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Celtics’ Isaiah Thomas Returns from Strained Groin

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Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens was explaining his decision to play point guard Isaiah Thomas the entire fourth quarter on Friday night against the Charlotte Hornets when he half-jokingly deadpanned, “You know, he didn’t do anything all week.”

Thomas sat out four games while rehabbing from a strained groin and missed a travel-heavy stretch for the Celtics. Limping home barely above .500 and with their confidence rattled, the Celtics needed a jolt — and Thomas, despite the obvious rust from his absence, was ready to provide it. Thomas logged nearly 35 minutes while scoring a game-high 26 points. That included playing a team-high 19 minutes, 48 seconds in the second half, while helping the Celtics rally from a double-digit deficit for a much-needed 96-88 triumph over the Hornets at TD Garden.

Source: Chris Forsberg of ESPN

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Bobby Portis Apologizes to Bulls for Mirotic Fight

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Bobby Portis has apologized to his Bulls teammates for getting into a fight that left Nikola Mirotic with facial fractures and a concussion. “He didn’t address us today, but he did address the team before so that was taken care of,” Bulls swingman Justin Holiday said after Friday’s practice.

Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg acknowledged that Portis’ apology took place during a team meeting but did not want to go into specific details about his message. “I’ll keep that between the team,” Hoiberg said, “as far as exactly what was said in that meeting.”

Source: Nick Friedell of ESPN

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Joel Embiid Still Not Cleared for Back-to-Back Games

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Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid said he has not been cleared to play back-to-back games and does not expect to be in the lineup Saturday at Toronto.

Embiid was in the starting lineup for the home opener Friday night against the Boston Celtics, scoring 11 points to go along with 14 rebounds in 28 minutes as Philadelphia lost 102-92. Asked after Friday’s game if he was OK with not playing Saturday night, Embiid replied, “Um I’m not OK with it but we have a plan in place and we have to follow it.”

Source: ESPN

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Dennis Smith Jr. Out for Next Two Games With Knee Injury

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Dennis Smith Jr. will miss at least two games due to swelling in the left knee that the Dallas Mavericks’ prized rookie point guard had surgically repaired two years ago.

Smith was a late scratch before Friday’s loss to the Sacramento Kings and will not travel with the Mavericks for Saturday’s road game against the Houston Rockets.

Source: Tim MacMahon of ESPN

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