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Versiune completa: Anthony Bennetts Rookie Campaign Hasnt Gone Quite As
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CLEVELAND - The NBA All-Star weekend is the unofficial halfway mark of the NBA season and to say Anthony Bennetts rookie campaign hasnt gone quite as expected so far would be an understatement. The 20-year-old rookie from Toronto, the first Canadian ever selected with the first overall pick in the NBA Draft when the Cleveland Cavaliers grabbed him in 2013, has had anything but a storybook beginning to his professional career. While the rest of the NBAs best and brightest spent their weekend in New Orleans for All-Star festivities, Bennett was just the second No. 1 pick to not be selected for the annual Rising Stars game, composed of the leagues best rookie and sophomore players since Washingtons Kwame Brown in 2001. Bennett is patient when asked about his struggles. After starting his professional career 0-for-15 from the floor, hes had to get used to talking about it. "Well, its not the way I planned it to go, I can say that," Bennett said. "Im pretty sure everything will turn around soon. Im working hard and Ive got my teammates with me. The coaching staff has been helping me a lot so Ive just got to keep my head up and go hard." While his start hasnt been ideal, Bennett has faced the music and remained calm amid pressures and criticisms coming from all angles. Speaking in the Cavaliers locker room before a recent game in Cleveland, Bennett was frank about his struggles this season, while also confident that the tide was turning. "Its overwhelming, but Im pretty level headed," Bennett said. "Ive got nice teammates who have been in the league a few years. They can tell me a lot of what theyve been through. Ive been humble, level headed and working every day." The advice from teammates and coaches is the same: keep working. A visit to the Cavaliers practice facility showed he is taking that advice to heart. Long after everyone else has left the floor, Bennett remained. Practising free throws under the watchful eye of an assistant coach, Bennett looked like any other NBA rookie. "Everybody has had their part," Bennett said of the Cavaliers organization. "Helping me with my game, shooting after practice, or pulling me aside and giving me pointers here and there. Everybody has been really helpful." Injuring his shoulder prior to the NBA Draft, Bennetts rookie season was derailed before it began. Missing the Las Vegas Summer League where rookies get their first taste of NBA life, while also being unable to train during the offseason, Bennett came into the Cavaliers training camp with extra weight to accompany the extra pressure that every first overall pick carries with him. Playing sparingly at the beginning of the season, Bennett has worked hard to shed the extra pounds and get into game shape so hes ready to go when his name is called. Last Tuesday night, in a victory against the Sacramento Kings, Bennett posted his best performance to date, recording 19 points and 10 rebounds. He followed up the next night with a two-point, two-rebound performance. Bennetts roller-coaster experience serves as a reminder of the patience necessary when drafting young players each year. With half a season behind him, Bennett is starting to get a feel for what to expect each night he steps onto the floor as a pro. "In college it would be one game, someones a seven-footer, but the next game someone is six-foot-six," Bennett said. "Everyone is pretty much the same size now. Youve got to go hard every time." In addition to staying after practice for extra work, Bennett often returns for a second session. How does the first overall pick deal with the lows that have accompanied his season thus far? With a little help from his hometown friends. "My close friends from back home, theyve been with me from the start, before this [being in the NBA], so they see my ups, they see my downs. They know what Im going through." After a game where he hasnt performed well, or even gotten the chance to get off the bench, they are the ones who help keep Bennett focused on whats in front of him. "Every time I have a bad game or am feeling down, I hit them up and they tell me to keep staying with it," Bennett said. "Theyll come out here and after bad games theyll go with me straight to the gym. Thats something thats really helpful for me and Im thankful for it." As Bennett begins to show flashes of why the Cavaliers wanted him in the first place, he isnt allowing an unexpectedly difficult beginning make him lose sight of the fact that hes living his NBA dream. "Its a huge honour. Its a blessing, you know? I just cant let this opportunity slide for me. I have to work hard every day. This is my job. I have to work hard and be happy about it." 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ATLANTA -- Hawks centre Al Horford will have season-ending surgery on Tuesday to repair his torn right pectoral muscle. Horford, the Hawks leading scorer and rebounder, suffered the injury in the first overtime of Thursday nights 127-125 double-overtime win at Cleveland. An examination on Friday in Atlanta revealed the complete tear of the muscle. Horford explored his options before deciding on the surgery. Hawks spokesman Garin Narain on Monday night confirmed plans for the surgery. Horford is averaging 18.6 points and 8.4 rebounds per game in his seventh season. He suffered a similar injury two years ago. He tore his left pectoral muscle early in the 2011-12 season, when he played only 11 regular-season gammes before returning in the playoffs.dddddddddddd Narain said Horford would not return for the playoffs this season. The loss of Horford could be difficult to overcome for the Hawks, who are third in the Eastern Conference. The Hawks have split their first two games without Horford, beating Charlotte before losing at Orlando on Sunday. Elton Brand, normally a power forward, has started the last two games at centre but played fewer than 20 minutes in each game. He had only seven points and two rebounds in 14 minutes against Orlando. The playing time of Pero Antic is also likely to increase. Antic , a 6-foot-11 centre from Yugoslavia, is averaging 3.6 points and 2.4 rebounds in a reserve role. ' ' '
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