The NBA season has almost reached the halfway point as play moves into the first week of 2023. Here’s what’s currently happening in the news from around the league.
Mitchell Tested for PEDs Following 71-point Game
In Monday’s overtime win over the Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers guards Donovan Mitchell became just the seventh player in NBA history to score at least 70 points in a game in the team’s 145-134 victory. On Tuesday morning, Mitchell tweeted that he was being tested for performance-enhancing drugs by the league as part of its random testing program.
NBA players are normally subject to four random tests during the season, with two more given during the offseason. However, Mitchell’s test coming hours after his historic night seems anything but random. His 71 points were the most since Kobe Bryant scored 81 in 2006.
The NBA said the Cavaliers’ franchise scoring record should never have happened. The league said Mitchell stepped over the line when he intentionally missed a free throw and tipped in the rebound to send the game to overtime. The basket should have been voided, giving the Bulls the win and leaving Mitchell’s point total at 56.
Pelicans’ Williamson To Miss Several Weeks
The New Orleans Pelicans got some bad news when they learned star power forward Zion Williamson will miss at least a few weeks with a strained hamstring. He suffered the injury on Monday against the Philadelphia 76ers and will be evaluated in three more weeks.
Williams was healthy coming into this season and played in 29 of New Orleans’ 37 games. He led the Pelicans to the second-best record in the Western Conference, just behind the Denver Nuggets.
The former top draft pick in the 2019 NBA draft has yet to play more than 61 games in a season. He played just 24 games in his rookie campaign and missed all last season with a fractured foot that kept him benched for longer than it should have due to a difficult recovery.
The Pelicans are already dealing with losing second-leading scorer Brandon Ingram, who has been out for the previous 18 games with a toe injury. C.J. McCollum and Jonas Valanciunas will now have to carry the offense for New Orleans until both their All-Stars are healthy.
Magic’s Wagner Begins Two-Game Suspension
Orlando Magic Forward Moritz Wagner will serve his two-game suspension starting on Wednesday for participating in an altercation with the Detroit Pistons during their game on December 28. During the first-half fight, Wagner hip-checked the Pistons’ Killian Hays into the Detroit bench.
Hayes then got up and swung his right arm, striking Wagner in the back of the head, briefly knocking him out. Wagner was ejected for a flagrant foul while two Pistons players were sent to the locker room for their part in a scuffle that followed in front of Detroit’s bench.
Wagner was initially supposed to start his suspension on December 30 against the Washington Wizards but didn’t play because of an illness. According to NBA policy, suspensions don’t begin until a player is healthy enough to play. As a result, he’ll miss Wednesday’s game against the Thunder and Thursday’s vs. the Grizzlies.
Eight more Magic players were suspended for one game for leaving the bench area during the brawl. Five have already served their suspensions, with three more joining Wagner and sitting out tonight’s contest.