her relationship with Kyrgios had ended.

His current partner, Costeen Hatzi, wrote in a character reference that she had no concerns of violence in her relationship. Hatzi was among Kyrgios’ supporters who sat behind him in court.

Kyrgios, wearing a dark suit and using the crutches for support, first spoke in court when the magistrate asked him if he could stand to enter a plea.

Kyrgios replied: “Yep, no worries, Your Honor,” as he rose to plead guilty.

In February last year, Kyrgios opened up about his performance at the 2019 Australian Open, saying what appeared to be a positive time in his life had been “one of my darkest periods.”

“I was lonely, depressed, negative, abusing alcohol, drugs, pushed away family and friends,” he wrote on Instagram. “I felt as if I couldn’t talk or trust anyone. This was a result of not opening up and refusing to lean on my loved ones and simply just push myself little by little to be positive.”

Kyrgios made further references to his mental health struggles during his runs last year to the final at Wimbledon and the quarterfinals at the U.S. Open.

After ending Daniil Medvedev’s U.S. Open title defense last September to reach the quarterfinals, Kyrgios expressed pride at lifting himself out of “some really tough situations, mentally” and “some really scary places” off the court.

The 27-year-old Kyrgios had a career setback last month when he withdrew from the Australian Open because the knee injury which later required arthroscopic surgery.

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AP tennis: https://apnews.com/hub/tennis and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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Bengals’ Joe Mixon charged with pointing gun at woman

CINCINNATI (AP) — Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon has been charged in a warrant with pointing a gun at a woman and threatening her, according to court documents.

Mixon faces a misdemeanor charge of aggravated menacing, according to the documents, which were filed Thursday in Hamilton County Municipal Court and obtained by The Associated Press. No attorney is listed for him in court records.

According to the warrant, Mixon pointed the gun at the woman and told her, “You should be popped in the face. I should shoot you, the police (can’t) get me.”

The incident occurred on Jan. 21, the day before the Bengals beat the Buffalo Bills in a divisional-round playoff game.

The 26-year-old Mixon rushed for 814 yards and seven touchdowns this season, his sixth. He also had 60 receptions for 441 yards, both career highs, and two touchdowns.

A second-round draft pick out of Oklahoma in 2017, Mixon has spent his entire career with Cincinnati and rushed for career highs of 1,205 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2021.

In 2014, when he was 18, Mixon punched a female Oklahoma student in the face, an attack captured on surveillance video. He was suspended from the football team for a year and entered an Alford plea, in which a defendant does not admit guilt but acknowledges there is sufficient evidence for a conviction. He received a deferred sentence and was ordered to perform community service and undergo counseling.

The incident hurt his standing in the draft, with several teams saying they passed on him because of concerns about his character.

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