San Antonio’s game in New Orleans was called off Monday night in the latest virus-related postponement for the NBA, one that came when the league determined that neither team would have enough players available.

As has been the case with most of the other games that have been postponed, contact tracing was cited as the cause. But instead of it involving just one team – as has been the case with each of the season’s previous 21 postponements prior to Monday – this one involved both clubs.

“Because of ongoing contact tracing within both the Spurs and Pelicans, neither team has the league-required eight available players to proceed with the scheduled game,” the NBA said, sending that announcement less than two hours before the planned tip-off time.

San Antonio became the 24th team to have at least one game postponed so far this season because of the virus. The Spurs played Washington — a team that went 13 days between games because of six players testing positive for COVID-19 and three others missing time because contact tracing suggested they may have been exposed to the virus – on Sunday night.

Of the 22 postponements this season, 21 have been made since Jan. 10.

The Spurs-Pelicans game being called off wasn’t the only bad news for the NBA on Monday on the virus front. The Los Angeles Clippers ruled out Kawhi Leonard and Paul George for Tuesday’s game in Atlanta in accordance with the league’s health and safety protocols.

A person with knowledge of the situation said Leonard and George may be able to return at some point during the Clippers’ four-game road trip, depending on what the NBA decides with regard to their situations. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because neither the team nor the league spoke about those cases publicly.

THE NBA, THE National Basketball Players Association and representatives from historically Black institutions met Monday to discuss how a possible All-Star Game this year could benefit HBCUs as well as COVID-19 relief efforts, said a person with direct knowledge of the conversation.

There are multiple cities being discussed as potential hosts, Atlanta among them, according to the person who spoke with The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because no details have been publicly announced. The current focus of the conversation is for an All-Star Game only, not the Rising Stars game or the typical All-Star Saturday events such as the skills competition, 3-point contest and dunk contest, the person said.

ESPN first reported the plans for a revised All-Star and Atlanta’s emergence as a potential host.

The entire notion remains fluid, based on what happens with the virus in the coming weeks. The current discussions also do not call for an arena filled with fans, but the person told the AP there have been discussions about inviting vaccinated frontline and essential workers to the game as well as the possibility of player family members.

The NBA always planned to have All-Star voting this season, whether there was a game played or not. The league has not announced when voting will start this season, but with the midseason break set to begin March 5 it would seem logical that the balloting process would have to begin soon.

MONDAY’S GAMES

NUGGETS 117, MAVERICKS 113: Michael Porter Jr. tied his season high with 30 points and Denver overcame Jamal Murray’s ejection for a shot to the groin of Dallas guard Tim Hardaway Jr. to beat the Mavericks in Dallas.

Porter was 6 of 10 from 3-point range, including a go-ahead bucket to start a decisive 7-0 run late in the fourth quarter after the Mavericks had rallied immediately following the incident involving Murray and Hardaway.

Luka Doncic had 35 points, 11 rebounds and a season-high 16 assists for his league-leading sixth triple-double. The Dallas star broke a tie for the NBA lead with Nikola Jokic, who had 20 points and 10 rebounds for the Nuggets.

Denver was setting up on offense early in the second half when Murray stumbled backward after colliding with Hardaway. Murray got up and reached between Hardaway’s legs with his right arm, prompting Hardaway to double over.

The official closest to the contact blew the whistle to stop play with 4:51 left in the third quarter and conferred with the other referees. The initial call was a foul on Murray, and it was upgraded to a flagrant-two foul on a video review.

Denver Coach Mike Malone said he asked crew chief Zach Zarba for an explanation, and Zarba told him the replay was “fairly obvious.”

“There was a lot of physicality between those two,”  Malone said. “They came out very aggressive in the third quarter, which we knew they would. Hopefully it’s nothing more than Jamal getting ejected tonight and we can just use it as a learning experience.”

PISTONS 119, 76ERS 104: Delon Wright scored a career-high 28 points and Wayne Ellington had another impressive shooting night as Detroit beat Eastern Conference-leading Philadelphia.

Jerami Grant scored 25 points for the Pistons (4-13), who still have the NBA’s worst record but took advantage of Joel Embiid’s absence. The Philadelphia star was out with back tightness. Detroit acquitted itself well in this two-game mini-series with the 76ers. Philadelphia needed a big game from Embiid to prevail 114-110 on Saturday night.

The Pistons never trailed in the rematch. Ellington scored 20 points, shooting 6 of 9 from 3-point range. It was his fifth straight game with at least four 3s, tying a team record set by Joe Dumars in 1998-99.

MAGIC 117, HORNETS 108: Nikola Vucevic scored 28 points and rookie point guard Cole Anthony added a career-high 21 points as Orlando beat visiting Charlotte.

Orlando snapped a two-game losing streak and bounced back from squandering a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter a night earlier in a loss to the Hornets.

On Monday, Orlando led by as many as 20 points in the third quarter and took an 11-point lead into the fourth before Charlotte made a charge. The Hornets closed within 101-94 and later 115-108, but the Magic were able to hold their division rivals off behind the stellar play of Vucevic. The 7-footer also had 12 rebounds for his 13th double-double of the season.

PACERS 129, RAPTORS 114: Malcolm Brogdon scored a career-high 36 points and Myles Turner scored 11 of his 21 in the final 8 1/2 minutes as Indiana Pacers pulled away from visiting Toronto.

Brogdon also had nine assists and seven rebounds, a day after his poorest game of the season. Jeremy Lamb matched his season-high with 22 points as Indiana earned a split in the two-game set against the Raptors. The Pacers won this one despite losing All-Star forward Damontis Sabonis to a bruised left knee in the first half.

Toronto was led by Fred VanVleet’s 25 points and six rebounds. Norman Powell scored 24 points.

LAKERS 115, CAVALIERS 108: LeBron James scored 21 of his 46 points in the fourth quarter with a variety of dazzling shots and plays only he seems to make, leading Los Angeles over Cleveland as the defending NBA champions improved to 10-0 away from home.

Anthony Davis added 17 points on the eve of the one-year anniversary of Lakers legend Kobe Bryant’s tragic death in a helicopter crash.

NETS 98, HEAT 85: James Harden and Kevin Durant each scored 20 points despite three quiet quarters, and Brooklyn broke away with a big run in the fourth to win in New York.


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