But­ler out; virus hinted

Chicago Sun-Times - - SPORTS -

Heat star Jimmy But­ler wasn’t with the team at prac­tice Sun­day in the NBA bub­ble at Walt Dis­ney World in Or­lando, Florida, and one of his team­mates sug­gested he was quar­an­tin­ing.

The Heat said only that But­ler, who scored 22 points Satur­day against the Nuggets, had ‘‘an ex­cused ab­sence.’’ But team­mate Jae Crow­der in­di­cated it wasn’t a nor­mal day off.

‘‘We want to talk to him as soon as he gets out of quar­an­tine or what­ever he’s in,’’ Crow­der said. ‘‘It’s just a next-man-up men­tal­ity from a stand­point of stay­ing locked in and en­gaged be­cause we know he’s locked in and en­gaged once he’s able to get back with us.

‘‘It’s def­i­nitely a curve­ball for all of us to hear stuff like what’s go­ing on with him. You never know what to ex­pect.’’

Coach Erik Spoel­stra said he didn’t know whether But­ler would be avail­able to play Mon­day against the Rap­tors.

NBA dou­bling-down on safety

The NBA sent a memo to team ex­ec­u­tives, coaches and health of­fi­cers re­it­er­at­ing the im­por­tance of wear­ing masks or face cov­er­ings in the bub­ble, as well as ad­her­ing to so­cial-dis­tanc­ing guide­lines.

Teams were in­structed to share the memo with all play­ers and hold a meet­ing by Wed­nes­day to stress the im­por­tance of proper mask or face-cov­er­ing use.

The NBA has yet to an­nounce that any player has tested pos­i­tive in the bub­ble, where 22 teams are par­tic­i­pat­ing in the restarted sea­son. In the most re­cent test­ing up­date, which was re­vealed last week, the NBA said 344 play­ers had been tested with no pos­i­tives.

On the court

Russell West­brook scored 31 points, in­clud­ing the ty­ing and go-ahead free throws with 20.6 sec­onds left, and the Rock­ets over­came a mon­ster ef­fort by Gian­nis An­te­tok­oun­mpo to slip past the Bucks 120-116.

James Har­den added 24 points for the Rock­ets, who put five play­ers in dou­ble fig­ures and made 21 of the record-ty­ing 61 three-point­ers they tried.

An­te­tok­oun­mpo scored 36 points to go with 18 re­bounds and eight as­sists for the Bucks, who also got 27 points and 12 re­bounds from Khris Mid­dle­ton and 23 points and 12 re­bounds from Brook Lopez.

Jayson Ta­tum scored 34 points, Jaylen Brown added 30 and the Celtics squan­dered an early 24-point lead be­fore re­cov­er­ing to beat the Trail Blaz­ers 128-124. Ta­tum bounced back from a ter­ri­ble per­for­mance in which he shot 2-for-18 in a loss Fri­day to the Bucks.

Caris LeVert scored 25 of his 34 points in the se­cond half, in­clud­ing 14 in the last seven min­utes, to carry the Nets to a 118-110 vic­tory against the Wizards.

Till­man stay­ing in draft

Michi­gan State for­ward Xavier Till­man an­nounced he is stay­ing in the NBA Draft and giv­ing up his se­nior sea­son of col­lege el­i­gi­bil­ity. He av­er­aged 13.7 points and 10.3 re­bounds for the Spar­tans last sea­son.

KEVIN C. COX/GETTY IM­AGES

The Heat’s Jimmy But­ler gets a hand from his team­mates Satur­day against the Nuggets.

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